Stackhouse and Slippery Slopes

Thank you to Suzanne for pointing me to an interesting article by Susan Wise Bauer. The article starts with a review of John Stackhouse’s book Finally Feminist. This book is one I would like to read if I get the chance, as it seems to get behind the detailed exegetical arguments to a proper theological understanding of gender issues. Bauer’s article moves into a thorough refutation of the slippery slope argument, originally and still a logical fallacy, which is so much loved by conservative Christians who argue that any change to the status quo is the first step towards theological and social liberalism.

Don't filter out God's messages as spam!

I am very grateful for my spam filters, both the one for my e-mail which catches most of the 600 or so spam e-mails per month which are sent to me, and for Peter’s Custom Anti-Spam and Akismet which catch most of the spam comments sent to this blog. It is sad that some of these spam e-mails are now coming from apparently genuine Christian ministries such as Christian Music Updates (no, I won’t give a link to them).

In this busy world where more and more people seem to be trying to catch our attention, I’m sure most of us have equivalents to spam filters for our junk “snail mail”, telephone calls and callers at the door. I suppose we all throw away some mail unopened and politely put down the phone on some callers. We can even find ways of getting rid of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons on our doorsteps.

But there is a danger in all spam filters and equivalents, that if they are used without great care they can filter out genuine messages, that people who we really want to hear from are unable to contact us because their messages are being wrongly discarded as spam.

Dave Warnock makes the point in passing here (explained further in the comments) that even messages from God can get caught in our spam filters. Of course at least since the childhood of Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1-10) people have often mistaken the voice of God for a human message, but God in his persistence has managed to communicate in the end. But in these days when there are so many messages bombarding us, it is perhaps far too easy for us to filter out all messages which we don’t immediately recognise. In these circumstances, what chance has God of being able to communicate with us?

Well, of course if God really needs to communicate with us, he will find a way. We should be careful about pushing him this far, as his way may be through sickness or even death (compare 1 Corinthians 11:30). But in other cases, if we won’t listen to him he simply gives up on us, and perhaps looks for someone else to do his work.

So surely (and here I am preaching to myself as much as to others) each of us needs to find a place and a time where we can get away from the insistent voices of the world trying to grab our attention, let down our spam filters, and listen to what God has to say to us.

Why did Jesus die?

I’m not actually going to try to answer the question of why Jesus died. But Adrian Warnock has reopened the controversy on this issue in the way that he has started his new series on the atonement. In doing so he has ruffled a few feathers, including making Dave Warnock write “It seems I have no gospel”, and has apparently suggested that Steve Chalke, Spring Harvest and the Evangelical Alliance teach that “Christ Did Not Die for Sin!”

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Standing for election

A few weeks ago, if I remember correctly (but I can’t now find it from a search), my fellow blogger Henry Neufeld wrote something to the effect of “Hell would freeze over before I ran for election to public office”. Well, Henry, today I can announce that, although as far as I know hell is as hot as it ever was, I am running, or standing, for election. (Oddly enough, here in the UK we “stand”, but Americans “run” for election, is it something to do with the relative amount of effort we put in?) I am standing as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the local council elections for Chelmsford Borough Council. This is the first time I have done this. At the last election my party was in a poor second place in the ward for which I am standing, Galleywood, so I have a lot of work to do to stand any chance of winning. Now, unlike the US system, we have quite strict rules about election expenses etc, so to avoid any problems I will say nothing more about this here until after the election on 3rd May.

To make sure I am on the right side of election law: Promoted by Peter Kirk, of 61 Harrow Way, Chelmsford CM2 7AU.

The UK's largest church to be built in my backyard?

Well, not quite, but outline plans have been announced for a new church and conference centre to be built about a mile from my home, and less than half a mile from my own church. And, although the size of this has not been officially given, the dimensions of the building on the plans and the amount of car parking provided suggests a planned capacity of 5000 to 6000, which would probably give it the largest capacity of any church building in the UK. It remains to be seen whether planning permission will be given, and whether the church behind this can find the money for it! More to follow on this story.