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, 28 April 2011

British evangelicals and the problem of work Stuart Weir EvQ 83(2) (2011)

The recent issue of Evangelical Quarterly 83 (2) (2011) contains an interesting article by Stuart Weir, a PhD student at Edinburgh, on 'British evangelicals and the problem of work'. In it updates John Stott's reasons for the withdrawal of evangelicals from social involvement. But what is intriguing about this paper is what he promises to look at in his PhD:

What is required ... is a theological account that shows how all works which co-operate with the agency of the Spirit, regardless of an agent's faith, will be redeemed for the new creation. Any work performed in cooperation with the Spirit is one that will be eschatologically redeemed by virtue of its divine empowerment. Because of the divinity of the Holy Spirit, pneumatology should indeed take theological primacy in such discussions about human work. [Footnote: My forthcoming doctoral research aims to provide an account of this claim.] (p. 146)
Sounds like a worthwhile project! His final section goes on to say:

In light of the gradual reconciliation between British evangelical theology and the value of everyday work, Stott wishes to reinvigorate serious reflection on human works with a focus upon the doctrine of God, theological anthropology, christology, soteriology and ecclesiology. Striking by their absence in this list of theological repairs are pneumatology and eschatology.

But the provision of a pneumatology of works is essential. Such an account would open the door to discuss how some of the world's works which might be included in the new creation. God himself will bring the new creation into being through a transformation of this world. Such a hope for this world stems from what Jesus taught his followers to pray: 'Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven' (Matt. 6.10). The kingdom will not be a distinct place from the world, but will eventually spread throughout this world like yeast does in bread. Finally, through the purifying fires of Christ's judgement, a transformation of this creation will emerge.

An account which shows that the agency of the Spirit in cooperation with human works should, and must, take primacy in discussing the world's work if common grace theologies are accepted. This pneumatological emphasis must draw eschatology into play because pneumatology is automatically an eschatological matter. Not only does the Spirit presently encourage and empower eschatological anticipations of the new creation (Rom. 8.18-25), but he is also the one who will bring the fulness of the new creation into being at Christ's second coming. If the world can periodically work 'in the Spirit', then particular works might be caught up in the purposes of God for ultimate redemption.
His doctoral dissertation is entitled: 'Non-Christian’ Work and the Holy Spirit: The Empowerment of Good Work and the New Creation.

The Kuyper Center Review vol 2: Revelation and common grace

Click for larger image
The Kuyper Center Review
vol 2: Revelation and common grace is now out. Details here


Editorial Introduction


Revelation and Grace in Herman Bavinck
Jan Veenhof

Bavinck, Nietzsche, and Secularization
Gordon Graham

Why Was Bavinck in Need of a Philosophy of Revelation?
George Harinck

An Alternative Approach to Apologetics
Henk van den Belt

The Promise of Herman Bavinck’s Doctrine of Revelation: Theology beyond Dogmatism and Relativism
Jeffrey S. Hocking

Restoration and Renewal: The Nature of Grace in the Theology of Herman Bavinck
Jon Stanley

To Be or to Become — That Is the Question: Locating the Actualistic in Bavinck’s Ontology
James Eglinton

Bavinck’s “Revelation and the Future”: A Centennial Retrospective
Brian G. Mattson


Love and Law: Some Thoughts on Judaism and Calvinism
Leora Batnitzky

Sharia and the (Em)Brace of Difference: From Theology to Law to Identity Politics
Anver M. Emon

Assessing the Christological Foundation of Kuyper’s Doctrine of Common Grace
Cambria Janae Kaltwasser

From Talking About to Speaking With: The Reformed Churches in The Netherlands and Islam
Dirk van Keulen

Common Grace: A Distinctive Resource for “A Common Word”
Emily Dumler-Winckler

Simul Humanitas et Peccator: The Talmud’s Contribution to a Dutch Reformed Notion of the Imago Dei
Cory Willson

How Many Herman Bavincks? De Gemeene Genade and the “Two Bavincks” Hypothesis
James Eglinton

Common Grace and Pagan Virtue: Is Kuyperian Tolerance Possible?
Andrew M. Harmon

Advancing a Neo-Calvinist Pneumatology of Religions: The Role of Recent Yongian Contributions
Robert Covolo

Friday, 22 April 2011

A Light to the Nations - Michael W. Goheen

A Light to the Nations
The Missional Church and the Biblical Story
Michael W. Goheen
Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 2011
ISBN 978-0-8010-3141-0, pbk, pp 242 + xiii, £14.20.

A full review is available in Koers as html and pdf.

The concept of mission has been shaped by nineteenth-century assumptions: mission is a matter of geography, it is a cross-cultural activity done by a select few individuals; some are called to mission others are not. This book book exposes these erroneous view and places mission in the context of Israel and the church. It provides a whistle-stop overview of 'the missional impulse in the biblical narrative'. It begins to explore the missional roots of the church in the Old and New Testaments. Many missional books neglect the Old Testament, Goheen does much here to redress the imbalance.

This book is inspiring and insightful - it should be required reading for all those who take the lordship of Christ seriously.

A website accompanies the book:
There is a two page list of further reading, an eight-page subject index and a six-page Scripture index.

1. The Church's Identity and Role: Whose Story? Which Images?
2. God Forms Israel as a Missional People
3. Israel Embodies Its Missional Role and Identity amid the Nations
4. Jesus Gathers an Eschatological People to Take Up Their Missional Calling
5. The Death and Resurrection of Jesus and the Church's Missional Identity
6. The Missional Church in the New Testament Story
7. New Testament Images of the Missional Church
8. The Missional Church in the Biblical Story--A Summary
9. What Might This Look Like Today?

It's Friday ....but Sunday's a coming!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

I see a new city - Gerard Kelly

Reformational e-books (pdf) from Paideia books

The Reformational Publishing Company have been making a number of excellent reformational books available via paideia books. Thet can be found here.
Below is a list of almost 150 works in English that have been scanned and made into pdfs. There are just as many available in Dutch:

  • Antonides, H. A Christian Union in Labours Wasteland
  • Antonides, H. Multinationals and the Peaceable Kingdom
  • Antonides, H. Stones for Bread: The Social Gospel and its Contemporary Legacy
  • Bartholomew, C. Christ and Consumerism
  • Bavinck, H. Calvin and Common Grace
  • Bavinck, H. Christ and Christianity
  • Bavinck, H. Christological Movements in the Nineteenth Century
  • Bavinck, H. Presbyterian and Reformed Review: No. 10-April 1983
  • Bavinck, H. Resbyterian and Reformed Review: No. 17-January, 1894
  • Bavinck, H. The Certainty of Faith
  • Bavinck, J.H. The Riddel of Life
  • Beets, H. Johanna of Nigeria
  • Boersma, T. Is the Bible a Jigsaw Puzzle
  • Bolt, J. Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis in the Reformed Community Today (Christian Reformed Perspectives)
  • Bolt, J. Anakainosis Volume Six, No. 2: The Imitation of Christ Theme in the Cultural-Ethical Ideal of Herman Bavinck
  • Bolt, J. Christian and Reformed Today
  • Christian Teachers, . Bible Studies Grade 4
  • Christian Teachers, . Social Studies Grade 1
  • de Graff, S.A. Christ and Government
  • De Jong, N. The Separation of Church and State: The Myth Revisited
  • De Jong, P.Y. The Church's Witness to the World
  • DeGraaf, S.G. Promise and Deliverance I: From Creation To The Conquest Of Canaan
  • DeGraaf, S.G. Promise and Deliverance II: The failure of Israel's Theocracy
  • DeGraaf, S.G. Promise and Deliverance III: Christ's Ministry and Death
  • DeGraaf, S.G. Promise and Deliverance IV (Christ and the Church)
  • DeGraaff, A.H. The Nature and Aim of Christian Education
  • Dengerink, J. The Idea of Justice in Christian Perspective
  • Dengerink, J.D. The Necessity of Christian Universities
  • Dengerink, J.D. The Power of the Reformation in Political Life
  • DeVries, A. Story Bible for Older Children (New Testament)
  • DeVries, A. Story Bible for Older Children (Old Testament)
  • Diemer, J. Nature and Miracle
  • Dooyeweerd, H. A New Critique of Theoretical Thought I-II
  • Dooyeweerd, H. A New Critique of Theoretical Thought III-IV
  • Dooyeweerd, H. Creation and Evolution
  • Dooyeweerd, H. Introduction to a Transcendental Criticism of Philosophic Thought
  • Dooyeweerd, H. Reconstruction and Reformation
  • Dooyeweerd, H. Roots of Western Culture: Pagan, Secular, and Christian Options
  • Dooyeweerd, H. Secularization of Science
  • Dooyeweerd, H. Sociology of Law and It's Philosophical Foundations
  • Dooyeweerd, H. The Analogical Concepts
  • Dooyeweerd, H. The Contest About the Concept of Sovereignty in Modern Jurisprudence and Political Science 1
  • Dooyeweerd, H. The Criteria of Progressive and Reactionary Tendencies in Histrory
  • Dooyeweerd, H. The Theory of Man: Thirty-two Propositions on Anthropology
  • Evan, H.E. Christian Philosophical Enterprise in the Light of Biblical Prophecy
  • Frey, B. At Work and Play
  • Goudzwaard, B. Capitalism and Progress: A Diagnosis of Western Society
  • Goudzwaard, B. Economic Stewardship Versus Capitalist Religion
  • Gousmett, C. Anakainosis Volume Seven, No. 1 and 2: Bavink and Kuyper on Creation and Miracle
  • Gousmett, C. Anakainosis Volume Six, No. 2: Descartes Theory of Contingency
  • Groen van Prinsterer, G. Selected Studies
  • Groen van Prinsterer, G. The History of the Revolution in its First Phase: The Preparation (till 1789) (His Unbelief and Revolution; a Series of Lectures in History, Lecture
  • Groen van Prinsterer, G. Unbelief in Religion and Politics: Unbelief and Revolution Lectures VIII-IX
  • Hultink, J. A Prayer Recital
  • Ingram, W. At Work and Play
  • Jager, O. Meditations on the Christian Holidays
  • Knudsen, R.D. Sociology
  • Kuyper, A. Biblical Doctrine of Election
  • Kuyper, A. Bibliotheca Sacra: Calvinism: The Origin and Safeguard of our constitutional Liberties
  • Kuyper, A. Bibliotheca Sacra: The Biblical Criticism of the Present Day
  • Kuyper, A. Christianity and the Class Struggle
  • Kuyper, A. Implications of Public Confession
  • Kuyper, A. Lectures on Calvinism
  • Kuyper, A. Sphere Sovereignty
  • Kuyvenhoven, A. Daylight
  • Marshall, P. Labour of Love Essays on Work
  • Marx, K. The Roots of His Thought
  • McKendree, R. The Practice of Political Spirituality: Episodes from the Public Career of Abraham Kuyper, 1879-1918
  • McWhertor, T.E. At Work and Play
  • Moritz, T. Christ and Consumerism
  • Olthuis, J. Anakainosis Volume Seven, No. 1 and 2: John Calvin on Creation
  • Olthuis, J.H. Must the Church Become Secular
  • Olthuis, J.H. Reality of Societal Structures
  • Olthuis, J.H. The Word of God and Science
  • Ouweneel, W. Heart and Soul a Christian View of Psychology
  • Polman, A.D.R. Modern Thinkers Series: Barth
  • Popma, J.K. Calling, Task and Culture
  • Popma, K.J. Anakainosis Volume Six, No. 3: First the Jew but also the Greek
  • Praamsma, L. Before the Face of God I-XXIV
  • Praamsma, L. Before the Face of God XXV-LII
  • Praamsma, L. Let Christ Be King: Reflections on the Life and Times of Abraham
  • Praamsma, L. The Church in the Twentieth Century -- Elect From Every Nation (Volume VII)
  • Ridderbos, H. Modern Thinkers Series: Bultmann
  • Ridderbos, H. Studies in Scripture and its Authority
  • Ridderbos, H. The Coming of the Kingdom
  • Ridderbos, H.N. When the Time Had Fully Come: Studies in the New Testament Theology
  • Romanowski, W.D. At Work and Play
  • Roper, R.L. An Ancient History Review
  • Roper, R.L. NaiveExperienceNarrativeScriptureReligiousGroundMotivesandScientificHistoriographyConcernedwiththeAncientPast
  • Rowe, W.V. Anakainosis Volume Six, No. 2: On the Distinction Between Continental and Analytical Philosoohy
  • Runner, H.E. Christian and the World
  • Runner, H.E. Christianity and Humanism
  • Runner, H.E. Life is Religion
  • Runner, H.E. Point Counter Point
  • Runner, H.E. Radical Christian Facing Today's Political Malaise
  • Runner, H.E. Scriptural Religion and Political Task
  • Runner, H.E. The Christian and the World
  • Runner, H.E. The Development of Calvinism in North America on the Background of its Development in Europe
  • Runner, H.E. The Relation of the Bible to Learning
  • Schutte, G.J. Groen van Prinsterer: His Life and Work
  • Schuurman, E. Christian in Babel
  • Schuurman, E. Reflections on the Technological Society
  • Seerveld, C. Anakainosis Volume Seven, No. 1 and 2: The Status of Aesthetic Theory in English-speaking Canada
  • Sietsma, K. The Idea of Office
  • Smit, M.C. Writings on God and History
  • Spykman, G.J. Christian Faith in Focus
  • Steen, P.J. The Structure of Herman Dooyewerd's Thought
  • Strauss, D.F.M. Being Human in God's World
  • Strauss, H.J. Politics, Economic Dilemmas and Trade-Unionism
  • Strausss, D.F.M. Man and His World
  • Taljaard, J.A.L. Social Theory & Practice
  • Taylor, E.L.H. Reformation or Revolution
  • Taylor, E.L.H. The Christian Philosophy of Law, Politics and the State
  • Taylor, H. The New Legality
  • Teachers Manual, . Introduction to Biblical Studies
  • Teacher's Manual, . Social Studies Grades 1-3
  • Teacher's Manual, . Social Studies Grades 1-3, Unit 1
  • Van Brummelen, H. Mathematics in the Christian School
  • Van Riessen, H. Modern Society in the Light of the Lordship of Jesus Christ
  • Van Riessen, H. Modern Thinkers Series: Nietzsche
  • Van Riessen, H. The Society of The Future
  • Van Riessen, H. The University and its Basis
  • Vanden Berg, F. Abraham Kuyper
  • Vander Stelt, J.C. Church in Society
  • Vanderwaal, C. Hal Lindsey and Biblical Prophecy
  • Vanderwaal, C. Search the Scriptures Vol. I Genesis-Exodus
  • Vanderwaal, C. Search the Scriptures Vol. III Samuel-Esther
  • Vanderwaal, C. Search the Scriptures Vol. IV Job-Song of Songs
  • Vanderwaal, C. Search the Scriptures Vol. IX Corinthians-Philemon
  • Vanderwaal, C. Search the Scriptures Vol. VI Hosea-Malachi
  • Vanderwaal, C. Search the Scriptures Vol. VII Mathew-Luke
  • Vanderwaal, C. Search the Scriptures Vol. VIII John- Romans
  • Vanderwaal, C. Search the Scriptures Vol. X Hebrews- Revelation
  • Vanderwaal, C. Search the Scriptures Vol.II Leviticus-Ruth
  • Vanderwaal, C. Search the Scriptures Vol.V Isaiah-Daniel
  • Veenstra, J. Pioneering for Christ in the Sudan
  • Veldkamp, H. Waiting for Christ's Return: On Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians
  • Venema, C. P. The Promise of the Future
  • Vollenhoven, D.H.Th. Faith: Its nature and structure, and its significance for science
  • Von Meyenfeldt, F.H. The meaning of Ethos
  • Vrieze, M. Introduction to Sociology
  • Waterink, J. Basic Concepts in Christian Pedagogy
  • Wolters, A. Anakainosis Volume five, No. 4: Rank and Worth
  • Wolters, A. Anakainosis Volume Six, No. 1: Ground-Motive
  • Wolters, A. Anakainosis Volume Six, No. 3: These on "Word of God"
  • Zuidema, S.U. Common Grace and Christian Action in Abraham Kuyper
  • Zuidema, S.U. Existentialistic Communication
  • Zuidema, S.U. Modern Thinkers Series: Satre
  • Zylstra, B. Z. Hegal, Marcuse, and the New Left

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Abraham Kuyper's Common Grace - a new translation project

The Acton Institute and Kuyper College are collaborating to bring for the first time to English-language audiences a foundational text from the pen of the Dutch theologian and statesman, Abraham Kuyper. Kuyper’s three-volume work, Common Grace (De gemeene gratie) appeared during his tenure as prime minister in the Netherlands, from 1901 to 1905.
These works are based on a series of newspaper editorials intended to equip common citizens and laypersons with the tools they needed to effectively enter public life. The doctrine of common grace is, as Kuyper puts it, “the root conviction for all Reformed people.”
“If the believer’s God is at work in this world,” says Kuyper, “then in this world the believer’s hand must take hold of the plow, and the name of the Lord must be glorified in that activity as well.”
Dr. Stephen Grabill, director of programs at the Acton Institute, serves as general editor of the project, and he points to the contemporary need to understand Kuyper’s comprehensive and cohesive vision for Christian social engagement. “There are a host of current attempts to try to describe how evangelicals should be at work in the world. Kuyper’s articulation of the project of common grace shows how these efforts must be grounded in and flow naturally from sound doctrine.”
The translation and publication project will cover a two year period, and the three volumes total over 1,700 pages in the original. Dr. Nelson Kloosterman of Worldview Resources International and translator of numerous Dutch texts serves will oversee the translation of the texts. The completed translation will be published by Christian’s Library Press, the recently acquired imprint of the Acton Institute. Volume one of Common Grace is scheduled to appear in the fall of 2012.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Contours of the Neo-Calvinist Tradition

An updated version is now here.

Contours of the Neo-Calvinist Tradition
Mike Goheen and Craig Bartholomew
22 February 2011

1. Neocalvinism begins with Christ and this focus opens up into a full Trinitarian faith.
2. Christ is rendered to us truly in Scripture, which is fully trustworthy as God’s Word.
3. Christ stands at the centre of the biblical story and the good news he proclaimed is about the kingdom as the goal of history—God restoring his rule over the whole of human life and creation.
4. Since Christ has revealed and accomplished the end of history the Scriptures have a storied shape, and as such tell the true story of the whole world.
5. A central theme in the biblical story is God’s election of a people to embody the kingdom, to be a preview of the goal of history, and thus to bear witness to Christ’s rule over all of life – this constitutes mission.
6. The comprehensive gospel of the kingdom has been narrowed and consigned to a very minor place within the dominant Western humanist worldview, and this calls for a conscious articulation of a biblical worldview in relation to the cultural worldview to enable the church to recover the all-embracing scope of the good news.
7. The good news reveals the restoration of the creation from sin, and thus a neocalvinist worldview insists on a comprehensive and integrated understanding of creation, fall and restoration.
8. The fundamental backdrop of God’s drama of restoration is creation and thus neocalvinism articulates a rich doctrine of creation including its good and dynamic creation order and humanity’s place within it.
9. History is part of God’s order for creation and thus neocalvinism affirms the historical development or differentiation of creation.
10. The implication of the fall is that the power of sin and evil now radically twists every part of creation, and while the structures of creation remain good the distorting power of sin means they have been radically misdirected.
11. The Bible tells the story of restoration centred in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which is the recovery of God’s originally good purposes for the whole of his creation and all of human life.
12. Since God’s restorative power is at work in the creation by the Spirit, and the forces of evil remains at work in the creation, neocalvinism recognizes an ultimate religious conflict in the whole of human life.
13. God is at work leading his creation to its destiny of a new heavens and a new earth, and only then will the kingdom finally come. Until then the church is called to participate in God’s redemptive mission—the missio Dei—as witnesses to his victory, but since we await the final victory there is no room for triumphalism in neocalvinism.

My thanks to Mike Goheen for permission to post this.

Mike Goheen's paraphrase of the disciples' prayer (Mt 6:9-13)

May your kingdom come so that your name may be hallowed throughout the earth as prophets have promised.
May your kingdom come so that your will is accomplished on earth.
May your kingdom come so that the earth may again abound in prosperity, the hungry may be fed, and the needs of people met.
May your kingdom come so that the world might be liberated from sin, and that forgiveness might wash over the earth.
May your kingdom come; and when it encounters powerful resistance, keep us from succumbing to the temptation and trial, to the power of the evil one.
May your kingdom come fully one day - and may there be signs and evidences of its power even now.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Light to the Nations by Mike Goheen

Mike Goheen's new book, A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Society is now out - I've recently got my copy and am working my way through it. A review will come shorlty. Suffice to say it is brilliant!

A website to accompany the book will be launched soon:

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Seerveld on Bible and creation

While we as God's people necessarily go first to the Bible (Ephesians 6:4) for the Lord's disciplining and setting our consciousness straight: while we search the gospels, proverbs, Psalm 19, the prophets and epistles to be convicted in depth of the reality of creation, the historicity of sin, the lordship of Yahweh revealed in Jesus Christ and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit among his people until the Lord finally returns: that is, while we go first of all to Holy Scripture to get biblical eyesight, biblical insight, and to receive the fear of the Lord which is the headstart of wisdom, then we who become adopted children of God and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit must needs go search creation for drafting our fallible, christian solutions to the problems facing us in our sin-cursed world and society-which still belongs to the Lord and us!

That's nothing new. But I'm saying with the authority of God's written Word, Psalm 19, that no follower of Jesus Christ need be uneasy about whether study of biology, psychology or aesthetics is full-time kingdom service for the Lord. According to Psalm 19 creation is a revelation of God's will; so if you are humbly studying plant creation, emotional or artistic creatureliness, and are busy trying to discern the will of God there to foster obedience and the blessing it brings, what more can one ask for a kingdom mission and full-time christian service? Of course, if your biological theory is Lamarckian or Teilhard de Chardinian and your psychology is soft-Skinnerian or Jungian, and your aesthetics is Crocean or a mixture of Hume and Dewey, you should be very uneasy as a Christian, because your study is supposed to be christian! (intrinsically doxological) scientific analysis. Otherwise you perjure: the plants, the emotional and artistic reality whose tongue-talk God finds good and wants translated into a true, praiseworthy interpretation.

We must not succumb to the temptation to use the Bible as an answer sheet to check out our biological taxonomy, as a chart of personality types, or like a Ouija board to determine "what now is art and music?” That would be a cheap misuse of the Bible and express an illegitimate, Immature desire for a ready-made, instant christian culture that shoves off on god what he entrusts us to do historically, generations mindful of the generations still to come. What we need is a richer grasp of creation in our christian philosophy and evangelical theology, and a new, urgent sense of doing scholarship as a community of saints, so that we can live with the spill-over of Christ's promise in John 14-17 that the Holy Spirit will indeed lead us who are faithful to the end in the way of Truth (of. especially 16:12-15).

Calvin Seerveld Rainbows for the Fallen World ch 1.

Friday, 8 April 2011

D H Th Vollenhoven Isagoge Philosophie (ed. by A. Tol)

D. H. Th. Vollenhoven
Isagoge Philosophiae 1930-1945: 
Tekstkritische uitgave 
Filosophie in die traditie van de Reformatie
Anthony Tol (editor)
VU Uitgeverij, Amsterdam, 2010
ISBN 978 90 8659 441 2; pp. 466; pbk

Vollenhoven's Isagoge, has gone through many versions and translations. Tol, as part of his doctoral dissertation, has assembled here the ultimate critical edition. He has complied and edited together all Vollehoven's many version to provide the definitive text-critical edition in Dutch. This is a monumental work. All we need now is an English version!

More details in Dutch here.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Great Divide by Mark Greene

The Great Divide
Mark Greene
LICC: London, 2010. £2.95, 30pp
ISBN 978-0-903-452-43-4

This colourful short booklet takes a look at major disease that has gripped the church: SSD.

SSD takes many forms and has many symptoms: not least praying for people to go on short-term mission abroad, but neglecting to pray for them when at work; thinking that full-time Christian ministry only takes place in church-related activities; a failure to help students enagage with their studies from a Christian perspective; I could go on ... SSD is the sacred-secular divide. The body of Christ is a unity, there can be no splits. All Christians are in full-time Christian ministry - there are no part-time Christians; we don't take off our Christianity when we go into the office, classroom or work place. Christianity should be a full-time activity, sadly, we often make it a leisure-time activity. The first two chapters examine the issue and the symptoms. Greene helpfully documents it with much anecdotal evidence, such as the businessman who said, 'The church appreciates my tithe but not the enterprise that gives rise to it', or the student who claimed: 'The CU completely ignored why we were at university'.

This SSD is a dualism is pernicious and it is prevalent. It is also 'the greatest missiological challenge facing the church' (p. 16). In the final three chapters some of the ways in which SSD can be healed are examined. Rightly, the emphasis on on taking a whole-life view of Christianity. In chapter 4 he asks the question: how shall we move ahead? and makes some helpful suggestions. The final section entitled next steps looks at some of the resources produced by LICC.

This is an accessible and much needed booklet. As Greene points out none of us are immune to SSD, but forewarned is forearmed. This booklet does a great job in forewarning.

Some resources for tackling SSD are found here.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Florence Nightingale on Statistics

"To understand God's thoughts, we must study statistics for these are the measure of His purpose" Florence Nightingale

Nightingale was the originator of the polar area diagram - the forerunner of the pie chart.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Redeeming Law by Michael P. Schutt

Redeeming Law
Christian Calling and the Legal Profession
By Michael P. Schutt
IVP, 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0-8308-2599-8
290 pp, pbk, £14.82

This is a superb book. Michael Schutt has put Christian lawyers in his debt. This is a must-read book for all Christian lawyers and perhaps more importantly for their pastors.

He shows that a Christian lawyer, contrary to popular opinion, is not an oxymoron.

The book is in three main parts: the lost lawyer; integrity; and integrity in practice. In the first Schutt exposes the jettosoning of the law's moorings in the Christian faith to be replaced by a form of instrumentalism . No longer is law transcendent but it has become a social construct that knows nothing of its religious roots and presuppositions. He also shows how the church's neglect of the concept of vocation has served to secularise law.

This first section is an excellent overview of secularisation in general and how it applies to law and lawyers in particular. The result has been an emphasis on personal piety to the exclusion of transformational aspects of faith: 'Personal piety alone is insufficient to the task of bringing one's law practice under the headship of Christ' (p. 82).

Part two looks at ways of becoming more integrated and whole in the approach to faith and law. It focuses on the lawyer. It provides tools and insights for combatting the influence of dualism. He rightly places an emphasis on community and accountability. We cannot be lone disciples. It is good to read of the importance of 'spiritual disciplines' in the context of a transformational approach. We need to be who God wants us to be so that we can do what God wants us to do (p. 175). As the church restores and recaptures  vocational thinking then it really can become the place where 'lawyers can learn how to love God as lawyers' (p. 129). Discipleship and worldview can embrace.

The final part looks at the law in practice - here he draws upon the work of Scott Pryor who develops a 'paradigm for integrated thinking', a biblical-theological integration in the law. This provides a good foundation in which to develop a Christian perspective on the role of lawyer as advocate and as consellor, which Schutt does here.  In an appendix he examines: the doctrine of the atonement as it relates to theories of punishment; biblical perspectives on contract consideration in the common law; and the Sermon on the Mount as it illuminates the criminal law. These provide excellent models of law-faith integration.

At the end of each chapter are excellent questions that promote self-reflection and would be ideal for group debate and discussion.

Schutt draws upon a wide range of resources including  Kuyper, Richard Foster, Newbigin, William Blackstone and natural law. I'm more agnostic about natural law than Schutt, but much of what he says about natural law isn't much different to the common grace perspective.

The book also provides a model for other professions - not only lawyers will benefit  from this book, but anyone involved in a vocation (and that includes us all!). It will provide much food for thought and a much needed challenge to integrate faith and career; it will certainly help bridge the sacred-secualr and private-public divide that has stunted much of Christian discipleship.

I originally started to read this book on my kindle - it was so good I had to get a hard copy so that I could lend it out. If I was a law maker I would create a new law to make this compulsory reading for all lawyers. If you are a pastor with a lawyer in the congregation, I humbly suggest that, this should be mandatory reading.


Part I. The Lost Lawyer
1. The Lost Lawyer
2. The American Law School Experience
3. Vocation and the Local Church
4. Thinking about Lawyering

Part II. Integrity
5. Integrity
6. Unity and the Integrated Lawyer
7. Community and Trinitarian Lawyering
8. Truth and the Integrated Lawyer
9. Integrity in Practice: Spiritual Disciplines

Part III. Integrity in Practice
10. Professional Identity, Integrity and Modernity
11. Lawyers' Vices--Lawyers' Virtues
12. Law and Truth

Author and Subject Index
Scripture Index