Friday, January 11, 2008

book arrived in the mail

Yeah, I know, big deal. Crazy for God just arrived in the mail for me this week and it's on the queue (sic) of books to get to. I still have Bauckham's book to tackle about the gospels as based on eyewitness testimony which sounds interesting but it's Bauckham so it's not the more literary of styles. I'm feeling like I need to return to fiction. Fiction engages a different part of the mind and heart than non-fiction does and it just seems I've been overdue for that for some years.

But Crazy for God is on the list of things to get to. I've been reading the forward and Schaeffer obviously regrets having what he felt was too formative and influential a hand in the development of the Christian right. He's obviously not agnostic or atheist or he would have made THAT clear. But he's obviously what a lot of politically conservative evangelical Christians would consider apostate. I've had enough friends who are theologically conservative but politically liberal over the years (i.e. Lutherans, a Catholic or two, et al. give or take the standard dividing issues that every Calvinist seems to feel are dividers) and I have no problem with someone being a Christian who is opposed to the current war. I'm apathetic about the current war because I tend to be more old school in my approach to conservative politics and foreign policy. I wasn't sure about the grounds but I thought Hussein should have been deposed at the end of the first Gulf War so it's hard to muster enthusiasm either way. I don't think there have been very fair handling of the soldiers' lives in the present outing but I admit that's a purely personal sentiment.

Since Schaeffer is so vehemently and publicly against the war and has said the current persident is on an illegal and idiotic misadventure costing the lives of servicemen and putting his own children in harm's way (one of his sons is in the service) I have a feeling that as with anyone opposed to the war there's going to be some fiery rhetoric somewhere in the book.

I have read folks say the book is problematic, for those who feel Schaeffer sr has been dishonored by it. Well, I have to admit I'm still curious. Schaefffer has been appropriated like a saint in evangelical circles and while Schaeffer had good points no saint really helps you become a better person if they're dead and you haven't met them, not in the sense of them being active to help you. On the other hand, reflecting on the life of a saint can help you focus on aspects of your own walk with the Lord. I have been of the mind that Protestants venerate saints the same way Catholics or Orthodox do but trick themselves into thinking that they aren't being idolators because they don't do it the same way. But my hunch is that when I get done with Crazy for God I may be a step closer to discovering that evangelicals can have the same problems with veneration of saints they claim Catholics have.

Since I've dug into the shifting exegetical and interpretive issues of the epistle of Jude I have been aware that Christians embrace traditions that are held to be sacred without recognizing that these traditions are a bit more, um, flexible than anyone is comfortable admitting. Where some lock down and attempt to say that this or that tradition is the authoritative tradition I notice that some things that date from the apostolic time, like the assumption of angelic human hybrids in Jude and the citation of 1 Enoch, others hold that that view is not to be held.

Others decide that with this apperance of shifting sands of Christian tradition to throw the baby out with the bathwater and embrace rationalism, atheism, or some other religious alternative.

I have wondered over the years if the problem for us is that we serve a living Lord and a living Lord is a moving target. The traditions that surround him can point to Him but are not themselves Him. Eugene Peterson's invocation of the dead bark of the tree that protects the living plant may be useful if reapplied. The bark of tradition itself may be dead but it can still point to the living Christ and it can do this regardless of which tradition is invoked. His kingdom is not of this world and if before His coming His kingdom was divided and splintered because His people were disobedient and idolators then it would stand to reason that what happened among sinful creatures before His coming could happen after His ascent upon rising from the dead.

And in the same way the tribes of Israel dispute who has the real claim to true worship of Yahweh while all sides reveal their being of His people and of being corrupted by sin. Fortunately we have the hope that Christ Himself will return, as His first coming was promised.

So, uh, that's my ponderings of late.

Man, I have so many books to catch up on it's embarrssing. I should spend less time on-line and more time with my nose in a book, huh? Not as though you few people who read this blog see much of me here, eh?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

reasons it's good to not simultaneously be Christian, conservative, AND a Jack van Impe style dispensationalist

This would necessarily be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't because if he fails it was a fool's errand and a pipe dream but if he succeeds he's the Antichrist. As an amillenial partial preterist I've got no reason to suppose this dichotomy is even real but it's practically real if Christians voted for Bush and also believe that anyone who successfully brokers a peace deal between the Arabs and Israel is the Antichrist. On that score Bush has been promising to be the Antichrist since the start of his first term, more or less.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

David and the census

2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 are interesting passages for providing different insights into the same event. Samuel reveals that God's anger was kindled against Israel and that He punished them by inciting David to take a census. The Chronicler reveals that Satan incited David to take a census. It is interesting that Gad is the seer of the king at this point when Nathan had done so much but that is another topic for another time.

What interests me is that God allows David to make a decision that brings catastrophe on His people. In fact God is the one who incites it in Samuel and yet it is the agent Satan, the accuser, who incites it in Chronicles. In the way of redaction criticism this explanation is simple, the Chronicler did not want to credit God with planning destruction for Israel in His anger. But in any case since both accounts cover the same waterfront I find it interesting that a leader is used as the means through which God's people are punished when God wills Satan to put a stupid idea into the leader's head.

Joab, normally anything but a paragon of righteousness, points out in advice "Hey, dude, this is a lame idea." David still does it and it is David who has to repent in order that the people of Israel might be spared. Interesting. We are not told why God visited this kind of mayhem on the people of Israel, are we? We're just told that God was angry at His people and apparently a great way to punish His people when He is angry with them is to make their leaders do amazingly stupid things. I suspect every variation of the Church has been subject to this at some point. Apparently what appeases God's wrath against His people is for his appointed leaders of said people to admit they're idiots who have sinned against the Lord and brought disgrace, death, and mayhem on His people. What is interesting is that God Himself ordains the leader to get this idea and to execute the idea against the better judgment of his closest advisors. Now that's interesting, I don't really know why, but it's interesting. How it could be applied in any way in a modern setting I don't presume to say, it just seems interesting to me.

Of course some of this is that it's close to bed time, really, and I'd need more time to consider the passage.