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, 27 June 2008

Harry Van Belle pages

I am pleased to announce the launch of the Harry Van Belle pages on All of life redeemed. Harry taught psychology at Redeemer University and at King's University College , Canada, before his early retirement in 2000.

He is a prolific writer and the site has links to many of his papers on topics as diverse as the history of psychology, psychotheraphy, trauma studies, Christian counselling, ethnic studies, communication theory and biblical meditations.

Two new books from B J van der Walt

Below are the details for two new books from Bennie van der Walt. Bennie is a South African Christian philosopher-theologian. He was professor of philosophy and director of the Institute for Reformational Studies at the Potchefstroom University. At present he is a research fellow in the School of Philosophy of the North-West University in South Africa.

A list of his publications in English is available here as well of details on how to order the books.

The Eye is the Lamp of the Body


B J van der Walt
The Eye is the lamp of the Body: Worldviews and their impact
ISBN 987-1-86822-55-2
305 pp; pbk; R120 ($25)












CONTENTS
Preface: Dr. Tukunboh Adeyemo Centre for Biblical Transformation, Nairobi, Kenya)

1. Introduction: Windows on the world

SECTION A: THEORETICAL REFLECTIONS

2. How to view and read God's revelation, the basis for an integral Christian worldview
3. The popularity, history, structure , value and dangers of a worldview
4. The uniqueness of a Reformational worldview
5. The historical background of postmodern view on normativity and on a Christian worldview

SECTION B: PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

6. Traditional African worldview and culture: a reason for the extreme
7. Antheunis Janse van Biggekerke (1890-1960): morning star of a Reformational worldview
8. The Christian worldview of Archbishop (emeritus) Desmond M. Tutu; (1) a general review
9. The Christian worldview of Archbishop (emeritus) Desmond M. Tutu; (2) his view on being human and on society
10. The Institute for Reformational Studies (1962-1999) as a Christian worldviewish organisation; its relevance for future Christian actions

Anatomy of reformation


B J van der Walt
Anatomy of Reformation: Flashes and Fragments of reformational Worldview

Third edition reprint (July 2008).

This was first published in 1981, a second revised edition appeared in 1991.






CONTENTS
1. Christ: conservative, revolutionary, ascetic, or …
2. Christ and the religious order of his day.
3. Christ and the social order of his time.
4. Christ and the political situation of his day.
5. The new way of reformation.
6. John Hus: a reformer in his own right.
7. Ulrich Zwingli: his message for South Africa today.
8. John Knox: the Scottish reformer who feared no man.
9. Sixteenth century models for Christian involvement in the world.
10. Renaissance and Reformation: contemporaries but not allies.
11. The intellectual decor of the Reformation; special reference to Calvin.
12. Church reformation: permanent call.
13. Out of love for my church; on the reformation of a reformed church.
14. Not of the world but in the world; the calling of the church in the world.
15. Church mission or Kingdom mission? The kingdom perspective in our missionary endeavour.
16. Flee from the idols!
17. The idolatry of ideologies.
18. The evangelical, revolutionary and reformational views of social change.
19. The calling of government and citizen; where do we stand in South Africa at this stage?
20. Integral Christian scholarship; looking into the heart of a Christian university.
21. God's hand in history?
22. Norms, means and ends; a reformational approach to economics.
23. The consistent problem-historical method of philosophical historiography.
24. The will of God; how the Holy Spirit directs us in the taking of difficult decisions.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

all of life redemeemed update

I have recently added the following to the all of life redeemed site:

Andrew Basden 2008. Understanding everyday experience and use of facebook and games

Albert Weideman 2008. Constitutive and regulative conditions for the assessment of academic literacy.

D. H. TH Vollenhoven Het Calvinischme en de Reformatie van de Wijsbegeerte Ch 2 (pp 22-48) (in English)

D. H. Th. Vollenhoven 'The foundations of Calvinist thought' - lecture delivered in 1934 at Dusseldorf

D. H. Th. Vollenhoven 'Lecture notes on Kant' from the syllabus 1958-59; translated by Bill Rowe (1977)






Kingdom living – Matthew 18: The unforgiving servant

Kingdom living – Matthew 18: The unforgiving servant
St Mike’s 6.30 pm 22 June 2008

The context of the parable of the unforgiving servant is the whole of Matthew’s gospel.
The Gospel was written initially for the Jews.
It is structured in five main parts:
Birth and Preparation (ch. 1-4)
1. Sermon on the Mount (ch. 5-7)
Narrative Section: Deed Ministry: Miracles (ch. 8-9)
2. Mission of the Disciples (ch. 10)
Narrative Section: Teaching and Preaching in Galilee (ch. 11-12).
3. Kingdom Parables (ch. 13)
Narrative Section: Healing in Galilee (ch. 14-17)
4. Church Discipline or Communal Rule (ch. 18) – this is the section we are looking at now
Narrative Section: Membership in the kingdom (ch. 19-23)
5 Eschatology (ch. 24-25)
Narrative Section: Passion and Resurrection (ch. 26-28)


It was aimed at Jewish readers hence Matthew avoids using the phrase the ‘kingdom of G-d’ and uses instead the ‘kingdom of heaven’ though the terms are interchangeable.

There are just over 340 mentions of the word ‘kingdom’ in the scriptures, 190 in the OT, and 54 in Mt, 19 in Mark and 43 in Luke. The kingdom is obviously important to Matt and he constantly uses parables to explain something of the kingdom. Which brings us to Mt 18: 21 ff and the parable of the unforgiving servant’. What I want to do first is to look at the background to this parable before looking at what it might mean to us.



The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Peter no doubt thought that he was being generous – the Rabbinic consensus was that the brother could be forgiven a repeated sin three times; on the fourth there is no forgiveness.
Peter thought that he was being large-hearted and generous! (Lev 26:21) But

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

Jesus ups the ante! Forgiveness is not limited by frequency or quantity. Forgiveness must be unlimited. He tells this parable to show the consequences.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
The king Jesus envisages here would almost certainly have been a Gentile king. Probably, a nearby Egyptian king, at a time before the Roman conquest. The servants were his upper-class slaves who acted as his tax collectors. They would be allowed to collect taxes for him but they could do it by making a little profit.

24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
This was about 20 years wages for a labourer between £400,000 - £1,000,000.

25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

This was perfectably acceptable! Excuses weren’t allowed!

26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’
This was a standard promise – but in the light of the extent of the debt it is unlikely he could pay it back. The kings at the time were renowned for their ruthlessness. You don’t mess with them!

27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
This was almost uncertainly unheard of! Jesus was subverting the ideas and concepts that this first-century hearers would have of ANE kings. Why? The answer is Jubilee – this is the underlying message of this parable. Practice Jubilee. The jubilee was a time that occurred every 7 x 7 years – it was a Sabbath year of Sabbath years. Every one returned home, the land was restored to them, slaves were set free and debts were written off – it was good news indeed! AD 26 was a year of jubilee, the year that Jesus announced his kingdom manifesto in Lk 4 as the favourable year of the Lord – another term for jubilee. This writing off of the debts the hearers would have understood straight away as jubilee – here was a pagan king practicing something the Jews should have been doing but weren’t!

28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’

Denarii = a day’s wages for a labourer or foot soldier –many many times smaller than the debt of the first servant! Here is someone who has jubilee done to them and in turn doesn’t practice it himself. He has had grace, mercy, forgiveness and release shown to him in great measure and couldn’t bring himself to share it with others.

29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’

This second servants words also echo the first words, the first servant must have realised what he was doing. He had experienced incredible grace but wasn’t able to extend that to others. That is living dysfunctionally, that isn’t kingdom living.

30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.

Great wisdom here – how could someone in prison earn to pay the debt back? This first servant really is messed up! Unforgiveness screws you up!

31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.
They were distressed not only because of the unfair treatment, but because the actions of the first servant might mean it might reflect badly upon them.

32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
Understandably, the king is angry – not only has he lost the revenue from the second servant the first put into prison but also his inability to show mercy, again it reflects badly upon the king.

33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’
The difference between grace and mercy – mercy is not getting what we deserve and grace is getting what we don’t deserve.

34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.
Basanistas = torturers, not merely jailers. Torture was forbidden under Jewish law but the Gentile kings did practice it.

The king acts with compassion and mercy and yet punishes with ruthlessness. Grace and justice embrace.

Here’s the rub!
35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

An echo of the Lord’s prayer: forgive us our sins as we have forgiven. Interestingly Mt uses debts and Luke debts and sins.

Jesus spoke in Aramaic probably used the term khaba which means both sins and debts.

It would be easy to spirtualise this away and just regard it as forgiveness of sins, but debts are also included – this is a theme of the sabbath year and jubilee, sins are forgiven, slaves are set free and debts are written off.

Jesuit theologian John Haughey:
"We read the gospel as if we had no money, and we spend our money as if we know nothing of the gospel."

God is concerned about what we do with our money – forgive us our debts. Don’t get into debt!

Why this emphasis on forgiveness? – forgiveness can bring release and restoration; two major jubilee themes.

Let’s look at this forgiveness.

First some things it is not:

1. Forgiveness is not ‘never mind’
– things need to be addressed and confronted, too many churches have piles of rubbish under the carpets! Let’s not be one of them. Being forgiving doesn’t mean that injustice and sin doesn’t have to be confronted – the verses immediately before this parable show us how to confront sin.

2. Forgiveness is not weakness
Forgiving doesn’t mean we tolerate wrongdoing. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t address injustice. You are forgiven – but don’t do it again.

3. Forgiveness is not easy – it may depend on your personality!
It can be difficult, painful and hard – but it does transform, it’s worth it!


4. Forgiveness is not forgetting
Who say you have to forget? Forgiveness is not forgetting. Nowhere in the scriptures does it tell us we have to forget – but we do have to live as if it never happened. In the parable the king forgave his servant, but when he showed unforgiveness to another, the king still remembered what he had done.


What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a letting go, a cancelling of a debt. The Greek word used is aphiemi, it literally means to ‘send off’, ‘to release’ good jubilee terms!

1. Forgiveness is a choice
Forgiveness is a choice not a feeling!
When we have been hurt or wronged – we need to recognise it.
Realise we can’t change it – we can’t reverse it.
But then we have a choice live with the pain or release it through forgiveness.

2. Forgiveness is giving up revenge
We don’t have a right to get even! Revenge can be sweet, but it is not right!
Rom 12: 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."

Oscar Wilde: “Always forgive your enemies--nothing annoys them so much.”

3. Forgiveness brings freedom

The story has been told of a former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp who visited a friend who shared the ordeal with him. "Have you forgiven the Nazis?" he asked his friend. "Yes." "Well, I haven't. I'm still consumed with hatred for them," the other man declared. "In that case," said his friend gently, "they still have you in prison."


That story points out this reality: ultimately, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Bitterness and anger imprison you emotionally. Forgiveness sets you free. Lewis Smedes writes:

The first person who gets the benefit of forgiving is always the person who does the forgiving. When you forgive a person who wronged you, you set a prisoner free, and then you discover that the prisoner you set free is you. When you forgive, you walk hand in hand with the very God who forgives you everything for the sake of his Son. When you forgive, you heal the hurts you never should have felt in the first place.


4. Forgiveness is a process
Forgiveness may take time – it is a journey. We may have to keep on forgiving some. Lewis Smedes tells this story:

I once was in a rage at a police officer in the village where I live for abusing my youngest son for no good reason. I stomped about my house for several days in a fury of anger at the officer. I knew I would be miserable unless I forgave him. But I did. I did forgive him. I forgave him by going into my study and getting on my knees, and saying, "Officer Maloney, I forgive you. In the name of God, I forgive you."
About a year later I saw this same office drive by in a patrol car and I had to do it all over again. Only it was easier the second time. Then, a few years later, I heard that he had been fired from the force for abusive conduct. Hearing that tasted sweet as honey to me. I secretly smacked my lips with vengeful satisfaction. Then I realized I needed to forgive him one more time. Which I did. And, who knows, I may have to do it a few more times before I’m over it.


What happens if you feel you can’t forgive?

I need for justice ... It’s too hard .... I’ve been hurt too much ....

You have a choice forgive and set yourself free or don’t forgive and keep yourself imprisoned.

Father forgive …
God has forgiven us - we didn't say sorry, we didn't make the first move

Ask the Lord to help, take the first step - choose to forgive, don't wait for the feelings

Ask for a revelation of God love and forgiveness to you; the unforgiving servant didn’t realise how much he was forgiven so he couldn’t forgive others – ask God for that revelation.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Christian and Humanist Foundations for Statistical Inference - Andrew Hartely

Christian and Humanist Foundations for Statistical Inference: Religious Control of Statistical Paradigms

Andrew M. Hartley

Resource Publications (Wipf and Stock Publishers): Eugene OR, 2008.

xii + 126 pp; $18.00 pbk.
ISBN 10: 1-55635-549-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-549-3

Andrew Hartley poses the question 'Does the Christian faith have anything distinctive to say ... about the foundations or practice of statistics as a science?' His answer is a resounding yes. In this book he shows us how. As he does so he exposes the dogma that statistics is religiously neutral as being a religious belief. If such a claim seems intriguing or even outrageous, then this book is for you.

He maintains that statistics has for the most part been controlled by non-Christian, humanist beliefs. His desire is to see the Christian faith integrated with statistics; hence the descriptive, if not snappy, title of the book.

Hartley claims to write for a wide audience, yet the mathematical equations may put off many arts students, which is a pity as they would benefit from this excellent introduction, as Hartley writes clearly and explains the difficult mathematics well. Though there were one or two places I had to re-read and read slowly!

Hartley begins by looking at four different paradigms within statistics: direst and indirect frequentism, subjective and objective bayesianism.

He then provides a brief overview of Dooyeweerd's philosophy - the philosophy of the law idea (PLI). This includes the religious control of any and all sciences, the modal aspects - their irreducibility and inter-aspect coherence - and the role of religious groundmotives.

He looks in more depth at one religious groundmotive, the nature freedom motive. This has two main poles: the nature or science ideal and the personality ideal. The former emphasises nature and the latter freedom. He sees how these apply to the statistical paradigms. The nature ideal (over)emphasises and absolutises the mathematical aspects of reality, this is seen in direct frequentism and objective bayesianism. These paradigms tend to be the most dominant because, as Hartley states, many statisticians have first placed their trust in mathematicism: reality is reduced to quantitative functioning. The subjectivist approach fits into the personality ideal and indirect frequentism fits well with this framework. Indirect frequentism absolutises the role of subjective elements, the individual scientist becomes the 'last word concerning the credibility of a hypothesis' (p. 76).

The only paradigm that could provide a Christian basis is then subjectivist Bayesianism. This is then examined, in chapter 7, to see how well it does comport with a Christian worldview. Subjective bayesianism makes no claims that scientific hypotheses 'must follow solely from quantitative data' and it holds to the 'coherence of inter-aspectual meaning' (p 82). Hartley identifies some possible conflicts between the PLI and subjective bayesianism but these are not insurmountable. Though he rejects the other three paradigms as being inconsitent with a Christian perspective, he does note that they could be implemented non-reductively and their results may 'approximate subjective bayesian conclusions' (p106).

There is a useful six-page glossary of key statistical terms and Dooyeweerdian terms and an eight-page bibliography. Unfortunately, there is no index.

This brief book is not an easy read, nevertheless it demands and repays careful attention. It should be required reading for all statisticians, mathematicans and scientists. It provides an excellent role model for the application of Dooyeweerd's philosophy to a subject and has shown how religious belief control statistical inference. Statistics is not religiously neutral. It isn't the last word on Christianity and statistics - as Hartley notes in his conclusion, where he identifies other areas for reflection and investigation (p 111) - but it is an important step towards it. It is a pioneering book and will provide the basis for much needed research and discussion.

Available from:

Wordled


From Wordle

Friday, 20 June 2008

ICS essays

Stuart Basden has posted his essays he wrote for his Institute of Christian Studies classes. Lots of great food to chew over.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Bob Goudzwaard Annotated Bibliography

A second edition of Bruce Wearne's annotated bibliography of Bob Goudzwaard's work is now available:
[pdf 104+ xix pages (approx 1.1 MB)]
There are also a number of Bob's articles now on-line accompanying this monumental work. These can be accessed through the Goudzwaard pages on the All of life redeedmed site, or via the live links on Bruce's bibliography.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Saturday, 7 June 2008

A Mathematician's Psalm

A Mathematician's Psalm
Gene Chase


Praise You, O Lord, for inverse square laws
By which You hold the earth to the sun
And warm us just enough.


Praise You, O Lord, for the exponential function
And its inverse the logarithm
So pain does not double with pressure,
But growth is proportional to capacity.

Praise You, O Lord, for the continuity of creation.
Cars don't break down in an instant without warning;
Eyesight dims without sudden blackness;
Memory and imagination link past and future with the present;
Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people.

Let all that has functional representation praise the Lord!

Praise ye the Lord.

Copyright © 1979. Gene B. Chase. All rights reserved.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Vocational Calvinism by Ray pennings

Ray Pennings has a fascinating piece in this week's Comment: Vocational Calvinism. He writes:

Reformed, Calvinist teaching regarding work can be summarized as follows:

  1. God works, and we are called to bear His image;
  2. God derives satisfaction from His work;
  3. God provides for us through our work;
  4. God has commanded man to work, and to work within the framework of His commands;
  5. God holds us accountable for our work and expects to be acknowledged through it;
  6. God provides particular gifts designed to meet particular needs in the advancement of His kingdom;
  7. The Fall has radically affected our work. Work became toil;
    thorns and thistles frustrate our efforts. Fallen man seeks to glorify
    himself rather than his Creator through work;
  8. Work is an individual as well as a social activity;
  9. God takes pleasure in beauty, and the Scriptures do not focus simply on the functional and utilitarian aspects of work; and
  10. Christ worked as part of His active obedience, and the believer's work through Christ is part of that obedience.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Everything is spiritual - a review

Everything is Spiritual
Rob Bell
DVD, Flannell, Zondervan, 2007
025986285562
Running time: 01:17:52.

Rob Bell is familiar to most through the short Nooma DVDs. This is different, there are no set pieces, no clever camera angles or tricks and it lasts much longer. This is a recording from his 25 plus city 'Everything is Spiritual' tour in 2006. The performance on the DVD took place in an Arts Centre in Grand Rapids, USA.

This is a cross between a sermon, lecture, performance art - at the end a huge white board is covered in notes - and stand-up. Bell is a gifted communicator and appears to be speaking without notes. He speaks for over a hour and a quarter but it seems like twenty minutes. Were that all church speakers were as absorbing.

The 'chapters' on the DVD are as follows:
In the beginning 00:00:00
100 billion galaxies 00:09:07
Atoms are small 00: 21:11
Flatland 00:31:42
You are here 00:57:50
Seasons 00:57:50
Everything is spiritual 01:11:10
Bell begins at the beginning, Genesis 1 - he calls is an ancient Hebrew poem - and draws out its implications. He adopts a framework hypothesis and explores the many times phrases and words occur in threes, sevens (eg the first verse has seven words, the second verse 14 words (7 x 2), earth occurs 21 times (7 x3), God 35 times (7 x 5), 'And God saw' 7 times) and tens (the following phrases all occur ten times: 'according to their kind', 'and God saied ...', 'let there be ...'), suggesting that the author have have had some [divine] help!

He then looks at the immense size of the universe from the very large (galaxies) to the very small (atoms and sub-atomic particles). In doing so he is able to draw out the incredible and awesomeness of the creation and brings glory to the Creator. The fine tuning of the universe is then briefly explained.

Edwin Abbot's Flatland analogy is then explored to make some excellent points. He suggests that it could unite science and faith, and predestination and freewill. Science is a circle in the 2D flatland, faith is a square; but in reality they may be 2D representations of a 3D cylinder.

He sees humans as being both spiritual and physical. We can't help but being spiritual - hence everything is spiritual. However, he doesn't really define what he means by 'spiritual'. I would like to have seen him develop this a little more. It is all well and good being spiritual (structure) but how are we to develop and embody it (direction).

There are a number of small errors that Bell makes in the science, these have been identified here. These don't however, detract from his main points. There is nothing new or ground-breaking on this DVD and there are numerous of resources that Bell has drawn upon, including Henri Blocher and Nahum Sarna on Genesis, Hugh Ross and George Schroeder on science and Genesis and Abbott's Flatland. But what Bell does is make it all accessible, fascinating, intriguing and very watchable and in the end it stirred up a response to worship our amazing Creator.

Available in the UK from
eden
wesley owen

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Putting Jesus in His Place - book review


Putting Jesus in His Place The Case for the Deity of Christ
Robert M. Bowman Jr and J. Ed Komoszewski
Kregel Publications 2007
ISBN 978-0-8254-2983-5
£11.99; pbk; 392 pp

What do we think of Jesus? That is perhaps the most important question ever asked. There have been a myriad of answers: a rebel Pharisee (Hyam Maccoby), a failed Jewish revolutionary (H S Reimarius), a magician (Morton Smith), a great moral teacher and example (E Renan), a social worker (Edward Norman), a man who never was (G A Wells), the husband of Mary Magdalene (Barbara Thiering), a myth for our time (Don Cupit) or divine but not human (Docetism), human but not divine (Ebionitism) and God incarnate, human and divine.

No historian denies the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, what is more controversial is his divinity. As F F Bruce wrote: "The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the 'Christ-myth' theories." The case for the deity of Christ is clearly presented in this book by Bowman and Komoszewski.

The authors use the acronym HANDS to examine the evidence for the deity of Christ:
Honours: Jesus shares the honours of God
A
ttributes: Jesus shares the attributes of God
N
ames: Jesus shares the names of God
D
eeds: Jesus shares the deeds that God does
S
eat: Jesus shares the seat of God's throne
The book is split into five parts, each part examines one of the aspects outlined above.

The honours shared by Jesus and God include: worship and prayer; the attributes shared include preexistence, being eternal, uncreated; the shared names include: I Am, first and last, alpha and omega, saviour, King of kings, Lord of lords; the deeds include: creating, speaking with divine authority, forgiving sins, ruling over the forces of nature; the seat includes: claiming to be equal with God, ruling over all things and ruling forever.

It provides an excellent overview of the divinity of Christ drawing upon biblical and non-biblical sources. It provides a powerful and compelling cumulative case for the deity of Christ.

There are 75 pages of notes, two pages of recommended resources and a 26-page Scripture index. There is also an accompanying website, here, with further resources.

The book is very accessible, in terms of reading, layout (lots of nice tables) and price!

Available in the UK from:
Amazon
Book depository
Wesley Owen

Monday, 2 June 2008

Apostolic Networks in Britain by William Kay - book review

Apostolic Networks in Britain
New ways of Being Church
William K. Kay
Paternoster: Milton Keynes, 2007
ISBN 978-1-84227-409-5
£29.99; pbk; xxii + 377 pp.

William Kay, Director of the centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies at Bangor, is a prolific author, editor of Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association and an ordained minister in the Assemblies Of God. He has written widely in the area of faith development of young people, religious education and on the Pentecostal movement. Here he turns his attention to a movement parallel to the Pentecostal movement: apostolic networks. He combines his extensive knowledge of the charismatic movement with empirical studies and has provided an almost exhaustive study of the contemporary so-called 'new church' scene.


When I was involved with the charismatic movement in the early eighties to mid nineties, these churches were called house churches - the name was indicative of its origins rather than descriptive, as most met in school halls, cinemas or sports centres. Now it seems they are calling themselves new churches. This too is a misnomer, the newer churches are those of the emergent movement. Kay uses the better description 'apostolic networks'.

Usually the last move of God is the worst enemy of the next. Pentecostals usually don't get on with charismatics - and here we have a Pentecostal putting the new churches under the theological and sociological magnifying glass, and it is done in a sympathetic and understanding way. No one can say that Kay has not done his homework, I would also find it hard to believe that any of those networks or apostles examined here would say that Kay has misrepresented them or misunderstood them - all of it resonates with my experience of apostolic networks.

First he traces their history (chs 1-2). Starting, as most histories of the charismatic movement do, with Smith Wigglesworth's prophecy to David Du Plessis, through Arthur Wallis and then the Fountain Trust to the streams associated with Restoration magazine (R1) and Fullness magazine (R2). Now we have a whole range of Rs!

Kay examines 12 apostolic networks in detail (chs 3-14); the 'apostles' are: Bryn Jones, Terry Virgo, Barney Coombs, Tony Morton, Roger Forster, Gerald Coates, Stuart Bell, Colin Dye, Noel Stanton, John Wimber, Colin Urquhart and Hugh Osgood. Here he provides a brief biography of the apostle some observations on the network and then some concluding remarks. Most of this section is drawn form interviews with the apostle and members of their churches. Kay isn't over-critical and is generally positive and I would have liked to have seen a little more constructive criticism and critique.

Several key themes are then explored in the 'Crossflows' section (chs 15-17), including the cell movement and the Toronto blessing. Most of the networks have cells but are not cell churches and all have to a greater or lesser extent experienced the Toronto blessing, that came out of the Toronto Airport Church in the nineties. Part IV (chs 18-20) contains a qualitative analysis. this includes a look at the theology, mission and sociology. With the exception of perhaps Terry Virgo's network the majority are arminian in outlook. There is a brief discussion on what is an apostle. The main emphasis is on being a church planter. The discussion is unlikely to persuade those who believe that Apostles disappeared with the early church. Is there a difference between NT Apostles and contemporary apostles? In Part V (ch 21- 24) is a summary of the results of an extensive qualitative analysis. This is based on a questionnaire sent to 647 leaders in the networks. There was a 48.8% response rate. The questionnaire was based on one Kay sent to Pentecostal pastors in the late 1990s.

Interestingly, Kay believes that the number of apostolic network churches are far fewer that have previously been estimated (around 2,000 according to Religious Trends no 3). The 12 networks Kay examines comprise 647 congregations. Obviously, there are a larger number than these, for example independent new churches such as those very loosely associated with South Chard (Sid Purse, Harry Greenwood, Ian Andrews, Roger Price) and with Brother North's (GWN) 'circuit' (eg, those in Liverpool, Lanark, Exeter, Reading and Rora House, Devon). North is an interesting and influential character - Kay describes his as a proto-apostle. Those who were originally associated with him were Dave Tomlinson, Alan Vincent, Peter Parris and Bryn Jones.

The questionnaires reveal some interesting results. The mean age of congregational leaders is 47, and the range of ages is 25-72. The vast majority are male (85%) and most do not hold with women elders. Most of the leaders had some Christian background and upbringing but had very little full-time or part-time residential training. 75% spoke in tongues everyday and 86% read their Bibles daily. Only five of the networks had more baptisms than funerals. One-fifth of the congregations contain more than 50 adults and 5.1% of the congregations are over 350 adults. Kay summarises: "The networks are more alike than different..." (p. 312). Church growth and charismata is the subject of ch 22. Here Kay concludes that Charismatic activity both from the leaders and the congregation is associated with church growth and that ministerial evangelism is important but is not associated with church growth.

There is an extensive (15 page) bibliography which is an invaluable resource - as is the whole book - for future researchers. Few other book length studies of his aspect of the contemporary scene have been published.

Kay has provided a comprehensive and extensive - if not exhaustive - study of apostolic networks and it is a must read for anyone involved in the networks and those researching the movement. It also has the added advantage of being very readable and accessible. I throughly enjoyed reading it. It forms part of Paternoster's excellent Studies in Evangelical History and Thought series.


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