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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...

Joshua Kellard continues our series introducing Abraham Kuyper’s influential 1898 Stone Lectures on Calvinism. Abraham Kuyper, as we saw in the last post, had an expansive view of what Calvinism was meant to be. Far more than a set of beliefs about salvation, it was a total worldview of its own, standing tall and providing compelling answers to life’s deepest questions. At the centre was its ‘mother principle’: the sovereignty of God over all things. Working from this axiom, it addressed every area of life with a God-centred program for renewal. A skilled vision-caster, Kuyper would use the rest of his Stone lectures to demonstrate the real difference that Calvinism could make in each area of life, and he began, quite understandably, with religion.  In his second lecture, Kuyper set out to answer three basic questions:  - What difference does Calvinism make in the sphere of religion?  - What sort of Church organisation is encouraged by applying Calvinism?  - How does Calvinism transform morality?  We will briefly summarise Kuyper’s answers to these questions, thinking as we go about their relevance to us today.  Religion: Of God, by God and For God  Is religion primarily for people or for God? When Kuyper posed this question, Karl Marx had recently...

‘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...

On behalf of the Christian Heritage team, I want to extend a warm welcome to Thinking in the Round, our new blog! Although we have done many things over the years, we have yet to venture into cyberspace in quite this way, and there is a mood of excitement in the air at CH HQ. Let me offer a few words of introduction to who we are, what we do and why we do it, and then lay out our hopes for this blog. Christian Heritage has been based at the Round Church in Cambridge since the mid-1990s, and our initial focus was offering guided walks of Cambridge, with a view to telling the story of the transformative influence of Christianity on this university town. We still offer walks (three different varieties, in fact!) but since then have expanded our work to include exhibitions at the Round Church, termly lectures on Christianity and culture, and regular lunch conversations in our Scriptorium (writing room). We have also run events, summer schools and apprenticeship programs all geared towards relating the historic Christian faith to key questions our culture is asking. Our desire is to show that Christianity, far from being an outmoded and culture-bound...