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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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Quote of the Week

“Strange as it may seem, it is still true, that those who fail to understand other churches than their own are not the people who care intensely about theology, but the theological dilettantes, eclectics, and historians of all sorts; while those very men who have found themselves forced to confront a clear, thoroughgoing, logical sic et non find themselves allied to each other inspite of all contradictions, by an underlying fellowship and understanding, even in the cause which they handle so differently and approach from such painfully different angles. But the cause, it may be, is nothing less than Jesus Christ and the unity of the Church.”

—Karl Barth

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Monday, May 28, 2007

"Alone" or not?

I had the day off due to a holiday today, so I did something I have not done in a very long time, I browsed the internet blog world. I played catch up on some blogs I usually read more regularly but have not been able to do so lately, and I went to a few blogs that I have not visited in many months (almost years).

One such blog that I had not visited in almost a year (maybe more) had a post that really set me off. Now, I should preface all this by declaring that this particular blog is a very staunch fundamentalist blog, and one that thinks the Roman Catholic Church is false from start to finish. That being said, this particular post was, of course, about the false teaching of the Roman Catholic Church regarding salvation/justification.

While I will not detail the entire post, you can go to the link provided and read the post if you like, I did want to comment on the first few sentences of the post; these sentences read as follows,

“Roman Catholic theology does not embrace the interpretation of salvation and justification as that presented by Scripture and the Protestant Reformers. The Roman Church does teach that we are justified by grace through faith on account of Christ. What is missing, however, is the word alone. By omitting this word the Roman Church redefines grace, faith and justification in a way that undermines and invalidates the teaching of Scripture.”

Hmmm. What I can't help but notice is how this author makes a declaration about Scripture that simply does not exist. While I agree that the Roman Catholic Church does not put forth a doctrine of justification that matches the Reformers (well, certain Reformers anyway), what I find quite strange is the idea that the word alone, as used by this author, is elevated to a definitive "keyword" from Scripture that seems to hinge any and every doctrine of salvation/justification as being the "proof" of whether that doctrine is correct.

This is simply not the case. In fact, the term alone is never used in the same context with salvation or justification anywhere in Scripture except one place, and that is James 2:24; "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." That is the only time the term alone is used in the context of "justification." It comes across in the text so strongly that Martin Luther wanted the Epistle of James removed from the canon of Scripture. And yet, time and again, I read later Reformers (new Reformers is what I tend to call them), from the 17th century to the present, who make comments that salvation or justification pivots on one term, alone, or else the doctrine is false.

While I am not Roman Catholic, and for other reasons besides the solas of the Reformation, I can't help but chuckle whenever I read something like this post. And what I find more intersting is the fact that the author of this post actually agrees that the Roman Catholic Church teaches, "that we are justified by grace through faith on account of Christ." What other kind of justification is there? This is where the Scriptures are the most replete with regard to justification or salvation. That being the case, to add the term alone would seem to run more contrary to Scripture than simply declaring "we are justified by grace through faith on account of Christ" would it not?

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Bibliomania continued

To follow up my earlier post titled Bibliomania, I wanted to include some quotes from fellow bibliomaniacs throughout the centuries. Enjoy!

Here are some famous quotes about books:

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”
—Francis Bacon

“Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
—Mark Twain

“I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns of the set, I go in the other room and read a book.”
—Groucho Marx

“It is from books that wise people derive consolation in the troubles of life.”
—Victor Hugo

“Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, which are delivered down from generation to generation as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn.”
—Joseph Addison

“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read.”
—Abraham Lincoln

“All my good reading, you might say, was done in the toilet. There are passages in Ulysses which can be read only in the toilet -- if one wants to extract the full flavor of their content.”
—Henry Miller

“It is far better to be silent than merely to increase the quantity of bad books.”

“Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.”
—W. H. Auden

“Buy good books, and read them; the best books are the commonest, and the last editions are always the best, if the editors are not blockheads.”
—Lord Chesterfield

"I cannot live without books"
- Thomas Jefferson

“A good novel tells us the truth about it's hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”
—G. K. Chesterton

“Read, read, read. Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it.”
—William Faulkner

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Do you love books? I know I do! Yes, I must admit, I am a bibliophile. I love to buy books, I love to collect books, and I love to be around books. In fact, I love to be in my study, where most of my books are, and just sit there and stare at my books. Perhaps you think me strange. But, I love books.

However, my love for books does not stop at merely collecting them, buying them, wanting to be around them or simply staring at them. I do love reading them as well. I have been reading books since I was 9 years old, and this is due mainly to the influence my step-father (who was a grade school teacher for over 45 years) had on me when I was very young. He instilled in me a desire to read books. He gave me my first set of books when I was in the third grade, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Moreover, my step-father influenced the way I think about books and their importance in my education outside of the classroom. Along this line of thought, I think Thomas Carlyle said it best in The Hero as Man of Letters when he declared,

If we think of it, all that a University, or final highest School can do for us, is still but what the first school began doing,—teach us to read. We learn to read, in various languages, in various sciences; we learn the alphabet and letters of all manner of Books. But the place we are to get knowledge, is the Books themselves! It depends on what we read, after all the manner of Professors have done their best for us. The true University of these days is a Collection of Books.

This is so true. I've had classes with several talented and well known professors who would constantly say that nothing can substitute for a good library in one’s home. I cannot think of any scholar I have ever read who did not in one way or the other write something about the importance of books and learning from books. Most of my favorite fiction authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Victor Hugo, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and others, all have written about the influence that books have had upon their lives. The importance books had on them at a young age, or at some point in their lives is always stressed to one degree or another. So if you too love books, know that you are in good company.

My love for books and my desire to purchase books is so strong that sometimes I will actually forego buying the things I need, such as new shirts, or shoes, etc. to buy books. Of course, this drives my wife up the wall, but to me, clothes are far less important than books. I reason that I can get much more out of several books than I can out several shirts and a pair of shoes. What is more, those shirts and shoes will soon wear out, but my books I’ll have, God willing, until I die. I actually feel the same way Edward Gibbon (author of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire) did when he stated in his work Memoirs of My Life,

From this slender beginning I have gradually formed a numerous and Select library, the foundation of my works and the best comfort of my life both at home and abroad. On the receipt of the first quarter a large share of my allowance was appropriated to my literary wants: I cannot forget the joy with which I exchanged a bank-note of twenty pounds for the twenty volumes of the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions; nor would it have been easy by any other expenditure of the same sum to have procured so large and lasting a fund of rational amusement.

Some of my favorite memories are similar in the finding and purchasing of certain volumes which I could hardly wait to buy after I got a paycheck. However, there is nothing like the hunt. Some of the most enjoyable moments in my life are finding out about a certain book and its contents, knowing that this book will be very beneficial and then beginning the hunt. There is a certain amount of pleasure in the actual act of tracking down books, especially those which have been out of print for ages and are very difficult to find. The excitement of such activities is only highlighted by time. What I mean by this is the fact that certain books have taken me months to find, and during that time frame there was an enormous amount of pleasure in attempting to call, visit, and search online or on the street, for that one particular book. Perhaps, this is strange to you, but I am certainly not alone is this odd world of bibliomania: Refer to the book Patience and Fortitude.

There are but a few things that I can think of that give me joy as much as buying and reading a great book. Call me ‘old school’ but the notion of buying an author’s or scholar’s work on CD-Rom is quite unappealing. I am of the mind that actually having the book there in front of me, feeling the grain of the paper pages as I turn them, seeing the print on the actual page, and being able to mark, if I so desire, in the margin of the book is much more enjoyable than staring at a computer screen in order to read what was put on the disc. I would much rather have the actual book.

So, if you are a bibliomaniac like me, then know that you are in very good company with a whole host of other well known and not so well know bibliomaniacs throughout history. Even God had His words put into book form! So here’s to the booklovers, may you forever find enjoyment and happiness in your reading and collecting of various books.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Crossing the Tiber

I was told some very interesting news over the weekend. My seminary ethics professor, Frank Beckwith, has apparently converted back to Roman Catholicism. I say "back" because he was apparently raised Roman Catholic. While this news does surprise me to a certain degree, I can't help but think, based on the little bit of time I have spent with Dr. Beckwith, that he has spent years thoroughly thinking through this decision.

Dr. Beckwith posted his decision on his blog on May 5th, 2007. I am somewhat saddened by some of the comments that certain evangelicals have made regarding Beckwith's conversion back to the Roman Church. Some of these comments are downright rude and unnecessary, shame on you who call yourself Christian but yet can slander a fellow believer.
Because of his popularity in Evangelical circles, I am certain that this news is going to rattle a few and severely upset many in those same circles. I for one pray that God be with Dr. Beckwith and his family as he makes this transition.

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