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"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, con
cerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it ...." I John 1:1-2 (RSV)

"After his resurrection the disciples saw the living Christ, whom they knew to have died, with the eyes of faith (oculata fide)." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, 55, 2 ad 1, as quoted in D. M. Stanley, Jesus in Gethsemane (New York, Paulist Press 1980).

Friday, August 23, 2013

National Repentance - David Flusser

In Jesus' time people had an opinion that calamity and illness were punishments for particular sins of  certain individuals.    Jesus took issue with that and declared that sin is a problem for everyone.   "[T] hose eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No!  But unless you repent you will all likewise perish."   Luke 13:4-5  (RSV).    David Flusser quotes Luke 13:4-5 and says this about Jesus' call for national repentance:

Later on, being in Jerusalem he saw the imminent catastrophe as almost inevitable (Luke 19:40-44). The future destruction of Jerusalem could have been avoided, if it had chosen the way of peace and repentance.

The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius. By David Flusser and R. Steven Notley. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007, at page 75.   If the people had repented, how would they have changed the way they lived their lives?   That will be the subject of future posts.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Commentary on Mark - Larry Hurtado

Check this out from Phil Long's excellent Reading Acts blog:  "Logos Bible Software is giving away a copy of Larry Hurtado’s commentary on Mark in Understanding the Bible series from Baker."   


You can get the details from reading Phil's post.   Hurtado is a first rate scripture scholar who knows how to communicate to larger audiences.

Looking at this commentary on Mark I would say that with this book from the 80′s LH was the same then as he is now, quick, direct and to the point.   You may not agree with everything he says, but the writing is always interesting and helpful.  You get more from one page of this book than from what you may find in whole chapters of other dry and tedious commentaries on the  Gospels. 

I met Larry in 1975 (when I was new to the Bible!) after a presentation he gave on campus in Madison, Wisconsin.  After his talk Larry  took time to talk to me, answer my questions about Jesus, and told me to read a thick George Ladd book, which got me started reading books beyond the devotional.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Poetry vs Logic - G.K. Chesterton

The last post touched on the hazards of systematizing scriptural truth.   Calvinist predestination theories get criticized by some when this subject comes up.    Catholics need to be careful here.   We have in our tradition the beloved  St. Augustine who was comfortable with predestination ideas.   And while I am not a predestinationist I have read portions of  Calvin's Institutes, and I have always enjoyed his writing on the sovereignty of God, which is full of joy and gratitude.   G.K. Chesterton's experiences with Calvinists were not so positive.  Consider this famous quote from chapter 2 (titled "The Maniac") of Chesterton's book, Orthodoxy,  commenting on the English Calvinist poet, William Cowper:  

“And he [Cowper] was definitely driven mad by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination.  Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine; poetry partly kept him in health.  He could sometimes forget the red and thirsty hell to which his hideous necessitarianism dragged him among the wide waters and the white flat lilies of the Ouse.  He was damned by John Calvin; he was almost saved by John Gilpin.    ... The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits."

Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton, at 26-27  (London, William Clowes & Sons Limited, 1908)

Hazards of Systematic Theology - Peter Leithart

Systematic theology can degenerate into lifeless philosophical abstractions, and that's not what we see in the scriptures.  Peter Leithart says this  in one of his posts on Jonathan Edwards' writing on atonement theory: 

Rudisill’s Lutheran skepticism about Calvinism comes through here, and I suspect he’s not fair to Edwards. But what he identifies is a real problem, namely, the abstraction of atonement theory so that it becomes an unreal contrivance to work out dilemmas in the logic of God’s nature. 
That unreality is, perhaps, a function of the effort to construct an atonement theory in the first place, which is inevitably a systematizing abstraction from the concrete events and narrative accounts provided in the gospels. Even Paul’s statements about the atonement are framed as episodes in a story (“Christ loved me and gave Himself for me”; “born of a woman, born under the law…”; “He condemned sin in the flesh”). In place of a theory, the New Testament offers a history of atoning events. The further we move from the story, the more unreal our theories become. Our “theories” should be elaborations of the story rather than efforts to get beyond it.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Love of God - Knowledge of God - Frank Sheed

Why study the Bible?  Frank Sheed provides these insights:

I have said that my concern is with the intellect rather than with the will: this not because the intellect matters more in religion than the will, but because it does matter and tends to be neglected, and the neglect is bad. I realize that salvation depends directly upon the will. We are saved or damned according to what we love. If we love God, we shall ultimately get God: we shall be saved. If we love self in preference to God then we shall get self apart from God:  we shall be damned.  But though in our relation to God the intellect does not matter as much as the will, (and indeed depends for its health upon the will) it does matter, and as I have said, it is too much neglected - to the great misfortune of the will, for we can never attain a maximum love of God with only a minimum knowledge of God. 

THEOLOGY AND SANITY - by F. J.  Sheed - Sheed & Ward London & New York 1947   110-111 (italics added).