Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hodgepodge

I will be traveling to visit New Geneva Seminary for the RCUS most of this next week, so I thought I would leave you with some posts to keep you reading.

I did write a post for Westminster Brass, if you are just dying to read new things from me.

For those of you who cannot get enough political news, do not forget that the military is fundamentally a political entity as you read about retired generals against Rumsfeld. I am not taking a stand one way or another on the Iraq war. I just think that people need a little more historical perspective about generals and politics. After Washington and Jackson were the two most popular Presidents, the army became a way for people to step into politics. James K. Polk conquered Mexico, but knew he was defeating his own political party in the process because all of his top generals were Whigs. Eventually General Zachary Taylor became President. Of course who could forget General William Henry Harrison or General Grant or Gen. Eisenhower, all of them won the Presidency, and so did Rutherford B. Hayes who also served. Generals Fremont, Scott, and Hancock all ran for the Presidency after winning party nominations. Countless others also served in politics after military careers like General Wade Hampton. If you think it is only historical figures take a look at Colon Powell or Wesley Clark. A general making political a statement is old hat and is not news worthy.

I did watch a portion of a show on National Geographic channel about the Gospel of Judas. It was basically an all out assult on Iranaeus as simply choosing four gospels when the Gospel of Judas was just as legitimate. Sad. Read a good critic of National Geographic to learn more.

If you are interested in illegal immigration then you need to be reading Philologus.

If you are going to see N.T. Wright speak soon, you should keep this critique in mind.

If you care about all things, and enjoy a good laugh from time to time, you should check in on Untied, the blog of Tucker Carlson. And if you are not watching the Situation with Tucker Carlson, then you are missing out on Willie Geist, news, laughs, and hands down the best show on TV (excluding Lost of course).

I also will be adding some new blogs to the link on the side such as The Wittenburg Door and Soli Deo Gloria.

5 Comments:

R. Scott Clark said...

Lee,

I followed the link to Westminster Brass and enjoyed it and your affirmation the boundaries inherent in the WFC (and all confessional documents). The FV whining about boundaries reveals something about their movement. They are not animated by historic or confessional Reformed Christianity.

On the FV check this out:

http://www.wscal.edu/bookstore/bookstore/audio/facultyconf2006/clark.mp3

See also:
http://69.59.173.95/faculty/wscwritings/testimonyjustification.php>

rsc

R. Scott Clark, D.Phil
Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology
Westminster Seminary California
rsclark@wscal.edu
http://www.wscal.edu/clark
"For Christ, His Gospel, and His Church."

Jay said...

In connection with your brief reference to N.T. Wright, I just read this interesting little statement, which he apparently wrote in 1999:

"[O]ften we as Christians [have] thought that the way to use the Bible to address the world was to abstract large chunky doctrines from the Bible and hurl them at the heads of people who believed large chunky modernist doctrines. You have to deconstruct the Bible in order to do that. Much better to let the Bible be what it is, which is a story, and stories are far more subversive and damaging to other alternative worldviews than large chunky doctrines ever were . . . ."

I'm interested in your response, particularly to the notion that the creation of doctrine (or at least "large chunky doctrine") is ultimately a deconstruction of the Biblical text.

By the way, I have tickets to see him speak on May 16. I'll let you know how it goes.

Lee said...

Jay,

I think this is one of the underlining problems of N.T. Wright. He prefers the ‘story’ of the bible and seems to have a strong dislike for the idea of theology, which he seems to view as ‘deconstructionist’ in nature. I could go into how Wright often puts the Bible into the context of a story that is not there with his understanding of Second Temple Judaism, and thus comes up with mutated views of Pauline theology, but that is not the issue here, although I believe them related.
I disagree that Systematic Theology is deconstructionist. First, I think the theology is clearly in the story, indeed often the point of the story. Deconstruction implies that something is being lost while mining out the theology. I disagree. I think if one does not take out the System of theology from the stories, he has missed the point of the story. It is not so much deconstruction as it is construction. Second, I think Christ and the apostles take large chunky doctrines from the story of the OT. It is hard to read Matthew’s gospel without seeing him take a piece here and piece there from the OT and showing how Christ fulfills them. What is Matthew doing if not taking the large chunky doctrine of the coming Messiah and applying them to Christ? Is Matthew not hurling this doctrine at the heads of those who disagree? Jesus seems to take the law as a doctrine and expound it on the Sermon on the Mount. I am not sure how the story of the Ten Commandments makes any difference in the explanation of the law. Was Christ being deconstructionist? I do not think so. I think the list of examples could go on and on.
Perhaps Bishop Wright is making a more subtle point, but I think the end conclusion of his argument is dangerous. It allows a story to placed on the bible for example in Paul’s epistles because without a story no meaning exists. It places too much emphasis on the story itself. The Exodus and the Passover are important, but if you focus too much on the story of the Exodus or the Passover, then you miss the point of the story, which is Christ. I also think that Jesus and the apostles give us plenty of examples of lifting doctrines from passages and using them, which can be neglected in N.T. Wright’s approach. Those are my humble thoughts.
Let me know what you think after you hear him.

Jay said...

A few additional thoughts.

I think you're absolutely right that this story/theology distinction goes to the heart of Wright's thought. But I don't think Wright made the distinction very clearly in the quote I used (in his defense, the quote was merely a parenthetical in an article on a different topic). Maybe we can draw it out a bit better.

I think you're right on again in recognizing that Wright's criticism is directed against the idea of taking a "System of theology from the stories." But I find it hard to see how Matthew is being "systematic" in this way. Isn't it more accurate to view Matthew as responding to existing promises of a Messiah with a story about Jesus meant to show his readers that Jesus is that Messiah? If he were doing systematic theology, wouldn't Matthew have been a lot more propositional about it?

Of course, that's not to say Matthew's point isn't theological, in the sense that his story has a lot to say about who God is. But I don't think he's hurling a "doctrine" at his opponents heads. He's telling a story about things that actually happened, set against the context of Messiah prophesies. This is more like fact-hurling than doctrine-hurling --- unbelievers understood the Messiah doctrine in a particular way (that the Messiah would be a conquering king), and Matthew addresses them by telling them a story about what Jesus said and did, culminating in how he was resurrected from the dead.

Unfortunately, after three paragraphs, I don't think I'm any closer to drawing a better line between story and theology. Except that it seems to me that the two are inextricably intertwined in the four gospels and Acts. So maybe you can do a better job of pulling the two apart than I did. I have to get back to work anyway.

Lee said...

I do think Matthew was doing systematic theology in a sense. Just because it does not look like modern Systematic books with dry propositions all over the place does not change what he did. Matthew went into the stories of the OT and pulled out over 40 propositions about the Messiah. He then applied those propositions to the story of Jesus Christ. In a sense he showed his Jewish friends who rejected Jesus their system of theology concerning the coming Messiah, and showed how Jesus fulfilled them. Matthew cannot even tell the story of Jesus without giving the prophecies fulfilled to explain the story for the reader. You can call it fact hurling if you want. I see no difference between fact hurling and hurling doctrine at people's heads.
Of course this is just staying in books like Matthew which are historical accounts. I believe Wright's point losses ground in other books like Romans, which reads very much like a system of theology. And Proverbs where no story exists, and it is nothing but a long string of propositions.