alastair.adversaria » Lectures

N.T. Wright Lecture: Can a Scientist Believe in the Resurrection?

The following are my notes from a lecture delivered this evening, 20th December, by N.T. Wright in the University of St. Andrews. The following provides a general idea of what the good bishop said, but should not be depended upon too much. Doubtless other eyewitnesses will come forward with conflicting accounts…

N.T. Wright, Bishop of DurhamAs someone who gave up studying physics and chemistry more or less as soon as he had the opportunity and devoted little effort to excelling in them when he did study them, Wright finds it odd to find himself in the position of being looked upon to provide an answer to such a question. The question itself is strange: it reminds him of the person who, when asked if he believed in infant baptism, responded in the affirmative, assuring the questioner that he had seen it happen with his own eyes. There are scientists who do believe in the resurrection. In answering the question, Wright wants to explore the fault lines between different ways of knowing, between the forms of knowing advanced by science and by history, and the way of knowing that belongs to faith, hope, and love. These ways of knowing overlap in various ways.

We are often told that over recent centuries we have enjoyed an upward path towards the light of reason—the narrative of the Enlightenment. While Wright has no desire to return to premodern dentistry or sanitation or transport, for example, he feels that the modern narrative is limited. Science has not proved sufficient to provide us with the wholeness of life that we really need.

Plato regarded ‘faith’ as a sort of intermediate form of knowing, a sort of cushioned knowledge, a sense that the terminology retains in much common parlance. We often use the term ‘knowledge’ in a positivistic sense and ‘believe’ in a loose sense, to refer to matters of mere private opinion, where any relation to external reality is somewhat lacking or doubtful. The disciples, however, believed in a resurrection with a real purchase on reality, a resurrection that left mementos behind, whether that was an empty tomb or footprints on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias.

What does the term ‘believe’ mean in the question that we are answering? What sorts of questions and dimensions of reality are open to the scientific method? What sort of claim should the scientist’s science have on his approach to other areas of his life? Should he be ‘scientific’ about his relationship to his wife, or about his assessment of a piece of music? The question that we are dealing with assumes that this particular issue of the resurrection impinges upon the scientist’s particular area of concern in a manner and to an extent that questions of love and music generally do not. While there are some who have sought to locate the issue of resurrection alongside such issues of love and music, this is not a movement that should make. In the context of the first century world resurrection was very much understood as a public, space-time event.

To put things somewhat simplistically: history deals with the unrepeatable, while science deals with the repeatable. Scientists’ objections to the resurrection often focus on the lack of analogy. However, the disciples did not believe that the resurrection was just one of many analogous events. The whole issue of worldview raises itself at this point. The worldview of the scientist is the context in which such things become believable or not.

What is the resurrection? There were many ancient beliefs about life after death. Ancient paganism contained many beliefs on these matters, but they universally ruled out the possibility of resurrection. Wright has explored this whole area at considerable length in his book The Resurrection of the Son of God. The conviction that the dead do not rise is not a product born out of scientific discovery over the past few centuries: any first century person knew this fact. Ancient Judaism believed that God was creator and that he would set his world to rights, which for many was seen to involve bodily resurrection. Christianity belongs on this map. For Christians, resurrection was not a fancy way of talking about life after death, but a way of talking about a form of life after life after death. Christians certainly believed in a form of intermediate period, and might speak of it using terms such as ‘paradise’, but these beliefs are not to be confused with its belief in resurrection.

Beliefs about life after death are generally among the most conservatively held of all beliefs in the context of any given culture. It is in such areas that people tend to revert to the positions that they were taught in childhood. For this reason, any large scale change in the convictions of a society in this area needs to be accounted for. Such a large scale shift in beliefs about life after death is precisely what we see in the case of Christianity. Excepting the later movement of Gnosticism, the early Christian Church manifests several key mutations from traditional approaches to the subject of life after death.

1. In contrast to the Judaism of the day, there was virtually no variation on the issue of the resurrection in the context of early Christianity. Christianity has no trace of an established Sadducean view in its ranks.

2. While many Jewish groups held beliefs about resurrection, it was an issue for speculation and did not lie at the core of its belief system. In the early Church, belief in the resurrection moves from the circumference of belief to its very centre and heart.

3. In contrast to Jewish groups, within which many conceptions of resurrection circulated, from the very beginning the Christian Church held a very clearly defined understanding of resurrection. For instance, the resurrection body was thought of as a transformed—‘spiritual’—body and not just as a resuscitated one.

4. For Christians, the event of ‘resurrection’ has split into two. Outside of Christianity we do not find belief in the resurrection of one man in the middle of history. Such a theological movement is without precedent.

5. The Christian approach to ‘collaborative eschatology’ (Crossan) is also without precedent. Believing that the resurrection inaugurated the eschaton, the early Church believed that it needed to implement this event, in anticipation of the final consummation.

6. Within Christianity we also see a new metaphorical use of the language of resurrection. Within the context of Judaism the language had been employed as a metaphorical way of speaking about return from exile, for instance. In the context of Christianity, this metaphorical usage of ‘resurrection’ is replaced by the use of resurrection metaphors in the context of baptism and holiness.

7. Within Christianity belief in resurrection is connected with Messianic belief in a way that it is not within Judaism. Judaism did not have a place for a Messiah that would die at the hands of the enemies of the people of God and so, naturally, did not have the place for a resurrected Messiah that Christianity did.

Indeed, without the resurrection, how do we account for Messianic belief after Christ’s death? Within other Messianic movements more or less contemporaneous with the Jesus movement, the death of the supposed Messiah tended to lead to a quest for a replacement, often a relative of the supposed Messiah who had died. Within early Christianity there was a perfect candidate for such a position following Jesus’ death—his brother James. James was renowned for his piety and was a leading figure within the early Church, but was never thought of as the Messiah.

Twentieth century revisionist historiography has occasionally suggested that belief in the resurrection arose out of the subjective internal experience of early Christian disciples. A little employment of historical imagination should destroy any plausibility that such a suggestion might initially seem to possess. Anyone offering the suggestion that Jesus was raised from the dead, based purely on an internal experience of a warmed heart or even on the basis of witnessing him in the same room, would have been subjected to ridicule. First century people were well aware, as we are, of cases of dead relatives appearing to their grieving kin following their deaths. At this point we should note the common confusion that exists between the idea of resurrection and the idea of someone dying and going to be with God. The event of the resurrection is one that is not merely a matter of subjective inner feeling, but one that has considerable claim on the external public world. The point of the resurrection is that Jesus is Lord and that death and the tyrants who use its power are defeated.

Why did these mutations occur? Only one explanation truly suffices: the disciples genuinely believed that Jesus had been bodily raised.

As many have observed, the accounts of the resurrection in the gospels do not fit snugly together. There are a number of apparently conflicting details. A recent book, Wittgenstein’s Poker, provides a wonderful example of the surface discrepancies of eye-witness testimony. In a room containing many of the most brilliant minds of the time, Wittgenstein brandished a poker at Karl Popper and then left the room. The eye-witness accounts of this event differ markedly. However, what no one doubts is that something significant happened. The same can be said of the resurrection. Surface discrepancies between narratives is quite to be expected under such circumstances.

There are four important points of commonality to be noted between the resurrection accounts of the gospels:

1. The Scriptures are almost completely silent in the resurrection narratives, in marked contrast to previous stages of the gospel narratives, where quotations from the Scriptures occur with relative frequency. This suggests that the accounts of the resurrection are very early, going back to a very early oral tradition, established before the scriptural basis had been sufficiently explored (as it had been by the time of the later account of 1 Corinthians 15).

2. The presence of women as initial witnesses of the event is not what one would expect to find in the context of the culture of the day. Once again, the account of 1 Corinthians 15 would appear to be the later one here.

3. The portrait of Jesus himself is surprising. Jesus does not, for instance, shine like a star as we might expect him to. There is such an account, but it is found in the transfiguration, not in the resurrection accounts. Jesus’ body appears normal on occasions, but in other contexts it is clear that it has been transformed. For instance, we see the disciples having difficulty in recognizing him on occasions (e.g. John 21:12). This type of account is without precedent. The writers appear to be struggling to find the language appropriate to what they have witnessed and do not appear to be driven by a clear anti-docetic, or other agenda. The body of Christ is equally at home both in heaven and in earth. It also is clearly physical.

4. The resurrection has a very much ‘this-worldly’, present age meaning. Had the stories been written later, they might well have contained references to the future resurrection of all God’s people. As they stand, the accounts include a number of clearly pre-reflective elements.

When dealing with the issue of the relationship between Easter and history we need a two-pronged approach of explanation: (a) the tomb really was empty; (b) the disciples really did encounter Jesus after his death. People were aware of the occurrence of post-mortem appearances in visions in the ancient world. Jesus’ burial was also (a fact often unrecognized) a primary burial, which would have later been followed up by storing his remains in an ossuary. Apart from sightings, the empty tomb would have not been a sufficient argument for the possibility of resurrection; in the absence of an empty tomb, nor would sightings. The only explanation sufficient to support resurrection must involve both of these things. All of the signposts point in the direction of resurrection. Denials of the resurrection often preclude on the basis of worldviews that preclude its possibility from the outset. The event of the resurrection is that which explains the future shape of the early Church.

Here the issue of a form of knowing beyond scientific and historical knowing presents itself. This new way of knowing must involve some sort of overlap with scientific and historical forms of knowing. Wright gives the example of the donation of a magnificent work of art to a college in a university. The college, lacking any place in which to display the work of art, dismantles the current college building and rebuilds it around the donated work of art. All of the things that used to make the college special are retained and, indeed, enhanced by the presence of the work of art. The negative features of the college are removed by the redesign of the college around the work of art. However—and this is the crucial point—there must be some initial reception of the work of art prior to the redesigning and rebuilding of the college around it. It is of such an overlap that we speak of with the bearing that the issue of resurrection has upon the scientist or the historian.

The resurrection poses such a challenge to the scientist or the historian, for it is the utterly characteristic, protological event of the new world that is coming to birth. It is not an absurd event occurring within the system of our own world, but an event that belongs to a new reality. No other explanation of a satisfactory character can explain the empty tomb. Nevertheless, if someone chooses to stay between the Pharaoh of scepticism and the sea of faith, they cannot be pushed any further by the historian.

God has given us minds to think. Despite the fact that the resurrection bursts the bounds of history, it also belongs within history, which is precisely why it is so disturbing and unsettling to us. In seeking to understand the resurrection, we need to situate it within a broader context. The apostle Thomas is a good example to follow here. Thomas starts out looking for a certain form of knowing—“Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe”—but ends up transcending this sort of knowing in a greater form of knowing. This is not an anti-historical or anti-scientific belief. There is epistemological weight borne by history. Faith transcends—but includes—historical and scientific conviction.

The faith by which we know, like all other true forms of knowing, is determined by the nature of its object. The fact that faith is determined by the nature of its object corresponds to the methodology adopted by science. In order to know certain things, scientists occasionally have to change their ways of seeing to a way that is more appropriate to the reality with which they are dealing. Changing paradigms involves finding a bigger picture within which to see things. Christian faith involves much the same sort of movement.

If we see an epistemology of faith in the example of Thomas, we see an epistemology of hope expressed in the work of the apostle Paul, a matter that is explored within Wright’s most recent publication, entitled—with apologies to C.S. Lewis—Surprised by Hope. Hope is a way of knowing in which new possibilities are opened up. There is also within Scripture an epistemology of love to be found, perhaps exemplified best by Peter. Wittgenstein once remarked in a profound statement: ‘It is love that believes the resurrection.’ So it was in the case of Peter.

The question of how we know things is related to the new ontology of the resurrection. The resurrection cannot be known properly in terms of our world of death, detachment and betrayal. The knowing of love must have a correlative outside the knower in the external world. This is the knowing that is needed in the world of the resurrection. ‘Objective’ historical epistemology leads us to the questions faced by Thomas, Paul and Peter: are we able and prepared to adopt a knowing of faith, hope and love? All forms of knowing are given by God; all forms of knowing can be situated within the broader setting of knowing established by faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Links

Links from the last few days:

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According to Dr Scaer, the most common way people join the Church is that someone invited them. Guess what? If church sucks, people don’t invite others. They don’t think “Man, my friends have got to be here for this!” They think “Well, I might as well keep going here.” So here’s a fun list that can work for all denominations!

Read the Fearsome Pirate’s church growth tips here. He also gives a Lutheran perspective in outlining some of the things that he dislikes about the PCA worship that he has experienced.

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An interesting post from Leithart here. He observes the way in which we are shaped by popular culture, beginning with a series of tests to see how easily we identify with certain popular slogans, characters and advertisements from our culture and then how easily we identify with Christian counterparts to these. I think that I got a near perfect mark on every part except for the advertising slogans, which probably has something to do with living in the UK. However, I admit that the references to popular culture were generally more familiar than the references to the traditional hymns and references from classic literature. I could probably quote near-verbatim the lyrics from a few dozen rock albums, but I probably know no more than a score of psalms by heart. I have a troublingly vast quantity of pointless pop trivia in my head, so Leithart’s post was a good one for me to read.

Leithart argues that the way that Christians often characterize our struggle with the world is deficient. We tend to think primarily in terms of a struggle of ideas. However, the battle is, more often than not, a struggle of desire. As René Girard has argued desire is mimetic, and the world is consistently tempting us to model our desires after its pattern.

This is where the church comes in. If the battle we face in the wider culture were merely a matter of ideas and thoughts, then we might be able to withstand the onslaught of bad ideas on our own. We might be able to fill our minds with good thoughts and ideas through reading and studying, and when a bad idea came up, we’d pounce. If we are cultural beings, whose habits and practices and desires are shaped by the habits and practices and desires of others around us – and we are – then we can’t really stand up to the cultural temptations in isolation, by ourselves. We cannot resist on our own. We need to be part of a resistant community, a resistant community that recognizes the way the world seeks to shape us into its image, and self-consciously resists the world.

And we can’t resist something with nothing. To the world’s desire-shaping, formative practices, Christians need to oppose a different set of desire-shaping practices. We can’t say: I won’t desire what the world wants me to desire. We have to have positive, godly desires in place of the world’s desires. And these desires and habits need to be nurtured, cultivated, shaped and formed in a particular community. The church has a culture, and must be a culture, if it is going to resist the forces that would conform you to worldly culture.

Leithart also has a post on consumerism that I found interesting.

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Following on from his earlier post on Dawkins and Lacan, Macht observes the importance of un-clarity in argument if we are to truly communicate:

Being “unclear” in one’s writing, then, can perhaps be a way to get the reader to NOT translate what they are reading into familiar terms. A writer want the reader to think in ways they’ve never thought before and that may require unfamiliar terms. This will of course require more work on the part of the reader and may lead to misunderstandings, but that might be the price a writer needs to pay in order to get his point across.

This, I suspect, is one of the reasons why misunderstanding so often attends theological discourse. In theology our terms are generally given to us by Scripture. Our overfamiliarity with these terms can lead to misunderstanding when we read people like Barth and Wright, who use familiar terms in unfamiliar ways. It takes quite a conscious effort on our part to overcome the familiarity that we have with the terms and begin to appreciate the ‘otherness’ of the theology of such men, and not merely interpret them on our own terms.

John Milbank has also observed the importance of ‘making strange’: developing new language to replace overfamiliar terms, in order that the peculiarity and distinctive character of the Christian position might become more apparent. This, I suggest, is one argument in favour of those who are wary of a theological discourse that works almost entirely in terms of biblical terminology. Such a discourse is helpful among those who understand the positions being advanced, but it can provide an impediment to those who have not yet grasped them.

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Joel Garver begins to articulate some of his concerns with the recent PCA report on the FV/NPP.
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Paul Helm on biblical versus systematic theology. I believe that the way that we do systematic theology is overdue for a complete overhaul. I don’t believe that biblical theology is the answer to everything, but I would not be sad to witness the demise of the discipline of systematic theology as it is often currently practiced (something that I have commented on in the past). Much systematic theology is ‘timeless’ in a deeply unhealthy fashion. It tends to treat its subject matter as if it were timeless and it also teaches in a manner that abstracts the learner from the time-bound narrative.

Systematic theology often seems to aim to present us with a panoptic perspective on the biblical narrative. We look at the narrative from a great height, from without rather than from within. This ‘timeless’ perspective is very dangerous, I believe. A reform of systematic theology would reject this way of approaching the discipline and would approach its subject matter in a slightly different manner. We study theology from within time, as participants in God’s drama. Neither the subject matter nor the student of theology should be abstracted from time. Rather than dealing with ‘timeless’ truths, we should deal with truths that are ‘constant’ through time.

Peter Leithart has suggested that ideally systematic theology would play a role analogous to the role that a book entitled An Anthropology of Middle Earth would play relative to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Such a book would help the reader to understand the constant features of the narratives. However, its subject matter would never be detached from the narrative nor could it ever be substituted for the narrative itself. The narrative always retains the primacy.

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Michael Bird writes [HT: Chris Tilling] on the importance of the study of NT Theology and Christian Origins. Here is a taster:

…when students (esp. evangelical students) talk about the message of the New Testament, they usually mean Paul. And when they mean Paul, what they mean is Romans and Galatians. Their understanding (or sometimes lack of undestanding) of these two epistles often becomes the centre of not only Paul, but of the entire New Testament. Hebrews, Matthew, Revelation, and Luke-Acts are all forced into a Pauline framework.

How is this corrected? First, Christian Origins shows us the real diversity of the early church. You only have to compare the Johannine literature, Luke-Acts, and Paul to see that the saving significance of Jesus was expressed in different (I did not say contradictory) concepts, categories, and terms. Approaches to the law were diverse and pluriform as Christians struggled (in every sense of the word) to understand how the law-covenant was to be understood and followed in light of the coming Jesus/faith (cf. Gal. 3.23). A study of Christian Origins opens our eyes to the reality and goodness of diversity, so that Christians can learn to differentiate between convictions and commands, and discern between the major and the minor doctrines of Christian belief. I would also add that, despite this theological breadth to the early church, there was still unity within diversity, a unity apparent in the common kerygma of the early church. While there was diversity and complexity in the early church, it was never a free for all, and the desire to discern between true and false expressions of belief were part of the Christian movement from the very beginning. That leads us to New Testament Theology and rather than priviledging Paul to supra-canonical status (and Romans and Galatians and hyper-canonical), we should listen to each corpra on its own terms and to the issues to which they speak. A study of this kind will indicate where the theological (and dare I say) spiritual centre of gravity lies in the New Testament.

The evangelical and Reformed tendency to force the whole of the NT into a Pauline framework is something that is becoming increasingly apparent to me. Over the last few weeks I have been studying the doctrine of atonement, for instance, in the NT. I have been struck by how muted the theme of penal substitution is in much of the extra-Pauline literature (or even, for that matter, in a number of the ’secondary’ Pauline epistles). If our ‘canon within the canon’ consisted of the Johannine literature or of Matthew and James, rather than Romans and Galatians, evangelical and Reformed theology would probably take a radically different form. Recogizing this fact has made me far more sympathetic to a number of traditions whose theology differs sharply from Reformed theology, largely because they operate in terms of a very different ‘canon within the canon’. Paul is only part of the picture and his voice is not necessarily any more important than others within the NT canon.

I suspect that a number of significant theological advances could be made if we were only to put our favourite sections of Romans and Galatians to one side for a while. For instance, we might begin to see the continuing role that the commandments of the Torah performed in shaping the life of the Church. We might begin to have a clearer sense of just how Jewish the thinking of the early Church was. An overemphasis on Paul’s more antithetical and abstract ways of formulating the relationship between the Law and the Gospel can blind us to how Paul and other NT authors generally continue to take the particularities of the Torah as normative for the life of the NT people of God. The way that the Torah operates has changed, but it is still operational in many respects as the Torah of the Spirit and the Torah of liberty.

We might also find ourselves called to more concrete forms of discipleship and begin to move towards a gospel that is more firmly rooted in praxis. We might also discover that the message of the gospel is not just concerned with the overcoming of sin and death, but also is about bringing humanity to the maturity that God had always intended for it. We might also find ourselves moving towards a more sacramental gospel.

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John Barach ponders the relationship between the Ten Commandments and the ten statements of Genesis 1.
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David Jones at la nouvelle théologie gives a list of links to material relevant to the recent Wilson-Hitchens debate on Christianity and atheism. There is also an interesting article in the Daily Mail, in which Peter Hitchens reviews his brother’s book [HT: Dawn Eden].
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Al Kimel’s blog, Pontifications, has a new home [HT: Michael Liccione]. The RSS feed also seems to be better on this one.
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June 2007 Wrightsaid list answers.
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As someone who believes that the inerrancy debates are largely unhelpful, I found this post by John H quite insightful. The Scriptures are exactly as God wanted us to have them and fulfil the purposes for which they were given. They are trustworthy. In the comments to the post, it is observed that the Church would have been far better off fighting for the ground of Scriptural efficacy, rather than Scriptural inerrancy. The Scriptures perfectly achieve the goals for which they were given. A position centred on Scriptural efficacy also serves to remind us that fundamentalism is itself a threat to a truly Christian doctrine of the Word of God, generally denying or downplaying the saving efficacy of God’s Word in preaching, the sacraments and the liturgy. Thinking in such terms might also help to move us away from the overly formal doctrine of Scripture generally adopted by conservative evangelicalism.
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Matthew gives some helpful clarifications in response to my comments on his recent post.
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The Baptized Body, Peter Leithart’s latest book is released today. Buy your copy now!
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David Peterson, from Oak Hill, gives an introduction to biblical theology in a series of audio lectures. I haven’t listened to these yet, but some of my readers might find them helpful.
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Ben Witherington on Billy Graham.
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R.P. Reeves on evangelicalism:

With Hochshild’s case, I was surprised to learn how bare-bones Wheaton’s doctrinal statement is, but as I’ve tried to think through the history of evangelicalism in a more comprehensive manner, I’m no longer surprised; rather, it’s exactly what I expect from evangelicalism. One of the characteristics of evangelicalism that I am working on developing is that it is first and foremost a renewalist, rather than ecclesiastical, movement. In 16th century Protestantism, the doctrinal heritage of the church (notably the ecumenical creeds) was explicitly reaffirmed, precisely because the Reformation sought to reform the church. By contrast, Evangelicalism seeks to renew the individual (and then, once a sufficient mass of individuals a renewed, this will renew the church, or society, or the state, etc.). Mixed with a primitivist suspicion of creeds and traditions, it’s not surprising that a basic affirmation of biblical inerrancy was believed to be sufficient boundary for evangelical theologians, nor is it surprising that this thin plank is proving to be a shaky foundation.

[HT: Paul Baxter]

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A PCA pastor: “We wouldn’t ordain John Murray”. Sadly, this is only what one should expect when theological factionalism takes holds of a denomination.
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Byron is right: this is a very good parable.
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‘Begging the Question’ [HT: Paul Baxter]
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From the evangelical outpost: How to Draw a Head and Assess your Brain Fitness.
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The cubicle warrior’s guide to office jargon
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The unveiling of the logo for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Seb Coe:

It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world.

Tony Blair:

When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life.

Tessa Jowell:

This is an iconic brand that sums up what London 2012 is all about - an inclusive, welcoming and diverse Games that involves the whole country.

It takes our values to the world beyond our shores, acting both as an invitation and an inspiration.

Ken Livingstone:

The new Olympic brand draws on what London has become - the world’s most forward-looking and international city.

And the brand itself:

London 2012

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Finally, some Youtube videos:

The new Microsoft Surface:

Battle at Kruger:

I’m a Marvel … and I’m a DC:

New Skoda Ad:

Links

Believe it or not, I really meant it when I said (about a month and a half ago now) that I had no intention of reducing my input on this blog to that of posting long lists of links. I apologize for the continued lack of substantial posting. Hopefully this will change sometime soon. However, I won’t make any promises, as I have not the best track-record of keeping blogging promises. What do you, my reader, think of my link posts? Should I stop them or make them more occasional? Are they worth reading or would you prefer me to do something different with my blogging time? Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

The following are some of the things that have caught my eye online over the last couple of days:

Matt Colvin, whose Lenten reflection was posted on this blog yesterday

, posts further thoughts on his blog on the Last Supper and on Gethsemane. He also has posted some posts that are relevant to the interminable FV debates: ‘Dead Orthodoxy’ and ‘Head on a Platter’.
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The Fearsome Pirate has returned! He kicks off with a post on Lutheranism. Josh, we’ve missed you.
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Leithart posts on the subject of the consumer revolution and gives us quite a Girardian insight from an eighteenth century writer.
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On the subject of René Girard, Edward Oakes posts on Girard over on the First Things blog.
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Macht links to audio from Calvin College’s Faith and Music weekend. It looks interesting: Sylia Keesmaat, Lauren Winner, and a number of other speakers.
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If any of you are feeling like engaging in some extreme penance, Ben Myers links to a meme that might suit you. He also posts Kim Fabricius’s ‘Ten Propositions on Political Theology’, which Josh and Joel discuss over on the BHT.
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Stephen at the Thinkery links to a post with a series of accounts of anti-LGBT encounters. Whilst I believe that lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender behaviour is sinful, I have long maintained that homophobia is real and ought to be shown up in all of its ugliness by Christians. Some of the stories recounted should give us food for thought.
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There are few examples of homophobia as extreme as that of the Westboro Baptist Church. The following is the first part of the BBC2 documentary, in which Louis Theroux meets the Phelps:

The other parts of the show are also available on Youtube — part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7.

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The audiobook of Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine is available for free download from Christian Audio this month [HT: Tim Challies]. Don’t miss out!
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Why PowerPoint presentations don’t work [HT: David Field]. I feel vindicated: I have long viewed PowerPoint presentations with a mistrust bordering on antipathy.
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According to recent studies, Britain has 4.2million CCTV cameras - one for every 14 people in the country - and 20 per cent of all cameras globally.

It has been calculated that each person is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.

Read the whole article here [HT: David Field].

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Tearfund has a new report on churchgoing in the UK. There is some comment on the report on the BBC website. Graham Weeks posts some figures from the survey here.
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NTW’s Maundy Thursday sermon.
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The Placebo Diet [HT: The Evangelical Outpost]. I just need to know how to turn this finding in my favour.
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As usual the Evangelical Outpost has a number of other interesting links, which I thought that I would pass on:

100 aphorisms summarizing Calvin’s Institutes
Some classic insults
34 Reasons Why People Unsubscribe from your Blog (a quick scan confirms my suspicion that I have been guilty of the majority of these at some time or other)
The Internet weighs 2 ounces

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Some British teachers drop teaching the Holocaust and the Crsuades to avoid offending Muslims and other schools are challenged to change their teaching on the Arab-Israeli conflict by some theologically confused Christians [HT: Tim Challies]
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A skeptical ex-scientist describes the funding process for peer-reviewed research.
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Some more useful links from lifehacker:

How to Read a Scientific Research Paper
How to make yourself happier within the next hour
Google launches My Maps
Ditto: A useful Windows clipboard extension

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I am glad that I am not the only person who writes e-mails in this way:

Some of the other Youtube videos that have caught my attention over the last week include: LisaNova does 300!, Sand Castle Explosions Backwards v.1 and Sand Castle Explosions Backwards v.2.
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Jeffrey Overstreet asks whether movies are increasing our capacity to see, and whether the narrative of film distracts us too much from the visual dimension [HT: John Barach].
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And, on the topic of the poetry of cinema, I will conclude this links post with one of my favourite scenes from Spirited Away, which I watched yet again last night. It grows on me every time.

More Links

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.

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Kim Fabricius’ Ten Propositions on Being a Theologian
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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).
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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.
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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.

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Pope Benedict XVI tries to remind people of the existence of hell.
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Islamic feminist theologians (I suppose that that, like lesbian Eskimo bishops, some have to exist somewhere…).
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Garrett questions the value of long sermons.
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Mark Goodacre writes in defence of Wikipedia. Dr Jim West disagrees strongly.
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‘John Lennon’s Born-Again Phase’ [via Dave Armstrong]
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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’.

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Tim Challies writes on the subject of discernment in the gray areas.
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Paleojudaica, Dr Jim Davila’s blog, turned 4 over the weekend. A belated ‘Happy Birthday!’.
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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.
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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.
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Some facts about the top 1000 books found in libraries [HT: Tim Challies].
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Josh, the fearsome Lutheran pirate, writes in defence of women’s ordination (don’t worry, he is not seriously advocating the position).
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Mark Whittinghill alerts us to a new posthumous Tolkien book. It should be released in under a month.
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Michael Spencer links to a list of D.A. Carson MP3s.
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Lifehacker tells us how to cure hiccups with sugar and gives a guide to power-napping.
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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.
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Also in the world of Youtube, the Youtube Video Awards have been announced.
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Why models don’t smile and 101 great posting ideas [HT: The Evangelical Outpost].

Links

The following are some of the enjoyable and insightful posts, articles and talks that I have read or listened to in the last couple of days:—

Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy [HT: matthew henry john bartlett]

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Ben Witherington - The Jesus Tomb? ‘Titanic’ Talpiot Tomb Theory Sunk from the Start
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The full series of T.F. Torrance audio lectures
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Lauren F. Winner - Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity
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Cynthia Nielsen continues blogging on Jean-Luc Marion
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Mark Horne proclaims the ‘hastening death’ of the theological journal. Frankly, I find the idea that the future of theological writing might lie in the works of dilettante bloggers like me little short of terrifying. Let’s hope that the theological journals reinvent themselves quickly (First Things is a good example of one that seems to be getting it just about right).
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On a related note to the previous item, Mark Goodacre comments on the way that the biblioblogosphere shapes the way that scholarship engages with such news stories as that of the Jesus tomb
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Leithart: Predestination and Logic and Eschatological Meaning
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My brother Mark posts videos of himself making origami models: an elephant and a rose
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Perhaps the most useful resource that I have encountered for weeks [HT: Tim Challies] — search every Calvin and Hobbes cartoon by keywords. Ever wondered how many times the word ‘boogers’ appears in the Calvin and Hobbes corpus? You need wonder no longer!

More Wright Talks

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
Part 1, Part 2

Some Links

Leithart on Rosenstock-Huessy on Descartes, Marxism and Tribalism.

Bill Wilder (who made a helpful series of lectures on N.T. Wright a year or so back) writes a WTJ article on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, arguing for a position that closely approximates to that of James Jordan. Wilder arrived at his position independently of Jordan, but cites Jordan favourably in the footnotes.

In Media Res has an interview with Jeff Meyers (whose new Ecclesiastes commentary, A Table in the Mist, I am presently enjoying) and the first part of an interview with Peter Leithart. The Leithart interview is on the subject of Postmodernism and Postmodernity. Having recently enjoyed his lecture series ‘Solomon Among the Postmoderns’ (available to purchase here), I would recommend Leithart’s treatment of postmodernity as a welcome change from many of the overly positive and negative treatments that one generally encounters.

R. Scott Clark — How We Got Here: The Roots of the Current Controversy Over Justification. Incredibly frustrating to read. The fact that misunderstandings of such magnitude persist many years into the FV debate makes one wonder if progress will ever be made. It is the introductory chapter of Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry, which can be purchased here.

With a respected source and enough repetition, the truth of many theological claims can be taken more or less for granted and seldom be subjected to close scrutiny. One such claim is Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ claim: “if your preaching of the gospel of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ does not provoke the charge from some of antinomianism you’re not preaching the gospel of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ.” Mark Horne addresses the meaning of Romans 6:1 here. I have long felt uncomfortable and have occasionally protested against the way that Romans 6:1ff. is employed as an answer to an argument for ‘antinomianism’.

Whilst Romans 6:1ff. can be used as a response to what some call ‘antinomianism’, we must be careful in using the verse in such a manner, as Paul’s point is not quite the same as our point. Terms such as ‘antinomianism’ are also unhelpful as they fail to distinguish between the moralism that we occasionally encounter in contemporary Christianity and the ‘Torah-ism’ that Paul was dealing with in the epistles. They are not the same thing and the confusion that results from conflating such things will have far-reaching effects on our reading of Paul.

Space, Time and Sacraments

Wright’s Calvin College lectures are now online.

NTW Lecture

Wright lectures in Calvin College’s January Series:

Simply Christian

There is also a Christianity Today interview with Wright here.

Rich Lusk on Justification

Wright on the Bible and Christian Imagination

There is a Wright audio talk available here, on the subject of the Bible and Christian imagination.

René Girard Videos

René Girard
There are some René Girard videos on this site. If you don’t know who Girard is, you are really missing out.



N.T. Wright Lecture: Can a Scientist Believe in the Resurrection?

The following are my notes from a lecture delivered this evening, 20th December, by N.T. Wright in the University of St. Andrews. The following provides a general idea of what the good bishop said, but should not be depended upon too much. Doubtless other eyewitnesses will come forward with conflicting accounts…

N.T. Wright, Bishop of DurhamAs someone who gave up studying physics and chemistry more or less as soon as he had the opportunity and devoted little effort to excelling in them when he did study them, Wright finds it odd to find himself in the position of being looked upon to provide an answer to such a question. The question itself is strange: it reminds him of the person who, when asked if he believed in infant baptism, responded in the affirmative, assuring the questioner that he had seen it happen with his own eyes. There are scientists who do believe in the resurrection. In answering the question, Wright wants to explore the fault lines between different ways of knowing, between the forms of knowing advanced by science and by history, and the way of knowing that belongs to faith, hope, and love. These ways of knowing overlap in various ways.

We are often told that over recent centuries we have enjoyed an upward path towards the light of reason—the narrative of the Enlightenment. While Wright has no desire to return to premodern dentistry or sanitation or transport, for example, he feels that the modern narrative is limited. Science has not proved sufficient to provide us with the wholeness of life that we really need.

Plato regarded ‘faith’ as a sort of intermediate form of knowing, a sort of cushioned knowledge, a sense that the terminology retains in much common parlance. We often use the term ‘knowledge’ in a positivistic sense and ‘believe’ in a loose sense, to refer to matters of mere private opinion, where any relation to external reality is somewhat lacking or doubtful. The disciples, however, believed in a resurrection with a real purchase on reality, a resurrection that left mementos behind, whether that was an empty tomb or footprints on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias.

What does the term ‘believe’ mean in the question that we are answering? What sorts of questions and dimensions of reality are open to the scientific method? What sort of claim should the scientist’s science have on his approach to other areas of his life? Should he be ‘scientific’ about his relationship to his wife, or about his assessment of a piece of music? The question that we are dealing with assumes that this particular issue of the resurrection impinges upon the scientist’s particular area of concern in a manner and to an extent that questions of love and music generally do not. While there are some who have sought to locate the issue of resurrection alongside such issues of love and music, this is not a movement that should make. In the context of the first century world resurrection was very much understood as a public, space-time event.

To put things somewhat simplistically: history deals with the unrepeatable, while science deals with the repeatable. Scientists’ objections to the resurrection often focus on the lack of analogy. However, the disciples did not believe that the resurrection was just one of many analogous events. The whole issue of worldview raises itself at this point. The worldview of the scientist is the context in which such things become believable or not.

What is the resurrection? There were many ancient beliefs about life after death. Ancient paganism contained many beliefs on these matters, but they universally ruled out the possibility of resurrection. Wright has explored this whole area at considerable length in his book The Resurrection of the Son of God. The conviction that the dead do not rise is not a product born out of scientific discovery over the past few centuries: any first century person knew this fact. Ancient Judaism believed that God was creator and that he would set his world to rights, which for many was seen to involve bodily resurrection. Christianity belongs on this map. For Christians, resurrection was not a fancy way of talking about life after death, but a way of talking about a form of life after life after death. Christians certainly believed in a form of intermediate period, and might speak of it using terms such as ‘paradise’, but these beliefs are not to be confused with its belief in resurrection.

Beliefs about life after death are generally among the most conservatively held of all beliefs in the context of any given culture. It is in such areas that people tend to revert to the positions that they were taught in childhood. For this reason, any large scale change in the convictions of a society in this area needs to be accounted for. Such a large scale shift in beliefs about life after death is precisely what we see in the case of Christianity. Excepting the later movement of Gnosticism, the early Christian Church manifests several key mutations from traditional approaches to the subject of life after death.

1. In contrast to the Judaism of the day, there was virtually no variation on the issue of the resurrection in the context of early Christianity. Christianity has no trace of an established Sadducean view in its ranks.

2. While many Jewish groups held beliefs about resurrection, it was an issue for speculation and did not lie at the core of its belief system. In the early Church, belief in the resurrection moves from the circumference of belief to its very centre and heart.

3. In contrast to Jewish groups, within which many conceptions of resurrection circulated, from the very beginning the Christian Church held a very clearly defined understanding of resurrection. For instance, the resurrection body was thought of as a transformed—‘spiritual’—body and not just as a resuscitated one.

4. For Christians, the event of ‘resurrection’ has split into two. Outside of Christianity we do not find belief in the resurrection of one man in the middle of history. Such a theological movement is without precedent.

5. The Christian approach to ‘collaborative eschatology’ (Crossan) is also without precedent. Believing that the resurrection inaugurated the eschaton, the early Church believed that it needed to implement this event, in anticipation of the final consummation.

6. Within Christianity we also see a new metaphorical use of the language of resurrection. Within the context of Judaism the language had been employed as a metaphorical way of speaking about return from exile, for instance. In the context of Christianity, this metaphorical usage of ‘resurrection’ is replaced by the use of resurrection metaphors in the context of baptism and holiness.

7. Within Christianity belief in resurrection is connected with Messianic belief in a way that it is not within Judaism. Judaism did not have a place for a Messiah that would die at the hands of the enemies of the people of God and so, naturally, did not have the place for a resurrected Messiah that Christianity did.

Indeed, without the resurrection, how do we account for Messianic belief after Christ’s death? Within other Messianic movements more or less contemporaneous with the Jesus movement, the death of the supposed Messiah tended to lead to a quest for a replacement, often a relative of the supposed Messiah who had died. Within early Christianity there was a perfect candidate for such a position following Jesus’ death—his brother James. James was renowned for his piety and was a leading figure within the early Church, but was never thought of as the Messiah.

Twentieth century revisionist historiography has occasionally suggested that belief in the resurrection arose out of the subjective internal experience of early Christian disciples. A little employment of historical imagination should destroy any plausibility that such a suggestion might initially seem to possess. Anyone offering the suggestion that Jesus was raised from the dead, based purely on an internal experience of a warmed heart or even on the basis of witnessing him in the same room, would have been subjected to ridicule. First century people were well aware, as we are, of cases of dead relatives appearing to their grieving kin following their deaths. At this point we should note the common confusion that exists between the idea of resurrection and the idea of someone dying and going to be with God. The event of the resurrection is one that is not merely a matter of subjective inner feeling, but one that has considerable claim on the external public world. The point of the resurrection is that Jesus is Lord and that death and the tyrants who use its power are defeated.

Why did these mutations occur? Only one explanation truly suffices: the disciples genuinely believed that Jesus had been bodily raised.

As many have observed, the accounts of the resurrection in the gospels do not fit snugly together. There are a number of apparently conflicting details. A recent book, Wittgenstein’s Poker, provides a wonderful example of the surface discrepancies of eye-witness testimony. In a room containing many of the most brilliant minds of the time, Wittgenstein brandished a poker at Karl Popper and then left the room. The eye-witness accounts of this event differ markedly. However, what no one doubts is that something significant happened. The same can be said of the resurrection. Surface discrepancies between narratives is quite to be expected under such circumstances.

There are four important points of commonality to be noted between the resurrection accounts of the gospels:

1. The Scriptures are almost completely silent in the resurrection narratives, in marked contrast to previous stages of the gospel narratives, where quotations from the Scriptures occur with relative frequency. This suggests that the accounts of the resurrection are very early, going back to a very early oral tradition, established before the scriptural basis had been sufficiently explored (as it had been by the time of the later account of 1 Corinthians 15).

2. The presence of women as initial witnesses of the event is not what one would expect to find in the context of the culture of the day. Once again, the account of 1 Corinthians 15 would appear to be the later one here.

3. The portrait of Jesus himself is surprising. Jesus does not, for instance, shine like a star as we might expect him to. There is such an account, but it is found in the transfiguration, not in the resurrection accounts. Jesus’ body appears normal on occasions, but in other contexts it is clear that it has been transformed. For instance, we see the disciples having difficulty in recognizing him on occasions (e.g. John 21:12). This type of account is without precedent. The writers appear to be struggling to find the language appropriate to what they have witnessed and do not appear to be driven by a clear anti-docetic, or other agenda. The body of Christ is equally at home both in heaven and in earth. It also is clearly physical.

4. The resurrection has a very much ‘this-worldly’, present age meaning. Had the stories been written later, they might well have contained references to the future resurrection of all God’s people. As they stand, the accounts include a number of clearly pre-reflective elements.

When dealing with the issue of the relationship between Easter and history we need a two-pronged approach of explanation: (a) the tomb really was empty; (b) the disciples really did encounter Jesus after his death. People were aware of the occurrence of post-mortem appearances in visions in the ancient world. Jesus’ burial was also (a fact often unrecognized) a primary burial, which would have later been followed up by storing his remains in an ossuary. Apart from sightings, the empty tomb would have not been a sufficient argument for the possibility of resurrection; in the absence of an empty tomb, nor would sightings. The only explanation sufficient to support resurrection must involve both of these things. All of the signposts point in the direction of resurrection. Denials of the resurrection often preclude on the basis of worldviews that preclude its possibility from the outset. The event of the resurrection is that which explains the future shape of the early Church.

Here the issue of a form of knowing beyond scientific and historical knowing presents itself. This new way of knowing must involve some sort of overlap with scientific and historical forms of knowing. Wright gives the example of the donation of a magnificent work of art to a college in a university. The college, lacking any place in which to display the work of art, dismantles the current college building and rebuilds it around the donated work of art. All of the things that used to make the college special are retained and, indeed, enhanced by the presence of the work of art. The negative features of the college are removed by the redesign of the college around the work of art. However—and this is the crucial point—there must be some initial reception of the work of art prior to the redesigning and rebuilding of the college around it. It is of such an overlap that we speak of with the bearing that the issue of resurrection has upon the scientist or the historian.

The resurrection poses such a challenge to the scientist or the historian, for it is the utterly characteristic, protological event of the new world that is coming to birth. It is not an absurd event occurring within the system of our own world, but an event that belongs to a new reality. No other explanation of a satisfactory character can explain the empty tomb. Nevertheless, if someone chooses to stay between the Pharaoh of scepticism and the sea of faith, they cannot be pushed any further by the historian.

God has given us minds to think. Despite the fact that the resurrection bursts the bounds of history, it also belongs within history, which is precisely why it is so disturbing and unsettling to us. In seeking to understand the resurrection, we need to situate it within a broader context. The apostle Thomas is a good example to follow here. Thomas starts out looking for a certain form of knowing—“Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe”—but ends up transcending this sort of knowing in a greater form of knowing. This is not an anti-historical or anti-scientific belief. There is epistemological weight borne by history. Faith transcends—but includes—historical and scientific conviction.

The faith by which we know, like all other true forms of knowing, is determined by the nature of its object. The fact that faith is determined by the nature of its object corresponds to the methodology adopted by science. In order to know certain things, scientists occasionally have to change their ways of seeing to a way that is more appropriate to the reality with which they are dealing. Changing paradigms involves finding a bigger picture within which to see things. Christian faith involves much the same sort of movement.

If we see an epistemology of faith in the example of Thomas, we see an epistemology of hope expressed in the work of the apostle Paul, a matter that is explored within Wright’s most recent publication, entitled—with apologies to C.S. Lewis—Surprised by Hope. Hope is a way of knowing in which new possibilities are opened up. There is also within Scripture an epistemology of love to be found, perhaps exemplified best by Peter. Wittgenstein once remarked in a profound statement: ‘It is love that believes the resurrection.’ So it was in the case of Peter.

The question of how we know things is related to the new ontology of the resurrection. The resurrection cannot be known properly in terms of our world of death, detachment and betrayal. The knowing of love must have a correlative outside the knower in the external world. This is the knowing that is needed in the world of the resurrection. ‘Objective’ historical epistemology leads us to the questions faced by Thomas, Paul and Peter: are we able and prepared to adopt a knowing of faith, hope and love? All forms of knowing are given by God; all forms of knowing can be situated within the broader setting of knowing established by faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Links

Links from the last few days:

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According to Dr Scaer, the most common way people join the Church is that someone invited them. Guess what? If church sucks, people don’t invite others. They don’t think “Man, my friends have got to be here for this!” They think “Well, I might as well keep going here.” So here’s a fun list that can work for all denominations!

Read the Fearsome Pirate’s church growth tips here. He also gives a Lutheran perspective in outlining some of the things that he dislikes about the PCA worship that he has experienced.

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An interesting post from Leithart here. He observes the way in which we are shaped by popular culture, beginning with a series of tests to see how easily we identify with certain popular slogans, characters and advertisements from our culture and then how easily we identify with Christian counterparts to these. I think that I got a near perfect mark on every part except for the advertising slogans, which probably has something to do with living in the UK. However, I admit that the references to popular culture were generally more familiar than the references to the traditional hymns and references from classic literature. I could probably quote near-verbatim the lyrics from a few dozen rock albums, but I probably know no more than a score of psalms by heart. I have a troublingly vast quantity of pointless pop trivia in my head, so Leithart’s post was a good one for me to read.

Leithart argues that the way that Christians often characterize our struggle with the world is deficient. We tend to think primarily in terms of a struggle of ideas. However, the battle is, more often than not, a struggle of desire. As René Girard has argued desire is mimetic, and the world is consistently tempting us to model our desires after its pattern.

This is where the church comes in. If the battle we face in the wider culture were merely a matter of ideas and thoughts, then we might be able to withstand the onslaught of bad ideas on our own. We might be able to fill our minds with good thoughts and ideas through reading and studying, and when a bad idea came up, we’d pounce. If we are cultural beings, whose habits and practices and desires are shaped by the habits and practices and desires of others around us – and we are – then we can’t really stand up to the cultural temptations in isolation, by ourselves. We cannot resist on our own. We need to be part of a resistant community, a resistant community that recognizes the way the world seeks to shape us into its image, and self-consciously resists the world.

And we can’t resist something with nothing. To the world’s desire-shaping, formative practices, Christians need to oppose a different set of desire-shaping practices. We can’t say: I won’t desire what the world wants me to desire. We have to have positive, godly desires in place of the world’s desires. And these desires and habits need to be nurtured, cultivated, shaped and formed in a particular community. The church has a culture, and must be a culture, if it is going to resist the forces that would conform you to worldly culture.

Leithart also has a post on consumerism that I found interesting.

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Following on from his earlier post on Dawkins and Lacan, Macht observes the importance of un-clarity in argument if we are to truly communicate:

Being “unclear” in one’s writing, then, can perhaps be a way to get the reader to NOT translate what they are reading into familiar terms. A writer want the reader to think in ways they’ve never thought before and that may require unfamiliar terms. This will of course require more work on the part of the reader and may lead to misunderstandings, but that might be the price a writer needs to pay in order to get his point across.

This, I suspect, is one of the reasons why misunderstanding so often attends theological discourse. In theology our terms are generally given to us by Scripture. Our overfamiliarity with these terms can lead to misunderstanding when we read people like Barth and Wright, who use familiar terms in unfamiliar ways. It takes quite a conscious effort on our part to overcome the familiarity that we have with the terms and begin to appreciate the ‘otherness’ of the theology of such men, and not merely interpret them on our own terms.

John Milbank has also observed the importance of ‘making strange’: developing new language to replace overfamiliar terms, in order that the peculiarity and distinctive character of the Christian position might become more apparent. This, I suggest, is one argument in favour of those who are wary of a theological discourse that works almost entirely in terms of biblical terminology. Such a discourse is helpful among those who understand the positions being advanced, but it can provide an impediment to those who have not yet grasped them.

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Joel Garver begins to articulate some of his concerns with the recent PCA report on the FV/NPP.
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Paul Helm on biblical versus systematic theology. I believe that the way that we do systematic theology is overdue for a complete overhaul. I don’t believe that biblical theology is the answer to everything, but I would not be sad to witness the demise of the discipline of systematic theology as it is often currently practiced (something that I have commented on in the past). Much systematic theology is ‘timeless’ in a deeply unhealthy fashion. It tends to treat its subject matter as if it were timeless and it also teaches in a manner that abstracts the learner from the time-bound narrative.

Systematic theology often seems to aim to present us with a panoptic perspective on the biblical narrative. We look at the narrative from a great height, from without rather than from within. This ‘timeless’ perspective is very dangerous, I believe. A reform of systematic theology would reject this way of approaching the discipline and would approach its subject matter in a slightly different manner. We study theology from within time, as participants in God’s drama. Neither the subject matter nor the student of theology should be abstracted from time. Rather than dealing with ‘timeless’ truths, we should deal with truths that are ‘constant’ through time.

Peter Leithart has suggested that ideally systematic theology would play a role analogous to the role that a book entitled An Anthropology of Middle Earth would play relative to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Such a book would help the reader to understand the constant features of the narratives. However, its subject matter would never be detached from the narrative nor could it ever be substituted for the narrative itself. The narrative always retains the primacy.

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Michael Bird writes [HT: Chris Tilling] on the importance of the study of NT Theology and Christian Origins. Here is a taster:

…when students (esp. evangelical students) talk about the message of the New Testament, they usually mean Paul. And when they mean Paul, what they mean is Romans and Galatians. Their understanding (or sometimes lack of undestanding) of these two epistles often becomes the centre of not only Paul, but of the entire New Testament. Hebrews, Matthew, Revelation, and Luke-Acts are all forced into a Pauline framework.

How is this corrected? First, Christian Origins shows us the real diversity of the early church. You only have to compare the Johannine literature, Luke-Acts, and Paul to see that the saving significance of Jesus was expressed in different (I did not say contradictory) concepts, categories, and terms. Approaches to the law were diverse and pluriform as Christians struggled (in every sense of the word) to understand how the law-covenant was to be understood and followed in light of the coming Jesus/faith (cf. Gal. 3.23). A study of Christian Origins opens our eyes to the reality and goodness of diversity, so that Christians can learn to differentiate between convictions and commands, and discern between the major and the minor doctrines of Christian belief. I would also add that, despite this theological breadth to the early church, there was still unity within diversity, a unity apparent in the common kerygma of the early church. While there was diversity and complexity in the early church, it was never a free for all, and the desire to discern between true and false expressions of belief were part of the Christian movement from the very beginning. That leads us to New Testament Theology and rather than priviledging Paul to supra-canonical status (and Romans and Galatians and hyper-canonical), we should listen to each corpra on its own terms and to the issues to which they speak. A study of this kind will indicate where the theological (and dare I say) spiritual centre of gravity lies in the New Testament.

The evangelical and Reformed tendency to force the whole of the NT into a Pauline framework is something that is becoming increasingly apparent to me. Over the last few weeks I have been studying the doctrine of atonement, for instance, in the NT. I have been struck by how muted the theme of penal substitution is in much of the extra-Pauline literature (or even, for that matter, in a number of the ’secondary’ Pauline epistles). If our ‘canon within the canon’ consisted of the Johannine literature or of Matthew and James, rather than Romans and Galatians, evangelical and Reformed theology would probably take a radically different form. Recogizing this fact has made me far more sympathetic to a number of traditions whose theology differs sharply from Reformed theology, largely because they operate in terms of a very different ‘canon within the canon’. Paul is only part of the picture and his voice is not necessarily any more important than others within the NT canon.

I suspect that a number of significant theological advances could be made if we were only to put our favourite sections of Romans and Galatians to one side for a while. For instance, we might begin to see the continuing role that the commandments of the Torah performed in shaping the life of the Church. We might begin to have a clearer sense of just how Jewish the thinking of the early Church was. An overemphasis on Paul’s more antithetical and abstract ways of formulating the relationship between the Law and the Gospel can blind us to how Paul and other NT authors generally continue to take the particularities of the Torah as normative for the life of the NT people of God. The way that the Torah operates has changed, but it is still operational in many respects as the Torah of the Spirit and the Torah of liberty.

We might also find ourselves called to more concrete forms of discipleship and begin to move towards a gospel that is more firmly rooted in praxis. We might also discover that the message of the gospel is not just concerned with the overcoming of sin and death, but also is about bringing humanity to the maturity that God had always intended for it. We might also find ourselves moving towards a more sacramental gospel.

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John Barach ponders the relationship between the Ten Commandments and the ten statements of Genesis 1.
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David Jones at la nouvelle théologie gives a list of links to material relevant to the recent Wilson-Hitchens debate on Christianity and atheism. There is also an interesting article in the Daily Mail, in which Peter Hitchens reviews his brother’s book [HT: Dawn Eden].
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Al Kimel’s blog, Pontifications, has a new home [HT: Michael Liccione]. The RSS feed also seems to be better on this one.
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June 2007 Wrightsaid list answers.
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As someone who believes that the inerrancy debates are largely unhelpful, I found this post by John H quite insightful. The Scriptures are exactly as God wanted us to have them and fulfil the purposes for which they were given. They are trustworthy. In the comments to the post, it is observed that the Church would have been far better off fighting for the ground of Scriptural efficacy, rather than Scriptural inerrancy. The Scriptures perfectly achieve the goals for which they were given. A position centred on Scriptural efficacy also serves to remind us that fundamentalism is itself a threat to a truly Christian doctrine of the Word of God, generally denying or downplaying the saving efficacy of God’s Word in preaching, the sacraments and the liturgy. Thinking in such terms might also help to move us away from the overly formal doctrine of Scripture generally adopted by conservative evangelicalism.
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Matthew gives some helpful clarifications in response to my comments on his recent post.
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The Baptized Body, Peter Leithart’s latest book is released today. Buy your copy now!
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David Peterson, from Oak Hill, gives an introduction to biblical theology in a series of audio lectures. I haven’t listened to these yet, but some of my readers might find them helpful.
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Ben Witherington on Billy Graham.
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R.P. Reeves on evangelicalism:

With Hochshild’s case, I was surprised to learn how bare-bones Wheaton’s doctrinal statement is, but as I’ve tried to think through the history of evangelicalism in a more comprehensive manner, I’m no longer surprised; rather, it’s exactly what I expect from evangelicalism. One of the characteristics of evangelicalism that I am working on developing is that it is first and foremost a renewalist, rather than ecclesiastical, movement. In 16th century Protestantism, the doctrinal heritage of the church (notably the ecumenical creeds) was explicitly reaffirmed, precisely because the Reformation sought to reform the church. By contrast, Evangelicalism seeks to renew the individual (and then, once a sufficient mass of individuals a renewed, this will renew the church, or society, or the state, etc.). Mixed with a primitivist suspicion of creeds and traditions, it’s not surprising that a basic affirmation of biblical inerrancy was believed to be sufficient boundary for evangelical theologians, nor is it surprising that this thin plank is proving to be a shaky foundation.

[HT: Paul Baxter]

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A PCA pastor: “We wouldn’t ordain John Murray”. Sadly, this is only what one should expect when theological factionalism takes holds of a denomination.
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Byron is right: this is a very good parable.
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‘Begging the Question’ [HT: Paul Baxter]
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From the evangelical outpost: How to Draw a Head and Assess your Brain Fitness.
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The cubicle warrior’s guide to office jargon
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The unveiling of the logo for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Seb Coe:

It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world.

Tony Blair:

When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life.

Tessa Jowell:

This is an iconic brand that sums up what London 2012 is all about - an inclusive, welcoming and diverse Games that involves the whole country.

It takes our values to the world beyond our shores, acting both as an invitation and an inspiration.

Ken Livingstone:

The new Olympic brand draws on what London has become - the world’s most forward-looking and international city.

And the brand itself:

London 2012

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Finally, some Youtube videos:

The new Microsoft Surface:

Battle at Kruger:

I’m a Marvel … and I’m a DC:

New Skoda Ad:

Links

Believe it or not, I really meant it when I said (about a month and a half ago now) that I had no intention of reducing my input on this blog to that of posting long lists of links. I apologize for the continued lack of substantial posting. Hopefully this will change sometime soon. However, I won’t make any promises, as I have not the best track-record of keeping blogging promises. What do you, my reader, think of my link posts? Should I stop them or make them more occasional? Are they worth reading or would you prefer me to do something different with my blogging time? Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

The following are some of the things that have caught my eye online over the last couple of days:

Matt Colvin, whose Lenten reflection was posted on this blog yesterday, posts further thoughts on his blog on the Last Supper and on Gethsemane. He also has posted some posts that are relevant to the interminable FV debates: ‘Dead Orthodoxy’ and ‘Head on a Platter’.

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The Fearsome Pirate has returned! He kicks off with a post on Lutheranism. Josh, we’ve missed you.
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Leithart posts on the subject of the consumer revolution and gives us quite a Girardian insight from an eighteenth century writer.
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On the subject of René Girard, Edward Oakes posts on Girard over on the First Things blog.
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Macht links to audio from Calvin College’s Faith and Music weekend. It looks interesting: Sylia Keesmaat, Lauren Winner, and a number of other speakers.
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If any of you are feeling like engaging in some extreme penance, Ben Myers links to a meme that might suit you. He also posts Kim Fabricius’s ‘Ten Propositions on Political Theology’, which Josh and Joel discuss over on the BHT.
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Stephen at the Thinkery links to a post with a series of accounts of anti-LGBT encounters. Whilst I believe that lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender behaviour is sinful, I have long maintained that homophobia is real and ought to be shown up in all of its ugliness by Christians. Some of the stories recounted should give us food for thought.
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There are few examples of homophobia as extreme as that of the Westboro Baptist Church. The following is the first part of the BBC2 documentary, in which Louis Theroux meets the Phelps:

The other parts of the show are also available on Youtube — part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7.

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The audiobook of Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine is available for free download from Christian Audio this month [HT: Tim Challies]. Don’t miss out!
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Why PowerPoint presentations don’t work [HT: David Field]. I feel vindicated: I have long viewed PowerPoint presentations with a mistrust bordering on antipathy.
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According to recent studies, Britain has 4.2million CCTV cameras - one for every 14 people in the country - and 20 per cent of all cameras globally.

It has been calculated that each person is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.

Read the whole article here [HT: David Field].

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Tearfund has a new report on churchgoing in the UK. There is some comment on the report on the BBC website. Graham Weeks posts some figures from the survey here.
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NTW’s Maundy Thursday sermon.
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The Placebo Diet [HT: The Evangelical Outpost]. I just need to know how to turn this finding in my favour.
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As usual the Evangelical Outpost has a number of other interesting links, which I thought that I would pass on:

100 aphorisms summarizing Calvin’s Institutes
Some classic insults
34 Reasons Why People Unsubscribe from your Blog (a quick scan confirms my suspicion that I have been guilty of the majority of these at some time or other)
The Internet weighs 2 ounces

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Some British teachers drop teaching the Holocaust and the Crsuades to avoid offending Muslims and other schools are challenged to change their teaching on the Arab-Israeli conflict by some theologically confused Christians [HT: Tim Challies]
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A skeptical ex-scientist describes the funding process for peer-reviewed research.
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Some more useful links from lifehacker:

How to Read a Scientific Research Paper
How to make yourself happier within the next hour
Google launches My Maps
Ditto: A useful Windows clipboard extension

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I am glad that I am not the only person who writes e-mails in this way:

Some of the other Youtube videos that have caught my attention over the last week include: LisaNova does 300!, Sand Castle Explosions Backwards v.1 and Sand Castle Explosions Backwards v.2.
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Jeffrey Overstreet asks whether movies are increasing our capacity to see, and whether the narrative of film distracts us too much from the visual dimension [HT: John Barach].
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And, on the topic of the poetry of cinema, I will conclude this links post with one of my favourite scenes from Spirited Away, which I watched yet again last night. It grows on me every time.

More Links

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.

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Kim Fabricius’ Ten Propositions on Being a Theologian
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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).
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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.
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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.

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Pope Benedict XVI tries to remind people of the existence of hell.
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Islamic feminist theologians (I suppose that that, like lesbian Eskimo bishops, some have to exist somewhere…).
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Garrett questions the value of long sermons.
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Mark Goodacre writes in defence of Wikipedia. Dr Jim West disagrees strongly.
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‘John Lennon’s Born-Again Phase’ [via Dave Armstrong]
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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’.

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Tim Challies writes on the subject of discernment in the gray areas.
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Paleojudaica, Dr Jim Davila’s blog, turned 4 over the weekend. A belated ‘Happy Birthday!’.
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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.
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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.
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Some facts about the top 1000 books found in libraries [HT: Tim Challies].
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Josh, the fearsome Lutheran pirate, writes in defence of women’s ordination (don’t worry, he is not seriously advocating the position).
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Mark Whittinghill alerts us to a new posthumous Tolkien book. It should be released in under a month.
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Michael Spencer links to a list of D.A. Carson MP3s.
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Lifehacker tells us how to cure hiccups with sugar and gives a guide to power-napping.
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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.
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Also in the world of Youtube, the Youtube Video Awards have been announced.
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Why models don’t smile and 101 great posting ideas [HT: The Evangelical Outpost].

Links

The following are some of the enjoyable and insightful posts, articles and talks that I have read or listened to in the last couple of days:—

Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy [HT: matthew henry john bartlett]

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Ben Witherington - The Jesus Tomb? ‘Titanic’ Talpiot Tomb Theory Sunk from the Start
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The full series of T.F. Torrance audio lectures
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Lauren F. Winner - Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity
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Cynthia Nielsen continues blogging on Jean-Luc Marion
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Mark Horne proclaims the ‘hastening death’ of the theological journal. Frankly, I find the idea that the future of theological writing might lie in the works of dilettante bloggers like me little short of terrifying. Let’s hope that the theological journals reinvent themselves quickly (First Things is a good example of one that seems to be getting it just about right).
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On a related note to the previous item, Mark Goodacre comments on the way that the biblioblogosphere shapes the way that scholarship engages with such news stories as that of the Jesus tomb
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Leithart: Predestination and Logic and Eschatological Meaning
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My brother Mark posts videos of himself making origami models: an elephant and a rose
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Perhaps the most useful resource that I have encountered for weeks [HT: Tim Challies] — search every Calvin and Hobbes cartoon by keywords. Ever wondered how many times the word ‘boogers’ appears in the Calvin and Hobbes corpus? You need wonder no longer!

More Wright Talks

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
Part 1, Part 2

Some Links

Leithart on Rosenstock-Huessy on Descartes, Marxism and Tribalism.

Bill Wilder (who made a helpful series of lectures on N.T. Wright a year or so back) writes a WTJ article on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, arguing for a position that closely approximates to that of James Jordan. Wilder arrived at his position independently of Jordan, but cites Jordan favourably in the footnotes.

In Media Res has an interview with Jeff Meyers (whose new Ecclesiastes commentary, A Table in the Mist, I am presently enjoying) and the first part of an interview with Peter Leithart. The Leithart interview is on the subject of Postmodernism and Postmodernity. Having recently enjoyed his lecture series ‘Solomon Among the Postmoderns’ (available to purchase here), I would recommend Leithart’s treatment of postmodernity as a welcome change from many of the overly positive and negative treatments that one generally encounters.

R. Scott Clark — How We Got Here: The Roots of the Current Controversy Over Justification. Incredibly frustrating to read. The fact that misunderstandings of such magnitude persist many years into the FV debate makes one wonder if progress will ever be made. It is the introductory chapter of Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry, which can be purchased here.

With a respected source and enough repetition, the truth of many theological claims can be taken more or less for granted and seldom be subjected to close scrutiny. One such claim is Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ claim: “if your preaching of the gospel of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ does not provoke the charge from some of antinomianism you’re not preaching the gospel of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ.” Mark Horne addresses the meaning of Romans 6:1 here. I have long felt uncomfortable and have occasionally protested against the way that Romans 6:1ff. is employed as an answer to an argument for ‘antinomianism’.

Whilst Romans 6:1ff. can be used as a response to what some call ‘antinomianism’, we must be careful in using the verse in such a manner, as Paul’s point is not quite the same as our point. Terms such as ‘antinomianism’ are also unhelpful as they fail to distinguish between the moralism that we occasionally encounter in contemporary Christianity and the ‘Torah-ism’ that Paul was dealing with in the epistles. They are not the same thing and the confusion that results from conflating such things will have far-reaching effects on our reading of Paul.

Space, Time and Sacraments

Wright’s Calvin College lectures are now online.

NTW Lecture

Wright lectures in Calvin College’s January Series:

Simply Christian

There is also a Christianity Today interview with Wright here.

Rich Lusk on Justification

Complete notes from Rich Lusk’s justification lectures at the 2005 Christ Church Ministerial Conference. HT: Tim G

Wright on the Bible and Christian Imagination

There is a Wright audio talk available here, on the subject of the Bible and Christian imagination.

René Girard Videos

René Girard
There are some René Girard videos on this site. If you don’t know who Girard is, you are really missing out.