Daily Archives: 2 Dec 2011

Quote of the Day

… The world, in accordance with its depraved disposition, has always thrown every possible obstacle in the way of the helps by which it ought to have been brought to God.  — John Calvin

Newt Became a Wealthy Man, By Being Elected to Congress

In 1979, an impoverished Georgia college professor named Newt Gingrich became a Member of Congress and proceeded to make himself a very rich man.

Fifteen years after coming to Congress, Gingrich was earning more than 60 times the income he reported in the year before his swearing-in. After he left the House, Gingrich leveraged his status as a former Speaker and leading Republican thinker to rise to the ranks of the truly wealthy.

The man who entered Congress three decades ago with essentially no personal assets beyond a modest home in Carrollton, Ga., would now rank among the 50 richest Members of Congress if he were to return to the House.

Public service in service of self.  Welcome to America.  Reading the rest of the essay will teach you much about this ‘public servant’.

If the Occupy people really wanted to do something respectable they would go to Washington and occupy the House and the Senate.  As it is, they’re presently just campers in public parks.

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I Might Vote for Jon Huntsman

Because he exposes Mitt for the political hypocrite he is.

Isaiah Describes American Politics!

English: Isaiah; illustration from a Bible car...

I bet this will come as a surprise but long ago Isaiah saw exactly what American politics would be like in 2011 (ok he didn’t and he wasn’t at all concerned about such things- but what he says of Judah is SO timely I have to point it out) –

3:1 Now the LORD God of heavenly forces is removing from Jerusalem and from Judah every form of support: all rations of food and water; 2 soldier and warrior; judge and prophet; fortune-teller and elder; 3 commander and celebrity; counselor, clever craftsman, and cunning charmer.

[That because the people are completely rebellious- the sots. And now the good part – ].

4 I will make youths their commanders; mischief makers will rule over them. 5 The people will oppress each other, each one against the other, neighbor against neighbor. The young will bully the old, the rogue, and the respectable. 6 Someone will seize a family member, saying, “ You have clothing! You be our leader! This mess will be your responsibility! ” 7 Someone else will cry out on that day, “ I’m no healer! I have neither food nor clothing in my house! Don’t make me the leader of the people! ” (CEB).

Sounds about right doesn’t it? Feckless leaders of the worst sort are the appropriate punishment of rebellious intransigents. Isaiah certainly wasn’t ‘prophesying’ modern American life- but modern American life certainly mirrors 8th century BC Judah in at least this respect!

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Why You Shouldn’t Pray

It sounds shocking doesn’t it- my telling you that you shouldn’t pray. Especially since Paul urges that we ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε   (‘pray without ceasing’) (or in the CEB, ‘Pray continuously’).

But here’s why: every time you neglect prayer you make my own prayers more relevant, more appropriate, more necessary, and more valuable.

So stop praying. That way when I chat with God (which is rather a lot) he doesn’t have to be troubled with you. I enjoy having him to myself and if you’re happy enough to surrender the greatest of human privileges, the personal encounter with God made possible in the fellowship of prayer, why should I be upset? Your indolence in prayer, your indifference to your own relationship to the heavenly Father, they have no bearing on my happiness in prayer and my joy in the presence of God.

So you shouldn’t pray. Go ahead and stop. You alone will be the one to miss out, not I!

Angels and Demons: A New Series in the U.K.

And the fellow who’s presenting (in America we call him the host) is a specialist in Second Temple Judaism.  Imagine that, an actual scholar and not someone of the ilk of Simcha Jacobovici- an amateur neither naked nor archaeologist.

Via Jim ‘the awesome’ Aitken of Cambridge U. on the facebook.

You Know You’ve Been in Biblical Studies Too Long When…

Anytime you see an abbreviation you don’t think of something normal, you think of something biblical-studies related.

For instance, whilst browsing the latest from twitter- this one from Al-Arabiya popped up and when I saw ICC I didn’t instantly think ‘International Criminal Court’.  Oh no, I thought ‘International Critical Commentary’.  It’s shocking how often that kind of thing happens…

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The New ‘Basel Catechism’

Vor zwei Jahren hat der Schweizerische Evangelische Kirchenbund eine schweizweite Diskussion über ein reformiertes Glaubensbekenntnis angeregt. Im Auftrag des Kirchenrats der Evangelischreformierten Kirche des Kantons Basel-Stadt hat alt Münsterpfarrer Dr. Franz Christ einen Vorschlag vorgelegt. Diesen «Basler Katechismus» hat Kirchenratspräsident Pfr. Dr. Lukas Kundert im Gottesdienst der Münstergemeinde vom 1. Adventssonntag den Mitgliedern der ERK Basel- Stadt offiziell zur Diskussion übergeben.

You can download it here.

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The Awkward ‘Virgin Wedding’ Kiss

Ok look, saving yourself for marriage is perfect.  But kissing isn’t exactly copulation.  Plus, if you don’t at least kiss your beloved before the wedding you might just look like this-

GHASTLY! And – oh be honest – more than a little stomach turning.

Newt’s Right

No one in their right mind could disagree with Gingrich when he says

 ‘We need somebody with very substantial big ideas’ (in the White House).

That’s certainly true.  But we need someone with substantial big ideas AND a Congress with the willingness to do substantial legislation.  Unfortunately no one – Democrat or Republican – really has ideas of substance and Congress is a completely useless body without either substance or ideas.

Government is broken.  The Tea People can’t fix it and the Occupy people can’t fix it (they can’t even articulate what it is they desire with any sort of uniformity).  Perhaps the Dominionists can fix it…   [heaven forfend].

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With Christmas Approaching…

Georg Friedrich Händel

Isaiah 40 always rings in my ears- both because it’s fairly commonly read during Advent/Christmas and because of Handel’s marvelous oratorio ‘Messiah’ (which, coincidentally, was written for Easter, though now it’s only ever performed around Christmas).

The Common English Bible has done a brilliant job of capturing the underlying Hebrew sense when it translates the opening verses thusly-

40:1 Comfort, comfort my people!
says your God.
2 Speak compassionately to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her that her
compulsory service has ended,
that her penalty has been paid,
that she has received
from the LORD ’s hand
double for all her sins!

3 A voice is crying out:
“ Clear the LORD ’s way in the desert!
Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
4 Every valley will be raised up,
and every mountain and hill
will be flattened.
Uneven ground will become level,
and rough terrain a valley plain.
5 The LORD ’s glory will appear,
and all humanity will see it together;
the LORD ’s mouth
has commanded it. ”

It really is a stunning few sentences.  If only they were heard in their full force.

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Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to ‘Holy Land’ Theology

When I learned of this volume I was very keen to read it and the good folk at Baker Academic have graciously sent along a review copy.  I’ve finished it and the review has been uploaded here.

In Jesus and the Land, respected New Testament scholar Gary Burge describes first-century Jewish and Christian beliefs about the land of Israel in order to help contemporary readers develop a Christian theology of the land and assess Bible-based claims in discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Burge provides a full survey of New Testament passages that directly address the question of land and faith and offers an honest and compelling presentation of present-day tensions surrounding “territorial religion” in the modern Middle East. This accessibly written volume will appeal to undergraduate and seminary students, pastors, teachers, and anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

Introduction: Land, Place, and Religion
1. The Biblical Heritage
2. Diaspora Judaism and the Land
3. Jesus and the Land
4. The Fourth Gospel and the Land
5. The Book of Acts and the Land
6. Paul and the Promises to Abraham
7. Developments Beyond Paul
8. Land, Theology, and the Church

In a word- read it!

The Wonders of Modern Technology

I don’t mention very often (though I clearly should) some of my projects but I’ve just finished up a discussion of the prophets with some of the marvelous students at the Philippines Baptist Theological Seminary via Skype and simply want to remark that we live in amazing times.  We can conduct courses halfway around the world (if we’re willing to be up at 12:30 a.m.) without a hitch.

What wouldn’t Paul or Augustine or Calvin or Luther or Zwingli have given to be able to do that?

And now, I should probably try to go to bed since it’s 1:30 in the morning but really why bother?  I’ll just be awake again in a few hours.

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Just When I Think It’s Impossible to Feel More Contempt for the Senate…

They manage to make me despise them even more!

The Senate on Thursday sidetracked rival plans to extend a Social Security payroll tax cut, in dueling votes that pave the way for negotiations on a compromise on a core component of President Obama’s jobs program.  First, Republicans defeated Obama’s plan to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of next year while also making it more generous for workers.  Minutes later, in a vote that exposed rare divisions among Senate Republicans, more than two dozen of the GOP’s 47 lawmakers also voted to kill an alternative plan backed by their powerful leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, to renew an existing 2 percentage point payroll tax cut.

Tax cuts for the lower and middle classes?  NO!  Tax cuts for the wealthy?  OH YES!  There’s no one in Washington who has the interests of the majority of American people in mind.  Which is why I won’t be voting for any of them.  I’ll be voting for Mickey Mouse as a write in candidate and I want my Representative in Congress and my Senators to know it.  And for President?  Mickey Mouse.

Now the only question remaining- what will Washington do next to make my disdain-level skyrocket again?

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