Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What I would say to Yoder if he were still alive.

"Physician! Heal yourself!"

Yes you, Yoder. With your characteristically provincial arrogance you denigrate the whole gamut of political rulers to the pagan; as demonic powers that are ordered by God and need to be held in check by the church. My presumption is that you understand the demonic and the pagan very well, because you, a married man, fooled around with your students in the most swinish and demonic manner. Might I remind you of our Lord's words about adultery in the Sermon on the Mount, or the saying in Mark about that which truly makes a man unclean? Here's a reminder: it wasn't taking up the sword or running for president. It was sexual immorality. But you don't need a reminder about the Sermon on the Mount, you who argued so blithely for the Christian's ability to faithfully keep it. Oops, I guess you fucked up on that one. And now we have a whole generation of people who ignore the fact that you were a slut in professor's garb, telling their consciences that your ethical paradigm somehow works in spite of you. This must make you so proud! Do as I say and not as I do! But here's my theory, Yoder. I think you failed in your own program because your program was a massive failure. I think the Luther you pretended to understand had a much more consistent idea of what Jesus was getting at than you think he did. I think your own willful sexual perversions attest, one by one, to the very notions of law and grace you so desperately slandered against, which you SO DESPERATELY needed.

Praise be to you Yoder, yes praise be to you! Thanks for continuing to deceive generations and generations of Mennonites into believing a skewed, wishy-washy, diluted, selective gospel that really looks more like some form of pathetic Law. You are indeed radical, Yoder. You are radically stupid. My biggest prayer is that people would realize this and stop erecting you in the throne of their hearts like a deaf and dumb Baal.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Psalm 149: Yes Christians, Violence.

"May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all the saints." (v.6-9)

Whatever dynamic relation the New Covenant inaugurates with the Old, whatever Jesus meant when He said "You have heard...but I say to you," whatever occurred with God's own command on the cross (Eph.2:15), one thing that can never be said about the Law is that it was evil, or required evil behavior of its subjects.

Pacifists who imply or straight out say that "war is always evil," are blasphemers. Pacifists who shilly-shally and admit the occasional justice of war but expect some subjective attitude of shame, sadness, mourning and the like to accompany its participants are poor exegetes.

What we learn from the above Word of Jesus (yes modern scholars, the Second member of the Trinity was not strangely absent in the deliverance of the Law and Prophets, go snivel in a corner you feckless heretics) is that the carrying out of God's sentence against the nations via warfare is the GLORY of his saints. It is their honor, their dignity, their joy.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

No, Jews don't have their own pathway to God.

"I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins." -Jesus (John 8:24)

And, as if that wasn't clear enough: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." -John the Baptist (3:36)

Or for those false teachers who revoke the gospel of John as some mythical piece of apocrypha, from Luke:

"I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God." (12:8-0)

"...he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." (10:16)

And from Mark: "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (8:38)

So Paul can say: "What Israel sought so earnestly it DID NOT OBTAIN, but the elect did."

Jews do not have their own pathway to God because they refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. They deny that he died on the cross for the sins of the world, and that he rose from the dead. They deny that He is Lord of all. They do not confess Him and do not believe in Him. And, inasumuch as the law, the prophets, and the psalms testify primarily to the gospel of Jesus Christ, they have rejected the oracles that were entursted to them.

And so we may repeat to modern jews the very question that was put to them in the first century: "If you believed Moses, you would believe Jesus, for Moses wrote about him. But since you do not believe what Moses wrote, how will you acknowledge what Jesus says"?

God's preferential plan for Abram, a rich man.

"So Abram left, as the LORD had told him....He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there." (Gen. 12:4-5)

When God calls Abram, he already owns people. I can't boast that about myself, but the liberation theologians mentioned earlier would certainly target me as belonging to the class of "the rich." Abram far surpasses the objects of their ire. And were their ire based on truth, it would follow that God would overlook rich Abram and choose some trodden down poor woman from a modest caste in India to begin the creation of His inheritance.

You don't have to be a snooty Wrightian to appreciate the importance of God's covenant with Abraham. It's a scriptural milestone. In fact, the exigencies of its interactions form the prophetic basis for justification by faith alone, as we see in Rom. 4, Gal. 3, and Heb. 11:8-10. The Gospel.

Abram, with all of his possessions and slaves, is justified by God and becomes the justified man par excellence.

Philosophy can be so abysmally depressing.

"As for time, which it is to be presumed would constitute, as the counterpart of space, the material of the other part of pure mathematics, it is the existent Notion itself. The principle of magnitude, of difference not determined by the Notion, and the principle of equality, of abstract lifeless unity, cannot cope with that sheer unrest of life and its absolute distinction. It is therefore only in a paralysed form, viz. as the numerical unit, that this negativity becomes the second material of mathematical cognition, which, as an external activity, reduces what is self-moving to mere material, so as to possess in it an indifferent, external, lifeless content." -Hegel (The Phenomenology of Spirit, p.27)

As I said, depressing. You may catch the gist of what Hegel is saying in this paragraph after reading it, word-by-word, ten or eleven times. You may even feel exhilirated for having uncovered something profound and worthwhile. But your heart will then tell you that the true essence of this paragraph will not be gleaned until it has been rightfully connected to the preceding observatons and assertions, until the whole shines through the parts. This might take a lifetime.

I think Hegel is worth studying because I am arrogant. I don't like coming across things that I don't understand.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

C Hassell Bullock's terrible christology

Unfortunately christology is not a strong point for Old Testament scholars (evangelicals are by no means excluded). The following snippet is taken from my review of C. Hassell Bullock's work on the Psalms for the Encountering Biblical Studies series:

One point of criticism that must be ventured against Bullock’s book on the psalms is its overemphasis on the historical principle. As he explains on page 183, “History is very important to god, and any vision of a future that supersedes history is unrealistic.” Accordingly: “The historical element remains the control that draws a circle around the interpreter and restricts him or her within a method that does not permit a mere reader-response hermeneutic” (p.15). So convinced is Bullock of this hermeneutical rule that he relegates the figure of Jesus to a “messianic” concept that barely figures in the Psalms at all (cf. p.183). For anyone who believes what the New Testament (the Word of God!) has to say about Jesus and his relation to the older writings, this will not do. The gospel of John quite simply calls Jesus YHWH (8:58; cf. 1:1, 1:18, 10:33, 12:41, 20:28). Since this is true, it follows that when the Psalms speak about YHWH, they speak about Jesus. The whole of the Psalter becomes then a proclamation of the being and doing of Jesus the Christ, quite apart from messianic expectation (although this figures too, and that far more prominently than Bullock is embarrassed to admit). By stressing history at all costs, Bullock stands on the verge of making the Son of God and his gospel a contingent principle (“the idea of the Messiah arose out of the debris and ashes of history scattered over the hapless eras of Israel’s past…” from p.183). Such naturalistic thinking does not square well with what the scriptures teach, and it verges on blasphemy. History will ever remain in thrall to the Christ who is the “alpha and the omega… the beginning and the end” (Rev.22:13).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A book review on that heretic Miroslav Volf's Magnum Opus

Exclusion and Embrace, written by Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf, is an attempt to flesh out and expound "the tension between the message of the cross and the world of violence..." (10). The book in actuality is a compilation of diverse themes, stretching from the place a Christian ought to occupy in the world to the question of pacifism to the proper understanding of gender identity. Much could be said in appraisal of this work, but for the sake of brevity we shall limit ourself to two inter-connected issues.

First, in the fourth chapter, a surprising assertion is made which demands a response: “A human father can in no way read off his responsibilities as a father from God the Father" (171). As Volf explains a few sentences earlier: "For God to be the model of masculinity one must first project maleness onto God and then use the projection to legitimize certain allegedly specifically male characteristics and activities." And because the concept of father is specifically male, it follows that it is a human projection rather than a divine revelation of God in se. Yet Volf freely admits that all gender ascriptions in the sacred scripture pertaining to deity are “projected onto God” (176, pp.2). The title “God the Father” is (from his viewpoint) then a human projection, for it is gendered. But if the title comes from the creaturely sphere, it should have no trouble linking up with the creaturely sphere of human fathers! In other words, a human father should legitimately read off his responsibilities from God the Father, because he has met with the ideal of fatherliness from the realm of human ideology! There is no eternal divide! This is, at least, the presupposition of Volf along with his ceaselessly steady concatenation of Postmodern yesmen. We on the other hand do not see it as the Protestant mandate to make such avant-garde calculations about the Eternal Name of God. With all due respect, it seems that Volf's shameless ability to tell us what we can learn from the gendered language of God in scripture and what we cannot is nothing but infantile tampering. If the Haustefeln of the New Testament can freely link husbandry with Christ's relation to the church, and Master/Slave relations with the Divine Mastery of Christians (cf. Col. 4:1, Eph. 5:22-33), it is no exegetical stretch to imagine that the Fatherhood of God has something normative to say about real, human, flesh-and-blood fathers. Volf has an agenda to bear on this subject that is deconstructive, or destructive. It seems apparent that he would rather teach us what our itching feminist ears wish to hear in place of the sacred truths of scripture, which cannot be added to or subtracted from.

In terms of the usefulness or relevance of Volf's work, we can only add the pointed question: from what context? From the context of the world and the way it speaks and acts? Of this we may heartily affirm. This book makes it quite clear that Volf is far more at home in the sayings and writings of postmodern philosophers and sociologists than he is in the sacred scripture. Volf is not afraid, for instance, to reject scripture altogether when it does not agree with his cultural milieu. This is admitted more or less by him on p.182 when he says that the scriptural words and commands pertaining to men and women are "not divinely sanctioned models but culturally situated examples" and thus of "limited normative value in a different cultural context." How convenient! The plumb line for constructing right gender identities is not what the Word of God unequivocally says, but what one Luce Iragaray demands when she fulminates against all "oppositional logic of the same" (cf. p.176, where the phrase is taken up and never explained). Perhaps there will come a day when it is not culturally palatable to speak of equality between male and female? Shall the scriptural words of hierarchy resume their divinely-sanctioned normativity and so-called "egalitarian" texts like Gal. 3:28 be pushed to the periphery? Probably. Like the truth and memory and history discussed in ch. VI which is so subjective and tenuous, Volf presents us with a Bible that is as flaccid as meat glue and about just as nourishing. Sadly, it must be asked whether his God (or should we say his Feuerbachian projection of the postmodern communal ideal?) is much better.

If someone is setting out to embrace a work of theology that actually possesses something of substance, we recommend the exclusion of Volf's work.


A christmas wish

My christmas wish is that yoderians, liberation theologians and post-structuralists would all perish from the face of the earth. "May sinners vanish from the earth, and the wicked be no more!" (ps.104:35)

God's financial impartiality: A few heads of covenant.

"King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth....Year after year, everyone who came [to speak with him] brought a gift-articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules." (1 Kgs.10:23-25)

Solomon is a fantastic scriptural example of a man (born in wealth, actually literally the benchmark of wealth by any standard) whose riches did not impede or counter God's purposes. Actually, before Solomon was even born God spoke of him to David: "I will raise your offspring up to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my love will never be taken away from him." (2 Sam.7:12-14) And the scriptures go on to say: "The LORD loved him; and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah." (12:25)

To the LORD's choice of Solomon we owe the temple, the perpetuity of David's royal line, the golden age of Israel, and in equal importance WISDOM. "Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and search out and set in order many proverbs." (Ecc.12:9)

These scriptural evidences speak for themselves.