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).

Monday, 30 June 2014

Deep Church Rising—coming soon

Cascade Books and SPCK will be publishing Deep Church Rising on 17th July. It is a book written by Professor Andrew Walker of King's College London and myself. More info in the coming weeks.

So, in anticipation, here are the endorsements from the back cover:

“We don’t become either human or holy without the nurture and wisdom of others; this book helps us make contact with those others so that we can indeed grow in humanity, sanctity, and discernment as we need to.”
Lord Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

“This is a powerful and persuasive call to the churches to ground themselves in the Christian tradition, and retrieve its riches. An essential antidote to the shallow theology of technique-based approaches to mission.”
Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, University of Oxford

“This book, written with punctilious scholarship, vast scope, fidelity to history, and, perhaps above all, with great gracefulness, calls the churches to a sober scrutiny of themselves, and, perhaps thence, to fundamental reflection on what the church is. I am immensely taken with this book.”
Thomas Howard, author of On Being Catholic and other books

“This book is essential reading for all who care about the future of the church in the West. It represents years of seasoned research; it is written in a clean, accessible style; and its central claims and insights are exactly on target. Read it and be challenged and refreshed in mind and soul.”
William J. Abraham, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

“Deep Church is a deep book, intrepidly and winsomely demonstrating the ongoing viability of orthodoxy.”
Rodney Clapp, author of Tortured Wonders: Christian Spirituality for People, Not Angels and other books

“‘Memory can be the life-giving path to the future, and in this book the Christian church is encouraged to recover its deep memories, not so that we can look back with nostalgia to a by-gone age, but so that we move forward with renewed confidence and depth.”
Jane Williams, Lecturer, St Mellitus College, London

Friday, 13 June 2014

RAP on The limited atonement rap

I love Shai Linne — Christian rapper extraordinaire. His rap is my kind of rap.

I love that he raps solidly theological stuff — no fluffy stuff here! And I love that he pulls no punches. I also love that his rap is rap offered in worship, not simply as intellectual data.

Sadly, he is a hardline Calvinist. This comes acrosss in lots of his songs, but perhaps nowhere clearer than in this one:

I actually agree with a lot of the theology in this. All it needs is to be mixed with the theology that "God is love" (see my previous post) and SHAZAM! — a case for universalism! Alas, Shai Linne does not consider this possibility (presumably because he considers it so far off the radar that it is not even worth consideration), and so ends up teaching the view that Christ only died for some people. He describes this view as controversial. That's an understatement!

The view certainly faces tricky challenges. For instance, it is inconsistent with the prima facie teaching of Scripture. Now that does not, of itself, make the view unbiblical. Defenders of the doctrine would argue that when the problem texts are read in the context of the canon they can be interpreted in ways that are compatible with limited atonement. I don't think that they can, but I can respect those who make the attempt to do so. There is nothing wrong with trying if one things that there are good biblical reasons for affirming the doctrine. Nevertheless, it is a problem, and it is a key reason why many Calvinists are four-point Calvinists.

It also faces the challenge that it is inconsistent with the claim that "God is love" (see my previous post). This is an even harder challenge for the defenders of limited atonement. There are attempts to reply to it, but none that I have seen come close to being adequate, and it is hard to imagine how they could do. The problem is that God's sovereignty and glory is made to look like God's sovereign right to fall short of being God. You'll have to excuse me for not finding this a theologically tempting avenue to explore.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The imperfect God of classical Calvinism

One thing has always perplexed me about classical Calvinism — it so strongly insists on God's perfection (I love that theme within the Reformed tradition) and yet it simultaneously insists on a God who is, despite their protests to the contrary, less than perfect. This is not a new criticism, but it bears repeating.

Anselm insisted that God is "that than which nothing greater can be conceived." But it seems that, in Christian terms, it is easy to conceive of a God greater than the God of classical Calvinism.

Consider: for Christian theology "God is love." Which, at very least, means that in his very essence God is love. He is not loving by some happy accident but by virtue of being who he is.

Now, if you love someone you desire the best for them. Not necessarily what they think is best for them, but what is actually best for them. So if God loves someone then God will desire what is actually best for them. In a Christian view of things, what is actually best for human creatures is for them to be united with God in eschatological glory. That is the fulfillment of the human telos.

Further, if God is loving in his very essence then God cannot not love his creatures without ceasing to be the God that he is — which is, of course, impossible.

So if God is love in his very essence then he must love all his creatures and must desire to actualize what is best for them. For humans that entails a desire to unite them to himself in glory (which, given sin, requires that he desire to save them from sin).

The Calvinist God, however, does not desire to unite all humans to himself in glory, and thus does not desire to save them all from sin. This can only be because he does not love them enough to desire what is best for them. He may love them somewhat (offering them common grace), but not perfectly (refusing them saving grace).

But surely, if love is a divine perfection then loving all creatures perfectly is greater than loving only some creatures perfectly. God's not loving some creatures would be God falling short of his very being — impossible. Yet the Calvinist says that God only loves some creatures perfectly. I can imagine something greater than that. Imagining something greater than God is impossible. So the Calvinist vision of God is, in Christian terms, impossible, because it falls short of divine perfection.

At least, that is how things appear to me.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Free Randal Rauser book on heaven (today only)

Baker is running a promotion for the Kindle version of Randal Rauser's new book, What on Earth Do We Know About Heaven? 20 Questions and Answers about Life after Death.

It’s scheduled to be free at Amazon.com on June 5, and then $3.99 from June 6-12.

The promo is also running at amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk.

Check out these blurbs on the book:

"Rauser's book is the most important work on heaven in the last two millennia."

-Paul the Apostle-

"I must admit, I used to think I had heaven figured out. But What on Earth Do We Know About Heaven? has completely revolutionized my view of heaven. I'm picking up a copy for all the archangels."

-Michael the Archangel-

You've got to love him! I wish I could get endorsements like that.

Here is the blurb from Amazon
There's been a curious upsurge in interest about the afterlife lately, but we're too often limited in our concept of heaven. The reality is we all do have questions about heaven: What does a resurrected person look like? What does a resurrected earth look like? Do we get our heart's desire in heaven? In What on Earth Do We Know about Heaven?, Randal Rauser considers twenty thought-provoking questions, each of which winds back to the core concept of heaven: what it is and what it isn't. Rauser uses Scripture to remind us that God's ultimate purpose is that the whole creation will be transformed and renewed, guiding readers through a vision of a glorious afterlife, consisting of a perfected earth, perfected bodies, perfected human culture, and perfected relationships.

Monday, 2 June 2014

UK Conference on Preaching (July 2014)

OK preachers, listen up! Here is some information on what looks to be a great conference in Guildford, at Millmead Baptist Church.

A day conference (9:30am – 4:30pm) on 19 July, entitled


It is hosted by Ian Stackhouse, the minister at Millmead Baptist Church. Ian is a good bloke and a modern-day pastor-theologian after the fashion of P. T. Forsyth.

The keynote speaker is Dave Hansen, pastor and author.

Here is some info.

You can download a PDF version of this flyer here.

There will also be a book launch for a new book on preaching edited by Ian Stackhouse and Oliver D. Crisp, entitled Text Message: The Centrality of Scripture in Preaching. I have read the book and it contains some really excellent, thought-provoking chapters. More info here. Copies of the book will be available at a special price.