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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Last Word

"We have for too long been in thralled to philosophers like Feuerbach, who wanted to reduce all talk of God to talk of humans and their experiences."

- N. T. Wright, The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture; p. 39.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Kim Fabricius on Preaching

Over at Faith and Theology Kim Fabricius has written an excellent essay titled Ten Propositions on Preaching. This is an excellent post, very much worth a thorough reading.

Thanks a bunch Kim for providing such a good article.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Sufferings of God in Christ

[W]e cannot be honest unless we recognize that we have to live in the world etsi deus non daretur. And this is just what we do recognize)—before God! God himself compels us to recognize it. So our coming of age leads us to a true recognition of our situation before God. God would have us know that we must live as men who mange our lives without him. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us (Mark 15:34). The God who lets us live in the world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we stand continually. Before God and with God we live without God. God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us. Matt. 8:17 makes it quite dear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - from a letter written in Tegel prison, July 16th, 1944.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

When I Don’t “Feel” Like a Christian

Sometimes I don’t “feel” like a Christian. Does anyone know what that feels like? Having been raised in an environment where I was taught that one ought to read their Bible and one ought to pray regularly because if one does not do these things perhaps that one is not Christian. Does that mean if I do not read my Bible every day, or if I do not pray a particular day, that I should question whether I am Christian?

I do not think these things actually indicate whether one is a Christian. Does that mean that I think Christians should not read the Bible or pray? No, I do not think that. However, if a person fails to read his or her Bible or pray, say for instance in a given week, that certainly does not negate their being Christian. So why sometimes does it make me feel guilty if I do not pray or if I do not read my Bible regularly?

I find it interesting that much of my fundamentalist upbringing still lingers around in my thinking, and “feelings” for that matter. Guilt was a big part of my fundamentalist upbringing. You should feel guilty (or you are guilty) if you fail to follow the typical fundamentalist “do’s” and “do not’s” list. For example, I can recall when I was younger, if a member of our church did something wrong (i.e. a teenage girl got pregnant, or a teenage guy was arrested for whatever) it was attributed to a lack of something in their lives that they should have been doing, such as reading their Bible, or attending church more regularly, etc. And that is why they got into trouble or committed an evil act. Moreover, if these notions were not tossed about then the notion that that particular person (the one who committed the “act”) may perhaps not really be a Christian.

Interestingly, this same church taught, at least verbally, that one could not do anything to gain or merit salvation. However, if one did not do certain things then perhaps that person was not “saved.” Does anyone else see the problem in this thinking? I do think that reading the Bible and praying regularly are important. I also think that regular church attendance is important. However, if someone misses a week or more of these things does that give cause for them to question that they are Christian? By no means! So why, sometimes, do I still “feel” like a “non-Christian” if I fail to do these things? Woe is I!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Poll Results

Ok, here are the results of the "Preferred Beverage" poll:

If you selected -

Beer - chances are you are working class. Beer has traditionally been the preferred drink of workers or the working class. (2 people selected this drink)

Wine - consider yourself a King or Queen, since traditionally, wine has been the preferred drink of royalty. (4 people selected this drink)

Coca Cola - you're probably American and in a hurry or you like to stay busy. Coke is a drink of convenience usually accompanying certain kinds of "fast food" such as burgers and such. (2 people selected this drink)

Coffee - chances are you are white collar or possibly upper middle class. Coffee is the preferred drink of white collar office workers, teachers, politicians, etc. (2 people selected this drink)

Tea - chance are you enjoy social events, gossip, or quiet get togethers with friends, etc. Tea is a designated social drink. In certain countries (i.e. England) there are times set aside for the drinking of tea and chatting. (3 people selected this drink)

There were actually 4 votes for "other" but only one person, my brother-in-law Eric, left a message detailing what that "other" was - his choice, of course, was "Milk." I attribute that to the fact that he has 4 kids and another on the way 8-)

Anyway, this was a fun poll, thanks to all who participated.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

"When I’m Sixty-Four"

One of my all-time favorite artists (musicians) turns 64 today. In fact his music has impacted my life more than any other in my history of listening to music. His music inspired me to open up my own music shop in the mid-eighties, it inspired me as a musician recording my own music, and having seen him in concert has encouraged me when I performed my own music in the past. Of course I’m talking about Paul McCartney.

With my generation, having been born in 1965, I first heard about Paul McCartney after the Beatles had already broken up and he formed the band Wings. In fact, my all time favorite song as a kid was Paul McCartney and Wings hit song titled Let ‘Em In, and a close second was Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. The first Beatles song I can remember hearing was Penny Lane. I first hear the song in the summer of ’76, just before my 11th birthday.

I can recall being in Houston, Texas that summer and hearing Penny Lane. We were driving to the Gulf Coast, the song played and I turn to my step-sister and said that sounds like Paul McCartney. She replied, “It is, when he was with the Beatles.” My response was something like this, “With who?” (Remember I was still 10 years old, “whom” was not in my vocabulary at the time) And that was my introduction from Paul McCartney and Wings to the Beatles. Today, every time I hear Penny Lane I am reminded of that event back in the summer of ’76.

McCartney recently released his 20th album since being with the Beatles; Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. The album itself contains music that goes full circle and is very reminiscent of his music with the Beatles. Several tunes sound like something John Lennon would have written, and the song Jenny Wren is very akin to Blackbird. Moreover, there is a song titled Friends to Go which sounds like a George Harrison tune. If you like the Beatles and you enjoy McCartney I highly recommend this album.

Anyway, thanks for more than 40 years of great music and happy Birthday Paul!!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Episcopalians remain divided

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nearly 1,400 fractious Episcopalians — bogged down for a week in resolution debates and vocabulary disputes on the rights and roles of homosexuals in the church — face a vote Sunday that cannot be delayed. Read more here.

The Agnostic

I have already met several Christians at my new job. Some of them went through job training with me and others I met when I went to the actual building where I now work and got my office space. This past week, however, I had the opportunity to meet an agnostic. This happened when one of the Christians I met told me he had been discussing certain things with this girl who had a lot of questions about Christianity and such. He knew a little about my background, and asked me if I could help him answer some of her questions.

In the process of actually helping him answer her questions, I just piped up and asked, “Is she willing to talk to me?” He said let me ask her (she worked in the same building we did on a different floor). A little later that morning he sent me an e-mail telling me she wanted to talk with me, would lunch work? Of course I said “yes.” So we all met in the cafeteria on the bottom floor of the building and spent an hour discussing certain issues and answer questions.

It has been quite a while since I have actually corresponding in any sense with an atheist or an agnostic, so I thoroughly enjoyed this hour. She was genuinely searching for answers to her questions, she did ask some of the typical questions I have heard in the past, but apparently somewhere down the road prior to her talking with me she encountered some fundamentalists who told her she was going to hell, and that the bible had this that and the other in it (this that and the other being the typical “translation” that is often used in such a way as to make the text fit into the “mind frame” of the group or individual).

She told me afterward she had never really had some of her questions answered the way I answered them, and that gave her something further to think about. However, she also told me that I actually answered some of her questions to her satisfaction and that no one has ever been able to do that. I thank God for this girl, because she made me once again realise how important it is that we as Christians very much need to embrace the atheist and the agnostic as they struggle with their questions and as they seek answers. I told her at the beginning of our conversation that I was not attempting to convert her to Christianity. I was simply there to try and answer some of her questions based on my past research and experience (having described my educational background to her). This, I believe put her at ease. Too often I think she has experienced Christians who have talked with her (or at her) only to try and force her to “make a decision” with an “or else” attitude (i.e. or else you are going to hell).

Just as an FYI, here are some of the questions she asked me:

If God created man, who created God?
Why was hell created to punish man? In God’s eyes we’re suppose to be his children.
Where are the remaining books that were not included in the Bible? Why were they left out?
Why are we made to have and believe something that cannot be proven?
Do people really worship Jesus or the message he brought?
If I were to lie, but someone else were to commit murder but asks for forgiveness, who would go to hell?
Why does God allow people to hate, lie cheat, steal, etc. only to forgive them?
If “all strength comes through God” why are people who have faith in God, so weak?

These were just a few of the questions she had for me when we talked. You notice how most of the emphasis in the questions is hell, or damnation, etc. It’s as if she has mostly been presented with an angry God and tormented Christians.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Your Preferred Beverage

I have read in certain studies that what a person drinks tell a lot about that person. So, I have placed a new poll in the side bar. Feel free to vote and leave your favorite beverage in the comments if you chose "other."

[As usual, please ignore any pop-upsd that might arise from this free poll serive. I apologize ahead of time and they will discontinue as soon as the poll is over and taken off the blog. Thanks for participating]

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Mavericks and Work

The reason I have not been blogging lately is due to several things. First, this past Thursday evening (June 8th) I went to game 1 of the Mavs vs. the Heat and stayed with my dad in Addison. This was an awesome game and we sat second row from the floor, center court; my brother told me he saw us on television. I could not pass up this opportunity when my dad offered me a ticket. GO MAVS!!!

Second, it has taken me a few weeks to get adjusted to my new work schedule. In fact, I have not had too much time to read, much less blog. However, I think I'm getting adjusted, my training ends at the end of this week and that will put me on a more routine schedule, so I plan on blogging a bit more here in the near future. I did recently contribute an article to Ben Myer's blog, if you are so inclined you can read it here. Nonetheless, I think I'm back in the "blog groove" and will attempt to get a few things posted.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Gospel is at Work

"God has true believers in every professing church. Whenever there are genuine signs of faith and repentence, we must presume that the gospel is at work."

- E. J. Carnell

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Prayer of Thanksgiving for Communion

"God of all might and power, we praise you that you forged your church in the fire of the Spirit, and breathed life into your people that we might be the body of Christ. We rejoice that our Lord came to rescue us from sin and to deliver us beyond the grave to a rebirth and newness of life. By your Spirit, baptize us again with the flame of faith, fill us with the breath of zeal, inspire us with the witness of martyrs and saints, and send us forth into your world to live Christ's life in power and compassion. Take us, O God, and shape us according to your will, in the service of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, now and forever."

Taken from the liturgy of the Church (St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church) my wife and I visited this past Sunday.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Benedict Spinoza on the Impassibility of God

Does any passion on the part of God involve change in His being? Here is what Spinoza says:

Proposition (17): God is without passions, nor is he affected with any experience of joy (laetitia) or sadness (tristitia).

Demonstration: All ideas, in so far as they have reference to God, are true, that is, they are adequate: and therefore God is without passions (Deus expers est passionum). Again, God cannot pass to a higher or a lower perfection: and therefore he is affected with no emotion of joy or sadness.

Corollary: God, strickly speaking, loves no one nor hates any one. For God is affected with no emotion of joy or sadness, and consequently loves no one (neminem etiam amat) nor hates any one.

Do you agree or disagree with Spinoza? Why?