NT Wright on Paul’s use of “flesh”

NT Wright on Paul’s use of “flesh”:

But what do “fleshly”…mean? ….[“Flesh”] is so problematic that it would be nice (as I have tried to do with some other technical language) to avoid it altogether, but I have found that doing so produces even worse tangles. Better to learn, once and for all, that when Paul uses the word “flesh” and other similar words he does not intend us simply to think of the “physical” world, in our normal sense, as opposed to the “non-physical.” He has other language for that. The word we translate, here and elsewhere, as “flesh” refers to people or things who share the corruptibility and mortality of the world, and, often enough and certainly here, the rebellion of the world. “Flesh” is a negative term. For Paul as a Jew the created order, the physical world, was good in itself. Only its wrong use, and its corruption and defacing, are bad. “Flesh” highlights that wrong use, that corruption and decay.

Reposted from New Leaven. pp. 140-41, Romans 1-8, Paul for Everyone.

Oord Responds to Sanders

Open Theist Thomas Oord responds to Open Theist John Sander’s criticisms of his book “The Uncontrolling Love of God”. An excerpt:

In The Uncontrolling Love of God, I devote an entire chapter to John Sanders’s influential book, The God Who Risks. I mention many things on which we agree. But I criticize his view of a few key issues. I argue that Sanders does not regard love as the logically preeminent attribute of God’s nature. Instead, he believes divine power precedes divine love. His statements about God creating are especially illustrative of the priority in God of controlling power over persuasive love.

Placing sovereignty logically prior to love, as Sanders does, should prompt us to wonder why God doesn’t occasionally control creatures to prevent genuine evils. The God Sanders describes could control others or situations if this God wanted to do so. So we rightly wonder why the God capable of control does not, in the name of love, prevent genuine evil. Sanders admits his view cannot solve the problem of evil. He doesn’t address much the problem of randomness.

Worship Sunday – Little Drummer Boy

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

New Podcast on Paul

Open Theist Kurt Williams has started a podcast on the apostle Paul. See the webpage at Paulcast . From the website:

In The Paulcast, Kurt Willems looks at issues pertaining to relevant scholarship, (radical) new perspectives on Paul, Jewish and Roman contexts for understanding his letters, important Pauline scholars and books, and Paul’s ongoing relevance for regular folks today. In addition, Kurt will occasionally interview important voices from a variety of perspectives who will help us wrestle with the major questions that come out of the study of the historical Paul.

Act 15:18 Commentary

Act 15:18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.

Adam Clarke comments on this verse:

“The whole of this verse is very dubious: the principal part of it is omitted by the most ancient MSS… Supposing the whole to be genuine, critics have labored to find out the sense… They therefore would translate the passage thus: All the works of God are ever dear unto him. And, if so, consequently we might naturally expect him to be merciful to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews; and the evidence now afforded of the conversion of the Gentiles is an additional proof that all God’s works are equally dear to him.”

The ESV translates the same verse:

Acts 15:17 …says the Lord, who makes these things
Act 15:18 known from of old.’

The ESV is perhaps the more natural contextual meaning. In the context, James is explaining to a hostile audience why Gentiles do not have to circumcise. This passage is about affirming Paul’s message to the Gentiles. Amos is quoted as precedence (v16-17) for this contentious development. James’ argument is that God has been planning this development for some time, as evidenced in Amos. The text can only dubiously be extended to this as affirmation that even God’s minor actions as been planned from long ago, and even more dubiously extended to mean that God has absolute omniscience over the future. The verse, after all, is about God’s own plans for His own actions.

Sanders on Weak and Strong Immutability

This quote comes from John Sanders (in Facebook group a while ago):

Let me attempt to clarify some points. First, words such as predestination, election, and salvation have more than one meaning. So when students ask me if I affirm predestination and I reply “yes” they are typically shocked. I then inform them I reject what they likely mean by the term—theological determinism. However, there are different understandings of the term though I may not want to use it due to how it is typically understood. In the OOG we distinguished between strong and weak understandings of immutability and claimed that the divine nature does not change but that God does have changing mental states (e.g strategies and emotions). At that time I don’t recall anyone distinguishing between different forms of impassibility. We took the term to have only one meaning, what has come to be known as strong impassibility—God is never affected by creatures in any respect. As the dialogue ensued we were asked whether God is ever overwhelmed by emotions as humans are apt to be such that God becomes incapacitated to act. We denied that this was the case. The distinction between strong and weak versions of impassibility arose in the literature and in discussions with Hasker, Rice, and Pinnock I decided to use both strong and weak immutability and strong and weak impassibility in the revised edition of GWR to distinguish between Classical Theism and Traditional Freewill Thesim (I placed Open Theism as a version of Freewill Theism). Our position had not changed from what we wrote in OOG. We simply became more precise about what we affirmed and rejected. We rejected strong impassibility and still do. This move was similar to the discussion about the “openness” of the future. People asked if we were saying that every aspect of the future was open and so we said no, some of the future may be closed. Getting more precise on these matters was acting responsibly. One is welcome to disagree with us about the meaning of the terms or the distinctions and suggest a more helpful way of understanding the issue. What I reject is the claim that “After much brow-beating, Sanders is now conceding qualified impassibility” My use of weak impassibility was in conference papers around 2002 and in GWR by 2006 so it had nothing to do with Tom Belt’s reasoning. I’m not in agreement with Belt on this issue by the way. But the point is that my motivation for making this distinction long preceded any conversations on Facebook. If weak impassibility as I defined it in GWR is inconsistent with open theism then I suppose that would mean I was an open theist until 2002 (as were Pinnock, Hasker and Rice). However, since my view has not changed, only become more clearly defined, I feel confident in asserting that I affirm open theism.

Facebook Sanders Immutability

Shownotes – Arthur Haglund on Matt Slick

From the shownotes from podcast Ep134 – Arthur Haglund on John 6 and Matt Slick. A list of tool moves done by Matt Slick against Haglund:

1. He escalates a fight when you ask him to what verse he is turning.
2. He embeds his presuppositions in his questions and phrases them that if you reject Matt Slick you reject Jesus: “Do you agree with Jesus that Calvinism is true?” type questions. He gets mad when you don’t answer “yes” or “no”.
3. He asks questions that assume you gave entirely different answers to the very previous question than you actually did.
4. He refuses to understand your beliefs and his questions show that he is not even tracking with your answers.
5. He is condescending and tries to portray himself with the moral high ground.
6. He has double standards for how questions can be answered or how points can be made.
7. He tries to stop you from making a parallel to show how reasonable people can understand the same verse in a valid way.

Hicks on Arminius and Open Theism

John Mark Hicks, “Was Arminius an Open Theist? Meticulous Providence in the Theology of Jacob Arminius,” quoted via William Birch:

I suggest that we no longer use the language of “meticulous providence” as an equivalent for “theological determinism” (what open theists think is the Reformed understanding of sovereignty). Originally the phrase “meticulous providence” identified a view of providence that denies pointless or gratuitous evils. This does not entail determinism or any understanding of eternal decrees, as in Reformed scholasticism. …

Arminius affirmed with Reformed theology a “meticulous providence” where God has sovereignty over evil such that no evil act is autonomous and uncircumscribed by God’s intent for good. God is sovereign in such a way that God concurs with the act itself and its effect has specific meaning and significance. This is a critical difference between classic Arminianism and open theism. Whereas Arminius asserted an understanding of concurrence that entails meticulous providence, open theism does not.

This difference is no minor one since it reaches to the very core of why open theism, at least pastorally, arose as an alternative to Reformed theology and more traditional Arminianism. When classic Arminianism affirms “meticulous providence” (in the sense defined herein), this constitutes a radical disagreement with open theism. In terms of “meticulous providence,” Reformed theology and classic Arminianism stand together. …