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May 2020

‘The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the most eminent people of past centuries.' - René Descartes* Reading great literature is like peering into a limitless reservoir of human experience, unlocking with each turn of the page ideas and perspectives that lend clarity to our own thoughts. We read to make sense of ourselves and others and, especially during a moment of global uncertainty and pandemic, we read to make sense of our unpredictable world. In this Christian Heritage webinar, Dr Chris Watkin (Senior Lecturer, French Studies, Monash University) and Kevin Moss (PhD Candidate in Intellectual History) discuss what we can learn from Albert Camus’ seminal work, The Plague, and especially how these lessons coalesce with a Christian worldview. For further reading and resources, please visit Chris' website here and Kevin's blog here.     *Discourse on Method and Related Writings...

To talk about a ‘Christian worldview’ today is to use an already well-worn phrase. Many of us are familiar, perhaps over-familiar, with the idea that Christianity can provide a lens through which to look out on the world and make sense of it. In Abraham Kuyper’s day, however, it was a concept which was far from obvious to Christians in the West. This was partly because many assumed that the Christian faith was in harmony with the mainstream thinking of the day. What need was there to develop a distinctly Christian worldview? Surely everyone had that, right? Kuyper begged to differ. Not only did he reject the idea that the worldview of Christianity and that of the age were the same: he believed they were on a collision course. For this reason, he began his six lectures on Calvinism sounding more like a war-time leader than a professor:  There is no doubt that Christianity is imperiled by great and serious dangers. Two life systems are wrestling with one another, in mortal combat. Modernism is bound to build a world of its own from the data of the natural man, and to construct man himself from the data of nature; while, on...

As part of the Understanding the Times series, Ian Cooper reflects on the reality behind the buzz-phrase ‘Cultural Marxism’. In our lunch discussions over recent months, we have been examining the bedrock of ideas and sentiments lying beneath our politically correct, secular culture. This background is often referred to as ‘Cultural Marxism’. Melvin Tinker’s little book, That Hideous Strength, and Roger Smith’s long Themelios article (44.3, 2019), have both been very helpful. Karl Marx was primarily interested in freedom, with equality as its precondition. The thought ran as follows: if others have more than you do, or are in control, you are not fully free. This meant that private property, along with all the institutions which supported it, had to go. These included marriage and the family, which were soon deemed outmoded and repressive structures, perpetuating inequality and bondage. The great hope then was that the progress of history, driven by technology and economics, would deliver true freedom and equality, with a little help from the revolutionaries. Oddly, things did not go according to plan, as Communism took off in ‘backward’, peasant societies like the USSR and China, rather than more advanced industrial ones like the UK and Germany, contradicting the Marxist...

Few figures of the modern period have shaped evangelical Christianity as profoundly as Abraham Kuyper. Despite this, his legacy is little-appreciated today, even in those circles where his ideas still exert great influence. In the evangelical household he seems to play the role of the mysterious great-uncle who has given the family a wonderful collection of furniture pieces: a great oak dresser, a set of grand bookcases and a couple of ripened armchairs, all of which shape the inside of the house and control its traffic-flow. Although we are vaguely aware that the furniture came from him, and couldn’t imagine the house without them, the details of his life and accomplishments remain fuzzy: after all, we never met him, and the stories about him have often come down to us through, ahem, some of the more ‘colourful’ members of the family. November 2020 marks a hundred years since Kuyper passed into glory, and we could do worse than to treat this centenary as an opportunity to get to know a man who, in fascinating ways, has shaped a tradition which itself continues to transform the world. As an aid in this quest, over the next three weeks we’ll be introducing what...