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How To Survive in the
Pharisee Church
and Other Questions for Confused

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Ten Reasons Why I Am Not a Fundamentalist  April 2012

ACTS of the Apostles

Week 1 (1.1 - 1.26)

Week 2 (2.1 - 2.42)

Week 3 (2.43 - 4.37)

Week 4 (5.1 - 8.1)

Week 5 (8.1 - 9.42)

Week 6 (9.1 - 10.48)

Week 7 (10.9 - 12.23)

Week 8 (11.1 - 12.23)

Week 9 (13 - 14)

Week 10 (15 - 17)

Week 11 (18 - 21.17)

Week 12 (21.18 - 23)

Week 13 (24 - 26)

Week 14 (27 - 28)

These are entirely unedited since their original use. Some
show overlap where we didn't get as far as we expected and
had to retrace. Others are a bit rough-and-ready.

Fallen ... but HOW?             27th August 2014

Last week on the golf course, we encountered a troop of monkeys whose
members had picked out one of their number and seemed to be trying to
drown him/her in one of the large ponds that are scattered along the course.
We scared them away. The victim was left standing alone by the water,
staring around him disconsolately.      
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Are We Getting Better ... Or Worse?                            21st July 2014

This month I've been struggling through one of the so-called all-time greats of
Christian literature—that is, “The City of God” by St Augustine of Hippo.
Listening to it as an audiobook, I can just about keep going. If I had to read it in
print, I wouldn't have a chance. It's very long and very pedantic. It starts out
as total tedium, brightens up for a few chapters in the middle, and then the
relapses back into total boredom. In spite of all this, it's a worthwhile
experience ...         
 Continue Reading  >>>

Your Wife Divorced You WHY??                      10th March 2014

“My wife divorced me because she said I wasn’t spiritual enough.”
Wintering in an Alpine ski resort has given me opportunity of meeting all
kinds of interesting people who have made their homes here temporarily or
permanently. Some of these I meet in our little Anglican Church congregation
and some out in the wider community. In the old days ski bum was the
preserve of the teens and twenties; now you get them in their 40’s, 50’s and
60’s. They all have a story to tell, and perhaps even a skeleton or two in the
cupboard. ...
Continue Reading   >>>

Oh Juno! … What Have You Done?                    20th February 2014

This is the week that I found out that the publisher of my book
How to Survive
in the Pharisee Church
has collapsed after being taken over by a
fundamentalist Pharisee cult. Everyone else seems to have seen this thing
coming for about the last two years. For me, who’s supposed to know about
Pharisee things, I’ve just found out. Wake up Norman! Show a bit of interest
in what’s going on around you …

 Continue reading >>>

St Gregory ... Wonderworker or Try-harder?     February 2014

The history books I have not been kind to St Gregory the Try-harder. He has
no Wikipedia entry. Until recently if you Googled him you wouldn’t have got a
single hit, though happily that’s starting to change now. In the annals of
church history he has become, strangely, something of a nonentity. Why he
has been neglected for so long is a bit of mystery. It may simply be that our
Gregory never achieved anything in his life ...

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St Gregory the Try-Harder ... A Tale of Two Churches
                                  24th January 2014
“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 ...

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Universalism - Did Paul Believe in Hell?           17th 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.
Pharisee Church

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’.

 Continue Reading >>>

Universalism – Did Jesus Believe in Hell?        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
? and after some prevarication he replied ...

                              Continue Reading >>>

A New Beginning – Is it REALLY That Simple?   4th Jan 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. ...

Continue Reading >>>

The Green Eyed Monster                            29th November 2013

In my last post I discussed how I was planning to experiment with moving from having one ‘church’
to having two ‘churches’. This experiment is now moving along, and I have to say that I’m pretty
happy with it so far.

IN MIDWEEK I go to St Gregory’s, our rather staid old Anglican-evangelical congregation with its
pronounced Pharisee leanings, its ‘try harder’ theology and the Holy Spirit relegated to the role of a
bit-part player. That’s OK. ...

 Continue Reading >>>    

One Church or Two – How Many Do I Need?  9th Nov 2013

The church I attend is quite a sophisticated church, with a lot of sophisticated people in it. They
tend to be quite high achievers in worldly terms, and they’re certainly not short on self-belief.  They
know what they think and believe, and it’s not negotiable.

it’s a pretty mainstream evangelical church, part of a larger denomination and broadly in line with
their wider thought. It just reflects the party line really. There’s nothing wild or extreme about it
(perhaps that’s part of the problem)  and I can’t argue with it, that would be like arguing with a
brick wall. But I have some problems with it.

I’ve noticed with most preachers  that they really only have one sermon, which is repeated, with
variations, week after week. That’s certainly the case in our church, where the standard sermon
can be summed up in just two words: “Try harder!” ...

 Continue Reading >>>    

Rethinking Repentance                              September 2013

I’m halfway through listening to an audiobook—
The Jewish War by Flavius Josephus. The book was
written in AD 75 and recounts ...

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What is SIN anyway?                                         July 2013           

I’ve always had trouble understanding just what this word—SIN—means. It gets used often enough
in church but the definitions tend to be a bit vague. It’s like, “If you don’t know what it means then
by definition you must be doing it.”
Here are two questions, or examples, of the sorts of quandary I have sometimes found myself in
Continue Reading >>>

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Idiosyncratic Bible Studies from the archives of the
Men's Group at the Church of St Gregory-the-try-harder


Galatians 1 - 2

Galatians 3

Galatians 3 out of order

Galatians 4 - 5.12

Galatians 5.13 - end

My principle contribution to the study of the New Testament
has been to rearrange the verse order in Galatians chapter
3 so that finally it makes sense. Take a look ....