Monday, July 31, 2006

Kings, Wise and Ununwise Men in Mt 2

I've just started using Tom Wright's little Matthew For Everyone (SPCK, 2002) commentary in my quiet times (into which the wife has encouraged renewed discipline!). And I thought this on Matthew 2:1-12 was suggestive:

What he [Matthew] tells us [in the story of the visit of the Magi] is political dynamite. Jesus, Matthew is saying, is the true king of the Jews, and old Herod is the false one, a usurper, and an impostor....

Wright explains that here, at the start of his gospel, Matthew has significant members of Gentile nations bow to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew will end his gospel with Jesus commissioning his followers to go out and make disciples from every nation; this, it seems, is the way that the prophecies of the Messiah's worldwide rule are going to come true....

There is another way as well in which this story points ahead to the climax of the gospel. Jesus will finally come face to face with the representative of the world's greatest king - Pilate, Ceasar's subordinate. Pilate will have rather different gifts to give him, though he, too, is warned by a dream not to do anything to him (27.19). His soldiers are the first Gentiles since the Magi to call Jesus 'king of the Jews' (27.29), but the crown they give him is made of thorns, and his throne is a cross. At that moment, instead of a bringt star, there will be an unearthly drakness (27.45), out of which we shall hear a single Gentile voice: yes, he really was God's son (27.54).

Whom will we have for our king: Herod, Jesus, Caesar?

Whom will we be like, the Magi, Herod, Pilate, the Centurion?

And I got to wondering if we might see Adam typology going on here too?

Revd Dr Field suggested a fresh thought to me at our wedding, by the way, that the Bridegroom at the Wedding at Canna (as the responsible head of a new household, in a marriage) might be seen as a failed Adam.

Herod is a rebel Adam, a rebel king. In the context of Jesus' birth, it is natural to think of the incarnation, of Jesus the man, the Man, the Man who is King: the True Adam.

Stupid on-line quiz survey thing

A couple of my friends (who have blogs of which I am an avid reader) seem to be into these stupid on-line quiz survey thingies. On Ros Clarke's blog there is a computer generated attempt to summarize her excellent Biblical Reformed and I think it's safe to say Post-Millenial, Law-loving views. The usually discerning Liam Beadle's blog is covered in a rash of the things and a number of his Christian friends seem to be spending a fair amount of profitlless gospel-man-hours on the things.

Such quizes properly belong to teenage girls' magazines, to my mind?

So can someone please wax lyrical on the attraction of such surveys?

Yes, I admit, I feel mildly interested, but I'm not sure I can be bothered - especially when there's all that work (reading Warfield) to be getting on with... That's why I've spent most of the morning checking the blogs and why I was most disappointed that no one joined us for coffee and chat in the academic centre foyer this morning. We'd even brought along homemade biscuits. What more can one do?

Anyway, yes, I admit, I did one of these surveys, and it called me a fundamentalist! Can you believe it? Which has rather put me in a grump with them. Stupid things. I'm inclined to unthinkingly reject that scientific finding with which I disagree and remain a Reformed Protestant Catholic (Conservative) Evangelical Christian Anglican, whatever the world says.

For what it's worth, the results were:

You scored as Fundamentalist.

You are a fundamentalist. You take the Bible as the foundation of your faith and read it very literally, and it shapes your worldview. Non-fundamentalist Christians have watered-down the Gospel in your view, and academic study of the Bible stops us from 'taking God at his word.' Science is opposed to faith, as it contradicts basic biblical truths.

Neo orthodox




Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Reformed Evangelical


Roman Catholic




Classical Liberal




Modern Liberal


For those wishing to waste their time and probably be misinforned, if not slanderd, the theological world-view quiz can be found at:, I believe.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Christ In Every Book

No doubt there are a many different ways of doing this, and some of them might be better than this one, but what a good idea to have a line or two on ways in which each book of the Bible prsents the Lord Jesus Christ:

This is from

Christ in every book was presented by Pastor James Hayes from the South Peoria Baptist Church, Peoria, AZ, during a message given in December of 1994.


Christ is the theme of the entire revelation of God. He is promised in Genesis, revealed in the law, prefigured in its history, praised in its poetry, proclaimed in its prophecy provided in its Gospels, proved in its Acts, preeminient in its Epistles and prevailing in Revelation.

He is seen in every book of the Bible. Take a journey through the halls of the Bible and in every one of them you will see Christ.

IN Genesis He is the Seed of the woman
IN Exodus the Lamb for sinners slain
IN Leviticus our High Priest
IN Numbers The Star of Jacob
IN Deuteronomy The Prophet like unto Moses and the Great Rock
IN Joshua the Captain of the Lord of Hosts
IN Judges the Messenger of Jehovah
IN Ruth our Kinsman Redeemer and Faithful Bridegroom
IN 1 Samuel He is seen as the Great Judge
IN 2 Samuel He is the Princely King
IN 1 Kings as David's choice
IN 2 Kings as the Holiest of all
IN 1 Chronicles as the King by birth
IN 2 Chronicles as King by judgement
IN Ezra He is seen as Lord of Heaven and Earth
IN Nehemiah as the Builder
IN Esther our Mordecai
IN Job our Daysman and our Risen Returning Redeemer
IN Psalms the Son of God and the Good Shepherd
IN Proverbs our Wisdom
IN Ecclesiastes as the One Above the Sun
IN Song of Solomon the Great Church Lover, the One Altogether
Lovely and the Chiefest among Ten Thousand
IN Isaiah He is the Suffering and Glorified Servant
IN Jeremiah the Lord Our Righteousness
IN Lamentations the Man of Sorrows
IN Ezekiel the Glorious God
IN Daniel the Smithing Stone and the Messiah
IN Hosea He is the Risen Son of God
IN Joel the Out Pourer of the Spirit
IN Amos the Eternal Christ
IN Obadiah the Forgiving Christ
IN Jonah the Risen Prophet
IN Micah the Bethlehemite
IN Nahum He is the Bringer of Good Tidings
IN Habakkuk the Lord in His Holy Temple
IN Zephaniah the Merciful Christ
IN Haggai the Desire of All Nations
IN Zechariah the Branch
IN Malachi the Son of Righteousness with Healing in His Wings

IN Matthew He is the King of the Jews
IN Mark the Servant
IN Luke the Perfect Son of Man
IN John the Son of God
IN Acts He is the Ascended Lord
IN Romans the Lord Our Righteousness
IN 1 Corinthians Our Resurrection
IN 2 Corinthians Our Comforter
IN Galatians the End of the Law
IN Ephesians the Head of the Church
IN Philippians the Supplier of Every Need
IN Colossians the Fullness of the Godhead
IN 1 Thessalonians He comes for His Church
IN 2 Thessalonians He comes with His Church
IN 1 Timothy He is the Mediator
IN 2 Timothy the Bestower of Crowns
IN Titus our Great God and Saviour
IN Philemon the Prayer of Crowns
IN Hebrews the Rest of the Faith and Fulfiller of Types
IN James the Lord Drawing Nigh
IN 1 Peter the Vicarious Sufferer
IN 2 Peter the Lord of Glory
IN 1 John the Way
IN 2 John the Truth
IN 3 John the Life
IN Jude He is Our Security
IN Revelation the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Lamb of God,
the Bright and Morning Star, the King of Kings and Lord of

Mrs Warfield Simpson

It seems that B. B. Warfield had a pretty extraordinary family. According to Thomas G. Reid, Jr.:

His mother was Mary Cabell Breckinridge, a descendent of John B. Breckinridge (1760-1806), a United States Senator and Attorney General under President Thomas Jefferson. Her father was the prominent Presbyterian preacher Robert Jefferson Breckinridge (1800-1871), and her brother, John Cabell Breckinridge (1821-1875), was Secretary of War in the Confederate Government.

Benjamin’s father, William Warfield, came from English Puritan stock, his forebears having fled to North America to avoid persecution. The Warfield family, in the person of Bessie Wallis Warfield Simpson (1896-1986), would later plunge the British royal family into its greatest twentieth-century crisis.

Blogging Stats

1.2 million people blog every day

Over the last three and a half years, the number of people blogging has doubled every six months

In April 2006, there were 43 million blogs worldwide, with 56 new blogs per minute

37% of blogs are in Japanese, 31% English, 15% Chinese

taken from Mark Green, 'Anne Frank's Blog: how blogging is creating a communication revolution that has profound implications for the church', Christianity Magazine (August 2006)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More Oak Hill Blogs

Here are some recent discoveries:

Pete Jackson’s been blogging away at:

Dan Green, a recent Oak Hill student, now youth worker at Holy Trinity, Eastbourne, has a blog at:

Great things can be expected from Nick Cornell at:

Miss Ruth Field (whose excellent cleaning services I’d be very happy to recommend, were she not running the City now):

Monday, July 24, 2006

Marsden on Edwards Highlights (I)

Most of George M. Marsden’s introduction to Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale University Press, 2003) seemed worth underlining. Here are a few bits:

“A number of things will be particularly striking to twenty-first-century readers about early eighteenth-century New England. First, the world into which Edwards was born will make a lot more sense if we think of it as British rather than American.” (p2)

Edwards was an aristocrat by New England standards. Clergymen in New England wielded more authority and could expect more deference to their opinions than in most other parts of the British World. Further, Edwards belonged to an elite extended family that was part of the ruling class of clergy, magistrates, judges, military leaders, village squires and merchants. The Stoddards and the Williamses, along with a few other families with whom they intermarried, ruled the Connecticut River Valley, or western Massachusetts (Hampshire County) and parts of Connecticut.” (p3)

“Eighteenth-century Britons viewed their world as monarchical and controlled by hierarchies of personal relationships…. Society was conceived as an extended household.” (p3)

“Edwards lived at the vortex of conflict among three civilizations – the British Protestant, French Catholic, and the Indian.” (p3)

The central principle in Edwards’ thought, true to his Calvinistic heritage, was the sovereignty of God. The triune eternally loving God, as revealed in Scripture, created and ruled everything in the universe. Most simply put, the sovereignty of God meant that if there were a question as to whether God or humans should get the credit for anything good, particularly in matters of salvation, the benefit of the doubt should always go to God. Edwards avoided allowing God’s rule to be thought of as a distant abstraction, as it could become. Rather he emphasised that God’s very purpose in creation was the great work of redemption in Christ. Everything in the universe pointed ultimately to the loving character of the triune God.” (p4)

“… the central practical motive in his life and work was his conviction that nothing was more momentous personally that one’s eternal relationship to God. Many Christians affirm this proposition, yet most have not followed its implications for personal relationships with utter seriousness. Most who have taken it seriously have been activists rather than thinkers. Edwards was both. He built his life around disciplines designed constantly to renew that eternal perspective. In his sermons and writings he turned his immense intellectual powers to rigorously following out the implications of God’s sovereignty for understanding humans’ eternal destinies, as defined by his Biblicist and Calvinistic heritage. If there is an emphasis that appears difficult, or harsh, or overstated in Edwards, often the reader can better appreciate his perspective by asking the question: “How would this issue look if it really were the case that bliss or punishment for a literal eternity was at stake?” (p4f)

“… after spending countless hours with Edwards, my point of view regarding him is complex. He was such a multisided person and thinker that to answer the question of what I think about him depends on what particular aspect of his life or thought we are talking about. I find him to be a person of immense personal integrity. He was intensely pious and disciplined, admirably but dauntingly so for those of more ordinary religious faith. His unrelenting intensity led him to follow the logic of his faith to its conclusions. His accompanying seriousness made him not an easy person to spend time with as a casual acquaintance, although he would have been fascinating to talk to about matters that concerned him. His prowess as a logician made him exceedingly sure of his opinions, sometimes given to pride, overconfidence, tactlessness, and an inability to credit opposing views. At the same time, he was often aware of his pride and was constantly trying – and apparently often succeeding – to subdue his arrogant spirit and to cultivate such Christian virtues as meekness, gentleness, and charity. As was common for eighteenth-century leaders, he was authoritarian, yet he was also extremely caring. He was much loved by those closest to him. His opponents found him aloof, opinionated and intolerant. For a time he won the hearts of almost everyone in his Northampton parish; then he lost them again in a bitter dispute, a quarrel of former lovers.” (p5f)

“Edwards came of age at a time and place that would give him an acute sense of the juxtaposition of old and new outlooks in this revolution taking place in British culture… Seventeenth-century Puritanism in turn was in many respects closer to the world of medieval Christendom than it was to that of even nineteenth-century America. Puritanism was part of an international Calvinistic movement to reform Christendom, not to destroy it. Its goal had been to establish one pure church supported by the Christian state.” (p7)

“A precocious teenage intellectual who immersed himself in the literature of the emerging British Enlightenment, the world of Locke and Newton and Addison and Steele, Edwards was confronted with how hopelessly quaint, dated, and even laugable the provincial world of East Windsor would look to British sophisticates…. Jonathan, after an early intellectual and spiritual crisis, emerged intensely committed to demonstrating how his heritage was not only viable but the answer to all the questions posed by the new world of his day. Those answers were not only intellectual, but also practical, built around awakenings and missions as the engines through which the triune God would eventually bring the modern world to his love in Christ.” (p7f)

Am I going liberal?

I’m finding myself troubled by Warfield’s account of prophetic inspiration. I fear I may have been thinking about the Bible in ways that are not entirely sound.

Warfield insists very strongly that the Old Testament prophets receive God’s words entirely from outside themselves and report them complete without making any contribution to the composition or expression of their oracles, in a manner quite different to other modes of inspiration.

Here he is saying that kind of thing in The Biblical Idea of Revelation:

What the prophets are solicitous that their readers shall understand is that they are in no sense co-authors with God of their messages. Their messages are given them, given them entire, and given them precisely as they are given out by them. God speaks through them: they are not merely His messengers, but “His mouth”. (Work, p23)

In the prophets’ own view they were just instruments through whom God gave revelations which came from them, not as their own product, but as the pure word of Jehovah. (p24)

Warfield accounts for the differences between individual prophets thus:

One would suppose it to lie in the very nature of the case that if the Lord makes any revelation to men, He would do it in the language of men; or, to individualize more explicitly, in the language of the man He employs as the organ of His revelation… his own particular language, inclusive of all that give individuality to his self-expression. We may speak of this, if we will, as “the accommodation of the revealing God to several prophetic individualities.”… It includes, on the one hand, the “accommodation” of the prophet, through his total preparation, to the speech in which the revelation to be given through him is to be clothed; and on the other involves little more than the consistent carrying into detail of the broad principle that God uses the instruments He employs in accordance with their natures. (p25)

Warfield is distinguishing prophetic inspiration from concursive operation which he describes like this:

By “concursive operation” may be meant that form of revelation illustrated in an inspired psalm or epistle or history, in which no human activity – not even the control of the will – is superseded, but the Holy Spirit works in, with and through them all in such a manner as to communicate to the product qualities distinctly superhuman. (p15)

I'm not sure what would be lost by allowing rather more concursive operation in the case of prophetic inspiration, but Warfield thinks it is firmly excluded by the prophets' own way of speaking of themselves as not the originators of their words.

And would Warfield want to apply all this just to the original prophetic encounter or to the final form of the text too?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Perfect God: Perfect Bible

It has been argued (by Professor John Webster and others, I believe) that the Bible can’t be perfect since only God is perfect. But this is a very woolly spurious argument.

Since the Bible is God’s word, and words reflect the character of their speaker, there is a strong prima facia (is that right?) case that the Bible shares characteristics of God. Of course the Bible is not God or a god but it is God speaking. What the Bible says, God says. We would expect the perfect God’s words to be perfect.

As Carson comments in the latest Trinity Journal:

Webster has not listened carefully enough to what Scripture says of God’s word or of God’s words. Like God himself, God’s words and God’s word (the biblical writers can use both the singular and the plural) are frequently asserted to be faithful, true (Ps 118:160), righteous (Prov 8:8), pure or flawless (Ps 12:6; 118:40). Small wonder that the appropriate response to God’s word is humility, contrition, trembling (Isa 66:2)—exactly the appropriate response to God himself.

God certainly has incommunicable attributes (only God is omnipotent and God could not make another omnipotent thing) but God also has communicable attributes: God can make men can be strong or wise in their degree and manner. God is perfectly able to make a perfect book.

The Bible’s perfection is rather different from God’s, but true, nevertheless. God necessarily possesses the sum of all perfections. The Bible has a derived, contingent perfection in all that it affirms and is perfect for the roles God has ordained for it.

The Bible is a human book and to err is human, but to err is not necessary to humanity, as the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrates in his perfect true humanity. The analogy between inscripturation and incarnation of the Word of God still has legs.

The Goal of University Theology

Here is Don Carson summarizing John Webster. Webster’s words explicate his claim that exegesis is the primary theological endeavour:

Webster’s final chapter, "Scripture, Theology and the Theological School," takes its departure from interaction with Ursinus (who drafted the Heidelberg Catechism). In prestigious theological schools today, universal reason reigns, and divides (not to say fragments) the subject matter into the well-known fourfold division: biblical, historical, systematic, and practical theology. By contrast, Ursinus saw catechism and systematic theology as helping tools to enable the Christian more productively to read the Scriptures and thereby encounter God. In other words, the reading of Scripture is not the starting point for the creation of a reason-generated theological superstructure, but the end point, the telos of all the disciplines—the fruitful encounter with God in the Scriptures. Webster calls for major revision of the theological curriculum. "Christian theology is properly an undertaking of the speaking and hearing church of Jesus Christ" (123), and therefore can claim only marginal connection with the atmosphere in the university. If that means theology is squeezed to the periphery of university life, so be it: "In contexts committed to the sufficiency of natural reason (or at least to the unavailability of anything other than natural reason), theology will have something of the scandalous about it" (134).

Webster, Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (CUP, 2003)

Carson in Trinity Journal (latest issue) and at:

Webster’s (Barthian) first lecture as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford is also worth a look (a small booklet published by Blackwells at a shockingly high price). He argues there that theology is of most service to the academy when it is at its most theological, its most distinctive, its least sold-out the agenda of the liberal secular university. One wonders how much these concerns were involved in Professor Webster’s move to Aberdeen? It feels to me like Scottish academic theology is a bit more churchy than in England?

My wife would like to know...

My wife would like to know what the godly response is if (hypothetically speaking) one were to knock over a pint of water while staying in someone elses house.

In particular is, "Oh shhhhhhhh... dear!", a godly response?

Being a Christian wife, my wife first asked her own husband at home, but being not entirely satisfied with the answer, we decided to put it out to tender.

A classicist friend of mine tells me that while there is obviously gutter language in the ancient world, the ancients did not have our Victorian concept of rude words or swear words as such. Swearing was done using oaths to the gods: "O! Jupiter!" when one subbed ones toe and so on.

Sexual swear words are obviously wrong since they profane something holy but I'm not so sure that other so called swear words are off limits.

Luther is notoriously scatalogical, even if it is for polemical purposes.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Oak Hill Blog Newsflash

The much loved and very young looking Dawn Evans has joined the ranks of the esteemed bloggers. For all your children's and youth work solutions, for insights into all manner of subjects from Scripture to shopping, for Northern wisdom and a lo a lo a laffs, may I suggest:

Dawn explains that you need to imagine hand gestures to accomponay words such as phone, piano, typing, up north, camera etc.

Happy blogging.

Oh and I saw the other day that the other Pete at college has a blog called something like Pete at College. Must track it down for your edifaction and entertainment...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Familiarity breeds...

… knowledge




And no doubt a few moments thought would produce a few other virtuous results of deep and regular knowing.

Of course, it depends on the object (the thing with which one is familiar) and the subject (the one being or becoming familiar). Familiarity with the contemptuous and for the contemptable no doubt breads contempt.

Now apply to liturgy and The Lord’s Supper.

Intended For Pleasure

Someone suggested to me that this Christian book on sex within marriage could be retitled Extened for Leisure! The book is worth a look, though written for an American Bible-belt context, it seems, and like One Flesh it tends to dwell on possible problems and maybe therefore encourage unnecessary worry.

Honeymoon Reading

Well, there were some distractions on honeymoon - one mainly, but I managed to get some reading done:

(1) Tom Wright's Simply Christianity

(2) Marsden's biography of Jonathan Edwards - the first 150 pages or so thus far

More on (1) & (2) anon.

(3) Tony Hawkes, A Piano In The Prinanese - autobiography / travel cross, quite fun, some good one liners and the odd decent set piece, reasonably predictable, some interesting stuff on music, single fella in midlife crisis (ish) finds possible soulmate, ultimately not very satisfying nor godly!

(4) Lyndsay Davies novel with Marcus Didius Falco as ancient Roman private imvestigator hero. Moderately literary for bestseller. Some characterisation, not just action. Davies was at my old college, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, so I'm really only reading it out of loyalty.

Couldn't decide if I really cared about (3) and (4) enough to go on reading them. Maybe they are too trivial to want to bother with?

Does anyone have any tips for entertaining light reading? What would you have taken on honeymoon? Is it back to old P. G. Woodhouse, what oh?

Married Life

Well, we’re still married, praise the Lord! And happily so. Double praise the Lord.

But this married life lark is jolly hard work so far.

Perhaps that’s not true: the honeymoon was delightful and very easy. And the wedding day wonderful – much better than we’d both expected.

But getting from the village of Maiori on the Amalfi coast of Italy to Oak Hill was a bit of an ordeal, with a 6:30am Italian time start, a two hour delay at Naples airport and staggering in to college heavy laden at 5pm, UK time.

But enough complaining for a moment.

Director Simms was a marvel and handed over the keys with alacrity, though it was outside office hours by the time we appealed for them. And thanks very much for the table, Tony: just small enough.

Dave was great at taking off the flat door and getting the second-hand sofa in.

Carl kindly moved Tim’s washing machine in for us and Dave connected it up.

And the Fields’ has been a wonderful all-mod cons base.

We still don’t have a fridge or a duvet and so on so we’ve not started camping in our new flat yet.

But we have worked like dogs for the last couple of days moving and sorting out stuff. My parents and I used to be able to move all my stuff in a half-day relatively unproblematically, so now I have a much greater feel (in my aching arms and legs) for how much they helped.

Today we spent seven hours and a small fortune at John Lewis in Oxford Street where the service was excellent and the food glorious food. Now all we have to do is wait for more and more nice things to arrive. You can save a packet on seconds and “Special Purchases”, you know. I think “Special Purchase” might be a funny posh cross between a sale and we-got-a-few-of-these-dodgy-things-a-bit-cheap-off-a-man.

But tomorrow morning its cleaning the old flat…