Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Scripture Ought to Make You a More Interesting Person

"Why do the gospel writers read Israel's history in ways that look funny to modern sensibilities?  Is the notion of the fulfillment of Old Testament texts intellectually implausible?  The gospel writers summon us to a conversion of the imagination.  They summon us to become more interesting readers... the gospel writers are trying to make us more interesting people.  They are trying to make us more interesting readers who are not locked into this modernist literalism about everything.  I want to suggest to you that we will learn to read Scripture well only if our minds and imaginations are opened up by learning to read the Scriptural texts by learning to read in the 'figural' ways that the four gospel writers actually read Israel's Scripture.  The gospels teach us how to read the Old Testament.  And at the same time the Old Testament teach us how to read the gospels.  There is a circle of interpretation."

Richard Hays, "Do the Gospel Writers Misread the Old Testament?"

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

An Unsatisfying Hermeneutic

Dr Abraham Juruvilla of DTS is a gifted and passionate Biblical scholar and teacher.  In preparing for an upcoming sermon, I reviewed his study of the story of Abraham's call to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22.  I can honestly say that I benefited greatly from many of Dr Juruvilla's insights, but found a deep dissatisfaction with his zealous refusal to read any Christological perspective from the New Testament back into Genesis.  Dr J eschewed such attempts as confusing and actually quoted a passage from Calvin to warn against hasty redemptive-historic allegorizing.

At the end of his study, Dr J repeated his insistence that we must read the Old Testament narratives as they were written by both their author and capital-A Author to find their purpose for writing, rather than imposing symbolic meanings from the New Testament.  He then went on to say that such strict interpretation actually leads to good preaching because the capital-A Author's purpose in O.T. narratives is "always to make us more Christlike."
As much as I appreciate his point that redemptive-historical preaching can fall short in application or imperative instruction [which is can!], I was left quite befuddled how the Author always intended for us to become more Christlike as a result of our reading, but never intended for us to find Christ in what we read.

DTS has a long history of hermeneutical struggle.  Founded as a conservative and dispensational seminary, they are working to oppose liberal interpretations on the one hand, while also resisting covenantal interpretations on the other.  This is a hard task, no doubt.  My own alma mater came out of a similar origin, but I sense a movement and growth toward in better directions.  I hope this is what Dr Juruvilla's work represents also and that time will make it all the more apparent.

Dr Juruvilla is author of Genesis: A Theological Commentary for Preachers.  He has also written systematically about interpretaion in his 2013 textbook: Privilege the Text! A Theological Hermeneutic for Preaching.  He teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Deep Gospel-infused Beauty

"Bach is inseparable from the words that he uses.  He's a religious composer and his outlook on life is told to us in the cantatas.  And even in the secular music, one has to embrace his worldview.  No matter how the voice leading it is so wonderful or the counterpoint is so wonderful, it goes beyond itself.  It tries to tell us a message and that message is usually complicated.  It's not quite simple.  So I think there's a lot more to Bach than the surface."

- Murray Perahia

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Banality of Evil

In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses his considerable genius to express the abhorrent beauty of absolute evil... It's true that lady Macbeth and Macbeth are never more alive than when they contemplate killing the king.  They thrill with vitality and excitement.   But as soon as they commit the act, they're oppressed with the banality of evil.  And I'm not just talking about guilt.  To be sure they are both tormented by guilt.   But even more afflicting that Macbeth's guilt is his ennui.  His awesome will to power, magnificently manifested in Duncan's murder, gives way to an all-consuming listlessness.

He'll murder many more times, but each time it becomes more mechanical, more tiresome, more wearisome.  What really wears on Macbeth is the tedium of evil.   In his wickedness he cannot find contentment or Joy or even desire.  There's nothing but this: tomorrow tomorrow and tomorrow creeping at its petty pace to the last syllable of recorded time.  And perhaps this is the ultimate truth of the tragedy.  When decency in goodwill give way to wickedness and evil, life loses its meaning.  It can be no more than a tiresome monotony.  A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Professor Kent Lehnhof

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What Punishments of God are not Gifts?

This from a GQ interview.  Stephen Colbert describes the plane crash that suddenly killed his father and brother when he was 10 years old.
 “ ‘You gotta learn to love the bomb,’ ” he said. “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was 10. That was quite an explosion. And I learned to love it. So that’s why. Maybe, I don’t know. That might be why you don’t see me as someone angry and working out my demons onstage. It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.”…
I asked him if he could help me understand that better, and he described a letter from Tolkien in response to a priest who had questioned whether Tolkien’s mythos was sufficiently doctrinaire, since it treated death not as a punishment for the sin of the fall but as a gift. “Tolkien says, in a letter back: ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” Colbert knocked his knuckles on the table. “ ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” he said again. His eyes were filled with tears. “So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”
He was 35, he said, before he could really feel the truth of that. He was walking down the street, and it “stopped me dead. I went, ‘Oh, I’m grateful. Oh, I feel terrible.’ I felt so guilty to be grateful. But I knew it was true.”

Monday, January 23, 2017

Prayer to End Abortion on the 44th Anniversary of Roe v Wade

  Heavenly Father, rise up to protect every unborn child in our land.  We pray to you for them with confidence 
and firm trust knowing that it is your Holy Will to remove the scourge of abortion from off the face of Your 
earth. Thank you that, on this, the 44th anniversary of our Supreme Court’s infamous decision about these 
things, You have helped Your people and given many victories in defense of unborn life since then.  Continue 
these victories by Your mercy.  Change the minds and melt the hearts of all who promote this evil, or who 
seek abortion as a remedy for the troubles of their lives, which troubles are – for many – very great. Make 
us – in our lives – a testimony of sexual purity; those who cherish human life, love and help our neighbors,
 guard and adopt the fatherless and unwanted, honor Your holy image wherever it is found in mankind, and 
willingly sacrifice of ourselves, our comforts and possessions, so that we might truly be your servants and in practical ways, bring about Your Kingdom and Your righteousness. Heavenly Father, we ask you this in the 
name of Jesus, Your Son.