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Archive for March 2021

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-13)

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James Jordan reminds us that Good Friday ends in paradise:

And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43, NKJV)

As far as I can tell, with Blue Letter Bible as my trusty help, Genesis 7:9, 7:15, and 8:9 all use the same preposition with respect to Noah and the ark:

And they went into the ark [in]to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. (Genesis 7:15, NKJV)

Participation in the covenant and in salvation is participation in the head, and vice versa. Thus, for each of the three great baptisms (flood, Red Sea, church), we can speak of the body of Christ (e.g., 1 Corinthians 10–12), and the body of Moses (Jude 1:9 corresponding to Zechariah 3:2), and the body of Noah. Participation in the church and participation in Jesus and participation in his salvation are inextricably linked. It’s especially interesting that in Noah’s case the animal kingdom participates in the body that enters into a new creation.

I recently listened to the Pugcast fellows reflecting on Darwinism and its false assumption that life is essentially competitive. This same assumption lies at the root of the Girardian process of envy and imitation and scapegoating. But that is not how my Father’s world works. Because of the processive and productive work of his Spirit—and especially with the breaking in of the new creation, in which life rather than death is contagious—this world is not zero–sum but is super–abundant.

Good poetry is one little gift–proof of this. Here is a clever little poem by Billy Collins: “Workshop” (thanks to Jon Barlow for the find). I also dug up these two wonderful addresses given by Ted Kooser while I was chasing a poem shared by John Barach: Poetry and healing, Keynote address.

It occurred to me recently that I rarely read poems twice, devouring them more than savoring them. But a poem is one of the easiest things to re–read, and a good poem will repay it well.

Beverly Cleary passed this week. May she rest in peace!

My pastor commented recently that the Sabbath is a tithe of our time. Forty days is a tithe of time too.

Alex Berenson published Unreported Truths part 4 this week, on vaccines. It’s concise and compelling; I recommend it if the subject interests you!

Written by Scott Moonen

March 27, 2021 at 10:55 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-12)

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I listened to Nevin’s The Anxious Bench recently on a friend’s recommendation and appreciated it. Nevin twice uses the striking phrase “justification by feeling rather than faith.” Here is a longer section I enjoyed:

Christ lives in the Church, and through the Church in its particular members; just as Adam lives in the human race generically considered, and through the race in every individual man. This view of the relation of the Church to the salvation of the individual, exerts an important influence, in the case before us, on the whole system of action, by which it is sought to reach this object.

Where it prevails, a serious interest will be taken in the case of children, as proper subject for the Christian salvation, from the earliest age. Infants born in the Church, are regarded and treated as members of it from the beginning, and this privilege is felt to be something more than an empty shadow. The idea of infant conversion is held in practical honor; and it is counted not only possible but altogether natural, that children growing up in the bosom of the Church, under the faithful application of the means of grace, should be quickened into spiritual life in a comparatively quiet way, and spring up numerously, “as willows by the water–courses,” to adorn the Christian profession, without being able at all to trace the process by which the glorious change has been effected. Where the Church has lost all faith in this method of conversion, either not looking for it at all, or looking for it only in rare and extraordinary instances, it is an evidence that she is under the force of a wrong religious theory, and practically subjected, at least in some measure, to the false system whose symbol is the Bench. If conversion is not expected nor sought in this way among infants and children, it is not likely often to occur. All is made to hang methodistically on sudden and violent experiences, belonging to the individual separately taken, and holding little or no connection with his relations to the Church previously. Then as a matter of course, baptism becomes a barren sign, and the children of the Church are left to grow up like the children of the world, under general most heartless, most disastrous neglect. . . .

Thus due regard is had to the family, the domestic constitution, as a vital and fundamental force, in the general organization of the Church. . . . (John Williamson Nevin, The Anxious Bench, Chapter 7, 130–132)

For many years I was a non–practicing paedobaptist and paedocommunionist because I wished to continue in the particular weekly fellowship where God had placed me. Although my littles did not partake of the supper, I always involved them in such a way as to stress their participation in Jesus. We would speak something like this:

Q: What does the bread signify?
A: Jesus’s body
Q: Where is Jesus’s body?
A: We are Jesus’s body
Q: Thank you Jesus for making me a part of your family!
A: Thank you Jesus for making me a part of your family!
Q: What does the cup signify?
A: Jesus’s blood
Q: What does Jesus’s blood do for us?
A: It covers our sins!
Q: Thank you Jesus for covering my sins with your blood!
A: Thank you Jesus for covering my sins with your blood!
Q: Isn’t it good to be forgiven?
A: Yes!

The key to unlocking the book of Job is to see that Job is, first of all, a type of Jesus, complete with a Luke 2:52 and Hebrews 2:10 arc. Then it becomes clear how to understand Job as a type of the church and of the righteous man.

The book of Job is, in effect, an immense psalm. (René Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, 117)

This perspective helps us to recognize that, among Job’s friends, even Elihu is not representing the voice of wisdom. It is right for God’s people to wrestle with him:

​​“Look, in this you are not righteous.
I will answer you,
​​For God is greater than man.
​​Why do you contend with Him?
​​For He does not give an accounting of any of His words. (Elihu, Job 33:12–13, NKJV)

And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” (Genesis 32:26, NKJV)

Mark Horne argues that Proverbs is consistent with Job and Ecclesiastes in presenting a vision of a world where wisdom does not appear always to bear fruit. On reflection, I wonder why this has not seemed blindingly obvious to me until now. Certainly if the world appeared to function by sowing and reaping in a coin–operated fashion, God would not need to spend such time exhorting me to live by wisdom, nor would I be so readily tempted to forsake it. He intends for us to grow year by year in patience and faith and wisdom.

​​For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
​​But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
​​Though it tarries, wait for it;
​​Because it will surely come,
​​It will not tarry.
​​“Behold the proud,
​​His soul is not upright in him;
​​But the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:3–4)

Andrew Isker is blogging through James Jordan’s outstanding book Through New Eyes, which you should read. Elsewhere Andrew summarizes his choice of name, The Boniface Option. What a thrilling thing to say: Jesus Christ is God, ____ is not!

A programming friend cautioned me to beware the IDEs of March. I am unconcerned since I use the magnificent Roman editor 6.

Written by Scott Moonen

March 19, 2021 at 9:21 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-11)

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Misplaced fear is a sin:

And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me. (Nehemiah 6:11–13, NKJV)

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27, NKJV)

Most translations speak of mist in Genesis 2:6, but a few either allow for the possibility of its being a spring (e.g., ESV) or do so explicitly (the NET Bible uses spring; Everett Fox uses surge or flow). The NET Bible comments:

The Hebrew word (ʾed) was traditionally translated “mist” because of its use in Job 36:27. However, an Akkadian cognate edu in Babylonian texts refers to subterranean springs or waterways. Such a spring would fit the description in this context, since this water “goes up” and waters the ground.

Job 36:27 is the only other passage where this word appears. Most translations (including NET) render it there as mist or vapor, though a few as flood. Flood seems closer to what is going on in Genesis but not close enough to use it there. But maybe we can use spring after all? God’s people seem to have had knowledge of the water cycle:

All the rivers run into the sea,​​
Yet the sea is not full;
​​To the place from which the rivers come,
​​There they return again. (Ecclesiastes 1:7, NKJV)

He made the Pleiades and Orion;​​
He turns the shadow of death into morning​​
And makes the day dark as night;
​​He calls for the waters of the sea
​​And pours them out on the face of the earth;
​​Yahweh is His name. (Amos 5:8, NKJV modified)

Thus, to the springs seems an entirely appropriate rendering in Job.

I read Jakob Van Bruggen’s The Ancient Text of the New Testament recently and greatly appreciated it. I’ve started using the NKJV and have appreciated the footnotes that call attention to variants. The Byzantine text has “of Christ” in Romans 1, which gives me great pleasure:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16, NKJV)

I appreciate modern neo–Calvinists like Calvin Seerveld, but have always felt wary of them. Their love for creation is thrilling to me, but it sometimes blinds them to the antithesis. Kuyper’s heirs do not really have a corner on this market, as I have similar mix of appreciation and concern for Malcom Guite and Tim Keller and Marilynne Robinson. James KA Smith is a particularly interesting neo–Calvinist. I appreciated the first two installments of his Kingdom trilogy, and still plan to find time for the third. But over the past few years it seems that he has really come unmoored. Even our appreciation and approval must come under discipleship to God’s law:

Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:32, NKJV)

Romans 4 is such an outstanding proof text for paedocircumcision, I mean paedobaptism:

Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. (Romans 4:9–12, NKJV)

Asher: Dad, did you work out or run when you were growing up?
Scott: No, not until after college.
Asher: What kinds of things do you think we will do with our kids that you didn’t do?
Scott: Well, for sure you will baptize them much younger. And they will learn all the Psalms much younger.

I was impressed and thrilled when a group of men at church belted out a metrical version of Psalm 124 with only the first line as advance notice. We have had about half of the Psalms under our belt for several years thanks to Jamie Soles and a few others. This week we just reached the halfway point in our family project to chant through the entire psalter using a combination of the Concordia ESV Psalter and Theopolis Psalter.

A powerful remedy for any kind of sin and foolishness:

You won’t need it any more, Bilbo, unless I am quite mistaken. (Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 1)

I commented recently on the principle of sowing and reaping when it comes to tyrants. This principle appears repeatedly throughout scripture:

Whoever rewards evil for good,
Evil will not depart from his house. (Prov 17:13, NKJV)

But this principle is equally a spur and encouragement to the righteous! He who forgives is himself forgiven:

And forgive us our debts,​
As we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12, NKJV)

He who shows grace and mercy and honor to his wife will receive it himself:

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

And mothers reap great reward from their own faithful sowing:

Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:15, NKJV)

I am fond of saying that worship is warfare. But worship is also a feast. Peter Leithart points out that Psalm 100’s “enter into His gates with thanksgiving” most likely includes the bringing of a thanksgiving, that is, a thanksgiving–peace–offering fellowship meal with God and his people. And Nehemiah 8 teaches us how we are to behave on the Lord’s day:

“This day is holy to Yahweh your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Yahweh is your strength.”

My church is hosting Peter Leithart to teach on “How should we worship” in April. Please join me there!

Reportedly there is not much nectar flow in North Carolina in March, so you must feed your bees. We are feeding our bees, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that even so, they are bringing back some pollen. We are seeing a mix of orange and yellow pollen coming back right now. (Bees have “flower fidelity,” meaning that they will visit only one kind of flower on each foraging flight.) I didn’t realize until our studying this winter that the bees actually eat pollen; it is a source of protein for them. Here is one of our ladies taking a brief rest with her load of orange pollen:

I also didn’t realize that bee poop was a thing, albeit much more dainty than that of birds. They seem to have established one of their cleansing flight paths directly over our cars.

Written by Scott Moonen

March 12, 2021 at 7:05 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-10)

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Ezra pulls out his own hair at intermarriage with unbelievers:

When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass.” So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished. (Ezra 2:1–3, NKJV)

But Nehemiah pulls out other men’s hair:

In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people. So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. (Nehemiah 13:23–25, NKJV)

There actually is an occurrence of six hundred sixty-six in the Bible apart from Solomon’s gold (1 Kings 10, 2 Chronicles 9) and John’s land beast (Revelation 13):

Now these are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his own city. . . the people of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-six. . . (Ezra 2:1–13, NKJV)

Interestingly, some of Nehemiah’s numbers differ slightly from Ezra’s, and he counts six hundred sixty-seven sons of Adonikam. The numbers are similar enough that it is unlikely they are arrived at by completely different means (e.g., excluding and including women, or excluding and including males under or over a certain age). It seems to me that they must reflect numberings at different times.

Why is it that Asaph only perceives the destiny of the wicked in the sanctuary?

Behold, these are the wicked.
And always carefree, they increase wealth.
Surely, in vain I kept my heart pure,
And washed my hands in innocence.
Yes, I was plagued all day long
And my punishment arrived every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus”;
Behold, the generation of Your children I should have betrayed!
When I pondered to understand this,
It was oppressive to my eyes.
Until I cam into the sanctuary of the Mighty One;
There I perceived their destiny. (Psalm 73:12–17, James Jordan)

I think he perceives this in part because worship is warfare and in part because worship takes place in the heavens, in the future.

We should not be surprised that the wicked seem to outnumber and overwhelm the righteous. God is not limited by numbers. Micaiah was one prophet against four hundred (2 Chronicles 18). Solomon found one man among a thousand (Ecclesiastes 7). If God’s church is faithful, then five shall chase a hundred, a hundred put ten thousand to flight (Leviticus 26), and one shall chase a thousand (Joshua 23).

This was outstanding:

And this was touching and thought provoking. Pray for Peterson:

Charlotte and Asher have kept chickens for a few years, and we’ve been brainstorming how we can expand that. Asher settled on bee keeping and has been learning and strategizing for awhile. We took a class with our county bee keeping association this winter, and this week we set up our first two hives!

Written by Scott Moonen

March 6, 2021 at 6:50 am