26 Jul 2007
This is Funny stuff. It reminded me of what we learned about Hillary Clinton in a breathless and unintentionally hilarious old Washingon Post profile (“Hillary Clinton’s Inner Politics,” May 6, 1993). The first line of the article is one of the great howlers of modern journalism:
It just happened, slipped out- from deep inside of her-in a quiet but stunning way.
I could lovingly quote the article’s comedy further, but to get to the point, Mrs. Clinton is eventually quoted thusly:
My politics are a real mixture… An amalgam. And I get so amused when these people try to characterize me: She is this, therefore she believes the following 25 things. … Nobody’s ever stopped to ask me or try to figure out the new sense of politics that Bill and a lot of us are trying to create. The labels are irrelevant. And yet, the political system and the reporting of it keep trying to force us back into the boxes because the boxes are so much easier to talk about. You don’t have to think. You can just fall back on the old, discredited Republican versus Democrat, liberal versus conservative mindsets.
By now I know what you’re thinking: “Put the pipe down, Hillary.” But seriously, the point is this: it pays to regard those who will not let themselves be defined concretely with much caution. It’s been my experience that those who claim to have moved beyond labels are up to no good.
Those who take issue with the Emergent Church Movement, which is mostly repackaged liberalism, are told that they just don’t get it. All attempts to clearly define terms are rebuffed (just like Arius).
I get the same “you don’t get it” vibe from the far more erudite Federal Vision folks. Every time someone tries to take them to the woodshed, they seem to get buried under an avalanche of theological gobbledegook (at least to my limited ears). It turns out that our best theologians in the OPC and the PCA don’t “get” it either. If they can’t get it, how is a ninny like me going to get it?
Uncle. A man must understand his limitations. I’ve yet to meet an actual proponent anyway.
18 Jul 2007
Who would Jesus bomb?
Lately I’ve noticed many cars bearing the bumper sticker “Who would Jesus bomb?” I assume it’s a slap at those Christians who support the Iraq war and yet wear their “What would Jesus do?” bracelets (though that fad has mostly run its course).
I share these protesters’ suspicion of overseas interventionism by our federal government. What I cannot share is their view of Jesus.
According to the fiction that enlivens this bumper sticker, Jesus isn’t an all-powerful king who will execute judgment (Psalm 2, Hebrews 1, etc.), but a peace-loving hippie with long hair and sandals. I’ve been reading straight through the Old Testament, and the the sheer amount of time Scripture warns of judgment (interspersed of course with promises for the remnant, the covenant sons of David whom God has sworn to uphold) is astounding. I’ve not done the math, but threats and promises of woe must make up 80% of what the prophets said. There are multitudes of explicit threats to strip the wrongdoers bare, to slaughter young and old, men and women without pity (Lam 2:21), to break old and young in pieces (Jer 51:22), and on and on and on it goes.
Jesus’s entire ministry was confrontational. He fed the 5000, then went across the Galilee and confounded a large crowd of people who were expecting bread, not calls to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6). He warned often about Hell. His parables weren’t Grimm’s Fairy Tales either. In the Revelation, as in the Psalms, we see the Conquering King who will war with the sword of His mouth (Rev 2:16) and rule with a rod of iron (Rev 2:27).
I look forward to the day when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Is 2:4). Still, I’d prefer bombing to Hell. Who is that consuming fire?
10 Jul 2007
Word and Spirit work together
For all are ready to object that they only speak from God. So today the Papists boast with professorial superciliousness that all their inventions are the oracles of the Spirit. Mohammed, too, asserts that he has drawn his dreams only from heaven. In olden times the Egyptians lied that the mad absurdities with which they bewitched themselves and others had been divinely revealed. But I reply that we have the Word of the Lord, which should be consulted first. Hence, when false spirits claim the name of God, we must enquire from the Scriptures whether it is as they say. -John Calvin, commentary on 1John 4:6
Does the Holy Spirit work apart from the Word? Many professing Christians sadly agree with apostate Episcopalians. The “Spirit” is working, they say! The Spirit tells them specifically who to marry or what car to buy. Sometimes the “Spirit” works in ways that contradict the clear teaching of Scripture (e.g. Mrs. Jones is “led” to enter the pastoral ministry). While none may believe it confidently enough to staple such revelation into the back of their Bibles, they believe it all the same.
As the gents note in this this White Horse Inn broadcast, the Holy Spirit’s purpose in any era is to “testify about [Christ]” (John 15:26). As Michael Horton quotes J.I. Packer:
You know where the Holy Spirit is present: wherever Christ is being clearly proclaimed.
05 Jul 2007
Down the memory hole
And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. -narrator in Fellowship of the Ring
Another July 4 has gone by, one where once again we drank in large gulps the blessing of family, wishing time would stand still. To paraphrase Lewis, it was a very pleasant inn.
As often happens, a small comment captured me: my oldest sister was shocked to learn that there was once a Kroger grocery in our hometown. She never knew that until tonight.
How much knowledge is lost with every passing soul; how quickly it fades away! My great grandfather fought in the Civil War; today we know little of him. My aunt, frail and in her 90s, remembers sitting upon his knee as a small child. That is most of what I know of him.
I can ask my mom what life was like growing up in the 1930s. She has presented many small slices. Some are even in writing or on tape. However, the intricacies of family life and the farm are lost except for perhaps a few anecdotes that will be repeated to the next generation. A generation or two after that, even that will likely be gone.
Look about you now. Think of your family, of your town, of your life. Most of what you see and know will be lost to the ages in 50 years. In 100 years, our children’s children will perhaps wonder what we all used to talk about, what life was like for us, what we were like. I’m doing little more than restating Ecclesiastes, but how few are our years.
I do not think history is lost. God knows it, after all. It seems not too speculative to say that heaven will be rich with history.
01 Jul 2007
Those who have the world in their hearts lament the loss of great men more than the loss of good men. -Matthew Henry, comment on Ezek 26:17.