If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the proposed John 3:16 Super Bowl ad that Fox rejected because it was too religious. A lot of Christians are up in arms about the “censorship,” “intolerance,” and “unfairness” that Fox’s decision supposedly represents. Yet, I seem to recall lots of Christians expressing similar outrage when atheists began running pro-atheism ads on buses and billboards. So, what exactly do we want? Is it okay to run overtly religious ads in public spaces or not? Because it sure seems like we’re trying to have our cake and eat it too.
(By the way, that always strikes me as an odd saying. Why would I want to have the cake if I wasn’t going to eat it?)
- Michael Patton reflects on “closet doctrines” – those doctrines we believe but prefer not to admit to non-Christians.
Closet doctrines are those doctrines that we might believe, but we hide, especially to those for whom Christian truth is a novelty. In short, they are those beliefs that we are somewhat embarrassed by.
- Kevin DeYoung comments on the importance of the affections in Piper, Edwards and the Reformers.
the experiential nature of faith, the spiritual mark of delight in God, and the expectation of pervasive joy are not the inventions of John Piper. Nor are they owing only to the influence of Edwards and the Great Awakening. They go back to the Reformers themselves.
- Tyler Kenney expresses concern about how evangelicals read the OT.
What am I getting at? I am concerned that evangelicals, by and large, approach the OT with an unbiblical dependency on the NT. Since the NT is newer revelation and offers a more developed view of God’s redeeming purposes, it becomes the key by which we “unlock” the meaning of what has come before it. There is no overt discrimination against the OT, just a lack of deep engagement with it as meaningful, relevant revelation in its own right.
- Joel Watts links to an article by Mirsolav Volf on whether monotheism engenders violence.
- There are some good book reviews out today. Larry Hurtado reviews James McGrath’s The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in its Jewish Context; Diglot reviews Walter Brueggemann’s An Unsettling God – The Heart of the Hebrew Bible; and Jason Goroncy reviews David Gibson’s Reading the Decree: Exegesis, Election, and Christology in Calvin and Barth.
- And, here’s an interesting list of 10 movies stuck in development hell. Hollywood definitely needs to get some of these taken care of. I don’t care if they ever make a movie about Halo, but Ender’s Game would be fabulous and The Sandman is long overdue.
By now you’ve probably heard about the survey that recently demonstrated that atheists and agnostics know more about religion than most religious people do. (If not, you can read the full report here. NPR also discusses it here.) Now, you can take the quiz for yourself. Answer this brief 15-question survey and see how your religious knowledge compares to the population as a whole.
Wifi is a wonderful invention. I’m sitting in a nice, secluded cabin on Lummi island. Woke up to a rooster crowing on a nearby farm and spent the last couple of hours reading, drinking coffee, and enjoying a cold, misty morning. I just got caught up with my blog reading, and thought I’d go ahead and pass some links along. To keep the list manageable after a few days off, I’m just going to highlight the more interesting ones, and I’ll keep the comments to a minimum.
- Anne Rice has been interviewed by NPR on her recent decision to leave the Catholic church.
- NT Wright has a great article on C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity – explaining both what he appreciates about the book and what he dislikes. (HT Mike Bird)
- Here’s a debate between Richard Gaffin and Wayne Grudem on the nature of prophecy today. (HT Tim Challies)
- Jim West discusses theological exegesis.
- NYT has an article on pastoral burnout.
- Paul Helm has posted the fourth part of his review of Kevin Vanhoozer’s Remythologizing Theology.
- Jim West carried through on his promise to revive the Biblical Studies Carnival.
- Patheos has begun a discussion on the future of evangelicalism. The series began with the topic of “transforming the church” and posts from Scot McKnight, Collin Hansen, Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor, Ed Stetzer, Matthew Anderson, Al Hsu. Next up: “transforming the culture”
- iMonk disucsses Rachel Evans’ open letter to Ken Ham.
- And, Jonathan Acuff discusses why Christians sometimes act like jerks online. (HT Colin Hansen)
- Stuart points out a great story about atheists “de-baptising” people with hair dryers. What will they come up with next?
- NYT has a couple of opinion pieces. Frank Rich argues that the downfall of Mel Gibson parallels the decline of the Christian right over the last few years. And Maureen Dowd comments on the new Vatican policies regarding the sex abuse scandal and the ordination of women.
- C. Michael Patton has a very nice graphic for explaining what it means to be an evangelical. And James McGrath offers an infographic showing how states handle evolution in in their curricular standards. I was surprised to see how few make any explicit mention of evolution in their standards.
- Sara Coakley has finished a 3-part series on “Rethinking the Sex Crises in Catholicism and Anglicanism” (see also here and here).
- Matt Flannagan offers some reflections on three atheist billboards in New Zealand.
- Rod Dreher comments on the University of Illinois professor who was fired for having the audacity to teach (in a class on Catholicism and Catholic morality) that Catholics teach that homosexuality is immoral.
- C. Michael Patton explains why he decided to baptize two of his children at home in his swimming pool. Even beyond his rather low-church approach to baptism, I found his credobaptist reflections on how to determine when a child is ready for baptism to be particularly interesting.
- Brian LePort continues his discussion of Jon Levison’s Filled with the Spirit. And James McGrath is still working his way through The Historical Jesus: Five Views with comments on the chapters by Jimmy Dunn and Luke Timothy Johnson.
- In a shocker, the Church of England’s recent attempt to reach a compromise on the ordination of woman was unsuccessful.
- And, although I refused to comment on the LeBron James fiasco last week, I would like to point out that almost 10 million people watched it. Apparently they thought they had nothing better to do than invest an hour of their lives on this. Though I’m sure that if any of you watched it, you only did so because you were conducting high-level academic research.
The outer ring of Christianity is a rigid guard of ethical abnegations and professional priests; but inside that inhuman guard you will find the old human life dancing like children, and drinking wine like men; for Christianity is the only frame for pagan freedom. But in the modern philosophy the case is opposite; it is its outer ring that is obviously artistic and emancipated; its despair is within.
And its despair is this, that it does not really believe that there is any meaning in the universe; therefore it cannot hope to find any romance; its romances will have no plots….One can find no meanings in a jungle of skepticism; but the man will find more and more meanings who walks through a forest of doctrine and design. Here everything has a story tied to its tail.
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (John Lane Co, 1908), 292-293.
If you haven’t seen this yet, Jim West posted an article at The Bible and Interpretation arguing that a-theistic biblical studies are at an end (HT Jim West). Studying the Bible apart from an active faith commitment, which he argues is the dominant approach to biblical studies, leads nowhere. Indeed, with typical West-ian pointedness, he summarizes where this approach has taken us.
So where has this approach gotten us? It has gotten us a population utterly ignorant of the contents and meaning of the Bible. It has gotten us a generation of young people who can’t tell the difference between an Epistle and an Apostle. And it has gotten us learned societies which produce journals which propagate and promulgate a-theism to the exclusion of theism.
And, he contends that there are two very good reasons that Scripture cannot be studied a-theistically. First, the Bible is the church’s book. It was written by the church and for the church. Non-christians can observe the text, but they will never participate in it like believers do. Indeed, “Atheists are to biblical studies what television commentators are to a sporting event.” And correspondingly, Scripture itself claims to be “insider literature” – i.e. literature for the people of the Spirit (1 Cor 2).
So, wrapping it all up, West contends:
Authentic biblical studies will more and more be found among the people of faith who value the bible and who understand it because they are endowed by the Spirit with the gift of understanding. Farewell, a-theism. You were amusing, for a while, but now you’re time is over and your discipline so completely fragmented that, like Humpty Dumpty, you can never be put back together again.
This doesn’t mean that West rejects any role for non-Christian scholarship on the Bible. But it is a necessary limited and superficial role because they will always be “outsiders” with respect to the text – outside the community and outside the Spirit.
What do you think? I’m sure this is an issue that you’ve worked through in your own understanding of how hermeneutics works. Is there a difference between a really well-done commentary produced by a non-believer and one produced by a believer? If so, what exactly is the difference?