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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

On expecting a miracle

I previously posted here that Jesus' miracles do not prove his deity. I argued Jesus performed his miracles (a) in his humanity, (b) in the power of the Spirit c.f. Acts 10:38 and subsequently; (c) they prove, not his deity but, his special anointing from God

However, it is true that Jesus' miracles indirectly speak of his deity. They do so inasmuch as Jesus' miracles prove his special anointing by the Spirit which in turn support his claims to be 'from God'. As Bruce Ware comments: response to the challenge to declare whether he was in fact the Christ, Jesus said in John 10:25 “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.”  So, the “works” of Jesus testify to the truthfulness of his “words.”  When he declares with words, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58), and “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), these “words” that declare his deity are confirmed and authenticated by the “works” (i.e., miracles) that he does. That is, he is the Messiah of God, he is the God-man, and one way we know this is that he does works only God can do when he performs these works in the power of the Spirit. (Interview with Bruce Ware,
Now, R.C. Sproul has posted a helpful article entitled 'Does R.C. Sproul Believe in Miracles?'. The short answer is 'no' but he goes on to give some good justification as to why not. Interestingly, he roots his rejection of modern day miracles (according to his own tight definition) in the same premise as the above. Namely, he doesn't expect to see miracles today because miracles act as a proof of God's special anointing for a specific task. Given that he doesn't expect to see Apostles (or, presumably, Messiahs) around today, he equally doesn't expect to see miracles either.

It's an interesting article worth a read.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Coalition for Marriage and the end of the English language (supposedly)

Andy Evans has written an insightful piece regarding the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) claim that government provision for same sex marriage will lead to the dismantling of the English language as we know it. You can view the C4M video here.

I won't expand on Andy's comment too much as he has been much more erudite than me. I will limit myself to the following comments:

  • Andy is right to agree this is something of a mangling of language but is absolutely correct this has always been the nature of language itself. So, in reality, this doesn't represent anything of a new departure.
  • It is true that people can call whatever they like, whatever they like. As highlighted by this video, we often use such arguments in apologetics. We can rob any word of all its meaning and invest it of any characteristics we will. Ultimately, however, the characteristics of a thing are what define the thing itself, not the word we ascribe to it. We have no problem whatsoever making this connection in respect to defending the existence of God (we can call him a computer if we will), so why should this issue be any different?
  • Whilst I am sure C4M have some good points they could make, I'm afraid this simply is not one of them. As Andy rightly notes, this is misleading and manipulative. In truth, such misinformation hardly helps the cause of those who support C4M. Christian people should be characterised by truth and light; this latest video can hardly be said to be that.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Could you go on a beach mission this year?

United Beach Missions (UBM) work in Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe to take the good news of Jesus Christ to those who would otherwise never hear it. For many of the people we meet, UBM is their first and only encounter with the gospel.

The missions have been up and running for 4 weeks and we have already heard of at least 3 people who have trusted the Lord through this work. We expect to hear of many more over the course of the summer.

UBM wouldn't be able to operate without team members. The organisation require c. 1000 volunteers to man around 90 weeks of mission throughout the summer. This year, bookings have been down and many of the missions are in need of support.

Anyone who has trusted Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, and believes the Bible to be the word of God, the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct is welcome to apply. Previous experience or special abilities are not necessary. There is a place on a Beach Team no matter what your previous experience has been.

Clearly, as even just the early weeks of missions this year have shown, UBM really does work. Ask yourself, could you be a part of it? Could you give just one week this year and take the gospel to those who sorely need to hear it?

For more information visit

Thursday, 11 July 2013

"Whole-lifers", inhumane treatment and basic human dignity

A recent story, carried by various media outlets, reported whole-life jail terms without review have been deemed a breach of human rights by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Unsurprisingly, outrage has not been hard to come by. In a guest post on the Archbishop Cranmer blog, Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen seems miffed. Similarly, the BBC reports several UK government ministers are not best pleased. The usual scroll down the Guardian comments section will lead you to several other unhappy customers.

I want to limit myself to the following brief points:

  1. The ECHR have not ruled that it is inhumane to imprison somebody for the rest of their natural life. They have merely stated that all prisoners should have a right to review with the possibility of release. It does not follow that, upon review, prisoners will be released necessarily.
  2. The outpouring of anger in response the newspaper headlines seems to rest on the idea that heinous, inhumane crimes revoke one's right to humane treatment. "Whole-lifers" had such scant regard for the lives of those they attacked that their human rights should be treated with equal disdain, they aver.
  3. Whilst there may be some debate over the nature of human rights and that which constitutes basic human dignity, scripture is clear that all humans are of inherent worth and value, worthy of respect and require a certain level of dignity by virtue of being made in the image of God
  4. Scripture nowhere reasons that sin warrants the removal of basic human dignity, inherent by being God's image bearers (see here for a more full defence of this view). 
  5. Therefore, even the most heinous crimes do not legitimise inhumane treatment. One may wish to argue against the notion that whole-life sentences without review are inhumane - that is certainly a legitimate debate to be had. Equally, there is legitimate debate to be had over what constitutes inhumanity. However, if our argument rests on the idea that inhumane crimes warrant inhumane treatment we may struggle to find biblical warrant for that view.
  6. Equally, how would we determine which crimes are so heinous they warrant removal of basic human dignity and those which, although sinful and clearly viewed seriously by God, do not warrant such treatment? How far would we be able to move away from self-justification and existential arguments of sins most people commit and those particularly horrendous one's that are only categorised as such because we don't tend to do them?

Friday, 5 July 2013

Tony Miano arrested for 'hate' speech - full video and police transcript

Yesterday, I posted a link regarding the recent arrest of Tony Miano - an American street evangelist preaching outside Wimbledon.

Since then, a full video of the incident and police transcripts of the subsequent interview have been made available. These have been published on the Cranmer blog. Calvin Smith has responded to the story and posted his reaction here.

Having read the transcript and viewed the video, it appears Mr Miano doesn't do himself any favours on occasion. The officer admitted and exhibited theological illiteracy several times yet Mr Miano continued to explain sin in such a way that the officer misunderstood Miano's view. Nothing he said thereafter did anything to divest the officer of this misconception. Only once did he identify himself as 'a sinner', though not really with clarity. This can't have helped the officer move from his view that 'sinners' are bad people for doing x, y and z whilst the preacher is not such a one. Similarly, it took some pointed questions from his legal counsel to even come close to drawing out the points that (a) he was not intending to offend anybody and; (b) he was not intending to convey the idea that he is good whilst everyone else is sinful (though, as I mentioned, even this was not spoken of with clarity).

Similarly, Cranmer rightly points out that Mr Miano's own version of events are not entirely borne out by the police transcript. He notes '[Mr Miano] specifically stated that the police asked him if he would be prepared to feed a hungry homosexual (corroborated in Christian Concern's press release). This transcript establishes that these words were, in fact, Mr Miano's own; not those of the interrogating police officer. This sort of misinformation or exaggeration really doesn't aid a person's credibility'. Although these were specifically Mr Miano's words, they were a specific example used in direct response to the officer's question 'if someone you knew as a homosexual came up to you and asked you for a favor [sic], you'd quite happily offer them that favor [sic] would you?'.

Nevertheless, Calvin Smith is apt to comment: 'Whatever your view of street preaching, or the style or approach of this particular preacher... we have indeed reached a sinister stage in our country where a single individual who is "offended" can result in the arrest, fingerprinting, DNA sampling and interrogation of another individual'.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Two separate and independent thoughts on freedom in Britain

Here are two interesting posts on freedom in Britain:

The first, from Andy's Study, discusses the ongoing Edward Snowden saga and how the British  government seem equally intent on prolific data collection.

The second, from Cranmer, discusses the recent arrest of Tony Miano - an American street evangelist arrested outside Wimbledon. Whatever one feels about Mr Miano's view, such treatment seems heavy-handed to say the least. At least Section 5 of the Public order Act will be reformed (see here).

Anyway, two interesting posts worth some reflection, wherever such reflections may lead.

Edit: Full video and Police transcripts of the Tony Miano arrest have now been made available and can be viewed here.