Archive for January, 2008

The End of History?

January 29, 2008

Monday night is usually library night for our house. Last night we quite unusually took our books back on schedule. My son wanted books on the Arctic. So we found few including a child friendly one written in the ‘Horrible History’ style of Terry Deary i.e. yuk bits left in, christmas cracker style jokes, cartoons etc. This style of history writing has been very successful, ‘Horrible History’ having spawned numerous books and imitators such as the ‘Dead Famous’ series, a series of magazines and a television series. Yet these child friendly books may convey a deeper message about the writing of history in general. Do they in fact reflect a wider trend that history is meaningless and not to be taken too seriously?

Growing up history, was as far as I could see, something very important. It conveyed to us, even at a young age, something about the meaning of the world we lived in, our sense of identity, people to be admired for their achievements and some sense of connection with the past. In our younger generation history is reduced to a series of vignettes enlivened by a series of schoolboy jokes. There is little sense of conveying to the young that history has significance and that since history has significance  our lives and our world have significance.

These new child friendly histories merely reflect attitudes such as Francis Fukuyama’s assertion that we have witnessed the end of history. That is that idealism has ceased. Or perhaps it is simply the outworking of the postmodern mindset that there is no metanarrative. History is not a place to look for significance but like our lives it is to be treated flippantly where the only meaning is to be found in hedonism.

It is a sad reflection upon our worldviews that life has been atomised and reduced to meaninglessness outside our personal pleasure. The one metanarrative that remains is the only one that brings hope to our world. It is the message of God’s plan being unveiled in history. It is plan that reaches its pinnacle in Jesus Christ and that brings significance to our world and to our planet. If we seek meaning in history we can look to Jesus Christ for we see in His life God breaking into history. We see in Him the pivotal moment that brings meaning to our world. To discover this is indeed a legacy to give to our children.

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Through Western Eyes

January 25, 2008

‘Through Western Eyes’ by Robert Letham is a great book. It is an examination of Eastern Orthodoxy from a Reformed Perspective. The first half of the book is an historical survey of eastern orthodoxy and introduces some of the key figures and debates in the early centuries of the church. The second half examines the theological emphases of Eastern Orthodoxy. Whilst familiar with some of the material in the first half of the book the sends half introduced me to an expression of Christianity of which I was largely ignorant.

Some of the points raised that were especially striking was how the Orthodox liturgy was suffused with Scripture and how unhurried services were. It was a challenge to contemporary evangelical culture where as Letham notes Scripture is often sidelined and services are ruled by the clock. I was also struck by the sense of reverence and mystery that there are in Eastern Orthodox services. Also by the strong trinitarian emphasis.

A couple of areas I would like to have seen addressed were how far theory translates into practice. Does  sacramentalism give rise to a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? The other issue I would have liked to have seen explored is how far the Orthodox church is an ethnic church. What is its attitude to mission and evangelism?

I would recommend this book to anyone who like me knows little of Eastern Orthodoxy. I certainly found it profitable, enlightening, and challenging.

Goodbye to All That

January 24, 2008

A recent survey has revealed what we all know to be the case. That in the last twenty years Britain has become a more ‘tolerant’ society. For ‘tolerant’ read that immorality scarcely raises an eyebrow.

  • 70% say sex before marriage is acceptable
  • Over 60% think marriage and cohabitation are much the same
  • Over 60% think divorce can be a positive step in someone’s life
  • Only 32% think homosexual partnerships are mostly wrong. Less than 20% think that they are always wrong.

Britain has become a society where everyone does what is right in their own eyes. One statistic however jumped out at me. That is that 85% believe that adultery is almost always wrong. (I assume by this people mean any form of infidelity even involving cohabitees and same-sex couples. ) My question is why amidst the social mores that people now accept should they think that adultery is something wrong? What is it that makes this wrong whilst other immoral behaviour is right?

The statistics on what is now acceptable whilst adultery is regarded as wrong shows our far we have been impacted by post-modernity. There is for people no metanarrative to help them create an over-arching moral framework. We live in a society that has turned its back upon God and has lost its faculty for moral reasoning. We have sown the wind and will reap the whirlwind.

Wisdom from Thabiti Anyabwile

January 18, 2008

Thabiti Anyabwile may not be the name on everyone’s lips but if you haven’t come across him he’s well worth catching up with. His address at the Desiring God Conference for pastors 2007 on the glory of pervasive holiness in the life of a pastor is incredibly powerful. He also has a blog where you can catch him at http://purechurch.blogspot.com/

This short piece by him called ‘Virtue and its Imposters’ is pithy and searching

‘Three things confuse a Christian;

Yeah, four confound any man.

Unbelief masquerading as wisdom,
Enthusiasm presenting itself as faith,
Fear pretending to be patience,
and permissiveness claiming to be love.’

Unfaithful Blogging

January 11, 2008

I haven’t been very faithful to my blog recently. In fact I’ve been posting elsewhere. Someone picked up on one of my posts and it created a forum discussion. I came across it and joined the discussion. You can follow it up at the link below. It’s about good, evil, morality and justice. Hopefully I’ll get back soon to blogging here.
http://metanet.2.forumer.com/index.php?s=1088ced4817d1328d3531632bc580ca2&showtopic=21009&st=0