Intro to Wheel of Time

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is probably my favorite fantasy series.  Since some of my friends on facebook are asking me for the audio, I am doing this post as kind of a gateway to his thought.

While in many ways it is your typical “Hero fights dark lord from taking over universe,” it is far beyond that.  It raises questions dealing with Possible Worlds theory (shades of Plantinga!).

Is it hard to get into? Not really.  The prologue is kind of misleading but it makes sense 8 books later (kidding!).  The prologue takes place 3000 years before the present moment.  It is at the end of a cataclysmic war and the Dark Lord’s lieutenant is goading the then-hero (known as “the Dragon”) into doing something rash.

And then the book goes back to the present day and the hero Rand al’Thor.

Why should you read the book?  Because o the character Mat Cauthon.  Mat is one of Rand’s childhood friends and he is about as perfectly written as one can be.

Christianity Versus the Soul-Killing Collectivism of the Modern State

The Machen Seminar

Machen derived a profound appreciation for personal liberty from Scripture.  An example of his thinking along these lines appears in an essay he was asked to contribute to the July 1, 1924 issue of Survey Graphic. He was asked to defend conservative Christianity from the charge that it is reactionary and obstructs social progress. In the article he builds his case by explaining that the individual human being has dignity because he is created in the very image of God. He then applies this truth, showing its importance in social theory:

It is true that Christianity as over against certain social tendencies of the present day insists upon rights of the individual souls. We do not deny the fact; on the contrary we glory in it. Christianity, if it be true Christianity, must place itself squarely in opposition to the soul-killing collectivism which is threatening to dominate our social life…

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Battle Hymns of Various Republics

From Mark Twain:

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;
He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger’s wealth is stored;
He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored;
His lust is marching on.

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;
I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps—
His night is marching on.

I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal;
Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;
Lo, Greed is marching on!”

We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat; *
Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;
O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
With a longing in his bosom—and for others’ goods an itch.
As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich—
Our god is marching on.

On a happier note, the Battle Hymn of Christian Church, by Francis Nigel Lee.

My eyes have seen the glory of Jehovah our great King
For our God is trampling Satan. Hallelu-Jah! Let us sing!
With His Word, we’ll hammer humanists; to Jesus, converts bring
For Christ goes reigning on!

Glory, glory, hallelu-Jah
Sing the psalms to our Lord Jesus!
Sing the psalms to our Lord Jesus!
For Christ goes reigning on!

I have seen Him in the pulpits of His Christocratic Church.
He is making us His soldiers, while His Word we gladly search!
As we fight His righteous battles, He’ll not leave us in the lurch.
For Christ goes reigning on!

When He rose, He blew the trumpet that shall never sound defeat!
He is sifting out the hearts of men, before His judgment seat.
Let me, too, help crush His enemies! Subdue them, O my feet!
For Christ goes reigning on!

We will serve Jehovah-Jesus, in the storms and in the calms.
We will gladly sing out loud, all the imprecatory psalms.
We’ll impose God’s Law against all thugs, with never any qualms.
For Christ goes reigning on!

In the beauty of the New Earth, there’ll be neither sin nor sea.
For the Lord’s bride will be happy, in her blissful “slavery” —
While the wicked burn eternally in hell, from virtue “free”
For Christ goes reigning on!

to be sung with the New Dixie

Now the Triune God must never be forgotten!
Again He’ll march through the land of cotton
and from here, Dixieland — we’ll yet win, America!

For the Brave New World that now is so perverted,
in God’s good time is going to get converted
and the Earth, will get full — of the fear, of the Lord!

Our God will yet revive us
and our King will bring
both Dixieland and Yankeeland
and all the world to serve Him!
Don’t shirk, let’s work,
and live the Gospel Story!
Begin, we’ll win,
and give God all the glory!

Dooyeweerd on Aristotle

This is from the first 28 pages of New Critique of Theoretical Thought vol 3. I never finished the book because he spent the latter part of it talking about the law-structures of different plants.  I couldn’t see how this was meaningful.

Critique of Thomist metaphysics

Substance: possessing a permanence unaffected by change (Dooyeweerd 4).

  • Our experience of the identity of a thing is always temporal.

Dooyeweerd claims that the traditional view of a thing standing behind a thing contradicts the Christian conception “of human selfhood as a spiritual center,” whose nature is a self-surrender to God (6).

Traditional views of substance see it as a “kernel” under the accidents

To what, primary substance?  It cannot be a pre-theoretically conceived thing, for that is always bound “to the subject object relation” (10).

So what is ousia? Dooyeweerd: “It cannot be a mere relation between form and matter since in Aristotelian metaphysics and logic the concept of substance functions as the independent point of reference” (11).  The category of relation is thinner and accidental.

Nor can it be composite or synthetic, since there must be a unity prior to this.

The Greeks could never latch onto the Creational idea of substance as a structure of individuality (16). [JBA–what is an individuality structure and how is that different from a substance?]

If matter is the principium individuationis, then there can’t be a real idea “of the structure of individuality” (17; since this idea isn’t encased in matter).

The Categorical Distinction (Archetype/Ectype) in Lutheran Theology

I am going to work through more of this later. Fascinating.

YINKAHDINAY

I have written on the categorical distinction before.  Here I introduced Schilder’s thoughts on it.  Here you can find what S. G. De Graaf and F. M. Ten Hoor wrote on this subject.

The Lutheran theologian Francis Pieper discusses this as well in Volume 1 of his Christian Dogmatics.  This is how he introduces it:

Nothing must be injected into the corpus doctrinae [body of doctrine] of the Church which is not contained in Scripture.  And in order to accentuate this characteristic feature of the Christian doctrine, they have called objective theology theologia ektupos, ectypal, or derived, theology, that is, a reproduction, re-presentation, of the theologia archetupos, the archetypal, or original, theology, which is that knowledge of God and divine things originally found only in God, but which God has graciously communicated to man through His Word. (58)

It is interesting that Pieper locates archetypal theology in…

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In Memoriam: Klaas Schilder († 23 March 1952)

From Rev Kloosterman’s blog

Cosmic Eye

Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the death of Professor Dr. Klaas Schilder (19 December 1890 – 23 March 1952). During his life, he was a biblical, Reformed, Calvinist pastor, theologian, and churchman.  As a controversial polemicist, he was (and is) as maligned and misunderstood by his despisers as he was (and is) appreciated by his beneficiaries. Especially today in North America, people could profit significantly from his cultural, ecclesiastical, and theological insights.

There is enough information available online to supply a rudimentary portrait of his life and work, a reliable entrée into his heart and mind.

So today we wish instead to introduce our readers to the sagacious side, the provocative persona, of Klaas Schilder.

For that, we draw from a little paperback collection of Schilderian aphorisms that was published in the early 1980s, entitled Aforismen (Goes: Oosterbaan & Le Cointre, 1983). In 1952 and 1954, two volumes had appeared, entitled 

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An Army of Psalm Chanters

Taken from an old post on Jim Jordan, with some new material.

But let us consider what a Christian view of the Church would be. It would be a place of transformation, not merely of information. Marshaling the people into an army of psalm chanters would be at the top of the list. Indeed, in seminary several psalms would be chanted every day in chapel. The music in the church would be loud, fast, vigorous, instrumental, martial. There would be real feasts. People would be taught that when God splashes water on you, He’s really doing something: He’s putting you into His rainbow.

Elsewhere Jordan says

I should like to offer what I regard as a considerable caveat. I do not believe that men who sing pop choruses or plodding Trinity Hymnal songs on Sunday can get very far into Luther or Calvin, or for that matter Turretin. Men whose personal opinion is that society can be left to the devil cannot really get into the outlook of the Reformers.

I submit that it is important to have some feel for what people were singing and how they were singing it at various times in history. Is it a coincidence that “Reformed scholasticism” began to develop at the same time that the fiery dance-like chorales and psalms of the Reformation began to die down into slow, plodding, even-note mush? It is a coincidence that the “Puritans” had problems with assurance of salvation, given their destruction of enthusiastic singing? I don’t think so. People who sing the psalms as real war chants, as war dances that precedebattle, don’t have problems with assurance and don’t have time for scholasticism. Neither do people with strong, fully-sung liturgies.

EO guys used to attack me on assurance.  “Well, how can you know?”  Well, there you have it.

 

Dominion Files (3) Recon world in meltdown

Every now and then the Christian Reconstructionist world goes crazy on whether Bojiday Marinov is a false teacher (he is) and a danger to the church (he is).  I never could figure out why Recons defend him.  His articles about God’s law and Christendom aren’t really unique.  Recons write on little else, so it’s hard to see what makes him special.  He doesn’t have leadership qualities, as he blocks anyone who might disagree with him. So why does everyone rally behind him?  And this isn’t just the average facebooker.  Established institutions like American Vision not only have not condemned him and warned the faithful, they still promote his articles.

And then it dawned on me.  There is no visible leadership in the Recon world, and that is important.  Recons need a few strong figures to keep the group from splitting every six years.  There just isn’t someone on the level of Bahnsen or North or Rushdoony (and Rushdoony, being under God’s judicial sanctions, hadn’t written anything of note after 1980).  Yes, Gary Demar has written good books. But I’m talking about the younger generation.  You will see a few primers published, and they might even be good, but that’s not on the level of the earlier generation. (To be fair, it isn’t intended to be).

They have to defend Marinov because there is no one else.

DKG: Opening Questions 1a

This is taken from Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. It’s a prolegomena to apologetics.

  1. There are many possible ways to refer to the world by means of language.

Languages differ from one another not only by using different words to refer to the same thing, but also in the things the language is supposed to distinguish. No language is able to capture all the nuances of a said definiens. Furthermore, language uses symbols. Different languages use different symbols. However, different languages can describe the same reality.

  1. Is it always legitimate to demand a definition?

It is not always necessary to demand a definition. There is always a necessary vagueness to language. While at the outset it may seem to give greater precision, it alwasy assumes that the more precise and technical a term is, the more clarity it gains. However, it is quite the opposite. For instance, if one were to define Augustine’s view of time, most would not understand and the definition itself would be used in a non-ordinary way. Similarly, discussing “time” without defining it does allow for communication of the term.

  1. Is Scripture ever vague?

If language is vague–as I believe can be at times–and Scripture is communicated via language, then Scripture itself is not exempt from vagueness. Scripture is vague at times, and helpfully so, if its primary purpose from God is not always to communicate necessary precision, but to communicate truth as God intends it. This allows for imprecise quotations, rounded numbers, varied (though not contradictory) accounts without compromising its integrity. How so? This can be maintained if we allow Scripture to set its own standards of historiography and lexicography.

  1. Discuss the values, limitations, of the use of technical terms.

Technical terms, while not often biblical in origin, are useful and even necessary to the task of theology. If theology is the reflection upon and the application of God’s word to contemporary issues, then it must at times use non-biblical (but not un-biblical) language. The task of theology recognizes the at-times vagueness of Scripture and the necessity of technical terms to apply the vague areas of Scripture to concrete situations. However, technical terminology is not without its limits. A technical term by definition limits full biblical expression of the term (i.e.,regeneration). The danger then happens when the theologian uses one term as a b lanket statement for all of the scriptural usages. In other words, theologians are often faced with the danger of pulling terms out of the biblical context.

  1. Never use technical terms from non-Christian histories.

If this is the case, then we will not be able to use much terminology at all. Propositions are not to be judged faulty by the words they use, but on what are they are saying.

  1. Don’t confuse technical definitions with biblical usages. Describe the danger here.

Technical definitions are useful due the degree that they are precise in scope. Their greatest strength is their greatest weakness–precision. Technical terminology limits the use of a biblical expression or term and applies it, hopefully, within a proper context with a view towards application. The danger comes when assuming that because term x means y in this situation, it must always mean x.

  1. There is no one right set of technical definitions? Why? Evaluate.

Given that biblical terminology is often richer than technical terminology, it follows that no one theologian or theological school can exhaust a doctrine in one formulation. No theological system is free from the necessity of making qualifications.

  1. Some technical definitions can actually mislead us. For example, if one uses enlightenment, rationalistic terminology and applies it to the supernatural, then the Christian Theologian is immediately pressed to defend his faith using the opposition’s weapons. He is, in effect, fighting a losing battle from the start. Given the insights stated above, he must allow the Bible to be its own standard (this would require its own prolegomena) and define its own terms.

 

  1. Describe and discuss the liberal distortion of Scripture through an illegitimate development of technical terminology. Liberal theology takes biblical terminology out of its context and then imports

humanistic, romantic, or existentialist meaning upon the terms. Liberals take the concept of God’s love, strip it of its transcendence, and place it into metaphysical categories. Socialistic Christians (liberation theologians) take Christ’s concern for the poor and despised and draw the illogical conclusion that Christ primarily came for the socially outcast and was at war with those who were not themselves socially outcast. Barth saw divine transcendence as God’s own freedom divorced from the restraints God places upon himself.

  1. Discuss the danger of trying too hard to eliminate vagueness from theology.

Simply put, aiming for maximum precision at all times leads one to be more precise than God himself! Theologians must come to grips that God did not clearly outline many issues in His word: Supralapsarianism/infralapsarianism, traducianism, etc. An attempt to eliminate vagueness in theology leads