Thursday, May 05, 2016

Nice, but what does it do?

It [prevenient grace] restores 1) a basic knowledge of God, 2) the moral law in the hearts of believers, 3) conscience, 4) a degree of free will, and 5) restraint against wickedness. Humanity is therefore made able once again to enter communion with God, but only as a response to God’s gracious invitation.— Reading the Way to Heaven, page 55

<idle musing>
Nice summary of what prevenient grace (the grace that "comes before") does. Salvation is the result of God's grace, but humanity has a part in it as a response to God's initiative. Our freedom is only possible because it is a restored freedom. But, and this is where Wesleyanism differs from Calvinism/Augustinianism, all humanity is given that grace. In other words, unlimited grace rather than apportioned grace.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Grace in Wesley

We're starting a new book today. It looks interesting; we'll see where it goes as we read it through. Here's the first excerpt, all the way in to page 53; this might be a short excerpt book; some books just don't lend themselves well to excerpting.
Grace is, in Wesley’s vision, what undergirds all of life. As Thomas Langford says about Wesley’s theology, “Grace is God’s active and continuous presence. Definitively expressed in Jesus Christ, grace covers the entirety of life: It creates, redeems, sustains, sanctifies, and glorifies.” Because of grace, Wesley can conceive of the Christian faith as having a certain purpose, or end, toward which everything points: “True religion is right tempers towards God and man. It is...gratitude and benevolence; gratitude to our Creator and supreme Benefactor, and benevolence to our fellow-creatures. In other words, it is the loving God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves.”— Reading the Way to Heaven, page 53

Monday, May 02, 2016

A healthy corrective

We have seen that the biblical cosmos seems to be spoken of as if it were animate—as if rocks and mountains and seas and stars were living creatures. I want to suggest that this emphasis can serve as a helpful corrective to our tendency to view the world as a lifeless machine.— The Biblical Cosmos, page 204

<idle musing>
That's the final post from this delightful little book. I highly recommend it; it's written in such a way that just about anyone can understand it—and loaded with excellent insight.
</idle musing>

In which Preston Sprinkle nails it

Just ran across a great post by Preston Sprinkle on a theoretical discussion about the old "killer at the door" scenario. Here's a brief excerpt, but please read the whole thing.
Me: Okay, so let me get this straight. A preprogrammed robotic human is breaking into my home with a gun. Any attempt to stop him without using violence is taken off the table, despite the fact that nonviolent attempts to apprehend bad people with guns does actually work in the real world. And in your “real world” scenario, I have quick access to a loaded gun in the house which happens to be no threat to my four children. I’m a pretty good shot but not that good of a shot. God exists in this scenario, but despite the fact that this God typically answers prayer, for this scenario, the heavenly phone’s off the hook. And this cyborg would rather kill me and my family rather than walk with $300,000. And this is somehow your real world?

NRA: Yes, yes, that’s the scenario. What would you do?

Me: I would pinch myself because I must be in a dream. Your supposed “real life” scenario is not the real world at all. It’s a world where Jesus is still in the tomb, prayer doesn’t work, a deistic god stands off in the distance, and the deception of power has clouded your Christian thinking. But my world, the real world, has a crucified Lamb, an empty tomb, and direct access to the heavenly throne which is more effective than 10 tons of C-4.

I don’t live in a theoretical world; I live in a world turned upside down by a God who justifies the ungodly and calls us to love our enemies.

<idle musing>
Amen and amen! Why is it that we have to cordon off God in these discussions? It's as if he doesn't really exist in our daily lives. Of course, maybe he doesn't for some people. I call those people practicing atheists...

Just an
</idle musing>

Friday, April 29, 2016

Toward the absence of being

Taking this approach further still we might perhaps consider evil, when portrayed in terms of watery chaos or sea beasts, as a tendency in creation to move away from being and form towards nothingness. Here I am picking up on Augustine’s teaching that evil is not a thing, a substance, but a lack in a thing, a privation. Evil is when good things fall away from their nature.— The Biblical Cosmos, pages 202–3

Thursday, April 28, 2016

God's ongoing creation

At a metaphysical level, the dragon motif also speaks truth. The biblical models of creation picture it as something that left to itself would collapse back into chaos. The world does not sustain itself or order itself. It is God who “in the beginning” ordered reality according to his Logos, thereby creating cosmos, and it is God who holds the chaos at bay from moment to moment by that same Logos. But the tendency towards dis-order is inherent in the world.

We might possibly wish to raise the discussion a notch and transpose this image into the philosophical categories of being. In that mode the sea represents non-being, literally no-thing. Read this way, the world in itself tends towards non-being, but God, through his Logos, is investing it with the powers of existence. God’s ongoing ordering of the sea then speaks of the world’s moment-by-moment dependence on God.— The Biblical Cosmos, page 202 (emphasis original)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

When people pray

It may be concluded that there are three situations in which a human being utters a prayer:
1. A case of actual distress in which a man, on account of the difficult circumstances he is in, addresses himself to a god in an emotional way.
2. A wish arising from the existing situation. The circumstances, however, are not so extreme as to occasion great emotion in the prayer uttered.
3. A general wish, which does not usually originate from the existing situation. In this case, the human being does not ask for a single definite action, but for a repetition of actions, or for a lasting state.—The Greek Imperative, page 99

Center or periphery?

It is also worth reminding ourselves that neither biblical nor Ptolemaic cosmologies understood the earth to be the most important part of the cosmos—the heavens took that role. (In fact, contrary to the modern myth, in the Ptolemaic cosmology that dominated the Christian Middle Ages, the earth was the least significant part of the cosmos, being located at the center, furthest from God’s heaven.)— The Biblical Cosmos, page 198

<idle musing>
It all a matter of perspective, isn't it? We think the center is the most important, but they didn't. The most important place was where God was/is. That's still true, but we don't acknowledge it...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kiss it good-bye

The relative decrease in the number of present imperatives in the Koine in comparison with Ancient Greek may be explained by two factors. In the first place, the present imperative of transformative (especially instantaneous) verbs is used only and exclusively when the speaker is excited. Apparently in those days a present imperative was more readily used when the action could be expressed by verbs that themselves denote duration or perspective. A present imperative is used only when the situation from which the order results is clear or has been made clear to the hearer. The subjective point of view from which the ancient Greek made his choice between the present and aorist imperative seems no longer to be known to the Koine. People are no longer able to voice the finest nuances of thoughts and feelings. Instead, they adhere to objective reality, and consequently express themselves more exactly, at least in this respect.—The Greek Imperative, pages 86–87

Throw it all out!

No modern Christian can say with any intellectual integrity that the biblical view is literally correct. It is not. But does that mean that we simply cast it aside as a disposable husk? No. I propose that this biblical view was not merely a phenomenological perspective on how things appear from our location on the surface of the earth; it was also a means of divine communication. The notion that the earth matters to God is an important part of Christian theology. Ancient cosmology understood that centrality in a physical sense, but geocentrism can still metaphorically point to the importance of earth in God’s purposes.— The Biblical Cosmos, page 197