When I ceased preaching in church in 2018, a number of friends were kind enough to ask me to make some of my theological thoughts more widely available, and this blog is the result.
There is an inherent problem in placing on the Internet, material that was originally designed to be heard, but I hope that what is lost in that way can be made up for, in providing an opportunity for those interested to contribute their own reactions to the material and hopefully to initiate an online debate.
For those of you who know me, welcome and thanks for your encouragement.
For those who don’t, welcome and I hope you’ll find at least something of interest here.
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What this blog is about
How many sermons have you heard? How many can you now remember? How many could you summarise in a single sentence, even two minutes after they’ve ended?
When I started preaching ten years ago, one of my biggest problems was that I didn’t have any ‘ideal’ in mind, but I did have some ideas about what I’d found frustrating about sermons that I’d heard in the past. Mostly, what I’d found was a combination of the following:
- Sermons that didn’t seem to have any central message, but consisted of just a ‘string’ of anecdotes or ideas
- Sermons that didn’t answer the questions that I was left with, having listened carefully to the Bible readings. Sometimes these were blindingly obvious, but completely ignored by the preacher
- Sermons that seemed to take the Bible passage and simply retell the story in different words, without making any comment on what it meant.
- Occasionally I’d hear sermons that depicted God in a way that made me think: ‘If that’s what God’s really like, then I’m in the wrong place’.
Above all, I found that it was extremely rare to hear anything ‘new’ or ‘original’. Over many decades, I’d heard so many sermons on familiar Bible passages that I found that I could almost guess what the preacher was going to say before she or he started. If I’m honest, this often led me to ‘switch off’ in the first few words.
I sincerely believe that we have (almost) lost the ability to understand the Bible, because our culture is now so remote from that of first century Palestine that we have a tendency to over-simplify, or simply accept interpretations that have been ‘traditional’. Biblical scholarship has moved on hugely in the last 50 years, but sadly our reading of the Bible has not kept pace with it. It’s extremely difficult to try to understand the Bible the way that people would have heard it almost two thousand years ago, but I believe that we have a duty to try our best to do so. When we succeed in doing this, the results can be startling and thrilling. Much of what I intend to post on this site will touch on this issue.
The material I intend to post every few weeks or so, has come to me following much reading and research (please see the tab titled ‘Sources’) and even more thought and reflection over many years. I don’t, however, offer these posts as ‘definitive’ views about anything, and I’ve found, as many preachers have, that often if I come to a familiar passage a second time, it speaks to me differently. It would therefore be surprising if you didn’t often find that you disagree with what I’ve written. This site offers you the opportunity to say so, but if my thoughts help you even in the smallest way to explore and develop your own theological views, then my time will have been worthwhile. This is, in effect, my sole objective in starting this blog – to encourage you to reflect on the Bible and life more generally
Contributing to this Blog
You are welcome to comment on anything raised here, whether by me or by others commenting on my posts. Please, however, be aware that I reserve the right to ‘moderate’ all comments and remove any that I find offensive, aggressive or illegal, or any that are overtly publicising other sites or products. In every case, my decision is final.
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