Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2011

“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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

“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.

Read Full Post »

Last night I completed our study in the complex, often bewildering Gideon cycle in the book of Judges. Throughout our time with Gideon, I’ve stressed the narrator’s intentionally ambiguous portrait of Gideon or, to use his given name, Jerub-baal. In this last encounter with Gideon we read the narrator’s final assessment of the man. Among other things,  we learn Gideon’s exploits against the Midianites gave the land rest for 40 years (8:28). Significantly, this is the last time in Judges that the land will know rest. The rest of the land, the narrator makes clear, dies with Gideon. We also learn that the peace of the land dies with him as well: “As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. And the people of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side…” (8:33-4). Why does the narrator connect Gideon’s death with Israel’s debauchery so closely, especially since the narrator brings a stinging indictment against Gideon for his many weaknesses and outright violations of Yahweh’s Law? Why the link? Putting the end of Israel’s together with the “as soon as” language, the persistent ambiguity of Gideon/Jerub-baal – the occasional positive, high points in his otherwise deeply disappointing story – becomes an expression of God’s common grace. For all his terrible faults, which the narrator hammers at in his epilogue, the mixed bag that was Gideon was – in his mixed character – both God’s indictment of Israel’s degeneration into Canaanization and, importantly, at the same time, God’s restraint of Israel’s seemingly endless thirst for idolatrous promiscuity. Patently deserving judgment, Israel’s destruction is stayed or delayed through Gideon, and more specifically in the context of Gideon’s ambiguity. Gideon, in other words, is an emblem and vehicle for Yahweh’s common grace – his delay of the judgment of the last Day, the Day of the LORD.

Read Full Post »