Training in Righteousness
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Learning about theology from a theologian

I'm currently reading about language as a tool of theology.  In the chapter "The Situational Perspective - Language as a Tool of Theology," John Frame first points out that theology and Scripture use language.   As well as being something we live, theology is a body of language.  Theology not is Scripture, however.  The job of theology is to explain Scripture, which requires the use of language.  In this chapter, Frame discusses the strengths and the limitations of language as a tool of theology. 

One of the things he brings out is that all languages lack total precision.  Vagueness is a part of any language.  Scripture is no different.  It contains vagueness, in Frame's opinion by design.  Ultimately, our standard is Scripture, and in our efforts to explain theology, we have to remember that the systems we use to explain Scripture are only tools.  As we try to be precise in our descriptions, it may be tempting to place more reliance on the system than the Word.  I like what Frame says here:

The fact is that Scripture, not some form of "precise" theology, is our standard.  And Scripture, for God's good reasons, is often vague.  Therefore there is no way of escaping vagueness in theology, creed, or subscription without setting Scripture aside as our ultimate criterion.  Theology does not dare to try to improve the preciseness of Scripture.  Its only role is to apply what Scripture teaches.  Let us be satisfied with that modest task, for it is glorious.

I like the fact that Frame, a theologian himself, sees the limitations of theology, yet sees the pleasure in it.


The Reprisal

In my church history reading, I'm looking at the time of the English Civil War, which pitted Royalists against Parliamentarians, but also saw division along religious lines, specifically the tensions between the Puritans and the Church which had become established during the reign of Elizabeth I.  In a lecture I heard by Dr. David Calhoun, he talked about the contributions of the Anglicans.  One of them, he said, was their contribution to devotional life.  One of those contributions to devotional life is found in the poetry of Anglicans such as George Herbert.  Herbert, along with John Donne is one of my most favourite poets.   This poem is called "The Reprisal."

I have considered it, and find
There is no dealing with thy might passion:
For though I die for thee, I am behind;
My sins deserve the condemnation.

O make me innocent, that I
May give a disentangled state and free:
And yet thy wounds still my attempts defy,
For by thy death I die for thee.

Ah! was it not enough that thou
By thy eternal glory didst outgo me?
Couldst thou not grief's sad conquests me allow,
But in all vic'tries overthrow me?

Yet by confession will I come
Into thy conquest; though I can do nought
Against thee, in thee I will overcome
The man, who once against thee fought.


When homeschooled kids grow up

I appreciated this story from Gene Veith very much.

The article discusses how homeschooled students fare in adult life.  Here is a brief excerpt:

“Overall, homeschooling graduates appear to be very content with the education they received, as well as being happier and more satisfied with their work and life than similarly aged Canadians, and, indeed, young citizens of other countries,” researchers noted in their report, titled “Fifteen Years Later: Home-Educated Canadian Adults.”

Read Gene Veith's post on this, where you can find a link to the entire story.



The blessing of the written word

At the ladies' bible study I attend twice a month, we are studying Exodus.  During the Christmas break, I have been reading through the entire book and doing brief summaries just to keep in my head the overall context of the book.  I was reading Exodus 28 the other day, and I was amazed at the details.  This chapter describes the priestly garments that Moses was to have made.  The details are very exact and specific.

These directions were given orally.  They had to be remembered.  They weren't included as an attachment to an e-mail that sits in your inbox for months or years on end.  The demands on a auditory culture are something I don't think we really comprehend.  We are used to having cheap paper and other media to remind us of things.  There was a day when paper, while accessible, was probably expensive.  Paper is fairly cheap now, but people are beginning to rely on hand held items to carry their information.  Pretty soon, I suspect that we will have to have a myriad of "apps" at our disposal just to go to the bathroom.  Eventually, I think, hand held devices like cell phones will become cheap like paper because everyone will have to have them to get by.  Maybe paper will get more expensive or harder to find. I wonder if there will be a day when the Bible will have to be purchased via getting an "app" on a cell phone.  The paper ones will be antiques.  Animal activists everywhere will stand up and cheer because calf skin will no longer be used to bind Bibles.

The children of Isreal did not have such ease with taking in information.  They had to remember what God said to them.  They needed to be reminded often.  Things had to be passed down orally to their children and to their children's children.  Even as early as the sixteenth century, people had to memorize a lot if they wanted to remember things.  Think of the expectations put on a brain that must learn in a strictly auditory environment.  Think about only ever being able to know Scripture by hearing it and then memorizing it.  It really does amaze me what our ancestors lived with.  We have innumerable ways to access Scripture, and yet we are probably a very biblically illiterate society.  It's quite a paradox.


Heart Aflame - January 3rd

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.  Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”  Psalm 2:1-6

Why do nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?  We know how man conspired against David, and endeavoured to prevent his coming to the throne, but David was thoroughly persuaded that he had been made king by divine appointment.  He encouraged himself by strong confidence in God against the whole world as he nobly poured contempt both on kings and their armies, because they waged war, not against mortal man, but against God himself.  The ground of such confidence was that he only followed the call of God.  From this he concluded that in her person, God was assailed; and God coult not but show himself the defender of the kingdom of which he was the founder.  God principally proves his faithfulness in this, that he does not forsake the work of his own hands, but continually defends those whom he has once received into his favour.

By honouring himself with the title of the Anointed, David declares that he regined only by the authority and command of God.  That he prophesied concerning Christ, is clearly manifest from this, that he knew his own kingdom to be merely a shadow.  Those things which David testified concerning his own kingdom are properly applicable to Christ.

Let this, therefore, be held as a settled point, that all who do not submit themselves to the authority of Christ make war against God.  Since it seems good to God to rule by the hand of his own Son, those who refuse to obey Christ himself deny the authority of God, and it is vain for them to profess otherwise.

Wicked men may not conduct themselves as wickedly as they please, but they shall at length feel what it is to make war aginst heaven.  God is so far exalted above the men of this world, that the whole mass of them could not possibly obscure his glory in the least degree.  As often, then, as the power of man appears formidable to us, let us remember how much it is transcended by the power of God.  In these words there is set before us the unchangeable and eternal purpose of god effectually to defend the kingdom of his Son, of which he is the founder; and this may well support our faith amid the troublous storms of the world.  Whatever plots, therefore, men may form against it, let this one consideration be sufficient to satisfy us, that they cannot render inneffectual the anointing of God.