Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GF Handel

Happy birthday to George Friedric Handel who was born on this day in 1685. Read a brief bio here. Listen to one of my favorite selections here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

From D.A. Carson

This is today's "devotion" from D.A. Carson taken from "For the Love of God." It is too good not to share.

IN MARK 15 PEOPLE SPEAK better than they know.

“What shall I do, then,” Pilate asks, “with the one you call the king of the Jews?” (15:12). Of course, he utters the expression “king of the Jews” with a certain sneering contempt. When the crowd replies, “Crucify him!” (15:13, 14), the politically motivated think this is the end of another messianic pretender. They do not know that this king has to die, that his reign turns on his death, that he is simultaneously King and Suffering Servant.

The soldiers twist together a crown of thorns and jam it on his head. The hit him and spit on him, and then fall on their knees in mock homage, crying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” (15:18). In fact, he is more than the King of the Jews (though certainly not less). One day, each of those soldiers, and everyone else, will bow down before the resurrected man they mocked and crucified, and confess that he is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).

Those who passed by could not resist hurling insults: “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” (15:29-30). The dismissive mockery hid the truth they could not see: earlier Jesus had indeed taught that he himself was the real temple, and anti-type of the building in Jerusalem, the ultimate meeting-place between God and human beings (John 2: 19-22). Indeed, Jesus not only insisted that he is himself the temple, but that this is so by virtue of the fact that this temple must be destroyed and brought back to life in three days. If he had “come down from the cross” and saved himself, as his mockers put it, he could not have become the destroyed and rebuilt “temple” that reconciles men and women to God.

“He saved others but he can’t save himself” (15:31). Wrong again – and right again. This is the man who voluntarily goes to the cross (14:36; cf. John 10:18). To say “he can’t save himself” is ridiculously limiting. Yet he couldn’t save himself and save others. He saves others by not saving himself.

“Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe” (15:32). But what kind of Christ would they then have believed in? A powerful king, doubtless – but not the Redeemer, not the Sacrifice, not the Suffering Servant. They could not long have believed in him, for the basis of this transformation in them was the very cross-work they were taunting him to abandon.

“Surely this man was the Son of God” (15:39). Yes; more than they knew.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


"Civilization wears a thin veneer when the coffee supply is low." - Garrison Keillor

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Review: The Selfless Gene

The Selfless Gene betrays its aim in the sub-title: Living with God and Darwin. However, Charles Foster tells us more about living with Darwin than he does about living with God. I was curious as to how Foster would attempt to reconcile competing world views. I was not hopeful it could be done. In fact, little reconciliation was attempted. Foster seems to demand a capitulation to Darwin’s basic premise.

I expected this, but would have appreciated a more balanced tone. Foster aimed his significant scholarly guns squarely at the enemy: young earth creationists and theistic evolutionists. While he describes the young earth creationists as “fundamentalist” and “fearful,” he doe not define what he means by a theistic evolutionist.

He is right on target when he claims that many Bible interpreters miss the intent of Genesis. It is not a book that means to explain the problem of origins. Nonetheless, Foster must play fancy with the biblical text when it does speak about creation.

Foster’s biblical exegesis is shoddy. He draws from the well of the documentary hypothesis when he speaks of Genesis. His problem with “fundamentalists” (or young earth creationists) is that they read the Bible much differently than did Paul. The great apostle was not the biblical literalist that unsophisticated fundamentalists believe him to be.

I recently read Michael Dowd’s Thank God for Evolution. My impression is that Dowd would think Foster too far to the right in his attempts to explain the interaction of religion and evolution. Nonetheless, Dowd comes across as much more respectful of the entire concept of religious belief.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Amazing Grace

Michael Horton speaks prophetically in 1991 in Putting Amazing Back into Grace. His words ring as true today (or more so) than they did almost 20 years ago:

The Reformation produced an era of great thinkers, artists and workers because it raised God high and bowed low the human head before His majesty. Now, we have evangelical ditties instead of Bach’s or Handel’s exuberant and reverent masterpieces. Our services are often celebrations of ourselves more than they are of God, more entertainment than worship… Never before, not even in the medieval church, have Christians been so obsessed with themselves. Never before have people entertained such grandiose notions about humans and such puny views about God. Evangelists talk about God as though He were to be pitied rather than worshipped, as though He were crying His eyes out in heaven, hoping things would go better, that people would “let Him have His way.” Never before, perhaps, has God been so totally forgotten and lowered in our estimation. Self-esteem, self-image, self-confidence, self-this and self-that have replaced talk of God and His attributes…. Without the knowledge of the God in whose image we have been created, and the grace which has made of children of God, narcissism (self-love) quickly evolves into depression (self-hate).