Detail of US dollar note with 'In God We Trust' altered to read 'In Gold We Trust'

So at long last the British economy is growing again. We are all supposed to be delighted.

It will mean more money, more jobs. The Government has already gone up in the opinion polls as a result, so lots of people really do believe that economic growth is the one thing that matters above all else. Politicians know this, and expect that at election-time the state of the economy will be far and away the most important consideration in the way people vote.

In other words we are treating the economy as a god. It is the one thing which has the power to give us what we need. It is therefore the one thing to which, above all else, we must give whatever is demanded.

William Blake illustration

Last week I put up a post ‘Why Christians shouldn’t believe in the devil' and also wrote a letter to the Church Times, published yesterday. I’ve received more responses than usual. Some agreed with me, some disagreed on the basis of biblical authority and some disagreed because they wanted to emphasise the reality of evil.

I agree about the reality of evil, but I don’t think explaining it as the work of the modern devil is the answer.

Child's drawing of the devil

The debate continues about the devil in the Church of England Baptism service, with two articles in today’s Church Times.

Angela Tilby finds all the talk of ‘the deceit and corruption of evil’ to be ‘overloaded and even intrusive’. Instead ‘the question is how we reach out to families who are not regular churchgoers, but still want to feel that they are part of Christendom through the baptism of their children’.

So far so good; but the other article, by Gavin Ashenden, has the virtue of addressing the underlying question, whether the devil exists at all. Ashenden thinks he does.

Silhouette of mother smacking child

Last week the Guardian reported that a woman who was filmed smacking her overwrought five year old ‘at least four times’ on the backside has been sentenced to a six-month community order. The chairman of the bench declared that she had to be 'punished'.

The worst thing about corporal punishment is that it degrades and humiliates the victim. But the ‘punishment’ meted out by the court to the child’s mother was also degrading and humiliating, and all the more so for having been brought about by her partner’s secret filming of this particular incident, which he claimed was one of many. 

Dr Doolittle with the two-headed llama 'pushmi-pullyu'

Now that recent controversies have revealed the downside of hardline dogmatic Christianity, there is increasing interest in liberal theology. What is it, and who are the liberals?

I have been involved with Modern Church for 30 years and have just stepped down after 11 as General Secretary. I’ve got to know a lot about liberal theology, both in the academic world and in the churches. Here I describe my experience of liberals in the churches.