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keeping an eye on the tree and the forest

Dave's Exegesis is my eclectic site of exegesis on pretty much everything I can think of, whether biblical studies, theology, music, movies, culture, food, drink, sports, or the internet.

Mysterious Reflection

03.26.05

Johnny take a walk with your sister the moon
Let her pale light in to fill up your room
You’ve been living underground
Eating from a can
You’ve been running away
From what you don’t understand…
Love

She’s slippy
You’re sliding down
She’ll be there when you hit the ground

It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways

Johnny take a dive with your sister in the rain
Let her talk about the things you can’t explain
To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you want to kiss the sky
Better learn how to kneel

(on your knees boy)

She’s the wave
She turns the tide
She sees the man inside the child

It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
Lift my days, light up my nights

One day you will look…back
And you’ll see…where
You were held…how
By this love…while
You could stand…there
You could move on this moment
Follow this feeling

It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
She moves in mysterious ways
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright

We move through miracle days
Spirit moves in mysterious ways
She moves with it
She moves with it
Lift my days, light up my nights

So read the lyrics of “Mysterious Ways” by U2. I’ve been puzzled by this song for a while, trying to figure out who “she” was. Is it his wife, or women in general? I think I finally cracked this one. In listening to “Grace” on All You Can’t Leave Behind, Bono says, “Grace, it’s a name for a girl, it’s also a thought that changed the world”. I think this is undoubtedly referring to the grace of God, as would be consistent with christian orthodoxy. But it seems that just like wisdom in Proverbs 8 is personified as a woman, so Bono has taken grace and personified it as a woman (as Kalila would say, it is like the pagan personification of “Genius” and the like). This tipped me off to look for a more parabolic, illustrative alternative to understanding “Mysterious Ways”. Even in the first stanza, “You’ve been running from what you don’t understand…Love”. Thus, I think Love/Grace is what moves in mysterious ways, much like in William Cowper’s Hymn, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”. I think this understanding beautifly illuminates the song and has fed me time and again since I’ve thought of it that way. I do believe this is what Bono intended. The worship theme is woven right in “…better learn how to kneel (on your knees boy)”.

Wright on Paul

03.26.05

Here’s a recent review I did of N.T. Wright’s book, “What Saint Paul Really Said”:

N.T Wright is a master of word and thought in biblical studies. It is very rare to have one biblical scholar brood over so many fields in his/her discipline; and Wright does just that. Not only has he published the standard work on Jesus (“Jesus and the Victory of God”), but he is planning to do the same for Paul as he gives us a preview in “What Saint Paul Really Said”. He begins by presenting the most influential Pauline scholars of the twentieth century so that he can put himself in context. One key feature to Wright’s approach is his agreement with Albert Schweitzer, W.D. Davies, and E.P. Sanders of the Jewish context from which Paul writes against the likes of Rudolf Bultmann and the increasing notion that Paul was primarily Hellenistic. Wright breaks down this dichotomy, though, in showing that both the Hellenistic world and the Jewish world overlapped in their categories, yet affirms that Paul was influenced chiefly by the Hebrew Bible and the burgeoning rabbinics of the Second Temple Period. This understanding is paramount to Wright’s discussion about the Gospel that carries the rest of the book. He explores the Isaianic roots of the Gospel and unpacks his biblical theology of covenant, sin, exile, and restoration as it strings together the Old and New Testaments. This is a welcome summation of Wright’s current findings, as he writes with clariy, precision, and provocation. It is hard to imagine someone not helped in their understanding of Paul by this book.

You can check out more about Wright at his website linked under Biblical Studies.

Check That Off Your List

03.18.05

What a whirlwind of a week 3/5-3/13. Kalila got home Friday (3/4) and I was with her pretty much all week. On top of the fact that we hadn’t seen each other since January 14th, we had pretty much every wedding thing imaginable to complete this week. I took Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off to give us all the time we needed, I even skipped classes for the week. So let’s review some of the things we got done…

Saturday. In spite of the fact that we stayed up extremely late and we got out of the door at 5:00PM, we accomplished the impossible. We arrived at Portsmouth at about 6:00PM, parked at the garage, and we found our reception location immediately: The Metro (www.themetrorestaurant.com). It was essentially love at first sight and first price. Only a $400 room fee and about $29 per person, which is extremely inexpensive considering the menu, the quality of the place, and the area. From there we walked over to Prescott Park (where we thought we would have the wedding). As we tredged through the snow we came to the place we thought the ceremony would be. We found a spot under a tree, called some folks to tell them we found a place, and then we danced und the tree. As we walked back into downtown, we began to look for rehearsal dinner places, as well as place to eat since we were hungry. We stumbled upon this sweet Irish pub called Molly Malone’s and had dinner there. I can’t describe how happy we were at that moment at the pub, eating the best steak tips, having good drinks, having a great meal all around, hearing timely music being played, enjoying a window view of a rustic alley in Portsmouth, and saturating ourselves with each other’s presence. From there, we walked around, peeking into different places and talking with managers about accomadations. We found a sweet place close to the water called the Dolphin Strker (www.dolphinstrker.com) that had the look and menu we were aiming for. We spoke with the chef about times and dates and we locked it in. We left Portsmouth that night around 10:00 PM, mutually agreeing that it was one of the greatest days we’d had together.

Sunday. Going on less than 3 hours sleep, we made our way to church (struggling to stay awake). We went to care group after at Danny O’s and hung out there till about 5:00 PM. Then we made our way to Sam Fisher’s (a fellow coworker) where we had dinner with Sam, his wife Rachel, and Josh and Heidi (of the shire). We enjoyed some wonderful hours of Thai/Indonesian dining, beer, wine, a game Sam tried to teach us that Rachel didn’t want to play, and stimulating conversation. While we were there, I kept getting calls from my friend Dave Scoggins. He had wanted me and Kalila to visit with him and his wife Amamda. At first, I told him were weren’t going to make it, given our lack of sleep and long day. Then he called to see if we could come later because they were going to Guatamala that week and this would be the only time we could get together. I abliged on our behalf and we got there sometime after 10:00 PM. We stayed there for about an hour and a half and we got home late.

Monday. I had a job interview at 9:00 AM at my work so I brought Kalila down with me so she could hang out and meet some people from my work. She got to meet many famous bloggers like Gentry and Art. She met some other good friends like Bill, Price, and Pam. From there, we had lunch with my roommate at Penara’s and then spent the afternoon at Bed, Bath, & Beyond registering. At 5:00 PM, we met Danny and Cyndie O at the Wildhorse Cafe. A little later, Dr. James and wife Brooke met us there and we hung out till about 8:30 PM. We checked an apartment a little later, and then had some time at the seminary to talk some things over.

Here’s Something to Chew On

03.14.05

Here is the Statement of Faith I wrote for my Systemtic Theology III class:

A. Theological Orientation
I do not quite fit into one theological tradition because of my orientation toward biblical theology. However, I can be generally categorized as Reformed, baptistic, gently complimentarian, and cautiously charismatic. I do not necessarily embrace Covenant Theology in the traditional sense but lean towards what has been dubbed “New Covenant” Theology.
B. Doctrine of Scripture
a. Revelation. Although God makes himself known generally in creation (Ps.19:1; Rom.1:20ff.) and conscience (Rom.2:14-16), he has chosen to reveal specific details about himself that would otherwise be unknown to humanity in Holy Scripture. This revelation was to people chosen by God through dreams, visions, prophecy, signs, and providence. In Scripture, he has revealed things about his personhood and plan that are essential to believe in order to be in a favorable relationship with him.
b. Inspiration. God inspired holy men, prophets, and apostles to write the sacred Text in various literary forms to say exactly what he wanted to say using the authors’ own circumstances and personalities (2 Tim.3:15-16; 2 Pet.1.20-21). Thus we find covenantal forms, prophetic oracles, psalms/songs, wisdom literature, poetry, historic narrative, expository discourse, and apocalyptic literature each equally guided by the Spirit of God, whether consciously or unconsciously, in its original autograph, accurately portraying the heart of God (in human terms).
c. Canon. The inspired Scriptures are comprised of the portions contained in the Hebrew Bible and Greek Testament traditionally understood as the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. God has sought fit to offer everything necessary for salvation and sanctification (see below) in these writings alone, as much as they reflect the original autographs and communicate their message.
d. Inerrancy. Since the Scripture was inspired in its writing, it was without error in its first inscripturation into Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and therefore truthful and divinely authoritative in every matter it addresses.
C. Doctrine of God
a. Attributes. God is infinite, eternal, and spiritual in his being. He is infinite in his power, beauty, sufficiency, knowledge, wisdom, holiness, righteousness, mercy, grace, love, justice, wrath, and satisfaction. He is completely and fully devoted to his own pleasure and glory as the chief end of his existence. He is the creator, definer, determiner, preserver, and sovereign over all things and is unrivaled and unchallenged by another being since he created all other beings.
b. Trinity. Although God is alone in his Godhood, he enjoys infinite and eternal fellowship in himself as a triune God, existing as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Father, Son, and Spirit are distinguished in role but equal in power, essence, and glory.
D. Creation
a. Purpose of Creation. When we bring the lens of creation as far back as it goes, we can see that everything begins with God. “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever” (Rom.11:36). Thus, God loves God more than he loves anything, and His glory is the driving force behind everything He does. He is infinitely more glorious, beautiful, and desirable than anything that can be imagined. Creation is, then, designed to demonstrate and reflect His glory and beauty in all its manifestations back to Him like a mirror, so that He can receive maximum delight in Himself.
b. Theology of Creation. God spoke the physical and spiritual realms into existence out of nothing by the word of his power, creating the heavens and the earth. He created pure, spiritual, and undying angelic beings to worship Him and serve his creation, as well as perishable and exclusively physical creatures, animals and insects, to rule over the earth. No aspect of the physical world was either deified or evil in its creation, but was good in the sight of God.
E. Anthropology
a. Creation of Man/Women. As the capstone of his work, God created man in his own image, dignified and reflective of God’s creative fiat, from the dust of the earth. Man was created as both a physical and spiritual being to rule over the creatures and fill the earth with his offspring. God created woman from a rib of the man in order to be a helpmate suitable to the man for his duty and become bearer of future offspring. Thus, man and woman are distinct in their roles, but equal in their covenantal standing before God.
b. The Fall. God created the man and women, Adam and Eve, and placed them in the temple-garden Eden, commissioning them as kings and priests, to rule and guard the garden. He placed two trees in the garden to test them, charging them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or else they would die. Adam and Eve failed in their duties and transgressed their covenant with God by allowing the fallen angel Lucifer, in the form of a serpent, to enter the garden where he persuaded them to eat from the forbidden tree, subjecting them to immediate spiritual death and imminent physical death.
c. Original Sin. Man’s nature was corrupted by the sin of their first parents Adam and Eve (Gen.3). It is through their fall that this corruption spread to all people (Rom.5:12). Therefore, all human beings from birth (Psalm 51:5) are spiritually dead (Eph.2:1-3), having every part of their being tainted with sin (Rom.1). This renders man incapable of coming to God (Rom.3:10-11; 8:5-7) and helpless (Rom.5:6-8), only to expect judgment (2 Thes.1:6-10; Rev.20-21).
F. The Person and Work of Christ
a. Person of Christ/Two Natures. Jesus of Nazareth was miraculously birthed by Mary who, as a virgin, conceived him by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was born as the only God-man, fully God, and fully man. Thus, he experienced the fullness of life as a man without forfeiting any portion of his divine nature as the incarnate Son of God.
b. The Mission of Christ. Jesus was the fulfillment and consummation of the redemptive plan of God, sent as both the Redeemer of man and the Messiah of Israel. He was the “seed of the women” prophesied in Eden who would judge Satan and his offspring and bring victory to his own offspring. He covenanted with the Father, swearing to keep the law of God and fulfill all righteousness in order to inherit the throne of God.
c. The Atonement. The covenantal allegiance of Jesus led him inextricably to die on the cross of Golgotha. His death was prophesied and typologically prefigured in the Hebrew Scriptures to bear and appease the wrath of God, and thus forgive the sins and the absorb the depravity of people from every tribe, nation, and language. God vindicated Jesus from the shame of the cross by raising him from the dead three days later and seating him at the right hand of his throne. The Cross is the ratification of God’s new covenant with his people and the most precise demonstration of all the glory of God.
G. Salvation
a. Regeneration. In order to overcome the will of man which is hopelessly enslaved to sin, the Holy Spirit graciously reveals the irresistible glory of Jesus Christ to individuals who were determined by God from all eternity. In doing so, the Spirit quickens, recreates, and renews the soul to be alive to God by writing the law of God upon it and generating faith in the person and work of Christ and repentance of sins.
b. Justification/Sanctification. The initial faith that the soul exercises in the gospel of Christ is the means through which God forgives all sins of the individual, past, present, and future, and unites him with the righteousness of Christ, declaring him righteous in the sight of God. Upon receiving this gift of righteousness, the benefactor also receives sonship status as a child of God, standing to inherit infinite blessing and satisfaction from God in their imminent resurrection. The continuing faith of the newly righteous one is instrumental in conforming him to the image of Jesus Christ as future grace leads him to obedience of the law of God.
c. Perseverance. Those whom God has chosen, purchased, justified, and is sanctifying will be preserved by God in their faith all their lives. Only those who persevere in Christ to the end will experience eternal life and prove themselves to have been genuine children of God.
H. The Person/Work of the Holy Spirit
a. The Personhood of the Spirit. As the divine presence of God on earth, the Holy Spirit is the holy enabler of the purposes of God. As the Spirit which empowered many in the service of God in redemptive history, and the Spirit which rested on Christ in his ministry, the Spirit of God was promised by Jesus to be given to his followers as Teacher and Helper in his place.
b. The Fruits/Gifts of the Spirit. Beginning at the feast of Pentecost which followed the resurrection of Jesus, the Father and Son sent the Spirit upon the disciples of Christ, baptizing them all into the body of Christ. The Spirit manifests his work by producing love for God and love for man in all their variations, and he builds up the body by giving different spiritual gifts to each member of the body. Although some gifts are completely supernatural and others are woven into the fabric of one’s personality, all of the gifts, both in speaking and serving, are operative continually amongst the saints for the edification of the body.
I. The Church
a. The Nature of the Church. The local church is a small manifestation of the universal body of Christ which He loved and purchased with His death in order that He might present her holy and blameless to Himself for the glory of the Father (Acts 20:28; Eph.5:25-27). God has ordained her to represent Him in the world and show forth His glory (John 17) as the temple of God, having given them unity and spiritual gifts in the Spirit of Christ (1 Cor.12-14). Therefore, the local church has the responsibility for being a training ground for the people of God (Eph.4:11-14) so that that they might be theologically and spiritually adequate to bring the gospel to the nations (Matt.28:18-20).
b. Church Government. God has chosen to place men uniquely in authority over the church of God as its shepherds (1 Tim.2:12-15), and they, as well as other recognized servants in the church, need to meet the theological and spiritual qualifications necessary to carry out this task (1 Tim.3:1-13; Tit.1:5-14). They are not to lord over the flock of God, but should be examples, encouragers, counselors, rebukers, administrators, preachers, teachers, and servants as they lead and train (1 Thes.5:14; 2 Tim.3:14-4:2; 1 Pet.5:1-4).
J. The Sacraments
a. Baptism. God has ordained that upon confessing faith in Christ, one should be immersed in the waters of baptism as an initiatory covenantal sign, picturing union with Christ in his death and resurrection.
b. The Lord’s Supper. Before his death and resurrection, Jesus instituted the communion meal as a regular covenantal oath-sign to be enjoyed by the church, consisting of the eating of bread and drinking from the fruit of the vine. Because of the oath-sign ramifications, personal and corporate examination is appropriate before participating, giving opportunity for the confession of sin.
K. Eschatology
a. Millennium. The “millennium” is the symbolic period of time between the advents of Christ in which Satan is restricted from affecting the spread of the gospel to the nations, and dead saints reign in heaven with Christ till He returns to consummate redemptive history. Jesus inaugurated His kingdom in a real sense through His first advent to be fully consummated in His second advent (Matt.12; Luke 4; John 12; Rom.14; 2 Pet.3).
b. Second Coming. Jesus Christ will return again to the earth in all of his glory to gather and resurrect his people and gather and judge all those who are unbelieving in his gospel and unrepentant of their sins. For his people, God will renew and regenerate the heavens and earth as the New Heavens and Earth where He will dwell with them and satisfy them forever. For those unbelieving and unrepentant, God will resurrect them only to cast them into the lake of fire where they will suffer torment forever.