“Show me your tomes, and I will draw you a napkin.”
The usual way to approach a theological problem is to read just about everything written on the subject by just about everybody else, and quote just about every one of them in a book that almost nobody is going to read. And the result most often looks like the same landscape just slightly rearranged. There is little or no progress.
Although the value of such work should never be underestimated, true innovation in any field seems to be achieved by someone willing to attack a problem from an entirely fresh angle. Mathematician and Nobel Prize winner John Nash (the subject of the movie A Beautiful Mind) was one such individual. Another, also a Nobel Prize winner, was physicist Dr Richard Feynman. His approach to science is very much like the approach of the school of biblical theology to which I subscribe. The scientist observing the laws of nature is like someone, who does not know the rules of chess, watching a game and attempting to make sense of it.
or Baptism into Baal
Then you shall say to Pharaoh,
‘Thus says the Lord,
Israel is my firstborn son,
and I say to you,
“Let my son go that he may serve me.”
If you refuse to let him go,
I will kill your firstborn son.’”
My Federal Vision friends believe baptism is an important subject, from both theological and pastoral points of view. I agree, but for me it is also an issue of aesthetics. The Bible has a wonderfully consistent internal logic, and paedobaptism crunches the gears at every turn.
Peter Leithart just posted something concerning baptism, and it’s worth answering, not only “because somebody on the internet is wrong,” but also because it is an issue I’ve just finished dealing with in The Shape of Galatians. It should be noted that Trinity House is hosting some lectures on sacraments by a baptist, so Dr Leithart and his colleagues have a spirit that should be imitated by theologians everywhere. My own posts here are always bait in the hope of a bite, a friendly disputatio, so don’t take them the wrong way. If a friend has soup on his tie, or wax in his ear, or a fertility rite in his sacrament, what sort of friend isn’t going to point it out!?
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6).
A Picture for Doug Wilson’s 1000 Words
Doug Wilson writes:
We honestly have very little idea what Jesus Christ looked like. We worship Him as the visible image of the invisible Father, and yet we do not know what that visible image looks like. What kind of visible image is that? We know what the paintings of Him look like, and they generally all have something in common with one another, but the fact remains that if you ever passed Jesus Christ on a crowded city street, you would have no idea that you had done so.
Nevertheless, we all still think of Him as a recognizable figure. But He is only “recognizable” because of the various forms of shorthand shifts we have come up with that prevent us from recognizing Him properly. And so what do I mean by “properly?”
I mean the way God intended for us to recognize Him—in and through the proclamation of the gospel. We are supposed to see the face of Jesus Christ in and through the declaration of what Scripture describes as good news—gospel truth. This is where we are supposed to find the only authorized portrait of Jesus.
This is a profound truth, and Doug illustrates it with a long list of other profound truths (in over 5000 words). For me, however, he has failed to tie it all together. What is the significance of the face of Jesus Christ? Could the reason we have no description of his looks be the fact that He has more than one face?
God loves His architecture. The first chapter of the Bible is architecture. The books of Moses and the book of Revelation are filled with architecture, and the same floorplan underlies every book in between. Most Christians don’t understand the Bible’s architecture and modern Christians not only do not understand it, they do not care for it. But God loves His architecture. To love the Bible one must love its architecture. To understand the Bible, one must let the architecture inform one’s understanding.
“Titus was the only individual in history that could be said to have fulfilled Jesus’ prophecies concerning the Son of Man.” – Joseph Atwill
“But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:17-23)
Joseph Atwill is a biblical scholar who believes that the Gospels were a satirical invention of the Romans for the purpose of pacifying the Jews. This sounds harebrained, but as I have written elsewhere (see Jesus’ Caesars), he does have a gut sense of the way the Scriptures speak. He has observed that the conquest of Judea by Titus follows a similar route to the one traced by Jesus in the Gospels one generation earlier. Atwill’s conclusion is back-to-front, but his observation remains profound. If Judea would not accept the true King of the Jews, she would be “ministered to” by a Prince of the Gentiles. Jesus’ ministry ended with the tearing of the Temple Veil. Titus’ campaign ended with the destruction of the entire Temple.
“What time Ierusalem that Cittie faire,
Was sieg’d and sackt by great Vespatians heire”
(Thomas Dekker, Canaans Calamitie, Ierusalems Misery)
What follows is an excerpt from Atwill’s book, Caesar’s Messiah, which includes the kind of chart you might be used to finding around here.
* * * * * * *
[A guest post by Chris Wooldridge]
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Matthew 11:21-24)
If we are paying careful attention to the historical context of this passage, it should be clear enough that the “day of judgment” referred to was fulfilled in the Jewish war of 66-70 AD. But why then does he seem to bring Tyre and Sidon/Sodom onto the scene in verses 22 and 24? Are we dealing here with a future judgment of the inhabitants of these cities, perhaps one which awaits the second coming of Christ?
or Nailed to the Mast
Rachel Held Evans is a writer who likes the challenge of “asking tough questions about Christianity in the context of the Bible Belt” while consulting the howling void of modern culture for the answers. That is indeed a challenge. She takes Christians to task for referring to the de-Christianizing of Christmas as “persecution”, offering a helpful chart.
“And as he prayed, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his clothing was white and glistening.” (Luke 9:29, King James 2000 Bible)
The Tabernacle was covered in three layers: linen, red-dyed ramskin, and a third layer of tachash. What’s tachash? The word is a mystery, and there have been many suggestions concerning its meaning, from unicorn to dolphin. But perhaps that mystery has now been solved. And the glistening solution is nothing like you’d imagine in a million years.
Busts of Vespasian and Titus in the British Museum
or The Coming of the Father and the Son
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.
Is there any significance in the fact that apostate Jerusalem was destroyed by two generals, a father and a son, founders of a new Roman dynasty?
A Guest Post by Chris Wooldridge
I’ve been looking at the usual places in the Old Testament from where Paedobaptism is normally defended and I think I’m leaning fairly solidly in the credobaptist direction now. Here’s why: