Monday, January 20, 2014

Blue Monday - the most depressing day of the year

Apparently, today is 'Blue Monday'. The most wonderful time of the year has given way to the most depressing day of the year (according to a YouGov survey). It's certainly a very depressing day for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, though this has nothing to do with Christmas, unless Lord Rennard was 'active' at LibDem festive bashes, too. The Mental Health Foundation has calculated the formula establishing the 'Blue Monday' phenomenon as:

where weather = W, debt = d, time since Christmas = T, time since failing our New Year’s resolutions =Q, low motivational levels = M, and the feeling of a need to take action = Na. 'D' is not defined, nor are units of measurement.

The Church of England has helpfully produced a healing antidote video (above) to counteract the doldrums, but His Grace isn't at all sure of its efficacy: the musac alone is sufficient to drive one to the dentist's waiting room. Do they assume that those who watch this are uplifted by Richard Clayderman shopping-mall pap?

And the message? Well, if you wade through the gloomy weather, credit card bills, pay-it-forward and the Polish psychologist Andrew Bienkowski, it is essentially "May you be blessed this Blue Monday, and always. After all we have breath; we have life; we have shelter. We are here."

The name of Jesus is mentioned nowhere: just an oblique allusion to "the God (or god?) who became flesh and dwelt among us." Did He not have a name? Are they ashamed of it? And apparently this unnamed God (or god) came not to save us from our sin, but as someone to help us "enter life more fully; to embrace it; to make the most of it."

This isn't even milk: it is watery brain science video-therapy: a Christian reflection devoid of Christ and Scripture. A quotation from the Psalmist rather than a psychologist would have been preferable. Invocation of CS Lewis (Surprised by Joy) or a few thoughts from Pope Tawadros II (suffering 'real-blues' persecution) would have put a few credit card bills and weight-gain into perspective.

Now, His Grace isn't one for cramming Christ into every utterance or insisting that the Bible is the only source of wisdom: He is far more missiologically attuned and culturally sensitised than that. He agrees that you should indeed #countyourblessings (today's Twitter hashtag), including your family, friends, health and wealth (the CofE press release doesn't mention wealth). But it is well known that 'Blue Monday' is Sky Travel marketing pseudoscience, so quite why the Church of England has invested(?) funds in this project is something of a mystery.

The Bishop of Chelmsford the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell clearly knows this. He says: "It's no surprise to find that 'Blue Monday' originated as a piece of PR puff and this is reinforced by the poll results. Happiness comes when we stop living our lives just for ourselves. The importance of family and partners highlights that when we are loved and show love it begins to make a difference to how we live and how we view the world. No wonder that the Christian faith places the self-giving love of Jesus at its heart. God can always provide affirmation even when the still important human affirmation lets us down."

At least the Bishop mentions Jesus.

But it is curious that the Church of England can produce something so crass one day, and something quite brilliant the next. This is currently displayed on the London Underground:

Plastic Jesus? It's catchy, memorable, almost indelible. In that succinct phrase lies a dozen sermons challenging preconception, and in the tacky visual the trigger to thousands of commuter reflections on idolatry and triviality.

The video carries the imprimatur of the Archbishops' Council: the poster that of the Euston Church. The objectives of the former are somewhat diffuse; those of the latter are rather more succinct: "to know Jesus Christ and we long to make Him known".

Is this not evidence that mission is most effective when it is inspired and devised by passionate individuals operating in a local context, rather than by a broad committee seeking to inculcate an entire nation with a vague sense of spiritual consciousness?


Blogger Len said...

I wouldn`t have know this was a Christian message unless it had been mentioned.
Don`t try smiling at people though they will probably think you are a Christian nutter and get you locked up for 'annoying people' .
Anyway my glass is more than half full in fact my cup in fact runneth over because my hope is not in making myself feel good but in the lord Jesus Christ.

20 January 2014 at 11:06  
Blogger non mouse said...

Gosh, Your Grace.
Pseudo-science indeed. And a patronising message about the fact that 'we are' - delivered in that awful not-quite-London diction.

And whatever is wrong with the grinning boy's right shoulder? Indeed, it makes one wish that Jesus would return and heal him ......

20 January 2014 at 11:30  
Blogger Philip said...

Excellent post, YG. The Euston Church looks excellent, faithfully preaching the true Christ, in whom (as Len above says) we can put our hope, whether we feel good or not.

20 January 2014 at 11:34  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

I tend to suffer somewhat from S.A.D. but not really badly. can remember my best time around this year was when I gave birth to one of my children and was "high" for weeks on it during gloomy Winter weather.

May I recommend this remedy to all your readers?

Make a diary note in April.


20 January 2014 at 13:08  
Blogger Integrity said...

Your Grace,
I never knew of Blue Monday and now I whish to forget it. The film made me sad when I had not been before. Who's God were they talking about? Not the Father of Jesus Christ surely?
Len got it right as usual, my cup runneth over when Jesus is in me.
I am not surprised about the CofE. A very depressing lot most of them. The spiritually enlightened should be allowed to come to the forefront of the Church.
Attitude effects your altitude.

20 January 2014 at 13:23  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Blue Monday indeed! Monday is wash day at The Palace, and the only thing that's blue about it is the little bag of starch added to the wash - it brings my Lord's surplices up a treat. I await His Grace's thesis on crop circles and Friday 13th with baited breath. And dear Mr. Integrity, the CofE might be a depressing lot in general, but I assure you we are a lively bunch here in Barchester. Mr. Slope's 'Rainbow Services' are models of diversity and enrichment for all (held in the Chapel of St, Peter of Tatchell the second and third Sundays after the Flagellation of Christ) Of course I avoid them, preferring the calmer waters of Mr. Harding's Evensongs. I see Happy Jack has donned clerical black in his that a soutane I see before me?

20 January 2014 at 13:49  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

The formula is all wrong. They forgot to divide by the speed of light. And where is the constant of proportionality. There has to be a constant of proportionality.


20 January 2014 at 13:56  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

See, this is what happens when you let Marketing people play around with Math.


20 January 2014 at 13:59  
Blogger Preacher said...

Depressing, direction-less, pseudo babble. As uplifting as a lukewarm cup of tea & a damp biscuit.

20 January 2014 at 14:17  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack is perfectly happy on this fine Monday. The only 'blues' he experiences is mixed with rhythm.

About the new look. It is not a cassock! Jack was hoping for a 'dangerous' look and donned a Hassidic hat and coat. Blame this on David K and Avi. Jack wanted a bit of an edge. Unfortunately, he now looks more like Father Brown than the mean and moody look aura he hoped for. Jack may have to grow some facial stubble.

20 January 2014 at 14:39  
Blogger Preacher said...

Jack you appear to be changing into a Bob Dylan clone. Can you play the harmonica while playing the guitar?.

20 January 2014 at 14:45  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Preacher, Happy Jack was trying to achieve more of a Johnny Cash look with a leather hat and coat. Jack can play the 'blues harp' when called upon though he's not too accomplished. He does have the contraption necessary but it get's him confused trying to sing, play harmonica and the guitar all at the same time.

20 January 2014 at 15:17  
Blogger Martin said...

Excuse me, isn't the reason for sorrow, pain, misery very simple, three letter simple?


Or am I just being far too miserable in pointing out that God has provided a solution to sin. This life will have periods of unhappiness but there can be a joy that looks forward.

So where was this?

20 January 2014 at 15:43  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Your Grace,

Until this moment I had never heard of Blue Monday. But then, until a year or two ago I had never heard of Black Friday, at least in the shopping sense. Has my life been irremediably blighted by my ignorance of these two dates? I hope not. And, as Sherlock Holmes said about the Copernican Theory, now that I do know it, I shall do my best to forget it.

On the whole I think I’d rather look forward to Shrove Tuesday, which falls a little later than usual this year. In many Catholic countries the day is called Carnival and commemorations go a little bit beyond eating pancakes. Pancake Day, I suppose, is something people in the UK can thank* Cromwell and the Commonwealth for.

*Or blame, according to taste. By the way, Your Grace, speaking of Cromwell, in a little over four months’ time it will be Oak Apple Day. It would be nice if your communicants could look forward to a commemorative sermon, following last year’s celebration of the Lord Protector. But since the date coincides with Ascension Day this year, I suppose that’s too much to hope for?

20 January 2014 at 15:50  
Blogger Preacher said...

Bless you Jack. You've brightened up the day better than the morose effort of the CofE video & muzac.

20 January 2014 at 15:53  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Happy Jack

I seem to remember you telling Avi that you were planning to do the fashion accessories but not the hairstyle, is that right?

20 January 2014 at 15:55  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Well said YG
Mid January was always a time when people started looking at a summer holiday destination. Blue Monday is the travel agencies' marketing strategy, telling people they are miserable until they book a holiday in the sun on a pay later which will wipe away the “blues”. No doubt it might for some , but that the Church has taken this as fact and produced a patronising and dreary video is pathetic. I don't think the presenter believes one word of what he is saying. Haven't they got any better ideas?

20 January 2014 at 15:59  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


"am I just being far too miserable"


Get a life


20 January 2014 at 17:34  
Blogger Giles Cattermole said...

Glad you approve of Euston Church's poster. Have a look at UCCF's 'Uncover' material - especially 'burn your plastic Jesus'

20 January 2014 at 18:07  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Uncle Brian, the Jewish hair style would mean Jack acquiring a wig and one isn't sure if this would be 'kosher'. Jack has very little head hair you see, so no chance of the curls but he can sport a mean beard.

Preacher, here's a little tune to brighten the day:

"Oh Happy Day"
Oh, happy day (oh, happy day)
Oh, happy day (oh, happy day)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
oh, when he washed (when Jesus washed)
when Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
he washed my sins away! (oh, happy day)

Ah, happy day (oh, happy day)
Ah, it's a happy day (oh, happy day)

He taught me how
He taught me how,
to watch, fight and pray (fight and pray)
and he'll rejoice in things we say,

Oh, happy day (oh, happy day)
oh, happy day (oh, happy day)

Martin, Happy Jack says sin in conquered for those who walk with Jesus and stay by His side.

A Christian should always be positive and happy, whatever the trials of this life. How can you spread the peace of Christ by being an ole misery guts?

20 January 2014 at 18:09  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Bloody funereal music - like stepping into an undertakers...

Rather surprising to hear ‘Blue Monday’ is not the first day of the final week of January that includes the end of the month. The peasants having blown most of their income during the festive season buying gifts nobody needs or is grateful for anyway, being reduced to relying on payday loans to provide themselves with nourishing baked beans on toast to go with their glass of tap water. Anyway, one thinks this year it’s been announced a week too early.

The excellent Fats Domino did a song, ‘Blue Monday’. If you are not aware of it, be so. It’s sublime, and can teach those annoying young rap negroes a thing or two about music, you know…

Blue Monday how I hate blue Monday!
Gotta work like a slave all day.
Here comes Tuesday
oh Tuesday
I'm so tired I'm tryin' to play.
Here comes Wednesday
I'll be to myself
my world's poor by the time that I'm up.
But then it's a hard workin' day
but I gotta get my pay.
Saturday morning
oh Saturday morning
all my time has kept going away.
I got my money and my honey

and I'm gonna stay to play.
Sunday morning my head is bad.
Was it worth it for the time that I had?
But I got to get my rest
because Monday is a mess.

20 January 2014 at 18:19  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Inspector General

Fats Domino is a little bit since my time (Fats Waller is closer to my generation) but I can certainly appreciate the notion that every Monday is "Blue Monday". Makes a whole lot more sense that this travel agency guff.

20 January 2014 at 18:36  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Mr. Slope is organising a 'Pink Tuesday' to cheer things up after 'Monday.' He's very keen for some of you chaps to attend. I counsel otherwise, for one doesn't know where such exuberance may lead.

20 January 2014 at 18:37  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

As a child, one remembers plenty of ‘blue’ days in the winter. No heating in the bedrooms you see, you found your skin turned that colour...

Still, father having us chopping firewood in the yard in our pyjamas soon warmed us up, ready for the 3 mile walk to school...

20 January 2014 at 18:54  
Blogger non mouse said...

Giles Cattermole says: Have a look at UCCF's 'Uncover' material - especially 'burn your plastic Jesus' and provides a URL. Again, the diction of the young speaker is awful (and patronising); and, in this case, she's clearly reading someone else's words, while her dress suggests that she doesn't quite appreciate the concept of modesty.

Nevertheless, if that sort of thing works as in appealing to the lost generation - so be it. The style is marginally better than the widespread Return to the Jungle.

Further - the piece helps by defining 'plastic Jesus' as: "the Jesus of half-forgotten RE lessons and occasional church services."

I'm not sure the concept of "plasticity" isn't better applied to impressions in the minds of these poorly educated children than to Christ Jesus. However, those who recall science classes, know that "Plastic is "a mouldable substance, esp now (. . .) most of them synthetic, mouldable at some stage under heat or pressure (Chambers).

Thank you, then, Your Grace, for guiding us to support projects that reject misreadings of Christ and His mission. Those interpretations do indeed need re-working :)

20 January 2014 at 19:27  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

This music is not as bad as the Hungarian suicide song called "Gloomy Sunday " which was said to be responsible for an outbreak of suicides and thus banned by several radio stations including the BBC.

20 January 2014 at 19:37  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Anyone fancy having a go at a UK suicide song ? Don’t forget to include we can’t have enough immigration because economic growth depends on it apparently, and having a parliament full of EU quislings. Oh yes, there’s queer marriage and the denial to let the people have a referendum to ‘guide’ our elected representatives

20 January 2014 at 20:49  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Mrs Proudie, Happy Jack says do watch that Slope fellow. He'll be up to no good and certainly be raising more than an eyebrow if he gets his way.

Cressida, Happy Jack enjoys the Billie Holiday version of that song which is a dream. It has an interesting history. Here's some lines of a good anecdote:

Sitting On Top of The World
"I'm sitting on top of the world,
Just rolling along
Just rolling along
I'm quitting the blues of the world
Just singing a song
Just singing a song
Don't want any millions
I'm getting my share
I've only got one suit (one suit)
That's all I can wear
A bundle of money won't make you feel gay*
A sweet little honey is making me say
I'm sitting on top of the world
just rolling along
just rolling along
I'm quitting the blues of the world
Just singing a song
Just singing a song"

(*Gay as in happy and carefree, you understand)

20 January 2014 at 21:12  
Blogger David B said...

Since an update - probably to Adobe - today I keep getting ;page unresponsive' popups, and can only read the start and finish of the comment threads.

Anyone having similar problems?

Any ideas about what to do - if I can read it.


20 January 2014 at 22:07  
Blogger Martin said...

Sin, I am afraid is still with us.

For those outside of Christ it is their master

For those in Christ it is an enemy to be battled every day of their lives.

Sorry about that.

20 January 2014 at 22:24  
Blogger Martin said...


'Adobe what' is the question?

What browser are you using & have you tried using a different one?

20 January 2014 at 22:28  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Martin, Happy Jack isn't meaning to be rude but he just doesn't 'get' Calvinism. Yes, I know, you have another 'denomination', the name Jack can't remember just now, but it is based on Calvin's teachings.

According to your opinions on the bible you are either 'elect' or damned - all decided before hand and there's nothing you can do either way. So what's with the misery? What can you do?

The world's nations are "beasts", according to Carl, and all men, until "called", are totally depraved. The elect just have to make their way through this evil world surrounded by the damned - a bit like the 'Night of the Waking Dead'. The secular authorities are there to control this situation as best they can through law and order. The individual elect are destined for Heaven and just have to make it through as best they can until God takes them home. The rest just stew in their depravity and off to hell for them.

When you say, "For those in Christ it" sin "is an enemy to be battled every day of their lives.", what do you mean? Your own sin - but you're elect and isn't victory assured? Or do you mean the sin of the damned - who the state has to control?

Jack says, come to think of it, whatever you look at it, this is a pretty miserable state of affairs.

Has Jack misunderstood?

20 January 2014 at 23:12  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I wonder why doesn't the CofE broadcast a lovely sermon from the Bishop of London to cheer us up this time of year instead of that twitching fake they've got clad in grey stood next to a brick wall that looks like the outside of a prison.

21 January 2014 at 00:28  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Yes, Jack. You misunderstand.

Btw, the image of the nations as beasts is a Scriptural image. I didn't invent it.



21 January 2014 at 00:34  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Well then Carl, Happy Jack says maybe you could explain. What bit has he misunderstood?

21 January 2014 at 01:39  
Blogger Len said...

I find the concept of' the elect' a rather puzzling one.
God desires 'all' to be saved and says so."This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"
(1 Tim. 2:3-4).

Does this mean all will be saved as God desires...obviously not.. for many are rejecting Jesus Christ the only pathway to salvation.

If the concept of' the elect' is correct then you need do nothing to get saved, and if you are not of the elect there is nothing you can do to get saved.
The only answer to this I can grasp is that God knows the end from the beginning and knows who will accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.

21 January 2014 at 11:46  
Blogger Len said...

'Battling with sin.'
Well this is a pretty universal problem depending on how one defines sin?. Our modern Humanist liberal society is in the process of re- defining or even 'eliminating 'sin(or at least their definition of' sin'.)

Their are two ways of obtaining righteousness with God .One is through God`s 'Law.'only Jesus Christ ever achieved this ..many have tried and many have failed.
The second is through 'Grace' which cannot be earned only received through Faith.
The two are mutually exclusive.
This makes Christianity totally unique and could only have been conceived by God .All other religions are 'performance based'.
When you embrace God`s Grace He empowers you to live free from the power of sin." For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."(Romans 6:14)

Does this mean we become perfect?(I expect you are going to ask?)

No ...Not yet!

But.. if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.(1 John 1:7)

21 January 2014 at 12:09  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


You're description is essentially fatalist. It's a very common caricature but if you think l am a fatalist, then you don't understand what I believe.

Calvinists are monergists. That means we assert that God is totally responsible for salvation. Man does nothing. God does everything. Arminians are synergists. They assert that man must cooperate with God to obtain salvation. The difference contains the contingency that allows a man to credit himself for his destiny.

If you ask a Calvinist "Why does a man go to heaven?" he will give the answer "Because God is good.". If you ask an Arminian "Why does a man go to heaven?" he will give the answer "Because the man is wise." He must. The contingency of synergy requires that the difference between salvation and damnation be intrinsic to the man himself. Thus may the redeemed be separated from the damned by some quality of the redeemed.

That makes all the difference in the world.


21 January 2014 at 12:59  
Blogger Jack Harrison said...

Didn't we appease a certain ideology 75 years ago? We are doing exactly the same today in trying to be "nice" to certain groups who take offence over the most trivial matters.

Keith Harrison, Argyll & Bute

21 January 2014 at 14:26  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

CarlThus may the redeemed be separated from the damned by some quality of the redeemed.

I find this a very interesting statement, Carl. I don't think I've ever seen such a plain and straightforward statement of what it is that Calvinists reject.

Is it true to say that, as far as any living mortal being is able to ascertain, it is entirely possible that Cain was saved and Abel damned?

Or, if you prefer (since Cain and Abel lived before the Redemption), is it entirely possible that, alone among the Twelve, only Judas Iscariot was saved?

Or, to take an instance from modern history, is it entirely possible that, as far as any living mortal being is able to ascertain, Cardinal Richelieu was saved and John Calvin was damned?

Carl, this may sound like a parody but please believe me that my purpose is entirely serious. I'd like to get to the bottom of what I see as a theological puzzle of the first magnitude. A test drive seems like a good way of going about it.


21 January 2014 at 14:30  
Blogger Len said...

If man does nothing to get saved ...then everyone is saved regardless of what you do unless of course you are one of the unfortunate who is not as member of the elect.

This rather rules out having a Saviour because you were saved anyway?.
I think I had better leave this one alone religion is confusing enough as it is, Thank God that we have the Holy Spirit to guide us as He understands salvation better than we do.

21 January 2014 at 15:10  
Blogger Len said...

I think the pathway to salvation can be compared to either having a map or having a guide.
Now we have the map(the Bible) but everyone has a different interpretation of what the map says, some say it points that way others another way.So we start of trying to work out which direction we should be going in.The more input we have the more confused we get.Then we have men who gather in groups and declare that their way is correct and if you do not agree with them they will throw you out of their club.(Which in actuality is a good thing because you might then be able to find the Guide to direct you)
So you can either go on regardless hoping you have found the right route(at last) or you can admit defeat and ask the Guide to direct you,( which is His job description after all).'The guide' is of course the Holy Spirit.

21 January 2014 at 15:24  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


If man does nothing to get saved ...then everyone is saved regardless of what you do unless of course you are one of the unfortunate who is not as member of the elect.

Not quite... But Jesus did say

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day"

John 6

Not quite the same as what you are saying. Nobody will chose God without God's intervention in their lives. You talk about a map, but we don't get a map at all, we get God in the car with us telling us where to turn next.


21 January 2014 at 16:00  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


To clarify. If we had a map then we would be partially responsible for our own salvation. We could say we earned our place in heaven by following the correct route and not straying off the road.

A map means effectively we are our own saviour.

The Pharisees thought they had a map and tried very hard to save themselves every day.


21 January 2014 at 16:03  
Blogger Jack Harrison said...

Someone explain "...the pathway to salvation..."

I have no requirement to be "saved". (in any case, from what?). A very strange concept that implies need to be rescued(from something).

Oh yes, just remembered from school lessons 65 years ago. "Original sin" and all that business. Most peculiar.


21 January 2014 at 16:10  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


I am not sure I understand your question. So I will answer according to what I think you are asking.

The identity of the Elect is tied into God's plan, and God's plan is constrained by His perfection and His immutability. To suggest that the identity of the Elect could have been different is to suggest that God could have established a more perfect plan. So, no, the Elect are rooted in God's sovereign choice. There is no possibility that it could have been different.

What troubles us about Election is that God gives almost no basis for His choice. We perceive the choice as arbitrary - almost as if God cast lots and the lot fell to me. That offends us because it removes from us the possibility of entitlement. It is the nature of man to seek to earn his place. Election cuts right across this desire. We much prefer to think that man is (shall we say) 'neutral' until he decides for or against Christ. That way his presence in heaven is dependent upon himself. He was offered the choice. He made the right choice. God is pleased with him because he made the right choice. Man become the actor. He is the subject of salvation and not the object.

So what do I offer in place of this ego-gratifying mechanism? We are the foolish chosen to shame the wise. We are the blind and the halt and the lame taken to the wedding banquet. We are the man born blind who us incapable of seeing what is right before him until the eyes are opened. We are the anti-pride of man. We are those upon whom God has chosen to set His favor - even though we deserve none of it.

Everything God does has purpose. But He does not do to satisfy the ego of man. That's our problem and our offense.


21 January 2014 at 17:02  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

carl jacobs

Thank you, Carl. Yes, Carl, you understood my question perfectly and your post goes a long way toward answering it. Please understand that I'm groping my way -- I'm just trying to proceed one step at a time. When I say you've gone a long way toward answering my question, there is still at least one missing piece, which has to do with knowledge. Can a Calvinist ever state with certainty, "I know for a fact that I am saved"? Can a Calvinist ever state with certainty, "I know for a fact that I am damned"? Or can he say either of those things about somebody else -- for example, "I know for a fact that Judas Iscariot is damned" or "I know for a fact that St Paul is saved?"

21 January 2014 at 19:11  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Carl, Happy Jack came across this 'parable' written by Christians of some denomination or other (Credo House Ministries?). It looks at the differences between churches on divine sovereignty, free-will, and salvation and at "synergism" and "monergism".

All the people are in the boat with the God. At this point, in their natural condition, they don’t need to be saved as they are not in danger. However, most (if not all) people will eventually jump in the water (sin) and find themselves in need of God’s grace. The reason why they jump in the water is because they are following others who jumped. This example goes all the way back to the first two who jumped into the water, setting the first bad example. God them offers them a life preserver when they call on him for help. If they respond they will be saved (synergism).

All people are in the water drowning. They are born drowning. This is the natural habitation of all humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water. They cannot swim to safety on their own. However, they may desire salvation on their own. Though they cannot attain it, they can call to God who is eagerly waiting. At the first sign of their initiative, God will then throw out the life preserver (grace). If they respond, they will be saved (synergism).

Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy
All people are in the water drowning. They are born drowning. This is the natural habitation of all humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water (original sin). They cannot swim to safety on their own. God makes the first initiative by throwing a life preserver to them (prevenient grace). Upon seeing this act, they make a decision to grab a hold (faith) or to swim away. If they grab a hold, God will slowly pull the rope connected to the life preserver. But they must do their part by swimming along with God’s pull (grace plus works; synergism). If at any time they let go or quit swimming, they will not be saved.

All people are floating in the water dead in their natural condition (total depravity). They are born dead because that has been the condition of humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water and died (original sin). Death begets death. There must be intervention if they are to be saved. God uses his power to bring every one of them back to life (prevenient grace), but they are still in the water and in danger of drowning. With the regenerated ability to respond to God, now God throws the life preserver to them and calls on them all to grab hold of it. They then make the free-will decision on their own to grab a hold of the life preserver (faith) or to swim away. If they grab a hold, they must continue to hold as God pulls them in (synergism). They don’t need to do anything but hold on. Any effort to swim and aid God is superfluous (sola fide). They can let go of the preserver at any time and, as a consequence, lose their salvation.

All people are floating in the water dead in their natural condition (total depravity). They are born dead because that has been the condition of humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water and died (original sin). Death begets death. There must be radical intervention if they are to be saved. Due to his mysterious choice, God brings back to life (regeneration) only certain people (election) while passing by the rest (reprobation). He does not use a life preserver, but grabs a hold of the elect individually and immediately pulls them onto the boat (monergism). They naturally grab a hold of God as a consequence of their regeneration (irresistible grace; sola fide). They forever stay on the boat due to their perpetual ability to recognize God’s beauty (perseverance of the saints).

Jack asks if this is a reasonable representation of the differences between the main traditions? It is probably oversimplistic

21 January 2014 at 22:04  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

The Inspector was born dead (ignorant) but was brought to life by tea (a drink) and single malt (an even better drink). That he survives at all today is down to his ability to purchase the aforementioned.

21 January 2014 at 22:46  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Jack /Kieth

Being saved to me is accepting God's love and thereafter making God the centre of you life.

The process can be short or long, but for many never happens, so they never experience the joy and contentment salvation brings


21 January 2014 at 23:50  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Phil R, Happy Jack says the questions that appears to divide Christians (and for Jack is mysterious) is the event or process of "acceptance", how God becomes and remains the centre of our lives and why for some it never happens?

One Bible, one Holy Spirit and so many answers all claiming authority.

Inspector, Happy Jack observes it may be time for a more solid diet.

22 January 2014 at 01:31  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

The video reminded me of a cartoon in Private Eye 10 years or so back about a certain best selling 'inspirational' book.

Men are from Mars
Women are from Venus
Pop psychology is from Uranus

22 January 2014 at 05:26  
Blogger Len said...

The Bible describes the union between man and Christ as' a marriage' between groom and bride. 'A union.'
The question I ask is can one get married without actively participating in the act at all ?.
This would mean we had no free will at all!.
We must desire marriage and actively pursue it.

This' union' may seem a strange concept to some but this is a spiritual union not a a physical one". He who is joined to Christ is one spirit with Him,If he is not he does not belong to Him"

Which is probably why God forbids same sex unions because it totally destroys the concept of the spiritual union by mixing the spiritual union with a physical one.

22 January 2014 at 09:19  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Inspector General

You have given me cause for anxiety about your health, Inspector. Surely you must be aware of the hazards of tea drinking? No doubt you will recollect the distressing case history of Buffy Struggles, but in case your memory needs refreshing, you will find it in Chapter 1 of Summer Lightning by P.G. Wodehouse.

22 January 2014 at 10:41  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Uncle Brian, the hazards of NOT drinking tea are well documented. This, the most esteemed of all hot beverages, a gift from God no less (along with tobacco, when taken in moderation), has proven itself to be the single driving factor in what has made the British nation world successful, probably. Nations for whom tea is a relative stranger are inherently lesser as a result. Serves them right, of course…

It is said that having turfed Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, and knowing what grief lay ahead for them, God threw a tea bush at Adam and told Eve to plant and care for it. For lo, he loved Adam. When Eve complained that she had no parting gift, God said, “Oh yes you have my girl, you’ll be calling it the monthly curse to begin with. That will stop you hanging around with snakes. But you can always brew up during the worst of it.”

Our merciful creator at his most understanding…

By the way, a pleasure to meet a Fats Waller appreciator. And if he was around during your time, you must be quite a senior chap in the age stakes. Well done for coming through it all until now, Sir !!

22 January 2014 at 18:36  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


Quite so.

That is why we are called the Sons of God and Brides of Christ.

Not that we are actually sons and brides but we have the status of sons and brides.

Gender does not come into it so I would not be ashamed of being a bride and women should not object to being Sons

I don't see where you are going with the reference to homosexuality. Clearly they can be Sons and Brides also as Jesus has paid the price for sin. I would say if they cannot be sons and Brides then nobody can.

We all sin Len... (Well certainly I do). I certainly don't believe that I am saved by being a heterosexual!


22 January 2014 at 19:24  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Inspector General

Just to set the record straight, I may have inadvertently given you the impression that I’m even older than I really am. I’ve just been doing some googling and I realise that Fats Waller died young. They must have gone on playing his records on the radio – or on the wireless, as we called it then – for quite a long time after his death. The same thing happened with Glenn Miller, I think. In fact the two, I’ve now discovered, were almost exact contemporaries, born in the same year and they died within a year of one another. Ain’t Misbehavin’ and A String of Pearls were both tunes that I remember trying to whistle at a tender age.

22 January 2014 at 20:29  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

One understands you Uncle Brian. The Inspector only started rocking his pram from side to side towards the end of Fats Domino’s chart success. But the musical magic was played on the wireless for years after. The BBC Light programme, of course...

22 January 2014 at 21:09  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack is disappointed nobody commented on his post of 21 January @ 22:04. Perhaps it was too long winded or uninteresting.

Jack considers one of the basic divides in Christianity is between "synergism" and "monergism". Both can be supported and contradicted by scripture.

If you are a person who believes that once God gives us grace we then have to co-operate in some way with our salvation, then all sorts of complicated things have to be worked out - and people fall out over the biblical and traditional detail of this. But if you are a monergist, then you think God alone has already decided to save you, does all the work and gives you the grace to persevere to the end.

Now Jack quite likes the idea of monergism - provided he is one of the 'elect' God has chosen before he was born. Otherwise, he prefers to believe God has called him and will give him all the help, and more, he needs along the way but Jack also has to make some sort of an effort too.

22 January 2014 at 23:01  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Happy Jack

There is something puzzling about it that I’ve been trying to pinpoint, first in a conversation with Martin and more recently with Carl Jacobs. In both cases, unfortunately, the conversations petered out without ever reaching a conclusion. What puzzles me is something like this. A monergist can say to himself, as a statement (as he sees it) of objective fact, “I am either saved or damned and in either case there is nothing I can do to change that.” But if you observe the Calvinist churches – the Baptists, Presbyterians, and others -- the people seem, by the things they do and the kind of lives they lead, to be trying very hard to please God. It as if they were, in fact, making an effort to become saved.

So why should they do that if they know it can’t make a difference? One possible reason might be that each one of them knows for a fact that he or she, as an individual, is already saved. But how can anyone know that? Where can that knowledge come from?

23 January 2014 at 09:35  
Blogger Len said...

Phil Roberts, What I was trying to explain was that the relationship between a man and wife(woman) illustrates the union between man and God.The man and the woman become one in spirit.United.
This is the divine order.

If we start mixing up this divine order to suit ourselves or our sexual preferences then we open up the possibility of becoming attached to spirits other than God`s.
That is possibly why God hates 'mixture'.

23 January 2014 at 11:27  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


Yeah, I apologize for letting the conversation drop. I have been traveling the last couple of days and I usually just don't feel like posting on trips. Those posts on Tuesday were made from airport terminals while waiting for flights.

To answer your earlier question, I would say that man is a limited and finite creature. He is by nature incapable of asserting anything with certainty. He is however capable of asserting with sufficiency. A man can know something sufficiently without knowing it perfectly. Example. I can know my location sufficient to navigate successfully without knowing my position perfectly.

The quest for certainty is a trap. It leads to doubt when a man finds that certainty cannot be achieved. The standard is impossible for man to achieve.


23 January 2014 at 12:43  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Carl, Happy Jack agrees a "quest for certainty" by individual men over their own particular salvation status at any given time is a silly thing to do. Jack also questions whether it is biblical.

However, the theological imperatives of "monergism" suggests to Jack those who think this way would be inclined towards doing so. Surely they would answer they are saved, they have been pulled into the boat by God and will stay there? Aren't they doing what pleases God and fighting sin, because they have the God given perseverance of saints?

23 January 2014 at 14:32  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Bienkowski's mantra: "I have breath, I have life, I have shelter, I am here"

Paul's mantras: "Having food and clothing, we shall be content with these."

"we are confident, I say, and pleased rather to be absent from the body and present with the Lord." (i.e. - not here)

Given that the #countyourblessings hastag has been just a little bit hijacked, might it be permitted to quote it and so bring back memories from when I sang it as a kid? (emphasis mine)

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings— money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

I want to go out of my way to help this geezer, but I don't know how...

23 January 2014 at 15:00  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Hello again, Carl. Nice to hear from you again. I hope you had a good trip.

I'll be happy to pick up where we left off, if that’s okay by you. Your contrasting pair of “sufficient knowledge” versus “perfect knowledge” is new to me, but at first sight I’d say I’m happy to take it at face value, at least for the time being. But, just at the moment, let me ask you something else. Please look at these two assertions that in my comment addressed to Happy Jack, I was imagining that a Calvinist might say to himself.

(a) “I know that I am either saved or damned and that, in either case, there is nothing I can do to change that.”

(b) “I know for a fact that I am saved.”

(a) Is a general statement about all mankind (or at least about all mankind since the Redemption) while (b) is a statement about a single individual, namely the speaker him or herself. Leaving aside (for the moment) the distinction between perfect knowledge and sufficient knowledge, am I at least correct is assuming that some Calvinists, or even perhaps all Calvinists, would be able to make both those statements in good faith?


23 January 2014 at 16:49  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


I am currently sitting in the terminal waiting to see if I can get upgraded to First Class. That would be a pleasant moment in an otherwise unpleasant trip. I am hoping. Flight boards in 30 minutes.

The believer can say with sufficiency that he is saved. Why? Because his salvation is not dependent on what he does. It depends on what Christ has done. The "Am I really saved" concern usually originates in a concern about being "good enough" for God. The point of the Gospel is that you aren't good enough. You never will be.

The idea that my destiny is immutable one of the most comforting aspects of the Gospel. God is my Father. He will not lose sight of me. He will not forget me. He will not let me go. Its the complement of Hebrews where it is written "Whom He loves He chastens." I cling to that. Why? I am a father. I only discipline my own children. To know that God disciplines me is proof of His fatherhood.

What God has established cannot be moved. That is the security of the believer. He works in me to display His glory and He guarantees the outcome. It no longer rests on the fallible vagaries of man but on the unchangeable promise of God.

As it us written: "Salvation is of the LORD."


23 January 2014 at 17:16  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


I see know necessary connection between monergism and a need for certainty. However I do understand how a Roman Catholic such as yourself would have difficulty with perseverance. It conflicts directly with the Roman blending of justification and sanctification.


23 January 2014 at 17:21  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


God is my Father. He will not lose sight of me. He will not forget me.

Is this true of some people but not of others? Or is it true of all mankind without exception?

23 January 2014 at 17:31  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Ummm ... 'no necessary connection.' As always I blame Microsoft for that unfortunate autocorrect.


23 January 2014 at 17:31  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


No it is not true if all humanity. It was not true of Esau. It was not true of Goliath. It was not true of Pharaoh. It is true of the elect by virtue of adoption. We are all of us by nature children of the devil. We bear his nature. But God has chosen to adopt a people for Himself. To those He gives the right to say "Abba Father."


23 January 2014 at 17:37  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Carl, you quote the names of three men who all lived before the Redemption, which might conceivably make a difference.

John 3.16, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Does "the world" here mean the whole world, i.e. all humanity, which on the face of it I would say is the meaning probably intended? Or does it mean some people but not others?

23 January 2014 at 17:52  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


And anyway, the language used in Genesis and 1 Samuel about the baddies – the enemies, respectively, of Isaac, David, and Moses – does not allow us to conclude that these three had been damned by God from all eternity, rather than the alternative reading that they were damned because of their own evil acts. They were free to accept God, and if they had done so they would have been saved, but they didn’t, so they weren’t. As I say, an alternative reading that cannot, I believe, be refuted, contradicted or disproved from the evidence of the Biblical texts.

23 January 2014 at 18:59  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Not Isaac but Jacob, I mean. Sorry for the slip.

And in any case, the whole thrust of both books, at least from Abraham onward, is that the Lord is saving the children of Israel from their enemies. So Pharaoh, an Egyptian, and Goliath, a Philistine, weren't even in the running for salvation. That leaves Esau and of him, I think, it can certainly be said that the text is fully consistent with the alternative reading, that whatever condemnation he incurred was punishment for his evil acts, not preordained by God's unilateral decision.

23 January 2014 at 19:15  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Carl, Happy Jack points out it is not only Roman Catholics who believe man must respond to and cooperate with God's grace in some way to be saved. God takes the initiative and man responds. Most Christians believe this. It is only Calvinists who don't. All Christians believe our salvation depends on what Christ has done.

Calvinists sees one's destiny as immutable and entirely due to a preordained choice by God. He brings certain people back to life (regeneration) and only saves certain people (election) while passing by the rest (reprobation). God just grabs hold of the elect and saves them. They keep hold of God as a consequence of their regeneration (irresistible grace; sola fide) and stay saved due to their entirely God given ability to persevere.

Are you saying all Protestants are Calvinists? Jack believes God takes the initiative by offering grace and faith to us. If we respond, God will save us but we have to play our part too. Very many Anglicans believe this too.

23 January 2014 at 22:48  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 January 2014 at 13:58  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 January 2014 at 14:45  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older