Barry Newman's Blog

A bit about me


Professional life

Originally trained as a research chemist, I was awarded a BSc (Hons 1), MSc and PhD from the University of Sydney. Later I was awarded a BA (Hons 1) in Education from the University of Sydney. I worked in the chemical industry for five years, taught at Sydney Grammar SchooI for 5 years being master in charge of physics then lectured at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) for 24 years in science education, as a senior lecturer, then Head of the School of Teacher Education, then Director of the Board of Studies in Professional Studies.

I have worked at the University of Notre Dame (USA) in chemical research, the University of Glasgow (Scotland) in chemical education research, the University of Boston (USA) attached to the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science and the University of Waikato (NZ) in science education research.

I was a member of the Council and Governing Board of Moore Theological College for 27 years, and have recently retired.

Church and family.

I regularly preach and am concerned to see the grounding of theological thought in the Scriptures. Though a Sydney Anglican, I have often attended churches of other denominations and spent time overseas attending Church of Christ and Baptist churches. I am married to Laurie and have five daughters.

This blog

One of my interests has been the relationship between Christianity and Science and more recently the Sacraments and their relationship with the Gospel. I plan to use this blog to share my thoughts with whoever is interested.



  1. welcome to the blogosphere Barry!

    Comment by David Ould — August 27, 2009 @ 7:35 am | Reply

  2. Nice Pic. and nice Blog layout Barry.
    So looking forward to reading it all with great interest.

    Comment by Sarie — August 27, 2009 @ 9:03 am | Reply

    • Sarie, My thanks are to Luke W. for creating the site for me. You have probably already seen the original papers. However these are updated versions, easier to read with some extra detail particularly in the second and third.

      Comment by barrynewman — September 1, 2009 @ 11:48 am | Reply

  3. Looking forward to it. Philip

    Comment by D. Philip Veitch — August 29, 2009 @ 5:49 am | Reply

    • Philip, The “D.” mislead me. I wondered what your first name was and thought it improper to call you “Philip” earlier!

      Comment by barrynewman — September 1, 2009 @ 11:51 am | Reply

  4. Barry, the “D” is for Donald, but I go by the middle name “Philip.” This was to avoid the confusion at home with Dad, whose first name was “Donald,” or “Don” as used by others. Philip is fine. And glad you are blogging. I am, aside from myriads of other things appertaining hereto, looking forward to your perspective as a Sydney Anglican (and, of course, as a Christian first). The Anglican scene here in the U.S. is chaos. Regards, Philip

    Comment by D. Philip Veitch — September 1, 2009 @ 4:40 pm | Reply

    • Philip, thanks for the explanation. I suspected it might have been something like that. Indeed I am a Christian first and an Anglican 2nd or 3rd or 4th! I have lived in the United States on two different occasions and was not interested, in general terms, in attending an Episcopalian church, even less so now I am sure. It will become apparent that the series is quite controversial. I have no interest in dealing with matters simply because they are controversial however. None the less I do hope they will receive some consideration. Many folk, of all ages, in the Sydney Anglican church I attend, as well as others have become quite sympathetic to the proposals. Thankfully I am not alone. Regards Barry

      Comment by barrynewman — September 2, 2009 @ 12:59 am | Reply

  5. Barry, I caught the notices re: travels in U.S. and, understandably, the reluctance to involvement in Episcopal contexts. My wife plays the pipe organ at St. Peter’s Episcopal so tied in there, but I also attend an Anglo-Catholic Anglican Church about twice per month, though, by no means, an ACC. They have the old BCP which I know and some friends. I could say more, but am Confessional, Protestant and Reformed, to add to the flavour. A retired Marine and Navy Chaplain here. Will be following your work. May His Majesty, our Sovereign Redeemer, inform and aid in your reflections. Am tuned in. Regard, Philip

    Comment by D. Philip Veitch — September 2, 2009 @ 1:08 am | Reply

  6. Barry, here’s the link to the writing I spoke to you about last week:

    In particular you may want to focus your attention on pp17-29 where I deal a little with the issues we were discussing.

    Let me know what you think.

    Comment by David Ould — September 8, 2009 @ 3:42 am | Reply

    • David, thanks for the copy. I have quickly, perhaps too quickly, read the pages suggested and intend to read the paper in full at a later time. I can’t pretend to have any expertise in the area. So please excsue the following comments. I am sure that you are correct in preferring figure 5 rather than 4 etc. I suspect that it is in line with Longenecker’s thinking that it is the work and being of Christ that drives the hermeutic and not some prior event. I am not inclined to accept Bauer’s understanding – “baptizw … can be understood as ‘to cause someone to have an extraordinary experience akin to an initiating water rite.'” The notion of a water rite is post the ordinary sense of the word as far as the usage of the word is concerned, rather than the other way around. Besides it doesn’t have to be an “extraordinary” experience,it is a “weighty”or “significant” matter, that might be extraordinary Sure some people drown and ships submerge, but soldiers wade through water, swords are toughened in fire and experienced debators swamp the unexperienced in argument. However, I suspect that I might have to reconsider my understanding of 1 Peter 3: 21 in the light of your arguments concerning that text. It was very interesting reading. My only excuse is that I was trying to summarise what Robinson and Knox said. However, it is interesting that “dia” is used three times in vv. 20, 21 (once as a prefix to swzw followed immediately by itself in v. 20 – perhaps thereby with some intensity focussing on the deliverance and the means of deliverance, and then in v. 21 where perhaps the sense is by means of the very act of the resurrection rather than being caught up in that resurrection (to make a fine point). Without going into the detail I think it is still not unreasonable to argue for Peter’s understanding of “baptism” to be associated with suffering, rather than the notion of “being baptised into Christ Jesus” – an expression not used by Peter but only by Paul and closely associated with his death rather than his resurrection which sits on the notion of coming out of the “immersion”, rather than the “immersion” itself. Of course not to argue that suffering saves though the text taken head on says that “baptism saves”! I would like to give Peter more flexibility in his expression than a strict adherence to the text would suggest. Though something like your proosal may well be correct. What a difficult text!!

      Comment by barrynewman — September 14, 2009 @ 10:54 am | Reply

  7. Thanks Barry,

    previous to our discussion I’d not seen such clear material on baptizw. I think I’d want to revisit my argument now.

    As it is, I think the basic premise holds – and in 1Peter baptism into Christ’s suffering is “union with Christ” (to use the Pauline language), or at least it appears that way to me.

    Nevertheless your comments make me want to go back to the fine detail and see if I can get more clarity.

    Thanks again.

    Comment by David Ould — September 14, 2009 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

  8. Your blog looks great! Very clear layout and good pic, I’m looking forward to reading it. I know it’s very Generation Y of me, but this is so much better than reading through a bunch of papers!

    Comment by Alex (your daughter) — October 28, 2009 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

    • Hi daughter Alex, So nice to have a Generation Y type of comment. Thanks go to Luke for the looks. Dad

      Comment by barrynewman — October 30, 2009 @ 4:43 am | Reply

  9. Hi Barry, thank for your talks to church by the bridge…i learned a lot from you…especially about marriage…i think i have been one of those christian boys in the churche that have been mucking christian woman around for years…not asking them out etc… and especially being cautious about committing…i think you gave me a wake-up call…so thank you…. :)Peter

    Comment by Peter Hutchison — March 7, 2010 @ 4:42 am | Reply

  10. Barry, would it be ok to link to your article on genesis on our church website please?

    also, the pdf ‘altogether’ link redirects to its own page, not the actual pdf file! 🙂 If you don’t get what i’m saying, email me and i’ll try to be clearer.

    In Christ, and appreciative of your service.


    Comment by Tim Mildenhall — December 30, 2010 @ 12:57 am | Reply

  11. Do you still speak at schools? I would love to have you visit and speak about the relationship between science and Christianity.

    Comment by Andrew Alexander — March 21, 2011 @ 10:16 am | Reply

    • Hi Andrew,

      Sure. Quite happy to chat with students and anyone else about the relationship between science and Christianity. Just need to know when and where.



      Comment by barrynewman — March 21, 2011 @ 10:38 am | Reply

      • Hi Barry
        How do I contact you directly apart from this public blog?

        Comment by Andrew Alexander — March 21, 2011 @ 10:46 am

  12. Blogs are a good way of getting one’s thoughts together. The relationship between science and the Bible is my interest too. Be good to catch up with you sometime if you are in Brisbane or I’m in Sydney.

    Comment by Tas Walker — April 20, 2011 @ 5:21 am | Reply

  13. I Peter 3:21…Let’s take another look at this controversial Bible verse

    1 Peter 3:21 (ESV)

    1 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

    Ask an orthodox Christian what this Bible passage says and this will be his response, “Baptism saves you.” Pretty simple interpretation of the passage, right?

    Ask a Baptist or evangelical what this passage says, and he will say something like this: “Water baptism is a picture of our appeal to God for a clean conscience which occurs in our spiritual baptism: our decision for Christ/our born again experience. This passage is not talking about water baptism, it is talking about spiritual baptism.”

    Ok. Let’s take a look at another passage of Scripture:

    Hebrews 10:22 ESV

    let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

    What is it that gives us the full assurance of faith according to this Bible passage? Our decision to accept Jesus into our hearts? Our decision to be born again? Our decision to make a decision for Christ? No. The simple, plain rendering of this passage of Holy Scripture tells us that our assurance of faith is based on God sprinkling our hearts, cleansing us of our evil conscience, AND washing our bodies with pure water!

    There can be only one explanation for the “when” of full assurance of salvation: WATER BAPTISM!

    Both of these passages talk about having our consciences cleansed, and the verse in Hebrews clarifies that this cleansing does not take place in our mind or as a public profession; it takes place in our heart, our soul; and this cleansing occurs at the same time as “pure” water is applied to our body! This is water baptism, Baptist and evangelical brothers and sisters! Stop twisting and contorting the plain, simple words of God to conform to your sixteenth century false teachings!

    Believe God’s plain, simple Word.

    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
    an orthodox Lutheran blog

    Comment by gary — September 16, 2013 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

    • Hi Gary,

      Many thanks for your comment. I can see that we strongly disagree on what Holy Scripture is saying. I cannot imagine my ever persuading you to change your opinion about what Hebrews 10: 22 says. None the less I will make the following comments.

      Quite characteristically of the writer to Hebrews, the first part of the verse has a metaphorical element which at the same time speaks of a profound reality – “hearts being sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” For the ancient Greek and Jew the heart was something akin to what we understand as our biological heart but where we also had our feelings and did our thinking, yes sinful thinking. But the metaphor is recognised as a metaphor in the use of the word, “sprinkling” You refer to this as our “spiritual baptism”. You are correct to use the word “spiritual” but not “baptism”. The word, “errantismenoi” derived from the verb, “raino” has to do with “sprinkling”. It is never associated with water baptism in the New Testament period or earlier in the Christian or pagan world. The verb for “I baptise” is, “baptizo” a word that is not used here See also how metaphorical the writer is in v. 19 – referring to the “sanctuary”, v. 20 – referring to “curtain” and then again v. 21 referring to “house”. “Spiritual sprinkling” is OK.

      The reality is, as I hope you will agree, that we have had our evil consciences made clean by God. Note however, there is no word for “clean” in the text. It is to be understood as being part of the meaning. Being “sprinkled” in the context means that the “evil” of our evil conscience has been removed. And so we add the word, “clean” in English. I think v. 19 makes it clear that this has been achieved by “the blood of Jesus”. Note that this verse refers only to “the blood of Jesus” as the basis for having confidence to enter “the sanctuary”.

      Now to the second part of the verse “our bodies washed with pure water.” If this is only a reference to “water baptism” as you suggest then note how the water is “pure”. I don’t know anywhere else in the New Testament that says that water in a baptismal ceremony is “pure”. Is it important for it to be “pure”? The early Christian writing, “the Didache” refers to certain types of water being preferred for the baptismal ceremony. In Jewish purification rituals, the type of water used was very important. However, contrary to early Christian beliefs and contrary to Jewish beliefs, there is nowhere in the New Testament that says that the water to be used in a baptismal ceremony has to be “pure”. The Gospel is free from such earth bound notions. As if the type of water made any difference! But then what do we make of the writer’s reference to water? Surely it is just another example of his use of metaphor! And what are we to make of “body”? It may well be that the writer has the baptismal water ceremony as part of the backdrop to his expression. But note, if that is the case, then a full immersion is part of that backdrop – the body is not washed by sprinkling. Alternatively the writer may have as the backdrop – Jewish ceremonial washings which for some entailed full immersion in an upright bath before, e.g. having a formal meal and the best water for such baths was thought to be “spring water” – pure water in their eyes. The writer has referred to “sanctuary”, “curtain” and “house”, why not “full immersion in pure water” (in a bath)? Against this view, however, it could be argued that the first three relate to the ancient “tabernacle” and the fourth to a Jewish custom in vogue in New Testament times. I think his use of “body” may have been sparked by his reference to “the blood of Jesus” (v. 19) and then, “his flesh” (v. 20). But maybe not. The text of course refers to our body. It is not our Lord’s. I think he is referring to our totality. We in our entirety are made clean. Again I ask by what means – by Jesus, his death, who he is – note that in vv. 19, 20, 21 it is all, about Jesus. You wish to make v. 22 partly about a water ceremony! I understand your position. But if you want to take it literally, then it’s only your body that has been washed with water. It has had to be pure water. The writer does not say that by having your body washed with water, something else occurs. He simply says , “bodies washed with pure water.” The water does the washing. The water washes the body. [By the way, while the notion of “washing” is sometimes associated with the baptismal water ceremony (see Acts 22: 16) but more commonly, in the New Testament, the ceremony is associated with repentance with the idea of death to the old way of life being the picture portrayed.) We must not read into the text. But either the text is meant to be understood literally, having bodies washed with pure water or it is metaphorical – perhaps, as I have suggested, meaning something like, having our whole being cleansed spiritually, and in the light of vv. 19 – 21, by means of what Jesus has done. He is the pure one, the only pure one. Hence the reference to “pure water”.

      It is important to read the text carefully, recognising the various ways that language can be used.

      May God bless you very much as you seek to know the truth about him and his Word,

      Yours sincerely

      Barry N.

      Comment by barrynewman — September 17, 2013 @ 3:10 am | Reply

  14. G’day Barry, I’m just starting to read your reflection on Baptism. I am wrestling with what baptizo means in the New Testament – independent of what Christian practice has done – and independent of a denomination that says it must be this or that.

    Comment by André — January 8, 2014 @ 5:03 am | Reply

    • Hi Andre

      It’s some time ago now and I can’t remember how many blogs I put up on baptism. Hope there are of some interest.



      Comment by barrynewman — January 10, 2014 @ 10:41 am | Reply

  15. Hi Barry, I’m agnostic. However I struggle with science vs religion and how science confirms religion as believable.
    Please shed some light!

    Comment by Saz — May 3, 2014 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

    • Hi Saz,

      Not sure I could shed much light in a short response.

      I’ll make just a few points.

      . It depends what religion you’re talking about. Obviously they can’t all be true and perhaps from your point of view perhaps they’re all false or likely to be. And how would one know?

      . If you were to select Christianity as an object of your investigation – which version of Christianity? There a lot of denominations around and christian weirdo’s and weird christian sects (I’m speaking from my point of view.)

      . I would suggest you try and see things from an historical perspective – all claims historical or otherwise are open to objection but one does make up one’s mind (hopefully on the basis of the evidence) when making the most ordinary of decisions

      . Take the four gospels for starters – written not too long after the events they record, written by those who were intimately involved in those events or closely associated with others who were, written in a style unacceptable as good literature in their day (they appealed to evidence rather than to what were considered the good credentials of the person who was central to their case – he had very few good credentials as far as the ancient world was concerned – a Jew, an untrained Jew, not of the aristocracy, often taught so that people WOULD NOT understand -0 an enigma etc.), the case being made out was that he had come back from the dead never to die again (There is no evidence that anyone in the ancient world ever believed that such a thing could happen in the ordinary world), and the position that was being promoted was that his death as a criminal was God being tough on himself because he wanted to be tender towards us. If one is going to make it all up then how foolish could one be. Who was going to believe it. If they were deluded it meant numbers of them being deluded at different times and indifferent circumstances.

      . By the way, the christianity of the Gospels and the New Testament as a whole is a stand out in terms of its being free from mandatory customs, cultural ceremonies – it focuses on morality, righteousness or whatever you want to call it. It has little interest in self interest or power plays or personal success or freedom from a stressful life. It is all about the issue of righteousness and of course its undergirdings (God himself)

      . But what about science? I haven’t said much. An extraordinarily great and successful enterprise. It seeks for explanations and simplifications. We get a better handle on things, our past present and as best as we can extrapolate. Of course science cannot dictate what can or cannot happen . It assumes regularity because without such an assumption it could never proceed. But Laws are inventions, (to what extent they correctly mirror what the world is really like is always open to debate) of ours made to make sense of what we see but they cannot, just because we created them, prevent an odd thing happening – like a resurrection of Jesus from the dead or like the universe coming to a sudden end or a man called Jesus bringing a four day old dead man back from the dead. If this is God’s world he may well run things according to patterns but it is open to him to alter the pattern momentarily or for however long – whenever he chooses and without creating chaos).

      . Modern science has its roots just about anywhere in the ancient world _ Greece for hypothesising, the Arab world for mathematics, the idea of a “zero” from the Indians and/or Chinese etc. with everybody trying to make sense approaching things with certain presuppositions – we all do that But it got its big launch in western Europe – christian in perspective if not in deep seated ways of living. It saw the universe as being under the control of one god, as being therefore “the same” wherever one looked, that this god had a constancy about him and one would therefore expect him to have a universe which as a whole made sense and being a god never to be confused with his universe he didn’t mind humanity looking at, investigating it. Such were some of the necessary ingredients (there were others such as the existence of wealthy princes who could back scientific enterprises) for the rise of modern science and technology. Interestingly also the necessity of using footnotes, endnotes, references to back up one’s claims in history and elsewhere, it is arguable have their roots in those 4 gospels who departed from their tradition by arguing for the case – the importance of evidence both in the historical and scientific worlds.

      I know that it’s an extraordinary world of galaxies, star systems, planets but it does appear because of the distances involved and the speed of electromagnetic radiation being what it is that we are somewhat isolated from any others “peoples’ but I could be wrong. I know that humanity has been a long time coming on the scene of the tiny earth, given the age of the universe and I know that there are “chancy” aspects (but not all aspects are chancy) of evolutionary development. And that might suggest that there isn’t a God why should he supervise processes which take such long and have such “chanciness” – but that question is to imagine that God was like a human being! And I know that some scientists speak so confidently about a future which will simply see humanity cease to exist after a few more billion or so years – but it is clear even from the scientists point of view it had a (sudden) beginning. It is possible that it will have a sudden end. And I know multi universes are now talked about and that Hawking invented the idea around d about 1973 in order, so he thought, to escape the idea that this universe being special meant there was god, but even multi universes are not beyond a creator’s possibilities!

      In the end your difficulties amount to obtaining good evidence and being able to make good judgements on what they point to but also on your integrity. Would you be prepared to follow the evidence to a reasonable conclusion no matter what that conclusion might be? Would praying to a god something like, “If you’re real and your interested in me and my talking to you makes sense, please teach me the truth and I promise that I will follow the truth wherever it leads me.”

      Actually it’s history you need to be concerned about not science Did these things really happen – what the Gospel writers claim? To make the search shorter and more to the point “Did Jesus really come back from the dead, death never to hold him again, much the way the Gospel writers record/” If you’re up to it you could try looking at the Gospel records themselves asking questions like “why would they lie?” “How could they be deluded?” “Does anything have a certain “ring of truth “ about it?’ You could look at a book by M.R. Licona entitled, “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach” It is fairly heavy going however.

      I’m sorry I can’t say much more I have no idea who you are whether or not you’re for real but I have assumed you are. Very few if any people come to examine such issues free from bias. WE all have biases The question is whether our bias is defensible or not, whether or not personal integrity comes into the picture.

      Anyway, all the best to you

      Barry N.

      Comment by barrynewman — May 5, 2014 @ 8:05 am | Reply

      • Barry, it would be nice to meet up once more.

        Comment by Barry Marx — February 22, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

  16. Dear Barry, I remember you being involved with St. Luke’s Miranda, 63 years ago. You ran prayer meetings after fellowship on Friday nights, in the hall at the back of the little wooden church. We were a younger group and to help us pray out loud, you turned the lights out. It worked! It gives me heart to see what strength and purpose God gave you and what that love has helped you achieve, in the following years. Especially when everywhere you look there is anger, violence and gloom reported. Do you remember the house parties at Rathane on the Hacking River and the St Luke’s hike to Marley, down the coast from Bundeena? I have a photo of the Rathane house party with you in it. That was a lovely era, in that you could mostly do what you liked and were safe. I am Caroline Flood, sister of Pam.

    Comment by Caroline Flood — June 3, 2016 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

    • (This is an automated reply)

      Hi there. We are away for three weeks and won’t have access to email. We look forward to being in touch when we return

      Thank you

      Barry and Laurie Newman

      Comment by barrynewman — June 5, 2016 @ 7:05 am | Reply

    • How nice to hear from you. I do remember all those things except suggesting the lights being out. At the moment I,m in Brisbane returning to Sydney in about three weeks time. I’ll write more when I return to Sydney. With very best wishes


      Sent from my iPad


      Comment by barrynewman — June 21, 2016 @ 8:14 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: