Wednesday, June 30, 2010

St. Augustine on Farting.

And therefore man himself also might very well have enjoyed absolute power over his members had he not forfeited it by his disobedience; for it is not difficult for God to form him so that what is now moved in his body only by lust should have been moved only at will.

We know, too, that some men are differently constituted from others, and have some rare and remarkable faculty of doing with their body what other men can by no effort do, and, indeed, scarcely believe when they hear of others doing....Some have such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at pleasure, so as to produce the effect of singing.

-Augustine, City of God, p.472 (14.24) Made aware of this extract from

There you have it. If you know someone who can fart perpetually and at the command of his own will, you have yourself a modern testimony to the Edenic condition of our first parents.

Martin Luther on Farting

I am of a different mind ten times in the course of a day. But I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away. When he tempts me with silly sins I say, “Devil, yesterday I broke wind too. Have you written it down on your list?” -Martin Luther


So you see how farts may serve a functional purpose in pastoral theology. If one is tempted, then crack off a loud one (says the good doctor).

On Farting.

I think this inviolable, ubiquitous human practice belongs within the anthropological motif of morality. It is one of the few sure catalysts to humility that mankind desperately and constantly needs.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Schleiermacher must have been onto something.

You can't listen to music like that, watching images like that and then proceed to omit feeling from theology. I'm no point-of-contact type dude, and there is no time to take liberal theology seriously. But man......grace can sure do something to ones ears as they hear music.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I had a vision last night.

I know,

Mennonites aren't supposed to get visions. But since we parted from the Kleine Gemeinde and the other "less godly" church's in Russia to form the Brethren, we have been suprisingly more open to the oddities of American fundamentalism and charismania.

Last night I dreamed about two different types of people who prayed. The unbelieving sort prayed for water to fill his bath tub and then proceeded to turn on the facet. What he got was a bunch of black water and bilge.

The believing sort prayed for water to fill his tub and did nothing, because he actually expected and acknowledged that God was able to do simple things like fill a bath tub with water.

If you know of any pelagians who love to talk about such things as "prayer and action," tell them about this vision and watch them cower.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Robert Cargill doesn't like the idea of guardian angels.

But then, who can blame him after looking at some of the angelic iconography displayed at his friend's site? Still, this left me wondering what Mr. Cargill is gonna tell his children when the lights in the house go out and they have to face a night alone in their beds? Then it hit me: Guardian Hume!!!! Just think about what a big poster of this contemptuous face would do for all of those demonic creatures that plague the night! What phantom would dare enter your kids room if those lazer-beam eyes were piercing the darkness with inductive precision? And the great thing about having a poster of Hume in your kids bedroom is that you know that he of all people (on the impossible chance that there is an afterlife) would never, ever, EVER move beyond the portrait to creepily hover about. With that one hand providentially resting over the head of the bed, the only thing you know that your kids are being guided towards is a safe, happy, relieving and very realistic sleep (replete with dreams of scientific investigations and the unfolding of a very sober metaphysics).

How Do Redaction Critics Mow Their Lawn?

They don't. And when their wife comes home a dialogue ensues that usually goes something like this:

"Honey, you were supposed to mow the lawn today."

"But I did dear."

"Then why is the grass nearly a foot high?"

".....someone must have added that grass after I finished mowing the lawn."

Their poor wives can never win. And if the wife ever tries to file for divorce, her husband will prove to the judge that the divorce papers are not authentic.

Something from Spurgeon

Goodness knows I don't want to be one of those ostentatious little fundy rascals that walk about with their Spurgeons and their John Owen's, but there is still oh so much to learn from both of them. Bless their big hearts:

"I once heard a story about a minister in northern England who called upon a very poor lady, intending to give financial help to her. With a monetary gift in hand, he knocked at her door, but there was no answer. He concluded that she was not at home, and so he left.

Later that evening, the minister saw the woman at church, and he told her that he had tried to visit her. He said,"I called at your house and knocked on your door several times, but there was no answer, so I assumed you were not at home."

She asked," At what hour did you come by?"
"About noon."
"Oh, dear," she said, "I heard you, sir, and I am so sorry I did not come to the door, but I thought it was the landlord coming by for the rent money."

She was trying to avoid her landlord, because she was unable to pay the rent, and there are many people who know what that is like. In writing this book, however, I am not "calling for the rent." In fact, I'm not trying to make demands on you or ask anything from you.

...Too many people are like the woman I just mentioned when it comes to someone telling them about Jesus. They think, Oh, now I'm going to be told what my duty is. This person is going to try to get something from me, and I'm sure I don't have what He is looking for."

This is from the preface to All of Grace, one of the best presentations of the gospel I have ever read.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Tinge of Beauty and Goodness.

Listening to this song, it is easy to see why the Latin Americans have preserved a greater sense of the sheer romance of life. The pair of voices featured here are gorgeous and charming (no, Ana Carolina is not a trans-). As the camera pans over the dark blue horizon of Rio de Janeiro, one is locked for a moment in the absolute beauty of God's transcendence. I sincerely hope and pray that these singers will see and know the Jesus who has created them and loves them so passionately.

Theodicy and Art after which?

The above (partial) phrase is often thrown about by popular theologians and philosophers. I believe it was Maurice Wiles who first questioned whether it is possible to hold fast to the traditional doctrine of providence after Auschwitz. I take Auschwitz here to mean the Nazi concentration camp system on a whole rather than the one particular (and admittedly notorious) prison complex in southern Poland. But in spite of my exposure to the horrors of the Third Reich extermination camps through film and literature, I cannot help but feel that depravity was taken to a new and much deeper level in the Soviet context. Most specifically in the context of what occurred at Nazino Island. Acclaimed historian of the Gulag system Anne Applebaum cites a document recently discovered in the Novosibirsk archives. The author of the document is an "instructor of the Party Committee in Narym, Western Siberia." He writes:

"The first convoy contained 5,070 people, and the second 1,044; 6,114 in all. The transport conditions were appalling: the little food that was available was inedible and the deportees were cramped into nearly airtight spaces...The result was a daily mortality rate of 35-40 people. These living conditions however, proved to be luxurious in comparison to what awaited the deportees on the island of Nazino....There were no tools, no grain, and no food. That is how their new life began. The day after the arrival of the first convoy, on 19 May, snow began to fall again, and the wind picked up. Starving, emaciated from months of insufficient food, without shelter and without tools...they were trapped. They weren't even able to light fires to ward off the cold. More and more of them began to die...

On the first day, 295 people were buried. It was only on the fourth or fifth day after the convoy's arrival on the island that the authorities sent a bit of flour by boat, really no more than a few pounds per person. Once they had received their meagre ration, people ran to the edge of the water and tried to mix some of the flour with water in their hats, their trousers or their jackets. Most of them just tried to eat it straight off, and some of them even choked to death. These tiny amounts of flour were the only food that the deportees received during the entire period of their stay on the island..."

Miss Applebaum follows this exerpt with her own narration of the event:

"By August 20, three months later, the Party functionary went on to write, nearly 4,000 of the original 6,114 "settlers" were dead. The survivors had lived because they ate the flesh of those who had died. According to another inmate, who encountered some of these survivors in the Tomsk prison, they looked "like walking corpses," and were all under arrest-accused of cannibalism."

(Gulag, a History; 75-76)

According to Applebaum, this event occurred within the context of what later Soviet historians called the "Opening Up of the Far North". Countless thousands of Kulaks and other peasants were forcibly rounded up and shipped to the most desolate areas of the country in order to work the land for the sustenance of the economy at large.

I had never heard of this affair before picking up Applebaum's work (which I heartily recommend reading if you are depressed and discontent with your life....every damning page of this tome will cause you to look up and leap for joy at the peacable life God has mercifully allotted to you). Thankfully a new volume has been produced by Nicolas Werth devoted entirely to the subject of Nazino:

Google books has an extract from this work, which quotes an eyewitness who testified about Nazino in 1989:

"They were trying to escape. They asked us "Where's the railway?" We'd never seen a railway. They asked "Where's Moscow? Leningrad?" They were asking the wrong people: we'd never heard of those places. We're Ostyaks. People were running away starving. They were given a handful of flour. They mixed it with water and drank it and then they immediately got diarrhea. The things we saw! People were dying everywhere; they were killing each other.... On the island there was a guard named Kostia Venikov, a young fellow. He was courting a pretty girl who had been sent there. He protected her. One day he had to be away for a while, and he told one of his comrades, "Take care of her," but with all the people there the comrade couldn't do much.... People caught the girl, tied her to a poplar tree, cut off her breasts, her muscles, everything they could eat, everything, everything.... They were hungry, they had to eat. When Kostia came back, she was still alive. He tried to save her, but she had lost too much blood." (

If I try to comprehend what went on in this cold, wintry island during those few months....all I can think of is Hell. Absolute Hell. This place was a portal to the terrifying, helpless despair of Gehenna below.

There is no sense trying to figure out the problem of evil after what happened on Nazino island. I defer all of these things to the last day, where every scoffing mouth will clap shut before the revelation of the Just and Incensed Judge of all nations, who will expose what has long been hidden in darkness and render each according to his deeds. God save us.

Martin Luther's Exhortation

You can read it with a nice historical introduction at:

This letter contains some of the many things Luther would have said at the Augsburg Diet had it been safe for him to move about the country. Adding to this the fact that it was written inside a huge, austere and creepy castle makes for some seasoned aesthetic appeal.

To be honest, I prefer this document to the Augsburg Confession and the subsequent Apology of Phillip Melanchthon. There is no doubt that Master Phillip is a brilliant scholar and a masterful theologian, but his writings lack the fire and ferment possessed by his co-reformer and friend Luther. At times Phillip can become quite monotone and repetitive, most especially in the longest section of the Apology known as "On Love and the Fulfilling of the Law."

Here is an exerpt from Luther's infinitely superior treatise:

"In a word, who can tell all the abominations that the indulgence, as a true and mighty idol, has caused in all the chapters, cloisters, churches, chapels, hermitages, altars, pictures, tables, nay, in almost all the houses and chambers, so long as there was money in them? One would have to read again the books that were written against them ten years ago or so. Now speak up, dear sirs! For this unspeakable thievery and robbery of money, and for this inconceivable number of deceived hearts and consciences, and for this terrible and abominable lie, this blasphemy of Christ's Passion, of the Gospel, of grace, nay, of God Himself, which have been committed by indulgences, all of you clergy are together to blame; not only you who have got money by them, but also you who were silent about it and looked on willingly at this raging of the devil. You talk of rebellion, of confiscation of monasteries, of the Turks! What are all these things together compared to you indulgence-vendors, when one thinks about it? It was a real Turkish army against the true Christian faith.

But which of you has ever once repented for this terrible abomination, or even sighed over it, or had a wet eye? And now, like hardened, unrepentant sinners, you will have it that you never did anything wrong; therefore you come together in Augsburg and want to persuade us that the Holy Ghost is with you and will accomplish great things through you, though all your life long you have done the Church nothing but harm, and that afterwards He will lead you straight to heaven with all these unrepented abominations - nay, with the abominations that you have defended - as though He must rejoice that you have served your god Belly so gloriously and laid waste God's Church so pitifully. This is why you have no good luck; and you will have none until you repent and amend your ways. "

It is impossible to read through the whole work and not SERIOUSLY lament the amount of corruption and absolute, maddeningly depraved wickedness that had infiltrated nearly every layer of the catholic ecclesia. God save us from these things.

If you have not yet read this document, I heartily recommend it.

Why Qohelet?

We throw that name about these days when referring to Ecclesiastes. The first reason is that it makes us sound sophisticated. Goodness knows how many frowns we would get from today's scholars if we were to impiously refer to the author as Solomon. The binding rule of higher critical orthodoxy is that all scriptural texts must be dated to at least three centuries after the time proclaimed by the text. Secondly, unless you absolutely must, it is a good rule to assume that the author is not who he says he is but someone else (most preferably a nebulous redactor from Babylon in the time of the exile). If these two rules are not kept one may be certain of immanent and swift anathema from the intelligentsia.

The second reason is that it makes us sound sophisticated. We maintain the best of both conservative and liberal worlds by merely referring to the author as "The Teacher". This enables the liberals to cheerfully assume that we are in accord with them, and the conservatives to observe how scrupulously we refuse to go beyond what is written (after all, the name Solomon never explicitly shows up in the text).

The third reason is that it makes us sound sophisticated. Almost like referring to Don Quixote de la mancha, which sounds so cosmopolitan that most hearers in our circles of friendship will not bother to discover that the aforementioned title basically means "Lord of nothing from nowhere." In the same way, when we use Qohelet instead of Solomon we are compelling people to believe that we are chic, up with the times. But in the end the Good Lord knows that all of our scholarship is a big, meaningless pile of futile thinking and foolish words. And in the end, when all things are brought to judgment, it will be candidly revealed to us and the rest of the world that we are really just lords of nothing from nowhere.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I have coined a new term.

Bonhoefferolatry: an inordinate obsession and/or adoration of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wherein his writings displace scripture as the new Word of God and the man is venerated as the first and only pontiff of the Protestant faith.

Bonhoefferolaters can be spotted easily. If they are not reading "The Cost of Discipleship" this very moment, you should be able to locate any one of them solemnly talking about "costly grace" or whipping out flashy dialectical phrases like "the Lord who meets us in judgment and grace".

In fact, the second question of the Westminster catechism is already being re-worked to say:

"What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorfy and enjoy him?

Answer: The word of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which is contained in Ethics, Life Together but chiefly in The Cost of Discipleship."

A salutary circularity.

"Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever." (Ps 119:152)

The scriptures need not bow to our rules of logic (which are perfectly miserable and unable to increase one cubit of our stature). We may learn from the bible itself that the bible was established by God to last forever. There is no higher authority to which we can appeal in our understanding of scripture than scripture itself. It is Christ's own word.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Some timely words from Luther.

"The deplorable, miserable condition that I discovered recently when I, too, was a visitor, has forced and urged me to prepare this catechism, or Christian doctrine, in this small, plain, simple form. Mercy! Dear God, what great misery I beheld! The common person, especially in the villages, has no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine. And unfortunately, many pastors are completely unable and unqualified to teach. This is so much so, that one is ashamed to speak of it. Yet, everyone says that they are Christians, have been baptized, and receive the holy Sacraments, even though they cannot even recite the Lord's Prayer or the Creed or the Ten Commandments. They live like dumb brutes and irrational hogs. Now that the Gospel has come, they have nicely learned to abuse all freedom like experts." (Preface to the Small Catechism)

This predicament has not changed over the centuries but worsened. It is largely due, no doubt, to the public hatred of doctrine in favor of some nebulous thing called praxis. Christians are regularly taught from all sectors (not least the church) that a pleasing life has nothing whatever to do with what you believe but how you live. Fie on this deplorable statement (which is really a doctrine, and that a damnable one)! Those who clearly preach this have divorced love from the knowledge of the truth. But according to St. Paul, love always rejoices in the truth (1 Cor.13:6). If we have no time for sound doctrine (the purpose of which is to make plain the truth about God) then we have no time for love.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

One thing the Emergent Church is Not.

My mom brought home a pamphlet the other day with a big "WARNING" pasted on the front cover: "A dangerous Trojan horse is creeping into the Evangelical Church." But the emergent church simply cannot be a trojan horse, because a trojan horse has to have some form of sophisticated appeal for it to be accepted within the city gates. And there is nothing particularly appealing about this jejune, mind-numbing and pathetically boring movement. I would have placed a higher bet on the "death of God" fad in the 60's or the "religionless Christianity" trend which still pops up here and there. These at least had a few learned theologians backing them. But alas for this wretched is not welcome in any church that is truly the church and has always been seen for its true colours.

The best thing one can do with this silly fad is to ignore it altogether and not give it any airtime. Try to avoid discussions about it and refuse to purchase pamphlets "exposing" it. My advice isn't new. Somewhere in Jim West's sundry blogs you can find similar wisdom for how to handle Fred Phelps, and earlier than both of us is Karl Barth on dealing with Bultmannitus (which is not the same thing as dealing with Bultmann, who I have heard is an excellant scholar).

Zwingli on the Ban.

"31- No private person may impose the ban on anyone, except the church, ie., the community of those among whom the person to be excommunicated live, together with its guardian, ie., the minister.

32- Only the person who causes public offense may be banned." (The 67 Articles)

You can read the full text at Jim West's blog:

It would be interesting to find some material from Zwingli that goes into greater depth on these two points. Unfortunately those snobs who hold the key to knowledge on Zwingli refuse to translate his works into english for us un-educated folk. Instead we must spend ten arduous years trying to grasp the german language so we can join in with the esoteric scholars.

In the meantime, some preliminary comments are in order. I'm trying to test these articles against Paul's apostolic instructions on the ban to see whether they hold up. I like the perimeters Zwingli wisely places around the act of excommunication, no doubt to maintain order among Christians. Otherwise we would all be excommunicating each other right left and center. At certain points in history this was precisely the flavor of Mennonite practice (at least in the Netherlands:, pages 29-34).

"I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people..." (1 Cor. 5:9). Zwingli grasps the importance of order and unity that is presupposed in this commandment (cf. 14:40). But what if the church has a sexually immoral brother in its ranks and deliberately does nothing about it? Shall the individual share in this sin of ommission, continuing to associate with the aforementioned brother?

Zwingli's first article seems to leave the observing individual in a particularly bad ethical dilemma. The commandment requires separation from the guilty brother (whose sins have been exposed) but cannot be personally exercised because the idle church refuses to formally acknowledge the guilt.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

St. Ignatius on the Kenosis.

"Let all of you run together as to one temple of God, as to one altar, to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father and remained with the One and returned to the One." (Epistle to the Magnesians, 7.2)

It is always a treat reading Ignatius, who is one of the earliest examples of Christian orthodoxy and a dogmatician in his own right. Though his theological reflections are usually tied up with practical and ecclesiastical issues, they never cease to be charming, doxological, airtight, and (dare I say it) trinitarian.

What fascinates me with the above quotation is his phrase on Christ coming forth from the Father and yet remaining with the Father. I could be wrong, but it seems that Ignatius is here stressing that our Lord did not relinquish his divine office in coming to earth.. not at any time. His kenosis did not detract from him continuing a cosmic reign with the Father in heaven.

The Global Flood.

Scientific issues aside, since when has anyone recently done some good theological work on the flood texts ? It seems like everyone is scared out of their pants to even approach this beautiful scripture. I think its implications for today are vast and dreadful.

"But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:5-7 NIV)

I love it how the petrine tradition re-works this text into its discussion of eschatology. In the eyes of the Eternal One the earth has received universal judgment in the past, and it will receive universal judgment in the future by the same decree. There is a timelessness to the Word here that governs the course of history and moves it precisely to the proclaimed end.

Why my cat Jensen is a better calvinist than most calvinists.

It's simple: he has never once arrogantly boasted to me about his election (by grace) as a creature before God the creator. This makes him the first calvinist who is truly consistent with his own doctrine (and don't bother trying to tell me that he could actually be arminian; he may be a cat but he deserves respect).

Jim West might counter by saying that it is in the nature of all cats to "see both ways before they cross the street, to your house, where they want to murder your children by sucking out their souls… " ( But since when was this not consonant with good calvinism?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Faith in the Resurrection

"For when we leave off believing and protect ourselves by mere strength of argument, and destroy the claim which the Spirit has upon our faith by questionings, and then our argument is not strong enough for the importance of the subject (and this must necessarily be the case, since it is put in motion by an organ of so little power as is our mind), what is the result? The weakness of the argument appears to belong to the mystery." (Gregory Nazianzen, Orat. XXIX.21, qtd in Oden 494).

As Christians our commitment is first to the Lord of the resurrection, not to reason. I can testify in my own life about reasons weakness to produce much of anything that is helpful to me apart from faith in Christ.

Abandon the pernicious cravings of the modern sophists, who are far too comfortable with their own intellects and the fruit yielded thereof (here being futility and later a meaningless death). What good will your disbelief in the resurrection yield you when your life comes apart (as it most certainly will) through sickness or trial? Will your silly intellectual friends avail anything for you on this day, a few comforting passages from The God Delusion or An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding? What will their fine-sounding boasts be to you but maxims of ashes and catalysts for despair as you stand before the wide jaws of oblivion?

Yes, abandon your petty reason. It is not saving you but killing you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Some idiotic sayings from the Gospel of Thomas.

Jesus said, "Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human. And foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the lion still will become human." (7)

The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?"
Jesus said to them, "No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."

Jesus said, "The Father's kingdom is like a person who wanted to kill someone powerful. While still at home he drew his sword and thrust it into the wall to find out whether his hand would go in. Then he killed the powerful one." (98)

Alas for the day when it is a mark of good critical thinking to accept this ridiculous document and reject the canonical ones!

Preachers do not need to shout.

"The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools." (Ecc. 9:17)

It is an odd delusion; here being the presupposition that good preaching requires loudness, manifest zeal, moving about, shaking, charisma etc... The congregation so quickly assumes that a preacher is speaking loudly because the Holy Spirit has come upon him.

But where does it say that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is a loud voice? Is it not rather gentleness and self-control?

It was said of Jonathan Edwards that he read his sermons from a paper and scarcely looked up to observe the audience. Hold up....this guy was a strategic figure in one of the Great Awakenings right? Where were the gesticulations in his homiletical presentations? Or what about meek and mild Lloyd-Jones? Do you believe he was frothing at the mouth and sounding out every word as if it were a pep rally?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why I am suspicious of Menno Simons

"The Lutherans teach and believe, that we are saved by faith alone, without any regard to works. They maintain this doctrine as firmly as though works were not at all necessary; yea, that faith is of such a nature that no work can be suffered or allowed beside it."

The rest of Menno Simons' treatise is well worth reading (

It would appear that the reverand Menno is not overly keen on properly understanding Lutheran doctrine. Had he spent a few more pious and devoted hours in the Apology for Augsburg, Smalcald Articles.... perhaps Luther's treatise on Christian Liberty, he would have ommitted the false accusation that the Lutherans have no time for good works. But as this quotation seems to imply, Menno would have it that the Lutherans add good works to their doctrine of justification. And not only is such an addition a severe categorical error, it is also heresy. Rightly then did the Augsburg confession denounce the Anabaptists as pious frauds.

I am a Mennonite myself, born of pure blood Mennonite parents into a Mennonite Brethren community. But all of this is absolute rubbish compared to the ineffable gospel of God's powerful and rich grace. I am convinced that Luther and Melanchton grasped this gospel in ways that precious few have, and so if anyone has an issue with these two fellas, they have an issue with me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

An Important Question.

Is it possible to do good "Barthian" theology without all of the Barth-esque language? I've been reading over my own posts (which can only be classified as a failed attempt at theology) and have to admit that I'm rather disgusted at the type of words I use and the way I formulate sentences. Barthian sentences make me want to vomit. And they are everywhere! Just throw in the word witness for every blog post you write, for every wretched theological essay you draft and your in on the Barthianism. Here are some good blog titles that should release the bile in your liver:

"Apocalyptic Christology: the New Testament as witness in a post-fundamentalist world."

"Christ as authentic man: the pedagogy of the apostolic witness."

"Creation as Act: Re-mythologising the factum in the Old Testament witness."

Puke puke puke!!!!

Just when I think I've vomited enough as I read this glowing garbage, I find more vomit to spew out. This is nonsense! It needs to stop!

Thank you Hillsong.

At that time Jesus said," I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." - Mt 11:25

I didn't select this precious little scripture passage in order to demean the Hillsong Worship artists. Not at all. Yesterday as my mother flipped on their worship music as we drove out for a bite to eat, it struck me almost immediately how profound and beautiful their music is. I was practically caught up into the heavens as I listened to the intimate prayers and declarations of the gospel woven into these simple songs. These people love Jesus. These people have beheld his beauty and his glory in the sanctuary. I was so inspired and encouraged by their intimate love and reverance for the Lord Most High that I could not help but feel refreshed in my faith. And yet if I were to interview any one of these artists, they probably wouldn't be able to tell me squat about Chalcedonian theology or the modicum of epistemology in the revelation of God.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Old Testament Theology- Methodology?

I've been working my way through the prolegomena of an Old Testament theology from an evangelical scholar. He devotes about twenty pages to surveying the various methods that have been proposed in the past two hundred years on the aforementioned subject. While reading this I realized that precious few scholars (and evangelicals are not excluded here) have taken seriously the analogia fidei as the principle rule for all Old Testament exegesis. In other words, there are few who believe that the Old Testament records serve as a legitimate witness to Jesus of Nazareth and the gospel of his least in a manner that can be treated in scholarship.

How pitiful!

Attempting to go beyond Jesus the Son of God in order to establish a doctrine of God (yes, even Israel's God) is not just a methodological's blasphemy. Paul (speaking by the very Spirit) says that the eternal God has given a commandment: that the prophetic writings reveal and make known the mystery of Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25-26). We go to the Old Testament because it reveals and makes known our Lord other god.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Theses on the subject of sacred scripture.

1. It must be maintained, contrary to all modern sophists who pose as theologians of the Word, that the chief article pertaining to sacred scripture is its authorship by the Holy Spirit; proceeding from the Father and the Son.

2. That man has had a part to play in this authorship is accidental and, in the face of the Majesty of the Eternal One, of infinitely less importance.

3. It follows that questions of the author's (in this case most always accredited to sinful man) intent, purpose, interpretation, motive, Sitz im Leben, historical context and so on do not constitute the substance of exegesis, but normatively hinder its manifestation.

4. They strive against God who maintain that the prophetic oracles received in the church as sacred scripture came about as a result of man's interpretation.

5. Yet those who seek to convey an empirically verifiable origin of scripture in the divine will confuse a fastly dating epistemology with the knowledge of the truth as God sees it.

6. Rightly then did Karl Barth insist that the doctrine of scripture as the Word of God be apprehended and proclaimed by faith alone, in which alone the gospel is apprehended and man is able to please and find God.

7. Yet the substance of scripture cannot be understood as a being-in-becoming only, as if the Word of God (in any form) is enslaved to the temporal sphere for its existence as such.

8. The apostolic witness only recognizes the eternality of God's Word according to 1 Peter 1:23-25.

9. The sacred scriptures are not bound by high-sounding rules of context, which the sophists (without the apostolic example) arrogantly appeal to when exegeting a verse.

10. Their appeals limit the verse to the phenomenologies of other works of literature in the history of man, and the Word is never limited.

11. Yet neither can a verse be declared without context in the same wanton manner, as if the mind's willy-nilly selection of a decree from the Eternal God is a sure way to end an argument.

12. All exegesis and scholarship is conducted by men who are dead in their transgressions and sins, completely void of any knowledge of the truth and liable to judgment and destruction. Rightly then does the scripture in Ecclesiastes attribute vanity to the pursuit of wisdom.

13. If every word of the scripture is not first and foremost understood as a witness to Jesus Christ, it must be asked whether the scriptures have even been remotely understood at all.