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Jesu, Juva

Archive for the ‘Quotations’ Category

By faith, not by sight

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I read and enjoyed Gaffin’s By Faith, Not by Sight recently. I think that he could have gone a little farther towards finding multi-perspectival resolutions, but I am generally very appreciative of the book. Some choice quotes:

Since the goal of redemption is union with the risen Lord, there seems little doubt that, if Paul has a center to his order of salvation, it is this doctrine. When other applied blessings, such as justification or sanctification, are made central, there are inevitably deleterious consequences for the Christian life, whereby incipient forms of antinomianism and legalism creep in. For example, a certain Lutheran view that justification precedes sanctification, so that it causes union with Christ and sanctification, ends up attributing to justification a renovative/transformative element. The notion that one applied benefit can cause another applied benefit has always perplexed me. But when union with Christ structures the whole of applied redemption, the aforementioned errors are dealt with better. This has to do with the fact that Christ’s person, not simply his work or his applied benefits, must have the preeminence. Indeed, the gift of Christ’s person is a greater gift to us than his benefits. As many of our finest divines have vigorously argued, there exists a priority of Christ’s person over his work. Union with Christ helps us to keep this salient fact in mind. We are not simply recipients of his benefits; we also belong to him. (Mark Jones, Foreword, p. x)

One important methodological consideration is that, with all due attention being given to his immediate historical context, including relevant extracanonical texts and materials, in interpreting [Paul’s] letters the context that is not only primary but privileged is the canonical context. (10)

All along I have been speaking of Paul’s “theology” and referring to him as a “theologian.” For many, that will not be a problem, but this way of speaking warrants some clarification, since for some it is questionable at best. The perceived danger here is that we will, as it could be put, “drag Paul down to our level.” . . . What offsets this leveling danger is appreciating Paul’s identity as an apostle, at least if we understand apostleship properly. . . . Regarding [his] authority, the apostle is as Christ himself.

Paul the theologian, then, is Paul the apostle. That points to the God-breathed origin and authority of his teaching, its character as the word of God. It highlights the radical, categorical difference there is between his theology and post-apostolic theology. His teaching, along with the teaching of the other biblical writers, is Spirit-borne, canonical, and foundational. (14-15)

Increasingly over the course of the last century, to fill out this brief historical sketch, a new consensus concerning Paul emerged across a broad front in biblical studies. This happened in tandem with a reassessment of the kingdom proclamation of Jesus. It is now widely maintained that the controlling focus of Paul’s theology, as for Jesus before him, is eschatology—or what is equivalent for some, redemptive history (historia salutis). Specifically, the center of his theology has been recognized to be the death and resurrection of Christ in their eschatological significance.

In my view, this basic conclusion is sound and, by now, well established. (29)

The center of Paul’s soteriology, then, at the center of his theology as a whole, is neither justification by faith nor sanctification, neither the imputation of Christ’s righteousness nor the renewing work of the Spirit. To draw that conclusion, however, is not to decenter justification (or sanctification), as if justification is somehow less important for Paul than it is for the Reformers. Justification is supremely important; it is absolutely crucial in Paul’s “gospel of salvation” (cf. Eph. 1:13). If his teaching on justification is denied or distorted, it ceased to be gospel; there is no longer saving “good news” for guilty sinners. But no matter how close justification is to the heart of Paul’s gospel, in our salvation there is an antecedent consideration, a reality that is deeper, more fundamental, more decisive, more crucial: Christ and our union with him, the crucified and resurrected, the exalted, Christ. Union with Christ by faith—that is the essence of Paul’s ordo salutis.

At the opening of Book 3 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion and controlling all that he has to say about “the way” of salvation—that is, its personal, individual appropriation, including what he will eventually say about justification—Calvin writes, “First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us.” (49-50)

[Some have observed] that Paul’s exhortations to the church as a whole, his ethics of the Christian life in their entirety, can be summed up in the epigram, “Become what you are.” This is helpful, but by itself it carries a liability that can render it decidedly unhelpful (suggesting some form of personal autonomy), unless it is read with an all-encompassing Christological gloss, “Become what you are in Christ.” (80)

The point here is that “the path of good works runs not from man to God, says Paul, but from God to man.” [quoting Berkouwer] Ultimately, in the deepest sense, for Paul “our good works” are not ours, but God’s. They are his work, begun and continuing in us, his being “at work in us, both to will and to do what pleases him” (Phil. 2:13). That is why, without any tension, a faith that rests in God the Savior is a faith that is restless to do his will. (88)

On the coherence between [faith and works], it is hard to improve on what J. Gresham Machen writes aphoristically, “As the faith which James condemns is different than the faith that Paul commends, so also the works which James commends are different than the works which Paul condemns.” (118)

Written by Scott Moonen

November 28, 2020 at 1:22 pm

Enchanted

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‘Cause I can see the world is charged
It’s glimmering with promises
Written in a script of stars
And dripping from the prophet’s lips.

Andrew Peterson, “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone

Written by Scott Moonen

November 8, 2020 at 5:15 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (17)

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From this week’s reading:

May YHWH bless you and keep you!
May YHWH shine his face upon you and favor you!
May YHWH lift up his face toward you and grant you shalom! (Numbers 6:24-26, Everett Fox)

James Jordan observes this is the only scripturally commanded liturgical blessing (there are of course commanded prophetic blessings, like that of Balaam).

Arise (to attack), O YHWH,
That your enemies may scatter,
That those who hate you may flee before you!
. . .
Return, O YHWH,
(you of) the myriad divisions of Israel! (Numbers 10:35-36, Everett Fox)

Duane Garner points out in surveying Revelation that Israel used the same trumpets as a call to worship and also as a call to war. Worship is warfare!

YHWH spoke to Moshe, saying:
Make yourself two trumpets of silver,
of hammered-work you are to make them;
they are to be for you for calling-together the community
and for (signaling) the marching of the camps. (Numbers 10:1-2, Everett Fox)

I now know that a writer cannot afford to give in to feelings of rage, disgust, or contempt. Did you answer someone in a temper? If so, you didn’t hear him out and lost track of his system of opinions. You avoided someone out of disgust—and a completely unknown personality slipped out of your ken—precisely the type you would have needed someday. But, however tardily, I nonetheless caught myself and realized I had always devoted my time and attention to people who fascinated me and were pleasant, who engaged my sympathy, and that as a result I was seeing society like the Moon, always from one side.

But just as the moon, as it swings slightly back and forth (“libration”), shows us a portion of its dark side too—so that chamber of monstrosities disclosed people unknown to me. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 2, 268)

Nassim Taleb would approve:

Over the years I have had much occasion to ponder this word, the intelligentsia. We are all very fond of including ourselves in it—but you see not all of us belong. In the Soviet Union this word has acquired a completely distorted meaning. They began to classify among the intelligentsia all those who don’t work (and are afraid to) with their hands. . . . And yet the truth is that not one of these criteria permits a person to be classified in the intelligentsia. If we do not want to lose this concept, we must not devalue it. The intellectual is not defined by professional pursuit and type of occupation. Nor are good upbringing and a good family enough in themselves to produce an intellectual. An intellectual is a person whose interests in and preoccupation with the spiritual side of life are insistent and constant and not forced by external circumstances, even flying in the face of them. An intellectual is a person whose thought is nonimitative. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 2, 280-281)

With apologies to Keller and Piper (my friend Mark Horne has a very helpful response to Piper), it can’t be simultaneously true that voting is important but also that reasonable Christians may differ about almost every possible vote. At this moment, the fact of Christians differing does not imply its necessity. Rather, it means that many Christians are in want of discipleship. It is not true that it is debatable which of the two ways (largely) in front of us have a reasonable possibility of enacting neighbor love (Keller) or destruction (Piper). Although I appreciate them, Keller and Piper are too kind to a great and demonic evil. By demonic, of course I mean things that are so evil they did not even enter into God’s mind:

I do not want you to be participants with demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20 ESV)

But the way this is going down is also evil. Maybe Romans 13 will help us know what to do.

Note also that Christian discipleship is different from how the world works. Christian discipleship is imitative, and is generative of more rule and dominion. Worldly rule is not imitative (do as I say, not as I do), and it is restrictive not only of others’ leadership and dominion, but even of basic agency. Worldly rule treats adults as perpetual children; Christian discipleship graduates baptized infants into dominion-wielding adults who are fruitful and multiply.

For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” (1 Corinthians 3:19 ESV)

It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. (James Madison)

There are different ways the world has of going about this. In the past, tyranny might be concentrated in a few individuals, but today’s soft despotism is much more diffuse and sMothering. Reaching back four years, Alastair Roberts had profound insights into one facet of what is driving this enormous shift in the nature of discourse, not only in politics, but in the business world and even the church. Of course, as Anthony Bradley observes, women need not be present in the room in order for them to dominate the conversation.

There are complicated bedfellows in this discourse. At a populist level, egalitarianism is now seen as an unquestioned simple good. On the one side, the radical left has long been driving this as part of their larger agenda, thus revealing that the principalities and powers are behind it. On the other side, it is enabled in the church by thin complementarians who limit Scripture’s voice to the spheres of home and church, and who therefore could agree with Roberts’ observations but not his value judgment.

I mentioned Protestant resistance theory last week. Apropos this, my friend Brad points to Trewhalla’s recent book, The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates; and the inimitable Glenn Sunshine is publishing a new survey on this topic, Slaying Leviathan. So many books, so little time!

This was a cute parable:

I say it is cute because Terry and Wrath have their hermeneutics all wrong; cars are only the tip of the iceberg. The real question is this: would you give up your smartphone, Netflix, Prime, Spotify, and your college degree if you could bring sixty-one million babies back? Yes, Amen!

I know that Wrath would heartily agree with me, though:

I’ve been thinking about prophetic speech lately. I wonder that cessationists have any problem with prophecy. We all believe that the preaching of the word of God is the word of God, and yet no one is worried whether sermons are an attack on the inspiration of scripture.

I’ve mentioned before Jordan’s observation that the chief role of prophet seems to be to stand in the heavenly council as God’s friend, receiving revelation from him (Amos 3:7) and wrestling with him (as Abraham the prophet—Genesis 20:7, Moses, Habakkuk, etc.). The prophet then goes out into the world to speak God’s new creation into existence. Often this involves teaching people how repentance will enable them to pass through the death of the old creation into new life. I love how Toby Sumpter helps us to understand the book of Job as Job’s own maturation through suffering into prophethood.

There is a death of an era upon us; the old ways are no longer working, certainly outside the church, and in some ways within the church (to the extent we have become gnostic). God has given us the job of reflecting how to pass through to the other side, and how to bring as many as we can on our lifeboat-arks.

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (Jude 17–23 ESV)

The prophet thus must be a keen student of God and his word and his ways in the world. Speaking for myself, I have found James Jordan to be the single greatest teacher of the word. Through New Eyes is a good introduction, although his lectures are the real treasure trove. In the way of the world, René Girard and Edwin Friedman have been tremendously helpful to me in understanding human nature and relationships. Please comment to share what you have found helpful in these areas!

One other kind of prophecy seems to be simple singing, and we see this show up in several places in the Old Testament. I think this is the key to unlocking how 1 Corinthians 11 relates to 1 Corinthians 14 without resorting to extrabiblical supposition and handwaving. I hope to write on head coverings and silence in church at another time.

Considering God’s ways in the world, it’s reassuring to know that the wicked will eventually be caught in their own trap, will bite and devour one another. Plunderers may prosper for a time (here’s looking at you, Yelp), but unjust gain takes away the life of its possessors. I mention Yelp only as one small example:

You should listen to Mark Horne’s sermon on walking wise:

This is beautiful. Oktavist was a new term for me:

I forgot to mention that the Lutherans are doing good work in the public square too!

Written by Scott Moonen

October 24, 2020 at 10:25 am

A second childhood

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When all my days are ending
And I have no song to sing,
I think that I shall not be too old
To stare at everything;
As I stared once at a nursery door
Or a tall tree and a swing.

Wherein God’s ponderous mercy hangs
On all my sins and me,
Because He does not take away
The terror from the tree
And stones still shine along the road
That are and cannot be.

Men grow too old for love, my love,
Men grow too old for wine,
But I shall not grow too old to see
Unearthly daylight shine,
Changing my chamber’s dust to snow
Till I doubt if it be mine.

Behold, the crowning mercies melt,
The first surprises stay;
And in my dross is dropped a gift
For which I dare not pray:
That a man grow used to grief and joy
But not to night and day.

Men grow too old for love, my love,
Men grow too old for lies;
But I shall not grow too old to see
Enormous night arise,
A cloud that is larger than the world
And a monster made of eyes.

Nor am I worthy to unloose
The latchet of my shoe;
Or shake the dust from off my feet
Or the staff that bears me through
On ground that is too good to last,
Too solid to be true.

Men grow too old to woo, my love,
Men grow too old to wed;
But I shall not grow too old to see
Hung crazily overhead
Incredible rafters when I wake
And I find that I am not dead.

A thrill of thunder in my hair:
Though blackening clouds be plain,
Still I am stung and startled
By the first drop of the rain:
Romance and pride and passion pass
And these are what remain.

Strange crawling carpets of the grass,
Wide windows of the sky;
So in this perilous grace of God
With all my sins go I:
And things grow new though I grow old,
Though I grow old and die.

—G. K. Chesterton

HT: Paul Boccaccio

Written by Scott Moonen

October 11, 2020 at 2:31 pm

Posted in Poetry, Quotations

Antignostic

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Duane Garner resumed preaching through Revelation. From this week (I elided some words for brevity, but without ellipses):

The Revelation of Jesus confirms to these churches and these Christians in this context that they are on the right side of history, that they are behind the true king of the cosmos. Jesus is king, and Caeser isn’t.

We are in a very similar context today. It’s not our worship of Jesus that brings us in conflict in the sphere of our dealings with other people in our society. Nobody cares about that, it’s not a big deal: it’s our refusal to worship the gods of this age. When you are persecuted for being a Christian, it’s not going to be because you worship Jesus: it’s because you are refusing to bow down to the gods of this age.

If you’re going to be persecuted as a Christian, they’re not going to charge you with being a Christian. They are going to charge you with being a bigot, and a homophobe, and a racist. And as they carry you off, the rest of the evangelical world is going to be cheering, because obviously you are a bigot and a racist and a homophobe.

It’s not about Jesus, it’s not about worship of Jesus: it’s about not worshiping the gods of the age. This book is communicated to people in that same context. John is communicating the centrality and the almighty power of Jesus over all things. Jesus is over all things and Caesar isn’t. The book of Revelation does not teach about a Jesus who is uninvolved in world affairs.

A quiet, passive, internal Christianity is exactly what the kingdoms of this world want. Totalitarian regimes are incredibly compatible with a heart religion. If you want a heart religion that never works itself out in any significant way, if you want me–and–Jesus Christianity: the nations of the world are fine with that. The kind of church that is compatible with the modern state is the kind of church that’s content with sitting at home today. They’re content watching the internet, and they’re content using the Ritz crackers and the Gatorade for communion.

When the church believes that Jesus is not only the future king but the reigning and present king over everything right now, that’s when we come into conflict with the powers of our age.

Jesus deserves our embodied presence, our embodied worship and obedience. That’s when things start to heat up. And this book backs these Christians with a Jesus who is mighty, and victorious, who is regal, who is a conqueror: not just the king of your head or your heart, but the king of everything.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 6, 2020 at 5:58 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (14)

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My Soul Among Lions released some older tracks. I love this version of Psalm 23:

Here’s a free tip: if you are designing a screen that says “do not remove card,” make sure that the very next screen says “remove card.” The only change you should consider making to the screen in the meantime is to update some kind of progress meter.

Have you ever been near someone wearing a mask and smelled their breath as they talked to you? I have. True, it may have only been a stale mask. But either way, isn’t this a ridiculous charade?

[Ransom] was only too well aware that such resolutions might look very different when the moment came, but he felt an unwonted assurance that somehow or other he would be able to go through with it. It was necessary, and the necessary was always possible. (C. S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, 79)

Every Christian man is called to get involved in God’s work in some way. I like to think of it as going into “the family business.” (Richard Phillips, The Masculine Mandate, 49)

Too bad for Soros and Bloomberg (among many others):

When fire breaks out and reaches thorn-hedges, and a sheaf-stack or the standing-grain or the field is consumed,
he is to pay, yes, pay, he that caused the blaze to blaze up. (Exodus 22:5, Everett Fox)

In addition, fighting everywhere, all the time, is likely to distort God’s redemptive intention for the world. As we look at the unbelieving world, we should see it as that which the war is over, and not simply those whom we are fighting with. Who are we fighting against, and who are we fighting for? This is a war of liberation. We are fighting with the slave-masters over their slaves.

Our chief adversary is not flesh and blood. Our chief adversary is made up of principalities and powers, and is a world system that holds millions captive. If we get sucked down into the sin of personal malice, then we have actually been taken captive by the other side. We are not overcoming their ways of accusation, we are surrendering to them. (Doug Wilson, Rules for Reformers)

At the beginning of things, few people realize, or admit, where they are going:

The impression is left that the air of Solovki strangely mingled extreme cruelty with an almost benign incomprehension of where all this was leading, which Solovetsky characteristics were becoming the embryo of the great Archipelago and which were destined to dry up and wither in the bud. After all, the Solovetsky Islands people did not yet, generally speaking, firmly believe that the ovens of the Arctic Auschwitz had been lit right there and that its crematory furnaces had been thrown open to all who were ever brought there. (But, after all, that is exactly how it was!) People there were also misled by the fact that all their prison terms were exceedingly short: it was rare that anyone had a ten-year term, and even five was not found very often, and most of them were three, just three. And this whole cat-and-mouse trick of the law was still not understood: to pin down and let go, and pin down again and let go again. And that patriarchal failure to understand where everything was heading could not have failed entirely to influence the guards from among the prisoners also, and perhaps in a minor way the prison keepers themselves.

No matter how clear-cut the declarations of the class teaching, openly displayed and proclaimed everywhere, that the sole fate the enemy deserves is annihilation—still it was impossible to picture to oneself the annihilation of each concrete two-legged individual possessing hair, eyes, a mouth, a neck and shoulders. One could actually believe that classes were being destroyed, but the people who constituted these classes should be left, shouldn’t they? The eyes of Russians who had been brought up in other generous and vague concepts, like eyes seeing through badly prescribed eyeglasses, could in no wise read with exactitude the phrases of the cruel teaching. Not long before, apparently, there had been months and years of openly proclaimed terror—yet it was still impossible to believe!

Here, too, on the first islands of the Archipelago, was felt the instability of those checkered years of the middle twenties, when things were but poorly understood in the country as a whole. Was everything already prohibited? Or, on the contrary, were things only now beginning to be allowed? Age-old Russia still believed so strongly in rapturous phrases! And there were only a few prophets of gloom who had already figured things out and who knew when and how all this would be smashed into smithereens. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 2, 45–46)

It turns out that “fascist” has been a very malleable term for quite a long time:

“So you are the Fascists? Are all of you Fascists?” The approaching [prisoners] asked us hopefully. And having confirmed that yes, we were the Fascists—they immediately scurried off and left the scene. There was nothing else about us that interested them.

(We already knew, of course, that “the Fascists” was a nickname for the 58’s, introduced by the sharp-eyed thieves and very much approved of by the chiefs; previously they had well named the 58’s—KR’s [counter revolutionaries]. But then all that had grown stale, and a catchy label was needed.) (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 2, 169)

Written by Scott Moonen

October 3, 2020 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Quotations

Enough

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Brothers! People! Why has life been given you? In the deep, deaf stillness of midnight, the doors of the death cells are being swung open—and great–souled people are being dragged out to be shot. On all the railroads of the country this very minute, right now, people who have just been fed salt herring are licking their dry lips with bitter tongues. They dream of the happiness of stretching out one’s legs and of the relief one feels after going to the toilet. In Orotukan the earth thaws only in summer and only to the depth of three feet—and only then can they bury the bones of those who died during the winter. And you have the right to arrange your own life under the blue sky and the hot sun, to get a drink of water, to stretch, to travel wherever you like without a convoy. So what’s this about unwiped feet? And what’s this about a mother–in–law? What about the main thing in life, all its riddles? If you want, I’ll spell it out for you right now. Do not pursue what is illusory—property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life—don’t be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn after happiness; it is, after all, all the same: the bitter doesn’t last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. It is enough if you don’t freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don’t claw at your insides. If your back isn’t broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes see, and if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why? Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart—and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well. Do not hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in anger; after all, you simply do not know; it might be your last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted in their memory! (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1, 591–592)

Written by Scott Moonen

September 19, 2020 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Quotations

Metábasis eis állo génos (12)

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What is Canada doing right about forest management? Or addressing arson? Or both? Maybe all is well as long as Trudeau remains in power?

This was thought provoking:

Man, Peterson’s 12 Rules is not very good. His view of the world is that of a scared little boy. It’s this terrible brutal scary place but you’ve got to overcome your fear of it or you’ll be paralyzed. It makes sense that this would resonate with men primarily raised by women.

Raise your sons to be explorers, adventurers, overcomers, and conquerors. Tell them that though there is wildness and danger in this world, God still made it for us to subdue and rule.

There are “dragons” in the world… The mother says be careful, son. The father says bring back the head of a dragon, son.

— Michael Foster [1], [2], [3]

My mind immediately jumped to “This is my Father’s world.” We are sons of the king (Matthew 17:24ff) and heirs of this world (Romans 4:13). ND Wilson recently had similar bracing words (thanks to Brad for the find) on how we should live in 2020 or any year whatsoever.

I saw Trump compared to king Saul this week as a self-important godless failure. Perhaps Trump thinks of himself as a king David. (I suspect it’s a typical serpentine slander that there are many evangelicals who think of Trump as a David.) I think it is better to think of him as a potential Nebuchadnezzar or Pharaoh. We don’t trust in chariots or horses, but we can pray that God will send bad dreams, or use him to protect us from a Zedekiah or a famine.

Big Eva would have us believe it is a tortured question whether to serve Zedekiah or Nebuchadnezzar. (I realize all of the ways the analogy is imperfect, but let the reader understand.) After all, who is to say which chariot or horse God will use? (O Keller!) But it is only tortured if you love the glory that comes from man. Gotta appear thoughtful, and make sure your name is not in the papers for the Wrong Reasons™ (O Greear!). It’s going to keep getting worse, you know, all because we thought we should pay attention to the serpentine slander. That is a treadmill that keeps going faster and faster.

I’m so grateful that John MacArthur hasn’t paid attention to any of it. God is the one who checks to see if our hands and heart are clean, not the accuser.

Mark Horne was on Canon Calls this week to discuss the book of Proverbs and his recent book. Check it out.

I had a couple of occasions to revisit Matthew 18 this week. I’m freshly struck by the interconnectedness of this chapter on body life. It especially struck me that little children are present all the way up through verse 14. Although verses 3 and 4 invite us to expand the application beyond children, certainly the first application is to children. I was previously aware of that for verses 7–9, but not for verses 10–14; these two passages form a kind of mirror image to one another: don’t lead children into temptation, but preserve and protect them.

I hold that most passages and parables like this are to be read first as a critique of the shepherds of Israel. Thus, the leaders of Israel failed utterly in their role as shepherds to the children, and sheep, of Israel (see also Matthew 23:13–15). Moving to application, I’ve long held that verses 1–9 urge us to paedobaptism and paedocommunion. But I think this application continues into verses 10–14. So far from chasing down our little ones, evangelicalism has for a very long time been chasing them away from the table.

I remarked briefly on Biblical chronology last week. My reference to Paul’s 14 years is an insight from James Jordan, of course. I checked to see whether Jordan had anything to say about Tiberius or the 46 years, but found nothing. Interestingly, he did observe that there were likely 46 years between Josiah seeking God’s face (2 Chron 34:3) and the destruction of Jerusalem. If so, that is a neat mirror image to the 46 years in John 2.

I also mentioned Jephthah’s daughter. There is an interesting parallel in the story of Abraham and Isaac, where God commands Abraham to conduct just such an offering-up. God’s substitution for Isaac I think shapes how we want to read this word going forward into Jephthah’s case. I looked at the law for other connections, but in my brief search I found only mention of enemies devoted to God (destroyed) or gifts (which are redeemed).

I finished Leithart’s Theopolitan Reading. One more quote:

If you don’t know Adam thoroughly, you won’t spot the meaningful variations on the theme. You won’t recognize Noah as an improved Adam. You won’t realize that Yahweh’s promises to make Abraham “fruitful” is a promise to fulfill Adam’s vocation in Abraham’s seed. You won’t see the Adamic features of Aaron the priest. You won’t sense that Solomon has what Adam doesn’t, namely, knowledge of good and evil. You won’t recognize the prophets as Adams who have reached a stage of maturity that Adam never reached.

Most importantly, if you misconstrue how Jesus is the Last Adam, you’ll miss the heart of the gospel. You might think Jesus comes to whisk us from earth to heaven. In fact, the gospel presents Jesus as the Last Adam, who has fulfilled the human vocation and is now fulfilling it on earth, by His Spirit, through the church. If your palate isn’t trained to savor the Adams of the Bible, you won’t have any good sense of who you are: a priest, king, and prophet, co-member of a community of priests, kings, and prophets joined to the great Priest, King, and Prophet. (93)

Written by Scott Moonen

September 18, 2020 at 10:36 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (8)

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A week at the beach with cousins:

This afforded some time for Solzhenitsyn:

But there is a limit, and beyond it one is no longer willing, one finds it too repulsive, to be a reasonable little rabbit. And that is the limit beyond which rabbits are enlightened by the common understanding that all rabbits are foredoomed to become only meat and pelts, and that at best, therefore, one can gain only a postponement of death and not life in any case. That is when one wants to shout: “Curse you, hurry up and shoot!”

It was this particular feeling of rage which took hold of Vlasov even more intensely during his forty-one days of waiting for execution. In the Ivanovo Prison they had twice suggested that he write a petition for pardon, but he had refused.

But on the forty-second day they summoned him to a box where they informed him that the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet had commuted the supreme measure of punishment to twenty years of imprisonment in corrective-labor camps with disenfranchisement for five additional years.

The pale Vlasov smiled wryly, and even at that point words did not fail him:

“It is strange. I was condemned for lack of faith in the victory of socialism in our country. But can even Kalinin himself believe in it if he thinks camps will still be needed in our country twenty years from now?” (The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1, 455)

After all, we have gotten used to regarding as valor only valor in war (or the kind that’s needed for flying in outer space), the kind which jingle-jangles with medals. We have forgotten another concept of valorcivil valor. And that’s all our society needs, just that, just that, just that! That’s all we need and that’s exactly what we haven’t got. (The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1, 462)

I haven’t found a video with all three verses, but isn’t this deeply wonderful:

Thanks to Uri Brito for the find. I must say, this is far better than Toto’s version, which unfortunately is making the rounds of my household.

Isn’t it interesting that we love the beginning of Psalm 139 but not so much the end?

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Yahweh?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies. (Psalm 139:19–22)

Something is out of balance if we struggle to find appropriate objects for this prayer, or, worse, struggle to see it as appropriate at all. Somewhat related, I was reflecting on Ruth this week:

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16 ESV)

Isn’t it remarkable that conversion and loyalty to God is inseparable from conversion and loyalty to God’s people? Ruth and Naomi remind me as well of of Jacob’s blessing Pharaoh in spite of the few and evil days of his life. Isn’t it equally remarkable that these testimonies of God’s faithfulness and purpose in suffering would result in robust conversion?

Sadly, in days when suffering and sacrifice are rare, a husband is not always a protection against this:

But refuse to enroll younger widows . . . They learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. (1 Timothy 5:11–13 ESV)

Fascinating: the lost colony was never lost, just not found.

Way too many good tweets this week to do a practical roundup. You should follow: Hans Fiene, Michael Foster, Andrew Isker, Alex Berenson.

If a church sees new visitors during this season of rona, is it really wise to encourage them to return to their original home when it is all over? Why would you encourage someone to return to shepherds who practically abandoned them? Related, I wonder if the church is experiencing a rise in separations and divorces in this year of spiritual distancing. Body must body!

Also related, it seems to me that we have developed today a functional theology of the “real absence” of Jesus at his covenant meal. The Lord’s supper is no longer seen as an entry into the heavenly marriage supper, nor even a joyful and eucharistic foretaste of it. This explains why the supper is often so bland and solemn and infrequent. But it also explains how we have arrived at the conclusion that our own absence at that meal is a matter of little consequence.

Considering also how we arrive at the supper, I’m intrigued by the fact that the Lord’s prayer does not open with an early confession of sin. In fact, its appeal for forgiveness does not even really constitute a confession. Although repentance is a way of life for the Christian, and is liturgically appropriate, repentance is not the fundamental flavor of that festive life.

Speaking of the marriage supper, last week I mentioned Galileo. Considering the book of Revelation, and both our present worship and eternity, it is clear that in the most important sense of the word, the earth is the center of the universe.

Written by Scott Moonen

August 21, 2020 at 9:09 pm

Adventure

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We are reading The Last Battle aloud. Some choice quotes:

Jewel, to Tirian: “Farewell. We have known great joys together. If Aslan gave me my choice I would choose no other life than the life I have had and no other death than the one we go to.”

Jill, to Eustace: “I’d rather be killed fighting for Narnia than grow old and stupid at home and perhaps go about in a bath-chair and then die in the end just the same.”

Jewel, to Tirian’s little band: “Nothing now remains for us seven but to go back to Stable Hill, proclaim the truth, and take the adventure that Aslan sends us.”

Written by Scott Moonen

August 5, 2020 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Quotations, Vocation