Recent Garverization and my Rather Large Workload for the Next Few Months

A number of people have asked me about the reason for my dramatically decreased blogging output. There are a number of reasons. I have lacked any great desire to blog for weeks now. Rather than blog merely out of a sense of obligation I have put my blogging to one side and only blogged when I have felt like doing so. I needed to have some time away from blogging over the last month or two and the rest did me good. However, I don’t expect that I will feel inclined to resume regular service for the next few months at least. Guest posts are still welcome, though, if any are interested in submitting material on the subject of the atonement.

In September I will be spending two and a half weeks in South East Asia, where I have to deliver over 40 hours’ worth of lectures on the subject of Christian Ethics. I only discovered that I would be speaking so much a couple of weeks ago. Since then I have spent far more time working for my father’s business than I have in preparation. I have only read sections of a few books on the subject and nothing more. I have a vague idea of how I will approach the subject, but little more. I have never had to prepare anything like this before and only have a month in which to do so. I am the best man at a wedding this Saturday, which considerably limits my preparation time this week. I also have two Sundays in the next month when I will be preaching at churches in the locality, while the pastors are on holiday, not to mention occasional work for my father’s business.

I would greatly value people’s prayers and any ideas and recommendations from those who have done this sort of thing before. This is really a matter of being thrown in at the deep end for me and I am not at all sure that I am equipped for it. Please pray that I will have motivation, direction and clarity in my studies and preparation. Please also pray that the talks, when I deliver them, will be of blessing to the hearers.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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13 Responses to Recent Garverization and my Rather Large Workload for the Next Few Months

  1. Shrug.

    People tell me Douma is good.

    But then I haven’t read him . . .

  2. Christopher Witmer says:

    A few suggestions, although these may have already occurred to you. I’m not sure what the nature of your audience is, but you might find it profitable to spend a little time showing how Christian ethics differs from the ethics of other religions.

    Because of the centrality of love to Christian ethics, you will also be wanting to speak of Christian ethics in relation to the doctrines of the Trinity and divine revelation.

    Ralph Smith at the Covenant Worldview Institute in Mitaka Tokyo ( might be a good resource insofar as he has a lot of experience in bringing the Christian faith to a non-Christian Asian culture. Besides writing a lot on the Trinity, he has taught comparative religion courses and he may be considered somewhat of an authority on Buddhism and Confuscianism.

    I’ll certainly be praying for you! Any chance of a stopover in Tokyo?

  3. I know you’ve read O’Donovan’s work on it; I think he has a very helpful framework (Objective, Subjective, Character) that might be useful.

    I’m assuming you really don’t have time to read much, so I wouldn’t really recommend anything else if that is the case.

  4. Al says:

    Thanks for the recommendations. I am not sure about comparing Christian ethics with the ethics of other religions. I know very little in the field of comparative religion and the last thing that I want to do is misrepresent another position (I have enjoyed what I have read of Ralph Smith on the subject, though; he is very helpful). However, if I had better knowledge of the field this would indeed be a helpful route to take. I hope to present the distinctive character of Christian ethics by focusing on what Christian ethics look like, rather than comparing it much with other religions. I hope that my presentation of the subject will make the distinctive character of Christian ethics very clearly evident in many different ways, even though I have little to say about other religious systems.

    Thank you very much for your prayers; there are greatly needed at the moment. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to visit Tokyo this time. However, I hope that one day I will. It would be wonderful to meet you and the church there.

    I will indeed be using some of O’Donovan, whose work I greatly enjoy, although my presentation of the subject will largely work in different of different categories.

  5. vynette says:

    “Guest posts are still welcome, though, if any are interested in submitting material on the subject of the atonement.”

    Are you interested in posting my brief article on atonement? I think you will find it a litte “different.”

    It begins…”None of the various atonement theologies draw the vital distinction between ‘corporate’ and ‘individual’ atonement…”

    If you are interested, I will email it to you.


  6. Al says:

    Thank you for your kind offer. However, I must decline. You have openly denied the doctrine of the Trinity and I really do not want to have someone who denies the deity of Christ posting on my blog. I trust that you will understand.

  7. vynette says:

    Certainly I understand.


  8. Hollinger’s book on Christian Ethics might be a good one to give you a general outline of what you want to touch on in these lectures. Thank you.

  9. Al says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, Dr Phillips. I might try to get my hands on a copy of that.

  10. Rick Ritchie says:

    I had to prepare to give a one week course on American Christianity a year and a half ago. Forty hours with one class. It was daunting to prepare, but went well. I did what I could to immerse myself in the subject, and made sure my plans differed as to how we spent our time, since nobody wanted to sit in lecture for all forty hours.

    I immersed myself in some aspects of the subject I was not really familiar with (e.g. Slave Religion, Puritan worship). I planned a recreation of a service. (I was impressed with how well a student was able to read Leviticus publically out of the Geneva Bible.) We watched Inherit the Wind and compared Hollywood to History. (Students were shocked at how far from accurate it was, especially when we read the actual transcript.)

    Students also prepared 3-5 minute presentations. I’m not sure if that would fit within the possibilities. I steered them midway through their preparation and kept them from getting lost.

    I think one thing you might consider is whether pedagogy methods you are familiar with may be brand new to an audience from a different culture. That might be a good lead in to discussion of how ethics are taught. Do we use Proverbs or Parables much in our culture? Do they in theirs? I think that the method of pedagogy might be a side of the subject worth considering. What are we offered in Scripture itself?

  11. Al says:

    Thank you very much for the helpful advice, Rick. I will probably be sticking pretty close to Scripture for the course. I hope to provide a basic theological perspective on the subject, drawing on (rather neglected) ethical themes such as the use of the imagination in forming and reforming moral vision, imitation and the reorientation of desire, sustaining each other in a shared moral task, negotiating modern technology, etc.

    I want to provide a rigorously biblical perspective on the subject and so am dealing with different levels of biblical teaching. I will move from natural ethics, to narrative ethics, Noachide ethics, the ethics of the Torah, the ethics of the wisdom literature, the moral vision and significant of the prophets and their literature, the teaching of Jesus, new covenant ethics and its relationship to previous forms of ethics, etc.

    I hope to present a form of ethics focused on the Church, as a place where we all support each other, enabling us to live sorts of lives that we would not be able to live by ourselves. I want to speak of the importance of liturgy and worship for the formation of moral vision and of the Christian community’s role as a people of judgment. I also want to present the moral life clearly in terms of faith and grace. We must trust God that He will give us everything that we need to follow Him. I want to say quite a lot about the new covenant and its significance in this respect.

    I will also deal with a number of illustrative subjects. Perhaps treat sloth and faith as example of vices and virtues, the ecological problem as an example of where a liturgically reformed imagination can be significant, money as an example of the relevance of Solomonic wisdom teaching, etc.

  12. J. B. Hood says:

    As a NT guy, I’m partial to Hays, Moral Vision. His handful of pages in the back on MONEY (health/wealth being a huge issue almost everywhere, and divide between rich and poor being a huge issue in the church globally as well, not just West vs. Rest) are well worth copying and passing out as an example of how his four-fold approach works as a grid.

    Also I like Frame’s triads as a good visual…

  13. Pingback: The Boar’s Head Tavern » Alastair on hell in the NT

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