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, 29 December 2008

Philosophia Reformata 73(2008) No 2 is out

The latest issue of Philosophia Reformata is now out. It contains papers by Andrew Basden, Dick Stafleu, Lambert Zuidervaart and Jonathan Chaplin. It also has my review of B J van der Walt's When African and Western Cultures Meet.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

David Wayne - the Jolly Blogger - needs our prayers

David Wayne needs our prayers - he has colonic cancer which has spread to his liver. He has had surgery over Christmas and now is waiting for chemo. Updates here.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

At last ....

... the on-line event of the century: Dooyeweerd's magnum opus is now on-line:

Dooyeweerd H. A New Critique of Theoretical Thought I-II
PDF(pdf file 53 meg)

Dooyeweerd H. A New Critique of Theoretical Thought III-IV
PDF(pdf file 7 meg)

Thanks to Kerry Hollingsworth at Reformational Publishing Project

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A Christmas reflection by Roy Clouser

Perhaps it’s just a sign of age, but every year I find the Christmas story more emotionally power-packed than the year before.

Sure, its celebration has been grossly commercialized, cheapened by over- decoration, by slickly packaged for movies and TV, and even declared illegal in government buildings. It’s been badly eclipsed by the charming 19th century fairy story a New England father wrote for his children. But – so far, at least – it hasn’t been completely stifled. Just when it seems about to be replaced by its own trappings, the real story shines through again: a section of The Messiah on the radio, the words of a carol in a shopping mall, a picture on a greeting card, or Linus’ moving recital of Luke 2 in Charley Brown’s Christmas.

What hit me this year harder than ever before was how the central characters of that story are such absolutely ordinary folk going about their everyday lives, and how its message is so clearly for us ordinary folk going about our everyday lives. We now think of Mary and Joseph as saints, but to their friends and relatives they were no different from thousands of other pious Jews awaiting the coming of the Messiah. The baby Jesus looked and behaved like any other newborn. The business about the birth being in a stable, and their having to use a manger for a crib, shows how far they were from being celebrities.

To be sure, the birth itself was a miracle. But at the time only Mary and Joseph knew that. The only other thing that was out of the ordinary was the appearance of angels to announce the birth. And look where they went to do it! They didn’t go to Rome to talk with the Emperor, or to Jerusalem to discuss theology with the Chief Priest; they didn’t appear to the loyal Jewish underground seeking to overthrow oppressive Roman rule, or to historians to make sure all was recorded properly. Instead they went a couple of Joe Average blue-collar workers who’d pulled the night shift on a Judean hillside – men who are not even named in the story!

By having the angels declare the Great Gift from heaven in this way God shows us just what he thinks of human power, fame, wealth, pomp, and wisdom. He says, in effect, that since his gift is to all people it just won’t matter which ones he picks to be the representative recipients of his birth announcement.

Every year I feel more like a shepherd.

Roy Clouser

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Odds and sods

David Kyozis takes a look at friendship.  His first post is here.

Rattlesnake6 looks at what Herman Bavinck had to say about revelation and culture. He warns:

There is a movement afoot today for Christians to be more involved in culture and cultural activities. I applaud that initiative and hope and pray that more Christians will become truly involved with “the arts.” I have a proviso, though. As Christians engage in “the arts” they will not jettison, compromise, or neglect good theology in the process. ...

It is unwise, according to Bavinck, to go off half-cocked or with some half-baked notion of engaging the culture. First and foremost, he challenges us to do justice to the rights and requirements of the Christian confession.

Not sure what novel to read next? Then try to find some suggestions.

Losing the Big Picture: How Religion May Control Visual Attention by Lorenza S. Colzato1, Wery P. M. van den Wildenberg and Bernhard Hommel1:


Despite the abundance of evidence that human perception is penetrated by beliefs and expectations, scientific research so far has entirely neglected the possible impact of religious background on attention. Here we show that Dutch Calvinists and atheists, brought up in the same country and culture and controlled for race, intelligence, sex, and age, differ with respect to the way they attend to and process the global and local features of complex visual stimuli: Calvinists attend less to global aspects of perceived events, which fits with the idea that people’s attentional processing style reflects possible biases rewarded by their religious belief system.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Themelios 33 (3) is now out

The latest edition of Themelios is now out.  It includes an article by Tim Keller and book reviews of Culture Making and Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Paideia Centre for Public Theology

The Paideia Centre for Public Theology is an academic Christian study centre committed to relating the Gospel to all areas of life. Christ is the “author of life” and thus holds the key to life “under the sun.” But this clue needs to be pursued with all the rigor we can muster and that includes the highest levels of academia. Rooted in spirituality and liturgy, and in the context of intellectual community, the focus of the Centre is academic work from an overtly Christian perspective.

Al Wolters, Craig Bartholomew, Elaine Botha, Ryan O'Dowd and others are all involved.
On the site are papers by Bartholomew and Wolters - it is well worth checking out.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Music for a Sunday morning

John Cale shows how it should be done:

But check out Jeff Buckley's version here. Fantastic!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

My Best Books of 2008

It's the time of year to compile lists. Here's my list of best books for 2008 - in reverse order of reading:

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Gordon Spykman articles

I've recently added some papers by Gordon Spykman to allofliferedeemed:

  • 1982. 'Beyond words to action' in Confessing Christ and Doing Politics ed. James Skillen (CPJ: Washington)
  • 1984. How is scripture normative in Christian ethics? In The Interpretation of Scripture Today: RES Theological Conference, Chicago 1984. Grand Rapids, MI.: Reformed Ecumenical Synod, 1984 (pp. 39-57).
  • 1992. Theology queen or servant? Orientation: international circular of the PU for CHE; nos. 63-66. 13-23.
  • A Confessional Hermeneutic Alternative to the Historical-Critical Method. The Reformed Ecumenical Synod Theological Bulletin (December), Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 1-13.
My thanks to Geoff Wilson for scanning 4, Jim Skillen for permission for 1 and Bennie van der Walt for making materials available.

Richard Middleton on worldview and transformation

"Worldview thinking is not primarily about ideas, it is about discipleship ... how you think in this world has to do about how you live ..."

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Resources for a Christian approach to economics


Andy Hartropp. 1997. "Christianity and Economics: an Annotated Bibliography", Association of Christian Economists December

Bruce C Wearne Cultivating Care within a Vulnerable Economy: an annotated bibliography of the English writings of Bob Goudzwaard 1967-2008
A full bibliography of Christian economist Bob Goudzwaard's English writings - contains links to most of his works.

Books and articles

Henk Aay & Ab Van Langevelde, 2005.
A Dooyeweerd-Based Approach To Regional Economic Development,"
Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie,
Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG
, vol. 96(2), pages 184-198, 04

Cramp, A B. "In what sphere is economics sovereign?" In: Social science in Christian Perspective. Paul A Marshall and Robert E Vandervennen, eds. Lanham: University Press of America, 1988, pp. 199-217.

Cramp, A B. Notes towards a Christian critique of secular economic theory. Toronto: Institute for Christian Studies, 1975. Toronto: Wedge; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979.

Kenneth Elzinga. 1981. "A Christian View of Economic Order",
Reformed Journal
, Vol. 31, pp. 13-16.

Gay, Craig M. 1991. With Liberty and Justice for Whom? The recent evangelical debate over capitalism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Bob Goudzwaard and Harry de Lange 1994. Beyond poverty and affluence. Toward an economy of care. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Bob Goudzwaard. Capitalism and Progress: A Diagnosis of Western Society.

Bob Goudzwaard.1984. Idols of our Time. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

Graham, W Fred, George N Monsma, Carl J Sinke, Alan Storkey, John P Tiemstra. 1986. Reforming Economics: A Christian Perspective on Economic Theory and Practice. Grand Rapids: Calvin College Center for Christian Scholarship.

Graham, W Fred. 1971. The constructive revolutionary: John Calvin and his socio-economic impact. Richmond: John Knox Press.

Adolfo García de la Sienra. 2008. 'The economic sphere'

Donald A. Hay. 1989. Economics Today: a Christian Critique. Apollos, Leicester.

E. L. Hebden Taylor 1978. Economics, Money, and Banking. Craig Press.

Hoksbergen,  Roland 1992. "A Reformed Approach to Economics: The Kuyperian Tradition" Bulletin of the Association of Christian Economists 20 (Fall): 7-27.

Kuyper, Abraham 1991. The Problem of Poverty. Grand Rapids: Baker.

Langevelde, Ab van, 1997. "Bilingualism and economic development in west European minority language regions: a Dooyeweerdian approach," Research Report
97C39, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).

Paul Marshall. 1985. "A Christian view of economics." Crux 21, pp. 1:3-7.

Monsma, George N. 1988. "A Christian critique of neo-classical welfare economics." In: Social science in Christian perspective. Paul A Marshall and Robert E Vandervennen, eds. Lanham: University Press of America, pp. 287-302.

George N. Monsma. 'Christian faith and economic theorising'. In John B. Hulst ed. Christian Worldview and Scholarship. Eltham, Victoria: Amani Educational services.

Alan Storkey 1986. Transforming Economics: a Christian Way to Employment. London: SPCK.

Alan Storkey 1993. Foundational Epistemologies in Consumption Theory. VU University Press: Amsterdam.

D F M Strauss. 1997. Capitalism and Economic Theory in social philosophic perspective. In: Journal for Christian Scholarship, 1st & 2nd Quarter, pp.85-106.

John P. Tiemstra. 1993. "Christianity and Economics: A Review of the Recent Literature." Christian Scholar’s Review 22 (1993) 3:227-247.

John P. Tiemstra 1998. "Why do economists disagree?". Signposts of God's Liberating Kingdom: perspectives for the 21st century. Potchefstroom: Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education. Insitute for Reformational Studies.

B. J. van der Walt. 1991. "Norms, means and ends; a reformational approach to economics". Anatomy of Reformation: Flashes and Fragments of a Reformational Worldview. Ch 21.

B. J. van der Walt. 1999. The tyranny of the neo-capitalist free market economy. Religion and Society: Christian involvement in the public square. Wetenskaplike bydraes van die PU vir CHO. Reeks F3, Versamelwerke ; no. 50. Potchefstroom: PU vir CHO. Ch4.

B. J. van der Walt. 2003. Towards a normative economy. Understanding and Rebuilding Africa: From Desperation Today to Expectation for Tomorrow. Potchefstroom: Institute for Contemporary Christianity in Africa. Ch 18.

B. J. van der Walt. 2004. ‘The Bible on poverty and wealth our task as Christians’. Woord en Daad/ Word and Action 44 (388): 9-12.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Jaap Klapwijk pages

I have now launched the Jaap Klapwijk pages on All of life redeemed.

Jaap studied under Vollenhoven and was professor of systematic philosophy at the VU-University, Amsterdam. He is the author of the recently published Purpose in the Living World? Cambridge University Press.

On-line are the following articles:

1991. Antithesis and Common Grace, in: J. Klapwijk , S. Griffioen and G. Groenewoud (eds.), Bringing into Captivity every Thought (Lanham: University Press of America, 1991), pp.169-190.

1991. Epilogue: The Idea of Transformational Philosophy, in: J. Klapwijk et al. (eds.), Bringing into Captivity every Thought (Lanham: University Press of America, 1991), pp.241-266.

1980. The Struggle for a Christian Philosophy/Dooyeweerd's Christian Philosophy: in: The Reformed Journal 30, 2/3 (1980), pp. 12-15; 20-24.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Derek Melleby interviewed

Derek Melleby, one of the authors of The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness, is interviewed here by Kara Powell. 

Introducing Reality Bites

Reality Bites is the national training ministry of the West Yorkshire School of Christian Studies (WYSOCS, founded in 1986).

Reality Bites has conducted about 38 different training events since we began in 2006. This includes work for Urban Saints, Leeds Faith in Schools, Youthwork the Conference, the Bradford Diocesan Day, the Luton Churches Education Trust, Chelmsford and District Evangelical Fellowship Schools and Youth Ministries, Keswick ministries and other Christian organizations.

We provide training and resources for youth workers, schools workers and all those involved in mission and education. Our passion is to help youthworkers and schoolsworkers to become confident disciples who can engage with young people in a mature way that isn’t cheesy, embarrassing or irrelevant. We believe that this boils down to three key skills.

  • Telling stories that inspire faith and reinchant the world
  • Telling stories that challenge idolatry
  • Asking subversive questions that challenge hidden secular worldviews

Our ministry grew out of a recognition that it is increasingly difficult to reach unchurched young people with traditional methods. They switch off when you start talking about the Bible. We love the Bible, but we believe that we must explore fresh and imaginative ways of introducing the Christian faith.

Telling powerful, dramatic stories is a great way to begin. For example in 1867 Fijian cannibals murdered, cooked and ate an English missionary. A contemporary cannibal stated that ”we ate everything but his boots”. The descendents of these cannibals have now asked the descendents of the Rev Thomas Baker to forgive them. This act of repentance and others like it have led to an amazing revival in Fiji. Communities have experienced transformation and the creation itself is being renewed and healed. Tremendous quantities of fish are returning to once barren waters. Fruit and vegetables are growing in abundance and unprecedented size. There are numerous eyewitness accounts of these ‘nature miracles’.

This story can be told very effectively by using a powerpoint presentation which is highly visual and captivating. You show photographs of the cannibals, Fijian beaches, battle axes and boots. In ten minutes you have told them the story. Then you ask them to tell you their stories and before you know it you have created an atmosphere of curiosity and fascination. All kinds of issues emerge. How did cannibals cook their victims? Were the missionaries intolerant when they told the cannibals to love their enemies rather than eat them? What exactly is repentance? What was the belief-system of the indigenous Fijians? And is God angry when we sin by having our neighbours for lunch?

Our ministry is beginning to have an impact in the United Kingdom. In 2007 we trained 500 Urban Saints leaders in this new way of reaching young people and the response has been very positive. A youth worker in Devon has used some of the material and told us that it has ‘turned the group around’. Another leading youth worker told us –

    I’m writing to let you know how helpful I’m finding the Reality Bites material in youth ministry. I recently did a talk on money, sex and power to a group aged 15 plus. Exasperated over what to base the teaching on, I looked at some of the stories of the characters that Rocky has put together. The young people were fascinated. It made me aware of the benefits of the lost art of story telling, and I for one will continue to use this excellent resource, and promote it amongst those I work with. Indeed, whenever I’m looking for a way of tackling a subject to teach on, one of the first places I turn to is Reality Bites.

Reality Bites, in collaboration with Urban Saints, has now finished a Worldview/ Story course for youth workers that can be used with unchurched young people. Some of the stories are about inspiring, culture-transforming Christians. Others concern mad, eccentric people who have wasted their lives because of their idolatries and obsessions. Further to this there are entertaining stories that you can find in films, television programmes, newspapers and adverts. The course doesn’t only provide stories. It includes role plays, video clips, meditations, prayers, Bible studies and suggestions for heated debate!

Who are we?

ARTHUR JONES BSc, MEd, PhD, CBiol, MIBiol is WYSOCS’ Senior Tutor and works with Mark Roques in the Reality Bites programme. He is the Chair of the Association of Christian Teachers ( and Course Leader for the Stapleford Centre postgraduate distance-learning course Faith in Schools ( A teaching career spanning more than 30 years included ten years in India and Nepal, and the headship of a pioneering Christian school in Bristol. He is the author of Science in Faith: A Christian Perspective on Teaching Science and No Home & Alone: A School Programme on Homelessness.

MARK ROQUES BA, MPhil, PGCE is a WYSOCS’ tutor, a great story-teller (see, and speaks at conferences in the UK and overseas. He taught philosophy and RE for many years, and 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.

Contact us at mark dot roques at ntlworld dot com

WYSOCS, Outwood House, Outwood Lane, Leeds LS18 4HR Registered Charity: 271987

Our brand new website Reality Bites will be up and running in January 2009.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Odds and sods

John Drane and Olive Fleming Drane are now blogging as "church mice".

Michael Wittmer is blogging for a brief time on the Zondervan's Koinonia blog to promote his recent book Don't Stop Believing.

Paul Copan has a great piece on the first Christmas: myth and reality at Parchment and Pen.

Jake Belder reviews Bible Study Magazine from Logos

Lillie Jenkins at reviews Reality Bites' Mark Roques' excellent new 20 module worldview course for youth ministers.
The course is available here.

Arthur Jones explains why he is a creationists and why creationiam isn't a science stopper here.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Michael Wittmer on Brian McLaren

Michael Wittmer has posted his ETS paper on Brian McLaren here. He sees McLaren as saying similar things as the liberals of the 1920s. Wittmer's critique is not a knee-jerk response, it is well argued and considerate.

Wittmer's blog, Don't stop believing, is well worth adding to google reader.