Tuesday, June 04, 2002
I am sometimes bothered by the rise in new Bibles. I don't mean new translations. For the most part new translations are good and worthy additions to our knowledge base. What I mean is the increasing number of study Bibles. It all started out innocently enough. First came a few descriptive notes to help you understand the more esoteric passages. Then the notes became more frequent, they gave observations even on passages that seemingly spoke for themselves. Before long study Bibles were more on the order of commentaries. Then they started adding in full-blown articles right there in the text. I have one study Bible that was given to me which literally has more study aids then it has actual Bible text. (To the point that there are some places where it tells you how many pages to turn if you want to get back to the scriptures.)
Now all of this was very well meant and most of the material is pretty good. What, you may ask, is my bleat? It is this: I fear that more and more people are substituting reading the commentary and articles for reading the Bible. There are many dangers in this because the person your reading may be wrong. Besides, the text is before you. Just read that and go to a commentary only when you're struggling with a passage. More and more, people don't seem to be doing that. I don't know if its because their lazy or intimidated by the scriptures or what other reasons they may have. I do know that it is happening.*
I bring this all up because I found an article today that was written in 1839 about Bible reading. I want to share a few passages, but I suggest you read the whole thing.
I think this pretty clearly points out one of the dangers of relying too much on others opinions rather than your own study. You are very likely to end up holding opinions that you really don't understand. Because you don't understand them, you are likely to cling to them dogmatically, even if presented with a good reason to believe you are wrong. (It can be very difficult to reason someone out of a position if reason is not what got them there in the first place.) Reading and deciding for ourselves can help us come to a more reasonable faith. This is not to say that the opinions of others and of history are too be ignored. I think they should be given great weight. But this weight should come from our own analysis of those opinions so that our own faith is a rational one. One we can can give an answer for.
One more quote from this passge. The Bible can be read for lots of reasons and can generate many results. But the number one reason for a daily reading of the Bible on your own is:
The man of God reads the Book of God to commune with God, "to feel after him and find him," to feel his power and his divinity stirring within him; to have his soul fired, quickened, animated by the spirit of grace and truth. He reads the Bible to enjoy the God of the Bible; that the majesty, purity, excellency, and glory of its Author may overshadow him, inspire him, transform him, and new-create him in the image of God. Such a reader finds what he seeks in the Bible as every other person finds in it what he searches for. The words of Jesus to such a one are spirit and life; they are light and joy; they are truth and peace. Such a one converses with God as one who speaks by- signs. His readings are heavenly musings. God speaks: he listens. Occasionally, and almost inconsciously, at intervals he forgets that he reads, he speaks to God, and his reading thus often terminates in a devotional conversation with God. The Lord says, "Seek you my face;" he responds, "Thy face will I seek." Thy Spirit saith, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;" the Christian reader replies, "Open thou my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." The Spirit saith, "Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart;" and the devout reader answers. "With my whole heart have I sought thee. O let me not wander from thy commandments." The Bible reading of all enlightened Christians generally terminates in a sacred dialogue between the Author and the reader.
So, have you read the Bible today?
*=Please note, I'm not blasting people using study aids, just the tendency to use them instead of the Bible.
Marc Velazquez throws in his two cents on the Lord's Supper. Also, I forgot to include this link yesterday. This was one of my first posts. I include it now because it includes the comments I made the last time I presided at the Lord's Supper.
Monday, June 03, 2002
David Heddle has a post about the Lord's Supper. Specifically, he asks for advice about how to be in the proper frame of mind. He says that he understands the importance intellectually, but has trouble connecting that to an emotional response. I'll give it a try, but I can only say what works for me.
I will touch on something else that David mentions briefly. He makes an observation about the frequency of the Lord's Supper. While I know many people that are dogmatic about the subject one way or another, I can't say that I am. As David mentions, we're given no specific guidance about the frequency of the Lord's Supper. However, I have seen what I consider to be a preponderance of evidence that the early church partook weekly. I've mentioned before what I find to be a workable structure for determining proper doctrine and practice. To my mind, in absence of instruction, our best recourse is to try to reconstruct the practices of the early church. Among other things, I've seen references to early churches barring people for a time from participating in the Lord's Supper as a form of discipline. (From what I've seen, this was frequently the case with those who had lapsed. [This was a term frequently applied to those who had denied Christ when brought before Roman officials.])
This actually tells us several things. The first is that to early Christians, the Lord's Supper was something so important that being unable to partake of it would be something to be lamented. (You don't discipline people by taking away something they don't find of much importance.) In contrast, today many people don't worry too much if they miss the Lord's Supper.
The second is that the Lord's Supper was a frequent enough happening that people would actually be able to notice they'd been denied something. If, for instance, a congregation only served the Communion 4 times a year, some people's time of discipline might end before it was served again.
The third is that church discipline was taken much more seriously than it is now. Even when someone is in a genuine, public, destructive error, it is rare (in my experience) for church leadership to even give them a stern reprimand.
Anyway, after looking at some historical evidence, I'm satisfied that the early church generally took the Lord's Supper fairly often and probably weekly. Based on that, I am fairly confident that we should do the same. This is not something I'm willing to get in a huge argument about though. I could be wrong after all. Besides, if the frequency was that important, it wouldn't have been that difficult for one of the apostles to tell us so.
Anyway, on to David's actual question. Speaking from my own experience, I would say that when I have an emotional disconnect regarding the Lord's Supper it is generally because I am either distracted or thinking about it too hard. From reading David's post, I suspect that distraction is not what's really his problem, so I'll address the problem of thinking too hard.
It is vitally important to understand intellectually the importance of God's sacrifice. However, while actually partaking of communion is not the time to analyze Christ's sacrifice intellectually. Intellectual analysis is generally logical in nature. The more logical you are in your analysis, the more likely you are to become emotionally detached. After all, most people are able to grasp the basics of geometry and even understand its importance in their lives (more or less). It takes a very special kind of person to actually get excited about geometry. (This is no slap at math people, just an observation that the more logic required to think about something, the less likely thinking about that thing is to provoke an emotional response.)
My suggestion then, is that before you try to feel more, try to think less. Back away from some of the more intellectually interesting aspects of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Get the basics in your head and then just react. I think it helps to remember that you were dying and Christ died to save your life. That's really all that you've got to know about the Crucifixion while you're in the midst of communion. (The rest can wait for later.) I doubt that if I'd been in the path of a runaway car and someone got themselves killed pushing me out of the way that I'd ever have trouble getting an emotional response thinking about them. Even if they were a complete stranger and I never found out anything else about them, just the fact that they were willing to do that would make a huge impact.
The reading you do can often help as well. There is of course the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion. If you want emotional impact, John's is the most compelling. (To me at least.) I would suggest that if you have time read straight through from chapter 18 through 20. John's writing is very compelling. For the emotional impact, the story of Thomas at the end of chapter 20 is very important. Philip and Peter had both identified Jesus as the Son of God previous to the crucifixion. Apparently though, this was still just in the intellectual stage for them. Based on what they'd seen, they knew something very special was going on, but they didn't "get it" yet. However, when Thomas looks at the resurrected Jesus and proclaims, "My Lord and my God!", I get the impression that he had finally taken the whole awesome prospect in, heart, mind and soul.
Some other passages are also helpful to me. Isaiah 53 is hard to beat for sheer emotional punch. It's difficult for me to not be moved when told, "by his wounds we are healed." (By far the most compelling translation of this passage that I have read was in the Complete Jewish Bible.) I would also suggest the 22nd Psalm. Jesus himself quoted from this Psalm when he was on the cross. John also quotes this Psalm in connection to a fulfillment of prophecy. I find this passage very compelling in that it walks you through the despair of the Crucifixion right through the triumph of the Resurrection. It does it though, not in describing the actual events, but in understanding how they felt. Given Jesus quoting from this passage just before dying, I suspect that this is the closest we'll get in this lifetime to knowing what he was thinking while on the cross.
This was much longer than I had intended, but I hope it proves helpful.
Corrrection:It was Nathaniel, not Philip who identified Christ as the Son of God upon first meeting him in John chapter 2.
Well as you can probably tell, I got struck by weekend blogger disease. Posting should pick up sometime today.
Friday, May 31, 2002
The Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow Up (ZCCF) (an Arab League think tank) claims the US military orchestrated the attacks of September 11 using remote control planes. These claims even ran in a Saudi run newspaper. If this is how "partners" act, I'd hate to see how they'd act if they were actually trying to undermine us.
Thursday, May 30, 2002
This piece looks to me as though Pakistan is pretty much telling India, you attack, we nuke. This is getting out of hand. Lots of people want the West, meaning the US (let's be honest), to do more to stop war. I think we should at least try to talk sense into people, but I'm not really sure what we can do. I've also never understood why everyone always seems to assume that the US has the ability and the responsibility to fix everyone else's problems.
Slain journalist Daniel Pearl's wife has given birth to a son. She named him Adam.
Ephesians 4:22-24 RSV Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Put off the old nature. I wonder sometimes if we really do that. I know that's something I struggle with. Perhaps that's because we don't really believe we were dead. That's something one of our ministers pointed out lately. Sometimes we allow ourselves to think that we were seriously wounded, but not actually dead. Because of that, maybe we don't really see the need to change. That's not how Paul told us to be.
Ephesians 5:3-4 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
God and Father, help us to put our old lives behind us. May we always be grateful for you Son's sacrifice, without which we would be dead. Guide us and teach us how to imitate You. Amen.
Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Psalms 95:1-7 NLT
Lord God, we praise you and exalt you. We thank you for the wonderful gift you gave us through the death and resurrection of your Son. May we never cease to be grateful for that sacrifice. May we never forget that without Christ, we were dead. We see your handiwork throughout the world and stand in awe. We love you Lord. Amen.
I'm not sure exactly what it is that Marc is trying to say. If he's saying that as Christians, we cannot allow concerns over wealth to impede our pursuit of heavenly things and bringing the message of the cross to the world, then I agree wholeheartedly. However, I'm not sure that's what he's saying here. It looks as if he's setting up Christianity and free-trade/small government conservatism as systems that are in some way inherently opposed. If that's what he's saying, then I can't agree. I will allow that there may be times when conservatism may be opposed to Christian values on a particular issue, but I don't see in what way the dichotomy he seems to be describing exists.
I guess this was just a long way of asking Marc to clarify his position on this issue.
Marc has written a clarification here. Thanks Marc, that makes more sense. (To me at least.)
Tuesday, May 28, 2002
Mark Byron has some comments on the need for evangelical Christians to work with others in order to build a political majority. While I think he's given a good view of the general politcal climate, I think he's missing a point here. I bring it up because its something I've been thinking about anyway. Maybe instead of spending so much time worrying about politics, we should be focusing more of that energy on converting more Christians.
There are several reasons for this. There is, of course, the fact that our Lord commanded it. There's also the fact that we are unlikely to accomplish anything by going the other way around. If we fight things out on the political spectrum and win a great victory in the culture war, will anyone be saved by this victory? If we remake the world the way we want it, will we have rescued a single soul? I think the answer is no. However, if we convert enough people to Christianity, we likely win both battles at once. Not only will we have rescued them from eternal anguish, but once those people become Christians, the way they vote is likely to change as well.
I don't think we really have the option of teaching the lost or winning the culture war. If we don't do enough of the former, we'll never accomplish the latter. If we pursue the latter to the eclusion of the former, even if we win, we still lose.
For perspecitve, here are some references to times when God did send some sort of collective punishment for sin.
Plainly, there have been times when God has seen fit to send some calamity as a punishment for sins. I've seen some people say that this only happened to Israel. However, Amos chapter 1 is full of warnings of a similar nature to other cities and nations.
It does no good to try to dismiss these things as just Old Testament behavior of God either, because God does not change. Nor is He likely too. No, it seems that even today, we have to deal with the possibility that God sends (or at least allows) great tragedies in order to call us to repentance.
That being said, I still have problems when people say they know why God has done or allowed anything.
Thomas Sowell has come good comments on Hawaii, price controls, and politics.
Read this post by Tim Blair. Only the second half is a joke.
David Heddle, Mark Byron, and Kevin Holtsberry have all had comments on the subject of whether 9/11 was a punishment to America for sin and a call for repentance. This started with David posting a call for national repentance issued by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. He then made some comments about the possibility that the attacks last September might have been punishment for national sins.
Today, I just want to make a couple of observations. I would agree with Kevin that David was a little harsh on Goldberg, Buckley, et al. I was aghast, much as it seems Buckley and others were, at Jerry Falwell's comments. I wasn't upset at the general concept that these acts might have been punishment. I was offended by the specific application he made. Among other things, I felt it smacked of a huge amount of arrogance. I can't imagine thinking that I had the ability or the knowledge to explain God's action with that type of certainty.
On the other hand, I'm not sure Kevin really took David's comments in the way they were intended. I didn't get the impression that David was saying that the attacks absolutely were God's judgement. It appeared to me that he was only upset at the way so many people dismissed the idea with so much contempt. Of course I'm not sure people's reaction really was to the idea. I suspect it was much more the presentation.
Update - Here is an article written by Cal Thomas on this subject on September 18. It is worth the read.
Monday, May 27, 2002
There's been a lot of discussion on several sites lately explaining different viewpoints on some issues of Christianity. (Nature of scripture, gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc.) I was looking at this passage and I thought it would be good for to look at in this context.
One of the things I find interesting here is that even Jesus disclaims the idea that his own opinions are significant. Everything, He says, must be guided by the will of the Father. (I'll pass by the potentially dizzying thoughts that could arise in attempting to differentiate the ideas of the Son from the ideas of the Father. I'm not sure how it works and I'm not certain it would add anything to this discussion. The important thing is to note what Jesus said is important. The ideas of the Father.)
This is relevant because it is sometimes difficult, especially, in the heat of discussion, to differentiate those ideas that are our own (those we've thought up or picked up from others) from those of the Father (those clearly laid out in scripture). This is especially true, because, as much as possible, we (or at least I) try to draw my ideas from scripture as much as possible. However, the Bible doesn't clearly lay out God's position on every possible issue. So we find as much information as we can and then make a decision. The danger is that since we've studied in the Bible and found some passages that seem to address a topic, we conclude that what is really our opinion (while honestly come by and reliant on scripture as much as possible) is still just our opinion. We could be wrong.
It is vitally important that we learn to tell the difference between God's thoughts and our own. Remember, we are charged to handle the word correctly and to avoid pointless arguments. There are some things which are of first importance, and are non-negotiable. Other things are not as vital.
To that end, let me share a way of prioritizing that is proving helpful to me.
Item 1 is what appears to me to constitute those things which we must defend zealously no matter the cost. People's eternal destiny literally depends on it. Item 2 constitutes things which I believe to be important and on which I will be willing to take a stand. However, I will not be nearly as dogmatic on these issues.
Item 3 is where I see the most danger. This is where we are most likely to confuse our opinions for God's commands. A reference that implies that the early church did things in a certain way is not the same as a command. These inferential references are also very open to interpretation in some instances. We should not be fighting over passing comments in the scriptures. Items 4 and 5 I put less weight on still. Nevertheless, there is certainly a lot of useful instruction to be had there. To me, the value of items 3-5 is that we oftentimes are face with an issue where no command is given. To me, the best approach in these issues is to look to what the early church did (when they still had the apostles and their immediate students among them) and take that as my guidance. I would not suggest that someone who looks at the same information and comes to a different conclusion in these areas is in some sort of deep error. These are things you can talk about, but if no agreement seems likely, drop it. Item 6 is primarily useful to help us make decisions in our Christian walk and to help us understand Christianity better. To the extent it helps you in these areas, great. If it doesn't, don't worry about it. If its in opposition to 1-5, particularly and especially 1 and 2, it doesn't matter whether you think its helpful or not, let it go.
I would also suggest that if you find something further down the line in conflict with something further up, always go with the teaching further up the line. (Although with 3-6 this gets a little dicey.) This is just a rule of thumb. You obviously have to use sound judgement here.
This is a tentative (at best) discussion of this issue. Its the first time I've really set down and worked all the way through this. If anyone's got any thoughts, drop me a line. Also, I got started on this line after reading this short piece at Heartlight.org. Its probably worth your time.
I just stumbled across this article about sharing your faith. Its well worth the read.
Sunday, May 26, 2002
I heartily recommend you read this post by Mark Byron.
Sorry about the lack of posts, the last couple of days. I think I've been doing to much serious thinking so I've decided to slow down and relax for a few days and this weekend seemed as good a time as any.
Friday, May 24, 2002
Okay, am I the only one bothered by this?
Thursday, May 23, 2002
Father, all praise, honor, and glory is yours. I exalt your name. I thank your Lord for sending your Son to die for me. Forgive me of my sins, Father. Teach me your ways more perfectly so that I can walk in your steps. Give me the understanding and the will to obey your commands. I love you Lord. In your Son's Name, Amen.
I've been collecting a few e-mails and thoughts on the whole biblical sufficiency stream, but haven't had a chance to iron out my thoughts on the subject. I'm probably going to try to do that sometime this weekend.
Since I've brought up intriguing questions, Christopher Johnson poses this one.
Here's an interesting observation from Tal G. in Jerusalem.
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Josh Chafetz asks what may be one of the most profound questions I've ever heard.
That sums it up rather nicely, doesn't it?
Update-Oops. You see what happens when you don't pay enough attention. This question was actually posed by another of the OxBlog crew, Anand Giridharadas. Thanks to Josh for pointing out my error and apologies to Anand.
In the self-referential style of the blogosphere, I direct your attention to a post by Roy Jacobsen referencing my earlier comments about on a stream begun by Martin Roth. Martin was concerned about how 97% of Papua New Guinea can call themselves Christian while a large number of them are obviously engaged in sexual promiscuity.
Mr. Jacobsen believes that part of the problem is that while we remember the part in the Great Commission about making disciples and baptizing, we tend to forget verse 20 where we are told to also teach them to obey His commands. (On this point, when I looked up this passage on the Studylight website to include the link, I asked it to put verse 19 "in context." I got back a screen with only verse 19 on it, even though in the NASB the sentence continues into verse 20.)
Is it possible that new Christians continue in some sins because they've been culturally hardened to the point that they don't realize the sin? That's definitely possible. Are experienced Christians abdicating their responsibility to teach these people the commands of the Lord? I'm afraid this is so.
Meanwhile, Marc Velazquez over at Spudlets has written to me advising that we don't let this conversation (Biblical authority) become too philosophical or theological. His concern, as I understand it, is that we might confuse or leave behind those new to the faith and might completely lose the unbeliever. I share his concern. In any medium where you don't have direct knowledge of where your readers are, especially if you suspect they're all over the spectrum, it can be very difficult to tailor the discussion so as not to leave some people behind. (You also risk boring those at or above your level.)
I'm afraid that I am by nature very philosophical and I have trouble adjusting my discourse to those who don't "dig" philosophy. I shall try however. In the meantime, if I get too theological or philosophical, I'd appreciate if someone told me so.
I have now realized one failing of the blogosphere. Many people may be engaged in an ongoing discussion that started at the same point, but since everyone isn't (probably even couldn't be) read by everyone else, some parts of the discussion get dropped out along the way and the discussion strays far from its original point. Recently, several Christian blogs have been discussing biblical inerrancy. Everytime I turn around, someone I have been reading seems to be quoting someone I wasn't reading about a discussion I've participated in. Consequently, some of the points seem to trickle in and others probably get lost. This leads to a lot of confusion.
Consequently, it is sometimes necessary to clarify positions. This, David Heddle has done in an excellent post. I think that his summary does a good job of stating an important point.
As do I.
Responding to Martin Roth's question about how promiscuity could be so widespread in a country that is purportedly 97% Christian, Ted Esler points out that in identifying Papua New Guinea as largely Christian, the word "Christian" is being used in an almost meaningless way.
While he's right about the problem with people confusing religion with cultural identity, I'm not sure the problem can all be laid at the foot of "new motivators." (I'm not at all sure that's what Esler is doing.) A lot of the problem comes from misconceptions people have before the missionaries arrive. I've had several friends who have gone on missionary trips to the Ukraine. One of the things they found was that a huge portion of the people they talked to identified themselves as Christian. They did so, not because they believed, or even knew, what Christianity taught. They called themselves Christians because they weren't communist anymore. One friend asked a man how he became a Christian. The answer was, "I tore up my Communist Party card." These people went so long being indoctrinated against Christianity by Communists, that when the Communist government fell, they assumed they must be Christians. Hence, a large number of people with no knowledge of the Incarnation, Sin, Redemption, Faith, Repentance, or Baptism calling themselves "Christian."
On another note, Esler laments that missionaries sometimes don't teach Christianity based on truth. The problem extends further than missionaries. People (in and out of established churches) frequently look at Christianity not to see if it is true, but to see whether it can do something for them. There are no truly workable utilitarian arguments for Christianity. Either it is true, or it is not. If it's true, than it should be accepted as such and the salvation it offers should be accepted. If it is not true, it doesn't matter whether you accept it or not. As Paul said, "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain."
Note to Ted and Martin, your sites would both benefit from perma-links of some kind so people could link directly to a specific post.
Jacobsen also has a post on the trouble with syncretism in Papua New Guinea. This was apparently the trouble in Colosse. Hence, Paul spends most of Chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Colossians emphasizing the all-suficiency of Christ. (I've mentioned this aspect of the book here.
Roy Jacobsen has a good point on the biblical sufficiency front
This is an excellent point. I'd like to add that when determining who somone is, we usually begin by asking that person, "Who are you?" Then, generally speaking, we operate on the assumption that they are who they say they are unless we come up with pretty convinicing arguments otherwise. Of course, if someone claims to be someone quite great, our suspicions are aroused. We might be inclined to be a bit skeptical. Our skepticism though, does not disprove their claim. If someone claimed to be God, we'd be more skeptical still. But again, our skepticism would not disprove the claim. Anytime someone claims to be someone and our skepticism is aroused, the proper course of action is not to dismiss the claim. The proper course of action is to see if that person has the attributes of the one they claim to be. We'd then weigh the evidence and make a determination about whether that statement is true. (There is an interesting discussion along these lines in Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ. I wouldn't say it is a conclusive study. But the book does look at some attributes of God and ask if Jesus met them.)
I belive the same approach we use for testing the identity of people can be adapted to evaluating the identity of books. That would mean that I would first look at what the Bible claimed to be. Many books in the Bible claim to be the direct words of God. (Scan through the prophets and see how many times you come across variations of the phrase, "The word of the LORD came to . . ." Once you've identified what the Bible claims to be, you'll need to see whether it has the attributes required. That is a study much too long for the moment and tons of books have been written on the subject. (Mr. Jacobsen includes a recomendation in his post.)
The point here was not to try to prove the Bible to be the all-suficient word of God. Just to point out that the claim cannot be dimissed as circular reasoning. (And no, this is not a stab at anyone in particular. Its just that Jacobsen's post got me thinking about arguments of this kind that I have heard.) If I am wandering through a bookstore and see a book that claims to be a discussion of Modern Physics, barring evidence to the contrary, I would assume that is what says it is. If I opened it up and found a recipe for a really good Cherry Cheese Cake on page 1, I might suspect the book was not what it claims to be. If I read further and found more recipes, I would suspect it was actually a Cookbook. But I would have only dismissed the book's claim about itself after evaluating whether it had the attributes its claim implied.
People are understandably more skeptical about books that claim to be from God. (Rightly so. Much more is on the line.) But the claim itself cannot be ignored. What I have found is that many people who dismiss out of hand the Bible's claim to be a book by God do so without evaluating the claim. (I use the phrase "by God" only to reference the nature of the claim to inspiration. It is not my intent to spark a debate about possible theories of inspiration. Not that there's anything wrong with those debates, just not at all where I'm going.) They have already dismissed out of hand the idea that it is even possible for for there to be a book by God. Thus, when they find a book making the claim, they don't evaluate the claim, just reject it. This is not to say that all people who make the "Circular Reasoning" argument operate in this fashion, but a lot do.
This post has been longer and more rambling then I had intended. Let me just sum by saying that when we try to identify what the Bible is, what it says about itself must be where we begin our search. Its not the end of our search. No matter what you think of the claim, the claim must be investigated.
Update- Let us not forget that this whole Biblical Sufficiency stream started with this excellent post by David Heddle.
In Matthew 23, we see an event that illustrates well how the divine and the human were able to be united in Jesus. At the end of a long warning to the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders, we find this lament.
Matthew 23:37-38- NAS Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!
Jesus is clearly heartbroken. Over and over the people have been given opportunities to know God's word and obey it. Repeatedly, they have refused the opportunity. In fact, they've killed the emissaries of God. Jesus looks on the scene of these beloved ones who refuse to return to God, and he is devastated. It is at times like these that the humanity of Christ is most evident.
But in that anguish, there is something odd. At least it would be odd if he were not God. He says that he personally wants to gather them up. And those prophets they were killing. Where did they come from? Well the prophets they have already killed came from the same place the ones to follow would come from.
If it were just anguish over the state of the Jewish people, that alone would not be unique. What's unique is that He claims to be the source that has been sending prophets and wise men throughout history. Not only that, but he takes the rejection so personally. Yet he does it so casually. Its just there. With those few words, He claims deity. Its so understated, you almost miss it. (I had to have it pointed out to me.) No pretension. Just an offhanded observation. It leaves very little doubt though about who He believed Himself to be.
Al right there in a few short verses. The power of God and the anguish of man. Just as it had to be. For that is what we had to have for redemption. A God-man willing to sacrifice Himself for us.
Father of Love, we praise your name. We thank you Lord for this wonderful sacrifice which you offered on our behalf. May we never cease to be grateful and amazed at the truly staggering amount of love you showed for us. Amen.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
I'm hesitant to put too much weight on this WorldNetDaily story as their primary source is clearly someone with an agenda. (Yes, their agenda tracks pretty closely with mine, but that doesn't change the fact that people with agendas tend to exagerate the meaning of their studies.) Basically this story indicates a staggering widespread willingness among Planned Parenthood employees to conceal or even abet statutory rape. If true, the implications could be widespread.
Monday, May 20, 2002
Rod Dreher on the murder of Danny Pearl.
Eugene Volokh chimes in on the importance of a Constitutional amendment. (And not the 2nd one this time.)
Matthew 7:3-5 ISV "Why do you see the speck in your brother's eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when the beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Recently, I attended the wedding of a friend. He's never been one of my closest friends. He is, however, a brother in Christ. Someone who I've spent time studying and praying with. We have many common friends, some common interests, and most importantly, a common Savior.
Periodically I have regretted that since he began dating the wonderful person who is now his wife, we have not spent anywhere nearly the same amount of time together. I've also regretted that while I know a good deal about her, I don't really know her.
I realize now that all along I've thought this had something to do with them. I wasn't angry or upset with them. I just felt sad. And for some reason I couldn't even began to explain, I just assumed that my lack of time with him and lack of knowledge of her was some sort of natural thing. After all, they're spending a lot of time together; it seemed only natural that they would be spending less time with others. I realize now that our other friends don't seem to have experienced the same kind of problem.
Only now do I realize that the reason I haven't been spending time with him and don't really know her is that I've never really put forth any effort in that area. I haven't put up any obstacles really. I just expected them to take all the initiative.
I feel horrible about it too, because I know that while they are happy together, problems in her family have caused her lots of pain. I can see it in her eyes, in her mannerisms, in the changes I've witnessed in her behavior. She hurts. As they were saying their vows was the first time I've seen real joy in her face for as long as I can remember.
They both could have used one more friend to lighten the load. I could have been that friend. There was nothing standing in my way, but the closer they got, the further I got from them. And all along, I blamed them.
Why? Why could I not see until today as I knelt before my Father that the problems in this area were mine, not theirs? Was it pride? Did I think my friendship so great a thing that surely they would seek it? I do not know. But as I think about the words of the Master, I see plainly (now) that I was walking about with a beam in my eye. I didn't even notice it until tonight.
I know I'm not the only one to fall into this trap. Most of us do similar things. That is, after all, why Christ told this parable. Of course, the fact that I am not alone does not relieve me of my guilt. Only my repentance before the Father, and much more importantly, His forgiveness and grace can do that. But perhaps my jotting this down tonight can serve as a cautionary tale to someone else. Regardless, there it is. For better or worse.
Father of Love, you are Holy and Mighty. I thank you for sending your Son into this world to die for my sins. I know that I am weak and unworthy of Your love, yet You loved me anyway. For that I am grateful. I come before you tonight asking your forgiveness for my neglect of your children. Help me to kill the selfishness that causes me to place my own welfare above theirs. You called us to be perfect. I am far from it. I pray though that you will continue to mold me until I become perfect. Forgive me my sins and help me to kill the sinful desires that war against me. To you I give all praise and glory. In Jesus's name, amen.
If you've never checked out the USS Clueless, you really should. Always interesting analysis on a wide variety of issues. A post today about Europe's inability to understand America and the consequen European arrogance is a true gem. Here's a sample:
I had several problems with Jonah Goldberg's review of Attack of the Clones, though he did have some interesting points. One sentence grabbed me and really set me off though.
Problem? Problem? Being derivitave of Empire is not a problem. Its the whole point! Lucas has mentioned several times that one of the devices he is using is a planned parallel between the first trilogy and the second. We're supposed to see how many of the same experiences that Anakin and Luke share. You even see some dialogue repeated. It is, I think, an effective plot device. In fact, I belive that the chief failing of Phantom Menace is that is not derivative enough of A New Hope.
Anyway, that's my bleat on Star Wars for today. Being a fan, it probably won't be the last.
People sometimes forget that the book of Psalms is not the only source of psalms in the Bible. Following is the song of Habakkuk. Notice his faith in God, even when things look bad.
Father, may we all have the faith of your servant, Habakkuk. Even when trouble surrounded him, he kept his faith in you. I pray that you forgive us of our sins. I pray also that you help us kill our eartly desires. Further, Lord, help us to increase our faith to the point that we hold firm in all situations. In your Son's name, Amen.
Sunday, May 19, 2002
This NBC poll is one of the reasons I dislike polls in general. Question 3 reads:
Do you think the Bush administration did as much as was reasonable or could have done more to prevent or warn about hijackings?
This question presents a false dichotomy. The propositions "did as much as was reasonable" and "could have done more" are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in many instances, they are not. It is plain that in many cases, as much as was reasonable will not be as much as was possible. In fact, if as much as was reasonable was synonymous with as much as was possible, they wouldn't have asked about reasonableness at all. Consequently, much of the time, it might be possible for someone to simultaneously believe that someone has done as much as was reasonable and that they could have done more. The fact that some of the "more" wouldn't have been reasonable doesn't change the fact that it could have been done.
I myself have had pollsters call me and found many of the questions to have either multiple correct answers or no correct answers at all. The problem is that in the short time they have to answer the pollsters questions, most people don't recognize the false dichotomy put before them. That is probably why some polls end up with questions whose answers seem mutually exclusive. Anyway, that's my short bleat about polls.
If I'm not careful, I'll end up linking to every other Mark Byron post. Still, he's written a good post on applying Colossians chapter 3 to our jaunts through the blogosphere. Its a good read and make me think.
Josh Chafetz has written an interesting piece about what a truly democratic Palestine might mean to the Palestinians and to the surrounding area.
Saturday, May 18, 2002
Theophilus of Antioch was one of the "early church fathers." He lived in the second century and apparently was fierce in his defense of Christianity against both heretics and pagans. I think it is instructive to see such a man's opinion of what it meant to be a Christian. Keep in mind that his argument hinges on the literal meaning of "Christos" or Christ as "The Annointed One." Also remember that the concept of annointing was much more prevalent in his world then it is in ours.
To some, the term "Christian" was a term of derision in the ancient world. Theophilus wears it as a badge of honor. We should remember that "Christ" was NOT the last name of our Lord. His name was NOT Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus. Christ is not a name, but a job description. Jewish prophecy had long foretold the coming of The Annointed One (The Messiah). Jews annointed men to show they had been chosen for one of three offices:prophet, priest, and king. Christ was all of these at the same time and much more.
Theophilus seemed to believe that the name "Christian" was also a job description. One he took pride in. If we have been annointed by God to fulfill an office, what is the job description? I'll list a few of the tasks set before us, but this is not intended to be a complete list.
1. Matthew 28:18-20 - NAS "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
So then, we have a job, a title, and at least a partial job description. How are you doing? As for myself, I know that I'm not doing nearly as well as I should be.
Father, we praise you and exalt you. We thank you for sending your Annointed One to die for us. We ask that you help us Lord, as we try to do your will. Give us the wisdom, the skill, and the will to do the tasks you have set before us. We pray that you forgive us our sins and help us to forgive others. You are the One, True and Holy and we love you today and forever. In your Son's blessed name, Amen.
A great bit at Samizdata about the proper role of government.
Last, the Empire, and Arafat -Lets play the moral equivalence game
In an article whose purpose I am at loss to explain, Jonathan Last attempts to demonstrate that black is white. Specifically he argues that George Lucas got it all wrong and the Empire is really the good guys in Star Wars. While I could tear this apart, and I'm sure others already have, I just want to make a few short points.
The article is infuriating, mostly because of the staggering disregard for facts. For the most part, his argument sets forth the shortcomings of the Old Republic. They are numerous. However, when discussing the Empire, he nicely sets aside the atrocities of the Empire. He does this in part by insisting we ignore all the evils that are chronicled in the related books. (They apparently don't count. I will note that while he insists on ignoring the "Expanded Universe", he draws on it when it suites him. For instance, he references Han's former service in the Imperial Navy, a fact that cannot be gleaned from the movies.) Now that he has ignored a vast array of information damaging to his cause, he states that the Emperor is a relatively benign dictator. One you can, "do business with."
His indictment of the Old Republic, boils down to three points: 1)The Senate is ineffective 2)He doesn't like the Jedi (he grossly misstates a lot about the Jedi, but that's another argument) and 3)The Senate was willing to raise an army to keep separatists in the Republic. Point 2 is a matter of personal preference and not really a good argument that the (little r) republicans are the bad guys. Points 1 and 3 are substantially reduced in effectiveness when you realize that a big part of the reason the Senate was ineffective in Episode I (Which is his real argument. He references Episode II as well, but only to note that an 18 year old boy doesn't think the system works.) is that Palpatine was intentionally manipulating the parliamentary process to keep it from being effective. The same holds true for point 3. Yes, the Republic was willing to raise an army and fight, but Palpatine was manipulating the entire situation. The major weaknesses we see in the Republic then, are caused by his prized benign dictator.
But here's what I really want to talk about. He can only argue that Palpatine is benign if he ignores the evidence, in the movies and elsewhere, of the atrocities committed by Palpatine. We'll stick to the movies even though Last doesn't. Two points. At the beginning of Episode II, there are two assassination attempts on Senator Amidala. Those attempts are made by an employee of Janga Fett. Fett is clearly alligned with Count Dooku. Dooku is the lackey of Sidious. Only a fool can miss that Sidious and Palpatine are one and the same. His benign dictator tries to kill Senators that get in the way.
Now on to a more serious crime. Yes, the Republic raised and army to tried to keep the separatists in the Republic, but the Empire's strategy for keeping separatists in line was to blow up whole planets as a warning to everybody else. Benign dictators don't kill millions of people indiscriminately just to make a political point. Yes, relatively good governments may sometimes engage in tactics that result in lots of civilian deaths, but its not usually the first option. And it's sure not an interrogation technique.
So, one government raises an army to prevent rebellion, the other blows up planets as an interrogation technique. Last wants us to believe the planet killers are the good guys.
So, why do I bother with this, besides the fact I'm a Star Wars fan? Well, there does seem to be some relevance. Last's argument only works if your willing to ignore little things like the fact that his side blows up planets to get people to talk. The argument that Arafat is a "partner for peace" only works if you ignore the fact that we have plenty of evidence that he's actually ordered and paid for a whole lot of suicide bombings. The moral equivalence game is a lot easier to play if you ignore the facts.
As it turns out, Mark Byron is a pretty good satirist as well.
Mark Byron has a good piece encouraging us to take advantage of the proper usage of the joys God has set before us. As it happens, I'm reading The Screwtape Letters at the moment and I think I've got the quote he was looking for. The context is Screwtape giving Wormwood advice on how to take advantage of his "patient's" low spirits in order to turn him away from God.
This goes along with Lewis's generally premise, which I have found in many of his works, that it is not possible to be bad in the same way it is possible to be good. Lewis believed that badness was really just the pursuit of good things in the wrong ways. I think he's right, but I still haven't grasped all the implications of that.
Update-Mark Byron says that this passage from The Screwtape Letters is not the one he was looking for. However, he did turn up the desired passage and has added it to his post.
I've appreciated Martin Roth's efforts to compose a Christian Blog list. However, I'm very grateful that he has raised my awareness in relation to the persecution of Christians. It's probably because of him that I investigated this site. They have a newsletter and also several pages giving ways persecuted Christians can receive your assistance. The one that sprang out at me is the drive to print Bibles in the Hmong language.
Friday, May 17, 2002
The wonders of the blogsphere. A few hours ago, I commented on the use of Revelation 22:18-19 in discussions of biblical inerrancy and sufficiency by Mark Byron and David Heddle. (Apparently I wasn't the only one to comment on this point.) Anyway, Dr. Byron has already posted his response to these criticisms here.
The AP is reporting that University of Hawaii astronomers discover 11 new moons orbiting Jupiter. While that's great and interesting, I found this quote from a NASA scientist to be really disturbing. "It's really quite extraordinary — the number of moons in the solar system has doubled." Maybe I'm making to much of this, but he actually said that the number of moons has doubled. Not the number of known moons, but the actual number of moons. I did a Goole search and found several headlines for this story along the lines of "11 New Moons for Jupiter." What I see is indicative of a lot of science. When we find out something, we frequently act as if we just changed the facts of the universe rather than discovering it. Again, maybe I'm making too much of this, but it disturbs me nonetheless.
Wanted to give you a line of a friend of mine regarding Star Wars Episode II. He suggests the alternate title, "Crouching Yoda, Hidden Sith."
I was reading this post by Bjorn Staerk and saw this quote.
Swedens Minister of Integration, Mona Sahlin, has come all the way to Norway to tell us what's wrong with our immigration debate: We've got one.
If you're like me, you read this and said, "Minister of Integration. What on earth is that?" I've done some research and found that's apparently not her actual title. Her real title is, Minister of Industry, Employment and Communications. There, isn't that much better? I've gone to her website. While I admit, I didn't thoroughly investigate it, I still don't understand what she does, aside from lecturing Norway of course.
Update- In a new post Bjorn Staerk has turned up some more information about Mona Sahlin. Its even more convoluted than I thought.
In discussing Star Wars, the Captain of the USS Clueless, while delivering what appears to be a thorough critique of Star Wars weaponry and tactics demonstrates a stunning inability to suspend disbelief. I must say that I was very skeptical before actually seeing Episode II, though not as skeptical as some, probably because I don't watch TV and had seen none of the previews. After seeing the movie, I was very impressed. It may turn out to be the best movie in the series. I'd have to watch it a few more times to be sure, but right now I'd rank them as follows:II,IV,VI,V,I.
Update-I'd also note that its a bit presumptuous to say a wonderful opportunity has been wasted because someone's personal ideas of the clone wars didn't reach fruition. Additionally, he may be happy yet. As it turns out, Episode II only deals with the first battle in the clone wars. I would say, that having read several Star Wars books that allude to the Clone Wars, the actual use of clones in the movie is pretty much what I expected.
James Robbins on Planes, the President, and hindsight, oh my.
Mark Byron and David Heddle have both recently posted on the inerrancy and all-sufficiency of the Bble. I bring this up because while I agree with a lot of what they both have to say (leaning more toward David and less toward Mark), I think they both have overstretched the use of Revelation 22:18-19. David uses this as evidence that revelation ended with the apostolic age. (Mark agrees, but wants us to specify the end of broadly applicable revelations given to one author and written down for all Christians. His view leaves open the possibility of God giving continuing revelation to individuals to guide them and to help them understand scripture. This is a very interesting discussion, but not really what I wanted to comment on. Maybe later.) Mark uses the same passage to defend the position that anyone attempting to add to the canon, "is in serious doo-doo."
Here's my quibble with both uses of this passage. It doesn't actually say either. In reference to the end of revelation, John is here silent. The vast majority of Revelation is prophecy in the Apocolyptic style. At the end, John warns, "I testify to every man who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to them, may God add to him the plagues which are written in this book. If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, may God take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book." It seems clear to me that John was warning people not to alter the words of the prophecy he had just given them. (This point is made more clear when you keep in mind that the book of Revelation was written as letter to 7 churches in Asia Minor. At this point, most of the scriptures were still being passed around in letter form or as collections of lettters. There is no evidence that John had a copy of the entire New Testament as we have it now and simply wrote Revelation as an appendix. This is testified to by the fact that there was some argument about which books were canonical for about 300 years after the death of John. This being the case, it seems unlikely that John was laying curses and blessings on people based on what they would do with other texts that weren't, at the time, attached to his work) I see nothing in this passage that indicates that John was prohibiting any addition to scripture or that he was talking about the end of revelation (in any sense).
In regards to additions or deletions from the canon, as I noted parenthetically above, the canon itself was not firmly fixed at this time. There would still be some argument about which books were canonical (especially 2 Peter and Jude) for quite some time. If it was John's intention to curse people for adding to or subtracting from the canon, don't you think he would have been more specific about what was canonical? If he was referencing the canon, he was cursing people for changing something, but giving them no standard from which they were not to deviate. Under the circumstances, it seems much more likely that the curses were on those who altered his prophecy.
I don't want you to get me wrong. I do believe the canon is closed. I just don't think this passage says that. I also think that the style of revelation exhibited by the Biblical authors is over, (exploring Mark's comments on personal revelation will have to wait) but again, I don't think this passage says that. There are some general rules we can look at in relation to the canon and revelation however. Paul charged the Galatians not to accept any message contrary to the one they had already received, even if it came from an angel. (This passage of course raises very interesting questions about the book of Mormon, but I digress.) Based on this advice, we can confidently spurn writings contrary to the teachings of Christ and the apostles.
In reference to the end of apostolical style revelation, I find it more convincing that after the death of the Apostles, we see a change in the style of writings. Paul, for example, frequently went to great lengths to establish his position of authority when writing to the churches. (For example, see 1 Corinthians 9:2.) In contrast, the writings of Ignatius (an early Father) show him disclaiming this type of authority.
For even I, though I am bound [for Christ], yet am not on that account able to understand heavenly things, and the places of the angels, and their gatherings under their respective princes, things visible and invisible. Without reference to such abstruse subjects, I am still but a learner [in other respects]; for many things are wanting to us, that we come not short of God.
In all, I thought both Mark and David had good points, I just think its important not to oversell a passage when making your case.
David Heddle makes an important point about putting too much emphasis on theologians. I would add that while it is good to read or hear what other people have to say about God, it is also dangerous.
It's good because people have been wrestling with the issues of Christianity for roughly 2000 years and it would be foolish to deprive ourselves of the thoughts of others, espeically the great thinkers, as we search to understand our faith better. It's dangerous because no matter how good and wise these people may be, they cannot provide you with the same type of knowledge that is available in scripture. (They could also be wrong.)
Personally, I love to read C.S. Lewis. When Lewis discussed things I'd thought on myself, he usaully expressed my thoughts on the subject, only far more articulately. He also addressed a wide range of topics I might not have thought of if I'd never read what he had to say. So in some ways, he reassures me and in others he forces me to expand my thinking. Nevertheless, I would be mistaken if I believed that studying Lewis was a subsitute for studying the Bible. This is something I struggle with. I also try to avoid starting too many sentences with, "C.S. Lewis said . . ."
Again, while you'd be well advised to read the great Christian philosophers and theologians, don't think they are a subsitute for scripture.
Recently I had a post about a passage in Joshua that appears to be an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament prior to the Incarnation. I was doing some reading this morning on another passage that some people also believe to be a pre-Incarnation appearance.
Genesis 32:24-32 - NAS Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." He said, "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.
I personally find the evidence that the wrestler might be Christ much less striking then the passage in Joshua referring to the Commander. Nevertheless, I can see why some people might think so. Jacob certainly seems to believe he was wrestling with God. (As in the passage in Joshua, for this to be Christ presupposes that Yahweh in bodily form is always the Son rather than the Father. This is a reasonable supposition, but not a provable one.)
I was really struck by some of the commentary I've found on this passage in reference to angels. I've got to admit that the study of angels has never been one that's been terribly interesting to me. Consequently, I've not spent much time on it. (There's also the fact that most of the scriptural references to angels are so vague that they seem unlikely to provide much useful information.) Perhaps my lack of interest in the study of angels explains why some of the commentary I found surpirsed me. Consider this passage from the Matthew Henry commentary:
Some think this was a created angel, the angel of his presence (Isaiah 63:9), one of those that always behold the face of our Father and attend on the shechinah, or the divine Majesty, which probably Jacob had also in view. Others think it was Michael our prince, the eternal Word, the angel of the covenant, who is indeed the Lord of the angels, who often appeared in a human shape before he assumed the human nature for a perpetuity; whichsoever it was, we are sure God's name was in him, Exodus 23:21.*
The new idea here for me is that some commentators appear to believe that Michael is just another name for the preincarnate Christ. I must confess that this is an entirely new idea for me. I've never seen anything in scripture that would have pointed me to this conclusion. I have just gone back through all the references I can find to Michael, and I can see some passages that would leave room for this interpretation. On the other hand, some passages just don't seem to fit this framework. For instance, there is Daniel 10:13 which refers to Michael as, "one of the chief princes." If Michael is Christ, and Michael is only one of several "chief princes", how can this be squared with the doctrine of the Trinity? (If there are others like Christ of which he is only 1, wouldn't there have to be more than 3 members of the God-head? Father, Spirit, and lots of Sons? This would be truly mind-boggling.) For that matter, how can it be squared with passages like Colossians 1 where Paul forcefully makes the point that Christ is all-suficient. (If there are others like Him, how could he be all-suficient.)
I also have trouble squaring this idea with Jude's Epistle. Having just made reference to Christ, in verse 9 he talks about Michael without so much as a hint that they might be the same. It also seems to me that the actions he ascribes to Michael would be a little strange coming from Christ. (I also note that when I read Matthew Henry's commentary on Jude he explains Michael's behavior as a choice made in order to avoid offending God. If Christ and Michael are the same, I am at a complete loss to understand this explanation.)
Having explored this topic in every way I can think of offhand, I conclude that while the idea of Michael and Christ being the same is interesting, I find no evidence to support it and I can't reconcile it with what I find in other passages. Unless I find something else on this subject, it appears to me that Michael is not just a preincarnate name for Christ. Instead, Michael appears to be a separate being. Powerful yes, but not the preincarnate Word.
*=John Gill seems to approach this issue from a similar position as Henry when he refers to Michael as a "divine Person."
Thursday, May 16, 2002
John Hawkins compares the idea that Bush had enough info to stop 9/11 to trying to predict Hitler by reading Nostradamus.
Josh Chafetz is back from vacation with a vengeance. He's got some things to say about political orthodoxy and "being black."
I know he's right that we're seeing more and more black politicians (and regular citizens) willing to think for themselves. Unfortunately, I don't see any chinks in the campaign to paint them as "un-black" developing. I know it will happen eventually. (At least I hope that to be the case.)
Thomas Sowell says pipebomb boy isn't crazy, he's just been spending time in the American education system.
Wednesday, May 15, 2002
I'd pick apart this article, but just reading it made me sick. I'll just have to defer this one to Amy Wellborn.
(Link to this story came from The Midwest Conservative Journal. Bye the way, the Journal's changed the blog portion of the page to a white background which is much more readable.)
David Heddle has a post about amusing passages in the Bible. That got me thinking, but instead I started thinking about the most interesting passages. One of the most intriguing ideas to me are those Old Testament passages which seem to indicate appearances of Christ BEFORE the time we commonly call the Incarnation. I am aware of four instances that at least some people have argued might be Old Testament appearances of Christ. Here is one of them.
Joshua 5:13-15 WEB It happened, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went to him, and said to him, Are you for us, or for our adversaries? He said, No; but [as] prince of the host of Yahweh am I now come. Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said to him, What says my lord to his servant? The prince of Yahweh's host said to Joshua, Put off your shoe from off your foot; for the place whereon you stand is holy. Joshua did so.
There are several arguments that favor this man being Christ. The first is that he identifies himself as the commander of the host (more commonly translated army) of Yahweh. Who but Yahweh Himself can command Yahweh's army? And this Commander was apparently on earth in the flesh. Since it appears that Christ is, by definition, God in the flesh, and this Commander was apparently God in the flesh, then it would follow that the Commander was Christ.
Additionally, as you go into Chapter 6 the text now shows Joshua to be speaking to Yahweh directly. (It is possible that Joshua was talking to both God and an angel, but I see nothing in the text to indicate this.) Further, Joshua is instructed to remove his shoes because he is on holy ground. I am aware of only one other time that this happened in the Old Testament. This was the instance of Moses and the burning bush. In that passage, again, God is speaking directly to Moses. However, it was apparently an angel that was causing the bush to burn.
Perhaps most telling is that Joshua fell to the ground and worshipped the Commander. It is of course, not appropriate (to put it mildly) to worship an angel. If the commander was a mere angel (even Michael), I would expect him to spurn worship, as John's guide did. The fact that the Commander accepted worship heavily implies Deity. As I mentioned above, in this context, Deity appears to mean Christ.
Could I be wrong? Sure. Does it matter to anyone's salvation whether I'm correct or not? Not as far as I can tell. Is it interesting? You bet.