Saturday, January 25, 2014

St Gregory-the-Try-Harder ... A Convoluted Tale of Two Churches

by Norman Walford

“You do know he wears make-up, don’t you?”
This was one of the milder comments I got when I announced to a few select friends that after 14 years of struggling to find my place in the Pharisee Church of St Gregory-the-Try-Harder, I was throwing in the towel. From now on I would be transferring my allegiance to Nearly Creative, the rapidly growing megachurch down the road, and its secretive, multicoloured, multicultural, senior pastor—his real name is a closely guarded secret so I’ll just call him “JP” for now. (Not JC, that’s already taken.) He of the make-up. I’m not sure what colour lipstick he wears—I’ve never got close enough to find out, and I probably never will. Such is the massive popularity of the church I’m just happy if I can get in through the door on a Sunday morning, forget any thoughts of getting close enough to the front** to check his mascara isn’t running under the lights.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Universalism - Did Paul Really Believe in Hell?

by Norman Walford    16th January 2014
Talking about Jesus and Hell last week, I mentioned briefly that St Paul never uses any of the standard Hell-words such as Gehenna, Hades, or the lake of fire, such as we find elsewhere in the New Testament . I was surprised at this, and surprised at myself also that I’ve taken so many years to discover such a basic fact. Sometimes we just see what we expect to see and filter out the rest.
I got curious about that, so this week I’m asking the question for my own benefit as much as for anyone else’s, if Paul doesn’t use these words, then what words does he use, what does he mean by them, and what did he actually think about ‘Hell and all that’.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Universalism – Did Jesus Believe in Hell?

by Norman Walford   10th January 2014
I had a serious shock a couple of months ago when a Christian friend of many years’ standing whom I have always held in high regard started dropping hints that he was moving in the direction of Christian Universalism—the doctrine that says that all men without exception with eventually be reconciled to God, that the penalty for sin is not everlasting.
I confronted him with the question So do you think that Jesus Christ himself believed in Universalism? and after some prevarication he replied that there

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A New Beginning – Is it REALLY That Simple?

Pharisee Churchby Norman Walford
4th January 2014

28 years ago last month, I resigned my job in a respectable London hospital and headed for the ski slopes of Switzerland. I remember dire warnings from my boss that I would never get another job again, but I wasn't too worried. When you've got God on your side, you can take risks that others can't. I knew He would look after me, and so it proved. It broke a bondage in my life, and looking back it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Now 28 years later I'm doing something similar, again back on the ski slopes of Switzerland but this time mainly to write not to ski.  Life is very short, and the older you get the shorter it looks. Like the saying goes, "No one ever lay on their deathbed and said I wish I'd spent more time working." I get a bit of correspondence back from what I write, and some of it shocks me. Yesterday I replied to someone who told me the way to get close to God is to read the bible for a minimum of four hours a day, and believe me they get much worse than that! One thing I've finally learned is that we don't get to God by trying harder, and in fact trying harder is often the surest road to becoming the ultimate Pharisee.