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Archive for June 2021

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-24)

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Everett Fox translates the word for altar as slaughter-site:

If an offering-up is his near-offering, from the herd,
(then) male, wholly-sound, let him bring-it-near,
to the entrance of the Tent of Appointment let him bring-it-near,
as acceptance for him, before the presence of YHVH.
He is to lean his hand on the head of the offering-up,
that there may be acceptance on his behalf, to effect-ransom for him.
He is to slay the herd-animal (for sacrifice) before the presence of YHVH,
and the Sons of Aharon, the priests, are to bring-near the blood
and are to dash the blood against the slaughter-site, all around,
that is at the entrance of the Tent of Appointment. (Leviticus 1:3-5, Everett Fox)

But this forces him to choose something else for incense altar; he translates altar there simply as site:

Then the priest is to put some of the blood on the horns of the site of fragrant smoking-incense, before the presence of YHVH,
that is in the Tent of Appointment;
as for all the (rest of the) blood of the bull, he is to pour it out at the foundation of the slaughter-site of offering-up
that is (at) the entrance of the Tent of Appointment. (Leviticus 4:7, Everett Fox)

By contrast, Jordan uses communion-site for altar:

If his Nearbringing is an Ascension from the herd,
a perfect male shall he bring him near.
To the forecourt of the Tent of Meeting he shall bring him near,
for his acceptance before Yahweh.
And he shall lean his hand on the head of the Ascension,
and he will be accepted for him to cover him.
And he shall slaughter the son of the herd before Yahweh.
And Aaron’s sons the palace-servants shall bring near the blood.
And they shall dash the blood on the Communion Site round about that is at the forecourt of the Tent of Meeting.
(Leviticus 1:3-5, James Jordan)

(Alter, however, uses altar.)

I am not qualified to judge between these options, but Jordan’s appeals to me greatly, and the fact that it allows for the more straightforward “communion-site of incense” is a nice result. Incense, of course, is the communion of prayer (Revelation 5, 8).

The Byzantine texts use Christ rather than the Alexandrian Him in Philippians 4:

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13, NKJV)

Both the preceding context and the use of Christ lead me to read this in a totus Christus fashion. Very much of the way that Jesus strengthens us to do all things is through the work of his Spirit in his church toward us.

Wilson’s recent reflections on our mass panic are good. We are right now in the eye of the storm, and widespread repentance for church closures and for binding of consciences is still necessary to prepare for future battles and victory.

Whatever the long-term effects of the so-called vaccines, I think this will be both an opportunity for the church to care for those who are injured, as well as another way in which the need to repent for failures to shepherd will become crystal clear. I wonder whether the next stage of the storm will be an external one that affects all churches, or if it will be an internal one that shakes only those churches and denominations that have let down their guard.

I’m not entirely in agreement with Wilson’s account of free speech and blasphemy. Here are some observations and qualifications, perhaps many of which Wilson would agree with:

  1. The prohibition on fraternization with Canaanites did not extend to Gentiles in general, who were welcome to offer sacrifices (Numbers 15) and participate in the feast of booths (Deuteronomy 16). Israel’s excessive fastidiousness here is one of their great failures of mission and was in fact demonic.
  2. Christians’ company with idolaters is a separate category from Christians’ company with idolatry (i.e., the table of demons) and also from the magistrate’s dealing with public idolatry.
  3. The power of the gospel does not negate lesser tactics against evil including the second use of the law.
  4. I have great difficulty with Wilson’s main argument. If I substitute murder for blasphemy the argument seems to me the same, perhaps even more urgent on Wilson’s principles. Does wisdom require us to conduct a moratorium of a few centuries on capital punishment? On the one hand, I would be glad to start vaccinating and exiling capital offenders to Canada and Australia if I could have the lives of millions of babies in exchange. On the other hand, God has seen fit to entrust this responsibility to men since the time of Noah. The righteous magistrate ought not to flinch or be wiser than God in punishing evil and rewarding good.
  5. In fact there is a symmetry between the first and the sixth commandments, part of a well-known symmetry between the first and second sets of five commandments (e.g., see Jordan’s Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy).
  6. In a nation that constitutionally confesses the supreme lordship of Jesus, how is public blasphemy not the highest form of treason or sedition?
  7. When we are given the opportunity, certainly we would start small. God will give us the words to speak at that time, but it seems reasonable to me that only clear and public blasphemy would be forbidden; normal standards of evidence would apply; repentance would be required only for the blasphemy having been public; repentance would be accepted at face value; contumacy would be the final offense rather than blasphemy; and exile would be a reasonable option at first. How is this not better than saying we must take it slow and wait a little longer for the leaven to work?
  8. Of course, wisdom right now involves living rightly in a time when we have not been brought before kings and rulers. In fact, as I think about Daniel’s own time of preparation, this underscores the need to thoroughly reject the ways of the world, and highlights the church’s great present failure to do so.

Perhaps the best summary is to compare this to Wilson’s approach to abortion. It is true that we are all incrementalists. But when it comes to both abortion (sixth commandment) and blasphemy (first commandment), let us also be smashmouth about it.

Tim Nichols writes on 1 John:

Church is a hospital. We take in the sick, the wounded, the broken. It’s just unseemly to complain that someone’s bleeding on the Emergency Room floor again—that’s what it’s for! That’s what we are for: to hear the truth of our sins and failures, and assure one another of God’s cleansing mercy. So go forth into the body, and tell the truth. Trust Jesus: He will take care of the sin. 

I wrote briefly on CEOs and acting. I did not mean, of course, to imply that CEOs must not be actors; we are always already actors. Rather, leaders must be acting out of a well-defined center of principle and integrity.

Written by Scott Moonen

June 13, 2021 at 6:52 am

Mission

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My favorite quotes from Peter Leithart’s Theopolitan Mission:

The principle of ministry in the church is simple: “Let all things be done for edification” (1 Cor 14:26). This is the rule: Do everything you do to complete Christ’s body. (39)

Macedonians make a koinonia contribution to poor saints in Jerusalem (Rom 15:26). As Paul sees it, they don’t throw money at a problem from a distance. Rather, their generous gifts overcome distance, joining Macedonian Gentiles and Jerusalem Jews in one fellowship of the Spirit. Material gifts have a quasi-sacramental power to join the members of the church into one body. (50)

A church isn’t carrying out the mission of Jesus if it doesn’t gather on the Lord’s Day at a common table. (54)

Conflict is no accident, nor is it avoidable. Suffering is the only path into the kingdom, an inevitable part of mission. (71)

Like the ark, the church receives and preserves the treasures of the world (Rev 21:24) so they can be purged, transfigured, and brought out again to adorn creation. As worlds collapse, the world’s riches are kept safe in the ark of the church. All things are gathered into the church so that all things can disembark into a new creation. Noah performs this magic only once, but Jesus does it continuously. Treasures flow continuously into the ark of Christendom. The church has received the treasures of Greek and Roman art, philosophy, and politics, to purify them and bring them to fulfillment. It will plunder the gold of China, Japan, and India, of the Masai and Zulu, of Arabia and Iraq and Afghanistan. Treasures from the city of man enter the city of God so they can return to the city of man, renewed. The city of man enters the ark of God so it can become more perfectly what it’s supposed to be, more perfectly an image of heavenly Jerusalem.

The church pilots the world. What happens in the holy church guides what happens outside. If the church is unfaithful, leaves her first love, and turns to false teachers, Jesus will move the lampstand and abandon the house (Rev 2-3). If the church keeps her lamps burning, continuously supplied by the oil of the Spirit, the world will be full of light. (79)

I wonder sometimes if any of my international colleagues are secret brothers and sisters.

Transformed by the Eucharist, our making is freed from pure utility and functionality. Utility is good. A woodworker makes tables for meals, weavers make cloth for clothing, metalworkers make wires for electricity and rebar to strengthen walls. All these forms of making have practical ends. But when we make in order to offer our fruit to God in praise, we transcend mere usefulness. The cobbler doesn’t just cover bare feet; he cobbles for the glory of God. At the same time, the sanctuary frees us from the sterile circularity of making for its own sake, the effete snobbery of “art for art’s sake.” Making Eucharistically, a craftsman makes for God. “Art for art’s sake” is a sign of decadence. It’s a symptom of the decay of liturgy. (88-89)

A flood is coming. It’s already sweeping away the world as we know it. The world we know will be submerged as the Lord turns the world upside down and gives it a sharp shake (Hag 2:6-7).

It’s not the end of everything. Creation will survive, and civilization will be reborn. Jesus will steer the ark of his church through the storm. As the clouds gather, as the thunder begins to roll, as the deluge crashes down, we’re called to continue the often-imperceptible work of building the ark of Jesus. With our lives scripted by the Scriptures that reveal the Christ, we cling to the apostolic gospel, gather to break bread, share our material and Spiritual gifts, offer a continuous sacrifice of prayer and song. We preach the good news in false churches and public squares, endure the rage of the mob, suffer with Jesus so we may share His glory. We confront idols and demons and call all men from darkness to light, from Satan to the living God (Acts 26:18). In the Last Adam, we’re made right-makers, grateful makers whose making is an act of worship. Some will slip, lizard-like, into palaces (Prov 30:28) and gain a hearing before Prime Ministers and Presidents.

As we do these things, we preserve the treasures of the past and, by the alchemy of the Spirit, transfigure ancient treasures into new. When the storm is over and the flood waters recede, we’ll have and be the seeds of a new creation. We’ll flow like living water to fertilize the wasteland.

If you’re a Christian, that’s what you’re doing. Your life may not look like a big deal. You’re kind to your neighbors, serve your brothers and sisters in church, gather each week to receive God’s Word and God’s Bread. You train and teach your children as disciples; you love your husband or wife. You’re an honest and productive employee, an attentive employer, an entrepreneur or bureaucrat in a well-established institution. You do and make, but no one notices. . . .

You feel invisible, but that’s an optical illusion. You’re participating in the biggest project imaginable. You’re joining with millions of others to build the self-building ark of Jesus. Through your witness and labor, a new world is taking form. You’re fighting the battle of the ages. You’re constructing the city of God among the cities of men in order to transform the cities of men to become more like the city of God. Nothing is small in the kingdom of Jesus.

There’s nothing to fear. We live in joy and expectant hope. Jesus is in the boat, and He calms the seas. The Carpenter of Nazareth will pilot his ark until it rests on a new Ararat, a new Eden, the garden-city where the river of life flows. (100-101)

Written by Scott Moonen

June 4, 2021 at 10:19 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-23)

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God’s people bring-near near-bringings as we approach him. But God also brings-near something to his house:

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple! (Psalm 65:4, ESV)

I have beheld frAgile release planning, and it looks something like this when you don’t have a well-ordered backlog:

I wrote a couple of blog posts on bringing your team back to the office. Of course Nassim Taleb and Edwin Friedman come up. This is is a startling insight from Taleb:

Written by Scott Moonen

June 4, 2021 at 9:58 pm