Monday, December 11, 2006

Aggresive Secularism

Further to my previous post on how secularism is the real enemy of the Christian message, it was good to read Gordon Brown and John Sentamu's further contributions to the debate. This is how it was reported by Bible Society's Newswatch:

Gordon Brown has condemned some of the playgroups started as a result of his Sure Start programme for replacing Christmas with 'winter celebrations'. Speaking to a mixed faith audience in Wembley, he said 'children of all faiths in Britain will be looking forward to Christmas in a few weeks' time'. His comments came days after a survey found that 74 per cent of employers had banned Christmas decorations for fear of causing offence to other faiths. Meanwhile, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, stepped up his attacks on 'aggressive secularists' for 'throwing out the crib at Christmas'. 'Aggressive secularists' were unfairly using the sensitivities of other faiths to advance their own narrow, anti-religious agenda, he claimed.
Sources: Daily Mail (8/12); Daily Telegraph (8/12)

On Radio 4s 'Any Questions' on Saturday last, the panel were united on identifying an 'aggressive secularism' and in opposing it. The audience responded with enthusiastic applause. Ken Clarke pinpointed its source: public sector, politically-correct beaurocrats. Does this mean that these beaurocrats are all aggresive secularists? It puzzles me how a panel and audience can so wholeheartedly reject this militant anti-Christian agenda, and all the while it is being actioned by democratically elected Councils.

Friday, December 08, 2006

VdT evolving

VdT is evolving. My fellow bloggers and I are moving over to a new team blog at 100prophets and VdT will be my sole enterprise. Is it narcissism? I hope not! It's my interactive record of how my preconceptions are challenged as a 30-something theology student. I hope it helps me to reflect on God's word and the world and I hope that it will offer a forum for me to connect with, and learn from, other theo-bloggers, including my colleagues at 100prophets. It may prove to be an interesting record of my own Progress through Theology.

Monday, December 04, 2006

12 theses for biblical study

Check out Mike Bird's blog for something useful from Ben Witherington. It's 12 theses for biblical study, which are well worth a read and a few moments thought (more if you can spare them)....

Number One Theologian of the Week

Number One Theologian of the Week this week goes to Patrik Hagman, if only for the fact that he describes himself thus:

I am a Finnish theologian working on my Ph.D on a mystic named Isaac of Nineveh. I live in a house with my wife. There is a big garden around the house. I used to be a kind of religous fanatic, now I am a Radiohead fanatic, which is a great improvement (I'm still religous though).

See it for real at

The centre of NT Theology

I've just submitted my essay on What is the Centre of NT Theology? for my NT Introduction module. I slated mono-centric proposals, arguing that the narrative nature of salvation-history demands a multi-centric approach (a molecular rather than a nuclear model). I proposed a narrative approach to NT Theology as the way forward (not quite an original idea) and also had the temerity to propose that the overarching paradigm for New Testament Theology was likely to be the Kingdom of God. If you are bored, you might want to comment on this (but you might have better things to do...).

Federal vision and NPP

'I'm on a roll, I'm on a roll, this time...' Radiohead. But, I am on a roll with this blog today. If you're interested in the Federal Vision or the (so-called) New Perspective on Paul (preferably both) then you must/could/might check out the article Within The Bounds of Orthodoxy? An Examination of Both the Federal Vision and the New Perspective on Paul by Joseph Minich, on the link below. Why? Because John Frame said this about it:

I have read the article, and my judgment is that it is a wonderful piece. It is by far the best thing I've ever read on the Federal Vision and/or New Perspective. I hope this essay gets the widest possible distribution. People concerned with these issues, whatever their persuasion, need to meditate deeply about it. And it provides a model of careful, thorough, thoughtful theological criticism. Mr. Minich . . . has a great future as a Reformed theologian.

Link follows:

Thielman on righteousness

In Frank Thielman's New Testament Theology (which I like a lot) he says this about the righteousness of God (in a section entitled The Criterion for Acquittal in God's Court):
It is not merely the verdict of innocence that God pronounces over the one who has faith in Christ, but it is also a saving power by which God rescues those who have faith in Christ.


God's righteousness is a power that radically changes believers - it both saves them and demands their obedience (p462).

Stick that in your theological pipe and smoke it. It's good tobacco.


The Tabernacle. We're perhaps used to the complicated descriptions of the role of each of the pieces of funiture in the Tabernacle, but for me I've never been satisfied by an overarching metaphor that captures its purpose. Until now. I'm only starting on the road but Hector Morrison (my OT lecturer) believes that this metaphor is the Garden of Eden. This ties in with a view of the Garden of Eden as a sanctuary - and Waltke (good ol' Bruce) sees the Garden as a place in the earth set aside for communion with God in the context of work and life outside of the garden (if I understand him correctly). For me, this is all very exciting! To you, it may be boring....!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Today programme

Last Friday, the Today programme on Radio 4 came from the Royal Society. Lewis Morgan, speaking with the usual breath-taking naivity of the rationalist said:
'Scientific knowledge is value-free, it has no ethical content.'
Speaking more sense was the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sachs on In Search of God:

'Science is good at explaining things, but not so good at explaining people.'

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Scarecrows. Supply and demand. Reflected glory. Dull blue light. Credit. Voters. Bones. Loopholes. Credit.

Tell them how we feel. Let them know what is here.
Come inside this wasteland. Come and pull it apart.

Select writings from the artwork for AMNESIAC, RADIOHEAD

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chinese whispers

Today, the school was shut so the children sat in on 10 minutes of Nick Needham's church history class over the video link (they were off-camera and off-microphone so the giggling went un-noticed) until Rachel came to collect them. Over dinner they wanted to know why the man was talking about MyScene (a variant of Barbie) and Basil Brush. It was actually the Nicene Creed and Basil of Caesarea! Quite amusing!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dead orthodox

'A congregation of decent people, giving it laldie in the singing. Dead orthodox...dead respectable...dead.' Iain MacAskill on Rev 3, the letter to Sardis

Friday, November 17, 2006

'The people are out of Egypt, but Egypt is not out of the people. The whole of scripture from this point on is about taking Egypt out of the hearts of God's covenant people' Hector Morrison on the Murmuring Stories in Exodus 15 to 18.
'This world, in which common grace operates, is the atmosphere in which the kingdom comes. The kingdom is coming!' Sionaidh Eaglais

Monday, November 13, 2006

Here's what Packer has to say about Bavinck's Systematic Theology, now available in English:
Bavinck's Dutch masterwork was the Everest of which the textbooks by Louis Berkhof and Auguste Leoerf were foothills and Berkouwer's studies in dogmatics were outliers. Like Augustine, Calvin, and Edwards, Bavinck was a man of giant mind, vast learning, ageless wisdom and great expository skill, and to have his first volume now in full English, with a promise of the other three to come, is a wonderful enrichment. Solid but lucid, demanding but satisfying, broad and deep and sharp and stabilizing, Bavinck's magisterial Reformed Dogmatics remains after a century the supreme achievement of its kind. J. I. Packer
Berkhof now officially relegated to a foothill! When I say 'officially', I mean 'unofficially'. Packer is not 'officially' in any meaningful sense of the word. That's not to say his opinion is not meaningful - on the contrary....[tails off into indistinct muttering...]

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Was really blessed in singing the last two verses of Psalm 30 (Sing Psalms version) to close the communions preparatory service in Benbecula tonight...

You turned my wailing into dance/ no longer was I sad/My sackcloth gone, you gave me clothes/ of joy, and I was glad

Therefore my heart will sing to you/ and never cease to praise/ To your great name, O LORD my God/ I will give thanks always

Friday, November 10, 2006

In my Pentateuch classes, I'm covertly using an open copy of Bruce Waltke's commentary on Genesis during the class (this cannot be seen over the video link, due to my expert camera alignment). The occasional glance at Waltke turns up some good stuff - is there a better Genesis commentary, pound for pound? This is a quote from Hoekema found in Waltke's discussion on the 'image of God':
To be creatures means that God is the potter and we are the
clay; to be persons means that we are the ones who fashion our lives by our own
'Accordingly', says Waltke, 'humanity has the potential to sin and to accept God's grace.' Yes -we like Waltke.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Clement of Rome wrote his First Epistle to the Corinthians around 96AD - interesting to compare the situation he writes to with Paul's letters. Clement seems to be addressing a problem with people attacking the eldership. Noel Due, commenting on the Epistle says 'In all of this there is an implicit assumption that the correction of church structures will go a good way to dealing with the pastoral problems'.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

'The functions of Torah are totally subsumed by Jesus: he reveals God's will, he judges, he offers the spirit, he gives light, he sets free, he gives life. What Torah was as a text, Jesus is as living Son: God's Word' Johnson, Writings of the NT

Friday, October 27, 2006

'Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe' Abraham Lincoln.