Abigail’s explanation

“Poopie’s hiding. He’s having lunch. He’s eating a poptart.”

My soon-to-be three-year-old daughter Abigail’s explanation as to why she wasn’t going to the bathroom.


I’d like to claim that leaving apostasy out of one’s understanding of the scriptures (be it systematic or informal) has several negative consequences. Here’s a few that come to mind (some of them are quite related):

1) It makes the OT harder to read. After all, apostasy plays a major role, and if one is not accustomed to thinking in terms of apostasy, many of the stories will seem strange.

2) It belittles the OT. Take point 1 a bit further, and one sees that the logical conclusion of seeing all these strange stories of apostasy while not thinking such a thing is possible in the NT is to belittle the importance of the OT to Christians today. After all, God was obviously angrier or something back then…

3) It turns rather straight-forward passages in the NT into problems that must be solved (often by twisting them until they have no real content, like saying they are offering threats that are only hypothetical and cannot actually happen).

4) For those in the reformed tradition, it makes them agnostic on issues of life and death. By leaving out apostasy, one is only left with the categories of elect and non-elect when discussing matters of life eternal. Though the covenant may play a role in one’s thinking, without apostasy it has little meaning in terms of a relevant category associated with salvation. Combined with the notion that only God knows who the elect are, denying apostasy denies the ability to know if one is saved (or if anyone else is saved, for that matter).

For a reformed treatment of apostasy, Joel’s treatment of the topic is a good place to start.

Systematic theology

Here’s a thought. Systematic theology has the unfortunate side effect of making some passages hard and others easy irrespective of the authors intent, underlying literary structures, or any other consideration apart from the actual word choice. Put another way, systematic theology can have the unfortunate effect of making the Bible harder to read.

For example, take the word justification and its normal reformed connotations. Now read James. Tough stuff, huh? Yet from my reading of the Old Testament, I cannot help but think that the book of James would have been extremely straight-forward to a first-century Jewish Christian. So what’s the problem. Enter systematic theology. I read the word justification, and I read into it a rather specific meaning. In the case of James, that meaning flails about in the context and cannot find its footing.

Now, does this imply systematic theology has no value? Absolutely not. But if true it does imply that systematic theology has its proper place and scope, a scope perhaps more limited than some are inclined to believe.

Theologia has been ported

Theologia has been ported to Greymatter. I used the opportunity to upgrade the navigation system and make a few changes here and there, but it is largely the same site. The only real change from the normal Greymatter blog was the incorporation of categories with alphabetized listings… I sort of kludged it together with a rather short Perl script and the use of the Extended Text field in the Greymatter entry template.

The upside of all this is that our regular posters (mainly my brother, Mark) can submit their own material. All I have to do is run a script and it’s all there. The next and final step will be to call my script from within the Greymatter code. So hopefully you will start to see more consistent posting of content once everyone gets the hang of it.

Theologia ported to Greymatter

For those who care, I am currently in the process of porting Theologia to Greymatter. Why does this (grey)matter? Well, though there are numerous content management systems out there, Greymatter is well supported and, more importantly, my brother and I are both using it already. And it’s free. And it’s Perl. Though I am one of those worthless manager types now, I used to do real work and at one point was fairly proficient at Perl (I even have the clipping from PC Magazine on a short write-up that mentioned a site for which I had written a 10k line Perl engine… not that we went anywhere with it). I can still hack out some Perl if needed, so I prefer my freeware coded in Perl than, say, Python.

Anyway, the benefit to the consumer will hopefully be much more frequent updates to the content. I’m writing a script right now that will present the content alphabetized by title and organized by category. Then I’ll have to go crazy on the templates. And then we launch with a platform that is no longer dependent on me loading my brother’s pre-coded papers, updating each index, and then publishing the changes.

David and Saul

An odd thought hit me yesterday regarding the story of David’s ‘interaction’ with Saul after their falling out. Previously, I’ve viewed David’s actions as an almost unattainable example of Christian humility and submission to God’s lawful authority. And I still think that viewpoint has much to offer. Though I haven’t read the story in some time, for some reason a pattern sort of leapt to mind yesterday that paints a somewhat different view. Before I briefly spell it out, let’s first look at the straightforward Christian Submission viewpoint and see how it plays out.

Stuart: So John, I hear your pastor is requiring you to tie little bells in your hair and dance on stage for the Christmas pageant.

John: Yeah, and I really don’t like the idea. But what am I to do? He’s my pastor.

Stuart: Right. And after all, look how submissive David was when Saul was actually trying to kill him.

Stuart: You’re right. Here, can you help me tie tiny braids in my hair for the bells?

Sounds nice. But here’s the issue. It isn’t like David painted a target on his chest so Saul would stop missing with the spears. He fled. And before long, he was roaming around the countryside with an armed company stealing food. And those times he could have killed Saul but didn’t, it isn’t like he just sneaked off. He flaunted his mercy to Saul, forcing Saul to say all kinds of nice things about David in front of his army. David owned Saul by not killing him. And he helped Saul play the madman in front of his troops.

That does not smack of the particular flavor of submission that I have typically seen David’s example used to require from Christians in challenging situations that involve God-ordained authority figures misusing their power. Have I forgotten some critical portion of the story, or am I on to something here?