Tuesday, October 31, 2006

2 Cor 13:4 - a fascinating exegetical problem

I’ve been puzzling over 2 Cor 13:4 today. It raises a number of translation difficulties, and an even more interesting exegetical conundrum on which Perriman’s provocative thesis in The Coming of the Son of Man could throw light.

Kai. ga.r evstaurw,qh evx avsqenei,aj( avlla. zh/ evk duna,mewj qeou/Å kai. ga.r h`mei/j avsqenou/men evn auvtw/( avlla. zh,somen su.n auvtw/ evk duna,mewj qeou/ eivj u`ma/jÅ (NB. The Greek font used on this page is Bwgrkl - cf. the big red circle on the sidebar to download it)
13:4a For indeed he was crucified because of weakness, but he lives because of the power of God.
13:4b For indeed we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him because of the power of God
(My translation. I.e. the Most Holy and Royal Reverent Inspired ‘King James Who?’ Version)

Regarding my translation:

  1. I follow Aejmelaeus’ logic (as detailed in the formidable and unique argument presented in Schwachheit als Waffe. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2000, p. 360-63 – a work surprisingly missed by Harris in his recent NIGTC commentary) that the kai. ga.r ... kai. ga.r is best interpreted in the same way both times (contra Harris etc.)

  2. The repeated evk (evx) is also best not treated too flexibly, giving it one translation one moment, and another the next. Following Harris, BDAG and Thrall (sort of) I translate each as ‘because of’.
However, the really interesting problem is exegetical. On avlla. zh,somen su.n auvtw/ evk duna,mewj qeou/ eivj u`ma/j, Thrall writes:

[H]ere we have an exegetical problem. The whole context requires the assertion that, despite the weakness to which he has just referred, Paul will show himself powerful in his forthcoming dealings with the Corinthian congregation. But the expression zh,somen su.n auvtw/ does not convey this claim with any clarity. More than that, it may seem positively to point in a quite different direction …
Why ‘in a quite different direction’? This is deducible from the future tense of za,w and the use of ‘with him’ with this verb, plus the parallel with zh/ evk duna,mewj qeou in 13:4b (and the resurrection of Christ). Thrall continues:

Are we, then, compelled to conclude that there must be here a reference (at least additionally) to the eternal, future, life of the resurrection? ... It is doubtful whether the Corinthians were concerned ... about Paul’s individual eschatological prospects. Furthermore, the concluding eivj u`ma/j does suggest, as Lambrecht points out, that what he is talking of is his imminent demonstration of apostolic power in Corinth
So, is Paul, in 13:4b speaking about his next visit to Corinth (as the context strongly implies) or the eschaton? Though I am very much undecided what to do with Perriman’s argument in The Coming of the Son of Man, could his thesis shed light on this passage?

At one level, argues Perriman, the resurrection of believers, for Paul, is part of the metaphorical language that indicates the beginning of the messianic interregnum on earth, the time after the suffering people of God have been vindicated - with their Messiah - over the power of Rome. Resurrection need not, then, be something that will happen at the end of time as such. It is part of the ‘firstfruits’ metaphorical language in 1 Cor 15 and is only ‘personal resurrection’ in that it is tied to the conviction that God will vindicate and redeem his suffering church from the fires of Roman oppression.

Back to our text. Perriman’s argument could be used to give a reading of 13:4 that respects both of the immediate-when-I-come-to-Corinth and the eschatological overtones. This is not merely that Paul has something of Christ’s resurrection power in dealing with the Corinthians (as e.g. Barrett, followed tentatively by Thrall), but that his dealings with Corinth, the purging of their sin (13:2), and thus the better assurance that they will survive the coming catastrophe (cf. 1 Cor 7), is their ‘resurrection’ (and his) in a sense.

This is just ‘thinking aloud’ and I’m not convinced this is correct - far from it -, but it is an interesting (and dangerous?) line of thinking none the less.

(Art via http://www.shunya.net/Text/Herodotus/TheWar.htm)

The errors of Intelligent Design – It is Poor Theology (Guest Post)

I had a conversation with a church leader who suggested Christians should adopt ID as evidence for the existence of God. This troubled me since he implied orthodoxy includes accepting the design argument and to challenge this is tantamount to denying God as Creator.

ID within the context of Natural Theology
Natural theology formed a central point in Christian theology with Aquinas articulating his influential argument from Design as part of his doctrine of creation. In the Reformed tradition prior to Barth, theologians spoke of God revealing himself in two ways; firstly, through the ‘book’ of natural order and secondly, through scripture although the latter is more fuller and complete than the former. With the implications of Darwinian evolution and the failure of Paley’s analogy of the watchmaker, natural theology went into crisis. A naturalistic explanation of the world seemed to undermine the Genesis account of creation and erode the authority of scripture.

Barth, attempting to reclaim theology for the church from the legacy of Schleiermacher, dismissed natural theology as undermining the revelation of God in Christ as witnessed by the scriptures. God reveals himself wholly in Christ. We cannot ascend to a knowledge of God through human reason. In his famous disagreement with Brunner he stated a clear "Nein!" arguing human beings can not cooperate with God in the act of revelation, God reveals Himself through the Word. Since then natural theology, including the argument from design, has been left struggling.

ID is an updated, re-worked, modern version of Paley’s Watchmaker analogy and as such, is open to the same barrage of criticisms levelled a century ago. ID thinkers (and in particular evangelical Christians who uncritically adopt ID), however, seem to have not dealt with the broader theological concerns raised by the failings of natural theology over the 20th Century. In particular ID raises theological concerns in three areas:

God of ALL Creation
In the Biblical and theological witness God is Author, Maker and Sustainer of ALL things without exception. The Old Testament Psalms and Prophets declare Gods active work in creation and his current involvement within it. Within the New Testament revelation of God in Christ, Colossians declares ‘in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible…and in him all things hold together’ (1.16,17) and John ‘All things came into being through him’ (1.3). Nature is not a ‘quasi-independent entity’ (Denis Alexander) but rather, as McGrath argues in his new Scientific Theology, nature needs to be replaced with a doctrine of creation as God present and active within the world.

However, ID postulates a split universe, with some organisms brought into life through ‘natural processes’ (as explained adequately by science) and those which have components of ‘design’. Michael Behe writes “If a biological structure can be explained in terms of those natural laws, then we cannot conclude that it was designed”. (Darwin’s Black Box’, The Free Press, 1996, p. 203.). However a two tier universe of ‘designed’ and ‘natural’ is alien to the biblical writers as God is the Creator of ALL. A doctrine of creation affirms ‘natural laws’ are in fact terms to explain the handiwork of God in creation.

ID postulated the theory of irreducible complexity to explain the origins of biological phenomena such as bacterial flagellum. They reasoned due its ‘irreducible’ structure natural selection is an inadequate theory to account for its origins concluding an ‘intelligent designer’ as the cause. This, I argue, is classic God-of-the-gaps. Take a current scientific mystery (which the community was aware of!), claim it’s unexplainable in naturalistic terms then postulate God as the cause. As I mentioned in my previous post, in the ten years since Behe’s book a range of scientific literature has been written giving a naturalistic account of the origins of the organism Behe refers to. This argument plays into the hands of militant atheists such as Dawkins and Dennett who effectively argue the case of naturalistic explanations thus seemingly squeezing God out of the physical universe.

Conclusion: The Foundation of Faith
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible” (Hebrews 1.3)

We access and encounter the God of bible through the medium of faith. God is not an object to be considered or objectified, but rather a person to be known. ID undermines this essential Christian principle. Faith, rather than meaning ‘blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence’ as presented by Dawkins, is an epistemology built on reason, conviction and the historical revelation of God in Christ. Thus the ‘natural world’ must be understood in this framework. McGrath argues that the term ‘nature’ is a mediated category, not a neutral ontological term and therefore is better understood within a Christian theological framework which encompasses the natural world and by implication natural science. It is through faith in Christ we understand the natural world and come to a revelation of God.

Simon Hardwick of The Lost Message

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thought of the day

‘[U]ltimately it is not historical criticism which calls into question every church christology and every humanist Jesuology, but the cross. He who proclaimed that the kingdom was near died abandoned by God’

Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God, 126-27

Friday, October 27, 2006

The errors of Intelligent Design – It is Poor Science (Guest Post)

In a recent conversation with the Head of Science about our planned Religion and Science conference we discussed the issue of Intelligent Design. This question arose: If ID were to become part of the national curriculum, where would it be taught? Within the science labs under the banner of a scientific theory, or with me in the Religious Studies department under the banner of metaphysical, philosophical theory?

The Claims of Intelligent Design

"ID is three things, a scientific research program that investigates the effect of intelligent causes, an intellectual movement that challenges Darwinism and its naturalistic legacy, and a way of understanding divine action—ID thus intersects science and theology." (Intelligent Design—The bridge between science and theology [Dembski 1999])
ID proponents claim organisms such as the bacteria flagellum are 'Irreducibly Complex’. Behe defines this as:

"...a single system which is composed of several well-matched interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."
According to ID thinkers, Darwinian evolution, based on natural selection, fails to give an account of its origins, leaving only 'design inference'. If an organism displays design, then by implication an 'intelligent designer' gives an account for its origins.

ID is a reaction against a perceived threat from evolution on the existence of God. There are some Christians that argue evolution to be inherently materialistic and necessarily atheistic and therefore opposed to any science that supports it. I maintain however, science by its very nature, does not draw judgement on the question of God’s existence.

What does it mean to do science?

Karl Popper explained scientific progress is made when bold conjectures are attempted to be falsified rather than confirmed. A scientific conjecture is open to testing and possible refutation. Any theories which are immune to refutation are thereby NOT scientific.

Science deals with empirical observable data. All theories which claim to be scientific must be tested against observable data from the natural world. Any theory which exhibits metaphysical or supernatural premises falls out of the discipline of science. In the worldview of Dawkins any 'information' beyond the empirical is not ‘true’ whereas according to Küng, a broader multi-faceted approach to reality is held. Cf. here.

Is Intelligent Design science?

ID postulates a supernatural ‘intelligent designer’ (perhaps God) to explain 'irreducible complexity'. However, since science deals with empirical evidence it cannot falsify the existence of an ‘intelligent designer’ as the premise of intelligent design is supernatural and therefore beyond scientific enquiry. In the words of Michael Behe: “ …Hypotheses, careful testing, replicability—all these have served science well. How can an intelligent designer be tested? Can he be put in a test tube? No of course not?" (Behe, Darwins Black Box, 1996, p. 242). A true scientific theory cannot propose a supernatural element to the origins of life making ID non-scientific.

Denis Alexander takes this further, arguing that a foundational purpose of science is to explain the relationships between components comprising of living matter. He contends that ID adds nothing to our knowledge of these relationships. They are ‘designed’ and therefore closed to further scientific study. No experimental programs will be explored, no grants given for further exploration. In fact, the science ends. He cites this as the reason why there are so few scientific publications originating from ID thinkers.

Final Note - The scientific community

It has been ten years since Michael Behe published Darwin's Black Box where he first outlined the concept of 'Irreducibly Complex’ entities. In that time the scientific community have published a range of papers on evolutionary origins of the bacteria flagellum. In addition Nobel prize winners, school teachers and scientific organisations alike have raised serious concerns about ID and its growing popularity as an 'alternative scientific theory' amongst some evangelical Christian organisations.

Simon Hardwick of The Lost Message

A response to Simon’s critique of Intelligent Design

A guest post by Cardinal Spin

I was pleased to write my debut post for Chrisendom a while back (on ‘Christian counselling’), but I felt the urge to write another in light of this drivel Chris’ most recent guest blogger, Simon Hardwick, has written about Intelligent Design. Gladly, Chris has cautiously given me permission to respond again, even though he too takes a similar line to Simon on the whole ID issue - so a round of applause for Chris’ willingness to promote open dialogue is in order. What a guy.

However, Simon, you have things totally wrong, you git. Your birthday it may be, but correction is my gift to you. In the following I want to present a few propositions for you consideration.

First, if I understand you correctly, you argue that design can only be inferred from the world around us, sometimes against the evidence, by faith; it is not something objective and open to all, nor is it a scientific statement. You boldly maintain that design is not a scientific evaluation (or, using Kantian categories, a pure reason appraisal) but rather something that involves broader metaphysical assessment (Kant’s practical reason) in light of faith. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is what you are claiming, isn’t it?

Now, the first link in my argument is to note the following: Beauty is related to design.

Let me explain. I do not applaud the beauty of chaos, that is clear, but were I to look at the curves on a fine looking nun, or the bosoms of the fine ladies on Baywatch, applaud (and wolf whistle) I do. Enthusiastically. I perceive beauty in the design.

What you are trying to tell me, by deduction, is thus the following: When you look at the beauty of your own wife, this is not something, like design, that can be appreciated by the objective state of affairs, it is rather only seen by faith. In other words, the beauty of your wife is very definitely only in the eyes of the beholder. But how does your wife feel about that?

‘Honey, do I look nice in this dress?’

‘Well darling, though against the evidence, and through my eyes of believing faith, unobjectively yes ...’
What is worse is what happens when we stretch this line of reasoning. Basically, you’re saying that my mum looks like a piece of minced-meat, that Chris’ wife only evidences design against the evidence, and that the mums and wives of all reading this are as ugly as hell!

Explain yourself, man, and stop your filthy nonsense gabbling before I come and show you what your face looks like after it has been undesigned by my cricket bat.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Index Theologicus is online

My librarian (Alan) e-mailed me with news of a wonderful free online resource. It is a new index to theological journal literature developed by the University of Tübingen – functionally an alternative to the ATLA Religion database. However, the following link takes you only to a trial version; for the complete version we will have to wait a little longer.

It is called Index Theologicus, and indexes journal literature as well as articles in festschriften and other similar multi-authored monographs, and conference papers. The glorious bit is that I don’t need to physically go to Tübingen library anymore to do an extensive search on articles.

Alan also writes that ‘the development team at Tübingen are actively encouraging visitors to the site in order to provide feedback and suggestions that can be fed into the development process’.

The URL is:


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The errors of Intelligent Design – Intro (Guest Post)

The argument from Design has a long history. Philosophers and religious thinkers alike have observed the world and attributed design to the natural order surrounding them. If the world and universe exhibit design then by implication a Cosmic Designer is the source. The Designer, according to Plato, was the Demiurge (a cosmic architect); within the Christian tradition, the designer is the God of the Bible. Texts such as the beautiful poetry of Psalm 19 and the argument presented by Paul to the Romans (Chapter 1) seem to compliment this idea of Design. These passages have lead theologians to promote a natural theology, where God is known not only through the revelation of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible but also through the natural ‘book’ of the created order.

With the work of Darwin and natural selection, natural theology took a major body blow. Paley’s watchmaker analogy was left struggling as naturalistic interpretations seemed to make God surplus to requirements.

Arising from the USA in the mid-90s, the modern Intelligent Design movement attempts to provide a scientific basis for Design. Its main proponents are William Dembski, Michael Behe (of Darwin’s Black Box fame) and Stephen Meyer. Using concepts such as irreducible complexity they claim to have found organisms that could have no possible evolutionary for-bearer. These organisms are complex of their own accord and thereby, it is argued, originate from ‘a Designer’. ID thinkers claim this theory is another valid response to the evidence in exploring our origins and as such should be taught alongside evolutionary theory in schools and academic institutions.

In these posts I will argue Intelligent Design fails on three fronts:

  1. Poor Science. The theory fails to meet the requirements of being a valid scientific theory.
  2. Poor theology. The theory, often presented by some evangelical Christians as an apologetic in an attempt to ‘prove’ God, represent serious problems concerning the biblical and theological witness of God as Creator and how we attain knowledge of Him. I will argue ID plays into the hands of atheistic scientists such as Dawkins.
  3. Poor Politics. The theory has emerged and grown from the hotbed of American politics (the ID debate has had little impact here in the UK) couched in the conservative/liberal battle for God playing a role in public life. Viewing ID from the context of the battle between Church and State and the debate surrounding the teaching evolution in schools will throw light on the controversy.

Simon Hardwick of The Lost Message

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The forthcoming Intelligent Design series

Tomorrow I shall start with the promised guest series on Intelligent Design. My bestist mate, Simon Hardwick, shall present four guest posts critiquing ID for your reading pleasure. Simon is a religious studies teacher with a very sharp mind and I look forward to reading any feedback.

Eagleton on Dawkins

Terry Eagleton on The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

‘What, one wonders, are Dawkins’s views on the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus? Has he read Eriugena on subjectivity, Rahner on grace or Moltmann on hope? Has he even heard of them? Or does he imagine like a bumptious young barrister that you can defeat the opposition while being complacently ignorant of its toughest case? Dawkins, it appears, has sometimes been told by theologians that he sets up straw men only to bowl them over, a charge he rebuts in this book; but if The God Delusion is anything to go by, they are absolutely right.’
The whole article, which can be read here, is (imo) a deserved slap around the chops of theologically illiteracy. I'm no Dawkins expert, let me make that clear, but I suspect the biggest refutation of his case is probably the thousands of Christians who have given their lives for wonderful and healing causes across the world. And by all accounts, his book does not seriously address this fact (nor, as Eagleton points out, many other important issues). That annoys me. Dawkins, it seems - though read the book for yourself to check -, evidences a reverse sort of Fundamantalism, and many Fundamentalists, whether they be of the theist or atheist variety, tend to wind me up the wrong way.

Via Metalepsis.

Monday, October 23, 2006

From bibles to bears!

My thanks to Richard Bauckham (Professor of New Testament Studies and Wardlaw Professor, in St Mary's College) for having kindly sent me a signed copy of his new children’s book, The MacBears of Bearloch (Aultbea Publishing Company). As a friend suggested in personal e-mail correspondence: ‘Bauckham should win some kind of award for being “the most diverse Christian scholar on the planet”’!

I plan to enjoy a few evenings this week reading it together with my wife; it shall make a delightful change from my usual evening reading! I’m really looking forward to starting it actually – not only children can enjoy children’s books!

I’ll let Richard explain what it is about. He prepared the following text originally for the St Andrews University staff magazine:

The story is a humorous fantasy about a family of bears and their friends who live by a secret loch in the forgotten lands of the north, a country rather like Scotland. There is grumpy Grampa MacBear, reliable Mother MacBear, and her four 'bearns' (as bear cubs are known in Bearloch): sensible Duff, imaginative Beth, mischievous Tosh, and Baby Brother. The adventures include islands that move, a mysterious horse, a haiku contest, the oldest creature from the depths of the ocean, and much more.

Richard said: “I wrote the kind of children's book I enjoy reading. It's a bit different from the kinds that are mostly being written now. It's a fantasy that is not a struggle between good and evil, and not about witches and magicians or kings and queens. It is also, I hope, funnier.

“The children's books I'm most conscious of being influenced by are the wonderful Moomin books of Finnish author Tove Jansson. I hope it has something of the spirit of the Moomins. Bearloch is related to Scotland much as Moominvalley is related to Finland.

“It was tremendous fun to write, and a refreshing change from most other
things I do!”
The MacBears of Bearloch is available at £4.99 from Amazon here.

See also here for another theologian’s comment on Richard’s book. Mike Bird writes: ‘Your kids will love it! It’s a good way to get them exposed to NT scholars at a young age’!

Yea, though I walk through the valley

Now that our lovely guests from England have left, blogging shall resume as usual. I have some exciting things planned for the coming weeks too, so stay tuned.

One bit of unfortunate news, however. With money gladly received for my birthday I purposed to purchase a second hand Nuova Simonelli espresso machine (Oscar) – they make utterly glorious espresso. However, just before it was purchased it become clear that the blasted thing had a leak. Given that this was one of the best deals I have ever gotten within a mile of, I’m a bit gutted.

OK, hardly the end of the world, but in my small over-caffeine dosed postgrad world, this was the mother of all disappointments.

‘For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with the lack of a Nuova Simonelli Oscar espresso machine, with reduced caffeine levels in the blood, with early morning bloodshot eyed writing without the double-shot espresso kick up the backside, and calamities. For when I am without enough caffeine and shake all over the place, then I am strong’ 2 Cor 12:10 (Suspicious Version)

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Errr, thanks, Jim!

Moltmann clip with sound

I’ve finally managed to upload a version of the Moltmann video I made yesterday with sound! No lip reading skills necessary! What a fuss this was. In the past day I’ve learnt about 20 ways videos shouldn’t be recorded, edited and uploaded.

Here it is on youtube.

The Risen Crucified One

‚Vor allem aber versteht sich für Paulus von selbst, daß das Kreuz Christi eine Einheit bilden, d.h. dass der Tod Christi nicht ein vergangenes Ereignis ist, den die Auferstehung folgte, sonder daß das Kreuz Christi ständige Gegenwart ist, dass der Auferstandene der Gekreuzigte bliebt, wie der Gekreuzigte der Auferstandene ist’

- Rudolf Karl Bultmann, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther, 245


‘Christ is both weak and strong’

- C.K. Barrett

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Apostle Paul the dialectical theologian?

‘Paul is a dialectic, not a systematic theologian’
- Barnett, in his NICNT commentary on 2 Corinthians, p. 605 fn. 63.

Moltmann reads from Weiter Raum

It was a lovely evening at the Stadtmuseum listening to Jürgen Moltmann for an hour and a half read from his new autobiography, Weiter Raum. The last three-quarters of an hour were taken up with Q&A, personal conversation and book signing.

I asked him about his recent relation to the Pentecostal movement, what he sees as its positive influences on him, and what worries him about it. His answer however, in sum, majored on the positives. Among other things he told an amusing story of when he preached at one of the big meetings at (I think) David Yongi Cho’s mega church in South Korea. The translator of Moltmann’s sermon was adding the ‘hallelujahs’ to spice the message up, but Moltmann admitted: ‘I’m no revivalists preacher!’ He also spoke of the lively worship and faith for physical healing all as cheering elements. The negative aspects he has trouble with, he said, are the hell-fire damnation and dispensationalist aspects.

I took my wife’s new Digital Camera but I’m afraid I wasn’t too successful. I took three videos and promptly filled up the chip card. The third, and best, video was too large to cope with the process of uploading to the computer and crashed everything within a meter. The second video was, err, the wrong way up, and I don’t know how to turn it back! The first, and worst, came through but I was jittering all over the place as I hadn’t learnt, at that point, the importance of keeping ones hands still! Nevertheless, it is something. However, I uploaded it to youtube only to discover the sound had somehow been lost in the process! I’ll work on that, but until then enjoy about 50 seconds of lip-reading Moltmann!

I’ll sort the sound thing out tomorrow – I need to get to bed now – and if any of you know how to turn a video picture, then perhaps you would be so kind as to let me know in the comments ...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

‘An agnostic is an atheist without balls’

Bart Ehrman is grilled by Colbert!

Last call

Richard Bauckham has kindly sent me one of his new books, which I shall be blogging about in the near future. But I bet not many of you will be able to guess the subject of the book!

By the way, in correspondence with Richard, given the delay on publication, we have decided to go ahead with the Q & A on his book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, sooner rather than later. I’ll then start my series on the book shortly before it is published. So, if any of you have pressing questions you would like me to ask (though I can’t promise anything), then quickly head here and record your comments - though I won't be going into any serious depth, so nothing too elaborate.

My Moltmann Autobiography

A big thank you to my grandparents for the money for my birthday, which I promptly used to buy this:

Though my birthday is on the 19th, I needed to get this today for the reading Moltmann will be giving from it tomorrow evening.

From the backcover:

Amy Grant revelations

Those who regularly visit Chrisendom will know that I don’t always reserve criticism. In fact, one or two of my readers have made it abundantly clear that they don’t like it. I.e. they get arsy with me.

Oh well.

Cos today, - I just couldn’t resist this one – I had to draw attention to a webpage brought to my attention recently by our friend Todd Vick.

Any of you ever heard of Amy Grant?

You know, that fine Christian lady who writes Christian rock music. Even my wife likes some of her stuff (I’ve already made mentioned here before about my Christian rock music allergy – its medical).

But the blessed brothers on Dial-the-Truth Ministries think differently about Amy, indeed all Christian rock music.

Impressively mustering evidence for a nice dash of Amy-bashing, they reason:

“On , Amy's video, That's What Love Is For Amy is dressed in a red robe, (used in witchcraft rituals) flashing on the palms of her hands, a six-pointed-star — A HEXAGRAM! … The word hex which means to place a curse on someone, originated from this sign." And the primary point of contact in the transmission of spirits — is the hand!
Well dear Amy, if you’re silly enough to be caught wearing a ...

*dum dum dum dum*

... red dress - expect the flak.

Come to think of it, don’t Roman Catholic Cardinals have a soft spot for red dresses?

That explains that dress-code mystery, then.

Apart from that, and here I’m adding to the arsenal of evidence cited by Dial-the-Truth Ministries, if you look real close at her name, it will become evident that one can reshuffle the letters and make such words as ‘May’, ‘Gramy’ and even ... ‘GAY’! Proof enough! Case closed!

Oh yes, among others, DC Talk, Michael Card and Michael W. Smith also get a broadside.

I’m sure that the writers of this webpage will be pleased to hear of my Christian rock music allergy (its medical – I come out in rashes).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Theologe Küng

Küng says Pope doesn’t know enough about Islam (hardly breaking news, but, hey)



I’ve found another Pentecostal blog on the net today. This one mixes talk about Reinhard Bonnke, Stephen Hill, Charles Fox Parham etc., with apparent esteem for Moltmann.

A mixture to warm the heart!

Sadly, it’s written in either Korean, Hokkien (Taiwanese) or Japanese – all looks the same to me -, so it’s a bit like reading a transcript of untranslated tongues. But there are some nice pictures!

Right, with a little help from http://babelfish.altavista.com/ I've established it is Japanese. Not tongues.

By the way, Stephen Carlson has written a thoughtful response to my post on 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 as a non-Pauline interpolation here, which I'm going to chew over sometime today.

Oh yes, Kramnik is now the World Chess Champion. Not Topalov. *Bursts into tears*

Moltmann presents Weiter Raum

For those of you who live anywhere is the vicinity of Tübingen, this coming Tuesday, at 8 pm, in the Stadtmuseum (Kornhausstraße 10), Jürgen Moltmann will be giving a rendition from his new autobiography, Weiter Raum (mentioned previously here). I’ll take my wife’s new digital camera and make a few snaps, and perhaps even a video.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from blogging

D.W. Congdon recently posted about an irritating internet article that boldly asserted:




It is full of delightful reasoning such as:

‘Blogging has become a socially accepted practice—just as are dating seriously too young, underage drinking and general misbehaving. But just because someone else “jumps off the cliff” does not mean you should do the same.’

Apart from the fact that the argument only holds if ‘blogging’ is understood in the same order as ‘jumping off a cliff’!


Jack sees himself standing on a cliff with a man called Ron. Ron, given recent tragic turns in his life, is lemmingesque in his passion for self-extinction. Nevertheless, Ron has 3 children to look after so Chris shouts in desperation as Ron makes a bee-line for the cliff edge: ‘DON’T DO IT RON; PLEASE DON’T JUMP OFF OF THAT CLIFF ...

Jack pauses as if he had forgotten to say something



The article concludes:

‘Should teenagers and others in the Church express themselves to the world through blogs? Because of the obvious dangers; the clear biblical principles that apply; the fact that it gives one a voice; that it is almost always idle words; that teens often do not think before they do; that it is acting out of boredom; and it is filled with appearances of evil—blogging is simply not to be done in the Church. It should be clear that it is unnecessary and in fact dangerous on many levels.’
But to draw attention to this baloney is not why I write. It was something said in the comments of D. W. Congdon’s post that really made my day.

No, not the comment of Ben Myers, who was quick to point out the irony of the fact that the advice ‘NO ONE ... should have a blog or personal website’ was published this on their own website!

It was the comment of a certain Curious Presbyterian that cheered me right up.

He/she wrote:

‘I thank God for blogs such as Ben’s and Chris’ and Jim’s and Alastair’s and several others. (There are too many good blogs to read them all).I’ve learned a lot from these blogs and they have encouraged me to get back into the personal study of theology again’

Inquisitive Presby, you have no idea how glad that makes me!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Kramnik-Topalov decision day

Again, just a quick note – work beckons. But today we will have a unified world chess champion. Click here for a board, and here for Susan Polgar’s helpful live coverage of the last games.

Susan explains:
The playoff format is 4 rapid chess games (25 minutes per player + 10 seconds increment per move). If the score is still tied after the 4 rapid games then the players will play 2 blitz games (5 minutes per player + 10 seconds increment per move). If the score still remains tie then a sudden death "armageddon" game (White has 6 minutes vs. Black has 5 minutes) with Black having draw odd. What that means is if the "armageddon" game ends in a draw, Black would win the World Championship.
Oh, by the way, a Fischer vs. Karpov match could finally happen! (though I'll believe that when I see it)

Is 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 a non-Pauline interpolation?

A reader asked the following question on my post on Luke 16:9 and the ‘eternal homes’, as I suggested that 2 Cor 6:14 ff could be an interpolation.

He asks, ‘Why would 2 Cor 6:14-15 be an interpolation? UBS 4th lists no TC problems ... do you have inside scoop?’

No inside scoop, at least not like my gematriacal analysis of Bultmann’s full name. In fact, the debate concerning 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 is a rather well known one. The arguments pro-interpolation are legion and should be taken together (here I loosely follow the analysis in Harris who doesn’t accept the passage is an interpolation):

  1. The passage is largely irrelevant to the Corinthians problems evidenced in the rest of the Corinthians correspondence.

  2. The flow of thought between 6:13 and 7:2 is interrupted, and is done so in an abrupt manner.

  3. Indeed, the verbal similarities between 6:11-13 and 7:2-4 suggest that something has been inserted between an original unity.

  4. While the many hapax legomena in the passage can be partly explained by reference to the fact that Paul quotes from other sources a fair deal, this a) doesn’t explain them all, nor b) the fact that the passage evidences a rather unusual usage of such words as righteousness, faith, flesh, spirit etc., ones not normal for Paul, even if possible.

  5. The verses the passage cites are not found anywhere else in the Pauline corpus.

  6. Theologically, some argue that the ‘uncompromising exclusivism’ is rather contrary to a typical Pauline thrust. Actually, this point does not convince me, and I think the ‘promise’ theology could be understood historically as plausibly Pauline (something not touched upon so much in the debate I believe).

I would also suggest that the old ‘no textual critical problems’ argument is perhaps a red herring. It is often cited as evidence, when it is lacking, against interpolation. For example, some have appealed to this negative corroboration in light of the various partition theories surrounding 1 Cor 8-10 such that later editing is made unlikely by the lack of textual evidence. I seem to remember Thiselton adopted this reasoning in his NIGTC commentary. I must admit, I claimed the same thing in an earlier draft of my doctoral work on 1 Cor 8-10, but Harris importantly points out, in relation to 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 that: ‘The absence of any textual evidence for the omission of 6:14-7:1 is no argument against it being an interpolation, for the putative editorial work by a redactor would predate the earliest textual witness’ (Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 23, fn. 48, italics mine)

Come to think of it, I posted an article written by one of my friends here a while ago on this passage. He understands the passage as Pauline, if I remember rightly.

I guess I’m not so confident, but I’m certainly not going to dogmatically insist it is an interpolation. The evidence is explain-awayable, but the above points taken together, noting also the point on the TC issue, would make me (and I’m sure Volker too) pause before basing an argument about Paul on this passage.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Quick note

The final game in the World Chess Championship between Kramnik and Topalov is underway. Susan Polgar provides live commentary on the game here (or click here to follow the game on a board). At the moment things stand even, so a win today will be decisive. If it ends as a draw, there will be tiebreaks tomorrow. Right, on with work - I will respond to comments on previous posts later.

P.S. I can't see Kramnik loosing this game; the position is perfectly suited to his style. I predict a win for Krammers today, though I hope I'm proved wrong.

Luke 16:9 and the 'eternal homes'

Some late night exegetical thoughts so my apologies if it reads a tad incoherent; it made perfect sense when I wrote it!

Luke 16:9 ‘And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes’.

Kai. evgw. u`mi/n le,gw( e`autoi/j poih,sate fi,louj evk tou/ mamwna/ th/j avdiki,aj( i[na o[tan evkli,ph| de,xwntai u`ma/j eivj ta.j aivwni,ouj skhna,jÅ

What a baffling passage! The meaning of aivwni,ouj skhna, is particularly puzzling. However, is it not fair to suggest that this passage speaks in favour of the Wright-Perriman interpretive slant? Doesn’t the understanding of aivwni,ouj here as ‘the age after the destruction of Jerusalem’ make most sense? What else could aivwni,ouj here mean? Perriman would suggest that this means Jesus taught his disciples to make use of ‘unrighteous Mammon’ specifically during the foretold distressing time of national disaster and the destruction of the Temple. In other words, it is in line with the ‘run to the hills’ advice in the so-called ‘apocalyptic discourses’, i.e. practical advice as to how to survive the coming judgement at the hands of Rome. This in turn hints that those who get ‘taken’ from the fields, while another is left etc. (e.g. Matt 24:40-41) are the unlucky ones. The ones who remain will survive for the ‘age to come’ or the zwh. aivw,nio,j, while those who are ‘taken’ are on the unhappy end of the Roman rod of wrath.

Incidentally, and unrelated to the interpretive considerations above, why is it that much conservative Christian business ethics rely more on Paul’s (if it is not an interpolation) more sectarian teaching in 2 Cor 6:14-15?

He remains the crucified one

The cross is not simply a past happening; it is caught up in [Christ’s] present, risen life where he remains as the crucified one ... the cross not a station on the way to his final glory, but the esse of that lordship, so that always his lordly power is conditioned by his continuing weakness, obedience, and humility

Martin, R. P., 2 Corinthians, (Dallas: Word,1998), 475.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The number of the beast

Not all, it seems, were convinced by my last post. Those among the company of the redeemed (Mike, TB etc.) saw the truth of my statements, of course. However, Brian, for example, chose to give my opinion a rap on the knuckles claiming that I was wrong about Wright (yes, I made that last clever little word play up all by myself). Well, this post is for his sort.

I’ve done some original and important research on the question of Bultmann tonight and discovered something shocking. Even Jim West will be recanting of his Bultmania after this.

Look at the name very, very closely:

Rudolf Karl Bultmann

Now, if each letter of his name corresponds with a number, such that A=2, B=3, C=4 and so on, his initials are the following numbers: R=19, K=12 and B, as already noted = 3.

Don’t look at me like that! It’s possible that this is how the early Christians coded the name Nero in Revelation, so what I’m doing has scriptural warrant (Rev 13:18).

Anyway, take the numbers represented by Bultmann’s initials and we have 19, 12 and 3. Now multiply 19 by 12 by 3, and what do you get? 684.

If that wasn’t dubious enough, the really shocking facts start to unfold if one then subtracts the number of letters in Bultmann’s full name (18 in all) from this total. The result is not suprising.



Yes, we knew it all along! Bultmann may well be the beast of Revelation; not Nero, Bush, Kofi Annan or any of the other popular candidates.

And what about the name ‘Nicholas Thomas Wright’?

Using the exact same numbering system, his initials work out as 15, 21 and 24.

Once again, 15 x 21 x 24 = 7560

However, and this is the spooky bit, subtract 6783 from 7560 and you get this:


I for one am not surprised. I hope that this has given the likes of Brian something to think about.

Let’s face it: The quality of exegesis and theological reasoning on Chrisendom is breathtaking. Don’t forget, you heard this scoop on Bultmann and Wright here first.

(Artwork via the rather amusing http://www.sounddoctrine.com/666.htm. They claim 'You will probably get a real laugh from this page if you are not a Bible Believer'. That sentence was so close to being correct. So close. Minus the words 'if you are not a Bible Believer', we would have had it)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Quote of the day

*Provoke mode on*

He may not appeal to everybody (i.e. Jim West!), but I for one cannot help but be impressed by the architecture of his thinking - I have truly learnt a lot from him. Not only that, his individual exegetical work I find impressive and, in my humble opinion, usually precise (e.g. cf. his work on 1 Cor 8-10 in The Climax, one of the best to be written anywhere/anywhen on the subject). Who am I talking about? Tom-Greater-than-Bultmann-Wright, of course.


*Provoke mode off*

“the old picture of Jesus as the teacher of timeless truths, or even the announcer of the essentially timeless call for decision, will simply have to go. His announcement of the kingdom was a warn­ing of imminent catastrophe, a summons to an immediate change of heart and direction of life, an invitation to a new way of being Israel. Jesus announced that the reign of Israel’s god, so long awaited, was now beginning; but, in the announcement and inauguration itself, he drastically but consistently redefined the concept of the reign of god itself. In the light of the Jewish background sketched in NTPG Part III, this cannot but have been heard as the announcement that the exile was at last drawing to a close, that Israel was about to be vindicated against her enemies, that her god was returning at last to deal with evil, to right wrongs, to bring justice to those who were thirsting for it like dying people in a desert. We are bound to say, I think, that Jesus could not have used the phrase ‘the reign of god’ if he were not in some sense or other claiming to fulfil, or at least to announce the fulfilment of, those deeply rooted Jewish aspirations. The phrase was not a novum, an invention of his own. It spoke of covenant renewed, of creation restored, of Israel liberated, of YHWH returning. It can be reduced neither to a general existential state of affairs, unrelated to Israel’s national hope, nor to a hypothetical ‘parousia’ hope (which the early church first invented, then cherished, then projected back on to Jesus, and then finally abandoned), nor to the offer of a new type of private spirituality”.

(N.T. Wright, JVG, 172)

Monday, October 09, 2006


That (deleted word) wise (deleted word) son of a (deleted phrase), Derek Brown, recently wrote of my ‘freakish fixation with hell’. Being the good natured chap I am, I won’t linger on the ‘freak’ part (hence my generous usage of the delete button in the previous sentence), but I thought I should at least live up to my growing reputation tonight as biblioblogs’ resident Philhadesist (indeed, perhaps some of my more conservative readers will think it entirely appropriate that I find the subject of hell so alluring).

First, I would like to draw my readers’ attention to a well written series, by Stephen Peltz (alias ‘Q’), defending annihilationism.

His posts in sum:
1. God's love
2a. God's justice
2b. God's justice
3. The wages of sin
4. avpo,llumi, avpw,leia
5. Eternal fire
6. Torment
7. Universalists texts - where he engages with the position of ‘hopivism’ I tentatively suggested here
8. Summary

Second, though I’m not really a ‘joke’ man (editorial note: ‘Chris, that’s an understatement. Don’t I remember you saying that anyone who starts a sentence with, ‘Listen, I’ve got a joke’ needs to be fed into a paper shredder?), a friend sent me the following offering on the subject of – you’ve guessed it – hell:

‘Ein braver Mann stirbt und kommt in den Himmel. Er bekommt auch bloss ein Wurstbrot und es ist alles furchtbar fromm und langweilig. Da sieht er in die Hoelle runter und sieht, dass es da ganz lustig zu geht. Alle sind froehlich, haben ein riesen- grosses Festmahl und mit Sex wird auch nicht gespart. Da kann sich der Gute nicht halten und sagt zu Petrus: - "Ich will auch runter in die Hoelle!" Meint Petrus: - "Meinetwegen! Ist Deine Entscheidung, geh nur!" Also kommt der Mann in die Hoelle und wird gleich vom Teufel gepackt, in einen Kochtopf geworfen und erstmal kraeftig untergetaucht. Als er wieder hochkommt (ich meine: auftaucht), fragt er den Teufel: - "Ich hab doch vorhin vom Himmel aus ganz was anderes gesehen! Wo ist denn das Festmahl und der Sex???" Darauf der Teufel: - "Ach das! Das ist nur unsere Werbeabteilung!"’
With the addition of the vocabulary in the previous paragraph, I wonder how long it will be before Google leads the first grubby teenager here in search of ‘Pictures of hellish fiery sex’?

Anyway, enough childishness, I run a biblioblog here dammit. Time to start acting like it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Things to argue about

My wife and I had a ‘discussion’ tonight over which film to watch on TV. For some reason she wanted to watch some romantic pap (‘I love you’, ‘kiss me’ etc), while I energetically voted for the more sensible Army of Darkness. Naturally, she won, though in retrospect I think I should start throwing my (considerable) weight around here a bit more often.

‘What? Touchy-feely nonsense film? No, woman! Bring on the Zombies (and that crazed bloke with the chainsaw)’.

After I married my lovely German wife, one of the first and best books I read was a novel by Mil Millington: Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About. The story involves a comical look at the relationship between a German lady and an English man living in London, something the author was able to probe rather nicely give that he is indeed in a long term relationship with a German.

To get an idea of the sort of humour you can expect, have a look here - a list of things they argue about (well, I thought it was funny).

Also amusing is Mil’s Apology Homepage, a list of people, nations, companies etc that should apologise, and why. E.g.

From the impassioned:

The gormless shitsacks who broke into my car should apologise: for not having the decency to have died very young when it would still have been a tragedy

To the sensible:

Lou Perleman should apologise: and then be hit in the head with a brick for starting the so-called boy-band craze

And the theological:

God should apologise: for taking Douglas Adams and leaving George W. Bush

Admittedly, the last ‘apology request’ is the feeble justification for publishing this post on a blog supposedly dedicated to *coughs awkwardly* biblical exegesis and theological discussion.

(Image via http://www.sfondideldesktop.com/Images-Movies-0.htm)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Blind leading

I made a noise the other day about the sort of posts on Chrisendom that ‘Google searches’ land on practically every day.

Like the ‘quickly gimme pictures of hell’ brigade, the following are also not likely to find what they are really looking for. But again, practically every day, Google leads numerous poor souls to Chrisendom who search for ‘Winds of Worship’ music. While that series was a lot of fun to write, I’m not sure all will find it agreable ...

Perhaps I should offer a public apology to all you holy souls who Google ‘Winds of Worship’ and full of anticipation end up with a ‘‘Give us a ‘G’, Give us an ‘o’, Give us a ‘d’’’, chorus?

Then again, Google is to blame.

Friday, October 06, 2006


While I’m talking books, I heartily recommend Andrew Perriman’s The Coming of the Son of Man (already mentioned here) - a well written book that’s not only deeply provocative but real fun to think through. I realise that a certain Conrad Gempf may beg to differ, but even if Perriman is ultimately shown to be wrong, it’s still a stimulating book. In fact, on the stimulating-scale, it’s ‘nipples attached to live cable’ level.

Your advice

My birthday is approaching and I hoping (pleading, snivelling, beseeching, sulking) to get a nice fat book from my dear wife. However, I’m stuck between a few choices, so if any of you theological whizzes would particularly recommend or oppose any of the following, do let me know:

  1. It was mentioned on Ben’s blog recently, it’s the totally not barking up my usual theological alley but looks like a storming read anyway: The Beauty of the Infinite by David Bentley Hart (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003). I have my copy from the library, of course, but I liked what I’ve read of it up till now so much that I want, no, need my own.

  2. This is a book I should have purchased a long time ago. I want it, but it’s horribly expensive. But I want it want it want it: Gott als Geheimnis der Welt by the great Eberhard Jüngel.

  3. A book I’ve never read but so want to is Trinity and the Kingdom of God: The Doctrine of God by Jürgen Moltmann. I’d kill a kitten with a garlic crusher to have this one.

  4. A big favourite is Systematic Theology: Works of God Vol 2 by Robert W. Jenson. This is a book that every theologian ought to have, and besides, I need to complete the set.

  5. Recently shooting to number one is Moltmann’s new ‘Lebensgeschichte’, Weiter Raum. However, I’ve got a plan to sneak this one for free. If it weren’t for that sly ol’ plan (which shall remain a secret for now), I’d bag this one in a shot.

  6. One last one: The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbott.

Which one to request? The decision is killing me …

Hence, your objections or recommendations are most appreciated. Of course, feel free to record any other urgent proposals; it’s just that I may already own them.

Thought of the day

‘Orientation towards the future runs right throughout the Gospels. Jesus does not simply teach people how to live; he teaches them how to live in light of what was about to happen

(Andrew Perriman, The Coming of the Son of Man, 18)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Moltmann's new 'life history' - Weiter Raum

While browsing a Tübingen bookshop today I excitedly noticed that Jürgen Moltmann has just published his autobiography or ‘Lebensgeschichte’. Weiter Raum is 400 pages long and as I flicked through, I began salivating in greedy anticipation. As one does. Click here for more information.

Towards the end I read about the interesting story of his meeting with the Pastor of the world largest church, the South Korean Pentecostal, David Yongi Cho. He tells us that Cho, during their meeting, held Moltmann’s hands and prayed for his healing (the great Tübingen based theologian suffers from Asthma). Moltmann tells us that for a number of weeks his Asthma cleared up entirely.

For more on his meeting with Cho, see the Journal of Pentecostal Theology article (JPT 13.2 (2005) 147-161) in which he describes the Korean as a ‘learned and profound theologian and an independent thinker’. The article abstract runs as follows:

From the perspective of the author’s own theology of hope, this article offers an affirmation and a constructive critical engagement of the ‘Full Gospel’ theology of Korean pastor, David Yonggi Cho. After acknowledgement of certain commonalities in the originating contexts of both Cho’s and the author’s respective theological perspectives, particular points of agreement and suggestions for further expansion and development are presented and elaborated with a view toward a ‘Full Gospel of the Advent of Christ’.
By the way, this article also suggests that Moltmann is no longer as confident in his Universalism as he arguably once was. In The Coming of God he wrote: ‘It is only there [i.e. in the depths of Christ’s death on the cross of Golgotha] that we find the certainty of reconciliation without limits ... for universal salvation’ (250). However, in this article he closes with the following words: ‘Will all human beings be redeemed in the end? We do not know, but we can hope that they will and pray that they will’ (161)

I’m hoping that my lovely wife will have picked up the (not so subtle) hints and that I’ll be unpacking this book for my birthday in a few weeks!

This makes me MAD

Once upon a time in the dark depths of Hades, Beelzebub cleaned out his snot stained nostrils and flicked the contents on earth. Lo, Westboro ‘Baptist Church’ (WBC) was born.

It is now well known that a gunman killed a number of girls in an attack on a Pennsylvania Amish school. Five precious little girls were murdered. As the grieving families and friends gather to mourn their terrible, unimaginable loss, WBC will picket the funerals, blaming the whole tragedy on the fact that Governor Ed Rendell criticised the WB ‘church’. On the WBC webpage, we are told: ‘Meanwhile, WBC is continuing to pray for even worse punishment upon Pennsylvania’.

The really nasty thing is that they think they are all being faithful to God when in truth they are nothing but sickos without an ounce of anything approaching Christ-likeness. They drag the name of Christ into their filth and call it righteous. What a bunch of perverted dick heads. It makes me furious.

See here for a news report, here for another biblioblogger’s frustration, and here for the WBC article its filthy self.

Afterthought: ‘For what have I to do with judging those outside?’ (1 Corinthians 5:12)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Guess the author

In response to one of my recent posts, one author wrote the following words:

“Don't despair. Write for yourself. The massive hoardes of blathering, ill informed, dribbling, witless, slack jawed, mouth breathing, hell bound, dillywads who daily make use of Google to satisfy their prurient interests wouldn't know a substantive argument on something theological if it floated down from heaven in a feather chariot and landed on their bloated, insipid, vile, self absorbed, senseless, worthless bellies.

That's why, by the by, the Church's theologians always used Latin in their discussions. Let the populum vulgarum rot in their useless wretched ignorance.

[Please note- the aforementioned was written with the love of Jesus in my cold, darkened, shrivelled, blackened, heart]”
In truth, this is just an excuse to give this hilarious and inspired hostility more light than was possible in the comments. But can you guess who wrote this fine vomitulation of such sensitive and energetic lexical cornucopia? Of course you can!

Thought of the day

The so-called fulfilment (cf., for example, the use of the verb plhro,w in Matthew’s Gospel) of OT prophecy in the life and times of Jesus and his followers is, for the most part, best understood as the reapplication of scriptural predictions in a different context, rather than as something that can be plotted on a strictly chronological prediction – implementation scheme.

Devoted to theological and exegetical discussion

Google searches that land on my blog are sometimes a little frightening. Literally everyday people feel compelled to search for ‘proof of hell’, ‘picture of hell’, ‘visions of hell’ or some such variation. My posts on hell have thus ended up among the most well read on my blog, which makes me wonder about many things. The sanity of Homo sapiens, being one.

What is more, I’m quite sure that those who land on my blog aren’t finding what they were looking for. Someone types in ‘please show me real visions of hell and demons’ into Google, and they land on my shameless piss taking.

It seems the most popular remain the ever so slightly ironic ‘Existence of hell proved’, parts one and two, and ‘Hades discovered under the sea’. Packed with top-notch academic discussion every time, of course ...

No, not my posts on Küng, not my reflections on the exegetical problems of this or that passage in the Corinthians correspondence, not anything that is the fruit of learning or study. But talk about a visionary who sees rodgering demons with hot pokers, and people read it.

UPDATE: Looking at the Google searches again, another popular hit has been this post. Of course, it’s another rigorous, scholarly and penetrating analysis, worthy of its popularity, filled with power insights such as ‘Of course, more syllables is a step in the right direction’. *End bitter sarcasm mode*

Monday, October 02, 2006

ID. Again.

Oops. That last post was longer than it needed to be.

Alas, it is late, the writing fluids have dried up, the inspiration was playing hide and seek, the cogency had caught a cold, the articulation was on holiday etc etc.

But enough excuses. Though I don’t want to make any apologies for the small ‘in between series’, hopefully to be posted sometime this week, which I’m pleased to announce. All the more so as it shall be a small ‘guest post’ series, written by a good friend, and doubly so as it will be critiquing Intelligent Design (ID).

ID, if one understands its claims as adequate other than by faith, has never impressed me, and I dismiss it as, to a large extent, unacceptable apologeticism, as theologically and scientifically suspicious. But I’ll let you make your own judgments in light of the posts.

To whet your appetite, have a listen to the debate available on this webpage. Simply select ’20 Feb – Intelligent Design’ from the list of previous shows. One of the debaters drove me up the frigging wall, but I’m sure I don’t even need to explain ...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The use of Scripture in Christian Zionism: a critical examination. Pt. 9

Once again, thank you to those who have commented in the last post in this series. I will return to the points made in the comments, especially those by a certain ‘Roodee’ and the ever articulate David Wilkerson, but as I suggested here I shall first simply present the case that I think makes most sense, then respond to the points that have been raised in later posts, especially as I think they deserve a little more lime-light in this series than would otherwise be possible in the comments.

The NT hermeneutical appropriation of the OT: Snapshots (c)

Temple in Acts 7: Motyer writes (in the linked to article in the previous in this series):

‘Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 is a subtle presentation, which also hinges around the promise to Abraham. Stephen gives the promise a very different and particular ‘spin’ in 7:7, “afterwards they will come out of that country (Egypt) and worship me in this place.” These words were actually addressed to Moses, in Exodus 3:12, but Stephen draws them forward in time and attaches them to the foundational promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:14. Why does he do this? The strategy seems to be to suggest that the promise of worshipping God in this place has never yet been fulfilled—not, that is, until the coming of Jesus and the worship associated with him. Stephen tells Israel’s history so as to highlight (a) Israel’s constant unfaithfulness to the law and worship of other gods, (b) the inadequacy of the both the tabernacle and the temple as places of worship, and (c) the strange way in which the most real encounters with God all took place outside the promised land’ (9).

He goes on:

‘Stephen never quite makes the point, but the implied punchline, never delivered because his hearers shouted him down and covered their ears, is “the promise to Abraham has now, at last, been fulfilled in the Righteous One you crucified!” For him, too, the real point of the covenant was not possession of the land or the physical temple, but the inner relationship with God, which was now open to all who were ready to abandon loyalty to land and temple, and believe in Jesus’ (9).

While one may question the use of the words ‘abandon’ and ‘inner’ in the previous, once again the notion of the story reaching its climax and fulfilment in Christ is clear. The OT texts are not being mined in a Nostrodamus-chronological-proof-text fashion to demonstrate biblical foresight of this or that event, but they are being read in light of the Christ-event. The hermeneutic is christocentric, at least if understood in a broader sense as discussed in an earlier post in this series.

Actually, I suggest that these points are merely the tips of a giant iceberg. The appropriation of ‘Servant of YHWH’ passages in the NT is, in most cases (apart from the end of Romans), demonstrative of the same vision: Christ is portrayed in terms of the nation of Israel, and her mission (cf. Mat 3:17; Mark 10:45; Acts 8:30-35). Indeed, it has become increasingly popular to argue that this understanding sits behind the justification for the early church mission (to the nations), and is even linked closely to the theme of justification in Paul (cf. Wright’s Climax of the Covenant). For more on this in relation to the historical Jesus, cf. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God, and in particular his recourse to the ‘son of man’ theme in Dan 7 (though my internal jury is still ‘out’ on the thrust of some of the arguments in this volume)

I am supplying only a few snapshots of the early church use of the OT, in order to grasp their hermeneutical movement. Nevertheless, I submit that this is, to a greater or lesser extent, a consistent picture throughout the varied NT writings. I concur with Motyer who writes :

‘For all these New Testament writers, the process of re-reading the Old Testament promises produces a christology which takes up the great themes associated with the covenant in the Old Testament (people, election, law, worship, temple, sacrifice, land, Jerusalem, the presence of God, witness to the nations and universal blessing)—and re-focuses them around Jesus’

As Paul writes in Romans 16:25-27: ‘Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen’. I’ll leave you to work on this question: What is made known through the prophetic writings?

We are almost at the point at which I can actually start relating these observations to the use of Scripture in CZ! Alas, I felt it was necessary to detail some of these points, even if only superficially, otherwise the following won’t sound as plausible. However, I will first summarise the points I wished to make in the previous few posts in this series, and would most appreciate your feedback at that point.

(Art via http://www.answers.com/)