Category Archives: Evangelicalism

The Bible on Singleness, Marriage and Homosexuality

traditional_marriageThe Primates of the Anglican Communion met in Canterbury in January to reflect and pray together concerning the future of the Communion. The majority of those gathered reaffirmed that “The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union.” A small minority of Anglican Primates were however, unable to do so. This in itself has serious implications, for what divides them is the question of ultimate authority in matters of faith and doctrine. Does it lie with church tradition, with experience, reason, secular cultural norms, or with the Scriptures? Our presuppositions inevitably shape our thinking. Here are five assumed in this paper.

Article 6 of the Church of England

“Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”

The Scriptures are God-breathed

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Ann Atkins has observed, “Scripture is not important enlightenment about God, but infallible revelation from Him. So we interpret our lives in the light of scripture, instead of the other way about.” Continue reading

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Do we worship the same God?

hands-worshipWheaton College is probably the best known Evangelical college in the USA. And last month, Larycia Hawkins who taught political science at Wheaton, became their best known professor.  She had pledged to wear a hijab during Advent in support of her Muslim neighbours.  But she was suspended after she wrote on Facebook, “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”  “This statement is unbelievable,” tweeted Baptist blogger Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College in Louisville. “Really jaw-dropping.” Many others criticized Larycia. “A holy kiss to you who disavow the idea that Muslims & Christians worship the same God: I love you. Peace & respect,” Hawkins tweeted in response to her critics. She linked to her Facebook response, where she stated:

“Whether or not you find this position, one held for centuries by countless Christians (church fathers, saints, and regular Christian folk like me), to be valid, I trust that we can peacefully disagree on theological points and affirm others like the Triune God , the virgin birth and the Resurrection. Let there be unity in our diversity of views about all of the above.”

Wheaton have instituted dismissal proceedings against Larycia. Other Wheaton faculty have defended her.

Do we Worship the Same God? from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

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The Meaning of Everything: Canon John Salter

Canon John Salter preached at Christ Church, Virginia Water on John 1:1-14 on Advent Sunday. He is President of the Garden Tomb Association and the former vicar of Emmanuel Church, Stoughton, Guildford.

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Troubled But Not Destroyed: Archbishop Giatri’s Autobiography

See photos taken at the Lambeth Palace book launch here

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Holy War: The Christian Jihad

Following the tragedy of 9/11 and the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York, multi-bestselling author and Christian journalist Anne Coulter, wrote,

“We don’t need long investigations of the forensic evidence to determine with scientific accuracy the person or persons who ordered this specific attack. We don’t need an “international coalition.” We don’t need a study on “terrorism.” … We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now.  We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.”[3]

More recently, at the July 19th, 2006, inaugural event for Christians United for Israel, in Washington DC, after recorded greetings from the then President, George W. Bush, and in the presence of four US Senators as well as the Israeli ambassador to the US, Pastor John Hagee, stated :

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Ambassadors Needed

Heartened by the recent historic meeting between Prime Minister David Cameron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at the United Nations, signaling a long-overdue thawing of Anglo-Iranian relations, I was delighted to attend the New Horizons interfaith conference in Tehran last week, as a member of a UK delegation.

The conference addressed issues where faith and politics intersect in the Middle East such as Israel’s war on Gaza, Islamophobia in the West as well as the rise of ISIS and those sponsoring extremism.

“There is no teleology in western society, no guiding morality, only an obsession with materialism,” argued organizer Arash Darya-Bandari. “We believe it is necessary to control the negative tendencies in culture, such as pornography, alcohol, drugs, prostitution, to strive towards a more moral and justice society.”

One of the contributors, Eric Walberg wrote, “Contrary to the shrill cries in the western media that the conference was anti-Semitic, it was unique in my experience in addressing Zionism and US imperialism forthrightly and intelligently, without a hint of racism. The issue of anti-Semitism was addressed and dismissed, as “There is no issue with Jewish people or the Jewish religion,” explained Darya-Bandari, “but rather with Zionism, that secular distortion of Judaism that itself is racist, and has been used as a pretext to dispossess and kill Palestinians.”

He went on to report, “The conference issued a resolution condemning ISIS, Zionism, US unconditional support of Israel, Islamophobia, and calling for activism locally to boycott Israeli goods and to promote understanding between the West and the Muslim world, and to fight sectarianism. “This was a great opportunity to meet anti-imperialist activists from around the world, to bring Russians, Poles, western Europeans, North Americans together with Iranians and other Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, in a forum without sectarianism, truly supporting peace and understanding,” said delegate Mateusz Piskorski, director of the European Centre of Geopolitical Analysis in Warsaw and former MP in the Polish Sejm.”

I was invited to contribute to the opening ceremony and present a biblical perspective on Jihad and in particular, a Christian refutation of the Islamic State (IS). Later in the conference I was asked to present a paper on the impact of the Israel Lobby in the UK, especially in parliament and in the media, ahead of the publication of my new book on the subject.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Ambassadors, of necessity serve in foreign countries, where perspectives may be different and at times even hostile to one’s own. But given the dire consequences of any breakdown in relations between countries, dialogue and diplomacy are always to be preferred over war and strife.

In the journal Diplomat, Michael Binyon asks,

“Are Christian church leaders becoming the world’s most active peacemakers? Only a week after President Peres of Israel and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the Pope’s invitation to pray together with him in Rome, the Archbishop of Canterbury made a dramatic flight to Nigeria to pray with President Goodluck Jonathan and encourage him to make every effort to find the schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist organisation Boko Haram.

The Archbishop’s impromptu trip came hard on the heels of a visit to Pakistan, where he visited a small embattled Christian community and praised their efforts to forge closer links with the wider Muslim community, despite regular attacks by militants, the threats of mob violence and the increasing use of the notorious blasphemy laws to force Christians from their land and property…

Peacemaking and reconciliation – within the Anglican Church and between the world’s main faith groups – were the declared priority for Justin Welby from the moment he became Archbishop. He is well qualified for the role. As an oil executive who visited Nigeria often before his ordination, he has seen at first-hand the conflict raging between Christians and Muslims in Central Nigeria that is now taking a deadly toll. As a former head of Coventry Cathedral’s Centre for Reconciliation, he has himself conducted delicate negotiations between militant groups in an effort to free hostages, often risking his own life.”

A walk through the deserted US embassy in Tehran last week was a poignant reminder of how a failure to pursue diplomacy has fueled not only decades of missed opportunities but also perpetuated misunderstanding and animosity between our countries.

Ironically, the leaders in Jesus day, tried to dictate whom he could and could not meet with, criticizing him for eating with “tax collectors and sinners”.  Clearly they considered his actions “conduct unbecoming” a rabbi. Thankfully for us he did not listen to them.

Critics of conferences such as New Horizons should think more carefully about how their inflammatory words will negatively impact on their own communities in Iran.

They would be better served following the examples set by our Prime Minister, the Pope and the Archbishop who, as true ambassadors, are working for peace and reconciliation.

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Der Christliche Jihadist

christian-poker-crusade-v-jihad-2

Der Christliche Jihadist. Im Zeichen des Kreuzes im evangelikalen Christentum: Die Perspektive eines christlichen Jihadisten

A German translation of my presentation, The Christian Jihadist

Download a pdf version Der christliche Jihadist

See also Sieben biblische Antworten auf populäre zionistische Thesen

Die theologischen und ideologischen Wurzeln der Balfour-Deklaration

Sieben biblische Antworten auf populäre zionistische Thesen

 

 

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Will the Jewish Temple be Rebuilt?

“Mounting tension: Israel’s Knesset debates proposal to enforce its sovereignty at Al-Aqsa Mosque – a move seen as ‘an extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide’” was the ominous headline in the Independent newspaper, 27th February 2014.

Ben Lynfield writes, “The Arab-Israeli conflict took on an increasingly religious hue when the Jordanian parliament voted unanimously to expel Israel’s ambassador in Amman after Israeli legislators held an unprecedented debate on Tuesday evening over a proposal to enforce Israeli sovereignty at one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, currently administered by Jordan, and to allow Jewish prayer there. 500 metres by 300 metres, the Temple Mount, or Haram Al Sharif as it is called in Arabic, is probably the most disputed plot of land on earth. Hal Lindsey claims, ‘I believe the fate of the world will be determined by an ancient feud over 35 acres of land.’[1]

Many Christians share the belief that the Islamic shrines must be destroyed and that a Jewish Temple must and will be rebuilt – very soon. But this won’t be a museum replica of the one king Solomon built or be just another attraction for pilgrims to the Holy Land. No, this Temple will be built for one purpose and one purpose only – for bloody animal sacrifices, and lots of them.

What is the case for rebuilding the Jewish Temple? Does the Bible predict such an event? If so, where and how it might be built? What does the New Testament  say on the subject? What are the implications for Christians should the Jewish Temple be rebuilt?  Continue reading

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Conciliation with Board of Deputies of British Jews

I am very happy to announce that following meetings with conciliators appointed by the Bishop of Guildford, the complaint brought against me by the Board of Deputies of British Jews has been resolved on terms set out in the Conciliation Agreement.

Whilst pleased that this matter is now concluded, I am saddened that it has taken so long to reach this stage. Towards the end of 2011, concerns were raised about an article on my Facebook page which linked to a website named “the Ugly Truth.” In recognition of those concerns, I offered to meet leaders of the Jewish community but this offer was never taken up. Instead, in October 2012, Mr Arkush on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, made a formal complaint against me alleging “a clear and consistent pattern” of misconduct “unbecoming or inappropriate to the office a work of a clerk in Holy Orders”.

The Board of Deputies also took the unprecedented step of publishing it in full on their website. I refrained from publishing my formal Response until the complaint was resolved. I am therefore doing so today.

The complaint alleged that I had made anti-Semitic statements and had deliberately introduced my readers to anti-Semitic websites. I have always maintained that these allegations were untrue and am confident that I would have been vindicated had I been forced to contest them at a clergy disciplinary tribunal. That said, I am pleased that these issues have sensibly been resolved.

As many will be aware, I have long been an enthusiastic user of new media. The internet allows us to communicate with a mass audience at the press of a button, but with it comes the risk that we might publish our thoughts without adequately reflecting on our choice of words or how they might be interpreted. I will do all I can to guard against this risk in the future. Whilst the web is a rich source of reference, it also contains a great deal of material with which one would not wish to be associated. It is important that those using new media to conduct political debate ensure that they do not inadvertently associate them with such material.  It is for this reason that I have undertaken to take greater care over links in the future. In addition, my blog now contains a disclaimer identical to that which appears on the Board of Deputies’ Fair Play website.

It is my sincere wish that disputes such as this will be avoided in the future. The conciliation agreement includes a number of principles that we agree those engaged in political debate should follow. They emphasize that free speech does not cease to be legitimate simply because it might cause offence to some, whilst at the same time affirming that care and sensitivity should be employed in the use of language. As someone who has been virulently attacked in the past for my political and theological views, I will do my best to abide by these principles, but my hope is that my critics will do so too.

I care passionately about the safety of the Jewish people and the right of Israel to exist within internationally agreed borders. I have always opposed racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial as well as Islamophobia and the denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination and will continue to do so.

Jesus calls his followers to be peacemakers and to fulfil a ministry of reconciliation. The New Testament reinforces the mandate of the Jewish prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

Revd Dr Stephen Sizer
Christ Church, Virginia Water

23rd October 2013

Form 2 Stephen Sizer
Response to the Complaint of Misconduct from Stephen Sizer
Letters of Support
Conciliation Agreement

Jeremy Moodey of Embrace the Middle East writes “Stephen … has an outstanding legal bill of almost £4,000 as he has sought to respond to the BoD’s bullying. The defence fund is in my name, audited by Steve Leah. Please give what you can to support the right of free speech.”

Sort Code: 08-93-00, account no 80407856.

For international money transfers, the additional details are:

Co-op Bank SWIFT number CP BK GB 22.
Bank’s head office address: The Co-operative Bank PLC, 1 Balloon Street, Manchester, M60 4EP.

 

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The Book of the Covenant: A Very Good Book

This evening I read Nick Howard’s delightful new book, The Book of the Covenant, published by the aptly named Good Book Company. It is indeed a good read. Nick provides a simple, clear, easy to understand, overview of the entire Bible, tracing the unfolding story of God’s covenant relationship with his people.

Each chapter includes copious scripture quotations, lively contemporary illustrations and a helpful application section called ‘Life Lessons’. Important sentences are printed in bold for emphasis. Footnotes are kept to a minimum.

There are three main parts to the book. The first part explains the meaning of the word covenant and shows how the seven covenants ‘click’ together to form one united covenant revealed fully and finally in Jesus Christ. The second part unpacks the significance of each of the seven covenants, [Creation, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and New Covenant]. The final part emphasizes how to read scripture from a covenantal perspective.

Nick uses some helpful analogies to describe the progressive revelation of God’s covenant purposes through history. Here’s a flavour:

“These covenants click together to form one “eternal covenant” (Hebrews 13:20)… These have the effect of dividing salvation history into separate time zones, with different instructions for each zone.” (p. 18)

“…past covenants are built into those that follow, not completely demolished.” (p. 19)

“… we could compare the covenants to a series of connected reservoirs providing water for a city. Each reservoir has certain distinctive features such as its location, capacity and shape, but they all serve the same underlying purpose of meeting the city’s need for water. The covenants are united in a similar way by one intention: God’s desire to have a people of his own.” (p. 20)

“The covenants are like gates separating the different periods of biblical history. When God’s people go through a covenant gate into that covenant’s field, they need to live according to the code of practice for that field… The fields form one covenant valley… the valley of salvation.” (p. 21)

Nick emphasizes the unity of God’s people on many occasions. Here’s an example:

“Because of the unity of the covenants, Bible history is our family history. The Bible is like a big family photo album. God’s people take part in the same eternal covenant, no matter which salvation period we’re in. So the believers we read about in Scripture are our spiritual ancestors, our family members…” (p. 22-23)

Whereas in my book Zion’s Christian Soldiers, I offer a range of possible interpretations for the controversial phrase ‘Israel of God’ found in Galatians 6:16, Nick offers the one I just happen to agree with,

“The covenant with Abraham teaches us that if we trust in Jesus, we’ve joined a nation, the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). It’s as if we each have a spiritual passport saying Israel on the front. Everyone who belongs to this nation should matter to us deeply.” (p. 83).

However, Nick goes a little further than I in describing the new covenant people of God as the ‘New Israel’ (p. 132). It is not a term found in the Bible but I know what he means – the term Israel has been ‘reconfigured’ by the new covenant.

“…the new covenant church is pictured in the book of Romans as a Jewish tree with lots of wild Gentile branches grafted in (11 v 24). So instead of “replacement theology” this is “enlargement theology”… while it is clear God no longer considers unbelieving Jews to be his people in the way they once were… he still has a special love for them. There’s a sense in which they are still chosen.” (p. 133)

Nick graciously acknowledges his indebtedness to O Palmer Robertson and The Christ of the Covenants (p. 161). Indeed, the incentive for writing the book grew out of a desire to make Palmer Robertson’s classic more accessible.

The Book of the Covenant serves a similar purpose to God’s Big Picture: Tracing the story-line of the Bible, by Vaughan Roberts and published by InterVarsity Press.

If you need any more convincing to buy the book, here are two commendations:

 “Reading this clear and extremely well illustrated book, I was very struck by the fact that if I could get a good grasp of this one word ‘Covenant’, then it’s like an axe blade that enables me to open up not just every book of the Bible, but every chapter. I pray that many will internalise this outstanding tool of Biblical understanding.” Rico Tice, Evangelist and founder of Christianity Explored

“This gripping and highly readable book gives us a sweeping overview of the Bible as it charts the different “deals” that God has made with people in Scripture. It shows how the covenants with Abraham, David, Moses and others all foreshadow the new covenant to come in Jesus, and it helps us see with greater clarity the sweeping plan of God as it unfolds through the Bible story.” Tim Thornborough, Editor, Good Book Company

For me the test of any book about the Bible is simple – does it motivate me to want to read the scriptures more? Nick’s book does. I hope it sells well. It deserves to.  Buy the book from The Good Book Company.

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