An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Snap - update

Apparently it's easy to disable Snap on websites. Lifehacker has the gen here.

A few links

There is a fascinating conference on 'Karl Barth and American Evangelicals: Friends or Foes?' 24-27 June. Details here [HT Generous Orthodoxy ThinkTank]. Speakers include D G Hart and George Harinck, Michael Horton, John Franke and Kevin Hector. Topics include Barth and ... Van Til, emergent, radical orthodoxy, neo-anabaptism ....

Lifehack has 26 tips to keep your computer up and functioning - this is rather close to my heart as my computer malfunctioned over Christmas and the New Year, I had to reformat it and lost a lot of information.

To Snap or not to snap?
I've been using snap for a few weeks now - and becoming increasingly frustrated with it. So too have a number of other bloggers: here and here. There is also a poll here [HT Bill Kinnon What do others think?

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Monday, 29 January 2007

Odds and sods

Macht of Prosthesis has a great blog on Telic thoughts : 'Emergent properties, abstraction and reductionism'. He provides an excellent illustration of the abstraction of science:

That is, when scientists try to make general theories about something they strip the phenomenon of all its "unnecessary" qualities and properties and only look at the relevant ones. For example, if I want to come up with a general theory of projectile motion, I don't have much need for information about what my projectile is made of or how much it costs or what color it is. Very often, I won't even care what shape my projectile is (I'll just assume it to be a point-mass). All I'll be concerned about is the initial velocity of the projectile, it's mass, the force of gravity at my experiment location, its initial angle of motion, and the height it falls. In all likelihood, I'll make a further abstraction of the motion into vertical and horizontal components of motion and look at those separately. And I haven't even begun to mention things like the legal properties of the projectile (maybe it's a hollow-point bullet and not legal in some places) or the biological properties of the projectile (maybe it's a human cannonball).

Abstraction is a vital and necessary part of doing science. But it can be a problem if we forget that abstractions are being made and we end up mistaking the abstraction for the reality.

Ben Myers at Faith and philosophy has a post on 10 theses on B. B. Warfield; the first of which is: 'It is fashionable to disparage B.B. Warfield without having actually read his work'!

The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion are organising a short course on 'Science and religion in schools' 30 March - 1 April.

The post-charismatic Roby Mac has a fascinating post with some relevant warnings on 're-monking the church'.

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Saturday, 27 January 2007


Presbymergent is a new website for Presbyterians who are also Emergent:

It is our hope that this website will serve as a portal for all who are interested in connecting with Presbyterian and emerging pastors, leaders and lay people who are interested in and wrestling with how to live in and work in a “presbymergent” world. We hope that people will share their stories and thoughts.

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The Christian Idea of the State


On 3 October 1936 Dooyeweerd delivered a lecture on 'The Christian idea of the State'. This was subsequenty translated by John Kraay and published by the Craig Press in 1968. I have recently obtained a copy of this book and have started a blog/study guide on it here.

Friday, 26 January 2007

I'm a teetotaler!

I've just discovered that I'm a teetotaler - at least in terms of the original meaning according to Transformatum.

I never have liked tea. The only tea I can drink is nettle tea.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Dooyeweerd's philosophy of aesthetics

Glenn Friesen has recently posted his paper 'Dooyeweerd's philosophy of aesthetics: a response to Zuidervaart's critique' on his website. He concludes:

Reformational philosophy has not understood Dooyeweerd’s ideas on imagination. As a consequence, Dooyeweerd’s ideas of perception, aesthetic imagination and theoretical thought have also been misunderstood. This is particularly so insofar as reformational philosophy follows the philosophy of Vollenhoven, who did not accept the importance of imagination, and who also rejected Dooyeweerd’s other key ideas, including those of the supratemporal selfhood, individuality structures, enkapsis, and even Dooyeweerd’s meaning of ‘modal aspect.’

Zuidervaart’s critique of Dooyeweerd is related to his failure to distinguish Dooyeweerd’s philosophy from that of Vollenhoven. As a result, Zuidervaart has not properly understood Dooyeweerd’s philosophy of aesthetics. This includes a failure to consider what Dooyeweerd himself says about imagination as an act that proceeds from out of our supratemporal selfhood, the role of imagination in perception, and the nature of individuality structures and of their enkaptic interlacements. Had he separated Dooyeweerd’s philosophy from Vollenhoven’s philosophy, Zuidervaart might have reached different conclusions. Of course, Zuidervaart might have still rejected Dooyeweerd’s aesthetics. But the arguments used to understand and ultimately accept or reject Dooyeweerd’s aesthetics would necessarily be different from those that Zuidervaart has advanced in this article.

Dooyeweerd’s philosophy of aesthetics depends on his very powerful ideas on imagination, by which we reflect God’s Wisdom, and so open up temporal creation in a way that unfolds its potentialities. And these potentialities are not mere static Ideas in the sense of ‘eidos,’ but they are endlessly dynamic within God’s even more limitless and dynamic Wisdom. And our artistic creation, like other acts of opening up the temporal world, help to make that world real, to fulfill it and to redeem it.

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Saturday, 20 January 2007

WYSOCS 21st Birthday Weekend

June 2007 sees the celebrations for 21 years of WYSOCS. The special guest and speaker is Bishop Tom Wright. On 25th June 5 pm he will be speaking on 'Thinking about God in tomorrow's world' and then on 26th June 10.30 am on 'Whatever did Paul do with the kingdom of God'. There is also lots of food!

Full details are available here.

Rowan on YouTube?

Gill, of Sandbox, has a fascinating post based on rumours in the Sunday Telegraph (For TouTube, read PewTube)that Rowan Williams is planning to use YouTube to broadcast his sermons.

Gill wonders if this is rather like building a large Victorian church in an Indian fishing village; jonnybaker wonders if this might not be categorical imperialism.

I'm not so sure .... I suppose it depends on what we mean by 'sermon' and if it is any good! And couldn't the same arguments be applied to podcasts, mp3s and DVDs?

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Thursday, 18 January 2007


December's Zygon

December's Zygon journal is now out. It has three articles from the 'Einstein, God and time' conference by John Hedley Brooke, Antie Jackelen and John Polkinghorne. Abstracts can be obtained from here.

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Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Philip Edgecumbe Hughes on Dooyeweerd

Of particular significance is the development of Herman Dooyeweerd - a work of immense erudition - constructed in loyalty to the principles of the biblical revelation which are also the principles of Reformed thought. (Dooyeweerd will frown at finding himslef placed among theologians in this volume; but his philosophy is erected upon a genuinely theological foundation.) His purpose has been to construct a philosophy, which being authentically Christian, penetrates to every sphere of human life and activity. In doing so, however, he has engaged in a transcendental critique of pilosophy as a science in its specific manifestations throughout the centuries and has shown how the only system which is not incapacitated by insoluble inner contradictions os that which is founded on the creation-fall-redemption ground-motive of the biblical revelation. Herman Dooyeweerd ahs given a notable lead as with singelness of purpose and intellectual integrity he has devoted himself to the creative task of the Christian thinker
Philip Edgecumbe Hughes 'The creative task of theology' in Creative Mind in contemporary Theology (ed. Hughes). Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1966; p. 24.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

F J Stahl Publishing Project

Ruben Alvarado of Wordbridge Publishing has completed a biography, and the first part of a translation, of Friedrich Julius Stahl. Details of the project are here and a blog dedicated to the stahl project is here.

Stahl (1802-161) was the founder of the antirevolutionry party in Germany and greatly influenced Guillame Groen van Prinsterer (1801-1876).

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Thursday, 11 January 2007

Worth checking out

Macht has a link to a review by Plantinga on Dawkins's God Delusion.

Rudi has two interesting posts on Jonathan Chaplin on liberalism and telerance.

The Evangelical Outpost declared it Atheism Appreciation Week.

Giveawayoftheday is a new(ish) site that offers a new piece of commercial software (legitimately) - the only catch is that is is only available to download in a 24 hour window.

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The Forgotten Ways

Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways, has a blog here. In his book he poses the question:

How did the number of Christians in the world grow from as few as 25,000 one hundred years after Christ’s death to up to 20 million in AD 310? He then goes on to add:

And before you respond, here are some qualifications you must factor into your answer.

• They were an illegal religion throughout this period. At best, they were tolerated; at the very worst they were very severely persecuted.

• They didn’t have any church buildings as we know them. While archaeologists have discovered chapels dating from this period, they were definitely exceptions to the rule, and they tended to be very small converted houses.

• They didn’t even have the scriptures as we know them. They were putting the canon together during this period.

• They didn’t have an institution or the professional form of leadership normally associated with it. At times of relative calm, prototypical elements of institution did appear, but by what we consider institutional, these were at best pre-institutional.

• They didn’t have seeker-sensitive services, youth groups, worship bands, seminaries, commentaries, etc.

• They actually made it hard to join the church. By the late second century, aspiring converts had to undergo a significant initiation period to prove they were worthy.

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Wednesday, 10 January 2007

H. G. Stoker translations in process

John Steyn, of the Omnipotent grace blog, is in the process of translatiing some of the South Afican H G Stoker's work. Hendrik Gerhardus Stoker (1899-199?) was born in Johannesburg and taught at the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education. He served on the board of the journal Philosophia Reformata; very litle of his work has been published to date in English. But hopefully that will soon change. John Steyn on his blog comments:

It is quite a process [translating Stoker]. Stoker, as did Dooyeweerd, made up their own terminology to get certain ideas across, and you have to try and understand the context to make sure you get an acurate translation done.

Furthermore, the parts that I have finished need to go for review with his son, and/or with one of the other professors in South Africa.

So I am sorry to say, I am busy, but there is nothing I can release yet. I am not the intellectual property right owner, so I cannot even publish an unofficial version.

I have reserved a website name already, and I am hoping that I can publish some stuff there pretty soon, in the form of my own commentary on his thoughts. Check back often, I will include it in my links as soon as it is up and running.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

The book of nature

I have never really liked the metaphor of God's two books, ie, the book of scripture and the book of nature. Augustine was one of the first to formulate an early version of what could be construed as the two books metaphor:

"It is the divine page that you must listen to; it is the book of the universe that you must observe. The pages of Scripture can only be read by those who know how to read and write, while everyone, even the illiterate, can read the book of the universe” . Enarrationes in Psalmos, XLV, 7 (PL 36,518).

Robert Crease also has some qualms about it. In an article in Decemebr 2006's Physics World he looks at 'The book of nature' and concludes:
...the image of the book of nature can haunt us today. One reason is that it implies the existence of an ultimate coherent truth – a complete text or "final theory". While many scientists may believe this, it is ultimately only a belief, and it is far likelier that we will endlessly find more in nature as our concepts and technology continue to evolve. Furthermore, the image suggests that the "text" of the book of nature has a divine origin. The idea that the world was the oeuvre of a superhuman author was the precursor of the idea that it was the engineering project of an intelligent designer. This implication has led some contemporary sociologists of science to succumb to the temptation of characterizing scientists as behaving, and seeking to behave, in a priest-like manner.

The most important lesson to be found in Galileo's image is the need to keep developing and revising the metaphors with which we speak about science.

My problem with the metaphor is it seems to sugest that science is a neutral activity and that it is independent of any religious belief. Frank Manuel in his The Religion of Isaac Newton (OUP, 1974) pp. 27-8, sums it up well:
Those who inclined towards developing the idea of neutrality, or separateness, or autonomy, of science took a position that became epitomized in the metaphor of the two books, the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature, both created by God as manifestations of His omnipotence and omniscience, but books different in character that had to be kept apart.
And why only two books? Isn't God active in history and other areas as well?

Newbigin also has some pertinent things to say about it:

Graf Reventlow's [Henning Graf Reventlow, The Authority of the Bible and the Rise of the Modern World, London: SCM Press,1984] study shows how, during the latter part of the seventeenth and through the eighteenth centuries, while ordinary churchgoers continued to live in the world of the Bible, intellectuals were more and more controlled by the humanist tradition, so that even those who sought to defend the Christian faith did so on the basis that it was "reasonable", that is to say, that it did not contradict the fundamental humanist assumption. Reviewing the story, one can see how the defence moved through successive tactical retreats. There was, to begin with, the view that God has provided two ways of making himself known to us: the book which we call the Bible, and the book of nature.

Truths which we cannot by the exercise of reason read from the book of nature, are provided for us as a sort of supplementary source, from the Bible. We are not, in this view, part of a story, a drama of creation, fall, redemption and consummation. We are in a timeless world where timeless truths, valid for all times and all peoples, are being communicated in two different ways. As the eighteenth century rolls on, we find that the really essential truths are available to us from the book of nature, from reason and conscience; the truths which we can only learn from the Bible are of minor importance, adiaphora about which we need not quarrel. But inexorably we move on to the point where the Bible is subjected to the scrutiny of reason and conscience and is found to be full of inconsistencies, absurdities, tall stories, and plain immorality.

"What is striking about the books which were written, especially during the eighteenth century, to defend Christianity against these attacks, is the degree to which they accept the assumptions of their assailants. Christianity is defended as being reasonable. It can be accommodated within these assumptions, which all reasonable people hold. There is little suggestion that the assumptions themselves are to be challenged. The defence is, in fact, a tactical retreat. But as later history has shown, these tactical retreats can - if repeated often enough - begin to look more like a rout."

(Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, London: SPCK, 1989, pages 2-3)

Friday, 5 January 2007

Dooyeweerd from Nelson's New Christian Dictionary

Dooyeweerd, Herman (1894–1977) Dutch Calvinist philosopher. Dooyeweerd spent his entire teaching career (1926–1965) at the Calvinist Free University of Amsterdam. He taught that religion is at the heart of all human activities, that Christians need to be guided by the Holy Spirit in their efforts to be engaged in social reforms, and that diversity of gifts must be respected and encouraged. He set forth these ideas in A New Critique of Theoretical Thought (4 vols., 1953–1958), The Twilight of Western Thought (1960), and Roots of Western Culture (1979).

From Kurian, G. T. 2001. Nelson's New Christian Dictionary: The authoritative resource on the Christian world. Thomas Nelson Pubs.: Nashville, Tenn.

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