Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Semi-Random Musings (32)

Jonathan Noyes’ latest post at the Stand to Reason blog asks “Do You Know What Your Child Is Being Taught about Sex?” It’s a decent primer for Christian parents with children in the public school system, at least with respect to the issue of what is actually being taught. I don’t think Noyes has missed much in describing the variety of poisons to which our children are being exposed.

Where Noyes missed the boat completely is in failing to address how the school system is disseminating its propaganda. In the end, the delivery method matters more than any particular offensive and ungodly bit of misinformation.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Anonymous Asks (278)

“Why does Paul call our difficulties a ‘momentary, light affliction’?”

Our question today comes from 2 Corinthians 4. To answer it, we need to look carefully at the pronouns Paul uses throughout his letter, as these are key to understanding the passage.

Short version: I do not think it’s our difficulties to which the apostle is referring. I believe he is referring to his own.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

The Righteous Nation

Isaiah 26 is Judah’s millennial song. The faithful remnant in Israel is looking back to the Lord’s dealings with them, vindicating them among the nations in the great tribulation, and looking forward to the prospect of Jerusalem as a city set apart to God and Israel as the first among the nations during Christ’s millennial reign.

“Open the gates,” cry the remnant, “that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.”

That’s not a Christian sentiment, it’s a Jewish one, and it’s quite a change from what we are seeing today.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Mining the Minors: Haggai (1)

Around 606 BC, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem and carried off its king, some of the vessels from the temple, and the cream of the Judean nobility to be educated and serve his empire. Thus began the second Israelite diaspora, the first coming over a century earlier when the king of Assyria conquered Samaria and dispersed the people of the northern kingdom across his own empire. Nebuchadnezzar returned at least twice more, finally destroying Jerusalem and its temple in 586 BC and carrying off the vast majority of Judeans to Babylon and beyond.

Jeremiah and many other prophets we have studied in this series foretold this, and the power and judgment of God were behind it. The last chapter of Chronicles tells us Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled the word of the Lord “until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths”, to fulfill Jeremiah’s seventy years.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Upside-Down World

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Two weeks ago, a British court ruled that transgender fantasies now officially trump the word of God in at least one Western state.

Tom: Here’s the wacky ruling in a nutshell:

“Belief in Genesis 1:27, lack of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our judgment are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others, specifically here, transgender individuals ... in so far as those beliefs form part of his wider faith, his wider faith also does not satisfy the requirement of being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others.”

Well, here we are, IC, “not worthy of respect”. How will we look at ourselves in the mirror?

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Youth Problems Part 2: Life in Suspended Animation

I grew up a Trekkie.

You remember that word? It was a nerd word. A “trekkie” was a person who loved the television show Star Trek. My daily ritual was to get home and plop myself down in front of the telly and catch whatever rerun was on that day. I think I saw most episodes of the original show a half dozen times or more.

I remember one episode called Space Seed, in which the crew of the Starship Enterprise discovers a ship loaded with sleeping men and women. They’re all in what’s called suspended animation: alive, but asleep and on life support, so that they can endure a lengthy trip through space. The crew revives one named Khan, and he turns out to be a kind of wild superman they’re unable to control. He’s more than a little agitated that he and his people have become the rejects of planet Earth.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Let Him Deny Himself

Yesterday, I proposed an alternative translation of Matthew 16:24-26 legitimized by Greek usage in the New Testament that applies a little more broadly than the standard interpretation of the passage. I’m not suggesting the “life/soul” distinction that most translators see as key to understanding what the Lord taught is incorrect. What I’m proposing is that we apply these few verses to a whole lot more of our lives than just the moment in which we are willing to die for the faith if called upon to do so.

After all, dying is relatively easy. You only have to do it once. Living for Christ requires dying to self every day and in every way.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Life, Soul and Self

The footnote to Matthew 16:25-26 in my ESV reads as follows:

“The same Greek word can mean either soul or life, depending on the context; twice in this verse and twice in verse 26.”

That’s probably as good an introduction to our subject as any. It’s certainly what got my attention.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Anonymous Asks (277)

“Will everyone in the lake of fire suffer to the same degree?”

Catholic theologians speak of mortal and venial sins, distinguishing between degrees of evil. Dante’s The Divine Comedy contemplated a hell divided into nine descending circles, with the worst sinners at the bottom, distinguishing between degrees of punishment in the afterlife. Greater sin in this life, greater punishment in eternity, or so goes the thinking.

“But much of Romanist theology has no basis in scripture,” you protest, “and Dante’s not the Bible.” Very true. If some Protestants view the lake of fire as a great equalizer, perhaps they are simply reacting to extra-biblical traditions proclaiming the opposite.

If the Catholics believe it, it must be wrong, right? Well, maybe not in this case.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Leader You Know You Can Be

Rachel Zegler on the version of Snow White in Disney’s latest remake of a classic:

“She’s not going to be saved by the prince and she will not be dreaming about true love. She’s dreaming about becoming the leader that she knows she can be.”

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the leader of them all”? Meh. I wouldn’t have been lining up to see it in any case. If I spend another second in my entire life watching strong, independent women self-actualize onscreen, it will be several decades too much.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Mining the Minors: Obadiah (5)

What will the Middle East look like during Christ’s millennial reign?

Obadiah tells us seven distinct facts about the future division of the former land of Israel and the territory around it. Considering their number, we should not expect them to be comprehensive. They supplement the more detailed tribal division of the land described in Ezekiel. If you notice, as I did, that these details harmonize better in some places than others, bear in mind that any map drawn today based on ancient place names is bound to have considerable wiggle room. Some ancient locations are well attested; others are mere speculations. As a result, no two maps of Ezekiel’s tribal division of the land square exactly.

Both passages agree future Israel will occupy considerably more territory than at any point in its previous history, expanding north, south, east and west.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: The Emperor’s New Clothes

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Christopher Dummitt is an Associate Professor of History at Trent University, and he has a confession to make: “I basically just made it up.”

Tom: He’s not the first, and he’s probably not the worst, but Dummitt is keen on taking either credit or blame (it’s not always clear which) for successfully swaying Canadian public opinion about sex and gender. He used to tell his students and readers that gender is entirely a social construct, not a biological reality. Today, the vast majority of Canadians believe him.

Problem is he was misusing his authority to deceive the public. The Emperor would go out tonight, but he doesn’t have a stitch to wear. Likewise, Dummitt had no substantive evidence of any sort to offer for his ideology-based position. As he now admits, his so-called “proofs” may legitimately be interpreted any number of ways. He used rhetoric and the “appeal to authority” fallacy to patch the gaping holes in his argument.

But we knew that, didn’t we, IC?

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Youth Problems Part 1: Double Jeopardy

“I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today!”

I hear that a lot. And I suppose there’s something to it. It’s not easy going through those vulnerable transitional years today.

But then it’s never been.

It’s a really unnatural stage of life. Today, we may take it for granted; but we are losing touch with just how irregular, how unhealthy and how bizarre it really is. That’s because most of us were raised through a socialization process — including urban economic life, mass schooling, post-secondary training, late induction into adulthood, and so on — that took it for granted. We are out of touch with just how developmentally weird it really is.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Canadian Common Law and the Bible

Ancient laws didn’t come with definition sections.

When you see some of the lengthy, arbitrary and self-contradictory definitions in modern legal codes, this may at first seem like a feature rather than a bug, but it still leaves the modern reader of the Law of Moses struggling with certain ambiguities, not least the ones concerning marriage.

This was not a problem for the people who lived under the Law of Moses in ancient times. They understood the sociocultural environment in which the law was given well enough to obey God’s commands without the need for the endless paragraphs of legalese modern lawyers generate like spiderwebs.

The bad news is that understanding the background of the law wasn’t their problem; keeping it was.