As always, Heschel hits the nail on the head. Wrath is a reaction of God because of his attributes. It is not an attribute of God in and of itself. This needs to be blasted from the rooftops and drilled into our thick, judgmental, parochial skulls. God is merciful and gracious. Yes, he does have limits to that and wrath and judgment will eventually fall. But, and this is a huge but, it is not an attribute of God to be wrathful.
Friday, July 21, 2017
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Monday, July 17, 2017
In contrast to his previous prayer, Moses’ dialogue with YHWH is characterized by an increasingly brave and insistent tone. Although it is clear that the objective of Moses’ prayer has always been the restoration of the breached covenant relationship, Moses initially mentioned sinful Israel only in a seemingly incidental manner, as carefully exploring YHWH’s reaction after the previous divine word of reproof (Exod 32:33). Encouraged by not being opposed this time, Moses becomes bolder and speaks of Israel more directly. Although YHWH shows some reluctance in committing Himself to the people, we note that He does not dismiss Moses’ plea either. Moreover, it is noteworthy that Moses’ brave words are not presented in a negative light. It is likely that this is the reason that Moses’ prayer increases in boldness as YHWH is graciously willing to respond. The reader is reminded of the dynamics of Abraham’s dialogue with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:16–33). Moses’ audacity reaches its climax in his request to see YHWH’s glory (Exod 33:18).—Standing in the Breach, pages 89–90
Friday, July 14, 2017
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Are we listening? Do we hear God calling us to intercede? Or are we too busy playing Jonah and rejoicing in the possibility of destruction? I fear it is too often the latter : (
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Monday, July 10, 2017
Many things leap to mind when someone mentions walking: fitness, fun, fresh air, relaxation, friends and maybe your most comfortable pair of shoes. But a word that rarely arises is “power”.We'll see; I'm always skeptical about getting people to actually do more than talk when it comes to physical activity. But, hey, it's a start. Maybe if communities built the infrastructure for walking, people would do it. Can't hurt. We walk about five miles per day, but I wouldn't say that Grand Marais is "walker-friendly." There are few sidewalks and it's built on the side of a hill, which scares some people off. But, the whole town is about 2 miles long, measuring from the National Forest Service office on the west side to the DNR building on the east. And, aside from Highway 61, there isn't a lot of traffic.
That will begin to change after the 2017 National Walking Summit (held in St. Paul, Minnesota September 13-15), which is themed “Vital and Vibrant Communities — The Power of Walkability”.
Maybe we can get the mayor or city council to send somebody...
How easily we forget! There is no absolute freedom in this world; as Bob Dylan said, "You gotta serve somebody". I don't know about you, but Joshua summed it up nicely for me:
Worship the LORD, obey him, and always be faithful. Get rid of the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River and in Egypt. But if you don’t want to worship the LORD, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you’re living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you’ll worship their gods. I won’t. My family and I are going to worship and obey the LORD! Joshua 24:14–15 (CEV)</idle musing>
Friday, July 07, 2017
Thursday, July 06, 2017
The technical term is synergism—working together—versus monergism, which claims it is only God doing everything; humans are basically puppets in that system.
Wednesday, July 05, 2017
Monday, July 03, 2017
Friday, June 30, 2017
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Indeed! That's a theme that will come up repeatedly in this book. Intercession isn't a magic trick; People are still free to continue on in sin and unrighteousness. That's the tight rope that the intercessor must walk—pleading for mercy for the unrepentant, but also letting the unrepentant know about the consequences of their continued behavior and attitudes.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Ouch! I suspect he is far too correct in that assessment. May God grant us mercy and may we embrace the way of Abraham!
Monday, June 26, 2017
Friday, June 23, 2017
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Have you met a professor of Mesopotamian studies? There are only a couple dozen or so of us scattered around the world, but we are very strange individuals. Meet one of us in person, and you may discover that we can hardly string together a coherent sentence. We stare at our hands and speak a German-English patois that neither the Germans nor the English can decipher. Our social problems must have begun in grad school; holing up by ourselves in small, windowless library carrels for hours on end reading the teeny tiny wedges the Mesopotamians etched into clay does something to our brains. In any case, we have an almost divine-like ability to take ultra-fascinating ideas and make them slightly less exciting than a traffic ticket. This is not the skill you need when trying to present the results of your research to a Netflix-addled public.<idle musing>
I love it! And the worst of it is that he's correct!
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Monday, June 19, 2017
An interesting idea, isn't it? Worth pondering...
Friday, June 16, 2017
Thursday, June 15, 2017
This view of the role of the prophet resonates far more with me than the popular Charismatic/Pentecostal "personal prophecy" peddler model. I believe it is far more biblical—and infinitely harder! And as Chesterton reminds us, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried." The same can be said for this model of prophecy. You certainly won't get rich and invited many places to speak if you stand in the gap!
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
966. The verb may agree with the nearest or most important of two or more subjects. The verb may be placed
a. Before both subjects: ““ἧκε μὲν ὁ Θερσαγόρα_ς καὶ ὁ Ἐξήκεστος εἰς Λέσβον καὶ ᾤκουν ἐκεῖ” Thersagoras and Execestus came to Lesbos and settled there” D. 23.143.
b. After the first subject: ““ὅ τε Πολέμαρχος ἧκε καὶ Ἀδείμαντος καὶ Νικήρατος καὶ ἄλλοι τινές” Polemarchus came and Adimantus and Niceratus and certain others” P. R. 327b, ““Φαλῖνος ᾤχετο καὶ οἱ σὺν αὐτῷ” Phalinus and his companions departed” X. A. 2.2.1.
c. After both subjects: ““τὸ βουλευτήριον καὶ ὁ δῆμος παρορᾶται” the senate and the people are disregarded” Aes. 3.250. (Cp. Shakesp. “my mistress and her sister stays.”）
We're back into this book again after a run through the Hurtado one. Isn't that a fascinating concept? God is calling us to be a part of who he is, what his heartthrob is. He develops this idea further in the coming pages; stay tuned!
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
For some reason, I don't think that's what people have in mind when they say, "Give me that old-time religion." : )
That's the final excerpt from this book. I hope you find it intriguing enough to read it all. And no, I don't get anything for endorsing it, not even a free copy of the book; I bought my copy at the Annual AAR/SBL meeting last November. But it was definitely worth the price of the book. In the immortal words of Augustine, "Tolle! Lege!" Pick it up and read it!
Monday, June 12, 2017
I always cast about for a good comparison—and I always come up empty. Perhaps the way we view an anarchist? But that's not quite accurate, either. But rest assured, the idea of Christianity was not readily welcomed by the ruling elites. It was unsettling. Chaos was at the door, and Christianity was letting it in—at least that was their opinion. Remember, the gods kept Chaos at bay. You served the gods to keep the status quo—it didn't really matter what you believed or how you acted, just as long as you placated the gods with the appropriate honors.
But along comes Christianity. It says that not only are the gods not to be worshiped with sacrifices, but indeed, those "gods" were actually evil demons! That idea isn't going to get a good hearing! Especially to those who have the most to lose. It is similar to the reaction that you get when you tell people that as a Christian you really should think twice about saying the pledge of allegiance...
The earth dries up and wilts; the world withers and wilts; the heavens wither away with the earth. 5 The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants, for they have disobeyed instruction, swept aside law, and broken the ancient covenant. 6 Therefore, a curse devours the earth; its inhabitants suffer for their guilt. Therefore, the earth’s inhabitants dwindle; very few are left. 7 The wine dries up; the vine withers; all the merry-hearted groan. 8 The joyous tambourines have ceased; the roar of partyers has stopped; the joyous harp has ceased. 9 No one drinks wine or sings; beer is bitter to its drinkers. 10 The town is in chaos, broken; every house is shut, without entrance. 11 There is a cry for wine in the streets. All joy has reached its dusk; happiness is exiled from the earth. 12 Ruin remains in the city, and the gate is battered to wreckage. 13 It will be like this in the central part of the land and among the peoples, like an olive tree that has been shaken, like remains from the grape harvest. Isa 24:4–13
Friday, June 09, 2017
I always find it interesting that Marcus Aurelius, generally considered one of the most enlightened of the Roman Emperors, was so adamantly against Christianity. Could it be that he saw more clearly than most today what the natural implications of Christianity are? I suspect so. Read a bit about him and I suspect you'll discover why...and it has ramifications for today, too.
Thursday, June 08, 2017
Wednesday, June 07, 2017
Tuesday, June 06, 2017
Furthermore, early Christian discourse proffered a different basis for the behavioral aims advocated. As noted already, Musonius and philosophical traditions in general appealed to the individual’s sense of honor and the avoidance of personal shame, shame in the eyes of others and so also internally, as the basis for the demands of living by their principles. But early Christian texts typically invoked divine commands, appealed to the divine calling laid upon believers to exhibit holiness, and notably, invoked the mutual responsibility of believers to one another in their behavioral efforts, reflecting a emphasis placed on the formation of a group ethos. That is, early Christian teaching made everyday behavior central in one’s religious responsibility to the Christian life. In place of worries about possible embarrassment socially, Christians posited the judgment of God. The difference was profound. Indeed, it is fair to judge that the impact of the distinctive stance of early Christian teaching involved “a transformation in the logic of sexual morality.”— Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, pages 170–71 (emphasis original)
Monday, June 05, 2017
Saturday, June 03, 2017
Again, the attempts to rewrite biblical morality leave me unconvinced, largely because of this background. To argue that we know more about sexuality than they did is a bit hard to take when you actually dig into the Greco-Roman history. By the way, William Loader, who probably knows more about ancient sexuality than anyone alive, agrees that the Bible is unequivocally against any kind of sex outside of heterosexual monogamous marriage. But he just says that the Bible is wrong.
He's an honest man. You can't have it both ways. Either you agree that scripture is correct or you agree with Loader that scripture is wrong. You can't claim scripture is correct by reinterpreting it on this issue.
Thursday, June 01, 2017
How much more now! All these attempts to rewrite scripture and loosen the standards just don't cut it. The sooner the church decides to become the church of God—and that means not just in the area of sexual standards, but also in the area of pandering to the political powers (right and left!)—the sooner there will be a revival in their midst. How can the church hope for a revival in the land when there is so much sin in our midst?
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Monday, May 29, 2017
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
We shall see that the authentic intercessory prayer flows out of a deep understanding of the Triune God and His ways (that is, out of contemplative prayer) and in correspondence with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the petitions of the Christians will be primarily intercession. To close the circle of interpretation, I conclude that Jesus’ intercession in life, death, and eternity can only be fully understood when it is seen and interpreted in the light of Moses and the prophets (the Old Testament).—Standing in the Breach, page 27
Monday, May 22, 2017
Friday, May 19, 2017
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Monday, May 15, 2017
Isn't that still true? It's usually those closest to us that have the hardest time with the changes that God requires of us...
On another note: We're on a trip right now and I forgot to bring this book with me, so for the next week or so, I'll be excerpting from a different book that I've been picking away at slowly.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
I don't know why, but that struck me as humorous—probably because it reveals so much about the presuppositions we bring to bear in our interpretation of the data. Great book, by the way. You should get it when it becomes available.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Tuesday, May 09, 2017
A Well of Wonder: Vol. 1: Essays on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings
Clyde Kilby, edited by Loren Wilkinson and Keith Call
That truth—which kept filling and refilling that “well of wonder” which was Dr. Kilby’s life—was the fact that the whole of created reality is the miraculous gift of a loving, personal, and ever-present Creator. And this was not just a propositional truth intellectually known: it was lived, experienced, and shared. Often it was experienced—and expressed—through the apparently trivial or insignificant. Several of his former students, for example, mention Dr. Kilby’s love for the dandelion, and Marilee Melvin recalls his bringing a drooping dandelion to class and asking, “in a voice filled with awe, how many of you believe that the Lord God made this dandelion for our pleasure on this day.”I love that idea…maybe because I am continually in awe of creation. To think that there are bears out there rambling around with no one to enjoy watching them except God; loons calling and diving, but only God notices. The list goes on and on.
Now it is not easy for a college student of any generation, let alone a sober faculty colleague, to take seriously someone who publicly shares his awe over a dandelion; there were many who were themselves mystified by the life-changing effect Dr. Kilby had on people. Since I, too, am one of those whose life was changed by the man, I want to try to express something of the mystery of how and why that change was effected.
The dandelion incident calls to mind G. K. Chesterton’s words in Orthodoxy (one of the many books that I read first through Dr. Kilby’s recommendation).Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning ‘Do it again’ to the sun, and every evening ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
Monday, May 08, 2017
Among the more thankless tasks in god’s creation is that of the editor. Authors of scholarly materials rarely acknowledge their debt to their editors and may even resent their perfidious scrutiny of their texts. Readers don’t understand the editor’s role — understandably, perhaps, as it is largely invisible to the reader, who imagines him or herself in direct communion with the living spirit of the author. Our current cultural aversion to anything that smacks of authority or authority structures (this too shall pass — or we will) puts editors into the crosshairs, as they have come to represent the gatekeeper and, hence, the oppressor: It’s as though there were a coherent conspiracy to set self-reinforcing standards for the ruling class.<idle musing>
He's talking about editors in general, not even necessarily, let alone primarily, copy-editors, but it pretty much sums up what's going on. Just read any recent book from far too many presses to see the lack of editing. And don't even get me started on stuff that's published on the web—even by well-known and established sites that should hold up a higher standard!
Oh well, as he says, "this too shall pass — or we will." Just an
Friday, May 05, 2017
Thursday, May 04, 2017
Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Tuesday, May 02, 2017
Monday, May 01, 2017
Sunday, April 30, 2017
The small group huddled around the bar had grown quiet as he spoke. To them, I realized, this was who he was: a lovely old man filled with delightful tales about the thirties and forties, the era to which the music tinkling out of the piano belonged, an era of cleverness and confidence. If only they knew the real him, I thought ruefully. His face now, relaxed and open, mellow with reminiscence, was so different from the one he so often presented, at least to his family. I wondered whether there might be people, strangers he had met on business trips, say, bellhops or stewardesses or conference attendees, to whom he also showed only this face, and who would therefore be astonished by the expression of disdain we knew so well. But then it occurred to me that perhaps this affable and entertaining gentleman was the person my father was always meant to be, or had possibly always been, albeit only with others. Children always imagine that their parents’ truest selves are as parents. But why? “No one truly knows his own begetting,” Telemachus bitterly observes, early in the Odyssey. Indeed. Our parents are mysterious to us in ways that we can never quite be mysterious to them.Being the ripe old age of 61 now, I can see the truth of this paragraph. I will never know my parents as other than parents, no matter how hard I try. And my kids will always see me as a parent—with all of the baggage, both good and bad, that goes along with that. But is that who we really are? Or are we who we really are when we are in a different setting? Or, are we really both at the same time?
Food for thought…
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The harbor village of Grand Marais, Minn., has charmed its way to the title of “Best Midwestern Small Town,” as chosen by USA Today readers.Indeed! We also are host to about a million tourists a year. Boring? Not likely : )
Located at the end of North Shore Scenic Drive, the town of fewer than 1,300 (and 2,000 in the summer) has been a popular destination for winter and summer activities.
On Friday, USA Today announced the winner and described the Boundary Waters gateway city as a charming town with “art galleries, quirky restaurants, local shops and diverse lodging.”
It notes the town is home to “one of the nation’s best art colonies” and that it serves as a “gateway to outdoor adventure.”
. . . “We have most everything. We have yurts and we have five-star resorts,” Jurek said.
Friday, April 28, 2017
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Modern christians could learn from that example; far too many worship and the shrines of nationalism and materialism as well as the altar of YHWH : (
Monday, April 24, 2017
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Indeed. There are two main problems in studying the ancient world: (1) We import our anti-supernatural, mechanistic materialism, closed box, cause and effect viewpoint—explaining away anything that doesn't fit; and (2) expecting things to be nice and neat, cut and dried. Real life isn't that way today, why should we expect it to be that way then?!
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
I'm not sure we can fully comprehend how radical an idea that was.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Monday, April 17, 2017
Personally, I find that very liberating! All the lesser divine beings are subservient to and must obey the one God—and we are allowed direct access to this same deity. That's Good News.
Friday, April 14, 2017
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Sitting at his feet and learning was a joy. His lectures were full of rich bibliography; my notes are sprinkled with books to read—many of which I have read and others I should read. His knowledge was huge and not just limited to Semitics, either. He had studied theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and University of Edinburgh, Scotland before getting his PhD in Semitics from Brandeis.
One of the classes he taught was a theology class. While other classes were reading popular introductions to theology, he had us reading Brunner, Calvin, and Wesley. I like to tell my Calvinist friends that I've probably read more Calvin than most Calvinists have. (As an aside, one told me last November at AAR/SBL that if I'd read any Calvin, I probably had most of them beat!) He also taught an Old Testament Theology course, which was especially fun. He taught it one other time after that, 10 years later. That version was recorded and then turned into a book, Lectures in Old Testament Theology, which, while a bit dated now, is still great.
One of his favorite phrases about a book was, "You owe it to yourself to read this." I love that phrase and have used it many times to describe a good book.
I could go on for a long while about all I learned from him—and from his students who were also among my professors at both Asbury College and Seminary, but I have other things to do, as do you. I'll close this short musing with a link to the official Asbury University blurb.
Indeed, the exclusivist stance of early Christianity was so odd, unjustified, and even impious in the eyes of ancient pagan observers and critics that they often accused Christians of being atheists, just as Jews had been labeled previously!— Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, page 56
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
What in the world could they possibly be thinking?! Why, the social fabric will be rent asunder by their neglect of the gods! The empire is sure to suffer setbacks because of them! Feed them to the lion!
Think about that for a minute. What would your family do if you suddenly refused to offer sacrifice to the lares and penates who keep your family and household safe? It would be like you were spitting on your ancestors and parents, saying they don't exist anymore!
Needless to say, that isn't the best way to ingratiate yourself to those in power... In fact, it's almost like they don't care about impressing and influencing those in power! Maybe we could learn something from them?
Monday, April 10, 2017
Friday, April 07, 2017
Thursday, April 06, 2017
This refusal to reverence the many gods that was demanded of early Christians would have included refusing to offer worship to household divinities, to the tutelary deities of cities, to the traditional gods of the various cities and peoples of the Roman world, and even to the deities that represented the empire itself, such as the goddess Roma, and who conferred legitimacy to Roman rule. Indeed, Christians were expected to treat all the many deities of the Roman world as “idols,” from the Greek term eidōlon, meaning “image” or “phantom.” That is, Christians were to treat all the various traditional gods as beings unworthy of worship, as false and deceptive entities, or, even worse, as demonic beings masquerading as deities.— Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, page 49–50 (emphasis original)
And you thought you had problems with your in-laws or parents! That's nothing compared to walking into the house and not acknowledging the shrine of the lares, and then announcing that they were less than gods, in fact were evil semi-divine beings! I'm sure that went over well . . . NOT!
Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Tuesday, April 04, 2017
And the Christians refused to worship them! Can you imagine?! Why, that would be just as bad as if a person refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance! Seditious! Rebellious! A threat to the social order! Away with them! They are a treasonous bunch! Feed them to the lion!
Friday, March 31, 2017
Reminds me of "the thousand gods of Hatti"—a phrase used to describe the number of deities the Hittite Empire had in their pantheon. In the ancient world, you literally could not turn around without bumping into a deity. They were more ubiquitous than fire hydrants are in modern cities.
And those crazy Christians said that they weren't really gods, which was bad enough. What was worse is that they refused to offer anything to them. It's one thing to say they don't exist, but it's another thing altogether to say that they were actually evil spirits bent on destroying humanity.
Those early Christians. They were crazy. Or, they were correct. Take your pick, but realize that if they were correct, you need to watch out for the deities you are worshiping in your own life. God brooks no rivals.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
But I insist that at least we use the term, it was for non-Christians fundamentally a religious issue.— Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, page 44 (emphasis original)
My, those Christians were troublesome creatures, weren't they!
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
In other words, try to keep them out of your life as much as possible! The last thing you want is for the gods to notice you! That's a sure way to have a miserable life. Of course, you want to keep your personal deity, variously called genius, δαιμῶν, dLAMMA, happy. Pour a bit of a libation to the ground before you take a drink, leave a portion of your food for them, throw that salt over your shoulder, things like that. You want your personal deity to run interference for you with the more powerful deities.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Monday, March 27, 2017
Obviously not a bunch of snowflakes. Jesus said to count the cost, and they did. Would that we were as diligent in our pursuit of God as they were...