Snippets from the interweb (4th July 2021)

Should Christians stay in the Methodist Church now?

David Robertson writes about the recent affirmation and changes to doctrine in the Methodist church, asking whether Christians can stay in the denomination. See also my comments on this here.

Don’t read providence like scripture

‘There is a subtle and profound danger in confusing the book of Providence (what God sovereignly does) and the book of Scripture (what God clearly says). As God’s people, we would be foolish to ignore God’s work in this world through ordinary, everyday means. Amen, our God is always at work. However, we would also be unwise to interpret that work with a crystal ball hermeneutic. Our life circumstances are not a series of Christian tarot cards giving us a glimpse into God’s secret plan, if only we would be spiritual enough to see it. Unlike God’s Word, God’s actions are often mysterious, and intentionally so.’

The underappreciated blessing of duty

‘Duty has become something of a dirty word in Christian circles. It shouldn’t be. ‘“duty” means more than just “doing something you don’t want to do.” I would define duty as “external responsibility.” Something outside of yourself that has a claim on how you live your life. Now, you can “do your duty” either joyfully or begrudgingly. Christians should be in the joyful group. But I don’t think it is debatable that the Bible gives a standard of duty that promises a joyful life. It is a set of responsibilities that starts with Jesus and the gospel and permeates to every aspect of a Christian’s life.’

The turning tide of intellectual atheism

This is a fascinating article: ‘Not so long ago, the atheists who retreated to their Darwinian towers and bricked themselves up to fire arrows at the faithful wanted to be there. Their intellectual silos were a refuge from faith because they didn’t want Christianity to be true. They hated it and thought we’d be better off without it. Like Hitchens, they were thrilled to find arguments that permitted them to reject it. Increasingly, some intellectuals from across the disciplines—history, literature, psychology, philosophy—are gazing out of what was once a refuge and wishing that, some how, they could believe it. They have understood that Christianity is both indispensable and beautiful, but their intellectual constraints prevent many of them from embracing it as true. Viewing Western civilisation with its Christian soul cut out, many are now willing to say: “We need Christ.” What they are unable, thus far, to say, is: “I need Christ.”’

The elephant family in the room

Melanie Philips: ‘from Matt Hancock to murdered black boys in London, the politically willed atomisation of family life, which is bringing damage, danger and havoc to both individuals and society, has become the lethal elephant in the room.’

My 30-second sermon: as we prepared for a crash landing

‘For me, the Flight 2775 experience was a wake-up call to speak the gospel more often, and more boldly, to my unbelieving friends and family. In a world of such violent contingency—where a life can be snuffed out at any moment, in any number of ways—you need to know what comes next. You need to know what will happen after you die. You have an eternal soul. “Do not marvel at this,” Jesus warned, “for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, the righteous to the resurrection of life, and the wicked to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29).’

From the archive: How should Christians think about taking medicine for depression?

‘Some would like to call that a wisdom issue. And, to a point, I guess it is. The wisdom in question revolves around the answer to this: “does it help me or not?” That is about the only wisdom involved here. The reason I baulk at it being termed a “wisdom issue” is because that suggests there is some grey area. There is a suggestion that it might not be appropriate to take medication even if it genuinely works, allays your symptoms or resolves the issue altogether for you. Just replace the word ‘depression’ with the word ‘cancer’ and see if your argument holds water with many people.’