August 30, 2004

If you like ronald regan, you should check the song at www.ronaldreaganrocks.com. It starts a bit slow, but it gets better when the tempo picks up.

August 29, 2004

Here is how I would describe the Christain life. Please let me know if there are any heresies or non reformation modes of speaking in this. I'm sure there are other true ways of putting this, but this seems biblical to me.

God gives the Christian great promises for our daily living and godly action. We have been rescued by God's power from the corruption of sin, from all the bad desires we had before we believed the promises.

Since we've been rescued from out sinful desire through faith in the promises, we need to add to our faith. We need to make alot of effort to supplement faith with righteous living, adding to it self control, and love for one another.

If we have these things, and have them more and more, these things (which include faith at the root) will keep us from being unfruitful or useless with the knowledge of salvation we have.

If we don't have these things, its as if we're blind. We will show ourselves to have forgotten that all our past sins were forgiven. So we really really have to try to make sure our being chosen in Christ and our calling as Christians is certian. The way to be certain is practicing all these things: if we do them we will never fall.

That's how God will save us *at the end*. God is providing the way into his kingdom through and through, but its a whole process that begins with faith in Christ and the initial cleansing. But he has also lined out this path of adding virtue to faith, and adding self control and love after that as a means of providing the entrance into the eternal kingdom of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The latest White Horse Inn makes the claim that most people are thinking that they can keep the law for either the reason that they want to contribute to their own salvation, or they are afraid of antinomianism in the face of free grace.

I have to say that neither are my motivation. I just think that the law/gospel dynamic that leaves us stuck in Romans 7 with no granted ability to move beyond it in the Spirit to fulfill the law of Love in the totus Christus. I feel like I'm being told that I better just dig a hole and put my talent in the ground, because God certainly isn't going to want or expect or demand or desire me to accomplish anything with the salvation he's granted me, so I better just give it back to him, all the imputation just like it was when he handed it to me.

Well now I just caught then end of the broadcast. Horton apparently agrees with me. He claims we should think of a sailboat, out with the fanciest instruments, but the wind dies. The fancy instruments tell us where were are but have no power to get into the harbor. The law can guide you there when you have the wind in your sails. Horton apparently defines the "wind" in this case as only a knowledge that you have received an imputed righteousness. I think there is more to the presence of the Spirit in the life of the Christian than that. You'd think the "wind" analogy would help Horton see that.

but he still says "we can't get back into that harbor not any more as Christians in our sanctification, than we could in the beginning in our justificiation." Maybe he just means "by the instrumentation". Other things he says make me question if he thinks the harbor is reachable by our sailboat at all.

August 26, 2004

A posting on the consimworld messageboard displays the gameboard [large image] for Phalanx Games upcoming Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648.

There's even a picture of John Calvin on the board.

August 25, 2004

Meyers points to this address to Gordon College by N. T. Wright that puts ro rest the claim that Wright's corporativism in salvation and justification is uninterested in the response of individuals with the heart. He says much more besides, while retaining a public and corporate emphasis on "heart, soul, mind and strength".

It seems that some people have difficulty dealing with one persons empahsies. It almost goes like this

"Hi, I'm Tom, I'm an evangelcial"

"Hi Tom"

"I think we sometimes obscure X in theology because we focus so much on Y. Look how important X is. You can't really understand things unless you understand X"

"Hey, you must be denying Y, because we know Y is the most important"

"No I'm not denying Y"

"Yes you are. Look, you said X is important!"

August 24, 2004

Can anybody tell me if Michael Horton rejects the idea that after the gospel brings life, we can actually fulfil the imperatives of the Law?
Neither Paul nor the reformers thought that the law was itself the problem. According to Paul, the law is good, but we are not (Rom. 7:12). This is why "law"—any imperative, cannot bring life. If any law could have, then Torah surely would have done it (Gal. 3:21). Justification and new life depend on a divine indicative, and not just any such indicative, but God’s deed in Christ as offered in the covenant of grace. In fact, Paul’s own use of the phrase principle of law versus principle of faith (as in Rom. 3:27 and 9:30–32) is not inimical lexically to substituting the term "covenant," where "principle" is used to refer to a regime, order, or economy.

I'll readily grant that nuance is not Schlissel's middle name, but subduing nuance can be a very good way at getting at an important truth.

The August 22nd broadcast Worst White Horse Inn ever.

Just to be substantive: the criticize Schlissel for saying the "you must do this" in Deueteronomy means the Law is doable. They say Schlissel ignores that God says you are going to break this and be exiled, and then come back and I will write my law on your heart.

Ok: so won't the law then be doable when it is written on our hearts?

August 23, 2004

If abraham had been 2 years old when God walked in-between the pieces of the dead animals, would it have been less of something that Abraham could have taken assurance from? Was not Isaac to take assurance from it, though he was not a witness?

August 20, 2004

Rich Lusk, responding to Andy Webb, makes me think of the possible rejoinder to seeing "ecclesial regeneration" as of great significance in salvation.

One could argue that the real salvation and "new life" that we receive should only be construed as the individual regeneration of the heart. We could argue that in the bible, life is first granted to Adam alone, as an individual, and so the life we have in Christ is something most importantly to posses alone first. Then the addition of church "life" is supplemental and secondary.

I think there are some people who really think that way. Sean Lucas for one, in his criticism of Peter Leithart's focus on ecclesial salvation in Against Christianity

In response to this objection I offer a) God's intention in making human life was to make human life which experiences community. Man is in God's image, and for man the maleness and femaleness of him images the community of God in Trinity. So much less is community something "added" to human life, as it is the sine qua non of human life. b) When God made Adam live, it was "Not Good" that the man should be alone, indicating an incompleteness to man in his being before woman was made. His human life had not yet begun to "live" until God divided him and created new covenant life for him with his wife.

The new life we have as individuals who are saved is important, and a prerequisite for salvation, but it is "not good" for us to be alone.

Alastair reminds me that Jordan has suggested that the Heart of Flesh that God gives is primarily Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, and that the Heart of Stone is the torah, the Word of God made stone. There are many good reasons to adopt this interpretation.

In comparison, the traditional view, that the New Covenant being portrayed in terms of a Heart of Stone moving to a Heart of Flesh represents a metaphysical change in the person from inability to ability to respond, called regeneration of the heart, in hermeneutically more like the medieval allegorists, who impute to the text all manner of metaphysical and spiritual qualities instead of concrete entities.

Which is a different sort of criticism that you would normally think.

Jordan's view also bypasses the inconsistency Lutherans have accused the Reformed of, in making the writing of the LAW on the heart the initiating action of salvation in regeneration, leading to faith and justification. Why is God granting ability to keep the law the start of salvation?

August 19, 2004

Why should anyone take assurance from a firey torch passing between some dead divided animals? I mean, what's that about? It's not even like the dead animals got ressurected or anything, and Abraham was just dreaming anyway.

Can you believe abraham? God told him he would inherit the land, but he still doubted. When you doubt stuff, you should a) look to the fruits of your faith for confirmation you have faith or b) just trust your election even harder.


August 18, 2004

Some men and women like to collect things. But do men like to collect things mostly for the experience of adding to the collection, getting a new thing to add to it? And do women like to collect things for the experience of managing and taking care of the collection?

The man has to manage the collection, and the woman has to add to the collection, but which is the driving force for interesting the collector.

As you may know, the first 3 star wars movies (the less bad ones) are coming out on DVD in the near future. Lucas continues to tinker with the plot of the film as this post on slashdot indicated
No, [Alderan doesn't shoot first], but there's good inteligence that clearly shows Alderaan had a stockpile of WMDs that it planned to give to the Rebel Alliance. The new DVD further points out that its government was an anti-democratic dictatorship by a royal family, and goes on to document its sentient-rights abuses which while largely decades in the past, still play a part in building a convincing case for a pre-emptive planetary destruction by the Emp - er - Coalition Forces

There is some discussion on Barb's blog on the question of what Vos means by "symbolico-typical sphere of appropriateness of expression". I found a larger chunk of the quote (with an elipsis in the middle) that makes Vos sound more like Kline, but to the effect of denying that typological meritorious systems qualify as actual meritorious systems. Kline & co seem to disagree. I still think Shepherd makes more sense here: and at the very least, the Torah should typify both types of systems, as Torah typifies atonement with the sacrifices.

The law was given after the redemption from Egypt had been accomplished, and the people had already entered upon the enjoyment of many of the blessings of the berith. Particularly, their taking possession of the promised land could not have been made dependent on previous observance of the law, for during their journey in the wilderness many of its prescripts could not be observed. It is plain, then, that law-keeping did not figure at that juncture as the meritorious ground of life-inheritance. The latter is based on grace alone, no less emphatically than Paul himself places salvation on that ground. But, while this is so, it might still be objected, that law-observance, if not the ground of receiving, is yet made the ground for retention of the privileges inherited. Here it can not, of course, be denied that a real connection exists. But the Judaizers went wrong in inferring that the connection must be meritorious, that, if Israel keeps the cherished gifts of Jehovah through observance of His law, this must be so, because in strict justice they had earned them. The connection is of a totally different kind. It belongs not to the legal sphere of merit, but to the symbolico-typical sphere of appropriateness of expression. ...the abode of Israel in Canaan typified the heavenly, perfected state of God's people. Under these circumstances the ideal of absolute conformity to God's law of legal holiness had to be upheld. Even though they were not able to keep this law in the Pauline, spiritual sense, yea, even though they were unable to keep it externally and ritually, the requirement could not be lowered. When apostasy on a general scale took place, they could not remain in the promised land. When they disqualified themselves for typifying the state of holiness, they ipso facto disqualified themselves for typifying that of blessedness, and had to go into captivity.... And in Paul's teaching the strand that corresponds to this Old Testament doctrine of holiness as the indispensable (though not meritorious) condition of receiving the inheritance is still distinctly traceable
I find it interesting that Vos argues that the Torah can't be seen as meriting acheivement of the Promised Land, since the Torah was given before it could be implemented in the promised land. There is probably a fruitful analogy to tease out there.

Vos seems to be speaking for Kline's "intrusion ethic" in some form, in which case, we're not dealing with a republished CoW, but a pre-published standard of eternal holiness. Surely that is a better avenue the Klineans might explore.

Wow. I knew Isaac Watts was postmil, but I didn't know this about when "Jesus Shall Reign where 'er the Sun" was sung
Perhaps one of the most interesting occasions on which this hymn was used was that on which King George, the sable, of the South Sea Islands, but of bless­ed memory, gave a new constitution to his people, exchanging a hea­then for a Christian form of government. Under the spreading branches of the ban­yan trees sat some thou­sand natives from Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa, on Whit­sun­day, 1862, assembled for Divine worship. Foremost amongst them all sat King George himself. Around him were seated old chiefs and warriors who had shared with him the dangers and fortunes of many a battle—men whose eyes were dim, and whose powerful frames were bowed down with the weight of years. But old and young alike re­joiced to­ge­ther in the joys of that day, their faces most of them radiant with Christian joy, love, and hope. It would be impossible to de­scribe the deep feel­ing man­i­fest­ed when the sol­emn serv­ice be­gan, by the en­tire audience singing Dr. Watts’ hymn…

Who so much as they could realize the full meaning of the poet’s words? For they had been rescued from the darkness of heathenism and cannibalism and they were that day met for the first time under a Christian constitution, under a Christian king, and with Christ Himself reigning in the hearts of most of those present. That was indeed Christ’s kingdom set up in the earth.

These verses are omitted in the Trinity Hymnal
Behold the islands with their kings,
And Europe her best tribute brings;
From north to south the princes meet,
To pay their homage at His feet.

There Persia, glorious to behold,
There India shines in eastern gold;
And barb’rous nations at His word
Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.

August 16, 2004

Guess on whose denominational website I found this
By faith we keep the law. After revealing the impotence of the law to justify the sinner and after extolling faith as the way of justification, Paul concludes with a question, "Do we then make void the law through faith?" He denies any such thought vigorously with a "God forbid!" But then he continues with an astounding thought, "Yea, we establish the law," Rom. 3:31. Faith establishes the law, confirms it, and so fulfills it. The law could not bring into existence the righteousness that it demands. What the law demands but was unable to produce the gospel achieves. "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," Rom. 8:3-4. Through faith the believer perceives God once more as the Giver of every good gift. Faith beholds God as the highest Treasure, the greatest Good, the Source of every blessing, the very present Help in every trouble, the Refuge and Fortress in all distress, Life in the midst of death, Salvation from condemnation. So it is that faith creates precisely that relationship towards God that the very first and chief commandment demands--that God be first in our lives. All obedience to the commandments flows from the proper relationship to God, the fear and love of God, which faith establishes in the heart.

Faith, working by love, solves moral problems. Think of Abraham, the father of believers. His faith moved him to obey the command to leave his homeland and take up residence in an unknown land. His faith moved him to give Lot the choice of the land, thereby showing loving concern for the welfare of his brother. His faith moved him to risk his life and the lives of the men of his household and his allies to rescue Lot, thereby showing loving concern for the life and limb of him whom he had every reason to consider as nothing more than an ingrate. His faith moved him to respond to the unreasonable command to sacrifice his son. At times his flesh did overpower his faith as when he acquiesced to Sarah's solution for her barrenness by taking unto himself her maid and when in fear for his personal safety he exposed the honor of Sarah by passing her off as his sister. By faith Joseph withstood the charms of Potiphar's wife and honored the marriage of his master. By faith Rahab risked her life to hide the spies. So faith solved moral problems centuries before God revealed the guidelines of His immutable moral will in the Ten Words from Sinai. For the will to love is the potential solution of all moral problems.

Faith, which by love fulfills the law, loves the law. How could it be otherwise? How could it not be that the believer loves and delights in the law which is the verbalized revelation of the same law that the Spirit of God has inscribed in his heart. The psalms are replete with such expressions of love for the law, both for the revelation of God's plan of salvation and His moral precepts. The man of God is described as one whose "delight is in the law of the Lord," Ps. 1:2. The statutes of the Lord are "more to be desired...than fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb," Ps. 19:10. "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth," Ps. 119:103. "Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold," Ps. 119:127. The entire 119th Psalm is a paean of praise for the law of the Lord. So also the epistles contain their hortatory sections which delight the believer and which are the object of his careful study and meditation, for he sees in the exposition and application of the ethical will of his God a verbalization of that will of love that the Spirit has created and so implanted in his own heart.

Faith, which by love fulfills the law, also freely submits to the law. Mr. Christian is freed from the law, but that freedom is not complete unless it is freedom freely to submit to the law! Thus St. Paul circumcised Timothy, but refused to circumcise Titus. In order to defuse the charge of being a law-breaker St. Paul sponsored the purification rites of four Nazarites in the temple, Acts 21:21-26. So also, after systematically and conclusively exposing the weakness of the law in justifying and sanctifying the sinner and after revealing the temporary service of the law in the economy of God, in both his epistles to the Galatians and Romans, Paul feels completely free to use the language of the law to express the nature and direction of the new life of obedience of those who are led by the Spirit. Paul did not make the law a taboo. What he did do was to establish man's new relationship to the law--freedom from for the purpose of living freely according to the law of love which reflects the unchanging essence of our Savior-God.

Its always amusing to find the hardcases who think that Sproul, Horton, et al are compromisers and deniers of the TRU RE4MED DOKTRIN!

Here's somebody who thinks Sproul is compromising with faith alone, because he answers in the affirmative that "true faith necessarily, inevitably, and immediately yields the fruit of works". This is bad because "It creates a requirement for good works without which one cannot have any assurance that he is indeed saved and, in theory at least, without which a person is not saved", and so Sproul is being accused as Shepherd is, of making faith include works.

"By insisting on the explicit wording "faith alone," yet proclaiming at the same time that "true faith" necessarily includes subsequent works, Sproul provides a huge loophole through which any synergistic doctrine, such as Roman Catholicism, can easily pass"

Seifrid also is criticized for compromise in a footnote: "Seifrid’s own attachment to the Reformed Evangelical connection of faith and works renders his own criticisms of TGOS confusing and contradictory. For example, he affirms that justification is by faith alone, yet later writes, 'I hardly need to repeat the traditional Protestant elaboration, that good works follow this faith necessarily.' Are works necessary, or are they not?)"

Here are my comments on the first page of google hits on "judgment according to works" (whole phrase).

The first hit, sadly enough is from Mark McCulley, whom I understand to be a fairly hardcase Calvinist who denies those who profess arminian theology can actually be Christians, and denies the free offer of the Gospel. So I'm not going to up his pagerank by linking him.

His take on JATW is the one where there is an evaluation of everyone's works as evil, and then "the other book" gets opened and those who have imputed righteousness will have their works judged on the basis of their already having been judged righteous (there seems to be a redundancy there, but i digress). He also has this curious quote
Jesus Himself was not vindicated by works but only in death and resurrection.
So I guess he'd disagree with Horton over more than just the free offer of the Gospel.

Next is the ever helpful Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod website. (I really mean that. Reading their patient answers to thousands of questions is very informative for people thinking about various theological issues. I'd hate to have their job.) Their answer to the question of the apparent JATW in Matthew 25 is to a) affirm from Romans that the Righteous there are just those who live by faith in Jesus and b) affirm that Jesus as Judge on Judgement day presents the their works as evidence to the nations of their faith, not as a reason for their inheritance.

So, while a) is certainly true, it doesn't really have much to do with the exegesis of the passage. Its an answer from Systematic Theology, but what of Biblical Theology? What about what Matthew and Jesus wanted to communicate? Were they happy to leave people who read the Gospel but not Romans possibly confused on the point?

The claim of b) seems to be undercut by the text of the passage. It says to them to take the inheritance, for they fed the hungry, etc. And while the nations are present, is the point merely to demonstrate to creatures the evidence of faith? If any of that is going on, it demonstrates to the righteous their own faith by that evidence, which would seem to me to make good works some kind of thing the righteous would do to confirm to themselves that they are faithful. The WELS claim seems to argue that the judgment here is "ceremonial," for "public consumption," but that some other kind of evaluation lies secretly behind it. I thought the last judgment was where the secret things would be laid bare?

The third link is a review of Mark Seifrid's Christ Our Righteousness, which says that "Seifrid has moved the debate forward in taking seriously Paul's theology of final judgment according to works and thus showing the harmony between Paul and James." Since Seifrid is with D. A. Carson in opposing the NPP, maybe some people should read Seifrid on this topic.

The fourth and fifth ones are Mormons.

[more to come]

August 15, 2004

Something that bothers me about Mark Devers' report of an interaction he had with Wright at a lecture. Devers says he approached Wright after the lecture and asked him if he'd ever read the Council of Trent. Wright replied that he had not, and Devers said that he thought Wright should because what Wright was saying was remarkably similar.

I think that is an unfair thing to do to somebody at a lecture, and an unfair thing to report on in a polemical interview. It would behoove Devers to tell Wright what specific area he sees the similarity, and get Wright's response as to whether he agrees with Devers characterization of Trent, what Wright is saying, or the possible overlap between them.

August 10, 2004

Searchengine queries that have brought folks to my blog lately:

kia sorento review subtle: I think I mentioned teh Sorento back when they were giving away LOTR DVDs with a test drive. I never did do the test drive.

bishop N. T. Wright homsexual. Wright isn't (to my knowledge), but has come out fairly strong against the approval of homosexuality in the Church. Although for him its low on his list of priorities, compared with forgiving third world debt.

i am an impure thinker: Eugen Rosenstock Huessey's dictum remains popular.

"ship as symbol" It sure is. Often of the Church, or a social world. I think its highly relevant that the ship in acts is from Egypt (exodus motif), but is commissioned by Rome (on which the judgement will fall if they fail to heed Paul)

"david pao" churchI like Pao's book on Acts.

charwood lathander statue Some comments I made on Neverwinter Nights continue to haunt my readers.

Ligon Duncan: I've been commenting on him of late. I was pleased to note that he said lately the ones going for the NPP were the 'really bright' guys, rather than calling them 'miscreants'.

"ender's game" movie white casting card: Yeah, Card mentioned that the studio wanted a very white cast for the Ender's Game film, since that would be more marketable, though not true to the book.

nomism disease That seems a bit strong.

"mere excrement which so" I am the only google hit for this phrase, which is a quotation from Chysostom on avoiding lust. An amusing quotation too.

Yep, I'm in a blog rut when I start posting my referer hits.

My game of Battle Cry went really poorly today, due to overwhelming Confederate forces and lousy card draws for me. I didn't make any mistakes as far as I can tell (which isn't always the case).

I didn't eliminate any units, so now I'm down six campaign points for the whole war, which will be hard to make back up, I'm guessing.

Se la guerre.

Maybe its just me, but I'm wondering when the Kerry in/not in Cambodia at Christmas story will be hooked up with the old Dead Kennedys (dead kennedies! get it?) song "Holiday in Cambodia" (a few vulgarities in the lyrics there, BTW). The first stanza is eerily appropos.

August 08, 2004

In my opinion, Klines view of Genesis 15 as follwoing a model of Hittite suzerainty treaties is a weak reed for Horton and others to hang on to. I criticize Kline's misrepresnetations of historical and biblical facts in my paper
There are several elements of the narrative that call into question the self-maledictory interpretation.

1) God doesn't indicate any self-malediction verbally.

Jehovah does not verbally indicate self-malediction in the narrative. He does not say "so as these animal's have been divided, may I be torn in pieces if I fail to give you the land, Abram." He simply makes a promise to Abram, first in the visionary state, and then again in the state of deep sleep.

2) Multiple dead animals, not just one.

Several animals are split, rather than just one. Were these animals to be representatives of God, we might expect only a single animal (or perhaps three). Instead, five animals are used.

3) What is usually termed the curse of the covenant is to be devoured by the birds.

There is an inconsistency of language on the part of those who advocate the self-maledictory aspect of the Abrahamic cutting rite. Kline says, "if [God] failed to fulfill the promise of the covenant, He was like these creatures to be slain and devoured as a feast for the fowls" and that God passes, not just between the animals, but "beneath the threatening birds of prey." Kline is, strictly speaking, incorrect on this point. The birds have already been driven away by Abram, night has fallen, and the dream of the furnace passing between the pieces takes place in a "deeper" phase of the vision, in darkness without any birds present at all.
Before Abram enters this deeper phase, the birds of heaven come to devour the carcasses. Instead, Abram drives them away. This seems to be a significant feature of the narrative, in light of later emphases on devouring birds in later curse potions of scripture (Deut. 28:26, Jer. 7:33, 1 Kings 14:11, etc.). Robertson cites these curse-texts, but makes nothing of the lack of a bird-feasting in the covenant rite, even though this is explicit in the curses. The curses allude to Genesis 15, surely, but in a negative fashion so that something different is being signified. Deuteronomy specifies that the curse is to be eaten by the birds, and that, unlike Genesis 15, there will be no faithful Abram to drive the birds away. In Jeremiah, God's pronouncement to the people is not that they will be divided in half as the calf was, but that they will be eaten by the birds.

4) Robertson does not cite strong ancient near east parallels.

Robertson cites parallels from other ancient near east documents to indicate that what is going on is a form of self-maledictory oath. But the parallels are not particularly strong. The Syrian text concerning Abba-AN and Yarimlim makes no explicit mention of division of the sheep in two, nor does it mention passing between the pieces. The 18th century B.C. Mari text that he cites also does not indicate any self-malediction in the context of the rite, nor is passing through the divided halves mentioned.
Victor P. Hamilton cites the Mari text as well, noting that the text makes explicit that the slaughter was to reconcile the two parties, not to call a curse on one or the other party. He also indicates that self-malediction may not even be indicated by the Abba-AN text, depending on the translation. Hamilton does find an indication of a Hittite rite involving passing between animal halves, but this is not a covenant-making rite, rather a pagan warfare-ritual with magical overtones.

Kline cites these parallels as well, asserting that they are informative of the context of the Abramic rite, even though they do not involve the required elements. He does find some rites of the 7th and 8th century B.C. that involved both self-malediction and animal dividing, but these are too late in date to be informative on the Genesis 15 situation.

August 07, 2004

This is a personally sad story of a Reformed Episcopal church in my neighborhood. Take a look at the pictures of it.

Christ Memorial had a beautiful steeple, and is a beautiful church, both in terms of architecture and people. They also have a classical Christian school on the premises. Its disheartening to see the big pile of rubble now.

I've worshipped there a handful of times. My wife and I went there for Easter as a reminder of what she was missing since becoming Presbyterian. I would probably have joined, but they practice intincture for communion, so I decided that didn't win them over too much to my favor and I'd stick more with something close to what I knew.

Other news reports indicate they plan to rebuild the steeple.

August 06, 2004

More from the interview:
Duncan: So you have this phenomenon of a union with Christ, participationist, sacramental view of salvation, and in that there is no Divine ground of grace outside you, on which your assurance can rest. You’ve always got to be looking "in here" for the basis of your relationship with God.

Devers: I would think it would be quite objective, because it puts you in the community and you are to rest in the fact that if you are a member in good standing in the community then you are…

(unknown person): But that’s just the key, that never gets said, you've got to keep the law now, you’ve got to maintain your status within the community

Say what! That's right that never gets said! The whole point of the boundary marker business that Wright promotes in What Saint Paul Really Said is that the marker of the community is faith: so the only criterion for determining community status would be faith! Does anybody read anymore?

I like Devers' confutation of Duncan though, asking why on earth Duncan sees Union with Christ as a subjective view that leads to interiority and assurance problems
Duncan: The New Testament unsettles you if that's your ground because you’ve got Hebrews 6 and 10 waiting and you’ve got First John 2 waiting for you and you’ve got Second John waiting for you and you’ve got Third John waiting for you and the New Testament....

Devers: But positively, you’ve got Romans 10 saying you’re saved by calling on the name of the Lord and they tie that calling very much to one who’s heard a message

Duncan: Right.

Devers: Or responded to a particular message. Or Galatians 1, where Paul's got a particular message that he knows these young Christians have accepted that they can discern the validity of somebody coming and teaching to them not on what community that they've identified themselves with; they're wanting very much to identify with their community. It's the message itself that's being preached that’s different.
Astounding. All the apotasy passages are really only unsettling if you have a "participationist" or community oriented soteriology?

Devers' point is completely true, but touched Wright not a whit, since for Wright the community is not just whoever happened to claim to offer some community, but the community marked out by the marker of faith. If the Judaizers come and say, "this community is to be marked out by the torah and circumcision", then that message is a message of some *other* community by definition. Again, this is why I wonder who is really reading Wright.

There is a curious exchange between Ligon Duncan and Mark Devers of Capitol Hill Baptist church
Duncan: Paul makes it clear, first of all... One of the common errors that we hear people make even today and even in reformed circles, is for instance in associating of sacramental rites as if they had inherent saving capacities. And here’s Paul, quoting an incident from prior to Abraham having received the sign of circumcision, deliberately, to say his standing was not tied to this. That was indeed there to assure him of this blessing of God’s grace and favor but it didn't cause it in any way it wasn't a ground of it, it didn’t bring it in any way; it assured him of it. And so even if you’ll follow Paul’s argument through Romans 4 its so helpful.

Devers: With Abraham just to be clear here, with Abraham, the sign came after the thing signified, right? And is that a good pattern for the Christian faith?

Duncan: That is always the pattern of covenant signs.

Devers: The sign comes after the thing signified

Duncan: That’s right.

Devers: So with the Lord’s supper? So the sign of communion comes after the thing signified

Duncan: That’s right.

Devers: And what’s signified in the Lord’s Supper?

Duncan: What is signified in the Lord’s Supper? Its our union and communion with Christ.

Devers: And with baptism?

Duncan: With our union and communion with Christ.

Devers: And does the sign come after the thing signified?

Duncan: Always!
(general laughter)

Duncan: Just remember circumcision!
Seems like Dever is pressing Duncan on the baptistic issue. If Duncan has claimed that Signs always come after what is signfied, then what are we doing with infant baptism? Duncan seems to recognize this, which is I suppose why he cries out about circumcision at the end, which also has infant application.

August 04, 2004

If you die because the father asks you to, and the father grants you resurrection because he is pleased with your obedience that is a far cry from any idea of earning a merited reward by virtue of a worthy action.

The problem with Horton vs. Lusk is that Horton wants to focus on the obedience of Christ in going to death, putting it in the same category as obedience to torah, which he puts in that of a contract employee. But the obedience of Christ in going to death is meaningless as a mere act of obedience in Horton's stated system (maybe Horton goes into more detail elsewhere, but not when he debates Lusk).

The death of Christ is only meaningful because as an obedient act, it displays what really counts with God: faith. It was motivated by faith that the Father would raise him up again on the other side of the agonies he suffered, and as an "act of obedience" it was the fullest possible evidence of an empty hand grasping the Father's mercy.

Merit theology obscures all that, and doesn't let us say that.

How can we regard the death of Christ on the cross as obedience to Torah by which one merits life, when it was the Torah that pronounced a curse on the one hung on a tree.

Christ too, died to the law through the law.

My co-worker is sick today, so no Battle Cry. He's been doing little write-ups of our battle cry games that are quite impressive
6 April, 1862 - Shiloh
Acting quickly before Union Generals Grant and Buell could combine forces at Pittsburg Landing, Confederate General Sidney Johnston attacked a woefully unprepared General Grant. Facing off against Union Generals Wallace and Prentiss at a defensive position that would become infamous as the "Hornet's Nest" were General Cheatham commanding the confederate center and General Bragg on the confederate right. Advancing all forces forward, the confederate left (comprising of no less than 50 amassed guns!) began a withering bombardment while the right began a wide flanking movement. In the center, General Cheatham personally led the 15th Mississippi Infantry regiment in pushing back General Prentiss's 6th division. Though successful in temporarily driving back the 4th Ohio Infantry and crippling
the A Battery of the 2nd Illinois Artillery, General Cheatham fell to the deadly aim of a sharpshooter's bullet. With the fatal pause caused by suddenly losing their leader, the 15th was caught before the thick crossfire of the "Hornet's Nest" and slaughtered to a man. During the course of the battle, General Wallace, fighting valiantly on the Union right, had no less than 3 horses shot out from under him. The pressure on the Union flanks was relentless, however, with heavy northern casualties and retreats eventually leaving the "Hornet's Nest" surrounded. With the
collapse of the Union lines, the confederacy captured 2,250 Union soldiers including General Prentiss and a badly wounded General Wallace.
He's also the person responsible for the "Monty Python" Lord of the Rings parody.

August 03, 2004

Josh S has decided to beat up John Frame some more, and I must say I find many of the criticisms valid.

I still find Frame's essay somewhat useful. Frame criticizes the Epitome of the Solid Declaration for calling the use of the term "gospel" proper when used to describe the message in the bible that are only comforting.

Josh S is very correct when he says that
The problem with this article and many others of a similar nature is that the author sets out with a certain stereotype of Lutheranism (unfortunately, such stereotypes are often at least partially our own fault), interprets the Confessions using the stereotype as a hermeneutic, and proceeds merrily with his confutation.

Calvinists frequently get hammered when they want to use Gospel in what the Epitome calls the correct sense to include commands to repent of Sin, but in common parlance, we are accused of making improper distinctions between Law and Gospel. Well if "proper" just means "being used in this technical sense in our systematic theology," then the accusation is moot. We're systematizing differently and still correctly by the lutheran's own admission. If we're just being told our use is "improper" in a technical sense, then this is just a dispute about words. But somehow we end up accused of being legalist compromisers with meritorious works.

Josh S is correct of course to criticize Frame's claim that the Epitome offers no scriptural support for its contention that the Gospel is "properly" a preaching of grace only. But I have to add that the scripture proofs for the hermeneutical distinction are pretty thin reeds. Mark 1:15 seems to be about it, and it looks to me like the Solid Declaration is over-systematizing a short text where repent and believe virtually constitute a hendiadys.

I'd also finally challenge the whole systematic structure by claiming that Hebrews 12 shows us rather than a sharply divided message of grace from demand, a paradoxical merging of the demands of God, and his willingness to punish failure to meet those demands with the knowledge that the punishment itself constitutes a message of the loving fatherhood of God. Teasing that out into two messages seems impossible to me.

I really like Mark Horne's point about the intersection of God's action and man's action in the sacraments. Were you made by God, or were you conceived by your parents?

I'll have to remember that one.

I've also recently listened to Bill DeJong from the 2003 BH conference on the covenant controversy in the Netherlands. The problem of viewing the decretal acts of God as *more important* than the historical acts of God is endemic. Which is more important, God's decree of Judas' reprobation, or the Son's effectual call to him to be a disciple? The question itself is folly.

August 02, 2004

La de dah, some metalutherans banned me. I guess it was for mentioning David Daniel Fuller.

Who knows, though.

Just when I was getting ready to deny the extra calvinisticum, too.

De script shun




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