1.26.2013

Review: Job Through New Eyes: A Son For Glory


Job Through New Eyes: A Son For Glory
Job Through New Eyes: A Son For Glory by Toby J. Sumpter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Disclaimer: I’m not a Job expert. This is the first book length commentary I’ve read on it.

Strengths:
Draws strong parallels to Jesus. Job is a type of Christ in many ways. These are not artificial cut and paste statements, but come from digging deep into what is happening to Job and what he is doing in response.

The main theme is that God is refining and maturing Job through this suffering. God uses Satan’s accusation and attack to accomplish God’s prior purpose. Since this is a commentary, Sumpter doesn’t extend application of this, but it is rich soil for speaking to those who are suffering and asking why.

Job’s response is right, while his “friends” did not represent God well (42:7). This was well argued, especially that the friends are another calamity upon Job, another way the Satan accuser comes at him. Job’s repentance in 42:6 is really him being comforted. Intriguing, and very possible according to the original Hebrew. A lot rides on how you interpret these two verses, and part of the point of the book is that things aren’t crystal clear and certain when you’re going through hard times. I found it compelling that the friends are another attack of Satan against Job. They accuse him, as Satan accuses Job to God. They use half-truths to make it sound really convincing, as Satan did with Eve in the Garden. The kicker is that those true parts in Job are hallmark Calvinist doctrines: none are righteous before God; the wicked are paid out in the end. This has many siding with the friends against Job. Part of the irony of the book is that God favors Job, though he may cross the line to accusing God of wrong, and God condemns the friends, though they have spoken true (but irrelevant) things. Chalk this up to God’s grace, to His justice that sees beyond the surface of things (1 Sam 16:7; John 7:24), and to His pattern of blessing those who wrestle with Him until He blesses them.

This is another strength: bringing in larger biblical themes. Sumpter appeals to Abraham, Jacob, Hezekiah and others and really weaves Job more tightly into the canon more than other writers. Most of us see Job as a unique book with little connection to the rest of Scripture. Toby clears away that mist nicely.

Weakness
The case that Job’s friends are conspiring a political coup against Job is more assumed than argued. I counted only a handful of verses cited in support of the idea, and they are a bit shaky. I’ve always viewed Job’s friends as sophomoric theology wonks or misguided clunky handlers of truth. They may also be out to take him down politically, but this is not clear in the text.

Overall, kudos to Toby Sumpter for a fresh reading of Job.



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1.23.2013

Communion for Children

Excellent, and very short! article on why baptized children should partake of the Lord's Supper.

The Martin Luther quote in the comments is priceless:
"When in I Corinthians [11:28] Paul said that a man should examine himself [and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup], he spoke only of adults because he was speaking about those who were quarreling among themselves. However, he doesn’t here forbid that the sacrament of the altar be given even to children." (Martin Luther, Table Talk #365; Luther’s Works, Vol. 54 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967], p. 58)

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How to Undermine Your Pastor


Running the risk of appearing self-serving, I did find several of these points true in my short ministry thus far. I do not know the author.

http://poffclan.blogspot.com/2013/01/13-ways-to-undermine-your-pastor.html

Food Takes Faith


Hebrews 5:8
"though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered."


Faith is basic to this table. Faith is always involved in food. If you buy it at the store, you trust those who produced it, and you probably don’t know them. If you produced it yourself, you know full well the level of faith the farmer needs. At this table we know the grower, we know how He made this bread and wine. How it was made is critical. No impurity in the process whatsoever, and it will never go stale or sour. Jesus was faithful to His Father, so we have food forever. How do we eat it? That is also important. We do this by faith:

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

9/23/12

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Listen to God


Isa 66:1-2, 4
"Thus says the LORD:
“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
2 For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,”
Says the LORD.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word....
4 Because, when I called, no one answered,
When I spoke they did not hear."

David Wells has made the point that God’s holiness does not weigh heavily upon us as it used to, as it did for Isaiah. The same is true of God’s Word. The Church has lost a due sense of trembling at God’s Word. Worship is meeting with God, hearing Him speak and responding in praise and prayer. It is telling that for the church today, worship is mostly singing, it is what WE do. And while we need to be more engaged and active in our worship, we need to worship first by listening to God’s Word. We read responsively to accentuate our participation in worship, but we mustn’t lose sight that God is speaking to us. You know how annoying the person is who isn’t really listening to you, and the nanosecond you’re done they have a yeah but, a rejoinder. They aren’t really listening. We can do this to God. Do we really expect guidance and direction from Him in His Word? Do we stay open to His leading as we read and understand the Bible? Or have we already decided what needs to be done on our own?

9/23/12

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1.21.2013

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Justin Taylor posts MLK's Letter from a Birmingham jail here, in honor of the day.

I'd never read it and found it quite good. It's a bit long, but at least read 2-3 paragraphs starting halfway down with "We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights." He lays out a decent case for non-violent civil disobedience to unjust laws, often appealing to the Bible.

Being Re-Membered


Sin brings division. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God sent them out. When Jesus bore our sins on the cross, the Father forsook Him. As Isaiah says [59:2], our sins separate us from God.

But God overcomes that division. He is the great bridge builder. He does it. We cannot. Sin dis-members, but God in Christ re-members us. We are made members of His body, again, reconciled to God in Christ.

9/16/12

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Not winners and losers, but Christ-like service


Like Paul and Barnabas in our sermon text this morning [Acts 15:36-41], Euodia and Syntyche couldn’t get along for a time [Philippians 4:2-3]. The Philippians must have had a hard time with this a lot, because Paul several times tells them to be of the same mind, or like-minded. This doesn’t mean they are mental clones of each other on every issue. When there is a disagreement in theology or practice, there doesn’t have to be a loser who surrenders and a winner whose view conquers. The key to likemindedness isn’t like that, but described in 2:5 – the mind of Christ must prevail. We must be willing to take a lower place than we think we deserve. Humble service and obedience is the Lord’s path for us, more than self-assertion. We are more likely to serve our way up, than to argue our way up.

9/16/12

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1.15.2013

Coming Closer

After confession, we are consecrated to God. In the sacrificial picture, this is an ascension to God. So we stand up, and starting last week, we often say we lift up our hearts to God. We come nearer, though we have already come. It is like children being called in for dinner, but then being sent to wash their hands. Once you’ve washed, okay, NOW you can come. We always sing after hearing our sins are forgiven, as a way to celebrate, and express our gratitude to God, and it is a picture of ascent. Heb 13:15 says we offer a sacrifice of praise to God, now.

After we sing, we read God’s Word responsively. We stand to read God’s Word at this point, out of reverence and to give better attention. Please remember to love your church family by not moving in and out of the room when God’s Word is read, unless there is a fire or a medical emergency. Help each other pay close attention to the Word. If you find yourself at the back door heading for your seat, it’s best to wait until we are singing before returning. That’s the least distracting time for most.

9/9/12

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Peaceful Union


The Lord’s Table is a place of love, reconciliation, peace, and unity. The early church made sure her very different members could sit down at the same table together to eat. Jesus Christ is our common ground, our common meal. Let us pursue unity in Him.

In the OT sacrifice, the animal was killed, drained of the blood, the blood was put on the altar and the meat was cooked and eaten. In the NT we re-present the results of the final sacrifice of the Lamb. The body and blood are already separated, because Jesus is already sacrificed, once for all. The Jews were not to eat or drink animal blood, for the life is in the blood. It is the death, the blood of Jesus that atones. We need union with Christ Jesus to live. This wine symbolizes the sap of the vine by which we abide in Him. We need unity with Christ and with His people. Let us consider the body of Christ, dead and risen, and His body the church, broken and hurting, fed and healed.

9/9/12

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Mouthing Off


Ecclesiastes 5:1-2
"Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.
    2      Do not be rash with your mouth, 
          And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. 
          For God is in heaven, and you on earth; 
          Therefore let your words be few."


The fool tries to assert himself with his words, even over God. He thinks God will hear him for his many words. But all the words in the world won’t cover up your sin. Some try to make up for their sin with works, others try words. We try this with people, too. We try to assert our will, control or manipulate others, with words. But Proverbs gives us a godly picture. 17:27 - He who has knowledge spares his words.  10:19 - In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise. 29:11 - A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.

Young people can easily dishonor their parents with their quick words, but it is humility to listen. There is a time to speak, to give input, to assert. But if you find yourself talking a lot to get out of trouble, or get your way, or even just to explain yourself, there may be a character problem beyond just a talkative personality. Let us remember the power of the tongue to damage and destroy. James tells us “we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man…. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.” (3:2, 5b-6a)


9/9/12

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Lot's Daughters and Disinvitations

The question came up in our sermon discussion Sunday - I'm not sure how - of how many daughters Lot had.

Here's the biblical information:
1. Lot had two virgin daughters living with him (19:8)
2. Lot had sons-in-law who had married, or were to marry, his daughters (19:14)
3. Lot had two daughters with him who escaped the city with him (19:15-16)

Number one has no dispute.

Number two does. Had they married already (NKJV), or were they to marry (ESV)? The Hebrew participle can be read either way. If they were already married, then Lot has at least four daughters. If they were to marry, then Lot could have just two daughters. Then they were betrothed like Joseph and Mary: considered married but she had not yet known a man.

Number three: the angels tell Lot to take the daughters "who are here" and flee. This also can be read two different ways. It sounds at first like there are other daughters of Lot who aren't there: those married to the sons-in-law. This could be. But the Hebrew word is the passive of "find" and implies they've been recovered, like lost sheep who are "found." It would make sense that Lot's two daughters wake up to the awfulness of settling in Sodom after the mob attacks their home. They decide to flee with father and break off instead of consummate their marriages to Sodomites.

Commmentators tied to the KJV text assume Lot had 4 or more daughters. The majority of those I read who examine the Hebrew in verse 14 figure that there were two betrothed yet virgin daughters. This could really go either way.


Ultimately this question is of less import than bigger questions. Living in a wicked environment you will find yourself squeezed like Lot is, here. Don't get tied to its comforts. Be ready to forsake it to follow Christ. Remember Lot's wife. Jesus Himself says this incident has application for us (Luke 17:32). Sacrificing your family to be in such a place (19:8) will bring consequences later (19:30-38). Lot cannot be condemned without qualification, though, according to Scripture. See 2 Peter 2:7-8.

We are not in Sodom, yet. Christian figures are dis-invited from public prayers for being "anti-homosexual," but Christian homes are not yet assaulted out of malice and persecution as Lot's was. Many areas of our culture now self-consciously reject a Christian worldview. While we have time, let's consider how we will act if society around us goes completely hostile to Christian truth. The end of Hebrews, starting around 10:19, may be good to consider in this time.

1.10.2013

Conse - what??

We are up to the 3rd of 5 C’s in our worship service. Call, confession, consecration.

Consecration is the hardest of the 5 C’s to understand. We get call, confession, communion and commission. But consecration? What is this?

The basic progression of a service is laid out in Leviticus 9 with three different kinds of sacrifices: sin, whole (or burnt), and peace offerings.

Consecration is the whole sacrifice that is completely burned up and goes up in smoke to God. The whole animal was burned up on the altar. Leviticus 1 describes it. The focus is on the cutting and arranging of the animal pieces on the altar. We should see the animal sacrifice as fulfilled in Christ. He offered Himself completely to God.

And, if we are united with Christ and follow Him, we need to see ourselves as this whole burnt offering ascending to God. The knife that cuts us up is the word of God, as Heb 4:12 says, piercing to divide not only joints and marrow, but also soul and spirit. That doesn’t mean soul and spirit are different, but that the Word of God distinguishes our good thoughts and intentions from the bad.

That’s the sacrificial and theological angle on consecration. We’ll look at more of the practical stuff in future weeks.

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Don't confess without this


2 Chronicles 6.36-39
“When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to a land far or near; 37 yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, and have committed wickedness’; 38 and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been carried captive, and pray toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and toward the temple which I have built for Your name: 39 then hear from heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You."


Solomon prays to God as the temple is dedicated, that God would hear His people when they confess their sin toward or at the new temple. Solomon built it for God’s name, and the one name given to us by which we can be saved in our Lord Jesus, God’s Son and Messiah. As you come to God to confess your sins, plead the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, and He will maintain your cause and forgive you. Do not dare confess sin without 3 things: an appeal to Christ, sincere grief at your offense against God, real readiness to return to obedience.

This reminds us to confess our sins.

9/2/12

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He who is not with Me is against Me


David Landegent writes an insightful article in the Aug 14, 2011 Sunday School Guide: “For or Against.” This summarizes and reproduces Pastor Landegent’s thoughts.

In Luke 11:23, Jesus says, “He who is not with Me is against Me.”
In Luke 9:50, Jesus says, “Whoever is not against you is for you.”

How can both be true?

Jesus makes the first statement after Jews accuse of him of being on Satan’s team, and many of the Jews were yet undecided about who Jesus was. “He who is not with Me is against Me” makes the point that there is no neutrality with Jesus. You have to be for Him, or you are against Him. Not deciding for Him is to be against Him.

Jesus makes the second statement when the disciples are upset that someone else is casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Here Jesus guides the disciples to not exclude and condemn believers who aren’t with them - aren’t part of their group – but who are following Jesus.

Landegent’s own words, to close: “When Jesus faces indifference… then He makes things narrow…. But when Jesus faces differences – people following Jesus, but in different ways – then He broadens things…. Indifference to Christ is not tolerated, but differences among Christians are to be celebrated. Let’s get off the fence and stand for Christ, but let’s do it in a way that works with other Christians, even if they’re not part of our group or denomination.”

1.08.2013

An expanding table


Matthew 8:8-13
"The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 
10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour."


This table is expandable. It grows larger over time to fit all of Christ’s body. The Roman centurion had faith not seen by Jesus in Israel. He didn’t expect a place at the Lord’s Table, but God gave it to him. Tables fit a certain number of people around them, but this table fits all who put their trust in the Lord with their children. Many feel like outsiders. Perhaps you don’t feel worthy to be at the Lord’s Table. That is part of the point. You aren’t worthy. You should feel humbled enough to be convicted. And you should also feel the assurance of your forgiveness here. The cup of shame you deserved is taken away. You don’t have to drink it. Jesus drank it for you. You have a cup of joy instead.

8/26/12

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Declaring pardon


In our liturgical housekeeping, we move on to the assurance of pardon.
We rise from kneeling. We are raised from a posture of shame and humility, because forgiveness raises us from the status of guilty to innocent.

A declaration of pardon is like that of a wedding pronouncment. Pronouncing someone man and wife doesn’t make it real. The vows make the wedding real. The pastor’s job, his office, is to declare it real, having witnessed it. Same for forgiveness of sins. Declaration is an act of faith that you are truly repenting of your sins.

Declaration is part of the office of the minister. God gave His elders who rule the church the keys to open the kingdom to the repentant. That’s what this declaration of pardon is. The pastor doesn’t get you forgiven by saying words, but it is his office to say the words, to represent Christ to you and forgive you through the body, face and voice of his officer. Every week at this point in the service you should come to trial before the judge, confess your crimes, and then hear Jesus the judge, not condemn, but pardon you through His officer the elder leading worship. We have been forgiven once for all at the cross. And we need to experience that forgiveness anew every week.


8/26/12

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Review: Jayber Crow


Jayber Crow
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



This is the second Wendell Berry book I've read, the first being "That Distant Land." I enjoy the change of pace from theological and cultural blogs or books to "going home" to a place called Port William.

In this installment, Jonah Crow, an orphan who leaves the sleepy riverside village at an early age, answers the call to return and let Port William define him. He self-consciously rejects making something of himself, allowing instead the community into his living room-slash-barber shop. The folks even give him his name - Jayber.

Berry is a man on a crusade against abstraction, independence from community and land, dependence on debt, modernism and machines. Troy Chatham and Cecilia Overhold are the symbols of this.

Burley Coulter, Athey Keith, Mattie Chatham and Jayber himself are the opposite: respecting the land, not keeping economic accounts with neighbors, saving and enjoying the fruit of the land.

Berry conveys community, comedy and character well. He uses comedy sparingly, and it grows out of character of the people more than pure funny-ness. The vehicle to convey this is story. Endearing, tragic, by-the-way stories of hunts, conversation, and death. You feel like you are there and know these people as your own.

Sometimes his community observations start to ramble and the insightfulness into human psychology or interaction turns to psychobabble. But not too often.

Berry is confused as a theologian. He says he isn't a quaker but he really is. The Gospels are a higher authority than the rest of Scripture. The Scriptures generally cannot be trusted precisely because of what they say. The church is a false community to the true one of the town. He avoids standard definitions of faith and repentance. The community and land are the ultimate point of reference - not God. It is the typical and tired mainline protestant liberalism, not worthy of his writing gifts.

Also tired and somewhat typical these days is the agrarianism of Berry. He makes some excellent points about vacationers speeding down the river, rushing to relax and never doing so. Yet can it really be said that plowing with mules is more holy than with tractors? Berry as much as says it. Does moving to town make you a shallow and incomplete person? Berry as much as says it. There are important principles that he is getting at - things we have lost about ourselves and being human. But their recovery is not necessarily tied to dirt. Berry is something of a transcendentalist in this regard. The soil and earth - nature - really has a transformative power upon us in this line of thinking. It is part of our identity because man and nature were made for each other and belong together.

Berry only partly succeeds in putting concrete people before abstractions. He is on such a crusade against certain abstract virtues and for others, that the people symbolize things. I enjoyed the parallel episodes at the beginning and end. Jayber is laying on the ground in the woods both times and a woman comes to him. (I wonder if Adam, Lilith and Eve were meant.) The first time it is a woman who despises the community and chases all the men up a tree. The second time it is a woman who loves the earth and people, has put up with a proud, heavily indebted, agribusiness husband, and remained joyous. They spend holy (undefiled) time together in the woods, simply enjoying creation. Perhaps walking in the garden in the cool of the day. At the end the woods are not needed - the communion of holy souls suffices.



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1.04.2013

Union, not Devouring, for Us


Rev 19:6, 9a, 11, 17-21
9 Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!...
17Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” 
19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh."



Herod kills James at the beginning (Acts 12:1-3), but in the end, the church is growing and Herod is rotting (Acts 12:23-24). It is the same with this table. Pilate kills Jesus, but in the end, it will be those at enmity with Christ including the kings, who are devoured. Our sacrifice and trials, like Christ’s cup of wrath, will turn to reward, favor and joy. Their wickedness will turn to worms, decay and burning. We don’t need to focus on this gruesome supper, but we shouldn’t ignore it completely, either. Jesus has enemies who will be overcome in the end, but right now they can do us damage in body and soul. Let us keep an eye on the devil who seeks to devour us, but who will be devoured.

Now let us focus on the supper of the Lord Jesus. When we eat this bread and drink this wine, we are acting out our union and communion with Christ. We are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bone. We abide in Him, the vine, drawing life from His life. He is the bread come down from heaven. If we eat that bread, which means abide in Him, we will live forever. We have no life without the body and blood of Jesus.

8/19/12

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Let us kneel

Psalm 95:6-8

What we do with our bodies matters. Our physical gestures express our inward attitudes, and contribute toward establishing and fostering them. So, just as we lift holy hands to the Lord, and stand in reverence for God’s Word when it is read, we also kneel in humble confession. We want to be a humble and penitent people before God. We humble ourselves in our posture, kneeling before God.

When the Scriptures tell of God’s people praying to Him, they are usually kneeling. Solomon, Daniel, Jesus in Gethsemane, and the New Testament church are just a few examples, besides the Psalmist calling us to worship saying, "Let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker" - Ps 95:6.

This reminds us to confess our sins

8/19/12

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Review: Meet at the Ark at Eight


Meet at the Ark at Eight
Meet at the Ark at Eight by Ulrich Hub

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I found this gem at its publishers bookstore a bit ago and read it out loud to the kids. We have a penguin lover in the house so it fit just right.

There were two isolated instances but glaring errors in the book about God, which I edited out as I read.

The rest was quite funny and offered differing views of God to consider. Is He a strict school marm who makes sure you dot your ps and q's? Or doesn't He much care what we do? Well, neither, really, but the book leaves this open ended. God and even Noah are absent from the story, and some follow up is needed on this. I just read the flood story in Genesis 6-9, and readers of this book would do well to go there next.

For a sampling of the quirkiness, The dove is an overworked "Martha."

As with much mainline Protestant publishing, for young or old, this work mixes imagination and important life questions (the ones conservatives aren't comfortable asking), with error that needs correction.



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Review: God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas Is the Foundation for Everything


God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas Is the Foundation for Everything
God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas Is the Foundation for Everything by Douglas Wilson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Christmas is over for most. Here's a post mortem.

Christmas goes beyond sentiment. Jesus entered a real world of sheep manure in a cave. He humbled himself to exalt men. Tinsel and the bells and cards are all fine and dandy as long as we remember and root them in the joy that flows from Christ's humiliation for us.

Christmas is political. A king came to us whom we must accept or reject. Herod rejected Him. So do many earthly kings today and they will regret it one day. The public square is involved in Christmas. Herod and all Jerusalem had reason to be troubled as long as they grasped power for themselves. But rulers and wisemen who bow to Him and give instead of take are joyful and blessed.

Christmas is about stuff. God the Son became a physical creature to redeem the physical world. He is on a salvage operation to restore His kingdom. If you have to have your stuff then it has to go (a la Rich young ruler). Otherwise Christ means for you to have it, enjoy it and use it to serve others. Stuff and buying stuff is not the enemy. Idolizing it is. But we need stuff (a physical world) to express love.

These are the main themes and they are right on target. The writing and flow seem uneven throughout the book as I suspect this is a patchwork of blog posts past.



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1.03.2013

7 of 9's Calvinist Conversion

Being sick, I've had no energy to write until now, so I caught up on some Voyager.
I'm watching them in order for the first time, and got to Scorpion, where the Borg 7 of 9 makes her appearance. In the episode "The Gift," I found some remarkable parallels to the Calvinist concept of Irresistible Grace.

Captain Janeway saves 7's life by choosing for her, when 7 is unconscious, to remove the Borg implants that threaten her life. This makes her more human, which 7 has expressly said she doesn't want. She wants to be returned to the Borg. But Janeway knows she'll die, either before she's recovered by them, or by being assimilated. So Janeway drags her kicking and screaming into the human world. She fights it. It's uncomfortable without all the Borg voices. But after a while she adjusts.

This is a picture of what theologians call Irresistible Grace. Our regeneration happens without our consent, by the Spirit's call. The Father draws us to the Son, and we find ourselves willing to go where we weren't before. It's scary, and a large part of us doesn't want to go. But we do.

We are often called to fight what "comes naturally." For 7 that was the impulse to return to the collective. For people generally it is our nature to sin. Preachers and prophets who call us to this fight are often scorned as authoritarian and abusive, for which Janeway (and God in His electing some to be saved) might be criticized. But they know the call to the right IS right, over the individual's freedom to choose what he wants.

Yes, even an otherwise silly sci-fi TV show can be redeemed. Yes, in Star Trek what is right is often confused. But occasional gleams of truth keep me watching...

Back

Well, after a rushed last week before Christmas, then a week of vacation, and now half a week of the family and me being rather sick, I'm back to work.