A Compilation of All My Theological Tweets for the Month of March: From a Reluctant Theological Tweeter

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to share all of my theologically oriented Tweets from this month; so that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll start with 03/01, and go till today. I’m not going to put the time or date stamps on each of them, but I will place them in quotes. I will string them together one after the other, only using quote marks to signify a new Tweet. Here we go, starting with March 1st.

“It’s not just that sin is irrational; more significantly, it’s that it is irrelational.” “If all one had is theological Twitter to come to a conception of God, you’d almost get the impression that God-talk is a game in a popularity contest; and that God is just a piece of the game waiting to be deployed by the game-masters.” “Sin is ultimately an absence of relationship and participation in God’s Holy and Triune life.” “I like Alter’s translation of “precept upon precept, line upon line” in Isaiah 28.9-10: “To whom will they teach knowledge and to whom will they convey lessons?—to the milk-weaned, babes pulled from the breast? For it is *filth-pilth, filth-pilth, vomit-momit, vomit-momit* …” ““Grass dries up, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Is 40:8 Alter’s translation” “I like reading Holy Scripture with the recognition that no one is smarter or more insightful than its reality. The Bible has an autonomy in this sense, that no other book has.” ““The mystery of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ consists in the fact that the eternal Word of God chose, sanctified and assumed human nature and existence into oneness with Himself, in order thus, as very God and very man, to become the Word of reconciliation spoken by God to man. The sign of this mystery revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the miracle of His birth, that He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.” Karl Barth CD I/2 §15, 123” ““If dogmatics cannot regard itself and cause itself to be regarded as fundamentally Christology, it has assuredly succumbed to some alien sway and is already on the verge of losing its character as church dogmatics.” Barth CD I/2 §15, 124” “Sometimes I think the reason I like Barth so much, is because he reminds me of a modern-day Luther.” “Being vulgar and unchained doesn’t make you human (except maybe in a profane world alone); instead, the attributes of humanity are really traits like meekness, gentleness, and innocence like a dove. Traits that characterized the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world.” “One time I applied to be a high school bible teacher. I taught two sections, one for freshman (logic); and the other for seniors (whatever I wanted). The freshman class went great. The senior class laughed at me. I chose to teach on relativism and used Oprah as an example. At least I got beat out by a PhD. I almost had the job, I think.” “A succinct statement on an/enhypostasis: “it has never subsisted in itself and on the basis of its own subsistence outside the person of the Son of God, but at the very moment in which it was created, it immediately began to exist in the person of the Son of God, in which it was taken up; as a result it is not even to be thought that the human nature of Christ subsisted for a single moment before it was assumed by the Word.” Amandus Polanus cited by Barth CD I/2 §15, 154” “I think Barth operates in the ‘spirit’ of Luther and the ‘letter’ of the Reformed.” “Social media, in the main, seems to represent a self-feeding reality. Think about that.” “We’re Christians, not Magicians. We don’t believe in magic, but in the God who holds all things together by the Word of His power.” “And Jesus looked out on a lot of sinners, and thought, “I will go and give my life for them, that they might have life in me,” therein changing the world from the inside/up.” “We ought never forget that God’s Grace means He moved towards us first that we might move towards Him; not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit saith the LORD.” “God’s Kingdom in Christ is an inverted triangle. What the world and much of the church considers valuable God considers rubbish. The point is on the “bottom” not the “top” in God’s Kingdom.” “It will always be about the Gospel; it will never not be. In Heaven, it is about the Gospel; in the air, it is about the Gospel; and on this earth, it is about the Gospel. Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life; no person comes to the Father, not ever, without Him.” “I think of good theology simply as discipleship. Theology is the answer to the “okay, now what?” after someone comes to Christ. Revival happens, and then Re-formation begins.” “Abortion is driven by an inner-impulse of nihilism and self-destruction; of the sort that shapes and inculcates the broader societas within which such manifest destiny can not only be imagined, but lived out. Abortion is driven by an inner-impulse of nihilism and self-destruction; of the sort that shapes and inculcates the broader societas within which such manifest destiny can not only be imagined, but lived out.” “On my quest to plow through the whole CD, I just finished book 3 of the study edition. Amazing theology, of the sort that is Christ concentrated.” “To resist societal conditioning forces, we 1) have to know what they are, and 2) have the power to actually resist. God’s Self-revelation in Christ supplies this ‘other-worldly’ way.” “Blessed be the man who trusts in the LORD, and the LORD becomes his trust. Jeremiah 17:7” “The size of your Twitter audience doesn’t determine the significance of your voice; the One you’re witness to does.” “When the Gospel is flattened to a political utilitarianism, as if among other position-systems, it makes it much easier for people to reject. If the Gospel, instead, is understood as God in Christ invading the world with His cosmic irrupting Grace—grace from the strange but beautiful world of His inner life—then it makes it more difficult to reject; at least on the usual terms that it often and naively is.” “Genetic fallacies abound” “If Christ be not risen, then our faith is meaningless. But He is risen!” “I’ve read technical theological books everyday for almost 25yrs; all in an attempt to know Jesus better. I’ve read the Bible longer than that. Barely scratching the surface.” “I grew up Baptist, we didn’t ever put ashes on our foreheads until recently” “I’m credobaptist cause that’s what the Bible teaches.” “I’ve been unwilling to give up on Barth’s theology because I have found zero theologians of his ilk who focus on Jesus Christ so principially and thoroughly in their theologizing. It is his intensive Christocentrism that elevates things for me. He is sui generis.” “At the end of the day it isn’t about digging in my heels, but about going with an expanding knowledge of Jesus Christ; whether or not that always keeps in slavish step with the tradition or not. This is not Socinian, but driven by a desire to know Christ and Him crucified.” “Let’s put it like this: If I didn’t have depth theology to turn to as a Christian, I wouldn’t be a Christian. I need more than the *Daily Bread* or *Kitchen Soup for the Christian Soul* to be enthralled with the living God. There is altitude to knowing this God.” “I don’t think most evangelicals realize that there is a whole other theological universe just waiting for them. I mostly blame the pastors, and the sub-culture that has fostered this type of culture wherein such pastors are developed.” “Beauty actually is Christ deep.” “If Heaven and the coming eschaton are pervaded by the face of Christ, all the way through, then what use do I have for discursive and abstract theologies that only attempt to work their way up to Him from other places. Why not start and end with Christ; the Alpha and Omega?” “My prooftext for the mode of theologizing I follow: “John 5.39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” A theology that is going to be genuinely Word based, one that is principially grounded in Holy Scripture, will follow the intentional contours of that *Canon*. If so, we end up with a theology that Jesus would have recognized as Scriptural; as one about Him all the way down. This is what the Spirit has come to comfort us with; that it is all about Jesus.” “In the eschaton I plan on doing exactly what I’m doing now; getting to know Jesus better. Only it will be glorified knowledge rather than simply sanctified.” “My cancer was as dire as Trebek’s. All things are possible with God; there is nothing too difficult for Him.” “I’m not sure if folks realized this, but Barth was actually a Baptist. Here’s one prooftext: “This is the place of Christology. It faces the mystery. It does not stand within the mystery. It can and must adore with Mary and point with the *Baptist*.” CD I/2 §15” “What is God’s glory, or His power/sovereignty? We often throw these words around without definition or proper qualifications.” “It seems as if the culture is in moral freefall; and its speed only increases exponentially as it gets closer to the ground of God’s holiness and judgment. Indeed, an aspect of the freefall *is* God’s judgment according to Romans 1.” “I think social media is helping to contribute to the culture of “the love of many will grow cold.” “I’m not dispy, but was for years! This is a caricature of their position. Ironically, Christian Zionism is mostly made up of dispensationalists, and not because they are looking forward to God slaughtering them. The tweet is uninformed and click bait.” “Sometimes I tire of reading some of the things I do, over and again (thematically); except for the Bible. The Bible is more interesting than any other book I’ve read. I think its because I know its the place I encounter God in Christ afresh and anew; with authority.” “I’ll be at this tomorrow. See you there if I do. The Northwest Region | The Evangelical Theological Society” “I was at the Northwest Regional ETS meeting today, and attended a paper being read on Luther and Divine Impassibility. During the Q&A, when I asked a question, the presenter said: “yeah, I’m aware of your writings.” It actually caught me off guard a bit (in a good way).” “I’ve realized it’s much easier for me to articulate my thoughts in print than it is in word.” “Being involved with academic theology can take many forms, from various motivations.” “Biblical interpretation is not regulated by church tradition, but by Christ. If not, it no longer becomes possible for God’s Word to contravene ours.” “At a certain point you just have to recognize that classical classical theist proponents will just always be that. It’s not that classical theism is heretical, but that it is static; seemingly impervious to any sort of constructive engagement.” “Theology can become a place where you get lost, if you’re not careful.” “If you haven’t read both volumes you really need to!” “I know theological knowledge has all kinds of eternal depth to it, but if it doesn’t start with “Jesus is the Answer, What’s the Question,” then you’ll only get as deep as the abstractive human mind will allow.” “Wow, all I shared on FB was that “credobaptism is what the Bible teaches,” and people lost their minds on that. Forgot how contentious that is. I offer a qualified conception of credobaptism.” “Thankfully Jesus is not contingent upon social media.” “One thing that bothers me online is when people—typically because of their biological age—presume to be a pastor over me. I don’t do that.” “It’s sort of nice to know that you can just unplug from social media, and live in the real world now and again. Almost as if God is present beyond the ethernet of virtual.” “I’d say most of theological Twitter that I’m aware of, is populated by millennials. We need some more GenXrs.” “Just came across this. KJV does a good job explaining TFT’s kataphysics. Kevin Vanhoozer, T. F. Torrance’s Kataphysical Poetics:” “Without holiness we will not see God. Unrepentant sin can stand in the way of us being able to know God in deeper ways. Thus love of God ought to drive us to holiness, with the hope of being able to see God with clearer eyes of faith.” “Gender is not a social construct—maybe talking about gender is—gender is something that God looked at, originally, and said: “this is very good.” “We truly are a depraved people. Kyrie elesion.” “Sort of strange: I do academic theology, not because I aspire to be an academic, but because I aspire to know Jesus more deeply.” “My wife sells doterra essential oils. We have been using them for two years, and they have been beneficial to our health. Babylon Bee made fun again of them yesterday. I stood up for them. And received a viral, mean, vicious attack from hundreds. Sickening! Makes me reconsider what in the world is actually going on out there. Crazy when you think probably most readers of Babylon Bee are so called conservative evangelical Christians. Ruthless, sick culture in so many ways!” “Nihilism is anti-Christ. If you take a good long look at the world, that’s what is operative at almost every level these days. It’s the philosophy of self-destruction, and self mutilation; with the goal of a solipsistic self-actualization in the midst of the chaos.” “The cross tells us what we don’t want to hear. It tells us our hearts are just as wicked as the wickedness things we can imagine, and even more. People don’t want to hear that, but that’s the truth of the Gospel.” “Barth’s understanding of the darkness of sin is based only in the illumination given by the depth of what it took to vanquish it from this world scene and the hearts of men and women, boys and girls.” “It’s pretty interesting: people seem to think because they’re “good people” they aren’t as guilty before God as terrorists; in their heart. This is a delusion that leads “good people” to hell. Hell, not just eschatologically, but hell presently as they live in the absence of God.” “When most of the world realizes the whole thing is “in Christ,” according to Scripture, unfortunately, it will be too late.” “It’s amazing things people will say on social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, when in face to face contact they wouldn’t dare to say what they say. It is this sort of “virtual” space that can create ideas that aren’t actually real, but artivirtual.” “The Father isn’t the Father without the Son, nor is the Son the Son without the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit without the Father and the Son, nor is the Father the Father or the Son the Son without the Holy Spirit.” “For the outside world religion[s] all seem imperceptible and hard to see anything distinguishable; as if it’s all a matter of people believing in basically the same sort of mythology with different names and symbols. They fail to recognize they have their own religion[s].” “Just like metaphysics needed to be evangelized, so does Twitter.” “If you can’t seem to get into systematic or dogmatic theology reading so much, at least read the Bible over and again; its reality will never let you down.” “I often think about God by the perspective provided for by the cosmos, and the nether reaches of deep space. The depth and width of God, all encompassed for us in the face of Christ, is utterly overwhelming and worship-forming.” “What if we just wrote tweets for God, as if directly for His audience? I wonder what they’d look and sound like.” “Twitter and other like platforms shouldn’t be confused for God’s approval. “Likes” and “Favorites” should not come to stand in for God’s approval of you. His approval is purely based upon His love and grace for you in Jesus Christ.” “Writing social media posts—while a nice way to outlet thoughts—should not be done for purposes of gaining followers or showing others how brilliant you may or may not be. We live before God coram Deo, not men or women. Here, we can offer ourselves for others.” “If you ever thought classism wasn’t a thing in the Christian world, think again.” “Theological information overload on the interweb is a thing.” “As a Christian you never stand alone; did you know that? Even if you feel alone, even if you feel like an insignificant nothing in a world of somethings, this just isn’t the case. We have the very value and reality of God standing in and behind us; all around us, with every step we take. We have resource available to us, in Christ, that we rarely press into. But as we walk with the eyes of faith, the eyes of Christ, we can come to live a life within the realization that in our weakness God in Christ is strong for us. Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit saith the LORD. This is the ‘wisdom of the Cross.’” “If there is anything *systemic* in our culture today, it is systemic cognitive dissonance. But this is the sort of culture so called metaphysical rebels construct for themselves. There is an order in the new creation, and as such living out of its order entails a life of anxiety.” “Social cliques don’t stay together in the eschaton. The wheat and the chaff are finally divided.” “When you listen to most “Bible teaching,” via preaching, it rarely represents actual engagement with the text and context of the passage ostensibly being taught.” “What I’ve found is that reality is never quite as sensational as we often are led to think by the “reality-makers.” That is, unless we are talking about God; then it is more sensational than we can even begin to imagine.”

Oh, my goodness! Laugh Out Loud, and here I didn’t think I Tweeted that much. This gets us current to today’s date: 03/21/2019. I guess if nothing else what I just established is that I am a genuine theological-Tweeter.

As I read through these though, what stood out to me was the Christological character that attended most of them; that encourages me. I Tweet like everyone else, at random times, whenever a thought or two hits me that I’d like to unload for the rest of the world to see. At the end of the day, theological “onlining,” for my purposes, serves as a place to offload ‘some’ of the theological thoughts that percolate through my head each day. Crazily, to me, what I just shared only represents the tip of the iceberg, in regard to what I am actually thinking about; i.e. what in fact prompts what I end up Tweeting or Facebooking.

My goal is to live a life that bears witness to Jesus Christ; not just on social media, but, indeed, on social media as an overflow of my in-persona lived life. Reflecting on God in Jesus Christ is a never-ending reality that can only be sourced by God who is extra nos; sourced by a reality who is truly outside and distinct, but for us in Christ. It is in this Holy encounter that happens afresh and anew each moment of each day wherein genuine Life is found and given. It is something that as the Prophet Jeremiah stated ‘even when I tried to contain it I couldn’t because it was like fire burning in my bones.’ This is how I feel about my encounter with the living God. It is not something I can or want to contain. I want to share what I am experiencing and thinking and being confronted with, vis-à-vis God, as much as I can; and with whomever wants to listen and fellowship around that witness. Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

 

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A Brief History on My Theological Blogging Career and Its Christ Concentrated Orientation

Theological blogging has been a formative thing for me since I started doing it in the Spring of 2005. This current iteration of my blogging life is the longest standing url and location I’ve been since I started blogging. My first blog was called The Stumbling Block and I used the now defunct ‘blogsome’ (WP based) as my host and platform. From that original blog I probably had ten other iterations with various urls and platforms (including Blogger, WordPress, and Typepad as my hosts). I finally settled in with this current blog in 2009, and have stuck with it since. I originally was going to use this blog to promote my work, along with Myk Habets, on what we call Evangelical Calvinism (given further clarification in our two edited volumes 2012 and 2017, respectively); but I obviously have turned it into my general theological medium.

What is it about theological blogging, that for me, is so therapeutic? Blogging, for me, represents a place where I can post my daily theological thoughts in a way that has the benefit of not only being beneficial for me, but maybe others. Writing with the idea that my own theological self-expression might also serve the dual purpose of edifying the church has always impassioned me. You see, believe it or not, I love God’s people and His church; first because I love God. And in lieu of meeting my aspirations to be involved in church ministry or being a theology professor, blogging has helped fill in that basic gap in my life and orientation. When I went to Bible College and Seminary my first intention was to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, personally; but my second intention was to do so, so I might be used of the Lord to edify His church. Because of a variety of circumstances, mostly having to do with ‘market demands’ (i.e. what the churches are looking for in their pastors; and what Bible Colleges and Seminaries require for professorships e.g. being PhDd [which is unfortunate]), the door to full-time Christian ministry has been closed to me. But what hasn’t been closed is my passion to know God, and my desire to edify Christ’s church. This is the lacuna, in my life, that the blog has helped to fill. It has allowed me to network with many others in the theological world, and make contacts that outwith the blog would never have been made.

At a more visceral level, blogging has helped me channel my thoughts into a more constructive and articulate way, that without it they may only have remained as intangible thought-waves floating around in the sea of my synapses left undiscovered (by me). In other words, as I have in my sidebar “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”[1] It is as I write that, in a way, I teach myself. The writing itself brings forth notions that I have maybe subconsciously picked up through my various readings, and hadn’t actually realized were there until I simply sat down and started writing and reflecting. This is probably the most exciting thing to me about blogging, and what you’ll notice is that it isn’t contingent upon other’s approval. Blogging is indeed a moment of self-expression, wherein there is an unrestrained (pretty much) level of freedom just to write whatever I want when I want; this in itself has a liberative affect promoting further writing, reading, and reflection. And so, I write mostly for myself, at the end of the day; but I am also very hopeful that in this process it still has some sort of capacity to benefit others as well.

It is all the aforementioned ingredients that motivate me to continue blogging. I will continue to blog, Lord willing, until my fingers and synapses no longer work. I actually need to blog for my own mental and emotional well being and health. I am prone to despondency and deep turns into the self and inner-recesses of my own mind; none of these things are healthy, indeed, they have been quite destructive for me in my past. And so, blogging, at the end of the day, functions as a balm, or even a cure for this sort of despondency; as a medium it has the compellation of taking me outside of myself, and putting myself on ‘paper.’ But it isn’t simply a psychological maneuver I am referring to; NEIN. It is the THEOLOGICAL aspect of my blogging that is the succor for me. It isn’t just me taking myself out of myself and putting me on paper, it is the Lord Jesus Christ who has called me to Himself and shown me that my life is grounded in His; that my life has an ec-static reality to it, in His extra life for me. It is this extra in Christ wherein my blogging is given ultimate motivation and shape. It is my desire to know God in Jesus Christ that motivates me to write, and to continue to write; it is my desire to pursue Him with all that I am in and from Him that endures me to the writing process that is inextricable to being a ‘blogger.’ And so, I like to think that it is my theology itself, Christ concentrated as it is, that drives me to continue blogging and writing; for myself and the church.

Thus, the form of my blogging, Christ-conditioned as it is, is given material heft and trajectory by the books that this sort of Christic conditioning lead me to. I focus on historical and constructive theology, and the sorts of authors who I think do that best; because of this commitment to know God in Jesus Christ. As such my blog posts, in the main, have the sort of shape and character they do precisely because of the sort of theology I am committed to. This might seem like a self-evident explication, but it is interesting to me, as I look at my posts over the years, how the primary shape of them has mostly to do with a Christ concentrated way of thinking and writing. I take this as a gift from the Lord; I mean the focus He has built into me towards being obsessed with Jesus as the center of all theological programming; just as He is the center and teleology of all life and purpose.

Maybe this has given you a little more insight into my blogging career and why I do what I do. If you’re a reader I thank you for your support, and hopefully some of my desire to edify you all has and does take place through the variety of my various postings. Blessings.

[1] St. Augustine cited by John Calvin.

Phil Johnson, of the Pyromaniacs, is Out of Blogging Retirement: In Good Form

When I started blogging back in 2005, Phil Johnson did too; the Phil Johnson of what became the Pyromaniacs. For all intents and purposes I was genuinely a troll at his blog, but that was when most people on blogs were trolls; that was the time before trolls even knew there was such a thing. My intentions were anything but being trollish. I used to challenge them, and their readers, to at least admit that they had a theological superstructure informing the way they read the Bible and arrive at their exegetical conclusions. I used to inform that that Thomism and classical theism was their informing theology; and I did this ad infinitum. After many years I finally quit engaging with them at all, but that took me some time to get to. In the mean time Phil Johnson retired his Pyromaniacs blog, and it has been such for the last six years plus. I’ve also moved on during that time, writing most of my blog posts with the intention of, at the very least, offering some positive thought on some theological loci that I am covering through my various theological readings. Anyway, Phil just came out of retirement; he believes, in the fullness of time, that the evangelical world, inclusive of The Gospel Coalition, is sliding headlong into progressive immoralism of all sorts (in some ways I don’t disagree with him in a general sense—although I do disagree with him in regard to TGC).

Since Phil has made a come-back, and given my history with his blog, out of nostalgia, I started making some comments on his first real post; surprisingly I found myself defending TGC. Apparently Phil believes that I’m just attempting to use his blog as a grand-standing event for myself, and so wrote the following comment to me (this is the most pertinent part that I wanted to highlight):

(This final thought applies to you in particular because of my long track record with your style of commenting. But it’s not for you alone; this is for all the propagandists on the evangelical fringe who seem think my return to blogging was a signal for them to come swarming out out [sic] from under the dumpster, or wherever):

The comments on my blog are as open as possible in order to provide a forum for conservative evangelicals to discuss whatever topic is raised in the post. Theological renegades who want to use my blog-comments as a soapbox in order to advance their own neo-orthodox agenda (or any other post-evangelical schema) will find themselves unceremoniously blocked from commenting further. Last warning.[1]

For the more soft-skinned this might make their feelings get hurt; for me, it gave me warm-fuzzies. It reminded me of the good old Pyromaniacs troll days, and brought back some fun memories. But it also reminded me why I’m glad those are just memories, and ones that I’ve moved beyond.

In regard to Phil’s view of me: He thinks I’m a propagandist; go look at his blog and tell me who fits that better. He thinks I’m ‘evangelical-fringe’; most conservative evangelicals I know who know about the Pyromaniacs think they’re not for serious (I’m being nice). He thinks I’m neo-orthodox; Barth wasn’t, I’m not. He seems to think I’m post-evangelical; only if MacArthur represents evangelicalism. He thinks I’m a theological-renegade; the Pharisees thought Jesus was one too. He thinks I came ‘swarming out from under the dumpster’; the Apostle Paul said he ‘is considered the scum of the earth.’

I mean I feel in pretty good company.

[1] Source.

‘The Greatest Threat to Faith Today is not Hedonism but Distraction’: ‘Being Human’

The following quote from Andrew Sullivan[1] might sound, at a theological level, rather pelagian; but I think it represents some rather good cultural commentary on where the church is at in the 21st century—particularly for those of us in low church North American evangelicalism. Sullivan’s article, from which the following quote is taken, is a lament on the devastating effects the smartphone beinghumanculture has had on western societies; he calls it “living-in-the-web.” He is lamenting the impact that technology has had upon the human psyche, such that quiet places and silence (in our heads) is a thing of the past. Indeed, Sullivan himself, refers to himself as a social-media addict, and he actually went to “treatment” to disabuse himself of it (which cost him money, since he made money as a social-media and business personality). What I found striking about his critique was how he applied it, in the following paragraph, to the church; as an evangelical this insight hits very close to home, and resonates deeply with my own lived experience. Sullivan writes:

If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation. Christian leaders seem to think that they need more distraction to counter the distraction. Their services have degenerated into emotional spasms, their spaces drowned with light and noise and locked shut throughout the day, when their darkness and silence might actually draw those whose minds and souls have grown web-weary. But the mysticism of Catholic meditation — of the Rosary, of Benediction, or simple contemplative prayer — is a tradition in search of rediscovery. The monasteries — opened up to more lay visitors — could try to answer to the same needs that the booming yoga movement has increasingly met.[2]

There has, of course, been a kind of movement called ancient church that has indeed attempted to resource some of these types of contemplative and even mystical spaces from the past. But of course, when something like that is artificially generated, among evangelicals in my case, it loses that actual space we are seeking; it becomes all too self-focused, and identity driven. Anyway, I thought Sullivan’s point about ‘distraction’ versus ‘hedonism’ was a valid one; even if the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive in the way he seems to intimate.

 

[1] H/T: Jason Goroncy, he shared the link to Sullivan’s article via his blog in his post: ‘i used to be a human being.’

[2] Andrew Sullivan, I Used to be a Human Being, accessed online 10-22-2016.

Blogspotting Two Evangelical Calvinist Blogs

I would like to do a blog spotting post and highlight my new friend’s blog Reformissio. Jonathan Kleis is its founder and author, and I think you will be encouraged by what Jonathan is doing with his new blog; I am! Jonathan and his family have been missionaries (still are) in Italy, and he is just finishing up an MA in theology through Irish Bible Institute which is accredited by York St. John University, UK. To my great delight Jonathan is a proponent of evangelical Calvinism, and as you will see at his blog he is all about working out EC’s implications, and exposing people to EC’s trajectory and mood within the broader landscape of the Reformed faith. Please check out and subscribe to Jonathan’s blog, and be edified as you read the good things he will be communicating through it. One very exciting aspect of Jonathan’s online work is that he plans in the future to not only blog from an EC perspective in English, but he also plans on having an Italian version of his blog where he hopes to expose Italian speakers to the contours of thought offered by evangelical Calvinism.

Click here to venture over to Jonathan’s blog: Reformissio.

And then for his most recent post, which is kicking off a series, Jonathan is going to work out an EC version of the TULIP (something I have done here, but Jonathan is going to spell it out further than I did in my post). Reforming Calvinism, pt. 1: Introduction

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I also wanted to highlight one other EC blog which is operated by Caleb Smith. Caleb’s blog, which has been around for awhile, is called The Nicene Nerd, and he has been about the work of articulating and promoting evangelical Calvinism for quite a few years now. It is encouraging to read his insights and the way he has and is appropriating EC, and its mood, for himself; I think you will benefit from reading his posts as well.

Click here to head over to Caleb’s fine blog: The Nicene Nerd.

Die Evangelischen Theologen: Travis’ Barth Book Writing Contest

My long time blogging friend, [W.] Travis McMaken, PhD Princeton, and the one who originally introduced (along with Halden Doerge–almost on the same day, it was ordained) me to Thomas Torrance, is having a westminsterkarlbarthwriting contest for his blog. The winner will get a  copy of The Westminster Handbook to Karl Barth. Here’s what Travis writes in the first half of his post alerting us to this contest:

That’s right, folks! This is your chance to win a free copy of the newly publishedWestminster Handbook to Karl Barth (WJK, 2013) edited by Richard Burnett. This looks like a very handy volume for folks starting out in Barth studies, or who are interested in a more thematic presentation of Barth’s thought.

Westminster John Knox was kind enough to send DET a review copy of the book. Luckily for you, gentle readers, they did so about a week after I had received my pre-ordered copy. So now I’m giving you a chance to get a free book. Here’s how this is going to work…

To become eligible for the prize, you will need to send a short (500-750 word) “essay” (blog post, etc.) in response to the prompt:

Why and / or how (i.e., in what manner) should Karl Barth remain an important theological voice in 21st century theology? (click here for the rest of Travis word’s)

So if you are a budding Barth scholar in the making, or just want to know more about Karl Barth and his theology out of intrigue; then I challenge you to submit a short essay (I mean really, 500 words is a page of written script … so not much) to Travis, and his blog Die Evangelischen Theologen; you just might become the lucky winner of a brand new shiny copy of The Westminster Handbook to Karl Barth. Good luck, and godspeed!  Oh, and don’t shoot your eye out kid …

The ‘Grammar’ of the Church of Jesus

This is not the first, and I am sure it won’t be the last, but I am stealing a whole post (quote) from the venerable Jason Goroncy. I am sure some of you don’t venture over to Jason’s (which you should), and so I will reproduce a councilquote about theology that he has offered over at his blog (awhile ago). Here is the quote and my reflection afterwords:

‘Liberals are right that the language we use as Christians is not “literally” true; rather, it is figurative, poetic, imaginative language. But the orthodox are right in a more profound way: for the language of imagination – which is to say, biblical language – is the only language we have for thinking and speaking of God, and we receive it as the gift of the Holy Spirit. Theology deceives itself if it conceives of its task as translating the figurative language of scripture and piety into some more nearly literal discourse about God. The theologian’s job is not to tell fellow believers what they really mean; rather, it is to help the church speak more faithfully the language of the Christian imagination. The theologian is not a translator but a grammarian’. – Richard Bauckham and Trevor Hart, ‘The Shape of Time’ in The Future as God’s Gift: Explorations in Christian Eschatology (ed. David Fergusson and Marcel Sarot; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), 86. [Quote stolen from here]

I first came to think about what happened, for example, at the ecumenical councils as simply a matter of providing a right and proximate grammar for the demands of scripture’s theo-logic and God’s Self-revelation in Christ by way of Thomas F. Torrance (maybe six years ago). There are many people out in the world (usually cults like: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitary-Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal churches, etc.) who argue or are prone to believe that doctrines like the Trinity, and Hypostatic Union of the Divine and Human in the person of Jesus Christ have come to be as a result of inventive violation of the pure text of Scripture; with the result being that these later articulations of the Patristic church ended up hybriding Scripture and God’s life by foisting fabricated and artificial concepts upon God in Christ that Scripture does not allow for.

What Bauckham and Hart helpfully highlight is that this is a misperception. The early church, and theologians even today, are not supposed to be creating doctrines and interpretations that supersede Scripture and its Reality; instead they are tasked with the privilege of inventing grammar to help the Church of Christ better think and talk about the Triune God who they worship, and in ways that make most sense as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. That is why the work of the theologian is never done, he or she is involved in the constant spiraling process of engendering grammar that is faithful to Scripture’s witness and Reality, Jesus Christ; and as the Church continues to grow into that knowledge the grammar needs to expand and build upon the faithful grammar provided in the yesteryears of our past.

I liked this quote, and I hope you find it encouraging as well.

A New Testament Studies Blog

I’m going to start a second blog, not a rare thing for me to try 😉 . This will be my primary and ongoing theological blog, but I have an itch to start another themed blog that is focused on New Testament studies (which is really what my Masters degree is in, as far as major focus). So this is other blog is entitled Jesus Confession, and can be found by clicking on ‘Jesus Confession’ or by clicking here: http://jesusconfession.blogspot.com

I think different blogs take on different themes, and my writing done under The Evangelical Calvinist name has taken on a certain theme and mode of discourse; the mode is primarily theological and Christian Dogmatic in orientation; and so this is why I am going to start another blog which will have a completely different (but ultimately related) theme of consideration. I will be focusing, at first anyway, on the writings of Richard Bauckham, N.T. Wright, Craig Keener, and various other New Testament and Biblical scholars. I have an adept interest in what has become known as Jesus Studies as well as Paul Studies; and I also continue to have an interest in the Greek New Testament, which I minored in undergrad, and majored in grad school (my Masters program). And so what I will be writing about at my New Testament blog will also get into Greek New Testament stuff in particular; I will also be discussing hermeneutical theory (which will overlap with theological concerns, since I follow a theological exegetical practice, a “Christ conditioned” one), amongst other things.

Anyway, carry on; if this new blog sounds interesting to you (besides my blog here), then check that one out too.

Is ‘Evangelicalism’ Collapsing?

In our recently released book (Evangelical Calvinism: Essays Resourcing the Continuing Reformation of the Church), in the introductory chapter (which Myk and I co-wrote) we address and seek to clarify how it is that we understand the politically charged language of Evangelical relative to our usage of that lingo in our chosen nomenclature of ‘Evangelical’ Calvinism. Yesterday, Brian LePort wrote a post for his blog entitled: A Coming Evangelical Collapse?; in the post LePort offers examples of people and posts that might illustrate this portending trend. I think, though, in order to adequately answer this question—is Evangelicalism collapsing on itself?—we need to define what in fact this rather amorphous term might mean. The fact of the matter is that there are different ways to define this term; there is the more contemporary loose application of this term when it is used to define the by and large phenomenon of the American and parts of the Western church (Roger Olson is helpful in describing this kind of Evangelicalism). But then there is another understanding of the language of Evangelical which is what Myk and I try to describe in the opening chapter of our book. This other understanding represents a more historic usage of this terminology, and thus provides a more theologically rich account of what it might mean to be Evangelical; here it is:

The word “Evangelical” carries something of a three-fold significance. First, and most importantly, we believe the readings of the Reformed traditions offered in this book hope to remain consistent to the witness of Holy Scripture—the euangelion—and thus it is evangelical primarily in this way. This is also what makes it thoroughly Reformed. Second, it is, we believe, a theology that is genuinely “good news.” That all are created good by God, that all are included in Christ’s salvific work, and that salvation is by grace alone and Christ alone is truly good news. And finally, it is Evangelical in that it does share a common boundary with that movement known as Evangelicalism. Evangelicalism as used here denotes a movement that is biblical, that is reformational, that is, it affirms the formal and material principles of the Reformation: sola scriptura and of justification by faith alone. An Evangelicalism of this type is self-consciously post fundamentalist in it commitment to the Word of God and the task of world evangelization within transdenominational fellowships. It is these common commitments which enable an Evangelical Calvinism to legitimately embrace more than one denominational tradition. [Myk Habets and Bobby Grow eds., Evangelical Calvinism: Essays Resourcing the Continuing Reformation of the Church, (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2012), 10-11.]

Is Evangelicalism collapsing? Maybe parts of it. But can the the kind of Evangelicalism that Myk and I describe actually collapse? I don’t think so! As long as Jesus Christ as the ground and center of what defines an “Evangelical” Christianity; as long as commitment to his Holy Scriptures as the norming norm of Christian faith and practice is understood as central and definitive witness to Jesus Christ and what it means to be a free and Evangelical Christian; then I don’t see how it is truly possible for a Reformed Evangelical Christ conditioned Evangelicalism to collapse. Maybe the vestiges of the man made ghettos of Evangelicalism are collapsing, but, then, those should collapse.