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Archive for September, 2011

Jim West has a contest to give away a copy of the Ephesians/Galatians volume of the totally awesome and new IVP Reformation Commentary on Scripture. Check it out. Depraved individuals need not apply.

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In a stunning victory for Christianity, Mark Driscoll has converted Lisa Frank to Christianity and she has joined his Seattle church. Already, the artistic genius of Ms. Frank is making itself visible in the life of Mars Hill Church. In the recently unveiled “Peasant Princess” series found here, Frank’s talents have been put to good use. When asked for comment about Frank’s participation on the Mars Hill team, Mark Driscoll responded, “When I first met Lisa, I wasn’t sure I wanted to preach her the Gospel. After all, Jesus would never carry a Lisa Frank binder. But then the Holy Spirit TV Screen™ kicked on, and the Lord showed me her talent. I thought ‘You know, cute neon woodland creatures would be the perfect thing to go with a discussion of the sexually charged Song of Solomon.” Frank reported being happy with the move. “I’m just so excited. I’ve always wanted to use my art to reach people older than 11.” Truly the angels rejoice.

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A Song For NASCAR Jesus

Words fail me.

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Moving has kept me from the blog world for far too long.  I promise I’ll try to return to some of my recent post series soon!  Today, though, just a quick thought:

I find myself burdened by what I feel is my “theological responsibility” as a seminary graduate.  I felt this coming on during our final months at Fuller, and I probably feel it more acutely in the last month or so.  By that I mean that I feel that a church or organization that I’m going to “endorse,” especially through financial support, should be improving its members’ theology rather than further corrupting it.  This burden of theological responsibility may just mean I’m picky and/or arrogant, but I believe at least some of it comes from a good place.  It makes me uncomfortable to think of giving a thumbs up to Christian leaders who aren’t theologically educated or reflective and who pass on beliefs and ideas that are innocuously (but annoyingly) wrong at best, and detrimental to the faith lives of their communities at worst.

I can recognize these sort of leaders as Christian brothers and sisters who are well-meaning and who even may get a lot of things right… but I just have trouble stomaching the idea of directly supporting ministries that may explicitly teach the kinds of things you go to seminary to unlearn.  In fact, to do so, to me, feels unethical.  Yes, I feel ethically uncomfortable supporting certain Christian organizations—which are in significant part like-minded and filled with nice people—because I feel as someone with a theological education I have some sort of responsibility to the larger Christian world to not condone what I know to be teaching that is just plain wrong (and, on a positive note, to encourage people to be thoughtful Christians with exposure to a wide range of ideas).

I think my awareness of this problem is exacerbated greatly by the general lack of moderate Christian organizations out there.  I want very much to be able to stand behind positive Christian causes and to participate in their ministries (directly or indirectly).  But I find myself asking who is left that I really feel comfortable supporting right now.

Anyone else (seminarian or not) have this issue? Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in this realm.

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A couple years ago, I attended my very first meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in New Orleans. As I was meandering through the hallways in search of interesting sessions, my attention was drawn by a colorful poster placed upon a board which was in use for the poster sessions. It took about .002 nanoseconds to figure out that some whack-job had hijacked the poster session board. I meant to blog on it then, but I forgot
about it until some particularly ridiculous bit of dilettantish behavior mentioned on Scotteriology reminded me of it. Anyway, I bring to your attention ladies and gentlemen: Prismatic Theology. What is Prismatic Theology you might ask, and the answer is about what you’d expect. From the about page:

[W]hile my husband and I drove from Tulsa, OK to Eureka Springs, AR the unexpected happened! It was a beautiful Fall day and the foliage in the Ozark Mountains was particularly brilliant …yellow, orange, red, purple and green leaves dotted the hillsides! But something other than the colorful leaves caught my attention. An image appeared between the windshield of our car and my mind’s eye. The vision that I saw was an organizational structure for ministry. It was in the shape of a square and it looked like a fishing net which had the colors of the rainbow woven into its structure.

The vision came to me from beyond myself and I have no rational explanation for it. The only thing that I can say for certain is that the vision came with a complete understanding of how ‘The Net’ was to function. Moreover the new knowledge was instantaneous and could not be un-learned…During the next four years,1996 – 2000, I experienced a continuous supernatural influx of instruction. At times the intensity of the teaching and the amount of information was beyond what I thought I could handle. I begged for a respite but no rest came until Oct, 2000. By the end of the four year period of time however I had an awareness of three tools for ministry here on earth: A Clock, a Key, and a Net![emphasis original].

Ok, so she had a vision, but what on earth does prismatic theology even mean? From what I can tell, she seems to have haphazardly applied her vision to a variety of random things in the Bible. For example: The creation story in Genesis 1 should not be understood as linear, but rather as circular…because color wheels are round…or something. Unexplained prophetic vision? Color wheels to the rescue! Her application of the color wheel often breaks down into incoherent rambling:

It is unlikely that the wheel was successfully used in ancient times as a means of measuring time relative to the 24-hour measurement. However through the gift of hindsight, a synchronization of ‘bible-time’ and ‘earth-time’ becomes possible. The entire wheel accounts for the counter-clock-wise passage of 8,400 years of which 6,000+ years have elapsed and 2,100+ remain.

What? At least there are plenty of nifty colorful pictures. If you think the climax of absurdity has been reached, get ready to be blown away. She has presented this crap at SBL!

When my research was complete, I joined the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion in order to present my research. I wanted the scholarly community to listen to the information and either tell me that I was crazy; laugh me off of the planet; or help me understand why the insights couldn’t possibly be accurate. But no one laughed. And after several years of presenting academic papers I’m still on the planet. A few scholars commented on the ‘unconventional nature of the wisdom’ saying, “I’ve never thought about this” or “I’ve never seen anything like this.”  But no one told me that the conclusions I offer cannot possibly be accurate.

I’m all about sunshine and kindness, but for the love of Pete why didn’t anyone say, “Yes madam, you are indeed crazy.” The fact that no one did so is allowing her to trade on the name of the SBL. Her website lists her “academic papers presented within the Society of Biblical Literature” including three regional meetings and a national meeting. I’m no fan of censorship, but who is letting this woman into their sessions? Do her abstracts sound distinctly less crazy or something?

Carol, if you are reading this, I have no desire to hurt your feelings, but what you are doing is not scholarship. It does not belong at SBL, and you shouldn’t be hawking DVDs about it on the internet. If you are really interested in Biblical Studies, I suggest that you seek training from an accredited institution of higher learning or contact someone who has had such training and ask for a list of books to read.

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