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Jesu, Juva

Archive for the ‘Biblical Theology’ Category

Metábasis eis állo génos (3-3)

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Charlotte and Asher competed in an NCFCA tournament last week and did well. Ivy volunteered with judging. I really enjoyed witnessing so many young folks engaging in good speech and debate, and I greatly appreciate the home school speech club we’ve been able to participate in this year.

One student made the striking statement that “the good is the enemy of the best.” I’m familiar with the converse expression, but there are cases as well where this is true: we must offer our best, our first fruits, to God.

The tournament forced us to miss our church’s twelfth night feast, but we lit our own Epiphany light upon our return, combining our tree with three that we collected from the neighborhood:

Then he shall put his hand on the head of the ascension offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. (Lev. 1:4)

This leads to a profound irony:

Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?” (Matt. 26:67–68)

Therefore your sin remains. Thomas makes better use of his hands:

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:27)

May we be his heirs:

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

We set our sights too low if we merely train our daughters to “love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus 2). We have received many blessings from the global economy, but it also represents an ever-increasing dislocation from a healthy oiko-nomos, that is, healthy household management. Our sons as well must be oriented towards their household, though they will naturally have a more outward-facing posture than their wives.

With Rosenstock-Huessy, I believe that the day of the big things—the big countries, the big economies, the big banks, the big companies, the big denominations—is coming to an end. Right now we must and do find ways to walk in this world of great giants and beasts, but we do so with a hopeful eye to the future. Our children will likely walk in a different world, and our grand-children almost certainly will. C. R. Wiley’s books Man of the House and The Household and the War for the Cosmos are both helpful introductions to thinking differently. I recall Nassim Taleb writing about Italian doctors and lawyers, how their practices tend to be much smaller and how they place a high value on individual accomplishment. I cannot find the quote but it was a compelling idea, especially in the male world.

It also strikes me that we do not see the hidden tradeoffs we have made. Aaron Renn’s reflections on “Beyond Economic Piety” underscore this well. What if we could abolish abortion in exchange for half of our GDP? Or abolish abortion in exchange for half of our pharmaceutical formulary being put out of reach of the average person? Wouldn’t you make that exchange without hesitation? We have received great wealth but at unbearable cost. Rich Lusk rightly observes that, “Of all the revolutions of the last several centuries that have rocked the world (the French Revolution, the Russian revolution, the Chinese revolution), it is the sexual revolution that has been the bloodiest of them all.” Miserere nobis.

Mark Horne recognizes the voice of Aslan:

So sometimes you know things and sometimes you really know things. I knew Jesus was YHWH but, when I came to the messages to the seven churches (Revelation 2-3), having read through the Bible from the beginning to that point, I really knew it.

His voice was unmistakable.

Mark Horne also passes along this article on what you might call a “best is the enemy of the good” strength training regimen. I appreciate the observations here; right now a one-hour workout twice a week is the best balance for me. I’m squatting twice, deadlifting twice, curling twice, pressing once, and bench pressing once. I’m never sore while I maintain this pace, though I only have to miss a single workout in order for the next one to leave me sore! I’ve also been influenced by the Barbell Medicine team to conduct my work sets around 70-80% of my estimated 1RM, rather than trying to negotiate complex patterns in an attempt to experience further progression. Maybe things will be different ten years from now, but I’m content with how things are going now.

Alan Jacobs plans to “repair something every day, even if it’s something insignificant, and even if the repair is just a bit of cleaning. I want each night to be able to say: Today, instead of acquiring something new, I took something already known to me and made it a little better.”

It is true that each little victory is hardly a victory thanks to the fact that the Overton window has moved so far. We should not even be entertaining the idea of the things that are being half-heartedly struck down.

Written by Scott Moonen

January 15, 2022 at 8:08 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-52)

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To the Word has us in Isaiah. Advent is such a fitting time to read Isaiah!

Woe to the multitude of many people
​​Who make a noise like the roar of the seas,​​
And to the rushing of nations
​​That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
​​The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters;
​​But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away,
​​And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind,
​​Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
​​Then behold, at eventide, trouble!
​​And before the morning, he is no more.
​​This is the portion of those who plunder us,
​​And the lot of those who rob us. (Isaiah 17:12–14, NKJV)

And in this mountain​​
Yahweh of hosts will make for all people
​​A feast of choice pieces,
​​A feast of wines on the lees,
​​Of fat things full of marrow,
​​Of well-refined wines on the lees.
​​And He will destroy on this mountain​​
The surface of the covering cast over all people,
​​And the veil that is spread over all nations.
​​He will swallow up death forever,
​​And the Lord Yahweh will wipe away tears from all faces;
​​The rebuke of His people
​​He will take away from all the earth;
​​For Yahweh has spoken.
​​And it will be said in that day:
​​“Behold, this is our God;
​​We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
​​This is Yahweh;
​​We have waited for Him;
​​We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:6–9, NKJV adapted)

I have five different tunes for While Shepherds Watched in my music library. It’s hard to pick a favorite, especially now that I have one more to pick from:

Every social theory is a theology in disguise. (C. R. Wiley, “Culture and Worldview“)

Have you ever wondered what set the ladies dancing and the lords a–leaping? Well, it was the pipers’ piping:

Written by Scott Moonen

December 24, 2021 at 9:25 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-50)

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The law of entropy began to be overturned in AD 30 with the fuller intrusion of the Spirit into creation. Children are an especially potent way to multiply the Spirit’s influence in the world.

I discussed epistemology with an unbelieving friend recently. He’s right that it is not sufficient to simply say that the Bible is the basis of Christian epistemology, since we receive the Bible in the context of other things like language and history and embodied existence. For this I like Rosenstock-Huessy’s alternative to cogito, ergo sum. Rosenstock-Huessy says: respondeo, etsi mutabor; I respond, although I will be changed.

Everything is a gift: existence, embodied existence, relationships, language, the Bible. Our proper response to all of these is first to receive them as pure gift, with gratitude to the Giver, and then allow ourselves to be shaped and changed by that. Thus, in a way, our epistemology is founded on the Giver rather than only on his Word.

A friend introduced me to Psallos recently and I have their albums on repeat right now.

Earlier I shared Rosenstock-Huessy’s summary of a few modern revolutions. I am still stuck in the middle of his book, but I wonder what the next era will bring. I pray that it will be every-man-a-fig-and-vine-dresser.

Written by Scott Moonen

December 10, 2021 at 4:34 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-49)

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The laces on my running shoes come untied at least once a day, and almost always once per run, even with a double knot. A week ago I started using Ian’s Secure Shoelace Knot, and they haven’t come untied by themselves yet.

Studies show the new variant is caused by climate conferences and includes myocarditis among its unprecedented symptoms. Scientists have decided to name it the “COP26 variant.”

A friend points out that Delilah is paid some multiple of 1,100 pieces of silver (Judges 16), and in the very next chapter Micah steals 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother. At a minimum there is a thematic link here, but it is interesting to consider whether Micah’s mother is actually Delilah. Micah is not the only son gone bad in this story; Jonathan the Levite is likely the grandson of Moses (Judges 18:30). It seems the tribe of Dan is wandering as well, certainly spiritually. At least it is ambiguous that they are conquering a city outside of their borders (Joshua 19) and which might not even be Canaanite.

Another friend points out that there are times when God will discipline his church for obeying the magistrate:

So [Moses and Aaron] said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go three days’ journey into the desert and sacrifice to Yahweh our God, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” (Exodus 5:3)

This was interesting:

Amen:

Written by Scott Moonen

December 3, 2021 at 4:21 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-48)

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It is good to belong to Jesus.

To emphasize the pro-noun is to perpetuate systemic injustice against other parts of speech like verbs and prepositions. I have learned to be an ally and thus in this moment I prefer to share my preferred pro-verbs.

The only trouble is, it’s difficult to choose.

The evil will bow before the good,​​
And the wicked at the gates of the righteous. (Proverbs 14:19, NKJV)

They say that a mandate is not discriminatory if it applies to everyone. Ha, good one!

“So, all the months with ‘ber’ at the end, does that mean it’s cold?” (Amos Moonen)

You should read Mark Horne’s reflections on difficulties: legendary mode; training versus hero battle.

I have until now not paid close attention to the ritual symbolism of faces, thinking it was legitimate but a light and mostly extra–Biblical consideration in things that have taken place over the last two years. But this week I stumbled across this word. I am struck by both the tremendous breadth of this, and also how our translations have left it off the face of the text (so to speak), hiding it from our faces (as it were). One book—Esther—takes pains to show how seeing and seeking the face of the king is crucial, and how hiding or having your face hidden from the king is both the cause and the result of the king’s judgment that you are forever banished from his own face. Ritually speaking, then, a ruler who masks his people is laying judgment and humiliation on them; and a worshipper who masks himself is hiding from his king.

But there’s also this:

Other than Bach, I’ve experienced the most musical delight playing versions of La Folía. So I enjoyed this collection:

Written by Scott Moonen

November 26, 2021 at 11:15 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-46)

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Reflecting on That Hideous Strength, I’ve often wondered what it would look like for Merlin to show up. But now, absent any Merlin and simply relying on judicial confusion sent by God, it’s amazing just how incoherent the raging of the nations is all by itself, and how the simplest and most obvious truths now send it into a tizzy.

“Do you validate?” With millions of man-hours being invested in real-time digital systems of validation and badging, increasingly the answer is, “Yes, we insist!”

Praise God that, at the moment, some of these systems are programmed to (tediously) validate by reason of obedience to God rather than man. I’m thankful for the validation but reject the idolatry that lies beneath it; and what an interesting judgment it is to see all those man-hours wasted on raging. See also The Abolition of Man for some reasons why it really is idolatry and raging.

Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus. (Acts 17:7, NKJV)

The NKJV has a wonderful “we” in Joshua 5:1:

“So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.”

This is our history. We have been grafted into a tree (Romans 11), adopted into a family (Romans 4).

This is excellent: I Survived (Because of) Bible Belt Religion.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 13, 2021 at 7:28 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-45)

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It’s November. I used to wait until Thanksgiving to stoke the festivity but I have no such scruples anymore.

If we believe in the sonship-kingship of all believers, that we are all vice-regents (that is, vice-gerents), should we not be doing something like this?

Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:18-20, NKJV)

If Saul had done that, then he had absolutely no excuse when it came to Agag:

Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget. (Deuteronomy 25:19, NKJV)

I usually think of the levirate brother as a type of the pastor tending the bride for Jesus’s sake. But there is a way in which all of us are raising our households for Jesus’s sake. Thus shall it be done to the man who does not build up Jesus’s house:

But if the man does not want to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.’ Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ And his name shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal removed.’ (Deuteronomy 25:7-10, NKJV)

God commissions families to bring new worshippers into the world (Malachi 2:15), and commissions us to bring them to him:

In ways both explicit and implicit, scripture says that there is a faithful relationship between Christian-infants and God. We are called on to confess this before God, and we are called to teach it to our children. And we can relax theologically in the rest of knowing that recumbency (lying back in the arms) is the picture God gives to portray faith in the womb.

In fact, it is in the very nature of a covenant that it binds generations yet unborn:

I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, but with him who stands here with us today before the LORD our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today . . . so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’—as though the drunkard could be included with the sober. . . The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:14-29, NKJV)

All covenants are evangelical; this is from the book that urges circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 10, 30), and urges faithfulness to the covenant, “you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 30).

James Madison overstates his case when he says, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Better to say that the governor’s sword would go unused except as a glorious display. There will always be a need to decide whether and where to build the king’s highway, what time we will assemble to pray, etc.; and these decisions need not be purely democratic. In fact, as Chesterton points out, they must not.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 4, 2021 at 11:56 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-44)

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Camping and hiking in the Pisgah!

I have this idea for a Superman serum. I need you to take it and then I will become Superman.

We have seen that there are several ways in which we can speak of the day of the Lord. We have also seen that to participate in the Lord’s weekly service, especially the Lord’s supper, is to be taken up into the heavens, to be taken out of space and time. Psalm 73 links these two ideas together:

When I thought how to understand this,
It was too painful for me—
​​Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
​​Then I understood their end.

There is a kind of telescoping of the days of the Lord going on in worship. When we come to worship, we participate in a foretaste of the marriage supper. But we also participate in a prophetic foretaste of the end of the wicked, of their utter exclusion.

James Jordan writes:

The Church has always limped in history, and it always will. People look at the manifest weaknesses of God’s Bride, and they spit on her. Yet, while God avenges His saints, He still keeps them limping.

God told Satan in the beginning that the righteous One, Jesus Christ, would crush his head, but that in the process, the heel of the Lord would be bruised (Genesis 3:15). Thus, Jacob, the father of Israel’s twelve tribes, wrestled with God and prevailed, but limped ever after (Genesis 32:31). The limp was a sign of his victory in righteousness! The apostle Paul, father of the gentile Church, was given a thorn in his flesh (and since thorns grow on the ground, it was symbolically in his foot), which kept him limping in the eyes of men (2 Corinthians 12:7). Thus, in union with her Lord Jesus Christ, the Church limps through history, in apparent weakness, so that it is “with a scornful wonder, men see her sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.” Yet her victory is assured. How can that be? Because her enemies have had their heads crushed, and thus their resistance is short-lived.

Peter Leithart writes in a recent In Medias Res newsletter:

When “despicable” men rule (Daniel 11:21), the saints get mowed down—not for their sins but for their faithfulness. There are times when the saints’ hope isn’t rescue but resurrection.

For hundreds of millions of Christians, that time is now. Some estimate that two-thirds of all martyrs in the history of the church have been killed since 1900. Every day, brothers and sisters around the world face harassment, violence, and the real possibility of death.

Ask our Father to hear their cries and avenge the blood spilled in North Korea, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Iran, and that faithful U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia. Ask Him to shake the world until the despicable are thrown from their thrones.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 29, 2021 at 5:54 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-43)

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Asher’s been perfecting his cribbage board technique:

The NKJV has a clause in Ephesians 3 that is missing from the Alexandrian texts:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. (Ephesians 3:14-15 NKJV)

This made me wonder about the referent of “whom.” But “family” is patria, so clearly it is the Father. Family is fatherdom.

On the Continent, the ship of State did not move on a sea of troubles such as faced the Englishman when he sailed the five oceans of the world. The object of the recurrent and never-ceasing care for a territorial ruler in Central Europe was the forest. After a thousand years of chopping and cutting, 27 per cent of the area of Germany is still covered by forests. More than one quarter of a country where every square inch has been “cultivated,” furrowed, turned, is covered by trees even today. Forestry was a national concern for the German rulers. The notorious word “Kultur” carries, to begin with, the notion of Landeskultur, cultivation of the soil. A German thinks of planting trees whenever he hears the word “Kultur.” Trees take a long time to grow. It is this long period of cultivation that constitutes the outstanding privileges of a government’s economic policy as against that of the individual. The far-sightedness of a paternal government has protected the German woods. “Paternal” means being unmoved by immediate profits; “paternal” stands for patience and indifference to the incentives of the day. Sports, movies, radio, newspapers, take advantage of our childishness. The German individual State was rigid and austere, its people unswayed by the demagogue; it was paternal because it took thought for a long future. It restored the chief wealth of the soil: its trees. For a poor, sandy, rainy and foggy land, it is the greatest of all services to foresee and discount the results of any waste far in advance. In a rich country waste is less disastrous. In a poor district, where tomorrow is as poor as today, any encroachment of today upon tomorrow leads to destruction. . . .

The likeness of man in all his dignity to a tree in the forest is an everlasting German concept. (Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Out of Revolution, 423-424)

The forest is an eternal task, never a garden, never a desert. It bears fruit, but never for the man who plants it. Always it asks for patience and thrift, and prays to be spared from greed, haste, or carelessness. (Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Out of Revolution, 426)

In Numbers 2 it is significant that God’s people constitute an army arrayed around him. But it is also significant that this army is constituted of households. The church is central, the one family that will endure forever; but the earthly family is part of what serves to guard it.

If everyone is special, then no one is special. That’s because to be special is a competitive thing, often fleshly. It isn’t nothing. But spiritual things are not zero-sum. If all God’s people are holy, then so they are.

Man is Adam, earth, dirt. I was listening to some old DC Talk this week and it struck me that the range of skin color and earth color is roughly the same.

Trust me, you should buy yourself every Jamie Soles album:

Evangelicals taught this trick to the world by our obsession with introspection and sincerity and humility. But salvation is by faith in king Jesus and not faith in our own sincerity; navel gazing is a fool’s errand:

Written by Scott Moonen

October 24, 2021 at 2:05 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-42)

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It seems to me that there are at least four strong lines of religious-conscience arguments against vaccination requirements that most people can embrace: my conscience simply does not allow me to participate in: (1) unethical and criminal behavior related to fetal cell use; (2) unethical and criminal approach to rapid approval of novel-experimental treatments; (3) leading to the great potential for personal debasement and self-harm; and (4) unethical and criminal mandates to participate in treatment.

The French word for doctor is medicin. The first gift of the healing arts is the Hippocratic healer himself. Let’s bring back a personal and individualized approach to medicine.

My pastor Duane Garner writes:

The Church has utterly failed to disciple this nation, and the chaos and calamity around us is the fruit of our failures. While I’m thankful for the bravery and fortitude of the airline pilots presently, that opportunity to stand strong was first presented to pastors who failed miserably. Rather than leading with a bold faith, they catechized their congregations in fear and capitulation, and we are still reaping the consequences. I’m thankful for deliverance from wherever the Lord chooses to send it, but boy did the Church drop the ball.

Reading through Leviticus this week, I’m struck by a few thoughts:

  • Leviticus 24 — I’ve held in my mind the thought that bread, beer, wine used at the tabernacle were the work of Israel’s hands. But the oil and light being fruit of their labor strikes me here. We are to live lives of continual light-giving.
  • Leviticus 25 — The rite of purification from death (Numbers 19) has a third day and a seventh day baptism. Back in Leviticus 19 we saw the land had three years of rest, and now there is a seventh year rest. Perhaps God is purging the land of the Canaanite death-filth. It’s also striking to me that God’s miraculous provision of manna (six days on, one day off) now continues in the fruitfulness of the land (six years on, one year of rest). As God’s people mature, his provision for them involves no less faith on their part, but more faith-filled work. Yet it is still His doing.
  • Leviticus 26 — maybe we can make an argument for firstborn infant baptism here, which of course we extend to all of our children.

Numbers 10:35 is what happens when God’s people march out from his table:

So it was, whenever the ark set out, that Moses said:​​​
“Rise up, O LORD!
​​Let Your enemies be scattered,
​​And let those who hate You flee before You.”

It’s interesting to me that, at least in the TR, Jude 1 speaks of the Father sanctifying us.

The Pugcast crew talked about pilgrimage recently. They missed a great opportunity to highlight the centrality of worship: the Lord’s weekly service is the great pilgrimage; the great fulfillment of the feasts; and the great time when the firmament does not merely grow thinnest, but we actually ascend up into it. This is all made possible because worship is in the Spirit. “You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,” &c.

I got a kick out of this XKCD. But isn’t this true of most disciplines, for example, Tolkien studies and the Bible? To be honest, until today I did not know that the cats of Queen Beruthiel were not a cursed problem anymore. But I have just now discovered the vexed problem of knowing exactly how it was significant that there were nine black cats.

Too many good tweets to share this week. Instead I’ll simply say insist that, if you are reading this, you follow Jack Posobiec, Michael O’Fallon, and Boniface Option.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 16, 2021 at 10:02 am