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Jesu, Juva

Archive for the ‘Miscellany’ Category

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-15)

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More Schmemann:

It sounds like a paradox, but the basic religion that is being preached and accepted as the only means of overcoming secularism is in reality a surrender to secularism. This surrender can take place—and actually does—in all Christian confessions . . . . For the surrender consists not in giving up creeds, traditions, symbols and customs (of all this the secular man, tired of his functional office, is sometimes extremely fond), but in accepting the very function of religion in terms of promoting the secular value of help, be it help in character building bpeace of mind, or assurance of eternal salvation. It is in this “key” that religion is preached to, and accepted by, millions and millions of average believers today. . . . But if this is religion, its decline will continue . . . (109)

The Church is the sacrament of the Kingdom—not because she possesses divinely instituted acts called “sacraments,” but because first of all she is the possibility given to man to see in and through this world the “world to come,” to see and to “live” it in Christ. It is only when in the darkness of this world we discern that Christ has already “filled all things with Himself” that these things, whatever they may be, are revealed and given to us full of meaning and beauty. A Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him. And this joy transforms all his human plans and programs, decisions and actions, making all his mission the sacrament of the world’s return to Him who is the life of the world. (113)

Other choice quotes from the upcoming conference readings:

Order is an outward thing. Be it as good as it may, it can fall into misuse. Then it is no longer order but disorder. So no Order has any intrinsic worth of its own, as hitherto the Popish Order has been thought to have. But all order has its life, worth, strength, and virtue in right use; else it is worthless and fit for nothing. God’s Spirit and grace be with us all. Amen. (Luther, “The German Mass and Order of Divine Service”)

We also had to read Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry:

Baptism is an unrepeatable act. Any practice which might be interpreted as “re–baptism” must be avoided. (4)

Churches which have insisted on a particular form of baptism or which have had serious questions about the authenticity of other churches’ sacraments and ministries have at times required persons coming from other church traditions to be baptized before being received into full communicant membership. As the churches come to fuller mutual understanding and acceptance of one another and enter into closer relationships in witness and service, they will want to refrain from any practice which might call into question the sacramental integrity of other churches or which might diminish the unrepeatability of the sacrament of baptism. (5)

In order to overcome their differences, believer baptists and those who practise infant baptism should reconsider certain aspects of their practices. The first may seek to express more visibly the fact that children are placed under the protection of God’s grace. The latter must guard themselves against the practice of apparently indiscriminate baptism and take more seriously their responsibility for the nurture of baptized children to mature commitment to Christ. (6)

This reminds me of Poythress’s very helpful article, “Indifferentism and Rigorism.”

Calvin has an interesting take on God’s exercising his sovereignty in the world by means of angels. From his commentary on Ezekiel 1:

. . . it seems to me sufficiently plain, that God signifies angelic inspiration by the four cherubim, and extends it to the four regions of the earth. Now:, as it is equally clear that no creature moves by itself, but that all motions are by the secret, instinct of God, therefore each cherub has four heads, as if it were said that angels administer God’s empire not in one part of the world only, but everywhere; and next, that all creatures are so impelled as if they were joined together with angels themselves. . . . Since, then, there exists no fixed condition of the world, but continual changes are discerned, the Prophet joins the wheels to the angels, as if he would assert that no changes occur by chance, but depend upon some agency, viz., that of angels; not that they move things by their inherent power, but because they are, as we have said, God’s hands. . . . [T]he Stoics fancied that fate arose from what they called a connection of causes. But God here teaches his people far otherwise, viz., that the changes of the world are so connected together, that all motion depends upon the angels, whom he guides according to his will.

In biblical theology, the eye is often the source of light. This potentially sheds light on exposing the works of darkness:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:​

​​“Awake, you who sleep,
​​Arise from the dead,
​​And Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:8–14, NKJV)

The King James Version instead uses “reprove.” The eyes are not just a source of light but the organs of judgment. Instead of merely speaking, the eyes declare.

Does your world view deny to the government the possibility of evangelical obedience?

Written by Scott Moonen

April 9, 2021 at 7:12 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-14)

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O sacred Heel sore wounded!

Part of the assigned reading for the upcoming Theopolis regional course on worship is Schmemann’s For the Life of the World. Searching for an audiobook, I was pleased to find that Ken Myers recorded it recently! Peter Leithart says that he rereads this book regularly. Speaking of re–reads, Doug Wilson places That Hideous Strength high on his own list.

Some choice quotes from Schmemann:

Sunday therefore was not a “sacred” day to be “observed” apart from all other days and opposed to them. It did not interrupt time with a “timeless” mystical ecstasy. It was not a “break” in an otherwise meaningless sequence of days and nights. By remaining one of the ordinary days, and yet by revealing itself through the Eucharist as the eighth and first day, it gave all days their true meaning. (52)

“There is but one sadness,” said Leon Bloy, “that of not being a saint.” (54)

This brings to mind James Jordan’s great statement that a saint is someone who has sanctuary access, access to the feast.

We are not “nice” Christians come apart from the ugly world. If we do not stand precisely as representatives of this world, as indeed the world itself, if we do not bear the whole burden of this day, our “piety” may still be pious, but it is not Christian. (61)

Schmemann makes much of the fixed day, the statu die. This makes me reflect on Paul’s sermon in Athens somewhat differently:

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30–31, NKJV)

There are layers to the day of the Lord. The church’s worship on the day of the Lord is simultaneously an announcement of the judgment of the world and a visitation of that Lord to his house, but also a temporary suspension of full judgment thanks to the priestly intercessory ministry of the church. But God’s bride calls upon him both for mercy and judgment, and God will not humor hardened hearts indefinitely:

At the banquet of wine the king said to Esther, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!” Then Esther answered and said, “My petition and request is this: If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.” (Esther 5:6–8, NKJV)

Nathan Zekveld helpfully asks: are we instituting new purity laws, writing that, “As a pastor, I have seen increasingly that people need in-person worship and contact.”

​This people honors Me with their lips,
​​But their heart is far from Me.
​And in vain they worship Me,
​​Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (Mark 7, Matthew 15, Isaiah 29)

Similar comments from a Russian Orthodox priest:

In Scripture, hiding one’s face always means, shame, distrust, unfavorable position, division and separation. Our Loving God has invited us to the feast, and if we come to the Lord’s Supper with fear that He will infect us with any kind of disease, and we demonstrate it by wearing a mask, we will insult Him in front of everyone.

I appreciated J. D. Vance’s recounting of his conversion and Mark Horne’s reflections on kingship and the crown of thorns.

James Jordan reminds us that God’s ways are higher than our ways:

Christ has created a heavenly host, and “host” means “army,” to accomplish His purpose of transforming the world. That army does not consist only of “sharp young single men and women.” Nor does it consist only of ostensibly “epistemologically self-conscious thoroughly Reformed theonomic postmillennialists.” This army includes mentally retarded people, feeble old people, hurt people, suicidal people, weak people, sinful people, people with minds warped by error, and much, much more. To the human eye, this army is not much to look at. It doesn’t look very tough compared to the kind of militant activism the communist party can sometimes command. It may not measure up to Douglas Hyde’s Dedication and Leadership, and it may not conform to the latest standards of “discipleship.” It is, however, the only army God has ever called into being. All the rest are only substitutes and counterfeits.

Last Saturday we were surprised to find one of our hives swarming, less than a month after installing it from nucleus! Asher did an outstanding job capturing it, and now we have a third hive. This week we scrambled to get them well established as well as preparing to give our other hives some more elbow room.

Which meant assembling many of these:

Written by Scott Moonen

April 2, 2021 at 3:04 pm

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

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-9)

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Some reflections inspired by Leithart, Meyers, and Roberts’ conversation “What is a Prophet“—Every visionary house of God is a blueprint from God that guides the work and worship of his people. We naturally think of this with the plans for the tabernacle that Moses received from God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 26:30) and the plans David received from God for the temple (1 Chronicles 28:19); there was a physical building to be built in order for worship to begin. But this is equally true of Ezekiel’s visionary temple (a picture of God’s church in the return from exile) and John’s visionary temple (a picture of God’s church in the new covenant), even though these temples do not have a direct physical manifestation. God gave these visions to Ezekiel and to John not merely to inspire his people to trust and marvel at the work he would do in these new covenants, but to instruct his people in the work that they must do; they are simultaneously prophecy and commission. Returning to Ezekiel 43:

“Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, all its forms and all its laws. Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them. This is the law of the temple: The whole area surrounding the mountaintop is most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple.” (Ezekiel 43:10–12, NKJV)

Thus: if the church’s worship does not immanentize the book of Revelation, then we ought to be ashamed.

It is also fascinating to think that the way a nation and church treats its prophets is how God will ultimately treat that nation, unless it repents. If you throw faithful pastors into prison, then you are surely destined for bondage.

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

From this week’s To the Word reading:

Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah. So Asa went out against him, and they set the troops in battle array in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried out to the LORD his God, and said, “LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!”So the LORD struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. (2 Chronicles 14:9–12)

Apropos being snatched from a snare, our church submitted this contribution to the Psalm 124 project. As Revelation shows us, worship is warfare!

It is well known that no such bricolage is complete without an impromptu aerial edition:

Silencing the enemy and avenger!

Girard anticipated by several centuries:

We believe and confess that Jesus Christ,
in whom the law is fulfilled,
has by his shed blood
put an end to every other shedding of blood,
which anyone might do or wish to do
in order to atone or satisfy for sins. (Belgic Confession, Article 34)

If ever there was proof that the emperor had no clothes:

Written by Scott Moonen

February 26, 2021 at 5:38 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-8)

with one comment

This week’s readings in the revised common lectionary included 2 Kings 2:1–12 and Mark 9:2–9. Elijah accomplishes an exodus from Israel, and Elisha receives a double portion (the firstborn’s portion) of Elijah’s spirit. Jesus meets with Elijah, and we know from the parallel passage in Luke 9:31 that Jesus speaks of his exodus which was our salvation. And the church, through her apostles, saw him when he ascended. Thus, we receive the firstborn portion of his Spirit.

This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:​

​‘​The LORD said to my Lord,
​​“Sit at My right hand,
​​Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:32–36, NKJV)

Wisdom is a qualification for church office:

Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. (Acts 6:3, NKJV)

I have for some time had a chuckle at how we used to sing “Blow the trumpet in Zion” with an attitude of rejoicing rather than alarm. Clearly the context in Joel 2 is one of alarm: “Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble . . . Who can endure it? . . . Turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. . .” The army referred to is not God’s people, but is sent to chasten his people. Joel himself cries “Alas! . . . O LORD, to you I cry out.”

And yet, it is a great relief to the faithful that God’s church is purified. Those who are hidden in him need not fear his discipline. And the result of God’s judgment is rejoicing and great blessing: “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice . . . be glad then, you children of Zion, ​​and rejoice in the LORD your God . . . And it shall come to pass afterward​​ that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” And after judgment has begun at the house of God, he will vindicate his people by judging the nations: “I will also gather all nations, ​​and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; ​​and I will enter into judgment with them there​​ on account of my people, my heritage Israel.”

God’s people pray for and welcome his judgment (e.g., Psalm 7), rejoicing in it together with all of creation, as in Psalm 96 and 1 Chronicles 16:

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult, let the sea and its fullness thunder.
Let the field be glad and all that is in it, then shall all the trees of the forest joyfully sing
before the LORD, for He comes, He comes to judge the earth.
He judges the world in justice and peoples in His faithfulness. (Psalm 96:11–14, Robert Alter)

Asher and I attended the Wake County Republican party Fuquay region meeting last weekend. In spite of this being an odd–numbered year, there are 44 positions of various kinds within Wake county that will be up for election.

Public opinion! I don’t know how sociologists define it, but it seems obvious to me that it can only consist of interacting individual opinions, freely expressed and independent of government or party opinion.

So long as there is no independent public opinion in our country, there is no guarantee that the extermination of millions and millions for no good reason will not happen again, that it will not begin any night—perhaps this very night. (Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 3, 92)

I ran across the phrase “coincidence theorist” this week. I like it.

And so,
all who withdraw from the church or do not join it
act contrary to God’s ordinance. (Belgic Confession, Article 28)

Written by Scott Moonen

February 19, 2021 at 10:23 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-7)

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Mark Horne charges us not to have a merely personal relationship with Jesus:

In both the West and the East, people commonly think of the being they call “God” as some sort of vague ghostly force which cannot be approached except through some sort of vague, internal—often called “spiritual”—contemplation. At best, this “God” is considered personal, and the “spiritual” exercise involves verbal communication—prayer. Nevertheless, as important as prayer is, it is hardly an adequate way, by itself, to relate to a real person. Believing in such a God too often resembles a child’s imaginary friend.

In contrast to this popular view, the God presented in the Hebrew–Christian Scriptures is a real person who has real relationships with human beings. More than that, He is a great king over the whole universe (which He made in the first place). People who are rightly related to Him are said to be members of His kingdom, citizens of His commonwealth. . .

I want Christians to know so that they confess the truth: “I have a public relationship with Jesus Christ.”

I found this passage from Dinesen striking:

Virginie looked hard at Elishama, her dark eyes shining. “I suppose that nobody could insult you even if they tried hard?”

Elishama thought her remark over. “No,” he said, “they could not. Why should I let them?”

“And if I told you,” she said, “to go out of my house, you would just go?”

“Yes, I should go,” he said. “It is your house. But when I had gone you would sit and think of the things for which you had turned me out. It is when people are told their own thoughts that they think they are being insulted. But why should not their own thoughts be good enough for other people to tell them?” (Isak Dinesen, “The Immortal Story”)

It is striking on its own as an observation of human nature. But it is doubly striking because Elishama is a serpent–tempter here who is seeking to override Virginie’s conscience. It is her reaction rather than his that is the righteous one.

I don’t always agree with Alan Jacobs but he is always a thought–provoking read. Here he is reflecting on grace and Girardian dynamics:

I think most of our projects of reconciliation, when they exist at all, have it backwards. They want a long penitence at the end of which the offended parties may or may not forgive. I think the Christian account says that forgiveness given and accepted is where reconciliation begins. So if we say we are Christians and want reconciliation but do not put grace, mercy, and forgiveness front and center in our public statements, then we’re operating as the world operates, not as the ekklesia is commanded to. 

Almost four years ago I wrote: “When a society rejects the Christian account of who we are, it doesn’t become less moralistic but far more so, because it retains an inchoate sense of justice but has no means of offering and receiving forgiveness. The great moral crisis of our time is not, as many of my fellow Christians believe, sexual licentiousness, but rather vindictiveness. Social media serve as crack for moralists: there’s no high like the high you get from punishing malefactors. But like every addiction, this one suffers from the inexorable law of diminishing returns. The mania for punishment will therefore get worse before it gets better.”

There is very much going on in Ezekiel 43:15. In this one verse, we see God’s altar named a hearth, and a mountain, and that with four horns. James Jordan writes:

Ezekiel describes an altar in the form of a stepped pyramid. The top section is called “the Mountain of God,” and the platform on top for the fire is called the “hearth.” A literal translation of Ezekiel 43:15 is: “And the Mountain of God: four cubits (high); and from the hearth four horns extend upwards.” While the altar in the Tabernacle did not have this shape, the statement in Ezekiel clearly expresses the theology of the altar (see Diagram 12.8). When God appeared on Mount Sinai, the top was covered with fire and smoke (Exodus 19: 18). We can hardly fail to see the visual association of this with the burning sacrifices on the bronze altar, and the incense on the golden altar. Moreover, altars for sacrifice were generally built on the tops of mountains before the Tabernacle was set up (cf. Genesis 22:9), and during the interregnum between the dissolution of the Tabernacle and the building of the Temple (cf. 1 Samuel 9:12). Thus, the association of altar with holy mountain is fairly pervasive. (James Jordan, Through New Eyes, 158–159)

I introduced the kids to Patrick this week:

Written by Scott Moonen

February 13, 2021 at 8:56 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-6)

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I read and greatly enjoyed Dinesen’s “Babette’s Feast.” I love the tenderness that she shows towards each of her characters. It is one of those transcendent stories that is hard to read aloud without getting misty eyed.

Ron DeSantis is on a roll:

Marxism is the opiate of the masses, fed to them by fascism. Actual fascism, mind you. But see also: Tu quoque.

God is sharpening the antithesis, testing to see whether his church and her shepherds will stand loyal to him and contra mundum. And this is in part a result of our failures to do so until now. Such times lend clarity to matters of first importance.

“And it shall come to pass at that time
​​That I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
​​And punish the men
​​Who are settled in complacency,
Who say in their heart,
​‘​The LORD will not do good,
​​Nor will He do evil.’
​​Therefore their goods shall become booty,
​​And their houses a desolation;
​​They shall build houses, but not inhabit them;
​​They shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine.” (Zephaniah 1:12–13)

Such times inevitably contract our sphere of cooperation outside the church. In all times the church never cooperates or sympathizes with: serpents and demons; accusers of the bretheren; scapegoaters; Amalekites and Canaanites; worshippers of Ashtoreth and Moloch; Jezebel; and the N. I. C. E.

Praise God for faithful Lutherans who recognize the antithesis:

And don’t forget that God not only gave us the imprecatory Psalms, but he also commanded us to sing them (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16).

Scott: What is distinctive about the space bar?
Ivy: Oh! There are no distinctions between words without it!
Scott: Oh. That’s much better than what I was thinking: the drinks are out of this world.

It’s been a long time since I used a trackball. Sometimes I still miss my old Trackman Vista:

If you have the thing on the right, you want to get yourself the thing on the left. It’s a Lock-Jaw collar.

Written by Scott Moonen

February 6, 2021 at 8:47 am