What has the Bible ever done for us?
This year sees the King James Version celebrate its 400th birthday, and there have been celebrations aplenty. But most have focused on its impact on the nation’s literature, language and culture.
In a new book, entitled Freedom and Order: History, Politics and the English Bible, published by Hodder and Stoughton on May 12, Nick Spencer argues that this is badly misleading and that the Bible (not just in its King James incarnation) has been the single most influential document in British political history.
Described by Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University, as the book that "stands out from the herd in this year celebrating King James’s contribution to biblical translation", Freedom and Order will be discussed in greater detail in next month’s newsletter.
Interested readers, however, can find more information here.
For the next four weeks, Nick Spencer will be writing Theos’ Current Debates exploring different aspects of the impact of the Bible on our political life. To read the first of these, on tolerance, click here.
Why God won’t go away
On Wednesday 18th May from 1:10 – 2:00pm, Prof. Alister McGrath, Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture at King’s College London will give a lunchtime talk responding to Dawkins and the New Atheism at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey.
An internationally-acclaimed writer & theologian, and a former atheist, Alister McGrath regularly engages in debate and dialogue with leading atheists, and has extensively researched the ‘atheist apologetics’ of Richard Dawkins.
The event is organised by Westminster Abbey in partnership with Theos, Christians in Parliament and Christians in Government. Entry is free, and further details can be obtained by contacting: email@example.com.
The Great AV Debate
Ahead of last week’s referendum on AV reform, Theos, in partnership with Charities Parliament and The Faith and Public Policy Forum at King’s College London, held a debate on the issues surrounding the proposed changes to the election process.
Dr Luke Bretherton, Senior Lecturer in theology and politics at King’s and Convener of the Faith and Public Policy Forum, chaired the debate, which involved (for the ‘Yes’ campaign) Baroness Oona King of Bow and Peter Facey from Unlock Democracy, and (for the ‘No’ campaign) Sam Gyimah MP and Gavin Shuker MP.
A show of hands at the beginning and end of the evening revealed that the debate had informed the audience, who felt both more confident that they now understood the issues and more certain about which way they were intending to vote.
Whether the British public were ‘confident’ in their decision we shall never know, but 42% of them voted overwhelmingly (68% of votes cast said ‘No’ to AV; the ‘Yes’ campaign won in just 10 of the 440 voting areas) to reject the Alternative Vote. Click here to read up on the results.
Literature and Belief
John Carey is one of Britain’s most erudite, lucid and informative critics – although far too self-effacing ever to describe himself in this way.
Emeritus Merton Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, Booker Prize chairman, chief book reviewer for the Sunday Times, and author of numerous, widely-acclaimed literary studies (most recently a biography of Willam Golding), Carey is one of a breed – perhaps a particular generation – of public intellectuals who have no Christian faith themselves, but a genuine and serious respect for Christianity’s intellectual, moral and aesthetic contribution to Western life.
Nick Spencer met him in his cottage in the Cotswolds to discuss faith, doubt, literature, belief, and "the darkness of man’s heart". Read the resulting interview in Third Way magazine here.
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