Category Archives: Global issues

Is Jesus left wing? (You better believe it!)

Here’s something you might not hear at church: Your Jesus is not the real Jesus.

The conservative right wing have co-opted Jesus as their personal mascot. But their Jesus is not the Jesus I see in the Bible. The latest cover article of The New Statesman magazine looks at this issue in an excellent way. You can read a lengthy extract below, or the full original at the New Statesman website here.

What would Jesus do?

Mehdi Hasan
Published 15 December 2010

Conservatives claim Christ as one of their own. But in word and deed, the son of God was much more left-wing than the religious right likes to believe.

Was Jesus Christ a lefty? Philosophers, politicians, theologians and lay members of the various Christian churches have long been divided on the subject. The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev once declared: “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.” The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, went further, describing Christ as “the greatest socialist in history”. But it’s not just Russian ex-communists and Bolivarian socialists who consider Jesus to be a fellow-traveller. Even the Daily Mail sketch-writer Quentin Letts once confessed: “Jesus preached fairness – you could almost call him a lefty.”

Continue reading Is Jesus left wing? (You better believe it!)

The death penalty – pause for thought

I have just posted a blog entry on my business focused blog site, ConnectionEconomy.com. It may interest you. I compare two women both found guilty of murdering their husbands and sentenced to death by their countries’ courts. But one is Iranian and so her sentence is labelled “barbaric”. The other is American and many American Christians therefore consider her verdict to be “justice”.

Why two very different responses? Read my blog entry here and see what you think. It’s a useful intersection of two very similar stories that might help us to examine our own cultural lens, and discover that what we think are eternal moral issues related to God’s unchanging standards and decrees might actually just be culturally conditioning.

Expanding Youth Professionals Opportunities

This paper, originally published in the peer reviewed Journal of Youth and Theology, edition 3, volume 1, 2004 (see http://www.iasym.org), aims to expose youth professionals to a number of opportunities within the corporate business world. This will enable youth professionals to self-fund their ministries/work, as well as gain credibility and experience in their area of expertise. The paper outlines the need that the corporate world has with regards to an understanding of today’s youth culture, as well as provides specific guidelines for ministry professionals who wish to pursue part-time (or full-time) consulting work in the corporate world. The paper specifically ignores theological and ethical issues such work may provoke. Since it was written in 2003, it also doesn’t take into account the many social media and digital opportunities to prove your expertise that are now available. These should obviously be utilised as part of developing one’s profile.

Expanding Youth Professionals Opportunities

The contribution that not-for-profit youth professionals can make in the corporate world
by Dr Graeme Codrington (2003)

The Professional Youth Ministry Problem

One of the abiding complaints of professional youth ministers and workers1 around the world is that they are not taken seriously. They are often seen as glorified baby-sitters or cheerleaders. Yet, in an increasing number of countries, there is a growing number of professionally trained, well qualified, called and committed life-long career youth workers and ministers (“youth professionals”).2 These people are as qualified in their specialised field as any other professionals are in theirs. Their expert knowledge and critical skills in fields such as childcare, adolescent development, youth culture and group dynamics, together with deep understanding of related disciplines, such as theology, psychology, sociology and education, set these youth professionals apart in today’s world. Yet, they are often not accorded the recognition they deserve, or the responsibilities they are equipped to handle.

In addition to these systemic challenges, youth professionals also facea financial challenge at the start of the 21st century. Churches, denominations, missions and youth agencies are no longer receiving the funding they were some years ago.3 Budgets are tight, and full-time youth professionals are seen as a luxury in many places. Many are ridiculously underpaid, and cannot sustain a career, and therefore are either forced to go part-time, or to abandon youth work/ministry all together.

Continue reading Expanding Youth Professionals Opportunities

Would Jesus burn the qu’ran?

A church in Gainsville, Florida, USA, has started an international campaign to make 9/11 (11 September) an “international burn the qu’ran day”. They even have a Facebook fan page dedicated to it (I am NOT going to supply a link to it). The small church is called ‘Dove World Outreach Center’ and pastor Terry Jones is unmoved by growing international outrage at the planned burning of 150 copies of Islam’s holy book.

The Quran, according to Jones, is “evil” because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims. You can do a Google search for news of this event, and how even the US military is running a bit scared as they fear reprisal attacks by militant Muslims all over the world (inspired not by the qu’ran, but by hatred for the West and for those opposed to Islam).

I am not going to comment on the ramifications of such madness, although my head is spinning at how much damage one small church could potentially do around the world.

My only simple question is a spiritual and theological one: Would Jesus burn the qu’ran?

There may be debates about whether Jesus would be inclusive towards Muslims or not. I think he would have been, but I can see how some Christians would read their Bibles in such a way that indicates that Jesus would have excluded them from his friendship circle. There may be discussion about whether Jesus would have tried to engage with Muslims. I think it’s clear he did engage with people from other religions, and always did so with respect, tolerance and love. But again, I can (only just) see how some people read their Bibles and gain a different, more strident picture of Jesus. There is certainly debate about what Jesus taught us to do in relation to other religions. I see Jesus instructing us to engage, to be loving and respectful. I can see how others would interpret the Bible to say we should proselytise and point out error in other religions, and protect ourselves from contamination.

But all of these debates aside, I still have just that simple question: Would Jesus have burnt a qu’ran?

I cannot fathom any interpretation of the Bible or understanding of the nature of Jesus that would allow one to answer ‘Yes’ to that question. Pastor Jones might be right in his interpretation of Biblical truth (I think he’s not), but I cannot believe that burning a qu’ran is a Christ-like response.

I want my Muslim friends to know that anything that happens at ‘Dove World Outreach Centre’ this 9/11 weekend is not done in my name. I am a Christ-follower and I am abhorred that something like this could be done in the name of Jesus. What would Jesus do? I think He is weeping right now…

Salaam. Shalom. Peace be among us all.

Rich Stearns’ Speech at Mobilisation to end Poverty in Washington DC

First posted on the old blogsite on 7 June 2009

This is the text of a speech given by Rich Stearns, World Vision President and author of “The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? the Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World” (buy now on Kalahari.net or Amazon.co.uk), at the Mobilisation to End Poverty held in Washington DC in April 2009. Although the speech is addressed at an American audience the principles are true for all of us.

Rich Stearn – World Vision
Mobilization to End Poverty

April 27, 2009

Good morning.

I want to thank Jim Wallis and Sojourners for organizing this historic meeting. I believe that our country and our world may stand at the brink of one of those momentous turning points that we usually see with greater clarity in retrospect than we do in the moment. 1776 was a turning point that changed the world order. 1860 was a turning point election that settled the issue of slavery three years later after the bloodiest war in our history. 1918 and 1945 were turning points that concluded two world wars and restructured international power dynamics while creating the multilateral institutions that would influence the world during the cold war and after. 1989 was a turning point that saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the cold war. Why is 2009 a turning point? First, just as we witnessed the bankruptcy and inadequacy of Communism in 1989, we are now witnessing the bankruptcy and inadequacy of unrestrained Capitalism in 2009. This is a tough thing for a former corporate CEO to admit. Second, we are just now beginning to accept and understand the dire consequences of the global carbon economy that was the birth mother of a global economy based on unsustainable consumption. Third, and of considerable significance and perhaps more hopeful than the first two, is that we have just had an historic election that was a radical departure both racially and generationally. It is hopeful because it may be that the ingredients for a radical shift in the direction of global politics are now in place just as they were when Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy were elected.

Continue reading Rich Stearns’ Speech at Mobilisation to end Poverty in Washington DC

Welcome new readers – a quick intro to the conversation thus far

Every now and again I’ll do a quick overview of my favourite posts – and that can act as a nice introduction for new readers and a navigation tool for those who want to “catch up” with some of the thinking and conversations on this blog.

The purpose of this blog is to help Christians and those seeking faith to find new ways to think about what it means to be a Christ follower. I have been writing and blogging on this topic since 1995, and this blog includes a selection of new and old stuff I have been working on. Some of it I’d die for, but some of it is purely experimental (I try and let you know which is which). The point is not to present a fully worked through systematic theology, but rather to allow you to enter into an ongoing conversation with me. If you like, this is just my journal – and you get to look in…

So, with that said, here is a brief intro to some of the posts on this blog:

Continue reading Welcome new readers – a quick intro to the conversation thus far

The Challenge of An Aging Population

In 2001, I was editing a magazine on the future of church ministry. I approached respected author, academic and church consultant, Richard Kew to write about what he thought was a critical future trend the church needed to be aware of. This is what he wrote. Now, nearly a decade later, it’s still important, and his advice should still be heeded.

Last weekend I was invited to speak at, and participate in, a consultation on ministry among the aging. It was a fascinating weekend. I learned a lot, met some interesting people, and (I hope) was able to make a small contribution to the process. This weekend I sat down with the November 3, 2001, issue of The Economist, and found a major survey of the near future by Peter Drucker that has me questioning — as well as building upon — some of the things that I said last Saturday!

Drucker is venerable in every sense of that word. Now 92, his mind is still as clear as a bell, and for someone who is highly unlikely to live long enough to see some of the things he is talking about, he is obviously very engaged with what tomorrow might look like. At the heart of some of his projections is his recognition that the developed world’s population is aging to such an extent, that the social safety nets all western democracies have put in place are utterly inadequate.

Here’s a nugget to ponder: “By 2030, people over 65 in Germany, the world’s third-largest economy, will account for almost half the adult population, compared with one-fifth now. And unless the country’s birth rate recovers from its present low of 1.3 per woman, over the same period its population of under-35s will shrink about twice as fast as the older population will grow. The net result will be that the total population, now 82m, will decline to 70m-73m. The number of people of working age will fall by a full quarter, from 40m to 30m.”

Continue reading The Challenge of An Aging Population

Graeme Codrington writes for Jim Wallis and Sojourners

This was originally posted on 28 March 2008

Every now and again, I make a connection with one of my heroes. Sometimes it’s attending a live event with them (I usually find a way to get them to sign a copy of their books for me – I collect signed books!). I have had the privilege of organising a few of these events. I have also shared a platform with some of them. Sometimes it’s a bit more random – I have bumped into a few people in the weirdest places on my travels.

I have long been an admirer of Jim Wallis, and his work with Sojourners. It was a real privilege to be asked to contribute to a series of blog entries about the Iraq War, leading up to the 5th anniversary of the start of the war. My entry has now been posted here – and reproduced below. Read the whole series here.
Continue reading Graeme Codrington writes for Jim Wallis and Sojourners

Bible verses on gun sights

This story is a bit old, but I only picked up on it recently. In January this year, it emerged that a Michigan company, Trijicon who provides sights for high powered rifles and guns in America, had been putting Bible verses onto the sights provided to the American military. It has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army. Read the story here – including a video.

The picture I saw (included in this post), referenced John 8:12, where Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” I also saw 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” The company believes this is part of an evangelistic mindset. Besides the standard, “Honesty, integrity, quality, teamwork, etc” of their corporate values, they also have a value of “Morality” which they define as: “We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals.” They achieve this by manufacturing and selling sights for rifles with Bible verses on them??

Might there be other Biblical verses they could consider including on their products? Maybe Luke 6:31: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Or maybe John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” What about Romans 14:19: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Or Psalms 11:5: “The soul of the Lord hates… those who love violence.”

The fact that these sights are used in a Muslim nation by a military that specifically does not act in the name of any religion just adds fuel to this fire. The sights are also fitted to guns supplied to soldiers of the militaries of those Muslim nations, supported by the USA. Two years ago, it emerged that some US soldiers were using a Quran as a target in firing practice. Now this story. No wonder the Muslim nations still hark back to Crusades! Shooting Muslims with Jesus rifles – that’s not even a metaphor for Crusade!

The Director of Sales and Marketing for Trijicon, Tom Munsen, said that the verses had “always been on their sights, and there was nothing wrong or illegal in adding them”. Really? Is he serious? This is a self avowed Christian company on a Christian mission. And they see “nothing wrong” in helping people to kill other people more effectively?

Within a week of this story breaking, Trijicon had agreed to remove the verses from the sights supplied to the US military.

I am almost speechless at this story. It is SO wrong and SO many levels that I don’t know where to begin. I’ll just leave you to decide how to respond…

You should be hearing this at your church: Christians need to be pacifists.

Synthetic Life created – this changes everything

I have been predicting it for some time, and today it was announced! Craig Venter runs the company that first sequenced the human genome. Now, his team has created what they’re calling synthetic life.

They’ve actually created an entirely synthetic genome, built from chemicals in a lab. They inserted the genome into a cleaned out cell. When they did so, the new genome fired up exactly as if it were a “natural” genome.

Read the press release here.

Of course, everything has gone crazy. The media are in a frenzy. Some claim he’s playing God. Others are freaking out that these things will “escape” into nature and destroy life. And some are saying that it will end disease and bring about paradise on earth. The truth, as always, will lie somewhere in between these extreme views.

But this changes everything. Mark this day. A new era has dawned.