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What I Learned from Thirty-five years of Running Evangelistic Courses

In the 1980s, when I was just out of school, the assistant minister at my church invited me to take part in a new evangelistic course he was going to run called Christianity Explained. It has just come out, was based on Mark, and sought to explain the gospel to non-believers over six sessions. I was a keen Christian, very engaged with anything to do with outreach, a little chuffed that the assistant minister wanted me to be involved, and so readily agreed.   35 years has given me the opportunity to reflect on what has changed and what’s stayed...

Bible Contradictions? A Response to Bart Ehrman

‘Just read the text,’ cries biblical studies author (and skeptic) Bart Ehrman again and again during his lecture Are the Gospels Historically Reliable? The Problem of Contradictions. Bart Ehrman puts forward some difficult passages … But a moment or two of thinking erased many of the contradictions. So, I did read the text. And, what I found is that Bart Ehrman puts forward some difficult passages for believers. But what I also found is that a moment or two of thinking erased many of the contradictions. Some of the contradictions were so fragile that it made me wonder if Bart...

Cleo Smith and the Failure of Secular Morality

On the morning of Wednesday, November 3rd, Australia breathed a sigh of relief. Four-year-old Cleo Smith—who mysteriously went missing from her family’s tent 18 days earlier—was found alive and well. She was found in the house of a man named Terrance Darrell Kelly, who has since been charged with kidnapping Cleo. The response to Cleo’s rescue was what you would expect: relief, combined with moral outrage that someone would kidnap a child. Indeed, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in today’s Australia who thought kidnapping a child was acceptable. Everyone agrees that kidnapping Cleo was an evil action. But...

We’re all Talking – But is Anybody Listening?

In her fascinating book You’re Not Listening: What you’re Missing and Why it Matters, journalist Kate Murphy talks about how our facial expressions and body language typically carry more than half the emotional content of a message.  Our facial expressions and body language typically carry more than half the emotional content of a message. It’s an important consideration for those of us who use social media—particularly those who tackle sensitive topics there. Even if we do communicate more carefully—knowing our words will be read, not heard or seen—the medium has serious limitations, not least because of our own bad habits:  At work, we’re taught...

Who are You to Judge?

“Religion poisons everything and causes wars.” When I was in my 20s, my peers took that statement for granted. Everybody ‘knew’ that belief in the supernatural was infantile. Everybody ‘knew’ that science had disproved the existence of the supernatural (which it can’t—human science is great, but can only investigate the natural world), and that religion was therefore, at best, a fun hobby to keep you entertained. Everybody ‘knew’ that the whole world would ‘progress’ to ‘evolve’ out of religion, into the peace and freedom of atheistic secularity. We all imagined no religion—it was easy when we tried, because of the...

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