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Re: Council statement on Same Sex Marriage
I am deeply concerned with the situation arising from the BU Council Statement on Same-sex Marriage. The BU Statement of Principle says that "each church has liberty under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His Laws". This has lead to many churche being 'guided' to reject same-sex marriage and to others being 'guided' to accept same-sex marriage.
What does this say about the Holy Spirit?. What kind of a mixed message does it send to our land which is increasingly turning away from Christian values to ill-defined and so-called British values, when we cannot even agree amongst ourselves as to what constitute true Christian values? Is an outward appearance of 'union' really more important than faithfullness to Scripture?. Does not Spurgeon's plea for the adoption of a meaningful statement of faith still echo down the years?
I am reminded of the words of Dr R P Martin, a Baptist and Professor of Biblical Theology in the USA written in 1995, when he said "An unwillingness to define with precision the faith that it professes to believe is a symptom that something is desperately wrong with a church and it's leadership. It is impossible for such a church to function as the 'pillar and ground of truth' ". Or as Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, "If the bugle gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle?".
Roy S Gibbons

Re: Human sexuality and identity
Since Genesis, God makes it very clear: He made them male and female. When a male and female come together and create a union for life and have children that’s marriage according to the authority of Bible. Jesus agreed. No hermeneutical lenses required.
Alan Taylor

Much of what I read from reflections on this issue seem to me to place unity above biblical integrity. I think that's wrong, and support the West of England Baptist Association position of resisting same sex marriages in its area so far as it can and upholding the authority of scripture. I don't see how a union can hold together when some are apparently encouraged to celebrate what others see as in direct conflict with scripture.
We can't have unity at any price. Nor can we consider all views of scripture as equally valid, as some have exchanged the truth about Go d for a lie (Romans 1).
I am sure the church has not been sensitive enough pastorally to those who struggle with same sex attraction and that it has also magnified homosexual expression above other sin. I struggle with aspects of my sexual desire which I have been able to share in a supportive small-group environment and it's what helps keep me on the narrow way. But I'm clear what the Bible teaches and I need brothers and sisters who will "tell it as it is", not those who will accommodate my sin in order to be inclusive. To those outside the church we need to be clear what scripture teaches, compassionate in our approach, avoid magnifying oner sin above all others, and see the potential in all. God can do great things in us!
David Peters

Re: Bethlehem Bible College: a sign of peace in the Middle East
I was disappointed but sadly not surprised to read this one-sided article about the Bethlehem Bible College. It fits with the narrative that the college uses for its bi-annual hate-fest against Israel called "Christ at the Checkpoint".  
It saddens me that the Baptist Times has carried such a one-sided article and has made no mention of the trials faced by members of the First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, who are oppressed on every side by the Muslim-dominated Palestinian Authority.
This year, laughably some might think, Christ at the Checkpoint had to be held in Beit Jala as the Palestinian Authority could not even guarantee the safety of Christians against terrorism if the conference were held in Bethlehem as planned originally.
Every couple of years a group of Israel-haters (plus a few folk who optimistically hope to change their minds) gather to say why they think that Israel is the root of all the problems in the Middle East, conveniently ignoring what Arabs and Iranians are doing in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt etc. etc.  
Perhaps if more people took seriously what Jesus our Messiah meant when He said that He had not come to abolish the Torah (Law/Teaching of the Old Testament) but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17-20) then we would not have so much false teaching in our churches today? Indeed, if more people knew what was written in the Old Testament, it might make them think more carefully about the casual anti-Semitism that many believers from a Jewish background (including myself) have encountered over the years.
I urge you to read again the chapters of Paul's letter to the Romans that so many preachers never speak about, namely chapters 9 to 11.  Ask yourself honestly whether the church today, including the Baptist Church in some places, is not guilty of the arrogance of which Paul writes in Romans 11:20 (read verses 17 to 21 to put verse 20 into context).
I was glad when a member of our Baptist Church last Sunday stood up and read Jeremiah 31:35-37 and then prayed against the anti-Semitism that has become increasingly manifest in the UK and in one of our political parties. I was glad because I know his family experienced mass murder on an industrial scale by so-called German Christians in the Holocaust and yet both he and his parents had still become believers in Jesus.
Only in Jesus is there hope for true peace in the Middle East and by portraying the one-sided narrative of the Bethlehem Bible College without the opposing narrative of the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem, we are setting back the cause of peace. I urge you to pray to the Prince of Peace for a true reconciliation of Arabs and Jews which is only possible in Jesus.
Andy Smith

Re: I nearly died laughing
Laughter comes naturally and once started cant always be controlled. Wanting a picture of me in a scenic area,my hubby said 'say cheese'. As I did,my false teeth moved and to stop them falling out and disappearing down the mountainside, I pushed them back in, which made me laugh, which made them loose again, which made me push them back in again, which made me laugh .more . . I had tears streaming down my face, I could not stop, I was hysterical. He never got the picture, but the video is hilarious!! And I still have my teeth!!
Linda Skelton

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State matters
Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)
Fresh Streams leadership statement following summer theology school
Response to Pension Scheme news; Following the Zeitgeist; A Theology of Unity in Diversity
Annual review; walking club; Rwanda
The Queen; does Jesus heal today?; Child Q
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