July 30, 2004

I wish I had a friend with a vast anime DVD collection I could mooch off of. I want to see Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Serial Experiments Lain, and a couple of others, but I don't want to buy them and I can't find a convenient way to rent them and watch them gradually in spare moments.

Oh and the friend would have to be a nice person and not some wierd anime fan

Best line from this article about a gang of plus-sized shoplifters
several arrests have been made but some of these women are still at large

Last night, John Kerry said "We believe in the family value expressed in one of the oldest Commandments: "Honor thy father and thy mother." As President, I will not privatize Social Security. I will not cut benefits."

Wow. And theocons get yelled at for imposing their religious views on the matter of stem-cell research and abortion.

Even Mark Sheilds thought that one was over the top.

A link to a Bush speech today where he responds to Kerry a bit onC-SPAN

UPDATE: He wants congress to legilatively mandate comp time and flex time?

Good speech, but how I wish he was a real conservative.

July 29, 2004

Today at the Battle of Pea Ridge, the Confederate army held out for quite some time against the Union (my) onslaught. But not long enough. A final bold move by the Union was able to rout the greycoats from the field.

Superior Union cavalry maneuverability was instrumental for early Union gains (the confederates had no cards to counterattack on the left flank). The Confederacy continued to display the superior skill in marksmanship, with the second general picked off by sniping.

The Union won with a 2 unit difference in the end, bringing the campaign score to put the Union ahead by 1.

On to Kernstown, in the next game of the Battle Cry campaign.

July 28, 2004

Though the Pontificator has hard-to-read font, I add him to the blogroll. Good stuff.

The Pontificator has a very helpful post explaining the usefulness of seeing the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone as a hermeneutical rule, rather than as a descriptive theory of salvation. One could abuse the doctrine itself by setting out the Faith that justifies as some kind of meritorious work, and I suppose one could also rightly, as Calvin and Edwards do, specify all the ways in which our good works and evangelical obediences are certainly not acceptable as if they were "works" (properly defined), but only for the way in which those obediences themselves are of faith and receive Christ.

Obviously the latter will be more controversial than the former.

I think though that the recent unpleasantness is coming from those of the other side being unable to hear what Lusk or Shepherd or even Calvin and Edwards is saying as if it was being said with this hermeneutical rule. Maybe we have to try harder. Edwards certainly is qualifying things enough for my tastes, but even he has been declared off limits.

For all the affirmations of the belief in justification by faith, because we're actually talking about works in the final judgment all that language is overpowering the grammar.

Understanding the grammatical "rule" being expected here is still not to say that its not in itself an imposition on biblical language. If we have to say "nothing" in answer to the question "What must I do to be saved", we're making ourselves holier than the apostles in Acts 2. I am recalling Daniel Fuller's complaint that later Luther makes his doctrine itself a "rule of faith" to which all words of scripture have to conform. There is a problem there. Pontificator sees it with imputation, interestingly enough.

The First Battle of Bull Run was won by the Confederacy (my co-worker).

It was much more close, and the cards were not distributed so wildly. The Union fortifications on turn 2 proved very effective protection.

I was ahead 5 to 4 until the final turn, when he took 2 units simultanously. Had he not taken me out, I would have likely won on the following turn.

More Battle Cry tomorrow.

July 27, 2004

These are some comments on the latest White Horse Inn

I was fairly disappointed last time around that they decided to waste several minutes beating Finney's rotting corpse, instead of getting to more substantive questions. Here they also could have said more specificity about where their "opponents" get things wrong.

One key thing that stood out to me that I woke up to from my past interactions with Strodtbeck, is that Horton explicitly is denying the WCF's distinction between faith and assurance, and rather affirming that faith has to consist in assurance that Christ's atonement is applied for me. If Horton is going to criticize the others for deviance, I'd think that he should make clearer his own deviance.

While very superficial, there were some questionable elements in Horton's account of Romans 7. Paul's being "alive without the law once" was implied to refer to a time prior to Paul's conversion when he was "without the law" because I suppose the law had not really made any impact upon his consciousness, though we'd have to say that Paul was schooled in the law from his youth. While that interpretation saves the appearances of the standard Reformation model of Romans, I still question it as to its exegetical basis. Is it firm enough to hang everything else upon?

Horton and Co want to make sure that no "imperatives" ever function as imperatives for the Christian that actually move the Christian to try to follow the imperative. That will somehow avoid crushing the troubled conscience. I'm not so sure. Tell my troubled conscience that its just supposed to be that I *DO* no longer live in Sin any longer, I still am presented with the counterevidence in my life and I have trouble seeing how the "paradox" of re-preaching an imperativeless message of salvation will actually help me. Its counterbiblical, where Paul seems perfectly content to throw some imperatives at saved people once in a while.

Horton really has to stop claiming that Shepherd is equating faith with obedience. He just isn't. And even if the Call of Grace doesn't contain the words "Justification by Faith Alone", Shepherd's thesis 10 does

I have to say I liked Horton's complaint against lacking verbal confessions of sin on the part of the congregation, where we get to say "I am a miserable offender". These confessions are also missing in the liturgies of churches closely associated with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

July 26, 2004

Porn is probably not a $10 billion dollar business according to Forbes magazine

John Barach linked to a interview NT Wright did affirming the bodily resurrection of believers. In it, Wright gives a very cogent explanation of 1 Cor 15 in a way that makes the meaning very clear
The word "spiritual" in 1 Corinthians 15 comes from the Greek "pneuma." But the word is pneumatikos. Greek adjectives that end in ?kos do not describe the substance out of which something is made. They describe the force that is animating the thing in question. It's the difference between saying on the one hand, "Is this a wooden ship or a steel ship?" and saying on the other hand, "Is this a nuclear-powered ship or a steam-powered ship?" And the sort of adjective it is of the latter type, it's a spirit-powered body.
Very helpful, I think, and grammatico-historical too!

I'm wondering if this way of thinking is helpful in contemplating the mode of presence of Christ in the Supper. The Reformed have said that the presence is Spiritual, and hopeful have intended that to mean by the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is made present.

Come to think of it, maybe this isn't helpful at all. For if the Spirit were the "engine" of the presence of Christ, it would not be in contrast to his pre-resurrection ordinary flesh, since that kind of engine is already past in Christ's life. I'd also have to wonder about the transition from the pre-resurrection life of Christ, where his body would not be "Spirit-engined" to the resurrection where this is the case, when so many times in the NT, Christ prior to his resurrection seems to manifest an alreadyness to some of the resurrection qualities of his body. Or are those merely the result of his incarnate deity?

Maybe I'm just wondering why it sometimes seems needlessly complicated that Jesus goes from incarnate Deity to resurrected incarnate Deity with his flesh's engine changing from natural/psuchicos to Spiritual/pneumatos. When Christ manifests the power of his deity in his incarnation, is that any less impressive as what he manifests as his Spirit-engines humanity? What's the big difference? What is communicated by the similarity?

July 23, 2004

Yesterday I played a game of Battle Cry with a co-worker during lunch. We had fun, so we're going to play through all the scenarios as a linked campaign game. I'll be the Union, and he the Confederacy.

It was good to get the game in. I have many games in my collection, and little opportunity to play them without sacrificing other things. Most of my games aren't very five-year-old-friendly so I'm glad to have the chance to play some of my preferred games with adults.

The game was tense. The play is driven by the hand of card each player holds, which allows you to attack on a particular front, with a limited number of pieces. Some cards let you do other more specialized things. He got a lot of good Attack and Assault cards and I only had Skirmishes and Probes. But I held on, and the tide of bad to good card improved for me later on. The game is scored by how many units are completely eliminated, and at the Confederate lowpoint he had eliminated 4 of mine and I had none. But by the games end we both had 5 each, and a good artillery blast nailed his last one.

I enjoyed logging into boardgamegeek and recording our play on their graph. There are many more plays of Battle Cry, than Birds Bugs and Beans, all of which are mine, by the way.

Boulder Games had a sale last Saturday night which actually included Hegemon, the first magazine game from Against the Odds, so I decided to pick that up along with Age of Napoleon. I'm really looking forward to playing Age of Napoleon, but finding time and another player will be the rub.

Hey, since we're homeschooling, perhaps I can encourage my wife to learn the game as aid to refreshing her (and my) memory of European history for schooling purposes.

While I think the gaming hobby is a fine one for the reasons specified here, I'm amused by the authors ability to claim any really enjoyment from "Action Figure Collecting." He obviously doesn't know the position of Action Figure Collecting in the geek hierarchy

July 22, 2004

What's the point of the view that says Genesis 1 (to 11 I suppose) is polemic against pagan myths? Does God just oppose myths with other myths? How far does that extend? What about all the comaprisons that God makes from activities we don't view as mythological (various "recreations" when new covenant's come in, etc)

Chris Williams pointed me here for more about how much like the ANE myths the bible is. Ok, then what?

Abram: Your stories of all these gods are nonsense. One God made the heavans and the earth, and the sun is a just a big lamp for his house.

Sargon: Say what? Ennuma Elish doesn't say that

Abram: Well, Yahweh, told me that you just made up your stories about the creation, and he's told me the real one: "In the begining, Elohim created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was tohu and bohu and darkness was over Tiamat," Note please, that tiamat is just the chaos water, she's not a dragon.

Sargon: You just made all that up!

Abram: Well you made up yours first. Mine's better.

Sargon: Get out of here!

Abram: Fine, Yahweh's telling me to go to the land of canaan and I'm going to live there and have a whole nation. God Most High told Him he could have Canaan an an inheritance and he's giving it to ME!

Sargon: You? Your 80 years old?

July 21, 2004

A frequent question comes up concerning Genesis 1 with respect to the Light of day 1 and the lights of Day 4. Here are my comments on different ways to understand it

Framework: this way of understanding it says that Genesis 1 is about 7 pictures of creation, and the light of Day 1 is a realm, that is filled with a ruler on day 4. Supporting this is the whole "plant contradiction" of Genesis 1 and 2, which is supposed to be a clue that this is not a chronology, and the very "strangeness" of light without a sun, which is supposed to also be a clue. The latter support is a bit of question begging. Notice how the Idea of a realm of "light" and the astral rulers being set up over that realm is not connected to any particular activity of God. These are just ideas. (if they're not, please tell me what is being narrated?)

Hugh Ross-type scientific reinterpretation: God making light on Day 1 is actually the big bang, which is the first emergence of energy (= light) in the universe. Ross probably has an explanation of what it means that the light alternates with dark, but I suspect he ignores it as a "feature" of the text. Its been a long while since I've read Ross. Later, the clouds of hydrogen gas (water above) coalesce (firmament) and the astral bodies are formed (day 4 information).

Genre criticism: The personalized chaos and night of pagan myth are opposed by the mythology that the Bible presents, where God merely makes light succeed over darkness rather than battling it like Marduk. Again, we're out of the realm of having events related to us. Worrying about light without a sun is ignoring the genre of the text, which is not a narrative.

Ancient interpreters/Church Fathers: According to Josh Strodbeck, most of them threw up their hands and said that the ideas of Genesis 1 are too lofty for us to really understand. Perhaps light without sun is one of those lofty ideas, and thus we should get beyond expecting any kind of communication to be taking place to our finite minds beyond "god made it"

I don't worry about light without a sun. I think one thing we should all recognize is that the universe created in Genesis 1 is of course the universe that the Israelites knew and experienced (that's pretty much a tautology). Because the Israelites saw phenomena in a particular "naive" way (they way it actually looks to anyone, so I'm not being perjorative) then when Genesis 1 describes God making a sky, there is no problem that the way the sky is described implies a hard dome. This doesn't mean that God literally made a hard dome (though Israelites may have thought so), but that the thing that God made called the sky has the appearance of a dome (as it *does*). If in actual fact, the sky is just a volume of space and reflected light from the sun makes it dome-like that is no reason to question the record in Genesis 1. Additionally, the setting of the astral bodies in the sky, where they move about an eclipse one another actually provides some indication that while the sky can be viewed as a dome in one perspective, the ancients were also well aware that it contained a volume of space.

So in looking up at the universe God made, Israelites would notice that it gets light before they see the sun at dawn. And it remains light after the sun sets. They would notice that the blue sky itself is bright, and the light does not seem to emanate from the Sun. Now in scientific fact, the photons emerging from the blue sky originated in the Sun, as is the remaining light of dusk and dawn. But in explaining those phenomena, Genesis 1 declares that the actual light of these phenomena has it's source in a separate creation event of God. Beams of sunlight come from the sun made on day 4: the general light seen that doesn't appear (to a naive observer) to come from the Sun is made on Day 1.

(If we *have* to have some source of transmission for that light, I have no problem with seeing the source as the Spirit himself, hovering. The spirit manifests light in a great many other places in scripture, which is oddly lost on Kline, who explains those texts beautifully (in Images of the Spirit), but is perturbed by sunless light in Genesis 1.)

Now my explanation I feel has the following positive features 1) it doesn't mess with the text's apparent relating of chronological events. 2) it's focused on the reading comprehension of the original hearers (which the Hugh Ross or Augustinian via Strodbeck positions don't) 3) it's possibly compatible with genre considerations, but for feature #1. 4) its focused on actual phenomena, not just ideas (which is the fault of the Framework)

The problem is we're getting pretty close to claiming that Genesis 1 describes the creation of things in a certain way that we know from only slightly less naive observation are not the case. The light from the pre-dawn sky IS from the sun, so before God made the sun it actually wouldn't exist. The Spirit-transmission concept can help us here.

I think the only alternative is that Genesis 1 is less a text that was revealed to mankind in the way the Son spoke his message to the disciples or even Paul received his inspiration to write his epistles, but rather is God working with the Israelite's incorrect conception of the cosmos, without challenging it very much. It was correctly interpreted by the Israelites in a rather more literal manner, but it not our calling to try to do so.

The reason I favor this is that that way I can actually still enjoy the features of the text that I believe are actually there that the audience could note and exegete (the "plant plot", the way we move from vegetarianism to meat eating, the role of the "waters above" play in the flood, etc), but a framework hypothesis instead declares as tensions and contradictions that are supposed to indicate the true meaning is that we're not dealing with a narrative. All the other ways of reading the text tell me I have to ignore or obfuscate certain features of the text.

The only problem with this is that in addition, many texts of scripture including NT ones seem to rely on the same texts taken as narrative (Peter's description of the world made from water and in water, etc), so the same distance needs to be made as I go along reading the rest of the bible. It certainly feels different from the inerrancy I was raised on. I'd have the same cognitive dissonance if I felt compelled to think that 2 timothy wasn't written by Paul or Daniel wasn't written by Daniel, and the claim in the text that it was needs to be relativized by what ancient people thought about attribution.

That's where I feel the issues raised by the scientific problems with creation might ultimately lead: genre with a vengeance.

There, that helped me think this through.

Fascinating. Dean voted to allow a 65 year old woman to marry her 85 year old maternal uncle.

Leviticus prohibits uncle and aunt marriage, but allows interestingly enough, for cousin marriage. Assuming those laws have any relevance to us today.

The question of genre is sometimes raised concerning Genesis 1. I'm not up on all the claims of what genre will tell us about how to interpret Genesis 1. If the genre is supposed to be "creation myth", like that every culture in the ANE had, and then God is simply writing a "creation myth" for israel that contravenes pagan claims of polytheism and humans as slaves of vindictive hungry gods I'm again not sure what that does with inerrancy.

Is God saying, "No, Marduk did not fight tiamat, kill her, split her in two, and make the sky. I made the sky, seperating waters above from waters below"

If so, what meaning should we attach to the idea of waters above and waters below? What meaning should we attach to his claim that he did it in one day? All the genre stuff I have read seems to only say "Genesis is contradicting the pagan myths of the time". I'm not sure how that actually explains what is meant by things in the text.

Should we turn Genesis 1 into a cleverly devised fable?

On the question of similar historical narratives, while none I can think of have a 7 day structure, the Babel acccount is highly structured and stylized (chiastic, with lots of wordplay). I suppose we could also question it severely in terms of scientific claims about language change and archaeological evidence. So does how does a genre discussion help us there?

July 20, 2004

I'm working on a Trinitarian analylis of having my cake and eating it too.

Doug Wilson writes
If someone says something in his own defense, it is simply assumed that he is angling for his own vindication, not the Lord's. But we don't apply this foolishness to other aspects of our lives, nor should we. I thank God for the food, but I also buy the food with the paycheck that I earned. The biblical position on all such matters is trust, not quietism. If someone defends himself vigorously against slander (as the apostle Paul frequently did), this is not evidence that he was not trusting God.
I know of a Christian worker who was having trouble with beaurocracy. He wrote of his frustration and that he was hiring a lawyer. He lost the support of a church for "not trusting God"

John Leo engages in a bit of defining deviancy down with respect to the revelations of Jack Ryan's divorce
Judging by the Trib's self-righteous prose, you could be pardoned for thinking we were discussing the Pentagon Papers, not a mildly kinky sexual request that was never acted upon. How is this the business of the news media? A reader wrote the Trib: "What goes on between a man and his wife behind the figurative bedroom door is entirely a private matter beyond the province of responsible journalism." Ryan is not a very sympathetic figure. He apparently told the Republican leadership that there was nothing embarrassing in his divorce records, and some Republicans are bitter about being misled. But after the disclosure, Ryan said he had broken no commandment and no law and had never cheated on his wife. Jeri Ryan said that, as far as she knew, this was true. [emphasis mine]
When you're having sex in front of strangers its really no longer a wholely "private matter". The "bedroom door" argument only has any plausibility when its actually shut.

As I said below, marriage is a public covenant, and divorces are public proceedings. Trying to throw up a zone of privacy when your public covenant is broken is a reasonable thing to do to cover your shameful behavior, but it doesn't mean that we can redefine marriage to get around that little problem.

James Jordan makes several arguments against the plausibility of the text of  Genesis 1 being a true, yet merely poetic, account here. In addition to the whole problem of gnosticism, subverting real events and history for ideas about history, there are textuall matters that Jordan claims have never been refuted
My purpose here is not to deal with the underlying suppositions of modern science, but to point to the clear meaning of Genesis 1. There is no way we can hold to the Framework Hypothesis of Genesis 1 and still have an inerrant Bible.

It is interesting to note that the Framework Hypothesis has been thoroughly refuted over and over again, and yet it has more adherents today than ever before. G. C. Aalders of the Free University of Amsterdam pointed out in 1932 that (1) in the text of Genesis 1 there is not a single allusion to suggest that the days are to be regarded as a merely stylistic device, and that (2) Exodus 20:11 presents God's activity as a pattern for man, and this fact presupposes that there was a reality in the activity of God that man is to copy. As E. J. Young of Westminster Theological Seminary pointed out in his book Studies in Genesis One (Phillipsburg, NJ: Pres. & Ref. Pub. Co., 1964), no one bothered to answer Aalders. Young himself went on for fifty pages refuting the Framework Hypothesis, and to my knowledge nobody has tried to refute Young.

Recently, Kenneth Gentry has summarized the exegetical arguments against the Framework Hypothesis as follows: "(1) `Day' is qualified by `evening and morning' (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), which specifically limits the time-frame. (2) The very same word `day' is used on the fourth day to define a time period that is governed by the sun, which must be a regular day (Gen. 1:14). (3) In the 119 instances of the Hebrew word `day' (yom) standing in conjunction with a numerical adjective (first, second, etc.) in the writings of Moses, it never means anything other than a literal day. Consistency would require that this structure must so function in Genesis 1. (4) Exodus 20:9-11 patterns man's work week after God's original work week, which suggests the literality of the creation week. (5) In Exodus 20:11 the plural for the "days" of creation is used. In the 702 instances of the plural "days" in the Old Testament, it never means anything other than literal days." (Kenneth Gentry, The Greatness of the Great Commission [Tyler, TX: ICE, 1991], p. 9.)

We can add two other arguments to Gentry's. First, there are several other places in the books of Moses where we have seven "panels" of things. These seven-step passages cover the same seven aspects of creation as the seven days of creation, but without using the word "day." For instance, in Exodus 25-31, we find seven speeches of the Lord, telling Moses how to build the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is an architectural model of the world. Each of God's seven speeches is introduced with the phrase "Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying," or some variant of this phrase (Ex. 25:1; 30:11, 17, 22, 34; 31:1, 12). Allowing for the fact that the Tabernacle is a symbolic cosmos, we can see the seven speeches of Exodus 25-31 covering the same ground as Genesis 1. For instance, the third speech (Ex. 30:17-21) concerns the laver, the sea in the Tabernacle, corresponding to Day 3 in Genesis 1. The sixth speech (Ex. 31:1-11) appoints the man who will build the Tabernacle, corresponding to Day 6 when man was created. The seventh speech (Ex. 31:12-17) concerns the sabbath, which was Day 7. (For a full discussion of this and several other seven-section passages, see my paper, "The Tabernacle: A New Creation" [Tyler, TX: Biblical Horizons, Box 1096, Niceville, Fl. 32588; 1988], and also my book Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy [Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989].)

Second, the Framework Hypothesis has to hold that the events recounted in Genesis 1 never happened. Quite apart from the matter of "days," Genesis 1 makes a whole series of claims that the Framework Hypothesis says are false.

Let's be clear about this: We are discussing what the text claims happened. Genesis 1:7 says that an event happened in which God made a "firmament" and separated waters above the firmament from those below. The Framework Hypothesis says that this event never happened. According to it, all Genesis 1:7 means is that this configuration came into being as a result of the evolutionary plan of God.

Genesis 1:9 says that God gathered all the waters on the earth into one place, and that the dry land appeared. The Framework Hypothesis says that as an event, this never happened.

Repeatedly throughout the chapter, the text claims that God said things. These are events. We might interpret Genesis 1 and suppose that since human beings were not on the scene, God did not "speak" in audible tones. We might even say that these phrases mean that He "put forth His Word," and thus refer to the work of the Second Person of the Trinity. The point, however, is that the text claims that God did these things, said these things, as discrete actions. The Framework Hypothesis says that God never did these things, that no such individual acts ever occurred. According to the Framework Hypothesis, all Genesis 1 means is that God's Word (or "wordness") lies behind everything that came into being over the course of who knows how long a time. The Framework Hypothesis denies that there was a certain time in history when God said "Let there be light," and another, different, event in history when God said, "Let the waters teem."

To put it simply, Genesis 1 clearly claims that certain events took place, and the Framework Hypothesis says that those events simply did not take place. The Framework Hypothesis denies the specific claims of the text: The text as it stands is in error; these things never actually happened. All we are supposed to learn from the text, according to the Framework Hypothesis, is the idea that God made everything, and ordered it.

July 19, 2004

Ok, if the extra-calvinisticum means this

Third, there is the question of religious pluralism. Again, I believe that Anna Case-Winters has pointed us to the rich resources in our own tradition for thinking about the issues involved in this question. It is precisely this seemingly arcane doctrine called the extra-Calvinisticum that indicates the way forward. Calvin affirmed that the logos or the Word of God was fully incarnate in the human Jesus, but not in such a manner that the Word of God was circumscribed, limited, or exhausted by the human Jesus.

It was here, of course, that Calvin had his principal Christological difference with Luther, and this Christological 'extra' in Calvin's theology led to a different understanding of the presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper from that held by Luther. Jesus is not God, but God is fully incarnate in Jesus. Again, everything hangs on the crucial distinction between the human and divine natures in Christ. For the Lutherans, Calvin was guilty of the ancient Christological heresy called 'Nestorianism,' of separating the two natures with the result that there are two Christs, not one. Yet his intention was not to separate but to distinguish.

In spite of Lutheran charges that Calvin works with an insufficient Christology, I believe that Calvin correctly understood the dangers of idolatry lurking in the failure to make this distinction between the human and divine natures properly. We do not worship a human being; that would be idolatry of a high order! We worship the one God, made known to Moses and the prophets, and then fully revealed in Jesus of Nazareth. The fact that the Word of God, while incarnate in Jesus nonetheless transcends the finite human person Jesus, is the way to begin thinking about our present encounter with non-Christian religions

then I'm getting off.

Jesus is God, and it is not the case that the full incarnation of God into Jesus means he was not simultaneously as omnipresent in his divinity as before.

God is infinite. So when, in his infinity he is incarnate in flesh, he can at the same time remain infinitely outside of that flesh as well.  God cannot give up his essential infinitude. If someone asserts that because of the incarnation, God lost one of his essential properties it seems they would be the ones with the problem.

I suppose that's unsatisfying to some people. But saying "Jesus is not God" is right out.

July 16, 2004

I found this quote from paul Zhan, which sounds like the kidn of things I hear in the post I reference below
We Understand that God in any sense differentiated from Jesus Christ is unknowable. This needs to be affirmed from the start. John writes in the prologue to his Gospel, "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known" (1:18). John repeats this idea forcefully in his first letter: "No one has ever seen God" (4:12)...Bible religion knows nothing about a God who can be found or made out from our side of things ... Theology is unable to start in those places [first cause, ground of our being] because the picture of God that emerges from such beginnings is speculative ... ... A theology that is Christology before it is anything else is a theology from the bottom up. It begins with the ministry of Jesus in his own time and space, and it states that it is entirely agnostic concerning anything other than what he has given us to know of the essential attributes of God
The problem I have here is that Paul doesn't seem to follow this dictum in Acts 17 on Mars Hill. He is perfectly happy to start his story with attributes of God that would be known to the Greeks from "their side of things", and ends with a description of how that God has appointed a man to be the judge of all things.

Paul's theology is there *not* first a Christology.

I'm still trying to understand the nature of the impasse over Christology between Lutherans and Calvinists. This post and the ensuing discussion are very interesting, but I still have a lot of questions.

Reformed theologian McLeod cites Calvin to the denial of the "proper" sense of statements that posit human natural attributes to the divinity of Christ. "God doesn't have blood", etc.

I've pointed out elsewhere that Calvin is quite happy to cite a zone of attributes of Christ that are "proper" to both natures without confusion, so that should be a factor in the consideration. I would hope that Lutherans would allow for some aspects of a divine nature (it's uncreatedness, its lack of eternal existence) that are *impossible* to be posited of a human nature, even though the incarnation makes the impossible possible. (Its doesn't make "proper nonsense" possible)

In opposition to Calvin and McLeod, Luther's belief that the incarnation brings human nature into a full share in the Trinitarian life of God. Scaer is cited criticizing Calvin for denying true communication of attributes between the natures.
I'm not sure the characterization of Luther's belief here necessitates the communication of every possible attribute of a divine nature to a human nature. For one thing, my understanding is that the life of God that Christ's humanity shares will be the same as what we will share eschatologically, and that we share the life of God in a way that does not limit God or transform us into uncreated divine beings.
This leads onto the issue of Christ's Mediatorship. Lutherans state simply that it is sin which separated man from God (Isaiah 59), and that before sin came into the word, God walked and conversed with man (Genesis 1), whereas the Reformed see a natural gulf between Creator and creation, even before the Fall. Christ then becomes not only the mediator between sinners and a holy God, but the mediator between the Infinite and the finite. The immediate working of the Holy Spirit, for them, bridges this gulf in matters of revelation and the creation and sustaining of faith.
This is an interesting place to focus, and the discussion of this post the difference between Luther and the Reformed cosmology is highlighted. The kind of gulf that I see between creator and creature is reflected in the cosmology I see in Genesis 1. First, while God walks and converses with man in the garden, God also can leave man "by himself" in someway that doesn't deny his omnipresence. That while God can be infinitely near to man, he also designs a world where there is a sky the appearance of a firmament separating a heavenly realm above the earth from a earthy realm below, pointing to a real separation between two realms: a heavenly and an earthly. The firmament itself becomes the mediatorial boundary: God can remove it and bring wrath (the flood), God can make it permeable and bring the blessing of rain for agricultural purposes, and God can make it "like bronze" and send no rain as a curse.

Christ the man ascends back to this heavenly realm in his spirit-glorified humanity, and fulfils the eschatological purpose for man that is set up in Genesis 1, where man rules over many things, but not everything (the tannins are excluded; but Jesus conquers the Dragon) and is himself ruled by the sun, moon, and stars which demarcate the days and festivals (but the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath, and is the reality to which the festivals are but a shadow)
If Lutherans are denying the implicit eschatology of Genesis 1, then I think they may need more exegetical work on it.

"Such an understanding does, however, echo Paul's speaking of demonic forces 'in the heavenly realms', not as distant and above the world, but to be wrestled with (Ephesians 6).
I'm not sure this makes the case. It may rather be that the forces in the heavenly realms are wrestleable because in Christ, we have taken our places with him in those heavenly realms. The language of "up" and "down" and the full weight of symbolic passages like Revelation must be allowed to communicate something without being deprived of all reality.

Some of the discussion about the post gets into questions of the possibility of an incarnation without a fall and the reading of Genesis 1-3 that sees a connection to the Eucharist. John H argues that we shouldn't detatch the Eucharist from the crucifixion, but a Eucharistic understanding of two trees doesn't detach it all, but rather roots the crucifixion in the garden as well. (bad pun, sorry). Adam stole fruit from a tree, and in the crucifixion, Christ atones for the theft of Adam by restoring himself to that Tree.

Chris says "There is no need for a mediator between a sinless creature and a holy God." But there is a need for a mediator between a fleshly/earthy being and a holy God. Jesus is that mediator because he comes "down" from heaven into flesh, and that flesh is glorified and transfigured by death and resurrection by the Spirit.
It seems to me that all the absurd things that one can predicate of Christ because of the communication of attributes all necessitate SOME kind of further explanation or negative affirmation. Yes, Mary was the mother of God, but NOT in the sense that tells us a human being made the uncreated God. Yes, Jesus the man is eternal, but NOT in the sense that his human nature did actually exist in 40BC. And if you insist on denying these negative qualifications, I get to say you really are speaking nonsense.

I also wonder what Lutheran cosmology has to say about the manner in which God has created a world that gives life through the consumption of food.

July 13, 2004

While I suppose Chris Stamper would dispute and cavil at the claims of Rivkin & Casey on Saddam Hussein & WMDs, I find it to be a fair summary of the post-facto case justifying the war

July 10, 2004

Reminder to myself to follow my church's teaching and act as a citizen to remind my civil leaders of their duty to not try to change the definition of marriage. The PCA (rightly) didn't endorse andy partiuclar legislation in this case, and the FMA should be unnecesary, but I think the prudential concludion is probably that the Supreme court will force this issue eventually, and that the FMA is the most likely way to stop that.

Some recent reading of the "other side" reminds me again how blind Andrew Sullivan and others can be, holding contradictory opinions as to the privacy of marriage and the need to gays to get public recognition for their relations.

In an op-ed in the Sunday Times Sullvian decries the treatment Jack Ryan received at the hands of the Chicago Tribune. The records of Ryands divorce from Jeri Ryan (of Star Trek:Voyager fame) were sealed, and the Tribune (probably out of a submerged partisan motivation) had them unsealed to report on the accusations and rationalle for the divorece.

To Sullivan this is self-evidently a violation of the proper zone of privacy we grant to marriage. And for Sullivan, it is self-evident that the public sanction and support of legal marriage should be granted to gays who want it.

No on both counts. While the sexual relationship of marriage is quite properly private, its the public nature of the legal bond that means that questions surrounding the breakup of that legal bond are quite properly matters of public record and scrutiny. If Sullivan is such a traditionalist that he wants the publics approval for a committed gay relationship, he has to be willing ot take the publics disapproval and shame when the "marriage" breaks apart and the partners seek the disolution of the bond.

This is why Clinton's sexual escapades and Ryans (pressuring his wife to have sex in a sex club/public place) are very relevant to their quaifications for office. They entered into publicly defined bonds with their spouses, and swore with some kind of oath that they would keep to those bonds. These public persons, even more than any other citizen (for whom I'd say the same issues come into play) are asked to serve the public and the constitution while under a legal obligation to do so. If Clinton can rationalize his sexual unfaithfulness, should we not be suprised that he rationalizes constitutional unfaithfulness?

All this goes to show is that Sullivan seeks a "different" marriage than the one that heterosexuals were given by God at the creation. One that is instead the creation of two autonomous individuals, who retain their autonomy even while claiming mutual submission to the larger entity.

Or it shows, as Charles Colson writes that the marriage that Sullivan seeks is already an obligation-free legal fiction, and that we are living on borrowed time.

Which is why I have little optimism about an FMA actually helping.

July 09, 2004

I shall now come to the defense of California Education Comissioner Richard Riordan. (there is a video of Riordan's remarks in the link).

When I was visiting my in-laws in minnesota, we showed them pictures of the kids we'd taken on the digital camera. The kids liked watching the pictures, especially their own. Granpa remarked at one particularly cute one of my daughter "Who is that ugly child?"

He obviously was kidding around. So is Riordan, on the video (he also obviously didn't hear Isis state what her name atually meant, and so came up with the "Stupid Dirty Girl" not as an antithesis to her claim of "Egyptian Goddess," but as a self-evidently false deprecation).

Both my father-in-law and Riordan are of an older generation: one not concerned as the current ones are with continual praise and esteem-boosting. My father-in-law shows considerable wisdom in kidding around with my precocious daughter, who is well aware that people like saying "oh how cute", or other ego-inflating things around her. He was having fun with a precocious little girl.

Its uproarioulsy funny that there was a misundertanding by the NAACP in California that the child was in fact black, and they were all set for massive demonstrations, which they called off on learning the girl was blonde and white.

Jon Barlow is affecting my life in unexpected ways. I check onto amazon.com a minute ago, and my amazon "plog" (personalized log) lets me know that
Wilco : Learning How to Die was released today; We thought you'd be interested because you rated The Death of Adam : Essays on Modern Thought.
The only association I can make between those two things is that barlow has skewed the "other amazon customers who bought this bought that" ratings.

Very amusing.

July 08, 2004

Can't stop thinking about boardgames. I'm ill.

What I'd like to get

Axis and Allies, revised edition, so I can have a copy of the "full game"

Memoir '44, because it looks like a really nice simple way to play some WWII themed tactical battles

War of the Ring: The new LOTR game that isn't out yet

Age of Napoleon: billed as a simple 2-player Napoleonic strategy game. I'm hoping it would be fun for some lite wargaming. (A&A is below lite wargaming) Maybe my wife would play it with me.

Pitchcar: a clever autoracing game, where you flick small wood cars aorund a smooth wood track. Also called Carabande. I could play with the kids!

History of the World: another "new Avalon Hill" plastic pieces game. I sold the old cardboard piece one on ebay in the expetctaion of buying the new one, but haven't yet. I wouldn't have played it in that time either, so I guess that's smart.

DAK 2, so I would own a "monster" WWII game. I'd probably never play this though. As I said, I'm ill.

Axis and Allies d-day. It looks "different"

Divine Right or Dragon Pass. Two old hex-based fantasy wargames that have long fallen out of print. Maybe Swords & Sorcery. Maybe the new game, Runebound

Against the Odds issues 1 and 7, for the Macedonia game (I like Ancient's strategy) and for the Ohio indian game because it looks interesting

Millennium: Korea: an inexpensive and simple game from One Small Step, which seems to be an look at a potential near-future conflict with North Korea.

Wings of War looks like a very innovative WWI aircraft game. The cards you play deliniate the path of your aircraft, like a miniatures game. Would work for SFB, methinks

That's it I guess. Surely you're not going to play all of these if you got them all at once. Well, I would *have* them, and I could plan to play them. And if someone came over and expressed an interest in games, I'd have lots of choices. And I could play some of the wargames solo.

I'm ill

James B. Jordan has an excellent taped series on the book of Revelation. Its 204 tapes, plus study notes.

I used them when I taught through Revelation for sunday school. I've listened to them 2-3 times each, and a couple of tapes might be bad, and I'm missing the first 12 tapes.

I'm offering the tapes for sale for $600 shipped, or make me an offer. Jordan sells the set for $1000.

I can take paypal if you want to pay by credit card.

email me at pdweb AT verizon DOT net

Paul Baxter was very right about boardgamegeek in the comments below, that the activity level of the site is phenomenal.

It's very fun to just surf the site looking at all the cool stuff, game comments, serendipitous memory jogs of old/odd games you want to search for, etc.

This game looks really cute and challenging. Manual dexterity games are not usually what I go for, but with small kids it evens the odds a bit.

The "geeklists" of games that site users put together around some theme (like game theme, games played recently, stuff somebody 'wants bad', or even silly puns where the title of the game is the "point" rather than the game's content) suck me in to cruising the site a bit too frequently.

Very apt name for the site, too.

Its got me hankering for playing a good hexmap wargame. Players & time are the limiting factors.

I'm finding there are some interesting PC wargames; R&D on the genre has not been at a standstill, fortunatly. Korsun Pocket had gotten some rave reviews, and my preference would be for a turn based strategy game. i can play it 2 player via email as well.

I wish there was a broader selection of themes for this style of game.

I think I'm just not very comfortable with a view of Christains that says we'll never be able to do anything that's objectively right in response to a command from God ("law"). That we have to go through 7 different contortions of realizing we can't do it, re-preaching the gospel to ourselves, and then a few other things before the deed gets done?

No, "not in our own strength", not "our flesh", not "the old man" doing these things, but there isn't just some "ethereal me" up there obeying God; my real (new) self occasionally obeys, in response to a command.

Is that so wrong? Is there no way to qualify this enough so that the important truth that we do actual works that are actually good, in response to commands?

Is "put in harm's way" a term of art or just a cliche?

July 07, 2004

NRO's article by Catherine Seipp on Marketing to Children is fascinating.
'There's a woman named Cheryl Idell, who did a study for Western Media that discussed the effectiveness of importance nagging, as opposed to mere persistence nagging.' Idell, who now heads 20th-Century Fox's media and research department, is indeed something of a legend in the children's marketing business for her work on the fine art of whining.

'The study was called 'The Nag Factor,'' Idell explained cheerfully when I asked about it. 'And it basically distinguished between 'Gee, I want the pink Barbie because she's pretty' and 'Gee, I really want the Barbie Dreamhouse so Barbie and Ken can have a family.' We found more products were bought when kids whined with importance rather than persistence. You have to put copy into the ad that gives kids all the reasons they should want this, in language they can express to parents.'

Some interesting discussion between Tim Gallant and Josh Strodbeck on Tim's criticism of Luther for shifting between an understanding of the ethnic specificity of the Torah for Israel, and an understanding of a "general natural law" and its appropriateness for "civil society" in the "flesh".

Mark Horne of course points out how Paul can "republish" the decalogue (Honor your father and your mother) for little believing children and offer them a promise for their obedience, without compromising the gospel.

I'm finding more and more attractive the way Wright exegetes Romans 8: "the righteous requirements of the Law are fulfilled in us, who walk after the Spirit". The children addressed in Ephesians are as much possessors of the Spirit as any adult. They can follow his lead as easily as the children of Israel followed the Spirit's lead in the wilderness, without worrying about accruing merit as they travel along.

To the Spirit of Christ (in the Christian, as Christ lives within us), no law-word is a temptation to find salvation through a works principle. As Calvin and Bill DeJong argue, giving commandments is only deadly to our sinful fleshly natures, not as *we* are in Christ. Contra Strodbeck's continual arguments that there is no "me" doing anything good when I'm doing a good work in Christ. I can accept that, if he can accept a corporate Christology, which includes "me" in it as a person, instead of being merely the work of some other person who happens to be coterminous with me. I've said all this before.

James B Jordan, influenced by Merideth Kline, agrees that the main thing Jesus "did" for us was to resist the devil and thereby defeat him.

You've got to admit, describing the "one act" of Jesus as "resisting temptation" is a LOT different than saying a "whole life of lawkeeping" was the justfying work imputed to us.

Kline is inclined to see it in "heroic" terms. I can understand why, but we also have to consider that if that was how adam failed, it gives a bit too much leeway to Adam's refusal. "You want me to be a HERO? Kick some snake-butt? I'm naked and one day old? No way!"

I'll take Kline here over Horton though. Assuming I'm not misreading Kline.

This will have to come up in the fall, when I teach Genesis 2-3 in Sunday School at Tenth.

What's going on with people who have Blogger comments? I've posted some, and then they don't show up in the list at all, but sometimes the comment *count* is up (1 comment), but no comment is viewable, and the article will say "0 comments" when you click the link.

The WB effect challenges Mark Horne to show that the claim that the Torah was an actual covenant of works to Glory is not just a strawman Mark has created.

I'm of the opinion that the position of Kline, et al was that the active obedience of Christ consisted in his perfect keeping of the Torah as a covenant of works on our behalf. Its our failure to keep the Law that condemns us, so we have to have the "works of the law" imputed to us somehow, which Christ achieves through his obedience.

But then I started looking for evidence of this in Kline. I found this:
Particular mention may be made of the relevant data in the Gospel accounts of Jesus' temptation-encounter with Satan, where the parallelism of our Lord's experience to that of the first Adam is most pronounced. Once again there is the special presence of the devil with the same objectives and strategies as of old in Eden. He tempts again to break covenant with God and render allegiance to himself and it is again his seductive suggestion that the dominion and glory belonging to image-of-God status (peculiarly so in the case of the messianic Son of God) might be attained at the hidden expense of defying the authority of God as expressed in specific covenantal stipulations. By rebuking Satan and driving him away from the holy hill the second Adam performed the judicial assignment that had figured critically in the probation-temptation of the first Adam. The probation of Jesus, too, involved the accomplishment of a particular act of obedience; specifically, the gaining of a decisive victory over Satan. Further, in connection with the temptation of Jesus there is again found the presence of the Spirit and the angels. The acts of the Glory-Spirit and the angel attendants are now appropriate to the faithfulness displayed by Jesus in his probation and therefore contrast sharply with the roles they played in Eden, but this very antithesis accents the fundamental parallelism in the two events. Against the first Adam, the angels stood as adversaries, preventing his return from the wilderness to the garden. Now they minister to the needs of the second Adam in the wilderness (Mark 1:12). Following the unsuccessful probation in Eden, the Glory-Spirit had appeared in terrifying storm-theophany to pronounce condemnation. Now, before leading Jesus to the temptation crisis, the Spirit appears in the theophanic form of the dove above the waters, evocative of the Creator-Spirit of Genesis 1:2 and bespeaking the divine favor.
Here Kline seems to be saying the Act of Obedience that leads to the fulfillment of the covenant terms is simply resistance to the temptations of Satan. Not so much an accumulation of merit via lawkeeping.

I'll keep looking.

UPDATE: Mike Horton's seems to fit the bill much better, as he speaks of the active obedience of Christ "throughout his life that provides the ground upon which God can declare us righteous", and "it was our Lord's great pleasure and duty to 'fulfill all righteousness' down to the least stroke of the Law".

Horton does try to affirm that the law as it was given to the Jews as a covenant was only typologically a covenant of works, where they "earned" an earthly possession in accordance with there merited obedience. But he still is perfectly content to speak of Jesus' meritorious "lawkeeping" as that only which could be imputed to us.

But if the Law is going to only be typologically works-based, then why shouldn't we be surprised to find things in the text of the law that actually point towards faith? Because Mark Horne keeps pointing out that these things are in a text we call law, this becomes a stumbling block because he is heard to say "justification is by law," when all I see him doing is pointing out some flaws in the reigning paradigm which makes the only way to "hear" his observation as one which contradicts a particular model of reformation theology.

July 06, 2004

Some interesting facts about a very religious political party:
Sixty-one percent of this party's voters say they pray daily or more often. An astounding 92 percent of them believe in life after death. And there's a hard-core subgroup in this party of super-religious Christian zealots. Very conservative on gay marriage, half of the members of this subgroup believe Bush uses too little religious rhetoric, and 51 percent of them believe God gave Israel to the Jews and that its existence fulfills the prophecy about the second coming of Jesus.
That would be the Democrats.

July 05, 2004

Sometime Christians argue about the propriety of cremation for Christians. Well, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Caterbury is reported to be issuing the following advice:
Clergy are to be asked to discourage cremation because of the greenhouse gases generated, to drive around in electric cars and to urge congregations to wear extra coats to save on heating
That's an angle on the debate I hadn't considered before.

Worse is the following:"Williams will make a keynote speech outlining the church's growing commitment to green causes and emphasizing that humans should no longer see themselves as having "dominion" over the earth."

July 01, 2004

Since our trip to Origins I've been poking around looking at the reports of other atendees, and came across these photos from the wargame room. I didn't have time to play any good hexmap wargames this year, and the photos remind me I'd like to try to sometime. Apparently, the poularity of the wargame room was a suprise to the Origins organizers and the sold out of the access ribbons for the event.

This game looks really good. Seems like its based on the old Supremacy game, (the way the ocean areas are done is very similar).

My renewed interest has led me to find the following:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com A very thorough site for all kinds of board games, with articles and ratings and such.

ConSimworld site for the wargamer. They had an expo back in May in Arizona, focusing on "monster" games (the games you never have time to play). Shall I hope that next year's in in arizona too?

The World Boardgaming Championships are still going strong after the sale of Avalon Hill and end of AvalonCon. These are in Baltimore, and don't fit my timeusage this year, but its a reminder for next year. Quite long, starting on a tuesday. I could go for Settlers (i've won some touranments of that before)

Boulder Games seems to have the best prices and best selection that includes wargames. Their newletter is also good for keeping up with new stuff.

After selling off the vast majority of my unplayed copies of Command Magazine on ebay a while back, I wonder why I find Against the Odds of interest? Maybe I hope to get a subscription, play nothing again, and pocket some cash in the future? Maybe I'm an idiot. The Suleiman game looks intriguing though. As does the game from their first issue

I am engaging in some dialogue on The WB Effect. Here too, which is where i got the quote below.

Matthew of Theoloblog writes
The logic is unfortunately flawed. The opposite of 'trusting in something other than Christ' is not 'trusting in Christ alone'; it is rather 'not trusting in anything that is not Christ'. But the explicit command to trust in Christ for salvation is still lacking from the 1st, and no amount of Trinitarian word-gaming can fill in that gap.
I'm sorry, that sounds like a really perverse and unreformed way to read the first commandment. The fact that the literal text of the decalogue is phrased negatively means that I can fulfil the command by making sure I trust zero things? What happened to WLC #99: "where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded"

De script shun




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