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.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Why we oppose pockets for women

Taken from Alice Duer Miller 1915 Are Women People? [HT The Hair Pin]

Why We Oppose Pockets for Women

1. Because pockets are not a natural right.

2. Because the great majority of women do not want pockets. If they did they would have them.

3. Because whenever women have had pockets they have not used them.

4. Because women are required to carry enough things as it is, without the additional burden of pockets.

5. Because it would make dissension between husband and wife as to whose pockets were to be filled.

6. Because it would destroy man's chivalry toward woman, if he did not have to carry all her things in his pockets.

7. Because men are men, and women are women. We must not fly in the face of nature.

8. Because pockets have been used by men to carry tobacco, pipes, whiskey flasks, chewing gum and compromising letters. We see no reason to suppose that women would use them more wisely.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Aims for a Christian mathematics education

It has been said that the most incomprehensible thing about the world is its comprehensibility. Mathematics is only possible because God has created an ordered, law-full, universe that is comprehensible. Part of the task of mathematics is to describe the wonder of God's good creation and thereby reveal some of the invisible attributes of God e.g. his faithfulness. Mathematics is also integral to the fulfilling of the creation mandate to open up and develop the creation. Mathematics is an important tool to help us steward and unfold the potentialities of the earth. Music, art, science and economics are four subjects that would be severely impoverished without the aid of mathematics.

Mathematics is a collective term for a number of related fields: arithmetic, geometry, topology, statistics, probability, ... . All of which investigate and open up the two most basic aspects of reality: the numerical and spatial. (Applied mathematics also deals with a third aspect: the kinematic.)

Maths is a human activity therefore, it comes replete with human limitations: it is fallible, corrigible, culture- and value-laden. However, it is based in creation - it is not arbitrary or the product of social agreement. This is where a Christian view of maths diverges from the social constructivist view. This Christian view of maths does justice to both epistemological subjectivity and ontological objectivity.

Mathematics is based in created reality. It is not neutral; religious beliefs shape mathematical theories.

Mathematical education aims

Hence, mathematics education should:

1. Be placed in a historical and cultural context.
    This will help to expose the myth of mathematical objectivity.

2. Be rooted in reality and everyday applications.
    This will help show mathematics as a tool for unfolding and developing the creation.

3. Be integrated with other subjects.
    Mathematics deals with the two most basic aspects of reality, the numerical and the spatial, these aspects are basic to all other curriculum subjects. The integration with other subjects, particularly science, reveals the role of mathematics as a tool to help fulfill the cultural mandate.

4. Describe the beauty and order of creation and to help students understand creation.

5. Reveal some of the attributes of God (Rom 1:20; Ps 19:1). Particularly the faithfulness of God to   his creation exemplified in his laws and the lawfulness of creation. Without this mathematics would be impossible.

6. Enable us the be better stewards of God’s creation.

7. Provide fun and enjoyment.

8. Focus on understanding rather than rote or memorisation.

9. Recognise that each student is created in God's image and that each student is unique.
    Differentiation will be important.  We all learn in different ways and at different rates, this should be taken into account. 

A model for mathematics - all activity takes place within a worldview. Hence epistemological subjectivity, but ontological objectivity. History and application play important roles (Adapted from an original diagram by Revd Richard Russell.)

Resources for a Christian approach to mathematics
Resources for a Christian approach to education

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Science textbook critiques

Some years ago I did some work on critiquing science textbooks from a Christian perspective.

Here are two of them. The first is on two Accelerated Christian Education modules. I don't know if they have changed in the intervening years, so the critique may or may not still be valid. The other is on Science in Process - this textbook was a bit of a flash in the pan - when the emphasis was on doing science.

(The views represent my thoughts in 1994 - not necessarily now.) 

Review of Accelerated Christian Education science booklet

Review of Science in Process UK Science textbook

Monday, 16 January 2012

All of life redeemed newsletter vol 1 (2)

Kingdom Calling an excerpt

For those not yet convinced they need to get a copy of Amy Sherman's book Kingdom Calling despite my summary/ reviews:

Kingdom Calling Intro
Kingdom Calling Part 1
Kingdom Calling Part 2 
Kingdom Calling Part 3 

 Here's an excerpt: Kingdom Calling by Amy Sherman

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Allof life redeemed - Asia

All of life redeemed now has a new sister: an Austro-Asia site: All of life redeemed - Asia.

This website is a project by Christians in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. It is a sister site to and shares the same perspective: that Christ is Lord of the whole of life, of the whole cosmos, and that His followers are called to diligent discipleship in everything that they do, recognising the Lordship of Christ in everything.

Kingdom Calling - Part 3 ch 9-13

Kingdom Calling:
Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good
Amy L. Sherman

Part Three: Pathways of Vocational Stewardship

We often hear sermons on Joseph, Nehemiah and Daniel in church. Usually the theme is on leadership - and most often the hidden message is that it is leadership in church-related activities. What seems to be forgotten is that Joseph worked as second in command in Egypt, Daniel in the Babylonian court and Nehemiah built the city walls. The contemporary equivalents certainly wouldn't only be church leaders. Such an approach leaves those in the 'pew' feeling disenfranchised. No wonder many Christians think that to serve God in 'full-time Christian ministry' they have to go 'into the church'.

Sherman here provides us myriad of examples of contemporary Josephs, Nehemiahs and Daniels. All of them are local church based but kingdom oriented. The kingdom is so much more than the church.

In Part Three Sherman takes a look at 'Pathways of vocational stewardship'. She identifies four pathways: bloom, donate, invent and invest. Pathway 1 involves blooming where you are planted - promoting the kingdom in and through our daily work. Pathway 2 is donating - volunteering our talents and skills to projects outside of our daily work. Pathway 3, inventing, is to launch a new enterprise. And pathway 4 - investing - looks at participating in an intensive initiative.

Each of these approaches are examined. Excellent examples as well as possible temptations or weaknesses of the approaches come under scrutiny. As I've mentioned before one of the strengths of the book is the way it integrated theory with praxis, the stories of the wide range of projects help that. They provide an excellent source of inspiration and ideas. Lessons are drawn out from each of the projects described as well as some of the problems.

One appendix provides a list of fifty different vocations illustrated, everything from agriculture to veterinary medicine, through astrophysics and real estate development. This gives some idea of the range and scope of the book. Other appendices highglight twelve key theological themes undergirding vocational stewardship and another has a short discussionguide for small grpups. There are twenty-four pages of end notes, but sadly no bibliography.

I have a dream that one day the body of Christ will rise up and live its kingdom calling. Where vicar and vet are equally seen as full-time Christian ministers. Where pastor and pet food salesman are seen as equally vaild callings. Where dualism and false ideas of spirituality have been exposed. Where discipleship is seen as much more than what we do in our free time.

Books like Kingdom Calling can help make that dream a reality. It will be essential reading for all those in full-time Christian ministry - whether that is sweeping the road, designing and building housing, or running a congregation or a corporation.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Resources for a neo-Calvinist approach to the physical sciences

The resources listed here are only those written from a neo-Calvinist/ Kuyperian perspective.

Philosophia Reformata articles can be accessed from here (from 1947-1992) and here (from 1993)

Steve Bishop
1993. Science and faith: boa constructors and warthogs Themelios 19(1), 4-9. (PDF)
1993. with J. Carpenter 'Constructivism: an introduction and critique' Spectrum 25(2), 147-158.
1994. Introductory resource for the interaction of science and Christianity Themelios 19(1), 16-20.
1995. with J Carpenter 'Process science?' Spectrum 27 (1).
1998. The Relationship of Science and Religion: A Study of the Writings of Revd Dr John Polkinghorne, FRS MA Applied Theology Dissertation Trinity College, Bristol. DOC.
2000. 'A typology for science and religion' Evangelical Quarterly  (PDF)

W. Brouwer 1977. 'Christian commitment and scientific theories', Toronto: ICS (mimeo)

Roy Clouser
2009. "A New Philosophical Guide for the Sciences: Ontology Without Reduction" The Global Spiral (Journal of the Metanexus Institute) Vol. 1
2008. Is belief in God made obsolete by science?
2006. Prospects for Theistic Science. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, March

Halvorson, Hans. Comments on Clouser Claims for Theistic Science, PSCF 58:1.
Le Morvan, Pierre. Clouser's Definition of Religious Belief Itself Religiously Neutral PSCF 58:1
Ratzsch, Del. On Reducing Nearly Everything to Reductionism,PSCF 58: 1
Clouser, Roy Replies to the Comments of Le Morvan, Halvorson, and Ratzsch on Prospects for Theistic Science
Clouser, Roy. Author's Reply to Two Letters Regarding Prospects for Theistic Science (PSCF 58, no. 1 [2006]: 2-15; PSCF 58, no. 3 [2006]: 253-4; and PSCF 58, no. 3 [2006]: 254-5), 58:4, 333, D 2006.
2005 (rev edn). 'Theories in Physics' The Myth of Religious Neutrality, University of Notre Dame press, ch 8.
1995. The Uniqueness of Dooyeweerd's Program for Philosophy and Science: Whence the Difference? In Christian Philosophy at the Close of the 20th Century, Ed. Griffoen & Balk, Netherlands: Kampen, Kok, 113-125.
1996. A Sketch of Dooyeweerd's Philosophy of Science. In Facets of Faith and Science, Ed. J. Van der Meer, Lanham: University Press of America, vol. 2, 81-98. 

Renato Coletto
2007. Presuppositions and the challenge to objectivity in late-modern philosophy of science: causes and possible remedies. Koers, 72(4), 583-602.
2007. Science and belief: a few historical remarks from a reformational point of view. Woord en daad/ Word and action, 47(1/autumn, n. 399), 12-16.
2008. The “eclipse” of the object of research in late-modern philosophy of science: causes and possible remedies. Tydskrif vir christelike wetenskap/ Journal for Christian Scholarship, 44(1-2), 19-38.
2011. Science and non-science: the search for a demarcation criterion in the 20th century. Tydskrifvir christelike wetenskap/ Journal for Christian Scholarship

Herman Dooyeweerd 1954. The Secularization of Science, Memphis: Christian Studies Center (translated by R Knudsen) (PDF)
J H Diemer 1933. 'Christ and modern natural scienceCalvinistische Studenten Bladen, Vol. 2, (1933) no 3-8; Vol.3, (1933) no. 2-3.

Edward Fackerell 2008. "Designer Universe?" Issues  82 (March)    

E. L. Hebden Taylor 1968. The Reformation and the development of modern science'. Churchman vol 82 (2), 87-103.

Arthur Jones (ed.) 1998. Science in Faith: A Christian Perspective on Teaching Science, Christian Schools' Trust.

Reijer Hooykaas. 1972. Religion and the Rise of Modern Science, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Robert Knudsen
1954. ‘The Idea of Christian Scientific Endeavor in the Thought of Herman Dooyeweerd.Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, VI (2) (June), 8–12.
1957. ‘Crisis of Science.’ Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 9(2) (June, 1957), 19–20.
1979. ‘Dooyeweerd’s Doctrine of Science.’ Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, XXXI, No 4 (December), 209–213.
Thomas H. Leith
1985. 'Faith and scientific theory' Toronto: ICS, 1985 (mimeo)
1958. Some Thoughts on a Christian Philosophy of Science JASA 10.2:14-16 (6/1958)
1967. Leith's Law JASA 19 (2), 62-63 (6/1967)
1972. Notes on the Predispositions of Scientific Thought and Practice JASA 24.2:51-57 (6/1972)
1973.Galileo and the Church: Tensions with a Message for Today, Part I JASA 25.1:21-24 (3/1973)
1973. Galileo and the Church: Tensions with a Message for Today, JASA 25.2:64-66 (6/1973)
1973.      Galileo and the Church: Tensions with a Message for Today, Part 3 JASA 25.3:111-113 (9/1973)
1973.Galileo and the Church: Tensions with a Message for Today, Part 4 JASA 25.4:154-157 (12/1973)
1980.      Explanation, Testability, and the Theory of Evolution Part II JASA 32.3:156-163 (9/1980)
1959.  The Need for an Evangelical Philosophy of Science JASA 11.4:3-13 (12/1959)
1964 Modern Scientific Cosmogonies JASA 16.3:73-81 (9/1964)
1965 Some Presuppositions in the Philosophy of Science JASA 17.1:8-15 (3/1965)
1965. Some Logical Problems with the Thesis of Apparent Age JASA 17.4:118-122 (12/1965)
1966. re. 'Some Logical Problems with the Thesis of Apparent Age' JASA 18.2:63-63 (6/1966)
1980.  Explanation, Testability, and the Theory of Evolution (Part 1) JASA 32.1:13-18 (3/1980)

Russell W. Maatman

1974. 'The antithesis in physical science', Pro Rege vol. 3 (Dec), 6-9. 
1977. The Unity in Creation JASA 29 (2), 52-55 
1978. Unity in Creation, Dordt College Press
1985. Chemistry a Gift from God, Dordt College Press
1994. The Galileo Incident PSCF 46 (3),179-182 
1996.  Chemistry, a gift of God PSCF 38 (4), 232-236

Russell W. Maatman and Gerald Bakker 1971, 'Contrasting teaching approaches to the sciences' ed. Donald Oppewal A Calvin College Monograph html version

Pamela McKenzie (ed.) 1997. 'Science' in Entry Points for Christian Reflection within Education London: Care for Education,  ch 8.

Tim Morris and Don Petcher 2006.  Science and Grace: God's Reign in the Natural Sciences. Crossway. My review here

Fredrika G. Oosterhoff 2002.  "Faith and Science in the Reformed Tradition" Clarion, v. 51 (4), 84-87

Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton 1994.  The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy, Crossway Books.

Donald  Petcher
2000. Toward a Covenant Theology of Science (pdf)
1996.  “The interplay between science and belief: A case study in modern physics”, in J.M. van der Meer, ed., Facets of Faith and Science. Volume 2: The Role of Beliefs in Mathematics and the Natural Sciences: An Augustinian Perspective, Lanham: The Pascal Centre for Advanced Studies in Faith and Science/University Press of America, 257-70.

Vern Poythress 2006. Redeeming Science: God-Centred Approach,  Crossway  [PDF]

Del Ratzsch
2000. Science and Its Limits: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective. 2nd ed. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
2010. "The Nature of Science: past and present conceptions" (pp. 39-58), "The Religious Roots of Science: what science owes to theology" (pp. 59-82), and "The Alleged Demise of Religion: greatly exaggerated reports from the science-religion 'wars'" (pp. 83-107), in Melville Y. Stewart (Eds.), Science and Religion in Dialogue (Blackwell, 2010).
2009. "Science and Religion," Chapter 3, pp. 54-77 in Flint, Thomas and Rea, Michael (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology (NY: Oxford, 2009).
1992. "Abraham Kuyper's Philosophy of Science". Calvin Theological Journal. 27:

Martin A. Rice Jr. 2000. What is a science? in Contemporary Reflections on the Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd ed. D. F. M. Strauss and M. Botting, Edwin Mellen Press.

Arnold Sikkema

1998. Review of M.D. Stafleu, Time and Again: A Systematic Analysis of the Foundations of Physics (Wedge Publishing Foundation, 1980), written in 1998, and unpublished except on the internet
2001. "Death of the Watchmaker: Modern Science and the Providence of God", Chapter 5 (pp. 97-108) of Hans Boersma, ed., Living in the LambLight: Christianity and Contemporary Challenges to the Gospel (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2001) (available online here).
2001. "Science: A Cultural Activity", Reformed Perspective 20:3 (January 2001) 28-9 (available online here). 
2002. "Grounds for Optimism about Science", Pro Rege 30:4 (June 2002) 18-19 (available online here or here
2005. A physicist's reformed critique of nonreductive physicalism and emergence Pro Rege vol. 33 (June), 20-32. 
2007.  'Laws of nature and God's world for creation' Fideles 2 (2007) pp.27-43
2009. "Chaos Theory", entry in Heidi A. Campbell and Heather Looy, eds., A Science and Religion Primer (Baker Academic, 2009), pp. 59-60.
2009."Quantum Theory", entry in Heidi A. Campbell and Heather Looy, eds., A Science and Religion Primer (Baker Academic, 2009), pp. 183-185. 
2011. "Nuancing the place and purpose of the physical aspect in biology and emergence", International Journal of Multi Aspectual Practice, v. 1 (May 2011), pp. 29-39.

Danie. F. M. Strauss
1995. The Significance of Dooyeweerd's Philosophy for the Modern Natural Sciences, in: Christian Philosophy at the Close of the Twentieth Century, Assessment and Perspective, eds. S. Griffioen & Balk, M., Publisher Kok Kampen, 1995 (ISBN 90-242-2305-9), (pp.127-138).
2001. Does it make sense to distinguish between the natural sciences and the humanities? in: Journal for Christian Scholarship, Year 37, 1ste en 2nd Quarter, 2001, pp.25-36.
2001. The Effect of Ultimate Commitments on the Content of the Natural Sciences – with special Reference to Biology as a Discipline, in: Journal for Christian Scholarship, Year 37, 3de en 4th Quarter, 2001, pp.89-105.
2001. Paradigms in Mathematics, Physics and Biology their Philosophical Roots (Bloemfontein: Tekskor BK, 2001) 
2004. Christianity and Islam – the development of modern science and the genesis of the modern (just) state. Acta Theologica. Volume 24, No.1, June 2004, pp.168-185.
Are the Natural Sciences Free from Philosophical Presuppositions? Philosophia Reformata, Year 46, nr.1 (pp.1-13).
2009. Philosophy: Discipline of the Disciplines (Grand Rapids: Paiedia Press, 2009)

M.D. Stafleu
1966. 'Quantum physics and the philosophy of the cosmonomic idea' (translated by H. Kiefte from 'Quantumfysica en wijsbegeerte der wetsidee' Philosophia Reformata 31 (1966) 126
1970. ‘Analysis of time in modern physics’, Philosophia Reformata 35: 1-24, 119-131.
1972. ‘Metric and measurement in physics’, Philosophia Reformata 37: 42-57.
1978. ‘The mathematical and technical opening up of a field of science’, Philosophia Reformata 43: 18-37.
1979. ‘The isolation of a field of science’, Philosophia Reformata 44: 1-15.
1980. ‘The opening up of a field of science by abstraction and synthesis’, Philosophia Reformata 45: 47-76.
1980. Time and again, A systematic analysis of the foundations of physics, Toronto: Wedge; Bloemfontein: Sacum. [chapter 1]
1981. ‘Theories as logically qualified artefacts I’, Philosophia Reformata 46: 164-189.
1982. ‘Theories as logically qualified artefacts II’, Philosophia Reformata 47: 20-40.
1983. ‘Kritische studie: Popper's Postscript (I)’, Philosophia Reformata 48: 50-65.
1984. ‘Kritische studie: Popper's Postscript (II)’, Philosophia Reformata 49: 71-91.
1984. ‘The kind of motion we call heat’, Tydskrif vir christelike wetenskap 20: 1-43.
1985. ‘Spatial things and kinematic events (On the reality of mathematically qualified structures of individuality)’, Philosophia Reformata 50: 9-20.
1986. ‘Some problems of time - some facts of life’, Philosophia Reformata 51: 67-82.
1987. Theories at work, On the structure and functioning of theories in science, in particular during the Copernican revolution, Lanham, New York, London: University Press of America.
1988, ‘Criteria for a law sphere (with special emphasis on the ‘psychic’ modal aspect)’, Philosophia Reformata 53: 171-186.
1991. ‘Being human in the cosmos’, Philosophia Reformata 56: 101-131.  
1995, ‘The cosmochronological idea in natural science’, in: S. Griffioen, B.M. Balk (eds.), Christian philosophy at the close of the twentieth century, Kampen: Kok, 93-111.
2001. A World full of Relations
2006. Relations and Characters in Protestant Philosophy  

Wytse Van Dijk 1977. 'Certainty and chance in the physical sciences', Pro Rege vol. 5 (June), 9-16.

H. van den Laan 1966. A Christian Appreciation of Physical Science Christian Perspectives 1966 (ARSS, 1966)

Robert vander Vennen nd.  'Reflections on Christianity and chemistry'Toronto: ICS, nd (mimeo)

Hendrik Van Riessen
1960. The Relation of the Bible to Science Christian Perspectives 1960 Pella Publishing: Pella, Iowa, 3-54.
1973. "Science Between Presuppositions and Decisions". Philosophia Reformata 38, 114-126.
1966. The Christian Approach to Science, Hamilton, Association for Reformed Scientific Studies.

John Zwart 2009. "Science and John Calvin: A Review Essay", Pro Rege 38 (1),  27-31 - link blog alt

Reformed Academic

Lydia Jaeger's website [HT Arnold Sikkema]

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Vocational discipleship/ stewardship resources: books on work and vocation

       Tom Nelson Work Matters  my review here
       Daryl Cosden The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work
       Lee Hardy The Fabric of This World
       Gene Veith God at Work
       Mark Greene Thank God It's Monday
       Stephen Nichols What is Vocation? my review here
       Douglas Schuurman Vocation after Christendom
       Miroslav Volf  Work in the Spirit: Toward a Theory of Work
       Paul Marshall (ed.)  Labour of Love: Essays on Work   pdf available here
       R. Paul Stevens The Other Six Days
       Amy L. Sherman Kingdom Calling my review/ summary here, here, here and here

Monday, 9 January 2012

Vocational discipleship/ stewardship resources: bibliographies

In the past I have complied a number of bibliographies/ resources for Christian approaches to various areas. These include:
Other resources are available on the further information page of All of life redeemed.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Vocational discipleship/ stewardship resources: professional groups

NB Inclusion does not imply endorsement!

Primarily UK:

Primarily North American:

Adapted from the lists complied by:   Bruce Edwards;    InterVarsity;   Leader University

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Kingdom Calling - Part 2 ch 5-8

Kingdom Calling
Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good
Amy L. Sherman

Part Two: Discipling for Vocational Stewardship

Chapter 5 on faith and work integration opens Part two with some revealing statistics:
Fewer than 10% of regular churchgoers ... can remember the last time their pastor preached on the topic of work
The Leadership Journal has 152 matches for 'vocation' - 95% of these were on the vocation of the pastorate
The Christian Century only had 9 hits
Discipleship Journal produced 41 - only one of which was about faith and work integration.

Faith and work integration is not on the churches agenda it seems. And yet there are over 600 books on the topic - at least according to The Marketplace Annotated Bibliography by Pete Hammond, R. Paul Stevens and Todd Svanoe (2002).

Sherman draws upon David Miller's research in God at Work (2007). Miller identifies four approaches/ quadrants to work and faith 'integration: 

Each approach has its strengths, but the best approach is one that adopts all four - the everywhere integrator. Sherman and her researchers looked at 15 marketplace ministries to see how many of them adopt an integrator approach.

The ministeries examined were:

They found that none of them fit into quadrant 4 and none reflected the integrator approach.
It is obvious that much work is to be done!

Chapter 6 opens with an illustration from Doug Spada - the church needs to be an aircraft carrier not a cruise ship: 

What is missing is the teaching of a biblical theology of work coming from the pulpit. We need to hear that work is not a result of the fall.

Sherman lists several labours that God is involved in: redemptive, creative, providential, justice, compassionate and revelatory. She maintains that  pastors can 'explain the ways in which God is a worker, and then encourage their congreants to identify where their own labors fit'.  She then examines some false ideas about work.

Chapter 7 looks at approaches that have been used to help congregations discover their gifting. She makes some good comments about the weakness of many of the 'tools'. The main one being is that they are primarily designed to help people serve the church.

Chapter 8 examines the characteristics of vocational stewards: servanthood, responsibility, courage,humility and being prepared to share power. Again the theoretical underpinnings are illustrated with excellent examples from the workplace of people who exhibit these important characteristics.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Kingdom Calling - Part 1 Ch 1-4.

Kingdom Calling
Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good

Amy L. Sherman

Part One takes a look at the tsaddiqm introduced in the introduction.

Imagine a building company. A company that doesn't lay staff off through the boom and bust cycles that most building businesses go through. A company that has integrity - they would never knowingly lie to anyone. A company that has a servant-style management style. A company that treats its employees compassionately. A company that builds large pavements/ sidewalks, large common spaces and large front porches on the houses it builds. A company that builds energy-efficient houses. A company that offers a diverse range of houses with prices ranging from $150 000 - $350 000, where singles, retireds and families can live in community. Such a company would certainly bless the city. Such is a tsaddiqm company - one such company was founded by Perry Bigelow of Bigelow Homes of Chicago.  

This is one of the many illustrations that Sherman provides. This is no mere theory book. It is full of practical examples of ways in which Christians have made a difference, ways in which they have demonstrated being tsaddiq.

Chapter 1 opens by looking at what a rejoiced city might look like. To do this she examines the concepts of justice and shalom. These both involve a number of relationships - they include peace with God, self, others and the creation. She looks at a number of 'preview passages', passages which hint of the not yet of the kingdom been manifested in the now.

I would have liked to have seen the concept of the 'now' and the 'not yet' of the kingdom unpacked a little more and some discussion on the nature of the kingdom;  can we bring in or extend, advance or establish the kingdom?

Chapter 2 examines 'the righteous' and what they might look like. She uses three directions to help see the different aspects: Up, in and out. Up is the vertical dimension of righteousness, our worship and dependence upon God; in, the internal personal holiness; and out, the emphasis on social justice. All three are necessary and important.

Chapter 3 focuses on reasons why we fall short of this tsaddiqm. She sees the main culprit as being a narrow gospel. She takes to task the bridge diagram portrayal of the gospel as being illustrative of this. The emphasis is on 'me and Jesus' being in a right relationship.

This is obviously true, but it is not the whole truth of the gospel. Another symptom she sees is the banal contemporary Christian music (CCM) which promotes 'fortification' rather than 'engagement'.  Inadequate discipleship and inadequate views of heaven are also to blame. To these I'd also want to add that the lack of a Christian worldview, which means that Gnostic and dualistic tendencies have been inherited without thought from the Greeks.

The final chapter in part 1 attempts to address some of the deficiencies. She uses James Chong's four circles as a better illustration of the gospel than the bridge illustration.

It is by grasping the full implications and import of the gospel of the kingdom that we can 'partner with God in his work of restoring all things' (p. 87).

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Calvin and the Body by Alida Sewell

Calvin and the Body
An Inquiry into his Anthropology
Alida Leni Sewell
VU University Press, 2011
ISBN 978 90 8659 587 7
viii + 269pp; pbk

This doctoral dissertation from Dr Alida Sewell:

 addresses Calvin's view of the human body as it comes to expression in his writings and sermons. After situating Calvin in the context of his education and culture, particular attention is paid to his frequent use of the metaphor of the body being the 'prison of the soul.' In all, 91 occurrences of his use of the metaphor are documented in chronological order in the Appendix. The possibility of direct or indirect Platonic influences is examined, as well as the eschatological meaning that Calvin assigns to the metaphor. Contemporaneous medical theories are explained and it is shown how Calvin appropriated them in his theology and general writings. The state of Calvin's own bodily health is discussed, mainly with reference to his correspondence. Attention is also paid to his attitude to death, dying, and burial. An important aspect of his theological anthropology is his teaching on the image of God in humankind, which is examined with respect to both men and women. The subsequent chapters deal with his views on marriage and childbirth, sexuality and gender, and nakedness and shame. For the present-day reader these reveal some surprising as well as disappointing views that Calvin held. However, in the context of his time they were not extreme, and some were in advance of his time. In the final chapters a more theological appraisal is given of Calvin's views as they were presented in the previous chapters and conclusions are presented. 
This is an important work and will be of intrest not only to Calvin scholars but all those interested in gender, marriage, nakedness and the body (that should include all of us!).

Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Context, Culture, and Education
Chapter Three: Calvin's Use of the Prison Metaphor
Chapter Four: Calvin's Adoption of Current Medical Theories and His Experience and Perception of His Own Physical Self
Chapter Five: The Image of God
Chapter Six: Marriage in Theory and Practice
Chapter Seven: Sexuality and Gender
Chapter Eight: Nakedness and Shame
Chapter Nine: The Body at Creation, after the Fall, and at the Resurrection
Chapter Ten: Conclusions
Calvijn en het lichaam: een onderzoek naar zijn antropologie