Blog Archives

Flotsam and jetsam (11/30)

  • James McGrath had the students in his Revelation class evaluate a website and post their comments. He set up a blog for that purpose and is inviting everyone to check it out. I’ve only glanced at it so far, but it looks interesting.
  • Dane Ortlund offers a thought from Richard Baukham on why the Gospel writers thought history was so important.

Flotsam and jetsam (11/5)

My own position is quite clear on this, that I have supported women Bishops in print and in person. I’ve spoken in Synod in favour of going that route, but I don’t think it’s something that ought to be done at the cost of a major division in the Church.

I propose in contrast that God is “kenotically” or self-sacrificially infused (not by divine loss or withdrawal, but by an over-generous pouring out) into every causal joint of the creative process, yet precisely without overt disruption of apparent “randomness.”

The title of “America’s Greatest Theologian” is pretty universally ceded to Jonathan Edwards, and after him there is a tight race for “Second Greatest.” In my opinion, Warfield is a contender for that second slot.

  • The Christian Humanist has an interesting discussion on heresy and the early creeds, specifically addressing with the early creeds alone are sufficient for defining what “heresy” really is. HT

Irenaeus and The Great Cucumber

Irenaeus of Lyons died on this day in 195. Since he is best known for his arguments against the gnostic heresies of his day, particularly the version espoused by Valentinus, I thought it would be appropriate to commemorate the anniversary of his death with one of my favorite passages from Against Heresies – The Great Cucumber – in which he mocks gnosticism for its arbitrary and complex hierarchy of divine beings.

There is a certain Proarche, royal, surpassing all thought, a power existing before every other substance, and extended into space in every direction. But along with it there exists a power which I term a Gourd;  and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart from themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth the remaining multitude…. (Against Heresies 1.11.4)

and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd
and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart from
themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a
Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a
Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth
the remaining multitude of the delirious melons of Valentinus.2804 For if it is fitting that that language
which is used respecting the universe be transformed to the primary Tetrad, and if any one may
assign names at his pleasure, who shall prevent us from adopting these names, as being much more
credible [than the others], as well as in general use, and understood by all?and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd

and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart from

themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a

Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a

Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth

the remaining multitude of the delirious melons of Valentinus.2804 For if it is fitting that that language

which is used respecting the universe be transformed to the primary Tetrad, and if any one may

assign names at his pleasure, who shall prevent us from adopting these names, as being much more

credible [than the others], as well as in general use, and understood by all?

Flotsam and jetsam (6/20)

Many thanks to Brian LePort for handling these posts while I was at the Acton conference. I have returned and will be posting some more reflections on Acton over the next day or so. But, for now, here are some interesting links.

  • Peter Leithart has a very helpful post on whether we should continue to use the label “Arian” despite recent historical studies suggesting that Athanasius’ opponents were far too diverse to be covered by a single label like this.
  • There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Ron Hendel’s decision to relinquish his SBL membership over concerns that the society has changed its position on the relationship between faith and biblical studies, and that it has done so for largely financial reasons (i.e. they’re trying to recruit more evangelical and fundamentalist scholars). John Hobbins, Mike Bird, and Jim West have all offered comments.
  • Jim West asks if someone can be a committed Christian and a practicing homosexual. In the process, he presses on the popular notion of what it means to be a “committed” Christian and how this relates to ongoing sinful practices in general.
  • Diglogtting reviews Don Schweitzer’s Contemporary Christologies. It sounds like a good, brief resource for familiarizing yourself with a variety of recent less-traditional approaches to Christology. The apparent lack of material dealing with more traditional Christologies, though, belies the back-cover claim that the book deals with the “chief approaches” in Christology since WWII.
  • CT has posted its June 2010 interview with Al Erisman, who contends that “we need to think about ministry in the digital culture the way missionaries think about the culture of the people they serve”. They’ve also posted the responses by Wha-Chul Son, Haron Wachira, Nigel Cameron, and Juan Rogers. If you’re wanting to understand some of the pros and cons involved in using technology in ministry, this would be a good conversation to follow.
  • With the growing use of the rosary in popular culture, Alan Creech offers a helpful primary on the rosary.
  • Stuart discusses some recent claims that fundamentalist Christians are using the BP oil spill to support their eschatology. Joel Watts offers some thoughts as well.
  • C. Michael Patton offers some thoughts on his two days as an atheist. His story raises some interesting questions about the nature of faith, doubt, and disbelief.
  • And, apparently if you jump onto a moving semi on a dare, you should have some plan for getting down.

Diversity and unity in the early Church

Michael Bird has posted some interesting comments on The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture’s Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped our Understanding of Early Christianity by Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger. The book itself sounds like a good discussion of diversity and unity in the early church, pushing back strongly against the current tendency to emphasize diversity at the expense of unity. And, he provides a quote from D.A. Carson’s endorsement that was particularly interesting:

In the beginning was Diversity. And the Diversity was with God, and the Diversity was God. Without Diversity was nothing made that has been made. And it came to pass that nasty old ‘orthodoxy’ people narrowed down diversity and finally squeezed it out, dismissing it as heresy. But in the fullness of time (which is, of course, our time), Diversity rose up and smote orthodoxy hip and thigh. Now, praise be, the only heresy is orthodoxy. As widely and as unthinkingly accepted as this reconstruction is, it is historical nonsense: the emperor has no clothes.

Although this is good reminder that we should not simply assume diversity in the early church, James McGrath also warns that we should not neglect the evidence for diversity that is there.