Word Before World

“In the Bible, word precedes world . . . Word precedes world. Words do not arise from things, but rather things are evoked by the Word. Word precedes all things” (Willimon, Proclamation and Theology, p. 12).

A Couple Shameless Plugs

So let me explain what happened. Some months ago, my CD player in my truck conked out. Nancy was kind enough to get me a new one for Christmas, which I then had installed. But in the meantime, a bunch of my Mars Hill Audio Journal CDs had backed up into a small pile, so I then went on a Ken Myer binge, which was fun, because in the middle of that, I went down to Monroe where he and I were both speaking at a conference together. Ah, a familiar voice. But, eventually I got caught up. Ken’s interviews are where I get many of my ideas for book purchases. So check it out, I tell you.

Also during this enforced-audio-hiatus-time, a former student sent me some samples of a project he and some others are working on — audio dramatizations of some of G.A. Henty’s books. So I just finished listening to their production of Under Drake’s Flag, and highly recommend it to any of you who have kids who like to have adventures while riding in the car. These productions values are high, and they got some real pros reading the parts. For just one example, Brian Blessed reads the part of Henty, and lots of action swirls around him. Check these out too.

Drake's Flag

How Poetry Makes

“The prophets of Israel were poets who were preachers, preachers who were poets. They deconstructed old worlds and envisioned new worlds, with some of the pushiest, poetic, figurative, and powerful speech ever uttered, all on the basis of nothing but words” (Willimon,  Proclamation and Theology, p. 11).

Different Kinds of Flies

I recently wrote a piece on marriage and sexuality that included this:

“12. What is the most important word in the marriage vows?

In our time, because of the peculiar form our disobedience has taken, the most important word is obey. And it is the most important word whether or not it is included in the vows. Like a father who has abandoned his family, that word can dominate through its absence.”

Since this kind of thing is almost guaranteed to cause a Facebook Freakout, which it did, not to mention a series of comments from the peculiar kind of misery on parade at CREC Memes, I thought a few additional comments in order. Cream invariably rises, but I am afraid crecmeme is not in that category.

First, a reminder. The New Testament — not the Old, mind you — repeatedly reminds us of the duty of wifely submission and obedience. “Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well . . .” (1 Pet. 3:6). “The aged women likewise, that they . . . may teach the young women to be . . . obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5). “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” (Col. 3:18).

Confronted with such passages, one feminist technique is to get out the trusty eisegetical pliers and rearrange the verses into a shape more suitable to the 21st century, and more in line with human flourishing. But if there is not enough time for that, another trusty alternative is to utterly misconstrue what the people who still cite such passages actually have in mind.

Whenever I think of hierarchy in marriage, something like this is what comes to mind.

“Portia wished that for Bassanio’s sake, she might be trebled ‘twenty times herself.’ A thousand times more fair, then thousand times more rich,’ and protests that, as things are, ‘the full sum of her Is sum of nothing,’ ‘an unlesson’d girl.’ It is prettily said and sincerely said. But I should feel sorry for the common man, such as myself, who was led by this speech into the egregious mistake of walking into Belmost and behaving as though Portia really were an unlessoned girl. A man’s forehead reddens to think of it. She may speak thus to Bassanio: but we had better remember that we are dealing with a great lady” (Preface to Paradise Lost, p. 114).Sexist Ads 2

But what a certain kind of mentality asserts I am arguing for is something more like this. Of course that kind of throwback sexism is perfectly appalling, but we have to remember that this stuff was being used in ads back then because that is what all the Mad Men cool kids were coming up with, and a certain kinds of Christians were in fact attracted to it back then, mouths agape. The same kind of gullible Christians have the same kind of approach to worldliness now, mouths still agape, with the only difference being the kind of flies that buzz into them.

And there were of course objections to this statement. “In our time, because of the peculiar form our disobedience has taken, the most important word is obey.” Different folks were huffy about this, because the most important word is obviously cherish. Well, yes, it is for normal people, but we are talking about feminism. Remember that my point was that obey is the most important word “because of the peculiar form our disobedience has taken.” This is the current epicenter of our current rebellion against the Word of God. We hate obedience. This is the point where we are defying Him. This is the place where, if repentance is to occur, repentance must occur. People in rebellion against the glorious duty of obedience — men and women both — can have no idea what it means to cherish.

Meanwhile others might insist that the most important word in marriage is communication, but let us be frank. It is hard to communicate with people who only hear every third word you say.

Surveying the Text: Job

Introduction:

This book is widely regarded as a masterpiece of human literature, even by non-believers, and yet this high regard is not always accompanied by a high level of understanding. This is a very great book, and like many great things, our natural tendency is to get it down to a more understandable level, where we can piously misunderstand it. But one of the reasons this book shines so brightly is that there is no varnish on it. Job was an important figure. Consider Noah, Daniel and Job—two of the greatest men of righteousness in the Old Testament were not Jews (Ez. 14:14, 20).

The Text:

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, And that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, Yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, And mine eyes shall behold, and not another; Though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25–27).

Summary of the Text:

We do not know who wrote this book, and some scholars have taken our lack of information as a generous invitation to wild speculation. That said, my own view is that the beginnings of this book are found in distant antiquity, and that it took its place in the Wisdom literature around the time of Solomon—with the possibility that Solomon was the author. I believe the events that are the kernel of the poem were historical. Job is not an Israelite, but rather an Edomite, as will be discussed later. No explicit reference to the history of Israel is found in the book.

The book of Job is filled with unanswered questions, and things that human beings simply cannot know. But Job knows at least one thing, and it is stated here in our text—in the midst of his suffering, and in the midst of his wrongful complaint against God, we have this remarkable testimony of faith. This shining testimony sits in the midst of his complaints the same way the godly Job himself sat on the ash heap. Job knows that His redeemer lives, and that his redeemer is going to stand upon the earth at the latter day. Job also affirms his belief in the resurrection of the dead—after his body is destroyed by worms, Job affirms that in his body he is going to see God. Where did that come from?

The Politics of Sodomy I: The Real Sin of Sodom

Introduction:

What could possibly be meant by the phrase, “the real sin of Sodom?” Isn’t it obvious? The sin of homosexual behavior draws its name from Sodom. What could be more obvious? And shouldn’t we be suspicious of any attempt to draw our attention elsewhere? As always, the answer to such questions is, “It depends.”

The Text:

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good (Ez. 16:49-50).

Background:

The prophet Ezekiel is speaking the word of the Lord against the city of Jerusalem. In the course of his prophetic rebuke, he says that Samaria is Jerusalem’s older sister, and that Sodom is Jerusalem’s younger sister (v. 46). Samaria dwells at Jerusalem’s left hand and Sodom at her right. Moreover, the prophet denounces Jerusalem as far exceeding the sins of both these cities. Compared to Jerusalem, both these wicked cities seem righteous in comparison (v. 52).

Individual Sin: