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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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is This Really The Gospel?

I found this at a particular blog (which I'll refrain from naming). I was not surprised to see this post given the blog and its owner. While I think these are certainly Reformed tenets, I'm not convinced that these, as a collection or individually, make up the gospel message. Moreover, if this is truly the gospel, actually it did not exist until the 15th century, so whatever did we do prior to that time frame? While I am not necessarily declaring that I disagree with any one or groups of these tenets, I just do not think they encapsulate the gospel message. What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree with me? Why or why not?
(Here is what the post read):

This is the gospel of Jesus Christ: salvation is by sola fide--through faith alone; sola gratia--by grace alone; solus Christus--in Christ alone; sola scriptura--according to the Word alone; soli Deo gloria -- to the glory of God alone (Rom. 3:21-26; Rom. 10:9-10; Luke 24:46-49). This is the only good news; the narrow way that leads to eternal life. Anything less, no matter how sincere, is just a cheap watered down substitute.

Just a "Friendly" Reminder

I found this picture while browsing Flickr. No one is safe except Republicans, poor people, assorted denominations, King James Only Advocates, Fundamentalists, and maybe a few others I failed to mention. Oh, and by the way, if you are not American, this does not apply to you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Interesting Discussions at Work

At my job there is a co-worker who is a Jehovah’s Witness (JW). Needless to say this has made for some very interesting discussions. I have studied the JW’s system off and on for about ten years, so there was not too much he could tell me about his beliefs that I have not already encountered. However, it still amazes me that this group of people holds to a very staunch Arian view of Jesus, a heresy that was anathematized at the council of Nicaea.

In the midst of our conversation, in good old JW fashion, he brings up the issue of the Trinity. This is a discussion that I always try to avoid when discussing theological issues with JW’s for several reasons. First, it is the most difficult doctrine to delineate without falling into some form of modalism. Second, it always ends up being a fruitless discussion because the JW’s have such a twisted translation of the Biblical texts (i.e. the New World Translation). Nonetheless, the discussion ensued and of course the deity of Jesus was brought in.

Now the JW’s have a deliberate distortion of certain passages which clearly delineate the deity of Jesus in their translation of the Bible (NWT). The primary text being John 1:1-2. When I was in seminary I presented an exposition of this passage in the context of the book of John in relation to the New World Translation’s intentional distortion of the text. I have posted portions on this blog; if you are interested you can read it here. So I was fairly prepared to put forth my argument for the deity of Christ. The problem with this discussion was the JW was so ignorant of Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics it was as if I was talking through him. His eyes glazed over and he would give me blank stares whenever I mentioned the Greek text..

I really felt for this guy because he was so sincere in what he believed. Naturally frustration ensued, which has occurred at certain times when I have discussed issues with JW’s in the past. Nonetheless, this has really caused me to think once again about issues that I have not considered in some time. I am hoping that he and I can have more discussions in the future and that he will not lose interest in discussing the issues with me.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Images of the Divine

I was recently browsing through my Flickr "favorites". These are favorite pictures that I have saved to my Flickr account of pictures that various people from all over the world have taken. What struck me most was the amount of pictures I had saved which portrayed The Divine in one way or another. All around the world images of the divine are inescapable, we can see God reflected in our Church buildings, art work, architecture, cemeteries, landscapes, homes, Icons, stain glass windows, and many other things and places. It is as if we build images of the divine in everything we create in order to demonstrate God in who and what we are. Below are a few of my favorite pictures that various people all around the world have taken which are but Shadows of the Divine.

Images of the Divine continued . . .

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

This video has nothing whatsoever to do with Thanksgiving!! But it's real cool and put a smile on my face!! Besides last year for Thanksgiving I posted a cat on a couch with a beer and remote control . . . So why not a video this year? Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Quote of the Week

"The existence of Christianity is inexplicable apart from the experience and conviction that the story of Jesus did not end with his death, but rather entered into a new and more powerful phase."

- Luke Timothy Johnson

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More Additions to my Library

Well I finally received N.T. Wright's latest book titled Evil and the Justice of God. Along with this book, I purchased Christ, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, Liturgical Theology, and The Nature of the Atonement. I have provided links and pictures (below) of each of these titles if you are interested in any of the books for yourself.

Lately, my interests have really shifted to worhip, the meaning of worship, the history of worship, etc. So in the future as I research, I'll probably be posting here and there on the topic of worship. If you have any suggestions for books about worship, please let me know. Below are pics of the latest editions to my library:

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Darkling Trush by Thomas Hardy

Below is one of my favorite poems. It is a poem of hope. Enjoy!

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was specter-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon the earth
Seemed fervorless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged trush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"A Pan, A Comb, Perhaps a Cat"

The big celebrity talk in the U.S. (and maybe around the world) is the wedding of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Cruise, a staunch Scientologists and Holmes who was raised Roman Catholic have chosen to have a Scientology wedding. The interesting thing about this is that back in the 1950's when Ron L. Hubbard was dreaming up Scientology, he took the time to develop a wedding ceremony which included several sets of vows for couples to select.

One such selection of vows has the husband promising his wife to provide her with, ". . . a pan, a comb, and perhaps a cat." Huh!! What a combination! I guess the pan is for cooking, typical 50's stereotype of the all American housewife, the comb is so she can groom herself to perfection, but what I don't get is the cat. A cat? What the heck is that for? Maybe this might clear the cat issue up . . . Here's a sweet little kitty named Conan that might go well in the Cruise household . . .

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Worship: For the Individual or Corporate?

I was involved in a conversation today at work with a few co-workers. The issue was Church and worship. While I did not actually say too much during the conversation, I certainly did a lot of listening.

A comment was made that worship is an individual experience between God and the individual; when we go to church, we are there as a body, but whether the person next to me is raising her hands or quietly sitting does not matter; what matters is what is going on between me and God.

While I agree to a certain degree with the comments made above, I think it misses the real heart of genuine worship. Certainly the focus of our worship during a church service should be God. I believe this is best demonstrated via the liturgy, prayer and the eucharist. God is the center of each of these practices during worship service. However, when these things are performed, they are performed on two levels. The first is an individual level. Certainly in worship individuals are praying to God, perhpas for forgiveness of sins, or extending a prayer for someone in need, etc. But via the liturgy, the body prays collectively. Moreover, the liturgy itself is a corporate form of worship where everyone particpates in unison, as a body.

Therefore, the second level of worship is certainly corporate. We worship together as the body of Christ. We all participate together in the body and blood of Christ via the eucharist (the Lord's Table). While in one sense we worship at church service on an individual level, this I beleive is not the essential form or level of worship. The collective corporate worship of the body of Christ is the essential form or level, if you will, of worship. This is so because if worship on an individual level is the essential form of worship, then there really is no need for us to gather together for church service at all. There is no reason for me to participate in a church worship service if the essential form of my worship is individuality of worship; strictly between God and myself.

The writer of Hebrews has made this quite clear by declaring, "never forsake the gathering of the saints." The gathering of the saints to worship is the essential form of worship because this is where the body of Christ is uniting itself visibly to collectively declare that Christ is Lord and worthy of our worship. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Creating God in Our Image

When you think about God, what comes to mind? Is what you imagine God to be like anything akin to your own personality, or the personality of one or both of your parents? These may seem like radical questions, as if anyone would actually impose their own personality, or the personality of their parents on whom God is. However, maybe we too often we have a view of God that is much too familiar with who we are.

If anything, I have at least seen this on a practical level. What I mean by “practical level” is it seems the average person in the average church (at least here in the U.S.) imposes their own self or the way in which they were raised (i.e. their parents personality) on their view of who God is. In other words, if a person had very overbearing and angry parents (or parent), then often times their view of God is that He is angry with them. I know an individual who, as that person was growing up, had a parent who simply could not express love toward this person, and now this person often times thinks God feels the same way. Wow, how troubling, but this is certainly creating God in an image that is not actually who God is.

Too often I hear people in various church settings (i.e. church picnics, or other events with Christians present) where they are discussing certain events which occurred to them (whether these events are good or bad) they will say something like this; “Well, God probably had me go through this to teach me a lesson.” Or, they will say something like; “God probably caused this to happen because He knew I needed to go through this.” There is a practical application that is always put upon God regarding everyday events, bad or good, which seems to always mold God into a personality that matches the individual or their circumstances, so to speak.

I have tried for years to determine in these discussions if the individual actually thinks God is the resident police officer of their lives waiting for them to make some wrong move so He can correct them, or straighten them out, or teach them a lesson so they will avoid such behavior or events in the future. This is a practical theology that I think, in most cases, is detrimental in one sense of another about the individual’s view of who God actually is. Could it not be that because we simply live in a fallen sinful world, “fallen” things happen and God is not always out there just waiting to whack us in the heads causing us to make better decisions, or trying to get us to avoid certain circumstances?

To be perfectly honest, this type of practical theology regarding who God is and how He works seems to be more about the personalities of the people who make such applications toward the person of God. I have tried for years to put my thoughts about this on paper and figure out what causes people to do this. I sure would like some feedback on this issue if you have any.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Today is my wedding anniversary. My wife and I have been married for 11 years today. She has actually put up with me for that long. This has to be an act of God working through her.

Personality Introspective

This was a very interesting test . . . Regarding personality and traits.

65% Introspective
description: happy, level emotions, not easily discouraged, optimistic, fearless, self confident, non-hostile, trusting (read more)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Would Jesus Vote? (A Brief Tirade)

Today was an election day here in the good 'ole U.S. of A. and many flocked to the voting stations to vote for "their” candidate. However, two days prior to this, churches and their pulpits all over the U.S. took this opportunity to express their opinions about who we (I mean Christians) should vote for or why voting such and such way is far better than this other way. Sermons are sprinkled with political rhetoric and suggestions on who to vote for and why that matters.

I will never understand why Churches (and pastors of certain churches) in the U.S. take it upon themselves to direct their flocks in the ways of politics. What does Jesus have to do with American politics? And why do these "faith-based agendas" saturate the church scene in the U.S. prior to election Tuesdays? With all due respect to those who think politics and Christianity go hand in hand, I beg to differ.

It is usually these "faith-based agendas" that call certain Christians into question about their "genuine Christianity" if they do not vote for a particular political party line. Moreover, this same agenda sets the stage; it seems, for certain Christians to vote for a candidate simply because he or she holds to a certain moral issue in a certain light (or way). Surely, politics and the roles of our leaders stretch beyond the "merely moral" platform. There is more, it would seem, to their jobs than only moral issues. While I am not questioning the "right" of these "faith-based agendas" to promote who they support, I do think that pushing this agenda on other Christians and placing a false guilt on any Christian who does not vote within the parameters of the "agenda" is wrong.

Here's a newsflash people . . . Christianity is not about American politics!!

[Having said enough . . . he steps down from his "soap box" and goes about his daily chores]

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Quote of the Week

"'In the beginning God' are the opening words of the Bible. Yet in a real sense it can be said that the story of the Bible does not begin with Adam and Eve but with Abraham and Sarah. For the Bible is not intended to be a universal history of the whole human race, much less a cosmogony that accounts for the structure and laws of the entire physical and biological universe. . . . Rather, the Bible consistently directs our attention away from cosmogony, be it mythical or scientific, to the spiritual relation between God and the human race."

- Jaroslav Pelikan

Friday, November 03, 2006

Are All The Stories (Narratives) In the Bible Historical?

While I think this is an important question, I am not sure that it is completely answerable. What I mean by this is the fact that the evidence we have, historical and otherwise (i.e. scientific, etc.) do not indicate that all accounts of the Bible are in fact historical. Does that make these accounts not historical? By no means!

However, let’s say that, for instance, the account of Noah and the flood was discovered to be simply narrative written by the Hebrews (or whomever) to illustrate a point, and thus this account was not historical. Would this shatter the basic theological beliefs of Christianity? I do not think so. So if Noah’s ark was never discovered (ok, stretch your mind here with me, I know about the silly claims by certain groups who say Noah’s Ark has been discovered, but let’s not go there), would that decrease the value of the narrative? My answer remains the same, I do not think so.

However, if one reads the Bible quite literally through and through, then it seems that reading is left with a more difficult time explaining certain “problems” within the texts themselves. For instance, if a literal reading is given to the creation account, a reading that would certainly believe that this account occurred in history (in time) exactly as it is written, how does that reading account for the first and second chapter of Genesis? This is an important question, I think, by virtue of the fact that there are serious discrepancies between the days and events on those days in the creation narrative. This leaves the 'literal reading' performing all sorts of hermeneutical gymnastics to explain why these things conflict with one another.

However, if this narrative is simply there to explain creation, why we as humans are sinners (i.e. fallen), etc. then whether the chapters have “difficulties” or discrepancies is irrelevant, since the main thrust of the texts is to communicate certain truths and not written as an “eyewitness” account for the reader to believe verbatim. Of course this is merely one example and an example that has no crucial bearing on the basic tenets of Christianity. In others words, take the creation account away, and Christianity still stands firm on its foundation.

Of course, I do think there are narratives that are truly historical since they have been demonstrated via certain evidence to be so. And of course there are narratives that are so crucial to the Christian system that to think they are simply stories to demonstrate points or metaphors, etc. would simply crush Christianity. The best example of this is the resurrection account. So what does this leave the reader with?

Is the process of determining historicity in the Biblical texts an arbitrary process? I don’t think so. But at this stage of my research I do not think I have a solid answer for determining the difference. The best I have to go on at this point in my research is this question. If the narrative that I am reading is not historical, what does that do to my Christian theology/beliefs?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Who Am I Really?

Interesting and Fun quiz - try it for yourself, click the link below.

Top 20 Theological Works

Ben at Faith and Theology has posted the Top 20 Theological Works that have influenced him the most. Excellent list, go check it out!