Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Logical Fallacies in Dawkins

Peter S. Williams' list of 11 logical falacies into which Richard Dawkins falls can be found at:


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Music, Meaning and Bach

Just as we learn to speak a language, or to understand how meaning is conveyed in poetry, so there is a musical language – or more properly, languages – to be learnt.

Stapert, Calvin R., My Only Comfort: death, deliverance and discipleship in the Music of Bach (Grand Rapids MI / Cambridge UK, Eerdmans, 2000) is helpful (and accessible to the non-specialist) on how Bach “speaks”. Here are some examples of the techniques Bach uses to suggest meanings and associations (p14ff):

Music that suggests particular affects or emotions etc.:

A. In general:

Large, expansive musical intervals: joy;

Contractions: sorrow etc.

c.f. similar physical effects in the human body associated with these emotions

B. More specifically:

(1) Dance types associated with particular effects:

minuet: moderate cheerfulness;

gavotte: jubilation;

courante: sweet hopefulness.

(2) Styles:

French overture: dotted rhythms, ceremonial pomp e.g. victory celebration or funeral of king – other factors tell us which

(3) Instruments with associations:

trumpets: majesty, glory;

the oboe: love (in Bach);

can be used in combination: e.g. majestic love

(4) Compositional techniques:

canons are used (a) with associations of rule and authority, because of the meaning of the word “canon”, measuring stick, rule etc. (b) with ideas of following in imitation (e.g. discipleship) since this is what the parts in the musical canon do

(5) Keys with particular associations:

D Major: majesty and splendour;

E Minor, the central theme of St Matthew’s Passion, suffering

(6) Relationship / movements between keys:

Flats / lower: e.g. sorrow / milder / soft / feminine characteristics: e.g. gentleness, sympathy

Sharps / higher / harsher / hard / masculine characteristics: e.g. strength,

Flat or sharp could be used positively or negatively depending on context

(7) Use of melodies associated with particular lyrics without the words being used but with which listeners will still associate the music

(8) Form:

Chiastic structures – repetitions of the form ABCACBA – suggestive of the cross

Arrangements of the notes in the score so that they form crosses! (see diagram on p17)

(9) Number symbolism:

(a) 3: Trinity

10: 10 commandments, law


2: second person of the Trinity (Son);

33: Jesus’ age at the crucifixion;

5: Jesus’ wounds at crucifixion (hands, feet, side);

5: the 5 “mysteries” (revealed truths!) of Jesus’: incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, return

(b) Numbers assigned to letters: A,1; B,2 etc.

Possible number symbolism of Bach (14) and J. S. Bach (41) – disputed (see p17)

(c) Number of bars and notes in a work

(10) Notes used for letters: BACH = B flat, A, C, B natural (see p18)

Stapert gives a number of worked examples of these techniques, such as the key part of St Matthew’s Passion when the crowd shout “Crucify Him!” and the aria is “For love will my Saviour die” sung by disciples, soprano with flute and two oboes. The music is unique (in ways Stapert explains) in the Passion and so stands out as its interpretive heart.

As Stapert says, Baroque composers were not as bothered as the Romantics about being original. Like orators using rhetorical techniques, the Baroque spoke a common language with established conventions – an accepted musical parlance - and wanted to be understood.

Bach aims to persuade his listeners of the truth of the gospel and move them to the Christ-like virtues of discipleship. His music is an invitation.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

God the Father has no body

Here are some notes on The Incorporeality of the Father: God the Father does not have a body, mainly stolen from John M. Frame, Doctrine of God, (P&R) pp576ff.

The subject has become a matter of mini controversy around Oak Hill of late and some allege that a version of the corporeality of the Father was being taught by Revd Dr Paul Blackham, minister at All Souls' Church, Langahm Place.


God’s relationship to space: immensity and spacial omnipresence – God transcends space

The heavens – so nor the temple – can contain God: 1 Kings 8:27; c.f. 2 Chron 2:6
Heaven is God’s throne, earth his footstool: Is 66:1-2 [he must have big feet?!]

“… it is important to say that although God manifests his presence in a special way in various places, even to the point that a place can be called his dwelling, he is not bound to any place. He cannot be confined. He is greater than any place where he may be said to dwell, including the heavens and the earths themselves.” (Frame, p578)

God is simple, he has no parts - Since he is fully present / entirely with all his people he cannot be spacially extended (Frame, p579)

God is Lord of space: A body implies a limitation to a point in space – God is not limited as we are by our bodies. We are subject to the material universe in many ways – God is not

(Non-corporeal special) omnipresence = “God’s power, knowledge and ability to act in the finite universe are universal” (Frame, p580)
Sovereign Lordship à omnipresence (of this sort)

God’s presence is inescapable and universal – Ps 139:7-10
We (all) live and move and have our being in God – Acts 17:24-28 (c.f. 1 Kings 8:27)

God’s presence can be specially manifested in particular places (Frame, p581)

God can be specially present to the righteous in blessing (Frame, p582)

c.f. God’s temporal and special omnipresence

The Bible does not explicitly state God’s incorporeality
A hint of God’s incorporeality / immateriality in Lk 24:36-40 ?

God is spirit – Jn 4:24 – (? Frame ties this verse in some way to the Holy Spirit / spirituality of God?)

“God’s incorporeality is clearly a good and necessary consequence of biblical teachings we have already considered. Certainly God in his atemporal and/or nonspatial existence cannot be a physical being.” (Frame, p583)

Photocopy Frame, pp584-5

(?) “… God, as immanent in time and space, has qualities analogous to those of physical bodies…. We should not be surprised that there are significant analogies between God’s experience of the world and our own. Scripture tells us that we were made in his image.” (Frame, pp584-585)
e.g. should we say God has True Handedness although he does not have a physical hand? – not so much anthropomorphic language as God is the prototype for humanity not vice versa

Theophany and Incarnation (Frame, pp585ff)

“God is able to take a physical form.” (p585)
God appears in the form of an angel – Gen 32:22-32 esp. v30
And in the form of a man – Gen 18:16-33
Glory cloud etc. – e.g. Ez 1:1ff; 3:12ff
Is 6:1-13
Bk of Rev
Mt 17:5
The incarnate Jesus is a theophany – Jn 14:9
Jesus had all the (essential) attributes of God (inc. omnipresence) in the incarnation since it was truly God who was incarnate

“The body of Jesus is God’s body… [in some senses]. But at the very same time, God (the Son as well as the Father and the Spirit) has an existence that transcends all physical limitation.” (Frame, p587) – “Even the incarnate Son of God has a divine sovereignty over space and time.”

Invisibility of God (Frame, p587ff)

Gk aoratos – invisibility of God – Rm 1:20; Col 1:15; 1 Tim 1:17; Heb 11:27
No one has ever seen God – Jn 1:18; 5:37; 6:46; 1 Jn 4:12,20 – though “in a real sense, to see the theophany or the incarnate X is to see God” (Frame, p588)

Can a man see God and live? – Ex 33
people terrified to look on God: Ex 3:6; Job 13:11; Is 6:5
Yet Hagar meets God in Gen 16:13
Jacob wrestles with the theophanic angel – Gen 32:30 – “I saw God face to face [panim], and yet my life was spared.”
Judges 13:22
Ex 24:10
Is 6:1
Amos 9:1
Ex 33:23 – saw God’s back but his face [panim] must not be seen
Dt 4:15 – “you saw no form [temunah] of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire”
But Num 12:8 – God speaks to Moses face to face [note this is peh=mouth, not panim] and he sees the temunah=form of the LORD (!)

(See Frame, footnote 13, p589, God can be “pictured” in X & theopahies etc. but “he intends to assert his exclusive right to make images of himself.” )

Incarnate X makes God known / “visible” – Jn 1:18; 14:9; 1 Jn 1:1-2; c.f. Acts 1:3; 1 Cor 15:3-8; 2 Pt 1:16-18; Lk 1:21; 2 Pt 1:16 – we “see” Jesus – Heb 2:9
2 Cor 4:18; Heb 11:27 – “Moses saw him who is invisible” (!!!)

“God is essentially invisible.” (Frame, p590) – chooses when to make himself visible

“The New Testament writers positively exult over the visibility of Jesus’ coming. The incarnate X is as emphatically visible (as in 1 Jn 1:1-3) as Yahweh in the Mosaic covenant was emphatically invisible. The new covenant begins with a revelation of profound visibility.” (Frame, p591)

Eschatological seeing of God – Mt 5:8; 1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2; Rev 1:7; c.f. Zech 12:10

Spirituality of God: God is Spirit (esp. Frame p595ff)

Jn 4:24
Hints of Spirit as immaterial – Is 31:3; Lk 24:36-43
Glory cloud as a manifestation of the Sp – Neh 9:19-20; Is 63:11-14; Haggai 2:5
“In general, God’s Spirit is his presence in the world performing his work as Lord…. Spirit, like God’s Word (Jn 1:14) and God’s fatherhood, is both a divine attribute and a person of the Trinity.” (Frame, p596)
(Wind’s invisibility – Jn 3:5-8)


The official RC doctrine of purgatory is scripturaly and systematically indefensible and poisonous to Biblical theology.

Calvin is right in urging upon Bible- believers the necessity of the refutation of the doctrine: “…since purgatory is constructed out of many blasphemies and daily propped up by new ones, and since it incites to many grave offences, it is clearly not to be winked at…. When expiation of sins is sought elsewhere than in the blood of Christ, when satisfaction is transferred elsewhere, silence is very dangerous. Therefore, we must cry out with the shouting not only of our voices but of our throats and lungs that purgatory is a deadly fiction of Satan, which nullifies the cross of Christ, inflicts unspeakable contempt upon God’s mercy, and overturns and destroys our faith”

Calvin, Institutes, III, v, 6. Ford-Battles edition p676. Note that Calvin differed from Melanchthon, whom Calvin says dissembled on this point, thinking that the result of speaking out would be fierce conflicts but little edification, n13.

My essay against the modern official Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory is here.

For Computer Geeks

If you are a bit of a spoddy computer geek, or perhaps even if you're not, you might enjoy some of the stuff at:


and, more technically, at:

http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/gerv/ - Hacking for Christ - Gervase's explanation for "Hacking" for Christ is worth reading, especially for those who are not familiar with the usage of "hacking" to mean something like doing bits of hard, whizzy computer programing, sorting out bugs etc.

There are some interesting thoughts on how the Creator has re-used bits of DNA code, as a sensible computer programmer might. This might be worth a bit more thought: what is God's shareware policy, for example? Should we hack his code?

More accessible than some bits of that site are his Times Online articles, to which gerv.net has a link.

Theonomy: A Reformed Critique (book)

A clever friend of mine read Theonomy: A Reformed Critique. He said it almost persuaded him - to become a Theonomist, some of the arguments were so bad.

Gary North is a brilliant polemicist in some ways and has spirited titles. Theonomy: An Informed Response, which is available for free download, looks worth a look.

"Oh, how I hate Your Law!"

The Lord Jesus Christ said, "Oh, how I love your law!" (Psalm 119:97).

It sometimes feels as if "Oh, how I hate your law!" would be a better slogan for some (even supposedly Reformed) positions on the Law of Moses.

Love King Kong? (the film)

Well, if a beautiful woman can fall for a huge ape, there's hope for us all! :)

Are we meant to think that woman and ape are having a romantic relationship? If a chic behaved like that towards me, I'd think it was more than friends!

The film: mainly watchable, slow, predictable, repetitious in places. Two laughs, a few smiles. Some good action and impressive effects - some a bit gross for 12A. Hard to care too much about it. No sermon illustrations. A good editor might have helped.

Lord's Supper in BCP & Articles

The Book of Common Prayer & 39 Articles teach a reformed doctrine of the Lord's Supper, as I show in this essay - one which got full marks before the nasty external examiner got at it. A case of wine to Marrion (internal examiner), a case of flu to the examiner.

Lord's Supper as Covenantal Renewal

Matthew Mason and I have been collecting some quotes and thoughts on the Lord's Supper as Covenantal Renewal:

The Lord’s Supper as Covenant Renewal

Biblical basis– this really needs work!

What do we learn from the OT about covenant renewal? What role do assemblies, meals and sacrifices play in it?

* * *

1 Cor 11:25 – “This cup is the New Covenant (diathe_ke_) in my blood; do this as often as you drink for my remembrance (anamine_sin)” – remember / call to mind – check out LXX usages? - Memorial? (I take it Renewal would be an illegitimate translation?)
(cf 1 Cor 4:17 – Timothy will remind you of my ways in X)
anamne_sis: remembrance - LXX: Ps 37 (38), 69 (70)
Someone more competent than me in the languages needs to beaver away at these!

Though they don’t talk about the Lord’s Supper, Hebrews 9 & 10 could be important passages for all this (esp. what the Lord’s Supper is not!)
– covenant / will in effect through death (9v16), blood (9v17) – 9v20, blood of the covenant – X not offered repeatedly, once for all sacrifice for sin (9v25f)
sacrifices, (burnt) offerings etc. - new covenant of Jer 31:34 (10v16) no sacrifices for sin (10v18)

* * *

The idea of the sacraments as covenantal signs / seals would be v. common (?):

E.g. John Preston: the Eucharist as “nothing else but a Seal of the Gospel of the New Covenant. The Gospel is an offer of Christ to all who will take him for the remission of sins. In the sacrament there is an offer of Christ to us. The Gospel presents it to us under audible words, and the sacrament presents it to us under visible figures; this is all the difference. If we would know what the sacrament is, consider what the Gospel is and the covenant, and you shall know what it is, for it is but a seal, but a memorial of the Gospel.” (quoted in Cocksworth, Christopher J., Evangelical Eucharistic Thought In The Church of England (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993), p58)

John Owen: “The administration of the seals of the covenant is committed unto them [pastors], as the stewards of the house of Christ; for unto them the authoritative dispensation of the word is committed, whereunto the administration of the seals is annexed; for their principal end is the peculiar confirmation and application of the word preached.” (Works, The True Nature of a Gospel Church (Volume 16), Chapter 5: The Especial Duties of Pastors of Churches, p79)

Perhaps Pictet’s “confirm” is not a million miles from “renew”?
“Such is the goodness of God towards the church, that not content with entering into a covenant of grace with it, he has condescended to confirm that covenant by the sacraments, as seals, for the greater faith of the church.” (Pictet, Benedict, Christian Theology trans. Reyroux, Frederick, (London, Seeley and Burnside, MDCCCXXXIV=1834), p468)

John Calvin:
In Institutes 4.18.13, Calvin speaks of a whole class of non-propitiatory OT sacrifices including those: “… to renew the confirmation of the covenant…” (FB, vol 2, p1441) - among a load of other ones - and says that likewise in the New Covenant the non-propitiatory sacrifice of the Eucharist is analogous to that class of OT sacrifices - the death of Jesus being the antitype of the propitiatory OT sacrifices. (see also Gerrish, Grace & Gratitude, p154)

So, even if Calvin doesn't call the LS covenant renewal sacrifice, I don't suppose it would have surprised him too much?

Supper as covenantal renewal for Calvin (???) – no supporting evidence:
R Scott Clark: http://www.the-highway.com/supper_Clark.html
It's also in The Compromised Church: The Present Evangelical Crisis, ed. John H. Armstrong

Zacharius Ursinus (principal author of the Heidelberg Catechism):‘The covenant entered into with God in baptism, is renewed in the observance of the Lord's supper.’
'The Lord's supper testifies that we are to be perpetually nourished by Christ dwelling in us, and that the covenant once entered into between God and us shall ever be ratified in regard to us, so that we shall forever remain united with the church and body of Christ... Baptism is to be received but once, because the covenant once entered into with God is always ratified in the case of those who repent; the Lord's supper is to be often received, inasmuch as it is necessary for our faith that we frequently renew that covenant and call it to mind.’ (Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, pp. 429, 434)

John Owen:
It is a federal ordinance, wherein God confirms the covenant unto us, and wherein he calls us to make a recognition of the covenant unto God. The covenant is once made; but we know that we stand in need that it should be often transacted in our souls, - that God should often testify his covenant unto us, and that we should often actually renew our covenant engagements unto him. God never fails nor breaks his promises; so that he hath no need to renew them, but testify them anew: we break and fail in ours; so that we have need actually to renew them. And that it is which we are called unto in this ordinance; which is the ordinance of the great seal of the covenant in the blood of Christ. (Sacramental Discourse 2, on 1 Cor 10:16; Works IX.528).

Richard Baxter
In Christian Directory pp. 532 and 930, Baxter explicitly states that the Lord's Supper is given by God, and received by Christians "to signify and solemnize the renewal of his holy covenant with them" (among other things)
(Mt Mason)

Herman Witsius:
[Supper as a solemn engagement to a marriage covenant:]
“… on receiving this earnest of the covenant of grace, in which Christ joins himself to us in a marriage-covenant, we, by that very thing, promise and openly declare and avow, by an oath, that we shall fulfil every duty of a chaste faithful and loving spouse towards him…. this public and solemn feast… is appointed for confirming this mystical marriage…. Partakers… say to Christ… “… I deserve to have my body, no less than this bread, broken and torn in pieces… , if, in the renewal of this covenant, I shall, with an evil and perfidious heart, break my word to thee.”” (Economy of the Covenants vol 2, bk 4, ch 27, p463)

* * *

Modern writers

Also of some kind of relevance may be:

Jordan on covenant making in OT sacrifices & LS involves “dividing”:
“Jesus restructured the bread by breaking it. In terms of the Old Covenant sacrificial system, when the sacrifice was slain and divided into pieces, the blood was always separated from the flesh (Leviticus 1:5, 9). Thus, Jesus gave them the wine in an act separate from His giving the bread, and it should be partaken of in a separate act. Jesus gave new names to the products of his actions, calling the bread His body, and the wine His blood.” (Jordan, James B., Through New Eyes: Developing A Biblical View of the World (Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 1999), p125f)
Also: Jordan, op. cit., Note 7 p299, “Covenant-making in the Bible always entails the act of dividing and restructuring. Thus, Eve was divided from Adam, and then rejoined to him in the one-flesh relationship. Similarly, when covenant was made with Abraham, animals were divided in half (Genesis 15). See O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1980) esp. pp127ff”

Leithart on rites in the New Covenant:
Reformers attacked RC as return to Old Covenant (Leithart, Peter J., Against Christianity (Canon Press, Moscow, 2003), p79)
“… the redemptive-historical move that the New Testament announces is not from ritual to non-ritual, from an Old Covenant economy of signs to a New Covenant economy beyond signs. The movement instead is from the rituals and signs of distance and exclusion (the temple veil, cutting of the flesh, sacrificial smoke ascending to heaven, laws of cleanliness) to signs and rituals of inclusion and incorporation (the rent veil, the common baptismal bath, the common meal.” (p80)
“Rituals are as essential to the New Covenant order as to the Old; they are simply different rituals.” (p80)

“In a number of works, Augustine describes the New Covenant sacraments as “conjunctions” of the Old, …” (Leithart, Peter J., The Priesthood of the Plebs: a theology of baptism (Eugene, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003), p249)

Doug Wilson would emphasise the Lord’s Supper as covenantal (renewal):
“The world we live in is covenantal… the sacrament is not a covenantal island in the middle of a noncovenantal world. Rather, everything around us must be seen in covenantal categories… with the Table of the Lord at the centre of the believing covenantal world.”(Wilson, Douglas, Mother Kirk: Essays and Forays in Practical Ecclesiology (Moscow, Canon Press, 2001), p100)
“We signify our loyalty by partaking of the Lord’s Table. This is our covenant oath” (p101)
blessings and curses from partaking of the Supper (1 Cor 10:15f; 11:27ff)
cf Levites partaking of the altar – covenant identification with the Lord – blessing – no magical transformation of the meat
“… participation in the Supper is an act of covenant allegiance… covenant renewal.” (p103)

And of course there’s Myers:
Meyers, Jeffrey J., The Lord’s Service: The Grace of Covenant Renewal Worship (Moscow ID, Canon Press, 2003)
Part 1: The Divine Service of Covenant Renewal
Ch 2: Covenant and Worship (p33ff)
“Simply stated, the purpose of the Sunday Service is covenant renewal. During corporate “worship” the Lord renews His covenant with His people when He gathers them together and serves them.” (p33)
“… the end or goal of God’s covenant is always a feast. God invites us to a meal. We come to church on Sunday to eat with Jesus and one another, to feast in his presence…. at a common Table.” (p34) (Rev 19:6-10) [The MARRIAGE covenant feast might be worth exploring further]
“The ritual of the Lord’s Supper is explicitly identified by Jesus as a covenant renewal rite”(p49) citing Lk 22:19f [Is Myers going too far here?]

Stevenson, Kenneth, Do This: The Shape, Style and Meaning of the Eucharist (Norwich, Canterbury Press, 2002)
“The Eucharist is what the People of God gather to do because it is the way in which we renew our covenant with the Lord” (Preface)

Melvin Tinker:
Messianic expectation of the gathering of followers round him – intimacy and acceptance signified in a communal meal (p143) – c.f. gathering to hear wd of God at Sinai ( Ex 19 c.f. Dt 4) and the covenant ratified by shedding of blood (Ex 24:4-8) a meal in the presence of God (Ex 24:9-11) (p143)
Tinker, Melvin, ‘Language, Symbols and Sacraments: Was Calvin’s View of the Lord’s Supper Right?’ Churchman 112 no 2 1998 pp131-149

It would be good to have a look at :

Holifield, E. Brooks, The Covenant Sealed: The Development of Puritan Sacramental Theology in Old and New England, 1570-1720 (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1974)

Stevenson, Kenneth, Covenant of Grace Renewed: A Vision of the Eucharist in the Seventeenth Century (London, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd., 1994)

Friday, January 13, 2006

God is not free (in a way)

How free is God? Did he have to make precisely this world? Could he have done other than he has done at any point?

Jonathan Edwards rightly argues that all of God’s actions are freely necessary and necessarily free. All that God does flows infallibly from who he is and is governed by his perfect wisdom so that God always does what he wants, which is the best, and delights so to do. God could never do anything differently.

Unfortunately, Edwards is a lone voice even amongst the giants of Reformed theology in asserting the necessity of all God’s actions, but his view deserves to be the Reformed consensus.

Download my essay on this subject (a Word document) here.

Beyond the Bible (review)

A review of:

Beyond the Bible: Moving From Scripture to Theology
I. Howard Marshall with essays by Kevin J. Vanhoozer and Stanley E. Porter Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic / Paternoster 2004 pb ISBN 0-8010-2775-6
136pp inc. scripture & subject indexes

(for Churchman)

Beyond the Bible provides a valuable, stimulating, yet problematic evangelical conversation about the perennial necessity of moving from the ancient authoritative Scriptures to contemporary application and developed doctrine. Hot potatoes at least hinted at include the historicity and authorship of Biblical books, infant baptism, ecumenism, the roles of women in ministry and family, homosexuality, slavery, apartheid, medical science, Old Testament ‘genocide’, open theism, penal substitution, the nature of hell and God’s judgement, capital punishment and fundamentalism.

Professor Marshall’s first chapter lays out some of the hermeneutical issues facing evangelicals and provides a useful historical sketch of biblical interpretation, defending believing grammatico-historical criticism. Taking J I Packer’s ‘Understanding the Bible: Evangelical Hermeneutics’ (1990) as a representative example, Marshall alleges problems with evangelical attempts to arrive at applications, arguing that contemporary exposition is more complex than is often realised.

Drawing on the work of W J Webb, Slaves, Women and Homosexuality and C H Cosgrove, with a wealth of examples from ethics, worship and doctrine, Marshall’s second chapter contends that doctrinal development is both a fact and a necessity, to which Scripture itself bears witness. The agenda for Marshall’s final chapter, then, is ‘The Search for Biblical Principles’ for going beyond the Bible.

Marshall’s conclusions are neatly summarised in seven propositions on pp78-79. He believes that he has found development, incompleteness, diversity, tension, continuity and discontinuity in the whole of Scripture, which he continues to affirm as supremely authoritative, but sometimes ‘no longer valid in their original form… but… authoritative in a different way’ and always in need of interpretation and fresh application. We are called, then, to ‘a task that involves considerable risk’: ‘some teaching of Scripture needs to be understood and applied differently from in the first century’ with ‘A Mind Nurtured on the Gospel’ (p70f).

Kevin J. Vanhoozer makes a very helpful 15 page response to what he calls ‘The Marshall Plan’ in which he examines four possible senses of ‘going beyond’ Scripture biblically. Vanhoozer suggests that what is needed for the contemporary application of the Bible is, rather, ‘a mind nurtured on the Christ-centred canon’ (p94).

In the final essay in this volume (31pp), Stanley E Porter (of McMaster Divinity School) considers five hermeneutical approaches to New Testament interpretation that offer to yield a valid theology, thus: (1) the historical critical method, interacting with G B Caird’s New Testament Theology (2) Wittgenstein’s Classes of Utterances as developed by Anthony Thiselton (3) Speech-Act theory, drawing on the work of Thiselton, Vanhoozer and Briggs (4) Marshall’s developmental theory. Finally, Porter makes his own proposal identifying what he calls a Pauline approach of core beliefs with ‘translation’ on a dynamic equivalence model into other cultures and situations.

This book is far from presenting itself as the last word on hermeneutics, and it is just as well. Maybe it is not naïve to suggest that Marshall tends to overestimate the hermeneutical gap and fails to emphasise the perspicuity and sufficiency of the Scriptures that were written ‘for us’. Readers may think that Marshall has gone beyond the Bible in unbiblical directions regarding women’s ministry (p76) and that his discussion of the way in which Jesus’ teaching is relativized by his salvation-historical context (p63ff) and the contention that Jesus’ imagery of divine judgement is inappropriate to our times (pp66-68) seem risky indeed. It is not obvious that Marshall has set out sufficiently robust criteria to keep his successors from effectively leaving the Bible behind.

The dangerous duty not to forgive

It is our dangerous duty not to forgive deliberately unrepentant non-Christains.

Righteous anger is godly and should be maintained. God himself does not forgive unrepentant sinners, is angry with them for their sin and will be vengeful against them. We too are not to forgive the unrepentant (though we must love them as God does, seek to bring them to repentance and be ready to forgive them if they repent). We should have a righteous anger against all sin and against unrepentant sinners, anger against the repentant being spent at Calvary.

Of course we are not to take revenge but to leave room for God’s justice through the civil authorities etc. or in hell. On the great final day we will rejoice at the just vengeance of God, sharing something of his holy wrath against sinners.

Admittedly it is hard to disentangle righteous and unrighteous anger in sinners, but it is our duty to seek godly anger. To tell people that there is no sense in which they should or may rightly continue to be angry with unrepentant sinners who have committed the most dreadful crimes against them is to further afflict the hurting and to urge them to greater so-called “love” than the wrathful God who is love.

Blogging and Jonathan Edward's Miscellenies

A blog could be used just like Jonathan Edwards' Miscellanies (his notebooks - see e.g. http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0300101023/202-9897326-2617451)

I imagine Edwards used his Miscellanies to help fulfill his Resolution:

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved,
immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not

Yet perhaps the blogger should also be warned to remember this Resolution:

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most
profitable way I possibly can.

As well as some of the other Resolutions (about speaking the truth and speaking well of others), which are well worth a look. Edwards Resolved to re-read his Resolutions each week.

The Miscellanies were much more than private note books. Edwards
used them in training the younger apprentice ministers who lodged with him, and would set reading from them.

The Miscellanies were full of links and there was an elaborate archive
index system.