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December 2015


Re: Proposed Government consultation of Ofsted and church groups
The Government's proposed Consultation on its proposals to allow Ofsted to inspect church groups' work is both ludicrous and sinister.
It is ludicrous because there is no evidence that such groups' teaching has ever led to acts of extremism or un-British behaviour. More often it is other groups'  activities which have had this effect. It is illogical therefore that that the Government should direct its attention to innocent parties.
More fundamentally, it is sinister as being another attempt by the State to interfere in and regulate religion. Apart from the expenditure of time and money involved in such investigations, what guarantee is there that the inspectors would have accurate knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith?
It is imperative that as many individual Christians of all denominations and their leaders respond vigorously to the Government's Consultation to reassert the "Crown rights of the Redeemer" and to make it think again. We only have until January 11th to make our voice heard.
Fred Stainthorpe
(editor's note: a Baptist Union document on the consulation can be found here)

Re: 'Don't bomb Syria': growing numbers of Baptists
I wonder how many of these people would also have supported Neville Chamerlain in 1938. Then the choice was between Hitler and Stalin, whereas today it is between Islamic State and Assad.
Today some Baptists feel that it is OK for Islamic State butchers to be allowed to continue unopposed despite their mass muder of fellow Muslims, Yazidis and, last but not least, our fellow Christians.
My reply is simple: "not in my name". I never knew over 30 members of my family thanks to Chamerlain's infamous Munich agreement, as they were murdered for being Jewish. Now a few of my fellow Baptists want to do nothing about another bunch of murdering fascists. I struggle to imagine how they reconcile this with belief in the One who overturned the tables of the moneychangers and drove them out of His Father's Temple.
A wise man said that evil abounds when good men do nothing. We must not allow the evil of Islamic State to continue a moment longer. I did not vote for this government earlier this year but I support their proposed action today and urge other Baptists to resist the siren voices of the "do nothing" brigade.
John Smith

Hi John,
Are you referring to the sentiments of those who signed the statement when you talk of 'these people' and 'doing nothing', 'unopposed', etc? I've yet to meet anyone who advocate that passive approach and not heard a whisper of it among those who signed.
Those who put their name to the statement were signing a statement that included:
"...following the example of Jesus, in radical enemy love and subversive acts of nonviolence; not fight or flight, not inaction, but, as Martin Luther King Jr said, through nonviolent actions that strip the oppressor of their power."
Peter Dominey

Re: Daring Greatly through spirituality ... with the courage to be real
thanks for raising that question, Phil. many of us have forgotten to dare- now Ken Evans at our Chester Street church is beginning to work with T4G, a Ministry to the local homeless [paulsavedby grace@live.co.uk ]. God Bless
Mike Brain

Re: Another way of responding to ISIS
I love the idea of using better propaganda (ie telling people what life under ISIS is really like). I'm not sure that it is so easy to stop their propaganda by DOS attacks on web servers because they use highly distributive networks and social media.
As to stoping their oil revenues - isn't that one of the reasons for bombing? Oil fields were the first targets of UK bombs acc to http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-air-strikes-in-syria-live-raf-launches-first-bombing-against-isis-hours-after-parliament-a6758236.html
David Instone-Brewer

Hi David - thanks very much for your comments. There are multiple facets to this aren't there. However the one thing we really don't seem to be doing well is the positive propaganda especially directed at people who sympathise, fund and sometimes end up actually joining extremist groups. My main point here was that the bombing campaign is largely an emotive response and if it were restricted to oil pipelines that might be OK, but i doubt that!
Chris Goswami

Re: Christians and Credit Unions
I would echo most of what Chris Lewis says about credit unions - and would certainly urge Christians to use their local credit union as an ethical source of financial services.
I do have to take issue with his final paragraph though. Distinguished? I'll never live that one down!
Tim Presswood

Re: Caring for a loved one with dementia
I also cared for my parent with dementia. Even now after two and a half years since my Dad passed I keep repeating myself. This is what I learned. I recall when I asked Jesus into my life and said a prayer of commitment I kept repeating it in case Jesus was busy the times before. LOL (laughing out loud). Now I make excuses like this is what the psalmist did. i.e. Saying things over in a different way so that the message is understood. Well I read somewhere that the master art of intelligence is to be able to communicate to all people at all levels of intelligence. So when we are preaching in a highly intellectual manner using a wide variety of words to communicate the gospel, if we don't repeat ourselves with different words to explain the same message, will we be held a ccountable on judgement day for the 80% of the congregation who are walking past us who know and are saved, will the less intelligent on their way to hell say but I did not understand why did you not explain? I know what you are thinking, but just try to reach as many people as you can with plain English. Using everyday experiences which people can relate to can demonstrate how Jesus gave his life for us. We gave a part of our lives back to our parents as they gave many years looking after us. Everyday words with everyday messages reach everyone everyday. I remember going to the bathroom to cry so he did not see me, then coming out with a big smile and going over everything again. I recall sitting in the car with him after trips away for the day when he would say are we going somewhere? I got an opportunity to share the gospel with him. He did go somewhere. Where are we going? I am writing a book too but not about my father on earth. It is called "where are we going - in my tiny mind" not for under 18s.
Alison Whiteford Bell

Re: What happened next?  The shepherds
Thank you for sharing that - its great to get us to use our God given imagination! .... and maybe the conversation really DID happen ...
Chris Goswami

Re: Jesus was an asylum seeker
A few points.
The execution of children up to two years old was in my opinion probably a matter of bureaucratic overkill (pun not intended). Herod had no definite knowledge of when the baby had been born; and he would have allowed maybe a month or six weeks to elapse. The squad of soldiers he sent out wouldn't have taken the time to examine birth certificates, the order would have been to kill any child who looked under 2 years old.
I doubt that Joseph planned to stay in Bethlehem longer than was necessary for Mary to regain her strength to travel; he would have wanted to get back to his established business in Nazareth.
With regard to the journey into Egypt, the Roman Empire would have been a territory of (more or less) open borders - although there may have been a fee to pay at border posts. There was a well-defined road from Judea to Egypt - although probably not safe from bandits. One might also assume that there was some infrastructure to support travellers.
Joseph also took refuge in the nearest safe country; he did not travel to Britannia - or even Rome.
Once arrived in Egypt, there was already a Jewish community in Alexandria, and elsewhere , so there would have been a community to support the family, and to provide an opportunity for work for Joseph. Joseph may well have known some basic Greek, enough to get by with officialdom and the local community. No problem about claiming benefits either, since there weren't any.
Joseph also returned to his home city as soon as it became safe to do so.
Jeff Evans

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