Can we give colonialism a moral reckoning?


John Root writes: In the mid 1930s my wife’s parents migrated from Kerala in South India to Malaya. My father-in-law got a job as a civil servant. When war threatened in the Far East my mother-in-law returned to Kerala with her two infant sons. The speed of the Japanese advance prevented my father-in-law from following her and so for the next five years they were separated, with no news of each other. During this time the colonial government in India paid her as the wife of a colonial civil servant, giving her dignity and independence as a woman. Was this the crafty British doling out a pittance in order to keep the oppressed docile? Or was it a good government fulfilling its legal obligations in a humanitarian spirit? She was certainly appreciative and, a Hindu, believed it was also because they were Christians.

The centuries of British colonial rule produced countless billions of interactions between rulers and ruled. If some seem benignly positive, others were definitely not. It was accumulating accounts of the negatives that recently led to the Scottish actor, Alan Cumming, to return the OBE he received fourteen years ago, because ‘the way the British Empire profited at the expense (and death) of indigenous peoples across the world really opened my eyes’.

His fellow Scot, Nigel Biggar, Emeritus Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, would argue that Cumming’s eyes are short-sighted and far too narrowly focused. He seeks to provide a deeper and more balanced analysis of the whole phenomenon of British colonialism in his book Colonialism: a moral reckoning. In this article I want to look at the material in the book; in another I hope to step back and look at the wider issues raised by the expansion of western European power across much of the world.

The ground covered

After an opening chapter on ‘Motives, Good and Bad’ the bulk of the book is then seven chapters covering the main areas of controversy surrounding colonialism: slavery, cultural superiority and racism, settlers and conquest, cultural assimilation and ‘Genocide’, exploitation, nationalism, and a long final section on ‘Justified Force and ‘Pervasive Violence’, at times countering the fiercest and most recent attack on British colonialism by the Harvard professor Caroline Elkins: ‘Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire’.

Each chapter includes both a broad discussion of the topic as Biggar works his way through the general issues, but also includes very close study of around twenty of the most controversial incidents. His thorough use of sources is indicated by the fact that almost 300 pages of text are supported by 140 pages of footnotes, some over a page long and carrying on the debates in greater detail.

The Controversies

The main text ends with both a Conclusion and an Epilogue—in effect about a controversy and then a controversy about a controversy. The controversy is with those who have ‘rushed to judgement and condemn British colonialism as a whole for its racist, rapacious, exploitative, violent ‘logic’, talking of ‘colonialism’ and ‘slavery’ in the same breath as if they were identical’ (p 274). Biggar has sought to provide ‘a better, more complicated, more discriminate’ judgement, partly using the strategies that I list below.

Clearly, defending the entire colonial record is a hopeless enterprise. Biggar recognises the brutality often involved, the contempt often expressed for local people, the abuse of power, the racial arrogance. He quotes the Indian Nirad Chaudhuri as speaking for a wider range of colonial subjects in 1926:

There is one source from which bitterness against Europe is being replenished constantly. It is wounded national and personal self-respect (p 212).

The book is not an attempt to draw up a balance sheet in favour of British colonialism, but it does seek to argue that the simplistic and wholescale dismissal of colonialism that Alan Cumming takes to be the overwhelming reality needs setting against the historical reality of how things actually happened. Kenan Malik’s review in The Guardian rightly listed the brutalities and racial arrogance that accompanied colonialism, but that does not answer Biggar’s case that the critics of colonialism have too often been ‘overegging the sins of British colonialism’ (p 290), and further that it included good intentions and good outcomes, even though mixed with greed as well as with ignorance. Rather, the restricted gaze onto only the evils of British colonialism ends up in a bizarre and self-contradictory ‘anti-racist Eurocentrism’.

This leads on to the wider controversy, also raised in the Introduction, that an unnuanced and inaccurate condemnation of colonialism weakens confidence in the liberal values of the West at a time of global conflict, and that the benefits that were woven into colonialism need recognising and sustaining. The tardy response of the Majority World to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine underlines the fact that allowing the misdeeds of colonialism to obscure its equally real humanitarian virtues leads to a dangerously casual assessment of the present threat to those virtues.

Running themes

Biggar’s aim to provide a ‘more complicated, more discriminate’ assessment of British Colonialism means several themes re-occur in his attempt to provide an historically sounder account.

Judge the past in its context

A major emphasis of Biggar is that he has a historian’s commitment to understand the past as people at that time experienced it. Was it because of ‘pervasive racism’, as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission argues, that the graves of many non-European casualties in the First World War were unmarked—or did that in fact reflect different African burial customs? Was British rule in North America, Australia or Africa extended out of ‘sheer acquisitiveness’? Or was it that, quoting Ronald Hyam (p 122)

the brutal alternative would have been rule by irresponsible European adventurers, armed with all the resources of their civilisation to work their selfish will as they wished, without any superior control at all.

Frequently at the time, the choices were the lesser of two evils. Biggar catches the existential pressures faced at the time by historical actors with an imaginative realism too often absent from polemicist critics.

Biggar recognises that the course of history is made as we go along, often in a fog of considerable ignorance, not as critics often seem to assume, something that we can plan with the clear light of hindsight. It is possible that Alan Cumming may well have been inspired to return his OBE by reading Sathnam Sanghera’s popular ‘Empireland’, which describes in three gruesome and strongly polemical pages the fate of the Aboriginal Tasmanians in the 1830s, quoting Robert Hughes reference to it as ‘the only true genocide in English colonial history’, but with no other supporting references. Biggar gives fuller treatment, plus seven pages of footnotes engaging with a wide variety of sources, and including almost a page responding to Sanghera. Bigger references the role of disease and tribal warfare in the decimation of the population, not mentioned either by Sanghera, or by Kehinde Andrews’ even briefer account in The New Age of Empire, on which nonetheless Sanghera relies.

There was widespread local consent

In 1901 the Indian population numbered nearly 300 million, the local British population was 154,691—a ratio approaching 1 in 2,000; in Kenya the ratio was 1 in 19,000; in Nigeria 1 in 54,000. Either, as some theorists as Franz Fanon would allege, they all suffered from a deluded ‘false consciousness’ leading to unquestioning acceptance of colonial domination—or colonial rule received widespread consent, often because it was an improvement on what went before. The large and widespread Commonwealth contingents who volunteered to fight for Britain in World War 2, now given belated recognition and emphasis, is also seen to indicate a substratum of loyalty to Britain and its values

What happened next?

Correspondingly, the end of colonial rule was not always a benefit. Was the fisherman in Port Royal who told me (in 1973) that life in Jamaica was better before independence trying to impress a white visitor, or was he speaking from lived experience? The novelist Chinua Achebe reflects that during the British days:

governance then was not so decrepit, bribery not so rampant, favouritism not so common, corruption and plunder of public funds not so pervasive, injustice not so blatant, and bureaucracy not so partisan as today (p 202).

When, after a full examination of the Amritsar Massacre in 1919 in which at least 379 protestors died, Biggar points out that in 1984 the Indian government’s siege of the Golden Temple in Amritsar at least 493 Sikhs died, with other reports claiming far greater numbers. That could be dismissed as a rather low tit-for-tat riposte by Biggar, but is perhaps better seen as establishing his point that all governments find unruly populations hard to handle and that tragedies happen. The alternative is the patronising assumption that we should expect less from Indian governments than British colonial ones.

Empire is a universal phenomenon

Biggar first came to widespread attention with his ‘Ethics and Empire’ project, or more particularly the intense vituperation it aroused. At its centre was his intention to rescue ‘imperialism’ and ‘colonialism’ from being automatically pejorative terms. That involved both emphasising the ‘normalcy’ of empire, in the past and across the globe, and therefore developing comparative analyses of empires, not treating it as an exclusively western European, primarily British, development.

Rather than ‘colonialism’ being an abnormal intrusion of one nation imposing itself on another, it was the everyday experience of people in a very wide variety of contexts (including, of course, in both the the Old and New Testaments):

the imperial form of political organisation was common across the world and throughout history until 1945 (p 2).

The Comanches in North America and Benin in West Africa also created empires. To treat ‘colonialism’ as being intrinsically wrong fails to see multifarious, and at times positive, ways in which one group of people exercises power over another. ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ is a serious question.


On any reckoning Colonialism: a Moral Reckoning is a highly impressive book. Biggar covers a vast historical and geographical panorama, has mastered and debated in detail many of the most of the contentious sequences of events. The shameful attempts of other academics to side-line his views (more often, as he points out, literary theorists rather than historians) and the refusal of his original publisher, Bloomsbury, to carry the book indicates a horrifying level of bigotry against views which are argued with considerable attention to historical detail and context. They are also expressed rationally, rather than in the emotive and polemical tones of many of his critics. It is good, too, to find a leading Anglican doing other than repeating the fashionable, progressive views of ten years previously.

But is he correct? Hopefully he will no longer be cold-shouldered and over time his arguments will be peer reviewed for their accuracy and judiciousness by fellow historians. (Whilst I was pleased that he foot-noted my blog ‘Sewell vs Runnymede?’, he was in fact inaccurate in taking Sewell to say ‘that contemporary Britain is not in fact structurally racist’ (p 289)—a claim made by many of Sewell’s critics to discredit the Report whilst seeming not to have read it. Rather, Sewell stated that the term is used too loosely and imprecisely and that the process not the outcome needs to be identified, but not that the term necessarily abandoned).

Biggar is right to stress the importance of careful and contextualised analysis of specific historical events. He also rightly gives attention to the positive experiences of colonial subjects, which is too widely ignored or discredited in order to make a seamless narrative of colonial oppression. Nonetheless the book gives little sense of the emotional pain that memories of colonialism often generate. An interesting case is the very generous indemnities paid to slaveholders on emancipation. Kenan Malik’s review rebukes Biggar for failing to grasp the moral issue involved. Biggar’s argument that it was a lesser evil than allowing slavery to continue for the unknowable period until Parliament could be persuaded to accept abolition without compensation is contextually sound, but one can understand it still leaves a bitter taste for those descended from the uncompensated slaves.

In his ‘moral reckoning’ on colonialism Biggar concludes ‘It was not essentially racist, exploitative or wantonly violent’ (p 297), but perhaps he is doing the ‘over-egging’ here. Whilst ‘racism’ is an elusive term to define, in a ‘hard’ definition there were times when there was widespread belief in the ontological superiority of Britons; in a ‘soft’ definition such superiority was often a working assumption even if it was seen as neither permanent nor lacking in exceptions. As for being ‘exploitative’, clearly Britain expected her colonies to be profitable, hopefully with indigenous societies also benefitting at times, but at other times—with Caribbean slavery as a centrally important instance—it was brazen exploitation. As for ‘wantonly violent’, whilst Biggar’s clear-eyed recognition of the legitimate necessity of force (an earlier book was In Defence of War) is bracing and responsible, wanton violence was frequent under Caribbean slavery, and that used after the Indian Mutiny/First War of Independence surely was often deliberately cruel and vengeful.

Virtually all writers on colonialism agree that you cannot draw up a credit/debit balance sheet, and then surreptitiously seem to be doing so. In the current academic, and increasingly popular, environment where the debit side is seen to be incontestably correct, Biggar’s articulate, scholarly, fully researched and largely unpolemical counter lands its impressive weight very largely on the credit side. It deserves widespread attention, close scrutiny and open-ended discussion.

John Root was a curate in Harlesden, led an estate church plant in Hackney, planted two Asian language congregations in Wembley, before enjoying retirement ministry in Tottenham. This article was previously published at John’s substack here.

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77 thoughts on “Can we give colonialism a moral reckoning?”

  1. Thanks John, that is a great review – I will have to add the book to my list and read it alongside Empireland that I was given at Christmas.

  2. I find it fascinating that our society is, on one hand, rightly critiquing it’s colonialist past, recognising historic faults, whilst on the other hand is practising global cultural colonialism.

    In the 19th century colonialism hid in plain sight under the cloak of exploration and industrialisation. Some aspects were excellent, many questionable, some abhorrent.

    In the 20th century it was called “progress” and was mainly concerned with technological development. The underbelly of this movement, however, held that people in developing countries were somehow backward, less developed and not quite so human as those in Europe and North America. The “natives”, it was often said, needed to learn from their colonial matters.

    Today it’s called “progressivism”, and it seeks to propagate itself globally: cultural colonialism actioned through the media, online and via coercive economic policies of both nation states and international conglomerates. This worldview sees itself as forward thinking and self-evidently true. By implication, progressivism sees any other worldview as ‘behind the times’, ‘backward’ and ‘less developed’, even ‘less human’ in some way. This is rather unfortunate when many Asian and African cultures see the world differently and don’t hold progressivism’s values. Africa and Asia (but also minority western worldviews such as, but not limited to, Christianity) are seen as deficient, backward, and in need of being ‘made like us more developed westerners’. This is a type of colonialism more insidious than that which went before. Indeed, it claims to abhor colonialism whilst practising it.

  3. thanks Ian for republishing John’s blog, as usual insightful and important. I will try to get round to reading Biggar’s book, which deserves engagement and debate. I can see how the Empire had some mitigating aspects, usually where individual people, often Christians showed kindness and often worked as though they meant to do good or at least minimise harm. Yet often in a top down and patronising way. That said I remain convinced that the British Empire and most others were systematically evil and institutionally racist.

    From the review I get the impression that Biggar does not really understand the feelings and ongoing trauma of colonial subjects and their present day descendants, and why the current revaluation of history, and postcolonial studies,and theology is so important. I wonder how much Biggar has engaged with the witness, voices and historical research of those who were on the underside of Imperial racism and oppression, or whether he has taken Black and other liberation theologies seriously. If not then I think he could be stuck in a “whiteness” paradigm and not fully appreciate his own positionality.

    But as I said I need to read the book.

    • ‘That said I remain convinced that the British Empire and most others were systematically evil and institutionally racist’… you mean like all other colonialism, which has marked almost all of history?

      ‘whether he has taken Black and other liberation theologies seriously’. You can take something seriously, and believe the evidence shows that they are wrong.

      The idea that looking carefully at the facts is a ‘whiteness paradigm’ demonstrates the very problem we are in, does it not?

    • Thanks Greg for your comments. I would like to unpack ‘the feelings and ongoing trauma of colonial subjects and their present day descendants.’
      1. That rings true for the legacy of Caribbean slavery. Visiting Jamaica & Nigeria in the 70s there was a clear difference & that Nigeria simply didn’t feel like a place that had been oppressed. In the bearing of African Caribbeans and West Africans in Tottenham High Road now my sense is that there are still clear though hard to define differences.
      2. My Indian/Malaysian relatives certainly aren’t traumatised, and I find the phrase inappropriate for most South Asians I know. (My blog will soon carry a review of ‘The Priest from Pakistan by Rev Amelia Jacob which illustrates that).
      3. Life has been hard for most people in most places most of the time. It has been for most white people until a century ago. It was hard before colonialism, which is why as Bigger points out people accepted colonial rule by a very small number of people for quite long periods. It has been hard, and in many instances even harder after the end of colonial rule. Rule, apart from a privileged few recently around the North Atlantic, has always been ‘top down’ – whether it was done in an orderly way mattered more than the ethnicity of the ruler.
      4. So the re-evaluation of history is important – but Bigger is right to contest aspects of it and attempt to seriously assess what has happened in a field where simplistic polemics can distort the past.
      5, White people can be patronising, arrogant and brutal. Bigger recognises that, but a fair comment is that the book doesn’t reflect a strong sense of what it is like to be under it. That humbled awareness of the pain and injustice we have inflicted is important.

      • ‘Biggar’, not ‘Bigger’.

        I wonder if experience has a lot to do with one’s social class. My late father-in-law was a Chinese in Malaya, then Singapore. He came from a wealthy background and had a very British education before going to Cambridge.
        Were not many of the Indians in Malaya brought in as rubber plantation workers? As I understand it, Keralans are great migrant workers and their nurses keep the hospitals going in the Gulf and elsewhere – presumably an outcome of British missionary work which encouraged the education of girls. Similarly, there are many Filipino nurses today because of American missionary education work.
        The Malay majority, on the other hand, being Muslim and already settled on the land, seemed to stay largely outside the ambit of British influence, and since independence Malaysia and Singapore have had to grapple with multi-racialism and racial conflict.
        What we do see, of course, is that colonialism in Africa especially ended up creating rather artificial states composed of different tribes, linguistic groups and religions, meaning violence was pretty much inevitable. Nigeria is an obvious case, so is Sudan. But the Treaty of Versailles did the same.
        As the review notes, empire is an ancient and universal phenomenon, and it is not difficult to identify racial conflicts today which long antecede – and postcede – the British empire (Rohingya in Burma, Darfur, Omoro vs. Amhara in Ethiopia).

        There is a good interview of Nigel Biggar on the Triggernometry youtube programme with Kisin and Foster.

          • Well, at least it didn’t make him a poor Beggar.
            I call the function ‘autowrong’.
            I remember meeting you (and briefly, your wife) when I was a theological student more than 30 years ago. IIRC, you had written a Grove booklet on race relations.
            Nigel Biggar is certainly a remarkable scholar (was he a successor to Oliver O’Donovan?) , tackling issues like natural law, rights, war and now the ethical evaluation of empire.
            He was also one of the few Christ Church Scholars to defend the former Dean, Martyn Percy, with whom I’m sure he would have had many theological disagreements.

      • Such an interesting post, that challenges so many lazy assumptions. I’ve long been concerned about the unnuanced views of a number of subjects, like the generally accepted view of the evil Whites enslaving Africans – which is true, and was wholly evil – while ignoring completely the fact that those who were being sold as slaves to the white slavers had first been captured as slaves by local tribes. Slavery is normal in all sorts of cultures.

        It would have been even more helpful if there had been some treatment of how things were prior to white colonialism. This seems always to be forgotten by those treating this subject.

      • Hi Anton, here is a link to a basic explanation of generational trauma as outlined in the context of family therapy,effects%20of%20a%20historical%20event.
        I’m not the author of the post using the terminology ongoing trauma, but if I may, I’d like to offer some reflections on what ‘ongoing trauma’ looks like at a broad level in Australia (but obviously felt acutely personally by indigenous peoples). I should qualify my remarks: I am not indigenous; I am an Anglo Australian.
        Ongoing trauma for Australian indigenous peoples refers to the fact that the dislocation from land, language, family and culture (because your land was stolen, your children were taken and placed in institutions/white families to be ‘civilized’ & forbidden from speaking native language) plays out down the generations and contributes to social disadvantage in myriad ways. It means families are fractured from land (so identity, spirituality, culture) and one another, living with far higher incidences of substance addiction, 20 year lower life expectancy than non indigenous Australians; incarceration rates 24 times higher than a non-indigenous person, poverty, lower education etc etc. Indigenous Australians didn’t get the vote/citizenship until 1967, and yet fought in both World Wars.
        We (Anglo Australians – and all who came after 1788) have a lot to reckon with here, and we have a terrible track record in recognizing that from which we’ve benefited (and still do). Currently one of the national conversations is about changing our 122 year old Constitution so it recognises the existence of, and sovereignty of, indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this land before 1788. Way too little too late, but a start, at least.

    • “From the review I get the impression that Biggar does not really understand the feelings and ongoing trauma of colonial subjects and their present day descendants”(Greg Smith).
      Elsewhere, Martin Shaw in this post refers to Biggar’s academic sojourn at TCD Dublin. Nigel Biggar as a historical scholar therefore would be fully aware of the events surrounding the potato blight in Ireland from 1849 to 1852.He would be fully aware of the culpability of the then liberal government whose laissez-faire economic policy, spearheaded by Sir Charles Trevelyn resulted in the death of one million citizens and the emigration of at the very least the same number of people- mainly to the States. Finally, he would be aware of the assertion of Trevelyan that all of this was the result of “the judgement of God” .
      Greg Smith needs to read more than one book and John Root ought to be aware of how condescending it appears when he claims that Nigel Biggar in his book “does not reflect a strong sense of what it is like to be under [it ] i.e. what he (Root) describes as “white people “being “patronising, arrogant and brutal”. Fallen human nature is endemic to all humanity.” Colonial” rule has been much more widely based (and still is to this day) than his “awareness of the pain and injustice *we* have inflicted ” would suggest.

  4. I think John Telford makes an excellent point regarding contemporary, western, cultural imperialism – manifested, for example, in the general assumptions that NATO is always right, but Russia invariably ‘wrong’.

    • NATO was incredibly foolish to promise, in 2004, membership in principle to Ukraine – meaning that tactical nuclear missiles and US troops might be sited less than 350 miles from Moscow along a plain. Russia has only defence in depth to use on its western frontier, and was catastrophically invaded by Napoleon and Hitler leading movements that blew out of nowhere in just 30 years.

      But Putin has lost all credibility to have the best interests of slavs at heart, as he wishes to be seen. His troops are wrecking a Slavic land. The trouble is that he has hitched his future to victory in this war.

      We need Putin to go and Ukraine not to become part of NATO. Otherwise the medium-term future is quite incredibly dangerous.

      • I’m pretty much in agreement with this. Ukraine has been a plaything for western politicians trying to remake the world in their image and again misunderstanding the worries (and neuroses) of the Russians, as well as the complicated question of ‘national identity’.
        I think we will end up with a de facto partition of Ukraine.

        • A Finnish friend of mine sent me the following link:

          (in the context of a discussion I was having with him about the situation in the Ukraine). It’s in Finnish, but it has subtitles – which give a full description. At 14.20, when he explains that the patriarch Kyrill is in the pocket of Putin, he shows a picture of the patriarch wearing a rolex watch.

          He says, ‘I don’t know what kind of salaries the priests have in Russia, but my wife is a priest and she does not have such a watch.’

          On the whole, it is a very accurate picture of the Russian mentality, given by a Finnish military man, explaining exactly what the Finnish army is for. (It is from 2018).

      • I agree, Anton. The Ukraine situation ultimately demonstrates a spectacular failure of western statecraft – especially as Mikail Gorbachev and other Russian officials (on February 9th, 1990) were given verbal promises (by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, et al,) that NATO would never expand into Eastern Europe.

        • John – oh well, I’m living in one of these Eastern European countries – and very relieved that this promise wasn’t kept – as are 100 percent of the people whom I meet and talk to on a day to day basis.

          • Point taken, Jock, but I suspect that the ‘average Russian’ may well believe that NATO has betrayed and tricked them. Do you not think that Russia has some legitimate grounds to distrust the West, and some genuine security concerns over NATO’s relentless recruitment drive, eastwards? How would the USA feel if it’s geographic, national neighbours (Canada, Mexico, Central America) were part of an anti-US military alliance?

            Anton (in an above comment) ultimately calls for the Ukraine not to become a member of NATO, but this should have been agreed to by NATO and Russia in the pre-invasion, political meetings. The war in the Ukraine is both heart-breaking and unnecessary. We’re currently in a situation where everyone loses.

          • John – I think the feeling of the average Russian is a secondary matter here. All those Eastern European countries which joined the EU had referenda, where the results were overwhelmingly in favour. Also, with NATO, substantial majorities of the population were in favour – and you have to ask yourself why they preferred the evil Anglo-Saxon empire over the Russian empire (knowing full well that they had been sold out
            by the Anglo-Saxons in the Yalta agreement).

            I consider the Anglo-Saxon empire (initially centred in London, the centre had firmly shifted to Washington DC by 1945) to be a source of evil, but the Russian empire is worse. I think the lecture I linked to above gives an accurate picture of the Russian mentality – and it is bad news for any country within the Russian sphere of influence.

            It would be nice if the Ukraine could free itself from Russia without having to join the evil Anglo-Saxon empire, but I get the impression that this may be unrealistic – they have to operate the ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ principle. I also deplore the expansion of the Anglo-Saxon empire (a.k.a. NATO), but I see no other way.

            The Ukrainians will be under no illusions about the West – they’ll understand that American foreign policy is motivated purely by self interest and that any altruistic considerations are secondary and subservient to this – but it is probably the only way.

          • Jock – I take your point that both the Anglo-Saxon (a.k.a. NATO) and the Russian ’empires’ are evil (cf. Eph. 2:1-3). Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter wrote in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper (Feb. 28; 2022 : ‘Many predicted NATO expansion would lead to war. Those warnings were ignored’) :

            ” History will show that Washington’s treatment of Russia in the decades following the demise of the Soviet Union was a policy blunder of epic proportions. It was entirely predictable that NATO expansion would ultimately lead to a tragic, perhaps violent, breach of relations with Moscow. Perceptive analysts warned of the likely consequences, but those warnings went unheeded. We are now paying the price for the US foreign policy establishment’s myopia and arrogance.”

            But what of the personal Christian response to war? I noticed with interest that the Lambeth Conference 1930 Resolution 25 declared that :

            “The Conference affirms that war as a means of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

            The Lambeth Conferences of 1948, 1958 and 1968 re-ratified this position.

          • Thanks for your comments, Jock.

            Perhaps, ultimately you’re right – but I can’t help thinking that the war between Russia and Ukraine was avoidable, and potential peace wasn’t given a sufficient chance.

            May God bless us, all.

          • I can’t help thinking that the war between Russia and Ukraine was avoidable

            It was entirely avoidable. It could have been avoided quite simply by Mr Putin not ordering his troops to invade Ukraine.

        • John: All statesmen know that verbal promises don’t count, only written treaties. If Baker really said that then he was an ass. Poland at least deserved NATO membership. Culturally it is Catholic, like much of Western Europe.

          • Anton – I think that ‘deserve’ has nothing to do with it – Polish membership of NATO was in the self-interest of the Anglo-Saxon empire – and it was also in the self-interest of Poland.

      • NATO was incredibly foolish to promise, in 2004, membership in principle to Ukraine

        What rot. What was NATO supposed to say? ‘Look, Ukraine, obviously you don’t meet the criteria for membership now, but even if you do in future, and you still want to join, we won’t let you because we recognise that Russia would need to give its approval’?

        Ukraine is a sovereign country. Russia doesn’t get a veto over its foreign policy. If Ukraine applies to join NATO and it meets the criteria, then its application should be treated in exactly the way Sweden’s is right now.

        To do anything else would be to effectively co-operate in Putin’s view of Ukraine as not fully sovereign but rather a Russian satellite state.

        • Dear ‘S’;

          (1). Recent historical context is key to understanding the current situation in Ukraine. Check out Ted Galen Carpenter’s penetrating article in the ‘The Guardian’ (“Many predicted NATO expansion would lead to war. Those warnings were ignore.”).

          (2). In the weeks before the invasion of Ukraine, BBC reporter Steve Rosen repeatedly emphasized that Russia was very concerned about Ukraine joining NATO because it would leave Moscow exposed over huge areas of flat land, to any invading ground forces. Do you not think that Russia may have had genuine and legitimate defence concerns over Ukraine joining NATO?

          (3). Taking all the facts into consideration, would it not have been prudent, noble, and, dare I say it, Christian, of President Zelenskyy to forego Ukraine’s right to join NATO, in order for an international agreement to be be reached (between the U.S./NATO and Russia) that would circumvent war, and still have Ukraine’s best interests at heart?

          • John – not really. You see, Russia do have a track record – and if the Moscow government takes the view that a neighbouring country should be with the sphere of Moscow influence then the country has two options:
            1) accept rule from Moscow
            2) join NATO.

            I remember one email from someone from Poland, shortly before the UK voted to leave the EU. I suggested that the situation was entertaining and got an abrupt 4 line response:

            I do not want Britain to leave the EU!
            I do not want Poland to leave the EU!
            I do not want to teach in Russian!
            (Even though I like the language.)

            The progression (for him) was completely clear. You see – the Russians are not to be trusted and if you don’t want to belong to the Russian empire, then you need some serious protection (either by joining the EU, or else from NATO, or preferably both).

          • Recent historical context is key to understanding the current situation in Ukraine.

            I am currently in the middle of Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow, which I think is quite enough historical context, thanks.

            Do you not think that Russia may have had genuine and legitimate defence concerns over Ukraine joining NATO?

            To the extent that a fully sovereign Ukraine would make it more difficult to defend the Russian heartland, of course.

            But that doesn’t give Russia authority of veto over a sovereign state’s foreign policy.

            That was, after all, the rationale behind the Warsaw Pact; and I hope you’re not suggesting that the Warsaw Pact was acceptable.

            Ukraine being in NATO would mean that, in the event of a future Ukrainian government pursuing policies of which Russia did not approve, Russia couldn’t send tanks as the USSR did in 1956 and 1968. But I hope you are not suggesting that we should act so as to ensure Russia’s continued ability to roll tasks across the borders of its neighbours.

            Taking all the facts into consideration, would it not have been prudent, noble, and, dare I say it, Christian, of President Zelenskyy to forego Ukraine’s right to join NATO,

            No. It absolutely would not. Because what you are effectively saying is that Ukraine should have paid Danegeld, isn’t it?

            And what happens if you pay Danegeld?

            Say it.

        • Dear ‘S’;

          Thank you for your comments – but the current situation in Ukraine did not have to be this way :

          “History will show that Washington’s treatment of Russia in the decades following the demise of the Soviet Union was a policy blunder of epic proportions. It was entirely predictable that NATO expansion would ultimately lead to a tragic, perhaps violent, breach of relations with Moscow. Perceptive analysts warned of the likely consequences, but those warnings went unheeded. We are now paying the price for the U.S. foreign policy establishment’s myopia and arrogance.”

          (Ted Galen Carpenter : ‘Many predicted NATO expansion would lead to war. Those warnings were ignored’; ‘The Guardian’ Newspaper, Feb 28, 2022).

          When international mistakes have been made, we should do our utmost best to try and ameliorate the consequences.

          • When international mistakes have been made, we should do our utmost best to try and ameliorate the consequences.

            Rot. Total, morally bankrupt, rot.

            So I return to the question I asked originally: what are you saying that NATO’s response should have been to Ukraine, and the other states, when they asked to join (because of their, it turns out well-founded, fear of Russian aggression)?

            Are you seriously suggesting that NATO should have replied that it would only consider their applications if they got Russia’s permission to join? That is, that NATO should have treated them as not fully sovereign, but as Russia’s satellite states, their limited autonomy always subject to veto from the Kremlin?

            Rot. You should be ashamed of yourself for even suggesting it.

        • Dear ‘S’;

          We unfortunately live in a fallen world, where we are advised to be :

          ‘wise as serpents and innocent as doves’ (Matt. 10:16).

          I personally think that when the Warsaw Pact was disbanded, there may have been a good case to have also disbanded NATO. If that had happened, I think the world would currently have been a safer and better place.

          Like Ted Galen Carpenter, I don’t believe that the West/NATO have been very wise in recent decades.

          I think we should currently be working for peace in Ukraine, and not waiting (decades?) for a someone’s eventual ‘victory’ on the battlefield.

          That’s my overall opinion, ‘S’, but you’re entitled to entirely differ.

          • We unfortunately live in a fallen world,

            We do. And wars are therefore inevitable.

            I personally think that when the Warsaw Pact was disbanded, there may have been a good case to have also disbanded NATO. If that had happened, I think the world would currently have been a safer and better place.

            What? Nonsense. It’s the existence if NATO which has been the cure if the defence of Ukraine. In your world where NATO was disbanded in the nineties, what mechanisms do you think would have existed in the twenties to enable the West to counter Russian aggression? Would we have had to set up a new alliance from scratch? How long would that have taken?

            And don’t say ‘if NATO had disbanded Russia wouldn’t be aggressive’. That’s just Panglossian rubbish. Aggression is inevitable in a fallen world. If it wasn’t Russia it would just be someone else. War is inevitable and we must be prepared.

            Like Ted Galen Carpenter, I don’t believe that the West/NATO have been very wise in recent decades.

            Maybe not, but however foolish they have been, basing policy on the assumption that peace will be forever would have been even more foolish — indeed there’s not much more foolish!

            As Tom Lehrer sang: ‘Some say the Germans are warlike, and mean, but that couldn’t happen again / We taught them a lesson in nineteen-eighteen, and they’ve hardly bothered us since then!’

            I think we should currently be working for peace in Ukraine, and not waiting (decades?) for a someone’s eventual ‘victory’ on the battlefield.

            There is no peace in Ukraine without victory. Any resolution which leaves Russia with any Ukrainian territory is not peace, but merely further bloodshed deferred; because Russia will simply regroup, build its forces back up, continue rattling its sabres, and invade again next time a Ukrainian government does something that the Kremlin is unwilling to accept.

            That’s my overall opinion,

            It’s rot, is what it is. It’s immoral, unethical rot. You’re basically talking about a new Yalta betrayal, where this time instead of Poland et al that we shamefully abandon to Russian rule because it’s more convenient for us than helping them to fight, it’s Ukraine.

            Yalta is a moral stain on the West’s soul that we will never be able to wash off; but at least don’t say we should do it again. That’s appalling. Utterly, utterly appalling.

        • Dear ‘S’,

          Thank you for your further robust and forthright comments, which were read with interest, but not always with agreement. However, as I do not claim to have intellectual infallibility, you may, at the end of the day, be right.

          I take it, ‘S’, that you didn’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 and/or 2019 General elections?

          God bless you, ‘S’, – and may God bless us all.

          • However, as I do not claim to have intellectual infallibility, you may, at the end of the day, be right.

            It’s hardly an intellectual matter. It doesn’t take a genius to distinguish between right and wrong.

        • An Individual’s conscience should be informed by the true facts, ‘S’, and this is a job for the intellect. However, even if a Christian’s conscience is clear, they are not thereby proved right.

          “For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not acquitted because of this. The one who judges me is the Lord. So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes.”

          (1 Cor. 4:4-5; New English Translation).

          • An Individual’s conscience should be informed by the true facts, ‘S’, and this is a job for the intellect.

            But the facts are not in dispute.

        • With respect, ‘S’, some of your ‘facts’ appear to be more in the category of subjective opinions.

          However, you are entitled to your opinions ‘S’, and thank you for sharing them.

          God bless you.

          • With respect, ‘S’, some of your ‘facts’ appear to be more in the category of subjective opinions.

            Name one fact about which we disagree.

            Just one.

            I’ll wait.

          • The disagreement is not about the facts, but about the correct response to them. That is, it’s not an intellectual debate, it’s a moral debate; between standing up for that liberty and sovereignty of Ukraine, or your craven, morally bankrupt rot which would have us once again, as we shamefully did after the Second World War, throw those who are relying on us for vital aid in their desperate fight for freedom to the wolves.

        • Dear ‘S’;

          (1). That NATO should have been expanded and disbanded after 1991, is not a fact, but an opinion.

          (2). There is a good article entitled :

          “What Does Pacifism Have to Say about Ukraine?”, by the Christian academic, Michael McKoy, ( providencemag[dot]com ).

          You may prejudge it as being “Utter balderdash !”, but I think it’s well worth a read.

          (3). Are you by any chance interested in Biblical prophecy, ‘S’ ?; and if so, may you be taking a look at the book “When the Towers Fall : A Prophecy of What Must Happen Soon” by Anglican scholar, Dr. Steven J. Robinson. Steve makes some comments below.

          • That NATO should have been expanded and disbanded after 1991, is not a fact,.

            Yes. That is what I wrote. We do not disagree on any matters of fact. That’s why your comment about ‘intellectual infallibility’ was irrelevant. Intellectual infallibility would mean never being wrong about a fact. But we don’t disagree on the facts. So even if we were both intellectually infallible, we would still disagree on this because our disagreement is about morality, not facts.

            “ What Does Pacifism Have to Say about Ukraine?”, by the Christian academic, Michael McKoy, ( providencemag[dot]com ).

            Pacifism is almost as morally bankrupt as you rot. Pacifism is a fundamental inconsistent and utterly selfish position. The only reason anyone can be a pacifist and argue for pacifism is because other people, who live in the real world, are willing to fight, to kill, and to die to protect the safety and freedom of the pacifist. A nation composed entirely of pacifists would be slaughtered or enslaved.

            Are you by any chance interested in Biblical prophecy, ‘S’ ?

            I’m not really no. I don’t think God hid secret messages about specific events twenty centuries hence in the Bible. The Bible is not such a trivial thing. God gave us the Bible to teach us universal truths about God and Man, not so we could have a spotter’s guide to upcoming events like Biff’s almanac from Back to the Future, Part II.

        • Correction.

          Point (1) should read :

          “That NATO was right to expand and not disband after 1991, is not a fact but an opinion.”

  5. An excellent review; and it’s all the more valuable for touching germanely on anecdotal evidence and questions raised by such evidence. Thank you! So here’s another piece of anecdotal evidence, entirely in line with the stories and arguments that Mr Root presents.

    I spent almost all my working life as a lecturer/professor at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), which was where I met Nigel Biggar, in his two main (and not entirely unconnected) roles — an academic working in theology and ethics, and an Anglican priest. Mr Root’s description of Prof. Biggar’s most recent book is entirely consistent with what I know of the character of the book’s author, and with Prof. Biggar’s willingness to look disconcerting facts and events in the eye. However, another, rather stronger anecdote comes from before Nigel Biggar moved to TCD.

    In the mid 1990s, while sitting at TCD’s daily formal meal, I ended up opposite an elderly, retired engineer (what kind of engineering I cannot remember) who, across the 1920s and ’30s had been born and raised in what is now Pakistan, and had moved to Ireland many decades ago. An incident of communal violence had hit international headlines, and among our fellow diners a fairly lively discussion broke out about the issues at play and about Pakistan’s political and religious tensions. My companion opposite said nothing, but listened quietly. Then he said to me, very quietly, “It was much better when the British were there.” It was said with gentle humour, with a twinkle in the eye. But he was deadly serious.

    • Yes, the irony is that once the people in Britain lauded the empire and its subjects didn’t. The generations in today’s Britain and its former empire are tending to swap positions.

      It would be nice to see an even larger picture than the one Nigel Biggar paints: a comparison of the British Empire with other empires (Ottoman, etc).

      • Or the Mughal Empire in India; or the Chinese empire in Sinjiang (UIghurs) and Tibet; or the Aztec and Incan empires.
        Of course, the lack of written records for much of this hampers getting at the truth.
        I’m sure Professor Biggar will have something to say in his book about slavery in Africa and casteism in India.
        Will the Royal Navy and British army get credit for stopping the Arab slave trade in eastern and southern Africa? I don’t think schoolchildren learn about David Livingstone today.
        It is beyond any dispute that colonialism caused enormous harm to the Aboriginal people of Australia. In New Zealand, on the other hand, the extensive missionary work among Maori by the Church of England (and Maori catechists armed with the New Testament in Maori) from 1815 onward essentially created the nation, ended tribal warfare and slavery and inscribed in law the rights and dignity of the indigenous people as subjects of Queen Victoria.
        So the outcomes for Maori and Australian Aborigines were very different, thanks to the work of the Church of England.

        • One might add that the second Bishop of Central Africa, William Tozer, planned, and his successor executed the erection of the Anglican Cathedral on the site of the most important slave market in Zanzibar. Bishop Tozer is buried in the churchyard of S. David’s, Exeter.

    • A former colleague in the NHS was from what was formerly known as the Belgian Congo. A Local Authority colleague in something of an embarrassed way , started to try to apologise for colonialism, perhaps not knowing that it wasn’t British, when he was stopped short in his tracks. “I wouldn’t have become a Christian otherwise”. Of course that deepened the embarrassment of the LA employee even more….a Christian!
      My colleague’s daughter lived in Belgium and we had a greater understanding, world-view if you like, than I had with my secular colleagues.
      Ian, in his comment above, made the point well and this is but one instance.

  6. Cumming may well have been inspired to return his OBE by reading Sathnam Sanghera’s popular ‘Empireland’, which describes in three gruesome and strongly polemical pages the fate of the Aboriginal Tasmanians in the 1830s, quoting Robert Hughes reference to it as ‘the only true genocide in English colonial history’, but with no other supporting references. Biggar gives fuller treatment, plus seven pages of footnotes engaging with a wide variety of sources, and including almost a page responding to Sanghera. Bigger references the role of disease and tribal warfare in the decimation of the population, not mentioned either by Sanghera

    Can anybody who has Biggar’s book state whether he refers to the work of Keith Windschuttle, whose book “The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume 1: Van Diemen’s Land 1803-1847” goes into these matters in great depth? There were hostilities between the Aborigines and the British, and the inevitable losers were deported to a smaller island, but I do not recall any massacre as part of a government policy of genocide and certainly not by redcoats. The “Cape Grim massacre” (see Wikipedia) is the nearest and, while horrible, is not what the anti-colonialists claim.

  7. British colonialism was part of the much wider phenomenon of European and Russian colonialism. The least attractive aspect of its spirit continues to this day, expressed in the USA’s so-called ‘War on Terror’ (aided and abetted by the UK), Russia’s annexation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine and to some extent Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian landholdings. China’s annexation of Tibet, its sabre-rattling in the East and South China Sea and its ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ illustrate how western civilisation has gone global, in the sense that (not even counting Russia, which has the desire but not the means) there are now three powers that wish to dominate the world, notwithstanding that it is a ‘post-colonial’ world.

    Christians should avoid the temptation of striking moral attitudes, as if righteousness consists of having the right moral opinions – which is what the world loves to do and is all too easy in this internet age. Wagging the finger at other people’s shortcomings, including our own nation’s past shortcomings, is the spirit of Pharisaism. First-century Judaea was not a particularly wicked nation; in many ways, it was a deeply religious and outwardly respectable nation. Yet God visited on it the most catastrophic judgement, because when the gospel urged it to repent and exchange its own righteousness for his it refused. Hypocrisy, self-righteousness and unbelief, it seems, God hates more than anything else. God gave the nation fair warning, both by Jesus of Nazareth and by the prophets that came after him (Matt 23:34f), but it went unheeded. That’s where we are today in the Gentile world.

    European colonialism is mentioned in the Bible. It is depicted in the first horseman of the Apocalypse. The First World War, depicted in the horseman that followed, was the direct consequence of the rivalries among the European powers that played out, initially, in the drive to carve up the rest of the earth. Then followed the Great Depression and the Second World War – the third and fourth horsemen. These events are what Jesus called ‘the beginning of the birth pangs’ of the kingdom of God, which begins when he returns in judgement.

    All this is explained in “When the Towers Fall: A Prophecy of What Must Happen Soon”. According to a poll, 40% of Americans (not just church-goers) believe that we are living in the ‘end times’. A similar poll in the UK would, I suspect, disclose less than 1%, and in the rest of Europe an even smaller remnant. Even among that fraction there is little sense of grief or alarm at the state of the Church and the world, and no readiness to believe that the first trumpet is about to blow. The floods and the winds will beat upon the house, and the house will fall. Internally it is already falling.

  8. Having read the article, I think that, from a Christian point of view, it picks up the wrong end of the stick.

    Jesus points out that his kingdom is not of this world. We are to expect that governments of this world are – well – of this world (and therefore essentially self-serving and corrupt). Imperialism and colonialism are inevitable in this world; it is also inevitable that huge swathes of government will be carried out by people who are at best apathetic and at worst antagonistic to God. If oppression and evil things happened as a result of British imperialism, then that looks like a dog-bites-man kind of story (something absolutely inevitable).

    From a Christian point of view, the issue should be framed more in terms of living for Christ in a pagan world and, while recognising the evil of imperialism and colonialism, taking advantage of the opportunities offered for evangelism. This, after all, is what the apostle Paul was doing in the Roman empire – and the question is therefore the role that the empire (unwillingly) played in creating opportunities for proclaiming the Word and bringing people to faith.

    • Are you trying to introduce theology into this debate? Yes, we are ambassadors in a foreign land. We are salt on the world table —- not knifes and forks.

      • Yes, but after the food has been made wholesome and tasty by salt you need knives and forks to eat it, otherwise it will finally go rotten. The dilemmas of how power is exercised is an important needs thoughtful study from a Christ-centred perspective.

        • Are you not adding to scripture? Are christianised societies to be carved up by aggressive implements of a christian state? Christian nationalists state would be like a plate of food made inedible under a layer of salt. Preserved. But not edible. Without life..

          • Dear Steve – for some opaque reason you seem to be taking issue with Jock’s excellent last post, above – but it is very difficult to decode your language, as to why.

          • Hi John,
            I was agreeing with Jock. The Gospel takes advantage of opportunities available in any state, Christian or otherwise; a good thing. I’m woried that in the USA, Dominionism might turn the whole of society into an era of intolerance, like Prohibition. In the future, a Christian state will be all piety on the outside, and drive everything else underground.
            I may have missed the point; I’m only half engaged.

          • Hello Steve,

            I’m on half spin and feel increasingly like a muon these days (a particle with half-spin) and I probably need to take a ride in the Stanford Linear Accelerator to sort myself out.

            I’m inclined to agree with you – I think you’re saying that government that is overtly ‘Christian’ can rapidly generate into something that is intolerant. It’s probably for the best if Christians try to serve in secular government in their capacity as ‘salt of the earth’ (notable OT examples of Christians in government being Daniel).

            I do worry about the PiS-artists here who come across as being ever so slightly insane and are great examples of pious intolerance.

          • Jock, yep. Thanks for your reply. That is how I see it. A Christian Government would be intolerable. The problem stems from a wrong understanding of end times. I believe normal life will go on until , without warning, Jesus returns. Dominionists think society has to be ‘invaded’ by Christians to bring about His return. See Lance Wallnau et al.
            I completely understand your halfspin feeling. Er… you’re in a phase transition??? I’m always starting a conversation half way through and my wife has to stop me and start at the beginnng… perhaps Ncodemus should have asked Jesus, “ hang on Rabbi, can you start again… from the beginning.”

  9. Israel had often been “colonized” and even worse deported as in recent history,Not a thing we would wish for anyone ,there were obvious brutalities but there were very obvious benefits. Not least so for the expansion of the gospel Church.

    “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law” (Galatians 4:4). This verse declares that God the Father sent His Son when “the time had fully come.” There were many things occurring at the time of the first century that, at least by human reasoning, seem to make it ideal for Christ to come then.

    1) There was a great anticipation among the Jews of that time that the Messiah would come. The Roman rule over Israel made the Jews hungry for the Messiah’s coming.

    2) Rome had unified much of the world under its government, giving a sense of unity to the various lands. Also, because the empire was relatively peaceful, travel was possible, allowing the early Christians to spread the gospel. Such freedom to travel would have been impossible in other eras.
    There were fast roads laid down, there was common currency, there was a large degree of law enforcement

    3) While Rome had conquered militarily, Greece had conquered culturally. A “common” form of the Greek language (different from classical Greek) was the trade language and was spoken throughout the empire, making it possible to communicate the gospel to many different people groups through one common language.

    4) The fact that the many false idols had failed to give them victory over the Roman conquerors caused many to abandon the worship of those idols. At the same time, in the more “cultured” cities, the Greek philosophy and science of the time left others spiritually empty in the same way that the atheism of communist governments leaves a spiritual void today.

    5) The mystery religions of the time emphasized a savior-god and required worshipers to offer bloody sacrifices, thus making the gospel of Christ which involved one ultimate sacrifice believable to them. The Greeks also believed in the immortality of the soul (but not of the body).

    6) The Roman army recruited soldiers from among the provinces, introducing these men to Roman culture and to ideas (such as the gospel) that had not reached those outlying provinces yet. The earliest introduction of the gospel to Britain was the result of the efforts of Christian soldiers stationed there.

    The above statements are based on men looking at that time and speculating about why that particular point in history was a good time for Christ to come.
    But we understand that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), and these may or may not have been some reasons for why He chose that particular time to send His Son.
    From the context of Galatians 3 and 4, it is evident that God sought to lay a foundation through the Jewish Law that would prepare for the coming of the Messiah.
    The Law was meant to help people understand the depth of their sinfulness (in that they were incapable of keeping the Law) so that they might more readily accept the cure for that sin through Jesus the Messiah (Galatians 3:22-23; Romans 3:19-20)
    . The Law was also “put in charge” (Galatians 3:24) to lead people to Jesus as the Messiah. It did this through its many prophecies concerning the Messiah which Jesus fulfilled.
    Add to this the sacrificial system that pointed to the need for a sacrifice for sin as well as its own inadequacy (with each sacrifice always requiring later additional ones).
    Old Testament history also painted pictures of the person and work of Christ through several events and religious feasts (such as the willingness of Abraham to offer up Isaac, or the details of the Passover during the exodus from Egypt, etc.).

    Finally, Christ came when He did in fulfillment of specific prophecy. Daniel 9:24-27

    • Thank you, Alan – I enjoyed reading that.

      You made a particularly interesting comment in your point (5), regarding the mystery religions perhaps helping to facilitate reception of the Gospel for certain people. However, as regards the Greek idea of the immortality of the soul, is this really a Biblical concept? Archbishop William Temple, and Bishop Charles Gore held to the position of Conditional Immortality.

    • Finally, Christ came when He did in fulfillment of specific prophecy. Daniel 9:24-27.
      Yes, Daniel indicated that the death of the Anointed One would take place 483 years after Ezra’s arrival in Jerusalem, i.e. after August AD 26. The angel continues, ‘And he shall confirm a covenant with many for one seven, and in the midst of the seven he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.’ If the death (cutting off) of the Messiah was to be understood as occurring in the midst of this last seven, that would take us to AD 30.

      It would be surprising if Scripture did not similarly indicate the year of his second advent.

          • Hi, Steve;

            I didn’t realize that you are the author of ‘When the Towers Fall : A Prophecy of What Must Happen Soon.”

            Do you set a date for the second Advent; and if so, how would explain Matt. 24:36?

            Cordial regards.

          • That seems to be the universal reflex. But

            (i) neither ‘day’ nor ‘hour’ means ‘year’;
            (ii) the thrust of Jesus’s taking the trouble to respond in detail to the disciples to the question is “when these later events come to pass, make sure you are ready”;
            (iii) Matt 24:36 refers to the day when he comes like a thief to take those who belong to him, the day also described in I Thes 4, when the last trumpet sounds;
            (iv) I am chiefly concerned about warning about the first trumpet;
            (v) imagine the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying to Jeremiah, “It may never happen. No one knows the day or the hour. Go away.”

            Complacency and spiritual deafness are different aspects of the same condition.

          • Thanks, Steve.

            (1). The view that Matt. 24:36 does not apply to the actual year, is also shared by the Jehovah’s Witnesses in their chronological prediction for Christ’s ‘Parousia’.

            (2). Do you personally claim any form of inspiration for your prophetical views, Steve?

            (3). Do you not think that general prophetical warnings as in 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Jude verses 17-19; Matt. 24:6 ff, should be enough to keep Christians alert to the ‘signs of the times’ (and spiritually, ‘on their toes’); without having to set a precise year for the future ‘parousia’ of Christ?

  10. Thank you John
    My point [5] was somwhat brief . I do broadly agree with the aforesaid Bishops.
    However I do not want to go “off piste” on the thread.Point 5 needs more clarity.

  11. I was for five years engaged in theological education in West Papua, previously Irian Jaya and before that Netherlands New Guinea. 100% of the indigenous people I spoke with preferred Dutch (Christian) colonialism to the Indonesian (Javanese) colonialism that replaced it. One was experienced as paternalistic but ennabling, the other violent and rapacious. The change in colonial masters was facilitated by the economic imperialism of the United States, whose key players knew there were huge gold and copper reserves in the mountains. The ambivalence Britain was feeling about its colonial legacy, and the context of the 1960’s independence movements, weakened its resolve to support the Dutch in its planned withdrawal and self-determination for the West Papuan people. They have paid a high and bloody price for that in the last sixty years.


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