“What is this that God has done to us?” (Genesis 42:28)
People expect to be rewarded for doing right, and to suffer when they harm others. Religions teach that this will happen in the next life if not in this one, whether that’s understood as eternity or reincarnation. Does the Bible teach this?
You can certainly find cases of people who felt like this. Joseph’s brothers believe their past has caught up with them when they find themselves in an Egyptian prison:
Continue reading “Does the universe repay us as we deserve? (Genesis 42:21–28)”
The gospel is the one message the church must embody. Why don’t Aussies find it credible?
There was a time when the church held powerful influence in Western society. Bishops were on the chessboard, and in the House of Lords.
Today, Australians have told us they don’t belong under that influence anymore. It’s time to review our belief and practice, to ask if we have misrepresented our God or misused our influence.
Continue reading “The incredible message”
Our role: kneading or feeding?
Matthew 16 6 Jesus told them, “Look out! Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
If you want dough to rise, why punch it down? Who figured out you could aerate a loaf by punching the air out of it? Continue reading “How the kingdom rises (Matthew 16:5-12)”
Let’s play a memory association game. If I say sunny, what word comes to mind? A sunny day? A sunny beach? If I say dark, what word springs to your mind? A dark night? A dark feeling? If I say the word sin, what comes to mind? Oh, you don’t want to play anymore?
Followers of Jesus associate sin with feelings of failure and fear. It brings to mind that accusatory list of my misdemeanours and crimes. That’s a totally inadequate way to think about sin — as if it’s all about me.
The world was already in trouble long before you were born and added your bit. If you think of sin as the need for some personal forgiveness for yourself, you haven’t begun to grasp what the problem is. Continue reading “The good news, without the blame”
Do we need to make people feel guilty to proclaim the gospel?
Guilt was an important message of the Medieval church. The church declared people’s guilt. You had to confess your sins to the church, and the church had the power to give absolution. The church would determine the penance you needed to perform as an expression of your repentance. The church decided your eternal destiny (heaven or hell) because it held the keys to kingdom. Paying money to the church may even shorten the after-life purification needed before a relative could be accepted into heaven (via purgatory). A cynic could describe the church was a large corporate entity that traded in guilt.
In October 1517, a priest named Martin Luther challenged the authority to the church to determine people’s guilt. That was central to his 95 Theses, e.g.: Continue reading “On gospel and guilt”