Thursday, October 26, 2006
The Gospel, that is.

The usual metho-bapti-costal misunderstanding of Luke 15 always involves a misunderstanding of vs. 17-20:

When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.

Always **ALWAYS** these verses are interpreted as an example of the younger son's repentance. In fact, this passage is one of the crucial examples used in "Decision Theology". The younger son "comes to his senses" and decides to return to his Father. It's a clear example of the decision we all must make when "come to the Lord," right? Here, for example:

“He came to himself.” He was not himself before. He wasn’t thinking clearly. This parable doesn’t tell the whole story. Because we know that he did not come to himself by himself! Whenever we see a sinner “come to himself,” we know that God is at work in their hearts!

Though not the main point of this parable, these verses contain an excellent model of genuine repentance. He recognized the desperate situation in which he was (v. 17). His confession of sin acknowledged both his earthly and heavenly fathers. All sin effects both other people and is ultimately against God! This must be acknowledged!

The heart repentance of the son resulted in action. Repentance is a change of mind that brings about a change in action! His father saw him while he was still a long ways off. That means he was looking for him! Elaborate on the love of the father shown in his watching and running. He still smelt like the pig pen, but he had repented and was received!

This is a perfect example of what Solarblogger calls GLAWSPEL (gospel undercut by the admixture of law): the Good Pastor puts a veneer around repentance by saying that, "Whenever we see a sinner “come to himself,” we know that God is at work in their hearts!" But he then undercuts this by the next two paragraphs, with the implication that everyhing hinges on the son's confession: "This [effect of sin] must be acknowledged!" So, which is it? Who gets the credit, here? I'm sure the Good Pastor Weaver would say, "Well, of course, God gets the credit. But the sinner still had to DO something!"

[/LOOP]

Who gets the credit, here? "Well, of course, God gets the credit. But the sinner still had to DO something!"

[/LOOP]

Who gets the credit, here? "Well, of course, God gets the credit. But the sinner still had to DO something!"

[/LOOP]

Who gets the credit, here? "Well, of course, God gets the credit. But the sinner still had to DO something!"

[/LOOP]

You get the idea... So God -- what? -- gives the son a little bit of Grace, and then it's up to the son to act on it...is that it?

"Well, yeah, that sounds about right." [NB - that was a fictional conversation; I'm not trying to put words in anyone's mouth!]

Good. Thanks. For the record, that's what the Roman Catholic Church calls "infused grace" and the Methodists call "prevenient grace." And the Protestant Reformers rejected it as semi-Pelagianism. But I digress...

Does the younger son really "repent" in Luke 15? Perhaps some Lutherans know where I am going with this (I know Solarblogger does). But it's worth repeating even if most of you do, since this passage is associated with the very heart of the Gospel: Justification by Grace Alone through Faith Alone.

What does the younger son say?

"Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men."


We forget, sometimes, that Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, knows every word of the Scriptures by heart: he should, he wrote them. When Jesus uses words, he is never careless. Likewise his audience: they are not careless about HOW they listen. When they hear something familiar, they know that it is being used for a purpose. So, for example, when Jesus (in Mark 12) tells the parable of the wicked tenants, his listeners know that he is quoting Isaiah 5 and expanding on it. Likewise in Luke 15.

To whom is Jesus alluding when he puts those precise words into the son's mouth?

Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the LORD your God to take this deadly plague away from me." (Ex 10:16-17)

So, Jesus puts something closely approximating Pharoah's words into the son's mouth. Pharoah was hardly being honest when he said those words. He yet had deceitful machinations in his heart, and this is Jesus's clue to the Pharisees who are listening to Him tell this story. The son is not repenting, he is making plans.


The son has not yet realized that his problems aren't about a lack of money or food. His problem is the broken relationship with his father, and he has no plans to go back and fix that. In fact, he has plans to go back and remain outside of the family: "Make me like one of your servants." He still does not want to be his father's son. He's a conniving, deceitful little prick who just wants food in his belly.

No, folks, this is not repentance. It is anti-repentance: he was "in control" when he left his Father's house, and he plans on being "in control" when he returns.

The moment of repentance is the blank space between verse 21 and verse 22: when he stops talking, stops doing, and passively accepts what his Father does for him.

"Ah! SEE! He stopped talking! So he did DO something."
Wrong. Look closely at the text:

The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

Notice that the Father completely ignores the carefully prepared speech. The son is talking, but the Father turns around and starts talking to the servants.

Grace will not even allow deceit to finish its sentence. Repentance is not active; it is passive.

Some readers may recognize the exposition here as coming from Kenneth E. Bailey's various works on Luke 15. See here, here, here and here.
 
The Republican National Committee ought to be ashamed of itself. Ken Mehlman should resign by the end of the day tomorrow.

First, watch this video of the attack ad on Harold Ford, the Democrat Candidate for senate in Tenessee.



This ad is not suggestively racist. It is not covertly racist. It is outright, overtly, and intentionally racist. Some sceptics (like the Freepers here) doubt that it's racist, and Ken Mehlman says he doesn't see it.

Well, retards, here's the explanation. I'll try to keep it simple for your little brains.

First of all, in the opening sequence, we learn that black women vote for good looking men. Not smart men; not qualified men. Just good looking men. But the key is the blonde bimbo in the ad.

She shows up first in the middle of the ad, saying she had met Harold Ford "at the Playboy Party." This is the setup: it puts the categories "white woman" and "sex" into the viewers' minds. Hold that thought for a minute.

The ad plays on fear, which is nothing new, nearly all political ads do.

  • The First Fear is the fear of the "good looking" but vapid politician: think Dan Quayle or Robert Wexler.
  • The Second Fear is the fear of terror. Perhaps this is a legitimate concern about Ford, I don't know.
  • The Third Fear is the fear of estate taxes. A vastly overstated fear.
  • The Fourth Fear is gun control. A legitimate concern; so legitimate in fact, that this issue alone deserves its own ad.
  • The Fifth Fear...oops, here's the bimbo...doing the setup for the ULTIMATE FEAR.
Where were we? Oh, yes...
  • The Fifth Fear is the marriage tax fear, which blatantly misrepresents Ford's position.
  • The Sixth Fear is North Korea, which, again, is a legitimate concern and I don't know Ford's position.
  • The Seventh Fear is tainted money, which given the jack Abramoff fiasco right now, is a case of Republicans in Glass Houses throwing stones.
  • The Eighth Fear: BLACK MEN ARE STEALING OUR WHITE WOMEN!!!

Yep, folks, it's anti-miscegenation all over again. Roll back your calendars to 1966. (1966? That's not so far back! But that's as far as you need to go until you find anti-miscegenation laws still on the books. Which means, of course, that there are a lot of people still living now who remember the good ol' days.) If you can, roll 'em back even farther! Let's go back to the turn of the (20th) century, when we could discuss this blight openly, shall we?

See the pretty white girls running (well,swimming) away from the black man as fast as they can?



See the sex-crazed white man who is so out of control that he would even go after a "stinking wench"?



I know of another such piece of anti-miscegenation propaganda which depicts a white woman in a swimming pool, the top of her bosom just out of the water, with two black men looking on. One black man says to another, "I just love white meat!" The cartoon is a double-entendre, since it is referring both to the association of black people and the consumption of fried chicken, and then referring to the white woman (whose breasts they are ogling) as "white meat."

Make no mistake, folks, the message of this ad is clear:

If you vote Democrat, we'll have mixin' of the races, and that can't be good.

(NB: for the really, really pea-brained people out there, this post is not intended to be an endorsement of Harold Ford.)
 
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Heh. That was the alternate title for this post at the nonist.

Personally, I've worked in three of the libraries pictured -- The Rijksmuseum, the Handelingenkamer, and the British Library -- although the picture for the British Library is actually from the old building (now the British Museum), not the new. I've only worked in the new building.

Apart from these, some of my personal favorites are the Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge, the Bodleian, at Oxford, and the John Rylands Library - Deansgate, in Manchester.
 
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
My son Eli's first experience with bananas did not go so well...

Incoming!



Damage assessment...



Total catastrophe!


and a couple more for good measure:






 
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
When God lays out a punishment, is it a sin to try to avoid the punishment?

Surely, we cannot hide from God: "There is no dark place, no deep shadow, where evildoers can hide." says Job. (34:22) And God declares that He will hunt Israel down for the wrongs she has done:

If they dig into Sheol,
from there shall my hand take them;
if they climb up to heaven,
from there I will bring them down.
If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
from there I will search them out and take them;
and if they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.
And if they go into captivity before their enemies,
there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them;
and I will fix my eyes upon them
for evil and not for good. Amos 9:2-4

But these passages do not quite answer the question. Of course we can't hide from God, but is it a sin to even attempt it? Bear in mind, I have no misconception regarding sin: we mortals would neverhteless be sinners even if we committed no actual sinful act. As the Solid Declaration states:

we all by disposition and nature inherit from Adam such a heart, feeling, and thought as are, according to their highest powers and the light of reason, naturally inclined and disposed directly contrary to God and His chief commandments, yea, that they are enmity against God, especially as regards divine and spiritual things.

I'm not trying to parse out sin, here. I'm just trying to figure out how far this goes. One is certainly led to think, "Yes, it is a sin."
 
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Welcoming a fellow ex-Assemblies of God now LCMS blogger The Lonely Way to the blogosphere.
 
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Pastor Glen over at Incarnatus Est links to a new offering out of Ft. Wayne called Socratic Stammtisch. The good Pastor wonders, "What is a stammtisch? I am sure it is dreadfully important but I haven't a clue."

Stammtisch is "table talk" in action. Informal conversation amongst friends: coffee talk. It's often used as a way for students learning to speak German to be able to hone their skills.

Speaking of "coffee talk", when I headed over to Socratic Stammitsch, there was an amusing post on the death of Common Sense. One thing that struck me, however, was this line:

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

It's surprising that the mythology around this event (the woman in New Mexico was awarded $3,000,000 in her lawsuit against McDonald's after she spilled the coffee in her lap) lives on. There are indeed cases (like the all too real case where a home invader sues a homeowner when he gets injured "on the job" as it were) where judge and jury had clearly checked their brains at the door. The McDonald's case was not one of them.

The woman in question (Mrs. Liebeck) had purchased a cup of coffee in a drive-through McDonalds, after which she placed it in her lap, and spilled it when she attempted to doctor it up with cream and sugar (which actually was her real mistake!) Hot coffee sloshed all over her inner thighs, genitals and rump.

Now, have you assumed, Gentle Reader, that Mrs. Liebeck was driving the car? I didn't say she was. Yet my paragraph above lets you assume that she was, and in fact, most news accounts of the story were written in similar fashion to how I presented it.

It is very important to note that Mrs. Liebeck was NOT driving the car. She didn't spill it while driving; she wasn't fumbling with the gear shift or the brake, or the steering wheel. And, furthermore, the car was stopped when she spilled the coffee.

Now, for most people, the story ends right there: "What a dolt!," they'll say. Well, dolt or not, Mrs.Liebeck was in pain, so her grandson (who was driving the car) took her to the emergency room. As it turned out, she had 3rd degree burns over 6% of her body, and was hospitalized for eight days.

Here is the interesting part: "hot coffee" does not cause 3rd degree burns. 3rd degree burns can only be caused by really, really f-----g HOT coffee. The difference, as it turns out, between 1st degree and 3rd degree is not two degrees, but 40 degrees.

Our avergae coffee maker at home dispenses our morning joe at F140 degrees. Liquid at that temperature will sure hurt, and will cause 1st degree burns. But to get 3rd degree burns, the coffee has to be at least F180 degrees.

So here is the legal part. This case was not about "common sense" -- in fact, Mrs. Liebeck was the first to admit that putting the coiffe in her lap was dumb. The question is what reasonable expectation do consumers have about food they are served? In this case, "common sense" says that "hot coffee" should be in a restaurant as it is at home, or at least within a reasonble (i.e., non-harmful) range.

If the coffee is not within a reasonable range, the next question is, to what extent (if any) is the restaurant resonsible for it? That depends largely on whether or not the restaurant knew that its coffee was substantially hotter that people's normal coffee, and whether or not the restaurant knew how dangerous that temperature was. As it turned out, McDonalds knew both of these things: 1) that the coffee they served was far hotter (40 to 50 degrees) than people brewed in their own homes, and 2) that coffee at the temperature they served would cause 3rd degree burns if it came into contact with the skin.

McDonalds had had (if memory seves) not one, not two, not three, but six different civil actions filed against it for this very same problem in the state of New Mexico alone. Nationwide, there had been hundreds. And still they served their coffee at 180-190 degrees.

Mrs. Liebeck did not, at first, file suit. She simply wrote to McDonalds an asked them to help with her medical bills. As it turns out she had to have massive skin grafts done on her legs. McDonalds at first did not even do her the courtesy of replying.

To make a long story short, the jury didn't award Mrs. Libeck $3,000,000 in order to account for her pain and suffering, they did it to punish McDonalds for willfully ignoring a dangerous situation. And, in the end, the award was eventually reduced to something in the neighborhood of $250,000, a sum which (after her lawyer's fees and medical bills) amounted to nearly nothing for Mrs. Liebeck.

In the end, when I read something like this:

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.


it takes the fun out of the rest of the piece. She "spilled a little in her lap"??? The woman's injuries were so severe that if she had been of "child-bearing years", she likely would have lost that ability. She certainly would have lost the ability to deliver the child normally. The perineum gets massively stretched during delivery, but since burned skin loses its ability to stretch, well...you see.

Now, why am I rehashing something so old as this? Well, because it showed up in the post over at Socratic Stammtisch, that's why...and because I'm stuck on a latin translation and I needed something else to think about for a little while.

I should note that Socrates (Pr. D) did not write this article, and that furthermore, he says he's not sure if he agrees with the article 100%. Good. Let's hope he doesn't agree with that part.
 
Thursday, October 05, 2006
...if this Eric Phillips guy has his own blog out there somewhere?

If he doesn't he should. I'm sure I can find some biblical passage to twist to make it sound like he's sinning of he doesn't blog...

Something along the lines of...If you really "love your neighbor as yourself" then you'll share your fine intellectual thoughts on a blog. If you don't, well...you're missing out on the victorious christian life.

Or something like that.
 
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
If "Speaker of the House Nanci Pelosi" aren't the six scariest words in the English language right now, I don't know what are...