About Me

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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Amazing Lack of Grace Baptist Church

I have just been visiting the website of Amazing Grace Baptist Church . They are having a great Halloween party burning Satanic Bibles, books, and music. Here is the list:

We are burning Satan's bibles like the NIV, RSV, NKJV, TLB, NASB, NEV, NRSV, ASV, NWT, Good News for Modern Man, The Evidence Bible, The Message Bible, The Green Bible, ect. These are perversions of God's Word the King James Bible.

We will also be burning Satan's music such as country , rap , rock , pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, southern gospel , contemporary Christian , jazz, soul, oldies but goldies, etc.

We will also be burning Satan's popular books written by heretics like Westcott & Hort , Bruce Metzger, Billy Graham , Rick Warren , Bill Hybels , John McArthur, James Dobson , Charles Swindoll , John Piper , Chuck Colson , Tony Evans, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swagart , Mark Driskol, Franklin Graham , Bill Bright, Tim Lahaye, Paula White , T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn , Joyce Myers , Brian McLaren , Robert Schuller, Mother Teresa , The Pope , Rob Bell, Erwin McManus , Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, Brennan Manning, William Young, Will Graham , and many more.

We are not burning Bibles written in other languages that are based on the TR. We are not burning the Wycliffe, Tyndale, Geneva or other translations that are based on the TR.

We will be serving fried chicken, and all the sides.

I guess that some of you wish you went to a church like Amazing Lack of Grace Baptist Church. Fried Chicken - yummy! So I guess you'd like to know a bit more. Who are they?
We are a Independent Fundamental Baptist Church.
We are a New Testament Bible (KJV) believing Church.

What do they believe?
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God.
We believe that the King James Version is the Word of God . . .
We believe and take serious every word in the Bible . . .
We believe that the Bible (KJV) is inspired by God. If it wasn't inspired, it wouldn't be God's Word . . .
We believe that God has preserved his Word . . .
We believe that God's Word does not need correcting, updating, changing, or rewritten for any reason . .
We believe that God's Word is perfect . . .
THE BIBLE IS OUR FINAL AUTHORITY ON ALL ISSUES . . .
The Word of God is able to perfect us, therefore we don't need anything else, such as religious rituals . . .


Wow! In terms of theology I don't know where to start. Let me just reassure you that God and Jesus do manage to get a look in a bit later in the 'what we believe section' and the Holy Spirit tips his hat (along with 'we believe that abortion is murder' and 'we believe in godly music' - and they do not mean Cliff Richard!).

Can we have a website burning session? (joke)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Christological Origins - When Crispin met Larry

I have just read a fascinating article in the latest Tyndale Bulletin (60.2, 2009). It is a critique of Larry Hurtado's work on Christology by Crispin Fletcher-Louis. The topic is 'not my area' (though I have read a fair bit about it over the years including Hurtado's Lord Jesus Christ) so I'd be interested to hear from anyone who (a) knows all about the debate and, (b) has read the article.

CFL maintains that LH has a three-stage historical model for the development of Christology in the NT period.
Stage 1: The historical Life of Jesus (which was a stimulus for later high Christologies but during this period Jesus' followers did not see him as divine or worship him)
Stage 2: The earliest Aramaic speaking Christians. In this phase Jesus was worshipped as the risen Lord (though not as the pre-existent Lord who became the incarnate Lord)
Stage 3: when the risen Lord was seen as the pre-existent incarnate Lord.

LH maintains that there was an early, volcanic shift in Christology to a praxis with a binitarian shape. Now CFL also embraces an early, high Christology (EHC) so he does not dispute LH's defence of that claim. But he does dispute LH's historical account of how the EHC arose.

Some critics of Hurtado (Dunn, Casey) have responded to him as follows

1. The worship of a human would have been perceived of as incompatible with Jewish monotheism and would have been resisted.

2. The early Christ-believers were not persecuted by fellow Jews for their 'idolatrous' Christology (they were persecuted but not for that reason)

Therefore

3. The early Christ-believers did not worship Christ as God.

To avoid this objection LH has argued that there is NT evidence for the claim that the earliest Christ-believers were indeed persecuted for their high Christology. CFL criticises LH's arguments here (rather well, it seemed to me).

So CFL agrees with Dunn and Casey that premise 2 is indeed correct. If this is right then there is a significant problem with the historical plausibility of LH's account of the origins of NT Christology (given that LH accepts premise 1).

(As an aside I ought to explain that CFL rejects the conclusion - 3 above - because he argues that premise 1 is wrong. It is a very controversial position that I am not going to explain here)

The second aspect of LH's account that CFL spends considerable time attacking is LH's claim that visionary and ecstatic experiences explain the surprising innovations in early views about Jesus amongst the community of Christ-believers. CFL argues that the evidence used by LH actually counts against his case. CFL concludes that LH's claims about the role of religious experiences in the development of Christology are
(a) without any supporting evidence, and
(b) historically implausible.

I am not going to go through any of the arguments - it would make this post very long (you can read the article if it interests you).

Now I have to confess I found the arguments both stimulating and rather convincing. I love Larry's book Lord Jesus Christ (and his earlier books) and whatever the outcome of this dispute I still think they are packed with great stuff. But now I am wondering about how adequate LH's historical account of the rise of high Christology is.

So is there anyone out there who has read the article and who, unlike me, knows what they are talking about that would like to comment?

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Marmite Bible: Scofield's Reference Bible at 100


Just like marmite the Scofield Bible is something that you either love or hate. First published 100 years ago in 1909 it was a major factor in the spread of dispensationalism. It has sold millions upon millions of copies and has literally changed the face of Christianity for better and/or for worse. It was also the world's first study Bible. So love it or hate it, nobody can deny its significance.

Whether you are a fan or a cultured despiser (and I confess that I tend towards the latter camp) you will be interested in this forthcoming volume which tells the controverisal tale of Cyrus Scofield and the story of his reference Bible's impact over its first 100 years. The authors are both historians - one based in the USA and one in the UK so that the transatlantic flavour of the narrative can flood out. They tell the tale in a fair and balanced way so don't expect the book to feed your prejudices one way or t'other. But I have to say that I honestly found it a fascinating tale.

It is due out in the UK in Jan 2010 (just missing the anniversary). A good late Christmas present for dad or mum?

Friday, 23 October 2009

Trade as One (US Fairtrade campaign)



This is a new US Fair trade campaign. Here is the website. Spread the word.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

What is beautiful?



This is a really excellent advert.

For a spoof version click this link.

For another spoof version click this link

The Best Wedding Entrance Ever



This is so amazingly fantastic!
I have watched it about ten times now.
Thanks to Chris Tilling for pointing me to it.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Translating the Bible into 'Black Country'

The Ten Commandments have been translated into the Black Country dialect [for those who don't know the Black Country is an area north and west of Birmingham, UK] by a T-shirt shop. Dubbed ‘God’s Bostin Rules’ they include ‘Honor ya dad un ya mom’ and ‘Yow cor kill con ya’ and are causing a stir across the area.

The t-shirt was made for local charity worker David Upson, who said he cannot walk down the street without people stopping to read it. The commandments were put together by Warren McCabe-Smith and Stephen Pitts of Teet Shirts in Reddal Hill Road, Cradley Heath. They were approached by charity worker David – a Christian and Black Country born and bred – to translate the biblical text into dialect.

GOD’S BOSTIN’ RULES:

1. “Ar bin the Lord yaar God, yow cor ave ova daft un’s befower me”

2. “Dow put stuff befower God”

3. “Yow cor tek the naame o’ the Lord yaah God in vain”

4. “Git yaself to Sunday meeting ay it”

5. “Honor ya dad un ya mom”

6. “Yow cor kill con ya”

7. “Yow woe av it off with sumone elses missus/bloke”

8. “No pinchin’”

9. “Dow mek out ya muckers dun it”

10. “Dow get jealous of ya maates stuff”

For more information visit the website at www.teetshirts.com

Monday, 19 October 2009

"A Marriage" by R.S. Thomas

This is a poem that was read at a funeral that I went to today in Carlisle Cathedral. It was the funeral of a wonderful Christian woman. The poem, chosen by her husband, was so very apt and moving

We met
under a shower
of bird-notes.
Fifty years passed,
love's moment
in a world in
servitude to time.
She was young;
I kissed with my eyes
closed and opened
them on her wrinkles.
'Come' said death,
choosing her as his
partner for
the last dance. And she,
who in life
had done everything
with a bird's grace,
opened her bill now
for the shedding
of one sign no
heavier than a feather.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Evangelical Universalist Radio Discussion




On Sat 17th October Premier Radio broadcast a discussion on The Evangelical Universalist. I was in discussion with Laurence Blanchard on Justin Brierly's radio show "Unbelievable".

You can now listen online via www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable where it is currently the "featured" show and will remain in the archive, at the bottom of the page, as the show of 17 Oct 09

You can can click through directly to the show via this link

You can also get the mp3 podcast via this link
Or subscribe via itunes

Laurence is a pastor from California. His PhD was on universalism and it will be published by Paternoster next year. He is a good Christian brother and one of few traditionalist theologians who really understands universalism.

The discussion is a good 'issue-opening' one. Of course, Laurence and I would warn anyone who wanted to listen to it that the requirements of the radio format meant that we had to skip through subjects fairly fast. As a result sometimes I had the last word on a topic and sometimes Laurence did. Much as we'd both have loved the chance to pursue these lines of thought more rigorously that would have been inappropriate. So don't expect the debate to settle anything.

I would like to honour Laurence for defending the traditional view of Hell in an unwavering yet very gracious way. I hope that this discussion models how Christians can disagree in love.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

God between the lines

Here is a C.S. Lewis quotation from Letters to Malcolm that inspired me recently:
We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with him. He walks everywhere incognito.
I love that idea if the incognito God whose presence so fills our vision that we are oblivious to it. The God who is so often between the lines; hidden; underneath; within; between the cracks; singing in the silent spaces. The God who is there.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Lego Job




There are some human experiences of tragedy and grief which can only be truly trivialized with lego. Meet Job. Do you feel his pain?

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Reading from a different position (Lamentations and Christian anti-semitism)

There is a need for Gentile Christ-believers to hear Lamentations as a word addressed, in the first instance, by the people of Israel to Yhwh, and written down for the people of Israel. Christians instinctively read the texts as insiders – we hear our own voices in the anguished words of those in pain. This is right but I want to propose that there is a place for a different, far more unsettling reading stance vis-à-vis the text.

The book speaks of the brutal violence of the nations against Israel and it is sobering for Gentile Christians to read the text not from the position of suffering-Israel, but in the role of the oppressive nations. Read in this way the book serves to invite the communities that have persecuted Israel to listen to the voices of their victims. Even a glancing familiarity with the shocking treatment of Jews by Christians through the ages goes a long way towards indicating the potential power of such a reading strategy.

But, someone may protest, surely this is not to read Lamentations as Christian scripture for it puts Christians on the outside looking in. So long as this is not the only stance that Christian readers take to the text I must beg to differ. In this dangerous, almost prophetic, mode the word of God functions as a harsh word of rebuke; as a shocking exposure of an oft forgotten crime; as a call to the painful task of listening to one’s victims, and as an invitation to repentance. Christian oppression of Jewish people may have been at its worst in times past but it is certainly not a thing of the past. Christians live with the ever-present temptation to think that since the Messiah came God has abandoned the Jewish people in favour of the church. This, to my mind, represents a fundamentally unbiblical ecclesiology but it has been the theology at the root of a lot of anti-Semitic attitudes and actions over the centuries. Hearing Lamentations as a text by Jews and for Jews in which Gentile Christ-believers have often shamefully played out the role of the destructive nations would actually be one very constructive, chastening reading strategy. The text of Lamentations strikes a very different sound in the context of the Church when heard in such ways. Consider these words:

Lam 1:2b-c
"Among all those who loved her
there is none to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies"

These words concern Israel's allies who had bound themselves to come to her aid if she was attacked. But when Babylon attacked they stood aside and did nothing. One need only think of the 'response' of the churches to Hitler's anti-semitic policies to find oneself unconfortably amongst the cowardly nations here.

Or ponder the image of exiled Israel dwelling amongst the nations but finding no resting place (Lam 1:3). Then consider the way in which Jews were expelled from various 'Christian' countries in the past.

Or think on the image of the nations 'raping' Israel and enriching themselves on her wealth (Lam 1:10). Or the use of lethal violence against the Jewish people followed by rejoicing in their plight (Lam 1:15, 20).

As such Christians would be wise to pay careful attention to traditional Jewish readings of the text on the 9th Ab as a prism for understanding a wide range of Israel’s sufferings. We need to hear that and acknowledge the legitimacy of that interpretation – a legitimacy retained within a Christian theological frame of reference.

I think that it would be perfectly appropriate albeit sobering for such unnerving use of the text to take place in the context of Christian public worship.

If we are not prepared to face our history and to allow Scripture to expose our infidelity then what claims do we have to honour God's word?

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Bruce Cockburn - If I had a Rocket Launcher

Bruce Cockburn - one of the kings of the protest song. This is a classic. I am interested to hear any theological reflections on the lyrics.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Holiday Stress


Thanks to Michael Thompson at Eerdmans for pointing me to this. It is the story of my life (although I don't get much spam - I wish I did so that I could get the 350 new emails down faster!)

Baby Got Book!



A classic!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Restoring Faith in Evangelical Generosity

Well I am still waiting for the fierce backlash against me since declaring my views on universalism. Of course, there is controversy about it (as will become clear over the next few weeks) but that is not the same as hostiity. In fact, I have been treated very generously and openly by evangelicals of all stripes - from those who believe in Hell as eternal torment, through those who see Hell as annihilation, to fellow universalists. I have even had evangelicals of all those views defend my evangelicality (if such a word there be). Many eyebrows have been raised (along with many questions) but I have been encouraged by the sheer number of people who have taken the time to listen in order to understand and, upon understanding, have said, "Well, it is not where I am at but this is a family disagreement." It has really pleasantly surprised me just how open evangelicals are to a theological view that on the surface seems very unevangelical. (Of course, if I had not been able to show that it was evangelical-compatible they would not have been so tolerant and rightly so.

So I want to thank all those warm hearted Christians who have not cast me out into outer darkness but have embraced me as a brother.

Evangelicals are more 'open minded' than their critics often give them credit. I think that's good (though I am a tad biased here)

I'm confused about 'out of touch' theology

Here's a little thing that has always perplexed me. I do hear from time to time that traditional Christian theology is 'out of touch' and 'not where people are at' or, worse still, is 'no longer relevant to the contemporary world.'

Now I think there are real senses in which certain ways of articulating the gospel can cease to connect with a culture and the church is always having to recontextualize its message.

However, I suspect that often something else is going on when these claims are made. I imagine that it often simply means something like, "Our contemporary world does not like those gospel claims" or "Those Christian claims are not fasionable." It is not that they are not understood but that they are rejected.

So you'll have to excuse me for not feeling terribly moved by such accusations. 'Not fasionable' is not the same thing as 'not relevant'. We might, for instance, not like the idea that God hates sin but if it is indeed the case then it is very relevant.

Of course, this is blooming obvious and not remotely profound but I am short on profound at the moment so it is random fillers for the moment.