It has been quite some time since anything was posted on this blog. The pre-Holy Week guest posts have dried up (although hopefully my youngest brother will have sent me something before the weekend). I am presently enjoying my mid-semester break, although not a whole lot has been achieved so far. We have eaten a lot, entertained a number of people, caught up on some DVD watching and played far too much Settlers of Catan and Canasta. I have probably only read no more than one hundred and fifty pages or so of various books within the last couple of days.
Later today we are having more people over for a big meal, prior to a Desperate Housewives evening that my housemate Simon is organizing. I think that I will probably opt out of that (and not just because Desperate Housewives jumped the shark a while back). Tomorrow we have an all-day Lord of the Rings session, where we will be watching the three extended versions back-to-back. I will try and get some study done this evening to help me to justify a full day off. We have a 24-athon planned for next week, which should be even more intense. Hopefully, the LoTR day will help me to get in shape for that.
The following are some of the various things that have caught my attention online over the last few days.
I haven’t read either of them yet, but David Field has posted links to two Oak Hill dissertations, one on Romans 2:1-16 and another on Romans 8:13.
***Kim Fabricius’ Ten Propositions on Being a Theologian
***Also on Faith and Theology, Ben links to reports of Kathryn Tanner’s Warfield lectures and talks about his top 20 theological influences (very interesting reading; I will have to try to put together such a list sometime).
***Peter Leithart’s recent Pro Ecclesia article, ‘Justification as Verdict and Deliverance’, is receiving positive press on a number of places on the blogosphere. Al Kimel (aka: The Pontificator) blogs about it here and ‘Martin Luther’ makes some — rather strange — remarks here.
***John H has some good remarks on faith and certainty:—
In other words, faith isn’t something we are to try to work up in ourselves. It isn’t some inner state of certainty to which we somehow attain. God, in his mercy towards us, does not require us to hold within our heads at one moment the whole truth of Christianity, and to assent to it. Rather, he comes to us with concrete, audible promises: “Your sins are forgiven”; “Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ”; “This is my body, given for you… this cup is the new testament in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins”. Faith is believing the promise we are hearing right now.
Read his whole post here.
***Pope Benedict XVI tries to remind people of the existence of hell.
***Islamic feminist theologians (I suppose that that, like lesbian Eskimo bishops, some have to exist somewhere…).
***Garrett questions the value of long sermons.
***Mark Goodacre writes in defence of Wikipedia. Dr Jim West disagrees strongly.
***‘John Lennon’s Born-Again Phase’ [via Dave Armstrong]
***As usual, there have been some great posts on Leithart’s blog over the last few days. In this post he talks about a type of hospitality that has largely been lost or forgotten in our world.
The church set up various institutional forms of hospitality, including hospitals for the rejected and marginalized sick and weak. But the early church fathers also said that individual believers were supposed to show the same hospitality. Christine Pohl writes of Chrysostom: “Even if the needy person could be fed from common funds, Chrysostom asked, ‘Can that benefit you? If another man prays, does it follow that you are not bound to pray?’ He urged his parishioners to make a guest chamber in their own houses, a place set apart for Christ — a place within which to welcome ‘the maimed, the beggars, and the homeless.'”
It is quite easy to be charitable from a distance. The effort necessary to slow the frenetic pace of our lives down to be able to extend personal care and hospitality to people in need, rather than merely donating money is considerable. I have been very blessed by the example of my parents in this respect. Over the years we have taken many needy people into our home to live with us, for periods of time varying from a few days to a number of months. We have taken in itinerants, homeless people, students, recovering drug addicts and many others. Whilst our hospitality has been abused on more than one occasion, the experience of sharing your life with people in need is such a valuable and eye-opening one that I don’t think that we have any major regrets, even though we might do things slightly differently in the future. Quite apart from anything else, you learn a lot about yourself and your own weaknesses and failings.
Leithart also has some great posts on Jane Austen: ‘Keeping us Reading’, ‘Austen and Prejudice’ and ‘Communal Judgment, Communal Argument’.
***Tim Challies writes on the subject of discernment in the gray areas.
***Paleojudaica, Dr Jim Davila’s blog, turned 4 over the weekend. A belated ‘Happy Birthday!’.
***In my last links post, I linked to a post on speed-reading. Since then Matt has linked to this tool (I’m not sure that I find it particularly helpful, though) and the Evangelical Outpost links to this post on how to read a lot of books in a short time. John Barach speaks up on behalf of slow reading. It surprises some people when I tell them, but I slow-read most books, principally because I am of the conviction that the quality of one’s reading is more important than the quantity. The best books are to be savoured. I also slow read many of the worst books, as I feel duty bound to ensure that I understand someone very well before I strongly disagree with them. I also write lots of comments in the margins of my books and underline many sections, which slows down the reading process considerably.
***John Piper and Ligon Duncan speak on the subject of ‘The Challenge of the New Perspective to Biblical Justification’ on the Albert Mohler Radio Program.
***Some facts about the top 1000 books found in libraries [HT: Tim Challies].
***Josh, the fearsome Lutheran pirate, writes in defence of women’s ordination (don’t worry, he is not seriously advocating the position).
***Mark Whittinghill alerts us to a new posthumous Tolkien book. It should be released in under a month.
***Michael Spencer links to a list of D.A. Carson MP3s.
***Lifehacker tells us how to cure hiccups with sugar and gives a guide to power-napping.
***There is a new Youtube channel dedicated to material about the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first video contains the archbishop’s reflections on the slave pits in Zanzibar.
***Also in the world of Youtube, the Youtube Video Awards have been announced.
***Why models don’t smile and 101 great posting ideas [HT: The Evangelical Outpost].