Tag Archives: natural law

Retired bishop calls for Christian history teaching in British schools


With the Bishop of Rochester

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, with the Bishop of Rochester

From an article in a British Christian online magazine. Though I am always suspicious when someone starts talking about “Judeo-Christian values” (there’s a lot of slipperiness in this language), I like this guy ūüôā . Also, based on my own recent research into the origins of hospitals in the West, I have to agree with his statement (see below) that the nursing profession as we know it is Christian in origin. Finally, his examination of the origins of modern British systems of law and governance fascinate–I’ll be looking into the details of his narrative . . .

If school kids don’t learn more about Britain’s Judeo-Christian heritage we risk losing our national values, a bishop has warned.

The Rt Revd Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said: ‚ÄúThe Judaeo-Christian tradition provides the connecting link to ‚Äėour island story‚Äô‚ÄĚ.

Children should know about the role of Christians in abolishing the slave trade, caring for the sick and improving working conditions, the former Bishop of Rochester said in an article for Standpoint magazine. Continue reading

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C S Lewis as “medieval” moral philosopher


Cover of "The Abolition of Man"

C S Lewis was, I believe, “medieval” in the very warp and woof of his thought. To borrow from Wikipedia, b/c this morning I am lazy, and in this case Wikipedia is accurate:

Lewis then taught as a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, for nearly thirty years, from 1925 to 1954, and later was the first Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Using this position, he argued that there was no such thing as an English Renaissance. Much of his scholarly work concentrated on the later Middle Ages, especially its use of allegory. His The Allegory of Love (1936) helped reinvigorate the serious study of late medieval narratives like the Roman de la Rose. Lewis wrote several prefaces to old works of literature and poetry, like Layamon’s Brut. His book “A Preface to Paradise Lost” is still one of the most valuable criticisms of that work. His last academic work, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (1964), is a summary of the medieval world view, the “discarded image” of the cosmos in his title.

As I have explored in another post, Lewis was in tune with medieval thought as much in his philosophical and ethical thought as in his literary scholarship, his imaginative writings, or his Christian apologetics. Continue reading

C S Lewis and “medieval morality”


The following are some thoughts on how C S Lewis will figure as a ‚Äúguide‚ÄĚ into the look and feel of the ‚Äúmoral fabric of the Middle Ages,‚ÄĚ and how that fabric differs from our own. It‚Äôs basically me grinding away at the grist for this Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants book.

My argument in this chapter is not that Christianity‚ÄĒeither in the medieval period or any other period‚ÄĒhas taught some distinctive morality, or even that it taught that morality in a distinctive way (although it did, from the earliest years of the church, as Robert Louis Wilken persuasively argues in The Spirit of Early Christian Thought). Rather, my argument is that today, Protestants, especially evangelicals, have fallen so in love with Luther‚Äôs (Augustine‚Äôs) message of grace, and have so spiritualized their faith (I almost said Gnosticized, and sometimes I wonder) that questions of morality have receded from view. So we need to hear again from a time (the Middle Ages) when Christianity structured not only people’s worship, but also their moral lives. Continue reading

Marshall McLuhan: We must separate G. K. Chesterton’s moral insights from his Victorian literary medievalism


Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian Roman Catholic philosopher and literary critic who gave us ‚ÄėThe medium is the message‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúthe global village,‚ÄĚ had some penetrating things to say about G. K. Chesterton in the introduction to the little book Paradox in Chesterton, by Hugh Kenner (London: Sheed & Ward, 1948). I think he got Chesterton both very right and very wrong. Right in talking about Chesterton‚Äôs moral thought. Wrong in trying to separate that thought from various aspects of his literary imagination and literary style.

Basically, McLuhan thought we should all dump Chesterton the Victorian literary medievalist in favor of Chesterton the ‚Äúmaster of analogical perception and argument who never failed to focus a high degree of moral wisdom on the most confused issues of our age.‚ÄĚ[1]

This does not mean that McLuhan saw Chesterton as a systematic moral philosopher (which he certainly was not). McLuhan enjoined editors to produce, ‚Äúnot an anthology which preserves the Victorian flavor of his journalism by extensive quotation, but one of short excerpts which would permit the reader to feel Chesterton‚Äôs powerful intrusion into every kind of confused moral and psychological issue of our time.‚ÄĚ Why? Because ‚Äúhe seems never to have reached any position by dialectic or doctrine, but to have enjoyed a kind of connaturality with every kind of reasonableness.‚ÄĚ[2]

McLuhan is quite hard on Chesterton’s Victorian literary medievalism, as were many contemporary and later critics. He saw that frame of Chesterton’s work as derivative, low-quality, and not inherent to the great writer’s metaphysical-moral thought (his clear-sightedness into the many moral conundrums of his age, rooted in metaphysical insight):

‚ÄúSo very impressive is this metaphysical side of Chesterton that it is always embarrassing to encounter the Chesterton fan who is keen about The Ballad of the White Horse or the hyperbolic descriptive parts of Chesterton‚Äôs prose. In fact, it might be the kindest possible service to the essential Chesterton to decry all that part of him which derives so obviously from his time. Thus it is absurd to value Chesterton for that large and unassimilated heritage he got from [medievalist and all-round wacko] William Morris‚ÄĒthe big, epic dramaturgic gestures, riotous colour, medieval trappings, ballad themes and banal rhythms. Morris manages these things better than Chesterton ever did: and nobody wants to preserve William Morris.‚ÄĚ[3] Continue reading

Foundations of a free and virtuous society:


What follows are my sketchy notes on a session at Acton University yesterday, June 16, 2010. The presenter was Dr. Stephen J. Grabill. Dr. Grabill received his Ph.D. from Calvin Theological Seminary. He is a research scholar in theology and editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is the general editor of The Stewardship Resource Bible: ESV, which was released in November of 2009. He is the author of Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics and is currently editing Sourcebook of Late Scholastic Monetary Theory.

Foundations of a Free and Virtuous Society, Dr. Stephen J. Grabill

Christian social thought is distilled wisdom over the ages . . . Christian thought will be anti-revolutionary, as Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer and Kuyper used the term. The former offer titled a book Unbelief and Revolution. A Protestant Lord Acton. He thought false dichotomy between spiritual destiny and earthly _____. Thought Christians should see selves as the people God had called to shape history according to God’s ordinances. But saw conflicting religious visions at work. Autonomous vision of French Rev at odds w/ Christian vision. That vision couldn’t be carried on by preserving orthodox church in secularized world, but must be carried out in all departments of life. Continue reading

The Ten Commandments, How Deep Our Debt


Though the public display of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and government officials facing off over the Ten Commandments is long over, the legacy of the Decalogue in English jurisprudence and society carries on, as it has for hundreds of years:

The Ten Commandments, How Deep Our Debt
The words of the Decalogue run like a river through not only the church but also English and American history.
Chris Armstrong

No matter where they stand on Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s fight to keep his Ten Commandments monument on display at the Alabama Judicial Building, Americans agree that it is symbolic. But symbolic of what?

I will not try to prove Moore’s claim that the Decalogue is “the moral foundation of law in this nation.” But, without question, it is central to Jewish and Christian morality. And, also without question, it is deeply embedded in Western‚ÄĒespecially Anglo-American‚ÄĒculture. Continue reading