March 24, 2005

I wonder if the Westminster Confession of faith employs a "flat" hermeneutics or a more "convoluted" one when it comes to questions of continuity between Old Testament religious worship and practices and those of the New Testament church.

Consider the prooftexts offered in chapter 21. For the lawfulness of religious oaths, the proofs are Deuteronomy 6:13 and Nehemiah 10:29. For oaths, the references are Isaiah 19:21 and Ecclesiastes 5:4-5. For fasting, Joel 2:12 is cited along with new testament passages. Thanksgivings on special occasions cite Psalm 107 and Esther 9:22

The WCF on the duties of resting is taken wholely from old testament passages in exodus, Isaiah, and Nehemiah. Anyone who considers the Sabbath to actually be a law that is ceremonial in nature, rather than moral, would 1) disagree with the confession on the matter (the confession says the sabbath is a perpetual moral law) and 2) possibly have grounds to claim the WCF has a "flat" heremeneutics on that point.

In Chapter 22, expanding on lawful oaths and vows, virtually every prooftext on how they are to be regaded and administered is taken from the Old Testament texts (so frequently associted with sacrifical altar vows) with the exception of the proof for the fact that vows and oaths are warranted under the "new testament".

March 22, 2005

The wrangling in the post below over just what explicitly was going on in Passovers subsequent to the first celebration reminds me of the often difficult question arising where we have biblical evidence that somehow, the Torah must have been modified by other revelation for which we have no explicit scriptural record, only apparently approved example.

That the torah (particularly torah concerning ritual commandments) changes is explicitly stated in Hebrews. "The priesthood being changed, there is of necessity a change in Law". Speaking of the "great change" from Levitical to Melchizedekial in Christ, the principle seems to be stated with more universal application, and of course, there were periods of biblical history where liturgical law changes at times when the general Levitical priesthood changes family hands.

The move from tabernacle to (finally) temple accompanies the change from Eli's priestly line to one from Phineas. Clearly the manner of worship in the temple changes, and so there is of necessity a change in law, though this is not spelled out in exhaustive detail. And perhaps some of the changes were implemented by application of general wisdom or theological reflection, rather than command. Or perhaps not.

One example of how the law must change is the law of the inspection of jealousy. One of the components of the thing drunk by the woman being inspected was dust from the floor of the tabernacle. The tabernacle was set up on a dirt floor. The temple, however, had a floor of solid gold. Was an adjustment made to the rite? Most certainly. What adjustment was made? We have no idea.

This means we need not be terribly surprised if we seem to see evidence that the Passover rite was modified in some fashion in later biblical examples. We need not employ a hermeneutics that seeks to strictly harmonize the account of the Passover celebrated in Egypt in the absence of altar or tabernacle with one celebrated at the temple or tabernacle in the doorway thereof and the presence of the altar.

As Joel Garver has mentioned, we see these passovers described as "sacrifices" in Deuteronomy 16:2, 5, 6. As a matter of fact the Hebrew there for "sacrifice" (zabach) seems almost exclusively to be associated, when referring to offerings to YHWH, with Peace Offerings. (Whole burnt offerings, for example, never are "zabached", but rather are "'alahed" [ascended]). Examples of this may be found in Genesis 31:54, Leviticus 7:11, 9,4, 17:5 and 19:5, Joshua 8:31 and elsewhere. This probably one reason why theologians have said that the Passover zabach (exodus 12:27) is closely related to the Peace Offering zabach.

Several points of contact exist between them

1. Both are eaten by the worshipper
2. Both have strict regulations about consuming all of the animal sacrificed
3. Both involve the display of blood

So it should hardly be surprising to us, that when Israel left Egypt, and centralized sacrificial worship at the tabernacle (recall Leviticus 17, which required that all food period was to be sacrificed as a peace offering at the tabernacle) that there were adjustments to the rite as practiced. One obvious change would be that rather than sprinkling blood on the doorposts of the house in which one would cook and eat the meal, the blood would sprinkled on the altar (which, incidentally stood in the doorway of the tabernacle/temple).

This change to the rite (as well as the offering of the fat portions of the Passover on the altar to YHWH) is also attested in the Mishna, as Edersheim mentions.

So what? Well it means that some kind of deep wedge between the Passover rite and the other offerings and sacrifices of the Old testament is untenable, and therefore a deep wedge between the Old Testament Peace Offering or other altar rites and the New Covenant "Passover" of communion is also untenable. Which was my original point. That when 1 Corinthians 10 argues from the theology of pagan altars and Jewish altars, that those who eat from them are partakers with the demonic altar/table in a way that compromises the participation with Christ at his table. Paul argues from a general theory of participation at altar worship to remind the Corinthians that they can't be involved in participating in Christ and demons simultaneously.

This helps us put Hebrews into context, where the author reminds the believers that they should not count there being cut off from Jewish worship (in the background throughout the book) as a terrible thing, reminding them that they have an altar to eat from that those who serve the old covenant yet have no right to eat from. Whether this has primarily metaphorical application in Hebrews (that the general Christian praise offered is the "altar" referred to) or not is not crucial, as the language of eating associated with praise and thanksgiving is already enacted explicitly in Christian Eucharist.

The problem some would have with this analogy arises I suppose from a anti-romanizing tendency in reformed theology where the roman catholic use of sacrificial language in the Eucharist is rightly rejected as far as it indicates Christ re-killed on an altar for a continual atonement. But the concept of "altar" is not so irreducibly tied to the idea death that the Roman Catholic view is necessitated by the very language.

In actuality, the animal is not killed on the altar, but the altar is the place where the blood is displayed and where the food is consumed by God's fiery presence. The altar is the "table" from which the worshipper participates in fellowship with he whom the altar is dedicated to.

March 20, 2005

I am surprised to find challenged the notion that the Passover (after its institution in Egypt) was celebrated in the context of the tabernacle or temple. I wonder to what end one would maintain that the Passover had no relationship to the other sacrifices of the altar.

It seems to me that the following passages establish the point
"If any one of the house of Israel kills an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or kills it outside the camp, and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it as a gift to the LORD in front of the tabernacle of the LORD, bloodguilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people." Leviticus 17:3-4
If every animal killed in the wilderness had to be brought to the door of the tabernacle (i.e., the location of the altar) would we expect an exception for the Passover?
"And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the LORD your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the LORD will choose, to make his name dwell there" Deuteronomy 16:2
The place where YHWH's name would dwell was the tabernacle.
"And they slaughtered the Passover lamb, and the priests threw the blood that they received from them while the Levites flayed the sacrifices" (2 Chron 35:11)
where are the priests sprinkling blood if not against the altar? The rites described in 2 Chronicles have been adapted from the first instance to a temple setting.

The difficulty perhaps in considering the analogy between the Passover meal as described in exodus) and the altar offerings is an assenting of a great wedge between the one viewed as a meal and the other viewed as a religious ritual. But that is to misconstrue a key element of the tablernacle and temple as presented in the bible. The Temple is at the very least, a house for God, and the things in it are conformable to the things found in a house. There is food on a table, there is a place for cooking, there is a basin for washing, etc. The Passover meal is related to the altar sacrifices, because altar sacrifices are themselves meals, either food offering solely for YHWH (the ascention offering) or to be shared between YHWH and priest or YHWH, priest and worshipper.

March 18, 2005

Who said this
That God does indispensably require of him personal obedience, which may be called his evangelical righteousness. That this righteousness is pleadable unto an acquitment against any charge from Satan, the world, or our own consciences. That upon it we shall be declared righteous in the last day; and, without it, none shall. And if any shall think meet from hence to conclude unto an evangelical justification, or call God's acceptance of our righteousness by that name, I shall by no means contend with them.

Whenever this inquiry is made, How a man that professeth evangelical faith in Christ shall be tried and judged; and whereon, as such, he shall be justified? we grant that it is, and must be, by his own personal obedience.

Andrew Sandlin writes:
Third, the [High Church] view rests, in large measure, on the premise that the primitive church is an extension and outgrowth of the Old Testament temple.,, There is slender or no Biblical evidence for it. But it's even excessive to suggest that the premise for this belief is validly inferential.... None of the New Testament writers, nor Jesus, acted as though the primitive church was a sort of extension of the temple. More significantly, however, the distinctives of the temple were a central aspect of the Jewish religious cultus that Hebrews emphatically declares has passed away in the New Covenant era (chs. 8-10).
I don't think that can be sustained, particulalry by 1 Corinithians.

I would argue that 1 Cor. 9:13-14, where Paul says that Christ's command for the provision of those who proclaim the gospel partakes of a fundamental similarity as that which provided for the workers in the temple.

Also in 1 Cor. 10:18-21 Paul sets up a three line parallel between the food eaten in pagan temples and the sacrifices of Israel and the food eaten by the church at the Table of the Lord.

I can't readily see a a way to deny that this is temple-language applied to the corporate church in her worship.

March 17, 2005

"in justification, Christ imputes his active obedience to us"

Biblical proof for this?

A report on how MoMA's complaint about an NPR story seems to have (illegitimatly) led to the firing of the reporter.

And there is exhaustive detail about the case (from one museum lawyer's perspective).

March 16, 2005

And I was thinking that greater familiarity with islamic jurisprudence would soundl the death-knell for any kind of Christian theonomic justice with analogously harsh punishments. Maybe I'm wrong.

Paul says
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Why does Paul end his list by saying "against such things there is no law"? It seems a rather odd thing to say; both obvious and redundant. He also began by saying that we are no "under" the law, and that if the Galatians were to become circumcised, they would be debtors to the whole law.

Paul seems to be saying that life in the Spirit cannot be compared to life under the law. That under the Spirit's direction, the law has no hold, and of course, the fruit that the Spirit produces ("kindness" "goodness") are certainly not against the law either.

Some would say (see discussion below) "Not doing the full law makes [good works] not good enough to be acceptable to God." But such a statement can hardly make sense in the context of Galatians 5. Following the Spirit as He leads one towards kindness and peace and faithfulness and goodness will be acceptable to God, because we have been taken out from under the law in Christ. That's what Galatians says, anyway. Maybe Calvin says something different.

Christ died to the law on the cross, *through* the law, which condemned him as a sinner. That he was raised in the Spirit, and we with him, is why we are acceptable in Him to God, and why our works are considered good and the *same* spirit which raised Jesus from the dead quickens our "dead sinful flesh" to serve God aright (Romans 8). Life could not come to through the law, though it promised it, but the verdict of life the law promised is declared over Christ and over those in union with him who are partakers of the same Spirit.

March 15, 2005

Useful informationfor homeschooling of boys, and other matters
What is known is that boys generally take longer to learn to read than girls; they read less and are less enthusiastic about it; and they have more trouble understanding narrative texts yet are better at absorbing informational texts. Those findings are from a literacy study done in 2002, 'Reading Don't Fix No Chevys,' by Michael W. Smith, a Temple University professor, and Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Boise State University English education professor.
I didn't realize Michael W. Smith was also a professor. heh.

"Now the God of peace [...] through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ"

Justification is an act of God's free grace.

Sacntification is a work of God's free grace.

If God works sanctification in us, why at the last judgement, is all the work he did in us through Christ discarded in favor of works Christ did in his life on earth?

The verse quoted above seems to rule out the idea that what is well-pleasing in God's sight is righteousness imputed in a act of justifcation, since it is a working of God in terms of good works that "do his will", not an act of God (and that is a significant difference)

Performance, in other words?

Paedo Children's catachism (non-creationist version)

Who made you
My parents

What did God make

Who baptised you
The minister

March 09, 2005

The hiero-wife, having started her blog, enters the next phase: ranting. (Not a complaint; what's the point of having a blog if you can't rant!)

And a fine rant it is, about the "concept store" Whole Foods has opened recently, that turns shopping into entertainment. I echo her comments, and add that its another sign of Americans with way too much money. $1.49 each for getting to dip strawberries in a chocolate fountain is so egregious when that's about what I'd pay for 1/2 a pint.

I also echo her comments about Trader Joes, which I love for everything except meat. I'm never going back to hydrogenated peanut butter if I can get natural for $1.99 a jar at Trader Joes.

It all reminds me of what C. S. Lewis said about perverse sex
You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act--that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you come to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in the country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food?

March 02, 2005

We come in our Bible study tonight to Proverbs 12, which includes verse 10
A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
Bruce Waltke in his commentary translates "needs" (nephesh, often translated "life") as "desires".

Blueletterbible.org tells me that the translation of nephesh as 'desires' is the case in Jeremiah 22:27 or Habakuk 2:5. It is also frequently paired with a more common word for desires, as in "whatever thy soul desires".

That said, its interesting how it sheds light on this article in the Times of London on the inner life of the mind of cows and sheep. They apparently have complex emotional responses. I wonder if this is one of those things that they have proved scientifically that all actual farmers would have known.

Maybe my mom the sheep farmer cares to comment?

It does make factory farming a bit more disturbing. We'll see how the conversation goes tonight.

March 01, 2005

I guess this will help avoid lawsuits over addictive-game-inspired starvation.

I wonder if we'll ever come up against Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem [wikipedia link] in theology.

Part of concern over the NPP is that most orthodox adherents of it will state, "well, yes, all those passages you thought were demolishing merit legalism don't actually do that as such, but Luther still had the right idea."

One who is accustomed to thinking that the reformational view of justification is simply a reading of the plain sense of scripture will be troubled by this. He'll wonder how he has gone about secure in the knowledge that his opposition to Rome is justified by a simple "here I stand" if in fact the real meaning of the text is a bit different.

But what if we need to go beyond plain readings and "good and necessary consequence" to derive doctrine, or as Goedel's incompleteness Theorem might analogously hint, there are certain true doctrines neither expressly set down in scripture, nor derivable from good and necessary consequence from it, yet are still true.

I suppose a strong form of this idea might end up looking a bit like the roman catholic magisterium's definitions of dogma that goes beyond the bible's statements, promulgated as authoritatively as the bible itself. Which would be quite problematic.

I'm also sure my attempt to use the incompletness theorem in this analogous fashion is also problematic.

De script shun




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