procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

providence v sovereignty

well, after my ponderings a couple of weeks ago, i had a look, and wouldn't you know it - there is a Providence - Providence, Rhode Island:
just nor-west of Nantucket (isn't there a poem about a chap from those parts?), and i'm a little dubious as to what qualifies Rhode Island as an Island - either it's just a region under the jurisdiction of the island, or it never was an island, they just thought there was a lot of water (seasonal flooding, perhaps?), or there are now so many roads, tunnels, bridges, that the term island is simply an anachronism now.

but my question, after pondering, and before my Doctrine essay due in on Monday, is:

What is the difference between Providence and Sovereignty?

i look up one book, it ways sovereignty, another providence, but in my mind they are slightly different things.
Sovereignty is to say that God is complete control, that not a sparrow falls from the sky without his willing it; whereas Providence is to do with nothing being able to thwart the culmination of God's plan of redemption.

it seems to me a distortion to conflate these two - but is it really just Orangen and Äpfelsinen (that is, six of one, half a dozen of another)?

any help (before Monday, preferably) would be most helpful.

* (map obviously from google maps - not sure how to give exact long/lat references.)

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

blokes and sheilas in Galatians 3 (reprieve)

thinking and chatting some more about Galatians 3:28,
οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.
i wrote about it previously here.
basically the greek says there is no, because of Jesus, all who are baptised into him are one: no more Greek/Jew, slave/free, male&female.
the problem is most translators translate it male/female. which seems directly contrary to the difference in the pattern.

it's like telling a joke where the Englishman, Irishman and Scot all do precisely the same thing. it doesn't make sense and isn't funny (unless you dislike all 3 nationalities!). this is not to say Paul's telling a joke here, but he's obviously doing something by saying no more "male and female".

whilst happy to be convinced, following conversations this week i think it's saying that although there is no place in God's new Kingdom for the slaves/master dichotomy, nor for the divides over who is in the covenant and who is out based on their nationalities - for we are all one in Christ.
what clearly does not happen is that maleness and femaleness is dissolved (cf the Gospel of Thomas 114*). rather, maleness and femaleness is part of God's good creation, there is nothing sinful or fallen about being male and(/or!) female.
what it may mean then is the complete opposite to the pseudepigraphical Gospel of Thomas! that there is no gender basis on which your importance, your ranking, your importance to God, the depth of his love poured out for you in Jesus, is judged.

i don't think this is all, but i do think it preserves the innate goodness of God's creation, and the maintenance of that in the new, but it also does away with the false way that these things are seen in the eyes of sinful people, who constantly look for ways to push others down, to identify with the in-crowd, or to despise the authority figure(s) - the common love of your group, the common hatred of the other.

* 114) Simon Peter said to Him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life." Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

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Monday, July 28, 2008

last week's talk

went a bit like this one:
i should add: except for the asking questions bit at the end.
it made a change from the way i normally picture myself as preaching - start watching about 10 seconds before the end to see that style!

if you're interested, the talk was from Luke 4:31-44, was called:
Confronting Jesus :: The King with Authority (it was part of a series we're doing called confronting Jesus, or for the oldies: encountering Jesus!
and it went a bit like this:
  • 31-32 Authority to Teach
  • 33-37 Authority to cast out Evil Spirits
  • 38-39 Authority to cast out Sickness
  • 40-41 Authority of the Christ
  • 42-44 Authority for the Kingdom

i thought it went ok. had a bit of fun.
the wordle:

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

a wedding telegram of sorts

I will sing for joy in GOD,
explode in praise from deep in my soul!
He dressed me up in a suit of salvation,
he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo
and a bride a jewelled tiara.

For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers,
and as a garden cascades with blossoms,
So the Master, GOD, brings righteousness into full bloom
and puts praise on display before the nations.
- Isaiah 61:10-11, The Message

(click on pic to view at original location)

while i was at an accordance (mac bible software) seminar today, some friends were getting married. and i'm preaching tomorrow morning on this passage*, which i can now read in dozens of different translations at a glance, because of my new software.

it all comes together so nicely!

i pray Nath and Kat would continue to look forward, from their great day, to this even greater one.

* well, Luke 4:31-44 but my OT reading is Isaiah 61

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Dogmatik im Grundriß I

finally started reading this after buying it way back when (see here).

despite a semester of Biblical Theology at bible skool, with a focus on how this is different to other 'theologies', i think it's only now in reading these 1947 lectures by Karl Barth that i've read a clear explanation of where Exegesis (which includes Biblical Theology), Dogma (Systematic Theology) and Practical Theology fit together.
Es gibt in der Theologie die Frage nach der Quelle, nach dem Woher des Wortes, und die Antwort auf diese erste Frage wird immer wieder zu geben sein in jener Disziplin, die wir Exegese nennen.
Auf der andere Seite aber erhebt sich auch die Frage nach dem Wie, nach der Form und Gestalt der Verkündigung, die der Kirche aufgetragen ist, und dort befinden wir uns auf dem Felde dessen, was man die praktische Theologie nennt.
Genau in der Mitte zwischen Exegese und praktischer Theolgie steht die Dogmatik oder umfassender ausgedrückt: die systematischer Theologie. In der Dogmatik fragen wir nicht: Woher stammt - und nicht: Wie gestaltet sich die kirchliche Verkündigung, sondern in der Dogmatik fragen wir: Was haben wir zu denken und zu sagen? [...] im Blick darauf, dass wir nicht nur theoretisch etwas zu sagen haben, sondern etwas in die Welt hinein rufen sollen.
so basically, in Exegesis we have the source (die Quelle), on the other side, asking 'how?', we have practical theology. and in the middle, coming out of the one, and informing the other, we then have Dogma, or ST, which is we have to think and to say. and it is not just in theory, but rather, Dogma is rather something we can cry out into the world.

i don't think i was ever encouraged to think of ST in this way. but ST, for example in creeds (see here for a fun discussion on creeds!), as Barth works through in the rest of this book, is what we believe, it is thus what we should speak to the world. not so much a how, but perhaps a what. this is i guess why creeds are so controversial (see aforementioned blog to see this played out), as simply stating what it is you believe, what you think, can be really confronting.

especially in a world of relativism and post-modernity, it is particularly important to wtate that we do believe something, something in particular, something to the exception of all else.

quotations from Karl Barth, Dogmatik im Grundriß, Theologischer Verlag Zürich: 1947 (2006 reprint), p12-13.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

love, providence & Doors of the Sea

love is not:
a reaction. in God, who is its transcendent origin and end, it is the one infinite and changeless act of being that makes all else actual, and so is purely positive, sufficient in itself, and without any need of contrariety to be fully vital and creative. As trinity, God [...] has not need of any external pathos to waken or fecundate his love. We are not necessary to him: he is not nourished by or sacrifices or ennobled by our virtues, any more than he is diminished by our sins and sufferings. [...] though he had no need of us, still he loved us when we were not. And this is why love, in its divine depth, is apatheia.
David Bentley Hart, Doors of the Sea 2005: p77

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:10

providence is not:
a small town in the midwest. well, it might be. in fact it probably is. i need to go to bed so can't be bothered checking.
but the point is, i never really considered what providence meant until quite near to the end of the Doors of the Sea.
to paraphrase Hart, Providence is the idea that God will not allow evil to subvert the bringing about of his Kingdom. it is not to say that he must use evil to bring it about, for that would be to grant evil a place it does not deserve. nor does providence collapse the transendence of God, and the rest of the created order, into one homogeneous amalgam, where God is not only sovereign over, but also one with, the evil deeds.
i think this is starting to make sense of what i've been struggling with for a while; this book along with conversations with friends, has been really helpful in trying to nut some of this stuff out.

scroll down to look for other posts about my thoughts on this book. there should be one more soon - the last.

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