The Origins of Life

Either the universe had a personal beginning, or an impersonal beginning. The universe is therefore either an impersonal universe, or a personal one. If it is an impersonal universe, the evolvement of personality is a sad thing, because there is no satisfactory explanation giving meaning to thinking, acting, communicating, loving, having ideas, choosing, being full of creativity, and responding to the creativity of others. It is like a fish developing lungs in an airless universe. The longings and aspirations of personality drown without fulfillment.

I don’t know where he said this, but this is a quote attributed to Francis Schaeffer in his wife, Edith’s, book Christianity is Jewish (pg 17). Edith concludes this thought on page 19 saying:

If one chooses the impersonal beginning, one must go on to a logical conclusion of an impersonal universe, and an insignificant human being, and a meaningless history.

That would explain a lot about the massive despair blanketing our society…

Comparing Theologies

You Scored as Karl Barth, the daddy of 20th Century theology. You perceive liberal theology to be problematic and so you insist that the revelation of Christ, not human experience, should be the starting point for all theology.

Karl Barth
80%
Anselm
80%
Friedrich Schleiermacher
73%
John Calvin
67%
Augustine
60%
Jonathan Edwards
53%
Martin Luther
53%
Charles Finney
40%
Jürgen Moltmann
33%
Paul Tillich
33%

You can take this quiz yourself at quizfarm.com.  I didn’t like all the questions, so the test is skewed a little bit, but over all it’s fairly accurate. I’m probably a little more Edwards and a little less Augustine, but I’m glad to see Finney and Tillich toward the bottom.

Unique by Design

The following note was found penciled in the flyleaf of C.S. Lewis’ copy of Eternal Life: A Study of Its Implications and Applications by Baron Friedrich von Hugel:

It is not an abstraction called Humanity that is to be saved. It is you, . . . your soul, and, in some sense yet to be understood, even your body, that was made for the high and holy place. All that you are . . . every fold and crease of your individuality was devised from all eternity to fit God as a glove fits a hand. All that intimate particularity which you can hardly grasp yourself, much less communicate to your fellow creatures, is no mystery to Him. He made those ins and outs that He might fill them. Then He gave your soul so curious a life because it is the key designed to unlock that door, of all the myriad doors in Him.

This intrigues me for a couple reasons. First, it is fascinating to read something scribbled by Lewis for his own reflection. Second, I’m convinced that we need to spend a lot more time on what Lewis said was “yet to be understood,” the uniqueness of our individual bodies and the role they play in our spiritual formation. Third, I’m fascinated by the concept we are uniquely designed both to uniquely relate to God, and to relay particular facets of God’s character to the rest of His children.

This note was quoted in Corbin Scott Carnell’s book, Bright Shadow of Reality: C.S. Lewis and the Feeling Intellect, but I ran across the quote in Eugene Peterson’s book, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work.

Something to Ponder

All Torah is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Of course, the text actually says “Scripture” (or graphe in Greek), but I believe we forget that the Torah was the primary document Paul had in mind when he penned those words.

Could most believers today unreservedly affirm that the entire Torah is profitable for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, i.e. equipped for every good work that God prepared beforehand for us to do? I think most of us would hem and haw, cough and sputter, provide caveats and addendums to Paul’s declarative statement.

What I’m Talking About

I pasted the text of my blog posts from 2006 through today into the generator at wordle.net in order to see visually what the content of my posting tends to be about. No revolutionary surprises, but it is interesting.

For those of you not familiar with the concept of tag clouds, the larger the word the more often it is used. All in all, I think those are the concepts I would have hoped I was focusing on the most.

Brueggeman Quote

As I mentioned just recently, it is sort of a hobby of mine to collect quotes from mainstream Christian authors that reflect what I consider to be a proper perspective on the First Testament and/or the Torah.  Joel sent me a great one this evening from Walter Brueggeman.

When Israel arrives at Mt. Sinai, a new extended, complex tradition begins, featuring [a] the making of covenant between YHWH and Israel and [b] the issuance of the commands of YHWH that become the condition and substance of the covenant…In all its complexity, the Sinai tradition extends through the book of Leviticus and through Numbers 10:10, when Israel departs the mountain.  The reason the material is so complex is that over time the tradition of commands sought to extend the rule and will of YHWH to every aspect of life, personal and public, civic and cultic…This tradition is at the core of Judaism that is constituted by obedience to YHWH’s Torah.  Conversely, in Christian tradition this material has been largely downplayed, precisely because it has been erroneously understood as “law” that provides a way to “earn” God’s grace.  A reconsideration of the role and function of the commandments in their rich interpretive complexity is now of immense importance for Christians, precisely to be delivered from wrongly informed and distorting caricatures of the tradition of commandment.

[Brueggeman, Walter. An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003. pg. 61]

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Brueggeman’s writings. Sometimes he leaves me cheering, and sometimes he absolutely drives me nuts.