Monthly Archives: September 2010

Grace precedes all

To put Calvin’s later position in Pauline terms: Grace (Abraham) came first, and the law that came through Moses did not nullify the promise but was a means toward the fulfillment of the promise. Grace is prior to law not only in Israel’s history, but in “the grammar of creation. God’s grace, in covenant love, creates Adam for covenant love and then lays him under unconditional obligations, warning him of the consequences which would follow ‘if’ he transgresses these commandments.” Federal theologians generally said instead that the covenant was added to a natural Adam, an Adam possessed of the natural law but not yet a recipient of God’s covenant love. Before that happens, he must pass the test of obedience.

Read the whole post: Peter J. Leithart » Blog Archive » Trinity, Nature/Grace, FV.

Redemption in Luke and others

Here is a pretty cool post on Luke’s beginning and ending from Chris Kou:

Awenydd » Jesus is the Bread of Life: Lukan Bookends.

Let me add to it:

  • And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
  • But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.

“Redeem,” here, means liberate, rescue, free.

Stephen used the word the same way, referring to Moses and, as the greater Moses, Jesus:

“This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’”

Paul used the word to be freed from one’s own sinful behavior:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

Likewise, the Apostle Peter writes (I’m amending the ESV):

“And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were redeemed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

Your native society’s way of life was Egypt and Jesus has liberated you from it.

How dare the outsider speak to us

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?.”

Thus spake Stephen to the Sanhedrin. Stephen was a “Greek,” someone from outside Judea. He may have been a proselyte or the son of a proselyte. His ancestry probably did not go back to Abraham or the Israelites at the time of the exile. And he is preaching to “pure blood” Jews.

That had to hurt.

How does one fail to keep the law?

In Acts 7 Stephen preaches to those “who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

What does this mean? Did they try real hard but fail to measure up? Did they struggle to keep the law but find it was too difficult? Did they find that the law demanded absolutely perfect obedience without offering the forgiveness of sins, so that it was impossible to keep?


They hated it and did not want to keep it and rejected and killed those who spoke of it on God’s behalf:

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Another great thing the Bible doesn’t say

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the preaching of the word.

Or maybe the classification system is just more caste guesswork

Kids, who are gifted with one talent or the other, are just as likely to fail in life as succeed, revealed a new study.

As part of one of the most extensive studies carried out, research found that out of 210 gifted children, only 3% were found to fulfil their early promise.

Professor Joan Freeman, said that of 210 children in her study, “maybe only half a dozen might have been what we might consider conventionally successful.”

via Gifted kids as prone to failure as to success – Lifestyle – DNA.

The whole rest of the article is nothing but anecdotes and speculation. The firm data is that the classification given to a child in the education system is worthless for the purposes of knowing anything about your child’s future.

How many children are classified at the other end and fail throughout life because they are led to think that they will?

Again: take the red pill.

As the education bubble nears explosion: “We will keep our caste system airtight.”

Phillip L. Clay, M.I.T.’s chancellor, said in an interview that a college degree was probably not required for Ms. Jones’s entry-level job in the admissions office when she arrived in 1979. And by the time she was appointed admissions dean in 1997, Professor Clay said, she had already been in the admissions office for many years, and apparently little effort was made to check what she had earlier presented as her credentials.

“In the future,” he said, “we will take a big lesson from this experience.”

via Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie – New York Times.

According to Wikipedia:

Marilee Jones (born June 12, 1951) is a former dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the co-author of the popular guide to the college admission process Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006).[1] The book received critical acclaim and Jones was featured on CBS, National Public Radio, USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,[2] and The Boston Globe.[3] Jones resigned from her position in 2007 when it became known she had fabricated her academic degrees from Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on a job application in 1979 and she had added a fabricated degree to her resume from Albany Medical College sometime “after she was hired.”[4] The Times characterized Jones’s earlier prestige as “the guru of the movement to tame the college-admissions frenzy.”[5] The Boston Globe called her “the most celebrated and outspoken admissions dean in America.”[6]

In 2001, Jones received MIT’s Excellence Award for Leading Change, which recognized Jones’s leadership as dean of admissions. An excerpt from the presentation reads:

Because of Marilee’s leadership and passion, the message of: “science in the service of mankind,” now resonates among generations of students. She helps students understand that they have a responsibility as members of society, to utilize their skills and talents to make a difference in the world. Marilee has also been visionary in her approach towards admissions strategies and processes, incorporating faculty and alumni perspectives, and the concerns and interests of prospective students and their parents.[24]

Jones also received MIT’s Gordon Y. Billard Award “for special service of outstanding merit performed for the Institute”[25] in 2006.

The NY Times piece also reports:

Rachel Ellman, who studies aerospace engineering, said, “I feel like she’s irreplaceable.”

Ms. Jones had received the institute’s highest honor for administrators, the M.I.T. Excellence Award for Leading Change, and many college admissions officers and high school college counselors said yesterday that whatever her personal shortcomings, her efforts deserved respect.

“She’s been working and presenting a lot of important ideas about our business,” said Rod Skinner, director of college counseling at Milton Academy, the Massachusetts prep school. “What I’m hoping is that the quality of the research and the book will hold up.”

Ms. Jones was hired by the admissions office in 1979 to recruit young women, who at the time made up only 17 percent of the institute’s undergraduates, compared with nearly half today.

Since she entered the field, admissions to M.I.T. and other elite institutions have become increasingly competitive, and she made her mark with her efforts to turn down the flame of competition.

But don’t worry the educational establishment is dealing carefully with the important lessons learned here:

Jones’ case demonstrates flaws in the hiring and promotion systems currently in place at MIT. It may be unreasonable to expect the Institute to thoroughly check the background of all new employees at all levels. But it is the Institute’s responsibility to find a practical solution so that this kind of situation does not arise again.

Right. We can’t let people know our academic requirements are nothing but union gates to artificially lift up our prestige and pay scales. We can’t let people know that our education system is just another caste prison that exists for the sake of those who are presently in power.

Take the red pill, people.

What kind of society will be able to help those in need?

I’m not capable of listing every quality of such a society. But I do know one prerequisite:

Each individual must, all things being equal, believe it is a duty, privilege, and/or virtue to produce more than he/she consumes.

Is there any chance at all that such a society can continue to exist under the rule of a welfare state?  When politicians forcefully take from some and give to others (in the hopes of their continued support in voting and propaganda) what kind of society is formed?

Not the kind that will actually support the needy.

Repost: The problem in the contemporary Reformed Evangelical churches

The problem in many contemporary Evangelical Reformed churches is the widespread and institutionalized disbelief that faith and faith alone justifies a sinner in God’s sight. Faith cannot be sufficient. There must be some ritual and some existential crisis, some courageous act of commitment, which puts one right with God.

The secondary problem is the (not as widespread) relunctance to warn God’s people, professing believers, that they must continue in faith in order to be saved, that a true faith not only rests on Christ, but treasures the promises and trembles at the warnings in God’s Word. Thus, once one has made the heroic leap of faith into a justified state, one must never ever be warned or exhorted to pursue what God has promised and reject the temptations of unbelief.

This combination means that anyone who affirms sola fide will find himself the victim of untrue claims that he doesn’t exhort his congregation to faith and repentance rather than leaving them complacent. It also means, that when it is admitted he in fact does make such exhortations, he will be accused of “legalism” and again be portrayed as an enemy of the Gospel.