Archive for June, 2013

Utilitarianism with Skin On

June 23, 2013

Here’s a post which highlights a very clear utilitarian ethic (at least applied) in the recent Superman movie. A great illustration of how this works.

Talking about Sovereignty

June 22, 2013

Here are a few suggestions about mistakes we can make talking about sovereignty.

One concern might be with the analogy used to explain point two. I’m not sure it entirely works for a Reformed approach. Sometimes a similar point is made about the difference between God causing (agency) and ordaining an event (willing it to happen, but willing it for divine purposes rather than the evil itself; see point #3!). Not sure how the sovereign king can be said to ordain specific events in the way most Reformed theologians speak about God’s sovereignty. It’s a difficult topic no matter how we answer it.

Tradition

June 22, 2013

Some thoughts on tradition. Here’s one point:

Tradition, like Scripture, is not made holy by being carved into stone, but rather by being interpreted within a community, by being the heart of the community’s relationship to God and the world.  Tradition is thus alive and constantly relating to the world, not written in stone and frozen in some past understanding.

The End of Reputation

June 17, 2013

An interview with Jonathan Macey who has a new book coming out (The Death of Corporate Reputation). Main theme: the end of considerations of values in thinking about companies, business, economics, etc. Worth a read for some insight into cultural shifts (some religious, some not).

Another Summer Reading List

June 15, 2013

Here’s another reading list, more focused on theologians. A couple I’ve read previously, but this looks like fun.

The Surveillance State and Its Costs

June 15, 2013

I think Peggy Noonan seems to have this one right. Frayed trust in the state will lead to frayed affections toward the state. Now to be sure, our affections (and allegiance) to the state should be secondary for Christians. So perhaps this trend will temper some of the more hyper-patriotic strains of Christian thought. But for those who are merely fond and proud of their country’s accomplishments (while humbly cognizant of its failures), this is probably a bad thing.

Survive the Higher Ed Meltdown

June 15, 2013

Here are some suggestions on ways educational institutions can meet the current challenges. Key thots: differentiation and clear mission. Probably good suggestions regardless…

Biblical Theology and Supercessionism

June 15, 2013

Joel Willitts asks an important question:

Can biblical theology be done without a supersessionistic application of typology?

It’s really the problem of the two testaments, again. Do we read in a forward direction or in a backward one? Here’s another post that gets at the same question is a slightly different framework. Andrew Perriman builds out on Scot McKnight’s observation with this paragraph:

In a stimulating talk that is partly a response to the Gospel Coalition argument, Scot McKnight quotes a line from Nietzsche: “the text has disappeared under the interpretation”. McKnight thinks that this is what has happened to the word “gospel”: the text has disappeared under the interpretation. Reading backwards is a way of keeping the text buried under layers of interpretive tradition.

Here’s the thing. While I consider myself broadly Reformed, I’m very sympathetic to these more narrative readings of the text and hesitate to read later texts back into earlier ones (at least exclusively so). Perhaps my dispensationalist roots are part of this (so too with Joel Willitts, perhaps?). It does seem to me the idea that we have to read the Old Testament (particularly) on its own terms before we can read it in a Christian sense is something I learned early on, and that many Reformed readers are less willing to do. So, dispensationalists, I will hypothesize, can be very interested in and attracted to these more narrative readings, and may be able to read N. T. Wright and the NPP with some greater sympathy than some of my more confessional Reformed friends.

Now I’m a bit of a both/and guy – so I’m willing to read the text both ways. So I’m not limited to forward looking narrative readings of the text; theological interpretation has some attraction to me also (it seems a bit more backward if I can keep using this metaphor), and it seems we can’t deny that we’re Christians as we approach the OT text. Progressive dispensationalists like Bock and Blaising speak of complementary hermeneutics, and perhaps some both/and approach like that might be able to bridge the gap. Because I love biblical theology – and teach systematics, too. I think there remains a bit of work to do here.

On Conversion

June 15, 2013

Some interesting questions about conversions, and how they are achieved. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with applying rules used to sell encyclopedias to evangelism and this points to some of my concerns.

Finally – after 2000 years

June 13, 2013

“The first honest Bible translation.” And how is this for a translation philosophy:

The Fresh Agreement replaces all those fuzzy statements that have a wide variety of interpretations with concrete and solid expressions of truth; you know, the way people really communicate.

I’m amazed no one ever thought of it before! Or perhaps language is complex, and translation and interpretation are sometimes hard, and perhaps there are ambiguities in the text (at least as we read them) that ought to be maintained in translations, and so on.