Extreme Right Politics + Christianity = Loony

I had a Facebook interaction that I found so amusing I decided to share with all of you. First, a little background. I went to a semi-conservative undergrad, the sort of place where professors are tolerant of views both more liberal and more conservative than their own but the official positions of the school say all the “right” things. I’m Facebook friends with a former classmate of mine who even then displayed a certain level of mental instability. I recall the stunned and awkward silence as he gave his sermon in our preaching class and used it to suggest that Christians should support the summary execution of any person who engages in homosexual activity. He was one of those people who espouses extreme views, but simultaneously is generally very nice and otherwise pleasant to be around. Even though I know it is futile, from time to time I attempt to comment on his more extreme postings and nudge them back towards some sense of sanity. It was his response to my gentle prodding which is prompting me to write this post. His comment is many things: loony, bizarre, uncharitable, and sad, but above all it is sort of hilarious. This man made a post about how he will enjoy murdering U.N. troops when they come to take over the U.S. for their “One World Tyranny.” I suggested that such an attitude does not correspond to the advice given by Jesus in the Gospels. I reproduce his response in its entirety:

Right, like Jesus Christ Himself [sic] wasn’t a Radical [sic]. Like He didn’t say to “put away you [sic] sword” for later use. Not Get[si..oh nevermind] Rid Of It! Like We Aren’t Supposed To Fight Tyranny And Evil… Dude, Your Social Justice Christianity has your head screwed on wrong. I am Scripturally Sound and your wanna help Pussify The Nation God Gave Us And Turn It Over To The Evil Of EDOM HE HATES. Go Ahead, But Not This Republic. Move To Canada Where Pussification Has Already Taken Hold But Don’t Dare Try To Un-Do The Christian Nation God Has Blessed Me With. Your Liberal B.S. Is Exactly Why Our Troops Get Spat Upon In Airports By Those Claiming To Love Our Country Then Turn Around And Fist Those Of Us With Balls Enough To Defend Her. Perhaps You Don’t Dig My Kind Christianity But At Least My Balls Have Dropped Enough To Be A Good American Hard Core. Time To Grow Up And See It’s Not All About Love And Flowers J.B.[that's me] … Perhaps It Is That You Just Never Knew Who I Am? I Use Scripture As A Sword… You Must Be An Awfully Protected Guy Not To Have Your Eyes Open To Reality Yet. Grow Up.

Is it wrong that I cracked up reading that?

Jim West is giving something other than disdain away

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.

Lisa Frank Joins Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church

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.

A Song For NASCAR Jesus

Words fail me.

From the Dilettante Files: Prismatic Theology

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.

Did Clement, Bishop of Rome, Write or Quote from Hebrews?

I’m continuing to work through the fantastic Apostolic Fathers: An Introduction edited by Wilhelm Pratscher, and one of the truly fantastic parts of this book is that every chapter has a section on intertextuality. Besides being a generally fascinating subject, it is important for how we conceive of Christianity in the earliest of the early church. In the chapter on 1 Clement written by Andreas Lindemann, the relationship between 1 Clement and Hebrews is briefly explored:

The special similarity between 1Clem [sic] and Hebrews was recognized even in the early church. Eusebius writes (HEIII 38.1-3) that the fact that the author of 1Clem cites Hebrews means that Hebrews cannot be a “young” text; he also refers to the similarity of style and thought. Origen concluded from [i.e. according to] Eus VI 25.14 that people saw Clement of Rome (or even Luke) as the author of Hebrews. (pg. 59)

The section of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History Lindemann refers to is specifically dealing with what Origen has argued about the nature and authorship of the scriptures. It contains some interesting features like the claim of Matthean priority and the denial of the authenticity of 2 Peter. The section referred to above says:

11. In addition he makes the following statements in regard to the Epistle to the Hebrews in his Homilies upon it: “That the verbal style of the epistle entitled ‘To the Hebrews,’ is not rude like the language of the apostle, who acknowledged himself ‘rude in speech’ but that its diction is purer Greek, any one who has the power to discern differences of phraseology will acknowledge.
12. Moreover, that the thoughts of the epistle are admirable, and not inferior to the acknowledged apostolic writings, any one who carefully examines the apostolic text will admit.”
13. Farther on he adds: “If I gave my opinion, I should say that the thoughts are those of the apostle, but the diction and phraseology are those of some one who remembered the apostolic teachings, and wrote down at his leisure what had been said by his teacher. Therefore if any church holds that this epistle is by Paul, let it be commended for this. For not without reason have the ancients handed it down as Paul’s.
14. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans, wrote the epistle, and of others that Luke, the author of the Gospel and the Acts, wrote it.” But let this suffice on these matters. (Schaff, Eus VI 25.11-14)

Lindemann continues:

To be sure, neither agreement by citation nor other references to the text allow for the assumption of a direct literary relationship. But the similarity of 1Clem 36.2-5 to Hebrews 1:3-5, 7, 13 is so great that the use of Hebrews by 1Clem must still be considered possible.

Placing the texts side by side the similarity is obvious.

1 Clement 36.2-5

Hebrews 1:3-5, 7, 13

2By Him we look up to the heights of heaven. By Him we behold, as in a glass, His immaculate and most excellent visage. By Him are the eyes of our hearts opened. By Him our foolish and darkened understanding blossoms up anew towards His marvelous light. By Him the Lord has willed that we should taste of immortal knowledge, who, being the brightness of His majesty, is by so much greater than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.3 For it is thus written, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.

4 But concerning His Son the Lord spoke thus: Thou art my Son, today have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.

5 And again He saith to Him, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.

3He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.  5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?

7 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.”

13 But to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

Ante-Nicene Fathers

NRSV

Lindemann notes some differences that detract from the idea of a close relationship between texts. Specifically, both 1 Clement and Hebrews use the language of “high priest” to describe Jesus, but they do so in divergent ways. Lindemann suggests that it is possible that the author of 1 Clement knew Hebrews 1, but not the rest of the letter. All in all, it is a rather complicated issue. There seems to be a clear relationship, but the extent of the relationship is anything but clear.

The Didache: Still Relevant

I’ve been working my way through the fantastic book edited by William Pratscher called The Apostolic Fathers: An Introduction. I am loving this book, especially its in depth interaction with German scholarship on the Apostolic Fathers. When I was reading the chapter on the Didache, I couldn’t help but think that the Didache had practical advice on sorting out good prophet (or preacher) from bad. Here is Jonathon Draper’s discussion:

The prophet speaking in the name of God must be heard and obeyed, but not everyone who claims to be a prophet is in fact a prophet, as Did [sic] also recognizes (11.8). This creates a dangerous situation indeed, for any community. Deuteronomy institutes the test of fulfillment of the prophecy, and this is interpreted by Did [sic] in terms of the lifestyle of the prophet (as also in Matt 7:15-23, “You will know them by their fruits”). The “way of life of the Lord” (τοὺς τρόπους κυρίου) differentiates the true from the false prophet (e.g., 11.9-10, 12). (Pratscher, 17)

I recommend you read the whole section of the Didache that deals with these issues 11.3-13.7, but here are some highlights from Holmes’ translation:

11.4 Let every apostle who comes to you be welcomed as if he were the Lord. 5 But he is not to stay more than one day, unless there is need, in which case he may stay another. But if he stays three days, he is a false prophet. 6 And when the apostle leaves, he is to take nothing except bread until he finds his next night’s lodging. But if he asks for money, he is a false prophet. [emphasis mine throughout] 7 Also, do not test or evaluate any prophet who speaks in the spirit, for every sin will be forgiven, but this sin will not be forgiven. 8 However, not everyone who speaks in the spirit is a prophet, but only if he exhibits the Lord’s ways. By his conduct, therefore, will the false prophet and prophet be recognized.

11.12 But if anyone should say in the spirit, “Give me money or anything else, do not listen to him. But if he tells you to give on behalf of others who are in need, let no one judge him.

While the whole not questioning prophets bit won’t get my seal of approval, the rest of the advice is quite sound. If someone asks for money or displays a lifestyle devoid of Christian virtue, then they are false. If people just followed this advice, there wouldn’t be a televangelist left on TV within a month.

When Love of Israel Trumps All Else

I’ve been aware of John Hagee’s particular brand of insanity for quite some time. Back in the day, I’d watch his preaching on one of the 15 Christian satellite stations that DirecTV had at the time. I was never really in tune with him, but I found his preaching style to be entertaining. It quickly became apparent that he had some bizarre views, even to my much more conservative past self. It’s been several years since I’ve kept up with Hagee, and, aside from the stuff that came up during McCain’s campaign, he hasn’t crossed my mind in years. Recently, however, I read Gary Burge’s interesting book Jesus and the Land, and in it he discusses the lengths to which Hagee has gone to defend Israel. Frankly, I was astonished that even Hagee would go so far.

[P]erhaps the most strident spokesperson for this view [Christian zionism] today is John Hagee, pastor of San Antonio’s large Cornerstone Church. His most revealing books are Jerusalem Countdown (2005, rev. 2007) and In Defense of Israel: The Bible’s Mandate for Supporting the Jewish State (2007), both providing specific political application to a Zionist reading of the Bible. Today In Defense of Israel can be found for sale in Wal-Mart stores across America and is sold throughout Europe. His defense of Israel has now become so extreme that he preaches that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah (he will become the Messiah at his Second Coming). This means that Judaism never rejected “the Messiah” because they could not reject something that was never offered. (Burge, p. 123)

I have no words. I am disturbed that such a man is pastor to a claimed 19,000 people. Μαρανα θα!

The Aluminum Scroll #6 – The Problem with Inerrancy Part 2

Resource Request: Samaritan Edition

The last year or so I’ve spent a lot of time and energy focusing on historical backgrounds. I’ve read a lot of discussions about Jewish intertestimental literature and the Jewish relationship to the Roman Empire. Today, while reading about 1st-century Jewish attitudes toward the land of Palestine in the midst of Roman occupation, I started to wonder how Samaritans thought about and responded to Roman occupation. For some reason, I’ve never heard anything like that discussed nor come across it in my reading. Can anyone recommend an article or book chapter that deals with Samaritan views of occupation? I honestly don’t even know if any ancient texts beside the Samaritan Pentateuch survive. I likewise was wondering if we have Samaritan examples of the apocalyptic genre. Any of you brilliant folks know of anything?

© Jeremiah and Ashleigh Bailey 2012