Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Unconsidered difficulties for Christians in the face of moral decline

There is currently no pressure group making greater advances in today's society than that which advocates the cause of homosexuality. Almost on a weekly basis it appears that decisions are made to accommodate their desires, with anyone who opposes it being labelled as a bigot and homophobic. The recent law to allow gay marriages in England and Wales has already given rise to one homosexual couple launching legal action to force the Church of England to carry out gay marriages on their premises. Beyond the area of homosexuality, stories have been run recently by the BBC on 'polyamorous relationships' where four people live in simultaneous relationships with each other. Meanwhile in Kenya two men have announced an agreement to marry the same women in a wife sharing deal. When we consider such immorality we often think of its general effect of society, and of the pressures which churches and Christian businesses will be placed under, yet we often forget the difficulties which will arise for individual Christians in their normal daily life as such standards become more widespread and accepted.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Repentance unto life

What is repentance? We could answer the question cynically by saying that repentance is something which is rarely mentioned, for in many churches today it is no longer preached upon, the truth of the gospel being watered down so much that sin and repentance are absent from most sermons. The seeker sensitive method of preaching is employed instead, leading men to preach only upon that which the people wish to hear. The need for sinners to repent is not popular, therefore it is disregarded and left out of the message. Yet however unpopular and unpalatable the doctrine of repentance many be to sinful man, it is a necessary part of true conversion and something which needs to be repeatedly brought to the attention of those who are outside of Christ. Question number 87 of the Shorter Catechism describes repentance unto life as 'a saving grace, whereby a sinner out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience'. This statement gives a very clear description of what true repentance is, identifying five distinctive characteristics:

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Was Christ really punished for our sin?

The Presbyterian Church (USA) recently created controversy with its decision to drop the hymn 'In Christ Alone' by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend from its new hymnal. The reason for this decision centred around some of the lyrics found in verse two which stated 'on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied'. The presbytery committee in charge of the new hymnal had wanted to substitute 'the wrath of God was satisfied' with 'the love of God was magnified'. When the authors refused their permission for this change, the committee then took the decision to drop the hymn rather than include it with the original words. The reason for their taking issue with the words of that line centred around the word 'satisfied' and its link with the doctrine of penal substitution; that Christ as our substitute bore the wrath of God on the cross which we deserved and so satisfied the divine law. So are the PCUSA right in their view that the cross is not an instrument of God's wrath or did God really punish Christ on the cross?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Why Integrated Education is detrimental to the future of Protestantism in Northern Ireland

In 1981 Lagan College was opened as the first integrated school in Northern Ireland, with the purpose of educating Roman Catholic and Protestant children side by side. Today some 22,000 children attend over 60 integrated school across Northern Ireland, at both primary and secondary level. The issue of integrated education has become prominent once again in the media over recent months, and all of the main political parties in Northern Ireland have come out in favour of a single educated system. Whilst some have described their preferred option as being shared education, as opposed to integrated education, the differences between the two are minimal for they both have the same purpose, to break down barriers between the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities in Northern Ireland. It is clear that the future of education in Northern Ireland will be strongly influenced by the shared/integrated model with more children being educated this way.