theological reflections

Looking to the cross

Image of three crosses on sunset background

It will surely have escaped no reader's attention that we are now less than a week away from Easter, that happiest of all days in the Christian calendar. This is the central celebration of our faith. It's a time when we remember the staggering, unthinkable sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross; when we rejoice at the earth-shattering power that God displayed when he raised him from the dead; when we recognise once more the forgiveness, power and hope that are ours now because of God's wonderful gift. In this celebration, the cross and the empty tomb are both equally important.

The whole of life for Christ – Keswick 2015

This summer marked the 140th Keswick Convention. The Keswick Convention is a three-week long meeting of Christians in the Lake District with a history of Bible-centred teaching alongside practical seminars. It’s for all ages and interests and of course set in one of the most awe-inspiring parts of the British Isles.

I am a leader on the 19-24s programme and so was excited when I learnt that the theme of this year’s convention would be ‘The whole of life for Christ’. It would encourage us to

Life After Death: a call to research

There are few topics in theology that so readily act as a prism to refract one’s worldview and reveal various strands of one’s theological commitments as the topic of life after death. When discussing what happens at death one very quickly reveals one’s hand on a variety of issues. Three that spring to mind are the following: the value and purpose of human life, the ontological nature of the human person and the efficacy of Christ’s death on the cross.

Easter stories and perspectives

I’m struck by the richness of St Luke’s account of the first Easter. I always find it fascinating how the Gospel writers juxtapose the elements of their accounts, especially Luke: how one episode sheds light on the next once I ignore the chapter breaks. And the passion narratives are especially rich for their compilation of different people’s perspectives. There’s something here that reminds me of academic diversity – as I shall explain anon.

Studying with a view to heaven

The following is my summary of a sermon preached by Tom Wright in the chapel of St John’s College, Cambridge some years ago. As an undergraduate, I was gripped and inspired by this vision for my calling as a student. The main text was Revelation 5 [1], and there were also illuminating references to Job 29 and Psalm 8, the other texts for that particular evensong. The image above is my diagram illustrating his sermon.

God with us (in the lab)

It’s hard to predict how I will feel at the end of the Christmas break. Will I be refreshed and eager to get back to work? Or will the thought fill me with dread? Or both?

It can be especially difficult when your day-to-day work is somewhat mind numbing. Every PhD has these phases. (If yours doesn’t, I want to know your secret!) How can you go from pondering the birth of Jesus Christ one week, to spend the next week wrestling with your data, poring over arcane ancient texts, fighting with test tubes, dredging through reams of articles, or debugging your spaghetti-like code?

In support of a rest

Recently I took time out of a holiday to finish preparing a conference paper. At the same time I could see a colleague becoming more stressed with the pressure of their work load, and read an article by the Vice Chancellor of a large British university, in which he admitted that university staff could not be expected to absorb any more work.