Friday, August 29, 2008

willing to throw God off the lifeboat

...Indeed, by distinguishing between the name and the event, between the name of God and the event that transpires there, I have laid myself open to the possibility that this event, or stream of events, can twist free from this name and that we might then find ourselves out in the desert, in a khoral place of namelessness and the desire for new names...The event of solicitation that is issued in the name of God stands on its own, calls and solicits us on its own, whether or not someone named God is th author of that solicitation, in which case the death of the author, which would be here the death of God, is the condition of hearing this solicitation. In the desire for God, it is not God but the event that stirs within that name that is undeconstructible, and it would always be possible for that desire to take other forms, to find other formulations, now or in times to come...For, however precious and prestigious it may be, the name of God remains a historical name and, as such, a contingent formation or unity of meaning...
John Caputo, in the essay "Spectral Hermeneutics", in the book "After the Death of God", pp. 69-70

In reading this, it seems that he really is saying that, if the name of God should someday become of no use (which such as he will intentionally or not bring out, if given time, I would add), then it is to be chucked aside.

Strange ideas, rather blasphemous, one may say. But is it not a logical followup to his notions that there is no sovereign God, no God Who is out there, no God who is in control, no God period? He has stripped the name "God" of all real meaning, has filled it with a meaning of his own (I shall probably have to give a bit about his use of 'event' sometime soon), and then says that if the name God does live up to what he calls the event, then we are free to discard it, and find a new name.

And yet, when God gave His name to Moses, He called Himself "I am". And He is still "I am".

God is not an empty shell, to be filled with what we will. Nor is He dead or weak.

the postmodern's greatest fear

To propose a postmodern theology of the Cross, to meditate the event that transpires in the death of Jesus, is to try to think a certain death of God, the death of the ens supremum et deus omnipotens, the death of the God of power, in order to release the event of the unconditional claim lacking worldly sovereignty that issues from the cross...I would press further to a more pressing and important death, the death of the deus omnipotens of classical theology, and this in order to nourish the life of the event that stirs within the name of God, which is the stuff of our rebirth...insofar as there is any philosophical life left in this increasingly dated expression, the death of God, it refers to an ongoing and never finished project of deconstructing the God of ontotheologic, which is for me above all the God of sovereign power...The work of burning off the old metaphysics of omnipotence, which can never cease, must always be a way to fan the flame or build the fire of the event that transpires in the name of God.
John Caputo, in the essay "Spectral Hermeneutics", in the book "After the Death of God", pp 66-67

From my perspective, limited as it may be, perhaps these statements sum up the whole postmodern virus mindset as well as anything else--the thing the postmoderns are running from, that they fear, that they try to hide from by calling on the mountains of relativism and meaninglessness to hide them from, is the God of sovereignty, the all-powerful and all-knowing God.

Read Pagitt's "A Christianity Worth Believing", and see how he desperately tries to say that our concepts of God power and sovereignty have somehow come from Greek or Roman thought, not from anything in the Bible.

Read almost any emergent work, and see how they denigrate the concepts of the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-sovereign God. It's a common theme.

What is there instead? Something of human construction. With Caputo, it's some kind of 'weak theology', which is essentially meaningless. With Pagitt, it's some kind of 'holism', which does not recognize any barriers.

Little gods made in man's image.

One can only hope and pray that these will have their eyes opened, while they have time to be opened.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

making the simple sickeningly impenetrable

This comic works for the current postmodern virus on so many levels...

In reading pomos recently, I'm struck by how far they will go to take what is simple and make it into impenetrable blather. See Caputo's take on the Cross below here for an example, and Raschke's death of God thoughts, though those are rather clear compared to other things they and those like them have written.

One does after a while get that sour taste.

And, finally, as so well put in McLaren's "A New Kind of Christian", since we don't know what postmodernism is or where it's going, we'll probably need to live quite long before they finally decide whatever it is they are (all the while having to deal with them in the here and now). Though I doubt anyone, even they themselves, buy into such a patient view of things.

reversing the Cross

I am proposing a postmodern theology of the Cross in which I ask, what is happening on the Cross? What is happening to us? What events pulsate through that unforgettable scene? Of what are we to make ourselves worthy? It is a mystification to think that there is some celestial transaction going on here, some settling of accounts between divinity and humanity, as if this death is a amortization of a debt of long standing and staggering dimensions. If anything, no debt is lifted from us in tis scene, but a responsibility imposed upon us...The crucified body of Jesus is a site--one among many--of divine eventiveness, through which there courses a stream of events that traverse our bodies and shock the world under the name of the weakness of God, and we are to make ourselves worthy of this event.

John Caputo, in the essay "Spectral Hermeneutics", in the book "After the Death of God", p. 66

The reversal here is staggering, and as much against the Bible as anything I've seen. Is it not written that righteous works cannot save us? Is it not written that all our righteousness is merely as putrid rags?

For a good look at what the Bible says about this, please check out this page.

Some excerpts from it.

The sinner needs to escape the righteous judgment of God or he will face damnation.
Rom. 1:18, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness."
Matt. 25:46, "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

But, no sinner can undo an infinite offense since to please God and make things right, he must obey the Law, which is the standard of God's righteous. character.
Gal. 2:16, " the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."
Gal. 2:21, "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."

Jesus became sin for us and bore our sins in His body on the cross, thus fulfilling the Law.
2 Cor. 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
1 Peter 2:24, "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."
Rom. 8:3-4, "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh. 4in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."

Caputo's 'we must make ourselves worthy' is simply another variation on works salvation. Not only that, his redefining (it's not about making us right us God) and denigrating (it's merely one such event among many) is unbiblical to the core.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

praying to no one

Prayer is not a transaction or interaction with some hyperbeing in the sky, a communication with some ultrareality behind the scenes, the invocation or appeasement of a magical power of supernatural intervention from on high. Prayer has to do with hearing, heeding, and hearkening to a provocation that draws us out of ourselves.
John Capute, in the essay 'Spectral Hermeneutics', in the book 'After the Death of God', p. 57

It always raises the eyebrows, how much people will twist and contort themselves and their thinking in order to come up with some way to discard and disregard God. It goes beyond simply looking a bit like the old party game "Twister", and becomes more like some wild-haired mad scientist wildly and maniacally splicing various genetic materials to create the monster that turn on him in the end and devour him.

Read Caputo's words, and see that he is in essence proclaiming a form of 'athiestic spirituality'. When we pray, we do not pray to God, because there is no God out there to pray to, a statement athiestic to its core. But there is a spirituality or something like it that he does say that we hear from, perhaps it is only ourselves and something inside us that we hear from (a bit later then the above he seems to say that it is 'our desire').

One may wonder what he hopes to gain from this dismissal of God, and why emergents seem to look to him, because they do.

Monday, August 18, 2008

what lies behind deconstruction 4

Deconstruction is the flailing of the spades of God's gravediggers. To refuse the ceremony of burial, however, is a more culpable form of hubris than to take the shovel in hand. For the stench of "divine decomposition," as Neitzsche phrased it, is everywhere.
Carl A. Raschke, from the essay 'The Deconstruction of God' in the book 'Deconstruction and Theology', p. 30

Here is something I remember from way back when. I may not have it worded exactly at it was, but I think I have the basic point of it. It has to do in regards to people like the above, who want us to take Neitzsche's "God is dead" statements seriously.

"God is dead."

"Neitzsche is dead."

The point is, somewhere in this world, there are the remains of the man Neitzsche. If there is a "stench of '...decomposition'", it is coming from that spot. One may also wish that it were coming from the 'philosophy' Neitzsche put forth, because that would the most merciful thing to happen to it; instead, there are people who seem to latch on to it like he were some kind of prophecy, like they were the words of a genius instead of the words of a madman.

There is no "stink of 'divine compositions'", because despite the many of people like Raschke, God is very much alive. Despite the words of such as Marcus Borg, Christ is indeed risen from the dead. Despite McLaren's attempts to caricature the second coming as some kind of "Jihad Jesus", Christ will return to set up His kingdom on the earth. Despite Caputo's desire for a 'weak God', God is still sovereign.

These people's attempts to elevate man can only end in disaster, because they are lies and cannot end any other way. May they, I pray, put aside their pride in their man-made philosophies, and finally bow before the living and true God, and truly come to the Christ who died for them and rose from the dead.

Friday, August 15, 2008

what lies behind deconstruction 3

Deconstruction is the dance of death upon the tomb of God; it is the
tarantella whose footfalls evoke the archaism of the Great Mother, who takes
back with the solemnity of the Pieta her wounded, divine son.
Carl A. Raschke, from the essay 'The Deconstruction of God' in the book 'Deconstruction and Theology', p. 28

Whatever the last part of that statement means (what Great Mother?), it's pretty clear again that this is about an athiesm wearing a faux-christian mask.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Beware of Brian Mclaren

This is a very nice summation of some things whacky coming from McLaren. It's a long entry, and I think is actually from another source linked to at the beginning, but well worth reading.

My sole real complaint with it are statements about C.S. Lewis, whom I guess the writer doesn't like, and seems to want to tie in with emergent and McLaren. Frankly, being somewhat familiar with Lewis, I think that on the whole he is very much the antithesis of things emergent.

We must be careful of allowing emergents to make people like Lewis and Chesterton 'posthumous friends of emergent'. Were all of their ideas good ones? No. We must approach them as we would any other teacher, as the Bereans did even towards the apostles, searching in the scriptures to make sure what they taught is really what is. But simply because an emergent references one of them does not make them a part of that movement.

what lies behind deconstruction 2

Again, we must underscore our leading thesis: deconstruction is the death of God put into writing
Carl A. Raschke, from the essay 'The Deconstruction of God' in the book 'Deconstruction and Theology', p. 27

Would that all postmoderns were so honest.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

what lies behind deconstruction 1

Deconstruction, which must be considered the interior drive of twentieth-century theology rather than an alien agenda, is in the final anaylysis the death of God put into writing, the subsumption of the "Word" by the "flesh," the deluge of immanance
Carl A. Raschke, from the essay 'The Deconstruction of God' in the book 'Deconstruction and Theology', p. 3

subsume (root for 'subsumption)

1. to consider or include (an idea, term, proposition, etc.) as part of a more comprehensive one.
2. to bring (a case, instance, etc.) under a rule.
3. to take up into a more inclusive classification.

'Immanance' is more difficult, at least as he Raschke seems to want to use it here, but considering that he basically says tha that the "Word" is taken up into the "flesh", or that the "Word" is put under the rule of the "flesh", then I suppose it's like to mean something like this.

immanance (it's a long encyclopedia entry, so not all of it will be here, please read all of it)

The term "immanence" is usually understood to mean that the divine force, or the divine being, pervades through all things that exist, and is able to influence them. Such a meaning is common in pantheism and panpsychism, and it implies that divinity is inseparably present in all things. In this meaning immanence is distinct from transcendence, the latter being understood as the divinity being set apart from or transcending the World (an exception being Giovanni Gentile's "Actual Idealism" wherein immanence of subject is considered identified with transcendence over the material world)...

...the term has been utilized by the Kennesaw School to elucidate the emergent nature of communalized relationality and the potential for becoming within an Age of Globalization.

Trying to get one's head around this is not easy, and I'm not so sure I have done very well at it. But some parts are pretty clear. It's not the first time I've come on the "death of God" thought that tries to disguise itself as Christian. I think Caputo puts it as the "death of the God of sovereignty", substituting instead a "God of weakness".

Monday, August 11, 2008


A bit of something different. A Dilbert comic which comments on those who try to not make decisions and commitments. I doubt it was aimed to postmoderns, religious or not, but it seemed apropo.

It looks like it's not going to complete fit on here, sorry about that. But if you click on it, it should take you to where the complete strip is located.

Friday, August 8, 2008

spinning Christ's tempations III

...and refuses to indulge in spectacle to prove himself (which would subvert Gods natural system of being proven through trials and experience).
Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, p. 139

And the verses...

Luke 4
4:9 And he led him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
4:10 for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, to guard thee:
4:11 and, On their hands they shall bear thee up, Lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.
4:12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God.

As in the other two, there is no hint from the context of the verses of what McLaren is trying to make the verses say. From the nature of the temptation and Jesus' response, one may well see it as something similar to the first--a temptation to presumption, to act without the Father's approval.

Further, just as Jesus several times provided provisions in a manner "which would subvert God's natural system of gaining honor through humble service", at least to McLaren's mind, so too were many of His miracles very public and witnessed by many. He even saw them as being proofs of who He is, as for example here.

John 11
41.So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
42.I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
43.When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
44.The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."

And there are these words from Peter at Pentacost.

Acts 2
22."Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.

If the temptation was that if people were to see Jesus doing something miraculous then they would believe, His life showed otherwise. In fact, it was the very public raising of Lazarus from the dead that sparked this on the part of those who were against Him.

John 11
45.Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.
46.But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
47.Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. "What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs.
48.If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."
49.Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all!
50.You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."
51.He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation,
52.and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.
53.So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

Whether that was the nature of the temptation, though, is unclear. Nothing is said by either the devil or Jesus about people's reactions; rather, Jesus responds only to the temptation to act presumptuously, to simply do whatever or anything in the expectation that the Father will bail Him out.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

spinning Christ's temptations II

...refuses to take a religious shortcut to authority and kingship (which would subvert God's natural system of gaining honor through humble service)...
Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, p. 139

And the passage referred to...

Luke 4
4:5 And he led him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
4:6 And the devil said unto him, To thee will I give all this authority, and the glory of them: for it hath been delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
4:7 If thou therefore wilt worship before me, it shall all be thine.
4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

It's simply...incredible, the fact that Mclaren here makes no mention at all of the nature of the temptation, that the devil's demand was the Jesus should worship the devil instead of the Father.

But to look at it in a more (post)modern-day way, please look at what McLaren himself says here.

Emerging church leader Brian Mclaren on Lambeth, mission and reconciliation

And fourth, I think our future will also require us to join humbly and charitably with people of other faiths - Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, secularists, and others - in pursuit of peace, environmental stewardship, and justice for all people, things that matter greatly to the heart of God.

Jesus refused to worship anyone or anything other then His Heavenly Father, even if it meant that the devil keeps authority over the kingdoms of the world. McLaren, on the other hands, encourages compromise and even acceptance of those in false religions in order to accomplish what is in his mind an improving of the world.

The difference in these two views can hardly be more different.

Monday, August 4, 2008

spinning Christ's temptations I

For Jesus, God's natural ecosystem is not only one of care, but also of limits. So when Jesus is tempted (Luke 4:1-3), he refuses to turn stones into bread (which would subvert God's natural system of provision)...
Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, p. 139

So, what does such reasoning do to, let's say, the time Jesus turned water into wine? Or fed several thousand people with one child's lunch? If one goes back to the Old Testament, what about when God fed Israel in the wilderness with manna, and provided water for them? Or when He provided water for Ishmael and later Samson? Or when He gave food to Elijah before having him take a long journey?

Take a look at the passage, which to his credit he does reference though I contend misinterprets and misapplies.

Luke 4
4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led in the Spirit in the wilderness
4:2 during forty days, being tempted of the devil. And he did eat nothing in those days: and when they were completed, he hungered.
4:3 And the devil said unto him, if thou art the Son of God, command this stone that it become bread.
4:4 And Jesus answered unto him, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone

I see nothing in that which says that Jesus didn't do it because it "would subvert God's natural system of provision". Considering how often Jesus did provide such things through miraculous means, I think we should look elsewhere for the reason He didn't do so here. Very likely, since it was a temptation, then Jesus' fasting was in obedience to His Father, so the temptation to eat was a temptation to be disobedient.