Tuesday, June 27, 2006

An Open Invitation--to the Beach

This Saturday a bunch of us from HSBC all have the day off due to the end of the month schedule. The weather looks like it's supposed to be pretty nice...hot and sunny. With that in mind, Dawn and I were thinking about going to the beach and spending the late morning-early afternoon up there. I've been mentioning to friends as we pass in the hallways, but I know I won't see everyone and not everyone works there. Therefore, if I haven't caught up with you yet and you're in the Hampton Roads area this weekend, come and join us! We're going to be up at Virginia Beach of necessity. Noah's so regularly on Dawn's bladder that we can't go to Sandbridge. VA Beach is the only one with enough outhouses to accomodate her frequent trips :-) We always hang out at 34th street...it's far enough from the crowds at the pier that there's room to spread out. There's free parking on 33-37th streets two blocks back from the beach if you park on the side of the road. We'll probably be there by 10:30 am at the latest. I've already had a few couples say they will probably make it and I'll be bringing a frisbee, soccer ball and football. If you can make it, please join us!

Monday, June 26, 2006

On Breaking Fellowship with Believers

Though such a title may sound strange coming from my lips (or fingertips, as is the case), there's an interesting post by Mark Roberts on that very topic here. If you're not aware of the controversy currently rocking the PCUSA, you may want to read some of the other articles in this series. Roberts writes from an interesting standpoint having received all of his formal philosophical and theological training from Harvard, having taught at Fuller and pastored in the PCUSA for a number of years.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Why Mark Driscoll Bothers You (or Not)

This is an excellent post that gets me excited about body life and pastoral ministry. If you don't know much about Mark Driscoll, "Why Mark Driscoll Bothers You (or Not)" is a great intro. Even if you are familiar with him, it's a great read from the iMonk. I was convicted by how shallow my life and ministry seemed after reading it (which is probably a shallow observation at that).

Da' Belly - Take Two

It's been a while since I've given an update on Dawn and Noah, so here it is...

Gettin' pretty big huh (Noah, that is:-)? Since so many were impressed with my wife's gutsy willingness to let me post the last picture of her belly, I decided to see if I could talk her into another update. Here it is, with her permission of course, though the idea was definately mine and not hers. As her belly continues to grow, his kicks, cartwheels and sommeraults continue to get more powerful. Sooner or latter, he should get stuck in place for lack of room, but he's not there yet. His current hobbies include, keeping Dawn up all night, refusing to kick when people are watching and frequently employing Dawn's bladder as a trampoline. It's hard to believe that, Lord willing, it's just a little over a month until he'll be born. In some ways, it seems like we're not ready, while in other ways, we can hardly wait. For those interested I'll be live blogging the birth. Ooops...Dawn just read that over my shoulder, I guess I won't be live blogging the birth. Too bad, I know. I also thought I'd include a self portrait of the three of us (thanks to the timer on my dig. camera) below. As you can see, being out of school and working only 40 hours a week has been good for my tan, though Dawn's not too far behind, especially considering how light her complexion is. Since I'm not framing this summer, it's the first summer in 5 that I've had feet that were as brown as my legs.

Finally, for those of you who could care less about bellys and babies (in other words any guys reading this) I figured you could find consolation in the backdrop. The first picture above is the better of the two, for in it you'll find three of my most precioius worldy possesions 1) My wife 2) My son and 3) Most of the NT section of my library. And yes, that IS the order of importance.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Now Bruno's Vindicated Too! Sort of...

Following the observation about AT, Jack Bauer and Typology, Chris Bruno posted a link at CRBlog to Mark Goodacre's site regarding typology in the new Superman movie (with which Bruno indicated he could more readily identify). Now most people would probably consider Goodacre more of a sholar than Driscoll, and thus one could argue that Bruno has already been vindicated (or was never of it since he was just posting a link to someone else's site). However, I couldn't help but continue the goofiness a little longer. Anyway, for those interested in typology in Superman, there's an interesting article in this weeks edition of Time here.

* Post script - When I was establishing the link to Goodacre's site, I noticed he too commends the article and posts some quotes from it. Now even Mihelis is vindicated...sort of.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Identity vs. Reputation

Here's a great quote from Scot McKnight's book Jesus Creed (not to be confused with his blog by the same name which I have referenced recently):

"Sometimes the implications of listening to the voice of God is that we ruin our reputation in the public square. Loving God, as the Jesus Creed teaches, involves surrendering ourselves to God in heart, soul, mind, strength--and reputation. The minute we turn exclusively to the Lord to find our true identity is the day reputation dies."
- Jesus Creed, p. 79.

What's the distinction he's making between identity and reputation you ask (or may have already figured out)?

"Our reputation (what others think of us) is not as important as our identity (who we really are). Spiritual formation begins when we untangle reputation and identity, and when what God thinks of us is more important than what we think of ourselves, or what others think of us."
Jesus Creed, p. 76.

Now that's a quotable quote; it's also something the Lord has been (and still is) dealing with me on a number of levels in recent days.

Some Helpful Advice

Since several who read this blog are in the same scenario as I am, you may be interested in reading: Applying for Doctoral Work When You're From a Small School. The author is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh and originally from (you guessed it) a small school. Nothing earth shattering, but there are definately some good thoughts here.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Who ya' gonna call? You might be surprised.

I hesitate to post on this only because by putting it in a public domain, it increases the odds of my coming across it more often. However, the humor and irony of it all demand that I share it. I called someone at work today who had a history of hang ups noted. The person who answered was actually quite pleasant and though he informed me the individual I was calling for was not available, if I could hold a minute, his wife would get me an alternate number where I could reach the person I was looking for. After a few minutes of waiting, he asked me how I was doing today. I told him I was fine and asked how he was. "Fine" he responded. Right about then, the lady of the house came on the other line and said she had the number. "248-262-6861," I was pleasantly informed. "That's not a cell phone is it?" I queried, not wanting to call a cell without the owner's permission. "Not as far as I know" she responded. I thanked them and hung up.

Now, if your begining to wonder what in the world I'm doing publically offering private information, like someone's phone #, you've been had, just like I was. Though the number I listed above is the number I was given, it is by no means a private listing for someone's residence (I'd NEVER put that type of stuff in a public forum). No, the number listed above, I discovered both to my dismay and delight, is the number for the rejection hotline. Don't believe me? Give it a call. If it says all circuits are busy, be patient and try again until you get through. Trust me, it's worth it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Transformation of Renewed Humanity: Holiness

Remember, posts on a blog appear in reverse order; if you read this, I suggest going back and beginning with "God's Renewed Humanity - WSPRS." It will probably make more sense. On to the quotes of the day:

"Paganism is a self-destructive mode of being human; Paul offers, instead, the fulfilment of the Jewish vision of humanity, a humanity characterized by wisdom and holiness."

- WSPRS, p. 143.

On the Galatians' struggle with embracing Torah:

"They have seen their former pagan idolatry and immorality for what they are, and are determined to go instead for the way of true humanity, of holiness and worship. The 'agitators' (those who infiltrated the Galatian community after Paul had left) have told them that they can achieve this end by embracing Torah. Not so, says Paul: if you do that you will simply be emphasizing that which binds you to the old humanity, to the flesh...as a result, you will again be in the self-destructive mode of human existence. If you want the genuine article, you must walk by the Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy and peace."

- WSPRS, p. 144.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Goal of Renewed Humanity: Resurrection

Yet another great quote, this time a bit shorter:

"If the road to true humanity is true worship, the end and goal of God's renewed humanity is of course resurrection...the basic point I wish to make can be stated as follows. When Paul is expounding the resurrection hope of God's people in Christ he is again offering a reality of which (in his view) paganisim is the parody; and again, announcing the reality to which Judaism had pointed."

I love the description of paganism as the "parody" of the reality discovered in Jesus!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Reading List on the Emerging Church

Since the Emerging Church has come up in discussion lately, when I came across this post, I thought I'd pass it along. The post is entitled The 50 Books on My Emerging Church Bookshelf and includes a section introduced with "Here are the Top Ten Books that I consider essential reading on the emerging church." TSK (Andrew) is a leader in the UK emerging church movement and thus an interesting authority for an "essential reading list".

The Centre of Renewed Humanity: Worship

The whole point of the long paragraph which begins in Romans 1:18 is that Gentiles are idolaters, and that therefore their humanity self destructs. Idolatry, Paul is saying, is seriously bad for the health of your humanity. The pagan world knows God, because in creation pagans can see his eternal power and deity; but they refuse to honour him as God or worship him, and turn instead to worship images of birds, animals and reptiles. As a result (since humans become like what they worship; this is a basic spiritual law), they cease to exhibit true and full humanity, reflecting the image of God. They exhibit, instead, all the signs of a humanity that is coming apart at the seams:

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless (Romans 1:29-31 NIV)."

Tom Wright, WSPRS, p.138.

"What then is the solution? God as called into being a new community...there is, then, a people that worships God in truth. This people is the true humanity, the people that Israel was supposed to be but had failed to be. Paul will zealously announce this one true God, and summon people to worship him, knowing that in so doing he is confronting pagan idolatry on the one hand and fulfilling the destiny of Israel on the other."
- Ibid, 138-139

Piper calls preachers to "labor to find language that is worthy of God." I think the statements bolded above are fantastic examples of powerful language. Describing idolatry in terms of a self destructive lifestyle and humanity coming apart at the seams both connects with contemporary cultural expressions and accurately describes what's going on in Romans 1.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Interesting Stuff Online

Some interesting reads if you have a few minutes:

Scot McKnight on the perpetual virginity of Mary - I think you might be surprised at some of the theologians who held this view.

From the Thoughts and Adventures Blog - Mohler and Patterson on Election (hint: they're not on the same side).

Not to mention a crazy collage of headlines on CNN's home page:

Wow...what a combination!

God's Renewed Humanity - WSPRS

As I've been thinking about the Gospel while reading the gospels, my mind was drawn back to Chapter 8 of What Saint Paul Really Said. The chapter is entitled God's Renewed Humanity and contains some of the best reflections on anthropology I've ever read (I just reread it yesterday in between calls at work - nothing better than getting paid well to read good stuff :-). Since this section is so good, I thought I'd take a few posts and list the main points followed by a choice quote or two that is representative of the section. The major divisions are as follows:

1) The Centre of Renewed Humanity: Worship (incidentally Logan, that's not a typo, it's British spelling :)

2) The Goal of Renewed Humanity: Resurrection

3) The Transformation of Renewed Humanity: Holiness

4) The Coherence of Renewed Humanity: Love

5) The Zeal of Renewed Humanity: Mission

BTW: for those who might not be big Wright fans, WSPRS stands for What Saint Paul Really Said. For some reason, his fans (and some foes) have taken to abbreviating all of his books that way (and being a fan, I have followed suite). Thus, NTPG stands for The New Testament and the People of God, JVT = Jesus and the Victory of God TRSG (I think it is) = The Resurrection of the Son of God. I know I was confused by some of the abbreviations at first (I confused TRSG with TSKS from Wallace, but that's another story), so I thought this might be helpful.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Adam Thomas is Vindicated!!! Sort of...

Adam Thomas, friend, fellow framer, former fundamentalist (okay, the "f"s were just rolling off my fingertips) of Thomas Colloquiums fame had been berated and mocked repeatedly by Tim Baylor (Luther's Stein) regarding his (AT's) addiction to and alleged typology of Jack Bauer and 24. However, AT has recently been vindicated by a similar observation from Mark Driscoll (a significant leader in the Emerging Church Movement, for those who aren't familiar with him). For the details, see Is Jack Bauer a Type of Christ?

Incidently, my favorite quote from the post is:

"24 is easily the best show on television despite the many reasons it conceivably should not be."

He's right!

McKnight on "Works of the Law"

Scot McKnight has been blogging on Romans, while working through Tom Wright's commentary over at Jesus Creed. He recently posted on the ongoing discussion regarding the phrase works of the law that I'm linking to here. It's an excellent intro/overview to the difference between the traditional reformed view and the NPP view. While there may be room for a via media, his post is a a very helpful introduction for the uninitiated while the comment section will prove fantastic grist for those already familiar with the conversation.

Reading the Gospels

As I've alluded to in some of my recent posts, most of my time in the Scriptures lately has been spent in the Gospels. To be frank and to my shame, this is an area I used to shy away from for several reasons: 1) The epistles more readily lined up with the perception of Christianity and Evangelism that I had grown up with. 2) I perceived there was a greater hermeneutical gap to the Gospels than there was to the epistles. 3) Narrative can't be anywhere near as theological as prose or epistolary literature, right? Whatever! (though I really did secretly harbor this presupposition) 4) I was intimidated by the potential "problems" that I would encounter in Gospels studies if I probed too far beneath the "devotional level" (read: superficial level). Things like the synoptic problem, arguments for and against historical reliability, issues pertaining to historical Jesus studies, etc. all intimidated me because I was not very well accquainted with them and deep down inside somewhere, I think I was afraid they might rock my world (O me of little faith) if I faced the questions head on (though I probably never would have admitted this).

My interest was recently renewed and I knew I had been depriving myself of some serious mediation on the life and ministry of Jesus, so I decided to begin my own (informal) "quest", if you will. In the providence of God, He brought some reliable guides across my path in the form of recent book acquisitions. The New Testament and the People of God has been helpful in slaying the beast of intimidation regarding historical reliability and critical issues. Wright is a terrific guide here in terms of method. The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels had proven a fantastic tool to get me up to speed on many of the issues I knew by name, but never really understood what all was at stake. Finally, since my time has primarily been spent in Luke's gospel lately, Bock's two volume commentary has already been repaying fantastic dividends.

I'm greatful the Lord has brought me on this journey, as it has been a refreshing and revitalizing time meditating on the life of Jesus. In many ways, I feel as if I'm exploring a new frontier and it's exciting. I'm amazed at how much I have (in the past) been guilty of trying to force the gospel narratives into the grid of what I considered Christianity to be about, rather than letting my understanding of Christianity be shaped by the gospels; I certainly have a good deal of theological baggage. The epistles (where I used to hide out) are invaluable for shaping the Christian worldview; however, the terms of discipleship are never clearer than in Jesus' own call to the task. At the risk of an extremely overused cliche, I think I HAVE been guilty of putting Jesus in a box... or even FORCING Jesus into a box. There's more to be said, and I'll probably follow with some specific ways my thoughts are being remolded in the near future. However, if anyone out there has neglected the Gospels for similar reasons to the ones I identified above, I encourage you to get over it and get into them.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Textual Criticism Conference? Smells like a road trip...

For anyone not regularly reading the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, you'll want to check out the post on June 02 (they don't have trackbacks to make it more specific). The focus topic will be on the ending of Mark and the speakers include Wallace, Bock and Black. The conference will be hosted at SEBTS in April '07 and there's a link to their web site here. It's amazing how much Bock resembles Steinman and Wallace resembles Mills with a mustache. Anyone up for a road trip?

Jesus In Context - heads up on a good resource

I recently accquired this volume when I ordered Bock's BECNT on Luke. When I bought it, I wasn't sure exactly what it was, but having thumbed throught it and incorporated it into my scripture reading, I thought I'd point it out for those who haven't seen it yet. If you're familiar with C.K. Barrett's New Testament Backgrounds: Selected Documents, it's similar, only more specific. After a brief overview of primary sources, the synoptic gospels are treated, followed by the fourth gospel. With each pericope covered, excerpts are offered from revelant primary sources that would inform the reading of a text historically/contextually. In the introduction, they refer to it as a "poor man's Strack and Billerbeck" (in English, obviously). I think I paid under $15, definately a great price for a valuable resource.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Wild at Heart: Some initial thoughts

It's been so long since I've posted in the blogosphere that I almost feel like I need to reintroduce myself. We continue to have internet access issues and we've decided to get a connection. I just haven't had the opportunity to see who has the best deal out there. For those in the VA Beach neighborhood, we're thinking about going with Cox's value plan. Any thoughts?

Anyway, on to more important matters...while I haven't finished the book yet, I'm almost halfway through John Eldridge's book Wild at Heart (WAH from here on). I thought I'd give a preliminary review (as per the first 100 pages).

The premise is actually quite simple to sum up: There is a question that haunts everyman - Do I really have what it takes (or Am I man enough)? The insecurity that many (he may say "all") feel that causes them to pose such a question and be fearful of the negative is a result of a "wound" (psychological - lack of affirmation) inflicted, most likely by the father. Within the heart of everyman are three desires: 1) A battle to fight 2) A beauty to rescue 3) An adventure to live. Up to this point, one might be inclined to agree to these general premises, but wonder what this has to do with theology. At least, that's where I came out. Eldridge maintains that these three desires, as well as the general state of affairs (other than the wound) are the result of the fact that man is created in the image of God. Just as God is a warrior (and thus, wild at heart, so to speak), man reflects that warrior image and craves the three things listed above. Though this is a bit simplistic, this is the gist of what he's covered to this point in the book.

While I admit, it's not terribly wise to judge a book prior to finishing it (nor to judge a book by it's cover, which as Thomas pointed out, may lead many to abandon this one), there is enough that has been said to this point to make some preliminary observations.

The Pros
Overall, I think WAH connects with many of the basic desires within the heart of most men. What man doesn't desire a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to live (Baylor excluded)? Furthermore, his portrayal of the characteristics of masculinity are refreshing in this day and age. WAH calls for men to be men and to raise their boys to be men. The quotes at the beginning of each section are also worth the price of the book alone. My personal favorite is the quote from Teddy Roosevelt right after the introduction regarding the credit going to "the man in the arena." While the book needs to be read with discernment, I have found many of it's pages to be challenging and liberating.

The Cons
Despite these pros, I would commend this book only to those with a good theological footing. While Eldridge's prose is captivating and ought to be emulated in style, some of his theological conclusions lack sufficient justification and imho amount to non sequitars (how'd I do Logan?). I offer one example from pg 8: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Gen. 1:27). Now, we know that God doesn't have a body, so the uniqueness can't be physical. Gender simply must be at the level of the soul, in the deep and everlasting places within us." Those of you who read my post a few months back regarding the image of God, understand that I find this conclusion less than satisfactory (for lack of accounting for all the data). While I don't expect everyone to agree with me here, to say "such and such simply must be such and such" without considering ANY other options is a bit too assumptive imho. Likewise, to jump from the image of God to gender being at the level of the soul, is a bit of a jump (not to mention ignoring some significant anatomical data [Uncle Victor excluded-see the road trip comments if you're confused here]).

In addition to this, I would add my concern regarding the theological position advocated in WAH. Eldridge comes across as an arminian, which does not ipso facto render it useless (despite what AT might think). It is instead, the statements regarding foreknowledge that I find disconcerting. Eldridge states "...for those who are aware of the discussion, I am not advocating open theism" (32). However, he is not so clear on what distinguishes his positon from open theism. If you didn't sense it coming from the overview above, the reason he maintains that we love taking risks is because we are made in the image of the Risk Taker. "God's relationship with us and with our world is just that: a relationship. As with every relationship, there's a certain amount of unpredictability, and the ever-present likelihood that you'll get hurt. The ultimate risk anyone ever takes is to love...but God does give it, again and again and again, until he is literally bleeding from it all. God's willingness to risk is just astounding..."(32). This statement is representative of the theology unpacked in chapter 2.

All of this is why I say it is worth the read for the theologically discerning. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, it's more often targeted at young men (jr. high and high school) without the theological ability to discern between good prose and good theology. It's an easy read and the portrait painted of masculinity is refreshing in so many ways. In fact, had the book been written sans the theology or by secular psychologist, I probably would enjoy it more. Much of what is said about masculinity rings true, I'm just not convinced that the theological connections that are intended to support it are on par. If things change as I finish the book, I'll let you know. Otherwise, I think I've "called out" enough individuals for today (Baylor, Logan, AT, Vic, and sort of Eldridge).