Category Archives: Christianity in the News

3 in 10 children don’t know about the origins of the birth of Jesus

Children and parents ‘unaware of Bible stories’

Nativity play

Widespread ignorance exists among children and parents about the contents of the Bible, research has suggested.

Surveys for the Bible Society found almost three in 10 young people were unaware the story of the birth of Jesus came from the Bible.

A similar number of children had never read or heard about tales of the Crucifixion or Adam and Eve.

The report was based on a poll of 800 children aged eight to 15 and about 1,100 parents.

Good values

The study revealed a generation of children with little knowledge of the most important stories forming the basis of Christianity, and parents who often knew little more.

Of the children who were questioned, more than a third failed to identify either the Good Samaritan or David and Goliath as Biblical stories.

Many of the parents who responded saw the Bible as a source of good values for their children.

But almost half did not recognise the story of Noah’s Ark as coming from the Bible, and many confused Biblical stories with plotlines from well-known films such as Harry Potter.

The Bible Society commissioned the study as part of its Pass It On campaign to encourage parents to give the stories to their children.

The group said the findings were "symptomatic of the fact that many children indicate they have never read, seen or even heard these stories".

Read the full story at BBC News….

 

Other articles on the same story…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2553576/The-Bible-ignorant-youngsters-tell-Noah-Adam-Third-children-didnt-know-Nativity-story-came-Holy-Book.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/children-and-parents-dont-recognise-famous-bible-stories-9114255.html

Women Bishops and the Bible

imageIf you are confused about the latest vote within the Church of England later today then the Bible should be your point of reference.

Read the article on “What Does the Bible Say About Women Bishops?” to understand what God intended for man and woman.

Bideford Town Council prayers ruled unlawful

A town council in Devon, a county in the UK, which says prayers before its meetings, is judged to have been acting unlawfully.

I thought this was an interesting story.  Firstly, I had no idea that prayers were even held at secular meetings.  And now I have learnt that although this practice seems to be fairly widespread among local council meetings, it has been ruled unlawful.

Perusing the article reveals that it is not unlawful as regards breaching human rights, it is unlawful under a particular statute from 1972 which holds that the local council has no power to summon its members to meetings which includes prayers.

Prayers may still be held, but councillors cannot be formally summoned to attend.

So does this represent the further erosion of Christianity in our society, or is it a mere nonsense given the secular nature of our society?

Such a practice is centuries old in England and the article states that it dates from the Elizabethan era.  In those times England was a wholly Christian country and it would have been the norm for such a meeting to open with prayer.  The King or Queen as head of the church was more involved in political matters in those days, and religion and state were firmly intertwined.

Today only vestiges remain of such a society.  The issue with regard to the holding of prayers has more of a historical feel to it than a religious feel.  Those who are objecting probably object equally to the tradition being uprooted as they do to the removal of the prayers.

In the 21st century religion and state are in the main separated.  Many leading politicians say they are Christian, as do a vast majority of citizens on their census form, but many of these people simply regard Christianity as part of their heritage rather than something practical that affects their everyday lives.

Nevertheless it gives some reassurance to genuine Christians that those who govern the country do try to take the wishes and will of the Almighty into consideration.  I myself was pleasantly surprised that such a practice existed, rather than being annoyed that it may now cease.

What matters ultimately it not whether public prayers are said prior to council meetings, but what is inside the hearts of those who rule this country.  Do they truly have God’s will as their own?  Do they always act in the best interests of others rather than themselves?  Looking at the country as a whole the answer has to be no – or at the very least, those who do fall in that category are a minority.  Human nature always seems to overrule godly nature these days in matters of politics.

So let us be thankful that a Christian minority does exist out there, and that sometimes its voice is heard.  Don’t forget that we can always use our own prayers to ask that those in charge of our countries are ultimately acting in a way that will bring God’s plan for salvation to fruition.

 

What is the world coming to?

The title of this post is a phrase I have heard repeatedly over the past few weeks in the UK.  I’ve heard it from people at work, people I chat to on my daily commute to work, and people at church.  People are of course referring to the recent outbreaks of rioting and looting in the major cities.

I work in the city of Bristol myself which experienced some mild disruption, but nothing that affected me personally.  It seemed clear though that your average person could not even remotely comprehend the mindset of someone who would want to go round stealing from and vandalizing businesses, and in some cases causing physical harm to others for no reason.

Many theories have been bandied around as to the causes of these local uprisings.  Among them were boredom, poor social upbringing, lack of father figures, lack of moral guidance, lack of respect for authority, and protests against rising taxes and welfare cuts.  I suspect that the true answer lies in a combination of all of the above and more.

I want to explore the proposition that a lack of moral guidance can eventually lead to anarchy.  Where does moral guidance come from?  There are two possible sources: external and internal.

External moral guidance comes from leaders, either political or religious. People take their morals from what the law of the land says is right and what their religious leader or religious book says is right.  People who are aware of or take notice of these morals are likely therefore to stick to doing what is right so that they don’t face the consequences of wrongdoing, either in this life – or the next.

I also believe that people have an innate sense of right and wrong, an internal moral compass if you like.  Some people say that if no-one believed in God there would be no such thing as right and wrong but I find that hard to believe as there are many, many agnostics and atheists who do good works.  Internal morals seem to me to be a consequence of the society one lives in.  For the good of society its better to help others, not cause others harm, and to reciprocate good deeds.

So the links between the above comments and the impulse to loot and riot seems to be that firstly, today’s leaders and politicians are not perceived as holding high moral standards.  There has been a culture of lies, cover ups, spin, and getting away with what they can.

Secondly religion of any kind is no longer a high priority for the majority of the UK.  Many people do not believe in any God, or accept any religious text as truth.  Consequently this form of moral guidance is seen as little more than archaic rules which have a historical role in the original formation of the laws of the land.

This leaves the internal moral compass.  It seems to me that society is dragging itself down, and the morality of certain sections of society has become focused on the individual and what those individuals can get for themselves.  As this attitude of entitlement spreads from parent to child, and family to family, people forget that there was ever any other way of thinking.  The moral compass falls lower and the individuals concerned do not have any concept of how to right it, or even any concept that there is anything wrong with it.

What can I say?  I would call on politicians to clean up their act, to act for the good of the people and not the good of themselves and their party.  I would encourage politicians to endorse respect for religion, particularly Christianity in the UK, and to hold its beliefs as admirable.  I would advise them to get back to Biblical morality even if the faith element is not present, and to use these values to correct the internal moral compass of Great Britain.

Will the politicians learn from the events of the last few weeks?  We shall see, but I suspect not.  And yet only good can come of having respect for each other and each others property while we await the coming of our true moral leader, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The end of the world is nigh…

So why didn’t the world end yesterday?  Where was Jesus?  No doubt you read the many newspaper and internet stories about a gentleman named Harold Camping, and the many people who believed in his prediction that 21 May 2011 was the day of the rapture when Jesus would come to save his true believers and the rest of the world would perish in earthquake and fire.

It didn’t happen.

Here we all are, a day later, and nothing has changed.

And yet despite the craziness surrounding this non event I find a small amount of sympathy for the people who truly believed this was going to happen.  As a Christian I know what it is to long for the second coming of Jesus.  I believe that the Bible teaches the return of Christ, the resurrection of believers, the judgment, and then the setting up of God’s kingdom on earth which will be a cleansing of our poor abused planet.  I can’t wait for that day, and I know many other Christians who feel the same way.

Unlike Mr Camping though I also believe that “about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24 vs 36) and I’m afraid that anyone who therefore says they know the exact date of the return of Christ must have been misled.

What we have been given is some signs, so that we can look at the world, and see that the time of the return of Jesus is drawing ever near.  It is however impossible to be dogmatic about it.  So what should we be looking out for:

  • The Jews returning to their land – which quickly progressed with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
  • Unrest and warfare in the Middle East centered around Israel.
  • An increase in natural disasters.
  • Men’s hearts “failing them for fear”.
  • Troubled times among world leaders.
  • A decline in the moral standards of society.

All of the above are signs given to us in the Bible that the time of the return of Christ is near – and all of the above have happened to a greater or lesser degree over the past fifty to one hundred years.  How much worse will things get before we see the coming of the Son of Man with power and great glory?

We don’t know the answer, but we must all continue to watch and be ready, so that when the day finally comes we will be welcomed with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25 vs 21)