February 19, 2006

Further thoughts of mine inspired by Carl Truman's comment on Ref21 that it isn't the church's business to tell Christians how to achieve social justice

I'm really confused when I try to think how the church can demand that social justice be achieved, but not be capable of specifying ways in which that justice is achievable in terms of the Gospel demands.

The concept of Walmart, (a large store that employs many people and tries to keep wages and prices low so that their stores can expand and bring benefits of cheap products to communities, having various displacing effects) is either just or unjust. If unjust, Christians would be obligated to speak out against it, declaring the business practice to be a participation in sin. (This could be made even more of a live issue by imagining the board of the company were all members of PCA churches) If just, then Christians who believed it were UNjust would be accusing the company of sins of which it was not guilty and engaging in slander, and the church should tell them to stop. But the church would have to determine that particular business practices were unjust to do so, and once having done so, it could state that publicly

The decision of Bush to go to war in Iraq and stay there now is either just or unjust. If unjust, Christians are obligated to speak out against it, declaring the war to be an immoral war. If just, Christians who accuse Bush of being immoral are engaged in slander and the church should tell them to stop.

If Truman (or anyone, I'm not picking on him) wants to engage in political action that involves claims of one course of action or another being just or unjust, how can the Church avoid entanglement in the matter? If an evangelical starts saying that it's unjust for Americans to drive big SUVs, he's either correct, in which case the church should join him. Or he's incorrect, in which case how can the church let that person accuse the consciences of fellow Christians in a matter of adiaphora. I could see Christians involving themselves in politics for aesthetic or other reasons, but once you bring discussion of justice up, how can the church stay silent, or say that individuals are allowed to make up their own minds?

Is there any other way to frame this issue that makes more sense? Sure, you can have the church say that they're agnostic on the matter of Walmart or the Iraq war, but then what business is it of individual Christians to speak of justice and injustice in business or war where the Church as a whole can't come to any conclusion?

I raise all this mostly to say like I feel we're on the horns of a dilemma that is unresolvable. It seems like the world under the curse is so involved in sin, that a man can't live in any kind of political order without participating in structural evil. We can vote for free markets thinking them just, and then we're guilty of breaking the back of the poor. Or we can vote for a command economy, in which case we're guilty of seeking the power of the state to compel virtue, and allowing power to corrupt our institutions. It seems in the end to be impossible to 'obey the gospel' and 2 Thess 1:8 is going to get us all in the end.

February 17, 2006

I hope Rick Phillips gets together with fellow ACE member Ligon Duncan. Ligon's description on what Job can legitimately plead before God is very 'telling'
And you are used to that language from the book of Job. You know, over and over, Job protests, "I am a man of integrity, Lord. I have never lost my integrity in this whole process." Now is Job claiming to be sinless? No. But what he is saying is, "I have never lost trust in this whole process." Now, of course towards the end of the book, Job loses it. And he has to eat his crow by the time you get to the final encounter with the Lord at the end of the book. But through much of Job's suffering, he could say, with legitimacy, "I have kept my integrity." You remember his wife early on encourages him to abandon his integrity, curse God and die. But Job hangs on to that. In other words, what he is saying is, "I have remained wholeheartedly committed to You, O Lord; in faith I have believed You, I have trusted You even though everything in my world was falling around my ears. I have continued to trust in You." And so God opens the reiteration of the covenant here with the words, "Walk before Me and be whole, be blameless, have integrity."

And that is the language of perfection there. Don't mix that up. Don't think that God is calling on Abram to be sinless. That is not what is going on. But even that having been said, isn't it interesting that in this gracious covenant, the opening parlay of a chapter which is designed to assure Abraham of God's grace, there is a command to Abraham: "Walk before Me and be blameless. Walk before Me and have integrity."

Are you following what I am saying here? We immediately see a stress on Abram's responsibility in the covenant. So is it a gracious covenant? Yes. Is it an unconditional covenant? Well, that depends on what you mean by that
Rick seems to think that What Job says before God "legitimately" is the kind of evil thing that the FV guys want to try to say before God, because of their focus on faithfulness within the unilateral covenant that God has made with us.

Seems like a conflict to me. I hope Duncan and Phillips work it out. Also that part where Duncan sounds just like Ralph Smith
Covenant theology flows from the trinitarian life and work of God. God's covenant communion with us is modeled on and a reflection of the intra-trinitarian relationships. The shared life, the fellowship of the persons of the Holy Trinity, what theologians call perichoresis or circumincessio, is the archetype of the relationship the gracious covenant God shares with His elect and redeemed people. God's commitments in the eternal covenant of redemptive find space-time realization in the covenant of grace.

February 16, 2006

Schlissel certainly is notorious for putting things in provocative and intemperate terms, but there are better ways to hears his alleged denial that faith is a condition for God's gracious covenant to be made with a child.

One can note instead that there is (non-salvific?) grace to a child in the very fact that his parents are given promises that the covenant is for his child. That promise does not wait for a condition of the child's faith to be promised, though the promise includes a contingency of faith for there to be any saving blessings asociated with the (confessional) status of that child as a child of God.

February 15, 2006

If Rick Phillips wants to attack Peter Leithart for claiming that baptism makes the baby a child of God by inducting him into the church, then it would behoove him to deal with the Westminster Confession of Faith's claim that baptism is for the solemn admission of the child to the visible church, which is the 'house and family of God'.

Is the child in the house and family of God, not therefore a child of God? Is that not a valid inference to draw from the WCF? Has Phillips taken an exception to that part of the confession?

I'm also very suprised to hear Rick claim that if the condition of fulfiling a covenant (defined also as a form of 'doing') is construed as being something that the person recieves as a gift from God, then there is no conflict with a 'without works' principle. Because one would think, then, by the same logic, that as long as works done by the Christian were also construed as a gift impossible to produce without the Spirit's work (which they are), they could also stand equally as covenant conditions.

Also, all that stuff about the split pieces of animals being a self-maledictory oath is mistaken. See my article

February 14, 2006

A Dark Crystal sequel is coming.


Interesting. Carl Truman is a member of Greenpeace. And he says he "thinks all Christians should care for the environment. But, like economic stability and social justice, how this is to be achieved is a matter of personal judgment, and not something the church should dictate."

So the church dictates that there shall be social justice and care for the environement, but has nothing to say to the personal judgement of someone as to whether something is socialy just or caring for the environement?

Did the WLC go too far?
What are the duties required in the eighth commandment?

Answer: The duties required in the eighth commandment are, truth, faithfulness, and justice in contracts and commerce between man and man; rendering to everyone his due; restitution of goods unlawfully detained from the right owners thereof; giving and lending freely, according to our abilities, and the necessities of others; moderation of our judgments, wills, and affections concerning worldly goods; a provident care and study to get, keep, use, and dispose these things which are necessary and convenient for the sustentation of our nature, and suitable to our condition; a lawful calling, and diligence in it; frugality; avoiding unnecessary lawsuits and suretyship, or other like engagements; and an endeavor, by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own.

Question 142: What are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, theft, robbery, man_stealing, and receiving anything that is stolen; fraudulent dealing, false weights and measures, removing land marks, injustice and unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man, or in matters of trust; oppression, extortion, usury, bribery, vexatious lawsuits, unjust enclosures and depopulations; engrossing commodities to enhance the price; unlawful callings, and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbor: What belongs to him, or of enriching ourselves; covetousness; inordinate prizing and affecting worldly goods; distrustful and distracting cares and studies in getting, keeping, and using them; envying at the prosperity of others; as likewise idleness, prodigality, wasteful gaming; and all other ways whereby we do unduly prejudice our own outward estate, and defrauding ourselves of the due use and comfort of that estate which God has given us.

Frank Miller takes comics back to war with Holy Terror, Batman!.

Cool. At least it won't be set in "Qmraq".

February 10, 2006

Frederica Mathewes-Green reviews Curious George on National Review Online. It seems the new movie engages in some museum criticism
Ted (yes, the Man with the Yellow Hat now has a name, and he's well voiced by Will Ferrell) getting tangled in a workplace dilemma, and it's likewise less than fresh. He works in a museum, see, but the diorama-and-lecture style of presentation no longer attracts crowds. Mr. Bloomsberry (Dick van Dyke) sadly plans to close the museum. Instead, Ted rekindles Mr. Bloomsberry's ancient enthusiasm for exploration, and is assigned to go to Africa and bring home the fabled Shrine of Zagawa, in hopes of reviving the museum's fortunes.


In the books, George learns a lesson. In the movie, it's the Man with the Yellow Hat who learns the lesson: he learns that it is a good thing to be curious. The reason the museum was failing was due to its old, pedantic style. Now, everything is participatory. The bones of the museum's dinosaur skeleton are scattered in a sandbox for children to dig up. As Ted announces, "Anyone can learn facts and figures. The real way to learn anything is to go out and live it, and let experience lead you."

Hey, maybe you liked DEVO back in the 80s. Well now, Walt Disney provides you with Devo 2.0, done by some tweener kids.

Greg Costikyan points out though, that the original lyrics to "Beautiful World" ('its a beautiful world....for you') did not end with "and for me too". No, not at all.

February 08, 2006

Babies' Cells Linger, May Protect Mothers

The application of this news to the doctrine of Mary in Christinity is left as an exercize to the reader.

A Templeton prize to the best essay! :wink:

I think its time Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) update his website.

February 06, 2006

Student Doctor Network Forums discuss "Things I Learn From My [ER] Patients". [updated link] A recurring theme is to beware of "Some Dude" whenever you are Standing on the Corner Minding Your Own Business. Who knows what they might do.

Some of these are definitly not for the squeamish.

February 05, 2006

Interesting reflections from Jeff Meyers on holding evening church services on a day such as this.

February 03, 2006

So for all the questions about final 'justification' and such, what can we say about the statement by Jesus that the apostles will sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

For what? Peter and Mark are going to make some kind of determinative judgement about the status of Jews? First century jews or all jews? Gentiles that converted to Judaism sometime later? The church as Israel?

Should this be a part of Jewish evangelism? ("what are you going to say to St. John on the last day?")

Are the apostles the only ones who get to do that? We all seem to get to judge angels, according to Paul in 1 Corinthians.

What's up with that?

February 02, 2006

Reason to avoid public school number 87: The Cuddle Puddle of Stuyvesant High School

Sad, really.

February 01, 2006

I'ma big fan of America's test Kitchen show on PBS. They had an episode where they did a pan seared pork tenderloin (searing it first, then roasting), and then made a port wine and cherry sauce for it.

Their site appears to have been down for the past couple of days though, so I can't find the recipie. Anyone have any ideas?

De script shun




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