Friday, 20 November 2020

All of education is religious - the only question is, "which religion?"

Firstly, read this:

This illustrates a simple fact: there is no neutral territory. Everywhere where there is education, even a wood, even spiders, a world-view is being communicated. The question is not "shall we teach how to understand our observations?" but "in what context shall we teach how to understand our observations?". And the most important context - everyone realises - is how humans understand themselves, and the world they live in, and how to interpret their inner lives. When people swallow the untruth that some sort of secularism in which we just observe without adding any context, they simply end up as teaching that life should be lived according to atheist nihilism, by default. "There are only facts" is functionally the same as "there is nothing but self".

As we see illustrated in the above article, the world outside the church understands these truths about education well. They know that the world is not a simple, naked, meaningless brute fact. Rather, there is a narrative, a background, a context, in which it should be interpreted. And so, as the world's educators seek to educate others, and especially children, they seek to teach what they hold as the correct, righteous context. They teach their worldview, because that's what educators do. That's what education involves. In the modern world, that increasingly means they teach a self-centred, God-less world-view in which man and his personal desires are the ultimate realities, and ultimate good things.

Lots of Christians haven't accepted these facts about how education works. In my observation, that's usually for one of two reasons.

The first reason is that they've never thought about it. Despite living in a society that has undergone such radical change as Western societies have in the last few generations, they have not applied their mind to thinking about what this means for the task of educating our children. They haven't even begun to reflect seriously upon what it means to obey the Bible's instruction to be "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is a terrible failure to love God with all our minds, in one of the major areas of our duty.

The second is worse: Christians know that education is not neutral, and that the secularist education they have chosen for their children is anti-Christian - but they aren't willing to endure any of the costs in doing otherwise. They knowingly send their children to be educated in a context of darkness instead of light, because doing otherwise would involve discomfort. It would involve change, effort, and the possibility of others in their social groups pulling funny faces at them, which might make them feel awkward. I hope and pray that a lot of these Christians come, or will come, into a third category: those whose eyes have been opened, realised that pleasing God necessitates a radical change of direction, and who are going by his grace and strength to get up and make those changes.

Monday, 16 November 2020

"A failure of spiritual leadership" - Christian Institute lecture

This lecture, scheduled for tonight, sounds well-worth listening to:

In my personal view - informed by having lived in multiple foreign countries and thus, I hope, having gained some perspective on trying to analyse how church, state and culture are interacting and thinking about what that means - all is not well in the UK church scene. At all.

One of the things that is not well is that when we listen to the output of the mainstream evangelical organisations, we do not get the impression that all is not well. Or at least, nothing that making sure we preach the gospel in our weekly messages can't mostly account for, if we keep plugging away at it. The outside of the house is still very presentable. The people are sincere, pleasant and persuasive. But all the signs are present that the long-term soundness of the building is deeply suspect. And what is meant by "long-term" increasingly begins to approach, and the number of plausible scenarios in which it actually means "next year, next month, next week" rather than "next decade" begin to increase. There are fundamental problems that exist, that we can ignore most of the time, but which something like 2020 suddenly draws attention to. As well as being a challenge, 2020 then becomes an opportunity: an opportunity to review our course, and what needs doing about it.

As a trustee for the widely-respected Christian Institute (and "Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics", which I confess I'd not heard of, and a former Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, right at the heart of (Anglican) mainstream UK conservative evangelicalism), Richard Turnbull is potentially a very good person to deliver a message and have people listen. At this point, I do not know what he will say, but the title and summary some promising:

"Many have reported increased spiritual interest in the person of Jesus Christ during this pandemic. This has often been true in these times of crisis. Individual church ministers have often been heroic. However, the response of the church as an institution has been nothing short of scandalous. Why this failure of spiritual leadership? What led to the suspension of public worship for the first time since Magna Carta? There are, of course, broader questions including the trade-off between health and economics, the proper role of the state and the place of liberty, including religious liberty. We will reflect on all these matters."

Saturday, 14 November 2020

The Transgender Agenda - DVD launch - a vital resource

As the source passing this on to me wrote: "Those who have the responsibility to care for children need to be informed of the very real dangers of this ideology and know how best to care for and safeguard our children who are too young to be making irreversible decisions that will affect their lives forever."

As such, I hope this will be widely circulated and used by Christian parents, educators and churches. The time for hiding our heads in the sand never existed, but if it had, it passed longed ago.

Watch the launch:

Buy the DVD:

Monday, 2 November 2020

The second lockdown : why are we not allowed to see meaningful statistics?

I wrote in the strongest terms I knew how whilst still seeking to remain respectful, to my local MP, and urge you to do so also. Note, on the first major paragraph, that graphs of the possible costs (only) of not locking down that were shown, accompanied by small-print disclaimers saying that they are not predictions, are not at all what is meant by a cost/benefit analysis, of the kind usually published by governments for decisions many orders of magnitude less significant that this one.

(My address)

Dear sir,

I, as you no doubt also did, listened to the Prime Minister's announcement on Saturday.

I asked myself, where is the overall cost/benefit analysis of the health, social and economic gains and losses of lockdown? Apparently there is not even a plan to publish one before Wednesday's vote. After 8 months since the idea of lockdown first entered public debate, and over 7 since the first began, this is absolutely reprehensible.

Secondly, where was/is the open publication of the studies and data being used to justify this decision? Again, after all these months, we are still being asked to accept graphs with disclaimers printed in small print on the bottom (that these are not predictions or projections, but just some sort of scenario that the government is unwilling to attribute a likelihood to), and the implied insinuation that the Prime Minister's chosen experts are obviously correct (whereas the multitude of experts who strongly disagree are obviously wrong). This also is absolutely reprehensible.

I have an MMath from the University of Oxford (1st class), including masters-level modules in statistics. The government's use and manipulation of statistics during this crisis has been appalling. Its practice of hiding its working, even now, is beyond words. I urge you to vote against lockdown on Wednesday. It cannot be in your constituents' interests to close down their lives on the mere say-so of people who refuse even to allow proper scrutiny of their decisions, and who will be the last to endure the consequences of their decisions. A parliamentary vote, in the absence of the accompanying information to make that vote meaningful, is not scrutiny. It is not meaningful accountability. It is scrutiny in name only, a sham and an insult.

Yours sincerely,
David Anderson esq.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

John Ioannidis vindicated; WHO now agrees that the median infection fatality rate for SARS-CoV-2 is nothing like Imperial College's modelling

This paper - published after peer review by the World Health Organisation in the last week - is a stunning vindication for Stanford University professor John Ioannidis.

Back in April, Professor Ioannidis correctly predicted the average infection fatality rate (IFR) as being vastly lower than that being used by Imperial College London and the UK government (and indeed governments world-wide) in the projections used to justify harsh and lengthy lockdowns. On Professor Ioannidis' calculations, the danger of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the average human being had been hugely over-estimated. At that time either ignored or excluded as pushing something dangerous that needed to be suppressed, events have proved that Ioannidis was in fact, right on the money. And now that it's been published by the World Health Organisation, the media's slanderous presentation of him (and many others of equal standing) as an obscure crank is even more untenable.

If you want to see an 8-minute walk-through of what that means in practice for Western countries which went "all-in" on the Imperial College modelling, watch this equally devastating video by Irish biochemical engineer Ivor Cummins (which mentions the paper), applied to the context and so-wrong-they're-insane speculations still being broadcast with few questions by the media in his own country.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

There used to be catechisms in the schools?

There are so many good bits to this article that I can't pick out just one or two quotes; please read it all! 

Saturday, 3 October 2020

The new totalitarianism

 From the Guardian today:

Who's not against Jihadism? Practically everyone except Jihadis, presumably. And as such, presumably we're expected to be in favour of measures taken to discourage Jihadism too.

But, read carefully: these are not simply measures to discourage Jihadism. This is another instance of the new totalitarianism: the totalitarianism which is, supposedly, all in your best interests. A new colonising of power, of home life, of parenthood, by the state - a colonising that will not simply be limited to preventing fanatics from blowing you up, but has much broader ends. That's what Mr. Macron has explained, because that's what it is. In his own words, he explains that the French state has its own religion. He explained that alternative religions as religions (not simply Jihadist ideology in particular, or certain strains of Islam) are a problem. He says that it's bad to have too many people of the same religion concentrated in the same area, and that the state's ideology must predominate "in every road, every building". Read the article: Macron's philosophy is not simply about Jihadism; it is about explicitly promoting a secular humanist religion and making sure that it dominates. A totalitarian philosophy, announced in broad daylight.

To this end, he has announced that home schooling - i.e. the idea that parents rather than the state should be the final directors of their children's education - will become illegal, and all children will attend state institutions from the age of three. "The hand that rocks the cradle", and all that. Parents will not be parents, in France; they will merely be unpaid state operatives, required to ensure that their children learn the official state ideology. And let's underline: as Macron explains very clearly, that's not simply anti-Jihadism, that's radical secular humanism. Totalitarianism: it's not that 100% of children are likely to be taught by their parents to become Jihadis, but nevertheless, the solution that is coming is that 100% of children will be de facto and de jure wards of the state.

Peter Hitchens, in another context, recently wrote "If I hadn’t despaired long ago, I would be despairing now." It is very tempting to take up this attitude in relation to the UK evangelical church scene and how it generally looks onto this growing secular totalitarian menace. One day, unless things change or the laws of logic and human thought abolish themselves or God intervenes in miraculous ways, since we have passed A, B, C and D, we will certainly arrive at E. The state will announce that various elements of Christian teaching and parenting are hateful, damaging to children, illegal, and will be subject to criminal censure and childcare orders, whether in school, the home, Sunday school or the main gatherings of the church, starting from 9am next Monday morning. Whether it will be announced on Twitter or in parliament first, I cannot tell you. But I can tell you that, as a whole, the evangelical church has no "plan B" that's been put into effect during the last 25 years in readiness for this very foreseeable situation. With just a few exceptions, there are just handfuls of individuals working working as well as they can alone or in small groups, outside of church structures, for their own families' welfare and the creating of structures in which we maximise our chances of being ready to resist this approaching disaster. We have not taught people to deeply engage with a secular culture, to detect and refute secular ideas, and to guard their children with good arguments and understanding against them. We confess that God uses means, but by and large, we are not deploying means to be ready for the predictable day when evangelical Christianity or Christian parenting themselves become to all effects a crime.

On the political scene, for years Peter Hitchens has observed the dreary pattern of being told that he's an alarmist scaremongerer, that these awful things will never happen, then seeing his predictions come to pass, then being told that it's not so bad after all. I see this same dynamic working in the UK evangelical church. It'll never happen, then it does, then we find that we can adjust ourselves to it, by retreating just a few steps more. May God have mercy, for we are sinners.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Do Christian churches in the West have a "plan B" ?

I wonder how many evangelical churches in the West have given any more than vague thoughts to this question: if and when the state becomes explicitly and directly hostile to the Christian faith (in the sense of deciding to directly forbid its activities or teachings on the grounds that they are themselves wrong, not simply through indirect means), what is your plan for that?

The last few decades have consistently seen Christians accommodating themselves to whatever the secular state comes up with. The church has generally accepted the state's declarations that the public square is secular (not under the lordship of Christ), that children should be educated in a secularist context (not one saturated in the assumptions and directives of the word of God), that the source of law is secular humanism (not the revealed will of God), that the church's voice is irrelevant in public affairs, and so on and so forth. Now that the church has accepted its position as irrelevant to life outside of its own four walls, the reasonable question is: what next? This is a necessary question because secular humanism is not an ideology which has any grounds for saying "we will stop 12 inches outside of your front door, and the front door of your churches". Only a Christian worldview has a basis for distinguishing consistently been sin and crime, and resolving some matters by looking to the future (whether on earth as the influence of Christ's power spreads, or on the final day of judgment). Secular worldviews are necessarily and inevitably totalitarian, regardless of how long the interim period before the consistency works itself out may be. Christians have benefited greatly from the remaining vestiges of the influence of the Christian worldview in society and culture. But, I repeat, what next?

As we all know when it comes to other spheres of life, "hope is not a strategy". And action-less hope is still not a strategy even when coated with a few true-in-themselves Christian platitudes such as "we will pray" and "our trust is in God" and "we need revival". Pietistic slogans are not Biblical manliness.

So, I repeat, what is "plan B"? When the mood changes from tolerating Christians to actively repressing them, what does your local church plan to do about it? And what is it doing now in preparation for that? Yes, it's preaching the gospel. Excellent. But, what is the application of that gospel to your current cultural context? Is the gospel actually preached when it is not applied at levels beyond the personal and individual? What about the cultural and institutional level? And given that God is a God of means and works through second causes, how do you see the lines joining up between your means and the production of a strong, confident generation of Christians who will pass on the faith and the institutions that nurture godly fruit to the generation after them?

And for bonus points: what is the reason why these questions are so rarely even posed?

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Free Pilgrim's Progress movie

This is well-made - . Some
scenes may be too intense for littler ones (e.g. the fight with Apollyon).

Saturday, 18 April 2020

If tomorrow never comes

Culturally, in our context where death is the great taboo, this is fascinating - a popular song, whose subject is death, and living life now and how we treat those we love in the light of our own coming death:

Adding to the poignancy is the fact that, in this version, the singer (who took the song to number one in several countries) subsequently fell into adultery and is now divorced from his wife of the time he was singing it.

Friday, 3 April 2020

561 deaths every single day

According to the news, in the last two days, 563 and 569 people died in UK hospitals whilst being infected with SARS-CoV-2, a.k.a. "coronavirus". News sites and newspapers splashed this as headline news.

This is very close to the 561 unborn children who, on average, lost their lives every day in the UK of the year (for 2018, the figures I found most easily) in the womb, largely because their existence was judged to be unwanted or inconvenient by one or both parents.

This did not make the news headlines at all, as far as I recall.

I read that NT Wright has recently written an article for the Times (which I have not looked for) broadly decrying anyone who suggests that God judges in history as "silly". But let's pose a thought experiment. Just pose a question for the sake of thinking it through, without saying that we know what God's purposes are in this, or any other specific event. Supposing that God decided to judge our nation for its never stopping shedding of its babies' blood ... how many of us would need to die each day for justice to be served? How many each day, and how many days should it go on for? How merciful is God continuing to be in granting so many of us long lives filled with years of peace and prosperity, whilst this unrelenting mill of innocent deaths has continued to grind?

I'm all for applauding those risking their lives in front-line service in the NHS to save others. But let's also weep tears and cry out in repentance to God for what else we, as a nation, do.

Friday, 6 March 2020

The incomparable Calvin

"This passage, I know, is explained otherwise by many; but I regard what
the Apostle means, not what others think." - commentary on 1 John 4:18

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

The year of our Lord 2020

Let this be our resolution in 2020: to "... walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory." - 1 Thessalonians 2:11.