Blogroll Category: People I don't know

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The Christ Stone/1 Peter 2

Blog & Mablog - Sat, 24/02/2018 - 17:48
Introduction:

Remember the broader context of this epistle, which is the need to cultivate holiness under pressure. And as we begin to see, that pressure is not insignificant. And whether you will be able to do this as instructed will depend entirely on your relationship to the Christ Stone.

The Text:

“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ . . . ” (1 Peter 2:1–25).

Summary of the Text:

Given the fact of the new birth, it is necessary to live out the ramifications of that new birth. So set aside every form of malice, deceit, two-facedness, envy, and bad talk (v. 1). Desire the Word, and do it the same way newborns desire milk (v. 2). This is so that you might grow, and you are driven by instinct and experience both (v. 3). A newborn knows how to root for milk he has never tasted. But a one-year-old is also motivated by past experience—“now you have tasted . . .” “O taste and see that the Lord is good: Blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Ps. 34:8).

You have come to a living stone, one accepted by God and rejected by men (v. 4). Those who come to the living stone are living stones themselves, fashioned into a Temple where their sacrifices will be as acceptable to God as Jesus Himself is (v. 5). Scripture predicted this. God will lay His chief cornerstone in Zion, and the one who believes will not be confounded (v. 6). So believers consider Him precious, and those who treated Him as the rejected stone will see Him established, despite their rejection, as the principal cornerstone (v. 7). To them He is the stone of stumbling, a stumbling that was assigned to them (v. 8). In short, they rejected Him because He had rejected them first. This is the mystery of reprobation, which is taught as plainly in Scripture as election is. But never forget that the judge of the whole earth will do right (Gen. 18:25)? In contrast, you believers are His elect nation, formerly in the darkness but now in the light (v. 9). Once you were not a people, and now you are a people, under the mercy (v. 10).

That being the case, abstain from lust, which is at war with your soul (v. 11). Mark that it is your lust which is at war with your soul. Live honestly among the pagans, such that they will be ashamed when they lie about you (v. 12). Don’t be scofflaws; respect civil authority (v. 13-14). You will be slandered as anarchists, so make it plain through your orderly lives that this is a lie (v. 15). You are slaves of Christ, making you free with regard to them, so don’t abuse your liberty (v.  16). Honor all men; love your brothers; honor the king (v. 17). House slaves (oiketes) are to be subject to their masters, including the harsh ones (v. 18). It is praiseworthy if a man suffers when innocent (v. 19). But where is the glory when you patiently endure what you richly deserved anyway (v. 20)?

All of us as Christians are called to imitate His example (v. 21). He did no wrong, and did not lie (v. 22). When He was reviled, He did not return fire (v. 23). When He suffered, He committed His case to God (v. 23). He bore our sins in his own body on the tree in order that we might be made dead to sin, and live to righteousness (v. 24). By His stripes we were healed—we were like sheep wandering, but have now returned to the shepherd and bishop of our souls (v. 25).

An Internal War:

The theme we considered earlier, the fact that we are strangers and pilgrims here, is brought up again (v. 11). You are in a strange land, Peter urges. Don’t drink the water, he says. But then a peculiar aspect of this pilgrimage and exile comes out. You are strangers in a strange land, and yet this alien place does have an anchor point in you. You are a stranger here now, but this was not always so. You used to be a native of this place, and you were turned into a pilgrim. You are an alien now, but this is the result of the supernatural miracle called regeneration. You have a new Father, but you are still dwelling in the country of your old father. Not only so, but you were not turned into a pilgrim instantaneously or all at once.

This is why he says “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” This alien land still has a foothold in you, and you experience that foothold as lust or desire. Peter teaches us that the great spiritual war that is going on all around us has a counterpart within us. There is part of you that wants to chuck it all and go back to the old ways. Don’t listen. Don’t go there. Don’t try to argue with lust because the rationale of lust (“I want”) does not admit of argument.

Honor and Submission:

Now I want you to look ahead to the first word of the next chapter. Peter, speaking to the wives, says likewise. They are to be in subjection to their husbands likewise. Likewise to what? The answer is found in this chapter.

All believers are told to be subject to “every ordinance of man” (v. 13)—to kings and to governors. Domestic slaves are told to be subject to their masters, including the harsh ones (v. 18). And Christ Himself suffered great indignities at the hands of revilers (vv. 21-23). Wives, follow these examples (1 Pet. 3:1). But wait . . . we are not done. Look down at verse 7—husbands, likewise . . . (homoios).

Any Christian anywhere, who has people who ought to be subject to him (father, employer, husband, etc.), therefore has a glorious opportunity to model for all of them how easy it is to subject yourself. You want never to be that clown who has strict views of submission with regard to those under your authority, while ready to mount the barricades in rebellious defiance if anyone above you dares suggest you do something you don’t want to do. In my experience, those husbands who abuse their patriarchal office downstream (“The Bible says you must do what I say, woman.”) are the most likely to be radical libertarians when it comes to any point of their obedience. This is no more surprising than to find someone carving up a pie in such a way as to get the biggest piece himself. Nobody needs lessons when it comes to being a selfish pig. But it is not the way of Christ.

We are to submit to the civil authorities (v. 13, hypotasso). Slaves are to submit to their masters, even the ungodly ones (v. 18, hypotasso). But the Lord Jesus does not call us to anything that He has not modeled for us. He submitted to His parents (Luke 2:51, hypotasso).

What Stone to You?

We are considering the Christ Stone. Christ is everlastingly the same, yesterday, today, and forever. But the reactions to Him vary wildly, widely. Christ is either the living stone, the cornerstone, upon which all the other living stones are fitted and placed, or He is rejected as having that role, and He becomes to them the stone of stumbling. Such do not prevent Him from becoming the cornerstone, but they do prevent themselves from being built up into His holy Temple.

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, A tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: He that believeth shall not make haste” (Is. 28:16).

This passage from Isaiah is quoted here, and also in Romans 10:11.

“And he shall be for a sanctuary; But for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, For a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Is. 8:14).

And this is quoted in our text, and in Romans 9:33 also. In Romans Paul tells us the nature of the stumbling. The issue was, as it always is, the question of works-righteousness as opposed to grace-righteousness. Stumbling over the cornerstone of sheer grace is to go about to establish a righteousness of your own—something the human heart perennially wants to do.

“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22–23).

This is quoted in our text, and also in Acts 4:11; Luke 20:17; Mark 12:10-11; Matt 21:42. This is how the Lord understood Himself, and this is how his apostles understood Him. But this brings us down the essential question before us all right now. There is a great reversal here, and what do you think of it? Do you applaud the rejection of this stone, showing that you are thereby yourself rejected? Or do you rejoice in the fact that God has made the rejected stone of absolute grace into the cornerstone of your only possible hope?

So how do you understand Him? It is either marvelous in your eyes that God has brought about this great reversal—taking the rejected stone as the principal stone—or your eyes are blinded to the nature of the Christ Stone, resulting in a blindness and a stumbling that was appointed to you as your appointed destiny (1 Pet. 2:8).

“And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matt. 21:44).

There are the alternatives—broken and built or stumbled and crushed. But it is Christ either way. It is not whether you will deal with Christ, but rather how you deal with Christ. It is not whether you will have an encounter with Christ—you are having that encounter right now. It is rather what kind of encounter it is. Fall on the stone to be broken and raised into glory, or have the stone fall on you, resulting in an everlasting and miserable powder.

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Categories: People I don't know

A Post-Situational Encounter

Blog & Mablog - Sat, 24/02/2018 - 17:01

God gives us stories throughout the Scriptures, and He does not do this for purposes of entertainment. God tells us the stories of our fathers—in the Garden, in the ark, in Egypt, in the wilderness, in the promised land, in the empire, in exile, and in the return, so that we might know how to read the story we are in. The Scriptures are our primer for understanding history—not the history they went through only, but also the history that we are in the midst of shaping.

If we think that we are unique, and there never were troubles or complexities like ours, we are demonstrating just how far from unique we are. Apostasies are always this way. Stumblings and wayward wanderings always stick to the script. Honor your father and mother it says, but how can we do that, we mutter, when they are so . . . out of it. No, the fact that your fathers, and their fathers before them, always look “out of it” is the very reason the commandment was given in the first place.

Our contemporary muddle is therefore not a high and lonely destiny; it is the kind of sin that is as ordinary as dirt. We think we can absolve ourselves for the rebellion involved in our very ordinary and very grubby wanderings by describing our situation as post-something.

But why are you listening to the liar? Why do you give the time of day to the enemy of your souls? I don’t know, we say. It was dark. They were big. It was a post-situational encounter. But what our sorry generation needs is a simple, straight-up-the-middle come to Jesus sermon. But how will they preach unless they are sent?

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Categories: People I don't know

Fence the Tables

Blog & Mablog - Sat, 24/02/2018 - 16:55

The apostle Paul does not draw the kind of antithesis we might expect between the Table of the Lord and the food we eat throughout our daily lives. In this passage from Corinthians we have been considering, he talks about the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament, the manna and water of the wilderness, meat eaten by the Levites from the Old Testament sacrifices, dinner parties thrown by pagans, meat previously offered to idols, and meat consumed in the context of idolatrous worship. We have food of all kinds discussed, and all of it relates somehow to the Table of the Lord.

Of course, the point is not that all food is strictly speaking to be thought of as the Lord’s Supper. But the point is that all food is under the authority of the Lord’s Supper. There is no such thing as autonomous food—everything we eat must be related by faith back to our right to sit down here, at this Table. We are disciplined by this; we are taught by it; we are fed by it.

Put another way, we receive strength here, strength and wisdom to eat properly elsewhere. If we do not understand what we are doing here, then how can we possibly understand the bewildering array of food that confronts us everywhere we look? If we do not understand these two simple elements, bread and wine, then how can we possibly be obedient Christians when it comes to sorting out all the questions and all the menu choices that face us three times a day? All of us spend a great deal of time putting food in our mouths. This is what God wants (He created us this way), but He wants us to do so by faith. And that means partaking rightly here, by faith, asking to be made wise.

So fence the tables by fencing the Table here.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

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Federal Disestablishmentarianism

Blog & Mablog - Sat, 24/02/2018 - 02:00

“When the Constitution of the United States was adopted, the First Amendment addressed the issue of an established church at the federal level, but this did not address the Christendom question. It has been made to address it by means of revisionist history, but originally it had nothing whatever to do with it. The Constitution forbade a Church of the United States on federal grounds, not on secular grounds. The document was dated in the year of our Lord 1789, and at the time it was adopted, nine out of the thirteen states had established churches on the state level. There was no sense in which the nonestablishment clause was violated by those states having official state religions” (Empires of Dirt, pp. 189-190).

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Yeah, That Happens . . .

Blog & Mablog - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 16:13

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Science and Anti-Catholicism

Peter Leithart - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 14:00
John Hedley Brooke (Science and Religion, 44-45) summarizes the argument of JW Draper’s 1875 History of the Conflict between Religion and Science: “The history of science, he wrote, is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side and the compression arising from traditional faith, […]
Categories: People I don't know

Sinsick

Peter Leithart - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 14:00
In an essay in Sin, Death, and the Devil, Stanley Hauerwas describes our “sinsick” condition, drawing from Thomas for help. Thomas links sin and sickness in a way that, Hauerwas says, strikes moderns as “bizarre”: “‘Sickness’ for us . . . is pointless. Being ‘sick’ is a condition that should not exist and thereby justifies […]
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Sevens Everywhere

Peter Leithart - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 14:00
Everyone knows that Genesis 1 claims that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. William Brown (Seven Pillars of Creation) shows that the sevens are everywhere in the creation account: “The account of Genesis 1 is carefully structured around seven days within which eight acts of creation and ten commands […]
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Myths of Science

Peter Leithart - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 12:30
Galileo Goes To Jail, a 2009 collection of essays edited by Ronald Numbers, examines 25 myths of science and religion. The essays aren’t defenses of religion by any means; they instead aim at complicating the received scientific triumphalism and set records straight. Maurice A. Finocchiaro tackles myth #8, that Galileo was imprisoned and tortured by […]
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The Sin of Tolerance

Peter Leithart - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 12:30
The late Billy Graham from a 1959 issue of Christianity Today. 1959!! One of the pet words of this age is “tolerance.” It is a good word, but we have tried to stretch it over too great an area of life. We have applied it too often where it does not belong. The word “tolerant” […]
Categories: People I don't know

Modernity as Aspiration

Peter Leithart - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 12:30
“Modernity,” writes Jason A. Josephson-Storm, “is first and foremost the sign of a rupture . . . a device for positing significant historical breaks” (The Myth of Disenchantment, 7). By designating something as “modern,” we associate it with novelty, up-to-dateness, “the current.” But modernity is also a spatial reality: “to call a culture modern is […]
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Imago Dei

Peter Leithart - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 11:00
Frances Young (God’s Presence, 173-4) offers this summary of the post-Nicene consensus concerning the image of God in man: “Athanasius and the Cappadocians, those who fashioned the notion of theopoiesis/theosis and recognized that it implied Nicene orthodoxy, were those who had a sense of the interrelationship of differing aspects of God’s image as presented in […]
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Philosophic Wonder

Peter Leithart - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 11:00
Everyone wonders – children, “savages,” men and women at one another. Philosophers wonder too, Rosenzweig says (Understanding the Sick and the Healthy), but they respond to wonder differently from the rest of us. The rest of us are “adrift on the river Life, borne on, wonderment and all.” We drift and go on living, and […]
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Nominal Sociology

Peter Leithart - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 11:00
Sociologists, Rosenstock-Huessy charges, often formulate their theories in this fashion: “an obscure Force A and a Relation B . . . affect Mr Y.” Sociologists “pretend that their science address a nameless world” (In the Cross of Reality, 4). No such nameless world exists: “X and Y are unknown to reality, and so are ‘if […]
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Always Mark the Direct Object

Blog & Mablog - Fri, 23/02/2018 - 02:00

“The word conserve is a transitive verb, and there is no virtue or vice in any transitive verb. So you love, but what do you love? God? Ice cream? Child porn? The church you were baptized in? Your favorite pair of jeans? So you conserve, but what is it you want to conserve? The Kremlin Old Guard? Redwoods? Your stock options? The legacy of the first Christendom? Same with progress. You want to progress? Great. Where? To what end? By what standard?” (Empires of Dirt, pp. 185-186).

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The Content Cluster Muster (02.22.18)

Blog & Mablog - Thu, 22/02/2018 - 17:00

New Pictures of Jupiter

The Socialist Pipe Dream

GraceAgenda 2018

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Though It Is Probably Just a Driveway

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Language is Wonderful

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— Matthew Inman (@Oatmeal) February 21, 2018

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Questioning Simplicity

Peter Leithart - Thu, 22/02/2018 - 12:00
Matthew Levering devotes a dense chapter of his Engaging the Doctrine of Creation to a defense of divine simplicity. As one would expect from a leading Catholic thinker, Levering relies on Thomas. God, Levering argues, must be pure act in order to be something other than “a being among beings”: “God can be the source […]
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Do Not Be Anxious

Peter Leithart - Thu, 22/02/2018 - 11:00
The following excerpt is taken from the first volume of my Matthew commentary, recently published by Athanasius Press. Jesus announces the new law from the mountain; He is Moses on a new Sinai. But in this passage, Jesus assumes another role for a few moments – the role of Solomon the sage. The end of […]
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The Center is not the Circumference

Blog & Mablog - Thu, 22/02/2018 - 02:00

“I put a distinction between the Church and the Kingdom. The Church is at the center, Word and sacrament, and only sacred things are sacred. Because what the Church does is potent, this transforms the entire world—but it doesn’t turn the world into Church. That’s not the transformation. The Church turns the world into what the world ought to be. The Church doesn’t bring auto mechanics into the sanctuary. The Church teaches in such a way that auto mechanics grows and matures into what auto mechanics really should be like” (Empires of Dirt, pp. 183-184).

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That Second Paragraph

Blog & Mablog - Wed, 21/02/2018 - 15:56

Time once again to talk about that zesty tang in my writing. It is not that I have failed to address this before, but rather that the climate of our times is such that repetition is always in order. “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe” (Phil. 3:1).

Now when I say “zesty tang,” I do know that the modest flare I seek to put into my prose is not to everyone’s palate. For some, they appreciate how I hand them a cup of punch, having done to it everything Martha Stewart could think of, down to little orange-peel-piglet-tails floating in there with the crushed cinnamon ice. But for others, their experience is more like what would happen if I sprayed the tray of crackers with Lemon Pledge. So this reality is granted from the outset.

The key is to evaluate your prose according to the measure of the sanctuary. And a good deal of that has to do with what purpose your qualifications serve. When you qualify what you are about to say, when you engage in a little self-deprecation, what is the purpose? Why qualify anything? There are two basic routes to go, and one of them is disastrous. If you qualify what you are saying because of timidity, if you are offering it up as a little tentative gesture that indicates your willingness to surrender your post, then it is terrible. But if you qualify yourself as a preparation for your counter-punch, then you fighting the way you ought to be fighting.

Say you are going to say something that is potentially a real stinker, as I am going to do in my last paragraph below, then you want to put something in the second paragraph that will enable you come back when the anticipated howls erupt. Now some might think that I am giving away trade secrets here, but given the nature of our societal conflicts, that really doesn’t matter. Jesus told parables that were simultaneously transparent and opaque, depending on the listener. We are living in similar times, and audiences divide in similar ways.

If you want to fight like a Narnian, there are two things you must remember. Tirian laid down the first principle:

“And peace, Eustace. Do not scold, like a kitchen-girl. No warrior scolds. Courteous words or else hard knocks are his only language” (The Last Battle, p. 121).

The second principle is that of not caring what others may say about it, not caring even a little bit.

“And instead of being grave and mysterious like most Calormenes, they walked with a swing and let their arms and shoulders go free, and chatted and laughed. One was whistling. You could see that they were ready to be friends with anyone who was friendly and didn’t give a fig for anyone who wasn’t. Shasta thought he had never seen anything so lovely in his life” (The Horse and His Boy, p. 55).

That kind of thing really is profoundly attractive.

This will require some follow-up, but Christians today are crippled in our culture wars because they are guilt-ridden. They are guilt-ridden because they have all the weight of their own “traditional values,” and none of the exhilaration that comes from a real understanding of free grace. Their own lifestyle opinions run free, and the gospel is in shackles. Because mankind cannot live without some form of atonement, so it is they are careful to appease our secular adversaries because appeasement is our form of atonement lite. Whatever the secularists command us to “care about,” we fall all over ourselves to care about. It might be fair trade coffee, or racial reconciliation, or bullying in schools, or #MeToo, or environmentalism, or younameitism. Any refusal to appease these gods is seen as a failure to bow down when you hear the sound of the sackbut, and so the uncooperative Christian is seen by other Christians as the troubler of Israel.

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