Christian Carnival L

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The 50th Christian Carnival, the last of 2004, is up at MediaSoul. My The Divine Watch-Setter appears right after Sam's Merry Christmas. The reason she lists me as "Jeremy Pierce himself" is because she originally had Sam's entry listed as "Jeremy Pierce's wife", not knowing her name. It had nothing to do with thinking of me as someone famous or incredibly important.

Those of you like me who never cared much for the tradition of New Years resolutions should read some of Jonathan Edwards' resolutions at A Physicist's Perspective. Now those are resolutions.

Semicolon shares some thoughts from Tolkien's worldview behind Middle-Earth out of the Silmarillion. I've never been able to get through the Silmarillion (actually, I only tried once, in high school), but the part at the beginning about Tolkien's cosmology is just absolutely wonderful. It deals with lots of issues that reflect his view of God and the world, but the one here is one of the more important ones.

Rebecca Writes reflects on the theological background to the phrase "in the fullness of time" (from Galatians 4:4-5) that people often associate with Christmas. She ties it to other statements from Paul about the significance of the total change in reality that comes with the advent of the Messiah, which is in fact an end to things as they were and the beginning of the end of things as they still are.

Off the Top presents some highlights from C.S. Lewis' Reflections on the Psalms. I actually disagree to some degree with a couple of the Lewis quotes Bonnie gives, but I think the first three highlights she lists are incredibly insightful and worth spending some time considering.

7 Comments

My brother....please give The Silmarillion another read...it is wonderful and beautiful!

Mr problem is that my only fiction reading is when I read to my wife before we go to bed, and I'm not sure she'd go for that. It has too much of the feel of reading a history book, though perhaps not as much as the appendices to the Lord of the Rings do.

Thanks for linking, Jeremy. I'm interested to learn your thoughts on Lewis' ideas if you can get a minute.

Well, the most important one to me was his claim that the psalmists must be wrong in their hate. It seems quite clear to me that he's basing that on the command to love your neighbor, which Jesus says includes your enemy, but he's also assuming that you can't both love and hate someone at the same time, which I just don't agree with. I see the psalmists' anger as at least to some extent entering a mode in which one can identify with how God sees the world. I don't think any human can do so perfectly, of course, and in cases when we've been wronged it's usually not the most righteous anger, but the concern for justice and an understanding of God's genuine anger at wrong can involve some understanding of God's response to sin. When pondering God in the temple, and especially in psalms that depict a process of moving from fear and uncertainty to resting in God, we sometimes still end with anger or even once or twice hate. Lewis wants to paint that as mere human sin being portrayed by the scriptures honestly. I'm not really sure that's the right way to see what's going on. The similar enough kind of language in Revelation 19 at the destruction of evildoers and how that's portrayed as something to feast over shows that it's not immediately wrong to take such attitudes, just when it's not motivated by what motivates God.

I also think he gets the misuse of God's name wrong. The fundamental concern of that commandment is that people would not use or mention God's name when not really taking into account who God is and what God expects of us. This is what people did when they vowed in God's name but didn't mean it. Thus the thing he says isn't as bad is at least in one respect worse, because it's the height of doing that sort of thing.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jeremy. The whole issue of hatred is a tough one, at least for me. I understand righteous anger, and I understand being angry yet not sinning, but out-and-out hatred is another matter. If God is love, then He is not hate. This does not exclude justice. How, though, does the mere human separate the two?

I wonder if the content of the Psalms Lewis refers to in ch. III of ROTP, "The Cursings" - 109, 137, and 139 mainly, has to do with "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" law. I'm not a scholar, so I may be off on this, but I'm wondering if these Psalms need to be read with this in mind.

It seems like once Jesus came, we were called to a different mindset (Matt. 5:38-48). How could a Christian get away with saying today what the Psalmist in #139 says: "Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord...I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

I realize that, for the Psalmist, the statements about hating his enemies and wanting to be led away from offensive will in his heart are not in opposition. Yet I wonder if that would be true for us today.

I think Lewis takes his point a little too far, yet, in a modern context, it gives food for thought.

I understand your point about taking God's name in vain. I'm not sure if casual misuse of His name, as in a figure of speech (which is distasteful), is as bad or worse than an insincere calling upon or swearing upon His name, though. The former doesn't even acknowledge Him, and the latter does yet uses His name selfishly. Those are the distinctions Lewis was making in this chapter. I guess which is worse depends on whether the one who doesn't acknowledge Him does so from an attitude of ignorance, or of disregard.

Ah. I see what Lewis was getting at with the name in vain stuff. I didn't originally see his argument, but it makes sense.

On the love and hate stuff, I have to recommend D.A. Carson's Love in Hard Places. A friend of mine borrowed it and graduated, presumably taking it with her to either Ohio or Texas, so I need to get a new copy if she isn't going to mail it back to me. It's an excellent book dealing with all sorts of hard ethical questions about love. One of the chapters deals exactly with the statement in Psalm 139 and argues that the statement is godly and not sinful as Lewis says. It's a modern mindset that opposes love and hate, he says. He had some further arguments and explanations, but since I don't have my book I can't set them forth for you. As with most things Carson writes that I don't originally agree with, I was convinced by his arguments. It just seemed like one of those "of course" moments.

Sounds like an interesting book, Jeremy, I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

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