Sunday Quote

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Sunday Quote!- Is God Male?

foyh-davidsonEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Is God Male?

I have continued working my way through the massive work, Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament by Richard Davidson. One topic he addresses is whether God is, in fact, male. A common belief among Christians is that God is male, and various arguments are summoned to support this. After examining and refuting several of these arguments, Davidson presents evidence to show that God is not male. His conclusion is pretty clear:

[T]he biblical material makes clear that the masculine does not exhaust the divine reality. In fact, Yahweh is above the polarity of sexuality and is neither male nor female, and displays within his nature both masculine and feminine dimensions. (130, cited below)

His argument is worth reading in detail, and summing it all up would be difficult. He summons the analogous use of feminine imagery for God as one line of evidence. Another argument he puts forward is to show that the avoidance of feminine pronouns and the like was to avoid the error of other Ancient Near Eastern cultures which identified the creator with creation in some ways through a womb metaphor.

Flame of Yahweh is shaping up to be a very important work in my collection. I’ve enjoyed it immensely so far, and been challenged by it on a number of topics. I recommend it to you, dear readers.

What do you think? Is God male? Why or why not?

Links

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Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Racial Incarceration

njc-alexander

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Racial Incarceration

Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is an astonishing, eye-opening book about how apparently race-neutral and colorblind laws can be used to perpetuate a system of racial injustice.

One argument Alexander raises in support of her conclusion is the disparity between white and non-white drug-related arrests in The War on Drugs. Although the law is technically not racist, its enforcement is tellingly slanted:

In at least fifteen states, blacks are admitted to prison on drug charges at a rate from twenty to fifty-seven times greater than that of white men. In fact, nationwide, the rate of incarceration for African American drug offenders dwarfs the rate of whites… People of all races use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. (98-99, cited below)

These statistics are astonishing and speak to how the enforcement of these laws shows a racial disparity that leads to a kind of new “undercaste”–as Alexander puts it. Re-read that quote and let the numbers sink in. The incarceration rate for blacks in some states is fifty-seven times that of whites for the same crimes, despite the fact that there is no evidence suggesting blacks are more likely to be drug users (in fact, some studies cited in the book show that whites are more likely to be drug users in some areas).

I highly recommend The New Jim Crow to you, dear readers, as a book that will challenge you in ways that may not all be expected.

Source

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow (New York: The New Press, 2011 edition).

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Sex is for Procreation?

foyh-davidson

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Sex is for Procreation?

A common assertion by many Christians is that the purpose of sex is for procreation. Although the value of this position in defending various other positions is not to be ignored, what is of concern is that this does not seem to encompass the totality of the biblical witness on the purposes for sex. Sexuality is a complex issue which the Bible addresses from multiple angles.

Richard M. Davidson’s seminal work, Flame of Yahweh, provides a comprehensive look at sexuality in the Old Testament. Against the notion that the purpose of sex is for procreation, he argues:

Amid the cacophony of pagan fertility rite percussion, beating out the message that sex is solely for procreation, in the Song [of Songs] the procreative function of sexuality is conspicuous by its absence. The Song does not deny this ninth facet of a sexual theology, but as in Gen[esis] 1, where procreation is added as a separate blessing (Gen[esis] 1:28), sexuality in the Song is freed from the common misunderstanding that its sole (or even primary) intent must be for the propagation of children. (605-606, cited below)

He provides much more argumentation than this, of course, but the conclusion above is telling. Perhaps we have missed something when it comes to the biblical teaching on sexuality. By focusing exclusively on procreation, we have not fully embraced the Bible’s comprehensive scope. The Song of Songs is an oft-ignored book which clearly shows the goodness of human sexuality, and that this goodness is not limited to the purpose of procreation.

That is a message worth putting forward, as couples struggle with miscarriage, infertility, and the like. Sexuality remains a good thing, even if it does not produce children, for God created human sexuality and called it good. The message of the Bible, and of Song of Songs in particular, teaches that human sexuality is wholesome and holistic, it is not reducible to one purpose or intent. See Davidson’s work, Flame of Yahweh, for further explanation and exegesis.

What do you think? How might the reductionist approach of sexuality = procreation often taught by Christians impact the perceptions about human sexuality? What can we do to better present the biblical view of human sexuality?

Links

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Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Russell Moore on Christmas and the Strangeness of Christianity

onward-mooreEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Russell Moore on Christmas and the Strangeness of Christianity

Russell Moore’s Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel is one of the best books I’ve read all year. He has a way with words that makes reading it a joy, while also giving new insights and perspectives on questions that are highly relevant. In his chapter on religious liberty, he writes about seeing a couple ads in a magazine on a plane. One is a beer ad that said “Silent nights are overrated” and another asked “Who says it is better to give than to receive?” Moore’s comments on the potential offense of these ads are well-worth reading. It’s a longer quote than I normally share, but I think it is worth the time to read:

The… ad agency probably didn’t reflect together… about how the song “Silent Night” is about the holy awe of the dawning Incarnation in Bethlehem. TO them, it probably seemed like just another Christmas song, part of the background music of the culture during this season. Saying it’s “overrated” probably didn’t feel any more insensitive to these copy writers than making a joke about decking the halls or reindeer games. The writers probably never thought… that the statement “It is better to give than to receive” is a quotation from Jesus, via the apostle Paul… It probably just seemed to them like a Benjamin Franklin-type aphorism, along the lines of when someone says… “to be or not to be” while not knowing the difference between Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn…

That ought not make us outraged, but prompt us to see how our neighbors see us–sometimes more in terms of our trivialities than in terms of the depths of meaning of Incarnation, blood atonement, and the kingdom of Christ. This means we need to spend more time engaging our neighbors with the sort of news that shocks angels and redirects stargazers and knocks sheep-herders to the ground. That will seem strange, and that’s all the better, because it is strange. (150, cited below)

Moore also points to Hanukkah and its importance to Judaism as going beyond selling blue stars of David at retail stores. His point is that we need to educate the broader culture about what it means to be Christian, and that means embracing the “weirdness” of our faith rather than working entirely to downplay it. In the context of religious liberty, that means not sacrificing the central claims of the Gospel when trying to make our points about what we believe and why we think it should be protected speech or act.

I recommend Moore’s book, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel to you this Christmas season. It’s not a Christmas book of course, but it is worth your time and money to acquire and read it.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Russell Moore, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2015).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- The Quest for the Star of Bethlehem

gcc-nicholl

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

The Quest for the Star of Bethlehem

I was excited to dive into The Great Christ Comet by Colin Nicholl. Not only is it seasonally appropriate as a read for Advent, but it also is a topic that I believe has much untapped theological and apologetic value. The topic has surely captured the popular imagination, as many renditions and references can attest to. There are many different lines of theological and astronomy that Nicholl draws on to make his point, however the biblical narrative, he argues, ought to be central to the quest for the Star of Bethlehem:

It should surely go without saying that any quest for the historical Star must be built firmly on the foundation of a rigorous analysis of Matthew 1:18-2:18. Only when this text has been mastered and the profile of the Star fully laid out can one realistically hope to deduce the precise astronomical phenomenon in view. (Kindle Location 563)

Nicholl does an admirable job showing how the biblical narrative of the Star ought to be central to research, and he forms his own theory around the biblical data. The Great Christ Comet is an exciting read on a topic that is little-explored. If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating topic, I know of no other work as thorough as this one. Check out my review of the book.

Source

Colin Nicholl, The Great Christ Comet (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Review: “The Great Christ Comet” by Colin Nicholl– I review the book and provide some more background into its subject and contents.

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Suspense Author Dean Koontz on Evil and Satan

saint-oddEvery Sunday I offer a quote from something I’ve read recently. It’s usually from a book, but here I’m highlighting a quote from an interview. Be sure to check out the other Sunday Quotes and let me know your thoughts.

Suspense Author Dean Koontz on Evil and Satan

Anthony Weber’s excellent look at Saint Odd, the final book in the Odd Thomas series, got me back into reading Koontz after I hadn’t read anything from him in a while. Weber also shared a quote from an interview with Dean Koontz. I read the rest of the interview and I felt what he had to say about evil and its portrayal is worth taking the time to share and consider:

I don’t shy away from having violent things happen, but I don’t dwell on it. I feel, as a Christian, writing books that have a moral purpose to them, it’s actually incumbent upon me to write about evil, because this kingdom is Satan’s and he is the prince of the world. It’s here and it’s among us.

My villains are pathetic. I never glorify a villain. I couldn’t write something like Hannibal because there’s something there that makes the villain the most glamorous person in the piece. I can’t write that. I don’t find evil glamorous. You’ll never find it that way in my books…

Evil walks among us. We don’t always see it. Each of us, in our daily lives, encounters evil; we are tempted to evil every day of our lives. If we don’t want to read about it or think about it, I don’t think that’s a truly Christian point of view. We have to acknowledge it, face it and defeat it. That’s what each of my books is about. (Cited here; original here)

I think Koontz’s comments are well-worth considering. Evil is something that is foreign to this world. Satan and other spiritual powers are working to perpetuate evil in this world. We must not close our eyes to it, but rather, “acknwoledge it, face it, and defeat it” by the power of Christ.

I recommend Koontz’s works to you.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Chatting with Koontz About Faith– You can read the whole interview here. It is worth the time.

Saint Odd– Read Anthony Weber’s post about the final book in the Odd Thomas series.

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Richard Davidson’s Moderate Egalitarianism

foyh-davidson

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Richard Davidson’s Moderate Egalitarianism

I’ve still been working my way through Richard Davidson’s mammoth study of sexuality in the Old Testament, Flame of Yahweh. The book is magisterial; there are not enough superlatives for it in my reading so far. His arguments are well thought out and he deals with the other side in great depth both in the text’s body and in footnotes. Davidson’s ultimate position is summed up about halfway through the book:

Jesus and NT writers began the task of cutting through all the then-current dualistic misogynist interpretations of the OT and the denigration of women, and ancient Jewish sources and practices likewise reveal a trend toward a higher view of women. It remains for the church and the synagogue to complete this task of restoration back to Eden. Divine grace is available to restore the home to the original egalitarian model, while allowing for servant leadership of the husband as may be temporarily necessary along the way to preserve unity and harmony in the family; divine grace will empower the covenant community to utilize and officially recognize the Spirit-endowed leadership gifts of women in the church and synagogue. May the day of complete restoration come soon. (295, cited below)

Davidson’s position is effectively the same as the egalitarian one until you read the middle section in which he advocates that the “servant leadership of the husband” could be a temporary necessity. His position, as argued earlier in the book, is that God mandated this kind of leadership post-fall because of the need for having leadership in the home now that sin has split it. However, even in this case he advocates working towards the Edenic ideal of a truly egalitarian marriage.

Such a position demonstrates, I think, the inadequacy of the current definitions of the egalitarian/complementarian debate. Because we have reduced it down to just two positions, some people who walk the line between the two don’t find a solid fit in either camp. I would characterize Davidson as an egalitarian, particularly due to his advocacy of working towards egalitarian marriage despite his view that a male-headship model of marriage might be a temporary necessity. Yet I wonder if we need to re-categorize the debate in order to more accurately allow for middle positions.

I’ve been greatly enjoying Davidson’s monumental work, Flame of Yahwehand recommend it to you, dear readers.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Nation or Kingdom?

onward-mooreEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Nation or Kingdom?

Russell Moore, in his latest book, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel counters the notion that passages like 2 Chronicles 7:14 should be read as a kind of “God and Country” text for civil religion in America:

The problem is that the application of this, and other passages, to the United States–or to any other nation, for that matter–is a confusion of the question of who “we” are. The United States, or any other modern nation, is not in a covenant with God… We too often see America as somehow more “real” than the kingdom [of God], and our country as more important than the church. (75, 76 cited below)

Moore has more to say about the use of this and other passages, but this sums up his argument. We too often make our identity with our nation rather than with the Kingdom.

I have found Russell Moore’s Onward to be a very rewarding read thus far.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Russell Moore, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2015).

SDG.

Was the Three-Tiered Universe Merely Phenomenological?

sc-greenwoodWas the Three-Tiered Universe Merely Phenomenological? 

There are many passages throughout the Bible which appear to show that the authors believed in a three-tiered universe in which there were the heavens, the earth, and the underworld/waters. Some Christians argue that these descriptions were merely phenomenological: that is, the authors were writing as observers rather than attempting to report anything about the actual world. It is like when we say the sun rises, we aren’t actually intending to say the sun is orbiting the Earth, but rather just reporting something we experience: our perspective shows the sun rising.

Kyle Greenwood, in Scripture and Cosmology, argues that the biblical authors did, in fact hold to a three-tiered cosmology, and so the language should not be reduced to being merely phenomenological. He cites four strands of evidence for this conclusion:

First, whenever we find physical descriptions of the cosmos, it is described as three-tiered. Second, whenever we find… images or drawings of the cosmos, they are three-tiered. Third, nowhere… do we find the authors explaining their cosmology in any other terms besides the three-tiered system. Finally, we know that ancients thought of the cosmos in terms of the heavens, earth, and seas because eventually these ideas were challenged by Aristotle and Ptolemy, whose ideas were later challenged by Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler. (69, cited below)

Greenwood’s argument seems to me to be quite convincing. If we want to hold that the Bible’s cosmology is phenomenological, we should have some textual evidence that demonstrates a different perspective was in mind. We don’t. Thus, when an author in the Bible speaks of the skies being “hard” (Job 37:18, for example), this reflects an ancient cosmology.

None of this does anything to undermine the authority or inerrancy of the Bible. Inerrancy, I believe, should properly be understood as meaning “The Bible is true in whatever it teaches.” (See my article on the term “inerrancy” and its usage.) The authors aren’t trying to teach us about cosmology, that’s just a background belief. They must describe the heavens somehow, and they used the understanding they had of the cosmos.

What do you think? Can we reduce the language of the Bible to being phenomenological? What reasons might we have for doing so? How might we best understand the Bible’s cosmology in light of other Ancient Near Eastern cosmology, and how could that help us understand what the Bible teaches?

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Kyle Greenwood, Scripture and Cosmology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Future Kings and Queens of the Universe

onward-mooreEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Future Kings and Queens of the Universe

Russell Moore’s book, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel argues for a Christian perspective on cultural engagement that goes beyond (and even rejects) simply trying to integrate Christianity into existing culture. At one point, he argues that we cannot reduce the people that are often outsiders in our pews to being projects; instead, we must see the Christians around us as part of the glorious resurrection to come:

When the church honors and cares for the vulnerable among us, we are not showing charity. We are simply recognizing the way the world really works, at least in the long run. The child with Down syndrome on the fifth row from the back in your church, he’s not a “ministry project.” He’s a future king of the universe. The immigrant woman who scrubs toilets every day on hands and knees, and can barely speak enough English to sing along with your praise choruses, she’s not a problem to be solved. She’s a future queen of the cosmos, a joint-heir with Christ. (81-82, cited below)

I thought the perspective offered here is wonderful. The body of Christ is made up of people that we so often want to just reject out-of-hand or treat differently because of who they are. But there is no room for that in the ultimate hope of Christianity. We will be ruling with our Lord Jesus Christ with all of these “others.”

Thus far, I highly recommend Russell Moore’s Onward to you, dear readers.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Russell Moore, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2015).

SDG.

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