In Defence of War: Nigel Biggar

There has been a bit of a glut lately of articles and books discussing war and peace, and the place of Christian participation in either or both. Perhaps the most recent publication is that of Nigel Biggar, In Defence of WarBiggar is Regis Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, and Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life at Oxford University. I have come into brief contact with Biggar, and have two friends who have been advised by him in their studies here in Oxford. 

I am slowing working through parts of In Defence of War and aim to post some quotes from it here and there. I am not usually very good at following through on such plans, however, so please do not feel a need to depends on my doing so. Regardless, here are some gems from chapter 1, “Against Christian pacifism.”

Not even pacifists object simply to acts that result in the deaths of other people, for they themselves are prepared to perform deliberate acts of omission, which permit innocents to die at the hands of the unjust. (30)

I am apt to sum up this point by noting that the peacemaker is willing to lay down her life for others while the pacifist is willing that others lay down their lives. Of course, the peacemaker also is willing to lay down the lives of the unjust to protect the innocent.

Biggar also draws out a larger vision of Christian (and human) responsibility in this world.

Our capacity to determine the effects of our action, and so to control the direction of history, is very limited; and when, rising up against frustration and despair, we resolve to impose our will at all costs, the results are ruthless and unjust. Sometimes it really is better to do nothing; sometimes prayer is (at least) less harmful than action. Nevertheless, human beings are made in the image of God to tend the world. We are made to care for what deserves to be cared for, and to flourish in its service. We are made to take responsibility under God—to take responsibility while being responsible. Therefore, in full knowledge of the irony of history and of the fragility of whatever we achieve, we must do what we can to defend and promote what is good—but within the limits of what we may. The question, then, is whatever war can ever tell the difference between what can be done and what may be done, and whether it can allow the latter to govern the former. (31)

More may follow.

UPDATE

Craig Blomberg on the Bible

Professor Craig L. Blomberg, of Denver Seminary, has just published a book addressing the trustworthiness of the Bible: Can We Still Believe the Bible?. Only twice have I pre-ordered a book so it would be delivered to my Kindle on the morning of publication. Blomberg’s book arrived in the night and waited patiently. I’m eager to read it as soon as I am able (which likely will be smallish portions for the coming three weeks).

Blomberg’s books are characteristically clear, both in prose and argument, and sound in scholarship. He does not tend to cut corners, over-simplify issues, or caricature the opposition. Indeed, at times I feel he has been overly generous to non-Christian perspectives (as he was in his book discussing Mormonism, How Wide the Divide?), and perhaps less generous to fellow Christians (as in Neither Poverty nor Riches, or, again, in How Wide the Divide?). Even so, if you want an example of knowledgeable and careful Christian scholarship and a generous spirit, I recommend that you read Blomberg’s works.

Here is the table of contents for this new volume:

  1. Aren’t the Copies of the Bible Hopelessly Corrupt?
  2. Wasn’t the Selection of Books for the Canon Just Political?
  3. Can We Trust Any of our Translations of the Bible?
  4. Don’t These Issues Rule Out Biblical Inerrancy?
  5. Aren’t Several Narrative Genres of the Bible Unhistorical?
  6. Don’t All the Miracles Make the Bible Mythical? 

Sermon on Ruth 4

Well, I’ve put it off long enough. Now, with our worldview intensive* running strong at the Summit Oxford Study Centre, I’ll not likely have time to work further on my posts about the book of Ruth. It is a wonderful, if short, little book, with a pungent narrative and a pregnant message (yes, pun intended!). There is so much I could write about it, but I’ll leave what I’d say for now with the sermon posted below. Enjoy!

Part 1: Of Jews and Gentiles

Part 2: Love Between Women

Part 3: The Blessing of a Moabitess

 

* The worldview intensive at Summit Oxford is a time in the term when we meet from 10am to 6pm, weekdays, for two or three weeks straight. It is a time of glorious fellowship, if intense investigations, of tension-filled and earnest discussions, of satisfying enlightenment, and so much more. One result, I hope, is a deep loyalty, one that transcends our appreciation of each other and encompasses the universal and ancient body of Christ.

FREE for Kindle — Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, by Robert Bowman & J. Ed Komoszewski

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Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christby Robert Bowman and J. Ed Komoszewski

Men and Marriage…and egalitarianism…and democracy

Men and Marriage…and egalitarianism…and democracy

Over two decades ago I was introduced to Men and Marriage by George Gilder. I don’t recall the precise circumstances, though it likely was the bookstore at Summit Ministries. I joined Summit’s staff in the summer of 1992 and was granted a full-time position that autumn. Even before joining Summit’s staff, I was a reader. Shortly after I came to faith in Christ Jesus in late-1987, I exchanged the joys of winter snow skiing in northern Utah for the glories of traveling the world of ideas through the printed page.

A couple of months back I began reading through Men and Marriage with our older daughters (ages 14 and 13). The topic of marriage is, of course, a front page and kitchen table discussion these days. And here in the U.K., the “conservative” prime minister (in whose district we happen to reside) led the charge to redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage (which, of course, is the conservative thing to do…in some version of newspeak). Yes, the book feels a bit advanced for them, though there yet is nothing that I can think of that has truly outpaced their understanding. But we want them to understand and be prepared for the world round-about us.

FREE for Kindle • Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels

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Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, by J. Warner Wallace

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New Mormon Church Essay Disputes Caricatures, Affirms Doctrine

New Mormon Church Essay Disputes Caricatures, Affirms Doctrine

by Kevin James Bywater

Mormon TempleOXFORD, U.K. – Recently it was reported that some very strange teachings were wrongly ascribed to Mormons. On February 27, 2014, Brady McCombs (Associated Press Supervisory Correspondent for Utah) published a piece entitled, “MORMON CHURCH PUSHES BACK ON PLANET MISCONCEPTIONS.” The alleged misconceptions centered around the teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church, Mormon Church) that  Mormons would be exalted, become gods, and rule over planets.

McCombs reported that the Mormon Church “pushes back” in a new essay at one of the church’s official websites, LDS.org: “Becoming Like God.” The essay notes that the “Latter-day Saints’ doctrine of exaltation is often…reduced in media to a cartoonish image of people receiving their own planets.” It observed that “few Latter-day Saints would identify with caricatures of having their own planet.” 

The essay asserts that Mormons conceive of “the seeds of godhood in the joy of bearing and nurturing children and the intense love they feel for those children,” as well as in terms of compassion, the beauty of creation, and in faithfulness to commitments. “Church members imagine exaltation less through images of what they will get,” the essay continues, “and more through relationships they have now and how those relationships might be purified and elevated.” (See the screenshot near the end of this post.) 

Ruth, Part 3: The Blessing of a Moabitess

Ruth, Part 3: The Blessing of a Moabitess

We already have witnessed the significance of Ruth being a Moabite who expresses allegiance to the God of Israel, an adoption of God’s people, and a love for her mother-in-law, Naomi. But there is much more to notice.

Moab is mentioned in six verses of  the book of Ruth (Ruth 1:1, 2, 6, 22; 2:6; 4:3), Naomi’s sons are said to have married “Moabite women,” and Ruth is called “Ruth the Moabite” four times (Ruth 2:2, 21; 4:5, 10). That Ruth is so identified is no minor matter. There is a long history of conflict between Moab and Israel. Moab has a terrible reputation in the Bible.