Posts tagged "Gospel"

Two Words in Job

Yesterday, while preparing for a sermon, I came across a beautiful description of both Law and Gospel in the Old Testament that I’d never noticed before. Job 33.14-28:

For God speaks in one way,
and in two, though man does not perceive it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men,
while they slumber on their beds,
16 then he opens the ears of men
and terrifies them with warnings,
17 that he may turn man aside from his deed
and conceal pride from a man;
18 he keeps back his soul from the pit,
his life from perishing by the sword…

26 …then man prays to God, and he accepts him;
    he sees his face with a shout of…

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The Verbal Dynamics of Spiritual Cousins, or, The Trouble with Talking Theologically

Nothing’s lost. Or else: all is translation / And every bit of us is lost in it.

–James Merrill, “Lost in Translation”

A Simple Conversation

It may be more strenuous to discuss theology with my theological cousin than with another with whom I have only a passing ideological kinship. Language simultaneously hides, reveals, and obscures differences in theological priority or emphasis that, though logically subtle, yield immense differences in the style, tone, and attitude of daily living. Recently, I spoke with a minister about the difficulty I have had with committing to a church, or engaging with a Christian…

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When You Encounter the Spirit (You May Not Like It)

I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy of Simeon Zahl’s Pneumatology and Theology of the Cross in the Preaching of Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt: The Holy Spirit Between Wittenberg and Azusa Street. He has some truly trenchant things to say about the work of the Holy Spirit and its relationship to preaching. For Simeon, the Holy Spirit can encounter us directly as “negative” experience in convicting us of our sinful nature and need for grace. This outlook changes the task of preaching, shifting the emphasis away from conviction of sin and towards giving people a framework to…

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All or Nothing: The Problem with that little bit of Law

“Name Your Own Vacation” sounds like a wonderful benefit package. Who wouldn’t want to have the freedom to determine their own vacation time?

photo by yipinglim (

It has always puzzled me how the  American worker survives with the paltry vacation allocation that most companies in N. America offer. (Back home in Singapore, 3 weeks of vacation is more or less de rigueur and even that seems too little.)  So this blog article in the WSJ, at first glance, appeared to be a wonderful example of grace in the workplace. Having an employer who trusted the employee to know how much…

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From The New Yorker

Welcome to Mbird 2.0!

At long last, the new site is here! We encourage you to explore. Beyond the crisper presentation, there are a variety of new features for you to check out. One of our chief aims with this new site was to create a platform that made better use of our increasingly vast archives (there’s gold in them hills…); we understand that the range of topics we cover can be a bit frustrating for folks who are only interested in certain aspects. To that end, we’ve introduced a number of new ways for content to “bubble up,” that is, to find past…

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Another SITE Ends: Self-Restrained Aggression, Praise vs. Criticism, Cheesus Strikes Again, Galli on Substitution, DFW on Addiction and Self-Help, 3eanuts, Richard Ashcroft

1. A Scientific American podcast/article brings to light an interesting study on the correlation between self-control and aggression, which ties in to JDK’s conference talk about the thin line between threat and promise (recording coming Monday!), ht JD:

Past studies have shown that exerting self-control may increase irritability and anger. But the new research found that the increased aggression brought on by self-restraint has a much broader effect. The researchers studied different types of self-control and the subjects’ subsequent behavior. For instance, participants who carefully controlled their spending of a gift certificate were more interested…

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"Cathedral" Part One: An Alien Logic (Or "He Was No One I Knew")

For anybody who hasn’t read it, “Cathedral” (1982) is probably Raymond Carver’s most famous short story, and provides an endearing picture of what could be called a modern-day, suburban visitation from the upside-down world of grace. It begins, though, through the narrator’s lovable perspective, with the blatant understandability of such a thing to feel, well, “upside-down,” alien, creepy.

An unnamed narrator and his wife are expecting a visitor from out of town, a friend of the wife’s. Robert, the visitor, a blind, recent widower, has had a history of correspondence with the narrator’s wife, who had worked as Robert’s…

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Mirror Neurons, the Mind-Body Problem, and The Limits of Neurology

The third of four neuroscience posts today/tomorrow, this one comes to us from the New York Review of Books, more precisely, Colin McGinn’s thoughtful review of V.S. Ramachandran’s new book, The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human. A bit more technical than the previous two installments, this one may have you glazing over with its talk of ‘mirror neurons’… But stick with it, as the questions at the bottom are the same, i.e. What makes us human? Why do we act the way we do? Do we have free will? Is there more to the mind…

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Conference Preview: Freedom to Fail – A Conversation about Grace and Failure in Parenting (and Being Parented)

On December 6, 2006, the doctor handed us an 8lb ball of pure fury that sounded more like a baby pterodactyl than, well, a human baby. Filled with romantic notions of being the perfect mom and dad (always calm, always gentle, always smiling), we headed home with our first born son. When he wasn’t sleeping (which was scattered) he was screaming. Within two weeks after our son’s birth, everything that we believed would be our parenting experience shattered. Our patience and energy levels were depleted, and our frustration and exhaustion levels were sky high. Rather than…

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Old and New Adams (and Andrews) in The Office

Self-Criticism, Self-Compassion and Self-Indulgence, Reconsidered

A number of insights to be gleaned from the report in Monday’s NY Times, “Go Easy On Yourself.” Not just in the sense of horizontalized Law (discipline/criticism) vs Grace (compassion) – though that too – but in the clearly universal discrepancy between head knowledge and heart knowledge, and most remarkably, in the immediate objection that self-compassion will lead to self-indulgence. An objection known in Christian terms as the fear of antinomianism or licentiousness, which crops up whenever freedom is being proclaimed. In fact, I’ve rarely heard it voiced so clearly in the social science realm. Now, if the “self” part…

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