Saturday, 4 September 2010

One exception

I know, I'm not blogging at the moment.

But I just found a lovely quote which I wanted to share, and it's in the midst of sermon prep, so not time-wasting.

Derek Kidner on Psalm 110 mentions in a footnote those who dispute Davidic authorship:
The majority of present critics dissent more moderately from the New Testament
view of the psalm by seeing it as an enthronement oracle for either David or one
of his successors, spoken to him by an anonymous cultic official. Our Lord and
the apostles, it is understood, were denied this insight.


Saturday, 2 January 2010

Goodbye for now

Don't come by in 2010. I shall neither post nor read blogs this year.

I don't post often, or indeed say anything particularly interesting, so no-one will miss this.

I will miss other blogs, which often give food for thought, exegetical nuggets, careful reflections on events etc. But, on balance, I think I will gain even more from giving time I would spend blogging to reading and proper thought.

I also have more books to review and articles to write (which take considerably more time than blogging) for Ecclesia Reformanda, a superb journal of British Reformed theology, which had a fantastic first year in 2009, and looks for an even better one this year. So if you want to keep up with what I'm thinking and reading, subscribe!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Bargain Calvin

If you don't already own Calvin's Commentaries, you should. Shop here before Sunday and you get a free copy of the Institutes as well (sadly the Beveridge translation), all for $100. Can't say fairer than that!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

No means Yes, and Yes means Yes

Counting is underway in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty for a new EU Constitution (I know they claim it's just a tidying-up exercise - like Hercules and the Augean Stables was just a spring-clean).

Of course, 18 months ago, the people of Ireland said No to the treaty, by 53.4% to 46.6%. But that wasn't what the government, opposition, business or the rest of the EU wanted to hear, so they just asked the question again.

Can we assume that if the answer is yes this time, there'll be another one in 18 months to check people haven't changed their minds? I think not.

It's rather like the Church of England's General Synod. If you want to see women ordained, just keep asking the question. Eventually people will say yes, but then funnily enough, the question doesn't get asked again.

It looks like the Irish will say yes this time. Not because they've really changed their minds, but because when you're suffering economic hardship you don't bite the hand that feeds. but if they don't, will the government just ask again in another year, and keep asking until they get the answer they want.

I must confess, we sometimes try the same tactic with our toddler - just keep asking until he gives the answer we want. Perhaps that says something about Governments' attitudes to their people - they're fickle children, but nanny knows best!

Friday, 28 August 2009

The government can...

Wonderful musical satire of over-reaching government. HT: Pete Jackson

Wonder what Tim Hawkins would make of the British government?!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Playing with fire

This is scary.

Usually my disagreements with the climate warriors are to do with the fact that:
  1. It is still not at all obvious that climate chaange is man-caused, or carbon-caused.
  2. The tyrannical attempts of the climate warriors to silence their opponents (like having them expelled from the Royal Academy)
  3. The call to give overbearing powers to governments and the UN to enforce this hypothesis.

However, the idea of "geo-engineering" artificial trees and reflecting sunlight back into space with mirrored roofing rings alarm bells.

I am not a scientist, at all. But I do recall lots of situations where previous generations of scientists have 'solved' one problem by creating a new one. In 1935, 102 cane toads were released into Queensland to control beetles who were destroying the sugar cane crop. It failed, and the beetles are still wrecking crops. However, the cane toad succeeded in becoming massively widespread, but it is so poisonous it kills both its prey and its predators, even crocodiles, and has almost wiped out many of Australia's endangered species.

Of course, each generation of scientists thinks they're so much better informed now that they wouldn't have made the same mistake. But if we really could reflect a significant quantity of sunlight back into space, who's to say we won't overdo it. We're always being warned that doing the wrong thing vis-a-vis our climate could have apocalyptic consequences. I hope the climate warriors listen to their own warnings.

Sometimes the cure is worse than the problem.

Perhaps my scientific readers may care to comment (not you Marc!)?

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Friday, 3 July 2009

Blowing global warming out of the bath

The link in the previous post to the Telegraph alerted me to the Manhattan Declaration, issued last year by almost 800 distinguished scientists of climate and related fields, arguing:

Hereby declare:
That current plans to restrict anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a dangerous
misallocation of intellectual capital and resources that should be dedicated to
solving humanity’s real and serious problems.
That there is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern
industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause
catastrophic climate change.
That attempts by governments to inflict taxes and costly regulations on
industry and individual citizens with the aim of reducing emissions of CO2 will
pointlessly curtail the prosperity of the West and progress of developing
nations without affecting climate.
That adaptation as needed is massively more cost-effective than any
attempted mitigation, and that a focus on such mitigation will divert the
attention and resources of governments away from addressing the real problems of
their peoples.
That human-caused climate change is not a global crisis.

Now, therefore, we recommend –
That world leaders reject the views expressed by the United Nations
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as popular, but misguided
works such as “An Inconvenient Truth”.
That all taxes, regulations, and other
interventions intended to reduce emissions of CO2 be abandoned forthwith.

Why had I not heard about this before? Surely not a global political and media conspiracy to silence the 'unhelpful' voices?

Silencing the dissenting expert

Apparently, regardless of how expert you are in any science, you're not welcome if you cast doubt on anthropogenic climate change.

HT: Tim Ambrose

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Call the Spirit "She"?

No doubt many evangelicals will be rejoicing over the appointment of 'yet another evangelical bishop'. The Rev'd Dr Graham Kings was appointed a few weeks ago as suffragan Bishop of Sherborne. Unfortunately he also wrote a recent Pentecost piece for Fulcrum addressing the Holy Spirit as "She".

Monday, 8 June 2009

Dyslexic Politics

I've heard that one of the downsides of dyslexia is a tendency to confuse left and right. Well, I've been hearing that all morning on the news with the description of the British National Party as a "far-right" party.

Let me say immediately I think they're pretty unpleasant, and dishonest. Their claim not be racist is pretty quickly undone by reading the manifesto, and I would not advise anyone to vote for them.

However, I am not convinced the description "far-right" is accurate. If anything, I'd say the BNP is further left-wing than it is right. [Jam Cary has digested some careful and perceptive thoughts on left-right confusion here, here and here.]

Let's look at the manifesto.

In what ways is the BNP clearly right-wing?
It supports capital punishment and corporal punishment for certain crimes, and seems to uphold retribution/desert as the key principle of punishment, rather than deterrence or rehabilitation.
It advocates the devolution of power to the most local level possible.
It promotes full withdrawal from the European Union.

However, it seems to me that on far more policies the BNP is a left-wing party, in the sense of a party of state intervention:
They advocate trade protectionism, placing tariffs on foreign goods entering the British market.
They advocate the restoration of the economy and land to British ownership, though without specifying how. Presumably some state action will be necessary, violating the property rights and freely-entered-into contracts of foreign parties in the UK.
They advocate state-enforced preference to 'native' workers in the job market.
They advocate state-enforced brek-up of commercial monopolies.
They advocate workers' co-operatives, primed with public money.
They support government involvement in education, and the promotion of healthy living.
They would spend govt money on agricultural self-sufficiency.
They oppose rail privatisation, and would invest substantial govt spending on transport infrastructure projects.
They would enforce by law minimum environmental standards on companies and individuals.
Savings made from EU withdrawal (£43million a day it costs us to be members) would not be returned to taxpayers but would be spent on govt projects.

Ultimately, the BNP is a high tax, high-spend, govt-controls-your-life party, a bit like Labour, and the Lib Dems, and increasingly the Tories.

People forget the Nazi Party was a Socialist party. I've heard people say that at the extremes, Left and Right are actually very close together, and the example used is Stalin and Hitler. But the point that is overlooked is that Hitler wasn't a right-winger, he was on the far-left!

So, it's not really surprising that the increase in the BNP vote is in historically Labour areas. Except for the nasty racism and EUphobia, there isn't really a great distance between them.

By all means, bemoan the BNP. But let's be honest (unlike them), and stop calling them "far-right".

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Protestant division

John Richardson has a fantastic series of posts on the danger of schism and the primacy of self in Protestantism, here, here, here, and here. Go and read.

It's out

Ecclesia Reformanda 1.1 has arrived. Articles and reviews are superb.

Ros has some pretty pictures of it to go with her pretty blog.
You can read the first editorial free online.
You can subscribe here. I still have 11 copies left, though if there's sufficient demand we can always print more.

Go on, you know you want to...

Saturday, 4 April 2009

The Episcopal Church excels itself

The Episcopal Church in the United States seems determined to make itself as abhorrent as possible to the majority of Christians around the world. If it wasn't so tragic and wicked, sometimes it would appear like an episode of Yes Prime Minister.

Their latest triumph, reported in this week's Church of England Newspaper is to appoint the Rev'd Dr Katharine Ragsdale as Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Massachusetts. She is openly homosexual, though that's no surprise, as it's becoming a prerequisite for high office in TEC. The horror is her comments on abortion. Again, the fact that she's pro-abortion is sad but not surprising. She spent 17 years on the board of Religions Coalition for Reproductive Choice, including 8 years as Chair.

Here are some comments from a 2007 sermon, quoted in CEN:

"Abortion is a blessing."
"Abortionists are engaged in holy work."

“When a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion - there is not a tragedy in sight — only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing,”

She concluded the sermon with some audience participation:
"Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.”

I would hope that even the most ardent 'pro-choicer' would be horrified by such comments. Even if you think it's legitimate and necessary, surely everyone can see the great sadness involved in the termination of a foetus?

It seems to me that the comment about enjoying God's gift of sexuality gets ot the heart of TEC spirituality. Everything always seems to come back to sex. For TEC, your sex life seems to be the key thing that identifies you and gives your life meaning. How shallow!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Ants and Grasshoppers

I was provoked by a comment in Time magazine this week about the need for our wealth-creators to stop being grasshoppers and become ants. So I've fished out this old story:

The Ant & The Grasshopper

Version 1 – the Classic Version
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.
The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.
The End

Version 2 – The British Version [we might now title it the G20 fiscal stimulus version]
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.
The shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like him, are cold and starving. The BBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper, with cuts to a video of the ant in his comfortable warm home in Hampstead with a table laden with food.
The British are stunned that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so much while others have plenty. The Liberal Party, the Respect Party, the Transvestites With Starving Babies Party, the Single Lesbian One Eyed Mothers Party and the Coalition Against Poverty demonstrate in front of the ant's house. The BBC, interrupting a Rastafarian cultural festival special from Grimsby with breaking news, broadcasts them singing ‘We Shall Overcome.’
Ken Livingstone laments in an interview with Panorama that the ant has got rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his ‘fair share’. In response, the Labour Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti-Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant’s taxes are reassessed, and he is also fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as helpers.
Without enough money to pay the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by Camden Council. The ant moves to France, and starts a successful AgriBiz company with the help of EU funding (although within weeks his business is threatened with compulsory purchase by the state unless he marries a French ant).
The BBC later shows the now fat grasshopper finishing up the last of the ant's food, though Spring is still months away, while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he hasn't bothered to maintain it. Inadequate government funding is blamed, Diane Abbot is appointed to head a commission of enquiry that will cost £?0,000,000.
The grasshopper is soon dead of a drug overdose. The Guardian blames it on the obvious failure of the Government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity. The abandoned house is taken over by a gang of immigrant spiders, praised by the government for enriching Britain’s multicultural diversity, who promptly set up a marijuana-growing operation and terrorize the community.
The End

And what the G20 are planning this week is to fleece all the ants (and their children, grandchildren and subsequent generations) to within an inch of bankruptcy, to look after all the grasshoppers.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

A wonderful new publication

I'm delighted to announce the launch of Ecclesia Reformanda: British Reformed Theology.

It's an exciting new journal for pastors, theological students, and scholars, that seeks to serve the Church in its ongoing reformation according to God's Word.

Ecclesia Reformanda is distinctively Reformed, with a contemporary cutting edge. It presents some of the best in British Reformed thinking and writing to serve the Church, her teachers, and her Lord.

The journal covers all of the theological subdisciplines, and early issues will include articles on intertextuality in Romans 2, poetry in James, the place of children in the new covenant according to Jeremiah 32, Jim Jordan's hermeneutics, Herman Bavinck's theological method, and John Owen's doctrine of justification. Future editions will contain articles on ethics, public theology, and pastoral counselling.

Editorial Board: Matthew Mason, Ros Clarke, me, and David Field

As Managing Editor, I'm obviously biased, but I think it should be a valuable addition to the world of theology resources.

Please subscribe: