December 31, 2006

another test. blogger beta is publishing too many archives.

December 16, 2006

Steve Wilkin's recent written response to questions about his views goes in the direction of saying that when Paul calls church members elect or justified it is because in some sense (a covenantal sense) they are. The sense in which their justification differs from that of the elect is 1) it is not a perpetual justification and 2) it not qualitatively the same in the eyes of God because his knowledge and sovereign ordination of the temporary nature of their election and justification colors the whole covenantal justificatory decree. This means that Wilkins distinguishes between Justificationwcf and Justificationpaulinepistle

Some are saying that when Paul writes to churches and calls them elect that, rather than go that direction, his language is simpler to understand as a judgement of charity, or as a matter of "convention". I would agree its simpler to understand Paul's language that way if your goal is to view the WCF as nothing more than an abstract of the Bible, rather than the content of the Bible run though a derivative function and written out in terms of the interests of the WCF (the mechanics of individual salvation).

But say that Paul is using a convention. One would have to ask the basis for the certainty of this assertion. Paul is usually regarded as the originator of the biblical doctrines of election and justification in their fullest and clearest expression. It his use of that language that is the data that we run through derivative functions to apply to the questions that are uppermost in our minds. So where did Paul get a convention of speaking of the visible church in this way. Nobody else writing at that time had Paul's way of speaking about the matter, so what convention did he adopt?

So if Paul is willing to use the language of justification and election with respect to the merely visible church, that has to be some of the data that we run through the function to determine the shape of his theology.

Paul of course did not come up with every aspect of his doctrine of election and justification from nowhere though. So if in fact he uses 'conventional' ways of speaking about justification and election those conventions come from the prior record of God's oracles and revelation: the old testaments many references to the election and justification of Israel.

But when FVers try to say that we should derive our doctrine of election and justification with reference to the Old Testament conventions as well as Paul's references, the FV is accused of holding to a "flat" hermeneutic (which all I can believe is a slurred way of talking about a "whole Bible" hermeneutics). The WCF says that in all controversies of religion, the OT in Hebrew and the NT in Greek is to be finally appealed to. It doesn't say that the NT is especially to be appealed to. But the appeal is to be made to "them".

In any case, I look forward to any final statement of the acceptability of Wilkins' view to be replete with biblical citations and exegesis. Any thing else would be against the confession.

December 15, 2006

Lets say we get nationalized health care.

Presumably, such programs will cover medical proceedures and drugs that are supposed to alleveiate disorders and maladies. They wouldn't cover aesthetic surgery or recreational drugs.

Some people have trouble conceiving. IVF could be covered in such cases, once the doctor has determined that, in fact, the diagnosis warrants it. (Put aside for now the moral issues relating to IVF: playing God, extra embryos, etc)

Now lets say we have legal gay marriage or even legal partnerships that have to have all the rights of married couples. In such an environement, what would stand in the way of giving such couples paid access to IVF?

December 12, 2006

While I'm all for noticing the way the Gospels go out to embrace the publicans and sinners who are turning to Jesus, and de-stigmatize them from theie positions within self-righteous Pharisaical culture, i think we need to notice that the Bible is also perfectly happy to talk about "rabble" "sons of Belial", and "lewd fellows of the baser sort". Worthless-nogoodnicks we will always have with us.

test beta argh

December 11, 2006

Pontiff strikes right tone
During his four-day visit, which ended Friday, the pope faced Mecca and prayed shoulder to shoulder with an Islamic cleric in Turkey's most important mosque.
If it was OK for Paul to circumcize Timothy, offer sacrifices required for a Nazirite vow, and "be a Jew to the Jews", is it OK for the Pope to pray in a Mosque facing Mecca (assuming for sake of TR arguments that he's praying to Jesus)?

Innumeracy is everywhere recently. And not just bloggers! From Verizon's inability to distinguish between rates of $0.002 and 0.002 cents, to lawmakers who only taxed a cigarette manufacturer 1.5 cents, instead of 1.5 cents per cigarette sold. Lawmakers in Arizona had the cents/dollar problem as well
A misplaced period on the state's ballots raised questions about a cigarette tax voters approved Nov. 7. The law called for an increase of 80 cents per pack, but the ballot had .80 cents per pack.
This is a public service announcement from SIAM.

(full disclosure: I was an English major who flunked Discrete Math)

December 08, 2006

1/12 designer chairs

Now Barlow can get working on a dollhouse.

December 07, 2006

December 05, 2006

Organic chicken 'less nutritious' than [factory]-farmed birds.

I was also struck by an NPR report a week or two ago that there is apparently a wide range of nutrient value among identical vegetables that are grown in differnt places, soils, etc. Some cantelopes have ten times the nutritious value of other cantelopes. The scientists who noted these things don't know what to account for them, but it shattered the common assumptions that, say, 1 cup of broccoli has X mg of vitamin Y. Basicly nobody knows what's really in a given serving of vegetables.

A quote on the canons concerning perseverance, from the British delegation to the synod of Dordt, from Peter White's work, Predestination, Policy, and Polemic: Conflict and Consensus in the English Church from the Reformation to the Civl War:
We ourselves think that this doctrine is contrary to Holy Scripture, but whether it is expedient to condemn it in these our canons needs great deliberation. On the contrary, it would appear

1. That Augustine, Prosper and the other Fathers who propounded the doctrine of absolute predestination and who opposed the Pelagians, seem to have conceded that certain of those who are not predestined can attain the state of regeneration and justification. Indeed, they use this very argument as an illustration of the deep mystery of predestination; which cannot be unknown to those who have even a modest acquaintance with their writings.

2. That we ought not without grave cause to give offence to the Lutheran churches, who in this matter, it is clear, think differently.

3. That (which is of greater significance) in the Reformed churches themselves, any learned and saintly men who are at one with us in defending absolute predestination, nevertheless think that certain of those who are truly regenerated and justified, are able to fall from that state and to perish and that this happens eventually to all those, whom God has not ordained in the decree of election infallibly to eternal life. Finally we cannot deny that there are some places in Scripture which apparently support this opinion, and which have persuaded learned and pious men, not without a great probability.
HT to Traphagen and Kevin Johnson.

December 04, 2006

While by no means exempting the Bush administration from blame or criticism for the failures of the Iraq war, Stanley Kurtz makes an interesting point about how Bush has been hampered by the presence of less than complete approval for his policies. Its unavoidable in the US at the present, but troubling nonetheless
My point is that this kind of political strategy, and the larger dovish sensibility behind it, puts constraints on our military policy in Iraq and beyond. That, in fact, is the purpose of these proposals. They are a kind of political shot across the bow, designed to warn Republicans that the war on terror is going to have to be fought without a larger military. Even if the president had tried to expand the military on a strictly volunteer basis, Rangel would have pointed to the danger that enough recruits might not be found. So just by raising the prospect of a larger military, the Republicans would have fed dovish claims that a draft was on the way.

Rangel’s very real political warning shot, like the larger and long-standing dovish sensibility behind it, helped to shape the “light footprint” strategy that has worked so poorly in Iraq. (I made a similar point back in 2003 in “Troop Dearth.”) Does that exempt the administration from a huge share of responsibility for our problems in Iraq? Absolutely not. But it is a reality that the big dovish constituency in this country has put significant constraints on our military policies. And those constraints have contributed to our problems in Iraq and beyond.
I was struck with Kurtz point earlier this morning when I read it, but then Kim Riddlebarger posted an essay from Dortothy Sayers that seems to fit the same mold
Britain went to war feeling herself in disgrace. Not to wage war was wicked; to wage war was more wicked still; the sacrifice she was called on to make was not redemptive, for the theology of Enlightenment has no doctrine of redemption. Never must she forget that she was committed to the unforgivable sin. No trumpets, no flags, no parades, no martial music were permitted by enlightened opinion; she must crawl into battle in a white sheet. Nor might she tell the world that she thought herself worth fighting for; that would be propaganda, and propaganda was naughty—besides, she was expected to confess that her constitution was rotten, her way of life unsound, her Empire and outrage, her social services contemptible. War aims and peaces aims she must declare, but they must be the war and peace aims dictated by the Voice of Enlightenment, not those that were native to her tradition. Tradition, indeed! What had Progressive Humanism to do with tradition, or with history, if it came to that? The apostle of get-on-or-get-out had proclaimed that history was bunk. The cosmopolitan intelligentsia had laid down that English History was a jingoist and hypocritical lie, and that all Britain's past stank like a cesspool. English history had been debunked, and the less said about it the better.

Nagged and scolded from all sides, deprived of arms and self-confidence, Britain slunk into war, with her tail between her legs, ground down by a vivid sense of her irredeemable naughtiness, forbidden to explain herself, forbidden even to look cheerful about it, and (because all talk about armaments had been banished from enlightened conversation as a solecism) entirely unaware of what she was up against.

The British, if they had not by now been rendered almost speechless by self-consciousness, might well have replied, "Because we tried to be good. We made no arms, because Enlightenment said it was naughty. Our conscription was too little and too late because Labour rigidly opposed it, and we had been carefully taught that Labour was Enlightened and the working man was always right. We didn't drop bombs because we might have hurt some civilians, and everybody would have said it was naughty and that we had only ourselves to blame if there were reprisals. And we couldn't believe that Hitler was really wicked (in spite of what some people said) because we had become too enlightened to believe in sin

John Frame, in Evangelical Reunion, on how to appreciate wrong theology without "utterly abhoring" it. The conclusion can't be fully appreciated without the context of the chapter or whole book, but I cite it anyway
My own conclusion, then, is that Arminian preaching is far better than Arminian theology, better even than some of the worse forms of Calvinistic preaching. If now and then more serious errors enter Arminian sermons, I must be honest and recognize that serious errors often enter Calvinistic sermons as well.

I would have no difficulty inviting a non-Christian friend to hear the gospel from an Arminian evangelist, or from one who, like Billy Graham, does not draw the theological lines between the two very sharply. While I would certainly prefer for myself and family to hear Calvinistic preaching (not at its worst, but at its average or better) as our steady diet, I have no hesitation in admitting that Arminian preachers, on the average, preach the biblical gospel.

This is the kind of mutual analysis I am recommending: discerning, analytical, but sympathetic, not taking historical polemics for granted, but seeking to penetrate beneath those polemics to identify otherwise hidden areas of unity-- or diversity. It is a form of analysis that seeks not only to identify differences, but also to assess the weight of those differences, to see them in proper 'perspective.'

De script shun




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