About Me

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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Friday, 24 September 2010

"All Shall Be Well" - cover and blurb

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Lady Julian of Norwich

Universalism runs like a slender thread through the history of Christian theology. It has always been a minority report and has often been regarded as heresy, but it has proven to be a surprisingly resilient “idea.” Over the centuries Christian universalism, in one form or another, has been reinvented time and time again.

In this book an international team of scholars explore the diverse universalisms of Christian thinkers from the Origen to Moltmann. In the introduction Gregory MacDonald argues that theologies of universal salvation occupy a space between heresy and dogma. Therefore disagreements about whether all will be saved should not be thought of as debates between “the orthodox” and “heretics” but rather as “in-house” debates between Christians.

The studies that follow aim, in the first instance, to hear, understand, and explain the eschatological claims of a range of Christians from the third to the twenty-first centuries. They also offer some constructive, critical engagement with those claims.

• Origen (Tom Greggs)
• Gregory of Nyssa (Steve Harmon)
• Julian of Norwich (Robert Sweetman)
• The Cambridge Platonists (Louise Hickman)
• James Relly (Wayne K. Clymer)
• Elhanan Winchester (Robin Parry)
• Friedrich Schliermacher (Murray Rae)
• Thomas Erskine (Don Horrocks)
• George MacDonald (Thomas Talbott)
• P. T. Forsyth (Jason Goroncy)
• Sergius Bulgakov (Paul Gavrilyuk)
• Karl Barth (Oliver Crisp)
• Jaques Ellul (Andrew Goddard)
• J. A. T. Robinson (Trevor Hart)
• Hans Urs von Balthasar (Edward T. Oakes, SJ)
• John Hick (Lindsay Hall)
• Jürgen Moltmann (Nik Ansell)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A nibble from my new Lamentations commentary

My contention is that these biblical-theological connections [which you'll have to read the book to find out about] create a framework for some fruitful, imaginative, Christian re-appropriation of Lamentations. Lamentations concerns the devastation of the exilic experience from the perspective of those who have been left behind. It is the Holy Saturday of Israel’s life caught between exilic death at the hands of Babylon and the desperate hope for resurrection. The future exile of Israel was seen by Leviticus as an enforced Sabbath rest for the land because Israel had neglected to observe the Sabbaths (Lev 26:34-35). So it is that Christ’s death on Good Friday is followed by the ‘exilic’, Sabbath rest of Holy Saturday. The framework outlined above allows a Christian reader to connect the suffering of Lamentations with the sufferings of humanity more generally and, in accord with the Rule of Faith, with the sufferings of Christ in particular. Locating the tears of Lamentations in these inter-canonical flows allows us to read the tears of the world through the tears of Lamentations and vice versa. It also invites us to read Lamentations in the light of the cross and the cross in the light of Lamentations. The connections between Christ’s suffering and that of the Church would also help us to connect Lamentations to the plight of suffering Christians across the globe. The potential for fresh insight emerging from such imaginative theological engagements with the text is immense and very open-ended. Such engagements would be guided by a biblical theology which emerges from various texts in Scripture but the possibilities for fresh interpretations, even within this Christian framework, are vast.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Richard of St Victor on the Spirit's work in humanity

Whilst I am at it I was drawn by this quote from Richard of St Victor:
what is the Holy Spirit’s gift or mission if not that of infusing due love? The Holy Spirit, then, is given by God to man when due love residing in the divinity is inspired into the human soul. In fact, when this Spirit enters the rational soul, he inflames its sentiments with divine ardour and transforms it by communicating to it a character similar to his own, in order [to enable] it to express back to its own Creator the love it owes him.
Actually, what is the Holy Spirit if not a divine fire? After all, every love is a fire, though a spiritual fire. That which material fire does with iron, this fire of which we are talking does with a sordid, icy and hard heart. In fact, as soon as this fire enters, the human soul gradually puts away every darkness, every coolness, every hardness, and it becomes similar in every way to him by whom it is inflamed. By the effect of the flame of divine fire, [the human soul] burns up everything, blazes and is melted in God’s love, according to the apostle’s words: God’s charity has been infused in our hearts by the Holy Spirit’s work who has been given to us.

De Trinitate, Book 6. XIV

Richard of St Victor on male Trinity-talk

What do you think of this comment from Richard of St Victor (d. 1173)
We must observe that there are two [different] sexes in the human nature, and for this reason, the terms defining relationship are different according to the difference of sexes. We call whomever is a parent either “father” or “mother” [according to their] sex. In case of progeny, [we say] in one case “sons” and in another “daughters.” In the divine nature, instead, as we all know, there is absolutely no sex. It was convenient, then, to associate the terms referring to the more worthy sex—as it is recognized—to the most worthy being in the universe. This is the reason why the custom of indicating one as Father and one as Son in the Trinity has suitably come into habit.
De Trinitate, Book 6.IV (translated by Ruben Angelici)

Given that westerners no longer think of men as "the more worthy sex" does this have implications for God-talk? Perhaps it does if this is the only reason for "Father" and "Son" language. But, if it is not, then . . .

Monday, 13 September 2010

Lamentations commentary is now available

I have not seen a copy yet but I have noticed that the Eerdmans website is listing my Lamentations commentary as "in stock" so you can now buy it in the USA and will soon be able to buy it in the UK.

I think I may post a few little bits from it as "tasters" but, for now, I will simply put the front cover up again.

Here is the blurb I wrote (not sure what the actual blurb says):

How can Lamentations function as Christian scripture?

Traditional scholarly commentaries aspire to open up biblical texts in the light of their ancient social and cultural contexts. Parry’s commentary seeks to take the insights of such works seriously but to move far beyond them by considering Lamentations within ever-expanding canonical and contemporary contexts. How do the words of Lamentations resonate when read in the context of Jeremiah? of Isaiah 40-55? of the New Testament? of the Rule of Faith? of the history of Christian anti-Semitism? and of the sufferings of victims today?

The question at the heart of this unusual engagement with the text is, “How can Lamentations function as Christian scripture?” Parry argues that the key to answering this question is to follow the ancient liturgical tradition of the Church and to see the text in the light of the death and resurrection of Israel’s Messiah—Jesus. Lamentations, he argues, is Israel’s Holy Saturday literature—the cries of those caught between the death of Jerusalem and its resurrection. As such Christians are able to make connections between this anguished Israelite poetry, the sufferings of Jesus, and the sufferings of the world. These biblical-theological links have the potential to open up fresh and imaginative theological, doxological, and pastoral encounters with a sadly neglected biblical book.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Bruce Cockburn: "Burden of the Angel/Beast"

Pascal on the Paradox of Humanity

What sort of freak then is man! How novel, how monstrous, how chaotic, how paradoxical, how prodigious! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sink of doubt and error, the glory and refuse of the universe!

Blaise Pascal, Pensées. Trans. A. J. Krailsheimer. New York: Penguin, 1995, 34

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Question on Psalm 8

I was reading Psalm 8 in my devotional time this morning and something stuck me.

8:5–6 are usually translated something like the following
You have made him [man] a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honour

You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet

What struck me this morning (reading the Hebrew) was that the tenses appear to work as follows:
You made him a little less than the heavenly beings
with glory and splendor you will crown him.
You will cause him to rule over all the works of your hands;
all that you put under his feet

Now this may simply be poetic language but I did wonder if Psalm 8 was making a distinction between God's glorious and purposeful creation of humanity (in the past) and the future realisation of those purposes.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Random thought on authorship of texts like 1 Enoch

OK—this is just a random thought based on no research.

I have long been puzzled about the authorship claims of psuedonomous apocalyptic texts. Take 1 Enoch. It claims to be accounts of the heavenly visions of Enoch (who lived before Noah). The author speaks as Enoch but NOBODY thinks that Enoch wrote the texts. It was a Second Temple text.

So, the puzzle is this: surely the author knew that he was not actually Enoch! And yet the claim that he was consciously lying and attempting to deceive his audience does not wash with me.

So what's going on?

Here's my random thought. There is evidence that some Jews in this period believed that it was possible to be possessed by the spirit of a dead person (why else, after all, might some people think that Jesus was John the Baptist—that could not be about reincarnation but spirit-possession).

Now, contrary to the claims of some scholars, it seems to me that profound religious experiences underlie apocalyptic texts (which is what the texts claim) so perhaps the author of the book believed himself to be possessed by the spirit of Enoch and that he was recording Enoch's actual experiences.

That would explain how he could make what seem to be obviously false claims (i.e. to be Enoch) without any attempt to deceive.

I am now expecting lots of people to say, "Sure! Everyone knows that! You are slow on the uptake." I probably am slow but it never really occurred to me before.

I guess that what I ought to do is to go and research the issue and come to a considered opinion . . . but life is too short.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

"All Shall Be Well" edited by Gregory MacDonald

For those of you interested in historical theology or universalism there is a forthcoming book that may appeal to you.

Gregory MacDonald (ed.), "All Shall Be Well": Explorations in Universalism and Christian Theology, from Origen to Moltmann. Eugene: Cascade Books, 2010.

Here is the contents page

1. Introduction: Between Heresy and Dogma—Gregory MacDonald

I. Third to Fifteenth Centuries
2. Apokatastasis: Particularist Universalism in Origen (c.185–c.254)—Tom Greggs
3. The Subjection of All Things in Christ: The Christocentric Universalism in Gregory of Nyssa (331/340–c.395)—Steve Harmon
4. Sin has its Place, But All Shall Be Well: The Universalism of Hope in Julian of Norwich (c.1342–c.1416)—Robert Sweetman

II. Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries
5. Love is all and God is Love: Universalism in Peter Sterry (1613–1672) and Jeremiah White (1630–1707)—Louise Hickman
6. Union with Christ: The Calvinist Universalism of James Relly (1722–1778)—Wayne K. Clymer
7. Between Calvinism and Arminianism: The Evangelical Universalism of Elhanan Winchester (1751–1797)—Robin Parry
8. Salvation-in-Community: The Tentative Universalism of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834)—Murray Rae
9. Postmortem Education: Universal Salvation in Thomas Erskine (1788–1870)—Don Horrocks
10. The Just Mercy of God: Universal Salvation in George MacDonald (1824–1905)—Thomas Talbott

III. Twentieth Century
11. The Final Sanity is Complete Sanctity: Universal Holiness in the Soteriology of P. T. Forsyth (1848–1921)—Jason Goroncy
12. The Judgment of Love: The Ontological Universalism of Sergius Bulgakov (1871–1944)—Paul Gavrilyuk
13. I do teach it, but I also do not teach it: The Universalism of Karl Barth (1886–1968)—Oliver Crisp
14. The Totality of Condemnation Fell on Christ: Universal Salvation in Jaques Ellul (1912–1994)—Andrew Goddard
15. In the End, God . . . :The Christian Universalism of J. A. T. Robinson (1919–1983)—Trevor Hart
16. Christ’s Descent into Hell: The Hopeful Universalism of Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905–1988)—Edward T. Oakes, SJ
17. Hell and the God of Love: Universalism in the Philosophy of John Hick (1922–)—Lindsay Hall
18. The Annihilation of Hell and the Perfection of Freedom: Universal Salvation in the Theology of Jürgen Moltmann (1926–)—Nik Ansell

I am hopeful that the book will be out in November. All that I can say is that it realy is an excellent book! (Shameless plug!)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Biblical Inerrancy—A Shibboleth

This is a really good comment on biblical inerrancy from Roger Olson. Worth reading.