In recent years, we are seeing the rise of what many have termed ‘neo-Marcionism’. Marcion was a 2nd century heterodox bishop who believed that the God we meet in the pages of the Old Testament was a different God to the one we encounter in the New Testament. For him the OT God was a nasty, vindictive, uncivilised brute, whereas the NT God was a kindly, compassionate, loving God.
My name is Tim… and I am wee – some might say “tiny” even; ‘Tiny Tim’, if you will. On every other day of the year this would be a wholly unremarkable observation. One day a year, however, it becomes a powerful message, for it
Suffering and sorrow are not in themselves evils… rather, they are the consequence and the response to evil.
It is therefore beside the point to call God unloving or evil for allowing suffering, as if this made him the architect of evil. Suffering/sorrow and evil, while interrelating realities, are not the same reality; to say that
Based on both common perception and the media and cultural narrative, one might think that attitude to the poor is one of the chief markers highlighting the divide between left and right, non-religious and religious. Actually, what we find is that the opposite is true; no other issue reveals our solidarity and affinity with one another than our attitude to the poor.
At least for homosexuals who don’t believe in God, the critical concern in their contact with Christians who hold to a conservative theology (ie. who don’t believe that same-sex desire/intercourse is part of God’s original plan for creation) is not the question of whether their homosexuality will send them to hell.
Think about it: if they don’t believe that God, heaven or hell exist, then this particular question can’t be a ‘real’ concern that grinds against them and causes their hackles to rise whenever they meet a Christian believer.
No, the real concern (at least in most cases) is surely:
Even – perhaps especially – when an ‘opponent’ of yours dies, it is right to honour their memory. In life, someone may have taken on the role of persistent sparring partner or even sworn enemy but in death they are always your fellow human being.
Less than two years ago I had the honour of watching Christopher Hitchens dismantle a rather bumbling Catholic philosopher at a debate in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. At the book-signing afterwards, I brushed past him as he passed by me on a quest for a glass of whiskey; his cancer diagnosis
My devotion to Steve Jobs and all things Apple is well known amongst my friends, family and acquaintances; call it an overflowing of enthusiasm, call it a an character flaw, call it disturbing cultish behaviour, it has been an ever-present part of my life for as long as I remember.
I would like to believe, however, that my devotion, while at times excessive, disturbing and verging on the idolatrous, is not ‘completely’ blind. Take for instance last week’s article in the New Yorker on Apple’s new HQ in Cupertino. It doesn’t take a genius to observe that both in terms of size and design, the whole project smacks of hubris. This hubris of course is built into the company’s self-image at the deepest level, from the allusion to Adam and Eve’s original sin in the logo to the incessant repetition of “i” and “me” in all of their products. There is not even any attempt to disguise it through some sort of illuminati-style symbolism.
Yet this latest plan takes this ostensibly ‘playful’ sales pitch to a slightly more sinister place. One of the
The freedom of the human will “is” a reality… but it is always relative to the domain in which the human subject resides. Thus a sinful human can only choose from amongst a variety of sinful options, for these are the only ones his dominus (the devil) offers. This is why regeneration (the enlightening and animating work of the Holy Spirit) must precede faith in Jesus. (Col 1:13; 2 Cor 4:6; Isa 9:2; Gen 1:3)
Everyone knows that in real life fairy-tales and politics don’t mix… recent events in the UK notwithstanding. But they should.
To understand why, we need to start a bit further back – with anthropology. Reformed theology regards the Bible’s teaching on anthropology as being reducible to the following idea: since the Fall of humankind into sin, the power of “contrary choice” (the ability to choose between ethically righteous and ethically sinful options) has been taken away and replaced with “alternative choice” (the ability to choose among various sinful ethical options).
This reality is made manifest through our politics.
There is a gospel according to Tim. It is might speak about a Christ and his death on a cross for my sake, but it flows from a God created in my image, who conforms to my own sinful likes and dislikes, my flawed personality and my pride-ridden insecurities… and if you follow it, it will send you straight to hell.
There is also a gospel according to (insert your name here). It too will probably speak of a Christ and his death on a cross for your sake, but it will look different to the gospel of Tim. Let’s say that due to my personality, I am the kind of guy who