23 November 2017

Final Salvation and Today's Calvinism

The question of Final Salvation is further clouded by what could be described as Today's Calvinism and the metanarratives it has attached to Historical Theology. I'm not merely referring to the so-called New Calvinism or movements like Young, Restless and Reformed. 
By Today's Calvinism I'm speaking of Reformed Theology and Calvinism in general terms. Specifically I'm speaking of North American Calvinism in the wake of the 19th century. While international Calvinism went into decline and largely succumbed to Liberalism, the remaining sectors of conservative Calvinism underwent changes.

19 November 2017

Roy Moore and Old Testament Law

In a previous post I expressed some scepticism and ambivalence with regard to the recent spate of harassment claims. The men are indeed bestial and ungodly in their behaviour and yet many of these women, especially in the arts or corporate settings are not wholly innocent.
In other cases the behaviour can only be described as predatory. While an aspiring entertainer or businesswoman can always walk away and maintain virtue (even at great cost) there are those in other situations that are under real authority in the form of the state and thus under actual threat. These situations are often different in their nature and the women subjected to abuse are truly victims. I'm speaking of officials who hold badges and offices, who wear uniforms and carry guns. These men who use their authority to abuse the weak are of a different and very pernicious stripe.

12 November 2017

Feminism in High Gear: Pence's Rule and The Church in an Age of Scandal

Feminism could be described as being 'kicked into high gear' due to the rash of recent scandals.
On the one hand misogynist predatory behaviour is vile and always wrong. These people don't need defending.
On the other hand, society's war on men and boys and the feminisation of men is equally problematic. I say it again, it is equally problematic. That will offend some people.

05 November 2017

Prolegomena and the Question of Final Salvation Part 2

But again, isn't certainty eliminated? By no means. Does it become all but impossible to form creedal statements and confessions? Not in the least, but of course I question the motives behind this impulse. The statements will out of necessity become broader and thus more inclusive. Once again at this point I will be accused of being an ecumenicist, a liberal, one whose doctrinal sea is a mile wide but an inch deep.

Prolegomena and the Question of Final Salvation

I write this as something of a sequel to the essay on Salvation and the Question of Works.
It's one thing to discuss the nature of saving faith and to refute the spurious charges of rapprochement with Roman Catholic soteriology. But there's another issue or aspect of this debate that also deserves mention. This is the question of what is sometimes referred to as Final Salvation. I have written about it before and alluded to it in the recent aforementioned post but a few more comments are in order.
I mentioned that Eternal Security and Perseverance of the Saints are not the same thing. I would argue that the older Reformed doctrine of perseverance has all but degenerated into a Once-Saved-Always-Saved baptistic version of Eternal Security. I also talked about how salvation is presented in larger terms in which Justification is an essential component or aspect but it is not given the place of prominence, at least not in the way Solafideist theology has prioritised it. Additionally I mentioned how even these soteriological questions are cast in terms of the Already and the Not Yet.

29 October 2017

Inbox: Middle Class Values

What practical choices do you make that are odds with Middle Class life? How are they perceived?
I greatly appreciate the spirit of the question being asked and obviously such concerns resonate with me. On a practical level it is however difficult to answer as I believe each person has to work out these things for themselves.

Saving Faith and the Question of Works

Recently I encountered someone bringing a rather novel interpretation to the 'Lord, Lord' passage of Matthew 7. The well-known pericope contained within the Sermon on the Mount is for many (and rightly) a source of trembling. It speaks to self-deception and false faith.

23 October 2017

Ghosts of WWII: The Murderers Among Us and 1989's Music Box

The title comes from Simon Wiesenthal's famous work. It's the story of ex-Nazis and fascists with dark pasts blending back into the world and it's one that draws me back time and again.

06 October 2017

The New Testament and the Septuagint

The Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced in Intertestamental Egypt by Jewish scribes is frequently cited by New Testament authors and their use of it has generated a great deal of controversy and even confusion... even today.
It is not exclusively used when citing the Old Testament, but its use at times seems to dominate. The problem is the Septuagint doesn't always match the actual Hebrew Old Testament. Sometimes the Jewish translators seem to employ a fairly loose or dynamic principle of translation... something most conservatives of our day would be rather uncomfortable with.

01 October 2017

The General and Luke 16.15

The recent racist incident at the USAF Academy was certainly appalling and is rightfully condemned but I'm afraid I cannot go along with the world's praise of Lt. Gen Jay Silveria, the Superintendent of the school.
His speech is almost ubiquitous at present dominating news feeds and newspapers and I'm sure he'll get a few feathers in his cap. Many are saying, "This is the speech we wish the president would give."
"This is the right response to racism."
This is insanity on display. These commentators as well as the general are blind. This is true in terms of our culture and its history but they are also spiritually blind and their moral judgments are askew. Allow me to elaborate.

05 September 2017

Interpreting Augustine's City of God

Helm's writings have always been worthwhile, even when I disagree with him. Provocative and thoughtful, his is a website worth a regular visit. In this case it was not so much a matter of agreeing or disagreeing. Instead I read with interest as he delved into the long disputed interpretation of Augustine's City of God.
What is Augustine's eschatology? Anti-Chiliastic to be sure, what is his expectation for the Church in this age? How does the Church relate to the culture and the state? These are questions people still debate even in the 21st century.

03 September 2017

A Christian Preface to the Apologia on Syllabic Poetry: A brief discussion of Christianity and the Arts

This is an older essay that I've chosen to revise and publish at this time due to its reference in a recent discussion. Most readers will not find it to be of interest, some will find it baffling. A few may find it to be stimulating or at least I hope so.
What is a Christian view of the arts? That's a large topic and one that I cannot fully explore at this time. It is a worthwhile subject to be sure and yet for all that I would say its value is perhaps more limited than many would acknowledge.

12 August 2017

Christian Nonviolence and Pacifism: Some Badly Needed Clarifications (Part 3)

Christ brings division, even among Christians (1 Cor 11)... the peace we seek, is found only in him. False worldly peace doesn't excuse the gun-toting, gun-enforced pseudo-peace of either the Right wing militarist or the Libertarian, nor does a lack of peace in a world of violence grant permission for Christians to take up the sword. Thousands of pages have been written attempting to defend the Christian war ethic, just war, 'self-defense' and a host of other lies and scriptural distortions.

23 July 2017

Christian Nonviolence and Pacifism: Some Badly Needed Clarifications (Part 2)

Non-violent activism is not pacifist but political, a form of manipulation rather than overt coercion. But it is coercive nonetheless. Once again while a number of figures associated with this kind of activity are on a certain level admirable, they are not actually following the ethic of the New Testament.

22 July 2017

Christian Nonviolence and Pacifism: Some Badly Needed Clarifications (Part 1)

Pacifism and Nonviolence are controversial and sometimes confusing topics. This is compounded by the fact that they mean different things to different people. Not everyone is in agreement as to what they mean as far as concepts, let alone what are their limits and goals.

29 June 2017

A Bird's Nest and the Limits of Compassion

It's a minor thing but it continues to gnaw at me. My work takes me to many people's homes and I often get a window into how people live and think.

25 June 2017

Princeton Seminary: Twenty Years of Reflection

If you've never been to Princeton, New Jersey I highly recommend it. It's a fascinating place filled with history and character. There's much to see and yet the real thrill is to just walk around, enjoy the streets and wander the magnificent old buildings of one of the most renowned of the Ivy League schools.

19 June 2017

BK Kuiper and Sacralist Historiography

I've touched on this issue before but I recently encountered it again and have been meaning for several years to write a small piece about it.
BK Kuiper's The Church in History remains popular among homeschoolers and is particularly regarded in Reformed circles. They would say he writes from a distinctly Reformed perspective and provides a matching metanarrative. His critics would argue he writes with a distinct and at times misleading bias.

12 June 2017

The Moravian Way: Pilgrim Missiology vs. Magisterial Dominionism

It is one thing to evangelise the lost in other cultures, but this is quickly followed by another question. After becoming Christians, how do the converts live and interact with their society? This is an issue missionaries have long wrestled with. Undoubtedly, every society presents cultural elements and norms that are religious in nature and present a problem for the Christian, especially the new proselyte.

17 May 2017

Corporate vs. Individual Boycotts

From time to time the issue of Church boycotts comes to the fore. Usually what is meant by this is that certain denominations and para-church organisations will decide to collectively boycott a particular retailer or organisation due to moral objections regarding a product or sponsorship.
I do think we need to reject certain corporations and institutions. As Christians we understand that we live in a lost and sinful world full of idolatry and like the Early Church there are aspects of society that are all but closed to us. This is not the viewpoint of most who advocate this view. Frankly they're confused and their proclivity to call for a boycott is not rooted in antithesis but is instead a political tactic meant to 'break' an opponent. Their hope is that their numbers are sufficient that the company or institution will take such a financial hit, that they'll reconsider the policy.

07 May 2017

Urban Christianity: Chelcicky vs. Keller

Tim Keller is but one among many who argues that Christians ought to live in and focus on the city. It's the centre of culture and the focal point of ideas and activities. If we're to live out the Dominionist ethic (he seems to argue) then the city is the effective place to carry this out.

06 May 2017

Rome, Classical Liberalism and Sola Scriptura

On the one hand many Protestants champion Classical Liberalism as an outgrowth and even the natural offspring of the Magisterial Reformation. Reason over tradition, progress, the rights of the individual, civil society and democracy are all viewed as legitimate fruits of Reformation thought applied to the sociological realm.
And yet it all went wrong and in the background there has always lingered a rather potent Roman Catholic critique. It perhaps reached its zenith in the 19th and early 20th centuries and yet the cultural crisis of that era may in fact be eclipsed by the realities of our own day. We are still living in the wake of the World Wars, still living out their implications.

05 May 2017

The Criminal Syndicate known as Verizon

Increasingly there are many US corporations that are prima facie immoral. Their business practices are openly dishonest and in working for them you cannot maintain your integrity. You are necessarily part of the planned obfuscation and manipulation of consumers.
These businesses operate boldly under the banner of caveat emptor. They are not looking out for you in any way shape or form. You are a 'thing' to be exploited and squeezed. If you don't scrutinise the fine print, ask the right questions and in every way watch your back... that's your problem.
Their goal is clearly to entrap you, to snare you into signing a contract that they will resist freeing you from.
Such has been my experience with the mobile phone industry and yet it is but one of many such examples. I am committed to using a burner flip-phone. I will not sign a contract with a cellular carrier. I will go without a phone before I do that. They are without a doubt one of the most dishonest lots I have ever encountered.

29 April 2017

Mystery, Logic, Engineering and Neo-Luddism

When philosophers, apologists and other thinkers labour to destroy certainty, attempts at coherence and confidence in logic, the scepticism they produce sends many into crisis and the response can range from the robust to the frantic, the diligent to the foolish.
One of the most common arguments I hear (and often at that) from within Christian circles is that scepticism is wrong because if the world adopted this view then we could have no inventions and no technology. They will usually buttress this reductio ad absurdum by arguing that it's a good thing their auto or aeroplane mechanic wasn't a sceptic. 
This argument rests on several fallacies.

The Woman's Desire

 http://theaquilareport.com/desire-woman-response-susan-fohs-interpretation/

The question over the woman's desire in Genesis 3 has been a battleground for several decades now. The linked Rachel Miller article on the Aquila Report refers to a Westminster Theological Journal article from the 1970s by Susan Foh. I remember being pointed to the article in the late 1990s. I think by then the controversy had been resolved in the minds of most people. After all this was the era of Hillary Clinton as first lady. The culture wars were on and in earnest. How could you even question this reading of Genesis? Are you pro-feminist?