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).

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Day Conference on Lament (London)

What a marvelous poster for what promises to be a really good conference.

Here is a little more information.

My Eyes Will Pour Down Tears:
Lamentations and Lament in a Climate of Praise

Friday, 21 September 2012
at Spurgeon’s College, London
10.00 am - 5.00 pm

Plenary Speakers
Ian Stackhouse will speak about going through the book of Lamentations with a local congregation
Robin Parry will speak on Lamentations as Christian Scripture

Hetty Lalleman on lament in the Bible
Rob May on using the book of Lamentations in church services
Robin Parry on Lamentations 1–2
Andrew Wheeler on the place of lament in the Sudanese civil war

Ian Stackhouse will close the conference with a service of Tenebrae.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

No Escape

image by Ron Reed

Monday, 21 May 2012

Evangelical Universalist (2nd. ed.) now available in North America

The second edition of The Evangelical Universalist in now available in North America on the Cascade Books website. It will appear on amazon.com within the next few weeks.

The UK edition will be out in a few weeks. I do not yet know the precise date.

There will also be a kindle edition in North America and Europe (well, everywhere actually).

This new edition contains the following new material

1. a foreword by Oliver Crisp
2. a preface explaining how the book came about and the reaction to it.
3. a new appendix on Rob Bell's take on universalism
4. A new appendix responding to some of my critics
5. a new appendix on the biblical theology of election
6. a new appendix on what appears to me to be a paradox (contradiction?) at the heart of Calvinist spirituality
7. a study guide
8. a Scripture index

So it is quite a lot longer than the first edition

Monday, 14 May 2012

New Testament for readers

I am currently reading through te New Testament, but in an unusual new edition.

It is the "Book of the Bible" New Testament from Biblica (only available direct from them). Check out the link for more info and samples.

The basic idea is to present the New Testament (NIV) as a conventional book to make the reading experience less intimidating.

No chapters and verses

No subtitles (though there are gaps between paragraphs at key places in the flow of the text).

A single-column typesetting.

All that does make it an interesting reading experience.

But the best thing about it is the reordering of the books.

The NT is arranged into four sections, each of which begins with a Gospel. Each Gospel is followed by other NT books that have some kind of link with it.

Thus the book opens with Luke and is immediately followed by Acts. I love that! Luke-Acts presented together as a single, two-part work!

Then we have all Paul's epistles, because of the traditional link between Paul and the author of Luke-Acts (and because the epistles of Paul link to the narrative of Acts just read).

But the Pauline epistles are presented in (our best guess at) their chronological order. Obviously there are contested aspects of this but, on the whole, it works well and adds a different dimension to the reading experience.

John's Gospel also heads a section that sensibly includes the Johannine epistles and Revelation. So that's another good move.

The other two groupings are a bit less compelling — Mark linked to Petrine epistles (because of the traditional Mark-Peter association) and Matthew linked to James and Hebrews, etc (because they are aimed at Jewish Christ-believers). Nevertheless, there is merit to this order.

I really do like the difference that this re-ordering brings to the way that texts are read alongside each other.

There are also surprisingly well-written introductions to each section and book.

All in all . . . me likes this. It is not intended for study but for reading and it genuinely has something new to add on that score.

The Books of the Bible | Biblica

The Books of the Bible | Biblica

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Melito on the Crucifixion

He who hung the earth in its place is hanged, he who fixed the heavens is fixed upon the cross, he who made all things fast is made fast upon the tree, the Master has been insulted, God has been murdered, the King of Israel has been slain by an Israelitish hand. Of strange murder, strange crime! The Master has been treated in unseemly wise, with his body naked, and has not even been deemed worthy of a covering, that he might not be seen. For this reason the lights of heaven turned away, and the day darkened, that it might hide him who was stripped upon the cross, shrouding not the body of the Lord, but the eyes of men.
Melito (second cent AD), Homily on the Passion

George Sarris on Perfect Being Theology

Here is a comment I just found on facebook from George Sarris. I like it. So here, with George's permission, it is:

One of the most common responses I receive from those who hear that I believe in Ultimate Restoration is, “I wish that were true, but . . ."

Although they would never admit it, what they are actually saying is, “Deep down inside, I wish God were different. I wish He were more loving or more powerful than He is, but . . ."

When I was in seminary, one of my professors shared Anselm’s definition for God. He defined God as “that Being than which nothing greater can be conceived.” The God I worship truly fits that definition. Deep down inside, I don’t wish He were different. I am very glad that I don’t have to add any “buts” when I tell others about who He is!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Is Classical Theism a Greek Import? A Wee Comment

I often hear people lamenting the corruption of Christian theology brought about by the import of Greek philosophical concepts. The God of classical theism (i.e., the God that is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, timeless, spaceless, impassible, etc.) is, we are told, not the God of the Bible, not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is, rather, an alien import that was the intellectual equivalent of the Fall from Paradise. We need to get "back to the Bible."

Here is my wee thought: weeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Here is another: That is much too simplistic.

First of all, the nice and neat division between "Hebrew thought" (in the Bible) and "Greek thought" is artificial. As any New Testament scholar will tell you, the Judaism at the time of Jesus bore many imprints of Hellenistic thought. It was not "Hebrew as opposed to Greek" but a variety of complex mixes. For instance, read the wonderful Wisdom of Solomon (a book that influenced some NT writers like Paul). Hebrew? Yes. Greek? Yes.

Second, as John Peter Kenny writes:
classical theism [was] a conceptual construct [that] can be seen to develop with increasing clarity in late antiquity, due to the efforts of thinkers such as Augustine, Boethius, and John Philoponus. It was finalized by Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scholastics in the High Middle Ages. But classical theism was not classical, for it was never clearly and fully articulated in the philosophical theology prior to the late third or fourth century A.D. Neither was it an indigenous product of the Greco-Roman tradition. Many of its prominent features, especially the concept of creation, were the result of prolonged reflection on the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and ultimately the Koran by theologians schooled in Greco-Roman philosophy.
Mystical Monotheism: A Study in Ancient Platonic Theology (1991. Reprint. Eugene, RO: Wipf and Stock, 2010): 43.
Indeed. Classical theism was not taken off the peg by Christian theologians; it was crafted by them as a response to the teachings they found in the Bible.

Of course, it was a task undertaken using philosophical concepts employed at the time. But Christian theologians never uncritically adopted pagan philosophical notions. What they did was draw selectively on a range of pagan philosophers in order to appropriate ideas that they found helpful in elucidating biblical faith. But they were more than happy to modify or to drop ideas that did not fit biblical faith. In the end, the gospel called the shots (at least, that was what the aspiration).

And what is so wrong with appropriating ideas from paganism and radically recontextualizing them? OT writers themselves did this all the time as any comparison of the faith of Israel with other ancient Near Eastern texts would show. NT authors did this too. Is it bad? Who would be willing to call the author of John's Gospel, for instance, to account for drawing on Logos theology? The prologue of John brilliantly draws on a (variously deployed) notion from Hellenistic theology (the Logos) precisely because it connects with and illuminates a biblical tradition about the word of YHWH and the wisdom of YHWH. I say, "Good one, mate!"

So, the simple fact that classical Christian theology draws on notions from Greek philosophy is no problem at all so long as it is subservient to the gospel. A little intellectual plundering of the Egyptians is fine by me. Let's be open to wisdom from God in surprising places.

Classical theism is most certainly not above criticism or revision but it was a hard-won prize that should not be surrendered lightly.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

VIDEO: Conor Cunningham Lecture on Darwin's Pious Idea


Here is Conor giving a lecture at the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion in 2011.