October 27, 2003

Derrida explains Plato’s dualism as an effort to dominate writing (and, I suppose, reality) by the imposition of organizing contrasts and differences. Words are ambiguous; pharmakon means remedy or poison. Rather than leave this ambiguity lie, and simply follow out the proliferating differences that flow from it, Plato organizes and controls the ambiguity by dividing the word and making the two meanings external to one another. Systematic thought, and hence systematic theology, are unavoidable. But Derrida’s point should give us… Read more

October 27, 2003

Alan Jacobs reviews Stanley Hauerwas’s Against the Grain of the Universe in the current issue of Books & Culture , and Hauerwas talks about Barth’s insight that natural theology can never be “first” theology: “Barth discovered early in his career that the great error of 19th-century Protestant theology was its decision to think that human ‘religious experience’ was an appropriate first principle of Christian theology. Indeed, some of the strongest opponents of Christianity ?Enotably Feuerbach and Nietzsche ?Erealized that a… Read more

October 26, 2003

Exhortation for October 26: We pray every week that God’s kingdom would come. This is a very general prayer, that God would extend His righteous rule to the ends of the earth. But since we live everywhere, our prayer that God’s kingdom would come is a focused prayer that His kingdom would come here, in Moscow, Idaho. We are praying each week for the people of this city to acknowledge God as King, and bow before Jesus, the Son installed… Read more

October 25, 2003

We speak of “sacred cows,” and think that we are using a dead and meaningless metaphor. But the “sacred” of “sacred cow” is very real. Lay a finger on the sacred rights of the individual to do anything he likes with his genitals, tread on the sacred ground of individual rights, question the unquestioned holiness of democracy, and you’ll see a reaction that would do the Pharisees proud. Read more

October 25, 2003

Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees’ concern with the “outside” is remarkable. He condemns them for cleaning the outside of the plate and cut without concern for the robbery and wickedness within. That looks like a simple opposition of inner v. outer purity, however much Jesus combines the two in v 40. But the combination is not just a juxtaposition, as if Jesus saw the internal and external man as separate entities pressed and glued together. The climax comes in v… Read more

October 25, 2003

Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees’ concern with the “outside” is remarkable. He condemns them for cleaning the outside of the plate and cut without concern for the robbery and wickedness within. That looks like a simple opposition of inner v. outer purity, however much Jesus combines the two in v 40. But the combination is not just a juxtaposition, as if Jesus saw the internal and external man as separate entities pressed and glued together. The climax comes in v… Read more

October 25, 2003

One way to make the point above about Michael Denton and Philip Johnson is to say that they are “prophets” in the sense that Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy and Jim Jordan use the term: They create a new future with their words. Read more

October 25, 2003

In Luke 11, the charge that Jesus is in league with the devil comes immediately after Jesus’ teaching on prayer, and there are verbal connections between the two sections of the chapter. One of the most important is the fact taht some of the people in the crowd “test” Jesus by demanding a sign from heaven (v. 16). Jesus has just taught His disciples to pray that they would not be led into temptation (v. 4), and the word “temptation”… Read more

October 25, 2003

Thomas Woodward has written a fascinating history of the Intelligent Design (ID) movement in Doubts About Darwin (Baker, 2003). His focus is on the history of the rhetoric of the debate (examining the ethos of each participant, the appeals to pathos, as well as the logos). Along the way, he explores how the different sides in the debate differ in their mode of telling the story of Darwinism, the development of evolutionary theory, and so on. This vantage point makes… Read more

October 24, 2003

In her introduction to the current Semeia volume, Eskenazi argues that the biblical writers rarely use ring or chiastic constructions. The ones that are “found” are, in her opinion, usually unconvincing. But she offers a more philosophical reason for the Bible’s avoidance of chiasm: In a Levinasian vein, she claims that the biblical writers resist closure and that chiasmus is complicit with totality. This, in my view, is a misconception of chiasm. If one follow John Breck’s account in his… Read more

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