Monthly Archives: June 2014
Sometimes I think I’ve never had an original idea in my life. It’s not at all that I like to follow the crowd. On the contrary I love discovering new truths. On occasions I’ve had a wonderful new insight, say from the Bible, or have drawn strands together from primary sources, and have shared it with friends who say they’ve never heard of that before, and think it’s great. A few months later, I’ll read the self-same thing in John Calvin or C S Lewis (or usually some much lesser luminary).
I’m posting below a reply I’ve made on BioLogos to a post by the president thereof, Deborah Haarsma. This is for the usual reason that BioLogos deletes comments after 6 months, and I don’t want this to be lost. In a thread discussing recent survey results on US belief about origins, she linked to an essay by Robert Bishop, which is a not only unexceptionable, but excellent survey of the biblical doctrine of creation. Read it if you want to know what I believe, and why. Its application to evolution is also good, but (paranoically or not, given BioLogos‘ track record) I notice some possible departure from the doctrine previously … Continue reading
I was intrigued last week to read a sketch by Charles Dickens about a shipload of British Mormons emigrating to Salt Lake City, c1860. I hadn’t realised it was that popular here so early. But in retrospect, researching family history some time ago, I’d come across a possible Garvey relative and his wife emigrating there about that time from Birmingham. They fit the Dickensian demographic to a tee. With that personal interest I idly decided to upgrade my knowledge of the early history of the movement.
I’m incredibly out of touch on current church affairs in my own country. I spend too much time on the transatlantic internet. Perhaps I ought to take a Christian newspaper or something. But I noticed yesterday that the British evangelical umbrella group, the Evangelical Alliance, had reluctantly expelled an affiliated organisation.
Following my previous discussion on inspiration here I finally got round to purchasing Hodge and Warfield’s classic 1881 text on biblical inspiration, under the mistaken impression it would be a weighty tome. In fact it was only a paper published in the Presbyterian Review and turns out to be available free online here, for your edification.
After writing about the abuse of Irenaeus’s thought, and the resulting re-packaging of the doctrine of sin, I thought it would be good to check up on the history of that doctrine, and pulled out Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology. It’s written from a Reformed position but always covers other views pretty thoroughly. To my surprise, I found immediate support for my reading of Irenaeus, even though I was aware Berkhof wrote before “the Irenaean theodicy” had been invented by John Hick:
Doing the recent piece on Hosea and the essential mystery of God (which I now see Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology entitles “God Incomprehensible but yet Knowable” in his 2nd chapter), I was put in mind of the slightly dysfunctional discussion we had on God’s torturing babies infants for pleasure in a previous column.
Once again on BioLogos, Irenaeus has been enlisted as a recruit for an evolutionary view of sin, providing a debunking of Augustine’s view of both sin and the fall. As I and others pointed out there, this “Irenaean theodicy” is actually filtered through the view of the very much more modern, and probably less evangelical, John Hick. The basic premise, though, is that rather than sin being the radical historic fall of an actual first man into a state alien to his God-given nature, “sin” (now largely repackaged as “selfishness”) is an inevitable part of our evolutionary heritage, and so is to be seen (this is where Irenaeus comes in) … Continue reading
Reading the book of Hosea again reminds me of the first time I was introduced to Jürgen Moltmann’s work. Interestingly it was at a rock festival, a Christian one, in 1984 and the introduction was made by Rev Graham Cray talking about Mission. Graham had, at that time, replaced the celebrated David Watson at St Michael-le-Belfry in York, but he went on to be principal of Ridley Hall Theological College and then Bishop of Reading. “Moltmann’s brilliant on some things,” he enthused, before adding, “…and dodgy on others.” Counsel that has stood me in good stead ever since.