Thursday, December 27, 2007


Aristotle's Unmoved Mover concept likely had its roots in some of the thought of Parmenides of Elea [c. 515-450 BC]. Parmenides always spoke about the One, the unity that is hidden behind the diversity of our world of experience. He never ascribed to it relatability, but frequently spoke of it in terms of Being.

Jonathan Edwards thought deeply here as well. He said that we cannot think of God as a being because that would subliminally suggest that we or other things that have being are made of the same stuff. Edwards posited that God is "Being in general." In truth, to use the word "is" in the previous sentence is to begin to undefine the fact.

But back to Parminedes. He sought to delineate between what is, what truly is, and what seems to be. He thought that knowing this distinction was only available through reason. Leszek
Kolakowski has commented on these ontologically gnostic ideas in Parmenides. Kolakowski says that for Parmenides,
what truly is cannot have been created, or that would mean that something comes from nothing, and that is impossible. Nor can it change, decay, or die: it is perfectly fulfilled and unchanging, with no beginning or end. Nor can it be said to "have been" or to be "going to be"; it simply is, beyond time, without time.... He means that Being is full and sufficient unto itself.
I'd like to point out a couple of things here. I would almost completely agree. However, it really is impossible for something to come from nothing, unless the Unity or Being causing the something is Divine, Wise, and wholly Good. Additionally, all his talk of Being and the essence of the One behind all we comprehend.... this is precisely how the God of the Bible defines and reveals Himself. That is the definition of YHWH in Exodus 3 - "I AM WHO I AM." This name comes directly from the Hebrew "to be" verb, hayah.

Lastly, there is more beauty in untainted Being than can be found anywhere. This is why the Michelangelo's statue of David is naked. David purely is. He just is. This is why trying to define affectionate relationships is so hard. They just are. And they're beautiful. So then, how much more excellent, radiant, right, and lovely is the Being that has never not been. "He is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His nature and He upholds all things by the word of His power" [Heb 1.3].

there’s no in justice with God [Rom 9.14]

9.15 [says to Moses]
9.16 [so then....]
9.17 [says to Pharaoh]
9.18 [so then....]

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

what i got for xmas and why i shouldn't buy another book until 2010.

i wish the guy who said all this would write a kid's book. it would be so good.

"If there is a god, he deserves to be put down and rebelled against."

"My books are about killing God."

"I hate the
Narnia books, and I hate them with a deep and bitter passion."

"Blake said Milton was of the devil's party without knowing it. I am of the devil's party and know it."
Philip Pullman [author of Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass] isn't being sneaky about this. "I wanted to reach everyone, and the best way I could hope to do that was to write for children."

isaiah 9 [my vote for president]

The Apostle John understood that he was wonderful counselor [Jn 14.16, 1 Jn 2.1], mighty God [Jn 1.1-3], everlasting father [Jn 10.30], and prince of peace [Jn 16.33].

These Messianic promises from Isaiah 9 are hugely trinitarian. The Holy Spirit is likewise our counselor and God is our Father. Isaiah said this because he knew that all of God was going to redeem all of his people by giving them all the fullness of himself.

And this child, this kid – the government is going to be on his shoulders. It is a government of peace. It is a government that cannot and will not end. It's not that his government will just not stop, but it will always increase. I'm voting for him. "His truth abideth still. His kingdom is forever."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

[christmas tradition]

My wife and I annually attend Waffle House for lunch the Sunday before every Christmas. Apparently, we're not the only ones with this sacred tradition. It was slammed. Our waitress was sweating. She had to give me a second glass of water before I could take my first sip. I guess there was something funky on my cup? Best of all, my sausage melt with double hashbrowns was a culinary masterpiece.

I wish she really would have had bangs like that. Happy Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

ephesians 4.25-6.24

  • The Apostle Paul wrote 13 epistles [i know there's hundreds of really smart people that disagree].
  • In these 13 epistles, there are 86 chapter divisions.
  • In these 13 epistles, there are 448 imperative verbs.
  • This averages out to 5.21 imperative verbs per chapter. We all know that Paul doesn't write that rigidly, but just go with me on this one.
  • There are 40 imperative verbs in Ephesians. From Eph 4.25-6.24 [which for now we will consider two chapters] there are 39 imperative verbs. This is the highest concentration of imperative verbs in the whole Bible - almost 20 per chapter. God chose them before the world's creation to be holy and blameless [1.4] and prepared good works beforehand for them to walk in them [2.10]; these imperatives seem to be a means to those great ends.

we have to get to work. help us, Holy Spirit.

6,900 tongues worldwide.

400 tongues that have the whole Bible.

1600 that have a portion of the Scriptures.


These four doctrines are primarily derived from logical implications of exegesis rather than from strict exegetical labor itself.
  1. premillennial pre-tribulational rapture
  2. cessation of the gifts [signs, wonders]
  3. limited atonement
  4. paedo- [infant] baptism
Furthermore, these are usually the doctrines that cause division. If fellowship is broken between believers over these issues, then the lenses with which they are reading the Scriptures are near-sighted and out of focus. One must keep in mind that it was never St Paul's or St John's intention to teach systematic theology, but instead to elaborate on the manifold ways in which God was keeping His promises in Jesus. This truth is the backbone for our systematics.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

eye saw JESUS in philosophy

Harry Frankfurt taught philosophy at Princeton University. In 2005, he wrote what I would consider a classic – On Bullshit. Then in 2006, he wrote a sequel entitled On Truth. I remember reading these a year or so ago and my mind and spirit being caught up to see the beauty and goodness of Jesus. If all the world is bull and there is something in the nature of truth that makes it sweet, sure, and able to be experienced [as he asserts], then Harry Frankfurt has unconsciously made Jesus look good. You might think I’m just being stupid or that I just wanted to have the word “bullshit” on here, but see for yourself....
It is preposterous to imagine that we ourselves are determinate, and hence susceptible both to correct and to incorrect descriptions, while supposing that the ascription of determinacy to anything else has been exposed as a mistake. As conscious beings, we exist only in response to other things, and we cannot know ourselves at all without knowing them. Moreover, there is nothing in theory, and certainly nothing in experience, to support the extraordinary judgment that it is the truth about himself that is the easiest for a person to know. Facts about ourselves are not peculiarly solid and resistant to skeptical dissolution. Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantial – notoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things. And insofar as this is the case, sincerity itself is bullshit.
The NIV of all this is that humans are dependent, unstable, and needy [St Paul might say we are blind needing sight or dead needing life]. We get to respond to a sovereign! Too bad ol Harry calls this “other things.” Just go read both of them and you too shall find yourself blessed.

Here and here are other takes on Frankfurt's bull. And here is a must-view, political slant with Harry’s same thesis.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

JOB and real wisdom

Noting the Hebrew poetry, the parallelisms, the structure, and the content, Victor Hugo said that the book of Job is the greatest literary work ever penned. Because of its place and purpose in the canon, some scholars have argued that it is merely fiction. Regardless, the story is compelling, the characters are unique, and the lessons learned are vital.

The cycle of the three dialogues in chapters 4-27 gets shorter each time, so as to show man impotent to attain true wisdom on his own. Job’s pathetic comforters run out of things to say. They are, along with Job, scratching their heads over three issues: the suffering of the righteous, the justice of God, and where wisdom is found.

Gordon Fee has observed that

the question of where wisdom is found is answered not only in terms of God alone, but also by silencing all human voices that would insist that God must explain himself to them…. The brilliance of this book lies in the fact that although it looks as though it were a theodicy [human beings putting God on trial, insisting on explanations for his actions], it turns out to be a theology [God putting human beings on trial as to whether or not they will trust him not only when they receive no immediate benefits, but also when he does not give them the explanations they demand].

In the end, the book of Job moves from the view of God “as an omnipotent yet amoral being to God as One who is both omnipotent and mysteriously benevolent” [C. Hassell Bullock]. With this understanding, Job’s response in chapter 42 shows he is beginning to grasp true wisdom. He is repentant and humble. He knows that “You can do all things and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” [Jb 42.2].


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

the next Billy Graham?

At least that's a possible question from the media. Rob Bell is cute enough, smart enough, and prominent enough to have CNN and Time Magazine give him significant attention [if you’re too lazy to read, the CNN one is a video]. We have to give a snot about this because it is molding what is called “Christianity” in America. Have fun.

Monday, December 17, 2007

"the spirit of holiness" [romans 1.4]

This is a phrase unique to only this text in all of the NT. Michael Haykin gives good musings on it.

ROMANS 9.30-33

The Gentiles [nations] have attained righteousness.
  • They didn’t pursue it.
  • They attained it by faith.

pursued a law of righteousness.

  • They didn’t arrive there.
  • They didn’t pursue it by faith, but by works.
  • They stumbled over the rock of offense – Jesus.

"I AM LEGEND" and the atonement

There's not a profane word or a scantly clad breast in the whole thing. So, it could be a family flick in that regard. But not so much. You will be on very the edge of scared for quite a while, rarely pushed over, but always engaged. My wife likes to call this a "jumpy" movie. A "jumpy" movie is something in between an intense drama and a horror made for the masses. If you know my Sara, this is funny. But best of all....

"I am Legend" is a flagrant construal of the sweetness and need for a blood-based substitutionary atonement. I'm glad the cross isn't an allegory. I'm grateful that it is theologically and historically true and spiritually and eternally my only hope.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

how to not advance the kingdom

Let's take missionaries off the field and remove their financial support because they admit that they have a private prayer language. They speak in tongues.

Or wait, here's another good idea. Let's cut ties from people who have grown up in our church family, are serving Jesus thousands of miles away, and decided to have an alcoholic beverage because of the specific cultural context in which God has put them.

Some of our brothers in the ol' Southern Baptist Convention haven't been up to par lately on contextualization, understanding that wine is often a good thing in the Bible, realizing that Jesus was known for drinking in Matthew 11, and above all - that those issues are peripheral and what we believe about them should serve the Gospel, not define it.

But today, I've been pushed over the edge. The church plant my brother attends in St Louis is conservative, Jesus-centered, Spirit-led, Bible-based, and now without support that was promised by the Missouri Baptist Convention [I feel ok to say this because I grew up in it and still love what the Spirit is doing in the SBC]. You can read more here and here. This is saddening to me. Let us be prayerful and hopeful because the kingdom is about the King and not about sin management and man-made moral litmus tests.

I'm going to finish my glass of wine with my wife. Really.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

ephesians overview

An over-simplified outline of Ephesians with its major themes/motifs. I was forced to do this many moons ago and wanted Mark Moody to see it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

JESUS, help us to do church right [whatever the heck that means].

So, I'm going to call Andy Stanley or one of those influential big church dudes and see if he'll take an idea of mine, sell thousands of books with it, make a killer sermon series out of it, and then pay me some flipping money. Here we go....

The main thing that 90% of modern, cool churches are trying to do [and generally with good intentions] is to birth "community" in their local body. In no way am I against this. I am quite often against how this takes shape and becomes either soccer-mom gossip session, spiritual feel-good hour, or one arrogant guy saying everything he knows about the Bible every week and always taking it out of context. "What does community look like?" might be a good question to interject here. But tis not my concern at the moment. Where I feel such a rub with all this is that many churches are attempting to impose a form of community on a group of people without that form having any substance. So, here's the phrase I'd like to see us work with:

Unforced community.

That's right, buddy. Those two words are going to make me millions. It is doubtful that James and the Jerusalem church broke everybody up into cell groups and each group did such and such a study that James and the boys set out for them. Again, I'm not opposed to these. But the NT church was a community and in community because they loved each other, they loved the Lord together, they actually loved their families, they worked together, they lived together, they were persecuted together, and on and on ad infinitum. How do you love people in such a way that they get more than a couple hours of your time? How do you love people so that you impart to them not only the gospel, but also your own soul [1 Thess 2.8]? Can we not do this because we have too many remote controls, fast food restaurants, psychologists, and television channels? Can we not have this kind of gospel community life because we are on this side of the automobile and the cell phone?

I think it's still possible.

This type of life as the Body will require far more humility than we can imagine and far more time and resources than the church or the culture has. We must lean into the Spirit of God and into His revealed word for us to see fruit along these corporate lines. I can't hear it enough
- He will build His church.

my very own southern baptist sermon outline on the sovereignty of God in Jonah

  1. the wind [1.4]
  2. the whale [1.17]
  3. the word [3.1-6]
  4. the weed [4.6]
  5. the worm [4.7]

Monday, December 10, 2007


Thucydides [ancient Greek historian]

"The nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."

Friday, December 7, 2007


Any time the Bible talks about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob together, it is really talking about God's covenant. Covenant, in the biblical sense, is an intimate and intentional word for relationship. It is just as much about the "who" of the covenant as it is about the covenant itself. God loves people. He loves people more than He loves the words that describe His love and relationships with people [like "covenant"]. Take Ex 32.13 and Deut 9.27 as examples.

In these texts, Moses longs for God to remember His covenant promises. But He doesn't say that exactly. He says, "Remember Abe, Isaac, and Jake." He says it like this because God is into relationships. He is into knowing people [Rom 8.29, 1 Cor 8.3, Jer 1.5, Gal 4.9, Mt 7.23] and people knowing Him [Gal 4.9, Jn 17.3]. He is not into random promises. The reason that the Bible uses such pregnant language like “covenant” is because God had to show people the gravity of their sin and need and the “breadth, length, height, and depth” of His love [Eph 3.18].

With all of this in mind, now you can read Romans 9. If you randomly pick out the hard verses, of course you won’t get it. Look at 9.6. “The word God has not failed.” This means His covenant promises stand in spite of ethnic Israel’s rebellion. Paul then mentions Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in 9.7-13. With this, the jump to theoretical fatalism or deterministic nonsense is almost impossible. Why? Because everything it says is about God’s covenant promises. This is about relationship. If it was about God damning and delivering with His eyes closed, why are there so many people’s names in chapter 9?

Here’s the deal. God loves people. And to those who are recipients of His covenant promises and His mercy, He will exert great energies [mercy in 9.15, 16, 23; compassion in 9.15; power in 9.17, 22; wrath in 9.22] in sustaining those relationships. This is His Church. This is His Body. And He does so for glory, His glory [9.23; 8.29-30].

"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion”

Seek Me that you may live [5.4].

Seek good and not evil, that you may live. Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the Lord God of hosts may be gracious to the remnant of Joseph [5.14-15].

I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sounds of your harps. But…. Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream [5.21-24].

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion [6.1].

They anoint themselves with the finest oils, yet they have not grieved over Joseph [6.6].

The Lord God has sworn by Himself, “I loathe the arrogance of Jacob, and detest his citadels; Therefore, I will deliver up the city and all it contains” [6.8].

Behold, days are coming when I will send a famine on the land; Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord [8.11].

NEVERTHELESS, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob [9.8]. In that day, I will raise up the fallen booth of David [9.11].

Thursday, December 6, 2007

JESUS in the OT

You should always have an eye for seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. Whether it be who He is or what He accomplished or some historical fact that was prophesied – “beginning with Moses and all the prophets” – He is “in all the Scriptures” [Lk 24.27]. For example,

He is the perfect high priest because His priesthood is forever [Heb 5-9]; He is the 2nd Adam, faithfully living in direct Sonship to God [Rom 5 and 1 Cor 15]; He is our glorious Boaz, faithfully redeeming us who don’t deserve it; He is the new Joshua, giving His people final rest [Heb 4]; He is the King of all kings, from Judah’s tribe and David’s line [Gen 49.10, 2 Sam 7.12-13, Rev 19.16]; etc.

This morning I was greatly helped regarding this by Mr Edwards in his “A History of the Work of Redemption.” Here, he says that....

The types of Christ were of three sorts: instituted, providential, and personal. The ordinance of sacrificing was the greatest of the instituted types; the redemption out of Egypt was the greatest of the providential; and David was the greatest of the personal ones. Hence, Christ is often called David in the prophecies of Scripture; as in Ezk 34.23-24.

He then listed some other texts. But when I sat back in my squeaky little chair, I realized that I was helped in two ways by his comments. First, those three distinctions seem like excellent parameters for Christocentric typology in the OT [without being an allegorization nut-job, of course]. Second, I started thinking deeply of David’s life. Edwards is right on target. Christ can flagrantly be seen all through David’s life in the Scriptures. David was from Jesse. He was a shepherd. He was anointed before his ministry/service [see “the Spirit” in 1 Sam 16.12-13]. He single-handedly defeated the enemy of God’s people. He was a king. He had kingdom covenant promises [2 Sam 7]. He was a warrior. And so much more.

The more I pondered and thought, the sweeter Jesus became to me. O Lord, show me Yourself in your word, in creation, in your Church, and by your Spirit. Amen.

listening to the HOLY SPiRiT

Gordon Fee is a NT scholar, commentator, and textual critic. He has written a book called “Listening to the Spirit in the Text.” Even the title is convicting to me. I mean, is it God-breathed or not [theopneustos in Gk]? I only read one chapter, but his whole approach in what I read was “to examine the interface between exegesis and spirituality” [pg 4]. Fee expresses his disappointment that the two are often thought of as unrelated. “True Spirituality must precede exegesis as well as flow from it” [pg 6], Fee explains.
I begin with a singular and passionate conviction: the proper aim of all true theology is doxology. Theology that does not begin with and end in worship is not biblical at all, but is rather the product of western philosophy. In the same way, I want to insist that the ultimate aim of all true exegesis is spirituality [pg 5].

And on being an exegete, he says that a great danger lurks here:

The danger is to become a professional [in the pejorative sense of the word]: to analyze texts and talk about God, but slowly to let the fire of passion for God run low, so that one does not spend much time talking with God [pg 7].

If the biblical text does not grip or possess one’s own soul, it will likely do very little for those who hear [pg 7].

Indeed, I don’t care much what you call it – this touch of God on your life – but have it. Because without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, all else is mere exercise – mere beating the air [pg 7].

[read pages 2-15 here for full effect]

ROMANS 5-8 and the OT

Paul’s use of the OT in Romans is thorough and intentional. It is, after all, for instruction [Rom 15.4]. I was confused when I noticed the frequency of his OT quotations through Romans:

  • chs 1-4 [about 15]
  • chs 5-8 [only 1]
  • chs 9-11 [about 25]
  • chs 12-16 [about 15]

The whole epistle flows, but there are definitive indicators [thematic, grammatical, syntactical, theological] that prove that the above chapter divisions are good to keep in mind. Why then does Paul appear to depend so heavily on the OT in most of his argument, but not so much in chapters 5-8? Don’t get me wrong, his thinking is Jewish through and through. But still, why does he not lean upon the text itself in chapters 5-8 as much as he does throughout the rest of the epistle?

The New Covenant people of God live by different redemptive realities than the Old Covenant people of God did. Messiah has come! So, for those under the New Covenant, God put His “law within them and on their heart” [Jer 31.33]. This is of course in contrast to the law being written on stone. God likewise says that He will give His people under the New Covenant a new heart and He will put His Spirit within them [Ezk 36.26-27]. The boundary God set in the OT was the Law. But in the NT, the Spirit is the guide. Perhaps the reason Paul does not quote the OT in Romans 5-8 is because he is expressing a new way to live as one who belongs to God.

You can call this having your mind set on the Spirit [8.5-6]. You can call this presenting your members to righteousness [6.13, 19]. You can call this counting yourself as dead to sin [6.11]. You can call this serving in newness of Spirit and not in oldness of letter [7.6]. You can call this sanctification [6.19, 22]. Whatever this new way of life may be called, Paul cannot look directly to the OT for an explanation of it. Maybe, just maybe, this is why OT quotes are tough to find in Rom 5-8. But if not, I’m not surprised. Just thinkin.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

clichéd atonement and particular redemption

johnny o

John Owen lived from 1616-1683. He entered Oxford at the age of 12 where he was thoroughly trained in mathematics, philosophy, Hebrew, and more. As a teenager, Owen was known to study 12 hours a day. When he later married Mary Rooke, they had 11 children and only one lived to adulthood. Thousands of people would come to hear him preach every week. He wrote hundreds of sermons, doctrinal treatises, and theological volumes. However, his greatest work is his commentary on Hebrews.

When Owen’s exposition of Hebrews was published, it was 7 volumes thick and 4,000 pages long. As you can imagine, this took him some time. One can see how sweet the epistle was to his soul by some of his final words. But first, we must recall that Hebrews closes with a reminder that our God will never leave us or forsake us [Heb 13.5]. In Greek, this is a triple negative [“He will no not never ever….”]. The force of this clearly gripped Owen. The day before his death, he wrote to a friend:

I am going to Him whom my soul has loved, or rather who has loved me with an everlasting love – which is the whole ground of my consolation…. I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm; but whilst the Great Pilot is in it the loss of a poor under-rower will be inconsiderable. Live, and pray, and hope, and wait patiently, and do not despond; the promise stands invincible, that He will never leave us or forsake us.