November 30, 2005

Josh Strodbeck writes at Here We Stand
The whole 'But if we don't have verbal and plenary inspiration and historiographical inerrancy, how do we know Jesus rose from the dead?' argument absolutely crumbles in the face of this fact...and dies a second death when we learn that the fundamentalist theory of the Bible isn't terribly old...and then gets put six feet under when we realized that no one believed Paul's preaching because they had the Gospel of Matthew to compare it to, or because he convinced them prior that God was practically dictating his sermons.
Two problems here. Many people did believe Paul's preaching because they did have the Torah and Prophets to compare it to.

2. The word came in the old covenant torah pretty much by dictation or directly from God lending pretty much the fundamentalist flavor of "this is a certain epistemological (social/legal/moral) foundation because it came right from God's own voice as the primary author"

I suppose the emphasis on not knowing of God apart from his revelation in the incarnate Jesus Christ feeds into this problem, as it devalues the revelation of the non-incarnated God who created the world and gave the law by his own finger at Sinai.

November 29, 2005

Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals on the spirit of Barnhouse
Then in 1952 a major change occurred in Donald Barnhouse's life. His 'New Year's Resolution,' published in Eternity in January 1953, stated it first: "I loved many people, and loved many of them dearly, but I had never thought of them loving me -- my family, yes, but others'. I remembered when I was a small boy and came to my first day in school. They kept me in first grade for about two hours, and then I was marched into the second grade. That year the first-graders hated me because I was the smart kid that had gone ahead, and the second-graders hated me because I was the first-grader that had come in to show them up. At least I thought they hated me -- and to think such a thing conditions one as much as though it were a fact. So I developed the practice of doing my work in an attitude of not caring what anybody in the world might think. And I rather carried that attitude through my life."

On his attitude toward what other people believed, he wrote: "Early in my ministry I conceived the idea that I must strike out against all error wherever I saw it. I hit - Christian Science, Unitarianism, or Romanism. If [error] was in some fundamental leader with whom I was in 95% agreement, I swung hard at the 5%."

On his desire for the future: "I want my circle of Christian fellowship on the basis of the fact that a man is going to be in heaven with me. If he is, why not get a little closer here and now. Give him the benefit of the doubt on the things we do not agree upon as soon as we find that we agree upon man's complete ruin in sin and God's perfect remedy in Christ - I believe that the love of Jesus Christ must mellow a man, and that the Holy Spirit who dwells in me is the same Holy Spirit"

Paul J Dean's Comments on Wright do seem a bit thin
Thirdly, in Duncan's own words, the New Perspective 'has gotten the Reformers wrong. They have done a disservice to Luther's and Calvin's exegesis. This has been pointed out not only by Carl Trueman, but by Lee Gatiss, Kim Riddlebarger and many others who have done good historical work on this issue.' Duncan enjoyably offers this shot: 'I love the quotation from Stephen Westerholm (no flaming evangelical, mind you), who in responding to Dunn and Wright and Stendahl and others, says this: 'Students who want to know how a Rabbinic Jew perceived humanity's place in God's world will read Paul with caution and Luther not at all. On the other hand, students who want to understand Paul, but feel that they have nothing to learn from Martin Luther, should consider a career in metallurgy. Exegesis is learned from the masters.'
So in telling us why Wright is wrong, we don't get an argument, but we get a citation of an authority (Duncan), citing an authority (Trueman, Riddlebarger, Westerholm) to the effect that an authority (Luther and Calvin) got it right.

And why is it important to note that Duncan "enjoys" his "shot"? Though I guess I've never much cared for the 'wailing and gnashing' variety of theological trial ("My heart is greived brother...") I think I prefer it to the thrill of the hunt.

November 28, 2005

I'm still thinking about this article: Experts: Introverted youth have deep roots for behavior

On Reformation 21, Carl Trueman reviews Mark Noll's Is The Reformation Over?. Well worth reading. Trueman 'gets it':
The key to understanding evangelicalism in relation to Catholicism seems to me to lie in part in understanding the crucial difference between the Catholic Church as an institution with clearly defined doctrinal commitments, and evangelicalism as a broad, trans-institutional movement with a vested interest in framing its doctrinal commitments at the level of complexity which the coalition can sustain. The result is that evangelicalism as a movement will always tend towards an ideal of mere Christianity. And that is fine, providing it is understood that this will in turn always tend to attenuate evangelicalism’s connection to the past and thus limit its capacity to draw coherently upon that past. In this context, one might add that the current predilection in some evangelical quarters for using the language of postmodernism for revisioning or reconceptualising theology seems less a radical revolution in evangelical thinking and more the appropriation of the latest academic idiom for playing the well-established traditional evangelical game of non-dogmatic, lowest-common denominator, mere Christianity.
But does this mean the reformed fundies who held Campus Crusade and Billy Graham and InterVarsity as suspect all along were right all along?

November 26, 2005

Things on my radar screen:

  • Carcassone: played this and this looks like a great game.
  • Hammer of the Scotts: recomended as a good historical 'block game' with hidden forces.
  • Bonaparte at Marengo: a similar style of game, with a 'look' that recalls old military maps.

  • I haven't got Wolfe's recent collection: Innocents aboard. Or Starwater Strains
  • Robert Borski's book on Wolfe and the New Sun books still is intriguing.
  • I still need to finish the Wizard Knight (book 2)

  • What's the most I'd have to spend on a new 3d card to let me play Half-life 2 at a good framerate and high detail (including water refraction)
  • Isn't it odd to have no Lord of the Rings film out this winter? But Kong is coming (not the same)

Cool Stuff in January
  • War of the Ring Expansion: Battles of the Third age
  • Pelikan on Acts in the Brazos commentary series
  • Alan Moore's DC universe story colletion

November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2005

Let's just correct a misapprehension of what Truly Reformed means. I was around in TR circles when the phrase came into common prominence. I think one of the first uses I saw of it was a reformed dating service.

It was a self-identification to claim a more principled reformed position than the vast majority of those conservative presbyterian and reformed churches extant at the time.

It was used by more conservative Reformed Christians who argued for Strict Subscriptionism. They argued for strict subscriptionism, because strict subscriptionism meant that the vast majority of the presbyterian world which
1. acknowledged Christmas and Easter
2. sang hymns
3. used instruments for music
4. used grape juice in communion
5. was capable of using pictures of Christ or crosses in worship materials or Sunday school materials
6. Possibly had such a low form of Calvinism that they did not reject the 'free offer of the gospel' or at least were not concerned to avoid telling a sinner that "God loves you" or "Christ died for you" since there was no way of knowing that for sure.
7. did not keep a strict sabbath.
were not truly Reformed like they were, but were just giving lip service to the actual text of the confession which gave no express warrant for those practices.

Now if Rick Phillips wants to wear such a term as a badge of honor, he's welcome to it. Carl Trueman's complaint against hymns and instrumental music at least puts him somewhere in the zone of TRism, and he's a welcome voice in its favor.

But since Tenth Presbyterian Church has no problem with any of the items on the list (maybe some qualms about 5 and 6) and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals presumably is full of baptists and Lutherans, putting the badge of TRism into the mix is surprising to say the least. It's intention was originally to say "We're better than the rest of you slobs".

November 16, 2005

My doctor recently prescribed me this: Panexa (Acidachrome Promanganate)

Something new in bubble tech: Ascadia Zubbles: colored soap bubbles. And no, they don't stain.

Reformation 21 » Warfield: Man as Medium: Warfield writes, "There is no just ground for asserting that God is incapable of employing the intelligent beings He has Himself created and formed to His will, to proclaim His messages purely as He gives them to them; or of making truly the possession of rational minds conceptions which they have themselves had no part in creating"

Is that the equivalent of saying that God didn't actually need to use the body of Mary to form the body of Christ: he could have actually forned his human body in her womb while letting Mary have no part in it's creation. And that what is important to affirm about the divinity of Christ is is no way altered or touched by an alternate concept that Mary actually had no part in forming his humanity.

Or if we want to affirm that the orthodox doctrine of the incarnation is that Jesus was of her flesh, though yet mary had "no part in creating" his body, then indeed the Incarnation is an accurate description of what warfield is getting at.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
Article VII.

We affirm that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.
We deny that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.

Article VIII.

We affirm that God in His work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.
We deny that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.
So is it just me, or does Rick Phillips' disucssion of Warfield indicate that Warfield went way beyond these affirmations and denials. By Rick's report, Warfield claims that one category of biblical revelation, prophetic revelation, would bypass the 'distinct personality' of the writer because being 'carried along' by the Spirit means the prophet is passive in merely transmitting the divine message and including none of his own ideas in it.

Warfield seems to be saying alot more about the mode of divine inspiration that 'its a mystery'. He seems to be saying that if you hooked a prophet up to an MRI you would receive a very different brain image, one that does not reflect the conception of thoughts from within ones own mind, but rather one that reflects the reception of a message from outside of oneself. (assuming that those are distinguishable in an MRI; perhaps some completely other brain state would be recorded). Why make this exceptional assumption about prophecy? If we can affirm that the ideas God sought to providentially transmit and Paul's ideas were indeed one and the same as Paul wrote his epistles, why is the same thing not the case with Michah or Hosea?

Its not clear to me that the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy rules out such a claim.

The blog post Generous Orthodoxy ThinkTank: Setting the Stage for a Postconservative Theology is helpful, I think, for getting a grip as to what John Franke may actually be saying, as the attacks of Helm and the defensive responses of Bush and others have left me confused.

Some quotes from Franke
it seeks to overcome the explicit and/or implicit assumption of much theology that its goal is to discover the right system or model of doctrine taught in Scripture and then to use this as a grid through which to interpret and apply Scripture. In this way of looking at things, all systems and models other than the chosen one are deemed defective and in need of correction.
When you put it this way, its fairly clear to see why this is hugely controversial. This seems to be a rejection of the project of modern conservative theology since the Reformation.

Christian theology is an ongoing, second-order, contextual discipline that engages in the task of critical and constructive reflection on the beliefs and practices of the Christian church for the purpose of assisting the community of Christ's followers in their missional vocation to live as the people of God in the particular social-historical context in which they are situated
(emphasis added). I came across the description of theology as a 'second-order' discipline in Roger Olson's 1995 article on 'postconservative' evangelicals where he says
In a manner reminiscent of the early 20th-century Baptist theologian E.Y. Mullins, Grenz emphasises experience over supernaturally revealed propositional truth as the heart of Christian theology. He defines theology as reflection on the faith of the people of God --a second-order activity that provides useful models rather than the scientific deduction of intellectual truth from a mother lode of truth in scripture.
Again, its easy to see why this is controversial. I think we generally take the evangelism that leads to the conversion experience as a communication of theology: You learn law/gopel, or you learn about the covenant of grace, or you learn about the theology of the resurrection, and then, that doctrine having been established as: truly biblical, and therefore a rational foundation for all other thought, you come to embrace it if the Spirit has along side of that presentation, enlightened your mind to accept its supreme reasonability.

November 15, 2005

That seems like a good question to ask:

Could a perfectly coherent and complete systematic theology theoretically replace the Bible?

I suppose if the answer is yes, then all of the truth of the Bible is reducable to propositions.

If the answer is no, then some biblical truth is not reducible to propositions.

I wonder if Jaroslave Pelikan's Commentary on Acts would be any good?

November 11, 2005

Just what I always wanted Darth Vader on a motorcyle

That and a Trex/X-men crossover

I can understand the appropriateness of the dictation theory for the Torah, where the text explicity says "god spoke to moses". And I can understand the impulse of applying that theory to prophetic writings as well: Warfield on prophetic inspriation. But why is a report of a prophet's dream and vision in which God is active more indicative of the prophets passivity than the writing of the epistles where the writer clearly is not passive?

If Warfield is correct that the form of prophetic writing mandates that the prophet are passive in respect to the revelation given them, why is it the case that the gospel and epistle writers are active in the production of their messages. Why is the most clear revelation of divine theology invovled with active human participants?

How can one speak of a 'supernaturally given dream or vision' as therefore 'given [to] them precisely as they are given out by them'? Was not the same true of the epistles? Then why is the form of vision indicative of unmediated divine precision in the message.

And since the rubber particulalrly meets the road in the books that have the most historical cast (Genesis, 1 Samuel, Jonah, etc), what does a defense of precision in prophetic writing really have to say to an Enns type anaylsys of Genesis?

Marion Clark passes along 20 financial facts churches should know
1. Average credit card debt per U.S. household is $8,400. Source: Cardweb.com
Not me (for the next 5 minutes at least, since our clothes dryer went kaput yesterday). Though last year I was disturbed to note my credit card balance was about equal to my tithing. If that many Americans have that much debt, sometime I wonder if I'd be happier if I did too. I also wondered if interest could be deducted from tithable income like it is with home loans and the IRS.
5. 20% of Americans have items stored in the U.S.'s 40,000 storage facilities. Source: USA Today
What does this prove? That the poor could be benefited by the 'coat I'm keeping in my closet?'. Are we 'building bigger barns?'
11. $10-13 trillion dollars in inheritances will be transferred to the Baby Boomer generation within the next 10-20 years. Yet, 70+% of the elderly today have NO will or trust ($0 for church/non-profits) Source: Chronicle of Philanthropy
I'm not sure this is much of an issue. If I have an inheritance I assume that's it all going to my kids. If they want to do otherwise with it that's up to them. I might happily give something to a church while I'm alive, but I don't see much (use? benefit? spiritual good?) in making a donation in my will.

Is the idea of 'laying up an inheritance for 'spiritual' children as well as natural involved here?
20. In the Bible there are 40 verses on "baptism," 275 verses on "prayer," 350 verses on "faith," 650 verses on "love" -- and 2,350 verses that relate specifically to finances and material possessions.
That is surely significant. I hope to do a bible study in Acts one of these days tracing the 'mammon' theme throughout it.

I also found these musings on Christians and wealth resonated.

Finding Said to Boost Proof of Goliath - Yahoo! News

Since "GLTH" and "GTH" are fairly similar sounds, I'd not be surpised if it was a very popular name in Gath.

Preaching to the politicians - Editorial - Opinion - theage.com.au: "The churches have a right and responsibility to play a full part in Australia's public life. In turn, they recognise that in a secular and pluralistic society they will never hold the privileged position they once occupied. They must compete in the contest of ideas"

Sounds good to me. Also tautological. If they 'won' their competition, the society wouldn't be secular and pluralistic, and then they could hold their former position again. But it wouldn't be in a secular and pluralistic society, but in a different one.

Is there a lurking assumption that 'secular and pluralistic' is the eschaton of any advanced society?

Probably the reference to competition is to making points concerning particular issues though.

November 03, 2005

I thought that games I would buy if money was no object list was fairly modest. Mostly out of print stuff that's risen in price.

But I hadn't heard of www.zeitstein.de: Die Abtei der wandernden Buecher. This handcrafted game based on the Name of the Rose takes the cake.

Feel free to buy me one for Christmas.

Is "Oh, to See the Dawn" -- A New Hymn Worth Singing . . . Over and Over Again? Al Mohler thinks so.

Oh, to see my name, Written in the wounds, For through Your suffering I am free. Death is crushed to death, Life is mine to live, Won through Your selfless love. This, the power of the cross: Son of God - slain for us. What a love! What a cost! We stand forgiven at the cross.
Christ was raised for our justification. The hymn has all the victory won without a resurrection of Jesus.

I mean, nobody felt forgiven the day Jesus died.

Their other hymn does better
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

November 02, 2005

Interesting anaylysis of Ender's Game: Creating the Innocent Killer by John Kessel.

Not sure I totally agree, but interesting to think about Card's mormon version of morality, and Ender's recall of Christ saying "I come not to bring peace but a sword"

Spoilers if you haven't read the book

November 01, 2005

I'm confused. Mike Horton supposedly quoted from trent to show trent was wrong, and said he was looking at the 12th and 16th canons
If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.
I guess this might sound like its anathematizing faith alone as being the grounds for justification. But earlier in the document, "confidence" was spoken of in the following terms
yet is it not to be said, that sins are forgiven, or have been forgiven, to any one who boasts of his confidence and certainty of the remission of his sins, and rests on that alone; seeing that it may exist, yea does in our day exist, amongst heretics and schismatics; and with great vehemence is this vain confidence, and one alien from all godliness, preached up in opposition to the Catholic Church
This would seem to anathematize not what orthodox protestant's actually mean when they speak of the role of faith in justification, for protestants deny that faith is something to rest in for justification, or that being sure about God's mercy is enough to gain God's mercy. But faith is an instrument, not the grounds of justification, which is Christ's work.

Trent seems like a document with alot of ambiguities, and we Horton seems to want to read it as one with less. I'm still not sure where he was quoteing. Maybe he was stringing together quotes without clarifiying that's what he was doing.

I was also intrigued that Horton defined Wesleyans right out of the protestant/evangelical mix, when Steven Westerholm did not.

Mark Noll on the White Horse Inn (at 15:32)
The vocabulary of merit had become so corrupt by the late fifteenth century and the sixteenth century that it became impossible for any protestant to shape or express any part of the Christian faith with the vocabulary of merit but in the Catholic tradition there were better and worse uses of the vocabulary of merit and the better uses [are] what i would call a legitimate missiological expression of Christian faith in the categories of the middle ages. I'm glad that protestants jettisoned the vocabulary of merit but I actually think there's a more benign strand that's always existed in Catholicism in the use of the vocabulary of merit.

De script shun




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