I am having second thoughts about my recent post on playing the ball and not the man.
The first stirrings of misgiving came from Tom’s comment, when he suggested that ‘to play the man and not the ball’ originally related to soccer, where it is far more obvious when you are playing the man not the ball—that is, because the ball usually runs somewhat free of the man. And so it is theoretically possible in soccer (although still uncommon) to have contact only or mainly with the ball, and avoid contact with the man. In fact, making contact with the man is often a ‘foul’. Does this better present the kind of lofty ideal that I proposed in the first half of my article: that it is desirable where possible to discuss ideas on their own merits, without reference to the person putting them forward? (more…)
I’ve been pondering the unwelcome reality of disagreements with friends.
My recent Briefing review of Michael Jensen’s book on Sydney Anglicanism* reflects a difference of opinion between Michael and me that we are still in the midst of discussing. I’m also in the process of writing something in response to John Dickson’s ebook on women and sermons, and this too will highlight disagreements with John about some important issues. (more…)
When a great one like John Chapman goes home, we struggle to express our appreciation and sense of loss. Words like warrior, champion and hero come to mind. (more…)
Albert Mohler argues that is no longer Christian liberalism that is our adversary, but secular liberalism.
Call me a spoilsport, a curmudgeon, or perhaps just confused, but I’ve always felt uneasy about the theology contained in this quote:
We’re publishing a major article on singing in church by Rob Smith in the September Briefing, but if you’re in Sydney and want to hear some singing by Rob Smith before that, try this …
I asked this question recently to a bunch of young ministry trainees at a ‘Trellis and Vine’ workshop, and I was delighted at their answer. (more…)
In this Churchman editorial about recently-resigned Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Gerald Bray displays the peculiar genius the British have for politely and respectfully pouring a bucket on someone. (The link downloads a pdf.)
Like I did, you might have missed this insightful post from Kevin de Young a couple of weeks ago about why churches that seemingly believe the same things, or tick the same doctrinal boxes, can look so different. Would you add or subtract anything from his list?
It was in the Number 1 Bestseller bin at my local Christian bookstore when I strolled in for a browse last week. And it was hard to miss at other places around the store, with its bold, red, attention-grabbing cover: “Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together” by Mark and Grace Driscoll. (more…)
Tony Payne: Phillip, you’ve been in ministry for quite a long time…
Phillip Jensen: Well, ever since I became a Christian; that’s when you start ministering, and that was back in ’59. (more…)
I’ve been reflecting on how horrible teenagers can be. Here’s a quick pen portrait.
Teenagers find it very difficult to believe that the world does not revolve around them. They live in a self-regarding bubble, and cannot for the life of them see why things shouldn’t be organized for their convenience. They are quite happy to take, but reluctant to give. And although they do a lot of taking (and others do a lot of giving) words of thanksgiving are rarely on their lips. (more…)
I was preaching on Ecclesiastes 3 yesterday, and made what I guess is the pretty familiar point that although we experience meaning in our daily lives, we also experience the frustration, bewilderment and ‘vanity’ of life under the sun. We know that there is a bigger story—there is eternity in our hearts—and so we see the beauty or appropriateness of different things that happen (a time for this and a time for that). And yet God has also made sure that we “cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (v. 11). There is a frustrating opacity to life that is meant to humble us, and lead us to fear God (v. 14). (more…)
If you’ve been going to Sunday church services for as long as I have, you will no doubt have a list of things that you don’t find very edifying (i.e. things that drive you nuts). But what should we do about this all-too-common lack of quality in our church gatherings? (more…)
Further to my last post on being hated, Jean Williams posted this insightful comment and question on my wall:
Here’s a verse I’ve been reflecting on that came to me as I read the post: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Sobering words, and ones that challenge me.