Assemblies of God at the Crossroads

Fearful of incurring the wrath of the Grand Lord of Biblioblogdom, I have been hesitant to overtly mention my ecclesiastical affiliation on this blog. Still, I cannot deny my true identity. I am . . . (brace yourself) . . . a Pentecostal, and . . . (gasp) . . . a member of an Assemblies of God church.

Anyway, the Assemblies of God General Council will be held August 8-11, 2007 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Recently Rev. Thomas E. Trask stepped down from his position as the General Superintendent of the denomination.* So, this year’s meeting is particularly important, as we will be choosing a new General Superintendent.

The gravity of this situation has caused a few blogs to form. Both Future AG and AG Leadership Change are worth checking out if you’re curious.

I write this post to express our need for prayer.** The AG needs wisdom in choosing who will fill this important position.

PS: I reserve the right to speak tongue-in-cheek. If we can’t laugh about doctrinal differences, then we are taking ourselves too seriously!

Search Crystal — Search Engine Eye Candy

I just stumbled upon this nifty little tool that helps you visualize the results of a particular search spread over several different search engines. I have not had time to experiment with it much, but below is an example of a search for “biblioblogging.” Note that Hypotyposeis’ entry on “Biblioblogging and Book Writing” is marked by all five search engines, hence it has a five-sided “crystal.” Claude Mariottini’s entry on “The Disintegration of the Biblioblogging Community” is covered in four search engines, hence the four-sided crystal. Wave your cursor over any particular search engine on the outer perimeter, and the hits from that particular engine are displayed.

Potter “according to the Scriptures”?

The Deathly Hallows book coverThis weekend, my wife and I finished reading the latest and last installment of J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, The Deathly Hallows. I must admit I have been a late-comer to the Potter craze, having read the series only in the last year or so. I suffered from the weariness that many have had regarding Potter, worrying about its lack of reference to God (or even a god), as well as its glib portrayal of “magic.” Being raised in a Pentecostal setting — where folks could suffer from the “demon of vitamin B-12 deficiency” — I thought more than twice before delving into the witchery & wizardry of Rowling’s world. Still, my wife had read the series repeatedly, and as far as I could tell, she had NOT started to projectile vomit green pea soup, and her head never did start revolving. So, I thought it might be safe to read the books myself. (Don’t mind the ethical problem of using my wife for a spiritual guinea pig!)

Anyway, back to The Deathly Hallows. In this latest installment Rowling makes her first overt allusions to Scripture. Two verses are quoted:

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt 6:21/Luke 12:34; Hallows, 325)

and

“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor 15:26; Hallows, 328)

Rowling does not explicitly cite these passages as Scripture, and the characters in the story do not recognize the texts as Christian Scripture. Indeed, regarding the passage from the Gospels, Harry “did not understand what these words meant” (326). Also, Harry mistook Paul’s words about death as “a Death Eater idea” (328). Hermione corrected him, explaining that “It means . . . you know . . . living beyond death. Living after death” (328). These verses “pop up” at a key part of the book, and they fit with overarching themes of the series, and indeed this latest volume. (I won’t go into detail, as I’d rather not contribute to the mass of spoilers on the web.) I will say this. These clear references to Scripture actually pale in comparison to the symbolism (dare I say typology?) of this book.

I will be interested to see whether or not Christian opinions of Rowling’s work will change in the upcoming months. Will she be viewed as the postmodern Lewis or Tolkien? Will she be seen as an “angel of light” seeking to draw folks in to a syncretist faith? It will also be interesting to see how Rowling responds to Christian critics and fans in the near future, given the note upon which the series ends. In the year 2000, when asked about her own faith — whether she was a Christian — Rowling responded:

Yes, I am, . . . Which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I’ve been asked if I believe in God, I’ve said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what’s coming in the books.*

Similarly she responds about her belief in God/magic:

JK: I do believe in God. That seems to offend the South Carolinians more than almost anything else. I think they would find it…well that is my limited experience, that they have more of a problem with me believing in God than they would have if I was an unrepentant atheist.

E: You do believe in God.

JK: Yeah. Yeah.

E: In magic and…

JK: Magic in the sense in which it happens in my books, no, I don’t believe. I don’t believe in that. No. No. This is so frustrating. Again, there is so much I would like to say, and come back when I’ve written book seven. But then maybe you won’t need to even say it ’cause you’ll have found it out anyway. You’ll have read it.**

Now that the last book is published, and the final plot revealed, perhaps Rowling will be more forthcoming about her faith, and whether she intended to tap theological themes in a manner similar to Tolkien and Lewis.

I’m tired. I’m going to take my vitamin B-12 supplement and go to bed.


* Quoted from Max Wyman, “‘You can lead a fool to a book but you can’t make them think’: Author has frank words for the religious right,” The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia), October 26, 2000 [reproduced at accio-quote.org].
** Quoted from Evan Solomon, “J.K. Rowling Interview,” CBCNewsWorld: Hot Type, July 13, 2000 [reproduced at accio-quote.org].

NOTE ALSO:

BibleTech:2008

Logos Bible Software is sponsoring the BibleTech conference on January 25-26, 2008. The purpose of this conference is

to explore the intersection of Bible study and technology. This two-day conference is designed for publishers, programmers, webmasters, educators, bloggers and anyone interested in using technology to improve Bible study. BibleTech 2008 is an opportunity to meet others who share your interests and hear from industry leaders.

While hosted by Logos, this conference is NOT a conference about Logos Bible Software. I hope that other Bible software companies will represent themselves as well. I doubt I’ll be able to get out to Washington this year, but I’m very interested in seeing what emerges out of the conference.

James in the Apostolic Fathers, Continued…

Below is a table that summarizes the location of possible allusions to James in the Apostolic Fathers. I have not noted those parallels between James and the Shepherd of Hermas that are given a “C” classification in the NTAF.1 Special attention must be paid to Hermas as it contains the vast majority of parallels.

James Apostolic Fathers Cited in:
1:4 Polycarp, Phil. 12:3 BP, Lake
1:4 Herm. Mand. 9:6 (39:6) NTAF {C}
1:5 Herm. Sim. 5.4.3 (57:3) AFNTC
1:5 Herm. Mand. 9:1-3 (39:6; cf. Sim. 9.24.1,2 [101:1,2]) NTAF {C}
1:6-8 Herm. Mand. 9:5,6 (39:5,6; cf. Sim. 1.3 [50:3]) BP, AFNTC, Lake, NTAF {C}
1:17 Herm. Mand. 9.1 (39:1; cf. Mand. 11.5 [43:5]) NTAF {C}
1:27 Herm. Sim. 6.1.1 (61:1) AFNTC
1:27 Herm. Sim. 1:8 (50:8) BP, AFNTC, Lake
1:27 Herm. Mand. 2.7 (27:7) Lightfoot
2:7 Herm. Sim. 8.6.4 (72:4) AFNTC, Lake
2:23 1 Clem. 10:1, 7 BP, Ehrman, Lake
2:25 1 Clem. 12:1 BP, Ehrman, Lake
3:15 Herm. Mand. 11.5,6 (43:5,6; cf. Mand. 9.11 [39:11]) AFNTC, Lake, NTAF {C}
3:18 Herm. Sim. 9.19.2 (96:2) AFNTC, Lake
4:4 2 Clem. 6:3,5 NTAF {D}
4:6 1 Clem. 30:2 (cf. 1 Peter 5:5; Prov 3:34; Ign. Eph. 5:3) BP, Holmes, Ehrman, Lake, NTAF2
4:7 Herm. Mand. 12.2.4 (45:4) AFNTC, Lake
4:7 Herm. Mand. 12.5.1 (48:2) BP, AFNTC, Lake (index)
4:11 Herm. Vis. 2.2 (27:2) BP, Lighfoot
4:12 Herm. Mand. 12.6.3 (49:3) AFNTC, Lake, NTAF {C}
4:12 Herm. Sim. 9.23.2-4 (100:2-4) AFNTC, Lake, NTAF {C}
5:4 Herm. Vis. 3.9.6 (17:6) AFNTC, Lake
5:5 Herm. Sim. 6.1.6 (61:6) AFNTC
5:7,8,10 2 Clem. 20:2-4 NTAF {D}
5:11 Herm. Mand. 9.2 (39.2) NTAF {C}
5:16 2 Clem. 15:1 NTAF {D}
5:19-20 2 Clem. 15:1 BP, AFNTC
5:20 1 Clem. 49:5 (cf. 1 Peter 4:8; Prov 10:12) NTAF3
5:20 2 Clem. 16:4 NTAF {D}

KEY:

BP = Biblia Patristica
AFNTC = The Apostolic Fathers: A Translation and Commentary
Ehrman = Bart Ehrman’s Loeb Classical Library translation
Lake = Kirsopp Lake’s Loeb Classical Library translation
NTAF = The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers

Notes:

  1. The classification system used in the NTAF is described as follows:

    Class A includes those books about which there can be no reasonable doubt, either because they are expressly mentioned, or because there are other certain indications of their use. Class B comprises those books the use of which, in the judgement of the editors, reaches a high degree of probability. With class C we come to a lower degree of probability; and in class D are placed those books which may possibly be referred to, but in regard to which the evidence appeared too uncertain to allow any reliance to be placed upon it (NTAF iii).

    It should be noted that parallels between James and the Apostolic Fathers are only given C and D ratings in the NTAF.

  2. A. J. Carlyle notes the dependency of 1 Clem. 30:1-2, 1 Peter 2:1; 5:5 and James 4:6 on Proverbs 3:34 (NTAF 55).
  3. Again Clement, Peter and James are dependent upon Proverbs, though the wording of Clement (ἀγάπη καλύπτει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν) agrees exactly with Peter over against James and the LXX (NTAF 56).

Cruel Creative Punishment

CablePro of Knoxville, Tennessee is now punishing delinquent cable subscribers by hijacking their channels with the Trinity Broadcasting Network–24 hours a day, seven days a week! There is a dark miserable place in hell for these cable executives. This is the pinnacle of cruel and unusual punishment. Who knew that torture would ever be considered a legal means of gaining back payments?

LINK

HT Mandy Thompson at Just a Girl

Doing History in a Digital Age

While the journal Perspectives does not cover theology or biblical studies, the articles in its May 2007 issue may be of interest to bibliobloggers. The issue centers on the topic “History and the Changing Landscape of Information.” It may be worth taking a gander. For those who have decried the inaccuracies of Wikipedia, there’s an interesting article by a scholar who uses Wikipedia entries as a vehicle for teaching. See “Strange Facts in the History Classroom: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wiki(pedia),” by Christopher Miller. The entire issue is available online.

also the books, and above all the parchments

C. H. SpurgeonHere’s a sermon to validate the bibliophiles:

C. H. Spurgeon, A Sermon (No. 542), delivered on Sunday Morning, November 29th, 1863, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

The text is 2 Timothy 4:13. Here’s an excerpt:

II. We will LOOK AT HIS BOOKS. We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read. Some of our very ultra Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains-oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, “Give thyself unto reading.” The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books”-join in the cry.

Our second remark is, that the apostle is not ashamed to confess that he does read. He is writing to his young son Timothy. Now, some old preachers never like to say a thing which will let the young ones into their secrets. They suppose they must put on a very dignified air, and make a mystery of their sermonizing; but all this is alien from the spirit of truthfulness. Paul wants books, and is not ashamed to tell Timothy that he does; and Timothy may go and tell Tychicus and Titus if he likes-Paul does not care.

Paul herein is a picture of industry. He is in prison; he cannot preach: what will he do? As he cannot preach, he will read. As we read of the fishermen of old and their boats. The fishermen were gone out of them. What were they doing? Mending their nets. So if providence has laid you upon a sick bed, and you cannot teach your class-if you cannot be working for God in public, mend your nets by reading. If one occupation is taken from you, take another, and let the books of the apostle read you a lesson of industry.

He says, “Especially the parchments.” I think the books were Latin and Greek works, but that the parchments were Oriental; and possibly they were the parchments of Holy Scripture; or as likely, they were his own parchments, on which were written the originals of his letters which stand in our Bible as the Epistles to the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, and so on. Now, it must be “Especially the parchments” with all our reading; let it be especially the Bible. Do you attach no weight to this advice? This advice is more needed in England now than almost at any other time, for the number of persons who read the Bible, I believe, is becoming smaller every day. Persons read the views of their denominations as set forth in the periodicals; they read the views of their leader as set forth in his sermons or his works, but the Book, the good old Book, the divine fountain-head from which all revelation wells up-this is too often left. You may go to human puddles, until you forsake the clear crystal stream which flows from the throne of God. Read the books, by all manner of means, but especially the parchments. Search human literature, if you will, but especially stand fast by that Book which is infallible, the revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0542.htm