Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Commenting and Commentaries by C.H. Spurgeon

I am not part of the gang that worships and adores Spurgeon. However, I recently read 'Commenting and Commentaries.' I have to say that I enjoyed this book more than any other that I have read by Spurgeon.
Then again, I fail to see how any Christian bibliophile could not enjoy a book about books.

In this work Spurgeon gives brief evaluations on commentaries on the whole Bible and specific parts of it. These commentaries are of varying shades of opinion and it is fascinating to get Spurgeon's take on the great expository works of the ages.

The sad part of the book is reading Spurgeon's harsh comments about J.N. Darby and 'Darbyism.' Spurgeon recommends some of CH Mackintosh's commentaries on the Pentateuch, and a few other Brethren works, but expresses his contempt for 'Darbyism.'

Spurgeon inluded in his catalogue two works by Darby, 'Practical Reflections on the Psalms' and Studies in the Book of Daniel'. Sadly, he did not include Darby's greatest and most readable (just about) work, the 'Synopsis of the Books of the Bible'. Spurgeon made one memorable comment on Darby:

If the author would write in plain English, his readers would probably discover that there is nothing very valuable in his remarks.

It is true that Darby's prose was absolutely appalling, but it is unfortunate that Spurgeon was unwilling to look beyond his opaque style.

Significantly, it must be said that there is none of the dogamtic amillennialism (or rather anti-millennialism) in this book that one finds in many Reformed circles today. Spurgeon gave very positive recommendations to such Premillennial works as Tregelles 'Daniel the Prophet' and B.W. Newton's 'Thoughts on the Apocalypse'.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The quest for the Holy Grail

Those people who go searching for the Holy Grail; where do they actually look for it?

Do they spend all their time hunting in antiques' shops? Or do they hope to get lucky at a car-boot sale?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

I like AW Pink

Believe it or not, I quite like AW Pink books. I do not agree with much of his theology and I believe he said some dreadful things in his commentary on the epistle to the Hebrews.

However, I read Gleanings in Exodus and Gleanings in the Life of Elisha. I thought they were both very well written books, with some inspiring thoughts. I especially like the meticulous detail of Gleanings in Exodus.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Turning the hallway into a Shoe Shop

I hosted my first party last night. It was a most wonderful time, one of the best of my life. Everybody seemed to enjoy it.

I had invited about 26 people and about 16 agreed to come. However, on the night only ten people came. I know a few people were ill. October does seem to be a time for people to get ill. A shame, but we still had a great time. The people who came were quite a good mix of different people from church.

I had said on the invitations:

Shoes off at the door would be appreciated. Feel free to bring some slippers.

Everybody therefore removed their shoes without being asked and nobody seemed bothered about this. A couple of people brought slippers.

There was far more food than we needed. I was breakfasting this morning on leftover mini-sausage rolls and potato chips. There was also plenty of drink. There was white wine, a choice of beers, a choice of fruit juice, lemonade and elderflower stuff.

Most of the people who came had never been to my house before, so I gave them a brief tour.

It was a really pleasent and light-hearted evening.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I don't believe this stuff

BBC News: Primary children 'suffer stress'

Apparently today is a really terrible time to be a child according to this study. I think this is rubbish. Children have never had it better than today.

The very fact that a group of researchers took the time to conduct a study into the welfare of children just shows how the welfare of children is paramount in our society. How many studies of the welfare of children were carried out in the 1920s?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Praying for my party

I am hosting a party this week. I am praying that everybody who comes will have a really good time.

Some people think that it is bad to pray about trivial, non-essential things. I disagree. For me it is vital to pray about everything in my life.

There are three reasons why it is important to pray about the mundane things in our lives. Firstly, if we do not pray about them, we will worry about those things and worrying will keep us from communion and trust in our God. Secondly, when God answers those small mercies, we will see Him at work in our lives and give Him thanks and praise. We must see God at work in our lives daily. Thirdly, if we pray about trivial things, we are spending time in prayer. That means we can also pray about other more important and urgent things, like missionary work and the growth of our congregations.

In my prayers about the party, I am praying for every person who is coming. I am not only praying that they have a really great time, but I am praying that God will bless them and work in their lives through the Holy Spirit. I want to lift up those people and petition my Lord to lead them deeper into His truth and into deeper fellowship with Him.

Monday, October 08, 2007

We should faint not and pray always

I was feeling a bit gloomy this afternoon.

I spent some time in prayer and my spirits immediately lifted.

I had a phone call from my supervisor who was pleased with my last chapter.

I also had a phone call inviting me to preach at a small Baptist church in the country. That was a great encouragement to me.

The Lord is so good to me. He blesses me so richly. I have a wonderful time with my friends and my sister yesterday and then today I get another invitation to preach. I am so thankful.

Times: An Interview with Bjorn Lomborg

Times: An Interview with Bjorn Lomborg

Bjorn Lomborg might be a Left-winger, but I thought his book 'The Sceptical Environmentalist' was wonderful.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Entertaining for Sunday Lunch

I had a lovely afternoon today. I cooked a curry and prepared poppadums for some guests.

My guests were a married couple who are very dear friends of mine and my lovely sister, Heather.

We all had such a wonderful time.

As regards shoes-off, my friends removed their shoes without being asked, though I did need to remind my sister.

Which theologian are you?

Which theologian are you?
created with
You scored as Martin Luther

The daddy of the Reformation. You are opposed to any Catholic ideas of works-salvation and see the scriptures as being primarily authoritative.

Martin Luther


Karl Barth


Jonathan Edwards




Friedrich Schleiermacher




J├╝rgen Moltmann


John Calvin


Paul Tillich


Charles Finney


Friday, October 05, 2007

It is a lovely warm day today

It is quite lovely weather today.

I cannot believe I am wearing shorts and flip flops (not right now of course, I am at home in my barefeet) in October.

Studying the Word of God: The Biblical and Historica Vew of Angels and Demons

Studying the Word of God: The Biblical and Historica Vew of Angels and Demons

Demons are not fallen angels.

The Prime Minister's power to call elections

At times I wonder if I am a conservative or a liberal. At least in one regard I am fundamentally conservative. That is, I am deeply wary of consitutional change. I am of that classic school of English thought that holds that no matter how odd some antiquated rule, there must be a reason for it.

In the United States, the president serves a fixed term of four years. Here in the UK, the prime minister has the power to call an election at any time on the Queen's permission, up until five years after the government has been formed. At the moment we are all desperate to know whether or not Mr Brown will call for a snap election in November.

There are some who feel that the prime minister has too much power in being able to call an election at any time. It certainly does give the prime minister an immense politcal advantage over the opposition.

However, I believe that changing the rules so that the power to call elections would be in the hands of the House of Commons to be a dangerous change to the nature of the British state. It would be an immense constitutional change that could lead to the country becoming a republic (abomination of abominations).

You see Britain has no written constitution. It is the person of the monarch who holds together the British state. When a party is voted into power, by covnention, its leader is personally appointed by our blessed Queen Elizabeth II as prime minister. It is a personal appointment. If the timing of elections and the dissolving of parliament were to be decided by the House of Commons, then the personal link between the Queen and the Prime Minister, the head of governemnt would be servered. This would be a move towards a written consitution. There would no longer be a clear role for the monarch at the centre of gravity in the state.

I think we have had quite enough constitutional change in the last ten years. It is time to slow down and let history move at a more British and gentlemanly pace.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Englishness of Dispensationalism

Dispensationalism began in Britain. Of course, John Nelson Darby, the founder of the system was from Ireland, not England. However, the Anglo-Irish aristocracy from which Darby arose were almost as distinct from the Irish population as whites and blacks in South Africa. The majority of the Plymouth Brethren who adopted Darby;s system were in England.

Of course, many people associate Dispensationalism with the United States. American fundamentalism adopted Dispensationalism with great passion. However, I would suggest that Americans are not passionate about the Dispensational system so much as the prophetic events that Dispensationalism expects, such as the rapture and the restoration of Israel. I would argue that there is something distinctively English about Dispensationalism.

You have to understand that in the early 19th century, Anglican clergymen did not have to do any work. Of course, a clergyman's living came with the expectation that he would conduct services and preach. However, the minister could easily afford to get his curate to do all that. And even if he did conduct services on the Lord's Day, he stil had the rest of the week to himself.

Some Anglican ministers spent their time hunting and making merry with the local gentry, but many others took up scholarly pursuits. A particular favorite was the study of natural history. A good deal of British wildlife, has been catalogued and classified by clergymen with too much time on their hands.

There is something distinctively English about the country clergyman who devotes his life to the study of butterflies or flowers. Likewise, there is something so typical about the methodology of Dispensationalism, in its rigorous classification of the different parts of the Scriptures according to their dispensational and prophetic character. This spirit can be best represented in the work of the Ultradispensationalist, EW Bullinger, who was of course, and English High Anglican minister.

Perhaps we English are a race of obsessive-compulsives.

Dispensationalism is a system in the English fashion. It is not an abstract, philosophical system of rationalism, like continental systems. Rather, it is empirical, inductive and aspires to be scientific.

It is of course, a highly narrative system. The Dispensationalist upholds a vast panorama of cosmic events; what many might call a mythology. Only the nation that gave the world William Blake and John Milton's Paradise Lost, with their unique graphic images of metaphysical drama. While this Dispensationalist is not a great fan of poetry, he absolutely adorses Gustave Dore's illustrations of Paradise Lost. It was also England that gave us Tolkien's incredible world of Middle Earth. Only an Englishman could create an whole mythology.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Times: Tymoshenko on course to be Prime Minister of Ukraine

Times: Tymoshenko on course to be Prime Minister of Ukraine

Yay! The most beautiful politician in the world will have her old job back.

Times: A terrible fortnight full of shallow populism

Times: A terrible fortnight full of shallow populism

Excellent article from David Aaronovitch.

It is somewhat scary that so often I find myself agreeing with a Left-wing liberal like Aaronovitch.