Month: February 2014

The magisterial hermeneutic

IMG_2525 “All reality has its meaning in Jesus Christ:
he is the purpose and the goal of creation.”
   Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel Centered Hermeneutics, 83.


Behaviorism and belief and life

TryinImageg to change behavior without changing the thoughts/beliefs so often results in a colossal waste of time, and results in little more than temporarily changed behavior. More importantly, we must first consider our worldviews and assumptions as moral positions of thought and belief, and that they are what determine how we act. Thought-life which embraces erroneous beliefs leads to unbelief, and is not morally neutral as commonly assumed today. Thus, when we change our beliefs we are truly making moral choices. To make such changes requires us to be completely honest with ourselves before God, and this then allows/enables us to logically change our behavior. As is often succinctly said, “Ideas have consequences.” Indeed, all ideas have consequences, either to good or evil. In fact, it does not appear possible to have a neutral idea. The denial of this simple truth in our generation has been the cause of untold confusion and moral degradation. In sum, what we think and believe naturally leads to what we live. Therefore, what we are learning now is an essential aspect of our spiritual growth and sanctification, or the contrary. Learning is something so inescapably integral to what we are as humans, that it is thus futile to deny that it is always a moral concern. What we learn today is related to all that we do in this life, and what we learn, and how we learn, will impact us in every conceivable way today and tomorrow and forever. So, let us learn to believe in order to live according to the Truth.

The delight of learning, which impels people to study God’s works more and more deeply, is really finding pleasure in God.[1]

[1] Veith, Loving God With All Your Mind, p. 152.

Hermeneutics and Sanctification

“Our hermeneutical endeavor is ideally the sanctificational process that is the fruit of our Savior’s perfect hermeneutics and response to the word of God.” Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel Centered Hermeneutics, p. 57.perspective building

Bible, Archaeology, and Apologetics Seminar at Faith Seminary

To all friends of Faith Theological Seminary, ALL ARE WELCOME (AND IT IS FREE)
This is a reminder of an event at Faith Theological Seminary this coming Saturday:

The Bible, Archaeology, and Apologetics Seminar

ImageThe biannual seminar at FTS this semester is on the exciting subject of very recent biblical archaeological digs and discoveries in Israel. It is open to all and free (donations will be accepted), and is required for all FTS students. It will be presented by the staff of Associates for Biblical Research (ABR). It will include recent explorations related to Noah’s ark, the ancient city of Shiloh and the ark of the covenant, new evidence about the location of Ai and the date of the Israelite wanderings and the conquest, and more…

Date and Time:
March 1, 2014, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Faith Theological Seminary
529 Walker Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21212


How not to read the Bible: a brief lesson in hermeneutics and name-calling

ImageA lesson in hermeneutics and name-calling: this is adapted and expanded from Dr. Gary Shogrun’s class notes on Hermeneutics. Name-calling is the worst form of argumentation, but it works to get our attention.  We can, if we are honest, see ourselves in these characterizations to some degree. The meanings of traditional “names” are drawn from Quips and Quirks by Clyde Watson, as follows:

Shilly-Shallyer the Mystic says, “if God wants me to understand the Bible He will show me. I do not need help.” His anti-intellectualism is fetching to this generation, but such “easy believism” leaves little room for real thought. As Pascal wrote, “Two excesses: to exclude reason, to admit nothing but reason” (Pensees, Penguin, # 183).

Gangleshanks the Gullible believes whatever he is told; if it is written it must be true. Influenced by Shilly-Shalyer the Mystic who is fond of saying, “Don’t ask questions, just believe.”

Rattleskull the Relativist says, “What it means to me is what it means.” Was once a devout friend of Shilly-Shaller the Mystic, but has never had much time for Gangleshanks the Gullible. Very good at “pooling ignorance,” especially in small Bible study groups. 

Pilfer the Presuppositionalist has no time for proving God or the scripture. He simply “presupposes” whatever he believes, and tends to force his feeble philosophical views upon the Bible and others. Very fond of quoting obscure and erudite philosophers and theologians in Latin.

Halfwit the Historicist may believe that the Bible is human “history,” but it does not relate much to us today, and certainly is not from God, since it mostly just relays the ancient beliefs of ancient people. He lately spends considerable time at the pub with Diehard the Deist debating the question of divine sovereignty.

Xavier Xerox passes on what others have said. He is also rather uncritical in his reading. As the brother of Poll-Parrot he likewise mainly repeats everything he hears. Simply put, he usually, and boldly, passes on misinformation from the occasional commentaries that cross his path, especially to Gangleshanks the Gullible.

Dolt the Dullard and Bumpkin the Dimwit are bored box-brains who react to the Bible or to a good sermon with, “I have heard all this before.” They are both close relations of Clodhopper, and Dodo, and in company with Shilly-Shallyer the Mystic have little patience with reading books, especially the Bible.

Hot-Spur and Tinderbox are fiercely and furiously stirred at the least provocation on tangential theological issues, or “pet” interpretations of obscure texts. They have little time for Mr Numskulls, Creampuff, Mr. Milksop, or Blockhead.

Creampuff and Milksop feeble mindedly fear anything deeper(or more threatening) than a ten minute “quiet-time” which consists of a half page “daily devotion.” Sometimes in frightful situations Milksop uses an alias: either Scatterbrain or Featherhead. Good friends of Slugabed and Looby.

Slugabed and Looby are too lazy to turn the page. Like the fool they turn on their beds as “rusty hinges.” Sons of good, old Stick-in-the-Mud.

Bellyacher and Grizzleguts always whine and complain that the text poses too many “problems” that they can not resolve, so why bother. Related to Killjoy, Glump, and Wetblanket.

In contrast, Rubberneck and Gongoozler both gape in curiosity at anything “unusual,” “problematic,” or “strange” in the text and are apt to gossip about Hot Spur and Tinderbox, second cousins, and they don’t quite hit it off with cynical Bellyacher and Grizzleguts.

Similarly, but with lest zest, Humdrum and Wiseacre can reel off the monotonous litany of “theories held” about any number of tertiary curiosities they pick up from biblical commentaries. They both admire Shilly-Shallyer’s loose mindedness, but have no umpf for his mystical pursuits.

At risk of being associated with Magpie, Windjammer, and Chatterbasket, who all love to yak, I now end this sad name-calling tirade. 

poem on the past, present, & future

Harvey Cedars, NJ, August 21, 2013
There is a loon far in my future
who alone dives deep, lunging
forward, and away from, deeply
into the green-grey sea.

Where once there were countless
butterflies reaching out past
the breakers of another tide,
they plunged headstrong.

And now, a different time
of the present arrangement of places,
people, and the moving of dunes upon which I first
really prayed, ‘thy kingdom come on this earth.’

My boys and the gulls
resist the breaking of waves,
and freedom calling them away
far in their future another script.

The sea-screed and scum
of frothy foam, below the grey-blue sky
looming, longing, forward
to the crescent waves of joy and sadness.

Such beauty to break upon us,
this burden they cannot bear
out under the stars, to lift up,
I cannot carry this nor master it.

When is the broken thread to be remade, rewoven?

There was a time
deep in the Canyon
I could not speak
in their presence
and my boys were dreaming
of the blue and corals of Bermuda
and the galaxies overhead awoke us
at midnight so that we could not sleep
and the ravens we were told
would steal and the scorpions
would sting, so stay alert,
this world was inundated, adumbrated,
it was water to fifteen cubits
over the highest mountain
the catastrophe of the covenant-colors
stretched over the future of the earth
dreaming of turtles and conches
digging for sand crabs in castles to house them
while the city was afire with none to carry
the burden.

There was a time we stood
in the roaring wind on an Irish mountain
looking out to the Irish Sea
dreaming of love untold
to break upon us on the shore
as memories coalesced
in a colossal siege.

So we stand in the future
staring into the past
with eyes afire
and unmeasured hope.

We see pain and the surface of things,
ships bobble ten miles out
on the horizon-line.
My perspective must shift
to draw the whole.
“Time is as swift as a weaver’s shuttle.”
Metaphors from another place
and moment, a different arrangement
of threads, umbrellas, breakers, dunes, and
marbleized currents.

There is a blue guitar in the cellar
beyond the reasoning mind,
and its memories,
where poets debate poetics and meaning
– and time and place –
for what reason do I put words
to paper here with the skies aflame,
five hundred billion galaxies,
and speech, inarticulate words,
eludes me like the raccoon that once awoke us
in a Door County night near the Lake
stealing food outside our tent.

We see the sorrows
of those left here to wonder
at this world, its place, our efforts
to speak of it.

Will we ever return
to where blue, cold waters pass
the velvet, grassy hills
where we would picnic and read
to drink of thoughts,
and there seemed to be no past or future,
no present, no time really.

Perhaps it was a way of seeing
we speak of when we remember,
we think we feel something
as we remember the sweetest scent of mowed hay
and when the herds stormed like hurricanes
and a panicked steer in the hardened snow
we chased for such a time we could not recall.

There was also a towering Victorian hotel
at the top of the hill
where we would sled in deep snows
and sometimes we met the trees at the bottom
before the icy creek embraced us.
Brashly we swung out on ropes in mid-winter.
One time I fell in and then ran four blocks
for shelter in the warm laundromat.
Another place and time and mountain,
a storm of ferocity and lightning that
missed us by measured distance
singed our hair and hearts,
until we found refuge in
another steaming laundromat
near Watkins Glen.

We long to retell them all, to tell them all
– to remember what beauty remains –
to speak of our ravenous, harsh assaults
on this inarticulate world.


New creation has begun


I began teaching a study of the new creation theme for the adult Sunday education class at church this week. We had a very lively discussion generated by some start-up questions about the purpose of the coming of Christ (to save our souls, or our souls/bodies and creation?), the nature of the cosmos (good or evil?), whether we are fundamentally “spiritual” beings (what do material and spiritual mean?), the dualism of Plato and Gnosticism (and those influences on Christian theology), and whether the physical world will be destroyed (or renewed/recreated/redeemed) in the end. Looking forward to the next discussion!