Friday, January 30, 2009

In conclusion

I finished the book To Preach or Not to Preach?, and here is his conclusion:

We have seen that in the New Testament churches the growth into spiritual maturity of both individuals and communities was achieved by a variety of means, which did not include the regular sermon. Indeed, the experience of the churches and current knowledge about the learning process suggest that regular use of the sermon tends to have harmful consequences. It frequently fails to instruct; it deskills; it foster an unhealthy dependence on the clergy. In these ways the regular sermon not only fails to promote spiritual growth but also intensifies the impoverishment of Christian life which characterizes large areas of the church today.

The regular sermon does not, of course, stand alone as the one great corrupter of Christian faith and life. It is embedded in a complex organizational structure which is far removed from biblical patterns and which also inhibits Christian growth to maturity. The sad irony is that many preachers want to see their congregations grow in knowledge and love. Many take a great deal of trouble over preparing their sermons. Yet the teaching method they have chosen to use is, in practice, working with other factors to frustrate their hopes.—To Preach or Not to Preach?, page 115

<idle musing>
All of the statements above are his summary of what he has laid out in the preceding 50 plus pages, with extensive footnotes. If you disagree with his conclusions, you will have to get the book (it's out of print) and read it to see if you can negate the arguments behind his conclusions summarized above.
</idle musing>

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Custom is king

“Those who defend the regular sermon have no choice but to acknowledge the silence of the New Testament, to which they nevertheless appeal as supposed evidence of what they suggest might have been 'taken for granted'. What they build on this fragile foundation, however, is an habitual use of the sermon of which the New Testament knows nothing. In support of their present practice they cite a less than unanimous scholarly consensus, popular church opinion, and the 'tradition of the elders'. These are formidable allies and might be worthy of respect, provide only that one remembers one's church history. For it is precisely these forces which have always been mustered to oppose any new thought or (which has often amounted to the same thing) any return to the New Testament. Tertullian recognized the danger when he warned that 'Christ is truth, not custom' (De Virg Vel 1:1).”—To Preach or Not to Preach?, pages 104-105

<idle musing>
I find that observation sobering, if only because it is so accurate. As one church history book put it: “A reformer came along and, in the finest tradition, they killed him.”
</idle musing>

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Salt of the Earth, or...

“As sociologist Jacques Ellul observes, far from being a model of freedom, most Christians are models of mediocre bondage, simultaneously the slave of the latest fad and the ecclesiastical and humanistic traditions in which they were reared. The disastrous consequence is that the non-Christian world experiences little Christian influence in any area of thought and has little, if any, understanding of the essence of biblical Christianity.”—To Preach or Not to Preach?, page 83

<idle musing>
Sadly, I think he is correct. Just look at what the media think Christianity is. Now look at the New Testament. Finally, look at your own life. Which one is it closer to, the New Testament, or the other one?
</idle musing>

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Evangelism, or community?

“...if a Christian group is lacking in love, justice, a sense of community and richness of life, then its evangelistic programmes are unlikely to succeed because either the unattractiveness of the community will dissuade potential converts from joining or, where there are conversions, these converts will be unlikely to grow to maturity. Little more will be achieved than fostering the illusion of community growth.”—To Preach or Not to Preach?, page 74

<idle musing>
Wow! That's not what most sermons and exhortations I've heard say! But, it sure does ring true. Why would anyone want to become a Christian if they only see superficial changes and cold love?
</idle musing>

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Sermon

“The regular sermon, as used today, is one of a series of sermons which takes place at most of the major meetings of the whole local church. The regular sermon cannot be detected in the Judaism of the Old Testament, the ministry of Jesus, the life of the primitive church or the church of the apostolic fathers. We shall discover evidence for it only as the church came increasingly under the influence of a variety of non-Christian ideas from the surrounding culture, frequently ideas which, like the sermon, were inimical to New Testament practice. The regular sermon was common by the third century and became the norm by the fourth, taking its place among a wide variety of ecclesiastical practices which owed little to the teaching, patterns and principles of the New Testament.”—To Preach or Not to Preach?, page 69

<idle musing>
Too bad this book is out of print. It is definitely a scholarly work—the notes are about a quarter of the book—that thoroughly examines the history of the sermon. I'm about half done with it; this is the interim conclusion which he comes to after reciting the history of the origin of the sermon. The rest of the book will evaluate its effectiveness, as he says, “we may possibly conclude that the Holy Spirit is using an old method of questionable origin in a new and effective way.” Stay tuned, and we'll see :)
</idle musing>

Friday, January 23, 2009


This is the final snippet from The Shack

Mackenzie is in a boat, having a conversation with the Holy Spirit, portrayed as a woman:

“It feels like living out of relationship—you know, trusting and talking to you—is a bit more complicatd than just following rules”

“What rules are those, Mackenzie?”

“You know, all the things the Scriptures tell us we should do.”

“Okay...” she said with some hesitation. “And what might those be?”

“You know,” he answered sarcastically. “About doing good things and avoiding evil, being kind to the poor, reading your Bible, praying, and going to church. Things like that.”

“I see. And how is that working for you?”

He laughed. “Well. I've never done it very well. I have moments that aren't too bad, but there's always something I'm struggling with, or feeling guilty about. I just figured I needed to try harder, but I find it difficult to sustain that motivation.”

“Mackenzie!” she chided, her words flowing with affection. “The Bible doesn't teach you to follow rules. It is a picture of Jesus. While words may tell you what God is like and even what he may want from you, you cannot do any of it on your own. Life and living is in him and in no other. My goodness, you didn't think you could live the righteousness of God on you own, did you?”

“Well, I thought so, sorta...” he said sheepishly. “But you gotta admit, rules and priciples are simpler than relationships.”

“It is true that relationships are a whole lot messier than rules, but rules will never give you answers to the deep questions of the heart and they will never love you.”—The Shack, pages 199-200

<idle musing>
So true. How many times have you been told that to be a good christian you have to do this and that. Did it ever work?

We try to live the righteousness of God on our own strength—and then we wonder why we fail? What else could we do? Only God can live the righteousness of God. And the best part is that he has promised that he will live it out in our lives! Now that is good news!
</idle musing>

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Got a poem?

Eisenbrauns is having a contest again this year. I guess we didn't learn from last year :) Here are all the details:

Love is in the air! We're looking for a few good scholars to display both eros and erudition in our second Ancient Near Eastern Valentine's contest.

We want no more than three of your original* compositions, in any ancient Near Eastern language (yes, we'll take Greek, too), accompanied by an English translation. Artwork is similarly welcome (please make sure your submissions are workplace friendly). All entries should be sent via e-mail to akerr at eisenbrauns dot com before noon on Wednesday, February 11.

The decisions of the judges will be final and, most likely, extremely arbitrary. Prizes will be Eisenbrauns gift certificates: $75.00 for first place, $50.00 for second, and $25.00 for third place. Winners will be announced on February 13, 2009, and winning entries will be showcased on the Eisenbrauns website. Submitting an entry constitutes permission to reproduce your work.

* We have memorized the entire corpus of Near Eastern poetry, and will be watching for cheating. OK, we haven't — but someone out there will catch you at it if your words are not your own, and that wouldn't be good. So don't.

You can also read the fine print on our official page

Knowing is loving

“So many believe that it is love that grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it. Love is just the skin of knowing.”— The Shack, page 156

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Who is God?

This is the second snippet from The Shack. God is having a discussion with Mackenzie about who/what God is:

“I am what some would say 'holy and wholly other than you.' The problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can perceive, which often isn't much, and then call that God. And while it may seem like a noble effort, the truth is that if falls pitifully short of who I really am. I'm not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all that you can ask or think”— The Shack, page 97

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Shack

I finally decided to read The Shack last week. I had heard many condemning it, while others sang its praises, so I decided to find out for myself. I suspected I would like it. Many of the ones condemning it had also condemned some other books I really liked. Well, I liked it—anybody surprised? :)

There are many memorable lines in the book, but I am only going to share a few over the next 4 days. I encourage you to read it; you might like it. But, I must warn you, it will mess with your concept of God, church, and what it means to be a Christian. If you think you already have all three of those figured out and are 100% sure of your concepts, then you will hate this book. You have been warned!

Anyway, the first quote:

“In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God's voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners' access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia. Nobody wanted God in a box, just a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?” — The Shack, page 63

Monday, January 19, 2009

Narnia and the biblical book of Kings

Our kids grew up with me reading The Chronicles of Narnia to them. I'm sure they have read them many times by themselves, too. I have probably read them more than 20 times myself over the years. Lewis' way with words, and his ability to express a theological truth in fiction have always amazed me and I find myself quoting from Narnia and the Space Trilogy every now and then to explain a theological concept. So, it surprised me that I hadn't thought of this earlier, but The Silver Chair has a passage that basically describes my feelings about the historicity of the books of Joshua-Kings (the Former Prophets in the Hebrew Bible).

Our heroes, Scrubb, Jill, and Puddleglum have freed Prince Rilian from his prison chair and they are getting ready to figure out how to escape. Suddenly, the witch returns and proceeds to enchant them, getting them to forget that there is any other world but hers. They cease to believe in any world but her dark one; all seems lost. That sets the scene, so, without further ado, here's Puddleglum:

“One word, Ma'am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.

<idle musing>
Well said, Puddleglum. Even if there is no proof that David or Solomon existed, even if the first temple hasn't been discovered in an excavation, even if the is no archaeological evidence for the Exodus, I am still going to believe in the “made-up world” of the Bible where there is a God who intervenes, who takes an active interest in his people's welfare, who rescued me from sin and darkness, who has made me a new creature. As Luther once (might have) said: “Here I stand; I can take no other.”
</idle musing>

Thought for the day

“Too often commentators resort to the “emphasis” explanation when confronted with atypical or strange structures or forms in passages of the Hebrew Bible.”— Bridging the Gap pages 152-153

Friday, January 16, 2009

A ritual leads to a ritual leads to a...

After discussing the idea that a perceived problem can lead to a ritual, which solves the problem, Klingbeil notes:

Interestingly, some ritual action may resolve the initial problem, but may require a further ritual cycle at a later stage to provide a more complete solution. The Israelite sacrificial system and its culmination in the Day of Atonement as an elimination rite is a good example for this category of rituals. The final outcome of these “problem-solving” rituals was the rebalancing of life threatening circumstances that led to a reintegration of those involved into community with Yhwh and the larger community of Israel. During the Day of Atonement ritual, this experience of a new beginning and the re-creation of new relationships are publicly shown by means of the particular subrite. The second male goat, over whose head all the sins and all the transgressions of the Israelites have been confessed (Lev 16:21), is taken after the cleansing of the sanctuary (Lev 16:20) and is led into the desert never to return. He is not a sacrificial animal but the carrier of all the sins of Israel, for whom no return is possible. Yhwh’s forgiveness is practically illustrated, and thus the holiness of the sanctuary is reestablished.—Bridging the Gap, page 142

<idle musing>
I'm going to have to chew on that one for a while. I'm sure there is some profound thought there, but it just barely is escaping me at the moment. Anybody care to comment?
</idle musing>

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why the original languages are important

“A basic familiarity with both Hebrew and Greek seems to be necessary if the results of the component analysis [of ritual texts] are to be meaningful. Too often, translation techniques or strategies of modern translations gloss over distinct terminology, especially when one is looking at the technical language of ritual texts found in the Hebrew Bible.”—Bridging the Gap, page 133

<idle musing>
Very true! There are many things that you need to check the original to fully understand. And, in this case especially, you can't understand it without recourse to the original.
</idle musing>

Quote for the day

“The office of cleansing is imposed on the priest; yet he is at the same time forbidden to cleanse any except those who are already pure and clean. In this, on the one hand, God claims for Himself the honour of the cure, lest men should assume it; and also establishes the discipline which He would have to reign in His Church. To make the matter clearer, it belongs to God only to forgive sins; what, then, remains to man, except to be the witness and herald of the grace which He confers? God’s minister can, therefore, absolve none whom God has not before absolved.”—John Calvin, Commentary on Leviticus, cited in Bridging the Gap, page 114

Perfect Weather

It is a beautiful day here, zero, clear, with 6 inches of new snow—perfect for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing...and bicycling to work!

What! I know you think I've lost it, but stop and think about it for a minute. When it is this cold the salt doesn't work, so you don't have a sloppy mess on the roads. Plus, the snow isn't as slippery, so you can go faster without worrying about wiping out.

What about the cold? Actually, once you get riding, it isn't bad. I usually just wear a rain jacket (to block the wind) over my regular work clothes, unless the temperature is above 25, then I just wear a t-shirt. Once it gets below zero, I put on a warm-up jacket and wear biking leggings under my pants. Anytime it is below freezing, I wear mittens to keep my fingers warm.

I am really enjoying being able to ride to work all winter. I used to not be able to ride once it got below 50; I would always get bronchitis. I had bronchitis very badly a couple of years in a row; once you have had it you are more susceptible to it. But, I haven't had bronchitis for about 8 years now, and my body seems to have recovered to the point I'm not getting it anymore.

I do take the precaution of keeping my chest protected from the wind by wearing either a scarf or one of those hoods that comes down over your shoulders. And, when it gets around zero you need to keep your forehead and ears warm. Simple, right?

Anyway, you might think I'm crazy, but when I was looking at the weather for later today I saw this:

Top 10 campground???? Whom do you know that would be camping in -3 weather? They are crazier than I am! Oh, I didn't get a screen shot of this one, but they also had a link to check the mosquito forecast! I can help you with that one—there aren't any at zero :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Augustine on the Sabbath Rest

“The sabbath was given to the Jews to be observed literally, like the other things, as rites symbolically signifying something deeper. A particular kind of vacation, you see, was enjoined on them; mind you, carry out what that vacation signifies. A spiritual vacation, I mean, is tranquility of heart; but tranquility of heart issues from the serenity of a good conscience. So the person who really observes the sabbath is the one who doesn’t sin. This, after all, is the way the command was given to those who were commanded to observe the sabbath.” Sermones 270.5, cited in Bridging the Gap, page 102

<idle musing>
So, it looks like Augustine understood the sabbath rest in Hebrews to be relevant to life in the present, not in heaven after we die. It also seems he believed in the ability of the power of God to keep someone safe from sin (see this post for verification of that claim). Remember though, it is always and only by the power of God; never, ever, ever is it anything inherent in a person. It is imparted righteousness, as well as imputed, but the impartation is only as long as a person abides/rests/remains (μένειν) in Christ.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ritual and the Prophets

“Jeremiah’s critique [in Jeremiah 7] is not inherently against ritual space or the temple in particular. Rather, it (as was already done by earlier prophets) connects a responsible and consecrated life-style to the consecrated space, which suggests divine presence. “A place”—suggests the prophet—“even if it has been divinely chosen (Ps 132:13–14, 2 Sam 7:12–13) will not automatically protect you from the coming doom. You need to turn around and change your life-style.” This is followed by precise indications of how this lifestyle reform is to be undertaken, involving acting justly; not oppressing the foreigner, the orphan, or the widow; not shedding innocent blood; and not running after other gods ( Jer 7:6). This has been interpreted as part of a major reformulation of the theology of the Hebrew Bible. Keep in mind, however, that earlier prophets had already voiced similar reprimands. The changed historical situation and the impending doom of Judah seem to have required an even stronger message, including the very foundations of sacred ritual space.”—Bridging the Gap, page 77

Monday, January 12, 2009

The role of ritual

“Ritual simply cannot substitute for the basic moral and ethical actions of humans. Justice and righteousness need to characterize the proper human-human relationship before ritual can truly impact the adequate human-divine relationship. Ritual may rely on tradition but lacks divine approval as expressed by the constant contrasts contained in Amos’s texts. Amos was criticizing the conceptual “automatisms” apparently connected to the ritual actions. He argued against a sacramental use of ritual, where the mere performance guarantees favorable results.”—Bridging the Gap, page 76

<idle musing>
Sound familiar? How many people go through the motions of Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, but never let Christ transform them? If that is how we view the Christian life, we are the objects of Amos' criticism and missing the true power of God—the Holy Spirit's empowering and transforming presence in our lives
</idle musing>

Prayer request

Joel & Renee just found out late last week that Rachel has Celiac Disease.

Huh? That's what I said, too. Here's Renee's explanation:

That sounds terrible and awful, but really, it's just an allergy to gluten. We are relieved that it's nothing terminal, cancerous, or some unknown disease. This is fixable and doesn't involve medications. It does, however, require a major adjustment in diet. Gluten is in just about everything except rice, corn, potato, fruit, veggies, meat, dairy and eggs.

Please pray for them as they adjust their diets accordingly.

Photo tag

I've been tagged by Andy
The rules:

Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures.
Pick the 4th picture in that folder.
Explain the picture.
Tag 4 people to do the same.

Nice, isn't it? The picture is from February, 2007. I was out snowshoeing in Boys' City, along Cherry Creek, which is also the south border of our property, although we didn't own it then.

Tag 4 people:
Jim West, just because I know he hates being tagged :)
Jon Erdman
Joel at Grace Roots
Alan Knox
And anybody else that wants to share a good photo or two...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Eisenbrauns website is UP

Yes, service was restored. They had told us that service would be back by 7:00 PM on Thursday. It wasn't :( I have no idea when it finally came back, but it was restored by this AM—I just forgot to post letting everybody know.

Now you know, so hurry on over and take advantage of all our great deals :)

Why study ANE stuff?

I just finished reading Bridging the Gap (and someday I'll even update the side bar!). I'll be excerpting and musing on it for the next week or so on this blog. I hope you enjoy it and are challenged at the same time.

Here's the first excerpt:
“I would also venture to suggest that many biblical scholars find more joy in trying to understand one cuneiform tablet (with five or six variant tablets) detailing a complex ritual than in first having to delve into more than 200 years of text-layer-oriented research that is not concerned with the meaning and communicative function of the ritual.”—Bridging the Gap, page 51

<idle musing>
What do you think? Is he right? Has biblical studies become so top-heavy with scholarship that it isn't fun anymore?

The fact that one is expected to know what everyone in the last 250 years said about a particular text is somewhat daunting. It also tends to take the freshness off the text.
</idle musing>

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Eisenbrauns web site is down

Well, not really; our web site is functioning fine, it's just that Embarq has experienced a "minor" outage—just about the entire state! And, they don't know when service will be restored :(

How am I accessing the web, you ask? We use Embarq for our webserver, but we use cable for our e-mail and web access. We don't want to have all our Internet in one basket, so to speak :)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Final thoughts...

This is the final excerpt from The Elements of Biblical Exegesis.

“A superior exegesis sheds unique light on a biblical text because the exegesis is the result of one’s own personal engagement with the text. Such an exegesis is really an expression of the unique intersection of contexts—those of the author, the original readers, and the interpreter. If you apply yourself to the study of the Bible, always keeping an eye on its various contexts—as well as your own—you may well be surprised at what you discover.”— The Elements of Biblical Exegesis, page 179.

<idle musing>
I think this paragraph summarizes the whole book quite nicely. I hope you have enjoyed the ride with me through the book. I want to thank Bobby from Hendrickson for the book—and for being more than just a sales rep; I consider him a friend and brother in Christ.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Eisenbrauns January sale

It's January already, and I forgot to announce the January sale on this blog. I'll fix that right now :)

For the month of January, we chose 35 titles from the Harvard Semitic Monographs, Harvard Semitic Studies, and Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant series and slashed their prices by 50%. Seems like a good way to welcome the new year in.

You can see the whole list here

A long train of witnesses

“Believing that we are addressed by God in Scripture means that we perceive ourselves to be part of the same people of God addressed by the prophets and the apostles many years ago. In other words, we acknowledge the similarities as well as the differences between their ancient situations and our own. (In fact, some contemporary theological interpreters of Scripture have suggested that modern interpretation of the Bible has overemphasized the differences.) The notion of “two horizons” is built on the theory of interpretation that holds that we cannot truly read, interpret, or understand a text until we engage it, until we somehow fuse its “horizon” with our own.”—The Elements of Biblical Exegesis, page 160

<idle musing>
God is still speaking, we just need to listen—and I mean listen in the sense of the Hebrew שמע (Shema`), which has the implication of obedience, not just passive hearing.
</idle musing>

Now THAT is church!

There is a very good post on one person's journey from institutional Christianity into the house church version here. Mind you, he isn't an anabaptist, or charismatic, or anything like that—he's Baptist! Here's a short excerpt, but do read the whole post, it is short enough:

As I sat with these brothers and sisters, sharing, eating and worshiping with them, words cannot express the emotions going on inside of my soul. It was all so spontaneous, yet felt so right! Even though I was the invited guest speaker, I was the one who was blessed beyond measure. In those few minutes shared with a handful of Cuban brothers, my life was forever changed. I saw in that gathering of believers something I had longed for my whole life. I now understood better than ever before, what the church was supposed to be. Wasn't this what the church looked like in the Book of Acts? Finally, I was able to see in living color what the writings I had been reading looked like! I knew in my heart this was what we must strive to recapture in our own church planting in Ecuador.

<idle musing>
Yep! As I've said before, once you've experienced real church, it is hard to go back to the pew and watch performances by the few up front.
</idle musing>

Monday, January 05, 2009

Scripture as we live it #36

Alan Knox has a series called “Scripture as we live it” where he takes a common verse and edits it to reflect how we really live it out; the last one was today, and numbered 35. Sunday I was reading in I John and ran across this set of verses, as we live them:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not because you will sin. But if And when anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous as long as we read our Bibles, pray, and go to church regularly; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of and we are free to judge the whole world because they don't conform to our doctrine. (I John 2:1-2 re-mix)

And we are called:

“This new approach is grounded in the theological principle of the missio Dei, or mission of God. This term summarizes the conviction that the Scriptures of both Testaments bear witness to a God who, as creator and redeemer of the world, is already on a mission. Indeed, God is by nature a missional God, who is seeking not just to save “souls” to take to heaven some day, but to restore and save the created order: individuals, communities, nations, the environment, the world, the cosmos. This God calls the people of God assembled in the name of Christ—who was the incarnation of the divine mission—to participate in this missio Dei, to discern what God is up to in the world, and to join in.”—The Elements of Biblical Exegesis, page 155

Friday, January 02, 2009

Quote for today

“Responsible Bible students and teachers never take a shortcut by using inap[p]ropriate evidence to get to the desired conclusion, even if the conclusion is correct.—Hebrew for the Rest of Us, page 105

Don't sell God short...

“Theological interpretation has a much more ambitious, constructive goal than simply analysis of the text; it is to form communities of Christian disciples who can perform the Scriptures faithfully and creatively, and to inform the theological reflection of such disciples individually and ecclesially.

“We may describe this principle of theological interpretation in terms of its function: scriptural interpretation is the primary means by which God effects (in traditional Catholic terms) the church’s ongoing conversion, that is (in traditional Protestant terms), the church’s continuous reformation, or (in Orthodox language) the church’s increasing participation in the life of the Triune God—its divinization, or theosis.”—The Elements of Biblical Exegesis, page 154

<idle musing>
There's that word again, theosis. It just keeps popping up all over the place on this blog :)

And, always remember, it is only by the power of God (grace) that any of this can happen. We can study all we want, learn all the languages we want, but ultimately it all depends 100% on God's abiding presence in our lives.
</idle musing>

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A good thought to begin the new year with:

“The principle of coherence follows from the canonical principle and is the theological conviction that, in spite of all its diversity, Scripture is one divinely given book that essentially tells one coherent story of the creator-God’s salvation of the world, culminating in Jesus Christ. It is not a collection of mutually competing or contradicting accounts of God and of humanity’s experience of God. This principle also has a corollary: that because of the guiding work of the Spirit throughout the history of God’s people (see the next principle), those who read Scripture theologically can and should be guided by the basic theological convictions of their reading communities (e.g., the Christian church), which are themselves derived from the Scriptures. These convictions have been set forth in the various Christian creeds, especially those from the earliest centuries of the church—to which most Christians give assent...

“The sixth principle asserts that theological interpretation is a work of the Spirit of God, the same Spirit who gives the church gifts of grace (Greek charismata). The word charismatic is not intended, however, to suggest that all interpretation is spontaneous, lacking in control or reason. Indeed, if the gifts of the Spirit include wisdom
and understanding, then careful, rational exegetical skill is a charism. But the principle does assert that such exegetical skill needs the grace and guidance of the Spirit to achieve its intended end of greater communion with God and with one another...”—The Elements of Biblical Exegesis, page 152, 153