Saturday, December 25, 2010

What I expect this year shall yield.

"All of the LORD's carts overflow with abundance." (Ps.65)

Without doubt, I expect a very Zinzendorfian walk with the good Lord this year. No more muck and mire of the mind, no more repugnant thoughts and words and deeds. A peaceful, pietistic disposition and charity towards all. No longer the crude, stubborn and arrogant tongue-lashing. No Humean snideness, no Feurbachian theological projections, no incurvedness. Just a steady, bountiful and endless beholding of the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ. I expect music, and to grow in the talent of singing, yet not for the praise of man but the pure joy of God. I expect very confidently and eagerly the infusion of the Spirit of Adoption, so that I may cry "Abba!" more and "Judge!" less. My hunch is that the Lord's perfect and invincible love will spill forth from the heavens out of nowhere and with suddenness, blasting away every last trace of fear my being has held on to. Before me the future will only say," Eternal Life!". The past and all of its gruesome shame and guilt will be obliterated and blotted out before my very eyes, and the present will be ecstatic goodness.

Somehow, in the LORD's unfathomable wisdom, all of this will no doubt take place in a manner which smoothly avoids Karl Barth's charges of natural theology and works-righteousness. There will be more laughter, deeper love for enemies, and a true delight in my fellow man...even the least of men.

And to take the cake, the Lord may just have it in mind to return on some summer evening with a soft breeze, a gentle glow, a tranquil lakeside walk and the company of a few good friends. Nor will his return surprise and shock us in the least. Like the faithful virgins our lamps will be perfectly trimmed and overflowing with oil, and with bright faces we shall lift our heads to the heavens and say to the Christ," At long last friend! What...indeed WHAT took you so long?"

Then the year will be assumed into the everlasting kingdom of righteousness, and through the infinite grace rendered to us unworthy folk we shall hear our Christ say," I know you! come! WHAT has taken you so long?" And then we will embrace and laugh, and Jesus will make me a cup of coffee that doesn't suck...and after that who knows what. It will just be awesome.

Yes, my friends, the future is quite bright. Jesus has risen from the agony of death, and on that count alone we are invincible.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dilettante theology (and history) from Robert Cargill

"If (“Elohim“) does preserve an early plurality, it is from Canaan’s polytheistic past, and not due to any notion of a Trinity, which was a theological construct hypothesized in the first few centuries of Christianity to deal with the Arian-Nicene controversy." Via:

Robert Cargill attempts to school Mark Driscoll in this post (and does a good job of it). But in the end, irony wins out in the revelation of Cargill's own apalling ignorance of church history and Christian theology. First of all, calling the doctrine of the Trinity a "hypothesis" is a value-judgment rather than a fact. It is Cargill's personal (naive) opinion about the Patristic doctrine of God. Since Cargill prefers to treat the canonical texts as a panoply of contradicting theologies and ideologies developing over a slipshod span of Hegelian dialectical phases of history, he gets a little vicious when he sees people trying to teach a theology of the scriptures per se. But then, why not call his own rather bovine view of God (actually, the question remains on the table whether Cargill even believes in God) a hypothesis?

The word "construct" seems to imply that a bunch of men with bad consciences came up with the idea out of thin air and proceeded to inculcate it in their respective Alexandrian, Antiochene and Roman schools. The doctrine was actually stamped out over centuries of careful reflection and meditation on the scripture texts, debate, prayer and experience in worship (for a scholarly treatment of the matter cf. Thomas Oden, ST v.1, p.181-225).

Nor was the Trinity "constructed" to deal with the Arian-Nicene controversy. Tertullian (160-220 AD) already had a fully developed trinitarian theology in his day. It should be noted that he died roughly a century before there was such a thing as an Arian or a Nicene Christian. Earlier than Tertullian, we have all the basic materials of Trinitarian thinking in Irenaeus' Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, the letters of Ignatius, Clement of Rome (cf. To Corinth, 58-59) and so on. Athenagoras is particularly intriguing when he says," while men who reckon the present life of very small worth indeed, and who are conducted to the future life by this one thing alone, that they know God and His Logos, what is the oneness of the Son with the Father, what the communion of the Father with the Son, what is the Spirit, what is the unity of these three, the Spirit, the Son, the Father, and their distinction in unity..." A noteworthy article dealing with this matter can be found at Cargill is off in his estimations by about 150 years. As a distinguished archaeologist, Cargill shouldn't have to be reminded that making careless dates and estimations is a big no no.

All of this rather lamentable and childish pseudo-babble against the doctrine of the Trinity serves to furnish my thesis that archaeologists have absolutely zero credentials to deal with theological matters. They are pure dilettantes, and as such must either be ignored or rebuked. Or both.

Jesus and Paul.

Those who try to pit Jesus against Paul are scriptural newbs. They usually say things like,"Jesus' message was the Kingdom of God, and Paul's was all about Jesus." Silly, silly, silly!!!!

Paul says,"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?" (1 Cor.6:9)

Jesus says," Some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in HIS KINGDOM." (Mt.16:28)

Paul says,"I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal.5:21)

Jesus says," The son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of HIS KINGDOM everything that causes sin and all who do evil." (Mt.13:41)

Paul says,"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom.14:17)

Jesus says," All things have been committed to ME by my Father." (Lk.10:22a)

By these verses you may see that Paul often spoke of the kingdom of God, and Jesus often spoke of Himself. There is no either/or rule here. Those who say otherwise are eisegetes.

No, Bishop Robinson, the earlier 'mythological ascriptions' of God are not offensive to modern ears.

"For in place of a God who is literally or physically 'up there' we have accepted, as part of our mental furniture, a God who is spiritually or metaphysically 'out there'." (Honest to God, p.13)

The entire first chapter of Robinsons book goes into detail on this so-called modern stumbling block. Robinson thinks that modern man has no time for viewing God as a Person who exists above the earth or beyond the earth, and that terms like these are more of a theological hindrance than help.

Who cares what modern man thinks?!!! These terms are AWESOME!!!!

I know my modern man better than Robinson does, cuz I'm still alive. We aren't awfly grizzled about picturing God up in space. It doesn't grind our gears much. And if it did, we would need to smarten up.

When we send an astronout up into space, the rest of us down here say things like," He's up there somewhere." The referential language is not only symbolical....from a relative standpoint it bears literal meaning. That darned astronaut is really above us. Where's the offense? Where's the stumbling block?

And if God is omnipresent (ie. fully present in regions of space beyond the earth) why the heck are we in the wrong for saying," God is up there somewhere." He is up there, silly! He always will be. Astronauts are not the only modern entities that get the luxury of our spatial prepositions.

Moving beyond the doctrine of omnipresence, the symbolic importance of God's upness and beyondness remains in tact and necessary for today.

You have set your glory above the heavens. Ps.8:1

I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit. Is.57:15

"Am I only a God nearby," declares the LORD, "and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD.

All of these scriptural verses need no de-mythologising. They are easily understood and vastly important. They signify the sovereignty of God. To this day we still erect parliamental buildings on a slope higher than the surrounding buildings. Canada's government offices are situated on the bluffs of the Ottawa River, standing erect and high over Gatineau and Ottawa to the south. We all know what this means. No blockhead ever ponders the prominance of parliament and says," Gee, why the heck are those buildings on a higher plane than the rest?" The meaning is clear and immanent!

So too with God. I LOVE the thought of God standing transcendant over this pale blue dot, with the sons of God shouting for joy over his marvelous creation. The clouds are the dust of his feet.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A psalm to have continually in view when reading modern blasphemers (biblical scholars).

"They know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I said, 'You are gods;
you are all sons of the Most High.'
But you will die like mere men;
you will fall like every other ruler." (Ps.82:5-7)

And for kicks: "He who is pregant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment." (Ps.7:14)

And possibly: "He practices ungodliness and spreads error concerning the LORD." (Is.32:6)

More scholarly blasphemy.

"So our central question can indeed be answered negatively, and perhaps it should be. But not if the result is a far less adequate worship of God. For the worship that really constitutes Christianity and forms its distinctive contribution to the dialogue of the religions, is the worship of God as enabled by Jesus, the worship of God as revealed in and through Jesus. Christianity remains a monotheistic faith. The only one to be worshipped is the one God. But how can Christians fail to honor the one through whom it believes the only God has most fully revealed himself, the one through whom the only God has come closest to the condition of humankind? Jesus cannot fail to feature in their worship, their hymns of praise, their petitions to God. But such worship is always, should always be offered to the glory of God the Father. Such worship is always, should always be offered in the recognition that God is all in all, and that the majesty of the Lord Jesus in the end of the day expresses and affirms the majesty of the one God more clearly than anything else in the world." -James D.G. Dunn (via, bottom quotation of James McGrath's review

I don't even really know what to say in the face of this puerility. Not even John AT Robinson stooped this low in his remarkably low christology. I take it that James McGrath agrees with Dunn's basic conclusions, which also means that James McGrath cannot be taken seriously as a theologian or as a teacher of the word. Here are your gods, oh modern Protestants, here are your saviors. They can't even get their christ right. They present to you a savior who is mere physis and not the logos who became physis. There is no "I AM" here, to whom Abraham looked ahead and rejoiced. There is no Jesus who stood at the beginning with God, and who in very nature was God. Just a plain, old, home-grown human being. Oh men! Oh you men! How long will you spread this error with your endless and arrogant self-confidence? Do the creeds mean nothing to you you feckless heretics? You tout your Bible and shout "sola scriptura!" before going on to say: "John clearly felt free to attribute to Jesus words and sentiments that Jesus himself probably never uttered while on earth." In other words, the christology of John is a stumbling block to you and so you neglect it altogether. You don't have scripture, you have a truncated scripture which has been nicely cut up to shape your wretched sub-Arian theology.

Here's a task for you scholars. Go and read the middle recension of Ignatius' letters again. That's right, read Ignatius since what matters for you is history as opposed to scripture. Note how often he refers to Jesus as "God". I'll give you a reference to start with: To Polycarp, 3.2. Note how in all of his letters the controversies of the church's of Asia Minor have to do with Judaism, the flesh of Jesus, obedience or disobedience to the bishop's and presbyters, the relationship between the prophets and the gospels. In his letters the deity of Christ is assumed, not disputed. The virgin birth may have an element of controversy in the environs surrounding each church (cf. Smyrnaeans 1.1), but Christ's godhead goes uncontested and can be stated quite casually by Ignatius to all of the mixed congregations he writes to (many of which were founded by Paul or other apostles). Ephesus, Rome, Tralles, Magnesia, Smyrna, Antioch, Philadelphia...all of these congregations are the direct products of the apostolic missionary activity. And by the very start of the 2nd century they all have not one ax to grind with the divinity of Jesus. It floods their confessions. The Romans call Christ "Our God" (1.1) and the Ephesians "God come in flesh" (7.2) and the Smyrnaeans "the Eternal, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible" (3.2) and so on.

Christology of this fervor, "Jesus-olatry" of this intensity does not just arise in a vacuum. But where then, is the controversy? Where are you going to fix it? Earlier than 100 A.D? Sheesh, we're getting right back into the time of the apostles. So where are you going to place it? Some sweet spot in between the deaths of the final apostles and their fellow-workers (presbyters, deacons, elders, overseers etc..) and the beginning of the ministries of Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp? All the best to you. I wish you luck. Your theory would be completely without foundation and would be based on a lack of evidence.

Nor will it do these perverted arians any good to claim that the middle recension of Ignatius' letters are corrupted. Not even the likes of Adolf von Harnack said such things. Moreover, the longer recension which includes all of his spurious epistles has the lower christology! One would think it would be exactly the opposite if MR were brought up for dispute in this case.

If Jesus is God, as the church in Asia Minor along with its bishops, its writers and its confessions stated by 100 AD, heck, my best bet is concluding that the early church worshipped Jesus.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Et tu Barth?

'A mistake which is not justified by its respectable antiquity, and which Luther himself had a share in confirming, is that of regarding the Old Testament as a document, and, where possible, as the classical document, of a religion of works, and therefore, because all religion as such is a religion of works, of religion in general.' (KD 1.2; 310)

The ax I want to grind here is not Barth's comment on Luther (in the same excursus Barth goes on to speak of a corresponding strand in Luther's thought which finds infinite monuments of grace in the Old Testament), but his refusal to see genuine works-righteousness in Old Testament Judaism.

Paul states: 'So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.' (Rom.11:6)

I find Paul's "no longer" to be extremely intriguing. If I am reading him correctly, he seems to be presenting a time in theological history where works were THE normative modicum by which God credited men with righteousness.

An example of this would be the well-known verse about Phinehas in Psalm 106:30-31. 'But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked. This was credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come.'

Or perhaps the "because you have done this" in which the angel of the LORD blesses Abraham in Genesis 22:16.

Or the meaty saying of Jesus in the Synoptic gospels: "If you want to enter life, keep the commandments."

Or Paul's now-famous dictum: "but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous."

I think these verses amply support my view that Judaism was a religion of works-righteousness. The people under this covenant were expected to fulfill certain obligations if they wished to receive blessing, life, favor, deliverance, forgiveness, inheritance, land, healing etc....David could confidently say: "The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight." (2 Samuel 22:25).

The testimonies in the scriptures abound.

Anyways, Barth deserves an extremely respectful hearing. I look forward to reading every last page of exegesis he has on Romans and learning more about what he has to say on the matter. He certainly was not anticipating Sanders' theory of a linear pattern of grace throughout the scriptural history.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Challenge.

If it can be demonstrated that Constantine did something more gruesome than culling a nation's population down to a third of its size and authorizing a genocidal campaign against another nation, then I will consider calling him a tyrant.

Israel Finkelstein said," David for me is the David reflected in the later king Hezekiah, the David of Zacharias in the eschatological prophesies in which Jerusalem is burned but David is alive, the David who is the connection with the beginning of Christianity. In this sense, David is everything. If you want me to say it simplistically, I'm proud that this nobody from nowhere became the center of Western tradition." (National Geographic, December 2010, p.90)

If Finkelstein can say such things of the biblical David, I feel no guilt in a few high accolades for Rome's first Christian emperor.

Monday, December 13, 2010

King David is more controversial than Constantine.

And yet you don't see anyone whining about him, do you? All the codswallop hoopla is continually directed at Constantine and all of his so-called tyrannies. Christians today gripe and grumble about his legalization of Christianity before waxing eloquent about the beautious condition of the church prior to his political ascendancy. Those ungrateful folk are more than welcome to get fuzzy, nostalgic feelings about the days when Roman Emperors scarcely batted their eyelids at setting up Christians as human torches for their garden festivals.

Anyways, in honor of their ungratefulness I would like to remind them of the political exploits of King David. No one seems to bear a grudge against David, even though he:

-had intercourse with another mans wife (2 Sam.11:4)
-killed said man to cover it up (2 Sam.11:15)
-Attacked and decimated unsuspecting towns, killing both men and women and taking their goods (1 Sam.27:9)
-Culled the population of Moab down to a third of its size in one bloody sweep (2 Sam.8:2)
-Nearly wiped out the entire male population of Edomites (2 Kgs.11:15-16)
-Commanded a census which was directly responsible for the death of 70,000 people (2 Sam.24:15)

There is, of course, much more. But I think these suffice to balance the scales a little.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Many and the Few

I used to think that the tension between many being saved and few being saved was a tension between the gospels and Paul. I was wrong (it feels great to be wrong sometimes!)

"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Mt.7:14)

"I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." (Mt.8:11)

Scarcely a chapters distance between these two pericopes! Again:

"For many are invited, but few are chosen." (22:14). And: "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold..." (24:12)

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (26:28)

Interesting. Very interesting.

Friday, December 10, 2010


"A friend loves at all times...." -Solomon

Friendship is quite a tedious thing. It begins with the honeymoon phase. During this time there is no difficulty in conversation, interaction, laughter, intellectual banter....the person across from you is sheer delight. In these memorable moments your spirit fills with the tantalizing thought," Perhaps this is the friend I've been looking for." The honeymoon phase is like a fine cigar, a chilled white wine, or that aromatic and balmy breeze that occasionally touches the face in August. It is a decadence that takes flight after a few weeks.

Beyond this comes the cold, malicious drudgery of truly getting to know someone. As they are. All of their sinfulness, weakness, all begins to pop up to the surface as the exterior delights peel back. Whatever qualities and virtues they possessed have become a stench to the nostrils...sin and folly has this corrupting power.

Friendship blows. It means "associating with sinners". It means opening yourself up to be responsible and dutiful to a person who is sick. It also implies the risk of your own failure. What if you cannot live up to their needy expectations? What if your own folly gets the better of you...a sense of duty fades and selfishness sets in? What if you become degraded in their eyes?

The only truthful friendship is one which rests on the power of grace. Abstracted from this alien quality and all friendships are abominations.

More archaeologist lunacy.

Raphael Greenberg on using the bible as an authority for archaeological research: "It's bad for archaeology. What we're supposed to contribute is a point of view that isn't available from texts or preconceived notions of history...." (National Geographic, King David, p.90; Dec.2010)

This is all well and good. But then archaeologists have no right to whine and snivel when theologians and biblical exegetes pursue their method without making recourse to archaeology as a noteworthy authority. In other words, stop griping and groaning when a theologian discusses the covenantal implications of the conquest or the sinaitic treaty without paying heed to your endless demands for evidence in and amongst your beloved rock layers and potsherds. Truth is, theologians don't care. Nor should they. For the method of investigating the biblical testimonies of Israel's God has no time for naturalism. It cannot even be constrained by naturalism. The Word simply remains unfettered and unbounded by the so-called "neutral" observations of scientific man.

Archaeologists can have at it with their own field of study. But as soon as they wish to have their cake and eat it, someone's gotta speak up.

Why I am Opposed to Body Worlds 2

Alright, enough with the pseudo-philosophizing of the previous post. I disagree with Body Worlds because it assumes that the human body can, at a certain stage of its development or deterioration, become an object purely divorced from its spiritual referent and made to become a mechanism for entertainment. That the person who subjects herself to such a metamorphosis of purposes concedes to this means absolutely nothing to me. Women or men who concede to display the ins and outs of their bodies in pornographic films are no less culpable. They have internalized the objectification of their bodies for the procurement of cash on the basis of the sexual gratification of a stranger, who doesn't even know their first name. It is damnable behavior, all the more so given its concession by the acting subject.

People who tout the Name of God as Creator and claim a renewed appreciation for His handiwork as a result of attending a Body Worlds display miss the point entirely. You see, why not gratefully claim similar spiritually enriching moments in the close and aesthetic viewing of a womans fully exposed vagina or breasts? Is the act of a male penis entering beneath the labia majora any less a work of God's creation? It is more so, given its demonstration of the confluence of actualitas and feeling and psyche and physis and will and telos. These metaphysical components cannot be viewed or properly understood in the inspection of a dead body. Yet the church rightly criticises the modern libertines who invade the privacy of the forementioned putative act so they can get a boner. I launch similar critiques against the Ancient Near Eastern phenomenon of the shrine prostitute which, it may be said defensively, was a pure stimulant for cultic piety. All of this, including body worlds, is pure Eudaemonism. A distortion of the handiwork of God, a de-humanisation of the humanity, and, in the case of those who walk out of the show with the Name of Jesus on their lips, a blasphemy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why I am opposed to Body Worlds.

We live in a culture where truth has been reduced to a faciendum. Or in the words of Joseph Ratzinger: "The truth with which man is concerned is neither the truth of being, nor even in the last resort that of his accomplished deeds, but the truth of changing the world, molding the world- a truth centred on future and action." (Introduction to Christianity, p.63)

Concerns of metaphysical being and existence and body are not our concerns. To this day I personally fellowship with not a handful of atheists who consider the concept of metaphysics in general to be a jejune monument of the past.

But, as Jean-Paul Sartre diligently says: "If every metaphysics in fact presupposes a theory of knowledge, every theory of knowledge in turn presupposes a metaphysics." (L'etre et le neant, p.10). Our culture deceives itself when it thinks that it lives without a concrete metaphysic of being and existence and body. In the following I shall attempt to humbly disclose what this metaphysic is.

My observation is that the metaphysical ontology of our culture delegates the human body to what I will provisionally call a being-as-pure-object. We no longer believe that the body across from us inhabits any other region of being than pure unconscious usefulness. It is no longer an object wreathed in subjectivity, but merely a synthesis of materials set before us as potential tools. In order to prove this one need only observe the disposition of selfishness acted out in oneself or in others. Daily we choose to determine our relations to others depending on the degree to which they are useful to us. Our eyes fixate on the human standing to the side, and immediately we ask ourselves,"What shall this person render unto me". This questioning procedure can be done almost instantaneously, as one may note in a school girl who glances over the sea of faces in the cafeteria, whose eyes will only rest momentarily on the fellow with acne before formulating a foundation of judicative rejection and swiftly moving on to the next face. This whole structure of high school rejection depends on an immanent ontology of pure-object or pure-resource for its sustenance. Confirmation of the fact occurs three months later when the schoolgirl turns to the fellow with acne and mimics a display of affection and interest in order for her to obtain mathematical help from him.

I have much more to build on this, and will carry on the post tomorrow if the Lord wills it. We still haven't arrived at the coupe de grace.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How long is ineptitude like this going to go on?

Hi James: You seem to have missed my point, if I am reading you write [sic]. I most certainly am saying that the Christian's deeds, recorded in the book, do indeed matter to their final salvation, hence the warning their names can be erased from the book. -Ben Witherington

Via Cf. comment number 12.

Maybe that anonymous comment was falsely said in the name of Ben Witherington. You can find comments like these all over Witherington's writings anyway.

There is a word for saying that a Christians deeds matter to their final salvation: heresy. Plain and simple. I dare say you cannot be a true Protestant and think that "He saved us, on account of righteous things we have done." That is a distortion of the movement of scripture and thus a blasphemy.

Today in neo-protestant circles the so-called "shibolleth" is "judgment according to works". There are precious few times when I actually want to use the F word. Reading the writings of those who think like this is one of them.

To say that ones deeds matter to final salvation is like saying that the first justification wasn't good enough. There needs to be more. We need to touch up the work a little with our "responses" and our "faithful obedience", the latter two being a condition of entrance into the kingdom of heaven and thus a legitimate work that merits or even earns the eschatological kingdom (all with the help of the Spirit, of course, which still provides no firm guarentee of the final outcome). This is exactly what works-righteousness is. There is no getting around it. God apparently no longer justifies the wicked but the righteous. We have ourselves a new God (and thus an idol). We have ourselves a God who promises us Heaven on the basis, not only of faith, but of the obedience produced by faith, which btw, better be a pretty fricking spotless obedience if it is to at all impress God.

Have at it, you sons of Pelagius!

"Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."

There is your judgment, oh you righteous men who think that your final outcome will be weighed by your deeds. Good luck! Fan your faith into flame and quit stumbling, because if you do, you won't have any part of the law of Christ backing you. "If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker." Don't stop now! Are you certain that you are keeping all of the commands? Even the least of these? If you aren't, you are a feckless lawbreaker, and according to your own writings, lawbreakers will not inherit eternal life.

Friday, December 3, 2010

James Dunn and the Reformation

‘… we are now in a position … to restate a more rounded and richer and more biblical doctrine of justification. In doing so there is no call to set aside the often penetrating insights of Reformation and Protestant restatements of the doctrine. But we do need to complement them with a firm reassertion of the corporate and social implications of the full doctrine … ‘ Extract taken from cf. footnote no.2

Well said, Mr. Dunn. The question I put to you and the other so-called "NPP" folk is this: what historical evidence do you have to support your assertion that the "corporate and social implications" of Paul's justification doctrine have been neglected or left un-discovered in the history of the church? Where are you gleaning this from? How are you certain that your social interpretations of Paul are new?

It may do us little good to find the answer to these questions in Dunn, who admits at the beginning of the above-linked post that he is "no expert on Luther and that my direct familiarity with his writings is limited– his commentaries on Romans and Galatians, John Dillenberger’s Martin Luther: Selections from his Writings (Anchor Books; New York: Doubleday, 1961), and a little volume on his Table Talkedited [sic] by Henry Morley. Otherwise my knowledge consists of quotations and references in biographies, histories and theological studies referring to Luther in greater or less detail."

Really? Are you so certain, then, that Luther has neglected the social aspects of justification? How do you know? And is this the norm of your readings of earlier theologians? Luther is obviously only one Reformer among many. How much of Melanchthon have you read? Martin Chemnitz? Martin Bucer? John Calvin? Zwingli? Balthasar Hubmaier? Menno Simons? John Agricola? Melchior Hoffman? David Joris? Pilgram Marpeck? Hans Denck? Erasmus? Conrad Grebel? Hans Hut?

Has he made inroads into the Medieval theologians? Aquinas and Anselm? St. Bernard? What about the fore-runners of the reformation like Jan Hus, Waldo, and Jean Gerson?

Have you studied the Patristic writers? The Desert Fathers? The Papal bulls throughout the ages? How about Enlightenment theology? Have you read Karl Barth? Have you studied the sermons of the Puritans? Have you read fundamentalist writings on Paul? What about Protestant orthodox writers of the 17th and 18th centuries? Counter-reformation literature? Mystics? Liberals? Heretics?

Goodness. I doubt it. Which is also why I'm highly skeptical about the "newness" of the social dimensions spoken of by Dunn.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eight things Judaizing is NOT

1. One who believes and teaches that all Old Testament scriptures are God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness unto the completion of the Christian man of God is not a Judaizer (2 Tim.3:16)

2. One who believes that the Law of God- in a certain, decisively continuous sense with the Old Testament- is still normative, at least with respect to revealing guilt and demonstrating the perfect standard of right behavior (not to mention testifying about the righteousness of faith) is not a Judaizer (Jas 2:8-12; Mt.5:17-19; 3:20).

3. One who believes that everything written in the past was put down by God's will for the instruction of the Church is not a Judaizer (Rom.15:4).

4. One who believes that certain men of the Old Testament were truly given faith and thus serve as examples and witnesses to the Christian community (including their conquering of kingdoms, administering public justice, routing foreign armies and becoming powerful in battle...all of which occurred through faith) is not a Judaizer (Heb.11:33-34).*

5. One who believes that proper ethical systems can indeed be developed from the Old Testament scriptures, in certain cases even normatively, is not a Judaizer (1 Cor.10:1-11; Mk.2:25-26; 1 Tim.5:18-20).

6. One who believes that the whole of the work of God as recorded in the Old Testament is perfect, blameless and holy is not a Judaizer (cf. the New Testament).

7. One who believes that the rulers and magistrates of today are appointed by God with the administration of justice and the sword is not a Judaizer (Rom.13:1-7; Mt.5:21-22, 25-26; Ac.25:11).

8. One who believes that this work of God is good, holy, blameless, and in total agreement with the will of Jesus is not a Judaizer (Jn 6:38; Rev.15:3-4).

* I publish no.4 with some reserve and hesitancy. It may be that the scripture in Hebrews 11 is not meant to establish these acts of salvation history as repeatable. Nevertheless, they are certainly commendable.