creativity in theology

On the Green Baggins blog there’s an interesting post on ‘creativity’ in theology.

“… As the church progressively nails down doctrines that are further and further away from the core salvific doctrines, more creativity in relating these nailed-down doctrines is possible. Forever looking at a particular doctrine from the standpoint of unsettled provisionality is debilitating to the theologian. If, however, the church has received a doctrine as what Scripture says, the theologian can then relate doctrines to other doctrines in an ever fresh, illuminating fashion. …”

(The comments it’s elicited so far are a bit disappointing though.)


personal data is not state property

A wide-ranging speech by Henry Porter exhorts us to be alert and informed about the looming database state:

We used to think of this country as having innate respect for freedom and privacy, as though it was somehow part of the British DNA, an immutable geographic feature of these islands – like the Pennine Range.

But today instead of being an example to the world we are fast becoming the test bed for a new, technologically driven authoritarian state – what one website calls the first fascist democracy.

They may be going a little far but you see the point – democracy does not presuppose liberty.

Not sure if that last sentence should say ‘entails’, but you get the point. He discusses the proposed creation of a database to record all emails and phonecalls made by UK residents (which we on this blog, loyal readers, have already agreed is outrageous), the ongoing use of automatic number-plate recognition devices to track vehicle movements on motorways and in town centres, the need to inform the authorities of your credit card details, contact number, and travel plans when leaving the country, the proposed law to record the names of everyone who stays in hotels, the ubiquity of CCTV cameras, the National Identity Register, the world’s largest DNA database, and a small selection of instances of terror legislation being abused to allow people to be spied on by the police and/or their local councils.

“We the British have let this happen without debate, without marches, without protest, without – it seems – the slightest qualm or anxiety.

Where is the biting satire?

Where is the outrage of the intelligentsia?

Where is the media?

This lack of protest, this meekness of spirit in Britain worries and angers me in equal measure. But you know what makes me even angrier- it is the profoundly pessimistic view of this country that these laws and decrees embody. Labour’s cynicism and negativity about our country is the most contemptible part of its administration, and I am afraid that we have all to some degree bought this account of ourselves – that we are not fit to run our own lives without being watched, monitored, chivvied and punished every second of the day.

But this society is still greater than anything Labour’s imagination is capable of conceiving.

So let the struggle begin here.

That means making this issue a part of your everyday life. Talk about it with your friends. Use the media, get in touch with your MP – especially if you live in Labour and Tory constituencies and, yes, start protesting. We need to get on the streets and challenge every part of this programme to make us slaves of the database.”

On that note, although it’s not national government that’s involved, you may be interested to know of a consultation being held by the Scottish Government for how local councils should deal with the use of biometric technology in schools. This would include fingerprint or palm recognition systems so that pupils wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting to bring their card to the school library to get books out, or to facilitate cashless school meal systems. Should you feel that the benefits of such schemes are outweighed by other concerns, such as perhaps privacy, the consultation is open until 4th December. (Thanks to Peter for pointing this one out.)

a general omission

“There is a general omission in the saints of God, in their not giving the Holy Ghost the glory that is due to his person, and for his great work of salvation in us, insomuch that we have in our hearts almost lost this third person. We give daily in our thoughts, prayers, affections, and speeches, an honour to the Father and the Son; but who almost directs the aims of his praise (more than in that general way of doxology we use to close our prayers with, ‘All glory be,’ etc) unto God the Holy Ghost? He is a person in the Godhead equal with the Father and the Son; and the work he doth for us in its kind is as great as those of the Father or the Son. … The Holy Ghost is indeed the last in order of the persons, as proceeding from the other two, yet in the participation of the Godhead he is equal with them both; and in his work, though it be last done for us, he is not behind them, nor in the glory of it inferior to what they have in theirs. … And indeed, no less than all that is done, or to be done in us, was left to the Holy Ghost’s share, for the ultimate execution of it; and it was not left him as the refuse, it being as necessary and as great as any of theirs. But he being the last person, took his own lot of the works about our salvation, which are the last, which is to apply all, and to make all actually ours, whatever the other two had done afore for us. The scope of this treatise is to set forth this work to you in the amplitude of it, to the end you may accordingly in your hearts honour this blessed and holy Spirit.”

– Thomas Goodwin’s opening statement in his Work of the Holy Ghost in our Salvation. He can be hard work to read in places, but I think it’s worth it.


A couple of comments on the resignation of Prof Michael Reiss from the Royal Society (he was forced to step down after saying in a speech that creationism needs to be discussed in schools rather than being simply dismissed).

Paul Helm notes on the the response of one professor – ‘Creationism is based on faith and has nothing to do with science, and it should not be taught in science classes’:

“No doubt he would have wished to add ‘and the denial of creationism is also based on faith and has nothing to do with science, and it should not be taught in science classes.’ If matters of faith cannot be a matter for science but for something else, religion classes perhaps, then matters of unfaith should also remove to the religion part of the curriculum. But who has ever heard a member of the Royal Society say that atheism ought never to be taught in science classes?”

He continues: “Two things are dispiriting about exchanges such as this. One is (what seems) the wilful ignorance of many scientists about religion, and particularly about the Christian religion. ‘Creation’, ‘creationism’, ‘7 days creation’, ’literal’, ‘4004 BC’, are used in a way that reveals disinterest and contempt; extreme discourtesy, in fact. If one dissents form a view one should, morally should, take the trouble to understand it in a sympathetic way. That seems to be a basic element of disinterested enquiry. The second concerns the ethical standards expressed in dismissing creation. …”

I’m not endorsing every point he makes, but the full article is here and worth reading.

Same for Cranmer:

“If the theory of evolution is so self-evident, it ought to have no problem standing up to a classroom discussion. Science is about enquring, the prerequisite of which is an open mind. The Royal Society has manifest the antithesis; indeed, it has displayed intolerance and the enforcement of personal prejudice.

No wonder science is dying in Britain.”

amicable settlement in Google abortion case

Remember the controversial decision by Google to ban an advert that would have referred searchers to the Christian Institute for news and views on abortion. Google said at the time that their policy was to not to allow adverts that combined abortion and religion, and the Christian Institute took legal action against them for this blatantly discriminatory policy.

Google has now settled out of court and will now allow religious groups to place adverts relating to abortion. The Christian Institute’s press statement says:

“We are delighted to confirm that our legal proceedings against Google for blocking our abortion ad have been settled on amicable terms.

“As a result of the court action and other representations made to Google in recent months, Google has reviewed its AdWords policy to enable The Christian Institute and other religious associations to place ads on the subject of abortion in a factual and campaigning way.

“The new policy will apply world-wide with immediate effect. This is an important issue of free speech and religious liberty and we are pleased with Google’s constructive response to this matter.”

in hibernation

Well, my viva is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. The person in charge of the administrative arrangements having a sense of humour, it has in fact been booked in Room 101. So I’m learning how to deal with feelings of impending major doom, since as someone else put it, although in admittedly a somewhat different situation, “I am not eloquent, neither heretofore nor since thou hast spoken to thy servant, but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” It’s why I blog, innit. Meantime, I’m re-reading my thesis and rehearsing some spontaneous answers to the questions we think might come up, and trying to keep things in perspective. So things will carry on being quiet here while I hibernate with the monstrous tome that is my thesis, but I’ll post an update hopefully at some point towards the end of the week depending on how things go. Isa 26:3-4.