Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Christian Hedonism

It seems I was the only Christian involved in ministry in Sydney who did not attend the recently heavily promoted John Piper talks. I have heard from colleagues who did that Piper once again expounded his version of Christian hedonism with which we are familiar from his writings: 'God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.' Reactions I have heard range from cautions endorsement to outright rejection of Piper's message as being 'another gospel.' It might be helpful then to draw attention to these more balanced critiques by Paul Helm here and here. I wonder if Piper would be better focussing on the more pervasive Biblical language of 'love' for God which has an affective element as well as a commitment to obedience, but does not focus on my satisfaction.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Bill Dumbrell's latest book.

Australian Biblical scholar Bill Dumbrell has just published the latest in his series of New Covenant commentaries on the book of Revelation. See a report on the launch here. This volume grew out of a series of lectures Bill gave at PTC some years ago which I found very stimulating, and of course his lifetime of reflecting on how the Bible fits together.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

That Dangerous Book

John McClean (now officially a doctor - congratulations John) has written a great piece for the ABC Religion and Ethics website on the King James Bible on its 400th anniversary. The Bible is a dangerous book, he warns. Check it out.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Hebrew Keyboard for Linux

For any who use the Linux operating system, here is a link for a Hebrew keyboard to which the SBL site draws attention.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Australian Biblical Scholar Honoured
Recently a Presentation Dinner was held at the PTC to honour noted Australian Biblical scholar and author William (Bill) Dumbrell for his significant contribution to Australian Biblical scholarship (including teaching at the PTC). Bill has helped generations of students and readers to see how the Bible fits together. An Everlasting Covenant: Biblical and Theological Essays Presented to William J. Dumbrell is edited by John Davies and Allan Harman and published by the Reformed Theological Review in its Supplement Series.
This volume of studies, organised around the theme of covenant, includes contributions from Australian and overseas scholars (former students and colleagues of Bill's), including several PTC staff and postgrads (Steven Coxhead, John Davies, John McClean and Joe Mock).
It is available from RTR, PO Box 635, Doncaster, Vic., Australia 3108. $35 plus $3 postage in Australia (Asia $8.80; elsewhere $13).

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Bavinck on the Trinity

"The moment monotheism is not supported by the doctrine of the Trinity, it risks losing its purity, being threatened by pantheism or monism, on the one hand, and by polytheism and pluralism, on the other." Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Volume 2. God and Creation J. Bolt, ed. ; J. Vriend, trans. (Baker Academic, 2004), 119.

A great insight. Without the doctrine of the Trinity the pressure for unity will force us to include all things in God, or the pressure for diversity will lead us to splinter our idea of God. Only the doctrine of the Trinity allows a view of God who is both the transcendent and immanent Creator, the source of both unity and diversity.

Wilberforce's 'A Practical View' - Get to Know the Classics this Monday night

It's Federal Election season in Australia, and one of the issues that has already arisen is the relevance of 'religion' (or irreligion!) to political policy and action. How timely - for this coming Monday night my topic in Get to Know the Classics is William Wilberforce and his A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes of This Country Contrasted With Real Christianity published in 1797.

OK: the title is not pithy, but the topic is vital. How should evangelical Christians act on their personal Christian convictions when they reach the 'public square'? We know that Wilberforce - 'the conscience of England' in his time - did act, and left a lasting legacy. Having studied his life and times in the last few weeks, it seems clear to me that the world in which we live today would not be as it is, but for God's work through this man, and the other like-minded men and women who surrounded him.

Could it be that Wilberforce and his book might still have something to say to us - even to challenge us - in our own day?

Here are some quotations from Wilberforce and others about his intentions and achievements in A Practical View.

'The subject is of infinite importance; do not let it be driven out of our minds by the rush of life and the empty pleasures. Soon this present scene, with all its cares and gaieties, will be rolled away, and we will all stand before God’s judgment seat’ (Romans 14:10). This awful consideration prompts the writer to express himself with greater freedom and justifiable frankness, and will, he trusts, secure him a serious and patient reading.

'If what is stated appears needlessly austere and rigid, the writer would ask not to be condemned, without a fair examination as to whether or not his statements accord with Scripture' [William Wilberforce, Introduction as printed in the 1885 edition]

'I deem it the most valuable and important publication of the present age… I shall be glad to look to you (at least to your book)… to strengthen my motives for running the uncertain remainder of my race with alacrity.' [John Newton]

'[A Practical View has given me]… unspeakable comfort… If I live, I shall thank Wilberforce for having sent such a book into the world.' [Edmund Burke having spent most of his final two days reading it]

[For the first time I] understood the vital character of personal religion, the corruption of the human heart and the way of salvation through Jesus Christ' [Legh Richmond, leading evangelical, about his reading of the book when he was a somewhat worldly curate on the Isle of Wight]

The story of Wilberforce is both inspiring and instructive, and my goal for Monday night is to give you a hearty feed of both.