Happy Birthday Dan!

Dan Gouge

Happy birthday to our own Mr. Beautiful. Have a great one Danny boy!

Andrew Coyne Debates Tyler Cowen On The Great Stagnation

I don’t know how I missed this. Tyler Cowen presents the thesis of The Great Stagnation, with Maclean’s editor, Andrew Coyne, providing the rebuttal. I haven’t watched all of it yet, but I know that it’s something that some of our readers might enjoy. Especially noteworthy are the comments that Tyler Cowen has about Canada starting around 23:00.


Fuller Center Conference

On September 27-28, 2013 the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies will be holding its annual conference on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. This year the Center will address the theme of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815)—one of the most important Baptist theologians—and the controversies that he engaged in his lifetime, including Arminianism, High Calvinism, Socinianism, Deism, and Sandemanianism. Speakers include Paul Helm, Crawford Gribben, Tom Nettles, Nathan Finn, Mark Jones, and others. I am happy to say that I have also found my way onto the list of plenary speakers—I will be addressing Fuller’s role in the intramural Baptist debate over open and closed communion.

For more information about this conference, see the Fuller Center website here.

Savage Vs. Brown On Gay Marriage

I had read this dining room debate was going to happen, but then I didn’t hear anything about it for a long time, and then this footage of the whole thing came up on some random YouTube feed and I thought it might be worth posting (since we did discuss the Hitchens v. Wilson debate on here as well).

Would be interested to hear our readership’s thoughts. I think that Brian Brown gropes for some kind of natural law argument but it comes off as a dictionary definition sort of tautology – marriage is one man and one woman because that’s what marriage is. Savage’s exegesis is sloppy, particularly around slavery. I don’t think Brown makes the case that Savage’s (re)definition of marriage to include himself and his partner threatens Brown’s own marriage other than that Brown will feel somehow cheapened.

Jesus Of The Scars

A poem by Edward Shillito, written during World War I:

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.


Here is some unique footage of Niagara Falls courtesy of a quadcopter and a GoPro video camera:

(Via Huffpost)

James Burns Inferno

Clive James reviews Dan Brown’s Inferno at Prospect Magazine. Or should I say razes it to the ground? Man alive this review is funny. It almost makes me want to read the book—but my mother always told me to look away from car accidents on the side of the road. I’ll adopt the same principle here.

I liked this quote from near the beginning of the review: “Once again, that is, he makes you want to turn the pages even though every page you turn demonstrates abundantly his complete lack of talent as a writer.” And this one: “On top of the shaky language are piled the solecisms. ‘Pandora is out of her box.’” (Dan, she was never in it.)” Poor Dan Brown.

Calvinism Is As Calvinism Does

Calvin Statue

There is an argument making the rounds (though not necessarily a new one) that Calvinism shouldn’t really be considered an “ism” since all that Jean Cauvin did was teach historically orthodox Christianity. Of course the first thing to consider in this regard is that it is suddenly and painfully obvious that those who make this claim are typically, err, Calvinists, and therefore the most immediate response is to suggest a mere blindness to their own frame of reference. Nonetheless, here are some of the key points of the argument as made by Donald Macleod:

“Calvin never saw himself as the founder of an -ism.  In his own lifetime, there is only one single instance of the word ‘Calvinism’ being used, and that was as an insult, as if we today were to call someone a Nazi.  In this respect things aren’t much better in 2013.”

This is true of pretty much everyone who isn’t a completely delusional megolomaniac. I mean did Thomas Aquinas ever respond to any queries about the content of his writings by saying “oh I’m writing about this thing called Thomism, yeah, I called it that. After me. Thomas. Get it?” The very term “Christian” was considered something of an insult in the first century, so Macleod’s assertions here strike me as particularly weak.

“The result is that it is hard to find in Calvin a single idea that had not been part of Christian tradition from time immemorial.  He shunned originality, and if his -ism has any one distinctive it is that it has no distinctives at all.  It is simply, as one great 19th century scholar put it, ‘Christianity come into its own.’”

Really? Usury. Done. Next:

“Nor did Calvin ever demand personal loyalty.  It never occurred to him, for example, that his ‘Institutes’ should become the creed of a church in the way that Wesley’s Sermons became the creed of Methodism, or a papal encyclical commands the loyalty of all the Catholic faithful.”

This is an awful lot of modesty being attributed to the man. I have to ask then, why go to the trouble of writing the Institutes and publishing if not to set up a way of organizing the church?

“But what bugs me even more is that whatever ‘Calvinism’ was, it wasn’t narrow.  The lazy modern mind, of course, reduces it to one thing: predestination, and I’m certainly  not going to disown that doctrine.  It affords gives us a magnificent view of a world which was carefully and lovingly planned, and which runs on schedule despite the fact that every sub-atomic particle behaves randomly and every human being makes her own free decisions; and it helps us understand why some people accept the Christian message even though it cuts across every prejudice with which they were born.

But in Calvin’s own teaching, predestination is but one subject among many, the sixty-seven pages he devotes to it in his ‘Institutes’ dwarfed by the five-hundred devoted to the doctrine of the church and by the many others devoted to the foundations of knowledge, the value of pagan writings, the humanity of Christ, self-denial, and the freedom of the individual Christian conscience.”

In this respect those who claim the name “Calvinist” or “Reformed” have been their own worst enemies. In addition to your garden-variety Presbyterians, there can be Anglican Calvinists, Baptist Calvinists, even Charismatic Calvinists. There can be episcopal government, eldership, congregational government, none of it seems to matter except one common theme: People claim Calvin’s name almost solely on their view of soteriology.



It’s time again methinks, to have a helping of links:

Is bigger better when it comes to churches?

Uh oh: Does coffee curb creativity?

The phone booth graveyard. (Not quite as impressive as this graveyard, but nonetheless, a sign of the times.)

On the lost art of fixing things.

Is craft beer killing productivity?

The Resurrection Of Dick Whitman?

Don Draper Season 6

From time to time I have talked about Mad Men in this space. This is going to be the most pixels that I’ve dedicated to the show thus far. If you haven’t watched right up to last night’s season finale, skip this post. (Likewise, if you find Mad Men dull or slow or otherwise uninteresting, you may not like it in here, or you might, just saying.) (more…)