Saturday, July 31, 2010

Luther was not alone in deeming reason a noxious whore.

"Now, against the sacrilegious and impious darings of reason, we assert both that God knows all things before they come to pass, and that we do by our free will whatsoever we know and feel to be done by us only because we will it." Augustine (De Civitate Dei, 5.9)

Those who worship reason always think they can back a theologian into a corner with their pseudo-socratic sophistry. But a true theologian perceives the greatness of God and is able to hold fast to the one without letting go of the other.


Runs in my family. That's how I've been feeling these last few months. I can only pray:

Domine, miserere nostri,
te enim expectavimus!
Estos brachium nostrum in mane,
et salus nostri in tempore tribulationem.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Open Theists aren't new.

"The manner in which Cicero addresses himself to the task of refuting the Stoics, shows that he did not think he could effect anything against them in argument unless he had first demolished divination. And this he attempts to accomplish by denying that there is any knowledge of future things, and maintains with all his might that there is no such knowledge either in God or man, and that there is no prediction of events." -Augustine (De Civitate Dei, 5.9)

There you have it. Cicero was an open theist. How very ironic that the modern day proponents of this aberrant theological view- who accuse classical theists of being more influenced by Greek and pagan philosophy than by the scriptures- should have as their chief theologian in antiquity, not a church father, but a pagan!

Old Testament Theology- neglect of the triune premise.

"One other issue in Genesis 1:26 deserves mention. The Lord says," Let us make man in our image," a potentially odd comment in a monotheistic creation account. Since the next verse emphasizes "God created man in his own image" and stresses "he created" male and female, it is improbable that any other deity is invoked in Genesis 1:26. It is more likely that a plurality of personality is meant, since both God and the Spirit of God appear in Genesis 1. It is not likely that the Lord addresses angels and other celestial beings. To interpret the phrase in this manner implies that these beings share creator status with the Lord." -Paul R. House (Old Testament Theology, p.61-62)

House lays out a doctrine of the Creator God without so much as a hint of a mention of Jesus. The best we get is a brief excursus on a possible "plurality of personality" within Genesis 1.

We were required to use this volume as a textbook for OT Survey at The Master's College (John Macarthur's school). This might give you some idea of how easily a system whose hermeneutical presupposition revolves around innerrancy can inculcate a smooth doctrine of Creation without even explicitly mentioning the Christic principle. In other words, inerrantists are not impeachably safe from errant theological views of the Bible.

Talking about Creation without making any mention of Jesus is just another example of bad natural theology. If we profess that all things were created through Jesus, why do we blush at the thought of placing this in our books? Do we think the Most High would have us ignore one person of the Trinity in our exegesis of Genesis 1, especially in light of the fact that his apostles didn't? Or is the theological fact that the crucified Jesus of Nazareth brought all things into being such a trifling matter that we may safely neglect it?

Wierd Evangelism.

I walked into the doctor's office today to pick up some prescription pills (horse tranquilizers and heroine, btw) and had to sit down and wait for a little bit. Beside me were two pastors in their late 50's talking about ministerial issues and church life. Their voices were obnoxiously loud, and everyone else in the room had no choice but to politely listen in on their conversation. I almost wanted to walk out in embarresment for their sakes, but realized that they may have taken this either as a sign of 'conviction' or moderate persecution.

I knew what they were doing, and it was a whacky and annoying way of doing it. To be sure, the Christian ought to conduct himself without a speck of shame as to his faith in Jesus Christ, but too often it seems that our evangelical techniques are without a speck of authenticity. Had those two gentlemen been talking about how much trouble they are having loving their wives, or conversely how much they love their wives, they wouldn't be saying such things for the sake of those about them...and I bet you the tone would be a little more hushed. The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded.....and are far more authentic, I might add.

Is Jesus a Friendly Poltergeist?

Ben Myers posted this one awhile back. I have some issues with it.

Here's how my Random House dictionary defines 'Poltergeist'-

"a ghost or spirit supposed to manifest its presence by noises, knockings, etc..."

Ben doesn't like the Pentecostal idea of a nice Jesus, who floats about the aether of your existence as a sort of super-buddy. He says: "Bruce's account should remind us that the only Jesus we want anything to do with is the Jesus narrated in the Gospels – not Jesus the friendly poltergeist (as Robert Jenson once put it), but the crucified and risen one who summons us to discipleship."

Obviously no serious Christian would ever make the claim that Jesus manifests himself to a believer via noises, knockings etc... But the basic coup de grâce has already been delivered: Jesus is not your nice spirit-friend.

The trouble we now face is the scriptural promise of the ongoing presence of Jesus in the life of a believer (particularly Mt. 28:20). We also face the problem of the incomparable riches of God's grace, expressed in his kindness to us through no other than Jesus Christ himself (Eph. 2:7).

No one can relate to Jesus as He is in his physical body before the throne of God. But his spirit fills the universe and is promised to be at our side forever. In kindness, grace, love and friendship.

I fear that in the end Ben Myers has only replaced Jesus the friendly poltergeist with Jesus the mean poltergeist, which is both theologically problematic and scripturally inadequate.

Wise words from Clement.

"But if, moreover, we chance upon a place, and find there one believing woman only, and no other person be there but she only, we do not stop there, nor pray there, nor read the Scriptures there, but we flee as from before the face of a serpent, and as from before the face of sin."

-Clement of Rome, 2nd epistle on Virginity, ch.5.


Actually, this is spuriously attributed to Clement. But the epistles' general aura of works-righteousness and austerity fits well within the post-apostolic climate, so I can see why it was attributed to him.

Wise indeed, according to the wisdom of this world. There is no grace in this, and one little phrase from my mother trumps the whole lot of this Clementine hogwash: "Marc, go easy on us females. We are far from perfect."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Total Depravity: Jim West becomes a Mennonite.

After blocking me on Facebook, I realized how desirous he is to emulate what the historic Mennonite is skillful in doing: the ban. I don't blame him for it....everyone wants to be a Mennonite and everyone should be a Mennonite. The depravity becomes eminent after realizing how many posts he has written on his blog lambasting any and all Anabaptists. This clear example of double-mindedness will not do.

Monday, July 26, 2010

This is why Archaeologists scare me.

A small piece of a tablet was discovered in an indian burial site in eastern United States. At the bottom of the fragment can be discerned a bit of cuneiform which supposedly contains some words from the well known Epic of Gilgamesh.

Jim West explains: "This proves to the archaeologist’s satisfaction that the Indian’s drew their legends of a flood directly from the oldest Near Eastern sources. What puzzles those at the dig is how the fragment made its way to North America and how the Indians were able to read it. Nevertheless, they are certain that this is exactly what happened and the proof is in the tablet-pudding."

Seriously? How do you know that the Indians were able to read it? Moreover, how does a small, blackened piece of tablet with a bit of Gilgamesh in it come even close to sustaining the massive claim that the American Natives derived their flood myths from the Ancient Near East? What an absolutely foolish and post-haste conclusion to draw from such a tiny fragment of evidence. I sure hope this is not the norm of archaeological conjecture, for it may well demonstrate the most childish and impossibly stupid naiveté that man could ever produce.

In 5,000 years some chum archaeologist will discover a fragment of a quotation of David Hume in my house, and then persuade the whole deluded public that everyone in 21st century British Columbia espoused material atheism imported from Enlightenment literature.

Will a genuine inerrantist please stand up?

Sure, the dogma sounds very good and pious on paper, but I have come to doubt whether anyone truly believes that the scriptures are without error. Why? Because every time an inerrantist defies God's Word by sinning and breaking one of His commandments, she demonstrates a disbelief in the truthfulness of the scriptures. What else is sin really but making God out to be a liar, someone whose word cannot be trusted? "From evildoers come evil deeds" and we may know by the behavior of the inerrantist whether he believes that the scriptures are without error or not. As it stands, not yet one of them does.

Maybe it is time to put aside our pious talk and make room for God to authenticate the scriptures for us, in His own manner and on His own terms and timing. The psalmist says: "Teach me your decrees." This is what we need. God help us, and may His word be adored and accepted fully in us by Hiw own grace and patience.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Striving for New Thoughts about Masturbation p.2

In the next few months I am hoping that the Good Lord will instruct me more on the ethical problem of masturbation in the Christian life. I know that posts like these may cause alot of pious heads to turn, but it is a subject that is far too rarely discussed in youth groups and sunday morning sermons. The best I hear from pastors is," Ummm welll....uhhh I don't recommend it but....ummm, it's between you and God." In other words, I don't have a clue what to say and so I am pushing you into the subjective world of "you and God" (whatever that means!!!). This will not do for an activity that raises such profound doubts in the minds of young fellas like me. The more pastors equivocate on this issue the more young men will equivocate, and pretty soon kids will be masturbating left right and center at the offense of their vacillating consciences. But Zwingli argued that the conscience is to be moved towards certainty, not uncertainty (article 48 of the 67 articles). Paul also agrees to this when he says: "Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." (Rom. 14:5b)

If you read this post, say a prayer that God will afford me a copious measure of grace and wisdom through Jesus our Savior, in order that I may come to a right understanding on this matter and in turn "teach others to obey" what Christ has truly commanded of us.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Two sides of Augustine.

Augustine the feminist: "For at that time- I mean between the second and third Punic war- that notorious Lex Voconia was passed, which prohibited a man from making a woman, even an only daughter, his heir; than which law I am at a loss to conceive what could be more unjust." (De Civitate Dei 3.21)

Augustine the realist: "It was then that iron bedsteads and expensive carpets were used; then, too, that female singers were admitted at banquets, and other licentious abominations were introduced." (De Civitate Dei 3.21)

Scarcely within a page of each other as well!

Just in case my legions of readers are wondering.

The reason I have not posted for awhile is because my soul has been engaged in a merciless battle with the female species (actually, one in particular) and I have not walked away without critical wounds. Augustine has a number of phrases that are fitting about my embittered mind, so perhaps I will share them at the appropriate time.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Canadian Politicians Should Be Reading Psalm 9 Daily.

"The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The LORD is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God." (15-16, NIV)

If they knew this and didn't despise the Lord of lords, we would be established as a nation forever in his sight and would be raised to the heights on the Great Day of the Son of Man. But alas for us, we wickedly formulate laws and decrees without fear of God or respect for his Word, pompously thinking that "God has forgotten, he covers his face and never sees" (ps 10:11). Where else can Canada go but to the depths of Sheol? Though we stand strong for a thousand years, we have to do with a just God who will repay us in due time. Far greater, wiser, expedient empires have lasted longer than us and still fallen before the LORD in his wrath (Rome, Babylon, Persia, Assyria, Egypt, Judah, Israel and so on). Our day will come too.

Questions I've been Mulling Over...

Is higher criticism just a big aura of vaporized, pestiferous poo or is there something sustainable to be gained from it?

Do archaeologists tremble at the Word of God?

If Schleiermacher were alive today, would he feel much gratitude for where the liberal tradition has ended up?

Is Canada capable of producing good theology?

Is there such a thing as a church that preaches something other than works-righteousness?

Since the gospel is true, why is everyone so miserable?

Can you take an unhappy theologian seriously?

Is coffee the analogia entis that not even Karl Barth could overcome?

Have atheists ever drank coffee?

If they have, does this mean that Karl Barth is right?

Why did Canada spend over 500 mil for an olympics festival filled with drunkeness and dissipation but only 100 mil for Haiti's earthquake?

How many bad things happen to people in Canada due to our legislated approval of homosexual marriages?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Preaching Grace.

I grew up in the church. I can remember attending services since I was four. Heard countless sermons from countless individuals. Precious few of them preached about grace.

Why is grace always avoided in sermons? The pious talkers and holiness men have seen presumptuous Christians and used this as an excuse to despise grace in their sermons and preach wrath. The liberal floosy-woosy preachers like to think that they talk about God's love but always resort in the end to instructions in moral development. The Emerging Church has its spiritual disciplines, the Mennonites have their Sermon on the Mount and the Reformed have their endless and wretched "tests" to see whether you are truly in the faith. No one talks about grace. And if it is mentioned at all, it is usually as an embaressing afterthought to a lesson on how to make yourself more pleasing to God, or even as a rebuke so that you can go home feeling awful about having not responded adequately to God's grace. Sometimes an impatient grace is taught, as if God has unmerited favor but is really high strung and uptight about you using it properly to fulfill His Law.

The sense I mostly get with preachers is that they think the Law of God is more important than the Gospel. And of course the fruit of this is endless bad behavior in the congregation, because what the preacher doesn't realize is that the Law of God has no power to change a person. Only grace can do this. In the end they perpetrate a continuous cycle of preaching more Law and less grace (thinking this will abolish sin) as the congregation grows colder and colder and colder. Finally there is no joy left in the audience but a cold and dishonest piety on the outside and a flaming and wretched sinful disposition on the inside.

The Letter kills.

The Law brings wrath.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A dialogue between a Lutheran and a Wrightian on Paul.

Just wrote this up now. Hope you enjoy it. I tried to be as neutral as possible but it is a very difficult thing to do when the Lutheran understanding of scripture so vastly outweighs the Wrightian:

Marc came across two of the college students in a local tavern, and- being in a sour mood- decided to sit down across from them. Something about the negative emotions (be they bitterness, anger, anxiety or hatred) have a way of moving the soul to seek company. And it is never that the company possesses some immanent potential to change one’s mood, but that one truly wishes this would be the case and will act as if it were so (albeit indignantly).
The two students were heatedly discussing a text from Galatians, in a world of rhapsody and intellectual conviction that always replicates history but never produces history. Proud youth. Stupid youth.

“I just cannot see how you could attribute such weight to the mere shells of the subject matter and miss Paul’s point all together!”

“Shells? You moron. Circumcision and Sabbath days are the very markers that would keep Gentiles from experiencing God’s grace in the first place!”

“You and your wretched boundary markers! Enough. The whole of the law is a boundary marker, and not to Gentiles only but Jews. If you had read a page from Romans you would know this already. “

“ And this is my problem with you, you discuss the subject of Law as if it is some painful, evil thing that is an inconvenience to both God and man. “

“Of course it’s an inconvenience! Anything that must be added to check transgression is an inconvenience. Spanking my child is a freaking inconvenience. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s right.”

“You’re at it again! Read Psalm 119 and see what I mean. The law isn’t just a cudgel to beat sinners over the brow with. The Jews would have never taken it that way. It was a gift from God to them…something to delight in, to mull over, to keep as precious.”

“I’m glad you’ve introduced the factor of Jewish reception to your Ebionitic orgy. While we are on that subject, might I take you- say- through the whole of the Jewish history in Scripture from the reception of Law to the time of Christ? I’m sure you’d love to see the affection and adoration your Jews poured out towards their law and how well they kept it.”

“Never so poorly as to be outside of God’s covenant faithfulness.”

“Never so well as to avoid fire breaking out from heaven, pestilence, famine, disease, raiding parties, plagues, and exile.”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Robert Cargill on Gay Marriage.

His post is worth a careful read. Mr. Cargill points to various systems of conduct derived from the scripture that we valued in the past (ie. slavery, prohibition against divorce, male teachers only) and reminds us all of the shame we feel now in having lived under some of them. Oughtn't we to be ashamed now of the way we are dealing with the homosexual issue?

The problem with Mr. Cargill's post is that it neglects to tell us precisely how we are to discern a culturally bound word in scripture from an eternal word. I finally fear that all of the scriptures he references were never meant to be taken as time-bound, but the type of word which Christ would honor with the promise: "These will never pass away."

The slavery passages he mentions, for instance, do not need to be "gotten over." Why? Because in absolutely none of them does the writer command or condone slavery. Rather, he is inculcating a right Christian attitude within the circumstance of slavery (ie. "love your enemies" which I doubt Mr. Cargill would call a cultural precept). I am also aware of a scripture where Paul outright says that if a slave can win his freedom, he should.

The passages on divorce are not time-bound but part of the great rock which is the Word of Christ, or his strange work of instructing us in Law. I fail to see why anyone should "get over" this ethic.... indeed my church hasn't. Divorce and remarriage is still normatively verboten.

Female preachers? No one needs to get over condemning this unless it can be proven that the Apostle was only addressing a particular situation (which is doubtful).

There is nothing to get over in opposing gay marriage. It is forbidden by scriptures and we all do well to stand by them (in God's radical mercy alone). Finally, the only true and lasting conduct that everyone should be ashamed of, that everyone must "get over" is scoffing at the words of Christ and rejecting them for the currency of our time-bound and manifestly foolish culture.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Israel's high places.

There were quite a few of them. Evidently Israel had no time for the Deuteronomic commandments against worshipping their God in more than one place. They also took no heed of the disastrous war that almost resulted from the Trans-Jordanian tribes building an "altar" in Geliloth (Jos 22).

I realized the other day that various sacred sites for Israel's worship can serve as cool symbols of the way the modern intelligentsia worships God.

Laish corresponds with the Redaction critics, who were "unable" to accept their conservative theological allotment and instead descended on a peaceful and unsuspecting scripture..with grievous damages ensuing. The golden calf that was erected here by Jeroboam is a sufficient emblem for the bovine god that the critics worship in the place of the One True God.

Jerusalem corresponds with the New Perspective on Paul, which has adequately defended "Israel's story" but cannot go further.

Alright, I had some good ones for Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba but I forgot them. Maybe I'll jot them out later.


I've trained Jensen to detect and destroy any Bonhoefferolaters that come into the home. The cat on the left issued a "meow" that sounded suspiciously like "costly grace!" and Jensen (the good Lutheran/Mennonite that he is) was right on it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On the difference between the Gospel of John and the Synoptics.

When I spend time with my friend Richard I talk like a philosopher.

When I am with my sister I speak with no small measure of giddiness and loquacity.

When I worked construction I spoke like a moron.

At the restaurant I talk like a typical youthful ignorant.

All of these modes of speech profoundly differ from the others, and yet each is appropriately and truthfully adapted to the occasion of the friends or co-workers I am with.

So why the heck are we making such a big stink about the way Jesus speaks in John and the way he speaks in the Synoptics?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Communion of Saints in the Protestant Church.

It is reprehensible, but it is true. We mock and jeer the Roman Catholics for their intricate system of saints, calling their practice idolatrous and abominable. Meanwhile, when trouble comes upon us (heck, even in plain old good times) we bypass the worship of God and go straight to a book by Karl Barth or Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Our theology is not made up of the praises of Jesus Christ and his glorious word of salvation, but in the adoration of mere men and endless meditations on their works. The apple never falls too far from the tree, and I suppose that such will be the state of things so long as we measure out our stern judgments to the Catholics without so much as poking a stick at our own devious hearts.

God and Father, may you help us all, and most especially me!