King's Evangelical Divinity School

27 August 2010

Israel and the Church: A Common Heritage and Uncertain Future (8-9 Oct, London)

King’s Evangelical Divinity School and Chosen People Ministries are jointly hosting the above conference at the London School of Theology on 8-9 October 2010. Speakers are Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary), Mitch Glaser (Chosen People Ministries), Jules Gomes (London School of Theology), Richard Harvey (All Nations College), Barry Horner (author of Future Israel) and Calvin Smith (King’s Evangelical Divinity School). Full details of the conference, including programme, paper titles, speaker details and booking options, are now available on the King’s website. The conference also includes a meal on the Friday night and a concert scheduled for Saturday evening.

Don’t miss this opportunity to attend a conference exploring an increasingly polarising issue within Evangelical circles, together with its theological and missional impact, by speakers who between them have written and spoken widely on various aspects of the issue. Bookings are on a strictly first-come-first-serve basis, so book quickly to avoid disappointment.

24 August 2010

"It's Human Nature, Stupid!"

Remember Bill Clinton's famous observation concerning what winds people's clocks when they vote? "It's the economy, stupid!" This little phrase came to mind this evening while encountering two small bits of news. First, the Guardian speculates that Jerusalem's forthcoming light rail company may offer several segregated carriages along gender lines to appease the city's strictest Haredi (ultra orthodox) Jews. Later, BBC's Newsnight ran a package exploring why women wear the niqab, including an interview which featured three highly radicalised young women in sinister-looking garb. Newsnight also interviewed a young Muslim woman wearing a hijab (headscarf) who explained how, at university, she likewise had become radicalised and wore the niqab to prove her Islamic credentials within the group she was involved with, but had since shifted away from this radicalised position.

Both instances are, of course, grist to the mill for some rather radical atheists who despise any expression whatsoever of faith. "Religion causes nothing but trouble" and "Religions are the cause of all conflict" are common slogans among such fundamentalist atheists (as opposed to the live-and-let-live variety), and indeed it is true to a degree (though often exaggerated) that some of history's most bitter conflicts and society's greatest cruelties have sometimes been partially religion-driven. Fundamentalist religion - whether Islamic, Jewish or Christian - has sometimes caused a great deal of trouble. To be sure, arguably some religions are more adversarial and driven by religious conquest than others, but even some who claim to be Evangelicals have, for example, targeted abortion clinics in the name of God.

But fundamentalist atheists who pin all the world's woes on faith are denying a central point here. The fact is, some of the highly radicalised, strongly fundamentalist, frothing-at-the-mouth atheists themselves are no different from the very religious fundamentalists they abhor, whether Richard Dawkins' hysterical charge of parents "indoctrinating" their children with faith (together with the tacit suggestion they ought to be stopped or their children taken from them), or the myriads of aggresive fundamentalist atheists driven by hatred of religion who go much, much further in their denunciations (check out the comments section after the odd religious comment or article in the online version of a newspaper like, say, the Guardian and you'll quickly see what I mean). Ironically, such people are no different from the very religionists they themselves condemn for their views.

Elsewhere, too, other special interest groups likewise condemn people for not holding to the views they consider "moral", "correct", "decent" or "normal", whether extreme climate change proponents, vegetarians, xenophobes, free-traders, socialists, capitalists, patriots, liberal elites, neighbourhood watch members and allotment growers, or whatever. There are, of course, moderate versions of all these positions (except possibly the latter two, where disputes have been known to get pretty serious :). But unfortunately, all human societal units are inevitably replete with radical, fundamentalist, we-know-best variety bigots. In short, those who want to tell others what to do.

In other words, such a mentality is far from limited to religion, and going back to where we started, "It's human nature, stupid!" Some people just can't help telling others what to do.

19 August 2010

Back From Holiday... Israel Conference Pre-Announcement

Not quite back from my Summer break yet. Another week or two to go (because in the H.E. world nothing at all happens during the month of August). Nonetheless, beginning to prepare for the start of a new academic year and will gradually get back into blogging with several posts over the next couple of weeks. Apologies, but somewhat belatedly realised I should have informed readers there would be no posts for a couple or three weeks in August. Anyway...

Thought I'd start by pre-announcing the forthcoming joint conference organised by King's Evangelical Divinity School and Chosen People Ministries. The conference title is Israel and the Church: A Common Heritage and an Uncertain Future, to be held at London School of Theology on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th October. Speakers are Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary), Barry Horner (author of Future Israel), Mitch Glaser (Chosen People Ministries, New York), Jules Gomes (London School of Theology), Richard Harvey (All Nations Christian College), and myself. The Friday night session includes a meal. This promises to be an interesting academic conference drawing on a range of well-known speakers. Myself and Mitch Glaser are already working on editing a conference volume, to include several additional contributions from well-known scholars in the field. More details about the conference to be posted here in a few days.

In the meantime, you can book your place now (please note there are a limited number of places available on a first-come first-serve basis). Book and pay for your place here.