Snippets from the interweb (19th May 2019)

The staggering rise of the church in Iran

Our church is reaping the benefits of this. We are an English-Farsi bilingual congregation with c.50% of the church coming from Iran, most seeking asylum. Many fled because they became believers whilst others fled for other reasons and encountered the gospel when they joined our church. But the church in Iran remains one of the fastest growing in the world.

Were the First Christians Socialists?

Kevin DeYoung answers a very different question to the usual one. He doesn’t ask whether Socialism is Biblical, if Socialism is evil or even if the Bible permits Socialism, as many do. As someone who subscribes to Socialism, whilst I would argue Socialism is Biblically permissible, it is revisionist to suggest the Early Church were proto-Socialists.

What terminal cancer taught me about life

My mate, Jeremy Marshall, has been picked up by the Spectator writing about his experience facing terminal cancer. ‘It’s true that hope with no factual basis is nothing more than a delusion. Yet I am convinced that the Christian story is real – and it brings me hope, even in the depths of my despair.’

Follow the money

‘A few months ago I heard a genuinely shocking statement at a leadership conference for pastors. The individual was saying that he wanted people in his community to think of his church before any others in the local area, and said quite matter-of-factly, “I’m after market share. And I don’t apologise for that.” I have no idea whether anyone else in the room was troubled by it (though I hope so); I certainly was, and it has come back to trouble me on and off ever since. What sort of pastors (or churches) are we, when someone can use the language of market-based competition to describe partnership in the gospel, and think nothing of it?’

Islamophobia definition creates a backdoor blasphemy law

I was grateful to see this story picked up on BBC Politics Live. It is also interesting to see the wide range of people who have put their names to this letter. It is a particularly pertinent one for anybody who, like us, is engaged in meaningful, robust and – most importantly – truthful Muslim-Christian Dialogue.

Answering the abortion question that is bound to come

You are a staunch opponent of abortion rights. Many have argued, even members of your own party, that your position is too extreme for most Americans and could hurt your chances in the General Election. Would you really tell a rape victim that she must carry to term a child that was forced upon her by an act of such cruelty?
That’s a hard question, but I am going to answer it, because anyone running for President of the United States must be willing to answer hard questions.’

From the archive: making arrangement when people lead ‘chaotic’ lives

‘One of the questions that seems to regularly crop up in relation to working in deprived communities is this, how do you arrange meet ups when people lead such chaotic lives? I think there are several assumptions in the question that need exploring before we can answer it. For example, just how chaotic are the lives of these guys? Some of them might be, but not all of them. Similarly, why does a bit of chaos in one’s home life necessarily have to translate into chaos everywhere else? Also, rather than assuming someone didn’t turn up because their life is chaotic, it seems worth asking a more basic question: why didn’t you show up?’