Epicurus Trolls God’s Ability and Willingness to Deal With Evil; God Enters His Creation to Answer the Charge

My piece on Epicurus’s famous riddle last week garnered a number of comments. One of those was from one of my regular commenters, GV, who asked the question, “Is there any other religion that gives a solution to his riddle?” I got the impression the question was probably rhetorical, yet it’s a good question and deserving of some thought. The basic gist of what I wrote in that piece is this. Undergirding Epicurus’s riddle are two major presuppositions, both of […]

The Christmas Spirit

I’m happy to announce that Day One have just published my third book — The Coming of the Saviour-King — which is basically a collection of the daily pieces I did for Advent last year. If you’re interested, you can get a copy here. Below is an excerpt from the introduction to the book. That Christmas has become commercialized, trivialized, tacky and secularized is probably a statement of the obvious. There is Santa. There is snow. There are reindeer. There are […]

And all the Church Cried out to God?

I write this piece under the assumption that it will be read by those who are in some measure distressed by the current state of the culture in which they live. In many ways our situation is unique. Has there ever been a time when people thought that a marriage didn’t necessarily need a man or a woman? Of that it was okay to kill babies by the million under the banner of choice? Or when a man could just […]

Finding the Real Jesus on Resurrection Sunday

It is no exaggeration to say that Jesus is the most (wilfully) misunderstood and (wilfully) misquoted person in history.  At no time is this more clearly seen than around Easter and Christmas, when people who normally show no interest in him come forward to use him as a figurehead for their particular social or political cause. One Tweet I saw, for example, claimed that “Jesus was a radical whose anti-greed message of peace & love scared Establishment of his day.” […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — The Saviour-King Has Come

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 27: The New Creation in a Womb

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 26: From Silence to Light

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 25: Get Ready for the Sunrise

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 24: God’s Messengers are Coming

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of […]

The Coming of the Saviour King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 23: The Son of Man is Given the Kingdom

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14) In the preceding chapters […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 22: God Smashes the Kingdom of Earth

“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 21: The Image of the Kingdom of Earth

“You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 20: A Tree to Cover the Earth

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 19: What Kingdom is This?

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 18: What Child is This?

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 17: The Virgin and the Sign of Ahaz

“Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: ‘Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.’ But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.’ And he said, ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 16: The King Destroys His Kingdom

“And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. Therefore, the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 15: The King and His Kingdom

“Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor! May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! May he […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 14: God’s Enemies Provoke Him to Laughter

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 13: I Will Build You a House

“‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 12: The Shepherd and the Dragon

“When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 11: Give us a King

“Then Samuel asked, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ ‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse replied. ‘But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.’ ‘Send for him at once,’ Samuel said. ‘We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.’ So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the Lord said, ‘This is the one; anoint him.’ So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 10: A Lion King to Gather the Nations

“Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, thou art gone up: He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be.” (Genesis 49:9-10) Since the passage we considered yesterday, where Jacob once again heard the promises of land, people and blessing coming […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 9: The Stairway to Heaven

“Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 8: The Sacrifice of … Isaac?

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’” (Genesis 22:1-2) Here we come to one of those passages that sceptics just love. “God, the God you worship commands child sacrifice, right?” Well, no. […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 7: The Contrived Son and the Son of Promise

“The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac.” (Genesis 21:1-3) In the intervening years since the promises given to Abram in yesterday’s passage, Sarai remains barren and so the promises remain […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 6: Blessing for the World

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonours you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” (Genesis 12:1-3) […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 5: The False Messiah

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.’” (Genesis 4:1) The first man and woman, despite their sin, are redeemed people. How do we know this? Firstly, we are told that where they had tried to cover their shame by sewing leaves together, God provided skins for them. These were animal skins, which implies animal sacrifice, and so was the first bloodshed. The book […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 4: A New King is Promised

“Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)   These words are spoken into a world where the King has just died – spiritually exiled from God, […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent — Day 3: The Fall of the King

“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’” (Genesis 3:9-11) In yesterday’s reading we saw how God set up a King to rule over the earth […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent – Day 2: God Sets up His King

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, […]

The Coming of the Saviour-King: Thoughts for Advent – Day 1: In the Beginning

This is the first of a series of readings and comments for advent (there will be 28 in all). It’s entirely possible, and even very probable, that I have misunderstood the meaning of some of the passages being considered. If so, do forgive me, but don’t be afraid to challenge in the comments section. I am indebted to the thoughts of the theologians Douglas Wilson, James B. Jordan and Peter Leithart, not to mention my own minister, Matthew Mason, for some […]

Ashers Bakery, Wine That Doesn’t Turn Into Blood, Bodies That do Rise From the Dead and More — A Response to a Commentator

My recent article on the Ashers Bakery case generated a few comments from a gentleman named Oliver Green. I promised Oliver that when I found the time I would respond as best I could to what he wrote. However, rather than just posting underneath his comments, I thought it best to post on the main page. So below are Oliver’s comments in normal font, and my comments interleaved in bold italics. This is a fairly long piece, but I hope […]

Recovering Objective Truth Part 2 – The World That God Made

In the first part of this piece, I tried to get to the root of the major cultural and societal changes that have come upon us over the last century or so, and I made the case that what we are seeing is Hegelian Dialecticism in action. This idea, from the 19th Century German philosopher Georg Hegel, proposes a marketplace of ideas (thesis and antithesis) which tend to compete with one another to produce a new idea (synthesis). Now this […]

The Future is Bright: The Future is Christian

This last Tuesday, I was privileged to attend The Conservative Woman’s first forum, where the motion being debated by Peter Hitchens (Mail on Sunday) and Tim Stanley (Daily Telegraph) was “Christianity has no future in Britain”. The event was chaired by TCW’s very own Kathy Gyngell, who remarked quite rightly that the subject under discussion is immeasurably more important than the EU referendum. For those who regularly read Mr Hitchens, it will come as no surprise that he was the […]

One More Thing and I’m Leaving the Church of Zengland

My latest little gripe against the Church of England for Conservative Woman Forgive me, but I need to begin with a joke (adapted from one I once heard told about Episcopalians): Two elderly Anglican gentlemen are sitting in their pew in their local church waiting for a service to begin. Both are true believers, but have become distraught at the way the CofE has been going in recent years. Suddenly the lights dim, and a laser show accompanied by hardcore […]

Happy Resurrection Day

  Nobody prior to the resurrection anticipated it. The Jews of the 1st century believed in a general resurrection at the end of time, something that is clear from Martha’s statement to Jesus about Lazarus, that “I know he will be raised on the last day”. But they had no concept of a resurrection in the midst of time. You can read this time and time again in the reaction of the disciples when Jesus tells them what is to […]

Why is This Friday so Good?

You are in the first century and you are part of a conspiracy trying to produce tracts persuading people that a certain man was God’s Messiah (Anointed One, or Christ). Here’s a few tips to make it authentic: 1. Avoid putting in anything other than an ordinary birth narrative. Remember, your audience is just not going to go in for any claims of Messiahship from someone whose circumstances of birth might be shrouded in controversy. 2. At all costs avoid […]

Rendering Unto God & Caesar for the 21st Century

If I had a denarius for every time I have heard the “render unto Caesar” argument used as a reason for why we should just pipe down about high taxation and concentrate on “spiritual” matters, I’d sure have a lot of denarii. Well okay maybe not that much, but that’s mainly because the state would no doubt come along to demand half of them upon threat of imprisonment. Still, mustn’t grumble; render unto Caesar and all that… I am on […]

Hail The Incarnate Deity

Back in the day, when I was a card-carrying atheist, one of my main reasons for not accepting Christianity was that it seemed to me to be little more than an escapist option. Here we all are, living in a world that is clearly problematic, and so many Christians seemed to be saying, “Come and join us in escaping it all. Believe in Jesus and you will go to Heaven.” This never felt to me like a very satisfactory or […]

The Bread of Life in the House of Bread

This is my latest piece for Samaritan Ministries International At the beginning of the book of Ruth, an Israelite family leaves Bethlehem to sojourn in Moab. The reason for this is that there is a famine in the land: “In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was […]

Full Fat Abrahamism (or Believing All of God’s Promises)

A while ago I was going through Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and I came to the bit in chapter 4 about Abraham. What struck me was how full-fat Abraham’s faith was, and how in our own times much of the Christian world has only two thirds of this full-fatness, diluting the final third of his faith to the consistency of some really watery skimmed milk. What do I mean by that? Paul’s argument in chapter 4 is basically that […]

Answering Archbishop Justin Welby’s Doubts: Part 2

This is the second part of my piece answering the Archbishop of Canterbury’s response to the Paris atrocities. The first part can be found here. Walking down the road which says “There is no God” doesn’t actually answer any of our questions (see Part 1). In fact, it throws up more intractable problems for us. Yet those questions still remain – “How does a God whom Christians claim is both good and omnipotent God appear to be utterly impotent or […]

Answering Archbishop Justin Welby’s Doubts: Part 1

My latest piece for Conservative Woman The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recently made the news when he admitted that the terrorist attacks in Paris had caused him to “doubt where God is,” and that they had put a “chink in his armour.” Interviewed for the BBC’s Songs of Praise, he said: “Yes. Saturday morning – I was out and as I was walking I was praying and saying: ‘God why – why is this happening? Where are you in […]

Long Live the King!

Imagine that a group of people got together once a year to commemorate the death of a man. Imagine that this ritual had been going on for nearly 2,000 years. And imagine that the commemoration had so caught on, that it had spread to all parts of planet Earth. That would be odd, would it not? Yes it would if it were, say, Julius Caesar, Alexander or Plato. It might even be odd if that man were Jesus Christ, had his […]

The Light of the World is Risen Indeed

If Friday was Good, Sunday was better. Friday was the day that saw the Light of the World crucified on a tree, and the Land plunged into darkness. “And so the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” It was good, however, because that death was not in vain. It was the payment for the sins of His people, and it marked the end of the Old Creation. The next day was […]

A Very Good Friday: The Irony of Ironies

As an atheist, I found the idea that Christians (at least in the Anglo-Saxon world) refer to this day as “Good” Friday rather amusing. How on earth could the commemoration of a man’s death be considered “Good”. Weirdos! As a Christian, I still wonder how this day can be described as “Good”, but from a completely different perspective. On the one hand, there is nothing Good about the death of Jesus Christ. It is the most horrendous death of all. […]

The King is Dead

Excruciating! Do you know where that word comes from? It comes from the same root word as the word Crucifixion. In Jesus’ day, nobody would talk about crucifixion. It was almost like a swear word, such was the horror and revulsion that that form of death brought. Anyone jesting about it would have been treated in the same way as someone jesting about Auschwitz might be seen today. Yet for the Messiah, the pain was not just physical. That was […]

Justice Revealed

Bar-Abbas, son of the father, is a rebel, an insurrectionist and a murderer. Jesus, the Son of the Father, is innocent, perfect and the Light of the World. The chief priests, the elders and the Pharisees have been waiting for the messiah to come to begin the long awaited insurrection against the Romans. Yet when he comes, their charge against him in front of the Roman governor is that he is an insurrectionist — the King of the Jews. And they […]

The King’s Judgement

Imagine a courtroom where a man stands before the judge, the prosecution and his accusers. They are putting him on trial on trumped up charges, and they bring in witnesses after witness to testify against him, but none of the witness statements agree. Of course they don’t, since he is innocent of all wrongdoing. No matter. They are not actually interested in anything so much as justice here. In fact, they have already decided to find the man guilty — […]