Satan, evil and a merciless God

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.

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Why Christians shouldn’t believe in 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.

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Justice, mercy and smacking

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. 

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Two directions for liberal theology

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.

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Baptism and evil

The Church of England’s liturgical commission has produced new wording for Baptism services. Alternative words are offered for parts of the service which some clergy complained were incomprehensible to parents and godparents in areas of multiple deprivation.

As I don’t do baptisms in my retirement it isn’t personally important to me, but I thought the baptism service in the Alternative Service Book was awful and the one in Common Worship worse.

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