Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"Save Ginny Weasley from the Basilisk..."

Thanks to Barlow, Gaines has downloaded some music from Harry and the Potters onto our computer and delights in singing the songs around the house. Despite the lackluster lyrics, incompetent music and my previous protestations, I can't get them out of my head! They're just too catchy! If they ever happen to come within reasonable roadtripping distance, I think I'd just have to witness this phenomenon firsthand.

Listen here.

Gaines sez: Please, please be sure to read their tour diary. These guys are funny! Why can't they come to my town, though?

To know Him and make Him known

A member over at the Thinklings has posted some great thoughts on the two-fold purpose of the church.

Living within that tension is a difficult and glorious thing which requires much prayer. And much love.

Carson on the New Perspective

I'm listening to a series of lectures that D.A. Carson delivered at RTS-Charlotte regarding the so-called New Perspective on Paul. Here are my amateur musings and observations on them:

Admittedly, I still have one lecture left, but I have not been thoroughly impressed so far. To be fair, Carson has attempted to lay out an overview of the NPP and the differing strands of thought to which that moniker has been assigned. Although his stated purpose is to critique the manifold problems he perceives within the NPP, his tone is less antagonistic(albeit condescending in several places) than the level of vitriol found in other discussions on the topic. And, he has stated on more than one occasion that the NPP and related authors have made worthwhile contributions in some areas. But, overall, I think Carson's overview suffers from many of the same problems as other critiques of this topic.

Although Carson makes the standard disclaimers that "there is no 'new perspective' but rather several 'new perspectives,'" he -- like many others -- tends to lump them indiscriminately together in his discussion. Although he traces academic developments from E.P. Sanders to James Dunn to N.T. Wright, he often seems to gloss over the specific differences between them. Although I have not read Sanders or Dunn, I am familiar with several places in Wright's work where he criticizes or even rejects the positions held by the other two. Carson's presentation, however, tends to iron over these distinctions. He will give a specific example or citation from a particular author, but his delivery gives one the impression that it is the uniform NPP view.

For example, Carson discusses the debated usage of God's "righteousness," both in the Hebrew and Greek. The broad NPP understanding is that this term refers to God's covenantal faithfulness, rather than an abstract moral quality. However, Carson rejects this view on the basis of Old Testament word studies which show "righteousness" most often appearing amidst references to God's justice and judgment against the wicked. But Carson has limited "covenantal faithfulness" such that it only refers to God's faithfulness in blessing His covenant people. If this limitation was accurate, then Carson has a point. I cannot speak to Sanders or Dunn, but Wright's understanding of "righteousness" is certainly not restricted in this way. Far from it. Wright's understanding of God's righteousness is not merely referring to YHWH's blessing of His people but also to His promise that the broken creation will be "put to rights" (as NTW often puts it) -- that is, God's own promise that He will undo the cosmic results of the Fall, to protect the helpless and to punish the wicked. (See, for example, Wright's description of a "righteous judge" used by the lawcourt metaphor, as shown in What Saint Paul Really Said.) With this in mind, Carson's critique seems to fall flat.

Another pervasive problem with Carson's presentation is that he (like many others) begs the question as to the meaning of justification. One interesting quote (paraphrased) from Carson: "They [the NPP] make justification a matter NOT about who is just but about who is a covenant member." I thought this statement was silly, and he actually repeated it another time or two. How can it not be about who is "just" if "justification" (however it may be defined) is in view? It reveals the recurring problem that many of Wright's Reformed critics keep slipping back into the traditional usage of terms like "justification," even when Wright's whole argument is that the traditional usage is incorrect. Again, Wright needs to be evaluated in his own terms before passing judgment.

Carson also takes issue with Wright's usage of the exile motif, drawing attention to NTW's claim that the Deuteronomic cycle of blessing and curse had not yet been fulfilled by the time of 2nd Temple Judaism. Carson claims that the Deuteronomic history (and the remainder of the Old Testament) establishes the pattern of man's utter inability to keep the Law. This, he claims, negates Wright's (alleged) indications that Israel had the potential to keep the covenant and be blessed as a result "if they tried hard enough." But this is not fair to Wright's own position. Israel's history is not merely a series of object lessons on the pervasiveness of man's sin and his need for grace (although that lesson is certainly there!). As Wright points out, Israel is a vital component in the work of redemption on many levels. The notion, offered by Carson as Wright's own, that national Israel could have somehow kept the Law and been blessed for obedience seems greatly at odds with Wright's own teaching about the "dark purposes of the Law," namely that a major purpose of the Law was to gather sin into one place so that God could deal with it, once and for all.

Actually, much of Carson's discussion of the exile motif proved frustrating. Although one could argue that perhaps Wright gets a bit too much mileage out of it, some of Carson's rebuttal was far from convincing. For instance, he takes issues with Wright's view that Second Temple Jews saw themselves as being in exile as punishment for their corporate sins. He points to Qumran as a sect believing itself to be a righteous remnant, the true and faithful Israel amidst a nation of corruption and compromise. Hence, they did not see themselves suffering under the weight of corporate guilt for the sins of the nation. But Carson himself admits that Qumran still saw themselves in a kind of exile, since the Temple and the land as a whole were under the control of corrupt leadership. So the exile motif still remains intact.

One of Carson's arguments against the exile motif that rang extremely bizarre was his discussion of the Judaizers in Galatians. If the majority of Jews saw themselves as being in exile, says Carson, then the Galatian Christians would never dream of returning to being Jews. Who in their right mind, he asks, would willingly go back into exile? But this assessment simply assumes too much. Was the problem really that the Galatian church was being tempted to return to Judaism? It seems far more likely that the Judaizers were convincing the Galatians to syncretize their Christian faith with Jewish Torah-keeping. In that case, the Judaizers could easily have believed that the death and resurrection of Jesus brought the end of the exile (per Wright) while incorrectly insisting on strict Torah observance. So Carson's whole line about the Galatians willingly returning to exile makes no sense.

(It was interesting to see that Carson admits to engaging in a fair amount of historical speculation on his own part. His view of Galatians, for example, has the "certain men from James" in chapter two as being unconverted Jews sent from Jerusalem to Antioch.)

One other annoyance: Carson again referenced the now-apocryphal story about Wright being questioned about what he would tell a person on their death-bed about how they might be saved. The story goes that Wright's answer was "I'll have to think about it." Interestingly enough, Wright specifically addressed this story at the Auburn Conference back in January. Not only did he deny that the alleged story ever took place, he also explained that he would have no pat response, because every situation is different. What kind of person are we talking about? A non-Christian? A baptized church goer? etc. Personally, this answer seems pretty sensible to me, but I'm sure some will see it as a cop-out. Carson even made a quip that, since the story has been making the rounds for awhile, Wright undoubtedly has whipped up a clever answer. (One interesting tidbit that came out, though: Carson himself admitted that this story comes second-hand from another colleague and not from his own experience.)

So, all in all, the lectures have proven somewhat frustrating. Carson does make the good point that the evidence shows a spectrum of diversity amidst Jews of the Second Temple Period. As such, there is always a danger of painting with too broad a brush. And Carson even admits that his critique of the NPP should not be perceived as advocating an uncritical return to the traditional "old perspective." Too many questions have been raised that cannot be properly answered under the old paradigm. Unfortunately, Carson's review often appears guilty of arguing against positions that are not actually held by the men he is discussing. Until these discussions can be framed in ways such that each side is actually addressing the other, it looks like the miscommunication will continue.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Case of the Mon(k)days

The iMonk has some good stuff this morning, so I figured I'd link them for future memory (and to share the love).

Two links:

"The Problem With Church Discipline is Jesus" offers the iMonk's thoughts on church discipline, as spurred by Mark Dever's contribution to an ongoing Christianity Today discussion on the subject. Spencer's thoughts are really good, especially in light of the evangelical trend towards either downplaying or completely jettisoning church membership and discipline altogether.

IMonk also has a link to a fascinating article by Tim Challies on "Purposeful Interference." It's an interesting look at the marketing strategy employed to create the blockbuster success of books like The Purpose-Driven Life. The marketing strategy itself is pretty eye-opening, but more troublesome is the fact that a book explaining the strategy and its success (in mostly positive terms, to boot) has been inexplicably delayed from being published. Very interesting.


From a (highly spoiler-filled-- I warned you!) interview with J.K. Rowling on (see Part 2):

MA: Let the record note that she has drummed her fingers on her Coke can in a very Mr. Burns-like way.


JKR: Oh, I love Mr. Burns.

Rowling has good taste in American television.

I wonder if she ever pictures Voldemort saying "Excellent" in a Burns-ish way?


We finally finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince over the weekend. Last week was an unusually busy week for us, so most of our reading time occurred in the later hours of the evening (and wee hours of the morning on more than one occasion!), so I'm still a little bleary-eyed today.

We really enjoyed Book Six. I'm not yet sure where it ranks in the Potter corpus, but it probably rises into the top tier. I will confess: I don't really have time to edit the blog template to enable those fancy expandable (i.e., "Read More") entries that will protect spoiler-phobes from sensitive information. So I'll keep the comments brief for the meanwhile.

As I said, we really enjoyed the book. Rowling did a great job of weaving the multiple story arcs together. One of the most captivating aspects, I thought, was the backstory of Tom Riddle, the future Lord Voldemort, especially in highlighting both the similarities and dissimilarities he shares with Harry. The interaction between Harry and Dumbledore was also very compelling and even touching at times. I thought Dumbledore's discussion regarding "the prophecy" revealed some interesting insights on "Fate," and I might find some time to revisit the subject. And then there's the ever-ambiguous Professor Snape, whose loyalties are still not clear-cut by the book's end. Rowling is going to have a lot of things to sort through and clear up by the end of Book Seven!

John Granger at Hogwarts Professor has updated the site with his own thoughts on HBP, including a breakdown on how his predictions panned out. It's worth reading, and I tend to think he's right on one of the major lingering questions. (However, I have strong disagreement with some others.)

Now I get to go read all those spoiler-filled articles and discussions I've been avoiding for the past week!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Clean Up Day!!

It's office cleaning day, so everyone is sorting and filing and cleaning and such. But at least they let us wear blue jeans today. Yahoo!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

To Wear or Not to Wear

This may be old news for some, but today in class we were discussing appropriate dress in school settings (uniforms, etc.) and someone metioned that some of the members of a college championship women's lacrosse team recently wore flip-flops to meet the President.

The title: "You Wore Flip-Flops to the WHITE HOUSE?!" echoes my reaction. Of course, the females in our class immediately had to explain the difference between "dressy" and "casual" flip-flops to the males, but even with that distinction, I was shocked at this revelation and felt the action was highly inappropriate, especially once I viewed the photograph. Out of the nine girls pictured on the front row, four were wearing flat, relatively inexpensive flip-flops.

Though I wear flip-flops often during the summer (in fact, I am wearing a $2.50 pair of Old Navy flip-flops at this very moment), and have been even been known to *gasp* wear a pair to church paired with a skirt, I find the fact that the girls wore them to such an important event appalling.

Perhaps this is just my Southern "no white shoes after Labor Day" breeding? Many of the girls in the article gave the excuse that "everyone else was doing it" and "it matched my outfit, so I thought it was okay." It didn't even cross their minds that this might be a breach of some sort of fashion code. However, the comments by various etiquette masters and even parents and other relatives of the girls revealed the audacity of their fashion faux-pas. So my question is-- what do you think?

I think this ties in with the blatant disregard for respect for formal occasions in our society. I know the trend has long been for "casual Fridays" at work, but I have been sad to see the trend extend into Sundays in the past decades. Not that I'm advocating hose and heels every Sunday (especially in Hotlanta, which gets its nickname for multiple reasons), but I do think attire reflects an attitude of proper respect and reverence during corporate worship.

I believe this casual trend in evangelical circles is a direct reflection of the casual approach to worship. Denying the gnostic tendency to separate the spiritual from the physical, I believe that our appearance on Sunday mornings both affects and reflects our attitudes about corporate worship. I am NOT saying that only the rich or well-dressed can attend on Sundays, I am just pointing out that the way we dress is connected to our beliefs about how best to honor the Lord in His house. (The casual attitude comes to bear in substance and format choices for corporate worship services as well, but that is another topic for another post.)

Tom Wright on Worship

To enjoy worship for its own sake, or simply out of a cultural appreciation of the "performance," would be like Moses coming upon a burning bush and deciding to cook his lunch on it.
- For All God's Worth

Monday, July 18, 2005


Why must work (and school, in Allison's case) get in the way of reading Harry Potter? I sure do wish I had a few of those Skiving Snackboxes.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Challenge Revoked

I officially give up on any attempt to re-read all five Harry Potter novels before Saturday. I'm on the third one, but after coming in from visiting some friends in the hospital last night, reading for one hour and falling asleep on the sofa, I know I'm doomed. I was silly to think I could read them anyway, since I'm taking classes and still doing Apartment Life stuff. If I had a REAL summer vacation (not to be seen ever again in my lifetime), like the kind in elementary school when you don't have to even think about what to eat or who will do the laundy, then MAYBE I could read the last two books in two days. But that's impossible.

ONLY TWO MORE DAYS until Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince releases. I'm still amazingly excited.

Just the BAD ol' boys?

I can't say that I'm shocked, but the forthcoming "Dukes of Hazzard" movie has drawn some serious flack from at least one star from the classic TV show. Ben Jones, who played Cooter the mechanic on the show (and who later became a Georgia congressman), is now urging fans of the show to avoid the big screen version. After reading the script, Jones published his opinion on the upcoming film. A sampling of his thoughts on the level of sleazy and crude humor in the film:

"It's one thing to do whatever movie they want to do, but to take a classic family show and do that is like taking 'I Love Lucy' and making her a crackhead or something."

Monday, July 11, 2005

Weekend Update

Here's the rundown:


In the evening, we attended a Matthew Perryman Jones concert in Conyers with a group of friends from church. It was my first MPJ show, and I was surprised to see him with a band-- well, a drummer and bassist. It was definitely a rockin' experience, though he did have some acoustic sets mixed in. The church, Rockbridge Community, has been putting on a fantastic summer concert series-- it's the same place we went to see Andy P. and Randall.

In the morning, we hosted another one of our Waffle Breakfasts for the residents of our apartment complex-- but had an unusually low turnout. However, we did have enough cinnamon rolls, fruit, and breakfast casserole leftover to share with our fellow church-goers the next morning, so at least some folks enjoyed the bounty.

During most of the day, we were thwarted in our efforts to get ANYWHERE around Atlanta due to the high volume of construction projects that encircle the city this summer. We eventually reached all of our destinations-- from Slope's in Roswell for lunch, downtown Atlanta in the afternoon, to Decatur for dinner, and then back to Doraville-- but not without a few detours and U-turns. No wonder we put so many miles on our car each year!

In the afternoon, we miraculously found free parking in downtown Atlanta at the CNN Center. Two friends, who have both been out of town (or the country) for about a year, wanted to meet at the busiest place in the city. Becky has been teaching as a missionary in Romania and is going to Cornell in the fall to get a degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, while Carmela is working with Campus Outreach through Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Their original plans of playing in the Centennial Fountains were overruled by the afternoon rains, but just getting to sit and chat with them was enough of a treat for me!

In the evening, we spent some time with Becky and other friends at the Brick Store. It was my inaugural trip, and I think it really is an experience everyone should enjoy. We evetually were able to snag room for 10 folks upstairs among the cozy, rough wooden benches and tables. They have an eclectic and extensive selection of almost every brew imaginable, and the pub food is fantastic. (Well, don't try the Chicken Salad Melt, but the chips (fries) are great with some malt vinegar and salt!) I hadn't had chips 'n vinegar since my summer in England a few years ago--it's definitely an acquired taste-- but I crave it now. Next time, I'm getting their acclaimed fish 'n chips!

We celebrated potluck after the morning church service, and even with a small summer attnedance the fish and loaves multiplied so that everyone was satisfied. Some of the older folks in our church were not able to make it, though, due to health reasons, and their absence was strongly felt. One couple in particular has watched over all of us "youngsters" like adopted grandparents, inviting us for home-cooked dinners and fiercly competitive games of dominoes. They are missed.

In the evening, (after the obligatory Lord's Day nap!) we drove to the nearby Brunswick Zone for a bowling party with our residents. As a promotional event, the alley provided free games, shoes, snacks, and a hour and a half of games for as many folks as we could get to attend! About 7 families showed up for the festivities, and we ended up with 3 bumper lanes because there were so many young kids. We all had a blast. I'll be honest, I'm not usally much of a bowler. Case in point-- we went bowling with a group of other Apartment Life CARES Teams a few weeks ago and I didn't break 55 in either of the two games. However, last night, perhaps because the bumper lanes gave me confidence or I knew I wouldn't get to finish a full game, when I joined in on one group's lane, I scared two strikes, two spares, and a score of 120 before they shut down the computers. 120! For all you professional bowlers, that's nothing, but for me, it's incredibly rare! I *might* have done that once before, back in high school, but I honestly can't remember. I felt horrible because I had told them all I was a terrible bowler at the start of the evening, but by the end, the little girls were jumping around saying "Mrs. Allison is the winner!" *sheesh*

We made it home just before the Dennis deluge. It rained the entire night and into this morning. My parents, thankfully, were not affected by flooding though there was a power outage in South Alabama for a while. I'm just praying for all the folks from Apalachicola to the Gulf Shores/Pensacola area who've been hit twice this year with hurricanes-- they restoration efforts were just getting into full swing this summer.

Now, it's back to a busy week of graduate school and work and carpools downtown and evening meetings and late night reading for Team Redd. I'm preparing for the latest Harry Potter release by attempting to re-read all 5 previous books before Saturday. One down, four to go...

The Lion's Eye

As Allison mentioned, we got to see Pierce Pettis while we were up in NC. Pierce is always a treat to see live. In addition to being a terrific songwriter and musician, he has quite a scatterbrained stage personality and an often-bizarre sense of humor, both of which serve to greatly magnify the level of enjoyment for concerts.

He played a fair share of songs from his last two albums, as well as some older ones thrown in for good measure (including "Chase the Buffalo," a fantastic song which he rarely plays in concerts anymore). He also played a couple of newer/as-yet-unrecorded ones. The best of the new songs, by far, was "The Lion's Eye," a song inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia. To be honest, I expect a glut of Narnia-related songs to appear as the December release of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe film approaches. Andrew Peterson has written a song inspired by the Narnia books, and Randall Goodgame wrote a LWW-related song at the request of those putting together the soundtrack and "Inspirational" albums released for the film. Both of these songs are fantastic. Phenomenal, even. That being said, Pierce's song blows them out of the water. It's hard to believe, but it's true. I need to get my hands on the lyrics, somehow.

It does not appear that any of these songs will make the final cut for the movie soundtrack stuff. The "Christian Music Inspirational" soundtrack album releases in September, and looks to be comprised of acts like Steven Curtis Chapman, Newsboys, Rebecca St. James and the like. Although Jars of Clay is slated to have a track, I don't think this album will be one that I'll be picking up. Interestingly enough, there will be a "Secular/Pop" soundtrack album released in October. Artist information isn't available yet, although I'm curious who will show up. Maybe if Pierce could get someone to cover his song? Here's to wishful thinking!

Friday, July 08, 2005

N.T. Wright's Opening AAPC 2005 Lecture

The N.T. Wright Page has uploaded Bishop Wright's opening lecture from the Auburn Avenue conference back in January. In the lecture, Wright lays down the general contour of his Pauline studies, especially as they relate to the solas of the Reformation. This, I believe is valuable, because Wright affirms a great amount of consensus with the Reformers, while noting where his high commitment to Scripture has lead him to different conclusions in several areas.

I have not yet re-read it, but I understand that the print version of the lecture contains some material that was omitted due to time constraints at the conference. So I have something to look forward to.

Got Me a College Girl

Last week, I joined a weblog devoted to promoting "a formal college education for women in the twenty-first century." Nine women have joined so far, and we all come from varying backgrounds and are at different places in life, but it is refreshing to see how much we share in common through our college experiences.

If you are interested in a discussion about why Christian women benefit from higher education, please check out Got Me a College Girl.

Thanks, Kristen, for tipping me off to this.

Views from the Road

Over the weekend, we broke the 11-hour drive from Atlanta to Annapolis into two days. On Wednesday, we made it all the way home in one fell swoop.

Since Gaines likes to drive me around, and we had almost our entire CD collection coursing through the iPod, I had plenty of time to ponder the view from the passenger seat and our highlights on the hallmark event of summer-- the great American road trip. With a cooler full of drinks and hearts lightened by the thought of five days without the modern inconveniences of telephones, computers, and television, we traversed five states and many, many miles. Here's the journey as best as I can remember it.

GA-- I for one couldn't wait to leave. Hot, humid, muggy summers in downtown Atlanta make Allison a dull girl. I need trees. One more reason to escape: the rest area north of Atlanta on I-85 (me and my miniscule female bladder!) smelled "like the zoo," according to Gaines. I agreed.

SC -- The rest stop here surprised me-- it had actual wood paneled ceilings and a huge skylight. A welcome relief. However, SC has way too many billboards advertising adult-only entertainment. Ew.

NC -- Like a breath of fresh air, the interstates, highways, and byways of NC are lined with the most beautiful collections of wildflowers, as well as the occaisional planned patch of botanical goodness. Whenever I see these, I think of my talented horticulturally-inclined aunt who makes her living by making backyards beautiful. I always like to see the efforts of those who take dominion over growing things.

We spent the first night in the Triangle, and went to a Pierce Pettis show at the Six String Cafe. The people who run that place are AWESOME. If you get a chance, go there. Buy some Bass Ale. Try the Greek salad or the melt-in-your-mouth panini sandwiches. Enjoy the music. You won't be disappointed.

I could love living in NC. Whenever I used to play M.A.S.H. in elementary school (and on up), I always put NC as one of the choices of places to live. And the housing costs are so reasonable. I've been in Atlanta too long!

VA -- Beautiful, especially once we were on the highway instead of the interstate. The little roadside stands scream "You're in the real South, now." The welcome center reminded me of Monticello. A nice lady there informed us of a better route to Annapolis via 301. Thank you nice lady!

MD -- Is there construction on every road here or what? Goodness. On the way in, we noticed a sign for a stadium that was attempting to break the world record for the most people sitting on whoopee cushions on July 4th! I wonder if they met their goal?

We eventually arrived in downtown Annapolis and thoroughly enjoyed the conference and our time there with friends. (More about that later.) For now, check out the informative city website. It really is the most beautiful, charming, and historic American city I've ever visited. We didn't even have to get back into the car until we left yesterday, since everything was a short walk from our hotel--the entire place is meant to be pedestrian-friendly. There was usually a nice breeze off the water, and I adored the huge flower-filled pots and hanging baskets the dotted the streets -- the city reminded me of a Southern Living cover page gone crazy. I wish I'd had a camera. I also appreciated the abundance of sweet tea in every restaurant-- that's how you know you're still in Dixie. On our way out of the city, I noticed too many places we didn't get to visit during our stay, and hope we return next year and stay longer.

On the trip home, I thought the $3.00 toll to cross back over the Potomac was a bit steep, but I suppose Maryland is close enough to New England that exhorbitant toll roads are to be expected.

VA -- Not much of consequence to mention the second time around. I slept through most of the trip through the state, and therefore, have nothing more to say. It is just as beautiful as NC, though.

NC -- By the time we reached NC Wednesday evening, we were getting hungry. In order to save time, we wanted to wait and stop to get gas and food all in one stop. Just when we didn't think we were going to see anything other than McDonald's, we spotted a sign for Zaxby's and enjoyed some de-lish chicken fingers. Though the chain is all over Georgia (it started in Athens), we rarely eat there just 'cause there's not one near our apartment. My cousins are friends with the guys who started Zaxby's and now own and manage two restaurants in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. I like it, but I still think Guthrie's wins for best secret family recipe sauce.

Also in NC, I spotted a billboard for Skirt. I had completely forgotten about it! It reminds me of a less home-oriented, artsy Real Simple. About 10 years ago, as a teenager, I picked up an inaugural copy of the indie women's magazine while visiting SC. I used to dream of moving to Charleston and writing for Skirt when I grew up. I have no idea if I'd even like it anymore. Anyone out there heard of this or read it?

SC -- Once we got here, it was raining. And I slept some more.

GA -- The remnants of tropical storm Cindy made the last leg of our trip slow. I'm glad I kept my eyes closed through most of it, 'cause I absolutely hate driving in heavy rain. I'm always scared of hydroplaning and don't even want to see all that water in the road. The storm certainly caused it's share of troubles around Atlanta. I'm just glad we live in the northeast part. And we made it safely home somewhere around 1:00 a.m. The end...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Decoding Da Vinci

Tom Wright offers some thoughts on the Da Vinci Code and its popularity. His article starts on page 22.

(Courtesy of the Wrightsaid mailing list.)

Saturday, July 02, 2005


We're headed out the door to meet up with some friends at the 2005 Annual Conference of the Jonathan Edwards Institute in Annapolis, Maryland. It should be a good conference (our friends' pastor is the Executive Director of the JEI), as well as a fun time spent with friends. Plus, we're managing to sneak in a Pierce Pettis concert on the way up. :)

So, we'll be incommunicado for a few days. That means I won't get to tell you how awesome a Randall Goodgame concert is, or how disgusting the aftermath of an attempted gallon-of-milk-drinking can look. (But, you probably already knew about both of those!)

Happy 4th of July weekend!

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Bible and the Future

I've been following along with the Thinklings Book Club as they have read through Anthony Hoekema's The Bible and the Future, and the last book club installment is now available. Even though I've mostly lurked, it has been good to read through their discussions as I followed along with the readings.

Overall, the book is a pretty good read, laying out an amillennial position on eschatology. Hoekema does a great job laying out the concepts of "inaugurated eschatology" and the "already/not yet" tension. The sections on the afterlife, especially on the intermediate state, were a breath of fresh air in contrast to the quasi-gnosticism that infiltrates much Evangelical discussion on "heaven." Hoekema very capably argues that the Scriptures anchor our hopes towards future resurrection, not an ethereal, disembodied existence. The whole of creation is groaning for a future total redemption, a new heaven and a new earth. God's plan is to redeem the fallen creation, not to scrap it in favor of "Plan B."

In discussing other eschatological positions, Hoekema focuses most heavily on premillennialism (particularly of the dispensational variety), which he ably critiques. Although the book was written in the 1970's, the criticisms of dispensationalism are just as applicable today and are especially valuable as this viewpoint has become the majority report in modern Evangelicalism. I think one of the book's main strengths is its critical assessment of this popular view.

One disappointment, though, is that the book dismisses the postmillennial view with only a few pages of discussion. In addition to only briefly looking at the specifics of postmillennialism, Hoekema spends little time establishing his view of the so-called "time-texts" (the Olivet discourse concerning "this generation," etc.) which are often employed by preterist/postmillennial commentators. I think preterists have made some very convincing arguments concerning these time-texts, and it would have been good to see Hoekema interact with the texts to a greater extent. However, to be fair, Hoekema is addressing older versions of postmillennialism, since his book predates the work of guys like Kenneth Gentry.

Overall, a good read and a good overview of amillennial eschatology.