Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The woman who makes a dog the centre of her life loses, in the end, not only her human usefulness and dignity but even the proper pleasure of dog-keeping. The man who makes alcohol his chief good loses not only his job but his palate and all power of enjoying the earlier (and only pleasurable) levels of intoxication. It is a glorious thing to feel for a moment or two that the whole meaning of the universe is summed up in one woman--glorious so long as other duties and pleasures keep tearing you away from her. But clear the decks and so arrange your life (it sometimes feasible) that you will have nothing to do but contemplate her, and what happens? Of course this law has been discovered before, but it will stand re-discovery. It may be stated as follows: every preference of a small good to a great, or partial good to a total good, involves the loss of the small or partial good for which the sacrifice is made (Readings for Meditation and Reflection, pgs. 14-15).
I especially find the line about the "earlier levels" of intoxication amusing and his analogies so apt.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
- Transcriptions of MSS: Phil Comfort & David Barrett, The Text of the Earliest Greek Manuscripts - including P46, 66, 52.
- Editions of the Gk NT including: NA26, UBS4, Tischendorf and Westcott & Hort.
- Translation of the DSS (Martini) and transcriptions of the Cairo Geniza Targumic Fragments.
- Aramaic Papyri: A. Cowley
- B. Metzger, Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament
- K. Aland, Synopsis of the Four Gospels
- Lexical Resources: BDAG, EDNT, TDNT, and Louw-Nida.
- Church History: Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers.
- Apostolic Fathers: editions by Michael Holmes and K. Lake.
- Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha: editions by R.H. Charles
- Texts: editions of LXX, Peshitta, Vulgate
- E. Tov's interlinear Hebrew and Greek of the LXX
- Reference works: Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, Harper Bible Dictionary, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, The Encyclopedia of Christianity (4 vols.), The Context of Scripture (3 vols.).
- A selection of Paternoster Biblical Monographs.
- Full commentary series:BECNT, NIGTC, NAC, Pillar NTC.
- Philo and Jospehus - in English but only Philo is available in Greek.
- I should also add that there is an array of resources available on their pre-pub site that has some classics, out of print resources, new books, commentaries, and monographs.
“[God] reckons righteousness to them, not because he accounts them to have kept his law personally (which would be a false judgment), but because he accounts them to be united to one who kept it representatively (and that is a true judgment)”
—J. I. Packer, “Justification,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1984], p. 596.
Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches.
I encourage you to read this importnat essay.
NIU is the primary target of our college ministry at Christ Community Church the university where I am college pastor. It is a university embedded in mid-western farmland with over 18, 000 undergrads plus another few thousand grads and post-grad students. The AAFT group only boasts of meetings of around 10-25 people according to the article, but it is significant that they are getting the attention of a major newspaper like the Tribune. One may be justified in thinking that the Tribune had something of an agenda in devoting so much print to a rather insignificant story. There could very well be an interest in doing more than reporting culture here. This skepticism notwithstanding, the story does raise the issue of Atheism on campuses in the US and I imagine this would true also in universities around the Western world.
The story's primary point is that atheism is on the rise among the young and educated and these are a different breed of atheist than those of a former generation. Far from being belligerent, these atheists are "kinder, gentler religious skeptics". According to the story these young atheists are more interested in joining forces with their theistic neighbors to do humanitarian work than to engage in a debate.
Truth be told, I am no apologist and I avoid debates like the plague. So I’m glad that the new atheists are not generally interested in arguments. Still, the Tribune story points to the fact that books like the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins have emboldened young skeptics to “come out” of the closet so to speak. Now I have not read Dawkins’ book, but I have read Alister and Joanna McGrath’s response to the God Delusion published this year by InterVarsity, The Dawkins Delusion? The main take away for me from this very brief book was that to many, even those who are atheists, Dawkins has written a polemical book that is both thin on evidence and shaky in its scholarly integrity. While I don’t suppose a person fond of Dawkins’ book will wish to read the McGraths, I think it is a useful read for those of us who are uninitiated in these topics.
The most disturbing point raised by the article in the Tribune was the story of a young woman whose faith in the Christian God was shaken by the “non-fiction aspects of the novels ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Angles [sic] & Demons’" and by “her Internet research into world religions”. The fact that emerging adults are allowing these things to be the primary influence for their views of the Christian God is horrifying. We as the church need to do a much greater job of communicating and providing a relevant alternative to this strong cultural propaganda.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
While I demur from Hengel’s treatment of the incident at Antioch for the reasons given above, I remain convinced that Hengel has tapped into the nerve of Paul’s thought and demonstrated the radical stance of Paul and the Torah that made him the controversial figure that he was. Yet this Christ-Torah antithesis needs some qualifications as I suspect that it does not mean what many Protestant commentators think it means. It does not mean that Jewish Christians should cease observing the law, nor does it mean that the Torah has nothing binding on the ethical life of Gentile Christians. Rather, the advent of Christ means that his death and resurrection has effected the end of ages and broken the link between law, sin, and death. Christ turns the condemnation of the law into justification. Christ made the curse of the law into redemption. Faith in Christ is the testimony of the law and yet faith in Christ places believers beyond the jurisdiction of the law. Christ terminates the Mosaic dispensation in order to fulfil the Abrahamic hopes. Christ serves the circumcision by making Gentiles heirs of the Patriarchs.
 Martin Hengel, “The Stance of the Apostle Paul Toward the Law in the Unknown Years Between Damascus and Antioch,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism: Volumes 2 – The Paradoxes of Paul, eds. D.A. Carson, P.T. O’Brien, and M.A. Seifrid (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004), 84.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
One reviewer calls An Education a “beguiling little film that, with deceptive restraint and forthrightness, opens up worlds of roiling [disturbing], contradictory emotions” (Ann Hornaday, Washington Post). The “near perfect cinematic experience”, An Education, is a 2009 independent British coming of age drama film.
The film was directed by Danish born director Lone Scherfig who has only directed one other English-language film: the comedic drama Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself (2002) shot in Scotland. She co-wrote and directed the film.
British born Nick Hornby who has written novels and adapted them for the screen wrote the screenplay for An Education. To his credit are the films High Fidelity, About a Boy and Fever Pitch. Fever Pitch incidentally was in its prior form a story about an Englishman’s obsession with the Arsenal Football Club in London. It was later adapted in the US and Jimmy Fallon played an obsessive Red Sox fan.
In this case, Horby didn’t write the story however. It was adapted from Lynn Barber’s memoir of the same name. Barber is a journalist in London and published a ten-page memoir in the literary magazine Granta in the spring of 2003 about her two-year relationship as a 16-year Oxford University bound old school girl with a thirtysomething con-man named “Simon”.
Hornby’s screenplay is to a considerable degree true to the original memoir. The film is the product of a close collaboration between Scherfig and Hornby. In an interview Scherfig admits to “touching [the screenplay] less than I ever have anything I've worked with”. And she remarks about her role as director of this film:
[I]t was about being loyal and trusting that the story would be strong enough to carry a film. If you don't do that or think that way, you probably shouldn't direct something like this. Nick is extremely orderly. There are no set-ups that don't have payoffs; everything is there for a reason, or if it's not, it's really entertaining. That's quite a good reason, too. So it's not that I just didn't want to fix things. It's also because I didn't really feel I had a right to or reason to.
The story is set in the pre-Beatles era of the early 1960’s (1961 to be exact) in the sleepy London suburb of Twickenham. Jenny Millar (played by Carey Mulligan) is a 16-year-old student preparing for University in England’s version of a prep school. She is obsessed with things French and dreams of a sophisticated life beyond the overbearing protection of her father Jack (played by Alfred Molina) whose equally obsessed with his daughter learning Latin and getting into Oxford.
One rainy day, while walking home with her cello, Jenny meets David Goldman (Peter Saargard). Her life is never the same. David introduces her to the sophisticated life she dreamed of and even after realizing his money comes by way of shady business she willingly continues to enjoy the life that he offers her.
Without giving more away, she gains an education in life that ultimately compliments her bookish education.
Here’s what Lynn Barber wrote of her experience on which the film is based:
What did I get from Simon? An Education – the thing my parents always wanted me to have. I learned a lot in my two years with Simon. I learned about expensive restaurants and luxury hotels and foreign travel, I learned about antiques and Bergman films and classical music. All this was useful when I went to Oxford – I could read a menu, I could recognize a fingerbowl, I could follow an opera. I was not a complete hick. But actually there was a much bigger bonus than that. My experience with Simon entirely cured my craving for sophistication. By the time I got to Oxford, I wanted nothing more than to meet kind, decent, straightforward boys my own age, no matter if they were gauche or virgins. I would marry one eventually and stay married all my life and for that, I suppose, I have Simon to thank.
Life Education. The film asserts that to truly learn, one must experience things personally. There are lessons that books just can’t teach you and these lessons are the most important ones. Jenny signs up willingly for the seminar in real life David offers her. She willingly embraces the curriculum of art galleries, the opera, night clubs, race tracks and international travel. What could be (perhaps should be) a stomach curling story of a sexual predator is turned into a story of a coming of age by the very able screen writer and director. And all of this is supported by Jenny’s parents and particularly her father who is, in the end, less determined that she go to Oxford than he is that she (and he) achieve an upgrade in social class.
So as you watch the film think about the education Jenny receives through her relationship with David. How does the perspective of personal experience jive with the biblical worldview?
Sexual revolution of the 1960’s. The film asserts that the radical societal changes of the 1960’s (often referred to as the “Sexual Revolution”) had positive elements and, all in all, made a positive contribution to the maturing western world. The most significant element of the changes, as illustrated in the film, was the dramatic shift away from traditional values. This change affected sexuality and sexual behavior, birthed feminism and women’s rights and was the cultural condition for the passage of the civil rights legislation.
The sexual revolution made personal freedom and the quest to find “one’s self” outside of what had been traditionally elements of adult identity—academic education, marriage and family—an obsession.
Jenny’s coming of age story is a symbol for the coming of age of the culture. The message is essentially: “Ok there were some excesses and not all aspects of it were positive, but generally we are better off having lived through it.”
To many, the sexual revolution of the 60’s paved the way for the progress of the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and beyond.
As you watch the very stylized presentation of the era, think about what contributions the societal changes made both positively and negatively.
The seduction of sophistication. One of the memorable lines in the film is Jenny’s comment that she wants to spend time with “People who know lots about lots”. This line and the story touches on a mystery of adolescence. In the quest for autonomy and the desire to have the trappings of adulthood, one of adolescence’s strongest impulses is sophistication.
As the film shows, there is something seductive about the freedom of adulthood. This sophistication is often expressed as the fantasy of relationship with older people.
As you watch the film thing about why sophistication is so seductive. What does a biblical worldview offer by way of critique of this fantasy?
“Action is character”. The film asserts at one point explicitly and throughout implicitly that what is important is not one’s words but one’s actions when it comes to knowing who a person really is.
The negative consequences (or lack of) from our past mistakes. The film presents Jenny’s exploits with David having certain consequences. Some of these are even seen as positive. However, in the end she is not all that worst for ware as she achieves her dream of going to Oxford after all. What’s more, she’s all she more mature with a wide breadth of life experience.
Barber herself however noted the negative consequences of her experience when she wrote:
But there were other lessons Simon taught me that I regret learning. I learned not to trust people; I learned not to believe what they say but watch what they do; I learned to suspect that anyone and everyone is capable of “living a lie”. I came to believe that other people – even when you think you know them well – are ultimately unknowable. Learning all this was a good basis for my subsequent career as an interviewer, but not, I think, for life. It made me too wary, too cautious, too ungiving. I was damaged by my education.
About this lack of real consequences, one reviewer commented,
In the film’s historical view Jenny is a generational pioneer, and Ms. Scherfig and Mr. Hornby make some effort to reckon the costs of her exploration as well as the thrills. Tears do flow after the Champagne is all drunk. But the filmmakers themselves seem too intoxicated by the mystique of the period to take full account of the sad, bleak aspects of the story they have to tell. At crucial moments the movie recoils from its own implications and finds a default tone of wry comedy when something more stringent and difficult is called for . . . It’s a pleasure—which I don’t mean as a compliment (A. O. Scott, NY Times).
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
Sunday, July 04, 2010
“That there is the same equality before the righteous and loving God, and the same fellowship between Him and all, the apostle most clearly showed, speaking to the following effect: 'Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed, so that the law became our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith; but after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster' [Gal. 3:23-25]. Then he provided the saying, clear of all partiality: ‘For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. For as many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is no male and female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus’” [Gal. 3:26–28] (Paed. 1.6.30–31.1).
“There are not, then, in the same Word some ‘gnostics’ and some ‘psychics’ but all who have abandoned the desires of the flesh are equal and spiritual before the Lord. And again he writes in another place: ‘For in the one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, and we have all drunk one spirit’” [ 1 Cor.12:13] (Paed.1.6.30–31)
1 - scripture
2 - God
3 - election
Election is always a tough one. Double or single? Have new readings of Paul made a difference to what needs to be said about Israel? What is the purpose of the doctrine of election, dogmatically speaking?
4 - the atonement
Classic evangelicalism has always stood firm on the centrality of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ for the propitiation of our sins. But even between those who would agree that penal substitution is an indispensable part of the Bible’s teaching on the atonement - what place does it have within the whole scope of the Bible’s teaching? How does it relate to other descriptions of the atonement in Scripture?
5 - justification
6 - anthropology
7 - sin
8 - philosophy & theology
9 - apologetics
10 - church
11 - hermeneutics
Saturday, July 03, 2010
American patriotism is a national pride which, to a degree, is deserved, right and appropriate. And we celebrate our country this weekend and are thankful to God for the privileges our nation affords us—especially the freedom to worship Jesus.
A number of years ago, however, I had an experience that caused me to reflect on patriotism.
My wife Karla and I were living in England at the time and there were a number of other Americans around. One year someone decided that we should throw a big 4th of July barbecue. You might not have ever appreciated this before—I hadn’t, but the Independence Day is not exactly a popular holiday in England!
About 40 of us showed up with some English friends for a traditional 4th of July celebration. About 40 of us showed up with some English friends for a traditional 4th of July celebration.
• We grilled hotdogs and burgers and ate potato salad.
• We sang our country’s songs.
• We read from our country’s foundational documents and some of the writings of our Founding Fathers.
• We reflected on our country’s ideals and our hearts were warmed to our native land.
• We all left with full hearts, with a renewed sense of patriotism and that intangible experience of being in the presence of people who were uncannily familiar, and this in spite of many difference—Americans from all points of the compass.
On that day in Cambridge, England, the presence of the America was tangible. The USA was heard, tasted, and experienced. We became an American outpost in an English backyard.
Since that sun afternoon in an English garden I reflected on the similarity between that experience and what we do when we gather together as a church; and not least when we come together as we are today to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus through the Lord’s Supper, the Communion.
Believers in Jesus are citizens of God’s government whose king is the resurrected Son of God, Jesus Messiah. The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Philippians (3:20) that a believer’s citizenship is in heaven from where we eagerly await the arrival of our Savior. Christians are expatriates of a foreign government—a government that will arrive in the future. Christians are people who presently reside in a foreign land no matter where they are on the earth.
When we gather to worship Jesus weekly we are outposts, enclaves, if you will, of a future kingdom which has broken into, that has stormed the present world in the work of Jesus. Like the Allied Forces invading the Normandy Beaches early on a June morning in 1944 God’s kingdom has begun to liberate this world. The Church is a station of liberation.
When we gather weekly we embody God’s foreign society on earth.
• We sing songs celebrating our founding as a people and the ideals of the Kingdom.
• We listen to the Bible, the foundational text of our identity as a people.
• We reflect on the ideals of the kingdom..
• We depart again into the foreign land with hearts full, with a renewed sense of identity and with that intangible experience of being truly understood and known.
• And . . . we eat; we eat the meal of the kingdom, the Lord’s Supper.
Our regular gatherings and the work of the church in the world represent the tangible presence of a distant kingdom within a foreign country. This can perhaps be called Messianic Patriotism, the patriotism inspired by Jesus’ Messianic kingdom. An infinitely more profound patriotism than that inspired by American action and ideals.
When partaking of the Lord’s Supper the church looks backward as it commemorates what Jesus has done for us in the giving his body, represented by the bread, and shedding his blood, represented by the cup. Jesus himself, when instituting the meal with his disciples on the night he was betrayed, referred to his work, represented by the bread and the cup, as establishing a new Constitution, a new Covenant.
By his death and resurrection God made it possible for sinners to be forgiven and to become his people.
The Lord’s Supper also looks forward and anticipating that future day when Jesus returns as the King and savior of the world. On that future day, the Bible tells us he’ll hold a great banquet in celebration of his victory over evil and sin and the creative work of a new earth. Communion is a foretaste of that Messianic banquet.
So when we partake of the Lord’s Supper we are celebrating the ground, the basis, the foundation of our new citizenship, but we also are celebrating the assured hope of the future world with God in the Messianic Kingdom.
PS: HBO has been showing the mini-Series John Adams and it provides a powerful picture of the forces that led to the Declaration of Independence and its aftermath.