Oord on the Coronavirus

From God’s Will and the Coronavirus

Many who claim God causes or allows the Coronavirus will see some good that comes from our current crisis. They’ll point to stories of self-sacrifice or the good that comes from people cooperating to combat this pandemic.

Upon seeing the good that comes from the pandemic, some will use a “greater good” argument. “We’ve learned something valuable from the Coronavirus!” they might say. “This pandemic has taught us we don’t need all the stuff we thought we needed.” “It took a virus for us to learn to slow down and focus on what’s important.”

Good things will come from the evils we currently face. Count on it. But we shouldn’t say God causes or allows evil for this good. It isn’t part of some predetermined plan.

Working with a diseased creation, God works to wring whatever good can be wrung from the wrong God didn’t cause or allow.

Instead, we should think God squeezes some good from the bad God didn’t want in the first place.

God never gives up on anyone or any situation. Working with a broken and diseased creation, God works to wring whatever good can be wrung from the wrong God didn’t cause or allow.

Calvin on Simplicity and the Trinity

For the essence of God being simple and undivided, and contained in himself entire, in full perfection, without partition or diminution, it is improper, nay, ridiculous, to call it his express image, (charakte). But because the Father, though distinguished by his own peculiar properties, has expressed himself wholly in the Son, he is said with perfect reason to have rendered his person (hypostasis) manifest in him. And this aptly accords with what is immediately added, viz.,that he is “the brightness of his glory.” The fair inference from the Apostle’s words is, that there is a proper subsistence (hypostasis) of the Father, which shines refulgent in the Son. From this, again it is easy to infer that there is a subsistence (hypostasis) of the Son which distinguishes him from the Father.

The same holds in the case of the Holy Spirit; for we will immediately prove both that he is God, and that he has a separate subsistence from the Father. This, moreover, is not a distinction of essence, which it were impious to multiply.

Calvin, John. The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works . Waxkeep Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art
High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

Augustine the Committed Neoplatonist

From Ultimate Reality according to Augustine of Hippo by Roland Teske:

Toward the beginning of this century Prosper Alfaric touched off a storm of protest when he claimed that both morally and intellectually Augustine of Hippo was converted to Neoplatonism in 386 ratherthan to the Gospel (Alfaric, I 9 I 8, p. 399), even adding that, if he had died shortly thereafter, he would have been remembered as a committed Neoplatonist, slightly tinged with Christianity (Alfaric, 1918, p. 527).

Josephus on Omnipresence in 1 Samuel 20

From Antiquities Book 6:

8. But Jonathan heard these last words with indignation; and promised to do what he desired of him, and to inform him if his father’s answers implied any thing of a melancholy nature, and any enmity against him. And that he might the more firmly depend upon him, he took him out into the open field, into the pure air, and sware that he would neglect nothing that might tend to the preservation of David; and he said, “I appeal to that God, who, as thou seest, is diffused every where, and knoweth this intention of mine, before I explain it in words, as the witness of this my covenant with thee: that I will not leave off to make frequent trials of the purpose of my father, till I learn whether there be any lurking distemper in the secretest parts of his soul: and when I have learnt it, I will not conceal it from thee, but will discover it to thee; whether he be gently or peevishly disposed. For this God himself knows, that I pray he may always be with thee: for he is with thee now, and will not forsake thee; and will make thee superior to thine enemies; whether my father be one of them, or whether I my self be such. Do thou only remember what we now do: and if it fall out that I die, preserve my children alive; and requite what kindness thou hast now received, to them.”

Worship Sunday – Jesus Paid it All

I hear the Saviour say
Thy strength indeed is small
Child of weakness, watch and pray
Find in Me thine all in all

Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete
Jesus died my soul to save
My lips shall still repeat

O Praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead
O Praise the one who paid my debt
And raised this life up from the dead

AW Pink on God Controlling Everything

Is it not clear that God foreknows what will be because He has decreed what shall be? God’s foreknowledge is not the cause of events,
rather are events the effects of His eternal purpose. when God has decreed a thing shall be He knows it will! be. In the nature of things
there cannot be anything known as what shall be unless it is certain to be, and there is nothing certain to be unless God has ordained
it shall be.

-AW Pink, The Sovereignty of God

Spurgeon on God controlling everything

“I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of . . . leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”

― Charles Spurgeon

Worship Sunday – In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

Matthew 7:11 Commentary

Mat 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Matthew 7:11 is the conclusion of a section labeled by the NKJV as “Ask, and It Will Be Given”. The immediate point is that all individuals have to do is ask, and God will provide. Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. God responds to the prayers of His people. This is reaffirmed in verse 11, in which the text affirms that God is not going to give people suffering in response to their prayer. God is much better than evil people who treat their children well. God is a good God who treats His children very well.

This entire section is a commentary on the mindset of Jesus. God is the God who responds to prayer. He is not the Calvinistic God who makes His people suffer, but responds with good gifts. The relationship aspect of prayer is in the forefront of Jesus’ mind.

Fox on Ambrose’s Platonism

In general, Ambrose shared the Apostle Paul’s low opinion of the ‘foolish philosophy’ of this world, but there was one exception: Platonism, with its unworldly emphasis. In a series of brilliant studies, the late Pierre Courcelle showed that phrases adapted and culled from the Platonist Plotinus are present in surviving texts of several of Ambrose’s sermons, those datable, probably, between 386 and 387.26 Whether or not Ambrose ever read Plotinus directly, these statements relate him to the Platonist milieu which is traceable among Augustine’s new ‘friends’.

Fox, Robin Lane. Augustine . Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

Rosicrucian Digest on the Goal of NeoPlatonism

The ultimate goal of human life and of philosophy is to realize the mystical return of the soul to the Divine. Freeing itself from the sensuous world by purification, the human soul ascends by successive steps through the various degrees of the metaphysical order, until it unites itself in communion with the One.

Bindon, Peter. Neoplatonism: Rosicrucian Digest (Rosicrucian Order AMORC Kindle Editions) . Rosicrucian Order, AMORC. Kindle Edition.

Matthew 8:10 Commentary

Mat 8:10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

In Matthew 8:10, Jesus encounters a Centurion who believes Jesus could heal his servant remotely. Jesus “marvels”. This is a gentile who believes Jesus has more power than even the natives of Israel. The marveling suggests this is news to Jesus. Despite some depictions of Jesus as Omniscient, the text of Matthew portrays him learning and even being surprised.

Worship Sunday – God of Rest

Vengo a adorarte, vengo a cantarte
Vengo a decirte que eres mi Dios
Dios poderoso, Dios del descanso
Mientras cantamos aqui Tu estas

You are the one who sees all our needs
You are the one who provides
You are the peace that our souls receive
En Ti podemos descansar

God over our striving, God over our sleep
God over our struggle, our work and our rest
God over our future, God over our history
God over our family, our people, our land
God over our striving, God over our sleep
God over our struggle, our work and our rest
God over our future, God over our history
God over our family, our people, our land

When we lift You up, You lift us up
When we lift You up, You lift us up
When we lift You up, You lift us up
En Ti podemos descansar

Matthew 18:14 Commentary

Mat 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

In Matthew 18:14, Jesus concludes a section on God’s love for children. In verse 10, Jesus describes what very easily could be a concept like a guardian angel. These angels petition God on behalf of the children, so attempts to hurt children have special weight and heightened consequence.

God wills that no children should “perish”. Presumably this means the children are hurt physically or spiritually. This is God’s desire, but the context reveals that God doesn’t always get what He wants. Sometimes people hurt these children. Verse 10 describes individuals “despising” the children. Verses 11 and 12 describe God reclaiming lost sheep. God’s desire is to bring all the lost into the fold. This is worth celebrating.

Craig Drurey – Signing Off

From the recently deceased Craig Drurey:

As the church, we have often described the Bible as God’s story. Indeed, it does reveal God’s interaction with creation. However, I think we leave out an important segment that God values when we describe scripture in this way. A more helpful way would be to describe scripture as not only God’s story, but our story—the story of how humanity has interacted with God.

In this view, God would never authoritatively dictate the words to be written, the books to be canonized, or our interpretation as we read today. Absolutely, God was, is, and will continue to be fully involved in the process of scripture. However, just like the Roloff family, God invites and desires full human interaction with scripture. The uncontrolling love of God makes for a much more beautiful view of scripture—a view where scripture is not only fully God but fully human. Scripture takes on the sometimes flawed humanity but still reveals a loving God perfectly.

John Vervaeke on the Biblical God of an Open Future

From: Ep. 3 – Awakening from the Meaning Crisis – Continuous Cosmos and Modern World Grammar

ancient Israel’s significant psychotechnology is understanding time as a cosmic narrative of a story – the invention of using a story through time as a way of explaining the cycles of the cosmos – the infinite cycle is onerous, it is boring, you want to get free from the cycle! doing the cycle forever, is terrifying, you want nirvana, release from the cycle, because there is no purpose to the cycle! – the great disembedding combined with the invention of a time driven story (beginning, change, end) has the future open, your actions can change the future – you can now participate with god, in the ongoing creation of the future – stories operate on meaning and morality – the moral content of your action decides how things are going to go – this is why the god of ancient Israel is such a different god – before axial, gods were gods of places or functions, there is no significant moral arc – the god of the old testament, is a moral arc not bound to time and place – exodus, the Israelites are embedded within the everyday world, god comes and liberates them to the real world, a journey to a future to the promised land, a god that moves between time and space, a god to future, that is why god has no name at the start – when Moses asks god his name, finally, god responds with, which has been poorly translated since, “I am the god of the open future, and you can participate with me, in the story of the ongoing creation of the future, to resolution or off course” – we still take courses in universities – we go to the cinema, to see stories, of how the future could be made

Cocker on Contradictions of Zeus

It is also true that the Homeric Zeus is full of contradictions. He is “all-seeing,” yet he is cheated; he is “omnipotent,” yet he is defied; he is “eternal,” yet he has a father; he is “just,” yet he is guilty of crime.

And yet there are passages, even in Homer, which clearly distinguish Zeus from all the other divinities, and mark him out as the Supreme. He is “the highest, first of Gods” (bk. xix. 284); “most great, most glorious Jove” (bk. ii. 474). He is “the universal Lord” (bk. xi. 229); “of mortals and immortals king supreme,” (bk. xii. 263); “over all the immortal gods he reigns in unapproached pre-eminence of power” (bk. xv. 125). He is “the King of kings” (bk. viii. 35), whose “will is sovereign” (bk. iv. 65), and his “power invincible” (bk. viii. 35). He is the “eternal Father” (bk. viii. 77). He “excels in wisdom gods and men; all human things from him proceed” (bk. xiii. 708-10); “the Lord of counsel” (bk. i. 208), “the all-seeing Jove” (bk. xiii. 824). Indeed the mere expression “Father of gods and men” (bk. i. 639), so often applied to Zeus, and him alone, is proof sufficient that, in spite of all the legendary stories of gods and heroes, the idea of Zeus as the Supreme God, the maker of the world, the Father of gods and men, the monarch and ruler of the world, was not obliterated from the Greek mind. 167

Cocker, B.F.. Christianity and Greek Philosophy (p. 122). Oia Press. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Let Your Mercy Rain

God, You have done great things
God, You give grace to the weak
And bless the brokenhearted
With a song of praise to sing
You reached down and lifted us up
You came running, looking for us
And now there’s nothing
And no one beyond Your love
You’re the overflow
You’re the fountain of my heart
So let Your mercy rain
Let Your mercy rain on us
God, You have done great things
God, You give grace to the weak
And bless the broken hearted
With a song of praise to sing
You reached down and lifted us up
You came running, looking for us
And now there’s nothing
And no one beyond Your love, Your love
You’re the overflow
You’re the fountain of my heart
So let Your mercy rain
Let Your mercy rain on us
You’re the faithful one
When the world’s falling apart
So let Your mercy rain
Let…

Dolezal on Bruce Ware being an Open Theist

Second, when Ware says that God “actually enters into relationship with his people,” he means that God is somehow moving along with them in a correlative sense in which He has voluntarily opened Himself up to being affected (i.e., acted upon) and thus changed by the creature. Even if God happens to be the one willing and controlling all of these relational changes, it is still an ontological openness in God to some further determination of (accidental) being for which Ware is arguing, though he may not be fully self-conscious of having embraced ontological mutability. Insisting that these changes in God do not affect God’s nature seems irrelevant. No change that has ever touched a creature has produced a real change in its nature either—in its matter or in its being as a particular creaturely suppositum, yes; but in its nature as such, no.38 Again, the driving conviction seems to be that anything less than correlative relationality would not count as meaningful interaction between God and His moral creatures. This is the heart of theistic mutualism, and it motivates a key part of Ware’s appeal to his open theist counterparts.

It is crucial to understand that Ware’s dispute here is an in-house disagreement with his fellow theistic mutualists. He shares common ground with process and open theists on the question of being and becoming in God. Like them, he endorses the idea of a God who is subject to alterations of being—thus, for Ware, God is becoming in some respect. But in conceding that God is moved by His creatures, Ware does not accept the open theist claim that intelligent creatures are sometimes the independent, autonomous, and original source of change in God. Freewill theism, which Ware rejects, offers a different explanation regarding the source of ontological change in God. This is where the quarrel lies for Ware. He is concerned with the author ultimately responsible for the changes in God, not whether or not God undergoes change.
Dolezal, James E.. All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism . Reformation Heritage Books. Kindle Edition.

Pettazzoni on Wisdom Literature Omniscience

We find that in the Wisdom literature the chief object of the divine omniscience is man, the human race in general and its deeds and thoughts, its actions and meditations. On the other hand, divine omniscience appears in the Wisdom literature as more complete than in the Psalms. In the latter, indeed, it does not reach the world of the dead, but stops, so to speak, at the threshold of the lower regions. Yahweh, more or less of choice, knows nothing of the dead:

Raffaele Pettazzoni, The All Knowing God, p 102

Pettazzoni on relative Omniscience

The omniscience of Yahweh, if we consider it, not theologically, as an abstract attribute of Deity, i.e., as absolute omniscience, but historically in its concrete, though imperfect formulation as relative omniscience, is so organically connected with the particular and well-defined ideological complex which makes up the figure of Yahweh himself that it is difficult to suppose it has a different origin. In the conscience and the history of Israel,Yahweh is the wakeful, avenging, ”jealous” God, the wrathful God who judges and punishes. Now a God who punishes is a God who knows. Yahweh’s omniscience has for its principal object the doings of mankind, and his punitive sanction is often exercised by means of weather-phenomena. Universal vision and knowledge and punitive sanction are complementary aspects of the figure of Yahweh, and another complementary aspect is his abode in the sky ( cf. the Tower of Babel, Gen. xi. 1 /qq., Jacob’s ladder, Gen. xxviii. I2 sqq., also I Kings xxii. xg, etc.). It is from the sky that he sees what men are doing, and from the sky that he sends his chastisement.

Raffaele Pettazzoni, The All Knowing God, p 108

Worship Sunday – Yahweh

Spirit of Jesus
Living within us
Never to fail or forsake
Unending promise
Heaven inside us
Whispers the sound of Your name

Holy, Holy is the Lord
Worthy to be praised
Yahweh
Fire rising in my soul
All consuming flame
Yahweh

Filled with Your wonder
Here I surrender
Held in Your mystery of grace
Calling me closer
Waking desire
Coming alive in Your name

Holy, Holy is the Lord
Worthy to be praised
Yahweh
Fire rising in my soul
All consuming flame
Yahweh

He who was and is to come
Is the One who lives in us
The great I am
Yahweh

Holy, Holy is the Lord
Worthy to be praised
Yahweh
Fire rising in my soul
All consuming flame
Yahweh

Fretheim on the Meaning of Genesis 6

God’s regretful response assumes that humans have successfully resisted God’s will for the creation. For God to continue to interact with this creation in the wake of such defiance involves God’s decision to continue to live with such resisting creatures (not the response of your typical CEO). In addition, God’s regret assumes that God did not know for sure that this would happen (as elsewhere, see Gen 22:12; Deut 8:2).32 Moreover, the text provides no support for a position that claims God planned for the creation to take this course. What has happened to the creation is due to human activity, not divine. At the same time, God bears some responsibility for setting up the creation in such a way that it could go wrong and have such devastating effects.

While this story does recharacterize the divine relationship to the world, it also makes clear that God is not simply resigned to evil. God must find a new way of dealing with the problem of evil. Two complementary directions are taken:

(a) For God to promise not to do something again entails an eternal self-limitation regarding the exercise of divine freedom and power. God thereby limits the divine options in dealing with evil in the life of the world. And, given the fact that God will keep promises, divine selflimitation yields real limitation. The route of world annihilation has been set aside as a divine possibility. Divine judgment there will be, but it will be limited in scope. And hence no simple retributive system is put into place; sin and evil will be allowed to have their day, and God will work from within such a world to redeem it, not overpower the world from without. This divine direction with the world is developed further in 9:8-17.

(b) Genesis 6:5-7 makes the bold claim that this kind of divine response means that God will take the route of suffering.33 For God to decide to endure a wicked world, while continuing to open up the divine heart to that world, means that God’s grief is ongoing. God thus determines to take suffering into God’s own self and bear it there for the sake of the future of the world. It is precisely this kind of God with whom ancient readers are involved, and it is primarily the divine commitment to promises made that they need most to hear.

Fretheim, Terence E.. God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation . Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Fretheim on Genesis 6

The focus of the present text is signaled by the repeated conviction about human sinfulness that brackets the account (6:5; 8:21) and the associated disclosures regarding divine sorrow, regret, disappointment, mercy, and promise. God appears not as an angry judge but as a grieving and pained parent, distressed at developments (6:6-7); yet, the judgment as initially announced is thorough and uncompromising (“I will blot out” in 6:7 allows for no exceptions). This inner-divine tension is resolved on the side of mercy when God freely chooses Noah (6:8). Noah, whose faithful walk with God is exemplified by his obedience (6:9, 22; 7:5, 9, 16; 8:18), including his stewarding of the animals (see 1:28), becomes a vehicle for God’s new possibilities for the creation (anticipated in the announcement of 5:29).

Fretheim, Terence E.. God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation . Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Fretheim on Evil and Creation

59 I believe that the consistent witness of the Old Testament is that sin and evil do not have their origins in God nor are they written by God into the structures of the universe. Sin and evil have their origins in the human will, not in God or in God’s plan. At the same time, when sin and evil do enter into the life of the world, they do not become constitutive of what it means to be human (or any other creature). That means that we are not so permeated with sin and evil that we cannot name such forces or work against them. At the same time, it needs to be said that evil is a powerful reality in the world and has become systemic, built up over time into the very infrastructure of creation. A reclamation of creation will be necessary.60

Fretheim, Terence E.. God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation . Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – My Glorious

The worlds shaking, with the love of God
Great and Glorious, let the whole earth sing
Let it sing
The worlds shaking, with the love of God
Great and Glorious, let the whole earth sing
And all You ever do, is change the old for new
And people, we believe that…
God is bigger than the air I breathe
And the world we’ll leave
God will save the day, and all will say
My Glorious, my Glorious
Clouds are breaking, heavens come to earth
Hearts awakening, let the church bells ring
And all You ever do, is change the old for new
And people, we believe that…
God is bigger than the air I breathe
And the world we’ll leave
God will save the day, and all will say:
My Glorious, my Glorious
My Glorious, my Glorious
My Glorious, my Glorious…

We are living in a 3rd century world

From Theologian says God not in control:

“We’re still living in the 21st century with a vision of God in relationship to the world that was hammered out in the Patristic period, that was reaffirmed in the Protestant Reformation, that characterized the life of the church in the 18th, 19th and most of the 20th century,” E. Frank Tupper, distinguished professor of divinity emeritus at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, said in a Dec. 24 podcast at Homebrewed Christianity.

Worship Sunday – God of Our Mothers and Fathers

God of our mothers and fathers
Come now and move among us
What You did before come and do once more
We want to be a part of Your story
God of our mothers and fathers
Show Your glory to Your sons and daughters
What You were back then come and be again
We want to see Your power in our presence
In our time, in our day
Come and move in this place
Come and move, God, move, God, move, God
In this place
God of our mothers and fathers
Send Your Spirit just like You promised
You can have Your way, visit us today
We want to see Your power in our presence
In our time, in our day
Come and move in this place
In our time, and in our day
Come and move in this place
Come and move, God, move, God, move, God
In this place
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
Come take the vineyard You planted and make us new wine, mm
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
Come take the vineyard You planted and make us new wine, oh Lord
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
God of our mothers and fathers, come be our God
Come take the vineyard You planted and make us new wine, oh Lord
And to make us new wine, mm
Make us new wine (And make us new wine)
Make us new, make us new wine, Lord (And make us new wine)
In our time, in our day
Come and move in this place
In our time, and in our day
Come and move in this place
Come and move
Come and move, Jesus
Come and move, God
Yes, come and move, God

Brueggemann on Genesis 6

From Genesis: Interpretation:

c. If the beginning of the flood narrative claimed only that, the text would be
flat and one-dimensional. But there are two other matters here that enrich and
greatly complicate the beginnings. First, with amazing boldness the narrative
invites the listening community to penetrate into the heart of God (vv. 67).
What we find there is not an angry tyrant, but a troubled parent who grieves
over the alienation. He is growingly aware that the “imagination of the
thoughts” of the human heart are unrelievedly hostile (v. 5). The conjuring,
day dreams, and selfperceptions of the world are all tilted against God’s
purpose. God is aware that something is deeply amiss in creation, so that God’s
own dream has no prospect of fulfillment. With that perverted imagination,
God’s world has begun to conjure its own future quite apart from the future
willed by God (cf. 11:6).

As a result, verse 6 shows us the deep pathos of God. God is not angered but
grieved. He is not enraged but saddened. God does not stand over against but
with his creation. Tellingly, the pain he bequeathed to the woman in 3:16 is
now felt by God. Ironically, the word for “grieve” (‘asav) is not only the same as
the sentence on the woman (“pain” 3:16), but it is also used for the state of
toil from which Noah will deliver humanity (5:29). The evil heart of humankind
(v. 5) troubles the heart of God (v. 6). This is indeed ”heart to heart” between
humankind and God. How it is between humankind and God touches both
parties. As Ernst Würthwein suggests, it is God who must say, “I am undone”
(cf. Isa. 6:5; Wort und Existenz, 1970, pp. 313).

Baynes on the Book of Remembrance in Malachi 3

From The Heavenly Book Motif in Judeo-Christian Apocalypses by Leslie Baynes:

Malachi’s attribution of a book of remembrance to the Lord suggests an important theological question that may be directed to heavenly bookkeeping in general: what sort of god is it who requires written reminders?Nowhere does ancient Jewish literature even hint at asking such a question; evidently it is not something that attracts anyone’s attention. The background of the idea that God uses a reminder book, however, is not too hard to guess: most probably it is an anthropomorphism, an extension to God of a characteristic of rulers, or at least their officials, who use books and writing to keep administrative records (i.e., Ezra 6:1–5; Esther 2:23, 9:25,32). But while the Jews appear never to have looked askance at a God who uses written records, some Greeks did.

David Clines on Omniscience of Zophar

7 Can you uncover the mystery of God? Can you attain to the perfection of Shaddai’s knowledge? It is higher than heaven— what can you do? It is deeper than Sheol— what can you know? Longer than the earth is its measure, a and broader, than the sea.

7– 9 Job is of course not in the least interested in discovering the totality of God’s knowledge; and it comes as no surprise to him to learn that it is beyond human comprehension. “High as heaven is that wisdom, and thy reach so small; deep as hell itself, and thy thought so shallow” (Knox). The only relevance of this statement of God’s unfathomable wisdom is that God’s knowledge must be presumed to contain specific knowledge of Job’s guilt. Zophar does not himself lay claim to any superior acquaintance with God’s wisdom than Job has; he only argues that, since God’s knowledge is immense, there is room in it for knowledge of sins which Job himself does not remember or acknowledge. It would be going too far to insist that Zophar preaches a doctrine of God’s “omniscience.” God’s is a knowledge beyond human knowledge, one that cannot be probed to its fullest extent (cf. 5: 9, where God does “marvelous deeds, that cannot be fathomed”; there it was said that there was no possibility of fathoming it [], whereas here means the object of fathoming). Humans can “do” nothing to acquire full knowledge of God’s wisdom; they cannot “know” God’s wisdom in its entirety (though they can of course know it in part). But that does not mean that God’s knowledge is viewed primarily as an accumulation of data (though obviously it must include that); in the book generally “knowledge” is so often linked with “power” that we must suppose

Clines, David J. A.. Job 1-20, Volume 17 (Word Biblical Commentary) (p. 263). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Jesus Freak

What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus Freak?
What will people do
When they find that’s it’s true?
Separated, I cut myself clean
From a past that comes back in my darkest of dreams
Been apprehended by a spiritual force
And a grace that replaced all the me I’ve divorced
I saw a man with tat on his big fat belly
It wiggled around like marmalade jelly
It took me a while to catch what it said
‘Cause I had to match the rhythm
Of his belly with my head
“Jesus Saves” is what it raved in a typical tattoo green
He stood on a box in the middle of the city
And claimed he had a dream
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
Kamikaze, my death is gain
I’ve been marked by my maker
A peculiar display
The high and lofty, they see me as weak
‘Cause I won’t live and die for the power they seek
There was a man from the desert with naps in his head
The sand that he walked was also his bed
The words that he spoke made the people assume
There wasn’t too much left in the upper room
With skins on his back and hair on his face
They thought he was strange by the locusts he ate
The Pharisees tripped when they heard him speak
Until the king took the head of this Jesus freak
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find out that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
No I ain’t into hiding
People say I’m strange, does it make me a stranger
That my best friend was born in a manger
People say I’m strange, does it make me a stranger
That my best friend was born in a manger
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
What will people think
What will people think
What will people do
What will people do
I don’t really care
What else can I say
There ain’t no disguising the truth
Jesus is the way

Luke 12:48 Commentary

Luk 12:48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

Luke 12:48 shows Jesus establishing a theme seen elsewhere in the Bible: one of proportional judgement. Cosmic justice is one in which all actors are judged by their circumstance. The same “crime” can result in different punishments based on the disposition of the person committing the “crime”. To Jesus, ignorance of the law is an excuse.

This picture of God shows a reason-based judgement of all creatures. God considers mitigating factors in judgement. This fact highlights free will, the ability to self determine. Because without free will, no one would have ability to do otherwise and would no longer be guilty of their sin. People are guilty because they do have capability. Those who have less capability than others are judged less harshly.

Janowski on metaphor

From Arguing with God: A Theological Anthropology of the Psalms by Bernd Janowski:

While we are used to separating strictly the concrete and the abstract, or to working with concrete objects like tree, throne, or mountain or with abstract concepts like life, kingdom, or place of the Deity, ancient Near Eastern cultures prefer to use “concepts that by themselves are concrete yet often indicate something extending far beyond their concrete meaning.”112 Ancient Near Eastern cultures did not distinguish between the concrete and the abstract, but upheld the interrelation between them by representing the “unity of reality” with the help of symbols.

Aristotle quoting Plato’s unwritten teachings

From Physics:

This is why Plato in the Timaeus says that matter and space are the same; for the ‘participant’ and space are identical. (It is true, indeed, that the account he gives there of the ‘participant’ is different from what he says in his so-called ‘unwritten teaching’. Nevertheless, he did identify place and space.) I mention Plato because, while all hold place to be something, he alone tried to say what it is.

Hayes on Evil in the Bible

From Introduction to the Bible (The Open Yale Courses Series) by Christine Hayes:

Kaufmann argued that in the Hebrew Bible, evil has no independent existence. Yet evil and suffering are experienced as a condition of human existence, a reality of life. How can this state of affairs be explained? The Garden of Eden story seeks to answer that question, asserting ultimately that evil stems not from the activity of an independent demonic force but from the exercise of human free will in defiance of the creator. The created world is a good world; humans, however, in the exercise of their moral autonomy, have the power to corrupt the good. According to Kaufmann, the Garden of Eden story communicates this basic idea of the monotheistic worldview: Evil is not a metaphysical reality; it is a moral reality. Ultimately, this means that evil lacks inevitability. It lies within the realm of human responsibility and control.

Worship Sunday – Alien Youth

(It’s been confirmed that the aliens have landed)

Worldwide Jesus domination
Love conquers all
Rise like a chosen generation
There’s no stopping it all
Come on freaks let’s go
Come on freaks let’s go
Get all the freaks and let’s go
Yeah yeah

We’re taking over the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re coming for your souls
We’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna
Shake the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re taking over, over, over
Alien Youth

Come on freaks let’s go
Come on freaks let’s go

Do you believe that the aliens have landed
We’re everywhere you go
Infiltrate at the break of revolution
You can’t stop the revival
And we’re not gonna leave this world alone
And we’re not gonna leave it yeah

We’re taking over the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re coming for your souls
We’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna
Shake the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re taking over, over, over
Alien Youth

Come on freaks let’s go
Get all the freaks and let’s go
Come on freaks let’s go
Get all the freaks and let’s go

And we’re not gonna leave this world alone
And we’re not gonna leave it yeah
And we’re not gonna leave this world alone
And we’re not gonna leave

We’re taking over the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re coming for your souls
We’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna
Shake the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re taking over, over, over

We’re taking over the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re coming for your souls
We’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna
Shake the world
We’re the Alien Youth
We’re taking over, over, over
Alien Youth

Isaiah 48:18-19 Commentary

Isa 48:18  Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; 
Isa 48:19  your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.” 

In Isaiah 48, God laments that Israel has not responded to Him. In verse 12, God calls on Israel to listen. In verse 14, God reminds Israel of the things He has done and said. In verse 17, God is said to “teach to profit”. God’s purpose in teaching is to make Israel better. Then verses 18 and 19 contain a lament. Although God has done and said all these things to benefit Israel, Israel has rejected Him.

The emotional pain drips from every word. The regrets, the lament, the failed possibilities are all at the forefront of God’s mind. God has been hurt by Israel due to their unbelief.

The Hexagon of Opposition

From John Sanders:

First, we should note that while a determinate future can be expressed on the Square by the single propositions “S will obtain” and “S will not obtain,” there is no single proposition expressing future indeterminacy. To express this third possibility, we must conjoin the two subcontraries “might” and “might not.” In other words, determinacy (“will” and “will not”) is given primitive status on the Square, while indeterminacy must be inferred. This asymmetry between determinacy and indeterminacy perhaps explains why “might” and “might not” have tended to be understood exclusively in terms of their individual subaltern relations to “will” and “will not.” That is, while “will” and “will not” have been allowed to express states of affairs, “might” and “might not” have tended to be limited to expressing merely the epistemological preconditions of those two determinate states. If it is true that “S will obtain,” it must also be true that “S might obtain,” viz. it must be possible for S to obtain. So too, for it to be true that “S will not obtain,” it must also be true that “S might not obtain,” viz. it must be possible for S not to obtain. But what has not been adequately appreciated in the western tradition is that the subcontraries “might” and “might not” may be conjointly true and the contraries “will” and “will not” conjointly false. In this case, “might” and “might not” are no longer related as subalterns to “will” and “will not.” Rather, when they are conjointly true, they have the same relation to “will” and “will not” that “will” and “will not” have to each other. In other words, they express a third distinct possibility –future indeterminacy – that stands in a contrary relationship to both the positive future determinacy expressed by “will” and the negative future determinacy expressed by “will not.” For any possible future state of affairs, one of the three – “will,” “will not” and “might and might not” – must be true and the other two false. But, because “might” and “might not” must be conjoined to play this third, indeterminate, contrary role, the possibility of their playing this role has been largely overlooked. Consequently, the possibility that the future is in some respects indeterminate and known by God as such has been largely overlooked.

Worship Sunday – Prayer for the Weary

And I just don’t know,
what to do,
anymore.
And I lost my way,
In this world,
Awhile ago.
Pushed away, everyone, that was good to me.
Now I’m finally down, down on my knees
Help me hold, hold on
Help me hold, hold on
Hear this prayer for the weary and the broken down.
Help me hold, hold on
Sing hallelujah,
Come and find me Lord,
Cause I can use ya,
And a miracle or two.
And I dont know if you can hear this prayer or, a word I say,
This desperation, in promises.
But they say they’re all about second chances.
If I can only, get myself, up to you.
Well I’m doing the best I can,
You do just what you please.
Cause I’m finally down, down on my knees.
Help me hold, hold on
Help me hold, hold on
Hear this prayer for the weary and the broken down.
Help me hold, hold on
Help me hold, hold on

Worship Sunday – It is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well (it is well)
with my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Psalms 139:23-24 Commentary

Psa 139:23  Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 
Psa 139:24  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! 

Psalms 139 is often used as a prooftext passage for God’s omniscience of all future events. King David is writing and describes God’s relationship with him. The passage ends in an interesting passage in which King David invites God to test him further. King David invites God to “search” him and then to “know his heart”. This is re-enforced by the next phrase “try me” in order to “know my thoughts”. Verse 24 ties this to “seeing” if there is any grievous thing in King David.

The interesting thing about this text is that it is a callback to the introduction to the Psalm. King David has stated God has searched an known him (v1). In King David’s eyes, God knows because God tests. God’s current knowledge is about what God has previously tested. God’s familiarity comes from interaction. This is not eternal knowledge of all things, but gained knowledge.

King David’s view is not that God knows the entire future meticulously, but that God can gain new information from further testing.

On Origen’s use of Predestination

A footnote in Origen’s Commentary on Romans:

Erasmus’s [Desiderius Erasmus’] clarification of this passage (CWE 56:11) is most helpful:
“Origen seems to have thought that ‘predestine’ has a double aspect of futurity and ‘destine’ merely a single. For if I ‘destine’ a bride for a son of mine already born, the person for whom I destine belongs to the present time, what I am destining belongs to the future. But if I resolve to dedicate to the study of theology the son who will be born first, then both the person and the thing belong to future time; and Origen would have the world ‘predestine’ refer to cases ofthe latter type.”

Origen’s Commentary on Romans 1:1

From Origen – Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans:

(4) After all, later in the letter he himself explains this more fully when he says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”46 Plainly showing that those whom God foreknew would become the kind to conform themselves to Christ by their sufferings, he even predestined them to be conformed and similar to his image and glory. Therefore there precedes a foreknowledge of them, through which is known what effort and virtue they will understand at once that they are set apart from the womb deservedly.
(3) It says then that Paul was set apart for the gospel and set apart from his own mother’s womb. The reasons for this and the merits which entitled him to be set apart for this purpose were seen by the One from whom man’s mind does not escape. For God foresaw that Paul was going to labor harder than all the others in the gospel; that, despite hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, dangers from thieves, dangers from rivers, dangers at sea, he was going to preach the gospel of Christ, knowing that it would have been woe to him if he did not preach the gospel; and that he was going to punish his body and reduce it to slavery, so that, after proclaiming to others, he himself should not be rejected. Therefore, seeing in advance these things and many other similar things in him,God set Paul apart for the gospel from his mother’s womb on account of these matters. For if, as the heretics think, he had been chosen either by uncertain fate or by the privilege of possessing a superior nature, surely he would never have expressed the fear that, if he were not to hold the restraints on his own body, it could potentially come to pass that he would be rejected or that woe would be his if he were to cease from proclaiming the gospel.
(4) After all, later in the letter he himself explains this more fully when he says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Plainly showing that those whom God foreknew would become the kind to conform themselves to Christ by their sufferings, he even predestined them to be conformed and similar to his image and glory. Therefore there precedes a foreknowledge of them, through which is known what effort and virtue they will possess in themselves, and thus predestination follows, yet foreknowledge should not be considered the cause of predestination. For while men requite merit to each individual based upon past accomplishments, for God this is determined from future ones; and a person is very impious not to concede to God that what we see in the past he can see in the future.

Partial Draft Chapter for the Hellenization of Christianity

Chapter 1: The Origins of Hebrew Religion

Gen_14:13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram.

Abraham is identified as a Hebrew very early in the book of Genesis. This is a designation that is neither introduced nor described. He is a member of a known people group, the Hebrews. This people group is recognized as far as Egypt:

Gen_39:14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice.
The Egyptians despise the Hebrews, who they perhaps see as a feral people. The book of Genesis records that Hebrews are excluded from sharing meals:
Gen 43:32 They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.

It is unclear if this practice is being presented as a general feature in Egyptian culture or relegated to the upper echelons of Egyptian society. This feature could be attributed to the Egyptian disdain for shepherds: “Gen 46:33…for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians”, but Pharaoh doesn’t seem to associate the Hebrews as shepherds in the very passage in which this disdain is described. This feature could also be attributed to the dietary practices of the Egyptians. Herodotus records that in the 5th century BC that Egyptians would not share meals with those who ate cattle.

Another option is that the Hebrews might have had a specific history with deep cultural connotations. In The Mythology of All Races: Semitic, Vol V, historian Stephan Hebert Langdon describes what he sees as the origins of the Hebrew race as well as the historic identification of their God.

The Hebrew deity El, whose character as a Sun-god has been repeatedly mentioned, and whose name occurs also quite regularly in the plural Elohim, but employed as a singular, is the god of the Habiru, a people who appear in various kingdoms and local city dynasties of Babylonia and Assyria from the twenty-second century until the Cassite period, among the Hittites, and as an invading warlike tribe in Syria, Phoenicia, and Canaan in the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries. I am entering upon debatable ground here when I assume that the Habiru and their god Ilani (plural always written ideographically) are identical with the Hebrews and their god Elohim. There seems to be no doubt at all but that this is the case; every argument against it has been specious and without conviction. Accepting this thesis, the Hebrews had served for six centuries as mercenary soldiers and traders among the Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, Mitannians, and Aramaeans before they entered and occupied Canaan and, granted that their persistent use of ilani Habiri, ” the Habiru gods,” is, in reality, a singular like the Hebrew Elohim, it follows that it is identical with the Hebrew god El, Elah, Elohim. Phoenician also uses the word “gods” as a singular.

Langdon paints the Hebrews as a warrior race, used as mercenaries and who shared ideas about God with the surrounding cultures. He locates them as ancient as the 20th century BC. In this passage, Langdon pays particular attention to how in Semitic religion plural nouns were commonly used of gods and kings:

This is a common usage among Canaanitish scribes of the period of the Habiru invasions into Syria and Palestine. So, for example, Shuwardata of Kelte calls Pharaoh, ” my god and my sun,” in the text actually ” my gods and my Shamash.” A man of Qadesh in Northern Syria writes to Pharaoh attributing his defeat of the invading Habiru to the fact that ” his godhead ” and ” sunship ” went before his face. Here the plural ilanu is used as an abstract noun, as is also the word ” god Shamash.” In Hittite the Habirite god is called Hani Habiriyas, Habiries, ” Habirite gods. That the Habirites, or, as I assume, the Hebrews, in the days of their wanderings in Babylonia, from the days of Abraham ” the Hebrew ” and Hammurabi (Amraphel), had a deity known to the peoples with whom they came into contact as “the Hebrew god,” is proved by a list of nine gods and goddesses worshipped in the temple of Adad at the old capital of Assyria, in a text at least as old as the twelfth century. Here the singular, ilu Habiru occurs, which I take to mean not ” god Habiru,” but ” Habirite god,” or, if ilu is here, as in Hani Habiri, a specific name of a deity, i.e., El, the ” Habirite El.” The genitive and accusative of this gentilic word is Habiri and the nominative plural should be Hani Habiru or the ” Hebrew Elohim ” in the texts of the Hittite capital, Boghazkeui.

The Hebrews worshiped El, associated with both the plural “Elohim” and, within the Bible, the proper name “Yahweh”. In Josiah 22:22, this association is explicit. Mark Smith translates this passage as follows: “God [El] of gods [Elohim] is Yahweh. God [El] of gods [Elohim] is Yahweh…” El and Yahweh are used interchangeably in this fashion within the Bible, often within the same passage.

According to the Bible, the proper name of God had not always been known to the world. Genesis 4 records a distinct time the name of Yahweh came of use:

Gen 4:26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD [Yahweh].

Although “people began to call on the name of Yahweh”, some early Hebrews may not have adopted this use. The book of Exodus recounts that the patriarchs knew Yahweh as “El Shadday” (the “Shadday” is an enigmatic term much like the curious Greek conception of Zeus who holds the “aegis” ). The patriarchs did not know Yahweh by His proper name:

Exo 6:2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD [Yahweh].
Exo 6:3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty [El Shadday], but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.

These features might suggest that although Israel (a specific subset of Hebrews) might not have used the name Yahweh, other Semitic tribes might have adopted the use. In Lewis Bayles Paton’s The Origin of Yahweh-Worship in Israel: II, the author describes some evidence that Yahweh was worshiped outside of Israel:

2. There is considerable evidence that Yahweh was known to other ancient peoples besides Israel. Delitzsch and other Assyriologists believe that the name occurs in documents of the first dynasty of Babylon (ca. 2300-2200 B. C.). This claim is disputed, so that it is better not to press the argument. Other evidence is clearer. A son of the king of Hamath in the time of David bore the name Yoram (Joram). This is certainly a compound with Yahweh. Three hundred years later a king of Hamath mentioned in the annals of Sargon, King of Assyria, bore the name of Ya-ubi’di, which is paraphrased elsewhere as Ilu-ubi’di. This also is unquestionably a Yahweh compound. In 739 B. C. Tiglath-Pileser III fought against a certain Azriyau (Azariah), king of Ya’udi, whose capitol was Kullani in northern Syria. This name is a Yahweh-compound of a familiar Hebrew type. Tobiah and Jehohanan, the Ammonites, mentioned in Neh. 4:3; 6:18, bear Yahweh-names. In all these cases it is arbitrary to assume that these theophorous names are due to a spread of the Hebrew religion in foreign countries. Of proselyting before the exile there is not the slightest evidence. It is more likely that Yahweh was known to other Semitic peoples besides Israel.

John Day adds in his Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan:

Most scholars who have written on the subject during recent decades support the idea that Yahweh had his origins outside the land of Israel to the south, in the area of Midian (cf. Judg. 5.4-5; Deut. 33.2; Hab. 3.3, 7)… Also, the epithet ‘Yahweh of Teman’ in one of the Kuntillet ‘Ajrud inscriptions fits in with this. References to the Shasu Yahweh in Egyptian texts alongside the Shasu Seir may also be cited in support. Though M.C. Astour has questioned this, claiming that the reference was not to Seir in Edom but to Sarara in Syria, on balance, however, the Egyptian Scrr still seems more likely to be a slip for S ‘r (Seir) than the name Sarara.

It is rational to assume that Yahweh was worshiped outside of Israel. This would make sense of the tension between Genesis 4 and Exodus 6, although the evidence is not solid. While references to Yahweh are found almost entirely in the Hebrew Bible, the name of El was common among the Semites. Most notable was the chief god of the Canaanites in the Baal Cycle. In the Baal cycle, El sits supreme. The other gods approach El to request permission to act. El is the creator of all.

The words “under El” which were put in brackets in my initial definition of the thrust of the cycle are here vitally important. But how can El be greater than the Baal who after his palace has been built calls himself “he that is king over the gods, that indeed fattens gods and men, that satisfies the multitudes of earth” (4 VII 49-52) or the Baal whom both Anat and Athirat in trying to persuade El to let him have a palace speak of as “our king, our ruler, over whom there is none” (3 V 32 = CT A 3 E 40-41; 4 IV 43-44)? And yet El has to be approached for permission to build the palace, and the fact is that for all that Anat threatens him with physical violence if he does not accede to Baal’s request, El is able to refuse it and the help of his consort Athirat has to be enlisted before he can be made to change his mind. In spite of Baal’s title as king it is not really in doubt, then, that El is in charge of the universe. He, not Baal, is the creator god of the pantheon, the “creator of creatures” (4 III 32; 6 III 5), the “father of mankind” (not in the Baal texts but see, in the Keret epic, 14 I 37), and the “father of years”, i.e. controller of the course of time (4 IV 24; 6 I 36). The title “bull” is always used with the first of these phrases and the title “king” with the third of them. Perhaps the most revealing reference is that contained in the speeches of Anat and Athirat just mentioned when, immediately after they have called Baal their king, they present Baal’s appeal to “the king who installed him” (3 V 36 = CT A 3 E 44; 4 IV 48) 13

The text both describes Baal’s supremacy and also shows that El is supreme over Baal, illustrating common idiomatic speech. Attributes, even incomparability, have their limits. Even in the Bible, Yahweh’s incomparability is found in passages specifically comparing Him to others. This flexibility in characteristics is evident in the text.

Mark Smith describes some other attributes shared between the Canaanite El and the Biblical Yahweh:

In Israel the characteristics and epithets of El became part of the repertoire of descriptions of Yahweh. In both texts and iconography, El is an elderly bearded figure enthroned, sometimes before individual deities (KTU 1.3 V; 1.4 IV-V), sometimes before the divine council (KTU 1.2 I), known by a variety of expressions; this feature is attested also in Phoenician inscriptions (KAI 4:4-5; 14:9, 22; 26 A III 19; 27:12; cf. KTU 1.4 III 14). In KTU 1.10 III 6 El is called drd, “ageless one,” and in KTU 1.3 V and 1.4 V, Anat and Asherah both affirm the eternity of his wisdom. His eternity is also expressed in his epithet, ‘ab šnm, “father of years.” In KTU 1.4 V 3-4 Asherah addresses El: “You are great, O El, and indeed, wise; your hoary beard instructs you” (rbt ‘ilm lḥkmt šbt dqnk ltsrk). Anat’s threats in 1.3 V 24-25 and 1.18 I 11-12 likewise mention El’s gray beard. Similarly, Yahweh is described as the aged patriarchal god (Ps. 102:28; Job 36:26; Isa. 40:28; cf. Ps. 90:10; Isa. 57:15; Hab. 3:6; Dan. 6:26; 2 Esdras 8:20; Tobit 13:6, 10; Ben Sira 18:30), enthroned amidst the assembly of divine beings (1 Kings 22:19; Isa. 6:1-8; cf. Pss. 29:1-2; 82:1; 89:5-8; Isa. 14:13; Jer. 23:18, 22; Zechariah 3; Dan. 3:25). Later biblical texts continued the long tradition of aged Yahweh enthroned before the heavenly hosts. Daniel 7:9-14, 22, describes a bearded Yahweh as the “ancient of days,” and “the Most High.” He is enthroned amid the assembly of heavenly hosts, called in verse 18 “the holy ones of the Most High,” qaddîšê ’elyônîn (cf. 2 Esdras 2:42-48; Revelation 7). This description for the angelic hosts derives from the older usage of Hebrew qĕdōšîm, “holy ones,” for the divine council (Ps. 89:6; Hos. 12:1; Zech. 14:5; cf. KAI 4:5, 7; 14:9, 22; 27:12). The tradition of the enthroned bearded god appears also in a Persian period coin marked yhd, “Yehud.” The iconography belongs to a god, apparently Yahweh.

The overlap between Semitic religions is apparent and not surprising. Israelite religion is not a unique enlightened religion among primitive religions. Instead, these religions share cultures and pantheons. The question of Israelite worship is not “what type of god” they will worship, but which particular god they will worship. The attributes of Yahweh are meant to set Him apart as uniquely worthy of worship rather than to paint Him as an entirely different type of being altogether.

Yahweh is not particularly exclusive to Israel, either. Other nations worship El, and the identification with El with Yahweh puts worshipers of El as accepted believers. Even within the Bible, foreign priests of El appear as true believers. The most famous example is that of Melchizedek. He was a: “He was priest of God Most High.” This title elyon El is used of the Canaanite El. The book of Hebrews portrays this priesthood in an approving manner.

Another foreign priest is Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, who is described as a “priest of Midian” in several passages. His daughter, Zipporah, appears intimately familiar with circumcision rites in Exodus 4:25. She appears to know who Yahweh is and what Yahweh wants, which is likely as result of growing up in a priestly house. Furthermore Jethro performs a benediction in Exodus 18 towards Yahweh:

Exo 18:10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.
Exo 18:11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.”

Given this evidence, Jethro could have held Yahweh as a god or the primary God in his priestly duties. He is not condemned, but accepted, in the texts which he appears.

[to be continued]

Flowers on Calvinists use of Are You Better

From ARE YOU BETTER THAN YOUR FRIEND WHO REFUSED TO BELIEVE?

On Calvinism God makes some people (the elect) “smarter” (or insightful, or able to understand truth), more humble and privileged by a work of irresistible regenerative grace. So, on Calvinism those who believe really are “better” or “more capable,” which is why they can believe the gospel and the rest cannot believe it (for reasons beyond their control). Granted, on Calvinism, this regenerative grace is given unconditionally and it is not in anyway merited by the elect, but that does not change the fact that upon being regenerated the elect are made “better” (more capable, with a new and better nature/heart) than their unbelieving counterpart.

On Provisionism (Traditionalism), all people have the necessary insight and moral capacity to respond willingly to God’s appeal. Thus, all are truly “without excuse” because everyone has everything they need to believe in God. This is due to the fact that everyone is created as His image bearers in a world where His truth is made abundantly clear and believable (Rom 1). On Provisionism, no one can fall back on the excuse that God did not make them morally capable to respond positively to His own appeals or insightful enough to understand and accept plainly spoken truth, like they can on Calvinism. On Provisionism, the Fall doesn’t cause humanity to become morally incapable of accepting God’s appeals to be reconciled from that Fall. We do not believe that has ever been established biblically.

This Calvinistic argument may sound pious because it’s attempting to give all credit to God for all the good things, but in so doing it also inadvertently gives God all the blame for the bad and removes any real semblance of human responsibility for unbelief.

Worship Sunday – He Has Come For Us (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ, our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O, tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O, tidings of comfort and joy
He has come for us
This Jesus
He’s the hope for all
Mankind
He has come for us
The Messiah
Born to give us life
From God, our heavenly Father
A blessed angel came
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same
How that Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name
O, tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O, tidings of comfort and joy
He has come for us
This Jesus
He’s the hope for all
Mankind
He has come for us
The Messiah
Born to give us life
All the angels sing “Hallelujah!
“Jesus Christ is born!”
All the children sing “Hallelujah!
“He is Christ the Lord!”
He has come for us
This Jesus
He’s the hope for all
Mankind
He has come for us
The Messiah
Born to give us life
He is born to give us life
All the angels sing “Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ is born!”
All the children sing “Hallelujah!
“He is Christ the Lord!”

Worship Sunday – Hope Was Born This Night

Tonight I can see a star shine
And its splendor fills up the sky
It’s the same that appeared and the wise men revered
When hope was born this night
Out upon the snowy fields
There’s a silent peace that heals
And it echoes the grace of our Savior’s embrace
Because hope was born this night
Glory to God in the highest
Peace on Earth, good will to all men
Let all of the world sing the chorus of joy
Because hope was born this night
I can hear the Christmas bells ring
As softly as a church choir sings
It’s the song used to praise the ancient of days
When hope was born this night
There are angels in this place
And my heart resounds with the praise
Like a shepherd so scared, I’ll rejoice and declare
That hope was born this night
Glory to God in the highest
Peace on Earth, good will to all men
Let all of the world sing the chorus of joy
Because hope was born this night
Gloria, Gloria
Gloria, Gloria
Oh Gloria
Gloria, Gloria
Oh Gloria
Gloria, Gloria
Glory to God in the highest
Peace on Earth, good will to all men
Let all the world sing the chorus of joy
Because hope was born this night
Glory to God in the highest
Peace on Earth, good will to all men
Let all the world sing the chorus of joy
Because hope was born this night
I know hope was born this night
Because Christ was born this night

Isaiah 48:16 Commentary

Isa_48:16 Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there.” And now the Lord GOD has sent me, and his Spirit.

In Isaiah 48, God states they does not make secret decrees. Everything God decrees God decrees to people. The purpose is so that the people can both understand what God is doing and see that God is actually accomplishing the things God states He will do. A key element in this system is that nothing God decides is decided in secret. That would negate the purpose of the decree.

This pushes against theology of divine, eternal decrees. God does not decree in secret, but to people.

Roger Olson on God’s Sovereignty

From A Relational View of God’s Sovereignty

A relational view of God’s sovereignty begins not with philosophical a prioris such as “God is by definition the being greater than which none can be conceived” or “If there’s one maverick molecule in the universe, God is not God” but with God as the personal, loving, self-involving, passionate, relational Yahweh of Israel and Father of Jesus Christ.

This God is not aloof or self-sufficient in himself or impassible. His deity, as Barth taught us, is no prison. And as Jürgen Moltmann has taught us, his death on the cross is not a contradiction of his deity but the most profound revelation of it. And that because this God is love.

Does this all mean that God needs us? Not at all. This God could have lived forever satisfied with the communal love shared between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but he chose to become vulnerable in relation to the world he created out of the overflowing of that love. Is that just a metaphysical compliment unnecessarily paid to God or a truth necessary to the biblical story of God with us? I would argue it is the latter. A God who literally needs the world is a pathetic God hardly worthy of worship.

The key insight for a non-process relational view of God’s sovereignty is that God is sovereign over his sovereignty. The missio dei is God’s choice to involve himself intimately with the world so as to be affected by it. That choice is rooted in God’s love and desire for reciprocal love freely offered by his human creatures. None of this detracts in any way from God’s sovereignty because God is sovereign over his sovereignty. To say that God can’t be vulnerable, can’t limit himself, can’t restrain his power to make room for other powers, is, ironically, to deny God’s sovereignty.

Worship Sunday – Jesus Walking On The Water

Oh my, oh my, oh my
What if it was true?
And oh my, oh my, oh my
Tell me, is it true?
Did he, did he, did he
Die upon that cross?
And did he, did he, did he
Come back across?

Jesus walking on the water
Sweet Jesus walking in the sky
Sinking sand, took my hand
Raised me up and he brought me up
I can hold my, my, my head high

Will I, will I, will I
Be true to my birth?
And will I, will I, will I
Give what I’m worth?
Oh yes sir, yes sir, yes sir
I come when you call
And yes sir, yes sir, yes sir
Jesus, my all-in-all

2 Chronicles 32:31 commentary

2Ch 32:31  And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart. 

In 2 Chronicles 32:31 Hezekiah’s reign is at an end. God has saved him from death (verse 24) because he has prayed to God. But God still is not sure about his loyalty. Verse 25 and 26 describe this wavering. In verse 31, God tests Hezekiah to “know all that is in his heart”. God is setting up a situation to see how Hezekiah will act, presumably due to Hezekiah’s past fickle behavior. This is a fairly clear instance of nescience, God testing to know. This is of an individual and at the end of his life. He fails the test, as recorded by 2 Kings 20:12-13.

Frethheim on Metaphor Interpretation

Steering between these two poles, how does one move from metaphor phor to essential definition? By interpreting “along the metaphorical grain” and not contrary to it, by “following the thrust of the anal- ogy.”18 If one moves against the natural implication of the metaphor, one is misinterpreting it. At the same time, while the metaphor primarily generates insight into the divine reality at the basic thrust of the analogy, it also does so more indirectly at those points where it is discontinuous with the reality which is God.

Terence E. Frethheim. The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective (Overtures to Biblical Theology) (Kindle Locations 195-198). Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Beautiful

Beautiful robes so white, beautiful land of light
Beautiful home so bright where there shall come no night
Beautiful crown I’ll wear, shining with stars o’er there
Yonder in mansions fair, gather us there
Beautiful robes, beautiful land
Beautiful home, beautiful band
Beautiful crown, shining so fair
Beautiful mansion bright, gather us there
Beautiful thought to me, we shall forever be
Thine in eternity when from this world we’re free
Free from its toil and care, heavenly joys to share
Let me cross over there, this is my prayer
Beautiful robes, beautiful land
Beautiful home, beautiful band
Beautiful crown, shining so fair
Beautiful mansion bright, gather us there
Beautiful things on high over in yonder sky
Thus I shall leave this shore, counting my treasures o’er
Where we shall never die, carry me by and by
Never to sorrow more, heavenly store
Beautiful robes, beautiful land
Beautiful home, beautiful band
Beautiful crown, shining so fair
Beautiful mansion bright, gather us there

Isaiah 40:21 commentary

Isa 40:21  Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 

In Isaiah 40:20 the prophet chastises Israel for setting up idols “that will not move” over God. He then follows this statement with further condemnation. Israel has “from the foundations of the Earth” understood who the real creator is. The language mirrors that of omniscience. If a reader wants to take this in a wooden sense, the people have knowledge that at least dates to the creation of the world if not eternal knowledge.

But a natural reader of the text will read this as a generalization. God has made Himself apparent to Israel (and perhaps the world) since the world was created. The knowledge is new knowledge that is generated within people as they observe the world. It is old knowledge in the sense the information is out there to be “understood”.

This generalization, if applied to God, would certainly find itself in lists of omniscience prooftexts. Other “foundations of the Earth” prooftexts, such as 1 Peter 1:20, regularly make their way into such lists. But when such language is used of man, the text is naturally read and forgotten. The chance phrase, which would be critical in the context of God, is not even noticed.

Servetus and His Ideas on the Trinity

From On the Errors of the Trinity book 6:

You will (if you have examined your capacity with the sober judgment of reason) easily recognize the knowledge of God which we obtain through CHRIST. For in himself God is incomprehensible; he can be neither imagined, nor understood, nor discovered by thinking, unless you contemplate some aspect in him. And the likeness of Christ and the Person of the Word are just this. For the impersonated oracle of God, the Person of Christ, as I have said above, which was with God, was God himself; nor was there in him any other aspect than that.

From On the Errors of the Trinity book 7:

With regards to filiation among divine beings, and the divinity of CHRIST, and hypostasis of the Word, questions are usually asked which I shall clear with a few words. I say that from the beginning there was among the divine beings a filiation, not real but personal. The Son was the Word; the Son was not real but personal, in so far as it was the Person of CHRIST. Nor is he in Scripture ever called Son, but an eternal kind of generation is attributed to CHRIST, and the things that were in the law were a shadow of the body of Christ. Yet some dream here of an emanation of a conception, or a Word, from the divine mind, by means of an emanating filiation…

But in God, within, there are no goings forth, nor emanations; but CHRIST was formed beforehand in the divine mind. There was a certain way of keeping himself which God arranged in himself in order that he might manifest himself to us; namely, by representing in himself the likeness of JESUS CHRIST, for all this was foreordained for exhibiting the glory of CHRIST. And John did not say that the Word emanated from God, but it was in God, the Word was God.

Bavinck on attributes not applying to God

For precisely because God is pure being— the absolute, perfect, unique, and simple being— we cannot give a definition of him. There is no genus to which he belongs as a member, and there are no specific marks of distinction whereby we can distinguish him from other beings in this genus. Even the being he has, so to speak, in common with all creatures does not pertain to him in the same sense as it does to them (univocally), but only analogically and proportionally.

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2 (p. 95). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Did Trouble Me

When I close my eyes, so I would not see,
My Lord did trouble me.
When I let things stand that should not be,
My Lord did trouble me.
Did trouble me,
With a word or a sign,
With a ring of a bell in the back of my mind.
Did trouble me,
Did stir my soul,
For to make me human, to make me whole.
When I slept too long and I slept too deep,
Put a worrisome vision into my sleep.
When I held myself away and apart,
And the tears of my brother didn’t move my heart.
Did trouble me,
With a word and a sign,
With a ringing of a bell in the back of my mind.
Did trouble me,
Did stir my soul
For to make me human, to make me whole.
And of this I’m sure, of this I know:
My Lord will trouble me.
Whatever I do, wherever I go,
My Lord will trouble me.
In the whisper of the wind, in the rhythm of a song
My Lord will trouble me.
To keep me on the path where I belong,
My Lord will trouble me.
Will trouble me,
With a word or a sign,
With the ringing of a bell in the back of my mind.
Will trouble me,
Will stir my soul,
For to make me human, to make me whole.
To make me human, to make me whole.

Genesis 41:32 Commentary

Gen 41:32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.

In Genesis 41:32 Joseph is called to interpret Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:16 credits Joseph as receiving his dream interpretation information from God Himself). In the interpretation, God has sent Pharaoh a warning about an impending famine. A curious feature is the fixity of the event. The dream twice occurs, which assures God’s intention will not change. God “will bring it about”.

The language suggests not all God’s plans as fixed. God will not “bring about” all His revealed intentions, but certain indicators will show observant watchers which ones are fixed. The famine is revealed as an intention. God is specifically credited as the agent controlling the famine.

The point of this verse appears to be to ward against petitionary prayer. The famine is not going to be avoided, so best use knowledge of the future to change the future. Instead of starvation, the people can choose abundance. The people can subvert impending doom.

Exultation of Sehetep-ib-Re

From THE STORY OF SI-NUHE, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament

“Well, of course, his son has entered
into the palace and has taken the inheritance of his
father. Moreover, he is a god without his peer. There
is no other who surpasses him. He is a master of understanding,
effective in plans and beneficent of decrees.
Going forth and coming back are in conformance with
his command. He it was who subdued the foreign
countries while his father was in his palace, and he
reported to him that what had been charged to him had
been carried out How joyful is this land which he
has ruled!

Exultation of Aton

From The Hymn to the Aton, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament

How manifold it is, what thou hast made!
They are hidden from the face (of man).
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone:
All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.

Worship Sunday – Jesus Is Just Alright

Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright
I don’t care what they may say
I don’t care what they may do
I don’t care what they may say
Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus is just alright
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright
I don’t care what they may know
I don’t care where they may go
I don’t care what they may know
Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus, he’s my friend; Jesus, he’s my friend
He took me by the hand; Led me far from this land
Jesus, he’s my friend
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright
I don’t care what they may say, I don’t care what they may do
I don’t care what they may say, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah

Psalms 139:16 Commentary

Psa 139:16  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 

Psalms 139:16 is typically read as if it is describing a book in which every day of every person’s life is written from all eternity.

A person’s days are numbered in advance and recorded in God’s book “when none of them as yet existed” (Ps. 139: 16; 31: 15; 39: 5; Job 14: 5).

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2 (p. 318). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Gregory Boyd offers four reasons that the determinist reading of this text is not given:

First, even if this verse said that the exact length of our lives was settled before we were born, it wouldn’t follow that everything about our future was settled before we were born, and certainly not that it was settled from all eternity. God can at some point predetermine and/or foreknow some things about the future without eternally predetermining and/or foreknowing everything about the future. We must be careful not to outrun what Scripture teaches.

Second, the fact that the literary form of this verse is poetry should strongly caution us against relying on it to settle doctrinal disputes. The point of this passage is to poetically express God’s care for the psalmist from his conception, not to resolve metaphysical disputes regarding the nature of the future.

Third, the Hebrew in this passage is quite ambiguous. yamtsar) First, the word translated in the NRSV as “formed” (can be interpreted in a strong sense of “determined” or in a weaker sense of “planned.” Second, the subject matter of what was “formed” and written in the “book” before they existed is not supplied in the original Hebrew. It is thus not clear whether what was planned were the days of the psalmist’s life or rather parts of the psalmist’s body. The King James Version is an example of a translation that decided on the latter meaning. It reads, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Ps. 139:16). Though this wording is a bit awkward, it has the advantage of being consistent with the rest of this psalm and especially with the immediate context of this verse. Psalm 139 is about God’s moment-by-moment, intimate involvement in our lives. The verses immediately preceding verse 16 describe the formation of the psalmist’s body in the womb. Indeed, the first stanza of verse 16, “Your eyes beheld my unformed substance,” also concerns the intimate awareness the Lord has of the psalmist even before he’s formed. An interpretation of this verse that continues this theme seems most appropriate, whereas one that inserts an unrelated reference to the psalmist’s future seems out of place.

Finally, even if we choose to take the subject matter of what is “formed” and “written” in this verse to be the days of the psalmist’s life (not the parts of his body), this does not require us to believe that the length of his life was unalterable. Scripture elsewhere suggests that what is written in the Lord’s Book of Life can be changed (Exod. 32:33; Rev. 3:5). Hezekiah’s success in getting the Lord to “add” fifteen years to his life supports this perspective (Isa. 38:1–5), as does the Lord’s self-professed willingness to alter decrees he’s made in light of new circumstances (Jer. 18:6–10). The notion that what God ordains is necessarily unalterable is foreign to the Hebrew mind.

Boyd, Gregory A.. God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God (pp. 40-41). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

John Calvin, surprisingly, takes the view that this verse is not about predestined days, but about fetology:

16. …Interpreters are not agreed as to the second clause. Some read ימים, yamim, in the nominative case, when days were made; the sense being, according to them — All my bones were written in thy book, O God! from the beginning of the world, when days were first formed by thee, and when as yet none of them actually existed. The other is the more natural meaning, That the different parts of the human body are formed in a succession of time; for in the first germ there is no arrangement of parts, or proportion of members, but it is developed, and takes its peculiar form progressively.

Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 12: Psalms, Part V, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com Psalm 139

In short, there is good evidence, even from Calvinistic sources, as to why this verse is not a prooftext for determinism.

Exhalations to the pagan deity Enlil

From The Hymn to Enlil, from Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament:

Enlil whose command is far-reaching, lofty his word (and) holy,
Whose pronouncement is unchangeable, who decrees destinies unto the distant future,
Whose lifted eye scans the land,
Whose lifted beam searches the heart of all the land—When Father Enlil seats himself broadly on the holy dais, on the lofty dais,
When Nunamnir [another name for Enlil] carries out to supreme perfection lordship
and kingship,
The earth-gods bow down willingly before him, The Anunna humble themselves before him, Stand by faithfully in accordance with (their) instructions.
The great (and) mighty lord, supreme in heaven (and) earth, the all-knowing one who understands the judgement,

When in his awesomeness he decrees the fates,
No god dares look at him,

Not (even) a god can behold your countenance.

Who are the judge (and) decision-maker of the universe
Your noble word is as weighty as heaven, you know no opposition,

The lofty one, whose words are firmly grounded,
Whose command and favor are unalterable,
Whose pronouncements is all enduring,
Whose plans “confirm the word”—
Oh Great Mountain Enlil, exalted is your praise.

On Ancient Contempt of the Material World

What I have tried to show in this chapter is that contempt for the human condition and hatred for the body was a disease endemic in the entire culture of the period [first few centuries CE]; that while its more extreme manifestations are mainly Christian or Gnostic, its symptoms show themselves in a milder form in pagans of purely Hellenistic education; and that this disease found expression in a wide variety of myths and fantasies, some drawn from Greek, others from oriental originals (often with a changed meaning or a changed emphasis), while others again are apparently new.

E. R. Dodd, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety

Worship Sunday – Wasteland

I’m the first one in line to die
When the cavalry comes
Yeah it feels like the great divide
Has already come
Yeah I’m wasting my way through days
losing youth along the way

Oh if God is on my side
Oh if God is on my side
Yeah if God is on my side
Then who can be against me

There was a greatness I thought for awhile
But somehow it changed
Some kind of blindness I used to protect me
From all of my stains
Yeah I wish this was vertigo
But it just feels like I’m falling slow

In this wasteland where I’m livin’
There is a crack in the door filled with light
And it’s all that I need to get by
In this wasteland where I’m livin’
There is a crack in the door filled with light
And it’s all that I need to shine

All of these people I meet
It seems like they’re fine
Yeah in some ways I hope that they’re not
And their hearts are like mine
It’s wrong when it seems like work
To belong all I feel is hurt

Romans 15:14 Commentary

Rom 15:14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

In Romans, Paul describes his read as filled with “all knowledge”. This is in context of a critique. Although the Romans have “all knowledge”, Paul “reminds” them of some points about the Gentiles. Contextual, the “all knowledge” is either a limited scope (e.g. you have pretty much all the theology I can teach) or “tongue in cheek” (i.e. you think you have pretty good knowledge of the issues, but I am going to remind you of something you are missing). The phrase, although if taken about God would certainly be a prooftext for omniscience, is anything but.

Does God Change His Mind

From a paper on if God Changes His Mind:

CONCLUSION
Does God change His mind? It all depends. If He has decreed a certain course of action or outcome, then He will not retract a statement or relent from a declared course of action. Verses stat-ing or illustrating this truth must not be overextended, however. Statements about God not changing His mind serve to mark specific declarations as decrees. They should not be used as proof texts of God’s immutability, nor should they be applied generally to every divine forward-looking statement. If God has not decreed a course of action, then He may very well retract an announcement of blessing or judgment. In these cases the human response to His announcement determines what He will do. Passages declaring that God typically changes His mind as an expression of His love and mercy demonstrate that statements describing God as relenting should not be dismissed as anthropomorphic. At the same time such passages should not be overextended. God can and often does decree a course of action.26