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.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

My best books of 2009

It's that time of year again - the time to compile 'best of' lists. I was thinking of my best books of 2009 and most of them weren't published in 2009. I'm a bit slow catching up with my reading - and then along came a whole tranche of excellent books towards the end of the year. So, my best books, in no particular order:

Jim Belcher Deep Church
Jamie K A Smith Desiring the Kingdom
Mike Goheen and Erin Glanville (eds) Exploring the Religious Roots of a Globalized World
B J van der Walt At Home in God's World
Danie Strauss Philosophy: Discipline of Disciplines
Robert Knudsen Roots and Branches: The Quest for Meaning
H. Evan Runner Walking in the way of the Word
Albert Weideman Beyond Expression
Egbert Schuurman Technology and the Future
Willem Ouweneel Heart and Soul

Here are my best books of 2008

Thursday, 17 December 2009

WYSOCS AGM, globalisation and Newbigin

We had a great time at the WYSOCS AGM last Saturday.

Mike Goheen spoke three times over the weekend. The first session was on globalisation. He took a refreshing approach.   Globalisation is the outworking of the cultural mandate, to spread out spatially and globally - however, it has become distorted and misdirected. It has become shaped by economic idolatry. It has deep religious roots that can't be ignored.

His second session was on Newbigin and his desire for the 'laity' to fulfill their cultural callings. This session crystalised a numebr of key themes for me, discipleship, mission and worldview. Below are some of my notes for this session.

Unfortunately, I missed the third session on Sunday evening.

A neglected area of congregational life Newbigin's plea for training Christian for their cultural callings

Newbigin's understanding of mission

Mission: all of life bears witness to the gospel. Jn 20:21
God's people are a sent people - we can distinguish certain aspects
  • Evangelism as words
  • Deeds, mercy and justice
  • Missions
  • Various callings in culture

The latter he saw as the primary witness.

It's not (just)
  • Evangelism at work
  • Personal ethics - don't steal rubber bands; don't cheat on taxes; don't commit adultery with your secretary etc.
It is:
  • Living out God's creational intent for those areas of creational life

It's the primary witness, but it is the most neglected. It is also one of the hardest things to put into effect.

The church “must equip its members for active and informed participation in the public life of society in such a way that the Christian faith shapes that participation” (Newbigin Public Truth).

". . . a farmer who farms his land but neglects to say his prayers will be certainly condemned by Christians as failing in his duty. But a farmer who says his prayers, and allows weeds, bad drainage, or soil erosion to spoil his land, is failing in his primary duty as a churchman. His primary ministry in the total life of the body of Christ is to care rightly for the land entrusted to him. If he fails there, he fails in his primary Christian task"  (Newbigin 1952 The Christian Layman in the world and in the Church).

How can we do it?

Formation of structures that equip for callings
  • Study centre
  • Conferences
  • Frontier groups
  • Leadership that enables training folk for their callings

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Lesslie Newbigin 1909-1998

Apparently today is the centenary of the birth of Lesslie Newbigin. To celebrate the fact Lawrence Osborn of Theosblog has posted an appreciation.

Robert Bradshaw has recently been adding pdfs of the journal Reformation & Revival. Recently added are two contributions from Mike Goheen - both not unrelated to Newbiggin:

Michael W. Goheen, "The Legacy of Lesslie Newbigin for Today," Reformation & Revival 14.3 (2005): 49-63.

Michael W. Goheen, "A Missionart Encounter with Western Culture," Reformation & Revival 15.1 (2006): 155-171.

Mike is at WYSOCS this weekend.

Saturday 12th December, 10am - 2pm

The Religious and Historical Roots of Globalisation

This Lecture is scheduled as part 2 of the WYSOCS Charity’s AGM event. The AGM is part 1 and Lunch is part 3. All are welcome.

Saturday 12th December, at 7 for 8pm

A Neglected Aspect of Congregational Care: Newbigin's Plea for Training Laity for their Cultural Callings

Dessert and Coffee will be served from 7pm.
Clergy, elders and deacons especially welcome!

Sunday 13th December, at 8pm

Reading the Bible as One Story

A light supper will be served at the end of the evening.
Students especially welcome.

Venue: Outwood House, Outwood Lane, Horsforth, Leeds.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Creation out of Nothing by Copan and Lane Craig

Creation out of Nothing: a Biblical, Philosophical and Scientific Exploration
Paul Copan and William Lane Craig

Leicester/ Grand Rapids: Apollos/ Baker Academic, 2004. 280pp. pb.
£14.99 ISBN 1-84474-038-2

Creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) is an important doctrine that has come under fire in recent decades from theologians such as Gerhard May and scientist-theologians such as Ian Barbour. May contends that creation ex nihilo is biblically ambiguous and that it was a second-century response to Gnostic ideas; Barbour rejects it in favour of an absolute dependence of the universe on God.

It is in response to these ideas that Copan and Craig have teamed up to write this inter-disciplinary book. They show that creation out of nothing is biblical, and scientifically and philosophically grounded. They don’t explore the rich theological implications of creatio ex nihilo but do show that there is a very strong cumulative case for the doctrine and contra May it is a thoroughly biblical one.

The first three chapters explore the Old Testament, the New Testament and much of the extra-biblical evidence. At times these chapters read like a rich mosaic of commentators, but the conclusion in each one is that creation out of nothing is not a second-century invention; it is implicit in both testaments as well as explicit in the Jewish and early Christian writings.

The second half of the book (chapters 4-8) deals with scientific and philosophical arguments. Chapter 5 exposes the error that many – such as Barbour – make in conflating conservation and creation: ‘Creation is distinct from conservation in that creation does not presuppose a patient entity but involves God’s bringing something into being’ (165).

Chapter 5 explores the problem of the creation of abstract objects such as mathematics concepts. They examine three possible solutions: absolute creationism (which seems to be anything but absolute!), fictionalism and conceptualism. They conclude that much creative work is being done and still remains to be done on this issue; hence, they are not prepared to pronounce judgment over which solution is the most plausible. (I’m tempted to say none of the three they mention!)

The impossibility of an infinite past is explored in Chapter 6. Chapter 7 examines two broad lines of scientific evidence that the universe is not eternal and that it had an origin a finite time ago. The first of these evidences is the expansion of the universe and the standard big bang model of creation; the second, thermodynamics.

The final chapter examines naturalistic alternatives to creation ex nihilo; namely, that the universe created itself and that the universe sprung into existence uncaused out of nothing. Here they ably show the fallacious nature of these arguments.

One need not agree with all their arguments, but Copan and Craig have provided an excellent, inter-disciplinary and timely cumulative case for creatio ex nihilo.

Review originally published in Science and Christian Belief  18(1) (2006)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: epilogue

DCF Epilogue

Epilogue: the sea of faith – Darwin didn’t drain it R. J. Berry and T. A. Noble

Taking a metaphor from Matthew Arnold's 'On Dover Beach' and popularised by Don Cupitt, Berry and Noble maintain that faith is still unscathed by Darwin's ideas. This book is an attempt to show that. Even tricky doctrines like the fall and Adam and Eve can be salvaged in the light of Darwin.  But I wonder at what cost?

The strength of this book is that within a narrow range we have diverse views. Some see the fall as a cosmic event, others as an an event without cosmic implications, but an event in time nonetheless. Adam has different roles, for Blocher he is an historic person, for others they 'cannot rule out the existence of a historic Adam'. For some Adam is the ancestor of us all for others he is a federal head. However, this range of views is a weakness of the book. There is sadly no discussion and critique of each other's views. There is no attempt ot come to a consensus.

Throughout the book the views of Patricia Williams and Christopher Southgate are briefly mentioned and critiqued. Their shadow is felt.  It would I would have liked to have seen a fuller engagement with their work. Next to Darwin and Augustine, their names occur most often in the index. And it is their work that has most recently outlined the evolutionary challenge to a traditional Christian theology of the fall.  Williams dismisses it and rewrites theology, whereas Southgate rejects a historical fall as being a 'spurious reading', a general condition rather than a chronological event.

The unexpressed presupposition is that Darwin was largely right and evolution is correct. However, they don't express which view of evolution they adhere to. There is no clear scientific consensus; we have a wide range of views from naturalistic evolutionism (which obviously they dissent from) to theistic evolution. However, which form of theistic evolution do they accept? Is it a form of structuralism, cladism, punctuated equilbrium, neo-Darwinism or what? How does God work through evolutionary chance(?) processes?  Though, to be fair, to address this would mean another book.

It doesn't really fully address the issue of pain and suffering prior to the fall. How are we to reconcile that with the God of the scriptures?  This remains an unanswered question.

Nevertheless, this book provides much food for thought. It will help all those who accept an evolutionary framework attempt to reconcile the fall with evolution.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: chapter 8

Blocher, original sin and evolution Richard Mortimer

Mortimer has recenlty completed a PhD on different interpretations of the fall. Here he looks at Henri Blocher's view of the fall and original sin.

Original sin has been described as 'lack[ing] biblical warrant, is incoherent, unscientific and unhelpful' (p 174) Blocher's work, Mortimer notes, is important because 'Blocher asserts not only the scriptural validity of the doctrine but also its positive value' (p. 174).

Mortimer provides an excellent summary of Blocher's views. 'Blocher affirms the historical schema of creation, fall and redemption. It is the historical fall that is remedied by the historical cross' (p. 183).

Mortimer then looks at the evolutionary challenge to Blocher's views. He takes issue with Blocher's monogenism - the idea that 'Adam and Eve were a literal couple from whom the human race derives' (p. 187); a view he sees as 'inadequate' (p. 191). Polygenism - humans developed in several lines and so not all have Adam as an ancestor - is more in line with the evolutionary synthesis Mortimer maintains. And he is keen to defend polygeneism but hold on to a historic Adam and Eve. (A similar view is held by R J Berry in chapter 2.) To do this he suggests two possible options. One is to see Adam as a federal head, following Derek Kidner and Douglas Spanner; the other is to see, with Karl Rahner, Adam and Eve as representing a population rather than as a couple. Mortimer favours the latter option, but acknowledges it does need to be developed further.

It is a shame that Blocher hasn't responded to this paper. It does seem, from the previous chapter, that Blocher's views have slightly changed; he no longer sees the evidence for Adam and Eve as Cro-Magnons around 40 000 BC as conclusive.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: chapter 7

Theology of the Fall and the origins of evil Henri Blocher

Blocher starts by stating that he is a theologian and an amateur when it comes to science. Nevertheless, this is an issue that he has written about and considered over a number of decades. Not least in his In the Beginning (IVP, 1984).

I was particularly pleased that he spelled out how he sees science and the Bible interacting. We must take the Bible first, in the light of the original intention of the author and then 'Only secondarily should we reflect on the modern relevance of the meaning and any confrontation with contemporary scientific opinion' (p. 150).

He is right to remind us that 'science' is not 'immune from errors, frauds or ideological slant' (p. 151). This is particulalry true to remember in the light of the recent climategate e-mails. One wonders how much we are also kept in the dark about other scientific theories?

It is refreshing to see him unequivocally state that 'Whatever the tensions, the non-historical interpretation of Genesis 3 is no option for a consistent Christian believer' (p. 155).  He briefly discusses James Barr and Christopher Southgate and Moltmann and dismisses their objections and interpretations.

Again, he stresses: 'The issue of historicity here is no peripheral matter for hair-splitting theologians: it is vital for the biblical message - it is the heart of the message' (p. 158); also: 'The issue is not whether we have a historical account of the Fall [no scare quotes here], but whether we have the account of a historical Fall (p. 159).

He then looks at palaeoanthropology and sees what light this can provide in light of the fact that 'A historical Fall is a non-negotiable article of faith' (p. 169). He notes that 20 years ago it looked like human origins could be traced back to 40 000 BC from one centre, but this no longer seems the case. Hence, he concludes that we need not be embarrassed that we have scientific uncertainties we can trust the Creator and Redeemer.

Odds and sods

IVP have a website to complement an interesting book: Should Christians Embrace Evolution?
61 free apps - a useful list from lifehacker
A review of John Walton's Lost World of Genesis One by C John Collins [HT Reformed Academic]
So who created the Internet?
An archive of The January Series lectures at Calvin College is available here. HT Jamie K A Smith, who is the Jan 2010 lecturer.
Baptism debate audio some links from R Scott Clark here.
Swalesy has posted the slides from his recent talk on the idolatry of science and technology here.
The billion pound o-gram a brilliant visual illustration of where our money goes.
Shed loads of apologetics mp3s linked here at Apologetics 315
Byron Borger's list of marriage books
More H Evan Runner resources on-line links via the Runner blog

Friday, 27 November 2009

Buy Nothing Day

[HT Tony Jones]

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: chapter 6

Irenaeus on the Fall and original sin  A. N. S. Lane

I wasn't too familiar with Iranaeus's (c. 115-221AD) view of the fall so this chapter was a welcome addition.

Lane is keen to defend the Irenaeus's view against a number of recent commentators who seem to have misread/used Irenaeus. These include the Dominican Denis Minns.

Irenaeus held that Adam and Eve were not created perfect.  But, this does not mean that they were sinful. He also distinguishes between the image and likeness of God. Adam was created in God's image but the likeness was something he had yet to attain. The likeness was lost and is something that Christ restores.

Minns maintains that for Irenaeus Gen 1-3  was in part symbolic and is thus more in tune with modern understanding than Augustine (p. 140). However, Lane argues that 'Irenaeus's theology is undermined more than most others by the suggestion of a non-historical Adam' (p. 141).

Lane then looks at three important questions when considering the nature of the Fall:
  • Was the world perfect?
  • Were Adam and Eve perfect?
  • Were Adam and Eve immortal?
Lane maintains that the traditional view is not scriptural (p. 143)! His response following Irenaeus is 'No' to each of the above questions. Before the Fall Adam and Eve were not perfect they were on probation, they did not fall from a great height: 'Rather, they were setting out on a path of moral testing and at an early stage they took a wrong turn' (p. 144).  It is not clear from what Lane says that this is a denial of a cosmic fall. He suggests that the language of 'fall' is misleading; it is a wrong turning rather than a fall from a state of perfection.

What concerns me most is that Lane suggests that we ought to be more sympathetic to a nature-supernature approach (p. 146). This might leave the way open to avoid a science-theology conflict over Genesis 1-3, but it would result in more problems than it would solve.

It would have been interesting to have considered why Augustine's view has been the dominant paradigm in theology through the centuries. Why is it that now Irenaeus's view is being reconsidered now? Is it an apologetic response to Darwin? Or is it a fresh understanding of the scriptures? I suspect the former.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: chapter 5

"Original sin and the Fall: definitions and a proposal" T. A. Noble

As Noble rightly states: 'The doctrine of original sin and the doctrine of the Fall are inextricably linked in historic Christianity'. He identifies and briefly discusses ten facets of original sin:
  1. Universal sin
  2. Fallenness
  3. The original act of sin
  4. Original guilt
  5. Original sin as a vitium or disease
  6. Heredity sinfulness
  7. An inner disposition, tendency ot 'bent toward sinning'
  8. The propagation of sin through sexual desire
  9. The flesh
10. Corporate sin

It was good to have these different aspects spelled out; though, of course not all of them - particularly point 8 - are biblical facets. But these concepts have been associated with original sin throughout the ages. As Noble points out this analysis can help towards constructing a more 'concise and coherent' doctrine of original sin.

He then looks at the Fall examining three aspects: alienation, death and sin. He makes an excellent point, that is often forgotten, that we need to interpret the Fall in the light of the New Testament.

The Fall for Noble is an event, a 'spiritual and ethical' event. It can't be seen as an explanation for evil, as evil is 'inexplicable'.  The Fall is not a theodicy, it's not part of apologetics but of dogmatics. It is also an event in time. He unequivocally states that: 'we must maintain a temporal Fall even though the language is prophetic and full of imagery' (p. 115). Though he thinks we may not be able to date it since it 'may not be open to our historical inquiries' (p. 115). Again, 'Quite why Noble thinks this not not quite clear. It may be that he wants to maintain a complementarity between science and revelation. He draws paralles between the parousia and the Fall, both are known through revelation and neither can be known by 'natural human insight, research and investigation'. He almost gets into a sacred/ secular dualism here. He summarises his perspective:

In short, from the viewpoint of natural science and the historical-critical method, both of which methodologically project present conditions into the past and future, the world must look as if it has been fallen and always will be (p. 119)

He then tursn to death. As he rightly states 'death came through sin' (Rom 5:12) 'seems to fly in the face of scientific investigation..' (p. 120) He warns again of taking the doctrines of Christian faith 'as if they were scientific theories'. 

He comes back to consider sin. He sees it as important that we discern two aspects to sin: the acts of sin and the condition of sinfulness.

He concludes by making an excellent point: Darwin 'has created an apologetic problem for the Church, but Christian theology must resist the temptation to be driven by apologetics' (p. 129).  Which begs the question: how much is this book being driven by apologetics in the light of Darwin?

Monday, 23 November 2009

Badger ale, pork pies and guinea pigs

What do the above have in common? Check out Jon Swales on science and technology here to find out (Evening service 22.11.09)

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: chapter 4

God and origins: interpreting the early chapters of Genesis Richard S. Hess

Hess raises the question: 'What does the Bible say about origins?' There is no mention of Darwin or even biology, he focuses solely on the biblical text and of Genesis 1:1-2:4 in particular.

He first places Gn 1:1-2:4 in its literary context and then compares it with other creation stories. The major difference between the biblical and other creation accounts 'is that only Genesis describes one God acting alone without reference to or acknowledgement of other deities' (p. 91).

The first verse of the Bible he sees as a title - 'it does not describe and initial event followed chronologically by the events of verse 2' (p. 93). He gives careful and considered support to a creation out of nothing.

He then turns to the creation of humanity and the terms image and likeness. He understands them as synonyms; the terms are used to describe a statue that represents the king's royal authority. Humans are not statues of God but they do represent his authority, they are to continue his work. They are to continue 'the divine act of creation'.  I appreciated this emphasis as it serves to underline the importance of, in neocalvinist terms, the cultural mandate.

Jesus is the true image of God and in his proclamation of the kingdom the challenge to develop creation is passed on to the church.

He summaries his key points:

  • creation is cosmological
  • the days of creation are logical not chronological
  • creation is not primarily ontological but concerned with life
  • creation climaxes on the seventh day - as a day of rest
  • creation is meant to be 'led and guided by 'adam who is created in God's image as male and female'.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Jubilee 2010

Jubilee from Jubilee on Vimeo.

Check out the jubilee 2010 website and the living jubilee blog

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: chapter 3

Theological challenges faced by Darwin Darrel R. Falk

Falk identifies three theological problems that faced Darwin: a good God bringing forth new species through processes that involved pain and suffering; the implications for God's providence: is God present in random chance events?; and the death of his ten-year-old daughter Annie.

Falk makes a good point that none of the challenges are new.  They are problems of 'natural theology'.  He goes on to claim that Darwin's theory raises no new theological barriers. That may be the case, however, it does, though, bring into sharper focus some issues. for example, it means that suffering is 'natural', evolution depends on suffering. As Berry put it in the preceding chapter: 'physical death was a part of the creation from the beginning' does this mean that suffering was too? This issue has so far been unaddressed.

Friday, 20 November 2009

"If God doesn't exist, everything is permitted"

This is a quote often attributed to Doestoevsky. Apparently, he didn't write or say it. David E. Cortesi has tracked down its origins to Jean Paul Satre who seemingly inadvertently attributed it to Doestoevsky:

"The existentialist...finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven....Dostoevsky once wrote, 'If God did not exist, everything would be permitted...
Unfortunately, he couldn't find a source for Satre's quote!

So, if anyone wants to quote this saying, perhaps it would be better to write: 'As Doestoevsky didn't say ...'

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: chapter 2

2. Did Darwin dethrone humankind?  R. J.Berry

This is the longest chapter in the book and it deals with a number of important issues. Not least the issue of a historic Adam and the meaning of the image of God. Before examining these two important issues Berry looks at the varied reactions to Darwin's theory. He then goes on to look at the 'special nature of humankind in the face of evolutionary science' (p. 61). As Berry notes 'The Fall is the place above all where biology and theology conflict' (p. 72). In this chapter he attempts to reconcile the adam, the fall and evolution.

He suggests that it may be possible to distinguish between humanness emerging gradually and its instaneous 'instantation by God'. These are interesting ideas but he doesn't really develop them fully. He then looks at the question 'Did God make a single person (or pair) in his image or did his image appear in a group of individuals?'

James Dunn suggests that Adam is to be understood as 'collective humanity' but John Stott, James Barr and Leon Morris stand by a historical Adam. The choice of commentators that Berry cites is limited and I would have expected other commentators ideas to be added to the mix here. (However, to be fair to Berry this issue alone would require a full monograph or PhD!) It's not clear, from this chapter, where Berry stands. But he does suggest that resolution 'must be left to theological debate', which sounds like a hollow answer as he has bought science into it! It raises the question how are Bible and science related? This is an important question that Berry doesn't examine.

He does, however, suggest that science can bring two insights into the presumably theological debate. First, the imago if 'conferred on an individual, there is no reason why it should not spread by divine fiat to all other members of Homo sapians at the time.' (pp 65-66). Second, 'death' that entered was separation from God; and that physical death was part of creation from the beginning, as seen in plants eaten by animals.

Some, such as Teilhard de Chardin, Julian Huxley and C. H. Waddington see the Fall as an upward leap - Berry rightly sees this view as erroneous as it does damage to 'the biblical meta-narrative'. (p. 67) We are not improving morally.

What are the effects of Adam's disobedience? Is the next question under discussion. For Berry 'The Fall [here the scare quotes used previously - "The Fall" - are discarded] is not primarily about disease and disaster, nor about the dawn of self-awareness. Rather it is a way of describing the fracture in relationship between God and the human creature made in his image' (p. 70).

Again, there are some snide remarks about intelligent design (ID): 'at best it can be regarded as little more than Deism reborn' (p. 73). This is hardly a comment that will aid dialogue. In fact it probably says more about Berry than ID. 

A small point but the authors seem to persist in shortening the title of Darwin's 1859 book from On the Origin of Species to Origin of Species, though this may have been a copy-editor's rather than authors' error.

There are some nuggets in the footnotes (of which there over 100):

I was interested to read that Popper had retracted his comment about his view of Darwinism as a metaphysical research programme rather than a testable scientific theory - his retraction was apparently in New Scientist 87 (1980): 611 (p. 48, fn 40)

Berry thinks that Gosse's Omphalos idea is the only (albeit unfaithful to reality) alternative to evolution (p 42-3 fn 30).

Berry has made some good points in trying to reconcile biology with origins, however, I feel there is still much more work to do here.

Other writings by Berry on these issues include:

M Northcott and R J Berry (eds)  Theology After Darwin (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2009)
God and the Biologist (Apollos, Leicester, 1996).
God and Evolution: Creation, Evolution and the Bible (Regent College Publishing, 2001)
'This cursed earth. Is "the Fall" credible? Science and Christian Belief11 (1) (1999): 29-49; 165-167.
'The fall of history' Science and Christian Belief 12 (1) (2000): 53
'A cosmic fall?' Science and Christian Belief 19(1):78
'Nothing makes sense except in the light of evolution' Science and Christian Belief 18 (1)(2006): 23-29
'Eden and ecology: evolution and ecology' Science and Christian Belief 19 (1) (2007): 15-35

Monday, 16 November 2009

Jim Belcher: Deep Church (audio book, MP3, CD) -

Jim Belcher: Deep Church (audio book, MP3, CD) -

Posted using ShareThis

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: chapter 1

'Worshipping the creator God: the Christian doctrine of creation' David Wilkinson

The opening chapter fittingly deals with the creator. Wilkinson looks to Colossians 1 rather than Genesis 1 to present a Christocentric vierw of creation.

There is much I loved in this chapter; not least:

  • the Christocentric perspective;
  • the emphasis that the universe cannot be fully understood without reference to God
  • his endorsement of creatio ex nihilo. (Interestingly he cites May as a detractor from this view - though Copan and Craig in their Creation out of Nothing have dealt with their views and found them wanting. Surprisingly Copan and Craig's view was not referenced);
  • the emphasis on science as 'a Christian vocation rather than a secular threat' (p. 25) and as a Christian ministry;
  • and the endorsement of the view that imaging God implies responsible stewardship.

This is slightly detracted by the times Wilkinson caricatures other perspectives, for example he implies that Intelligent Design is an approach that 'look(s) for gaps within the scientific account' (p. 21) and that some six-day creationists argue 'Now that I have proved Genesis is correct, then the whole of the Bible follows' (p. 20). This is similar to asserting that some theistic evolutionists argue 'Evolution shows that there is no fall, so there is no fall'. Indeed some do, but certainly not all.It's easy to tarnish all with the same brush.

Nevertheless, this is an inspiring chapter and one that glorifies and exalts Christ.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: Introduction

Darwin, Creation and the Fall: Theological Challenges
Edited by R. J. Berry and T. A. Noble
Leicester: Apollos, 2009
ISBN 978-1-84474-381-0
£9.99 208pp pbk

Not surprising - being the of the bicentenary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species - 2009 has seen the publication of many books on Darwin. This one is an attempt to address the theological issues and challenges raised by Darwin's theory. Four theologians and four scientists address many of the key issues. The book had its origins in a Tyndale Fellowsip and a Christians in Science conferences. All the authors are evangelicals and 'accept the contemporary scientific picture of the world' (p. 12).

Evolution raises a number of important theological and biblical issues. Not least the following:
  • What are the implications for a fall and original sin?
  • How are we to understand good and evil and evil and suffering?
  • Is suffering intrinsic to the world?
  • Is it possible for humans to be fallen without a Fall?
  • How are we to understand humans as being created in the image of God?
  • How are humans different to other animals?
  • Is it credible in the light of science to believe in a historic Adam and Eve?
  • Should science shape the Bible or Bible science?

The Fall has been a problem for theistic evolutionists and until recently little has been written on this important aspect. Hence, this book is a welcome addition to the literature. I hope in subsequent posts to look at some of the key issues raised in this book. In the meantime here is a table on contents:

Foreword - R. J. Berry and T. A.Noble

1. Worshipping the Creator God: the doctrine of creation David Wilkinson

2. Did Darwin dethrone humankind? R. J. Berry

3. Theological challenges faced by Darwin Darrel R. Falk

4. God and origins: interpreting the early chapters of Genesis Richard S. Hess

5. Original sin and the Fall: definitions and a proposal T. A. Noble

6. Irenaeus on the Fall and original sin A. N. S. Lane

7. Theology of the Fall and the origins of evil Henri Blocher

8. Blocher, original sin and evolution Richard Mortimer

Epilogue: the sea of faith – Darwin didn’t drain it R. J. Berry and T. A. Noble

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Pi and mathematical reductionism

Last night I watched the film Pi (details here)

Here's the trailer.

It's a fascinating film. The 'hero' Max is a mathematical reductionist - and it screws him up. Idolatry does that.

A theology "quiz"

Jake Belder tagged me in a facebook quiz - here are my responses:

1) What's your favourite theology book?
Difficult to choose one - but probably Reformational Theology by Gordon Spykman

2) What Christian(s) book has been most influential in your thinking? Why?
Mark Roques and Richard Russell have been very influential in helping me to break out of a dualistic worldview. Two books Transforming Vision by Walsh and Middleton and Creation Regained by Al Wolters.

3) Where do you attend church?
St Mike’s, Stoke Gifford Bristol

4) What is your denominational affiliation?
Anglican - but not by choice!

5) Who is your favourite theologian/Christian philosopher?
Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd, D H Th Vollenhoven, Lesslie Newbigin, N. T. Wright, Gordon Spykman, Roy Clouser, B J van der Walt et al.

6) Who is your favourite preacher?
I don’t get off much on preaching - I’d rather read a book. I used to enjoy C J Mahaney in my house church days - I had loads of his tapes. I enjoy listening to Tim Keller; and Mark Roques is always good value. Si our vicar isn't too bad either :)

7) What is your calling as a Christian (if you've figured that out!)?
There are many - husband and father primarily.

8) What spiritual virtue do you desire most?
‘Spiritual’? Not sure I understand the question, all of life is spiritual! Perhaps a lack of pedantry?

9) What is the greatest challenge to the church today?
To fully understand and implement the implications of the all-embracing kingdom of God.

10) What bothers you most about the local church?
The fact that many people don’t get the full implications of the gospel.

11) What encourages you most about the local church?
The potential for the kingdom

12) Pre, post, or Amil?
Amill unless I read Revelation (then I'm historic pre-mill - definitely not dispensational)

13) Antichrist...past or future?

14) If you could only keep 5 Christian books with you on a desert island, what would they be?
Herman Dooyeweerd’s New Critique of Theoretical Thought - in case I’m on the island for a long time.
Kuyper’s Principles of Calvinism - for inspiration
Herman Bavinck’s complete works - I’d love to have the time to read it!

15) What got you thinking theologically?
Reading George Eldon Ladd’s The Presence of the Future - I didn’t know theology could be so exciting!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Some great music

Sigur Ros's Heima (all 94 minutes) from 2006 is available to watch on Pitchfork this week.

And The Lantere Rouge's The Last Place EP is now free to download here.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Glenn Friesen's 95 theses on Dooyeweerd

The current issue of Philosophia Reformata looks at Glenn Friesen's '95 theses on Herman Dooyeweerd'. There are responses from Theo Plantinga, Henk Geertsema and Gerrirt Glas.

Glenn has also responded to Geertsema and Glass here. Glenn's paper can be found here.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Idolatry: narcissism

When I was asked to speak on narcissism I thought you must be joking - can’t I just talk about myself?

Last week we kicked off this series with an introduction to idolatry and he looked at 1 Cor 10 to identify some characteristics of idols. What I’d like to do tonight is look at one idol in particular – the idol of self. Or if you want to be flash about it narcissism.

But first I want to underline some important points about idolatry.

Bob Dylan sang:

You gotta serve somebody
It may be the devil
or it may be the Lord
But you gotta serve somebody

He was right. We all serve somebody – the question is who or what is it?

We are all worshippers, that is the way we are created we all worship someone or something it is in our very nature to do so. The Bible is full of injunctions not to serve other gods, primarily because it is so easy to do so! Idolatry can be very subtle, particularly contemporary idolatry. Since the fall it is a human disposition to worship the created rather than the Creator.

Idolatry is misplaced allegiance. The Lord our God is a jealous God: he demands our complete and total allegiance. He will not tolerate being displaced by a rival, therefore he demands that we are to keep from idolatry. (Cf Ex 20: 5 (Deut 5:9).)

History is a story of idolatries. We are so fickle: we find the lure of other gods so tantalising. And yet God is a jealous God.


There are several important implications for today:

• Idolatry is not an old problem. It is not a byproduct of a primitive worldview. Contemporary idols are not things we put on our mantelpieces and bow down to; they are often concepts and ideas.
• Idolatry is very subtle: it creeps up on us without us noticing.
• We become idolaters by a process of osmosis, slowly absorbing ideas.

1. Idolatry is a consequence of being a worshipper: we all have to worship something.
There may not always be a cultic or ceremonial aspect to our worship, but it is worship nonetheless.

2. Idolatry is worship of the created rather than the creator.
It is elevating something in creation to a place it was not meant to have. Treating the good – no mater how good it is - as God.

3. Idolatry is misplaced commitment.
It is putting our trust in something other than the Lord. It may be something laudable and worthwhile, such as the family or church or even the Bible, and yet if it takes a place it was not meant to have it can become an idol.

4. Idolatry dehumanises and we image what we worship
Ps 115:8
Such is the nature of idolatry that it distorts us and shapes us into their image.

[Daily Mirror piece: Computers turned my boy into a robot] Paul Bedworth – the first person to be convicted under the Computer Misuse Act, charged with hacking.

Anyway, enough about idolatry, let’s get back to me … I mean narcissism.

If we want to know what our society idolises look at its adverts.

Here’s one:
Cheryl Cole advert: You’re worth it!

I’m worth it.
It’s all about us – it’s all about me: narcissism

We have become a society that is self –focused.

I mentioned Bob Dylan’s song – You’ve gotta serve somebody.  John Lennon, responded to that with a song of his own: “You got to serve yourself”

Have a guess: How many books are there on amazon with “self” in the title?

Over 1/3 of a million!

And Friday’s Telegraph had this story [see slides]

Narcissism was first used to describe this self-love by the psychologist Carl Jung. It is named after a Greek myth. (Most heresies can be traced back to the Greeks!)

Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and destroyed himself in self-absorption and self-love. He withered away staring at his own image. He was so much in love with himself that he couldn’t do anything else. Idolatry is like that it dehumanises us.

Sociologists like to classify different generations; one way of classifying them is by letters.

The generation born between 1961-1981, the baby boomers, were known as Generation X

Post 1981 as Generation Y, but a better term for those born between 1981 and 1999 is the iGen or even Generation Me a generation shaped by shaped by technology.
We had friends reunited (remember that?) bebo and my space then along came facebook; we had blogs and now twitter.

Blogs – online web logs or journals told anyone and everyone what we were doing.

Facebook used to ask us ‘What are you doing?’ now it’s ‘What’s on our mind?’ – it’s all about us. Our thoughts and feelings can be transmitted around the globe with the click of a button. We matter or so it seems!

It was Jean Twenge who was one of the first to call it the Me generation – or generation Me.

She includes everyone between the ages of 9 and 39. The generation that takes it for granted that self comes first.

We have expressions like:
Be yourself
Believe in yourself
Love yourself
Express yourself
Stand up for yourself
If it feels good to you do it!

This cartoon sums it up well.

Typical characteristics:
Me first
It’s all about me
Unwillingness to take personal responsibility
Focus on celebrity and money
- usually me as a celebrity (blog, twitter, facebook, X-factor, Britain’s got Talent) and me as having money

Narcissism is a worldview. Every worldview is the product of faith commitments. Every worldview provides answers to key questions such as:

Where are we?
In a world that has no meaning or purpose other than what I choose to give it.

Who are we?
I am me!

What’s the problem?
Society, family, everything but me

What’s the solution?
Be me – be myself, do what feels good!

How can we respond to this idol of narcissism as Christians?

The narcissist responds to the question: who are we with: I am me – the Christian responds to the question what’s wrong with: I am.

As Paul Vitz puts it “For the Christian, the self is the problem not the potential paradise. Understanding this problem involves an awareness of sin”.

A few decades ago The Times asked several prominent authors to answer this question: “What’s Wrong with the World?” G K Chesterton responded:

Dear Sirs,

I am.

Sincerely yours,

G. K. Chesterton

The solution to living for self is to die to self.
What does it mean to die to self?
It is putting others before our self.

Dead to self - alive to Christ. That’s what it means to be a Christian: Jesus and not self is on the throne.
It is being a living sacrifice.

However, dying to self, it is not wearing a hair shirt or living on a pillar to escape the world. It is not a total denial of self.

Self is a creation and as such it is good.
Idolatry consists of the good becoming a god.
Taking a place it was not created to have. A partial truth becomes the whole truth.

This is the sort of thing that happens.
The creator and the creation are different and distinct. As C S Lewis puts it:
To say that God created Nature, while it brings God and Nature into relation also separates them. What makes and what is made must be two, not one.” (Reflections on the Psalms p. 80)

Self is a good aspect of creation – however, self starts to become more and more important, it starts to distort the whole of reality and eventually self becomes a counterfeit god, an idol. It becomes absolutised.

It is important that we have a good self-image and that we have self-esteem, but that is not the be all and end all. We need to know who we are in Christ – that is where our self-image comes from, not the type of shampoo we use or clothes we wear.

What are we in Christ:
  • We are joint heirs
  • Sons of God
  • Adopted as sons
  • More than conquerors
  • Set free
  • The power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us
  • In Christ we have abundant life – that comes with dying to self and living for Him.

Exposing idols

These few points are no solution to escaping idolatry, but they may help:

• Ask God to reveal any idolatrous areas in our lives.
• It needs to be a communal activity: we are blinkered by our own idolatry. It is often easier to see the splinter in our neighbour’s eye than the plank in our own (and very often the splinter is a reflection of our plank)!
• Read critiques of our culture by adherents of other worldviews.
• Watch out if an area of life tries to take over.
• Go to other cultures and return.
• Watch adverts critically.
• Say YES to the Jealous God who demands full allegiance.

Music for a Sunday morning

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Monday, 2 November 2009

Happy Birthday M1 - 50 years old.

It was built for 14,000 vehicles per day - ten times that use it now. It cost £50 million and was 193 miles long.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Monday, 26 October 2009

Shaping the dreams of a generation - Mark Roques

Mark Roques has a new six-session course on story telling, worldviws and mission:

More details here

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Calvin Seerveld's writings 1995-2008

A Christian Critique of Art and Literature (2nd edn) Sioux Center: Dordt College Press.
A collection of four lectures first delivered in 1968: "The Necessity of Christian Artistic and Literary Activity," "The Nature of Art and Slant of Christian Art," "Literature Among the Arts," and "The Office of Literary Criticism." (First published 1968)

“Reading the Bible like a grown-up child.” The Banner (26 June)

“The Baby who brings the full rule of God.” The Banner 130: 1618.


“Dooyeweerd's idea of 'historical development': Christian respect for cultural diversity.” Westminster Theological Journal 58:41-61. [Essay in a Fetschrift honouring Robert D.Knudsen.]

Philosophical Aesthetics at Home with the Lord: An Untimely Valedictory. Toronto: ICS


“Art: God’s gift, our thank offering - Interview with Calvin Seerveld.” Christian Teachers Journal September 5 (1): 14-19

To Photostephano tis Anthropinis Phantasia translated by Eiurene Deontaridou. Thessolonica: Somateiou Ellenon Chritianon Kallitechnon.


La foi et l’art: Les principes bibliques inspirant la demarche artistique. Translated by Richard Ouellette. Quebec: Editions la Clairiere.

“Minorities and Xenophilia.” In The Role of the Arts in a Europe on the Way to Integration. Rotterdam: International Christian Artists’ Seminar. Proceedings 7: 38-43.

"Not pilgrims ‘en route’ to heaven so much as building tent cities of refuge in God's world." In Signposts of God’s Liberating Kingdom: Perspectives for the 21st Centur y. Edited by B J van der Walt and Rita Swanepoel. Orientation Jan –Dec (83-86) Potchefstroomse Universiteit vir Christelike Hoër Onderwys: IRS.

“Proverbs 10: 1-22: from poetic paragraphs to preaching” In Reading and Hearing the Word: From Text to Sermons. Essays in Honor of john H. Stek edited by Arie C. Leder. Grand Rapids: Calvin Theological Seminary.

Through the Waters: Christian Schooling as a City of Refuge. Ancaster: Ontario Christian School and Teachers Association.


“The Necessity of a Public Christian Artistry.” In The Arts, Community and cultural Democracy ed. Lambert Zuidervaart and Henry Luttikhuizen. London: MacMillan/ New York: St. Martin's Press; pp. 83-107.

“Reading and Hearing the Psalms: the Gut of the Bible.” Pro Rege27 (4) (June)

“Creativity” Big Picture 1 (3) (Trinity) pp 5-6, 31-32.

Review of: Reading Ecclesiastes: Old Testament exegesis and hermeneutical theory, by Craig Bartholomew Calvin Theological Journal 34 (2): 443-445.

Take Hold of God and Pull: Fresh Words from Scripture for our Lives Today Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Press.


Bearing Fresh Olive Leaves: Alternative Steps in Understanding Art Carlisle, U.K: Piquant/ Toronto: Tuppence Press.

“Beyond Tolerance to Tough Love”. In Proceedings of the 9th Symposium on the Role of the Arts in a Europe on the way to Integration. Rotterdam: International Christian Artists’ Seminar: 39-43.

In the Fields of the Lord: a Seerveld Reader ed Craig Bartholomew Carlisle, U.K. ; Toronto: Piquant/Toronto: Tuppence Press.

Bread and not stones: an introduction to the thought of Seerveld by Craig Bartholomew and Gideon Strauss
The Informal fantastic life of a believing fishmonger's son: autobiographical vignettes

Part 1 Hearing the Bible
1 Reading the Bible at home as a family
2 The gospel of creation
3 Psalm 30 and Ephesians 5:15-20
4 Reform needed in the church on sensing God's holiness and our sin
5 1989: in the year of our Lord's forgiveness Glory to God or Christmas?
7 Christmas means Lord of the angels and kids playing in the street
8 Psalm 115
9 Meditation: singing Psalm 137

Part 2 Philosophy
I A note on a school of thought and disciples
2 A note on philosophy at the Free University of Amsterdam
3 Philosophy as schooled memory
4 Philosophising beauty
5 Philosophical historiography
6 A Christian tin-can theory of the human creature

Part 3 Education
1 What makes a college Christian?
2 A Reformed Christian college
3 In quest of excellence
4 Perspective for our Christian colleges
5 Cultural objectives for the Christian teacher
6 Test the spirits
7 The Christian school in American democracy
8 The umbrella over Trinity Christian College
9 The cross of scholarly cultural power
10 The pertinence of the gospel of creation for Christian education
11 A cloud of witnesses and a new generation

Part 4 Work and Daily Life
1 Christian workers, unite!
2 Labour: a burning bush!
3 The rub to Christian organisation — or Christian Camel-Drivers unite?
4 The meaning of silence for daily life and Sunday worship

Part 5 Arts and the Aesthetic
1 Art: temptation to sin or testimony of grace?
2 Human responses to art: good, bad and indifferent
3 A Christian view of aesthetics
4 A way to go in the problem of defining 'aesthetic'
5 Christian art
6 A generation of the arts before and after 1984
7 Comic relief to Christian art
8 Cal looks at Nick: a response to Nicholas Wolterstorff's Art in Action
9 Affairs of the art: review of Art in question
10 The Christian encounters censorship, obscenity and sex
11 Mennonite art: the insider as outsider
12 'Lenten emblems' by Gerald Folkerts
13 Kurelek art: preaching in the footnotes
14 Diego Rivera's art: worth respectful attention

Part 6 Bible Songs and Dance
1 Songs to sing standing up
2 A note on the liturgical dance used with the Sunday exhortations on Ecclesiastes
3 A Bible song from Micah 6: 8
4 Miriam's song of victory with dance, Exodus 15: 1-18
5 The song of Deborah, Judges 5
6 The resourceful woman song, Proverbs 31: 10-31
7 A Christmas carol, Isaiah 11: 1-10
Appendix Seerveld gives mini-lecture on toilet paper
List of illustrations
Other writings by Calvin Seerveld

“On identity and aesthetic voice of the culturally displaced”. In Towards an Ethics of Community: Negotiations of Difference in a Pluralist Society ed James H. Olthuis Waterloo, Ont.: Published for the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion = Corporation canadienne des sciences religeuses by Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Why Should a University Exist? 2000-01 convocation address (with a Korean translation by Sung Soo Kim). Pusin: Korea: Kosin University Press. 80pp.


“Babel, Pentecost, glossalia and philoxenia: no language is foreign to God.” Journal of Christianity 2 (Spring): 5-30.

“Christian aesthetic bread for the world.” Philosophia Reformata 66 (2): 155-177

“Does the world ask Europe to sacrifice its beautiful art?” In The Art of Living edited by Jan Peter Balkenende, Roel Kuiper and Leen La Riviere, 13-17 Rotterdam: CNV-Kunstenbond/Europyausches Zentrum fur Arbeitsnehmerfragen.

‘Foreword.’ In Art and Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts by Adrienne Chaplin and Hilary Brand (Carlisle: Piquant)

“God's ordinance for artistry and Hogarth's 'wanton chance'.” In Marginal resistance : essays dedicated to John C. Vander Stelt edited by John H. Kok Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press: 311-336.

"Mmmmmm ... good: celebrating the gift of sensuous pleasure.” The Banner (February): 16-19.

“Reading the Bible and understanding art: how to redeem your time in taking a look at art in Canada” – lecture at Trinity Western University 28 November 2001.

“Reenchantment in European community.” In 10 years cultural paragraph: The 'Treaty of Maastricht', the social and cultural challenge of Europe : reflections on the Treaty of Maastricht (1991) Rotterdam: Christian Artists Europe. 81-87

When does Christian college teaching celebrate the Reformation initiated by Luther and Calvin: What do a Reformational Christian philosophy and Christian Reformed theology have to do with one another in developing Christian scholarship? "Dordt College faculty discussion, 29 October.


Imaginative reenactment of society in God's world: a redemptive artistic task in the European Union.” Christian arts international proceedings vol 11 (April) Rotterdam: 81-89.

“Jubilee on the job.” "Speech presented to, CLAC 50th anniversary banquet, October 26, 2002, Hamilton, Ontario".

"Letter to a young artist.” In Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity by Michael Card Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press: 142-147.

“Reformational Christian philosophy and Christian college education” IAPCHE Newsletter 14(1) (insert) and Pro Rege30 (March): 1-16.

Review of: Good taste, bad taste, and Christian taste: aesthetics in religious life, by Frank Burch Brown. Christian Scholars Review 31 (4): 463-465.

“Flash of a fish knife” Point of View Comment


“Christian artists: called to be fully human.” Christian Educators Journal Association 42 (3): 22-24.

How to read the Bible to hear God speak: a study in Numbers 22-24 Sioux Center, Iowa: Dordt College Press and Toronto: Toronto Tuppence Press.
[Revised edition of Balaam’s Apocalyptic Prophecies]

“Jubilee on the job” Point of View Comment


“Our need to lament: a conversation between Michael Card and Calvin Seerveld.” The Banner 139 (9): 34-37.

“Pain Is a Four-Letter Word: A congregational lament” Reformed WorshipJune issue 72.


“Art, the Bible and … .” Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. London: SPCK/   Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. 63-65.

“The flash of a fish knife.” Comment (August): 5

“Human multiculturality: invitation to enriched identities.” Multiculturality: blessing or nightmare, no road to let it go: lectures compiled from the 14th Symposium (Aug. 21-26, 2004). Rotterdam: Continental Art Centre.

Voicing God's Psalms. (Including CD) Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Pub..


“Glocal culture.” In That the World May Believe: Essays on Mission and Unity in Honour of George Vandervelde. eds. Michael W. Goheen and Margaret O’Gara. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

“No endangered species: an introduction.” In The Way I See It: Wood Engravings & Etchings by Peter S. Smith. Carlisle, UK: Piquant Editions.

“Ways-of-Life and Becoming Elderly Wise.” In Een weg gaan : Overwegingen en commentaren uit West en Oost. ed. Sander Griffioen et al. Budel: Damon.

Making the most of college: studying ourselves to life or to death?Comment

“The strategy of giving away gifts: cultural guidelines for artists” Point of View Comment

“Reading the Bible like a grown-up child” Point of View Comment

“Making the most of college: studying ourselves to death? Point of View Comment

“Making the most of college: philosophy as schooled memory” Point of View Comment


“A morning weather hymn.” Reformed Worship84: 33

“Antiquity transumed and the Reformational tradition: which antiquity is transumed, how and why.” In In the Phrygian mode: neo-Calvinism, antiquity and the lamentations of Reformational philosophy. Edited by Robert Sweetman Lanham, Md.: Institute for Christian Studies and University Press of America.

“A Christian school song for parents and teachers.” Christian Educators Journal Association 47, no. 1, p. 18-19

“Real faith: living the resurrection.” Christian Courier no. 2812, p. 2.

“Cities as a place for public artwork: a Glocal approach” Think Cardus


The Gospel of Creation.” In Norman Matheis God’s Garden: Sketches, Drawings, and Watercolours (Iowa: Dordt College Press)

“Q&A with calvin Seerveld” Comment

“A few suggestions…for a Christian student at a secular university”. Comment (September) p66.

“Signs of hope: a Comment symposium” Comment (December) p. 25.

“Thinking deeply about our faith.” The Banner 143: 34-35.


The damages of a Christian worldview In After Worldview ed. J. Matthew Bonzo and Michael Stevens. Sioux Center, Iowa: Dordt College Press.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Friday, 23 October 2009

What were your last five amazon purchases? or book purchases?

This is a question posed by Jon Swales.

Mine are:

from amazon (or mostly amazon book place)

Church, State and Public Justice: Five Views.
I got this because I like the multiviews books and it had a chapter on the principled pluralism view that develops the idea of sphere sovereignty.

Called to Holy Worldliness by Richard Mouw
I bought this when I was preparing a talk on Col 3 and I loved the title and saw it cheap.

In the Phyrigian Mode: Neo-calvinism, Antiquity and the lamentations of reformational philosophy
I've been wanting to get hold of this for a while - but it had been too expensive, but I spotted it cheap second hand on amazon. A great collection of essays.

From other second hand booksellers (not amazon)

Confessing Christ in Doing Politics ed B J van der Walt and R Swanepoel
This is a brilliant collection of articles on reformational politics - I've wanted to get hold of this for some time it was a bit pricey, but well worth it.  Several of the articles have been scanned and are now on alloflife redeemed.

Our Reformational Tradition: a rich heritage and lasting vocation ed. B J van der Walt
This was another second-hand buy. I thought the price looked great €11 but then discovered that the postage was that again and more! hopefully, (c) permittingh some of the articles will be appearing on all of life redeemed.

 So, what were your last five amazon or book purchases?

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Church, State and Public Justice : a brief review

Church, State and Public Justice: Five Views
edited by P. C. Kemeny
IVP Academic, Downers Grove, 2007
254 pp, pbk, ISBN 978-0-8308-2796-1

IVP have done a great service over the years in producing the x views series (where x has been three, four or five). This one deals with a faithful Christian response to Church and State and public justice. Here we have a Catholic, Separatist, Anabaptist, Social Justice and Principled Pluralist perspectives.

All the essay are well written and easy to follow. Each essay is followed by responses from the other authors.

The principled pluralist view is expounded by Corwin E. Schmidt. Schmidt provides an excellent overview. He places his view in a creation, fall and redemption framework. He sees the state as being creational (as does Henry Meeter) rather than as a result of the fall (as does Kuyper). He recognises that Calvin broke new ground he didn't develop a full theory of the state. This was developed more by Abraham Kuyper with his view of sphere sovereignty, a the notion of a free church within a free state. Principled pluralism develops on these ideas and maintains that pluralism is good and that the role of the state, though limited, should be to ensure that justice is done by each of the different aspects of society. The state should also be an agent of common grace.

He argues cogently that:

Principled pluralism recognizes and accepts the diversity evident in public life and the presence of different structures of authority operating within different spheres of life. It affirms the state as a social structure possessing legitimate authority within a particular domain of life, but as only one among various structures to which God has delegated authority. (p. 152)

Christians should not escape from the political domain, even though it is affected by the fall. Christians are called to 'act with political modesty, to demonstrate tolerance for those with whom they disagree, to cooperate with others to achieve the public good...' (p. 153)

What is most remarkable about this position is that most of the other commentators seem to agree with it. Ronald Sider (Anabaptist) seems more concerned that this position has been labelled Reformed: "I agree with most of Corwin Schmidt's lucid description of principled pluralism. Most of it flows from fundamental biblical teachig and careful historical analysis' (p. 163). Clarke Cochran (Catholic) writes: this view 'comes closest to the Catholic position I describe' (p. 154); and J. Philip Wogaman (Social Justice) seems more concerned with Schmidt's amillenialism.

One day everyone will come to their senses and accept that the principled pluralist view is biblical and the best perspective!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

WYSOCS on Facebook

WYSOCS now has a presence on facebook:

Friday, 9 October 2009

What is ministry?

Ministry is equipping others to equip others, so that the Body of Christ can become what God intended it to be. Ministry is not restricted to those with turned-round collars! But those with the turned-round collars need to know how to equip their congregation for living Christianly in society. To do this they need to have a well developed Christian worldview, a clear grasp of theology and the Scriptures as well as an understanding of philosophy and ethics. So that they can provide the theological and biblical resources for their congregation both corporately and individually to transform the areas of society that they come into contact with.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

In the beginning of the beginning

In the Beginning of the Beginning is a study guide by Derek Melleby on the book of Genesis. It is well worth checking out.

Subversive questions by Mark Roques

Mark Roques has been developing an approach to worldviews and evangelism utilising subversive questions. He outlined his approach at the recent Crossroads conference at Trinity College, Bristol - his talk is available here.

He has also been developing and writing some materials to develop this approach. They will be brilliant for schools and youth workers. He has over a dozen available and is working on producing many more. One of them is available as a taster here:

If you know of any publisher that would be interested in Mark's materials get in touch!

Monday, 5 October 2009

A new look

I've had a redesign.  I've been using helvireader and helvetimail and have loved the look, this is a poor-man's attempt to emulate helveti on a blog.