The parable of the mustard shrub

This is my sermon for this coming Sunday, based on the Gospel reading’s parable about mustard.

I have designed it to illustrate two things. The first is how New Testament scholars analyse early Christian texts to shed light on what Jesus said and meant. The second is how this kind of research sometimes challenges earlier views and presents Jesus as a much more radical and exciting character. My main source is John Dominic Crossan’s The Historical Jesus. Crossan’s interpretation is disputed but I find it convincing.

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Steve Chalke, Pompeii and the clobber texts on sex

Steve Chalke’s new video analyses the New Testament ‘clobber texts’ on homosexuality in the light of artefacts reclaimed from under the volcanic lava at Pompeii.

If you want to see lots of artistic representations of male genitals and sex acts, you will enjoy the video. Alternatively, if you already know what they look like, Chalke shows how those New Testament texts had bigger concerns to address than loving same-sex partnerships. The excavations at Pompeii reveal what a first century Roman city was like and what ordinary people were up to in the minutes before the volcano buried them. It is not a pretty story.

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God: are we exploring further in, or climbing out?

‘God: none, one, three or many?’ was the theme of Modern Church’s annual conference earlier this week, chaired by Jane Shaw and Linda Woodhead.

We were in the company of people who believe passionately in God and don’t believe in God at all; people who question what we mean by ‘God’, and whether we can possibly answer the questions; people who value their church but don’t see the point of God, and people who value God but don’t see the point of churches.

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Grenfell Tower and Hillsborough: who is to blame?

28 years on, six people are to be prosecuted for the Hillsborough tragedy. What, just six? Is that justice? Is nobody else to blame?

What about the more widespread culture of mutual support and avoiding blame, among the police just as in many occupations? After all, whistleblowers are unpopular – and the louder the whistle, the more unpopular the blower.

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