Bible Radio Theology

Ask any Bible Question – Premier Christian Radio – January 2019

Screenshot 2019-01-09 at 10.33.08On Monday I had the privilege of again doing a ‘Ask any Bible Questions’ phone in on Premier Christian Radio.  It was live and I had no forewarning of any of the questions – so it is a pretty hard thing to do…Questions ranged from angels to adultery….not everyone was happy with the answers!

You can listen to the show here – Premier Christian Radio – Your Call

Feel free to follow up on any of the questions..

Premier – Ask Any Bible Question – 28th August 2017




  1. I missed the show, but maybe you can answer this as a one off.

    Q: Do you think that following a Vegan or Plant Based Diet is something to be recommended, on spiritual, physical and environmental levels?

  2. Arkanaten:
    I agree, why would it not be recommended. There are many reasons to recommend this form of food choices, that are wholly consistent with the teachings of Jesus.
    Yet in my experience, the food choices of the church are often poor, and are not always seen as important.
    I was just interested to hear the thoughts of the Wee Flea, especially in light of the rise of Veganism amongst young people, a demographic area where the church is very interested in displaying relevance.

    1. @David Lynch, I agree the church should be able to have this conversation and that there is a lot of ignorance about food production. The following is a very interesting article – a 9 minute read (not from a Christian perspective)
      Off the top of my head – God gave us plant life to eat but after the flood we were given meat to eat. (Arkenaten doesn’t believe in the flood) . The consequences of the teaching of Evolution results in people believing that we are just animals – and that eating meat is therefore murder of other animals. So that is another result of teaching evolution. In my view – animals always die so that we can eat – whether we are vegan, vegetarian or carnivores. I think that we should be aware of the slavery, suffering and hardship of the people that produce and harvest a lot of the food we eat and the exploitation, corruption and greed in the industry. There is probably enough food wasted and thrown out daily by supermarkets, hotels and restaurants to feed all the people that go hungry each day. I also think that there are dangers of missing essential nutrients by eating a vegan diet and the production of some foods vegans eat is ethically questionable for sure.
      Don’t believe anything Arkenaten says – (Ark is misinformed, mistaken and misled and mystically melancholy because of the mystery of the missing Moses and much more!)

  3. If you have a moment maybe you can explain why you don’t see a remarried divorce as being an unrepentant adulterer and also if you therefore think churches are wrong to have a blanket ban on marrying divorcees?

      1. Some do. The Church of England did until very recently.

        I attended a wedding yesterday in an independent evangelical church that had lifted its ban on marry divorcees so that the couple in question could marry.

        I take it you believe that churches which ban remarriage are wrong to do so?

        Could you explain why someone who has married, divorced and remarried is not an unrepentant adulterer – assuming they weren’t cheated on etc?

      2. But surely if they remain with their new partner then they are no unrepentant?

        Sorry I am genuinely not trying to be difficult. I’m just trying to understand your point of view

      3. Are you seriously suggesting that a woman who left her husband after a bad marriage, then gets remarried and has children, and then become a Christian (repent of their sins etc) – that you would require them to leave their husband and children in order to show they are repentant? Or that they are never permitted to marry?

      4. Do I take it that you therefore consider it too much to expect individuals to remain single and celibate?!

      5. No – you are (once again) making everything too simplistic and putting two and two together and making five…its very tiring…

  4. Pastor,

    Speaking of questions and answers, I know of a little project that may interest you. As you may be aware, the French Reformed Church voted to bless same-sex couples a few years ago. The good news is that, during the debate, a theologically conservative opposition group was formed. They are now seeking to return the French church to a conservative Calvinist, Biblically-based faith.

    One of their projects has been to start their own question and answer website. Members of the public write in with questions about anything at all and a team of conservative theologians answer them. It has been running for two years now, so they are starting to build up a nice collection of questions.

    There are some things you and I may disagree with (they argue in favour of women pastors) but I agree with 99% of the answers.

    It is interesting to see where the majority of the questions fall: as one would expect, there are a lot about:

    1. sex (as happens everywhere, people try to justify fornication and the theologians have to repeatedly explain it is a sin),

    2. sacraments, especially baptism (I guess being an overwhelmingly Catholic/post-Catholic country, people have a very sacramental outlook)

    3. Spiritual/occult stuff. (This may surprise some people but there is a lot of interest in this kind of thing in France. They tend to be less excessively rationalist/less materialist in outlook than Anglos so there is a lot of spiritualist stuff there.)

    The project is here:

    1. Aaargh. I just spotted my error. I meant to say “as expected there is a lot about sex”, then (new para) “but perhaps more surprsingly…” and onto the “sacraments” and “occult” dot points.

      Anyway, I find it a really useful site.

      It is sad that the church of the Huguenots, who sacrificed so much for their faith, have gone down a fairly liberal path in recent times but this group, (known as Les Attestants) is trying to swing it back onto more orthodox Biblical ground.

      The French protestant church is small and vulnerable (only around 3% of the population) so they need our prayers and support as much as possible.

      1. Thanks Jean.

        looks like a great website. Biblically sound and very conservative without some of the excesses and mistakes we have made in the Anglo world. A great find!

        Yes, I will definitely pray for the EPUdf. I was aware of its move towards liberalism and the very unusual theology of proponents of homosexual blessings like Pastor Marc Pernot (not sure what to make of him – seems very sincere and genuinely warm hearted but his doctrine is so open ended it seems like he stands for nothing and has drifted too far from God’s word.) It is good to hear a conservative faction has emerged to try to steer the church back to Biblical orthodoxy.

        The Huguenots did so much for us by deed and example when they were forced to flee France. We must pray for the surviving remnant Protestant church in France that it may grow doctrinally and numerically strong again and glorify Christ.

      2. I speak a little French as I have worked over there. That website is amazing! I have just read some good, Biblical answers to things that I have wondered about and have frustrated me for years.

        I think what helps is that the French Calvinists are not shackled to the Westminster Confession of Faith unlike the English-language churches so they are free to develop their theology in a direction that is more faithful to the teachings of the Bible.

        A wonderful site. Thank you so much.

      3. Thanks Mark – I don’t agree with your view that the Westminster Confession of Faith is not faithful to the teachings of the Bible. If the French Calvinists follow the teaching of Calvin then they are in accord with the the WCF. If they follow a Protestant liberalism they are not only out of sync with the WCF but with the Bible!

      4. Hello Pastor

        Whoops, no you are misinterpreting what I said, which is my fault for not being very clear. Apologies.

        As Jean notes above, this is a conservative faction of the French Protestant Church opposed to liberalism, same-sex marriage, etc. The French Protestants never signed up to the Westminster Confession – they had their own confession. (Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think any of the continental European reformed churches signed up to Westminster.)

        However, where you and I probably part company is that I would argue that there are things in Westminster that are incorrect and this group, not being bound to it is trying to exceed Westminster in its faithfulness to the Bible (so they are being more conservative, not more liberal, to put it in those terms).

      5. They signed up to other of the Reformed Confessions – the Heidelberg, Canons of Dordt etc – which are really equivalent to the WCF.

      6. A couple of other thoughts on this, if you will permit me…

        Firstly, note that I am not an expert on French Protestantism, so I might be misunderstanding it but I *think* that they emphasise more the spirit of Calvin, rather than his teachings, so “reformed and always reforming” and always returning to the Bible as the source and re-evaluating based on that, rather than simply following what Calvin said 500 years ago without critically re-evaluating his opinions.

        Like yourself, I agree Calvin was right more often than not but he was not infallible and the Institutes are not on the same level as scripture (as I am certain you agree).

        So, yes, my understanding is they follow the spirit of Calvin more than the teaching and the WCF is an application of Calvin’s teachings in a British context from 500 years ago.

      7. Yes, the French have the Confession of La Rochelle and some later simpler confessions. I think the real issue for me about the confessions, including the WCF, is that it is too detailed and tries to define things excessively. The broad sweeps of the document are fine.

        Talking to you about this is helping me think through the issue more clearly – thanks, Pastor.

      8. Pastor – one more thing: What is your attitude towards Sebastian Castellio? Again, I am not quite sure but, *IF* I understand correctly, he, at some point, was rehabilitated by the French church so his ideas may also be of some influence there. I don’t know if they have tried to synthesize his ideas with that of Calvin or if it is a separate strain of protestant thinking though.

      9. Hello again Pastor,

        You asked me for one thing I disagree with in the WCF: here’s an example that is possibly relevant to both of us, since I watched your interview with the Quaker and you expressed na interest in pacifism. The section entitled “Of the Civil Magistrate” discusses how we must obey governing authorities. As I said above, I am fine with the genral sweep of the statements – we can see from Romans 13 and statements of Jesus like “render unto Caesar’s what is Caesar’s” that this is generally Biblical.

        However, the section then dives into specifics which I think is where the Confession becomes problematic, instead of leaving it to the reader to be guided by the Spirit and conscience what is good obedience to the governing authorities. In this case, one of the details it mentions is waging war “on just and necessary occasion” – in other words, an endorsement of the just war theory. In other words, if you were being highly doctrinaire and believed all Calvinists must strictly adhere to the clauses of the WCF, a Christian pacifist could not be a Calvinist.

        However, my understanding is that Calvin (and Luther) inherited the Just War doctrine from Augustine and a leading theologian I read (I am sorry I cannot remember the name right now – I will try to hunt the book down. It was someone quite respected) noted that the just war theory came out of pagan though. There seems to be a large body of evidence from various quotes that the early church, pre-Augustine, pre-Constantine, was largely pacifist in mindset.

        Now, in reality, there are of course quite a lot of Calvinist pacifists. Here is a list of some famous ones:

        To use a French example, one of the most notable is Pastor Andre Trocme, who saved thousands of Jews during WW2 and about whom various books have been written and a documentary film made. I have read one of the books about him, by Australian journalist Peter Grose, and it is evident from that that Trocme was a deeply conservative, thoroughly orthodox Calvinist pastor and that, further more, he was repeatedly prepared to risk his life to live out his faith in service to others by sheltering the Jews.

        I think the French approach of living by the spirit of the reformation without being too doctrinaire as it enables a dynamic faith to renew itself by constantly returning to the Bible. Calvinism is a French idea, ultimately, so it is important to view how it adapts and evolves in its native culture. Also, this way the faith does not stagnate whilst we avoid the trap of just trying to “keep up” with the culture as the liberals do. Rather, return to God’s Word – which is unchanging – yet keep seeing it afresh and learn from our past mistakes and failure to appreciate its depth.

        With regard to the French specifically, we remember what they have been through – the Wars of Religion, the horrific persecution of the Huguenots, a Revolution, Two World Wars, ongoing low-level persecution of the Protestant minority to this day, etc. Learning from those experiences, I think we can see why they would want to very much keep the faith but not be too rigid about the very letter of Calvinism but rather interact with his ideas in a dynamic way whilst maintaining fidelity to the Word of God.

  5. It turns out the French clergy who run the website had their annual conference last weekend. It is very conservative and Biblical – you would have enjoyed it. There is discussion on the site about the need to return to the Bible and the opening sermon in part criticised how liberals use “avoidance strategies” to make the Bible mean anything but what it really means.

    After going through how liberals try to avoid the meaning of texts, the pastor says this (I will only quote one para from a long sermon. I have used Google Translate as I assume you do not speak French so this wil be a bit rough and ready to read but you can get the gist):

    “So we can not water down the words of Jesus, nor claim that they are not from him. So we have a big problem, which is related to our positioning as Attestants. Because we affirm to trust the Bible. This does not mean that we renounce any critical retreat, any exercise of our reason and our intelligence, but we believe that the words that make up this text were written by men inspired by God and that it is the same the spirit of God who can come to visit us when we read the Bible so that the Lord may give us his word through it. Which gives this text as a whole a weight for our life of faith that no other document can have. There are lots of Bible passages that seem to me difficult to understand, to accept, to put into practice. But before I try to manipulate the text to make him say something that I can better integrate into my life or my reflection, I believe that the first effort must focus on me, especially in prayer. If only for God to help me accept that I do not understand everything about the Bible, that this text escapes me, as God indeed, will always escape me. If the biblical text was only a human production, only marked by the history, the sociology and the beliefs of its editors, then indeed, we could manipulate, modify, sort in this text according to what suits us today. But I believe that in fact, I’m not the master of this text. It’s not me, it’s God.”

    I think you’d be really comfortable with statements like that Pastor so it looks like this group is really trying to push back against the liberals with this conference and the deeply Biblical responses they give on their question and answer site.

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