A warning to Christian Carnivalers. I kind of like Frank Sinatra’s I Did It My Way. Please understand if I choose to editorialize. It’s a sign of interest on my part, and is intended to encourage others to click through to your post(s).
For many Christians, the Lenten Fast began on Clean Monday, two days ago. God forgives and I forgive, forgive me also. For others, today, Ash Wednesday, begins the season of Lent.
A lot of Christians deem this an appropriate season for self-examination but also, for cultivating spiritual and intellectual disciplines for the purpose of taking on the mind of Christ. In a series, Tom Gilson builds on the insights of the great evangelical reformer and politician William Wilberforce (1759-1833); the latest installment: Ten Resources For Thinking Christianly.
Jeremy Pierce of Parablemania is not impressed by the suggestion that the magnificent dress of the priests of Aaron is a precedent for magnificent holy vestments today. In Jeremy’s mind, the (entirely predictable) worship attire of a Rick Warren is just as acceptable as the (entirely predictable) worship attire of a Tom Wright.
It is hard to argue with this in the abstract. In practice of course, Warren could not get away with dressing like Wright or Wright like Warren. They belong to different orders, as it were, within the Christian family. It might be considered a strength and a sign of catholicity if, within one and the same body, some elements dressed in accordance with standards of priestly magnificence; others, in accordance with the austere standards of John the Baptist; others still, in accordance with the ordinary standards of decorum and modesty (these constantly change) of a particular time and place.
I can’t quite tell if Jeremy means to argue against de facto and de jure standards of dress on the part of subsets of worshippers beyond those dictated by conventional modesty. That might be a problem, in the sense of going against the grain of much of the practice of some of God’s witnesses in the Bible first of all, and in history since. It’s not surprising really that “head coverings for women” were a point of contention in Corinth, but have been a non-issue in some other contexts. As Paul says, “Judge for yourselves!” and “Hasn’t it always been done this way?” Perhaps Jeremy just wants to say that Franciscans may dress and otherwise behave according to whatever gospel precedents they wish, so long as the rules of that order or another order are not universalized for the entire body.
Ridge Burns of Ridge’s Blog notes how little decisions we make can take on a huge importance. Henry Neufeld of the Participatory Bible Study blog notes how easy it is for us to look down on rituals and ceremonies and good works. In the course of teaching for the season of Lent, he lifts up the possibility of sacrificing for joy. Jody Neufeld of Jody’s Devotionals blogs very movingly on the birthday of her son who while still a very young man died of cancer. The post is an ode to prayer, a powerful one at that. J. Timothy King over at J. Timothy King’s Blog explains why he is a Christian and a novelist, but not a Christian novelist. Great stuff.
Rey at The Bible Archive seeks to describe the unfolding of God’s covenant with Abraham through the Old Testament. Claudia Pate of Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness notes how David runs quickly to the battle line in 1 Samuel 17 and how this is worth modeling in the Christian life. William Meisheid of Beyond the Rim posts an inspirational video. The question in the hymn, “God, are my hands clean?”, goes back to Psalm 24. Right worship (orthodoxy) and right ethics (orthopraxis) are inextricably bound together in the psalm. Christianity anchors itself in this conviction, or it loses it way.
Matt Flanagan of MandM is thinking about inerrancy (here and here). Matt writes exceptionally well. He makes one good point after another. Still, I think the two poles he posits, Verbal Plenary Inspiration (VPI) and Didactic Plenary Inspiration (DPI), represent a false dichotomy. I hold to both: VPI “that each and every word used in the Bible is exactly the word that God wanted used,” and DPI “the question to be asked with respect to a Biblical text is “what was it intended to teach?”; “the particular message that God wants to convey gets across.” I also hold that God superintended the transmission (SPI) of the text such that it was, over time, faithfully edited and translated, and is, for all intensive purposes, just as inerrant in the Septuagint as it is in the MT; in the Textus Receptus as in Nestle-Aland; in the NIV as in the KJV. Finally, I hold that the correct conveyance of the message that God wants to gets across depends on the present work of the Holy Spirit (HSPI). Any other position, in my view, has too dim a view of God’s providence. Since Matt likes to refer to the “originals” which we do not have, and applies the language of inerrancy to them alone, I am left to assume, which is absurd, that he considers the NIV or KJV Bible (or whatever) read and preached on in church on a given Sunday to be an errant text. Matt: you have just been hazed by a biblical blogger. Please consider it a token of respect.
NCSue of In Him We Live and Move and Have Our Being notes how self-proclaimed freedom fighters often seem intent on taking away freedom from others. It raises an interesting problem: is it possible to safeguard the freedom of the relatively defenseless without limiting and in severe cases taking away the freedom of predators? I think not.
If that is the case, the real question, as often, is more basic: what is right, and what is wrong. For example, is the abortion of a three-month or six-month old unborn child a predatory act on a defenseless life? Truth be told, I can think of many other uncomfortable questions of this kind, questions which nonetheless need to be considered by people who wish to be responsible moral agents.
A very slick site, inspiks, includes a post about the color yellow and Jesus (go here). WWJS? Fadi tells us why he thinks that Jesus is OK with his liking the color yellow. I guess I’m not completely surprised that a male needs a bit of reassurance if he likes the color yellow. As for me, I need a bit of reassurance that inspiks is a bona fide blog. It looks more like a commercial site masquerading as a blog. But I like its use of color!
Anthony Delgado of E Inquisitive is tiptoeing through the tulip of Calvinism - and the flowerless alternative thereto, Arminianism. In this post, he says, “Give me a P!” [Perseverance], but also, “Take away a U!” (Unconditional Election). What’s that spell?
I’m not sure it spells anything quite yet. Literally and figuratively, I think Anthony needs to add a vowel or two. I wonder whether he has watched The Truman Show. I love that film, a long meditation on Psalm 139. Since the film highlights the sense in which freedom is a core constituent of love and, at the same time, the sense in which love is an act of (ultimately irrational, or non-rational, yet extremely goal-oriented) unconditional election, I still want to say “Give me a U!” All of the letters in TULIP preach well enough, but I admit some of them are often preached very poorly.