.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Shadows of Divine Things

My Photo
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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Why I Don’t Call Myself An Evangelical (Part 2)

By choosing not to call myself “evangelical” does that mean I reject the essential teachings of Christianity, or that I prefer not to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ? By no means! As I explained in part one, I think the term “evangelical” has become synonymous with fundamentalism (at least here in the U.S.). Moreover, the term “fundamentalism” has gone through many changes in the last 75 years as well (especially here in the U.S.). My intent here is not to delineate a history of the terms evangelical and fundamentalism, you can do that on your own (and I think you will see, perhaps, what I am getting at in these posts) but it is to declare that these terms and their meanings, within the last several decades have become one (i.e. synonymous).

Ask yourself what comes to mind when someone uses the term fundamentalism. Nine times out of ten, I bet the word brings up several quite pejorative ideas, beliefs, types of “Christians,” possibly behaviors, etc. However, I will go a step further and declare that “evangelical” has a tendency to do the same thing. Let me illustrate, I was raised in an evangelical church (Southern Baptist), and educated at an evangelical seminary. In fact all my life I have spent my time with other evangelicals, or in evangelical churches of one kind or the other (i.e. from Baptist to Presbyterian). In this environment I was told that listening to certain styles of music was sinful, that drinking was sinful (of any kind), etc. While these are the more “cultural sins” on the list, the “theological sins” held the same tone and attitude; and all this was under the umbrella of “evangelical.” So, when I declared that I was an evangelical in the student room at Marquette University so many years ago, it does not surprise me that the others who were present responded the way they did. Moreover, in the arena of academia this merely highlights the difficulties and problems attached to the term, especially in light of current ecumenical changes.

So, if I choose not to “label” myself evangelical, what is the alternative? Avoiding the spill of “Oh, let’s just avoid labels” nonsense, is there a good alternative? I think so, and my answer would come from Thomas Oden. In his book The Rebirth of Orthodoxy he details how many young Christians (and I use the term young rather loosely, since I am middle aged) have moved away from their modernist and/or fundamentalist (i.e. evangelical) roots and shifted back to classical Christianity (the first seven centuries). The reason this is so appealing to me is the fact that that “stage” of Christianity, I believe, has the richest theology, and the most meaningful style of worship and livelihood, and was the most unified; so classical Christianity is what appeals most to me, “mere Christianity” if you will. A more inclusive Christianity that is not ready with their theological baseball bats to pound one for believing something “outside the box”, and I do not mean more inclusive at the expense of sound doctrine (and that remark was certainly geared to those who hold an “anti-Catholic” view with the notion that Catholic doctrine is wrong and should thus be rejected altogether).

The “evangelical box” of my upbringing simply frustrates and confounds me. So I decided to jump out of that box 4 or 5 years ago. To move away from the more “pharisaical Christianity” that frowns up questioning certain teachings or “doing” certain things (i.e. listening to certain styles of music, etc. - I do not mean the more obvious lifestyle sins) is my intent. And of course, this is much broader than I have made it seem here in these two small posts (i.e. there is here certainly more to unpack than I was able). Therefore, for these reasons (and a few others) I do not call myself an evangelical.

Lastly, I want to delineate, as briefly as I possibly can, what I do not mean by these posts. I am not declaring that those who call themselves evangelicals are necessarily fundamentalists. Moreover, I am not declaring that those who are evangelical and fundamentalists are, ipso facto, not Christian. As I declared earlier, evangelicalism covers a lot of ground, especially around the world. There are many brothers and sisters in Christ who are in fact evangelical, and have no qualms about calling themselves evangelical. This is great! I applaud them in their work for Christ and in their claim of being evangelical. I simply see more problems in the unpacking of the term here in the U.S. and thus choose to avoid it. These two posts are merely a very simple explanation of my plight.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Why I Don’t Call Myself An Evangelical (Part 1)

So did that title catch your attention? I hope so. This issue has been “an issue” for me for about the last 4 or 5 years. Perhaps I should preface this post with an explanation. Around the world the term ‘evangelical’ means everything and anything one could possibly think of in the realm of Christendom. Interestingly, both Catholics and Protestants call themselves Evangelical in the worldwide spectrum of Christianity. So in other parts of the world (i.e. Europe) being an evangelical does not necessarily “tag” the individual as anything particular other than perhaps a Christian who proclaims the gospel (let me know if this is correct, those of you in other parts of the world). However, here in the U.S. the term ‘evangelical’ is usually relegated to fundamentalism.

In other words, someone who claims to be an “evangelical” in the U.S. is usually considered, if not otherwise clarified, a fundamentalist. I know this from personal experience. When I was at Marquette University there was an area where the grad students would hang out and discuss issues (on campus). On one occasion I was in this area with an Anglican, several Catholics, and one or two Protestants of various backgrounds. I can recall speaking up and declaring that I was an evangelical. The room got silent, and then someone piped up and said, “You mean you are a fundamentalist?” The question was asked in a sort of surprised and pejorative fashion (not rude, just surprised and a little stunned that I would admit such a thing). Well, naturally I had to explain what I meant by ‘evangelical.’

That very conversation is what actually sparked my re-thinking of what the term ‘evangelical’ has come to mean, at least in the U.S.. Moreover, I have been told by others that similar situations have happened with them as well (also here in the U.S.) So, where does this leave me? In other words, if I choose to not call myself an ‘evangelical’ then what does this mean, and what is the alternative, if there is one? I will try to answer these questions and expound on the use of “evangelical” in an upcoming post.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

“Young Fogeys”

“‘Young fogeys’ is the term that I affectionately give to young people who have been through the dark night of disillusionment of modern thought-forms and have joyously returned to classic Christianity. Young fogies are those who hold fast to ‘mere Christianity.’ Having entered in good faith into the disciplines of the modern academy and church—and having become disillusioned—they are again studying the texts of the ancient Christian tradition. These texts point to the Word of God revealed in history as attested by prophetic and apostolic witnesses whose testimonies have become authoritative scripture for a worldwide, multicultural, multigenerational community.

Young fogeys, determined to reshape institutions that have been bent out of shape, must constantly deflect mistaken epithets such as ‘reactionary’ and ‘fundamentalist’ thrown by those virtually ignorant of classic Christianity. They must learn to bear these burdens in a sound-bite world prone to misunderstand them. But they take heart in that Polycarp, Athanasius, and Jerome must have felt similarly misperceived.”

Thomas C. Oden, The Rebirth of Orthodoxy : Signs of New Life in Christianity

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Karl Barth on Recognizing the Righteousness of God

“There is a fundamentally different way to come into relation with the righteousness of God. This other way we enter not by speech nor reflection nor reason, but by being still, by listening to and not silencing the conscience when we have hardly begun to hear its voice. When we let conscience speak to the end, it tells us not only that there is something else, a righteousness above unrighteousness, but also—and more important—that this something else for which we long and which we need is God. He is right and not we! His righteousness is an eternal righteousness! This is difficult for us to hear. We must take the trouble to go far enough off to hear it again. We make a veritable uproar with our morality and culture and religion. But we may presently be brought to silence, and with that will begin our true redemption.

It will then be, above all, a matter of our recognizing God once more as God. It is easy to say recognize. But recognizing is an ability won only in fierce inner personal conflict. It is a task beside which all cultural, moral, and patriotic duties, all efforts in “applied religion,” are child’s play. For here one must give himself up in order to give himself over to God, that God’s will may be done. To do his will, however, means to begin with him anew. His will is not a corrected continuation of our own. It approaches ours as Wholly Other. There is nothing for our will except a basic recreation. Not a reformation but a re-creation and a re-growth. For the will to which the conscience points is purity, goodness, truth, and brotherhood as the perfect will of God. It is a will which knows no subterfuges, reservations, nor preliminary compromises. It is a will with character, a will blessed and holy through and through. It is the righteousness of God.”

Karl Barth, The Word of God & the Word of Man (Harper & Row, Publishers: New York), trans. by Douglas Horton, 1957; 23-24.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Quote of the Week

"If the agony on the Cross had not happened, the truth that God is love would have been unfounded."

- Pope John Paul II

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Anglican Collect for the 4th Sunday of Lent

Almighty God, You know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

1979 Book of Common Prayer

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Gifts from Ben Myers

Back when I was posting my series on John Calvin (late Dec. '05/early Jan. '06), Ben Myers e-mailed me and asked me if I had a copy of The Schillebeeckx Reader. To be honest I knew next to nothing about Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P.. So obviously, I e-mailed Ben back and said "no." Ben explained that he had an extra copy and asked me if I wanted it. Well, I'd be a fool to turn down a free book, so I said I would love to have the copy.

A few weeks later I received the book, along with a pleasant surprise in the package. The surprise was a postcard with a picture of John Calvin that Ben had purchased at the Calvin Museum in Geneva. This was a great surprise and the postcard is displayed on the top of my desk in my study so anyone who comes into my study sees it.

Well, long story short, I finally finished all the books I had slated to read up to this point and as of the last 36 hours I have been reading The Schillebeeckx Reader. I am completely amazed that I have not read Schillebeeckx sooner. His work is so alive, so deep, so rich in theological content and meaning, and he writes in such a way that his words and content speak directly to the reader in a very moving and spiritual way. Putting it mildly, this book, so far, has been one of the better theological works I have read this year, and it is merely a "reader" with short excerpts of Schillebeeckx's works along with comments from the editor, Robert J. Schreiter. In fact, the book has been so good, I can hardly put it down. I just wanted to post my thoughts about this book so those of you who have an interest will get this work and read it. But also, I wanted to again thank Ben for such a great book!

By the way, Ben wrote a message on the back of the postcard and quoted these words from John Calvin: "Cor meum tibi offero, Domine, promte et sincere." ["My heart I offer to you You, Lord, promptly and sincerely"]

Friday, March 24, 2006

Edward Schillebeeckx on the Eucharistic Presence

"The basis of the entire eucharistic event is Christ's personal gift of himself to his fellow men, and within this, to the Father. This is quite simply his essence-"The man Christ Jesus is the one giving himself" (ho dous heauton, 1 Tim. 2:6). The eternal validity of his history on earth resides in this.

. . . The eucharist is the sacramental form of this event, Christ's giving of himself to the Father and to men. It takes the form of a commemorative meal in which the usual secular significance of the bread and wine is withdrawn and these become bearers of Christ's gift of himself-"Take and eat, this is my body." Christ's gift of himself, however, is not ultimately directed towards bread and wine, but towards the faithful. The real presence is intended for believers, but through the medium of and in this gift of bread and wine. In other words, the Lord who gives himself thus is sacramentally present. In this commemorative meal, bread and wine become the subject of a new establishment of meaning, not by men, but by the living Lord in the church, through which they become the sign of the real presence of Christ giving himself to us. This establishment of meaning by Christ is accomplished in the church and thus presupposes the real presence of the Lord in the church, in the assembled community of believers and in the one who officiates in the eucharist."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Divine Inspiriation and Cultural Mediation

My friend David Piske has finally posted again! Alert the Media!!! His post is titled Divine inspiration and cultural mediation of the Scriptures: a speculation. This, as he declares, is his thoughts about our recent "gathering" discussions regarding the historical actuality of certain Biblical accounts (especially those early in the Old Testament).

The underlining question of his post is this: "is it theologically important (or necessary) to insist that all of the biblical accounts represent actual historical events which happened as literally stated in them?" He discusses his disagreement with Bultmann's method of demythologization, as well as what 'myth' is in relation to the sciptures.

It is interesting that he is posting this now, especially since Chris Tilling has been posting his series on inerrancy (which, by the way, Chris has placed the third part of that series on his blog). If you have a chance read David's post, it is very interesting. I have been trying to get him to post on his blog more frequently (at least more frequently than once a month or once every two months).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Issue of Inerrancy

As of late, Chris Tilling has been posting articles on the issue of inerrancy. These posts began with two articles titled Propositional Revelation and Scripture parts one and two. These posts then led Chris to post his series on inerrancy (you can see these posts here and here). The exchange in the comments are in and of themselves worth reading, however Chris has brought forth several key points about inerrancy that have been on my mind over the last few years.

The issue of inerrancy hits home with me in several ways, especially since while I was in seminary I studied under one of the co-authors and representatives of the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy – Dr. Norman Geisler. Moreover, I have heard several debates and lectures in various settings on this issue from adherents of the doctrine as well as those who oppose it. So, the posts and the comments have been very interesting and thought provoking; if you have the chance, go check out the discussion at Chris’ blog. Also, over at Reformed Catholicism Kevin Johnson has posted a response to Chris’ posts that is worth reading. All these posts and their comments are worth reading.

Quote of the Week

"I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them: 'Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden.'

- St. Augustine of Hippo

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

For twenty-seven years, representatives from both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches (i.e. theologians, Bishops, Priests, Cardinals, etc.) gathered at various times and places to discuss their differences. After twenty-seven years of published dialogue of each of the meetings at various times, on October 31, 1999 (Reformation Day) a joint declaration was drawn up, issued and signed. With regard to the issue of justification this is what the declaration stated (and both parties agreed and signed their consent).

“We believe that God’s creative graciousness is offered to us and to everyone for healing and reconciliation so that through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, ‘who was put to death for our transgressions and raised for our justification’ (Rom. 4:25), we are called to pass from the alienation and oppression of sin to freedom and fellowship with God in the Holy Spirit. It is not through our own initiative that we respond to this call, but only through an undeserved gift which is granted and made known in faith, and which comes to fruition in our love of God and neighbor, as we are led by the Spirit in faith to bear witness to the divine gift in all aspects of our lives. This faith gives us hope for ourselves and for all humanity and gives us confidence that salvation in Christ will always be proclaimed as the gospel, the good news for which the world is searching.”

The interesting thing about these meetings was the agreement on definition. The declaration went on to state:

“Justification is the forgiveness of sins, liberation from the dominating power of sin and death, and from the curse of the law. It is acceptance into communion with God: already now, but then full in God’s coming kingdom. It unites with Christ and with his death and resurrection. It occurs in the reception of the Holy Spirit in baptism and incorporation into the one body. All this from God alone, for Christ’s sake, by grace, through faith, in “the gospel of God’s Son.”

With issue to at least one tenet of the Reformation, sola gratia, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification had this to say:

“Together we confess: by grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works. . . . Faith is itself a gift through the Holy Spirit who works through word and sacrament in the community of believers and who, at the same time, leads believers into the renewal of life which God will bring to completion in eternal life . . . Our new life is solely due to the forgiving and renewing mercy that God imparts as a gift and we receive in faith, and never can merit it in any way.”

[If you are interested, you can read about this in Mark Noll's book Is The Reformation Over? ]

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent

Father, You have taught us to overcome our sins by prayer, fasting, and works of mercy. When we are discouraged by our weakness, give us confidence in Your love. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit One God, for ever and ever.

International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Poll Results

The poll is now over and the results are in. The question I posed in this poll was “Would you take issue (i.e. disagree with) with a woman being the pastor/preacher of a church?” I must admit that I was quite surprised by the end results. I actually thought that the majority of the votes from those within the U.S. would be “yes” and those outside the U.S. would be “no.” However, most of the “no” votes came from within the U.S. and there were a few “yes” votes from outside the U.S.

The results of the poll were as follows: 10 people voted “yes” which made up 36% of the vote. 14 people voted “no” which made up 50% of the vote, and 4 people voted “uncertain” which made up 14% of the vote. I must admit that I voted “uncertain” and I’ll give my reasons a little later in this post. There were only two people who gave a reason for why they voted the way they did—Jazzycat and Chris Tilling. Jazzycat declared, “I voted no [I think she meant 'yes' she would take issue with a woman pastor] because Scripture clearly teaches it... If we start overuling [sic] Scripture, where do we stop. That being said, I don't fully understand why women cannot teach Bible studies with men present.” In response, my assumption is that Jazzycat is referring to the verses in the First Epistle to Timothy where Paul declares, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.” (I Tim. 2:12). However, the question arises, is what Paul talking about in these passages only relevant for the first century (at the time Paul wrote)? And if your answer to that question is “no” then my question is how many women in your church cover their heads while in the worship service? Both are taught by Paul so why are both not practiced equally? It is issues such as these that caused me to vote “uncertain.”

Jazzycat goes on in her comment to declare that she would not have a problem with a woman teaching a Bible study to men; I actually see a contradiction here for the one who declares that the Bible teaches that women should not teach men, but yet, we should allow women to teach men the content of the Bible. Most, who argue that the Bible proclaims women should not teach, do so in the context of women teaching men. Perhaps Jazzycat did not mean her comment that way (granting her the benefit of the doubt). Chris Tilling, on the other hand, voted “no” and gave his reasons. Chris declares, “The bible teaches all sorts of things, some of which have been fulfilled/replaced already in the canon. In this case, think of 'no male or female' in Christ Jesus (Gal). Not only that, we have to contextualise what the bible teaches, and not suppose something ontological about women. It's easy for us men to say 'no women preachers'. But the truth is, they are often a lot more giften [sic] than men in preaching. The bible is not a treasury of propositions for us to mindlessly implement in the church. I voted a big 'yes' to women preachers.” Chris brings forth several points some of which were the underlining reasons as to why I voted “uncertain.”

The thing that makes all this interesting is the fact that in the U.S. there is a trend within seminaries today where more and more women are actually teaching classes. Perhaps you might think this is different than being a pastor of a church, but I am not so certain. The reason I say this is that when someone thinks of a preacher, they usually think of a person who preaches or teaches God’s word (the Bible). When “preacher” is mentioned, hardly anyone seems to think of visitations to homes, hospitals, pastoral duties where the person who is the preacher is “helping” in one capacity or the other apart from their teaching capacity; things which many women do quite regularly anyway. However, these female professors in seminaries are actually teaching men the Bible, theology, hermeneutics, languages, etc. I simply do not see the difference here and yet no one is pitching a fit over this. But if you take a woman and put her in a church setting as the preacher then problems arise. It is obvious that many women certainly have the gift of teaching, so that does not seem to be the ultimate issue. What does seem to be the issue, however, is the context in which women teach.

I simply wanted to post some food for thought in response to the poll results. Thanks for participating in the poll, and if you have any further comments please feel free to make them in the comments section of this post.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Please Excuse my Absence

I have not posted as I usually do since all my time has been taken up trying to find a job. This week’s job hunting is winding down (usually best to search the first three or four days of the week) so I will try and get something posted over the weekend. I still have not landed a job so I have to devote my time to finding one. However, as soon as I get one things will be back to normal on the blog.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Six Months of Blogging

Six months ago today I posted my first post on this blog. However, about a two weeks prior to this day six months ago, I actually created this blog. It was originally a type of "spin-off" blog from What's Behind It, a blog I began with two other friends of mine. When I created this blog, it was originall called Iustitia Dei and I had posted an introduction in early October of 2005, and had intended to post my research on the issue of justification in Christian Church History. It sat here for about two weeks and I did nothing with it. Realising my topic for this blog was too narrow, I changed everything entirely. I renamed the blog, and made the topic matter much larger in scope, and six months later here it is!

The blog itself had a very slow start but has grown to about 100 to 200 hits per day (this includes unique hits and repeat hits) from various countries around the world. The blog has had visitors from Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, Philippines, Ukraine, New Zealand , Denmark, Spain, Finland, Portugal, Sweden, India, Ireland, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Japan, France, South Africa, Singapore, The Republic of Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Hungary, Iceland, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, etc.. Also, I have posted about a 155 posts on a variety of topics. I hope everyone has enjoyed the blog, the discussions, the quotes, etc.

As we like to say in Texas, "Everyone is always welcome so ya'll be sure and drop back by, ya hear?"

Prayer of Contrition

"Merciful Father I am guilty of sin I confess my sins before you and I am sorry for them. Your promises are just; therefore I trust that you will forgive my sins and cleanse me from every stain of sin. Jesus himself is the propitiation for my sins and the sin of the whole world. I put my hope in his atonement. May my sins be forgiven through His name and in His blood may my soul be made clean."

- New Saint Joseph People's Prayer Book (a prayer of contrition during the season of Lent)

Monday, March 13, 2006

One Solitary Life

"Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the Child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His Divine manhood. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a Cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying—and that was His coat. When He was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Such was His human life—He rises from the dead. Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the Centerpiece of the human race and the Leader of the column of progress. I am within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life."

-James C. Hefley (Baptist Christian Writer)

Quote of the Week

"Roses grow upon briars which is to signify that all temporal sweets are mixed with bitter. But what seems more especially to be meant by it, is that true happiness, the crown of glory, is to become at in no other way than by bearing Christ's cross by a life of mortification, self-denial and labor, and bearing all things for Christ."

- Jonathan Edwards (from his journal titled Shadows of Divine Things; entry #3)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

New Poll

Over to the left under the clock is a new poll that I have posted. I am very interested to see what the various opinions will be on this issue, so please feel free to vote.

Also, if you do not mind, please post your reasons for voting the way you did (i.e. why you voted "yes"; why "no"; etc.).

Last thing of note about the poll. It was a free service provided by Bravenet so there will probably be "pop-ups" which may come up on your screen (unless you have a pop-up blocker service). Please excuse any pop-ups that may come up. I will remove the poll in about a week and any pop-ups that came with the service will be eliminated with the removal of the poll from the blog.

Thank you for voting and do feel free to post why you voted the way you did in the comments section of this post.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Philip Schaff on Jesus of Nazareth

"Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander the Great, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of school, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times."

–Philip Schaff (Christian Historian of the 19th century)


I stayed up quite late last night reading and researching and for some weird reason woke early up this morning and could not go back to sleep. So, I got up, went to bathroom, looked in the mirror and noticed I looked like THIS:

Friday, March 10, 2006

D. A. Carson on the Habits of Sin

"People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated."

-D. A. Carson

Penitential Prayer of St. Augustine

Below is a penitential prayer of St. Augustine Bishop of Hippo which is often prayed during the season of Lent:

"O Lord, The house of my soul is narrow;enlarge it that you may enter in. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases Your sight. I confess it, I know.But who shall cleanse it, to whom shall I cry but to you? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare Your servant from strange sins."

- St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Martin Luther and Cardinal Cajetan

The following excerpt is from a memorandum which Luther presented to Cardinal Cajetan during their October meetings in Augsburg.

"It is necessary, under peril of eternal damnation and the sin of unbelief, to believe these words of Christ: Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed also in heaven. Therefore if you come forward to the sacrament of penance and do not believe firmly that you are absolved in heaven, you come forward to judgement and damnation, because you do not believe that Christ has spoken what is true: Whatever you loose, etc. . . . but when you believe the word of Christ, you honor his word and by this work you are righteous, etc."

- Martin Luther to Cajetan [D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe (2:13-14)]

Penitential Prayer of St. Ambrose of Milan

Below is a penitential prayer of St. Ambrose the Bishop of Milan which is often prayed during the season of Lent:

"O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake, Amen."

- St. Ambrose of Milan (AD 339-397)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Job Interview

Well, the position at the community college was postponed (essentially eliminated temporarily) for at least 12 months. I was told by the director of the school that their programs for the general education department needed massive work, thus the postponement. However, tomorrow (Wednesday, March 8th) I have a major job interview with a company called Citicorp (a major banking and credit company). The interview is at 11 a.m. This is very telling, in order for me to even get this interview I had to pass four hours worth of math, economics, and accounting type exams.

Needless to say, if you have been following my posts on jobs, I need a job asap, so this interview is crucial - please pray for me if you have a moment to do so. Let me thank you all ahead of time once again.

God Bless!

What Would You Read?

Assuming that you were stranded somehwere forever and could have only one or two books (or sets of books) to keep with you to read (granting that you were already able to have the Bible thus eliminating it as a choice), what book/s (or sets - remember two is the limit) would you choose?

"Signs and Wonders"

Over the years passing by various churches I have seen a lot of different signs out front which make some type of declaration or point. Sometimes these church signs are funny, sometimes silly, sometimes they are offensive and stupid and sometimes they are downright scary. Here are a few of the various things/messages I have seen posted on church signs:

Running low on faith? Stop in for a fill-up.

Free Trip to heaven. Details Inside!

Santa Claus never died for anyone!

Try our Sundays. They are better than Baskin-Robbins.

Have trouble sleeping? We have sermons - come hear one!

God so loved the world that He did not send a committee.

God expects spiritual fruit not religious nuts.

Life ain't no dress rehearsal.

Come in and pray today. Beat the Christmas rush!

When down in the mouth, remember Jonah. He came out all right.

Forbidden fruit creates many jams.

To prevent sunburn use Sonscreen.

Sign broken. Message inside this Sunday.

Fight truth decay - study the Bible daily.

Faith sees God, intellect does not.

We use duct tape to fix everything, God uses nails!

How will you spend eternity - Smoking or Non-smoking?

Dusty Bibles lead to Dirty Lives

Go Bush Go . . . Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammo.

Come work for the Lord. The work is hard, the hours are long and the pay is low. But the retirement benefits are out of this world.

It is unlikely there'll be a reduction in the wages of sin.

Now open on Sundays come on in.

Do not wait for the hearse to take you to church.

Who's Your Daddy?

Don't give up, Moses was once a basket case too!

People are like tea bags - you have to put them in hot water before you know how strong they are.

You won't be too busy to die!

Aids Cures Sodomy.

If you don't like the way you were born, try being born again.

Looking at the way some people live, they ought to obtain eternal fire insurance soon.

This is a ch_ _ ch. What is missing? --------- (U R)

In the dark? Follow the Son.

If you can't sleep, don't count sheep. Talk to the Shepherd.

Searching for a new look? Have your faith lifted here!

[So . . . what do some of the signs you see in front of churches say?]

Monday, March 06, 2006

David S. Yeago on "The Catholic Luther"

"There is, in fact, a driving question in Luther's early theology, but it is not the question of the assurance of forgiveness. The troubling question that emerges from the preoccupations of the young Luther's thought is not "How can I get a gracious God?" but "Where can I find the real God?" All the evidence in the texts [Luther's writings] suggests that it was the threat of idolatry, not a craving for assurance of forgiveness, that troubled Luther's conscience if anything did. And this question did not, as some of Luther's interpreters have been eager to believe, burst the framework of traditional Christianity; both the emergence of the problem itself and Luther's eventual solution to it locate him precisely within the catholic tradition."

- Take from The Catholicity of the Reformation; chapter 2, "The Catholic Luther" by David S. Yeago.

First Things actually published an article by David S. Yeago titled "The Catholic Luther". If you are interested in reading the article, and I do recommend it, then you can read it here.

Quote of the Week

"The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits."

- G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Luther's Theology of the Cross

"For Christ too was damned and forsaken more than all the saints, nor was his suffering easy, as some imagine. But he really and truly offered himself to God the Father for us unto eternal damnation. And his human nature was in no other condition than that of a human being eternally damned to hell. On account of his love for God, God immediately raised him from death and hell and so devoured hell. It is necessary that all his saints imitate this, some less, some more; the more perfect they are in love, the more meekly and easily they can do this. But Christ did this in the harshest way of all."

- Martin Luther [D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe (56:392)]

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Luther on the Catholicity of the Church and the Holiness of its People

"Although the city Rome is worse than Sodom and Gomorra, nevertheless there remains Baptism, Sacraments, the Words of the Gospel, the Holy Scriptures, the Ministry of the Church, the name of Christ and the name of God . . . Therefore, the Roman Church is holy, because she has the holy name of God, the Gospel, the Baptism, etc. If these things exist among a people, the people is called holy. Thus also our city Wittenberg is a holy city, and we are truly holy because we are baptized, have received the Holy Communion and have been taught and called by God. We have the work of God among us, the Word and the Sacraments, and these make us holy."

- Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians 1535, Luther's Works, trans. by Jaroslav Pelikan (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1963), vol. 26, pp.24-25.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Wright on Justification in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (After Thoughts)

Back in 1997 or 1998 when I first read What Saint Paul Really Said, as a good friend of mine from Marquette University often liked to say—I was scandalized. Back then I was so entrenched in my reformed thinking that this book offended me. Almost ten years later, tons of research in Paul’s epistles, deeper research into the Catholicity of the Reformation, a deeper and formal study of hermeneutics (inside and outside the classroom), and my studies in Luther's theology, I’m not as scandalized with this second reading.

For the last ten years I have struggled with certain aspects of reformed theology, especially as it has been presented by contemporary thinkers (i.e. the confusion between the gospel proclamation and the doctrine of imputation, the casting away completely of Church Tradition as if it had no importance at all, etc.). Moreover, when I always came to the texts of Paul (and the book of James), there were various things that just did not “click” within my reformed framework, certain texts that did not make sense in light of certain thinkers/reformed commentaries. After reading Wright for the second time certain things about Paul’s Epistles just jumped out at me and they made more sense. It was as if I was in a dark room and could surmise the things that were in the room with me, and knew where they were located and to a certain extent what they were, but then someone came into the room and turned the light on and my vision cleared up a bit.

All that being said, the question remains, am I totally convinced by Wright’s small work? Not completely, but it has at least opened my eyes to a newer way of looking at Paul. Furthermore, many of the Pauline texts that “baked” my mind when I read them many years ago and confused my “reformed” senses suddenly made much more sense. So, with this history of entrenchment in reformed doctrine I can fully understand that when someone who is in that same position reads Wright they seemed “scandalized.” As it was stated in the comments to one of these posts, a person simply cannot read Wright’s work once and then suddenly be convinced by it — “it takes an extended discussion face to face walking through numerous texts after much reading to make some progress” as David declared. This work by Wright is a culmination of about 25 to 30 years of researching Paul’s text and hammering out the issues to understand Paul’s thought. However, I would also venture to say that someone cannot read Wright's work once and then suddenly be unconvinced by it. There is simply more to it than that.

In summation, I think what Paul is getting at, in a very broad sense, is the gospel is the proclamation of the Jewish Messiah who is Jesus, and His fulfillment of the Law, His life, death and bodily resurrection. As Wright describes it, “The gospel itself is neither a system of thought, nor a set of techniques for making people Christians; it is the personal announcement of the person of Jesus. That is why it creates the church, the people who believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead. ‘Justification’ is then the doctrine which declares that whoever believes that gospel, and wherever and whenever they believe it, those people are truly members of his family, no matter where they came from, what colour their skin may be, whatever else might distinguish them from each other.”

Regardless of your theological background, whether reformed or not, I do recommend Wright's work to you. It is at least worth considering.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Rock Concerts

Since the theme around certain blogs seems to be music, I thought I would post here, for entertainment value, some of the best concerts I have attended. I have seen bands ranging from Jazz artists to heavy metal artists, and everything in between. Here are a few of the better concerts I have been able to attend (listed in order of the year I saw them) :

  1. ZZ Top (1984) Eliminator Tour - very good show, Night Ranger opened up for ZZ but I don't remember much from them since ZZ Top pretty much blew them away.
  2. Alice Cooper (1987) - I got to see this show for free! I was given a third row seat ticket because one of my roommates' friends bailed out. Guns & Roses open up for Alice, and they were extremely loud. This show was one of the most remarkable and memorable I have seen.
  3. Def Leppard (1987) - first leg of the Hysteria Tour - I know, many of you are probably laughing right now, but this was actually a very good show, and the last tour the band was did before their lead gutarist died.
  4. Robert Plant (1988) - Now and Zen tour. The audience for this show was louder than the band, I kid you not.
  5. Bob Dylan (1988) - The Alarm (a U2 rip off band) actually opened up for Dylan. The interesting thing about this show is that Dylan said "hello," he played all his songs, did two encores, and then said "goodbye" and never said anything in between.
  6. Eric Clapton (1988) - 25th Anniversary Tour - This show was one of the best I have ever seen. Phil Collins (of Genesis) and Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) were in Eric's band. So we got to hear songs from each of those guys as well.
  7. The Who (1989) - The Farewell Tour - This was the Who's last tour, and this show was the last show on the tour (in Dallas at the Cotton Bowel). We had tickets on the 14 row, center - perfect seats. Stevie Ray Vaughn opened for them and he was awesome, and then the Who came out and gave the best rock concert I have ever seen (and this is out of about 6 dozen rock concerts that I have seen in the last 25 years).
  8. U2 (1992) - The Zoo TV tour - I got to see this show for free and friend of mine bought two tickets and asked me to go to the show. Most memorable thing about this show was when Bono called up the White House to talk to President Bush (senior).
  9. Ringo Star and his All-Star Band (1992) - This show included a stellar line up of various rock artists such as Joe Walsh (James Gang and the Eagles), Todd Rundgren, Burton Cummings (the Guess Who), Dave Edmunds, Nils Lofgren, Tmothy B. Schmit (Poco and the Eagles), and Tim Cappelo who has played drums for everyone and anyone.
  10. Paul McCartney (1993) - Besides the Who, this has been the best rock show I have ever seen. Nobody opened up for McCartney, he played for about 4 hours and was awesome. A friend of mine was a member of McCartney's fan club so we got first dibs at the tickets and eneded up on the tenth row smack dab in the center.
  11. Kiss (2000) - Farewell Tour - I saw Kiss back in the very early eighties when they were "on their way out." I had also seen them several times without all their make-up and glam, but this show, with all the original members was hot!
  12. The Guess Who and Joe Cocker (2001) - I wish I could have seen these guys back in the day, but I was too young. However, this was a very good show - especially Joe Cocker who put on a dynamic show.

These are just a few of the better shows I have seen. Along with these bands I have also seen Extreme, Bon Jovi, The Monkees, Gary Moore, Joe Ely, Mark Farner (of Grand Funk Railroad), Ted Nugent, The Fabulous T-Birds, Joan Jett, Y&T, Frehley's Comets, George Strait, Alabama, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, and many, many others. So, which bands have you seen in concert?

Robert W. Jenson on Scripture

Scripture as canon is the norma non normata of gospel-speaking and not directly of faith in the gospel or of theology about the gospel. The object and so criterion of faith is not Scripture as a collection of writings but God in his living word of the gospel. And theology uses Scripture as a norm of the proclomation and prayer theology serves, that is, as a norm of something other than itself; thus Scripture becomes theology's own norm only mediately.

Scripture indeed becomes faith's normative object in its liturgical use or when the reading or study of Scripture otherwise becomes living proclamation or adoration. When Scripture appears in such power, its authority is that of proclomation and sacrament and prayer generally: it is the authority of God's own presence in his word, to create and nurture faith."

- Robert W. Jenson, Syatematic Theology Volume 1: The Triune God (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997; 28.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Wright on Justification in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Part 3)

While I focused my attention of Wright’s view of Paul's justification in Galatians, in his work What Saint Paul Really Said Wright also delineates his views of Paul's justification in the epistles to the Philippians, Romans and Corinthians. However, Wright is very brief and to the point on each of these letters; but he does have commentaries on several of these letters providing more detail about the text than what he provided in What Saint Paul Really Said.

Summing up this section of his work, Wright provides three categories that he thinks Paul’s view of justification entails; Covenant, Law Court, and Eschatology. Here is how Wright describes each:

  • “Covenant. Justification is the covenant declaration, which will be issued on the last day, in which the true people of God will be vindicated and those who insist on worshipping false gods will be shown to be in the wrong.”

  • “Law Court. Justification functions like the verdict in the law court: by acquitting someone, it confers on that person the status ‘righteous’. This is the forensic dimension of the future covenantal vindication.

  • “Eschatology. This declaration, this verdict, is ultimately to be made at the end of history. Through Jesus, however, God has done in the middle of history what he had been expected to do—and, indeed, will still do—at the end; so that the declaration, the verdict, can be issued already in the present, in anticipation."

[All three of the above are direct quotes from What Saint Paul Really Said William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan; 1997; (p. 131)]

These three categories are the thrust of what Paul is trying to communicate, especially in Galatians, regarding all those who believe the gospel message and are justified. As Wright explains, those who hear and embrace the gospel message as their own are demarcated as members of the true family of Abraham and thus their sins are forgiven them.