Related Observations

1 – Seeing the Philadelphia airport, one of the better large airports that I’ve been in, one is struck by how reduced the aesthetic requirements now are. It seems the criterion is one: it has to look new. Anything built has only to look new, and that makes it a great building. The problem is: it can only look new for so long.

2 – The internet roach motel is doing some programmatic Biblicism on the Trinity. I guess I notice because I keep going to look for anybody with a clue on this recent debate. I’m not impressed with any fundamentalist comment on the situation to date. Am I foolish to keep looking? Here’s a question about theological method: how does, and how should, history inform your theological method? I was talking to a staunch covenant theologian I know and observing the literalism with which someone like Snoeberger reads—in some comments on his blog—the Nicene Creed. “They read the creeds the way they read the Bible,” he then observed. I don’t want it to seem anti-dispensational; I’m not that because I am indifferent, and dispensationalists are not all of the wonder-crushing variety that Detroit represents. There are some who read and understand poetry; Tozer was a dispensationalist, after all, and I do not wish him otherwise. But it is a good question: Nicaea has a whole culture of theology that is developed in order to obtain stable meanings for the specific terms. This culture follows it ever after. The implications of what it means are drawn out over time, but still flow from Nicaea so that we speak of Nicene Orthodoxy. Interpreting Scripture does the same (because theology is Scripture interpreted correctly): it builds a tradition of interpretation, a culture that carries with it assumptions. Does your theological method take that into account, or is it a continual rejection of the actual contribution that those accrued things bring? And here’s another related question: are you attached to the church throughout the ages? Is that important to you? How is it, if you affirm it, more than an affirmation?

3 – Speaking of teaching Church History: could your approach to Church history be characterized as an affirmation of something you belong to, or mostly as a denial of something alien to your identity as a Christian? Both will be present, but which dominate and characterize what you do?

4 – When I went to consult commentaries for the passage I spoke from on Sunday, I noticed that Craig Blomberg did not even seem to understand the Gospel, at least not from his commentary on the last half of Matthew 19. Perhaps I did not read him carefully, but what I saw was moralism, economic theory, and quite distant from, for example, Calvin. Calvin is irritating on the Gospels since he has that harmony going on, but at least he understands the message. I had a conversation with someone about the passage earlier in the week, and he was influenced by the idea that you should not read your theology into the text. Of course, you can’t use your theology to distort what the text is saying, but the relationship is not one of complete malleability on the side of your theology. Theology, after all, is the careful product of Scriptural interpretation. If you don’t bring your theology to the interpretation of the text, aren’t you operating on the assumption that what is clearly taught elsewhere might contradict what is taught here? You will never have sophisticated theology until something that is clearly taught begins to adumbrate other passages, bringing out further implication. That, come to think of it, is a good definition of Biblicism: theology refusing sophistication.

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