Topical issues

Topical issues

Two worlds – to which do you belong?

At the beginning, God placed man in Eden’s paradise. The original creatorial order was marked by harmony between the Creator and His creation under the rule of Adam, heaven’s vice-regent on earth. Satan then engineered a rebellion which resulted in Adam rejecting God’s authority. Adam shifted his allegiance from God to the arch enemy Satan, and since that time the whole world has lain in the lap of him who the Bible calls the “prince of this world” and the…

The Alpha Course examined

The hugely popular Alpha Course, written by ex-Barrister turned Anglican Curate Nicky Gumbel, styles itself as a friendly, fun and non-threatening ‘practical introduction to the Christian faith’. Summarised in Gumbel’s best-selling book Questions of Life, Alpha involves people attending fifteen 40 minute talks, spread over ten weeks. As of 2015, more than 18 million people have participated in The Alpha Course in 169 countries. Alpha has been translated into 112 languages. In line with Gumbel’s theology and church affiliation (Holy Trinity Church of England, Brompton), Alpha is fully ecumenical1…

Christian music festivals – a warning

Lifest is an annual 4-day Christian music festival that takes place in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA, each July. It attracts around 20,000 attendees per day and features around 100 artists performing on 6 different stages. It is a member of The Christian Festival Association, a group representing all the major Christian music festivals held in the United States and Canada, which are attended by a combined annual total of over 1 million people. The music served up at these festivals is ‘Contemporary Christian Music’ –…

Contemporary song books examined

In 1874, as a result of Ira Sankey’s much loved choice of hymns at D.L. Moody’s evangelistic crusades in the UK, the Sacred Songs and Solos hymnbook was born. 110 years later, in preparation for the 1984 visit to England of Billy Graham, a new hymnbook called Mission Praise was born. It was understandably strikingly different to ‘Sankeys’, but also to the hymn book used during Billy Graham’s first visit to England, only 31 years earlier. Between 1953 and 1984 the charismatic…

Examining contemporary praise and worship

Assessing contemporary praise and worship (CPW) is a tricky task for two major reasons. Firstly, the phenomenon is less than 70 years old, and secondly, it is a varied and constantly changing field of study. Yet, for all its variety, CPW exhibits four enduring features, which distinguish it from all that went before it, during 1,900 years of church history, namely: 1. New Actions: singing in tongues, dancing in the spirit, clapping and hand waving. 2. New Appointments: ‘worship leaders’, ‘worship teams’,…

What makes a meeting an ‘assembly gathering’?

A survey of the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline epistles reveals that churches in the first century assembled for a variety of regular meetings, among them; prayer meetings, Bible teaching meetings and, of course, the Lord’s Supper.1 On such occasions a whole local church would come together “into one place”.2   Paul the apostle described attending such meetings as being “in church”,3 an expression helpfully explained by Jack Hunter: “…‘in church’ with no article…refers to the assembled gathering. We always belong to the…

The triumph of experience over truth in evangelicalism

Across vast swathes of evangelicalism, doctrine and theology have become dirty words. What “feels good” has won the day. Exposition has been surrendered to entertainment, preaching to performance, doctrine to drama, and theology to theatrics. Anyone questioning the “big band feel” of the contemporary church will soon discover that you can argue with a doctrine, but you can’t argue with an experience. With apologies to Decartes, “I feel, therefore I am” pretty neatly sums up where we are today, as…

Is “One Man Ministry” scriptural?

A young man feels ‘called to the ministry’. His pastor recommends him to go to Bible College for three years to become fully equipped for his vocation. At college he is rigorously trained, his trial sermons are assessed and his final examination papers are passed. At last he is ordained, swearing to uphold the college’s Confession of Faith. He is now a qualified pastor with recognised ordination papers, and his name carries the prefix ‘Reverend’. Contact is made with a…

What about transubstantiation and the Mass?

Once a matter of life and death, transubstantiation is now generally a matter of indifference. Turn the clock back 450 years and transubstantiation is one of the hottest issues of the day. On the one hand the Roman Catholic Church taught: “If any one shall say that…[in the Mass]…there remains the substance of bread and wine together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; and shall deny that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of…

What is the difference between propitiation and atonement?

This article was originally published as a book called Atonement – Old or New Testament Doctrine? It is taught by many that ‘atonement’ is an exclusively Old Testament idea that means to “cover sin up”, whereas ‘propitiation’ is a New Testament truth that enables the actual putting away of sin. Bible teacher Mr Samuel McBride (Northern Ireland) begs to differ. He makes a powerful case here, from the original Hebrew and Greek, that the Old Testament concept of atonement and the New…

Is the Sabbath for Today? Should Christians be Sabbatarian?

The question of the Sabbath, and whether or not Christians are expected to observe it, is a huge issue in the minds of many people. The world’s largest Sabbath-keeping group is the 20-million-member 7th Day Adventist Church. Their Saturday Sabbath message is making headway on all continents and they are growing rapidly. Broadly speaking there are three basic options when it comes to the ‘Saturday Sabbath’: The Creatorial Sabbath view holds that God instituted a compulsory ‘no-work 7th-day Sabbath’ at the beginning…

What is hypostatic union?

C.H. Mackintosh once remarked that, “The truth respecting Christ’s humanity must be received with scriptural accuracy, held with spiritual energy, guarded with holy jealousy, and confessed with heavenly power. If we are wrong as to this, we cannot be right as to anything.”1 That being the case, Christians ought to pay special attention to exactly what happened at the incarnation – when Christ “came in flesh” (1 Jn 4.2, 1 Tim 3.16). The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is fully God and…

Did the Lord take anything from Mary?

Some have suggested that the physical body of the Lord Jesus was directly created by God from nothing. No physical or genetic link existed between Christ and Mary because God created the Lord’s body without using a mother’s ovum, just as He had done once before, in a different manner, with Adam in Eden. This, it is claimed, ensured Christ’s sinlessness when He became flesh. This idea may be well intentioned, but it is wide of the mark for the…

“Christ, of the substance of Mary” – A history of the defence of the doctrine

Elsewhere on this website a defense is given of the truth that, in His incarnation, the Lord Jesus took of the substance of the virgin Mary (See Did the Lord Take Anything from Mary?). Below is an account of the centuries-long battle that has been fought over this particular issue, given so that the current generation might learn from the valiant and principled defence that preachers and theologians have given of the real, true and blessed humanity of our incarnate…

The virgin birth of Christ

Dr A.J. Higgins M.D. (New Jersey, USA) takes up the vital, foundational topic of the virgin birth of Christ: Apart from the resurrection of Christ, no truth is so maligned by the scientifically conditioned and rational mind as the virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. While it is sung about in carols, recited in creeds, depicted in crèches, and sentimentalised in Christmas cards, surveys reveal that the majority of those who label themselves ‘Christian’, do not really believe it.…

The DaVinci Code – A Christian response

Dan Brown, author of best-selling novel “The DaVinci Code’, claims to know the truth about the greatest cover-up in human history. Though the information he discloses already existed in older non-fiction books such as ‘Holy Blood Holy Grail’ (Dell, 1983) and ‘The Templar Revelation’ (Simon & Schuster, 1998), it took what ‘The Boston Globe’ called a ‘dazzling performance’ by this previously almost unheard of American novelist to introduce this conspiracy theory to the wider world – first in print and…

Postmodernism – explained and exposed

“What’s true for you may not be true for me,” encapsulates the postmodern idiom fairly well. Despite its recent origin, postmodernism currently dominates Western 21st Century media, academia, politics and much of ‘the church’. Statistics reveal that a majority of young people in the West hold to the following ‘truth’; “There is no such thing as absolute truth.” A thing may be cool, OK or workable, but to say it is ‘true’ implies something else is ‘false’, a judgment call…

Counter-cultural Christianity

In the beginning, God placed man in Eden’s paradise. The original creatorial order featured harmony between the Creator and His creation under the rule of Adam, heaven’s vice-regent on earth. But Satan engineered a rebellion which resulted in Adam rejecting God’s authority. Adam shifted his allegiance from God to Satan. Since that time the whole world has lain in the lap of him who the Bible calls the “prince of this world” and the “god of this age”.1 As punishment for…

The Bible and euthanasia

Dr. A. J. Higgins M.D. (New Jersey, USA) sets out the Bible’s teaching on debility and euthanasia: Shakespeare said it back in 1600: “Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” Solomon’s description in Ecclesiastes 12 is even more graphic: the keepers of the house trembling, the grinders ceasing because they are few, fears arising and desires failing, until finally the wheel is broken…

The Bible and climate change

Dr. A. J. Higgins M.D. (New Jersey, USA) sets out the Bible’s teaching on the environment: Tree huggers, climate-change alarmists, green earth policies, zealous recyclers – we are inundated by the social movements of our day. Stay more than one night in a hotel and you have the option of reusing towels to help ‘save’ the earth. Your linens are only changed every third or fourth day, unless you brazenly demand it more often, to the detriment of the entire…

Gambling and Alcohol – a biblical perspective

Dr. A. J. Higgins M.D. (New Jersey, USA) tackles two epidemics of 21st Century western culture – gambling and alcohol – and examines them from a Biblical perspective. Any student of American history quickly recognises the name of Eliot Ness and his “Untouchables”, who enforced prohibition in Chicago during the 1930’s. Alcohol and gambling, both illegal at the time, were viewed as moral evils, responsible for crime, and recognised for their destructive influence on family, society and individuals. The “noble…

Does ‘social work’ fulfil the great commission?

Despite being continually mocked, threatened and beaten for preaching the gospel, the apostles refused either to give up or to change tack. Why? Because they had an unshakeable confidence in the Lord and in His authoritative command – the mandate He had given them – which is now commonly called ‘the great commission’. The brevity, clarity and succinctness of the Lord’s instructions surely helped to preserve the apostles from becoming confused or side-tracked in the face of political, cultural and…

Should Christians watch movies?

If you a Christian who loves movies, here’s a challenge for you. Are you willing to consider the following five issues that might upset your viewing habits? Before watching a movie, consider: 1. Content The vast majority of Hollywood, Bollywood and the rest of the film industry’s content is sprinkled, if not saturated, with infidelity, impurity, vulgarity, violence and blasphemy. Why? The sensational gets noticed. Sex sells. So, the envelope has to be constantly pushed and the ratings have to keep slipping.…

The Christian and social media

It only takes a couple of minutes to download Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. You gain some connectivity, some fame and maybe even make some money. But there’s a downside. You lose your privacy, liberty, tranquility and sanctity, and may never get them back. All in 2 minutes. 1. Privacy Have you ever wondered why social media is free? It’s because Instagram and Co. make almost all their money from marketing your data to advertisers. Hence they make…

The Bible and genetic engineering

Dr David Vallance, a Christian medical doctor from Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, gives a Biblical perspective on the difficult and contentious issues of genetic engineering, designer babies, fetal harvesting and transhumanism. In the beginning, God directed Adam to subdue and rule the earth, and everything in it (Gen 1:28). In this “dominion mandate” the Lord called the man to use his intellect, creativity and strength to enhance the beauty of creation, and to extend the Garden over all of Eden and…

Is it OK for a Christian to smoke?

Is it right for a Christian to smoke, or to play the lottery, to watch movies, to follow sports, to play computer games or to be on social media? You will search in vain for a Bible verse that directly addresses these items – and for a good reason. When God gave us His written revelation in the 66 books of the Bible between 1,500BC and 100AD, these things did not exist! But what the Bible does do is give us numerous timeless…

I’m a Christian. Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

David K. Vallance, M.D. (Ann Arbor, MI, USA) I have written this paper to address questions many believers have asked me about the new COVID-19 vaccines.  I recommend getting a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can (unless you have had a serious allergic reaction to a similar injection in the past).  Vaccination is not only proper stewardship of your body, but also vital support for a world in pandemic crisis.  Society needs help desperately, and Christians should lead the…

5 reasons why tongues have ceased

Millions of people around the world claim to have the “gift of tongues” and to be able to “speak in tongues”. That the Bible speaks of such a gift is beyond dispute. The New Testament books of Acts and 1 Corinthians contain historical and doctrinal information relating to this gift. Two vital issues need to be considered: The modern phenomenon of “speaking in tongues” is not the same at the Biblical gift of speaking in tongues/languages (See “Tongues were Real…

Tongues were real languages

“Speaking in tongues” has been a leading feature of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement ever since its inception. The first supposed occurrence of “tongues speaking” in the modern era took place at 11.00pm on Jan 1st 1901 in Topeka, Kansas, USA, when Agnes Osman claimed to possess and use this gift. Aside from the historical fact that the gift of tongues ceased functioning with the death of the 12 apostles, the greatest proof that modern ‘speaking in tongues’ is not Biblical is this: Biblical tongues were…