Falconry and parrotry

I always seem to be picking on Springwatch, whose last programme of the season I watched from a recording yesterday. But the show exemplifies the “we now knowism” of popular science, in which all the uncertainties and frank contradictions are air-brushed away to produce a religious faith in Science™. In this case the subject was birds of prey.

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She don’t lie, she don’t lie, Cochrane

What started me investigating propaganda and related topics, around nine years ago now, was the strange phenomenon of how public attitudes on sexuality had (ostensibly) been dramatically reversed in just a decade or so, as if by magic. Another decade has shown up many of the mechanisms, such as institutional capture, mass formation and so on. But it still remains strange how it is far easier to sell lies than truth to ordinary people.

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Teach your children well

I’ve been considering another unhealthy feature of Charismatic theology, but realised that it largely arises from a wider modern misunderstanding of the whole human condition. And that feature is the prioritisation of unrealistic supernatural expectations in children. In particular, I’m remembering how our kids were taught at a Well Known Bible Week held in Spring. Our bad for acquiescing in it.

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Tell me the old, old story

If I look back over the thirteen years of this blog, its various preoccupations might be summed up in the idea of “threats to the Christian faith.” Being a Christian, I might also interpret that as “threats to the human soul” or even as “threats to the well-being of mankind.” Even Richard Dawkins seems to be on board with that last conclusion now!

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Exactly why did the gift of languages cease?

More to the point, why did it start? After all, there is no Old Testament precedent for the gift of tongues, and (unlike the ecstatic glossolalia shared by many groups) it is not a common feature of religion like prophecy, divine healing,or exorcism.

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Trump and the antichrist (sounding the last trump?)

When I wrote my e-book Seeing Through Smoke in 2019, it was because I saw the increasing waves of deception in public life, and the role of propaganda in effecting them. Seeking to tie this into a Christian worldview, I mused (without pretending to be prophetic) that the final deception foretold both by Jesus in the Olivet discourse, and by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2, could only realistically envelop the world now that the tools of mass-manipulation have been perfected, and the Internet and social media have made instant communication possible around the globe.

At that time, I counted as factors against our days being this climax of history (a) the relatively quiet state of Israel, militating against an Armageddon-type battle involving that nation (rather than the worldwide church, which is rather scattered for that kind of event), and (b) the lack of any obvious candidate for a personal antichrist figure. Note in passing that I’m fully aware that the “spirit of antichrist” has been abroad since NT times, as 1 John testifies, but a final individual pseudo-Christ seems to be what the New Testament predicts.

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The neglected member of the Trinity – because of Pentecostalism

One of the commonplace messages of the “Charismatic Renewal” was that the Church had neglected the Spirit – the third Person of the Trinity – since sub-apostolic times, and that it was high time his role was acknowledged. It seems to me this history is very far from true. In fact it is the Charismatic/Pentecostal teaching that has severely restricted the role of the Spirit to a purveyor of power encounters and spiritual gifts. In some cases, like Jenn Johnson’s (worship leader of Bethel’s) comparison of the Spirit of Holiness to “a sneaky, blue genie-of-the-lamp,” it even blasphemes him.

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Mea Culpa (de Spiritu Sancto)

In the current series of posts on Charismatic theology, it has been easy to give the impression of having been the wise one who saw all the pitfalls from the start, and avoided them. This is very far from the case. It is certainly true that from the first I was cautious, having been converted several years before I came across Charismatic teaching or practice. It’s also true that I was always suspicious of theological or practical excess, and more so when I had had some experience of it (what do you say to the girl who arrives on your doorstep and tells you that the Spirit moved the handlebars of her moped until she involuntarily turned up at your house?).

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What the Bible should have said #25, #26 and #27

For the last forty years or so that I’ve been “doing journalism” as a Christian, I’ve occasionally written pieces on “What the Bible should have said,” adapting texts to match what people actually believe, or do. A couple of examples are here and here (the serial numbers are arbitrary). I now find that, like so much nowadays, it’s no longer a spoof, but a real Thing, termed “deconstruction” and practised by progressive Evangelicals to rewrite morality, and by anointed Charismatic worship leaders either to comply with modern “apostles,” or to escape their clutches.

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Short-changing the Holy Spirit

Today is Pentecost Sunday. It commemorates the fact that after the first pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem fifty days after the Resurrection, each and every year Peter led the Jerusalem church in prayer, so they were all filled with the Holy Spirit again, and again spoke miraculously to the gathered diaspora pilgrims in their own languages, after which Peter preached his annual sermon, and thousands were always saved. That’s why Charismatic Jewish Christians repeat the miracle in Jerusalem even now for foreign tourists, at Pentecost…

What? Charismatics don’t do that annual miracle? And you say that even Peter and the Jerusalem church didn’t, so that in Acts 11 the baptism of the Gentiles in the Spirit was compared to “the beginning” rather than to an ongoing pattern of experience? You mean that the Pentecost phenomenon was a one-off event for a special purpose? How come Alpha never told me that??

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