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.

Friday, 28 March 2008

André Troost 1916-2008

André Troost was one of the second generation reformational scholars. He died on 19th March 2008.

He was born in 1916 in the Netherlands. He studied theology at the Theological Seminary in Kampen and at the Free University (VU) in Amsterdam. His PhD, obtained in 1958, was on casuistics and situation ethics (casuïstiek en situatie-ethiek). He was a pastor from 1946. From 1958 to 1967 he looked after the pastoral needs of students in Rotterdam. In 1964 he became a professor in socila ethics at the VU and then in 1967 as professor of general ethics. He became the professor for Calvinistic philosophy at Rotterdam in 1972.

He is the author of The Christian Ethos (translated into English by Kobus and Yvonne Smith) (Bloemfontein: Patmos, 1983).
'The idea of creation order in Western thought' Theological Forum XXI (4) (1993).

Tom Wright: heaven is not our home

More from Tom Wright on heaven and bodily resurrection - this time from Christianity Today.
There is no agreement in the church today about what happens to
people when they die. Yet the New Testament is crystal clear on the matter: In a classic passage, Paul speaks of "the redemption of our bodies" (Rom. 8:23). There is no room for doubt as to what he means: God's people are promised a new type of bodily existence, the fulfillment and redemption of our present bodily life. The rest of the
early Christian writings, where they address the subject, are completely in tune with this.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

AoLR update

The following have recently been added to All of life redeemed:

Mark Roques and Arthur Jones:

Duncan Roper 'The earth as a garden for all creatures' (2008) Stimulus

Craig Bartholomew on AoLR

I have now added - thanks to Dave Beldman - the Craig Bartholomew pages on All of life redeemed. Craig is the H. Evan Runner Professor of Philosophy and Biblical Studies at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada.

At present there is a list of Craig's articles and books with links to several of his papers on the web.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Why was Jesus crucified?

One of the questions that has occupied the "Third Questers" is: Why was Jesus crucified? A myriad of ideas have been proposed. Almost all agree that Jesus was "crucified under Pontius Pilate".

Of one thing we can be sure the cross was not a mistake! It was essential to the purpose and plan of God in redeeming his creation. Why did Jesus die? "Because God willed it!" The answer to our question will also depend upon who we ask: the crowd, the Jewish leaders, the Romans and Jesus (as well as the myriad of theologians and historians through the ages) would all give different answers. Reality is multifaceted.

Martin Hengel (1977) summarises his survey of crucifixion as follows:

  • Crucifixion was widespread in the first century
  • Crucifixion was a political and military punishment
  • It was used because of its powerful effect as a deterrent
  • It satisfied the lust for revenge
  • It represented the uttermost humiliation, aggravated by the fact that the victims were rarely buried
  • The Romans used it on all dangerous criminals and members of the lower classes.

We can be sure then that Jesus died the death of a victim of a political system. The death of Jesus marks God's solidarity with the oppressed. Commenting on this Richard Bauckham says: "It is as one of the victims that in his love he reaches all of us."

An Overview of the Literature
S. G. F. Brandon (1967) regarded Jesus as a revolutionary sympathiser who was killed as a messianic pretender. Hyam Maccoby (1986), who claims Jesus was a Pharisee, thinks that by asking why a Jew from Galilee would meet an end on a Roman cross. Galilee, perhaps because it was not under direct Roman rule, had been a centre of rebellion (a point also made by Vermes). This leads Maccoby to conclude that Jesus was the latest in a line of rebels; he therefore suffered the same fate as Judas of Galilee and his supporters: he was crucified by the Romans on a charge of sedition.

Ed Sanders totally undermines Brandon's and Maccoby's arguments when he notes that Jesus' disciples weren't rounded up and likewise executed. The disciples remaining free implies that Jesus was not crucified for revolutionary intent against Rome.

For Geza Vermes (1973), Jesus is a first-century charismatic Jew, a "paramount example of the early Hasidim or Devout", others included Hanina ben Dosa and Honi the Cirle-Drawer. Vermes in an attempt to exonerate the Jews comments:
It was not on a Jewish religious indictment, but on a secular accusation that he was condemned by the emperor's delegate to die shamefully on the Roman cross.
That accusation was that "Jesus was a political agitator with pretensions to being the king of the Jews".

Ellis Rivkin (1984) thinks that we should not ask who but what crucified Jesus. His answer: "it emerges with great clarity, both from Josephus and the Gospels, that the culprit is not the Jews, but the Roman imperial system".

E. P. Sanders (1985), "a liberal, modern, secularized Protestant, brought up in a church dominated by the social gospel", in his seminal study Jesus and Judaism affirms two "facts": "Jesus was executed by the Romans as would-be 'king of the Jews', and his disciples subsequently formed a messianic movement which was not based on the hope of military victory". For Sanders two phrases are important: "physical demonstration" and "noticeable following". The physical demonstration was Jesus' "cleansing" of the temple: "simply speaking against the temple - prophesying its destruction - would lead to punishment and at least the threat of death". His noticeable following made it "expedient to kill Jesus, rather than flog him simply as a nuisance and release him".

Francis Watson (1985) with Sanders sees Jesus' attitude and actions towards the temple as the reason for his death. He regards the idea that Jesus was convicted on a purely religious charge and was condemned only reluctantly by Pilate as "historically highly unlikely", he contends that it was fabricated by Gentile Christians "who did not wish either themselves or their master to be regarded as political subversives". For Watson then, "The answer to the question of why Jesus was crucified seems to be his threat against the temple". He justifies this answer by examining the examples of other eschatological prophets that met with the same fate: John the Baptist(c AD30), Jesus the son of Ananias(c AD62), Theudas(c AD44/5), unnamed prophets that appeared during the procuratorship of Felix (AD 52-60) and an unnamed Egyptian.

It is highly unlikely that the threat to the temple is the only cause of Jesus' death; though it is one very important factor. If it were the controlling factor it is certain Luke would have made much more of the incident in the Temple.

N. T. Wright (1989) develops the view of Schweitzer. Schweitzer held the view that Jesus' death was a direct consequence of him taking upon himself the "messianic woes"; for Wright Jesus' death was the result/fulfilment of Jesus' outworking of his mission as a prophet, as announcer of the kingdom, as messiah, as the son returning to the vineyard. Jesus dies Israel's death and so is enthroned as Israel's king.

Wright offers the most convincing arguments for the death of Jesus. It is Jesus desire to redeem Israel (and the rest of creation) that sets him on a collision course with the Jewish leaders and the ruling Romans: his death was inevitable. For the Romans he represented a threat to the stability of Israel. For the Jews he attacked almost everything that made them Jewish: the temple, the sabbath, the laws of separation; his increasing popularity meant that he had to be disposed of. And for Jesus he was fulfilling the will of his Father who had sent him for such apurpose: he was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

Gustaf Aulen addressed this issue from the theological angle. In his seminal work he outlined two theories of atonement that dominated theological discussion for centuries: an objective model and a subjective model; associated with Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury (c.1033-1109) and the Frenchman Peter Abelard (1079-1142) respectively. Aulen also restated a third type of view the Christus Victor model, which received scant attention for centuries; this was largely because of the vehement controversy between the classic and the Latin models - each were only interested in scoring theological points off each other, hence a possible third - and more dramatic - view was ignored and neglected.

The Anselmian Latin model
This model was first formulated in Anselm's Cur Deus homo (Why Did God Become Human?). Put simply this "objective" view of the atonement sees God as the object of Christ's work on the cross: God is reconciled to humanity, by the substitutionary death of his son. Jesus died in our place, he suffered our punishment.

The Abelardian model
The subjective Abelardian model places the emphasis on the example of Jesus. The cross is a demonstration of God's love; and Jesus provides us with a perfect pattern for moral development. This model became dominant in the nineteenth century with the advent of rationalism and the accompanying scepticism of the miraculous.

The "classic" Christus victor model
This classic model was dominant for the first thousand years of Christianity. In it God is the reconciler and the reconciled: God in Christ is reconciling the world to himself. As in the Anselmian model humanity is in a desperate situation, they cannot save themselves. Unlike the Anselmian model the force from which humanity needs deliverance is not God's wrath, rather the bondage of demonic forces. Jesus' victorious conflict on the cross over the devil and his cohorts brings a new state of affairs: God is now reconciled with his creation.

Each view contains some grain of truth. The Anselmian view on its own is far too exclusively individualistic: emphasis is placed on personal sin but the presence of structural evil (e.g. sexism, racism, exploitation of the planet) are ignored. The Christus victor model is required to remedy this deficiency. The powers that lie at the heart of much of the structural sin are defeated by the cross on this model; thus enabling structural disobedience to be confronted. This view is also far too anthropocentric; again this deficiency is remedied by the Christus victor model: this provides theological justification for a cosmic reconciliation. Another deficiency in the Anselmian view is that it underestimates Jesus' life and ministry - this is the strength of the Abelardian view. Although taken alone the Abelardian view fails to deal adequately with the presence of evil (personal or structural).

None of the above theological views should be rejected they are all to varying degrees biblical (Christus victor more so and the Abelardian least so). However, it seems that neither view does justice to the corporate nature of the death of Christ: in Christ we all died, in Christ the cosmos is reconciled. Ultimately the cross is a paradox: in apparent defeat victory is completed; humanity in accepting the once-for-all death of Jesus is redeemed, the penalty paid, and creation can be once more reconciled to God It is fully appropriate that the cross has become the symbol of Christianity.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Authors@Google: Tim Keller

[HT Reformissionary]

Why did Jesus [have to] die?

John Piper in his book available here lists 50 reasons:

The Past Accomplishment of Christ’s Work

Salvation From, Through, and to God

Chapter 1 – To Absorb the Wrath of God
Chapter 21 – To Reconcile Us to God
Chapter 24 – To Give Us Confident Access to the Holiest Place
Chapter 25 – To Become for Us the Place Where We Meet God

The Work of a Perfect Saviour

Chapter 2 – To Please His Heavenly Father
Chapter 3 – To Learn Obedience and Be Perfected
Chapter 4 – To Achieve His Own Resurrection from the Dead
Chapter 43 – To Unleash the Power of God in the Gospel

The Redemption of God’s Own Possession

Chapter 8 – To Become a Ransom for Many
Chapter 20 – To Deliver Us from the Present Evil Age
Chapter 23 – So That We Might Belong to Him
Chapter 42 – To Disarm the Rulers and Authorities

The Vindication of God’s Righteousness

Chapter 9 – For the Forgiveness of Our Sins
Chapter 10 – To Provide the Basis for Our Justification
Chapter 11 – To Complete the Obedience That Becomes Our Righteousness
Chapter 12 – To Take Away Our Condemnation

The Fulfilment of God’s Law

Chapter 7 – To Cancel the Legal Demands of the Law Against Us
Chapter 13 – To Abolish Circumcision and All Rituals as the Basis of Salvation
Chapter 26 – To Bring the Old Testament Priesthood to an End and Become the Eternal High Priest
Chapter 31 – So That We Would Die to the Law and Bear Fruit for God

The Present Experience of Christ’s Work

A New Self

Chapter 14 – To Bring Us to Faith and Keep Us Faithful
Chapter 15 – To Make Us Holy, Blameless, and Perfect
Chapter 30 – That We Might Die to Sin and Live to Righteousness
Chapter 34 – To Enable Us to Live by Faith in Him

A Living Faith

Chapter 32 – To Enable Us to Live for Christ and Not Ourselves
Chapter 33 – To Make His Cross the Ground of All Our Boasting
Chapter 36 – To Create a People Passionate for Good Works
Chapter 37 – To Call Us to Follow His Example of Lowliness and Costly Love

A Relationship of Love

Chapter 5 – To Show the Wealth of God’s Love and Grace for Sinners
Chapter 6 – To Show His Own Love for Us
Chapter 27 – To Become a Sympathetic and Helpful High Priest
Chapter 35 – To Give Marriage Its Deepest Meaning

A Freedom and Liberty in Life

Chapter 16 – To Give Us a Clear Conscience
Chapter 28 – To Free Us from the Futility of Our Ancestry
Chapter 29 – To Free Us from the Slavery of Sin
Chapter 39 – To Free Us from Bondage to the Fear of Death

A Hope for the Whole World

Chapter 38 – To Create a Band of Crucified Followers
Chapter 44 – To Destroy Hostility Between Races
Chapter 45 – To Ransom People from Every Tribe and Language and People and Nation
Chapter 46 – To Gather All His Sheep from Around the World

The Future Consummation of Christ’s Work

Final Victory Over Sickness and Death

Chapter 17 – To Obtain for Us All Things That Are Good for Us
Chapter 18 – To Heal Us from Moral and Physical Sickness
Chapter 40 – So That We Would Be with Him Immediately After Death
Chapter 41- To Secure Our Resurrection from the Dead

Eternal Life in the Presence of God

Chapter 19 – To Give Eternal Life to All Who Believe on Him
Chapter 22 – To Bring Us to God
Chapter 47 – To Rescue Us from Final Judgment

Eternal Joy in the Glory of Christ

Chapter 48 – To Gain His Joy and Ours
Chapter 49 – So That He Would Be Crowned with Glory and Honour

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Logos for Mac alpha version

Logos for Mac is now out in alpha version. I downloaded a copy but all the resources I copied over have come out locked and I can't find a way to unlock them!

Odds and sods

Convert web pages to mp3 [HT Digital Inspiration]
Free G K Chesterton Orthodoxy mp3 [HT free Christian Resources]
The Passion timeline
10 essential Mac apps to install after a reformat to that list I'd want to add the brilliant pdf reader skim

Tim Keller on 'Belief in an age of skepticism' at the Veritas Forum:

[HT Reformissionary]

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Tyndale toolbar

At last a tool bar for Mozilla or ie (does anyone still use ie?)for biblical scholars and theologians; click on the image for a link:

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Sigur Rós 'Heima' [At home]

A 97 min film of Sigur Rós playing live concerts 'at home' in Iceland:

[HT reformissionary]

Pagan Christianity - re-review

The nice people at have sent me a review copy of the new and expanded edition of Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity. I reviewed the first edition here.

At first glance there are one or two changes – the cover now boasts a large ‘Pagan’ with roots growing out of it and is a major improvement on the bland green cover of the previous edition. George Barna is now a co-author, there is now a eleven-page bibliography (though only five have been written since the first edition – and of the five, four are by Barna or Viola; the rest reveal a distinct lack of primary sources). Other useful additions include a ‘delving deeper’ section at the end of each chapter, this is a brief Q&A – questions arising from the chapter are posed and answered.

The substance of the book is largely unchanged. They argue that many of church practices have their roots in paganism (he still doesn’t define what he means as pagan). There is much in this book that is insighful and helpful – he rightly identifies that much of what we do in what passes for church is not conducive to participation and interaction between fellow members of the body of Christ. My concern is that in the polemical tones of this book this message will be lost and ignored by those we need to hear it most.

The new edition has done nothing to alleviate my concerns stressed in my previous review:

It seems to me, though, that at times Viola is guilty of the genetic fallacy; it is wrong to condemn a practice based on its history, however dubious that history may be. The origin of something does not necessarily have any bearing upon its truth. Clothes are the direct result of rebellion against God – does that mean that wearing clothes is wrong? Practices must be damned or praised on their present merits not their previous history.

Why should we return to New testament models of church services or (non)buildings? Are the models intended to be normative or are they merely descriptive? Is Viola embracing some form of reverse chronological snobbery? It also assumes that we know what the first century church was like! The few glimpses we have in the New Testament hardly provide a blueprint; though they do provide some helpful pointers. And it does seem far away from what we have in the institutional churches today.

Elsewhere Viola has described what he perceives to be a NT church pattern it is broadly one that is modelled on 1 Corinthians. And I have great sympathy for this model. But how do we know if the the Corinthian model was used at Rome, Athens or Jerusalem? I suspect that the first-century practices are not quite so uniform as Viola thinks.
That said, I do believe Viola, despite the populist and polemical approach, has an important message for the body of Christ – I only hope those that need to hear it hear it and respond.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Principles and positivization: Dooyeweerd and rational autonomy

Glenn Friessen replies to Michael J Moor:

This is a response to Michael J. DeMoor’s article “Rational Autonomy and Autonomous Rationality: Dooyeweerd, Kant and Fichte on Subjectivity, Objectivity and Normativity,” Philosophia Reformata 72 (2007) 105-129. DeMoor argues that although Dooyeweerd opposed Kant’s idea of the autonomy of thought, he nevertheless relied on the idea of rational autonomy for the active positivizing of norms. DeMoor finds similarities between Dooyeweerd and Fichte with respect to these three issues:
1. Our consciousness depends on reflexivity or self-consciousness;
2. The correlation between subjectivity and objectivity;
3. The autonomy or spontaneity of the agent, by which “binding norms are freely applied to oneself.”

Monday, 3 March 2008

Odds and sods

Bishop Tom Wright on 'What happens when you die?" and interview with Martin Bashir on ABC News. [HT Jon Swales]

A list of Genesis resources at Monergism

The poverty and justice Bible from the Bible Society [HT
The webware 100 finalists

Sunday, 2 March 2008