More days of crisis?

The Supreme Court made a ruling this past week making same-sex marriage a (US) nation-wide right. Although not all Supreme Court justices were in agreement the ruling was passed on a ‘constitutional’ issue. One of the very interesting responses I have read came from an evangelical scholar and NT professor at one of America’s prestigious seminaries. You can read his response here:

J.R. Daniel Kirk’s Storied Theology site

He is clearly against same-sex marriage as theologically ‘correct’, yet is convinced the decision is the right one. This makes for interesting reading, and is provocative, not only on this issue but on a host of other issues, where one’s Christian beliefs cannot be imposed on the wider ‘secular’ society.

In this short post I want to push a few other angles in response to this, and other situations we face / think we might face in the future.

Laying on one side the rights / wrongs on this particular ruling, but assuming that ‘more persecution’ is on its way, could it be that such results are the answer to prayer, and not the victory of those who oppose our faith? If we long for NT realities why should we not be ready to receive those realities in a NT context, which was one of severe opposition to the faith-claims of those first-century believers. Jesus both promised us opposition and he also prayed that we would not be taken out of the world by the Father (another goodbye rapture prayer by our Lord!!).

  • Marriage & divorce

For some people I am ironically on what might be considered the more liberal end of the divorce / remarriage spectrum. I am there for two reasons – I am convinced that is the NT perspective, with the automatic provision in Jewish law for being divorce and remarriage. The purpose of divorce was in order to have a document that meant the person with the document was clear to re-marry. The only debate was over ‘for what reason’ a divorce could take place. I am also at the ‘liberal’ end of this because I believe the Scriptures are at the ‘totally for’ end on marriage. ‘Till death parts’ is so strong that the disciples’ dismay was not over ‘who can bear to be single’ but ‘who can live out marriage?’

The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” (Matthew 19:10).

The church has been guilty of minimising marriage. There is very little ‘fear’ about entering marriage. If the door in is easy then we will forever be trying to secure the exit door. If the door in is a narrow one and we have to weigh up whether we wish to live with the restrictions within then there is no need to try and shore up the exit door in the way we have. (And thank God for grace and that God’s way is redemptive not legalistic. Hence the mess inside and outside the Christian community.)

So we face a huge issue where we have to hold our hands up high. The Christian community has been over-active in redefining marriage. Till death parts becomes, ‘until no longer convenient’; faithfulness gets reduced to not appearing in the wrong bed.

  • Judgment on the nation

And what about the fear that such decisions to legitimise same-sex marriage will bring judgment on the nation. Well it is interesting that they were not on the list Jesus himself gave when assembling the nations before him (see yesterday’s post). The judgment there was on how we treat and respond to the ‘other’. That is an interesting take on the current legislation.

  • Legally required to carry out same-sex marriage

And what about being legally required to carry out same-sex marriages as clergy? That is an issue and one that will have to be faced. Being asked to go against one’s conscience is a no-go area, though we also need to ask if our conscience is selective on what issues do not comply with my personal, as opposed to faith in Jesus, beliefs.

What if there are deeper issues being exposed here? What if the church should not be an institution, should not have ordination, people should not be ‘licensed’. Of course my personal beliefs kick in here, but maybe there is a huge opportunity to revisit how the church – institutional or not – is to align itself to and within the state.

Days of crises? They certainly are. Might just be important that we identify what the crises are rather than assume what they are. If we do then the days of crises could become the doors of opportunity.

Days of crisis?

Greece-LightningI was struck by the photo on an internet news page this morning – a photo of Athens and lightning above the ancient Acropolis, with the headline ‘Greek Crisis: ATMs run Dry’.

Of course there are many stories as to why the crisis. A northern European one, and an internal one from Greece itself. Stories – we all need those to make sense of what is happening. The outcome though is likely to be huge crisis of hunger and poverty. Some 25 years ago I saw long lines of people waiting for food hand outs – and the image was in Western Europe. Well we are there right now and have been for a few years. Travel to Valencia, see a prospering city, but travel to another part of the city and you can see a line maybe a few hundred metres long waiting for food.

The huge crisis of our time is how we as peoples (nations) respond to the criteria set by Jesus:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.

How we respond to the hungry, the thirsty, the refugee, those who are sick and those in prison was the criteria he set.

Yes there is a crisis – a crisis for Greece financially, but a huge crisis worldwide. Are we now facing that judgment of Matthew 25? Is it simply a future judgment, or could it also be a present one? The financial crisis will also bite deeper here in Spain. Will we rush to the ATM to get out what we can? Does the Gospel encourage wisdom of stewardship – or when does ‘wisdom’ simply become fear. And when, like Jesus, do we wisely choose to lose money to break strongholds so as others can go free?

And back to the image. Steve Lowton walked with a team to Rome in 2005 to mark a shift for Europe and the end of the ever-increasing length of the night over the continent. Walking to mark the beginning of a new time. From Rome they continued East, the next ‘big’ place of course was Athens. That walk is chronicled in the book: Footprints Through The Gates of Europe. Here is the summary of it:

This is a chronicle of a journey that began on the rugged cliffs of Whitby in North England, and came to a conclusion in the historic setting of Jerusalem, the most contested of cities. Over fifty different people joined the journey as we walked through the global gateways of London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Istanbul, Damascus and Jerusalem. Believing in the power of prayer and the redemptive purposes of their Maker, these journeymen and women pick up the tale of the cities and people they encountered, finding the storyline of their own lives woven into the fabric of these wonderful nations.

The image on the cover was taken from an actual photo as they walked on from Athens. That image might look strangely familiar

Footprints What lies ahead for Greece and Europe? Footprints have walked this continent for decades, for centuries. We often reflect on the Pauline journeys that took him step by step to Athens and on to Rome. Burning with one passion, Caesar cannot claim the title of ‘lord’, the Pax Romana is a false peace, there is an alternative king and therefore a different basileia, one that is truly the kingdom of God.

There was a crisis in Paul’s day. Maybe the NT will become more real for us as we find our context being increasingly one of crisis?

Maybe I will follow this up tomorrow with a few comments on the (US) Supreme Court ruling this past week. For some that is a crisis… maybe the big opportunity is how do we respond to crises – real and perceived?

About this site

I am the main contributor to this site, though there are guest writers from time to time. Hopefully, what is presented are perspectives not the final word!

I am currently developing a part of the site with a focus on the 'gates of society'. That section will develop more as a forum with links to other articles, so that it becomes a resource for the future. I will also be looking for other contributors into the various subject-areas.

In my spare time(!!) I enjoy putting together wordpress sites, and also coaching people to make their own - open to hearing from you on that too.

Magazine articles

Just some more blogs? No, of course not, nothing even similar... well maybe very similar indeed, but hopefully you can use them differently. At the foot of this home page you will find 10 more blogs, these ones are grouped together, they will only be replaced every few months with a new set of 10. They can be downloaded as an emagazine, or read here as blogs (click on one and read, or use the 'emagazine' link in the menu above). Here on this site you can also add your comment.

Their core focus will be toward the gates of influence in society. They will not be the final word, hopefully provocative with some practical aspects thrown in.

The first four volumes will be uploaded here in quick succession, after that a breather before the next one. You can access earlier volumes from the emagazine page using the menu at the top of this page.

So you see - nothing like a blog!!

WordPress design

I develop WordPress based web-sites specifically made for your site. This site here is based on WP and uses a theme that I have developed. It can be as simple as a set of posts and some pages, or a few additional elements can be added such as this animated set of tabs that are activated here. I also plan the sites so that they are mobile-friendly, being responsive, they adjust to the device being used to view them.

If interested in a site feel free to make contact. I also have various courses on WP theme development. If interested in taking one of them online, or indeed you would wish to contact me about presenting a course to a small group.

Previous posts

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Flying Home

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Our few kilometres

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Magazine Articles

Editorial Vol 2.1

In this issue there are a number of articles to respond to. Dyfed reviews Roger Mitchell’s thesis Church, Gospel & Empire. Roger’s book is his thesis so we should not expect it to be an easy read, however, with Dyfed’s review I think the book will be accessible for most. In a recent blog Roger […]

When is a Gate not a Gate?

It is a simple question. Should religion be treated as a gateway in the model of the city that we explore on this blog? Martin and I have both, perhaps instinctively, said no. Then Martin invited an article on the topic: then I got to thinking: then, well, you’ll see.

Ownership, stewardship & forgiveness

“So the business leaders of today are not capitalists in the sense in which Arkwright and Rockefeller were capitalists. Modern titans derive their authority and influence from their position in a hierarchy, not their ownership of capital. They have obtained these positions through their skills in organisational politics, in the traditional ways bishops and generals […]

It’s the Economy stupid!

So much talk about the economy, but what is the economy? Is it just pounds and pence? Dollars and Euros and cents? The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “the system of trade and industry by which the wealth of a country is made and used.”

W.I.L.D. voices for the poor and the powerless

For some time I have been wrestling with the issues of money, care for the poor and how our present western economic system seeks to support people in need. As a community at Antioch, Llanelli we have a focus on ‘God’s presence and the poor’ and over many years see the day to day pressures of folks who are increasingly struggling financially in these challenging times.

Church, Gospel & Empire: a review

‘How is it that the best of church experience in both traditional and radical expressions tends to relapse to hierarchical domination and control?’ This is Roger Haydon Mitchell’s chilling question in his introduction to his newly published PhD thesis, Church, Gospel & Empire.

Art shaping culture

It has been received wisdom for a while now that economic power is shifting from the old world to the new world. Continental Europe is faced with tremendous headwinds to do with spiraling social costs and an ageing population that means growth over the next 100 years will be hard to come by. In the developing world on the other hand very low wage rates and high worker motivation are combining to create a compelling long term argument for excess growth rates and wealth creation for those markets.

Values: unelectability

I watched a film recently ‘Ides of March’. A film looking at people on the campaign trail. The governor has sex with the intern (definitely a big ‘no’ in the film)… However, the areas that were far more challenging though were to do with the ethics of winning votes. One example were meetings with fellow politicians to gain their endorsement. Making a deal so that votes could be guaranteed – in return a position in the forthcoming government.

Wealth: redefinitions

Definitions of course have their limitations, but I was provoked and challenged when sitting listening to a Zimbabwean speak. His question to us was to consider what are we were investing into. To help us he used the two phrases of ‘artificial’ and ‘creational’ wealth. One he said was how the (industrialised) West defines wealth, but is illusionary. This he, therefore, termed ‘artificial’.

Come back Christian nation

Abortion, gay marriage, Sunday trading (sorry, strike that one off, as we like that now)… All evidence that we are losing it. The ‘look, once we could see Cathedrals and church spires on the landscape, now Mosques are where churches once stood’ type of statement are all laments about what is disappearing.