Friday, May 24, 2013

All Around the Web - May 24, 2013

But what if you don't drink coffee?

HT: Everyday Theology

Doug Wilson - Rachel Held Evans Denies the Cat | This is brilliant.

In the aftermath of the Oklahoma tragedy, Rachel Held Evans took John Piper to task for claiming, right in line with the Bible, that if disaster befalls a city, it is from the hand of God (Amos 3:6). Not only is it from the hand of God, but it is from the hand of a holy God. But to know — as insurance companies do — that such things are classified as acts of God, is not to say that God is abusive.

This stance of Piper’s upsets Evans, and she went on at length about it, maintaining that this creates abusive church environments, etc. I don’t want to go point-by-point through her post here — I simply want to make one observation, in line with the great Chesterton:

“If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.”

Here is the problem. Rachel Held Evans rebukes John Piper for answering the problem of evil as all orthodox Christians must, but then cops out herself. “We don’t know exactly why suffering happens in every situation . . .” Now of course this is quite right if we are maintaining that Henry got cancer because he cheated on his taxes three years ago. We don’t know that. But it is staggeringly wrong if we are talking about why our world is broken the way it is. We do know that. We have been told.

. . . 

Rachel Held Evans lives in a world where innocent people just get caught in the machinery, and God is terribly sorry about it.

Piper lives in a place where every apparent injustice will ultimately be revealed as part of a rich tapestry of means and ends, all culminating in that glorious Christlikeness that the “all things” in Romans 8:28 is yearning for. Evans lives in a place where our lives can be completely hosed, but at least God felt bad for us while He was making a hash of our little lives. “Don’t worry!” this kosmic klutz king says to us. “You didn’t deserve any of that!” These tornadoes are slippery.

But then, taking back with one hand what she just gave with the other, only a few lines later, Rachel Held Evans says that “God never fails.” Really? He protects the innocent from tornadoes, and tsunamis, and volcanoes, predatory ministers, and He never fails? Why, then, do they still happen?
That, in a nutshell, is how you deny the cat.

My Way - Ginsburg says Roe gave abortion opponents target |

One of the most liberal members of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could be expected to give a rousing defense of Roe v. Wade in reflecting on the landmark vote 40 years after it established a nationwide right to abortion.

Instead, Ginsburg told an audience Saturday at the University of Chicago Law School that while she supports a woman's right to choose, she feels the ruling by her predecessors on the court was too sweeping and gave abortion opponents a symbol to target. Ever since, she said, the momentum has been on the other side, with anger over Roe fueling a state-by-state campaign that has placed more restrictions on abortion.

"That was my concern, that the court had given opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at relentlessly," she told a crowd of students. "... My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum that was on the side of change."

The ruling is also a disappointment to a degree, Ginsburg said, because it was not argued in weighty terms of advancing women's rights. Rather, the Roe opinion, written by Justice Harry Blackmun, centered on the right to privacy and asserted that it extended to a woman's decision on whether to end a pregnancy.

Hershael York - Preaching Points: Aim for the Ear! |

Don't preach as would a writer; preach as a preacher! Preachers who fail to appreciate the vast difference between their oral craft and writing usually display very different understandings of their task—centered in the pulpit and congregation for one and in the desk and study for the other. . . . 

Preachers who preach as writers make three critical mistakes:

They focus more on wordcraft than on heart connection. Imagine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. standing before the great statue of our 16th president and reading the words of his speech with no emotion, no lilt of his voice, no quaver in the phrase: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" What if he had contented himself just to read the words and not deliver them with his personality? What if, in fact, he had merely printed the manuscript and passed it out?The words King wrote were certainly powerful by themselves, but when transmitted through him, they remain so strong that reading them 50 years later, we still hear his sonorous voice because he connected with more than words. He connected with our hearts.

Glenn T. Stanton - FactChecker: Does Abba Mean Daddy? | Apparently not.

This origin of this understanding is generally traced to the notable German Lutheran New Testament scholar Joachim Jeremias who in his 1971 text New Testament Theology explained that abba was "the chatter of a small child... a children's word, used in everyday talk" and seemingly "disrespectful, indeed unthinkable to the sensibilities of Jesus' contemporaries to address God with this familiar word" (p. 67).m While Jeremias did not use the word "daddy" or "papa" in relation to abba, the implication was strong and others came along to make that connection.

But other Hebrew and New Testament scholars have taken exception with this understanding.
University of Fribourg's Georg Schelbert critiqued Jeremias' assertion in a 1981 essay and then later in a 2011 book-length treatment entitled ABBA Vater. He contends that Jeremias' interpretation is in "error" and "unwarranted." He elaborates,

In the Aramaic language of the time of Jesus, there was absolutely no other word [than Abba] available if Jesus wished to speak of or address God as father. Naturally such speaking of and addressing thereby would lose its special character, for it is then indeed the only possible form!
This is because, as we shall see, abba means either "father" or one's own father. Schelbert explained that Jeremias even adjusted his earlier understanding in the face of critical peers.

Christianity Today - 7 in 10 Christians Killed Worldwide Last Year Came from Just One Country? |

Amid another surge of violence in Nigeria, the idea of an amnesty deal between the Nigerian government and militant Islamist group Boko Haram has the support of Christian president Goodluck Jonathan. But the proposal is firmly opposed by most Christian groups in the West African nation.

Following calls to offer amnesty to Boko Haram in exchange for the end of its terror campaign against Christians and other targeted groups (including the government, whose military has often been heavy-handed with militants), Jonathan has commissioned a 25-member presidential committee to examine how a pardon could be implemented

The Vanguard newspaper reports that "some Nigerians believe amnesty would entice those among the terrorists who are tired to rejoin normal society as law abiding citizens. They buttress their argument by pointing to the calming effect the policy had in the Niger Delta." (Delta militants have threatened to target Boko Haram themselves.)

Are press conferences going the way of the dinosaur?

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