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In the Press

  • A new study just unearthed a remarkable finding: conservative doctrine grows churches.

    This isn’t necessarily what we’ve heard in recent years. Whether it’s the music, the attractive facility, or the feeling of community, we need something to keep the church growing—something besides biblical teaching. How surprising, then, that David Millard Haskell, Kevin N. Flatt, and Stephanie Burgoyne have found that doctrine grows churches. In their peer-reviewed scholarly article for the Review of Religious Research, a prestigious journal, the trio present findings among mainstream Canadian churches showing that—contra the stereotypes—doctrinally conservative churches that reach out aggressively often grow. Churches that soften biblical teachings and de-emphasize evangelism often shrink.

    What might these findings mean for the future of evangelicalism? Here are four quick takeaways.

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  • The Oak Hill College community has been in shock and mourning since the news broke on Sunday morning that our greatly-loved Principal, Mike Ovey, had unexpectedly collapsed and died at home on Saturday night. Mike was 58 years old, and his wife Heather and their three children, Charlie, Harry and Ana, are foremost in our prayers in this profoundly sad time. Please join us in praying for them.

    Mike had been the Principal of Oak Hill for the past decade. After studying law at Balliol College, Oxford, he joined the civil service as a parliamentary lawyer. In 1988, he entered Ridley Hall, Cambridge, to train for the ministry, and at the same time studied theology at Trinity College, Cambridge. He served as curate of All Saints, Crowborough, from 1991-95, and then moved to Moore Theological College, Sydney, where he worked as a junior lecturer and studied for an MTh. Mike joined Oak Hill as a research fellow and doctrine lecturer in 1998. He became Principal in 2007.

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  • The new year is a good time to stand still and look at the big picture of what is happening in the world and pray not just about the individual incidents of persecution we report each week, but also the longer-term trends. Our God is sovereign, but he expects us to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Matt. 6:10).

    In 2017 Christians can expect to face five major challenges to their freedom of religion.

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  • This is a guest post by the Rev’d Dr Gavin Ashenden, Chaplain to the Queen.

    I have just returned from Paris where I was invited to be part of a conversation with three imams sponsored by Lebanese TV.

    I thought they were kind, impressive and delightful people. It was a privilege to meet them and talk to them. We had many things in common, but most of all a deep attraction to God who made us, whose intentions towards us, we know, are love and mercy.

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  • Gender identity issues have shot to the front of the equality debate and nowhere more urgently, it seems, than in the case of children. John Conroy’s documentary Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? (BBC Two) was among the most even-handed I’ve seen on the subject, looking at the issues from all sides, but particularly that of parents.

    The film took a usefully remote approach, exploring the subject through the prism of the Canadian experience, where attitudes to these issues are among the world’s most progressive. It began with an acknowledgement that modern ideas of gender diversity and gender fluidity can seem a terrifyingly long way from traditional childhood and parenting. But its chief focus was the increasing politicisation, and polarisation, of opinion in Canada. Especially between those who advocate the "affirmative" approach of believing and supporting children in their gender choices – and those who argue that gender identity is rather more complicated than that.

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  • Children facing hormone treatment after being diagnosed as transgender could in fact be autistic, according to a leading psychologist.

    Youngsters who believe they were born in the wrong body are seven times more likely than others to be on the autistic spectrum, said Dr Kenneth Zucker.

    The autistic trait of 'fixating' on subjects could convince children they are the wrong sex, he added.

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  • A new lab procedure that could allow fertility clinics to make sperm and eggs from people’s skin may lead to "embryo farming" on a massive scale and drive parents to have only "ideal" future children, researchers warn.

    Legal and medical specialists in the US say that while the procedure – known as in vitro gametogenesis (IVG) – has only been demonstrated in mice so far, the field is progressing so fast that the dramatic impact it could have on society must be planned for now.

    "We try not to take a position on these issues except to point out that before too long we may well be facing them, and we might do well to start the conversation now," said Eli Adashi, professor of medical science at Brown University in Rhode Island.

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  • October 2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act. Throughout the year this significant anniversary will generate media publicity, events, stories from women and will fire up campaigns by those who want to see the laws tightened up (or at least adhered to) and by those who want to relax the law on abortion even more.

    Expect to see more focus this year on the operation of UK abortion clinics and new research on the link between abortion and preterm births. There will be further Parliamentary debate on the discriminatory provision in the Act that permits abortion to term for disability, especially in February with Committee Stage of Lord Shinkwin’s Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill and the We’re All Equal campaign in support of the Bill. It will be fascinating to see what happens in the US under the more overtly pro-life administration of Donald Trump.

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  • A supportive mother of a transgender child has accused the BBC of lying to her in order to get her to appear in a documentary.

    Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?, which will air on Thursday (12 January) at 9pm on BBC Two, is a This World documentary that claims to ask whether parents are 'right' to support their children’s gender identity. The BBC has claimed it is more 'balanced' than the promotional information appears to show it to be.

    The program information gives an interview with Dr Kenneth Zucker, who the documentary filmmakers say ‘lost his job for challenging the new orthodoxy that children know best’.

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  • Most millennials do not view Britain as a Christian country, according to a poll to be published tomorrow.

    Instead, they view Britain as a nation with no specific religious identity. But they do believe that religion plays an important role in the lives of individuals.

    The survey was carried out by pollsters ComRes and is being published tomorrow to mark the launch of the new Faith Research Centre later this month.

    Read more.

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