I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Second Person

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“That Second Voice, you know: he had me sent here; he said you had asked to see me. I owe it to you.”

“No. You owe it to the Second Voice,” said Niggle. “We both do.”

(J. R. R. Tolkien, “Leaf by Niggle,” The Tolkien Reader, 116)

 

Written by Scott Moonen

February 18, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Exceedingly valuable

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There is an alternate approach to men’s and women’s roles today, an approach articulated in the following remarks of Margaret Mead. In the course of a discussion of the relationship between biological male-female differences and social roles, Mead asks the question, Must a society fashion distinct social roles for men and women?

We have here two different questions: Are we dealing not with a must that we dare not flout because it is rooted so deep in our biological mammalian nature that to flout it means individual and social disease? Or with a must that, although not so deeply rooted, still is so very socially convenient and so well tried that it would be uneconomical to flout it—a must which says, for example, that it is easier to get children born and bred if we stylize the behavior of the sexes very differently, teaching them to walk and dress and act in contrasting ways and to specialize in different kinds of work? But there is still the third possibility. Are not sex differences exceedingly valuable, one of the resources of our human nature that every society has used but no society has as yet begun to use to the full? (Emphasis added)

(Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, 445)

Written by Scott Moonen

February 3, 2019 at 4:46 pm

Posted in Quotations

Differentiation

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Some people respond skeptically to these assertions [that all societies include some ways of expressing gender differences between men and women] because they have a vague notion that some societies have been “matriarchal”—that is, the governing authorities have been women. However, anthropologists unanimously dismiss matriarchy as a characteristic of any known society, present or past. As stated by Rosaldo, “The issues involved here are complex, but the evidence of contemporary anthropology gives scant support to an argument for matriarchy.” There are two main reasons for the persistent confusion about matriarchy. First, some primitive tribes have myths which tell of a time in their ancient past when women ruled. Anthropologists now generally regard these myths as justifications for some current aspect of the tribal life, such as male authority, and not as historically reliable tradition. Myths about Amazonian warrior women are also considered unhistorical by anthropologists. Secondly, anthropologists once used the term “matriarchy” to describe societies which are today called matrilineal or matrifocal. Matrilineal societies are those which trace lineage through the mother and not the father. Matrifocal societies are those in which the female role receives special attention and honor. Modern anthropologists no longer use the term “matriarchal” to describe these societies precisely because it implies that the women of the society actually govern the overall life of the group. In fact, men are the overall governing authorities in both matrilineal and matrifocal societies. Thus, the idea that matriarchal societies did or do exist is a popular misunderstanding, and a notion that modern anthropologists reject. (Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, 415)

Written by Scott Moonen

February 3, 2019 at 4:43 pm

Posted in History, Quotations

Baptism

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. . . of a different kind. Some friends and I have been discussing baptism in or with the Spirit: Pentecostalism vs. charismatic vs. third wave. My view is essentially third wave, as follows.

It’s an interesting academic and biblical theological question to ask what is meant by baptism in the Spirit. But the more crucial question is how we think of our relationship to the Spirit, and how we pray. Should I pray for (1) something that I don’t have; or (2) much, much more of what I do have? Depending on which prayer is “right”, the “wrong” prayer involves some kind of important confusion about either the Spirit’s absence or presence in our lives.

The doctrine of regeneration is an important part of this. It’s interesting to me how the meaning of the term has shifted from the time of the reformation to the present day. For some background and reflections, refer to the following posts:

We can say, then, that regeneration is the continual life-giving procession of the Spirit from Father and Son to us; this is part of our union with Jesus and of his promise to be with us always. From an individual perspective, baptism in the Spirit is therefore the one beginning of or entry into that stream (what we now call regeneration), and filling with the Spirit is an opening of the flood gates. The Spirit is not divided; there is no second stream of the Spirit other than this continual regeneration, no power and joy vs. sanctification (as Martyn Lloyd–Jones would have it). There may be varying sources of the stream, however: direct, through the word, through one another. So our prayer is: more, more!

The reason our experience is different from that of first–century believers is that we don’t set foot in the old covenants first. Contrary to Martyn Lloyd–Jones, there is much in Acts that is unique to the first century, including people’s receiving water baptism who had been saved for many years; going to the Jew first and then to the Gentile; and Nazirite vows.

There is also a corporate meaning of the baptism with the Spirit; the first–century formation of the church out of the ashes of Israel (a la Ezekiel’s bones; a corporate resurrection). This corporate sense points to why we no longer experience or expect tongues of flame today—that was the Spirit’s first setting fire to the altar when the new temple–body is first filled with God’s presence, as happens with every new covenant. As with all altar fires, the Spirit’s fire is now continually present in the temple of God’s church and people.

Written by Scott Moonen

February 3, 2019 at 4:33 pm

Tradition

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At the end of 1 Timothy, Timothy is exhorted to “guard what has been entrusted to you,” or perhaps, “guard what has been deposited with you.” This exhortation calls to mind the image of one person depositing a large sum of money or some other valuable item with another for safekeeping. The scriptural writers and the Christian writers who followed them saw the Christian truths and way of life as a great treasure, one that had been entrusted to their care and that was to be handed over intact to the next generation. . . . The modern mind tends to view “tradition” very differently—as something left–over, unexamined, something which probably needs to be updated or discarded. It is “just tradition.” By contrast the first Christians viewed tradition as the careful handing on of their great treasure—the life in Christ and the teachings which made that life possible. They could not be truly faithful to Christ unless they could hand on what had been handed on to them. They could not really be faithful to Christ unless they could maintain and uphold that with which they had been charged (see 1 Tm 1:18; 6:14; 2 Tm 2:2, 4:1–5). (Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, 281)

Written by Scott Moonen

January 13, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Quotations

Culture

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Trying to determine whether or not a teaching [of the Bible] is historically or culturally conditioned is not helpful in evaluating its worth, since everything human is historically and culturally conditioned. The real issue is this: Among the historically and culturally conditioned teachings we find before us, which have God’s authority behind them? Which are expressions of his ways, his character, and his purpose for the human race? When it comes to a conflict, which has more authority: a human culture, or the culture that God taught through Jesus and his apostles? The recent attempt to separate culturally determined elements from timeless truths in the area of Christian personal relationships and the roles of men and women has been just as much a failure as was the liberal attempt in the nineteenth century to identify the progressive, timeless elements of Christianity. Both attempts failed for basically the same reason. The reason is not, as is sometimes stated, that the enduring truths simply cannot be distinguished from cultural elements that are not essential to the Christian teaching. Rather, the reason is that when the scripture is allowed to speak for itself, it becomes clear that it is precisely those elements in it that many modern people would like to expunge as time–bound and culturally determined that the scriptural writers considered most central and fundamental. In consequence, modern writers who set out to disengage Christian teaching from culturally determined elements end up by canonizing the approach of their modern culture and using that as a standard by which to judge the teaching of scripture. They do this because they cannot find any standard within scripture that would allow them to accept the elements they want to accept and reject those they want to reject.

The cultural question for Christians should be very different from what it is for contemporary people who are not Christians. Contemporary Christians should be seeking to preserve the culture revealed by God while they live among people whose way of life is no longer compatible on many points, including many of the most fundamental ones, with what God has taught. This involves sorting out inherited cultural traditions so that the Christians can see more clearly what came from God’s revelation and what was accumulated from a particular culture and history. This also involves understanding what the distinctive Christian approach should be and how to wisely translate it into contemporary society so that Christians can be all things to all men—that they might by all means save some (1 Cor. 9:22). (Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, 279)

Written by Scott Moonen

January 13, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Bible, Quotations

Fulfillment

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Genesis 2:18 describes the man’s problem as being his aloneness, but it describes the solution as being “a helper fit for him.” This phrase is important for understanding the relationship of woman to man, especially in marriage. . . As Von Rad points out, the phrase is not a romantic evaluation of woman. Rather, it presents woman as “useful” to man. The use of the word “useful” here does not suggest that Genesis teaches that man should approach woman as “a thing” or “use her,” nor that he should not love her and care for her. But in an age when many writers tend to idealize deep interpersonal sharing relationships and read them back into Genesis, it is important to point out that the writers of scripture approach personal relationships with a certain practicality and common sense. A man’s wife is supposed to “do something” for him, just as he is supposed to “do something” for her. If she does not do what she is supposed to do for him, (and if he does not do what he is supposed to do for her) deep interpersonal sharing will not make the marriage a good marriage. Genesis describes her part in the marriage as being a helper to the man in the work of establishing a household and family. (Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, 22)

Written by Scott Moonen

December 30, 2018 at 9:16 am

Posted in Marriage, Quotations