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Language and Humanity

"Language is, I maintain, an indispensable element of the image of God in which we are created.  (1) It likens us to God, who does all things by His powerful Word and who is identical with His word (John 1:1ff).  (2) It distinguishes us from the animals, giving us a powerful tool of dominion.  (3)  It is central to human life.  Man's first experience recorded in Scripture was the experience of hearing God's word (Gen 1:28ff), and his first task was the task of "naming" the animals (Gen. 2:19ff).  James, building on Proverbs, teaches us that if a man can control his tongue, he can control his whole body (3:1-12).  Sins of the tongue take prominence in biblical lists of sins, such as Romans 3:10-18.  Redemption is often presented as a cleansing of the lips (Isa. 6:5-7) or language (Ps. 12; Zeph. 3:9-13).

The points I have been making, then, about the responsible use of theological language, are not merely of academic interest.  Speaking truthfully, for edification (rather than speaking lies, blasphemies, and foolishness) is a crucial part of our responsibility before God (I Cor. 14:3, 12, 17, 26; Eph. 4:29)."


Thankful Thursday

In November, Rebecca hosted a month long Thanksgiving festival.  Daily, many of us shared things for which we were thankful.  It was a great blessing.

I have occasionally posted Thankful Thursday (I do love alliteration!), and I have decided to do this again throughout 2010.  It was such a good thing in November to be reminded of how thankful we are.  Thanksgiving breeds humility, and we all need that.  I invite anyone to leave a comment about things for which they are thankful.  Yes, yes, I am being a copy-cat, but copying Rebecca in this instance is a good thing!

This morning, I am thankful for the words I read in my devotions this morning, in Psalm 6:

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

I am thankful that the Lord hears me when I weep and that he hears my pleas.  While we may not have enemies like David did, some people do.  There are places in the world where persecution exists beyond anything we understand here in North America.   A day may come when we are persecuted more.  We are being persecuted in subtle ways here in Canada, with various forms of legislation that seek to inhibit the gospel and biblical living.  It is a comfort now to know that the Lord hears our pleas, and that He will in the future.

Please share a thankful thought!


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.