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Gemma Hooper, May 2013
The Schuman Centre's State of Europe Forum, held on 9th May each year, brings together Christian leaders from around the continent to evaluate Europe today in the light of the vision of EU Founding Father, Robert Schuman, for Europe as a 'community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian values': equality, freedom, solidarity and peace.
The sponsors of the Forum, ECPF, commissioned Jubilee Centre, in collaboration with Relationships Global and Relationships Foundation, to write a report on the quality of family, community, economic, and political relationships across the continent.
The Snapshot provides a platform for exploring how economic, political and social problems are ultimately relational issues, since their causes and consequences are largely in the realm of relationships. This analysis helps to point towards an alternative, relational narrative to individualism as the basis for public policy and national life.
This relational framework captures the vision of Schuman and the other founding fathers of modern Europe more effectively than the narrow economic view which increasingly dominates the political agenda. More importantly, it is a biblically rooted framework which offers a Christian basis for social reform.
Dr Gai Ferdon, April 2013
"..Why should twenty-first century Christians take the time and effort to learn about how seventeenth-century Protestants thought about politics?..."
from the foreword by John Coffey, Professor of Early Modern History and Cambridge Papers writer. He continues:
"... I can think of three reasons. First, it is a means of resourcement. In the contemporary climate, Christians are strongly tempted to follow secular ideologies and neglect the resources of their tradition. .....And while reflecting on the political thought of previous generations of Christians can be taxing, there is no better way to enlarge our reference group and learn from the wisdom (and folly) of past generations. ..... Ferdon's paper does just that, convening an animated and rather fractious seminar in which we hear some powerful and utterly distinctive voices: Sir Robert Filmer, John Milton, James Harrington, John Lilburne.
A second reason to look to the past is that there are certain perennial issues and tendencies in Christian political thought. We still find ourselves divided over questions of political power - Who holds it? Where does it originate? To whom are the powerful accountable? How can they be removed from power? ..... Understanding the past helps us to make sense of our present.
Finally, this study gets us to wrestle with the problem of biblical hermeneutics. We see how different factions in the English Revolution turned to different parts of Scripture as they sought to answer fundamental issues about power. ..... This study shows that there are no easy answers when it comes to reading the Bible politically, and it ought to make us more self-critical in our own hermeneutics. Yet we also find evidence of deep and serious engagement with the Bible, and see how the reflecting on the Old and New Testaments was once an integral part of European political thinking. Reading the Bible with the dead can be a valuable exercise. It highlights strands of Scripture that we may have neglected, and suggests levels of meaning that we may never have encountered. Past thinkers cannot do our thinking for us. But by reading them, we will learn to think more carefully and more deeply about politics. In the light of current controversies over religion in the public square, this could hardly be more necessary."
Jonathan Tame, April 2013
Unfortunately the media company which was uploading our podcasts to iTunes is no longer working with audio files. As a result there are currently two Jubilee Centre accounts in iTunes, and all podcasts up to the end of 2011 are on the old account, which is accessible here:
Until we have resolved this problem, please access all pre-2012 podcasts directly by using the above link, as the buttons on the individual resource pages will send you to the new Jubilee Centre account, which only has the most recent podcasts.
We apologise for this inconvenience, and hope you can still find the recording you are looking for!
Keywords: Christianity & Religion, Crime & Justice, Education, Finance & the Economy, Government & Foreign Affairs, Health, Lifestyle Issues, Science & Technology, Sex & Families, The Environment, Worldviews & Culture
James Williams, March 2013
"I have heard several people say, for example, that the work of the Jubilee Centre is 'utopian'."
In this enjoyably well-written paper, James Williams questions why people might use such a word and to what end. He looks at historical and recent views of 'perfect societies' and considers both the writers' motivations and their solutions. Some considered that the answer was to create separate societies by withdrawing (such as the Anabaptists or the more recent Branch Davidians) or by seeking their vision in the New World. Others wished to reform existing but corrupt polities. Was Milton right, he asks, when he criticised such efforts as a distraction from real world social reform?
This paper compares broad political ideas where right criticises left for being utopian and vice versa. James Williams, as he highlights Karl Popper's critique of Marxism, enjoys the irony that Marxism itself was prompted in response to what Marx and Engels described as 'utopian socialism'.
So, is the work of Jubilee Centre 'utopian'? James Williams reviews the practical outcomes of much of Jubilee Centre's work (and that of its associated charities) and also what he calls the more theoretical publication output and observes:
"The reliance of the Jubilee Centre on modern applications of Old Testament Law is central to its whole endeavour...... [T]heir approach to the Law sees it as a paradigm, not a blueprint. This rules out the ('utopian'?) extreme position of theonomists, or Reconstructionists, who wish to implement the Law as statute today. By looking at institutional norms and relationships within Israelite society the Jubilee Centre also avoids the ('utopian'?) sole reliance on 'Kingdom Ethics' (beloved of the Christian Left) as a guide to the activity of unbelievers and secular governments."
"for [Jubilee Centre's] mandate rests on their belief that the Bible does speak to the ordering of societies and that Christians should heed that and work to improve the flawed structures around them and to ameliorate the effects of sin."
Guy Brandon, February 2013
This booklet offers a brief but comprehensive introduction to the Jubilee Centre's work - a kind of 'primer' to our thinking.
The Jubilee Roadmap shows two alternative directions of travel for eight major themes in biblical law: Family, Property, Community, Government, Finance and the Economy, Welfare, Rest, and Justice. One direction reflects the prevailing thinking based on individualism, while the other - the road less travelled - points towards a society based on good and right relationships. The booklet explores the differences between our modern secular approach and the biblical ideal, and how we might start to move from one to the other.
Nick Spencer, July 2012 No comments
Price: £0.99 (free online)
This paper contends that the Bible has been the single most influential document in British political history. It takes six major political ideas, each with contemporary relevance, and shows how the Bible has shaped our attitude to each, highlighting particular hermeneutical principles critical in explaining this influence. It is suggested that a continued, strong commitment to such political virtues may be difficult to sustain if Christianity is further eroded from British public life.
Category: Cambridge Papers
Keywords: Government & Foreign Affairs
Paul Mills and Michael Schluter, May 2012
Jubilee Centre is pleased to launch this new and timely book:
"The problems of economics are not of a mathematical nature - and so cannot be cured by mathematics. It is the philosophy, the questions of the soul, that must be addressed. This book offers a fine immersion in exactly that."
Dr Tomas Sedlacek - Member of the Czech Republic's National Economic Council and former adviser to Vaclav Havel
The world is set to be in financial turmoil for some years to come. Searching questions are being asked about the future of Capitalism in the light of the European debt crisis, excessive levels of executive pay, short termism in share trading, and the dominance of the financial economy over the real economy of goods and services.
The fall of Communism left Capitalism as the only show in town; as it grows increasingly unfit for purpose, where do we go next? This book (which is a collection of previously-published Cambridge Papers) seeks to rethink the foundations of a market economy and argues that the Bible's central theme of relationships is the key to rebuilding a system that promotes economic well-being, financial stability and social cohesion.
Jubilee Centre, May 2012
Any book on Biblical Law that manages to work into its chapter sub-headings the titles of contemporary films, tv programmes and the title of a Pink Floyd track has surely got to be worth a look?
God, Justice and Society is written by Dr Jonathan Burnside who is Reader in Biblical Law at Bristol University. He's also a Jubilee Centre trustee and author of ground-breaking work for Jubilee Centre such as Consent versus Community and Status and Welfare of Immigrants.
He says that "the goal of [God, Justice, and Society] is to explore aspects of law and legality in the Bible and to do so from the perspective of a modern lawyer." At 542 pages God, Justice, and Society looks a daunting read. This is a shame, because it's such a great and readable book with little that is impenetrable to the non-specialist.
Jonathan compares Biblical Law in the Old and New Testament with our modern law and highlights how the latter strongly reflects our individualistic society. This compares very unfavourably with Biblical Law which is fundamentally concerned with relationships and thus with addressing the impact that offences have on the whole community. It might be tempting for non-lawyers to think that this isn't relevant to them. But any discussion of criminal justice, of dealing with sexual offences and ethics, or consideration of property rights or social welfare, will be better informed as to God's heart for these issues through reading this book.
While society around us pillories Biblical Law as primitive, reading Jonathan's book acts as a real antidote, demonstrating how full of God's grace and wisdom Biblical Law really is.
If you still feel that the book is too much to read (and even though our paperback edition is only Ã?Â£19.99 including UK postage) then please look at this overview of the book by Will Kynes on The Kirby Laing Institute For Christian Ethics website. We also have more information on the book here and Jonathan Burnside has a website full of associated resources (including a study guide) here.
Best of all, read it for yourself by buying the book here.
Guy Brandon, December 2011
Immigration is a live and perennial issue, and often prompts polarised and unhelpful responses from politicians, the media and the public. Our default viewpoint is frequently one of suspicion, a simplistic reaction that assumes immigrants all come for the same reason and have identical motives. The Old Testament's approach to immigration was far more nuanced, and a biblical view of nationhood and immigration helps to bring a degree of balance and proportion to the debate.
Keywords: Government & Foreign Affairs
Julian Rivers, September 2011 1 comment
Price: £0.99 (free online)
The Equality Act 2010 was the last major piece of legislation to be passed under the British ‘New Labour’ Government. This paper explains briefly what equality law does as well as two groups of related problem cases. It sets out a biblical foundation for equality as well as a distinctive conception characterised more by mutuality than uniformity. Against this background, the paper argues that we need to combat an equality culture which trivialises religious and ethical disagreement, to reform the law to protect the pluralism of civil society and accommodate individuals, and to rediscover the real issue of equality, which is material, relational and spiritual poverty.
Category: Cambridge Papers