Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

N.I. Government Proposal to Extend Adoption Eligibility

I have just finished writing a response to the N.I. Office's proposal to extend eligibility to "joint adoption to civil partners and unmarried couples (whether of different sex or same sex, living as partners in an enduring family relationship)", as is found elsewhere in the U.K.

I would encourage any of my N.I. readers to do the same before Friday. See both here and here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Scottish Firefighters Go Before Disciplinary Hearing for Not Attending Gay March

Four firefighters are due before a disciplinary hearing over their refusal to hand out leaflets at a gay pride march in Glasgow. Some of the men were opposed to attending the event on religious grounds, while others did not think it was part of their core duties.

See more here or here. Pray for the brethren and e-mail a protest to the Strathclyde Fire Brigade.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Town of Allopath

Click on the picture to watch this interesting fable about modern medicine. I wouldn't endorse everything and it does go a bit too far at times (esp. regarding ordinary people and trying to save their jobs), but it is thought-provoking and an interesting use of animation to get a message across. I think the message at the end is the important part. Some of what the website linked to it says may be worth checking out too.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Calvin on the Sabbath

I've been meaning to write a post on Calvin's view of the Sabbath, which is much misrepresented. The reality is that (dare I say it!) he himself misleads us in his writings on the 4th Commandment in his 1536 Institutes, which continued into the 1559 edition.

The problem is that Calvin's view is quite complex and is really a product of his struggle with trying to accommodate his interpretation of Colossians 2:16,17 that the Weekly Sabbath is abrogated in Christ (which he defines as the ceremonial part) with his belief in the perpetual obligation of a day of rest and worship that occurs once-a-week based on Genesis 2:2,3. (Indeed, in several areas he seems to contradict and even condemn himself quite severely!) Again, it is further complicated by his use of the term "Sabbatarian" and what he means by a "Jewish Sabbath".

Such an article could take a great deal of time, so I point you to this article as a starting point in your study. It is close to giving a good analysis of Calvin's view, and I hope will prompt you to read his Commentary on Genesis and his Sermons on Deuteronomy in this regard.

On a related note, Chris Coldwell has written a useful article on the story of Calvin bowling on the Lord's Day. By the way, his writings can be read on-line here. I also think that reading Turretin on the Sabbath allows you to get into the Genevan mind a bit more and understand Calvin. I have found that Richard Gaffin has written a book on the subject.

Read the rest...

Dilbert and Theology

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has recently written two books on religion.

Yes, I am wide-awake and can't sleep!

Discussion about Church Government

This discussion was on a blog which has now gone.

The Pope Blessing King Billy?

Click on the picture to find out more.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

US vs. European Cities

See this article.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Earliest Reference to the Lord's Day in the Church Fathers

"If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death - whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master-how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead."

Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch (A.D. 30-107),
in his Letter to the Magnesians, Chapter IX

This version is the shorter and more reliable text. Eight of the fifteen Epistles of Ignatius are known (as far as possible) to be spurious and are thus ascribed to 'Pseudo-Ignatius'. There are also shorter and longer versions of the 'approved' letters, and the shorter of these is preferred (and not based on the assertion that the shortest is always the best). For more information see here. (This should especially be borne in mind when Pseudo-Ignatius is used to defend early Episcopalianism.)

There is also a dispute about the phrase "Lord's Day" because of the existence of a Greek manuscript that says, " according to the Lord’s life..." instead of, " in the observance of the Lord's Day..." Let each of you judge which fits the text better. More information on early references to the Lord's Day may be found here.

Read the rest...

Brian Edwards on the Sabbath

Just read Brian Edwards on the Sabbath in "The Ten Commandments for Today" published by Day One Publications. He deals with it very well and has a good balance in my opinion. He says much the same as I do, plus lots more.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Perpetual Obligation of the Weekly Sabbath

Q. 59. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?

A. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week, ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath.

Traditionally orthodox Christianity has affirmed with the Westminster Catechisms that the 4th Commandment has a perpetual obligation and that we, as Christians, observe the first day of the week as a Sabbath, or day of cessation from work, called the Lord’s Day.

Some have disagreed with this opinion, especially since the dawn of Dispensationalism, and have asserted that either the 4th Commandment, being part of the Mosaic Law, does not oblige the Church, or that it was a merely ceremonial law pointing to the rest that there is in Christ, and thus terminated in his Resurrection. Let me look at the latter view held by some Covenantalists. (Dealing with the Dispensationalist argument would involve a long refutation of a whole system of hermeneutics.)

1. The Sabbath was Instituted before the Fall

I believe that one of the reasons that there is still a weekly Sabbath is that it was instituted at Creation before the Fall and was not part of the ceremonies introduced in the Mosaic economy; neither was it connected to the sacrifices and other bloody ceremonies introduced between the Fall and Moses. How would something instituted as unconnected to Christ's death be abrogated by that death?

2. The Sabbath is in the Context of the Ten Commandments as a Complete Unit

The Ten Commandments were a summary of the complete obligation of man to God (a.k.a. the Law). Each commandment was an archetypal law that represented a class of obligations to God under them, e.g. the commandment not to commit adultery contained much more under it, such as the commandment not to lust, and the commandment not to kill included the commandment not to be angry. This is well expressed in the historic confessions and catechisms of the British non-conformists, esp. the Westminster Larger Catechism Questions 91 to 152.

Similarly, we are obliged to keep all those days special that God has set aside at any moment in time. If it were merely ceremonies, then that would be included under the archetypal commandment concerning worship (the Second). God wanted to emphasise the observance of the Sabbath as a perpetual obligation.

3. The Problem in the Early Church was the Festival Sabbaths, not the Weekly Sabbath

The NT period was one of transition from a Jewish congregation (εκκλησια) to a global one. The difficulties with this transition are apparent throughout this period and various approaches are used depending on the circumstances. Paul circumcised Timothy on one occasion, but refused it for Titus on another. Another problem was the observance of the various days that God had given in the Mosaic Law, most of which were Sabbaths, or days of cessation from work to engage in religious duties. This is the context in which Paul said the following:

“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.” (Rom. 14:5,6a)

“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Col. 2:16-17)

Note the following:
  • Both of these are in the context of the eating of various foods, etc., i.e. we're talking about the ceremonial law instituted under Moses.
  • Although I originally believed that there was a distinction in the use of the plural form of the word 'sabbath' (σαββατα/των), I remembered afterwards that there was something special about the word 'sabbath' in the Greek. Consultation of my lexicons and grammar showed that this was the case and that the plural form of 'sabbath' can refer to either 'sabbaths' in the plural or 'sabbath' in the singular. However the lack of the characteristic definite article (e.g. τα/των) would tend to indicate that it is not the Weekly Sabbath, although this is not conclusive.
  • The Festival Sabbaths were a shadow of Christ given after the Fall, but the Weekly Sabbath was not a shadow of Christ’s work because it was given prior to the Fall. The Festival Sabbaths involved more than rest and worship; they were intimately connected to figurative ceremonies and especially sacrifices, which were shadows of Christ as Hebrews tells us.
  • Since the beginning of the Church, one day in seven has been observed as a day of rest from labour and for the convocation of God’s people for worship. We see this weekly observance and assembly for worship on the Lord’s Day. The day of rest (or Sabbath) then quickly made the transition from the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian Lord’s Day. In my opinion, the dispute in the Early Church was not one over the observance of a weekly day of rest and convocation of God’s people, but the observance of the Festival Sabbaths.
  • It may also be the case that the problem was like that experienced with Seventh Day Adventists in modern times, and some were insisting on observing a day of rest and worship on the seventh day of the week.

4. Christ’s Commandments on the Sabbath Made Irrelevant by the Antisabbatarians

My last argument against the view that there is no weekly Sabbath for the Christian is that Christ’s discussions about the Sabbath in Matthew 12:1-14 and Mark 2:23 – 3:6 become a bit redundant under this view of the Sabbath (i.e. that there is no weekly day of rest and worship). What are we to make of Christ’s Lordship of the Sabbath? It seems that there is no Sabbath over which He is Lord. The statement that the “Sabbath was made for man” indicates that it was not merely a ceremony that was to terminate in Christ’s Resurrection, but was designed for man’s perpetual good. Why bother to teach us more about Sabbath observance when the Sabbath was about to disappear forever?

In summary, I reject the case for Covenantalists rejecting the Weekly Sabbath for the following reasons:

1. The Sabbath did not terminate in Christ’s death because the Sabbath was instituted before the Fall, i.e. before Christ’s death was necessary.
2. It makes the inclusion of the 4th Commandment in the Ten Commandments incongruous, and destroys the completeness of the unit as the summary of God’s Law enscripturated as archetypal commandments.
3. The chief text used by the Antisabbatarians would appear to refer to the Festival Sabbaths, not the Weekly Sabbath, because they were part of the festivals and sacrifical system that foreshadowed the death of Christ.
4. Christ’s teachings on the Sabbath do not seem to be consistent with the imminency of the abrogation of the Weekly Sabbath.

(See also these articles on the Blue Banner website.)

Read the rest...

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Religion brought forth prosperity, and the daughter consumed the mother."
— Cotton Mather

Dabney on 'Conservative' Politicians

I came across this very apt quote from Dabney today, speaking of the secular, Christless conservatism of his time:

“[Its] history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation.

What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward to perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It tends to risk nothing serious for the sake of truth.”
Quoted on this webpage.


Meditating on Anger

My boys (Peter 6 and Isaiah 4½) are really getting going on Scripture memorisation, so today I've started a series on anger as part of their training in practical religion. I thought I'd share these verses with you. We all need to meditate on this.

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31,32

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the Devil.
Ephesians 4:26,27

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1:19,20

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:3-5

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…
Romans 1:18

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 3:36

Click here to see the verses.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Psalm 143 (New RPCI Psalter)

Enjoying the Psalms so much at church, I thought I'd share one with my readers, especially those who are deprived of God's hymnbook in their worship services. I've chosen this one from our new Psalter, which we sung this morning. We were looking at the great battle in which all Christians are involved from Ephesians 6.

Psalm 143 (Tune: Invitation)

O LORD, my prayèr hear,

and heed my pleading cry!

In faithfulness give ear;

in righteousness reply.

2 To judgment bring not me,

your servant, to be tried,

for none alive can be

in your sight justified.

2 3 My enemy pursued

my very soul in me,

me to the ground subdued,

and in dark places he

there me to dwell has made,

like those dead long ago.

4 My heart's in me dismayed,

my spirit faint does grow.

3 5 Yet I do call to mind

the mem'ry of past days,

your works of every kind,

and muse upon your ways.

6 To you I stretch my hands;

my longing soul is too,

as those dry, arid lands,

so thirsting after you.

4 7 O LORD, soon answer me.

My spirit failing is;

hide not your face from me,

lest I be like to those

into the pit who go.

8 When morning comes, to me

your loving-kindness show;

my trust in you will be.

Show me the way to go;

my soul I lift to you.

9 LORD, save me from my foes;

you are my refuge true.

10 Teach me to do your will,

for you're my God; let your

good Spirit lead me still

into a path that's true.

6 11 For your name's sake, in grace,

O LORD, revive now me,

and in your righteousness

my soul from trouble free,

12 and in your love spurn those

who en'mies are to me.

Destroy all my soul's foes;

I serve you faithfully.

Click here to see the psalm.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I've been tagged, so here goes...

I've been tagged here, so here goes... (I recommend all of the following books, apart from the Qur'an. Please click on the links for more info.)

1. One book that changed your life: The Holy Bible: sorry, but that is the honest answer. Other books have affected my thinking, but it is consistently the Bible that does the life-changing.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Lord of the Rings: what a perfectly-crafted book! What an enjoyable read!

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: The History of Protestantism: it is a long read, so I won’t get bored reading it over and over. For being a big book, it is still an easy read as the chapters are divided nicely and it’s really well written. It also has lots of really good illustrations add to the interest. It is full of challenging stories of fellow pilgrims and is spiritually-edifying. (The one book apart from the Bible and my Psalter, of course!)

4. One book that made you laugh: Any Jeeves and Wooster book.

5. One book that made you cry [or feel really sad]: 500 Nations – An Illustrated History of North American Indians: ok, it didn’t make me cry, but it has got as close as any book has. It is terrible to think how the Indians suffered. It makes you think about the rightness and wrongness of all that went on in the colonisation of America.

6. One book that you wish had been written: A good Church history for kids.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: The Qur’an: how it has left so many in blindness and slavery, hindered the spread of the Gospel, and caused so much bloodshed and pain.

8. One book you’re currently reading: Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: I can’t recommend it highly enough. Although I don’t agree with the charismaticism and the pathetic approach to Creation, it still knocks the spots off all other STs. (I'm also reading Culver's ST with a reading group here.)

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Well, I want to finish Calvin’s Institutes – does that count?

10. Now tag five people: Mary, Paul, Holly, Kevin and Phil.

Read the rest...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

American Evangelicals Consolidate Their Request for Separation from the Apostate Majority of the ECUSA

A single request for alternate primatial oversight consolidating the requests of the dioceses of Fort Worth, San Joaquin, Central Florida, South Carolina, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Springfield has been forwarded to the Archbishop of Canterbury. They wish for the Archbishop’s assistance in “disassociation from an ‘innovating’ ECUSA” and for “spiritual cover” for the seven dioceses “through re-assignment of the tasks” to Archbishop Williams that under canon law and custom fall to the Presiding Bishop.

On another front in the trouble in the ECUSA, a case has been proffered by the bishops of California, San Diego, Los Angeles and Northern California against the evangelical Bishop of San Joaquin, John-David Schofield.

Click on here for more.

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Inside Castro's Cuba

I've been wondering lately what Cuba is like these days? Has it all become relaxed, or is it a really authoritarian regime? This recent article on BBC News On-line gives a very interesting insight into modern Cuba.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Biblical Infallibility and Belief in Scripture for Salvation (and Rowan Williams Again!)

This post is really an offshoot of a discussion in the comments section of another post.

What do We Mean when We Say that Scripture is Infallible?

Infallible comes from the Latin “fallere”, to deceive or lead astray. Therefore at its root it means “does not lie or mislead” and points to absolute truthfulness and reliability.

Although infalliblity and inerrancy are exceptionally close in meaning, as I see it, infallibility has the nuance of absolute truthfulness and reliability, so as not to mislead; whereas, inerrancy has the nuance of being without mistakes.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy defines “infallible” and “inerrant” as follows:

Article XI.
WE AFFIRM that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.

WE DENY that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.

Article XII.
WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

Article XIII.
WE AFFIRM the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.

WE DENY that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.

In the exposition, the Committee went on to make these further definitions:

“lnfallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled and so safeguards in categorical terms the truth that Holy Scripture is a sure, safe, and reliable rule and guide in all matters.

“Similarly, inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions.”

There is a very fine distinction between the two terms!

The Anglican ‘patriarch’ J.I. Packer uses these definitions in his article, “Infallibility and Inerrancy of the Bible” in the “IVP New Dictionary of Theology”:

“Infallibility signifies the full trustworthiness of a guide that is not deceived and does not deceive. The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) spoke of the Bible's infallible truth, the Belgic Confession (1561) called it an infallible rule and Wyclif (1380) named it the infallible rule of truth.”

“Inerrancy signifies the total truthfulness of a source of information that conatins no mistakes; the word is 19th-century, but the belief it expresses is as old as Christianity… Augustine declared, ‘I believe most firmly that none of these [canonical] authors has erred in any respect of writing.

Contrary to John's belief expressed in his blog post, these terms have been on the go for a long time! They weren't a reaction to 19th-century Liberalism. Even if they were, it wouldn't be a problem. A lot of theology and theological terms are carved-out in the midst of controversy, e.g. the Catholic Creeds and the term Trinity.

Are the Use of the Terms “Infallible” and “Inerrant” Legitimate when Applied to Scripture?

Words mean what they conventionally mean, or what we try to communicate through their usage. Ultimately, Evangelicals mean by these terms that the Bible is absolutely truthful and without error in conveying ideas as they are conventionally understood.

John (a.k.a. “Custard”) says in his blog post criticising the terms “infallible” and “inerrant”, “Jesus illustrated his teaching by telling a lot of stories, many of which weren't actually true.” Jesus wasn’t necessarily describing an actual event that has a presence in the space-time continuum, but was He lying? No. Did He speak the truth? Yes.

Similarly, John refers to Psalm 19 speaking about the sun being a mighty man coming from a tent. He recognises this as poetry. Was the Psalm trying to convey that the sun actually was an athlete and lived in a tent in the sky? No. So was it being truthful? Yes.

So both accounts were truthful and didn’t make mistakes. Could they be relied upon to convey the message that they were meant to convey? Yes. Would any sensible person be misled and go away thinking, “The sun is a mighty man in the sky, and there were these actual virgins that ran out of oil, etc.”? No. Did Jesus or the Psalmist make a mistake? No. Their words were infallible and inerrant.

To reject the terms “infallibility” and “inerrancy” because Scripture contains stories that aren’t presented as history (i.e. parables) and uses personification to describe the sun is pedantic. Language conveys what we mean it to convey. If Christians use these terms in a known way that is received by convention, then we should accept that, and not muddy the waters.

John suggests the terms "infallible" and "inerrant" be replaced with "perfection". Surely this is a more ambiguous term? The Liberals would be glad to say that Scripture is "perfect". "It mightn't be true historically or scientifically, but is perfect for teaching us moral truth and guiding on us in our pilgrimage through this world as we struggle with God's silence as he speaks to us in the likeness of a spastic child." (A la RW's blasphemy!)

The term "perfection" doesn't protect the truth about Scripture from the attacks of the unbelievers. A Liberal can say that the Bible is "perfect", but ask him to say "infallible" and "inerrant" and he chokes at the words. An Evangelical shouldn't because no one means by these words that we have to affirm that the sun is an actual mighty man in the sky or that the parables detail actual historic events.

Belief in Scripture and Salvation

In my opinion, there must be a belief in Scripture as the Word of God and as absolutely true at a basic level for someone to be saved. This is not to say that they need to have formulated an exhaustive doctrine of Scripture. This is what I understand by what the ICBI were trying to say in Article XIX of the Chicago Statement:

WE AFFIRM that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith…

WE DENY that such confession is necessary for salvation.

There is a world of difference between pedanticism over the terms “infallibility” and “inerrancy”, and RW’s (Rowan Williams’) blatant rejection of the Bible as the Word of God, and as true and without mistake.

Also there is a big difference between Luther’s doubt about whether James was canonical and RW’s belief, because Luther’s problem arose out of his belief in every word in the rest of Scripture and that God can’t contradict Himself. RW rejects the Bible wholesale!

There is also a difference between someone who comes to faith from an evolutionist background grappling with Genesis 1 and 2, and RW’s belief.

Someone like this may need to consider this text: Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure... (2 Pet. 1:10) But RW needs to hear, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him..." (Heb. 11:6), and Let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: That You may be justified in Your words, and may overcome when You are judged.(Rom. 3:4)

The thief on the Cross didn’t fall out of the sky! He knew the OT Scriptures and a lot about Jesus, and what He taught and did. He mightn’t have understood then what Jesus was doing on the Cross, but he did know that he needed free forgiveness from God through Christ. He would also have believed God was truthful and didn’t mislead, which is the key question in this discussion about the Bible.

How do we know about Jesus? From the Bible. Does God tell us the truth about Jesus? Yes. Would someone who turns to Christ for salvation believe all this? Yes. Would he believe that the Bible is God’s Word? Yes. Would he believe that God is absolutely truthful? Yes.

RW wouldn't, as quoted in Garry Williams' discussion of RW's theology (the italised quotes are from GW's critique, with quotes from RW in single quotation marks):

'What of this can be confidently affirmed to be true of the Jesus of history” is unclear, and actually immaterial for our present purposes.'

The description which Williams gives of John the Divine and his Book of Revelation is the plainest example here. The book contains two scripts, one with a clear and ‘haunting authority’, but the other ‘tightly written, pen driving into cheap paper, page after page of paranoid fantasy and malice, like the letters clergymen so frequently get from the wretched and disturbed’. It is true that for Williams even this script contributes to our hearing the Word of God, but it does so by its stark contrast with the other script: ‘Perhaps, as we read the Revelation of John, we should let its ugly and diseased elements speak to us in this way. The very disorder, the madness and vengefulness, of certain passages can help us to hear more clearly the depth and authority of others.’ Or again, ‘The rantings of John the Divine about his theological rivals are part of the by-product of the very vision of the Living One that shows these ravings for what they are, by showing the radical and unconfined purpose of God in Jesus Christ.’

With people like John, ‘We aren’t called to believe and endorse all they say, only to ask ourselves what we are taught here about the strangeness and sometimes the terror of the Word of God to fragile minds.

‘[T]he revelation of God comes to us in the middle of weakness and fallibility’

[T]he parable of the unjust steward is ‘a story which St Luke does not seem to have understood particularly well’, and hence ‘In the letters to Timothy and Titus we can see how Paul’s own insight was bundled together by a later generation with a lot of anxiety about being respectable and having a good reputation.’

‘[I]f the New Testament is less a set of theological conclusions than a set of generative models for how to do Christian thinking, our own consideration of how we should speak of the unity of doctrinal language must be shaped by the methods displayed in these writings.’

Of course, these are just a few quotes on his view of Scripture. There is lots more such as the following blasphemous view of God:

‘This is the solitude of truth, the solitude, finally, of God: God as a spastic child who can communicate nothing but his presence and his inarticulate wanting.’


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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Controversies in Ulster Presbyterianism, 1790-1836

I came across this very interesting essay.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Belfast Happiest City in the U.K.

A study has concluded that Belfast is the happiest city in the U.K. A previous study had shown that Belfast had the best quality of life of any city in the U.K.

The study seems to imply that the "peace" caused by the Good Friday Agreement is the driving force, but anyone who lives here knows that is nonsense. I would say that better family life, more relaxed working life, good city layout and proximity to the country have a lot to do with it. I would also think that the influence of Christianity on the society has a lot to do with it too. Click on the photo for more info.

Dodgy Spiders in Continental Europe

Alarm has spread throughout Austria due to the large number of cases of individuals being bitten by the yellow sack spider, whose sting is painful, but not deadly. It seems that there are black widows in continental Europe as well. We're just not used to poisonous spiders in Europe! Click on the photo for more info.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Davis Family England Trip

For those of you who are interested, see here for reports on our recent visit to Enger-land, based in the counties around Oxford.