H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
  • - Endorsed
  • - Indifferent
  • - Contested
I Affirm This
The Nashville Statement
Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
The Buzz

Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
Email Me
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Isn't It Interesting?
You look at these sculptures, and at first you may not notice that they are actually made from all sorts of industrial components: gear chains, rebar, harrowing tines, and various gears, snips and pliers etc..

I mean, yes, if you look at a pair of pliers, for instance, you could easily see how the shape in some small way might resemble the beak of a bird - but in the context of your toolbox, the thought wouldn't be given much shrift. After all, you use pliers to grip things more securely than you can with just your hands. That is what they are made for, and the while we may find other uses for pliers, no sober person would argue that the purpose of a pair of pliers is to form the beak of a junk structure. One might take a pair of pliers and use them thus, but we recognize without having to be told that such a use is foreign to the overall "context" of the tool. We know that the tool was never intended to be used thus, such that when some clever person constructs an image wherein a pair of pliers is employed contrary to its right context, we note immediately that while it certainly supports the artistic impression, it by no means does so "as a pair of pliers" but rather as an object that has been robbed of its context in order to fit into the artistic invention of some person.

Likewise for the gear chains, the gears, the rebar, etc. All of these objects are pulled out of their respective contexts and combined thus to create something new - an image that while composed of these items, is a composition that uses the shape rather than the meaning of the items, in order to construct something entirely foreign to the meaning and use of each individual piece.

I think that is what makes it so artistic - that we can take things that have no relationship to one another, and by our genius combine them into an image that is recognizable to all.

To be fair, while such things are generally the product of clever invention, we must account for those who are not really artists so much as honest, but profoundly negligent construction people. They see all these objects, and since they don't understand what they are, or the context they come from - they put them together according to their ignorance, and take some comfort that at the end of the day they have something that looks like a bird. Surely, they reason, if these things were not supposed to be combined to form the similitude of a bird, why then did they fit together so? The fact that their creation has produced a real image is enough to persuade them that they have used the pieces aright. They are not clever artists, but rather very poor builders. The end result however, whether a clever artist, or an ignoramus is the same - they piece together an image from coincidental shapes that have nothing whatsoever to do with the end product.

I am of course speaking about the way we build our doctrine. I see regularly in the blogosphere a lot of "junk-bird" theology. You know, where people start off with an image of God in their head, then they use scripture itself to sculpt it? These presume up front that God is one way, then they go to the bible to find verses that can be knit together to "prove" that God looks the way they have always imagined He would look. They come to scripture looking for something "beak shaped" and finding a pair of pliers, they use that, not because it is a beak, but because it can be made to look like a beak. They come looking for a beak, and they find one, even if it isn't really a beak - all that matters is that it looks like one for now.

I believe that is why we who teach will be judged with greater strictness - because when a person is told by someone whom they know to be genuine and sincere - that a given text means such and such, they may well go to the text expecting to find what you have said is there. If you use verses like a junk-artist uses junk - you can pretty much make scripture paint any picture you like. So as a teacher you better know what presumptions you bring to the text, or you may well make people see something in scripture that is only there according to your own cleverness or ignorance. What a great responsibility a teacher has.

And yet, the Internet allows everyone who wants to hang a shingle and present themselves to all the world as a teacher of truth. We live in an age where the responsibility has never been greater, and simultaneously, the abuse of this position has never been more widespread.

God help the church. If we do not tremble before God's word, we are fools. If we take as truth whatever is being served up, we are fools. If we are so certain that our theology is right, we are fools. I am more concerned for the one who is hardened in a more or less "right" theology than the one who is convinced of a more or less "wrong" theology, but remains open and teachable. The former is proud, the latter humble - the former is being worked upon by their own pride, the latter by God's grace.

Look: read the bible, and until you have read the bible cover to cover a half dozen times or so (a full dozen is better) maybe teaching isn't what you ought to be doing right now - I don't care how many theology books you have read or how many degrees are behind your name - nor do I care how big your vocabulary is, or what seminary you graduated from. I don't care if you know Greek and Hebrew, I don't care if you have been in the ministry for thirty years, I that matters to me is that the study of scripture informs your theology rather than allowing your theology to inform scripture.

Sadly however, I know that the people who need this sort of teaching to penetrate their heart the most are the least likely to receive it.


posted by Daniel @ 9:59 AM  
  • At 12:49 PM, October 03, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    junk-bird theology is going to be a trademarked expression some day. ;-)

  • At 3:05 PM, October 03, 2007, Blogger David said…

    I'll be using it, for sure. I can think of at least one other popular hyphenated theology it could readily replace.

  • At 3:07 PM, October 03, 2007, Blogger Jim said…

    Wouldn't that be an interesting question to a prospective pastor; "how many times have you read the Bible through cover to cover?"

    May expose a lot.

  • At 4:41 PM, October 03, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim - Funny you should say that. I have interviewed potential pastors before, and that is always the first question I ask.

    I recall one gentleman replying with some number (it was less than ten), and doing so with a profound confidence that this number would impress. It didn't. In fact, it did quite the opposite. I think the word "appalled" is a bit harsh, but something more than shocked, and but slightly less than outright appalled would fit. The sad thing was that this fellow had already been a pastor for years, and a Christian for decades.

    It is a very good question to ask, and I would not hesitate to add that I would not bother considering a pastor who hasn't read the bible cover to cover at least once for each year he or she has been an obedient believer, or somewhere close to that at least. Good gravy if a person can't be bothered to read the whole bible, it is doubtful they will do much better preaching it.

  • At 6:18 PM, October 03, 2007, Blogger David said…

    "I would not bother considering a pastor who hasn't read the bible cover to cover at least once for each year he or she has been an obedient believer"

    I'd be careful about that. I'd guess most who have read their Bible faithfully don't know haw many times they've read it. Also, they may have read some parts many times and others fewer. I don't think you can put a number on what constitutes enough.

    I once asked one of my favorite pastors how many times he had read the Bible. He didn't know, but then he told me his reading habits, and I was satisfied I'd probably never live long enough to catch him.

  • At 11:06 PM, October 03, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, I agree that one can't hold out the hard/fast rule in the way I presented it; it is something of a "baseline" and even when I wrote it out like that I thought I should flesh it out a bit more in case someone takes me to task for it. ;-)

    The point is not so much to get a big number but rather to examine whether or not there has been a clear, diligent, consistent, and thorough study of God's word, or whether the fellow has or not. A pastor whom I very much respect has split the OT and NT into three parts each, and reads three chapters a day from each. Not my cup of tea, but he does read through the whole of the bible two or three times a year thus (though in doing so he probably reads the book of revelation about four times... which makes it a bit unbalanced for me.

    So I wouldn't use my "method" if you will to disqualify someone who uses some other way to study God's word- all that matters is that nothing is left out, etc.

  • At 11:21 PM, October 03, 2007, Blogger David said…

    So, Daniel, how many times have you read the Bible? I need to know so I can decide if I'm going to keep reading your blog.

    That's supposed to be Fe.

  • At 11:22 PM, October 03, 2007, Blogger David said…

    Or, rather, Fe-ic.

  • At 7:33 AM, October 04, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, I see the Fe-y in your question. :-O

    It is suffice to say that I read the bible cover to cover more than once per year, though there was one year that it took the whole year to read it, as I was especially engaged in other bible reading programs (reading the same whole book from the NT each day for a month, then moving on to another book for the next month, etc.) Like your friend, I can't even guess at how many times I have read the bible if I were to include the many topical readings as part of a "read through". Frankly it is because some people only ever do topical reading that I would even bother to ask the question - many Christians are experts at reading the psalms, proverbs and the gospels, with occasional forays into Genesis - yet such as these are not as fit for the pulpit as those who are more diligent in their study. The point of the question is to gauge how diligent the candidate is. A man who cannot see the value of studying the whole word of God with diligence is what we look for, and a question like this will draw that out. It isn't to see how many times the fellow has managed to read through the whole text 0 that information is just the required "input" into the real consideration - how serious is this fellow about god's whole word, how balanced is he?

    Like I said, if a person isn't sure that he has read the bible all the way through, it is probably because he doesn't consider doing so a priority. While it is certainly possible to eventually read the entire bible simply by doing enough topical studies in it. There is something of a difference between throwing a weed killer out randomly every year so that in twenty years you can be reasonably confident that you must have put weed killer over the entire yard at least once, maybe not, but then again maybe - and maybe even more than once? There is a difference I say between that and someone applying weed killer to the whole yard in a single year, or even more than once in a single year. Both are engaged in weed killing, but one is more diligent than the other.

    When I am interviewing a pastor, I am concerned about his diligence, I am concerned that he be one who studies the whole word of God to demonstrate that he really is "approved" to handle the whole word of God.

    We have to use some metric, and I am not touchy-feely enough to go with my gut. ;-)

Post a Comment
<< Home
Previous Posts
Atom Feed
Atom Feed
Creative Commons License
Text posted on this site
is licensed under a
Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5