Monday, March 14, 2011

I am an idiot.

I have had the good fortune of discovering that in divers ways this last month. Endless stupidity, ignorance, delusional, and futile thinking. Theological ineptitude, hardness of heart, coldness, empty words, delighting in my own opinions etc.. etc...

God grant that I may not write a book until I am fluent in ten languages, wise, slow to speak, quick to listen, sparing in my words, loving, gentle, irenic, and thoroughly versed in nearly everything that has been written before me on the putative subject. Even then, perhaps, God grant that I might not write at all. As if the world needs another blabbering idiot.

Was the Japan earthquake caused by God?

Yes. It makes no sense to say, "God allowed it to happen."

Amos says, "If Disaster falls on a city, has not God been at work?"

Isaiah reports God saying, "I work weal and I work woe."

The issue isn't whether God caused it, but why. And the answer is not given to us; at least as far as I am aware. This may very well be another Jobean dilemma.

If you become a Christian, can you expect wealth and health?

Not a chance.

Paul says as much to the new Gentile believers in the book of Acts, "Through many hardships we must enter the kingdom of God."

Jesus says, "Anyone who does not take up their cross daily cannot be my disciple."

Sometimes I feel pretty fortunate that my only hardships pertain to sickness. Can't really imagine what life would be like in the shoes of some of the 1st century Christians. Time and chance happen to them all.

Although I suppose, in a sense, you can expect health and wealth if you convert. Just be patient...when you die, my goodness, you'll have Thomas Aquinas' beatific vision, Augustine's intellectual/spiritual worship of the Trinity, Luther's "show us the Father!" and N.T. Wright's "New Creation" all packed into one. The claims latent in the revelation of eternal life are staggering. But first, the misery!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

They all get Barth wrong.

"And yet I should be altogether misunderstood if my readers refused to credit me with the honesty of, at any rate, intending to ex-plain the text [of Romans]." -Karl Barth (Romerbrief, ix)

This fact is overlooked by so many who purport to know something of Barth. I won't name names.

In actuality, the Romerbrief gets us closer to the heart of Paul than most commentaries. The reason being is that Barth felt himself loyal to the wording of Paul. He wanted to speak with Paul. Many of Barth's critics assume that this cannot be the case for exegesis. Ironically, a quick survey of their own works can only lead one to the conclusion that they wish to speak at Paul.

Leviticus and Sex.

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." (Lev. 20:13)

That homosexual activity is both abnormal, detestable and wrong is well attested in the ancient world.

The point of the levitical command is stated at the end of ch.20: "You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own."

Today the church accomodates itself to the sexual practises of the nations. In so doing it has made a statement: we are not set apart by God, and we do not belong to Him.

Exodus and Sex.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's wife...." (20:17)

Sexually fantasizing about your neighbor's wife, or even simply envying your neighbor because his wife is the essence of perfection, is a sin of unbelief. It stems from the futile thought that God as Creator, as your God is incapable of producing a woman whose qualities exceed that of your neighbor's wife. It is a delusion, and it forms in the mind based on a conscious and initial choice to reject God as God.

Genesis and Sex.

"Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her." -Jacob (Gen. 29:21)

As fitting a reason as ever for wanting to get married. Tobit gets it all wrong when it condemns sexual desire. We should listen to Jacob rather than some deuterocanonical pseudepigrapha.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Does God get intimate with those He loves?

"Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine." (Ezek. 16:8)

Things to look forward to this Summer.

I'm a bit of a Zinzendorfian. I think God reveals his glory and his judgments in the beauty of the seasons, and the transcendence of the mountains. God always has something particularly special to give us, His children, each season. For winter it is usually depression and melancholy, but the arrival of summer....well now:

"See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come." (Song of Solomon; 2:11-12)

Ohhhhh yeahhhh.

1. Romance.
2. Evening fires.
3. Swimming in lakes.
4. Laughter.
5. Music and singing.
6. Kissing.
7. Adventure.
8. Swimshorts and bakinis.
9 Road Trips.
10. Cottage excursions.

All of this and more. Oh what happiness! Thank you Jesus!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Does Jesus reveal a non-violent God?

I'll let the parables answer that question for me:

"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them- bring them here and kill them in front of me" (Lk. 19:27; the Parable of theTen Minas. This parable is actually refering to Jesus, not God the Father.)

"What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others." (Lk. 20:15b-16a; The parable of the Tenants.)

"In anger his master turned him over to the jailors to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed." (Mt. 18:34; The parable of the unmerciful servant.)

And, lest anyone doubt that Jesus is actually making a theological point in the above verse: "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (18:35)

"The son of Man will send out his angels, and they will....throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mt. 13:42; The parable of the Weeds explained. Cf. also 13:47-50)

And so on and so forth. There is lots more where this came from, so don't be shy to ask me if you want extra scriptural evidence.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wrightian works-righteousness

"The result is that when somebody then lives the kind of life which in Christ is honoring to God, it isn't that they are earning their final justification by their own efforts; it is already given; it's a datum; it's part of who they are in Christ from the moment they believe and are baptized. Rather it is the Spirit working in them, through them, so that they are freely choosing to do what the Spirit wants them to do." N.T. Wright (

The problem with your soteriology, Mr. Wright, is that it smacks of catholicism. It has nothing to do with Reformation theology, despite your protest to the contrary. John Calvin would rather cut his lips off with dull scissors than claim that God gives us "final justification" on the basis of deeds performed through an infused righteousness. For the Reformation project (and for anyone who feels compelled to take the New Testament seriously), a man is only ever justified by faith. Deeds can have as little merit for justification at the end than at the beginning. Jesus makes this perfectly clear when he states, "No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law..." (Rom. 3:20). Note the future tense. Wrightians have made a huge deal of the future tense in 2:13 to argue for a final justification on the basis of a life well lived. Why have they neglected to apply the same logic here?