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Archive for April, 2008

Having watched the recent Bill Moyers’ interview with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, I think that I understand the whole situation much better. You can watch the entire interview in two parts online, and I would commend it to you.

There is obviously much for which we should applaud the Rev. Wright. He is sincere. He is working for change. He seems much more, well, normal in the interview. There can be no doubt that the mainstream media jumped on his sermons as an opportunity to make a little political noise, and it was effective.

But my problems with Wright were never that he was a controversialist or politically incorrect. I like to think that I’m pretty politically incorrect, and in fact, many of his criticisms of the American system are criticisms that I myself share. I was voting for Ron Paul, after all.

My problems with Wright were and remain problems that are larger than this one incident. However poorly I communicated my concerns about the state of Black theology, I want to express that I have them because I have a desire to see the Black church attain a state of prominence within its own community, making effective change socially as well as spiritually. I do not feel that this can be properly achieved, however, unless we keep priorities in the proper order. (more…)

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Yes, I’m still here

I haven’t written much around here lately, so I just wanted to let everyone know that I am still around.  My teaching duties at Montreat College, while always a privilege, can become very time-consuming, and those obligations have had to take a priority the last couple of months.  This semester I’ve been teaching Biblical Interpretation, second semester Greek, NT Theology and a night class on Romans.  That means 10 lectures a week plus grading and administrative duties in my capacity as department chair and serving on other committees.  I’m very much looking forward to the summer. (more…)

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Rich Bledsoe is a retired PCA pastor living in Boulder, Colorado. He’s got quite the fascinating project going on in his life now, as he seeks to revitalize the city by specifically targeting the mainline churches within Boulder. This St. Anne’s Pub interview series is well worth your time and should give you a good introduction into what Rich is all about. He’s also a connoisseur of Barfield and Rosenstock-Huessy with some significant pastoral and missionary experience to help put those ideas into real life scenarios.

Rich gave some great commentary on the whole question of myth and history, and he gave me permission to post those thoughts here. These are not aimed at the contributors to this blog nor even our recent conversation in particular, though I was motivated by those conversations to ask for Rich’s thoughts. Rich is thinking of intellectuals that he’s encountered over the years who have contributed to this larger discussion. I found his thoughts worthy of consideration.

Rich Bledsoe writes:

It is true that “the ancients didn’t think this way.” A good deal of what we do call “modernity” is a gift of the Bible and Christianity.

Here is a homey story to illustrate: (more…)

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We’ve been having some lively discussion over the past week. There’s clearly been some disagreement, but there’s just as clearly been a desire to hear each other out, even if we may slip into brawling mode from time to time. I think at the end of the day everyone was trying to keep it clean.

And this brings me to one important feature of this blog- We are not primarily an apologetics blog. We will certainly defend our positions, and were it to come to it, we would all readily defend the faith in the face of rank unbelief. That’s usually not what’s going on, of course, and so we purposefully try to keep this site one for “open discussion.” Apologetics blogs quickly become ugly places where only the most narrow of conversation is admitted.

(more…)

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We’ve been talking about “Biblicists” for a while now, and it should be clear that I’m not completely ashamed to wear that hat. However, I did want to address one topic that has often afflicted Biblicists in a very unhelpful way, that of opposing “Hebrew” thought and “Greek” thought. This concept is pretty easy to grasp: Hebrew good, Greek bad. Greek is Platonism or some other sort of false philosophy, and the trademark of all Greekiness is “dualism.” Hebrew, on the other hand, is organic, unified, dynamic. Again, Hebrew is good.

Now I have to give an immediate caveat and confession. I can see the attractiveness of this dichotomy. I do believe that we should build our philosophy from the Torah up. I get my primary cosmology from Genesis, and I do think that if we understood Leviticus, heck if we even read Leviticus, 80% of our troubles would just go away. I do think there is a basic ignorance of the Old Testament, certainly within Evangelicalism.

I’ve also been guilty of rejecting far too many thinkers as “Greek” or “Neo-Platonists” in my not-so distant past. Having been brought in to the Reformed faith through Van Til and Bahnsen, I was quite at home with the antithesis artillery. I’ve even read the vrijgemaakt literature, and anyone who knows Kamphuis and Van der Waal knows that to say they were “hostile” to Greek-thinking is an understatement.

But alas, my resolve has slowly been crumbling. (more…)

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Seeing the foundation of later Biblical theology in the creation account is easier in retrospect. Much like the sixth chapter of John, subsequent revelation causes the unclear to become absolutely clear. Indeed, this is so much the case, that after the larger picture is complete, not recognizing the earlier snapshots becomes a great loss.

For instance, why does Gen. 2:11-12 go into what seems like a parenthetical statement about the land of Havilah and the jewels that are there? Should I even ask this question?

As we read on, we see that it was while in the Havilah area (around Sinai in Shur- 1 Sam. 15:7) that Israel first found the bdellium-colored manna, and we also see that gold and onyx were used to built the Tabernacle and the High Priestly garments (Genesis 2:12; Exodus 25:7; 28:9-12; Numbers 11:7).

Bdellium has a relation to manna, which itself gained sacramental significance as it was kept in the tabernacle. Paul also appeals to it in 1 Cor. 10 as a counterpart to the Christian sacraments. Gold and onyx are Tabernacle jewels, and thus we have more support to the already well-accepted notion that the Garden of Eden was the tabernacle and temple in seed form.

This theme is carried out through Genesis 1, Genesis 2-3, and Genesis 4. Cain is a “man” who works in the dirt. Abel, literally “vapor,” is a shepherd whose sacrifice is appropriate. Dirt (earth), vapor (heaven), and sacrifice are all embedded in Genesis 4, coming right on the heels of the symbolically-charged garden of Eden (Eden is later explicitly connected with God’s holy mt.- Ez. 28:14).

And this is also important because creation ideas are later incorporated into Israel’s worship. God dwelled on the mountain for six days before calling Moses to enter his presence on the seventh. Unleavened bread is consumed for six days during Passover before the people draw into the assembly of the Lord on the seventh. The feast of tabernacles lasts for seven days. Priests were ordained for seven days (Ex. 29:35).

And of course, the Christian calendar ought to follow the new creation, which is the life of Christ.

Essentially, origins make for identities.

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One of the things that has come up in Steven’s helpful discussion of the controversial book by Enns is a request for some relevant literature describing the relationship between the creation accounts of Genesis and the those of the Ancient Near East.

Aside from suggestions to peruse the better evangelical (Wenham, Hamilton, Waltke, Blocher) and Jewish (Sarna) commentaries on Genesis, I might suggest these two articles by the late Gerhard Hasel (pdf’s of from my personal files).

Hasel, Gerhard F. “Significance of the cosmology in Genesis 1 in relation to ancient Near Eastern parallels” AUSS 10(1972): 1-20.

Hasel, Gerhard F. “Polemic nature of the Genesis cosmology” Evangelical Quarterly 46 (April-June, 1974): 81-102.

Its been a while since I’ve closely attended to these essays, but I think that they represent as sensible an approach to the problem as anything evangelical scholarship has produced in the past 30 years.

Here are a few more on the fire…

Kline, Meredith. “Because it Had Not Rained” Westminster Theological Journal 20 (1958): 146-57.

Futato, Mark. “Because it Had Rained: A Study of Gen. 2:5-7 With Implications for Gen. 2:4-25 and Gen. 1:1-2:3” Westminster Theological Journal 60 (1998): 1-21.

See also the audio lecture by French Evangelical, Henri Blocher on Genesis 1-3 available here.

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