May 28, 2004

In this Sermon the pastor usues the fact that Jesus healed in violation of the Sabbath traditions as a basis for saying that we should use embyonic stem cells for healing purposes: "here, too, we have a religious controversy over whether a traditional prohibition should take precedence over a creative new potential for persons’ health and well-being".

He adds: "I believe the prophetic word being spoken to us in our time is this: 'Why, in the face of so much potential healing for all of humankind—why do you cling to the notion that a several-day-old embryo conceived in a Petri dish is the fullness of human life? Why do you imagine that a microscopic clump of embryonic cells created in a laboratory is the moral equivalent of a human being, or even the moral equivalent of a fetus in a woman’s womb? And why do you believe that harvesting the stem cells from such a clump is anything like the taking of a life, when stretching out before you is such limitless potential for using these cells as a God-given prophetic touch that may heal thousands, and in time millions, of women, men, and children?'"

Interesting argument. I think he could have used a different passage to justify his belief though:
And a man with a withered hand came to Jesus and said "Lord, if you are willing, you can heal my hand".

And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them. And when he had severed his hand from off his arm, he attached it to the arm of the man with the withered hand, and he was healed. And the child and his mother cried out with great wailing. And Jesus said "it is profitable for him that one of thy members should perish"

May 27, 2004

Maybe Chris Stamper has been beating on bush about the war enough to actually make me appreciate Al Gores recent speech against the war. I know that criticism of the speech is failing in a few areas. When Gore says things like "it was bush policy to torture the prisoners of Abu Ghraib" that is putatively false, but there is a more charitable way to read the words, and Gore needs to use that rehtorical effect to get at the issue. Sure, Bush didn't say "go torture them" and he believes the torturers should be punished. But I read Gore to be saying that the confluence of Bush policies and attitudes on terrorism lead through a chain of events to the torture.

I can accept many of the criticisms as valid. It DOES seem that the attack on Iraq assumed we would be greeted as liberators, and that the reconstruction would be a cakewalk. That too few troops were used. But I still have to give Bush credit for trying a strategy that didn't ultimately work. Gore and others looked at the problem of Iraq and decided that NO attack was possible or useful. Bush looked at it and underestimated the challenge. And true to Bush form, he never admits that, but merely changes what he's doing to address the new situation (I think there probably need to be more changes yet to come, though). So I give Bush credit for trying to do something bold about a reasonable and extreme threat to US security, and that even though naysayers may have rightly predicted the current outcome, or warned of the dangers that Bush ignored or downplayed, they could not do so with prophetic infallibility.

So to Gore I say "wow, youre really smart to have known that Bush was applying too little force in Iraq, and that there would be more resitiance to occupation. But admit it, you wouldn't have launched ANY invasion."

May 23, 2004

Someone said there are reformed people who believe "our justification is in some way dependent on the final judgment of our works."

I don't knwo who would say that. Our final justifciation (vindication) will examine our works, and even the way the accusation is phrased seems to say the accuser is admiting their IS a final judgement OF works. But the justification we experience by faith alone now could harly be dependent on a future justification.

I also wonder who claims that "Luther and Calvin misunderstood what Paul was actually teaching and so constructed a false doctrine of justification". Wright has certainly not called the traditional view of justification "false doctrine". Or did I miss something?

John Bunyan seems to agree with N T Wright about vindication in accordance with works (done from faith of course) at the last judgement:
The soul of religion is the practical part: Pure religion and undefiled, before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. This Talkative is not aware of; he thinks that hearing and saying will make a good Christian, and thus he deceiveth his own soul. Hearing is but as the sowing of the seed; talking is not sufficient to prove that fruit is indeed in the heart and life; and let us assure ourselves, that at the day of doom men shall be judged according to their fruits. It will not be said then, Did you believe? but, Were you doers, or talkers only? and accordingly shall they be judged. The end of the world is compared to our harvest; and you know men at harvest regard nothing but fruit. Not that anything can be accepted that is not of faith, but I speak this to shew you how insignificant the profession of Talkative will be at that day.

May 20, 2004

Michael Horton writes:
But a different set of promises is given as well. They pertain not to all the earth, but to Abraham's physical descendants, and they pertain to an earthly land, not to the heavenly rest. These promises are distinguished further by their obvious conditionality. As long as his descendants obey, they will live long in the land, just as Adam's inheritance was dependent on his personal fulfillment of the covenant's conditions....

The Old Covenant contains both the covenant of works (the typological land with its conditional promises) and the covenant of grace (heavenly land with its unconditional foundation in Jesus Christ who has fulfilled the covenant of works). The law is fulfilled at last, not set aside. The wicked are justified under a new federal head. And the conditional promises in the Old Covenant are interpreted as applying solely to the national Israel under the law, bearing its curses with its eventual expulsion from the land. Rather than simply pitting the Old Covenant against the New, then, we recognize a disparity even within the Old Covenant itself
What is striking to me about Horton here is that if he claims that YES, there is a Works aspect to the abrahamic covenant, and that is because there are clearly conditional statements in the covenant, then what about the 5th commandment?

Paul recasts that to believers, and says that if the children honor their parents they will "live long" in the earth. Same kind of coditional language, but obviously addressed to Christians as part of the covenant of grace.


May 18, 2004

Recommendations on an under $250 3MP 3x optial zoom digital camera?

May 17, 2004

My wife pointed out the dumbest statement on fey marrangments this morning on NPR. A homosexual said that now that he was "married" to his partner, his son wouldn't feel like he was different from his peers because his parents were unmarried.

May 12, 2004

When questions are posed to me that make me doubt my assurance of my view of the importance of baptism as a seal - I say "Go argue with Robert Godfrey!"

(tip of the hat to Barb and Doug)

A child receiving allowance conditioned on cleaning the room is very much disanalogous to the situation with Adam.

Getting pay for work when work is complete is not implied by the command not to eat from the tree.

A command that prohibits something is very unlike a command to do something with a promise of reward.

The tree of life was not forbidden to Adam prior to the fall. A more analogous child/parent situation would be a prohibition on driving a car, a grant of unlimited funds for cab fare, and warning of dire consequences for the untrained driver to drive. And when the inevitable crash happened, the parent teaches the consequences of rebellion in driving the car by taking away the cab fare resource.

Imperfect analogy, but better than an allowance analogy, which removes a fundamental feature of the existing grant of the tree of life.

The editor/graders red pen:

"An example of this approach to justification comes from N.T. Wright in his commentary on Romans 2:13, which presents the law principle, "the doers of the law will be justified." Wright sees in this [speaking of the Last Judgement] not a contrast with the gospel, as Paul so vehemently insists throughout that epistle when it comes to justification (see Romans 3:10, which tells us that no one qualifies by this standard, and Romans 3:20-28, especially verse 28 which pointedly makes the very contrast that Wright denies, "For we hold that one is justified by faith [in the present] apart from works of the law")."

"Where Adam failed, despite his sinless state, we sinners are now to succeed if we are to be declared just by God."

I deny this.

We who were once sinners apart from Christ, now accepted as Just before God in Christ, are empowered by the Spirit in Christ to succeed and to be declared faithful and just before God.

I'll have to ask Strodbeck if lutherans ever predicate peccator of Christians in Christ.

A few weeks ago, my daugter (5 y.o.) picked up her bible and was reading it.

"Daddy, this says that, um, you shouldn't boil a goat in its mother's milk"


"You're right honey. It does say that. Isn't that interesting. Its probably because that would be kinda cruel"

A few days ago I'm on the computer and she's sitting in the room.

"I think I'll read my Bible"

"That's great honey"

"Now King David was very old, and no matter how many blankets covered him, he could not keep warm."

(uh oh)

"So his advisers told him, "We will find a young virgin who will wait on you and be your nurse. She will lie in your arms and keep you warm." So they searched throughout the country for a beautiful girl, and they found Abishag from Shunem and brought her to the king. The girl was very beautiful, and she waited on the king and took care of him. But the king had no sexual relations with her"

"Very good reading, dear"

There is certainly much to consider in Phillips PCRT Address on "Covenant Confusion".

I have to profess ignorance of Ralph Smith's book on Eternal Covenant which argues for viewing the root of covenant in the ontology of the trinitarian relationship.

I have read Smith's essay on the Trinitarian Covenant in John 17 and I would assume that the gist of that essay finds some kind of expression in Smith's book. To me the essay provides compelling exegetical support for Smith's idea, support that should be argued against by Phillips is some form. The gospel of John should be a locus for addressing Rahner's claim about the economic trinity revealing the ontological and Smith establishes to the point to my mind merely by citing John 15:9-10
Not less important than the covenantal idea of God's presence is John's emphasis on the love of the Father for the Son. The Father loves the Son before the foundation of the world (17:24) and, because of that love, He shows all things to the Son (5:20) and has given all things into the Son's hand (3:35). This love is set forth in explicitly covenantal terms, clearly alluding to the language of Deuteronomy: "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (15:9-10 cf. Dt. 7:9, 12; 10:12; 11:1 ff.; 11:13 ff.; etc.). Or again: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father" (10:17, 18b). The Father loves the Son because the Son keeps the Father's commandments (15:9-10); the Son does His will (4:34; 5:30; 6:39-40) and fulfills the commission given to Him (17:4). Also, through covenantal obedience, the Son proves His love to the Father for all the world to see: "But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence" (14:31).

May 10, 2004

I think I liked the old blogger better, but thats just based on a first impression

May 08, 2004

I'm not saying that the treatment of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib was morally acceptable, but I predict that by the time all of this comes out, some of the abuses will be seen in a less negative light.

If Romans 7 is really an autobiographical accountof Pauls' conversion, when was he without the law, and when did the law come to him, and when was he alive without the law?

Are not the works of a Spirit empowered man, the works of a new creature in Christ? Are the works of that man never to be regarded as the righteous deeds performed by that man, even as God would have regarded Adam's natural good works as worthy of being justified if he had never sinned?

Some questions provoked by Joel's exegetical proposal on Romans 2:13

Why is the law a ministration of death? Is it in the character of the law itself? Its content? Its means of transmission? Or its recipients?

Why is there a distinction being made between a fulfilling of the law in love as an outworking of faith and a "doing of the law" which faith is counted as. What is the experiential difference between a Gentile who "does the law" and a gentile who is "fulfilling the law in love as an outworking of his faith"? It seems to me rather that the ideas are synonymous. His faith isn't *counting* as doing the law, but his faith is active: doing the law.

How would the following fit with what Joel expressed in his proposal: Those who have faith now are accounted now as "doers of law," for a "doer of law" is the subject of the righteous verdict of Torah that gives life as its intention: "the one who does these things shall live by them". As they are accounted now as a "doer of law", they find that are in union with Christ's Spirit, for all who have faith in the Messiah receive the Spirit of the messiah. The Spirit of Messiah in them empowers them to have a life that is in fact pleasing to God. Nothing the Spirit empowers them to do in any way fails to please God: no enmity toward God exists in their deeds done.

Joel says that "doing the law" cannot be in any way interpreted in terms of obedience that avails before God for (even our final) justification. I'm not entirely sure why. I guess more needs to be spelled out about the nature of the kind of judgment the last judgment will be. It will be a judgment of our works, then why should we not expect to find that Spirit empowered obedience will be rewarded by God? They will not avail to cause God to regard an unbeliever as a righteous man, but if the purpose of the law to give life is to find its teleos at last how can God avoid.

Why does Joel in the final analysis only say that it can be said that those who "count" as doers of the law who will be justified as if their actual Spirit-empowered good works will not receive a vindication as righteous works at the last judgment?

May 07, 2004

Are Wright's remarks about commonplace lutheranism uninformed here? (Commentary on Romans, pp. 655-656)
[10:4] The mainstream opinion...has for many years been the Lutheran or similar understanding, in which "the law" simply leads people into works-righteousness or self-righteousness, into the attempt to achieve their own justficaition and salvation. If we come to the verse with that assumption, it appears natural to read it, like the NEB, as :"Christ ends the law and brings righteounsess for everyone who has faith"...This reading has become extremely common at a popular level, and one is used to hearing it quoted as an excuse for any and every form of antinominaism. At that level too it has become a focus of controversey between broadly Lutheran views (seeing the law as a negative force) and Calvinist ones (seeing it as positive). But the broadly Lutheran view has the widest currency.
Mark Horne seems to think Wright is not offtrack here, in reacting to Hortons attamept to make Calvin and Luther all niceynicey on the goal of the law
But there are several factors which militate against this thesis. It is clear from his commentaries, first of all, that for Calvin the condemning function of the law was "accidental" to its true purpose, whereas for Luther it was principle [sic: principal] (see Luther, Comm. Gal.3.19). In his commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:7, Calvin writes, "To kill is thus a perpetual and inevitable accident (accidens) of the Law." This point is made more elaborately in his comments on Romans 7:10, "We need to make this distinction between the nature of the law and our own wickedness. It follows from this that it is an accident that the law inflicts a mortal wound on us, just as if an incurable disease were rendered more acute by a healing remedy. The accident, I admit, is inseparable from the law, and for this reason the law, as compared with the Gospel, is elsewhere referred to as 'the ministration of death'. The point, however, holds good, that the law is not injurious us to by its own nature, but because our corruption provokes and draws upon us its curse."

What's the deal with "maths"? Why do people say "the maths was hard (were hard?)" instead of "the math was hard". I can think of no reason to used "maths" unless I was speaking of multiple, very different mathematical systems.

I don't recall the term "maths" used in any of my math classes.

"Maths" just seems hard to pronounce too.

Sullivan "If those issues are the criteria for allowing someone in public life to receive Communion as a Catholic, then the Church, in effect, is endorsing one political party over another." It strikes me that this is more a blot on the Democrat party than on the Catholic Church. Too bad the national dems don't allow for more diversity of their candidates on these issues.

Rick Phillip's questions about Wright's interpretation of texts that speak plainly of justification (that is, a verdict of life) according to works at the last judgement have sent me into Wright's commentary on Romans, which I have yet to fully digest. Wright is truly trying to get the total picture of Romans. You can't just read his comments on the one verse that is at the center of the controversey (whether 2:13 or 5:16 or 8:4) and get Wright's full interpretation of Paul's theology and the argument. Wright helpfully provides the cross references within his commentary, but you really have to go look at the other areas of the text (particularly his section on Romans 10) to get the gist of how Wright is getting where he is.

I'm appreciative but also frustrated by Wright's desire to sweep away the reformation controversies over these texts and try to get at what Paul said and meant to his hearers at the moment he wrote. I certainly affirm that Biblical revelation is continuously applicable, but I can also see that many times the controversies of later ages use the Biblical data through the lens of later theology. This too is part of the Spirit's work within the church so it needs to be taken seriously, but it means that we have to use great care in sorting out the issues involved.

Wright on Romans 10 is a real gem of a piece, and certainly affirms present justification by faith alone.

Wrights comments on 8:4 are the key to understanding his reading of a final justification according to works, not with a basis in the merits and death of Christ.

Wrights concern (as he has said has long been the case for hismelf) is Paul's view of Torah. A question that needs to be asked of any soteriology is the status of torah at the end of the narrative. Will a future verdict of the individual people of the Messiah merely reflect the Messiah's accomplishment of Torah on their behaf, or will torah be accomplished by the people as it was intended to be?

Remember Wright's corporate Christology here. Torah is not a set of laws for an individual to get right with God, but instructions for a people of God to live together harmonoiousely in the land of their inheritace. They will be exiled from it for sin, but they will be returned to their inheritacce by Yahweh to again keep Torah and to have life through the doing of the torah. [more detail later]

For Wright, Romans 8:4 states that God's intention is that the 'righteous verdict' (not requirements) of the law be fulfiled 'in us'. "The life that Torah intended, indeed longed, to give to God's people is now truly given by the Spirit". The same commandment that brought death because of sinful flesh brings life because of the indwelling Spirit. That lifebringing is not a compromise of present justification by faith, but is a future verdict corresponding to the present verdict and will follow from "but not be earned or merited by" the life led by the Spirit.

The Spirits present work in the believer (by indwelling, in union with the Spirit-indwelt Messiah) is an anticipation of the future work of ressurection. And ressurection to eternal life is the future vindication of the presently Spirit-led person. There can be no de-coupling of a Spirit-directed life (directed in the sense that the Israelites were directed by the Shekinah in the wilderness: was there any comprehension of merit in following the dictates of a pillar of cloud?) and the vindication that comes by ressurection by that same Spirit.

Wright's point is simply this "through the action of the Sprit in the present, those who are in Christ are walking on the road that will lead to the ressurection of the body... [T]he same Spirit who will raise Christ's people at the last inspires within them in the present a life that is neither corruptible‐it will stand at the judgement (cf. I Cor 3:10-17)‐nor rebellious, but which conformd to Gods' will for humankind. Torah is thereby vindicated; the problem of Romans 7 is thereby solved"

May 06, 2004

Musicologyman turned a great phrase in a comment below:

"The indecency industry"

Friends was unfortunately a part of that industry it its own way.

I liked this essay on Friends, particularly the way it compared it to the wittier Seinfeld, comparing the equally vain charcaters who differed mainly in their need to be entertained (Seinfeld) versus their need for affection and being liked (Friends).

It made me recall the bitingly funny epsiode of Seinfeld where Elaine gets a Courtney Cox haircut, and discovers the key to relationships is to mouth the words "I'll be there for you".

I was highly entertained by some of the commercials. The babies were as much prop as the duck and chicken.

God looks on the inward heart, but man on the outward appearance.

This will not change in the resurrection will it? Will we look on each other's hearts the way God does now?

So if the resurrection and last judgment will be our "public acquittal" (WLC q.90) it stands to reason that God will point to the 'outward evidence' of our works (done in Christ, of course) in declaring us to be his righteous ones.

This question is an old one I had in childhood. Why do we have to wait for a final judgment? Or is the final one redundant? Evangelism explosion pushes the final one off the page: "if you died tonight, what would you say?" Why is there obviously some kind of judgment at death, but then a 'final' one which seems to be quite public in character? Why do we sometimes forget how public the last judgment will be? Because we are individualists, who think we'll be taken to a room by ourselves to watch the movie of our lives?

At a public acquittal, will the judge declare to the gathered public the secret evidence that only he can see? Is hell guantanamo bay?

The judgment of the sheep and the goats is surprise evidence, but not secret evidence.

May 04, 2004

Had a dental appointment this morning after about a two year hiatus. I was concerned because I'd been having some pain in my left back teeth. Since it had been so long I was worried I'd have massive cavities and need root canals or something. I'd been worrying this for a while, since the pain has been around for awhile. Usually it worse in the morning when I wake up, but then i figure I was getting used to it during the day so I wasn't noticing it as much.

Well it turned out that I didn't have cavities (there at least) but rather my tendency to clench and grind my teeth at night was the cause of the pain. Stress related. Well at least now I won't be worrying about my teeth, which is a relief. I'm getting a night guard.

May 03, 2004

Pam asks in my comments about my reaction to Rick Phillips on the controversey about Federal Visionists. I didn't hear Rick at PCRT. Maybe I'm insane, but I don't take PCRTs as being the "100% pure Tenth view" on topics anyway.

I note for instance, while Phillips is very hesitant to affirm any centrality to the assuring quality of the event of baptism, another former Tenth associate pastor who moved to florida (eerie, huh?) quotes Boice approvingly to the way a "seal" is something that authenticates and validates something else, and also says that when we have doubts, we should say as Luther did "I am baptized!" (Marion Clark, in Give Praise to God)

It seems to me that if you can't look at the seal to have assurance of the validity of the thing sealed then what's the point of calling a seal a validating thing?

De script shun




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