28 November 2020

J. I. Packer

This past July the distinguished theologian J. I. Packer died just short of his 94th birthday. Read about him here: J.I. Packer: The impact and gift of J.I. Packer's legacy. An excerpt:

What we should most remember Packer for was his love of the Bible, which he confessed to be the Word of God. In fact, it was a youthful reading of his grandmother’s old King James Bible that moved him to a mature confession of faith and eventually to the priesthood.

May he rest in peace until the resurrection, and may our Lord continue to use his legacy to advance his kingdom.

26 November 2020

T. S. Eliot on Christianity in a nonchristian society

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) wrote prophetically more than eight decades ago on a matter of great import for us now, as we attempt to navigate the choppy waters of a society increasingly shaped (and misshapen) by secular redemptive narratives:

The Liberal notion that religion was a matter of private belief and of conduct in private life, and that there is no reason why Christians should not be able to accommodate themselves to any world which treats them good-naturedly, is becoming less and less tenable . . . .
 
We have less excuse than our ancestors for un-Christian conduct, because the growth of an un-Christian society about us, its more obvious intrusion upon our lives, has been breaking down the comfortable distinction between public and private morality. The problem of leading a Christian life in a non-Christian society is now very present to us . . . . It is not merely the problem of a minority in a society, of individuals holding an alien belief. It is the problem constituted by our implication in a network of institutions from which we cannot dissociate ourselves: institutions the operation of which appears no longer neutral, but non-Christian.
 
And as for the Christian who is not conscious of his dilemma—and he is in the majority—he is becoming more and more de-Christianised by all sorts of unconscious pressure: paganism holds all the most valuable advertising space. Anything like Christian traditions transmitted from generation to generation within the family must disappear, and the small body of Christians will consist entirely of adult recruits . . . .
 
I am not concerned with the problem of Christians as a persecuted minority. When the Christian is treated as an enemy of the State, his course is very much harder, but it is simpler. I am concerned with the dangers to the tolerated minority; and in the modern world, it may turn out that the most tolerable thing for Christians is to be tolerated.
Eliot wrote this in Christianity and Culture (1939).

25 November 2020

The Kuyper Prize: David Brooks

New York Times columnist David Brooks was awarded this year's Kuyper Prize, sponsored by Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary. Like most such events this year, this was a virtual event, which we can watch below.


23 November 2020

The cultural influence of missionaries

Andrew Spencer writes about Robert Woodberry and the Benefits of Protestant Missions. Although missionaries have had a bad reputation in recent decades due to their supposed connection with European colonialism, it turns out that their influence has been almost wholly positive. This was the finding of political scientist Robert Woodberry in his path-breaking article in the American Political Science Review eight years ago. Here is an excerpt from Spencer:

Christianity is a religion of the book, therefore Christians tended to teach people to read and write. They often brought in printing presses so they could publish religious literature. In some cases they invented alphabets for previously unwritten languages. This led to societal advances that enabled more people to prosper.

Not only did they educate people, but missionaries brought in the concept of private property so traders wouldn’t take advantage of them. They taught new skills, like carpentry and advanced agricultural techniques. Missionaries introduced new crops to countries, which gave indigenous people opportunities to engage in trade with products that were desirable in Europe.

Woodberry outlines multiple ways in which the presence of missionaries indirectly led to improved conditions in colonies.

In many cases, the impact of Protestant missionaries went beyond their direct actions. In order to compete with the missionaries, indigenous religions began to print religious texts and educate people to resist Christianity. Competition improved conditions for everyone.

The case Woodberry makes is convincing. When people selflessly live out the gospel, both through evangelization and through practical application, it changes cultures for the better. Though there are clearly cases of abuse and sin by missionaries, there is a strong correlation between the advance of gospel people and the common good.

 This article is posted on the website of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics.

22 November 2020

Political illusions in Brazil

Na noite de sábado tive o privilégio de falar neste evento, Ilusões Políticas no Brasil. Vocês podem ouvir a conversa clicando no link abaixo. Meus comentários estão em inglês e traduzidos para o português.

On saturday evening I was privileged to speak at this event, Ilusões Políticas no Brasil. You can hear the conversation by clicking on the link below. My comments are in English and translated into Portuguese.

20 November 2020

Providence review

Matthew Ng reviews the second edition of my first book in Providence Magazine: The Political Idols of Our Age: A Review of David Koyzis’ Political Visions and Illusions. An excerpt:

The arrival of the second edition of David Koyzis’ Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey and Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies is incredibly timely. So much of the divisiveness of our current political debates can be traced to differences over first principles, and Koyzis’ neo-Calvinist approach to political theory is helpful in digging to the fundamental issues that lay beneath the surface of our political rhetoric. To loosely quote John Maynard Keynes, so-called practical men who believe themselves exempt from intellectual influences are usually the slaves to some defunct economist or political philosopher. In this respect, Koyzis’ work is indispensable in preventing the church from becoming unwitting captives to defunct thinkers whom the average reader may only have faint knowledge of. . . .

I remember coming across the first edition of Political Visions and Illusions almost two decades ago. Rereading Koyzis’ book not only reminded me of how helpful his work was in clarifying issues of faith and politics, but it also provided me the joy of discovering fresh insights from a book that, like all great books, continues to teach new lessons with each reading. Unfortunately, except within the small confines of the Reformed world, Koyzis’ neo-Calvinist approach to political philosophy is not widely known. Hopefully, with the latest edition of Political Visions and Illusions, Koyzis’ work will no longer be hidden underneath a bushel, but instead, its brilliance will reach a wider audience.

It's always gratifying to receive a positive review of one's work, and I'm pleased that Ng continues to find the book helpful.

18 November 2020

Meu amado Brasil (em português)

Muitas das minhas palestras e aulas recentes foram ligadas ao Brasil, o que levou alguns espectadores a se perguntarem como me tornei tão profundamente envolvido com seu povo, especialmente com a crescente população evangélica. Aqui está, então, o relato do meu atual romance – essa palavra é muito forte? – com um país notável que abrange uma parte enorme do continente sul-americano.

O Brasil é o quinto maior país do mundo, tanto em população quanto em área. De acordo com o WorldoMeter, o Brasil tinha uma população de 213 milhões em 2020. Isso o coloca atrás da China, Índia, Estados Unidos, Indonésia e Paquistão e à frente de todos os outros. Quando palestrei lá em 2016, percebi o quão extenso é o país. Meu avião pousou em Brasília e fiquei com uma jovem família lá. Mas então, fomos de carro até Goiânia para o evento no qual eu faria minhas palestras. Demorou quase três horas para percorrer a distância, mas no mapa isso cobre uma proporção muito pequena da área do país. Pessoas que eu já conhecia de antemão e esperava ver no evento me disseram que era muito longe de suas casas, o que eu dificilmente poderia ter imaginado antes. Mas seria o equivalente a falar em Toronto e esperar ver pessoas de Calgary ou Vancouver aparecerem.

Por favor, leia a postagem inteira aqui.

 

16 November 2020

Today is the day!

Friends and alumni:

Today I am launching my Global Scholars Canada fundraising campaign.

As many of you know, I have been a member of Global Scholars Canada for one year, and under this organization I have been working at several projects drawing on my years of teaching, researching, and writing experience. Last year the second edition of the award-winning Political Visions and Illusions was published, and since then it has already gone into three printings, having sold out last summer after the Rev. Tim Keller endorsed it over Facebook and Twitter. I now have another completed manuscript, which I hope to submit to a publisher in the near future with the support of two high-profile endorsements.

Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic, while restricting so many of us to our homes for months, has opened for me an amazing number of opportunities for online lectures and interaction with people around the globe. Prior to March of this year, I had travelled to Brazil, Germany, and various places in the United States to speak to specific audiences about my work and writings. I was set to go to North Carolina in late March, but this was cancelled the week before as quarantines descended upon the world. But quite suddenly, as knowledge of such platforms as Zoom took off, I was bombarded with invitations from all over, as people were coming to recognize that they needn't pay to bring me to them physically but could have what might be the next best thing—a virtual presence along with online interaction.

12 November 2020

Trinity Western Chapel: Job 11

I was recently privileged to deliver a prerecorded chapel address to the faculty, staff, and students of Trinity Western University, Langley, British Columbia, Canada, on Job 11. This was posted just three days ago. I have set the video to begin where my talk begins, but feel free to go back and watch the full chapel service. A precis of my talk: The book of Job is, as it were, a "little Bible," encapsulating the biblical redemptive story in the life of a single person.

Unfortunately I cannot post the video directly here, but you can watch it on YouTube.



11 November 2020

For love of Brazil

Next week I will be launching my Global Scholars Canada fundraising campaign to support my educational and research activities, which are increasingly taking on global dimensions. Here is the story of my relationship with Brazil which has deepened in recent years: Meu amado Brasil. The story can also be found under the PAGES title in the column to the right. From the introductory paragraph:

Many of my recent speaking and teaching engagements have been connected with Brazil, which has prompted some observers to wonder how I became so deeply involved with its people, especially the burgeoning evangelical population. Here then is my account of my ongoing romance (is that too strong a word?) with a remarkable country that spans a huge swath of the South American continent.

Please consider making a regular or one-time contribution to my ongoing work as a Global Scholar by clicking here. Thank you for your support.

10 November 2020

Ilusões Políticas no Brasil

No dia 21 de novembro estarei participando do evento "Ilusões Políticas no Brasil", promovido pela Associação Reformada de Cultura e Ação Política.

On 21 November I will be participating in this event, "Political Illusions in Brazil," sponsored by the Reformed Association of Culture and Political Action.


05 November 2020

Oak Centre conversation

Yesterday afternoon I was privileged to talk with a group right here in Hamilton sponsored by the Oak Centre for Studies in Faith and Culture, organized by my friend Don McNally. The invitation was originally for me to join the group in person at their downtown venue, but due to my 14-day mandatory quarantine, I had to settle for speaking with them remotely. By the way, I will be out of quarantine tomorrow at last. 



04 November 2020

Common Good conversation, version 3.0

Today I had another great conversation with the exceedingly affable Ian Simkins and Brian From on "the Common Good" over Chicago radio station WYLL, AM 1160. Here is the link: Guest: David Koyzis Author and Political Scientist - Post Election - November 4, 2020.



03 November 2020

Colonial Nigeria

Theodore in Kano, Nigeria
Last month I travelled to the United States to sort through my late father's office. While there I found a fascinating account of his years in British-ruled Nigeria some seven decades ago. I thought it worth posting here. He wrote this in 2010.

When I was 18 years old, I left Cyprus, my birthplace, for Benin City, NIGERIA, then a British colony, to take over a company owned by a family friend who was old and ready to retire. There were only forty families of white Europeans in Benin then, and they all lived a lonely, miserable and separate existence from the Nigerian natives.

From the first day of my arrival there, I noticed that the Europeans did not treat the natives fairly and humanly. They paid them very low wages, exploited them in every way possible and kept a social and cultural separation from them, something which I, the youngest of all the businessmen there, considered both cruel and ignorant. Understandably, I embarked on an endless campaign of heated and deliberate discussions whenever and wherever the occasion arrived.

Although privately several of the men and most of the women would agree with me, openly nobody would join or even support me during open discussions at dinners or other social gatherings restricted to Whites only. After six months in Benin City, I accepted an offer from a leading Greek businessman to join his organization and soon moved first to Lagos where I stayed for six months, then went North to Kano, Nigeria, where I spent two more years before I came to the United States.

Nigeria became independent in 1960, nearly a decade after my father left the territory to study in the States.


02 November 2020

Genevan Psalter pages

Although I do not generally mention my other blog, The Genevan Psalter, here, I will nevertheless advise readers that I have restored several pages from my former Genevan Psalter website including the following:

Those wishing to be informed of further updates are welcome to click the follow button in the right hand column. You may also wish to join the Lovers of Metrical Psalmody Facebook group. When requesting admission, please be sure to answer the questions posed. Thanks.

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Contact at: dtkoyzis at gmail dot com