My former pastor, Bob Sheehan, used to say that a heretic was not distinguishable by his looks: heretics do not have horns or an 'H' imprinted on the forehead. Equally, history suggests that heretics can be very nice people with the best of intentions.
Today sees the consecration of Rev. Libby Lane as Bishop of Stockport, the first woman to be made a bishop of the Church of England. This is a historic occasion: since Henry VIII’s break with the Church of Rome over 450 years ago, every Anglican bishop in this country has been male - until today.
Sometimes in preaching, the simplest rules are the best: every sermon needs both doctrine and practical application.
John Owen insisted on this: doctrine alone leads to intellectual pride; application alone leads people away from the gospel. Here is what he says, in his commentary on Hebrews:
LTS will be holding a Roadshow for pastors and other church leaders on 21ST October at Tinshill Free Church, Leeds. We would be very pleased to see any pastors or other church-leaders who would like to come.
What we are hoping to achieve through this roadshow (which we will be holding in various parts of the country) is:
Preachers know that their preaching needs to to expound Scripture accurately and clearly, communicate with the audience in an engaging and structured manner and apply its message to those present. There are plenty of good materials available to help preachers in developing these skills, for which we should be very thankful.
There is, however, one vital element in preaching which can be neglected in our desire to improve our abilities. That element is faith.
John Newton wrote a very helpful letter on the vexed question of guidance - how does the Lord direct us in daily life? What kind of guidance can we expect to receive from God for the decisions we have to make?
A UKIP leaflet has just come through our door, urging us to vote for them in the forthcoming European elections. The party's main concern seems to be immigration - that Britain is being harmed because too many foreigners are coming into the country.
Putting aside economic, social, legal, patriotic and other arguments for one moment (on all of which, by the way, I suspect that I disagree strongly with UKIP), in what ways would a restrictive immigration policy help the gospel? I really can't think of any.