This morning I finished my last exam of the semester. It is a great relief to have finally completed this year at St. Andrews. It has been considerably less productive than the year before (I suspect that there has been a downward trend in my productivity for over three years now, which is rather depressing) and I look forward to really putting my back into the work for my final year. My results haven’t suffered that much, but I would like to have a bit more to show for my time.
In a few days’ time — possibly after I return to St. Andrews next Tuesday — I hope to start posting the subject of the atonement, a subject which will probably dominate this blog over the summer. However, it has been well over a month since I last posted a links post, and I thought that I would mark my return to regular service with a bumper collection of some of the things that have caught my attention over the last month or so.
Matt Colvin’s Fragmenta blog has always been a personal favourite. Matt has been posting some great material recently. Two posts in particular that I have enjoyed: ‘Baptism for Forgiveness in Acts 2:38’ (an analysis of the grammatical arguments put forward by some to avoid a close relationship between Baptism and forgiveness in that passage) and ‘Examine Yourselves: Testing in Corinth and Crete’ (in which Matt challenges the introspective understanding of ‘examine yourselves’ through a careful examination of the Greek). Both posts give a voice to texts that have all too often fallen prey to theological agendas.
***I am not sure that I agree with all of Josh S’s propositions, but Proposition 5 (‘If your theology makes you uncomfortable with biblical language, your theology needs to change’) is, in my experience, one of the most important principles that I have ever learned. I seem to remember that my father first taught me this principle over several years’ ago.
***Stephen Carlson links to some helpful posts with advice for honing your academic writing. Such honing is long overdue in my case. Perhaps something to devote some time to over the summer.
***As usual there is a wealth of quality posting on Peter Leithart’s blog. Over the last month Leithart has posted a number of things that may be of interest to NTW fans: ‘Five Points of NT Wright’, ‘Paul and Israel’, ‘Justification and Community’ and a lengthy PDF document: Jesus as Israel: The Typological Structure of Matthew’s Gospel.
Leithart also has a number of other helpful posts that address FV debates, including ‘Perichoretic Imagination’, ‘Theological Imagination’, ‘Grace’, ‘Denying the Gospel’ and a guest post by James Jordan, ‘Justification and Glorification’.
There are also a number of other interesting and thought-provoking posts, including ‘Faith and Grace’ (about different ways of conceiving of the relationship between faith and grace, with particular reference to the practice of infant Baptism), ‘Justification and Purity’ (in which he mentions Chris VanLandingham’s recent work and his argument that justification language has to do more with ‘state of being’ than with ‘status’ — perhaps a challenging case for the application of Josh’s fifth proposition) and ‘Rites Controversy’ (some thoughts on the relationship between traditional Chinese practices and the Christian faith in the 17th and 18th centuries).
***Mark Goodacre posts on the subject of PhDs in the UK and US (something that is playing on my mind at the moment too). He also links to a Guardian article on recent trouble at Wycliffe Hall.
***Jason Fout posts on the subject of living with questions.
***NTW on Jerry Falwell. There are also a number of new audio lectures linked from the N.T. Wright Page:
Putting the World to Rights
God’s Restorative Program
***James White links to a — presumably heavily critical — series on the NPP.
***Mark posts a lengthy grand unifying Lost theory. I must confess to being cheered by recent developments on the show; for a while I was concerned that it may have jumped the shark.
***On Ben Myers blog: ‘Ten Propositions on Being a Minister’ and a plug for Mike Bird’s new book on the NPP (which looks extremely helpful).
***Ben also links to this lecture by Archbishop Rowan Williams, something that I really must read when I have the time.
***Bill Kesatie asked me to respond to this post on the subject of sexual abuse of children within churches. Bill suggests that blogging Christians need to be more vocal about this matter. I suggest that the teaching of Ephesians 5:11-12 is important to keep in mind here:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.
In our day and age there is virtually no sin so evil that it cannot be spoken of and discussed (almost literally) ad nauseum. There is a sort of unhealthy fascination with perversion that can develop in such a manner, a sort of urge to stoop and sniff the faeces. People who spend a lot of time talking and thinking about sin are in a very dangerous position for this reason. Even though they may condemn the sin in the strongest possible language, there is something about it that arouses their interest.
I am a firm believer in the importance of certain taboos. There are certain things that it is unfitting to talk about. Where sexual abuse of children takes place it is healthy to literally feel sick in the pit of your stomach. Our reaction should be one of deep revulsion. Wherever such sin occurs the Scriptures call us to expose it as a work of darkness. Such an approach of exposing sin has, tragically, not always been followed in Christian contexts. Sin has on occasions been covered up, something which is utterly inexcusable.
The biblical command to expose sin should not, however, be confused with the idea of having a public conversation about such sin. I am shocked by the idea that Christian bloggers should be expected to post condemnations of the sin of child abuse within churches; condemnations are the means by which people who fail to live lives of transparent godliness tend to assert their morality. The fact that we are called upon to condemn such appalling sins suggests that such sins are less than unspeakable and unthinkable to the people of God. Biblically, the Church exposes darkness, not chiefly by condemning it with public statements, but by living as the light of the world.
For this reason, rather than post a condemnation of unspeakable sin, I would prefer to post a challenge for us to be the sort of people for whom such sin truly is unspeakable and unthinkable, for us to be people whose utter rejection of such sin is so completely manifested by the way that we deal with it when it occurs that any further words would merely detract from the fulness of its condemnation.
***Jon Barlow posts on Doug Wilson and Christopher Hitchens and their current debate. His thoughts on Doug Wilson are very close to my own.
***A couple of weeks ago, Barbara tagged me in the seven things you didn’t know about me meme. Here goes:
1. In my first school play at the age of five I was an angel. Midway through the play the elastic on my trousers broke and the crowd were amused and distracted by my attempts to hide the fact and hold them up. My teacher was not too impressed.
2. I went on strike for a day in primary school, because I was annoyed that the supply teacher was a smoker. The primary school that I attended was a small Church of Ireland school, with four years to each room. My younger brother Jonathan was in the same room as me for a couple of years. As a rather absent-minded kid, he was constantly getting into trouble with the teacher. On one occasion when he was being lectured to (and pyschoanalyzed) by the teacher at the front of the class I felt so strongly that he was being treated unfairly that I wrote a letter of protest and handed it around my classmates. It was intercepted and my mind has long sought to suppress the memories of the resulting experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn my lesson on that occasion and, in secondary school I wrote another letter of protest to a teacher, which led to a session in the principal’s office.
3. The first album I ever bought was (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis. I still enjoy listening to it today, but at the time, I would have probably been better off had I not bought it as it was, to some extent, a means by which I could rebel against my parents.
4. I have never broken a bone, although I have sprained each of my ankles several times. When I injure myself it is usually playing football or riding my bike. The last time it was a badly sprained ankle. The time before, I slipped on dog doo and cracked my forehead on a brick wall. Unfortunately, the manner of my fall was so amusing that, looking up in my dazed state, all I saw were my friends looking down at me and laughing.
5. I have needle phobia. I feel rather annoyed at myself for having such an irrational fear. Whilst I have faced my fear on a number of occasions in having injections or in donating blood, I haven’t been able to shake the fear itself.
6. I started balding at the age of 16. I noticed about 10 years before some other people did. I guess that you don’t see what you don’t expect to see (and some people are not the most observant).
7. Growing up, I always wanted to be an artist, a soldier, a pilot, a missionary or a maths teacher. Frankly, I probably had a better idea then than I do now.
If you want to be tagged, consider yourself tagged.
***Dr Jim West mentions a forthcoming book by Richard Bauckham, which looks very interesting, The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple: Narrative, History, and Theology in the Gospel of John.
***John H has two great posts with thoughts from Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh: ‘Surging, hopeful, joyful doubt’ and ‘The puzzling mystery of unbelief’. He also has a post, entitled ‘The gospel “under the papacy”‘, which he begins with the remark: ‘One irony of becoming a Lutheran was that it greatly improved my opinion of the Roman Catholic Church.’ Very interesting.
***Kevin Bywater has a great series of posts on the subject of sinlessness in Second Temple Judaism:
Second Temple Judaism and Sinlessness (Prayer of Manasseh)
Second Temple Judaism and Sinlessness (2 – Gathercole’s Wise Words)
Second Temple Judaism and Sinlessness (3 – D. Falk on Prayer of Manasseh)
Second Temple Judaism and Sinlessness (4 – Other Texts)
***Mercersberg Review articles available online.
***Angie Brennan posts the ‘Screwtape E-mails’.
***Some interesting things from lifehacker:
Top ten sites for free books
Learning the finer points of punctuation
Top 10 body hacks
***A very interesting article on the Bible in the global South.
***A new blog: The Reformed News. Looks interesting.
***Finally, some gleanings from Youtube.
I got myself a copy of the Arcade Fire’s most recent album and have been listening to it incessantly over the last month. Here is a performance of the title track:
If you haven’t seen the Potter Pals before, this is a lot of fun (or you may find it incredibly annoying and stupid):
Finally, a powerful speech by Bono: