Dying Well

Recently I was given two reminders of the reality of my own impending death. I say impending, because I have a disease that will at some place, at some time, in some way, do what God did not intend – separate my spirit from my body. This disease is known as mortality, and the cause of it is sin. And while I am so thankful to God for his amazing grace in the Lord Jesus, that my eternal future is secure, these reminders were powerful none the less.

The first reminder was a funeral that I did. It was for a 96 year old woman. The second was watching one of the last vlog posts of Nabeel Qureshi, who entered into the joy of his master, Jesus Christ, after enduring a year-long battle with cancer.

It has given me pause to ponder the questions:

How do I die well? What does it mean to do well?

I remember hearing of a Bishop’s wife who was at a women’s prayer meeting and the women were praying for a Christian woman who has a terminal illness. After many ask God to comfort her and to heal her and to give the doctors wisdom as they treat her, she asked God to enable her to ‘die well’.

There was some disquiet amongst the prayer meeting, how could she be so insensitive? How could she even mention the ‘D’ word? How could she give up hope?

Yet I believe these questions say more about the problem in Australian culture (in fact I would say the problem with Western culture) than it does with the Bishop’s wife’s prayer.

The problem that was highlighted to by Assoc. Prof. Richard Chye, who is the Director of Palliative Care at Sacred Heart Hospice in Sydney, who in the SBS 3 Part Documentary in which three terminally ill people talk about Living the End said this (at the 22:30 mark of the vid):

Culturally I don’t thing we deal with dying well…even more so now with the westernisation of our culture has put death into a much more secretive too hard basket…and we drammatise dying as being something that does not happen often”.

From my observations, I believe our culture dramatises dying as if it won’t happen at all. We live as if life is permanent; as if we won’t die, and if we ignore it, deny it, then someone how, some way, death will pass us by. We never see it and this is deliberate. If we are honest death frightens us, it puzzles us, it angers us, it confuses us and it hurts us.

Christians are not immune from death, Christians acquire the same illnesses as the non-Christian, Christians are killed from accidents and mishaps just as the non-Christian is. However observing the responses from the prayer meeting and the request to God that a fellow believer die well, is it possible that us Christians in the west also don’t deal with dying well?

Why is this the case? Here are thoughts I have:

We imbibe this world– We all know the story about the frog in the pot – the theory goes that if you place a frog in boiling water it will immediately jump out, but if you place a frog in warm water and slowly bring it to the boil, it will die. The reason is that the frog does is so immersed in the warmth of the water and comfortable it does notice the changes, changes that will lead to its demise. We live in the pot of this world, and swim in the water of our culture, we feel the pull and currents of the various loves, passions, pleasures and morés of our culture and therein lies the danger. If we are not discerning, if we don’t critique our world in light of the Scriptures, we don’t notice that we change with the culture, we become like our culture and we like our culture…and we dislike those things our culture dislikes…things such as death, the use of the D word, so we end up ignoring death also, not thinking about it and become offended when a fellow Christian prays for that another Christian will die well.

Our grip on this world is too tight – There is Christian singer named Colin Buchanan. He writes very funny and entertaining songs for children, but they are songs that are packed with the Scriptures and good theology. In one of the songs the chorus goes: “Passing through, passing through, on the way to heaven. Don’t let this old world get its group on you. God’s children are only passing through”. Although I agree with Colin, perhaps one of the reasons we baulk at thinking about what it means to die well, is because we grip onto the world so tightly that we see Heaven as the consolation prize, and this life is the main thing and as a result don’t see as ourselves as temporary residents on this world.

We are vague about what happens when we die – We tell our children that when we die we go to Heaven. Which of course is right and proper, but as adults we become vague on the details. We don’t notice what the Scriptures says about Hades/the place of interval, we don’t think about the fact that Heaven is our final destination, that Heaven will be on a redeemed earth where our bodies and spirits are reunited into a perfect resurrected body. We don’t think about the end times, and perhaps have a panmillenial approach to Jesus’ return (i.e “Who cares about the details, God has it sorted, it will all pan out in the end”). Vagueness I think can lead to uncertainty, which can lead to doubt, which can turn into fear, a fear that feeds our culture’s fear of death, of talking about death, which prevents us from dying well.

Compartmentalisation – So we compartmentalise dying from our thoughts, and we reserve heaven to being that place we go to when we die (which hopefully will not happen for a very very very very long time), so I can get on with living my life now, enjoying my family, church, work, etc now.

So what does it mean to die well?

Dying well means dying:

Full of faith – Hebrews defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. (Heb 1:1). The Christian’s faith is not an empty faith, not wishful thinking, but is a faith based on real promises, fulfilled in the real death and real resurrection of the real saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, who has conquered the death and is preparing the place for us that we can never prepare for ourselves (John 14:1-6). This same Jesus who is the first fruits of the resurrection, who will then in turn resurrect our bodies when he begins his millennial reign! (1 Corinthians 15:20-24). Of course, like the rest of humanity, I do not know when and how I will die, but I do know that I want to be full of this sort of faith when I do, and it is my prayer that I will.

Full of thanksgiving – There is always something about living in this world that leaves us unsatisfied, it does not matter how much money we have, or have had, how successful we have been in our career, or in our families, or our marriage. There is something about living in this world that leaves us wanting it – it…that something more….that something that will satisfy us perfectly and permanently…that it, is the world that we are made for. We will never be fully at home in this world. Our world is a pale reflection of what is waiting for us.  The author C. S Lewis knew this about the human condition and wrote these words:

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” 

Why do we not feel at home here? It is because Heaven is our ultimate destination. We are made by God and for God, and to abide with God. We have an eternal longing for our eternal home. C.S Lewis also wrote:

 “Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Of if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures?                                                                                                                  

The Church Father Augustine knew well that all of us are made for God and he wrotes these words:

 “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”                                                                                               

So our most profound fulfilment, completion and joy cannot be found on this world. Each day of life is one day closer to that most profound fulfilment, completion and joy and all this because the grace of God found in the Lord Jesus and this is something that should fill us with thanksgiving!

Dying often gives opportunity to reflect back on one’s life. There are many things that the Christian can be thankful to God for, not only our salvation, but for family, for those who brought us to Christ, for opportunities to tell others of Christ, for all the good gifts that God gave us for our enjoyment in this life.

Full of Prayer – Dying is the final time God’s people have to speak with God through the eyes of faith, that is to speak with him before we see him. I like to think that dying well means dying with a prayerful heart. Thanking God, praising God, asking for forgiveness for leaving undone those things in our lives that we out to have done, and for things we have done that we ought not to have done. Committing to God those we are leaving behind, praying for unbelievers that we know, perhaps even hospital staff (if that is where we are when we are dying).

Full of excitement – Each day of life brings us closer to being with the Lord Jesus where we will no longer battle with temptation, with sin, the world, the flesh and the devil. The act of dying brings this reality home for us. We have nearly arrived. When we die we will be the Lord, and although not in body (that will happen when He returns). But we will be with the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy beautiful fellowship with him and all of God’s people, including all those great saints of the past and Christians whom we have known and loved who are already there. We will be with Abraham (Luke 16) – we will meet all the people of faith, including the Apostle Paul. For this is the King’s garden party. Angels will also be there. If you die alone, or unwanted or uncared for, or in a tragic accident, God has his angels waiting for you on the other side to care for us! It is wonderful! (Luke 16:22). This is why Paul says, he longs to depart. We will be with Jesus the moment we die. What the Lord Jesus said to the thief on the cross ,“Today you will be with me in paradise”, will be our experience too! And while we are there, we will have that indescribable expectation of knowing that there is even better still to come, when the Lord Jesus will resurrect our bodies at his return and we will meet all God’s people in the air as Christ begins his reign. This is something to be excited about!

So how can we die this way, full of faith, thanksgiving, prayer and excitement – to die well?

Pray – Pray that God by his Holy Spirit will enable us to die well. Contrary to popular belief, dying is not natural. We are not meant to die. The separation of our souls from our bodies is not natural. Physical death is due to sin and no human being is shielded from sin’s physical consequences. So it makes sense I think to conclude that if dying is not natural then dying well is not humanly possible. It is not a human trait. But the good news is that the ability to die well is a divine quality. We can die well, because of the presence, power and enabling of the Holy Spirit, who remember indwells us and is a guarantee of what is coming!

Walk with the Lord – Read God’s Word, really read it, inwardly digest it, cherish it, make it the normal part of your life, so much so that a day without reading God’s Word feels like a very weird and strange and odd day. Pray, (I know I just mentioned this above), but pray daily in your life. I use the BCP daily, and I like to think that if God’ grants me long life, yet I lose my memory, that I will still remember the wonderful prayers of Cranmer and will pray the prayers of Cranmer! Walk with the Lord, praying that your life will be one that is full of faith, thanksgiving, prayer and excitement.

I have heard many people who work with the dying say that people often die the way they have lived. So for the Christian, if one lives well (as the God defines living well), they will most likely die well and I think that is the heart of it. So if you want to die well dear Christian, then live well!


Anglican Priests – Ontological? Functional? Or Something Else?


The 1st of May is the anniversary of my ordination to the Priesthood. One year I placed a pic of it on my FB page and my friend who was priested with me (standing on the right of me, I am the bloke in the middle wearing the almost white chasuble) also placed the same pic on his FB page. What I found interesting was that he received many comments and ‘likes’ whereas I received no comments and not many likes.
Of course it is FB, it does not really mean anything because the world of FB is not real, but what is real is that my friend who was priested with me is a very staunch Papalist Anglican priest where I am very much a Reformed Anglican Priest.
His view of being a priest is ontological whereas my view of being a priest is functional (though I suspect he agrees with some aspect of the functional view). For those who are not sure what this means here is an explanation:

A view of the Priesthood – Ontological
When a person is ordained as a priest, there is a change regarding your very nature. In essence you become a different kind of person, a different kind of Christian, and this is not to do primarily with your role, (though it shapes and dictates your role) but with who and what you become. God affects an ontological change in the very nature of who you are. Deacons, Priests and Bishops who hold to this view see themselves as being in Holy Orders until they die, still recognised as one by retaining their title even at retirement and still wear their clerical garb. The Roman Catholic Church holds to this view. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states that ordination “confers an indelible spiritual character” which “cannot be “repeated or conferred temporarily” (CCC#1583). “The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him permanently” (CCC#1583)
The late Rev John Richardson (aka The Ugley Vicar) describes this view like this:

In ordination, the person being ordained is, as it were, ‘made into’ a priest — he (or she) is no longer quite what they were as a layperson, and is not simply ‘authorized’ by ordination, but is changed and ‘empowered’ by it. The views on this ‘empowerment’ may vary, but the essential characteristic is that priest and laity are in some way separated in what they are, not just in what they do. We will call this simply the ‘priestly’ model, since for most people, the word ‘priest’ conjures up exactly this ‘set apart specialness’ of someone different from the layperson.

A View of the Priesthood – Functional
When a person is ordained as a priest, nothing happens to them in regards to their nature. The change is only in regards to what they can do publicly. Actually what priests do in church anyone Christian can do in their own homes.
And as for the prayer in the Anglican ordinal asking God to send down The Holy Spirit, is so that the Newly ordained priest may do what the ordinal and the Scriptures set out for them and require them to do. Scripture is very clear what the role of the Priest (the term Priest is an English version of the Greek word Presbyter, although many Reformed Anglican Priests avoid the term due to perceived Roman Catholic/sacerdotal connotations) is to be. The Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus) are very clear on what the role is of a Priest and the Anglican Ordinal very clearly states what the roles, requirements and expectations are of a Deacon, Priest or Bishop and the roles are functional.

So while I do not hold to the ontological view of the Priesthood (due it its origins lying in Roman Catholic Theology rather than the Scriptures,nor is it supported by the Anglican Ordinal), I do wonder if the understanding of the Functional view of the Priesthood is deficient in some way?

It seems to me that there are two weaknesses with the current understanding of the Functional view of the priesthood (not the view itself):

1. The role of priest is professionalised – Where they are likened to that of a CEO, service leader, preacher, Bible study teacher, manager of other clergy (who are called paid staff). In other words the role seems to be reduced to that of someone who is a paid professional, rather than a role that is vocational and one of calling. So one’s suitability as a priest and effectiveness as a priest is discerned by ‘success’ (however ‘success’ is defined in modern 21st ministry culture) and in practice one’s godliness, holiness, piety, love for others is minimalised or reduced.

2. The role of a priest is compartmentalised – It allows for the vows ordinands make at their ‘priesting’ to be compartmentalised from every day life and their roles to be compartmentalised from everyday life when the reality is that neither is possible. Whether a priest likes it or not, (although there is no ontological change within them at the ordination), the way they are perceived by people will change. Whether those views held are right or wrong; based on weird theology or something they have imbibed from childhood or previous experience; whether they are Christians in their own church, or unbelievers outwith their church; it cannot be avoided, even when they are not in church, even when it is their day off, and even if they are out and about not wearing a clerical collar attempting to be anonymous. Once a person is ordained as priest, it does not go away, and there is no off switch. Of course they can take a day off from ministry,(and they should) but they cannot take a day off from the vows that they made at their ordinations, nor decide to reject the very doctrines that they affirmed at their ordinations; just as they cannot take a day off from being a Christian and they cannot take the day off from how people will see them.

I was at the shopping centre recently buying a DVD, I was not wearing a clergy collar and the girl served me and she remembered me from her Mother’s funeral I conducted. In her eyes, I was the priest. At the moment I was not leading a service, nor reading the Bible, nor preaching, nor was I managing church staff, so according to the functional view I was not a priest. But in her eyes I was, simply by being.

As I read recently on another blog:

“There are appropriate whole-of-life expectations for ministers such that they cannot ever switch off from their role in the same way that a pilot can when they’re not flying. And even once they’ve retired from a position, a failure to live up to their ordination vows can have significant impact on those that the clergy have previously ministered to in a way that a pilot’s post-flight behaviour doesn’t affect their previous passengers”.

I saw a blog post recently pertaining to the UK series entitled Rev and the author notices the confusion between being a priest and leading the church; the ontological view of being a priest and the functional view of being a priest. The author looks at it from the problem of the ontological view (i.e Just because someone is called to be a priest, doesn’t mean they’re called to lead a church). We see this with the Rev’s main protagonist Rev Adam Smallbone. Rev Adam SmallboneIn short he is absolutely not suited to being a Priest. But because his role is defined by the Ontological view, therein lies the problem. The author points this out in his piece and I think is absolutely correct when he says:

The result is people like Adam Smallbone in Rev. He’s a nice guy; he’s clearly got some kind of call on his life. But according to that list, he isn’t called to lead a church, and the tension in the series comes from fact that no-one quite grasps that he may well be called to be a priest by the C of E’s understanding (Ontological), but he isn’t called to lead a church by the Bible’s understanding (Functional).
We see the problems shining through in the series. Adam isn’t a good preacher; as a result his congregation don’t have transforming encounters with God’s word and so don’t change. We see that painfully clearly when it comes to welcoming a repentant paedophile into the church. Adam understands grace, but he hasn’t communicated that understanding to the rest of the church, so they reject him. Adam’s wife isn’t properly on board with him being a vicar – she clearly resents it and it causes all kinds of problems for her faith, and for his leadership. I know both from personal experience and from that of friends that if a vicar’s spouse isn’t keen on them following the calling to lead a church, it won’t work. The tragedy is that Adam has been badly let down by the C of E in its confusion between the calling to be a priest and the calling to lead a church. As a result, everyone loses – Adam, the local church, the wider church.

This is the weakness of the ontological view, but the weakness of the current understanding of the functional view is just a serious. A priest who is professionalised and is compartmentalised and sees their role as a priest as a job rather than a calling and a vocation is just as unhelpful as the Rev Adam Smallbone.

So back to my FB pic. I suspect that the reason why my post did not receive so many comments from many of my Evangelical ‘friends’ is because they don’t view being priested as being that much of a big deal. To use the  analogy:

“Being ordained is a bit like getting your pilot’s licence. You need one to fly but it’s no more than a mark of recognition that you’ve proven yourself able to fly, that you choose to be an active pilot and that the authorities are happy to accept you. There’s no way in the world that just issuing a licence gives you your flying skills and there’s no reason to hold a licence once your active flying career is over”.

If this is the understanding of the functional view of the Priesthood then I think it goes too far however the answer I believe is not for Anglican priests to embrace the oncological view of the priesthood but to re-examine the functional view in light of God’s Holy Scriptures, and to a lesser extent (though not insignificant) the Ordinal. Scripture is clear that all Christians are members of a new Royal Priesthood, however those whom God has called to be ‘Priests’ like every Christian are to be living examples of those who worship God in Spirit and in truth who offer their bodies to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) and this means as an ordained Anglican priest their oaths made at their ordinations, the doctrines that they affirmed and the promises that they made are to be lived out transparently (and by God’s grace, contagiously) every day, and it does not matter if they are not rostered down to lead or preach that Sunday or whether they have parish council coming up that week.

Not ontological, but more than merely functional.

Why I Don’t use Alpha


There is no doubt about it…the Alpha Course has proven to be immensely popular over time. In recent times the course has been updated, the most recent versions of Alpha I have seen (presented by two twenty something Canadian brothers in Christ) are very well put together. The production is of high standard, the two guys come off very natural and not cheesy at all. But having said that I would not use Alpha and here are the reasons:

Alpha is weak on sin and on the atonement

Episode Why did Jesus Die – quotes

“The Bible says that deep down in our core we are broken and this brokenness leads us to act in a way that hurts us and hurt others and the Bible calls this sin”.

The bad things we are do are evidence that we are broken.

Sin can make us feel like we are chained up and not free to live life to the fullest.

          There is a cost to sin, it can lead to spiritual death, destroy our relationship with God.

Sin has broken our friendship with God

Sin builds a wall between us and God.

Alpha does not define sin Biblically but defines sin as being broken. However this is a consequence of sin, not its substance and presents sin in anthropocentric terms. The consequences of sin that Alpha mentions are true, but does not present sin from a Theocentric position. It does not say anything about God’s wrath or holiness, or that sin is rebellion against God, and that we have offended him. Humanity without God is the subject of God’s wrath. We are not slightly displeasing to Him, with the occasional doing the wrong thing, rather by nature ‘we are objects of wrath’ (Eph. 2:3) because we have offended against God and broken His holy law. The root cause of sin is not a ‘broken relationship with God’; the root cause of sin is that mankind has universally rebelled against God’s holy laws and therefore offended God himself. I find this to be very concerning, as a deficient and unbiblical definition of sin will lead to a misunderstanding of the cross. If the diagnosis is inaccurate then the cure will be ineffective.

Alpha is light on the Cross

Again in this episode sin is defined as being ‘the things we do wrong’ – (which is the effect of sin)

Jesus on the cross was carrying your sin and my sin and therefore he was cut off from God, not because of what he’d done wrong but because of what we’d done. Do you see where this leaves us? Free to have relationship with God”.

There is no mention of Jesus being the propitiation for our sins – the penal substitutionary nature of Christ’s atonement is given very little weight – that Christ died not simply in our place but took upon himself the wrath of God against sin. Sin again is defined in a human centered way, sin = the things we do wrong (to whom?, In the course the answer given is not ‘God’. What is said is incomplete – Alpha presents the cross as dealing with the wrongs we have done, our brokenness and disconnectedness, but it does not present the cross as dealing with the sin being what it is – rebellion against a Holy God who will punish sin.

God is a loving heavenly Father who wants us to be close to him. Sin has left us disconnected. Many of us live our lives without any sense of his love and uncertain about where we stand with him. No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve come from, God wants you to know his love. God welcomes us with open arms. He’s inviting all of us to turn to him and Jesus’ death made a way for us to know God. You can be forgiven of all the wrong you’ve done and be given a fresh start.

I think there is a danger when any sermon, book, or teaching presents an attribute of God as being the only attribute of God. The attribute of God that is the focus in Alpha is love. And of course this is Biblical, but it is not God’s only attribute. There is nothing in Alpha about God’s holiness (in my view this is a big omission on the part of Alpha) and this omission contributes to the reason why the death of Jesus is presented as an act of love but without any connection with the reality of God’s holy anger. We are left thinking that Christ sacrificed Himself to rescue us from the consequences of sin and that is all.

When Alpha is viewed as a whole the cross is not central to the course. Compared side by side with Christianity Explored this is quickly apparent:


Christianity Explored (CE)

Alpha: Who is Jesus?

 CE: Introduction

Alpha: Why did Jesus die?

CE: Jesus who was he?

Alpha: How can I be sure of my faith?

CE: Jesus why did he come?

Alpha: Why & how should I read the Bible?

CE: Jesus his death

Alpha: Why & how do I pray?

CE: What is grace?

Alpha: How does God guide us?

CE: Jesus his resurrection

Weekend away

Who is the Holy Spirit?

CE: The Church

Alpha: What does the Holy Spirit do?

CE: The Holy Spirit

Alpha: How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?

CE: Prayer

Alpha: How can I make the most of the rest of my life?

CE: The Bible

Alpha: How can I resist evil?

CE: What is a Christian?

Why and how should I tell others?

CE: Continuing as a Christian

Alpha: Does God heal today?

CE: Choices – Herod

Alpha: What about the Church?

CE: Choices – James & John

Alpha’s Teaching on the Holy Spirit is Charismatic – and teaches clearly that the “fullness of the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) is a subsequent experience to conversion.In the session How can I be filled with the Spirit? – in all intents and purposes it could be entitled How can I be baptised with the Holy Spirit? In the latest Alpha video one of the Canadian guys (who are very good presenters) says:

Every Christians has the Spirit, but not every Christian is filled with the Spirit”.

This is the charismatic doctrine of subsequence, yet it is presented as if this doctrine is orthodox. The results of this teaching are divisive in that the application of this teaching is that there is a two-tiered Christianity. Instead of being two types of people, the unbeliever and the believer, there are three; (1) the unbeliever, (2) the believer who is not filled with the Holy Spirit, (3) the believer who is filled with the Spirit. This teaching comes from a misreading of Acts, where the book of Acts is primarily interpreted through a hermeneutic grid that deems Acts to be prescriptive rather than descriptive. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest anything other than that the believer receives all of the Holy Spirit at the point when he or she puts their trust in Jesus and are justified.

Alpha has greater emphasis on the third person of the Holy Trinity than on the Lord Jesus Christ and yet Jesus teaching on the Holy Spirit in the gospels, particularly the farewell discourse in John 14 – 17 is ignored. These chapters teach us that there is an unbreakable connection between the Word of God and the Spirit of God, a connection which runs right through Scripture. That connection is that they both point to Christ. For the Spirit, another ‘Counsellor’ (John 14:16-17) ‘will guide you (the disciples) into all truth’ and He (the Spirit) will bring glory to me (Jesus) by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. (John 16:13-14). Given what Jesus teaches about His Holy Spirit we should expect Him to point towards Jesus and His words and not to himself and use the Scriptures to do this. Yet in Alpha, the Lord Jesus Christ is not central, he has been moved aside for the Holy Spirit.

Alpha’s teaching on Conversion is different –

We live in a unique time in history: the age of the Holy Spirit. He’s at work in the world today in a way that was never known before the day of Pentecost (then a quotation from Gal 3:14 but ignores the context of the verse). Men and women from every country and culture and economic background are invited to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

The mandate of the Gospel message is that people are to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, Then, and only then, will the regenerate person be justified before a Holy God, be filled with all of the Holy Spirit, and have absolute assurance of anger propitiated, sins forgiven and of heaven ahead. Alpha seems to invite people to have an experience of God’s love and of the power of the Spirit (and the examples given are healing, words of knowledge, the gifts of speaking in Tongues) rather than calling for obedience to the message of the gospel of the Lord Jesus.


While Alpha has its strengths, such as the videos that have come out, the presentation, the quality is very good, the two Canadian guys are very good at what they do, and no doubt God has used Alpha to bring people to himself. But the fact that God uses crooked sticks to make a straight line is due to his grace not due to the Alpha Course in my view. For Evangelicals the lack of emphasis on the Holiness of God, its deficient view of Sin, of the Cross, and the Charismatic pneumatology and take on conversion should give us serious pause when it comes to using this course with unbelievers, especially in light of the fact that there are so many better alternatives such as Christianity Explored.