Monday, January 29, 2007

"Slipping in the Back Door"
(Some Random Thoughts on the Siouxland Presbytery Report)

The Siouxlands Presbytery of the PCA recently adopted a report by a study committee it had erected to deal with the so-called New Perspective on Paul, the so-called Federal Vision and Norman Shepherd's theology. Now, whether or not I agree with (all of some of) its findings is besides the point. The point of this post is to highlight a few random thoughts.

1. At a time when a lot ministers in the PCA are becoming increasingly frustrated with the denomination's current trajectory--a trajectory that is anti-ecumenical and increasingly uncharitable--and a few churches have withdrawn from the denomination, I'm thankful that the PCA is the kind of place that allows each presbytery the freedom to decide matters like these on their own. Moreover, the Siouxlands Presbytery document carries little if no weight in other presbyteries and in the denomination as a whole (thankfully!).

2. The document itself is far from nuanced. The conclusion reads: "The proponents of these views are outside the system of doctrine of the Westminster standards and do contradict the Scriptural teaching."


3. I believe that the good majority of people who are gearing up to fight this particular battle also support (or have supported) strict subscription to the Westminster Standards in the denomination. Therefore, it's another way of getting at the issue of strict subscription adherence (or the need for strict subscription adherence) to the Standards. In other words, I believe that the argument for strict subscription adherence to the Standards is trying to slip into the back door and has found a way to piggyback itself on this issue.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Echoes of Jonah in the Jesus Story

Whether or not the Book of Jonah is historically accurate is not the point of this post. The Gospel writers (Matthew and Luke) make it clear that they knew the story and read the story and used it typologically for Jesus (they even put it in Jesus' mouth). But there are a few other interesting connections between Jesus and the story of Jonah that the Gospel writers pick up on:

1. Matthew picks up on the obvious connection: Jesus' death stay is 3 days long, just as Jonah's encapsulation in the gut of the fish in the depths of the sea (what the writer of Jonah equates with Sheol--the place of the dead) was 3 days long.

2. Luke is more subtle and doesn't mention the 3 day parallel: He hints at the 40 day post resurrection account. Both Jonah and Jesus have a 40 day post resurrection occurrence.

3. In the famous Jesus Stills the Storm pericope, all three synoptic writers have Jesus sleeping in the boat just as the storm begins to rage, threatening to drown the disciples. This is an uncanny parallel with the Jonah story: Jonah was sleeping in the boat as the storm began to rage threatening to drown the newfound YHWH fearing sailors.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Years Eve Reflection on Genesis 3: "The King Has No Clothes"

I recently preached a sermon on Genesis 3 through the lens of what Adam and Eve were wearing. You can listen here.

Since my undergraduate art history class, I haven't been able to shake the Masaccio image on the left--an image which perfectly portrays the horror and shame of Adam and Eve's expulsion from the garden. What was branded in my mind was Eve's expression--one which should be on the face of every human being once we have come to the realization that we have been exiled from the presence of the God of the universe.