Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Athanasian Creed

1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;

2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.

6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.

8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.

12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.

14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.

15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;

16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;

18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.

19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;

20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.

21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.

26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.

27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.

32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.

34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.

35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.

36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;

38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;

39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;

40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

42. and shall give account of their own works.

43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

Tedious Errors

In the exam papers I am marking there is a question on the nature of God. The frustrating thing about marking this question is the huge number of heterodox explanations of the Trinity. Typical statements would include:

Christians believe that God is made of three parts, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Christians believe that the three roles of God are symbolised in three expressions, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


To be honest I seriously doubt the Religious Studies teachers in most schools could give an orthodox defintion of the Trinity. The only way to teach the Trinity is to make students memorise the Athanasian creed.

Spooky?

One of the pastor's at my church loves to make fun of Cosmic Ordering in his preaching. That is the idea that through positive thoughts one can make the cosmos come up with the things and events that one desires.

Yesterday one of the contestants on the quiz show, The Weakest Link admitted to being involved in Cosmic Ordering. She explained that she was quite confident that she would win and that she spent at least half an hour a day meditating on the things she wanted.

Spookily, she indeed won the quiz.

How should one explain such an occurrence? It is human nature to want to believe in magic. Christians easily make the same mistake. A typically irrational Christian response to such an occurrence would be to jump to the conclusion that Satan was behind her success. Now it is certainly true that Satan is at work in the world and his minions too. However, it is best to assume that an unusual occurrence has a natural explanation rather than an unnatural one.

If one compared the way the winner answered her questions to the other contestants, a visible difference was apparent. The other contestants often rushed their questions, often giving the wrong answers. In contrast, the winner took small amounts of time in answering her questions, not long enough to delay the rounds, but long enough to give her time to think for the answers. Several times she nearly failed to give the answer, then suddenly remembered the correct answer. I would attribute that to the calm confidence her beliefs gave her. She had confidence that she would win and so was able to keep her mind ticking and avoid panic.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Do Religion and Politics Mix?

Desmond Tutu (I think) once said:

When people tell me religion and politics don't mix, I ask them what Bible they are reading.


Apologies if that is a misquote.

Do you agree?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

BBC: Migrants 'want to settle in UK'

BBC: Migrants 'want to settle in UK'

Excellent news. The East Europeans can bring so many benefits to Britain. And provide a demographic counterweight to the growth of Islam.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Marking

Again, this year I am marking Religious studies exam papers.

I got back today from the examiners' meeting over the weekend. It was nice to stay in a hotel (paid for by the exam board) and to see people from last year's meeting. However, it was a bit intense. Nevetheless, I have been given approval to mark the 400 papers I have been allocated.

The examiners are all teachers (apart from me), so they tend to dress down quite a bit. Last year, most of the men wore shorts and sandals. I decided to dress the same way. However, it seems that the other examiners paid attention to the bad weather forecasts, so I was the only one wearing shorts.

On the positive side, my sandals are so comfortable. I did not think I could find a pair this comfortable. I got them from NEXT, which is one of my favorite shops for Menswear. NEXT are also great for those like me who have a 28 inch waste. Some shops have 30 inch as the smallest waist size.

I had a look in the Bull Ring shopping centre while I was in Birmingham, before the meeting. It is one crowded shopping centre. I had a look in the GAP, as there is no GAP in Worcester. Turns out NEXT have largely copied the same style of clothes that GAP sell. So anything I liked at GAP, I could probably get from NEXT.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Forgiveness

You have not forgiven a person unless you are willing to buy the wrongdoer a cup of coffee or give him a lift home in your car.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Naming of Cats by T.S. Elliott

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.

First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey -
All of them sensible everyday names.


There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -
But all of them sensible everyday names.


But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?


Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
Names that never belong to more than one cat.


But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover -
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.


When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.


- T.S. Eliot

I do not normally like poetry much, but I heard this on the radio the other day and loved it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Don't Laugh at Poverty

Last Lord's Day, My friend Andrew Geuter gave a presentation to the church on his recent visit to Albania, where he had served as a missionary for several years.

Andrew showed a series of photographs on the screen. One featured an apartment block. There was a chaotic mass of cables hanging from this building. Andrew said, "You see all the crazy electrical work?" Everybody laughed.

Andrew suddenly looked very solemn. He said:

Don't laugh at poverty. Has God not chosen the poor of this world? Does He not raise up the humble? Does He not send the rich away empty?


We stopped laughing.

The Times: Judge halts terror trial to ask 'What's a website?'

The Times: Judge halts terror trial to ask 'What's a website?'

I love our judiciary.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ways in which I am European (North European to be more specific)

1. I am British. I mean, Britain is part of Europe, even if we might pretend it is in the middle of the Atlantic.

2. I eat Muesli for breakfast.

3. I have a pretty extensive knowledge of European history (just don't go testing me!).

4. Much as I might be pro-American politically, I tend to think Americans are a bit lacking in cultural sophistication.

5. I watch the Eurovision song contest.

6. While I am politcally inclined to Euroscepticism, I am not hostile to the European Union on principle. I would be Pro-European if somebody could give me some reasons why European integration is a good idea.

7. I think the influx of East Europeans into the UK is one of the best things that has happened since the end of Communism.

8. When I visited Helsinki, I was delighted by the cleanliness and orderliness of the place.

9. Despite being politically Right-wing, I cannot help feeling that I prefer living in country with an extensive welfare state.

10. I thought Grand Moff Tarkin was the hero of Star Wars.

11. I lament the death of Prussian Imperialism and the end of the Hapsburg monarchy.

12. I never wear shoes at home.

13. I wear Birkenstock sandals (but unlike Germans, I wear them outdoors without socks like an Anerican, rather than indoors with socks in place of slippers).

14. I find American Evangelicalism just a bit too loud.

15. I drink alcohol.

16. I started drinking alcohol at the age of 12 with my parents.

17. I eat salami nearly every day.

18. I listen to European music (there is not much American music in my CD collection).

19. I did try to learn Finnish, in an attempt to escape my Anglo-Saxon monolingualism.

20. I lament the fact that British men do not know how to dress.

21. I think I am an authoritarian at heart.

22. When I studied law, I got my best marks on the subject of European Union law.

23. I relish the absract and theoretical.

24. I love saunas and think wearing a swimming costume in them is silly. You have to be naked in a sauna.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Police urge change to "target culture"

Police urge change to "target culture"

The police are complaining that they are under pressure to make arrests and so they are nicking people for really trivial things.

Whatever happened to all that talk about 'zero tolerance?' I say if you do something naughty, the police should arrest you.

Okay, some of the things listed in the article seem a bit trivial, but anyone can make a point by coming up with odd annecdotes of a supposed trend.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Serbia just won the Eurovision Song Contest

Yes, I will admit I am one of those people who enjoys watching the Eurovision song contest.

The Serbian entry was quite good. I am glad the Ukrainian entry did not win; that was awful. The Ukrainian previous sucess in 2004 was great.

It is a shame the British entry did so badly. I thought it was so good and very much in keeping with the Eurovision aesthetic. However, it was block voting that won the night. The domminance of East European countries means that there will inevitably be an East European winner.

A Prayer of Thanks

God, I thank thee that I am a Dispensationalist and trusting in the Gospel of Free Grace, that I go to a Bible-believing church and that I am not as other men are, hypocritical, self-righteous, mean-spirited,

or even as those Calvinists who lie awake at night worrying if they are among thine elect,

or even as those Arminians who fear they will lose their salvation if they watch an X-rated movie,

or those Amillennialists who don't know how to read the Bible properly,

or a Pentecostal who thinks it is a mark of spirituality to babble in nonsense-language,

or a Charismatic who rebukes the Devil when his toaster blows a fuse,

or a CCM advocate who thinks that Death Metal is appropriate in a Sunday morning worship service,

or one of those ladies who come up with incredible arguments to justify standing in the pulpits like men,

or a member of the Salvation Army, who dress up as soldiers and can't be bothered to get baptized,

or the Quakers who can't tell the difference between Christianity and Buddhism,

or an idolatorous Roman Catholic who prays to Mary, but who is really praying to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar,

or a follower of Eastern Orthodoxy who thinks kissing icons will get him into heaven,

or a Jehovah's Witness who does not expect to go to heaven, but who thinks he can make it through Armageddon safe and sound by knocking on doors,

or a Mormon with his collection of sequels to the Bible,

or one of the Jews in their apostasy, who can't tell a Messiah when he sees one,

or a Muslim who tries to earn his salvation by keeping the Five Points of Islam,

from such scoundrels, Lord deliver me,

Amen

Friday, May 11, 2007

What a fascinating book!

I borrowed a fascinating book from the library the other day. It is 'Empire' by Dominic Lieven.

'Empire' is a comparative historical study on the Russian empire. It examines the nature of imperialism by comparing the Russian empire (and by extension the Soviet Union) by comparing it to its main rivals, the Turkish Ottoman empire, the Austrian Hapsburg empire and the British empire.

Ian Paisley and the Irish Prime Minister commemorate the Battle of the Boyne

Ian Paisley and the Irish Prime Minister commemorate the Battle of the Boyne

Remembering one of the most culturally signficant battles in British history. That is a really positive gesture.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Goodbye Mr Blair: Thanks for being a tolerable Labour prime minister

Well, Blair is going to resingn on 27th June. He was okay. There were a lot of things that were wrong with his administration, but it could have been far worse. And as our good friend Palm Boy said, he was solid as a rock againist terrorism.

However, I have to complain about the banality of his comments in his speech:

I did what I believed was right.


Who cares what he believes? How does that make any difference? We the voters want politicians who do a decent job of running the country. How does it matter if they are sincere? Let's have some Realpolitik. Politics is about acheiving outcomes, not 'trying to do the right thing.'

In my opinion, politicians are justified by their works, not their faith.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Iain Paisley is now First Minister of Northern Ireland

There was a ceremony on t.v. to mark the establshment of power-sharing in Northern Ireland and the inauguration of Iain Paisley as first minister and Martin McGuinness of Sin Fein as deputy first minister.

Iain Paisley quoted Scripture twice in his speech. It is remarkable, a Bible-believing Christian taking on a major political office in a European country.

The prime minister, Tony Blair looked so pleased with himself, grinning like a cheshire cat. How delightful for him that we see peace and power-sharing established in Northern Ireland on the week he is expected to resign.

Peace in Northern Ireland is a major acheivment. It is a sign that there is room for optimism, even in this fallen world. We need to beware of this pessimism, that so many Christians indulge in, a conviction that everything is constantly getting worse and which willingly blinds itself to the good and progress in the world.

While we must be careful of making too many comparisons between Northern Ireland and the situation in Israel/ Palestine, I think Christians must beware of baptizing a pessimistic analysis of the situation there. Yes, the Scriptures tell us clearly that terrible and traumatic events are going to occur in the middle east. However, we do not know when. If the Lord should tarry, it may be that we may even see some progress made towards peace between the conflicting parties in that part of the middle east.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Scottsh National Party Result

The most signficant results on the election on Thursday is that Labour is no longer the largest party in the Scottish assembly. They have been overtaken there by the pro-independence Scottish National Party. That is a major acheivment for these relative newcomers.

Of course, most people in Scotland do not want independence and the other parties will do everything to resist a referendum on it.

The result is ironic given that we are almost certain to get a Scottish prime minister shortly.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Liberal Democrat Result

The Liberal Democrats are down by 1%. This is going to be a huge blow to the credibility of their leader 'Ming'.

The problem for the Liberal Democrats is that they are fighting a war on two fronts, in the south against the Conservatives and in the north against Labour. This damages their crediblity because they do not stand for anything. They will always be the third party.

The only real future for the Liberal Democrats would be to make a deal with the Conservatives. But we don't need their help and they are too arrogant to want it.

The Conservative Result

Okay, it was a bit disappointing. We got 41%, an increase by 1%. At least we held control of Worcester City council.

Everybody seems to be making a fuss of the failure of the Conservatives to win more councils up north. Yet we have made gains in the northwest.

The flip side of the poor sucess of the Conservatives is the poor results of Labour in the south. The Labour losses in Scotland and Wales will mean that Labour will be more and more confined to their northern heartlands. Even if they win the next general election, their majority can only get smaller.

The Labour Result

They got 27% in the council elections. Plus they may no longer be the major party in the Scottish assembly.

The Labour government seem pleased to have increased their vote by 1% and are relieved not to have suffered the losses expected. They insist that they will do far better in the general election.

It is possible and not unlikely that Labour may win the next general election. However, they cannot expect their base of support to remain if they keep on doing badly in council elections. They cannot afford to ignore the increasing dissatisfaction amongst the public. The losses in Wales and Scotland indicate that Labour will become increasingly reliant on their heartlands in the north.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Local Election Today

We have council elections today in the UK.

If you are British, make sure you vote. Ideally, please vote Conservative. But if not, vote for anyone but Labour.

Labour look set to lose hundreds of council seats across the country. They deserve it.

I do love election days; they are so exciting. I saw some soccer supporters
on television yesterday. I wondered how it felt being so excited about their game. Then it occurred to me that they probably feel like I feel on election days.