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This is the talk I gave at St Brides, Liverpool last night, in the ‘What’s so special about religion?’ series. The title was ‘What’s so special about Christianity?’

My aim is to draw out how Christianity has meant different things at different times, by giving a brief summary of its history. I am not claiming any deep truth for my nine stages. You could divide up Christian history in any number of ways. This is just my way of summarising what seem to me the most distinctive types.

This is my sermon for Palm Sunday, based on Matthew 21:1-11. I was brought up to think of Jesus’ procession with the donkey and the palm branches as one of the most colourful stories in the Bible, but without the foggiest idea why he did it.

Recently biblical scholars have examined the background and explained what it would have meant at the time. There is a readable account in Borg and Crossan’s The Last Week.