October 27, 2005

Today I actually got to get out and see a bit more of Boston than just the hotel and attached upscale mall. I walked with my family down to the Boston Public Garden, with a lovely pond. I was really impressed with Boston's architecture and wide streets. Larger and more grandiose than Philly in feel, but not as overwhelming and hyperurban as New York.

Walking back to my session on Web Application designs practices for Teams, i passed the Old South church (UCC) and saw a note about a Jazz service that they hosted. They actually go so far as to call it
New Jazz at Old South: an Un-Worship service
truth in advertizing I guess. I mean you can call it 'emerging', or 'radical', or 'casual' or 'unconventional' or 'informal' or 'free form'. But actually saying it's 'un-worship'...

October 26, 2005

I've already commented on the utility of the 'autolink' function of the new Google toolbar. It ltes you find maps related to what look like address fields in a document. Also take ISBNs and goes to amazon with them.

It would be useful to find scripture references within pages and turn them into clicable links to biblegateway or something similar. Is google toolbar open source?

Maybe its just my impression, but women who attend technical educaction conferences dress up much more than do men.

October 25, 2005

I suppose you can call me a total geek [you're a total geek - ed], but I quite enjoy listening to two of the audio pod/webcasts of interest to gamers.

The first is The OgreCave Audio Report which covers more of the world of fantasy and science fiction games. One of the participants is also a gamestore owner, so it seems to focus more on the business side of games: what companies are coming out with 'hot' product, what's selling well, etc.

The second is like unto it. The Dice Tower is more oriented towards reviews of games and also (as far as I can tell) is more schmoozy in doing things like spending large portions of the show just listing games that fit some category or another. Yes, I can listen to it for a whole hour. Its fun to hear folks who love their hobby as much as I do and have even more time to explore the intricacies of it.

The Dice Tower seems to be produced by Christian missionaries. Ogre Cave, not so much (vulgar language is also heard on occasion). Just a forewarning.

Here I am in Boston at User Experience 20005 sponsored by Neilsen Norman Group. We all made it up safely through the constant rain. We saw what would have been some spectacular fall foliage had it had the light of the sun shining upon it.

Tonight was a plenary session with Tim Briggs of Microsoft discussing the way in which the upcoming version of Office has made use of usability design principles and studies. Sounds like it will have some interesting new features to help users find out about the functionality of Office. That's a major goal of the new version, to assist the browsing of program functionality which is otherwise overwhelming. There will be 'galleries' of what many fuctions can do to the document, showing little thumbnail previews of how the document might look with the style or format applied. There are even thumbnail previews of dialog boxes. Looked pretty helpful.

Those microsft folks have alot of resources to put into studying usability. They get some test users to agree to have their every mouse move recorded and put into a database for anaylsis, which gives them more info than they can effectively use.

It was interesting to see the growth of the complexity of Office and Word over various versions. The 2003 version has 31 tool bars and 19 different task panes. Word 97 introduced submenus. Word 95 introduced the spellcheck squiggles and 'intellisense'

October 23, 2005

Are very many people in the industrial west anxious about clothes?

Even if I had much less money than I do, I could still get plenty of good clothes cheaply from thrift stores, etc.

I suppose long ago, before industrialization, making clothes was a time consuming and expensive proposition. You had to get enough wool and linen each year, spin it, weave it, and sew it into clothes. If you didn't do it enough, the few garments you would have would wear out and you would be cold and naked.

That seems to be the kind of anxiety about clothes that Jesus warns against. Were many of his hearers anxious in the way i suppose a few of us might be, as to whether our clothes were impressive and tasteful enough? But that really isn't his point. That kind of anxiety looks silly, in comparison to the anxiety a poor person whose wife stayed up until midnight manufacturing enough clothes for the whole family each year.

Wasn't it our anxiety about clothes that led to industrialization which removed our anxiety about clothes? Can we attribute it to somethign other than anxiety? (A desire to be free from anxiety by ingenuity and following God's call to subdue the earth?)


October 21, 2005

A cry from the heart of Carl Truman
This brings me to the loss of simple, unaccompanied psalm singing in our churches, a practice once widely held but now all but dead. Where does the consumerism of the modern world, with its whizz bangs, its slick packaging, its instant fixes, its American football culture, find space for the broken voice of the psalmist, with his extended passages of subtle, beutiful, deep skill, his unmarketable misery, his powerful but tragic images? And is the accent on praise bands (whether rock combos or classical orchestras -- the difference seems to me to be quantitative, not qualitative, despite the convoluted attempts by traditionalists to do down the contemporary praise guys) more of an entertaining aesthetic distraction from God's glory than an aid to worship?
Maybe. Was David's orchestra a distraction?

Will the harps played in heaven be a distraction?

October 20, 2005

Oh yeah, that was a good article to write.

Is there something about having a family of 18 white people that makes their whitness more prominent?

Are they supposed to have a couple of non-whites in their tribe?

I'm listening to part of the Desiring God conference on Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.

Carl Ellis talk on The Sovereignty of God and Ethnic based Suffering is very interesting, particularly as he tries to describes the character of marginalization that subdominant groups experience at the hand of dominant groups.

He also provides an excellent defense of the of the idea that the a major problem of the Jews of Paul's day was ethnocentrism, using Acts 13 as a prime example. I wonder though whether the dynamic was completely that of being the 'dominant group' unwilling to give up privilege. I'd think at least part of the problem the Jews faced and why they reacted so negatively to Paul's ministry to gentiles was that Paul was reaching out to the dominant group. The Jews were a minority. The gentiles were their oppressors and the Jews had a long track record of this oppression from gentile groups.

Its true though that the Jews had 'divine privilege' and that fits the paradigm to a larger extent.

Food for thought, as was this thread on sibboleth about the NBA dress code

update: Still listening, but less enthusiastic. I'm not sure this "works". He talks about the Hebrew experience in goshen as 'internalize oppression", where the oppressed people group internalizes their own inferiority and looks to the dominant culture as better. He attributes this as the motive for the golden calf: lets go back to the Egyptian Gods who we know are 'better' than our own ethnic 'loser' of a God.

If that's so, does God slaughtering the lot of the idolaters make sense?

October 19, 2005

"It is of prime importance that a Reformed creed should guard liberty of interpretation on those questions that are ostensibly matters of dispute among the most orthodox of Reformed thinkers."

I read "A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy" first in the collection The Best Software Writing. Very eye-opening.

At least the sex-talk in the Reformed group-discussion seems to be at a minimum.
Now, Bion decided that what he was watching with the neurotics was the group defending itself against his attempts to make the group do what they said they were supposed to do. The group was convened to get better, this group of people was in therapy to get better. But they were defeating that. And he said, there are some very specific patterns that they're entering into to defeat the ostensible purpose of the group meeting together. And he detailed three patterns.

The first is sex talk, what he called, in his mid-century prose, 'A group met for pairing off.' And what that means is, the group conceives of its purpose as the hosting of flirtatious or salacious talk or emotions passing between pairs of members.

You go on IRC and you scan the channel list, and you say 'Oh, I know what that group is about, because I see the channel label.' And you go into the group, you will also almost invariably find that it's about sex talk as well. Not necessarily overt. But that is always in scope in human conversations, according to Bion. That is one basic pattern that groups can always devolve into, away from the sophisticated purpose and towards one of these basic purposes.

The second basic pattern that Bion detailed: The identification and vilification of external enemies. This is a very common pattern. Anyone who was around the Open Source movement in the mid-Nineties could see this all the time. If you cared about Linux on the desktop, there was a big list of jobs to do. But you could always instead get a conversation going about Microsoft and Bill Gates. And people would start bleeding from their ears, they would get so mad.

If you want to make it better, there's a list of things to do. It's Open Source, right? Just fix it. 'No, no, Microsoft and Bill Gates grrrrr ...', the froth would start coming out. The external enemy -- nothing causes a group to galvanize like an external enemy.

So even if someone isn't really your enemy, identifying them as an enemy can cause a pleasant sense of group cohesion. And groups often gravitate towards members who are the most paranoid and make them leaders, because those are the people who are best at identifying external enemies.

The third pattern Bion identified: Religious veneration. The nomination and worship of a religious icon or a set of religious tenets. The religious pattern is, essentially, we have nominated something that's beyond critique. You can see this pattern on the Internet any day you like. Go onto a Tolkien newsgroup or discussion forum, and try saying "You know, The Two Towers is a little dull. I mean loooong. We didn't need that much description about the forest, because it's pretty much the same forest all the way."

Try having that discussion. On the door of the group it will say: "This is for discussing the works of Tolkien." Go in and try and have that discussion.

Now, in some places people say "Yes, but it needed to, because it had to convey the sense of lassitude," or whatever. But in most places you'll simply be flamed to high heaven, because you're interfering with the religious text.

So these are human patterns that have shown up on the Internet, not because of the software, but because it's being used by humans. Bion has identified this possibility of groups sandbagging their sophisticated goals with these basic urges. And what he finally came to, in analyzing this tension, is that group structure is necessary. Robert's Rules of Order are necessary. Constitutions are necessary. Norms, rituals, laws, the whole list of ways that we say, out of the universe of possible behaviors, we're going to draw a relatively small circle around the acceptable ones.

October 18, 2005

What if we view final justification as not just meaning acceptable for God; but marked out to be enthroned as kings and agents for recreating creation.

That fits with the parable of the talents. The works are evaluated, and the servant is elevated, not 'accepted for the first time'.

It fits with abraham getting a promise that his seed will 'fill the earth'. That's a creational promise, undoing the curse of adam.

Do we determine the meaning of a promise of God by the text of the promise, or by what resonable limits have to be placed on the promise because of experience?

The Christian's Great Interest - Conclusion--The whole Treatise resumed in a Few Questions and Answers
Quest. 1. What is the great business a man has to do in this world?
Ans. To make sure a saving interest in Christ Jesus, and to walk suitably thereto.
Q. 2. Have not all the members of the visible church a saving interest in Christ?
A. No, verily; yea, but a very few of them have it.
Wow. really? I guess if the Roman Catholic church is a visible church (kingdom and household of God outside of which there is ordinarily no salvation) I could see that.

October 17, 2005

I'm not sure one can prooftext opposition to being "seeker-sensitive" by merely citing Romans 3:11.

In acts 15:17, God acts to enable the remnant of mankind to seek the Lord.

In acts 17:27, Paul tells the men of athens (in a rather sensitive way) that God set the boundaries of the nations for the purpose that they would seek God.

In John 12:19-20, some greeks seek for Jesus.

Whats wrong with expecting unchurched people who maybe hear a evangelistic message on the radio, or who are faced with the knowledge that they are in need of a savior, but have not yet 'closed with Christ' to be 'seekers', and to do things in church to make such people feel welcome and like the church is there to help them. That may not be what happenes in 'seeker sensitive' churches, but that hardly means the very term is refutable by citing Romans 3:11.

So if we are accounted as having lived the righteous life of Christ, how can the story of a righteous life be imputed to another person?

That's why we theologize the concept of "merit" or obedience to legal obligations, because those sound more like bookkeeping entities than a righteous life does.

I think the 'merit' idea might lack the right kind of primitivism that we actually find in the bible in discussion of Christ's blood.

The 'life of the flesh is in the blood'. It might seem more comfortable to think about cold business entities being transfered around, but if Christ's life is in his blood, and we get sprinkled with that blood, then that's a much warmer idea and pictures the alien iustinia just as effectively, no?

"Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood"

Doesn't that cinch it? No mention of merit, merely blood?

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."

We affirm that the death of Christ atones for sin, so that we are not guilty. But to bring us near we need more. Do we need his merits imputed? Or do we need his blood?

"and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."

The blood of his cross doesn't get us to a 'neutral place' as his death does. It takes us the rest of the way and actually results in reconciliation and peace.

"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood."

Christ's blood obtains the church for himself, not just atoning for the sins of the church through death, but obtaining it in exchange for blood.

"he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood,"

Not by his meritorious lawkeeping qualifying him to enter the holy place (how could it, as the law only every allowed the HP to enter 1nce a year, and he needed a substitute! Jesus entering the Holy Place by means of his own blood has nothing to do with anythign the torah has in view!

"For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience"

How can we have a clear conscince? Even if our sins are atoned for, we know that we do not do enough to receive salvation from God. But the blood of the unblemished christs purifies our conscience and we can stand before him in full confidence, knowing that we have full acceptance, because we can display the blood of our sacrifice.

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus"

As is repeated.

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot

A blood payment is sufficient payment to gain heaven. The passive death of Christ was enough to pay the penalty for sin, but the need for positive righteousness is fulfiled by the blood.

The law promised death for those who disobeyed.

The law promised life for those who obeyed.

The law didn't promise ressurection for those who obeyed, but got killed anyway.

Therefore, ressurection doesn't come though the law. Therefore, it was not Jesus keeping the terms of the law-covenant that resulted in the law-covenant giving him what was his due.

Sometimes I feel like when I look at Westminsterian theology, I'm looking at the first derivative of the salvation function, instead of the actual curve of the line.

So if its really bad to use the same word in a covenantal sense and in a decretal sense (like, for instance "invisible church" and "visible church", then is it ok if instead of anyone speaking of a final "justification" according to works, we just speak of aquittal or vindication? Will that take care of the issue?

Does this from the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly
Whereas, any doctrinal teaching that denies or deviates from the historical Reformed formula of justification by faith alone, that is, that man is forensically (legally) declared, not made, right with God through faith alone (which is the instrument and not the object), based wholly on the imputed righteousness of Christ's work through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, is adopted into the family of God, and sealed eternally in those covenant promises given to Christ as the Federal Head of the Elect, is contrary to the Bible and the Westminster Standards."
mean that God declares that he accepts us in justifcation, without actually accepting us?

And another thing that strikes me as misguided about the Federal Vision Statement is that it makes no specific citations of any named individuals to condemn their statements. If in fact there were a 'movement' that did all the things that the statement said that they did, then it would probably be problematic.

But if you condemn a admittedly diverse 'movement' for introducing works righteousness, and impute conclusions to the movement that many of those 'in' it deny, and don't actually demonstrate that any person in the movement says any of that, then all you don't really perform much of a warning service to the church, because you say nothing that many in the movement wouln't already agree with.

October 16, 2005

This view, known as 'covenant succession'
by some. But what a vague term, huh?
applies these promises to each individual baptized child
'covenantally' securing salvation
for them in their baptism. Thus baptism is no longer just a sign and seal.
false. It is VERY MUCH a seal. For opponents of federal vision, a 'seal' is just a synonym for sign, and FV rejects that in favor of actual presbyterianism.
It becomes, in effect, the reality of the promises of salvation given within the covenant
Duh. The reality of covenantal promises (a seal) are actually real promises. What are they otherwise, 'fake promises'?
and thus actually carries grace in the receiving of it apart from and prior to the exercise of faith.
false. No salvation is received apart from faith.

More presbyterians who ask you to doubt God's promises, by making promises be suspended on faith, rather than God's faithfulness.

At least parts of the Federal Vision Statement from Woodruff Road seem incoherent, especially when you endeavor to understand what the many 'federal vision' proponents actually mean. I have pre-edited the following to see how the criticims fails to hit the mark1
'Genuine [visible church] membership ... is not to be measured inwardly and subjectively, but outwardly and objectively.' This viewpoint means that practically speaking, 'membership in the [visible church] is to be understood in an undifferentiated sense.' Thus, there is no difference between the [visible church] membership of an adult, who has made a profession of faith, and a baptized child, who has not. Thus children, who have not yet expressed faith in Christ, are still considered to be covenantally part of the [household and family and kingdom of God] and engrafted into Christ [who fills all in all].

This view of the [graceiousness of the visible church] creates several problems. First, the subjective aspects of the [visible church], for all practical purposes, become excluded (i.e. the testimony and inward working of the Holy Spirit; WCF XVIII.2).
Let's stop right there. The testimony of the Holy SPirit in assurance is never said to be inward in XVIII.2. It follows after a statment about inward evidence of graces, but is seperarte. The Savoy Declaration of the Independancy chuches turned that into "immediate" testimony of the Spirit, realizing that the WCF left the door wide open for the Spirit to testfy to us through means like the sacraments. Resuming...
One's salvation would then become a works based system that could never truly grant assurance. Second, as will be discussed below, the sacraments take on a weight and importance that they were never meant to carry. Third, this view of the visible church destroys the visible/invisible church distinction as is stated in the Confession
What the FV has done, and is to be commended for, is to say what John Murray has said, that we have put far too much weight on the distinction between churches than is biblical or even confessional, (though there is some utility in it). We have denied how much grace God bestows trhough the outward and ordinary means that are found in the visible church. This denial has led to problems that need to be corrected.

And what's up with this?
We grieve over the FV practice of by-passing God's ordained means in the church of formulating their views through constructive interaction with their fellow teaching and ruling elders prior to disseminating their views.
Jim Jordan has been formulating his views through constructive interaction for years. The FV was a PASTOR'S CONFERENCE. Is there really a view that people have to be secretive about views that they themselves consider to be fully orthodox and in not contrary to confessional language? Since when?

Why does no one respond to Murray?

October 13, 2005

Continuing on the comics vein, my alert to the Alan Moore compilation came from Comic Shop News, which was disgraced with the following cover (warning: ugly chainmail bikini art; um, are those the hips of a human being?)

Apparently this comic (Red Sonja) will have an alternate cover which is even more hideous (and continues the Renaissance art tradition of slapping some breasts on a male body.

Some notes about recent and upcoming comic books

Infinite Crisis

This new book from DC comics finally starts what has been building for the last 2(?) years in the DC universe, the 'breakup' of the JLA and the rift between Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. I'm satisfied with how they've been leading up to this, though I must admit they also know how to market comic books very well. I went from reading Adventures of Superman, JLA, and Teen Titans to reading those and Villains United, OMAC, The Return of Donna Troy, and the four part series "Sacrifice" which spanned all 3 Superman books and Wonder Woman.

I'm impressed with their ability to bring some real surprises (at least to me, some reviewers mentioned how they "saw it coming a mile away"). Wonder Woman snapping Maxwell Lord's neck, the way the OMAC plan was implemented, the way Deathstroke the Terminator disguised himself as batman to extricate Dr. Light from the Titans's grasp, and the way they've made Donna Troy to be a link between the previous forgotten universes that were supposed to have been cleaned up in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths all elicited surprised reactions from me (sometimes to the consternation of my wife sitting peacefully in the chair next to me.)

Its funny, because some of what they're dealing with here shows that the original Crisis story, and even the irritating "Zero Hour" plotline failed in their stated goals to clean up DC continuity. They're still trying to figure out the true origin of Donna Troy (Wonder Girl), of Power Girl (formerly the earth-2 supergirl, then with 4 different origins after that I think) and integrating in the previous history of golden age and silver age superheroes.

Dc Universe as Written by Alan Moore

This very reasonably priced collection of all of Alan Mores DC universe stories that don't involve the Swamp Thing series will be coming out in January. It has some favorites I recall, like Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow (about superman's last days before they revamped him) and In Blackest Night, a really intriguing story about the Green Lantern Corps selecting a green lantern from a planet that is completely dark and whose life-forms have no sense of sight (thus raising the question of what it means to have a power based on green light you can't see.) It has a few other stories I didn't even know about, so I'll be looking forward to this for some first-time reading as well.

Showcase Presents: Superman - Volume 1

This is a $10 compilation of all the Superman stories published in 1958 and 1959. Its black and white, but 500 pages of comics for $10 is a pretty good deal, and I'm thinking young kids might appreciate the simpler story telling in these stories.

I was also interested by this review from Aint-it-cool-news which pointed out how gradually superman canon changed
Furthermore, I am always struck by the difference between fan remembrances of long-lost comics versus getting to put my hands and eyes on the actual thing. I think I can hear the heads exploding around the country as the continuity-obsessed out there find out a few of the gems I'm about to share. Did you know that even after 20 years of stories and continuity, Superman's powers still were not gained because of the yellow sun/red sun difference between Earth and Krypton? Nope. Throughout all these stories, and in some it was a very important plot point, Superman's powers are inexplicably gained simply because of the difference in gravity between Earth and Krypton. That's it. Nothing more. Adjust the gravity to make it more like Krypton and Superman loses all his powers. Here's another one. Did you know that after 20 years of stories, Superman still did not have "heat vision" as a separate power from his x-ray vision? Yep. Consistently he monologues for the reader that the "heat of my x-ray vision" or "the heat generated by my x-ray vision." The problem that obviously comes up with that is how come he doesn't burn up the damsel in distress when he uses that same x-ray vision to check and see if her arm or leg is broken, or other such situations.
Sounds like it would be a lot of fun to read.

The family and I will be here come the end of the month: User Experience 2005 Conference. We'll they'll be touring Boston while I go to the conference.

October 12, 2005

From a review of Lock 'n Load: Band of Heroes: "The choice of color for the Fallschirmjaeger units is a bit odd, since sky blue is often reserved for the French. Perhaps Mr. Walker is either treating the French as irrelevant (common these days, in so many ways) or saving a more suitable color, such as pink"


The Campaigns of King David

It MUST be mine!

I'd link directly to the post, but I just noticed the Reformation 21 Blog lacks permalinks for individual articles on the page. (Oh wait, I can locate the post by incrementing the vobId of a prior article with a "more" link.)

Anyway, that article gives a heads up for a '4 views' book coming out from IVP on the atonement, which contrasts the Christus Victor, Therapeutic, Penal Substitutionary, and "all views are equally true" view. I'd think you'd have a hard time arguing with the all views equally true view, especially since Thomas Schreiner isn't denying the other views are true, just that the penal substitution is the "heart and soul" and is the "anchor and foundation" of all the other views.

I am reminded that Vern Poythress has written
No category or system of categories give us ultimate reality.
Any motif of the Bible can be used as the single organizing motif.
. Can that square with Schreiner's attempt to make Penal Substitution the only motif that is actually central? I guess you can deny that penal substitution constitutes a motif. I wonder if Poythress would agree.

October 11, 2005

Mark Horne has directed my attention to his essay Romans & the Role of Israel in the Atonement. He begins asking what it is about the timing of Jesus arrival and work that makes it 'in the fullness of time"

I was thinking that perhaps that phrase calls to mind the promise made to Abraham, where he is told that his descendents will be exiles prior to inheriting the land, because "the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full." Likewise, Jesus cannot come and redeem his people because the iniquity of the Israelites is not yet full. They have to fail after a partial restoration to the land, and fail miserably by their misuse of the gift of torah.

One curious feature of the iniquity of the Amorites that I considered in an old seminary paper, is the matter of Leviticus 18 and 20. Those texts specify the iniquities of the Amorites that are now being judged. They are being judged for their bestilaity, for their offering their children to Moloch, and the like. They are also being judged for taking their wives from within the boundaries of consanguinity. They are marrying their aunts and their sisters.

Yet, Abraham himself married his sister, as, we assume, did the children of Noah and the children of Adam.

So is there an injustice here? Are the Amorites being judged for sins that are not sins in Abraham and Seth and Japheth's? First, we can say that the Israelites are just as responsible to refuse sister marriage as the Amorites of the conquest. So the Amorites face an equal torah: the same for the sons of Israel as for the strangers in their midst.

But what we do have is a situation where the coming of a new covenant "in the fullness of time" also brings an intensififcation and new restrictiveness to the correct application of the torah. Don't we see something analogous in what Jesus brings when he comes in the fullness of time and shows up Israel's present sins in a manner that contrasts the way it "was said of old" with what Jesus is saying to them now.

October 10, 2005

Cool article about Videogame Aesthetics. Scroll down and check out "Okami"
Work under development, in which you play the Japanese Sun God Amaterasu incarnated as a wolf. The entire 3D game is rendered in the style of Japanese paintings and woodblock prints, making the aesthetic both stunning and thematically relevant
Mono, an Asteroids clone where you 'paint' space with the balls of color that burst when you shoot them also looks interesting.

October 07, 2005

Jonah Goldberg on William Bennett on National Review Online
Notice how so many righteously offended liberals keep referring to fetuses as people. In the New York Times, Bob Herbert proclaims that Bennett considers 'exterminating blacks would be a most effective crime-fighting tool.' Schultz and McAuliffe say Bennett wants to exterminate 'babies.'

Funny, I thought the bedrock faith of pro-abortion liberals is that fetuses aren't babies. Isn't it interesting how this lynchpin of liberal morality evaporates the moment an opportunity to call Bennett a racist presents itself?
Anyway, I think its pretty clear that the reason people are offended and willfully misconstruiong Bennett's remarks is that however justifiable, his crime is using black people in a negative context in the service of any kind of public discussion.

For those of us who don't own a death-mask of Oliver Cromwell, soon we'll be able to have the next best thing, GMT Games: Unhappy King Charles!, a strategy game of the English Civil War.

October 06, 2005

Ligon Duncan said at PCRT 2001: "Jesus Christ lived every moment of his conscious experience with an exact and exhaustive foreknowledge of what was coming."

How does that work, then?

Ligon qualifies Jesus' experience as his 'conscious' experience. I suppose then, that it wouldn't include every last moment of his time in the womb.

And when He slept, there were no 'moments' of fully conscious experience to have that foreknowledge either, I suppose.

As He grew and developed from infancy, His consciousness grew as well.

This sounds like a kind of schema where the degree to which Jesus posseses 'exact and exhaustive foreknowledge' would be dependent on the degree to which He lives consciously.

Since even mature adults are not conscious of everything that goes on around them all the time 100%, Jesus' exact and exhaustive foreknowledge would be limited to being occasionally imprecise and incomplete as his consciousness allows.

That's what Duncan seems to be saying, anyway.

Reformation 21 On Impassibility
For the modern church is impatient with learning what God is not like, she wants to know what God is like, and in particular she desperately seeks reassurance that God is like us—that he is accessible to our imagination, and especially in need of reassurance that he is our emotional peer. This is one reason for the current stress on biblical narrative, on the anthropomorphic and anthropopathic language of Scripture, and on Christolog "from below," as is evidenced (in different ways) by the prevalent social trinitarianism, and by the appeal of "open theism."
I'm glad that God wrote a bible that makes God accessible to our minds and that we can understand by means of anthropomoprhism. Its like He knew what I needed because I was a creature or something.

October 05, 2005

This RCUS report Wright on Justification, makes a very bad claim. In describing Wright's methodology as looking at the worldview of 2nd temple Judaism to illuminate Paul, they cite Wright
Wright gives us a brief outline of the Jewish worldview and story. First, "the symbolic world of Judaism focused on temple, Torah, land, and racial identity." Second, "the assumed praxis brought these symbols to life in festivals and fasts, cult and sacrifice, domestic taboos and customs." Third,
"the narrative framework which sustained symbol and praxis, and which can be seen in virtually all the writings we possess from the Second Temple period, had to do with the history of Israel; more specifically, with its state of continuing 'exile' (though it had returned from Babylon, it remained under Gentile lordship, and the great promises of Isaiah and others remained unfulfilled) and the way(s) in which its god would intervene to deliver it as had happened in one of its foundation stories, that of the exodus.
Fourth, "its fundamental answers to the worldview questions might have been: We are Israel, the true people of the creator god; we are in our land (and/or dispersed away from our land); our god has not yet fully restored us as one day he will; we therefore look for restoration, which will include the justice of our god being exercised over the pagan nations." This, in brief, is the cognitive and mental construct---the lens--which is needed in order to understand the worldview into which and by which the New Testament writings were produced.

To understand the teachings of Paul, we need to see through this "lens" by means of comparison and contrast with the above "dominate" worldview of the collective Jewish consciousness. The technical process Wright proposes for us---—and this is the heart and soul of his hermeneutical method---—is to find the similarity and dissimilarity the "outer" writing of Paul has with the 2nd Temple narrative and in what way a "new story"” is generated from these particular elements. "The task I see before us now is to show how the actual argument . . . , the 'poetic sequence' . . . , relates to this underlying 'narrative sequence,' that is, the theological story of the creator's dealings with Israel and the world, now retold so as to focus on Christ and the Spirit."
This seems to me all well and good, in so far as it describes Wright's approach. I'm not sure why they describe Wright proposing a "technical process". It rather seems just like common sense in understanding how someone differs from someone else. But then we see where this is going
Wright's approach to Scripture, along with that of the NPP as a whole, undermines the perspicuity and final authority of Scripture (Sola Scriptura). This is so because, as Guy Waters states, "[the] NPP operates with the mistaken principle that interpretation of Paul is to be controlled by a scholarly reconstruction of Judaism." We cannot understand Paul apart from a specialized competence, in this case a specialized knowledge of Second Temple Judaism. Bible students without such specialized training "are therefore placed at the mercy of an academic elite. Further, it is of the nature of academic discourse to be indefinite, to resist closure, and to prize innovation over tradition." This means, that if Scripture's interpretation depends upon such specialization and scholarship, then such scholars have become a kind of necessary priesthood.
Huh? What part of Wright's reconstruction of Judaism is dependent on any kind of specialized competence? Who today doesn't know:
  • Jews thought temple, torah, and land defined them
  • Jews put a lot of emphasis on ceremonial practices for their self identity
  • Jews didn't think Isaiah had all been fulfilled
It also should be obvious to anyone that the common table is a central unifying symbol of Christianity, and that Paul makes no claim of Peter violating a particular council decision, or of a particular doctrinal deviation, but a deviation in practice. The RCUS report seems to allege that Peter was opposed by Paul for the very reason that he was repudiating justification by faith by his personal withdraw from the common table. That seems untenable, to hold that Peter would have been confused as to such a matter, rather than making a mistake in the practical matter of believing that he could get along with the 'false brothers' by denying fellowship with those of common faith for a time.

What Wright is trying to do in the article [pdf link] is simply explain why the seemingly minor infraction of withdrawal from table fellowship was such a 'big deal' to Paul. To do so it hardly violates the perspicuity of scripture to bring to bear facts about Judaism that require no special competence and can mostly be discerned from reading the bible itself

It should also be noted that there is no actual critique of Wright's methodology or conclusions, except to indirectly assert that it is so "technical" that it must somehow interfere with the perspicuity of scripture.

October 04, 2005

Once again, A Proverb a Day is being provided by me.

Today's might appear around lunch.

De script shun




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