Posted on Saturday, July 21, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

I had today had a new accusation added to the several that have been made against me over the years: lycanthropy. Indeed.  I found myself in the car park of a local Barnes and Noble being berated by a certain gentleman for being a `wolfman who daily devours young children and students.'  Bizarre, but I can assure you this is no joke. Unfortunately, I got the giggles while the `gentlemen' vented his spleen, and my oldest son who was with me at the time, was unable to get the scene videoed on his cellphone for what Del-Boy assures me would have been a superb Youtube entry.  If any Ref21 readers were there at the time and caught the action, please let me know.  A sad example of the de-Kline of public Christian courtesy (there's a clue there as to the `gentleman's identity...)

Anyway, must dash -- full moon tonight and I have -- ahem -- business to which I must attend........


Posted on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

There, bet Del Boy didn't know I can even quote from memory -- from memory, boyo!! --the relevant German section of the passage in The Valkyrie to which he refers. Eat humble pie, you culturally elitist Welshman and grovel in abject humiliation and wonder before the dazzling cultural intellect of your English superior (and I say that with all due modesty and English self-effacing humility)!!! Now, can you respond by citing some lines from `Heartbreaker,' in the original Sanskrit, by the mighty Led Zeppelin, or are you, as I suspect. somewhat limited in your philistine cultural tastes to music produced by Nietzsche's more dubious friends???

On Christ centred preaching.  I wouldn't want to pin the non-Trinitarian thrust of modern worship on this.  Perhaps such preaching is rather a symptom of the suspicion with which historical debates, creedal trajectories, and systematic categories are often held in the contemporary church.  And Trinitarianism is intellecutally strong meat -- it requires deep thought on the part of the preacher in terms of his own theology, and then excellent communication skills to express it in a sermon in a way that is neither patronising or tending to the heretical.  I always think that, if in doubt, close attention to the text solves most problems.  On the Trinity, anchoring all of Christ's ministry in its origin in his baptism is the obvious move; failure to do this will always leave the Trinity as problem; but if you do this, then you have immediately laid a Trinitarian foundation for the whole of Christ's incarnate ministry -- whereby truly Christ-centred preaching becomes truly Trinitarian preaching.

Posted on Monday, July 16, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Given the fact that the Trinitarian identity of the Christian God is the identity of the Christian God, how do the other bloggers on Ref21 (who are all ministers) ensure that the action of worship in their churches on a Sunday is truly Trinitarian?  For theologians such as Gregory Nazianzus, John Calvin and John Owen, Christianity in all its aspects, theoretical and practical, was Trinitarian; yet the oft repeated comment of theologians such as Colin Gunton, to the effect that Western theology is modalist and functionally unitarian, seems well-made; and this surely renders worship more narrowly and the Christian life more broadly as both unChristian and vulnerable to syncretistic forces from Islam. 

Or, from another angle, is the practical ignorance among church leaders of the first five centuries of Christian thinking having a damaging effect not simply on the catholicity of contemporary Protestant theology, but also upon its understanding of who God is and how we relate to him, both in the worship service and in the worship of everyday life? 

Any thoughts?

Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Rev Bryan Follis of Belfast kindly sent me a copy of his new book, Truth with Love: The Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer (Crossway). I was very moved (convicted?) by the conclusion of the book:

Posted on Sunday, July 08, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Just finishing Bob Letham's brilliant and accessible Through Western Eyes: Eastern Orthodoxy -- a Reformed Perspective (Christian Focus).  Typical of Bob's style -- awesome learning, accessible writing, and a fine critical exposition of the history and theology of Orthodoxy which is careful and honorable throughout.   It gave me much food for thought, especially on the matter of icons (I'd never thought of the photographs of the great Hugh Miller and R S Candlish in my office as icons before....).

Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Lunchtime conversations with minister friends in London indicates that the storm about Steve Chalke and penal substitution rumbles on in the UK. There are dark rumours of a certain well-known Christian book chain boycotting a popular presentation of the doctrine; there are whispers of other ministers being told by high-ranking figures in the UK evangelical establishment that to speak or write on the subject will “damage their ministries;” and, of course, there is the remarkable online review by N T Wright of Mike Ovey and co’s Pierced for Our Transgressions. This latter is stunning. Not only is the tone surprising from a person of Wright’s stature, the accusations he makes of what amounts to heresy not only against the authors but also (just for good measure) against the large number of those who provided commendations for the book (including not only pipsqueaks like yours truly but men of real stature, moderation, and biblical scholarship such as my old Aberdeen boss, Howard Marshall) are breathtaking in their unmitigated bluntness – a useful reminder that high-handed tone is very far from being a monopoly of the conservatives. I would be tempted to use the classic defence of `he just didn’t understand what we are saying’ but Wright’s a clever man and a remarkable scholar; and Ovey is a lucid and clear writer; the bishop knows exactly what is being said, and he doesn’t like it or find it biblical (`deeply unbiblical,’ in fact).
Strange – I was only reading this morning of how R V G Tasker, liberal professor of New Testament at King’s College, London, was brought to saving faith through the ministry of Dr Lloyd Jones who convinced him of precisely this truth, that of penal substitution. If it isn’t preached, it will be lost. O tempora, o mores. (though the one glimmer of hope is that Mike’s book is, apparently, selling like hot cakes in the UK – no publicity is bad publicity, after all).

Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Back in the UK I hear rumours that a certain well-known Welsh Baptist minister who read a piece I wrote in Themelios on J I Packer and the Anglo-Welsh evangelical crisis of 1966, has been heard to lament loudly at a recent conference (with more than a little Celtic irony), `What a disaster! Apparently Jim Packer and Carl Trueman are the only people who got it right about British evangelicalism!’

Posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Today I picked up a copy of a new book by my old pal, Neil MacDonald, with the fascinating title Metaphysics and the God of Israel  (Baker).  Neil approaches theology from a broadly Barthian perspective, though this book engages with a veritable pantheon of intellectual giants, from poets to philosophers.   What I appreciate is the desire to connect ST and BT, and the acknowledgment of the crucial role of metaphysics/ontology in all of this.  OK, I'm not a Barthian (despite the ludicrous, libellous, and laughable suggestion of such in a book review of Mike Horton's excellent intro to covenant theology in a recent edition of JETS -- and there was me thinking my life's work was actually a debunking of T F Torrance's historiography, not a surreptitious intrusion of the same into Westminster!  Glad to have my own thought explained to me by someone who really understands.  Ahem.) -- but, that said, it seems to me that Reformed BT and ST need to take seriously both the narrative of the Bible and the ontology of the Bible if they are to enjoy a fruitful relationship.  Neil may have offered a model with which I disagree, but in so doing he lays out a challenge to Reformed confessional theology to do better.

Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

I found this link on Dave Strain's website to another old pal, David `Robbo' Robertson, on YouTube.  The meek shall inherit the earth; but Dundee ministers will sell their books on YouTube.  Frightening enough to have Dave R's blog out there; now we have video-streaming.   I need to reset the filters on my computer.

Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2007 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

I see that my old mucker, Dave Strain, has responded to Tony's blog on Scottish church unity -- though he seems to think it was I who really posted it.  What can I say?  Reports are that `the Gent' is devastated by the `disingenuous' crack, and by the `disrespect' shown to his Family by the misidentification.   I believe he has dispatched Murdo `the Horse' Santini to `pay his respects' to Rev Strain in London.  Careful, Dave, he knows where you live and what car Sheena drives......

You can see how Tony has been `disrepected' at