Friday, April 27, 2007

Rowan Williams on the State

"The modern state needs a robust independent tradition of moral perception with which to engage. Left to itself, it cannot generate the self-critical energy that brings about change – change, that is, for the sake of some positive human ideal. As a guarantor of security, internal and external, and increasingly as a broker and provider of people’s ‘market’ requirements, it is not equipped to work as moral forum. The increasing assimilation of the state, in ways that would have startled Wilberforce’s contemporaries, to the provider of goods demanded by a population means that the primary question is likely to be about the means of provision rather than the ideology cal desirability of what is demanded. Quite understandably, the experience of command economies in the twentieth century and the appalling oppressiveness of systems that have had clear definitions of ideological desirability have strengthened the case for a severely neutral state apparatus and have reinforced the growth of the ‘market state’. But this leaves it with a set of questions about its moral legitimacy that cannot be left indefinitely ignored."

Rowan Williams

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

English Hymns and meta-narrative

England is a story. Is a story that has come define the sceptered island and to a large part, the English speaking western world. It is a story that is full of contradictions. Notably, this story is founded upon the principles of freedom, liberty and equity; however it is fed and sustained by the story of empire.
The English story is constituted and defined by its own meta-narrative - which is most commonly expressed in the national and anthems of England.
This story tells of England, the divinely appointed vicegerent who is allotted as the steward on this globe of freedom and right, of morals and justice. Not only is this the "White Man's burden", it is every decent Englishman's burden - to bring "civilisation to the uncivilised"; to resist the tyranny of European tyrants, whether it be 1940, 1805, 1588, or 60AD; to set men free and stave off the encroaches of popery; to challenge the ugly power off rule at home (1215, 1641, 1688), and give power to those who don't have it (begrudgingly in 1830 and 1833). This is the story of Magna Carta, the Glorious Revolution, the Armada, Waterloo, the Charist movement and so much more. This is a land of hope and glory, where the people shall never be slaves, and the King, crowned as Solomon to the splendour of Handel, shall be sent victorious and reign happy and glorious over his new Israel.
This is the English story, well, at least what we've been told for the past three centuries. This next series of posts will analyse how famous English Hymns and Anthems were written as an embodiment of this story. Until then, ponder these words:

When Britain first at Heav'n's command
Arose from out the azure main;
Arose, arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter, the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never will be slaves!
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never will be slaves!
10 points for the identity and location of the statue. Another 10 points for the irony in the symbolism of the statue.

O'Donovan is coming to Sydney

New College Lecture Series 2007
Series Lecturer: Prof Oliver O’Donovan, PhD DPhil FBA. Professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, the University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, Scotland.
Series Title: Morally awake? Admiration and resolution in the light of Christian faith
The experience of moral wakefulness, of the mind alert to shape decision and action, is universal. But ways of describing the experience, and the philosophical puzzles they pose, are legion. And how do we overcome the constant tensions that arise within it between the objective and subjective, between valuing and deciding, between the “good” and the “right”? The resources of Christian faith shed light on this commonest and yet most mysterious of human experiences. In doing so, they bring us back into contact with some unities that common intellectual life has tended to overlook—between philosophy and theology, for example, and between theory and practice.
Series Dates: September 4, 5 and 6, 2007

H/T to Tim Robertson

Friday, April 20, 2007

Another Hymn (or is it?)

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word—
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!

Kipling famous memorial poem - imperial dribble or imperial penance. I can't work it out.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Great Hymns we don't sing no more

The Church’s one foundation

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.

O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains,
Where in sweet vales the Bride
With Thee by living fountains
Forever shall abide!

Words: Sam­uel J. Stone, Lyra Fi­del­i­um; Twelve Hymns of the Twelve Ar­ti­cles of the Apos­tle’s Creed (Lon­don: Messrs. Park­er and Co., 1866).

Oh no, hymns about the church! I must be a papist!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

This is my Father's World

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

Malt­bie D. Bab­cock, 1901.

H/T the OC Supertones.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Augustine on love and worship

What do I love when I love you? Not the beauty of any body or the rhythm of time in its movement; not the radiance of light, so dear to our eyes; not the sweet melodies in the world of manifold sounds; not the perfume of flowers, ointments and spices; not manna and not honey; not the limbs so delightful to the body’s embrace: it is none of these things that I love when I love my God. And yet when I love my God I do indeed love a light and a sound and a perfume and a food and an embrace – a light and sound and perfume and food and embrace in my inward self. There my soul is flooded with a radiance which no space can contain; there a music sounds which time never bears away; there I smell a perfume which no wind disperses; there I taste a food that no surfeit embitters; there is an embrace which no satiety severs. It is this that I love when I love my God
And yet, when I love him, I do indeed love a certain kind of ligh, a voice, a fragrance, a food, an embrace; but this love takes place in my inner person, where my soul is bathed in light that is not bound by space; when it listens to sound that time never takes away; when it breathes in a fragrance which no breeze carries away; when it tastes food which no eating can diminish; when it clings to an embrace which is not broken when desire is fulfilled. This is what I love when
I love my God.

Confessions 10.6

H/T Byron. 10 points for the location of the picture

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Going Beyond Evangelicalism (part 1 of 2)

This interview with John Stott was originally published in 'Working
Together', the magazine of the Australian Evangelical Alliance. The
second half will be included in the May 2007 issue of Oz-e-Con.


JOHN STOTT: An evangelical is a plain, ordinary Christian standing in
the mainstream of historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity. So we can
recite the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed without crossing our
fingers. We believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ and in the
Holy Spirit. Having said that, there are two particular things we like
to emphasise: the concern for authority on the one hand and salvation
on the other.

For evangelical people, our authority is the God who has spoken
supremely in Jesus Christ. And that is equally true of redemption or
salvation. God has acted in and through Jesus Christ for the salvation
of sinners.

What God has SAID in Christ and in the biblical witness to Christ, and
what God has DONE in and through Christ, are both, to use the Greek
word, 'hapax', meaning once and for all. There is a finality about
God's word in Christ, and there is a finality about God's work in
Christ. To imagine that we could add a word to his word or add a work
to his work is extremely derogatory to the unique glory of our Lord
Jesus Christ.


STOTT: I did actually but you didn't notice it. I said Christ and the
biblical witness to Christ. But the really distinctive emphasis is on
Christ. I want to shift conviction from a book, if you like, to a
person. As Jesus himself said, the Scriptures bear witness to me.
Their main function is to witness to Christ.


STOTT: I believe that very strongly. We believe in the authority of
the Bible because

Christ has endorsed its authority. He stands between the two
testaments. As we look back to the Old Testament, he has endorsed it.
As we look forward to the New Testament, we accept it because of the
apostolic witness to Christ. He deliberately chose and appointed and
prepared the apostles, in order that they might have their unique
apostolic witness to him. I like to see Christ in the middle,
endorsing the old, preparing for the new. Although the question of the
New Testament canon is complicated, in general we are able to say that
canonicity is apostolicity.


STOTT: I look back – it's been sixty-one years since I was ordained –
and when I was ordained in the Church of England, evangelicals in that
church were a despised and rejected minority. The bishops lost no
opportunity to ridicule us. Over the intervening sixty years, I've
seen the evangelical movement in England grow in size, in maturity,
and certainly in scholarship, and therefore I think in influence and
impact. We went from a ghetto to being on the ascendancy, which is a
very dangerous place to be.


STOTT: Pride is the ever-present danger that faces all of us. In many
ways it is good for us to be despised and rejected. I think of Jesus'
words, 'Woe unto you when all men speak well of you.' Going back to
the 'hapax', it's a very humbling concept. The essence of
evangelicalism is very humbling. You have William Temple saying, 'The
only thing of my very own which I contribute to redemption is the sin
from which I need to be redeemed.'


STOTT: This enormous growth is a fulfilment of God's promise to
Abraham in Genesis 12:1-4. God promised Abraham not only to bless him,
not only to bless his family or his posterity, but through his
posterity to bless all the families of the earth. Whenever we look at
a multi-ethnic congregation, we are seeing a fulfilment of that
amazing promise of God. A promise made by God to Abraham 4,000 years
ago is being fulfilled right before our very eyes today.


STOTT: The answer is 'growth without depth'. None of us wants to
dispute the extraordinary growth of the church. But it has been
largely numerical and statistical growth. And there has not been
sufficient growth in discipleship that is comparable to the growth in

Monday, April 02, 2007

Bishop Tom v. Jeffrey John

"Easter message: Christ did not die for sin "
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones., Sunday Telegraph

The Church's traditional teaching of Christ's crucifixion is "repulsive" and "insane", a controversial cleric will claim on the BBC this week.

The Very Rev Jeffrey John, who had to withdraw before taking up an appointment as bishop of Reading in 2003 after it emerged he was in a long-term homosexual relationship, is set to ignite a row over one of the most fundamental tenets of Christian belief.

Clergy who preach this Easter that Christ was sent to earth to die in atonement for the sins of mankind are "making God sound like a psychopath", he will say.

In a BBC Radio 4 show, Mr John, who is now Dean of St Albans, urges a revision of the traditional explanation, known as "penal substitution".

Christian theology has taught that because humans have sinned, God sent Christ as a substitute to suffer and die in our place.

"In other words, Jesus took the rap and we got forgiven as long as we said we believed in him," says Mr John. "This is repulsive as well as nonsensical. It makes God sound like a psychopath. If a human behaved like this we'd say that they were a monster."

Mr John argues that too many Christians go through their lives failing to realise that God is about "love and truth", not "wrath and punishment". He offers an alternative interpretation, suggesting that Christ was crucified so he could "share in the worst of grief and suffering that life can throw at us".

Church figures have expressed dismay at his comments, which they condemn as a "deliberate perversion of the Bible". The Rt Rev Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham, accused Mr John of attacking the fundamental message of the Gospel.

"He is denying the way in which we understand Christ's sacrifice. It is right to stress that he is a God of love but he is ignoring that this means he must also be angry at everything that distorts human life," he said.

Bishop Wright criticised the BBC for allowing such a prominent slot to be given to such a provocative argument. "I'm fed up with the BBC for choosing to give privilege to these unfortunate views in Holy Week," he said.

The Rev Rod Thomas, of the evangelical group Reform, accused Mr John of "attacking the fundamental nature of the Gospel". Reform, which represents about 600 clergy, opposed Mr John's nomination as bishop in 2003.

Mr Thomas said denying the "wrathful" nature of God was an attempt to play down the importance of sin and allow a more liberal approach to sexuality.