Trying to make sense of Gaza

Here…is a brief attempt to analyse what this recent outbreak of fighting between Israel and Gaza has been about – with four clues which help me to make sense of the big picture….As we watch this terrible tragedy unfold…we should be praying for all who, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, ‘hunger and thirst to see right prevail’ and seek to be peace-makers.

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The Holy Land – Recollection, Hope and Reality

If Christians are deeply divided on the Holy Land, Evangelical Christians are more divided than most. In nearly a decade at the Evangelical Alliance, I helped steer it through a number of controversies which seriously threatened its unity — from debates on homosexuality to the nature of hell, from the Toronto Blessing to prosperity teaching, from penal substitutionary atonement to identificational repentance. Yet of all the conferences and ‘summit meetings’ I organised to broach such vexed questions, the tensest and most volatile was that day meeting in June 2003 on how Christians should regard the state of Israel, and on how they should understand the condition of the Palestinian people in relation to it.

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Why evangelism is always non-negotiable

A diocesan bishop told me recently about a congregation that had decided that it was not “called” to evangelism at that particular time, but would reconsider it in five years. “Why do they think it’s an option?” he asked. “If they had decided they weren’t called to worship, they would have expected me to turn up on the door the next day insisting that, because they were a Christian church, this wasn’t an option for them. Why do we not grasp that evangelism is a non-negotiable?”

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Carey, Death and Experience

There is a large, hidden question behind Carey’s comments, and it is a question behind the key ethical issues of our day, including the related debate (as much as there is one) about abortion, but particularly in the debate about sexuality. That question is the role of experience. Carey and others are basing their case on their own experience, in this case of encounters with those suffering and facing death, and the experiences of those they have met. And in the discussion these experiences are presented as the end of all argument. If this is my experience, how can you argue against it?

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False Steps in the Assisted Dying Debate

As we approach the House of Lords’ debate on Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, it is clear that there is a concerted attempt to undermine the church’s traditional opposition to laws enabling the killing of the suffering and dying. What follows offers the briefest of sketches of some of the main false steps in recent Christian arguments.

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Can we pray for the dead?

To encourage and enable commemoration of the First World War, the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England recently produced a number of resources. They raise an interesting issue for evangelical Anglicans – what do we think about praying for the dead?

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