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).

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

"The Biblical Cosmos" video promo

My youngest daughter Jess has very kindly created a short video promo for my latest book, The Biblical Cosmos. Thanks to Ellison for doing the voiceover.

The book is available from Wipf and Stock (for $21.60) or Amazon.com ($23.44)/Amazon.co.uk (£13.22) or anywhere worthy.


You can read a free sample of it here.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas in universalist perspective—an Advent podast

The guys at Nomad Podcast asked if I'd record some thoughts on Christmas from a Christian universalist perspective. Must confess, my first thought was "Yikes! I don't have anything to say!" But then I thought, "well, why not!" So I did it. You can hear the recording here.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Eriugena on God's garments

Following my post on creation as God's garments, here is something from John Scotus Eriugena (823–877).
Indeed, the garment of the Word is visible creation, which preaches Him openly and manifests His beauty to us. The Holy Scriptures have also been made His garment, which contains the mysteries. 
(Commentarius in Sanctum Evangelium secundum Johannem I, xxix)

Eriugena distinguishes between the Incarnation of the Logos (Word) in Jesus, "by which He joined human nature to Himself in a unity of substance" and the quasi-incarnation of the Logos by which He is "rendered thick" and "visible" in both creation and Scripture.

So the Logos is "incarnate"

  • in creation, 
  • in Scripture, 
  • but most supremely in Jesus. 

For Eriugena, in order to stress the uniqueness of Jesus, the word "incarnation" is reserved for the final mode. The other modes are quasi incarnatum. (Eriugena also rightly consider the deification of human beings in the eschaton to be a quasi-incarnation of the Logos.)

Still, again we find this interesting metaphor of God revealed indirectly in the shape of his garments. So the garment image predates Thomas Carlyle. Indeed, I think  that it predates Eriugena, who was commenting on Maximus the Confessor. I'll need to check that out.

Arminians and Calvinists "battle" over Christmas carol

Christian philosopher and Arminian theologian Jerry Walls has rewritten a certain well-known carol to enable Calvinists to sing it without the stress of mental reservations. Here is Jerry's version.

Joy to the chosen! their Lord has come;
Let them receive their King;
Only their hearts prepare him room
For the others cannot sing
For the others cannot sing
For the others, the others cannot sing.

Note to the world: the Sovereign reigns
And men he does employ
Like fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Controls them as his toys
Controls them as his toys
Controls them, controls them as his toys!

So long let sin and sorrows grow
As murderers shall kill;
For he ordaineth everything
By his secret, hidden will
By his secret, hidden will
By his secret, his secret hidden will.

He rules the world by sovereign might
And makes the nations prove
The glories of omnipotence
And wonders of his wrath
And wonders of his wrath
And wonder, and wonder how this is love. 

Ho ho ho.

Jason Huff, a pastor from Greenwood, Indiana, has responded with a Calvinist rewrite for Arminians. Here is Jason's hymn.

Joy to the world . . . the Western world
The rest? Eh . . . not so much.
‘Cause everybody here
Gets several times to hear
But not those in Nepal
Because we dropped the ball
Our free will has stopped God from coming near.

Joy to the ones who get to choose
The Prime Directive states
To interfere
With free will is not dear
In fact, it’s really mean
For God to intervene
Except when we really, really want Him to.

Joy to the world, the choice is yours
God waits and waits and waits
He cannot do a thing
A puppet on a string
Until you make the call
Then He’ll give you it all
Unless you waver, then all bets are off.

Maybe each side has thoughtful points
Perhaps some truth to both
We do not understand
All bits of our God’s plan
Let’s not tie all our fate
To cantankerous debate
Join hands over Christ’s birth and celebrate!

Very funny.

I suggest that we draw from the insights of both and just stick with the universalist version:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come

Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing 

Joy to the world! The Saviour reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy 

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make
His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders and wonders of His love

Friday, 12 December 2014

Creation as the "living garment of God"

“Or what is Nature? Ha! Why do I not name thee God? Art not thou the ‘Garment of the Living God’? O Heavens, is it, in very deed, He, then, that ever speaks through thee; that lives and loves in thee, that lives and loves in me?” 
Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Restartus (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1893), p. 130.
In “The Knowledge of God the Creator” (Institutes I.V.1), Calvin offers the following comment on Psalm 104:
Therefore the prophet very aptly exclaims that he is "clad with light as with a garment" [Ps. 104: 2 p.]. It is as if he said: Thereafter the Lord began to show himself in the visible splendor of his apparel, ever since in the creation of the universe he brought forth those insignia whereby he shows his glory to us, whenever and wherever we cast our gaze."
Thanks to Thomas Hastings for these quotations (both taken from his excellent study on the twentieth-century Japanese evangelist and social reformer Kagawa Toyohiko—Pickwick, forthcoming). Here is Kagawa himself:
[S]omeone may ask this question: Are God and the universe one? And are God and human beings one? Pantheism takes that stand. But I am not a pantheist. I am an advocate of the Holy Spirit. No, beyond that I am one who rejoices in the Spirit-filled life.  
Is the child living in the womb identical to the mother? Although conceived in the mother, the child is a different person from the mother. The mother transcends the child. Still, the child is living in the mother. And the child comes from the mother. In like manner, the absolute God transcends human beings while embracing human beings, and human beings are created by God. 
We can think of the relation of God and the universe in the same way. The material world is not itself God. But God transcends it, dwells in it, and through it manifests himself. I wonder if it is not most appropriate to think of the material world as the garment of God.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Christmas carol rap song (God rest ye merry gentlemen)

I must confess—I think that this is good.
I am a bit of a sucker for rap (must be my name)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Gregory of Nyssa on 1 Corinthians 15:28

I recently read Gregory of Nyssa's In Illud: Tunc et Ipse Filius. It is a short but fascinating piece on 1 Corinthians 15:28.

“Then the Son will be subjected to him who has subjected all things to himself.”

This was a text that some were using to argue that the Son cannot be equal in divinity to the Father, because he will be subjected to the Father.

Gregory's response, following Origen, is that the Son here is submitting to the Father as a human being; indeed, as the representative human being. As such, his submission to the Father is a submission to God on behalf of all humanity, nay, all creation. Creation submits in Christ's own submission. And so, when creation is subjected in Christ, God will be all in all.

I think that this is exactly right—not simply as a quirky-but-interesting later spin on the text. I think it is what Paul is getting at. 

Given that, it is perhaps not surprising that 1 Corinthians 15:28 was the most commonly appealed to text among the early Christian defenders of apokatastasis