June 16, 2013

(For the sermon that this is an excerpt from, go here.) The book of Hebrews is a work that trains us to hear the voice of God when we read Scripture. And it not only trains us to hear God’s voice, it trains us to focus especially on what God himself emphasizes, and one way God emphasizes things is by swearing solemn oaths in a few key places in Scripture. But Hebrews also provides training in how to hear when... Read more

June 15, 2013

(For the sermon that this is an excerpt from, go here) Here’s our last baby step in learning to hear God speak: We’ve overheard God. We’ve overheard the Trinity speaking in OT QUOTES. We know it’s about salvation. The last step is to recognize that when God takes an oath, he really, really means it. Hebrews 7:17 tells us that the Father says to the Son, “you are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” But look at 7:21,... Read more

June 14, 2013

(For the sermon that this is an excerpt from, go here) We can learn to read the Bible so well that we overhear in it what the Father and Son say to each other. Does that sound too mystical? Learning to overhear the Trinity’s conversation? Don’t worry: It’s very high, but it’s not mystical. Mystical means, among other things, secret. And there’s nothing secret about this trinitarian conversation, because the whole thing is published, and has been for a long... Read more

June 12, 2013

This is a section from a sermon I preached at my home church, Grace Evangelical Free Church in La Mirada, as we work our way through the book of Hebrews. I got to do chapter 7, on Melchizedek, and I presented it as an opportunity to learn how to heard God’s word. I think that’s one of the key concerns of Hebrews overall, and I take its teaching on Melchizedek to be an especially vivid instance of it. I’ll turn most... Read more

June 10, 2013

As I celebrated the graduation of the Torrey Honors Institute class of 2013, I took some time to think back on significant times I had shared with them. I thought of the Christmas party at my house their freshman year and the camping trip their sophomore year, when we read the entire Divine Comedy around the campfire.  However, in my judgment the most significant time in terms of our mutual education came in their junior year when I was their... Read more

June 6, 2013

What would it take to lose your salvation? Sometimes I think the fact that we can pose that question in such a short sentence, with so few words, is part of the problem of talking about the question well. The brevity of the formulation (“Lose your salvation? Yes or no.”) lends itself to taking the question less seriously than it deserves. The five syllables of “lose your salvation” don’t have enough gravity or complexity to prepare our minds for what... Read more

June 5, 2013

In his remarkable book The Divine Name(s) and the Holy Trinity, Kendall Soulen pays very close attention to the way the revealed name of God (the Tetragrammaton) functions in the Bible and in Christian theology. If you’re reading the Old Testament in an English translation of the Bible, you’ll see the four-letter name of God (represented in transliterated form as YHWH) concealed behind the typographical convention of all caps: “The LORD said to my Lord…” (Ps. 110:1).  Any time a... Read more

June 4, 2013

In Thomas Aquinas’ commentary on Boethius’ De Trinitate, Thomas brings his favorite Aristotelian categories to bear on book reviewing.  While explaining Boethius’ preface, Thomas says that Boethius “sets forth… the four causes of his work.” Those four causes are the famous four causes from Aristotle’s Physics, where the philosopher declares that “we do not have knowledge of a thing until we know its causes.” Those four Aristotelian causes are Material: What a thing is made of Formal: How a thing... Read more

June 2, 2013

I got invited to preach on Trinity Sunday (May 26, 2013) at Redeemer Church of La Mirada, a church just down the road a bit,  where a lot of my friends and colleagues attend. The sermon is available for download at their website for the time being, and I’ll see if I can figure out how to make it available here at the Scriptorium more permanently. It’s 38 minutes long. Here’s the text (manuscript, not transcript) of the introduction. I... Read more

May 31, 2013

Around 1935, Karl Barth developed a style of speaking and writing that cut through a lot of atmospheric confusion and obfuscation. He found this new tone of voice for two reasons:  first, it was 1935, and the crisis in Germany was becoming impossible for the world to keep ignoring. As a (Swiss) professor teaching in Germany until 1933, Barth had been sounding the alarm for some time. But by 1935 things got seriously Nazi, and the state church of Germany, nominally... Read more

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