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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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Anti-Wright Bullshit

This post is a must read!

Alastair has actually said the very things in the exact verbiage I have wanted to say at my blog but did not have the moxy to actually come out and say it. I’ve posted around it, sort of hinted at it, but have never just come out and laid it all on the table like Alastair did.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Brief Pause

I'm going to be taking a break from posting this week due to work and family. Of course lately I've been a little slack on posting anyway, so this will not be too big of a change. I should be able to resume this weekend or shortly thereafter. I hope everyone has a pleasant week.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Jürgen Moltmann: Today's Task of Theology

"Christian theology must show how far the Christian confession of faith in Jesus is true as seen from outside, and must demonstrate that it is relevant to present-day understanding of reality and the present-day dispute about the truth of God and the righteousness of man and the world. For the title 'Christ' has never been used by faith only to say who Jesus was in his own person, but to express his dominion, future and significance with regard to God, men and the world."

- Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God (Harper and Row, 1974), 84.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

War in Iraq

Things are getting WAY out of hand in Iraq - see for yourself.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Best Contemporary Theology

Throughout the blogsphere there has been a meme that has circulated requesting people/bloggers to name their three or so favorite (or "best") theological works that have been written in the last 25 years. Patrik has listed everyone's votes in a final vote list. Go check the list out when you have time, there are some great works on this list. Of course the list is missing what I think is the best theological work (or perhaps closer to best New Testament work) in the last 25 years and that is N.T. Wright's work titled The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology; the only exception to Wright's book is perhaps Robert Jenson's 2 volume Sytematic Theology, which did actually make the list.

When you have a chance go check the list out, you can also vote. To vote, when you get to the page simply scroll down and you will see the space Patrik provides called "Vote Form."

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dare We Hope: "That All Men Be Saved"?

"[I]f someone thus sees mankind as a massa damnata from the outset, how can he still adhere to the effective truth of Christ's statement that, on the Cross, he will draw all men to himself?"

- Hans Urs Von Balthasar, "Dare We Hope, "That All Men Be Saved"? p. 26.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Worship: Regaining Our Theological Identity

Worship is the great ecclesiological action. God is to be worshipped. But not just on Saturday or Sunday morning in our church services. Worshipping God is a lifestyle, if you will. Worship does not make God present, God is forever present, and therefore we worship Him, and should do so every minute of every day. Worship should in fact change us. Not change us in the sense that we learn in our worship what it means to be a better husband, or be a better mother, or get control of our lives, etc.. This is not worship, unless one is worshipping self. No, worship changes us in the sense that it turns our attention to God.

Worship changes us when we turn our attention to God in repentance. Repenting is not a self help formula it is recognizing our sin, it is turning from our sin, it is turning to God. Once we are penitent, we are prepared to worship God. We are prepared to praise God; we are prepared to please God when we have turned from our sin and placed our attention on God. This is why worship has both a communal and individual aspect.

Worship is communal in that we collectively participate in worship through our gathering together and through our participating in the body and blood of Christ, and through our confessing to one another our sins. We collectively turn our attention to God and recognize Him as what we solely need. It is individual in that in our daily lives we should focus our attention on Him, confess our sins to Him, and live our lives to please Him. This is worship in a service and worship in our lives.

As the great ecclesiological action, worship is a collective gathering of the body of Christ united in one purpose: To Glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Collectively we demonstrate this through the liturgy when we are gathered. Worship is dialogue, as Kim Fabricius has so eloquently stated. It is Word and Sacrament; it is confession and forgiveness, it is Eucharist. These are the central elements of worship when we gather as the body of Christ, if these are absent, then worship does not happen. To ask what we gain from worship is missing the point entirely, but this has been the focus of churches, at least in the U.S., for the last few decades. Regaining our theological identity in worship is, in my estimation, very much needed in the church’s landscape. Moreover, recognizing the centrality of worship when we gather as the body of Christ will be the focus of my final post on worship.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Quote of the Week

On land, on sea, at home abroad I smoke my pipe and worship God.

- Johann Sebastian Bach

[A friend sent me this quote. I liked it so much I had to post it]

Monday, January 15, 2007

Are You "Open-Minded?"

Hmmmm . . . some of the questions for this test were VERY interesting, to say the least . . . fun test though, try it out if you like! I am apparently 64% "open-minded." I was shooting for 65%, but hey what's one percent, huh? ;-)

You are 64% Open-Minded

You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.

Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.

But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.

You're open to considering every possibility - but in the end, you stand true to yourself.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Worship: Have We Lost Our Theological Identity?

In the last few years of church searching, too often I experienced worship services that seem to communicate a two-fold idea. First, several services we attended demonstrated that worship benefits us by giving us something. Perhaps the thinking in this type of service believed that worship puts God into motion to act on our behalf. Or maybe in this framework of worship was performed to make us feel closer to God, help us be encouraged for the upcoming week. Whatever the case may be, whenever we experienced this type of worship service it bothered me to the core. This is in fact is not worship at all, unless one is attempting to worship an idea or perhaps self – a type of unintentional narcissism. Whatever the case may be, too often we experienced this type of service.

The second idea of this two fold idea in church worship services is what I like to call the self-help worship. This is where the service is geared toward making those in the church and especially those unchurched more comfortable about themselves. In these worship services sermons were geared to communicate to the listener that we are not bad people. Sin is absent in their homilies. Rather we are to learn how we can live through adversity, or how we can improve our financial status, etc. The attention is on self and not God. In fact, there is actually no semblance of worshipping God in these services at all. These are the services that were so bad I would get up and leave in the middle of them.

Now, in writing these above things, I am not intentionally trying to be a pessimist, I simply believe these churches have lost touch with true worship and have turn, perhaps, to the world to set the tone for their church services. I say this because most, if not all, of these churches have campaigns to bring the unchurched into their services. In my humble opinion, this was never the intent of the church or the intent of worship. Therefore, when these things are performed, there is a loss of meaningful ecclesiological theology, the shape of liturgy is distorted, and the focus of the worship is not God. How can we possibly call this worship? Moreover, if the above things are becoming the norm, how do we redirect the landscape of the church back to a more sound theological worshipping community?

I think this at least begins with an ecclesiology that is grounded in good theology and a better understanding of what it means to be a worshipping community. This is, as Church History shows us, the underlying ordo of worship. Simon Chan confirms this in his work when he declares, “. . . a coherent theology of the church that pays particular attention to the liturgical practices that have constituted Christian worship throughout the centuries” is what is needed in churches today. Therefore, this will be the focus of the last few posts I present here on the issue of worship.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Bit of a Break

Just a note to let everyone know that I will not be blogging again until this weekend due to work related things. I'm still in the middle of my series on Worship and will pick that back up this weekend. Hope everyone has a great week. See you again this weekend.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Church: A Simple Beginning (Part Two)

The church is the body of Christ. As Simon Chan has pointed out in his work Liturgical Theology, “The church is the divine-humanity by virtue of its being the body of Christ.” Moreover, “body of Christ” is more than a mere metaphor. The church is the reality of Christ here now, post resurrection. Therefore, it can be said that those who witness the body of Christ, witness Christ, the Head. However, Christ is not the body nor is the body Christ, Christ is the Head, but Christ is demonstrated through the body, thus it can be said that Christ is seen in and through the body (i.e. the church). Moreover, Christ is presented to the church post-resurrection through Word and sacrament.

The church should never be confused with a single place or structure. Often we use the terms church building, church home, or place of worship, to indicate “the church.” These things are not the church as body of Christ. The church is not a building per se it is not a denomination either. The church as body is made up of individual Christians collectively gathered and united across the world in one body with Christ as its Head. The unity that we as the body of Christ have is demonstrated in the sacraments. This is especially seen in the Eucharist, where we collectively participate in the body and blood of Christ. This is ecclesial communion.

The church as body of Christ is more than merely a collected group of baptized people who are obedient to the Word of God, a very Western view of church. Rather, as Tillard points out in Flesh of the Church, the church is “communion united by the Eucharistic body.” Chan confirms this by declaring, “When the church is understood as essentially communion in and of the body of Christ, the primary focus of the ecclesial life is not church hierarchy but koinonia characterized by agape.” This ecclesial life is collectively demonstrated not only in our worship as we gather together, but extends to our lives as we live in the world demonstrating the love of Christ.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ten propositions on worship

Over at Faith and Theology, Kim Fabricius has a post titled Ten Propositions on Worship. How convenient for me to be able to refer to this post in the midst of a series on worship. While I do not necessarily agree with everything Kim has declared, the article is very much worth reading. Much of what Kim has mentioned briefly in his post will b covered in a litle more detail here as my series rolls along. I would recommend reading his post, you can see it here. Thanks a bunch Kim for such a great article.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Quote/s of the Week (In Honor of Former President Gerald R. Ford)

"Our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here, the people rule."

"It's the quality of the ordinary, the straight, the square, that accounts for the great stability and success of our nation. It's a quality to be proud of. But it's a quality that many people seem to have neglected."

(Gerald R. Ford 1913-2006)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

There were so many things that happened in 2006, but here are a few highlights that stand out:

The biggest event: Getting a much needed job after several months of being unemployed.

The most enjoyable event: Getting to go to one of my best friend's wedding in Georgia.

The most exciting event: Getting to go to game one (1) of the NBA Finals of the Mavericks VS. The Heat, and sitting 2 rows from the floor near center court.

The most needed event: Finally finding a church home after a year of searching.

The saddest event: Losing our long time church home and having to begin a search for a new church home.

Best book I read: N.T. Wright's What Saint Paul Really Said. I read this for the second time in 2006 having already read it back in 1998. This, and few other titles by Wright, have been very thought changing for me.

Best non-fiction (and non-religious/theological) book I read: Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road by Neil Peart. This was a book by the drummer of the rock band Rush detailing events of the death of his daughter and wife which led him to travel over 55,000 miles from Canada through the U.S. to Central America and back to Canada in an attempt to heal the pain of his loss.

Best television show: Lost (no contest on this one).

Best Movie: We did not see too many movies in the theatre in 2006 so this film is chosen from our DVD selections that we saw during the year, but the movie was not a "2006" movie per se (at least I do not think it was released in 2006). The movie is Napoleon Dynamite.

These are a tiny handul of things that stand out from 2006. So, what are your "stand out events" from 2006? Leave some in the comments sections if you feel inclined to do so, and Happy New Year!!