Friday, August 29, 2014

But that's just too blunt

When we put it plainly like this—as a direct choice between God and our stuff—most of us hope we would choose God. But we need to realize that how we spend our time, what our money goes toward, and where we will invest our energy is equivalent to choosing God or rejecting Him. How could we think for even a second that something on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all.—Crazy Love, electronic edition

Just do it!

[T]hough I do not wish to deny the mental aspect of being wise, the latter part of Proverbs depicts wisdom at least as much as wise living as wise thinking. This means that in order to experience God’s presence in one’s life it is inevitable not only to think the right things but also to do them, according to Proverbs.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 185

<idle musing>
Once again our "brains on a stick" mentality doesn't cut it when you look for it in scripture. Orthodoxy = orthopraxy.
</idle musing>

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I've got it together

Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don’t have to trust God if something unexpected happens—they have their savings account. They don’t need God to help them—they have their retirement plan in place. They don’t genuinely seek out what life God would have them live—they have life figured and mapped out. They don’t depend on God on a daily basis—their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God.—Crazy Love, electronic edition

<idle musing>
Sound pretty boring to me...
</idle musing>

No doubt

The opposite of trust in God in Proverbs is not so much ‘doubt’ in God (which is seldom mentioned if at all, at least not explicitly) but trust in oneself (cf. 3:5 vs 3:7; 28:25-26.) No wonder the reader of Proverbs is so often reminded about the dangers of pride.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 150

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Play it safe

Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God.—Crazy Love, electronic edition

<idle musing>
And, I would add, experiencing the joy of knowing that God cares for every need...
</idle musing>

The source

Proverbs 2 does not teach that the ‘world order’ is independent from Yahweh. On the contrary, the order of reality is that wisdom, and therefore justice and protection, proceed from Yahweh. The teaching is not about Yahweh and the world order but about Yahweh’s mind as the world order. If one longs for understanding the world properly, then he or she has to understand God first, as he is the order of the world. God is the reality.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 149

Monday, August 25, 2014


Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one.—Crazy Love, electronic edition

Brains on a stick?

As for the ‘knowledge of God,’ we have seen that most commentators understand it in Hosea in a covenantal framework in which it refers both to history and law. We have also seen that in the case of history it means more than simply being aware of the historical facts; it also means knowing that it is Yahweh who is behind those historical facts. It very probably also means more than simply being aware of some legal precepts, in the case of law. Knowledge is not enough: true knowledge is expressed by action.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, pages 139-140

<idle musing>
Indeed! This is a healthy corrective to our cerebral christianity...
</idle musing>

Friday, August 22, 2014


I was told that I was good enough, “godly enough.”

But this went against everything I was reading in the Bible, so I eventually rejected what the majority said and began to compare all aspects of my life to scripture. I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. That’s for the “radicals” who are “unbalanced” and who go “overboard.” Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.—Crazy Love, electronic edition

Backwards, as usual

Wisdom repeatedly claims about herself that she provides riches, so, though it is not stated explicitly, one can logically deduce that wisdom is better than riches because wisdom can provide riches, whereas riches do not lead to wisdom. Furthermore, the context of some of the ‘better than’ sayings suggest that this virtuous character is useful for survival and protection.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 125

<idle musing>
Of course, we get it backwards, as usual. We want riches, thinking they will take care of us; but they won't. They can't. Only God can. And wisdom is a gift from God...
</idle musing>

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What does this mean?

picked this in my garden this AM. maybe I should call a priest and see what kind of an omen it is...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

About those thorns...

[Talking about the parable of the sower, Chan says:] My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil.

I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns. Thorns are anything that distracts us from God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.—Crazy Love, electronic edition


The transition from industrial society to post-industrial societies . . . brings a polarization between Survival and Self-expression values. The unprecedented wealth that has accumulated in advanced societies during the past generation means that an increasing share of the population has grown up taking survival for granted. Thus, priorities have shifted from an overwhelming emphasis on economic and physical security toward an increasing emphasis on subjective well-being, self-expression and quality of life.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 114

<idle musing>
And what does that mean to us, as we read the book of Proverbs? It will be interesting to see him develop this...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

It's that parent thing

My own love and desire for my kids’ love is so strong that it opened my eyes to how much God desires and loves us. My daughter’s expression of love for me and her desire to be with me is the most amazing thing. Nothing compares to being truly, exuberantly wanted by your children.

Through this experience, I came to understand that my desire for my children is only a faint echo of God’s great love for me and for every person He made.—Crazy Love, electronic edition

<idle musing>
Amen to that. I have frequently asked people why they think God loves and cares for them less than they do their children. I know a man who drove from here to Arizona to get one of his kids who was in trouble. But he was questioning the degree of God's care for him! Once he saw the disconnect, he laughed. God loves us so much more than that! And we question his love and care for us?!

It can only be because we've believed the enemy's lies about who God is and what he is like. We need the Holy Spirit to correct our screwed up concepts of God! Even so, come Lord Jesus! Come into our lives and minds and transform us by the power of your love!
</idle musing>

Missing the point

Therefore, the special emphasis of wisdom is on long life and the ability to avoid dangerous situations. This emphasis is too little recognised in scholarly discussions, maybe because of wisdom’s special connection with the wise and fabulously rich Solomon, and maybe also because of the sociological context of many modern western interpreters, who are probably more interested in prosperity than in survival.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 114

<idle musing>
Bingo! He hit the nail on the head with that last statement. We are so assured of our survival—probably incorrectly so!—that we want prosperity. That pretty much marginalizes Proverbs...
</idle musing>

Monday, August 18, 2014


When we face the holy God, “nice” isn’t what we will be concerned with, and it definitely isn’t what He will be thinking about. Any compliments you received on earth will be gone; all that will be left for you is truth.—Crazy Love, electronic edition

<idle musing>
That could be a scary thought! Good thing God is crazy over us...
</idle musing>

Look out!

[T]he most significant feature of wisdom in the book of Proverbs, [is] namely, that it is a tool to survive. Proverbs sees the world as a fundamentally dangerous place. Whybray notes in connection with chapters 10:1–22:16 and 25–29 that it is dominated by the language of disaster. No less than 103 verses (out of 513) are about different possibilities of personal disasters.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, pages 110-111

<idle musing>
20%! I wonder how many different disasters there are...
</idle musing>

Friday, August 15, 2014

Not too much, just everything

We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He’s great and deserves to be the center of our lives. Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers.—Crazy Love, electronic edition

<idle musing>
I finally read this book. I know, it's been out for how long? But it was good. Be prepared for some choice excerpts for a while...
</idle musing>

Context? What context?

In fact, I would rather say that in a sense proverbs are too alive without a context. They can have many meanings, connotations, nuances. Many of them can be approached from a theological perspective, or from a psychological one, or from a historical one, etc., as the reader wishes, basically without restrictions.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 84

Thursday, August 14, 2014

We forget

However valid and helpful the historical and sociological analyses are, we should not forget that historical understanding, which focuses more on the motivations, aims, and circumstances of the authors, cannot be equated completely with the understanding of a biblical text.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 82

<idle musing>
The historical-critical method is wonderful, but it has its limits—something which we so easily forget. Us academic types don't have a problem parsing out a verse and describing all the ins and outs of grammar and history and social setting and... But is that what it really is all about? In the end, isn't it about changing lives and allowing the kingdom to become a reality in my life?

I have to confess that I'm not as good at that...I too easily allow the academic to get in the way of the Spirit's working. I get sidetracked by an interesting variant in the apparatus, or a minor grammatical point, or...the list goes on and on. And the Spirit is quenched. Not always, mind you. Sometimes the Spirit is in the rabbit trails; I need to listen and hear which are of the Spirit and which aren't. Total dependence, every moment dependence. In absolute humility and trust.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's the Spirit, stupid...

The story of the Son’s incarnation, death, and resurrection narrates the restoration to human nature of its capacity for imaging the divine likeness by living in relationship with God; the activity of the Spirit applies this healing to humanity. “What Christ has accomplished universally, the Spirit perfects particularly.” Thus, the Son does not redeem human beings without the Spirit’s work of ingrafting them into the triune life. Without the abiding presence of the Spirit, we cannot begin to follow Christ. Through the indwelling of the Spirit, human persons become partakers of the divine nature.— Theosis, Volume 2, page 230

<idle musing>
That's the final selection from this book. As I said when I started it, the first two chapters are a bit to get through, but after that, it's great. I would still say that I preferred the first volume, but this is a good addition.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

About the traumatic encounter

More specifically, it [the emphasis on conversion experience] reflects a narrow understanding of soteriology to a specific “traumatic event which chronicled the day and the moment from here to eternity.” This practice of salvation expresses the conviction that if one turns from sin, prays “the sinner’s prayer,” and let’s Jesus into one’s heart, and believes, one is saved. In other words, this specific experience of regeneration diminishes the journey or story of salvation to a transactional, decisive, voluntary, punctiliar, individual moment which provides immediate salvation, once and for all. The negative effect of such a foreshortening of the drama of salvation for Baptists in the American South has resulted in, first, an overemphasis on justification, understood in almost exclusively forensic terms, and secondly an increasing divide between justification and sanctification. Moreover, salvation has been located in the solitary self, whose traumatic conversion experience alone could attest to the efficacy of Christ’s work of reconciliation. Thus the soteriological focus is an almost exclusive concern for the gateway to conversion rather than on the way of the Christian life.— Theosis, Volume 2, page 206

<idle musing>
And then we wonder why there are so few willing to go beyond a simple confession into a life of discipleship...
</idle musing>

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Context is king

[I]if we were to try to read Proverbs 1–9 solely in the light of the foreign instructions, rather than the Jewish context in which it was composed, this would be like reading the Aeneid solely on the basis of the Greek epic tradition while ignoring its context in Roman literature and thought.—Stuart Weeks quoted in Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 69

Friday, August 08, 2014

Divide that topic

The continuing tradition of treating creation and salvation as distinct topics in Systematic Theology leaves the impression that the divine purposes can be divided at least into two distinct phases, if not intention. I want to suggest that this is misleading and is a distortion of the biblical witness, which leads to an under-valuing and possible exploitation of the created order.— Theosis, Volume 2, page 197

<idle musing>
Ain't it the truth! We love our categories, though, so I doubt we'll stop dividing and subdividing anytime soon. But the consequences of atomization...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Common knowledge

One has to admit that there is not much in the information offered by Proverbs that we could not find in, say, Egyptian or Babylonian literature. As I see it, the main difference is not in the book but around the book. It is its embeddedness in Old Testament literature, its allusions to and echoes of typical biblical topics and thoughts which make it characteristically different from other ancient Near Eastern literature.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 67

That explains a lot

These garments of skin are put on human beings after “Fall” and are understood to indicate that what can be said empirically to be “human nature” is not the original nature as created by God. This construal of the “Fall” by Eastern writers tends to be focused on human embodiment rather than on the “will,” which leaves open the possibility of the human person conforming his/her will (under grace) to the divine will, and therefore the possibility of a theandric “synergy.” In the works of Augustine of Hippo the consequences of the “Fall” are focused on the inability of the human will and the lack of true freedom of the will. The consequence of these different emphases in the interpretation of the “Fall” means that the possibility of the created order co-operating with God’s redemptive activity is on the whole excluded by those who follow the Augustinian tradition.— Theosis, Volume 2, page 196

<idle musing>
That explains a lot. Personally, I think it also excludes a lot of scripture...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Remove that one more step, please

What I mean is that one can deduce the idea of an abstract order from the text, and then, instead of interacting with the actual biblical text itself, one can start speculating about the theological utilisations of the idea of this deduced concept of world order―without recognising that they are not engaged with the text anymore but only with their reconstruction of the text’s teaching.—Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs, page 63


But while reacting as it is to the excesses of the historical-critical method, Protestant Christian hermeneutical culture has still let that method condition its exegesis and approach toward things divine. It remains in many ways preoccupied with a logical historical, often compartmentalized approach to exegesis and approach to God. Today much of Protestant Christianity is also struggling to come to terms with a Christ who is fully human, fully divine at one and the same time in one and the same person, the God-man, Jesus Christ. Christianity today either brings God so far down to our level that his transcendence is nonexistent, or God is considered so “other” that any encounter with him seems beyond the limits of human existence.— Theosis, Volume 2, page 178

Monday, August 04, 2014

Why that word and not another

Cyril [of Alexandria] chose to speak of this intimate relationship in terms of theosis which, to the Greek mind, was the most intimate relationship one could have with God—more intimate than a synaphic/familiaritas type of union because theosis moves beyond relationship to transformation, a transformation that includes an ontological ascent, although not a change into another nature, although we are “well-nigh” transformed into another nature and provided a union with that nature that does indeed change us.— Theosis, Volume 2, page 176

The purpose matters

[W]e dare not come to the place where we let the Scripture become something we control instead of the Word of God being something that controls us. All unwittingly, the text has become an end in itself for us to study, master and control, instead of a means for an encounter with God.— Lectures in Old Testament Theology, page 458

<idle musing>
An appropriate final excerpt from the book. I hope you have enjoyed the excerpts from the book; it definitely would be worth your effort to read the whole thing. If you want to read more of Kinlaw, I would suggest We Live As Christ or The Mind of Christ. Both are transcriptions of lecture series that he gave.

He is best when lecturing. He only wrote one or two books as books—the rest are transcriptions of his lectures. The books he wrote as books don't have the same feel to them and I wouldn't recommend them.
</idle musing>

Friday, August 01, 2014

The problem with my Bible

Excellent post about my Bible over at Jesus Creed. Here's a brief snippet, but please, do yourself a favor and read the whole thing!
At times I came to the conclusion that my Bible might be wrong. Then along came a series of very encouraging books and articles and conversations, too many to mention in this context, that provided another way. What I learned was that “my Bible” was in fact my reading of the Bible. Maybe it wasn’t so much the Bible that was wrong but the way I was reading the Bible through the lens of my own questions, questions shaped more by my past worries about evolution and less by learning to read the Bible in its own historical and theological context. (emphasis original)

Our inheritance

Exact opposites are brought together in Christ—the creature and the Creator. The Creator by virtue of his own power as God expands the limitations of the creature, which he is free to do, providing the creature with the glory that Christ has by nature, and allowing the human individual to be an actual partaker of that nature that is God the Word’s that he, as the Word, holds in common with the Father; but is not held in common by nature with the flesh he assumed.— Theosis, Volume 2, pages 174-175

You thought you understood it...

Now I have heard, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” [Psalm 126:5] applied to prayer. The ideas is that if you pray sincerely enough, weeping, that the weeping will make your prayer more effective. However, I do not think that is what is being talked about at all. I think you and I ought to be sincere in prayer, but the key to interpreting this psalm is in the linkage between sow and tears. When you sow, your interest is tomorrow, not today. And the probabilities are that when you sow, your interest is in somebody beyond yourself. But when my circumstances go wrong, I do not want to think about the future; I want to forget all about it. The last thing I am interested in is spending what energy I have left thinking about something way down the road and preparing for it. Despair makes you captive to the moment. But the psalmist says, when despair comes, don’t let it capture you; keep thinking about tomorrow and planning. He does not say to stop weeping; but he does say not to let the weeping prevent you from sowing in faith for the future.— Lectures in Old Testament Theology, page 437

<idle musing>
Vintage Kinlaw. As I've said before, he had a way of taking something we had read a hundred times and then getting us to see it in a new—and more accurate—way.
</idle musing>