Friday, February 20, 2009

how to make a puppet Paul the Apostle

On his blog, Tony Jones has continued his debate on original sin.

One thing he tried to do was to post some kind of new translation of Romans 5, which is one place where Paul talks about how Adam's sin effected the rest of us. The translation was done by a Brian (likely not McLaren).

But at least at the moment, it looks like the translation of another chapter in Romans is up, likely chapter 14.

This isn't about that mistake itself, such things happens; rather, it's about the translation. Here is a link to it, and some snippets.

A New Translation of Romans 5

Welcome those who are traditional in faith, those who still believe in original sin, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Emergent Christians believe in deconstructing all theologies, while the Traditional Christians only deconstruct certain theologies. Those who deconstruct must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who deconstruct; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own God that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for God is able to make them stand.

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that no theology is un-deconstructible in itself; but it is un-deconstructiblble for anyone who thinks it's un-deconstructible. If your brother or sister is being injured by the theology you deconstruct, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let the theology that you deconstruct cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not about certain theologies or particular dogma but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The Emergent Christians, who are progressive in faith, ought to put up with the stagnation of the Traditional Christians, and not to please ourselves

And here's the real thing.

Romans 14 (New International Version)

1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food[b] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

I tried to match up the Bible verses with the "translation" at the first. It was a bit tricky.

So, let's see...

Brian equates Paul's words about eating to this undefined thing called deconstruction. Paul was talking about a real issue concerning a real thing. Brian's making him talk about something that no one has much of an idea what it is.

Brian's Paul says that "the kingdom of God is not about certain theologies or particular dogma". Perhaps his Paul forgot how much he writes about theologies and dogmas in other places. Perhaps as well the real Paul didn't see what one ate as being near as important as what one believed.

And, in a typical instance of emergent arrogance, Brian's Paul calls traditional Christians "stagnant", which kind of puts paid to all the "nice" things he had his Paul say before.

In fact, this whole things can be set on a shelf about being a shining example of emergent arrogance. I wouldn't even take it seriously, except that Jones seems to think it's somehow serious.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the incompetent god

I couldn't help but think that is how Chalke and Mann view God, especially in the Old Testament, when I read this.

Hence, Yahweh's association with vengeance and violence wasn't so much an expression of who he was but the result of his determination to be involved with his world. His unwillingness to distance himself from the people of Israel and their actions meant that at times he was implicated in the excessive acts of war that we see in some of the books of the Old Testament. From the very beginning, Yahweh's dealing with Israel were motivated by his desire to demonstrate his love. But to a people saturated in a worldview that saw him as power, this was always going to be a slow uphill struggle

God's relationship with Israel took place in the messy and often brutal reality of their day-to-day lives, longings and ambitions. And in the ancient Near East, where war and unrestrained violence were commonplace, having a god of power on your side helped justify cruel acts of revenge towards those who wronged you. That is why, if we focus in on individual Old Testament verses and stories, it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing God as a vengeful despot...

Chalk and Mann, the lost message of jesus, p. 49

Because, really, what else are we to make of these statements? That God, who wanted His people to be nice little pacifists, had to continually come to their aid when they went a-warring? The God really didn't want them to conquer there enemies and defend there lands? And He really didn't want to have Joshua go on some kind of genocidal conquest, and had little if anything to do really with the whole Jericho incident? That He was really hoping David and Goliath could sit down for a latte and talk about...whatever preppies talked about way back when?

Poor God, He just never could get those darned people to get the idea. When He told them to go off to war, He was really telling them to stay home and write poetry?

And I'm pretty sure Chalke is calling into question the divine inspiration of parts of the Old Testament (mostly those that he disapproves of, one may conclude). He seems to be saying that the OT writers are putting words in God's mouth (and in His book) concerning those times when they went to war against people who had done them wrong.

Yeah, poor god indeed. Too weak to protect them so they could become the non-violent pacifists he wanted them to be. Too clumsy with words to make them understand that when they thought he was telling them to go to war, he was telling to not do so. So pathetic that he couldn't even keep their propoganda from getting into his word.

Such a god ain't hardly fit to trust, or worship, or even respect.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

come on, at least do a bit of research

The Bible never defines God as anger, power or judgement--in fact it never defines him as anything other than love.
Chalke and Mann, the lost message of jesus, p. 63

It really didn't take much thought to see that there is something bad wrong with that statement.

Verses from

Isaiah 6:3
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

Isaiah 43:3
For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

Isaiah 43:14
Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.

Isaiah 43:15
I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.

Revelation 3:7
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

Revelation 4:8
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

Revelation 6:10
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Isaiah 63:3
I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.

Isaiah 63:6
And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth

Revelation 6:16
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

Revelation 6:17
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Revelation 11:18
And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

John 9:39
And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

John 12:31
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

Romans 2:3
And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Romans 2:5
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Hebrews 9:27
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 10:27
But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries

2 Peter 3:7
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

And this is only a small sampling of the verses I found in word searches for "holy", "anger", "wrath", and "judgment".

Chalke seems to want to take the one statement from I John, "God is love", and make it the focal point of the whole Bible. Considering all of the other things the Bible says about Him, particularly the thrice-repetitions "Holy, holy, holy", we must needs take care of taking that one statement, true as it is, and setting it up as being the thing by which God defines Himself. A far stronger case could be made for God's holiness being the thing by which God most strongly defines Himself.

But that may be scary to some people (no surprise). Some would rather have a "grandpa in the sky" who makes rules than winks when you break them, than a God who says what He means and means what He says.

And this is one thing we must avoid. It is quite proper to speak of God's love, but not at the expense of all else the Bible says about Him, and it certainly raises questions when one phrase in one book is taken from its context and made the lens through which one sees the rest of the Bible.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

love and power are not scales

Willard Waller, an American sociologist, spend his life studying people in order to gain an understanding in of the complex interplay that goes onin human relationships. Though he wrote many research papers, his life's work can be summed up in two simple statements:

1. In any relationship one person loves more than another

2. The person who loves the least in any relationship has (the) most power and conversely, the person who loves most has the least power.

These two statements make up his Law of Least Love...

Chalke and Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, p. 182

Many questions could be asked about these rather questionable conclusions. For example--

How did this man measure a thing like love, which is by it's nature no measurable?

What does he consider "love"?

What actions does he consider "loving"?

Finally, is this "Law of Least Love" true?

For example, does a parent who exercises power (parental authority) over a child show less love for doing that? Rather, would it not be unloving for the parent to NOT do so? In other words, is it more loving for the parent to be the authority figure, leading and correct thing child, or to simply let the child do it's own thing?

Does a husband and father who exercises godly headship over his family fail to show love when he does so?

Does a coach or teacher fail in love when he or she used her power to make the children do what is necessary--study, practice, learn lessons, run laps?

No doubt, we can think of times when such power has been abused--parents do abuse their kids, husbands do abuse their wives, teachers and coaches do abuse those under them.

But these abuses are simply that--abuses. Rightful authority is abused. Power that should be used rightly is used wrongly. Power without love is a bad thing.

And conversely, love without power is also a bad thing. One can think of what is called the Stockholm Syndrome, where those who suffer abuse become attached to their abusers. One can think of those who say they are "in love" with someone who demeans and mistreats them. One can think of parents who spoil their children, giving in to their every whims and desires, not correcting them and not disciplining them.

Love and power are not a balance--more love, less power; more power, less love--which is essentially what Waller's "Law of Least Love" seems to be saying (or at least that's the spin Chalke and Mann are putting on it); rather, power must be exercised with love, and love must have strength.

is this emergent's next stop?

A few weeks ago on his blog, emergent Tony Jones came out saying that the church should approve and recognize glbt lifestyles.

I wonder if this will be where emergents are going to go next?

The Other Side of Disgust

Daniel Bergner isn’t the devil’s advocate, but he is a pervert’s apologist. This author and contributor to the New York Times Magazine has a new book titled “The Other Side of Desire” which argues it is unfair to judge bizarre, harmful, and disgusting sexual attractions as bizarre, harmful, and disgusting.

Bergner’s book focuses on four real-life fetishists: a husband with a secret foot fetish, a man with an attraction to amputees, a vicious female sadist, and a man who longs for sex with his 12-year-old stepdaughter. Book reviews and interviews suggest he hasn’t written a book to judge the fetishists, but rather to judge the society that would rush to condemn their drives and behaviors.

What these people call “moral ambiguity” leads inexorably to moral paralysis. Its champions in our popular culture aren’t trying to redefine the boundaries as much as destroy them. They may look like playful pundits who just want to talk graphically about sex for fun and profit. But they’re constructing a funhouse with mirrors so distorted that the people inside will be lost without any guideposts for an escape.

The commercial possibilities for Bergner’s exploitation of perversion may be never-ending. Gottlieb concluded: “On one level, this book has all the elements of a top-rated HBO series – provocatively graphic sex, humorous dialogue, and moral ambiguity.”

The problem for those like Jones now is--where do they draw the line, and why? As they have abandoned biblical absolutes, where do they say "This crosses the line"? And what if someone wants to cross that line?

I doubt it will be long before emergents start talking about "stories" of those who practice those kinds of sexual perversions, throwing in words like "oppressions" and "misunderstanding", claiming those have been "judged" and "condemned" and need rather to be "heard" in the midst of the pomo/emergent "conversation", essentially spinning them as the victims and those who says practices are sick and wrong as being "oppressors" simply interested in "power".

unsure of this

I read about this in a regional Christian newspaper in the place I'm currently visiting, and I was more than a bit taken aback by it.

Bible Across America

Bible Across America is a symbol of Zondervan's commitment to make the Word of God more accessible and more relevant to more people. What better way to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the NIV Bible than by inviting Americans to participate in this monumental tour and open more hearts to the Word of God.

The 15,000-mile journey will directly reach 90 cities in 44 states during the course of five months. Bible Across America is currently making stops at churches, universities, retail stores, American landmarks and special events between September 30, 2008 and February 11, 2009. More than 31,000 people are being invited to contribute a verse to complete an entirely handwritten Bible -- America's NIV.

I'm unsure what this is, exactly. Are they just going place to place, and having people copy verses from the NIV onto paper? Is so, then the only real problem with it would be whatever problems one may have with the NIV itself (not counting any problem one may have with the idea in the first place, which seems rather overblown and not really necessary).

But if they're having people re-write the verses any way they wish, then I start having more serious problems with it. It would be rather eye-openning, I suppose, if they are doing that, but not the other hand it would probably make The Message look accurate and scholarly.

And then, there's the whole "American NIV" thing, too. Are we going to have a British and Aussie version next, done in their own versions of English?

I guess we shall have to wait and see.