Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tree lobster game?

And while we're on the subject of psuedoscience. . .

God and Guinness: a Book and Beer Review

I love God, and although it is very much a lesser and less frequently indulged love, I also love Guinness.  I also have a small personal connection with some of the ancestors of the Arthur Guinness who founded the Guinness brewery and dynasty(s).  So the title of this book was too hard to refuse.  It is well written, light and fast paced, an easy read with lots of fascinating facts and takes the reader from the beggining of the brewery in the 18th century up to the modern day.  As a bonus there is a brilliant introductory chapter that introduces the history of beer and civilisation and of beer and Christianity.   So far so good, 4/5 stars.

I did dislike a few things though.  The book is a little uneven as Stephen Mansfield slips from historian to motivational speaker to preacher, this is OK but in a couple of places he quotes historians without even mentioning their names, i don't expect footnotes, and there is an adequate sources section in the appendix.  more annoying than this is that Mansfield manages to mention 3 times in the book that he has also written a book about the faith of Barak Obama, but that doesn't mean that he likes Barak Obama, in fact he is at pains to tell us he is a CONSERVATIVE christian.  Frankly, I am reading the book to find out about Guinness not about him.  If people are judging him like that, he shouldn't give them the dignity of a response, especially not in an unrelated book. Why waste my time?  His "conservative" idea of truth also spoils the historical narrative a couple of times.  For example he fails, as a good historian should not, to point out that while an evangelical member of the Guinness family may have thought that Darwin was an "infidel" who profaned Christ and attacked the authority of the Bible, that is not a very fair assement of Darwin himself.  You may think that was an ommission but on the next page he describes Darwin's theories as "pseudoscience."  I mean, I accept that he may not be a payed up evolutionist, he may even be a dyed in the wool creationist, but to say one of the most influential scientists ever, was only doing "psuedoscience" beggars belief.  Mansfield also ends the book with a highly irritating and trite 5 things to learn from the story of Guinness like some half rate preacher who has to list at the end of the sermon all the things he hoped you'd picked up on the way.

So read and enjoy, but as you chew the meat you might have to spit out the bones.  Thankfully, Guinness stout is made to a much more exacting standard! And now i'm feeling thirsty! :-)

[With thanks to's book review blogger program!]

Friday, February 26, 2010

Warning: Evangelistic Message

Just been having a chat about how certain churches tend to operate on the assumption that anything that grows the church must be good and that even the gospel might need changing if it doesn't result in church growth.  It reminded me how I once challenged an evangelistic group that were visiting my university in the UK.  I asked them why their message was all about God as your best friend and going to heaven when you die, and had nothing about sacrifice, the cross, and the commitment that Christ asks from us.  The reply I got was instructive: "well who would want to become a Christian then?"  It is worth noting that this reply wasn't delivered with any trace of irony or sarcasm.

So this would be a good point to demonstrate how far from the NT such an attitude is, but that will have to wait for another day.  The new academic year is beggining and I need to make this quick.  Here is my alternative evangelistic message, and maybe it explains why I am not a very good evangelist . . . i'm just too honest!

*Message begins*

Repent and believe, the kingdom is at hand.  It's gonna cost you big.  Don't take this on lightly, don't rush into this decision.  Because pretty soon you are going to have to make some huge sacrifices and I want you to be certain that you really want to do this. 

Christianity does not give you all the answers, in fact it will likely give you far more questions to worry about than you had in your previously apathetic state.  Christianity does not solve all your problems, in fact it will show you problems that you were previously oblivious too.  Christianity will complicate your life horrendously.  All those people you are used to ignoring and not caring about, if you become a Christian you will have to love them all unconditionally! 

As a Christian you will need to commit to sharing your life and resources with people who you would never otherwise have anything to do with.  Not only that but most of the rest of the world will not understand your basic motivations, constantly misrepresent you and assume the worst about you because of your affiliation.  Even in the group of people you hang out with to encourgae each other in this new lifestyle their will be people who try to hurt and discourage you and who will misunderstand you at every opportunity. 

Not only so.  This decision means that you accept as Lord a person whose greatest acheivement was dying a horrible and unjust death for the sake of others, this person does not share your concern for your personal and financial well being but is obsessed by building a kingdom that has nothing to do with all the idolatrous pleasures you currently delight in and will have huge difficulty in letting go of.  Instead this kingdom's ideal is that of sacrificial love and you can expect many opportunities to express it. 

However, I should probably say that knowing this person (their name is Jesus) makes all of the above somehow worth while and even fills life with a joy and grace that transcends my pathetic desires and frustrations and links me tangibly to the life of eternity. 

So . . . Anyone interested?

*Message Ends*

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kasemann Quotes

Been enjoying reading Kasemann today.  Here is a smorgasbord of his brilliance!  All quotes from Perspectives on Paul, SCM 1973.
On idealism, 
Contemporary theology is still having to pay for the fact that it is still a victim of the heritage or curse of idealism to a greater degree than it cares to admit.  It could have learned as much from Marxism as it did from Kierkegaard and would then have been unable to go on assigning the absolutely decisive role to the individual. - p11
In relation to the interpretation of 1 Cor 2:11 as suggesting "as a spiritual being man is called to knowledge of himself," (p14) he writes,
We are bound to ask whether nineteenth-century New Testament exegesis was not the victim of a disastrous mistake, and that on the basis of a single verse. - p15
In conclusion to a chapter on anthropology (what it means to be human - excuse the non inclusive language, man person of his time and all that!),
Man cannot be defined from within his own limits, but he is eschatologically defined in the light of the name of Christ, just as Adam once received his name from God, thereby aquiring definitionas a creature.  It is true of both that they are unable to give themselves being and existence, but remain dependant on grace, which is new every morning and never finds an end. - p31
In an exegetically dubious but theologically neat meditation on the church as the body of Christ,
The human body is the necessity and reality of existential communication; in the same way, the church appears as the reality and possibility of communication between the risen Christ and our world, and hence is called his body. - 117
Let me know what you think, :-)

Rolf Potts on the body of Christ

I'm really gutted not to be able to include this in my thesis, but it just isn't going to fit.  I'll just have to find another way to get the Wittenburg Door into my bibliography.  BTW if you have yet to discover this magazine . . . you need it in your life!
I’d consider myself a post-evangelical.  I have a private, Jeffersonain faith – one that would make most evangelicals a little nervous.  But that’s fine.  Paul says in the letter to the Corinthians that we are all part of the body of Christ.  People tend to think this means the spiritual body is an expression of hegemony, a sum of evangelical components: you know an alliance of schoolteachers, accountants with fish symbols on their BMWs, born again organizers of ping pong tournaments, and so on.  But I’d reckon American evangelicals are themselves just parts of a larger body that includes Egyptian Copts, Peruvian Catholics, and syncretistic Nigerian Mennonites.  Not to mention the quiet post modern types who feel a part of the greater Christian tradition, yet don’t identify with a specific orthodoxy. 
– Rolf Potts in interview with Kristin Van Tassel, “Travelling Mercies” p 5-8 the Wittenburg Door, Nov/Dec 2007, no214, p8.

So here's the discussion, do you think this is a valid description of "the body of Christ"?

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Just found this blog, was attracted by seeing the acronym ASBO, which if you have spent any time in innercity UK will mean a lot to you.  That (above) wasn't the best but it fitted in with the last post.  I could spend all day looking at these, could come in handy for all sort of applications and they are kindly offered for free use for anything and anyone.

Go there and enjoy :-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Converting Theologians: Quote of the Day

We can never get away from prejudices, but we must keep trying to become more independent and at least to penetrate more deeply into the problems with which we are faced.  It is probably more difficult for theologians to be converted than other people.  Perhaps one is on the way when one has decided not to howl with the wolves or bray with the asses.
[Kasemann in the foreward to Perspectives on Paul]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Aggression and Misogyny

I continue to be perplexed by the (usually American) suggestion that aggression is a male Christian virtue.  Michael Patton seems to think that it is not only a virtue but an essential pastoral character trait. It is worth saying, from my own experience, that aggression is totally not the way to deal with confrontation either in pastoral work or wider life.  I am a naturally aggressive person but I have had to tame that aggression especially in conflict situations.  Aggression always escalates the situation and sends signals to the other party that they too need to become more aggressive.  It is a posture of insecurity and fear rather than confidence and love.  Aggression seeks to persuade through intimidation and vehemence rather than sound argument and compassion.  Aggression closes the heart to the Spirit and fills it with bile towards your opponent.

What Patton, and by implication John Hobbins, need to realise is that aggression and misogyny are both results of the Fall (See Genesis 4 and 3 respectively), and so by definition are to be resisted at every point, not accepted as cultural norms. "Muscular" male dominated Christianity is not worthy of the name Christianity, it is instead a celebration of so much that is wrong with the world.  Inconsistent misogynists around the world need to stop telling everyone they are simply doing what the Bible says and realise that they are working for the enemy. 

Mythologizing: Quote of the Day

After a brief discussion of Bultmann, Johnson comes out with this gem: 
I have come now to realize that the task of preaching is not to demythologize the gospel, but to remythologize the world with the gospel.
I think that might even be worthy of a place on my study wall . . . 
I just have to figure out what it actually means first! :-)

Monday, February 15, 2010

More on Paul and Sexual Purity

I've just been readnig Jerome Neyrey, Paul in Other Words, 1990, in particular the section on "Body Language in 1 Corinthians," (pp102-46).  Like Countryman, Neyrey makes extensive use of Mary Douglas' work on purity.  However while Countryman shows how Jesus and Paul radically reinterpret (or even subvert) the ancient Hebrew conceptions of purity found in the Torah, Neyrey seems determined to shoehorn almost anything Paul says into the polarised anthropological model he has distilled from Douglas.  Paul is thus portrayed as an authoritarian obsessed with physical and social purity.

As far as my own research goes a crucial illustration of the sort of thing Neyrey does that I dont find convincing is his treatment of 1 Cor 5-6.  Countryman observes that the common theme is that of property rights, the incestuous man has not respected his father's sexual property by having sex with his step-mum, other Corinthian Christians are taking their brothers to court to defraud them of their property rights, and Christian men are visiting prostitutes (or being tempted to do so) and thus defrauding God of his property rights over their bodies (Countryman 195-6). 

But for Neyrey 1 Cor 5-6 are held together by Paul's obsession with genitals as the marginal points of the body (Neyrey, 114).  That proposal fails because it cannot explain the presence of the discussion of law suits and neither does it account for the way Paul treats each of the "sexual" issues.  In treating the sexual issues of 1 Cor 5-6 Paul shows no concern for the mechanics of sexual purity but is deeply concerned about those who have what they should not (their father's wife or their brother's property) or who are being had by whom they should not be had (prostitutes!). 

Regarding social purity (1 Cor 5:6-8) the isue is not so clear cut, but it is worth pointing out that Paul's primary concern seems to be that the offender is brought to repentence and thus "saved in the day of the Lord." The remarks about the leaven might refer to the man's offense but more probably refer to the communty's "boasting."  It would not be then that the offender was tainting the community but that the community's boasting was.  After all in the NT the sin of others has lost its ability to stick to us (cf. 1 Cor 5:10) but our boasting (and resultant pride) can have terrible effects.  

The following section (1 Cor 5:9-13) about judging immorality is then an expression of concern that those who are living destructive lifestyles are brought to repentance through ostracism.  That may sound funny, but notice how not eating "with such a one" is not to avoid contamination but to bring them under "judgement." 

Let me know what you think :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

3 Reasons why I will never be a Rev.

This post is not offered to insult or question the motives of the many good Christian leaders I know (and all those I don't) who have taken the title Reverend, and I know more than a few.  And this is not an issue that I would burn at the stake for. But that said I think the arguments are pretty compelling and I can't understand why everyone else doesn't think the same as me! ;-)

  1. Jesus' teaching in Matt 23:1-12 is quite clear that those who teach others about God shouldn't be in the business of self agrandisment and the taking (or accepting) of titles for themselves.   Despite the protests and straw men of the Roman Catholic apologists this is not about the exact words, "call no man FATHER," but about the way we choose (or choose not) to be addressed as a mark of honour in our communities.
  2. One friend of mine was told at his ordination, "you are now ontologically different,"  what nonsense.  The Spirit of God is what transforms us not the rites of a religious institution. If having those letters in front of your name doesn't actually in itself make you any different to someone who doesn't have them, then why do you want them there?
  3. I would rather people saved their reverence for God so would never want to suggest that it was in anyway due to me by taking the title Reverend.
Let me know what you think . . . especially if you are a Rev (or about to be one)!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Great Start to a Sermon

This is now old, but I have just come across it and wanted to share how John Piper started his first sermon after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001.
So how shall I strengthen your hope this morning?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope politically, and comfort you that America is durable and will come together in great bipartisan unity and prove that the democratic system is strong and unshakable?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope militarily, and comfort you that American military might is unsurpassed and can turn back any destructive force against the nation?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope financially, and comfort you that when the market opens on Monday there will be stability and long-term growth to preserve the value of all your investments?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope geographically, and comfort you that you live in the Upper-Midwest, far from the major political and military and financial targets that enemies might choose?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope psychologically, and send you to the web page titled "Self-Care and Self-help Following Disasters" so that you can read there that "individuals with strong coping skills . . . maintain a view of self as competent . . . and avoid regretting past decisions"?
· Should I try to strengthen your hope eschatologically by comforting you that you won't be on the earth anyway when the blazing fireball comes near your town?

The answer to those six questions is very easy for me: NO. I will not try to strengthen your hope in those six ways. And the reason I won't is also very simple. None of them is true.
· The American political system is not imperishable.
· The American military cannot protect us from every destructive force.
· The financial future is not certain and you may lose your investments.
· The Midwest is not safe from the next kind of terrorism which may be more pervasive and more deadly.
· The psychological efforts to feel competent and avoid regret are not healing, but fatal.
· And eschatological scenarios that promise escape from suffering under God's end-time providence didn't work for the Christians in the World Trade Center last Tuesday, and they won't work for you either. 
Before you exalt Christ it is often necessary to pull down a few idols that are in his place first, and Piper does well to give them the contempt they deserve.  [HT to Darrell Johnson, p49]

Grasshopper Theology 1

It seems to me, and maybe I am just talking about myself, but I think this afflicts many others as well, that so much anxiety and stress comes from thinking rather too much of yourself, of seeing yourslef as the centre of your universe.  So much modern day rhetoric, both inside and outside the church, focusses on how special you are, on how important it is your needs are met, and how the goal of your existence is to acheive fulfilment and experience all you possibly can and accomplish some great destiny.  Otherwise, frankly, you didn't do it right, your life is wasted.

God has a wonderful plan for your life, so if your life doesn't turn out to be wonderful, that is if no one would want to write a book about your life, then you must have done something wrong with it.  I'll be honest, I often feel burdened that I am supposed to do something great, achieve something mighty, make a difference to the world, leave my mark, live a life worthy of one of those really inspiring Christian biographies that line the shelves of the Christian book stores.  But does that desire come from my devotion to God and my desire to serve Christ, or from my own ego that thinks I'm so special and important that my life needs to really count for something?

Grasshopper Theology is the antidote to thinking that you are someone special who God needs to do something really great to help God save the world.  A certain church near me delights in teaching its young people that they are royalty, princes and princesses, because they are Christians they are God's children and so can expect the success and priviledge that comes from being the children of the King of the Universe.  It's a nice idea.  But Grasshopper Theology takes a different tack, frankly when God comes to town, it is better not to be caught being the prince . . .
Do you not know?
       Have you not heard?
       Has it not been told you from the beginning?
       Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
       and its people are like grasshoppers.
       He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
       and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught
       and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

What's the point of being theologically trained?

First to avoid making errors like these and second because of this. :-)

The Beauty of Systematic Theology: Anti-Quote of the Day

Gordon Clark takes issue with Peter Macky's treatment of his work in this article and concludes with,
Mathematics is not my forte either, but it is far more beautiful than poetry.  It is surpassed only by systematic theology.
Which is funny, because I always thought that Systematic Theology is at its best when it was most poetic.  But here we have in Clark a classic cognitive-propositionalist according to Lindbeck's typology (see I told you it would come in handy!) and I haven't yet read enough of Macky to pidgeon-hole him but I suspect he leans towards the experiential-expressivist mode.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The word of God: Quote of the day

I am slowly getting into Darrell Johnson's The Glory of Preaching which received rave reviews from Paul.  I am still not sure about it but I liked this,
The word of God not only informs, it performs, it transforms.  The word of God makes things happen. (p25)
He probably didn't intend it this way but I think that nicely covers all three types of religious discourse suggested by Linbeck's typology, in pretty much the same order.  So preaching is able to work on the levels of cognitive proposition, the affective experiential, and shape culturally the listening community.  The interesting question is which of these do you think gets priority in your own, or your own church's, practice of preaching?  Should we aim for a balance, or is one to be priviledged over the others?

Monday, February 8, 2010

How do they do it?

The title of this post is referring to those academic bloggers who seemingly manage to hold down a fulltime job, blog incessantly, AND read about 300 books a year!  Some of them seem to be able to do all this whilst also watching incredible amounts of TV and/or raising a family.  Do these people have more hours in the day than the rest of us or are their brains just super processors? (I wont link to any of these guys, because if you don't know who they are they would just make you sick, and if you do know who they are, then you know, don't you!?)

Personally, I could read a couple of books a week, if i had nothing else to do, but with work and family and church commitments i struggle to get through even short books in a month.  Obviously I have to read a lot of books for my research, but that tends to take the form of "mining" whereby i judge use the contents or index to find the relevant stuff.  I find it very frustrating but there simply isn't time to read books all the way through.  I can usually blog about 3 times a week, if i am being a good boy and working on my research, if not then I get more blogging done.

I have tried tricks like reading in the evening, but then i don't sleep cos my brain is going round, and anyway life is too short to work all day.  I have come to the conclusion that I just need to skim read everything, but that seems a bit of an insult to the authors who laboured over all these books, not to mention academicaly dangerous as the hances of misrepresenting an author increase in proportion to the amount of the work that you skim.

The only solace I do take is that previously prolific bloggers/readers Ben Myers and Chris Tilling have slowed down hugely since getting teaching jobs, which leads me to suspect they were previously underemployed ;-).  Not that that works for all the uber-bloggers but it does mean that perhaps if i didn't have small kids and a job i might be getting more blogging/reading done than I am . . . or maybe I would just watch more TV?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sex isn't icky for Paul

One of the fascinating results of my thesis research (IMHO) has been to realise how much we tend to impose modern evangelical conceptions of sexual purity onto the NT texts (even if we don't hold to them ourselves).  In the Torah sex has a defiling potential so, to use Lev 15:16-18 for example, an emmission of semen requires a ritual bath (for the man and for the woman if she is involved) and a wait until evening before they can be cosidered clean again.  Sex is apparently dirty and needs to be dealt with to avoid contaminating other things and rendering them dirty too.

But in NT Christianity purity ceases to revolve around that which is dirty and becomes an issue of the heart's intentions.  The classic text where this revolution takes place is Mark 7:17-23.  In this text Jesus denies the ability of any external physical thing to make someone "unclean."  As witnessed to by Jesus' ministry this included corpses, lepers, and women with bleeding, all of whom should never have been touched under the Torah's purity regulations.  And yet through his miracles Jesus showed that his "pure" compassionate intentions were stronger than the defiling capacity of those external facts, he could touch and remain undefiled.  Instead his "purity" often spread to those he touched, as evidenced by their healing.

Unfortunately readers of Paul often come to the passages where he talks about sexual purity and think that he has reverted back to the Levitical idea of sex being "icky".  That it is something dirty which will stick to you and make you dirty too.  But although Paul uses purity language in regard to his exhortations regarding proper sexual conduct, careful reading reveals that the purity Paul is concerned with stems not from a revulsion towards icky sex but from other considerations.  In both 1 Cor 6:12-7:40 and 1 Thes 4:3-8, which are the two key Pauline passages on sex, the driving concerns are not the potential for contamination but,
  1. the respect of people's sexual property "rights" (1 Thess 4:6; 1 Cor 6:20; 7:4)
  2. the demonstration of the self-control that comes from a Spirit filled life, i.e. not being dominated by the gratification of one's urges (1 Cor 6:13, 19; 7:9; 1 Thess 4:4, 7)
  3. the maintenance of the believer's right relationship with members of the community and with God/Christ (1 Cor 6:15, 1 Thess 4:1, 6, 8)
Within those concerns Paul's purity language is consistently used regarding the interior, spiritual, and social effects of sexual immorality, the consequences of the sexually immoral acts not the external fact of the act at all.  To my mind this means that contemporary Christian sexual ethical reasoning must move away from purity language because we are unable to get out of our heads that certain external actions are just plain "icky" in and of themselves.  Instead, if we are going to critique promiscuity, homosexuality, or pre-marital sex, we need to do so from a point of view of how these acts actually effect those who particpate in them and the society in which they live and what motivates those actions. 

Apart from being "Biblical," the other real advatnage to this approach is that it both allows us to argue in terms that a non-believer can meaningfully engage with (i.e. personal and social consequences), but also forces us to respect the fact that a key reason for our own sexual restraint is maintenance of a relationship with God, an aim many non-believers don't share (funnily enough).  This alone should cause us to slow down if we are under the impression we need continually agitate to legislate Christian sexual morality in our secular nations.

let me know what you think :-)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

σκεῦος = penis

Most of your Bible translations have two possible rendering of 1 Thes 4:4, something along the lines of either
that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honour (NRSV)
that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honour (NRSV, note)
But the word translated variously "wife" or "body" is σκεῦος, which is a very strange word to use for either.  Of course the "wife" translation is especially wierd, as "knowing how" to take a wife presumably has little effect on your behaviour unless you actually do so!  And they are both wierd because if σκεῦος is a metaphor for either, what does the use of that metaphor add to the discussion?  σκεῦος is essentially a word for a useful object and has a semantic range broad enough to cover ship's rigging, kitchen pots, and human functionaries!  Instead, as both FF Bruce and Gordon Fee argue in their respective commentaries on 1&2 Thessalonians, σκεῦος is here best understood as a euphemism for penis.  There is even an example of this usage in the LXX (the Greek version of the OT) in 1 Sam 21:5-6.  

My contribution to this discussion is simply to concur with Fee's (much more detailed- this is just a very brief summary) argument and to point out that this would help explain Paul's use of τιμή (honour) here as in 1 Cor 12:23 he also talks about how the less presentable parts need to be treated with special τιμή (honour).

My translation suggestion?
that each one of you know how to control your own thingy in holiness and honour
Let me know what you think, :-)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Decade of Eagleton

As noted earlier, some have suggested that the 00s were the decade of the Atheists.  I predict that the next decade will be the decade of Terry Eagleton.  He is perfectly placed to ride the wave of the new-atheism as a swashbuckling rhetoritician surfer of outrageous derring-doo.  That he is the man for this moment is witnessed to by the sudden surge of interest in his writings by the blogging community. That this is a good thing is that writing at a popular level he may be the one who can rescue North American and Australasian Christianity from its captivity to the political right:

Yes, I quote my father who insisted that Jesus Christ was a socialist and that any Christianity that is not on the side of the dispossessed against the arrogance of the powerful and rich is utterly untraditional. Dawkins and Hitchens write about Christianity and never link the words God, justice and love. That is either a sign of their obtuseness or a sign of the massive self-betrayal of the Christian movement. It has got to the point where intelligent people like them don't understand that Christianity is not about how many months you get in purgatory for adultery. It's about a love and a thirst for justice that will bring you to your death. There's nothing lovely about it.
From here
[prophetic disclaimer: this does not constitute a word from the LORD, only the half baked opinion of someone avoiding working on his masters thesis!!  Therefore it may or may not come true.  Any loss or damage to property or personal fortune as a result of believing this prediction is entirely at the readers own risk. :-)]

"Strange gods": Quote of the day

On the subject of the Uniting Church in Australia, Scott Stephens writes,
It is now a shell of its former self, like so much Liberal Protestantism throughout the West, having gone whoring after the strange gods of impotent theology, liturgical gimmickry, inert bureaucracy and social respectability.
Which is quoted in dedication to the Rev Phil Baiden, who I know will find such a fine and lyrical indictment of Liberal Protestantism useful in his own ecclesial context! :-)  (The rest of the article is also worth a read.)