Feb 06

Showing the SpiritShowing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14 by D.A. Carson ????
This book was read in response to some recent encounters with charismatics/Pentecostals. It is a fairly technical text, and thus not an easy read. DA Carson shows a perfect example of putting aside personal prejudices and preconceptions in dealing with a hot topic of the nature of charismatic gifts. He does a step-by-step analysis of the I Corinthian text, and then concludes his personal reflections from the text as to how he conceives and deals with those of the charismatic persuasion. The technical analysis of the text is a total delight, Carson doing what I wish every biblical commentator would do, which is to offer the text an exploration a multiple possible interpretations that currently exist, and then, using both the text, as well as other texts found elsewhere, as well as Greek/Hebrew textual analysis, to derive the best interpretation or possible interpretations of the given text. Oftentimes, Carson doesn’t conclude in a given camp of thought. He refuses to be a cessationist regarding miracles. He also refuses to accept that tongues have necessarily ceased. Yet, at the same time, as a non-charismatic, he refuses to allow tongues, prophecy or other “gifts” to be a defining feature of heightened spirituality, or normative expression of Christian faith. He also refuses to allow these gifts to serve as a divisive influence in a church, allowing that the gifts of tongues, prophecy and healing may not entirely have ceased from the Christian faith. He chooses to explore both the excesses as well as virtues of the Charismatic movement, ending his analysis with an appeal to non-Charismatics to at least look at what the Charismatics have going right with them. To this, I believe that Dr. JI Packer would also agree.

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Feb 06

Rise and Fall of the British Empire, by Prof. Patrick Allitt, Teaching Company Series ????
Patrick Allitt is a worthy lecturer of this series, having been born in Darby, England, and having grown up in England until college years brought him to the USA. He is able to offer personal vignettes from his family history regarding recent events in the last days of the Empire. The British Empire once held land in every part of the globe, from multiple holdings in Africa, all of India/Pakistan/Bangladesh, Egypt and the middle East, Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, multiple Caribbean Islands, and multiple islands elsewhere in the world. Indeed, when The Empire was the largest, it was also the most unstable and weakest, which was immediately following the 1st world war, both the 1st and 2nd world wars being pyrrhic victories to England. Allitt spares no punches at elaborating the multiple abuses of the empire that the Brits exercised, including deception and brutality with the Irish, the multiple exercises of brute force in India and unjust reign in that country, the absolutely embarrassing and horrid inconsistencies with their treatment of the Chinese in the Opium wars, and the wretched and unjust treatment of the Boers in South Africa, provoking war not for the sake of justice or virtue, but solely for wealth. We would not elaborate the horrid treatment of the Zulu kings of Africa, and plays of force in achieving domination of the peoples of those countries. We would also not mention Britain’s aggressiveness at assuring that no other country in the world would exercise the right of ability to also conquer lands and develop colonies, taking greedily colonies from the Dutch and Germans, and assuring weakness with the French and Spanish in their overseas holdings. Allitt spends much time discussing the racism that prevailed in a fairly extreme form, sometimes as extreme as Hitler, in developing the concept of the superior race of the Anglo-saxon, which prevented them from interacting justly with the Indian, the Negroes of Africa, or the  Aborigines of Australia/Maori of New Zealand. Though Great Britain is often thought of being virtuous in bringing Western law and Christianity to all parts of the world, they most often brutally oppressed missionary activity, and rarely lived by the laws which they purported to be holding in high esteem. In summary, the British have exercised an extreme form of arrogance, racism, and domination of “might makes right” that is an embarrassment for the West. Much of this is seen in the recently reviewed series of “The Jewel in the Crown”.
In terms of Allitt’s teaching style, he is very easy to listen to, sometimes lapses into irrelevancies (such as his 35th lecture on British literature), and does repeat considerable amounts of his lecture series on Victorian Britain. Even still, this series is thought provoking, especially in consideration of American attempts to repeat the worst of Great Britain’s mistakes. Ron Paul is right in his foreign policy as a corrective to British mistakes, though most Americans seem to arrogantly accept that we must maintain a police presence throughout the world. Someday (probably soon), we will be seeing a lecture series on the rise and fall of the United States of America, if we don’t wake up to our pompous policies in the world at large.

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