how does faith justify?

Came across these quotes from Thomas Watson while I was re-reading A Body of Divinity.

What is justifying faith?

True justifying faith consists in three things:

(i) Self-renunciation. Faith is a going out of one’s self, being taken off from our own merits, and seeing we have no righteousness of our own. … Repentance and faith are both humbling graces: by repentance a man abhors himself; by faith he goes out of himself … he sees nothing in himself to help, but he must perish unless he can find help in another.

(ii) Reliance. The soul casts itself upon Jesus Christ; faith rests on Christ’s person. Faith believes the promise, but that which faith rests upon in the promise is the person of Christ. … Faith rests on Christ’s person as he was crucified.

(iii) Appropriation, or applying Christ to ourselves. A medicine, though it be ever so sovereign, if not applied, will do no good. Though the plaster be made of Christ’s own blood, it will not heal, unless applied by faith; the blood of God, without faith in God, will not save.

How does faith justify?

(1) Faith does not justify as it is a work, which would make a Christ out of our faith; but faith justifies as it lays hold of the object, viz Christ’s merits. If a man had a precious stone in a ring that could heal, we would say the ring heals; but properly it is not the ring, but the precious stone in the ring, that heals. Thus faith saves and justifes, but it is not any inherent virtue in faith, but as it lays hold on Christ it justifies.

(2) Faith does not justify as it exercises grace. It cannot be denied that faith invigorates all the graces, puts strength and liveliness into them, but it does not justify under this notion. Faith works by love, but it does not justify as it works by love, but as it applies Christ’s merits.

Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p215-217, Banner of Truth 1978 reprint (first published 1692).


honest phonology

Talking to someone about the standard controversies in linguistics a while ago, they suggested we should start a movement called honest phonology, a name which would capture how focussed it was going to be on directly observable and measurable phenomena, in contrast to the more hidden, abstract, speculative units and processes which (could be thought to) characterise a lot of conventional phonological analyses in the generative tradition. (If Tukey could name a statistical test Tukey’s Honestly Significant Difference, I don’t see why we couldn’t do the same for linguistics. Cath’s Refreshingly Honest Phonology: can’t you just see it.)

Regrettably, though, the best it seems I can do at the moment is naive phonology, which doesn’t have quite the same prestigious ring to it and isn’t particularly likely to progress my career in academia to any noticeable extent. How come, everything I read, sounds completely unfamiliar and clunky, as if I hadn’t been reading in and around this subject for donkey’s years. At this stage, you understand, it’s a bit worrying when it feels like I’ve been subtly missing the point all along.

In her 1970 book Suprasegmentals, for example, Ilse Lehiste mentions that “there is a difference in kind between segmental features proper and the features of pitch, stress, and quantity, [which are suprasegmental].” This is on page 2. Why did I never notice this before? Obviously there is a difference between segmental and suprasegmental features, but in my blissful ignorance I wouldn’t have called it a difference in kind, as if these were wholly different species of things going on within phonology.

Is it just me, or shouldn’t it be possible – at least in principle, at least as some distant target to be aimed for – to have a unifying theory, one which can engage with the speech signal wholistically, and provide a coherent account of how all these different phenomena can be integrated, and how they could be understood as a package considering they are exhibited as a package. I can understand disentangling things as far as possible for the purposes of more in-depth analysis, but my preference, if it’s not too naive, would be to keep firmly at the back of your mind the principle that we disentangled them for the purposes of the analysis, not because they’re somehow really like that in the real world.

Hmm, and did I really want that “w” in holistically?

trade petition

I’m still not convinced that isn’t just another way for the government to ignore the wishes of the electorate (while managing to garner both the emails and home addresses of everyone who cares enough to sign one).

However, if you can get over that, here’s something else worth signing: a petition calling on the government to scrap the CAP and move towards fair trade.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to end Europe’s unfair trade barriers against developing countries, and scrap the CAP

It remains to be seen whether they’ll listen to the 1.6 million people (at the last count) who have signed a petition to abandon their vehicle tracking and road tax proposal. It seems unlikely (after all, they ignored the million who actually took to the streets against going to war in Iraq).

For the time being, too, I will continue to suppress a rant which is building up on the basis of the official response to the ID cards (and National Identity Register) petition on the petitions page – but you can understand that I amn’t impressed.

currently downloading

… Prokofiev’s Symphony No 1 and Symphony No 5 from, which I hadn’t really intended on signing up for.

Now that I have, I’m trying to think of tracks which would be worth downloading. See, I know what I like, but I usually just rely on ClassicFM to spoonfeed it to me.

Already got enough Vivaldi to keep me going, and Shostakovich, and Philip Glass and Michael Nyman.

Why ooes life have to be so complicated?

the top shelf campaign

Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas is leading a campaign to have so-called lads mags relegated to the top shelf, in a bid to make them less accessible to children. The campaign is supported by CARE, who are currently calling for volunteers to take part in a survey where you go to your local newsagents and take a note of where Zoo, Nuts, and the Daily Sport are displayed for sale (look in the innocuous sections like gardening and knitting, seems to be the surest way to spot them).

This fits in neatly with a cool blog I was going to tell you about – charliegrrl’s blog of feminist activism against porn which was reviewed in the Guardian a few days ago. Quote:

Lads Mags contain many pornographic images and adverts, but are not considered nor displayed as pornography. This is because Lads Mags want to remove the stigma from reading pornography from their magazines to boost their sales. This means that they are available to sell to any age and are no restrictions on their display, with them often being displayed prominently to increase sales.


Lads Mags are at the forefront of a wider move towards the normalisation of pornography- this is by rebranding pornographic images as ‘not porn’ but ’sexy images’ of ‘empowered glamour models’ which serves to proliferate the sexual objectification of women as something postive and aspirational for women. This trend brings porn into the mainstream and denies the exploitation of pornography. The perpetual representation of women as sex objects is dangerous, as this represents women’s bodies as dehuminised, sexualised play-things that men can ogle, grope and invade.

The CARE survey can be downloaded from their page about the Top Shelf Campaign, and here’s also an article in the Independent by Claire Curtis-Thomas: ‘Lads mags are both sexually explicit and highly sexually denigrating.’

a practical syllogism

From Thomas Watson, the first puritan I ever read.

What is assurance? It is not any vocal or audible voice, or brought to us by the help of an angel or revelation. Assurance consists of a practical syllogism, in which the Word of God makes up the major proposition, conscience the minor, and the Spirit of God the conclusion. The Word says, ‘He that fears and loves God is loved by God;’ there is the major proposition; then conscience makes the minor, ‘But I fear and love God;’ then the Spirit makes the conclusion, ‘Therefore thou art loved of God;’ and this is what the apostle calls ‘the witnessing of the Spirit with our spirits, that we are his children,’ Romans 8 v 16. A Body of Divinity, BOT, p251

So it’s not that assurance of salvation is impossible to attain, or that a person can never know for sure if they’re saved, but the conclusion can’t be drawn at their own will, or on the basis of what your conscience says without corroboration.

relevant but indistinguishable

I know I’m meant to be furiously writing, but I’ve just spotted this surprisingly hard-hitting comment on a BBC article about satire through the ages – ‘From Hogarth to Hislop.’

Joe from Birmingham says:

Perhaps today Hogarth would satirise the Christian church, whose manifesto includes care for the poor (Luke 4) and the earth itself (Genesis 1) – as if we’d noticed. Others have taken up the agenda, while the church is busy making itself “relevant to” (i.e. indistinguishable from) self-centred society at large.

Short, but startlingly to the point.

Now back to work.

that’s some interaction

Okay, I know that, for most normal people in the real world, “interaction” involves nice things like meeting other people, being sociable, building up relationships, conversation.

In the exciting world of live research though, the interactions one finds oneself most interested in are those of the statistical variety.

Over the last few grim and miserable months of incomplete datasets and partial results (yeah, you have no idea), I’d basically given up hope of seeing the interaction I wanted. I’d resigned myself to a the prospect of a write-up based on a long series of ambiguous and unsatisfactory outcomes.

Now, I don’t want to count my chickens or anything, but this past week I finished the data collection phase and finalised those spreadsheet tables containing all my precious reaction time results and accuracy values, and did the statistical analysis.

It wasn’t the interaction I’d been wanting, but it’s an amazingly good second-best. It’s back to the old difference you get when you say out loud the word hotdog (ie, food) versus hot dog (animal). My participants were divided into two groups according to various criteria, and the group which the theory said should have been particularly bad at telling the difference between these two sound patterns, turned out to be better, in fact, than the other group. (More specifically, although both groups were equally accurate in telling the difference, this group was significantly faster than the other one to make their decision.)

Admittedly, again, I need to hedge all this round with many many reminders to self about counting and hatching – I may well have enthusiastically put the wrong figures into the stats program or, indeed, horrid thought, labelled the groups back to front.

Anyway, in the hope that it isn’t too good to be true, I just though I’d share.

help! my phone makes me feel like a failure

It’s not just that I barely realised half the functions on my phone when I got it. It’s not just that bluetooth and infrared are still somewhat beyond me, and I don’t know how to reorganise my folders.

My phone has developed an intensely browbeating attitude towards its primary user (me). I just can’t get it to accept I ever do anything.

Every time I set myself a reminder from the Task option, it sets off the alarm at the stated time, and then, no matter how fast or slow I respond to say OK! it invariably flashes up with a doom-laden and scornfully disappointed screen: Not done.

But I did do it, I did! In fact I thought I achieved the posting of that letter quite successfully. That Thursday, I did reply to an outstanding email. I did in the end remember to put on a load of white washing. Don’t I deserve some recognition for that?

Evidently not. If has any good tips for retaining your self esteem under a domineering and tyrannical phone, please do help. It’s the little things …