Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I am pleased to announce that Wipf and Stock has published, in the form of a short monograph, a revised and updated version of my Master’s thesis on the Hodge-Nevin controversy on the Lord’s Supper.    The title of the book is Incarnation and Sacrament: The Eucharistic Controversy between Charles Hodge and John Williamson Nevin.  It also includes a foreword by Keith Mathison.

It is currently available from the Wipf and Stock website, here. 

It will also be available through the Westminster Theological Seminary bookstore, and is currently listed there as “coming soon.”

And, of course, it will be available on sites like Amazon, too, but that won’t be for around four weeks or so from now.

Be sure to pick up a copy if you’re interested in Mercersburg and/or this particular controversy.  Happy reading!

Although this blog has been inactive for over a year, I thought it appropriate to announce this here anyway since, according to the blog stats, it still gets some traffic.

As a side note, I’ve also toyed with the idea of resuming blogging (but it would most likely be somewhere other than this blog, which was always intended as a group project).  If I do wind up doing that, I will make an announcement here.


Jonathan G. Bonomo

March 5, 2010

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I apologize that this blog has gone so long without either a substantial post or an update explaining the lack of posting. I have some free time this morning so I figured I’d rectify this by offering a brief update on some things. I can only answer for myself as one of the founding members here. I’m sure the other contributors have many reasons of their own for the cessation of posting.

I have reached a point in my life where blogging has ceased having enough importance for me to justify continuing to spend any amount of regular time to it. I began blogging (around four years ago now, I believe) because certain blogs had come to have an impact on my own thinking (mostly in the way of directing me toward reading resources I would not have otherwise been exposed to), and I thought that perhaps by doing so myself I could in turn help others to think more clearly about issues of catholicity by offering public reflections as a result on my own study/thinking. I also found the dialog which took place on blogs to be somewhat beneficial. Even if the discussion could at times be irritating and would at still others devolve into a mass of nonsensical, unbeneficial, and vitriolic diatribes, I always felt that the good outweighed the bad.

The inception of my blogging life took place initially at a time when my theological convictions were at something of a point of crisis, mostly due to my reading of the Church Fathers and comparing their way of thinking to the vapid form of Evangelicalism I had previously avowed. I had come to gain an appreciation for theological perspectives outside of my own and felt myself leaning ever more away from American Evangelicalism toward a more catholic way of thinking and living. I had gained an appreciation for Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Anglo-Catholicism, but my Calvinism always remained strong enough to keep this appreciation entirely at the level of aesthetics rather than actual conviction.

As I was working through many issues, mostly at an academic/theoretical level, I found the world of theoblogs to be one place where I could gain a wide exposure to a variety of perspectives and be informed of different positions by way of conversation with those who actually held them. This was and is a good thing, and I am appreciative for the role my internet interlocutors have played in the development of my own thinking on issues surrounding Christian catholicity in our day.

But I have reached a point in my life where it is necessary for me to move beyond the theoretical and into the practical. Blogs cannot be an end in themselves, and in my mind they never were. I always knew that my involvement in extended internet discourse would die out eventually as I moved away from the level of thinking through issues to developing firm convictions and eventually into putting these convictions into practice through either professional academic or ordained ecclesiastical vocation.

Well, I am neither, at this point, a professional academic nor an ordained minister. But I have at least developed a firm set of convictions concerning what I believe and what the Lord is calling me to which have made it hard for me to justify speding any significant time on blogging any longer.

What I mean is that I no longer find myself in the heated struggle of heart and mind which I had been experiencing when I entered into the wonderful world of blogging. I am quite able now to claim both the early Church Fathers as well as the Reformation Church Fathers as my own, and have very much come to grips with my identity as an heir of the Protestant Reformation, and my own particular theological tradition as confessional Presbyterianism. My faith and life in Christ has been nurtured by this tradition, and by a particular church within this tradition, for the last six of my nine years as a Christian. And even through my time of struggle I have not been exposed to any conclusive reason, either theoretical or practical, which has enticed me to throw off this identity. Much to the contrary, having arrived now at this side of said struggle, I have become even more firm in my confessional Reformed convictions than I was going into it, and have thus decided to pursue ordination to the Gospel ministry in the PCA. To be sure, I do not view the PCA as a perfect denomination or even necessarily better than other Reformed denominations. But, my understanding of catholicity demands that I stay where the Lord has placed me unless or until it becomes impossible for me to continue to do so.

Thus, as my self-identity as a confessional Reformed catholic has solidified, my desire for catholicity has become most immediately focused on the unity of the confessional Reformed churches in America. This does not mean that I have decided to cut off discussion with Christians of other traditions. But it does mean that, as a Reformed believer, I have come to see it as somewhat superfluous to work towards organic unity across confessional boundaries when the churches within my own confessional tradition remain as fragmented as they are, and are ever striving towards more fragmentation.

My understanding of the best way to work toward this unity has become fully church-focused. I had previously, as a full-time aspiring academic, been dealing in the world of the universal and theoretical. This is one of the reasons why blogging had become important for me. Theoblogs deal almost entirely in the world of the theoretical and the universal. They rarely get down to the dirty level of the practical and the particular. It is, of course, absolutely necessary that, for a time, all aspiring pastors and theologians deal with, work through, and develop strong convictions concerning issues in the realm of the theoretical and universal. However, the theoretical must never be viewed as an end in itself. We must always, as Christian churchmen, be asking concerning our theorem, “How will this preach, and how will it work itself out in the real world in the life of the actual assembly of God’s redeemed people?” Thus, when I began to sense my calling as a pastor and to develop a more churchly frame of mind, I became much more focused on ministry in the setting of an existing, local expression of the catholic Church than on thinking about that Church as a theory in the abstract.

Therefore, I have become convinced that I am being called first and foremost to be a pastor and theologian for a specific local gathering of God’s people, formed by the promise of reconciliation with God and each other in Christ as it comes to us in the ministry of Word and Sacrament. Where this gathering shall be I do not know at this point. But it has become my primary goal to prepare myself as best I can to serve that particular flock, wherever it should be. This is where catholicity must begin: in the nitty gritty of real, local churches. From here it must, of course, also work its way out into the church universal. But it must never skip this most basic step, for if it does, any talk or pretense of catholicity is but an empty show.

So, as I have continued to work to prepare myself for such ministry by developing my own personal and churchly piety, by serving in various ways in my church, by working with my pastors and elders, by gleaning from my courses at WTS in ways that have moved beyond the theoretical, and by striving to be a faithful servant of Christ in both my marriage and in my part-time employment, the world of blogging has receded very much into the background for me. This does not mean that I have come to view the time I have spent blogging as superfluous. I do not. In fact, I know that it has played an important role in the development of my thinking at what may perhaps prove to have been, when all is said and done, the most vital time of that development. However, it has become clear to me that blogging has served its purpose, and that it is time for me to move on and to cease devoting my time on any regular basis to reading and writing on blogs.

Thus, I bid this blog, its contributors, and all those who have persevered in reading my obtuse ruminations, a very fond farewell. You will most likely see me from time to time popping up in the comment threads of my heretofore “regular reads”, but as far as contributions in any regular or substantial manner are concerned, I am officially announcing my transition into the phase of blog retirement.

I am always happy to maintain private correspondance, as time permits, via email: jb4calvin at g mail dot com. I can also be found on facebook.

Wishing sincere blessings to all,

Jonathan Bonomo

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Blessed Reformation Day!

And Eve of All Saints. I have posted some brief reflections on the connection between those two at another place; and this gives me the opportunity to draw readers’ attention to that place, a new site called Basilica, which has grown out of conversations between some contributors and readers here. It is not at all intended to replace or supersede this one. But whereas this forum is a less directed dialogue between participants of very widely divergent adherence- a free for all dialogue which at its best it very useful and illuminating- the new site is a confidently and consistently evangelical catholic inquiry into first principles and the fields of Christian wisdom, in the spirit of CS Lewis. It aims to offer useful resources to pastors, other leaders, and interested laymen. It will maintain a high editorial standard, and the conversations will be carefully moderated and directed to ensure the most fruitful engagement and exchange of ideas. The site can be found here:


Peace to all, and blessed Reformation Day.

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Couldn’t help myself.

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**(UPDATE: I have purchased a new domain name, http://www.tgenloe.com, and am in the process of restoring Societas Christiana there. Please update your bookmarks. Those who had my old timenloe.net e-mail address, just change the domain name in it to tgenloe.com and you should be able to reach me at my new location. Thanks!)**

Sorry to do this here, but I have no other way of getting the word out. Through negligence and forgetfulness, I’ve lost control of my domain name, so for those of you who follow my work at Societas Christiana I’m afraid the site is down and might be for some time. The funky page you see there now is courtesy of the fine folks at Yahoo domain services, through whom I purchased the domain name originally.

Best case scenario I’ll remember my login information and get things taken care of this week. Worst case scenario, I won’t remember that stuff and it will be late November before I can redeem the domain name and get re-established.

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Given that I am a student and adjunct instructor in theology at a Jesuit university, I became aware of the (Roman Catholic) Congregation for Divine Worship’s June directive concerning the liturgical use of the Divine Name in Hebrew (YHVH) back in the Summer. For those who haven’t seen it, I offer you a look:

Christians have been debating this for the last couple of weeks following publication of the directive in Christianity Today, so I thought I’d weigh in. Having learned to vocalize according to the qere reading “Adonai” or “Lord” when studying and reciting Hebrew in my Master of Arts-Old Testament days at TEDS, I have since gone back and forth on the propriety of vocalizing “YaHWeH” in the context of preaching and teaching. Mostly, I have lapsed in and out of the practice depending on the needs of the moment.

Although I am not canonically bound to observe the discipline, I have thought a bit about the matter and have decided that I am prepared to receive Cardinal Arinze’s directive as reflecting a certain wisdom and theologically appropriate deference concerning the practice.  As a conversation starter, I’ll simply list some of my reasons:

1. The process of “fencing” the divine name by vocalizing “adonai” (Lord) as a qere (that which is read) circumlocution of the kethib (that which is written) “YHVH” was an act of reverence for the holiness of the divine name.  By avoiding its vocalization the name was preserved from abuse.  The scholarly consensus is that this practice originated c. 300 BC in several forms and gradually achieved universal observance. This was not superstitious, but an application of the commandment to never make wrongful use of the divine name.

The deep memory of Exile seems to have driven concern for a fastidious observance of the commandments. Numerous texts survive suggesting that the divine name was polluted by idolatrous adumbration. We actually have surviving graffiti from the ante-Christian period reading, “I bless you by Yahweh of Samaria and by his asherah,” and “I bless you by Yahweh of Teiman and by his asherah.” (Cf. Dever, Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Research, 1993). The ANE practice of naming deities often implied some power to authoritatively summon, and thus to control and coerce. The danger of this is often cited as a reason for the mysterious self-designation of Israel’s God by the elusive nominalizing of the Hebrew “hayah” (“I will be what I will be.”). It is likewise reflected in the patriarchal tradition of Jacob’s request to know the name of the angel-man-God who attacked him and in Adam’s naming the animals as a sign of his dominion. Viewed in this light, Israel’s pre-exilic condition and the syncretic idolatry characterizing it propelled Second Temple and Early Rabbinic resistance to similar threats of syncretism in both the Greek and Roman periods. That this memory was inscribed into liturgical practice vis-a-vis the divine name was actually a development laden with serious theological reflection. It is not too far to say, in fact, that the practice of qere circumlocution of the divine name represents a kind of liturgical-linguistic iconography setting forth the teaching of the Hebrew prophets and the post-exilic writings.

2. But why should we observe the practice as contemporary Christians?  To this question I would pose the deeper question of our connection to our older brothers and sisters in the covenant.  At the theoretical level, it requires reflection on whether there is a relationship of essential continuity or essential discontinuity between Christianity and Judaism. On the practical level in requires reflection on whether the Church has yet to learn anything of Jesus from Jews.

To the theoretical question, I think that there is good ground to think of the Christian relationship to Judaism as one of essential continuity with important discontinuities rather than the other way around. Certainly this works for anyone reading the New Testament in light of its reflections on the Hebrew Bible and the story of Israel. Saint Paul in particular was quite willing to narrate the story of his Early Christian communities (churches) in a vital continuity with the stories of Adam, Abraham, Moses, etc.  The fact that his narration reorients that story around a new climactic moment-the death and resurrection of Israel’s Messiah, Jesus-should not obscure his belief that he was fully faithful to Torah and to the essential vocation of Israel as the instrument of eschatological blessing to all humankind.  This continuity works prospectively as well as it does retrospectively, however.  Romans 9-11 witnesses to a certain Pauline hope that Israel as Israel-not Israel as incidental, individual Jewish converts-will be saved in the eschaton. While it belongs to the integrity of Christian confession to acknowledge that this will essentially be an eschatological reconciliation to one covenant wherein Jesus as Messiah and Lord, Paul is at great pains-straining at points, even-to announce and defend God’s eschatological fidelity to all the covenants of promise. This fidelity is applicable, as he sloganizes throughout Romans, to Jews and Gentiles alike.

To the practical question, I argue that Judaism presents a continual challenge and opportunity to learn about Jesus. Saint Paul recognizes that Israel qua Israel is heir to the covenants of promise and constitutes the normative canonical steward of the Hebrew Bible/Christian Old Testament. This has resulted historically in the Protestant appeal to Judaism in order to establish the legitimate boundaries of the canon of the Old Testament (as opposed to the LXX-Vulgata tradition containing the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books).  It has appeared in the Renaissance-Reformation appeal to Medieval Rabbinic exegesis in the Mikra’ot-Gedalot to overturn established Roman Catholic exegesis. It also appears in Benedict XVI’s extended dialogues with Rabbi Jacob Neusner as a norm for his own christological interpretation of the Gospels and his conclusions regarding the historical Jesus. Could it be that faithful observance of this (entirely legitimate) development in Second Temple Jewish theology and liturgical praxis will enhance our own theological reflection likewise? I think that there is good reason to suspect that it might.

3.  Beyond these larger considerations, I would cite the mere apostolic precedent of the New Testament in its citation of the Old. These citations are often directly from the LXX, but not always. Whether they are from additional Greek translations of the Hebrew or original to the New Testament authors themselves, there is not a single instance where YHVH is transliterated or rendered in any other way than kurios (=adonai). Note, for example, Jesus’ citation of Isaiah 61:1-2 in Luke 4:18-19. While we may, perhaps, acknowledge that Jesus cited the text in Hebrew and expounded upon it in Aramaic, do we really want to accuse Luke of  theological or theo-practical error when he opts to render Isaiah’s ruach adonay YHVH as pneuma kuriou? The same holds true in the next verse where Jesus’ prolamation of Isaiah’s liqroh shenat-ratzon l’YHVH is rendered as eniauton kuriou dekton?

4. Finally, there is simply the governing consideration of the Golden Rule and a general theopraxis of love. While in no way seeking to broaden the narrow way that leads to life, there is something to be said for making the way narrower than it already is.  Acknowledging the stumbling stone that is Jesus’ Messianic claim, we ought also to be mindful of the rhetorical stubling boulders proffered by  Chrysostom, Luther, the Crusades, and Oberammergau. This legacy of Christian Anti-Judaism leads in a disturbingly direct and straight line to the gas chambers of Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. That fact alone requires Christians to do all that integrity of faith allows to prefer others to ourselves. In the end, nothing is sacrificed by ornamenting the Divine Name with reverential silence. The bearer of the Name remains Lord of the Covenant and King of All Creation regardless.  On the other hand, insisting on our Christian liberty despite the weakness of others both overturns the Apostolic command (Cf. 1 Cor 8:12-13) and sublty reduces the Divine Name itself from an icon to an idol.

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I wanted to put in a plug for the Biblical Horizons conference which you can read all about here. It will be held on July 21-25 at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Valparaiso, Florida.

I went last year, and it was great fun. BH is as interested in music as anything, and so one of the unique treats of attending is the chance to chant Biblical songs (last year we did the Song of the Red Sea) and sing fun German, Scandinavian, Hungarian, and Russian hymns. The talks are a blast too.

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For those who may not be closely following the crisis in the Anglican Communion, I append the following statement produced by the Global Anglican Future Conference.  The conference was composed of 1148 lay and clergy delegates, including 291 Anglican Bishops (the figure includes a significant number of bishops and clergy from Continuing Anglican churches) and met in Jerusalem June 22-29.

I’m interested in the thoughts and reactions of the contributors in regards to the significance and value of this statement.  Have a great Fourth of July weekend, guys! (more…)

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As in the previous discussion of the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, my link to this article should not be taken to imply an official endorsement of Senator Obama’s candidacy.  I am, however, concerned that the single issue of abortion, with its near-automatic ability to command the votes of (rightly) devout pro-life Christians, has turned evangelicals and Catholics into Republican lap-dogs, who can no longer speak to other important components of a Christian worldview.  As I have written to several friends, since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 we have had a combined 23 years of Republican presidency.  Does the progress made during those 23 years outweigh the comparative indignities, injustices, and innocent deaths that have occurred since then? Let the debate begin, but let’s actually have the debate without artificially constructed barriers…

Yes you can: Why Catholics Don’t Have to Vote Republican

Republicans often use overheated and oversimplified rhetoric regarding the affinity between Catholic teaching and their platform. As a result, many people mistakenly assume that a Catholic must vote Republican. David Carlin, former Democratic Rhode Island senator, seems to have fallen prey to this fallacy (“Two Cheers for John McCain,” Commonweal, May 9).

Like many other well-meaning Catholics, Carlin argues that “there is no logical way to vote for the presidential candidate of a party committed to the preservation and extension of abortion rights.” He maligns “Catholic in name only” types who resort to intellectual chicanery to justify voting for candidates who support “the slaughter of innocents.” In this context, it is interesting to ponder why so many distinguished Catholic public servants, activists, and theologians have endorsed Barack Obama, a Democrat, for the presidency.

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A Little Slow

Come on guys, do I need to start a fight with the Roman Catholics to get things moving around here again?

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Not that I am interested in promoting or disclaiming Wright one way or another, but I thought that discussion of his theology might be benefited by attention to his controversial preaching in its full context. This is the big one, preached the Sunday following 9/11/2001.

Having just finished an extended paper on the imprecatory Psalms, I am quite impressed by the quality and thoughtfulness of his exposition.

“The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall”

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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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