Saturday, January 31, 2009

Social Service Terrorists

I may just have mentioned it before. And I may just mention it again: I became a grandfather recently. No need to congratulate me; it was easy.

Social workers in Edinburgh have taken two small children away from loving grandparents – Mum is a heroin addict – and placed them with a gay couple for adoption.

Gran and Grandad have spent all their savings challenging the decision to put them into care in the first place. Now that the kids are with a gay couple, Gran and Grandad have been told that, if they continue to fight, they will lose all access to their grandchildren.

Even Andrew Pierce – gay columnist at the Daily Telegraph – regards it as outrageous: ‘This case, even by the standards of what we have come to expect from social services, is shameful.’ And he continues, ‘Not because the adopters are two gay men but because they are strangers. The children not only lose their mother but are then torn from a warm embrace they know and trust.’

I almost agree with Pierce. It would still be a shameful decision if these kids were placed with a married, loving, experienced, heterosexual parents. But the truth is: it wouldn’t happen. This kind of decision is only ever taken in order to fulfil the perverted PC standards of Social Service departments which in practice argue, not that gays have equal rights to everyone else but that they have more rights than everyone else. That, and that alone, is the reason why Gran and Grandad aren’t allowed to argue anymore. Plainly, anyone who is remotely unhappy about placing two children with two gay men isn’t a fit human being, never mind a fit grandparent.

And the Mum? She said: “I did not under any circumstances want my children to be placed with gay men. I wanted them to have a mum and a dad. I have nothing against gay people. I’ve got gay friends, but children need a mum and a dad.” Be careful, dear; even if by heroic effort you conquer your heroin addiction, SS Big Brother may well not allow you to be a Mum ever again if you continue to spout such filth…
Social Service Terrorists: where's Jack Bauer when you need him?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Killed anyone recently?

Most of my readers are Christians. (Actually, all the ones I know about.) That means they're pro-life - anti-abortion, not to be mealy-mouthed about it. (I mean, who isn't 'pro-life'?) So that means we're murderers-in-waiting. How do I know? The BBC says so, and the BBC is famous for its accuracy. Isn't it great to have such a wonderful broadcasting service to serve us!
To the Jew first…

(Here's another go at posting this post, this time without frills. Will those who let me know they couldn't see it, please let me know if they can see this?)

I was recently asked ‘Do you believe that the gospel is to the Jews first?’ It’s a bit like being asked ‘Do you believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit?’ or ‘Do you believe that a Christian can fall from grace?’ The answer to both those questions is ‘Yes, of course, because the Scriptures speaks of both’ (for example, Matthew 3:11, Galatians 5:4). But a fuller answer to those questions may well be ‘But I probably don’t think those phrases mean what you think they do!’

Do I believe the gospel is ‘first for the Jew’? Yes, the Scripture says so - once:

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

But a fuller answer would be ‘But I may well not think the phrase means what you think it does!’

There are two other uses of the phrase ‘first for the Jew’, and they’re both in the same passage:
Romans 2:9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;
Romans 2:10 but glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

If we take all three uses of the phrase together – which is not unreasonable since they’re in the same letter – it seems most natural that ‘first’ in this context means little (if anything) more than ‘both’: the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, both for the Jew and for the Gentile; there will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil, both for the Jew and for the Gentile; there is glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good: both for the Jew and for the Gentile.

Why do I say that? Because context is king. What is Paul doing in the early chapters of Romans? He is establishing that both Jews and Gentiles are sinners, and both Jews and Gentiles are to be saved by Christ. He is far from arguing that the Jews have a priority; he is arguing that they are in the same boat!

‘Well,’ says someone, ‘The Jews are the covenant people of God’ (see for example the excellent Peter Parkinson: ‘The Jews are still the elect of God; he hasn’t withdrawn his covenant.’ (Accessed at on January 20th 2009). But who says God has not withdrawn his covenant? Certainly not God: ‘By calling this covenant ‘new’ he has made the first one obsolete, and what is obsolete and ageing will soon disappear,’ (Hebrews 8:13). How can 'obsolete' mean 'still in force'?

I don’t want to be too dogmatic on any of this: I realise that there are godly men on ‘the other side’ here. I am aware that the Scriptures can be read as if the Jews have a priority, a superior right. Peter Parkinson again in the same article says ‘The Jewish people have the greatest right to hear and receive the gospel because Christianity is uniquely theirs.’ But it is wrong, altogether, to talk about a ‘right’ to hear and receive the gospel. No-one has a right to it, not Jew, not Gentile. The gospel is always free grace. If God in his mercy arranges that one community shall hear the gospel, that is God’s free and amazing grace to that community. If a neighbouring community never gets to hear the gospel, God has not violated their rights. Remember, Jesus compared the privileges of Capernaum with the lack of privilege enjoyed by Sodom: ‘And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day,’ (Mt. 11:23). Has Sodom a right to complain? No. Why not? For none of us have a right to the free grace of God.

But: though I am aware that the Scriptures can be read as if the Jews have a priority, I am increasingly persuaded that (like infant baptism, for example) it is something that is being read into the Scripture, not derived from it.

Perhaps the difference looks like this. Those who believe that Jews have a priority speak as if salvation is for Israel, and God also welcomes Gentiles. I believe, on the other hand, that salvation is for the world, and God used Israel to bring it. So God said to Abraham when he was still Abram ‘All peoples on earth will be blessed through you,’ (Genesis 12.3). God’s choice of Abram, and then of Israel, was in order to bring blessing to the world. He did not bring blessing to the world in order to exalt Abram, or Israel. In fact, that idea would put Abram/Israel in the place that belongs to Jesus Christ: for God brought salvation to the world in order that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’

Is Jewish evangelism important today?
Of course it is. They are a people group. They are a uniquely knowledgeable people group, and privileged in that sense. And there are promises still to be fulfilled about the salvation of Israel. (Unfinished; comments welcome)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Is atheism dead?

First , noted atheist philosopher Antony Flew changed his mind and admitted there's a God.

Then, we had Matthew Parris within a whisper of saying 'Although I am an atheist, Christianity is obviously true - I just don't want anything to do with it.'

Now, Melanie Phillips reports that even Dawkins admits that a good case can be made for a God.

Atheism has always been a superstition held by a very small minority. It won't be missed.
(Photo copyright and used with permission)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Doctor Who - The Truth

At last, the New Doctor has been announced, and not everybody is happy about it. Libby, I did my best.

Perhaps it's time to tell the truth about that photo. The truth is, I didn't apply for the job at all. But the story is an odd one - at least I think so. I was on my way to preach in York where Mark Troughton is pastor; Mark is son of the second (and greatest) Doctor Who - Patrick Troughton. I'd never met Mark but knew who he was.

Imagine my surprise then when I stopped at a petrol station just near to the church for a little 'personal comfort' and found myself outside the Tardis - picture attached. I know these things were supposed to be on every street corner once upon a time, but I had never actually seen one before. But perhaps Mark still uses his Dad's old 'car' to get to church?

Question (and answer) for British Christians. Two men are known in Britain simply as 'The Doctor'. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is one. Who is the other?

And another question. Back in the halcyon days of William Hartnell, the Tardis was malfunctioning, which was how it always looked like a police box, wherever it travelled. Is it still malfunctioning? Or is there now some other excuse?