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 July 2006

Peter Jones on Gnosticism

Peter Jones, of CWIPP, was interviewed in World Magazine regarding the gnostic roots of of the DaVinci Code here. He defines gnosticism thus:
Gnosticism is formed from the Greek term gnosis meaning knowledge, but it means here a particular form of knowledge, namely "spiritual experience." Like all pagan spirituality, so-called "Christian" Gnosticism engages in "sacred technologies" to access the higher, spiritual self, the self that is part of God.

In this essentially out-of-body experience, all physical and this-worldly restraints, like rational thinking and a sense of specific gender, fall away. In a word, the experience of "enlightenment" is both the rejection of the goodness of the physical creation and an acquisition of the knowledge of the divinity of the human soul.

This sounds very much like the sort of stuff advocated by the DVD I listened to mentioned in a previous post. Though I have to say that the gnostic conception of god is very different to the more orthodox view of God portrayed by the speaker.

Thursday 27 July 2006

An image of gnosticism

This picture illustrates the gnostic need to get out of the 'natural' and into the 'supernatural'.

The gnostic worldview

Since watching a DVD from Toronto Airport Church, I've been thinking how much gnosticism has seeped into the church.  There is no doubt that the person on the video I watched has been used by God and yet his theology is infused with some aspects of gnosticism.

Below are some of my initial thoughts on what constitutes a gnostic worldview.

What is God like?

There are two gods a false creator god (demiurge) and the true god (pleroma); they are fighting for supremacy.

What is reality?

Reality is dualistic: everything is spiritual - our true self – and everything is material - foul and evil. 

What does it mean to be human?

We are strangers living in a flawed world.  We are part material (made by the demiurge) and part spiritual (a fragment of the true divine essence: a "divine spark").  We are largely ignorant of this divine spark within us.  Death releases us from the prison of the material body.  If there has not been a substantial work of gnosis by the soul than the divine spark will be hurled back and embodied into the physical world again.

There are two classes of human: the pneumatics and the hyletics.  The pneumatics are ready for liberation; the hylectics recognise only the physical reality and they mistake the demiurge for the one true god.

What is wrong with the world?

Metaphysical alienation: the world is flawed because it was created in a flawed manner; the fault is the creator's.  It is the product of a lesser god who was unable to create a world of permanence.  Humans need to be freed from this world of pain, suffering and death, freed from this material existence.  The problem is that we are ignorant of the divine spark within us.

What's the remedy?

Deep within humans is a divine spark that connects us with the true god, who is hidden from creation.  Our only hope is to acquire the information we need to perfect ourselves and evolve out of our current physical state.  Jesus descended from the spiritual realm to make available the knowedge (gnosis) necessary for self-perfection.

Vallentius :
“the human mind lives in a largely self-created world of illusion from whence only the enlightenment of a kind of Gnosis can rescue it.”

Our bodies and souls are part of this corrupt, flawed creation; redemption is only for the spirit. 

Wednesday 26 July 2006

God and Caesar: a question

In Mt 22:15ff, Mk 12:13ff and Lk 20:20ff the Pharisees and Herodians come to Jesus in an attempt to catch him out by asking him 'Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?' Jesus responds by asking them to show him a coin with Caesar's image on it and he answers:
'Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's'.
I was wondering what people understood by this phrase of Jesus'. Answers in the comments, if you dare, please!

Tuesday 25 July 2006

Baroness Warnock answers questions

The Independent has Baroness Mary Warnock answering a series of questions from readers.  She respnds to questions like: is there a God?  What proof do I have of my own existence?  is it ever right to kill innocents in war? What happens when we die? and Do you like being described as Britain's philosopher queen?

Luther and Dylan

In a recent <thinknet> post, Roy Clouser wrote, quoting Luther:
Faith and trust of the heart make both God or an idol. If your faith is right you have the true God, if not you have an idol. But whatever your heart clings and entrusts itself to is, I say, really your God. (Commentary on the 1st commandment)
And in another place, in more typically Luther-fashion he put it: Man is like a jackass; somebody always rides his back and it's either God or the Devil.
This reminds me of St Bob:
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Saturday 22 July 2006

H. Evan Runner blog

There is a new blog devoted to the life and work of H. Evan Runner.  At present there are notes from a series of lectures that Runner gave in the 1980s, a review of Dooyeweerd's NCTT by Runner, numerous weblinks and a review by Rushdoony on a previous incarnation of Runner's book The Relation of the bible to Learning.

Friday 21 July 2006

Dialogue and Antithesis

Yong-Joon Choi's dissertation on Dooyeweerd Dialogue and Anthithesis - available from the CSU here - has now been published by The Hermit Kingdom Press.

It is also available on-line on Andrew Basden's Dooyeweerd pages: here.

Rev. Dr. Yong-Joon Choi is the Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the Vancouver Institute for Evangelical Worldview and the Senior Pastor of Hanbit Korean Church in Cologne, Germany. Rev. Dr. Choi received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Potchefstroom University in South Africa and holds the Doctorandus degree in Philosophy from the Free University of Amsterdam, the M.Div. degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and B.A. in Sociology from Seoul National University.

Tolle, Blogge - the return

Tolle Blogge (ie Russ Reeves) is back, this time on Wordpress:

This blog began in March, 2002 (originally hosted at Blogspot, though someone is currently squatting on the old url), around the same time as Daily Kos (this blog had a few million fewer hits, though a great deal more wisdom, if I do say so myself - quality over quantity). This is back when it was possible to place all Christian blogs together on one “semi-definitive” list.

The very first post was on Herman Bavinck (on creation, covenant, grace, and gratitude) followed soon after with a eulogy for H. Evan Runner. The blog went on to cover everything from theology to history to politics to baseball. The plan for the future is to focus more narrowly on history, historical theology, and Christian liberal arts education, though the blog, like my mind, may wander. Welcome and thanks for reading.

Evangelicals in the Public Square

Evangelicals in the Public Square is a new book by J. Budzisewski (Baker Book House, 2006). He takes a look at Francis Schaeffer, Abraham Kuyper, Carl F. H. Henry and John Howard Yoder. Experts on the four evngelicals respond to Budzisewski - including John Bolt on Kuyper. Apparently, Budzisewski argues that 'in addition to Scripture, the evangelical political movement should be informed by the tradition of natural law.'

Tuesday 18 July 2006

Myodicy updated

Theo Plantinga has updated his Myodicy pages.  In the latest issue he looks at:

Is the reformational movement losing its sense of itself as a separate stream because of the rise and use of new technologies? Or is verzuiling still alive and well? Click here to read the third installment of Theodore Plantinga's informal history of the reformational movement, in which verzuiling is explored.

Can anything whatsoever be questioned? Or does a community have the right to place certain beliefs beyond the bounds of debate? What is the Dutch Reformed understanding of this issue? Click here to read "It Goes Without Saying: Reflections on Vanzelfsprekendheid."

What did Evan Runner teach his students back in the 1960s? Click here to read the third installment of Theodore Plantinga's notes on Runner's Introduction to Philosophy class.

Mustard Seed in Australia

I have just put up an early article by Keith Sewell from Vanguard May-June 1972: 'Mustard seed in Australia' on the All of life redeemed website. It takes a look at the the reformational movement in Australia in the very early seventies.

Monday 17 July 2006

Two new blogs on the block

RefWrite has yet another blog; this time on wordpress: correspondence refWrite.  At present there are contributions from the <thinknet> discussion group on panentheism.

Jeremy Ive - a thinknetter, a vicar in the CoE and more - has started a blog: Trinitarian  and  Reformational.

Sunday 16 July 2006

A few links

This week's Comment comes from Gideon Strauss: Making the most of college: asking the big questions.

Kenn Hermann returns to blogging after a short break with a review of Roy Clouser's The Myth of Religious Neutrality. I'm resisting the temptation to read it as I am in the process of writing a review of Roy's book too.

Paul Robinson has also returned to blogging after a sojourn in the States - he has posted some links to three great papers - one of which has already appeared on AoLR:
David Koyzis has some great observations on a new book by Stephen J. Grabill Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics - be sure to check out the comments.

Wednesday 12 July 2006

Kate Rusby @ Chepstow Castle

On Saturday we went to see the wonderful Kate Rusby in an open air concert in the grounds of Chepstow Castle - it was an amazing event. Kate's voice is so clear and pure - and she has a wonderful Barnsley accent.

Here's a short clip of her in action from the BBC Radio 2 Folk awards in 2004 (it uses Real Player).

Thursday 6 July 2006

Monty Python and philosophy

Here's a lecture on 'Themes in contemporary analytic philosophy as reflected in the work of Monty Python' by Gary Hardcastle.  Unfortunately, the link to the Bruce's philosopher's song doesn't work there - but this one does (warning - strong language):

Wednesday 5 July 2006

Reconnoitering Dooyeweerd's theory of man

I have just put up a paper on AoLR from Philosophia Reformata by Philip Blosser 'Reconnoitering Dooyeweerd's theory of man'. The pdf is here.

Philip Blosser maintains a blog: 'Musings of a pernicoious papist'. His home page is here.

Saturday 1 July 2006

Imagination, image of God and wisdom of God ... in Dooyeweerd's philosophy

Gennn Friesen has updated his Studies related to Herman Dooyeweerd site with a large paper on 'Imagination, image of God and wisdom of God: theosophical themes in Dooyeweerd's philosophy' (It is also available as a pdf here.)

The Dutch Christian philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) is more relevant today than ever before. Postmodernism is questioning the validity of modernism’s rationalistic and dualistic thought. It attempts to fully temporalize all of humanity’s existence and concerns, and it rejects any role of the transcendent. And in its emphasis on our historical constructs of reality, postmodernism has relativized all values, leaving both our everyday praxis and our theoretical thought without any foundations. Postmodernism is acutely aware of this lack of foundations. A key postmodern theme has been the discovery of what many call a post-critical (or post-liberal) position concerning the possibility of a re-enchantment of life and of the cosmos, based, in part, on a hermeneutics of retrieval. But just what is it that postmodernism is seeking to retrieve? And how do we re-enchant our world after the devastation to the foundations caused by the hermeneutics of suspicion?

I believe that Dooyeweerd’s philosophy, and in particular his ideas of imagination, help us to answer these questions. For Dooyeweerd, our acts of imagination do not only play a role in our aesthetic and artistic creations. Imagination is also fundamental to our act of perceiving the world, and to both our pre-theoretical and our theoretical knowledge. In our acts of imagination, we retrieve the wisdom of the past, a wisdom that reflects God’s Wisdom or Sophia. This is therefore an answer to one problem posed by postmodernism.