Author Archives: Linda Fone

Data Protection (GDPR)



The Archdeaconry of North-West Europe is one of six Archdeaconries in the Diocese in Europe of the Church of England. It is the body into which the local Anglican churches are united. In accordance with Netherlands law, it is registered in the Handelsregister (Company Register) with the Kamer van Koophandel (Chamber of Commerce) Midden Nederland insofar as it is geographically situated on Netherlands territory. It is also registered under the name of Anglicaanse Kerk in Nederland.
The first and supreme mission of the worldwide Christian Church is to proclaim Jesus Christ as the embodiment of God’s love. This mission is carried out through a number of activities requiring, in turn, an organisation, clergy and other ministers and lay workers, both paid and unpaid, and other volunteers. The Archdeaconry is a subdivision of the organised Church, the Church of England, an organised community of Christian people. An important function of the Church is to shape, build up and maintain community life, found largely in the local churches referred to above.
Organisation and administration of the life of the church community require the processing of personal data, including special categories of (sensitive) personal data concerning religious beliefs, of persons associated with that church community.

Introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has caused the church to be aware of the risk of breaches of the privacy of persons associated with the church, and of the need for proper measures to be taken in order to limit such risk as much as possible.
In order for the processing of personal data to be carried out according to the requirements of the law, and to limit as much as possible the risk of breach of privacy, the following rules are deemed necessary in processing personal data of persons associated with the church:

Article 1 Definitions

Terms What they are deemed to mean for the purpose of these Rules

Article article of these present Rules

associated person natural person who has entered upon an association with the church, either through canonical membership or through personal interest

Autoriteit Persoons- gegevens Personal Data Protection Authority/Regulator chaplaincy local church, formally constituted body, including congregations and church plants

chaplaincy registers registers held by the chaplaincy, containing particulars of the administration of sacraments or other sacred acts to associated persons

church the Archdeaconry of North-West Europe, or any local church forming part of it, as the case may be, all insofar as they are situate within the borders of The Netherlands

Church Church of England

controller person or body of persons responsible for processing personal data

data protection coordinator person appointed by the controller, charged with protecting data security and oversight of records holding personal data as well as the coordination of communication between subjects and controller

data leak breach of protection of personal data, exposing such data to loss or unlawful processing

GDPR (AVG) General Data Protection Regulation (Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming)

holder of parental responsibility person exercising parental responsibility over a minor

personal data any data referring to an identified or identifiable natural person

processing of personal data any action or any whole of actions relative to personal data, including in any case collecting, recording, ordering, keeping, correcting, amending, claiming, consulting, using, forwarding,transmitting, distributing or any other form of making available, amalgamating, matching, as also masking, erasing or destroying of personal data

record structured body of personal data of people associated with the church, relative to the objectives as stated in Article 2

Rules these present Rules for Processing and Protection of Personal Data concerning Persons on the Electoral Roll and other administrative records

special categories of personal data personal data concerning a person’s religion or philosophical beliefs, race, political standpoints, health, sexual life, and personal information concerning the causing of nuisance and unlawful behaviour relative to any injunction resulting from such behaviour, and also personal data regarding trade union membership. These present rules serve as a basis for the processing of the special category of personal data concerning religious beliefs, exclusively

subject data subject; person whose personal data have been or are being recorded or otherwise processed by or on behalf of the church

third party person not associated or not in a canonical relation with the church, or entity outside the structures of the Church of England

UAVG Uitvoeringswet Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming (GDPR Implementation Act)

Article 2 Objectives of processing personal data by the church The canon law and statutes of the Church state and imply its objective of shaping the church life of the associated persons. Church life is particularly expressed in the chaplaincies. An important part of this church life is found in building and maintaining of a community of believers. Such community building and the administration and organisation of church life require the processing by the church of personal data, including the special category of data about the religious life, of associated persons.

Article 3 Applicability These rules are applicable to any form of processing of personal data of associated persons by the church, irrespective of whether this be the local churches or the body in which they are united. The Rules apply to digitally processed data and (type)written records alike.

Article 4 Responsibilities of the controller The controller as the responsible person or body shall attend to the following: – that no more personal data are recorded or otherwise processed than are strictly necessary to the attainment of the objective as stated in Article 2; – that associated persons are accurately and completely informed about the object and the nature of the data processed by the church, about the identity of the controller, and about the rights which are exercisable by them concerning the processing of their data;

– that precautions are taken to improve correctness and completeness of the personal data recorded; – that sufficient precautions are taken to provide for the secure keeping and processing of personal data; during the period that these Rules will be in force the controller shall identify the risks to the privacy of associated persons through lacking or failing protection of personal data, and will take proper precautions thereto; the controller will publicise those precautions in a separate plan appended to these Rules; (Appendix 1 – reserved) – that a data leak involving considerable risk of serious and damaging consequences for the protection of the privacy of associated persons is immediately reported to the Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, in accordance with the provisions of the GDPR; – that of the processing of personal data according to these Rules a log is kept, in accordance with the GDPR.

Article 5 Basis for processing of data and exemption from the ban on processing of data concerning religion 1. The basis for the processing of personal data by the church is found in the justifiable interest of the church in such processing. The justifiable interest in the stated and implied objective of the church to make possible and facilitate the church life of associated persons. An essential part of this is the shaping and building of a community. Conditional upon such community building is that persons associated with the church should be known. Beside this, the shaping of church life requires a certain measure of organisation and administration of the church. This, likewise, is conditional upon processing a certain amount of personal data of associated persons. 2. The controller comes to the conclusion that the justifiable interest of the church, as stated in paragraph 1, outweighs the interests of the privacy of associated persons , on the basis of the following arguments: – associated persons have made a free choice in electing to be associated with the church. Thereby they express the wish to be part of a faith community. Before making this decision they are fully informed about the processing of their data, neccessitated by their association; – the church records only such data of associated persons wich are deemed necessary for the objective as stated in Article 2; – the data of associated persons are removed immediately upon their notification of terminating their association with the church. The church makes sure that the manner of terminating their association with the church is made sufficiently known; – access to the data on record is regulated by means of authorisations, as stipulated in Article 8 of these Rules; – data recorded by the church shall not be disclosed to third parties, unless subjects have freely and on the basis of sufficient information unambiguously, clearly and distinguishably consented thereto. 3. The processing of the special category of personal data relating to religion is based on an exemption from the ban as defined in article 9 GDPR. No such special personal data shall be processed except on condition that such data shall not be disclosed to

third parties except on the basis of explicit , clear and distinguishable consent by the subject, in accordance with the provisions of Article 9 of these Rules.

Article 6 Informing subjects about the processing of their personal data 1. The controller is attentive to informing subjects of the following: content and nature of the recorded data, the objectives thereof, the rights which are exercisable by them over such data, as well as the identity of the controller. Likewise, subjects are informed that processing of their personal data will be terminated immediately upon their notification of ending their association with the church, and that their data will not be disclosed to third parties without their unambiguous, clear and distinguishable consent thereto. 2. Informing as stated in paragraph 1 is done: – prior to joining or registration as an associated person; – on the occasion of baptism; – in the case of associated persons who have been so registered by the holders of parental responsibility over them, on completion of their 16th year. 3. Informing associated persons whose data are being processed on the date of coming into force of these Rules is effected by a personal (digital) letter addressed to each associated person individually. In the case of such letters being addressed to associated persons not having attained the age of 16 years they are sent to the holders of parental responsibility over them.

Article 7 Personal data included on record No more personal data of associated persons shall be included than are required for the objectives as stated in Article 2. These data may include, at the least: – Christian and family names, address and place of residence including postal code, date and place of birth, e-mail address, telephone number, marital or civil status, name of spouse or registered civil partner (if also associated with the church), bank account number; – codes for degree of participation and for circulation of church magazine; – dates of administration of sacraments; – duties, offices and memberships within the local church or at any level within the Church, with dates of commencement and termination.

Article 8 Access to personal data on record The controller accords authorisations to officers for access to personal data on record. The following points shall be observed: – granting an authorisation to an officer is based upon a need-to-know, considering the tasking of that officer; – the controller will appoint one officer, with one deputy, to have write-access concerning all personal data on record; – access – as opposed to write-access – to the personal data on record is granted to up to three officers, with a minimum of one;

– authorised officers of a church may make data of associated persons available to members of the governing body of that church. It is for that body to decide whether data should be disclosed and, if so, to which persons within that particular church, taking into account of their tasks and duties. Under no circumstances will there be disclosure to all associated persons of all subjects en bloc, e.g. in the form of a membership guide or address list.

Article 9 Disclosure or transmission to third parties of personal data from the records 1. No personal data from a record shall be disclosed or transmitted to third parties, except where the law is binding on the controller to do so. 2. Should the controller be of the opinion that by way of exception disclosure or transmission of personal data ought to be considered, not being under any legal obligation to do so, he shall first obtain the unambiguous , clear and distinguishable consent of the subject concerned. 3. The controller shall not request consent as referred to in paragraph 2 until after he has fully informed the subject concerning nature and content of the data to be so disclosed or transmitted, the aim of the disclosure or transmission, and the identity of the recipient. The controller shall also advise the subject of his right at all times to withdraw his consent by way of notification by telephone, by electronic message or in writing. 4. The controller shall log the consent received, as well as a withdrawal thereof, on the record.

Article 10 Removal of data from the record 1. Personal data on a record shall be removed immediately upon receiving notification by a subject of termination of the association of that subject with the church. Such removal may be postponed if obligations of a financial nature or otherwise between the subject and the church so require. 2. In case of the death of associated persons their data shall be removed at the end of the year of their death. If the deceased at the time of death was married to or had entered upon a civil registered partnership with another associated member, such data shall be removed at the end of the year in which the death occurs of that surviving spouse or partner.

Article 11 Supplying data for purposes of policy and research The controller may decide to supply data from the records for purposes of policy and research to third parties charged with such policy or research, but only insofar as this policy or research is related to the objectives as defined in Article 2. The controller gives due heed to the requirement that such data have been so edited that they may no longer be used to identify individual persons.

Article 12 Rights of subjects 1. With regard to data pertaining to subjects which are being processed by the church such subjects may exercise the rights as defined in articles 15 (inspection and information), 16 (correction), 17 (erasure), 18 (restriction) and 19 (complaint). For the exercise of these rights the subject shall communicate in writing with the controller. 2. The controller shall without delay, but no later than one month after receipt of the request, advise the subject of the effect given to the request. In the case of the controller refusing to comply with the request, he shall without delay, but no later than one month after receipt of the request, advise the subject of his decision to refuse. He shall also advise the subject of the possibility to lodge a complaint with the Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, or to appeal to the court having jurisdiction in the matter.

Article 13 The position of subjects under the age of 16 Rights exercisable by subjects based on GDPR,UAGV and these Rules are exercised by the holders of parental responsibility in the case of subjects under 16 years of age.

Article 14 Secrecy Anyone taking cognizance of personal data on the basis of this regulation is under an obligation to preserve the secrecy of such data, except where the law or these Rules require that personal data be disclosed or transmitted.

Article 15 Specific stipulations regarding church registers 1. The chaplain of the chaplaincy, or, in the absence of a chaplain, such other priest as shall hold the Bishop’s charge or permission to carry out the functions and ministrations of a chqplain, keeps record of the administration of sacraments and other recordable ministrations to persons associated with the church in the chaplaincy registers. 2. These Rules are applicable to the processing of personal data for such registers, except where the provisions of this Article allow for derogation from these Rules. 3. Access to the chaplaincy registers is the exclusive privilege of the Bishop; the person who holds the Bishop’s commission to oversee the archdeaconry; the chaplain, or, in the absence of a chaplain, such other priest as shall hold the Bishop’s charge or permission to carry out the functions and ministrations of a chaplain; any assistant-chaplain; and the secretary of the church council of the chaplaincy. 4. In view of the provisions of article 17, paragraph 3 sub d GDPR – the provisions of Article 10 regarding the removal of personal data are not applicable to personal data recorded in the chaplaincy registers. There are two main reasons for this non-applicability. The first reason is that the registers contain a record of factual actions and situations which, with the personal data recorded therein, are significant to the history of the chaplaincy, the church and the Church of England. The second reason for this non-applicability lies in the facts that have been recorded

in the said registers are sacraments or sacred actions. The sacraments and sacred actions as understood in these Rules are of an indelible and unrepeatable nature, or at the least of such importance to those whom they concern, and also the church and – indeed – the wider Church, that they need to be kept on record, notwithstanding the wish of any person to have them removed; – a request for removal of personal data from the said registers under the provisions of Article 12 shall be refused, with a view on the significance of the sacraments and actions recorded therein with the personal data for the life of the chaplaincy, the church, and the wider Church, and also for their significance for the history of the chaplaincy, the diocese or the Church, or research into such history.

Article 16 Concluding provision 1. These Rules will be deemed to be in force as from 25th May, 2018 for an indefinite period. 2. The controller has authority to vary or rescind these Rules. 3. These Rules may be cited as the ‘Rules for Processing and Protection of Personal Data 2018’.

Utrecht, 6th June, 2018

Acknowledgement: These rules are largely structured and based on the ‘Privacyregeling persoonsgegevens (gast)ledenvan de Oud-Katholieke Kerk van Nederland’ of the Old-Catholic Church of The Netherland

Christmas Message 2018 from the Bishop in Europe

Bishop in Europe’s Christmas Message 2018: The Rt Reverend Dr Robert Innes.

Travelling over to London on the Eurostar in mid-November, I saw my first Christmas tree of the season. It was a giant silver variety placed prominently on the concourse of St. Pancras Station. And I was reminded that ‘the Christmas season’ starts earlier in the UK than in most of mainland Europe. And to be sure, this year, the Christmas spirit is sorely needed to boost flagging High Street revenues and give some cheer to those depressed by a seemingly endless Brexit.

Thinking about Christmas, I wondered what would happen if, instead of starting with Matthew, Luke or John we began instead with St. Paul. Paul has no nativity story like Matthew and Luke – indeed he doesn’t tell us much about Jesus life at all. However, like St. John, Paul does have his own way of portraying the incarnation. We hear St. John’s account of the incarnation at every 9 lessons and carols service, and it is the way he introduces his gospel.

St. Paul’s account of the incarnation isn’t quite so easy to pin down. But the point at which Paul makes it clearest is, it seems to me, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians. This is one of Paul’s later letters, written after Paul has thought very deeply about the Christian faith he proclaims. In a key chapter of this letter, Paul tells us: ‘God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.’ (2 Corinthians 5:19)

Like St. John, St. Paul tells us that God became flesh in Jesus Christ. Christ became human. He entered human experience from within and dealt with the barrier that sin had erected between people and God. Where St. John in his prologue talks about people becoming ‘children of God’, St. Paul describes human beings as becoming a ‘new creation’. But what Paul helps us to see particularly clearly is that the purpose of Christ’s incarnation is reconciliation. And ‘reconciliation’ is a word that Paul repeats many times in this important chapter.

So let me be so bold as to suggest that the real, inner meaning of Christmas is reconciliation. Christmastime reminds us that God became human in Jesus to reconcile us to God. And at the same time, God commissioned those who follow Jesus to continue the ministry of reconciliation. In this way, says Paul, we act as ambassadors for God. Reconciliation is God’s supreme Christmas gift to the world. And it is a gift meant for sharing.

Now we know that Christmastime does encourage a general sense of bonhomie and camaraderie amongst those of faith and those without. It may be the only time some of us get together with the neighbours or speak informally with those we don’t much care for at work. Those small gestures are valuable in themselves. But they point to something much deeper.

‘Reconciliation’ is a deep and demanding idea. It is to do with bringing people back together again who have fallen out. It is concerned with restoring friendly relationships. Christ’s incarnation first of all reminds a sinful and disobedient world that it has a problem with God, and that there is a relationship that needs to be repaired.

Then it challenges those of us who claim to follow Christ to be people of reconciliation ourselves. That is deeply uncomfortable. It means overcoming conflict, forgiving, accepting, welcoming and renewing broken relationships. Actually, this is so difficult that perhaps it is only with God’s own help and inspiration that we can do it.

We might start with our families – those with whom most of us will spend most of our time at Christmas. It is in these closest of relationships that conflict is the most painful and reconciliation sometimes the most difficult. Then we might consider our church communities. Could Christmas 2018 be the opportunity to heal and redeem a broken relationship with a Christian brother or sister? And then there are national and international relationships…

At the outset I mentioned Brexit. This is something which within Britain has divided young and old, one region from another, those with strong local allegiances from cosmopolitan folk who have learnt to feel at home anywhere. It has also threatened to divide Britain from its European neighbours. There is a major task ahead to reconcile across these differences. Christians could and should be at the heart of that task.

So this Christmas, I hope that the message of the birth of the Son of God, born to change hearts and minds, to bring people back to God and to empower people to be reconciled with each other is a message that will give us all comfort, encouragement and hope.

I wish each of you and your families a very happy Christmas.

Sunday Sermon: 5 reasons to believe in the bodily resurrection (April 15th 2018)

Five Reasons to Believe in the Bodily Resurrection of Christ

Sunday 23rd April 2018, the Third Sunday of Easter.

Bible Passage – Luke 24:33-48

The video link for this sermon – is for an extended version of this sermon that Peter preached in the United States on a previous occasion. It is longer – 40 minutes – but follows the same outline but with more or extended illustrations. Worth watching it to get the full flavour of this topic.

Basic Outline:
● Opening:
o 5 Reasons
▪ He Lived
▪ He Died
▪ The Roman Army
▪ The Empty Tomb
▪ Embarrassment
● Closing prayer

Opening prayer: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this
with gentleness and respect,” –

Lord may the words of my lips and the thoughts of my heart
be pleasing in Your sight. Amen.

There is a “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster”. Unsurprisingly, they poke fun at organized religion – Christianity, especially, because poking fun at Muslims is too scary.

They have no evidence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster because they feel we have no evidence for our faith.

In today’s sermon, I would like to revisit Easter, since it is still fresh in our minds and be true the quote from 1 Peter 3:15 that I opened with.

You see, I would like to give you five reasons, five secular reasons, five ‘evidences’ of the bodily resurrection of Christ. It is the most important event in our faith. But, is there any way we can convincingly talk to them about real evidence from this faith of ours? I think there is.

I will tie one hand behind my back, figuratively speaking, by not relying on the Bible to tell us Jesus rose, but rather by using what a detective would call “evidence”.

It makes a compelling story. So, here it goes:

Number 1: He lived

No why would I begin with a blindingly obvious thing like “He lived”? Because up until, say, the Second World War no one talked about Jesus not existing – there were debates about
his deity, but not about his existence.

So, if we can, let us prove that he lived:
Just as an aside: Years ago, I asked my son, Winston, if William of Orange existed. he said, “Yes!” – well, how do you know? “He was in my Donald Duck!” He was about 6 years old
then and agreed that Donald Duck was not completely reliable.

But what about, say, Alexander the Great? The earliest history we have of him was written 350 after his death! Yes, and Julius Caesar? Anyone want to say, “He was a mythical figure!”? The first account we have of him was written 160 years after his death by Suetonius – He was the son of Jupiter and born of a virgin . To be sure, there were earlier writings about Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great, but we don’t have them.

We do have Early, Eyewitness accounts about the life of Jesus.

Mark’s Gospel +40 (years after the events it records),

Matthew +50 (years after),

Luke +55, (years after),

John +65;

Paul: writing in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, where his words appear to contain an early Christian Creed, which can be dated to within 35 AD (only 2 years approximately after the death of Jesus).

Other writings outside the Bible…

Josephus (Jewish historian)– (from Shlomo Pines, Hebrew Univ. Jerusalem – not interpolated: Paraphrased:) wrote:

“about this time there was a wise man called Jesus and his conduct was good and he was known to be virtuous; … Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die, but those who
had become his disciples did not abandon their discipleship, they reported that 3 days later he arose from the tomb alive. Accordingly, he could have possibly been the Messiah ….

Pliny the Younger (Roman Governor of Asia Minor):

“What do I do about these Christians? They are
in the habit of singing hymns to Christ, as if he were a god, …

Babylonian Talmud (70-200) a central text of Rabbinical Judaism – has Jesus’ arrest warrant:
“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu ha Notzri was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, an arrest warrant went out, “He is to be stoned because he has practiced
sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.“

(Sorcery is an interesting word, it is the same as a
miracle, but an evil miracle)

So those are three non-Christian sources from the Jewish hierarchy, a Roman historian, and a Roman Governor.

There are dozens more like these.

He Lived – no doubt about it.

Number 2: He Died

He died: No accounts suggest he didn’t.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of modern writers suggesting Jesus did not die. Most often, they put forward fantastic ideas about him“fainting” on the Cross.

Oh, sure: he was whipped till you could see his bones, forced to
carry a heavy cross 700 meters to Golgotha, nailed to it, and hung there suffocating and bleeding for 3 hours; but then he fainted and revived.
Our Muslim friends would refer to the Koran:
Sura 4:157-158: The Jews boasted, “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them,

This is explained in Muslim writings that actually Judas was crucified and Allah put Jesus’ face on him so everyone would think that Jesus had been crucified.
So could it be true? Could He have fainted? I found my answer in an improbable place: The Journal of the American Medical Association (March 1986).

The article: On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ. It is like reading 4000 words of alphabet soup but conclusively shows
the impossibility of Jesus surviving the cross.

Not only did He live,

He died – no doubt about it.

Number 3: The Roman Army

Now don’t forget, the Romans were expecting to crucify Barabbas; Matthew calls him a “notorious prisoner”; Mark and Luke record that he “took part in a riot”.

In other words, here is someone with some military power and the will to use it, so the Roman Army wasn’t going to let anything go wrong.

Indeed, he – Barabbas – was the sort of Messiah the Jews were
expecting. Send in the Marines!

After the crucifixion the Chief Priests, who had listened to Jesus’ claim that he was going to return in 3 days, go to Pilate and ask for guards to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
“Nothing is going to happen, but, you know, just in case…”
In Matthew 27, Pilate says “You have a watch”.

The word for “watch” is the Greek: kustodia . We know a kustodia was a group of 16 Roman soldiers on a constant rotation of duty.

Who were these guys? These are some very tough men: They had boot camp for 6 months – today’s armed forces are about 3 months. The penalty for cowardice or disobeying orders was decimation; Decimation means that all the soldiers line up, and every 10 th soldier is beaten to death by his comrades.

The penalty for falling asleep on guard duty was stoning – so, these soldiers had a lot to lose.

And now it has all gone wrong and to whom do they go? – the Chief Priests! And they tell them that “sorcery took him”. There’s that word “sorcery” again. Matthew writes (chapter 28):

“the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men”. We might just as accurately read – “a miracle took him”.

The Marines of their day, tasked to keep Jesus behind a 2 ton rock, were unable to keep Him there and, by their own admission, lost him due to a miracle.

We can tell those who don’t yet believe:

He lived – no doubt about it,

he died – no doubt about it,

and the ‘Marines’, helped by a 2-ton rock, couldn’t keep him in the grave….

Which leads to:
Number 4: the Empty Tomb

The easiest way for the authorities to disprove the Resurrection was to produce a body! But no one – on any side – ever claimed this.
William Lane Craig, the Canadian Christian apologist says:

“The earliest Jewish claim that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body (Matt. 28.15) shows that the body was in fact missingfrom the tomb . [When the disciples proclaimed], “He is risen from the dead!” [the Jews did not] point to his occupied tomb and to laugh them off as fanatics, but claimed that they had taken away Jesus’ body.

Thus, we have evidence of the empty tomb from the very
opponents of the early Christians.”

Well, wasn’t the risen Christ just a hallucination? This is also a criticism of the resurrection.

I mean, let’s be honest, these are a bunch of religious fanatics that just saw what they wanted to see, right? The evidence is against that as well:
1) Hallucinations don’t happen to between 12 and 500 people identically and simultaneously (that would be a miracle to rival the resurrection itself!)
2) Hallucinations would mean the body was still in the grave, but no one disputes that it wasn’t
3) Hallucinations must be expected , but the actions of the Disciples shows that this was not the case

He lived,

He died,

the Marines and big rock couldn’t keep him in the grave,

and everyone agrees the tomb was empty.

This is shaping up just like a cold case detective novel, but we
have one more bit of evidence to complete the package!

Number 5: Embarrassment

The Gospels are embarrassing. No one would write it that way if it didn’t happen.

Let’s take the subject of women. One first-century rabbi, Eliezer, casts light upon a particularly embarrassing position of the time:

“Rather should the words of the Torah be
burned than entrusted to a woman … ”
“Praised be God that he has not created me a gentile; praised be God that he has not created me a woman; praised be God that he has not created me an ignorant man.”

Gloriously, Paul controverted in his letter to the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, meer, slaven of vrijen, mannen of vrouwen – u bent allen één in Christus Jezus .” Amen!

But Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah, plainly – for the first time – to the woman at the well. (John 4)

This is an awkward fact for someone like old Eliezer!

Roman soldiers first reported an empty tomb, but Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Christ = a Marketing disaster !

And where were the disciples? Peter showed cowardice and confusion, they had been dispersed, followers were walking home like those on the Emmaus road, and Thomas had left the scene entirely!

They should have been camping outside the tomb, singing praises, praying and waiting for Christ to appear and…. Well, no, they didn’t. How embarrassing.

The Criterion of Embarrassment suggests that if the Gospel story were artificial it would read more like the story in the gnostic Gospel of Peter:

they saw three come forth from the tomb, two angels supporting Jesus, and a cross following them. And the heads of the two angels reached to heaven, but the head of Jesus over passed the heavens. And they heard a
voice … saying, You have preached to them that sleep. And the cross responded: Yes .”

So a giant – gigantic, COLOSSAL – Christ and a talking Cross – that might sound more “god-ish”, but it isn’t true.

What is true is that He really lived

and really died

the Roman soldiers could do nothing
about the empty tomb

and no one would cast the heroes of a first century story as women, main characters as cowards, and followers as clueless.

I’d like to end now, if I may, by stating another thing most of you may know.

It is not careful and compelling rationalization, deep psychological analysis, or clever Bible exegesis that brings people to Christ.

It is necessary, but not sufficient. We need the work of the Holy Spirit and we – you and I – need to be examples of the Christian path, and we need to be ready to give an account of the hope we have Christ Jesus.

As you stay seated, let us end in a short prayer :


we thank You for the insights into Your Word and the blessing that that brings.
We pray for those who know You: that today may have been a blessing and that we may go out with a renewed confidence to our witness.

We pray for those who believe You, but haven’t ‘received’ You: that this lesson’s fellowship may awaken embers from ash.

And finally, we pray that by being your workmen and women our witness may water a mustard seed of faith in those searching for truth.

In the name of Christ Jesus, Amen.