April 29, 2005

Hey look, somebody actually asked the Monroe Four what they believe.

Last friday, NPR had a segment on the Santa Fe Desert Academy Precision Poetry Drill Team, a group of students who do interpretive group recitations of poetry.

I like Kubla Khan and The Tyger. I'd buy a CD of this stuff if it was available. And it dind't all sound stacatto. Which I suspect it might.

NPR read a letter about the segment last night from sombody who assumed Collerige would be spinning in his grave.

Questions Reformed Theology can't answer:

1. If physical death is the penalty for the sin of adam, and we all die for our sins and the imputation of Adam's guilt for his sin, what do we say of Enoch and Elijah who were assumed bodily into heaven and did not die? How can there be exceptions to the imputation of Adam's sin? To sinfullness? Did Enoch and Elijah keep the law perfectly and thus merited deathless transition to heaven?


Kevin A. Hassettl of NRO has noted what I thought last night
The Social Security policy debate has been strange, to say the least. President Bush has been aggressively pushing reform, but in an odd way. While he has given countless speeches on the subject, he has not proposed a plan, and Congress appears to be floundering without one. It is one of the first times in policy history that I can remember when a president has been willing to say we must have a reform, but at the same time has been unwilling to say exactly what this reform might be.
Bush was asked this question
I wanted to ask you about your ideas on dealing with Social Security solvency problems.

As I understand it -- and I know you'll tell me if I'm wrong -- benefits would be equal to what -- at least equal to what they are today, and then any increase in benefits would be indexed according to income, with lower-income people getting bigger increases. ... How far are you going to go with this means-based program? Are you talking about a system where a rich person... wouldn't get much out of it?
and Bush responded
First of all, in terms of the definition of whose benefits would rise faster and whose wouldn't, that's going to be part of the negotiation process with the United States Congress.

A Democrat economist had a had a level of -- I think 30 percent of the people would be considered to be on the lower income scale.

But this is to be negotiated. This is a part of the negotiation process
I was a bit perturbed, but I see the wisdom and "tone changing" nature of this way of framing it. Bush could tell everybody the program he thought was ideal in exhaustive detail, and then few would get on board, and Democrats could blame failure to act on the plan, or characterize some portion of the stated plan as evil, mean-spirited, etc. But this way of doing it comes across with more humility and is an invitation to the Democrats to be involved collaboratively.

Did you ever wonder what Tenth would look like if it were a restauraunt? (tip of the hat to fellow Tenth blogger christiana

I haven't done one of these in a while

Your Linguistic Profile:

50% General American English

40% Yankee

10% Dixie

0% Midwestern

0% Upper Midwestern

I wonder what Sherds will map to, as she's been out of the midwest for a spell. (You should hear her when she comes back, or even when on the phone with a fellow minnesotan)

That passage from Romans 1 would have an interesting application in the debate over the appropriateness of pictures of Christ.

Typically, an argument against such pictures will state that a picture of Christ will only be of his human nature, and therefore constitute a "lie," not giving the person the "full picture" as it were.

But Romans 1 declares that everything in the creation that is visible holds the capacity to make the invisible divine nature "seen" and understood. Does it not?

(The capacity for created things to represent the divine nature does not permit their use as objects of worship, as Paul goes onto make clear: though in the four-footed beast the invisible divine nature is clearly seen, it is an error to fall down and worship the beast.)

David Bayly, a critic of Auburn Avenue betrays an interesting ignorance
I won't honor certain sites by naming them here, but you don't have to look hard via Google to find men claiming to be Reformed who love the "truths" of N.T. Wright and the sacerdotalists among the Auburn Avenue crowd more than they love the heritage which gave them birth.
Someone asks him
My concern, David, is whether the people you intend to criticize, whom I assume to be Doug Wilson, Steve Wilkins, Steve Schlissel, and their associates, would recognize their positions in the statements which you ... denounce.
and he replies
Actually, none of the men you mention were part of my thinking when I wrote the post.

The only man you list who I've read to any significant degree is Doug Wilson
So he knows Auburn Avenue is bad, but has never read anything by the pastor of Auburn Avenue.

As my brother points out to me in the comments on the post below, the times when the phrase "beauty of holiness" occurs in Scripture, it seems to be a reference to the beauty of God's holiness, and not, as both I and my interlocutor were assuming, a reference to the beauty of the holiness of the worshipper.

(Well, maybe. The AV leaves it as "beauty of holiness" and makes it somewhat ambiguous as whose holiness in being referred to. The NIV states in the body text that the worship is of the Lord in the splendor of His holiness, but footnotes that it could be rather a call for the worshipper to have the quality of splendor of holiness.

The ESV footnotes that it may be best to translate the term "holy attire".)

My brother asks, "should we make an object communicate to us an attribute of God". Its not a matter of "making" these objects communicate (in the sense of represent or symbolize) attributes of God, but as Romans 1:20 says "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made"

God is glorious, and glory is represented and symbolized by things in the world which are in themselves glorious (gold, precious stones, beautiful trees, lions, the sun, hair, horns, etc).

The other sense of "communicate an attribute," meaning to receive a quality posessed by God (needfully, a communicable attribute, like being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth) frequently seem to involve created things, both in the old testament and the new testament. In the old, holiness was "communicated" by anointing with oil for instance. Being is communicated by ordinary generation. In the new testament, authority is communicated by the laying on of hands. Etc.

Two of the cases of the phrase "beauty of holiness" occur in the context of sacrificial worship (but not necessarily that of the Temple: rather the Tent of David where he set up the Ark) which was known for its holiness reflected in the sacredness of the objects used in that worship, and their beauty.

April 28, 2005

Battlefield Britain is a cool show I just saw tonight. The BBC has a nice website for it. Tonight's episode covered the conflics between wales and england, in Owain Glyn Dwr and the Battle for Wales.

My son made a bug today. And so did daughter

The other day I was conversing with someone who was hostile to the idea of having candles in a worship service. I couldn't see a principled objection to candles, as a circumstance of worship, rather than an element, and in view of their aesthetic beauty and practical illuminative qualities.

I referred to the idea of 'worshiping the Lord in the beauty of holiness' as a justification that the aesthetic quality of candles justified their inclusion in a worship room, just as the aesthetic qualities of paint, carpet, architectural details, etc likewise do.

I was challenged in my application of that text, as my interlocutor wished to restrict it to only the following meaning: "holiness is regarded by God as a positive quality, and the verse merely commands worship with the quality of holiness."

I think rather, that the verse assumes (by good and necessary consequence) that holiness is commanded by God as a form of beauty, but that presupposes that "beauty" in and of itself is a positive value.

It would hardly make sense to argue in this fashion
  1. God places no value on beauty in worship
  2. God commands worship to take place in the beauty of holiness
Rather, we should understand that the converse of premise 1 is implied by the command, therefore:
  1. God cares very much that worship have the quality of beauty
  2. Holiness is the primary criterion of the beauty that should qualify worship

Hey, look, an article from the PCA denominational magazine on the value of Lent particularly as it relates to a season of repentance.

I suppose some who worry about such things are concerned that this is "embracing Rome". I'd have to say that if a church is already recognizing Easter and Christmas, objections to other church seasons that have their origins in the historic united church are rather moot. If you want to complain about Lent, complain about Easter and Christmas first. (Go ahead, see how far you get in the PCA doing so)

Sure, we should always repent, but nothing is wrong with focusing on a doctrine or practice during a particular time of the year. You could set it up from July 7th for 32 days, but why 'reinvent the wheel'. (Which I have seen done. One PCA church I know of did a "50 day Spiritual Adventure" just prior to Easter. Um, fellas, just call it Lent.)

Peter Leithart writes
Strictly, I believe that what is reckoned to us is not Christ's obedience per se (cf. WCF 11.1), but the verdict God passed on Christ's obedience in His resurrection (Romans 4:25).
So what's wrong with that, exactly? What do we get with a two step act of reckoning righteousness first (imputation), and then a declaration that the person is in fact righteous (the verdict)? What do we miss with a one step act of God imputing the verdict? Do we gain anything?

April 26, 2005

The American Anthropological Association has enetered the gay marriage fray. Peter Wood comments on National Review: Online, discussing the difference between European and American ideas of how kinship studies should be done. The European tendency is to look for the common elements of human culture, the American tendency is to look at the diversity of differing cultures.

April 24, 2005

Today D. A. Carson gave the sermon as part of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. His text was from the sermon on the mount, that those who say "Lord, Lord" are not those in the kingdom, but those who do the will of the Father. He spent the beginning of the sermon intensifying the antithesis between the wicked and the righteous in the bible, noting, as in Psalm 1, all the wonderful things said of the righteous, "not so, the wicked".

But this brought us a dilemma, for how could it be that we, as (hopefully) part of the Kingdom, seem to be quite wicked. We don't see clear ethical antithesis in our life, we see corruption and sin. He brought us to some of the starkest statements of this in 1 John.
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning
He argued that while he could try to slice the Greek in such a way as to differentiate between sinning and some kind of "life of sin", allowing for sin while denying a life of sin in the believer, he thought this was not the right way to go.

Instead, he said this was simply a great indicative about Christians. It didn't reflect a change in the ontological status of Christians, rendering them incapable of sinning. He likened it to a schoolteacher who says "we do not chew gum in this class." It would hardly be to the point for a student to claim to his teacher "oh, yes we do: see!" while chewing some claiming there is nothing in his ontology preventing him from doing so. The point is to take it as a renewed call for obedience, and a recognition that the kingdom that Christians are entering at the consummation is one that actually will be free from sin, and it is a Kingdom established on the salvation from sin (not just its guilt, but also its effects and practice) by the work of Jesus.

He really made a great deal of this analogy, that "we do not sin around here" is simply a great indicative. I wonder though. Would we not say that a classroom full of gum chewers headed by a teacher emphatically proclaiming "we do not chew gum in this class" is a bit of a problem? God is not one to wink at sin and proclaim a sinless kingdom so emphatically without expecting that lived out is he?

I also wondered about Carson's denial of any real "ontological" quality of the Christian to deal with sin. It seems to ignore the repeated claims of 1 John, that there is something of the nature of the Christian believer that has changed his relationship with sin. He is "born of God", "God's seed abides in him". We have "passed from death to life, because we love the brothers".

It strikes me that when we use terms like "we do not do that around here" we're using an indicative phrase, but we mean to state an imperative instead.

April 22, 2005

Peter Leithart's heavily qualified linkingof baptism and justification will surely be controversial. But on this premise
Thus, Paul teaches that those who have been baptized have been justified. But how are we to understand this? And how does this fit with justification by grace through faith? The answer, I believe, turns on seeing baptism, as mentioned above, as an act of God. Baptism is analogous to the Word of God; it declares the forgiveness of sins and the justification of the ungodly. And both baptism and the gospel demand a response of faith.
wouldn't we just say: "be improvers of baptism, and not recipients only". We'd also need to affirm that the declaration of justification in baptism is revocable.

A well argued point from Jonah Goldberg on Cookie Monster. Watching the new Sesame Street, I knew this had to be coming down the pike eventually. No way they could justify a character who wasn't (like Oscar the Grouch) a negative example who indulged in something considered unacceptable behavior.

Goldberg's last line is pretty angry
Maybe the kids in wheelchairs should get up and walk next season because we’re all in favor of kids being able to walk

April 21, 2005

I wish somebody would tell me how to figure out if it makes sense to get some kind of loan for various necessary repairs/upgrades my house needs, and what terms I should look for. I suppose these guides must exist somewhere.

I hate money (sometimes)

April 19, 2005

So Revenge of the Sith is coming out next month. I'm somewhat excited about it.

I'm assuming that Lucas will not make it possible to watch the movies in their episode order with complete outside ignorance and be unable to know going into ANH and ESB that Vader is Luke's father. I mean, he could do it if he wanted to, but I'm guessing he isn't going to want to. Which is a shame.

It strikes me that the "scientific" explanantion of the Force in Episode 1 may be part of the planned flow of things in how the Force is presented in the Star Wars universe. When the Republic was in full swing, it was a rational power explained by simple biological facts. In the period of the Empire, with most of the Jedi killed off, it is recalled with mysticism and takes on the more of the nature of a religion. I think the timeframe of the movies is a bit short for that actually to be credible, but maybe its the intention anyway.

Irate Nate is right. Mom's Cancer is a powerful cartoon.

April 13, 2005

Was every doctrine or practice knowable by good and necessary consequence actually taught by the Apostles with their explicit knowledge and understanding, or even at all?

If yes, are we willing to claim that Paul knew that slavery should be illegal, and taught the same only in sublte terms?

If no, is it possible that infant baptism wasn't actually practiced in the early church, but came later properly to be seen as a good and necessary consequence of biblical teaching.

If we can actully now eat all the blood and things strangled we want (as John Owen argues that the Acts 15 letter was only for the time of transition) then we would have to understand that none of the apostles would have actually been teaching that at the time, and that the allowance would have had to be discerned in post apostolic times. (I actually think Owen in wrong) I guess tongues and prophesy may fall into that category too: though the apostles taught that you could do those things, now we know by G&NC that those things have ceased.

Anything else?

Did some quick searching on "federally holy", trying to see what has been said about the basis for the federal holiness of infants. Usually, federal holiness is predicated of children of believers before their baptisms, and is expressed as the reason that baptism should be administered to them, that the seal of the covenant might be given to those to whom the promises already apply.

It seems though, that Thomas Vincent (who is that?) saw things differently
The Scripture is express, that the infants of Christians are holy [1 Cor. 7:14]. As the Jews are called in Scripture a holy nation, because by circumcision they were made visible Church members; so the infants of Christians, as well as themselves, are called holy; that is, federally holy, as they are by baptism made visible Church members.
William Robinson, a Baptist, disagrees with federal holiness in toto, but it is instructive to refute his reasons, as they do not comport with what was actually the case in the old covenant.
The idea of being "federally holy" is unknown in the New Testament. It has often been urged that Baptism took the place of circumcision, and Colossians ii. 11 is quoted in support. But Colossians ii. 11 can have no reference to Baptism, for it is a "circumcision made without hands." Then it is clear that circumcised Jews were baptized, and baptized Hellenists were circumcised (Timothy) when occasion demanded. But, after all, circumcision did not make Jews "federally holy." They were born, not circumcised, into the holy race.

The word akatharta denotes that which is impure, defiled, idolatrous, in a Levitical sense or in a moral sense, and here properly expresses illegitimacy. The subject under discussion by St. Paul is not Baptism, but moral relations. Marriage with heathens was sharply forbidden. St. Paul's language is very strong, and Tertullian shows that in his day it was regarded as equal to fornication. But St. Paul here allows that where the marriage already exists it is clean, and not to be dissolved, unless the unbelieving party deserts. Uncleanness and holiness are regarded as infectious.
I think the problem is his assumption that circumcision has nothing to do with the holy status of the Jews is erroneous. All Israelites who were born were in fact unclean, expressed by their mother's contagious uncleanness for a period of time after birth (due to the 'unclean issue' of the birth lochia). But in the case of a male child, his circumcision cuts in half the duration of the uncleanness of the mother (and thus the child also)

A while ago, I responded to Joseph Pipa's claim that Steve Wilkins, in purporting Adam's roles as covenant head and husband to be identical, was neglecting the role of Adam as covenant head. It seemed at the time that Pipa was coming from the view that it was only Adam considered "as a public person" that qualified him to be the covenant head of the race, and Wilkins avoidance of stating that, while Adam was the progenitor of the race as father of all, it was actually some secondary designation of him as a covenant head that was the basis for the imputation of sin to his posterity.

The idea that Wilkins is somehow contraconfessional thereby seems rather strained and picaune to turn on such a rarified point. What possible reason would there be for driving a wedge between Adam's role as father of the race and Adams role as covenant head of the race? Pipa surely offers none.

Perhaps the idea would be that if sin is imputed merely because Adam is the father of the race (and therefore covenant head), then that would end up contradicting the principle expressed in Ezekiel and in the Torah, that children are not held accountable for their father's sins, but rather, suffer only if their sins are after the similitude of their father's. But the totalizing application of that principle is already threatened by the second commandment.

But this is also to note that reformed theology has associated federal headship with mere fatherhood in other contexts. Children of believeing parents are called 'federally holy' in reformed theology. Why are they federally holy? Is it not because they are under a holy covenant head (their father or mother) in whom the promise of the covenant has been actualized?

Fun question: Name the three human beings to whom the sin of Adam is not imputed.

April 06, 2005

So I'm leading a bible study on Colossians 4:10-13 tonight for a college crowd. I check on amazon for some quick resources (search inside the book is pretty cool). One book that looks interesting is Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire, which looks interesting, trying to address Colossians to a pomo audiance. From my quick scan I noticed that part of their agument for the direction of Colossians against "empire" is that the "mystery" that Paul proclaims is supposed to recall the use of "mystery" in emeperor worship. What's odd is that N.T. Wright gives a glowing blurb for this book, but objects to just that point about mystery in his own commentary on Colossians.

Also, the book ends with a dialogue between the reader and author about various left-wing economic concerns that Colossians addresses put into concrete terms like buying fair-trade shade grown coffee, boycotting wal-mart and keeping your kids away from TV and the internet. Reads as quite a shotgun approach. Although I don't feel qualifed to address evey thing they mention there, one thing caught my eye and ire
The Internet brings us to an even more insidious form of marketing to our children. Not only does regular Internet service enable companies to place "cookies" on e-mail addresses in order to send targeted marketing, but the in-school computer network Zap-Me "monitors students' paths as they surf the Net and provides this valuable market research... to its advertizers.
The comment about cookies is pure fiddlefaddle. The source for the contention about Zap Me is Kline's No Logo, and again, I have to wonder if Zap Me is actually being adopted in any kind of widespread way or if its a trial, or if its already faded from view.

April 05, 2005

Theology should depend on Revelation, Reason, and Tradition, like a three legged stool. Somehow Revelation should have primacy among them, but if a leg is longer, the stool will be unbalanced.

To better fit the picture, we could say they are of equal lnegths, but the Revelation leg is prettier. Its also made of carbon steel, and is a template that can be used to match the other two which are made of balsa and corkwood and frequently have to be reshaped.

I think that one of the answers to the NPP is robust, biblical ... teaching about community and about the social implications of the Gospel, rather than to try and find a social dimension in justification. Because if you find it there, your are going to end up losing everything and gaining not much
Hey, notice the problem with this quotation? They way it drives a wedge between "the Gospel", where we might find social implications, and "Justification", where we should find no social implications? That strikes me as very odd.

Also, the Old Testament is replete with a "social dimension" to the atonement. The Yom Kippur rite entailed a single goat being offered to atone for the sins of the whole community, not one goat per personal sin.

Oh, wait, that's using a "flat" heremeneutic...

April 03, 2005

The problem with the priesthood inserting itself between the reader and the Bible was one of the matters the Reformation dealt with. My understanding of it (if I recall) was that the Roman Catholic magisterium would say what the text meant, offering no explanation, and not feeling the need to defend their interpretation with public appeals to facts, publicly accessible documents, or publicly declared reason. You just had to "take it on faith" that your priest's claims about the text were correct. You didn't need to understand any doctrines for yourself, just that you had to affirm "implicit faith": that you believed whatever it was that the church said it believed.

When scholars do the same things (claim you should take their interpretations "on faith" without appealing to public facts or offering logical arguments to scrutinize) they recapitulate the errors of Rome. This needs to be guarded against.

Heard an excellent sermon on Isaiah 55 today. "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters." What was pointed out (really almost in passing) what how significant water (a necessity of life) was in the ancient near east. It wasn't the case that (as I can) one could turn on the faucet and get all the water one wanted for cheap. The pastor informed me that the Ancient Israelite view of water was of somethign hard to get and highly prized. This changed my view of water as a plentiful though useful substance.

I'm kinda worried though that the pastors reliance on scholarship in explaining the view of water in the ancient near east inserts a kind of "priesthood" of scholarship between me and a simple reading of my Bible. I'll be on the alert to see if this kind of thing crops up any more frequently.

De script shun




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