Thursday, August 26, 2010

Perfectly Miserable.

That about sums up what I am right now, or if you prefer, psalm 88.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A thought.

"I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." (Mk 12:26b)

It would seem most out of place for God to reveal himself; not as the God of the dead, nor of the living, but of the non-existent. This, indeed, is what the modern sophist-historians and archaelogists would have us believe. And here too, the response Christ gave the Sadducees will find a fitting subject: "You are badly mistaken!"

It seems that as our reverence for the scriptures and the power of God grow, so too will our irreverence for the contumelious and unbelieving opinions of the sophists. They should all be kicked out of the seminaries, so they can teach their vile doctrines to atheists and humanists who have already committed to placing their certainty in skepticism (chew on that nut for awhile) rather than God.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The phenomenology of Christ in the face of an over-emphasis on his Jewishness.

Modern sophist scholars who pose as theologians of the Word regularly confine the activity, the life, the personality, the being of Jesus to the context of 1st Century, Second-Temple Judaic Palestine. With this historical springboard they immediately (and naively) assume full access to all theological and philosophical questions pertaining to Jesus, modifying or disparaging them at will. Those who do this have usually already jumped into bed with vain heresies (oweing in no small manner to the fact that orthodoxy belongs to a Hellenistic context, not a Jewish one!), be they a swift denial of Christ's resurrection in history, circumspection as to his miracles, his Incarnation etc..

In the face of this utter failure to "Let God be God" one would do well to apply himself a little to the topic of phenomenology ("being as it appears or is revealed", to use the definition given by philosopher Hazel E. Barnes).

According to Jean-Paul Sartre, "...the appearance [of an object] becomes full positivity; its essence is an "appearing" which is no longer opposed to being but on the contrary is the measure of it. For the being of an existent is exactly what it appears." (All remarks in brackets are mine).

To apply this to Jesus: that which he appears to be he actually is. But before the sophist counters by saying," Yes, and he appeared in 1st Century Nazareth as a circumcised, Torah keeping, Jewish Rabbi", I will extend the above selection of the passage from Sartre:

"Although an object may disclose itself only through a single Abschattung [appearance, or shadow], the sole fact of there being a subject implies the possibility of multiplying the points of view on that Abschattung. This suffices to multiply to infinity the Abschattung under consideration....But the appearance, reduced to itself and without reference to the series of which it is a part, could be only an intuitive and subjective plenitude, the manner in which the subject is affected."

Sartre elsewhere afirms in this passage that the being of an existent is the synthetic unity of the whole series of appearances (and possibilities of appearances) that it will make.

Getting back to theology, if we reduce the being of Jesus to the one appearance of his Jewishness rather then to the whole series of appearances (including who he was as a friend, a brother, a child...his physical and genetic make-up, his psychology, his hopes and aspirations, his telos, his spiritual origins, his intellect, his relationship to God, his relationship to Rome or Idumaea, what he revealed of himself on the Mount of Transfiguration, or to the men of the Decapolis, or to the thief on the cross) we have, according to Sartre, refused the infinite number of appearances given by each object (according to the premise that the act of appearing always requires a subject to whom the being appears, and the factor of a subject requires a multiplicity of appearances). As he explains: "...if the series of appearances were finite, that would mean that the first appearances do not have the possibility of reappearing, which is absurd, or that they can be all given at once, which is still more absurd."

The sophists I mentioned earlier (whether they know it or not) have inculcated a phenomenology of Jesus that is intrinsically self-defeating and poorly thought out. Jesus will always be more than just a Jew. And the statement: "Jesus was a Jew", if divorced from all of his other appearances as man, God-man, wise teacher, human, and all of the infinite actual and possible appearances that exist, will never suffice to sufficiently reveal his being. In the end this particular appearance, rather than manifesting being, has manifested "only an intuitive and subjective plenitude, the manner in which the subject is affected."

Nor is the above phenomenology atheistic or secular. It is also proposed and developed by Husserl (who was a committed Christian) and by Martin Heidegger (who was a friend of Bultmann, as everyone knows). Sartre favorably references both men in the section where these quotes are taken from (Being and Nothingness, 1-7)

Since the sophists always insist that they alone have a right to make accurate historical and theological descriptions of Jesus, we shall give them a taste of their own medicine and refuse them the right to dapple with phenomenology, even as it pertains to men of times past.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Interesting hermeneutical and theological observations from my Grandma.

Grandma Regier is almost 80 years old now and has been a farmers wife for most of her life. She still lives on the farm out here in Manitoba and enjoys theological discussions every morning. This morning in particular I was surprised by two of her statements:

"You know, we take the Bible to be the Word of God and believe all of it. But then you come to that passage where the donkey starts talking..."

I wasn't aware that grandma has been reading Rudolf Bultmann lately, but kudos to her for keeping up with the exegetical zeitgeist.

"Learning about the millenial kingdom troubles me. They say the harvest of crops will never end, and I don't like the idea of a never ending harvest."

Which is as sound a reason as you will ever find for choosing amillenialism instead. For the real farmers out there who do real farming, a harvest is just as much exhausting as it is rewarding. During the thick of it you may not be able to get any have to stay up as many days and nights as you can lest the rains creep in out of nowhere and diminish the profit. A never ending harvest is not a comforting thought to those who specialize in this industry. But of course, the pre and post-millers don't take this into account because they have likely never seen a farm.

Thank you grandma regier for demolishing the flimsy bulwark of american fundamentalist eschatology and all of the rife deception it has instilled in the church.

You need not read Virgil to understand that the true farmer is both wise and theologically adept. Just check out Isaiah 28:23-29.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ten reasons why we should respect Ken Ham.

1. Because showing proper respect to everyone is a commandment of no less than God Himself (1 Peter 2:17)

2. Because we are to love the brotherhood of the saints (1 Peter 2:17).

3. Because our failure to do this is an act of unfaithfulness to the Lord (Nu 5:6).

4. Because the small speck of Ken Ham's doctrinal and scientific aberrancy is not worth comparing to the redwood forest of heresy that protrudes from your own soul (works righteousness, belief in a spiritual rather than physical resurrection, denial of Paul's apostolicity, approval of grievous sexual sins, making Christ out to be a new Moses rather than the revealer of grace, soteriological pluralism, denial of the Second coming, denial of the destruction of the cosmos by fire, denial of justification by faith alone, endless idolatries towards theologians...take your pick).

5. Because showing respect for Ken Ham is just exactly what we would wish him to do for us.

6. Because even if he is the most reprehensible sinner alive, he has not yet matched Paul in being the chief of sinners.

7. Because he actually wishes to take the scriptures seriously.

8. Because love keeps no record of wrongs.

9. Because Jesus Christ died on the cross for his sins.

10. Because demonstrating grace to Ken may have more luck in producing the behavior you wish to see in him than fulminating cold blooded and malicious criticisms.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The salvific import of the law.

If it is true that no Jew ever believed that one could be saved by obeying God's law, why does Christ (a Jew) tell a fellow Jew that if he wants to enter life, he must keep the commandments of the Decalogue (Mt.19:20)?

The pattern of religion and the hidden gospel.

Writers influenced by the "NPP" (New Perspective on Paul) tend to think that the soteriological pattern of religion was essentially the same between Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity. In other words, Judaism has never taught a "works-righteousness" soteriology but has essentially been a religion of grace from day one. Obviously this thesis has far too many flaws to count, and has not gone unchallenged by scholars from various creedal backgrounds.

One simple loophole that we shall examine today is the motif of Paul's hidden gospel (D.A. Carson has a wonderful essay on this and similar things in the Justification and Variegated Nomism series).

"Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past...." (Rom. 16:25)

Obviously in this text both the gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ are understood to be revealed in a mystery that has been kept hidden throughout the ages. But of the content of this gospel can be contained within the word "grace" according to the apostolic kerygma (so Acts 20:24) , and this gospel has been hidden for long ages past, would it not follow that the grace revealed in the gospel was hidden before the time of Christ? And if such is the case, would this not also erect a vast disjoint between the soteriological understandings of ST Judaism and Christianity? This seems to be the scriptural teaching.

Finally, something decent from pop music.

Lily Allen seems like an intelligent girl. And unbeknownst to so many people who listen to this song because it sounds catchy, she is using the catchiness of pop music to make fun of pop music and the whole superficial pop industry.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Arrived in Winnipeg.

It took a lot longer than I expected, and this I will blame on the fatigue and depression I've been suffering (boo hoo, whine whine). As I drove through the vast and glorious prairies, it dawned on me yet again that no one has really set about to work out an aesthetic theology of the prairies. This is unfortunate, and highly unworthy of such a momentous segment of the Lord's creation.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A very excellant passage from Augustine.

An early doctrine of a civil righteousness: "Wherefore, though I have, according to my ability, shown for what reason God, who alone is true and just, helped forward the Romans, who were good according to a certain standard of an earthly state..."

On the righteousness of true worshippers of God: "But such men, however great virtues they possess in this life, attribute it solely to the grace of God that He has bestowed it on them- willing, believing, seeking."

The righteousness of faith juxtaposed with human righteousness: "But however much that virtue may be praised and cried up, which without true piety is the slave of human glory, it is not at all to be compared even to the feeble beginnings of the virtue of the saints, whose hope is placed in the grace and mercy of the true God." (De Civitate Dei, 5.19)

Augustine cannot help but spill forth good doctrine eloquently and salubriously, and he is rightly esteemed as a true interpreter of God's Word and a theologian and a doctor of the church.

Why the amendment to provide for Gay Marriages is Un-constitutional for Canada.

Very simple:

"Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:"

And lest someone counter by saying that "Whereas" here means "In spite of the fact" or "In contradistinction to", Merriam-Webster's dictionary mentions a second meaning: "in view of the fact that: Since- used especially to introduce a preamble."

The hermeneutical key for the preamble of our very own consititution is the supremacy of God and the rule of law. No more, no less. It follows that any subsequent interpretation of this document that violates said recognition is a false interpretation. And since any proposed recognition of homosexual marriages is a clear failure to recognize God's supremacy (note that the word supreme contains within its denotation the possession of authority and dominion), it follows that the legalization of gay marriages in Canada is un-constitutional and unlawful.

N.T. Wright on C.S. Lewis: De-Judaizing Jesus.

N.T. Wright has written a rather thoughtful piece on the late and very fellow Anglican lay-theologian C.S. Lewis, with particular emphasis on his well known Mere Christianity. You can read the entire article here:, with due credit given to Mike Bird for posting this on his blog.

Over the next few days I would like (God permitting) to post a few criticisms and general thoughts on the above essay. Tonight my thoughts will focus on Lewis' alleged De-Judaization of Jesus.

"Second, however, I find Lewis frustratingly fuzzy on heaven and immortality. He clearly believes in the bodily resurrection and the essential materiality of the ultimate future world, but—quite apart from the astonishing fact that in talking about Jesus he never in this book mentions his Resurrection—he persistently refers to “Heaven” in ways that go, to my mind, far too far towards Plato."

"I am well aware that some in our day, too, see the historical context of Jesus as part of what you teach Christians later on rather than part of how you explain the gospel to outsiders. I think this is simply mistaken. Every step towards a de-Judaized Jesus is a step away from Scripture, away from Christian wisdom, and out into the world of . . . yes, Plato and the rest, which is of course where Lewis partly lived. If you don’t put Jesus in his proper context, you will inevitably put him in a different one, where he, his message, and his achievement will be considerably distorted."

These two excerpts from Wright uncerscore-very lucidly- his concerns with Lewis' neglect of placing Jesus in a rightful Jewish context. Instead Lewis has given us a vista of Jesus that places us firmly in a Platonic context.

First of all, I cannot help but note a bit of irony in what Wright says. He treats Lewis here without giving enough heed to the wider context of what Lewis has said in his other writings. Take for instance the considerable attention rendered to Jewish context in the pages of Lewis' Reflections on the Psalms. Even the preface to this work opens up with a tantalizing contextualization of Jesus' attitudes along with those of the Desposyni: "I am sure the private life of the holy family was, in many senses, 'mild' and 'gentle', but perhaps hardly in the way some hymn writers have in mind. One may suspect, on proper occasions, a certain astringency; and all in what people at Jerusalem regarded as a rough north-country dialect." (Intro. iv)

Moving beyond the 10th chapter of this work where Lewis censures the sensational feats of allegorization rendered to the Psalter throughout the ages of the church, we land on his very sober treatment of "Second Meanings In The Psalms" in the 12th. The introduction begins thus:

"In a certain sense Our Lord's interpretation of the Psalms was common ground between Himself and His opponents. The question we mentioned a moment ago, how David can call Christ 'my Lord' (Mark 12:35-37), would lose its point unless it were addressed to those who took it for granted that the 'my Lord' referred to in Psalm 110 was the Messiah, the regal and anointed deliverer who woul subject the world to Israel. This method was accepted by all. The 'scriptures' all had a 'spiritual' or second sense. Even a Gentile 'God-fearer' like the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:27-38) knew that the sacred books of Israel could not be understood without a guide, trained in the Judaic tradition, who could open the hidden meanings. Probably all instructed Jews in the first century saw references to the Messiah in most of those passages where Our Lord saw them; what was controversial was His identification of the Messianic King with another Old Testament figure and of both with Himself."

It may well be that this entire passage is rife with Lewis' own naive attempts at historical conjecture, but what matters most to our present point is that Lewis is concerned enough to take a stab at historical conjecure. And on no smaller point than the Incarnation of Christ and its presence in the earlier Jewish writings! Thus it may be manifestly understood that Lewis places an under-appreciated weight upon the Jewishness of Jesus in the context of important theological questions.

Moving on to Plato, I think Lewis is correct to make full usage of hellenistic resources in his attempts to describe Our Lord. Why? Because God is not only a God of the Jews but equally of the Gentiles. Can it be anything other than ethnocentric hubris to insist that only Second-Temple Judaism and its milieu should have something important and lofty to say about the man from Nazareth? And if such is the case, then the author of the fourth gospel who "transposed events and put them in a strange light, drew up the discourses himself, and illustrated great thoughts by imaginary situations" (Harnack) and thus "can hardly make any claim to be considered an authority for Jesus' history; only little of what he says can be accepted, and that little with caution" should receive the greater bulk of Wright's condemnation, especially given his greater proximity to the real meal deal. But alas for both Wright's vituperations and Harnacks criticisms, the gospel of John is correctly received by the church as an infallible testimony to the life of Christ. And if the apostolic penmanship can take such liberties, so ought Lewis and so ought we.

Off to Winnipeg Today.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

William Stringfellow on Masturbation.

Ben Myers graciously notified me of this excerpt from Stringfellow:

The thoughts I shared with him I will share with you:

"I confess that I was not too impressed by Stringfellow's observations. Indeed, he already has taken the presupposition that the act of masturbation requires a sexual fantasy. As he basically admits, his theological qualms are not with masturbation itself but with sexual fantasy, and the reader is left to assume on faith that masturbation is the efficient cause of the above and thus guilty by association. This will not do. One might as well condemn push-ups due to the fact that many do them as a stimulus for a subsequent arousal and aberrant sexual experience."

Efficient cause does not mean primal cause.

I really didn't think Jim West could speak Italian until...