Friday, April 24, 2009

Verily, verily...

No statement, theological or otherwise, should be made that would not be credible in the presence of burning children. [source]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

For Those Among Us Considering Moving To The Holy Isle

Do consider this:
We do not hear very much from the Church of England about the plight of Christians, and particularly Anglicans, in hostile foreign environments. Under the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the church does not like to make too much of a fuss about murdered priests in the Sudan, the constant fears of samizdat believers in Riyadh, the continued state persecution in Turkey, the perpetual discrimination in Indonesia and Malaysia and Bangladesh. Or about the Punjabi Christian dragged before a court in Pakistan accused of having sent a blasphemous message on his mobile phone, the Muslim hordes screaming for the death sentence outside the court. The thousands of Christians in Bauchi, Nigeria, watching their homes burned to the ground and their leaders attacked by, again, Muslim mobs. The beatings and murders in liberated — yea, praise the lord! — Afghanistan. We don’t hear much about that stuff from anyone, be it the BBC, our politicians or most notably the Church of England.

You might expect the C of E to feel at least a little bit uncomfortable that Anglicans were being strung up or burned alive in the middle east and elsewhere. But it does not seem to be an enormous issue for the prelates. The problem being that it would bring Rowan, and the church, into conflict with the very Islamists with whom they are thoroughly enjoying their important ‘inter-faith dialogues’, by which they seem to set so much store. These inter-faith dialogues have never, ever, to my knowledge, touched upon Islamic persecution of Christians: all the traffic is in the other direction, and the Church of England thinks it is all going swimmingly. [source]

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oh Blessed Lord!

And then there is Dennis - he who has recently gifted me two texts, the subject of which is largely gift (and to a lesser extent, text): one, two. There is a certain providentiality to the whole thing, too (but in two senses). Firstly, in that I was provided with something which I lacked. Secondly, it is providential in that I received GWB the day immediately following the very period of liturgical time that caused me to suspend reading it. (It is triply providential if you consider that when I first found the book, said finding was attributed to providence!)

To whet the appetite with a glimpse of the joys to come, consider the following essay titles (from here):
  1. Evil in Person
  2. The Freedom to be Free
  3. Evidence and Bedazzlement
  4. The Intentionality of Love
  5. The Crucial Crisis
  6. The Gift of Presence
  7. What Love Knows
Of the reading of books there is no end.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Some of Many Mysteries

Josh [the Liar]:
Some mysteries are knowable, solvable in this life. Some are not. There are mysteries in Scripture that can be solved through study, but there are some mysteries that will likely remain until the Eschaton. When Jesus stooped and wrote in the mud, what did He write? In the creation week, did the animals materialize from thin air or did they crawl out of the earth, hooves first, pulling their heads and torsos from the soil as claws blindly felt for rocks to grasp hold of? Did the Christ dream, and if so, what did He dream of? [source]

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In Which Derek Thomas is Wholly Unaware of the Brazos Theological Commentary Series

Thomas writes:
I have several concerns, but one seems to me to be a lack of appreciation of the value of exegesis and anaysis from a perspective of systematic theology. [source]
If he only knew about these.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"baptizo"

I have long been persuaded that we English-speaking Christians do ourselves a great disservice by translating the word baptizo into "baptize." It's not even really a translation. It's just a semantic warping to make the word sound more English than it really is.

The problem is that, in translating baptizo as "baptize," we obfuscate the full meaning of the word. Whereas, we might readily define "baptize" as "to administer Christian Baptism," baptizo really only barely approximates such a definition. The anglicized version of baptizo only calls to mind already assumed meanings of the word - one is more likely to consult their church's confessional document before they would pick up a Greek lexicon.

It's not that baptizo has nothing to do with the Christian religious rite. It does, but in terms of literal meaning, the word itself corresponds primarily to the experience of baptism, rather than to the objective act itself. Baptizo is about being "overwhelmingly covered in cleansing water" [source]. If the difference is unclear, think about it this way: It's like the difference between saying "John got married." and "John was joined in holy matrimony to a lovely wife." Baptizo pertains more to the latter than the former, and I think by choosing to ignore that, passages like Acts ii, 41 loose some of the depth of their meaning.

"sacrifice"

Kline, in his Kingdom Prologue, noted that the word "sacrifice" is derived from two Latin words: sacra and facer. A literal translation of sacrifice, then, would be "to make sacred" or "to make holy". Unfortunately, what Kline didn't pursue, was why this is interesting.

Typically "sacrifice" is associated with some sort of transaction, often a bloody one. But strictly speaking, the word itself says nothing about a making holy through transaction or through death. For some reason, though, those things are always assumed to be the nature of the case. Christians impute entire atonement theologies to the word despite the fact that "sacrifice" has no inherent qualities of transaction, be they transactions of ransom or imputation. On the face of it, "sacrifice," etymologically, is roughly approximate to "sanctify."

An obvious reply at this point would be to take note of the fact that the actual manuscripts on which our English translations are based don't actually say "sacrifice" or some proleptic Latin form of the term. The places in the Old Testament where some Hebrew words are translated "sacrifice" and the places in the New Testament where some Greek words are translated "sacrifice" may carry all those connotations that we (arbitrarily?) attribute to the English word, however absent they may or may not be. But my reply would be, then why that word? Why "sacrifice" to describe the gruesome mutilation of perfectly pleasant creatures? Why not "slaughter"?

To offer one possible solution, perhaps Christian theology's magnification of the slaughter of Christ and the generally sanctifying effects of that slaughter created such an inseparable fusion of the two things, that every other slaughter in Scripture was renamed, not as the aimless butchery of Cainite wickedness, but as the means to a greater end. That is to say, if we name Christ's death on the Cross a "sacrifice," then it must only be named so because we know as well of the glorious end of Resurrection.