Friday, October 19, 2012

Donald Miller: The Truth About Powerful Personalities

HT Matt Johnson at the BHT. Johnson asks somewhat rhetorically

http://boarsheadtavern.com/2012/10/19/33777/

 Don Miller on Lance Armstrong. Does anyone not think Miller is talking about Driscoll?


Here's the link with an excerpt.  Why, no ... there can't possibly be any subtext to this one.

http://storylineblog.com/2012/10/18/the-truth-about-powerful-personalities/

... There’s really nothing wrong with power. Power is a tool. But it takes a certain kind of personality to become powerful. To be pointed, it takes the kind of personality who loves power. We tend to get what we aspire for. Power is rarely accidentally attained.

But power isn’t something God wants us to pursue. Scripture tells us to live a quiet life. Even Jesus mysteriously says He doesn’t regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. There’s a humility and even an anonymity about our faith that is quite appealing. Each of us is to try to get lower in stature than the other, to be lesser than, not greater than.

On power as sought out in a worship experience, or power as subject to an inflationary bubble of influence for which "conference Christians" could be considered a symptom, here's a little blogging blast from the past.



Guest Post at Internet Monk

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/guest-post-wth-on-there-is-neither-art-nor-pop-neither-indie-or-mainstream

Carl Trueman "There is something terribly, horribly sleazy emerging in broadly reformed and evangelical quarters ... "

http://reformation21.org/blog/2012/10/a-cloud-the-size-of-mans-hand.php

The recent events surrounding Dinesh D'Souza are surely a clarion call for all of us to examine ourselves: let him who thinks he stands, etc. etc. Yet, while the questions hanging over the matter regarding his marriage are worrying, I confess that I find equally disturbing the idea that there are Christian groups out there willing to pay Christian leaders salaries of $1,000,000 to head up Christian organisations and then fees of $10,000 and upwards for giving a single lecture. When my youngest son read the reports online, his initial reaction was not to the marriage issue but to the cash: "That's what really gets Christianity in this country a bad name." was his comment.

There is something terribly, horribly sleazy emerging in broadly reformed and evangelical quarters. As soon as your group, whether it be a conference or a coalition or a college, starts to be influenced in its choice of 'leader' or keynote speaker by the chosen one's ability to command serious media attention or simply fill that stadium, you have Corinthian Christianity and you are heading for disaster. When we are talking upper six and seven figure salaries for those involved in ostensibly Christian work, when figures like ten grand per lecture are bandied around and nobody seems to comment on it as something distasteful or downright inappropriate, we are heading into territory previously occupied by the televangelists and the prosperity hucksters. Given the fact that those with real influence seem adamant in their silence, their chummy farewells to each other and their forced public friendliness to all (except, natch, the occasional irrelevant whistleblower), I think we can expect that events of the last week - indeed, of the last year -- are only the beginning of what is to come.

At seventeen, my son seems to grasp something that has apparently been missed by so many of the great and the good.


Then there's this earlier post Trueman wrote:
http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2012/10/the-cultures-the-thing.php



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Steve at Triablogue weighs in on grounds for divorce

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/10/grounds-for-divorce.html

Piper's video dealing with how a wife might deal with an abusive husband went viral enough that Steve has, at length, decided to address the topic of grounds for divorce contra Piper's lines of argument.  It's a pretty short blog post considering it was written by Steve, and is worth reading. 

As a teaser to perhaps inspire you to read the rest, dear reader, here's a short snippet at the end that may inspire you to read Steve's much lengthier preliminary discussion of application:

xiii) In application to the specific issue at hand:

a) Domestic violence is a travesty of what marriage represents, in terms of companionship as well as the emblematic significance of marriage (i.e. to illustrate God’s devotion to the redeemed). It’s the antithesis of how marriage is supposed to function (e.g. Eph 5:22-33).

b) Breach of covenant can nullify a covenant if one party fails to honor the terms of the covenant. And this isn’t the case of a spouse who makes a good faith effort, but falls short due to sin. Rather, this is acting in bad faith.

c) There is also an argument from analogy. A battered slave could be manumitted (Exod 21:20-21). A fortiori, a battered wife can divorce her husband. What’s true in the lesser case of a slave is true in the greater case of a wife, for a wife has greater rights than a slave.
 
There's more but I threw in the conclusion in the hopes of inspiring you to read how Steve builds up to this excerpt.  It's pretty short for him, as noted earlier. :)

Orthocuban: Modern ideas of wisdom

http://www.orthocuban.com/2012/10/modern-ideas-of-wisdom/

In other words what passes for wisdom in the form of self-help books. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sovereign Grace Ministries pastors and church officials subject to lawsuit

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_REL_CHURCH_SEX_ABUSE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=163090194

http://www.journalreview.com/news/church/article_660274ab-07c6-50ec-bc18-84b3ce12e549.html

While the ministry/church network would be implicated by reputation and association the institution itself is not mentioned as being the defendent in the suit. 

The Associated Press broke this story recently and it's made the rounds. 

Mars Hill Church and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability

http://www.ecfa.org/ComparativeFinancialData.aspx?ID=32663&Type=Member

We know some folks who were asking years ago why this hadn't happened before. 

Well, it's been years since those folks were still attending MH but for those who didn't already spot this, MH has submitted numbers to the ECFA. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Allusions and reappropriations of themes in Isaiah 64 in NT passages

Bear with me, as I'm not one of those professional scholars here but these literary and thematic parallels intrigued me recently. Maybe it's just me noticing them--it's obvious in 1 Corinthians 2 but it of late seems equally obvious, though less direct, in 1 John 1, or at least it seems that way to me.

Isaiah 64:1-4

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze
    and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
    and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
    you came down, and the mountains trembled before you
Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

John 1:1-13
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Matthew 27: 51-53
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.  The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

1 Corinthians 2:6-16
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  However, as it is written:

“No eye has seen,
    no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
    what God has prepared for those who love him”

but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:

“For who has known the mind of the Lord
    that he may instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.

1 John 1:1-4
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We write this to make our joy complete.


And another one from Christian Brady: Why did Mahlon and Chilion die?

http://targuman.org/blog/2012/08/19/why-did-mahlon-and-chilion-die/

This one is fun because Brady discusses the interpretive problem of how Boaz marrying Ruth was not violating the prohibition in the Torah against a Moabite entering the assembly.  One Jewish commentary held that Mahlon and Chilion died for marrying Moabite women against the prohibitions in the Torah.  This interpretation never caught on because it immediately raised the question of why Boaz wasn't judged by God for marrying Ruth. 

A more pallatable explanation besides the simple contradiction narrative was to note that Boaz was a descendent of Rahab, an Ammorite, and so he was not purely of Israelite stock to begin with.  Now that may not seem too appealing to people who don't think quite so highly of ethnic or regional purity of family lines but, hey, technically it works.  It also explains why Boaz wasn't considered as bad as those Israelite men who married Moabite women that Nehemiah got furious about in Nehemiah 13.

Another one from Christian Brady, Wikipedia won't let an author correct his own Wikipedia page as a matter of policy

http://targuman.org/blog/2012/09/11/wikipedia-again-avoids-facts-by-policy/

I keep advising against the use of Wikipedia for anything controversial (i.e. controversies that matter, as opposed to whether or not Captain America could beat Wolverine in a fight). This is another reason.  Even if we factor in bias primary sources beat secondary sources most of the time unless the primary sources can be proven beyond all doubt to be fraudulent.  That's a basic point about doing the best research you can.  If you're looking up wiki-anything it's like Megatron trusting Starscream.  Sure, technically you could do it and not have some plot against your life but you better not gamble ono the idea that he'll never let you down. :) Letting Megatron down is practically Starscream's destiny.

Intellectual evangelicalism and credo-baptism. Christian Brady throws out an idea

http://targuman.org/blog/2012/10/10/intellectual-evangelicalism/

First, the blog post. Robin was commenting that he (judging by the banner pictures that are all of men) grew up in a credo-baptist tradition1, but has come to believe that rather than being “the Bible way” is, in fact, “sub-Biblical.” I want to say right away, I love that term and I intend to use it. His point is a great one.
The problem is that much evangelical theology simply makes baptism unnecessary (and this applies to many evangelicals in paedo-baptist traditions too — evangelical Anglicans, for instance, are so terrified of baptismal regeneration that they often water down NT theology too). We do it because Jesus told us to but for many of us, in our heart of hearts, we consider it an optional extra. After all, the important stuff is repentance and faith and while baptism offers testimony to God’s work in our lives we hardly need to get batised to do that.
I confess I see myself in that paragraph and I accept the critique. One of the great things of my becoming an Anglican was realizing/discovering the “mystery” of faith. The term “mystery” here is used not in the Holmesian sense, there is nothing to be uncovered and explained, but rather in the historical and theological sense of something that is known only through revelation.

There's a bit more to read at your leisure if you're inclined.  It invites a question as to what the real significance of baptism is if it consider to be a symbol of a rebirth that has already taken place.  It's not that I can't appreciate or understand that line of argument but in another way it would seem to obviate the need for baptism on any other grounds than to make a theological case of "Well, Jesus said to do it so even though we deny that there is any inherent efficacy in the action itself we gotta do it because Jesus said to and we'll come up with an explanation for it as we go." 

The Elephant's Debt and recent developments

http://theelephantsdebt.com/2012/10/16/recent-developments-16-october-2012/#more-989

... Over the past few days, several well-meaning individuals have argued that this site has not included all of the relevant “facts” pertaining to the debt. While we do not believe this to be an accurate assessment of the situation, we offer the following information as means of a explaining why we parsed the data in the way that we did.

As we presently understand it, HBC is estimated to have nearly $150 million in material assets, including real estate and other goods. If one subtracts the debt of roughly $65 million (2010 levels), HBC still has a positive balance sheet of approximately $85 million dollars.[1] On these grounds, some have argued that HBC is not technically in debt. Here is why this discussion was not included in the original publication.

First, these material assets are what we call “hard” assets. In other words, they are not “liquid,” which means Harvest is not sitting on a large cash reserve from which it can service its debt. The debt, however, must be immediately serviced, and it must be paid off in due course.
Secondly, the value of Harvest’s material assets is entirely theoretical. It only becomes actualized when the church sells the property. So, in theory, if they sold enough of their real estate, Harvest could pay off the existing debt. But this move would most likely require the church to close more than one of its existing campuses, which in turn would most likely lead to a downward turn in weekly attendance, and thus, weekly giving.

Thirdly, there is no present guarantee that the asset value can be realized because the value of a property is only worth what an actual buyer will pay. At present, Harvest’s balance sheet only reflects an accounts fair market value estimate. In other words, the balance sheet represents what the bank believes to be fair market value. But in this economy, there is no guarantee that Harvest would be able to find a buyer willing to pay that price. Moreover, the most valuable asset owned by Harvest is the TV station in Aurora. To sell that property, one would have to find a suitable buyer. Needless to say, the market for selling a TV studio is very limited, and in this economy the prospects are even worse.

Finally, and most significantly, several of these assets, including the TV studio, were obtained well after MacDonald had accumulated the original debt. So to suggest that our argument is flawed based upon the current, theoretical value of these unsold properties is somewhat foolish. When MacDonald was making these decisions, he had no way of knowing what the future would hold. So to say that all is now well and good because the numbers “turned out okay” is to unreasonably remove the moral responsibility from the man who, in our opinion, was making reckless financial decisions.

Anyone who has read blogs dealing with public criticism or inquiry into decisions at institutions will have noticed by now that Christians as a group can often play the Matthew 18 card to suggest that public inquiry into "private" matters is best avoided.  Most Christians commenting on blogs have probably not spent a lot of time looking into theories of the press, the nature of mass media or broadcast media, and have therefore not thought through the implications of what they're actually getting at by "private". 

So we can get a situation where one megachurch pastor denounces the theology of another (such as Driscoll denouncing Joel Osteen from the pulpit or William Young's book The Shack).  Fans of Osteen and Young step in to say that Driscoll should have contacted Osteen or Young privately with criticism and to not be so rough on men who have a successful thing going that God has used to bless people.  The defense of the Driscoll criticism would be to say that Driscoll is defending sound doctrine.  When the shoe is on the other foot and people cast doubt on whether Driscoll has conflated common grace with particular atonement and whether or not Driscoll's credentials as at least a nominally Reformed theologian come up, let alone questions about Driscoll's demonstrable competence as an exegete or if people ask questions or raise criticisms about Driscoll and Mars Hill in connection to firings or discipline, then Matthew 18 gets brought out again, only this time where it was ignored as having any relevance to Driscoll on Osteen or Young it suddenly becomes very germane to a criticism of Driscoll's failures as a pastor, scholar, or exegete.  Suddenly the argument that you can't argue with success matters a whole lot more than it did for a Joel Osteen or a William Young. 

The problem that arises in these sorts of situations is that since all these guys became public figures criticism is both possible and warranted.  Reactions of fans can often fall into the realm of two errors, the first would be special pleading and the second related error would be a double standard.  Matthew 18 is what I get to use to tell you that you don't get to criticize my favorite celebrity while a double standard permits me to establish that, somehow, my favorite celebrity doesn't qualify for coming under the same criticism because the criteria are actually different. 

Now those who can explain that the criteria are actually different would have a point--if the criteria are indeed different. For instance, when Driscoll criticized the theology of The Shack this could have been perfectly legitimate if the express literary aim of the novel was to function as a catechism, but this was not necessarily the case.  Driscoll then turning around and urging that no one pass final judgment on Jakes until Driscoll had gotten on a plane for Jesus this became a different set of criteria on assessing a public figure on a point of doctrine in a case where the differences would indicate that the pastor ought to be held to a substantially higher level of criticism and examination than a self-published author who has not been a megachurch pastor. 

Now something that commonly happens when a blog like The Elephant's Debt goes up is that people dispute the legitimacy of such a site on a couple of grounds, grounds that the creators of the site adequately address themselves in their specific case. 

At a broader level a few words may be said about sites like The Elephant's Debt generally.  The first thing to be said is that what people can be inspired to say is "You're not getting the whole story here.  There are two sides to every story".  Well, no, there could be up to fifteen sides to a story and not just two and in cases of this sort there has been some effort to see to it that there is no story at all where the public is concerned.  Critics of critics may want to ask themselves whether they simply have a different set of standards for churches than they have for politicians, political parties, and the level of discretion and disclosure required for one form of non-profit entity over another. 

The second thing to be noticed is that "We are all sinners" gets trotted out in most cases as a way to delegitimize criticism.  Well, if we're all sinners then there's no point in skipping public discussion or debate because nobody has the moral high ground.  Obviously this is almost never what those who employ this particular line of reasoning are even trying to get at, usually the opposite.  The sinner commenting on how we are all sinners doesn't want his being a sinner to preclude him (not always a him, of course) from saying that other people are sinners and should not be so quick to judge. 

A problem that can show up with this rhetorical path is that it is, well, a rhetorical path.  Evidence and claims are not necessarily up for consideration.  A broad-brush rhetorical flourish casting doubt on the provenance and credibility of a set of controversial claims skips past verification and goes into the realm of character assessment, and often character assasination.  It becomes perilously easy to impute motives for people and schools of thought.  Contrary to the bromides of pious Christians on the internet "both sides" are likely to drop the ball at this point. Critics are apt to presume a level of guilt and malice that can be impossible to prove while defenders are apt to presume a level of altruism and honesty that strains credulity well past the breaking point in some cases.  This becomes more acute when the defenders roll out the "we're all sinners" objection because if they took that seriously (at all) it would mean they would have to concede that their pet subject of defense is not always as competent or well-meaning as they could be and they sin.

The most pervasive shortcoming Christians on all sides can have is to make a distinction in which all sin must be volitional and intentional.  There's simply nowhere in the scripture that says that a sin is something you did on purpose.  The Psalmist asks the Lord to clear him of hidden faults.  In the Torah there were provisions for sin offerings for inadvertant sin.  Too much online discourse presumes, wrongly, that if people are sinning they must know they are sinning.  This is one of the key reasons that public discussion of things some Christians want "private" for the sake of preserving the reputation of their favorite Christian celebrities needs to happen, both for the sake of "critics" and of "fans".  There's no concession that despite the assumption of good intentions that things can still go bad.  You have to be innocent because you don't think of sinning and don't want to sin, or you have to be guilty of knowingly defying whatever good and proper conduct and thought are.  Thanks to the internet we live even more in a time when people prefer conspiracy to imcompetence as an explanation for everything.  Let's attempt to revive the consideration of imcompetence for the sake of a humbler and more generous public discourse, shall we?

Now, of course, defenders of pet religious favorites will find this unacceptable because the last thing we want to concede is that our favorite Christian celebrity or brand could be mired in imcompetence or drop the ball in expensive and life-changingly bad ways.  It doesn't us make us feel much better to hear that our favorites may have been imcompetent than if we hear claims that they have done actual, willful wrong.  But we're all sinners, right?  It is at precisely this point the argument used to speak against public discussion most boomerangs on itself. 

We need to recognize for ourselves and others that some of our most disastrous mistakes seemed like good ideas at the time.  David took a census that led to the deaths of thousands and the books of Samuel and Chronicles tell us alternately that God prompted David to do this because He was angry with His people and that Satan inspired David to take a census. To go by the sentiments of Christians reacting to "critical" blogs it sometimes seems as though what they would want to say about David is "Well, we're all sinners here and David was God's annointed and so it wouldn't have been wise to question God's appointed leader about the wisdom of the census because maybe God was telling David to take the census."  Okay ... well, consider that the Bible shows God making leaders make terrible decisions as the basis for catalyzing the deaths of thousands of people.  It's in there.  If God did it with David who could be said to have had a role of "wrote books of the Bible" how much more could it be true of some favorite Christian celebrity now? 

Let's suppose that critics of critics are right about something, that the other side of a story has not been told.  How often do critics of critics actually share that other side?  It seems unfortunately common that the "other side" is merely a rhetorical device used to cast doubt on "the one who speaks first".  A proverb is brought out as a prooftext rather than as an exhortation to actual wisdom.  The first person to speak seems right until the cross-examination, yes, but that is not an excuse to avoid cross-examination and it is the cross-examination that too often never gets thought about.  The proverb is misused as a way to suppress further discussion or investigation or disclosure. 

This is an election year in the United States.  Do Christians who would say we should not investigate the reliability of claims made by self-selected leaders of churches say the same about political candidates?  That doesn't seem likely.  When it comes to policy decisions will a Christian say, "Well, we're all sinners here so we shouldn't contest this or that politician's political track record" will they? 

It's something to at least keep in mind when you come across Christians saying that this or that blog shouldn't even exist and that this or that thing should have been dealt with "in private". If they're willing to say the same thing about their politicians then, well, they're consistent.  If being a pastor is a lower calling than being a politician then perhaps we could say that this could justify a lower level of accountability. ;-)

Monday, October 15, 2012

HT Jim West: A Very Damning Truth: Walter Grundmann, Adolf Schlatter, and Susannah Heschel’s The Aryan Jesus*

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=8633104&jid=HTR&volumeId=105&issueId=03&aid=8633103&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0017816012000119

As I have written a bit earlier, one of the ironies of Schlatter's observation that our own share in evil is not removed by our condemnation of evil in others is that Schlatter laid a foundation for views about Judaism that, at best, were profoundly problematic. 

As useful as Schlatter's commentary on Romans can be his views on Judaism (like that of a variety of pre-Holocaust Christians across time and place) are not without some troubles.  While a significant advantage in reading commentaries and study of biblical texts across eras and regions has the advantage of widening our understanding of texts it brings with it a risk that we will bring with those the insularity or problematic limitations of each time and place.  To put it in broadly evangelical terms, all interpreters will be fallible regarding biblical texts so that there will be some problem in each generation no matter what good may come of an overall understanding of Christian teaching. 

In Reformed blogging there's debate between advocates of two kingdom this and unified that but both approaches could be very easily appropriated in a direction that could justify tyranny.  We cannot imagine that, as Carl Trueman recently expressed this sentiment, that if we get all the doctrinal ducks in a row that the culture we have isn't capable of cultishness or tyranny. 

A rather too swift summary of the above article is that Schlatter's distaste for a variety of things in National Socialism did not preclude an anti-Judaic theology that was able to contribute to anti-Semitic views and actions. 

My own convictions have been to take a skeptical view of any nationalist loyalty or ethnic loyalty as such. Boasting in one's race or heritage should not be the basis of an actually Christian practice. The reformation or rejuvenation of a national or ethnic or social legacy should not necessarily be a goal of Christian study, piety, or practice. After decades of observing how people in the United States have been interested in "revival" the aims of "revival" are often, at the end, too bluntly nationalistic or economic to find much confidence in even wanting "revival".

When you spend a good chunk of your life ignoring American Christians who attempt to revive this or that social or political agenda in the process of seeking to understand biblical texts then it's not a huge step to, say, read some of Schlatter's commentary on biblical texts and to also set off to the side a few things that were of his time.  Our own era must have its own appropriations and assimilations that a century from now may be seen as rabid and rampant advocacy disguised as dispassionate scholarship.  The more we learn about the way the human brain works and how we argue with each other the more it seems to be that much of what passes for "reason" can be a faulty intuition that retroactively seeks a rationale.

In terms of a New Perspective on Paul one of the biggest implications of saying that late medieval scholastics misconstrued and misrepresented Judaism is not hard to grasp in a post-Holocaust world, it's impossible to soft-pedal the harm of a "works righteousness" theology in how that theology became an ideology with social, racial and political implications.  This is not necessarilly to say (as I suppose some have already) that a traditional Reformation era understanding of the Law and Gospel must necessarily be anti-Semitic but at another level the question (raised by Jewish thinkers and Christians alike) about how far the diatribe against Judaism really goes in early Christian writings won't go away, not least because even if we can establish that the earliest Christians were not anti-Semitic in the fashion in which National Socialists became notorious the seeds did all seem to be there.

Some scholars might go so far as to say the entire realm of justification theory itself becomes the problem, a bad theology which has been imposed upon the entirety of the Pauline corpus but we're not here to attempt to get into that whole field of dicussion just yet. 

Mockingbird: three responses to conflict

http://www.mbird.com/2012/10/the-3-responses-to-conflict-fight-flight-and-appeasement/
Mockingbird links to a David Brooks piece that discusses a theory by psychologist Karen Horney.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/opinion/brooks-the-personality-problem.html?ref=davidbrooks&_r=2

More than most of her male counterparts, Horney felt that people were driven by anxiety and the desire for security. People who have been seriously damaged, she argued, tend to react in one of three ways.

Some people respond to their wounds by moving against others. These domineering types seek to establish security by conquering and outperforming other people. They deny their own weaknesses. They are rarely plagued by self-doubt. They fear dependence and helplessness. They use their children and spouses as tools to win prestige for themselves.
      
These people are often excessively proud of their street smarts. They deeply resent criticism and seek the vindictive triumph — the reversal of fortunes in which they can lord their excellence over those who scorned them. These people can’t face their need for affection, so they seek to cover it by earning admiration and deference.
 
For this sort of person, the Fighter, vulnerability has to be dealt with by ensuring that others are taken down a few pegs.  A fighter may be perfectly aware of his or her own weakness and dependence but the main thing may to be minimize how many people know about or may be able to exploit such weakness.  For those who may have heard of research done on the "badass" you may have read that the stance of the badass is bolstered by the appearance of being able to take down anyone in a fight through sheer crazy/brutal fighting so that the badass doesn't actually have to fight most of the time and can coast along on reputation alone.  The badass doesn't have to win every fight, just the ones that ensure that he (usually) or she wins the publicly visible fights that help bolster his or her street cred. 
 
This stance could be embraced even by those who are plagued by self-doubt.  Far be it from a badass to let you know that he or she is actually at to feel weak.  As adaptive strategies go a person would be no more a "pure" Fighter, it seems, than a person would be a "pure" extravert or intravert.
 
Other people respond to anxiety by moving toward others. These dependent types try to win people’s affections by being compliant. They avoid conflict. They become absorbed by their relationships, surrendering their individual opinions. They regard everyone else as essentially good, even people who have been cruel.
      
They praise themselves for their long-suffering forbearance, their willingness to live for others, even though in reality they are just too scared to assert themselves. They think they are behaving selflessly, but they are really using others for whatever drips of affection they can provide.
 
Perhaps here would be the place to mention the paradoxical possibility of a selfishness that can lay dormant underneath altruism.  Remorselessly nerdy moment here, this would be Lex Luthor's rebuke to Superman.  Saving other people will not make those people actually like Superman more, it means that Superman merely depends too much on the approval of others.  Nerd digression ended.
 
Other people move away from others. These detached types try to isolate themselves and adopt an onlooker’s attitude toward life. As Terry D. Cooper summarizes the category in his book, “Sin, Pride and Self-Acceptance,” “To guarantee peace, it is necessary to leave the battleground of interpersonal relationships, where there is constant threat of being captured.”
      
These detached people may put on a charming veneer to keep people away. They tamp down desire, avoid ambition and minimize conflict and risk. They want to avoid the feeling of needing someone. They seek to live tranquilly in the moment.
 
If a Fighter were to live with a person who Flees emotionally that could end up being a miserable existence, couldn't it?  Brooks has a little to add past these three summaries of reactive styles and it's simple enough to notice that each reactive style can be quite damaging and maladaptive. 
 
Now if this were a standard issue pious Calvinist blog perhaps here would be the part where you get asked to consider which maladaptive coping approach is yours.  Because, after all, you've got to have something wrong with you, right?  And, to be sure, you very likely do (as do I).  But what makes this not quite a standard issue pious Calvinist blog is we're not going to lock you into the assumption that you absolutely must have one of these three tendencies and that it is only ever maladaptive.  It "could" be but notice that framing Horney's approach is informed by maladaptive reactions to trauma.  It's possible to use wisdom to correctly select and calibrate fight, flight, or appeasement for a given situation. 
 
The problem with what some blogging acquaintences might call a "Calvinista" approach is the presupposition that you have to have a maladaptive approach and that anything you might pick that could be a potentially healthy response in a given situation A may be translated into an unhealthy approach for all categories.  The kind of teacher who might take this approach will simply presuppose that you may be fearful or lazy in one setting without conceding that there are other responses that are possible.  Not everyone will be fearful or lazy in equal measure in equal settings.  A workaholic may not be lazy in work and earning money but the workaholic may be lazy about non-work relationships.  A person who invests a great deal of energy in family relationships may be lazy about engaging fellow professionals. There may be plenty of people who manage to find a more or less healthy if imperfect balance between work and ordinary social life for whom this whole range of categories is not entirely appropriate. 
 
The difference between a lazy mass-categorization matrix and the use of insights into the human mind could come down to this, one seeks to assess all people and relationships through a grid to determine the utility of the relationship and the value of the person.  The other takes the knowledge of temperaments, adaptive methodologies and the like and may employ them to better understand and reinforce existing relationships and establish new ones.  Needless to say a person may display both approaches within a life but when the former approach predominates we are probably not dealing with a person who is dealing with relationships with people quite as much as they may be attempting to deal with people in a system of precepts and evaluational grids. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Old Life: How Silly Do Protestants Sound When Pining for Christendom?

http://oldlife.org/2012/10/how-silly-do-protestants-sound-when-pining-for-christendom/

Hart, again it seems, takes a measure of amusement at Doug Wilson's pining for Christendom and lays out a case for why Christendom is more conceptually the property of Roman Catholics and how Wilson has to define his Christendom down a bit to make it semi-pallatable to some fellow Protestants.

Whether it's "Jihad if you Do, Holy War if You Don't" or the more recent humor at the expense, it seems, of Wilsonian conceptions of Christendom Hart manages to be at least interesting and amusing.  It doesn't seem unfair for Wilson to be on the receiving end of at least a little of some of his medicine.  Soft words make hard people and hard words make soft people and all that.  Saying that Wilson's ideas about Christendom are loopy and absurd might be just what a doctor ordered. ;-)

D. G. Hart on the Puritans, defenses and attacks, and perfectionist polemics

http://oldlife.org/2012/10/will-piper-carson-and-keller-alone-be-left-standing-or-why-dont-rappers-rap-about-native-americans/

In a blogging moment that comes across as "I can't believe I'm about to do this ... ." D. G. Hart points out that criticizing the Puritans is fine and that a defense of them independent of their acceptance of slavery is possible but that the "one strike and you're out, scorched earth" policy warranted direct address. 

Hart winds up to a point that others have tried to make but have made too indirectly and too lamely.  Yet Hart makes this point as someone who is not all that thrilled with the Puritans as a group. 

... In other words, inherent in the anti-slavery position is not a form of genuine Christian reflection but one of perfectionism. This is a one-strike and you’re out scorched earth policy, with certain sins achieving red-letter status. If you break those, we’ll never hear from you again. This has happened with the American founders, slaveholders and chauvinists that they were, among large sectors of the academy. ...

Perhaps the best way out of this dilemma is to toughen up. After all, how happy were the early Christians hearing the apostle Paul quoted in their worship services? Wasn’t he the guy who helped kill Christians? In fact, if we apply our standards of social justice all the way through the past, we will have to close the good book altogether. The reason is that none of the Bible’s saints could withstand our moral rectitude.

Some folks attempting to defend that the Puritans can be seen as something more than just despotic evil at a certain blog seemed to be trying for this qualified defense but didn't articulate it.