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.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Tom Wright: The Bible and tomorrow's world

Bp Wright's Lambeth walk talk is here.

My theme today has obviously been designed to go with today’s Indaba group work on our use of the Bible. This is an opportune time, as our Conference quickens its pace, to reflect on how we use scripture, not least how we Bishops use scripture as part of our vocation, as in the main theme of this Conference, to be ‘bishops in mission.'

Jim Skillen pages

I have now launched the Jim Skillen pages on All of life redeemed. There are a number of links to Jim's papers on the web and also a copy of his Political Science Reviewer essay on Dooyeweerd:

'Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea: Herman Dooyeweerd’s Political and Legal Thought' The Political Science Reviewer XXXII pp.318-380. [With permission of ThePolitical Science Reviewer, which can be accessed here]

If you unfamiliar with Skillen's work check out Bruce Wearne's annotated bibliography of Jim's work.

Jim is the is the president of the Center for Public Justice and is author of numerous books on politics.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

H G Stoker now on CD

A collection of the academic publications of South African reformational philosopher H G Stoker is now available on CD. Full details are here though they are in Afrikaans. Only a few articles on the CD are in English.
The cost is 100 rand .

Hendrik Gerhardus Stoker (1899-1993) was born in Johannesburg and taught at the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education from 1925 to 1970. He served on the board of the journal Philosophia Reformata; very little of his work has been published to date in English. During 1942-43 he was imprisoned for his anti-English and pro-German stance. In 1957 in 'The case for apartheid' he advocated separate universities for whites, coloureds and blacks.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Flew on Dawkins

There is no a god - Flew speaks out: Professor Anthony Flew reviews the God Delusion

Oliver Barclay's misconception of Reformed Christian philosophy

The Reformed Christian philosophy of Dooyeweerd and Vollenhofen was introduced at this time [late sixties and early seventies] from Holland, but it was not able to arouse more than a passing interest in most people because of its difficulty, and because of the lack of interest in philosophy both in Christian circles and in the country as a whole. It also seemed to some, myself included, to put philosophy above theology and thereby to avoid the necessity of going to the Bible first of all and last of all.
Oliver Barclay Evangelicalism in Britain 1935-1995 (Leicester: IVP, 1997)

A University for the People

Subtitled: A History of the Institute of Christian Studies by Robert E. VanderVennen. I'm looking forward to reading this one. Available from Dordt College Press.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Understanding Evangelical Media ...

... is a book due out very soon edited by Quentin Schultze and Robert H Woods Jr (Inter Varsity Press, 2008).

There is also a website, replete with resources and information, to accompany the book here and a blog: Understanding evangelical media.

Quentin is professor of communication at Calvin College, and is involved in faithcrafting - providing help for Christians to write and publish good non-fiction.

Available in the UK from:
Book depository
Eden and Wesley Owen don't seem to have it in stock yet.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Bibliography for a Christian approach to technology


Ian Barbour 1992. Ethics in an Age of Technology (The Gifford lectures 1990-91) (London: SCM) 
Examines the ethical challenges that technology confronts us with.

Andrew Basden 2008. Philosophical Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems (IGI Publishing) 
Develops a Dooyeweerdian approach to information systems - essential reading!

Andrew Basden 2017. The Foundations of Information Systems; Research and Practice. London: Routledge.

Bert Cusveller, Maarten Verkerk and Marc de Vries 2011. The Matrix Reformed Science Fiction, Technology and Christian Philosophy. Sioux Center: Dordt College Press.

Albert Borgmann 2003. Power Failure: Christianity in the Culture of Technology. (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2003)

Brue, Ethan J. Derek C. Schuurman, Derek C. and VanderLeest, Steven. 2022. A Christian Field Guide to Technology for Engineers and Designers. Downers Grove: IVP.
How can designing and using technology actually be a way of loving God and our neighbors? Veteran engineers and teachers Ethan Brue, Derek Schuurman, and Steve VanderLeest provide a field guide for fellow explorers working with technology.

Church of England BSR Cybernauts Awake

Jacques Ellul 1965. Technological Society (London: Jonathon Cape) 
A pessimistic view of technology. Sees technology as a product of the fall. An important work nonetheless.

Allen Emerson and Cheryl Forbes 1990. The Invasion of the Computer Culture (Leicester: IVP)
An examination of some of the key questions the computer culture has forced upon us. They also offer practical ways that computers can be used without being seduced by the bad. This should be required reading for all Christians who use computers! 

David H. Kim et al. 2016. The Wonder and Fear of Technology. Center for Faith and Work

Allan Jiggins 1988. Human Future: Living as Christians in a High-Tech World (London: Scripture Union, 1988)
A useful introductory book.

David Lyon 1986. The Silicon Society (Tring: Lion)
An insightful Christian critique of the computer culture.

Stephen V Monsma, (ed). 1986. Responsible Technology: A Christian Perspective. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 
An indispensable book. If you only read one book on technology it should be this one!

Carl Mitcham and Jim Grote, eds. 1984. Theology and Technology: Essays in Christian Analysis and Exegesis (New York: University Press of America)
Has an extensive annotated bibliography, as well as containing useful articles by Ellul and Egbert Schurmann among others. 

Parker Rossman and Richard Kirby 1990. Christians and the World of Computers: Professional and Social Excellence in the Computer World (London: SCM) 
A study book; each chapter comes with suggestions for study and reading.

David Pullinger 2001. Information Technology and Cyberspace: Extra-connected living. (London, Darton, Longman & Todd)

Hendrick van Riessen The Society of the Future (Presbyterian and Reformed, no date)

 Byron Borger has a review/ summary of the book here.
 A website to support the book is here. My review is here

1977, 1983 Reflections on the Technological Society. Toronto: Wedge Pub.
1980 Technology and the Future -- A Philosophical Challenge. Toronto: Wedge Pub
Not an easy read but well worth persevering with. Presents a Christian critique of Junger, Heidegger, Ellul, Meyer, Weiner, Steinbuch and Klaus.
1987 Christians in Babel. Jordan Station: Paideia Press.
1990 The Future: Our Choice or Gods Gift? Exile Publications, Wellington, New Zealand.
1994, 1995 Perspectives on Technology and Culture. IRS Press, South Africa/ Dordt Press, USA.
1995 The Technological Culture between the Times -A Christian Philosophical Assessment of Contemporary Society. Dordt Press.
2000 Faith and Hope in Technology. Toronto, Canada, 2003.
2005 The Technological World Picture and an Ethics of Responsibility: Struggles in the Ethics of Technology. Dordt College Press.
Schuurman writes from a reformational perspective; his books are essential reading for all those who want to see what a Christian approach looks like.

Schultze, Quentin.  Habits of the High-Tech Heart: Living Virtuously in the Information Age. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Quentin J. Schultze and Robert H. Woods Jr. (eds) 2008. Understanding Evangelical Media. IVP.

Robert A. Wauzzinski 2001. Discerning Prometheus: The Cry for Wisdom on Our Technological Society. London: Associated Press.

Chapters in books
Egbert Schuurman:
   1984 A Christian Philosophical Perspective on Technology. In C. Mitcham and J. Grote (eds), Theology and Technology, New York: University Press of America, pp. 107- 123.
   1987 The Modern Babylonian Culture. In P. Durbin (ed.) Technology and Responsibility. Dordrecht: Reidel, pp. 229-243
  1992 Crisis in Agriculture: Philosophical Perspective on the relation between Agriculture and Nature. In F. Ferr (ed.) Research in Philosophy and Technology -- Technology and the Environment London: Jai Press, pp. 191-213;

Charles Adams

  1980. "Engineering in Reformed perspective." Pro Rege 9 (September): 9-21.
  1991. "Automobiles, computers and assault riflesPro Rege 19(3) (March): 1-7.
  1997. "Galileo, biotechnology, and epistemological humility.Pro Rege 35(3) (March): 1-19.
  1995. "Transcending technophilia and technophobia: a Reformational perspective on technology." Christian Educators Journal 35 (October): 2-3.
  2013. "Teaching technical engineering courses from a Christian perspective: Two examples." Pro Rege 41 (March): 1-11.

Willis Alberda 1984. "Norms for an information age." Pro Rege 13:22-28.

Andrew Basden

  2003. with A. Trevor Wood-Harper A Philosophical Enrichment of CATWOE

Elwood Bass 1974. "Science, technology and society - a historical perspective." Pro Rege 2:  11-18

Steve Bishop 'Towards a Christian approach to technologySpectrum 23 (1991) 9-15

Steve Bishop 'The religious dimension of technologyRE Today 10 (3) 1993

J. D. R. de Raadt. 1998. A New Management of Life. Toronto Series in Theology (Vol. 75). Lampeter: Edwin Mellen.

Ken Funk 2007. "Thinking critically about technologyPSCF 

Calvin Jongsma 1985. "Responsible technology: the challenge of our age." Pro Rege 13: 7-11.

Vanden House 1997. "In the beginning was Information." Pro Rege 25(4) (June): 19-28.

David Lyon 1997. "Spiders, flies and the Internet." Pro Rege 25(4) (June): 9-17.

David Lyon 1985. 'From Pacman to Homelink: Information technology and social ethics' Faith and Thought vol. 111 (1) (April 1985) 12-21

Paul Marshall 1986. 'Modern technology: idol or divine gift?' Evangelical Review of Theology vol. 10 (1986) 258-69.

David Pullinger 2004. Information technology: the ethical task.Gospel and Culture Newsletter. 21 (2004) 
Russell Maatman 1984. "The validity of science and technology." Pro Rege 13: 14-21..

Byron Newberry 2005. "The Challenge of Vocation in Engineering Education," Christian Scholar’s Review 35(1): 49-62.

David Pullinger 2003. The impact of information technology on human identity The Bible in Transmission Summer 2003 

Derek C. Schuurman 

        2007. "Forming a Christian view of computer technology." Journal of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences (ACMS).
        2012. "Technology has a message." Christian Educators Journal 51(3): 4-7.
                "A summary of a Christian perspective on computer science"
        2017 "Technology and the Biblical Story", Pro Rege, Vol. 46, No. 1, September 2017, pp. 4-11.
        2017.  "Modern Devices and Ancient Disciplines", Faith Today, November/December 2017, pp. 39-41.

Egbert Schuurman:

  1979. Technology in a christian-philosophical perspective (ICS - republished in (1984))
  1980. Futurology or eschatology Vanguard 10 (1): 8-11
  1993. Technicism and the dynamics of creation. Philosophia Reformata 58: 185-191.A confrontation with technicism as the spiritual climate of the WestWestminster Theological Journal 58 (1): 64-84.
  1997. Philosophical and technological problems of technicism and genetic engineeringPhilosophical and Ethical Problems of Genetic Engineering Techne, Electronic Journal of The Society for Philosophy and Technology, vol.3, no. 1,1997.
  2002. The ethics of technology: technological worldview, pictures, motives, values and normstechnology paper presented at Ecology, theology and Judeo-Christian ethics conference
Technology, genetic manipulation, and the future [excerpts from "The Future: Our Choice or God's Gift?"] Public Justice Reports
  2005. The ethics of responsibility paper presented at IS2005 Ethics: Person, Practices and Society Conference
  2006. "Struggle in the ethics of technology.Koers 71(1):155-173.

Steven H. VanderLeest 2006. 'Teaching Justice by Emphasizing the Non-neutrality of Technology', JECB 10 (2) 2006:111-128

Quentin J. Schultze 2004. 'Faith, Education and Communication Technology' JECB 8 (1) 2004: 9-21
Wayne Tinga 1985. "Computers and robotics." Pro Rege 13: 2-10.




Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Theo Plantinga - articles on-line

Calvin College have a number of articles by Theo Plantinga on-line:


All Men are Brothers? A Chilling Prospect
Anti-Americanism and Canadian Identity
Assigning Blame in History: The Case of the Holocaust
Birkerts and the Decline of Reading
Bless You: Reflections on Benevolance and Benedictions
Christianity and Visualism
Commemorating Schilder: Have We Learned Anything Yet?
Creation and Novelty
Difference, Modesty, and Sexuality
Farewell to the Rickshaw: Reflections on Autonomy and Automobiles
Giving God a Helping Hand -- and All the Glory, Too
He Who Has an Ear: Reflections on Lecturing to the Impaired
Hot Button Ethics: Reflections on Harassment, Imposition, and Autonomy
Insurance Insurance: A Cartesian Dilemma
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Just Say No: Reflections on a Referendum
Making Room for Ahimsa
Marriage as an Honorific Estate
Mission Accomplished? Some Dangers in Past-Participle Thinking
Narrative Reticence: The Case of Henry Stob
Never Say No: Reinventing Life from a Wheelchair
New Age Thinking and Worldview Attribution
Not Nobody: A Brand-Name Approach to Identity
Please Contact Myself
Pluralism in Education and Health Care: Are There Limits to Open Mindedness?
Protestantism and Progress
Punishment as Public Spectacle
Raw Facts and Wilted Knowledge: An Essay in Practical Epistemology
Redeemer's Charter Change: Why Did It Take So Long?
Subscribers Needed
Taking and Giving Credit
The Inscrutable God and His Detailed Law
The Real Meaning of Kant
The Scoffer and the Believer: Toward a Christian Philosophy of Food Selection
The Truth about the Truth: Reflections on Denominational Exclusivism
There Shall be One Law
What My Hands Have Done: Reflections on Agency
Whatever Happened to Samizdat?
When the Robots Rule
Where Would We Be Without Punishment?
Who Cares? Am I My Brother's Keeper?
Why Dundas Matters
Will the Boys Become Men?

The "new" digital Themelios is out

Newly added to Google reader

I have recently added the following blogs to my google reader - they are worth checking out, not least because the first four link to all of life redeemed - a sign of good taste!

Theo Plantinga (1947-2008)

With Sadness Redeemer shares the news of the death of Dr. Theodore Plantinga

Monday, July 07, 2008

Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department. Dr. Plantinga died peacefully at his home in Dundas on the evening of 4 July.

It is with deep sadness that Redeemer University College announces the death of Dr. Theodore Plantinga, Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department. Dr. Plantinga died peacefully at his home in Dundas on the evening of July 4, 2008 . Visitation will be held in St. James Anglican Church from 6:30 – 8:30 Tuesday evening (137 Melville, Dundas), and a memorial service will be held there on Wednesday at 1 pm.

He will be greatly missed.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

The Shack

The Shack
William P. Young
Windblown Media, 2007

It’s perhaps something of an understatement to say that this book has caused something of a stir. For a book originally written for the author’s children, with no real intent to publish it further it has sold a lot of copies. On 6 July 2008 it was number 5 in’s bestseller list. It hasn’t as yet made such an impact in the UK ranking ‘only’ 671st best selling book on It isn’t available on the book depository site yet.

The story focuses, as Mark Driscoll puts it, on ‘Mack in the Shack’. Mack’s daughter is abducted and apparently cruelly killed in a shack. As a result Mack suffers from a great sadness. One day he receives a letter supposedly from God asking him to meet at the shack. The remainder of the book tells of Mack’s transformation on meeting God as Trinity. The Trinity is portrayed as three persons: ‘A large black woman’ called Papa, ‘A small, distinctively Asian woman’ whose voice sang; ‘this wiry-looking was maybe of person of northern Chinese or Nepalese or even Mongolian ethnicity. It was hard to tell because his eyes had to work to see her at all’ (p 85), and Jesus ,‘He appeared Middle eastern and was dressed like a laborer, complete with tool belt and gloves’ (p 84). It is this depiction of the Trinity that has caused such a theological stir and accusations of heresy.

Despite selling so well – or perhaps because of – there have been a number of objections to the theology lying behind it. One of the most vociferous is Mark Driscoll. Driscoll describes the book as being about the Trinity – it’s not; although the Trinity appears a lot. It is the story of a wounded person being transformed by the love of God as revealed through a trinity.

Driscoll has four main objections. In what follows I will make a 'knee-jerk' response to his points.

1. It makes a graven image of God
To show God the father as a human being is wrong – it is ‘graven imagery’. If this were the case then what about C S Lewis’s Narnia series, God/ Jesus is portrayed as a single lion, is that too a graven image. And what about the descriptions of God in the Bible? Isn’t Young doing the same as them? He hasn’t constructed some metal monster, or even a painted image does this mean that any art that depicts God is breaking this command?

2.It’s goddess worship – God appears as a black woman called ‘Papa’.
God reveals himself as a father, we should worship him as father claims Driscoll. But yet God does sometimes reveal himself in feminine terms: cf Is 49:15 and El Shaddai – the all sufficient one – shad is translated 24 times in the OT as breast, a mother’s breast is all sufficient for her children. Humans are also created in the image of God male and female.

3. Modalism
There is some truth in this accusation – at times the Trinity is depicted in modalistic terms. Particularly the point where Papa reveals the nail scars on his/her hands. Young commenting on this say he had in mind 2 Cor 5:19. Though this is a misinterpretation of this scripture.

The view of the trinity in The Shack is more tri-theism (the idea that there are three separate Gods) than modalism.

4. The Trinity is in a circle of relationship
Driscoll is showing his theological colours here- he seems to accept the concept of subordination within the Trinity. Young does not as this quote shows:

Papa speaks: ‘Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain of being’ as your ancestors termed it. What you are seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power. We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us.’ (p 122)

Subordination is a doctrine that maintains that there is a hierarchy within the Trinity. It was popular among Platonist church fathers such as Origen, it fitted in with the great chain of being. Subordinationism is making a comeback among evangelicals in recent decades (eg in Grudem’s Systematic Theology). Primarily, I suspect to provide a basis for the complementarian model of the family. Not surprisingly complementarins are not happy with The Shack; egalitarians seem to like it, it is for sale at Christian for Biblical Equality site.

A rejection of subordination is not however heresy! See for example the work of Kevin Giles who maintains that subordination is a deviation from orthodoxy.

Most of the objections against The Shack I suspect would evaporate if basic hermeneutical principles were used. What type of literature is The Shack? It is certainly not a systematic theology or a monograph on the Trinity! It is a work of fiction, a novel. What is its primary focus? It is not to teach us about the Trinity, it is to show the love and grace of a triune God. I suspect that if 99% of all Christian were asked to describe how they understood God as Trinity they would fall into some error, be it modalism, tritheism, sabellianism, arianism or …. .

Since reading The Shack I have had more discussions with people about the Trinity than in the last decade! That can’t be a bad thing. Love it or hate it The Shack can’t be avoided – flawed as it is it can be the basis for excellent basis for theological discussion.

Further discussion can be found here

Mark Driscoll from You Tube
Al Mohler (against)
Tim Challies's review (against)
Regent College (moderate for)
Beholding him video review (part 2 here)
The Shack review - accuses The Shack of universalism

A response to some of the heretical accusations is here by Wayne Jacobsen

Interview with Young
and here

Saturday, 5 July 2008

What do your (NT) commentaries say about you?

Here are a list of my NT hard copy (ie books) commentaries - I've been sorting my bookshelves. I've not included the commentaries on the whole Bible. There are some glaring omissions - wot no pastorals?!
I wonder what the list says about me?

If money were no object - if only! What recommendations would you make?



Wright (SPCK …for Everyone)



Sanday and Headlam

1 Corinthians
Hodge (& 2 Cor)

2 Corinthians

Grayston (with Philipians)
Calvin (with Eph, Phil & Col)


Colossians & Philemon


1 & 2 Thessalonians

1 & 2 Timothy
None for the above

1 Peter

2 Peter
1-3 John
None for the above


Work – a Bible study

The purpose of this Bible study is:
• To hear what the Bible has to say about work
• To start to develop a Christian view of work; and
• To help each other to become more Christian in our work

Points to consider
1. Why do we work?

2. Is God concerned about our work?

3. Which of the following are work and which are not? Why?

Cleaning the bathroom
Watching TV
Washing dishes
Stamp collecting
Surfing the Internet

4. Are there any jobs more important than others?

5. Are there any jobs more ‘spiritual’ than others?

Genesis 2:2
Psalm 8:3-6
Psalm 90:16,7
Does God work?

Genesis 1: 27-28
What does imaging God involve?

Genesis 2:15
Is work a result of the fall?

Genesis 3:17-19
What effect did the fall have upon work?

Exodus 20:9
Has the fall removed the privilege of work?

Isaiah 28:23-26
What help can we expect from God in our work?

Proverbs 6:6
2 Thess 3:10
Is it sinful to be unemployed?

Proverbs 31:10-31
Are there any jobs that a man/ woman can do that a woman/ man cannot

Rev 14:13
Is 65:22-25
Will we work on the new earth?
Will there be any jobs we won’t need on the new earth?

Final points to consider

1. Are there any jobs a Christian should not do?

2. Should we be fulfilled in our work? If we are not what can we do about it?

3. How can we be more Christian in our work?

4. How can we support each other in our respective work?