Archive for June, 2007
As anyone who knows me or reads my blog regularly will realize, I am quite fond of atonement theology. Besides the numerous posts that I have made concerning it, I have also done a significant amount of study–both personal and academic–in relation to this matter of Christian theology. As the parties aforementioned will also realize, I am a supreme antagonist of penal conceptions of atonement, i.e., those atonement theologies which primally locate and ultimately terminate both the problem and solution of atonement exclusively within the psychology of God concerning human sinfulness.
Those who would disagree with me on this assessment often point to what they perceive to be "clearly" penal language in the Pauline corpus of Scripture, arguing that Paul (or the writers of the more broadly labeled collection and theological method) is my most definitive theological antagonist. While I can certainly understand why these individuals would arrive at such conclusions given their starting presuppositions, I now simply wish to share some reflections which I have concerning a very interesting portion of Ephesians which I feel call into question the legitimacy of characterizing the Pauline understanding of atonement as "penal."
The main text which I wish to reflect upon in is chapter More >
At church yesterday, my worship leader spoke about the nature of being a disciple, focusing especially on the fact that to be a disciple of Christ is to be vitally connected to the people of God–the community of believers. On the whole it was an excellent discussion and he brought up some very apropos points about how the identity of a follower of Christ is indellibly marked by the community of believers to which the believer is joined through Christ. This message stirred my thinking quite a bit, so I would like to note some very brief observations about the nature of ecclesia and what it means to be a part of the church.
First of all, to be a part of the community of believers is synonymous with participating in the salvation of God. Stated another way, God's salvation is uniquely manifested in the church. While this might seem strange to the modern, individuated mind that has been conditioned to understand salvation in atomistic, forensic terms, it is really not a shocking thing when understood in the grander stroke of salvation history. As salvation is realized not through the juridical pardon of punishment for sins, but rather in the reconciliation More >
Many may not know this, but I started this blog as a learning experience. I currently work as a Coldfusion developer at a web design company in Lexington, Kentucky, and this blog was my first real adventure in application programming.
Over the last year, I have learned alot, and shudder most times when I look “under the hood” of this beast.
Anyway, here’s some updates: I have added a “remember me” button that will allow users to login automatically when visiting the site. No more annoying logging in just to leave a comment (believe me, no one is more annoyed at that than me…). I have also gotten rid of the comment pop-up window and have decided to place the comments immediately below the relevant, highlighted post.
Moreover, I have placed more than one post on the “home” page. Under the original format, I was hesitant to post short topics simply because I did not want the longer, more developed ones to get lost in the archives. This new way should allow the visitor to quickly browse several of the most recent posts in one fell swoop, and will make me feel better about posting short, random posts about whatever.
Now for the goof: More >
This may have been out for a while, but I recently ran across it: "The New Defender's Study Bible: Understanding the Critical Issues of Faith from a Literal Creationist Viewpoint".
My initial reaction was laughter at such absurdity. After all, here is someone going to the trouble of writing an entire study Bible for the express purpose of promoting a 21st century conception of Creationism. However, as I thought about it, I quickly became quite disturbed. Consider the tagline that is included on the advertisements for this Study Bible:
Now the most complete and uncompromising study Bible defending the scientific accuracy of Scripture has been enlarged from 1,620 pages to 2,202 pages. With larger, easier to read type and 50% more commentary, this is the finest study Bible available.
I want to make sure anybody didn't miss that. First, this is "the finest study Bible available." Forget a study Bible that would train one in the historic orthodoxy of the Church; don't bother with a study Bible that would instruct one in the call to ethical formation. No, finally the finest study Bible available has arisen from the masses of others, and deals with the most important issue possible: Creationism.
But what is More >
A few weeks ago, I posted a discussion concerning the limitations of Penal Substitutionary Atonement theology, arguing that this theological perspective ultimately fails to attain to a philosophically meaningful conception of atonement in that, on the basis of its very methodology, it neglects to answer the primal question of atonement, e.g., that which occurs within humanity that humanity might be reconciled to God. This week, I simply wish to share a few brief thoughts about a very related concept: Limited Atonement.
One of the major impetuses for Limited Atonement, admittedly, is guarding against the danger of universalism. That is, how does one approach the discussion of the benefits and efficacy of Christ's atonement without devolving into unorthodox beliefs concerning the ultimate and unqualified reconciliation of all things to God in the eschaton? In many ways, Limited Atonement theology bypasses this crisis by arguing for a very strict and "limited" range of the efficacy of atonement; that is, Christ's atonement is only directed towards and efficacious on behalf of those for whom Christ dies. Within the complex of Limited Atonement theology, "those for whom Christ died" is understood as those who have been eternally ordained for salvation based exclusively upon the fiat More >
In my previous post, I briefly discussed some problems which I believe to be inherent to popular conceptions of the miraculous. As outlined, this understanding is based upon the correlation of the miraculous to human ignorance, e.g., that which is miraculous is that which is beyond the [current] knowledge of human persons. The crux of my discussion, then, was that such an understanding of the miraculous is ultimately destructive, for as human knowledge increases, so will that which can be categorized as "miraculous" decrease proporitionally.
One of the examples which I used to illustrate this point was that of the controversy within many strands of religious thought concerning the seeming incongruence of evolutionary theory and biblical interpretation. Interestingly enough, as I was preparing for this follow-up post, I ran across an article describing the opening of a brand new "Creationism Museum" right here in Kentucky. The brainchild of the infamous Answers in Genesis Project, "Creationism Museum" exists purely to show that "science actually confirms biblical history."
Now of course, this post is not specifically made for the purpose of defining "biblical history," or of addressing the nature of modernistic conceptions of historicity and its self-justified equation of "truth" with the same. However, this More >
My church just concluded a sermon series on the subject of miracles. On the whole, it was an interesting series and some good points were made. However, there was one particular part of the series that especially intrigued me, that being the definition of "miracle." To explain the concept, the speaker appealed to a Grahamian definition which is (roughly) as follows:
"A miracle is an event which occurs in space/time which can not be explained on the basis of knowledge concerning the laws and processes of the natural universe"
Thumbing through my desktop Oxford, the technical definition is not meaningfully different:
"An effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause."
At first glance, this definition of the miraculous seems quite sensical; after all, there is plenty of naturalistic phenomenon which cannot be explained on the basis of current knowledge of the physical universe. Is it not convenient, then, to be able to locate these phenomenon within a helpfully organizing philological (and perhaps metaphysical?) category? While such a linguistic grouping might be categorically helpful, I would suggest that such a definition of the miraculous is not only misleading, but More >
Yes, the planets are once again aligned and I am gracing the unwashed masses with another concert The theme of this one is "The Geometry of Eternity," a concept based upon a song of the same name. In this song, I connect C.S. Lewis' imagery of eternity (The Great Divorce) with some further reflections of my own. I suggest in this song that the "geometry" of eternity has little to do with the location of saint and sinner in terms of proximity to heaven or hell as materialistically conceived realities, but is rather realized in the relatedness of the individual to God and the attendant consequences of the same. Here is a snippet:
"Imagine a time, with no time / And separation without a space in between / To stand right next to life, and yet still die / To be sustained, but never fulfilled"
The rest of the songs amount to a sort of theological escapade wherein I walk through some of the more difficult and/or interesting theological issues of Christian belief, including but not limited to the nature of faith, eschatological frustration, atonement theology, human sinfulness, epistemological shifts in Christian thinking, etc.
See you there. Or else.Share this:
Recently, the theological blog-o-sphere has been in an uproar over comments made by Liberty University's Jerry Falwell wherein he suggested that Limited Atonement theory (held by many within the Reformed camp) is a heterodox theological perspective.
I will not attempt to defend Falwell's statements, for there has been no ecumenical determination concerning particular views of the atonement. Therefore, it is not possible to make definitive statements about the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of particular views of the atonement (this, of course, requires a fair bit of qualification, but I will not pursue that here).
Although Falwell has over-stated the issue, I still believe that a very strong case can be made against the philosophical tenability of Limited Atonement theory. Therefore, it is to this discussion that I devote this post.
The most basic premise of LA is that Christ's sacrifice can, and must only be understood as efficacious for the salvation of those for whom it is offered. As traditional Christian belief eschews any notion of universalism (in that all will eventually be reconciled to the divine), LA presses that Christ's sacrifice is made only for those who are eventually reconciled to God, for if it were made for those who do not More >
Yesterday, I ruminated about a new-found respect and value to which I have comitted myself in regards to creation. I suggested that as the creation is itself the object of the redemption, restoration and recreation to be realized in the divine rule of God in the eschaton, so we should highly value the creation, rather than abusing and destroying it simply to sate our consumeristic desires and contrived "needs." As part of this reflection, I noted that I have committed myself to avoid deliberately harming spiders, a creature of which I am particularly afraid (and mildly disgusted…I mean, do they really need that many legs?).
However, my suspicions about the ultimately capricious orientation of the universe were confirmed this morning. I woke up from troubled slumber, a terrible migraine dulling my senses. As I showered, I noticed that my right arm was a little sore. As I more closely inspected the troublesome area, I recognized the tell-tale signs of my nemesis.
Yes, a spider bite.
Delicious irony.Share this: