Saturday, February 16, 2013

Brian McLaren Vs Isaiah

 Brian Mclaren says,
This eschatological understanding of a violent Second Coming leads us to believe that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion… If we remain charmed by this kind of eschatology, we will be forced to see the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels as a kind of strategic fake-out, like a feigned retreat in war, to be followed up by a crushing blow of so-called redemptive violence in the end. The gentle Jesus of the First Coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent Second Coming. This is why I believe that many of our current eschatologies, intoxicated by dubious interpretations of John’s Apocalypse, are not only ignorant and wrong, but dangerous and immoral.

Isaiah says,
It is the LORD with his instruments of judgment, coming to destroy the whole earth. Wail, for the LORD’s day of judgment is near; it comes with all the destructive power of the sovereign judge. For this reason all hands hang limp, every human heart loses its courage. They panic– cramps and pain seize hold of them like those of a woman who is straining to give birth. They look at one another in astonishment; their faces are flushed red. Look, the LORD’s day of judgment is coming; it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, destroying the earth and annihilating its sinners....I will punish the world for its evil, and wicked people for their sin. I will put an end to the pride of the insolent, I will bring down the arrogance of tyrants. I will make human beings more scarce than pure gold, and people more scarce than gold from Ophir.  So I will shake the heavens, and the earth will shake loose from its foundation, because of the fury of the LORD who commands armies, in the day he vents his raging anger.” (Isa 13:5–13)

Life behind the glass partition

Richard Dawkins
I feel sorry for the Pope and all old Catholic priests. Imagine having a wasted life to look back on and no sex.

Of course, I’m no fan of the papacy or the Roman priesthood. That said:

i) Some priests lead double lives. And you doubless have some priests who were sexually active as teenagers, before they took their vows. In addition, some Catholic widowers enter the priesthood.

ii) Within the framework of atheism, what does it mean to waste your life? What’s the standard of comparison? “Wasted” in contrast to what?

I suppose Dawkins is suggesting that since we only get one shot at life, we should make the most of our brief, unrepeatable opportunity. And a priest is missing out on the best this life has to offer.

But atheists keep assuring us that even though human existence has no objective purpose or value, yet as long as we take satisfaction in whatever we’re doing, our life is meaningful to us. Well, then, if a man finds personal fulfillment in the priesthood, how is that a wasted life?

Maybe Dawkins would say he’s devoting his life to an illusion. So what? Many people love fantasy. They love opera, novels, movies, music videos, and other fictitious entertainment. They prefer fantasy to reality. They immerse themselves in science fiction. They find real life banal.

Does Dawkins think they are wasting their life? If so, who is he to judge?

iii) There’s something ironically Christian about Dawkins’ indictment. From a Christian standpoint, it is possible to squander the gift of life. To blow your opportunities. To fall short of the goal. To drop out of the race before you cross the finish line. To lead a misdirected life. An aimless life or a life with the wrong aims. That’s the tragedy of a godless lifestyle.

iv) Suppose you had a happy life, as Dawkins defines it. What’s so wonderful about looking back on life if you have nothing to look forward to in life? If your best days are behind you, how does looking back on life give you a sense of satisfaction? Wouldn’t your memories be a curse?

Consider life from a godless vantage point. Life is like a room with a bulletproof glass partition. We are born into a big spacious room. We have all that space ahead of us. That’s our future. Wide open with boundless opportunities and awaiting discoveries.

Behind us lies the glass partition. That’s our past. When we’re born, the space behind the glass partition is just a sliver.

But as we pass through the lifecycle, the past and future distribution steadily shifts. What lies ahead contracts in proportion to what lies behind. Ever more of our life lies behind the glass partition. Through the window of memory we can see our past, but the partition blocks us from reexperiencing the past. That’s unrepeatable. Irrevocable. Out of reach.

Sometimes we wish we could go back for a visit. Repeat our favorite days. Or take the other fork in the road we passed by the first time around. But it’s too late. No encores. No second chances.

As we age, the partition advances. The partition is pushing us towards the wall. Pushing us ever closer to the other side of the room. The room becomes increasingly cramped. When we look ahead, we see the encroaching wall. When we look around, we see tantalizing glimpses of our long lost past, stretching back into the receding distance, behind the impenetrable glass partition. If we had a happy life, we’re taunted by what we see. By what we miss. Futile yearnings.

Near the end of life our remaining days become claustrophobic. We’re trapped in the crawl space between the present and a few feet or inches of the future. The partition is pressing against us. Crushing us. Squeezing the life out of us. We take shallow breaths. Gasp for air. Our face is smack against the wall. And then we’re gone. 

Brain Wars

Last month I read Mario Beauregard's Brain Wars (HarperOne 2012). Chaps 6-8 provide further corroboration for Braude and Sheldrake. It's a useful weapon against scientific materialism.

As usual, I think it's important to distinguish between the raw evidence and the theoretical explanation. His book is useful for his documentation. He often quotes from research scientists at Ivy League institutions. The value of the book lies in the case studies.

The weakness of the book lies in his theoretical explanation. He favors a quasi-Buddhist panpsychism, where our "little selves" tap into the cosmic mind or collective consciousness or whatever.

Ironically, his explanation isn't even consistent with his material on NDEs and OBEs, where, according to his own description, the subject retains personal identity, a first-person viewpoint. The "little self" is the real self, and not a drop in the ocean.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Disunity Of Paranormal Phenomena

People often cite near-death experiences, séances, and other paranormal phenomena as evidence against Christianity. Supposedly, what we learn about subjects like salvation and the afterlife from such phenomena is inconsistent with what Christians have traditionally believed. I've addressed that argument in the past.

One of the points I've made is that the apparent inconsistencies within Christianity are far less significant than the apparent inconsistencies among near-death experiences and other paranormal phenomena. People often misleadingly lump non-Christian phenomena together as some sort of unified competitor to Christianity. The phenomena are often presented as being much more consistent than they actually are. In a recent interview with Chris Carter, Alex Tsakiris was emphatic on the point. Tsakiris isn't a Christian, and he often argues against Christianity. But that makes his acknowledgement of the inconsistencies among paranormal phenomena more significant. I'm going to include Carter's side of the discussion, even though I think Tsakiris is closer to the truth:

God's just judgments

I'm going to repost some comments  I left at Justin Taylor's blog:

steve hays
February 13, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Rauser simply rejects OT theism and the authority of Scripture. Rauser rejects Yahweh.

It’s futile to drive a wedge between Jesus and the OT, for Jesus reaffirmed the OT as the word of God. Likewise, it’s futile to drive a wedge between Jesus and Yahweh, for Jesus is Yahweh Incarnate.

Also, keep in mind that Jesus is the eschatological Judge of unbelievers as well as the Redeemer of believers.

To say that herem is human sacrifice is equivocal and deceptive. Human sacrifice has connotations of appeasing gods through killing humans. That’s a pagan concept.

steve hays
    February 14, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Caleb G.

    “This is a non-starter because it appears to me that you are asserting that anyone who interprets these narratives or the character of God differently is not a Christian.”

    That’s a typically ploy. However, Rauser doesn’t offer an alternative interpretation of the narratives. Rather, he rejects the narratives. He takes the position that the narratives falsely ascribe certain commands to God. That’s not interpreting the narratives differently. That’s interpreting the narratives the same way, but disbelieving them.

    “I could be wrong, but I don’t recall where the Scripture ever refer to themselves as the Word of God. The Word of God usually means a verbal proclamation not something written down.”

    You should read some of Warfield’s classic essays on the inspiration of Scripture, where he documents the equation.

    “You can make rhetorical statements about a wedge, but the fact still remains that the God revealed in Jesus who commanded us to love our enemies and let the children come to him, stands in start contrast to commands to ‘let nothing breathing remain alive’ including infants.”

    i) Executing the Canaanites wasn’t hateful. You’re creating a false dichotomy.

    ii) For some odd reason, people like you single out a one command of Jesus, while ignoring others. Jesus didn’t merely command us to love our enemies. He also commanded us to love our neighbors and honor our parents. But there are situations in which loving your enemy conflicts with loving your neighbor, if your enemy is threatening your neighbor (to take one instance).

    iii) Commanding the execution of Canaanite children isn’t an indictment of Canaanite children. Collective judgment is not a personal judgment on each individual in the collective. For instance, some devout Jews suffered horribly as a result of the Babylonian Exile. God wasn’t judging those individuals. But since human beings are social creatures, it isn’t possible to visiting divine judgment on a corrupt society without a degree of innocent suffering.

    “By pagan do you mean originated in non-Israelite cultures?”

    No, I didn’t say that.

    “The word herem is used in the Old Testament to indicate an act of devotion to a deity, in this case YHWH. In some places this refers to destroying material items. Do a word study as to how this word is used throughout the Pentateuch. It is portrayed as a sacrifice. In Joshua the whole city Jericho was to be ‘herem’ – devoted to destruction, including the men, women, and children inside. Thus the book of Joshua portrays the killing of the inhabitants of Jericho as a sacrifice.”

    You’re simply repeating the same mistake you made before while failing to interact with my argument: “Human sacrifice has connotations of appeasing gods through killing humans.”

steve hays
February 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm

You can’t appeal to “universal moral intuitions” to sideline certain OT commands, for the OT writers didn’t share your moral intuitions. If they did, these commands, which you find so offensive, wouldn’t be there in the first place. Your appeal to universal moral intuition is self-refuting in this context, for the very context furnishes evidence to the contrary.

Steve hays
February 14, 2013 at 11:05 am

There’s nothing to respond to. It’s incumbent on the questioner to how explain how he thinks OT herem is like jihad, before we can explain how they differ. It’s not my job to make his argument for him, then refute it.

    steve hays
    February 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    No, I don’t assume “the best of people” who impudently impugn the moral integrity of God’s word. The proper attitude is to assume the best of God’s word.

    No, you’re not entitled to stipulate “apparent similarities between God’s commands in the OT and Muslim jihad are clear enough.”

    If you’re going to level that accusation against the Bible, then it’s incumbent on you to articulate the alleged similarities.

steve hays
February 14, 2013 at 11:15 am

You haven’t given me anything to respond to. You need to formulate an argument. If you think jihad is comparable to herem, you need to spell out how you think they are comparable. Don’t throw out vague, unspecified comparisons, then demand that others should refute them.

James Bradshaw
February 14, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Since “everyone deserves God’s judgment” while (I assume) you consider yourself to be one of “God’s people”, doesn’t that imply you have the right to kill … well … anyone who ticks you off because you consider them an “enemy of God”?

In any rate, I see no difference between your warped theology and that of the Muslim fanatics. Same murderous mindset … different god.

    steve hays
    February 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    i) Your statement is illogical. For instance, a soldier can be guilty of some offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That doesn’t give me a right to punish him. I’m not a military tribunal.

    ii) Likewise, universal guilt doesn’t imply instant retribution.

    The fact that you “see” no difference between our theology and Muslim fanatics is just your unargued opinion.

James Bradshaw
February 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm

By the way, there are numerous passages that note that “God’s armies” were to say everyone, including infants and children. What crimes could a toddler commit for them to be deemed worthy of having their bodies sliced open with a sword?

    steve hays
    February 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Corporate judgment doesn’t imply that everyone is guilty. If the parents are guilty, the child can’t survive alone.
        James Bradshaw
        February 14, 2013 at 8:16 pm

        “If the parents are guilty, the child can’t survive alone.”

        Who says they have to be left alone?

        Raise and care for the children of the parents you just killed in the name of God.
            steve hays
            February 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm

            The soldiers who killed the parents should raise the kids? And how would that work out once the kids were old enough to realize their adoptive parents killed their biological parents?

Caleb G.
February 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

Jonathan states the problem crudely perhaps, but the basic point still stands. That the Pentateuch was written hundreds of years after the events they portray is the consensus of scholarship. This does not guarantee that the scholarly consensus is right, but it does put the burden of proof on you, Steve, so show that they are wrong.

For a summary of these issues and how a Protestant might work through them, I recommend Peter Enns’ essay in the book The Bible and the Believer.

    steve hays
    February 14, 2013 at 11:10 am

    That’s not the consensus of scholarship. That’s only the consensus of liberal scholars. So your appeal is arbitrarily selective.

    Consensus doesn’t create a presumption that consensus is true. That’s viciously circular. Consensus is not a substitute for argument.

    I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. What conservative scholarship have you read?

    The fact that you recommend Peter Enns tips your hand.

steve hays
February 14, 2013 at 12:59 am

Even if you could explain away the commands, that’s superficial. Thousands of children die every day from preventable causes. Some children die in natural disasters. God could prevent their premature death without violating anyone’s freewill. Some children die of cancer. God could prevent that without violating anyone’s freewill.

If you think God commanding the death of children is a problem, so is God allowing the death of children.

If, on the other hand, God is justified in allowing the death of children, then he’s justified in commanding their death. If they die at God’s command, someone else carries out the command, but God is behind the command. If they die of disease or starvation or natural disaster, God is ultimately behind their death. By not intervening, God ensures the outcome.

If you think the Bible is a problem, the world is a problem. Escaping the Bible doesn’t enable you to escape the world.


I’m using your own framework. How is God good in allowing X, but not good in commanding X? What is the morally relevant difference? Why is one consistent with divine goodness, but the other is not?

The question at issue is the death of children. You brought that up. Very well, then. How is God good if he allows children to die from preventable causes, but not good if he commands them to die?

steve hays
February 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Let’s take a NT example. Take Matthew 2. God foreknew, when he inspired Micah to deliver that prophecy, that God was painting a bull’s-eye on the back of the little kids in Bethlehem, hundreds of years later. God knew that Herod was going to use Micah’s prophecy as low-tech GPS to track the whereabouts of the Christchild. And Herod would murder all the kids to give himself a margin of error.

In fact, that probably bought Joseph some time to whisk Jesus and Mary out of Israel, while Herod’s henchmen were following the lead. Instead of looking for Jesus elsewhere, they were looking for Jesus in Bethlehem, but he had skipped town by the time they arrived. There’s a sense in which those children died so that Jesus would live. They deflected attention away from Jesus. Indeed, Herod probably called off the manhunt after massacring the children of Bethlehem, on the assumption that Jesus was somewhere among the pile of victims. He had all of them killed to make sure he got Jesus in the process.

Yet there’s another side to the story. There’d come a day when Jesus would die for others. Lay down is life so that others would enjoy eternal life. Sooner or later, all of us will die. The only hope any of us has, including the dead children of Bethlehem, is through salvation in Christ.

steve hays
    February 15, 2013 at 11:46 am


    “Thanks for your extended response. I don’t think the issue is simply ‘the death of children,’ the issue is the mass killing of children.”

    Thousands of children die every day around the world. If your objection is to children dying en masse, that happens all the time. Children are killed by murder, accident, disease, starvation, &c.

    Therefore, even if you could explain away the OT commands, you still have the real world situation to deal with. If children dying outside of Scripture is consistent with God’s character, why does Scripture present a special problem for God’s character?

    “You seem to be arguing that if God allows a person to carry out any action, He might as well have directly commanded the person to perform that action. But surely you don’t believe this. We would have to conclude that every sin God allows a person to commit might as well have been directly commanded by God, which is nonsense. For example, God allowed that Shechem rape Dinah in Genesis 34. But God did not directly command Shechem to rape Dinah. God did not desire for that to happen, or command for that to happen. Shechem’s action was contrary to God’s character. Similarly, Herod’s slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem was sin, was evil, was not commanded by God, and was contrary to God’s character. God’s character is portrayed, as you rightly described, in how God redeems that heinous action. So the question remains, how can God then command the Israelites to slaughter infants, actions that seem similar to that of sinful Herod, and not compromise His character?”

    i) To begin with, there’s no point discussing the issue in purely hypothetical terms, as if we were asking whether God would command such a thing. For the Bible does, in fact, attribute such commands to God. So we already crossed that bridge. There is no turning back. Clearly the Bible regards such commands as consonant with God’s character.

    All sides of this debate agree that Scripture attributes these commands to God. There are then different reactions to these Biblical ascriptions.

    You have Christians like Justin Taylor and Christopher Wright who defend the traditional interpretation as well as the moral propriety of God’s command.

    You have some Christians like Richard Hess and Matt Flanagan who question the traditional interpretation.

    You have liberals and atheists who accept the traditional interpretation, but reject the authority of Scripture.

    ii) Keep in mind that I don’t think God was commanding evil.

    iii) Suppose, for the sake of argument, the command to execute Canaanite children was an evil command. What makes that an evil command?

    Is it evil because it wrongs those who are tasked to carry out the command? Is it wrong because it makes them do evil?

    Or is it wrong because of the harm done to the victims? Or both?

    If the latter, children are harmed every day under God’s governance.

    iv) Let’s compare two different scenarios:

    a) A police chief orders his officers to make businessmen pay protection money to the police.

    b) A police chief knows that his officers are extorting businessmen to pay protection money to the police, but turns a blind eye to the shakedown racket.

    I don’t see a moral difference between what the police chief commands and what he allows.

    v) Back to Mt 2. God allowing Herod to massacre the kids was clearly in keeping with God’s character. If that was out of character, why would God allow it?

    In addition, God did more than letting it happen. God set into motion the conditions that would result in that outcome. God knew how Herod would use Micah’s prophecy. God was also responsible for the existence of Herod. God opens and closes the womb. So God intended that to happen.

    You can only deny that by denying other things. By denying God’s foreknowledge. By denying God’s providential role in conception and gestation (e.g. Ps 139).

    vi) Or take the Babylonian exile. That resulted in the death of many Jewish kids. Read Lamentations.

    Yet God didn’t merely permit that to happen. Lam 2 attributes that outcome to God. It makes God ultimately responsible. God was punishing covenant-breakers (Lam 4:10; cf. Deut 28:25,53-57). Babylonian and Assyrian kings attack Israel at God’s instigation (Isa 10:5ff.). They are instruments of his judicial will.

    vii) We need to distinguish between God’s intentions and the intentions of the perpetrators. God’s intentions are just, whereas the intentions of the perpetrators may be just or unjust.

    We also need to distinguish between something that’s sinful, and the good use that God can put to something that’s sinful.

Making the old man proud

I’m going to comment on this:

1) You are loved. Every boy needs to hear and know that his father loves him. Without this affirmation, a man carries deep wounds that affect his most important relationships. I’ve talked to men at all stages of life who yearn to hear those magic words that mean the most when they come from Dad: I love you. Today, my son is only four years old, so it’s easy for me to do this. I suspect as he gets older, it will become a bit more awkward. But I plan on doing it still. Behind the sometimes rough exterior of every young boy is a heart that longs to experience the love of his father. What you don’t realize is that the first image your boy will have of his Heavenly Father will be the image of the human father looking down on him. So tell your boy you love him.

Although there’s some truth to this, I think the emphasis is off. Hearing your father say he loves you is not the only way, or even the most important way, to experience a father’s love. While it’s probably good for sons to hear that, I think it’s more important to a son for his father to show love rather than verbalize love.

For one thing, there’s physical affection: hugs. To be demonstratively affectionate.

Over and above that, a son can experience a father’s love by the things they do together. Shared time doing things they both enjoy. Or the freedom a son should feel to talk about anything with his dad.

2) I’m proud of you. I can’t tell you how many men I know who, to this day, are still living their lives in search of their fathers’ approval. Down deep in their hearts they wonder, Am I good enough? Did I make it? Is Dad proud? I’m learning that it’s important for us dads to be hard on our sons in many ways (see below), but we should never withhold our approval. They need to know, at periodic junctures in their lives, that they measure up, that there is nothing they have to do to earn our favor. Sure, at times they will disappoint and they should know and feel this. And yet we should not be taskmasters who, in trying to motivate our sons to greatness, withhold the very ingredient that will fuel their success: confidence. I’m reminded of God’s approval of Jesus as His Son was baptized by John the Baptist. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17; Mark 19:35. Yes, there are important theological ramifications to that phrase beyond mere approval, but still I can’t help see God’s approval for Jesus as a model for our relationship with our sons. If your son doesn’t make Division 1, if he gets accepted into a school other than Harvard, if he becomes a truck driver instead of a pastor, don’t ever give him the impression you like him less. Don’t damage his soul this way.

Once again, there’s some truth in this, but I think we need to be more discriminating. Certainly it’s damaging to a son’s psychological development to feel constant disapproval from his dad. To feel that he never measures up. That nothing he does is ever good enough.

On the other hand, fathers shouldn’t make their sons emotionally beholden to them. Ultimately, God didn’t put us here to make the old man proud. Pleasing dad or measuring up to his expectations shouldn’t be your goal or motivation in life. 

That may be fine when you’re really young, and Dad is a placeholder for God, but as a son approaches adolescence, he needs to begin acquiring some emotional independence. He ought to transition from his father as a godlike-figure to God as a father-figure. Not only is that better for the son, but it’s better for the father. Just as fathers shouldn’t hold their sons to inhuman standards, sons shouldn’t hold their fathers to inhuman standards.

Christian fathers need to make it clear that dad is not the standard of comparison. In the long run, the only approval that counts is God’s approval.

The proud few are getting fewer

Guns for me but not for thee

Burn baby burn

Man of Steel

A follow-up exchange I had with Jeff Lowder at The Secular Outpost:

Jeffery Jay Lowder:

“Even if Hays were right about ‘immortal,’ which he is not…”

Notice that Jeff is merely asserting that I’m wrong, rather than demonstrating his claim.

“…he hasn't shown that the ‘Atoms or Schmatoms’ dilemma is false.”

To the extent that the alleged dilemma is predicated on misinterpretations of biblical prooftexts, that’s a false dilemma.

“Atoms (protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks, etc.) are not immortal.”

i) Jeff is committing the composition fallacy. To say that individual atoms are “mortal” does not entail that something made of atoms is mortal. To the extent that we define a body in terms of atoms, what makes a body immortal is not the constituent atoms, but the pattern. The pattern can be permanent even if the atoms are impermanent.

Jeff’s objection is equivalent to saying a one-mile stretch of river isn’t the same river an hour later due to the turnover of water molecules. Yet what makes it the same stretch of river isn’t the same water molecules, but the same overall pattern. Even if all the water molecules change over the course of an hour–with newer water molecules replacing previous water molecules–it’s the same stretch of river.

ii) BTW, for Jeff to say atoms are “mortal” is a category mistake. Atoms aren’t alive or dead. Even if you think biological life is reducible to atoms, atoms aren’t living entities.

iii) Likewise, if you define a person in terms of his memories, character traits, &c., you could transfer the same person to a different body. 

“So Hays is forced to move (unwittingly) to the "schmatoms" side, and, in so doing, deprive R of any testable implications.”

That only follows based on Jeff’s false dichotomy, where he arbitrarily defines atoms as mortal and shmatoms as immortal.

“Then, moving on, Hays' exegesis of Paul is idiosyncratic.”

Another assertion bereft of argument.

“This, in particular, is a huge inductive non-sequitur.”

Jeff posits a non-sequitur, then quotes me. But he gives no argument to justify his claim that my explanation was “a huge inductive non-sequitur.”

“He also overlooks the fact -- emphasized by Craig and others -- that Jesus is represented as saying that the resurrected are ‘like the angels in heaven.’”

Notice, once again, that Jeff isn’t presenting an actual argument. But let’s briefly examine the passage he’s alluding to:

“34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Lk 20:34-36, ESV).

i) In what respect are they like angels? What’s the comparison? In context, they are analogous to angels with respect to immortality.

ii) They are not analogous to angels with respect to incorporeity, for the passage says “worthy” humans will be resurrected. But angels won’t be resurrected. Angels don’t die. They don’t bodies. So the context involves a contrast between mortality and immortality, not between physicality and nonphysicality.

iii) That receives corroboration from 24:37-43, which goes out of its way to accentuate the physicality of the Resurrection.

iv) Keep in mind, too, that this passage has reference to levirate marriage. Mortality was the specific presupposition of levirate marriage. To replace a dead husband so that her widow could have kids by the brother-in-law. So, once again, the context involves a contrast between mortality and immortality, not between physicality and nonphysicality.

BTW, I’m interpreting the passage the same way as Lukan commentators like Joel Green, John Nolland, and C. F. Evans,

“But suppose Hays were right. Then the resurrected would be like Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her--immortal with skin peeling off, gaping holes in the stomach, deep wrinkles, etc.”

Jeff hasn’t even begun to explain how he derives that conclusion from what I wrote.

“Hays' statement: ‘there are hypothetical situations in which the body of a glorified saint would be vulnerable to injury or death.’ is laughable. If that's what the risen Jesus is like, that's pretty scary.”

This is the second time Jeff has said my argument is “laughable.” But adjectives are a sorry substitute for arguments. When is Jeff going to present something resembling an actual counterargument?

Jeff’s final paragraph simply repeats the same question-begging assertions he made before.

Jeffery Jay Lowder:

“Obviously 'imperishable' is equivalent to 'incorruptible,' and, therefore, is an antonym for 'corruptible.' Obviously, too, since whatever is incorruptible is immortal, one could use the stronger term 'incorruptible' instead of the weaker term 'immortal' in certain contexts, i.e., those in which it wouldn't matter that one was thereby saying more than merely that something is immortal, and thus, in only this sense, Hays is right to say ‘as such was also a common word for immortality.’…Just because 'aphtharsia' [incorruptibility], as a stronger term than 'athanasia' [immortality], can be used in the aforementioned contexts instead of that weaker term, it hardly follows that it is a synonym for it.”

Jeff keeps repeating the same mistake. He begins with his assumption that aphtharsia is conceptually equivalent to indestructibility. From this initial misstep, he proceeds to argue that indestructibility is a stronger concept than immortality. Therefore, the fact that Paul allegedly uses the weaker term doesn’t confine Paul’s analysis to the weaker term. For the weaker term is consistent with the stronger term, which goes beyond the weaker term.

But the problem with this argument is that Jeff hasn’t established on lexical or exegetical grounds that aphtharsia (“imperishable, incorruptible”) is a stronger term than “immortal.”

Is the concept of indestructibility synonymous with the concept of immortality? No, but that’s irrelevant–for Jeff keeps assuming what he needs to prove concerning the semantic import of the Greek word. He hasn’t even demonstrated that aphtharsia means “invincible.”

Moreover, there’s a difference between words and concepts. Jeff is operating with the concept of invincibility rather than the sense of the word. That commits the word-concept fallacy.

“Then, beyond this, clearly 'corruptibility' pertains to the ability of flesh to
undergo decay/decomposition; and, therefore, conversely, 'incorruptibility' pertains to the inability of flesh to undergo decay and decomposition. But disease, aging, and injury are all forms -- at the organ, tissue, cellular, and organelle levels -- of decay and decomposition. It thus follows that that which is incorruptible is incapable of disease, aging, and injury.”

i) Jeff is committing the word-concept fallacy.

ii) In addition, Jeff is equivocating. To say the glorified body is “incapable” of injury is ambiguous. For there are different kinds of impossibility.

iii) Apropos (ii), Jeff is raising a more specialized issue than 1 Cor 15 was designed to address. Paul wasn’t answering a question about whether or not the glorified body is fireproof, bulletproof, &c. He’s not dealing with hypothetical scenarios like that. Jeff is reading far more into the text than
Paul was discussing. Jeff is reframing the original discussion, as if Paul was answering a very different question.

By contrast Paul addressing the possibility of a resurrection. And he’s also discusses the resurrection of the body as an antidote to mortality.

“As I also wrote yesterday, Hays also overlooks the fact -- emphasized by Craig and others -- that Jesus is represented as saying that the resurrected are ‘like the angels in heaven.’ But angels are not merely immortal.”

I specifically responded to that objection. Jeff presents no counterargument.

“He provides no evidence for this claim, and Craig and others provide arguments for the exact opposite. (I do not have time to rehearse them here.)”

i) Craig is not a NT scholar, much less a Pauline scholar. Why should he be the first person we turn to interpret 1 Cor 15? When he did become the standard of comparison?

ii) Does Jeff not know what a divine passive is? That’s a standard construction in Biblical usage.

iii) “Raised in power” is a shorthand expression for what Paul previously said in the same letter: “And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Cor 6:14).

“The same holds for ‘glory.’”

In actuality, nothing holds for “glory,” inasmuch as Jeff fails to even explain, must less defend, his interpretation. As Pauline commentators like Thiselton, Rosner, and Ciampa point out, doxa here means “honor,” as the antonym for “dishonor,” in Paul’s antithetical parallelism. “Honor” is a relation, not a property. To be held in honor.

“It is bizarre and, therefore, hard to believe that Paul and the early Christians went around preaching that the dead would be merely raised 'immortal'! That would be a horrible curse! Imagine spending eternity like Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her: immortal but with skin peeling off, gaping holes in the stomach, deep wrinkles, Alzheimer's, etc. Who'd sign up for this kind of ‘salvation.’ Annihilation would be infinitely preferable!”

This is the third time Jeff has trotted out that movie. He keeps illustrating his flawed methodology. Once again, Jeff is committing the word-concept fallacy.

You can’t derive a full-blown concept of glorification from words like aphtharsia or doxa. Jeff is repeating the word-study fallacies that James Barr took to task in his celebrated review of Kittel.

“Then think about the Resurrected Jesus himself. If Hays were right and 'incorruptibility' meant nothing more than 'immortality,' then unfortunately for the Resurrected Jesus, he'd be, just like his followers, merely immortal with skin eventually peeling off, gaping holes in the stomach, deep wrinkles, etc. That would be a horrible fate for the Resurrected Jesus. After 500 years he'd look like a shriveled up prune, and he'd have such a bad case of Alzheimer's that he wouldn't remember who he was.”

i) Jeff is raising the question of whether glorification merely brings people back to life in the condition they were at the time of death. Likewise, he’s raising the question of whether glorification merely turns back the clock, so that a newly glorified body will undergo the same process of senescence all over again. Unfortunately, Jeff lacks the intellectual discipline or hermeneutical savvy to distinguish that question from what Paul is teaching in 1 Cor 15. But 1 Cor 15 is simply silent on many ancillary issues concerning the resurrection.

The question is whether glorification merely restores the dead to life, or whether it restores the dead to a pristine condition. I never said or suggested that glorification immortalizes the decedent’s physical condition at the time of death. But exegesis isn’t supposed to answer questions beyond the scope of the text. Jeff is trying to make Paul say more than he says.

“When he got out of the tomb on the first Easter Sunday -- I guess by kicking the stone ‘plug’ out of the entry passage and hurting his feet -- his enemies would easily recognize him and try to kill him. Since he'd be immortal, they couldn't succeed, but, since on Hays' view immortality is not freedom from disease, aging, and injury, the Resurrected Jesus' enemies could inflict a considerable amount of damage to his body (especially since he could only walk or run away on his painfully injured feet): they could cut off his arms, light him on fire, poke out his eyes, dip him in acid, pierce him with lances, give him a cold, leprosy, HIV, etc. The ‘Resurrected’ Jesus would still be ‘alive,’ but just barely. After they were through, no one would be able to recognize him. Whatever the precise details, this version of R has negligible power to explain the facts of Easter.”

i) I realize Jeff thinks that’s oh-so witty, but his witticisms are unwittingly witless. The doctrine of the resurrection is a theological construct, based on many lines of exegetical evidence. The fact that Jeff misinterprets and overinterprets 1 Cor 15 doesn’t mean my corrections yield his alternative. Unfortunately for him, Jeff lacks the critical detachment to distinguish his own framework from my framework. Because he equates atoms with resuscitation, he imputes his equation to me, to generate his cutesy parody. That’s yet another intellectual failing on his part. Apparently, Jeff is so conditioned by his own paradigm that he can’t even think outside his paradigm.

ii) BTW, Jesus was perfectly capable of defending himself against any and all assailants even before the Resurrection.

“So then the Resurrected Jesus -- although ‘raised in glory’ and immortal -- could die after all! This makes no sense!”

i) Why is Jeff unable to draw a rudimentary distinction between a hypothetical vulnerability and an actual vulnerability? Does he imagine that every hypothetical vulnerability is a live possibility?

ii) Moreover, as I already explained to him, something can be possible in one respect, but impossible in another. Does Jeff not understand counterfactuals?

To say, for instance, that a glorified body would combust if (ex hypothesi) heated to 20 million Kelvin is not to say that that’s a realistic prospect. Why is it necessary to keep explaining elementary distinctions to Jeff?

But Jeff’s biggest problem is that he needs 1 Cor 15 to mean certain things to provide an easy target for Cavin. So he tries to make it mean whatever he needs it to mean, rather than respecting the fairly limited parameters of Paul’s discussion.

Last among equals

I happen to think the pope's resignation could be an example of humility. He seems to have voluntarily stepped aside to make room for a successor because (among other reasons) he thinks to hang on as pope at this point would not be in his own best interests let alone the RCC's best interests. He doesn't think he's capable enough to lead the RCC any more. He doesn't think the RCC would do as well with him at its helm as it would with another. Or so it seems to me at this point.

At the same time, others better informed can of course correct me, but as far as I understand there is some tension or at least an unsettled dispute between the pope, the bishops, and councils (e.g. conciliarism) over who has the final authority in the RCC. For example, Win Corduan has documented a bit of this.

Now, the RCC has the doctrine of papal primacy in place. I take it Catholics see the papacy as central to the RCC since they believe Christ himself founded his church upon Peter.

However, if there is an unsettled dispute over final authority within the RCC, then, I wonder, why doesn't the pope step away from papal primacy? Instead of first among equals, why not adopt the attitude of last among equals? Isn't this the way of humility?

Or why not at least accept other bishops have equal authority to the pope, deferring to the judgment of all the bishops (including the bishop of Rome) on a matter? Generally speaking, aren't two brains better than one?

Why not let the bishops or councils have the final authority? Why insist on papal primacy? Why not step aside if the matter of final authority is in legitimate dispute? All things equal, isn't it better for a single man to decline authority and allow a group of (it would seem) equally qualified men (bishops, including himself) to exercise it?

Perhaps Catholics will counter all things aren't equal. Rather, to do so would conflict with the belief that Christ founded his church on Peter and gave the power to "bind and loose" to Peter. That it's hardly proud to abide by what Christ has instituted. After all, the pope is supposed to be the vicar of Christ.

But if there's an unsettled but legitimate dispute between the pope, the bishops, and councils over final authority in the RCC, then one might think there's room to consider the possibility that bishops or councils could have the final say-so for the RCC instead of the pope. Perhaps the interpretation of such passages may not be so clear cut. Further I would think other bishops could ask questions like, aren't all the apostles of Christ "vicars" of Christ? What makes the bishop of Rome so special as the vicar of Christ such that he is the sole vicar for the entire RCC whereas all the other bishops in apostolic succession are only bishops of their diocese?

But I'm obviously treading as gracefully as a bull in a china shop with respect to these matters. Not to mention coming across as woefully ignorant. However, I'm sure people like John Bugay, Matt Schultz, Jason Engwer, Steve Hays, etc. can weigh in far more knowledgeably than I ever could. So I'll stop now and defer to them if they or others wish to correct me or otherwise add their thoughts.

My pastor preaching a sermon on hope

Hope in hard times, Rev. Matt Koerber.

Meteor Hits Russia

Multiple videos here.

It seems to me that this may be a fragment related to the DA14 asteroid that is going to fly within 18,000 miles of the earth later today.

The Papacy: Neither Biblical Nor Historical

This month and next, we’ll all be treated in the media to the spectacle of another conclave to select another pope. The media will fail to understand the genuine historical roots of the papacy lie neither in the Bible, nor in the history of the earliest church, but rather were an exercise if self-admiration of the newly-rich bishops of Rome of the fourth and especially the fifth century.

Leonardo de Chirico, who wrote what Lane Keister called The Best Book On Roman Catholicism I Have Read, has posted Some Brief Thoughts from Rome on Benedict’s Resignation:

Vatican I (1870) sort of divinized the papacy by making the pope "infallible" when he exercises his teaching role. Now, Ratzinger's resignation "humanizes" it by showing that this office is like any other human responsibility, i.e. temporary and subject to human weakness. The hope is that this move will cause many Catholics to reflect on the nature of the Papacy beyond traditional dogmatic assertions. Is the Papacy a de iure divino (i.e. divine law) office or is it more of a historical institution? Is it a condition for Christian unity or rather an obstacle to it? And more radically: is it biblical at all?

Starting that last question, “is it biblical at all”, after an extensive discussion of the Biblical texts, Robert Reymond said:

Rome’s exegesis of Matthew 16 and its historically developed claim to authoritative primacy in the Christian world simply cannot be demonstrated and sustained from Scripture itself. This claim is surely one of the great hoaxes foisted upon professing Christendom, upon which false base rests the whole papal sacerdotal system. (“A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith,” pg 818).

Today’s media certainly has been fooled, and is passing along the hoax, unless some enterprising reporter would dare to investigate the latest scholarship on the papacy.

Is the Papacy a de iure divino (i.e. divine law) office or is it more of a historical institution? If it’s not biblical at all, then it’s certainly not “a de iure divino (i.e. divine law) office”.

But is it historical?

The last century-and-a-half of even Roman Catholic scholarship denies that it is “historical” (before the fourth and fifth centuries).

With his “theory of development”, Newman makes this important historical concession:

While Apostles were on earth, there was the display neither of Bishop nor Pope; their power had no prominence, as being exercised by Apostles. In course of time, first the power of the Bishop displayed itself, and then the power of the Pope. . . . St. Peter's prerogative would remain a mere letter, till the complication of ecclesiastical matters became the cause of ascertaining it. . . . When the Church, then, was thrown upon her own resources, first local disturbances gave exercise to Bishops, and next ecumenical disturbances gave exercise to Popes; and whether communion with the Pope was necessary for Catholicity would not and could not be debated till a suspension of that communion had actually occurred.... (Essay on the Development of Doctrine, Notre Dame edition, pg 151).

This “prerogative” that he speaks of remains “a mere letter” during the most critical, foundational centuries of the Christian church – if Newman is going to assert that it remained “a mere letter”, then where was the “letter”?

And Newman himself concedes that it had not been “ascertained” until “ecumenical disturbance” (one would think he’s talking about the Arian matters of the fourth century – this is the first time that the “mere letter” first became “ascertained”.

But where was the “letter”? If this existed, certainly it is incumbent upon Roman Catholics to show it.

But they can’t, and so they don’t. They merely continue to assert something that was never there.

I would hope, with de Chirico, that “this move will cause many Catholics to reflect on the nature of the Papacy beyond traditional dogmatic assertions.”

Jesus said to his disciples, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave”.

The papacy and its efforts to dominate Christianity and the world are a fourth- and fifth-century imposition by the “nouveau-riche” bishops of Rome upon the rest of Christianity. It is not a unifying factor; rather, it has been the most harmful and divisive institution in the history of the world. Its boastful yet vacuous claims of global domination have divided Christianity and damaged the witness of Christ in the world. It is my hope that the passing of the Wojtyla/Ratzinger era will represent another step towards oblivion for this selfish and un-Christlike institution.

An atheist in wonderland

John Loftus recently said:

I do ponder giving it up almost every single day now. It's enough getting attacked by several Christians who are threatened by my very existence, and much more so by my arguments. You should know that there are several sites set up just for personally maligning me. There are others who have made it their mission to spread lies about me. There have been Christians who have posed as me saying things on websites that are possibly criminal. Some have even openly prayed for me to die. I never know if someone who criticizes me is a Christian posing as an atheist, or an atheist. I can handle all of this, as maddening as it is, so long as I know there are people who appreciate and understand what I do. But even with this encouragement what I cannot take are atheists who take pot shots at me from behind. That's the final blow. It's just too much. I cannot fight battles on two different fronts. It's psychologically impossible. That's just me. I suspect it would be for most anyone. I also have a very hard time ignoring it.

Sorry, I've been having some misgivings about the research and experimentation lately. Maybe it stems from a sort of sympathetic fellow feeling from reading Flowers for Algernon one too many times. Maybe it's something else. Anyway, I feel the need to come clean now. In point of fact, there's no better time.

The truth, John, is you're basically a lab rat caught up in a scientific experiment. Its purpose was to come up with a workable model by which to test mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. As I trust you're aware, lab rats are a common go-to choice in scientific research. Naturally you were selected as an ideal specimen.

In the past other scientists have attempted to conduct this sort of experimentation via genetically engineered rats. Or surgically altered rodentia nervous systems. Or the administration of various pharmacological compounds. But it was thought a novel approach might prove more suitable and produce better results. Enter RoboRat. RoboRat is a robotic rat built to terrorize real-life lab rats.

Currently you opine attacks from within and without. You're mighty discouraged and sullen to say the least because you believe there are criticisms against you coming from "two different fronts": Christians and fellow atheists. But I'm afraid that's just your mistaken muroideal perception. There are no Christians or atheists attacking you. Or any real people attacking you at all. Rather they're just figments of your imagination. Indeed, the experiments on you have succeeded. They've succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

But the guilt is crippling me. How did I get myself into all this in the first place. How did I agree. And I can't bear seeing you in such a state. A state which would doubtless only worsen with continued experimentation. Worsen beyond the point of no return.

That's why I felt I had to break it to you at this point. It was either now or never. In fact, there might not be another chance to do so.

But, alas! There's no panacea in this knowledge. You may not get worse, I hope, but you certainly won't get better. The damage has already been done. Your all too fragile mind has been irreparably broken. You may be forever stranded in a PKD-esque world. You may never know where illusion ends and where reality begins. You may never know many other important truths again. Isn't this true?

However, I must hurry. Time is running out.

Here's where you take the red pill and see just how deep the rabbit hole goes. You're still trapped in your cage, typing this very message to yourself before the scientists return and disconnect the internet cabl..............................

(Posted on behalf of John Loftus.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Why Koine Greek Pedagogy is Behind the Times

So, where will the demand for fluency in ancient Greek come from? In my opinion, it will never come from the teachers, who are not fluent themselves and have already invested careers and publication in service of grammar-translation. They seem, by and large, satisfied with the status quo. It will also never come from college or seminary administrators, who seem to be doing all they can to streamline their degrees and make education ever more “practical.”
Rather, the demand must come from the grassroots. College students must protest the current system, which leaves them at the end of a 4-year program sorely lacking in the kind of fluency expected of their counterparts in the modern-language department. Seminary students must revolt against a 3-year program that gives them just enough knowledge of the languages to be dangerous. PhD students in classics and biblical studies should be rising up at the prospect of 3-10 years of postgraduate work in ancient texts that leaves them unable to read fluently and for pleasure in those languages.

Move Over Mounce (and Erasmus), There is a Better Way to Learn Koine Greek — and Hebrew!

It has been around for some time, but only recently has the Greek-Immersion movement picked up a lot of steam. The following are some websites that promote this pedagogy.

If you know anything about Koine Greek textbooks, then you'll know that Buth's method is far from traditional. The method for learning Greek today typically does not place emphasis on being able to understand spoken Greek. This missing emphasis on audio, however, doesn't seem to concern many. After all, the goal is to be able to read the New Testament in Greek, not hear it... right?


Obama’s Gangster Government

Mist and darkness

Like most, I talk to many people every day, and sometimes someone tells me they will try to figure out the meaning of life or whether God exists when they're older. Or when they've accomplished this or that goal in life. In any case, the answer is they'll work on it "later."

Besides, they say, it takes too much time for them right now to investigate these sorts of questions. After all, these are big, thorny questions. But they have other more pressing things to do like get a job, get married, buy a house, etc.

However, we obviously don't know when we'll die. Death could come at any moment for any of us. But we do or should know that sooner or later death will come for every one of us. That much is certain.

As such, no one can be totally certain they'll have enough time to explore these questions let alone figure out the answers. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed to anyone.

So, on the one hand, the living should know they will die. But on the other hand, many among the living live as if death is the least of their worries, even though it could occur at any moment.

The prospect of death should have a way of focusing one's priorities. But these days it seems buried beneath other concerns. Perhaps buried beneath life itself. Maybe many are too busy living and enjoying life to think about death. Maybe they don't want to think about death.

In fact, it's a bit striking to me how forgetful many are about death. I've met reckless youth and adults who have barely escaped the jaws of death, and have been utterly shocked by it. Of course, it is shocking in a large sense. But at the same time, I wonder, couldn't they foresee how their reckless behavior would lead to their near life-ending predicament?

Similarly, I've met elderly people in very poor health who have been utterly shocked by a diagnosis of a particular disease. Again, it is shocking in a large sense. But at the same time, given their personal profile, I wonder, why didn't they realize this would come sooner or later? It's not as if we will all live forever in perfect health.

Hence, when death does come, as it inevitably will, many people are ill prepared. Perhaps this is part of why it's such a huge shock. They never bothered to prepare because they never bothered to think about the prospect of their demise. So when the prospect becomes imminent, they're caught off-guard.

But in another sense, our mortality is a mercy. Death reminds us of who we are. It reminds us how small and helpless we are. How short our lives are. How dependent we are on forces greater than ourselves. A zillion things could easily end us (e.g. see here).

In short, we're but mists that appear for a little while only to vanish with the morning sun. We are weak and fragile. Our time is short; death is certain. In light of this, I think it'd behoove us to consider the things of most importance now rather than later.

Going off on a tangent

An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are staying in a hotel.

The engineer wakes up and smells smoke. He goes out into the hallway and sees a fire, so he fills a trash can from his room with water and douses the fire. He goes back to bed.

Later, the physicist wakes up and smells smoke. He opens his door and sees a fire in the hallway. He walks down the hall to a fire hose and after calculating the flame velocity, distance, water pressure, and trajectory, he extinguishes the fire with the minimum amount of water and energy needed.

Later, the mathematician wakes up and smells smoke. He goes to the hall, sees the fire and then the fire hose. He thinks for a moment and then exclaims, "Ah, a solution exists!" and then goes back to bed.

In slight contrast to the above joke, here is a post which shows how math can be used in medical or scientific research. As I recall, there are a couple of good examples in Tom Körner's The Pleasures of Counting too. I'm sure there are many other instances.

Math can be thought distinct from science. But it often amazes me that so much of the physical world can be described by math. So much of the physical world seems to be entirely consonant with mathematical concepts and theorems. How is it possible that so much of the physical world can be explained in terms of math? As Richard Feynman once pointed out (paraphrasing), how can math predict what will happen by following rules which have nothing to do with the original phenomenon?

It would doubtless take a considerable amount of space to begin to explore the question since I'd have to better explain what I have in mind when I talk about math and science, define and unpack specific terms, make relevant distinctions within the question, etc. Besides, I'm no philosopher let alone a philosopher of mathematics so I wouldn't have the know-how to do all these things very well at all.

What little I do know about the topic is that there seems to be more than one possible answer to the question.

With regard to possible answers, obviously philosophers or the philosophically-minded can correct me, which I gladly welcome, but as far as I'm aware there are three main schools of thought here: intuitionism, logicism, and formalism.

What's interesting to me though is how Vern Poythress apparently sees an integration between these in the following way (in his Redeeming Science):

God has ordained a coherence among a number of aspects of the world. First, the human mind has intuitions about numbers and space. Second, numerical and spatial order characterize the external physical world. Third, this order has an impressive logical organization, so that many consequences follow from a few starting assumptions. Fourth, the logical order can be organized rigorously into a representation in a formalized language system, with axioms and rules of derivation. The human mind, the physical world, logic, and language cohere. But if someone denies that God is the source of coherence, he is tempted to explain it by reducing the many aspects of the world to one aspect, which is then seen as the ultimate explanation.

TMS lectures online

I'm glad to plug the following: The Master's Seminary's lectures are now online.


According to one website, these are the "50 Smartest People of Faith".

I don't agree with the list. I would've picked a different list.

I think some people should've been included who weren't. For example, William Dembski, D.A. Carson, John Frame, Vern Poythress, and Steve Hays, to name a few commendable candidates! :-)

Putting “Lent” and “Ash Wednesday” into perspective

I wrote about Lent several years ago. It’s worth bringing this up every year, I think:

For all you Catholics out there, [yesterday was] “Ash Wednesday”. It’s the beginning of the Lent season – the 40 days prior to Easter, a very old tradition of the early church.

For all you Protestants, you should know that there’s a difference between “tradition” and “Tradition” in Catholic understanding.

It’s true that Lent is one of the earliest church traditions. But it’s also one of just a handful of such “traditions.” Most of these are really just practices; many of them are no longer practiced. Yves Congar, in his “The Meaning of Tradition,” (and derived from his scholarly “Tradition and Traditions” and a textbook for Roman Catholic seminarians), provides a list (pg. 37):

Asteroid to pass 17,500 miles from earth February 15

“The flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 on Feb. 15, 2013, will be the closest known approach to Earth for an object its size.”

Small near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth on February 15, so close that it will pass inside the ring of geosynchronous weather and communications satellites. NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office can accurately predict the asteroid's path with the observations obtained, and it is therefore known that there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth. Nevertheless, the flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close. Here are the facts about the safe flyby of Earth of asteroid 2012 DA14 -- a record close approach for a known object of this size.

For more information, see also:

Furniture Not Included

Saw this on Facebook yesterday. Not shown here are the pieces from 20 years prior that were actual pieces of furniture (the TV, the “record player”, stacks of vinyl albums, the video shelves, the book shelves, etc.)

HT: Steve Zrimec