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.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

A New Heaven and a New Earth by J. Richard Middleton

A New Heaven and a New Earth
Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology

J. Richard Middleton

Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014
ISBN 978-0801048685
pbk, 336pp, £14.55

Richard Middleton, the co-author of The Transforming Vision and author of The Liberating Image, has produced a fascinating, insightful and brilliant book dealing with eschatology. He wrote it because he saw that the 'time was ripe for a clearly articulated Christian eschatology that is rooted in responsible exegesis of Scripture and also attuned to the theological claims and ethical implications of the Bible's vision of salvation'. He has done exactly that. He clarifies how eschatology is consistent with a holistic worldview. 

We have sadly lost the biblical vision of eschatology. For far too many Christians the aim is to escape the earth and to be in heaven with God, worshiping him - they envisage heaven as an eternal church service. For many Christians who have swallowed this escapist nonsense it will come as a shock to see that this vision of heaven is Platonic rather than biblical. It's not helped, as Middleton points out, by some of the hymns that we sing; for example: Wesley's Love Divine: 'Changed from glory into glory/ till in heaven we take our place' or even the Christmas carol 'Away in a Manger': 'And fit us for heaven to live with thee there'! As Middleton shows this idea of a transcendent non-earthy realm goes back not to the Scriptures but to Plato. 

Middleton draws upon second temple Judaism, Greek philosophers, church fathers, the Apocrypha, the Dead Sea scrolls, Little Red Riding Hood, Reggae music, the film the Princess Bride, Narnia as well as primarily the scriptures to show how this holistic view of eschatology is firmly rooted in the scriptures. When it comes to a biblical view of heaven it seems we have lost the plot, but Middleton by looking at the plot of the biblical story shows us what a more biblical, holistic and integrated eschatology looks like.

In his examination of four key NT texts (Acts 3:17-21; Eph 1:7-10; Col 1:16-20; Rom 8:19-23; 2 Pet 3:10-13) he concludes that salvation is restorative and comprehensive and holistic. It is a repairing of what went wrong and a redeeming of all things - not just our 'souls'. The garden in Genesis 1 is to be fulfilled in Revelation 21-22. He rightly emphasises that 'the human contribution to the the new Jerusalem is not to be downplayed' and that salvation 'does not erase cultural differences'. Heaven is not just an eternal church service or worship meeting! He suggests that cultural development may even need to take place on the new earth. 

Not being afraid of look at the apparently contrary data in scriptures, Middleton examines these in close detail. Several texts suggest a cosmic destruction and other-worldly destiny rather than an holistic renewal - these include the Olivet Discourse, Revelation 6, 2 Peter 3 and Hebrews 12. After a close examination of these passages he concludes 'the Bible envisages nothing less than the eschatological transformation of heaven and earth'; a transformation not an annihilation.

He briefly looks at personal eschatology and concludes that there is little evidence for an intermediate state in the Scriptures.  

The final chapters examine the important question 'So What?' The gospel of the kingdom is good news as it addresses Jesus' hearers with 'full-bodied concrete earthly needs', and it breaks down the opposition between the Jews and gentiles; it is open to the outcasts and outsiders. This perspective is in stark contrast to the new form of dualism Middleton claims is making inroads into the North American church: an in group/ out group dualism. 

He makes an excellent case for the need not to separate eschatology and ethics. The kingdom of God is not the church, or a set of cultural ideas, it is nothing less than 'God's restorative rule over the entire earth'.

The book is extremely well documented - about 25% of it is references and this shows the depth of research Middelton has done and engaged with.

This book is a must-read for all Christians.  


Preface: How I Came to Write This Book
1. Introduction: The Problem of Otherworldly Hope

Part 1: From Creation to Eschaton
2. Why Are We Here? Being Human as Sacred Calling
3. The Plot of the Biblical Story

Part 2: Holistic Salvation in the Old Testament
4. The Exodus as Paradigm of Salvation
5. Earthly Flourishing in Law, Wisdom, and Prophecy
6. The Coming of God in Judgment and Salvation

Part 3: The New Testament's Vision of Cosmic Renewal
7. Resurrection and the Restoration of Rule
8. The Redemption of All Things

Part 4: Problem Texts for Holistic Eschatology
9. Cosmic Destruction at Christ's Return?
10. The Role of Heaven in Biblical Eschatology

Part 5: The Ethics of the Kingdom
11. The Good News at Nazareth
12. The Challenge of the Kingdom
Appendix: Whatever Happened to the New Earth?


All of Life Redeeemed is 10 years old!

It is now ten years since I started the website

Here's what it looked like almost ten years ago, this was before I purchased the domain name and was using

Four new books by Willem J. Ouweneel

Four new books by Willem J. Ouweneel, the Dutch biologist and philosopher, have recently been published by Paideia Press.

They are part of a series called academic introductions for beginners.

Philosophia Reformata to be published by Brill

The journal of the Association for Reformational Philosophy Philosophia Reformata is to be published in the future by Brill.

The bad news is it looks like the, which contained an archive of older issues, is no longer available - I accessed it today to find an advert for a web hosting site.

The good news is that volumes 76-80 are available free (until the end of 2015) from the Brill site.
However, it requires registering and using an access code - details are on the Brill link above.

Much older issues of the journal (volumes 12- 57 (1947-1992)) are to be found here:

Kuyperania January 2015

Koyzis, D. What would Kuyper do? First Things
Takes a look at Kuyper's legacy of sphere sovereignty and principled pluralism in the light of tolerance and idolatry.

Brock, C. Review of James Bratt Abraham Kuyper. Journal of Theological Studies

The review begins:
JAMES BRATTS Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat offers to the Anglophone world an outstanding and long-desired portrait of the nineteenth-century founder of neo-Calvinism. Bratt is a fair, balanced, and careful historian who makes much of Kuyper’s profound contextual insight, unique application of Calvinist theology, and lasting theological and political legacy without hiding Kuyper’s tendency towards sweeping generalization, blind hubris, and glaring defects. Bratt narrates the central tension in Kuyper between ‘the lust for labor and influence, the regimented discipline that made it good, the passion to make his voice heard [and] the insistence on doing things his way and on his schedule’. Kuyper was, perhaps, the most accomplished man in the modern era, who lived a life of endeavours equalling or exceeding those of the most ambitious. According to Bratt, Kuyper ‘authored over twenty thousand newspaper articles, scores of pamphlets, and numerous multivolume treatises. He edited two newspapers … He co-founded a new university, where he also served as professor. He co-founded a new religious 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Colossians by Christopher Seitz

Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible
Christopher R. Seitz
Brazos Press, 2014

ISBN 9781587433016

This is the latest contribution from the Brazos theological series of commentaries. Revd Christopher Seitz, senior research professor of biblical interpretation at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, and OT scholar, was asked to write the commentary on Colossians. The choice of an OT scholar seems a surprising choice, though of course Paul would have been seeped in the Old Testament so this may be an advantage rather than disadvantage.

Seitz rightly sees Colossians as a coherent part of the Pauline corpus, as a stable collection, and as part of the canon of Scripture, and not as an isolated single letter of Paul. Colossians is viewed as a letter written to 'correct and shepherd a flock, yet one he does not have first hand knowledge of and has never visited'. He sees Colossians as containing Paul's mature theological reflections on his vocation as an apostle, an apostleship that has developed from being a church planter.

As the series subtitle suggests the emphasis is on the theological rather than historical, exegetical or philological. In particular Seitz pays special attention to Paul's use of the Old Testament. He contributes his own translation - interspersed in bold with the commentary. There are a number of valuable 'Excurses' within the text - these have a different typeface so they stand apart. These include discussions on the phrase 'By the will of God', 'Prison apostleship and fellowship', 'The knowledge of God', an extended on on 'The transition to Colossians 1:15-20', 'Brief theological postscript', 'Garmenting the New Adam in Christ', and 'The finale and the question of Paul as author'.

An appendix provides a free translation and amplification of the text.

This might not be the first commentary I'd go to when looking at Colossians, that would usually be Tom Wright's IVP commentary, but I would certainly want to consult it if preaching from Colossians. Seitz's commentary with its distinct emphases provides a good complement to Wright, Bruce, Moo and O'Brien.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Vollenhoven Foundation Website

The Vollenhoven Foundation has a webiste: 

On it there is information about Rob Nijhof's recently defended PhD thesis on "The logos philosophy Jan Woltjer" and an English translation by Harry van Dyke of a memoriam to Tony Tol.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Kuyperania December 2014

As previously mentioned:The second and third parts of Kuyper's Common Grace have now been translated and published by Christian's Library Press:


Part 2 details here    Part 3 details here

John Halsey Wood Jr reviews James Bratt's Abraham Kuyper biography.

Hunter Baker reviews the recently translated Scholarship.

Kuyper's 'Liberalists and Jews' from 1878 has been translated by Dr. Jann Schlebusch and is available on line here.

Grönum, N.J. and Janse van Rensburg, F., 2014, ‘Abraham Kuyper's Christian science and empirical science – different yet similar: An investigation into epistemological structures ’, In die Skriflig 48(1), Art. #1786, 8 pages. Online here.
Abstract. Abraham Kuyper wanted his fellow countrymen to accept biblically informed academic output as scientific and therefore authoritative. If Kuyper's plans were to come to fruition, he would have to state the case for a Christian science in a way that made sense to an audience enamoured with empirical science. Kuyper did this when he adopted foundationalism as epistemological thought structure, just like empirical scientists did. He did also differ from empirical science in the sense that he took faith as the foundation for his epistemological thought structure. Although Kuyper's choice for faith as foundation gave him the opportunity to introduce the Bible to scientific endeavour, his acceptance of foundationalism resulted in him dehumanising knowledge the same way empiricist scientist's did.