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Jesu, Juva

Archive for April 2020

Klaas Schilder

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Schilder’s response was not to plead submission in the name of Romans 13. Other churches, like the Netherlands Reformed congregations, reluctantly did. Schilder constantly opposed the Nazis, one of his final articles having the headline, “Leave your hiding-place. Don your uniform.” Schilder appealed to international law to oppose them, and he used his pen constantly, especially from May to August 1940 to point out the anti-Christian ideology of national socialism. The magazine had earlier been put on the black list in Germany and censored, but in Holland it was sold at station kiosks. The last straw was when he wrote in that “Don your uniform” article in August 1940 these words, “Authority and power, fortunately, remain two different things. Eventually the antichrist shall keep the latter and the church the former. And after that, the day of the great harvest comes. Come, Lord of the harvest, yes come quickly, come over the English Channel and over the Brenner Pass, come via Malta and Japan, yes, come from the ends of the earth, and bring along your pruning-knife, and be merciful to your people; it is well authorised, but only through you, through you alone, at your eternal good pleasure.”

Geoff Thomas, Banner of Truth, January 1999

Written by Scott Moonen

April 27, 2020 at 8:36 am

Posted in History, Miscellany

Van Til

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Kees [Cornelius] loved the soil. That was a characteristic he never lost. Even in older years he enjoyed that. He always loved to visit farming country and to see what was being done in the production of crops. At his home at 16 Rich Avenue in Flourtown, he always had a large garden from which they ate all summer and canned much of what that garden produced. . . .

My Mother was very concerned about having such a great man be with us for several weeks. What would he be like and what would his demands be? That question was answered the first morning after breakfast when Oome [Uncle] Kees got up from the table and picked up the dishes, walked into the kitchen, put on my Mother’s apron and began doing the dishes. This we later learned was a task he joyfully did in his own home, chattering as he worked. My Mother knew then, Oome Kees was a very down to earth person and would fit into the family well. . . .

As mentioned above, Oome Kees loved the farm. When he was at our house, at least every week he would go with my grandfather to see what the sons and son-in-laws were doing each of the farms. My grandfather probably never had more than a sixth grade education but he was well read and would discuss with Oome Kees those developments which were taking place in the Netherlands and the development in the thinking of G. C. Berkouwer. Grandpa was aware of the thesis of Dr. Alexander de Jong and wanted to discuss it with Oome Kees. These discussions were a regular occurrence between these two as they did “roadside farming.”

Robert den Dulk, Banner of Truth, March 2001

Written by Scott Moonen

April 27, 2020 at 8:29 am

Posted in Miscellany

Inevitable

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I hope no one will think that I am recommending a return to the Medieval Model. I am only suggesting considerations that may induce us to regard all Models in the right way, respecting each and idolising none. We are all, very properly, familiar with the idea that in every age the human mind is deeply influenced by the accepted Model of the universe. But there is a two-way traffic; the Model is also influenced by the prevailing temper of mind. We must recognize that what has been called ‘a taste in universes’ is not only pardonable but inevitable. We can no longer dismiss the change of Models as a simple progress from error to truth. No Model is a catalogue of ultimate realities, and none is a mere fantasy. Each is a serious attempt to get in all the phenomena known at a given period, and each succeeds in getting in a great many. But also, no less surely, each reflects the prevalent psychology of an age almost as much as it reflects the state of that age’s knowledge. Hardly any battery of new facts could have persuaded a Greek that the universe had an attribute so repugnant to him as infinity; hardly any such battery could persuade a modern that it is hierarchical.

It is not impossible that our own Model will die a violent death, ruthlessly smashed by an unprovoked assault of new facts—unprovoked as the nova of 1572. But I think it is more likely to change when, and because, far-reaching changes in the mental temper of our descendants demand that it should. The new Model will not be set up without evidence, but the evidence will turn up when the inner need for it becomes sufficiently great. It will be true evidence. But nature gives most of her evidence in answer to the questions we ask her. Here, as in the courts, the character of the evidence depends on the shape of the examination, and a good cross-examiner can do wonders. He will not indeed elicit falsehoods from an honest witness. But, in relation to the total truth in the witness’s mind, the structure of the examination is like a stencil. It determines how much of that total truth will appear and what pattern it will suggest.

C. S. Lewis, The Discarded Image, 222-223

See also: Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Written by Scott Moonen

April 26, 2020 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Meta, Quotations

Regulations

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The question at once arises whether medieval thinkers really believed that what we now call inanimate objects were sentient and purposive. The answer in general is undoubtedly no. I say ‘in general’, because they attributed life and even intelligence to one privileged class of objects (the stars) which we hold to be inorganic. . . .

If we could ask the medieval scientist ‘Why, then, do you talk as if they did,’ he might (for he was always a dialectician) retort with the counter-question, ‘But do you intend your language about laws and obedience any more literally than I intend mine about kindly enclyning? Do you really believe that a falling stone is aware of a directive issued to it by some legislator and feels either a moral or a prudential obligation to conform? We should then have to admit that both ways of expressing the facts are metaphorical. The odd thing is that ours is the more anthropomorphic of the two. To talk as if inanimate bodies had a homing instinct is to bring them no nearer to us than the pigeons; to talk as if they could ‘obey laws’ is to treat them like men and even like citizens.

But though neither statement can be taken literally, it does not follow that it makes no difference which is used. On the imaginative and emotional level it makes a great difference whether, with the medievals, we project upon the universe our strivings and desires, or with the moderns, our police-system and our traffic regulations.

C. S. Lewis, The Discarded Image, 93-94

Written by Scott Moonen

April 26, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Quotations

Manifold

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‘What’s all this?’ said Frodo, feeling inclined to laugh.

‘This is what it is, Mr. Baggins,’ said the leader of the Shirriffs, a two-feather hobbit: ‘You’re arrested for Gate-breaking, and Tearing up of Rules, and Assaulting Gate-keepers, and Trespassing, and Sleeping in Shire-buildings without Leave, and Bribing Guards with Food.’

‘And what else?’ said Frodo.

‘That’ll do to go on with,’ said the Shirriff-leader.

‘I can add some more, if you’d like it,’ said Sam. ‘Calling your Chief Names, Wishing to punch his Pimply Face, and Thinking you Shirriffs look a lot of Tom-fools.’

‘There now, Mister, that’ll do. It’s the Chief’s orders that you’re to come along quiet. We’re going to take you to Bywater and hand you over to the Chief’s Men; and when he deals with your case you can have your say. But if you don’t want to stay in the Lockholes any longer than you need, I should cut the say short, if I was you.’

To the discomfiture of the Shirriffs Frodo and his companions all roared with laughter. ‘Don’t be absurd!’ said Frodo. ‘I am going where I please, and in my own time. I happen to be going to Bag End on business, but if you insist on going too, well that is your affair.’

‘Very well, Mr. Baggins,’ said the leader, pushing the barrier aside. ‘But don’t forget I’ve arrested you.’

‘I won’t,’ said Frodo. ‘Never. But I may forgive you. Now I am not going any further today, so if you’ll kindly escort me to The Floating Log, I’ll be obliged.’

‘I can’t do that, Mr. Baggins. The inn’s closed. There’s a Shirriff-house at the far end of the village. I’ll take you there.’

‘All right,’ said Frodo. ‘Go on and we’ll follow.’

Sam had been looking the Shirriffs up and down and had spotted one that he knew. ‘Hey, come here Robin Smallburrow!’ he called. ‘I want a word with you.’

With a sheepish glance at his leader, who looked wrathful but did not dare to interfere, Shirriff Smallburrow fell back and walked beside Sam, who got down off his pony.

‘Look here, Cock-robin!’ said Sam. ‘You’re Hobbiton-bred and ought to have more sense, coming a-waylaying Mr. Frodo and all. And what’s all this about the inn being closed?’

‘They’re all closed,’ said Robin. ‘The Chief doesn’t hold with beer. Leastaways that is how it started. But now I reckon it’s his Men that has it all. And he doesn’t hold with folk moving about; so if they will or they must, then they has to go to the Shirriff-house and explain their business.’

‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself having anything to do with such nonsense,’ said Sam. ‘You used to like the inside of an inn better than the outside yourself. You were always popping in, on duty or off.’

‘And so I would be still, Sam, if I could. But don’t be hard on me. What can I do? You know how I went for a Shirriff seven years ago, before any of this began. Gave me a chance of walking round the country and seeing folk, and hearing the news, and knowing where the good beer was. But now it’s different.’

‘But you can give it up, stop Shirriffing, if it has stopped being a respectable job,’ said Sam.

‘We’re not allowed to,’ said Robin.

‘If I hear not allowed much oftener,’ said Sam, ‘I’m going to get angry.’

‘Can’t say as I’d be sorry to see it,’ said Robin lowering his voice. ‘If we all got angry together something might be done. But it’s these Men, Sam, the Chief’s Men. He sends them round everywhere, and if any of us small folk stand up for our rights, they drag him off to the Lockholes. They took old Flourdumpling, old Will Whitfoot the Mayor, first, and they’ve taken a lot more. Lately it’s been getting worse. Often they beat ’em now.’

‘Then why do you do their work for them?’ said Sam angrily. ‘Who sent you to Frogmorton?’

‘No one did. We stay here in the big Shirriff-house. We’re the First Eastfarthing Troop now. There’s hundreds of Shirriffs all told, and they want more, with all these new rules. Most of them are in it against their will, but not all. Even in the Shire there are some as like minding other folk’s business and talking big. And there’s worse than that: there’s a few as do spy-work for the Chief and his Men.’

‘Ah! So that’s how you had news of us, is it?’

‘That’s right. We aren’t allowed to send by it now, but they use the old Quick Post service, and keep special runners at different points. One came in from Whitfurrows last night with a “secret message”, and another took it on from here. And a message came back this afternoon saying you was to be arrested and taken to Bywater, not direct to the Lockholes. The Chief wants to see you at once, evidently.’

‘He won’t be so eager when Mr. Frodo has finished with him,’ said Sam.

Tolkien, “The Scouring of the Shire,” The Return of the King

Written by Scott Moonen

April 18, 2020 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Quotations

Various

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It is interesting to follow some Chinese flu naysayers and to see the diversity of opinions. The numbers naysayers are particularly interesting. On the one hand, how much did China underreport deaths (why the loss of millions of mobile subscribers)? On the other hand, how much are Western countries with empty hospitals scraping and pinching to come up with flulike death numbers, regardless of actual cause of death? Nassim Taleb reminds us that it is wise to be cautious, and together with Wrath of Gnon suggests that we wear masks until we are sure of the scope and long term effects of this. Ross Douthat agrees we should be cautious but also that lockdowns have gone too far. Alex Berenson has been calling attention to overlooked and misrepresented data. Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge was an early respectable platform to say we’ve likely been going too far. Doug Wilson provides help processing Romans 13; emergency powers sure are an interesting gray area for a constitutional government, aren’t they? Peter Leithart suggests we think of God’s judgement through the rubric of the ten commandments. And Reformed Books Online has a treasure trove of Reformational quotes on plagues and parishes and pastors and magistrates. What a wonderful concern for pastoral care!

The conspiracy theorists are also interesting. I find it impossible to believe in a global conspiracy. I don’t doubt that there are folks with global schemes, hard at work to take advantage of the situation, but I do doubt that their schemes could possibly come together successfully. For one, it is always the case that wicked men end up biting and devouring each other; no conspiracy can be maintained at such scale. But more importantly, God has declared that Satan would “not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended.” (Rev. 20) How then could the nations be collectively under his sway? So, then, any great global deception and anxious frenzy must instead be a direct judicial punishment from God, rather than being an organized work of Satan that is nevertheless being used by God. It really does seem to me that, far from working through a crafty plan, we are careening from one anxious face-saving measure to the next, each time overcorrecting for our last error lest we be forced to repent instead. But as Leithart points out, the fact that we see God’s hand in this is encouraging indeed.

It is a good time to remember Kipling: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . . you’ll be a Man, my son!”

I confess that I cannot say “Christ is risen!” without thinking of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and “Cheese toast anesti!”

Aaron Renn’s Masculinst newsletter is back! Be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already. He is always a stimulating read; often he has a different but helpful perspective on situations than my own first reaction. In his latest issue, he reminds us that “we can only go forward.” I believe we should evaluate this in light of Rosenstock-Huessy’s observation that the next phase after the oikumenical “big things” that outgrow themselves is a tribal “little and local things” phase. As such, even as individuals and families we should be strategizing how to shrink our dependency on global corporations and trade, and grow the fruitfulness of our homes and communities.

The big kids and I have been doing barbell workouts for a year now! While also continuing with the chin-ups and pull-ups:

Interesting links and reading:

Written by Scott Moonen

April 15, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Belonging

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Israel’s call to holiness may be grasped in a twofold manner. First, the need for Israel’s holiness is rooted in the essential nature of God—in his own utter holiness. Since God is ‘infinite, eternal and unchangeable’ in holiness, as the catechism has it, then if there is to be any intimate relationship with him, that is, if the goal of the covenant and telos of creation will ever be realized, Israel’s character must steadily be conformed to YHWH’s. Secondly, the source of Israel’s holiness is—and could only ever be—God himself. While Israel is called to keep laws, therefore, yet doing so did not make the people holy but rather prepared them to be made holy by YHWH’s Presence. . . .

Returning to the point, it is the reality of the miškān itself, of God’s dwelling amidst the camp of Israel, that holds the prospect for Israel’s holiness. Even as the tabernacle was consecrated by YHWH’s Presence, so too Israel would be consecrated through their Sabbath by Sabbath basking in his Presence. . . .

The process of Israel’s becoming holy (‘sanctification’), therefore, entailed becoming more and more like God, which may also be understood in terms of belonging, ever more deeply, to him.

L. Michael Morales, Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? 208–209

Written by Scott Moonen

April 13, 2020 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Quotations

Sitting on a donkey

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On Palm Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

We might argue that this is a symbolic mark of Israel’s kingship going back to Deuteronomy 17; although the king is not forbidden to ride horses, he is forbidden to multiply them. Several of the judges as proto-kings are noted for their sons who ride on donkeys. By this reasoning, the men who ride mules (David, Absalom, Solomon), which are donkey–horse hybrids, are symbolically pushing the boundaries of God’s law as they are known to have explicitly done in other ways (David with his wives, and Solomon with his wives, horses, and gold).

Both Matthew and John tell us that Jesus is fulfilling Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

But it is interesting that throughout chapter 9, Zechariah is referring to specific nations around Israel. This leads us to wonder if there is a proximate fulfillment of this prophecy that came before Jesus’s ultimate fulfillment. Very much of Biblical prophecy follows this pattern: a near fulfillment confirms God’s word, and a far fulfillment in Jesus completes the promise. Even in Jesus there are often ways that we say prophecies have been partly fulfilled already, although they are not yet completely fulfilled.

So, we recognize that Solomon was indeed the first promised son of David, but he fell short of the full promise, and Jesus is the greater and true son of David. Likewise, it is no contradiction whatsoever to recognize that Jeremiah was likely the first suffering servant, and yet Jesus was the true suffering servant, the greater Jeremiah. Ezekiel was the first son of man, but Jesus is the greater and truest son of man. Ezra and Nehemiah inaugurate a new covenant (sponsored by Cyrus whom God calls his messiah in Isaiah 45:1) in fulfillment of Jeremiah 31, and yet Jesus the greater Cyrus inaugurates the new covenant.

In his teaching, Calvin recognized that most of Zechariah 9 referred to post exilic Israel, but he seems to view verses 9–10 as a parenthesis looking forward to Jesus. However, by thinking in terms of proximate and ultimate fulfillment, we may be able to read verses 9–10 as part of a whole. The beauty of this approach is that we no longer have to limit our applying this passage to Jesus to these two verses.

Peter Leithart proposes an overall proximate fulfillment of Zechariah 9–14 as follows:

  • Zech 9:1–10 = Alexander the Great’s invasion of Israel
  • Zech 9:11–10:12 = battles between faithful Jews and Hellenizing Jews
  • Zech 11:1–3 = the fall of the Hasmonian dynasty
  • Zech 11:4–14 = the Jews’ rejection of Jesus
  • Zech 11:15–17 = the Jews’ being given over to false shepherds
  • Zech 12:1–19 = first Roman siege
  • Zech 12:10–13:6 = conversion of many Jews
  • Zech 13:7–9 = Christians flee Jerusalem, Romans devastate Judea
  • Zech 14 = fall of Jerusalem, establishment of church as New Jerusalem

In this reading, Alexander is the proximate king who comes riding a donkey. Although we have no other evidence that Alexander actually rode a donkey, Andrew Wilson cites Josephus in noting that Alexander was made quite conscious of his fulfilling Biblical prophecy.

So if Jesus is the greater Alexander, as well as the greater son of Zion who deposes Greece and all the nations, what else can we say about him beyond his bringing peace with his worldwide rule? Well, for one, as God’s people gather to the stronghold of the New Jerusalem, God restores to us double.

Restoring double reminds us of Job and his double restoration (Job 42). First and foremost, Jesus himself as the greater Job receives a double restoration of both Jew and Gentile in his resurrection (we are “his offspring” referred to in Isaiah 53). Double portion also refers everywhere to the inheritance of the firstborn; a key example of that is Elisha’s receiving a double portion, the firstborn’s portion, of Elijah’s spirit. Like Elisha, the church receives the firstborn’s double portion of Jesus’s Spirit. Receiving a double portion is itself a sure and encouraging proof of our adoption as sons, which God first announced in Jesus’s resurrection and in our baptism.

Rejoice greatly and shout aloud!

Written by Scott Moonen

April 9, 2020 at 9:15 am

His name

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Many commentators recognize that Moses organized Deuteronomy 6–26 as a sort of sermon elaborating on each of the ten commandments in sequence. Some of the parallels are quite striking and fruitful.

James Jordan aligns the third commandment with Deuteronomy 14:1–14:21a. Most of this has to do with eating, which is very interesting given what we know from Peter’s vision in Acts 10. This suggests that we positively honor the third commandment when we break bread with and generally welcome fellow believers (i.e., “discern the body”), and we violate it when we shun or persecute fellow believers (as in Galatians 2) or partake of the table of demons (1 Cor 10).

In other words, honoring God’s name is directly connected to honoring the people on whom he has set his name. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

See also: Delight

Written by Scott Moonen

April 6, 2020 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Biblical Theology

Grace

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Ben Virgo: How would you tease out Paul’s command to Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in our Lord Jesus Christ? The reason I ask is I think we tend to treat grace almost like a safety net in our time. And there’s grace if you fail, you know. But essentially, we don’t know about being strong in his grace. When you hear the gospel, and when you get it, when it strikes you, you realize it’s all grace. . . .

Peter Leithart: When we’re talking about grace, we’re not talking about something that’s somehow distant from or abstracted from the presence of the Spirit with us. But rather it’s the Spirit at work in us, and the Spirit is the spirit of Jesus; he’s a person of the trinity, who guides, leads, speaks, is grieved, and so on. So when you start thinking about the phrase you mentioned, be strong in grace, it’s talking about being filled with the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Christian Heritage London

Written by Scott Moonen

April 6, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Quotations