$2.99/£2.99 ebook: "The Catholic Jesus"

Jesus invites us to know him in the Eucharist and in the community of the Church, and so to participate in the divine life of the Trinity.  Drawing on years of experience teaching in parishes, schools and universities, theologian Father Thomas Plant puts the best of contemporary biblical scholarship into an accessible and compelling account of how the earliest Christians understood Jesus: as much more than just a good man… Plant offers the Catholic Jesus as an antidote to the individualistic approaches to Jesus of both fundamentalism and liberalism. An Anglican priest, Plant opens the riches of the Catholic Church’s ancient, more communal and sacramental understanding of Christ to a wider Christian audience.  Readable and engaging, this book is ideal for Confirmation candidates, ordinands and parish study groups, but can help all Christians to a deeper knowledge and love of Christ and his Church. “The Catholic Jesus is superb” Fr Richard Peers SMMS, Liverpool Diocese Director of Educa…
What has Church worship got to do with Jesus? How can we learn about Christ through the rites and seasons of the Church year?  Building on years of parish, university and chaplaincy experience, the Rev'd Dr Thomas Plant presents Time for Christ: a course ideal for newcomers to Anglican or Catholic Christianity, Lent groups or as preparation for adult Confirmation.  Praise for Plant's The Catholic Jesus:  "An excellent curriculum of the Christian faith" - Fr Richard Peers SMMS "Punchy Anglican apologetics" - Philip Anderson "Gives the keys to understanding the fundamental mysteries of the Church”  - Rev John Paraskevopoulos, Author of Call of the Infinite Time for Christ the first book in the new AngCat (Anglican Catechesis) series, presenting the traditional faith of the Church of England and its sister Anglican and Episcopal churches from an Anglo-Catholic perspective. Further titles soon available from Greater Silence Publications…

The Narrow Door

The door is narrow, and closing shut: outside, weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I would love to know how this is being preached in churches around the country today. Actually, I probably wouldn’t. Because while I know the stereotype among people who don’t go to church is that preachers pound the pulpit and pontificate on punishment and purgation every Sunday, the reality is far less interesting. What is probably going on is that the preacher is focussing on the nice bit at the end, where people come from all over the world to join the Kingdom of Heaven, and trying to brush over the hard sayings at the beginning.

Anyone who thinks the Church has tried to airbrush Our Lord into some kind of hippy peacenik will have to ask themselves how these words managed to get left in. The most likely answer to that question is that He actually said them. He actually said that the door is narrow, that many who try to enter will fail, that it will one day be closed for good. So, while we’re here, we’d b…

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Weak prayer means weak mission

“The mission of the Church is weak because its prayer is weak.”
Not my words, but those of the Franciscan friar, Fr William of Glasshampton. If you haven't heard of him, you might assume that he is some dim and distant mediaeval figure, perhaps around the time of our native diocesan patron saint Chad, pre-Reformation, definitely Roman Catholic. If so, I'm afraid you're wrong: because Fr William was a Victorian friar of the Church of England. People these days are sometimes surprised to hear that we still have monks, nuns and friars in the C of E: weren’t they all suppressed by King Henry VIII during the Reformation? Well yes, they were; but they were revived in the mid 1800s and they exist still today.
Glasshampton, the house which Fr William founded, still exists close to my parents' house, in Shrawley, Worcestershire. Nowadays it is the training house where Anglican novice friars receive their initial formation in the Franciscan spiritual life. You can go there on r…

Rocky and the Million Dollar Question

“Who do you say that I am?”
That’s the million-pound question for Simon. He’s already got the ‘ask the audience’ answers up on the board, as it were: some say he’s John the Baptist (difficult, given that John was by this stage suffering from a slight case of death), some say he’s Elijah, others Jeremiah (both more decidedly dead, several hundred years before). Which means that everyone is saying that Jesus is a prophet, because Jeremiah, Elijah and John all prophesied the coming of the Messiah, the anointed one - in Greek, the Christ - who would come to judge and save the Jewish people. They thought that Jesus was yet another of these prophets, heralding the Christ’s coming.
But Simon doesn’t choose any of the answers on the board, because, to stretch the metaphor, he's opted to ‘phone a friend. Or, properly speaking, he's already been ‘phoned by a friend: God. Somehow, the right answer has been mystically revealed to him:
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Pentecost, not Esperanto

Salutojn! Strange to think that a small Jewish sect could, within thirty years of the death of its founder in Jerusalem, spread at least as far as India to the East and Rome to the West. How could it happen? There are sociological explanations: for instance, it was a religion which appealed particularly to the poor and to women, in a way that its contemporaries did not. There was the theological appeal, too, of monotheism, which resonated with the Platonic intellectual currents of the day better than the dominant polytheism of pagan folk religion, and pagans who admired the Jews now had the opportunity to join them. At the same time, there was also bitter persecution, ridicule and humiliation, too. The well-off could have avoided all this by joining some other mystery cult, like that of Mithras or Osiris. Certainly, the fishermen, essentially small businessmen, who were leading the nascent Church could have afforded to avoid their martyrdoms by doing just this. Yet they did not. So w…

Why the Church needs to abandon Christian values

I've got a new article out on Living Church, here. Yes, the headline is a bit of an attention grabber. Mea culpa.