Monthly Archives: July 2011

Blackfriars Appointment

A hearty congratulations to Dr. Dennis Ngien of Tyndale Seminary on his recent appointment as a Visiting Research Scholar at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He has chosen an interesting array of subjects for research: the christology of Charles Spurgeon and the preaching of Thomas Aquinas. The latter makes sense as Blackfriars is Dominican!


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Filed under dennis ngien, oxford

Only Halfway Home

This is a fantastic video about Levon Helm’s album “Electric Dirt.” The opening track, “Calvary” by Byron Isaacs, is chilling. This is American folk music at its very best:


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Filed under folk, levon helm, music, video

The Pugnacity of the New Atheists

A couple of years ago I was given the opportunity to drive Alister McGrath to a speaking engagement. He gave an excellent lecture on Luther’s theologia crucis, a subject of which is he an expert. On the drive back to his hotel I asked him about his debates with various leading atheists. I asked him if debating the overtly arrogant Richard Dawkins was a frustrating experience. He said no, that Dawkins wasn’t actually that bad on a personal level. Rather, it was Christopher Hitchens who was much more difficult. “You see him with a glass of water on the lectern in a debate,” McGrath said, “Only it is not water in the glass.” Apparently as Hitchens imbibes he becomes more and more cantankerous, making the debate a less-than-pleasurable experience.

My perceptions about the New Atheists, however, are different. Because of his demeanor, I have very little time for Dawkins; his prideful tone is a complete turn-off. But I do enjoy Christopher Hitchens, even though I think his arguments against the existence of God are beneath his own intellectual abilities. Hitchens uses ravaging rhetoric when he skewers his Christian opponents, yet I don’t get the same visceral disgust as I do with Dawkins. Why is that?

The reason for this is that—at least as it appears to me—Dawkins’ arrogance is of the “How dare you question me??” variety, while Hitchens’ is more “How dare you question what I perceive to be self-evidently true?” In the latter case, Hitchens is vitriolic in the name of truth, whereas Dawkins is revolted at the idea that anyone would challenge him in is Oxford-donness.

Of course I don’t doubt that Christopher Hitchens can be just as conceited as Richard Dawkins. But at least his concern seems to be for the argument more than for his reputation. If that’s the case then I can respect that, even though I disagree with the content of his arguments (and think they’re weak and shallow).

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Filed under alister mcgrath, apologetics, atheism, christopher hitchens, richard dawkins

Ignatius and Papal Succession

I wrote on the problem that Ignatius of Anthioch’s letter to Rome poses for the doctrine of papal succession. Check it out at the SSMI blog: “Ignatius and Papal Succession.” I actually brought this up to Michael Coren when I met him a few weeks ago; he transparently admitted that he hadn’t an answer–I didn’t expect him to off the top of his head–but that he knew someone who would. It’d be great, from a purely historical perspective, to see an answer.

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Filed under apologetics, catholicism, church history, patristics, ssmi

Tim Challies the Gnostic?

A friend’s blog pointed up Kevin Johnson’s critique of Tim Challies on the issue of doctrine and Christian unity. Johnson’s post is stunted at a number of levels.

First, why use a dying metaphor like “wax eloquently.” Why not think of something that conjures up a nice word picture? I’m your reader, you want my sympathy; don’t test my intelligence with banality. Was Tim’s waxing that eloquent? Or is this mere cheek for the sake of it?

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Filed under challies, evangelicalism

Review: Why Catholics Are Right by Coren

In an earlier post I mentioned that a number of us had the privilege of spending some time with Canadian television personality Michael Coren who discussed his book Why Catholics Are Right. I have written a fairly critical review of this book for the Credo Magazine website. I confess to a little fearfulness in publishing this review, because Michael Coren deserves much respect for the political work he has done over the years. But there are such important errors in the book that I thought it best to point them out.

Many thanks to Matthew Barrett, the editor of the excellent Credo Magazine for being willing to publish the review. I thoroughly enjoy this publication and am happy to be a part of it; even if notoriously!


Filed under apologetics, books, catholicism, credo magazine, michael coren, reviews