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.

Monday, 31 December 2007

(Re)thinking worldview 9

The next part is devoted to ‘Witness’. Chapter 9 kicks this section of by looking at ‘Engagement and beyond’. The term witness conjures up so many different ideas and methods. Not all of them culturally appropriate. Bertrand wants to go beyond method: ‘it’s not a method or technique’ (p. 182). He draws the distinction between being a witness – having the information - and bearing witness – sharing the information.

He wants us to move from being consumers of to being contributors to culture via being self-conscious about culture and being a critic of culture. This process follows along similar lines of this book from worldview through wisdom to witness.

Inspiration and Incarnation

Peter Enns's book Inspiration and Incarnation is causing some ripples: here is Paul Helm's review and Enns' response.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

(Re)thinking worldview 8

The final chapter of part 2 is ‘Learning to read’. By this Bertrand means reading to read critically. He cites two common errors in reading; we are largely undiscriminating and undemanding in what we do read. Though he argues that critical reading does not necessarily mean sucking the joy form life. It actually enhances our enjoyment of reading. Though it may mean that we find ‘that some fare is no loner palatable’. Critical reading means that we need to discern the author’s worldview and be aware of any worldview manipulation that the author is engage in. These worldviews can exert a negative impact upon us if we are unaware of them but if there presence is discerned ‘the treat is largely neutralized’ (p. 173)

He draws upon the advice of Leyland Ryken in Windows to the World and applies Ryken’s points to a brief analysis of Jude the Obscure and London’s Cry of the Wild two books where the authors’ worldviews are easily discerned. It would have been good to have these points applied to a text with less obvious worldview overtones.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

(Re)thinking worldview 7

In chapter 7 ‘A city without walls’ Bertrand use the battle of Constantinople in 1453 as a metaphor for the Christian warfare. In May 1543 Constantinople fell to the Turks after a long hard fought battle. The 5,000 in Constantinople were very much outnumbered by the 80-100, 000 aggressors. Analysing their strategies and errors will help us.

The first lesson is: take responsibility for your walls. The virtue is: personal responsibility. Here Bertrand steers a much-needed clear course between personal autonomy and over-reliance on spiritual mentors:
Treat spiritual advice as you would a movie review. Draw upon the wisdom of others to form your own judgments – but form your own judgments (p 150).

In this section he also deals with discernment and makes an interesting distinction between engagers and discerners. The table summarises his views:

Getting involved with culture

Looking for ways to appreciate culture

Measuring cultural expressions against Christian norms

Looking for ways in which to screen books and films for objectionable or uplifting content

Look for something good

Give more space to fiction
Trying to protect from something bad

More interested in testing the spirit of non-fiction

WeaknessesMay end up christening some questionable stuffMay flip the baby out with the bathwater

This is an interesting distinction but as Bertrand acknowledges, we all in some sense do both, but tend to gravitate to one or the other. I would want to say that both are important and that we need to engage with discernment.

His second lesson is that we should constantly repair the walls; the accompanying virtue is self-control. This sounds a little dull, but Bertrand describes self control as ‘stewardship of the passions’. If we see it in this light then self-control can become sexy!

Lesson three is ‘guard your foundations’. We need to have a worldview awareness and cease to be a passive receptor of others’ influences.

Plan for unexpected attacks – is lesson four. We can do this by being flexible:
… our confidence must be based not on circumstances (which change) but on the Lord of the circumstance (p 160).

The fifth and final lesson is ‘remember to close the gate’. An unclosed gate was the eventual downfall of Constantinople. Care is required at all times.

Bertrand concludes this chapter thus:
The defense of Constantinople was unsuccessful. By cultivating the virtues of personal responsibility, self-control, worldview awareness, flexibility and care, perhaps the battle for our own minds will yield a far happier result (p. 163)

Friday, 28 December 2007

Odds and sods

  • Pagan Christianity has been revised and expanded - see my review of the original edition here. Update Tom Gilson reviews the new edition here.
  • Reforming My Mind has an extensive list of mp3 sermons on that over-neglected book Ecclesiastes.
  • Peter Enns, of WTS, is now blogging [HT sets 'n' service]
  • Rudi, at Intermezzo, has a list of sphere sovereignty articles available on-line here.
  • Tyndale Tech is now available as a blog - much good stuff here.

Review of Schaeffer's Escape from Reason

This review appeared in Perspectives of Science and Christian Faith 59 (3) (Sept 2007): 239.

ESCAPE FROM REASON: A Penetrating Analysis of Trends in Modern Thought by Francis A. Schaeffer. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2006. 123 pages. Paperback; $8.00. ISBN: 10: 0 8308 3405 2.

Schaeffer is incredibly difficult to pin down. He has been described as a (compassionate, inconsistent and modified) presuppositionalist , an inconsistent empiricist and a verificationist– this is, I suspect, because he is more an evangelist and apologist than an academic philosopher. Schaeffer's books have been incredibly influential, not least his trilogy of which Escape from Reason (EfR) is the second part – the first being The God Who is There and the final part He is There and He is not Silent. EfR is the shortest of the two and has sometimes been mistaken for the introduction to the trilogy.

Reading Schaeffer is a bitter sweet experience. I rejoice at his desire to see the lordship of Christ expressed over every area of life, but get frustrated at his broad brush strokes that often over-simplify. Schaeffer is rarely subtle!

The villain of this piece is Aquinas. It’s perhaps an understatement to say that Schaeffer is a little hard on Aquinas; a better Reformed analysis of Aquinas is found in Arvin Vos’s Aquinas, Calvin, and Contemporary Protestant Thought. Nevertheless, Schaeffer does highlight the problems scholastic dualism has caused Christianity.

He sees the most crucial problem facing Christians today as being rooted in the Middle Ages and in Aquinas in particular. It was Aquinas that opened the way for autonomous rationality. According to Schaeffer, Aquinas claimed that the human will but not human intellect is fallen. This assumption, once popularised, provided the fertile soil for the belief that humans could become independent, autonomous.

In EfR Schaeffer he examines the relationship between ‘grace’ and ‘nature’. He argues that nature has slowly been ‘eating up’ grace. Yet a ‘line’ or ‘gap’ exists between the supposed upper realm of grace and the lower realm of nature. Western society has gone below this line and it has led to despair. This despair is revealed first in philosophy; subsequently, it spreads to art, then music and general culture, before reaching theology.

Schaeffer had a way of communicating Christianity to modern culture – we need more like him today. He awoke his generation to the presence of secular humanism and showed that it was possible to think and be a Christian at the same time. This book provides an excellent introduction to his ideas, though it shows its origin in the lecture format: there are few footnotes and references. His analysis is often derivative of the Dutch Christian philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd. Schaeffer's close friend Hans Rookmaaker once remarked that ‘Escape from Reason is Schaeffer's version of what Dooyeweerd develops in [In the Twilight of Western Thought].'1

It is a shame that this book is not illustrated, for Schaeffer makes some excellent points regarding grace and nature using descriptions of art works and having them illustrated would have greatly enriched the reading experience.

This version has a brief foreword by James Moreland and a two-page index. It is a welcome addition to the IVP Classics series.

1 ‘A Dutch view of Christian philosophy’ in The Complete Works of Hans Rookmaaker edited by Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker Vol 6 Part III The L'Abri Lectures. (Piquant, 2005).

Steve Bishop

(Re)thinking worldview 5

This should have appeared before 6!

The second part of the book turns from worldview – thinking - to wisdom - living. A worldview provides a context, wisdom ‘plays a central role at the heart of Christian living’ (p 21).

This section on wisdom is replete with wisdom. Bertrand makes some excellent observations on seeking guidance:

Seeking counsel is wise, but it’s not the same thing as abrogating responsibility for one’s own decisions.

If knowing God’s will was that easy, why bother with all that wisdom literature in the first place?

Chasing after fleeces and green lights and open doors, whatever its virtues, can have the unintended effect of displacing the text in the hunt for a deeper subtext.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

(Re)thinking worldview 6

‘Not what you think’ is the title of chapter 6. Here Bertrand deals with three important points. First he examines Solomon the archetypical wise person. He concludes regarding Solomon, that the kind of wisdom he demonstrates is ‘practical discernment, the ability to judge, the faculty for discerning the truth from lies’ (p 126).

His three points are:
1. WISDOM is not what you think – we have misguided views as to what wisdom is.
2. Wisdom is not what YOU think – it is what God thinks.
3. Wisdom is not what you THINK – it comes from the will and not the intellect.
One, of the many, excellent points he makes is that wisdom starts with worldview. Thoughts don’t make us wise, but what we do flows from our worldview. He then examines three questions: where is wisdom? What is wisdom? and why is wisdom portrayed as female in Proverbs? Along the way he exposes the poverty and unbiblical nature of a utilitarian approach to wisdom; maximise happiness and minimise pain. Sometimes we have to suffer for good.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Sustainable living

The Jubilee Centre have recently put oline at youtube a number of clips. Including this one dealing with Sustainable living - Jason Fletcher interviews Nick Spencer on sustainable living.

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(Re)thinking worldview 4

Creation, fall, and redemption: worldview as story

The final chapter of the first part of the book on worldview, deals with the well-known framework of creation, fall and redemption, this provides the narrative, or story for a Christian worldview. The third chapter dealt with worldview as a system here we have worldview as a story. However story still needs an abstract systematic approach, as this illustration shows:
Not long ago , I found myself in a small college town, overhearing a deep conversation between two students. They were explaining to each other how abstractions were dead and story was everything. It sounded good. I imagined this was something a professor said in class and the two men were trying the perspective for size. What didn’t occur to them, though, was the irony of having a rational, abstract conversation about the death of abstraction. They were crowing story king without engaging in one hwit of storytelling. They were bright young men, but they managed, as many of us do, to miss the forest for the trees. Things are rarely as simple as exchanging a bad paradigm for a prefect replacement (p.p 98-99)

There is much on the role of story in this chapter, but I would have liked to have seen a little more of the story of creation, fall and redemption spelled out a little more.

Revolutions in Worldview

Of the making of [worldview] books there is no end. Here's another one. [HT Between two worlds]. The Table of contents, preface and chapter 1 can be read here. Vern Poythress's contribition on 'NT Worldview' is available here.

Update: There is a resource page to go with the book here.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Happy Christmas

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(Re)thinking worldview (3)

Chapter 3 is God, man and the world: worldview as a system. Here Bertrand looks at Kuyper’s use of the term worldview in his Lectures on Calvinism. He cites Kuyper’s view that a worldview must speak to man’s (sic) relation to God, man’s relation to other men and man’s relation to the world.’

Bertrand is unhappy with the concept of the Christian worldview. This is because there are too many divisions within Christianity and that we are fallible.

Using the illustrations of Frankenstein and Hyde he looks at anthropology as being a major difference between a Christian worldview and all others. Some have a Frankenstein view: humans are essentially good; or a Hyde view: humans are essentially evil. He quotes, favourably, Herman Bavinck who wrote: ‘all religions except Christianity are autosoteric…’. For Christianity only God can save – humans are good, created in the image of God, but fallen.

As Bertrand concludes this chapter he writes:

‘Worldview functions on the level of system, and there’s no reason to be afraid of that fact. Where we must be careful, though, is in not allowing our systems to become closed systems – or in mistaking our conclusions with God’s’ (p 91).

Sunday, 23 December 2007

(Re)thinking worldview (2)

Bertrand looks at four pillars that he sees as being central to a Christian worldview: creation, order, rationality and fear. These are the ‘load bearing structures’ of belief systems. I must confess that I wasn’t too sure about the emphasis on rationality. But as he notes:
Rationality is fundamental to a coherent view of reality. Those who challenge it seem to do so because they reject the possibility of a coherent view of reality – on what basis could they challenge it?

Though it did leave me thinking, whose rationality? Which rationality? There is not one version of rationality that everyone holds to.

He uses Robinson Crusoe – apparently Crusoe undergoes conversion while he is shipwrecked – Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and Job to make some excellent points. He then draws upon Paul (1 Cor 13:8-12) to develop some interesting points about knowledge:
… if we do not share Paul’s sense of the partial, incomplete nature of our knowing, then we have a sub-Pauline comprehension of our circumstances … if we don’t share Paul’s sense that our knowledge is true and reliable we’ve slipped into a sub-Pauline mode. We may not have perfect knowledge, but we do know things, and that knowledge comes with obligations.
He concludes with a brief description of the pillar of ‘fear of the Lord’. An often neglected aspect.

It would be easy to be pernickety and point out the use of exclusive language (man instead of humanity) and the overemphasis on rationality – here the influence of Schaeffer is evident - but Bertrand is right to assert the possibility of knowledge, but also ‘the limits of knowledge’ (p 72). And he comes out with some great one-liners; eg: 'It took the cross to deconstruct the dead/alive binary forever' (p 71).

Saturday, 22 December 2007

(Re)thinking worldview by J Mark Bertrand (ch 1)

I nearly didn't get this book - oh no I thought another book on worlview. I'm glad that I did. At least as far as the first chapter is concerned - that's as far as I've got. (I only got it today.) What Wolters, and Walsh and Midelton were to the nineties,* I'm sure Bertrand will be to the noughties.

Although it is another book on worldview it is much more than that - it will be great for all those suffering 'worldview fatigue'. Bertrand writes not as an academic but as an artist. He has a way with words and images.

The first chapter is replete with the old images of worldview, a pair of spectacles, a map and so on and yet Bertrand breathes new life into these metaphors and brings out fresh nuances. One that struck a chord with me was that the spectacles are not sun glasses but prescription lenses:

The task of a worldview is to see the world as it is, to correct your vision, The test of a good worldview will be whether it brings reality into sharp focus or leaves things blurry. (p. 27)
He sees worldviews as being not only propositions and perspectives but also as stories. This theme will be developed no doubt in subsequent chapters.

J Mark Bertrand blogs here and has a blog on the book here - check it out.

* Surprisingly both these books are omitted from the index! Though Kuyper and Schaeffer references are there in force!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Wearne's annotated bibliography of Goudzwaard

Bruce Wearne has produced a 101-page annotated bibliography of the English works of Christian economist Bob Goudzwaard: Cultivating Care within a Vulnerable Economy: an annotated bibliography of the English writings of Bob Goudzwaard 1967-2007 [pdf December 2007; 101+ xvii pages (approx 1 MB)]. Bruce writes:

This annotated bibliography of the English-language writings and publications of Bob Goudzwaard, is the second in a series compiled as part of research into the normative foundations of social science. As reports of "work in progress", the series documents an initial response to the published writings of some or other leading exponents of reformational philosophy in the English-speaking world. These bibliographies provide "one at a time" annotations for each of the listed publications of these authors. Public Justice for All (February 2007) was the first.

In the opening pages of this document readers will find a list in which Goudzwaard's publications are grouped under various headings. For instance, there will be some headings that relate to the different subdivisions of economics, of related social sciences (political science, social policy research, sociology) as well as history and ethics. There will also be groups of articles under more general topic headings like: Christianity, neo-Calvinism, care, stewardship, capitalism, poverty, ecumenism, globalization, environment.

The different items listed in this bibliography will give the researcher a glimpse of how Goudzwaard has developed his scholarly contribution over the years. By his extensive networking he has tried to indicate serviceable paths by which economics can fulfill its vocation. The articles attempt to connect the world of "science" with policy-making and everyday life, but they also relate economics to other fields of scientific research as well.

The bibliography has links to most of Bob Goudzwaard's writings - which can be found on All of life redeemed.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Sentamu on Mugabe

"As far as I'm concerned, from now on I'm not going to wear a dog collar until Mugabe is gone"

Friday, 14 December 2007

The Devil's Account by Hugh Rayment-Pickard

The Devil’s Account:
Philip Pullman & Christianity

Hugh Rayment-Pickard
Dartman, Longman + Todd, 2004.

This is the quickest review I have ever written. I bought this book at the bargain price of 50p yesterday, I read it while taking a bath and am writing this review just 24 hours after purchasing it. From that we can deduce that it is an easy read and pretty short (117 pages). It’s also a great review of Pullman and his work. This book doesn’t stop at examining His Dark Materials trilogy but also looks at his other writings. I have only read the trilogy so I can’t comment on how accurate Rayment-Pickard’s (HRP) take is on Pullman’s other books.

I got this book primarily because the film of Pullman’s first book in the trilogy is causing quite a stir. The film The Golden compass takes its title from the US title of The Northern Lights, presumably American’s are ignorant of the norther lights phenomenon (only joking!). This book is no blunt hatchet job. It is a considered and thoughtful critique. He ably pulls apart Pullman’s worldview and shows where he is inconsistent – HRP uses a transcendent and immanent critique to analyse Pullman’s writings.

Pullman was born in 1946 the golden age of Lewis and Tolkein. Pulman went to live with his grandfather, a traditional Church of England priest (1666 and all that), after his father died in an air crash when Pullman was young. This accounts for the many Christian images that are found (and twisted) in Pullman’s work. Pullman says:
…I have to consider myself an atheist. But because of my upbringing I’m a Christian atheist, and I’m a church atheist …’

This influence is explored well by HRP. HRP has obviously spent time researching Pullman and his writings. It is fascinating to see the (a)theological themes in Pullman’s Dark Materials foreshadowed in his earlier writings.

The themes and issues that HRP discusses includes violence, the church, the soul, dust, sexuality, innocence and experience, the death of God and heaven. HRP makes clear the problem of violence for Pullman. One the one hand Pullman deplores the violence in C S Lewis’ Narnia; he finds it ‘objectionable’ hat the children are killed in a train crash at the end of the books. And yet no justification is provided for Lord Asriel’s murder of Roger in his own book. As HRP notes:
Pullman’s moral difficulties with violence are connected with his godless universe. With God out of the picture Pullman’s ethics cannot be based upon any theological or metaphysical system of justification. Pullman does not believe in the theological categories of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.
HRP goes on to comment:
Pullman’s ambivalence about the ethics of violence reveals a deeper theological ambivalence. On the one hand Pullman objects to a divine authority who lays down the morals. On the other hand he is not entirely comfortable with an ethic worked out in purely human terms. So he is left giving two cheers to ethics without God. It nearly works; but not quite. Not unless you have an alethiometer – but in real life aleithometers are in short supply.
Here lies the problem for the atheist – how can we do morals without a transcendent being? Morality must be a ‘natural’ phenomenon – so why not pick and choose our morals? It also highlights the problem of evil for the atheist. Traditionally it has been seen as a problem for the theist and much Christian writings have been devoted to developing a theodicy; however, the problem is even more acute for the atheist – why is evil evil if there are no God-given norms? Alethiometers may work in fiction but not in the real world.

HRP writes:
The death of God in His dark materials is liberating, but not dangerous. Will and Lyra are liberated to fulfil their duty to ensure that Dust does not escape from the universe. They are liberated from the Authority, only to fall under the spell of a new ‘authority’: the absolute obligation to build the republic of heaven. But they are not liberated to moral oblivion, or confusion, or an emptiness of meaning. This is ‘death-of-God-lite’: God dies but the cosmos retains its theological meaning. Humans still have a destiny, there are still objective ethical rules and Dust still gives the universe a warm glow.

The god that Pullman kills – kills is perhaps too strongh a term, as Pullman’s god withers away and dissolves into nothing – is a far cry from the robust good creator God of the Bible; Pullman’s god is a pathetic imposter god, a first angel formed from the Dust. However, because he was the first angel he was able to fool the others he was their creator.

Pullman’s atheism is parasitic upon theism. As HRP comments: ‘The dilemma of atheism is that it must always be dependent upon theism’. HRP closes his analysis with a warning for the church:
Pullman (and his readers) find Christianity life-denying and authoritarian. To them the church appears more concerned with preserving its doctrines and traditions than in celebrating the vitality and goodness of life, more concerned with the power and prestige than with people and their sufferings.

Unfortunately, all the talk of boycotting the Golden Compass film confirms these misconceptions. As most Christians know Christianity is life-affirming – how have we failed to convey the liberating message of the gospel?

The book ends with a synopsis of Pullman’s writings. Incidentally, the title The Devil’s Account comes from William Blake’s ‘The marriage of heaven and hell’:

It indeed appear'd to Reason as if Desire was cast out, but the Devils account is that the Messiah fell, & formed a heaven of what he stole from the Abyss.

This book is a is a refreshing break from the knee-jerk responses to the film; it well researched by someone who appreciates Pullman as a writer but is sensitive to the non-Christian themes and issues.

There is an interesting interview with Pullman here.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Leaders with a vision by B J van der Walt

Leaders with a Vision:
How Christian leadership can tackle the African crisis

B J van der Walt
Potchefstroomse Universitet vir Christelike Hoer Onderwys, 1995.

This 101-page book started life as the lectures for the Pan African leadership Assembly II in Nairobi, 22-30 November 1994. B J van der Walt is no stranger to the African situation; he is a South African Christian philosopher and founder of the Institute for Reformational Studies based at the Potchefstroom University in South Africa (he retired in 1999). He writes about Africa from first-hand experience.

Although this book’s context is Africa its value extends beyond that continent. The four main chapters deal with: the nature of office, authority, power and responsibility; the structuring of society; social involvement and change; and the nature of the state. Important and crucial issues for Christians wherever they may live and work.

Vand der Walt is a clear and insightful writer. He applies reformational thinking to important cultural issues. I particularly appreciated the tables and diagrams that served to summarise and illustrate the main points made in the text.

He sees leadership as being a key to the African crisis. However, he rightly maintains that it will mean much more than leaders who are Christians. It needs Christian leaders with a clear vision that they can communicate and inspire others.

The first main chapter (Ch2 – chapter 1 is a brief Introduction) examines a Christian perspective on office, authority and power. As the author states’ If one does not know what office, authority, power and responsibility means, one cannot be a real leader’ (p 8). He sees office as God’s mandate to render service to the members of the societal relationship. Authority is the right to render this service, which requires insight into and obedience of the God-given norms for the specific relationship. Power is acted-out authority and is dependent on insight and obedience to god’s norms; and finally responsibility is towards God and the people of the societal relationship. This is important for Africa and equally so for the church everywhere.

Chapter 3 looks at the structuring of society. Here he looks at three biblical perspectives: from the perspective of the image of God, the perspective of different offices and from the perspective of diversified love. Individualim, communalism and pluralism are then examined. A Christian view is a pluralist view: it wishes to do justice to both individuals (individualism) and society (communalism).

In ‘A Christian perspective on social involvement and change’ (Ch 4) three models are mentioned and critiqued. The first two the dualist-pietist view – common among many evangelicals - and the revolutionary views are found wanting and the biblical reformational view is briefly expounded. The reformational view is radical – God transforms the world – and positive – it seeks to be obedient to God for the sake of God’s world.

Chapter 5 examines a Christian perspective on the state. Here the African background comes to the fore and he uses this turbulent context to draw out some biblical perspectives, including a useful discussion on civil disobedience. He discerns four viewpoints radical passivists, partial passivists, partial militarists and radical militarists. He concludes ‘In the final instance it is the duty of especially Christians to keep on talking, trying their best to convince the government that it has to change’ (p 90).

In the final chapter – the conclusion – he looms briefly at the different leadership models that have shaped Africa: the paternalistic elder tradition (Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah), the sage tradition (Leopold Sedar Senghor or Mwalimu Julius Nyrere), the arrior tradition ( (Gadafi or Idi Amin), the charismatic style of the inspiring personality (Kenyatta, Nyere or Amin) and the monarchical style (Nkrumah, who was sometimes known as Osagyefo, the Redeemer). He concludes that what is needed in Africa – and we might add everywhere – is responsible servant-leaders.

This is an excellent book and one that should be read by all leaders and aspiring leaders wherever.

Details of how to obtain Bennie van der Walt’s books are available here.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

From Noyon to Geneva by B J van der Walt

From Noyon to Geneva: A Pilgrimage in the Steps of John Calvin (1509-1564)
Dr B J van der Walt
Potchesfstroom University for CHE: Potchesfstroom, 1979
Series F: Institute for the Advancement of Calvinism (F2, No 10)
ISBN 086990 482 5

The South African scholar Bennie van der Walt has produced an original and fascinating study on Calvin. It is a photo history and tour guide. He has followed in the footsteps of Calvin and along the way he has written this short (71 pp) but marvellous tour guide, complete with 66 photographs.

He traces Calvin from his birth place in Noyon to his time as a student in Paris, his days as a fugitive in the south of France and then on to Strasbourg and Geneva. Along the way we are also given a brief history of the Huguenot’s. Van der Walt’s writing is very clear and he has many suggestions for the would-be Christian tourist/ pilgrim. He identifies places that the heritage of Calvin still lives on and places where his influence has been all but lost. The 66 photographs serve to make this book a first-class tourist guide for the modern Reformed pilgrim.

Unfortunately, at present it is out of print. Details of other books by B J van der walt are available here.

Odds and sods

A fascinating piece on the reconstructionists by Michael McVicar 'The libertarian theocrats: the long, strange history of R J Rushdoony and Christian recstructionism' [HT David Field]

The Edinburgh 1910 Missionary conference lectures have been digitised [HT TallSkinnyKiwi]

A test on one of my favourite books of the Bible the book of Revelation

Links to pieces on the atonement, which is a good enough reason to post this photo my eldest son took in the chapel at Little Bridge House, where my other son died just over two years ago.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The worldview song

Everybody has a worldview
The Atheist, the Sikh and Hindu
Your mom and dad
And me and you too
Have a worldview

Everybody has a worldview
Every worldview is based
On a commitment of faith
There is nothing you can do
Without your worldview

Whisky in God’s world of human experience

I want to go into a shop to buy a bottle of whisky.* A theologian might ask should a Christian buy and drink alcohol? and he may want to discuss the issue with me using the Scripture. If an ethicist were watching, as an ethicist, he might ask where is the best place to buy the whiskey, should I buy fair trade whiskey? Should I spend more than £30 on a single malt when a blended can be bought for under £20? A jurist might discuss the times that it legal to buy the bottle and ask is it right that so much of the price of a bottle of whisky (in the UK) is tax. An aesthetician would consider the size and shape of the bottle and the colour of the whisky, the way it is packaged, he might also pay attention to the display of the bottles in the shop and the way the shop is laid out. An economist might be primarily be interested in the cost and value of the bottle. A sociologist looking on might consider the impact of alcohol on society and she might also look at the interaction between the shopkeeper and myself. The ways of communicating between the customers and the shop keeper would come under consideration by the linguist, she might wonder about my Potteries accent and the shopkeeper’s Bristolian accent; and also ponder what does the label say about the whiskey? And what did that wink of the shopkeeper mean? A psychologist might think about what drives me to want a drink of whisky and what motivates the shopkeeper to please me.
The bottle of whiskey itself also has a number of aspects: there are a certain number of bottles on the shelf, each take up a certain amount of space, the whiskey in the bottle could be described by a chemical formula (C2H5OH), but of course it is more than that, the whiskey stays on the shelf because it obeys Newton’s laws of motion and so on.

This apparently simple task of buying a bottle of whiskey has many facets to it; God's good creation is many-faceted as Dooyeweerd has long maintained.

*With apologies to Calvin Seerveld and his discussion of cigars in 'Dooyewerd's legacy for aesthetics'.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Odds and sods

The film the Golden Compass is causing quite a stir. Thinking Christian has a reference page.

Carl Trueman has an excellent thought on it:

If intention is the key to Pullman's error, then I guess we should also discourage Christians from reading Milton's polemically anti-Trinitarian, anti-orthodox Paradise Lost. And Pascal's anti-Protestant Pensees. And Gibbon's anti-Christian Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. And Swift's anti-theological Gulliver's Travels. Etc. etc.etc. And what about the Manicheeism of William Blake? Better scratch The Songs of Innocence and Experience. Come on, guys, face it -- Lewis was a decent children's novelist with terrible theology; Pullman is a passable children's novelist with terrible atheology. If you can't read them without being led astray, don't read them; but a good fantasy story is a good fantasy story.

The good, the bad and the ugly of evangelicalism - courtesy of exiled preacher.

Lee Irons on Wright's 'God and politics' [HT between two worlds]

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Pete Steen The Structure of Herman Dooyeweerd's Thought

I have now completed the scanning of Pete Steen's The Structure of Herman Dooyeweerd's Thought and the complete book can be found here.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Bavinck: a pearl and a leaven

A Pearl and a Leaven. Herman Bavinck for the Twenty-First Century. International Conference September 18–20, 2008 Calvin College and Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Scholarship Competition - Call for Papers:

Click on the image for a pdf of the details

Friday, 30 November 2007

Roy Clouser - two new articles

I have added two papers to the Roy Clouser pages:

The latter is an excellent accessible overview of Dooyeweerd's ideas.

Harry van Dyke pages

It has been pretty busy on All of life redemed of late. A number of new articles have been posted. And now the Harry van Dyke pages have been launched.

Harry is Director of the Dooyeweerd Centre for Christian Philosophy based at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario and Professor Emeritus in History. He studied under H Evan Runner and M C Smit (1911-1981).

At present there are two papers on Kuyper and inks to his edited version of Groen van Prinsterer's classic Unbelief and Revolution.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Bruce Wearne reviews

Several early papers by Bruce Wearne have been added to All of life redeemed:

1978. "Seed:the salt of the earth is no opiate of the masses" Newsletter FCS NZ No 12 (April) pp 1-4.
1978. "Christian social science as a vocation" Newsletter FCS NZ No 13 (August) pp 10-18.
1978. "Graduate conference" Newsletter FCS NZ No 14 (November) pp 11-14.
1980. "Review of Hans Rookmaaker- a biography by Linette Martin" Newsletter FCS NZ No 17 (December) pp 15-16.
1980. "A Christian Social Perspective by Alan Storkey" Newsletter FCS NZ No 17 (December) pp 19-22.
1980."Marx's theses on Feuerbach: a humanistic catechism" Findings (FCS NZ) No 1 pp 17- 33.
1989. "Whatever happened to Michael Griffiths?" Tyndale Paper 34 (3).
1989. "Samuel Eliot Morison's tercentenary lament" Lucas: An Evangelical History Review No 16 (Dec) pp 46-64.

Monday, 26 November 2007

I have now bought a domain name for the All of life redeemed pages.

This will mean rather than being a collection of separate pages, all the pages will be 'under one roof'. It will also mean the end of inappropriate advertising on the site.

Each of the contributors pages can be found by adding surname.htm at the end of

  • Books:

  • Personal perspectives
  • Philosophia Reformata index for English articles
  • That's my king

    There are number of video versions of S M Lockridge's famous refrain 'My King' I make no apologies for posting another - it blesses me everytime I hear it. Lockridge was a pastor at Calvery Baptist Church, San Diego CA from 1953-1993. He died in 2000.

    The full text of the refrain is here.
    An audio file is available here.

    Odds and sods

    Tom Wright mp3s [HT between two worlds]
    Children see. Children do [HT Mike Hill]

    That's My King:

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    Tuesday, 20 November 2007

    Sunday, 18 November 2007


    There is something very satisfying about a bibliography. I love looking through them and adding more to my 'must get hold of' list.

    I have now revised my 'On Dooyeweerd' bibliography. It was originally here - it's now available as a pdf from AoLR here and I have also put in on the reformational wiki here. The idea of putting it the wiki is so that it can become a collaborative project. Please do add any materials that I have omitted (or indeed make any corrections - there are no doubt many typos that need correcting!).

    I'm also working on a Bernard Zylstra and a B J (Bennie) van der Walt bibliography. The van der Walt bibliography will slowly be appearing here.

    Also Bruce Wearne is working on an annotated bibliography of Bob Goudzwaard - more details to follow!

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    Friday, 16 November 2007

    Odds and sods

    Stop death by PowerPoint

    The Leviticus alphabet:

    Offerings: 1-7
    1 - A - Ascending up to God offering
    2 - B - Bow to God in tribute offering
    3 - C - Come and eat in peace offering
    4 - D - Danger over in sin offering
    5 - E - Ending guilt in trespass offering
    6 - F - Further detailed rules for offerings
    7 - G - Going on with rules for offerings

    Priesthood: 8-10
    8 - H - How to become a priest
    9 - I - Inaugurate the tabernacle system
    10 - J - Judgment on Aaron’s sons

    Clean and unclean: 11-16
    11 - K - Kosher food
    12 - L - Little ‘uns – cleaning up after them
    13 - M - Mouldy bodies and clothes
    14 - N - New start from leprosy, but what about your house?
    15 - O - Outflows and overflows
    16 - P - Purification Day
    Become a holy nation: 17-27
    17 - Q - Quit remote sacrifices and don’t eat blood
    18 - R - Ruinous practices, forbidden sex
    19 - S - Special people, special life
    20 - T - Taking chapter 18 further
    21 - U - Unclean priestly actions, unfit priestly bodies
    22 - V - Valid holy eating, void animal offering
    23 - W - Wahay! Festivals!
    24 - X - Execute blasphemer (+ lamp, bread, and eye for eye)
    25 - Y - Years – Sabbath and Jubilee
    26 - Z - Zones of blessing, zones of curse
    27 - Redemption of vows

    20 Books on Christ and culture - with some notable omissions! [HT Between two worlds]

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    Saturday, 10 November 2007

    Death to blog boredom?

    I've been "tagged" by Bob Robinson of Vanguard Church and friend of Kuyper, Bob was tagged by Scott Berkhimer at Theopraxis, who was tagged by, Michael Kruse, who was tagged by David Ker, who it seems originated the meme, of Lingamish.

    The "meme" is meant to discover "five little-known treasures of the blogosphere" in order to put to death our blog bore. I'm honoured to be described by Bob (or at least the meme) as a 'treasure'!

    Anyway here are my five 'little treasures' all of which deserve loads more readers:

    Gideon, David and Macht would also have had a mention - but they have enough readers as it is, they are hardly little known and they don't like memes!

    (Consider yourselves tagged guys! Why are they all guys? Perhaps we need another meme for female bloggers worth checking out!)

    I would also have nominated The Friend of Kuyper blog - but Bob has already done that. But seeing as he nominated one of his own blogs I'll also do that - H. Evan Runner blog: I've been transcribing some of his lectures - they are excellent stuff and deserve a wider audience.

    Theological Journal Libarary vols 1-10 announced

    For $400 dollars 500 years of theological journals can be yours. (I have mentioned the Theological Journal Library before - I'm still undecided to wait for Logos to get a Mac version or go for Accordance). The new 2 CD package contains volumes 1-10 with the following journals:
    • Ashland Theological Journal (Volumes 1-37)
    • Bibliotheca Sacra (Volumes 91-163)
    • Bible and Spade (Volumes 1-12, 1-13)
    • Chafer Theological Seminary Journal (Volumes 1-12)
    • Christian Apologetics Journal (Volumes 1-5)
    • Conservative Theological Journal (Volumes 1-10)
    • Conspectus (Volumes 1-3)
    • Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (Volumes 1-11)
    • Emmaus Journal (Volumes 1-14)
    • Faith and Mission (Volumes 1-23)
    • Global Journal (Volumes 1-2)
    • Grace Journal (Volumes 1-14)
    • Grace Theological Journal (Volumes 1-12)
    • Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Volumes 1-11)
    • Journal of Christian Apologetics (Volumes 1-2)
    • Journal of Dispensational Theology (Volume 10)
    • Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (Volumes 9-49)
    • Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (Volumes 1-19)
    • Journal of Ministry and Theology (Volumes 1-10)
    • Masters Seminary Journal (Volumes 1-15)
    • Michigan Theological Journal (Volumes 1-5)
    • Reformation and Revival (Volumes 1-13)
    • Reformed Baptist Theological Review (Volumes 1-3)
    • Review and Expositor (Volumes 70-103)
    • Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (Volumes 1-10)
    • Trinity Journal (Volumes 1-26)
    • Westminster Theological Journal (Volumes 1-68)
    There is an excellent deal for those that have any of the previous volumes:

    We are doing things a little differently than the past 4 years...Instead of having a separate Volume 10 CD, I decided to put all 10 volumes into one package.(we will no longer offer TJL 6, 7, 8 & 9 separately)
    And I've devised what I hope is an equitable way for everyone to get caught up.

    Here's the way the upgrade thing will work.The list price for the complete package is $400.Since there are 10 volumes in the package, that's $40 per volume.So, your cost of upgrading is $40 X the number of volumes you are behind.

    For example:you have TJL 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 - then your upgrade price is only $ have TJL 5, 6 and 7 - you pay $120 (for 8, 9 and 10 content)you have TJL 5 only - you pay $200 (for 6-10 content)

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    Sunday, 4 November 2007

    B J van der Walt on Vollenhoven

    I have uploaded the following paper by Bennie van der Walt to All of life redeemed:

    2006. The philosophy of D. H. Th. Vollenhoven (1892-1978), with special reference to his historiography of philosophy. Tydskrif vir Christelike Wetenskap 42 (1-2): 35-39.

    It is an excellent and readable introduction to Vollenhoven's work. It includes - and clearly explains - this diagram:

    Annihilation again

    I have blogged before about annihilation here and here. Glenn Peoples, who blogs here, has posted his article on annihilation from JETS (June 2007) here together with a response from Petersen.

    Saturday, 3 November 2007

    Antony Flew

    Former atheist Antony Flew is interviewed by Benjamin Wiker here.

    Flew's book There is No A God is soon to be released.

    Here is Dawkin's take on Flew's conversion to a-atheism:

    And here is an interview with Flew in which he discusses some of the factors that made him reconsider his atheism:

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    Reading level?

    cash advance

    [HT Transformatum]

    Friday, 2 November 2007

    H G Stoker on Calvinistic philosophy

    Robert Bradshaw has put up a pdf of an article by the South African philosopher H G Stoker 'The possibility of a Calvinistic philosophy' Evangelical Quarterly 7 (1935): 17-23.

    AoLR: Cameron pages

    I'm pleased to announce the launch of the Alan Cameron pages on All of life redeemed. Alan is senior lecturer in commercial law at the School of Accounting and Commercial Law, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His academic specialisation is reformational legal philosophy with a particular interest in the legal philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd. He is the editor of Herman Dooyeweerd, Encyclopedia of the Science of Law Volume 1: Introduction (Mellen Press, Series A, vol 8, 2002) and author of articles and papers on Dooyeweerd's jurisprudence.

    Thursday, 1 November 2007

    Urban saints training days

    One-day Training Conferences for all Christian youth and children’s leaders

    Young people dream.

    Caught up as consumers in a secular society poisoned by a toxic mix of materialism and greed they have few positive influences to help shape their dreams.

    That's where you come in...

    During the training conferences we will help you to:

    • Gain an insight into the forces that shapethe dreams and worldviews of our young people.
    • Discover how to help young people challenge the secular worldviews they pick up.
    • Be challenged to see how we can engage with the Bible in a fresh and exciting way.

    Be envisioned to help young people see how the story of God can help re-shape their dreams.

    Main speaker: We are delighted that Mark Roques (resident tutor at the West Yorkshire School of Christian Studies) is joining us at each venue.

    Mark is a writer and storyteller who has spent many years in education. For eleven years he taught Philosophy & Religious Studies at Prior Park College in Bath where he developed a unique Christian worldview course that combined film, music, story-telling and subversive role plays.

    Mark is the author of Curriculum Unmasked: Towards a Christian Understanding of education, The Good, The Bad and The Misled: True Stories Reflecting Different World Views for Use in Secondary Religious Education and Fields of God: Football and the Kingdom of God.


    These events are open to anyone aged 16 or over who works with any age group from 8 upwards.

    Registered Energize groups receive three free places as part of their subscription, and thereafter the cost is £10 per person. All other leaders pay £15. The fee includes light refreshments throughout the day and a comprehensive workbook.

    Each training conference will run from 10:00am to 4:30pm.

    Our venues are carefully chosen churches and Christian centres with good conference facilities, easy access from major routes and parking on-site or very close by. Venue details will be sent with each booking confirmation, and are also available on request.

    A wide range of books, videos and other resources for youth and children’s leaders will be on sale at each venue, many at heavily discounted prices.

    Refreshments will be provided free throughout the day, but you will need to bring a packed lunch.

    Dates and venues for Autumn 2007:

    Nov 3 - Belfast
    Nov 10 - Colwyn Bay
    Nov 17 - Cardiff
    Nov 24 - Bristol

    Booking information:

    Please click HERE to download a Booking Form in PDF format

    Please click HERE to download a brochure in PDF format (1 MB)


    Wednesday, 31 October 2007

    Bernard Zylstra Lectures

    Presents the annual

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007

    Authority and the Image of God

    Dr. David T. Koyzis
    Professor of Political Science
    Redeemer University College

    Supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation

    Chapel address
    11:00 am - 12:00 noon, Auditorium
    "Living as Image-Bearers"

    Afternoon Panel Discussion
    3:00 pm, Executive Dining Room
    "What Now? Taking Stock of the Provincial Election Results"

    Evening Public Lecture
    7:00 pm, Room 213
    "Can I? May I? The Reduction of Authority to Power"

    Invitation is open and admission is free

    For more information please contact

    Marlene Raddatz
    (905)648-2131 x 4414

    A Reformational Wiki

    I have recently set up a reformational wiki:

    If you want to get involved in adding and editing material let me know.

    Friday, 26 October 2007

    Knowing with the Heart

    Roy Clouser's book Knowing with the Heart is now available from Wipf and Stock details here.

    Monday, 22 October 2007

    B J van der Walt pages

    I have now added the Bennie van der Walt pages to All of life redeemed.

    There are two of his papers online:

    1983. The consistent problem-historical method of philosophical historiography. Anakainosis 5 (2 and 3): 1-23 [pdf]

    2000. 'Culture, worldview and religion' Cultures and Christianity AD 2000: International Symposium of the Association for Reformational Philosophy Aug 2000. [pdf]

    Sunday, 21 October 2007

    Sunday, 14 October 2007

    Rowan Wiliams on Dawkins

    The Telegraph has a piece on Rowan Williams' take on Dawkins:

    Dr Rowan Williams responded to critics of religion by arguing that atheists had missed the point and failed to understand what Christians really believe in.
    In a fierce attack on the Oxford professor and other leading atheists, he said: "There are specific areas of mismatch between what Richard Dawkins may write about and what religious people think they are doing."

    He added: "There are few things more annoying than people saying 'I know what you mean'." Dr Williams described Prof Dawkins as a "lively and attractive writer" but said his arguments were not fully engaging with religion.

    He suggested that Prof Dawkins, the author of the best-selling The God Delusion and a leading Darwinist, was a good scientist but a poor philosopher.

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