Monday, April 27, 2009

On Freedom and Responsibility

"It cannot be repeated too often: Nothing is more fertile than the art of being free, but nothing is harder than freedom's apprenticeship."
 - Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. J. P. Mayer, trans. G. Lawrence (New York: Perennial Classics, 2000).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On A Relient K Midrash of New Creation Theology

Rejecting authorial intent and employing a great deal of appropriation, Matt Thiessen provides a simple yet profound midrash concerning new creation theology viz., Romans 7:14-24. (Cf., Romans 6-8; 2Corinthians 4-5; Galatians 5:1-25; Ephesians 4:17-5:21; Colossians 3:1-17; 4:28; James 1:21-25; 2Peter 1:1-15; 1John 2:15-24; Jude 17-24) stating:
"Who I am hates who I've been."
- Relient K, "Who I am Hates Who I've been," on Mmhmm (Gotee and Capitol Records, 2004), Track 10.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On Religion and the State

"Let us therefore deal plainly . The magistrate is afraid of other Churches but not his own; because he is kind and favourable to the one, but severe and cruel to the [others]. . . . Let him turn the tables: or let those dissenters enjoy but the same privileges in civils as his other subjects, and he will quickly find that these religious meetings will be no longer dangerous. For if men enter into seditious conspiracies, 'tis not religion inspires them to it in their meetings, but their sufferings and oppressions that make them willing to ease themselves."
 - John Locke, Letter on Toleration, in The Works of John Locke vol. II (A. Bettesworth, London, 1727).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the Equality of Christian Love

Kierkegaard's comments (in regard to the necessity of loving one's neighbor) on how the Christian view of the neighbor is everyone without distinction in contrast to the World's view.

"Well-intentioned worldliness remains piously, if you will, convinced that there must be one temporal condition, one earthly dissimilarity -found by means of calculations and surveys or in whatever other way -that is equality. If this condition became the only one for all people, then similarity would have been brought about. For one thing, however, this cannot be accomplished, and, for another, the similarity of all by having in common the same temporal dissimilarity is still by no means Christian equality. Worldly similarity, if it were possible, is not Christian equality. Moreover, to bring about worldly similarity perfectly is an impossibility. Well-intentioned worldliness actually admits this itself. It rejoices when it succeeds in making temporal conditions the same for more and more people, but it acknowledges itself that its struggle is a pious wish, that it has taken on a prodigious task, that its prospects are remote -if it rightly be understood itself, it would perceive that this will never be achieved in temporality, that even if this struggle is continued for centuries, it will never attain the goal.

Christianity, in contrast, aided by the shortcut of eternity, is immediately at the goal: it allows all the dissimilarities to stand but teaches the equality of eternity. It teaches that everyone is to lift himself above earthly dissimilarity. Notice carefully how equably it speaks. It does not say that it is the lowly person who is to lift himself up while the powerful person should perhaps climb down from his loftiness -ah, no, that kind of talk is not equable; and the similarity that is brought about by the powerful person's climbing down and the lowly person's climbing up is not Christian equality -but worldly similarity. No, even if it is the one who stands at the very top, even if it is the king, he is to lift himself up above the difference of loftiness, and the beggar is to lift himself up above the difference of lowliness. Christianity allows all the dissimilarities of earthly life to stand, but this equality in lifting oneself up above the dissimilarities of earthly life is contained in the commandment, in loving the neighbor.
- Soren, Kierkegaard, "You Shall Love the Neighbor," in Works of Love, First Series ed. Edward V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On Scholasticism and the Church

       "Speaking figuratively, the study of theology often produces overgrown youths whose internal organs have not correspondingly developed. This is a characteristic of adolescence. There is actually something like theological puberty.... Churches must also understand it and must have it explained to them every possible way.
     It is a mistake for anyone who is just in this stage to appear before a church as a teacher. He has outgrown the naivete with which in young people's work he might by all means have taken this part. He has not yet come to that maturity which would permit him to absorb into his own life and reproduce out the freshness of his own personal faith the things which he imagines intellectually and which are accessible to him through reflection. We must have patience here and be able to wait. For this reasons I have mentioned I do not tolerate sermons by first-semester young theological students swaddled in their gowns. One ought to be able to keep still. During the period when the voice is changing we do not sing, and during this formative period in the life of the theological student he does not preach."
 - Helmut Thielicke, An Exercise for Young Theologians (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On John Locke's Political Theory

"It's important to remember that John Locke is a cradle Calvinist. He learned basic Calvinistic theory as part of his basic upbringing. He spent time in the Netherlands, a haven of Calvinism among other faiths. And he spent time in coffee houses learning about what toleration means, about what social contract means, about what natural rights mean, about what the rights of nature entail. And I dare say that a number of his basic [political] ideas are simply genetic reflexes or in of his Puritan heritage part of those ingenious repositioning of those Calvinistic ideas so that they would become palatable to an Anglican and Royalist community."
 - John Witte Jr., Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On the Gift of God

"... And as I, [Peter], began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" When they, [the apostles and brethren who were circumcised], heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."
- Acts 11:15-18

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On the Work of the Holy Spirit in Believers

"Vicariam navare operam"

- Tertullian, "De Praescriptionibus Haereticos," in Anti-Nicene Fathers Vol 3 (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On Natural Theology

"Natural theology is to be understood to include the totality of the human engagement with the natural world, embracing the human quest for truth, beauty and goodness. We invoke the so called 'Platonic traid' of truth, beauty, and goodness as a heuristic framework for natural theology. When properly understood, a renewed natural theology represents a distincitlvey Christian way of beholding, envisaging, and above all appreciating the natural order, capable of sustaining a broader engagement with the fundamental themes of human culture in general. While never losing sight of its moorings within the Christian theological tradition, natural theology can both inform and transform the human search for the trascendent, and provide a framework for understanding and advancing the age-old human quest for the good, the true, and the beatufiul."
- Alister E. McGrath, The Open Secret: A Ne.w Vision For Natural Theology (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2008)

Monday, April 6, 2009

On Philosophy Books

Janet Walker provides colorful insight:
"Small print, big words, no sales"
- Alfred Hitchcock, Rope (Warner Brothers Pictures, 1948).