Thursday, September 20, 2007

I moved

I moved here.

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Ok, one more.

1 John 2:2 "... and [Christ] Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

I know that universalism could be argued down from other passages in the NT, but as I ran across this last night, I asked myself why I had never read it so clearly before. At face value, does this passage, in context, advocate universalism? Or at the very least, a moderated universalism?

It literally says, "Christ paid for the sins of the whole world." If the whole world refers only to the remnant from every tongue, tribe and nation, then who is John referring to as "us"? I would think that he is referring to all believers there.

At the very least, Limited Atonement is not compatible with this verse, at face value.

Thoughts? Rebuttals? Papal bans?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm on a roll

Ok. Here's another question.

Once you get past primary issues of theology (divinity of Christ, afterlife, etc.) to secondary issues (nature of predestination, filioque clause) where there are many opinions on various issues, I want to know: is it better to have an informed opinion?

Let me explain. We could have some opposing scenarios here.

a) In one instance, I am a rock critic for a magazine. I have spent years and years studying and writing about rock and roll. I have written books on the subject. You tell me that you absolutely love the Journey song "Anyway You Want It". If I tell you, "that song is awful -- it is not a good song," does my experience and knowledge make it true? Well, probably not. I could argue that it is not a good song by some criterion or another, but in the end, because a big part of that song's goodness or badness is not humanly knowable, we are both neither right nor wrong.

b) You have been a carpenter for 30 years. You come over to my house and I start boring you to tears with my story of how I made a birdhouse. I say something like, "the best way to make a birdhouse that will not fall apart is X." You respond and say, "No, actually, in my experience it has been Y. You are an idiot, and your birdhouse will fall apart in a month." In this case, you could be justified, because given your experience, you probably know a lot more about carpentry than I do.

c) I am your boss. We are discussing project plans. We come to a scenario where there are two ways the project could go. You feel that one of them would be much more successful, whereas I, as the boss, decide that the other way is better. We do it my way, because I'm the boss.

Now, in an age (much like Luther's) where mass media and education have made knowledge more broadly distributed than ever before, which of these scenarios best illustrates the desired relationship between ministry staff and laity in churches? Or etc., when a disagreement arises?

We had some people leave our church a few weeks ago, amicably -- but they had one view of Spiritual Gifts, that our church no longer had. Or rather, that our pastor no longer had, really. Situations like this are bound to come up all the time ... so what's the right tack to take? Live and let live, or do you as staff (or as laity) have a responsibility to bring those who disagree with you in line, or part ways? Does an M. Div. or Ph. D., or a career in ministry, really mean that you will always understand the Bible better than those around you? Or is it the privilege of church leadership to decide the direction that others will take?

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Response to "Filioque?"

I responded here.

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The Filioque?

Do you guys know what that word means? I had to look it up. But once I did, I remembered that it was the intellectual reason behind (or in front of?) the political reason for the Great Schism ... the split of the Catholic and Orthodox churches in ... 1054? The basic idea is this: they took issue with the addition of a clause to the Nicene creed: instead of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father, according to the new (in 1054) clause the HS proceeds from the Father and the Son. This guy mentions, and I am surprised I never realized it before, that this is hardly ever an issue that comes up when protestants/evangelicals have issues with the Orthodox church. And yet, because of it's impact on our understanding of the Trinity, it seems like it would be a more significant question than icons or veneration of Mary.

So ... two questions for all you intellectuals out there ...

1) Do you think there's a significant difference between the two Trinity conceptions? I've heard before that the filioque was merely a pretext for the Eastern church to get out from under the domineering thumb of the Bishop of Rome. Is it a straw man, or a real distinction? How would the Eastern perspective change their understanding of the Trinity?

2) According to this guy, the Western conception of the Trinity is rooted in Augustine and is in conflict with "Sola Scriptura". Is this a just accusation? Why or why not? And no fair putting anything like "Augustine was inspired by God" or "The continuum of church history and theology followed ..." in there.

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