Posts for Jul, 2007.

7/23/2007 12:55:00 PM

Samson and the Magical Mystery Hair

Posted Monday, July 23, 2007 by Adam Mattison
Categories: Judges   Comments: 8
Show Introduction
     Every good Theoblogian knows by heart the story of how Samson lost his strength. Despite all his success against swords and spears, he allows himself to fall into the hands of Delilah, she wheedles from him the secret of how to make him weak like any other man, and he ends his life as a slave to the Philistines. However, recent study of the Samson cycle has led me to ask the question, how did Samson know this would happen? Who told him that shaving his hair would take away his strength? I believe the secret to his secret lies in the terms of the Nazirite vow. Read more of Samson and the Magical Mystery Hair

7/21/2007 11:43:00 AM

Emerging Church

Posted Saturday, July 21, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Culture and Theology   Comments: None
Show Introduction

I have recently read two books either about the emerging church or heavily influenced by it. Both of them were certainly the usual style of books I read, as they were not about the emerging church as they were by the emerging church, which has a fairly different approach to life than I am used to. The two books are Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches (read: Five ways of being emerging church) and Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.

Read more of Emerging Church

7/13/2007 1:51:00 PM

Progressive Cessationism

Who's Afraid of the Holy Spirit?

Posted Friday, July 13, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: TheologyCulture and Theology   Comments: None
Show Introduction

Some in the cessationist camp have felt that we have thrown the baby out with the bath water. That is, we believe that the sign gifts have ceased, but then we act like the Holy Spirit has ceased as well! Can one be a cessationist and still believe that the Holy Spirit does anything today? Maybe even something miraculous? Maybe even something subjective? What does the Holy Spirit do today? I had the privilege to get together with a group of pastors (all cessationists) recently to discuss this issue and it was fascinating to see the variety of opinions among them. Cessationism is certainly not a monolithic entity. Another group of cessationists (this group consisting of academics) asked the same questions and the result of their inquiry was a fairly recent book entitled Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? Here are some of the highlights of the book.

Read more of Progressive Cessationism

7/12/2007 4:14:00 PM


Posted Thursday, July 12, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: 2
Show Introduction

The Shema is a central passage for the Jews, many of whom still recite it daily even today. But Deuteronomy 6:4 is a very difficult verse to translate, since there are only six words, four of whose relationship to each other is unclear. I preached on this passage recently and thought I would pass along two notes from my study. I did not arrive at these conclusions by myself, but I borrowed them from a JETS article by Dan Block several years ago on the topic. These two different readings than the norm present a fairly different picture of the verses.

Read more of Shema

7/11/2007 8:54:00 AM

Execution and China

Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Comments: None
Show Introduction
I read a story this morning about the execution of a Chinese government official who took bribes and did not check the quality of many medicines, some of which went on to kill several people. Does anyone have any thought about how to respond to a punishment such as this? I don't want a debate on capital punishment, but assuming for the sake of argument that capital punishment is for today (whether you actually believe that or not), is this a valid use of capital punishment? Do you have to kill someone directly, with your own hands? In military trials, ordering someone else to kill someone can be reason for death. But turning a blind eye with the result that someone dies? If you know that someone is going to die as a result of turning the blind eye, and you are supposed to do something to stop it, that is one thing. But turning a blind eye and not knowing what effect that might have? Any thoughts?
Read more of Execution and China

7/10/2007 5:09:00 PM

Study Bibles

Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Comments: None
Show Introduction

I got an ad in the mail today for the newest study bible: a literary study bible based on the ESV. A literary study bible? Seriously, how many study bibles do we need? It actually doesn’t look too bad, and the ESV is a very good translation, but I get a little cynical of study bibles after awhile. I used a NIV study bible when I was in high school, but I eventually had to stop using it because I realized that I was spending more time reading the notes than the Bible. There is a clear danger about study bibles that we can learn from church history. The early church used the Greek Bible, since they spoke Greek. But the Greek Bible included other books than the ones in the canon, and since the Greek Bible was used in the church these books eventually came to be viewed as canonical as well: our Apocrypha. Practice becomes theology. The same process can happen with study bibles: the notes become more authoritative than the Bible. On the other hand, we need to be sure that we are not reading the Bible as individuals. If all we have is the text of the Bible, we will make mistakes in interpreting the Bible. We need the input of others, especially scholars. So there is a place for study bibles, as long as we are careful in how we use them. Someone suggested me once that the ideal would be a “naked” Bible and a one-volume commentary on the Bible. But it is difficult to carry around two books and to find a small one-volume commentary that is worth reading.

Read more of Study Bibles

7/9/2007 2:56:00 PM

Nimrod's Fortress

Posted Monday, July 09, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Comments: None
Show Introduction
Nimrod's Fortress has nothing to do with the Bible. But my excuse for putting up pictures is just that it is a cool place to wander around. It was built by the Muslims to guard against the Crusaders. It is just to the west of the Golan Heights and to the east of Banias. It sits on a hill and has a commanding view of the Hula Valley. Great views if there is no fog! Read more of Nimrod's Fortress

7/6/2007 9:42:00 PM

Wright and Borg, Part 3

Posted Friday, July 06, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Comments: None
Show Introduction

"Western Christianity since the Enlightenment has routinely colluded with its own privatization. Following the post-Reformation European wars in which religious allegiance played a major role, the Enlightenment offered a way of peace, though at a cost: make religion a matter of private opinion, and we will sort out the world without reference to God. The fact that one of the great monuments to the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, had to kill so many people to make the point gives one pause in accepting the Enlightenment’s rhertoric at face value. One might also observe that post-Enlightenment Europe and America have been involved in just as many wars as before, even without an official religious reason (and indeed, often enough, with both sides officially embracing the same religion). This suggests, of course, that the religions were all along just an excuse, another bit of surface noise on top of a dispute about other matters; and it seems likely that the Enlightenment’s rhetoric about the danger of religion was actually an excuse, an official reason fro banishing religion ‘upstairs,’ out of harm’s way, leaving the powerful, the politicians, the imperialists, and the industrialists to carve up the world how they wanted. But the rhetoric persists, being invoked by right-wingers in the United Kingdom every time a church representative speaks out on political issues and by left-wingers in the United States every time a fundamentalist speaks out on family values. Keep your religion as a matter of private spirituality, they say, and we shall continue to steer the world by other lights" (218).  

Read more of Wright and Borg, Part 3

7/5/2007 4:01:00 PM

Wright and Borg, Part 2

Posted Thursday, July 05, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Comments: None
Show Introduction

I am almost done with the book and I have immensely enjoyed it. I’ll have a final post coming up after I finish it, but I came across this paragraph from Wright and I just had to pass it along. He recognizes that the main difference between him and Borg is not their view of Jesus or their reading of the text, but their presuppositions about the world. I think that Borg and other “mainline scholars” as Borg refers to them, who are so certain of themselves and their Enlightenment methods are on the decline. Of course, this does not mean that everyone will become a Christian now. It used to be that Christians thought if they could just defeat modernism, then the world would be Christianized. However, it has turned from being a two player baseball game to a multi player golf tournament: postmodernism has stepped up to the plate and numerous other religions are on the rise. The fall of modernism has unfortunately not meant the rise of Christianity. Anyway, this is a great quote and well worth your time to read two paragraphs.

Read more of Wright and Borg, Part 2

7/3/2007 3:45:00 PM

Military History and Christianity: Do they mix?

Posted Tuesday, July 03, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Comments: None
Show Introduction

What makes a good general? What is the relationship between the general and the troops and the front line? And what does this have to do with the Christian life? The first two questions are addressed by John Keegan, one of the premier military historians of our generation, in a work entitled Mask of Command (at least, writers of popular level military history: I’m very ignorant of scholarly military history). In this book he paints a portray of four types of military leaders: Alexander the hero (always at the front lines and lots of theatrics), Wellington the unheroic (sometimes at the front line and some theatrics), Grant the anti-heroic (sometimes at the front lines and no theatrics) and Hitler the false heroic (never at the front lines and lots of theatrics). Keegan draws some conclusions for military leadership in the nuclear age, but I think there are some interesting implications for Christians as well.

Read more of Military History and Christianity: Do they mix?

7/2/2007 1:58:00 PM

The Meaning of Jesus: Borg versus Wright

Posted Monday, July 02, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Comments: None
Show Introduction

Marcus Borg is not a writer that most of us read very often. N. T. Wright, on the other hand, is probably someone that we have at least heard of, if not read at least a selection of his writing. This book is a debate of a sort between Borg and Wright. Well, debate is too strong a word. As the subtitles says: Two visions. They disagree, but accept the validity of the other’s view (very postmodern of them). I have serious problems with Borg’s vision of Jesus (heretic would not be too weak a term, I don’t think), although he does have some good thoughts. Here are a few comments on the first few chapters of the book.

Read more of The Meaning of Jesus: Borg versus Wright