Tuesday, December 23, 2008
--Virginia Bill of Rights, Article 16
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
--John Adams, letter to Mercy Warren, 16 April 1776
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
1For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. I Corinthians 10.
While I appreciate and even enjoy the debate on the “efficacy” of baptism, commonly referred to as Federal Vision, I have said before that I don’t think that this is the best way to cast the issue. It casts the issue in the same terms as we would discuss the efficacy of an aspirin to relieve a headache. Baptism is a sign of a relationship, much as a wedding ring would be. Shouldn’t we talk in terms of relationship?
Baptism establishes a new relationship, which begs the question a relationship unto what? This passage clearly ties the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to the sacrament of baptism. We have a relationship unto communion with Jesus Christ. The two cannot be separated. They should be considered together. Participation in the former flows out of the event of the latter. Meredith Kline points out in his short book By Oath Consigned that the Red Sea crossing had the characteristics of an ancient trial by water, much as what we would think of as a “trial by fire.” In such an event, the innocent are rescued and the guilty are destroyed. And this is exactly what happened in the Red Sea crossing. We, like they, show our relationship established in baptism in our communion with Christ. We show the lack of our relationship established in baptism in our lack of communion with Christ.
Yahweh takes his signs of covenantal relationship very seriously. In Exodus 3, Yahweh threatened to kill Moses for Moses’ failure to circumcise his son. I Corinthians 10 refers to Israel’s failure to observe the sacrament of the Sabbath in the Exodus. Ezekiel 20 refers to Yahweh’s use of the Sabbath as a covenant curse against the nation of Israel for their rebellion against Him. We should take those signs of covenantal relationship seriously too. God has given us a pattern of life of six days work and one day rest. He has called us to “remember” one day in seven as a memorial to him. He has also called us to commemorate his Supper in “remembrance” of him. If we look at the efficacy of our baptism through our communion with Christ, we see the efficacy in a living relationship not a mere sign. Our understanding of our baptism depends on a promise made by our covenant God that he will bless us through baptism. This is not an automatic thing; its better because it is based on relationship.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook—even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united—united with each other and against earlier and later ages—by a great mass of common assumptions. We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century—the blindness about which posterity will ask, "But how could they have thought that?"—lies where we have never suspected it, and concerns something about which there is untroubled agreement between Hitler and President Roosevelt or between Mr. H. G. Wells and Karl Barth. None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.