Book Meme

July 31, 2006

From the Metaphysical Pluralist

1. One book that changed your life:  The God Who Is There – Francis Schaeffer

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:  Time and Eternity by Brian Leftow.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:  Sadly, I can’t decide between the US Navy Survival Guide and Aquinas’ Summa Theologica

4. One book that made you laugh:  Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas—Elaine Pagels.  Although that was not her intent. 

5. One book that made you cry: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  This short children’s story didn’t make me cry but it made me sad.

6. One book that you wish had been written:  The Reconciliation of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom—Jesus of Nazareth.

7. One book that you wish had never been written:  The Metaphor of God Incarnate, John Hick. 

8. One book you’re currently reading:  The Guitar Handbook by Ralph Denyer.  Picked it up the other day to figure out what the heck an F#7#9#11 chord looked like, but now I can’t put it down. 

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:  The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman 

10. Now tag five people:  Keith, Clint. 


Review of ‘Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide To Sources and Methods’

July 29, 2006

Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide To Sources and Methods
Darrell L. Bock. Baker Academic, 2002; 230 pages.

Darrell Bock, Research Professor in New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, has distinguished himself as a preeminent scholar in his field, especially with his two-volume commentary on Luke (BECNT, 1994-96). His Studying the Historical Jesus is a primer for the beginning student of the Gospels and Historical Jesus studies in general. Read the rest of this entry »

Review of Love Your God with all Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul.

July 29, 2006

“Love your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). With this, the first and greatest commandment, Jesus emphasizes, among other things, the use of the intellect in loving God. In a work reminiscent of Mark Noll’s ‘The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind’, J. P. Moreland scolds evangelicals for the growing anti-intellectualism he sees in the contemporary church. In his estimation, anti-intellectualism within the church is partially responsible for the rise of a post-Christian society in the West (p. 21ff). If Moreland’s judgment is accurate, his accusation is cause for concern and alarm! He properly calls upon evangelicals to fulfill their responsibility to cultivate Christlike minds. To enable us to achieve that goal, he identifies the main “hobgoblins” that contribute to the current problem, discusses appropriate countermeasures, and explores several implications of successfully re-establishing obedience to the first and greatest commandment. Read the rest of this entry »

ex Patre Filioque?

July 25, 2006

Jaroslav Pelikan, before his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy, remarked:

If there is a special circle of the inferno described by Dante reserved for historians of theology, the principal homework assigned to that subdivision of hell for at least the first several eons of eternity may well be the thorough study of all the treatises–in Latin, Greek, Church Slavonic, and various modern languages–devoted to the inquiry: Does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father only, as Eastern Christendom contends, or from both the Father and the Son (ex Patre Filioque), as the Latin Church teaches?

This controversy mind you, has seen more ink spilled than the various protestant battles over say, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, or Dispensationalism vs. Covenant Theology, or Open Theism vs. Molinism vs. Calvinism.  Like the few evangelical prostestants who have even bothered to bat an eye toward this oldest of theological battles, I find myself in some sympathy with Rome. Does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son?  Well, why not?  Then again, like most evangelicals, I cannot profess to be sufficiently read on the issue.  I shall proceed, nonetheless to pontificate on the matter as if I were.  Let me just take a few of issues that appear to be in serious contention:

1.  Should the west have altered the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed to include the Filioque?

It seems there might be some legitimate points on both sides.  The cannons of the Council of Ephesus in 431 expressly anathematizes anyone who adds to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.  Further, if as the Orthodox maintain, there is no authority save Christ higher than the ecumenical creeds, then the West by inserting the Filioque, appears to have overstepped its authority.  Moreover, why didn’t the West, in the spirit of charity, simply remove the addition after they learned of the strong objections by the eastern patriarchs.

Rome on the other hand argues that the Filioque is most definitely not an addition to the creed.  Rather it is a clarification.  It is not something novel, but something already contained in the faith, consitent with the meaning of the Creed.  Further, the Filioque became a vital tool in the West in the ongoing battle against Arianism, and it simply could not have been casually “removed.”

2.  Is the Filioque a dogma, a heresy, or a theologoumenon?

Well, that depends on who you ask.  In the East, many see the doctrine as heresy.  Other see it as pretty close to it, or at least something that has brought about wholesale decay in Western theology and society.  Rome sees it as dogma.  Protestants have been something of a mixed bag.  Calvin dismissed it as pseudo-controversy.  Anglicans are more than willing to drop the clause to preserve the peace.  Evangelicals…well…evangelicals have never heard of it.

And it seems everyone appeals to the Fathers on this matter: The East to Athanasios, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Palamas, and the West to Hilary, Ambrose, and Augustine.

I must say that I find it hard sometimes to understand why this is so grave a matter.  Why must it necessitate the splitting of the Church?  After all, thus far, the Spirit appears content to let the matter lie in controversy rather than hasten his Church to another ecumenical council to decide on the matter (Imagine that!  Another ecumenical council in our time!).  But my misgivings here may be due more to ignorance.  Nevertheless, I am not moved by some Eastern Orthodox polemics that the Filioque somehow “depersonalizes” the Spirit, or that it has led to authoritarianism, institutionalism, clericalism and other vile ‘isms, in the West.

At the same time, if the Filioque is interpreted in a way that denies that the Father is the sole Principle (aρχή) or Source or Fountain-head of deity, then it cannot be right. 

3.  Is there any hope for rapproachment between the East and the West

Well I trust there might be. 

Many have recomended that the West altogether simply remove the clause from the Creed.  After all, it is argued, the threat of Arianism is not as it once was.  As a matter of theology, perhaps both East and West could hold to one of the following:

— the Spirit proceeds from the Father of the Son;
— the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son;
— the Spirit proceeds from the Father and receives from the Son;
— the Spirit proceeds from the Father and rests on the Son;
— the Spirit proceeds from the Father and shines out through the Son.   

Will this one issue heal the divisions between East and West?  Probably not.  But it would help.  I cannot help but read John 17 and long for that day.

Rules For Winning Arguments: Rule #3

July 17, 2006

3.  Use meaningless but weighty-sounding words and phrases

Memorize this list:

1. “Let me put it this way”

2. “In terms of”

3.  “Vis-a-vis”

4.  “Per se”

5.  “As it were”

6.  “Qua”

7.  “So to speak”

8.  “Well, anyhow”

You should also memorize some Latin abbreviations such as “Q.E.D.,” “e.g.,” and “i.e.”  These are all short for “I speak Latin and you do not.”  Here’s how to use these words and phrases.  Suppose you want to say:

“Peruvians would like to order appetizers more often, but they don’t have enough money.”

You will never win arguments talking like that.  But you WILL win if you say:

“Let me put it this way.  In terms of appetizers vis-avis Peruvians qua Peruvians, they would like to order them more often, so to speak, but they do not have enough money per se, as it were.  Q.E.D”

Only a fool would challenge that statement.


Yet More Causes of Death of the Great Philosophers!

July 17, 2006

Anselm: That than which non deadlier can be concieved

Aristotle: Excessive moderation

Augustine: Hippo

Ayer: Unverifiable

Berkeley: Divine Neglect

Heidegger: Not being in time

Heraclitus: Fell in the same river twice

Locke: No idea

McTaggart: Untimely causes

Nietzsche: Overpowered himself

Plato: Caved in

Zeno: Ran over by tortoise


Os Guinness on Fundamentalism

July 17, 2006

“It is ironic that, although fundamentalists are implacably opposed to liberalism, their extreme reaction shows the same weakness. They, too, stress the leap of faith and make irrationality almost a principle, dismissing the serious questions of seeking modern men as intellectual smoke-screens or diversions to conceal deeper personal problems. All this masks a desperate intellectual insecurity, barely disguised by the surrounding hedge of taboos to preserve purity. The strident intolerance of much guilt-driven evangelism betrays the same insecurity. In these circles, much that is taught has to be unlearned in the wider school of life, and it is not surprising that universities are littered with dropouts from such groups. Their non-rational, subjective faith is cruelly punctured by varsity-level questions, and many manage to survive only by resorting to a severely schizophrenic faith which they hold to be true religiously but not intellectually, historically, or scientifically.”