Monday, April 20, 2015
I have just launched Luminous Media. We are a media agency specialising in words and design – digital and print, with offices in South Wales and the South West.
You can take a look at our site and work here
And also a new blog here
We make our clients more visible through , and, , , and, and , and . The building blocks of .
Sunday, March 29, 2015
Sunday, October 05, 2014
People don’t change because they decide to be better. If that happened, then New Year’s Resolutions would work.
People decide to change because they elevate their loves. And as St. Augustine said, “You become what you love.”
But if you can’t talk about the struggle of sin, if you can’t talk about why some loves are higher than other loves, and ordered versus disordered loves, you don’t have the moral vocabulary, the mental tool kit to think about how to be better.
And the Christian tradition gives us that
Saturday, September 20, 2014
'Japanese Maple' is an achingly beautiful poem, worthy of reflection, by Clive James.
I'm reminded of Martyn Lloyd-Jones' comment to his daughter Elizabeth on the beauty of Tennyson's 'Crossing the Bar' as literature, but it's failure when it came to giving hope. Or again, as C S Lewis said in criticism of Rudyard Kipling, what was lacking was a 'doctrine of Ends', and what was left, in place of it, was 'a reverent Pagan agnosticism about all ultimates'.
Monday, June 23, 2014
The inimitable Luther on true theologians:
For as soon as God's Word takes root and grows in you, the Devil will harry you and will make a real theologian of you, for by his assaults he will teach you to seek and love God's Word. I myself am deeply indebted to my critics, that through the Devil's raging they have beaten, oppressed, and distressed me so much. That is to say, they have made a fairly good theologian of me, which I would not have become otherwise.
And Luther on false theologians (and donkeys):
Packer wrote the following gem about Luther's approach to doing theology:
When Martin Luther wrote the Preface to the first collected edition of his many and various writings, he went to town explaining in detail that theology, which should always be based on the Scriptures, should be done according to the pattern modelled in Psalm 119.
There, Luther declared, we see three forms of activity and experience make the theologian.
The first is prayer for light and understanding.
The second is reflective thought (meditatio), meaning sustained study of the substance, thrust, and flow of the biblical text.
The third is standing firm under pressure of various kinds (external opposition, inward conflict, and whatever else Satan can muster: pressures, that is, to abandon, suppress, recant, or otherwise decide not to live by, the truth God has shown from his Word.
Luther expounded this point as one who knew what he was talking about, and his affirmation that sustained prayer, thought, and fidelity to truth whatever the cost, became the path along which theological wisdom is found is surely one of the profoundest utterances that the Christian world has yet heard.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Here's some clear thinking to straighten out any wonky thoughts about the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son of God:
In using these terms we are of course speaking in a human and hence an imperfect language, a fact that makes us cautious. Yet we have the right to speak this language. For just as the Bible speaks analogically of God's ear, eye, and mouth, so human generation is an analogy and image of the divine deed by which the Father gives the Son "to have life in himself."
But when we resort to this imagery, we must be careful to remove all associations with imperfection and sensuality from it. The generation of a human being is imperfect and flawed. A husband needs a wife to bring forth a son. No man can ever fully impart his image, his whole nature, to a child or even to many children...But it is not so with God. (Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2, p. 308)
We must, accordingly, conceive that generation as being eternal in the true sense of the word. It is not something that was completed and finished at some point in eternity, but an eternal unchanging act of God, at once always complete and eternally ongoing. Just as it is natural for the sun to shine and for a spring to pour out water, so it is natural for the Father to generate the Son. The Father is not and never was ungenerative; he begets everlastingly. (RD Vol 2, p. 310)Gregory of Nyssa spoke well and wisely on this very point:
Again when it interprets to us the unspeakable and transcendent existence of the Only-begotten from the Father, as the poverty of human intellect is incapable of receiving doctrines which surpass all power of speech and thought, there too it borrows our language and terms him "Son,"--a name which our usage assigns to those who are born of matter and nature.
But just as Scripture, when speaking of generation by creation, does not in the case of God imply that such generation took place by means of any material, affirming that the power of God's will served for material substance, place, time and all such circumstances, even so here too, when using the term Son, it rejects both all else that human nature remarks in generation here below,--I mean affections and dispositions and the co-operation of time, and the necessity of place,--and, above all, matter, without all which natural generation here below does not take place.
But when all such material, temporal and local existence is excluded from the sense of the term "Son," community of nature alone is left, and for this reason by the title "Son" is declared, concerning the Only-begotten, the close affinity and genuineness of relationship which mark his manifestation from the Father. (Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Book II:9)
I'm re-reading Mike Horton's tome The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (a mere 990 pages if one chops off the glossary and indices). There is a fascinating footnote (p. 64, n.81, to be precise) with some representative extracts from Immanuel Kant.
Note the following from Religion and Rational Theology:
It is totally inconceivable, however, how a rational human being who knows himself to deserve punishment could seriously believe that he only has to believe the news of a satisfaction having been rendered for him, and (as the jurists say) accept itutiliter [for one's advantage], in order to regard his guilt as done away with...No thoughtful person can bring himself to this faith.That is Enlightenment man showing incredulity toward the atonement.
What lays at the very heart of sophisticated unbelief?
An attempt to deny the claims of God. The exclusion of God's assessment of our condition by nature and as a result of sin, the silencing of the voice from heaven in favour of our own meditations on our nature, identity and capacities. The declaration that man and not the living God will have the final say as to what is right, true and good.
At the epistemic level Kant located himself on the side of the serpent. The thoughtful and rational person, in Kant's vision, is too good to need saving, and certainly too thoughtful to flee to Christ and his cross for refuge, even if he is deserving of punishment. Instead of bowing his head before the claims of the Heavenly King we are confronted with a resistance at every turn against the external pressure of God's revelation.
Horton sums it up perfectly:
Kant, therefore, saw with great clarity the correlation between one's presuppositions about the human predicament and religious epistemology. None of the Enlightenment figures wanted knowledge for invoking the name of God (i.e., the gospel), because they did not believe they needed to be saved. (p. 110)
Saturday, June 07, 2014
Here are some fascinating extracts from the closing chapters of Claire Tomalin's biography of Thomas Hardy:
On Boxing Day  he asked for the Gospel account of the birth of Christ and the massacre of the innocents, and also the entries in the Encyclopedia Biblica, remarking when she [his wife Florence] had finished that there was not a grain of evidence that the Gospel was true.On the final day of his life Tomalin notes the following incident:
Then he dictated to Florence two rough and rude epitaphs on disliked contemporaries. One was George Moore, who had attacked him and was now accused of conceit. The other, ungrammatical but clear in its intentions, went for G. K. Chesterton:It was his final word against Church doctrine and in favour of rational thinking, exemplified by Darwin -- a magnificent blast from the sickbed.
The literary contortionist
Who prove and never turn a hair
That Darwin's theories were a snare...
And if one with him could not see
He'd shout his choice word 'Blasphemy'.
One of the final comments in the book breathes an air of sadness:
He knew the past like a man who has lived more than one span of life, and he understood how difficult it is to cast aside the beliefs of his forebears. At the same time he faced his own extinction with no wish to be comforted and no hope of immortality.The contrast between this ending and that of the seventy third psalm could not be more pronounced:
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.