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Archive for June, 2010

Now and then, one wonders things quietly and then is delighted more than one should be when one finds others have wondered the same things before. This, it may be said, is an appropriate and even romantic draw of historical texts: in them one finds not only what was said and thought back then, but one discovers fascinating dialogue partners for the present, too. Perhaps this is most meaningful for Christians, inasmuch as we look to the witnesses of the past not as relics but as brethren, and who doesn’t love to sit and talk and muse and learn with dear brethren?

This explains part of my excitement in reading the most recent of many interesting posts by Peter Leithart, who repeats, in brief form, Augustine’s thoughts on how circumcision was a sign and seal to Abraham of the righteousness of faith:

“How is circumcision a seal of the righteousness of faith (Romans 4:11).  Augustine (Contra Faustum) says this:

Circumcision was performed on the eighth day.

The eighth day is the day of Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus resurrection is for our justification (Romans 4:25).

Hence, ‘because this resurrection, which justifies us when we believe it, was symbolized by that circumcision on the eighth day, the apostle therefore says of Abraham, to whom it was first entrusted, “And he received the sign of circumcision as a sign of the righteousness of faith.”‘”

I had wondered the same before and was tickled to see I had been wondering with the great Augustine. So, when Christians gather on “the Lord’s Day” for worship and fellowship by the Spirit, in the Son, and before the Father, do we in fact gather not on the first but on the (inauguration of the perpetual) eighth day of the week, the present provisional embodiment of the great, consummate “Day of the LORD” which marks the point of departure for the eternal Sabbath rest of the people of God?

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Yet another reason to read Michael Sacasas’s blog: He quotes, “Whereas wine inculcates an opening of the soul to another, cannabis and other narcotics induce the soul’s closure. The intoxicating conversation of a symposium of friends differs drastically from the ‘mutual befuddlement’ of a group of stoned teenagers. Wine inculcates convivium, whereas cannabis aggravates the solipsism.”

Brilliant, it seems to me, and something that got me thinking. Knowing sin’s tendency to turn a person inward – that is, deeper and deeper into himself, as Luther put it – we can say wine cultivates a communal, conversational openness among otherwise closed (and closing) people. No wonder it’s the sign and seal of the covenant of grace, a blessing enjoyed at a Table where, in joyful and praying confession of faith, we visibly and spiritually plumb the fathomless depths of divine and human communion in Christ. Isn’t it at this Table, after all, where the lines of divine-human communication are most open? Where the message of the Gospel gets through, not only through our ears but in our fingers and on our lips too? And there, at a Table where we sit together, we join, verbally, in the openness of faith’s encouragements and reminders, open from the heart both to Christ himself and to all his little ones. A good reason, I think, for the practice at Immanuel and elsewhere for collecting the deacons’ offering at that Table: we get to love one another openly as we are ourselves loved openly in the Gospel. It’s very hard, after all, to ignore your brother in need when the wine of God’s goodness has opened you up so fully to him. Taste and see, indeed, and together.

Keep up with Mike’s many healthy habits at The Frailest Thing.

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In the spirit of a new little series on nonsense and the need for reacquainting ourselves with the discipline of deliberate thinking, consider the relationship between intuition (“that doesn’t sound right”) and the process of analysis (“that isn’t right and here’s why”). As you consider that question, consider this article’s sensible reminder that while we want to say Yes! to intuition’s power and importance, intuition is no substitute for thinking something through. That may seem obvious enough, but let’s remember that sinners are prone to run, not walk, when assessing a theological argument. Put in these terms, we see how a properly circumscribed role for intuition is simply another instance of that form of Christian love believers have long called caritas (charity).

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