May 26, 2006

Wright is crticized for making the corporate aspect of sin and justification highlighted over the individual (though he is always clear that when you get the corporate right, the individual is always included).

Aside from this being an argument about emphasis, I would have thought that reformed theology's emphasis on the imputed sin of Adam and the representative nature of the fall, where the collective fall in Adam is the central motif of any theology of sin, would either suffer the same accusation or be a bulwark against criticizing wright for similar reasoning. Would Seifrid be any happier with Piper than Wright
The problem with the human race is not most deeply that everybody does various kinds of sins—those sins are real, they are huge and they are enough to condemn us. Paul is very concerned about them. But the deepest problem is that behind all our depravity and all our guilt and all our sinning, there is a deep mysterious connection with Adam whose sin became our sin and whose judgment became our judgment.

May 25, 2006

Did the regulative principle apply to the triumphal entry and the woman who annointed Jesus with perfume?

Were those acts of worship? Or were they directed at the human nature of Jesus?

Intriguing in both cases because people spoke against those honoring Christ in such manner.

If you're denying the cup to the laiety, what difference does it make if the communion president is a woman?

I was reading some criticism of Wright from the recent Concodia Seminary Symposium

I'm still trying to figure out Seifrid's essay, and I wonder how his criticism of Wright for looking for a single narrative in scripture would also undermine Reformed theology's 'single narrative' of confessional covenant theology.

I'm also wondering more about Scaer's (non universalized) 'objective justification'. One question is whether Lutherans distinguish between some intermediate justification that applies within the church. Objective justification on the cross, covenantal 'subjective' justification in the church, and secret subjective justification in the elect believer. No, Lutherans don't because they allow covenants justification to be the fullness of secret justification and be defectable.

It strikes me that sometimes we cover over the offense of limited atonement by recourse to the mysterious purposes of God. We won't say to a unbeliever "God loves you and sent his Son to die for you", because perhaps Christ didn't die for him. But we present the gospel to him knowing we don't know that he isn't one for whom Christ died. And we might say to him that while we can't know if he is one of the elect, if he were to become a Christian it would demonstrate that in fact, he was, and that the atonement was for him.

When thinking of atonement on the individual level, that works out as well as can be hoped. But what about when the issue is corporate sin or corporate atonement? Jesus died for the sins of Israel, as well as Israelites. Seifrid complains that Wright makes Israel the only one for whom Christ dies: the corporate opposed to the individual; but we should say that the sins of the whole people are rolled together and put on the single substitute. Indeed, the Day of Atonement was nothing other.

Reflecting on Scott McKnight's post citing John Kelly
There is a glaring contradiction between a theological tradition [of anti-Semitism] which sets the cross against Israel and uses it to justify setting the Christian community against Israel when the event at the foundation of the tradition was an event for Israel and one which had as its purpose the uniting in reconciliation and fellowship of Jew and Gentile, the nation and the dispersed children of God
it strikes me that the lack of a corporate atonement idea impacts Jewish evangelism, because while the mysterious purposes of God in saving individuals leaves 'wiggle room' on who God is intending to save right now, noticing that the vast majority of Jews have not been elect (presumed from their lack of conversion to Christ) leaves no wiggle room for who the atonement was for. The atonement was for the elect, and for the last 2000 years it has included very very few Jews. It seems there has to be not just "sufficiency" for Israel, but actual intentionality for Israel for the representative of Israel to die as their substitute.

At this point we could bring in the non-salvific benefits of the atonement and I think we must, to include somehow the corporate intentionality of the atonement for Israel and the Gentiles both.

May 23, 2006

A Proverb A Day: Innocence and Guilt, has been brought to you today by me.

And yes, it was posted Monday.

Tuesday's might be up sometime before 10pm D.V.

I always get the controversial ones....

May 22, 2006

Lutheran theologian Peter J. Scaer on Justification in Acts.. Very interesting, and includes some friendly interaction with Gaffin on the role of the Resurrection in justification.

I am reminded of Dr. Boice recounting his working with the confessional Lutherans to come up with the Cambridge Declaration, and his sense of surprise at how 'different' they construe reformation theology.

Scaer of course, speaks of the "objective justification" of all humanity in the rising of Christ. I wonder if there is any Reformed theological language that allows the appropriation of the insight that God is in some sense showing grace and mercy to all humanity in demonstrating Christ's son ship through resurrection, and in not having destroyed everyone.

I also wonder how to fit the general resurrection into our doctrine of resurrection as justification. That all the dead are raised I suppose needs like every other gift of God, to be tied to the work of Christ.

Mike Horton has a new book on covenant theology called God of Promise. One Amazon reviewer writes
the stipulations, blessings, and curses are based strictly on works. If you do this you will receive the blessings. If you do not do this you will receive the curses! On the other hand the Covenant of Grace is not fulfilled by your doing, but instead the superior's doing (e.g. God ). There maybe 'conditions' in this covenant, but they are all fulfilled by the superior. I will forgive your sins! I will be your God! I will give you a new heart!
Sounds basically correct, although citing the promise of God to give a 'new heart' triggers in me the recollection of the setting of that promise, the famous Ezekiel 36:26. But Ezekiel 36:26 doesn't stop there, it goes on to say that "You shall keep my ordinances and do them".

It's important to note that 36:27 is in the indicative, not the imperative, I suppose. Would Horton be happy saying that God causing us to keep the ordinances of God is God performing the conditions of a covenant?

Mom asked about the commonplace call to be obedient to God "not out of duty" but out of "gratitude and love". The problem to me seems to be opposing the one to the other. We're sinners, so duties seem onerous. But in the law a slave can decide to continue his servile duties because he 'loves his master' and has had his ear bored.

Matthew Henry comments on Ezekiel 36:28
The promise of God's grace to fit us for our duty, should quicken our constant care and endeavour to do our duty. These are promises to be pleaded by, and will be fulfilled to, all true believers in every age.

May 19, 2006

Satan tempts Jesus with three tempations in Matthew 4:

1. Save youself by making food
2. Force God to save you by jumping
3. Get the kingdom by obeying me

In Matthew 27, on the cross, the crowds and the priests and teachers of the law make three jeering demands

1. Save yourself by coming down
2. Prove your kingship by coming down
3. Prove you're God's son by making God rescue you

(Yeah, yeah: Jim Jordan already said it. But I was noticing it works.)

I wonder when anyone will notice that for Kline, the active obedience of Christ, which overcomes the Adamic failure, is not so much the fulfiling of the details of the moral law, but in resisting Satan. He does it in the wilderness and on the cross. Its why I have trouble seeing the passive and active obediences as accomplishing ends that are any different. The life is in the blood, and Christ's blood does it all, propitiates and merits.

One blogger critiques a White House email response to a Heritage Foundation report on immigration. The issues are put aside, but instead the issue of how well the White House is using electronic communication (not very: it cites reports without providing links) and, essentially, whether they are arguing charitably with a friendly critic
On some issues, the White House's 'Setting the Record Straight' emails should rightfully declare genuinely incorrect statements of fact as exactly that. But on a subject like this—prediciting the future impact of a Senate bill that has yet to even be passed—it seems to me that nobody can possibly know with certainty where 'straight' is, or whether the record is indeed properly aligned to it or not. In these cases, a tone of engagement; of constructive disagreement, and of conversation with Heritage—and the bloggers to which this email was sent—would seem to be a far more appropriate, and productive approach.
I thought that was a well made point about internet discussions in general.

I'm trying to work up a 'blog carnival' of sorts on 'internet discourse' (for want of a better term). If you post somthing substantive along those lines (possibly related to Presbyterians and Presbyterans together, or not) and want in on the carnival, drop me a line at pdweb(AT)verizon(DOT)net

A List Apart provides a useful article on em and en dashes: The Trouble With EM ’n EN (and Other Shady Characters). Along the way, the answer to a persistent mystery is also resolved:
I’ve lost count of all the books, articles, and websites that claim an em dash is “—”—but they’re all wrong. The entire range from  through Ÿ are invalid characters, and consequently should not be used.
I kept wondering why I was finding two differing possible codes for these charcaters.

May 18, 2006

She sent me the link ages ago, but I finally got around to look at it. Mom has a blog

May 17, 2006

More from Marion Clark, this time on email
By the way, let me take time here to denote the danger of email. This tool is like nuclear energy; it can be a helpful source of communication or an explosive bomb casting damage deep and wide. Never send an admonition–certainly not an accusation–by email before you have had verbal communication. An email can be read over and over, allowing the accused to stew over the accusation received before he had been given opportunity to explain his side. That email can, furthermore, be passed on to others so that your reputation is put into question. Never write an email while angry. If you must write something to get the issue off your chest, either delete what you have written before sending it, or save it as a draft to be reconsidered before sent. If you speak in anger, at least the sound of the words diminish in time; but your words written in anger remain as fully potent as when you typed them.

Another problem with email is that you do not know when your reader will read it, nor can you anticipate the circumstances in which he receives it. He may read your email right after reading one of devastating news. He may read it after he has already resolved the issue; your email resurrects the pain that he has just put aside.

There may be times when it is preferable to communicate tough news by email. You do not trust your emotions if you were to talk directly, and it is necessary to communicate sooner than later. You want to be sure that your words are not misheard or misrepresented, and so you write them to be read and reread. You know that the recipient is likely to overreact immediately, but he is also likely to calm down after awhile and consider your words. All the more then, it is critical to consider carefully what you write.
Quite true.

Instapundit on the costs, social and economic, of childrearing.

May 15, 2006

Cathy Seipp: "But conservative opinions are now like the old one-drop rule in the Jim Crow South; one drop is all you need to need to lose your standing with respectable white people."

May 14, 2006

Son: "There sure are lot of people playing in the park today. Why aren't they going to church?"

Me: "Well, i suppose most of them don't trust in Jesus, so they don't want to bother going to Church"

Son: "Then what are they doing in America?"

Me: "Well, in America alot of people believe in Jesus, but you don't have to believe in him to live in America"

Son: "Someday I'm going to be president and make a law about that."

Me: "I'm not so sure that would work, son, since if you force somebody to believe in Jesus, it means they're not really believing from their heart."

May 13, 2006

Alexander McCall Smith: Best-selling mystery novelist Alexander McCall Smith, author of the 'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series. Lecture delivered Baylor University's annual Beall-Russell Lecture

May 09, 2006

Interesting comment on circumcision in the White Horse Inn
Now a little bit of covenant history is helpful here too because circumcision was the sign and seal of the Abrahamic covenant, this manifestation of the covenant of grace. The Jews read Abraham through the lens of moses, so they were reading circumcision through the blessing and curse principle and the idea is circumcision must be something that we must do in order that God blesses us. By the time of Paul and Jesus, circumcision was a meritorious work. You have to do it to be right before God, and gentiles weren't circumcised therefore gentiles weren't right before God.
interesting because I also came across a criticism of John Murray for seeing Galatians as an argument against a misunderstanding of the Law
In this view Paul was saying that we are not under the Law, but neither was Israel if they had understood it correctly. The Law is not of faith only for those who misunderstood. Thus in Galatians 3 Paul is not dealing with the insufficiencies of the Law, but with the misunderstandings of the Jews. So the law is the covenant of grace; these laws were simply the Old Testament standard in which to serve God by grace through faith. And so in this view there was nothing wrong with the Mosaic covenant itself, what was wrong was the Jews misunderstanding of the Law: specifically trying to use the law to earn eternal life.

But some of our forefathers saw the Mosaic Law as a different kind of covenant than the covenant of grace. Some of the first men to write on the Mosaic Law as a covenant were Caspar Olevianus and Zacharius Ursinus, who were the authors of the Heidelberg Catechism. Olevianus was one of the first theologians to see that the Bible was divided and organized by a succession of covenants. Ursinus and Olevianus labeled the Mosaic Law the "foedus legale," which means the legal covenant. Thus opposed to the covenant of grace, the Mosaic covenant was not gracious but legal. Life was promised to those who obeyed the laws of the covenant, death to those who disobeyed the Laws. Ursinus and Olevianus were correct. In a sense this was a hypothetical covenant of works. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he must do to inherit everlasting life, Jesus challenged him to do the commandments. Jesus presents the Law as a hypothetical covenant of works.

But other theologians came along and added to that. After Ursinus and Olevianus there were English Puritans like Robert Rollock, Samuel Bolton, John Owen, and Edward Fisher, Scottish theologians like Thomas Boston and the other "Marrow Men", and a Dutch theologian by the name of Herman Witsius. Witsius was one of the greatest theologians in the history of the church. He taught at the University of Leyden. Witsius agreed that the Mosaic Law was a legal covenant distinct from the covenant of grace, but that it operated not only on the eternal level hypothetically, but on the level of typology in a literal sense. He wrote that the covenant of works between God and Adam reappeared as a national covenant between God and Israel. The same principles of the garden applied to Canaan. If Israel obeyed, they received life, if they disobeyed, death.

But according to Witsius the life and death of the Mosaic covenant were life in the Promised Land, or exile from the Promised Land. Thus as the Promised Land typified Heaven, on a typological level Israel was under a covenant of works to receive God's blessings in the land.

I recall my sense of intrigue as a child when I realized that it was only in the Westminster Larger Catechism that anything like a Presbyterian doctrine of angels was articulated in any detail.

There seems to be in scholarly Christian circles, or in conservative Presbyterian circles generally, a perspective that sees small or large swaths of biblical revelation (Genesis 1 to 11 for instance) as being something other than phenomenologically true language about historical events or actual persons or the physical world.

Thus, theistic evolutionist Christians might hold various ideas about the origin of man and the relation of that to what the bible says
  1. That man was made as science intimates, and that the Adam story is a myth that truly describes the human condition, but did not occur as a historical fact.
    1. every sophisticated reader knew origin stories were 'myth', so no deception is involved.
    2. As Enns is reported as positing, God worked in the mind of the Adamic storyteller to revise creation stories extant in the ANE to reveal a fact that God wanted to be believed (that he was the creator God) by way of revealing an alternative mythic narrative
  2. That man was made as science intimates, but that the Adam story has certain cues in it that are conformable with proper allegorization to the specifics of science's origin story (being formed from 'dust of the ground' is suitably metaphoric for being made from prehuman animal life which came from inanimate matter)
The Enns-type position sound to me like the most plausible alternative to a belief that all putatively historical narratives in the bible are simply that, full stop.

I wonder how the idea of God revealing his control over natural things using a traditioned phenomenology of the symbolic order of the cosmos that are in terms of supernatural mythic events (floods, suns standing still, passages through water, etc) that didn't happen as such can be applied along the way to less obvious cases.

Take angels, for instance. The ANE was rife with assumptions about supernatural beings or messengers from the gods. So when God reveals himself to man, he reveals himself in categories of thought that match the time- and place-bound expectations

Just as the bible speaks of the 'pillars of the sky' or 'waters under the earth' because that's what everyone who spoke of the natural world thought of when they did so, so when God inspires narratives about his dealings with man, he uses the mythic mechanism of shining spiritual beings that reveal the word of God to man. In actual fact, the most parsimonious explanation is that God's divine providence over everything in some cases leads to the contents and perceptions of man's mind to correspond to the message that God wants to be believed.

Ezekiel is stuck in Babylon, looking at mighty walls painted with odd creatures with the faces of men, the bodies of lions, wings like eagles and hooves like oxen. God alters his mind to make him imagine God in control of whatever celestial beings were thought to exist in the ANE so that God can show his power and love even in the midst of exile and captivity. Ezekiel 1 wouldn't constitute a claim that there are additional personal beings that God has serving him that have faces corresponding to the four cardinal signs of the Zodiac (which are arbitrary stellar groupings in any case), but rather, are the use of an expected form for God to communicate that he is in control and that he has a plan that he is working out.

The poetry of the psalms says that God makes his angels "winds" and his minsters a "flame of fire". God controls wind and fire, so God can use wind and fire for his purposes, but to think that God has personal beings at his command who govern wind, and govern fire is to universalize ANE thinking into other contexts where we know that wind is explicable by common providence and the rotation of the earth. God can tell David to listen for "the sound of the army marching in the tops of the trees", but a scientific description of that activity would be 'mere wind', not at the direction of any other personal being but God alone.

So if angels are a merely expected feature of ANE cosmology, like the pillars of the sky, or the windows of heaven, then stories of personal beings other than God communicating with man are symbolical in character. Why the very first instance of an angel being mentioned in the bible is in the text most widely understood as symbolism about the human condition. There wasn't a literal fruit to be guarded by a literal fiery being, but God expresses that he possesses immortality and will prevent man from grasping for it since man is sinful. Further detailed use of angels in biblical texts are frequently in the case of visions or dreams (Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel, Micha in Kings, Zechariah, Revelation, Peters "sleepy" escape out of the prison in Acts, etc.)

So likewise, no angel visited Sodom (Assuming there was a Sodom). The 'angel of death' was a metaphor for what God was accomplishing during the exodus. Daniel did not meet with personal beings, but God revealed things to Daniel in a dream state where he imagined the expected cosmological signifiers of divine messages were speaking to him (just as he imagined big nasty animals that were signifiers of powerful human empires). An angel didn't speak to Mary about what was to happen, nor did one speak to Joseph. Jesus fell under God's providential care in the wilderness in a special way, but no beings other than God interacted with him.

If we want to take the tack that the cosmology of the ANE is simply part of the cultural context of God's revelation, then that seems like the best way to deal with the use of angelic beings in the bible. But it doesn't seem very plausible.

May 08, 2006

Great stuff from Marion Clark.

Available as audio and pdf. I like the audio.
It is one thing to be confronted with a behavioral issue; it is quite another to receive a conspiracy theory about one's motives. If I speak rudely and you bring my rudeness to my attention, I am likely to admit my wrong and seek reconciliation. But if
you then attribute motive, such as I am out to harm you, then I become wary of you. I may ask forgiveness for my behavior, but I will be on guard around you.

There is a place for dealing with motive, such as in a counseling context. If you have gently brought to attention a brother's sin (cf. Galatians 6:1), it is not uncommon for him to confess his motive. But if you assert motives while confronting sinful behavior, you will likely escalate whatever trouble you are addressing. You are raising the stakes, so to speak, for the other person. He must now react to a charge of what's in his heart rather than behavior. And what is in his heart is what he will most aggressively protect.
My tendency to want to think I'm clever or have special insight into people or situations feeds this temptation.

Now THAT's effective satire!

May 05, 2006

Hidden audio movie advertizing backfires

Sounds like this one would have too.

I wonder if thre will be a trend of these.

May 01, 2006

MSNBC report: Experts find evidence of Bosnia pyramid.

Archaeology Magazine reports: MSNBC are a bunch of dupes

One of these days I'm going to post the blog post that's been running around in my mind on the topic of cesationism, the 'inward evidence of graces,' common grace and providence, planning versus living a Ken Taylorish life of total dependence on God, and expecations about feelings of being 'prompted' or 'led' by the Spirit and distinguishing them from any other feelings that come from my subconscious.

Maybe you can post your thoughts on this in the meanwhile.

If you feel so led.

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