Friday, April 30, 2010
Whose side is he on, anyway?
Ain't that the truth! Would that a few political commentators (on both sides) would take this passage to heart!
On a more practical, daily living level, it is healthy to remember that we serve God, not the other way around. We can never manipulate God onto our side, no matter how many Bible verses we might quote, or how ever long we fast, or pray, or do whatever it is we are doing to try to manipulate God. It goes back to the quote from Byerly's article in The Faith of Jesus Christ, 'the opposite of faith is not works, it is religion” (for the extended quote, go here). The problem is, of course, that humanity is so good at religion and so poor at obedience.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
"Patristic exegesis of Scripture holds as its goal the formation of its reader in the love of God and the love of neighbor. Reading Scripture is therefore a school from which we never graduate, because in this world love of God and love of neighbor are always imperfectly practiced. The authoritative context for the exegesis of the Fathers is ecclesial; it is neither academic (as is modern exegesis) nor individualistic (as is much of popular American Christianity’s biblical interpretation)."—Kathryn Greene-McCreight, St. John’s Episcopal Church, New Haven, CT in Journal of Theological Interpretation 4.1 (2010)
Nicely put. Sometimes I think the patristic exegetes were way off base, but more often I bow down in worship of God at their insights.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Crossings in Joshua
Interesting insight, isn't it. Previous generations used to talk about becoming a Christian as “crossing the Jordan,” which seems to be an apt word picture. Of course, they also used the same expression for death at the end of one's life; I would be more inclined toward seeing it as the here and now, the “presence of the future” as some put it, or “realized eschatology” as others put it.
The fact that there are multiple crossings in Joshua also maps well onto the Christian life, doesn't it? And, the fact that it is crossing into—or out of!—life with YHWH is especially interesting. Earl comments on that in the next paragraph
If, as we shall see, Joshua may be understood in terms of what it means to possess the land and live in the land in the fullness of life that YHWH gives so as to move toward ‘rest’, then it suggests that in the Christian context Joshua might be understood to relate to what it means to live so as to move to possess or inherit the ‘kingdom of God’, an idea that will need further exploration.—Reading Joshua as Christian Scripture, page 123
and, a bit later
Indeed, perhaps a weakness of traditional Christian readings of the Jordan crossing is that the crossing has been interpreted ‘atomistically’ and somewhat independently of its narrative context, a context that gives content to something of what is envisaged in the nature of the new life of the community being entered.—Reading Joshua as Christian Scripture, page 133
It will be interesting to see how he develops it...
Monday, April 26, 2010
Signs of Spring
So many empty jars means spring is here!
While I'm at it, I made brick cheese over the weekend. We'll see it it took in about 2 weeks. Meantime, it is (hopefully) incubating in this makeshift humidity box (bottom shelf on the left):
Every day I have to wipe it down with a brine mixture to keep the bad bacteria from growing. And, we opened the next 1/2 pound of cheddar yesterday; it was even better after another week of aging.
Cheese making tip of the week: Always clean up with cold water. Hot water sets the curd and makes it virtually impossible to get out! You heard it here :)
Substitionary atonement in the early church
Isn't that interesting? And this is especially so in light of the huge battles being waged now on “substitutionary atonement” versus any other understanding of the atonement! If we want to pay more than lip service to the early church, maybe we should learn from them—even if it means we have to acknowledge that some emerging elements of the church might be right, after all. Nah! Never happen; they can't be right, can they?
Watch out for the NIH monster (not invented here) in your theology! God was moving and giving insight long before you or I were born. And, he didn't stop giving wisdom and insight to others once we came along. A bit—ok, a lot—of humility will go a long way! Just an
Friday, April 23, 2010
Who am I?
"I live — yet not I, but Christ." In Barth's hands, this paradox becomes a christological rendering of the nature of subjectivity itself. all Christian existence is imitatio Christi, since the Sirit has fashioned us from the mould of Jesus' faithful existence. Through the power of the Spirit, the history of Jesus generates its own corresponding imitatio — and it is true imitatio just because it is real participatio. the Cristian is a real "I" who responds faithfully to God, but this "I" is always already formed by Jesus' own history of πίστις before God."The Faith of Jesus Christ:, page 307
I like that; a very good exposition on Galatians 2:20; I don't think I've heard a better one.
Monday evening, with Debbie's help, I put half the plastic on the hoop house. Tuesday, I finished the plastic, including a door on the west end. Wednesday it was windy and it showed me that I really wasn't done—the wind managed to loosen some of the plastic on the ends and sides. So, Wednesday evening I tightened up the structure.
Finally, last night, I was able to plant stuff. I planted the potatoes and piled 6 inches of straw over them. To keep the wind from stealing the straw, I put row cover over the bed. Most of an 18 foot bed is filled with potatoes. Then I planted about 1.5 pounds of onion sets and some more spinach, radishes, rutabaga, and maché. I also planted some cucumbers, wax beans, 2 kinds of green beans, and kohlrabi in the hoop house.
The stuff I planted in the cold frames is doing well. The spinach is almost ready to cut; the radishes are developing nicely, the beets look good. The peas are almost too tall to shut the door at night and should start blossoming soon. The onions are looking very good; they are almost too tall for the frame, too.
With all this gardening, I haven't had time to make more cheese, but I'm hoping to make some brick tomorrow. The cheddar is now 6 weeks old. We tried some last Friday night; it is quite sharp and has a good flavor—at least that's what Debbie, Jim, and Shannon told me :) It is a bit dry; I think I pressed it to long, or maybe it got too hot. I still have 1.5 pounds aging in the basement.
We experimented with yogurt this week. Debbie was wanting thicker yogurt for something she was doing, so we made a quart with Half & Half™. It was just like sour cream, but sweeter. Wow! Get all of your daily fat and calorie needs in one small tablespoon full!
Here's two pictures of the hoop house:
Looking from the south. There are two 16 x 3 beds inside.
Looking from the west. In the foreground are the peas and onions in their cold frames
Thursday, April 22, 2010
"Barth thus insists that participation in Christ is not merely the production of new "religious and moral impulses", nor an infusion of supernatural capacities, nor again a mere forensic declaration that leaves us essentially unaltered. Such conceptions, Barth observes, all share one thing in common: they fail to explain "how the Christian comes into existence, the person who responds to God's faithfulness with faithfulness". In contrast, the reality of Christian existence is to be explained by the Spirit as the power of participation.""—The Faith of Jesus Christ:, pages 300-301
That is refreshingly God-centered and Trinitarian. So often salvation is made into a man-centered, Jesus-only thing. Here, we have the whole Trinity moving together to save us from ourselves.
How times have changed! Now, Earth Day is seen by many conservatives as a plot to become a socialist country, or to push a mother earth goddess onto us all. But, I wonder what God thinks of our exploitation of others and the earth? Maybe we should re-read some of those biblical texts about stewardship, servanthood (ironic that my spell checker doesn't recognize servanthood as a legitimate word!), sabbath rest for the land, etc... Just an
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Barth and faith
Faith is not the opposite of works, therefore, it is the opposite of religion. So Barth contrasts faith with "devout contemplation" and "experience" and whatever can be "handed down by tradition" — in a word, he opposes faith to "every positive religious achievement". Indeed, he insists that there is no "way of salvation" (Heilsweg) at all — there is only the darkness and scandal of Jesus' death. And by the faithful action of God, we are made to participate in this death. Our existence is seized and displaced, and we are situated within Jesus' own history. In short: "Grace...means neither that human beings can or should do something, nor that they can or should do nothing. Grace means that God does something." Thus the real contrast, for Barth, is not between faith and works but between the faithful "action of God" on the one hand and "all human doing or not-doing" on the other.—The Faith of Jesus Christ:, pages 295-296
I really like that; it places the emphasis squarely on God's activity in salvation. It also emphasizes the positional status of the believer—dead to sin and alive in Christ. Wonderful summary of the good news!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
What kind of God?
I don't want God as an inflated version of my best mate (who is always in a good mood and just wants to cuddle people when they fall down). I want a God who smokes (in the Sinai sense). I want the transcendent-immanent God of the Bible. I want to know the God who surpasses knowledge.
Don't give me that slushy-puppy-God and don't teach my kids that God is like that!
Give us the God that makes us fall down on our faces in wonder, love, and awe. Anything else is in danger of being an idol.
Personally, I agree with Robin. Don't give me a "nice" god; that would be too much in my own image. I need a God that can save me from myself!
Monday, April 19, 2010
Preach it, brother!
As many have heard me say, when money is your god, you will do anything to serve that god...
Friday, April 16, 2010
Entrusted to Jesus
I had never noticed that before; quite the contrast, isn't it? The evidence reveals that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are fully trustworthy. I'll take the plunge!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
History of a Docrinal Controversy
by A. Edward Siecienski
Oxford University Press, April 2010
368 pages, English
List Price: $49.95
Your Price: $44.96
I can't wait to read it! I think it will jump to the head of the line of books I'm trying to read. Thanks to Jennifer at Oxford for it!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
How old is too old?
“The continuing relationship between parents and young adult children is a really momentous change in the operational meaning of being a parent in the early 21st century,” Brookings senior fellow William Galston told The Washington Post. “No one resists or resents it. Young people expect it.”
They expect it because their parents won’t let them fail. Some employers report phone calls from parents demanding to know why their son or daughter did not get a job. It’s understandable that parents would want to ensure a secure standard of living for their children. But that’s just the problem. Parents may actually train their children to immediately expect the same standard of living they achieved after decades of work. No wonder their children don’t think they can get married until 30 and have secured a suitable paycheck, good health benefits, and a nice home of their own.
"Train up a child" goes both ways, unfortunately. Training your children to expect life to be easy and have everything handed to them on a platter is sinful on the parents' part and encourages a cor curvatus in se—a heart curved in on itself—on the child's part.
Let the kid fail! Someday they are going to; everybody does! If you let them fail when they are younger, the damage is less and, hopefully, they will learn...
OK, go ahead and shred me for that :)
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Faith in the gospel of John
[Raymond] Brown echoes a general consensus when he remarks that the use of the verb marks for John a sense that faith is not an internal disposition so much as an active commitment. [W.] Carter comments further that the verb and its various forms denote 'an activity that constitutes and expresses an identity in an ongoing way of life...It has the sense of living faithfully and loyally, of acting with fidelity'. This is reflected in his suggestion that instead of 'believe' the verb πιστέυω [PISTEUW] be more frequently translated 'entrust' so as to communicate a dynamic sense of commitment and attachment and emphasize the activity involved.—The Faith of Jesus Christ:, p 234
I like that, entrust. I think we have used the word "faith" so much that it has almost ceased to have any meaning. Maybe if we used "entrust" it would make us see things a bit differently? What do you think?
Strange book description
With the Kingdom's inauguration will come a cessation of global hostilities. Peace alas!
Bad proof reading, or Freudian slip?
Monday, April 12, 2010
We get the compost free from the city of Warsaw. They have an excellent composting program; they take the leaves and brush that they collect and compost it, giving it back to the community for 6 weeks every Spring and Fall. This weekend was the first of the Spring weekends, so Jim drove down from Goshen early Saturday to grab the first load. They are only open from 8-12 on Saturday morning, so it is a fight against the clock to get what you can.
We managed to get 4 loads, which is one more than I had managed last year. We spent the rest of the day building 5 new beds, transplanting raspberries, and filling some of the beds. A very time consuming task. By the end of the day, we were both a bit tired, but happy with the results.
Sunday, I finished transplanting most of the raspberries—they were in the garden last year and we are making 2 separate beds for them this year, and filled the remaining beds with compost. Because I ended up with too many raspberry plants for the 2 beds, I made a smaller bed on the west side of the garden; I'll transplant the rest of the plants tonight.
I also found time to transplant the tomato seedlings into a cold frame. I'll let them grow there until it is warm enough for them to survive in the open. I also planted 3 rows of carrots in the frame to fill it out. And, I planted some more peas.
Overall, a very profitable weekend...
The Faith of Jesus Christ
The Faith of Jesus Christ:
Exegetical, Biblical, and Theological Studies
Edited by Michael Bird and Preston M. Sprinkle
Hendrickson Publishers, 2009
356 pages, English
Paper, 6 x 9
List Price: $19.95
Your Price: $16.96
I recently finished this book. It is a great introduction to the status questionis (state of research) on the whole πίστις Χριστοῦ (pistis Christou) debate. The books examines all the major (and some minor) suggestions that have been proposed over the years, so if you want a quick (well, not terribly quick) update, this is the book to read. It is full of technical arguments from the Greek and exegetical gymnastics defending each position.
The two article I found the most interesting were the one on the gospel of John, and the one by Ben Myers, probably because they are tangential to the normal arguments :)
I'll be excerpting from them this week.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Why do people walk away?
The biblical understanding of a “wonderful life” looks dramatically different than the consumer culture’s definition of a “wonderful life.” If this assumption is never identified, named, and deconstructed, a person may hear “God love you and has a wonderful plan for your life” very differently than we intend. This is the problem we must begin to address if we hope to slow the exodus of people from the church. It’s not that we are failing to preach the gospel, but that we are failing to deconstruct the consumer filter through which people twist and receive it. The result is a hybrid consumer gospel in which God exists to serve me and accomplish my desires in exchange for my obedience—voila, Moralistic Divination.
He calls that the false gospel. People leave because their theology demands a god who serves them. The other reason he identifies is the structure of many churches:
Unfortunately for the last few decades, our ecclesiology in North America has been heavily influenced by the values of secular corporations. And I can’t think of a profitable corporation that has achieved success by promoting love above efficiency.
Take the time to read the whole thing. But, it seems in both cases it boils down to a church that is too enamored with the world to be different from it. Jesus said that we would be known as his disciples by our love—not the size of our congregations or budgets. Not by the correctness of our doctrine, but by our love. Why do we always get it backwards? (Rhetorical question)
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Thought for the day
Where does hope begin? Strangely enough, hope begins with depravity. We do not hope unless we are without. If we have it, we don't hope for it, whatever "it" might be.
Interesting place to begin, isn't it? I hadn't thought of it that way before, but it is true. If we know we have nothing, then we can begin to hope for something—in this case holiness.
You can read the first chapter here
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Tozer on Tuesdays
What made Tozer extraordinary was his approach to prayer and faith. He became enthralled by God in a way few men or women do-though many hope to. In his first editorial, he wrote:
“It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages, while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that.”
I love reading Tozer; he was a man ahead of his time. He saw the problems that are plaguing the church before others noticed them. Even now, reading him is fresh and alive. Would that there were more writers like that...
Monday, April 05, 2010
how does your garden grow?
Radishes, spinach, romaine lettuce, and beets:
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Special Eisenbrauns April First sale!
BookNews from Eisenbrauns
Spring is finally here, and the many avid gardeners among us are turning over a new leaf — quite literally, in the case of our compost piles. With that in mind, we bring you four new products from partner Winged Bull Press on the themes of "green" and "compost." Happy digging!
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