This is the sort of thing that could make one wish one lived in a Verizon local telephone service area:
What's faster than FiOS internet service? FiOS Quantum evidently, as Verizon's latest high-speed internet service gets an official name and pricing. Effectively doubling every tier — except the entry-level 15/5 — each can be acquired with or without a custom bundle, double or triple play, and range in price from $65 to $175 a month — except the 300 down / 65 up which is only available by itself for $210 a month.
300Mbps down — that's incredible.
Peacemaker Ministries's founder and president, Ken Sande, has stepped down from his post at the organization. Most of you know that I am a vocal opponent of Peacemaker's program for a variety of reasons that need not be rehashed here, but I find something telling to the larger situation of the American church that I think is worth interacting with:
The transition from Peacemaker Ministries does not mean that Ken is leaving peacemaking behind. He has already begun work on a new teaching paradigm, which he is calling “Relational Wisdom,” or, simply, “RW.” […] As the transition is completed and our new CEO identified, Ken hopes to turn his attention fully to RW, writing a new book, and starting a sister ministry that focuses on relational wisdom.
This idea of moving from “paradigm” to “paradigm” hints at a problem endemic not only within the sphere of Peacemaker Ministries, but also within many of the other “ministries” that appear in American Evangelicalism today. Too many of them end up being built upon the shifting sands of marketing, buzzwords and “paradigms” (complete with a dash of “shifts”). What is “relational wisdom”? What distinguishes it from normal Biblical teachings on relationships that requires giving it a new name?
Our consumer-driven culture likes these sorts of packages, because they are easy to implement and have clear goals. When everything can be solved with a book and an organization-for-hire, we need not do the hard work of thinking through how the Gospel is to be uniquely applied to the individual situations and people we interact with each day. Programs can be good, don't misunderstand me, but in the Christian life our goal should be to study, teach and preach the whole counsel of God faithfully, not simply to pass through a smattering of programs that cover all the issues we happen to deem important.
Too often, programs that can be dropped into any church with the promise of somehow helping people live better lives end up focusing on one aspect of Scripture, boiling it into a few catchy phrases people memorize, overemphasizing it to the point that it becomes distorted and then calling it a day. Worse, given that we accept that buying “solutions” is a valid means of fixing our problems, once we have completed the program, we are inclined as a culture to assume we know all we need to know. But, as the messiness of real life plays out, these programs end up being forced upon situations they do not really fit. Much as if one memorizes some phrases of a foreign language instead of learning the language's grammar, whether we realize it or not, at some point we hit a dead end.
This is why it is so important that we study the entirety of God's Word and constantly seek to understand how the issues the Biblical figures faced parallel our own issues. When we wrestle with Scripture and see the coherent arc of the story, we can discern the Biblical approach to all sorts of matters — including dealing with conflict — in a way that is much fuller and more applicable than any program ever could hope to be. If we want to be wise in how we relate to and care for our neighbors, all we need to do is immerse ourselves in the Bible and pray for the Spirit's aid in living out the Gospel. That is real relational wisdom that will never become replaced by a paradigm shift.
CXXII. The silent word cuts
As no finely tuned phrase could.
Razor sharp, not quick.
CXXIII. A leaf, a cricket,
An empty cafe chair rusts a bit
In the summer's haze.
CXXIV. What was, was not really,
Or was it what it seemed?
An answer deferred.
CNN has a very nice, interactive electoral college map for those who want to do some election punditry.
I put one of my favorite quotes from Karl Barth up on the dry erase board in my office at church the other week. I thought it was worth posting here again:
The Gospel is not a truth among other truths. Rather, it sets a question-mark against all truths. The Gospel is not the door but the hinge.
A lot of great looking new features appear to be on tap for Mountain Lion next month. I think it will be $20 well spent.
My noble comrade JK cited this piece from Peter Leithart yesterday. Notably, I think this is the only time I have referenced Leithart on my blog, but I thought a quote from the cited piece was worth sharing:
If Jesus is Lord of His church; if the text of Scripture is uniquely from God, such that God speaks in human language; if Christ's Spirit can make His human words intelligible to human beings; if human beings can, under the guidance of the Spirit, speak God's words accurately and intelligibly to the church - then sola scriptura follows. Denying sola scriptura entails denial of one or more of those conditionals: God can't in fact speak without distortion in human language; or Scripture is not uniquely God's Word in human words; or Jesus is a titular but not a living Lord of His church.
This sums up well the Reformational sense of what sola scriptura meant. The force is not on throwing out all other sources of knowledge about God, but rather in recognizing the unique role of Scripture as the final authority that overrules all else. As the Westminster Confession says in 1.6, “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.”
One might ask if it is ironic that in discussing sola scriptura I turned to a tradition's confession (the Westminster Confession), but the very nature of the view of Scripture described above points to a clearly resounding “no.” The vows of the PCA make the distinction clear: the ordinand is to affirm believing that the Scriptures are “the only infallible rule of faith and practice,” but on the second count affirm only receiving and adopting the Confession “as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.” The Confession does not stand alone, but rather is entirely dependent for its authority on the Word of God.
That's sola scriptura.
MacRumors has a nice roundup of the best rumors going into Monday's Timnote:
Apple has already announced that it will be previewing iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion at the event, and with Apple also expected to introduce a number of new Macs and perhaps make some additional announcements, the schedule appears to be packed.
Given that Tim Cook has promised that Apple is going to “double down” on secrecy and yet it seems like there are more highly certain rumors this year than in the past, I'm going to wager that something big is lurking in the shadows as a “one more thing”-type of surprise. While launching an Apple TV app platform wouldn't fill that role, perhaps demonstrating the Apple TV as a full fledged gaming system with an innovative controller might do the trick…
One interesting thing that happens based on the way Facebook handles “likes” of notable figures in more recent times is that these figures (or, rather, someone posting as these occasionally deceased figures) will post choice quotes that show up in one's news feed. The other day, the following quote popped in based on my “like” of Joseph Campbell:
You have the three great Western religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - and because the three of them have different names for the same biblical god, they can't get on together. They are stuck with their metaphor and don't realize its reference. They haven't allowed the circle that surrounds them to open. It is a closed circle. Each group says, “We are the chosen group, and we have God.”
While the quote attracted many positive comments on Facebook, it is actually quite problematic. This claim may be true for some people,but the main points of division between the members of the Western religions are not the names used, but the contents of their beliefs. A simple demonstration of this comes from an increasing number of Christian missionaries who use the word “Allah” to refer to God when in a country where that word seems to be the most logical (linguistic) equivalent of elohim or theos in Scripture (i.e. “God” in English). The signifier (the word) stays the same, but the signifieds (the deities behind the word) look different in key ways.
Oversimplifying this matter and thinking in the way Campbell does is a common enough error to be sure, but one we ought not to make. Such a mistake ultimately demonstrates a failure to take these religions seriously, because each has distinct claims to the truth. Those deserve to be taken seriously and not immediately flattened.