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As part of our Cambridge Characters series, Joshua Kellard introduces Beilby Porteus, sometime bishop of London, and vociferous opponent of the Slave Trade. The youngest but one of 19 children, Beilby Porteus grew up in relative wealth and privilege. His parents were natives of the colony of Virginia, and owned a vast tobacco-growing plantation, worked by African slaves. By the time Beilby was born, the family had relocated to York. In those days, Cambridge had something of a reputation for drawing scholars from the northern counties and, aged 17, Beilby was admitted as a sizar (i.e. a student who worked in order to pay tuition fees) of Christ’s College. The 17th Century was marked by intellectual rebellion against Christianity. As the breakers of the European Enlightenment pounded on English shores, and the tide of unbelief swept into the universities, many students found it difficult to stay afloat. Porteus, however, emerged from his studies strong in conviction, was ordained to the ministry, and proceeded to a string of fulfilling church appointments, including Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, bishop of Chester and bishop of London.  Two aspects of his ministry as bishop deserve special mention: his pioneering involvement in the movement to abolish...

Barbarism rarely reveals a bare face. It finds room in our hearts under the generous cover of  ‘modern values’, it spreads with the aid of euphemisms and half-truths, and it covers its tracks with the conscience-numbing virtue of non-judgementalism. But barbarism is with us: quiet, determined, and just occasionally splashed across the opinion pages of national newspapers.   I’m referring here to Rebecca Reid’s defence of the killing of unborn children for any reason whatsoever in the Telegraph last month. The background was the UK Government’s unprecedented move to allow women to obtain pills which would kill their unborn child without the need for an in-person medical consultation. The ‘pills-by-post’ scheme enables women to obtain mifepristone and misoprostol, the two chemical agents used in so-called medical abortions, and to self-administer them at home if they are less than 10 weeks pregnant.  In her article, Reid responded to news that Christian Concern had hired actors to make ‘mystery shopper’ type calls to abortion providers Marie Stopes and Bpas in order to gauge the kinds of reasons for which women were being sent the means to abort. The callers used false names, dates of birth and gestational periods and were, without exception, able to obtain...

A kerfuffle was precipitated this week when it emerged that Chloe Clark, an English professor at Iowa State University, had threatened to dismiss students from her classroom for voicing views contrary to her own on gay marriage, abortion, and the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM). This is what her initial syllabus notes for English 250 stipulated:  “GIANT WARNING: any instances of othering that you participate in intentionally (racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, sorophobia, transphobia, classism, mocking of mental health issues, body shaming, etc) in class are grounds for dismissal from the classroom. The same goes for any papers/projects: you cannot choose any topic that takes at its base that one side doesn’t deserve the same basic human rights as you do (ie: no arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter, etc). I take this seriously.” It is, to be sure, a demand for intellectual subjugation far more frank than the usual indirect fare offered in the humanities. The statement also quite plainly contradicts its own call to forsake ‘othering’ as it effectively marginalises and censures any student wishing to express dissident views. To its credit Iowa State University quickly addressed the situation in line with its code on the First Amendment’s provisions...

Kevin Moss is a Christian Heritage trustee and PhD candidate in intellectual history. Earlier this month, I wrote a short piece about the toxic impact of ‘cancel culture’, especially as it is impacting upon higher education.  It is worth noting that the introduction of reductionist ideologies within the secondary school system means that we are churning out undergraduates who are ill-equipped to cope with the free intellectual environment that hitherto characterised our Universities.  Analogically,  ‘Foot-binding‘ was a historical and disfiguring practice conducted in China, only finally abolished in the early 20th century: its victims were no longer able to walk naturally and freely.  It is quite likely that the shackles of reductionism may have a similarly constraining impact upon intellectual development, but labelling academic freedom as the ‘problem’ misses the point by a wide mile.  Academic freedom can only be a ‘problem’ to students who are suffering from a societally-induced pathology, disabling the exercise of critical faculties, and subverting the capacity to tolerate opinions other than their own. Of course, those who have the greatest interest in fostering or supporting cancel culture are the same people most likely to deny that it exists.  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago documents the painstaking lengths to which the Soviet...

In this webinar, and in the wake of the UK government's imposition of radical abortion on Northern Ireland, we talk to Philippa Taylor (CARE) and Dawn McAvoy (Both Lives Matter) about what a Christian response to the culture of abortion looks like.   ...

Kevin Moss is a Christian Heritage trustee and PhD candidate in intellectual history. ‘Cancel Culture’ may not be new, but it’s suddenly gone mainstream.  Perhaps it’s a secondary symptom of the COVID-19 virus. It seems that those who are doing the ‘cancelling’ are keen that our awareness of what is going on needs drastically paring back.  Colin Wright, an evolutionary biologist, has written at quite some length, in order to document his own experience at the hands of the mobs who seem to control social media.  The irony here is that scientists who are Christians have, for many years, found themselves ‘cancelled’ (or existed under the threat thereof) for any public dissent from the presuppositional naturalism which has been used to weaponise the biological sciences against the very (theistic) worldview which gave rise to them.  Suddenly, those of atheistic or agnostic persuasion, are discovering that this toxic ideology has quietly morphed into something that is far more dangerous to Western intellectual culture, and has the capacity to bring the whole house of cards down. Well, evolution’s a bit like that. Of course the intellectual viability of the scientific project was always wholly dependent on its theistic foundations.  To mix my metaphors;  since Darwin, the...

Kevin Moss is a Christian Heritage trustee and PhD candidate in intellectual history. Like most organisations, the implications of some kind of post-COVID-19 reboot for a charity I support are enormous.  Running a visitor centre, where people have the temerity to move about, requires immensely detailed precautionary measures.  Visitors have the right to feel safe, but so do our staff, and therefore how does one introduce sufficient structure and control to limit undesirable social contact, when the whole point of the exercise is to welcome people and interact positively, constructively with them?  That’s not going to happen whilst wearing hazmat suits, or by steadfastly hiding behind polycarbonate screens, or by spraying anti-viral agents on anything that has a pulse. And so, we plan, we plan . . . The precise content of new instructional signage.  The location of the automatic hand-sanitiser dispenser.  The types of masks to be stocked, and who gets to wear them.  How we get people in and out of the Visitor Centre through the same door, whilst at the same time minimising contact.  How we manage movement around an open, round, internal space.  How we deploy new signage or barriers without at the same time completely vandalising the unique experience...

Today is a day of national tragedy, made all the more poignant by the fact that few will regard it as such. This afternoon Members of Parliament in Westminster voted 253 to 136 to impose radical new abortion laws on Northern Ireland. These regulations will make abortion on-demand available until 24 weeks of gestation, allow the killing of disabled babies up to birth, and provide scant safeguards against sex-selective abortion, and no conscience clauses for medical practitioners unwilling to be accessories in the deaths of pre-born children. The law in Northern Ireland will no longer teach and protect the value of all human lives, provide a safeguard for women who may be confused, overwhelmed or pressured into having an abortion, or serve as an official affirmation of the equality of disabled children in the womb. The law has become anti-life.  Until now, Northern Ireland has been a life-affirming province. Precisely because it did not adopt the 1967 Abortion Act, an act which has led to the deaths of over 9 million unborn children in England and Wales alone, it has maintained a commitment to the value and dignity of each individual human being from the moment of conception. Northern Ireland’s legal...

The title Abraham Kuyper gave to his third Stone lecture, Calvinism and Politics, could be misleading. While he did have much to say about politics, he emphasised that political authority was just one ingredient in the governance of a healthy society. His key concept, you will remember, was sovereignty. We saw in our first post that Calvinism’s ‘dangerous idea’, according to Kuyper, is the sovereignty of God over all things. This sovereignty is delegated and expressed in various ways in His creation. Kuyper’s second lecture looked at how God’s sovereignty transforms religion, and in the third he explored how it was expressed in human society as a whole. Kuyper wanted to show that it was only the Calvinist who could consistently preserve a healthy tension between the state's desire to order human life, and the determination of people everywhere to maintain their liberties and flourish in the different spheres of free society.  Two key insights guide Kuyper's approach to society: first, the belief that since all authority comes from God, any power possessed by human beings is held ‘in trust’. Second, the observation that there are different types of sovereignty, which belong to distinct spheres of human society. The family is...

In today's guest post, Kevin Moss, Christian Heritage trustee and PhD candidate in intellectual history, sheds light on the threat posed by a largely unchecked culture of death. It’s never very far away, that opportunistic nihilism, venturing forth under cover of COVID-19 in order to bulk up its trophy-bag.  Whilst the NHS and even the Government, are beavering away to save as many lives as possible, it is odd to think that there are organisations that exemplify radically different ideological commitments.  BPAS, one of the biggest providers of abortion services in the UK, has (according to media reports) been agitating for perhaps the biggest liberalisation in the regime, since 1967.  And, very likely they’ll succeed, given that our attention is quite naturally focused on sustaining and protecting life, rather than snuffing it out. And, last Saturday, as I opened the little plastic bag that contained my weekend newspaper supplement, what should drop out, but a flyer promoting the services of ‘Dignity in Dying’ (DID), the ultimate expression of cultural nihilism.  The usual pampered celebs looked earnestly out of the leaflet, attempting to convince us that, only through the administration of a lethal cocktail of barbiturate and anti-emetic, we may have any hope...