The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Midweek Meeting May 30 2018

With visitors last night we were twelve altogether. We carried on in Genesis with Genesis 17, which is, of course, a crucial chapter. I am always a bit nervou when we come to dealing with covenants as I find some of the subject a little difficult. I read so much by Presbyterians I fear I'll fall nto the trap of saying something dodgy. I read Dale Ralph Davis on the chapter and a thrid of the way through he annoucnes that Baptists can look away now. The only problen I saw with what he said was the fundamental one of when baptism shoud take place. He appears alos to duck the question of what we make of Abraham laughing. Despite stacks of commentary to the contrary I think it must have been a bad thing. Anyway, I spoke, we gathered stakcs of material for prayer adn then prayed for 20 minutes. Encouraging time.

10 Teams in the alternative world cup

 Read more on this here

1. Abkhazia
2. Northern Cyprus
3. Székely Land
4. Isle of Man (Ellan Vannin)
5. Felvidek (Upper Hungary)
6. Tamil Eelam
7. Western Armenia
8. Tuvalu
9. Tibet
10. Matabeleland

Lord's Day May 29 2018

With the bank holiday coming up and The Christian Answer weekend that is held in London by Young Life and UBM congregations were a bit down I guess. I preached two more texts - Hebrews 4:15, 16 and 1 Peter 1:18, 19. They are great texts and I did okay on the whole, although I was a little long in the evening. I ended up feeling quite depressed about things, as is always the danger. I think there was  a little bit of selfishness there. I was listening to a Christian song that says "When you are lonely, you're the only one to blame" which is probably right. Anyway, onward and upward.

Would have been 89

Had he lived, my dad would have been 89 today. Still remembered with great fondness.
My niece did this very good likeness years back.

Midweek Meeting Wednesday May 23 2018

We were slightly down on numbers this week, in fact when we started there were only three of us. After six verses of The God of Abraham praise however we began to pick up and we weren't too bad in the end. As usual we read (Genesis 16) I spoke, we chatted about prayer items and then prayed. All over well before 9.30 pm. Genesis 16 is a fascinating chapter. one can really sympathise with Abram and Sarai in their frustration but the whole idea of a surrogate child was crazy - like some of our ideas too.  By the end of the chapter the focus is entirely on God, however, not man.

10 Comedian Drummers

1. Chevy Chase
2. Norman Wisdom
3. Jerry Lewis
4. Fred Armisen
5. Will Ferrell
6. Courtney Cox
7. Dana Carvey
8. Al Murray
9. Russ Abbot
10. Peter Sellers

10 People who died aged 59

It's that time of year again.

1. Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell
2. Preacher and writer John Bunyan
3. Theologian and linguist Desiderius Erasmus
4. Footballer Cyrille Regis
5. Actor Rock Hudson
6. Actor Clark Gable
7. Author Virginia Woolf
8. Author Fedor Dostoevsky
9. Playwright Truman Capote
10. Singer Dusty Springfield

Sugar Island by Focus

Love this song.

Gimson's Prime Ministers

I have enjoyed reading this recently published book. Andrew Gimson, who previously wrote on kings and queens, gets this about right going through the list giving you his assesment and the salient facts with surefootedness. I found there were some PMs who I know of because they have served in my own life time (Wilson, Heath, Blair, etc) others I know from the history books (Gladstone, Disraeli, Attlee, etc). Some I had heard of but knew little about (Walpole, Balfour, MacDonald, etc) others I had practically never heard of (Henry, Pelham, the Earl of Aberdeen, etc). I was interested to read of the evangelical convictions of Spencer Perceval, of which I was not aware. It is surprising to see how much the parties have changed down the years. Martin Rowson's cartoon portraits are a little hit or miss. They add to the attractiveness of the book.

10 things about the sinfulness of sin

Ralph Venning says these ten things of sin in his Plague of plagues. Numbers 2-6 are from Bunyan

1. It turns his grace into wantonness and is
2. The dare of God’s justice
3. The rape of his mercy
4. The jeer of his patience
5. The slight of his power
6. The contempt of his love
7. The upbraiding of his providence
8. The scoff of his promise
9. The reproach of his wisdom.
10. It opposes and exalts itself above all that is called God.

Lord's Day May 20 2018

Unusually I only preached the once yesterday. One of our students, Reuben Saywell, preached in the morning - on Numbers 21. He did very well. I preached in the evening on Genesis 3:15, a great text. We had communion before the evening service when we thought of Jesus' word I thirst. Decent numbers at both services. It felt a little strange only preaching the once. Lots misisng although one missing one turned up in the evening, which was encouraging.

Anne Boleyn

It was 482 years ago today Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn beheaded on trumped up charges of adultery. Some say she was a Protestant.

Midweek Meeting May 16 2018

We were seven on Wednesday. Some were missing. We sang then I preached and after a bit of sharing we prayed, as is our usual pattern. I preached Genesis 15, one of the great chapters of Scripture (there are many). Plenty to pray for as ever. What a lovely evening.

In Writing 131 now available

A new edition of In Writing is now available from the Evangelical Library. It includes Phil Arthur's 2017 annual lecture on Martin Luther and a piece I have written on David Brainerd.

Bradford on conscience

Just added this quotation to a blog I have on conscience here

As a wife will keep her bed only for her husband although in other things she is contented to have fellowship with her servants and others, as to speak, sit, eat, drink, go, etc.: so our consciences which are Christ’s wives, must need keep the bed, that is God’s sweet promises, alonely for ourselves and for our “Husband” there to meet together, to embrace together, to laugh together, and to be joyful together. If sin, the law, the devil, or anything would creep into the bed, and lie there, then complain to thy “Husband” Christ …

Lord's Day May 13 2018

I preached Sunday in the morning on a great gospel text, Romans 8:32, and then in the evening on 1 Corinthians 14:19, a much more difficult text, especially once you start making applications. I think we are convinced on the theology if not the application. We had tea together in the afternoon and that was a lovely time of fellowship. A good day. We sang Cowper's wonderful hymn

My song shall bless the Lord of all,

My praise shall climb to His abode;
Thee, Saviour, by that name I call,
The great Supreme, the mighty God.

Without beginning, or decline,
Object of faith, and not of sense;
Eternal ages saw Him shine,
He shines eternal ages hence.

As much, when in the manger laid,
Almighty Ruler of the sky;
As when the six days’ works He made,
Filled all the morning-stars with joy.

Of all the crowns Jehovah bears,
Salvation is His dearest claim;
That gracious sound well-pleased He hears,
And owns Emmanuel for His name.

A cheerful confidence I feel, 
My well-placed hopes with joy I see;
My bosom glows with heav’nly zeal
To worship Him Who died for me.

As man, He pities my complaint,
His pow’r and truth are all divine;
He will not fail, He cannot faint,
Salvation’s sure, and must be mine.

Marc Bolan T Rex Ballrooms of Mars acoustic live

I was thinking of this songtoday. This is an early acoustic version.

10 Premier League Records achieved by Manchester City

I'm not a Man City fan or a football fan as such but this is worth noting
(Previous: 95 Chelsea 2004/05)
2. MOST WINS: 32
(Previous: 30 Chelsea 2016/17)
3. MOST GOALS: 106
(Previous: 103 Chelsea 2009/10)
(Previous: 15 Chelsea 2004/05)
(Previous: 13 Chelsea 2016/17)
(Previous: 48 Chelsea 2004/05)
(Previous: +71 Chelsea 2009/10) 
(Previous: 18 Manchester United 1999/00 or  Aston Villa’s 20 in 1896-97 if adjusted to 3pts for a win, 38-game season)
(Previous: 843 City)*
10. MOST POSSSESSION IN A GAME Against Swansea when they won 5-0.
(Previous: City 2012 with 82.28 % of time on the ball against QPR.)

Of the 1,015 passes City tried against Swansea, they completed 942 of them - an astonishing 92.8% success rate. The previous best was 905 passes, completed by City against Everton in March 2018 (92.7 % accurate).

Also note
2.63 Points per game, most in the top flight since Preston’s 2.64 in 1888-89 (adjusted to 3pts for a win, 38-game season)
84.2 Win percentage, best in top division, beating Preston’s 81.8 % in 1888-89
2.79 Goals per game, most in top flight since Arsenal’s 2.81 in 1932-33

Tony and Dick

I have recently realised that Anthony Crosland and Richard Crossman are two different people. I've tended to confuse them, understandably

1. Both were born in the early part of the Twentieth century and died in the seventies.
2. Both were Labour MPs
3. Both served in Harold Wilson's cabinet (Crosland also briefly under Callaghan)

I think the key thing was that CRossman was on the left and CrosLand on the right (cross the R and L).

Richard Crossman OBE (15 December 1907 – 5 April 1974), sometimes known as Dick Crossman, was a British Labour Party MP and diarist, as well as a key figure among the party's Zionists and anti-communists. He served as MP for Coventry East. He occupied the cabinet positions of Secretary of State for Social Services, Leader of the House of Commons and Minister of Housing and Local Government. He was earlier Chair of the Labour Party (1960 and 61). Late in his life, Crossman was editor of the New Statesman. He is remembered today for his highly revealing three-volume Diaries of a Cabinet Minister.
Crossman cemented his role as a leader of the left-wing of the parliamentary Labour Party in 1947 by co-authoring the Keep left pamphlet, and later became one of the more prominent Bevanites.

Anthony Crosland (29 August 1918 – 19 February 1977), sometimes known as Tony Crosland, was a British Labour Party MP and author. He served as MP for South Gloucestershire and later for Great Grimsby. Throughout his long career he occupied the cabinet positions of Secretary of State for Education and Science, President of the Board of Trade, Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning and Foreign Secretary. A prominent socialist intellectual, he became one of the Labour Party's revisionists on the right, as an intellectual leader of Gaitskellism. His highly influential book The Future of Socialism (1956) argued against many Marxist notions and Labour Party orthodoxy that public ownership was essential to make socialism work. He offered positive alternatives to both right and left wings of his Labour Party. He questioned the need for public ownership of the means of production – the classic socialist formulation – and argued instead for making the highest priority the end of poverty and improved public services. He led the Labour battle to replace grammar schools with comprehensive schools that did not sort students at age 11. As foreign secretary he promoted détente with the Soviet Union.
Crosland was seen as a leader and intellectual guru of the "right wing or "social democratic" wing of the Labour Party in the 1970s.

Midweek Meeting May 9 2018

We were together again in the week for our midweek time of prayer and Bible Study. We were short on women as two regulars were out for once. We looked at Genesis 14, always an interesting chapter. One of the main thinsg to see is how central Abram is in the whole thing. We started slightly late and as ever I was a little longer on the Bible study than I might have been but I let the meeting run and so everyone took their turn to pray. These are precious times.

Fun providence

I don't know if there's a theological category fun providences but you know whatI mean.

Lord's Day May 6 2018

Rather behind this week and last Sunday seems a long way back now. We began with communion as we do each month, looking at Jesus's words My God, my God .... I preached two texts - Matthew 9:12, 13 and 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. I've preached on both texts in the past but I prepared fresh sermons that I hope were fresh. These are sermons 66 and 67 I believe in a sort of series I have been doing for many years now on the hundred texts of the Irish Church Missions. I'm trying to preach on big texts in Scripture. These are big texts. We had decent numbers at both services.

The Darwin Effect by Jerry Bergman

Another book I have read not so long ago, this time on kindle is, The Darwin Effect by Jerry Bergman. There are a lot of positive things to say about this book. It is enlightening, well researched and a stark reminder of the insidious effects of Darwin and evolutionary theory. Sadly, the book could do with a good editor who would cut out the clutter and repetition.
A wide field is covered including the eugenics movement, racism, H G Wells, the Tasmanian genocide, the Ku Klux Klan, the exploitation of non-westerners, the case of Ota Benga (the pygmy in the zoo), the exploitation of deformed humans, sexism, ruthless capitalism, the Communist holocaust, the Totalitarian holocaust, etc.
In each case modern evolutionists would no doubt condemn what went on in the past but Bergman's thesis is that evolutionary theory has served to promote and perpetuate bad ideas and the reason is that evolutionary theory itself is a problem.
Well worth a read.

Midweek Meeting May 2 2018

It was good to be together once again last Wednesday. It was especially good to have the Seminary students back after placement. We were rejoicing with one of them who has just accepted a call to a pastorate in Northern Ireland.  We looked at the classic story of Abram and Lot parting company and reminded ourselves of the basics of being in this world but pilgrims and sojourners in it. So often we are more like Lot than Abram adn so we miss out on the encouragements that Abram was clearly given at this time. I don't think we prayed at all about the local election. Perhasp we are getting a little insular, There;s always so much else to pray for.

Curious Reference in Eusebius

I pass no comment on this but in looking at something about the woman with the issue of blood recently I noticed this reference to Eusebius Book & Chapter 18 where having alluded to Caesarea Philippi (Banias) he says

Since I have mentioned this city I do not think it proper to omit an account which is worthy of record for posterity. For they say that the woman with an issue of blood, who, as we learn from the sacred Gospel, received from our Saviour deliverance from her affliction, came from this place, and that her house is shown in the city, and that remarkable memorials of the kindness of the Saviour to her remain there.
For there stands upon an elevated stone, by the gates of her house, a brazen image of a woman kneeling, with her hands stretched out, as if she were praying. Opposite this is another upright image of a man, made of the same material, clothed decently in a double cloak, and extending his hand toward the woman. At his feet, beside the statue itself, is a certain strange plant, which climbs up to the hem of the brazen cloak, and is a remedy for all kinds of diseases.
They say that this statue is an image of Jesus. It has remained to our day, so that we ourselves also saw it when we were staying in the city. 4. Nor is it strange that those of the Gentiles who, of old, were benefited by our Saviour, should have done such things, since we have learned also that the likenesses of his apostles Paul and Peter, and of Christ himself, are preserved in paintings, the ancients being accustomed, as it is likely, according to a habit of the Gentiles, to pay this kind of honour indiscriminately to those regarded by them as deliverers.

The Age of Walls Tim Marshall

I was in the bookshop the other day and spotted a new book by Tim Marshall The Age of Walls: How Barriers Between Nations Are Changing Our World. Having enjoyed his previous books on geopolitics I was eager to get this and had it read in no time. Sorry I've been a bit slow to draw it to your attention. We're all aware of Trump's talk of a wall and many of us are old enough to remember the Berlin wall. Once you bring in Hadrian's wall (no mention of Offa's Dyke - not a wall I guess) and the great wall of China you are away. It is surprising to know how many walls and fences there are out there and with a  good theme Mr Marshall manages to produce a book that is both interesting and informative and sometimes surprising.
The spiel says
“We are seeing walls being built along borders everywhere. Despite globalisation and advances in technology, we seem to be feeling more divided than ever. Thousands of miles of walls and fences have gone up around the world in the twenty-first century. At least 65 countries, more than a third of the world’s nation states, have built barriers along their borders; half of those erected since the Second World War sprang up between 2000 and now.”

10 Unique Prime Ministers

1. David Lloyd-George The only Welsh PM (ie Welsh speaking Welshman though born in England)
2. Benjamin Disraeli The only [ethnically] Jewish PM (though Callaghan and Cameron had some Jewish ancestry)
3. Andrew Bonar Law The only PM born outside the British Isles (in Canada. There were three Irish ones Shelburne, Palmerston and Wellington)
4. Spencer Perceval The only PM to be assassinated
5. Winston Churchill The only PM to win the Nobel Prize for literature (1953)
6. Alec Douglas-Home The only PM to have played first class cricket
7. Margaret Thatcher The only PM to be married to a divorcee
8. The Duke of Devonshire The shortest-lived PM (8 May 1720 - 2 October 1764).
9. Lord Grey The PM who fathered the most children (16 legitimate, one illegitimate)
10. Henry Pelham, who was succeeded on his death in 1754 by the Duke of Newcastle. The only brothers to hold the office

10 3:16 References in the Bible

1. Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honoured his name.
2. Proverbs 3:16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour.
3. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
4. 1 Corinthians 3:16 Don't you not know that you yourelves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives among you?
5. Colossians 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell in you richly; as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratittude in your hearts.
6. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
7. 1 Timothy 3:16 Beyond all question,  the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
8. 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is God-breathed  and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
9. 1 John 3:16 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.
10. Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
(Apparently a Lutheran Donald Knuth has produced a book of sermons on every 3:16 text in the Bibe)

Thijs van Leer on Radio 2

There was a brief interview with Thijs van Leer on Radio 2 yesterday evening. You can access the clip here.

Nat King Cole Trio - If You Can't Smile And Say Yes

So I was in a cafe having soup for lunch. After they brought the soup I noticed there was no bread so went for some and then saw there was no butter so returned again. As I recall it, I remember thinking "it's like there's a war on and everything is rationed". Then, and this is the weird part, I heard coming from the sound system the words "Don't you know the war's on, Everything is rationed," from the above song, which I had never heard before. I could be confused there but as I recall that is exactly how it happened. I'm still figuring out what to make of the experience but I'm not losing sleep over it.

Knock me a kiss, you'll never miss
When I'm ready to go.
But if you can't smile and say yes,
Please don't cry and say no!

Squeeze me a squoze in these fine clothes,
Mmmm...I love you so.
But if you can't smile and say yes,
Please don't cry and say no!

When I ask for a date, the answer is no.
You don't know what you're saying.
Don't you know the war's on,
Everything is rationed, 

How 'bout that jive, keep me alive?

Baby, let bygones be bygones,
'Cause men are scarce as nylons.
And if you can't smile and say yes,
Please don't cry and say no!


Baby, let bygones be bygones,
'Cause men are scarce as nylons.
And if you can't smile and say yes,
Please don't cry and say no, no, no, baby

10 Oldest UK PMs

1. 30th  William Ewart Gladstone (29 December 1809-19 May 1898)
began as pm 3 December 1868 58 years, 340 days
ended March 1894 84 years, 63 days

2. 41st  Winston Churchill (30 November 1874-24 January 1965)
began as pm 10 May 1940 65 years, 162 days
ended 6 April 1955 80 years, 127 days

3. 29th  Benjamin Disraeli (21 December 1804-19 April 1881)
began as pm 27 February 1868 63 years, 68 days
ended 21 April 1880 75 years, 122 days

4. 25th  Lord John Russell (18 August 1792- 28 May 1878)
began as pm 30 June 1846 53 years, 316 days
ended 26 June 1866 73 years, 312 days

5. 31st  Marquess of Salisbury (3 February 1830-22 August 1903)
began as pm 23 June 1885 55 years, 140 days
ended 11 July 1902 72 years, 158 days

6. 34th  Henry Campbell-Bannerman (7 September 1836-22 April 1908)
began as pm 5 December 1905 69 years, 89 days
ended 7 April 1908 71 years, 213 days

7. 13th  Duke of Portland (14 April 1738-30 October 1809)
began as pm 2 April 1783 44 years, 353 days
ended  4 October 1809 71 years, 173 days

8. 40th  Neville Chamberlain (18 March 1869-9 November 1940)
began as pm 28 May 1937 68 years, 71 days
ended 10 May 1940 71 years, 53 days

9. 27th  Earl of Aberdeen (28 January 1784-d 14 December 1860)
began as pm 19 December 1852 68 years, 326 days
30 January 1855 71 years, 2 days

10. 22nd  Earl Grey (13 March 1764-17 July 1845)
began as pm 22 November 1830 66 years, 254 days
ended 9 July 1834 70 years, 118 days

The oldest age for a prime minister to be first appointed is 70 years, 109 days the age of the 28th pm Viscount Palmerston (20 October 1784-18 October 1865) on  6 February 1855. His premiership ended with his death on 18 October 1865 aged 80 years, 363 days (29,582 days). Gladstone was the oldest leaving office. The longest lived person to have held the office is James Callaghan who was 92 years, 364 days (33,967 days) when he died in 2005.