Saturday, December 31, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
"With the absence of an 'interpretive police,' in the first edition ofThe Fall of Interpretation, James K. A. Smith worried how to keep at bay the charge of relativism. This revised edition unambiguously affirms the particularity of the Nicene tradition as the locale for genuine interpretation of Scripture. Smith cogently argues that we need the church's authoritative theological interpretation of Scripture to live with the varying degrees of the author's 'real presence' in the text."--Hans Boersma, J. I. Packer Professor of Theology, Regent College"The first edition of James K. A. Smith's Fall of Interpretation cast a clear, sharp light on the important topic of difference in interpretation, and the contribution he made to the theological understanding of hermeneutics has still not been fully appreciated. This second edition, with a new introduction and an added chapter that draws on Smith's further years of philosophical, theological exploration, makes an even more powerful claim for the attention of anyone concerned about the prospects for hermeneutics."--A. K. M. Adam, lecturer in New Testament, University of Glasgow
"In the hands of the unskilled or unwise, hermeneutics can be dangerous, fueling a blaze of apocalyptic fire where interpretation dissolves creaturely goodness into a relativistic morass. Nonetheless, as Smith persuasively argues, interpretation is inevitable. To reject it for 'immediacy' is to close one's eyes to the obvious. Smith shows how hermeneutics emerges not from our sinfulness but from our creaturely goodness. This second edition guides the reader along Smith's own path, resisting the 'emergent' temptation in favor of 'catholic' substance."--D. Stephen Long, professor of systematic theology, Marquette University
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
"Being Reformed" is too regularly the banner under which we enthusiastically assimilate to the age. "Being Reformed" is the warrant and rationale for our cultural engagement to the point that it becomes a license to have our cake and eat it, too. "Being Reformed" is the badge of our refusal to be fundamentalists or evangelicals or conservatives or "concordists" or what have you, which only gives us permission to happily assimilate to the spirit of the age (there are both "left" and "right" versions of this available).
If we learn anything from Saul Bellow, we might look for continuing education from Klaas Schilder.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
I have no peroration or clarion note on which to close. Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the "transcendent" and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Dont' be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.I shall leave you with a few words from George Konrad, the Hungarian dissident who retained his integrity through some crepuscular times, and who survived his persecutors by writing Antipolitics and The Loser, and many other lapidary essays and fictions. (When, after the emancipation of his country and society, they came to him and offered him the presidency, he said, "No, thanks.") He wrote this in 1987, when the dawn seemed a good way off:Have a lived life instead of a career. Put yourself in the safekeeping of good taste. Lived freedom will compensate you for a few losses. ... If you don't like the style of others, cultivate your own. Get to know the tricks of reproduction, be a self-publisher even in conversation, and then the joy of working can fill your days.May it be so with you, and may you keep your powder dry for the battles ahead, and know when and how to recognise them.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Readers hoping for a condensed version of Taylor's 2007 tome, A Secular Age, will not find it here.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
As you'll note from my recent Perspectives article, "A Peculiar People," I've been thinking a lot about the dynamics of immigration and how that intersects with my own experience of being an immigrant--and being Reformed. That's not just because my Reformed community finds its heritage in an immigrant population; rather, there is something inherent to this expression of the Reformed faith that is poised to appreciate the precarious place of the immigrant and the exile. This is because the people of God inhabit that equally precarious place between common grace andantithesis--between the persistent affirmation that the whole earth is the Lord's (Psalm 24:1) and the heartbreaking recognition that the whole world lies under the sway of the evil one (1 John 5:19). We serve the risen, coming King of creation but are constantly aware of the governorship of the enemy in this meanwhile. And so we are like citizens who return to our homeland only to find it under foreign rule. We are not so different from Israel, who returned from exile only to find themselves exiles in their homeland now run by the Roman empire.
At the heart of what I've imbibed from Kuyper and Dooyeweerd and Runner and Seerveld is the sense that the covenant people of God will (and should) never quite be "at home" anywhere; the people of God hold citizenship in a far country which should make us uncomfortable but constructive inhabitants of any culture. We are called to seek the welfare of the city in which we are exiled (Jeremiah 29:4-7) while also learning to sing the Lord's song in a strange land (Psalm 137:4). We shouldn't lock ourselves up in ex-pat enclaves, as it were--forming holy huddles and circling the wagons to protect ourselves from "the world." But neither should we gleefully assimmilate to majority cultures characterized by disordered love. Reformed Christians, for example, should never easily be described as "good Americans," it seems to me. We should instead by characterized by a kind of immigrant distance, which can also manifest itself as cautious gratitude.