Posts for May, 2008.

5/31/2008 4:55:00 PM

Mark Driscoll, Smashing Pumpkins, and Alternative Music

Random thoughts on alternative music

Posted Saturday, May 31, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Popular CultureCulture and Theology   Comments: None
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My favorite style of music is alternative, which is hardly surprising since I am from the Seattle area and I am part of the MTV generation. I once thought that as I got older my musical tastes would mellow out to something more respectable, but so far it is hasn't happened, although I do keep on waiting for the time when the alternative station becomes the oldies station (I am hearing advertisements directed to parents on alternative stations now). I heard a Smashing Pumpkins song on the radio recently and it reminded what a great song it was: Bullet with Butterfly Wings. I love the music of the song as well as how the music matches the pathos of the lyrics. The angst of the song reflects the angst of not being able to get out of the pit and the slime. Mark Driscoll used this video one time in a high school assembly as a way to introduce them to sin and the gospel: see the story below.

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5/31/2008 4:53:00 PM

Old Testament Theology according to Walter Brueggemann Part 5

Extended Quote

Posted Saturday, May 31, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament Theology   Comments: None
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Such a conclusion is not contextless. We do not say these things concerning Yahweh as though every occasion of response were an arbitrary flip of the coin. No, of course not. Yahweh is deeply enmeshed in a tradition of textuality, is committed to what has been previously claimed, and is held accountable for the chance for life together (between Yahweh and Israel). Thus the offer of Yahweh is not sheer capriciousness. But even so, one may ask: Does life with God not entail anxiety? Even if there is a tendency in a certain reliable direction, there is always a chance of a response in another direction, for Yahweh has a vast repertoire of possible responses. Yes, the faith of Israel is not without anxiety.

This, I suggest, is the severe meaning of the Second Commandment. The One with whom Israel has to deal is not an image, a category, a genre, a concept, or a norm. Rather this is a particular God with a name and a history, who is a free agent and an active character Israel’s faith is finally not trust in something that is transcendent in Yahweh, so as to escape what is contingent. But Israel’s life with God is endlessly dialogical, and it is therefore always open and always capable of newness. Israel is tempted to minimize the risk and curb the danger by boxing Yahweh into a formula. But each time it does so, Yahweh surprise. In times of judgment when sovereign assertion of Yahweh is expected and warranted, we find pathos. In times of terrible need, when Yahweh’s delicate generosity may seem appropriate, Yahweh is solemn and demanding. One does not know. Israel does not know. What Israel does know and counts on heavily is that the incomparable Yahweh of these several noun-metaphors will always be “in play” and Israel must always be “in play” with Yahweh, for that is its very life. (282).

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5/22/2008 4:17:00 PM

Old Testament Theology according to Walter Brueggemann Part 4


Posted Thursday, May 22, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament Theology   Comments: None
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I highly enjoyed reading this book due to a variety of factors. The postmodern ignoring of history and discussion about what was going on behind the text was a refreshing change from the usual discussion of OT theology in the guild. There was little of the usual speculation about multiple sources and redactors. Instead, there was detailed study of the text as it stands. This rejection of history certainly causes problems and I am not sure that a fully satisfying OT theology can be done with a completely synchronic approach as Brueggemann, but if the choice is between a synchronic approach and a traditional historical critical approach, I will choose Brueggemann.

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5/20/2008 6:44:00 AM

The Magi and the Gnats - Part 3

Our Second Question: Did the Magi actually duplicate the plagues?

Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2008 by Sam Yeiter
Categories: Old TestamentOld Testament Theology   Comments: 2
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As we continue (I just killed a gnat...our office is infested with them) we continue, we come to a hotly contended issue.  Did the magi really duplicate the plagues?  Everyone has an opinion here...share yours. Read more of The Magi and the Gnats - Part 3

5/19/2008 8:25:00 AM

The Theology of Prince Caspian

Posted Monday, May 19, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Popular CultureCulture and Theology   Comments: None
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I went to see the newest installment of the Chronicles of Narnia in the theater on Friday, Prince Caspian. I had heard good reviews of the movie and I was not disappointed. I highly recommend the movie, especially for those of you who enjoyed the book, but also for those who have not read the book (or forgotten what happened in the book!). The director changed more material in this movie than the previous installment, but I think that they are good changes and help the movie overall.

It dawned on me several years ago that each of the books in the series has a religious tinged theme. I've been meaning to write a series of posts on the theology of the series, but we lost our copy of the books and the kids are not old enough yet to enjoy them anyway, so the series will have to wait several years. But since I just saw the movie, I thought I would pass along what I think is the religious theme of Prince Caspian and how it translated from the book to the movie (although I will admit that I have not read the book in several years and my memory of it is a bit sketchy).

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5/14/2008 5:42:00 PM

Old Testament Theology according to Walter Brueggemann Part 3

Conclusion of Book

Posted Wednesday, May 14, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament Theology   Comments: None
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Part four deals with mediating the presence of YHWH. While YHWH did deal with Israel with a mediator at times, the vast majority of the time was through some kind of mediator. These mediators include the Torah, the king, the prophet, the cult, and the sage. Brueggemann discusses each of these institutions and people, looking at various critical problems about them, showing their function in the text, and how they mediated the presence of God to the people.

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5/12/2008 11:22:00 AM

Old Testament Theology according to Walter Brueggemann Part 2


Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament Theology   Comments: None
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            After the two retrospects Brueggemann gets into the heart of the book: the testimony about YHWH. The first major section (Part I) is Israel’s core testimony. He sets up this section in a rather unusual way, ordering his summary along grammatical lines: verbs, adjectives, and nouns. He does not use dogmatic categories for God, since he says that they do not fit the descriptions of God in the OT (117). The first chapter presents an introduction to the trial metaphor and to his methodology. He is not interested in “what actually happened” or the “earliest” testimony, but in all the testimony about God. This first part is the characteristic testimony about God, the testimony which is most prevalent.

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5/8/2008 3:56:00 PM

Old Testament Theology according to Walter Brueggemann Part 1


Posted Thursday, May 08, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old Testament Theology   Comments: None
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            Walter Brueggemann is one of the premier Old Testament scholars writing today, and this book is no exception. While the book has serious flaws, this was one of the most enjoyable books I have read for quite some time, as well as the most inspiring and insightful. Brueggemann never explicitly states the purpose of the book, but the general tenor of the book indicates that Brueggemann desires to give an introduction to the Old Testament with a postmodern orientation. As Norman Gottwald  says in one of advertisements for the book in the beginning of the book, this is the first postmodern Old Testament theology. The postmodern stance shines through clearly in the book, as Brueggemann virtually ignores questions of historicity, sources, and chronology.

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5/7/2008 10:10:00 PM

Knowing God or Loving Others

Posted Wednesday, May 07, 2008 by Brian Beers
Categories: New TestamentCulture and Theology   Comments: None
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In last Sunday’s sermon, we were challenged to love others, and I realized that I thought that a person could know God and yet lack love for others.  I believed that the knowledge of God didn’t necessarily bring me to love others–that it could be ineffective. The invalid assumptions necessary to believe this are blatant and embarrassing, but I am not stuck in my former disregard for God.

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5/6/2008 12:52:00 PM

The Magi and the Gnats - Part 2

Our First Question: Why would the Magi want to duplicate the plagues?

Posted Tuesday, May 06, 2008 by Sam Yeiter
Categories: Old Testament   Comments: None
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This installment of The Magi and the Gnats deals with my first question: Why would the magi want to duplicate the plagues.  This seems obvious, perhaps, but this post also takes a look at magic and religion, and may offer you an insight you've not considered before.... Read more of The Magi and the Gnats - Part 2

5/4/2008 3:44:00 PM

The German Churches and the Holocaust

Posted Sunday, May 04, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Culture and Theology   Comments: 1
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One of my side interests is the relationship of the German church to the Holocaust, a fairly depressing part of church history. The first book I read on the topic was very interesting: Theologians Under Hitler, by Robert Ericksen. He looks at the life of two somewhat more radical theologians (Emanuel Hirsch and Gerhard Kittel, of TDNT fame) and one more neutral theologian (Paul Althaus). The book is certainly worth reading for an understanding of how people could follow Hitler and be so excited at his election: he would bring order and Christianity back to Germany after the liberal and sinful Weimer Republic. Or at least, so they thought. While the radical Christians clearly caused damage by their beliefs, Erickson argues that the moderate Althaus caused the most damage by being a moderate and endorsing Nazism: if a moderate was for it, then it must be all right. A chilling statement in the book comes from Althaus (I think): if the church did not embrace national socialism, then the church would become irrelevant and would lose any influence it has. What a challenge for us today! It is clear that Nazism is evil and the church should not have accepted it. But at the time it was not clear. What things that we accept today will be seen clearly as unhelpful in the future? We must be every careful about conforming to the context around us.

I am currently reading another book on the topic, a collection of essays on a variety of subjects: Betrayal , edited by Erickson and Heschel. This is a good place to start to read on the topic. The authors spend a few pages introducing the topic, from which I learned that the Jehovah's Witnesses were among the few who protested what was going on in Germany. Erickson presents a short overview of his book. One of the more interesting chapters is an overview of another book, this one on the German Christian movement (Deutsche Christen), the radical Nazi Christian movement. They put into place a variety of theological moves related to anti-Semitism, removing any hint of Judaism from Christianity. Hymns had their Hebrew words removed (Hallelujah, etc.). Jesus was declared to be an Aryan and not Jewish (although this was already happening in the final decade of the nineteenth century). The Old Testament was rejected, and large parts of the NT were removed (including all of Paul by some Deutsche Christen). New versions of the Bible and hymnals were produced with the necessary excisions. Luther's law/grace distinction was expanded so that the OT (law) was only helpful as a negative way to show the glory of grace. Luther himself was quoted in his desire to burn synagogues. The movement was very masculine focused, using fighting imagery and decrying compassion and femininity.  Foreign missionaries argued that since the gospel was contextualized for other peoples, then it should also be contextualized for the Germans, including their anti-antisemitism. Just like the difference between men and women did not end with the cross, so the difference between Jew and Aryan did not end either. Ironically, all the effort to impress Hitler did not work: he ended up ignoring them. In the post-war atmosphere, Christians claimed the church was persecuted. But upon further study, that persecution was not great. For example, the government told the churches they could not use the swastika on their church newspapers. After the war, almost all of the Deutsche Christen returned to the church and normal life without consequences. Most were silent about the Nazi years, although some continued to defend their beliefs and actions.

The book ends on a somewhat disturbing tone, as it strongly implies that anyone who says that the Jewish religion is not a valid faith or way to reach God is anti-Semitic and has not fully taken to heart the Holocaust. I will fully agree that I have not truly understood the Holocaust, nor will I ever do so. But I refuse to change my beliefs from Jesus being the only means of salvation to believing that people can be saved from their sins to true freedom by some other means. I abhor anti-Semitism, but I think that to define it that broadly is stretching the term too far. Overall, this is a helpful book if you would like to learn more about this depressing topic.  They seem to be a little too devoted to finding "bad" examples and ignoring the Christians who actually helped the Jew (although they do have a chapter on Bonhoffer), but much excellent information is included. 

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5/2/2008 2:50:00 PM

Replaying King David: The Campaigns of King David

Christian Games

Posted Friday, May 02, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Old TestamentBible GeographyMilitary Issues   Comments: None
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My dad left me a legacy of game playing. He played detailed war games throughout most of his life and left them all to me. Since my family refuses to play them with me, they don't get unpacked very often (I do play a lot of Catan with the family, though!). I am always interested in games that involve the Bible in some way. People stopped playing Bible trivia games with me a long time ago, but there are some excellent games out there that help in understanding the Bible. I came across a seemingly comphrensive list recently that is well worth looking at, since it includes games of complexity levels and quality. I am particularly interested in Credo , a game that allows one to play a role in the eary church councils and argue for one of the Christological views. But it is apparently impossible to find.

 A game that just came out a few months ago I was able to find and acquire. The name of the game is the Campaigns of King David. I've only played it a few times, but it is quite fun. It is a game based on the nations around Israel during David's time. There can be two to five players. Two players play Philistia and Judah, and each additional player plays Aram, Phoenicia, and Moab. The game is fairly extensive, with 20 or so pages of rules. The turn order is completely random, which injects a fun element into the game. There might be several turns of excess food, and then a famine for a few turns, for example. There might be five battle episodes before a time to raise new armies. While the two player game is rather lame, more players give a real feel for what the politics of the time period were like and what David and other kings actually faced. A full game with five players would probably take six or seven hours (I've not actually finished one yet), so it is not a game for the weak-willed, but it is a great game to help introduce the geography and politics of the time period. And you can get the random "Ark of the Lord" card to help you in battle!

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5/1/2008 7:57:00 AM


Posted Thursday, May 01, 2008 by Brian Beers
Comments: 1
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Thanks to Eric's previous post, the comments are now working again.

My apologies to everyone who was frustrated by this error.

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