Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vote for Me

I am wondering if I can get some Michigan delegates to vote for me at the Democratic National Convention. From what I can tell, you apparently don't have to be on the ballot.

For those who don't follow Michigan Democratic politics, Obama and several others decided not to be on the Michigan primary ballot since Michigan was holding their primary too early. The DNC threatened Michigan that their delegates would not be seated if they held the early primary. Now there is a debate about what to do with the delegates.

Most of Michigan Democrats voted for Clinton, and none of whom voted for Obama because he wasn't on the ticket. But now, apparently Obama wants some of the delegates that he decided not to campaign for, but he only wants some of them. He does not think that all the delegates should be seated.

If you remember 2000 (and 2004), the Dems were crying loudly that every vote should be counted. Apparently they have changed their minds. Or perhaps they think the votes should be counted, they simply should not count in the election. I am sure Clinton will be gratified to know how many delegates she is not getting.

Of course many think the votes should be counted as half-votes (which rings a bell about the original wording of the constitution ... but even that considered certain people 2/3 of a person, rather than only 1/2).

So, since it doesn't matter if you are on the ballot, and since it apparently doesn't matter who actually received the most votes, why not me?

Of course, on the other hand, Michigan Democrats knew the rules, and were told that their votes would not count if they held an early primary. Perhaps they should just live with none of their delegates being seated ...

Which would have the same outcome as voting for me ... or Hillary.

Harmonizing Metaphors?

I was recently listening to a very well-known and respected pastor preaching on the foundation of the church, harmonizing Matthew 16:18, 1 Corinthians 3:11, and Ephesians 2:20. He argued that in all three cases, Jesus was the foundation of the church.

One of the passages clearly states it (1 Cor 3:11), one could be legitimately interpreted that way (Matthew 16:18, though I would be inclined against that view), and one seems a stretch (Ephesians 2:20, since there is a mention both a foundation of the apostles and prophets and a cornerstone which is Jesus, probably both appositional ... It seems unlikely that Jesus is both the foundation and the cornerstone in the context).

I wonder if we should not let metaphors stand on their own in their context without trying to line them up and harmonize them?

Sometimes a metaphor is used because it works in that passage, not because it works in another. And while metaphors may have similarity or identity in different context, they may not.

They are not doctrine or history that needs to be reconciled to examine a truth claim. They are a picture that helps to visually conceptualize an idea.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Am I In God's Place?

Joseph, being implored by his brothers for forgiveness after their father died, responds with a simple question: "Am I in God's place?" (Genesis 50:19)

John Walton, in the NIVAC, has a good reminder:

“It is one thing to recognize the sovereignty of God. It is another thing to keep oneself and one’s role in proper perspective … Joseph not only has a firm picture of who God is, but he has the equally important understanding of what he himself is not” (p. 722).

It is always wise to remember that the score is not ours to settle. We are not in God's place.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Words that Make Me Laugh

Prehistory — Because it sounds redundant.

(Yes, I know what it means and how it is used ... It just makes me laugh.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Prospering Intellectual Culture?

My friend Chris Anderson cites this article from about "Cracking Evangelical Stereotypes." Using both "crack" and "evangelical" in the title screams for comment, but I shall refrain.

Note this from the end of the article:

He cites this Evangelicals in the academy too often aren't open to truly engaging those who disagree, said Wolfe, who points to things like "faith statements" at evangelical colleges, which require professors to proclaim Christian belief. A prospering intellectual culture wouldn't make that requirement and shut other views out, he said.

My first thought was to wonder about the "prospering intellectual culture" of universities that "shut out" views of biblical creationism and intelligent design.

Somehow, I doubt that Wolfe intended that type of comparison.

But why? Is it because he has defined "intellectual culture" in such a way that rules out opposing viewpoints that are not liked?

It seems in our day that it is acceptable for some people to shut out some views, but not for other people to shut other views.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Convenient Argumentation?

I was reading recently in Robert Reymond's A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (1st edition). I found what is, to me at least, an interesting method of argumentation (which is not unique to Reymond by any means).

Regarding the already/not yet view of the kingdom, Reymond says, "The Reformed view is that Jesus was declaring that the kingdom of God had indeed come but had come first in grace (the 'already') before it came in power (the 'not yet'), a distinction not clearly seen by the Old Testament prophets" (p. 995).

Here, Reymond is admitting that those who were inspired by God could not see distinctions between what is represented as a single event (the coming of the kingdom).

Then later, concerning the Rapture, Reymond says, "When one takes Paul's description of the rapture within its total biblical context seriously*, it is anything but 'secret' or 'separate' from Christ's coming in power and glory."

Here, Reymond is asserting that because something appears to be single (the coming of our Lord), it cannot be understood as two separate events.

Notice this problem: He argues that something that appears as a single event can be understood as two parts, or two separate events (the kingdom), and then argues that something that appears as a single event cannot be seen as two parts (the Rapture/Second Coming).  Can he really have it both ways? I tend to think not.

So which argument is valid? My answer is that the first one is valid. In prophetic foreshortening, or telescoping, events that are separated can be viewed as close together, such as when one looks mountains and sees them as very close when in fact they are separated by a great distance.

So to deny that the Rapture is pretribulational because the text of Scripture appears to be referring to one event is first, invalidated by his previous method of argumentation, and second, invalidated by the pattern of Scripture.

The Rapture may not be pretribulational (though I am convinced that it is). But Reymond's method of argumentation does not, to me, offer any contribution toward refuting a pretribulational rapture.


*I find it interesting that Reymond's method of argumentation includes accusing those who disagree with him of not taking the text seriously. Personally, while there are some interpretations of Scripture (including in Reymond) that stretch my imagination to conclude that he is taking the text seriously, I am not convinced that charge adds any exegetical or theology weight to the argument. Perhaps we should avoid it, particularly among those who largely agree on the gospel because we do take the text seriously.

Monday, May 19, 2008

From Piper and MacArthur

I was listening to a couple of things this weekend that kind of worked themselves together in my mind.

The first is from John Piper at the recent Wheaton Symposium with Mark Noll and Nathan Hatch on the hollowing out of confidence in the Bible:

Many pastors seem to be animated not by what they see in the Bible, but by what they see somewhere else and then they hook it in the Bible.

The second is from John MacArthur from his message and the follow-up panel discussion at T4G in 2006 on forty years of ministry. I don't have a quote, but the essence of it was about preaching the word faithfully, with the emphasis there on "the word," rather than the culture around us.

I wonder if too many Christians, even well-meaning, are motivated and driven by what we see around us in the world rather than by what we see in the Word.

Perhaps the motivation for ministry should not be the broken and hurting lives around us in a fallen world, but rather the glory of God as seen in the Scriptures.

Before you accuse me of a false dichotomy (unless you already have), I understand that it has to be both. But I fear in this "missional" world, too many start with the culture and work backwards to Scripture.

Side note: The symposium was fair; the questions at the end were terrible.

Petrine Authorship Finally Solved

Seriously ... I saw it on the internet ... It has to be accurate:

Louis Barbieri is chair and professor of the Department of Theology at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He has served as a pastor and as Dean of Students for Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author of I & II Peter and has contributed to many other publications. Dr. Barbieri and his wife, Carol, reside in the Chicago area.

The thing is, the guy doesn't look that old.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Hell

One blogger says this:

I admit, and this is probably my failing, but I have never worried much about hell - the concept is too distant and too abstract - “fire insurance” was never a convincing motivation for Christian faith. I would rather worry more about how we should live and less about heaven or hell.

It seems to me that Christ used hell as a motivation for salvation, and for right living. So why shouldn't we?

He goes on to say,

And… what about those who have never heard? Shouldn’t judgment be just?

Well of course it should be and will be just. And those who have "never heard" are "without excuse" according to Scripture.

This reminds me that some people, through a faulty understanding of Scripture and through a faulty understanding of life, are still attempting to be more Christian than Christ.

It also reminds that many emergents, for all their talk about reading the Bible through ancient eyes, don't do it. They read it from their modern perspective.

Friday, May 02, 2008

On Israel and Promise

Reading Elliot Johnson's Expository Hermeneutics reminded me of of an old truth (as if there is any other kind) by means of a particularly clear statement.

In [Paul's] later affirmation "not all who are descended from Israel are Israel (Rom. 9:6), Paul emphasizes that "physical is not sufficient"—which is quite different from saying "physical is not necessary or essential" (p. 48).

Too many people are saying the latter. We should be affirming the former.