Porpoise Driven Life




For those who are interested, the conference information is here.

As I try to maximize my use of iPad in my work, I occasionally come across useful tips and guidance from others much more adept at this than I am. (And it is not difficult at all to become “much more adept at this than I am,” truth be told!) Among these, note the helpful posts on this topic by Adam M. Lowe here and here.

Harnack Lives

Claude Welch, Protestant Thought in the Nineteenth Century, Vol. 2: 1870-1914 (Yale, 1985), p. 182:

“The point here is not the rightness of Harnack’s decisions, but that decisions must once more be made, and now against the background of an immensely fuller understanding of the history of doctrinal development. Harnack was highly persuasive for many as to the generally unsatisfactory character (for modern believers) of the ancient formulations. More important was the historical destruction of any easy assumption that Christian faith was adequately expressed for posterity in the Greco-Roman intellectual forms. This claim could indeed continue to be made, and other theologians and historians of doctrine were ready to make it. But Harnack’s work, we may say, decisively shifted the burden of proof to the shoulders of those who are argued for the necessity of the ancient dogmas or their value in the modern world. The story of Christianity as a whole, like that of Jesus and of scripture, was brought fully within the orbit of historical understanding. And with respect to the history of theology, Harnack’s work became a point of reference for all subsequent studies.”

One cannot work long in biblical studies and theology and escape the conclusion that Welch’s words continue to ring true. Harnack is alive and well in the questions he raised, if not the answers he gave.

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us…. We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.” Franz Kafka, Letter to Oskar Pollak, January 27, 1904.

A reader of the whole – which is to say the only – Bible concludes, then, that Kafka evidently agreed with God.

The Justification Landscape

An interview I gave with Reformed Forum on current controversies on justification has been posted here.

“We who will get up and walk, or even run miles in the mornings, not to mention those of us who are not willing to wait for there to be enough light to see the bottom of the flag or for the frost to go away before we tee off; we who will haul ourselves through our neighborhoods in the dark to make sure that we have the box scores as quick as we can – for all kinds of reasons, including some good ones, I suppose, we will not, cannot, do not rise in the morning to greet the dawn with a song of praise on our lips, as did those who went before us. We who will stay up late to watch the televised version of the news that we heard on our drive home at six, who will TiVo enough must-see television that we have to stay up late to keep up, who will not go to sleep without reading a novel, who will burn the candle at both ends and in the middle if we can figure how to get it lit, will not end our days with praise and worship and confession and blessing. We will not do these things in the name of love or discipline, devotion or worship. We will not even do it for selfish reasons, or even as a reliable way of self-actualization, to put it in its least-favorable context – which, in our Western American, twenty-first-century, self-help, and consumer-driven culture, is astonishing… The witness of those who went before us is that we can. We just don’t.”

Robert Benson, In Constant Prayer, pp. 63-4.