25 December 2013

Longfellow on Christmas

And in despair I bowed my head;
    "There is no peace on earth," I said;
        "For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!" 
    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men." 
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Christmas Bells"

23 December 2013

She is a woman

The average Christian in the world right now is an African or Latin American female in her early 20’s. She doesn’t read our blogs and she doesn’t read Christianity Today. She doesn’t know or care who I am and she never will. The names Piper, Driscoll, Chan, Bell, Stanley, Warren—mean nothing to her. Like most Pentecostal women coming into the kingdom around the world, words like “complementarian” and “egalitarian” are not in her vocabulary, nor Calvinism and Arminianism. Unlike some of my brothers would lead you believe (where their lunch table is the only one that cares about Scripture and the Gospel while anybody who believes differently from them in these tired conversations are flaming liberals), she takes the authority of the Bible very seriously. But more importantly, she believes in the power of the Bible in ways that are incomprehensible even for our most rabid “conservatives.” The western filter and language that frames these issues will not be determinative for her, unlucky as she is not to read our blogs. She may well in end up leading a church one day where she preaches Jesus like a woman on fire and lays hands on the sick and watches God heal them, though this will surprise those Reformed colleagues who are sure all female church leaders have been trained by godless-Unitarian-lesbian-leftist-radical feminist-seminarians (she didn’t have access to seminary at all–unfortunately she has read the Acts of the Apostles). Who knew?
— Jonathan Martin

02 December 2013

Fear not deconstruction

The incredulity of postmodernity toward metanarratives derives from the fact that modernity denies its own commitments, renounces its faith, while at the same time never escaping it. … In contrast to this auto-legitimation, modern scientific culture externalizes the problem of legitimation. …. As such, modern legitimation has recourse to a universal criterion: reason—a (supposedly) universal stamp of legitimation. This move generates what Lyotard famously describes as metanarratives: appeals to criteria of legitimation that are understood as standing outside any particular language game and thus guarantee universal truth 
In this sense, the postmodern critique described by Lyotard as incredulity toward metanarratives represents a displacement of the notion of autonomous reason as itself a myth. And that is a project with which Christians ought to ally themselves, particularly once we have clarified that such an alliance does not require jettisoning the biblical narrative. By calling into question the idea of an autonomous, objective, neutral rationality, I have argued that postmodernity represents the retrieval of a fundamentally Augustinian epistemology that is attentive to the structural necessity of faith preceding reason, believing in order to understand—trusting in order to interpret. While this Augustinian structure is formalized—in the sense that there is a plurality of faiths, as many as there are language games—the structure (of faith preceding reason) remains in place, in contrast to modern (and perhaps even Thomistic) epistemologies (theories of knowledge). 
— James A. Smith, "Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church."

01 December 2013

Breakeven

The prophecy of Daniel 2 is a significant part of Adventist theology. The image of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay symbolizing the progress of world history represented by major empires. I take great pleasure in the thought of the rock in 2:34ff that will destroy the image, crushing it into pieces and then enveloping the whole world. Adventist theology espouses this rock as the second advent; it is Jesus coming in clouds of glory, not as the millenialists believe it as the reign of the church and the kingdom in peace until the advent. This rock will come once and for all; it is Jesus who will come to destroy empire and violence. He will come to crush the systems of oppression man as created, capitalism and communism, and he will rule in peace and justice. Jesus comes to liberate us. I take great pleasure in dwelling on Jesus’ destruction of the empire once and for all. The darkness and powers of this world will not hold us forever.