Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
The second option is that of some recent biblical interpreters who seem to follow an Irenean understanding of the Fall, though from my reading of Ireaneus, this is not a position that he explicitly took. In this understanding, prior to the Fall human beings are like children and therefore, much like children in a lot of the ancient world, do not wear clothing. In this scheme, the Fall leads to us putting on clothing and becoming adults. Hence sin for some of this commentators leads to greater moral maturity and agency.
Both of these position are of course problematic. Augustine is of course correct about the lust of the flesh and the fact that our bodies are fallen, but he is wrong (as Melanchthon notes in the Apology) to think that the desire of man and woman for one another is from the Devil. Similarly, the view that Adam and Eve are like children has all the same problems that both Irenaeus and Hegel have. By making Adam and Eve childlike, Irenaeus did come up with a rationale for the Fall, but he also made us less culpable. Hegel made sin necessary for our self-consciousness and for God's. Hence, it again is not that blame-worthy. It is a felix culpa on steroids.
In order to answer this question in a more satisfactory manner, let us examine the concept of "bodies." When he's not developing strange tritheistic Hegelian heilgegeschicte schemes, Robert Jenson has developed an interesting definition. Many different things can be bodies, of course. Within the human world, in which we are relational beings, who have both a spiritual and physical natures. Since we are inherently relational, our bodies are our personal availability to one another.
In light of this definition (which to me seems to cohere well with the biblical understanding of human ontology), the nudity of Adam and Eve take on a meaning different from earlier ones we encountered. If Adam and Eve have received all things from God as one who gives them life and freedom (Gen. 1:28), then they are nude because of their perfect freedom to be available to one another. As "lords of all," they are capable of being servants to one another. In other words, within the freedom of perfect faith, they are totally free to completely surrender to another and therefore be perfectly available.
Sin is what makes them clothe themselves. The Bible describes them as being ashamed. This coheres with their need for self-justification under sin. They cannot believe themselves to be "very good" any longer. They must conserve themselves and hold themselves back due to their sin. Without the perfect freedom of faith, they cannot be perfectly available to one another or to God. They must be in rivalry with one another and they must self-justify before God. They must in a sense "cover" themselves before his judgment.
Christ reverse this in the nudity of the cross. He first fully exposes the depth of human sin, both by dying at the hands of sinful men. Their need to reject God's judgment and thereby self-justify is so strong that they must go so far as to kill God himself. On the cross, Jesus also reveals God reaction to sin. There is no more covering up before divine judgment as in Genesis 3. There is full exposure before all.
At the same time, he makes himself as a redeemer from sin perfectly available to all by exposing his body to all: "when I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself." He continues this in the sacrament of his body and blood, "this is my body given to you for the remission of sin, etc." He thereby creates a new tree of life on the cross and reverses the Fall.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
From a purely pragmatic perspective (of course, there's the whole thing about this violating the immutable will of God, but I think we all agree about that part!), I sort of don't get why they did it.
I mean, most mainline Protestants don't functionally believe in God. If they did, they wouldn't believe that the truth was a wax nose that they could mold as you like (See: Hanson, Bishop Mark). They would be reverent about how they handle the Bible. But they're not. So the only thing I can conclude is that they functionally don't believe in God as an ontological reality.
So, if you functionally don't believe and your goal is to simply perpetuate the institution (for some reason- I have some ideas), then why do something to make the institution unpopular among people who are really comitted to it? I mean, do you think that the marginal, already secularized people in the PCUSA are really ones paying the bills? No, of course not, it's the firebrand, Evangelical types (of which there are many!). So, why alienate them for the sake of 4% of your members? It makes no sense.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Actually he doesn't. But there's no contradiction anyways-let me explain.
John holds the same ontology as the Cappadocians. The Cappadocians held an Ultra-Realist ontology. "Realism" in the medieval sense, is the idea that there are "Real" universals- like "catness" for cats or "humanness" for humans. The alternative view is "Nominalism," which holds that universals are nominal, namely, we see a bunch of stuff that looks similar and then we give it a common name. So, there are only individual cats, but no "catness" apart from our words.
"Ultra Realism" holds that there is a single human substance- just as all universals are in fact single substance (one can see the problem with this view, that is, it might be taken to encourage pantheism). So, "Peter, Paul, and John" are a single entity, because all humanity is a single substance. Every time, claimed Gregory of Nazianzus, a new human being is born, a new accident on that substance comes about.
This makes the Incarnation rather interesting, because, in a sense, when Christ is deified and ascends to the right hand of the Father, so does the rest of the human race. Bear in mind that those who used this ontology the most had Origenist influences (namely, the two Leontiuses and Gregory of Nyssa- hence universalism wasn't a problem for them). At the beginning of Book 4 of De Fide Orthodoxa, John states that it's possible to say that all humans have ascended and all are redeemed, since our very nature sits at the right hand of God already. He then states that we cannot go that far though, because the 5th ecumenical council has rejected and condemned the heresy of Origenism.
Anyways, since "Peter, Paul, and John" are a single entity, even if they are different persons, they are similar to the Trinity. Gregory of Nazianzus (who BTW, is the one who uses this analogy) states that they differ from the Trinity because there is a greater abundance of accidental qualities between them. If one erased these, then they would be a unified into undiscernible difference. Of course the Trinity lacks accidental qualities (having an existence that is not distinct from essence as Aquinas would put it), but it is distinguish by way of differing relations.
Now, this means that (contrary to what a lot of modern theologians claim) that the Cappadocians aren't saying anything different than Augustine. It's just that Augustine has a different ontology and therefore expresses himself differently. He can't use certain analogies like the three men, because in his mind they are really, three entities, something they are not for the Cappadocians. In fact, in De Trinitate he pretty much rejects this analogy as one would expect.
Certain modern theologians (notably, Jenson, Moltmann, Pannenberg) want to say that the Trinity is made up of three different subjects, and that Augustine everyone else in the western tradition turned from the pure doctrine of the Cappadocians and is now pretty much Modalist as a result. But that's not right, because they're interpreting the concept of person as a modern person, and aren't taking into consideration the ultra-realist concept of being. Hence, Jenson, for example, has endorsed Tri-Theism with statements like "God is what happens between Father, Son, and Spirit." This is highly problematic from the perspective of historic Christian orthodoxy and not what the Fathers of the Church taught either.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
This one is for Greg Jackson. May my blatant rejection of the Catholic Marian doctrines make you believe that I'm secretly a Catholic all the more.
Beyond these brute facts of Scripture and extra-scriptural doctrinal history, Mariolatry does not adhere to the logic of the faith (typus doctrinae, see 2 Tim 1:13). In other words, it is a negation of the biblical and reformational concept of sola gratia understood as divine favor and consequently lacks coherence with the other articles of the faith. We can observe that this is true in several ways. First, Mary declares in the Magnificent "my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (Lk 1:47). If Mary did indeed rejoice in God as her savior, then logically we may infer that she needed a savior. But if she was not subject to original and actual sin, then this statement would be false. Furthermore, Scripture teaches that all persons are fallen. Paul (among others) asserts this several times (Rom 3:23 and numerous others) that "all have sinned." If that is so, then logically the predicate "all" (which Paul and the other New Testament writers qualify in relationship to Christ alone) would also apply to Mary.
Official Roman teaching is cognizant of this objection and has stated (echoing the reasoning of the fourteenth century theologian Duns Scotus) that preservation from original and actual sin constitutes being "redeemed in a more exalted fashion" by the merits of Christ. Nevertheless, this is not cogent reasoning in light of the fact that they are positing Mary as a concrete subject was never in her actual existence in need of a savior. Part of the difficult here appears to rest on assumption of their Realist (opposed to a Nominalist) ontology wherein Mary is caught up in and represents a universal of human nature which is subject to original sin, even if she as an individual is not. Nevertheless, if she, as the New Testament suggests (Mk 3:21, Lk 1:47, Jn 2:5) was simply an ordinary woman who was subject to the curse of original and actual sin, then she is the true model of the faithful Church of God. She is the sinner who is indwelt by God himself and justified by his "favor."
The second problem with the Marian doctrines from the Evangelical Lutheran perspective is the question of Enthusiasm. Just as the Pope and the Roman magesterium in general insists that it possess holiness and teaching authority on the basis of the Spirit apart from the Word, so too Mary gained her preservation from sin and therefore her redemption from the Immaculate Conception which happened apart from the Word. In Luke's account though, Mary trusts in the angel's Word that tells her that God is favorable to her (Lk 1:38). In connection with his rejection of Enthusiasm, Luther held that Mary had conceived through the hearing of the Word in faith. The text itself clearly vindicates this view. The conception occurred only because Mary believed the Word of God and gave her ascent to the explanation of the angel: "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her" (Lk 1:38, Emphasis added). As we have seen, this cannot be construed as being the meritorious cause of her conception, but rather is the proper response of faith to a divine promise by a sinful human being. It means that she as the model of the true Church which faithfully listens to God's Word and trusts in it.
Hence this also parallels the Roman Catholic/Evangelical Lutheran divide regarding teaching authority. Whereas the according to the Roman teaching, Mary possesses infallibility and perfection as a predicate of her being, so too does the Church and her magisterium. Truth and righteousness are predicates of the Church, given to it by the Spirit operating apart from the Word. Both the Church and Mary, in this conception, indeed receptive to what it comes to her from without (truth and grace), but this is obedience the result of an infused righteousness. By contrast, the Evangelical Lutheran claims that Church is always sinful and therefore must trust in an alien righteousness (iustitia aliena)external to it. It always needs God as "savior." Therefore the true Church, living the life of the vita passiva harkens to the Word of God and receives Christ in her inner being through unio mystica (Mk 3:34, Jn 14:23, Gal 2:20). This occurs through the external Word and the means of grace alone.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
From Peter Leithart, Deep Comedy: Trinity, Tragedy and Hope in Western Literature (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2006), 89.
Leithart writes: "To put it another way, the trinitarian life is a rhythm of self-giving and return within the life of God. Trinitarian life is a life given over and returned as glorified life. The Father loves and submits to the Son, and the Son to the Father, and the Son to the Spirit, and so on. But this self-giving of one Person to the others is always met with a return gift: the Father's gift of Himself to the Son is met with the Son's gift of Himself to the Father. "Self-sacrifice" is met with a returning of the self gift that eternally and ever refreshes and renews the triune fellowship. Gift and return, we might say, are simultaneous in the life of God, since the Father who gives the Son in the Spirit is in the Son who returns the gift to the Father in the same Spirit. There is not even a moment of "stasis" or death, since "resurrection" life is offered back from the moment the original life is offered."