…and Then Like Jacob, Limping On Its Way

Greetings, friends- it’s been a very long time. I’m still alive, and overjoyed that Jesus Christ is still the friend of sinners. How fitting that Advent should have just begun, a fasting season that both remembers and anticipates, intermingling penance and celebration, lonely exile and rejoicing. The miracle of God-with-us is that the holy God makes his home among churls that spurn all he has to offer; this God negates his creatures’ “No” by absorbing that “No” into his own being. And now we remember where and what we have been and what the Son entered into in assuming our humanity. It’s with all these juxtapositions in mind that the late John Webster commends holy reason as the wrestling of limping saints, the continual struggle of justified sinners to bring God to speech for God’s and man’s blessing. More than ever before, this is my ambition, and my likeness to Jacob, my consolation:

Praise, blessing, and sanctifying add nothing to God; they do not and cannot expand or enrich God’s holiness, which is inexhaustibly and unassailably full and perfect. They are simply an acknowledgment and indication. And theology as holy reason finds its completion in such acknowledgment and indication.

To talk of the end of reason in these terms is once again to refuse to segregate intellectual activity from other acts of discipleship. Holy reason is a practice in the life of the communion of the saints; as such, it partakes in the movement of the Church, sharing its origin and participating in its goals. To abstract holy reason from that movement is to arrest its course. And not only that, neglect of the true ends of the intellectual activity of theology in the praise of Good nearly always involves their substitution by other ends, the elevation of technical, historical or philosophical reason, and their detachment from repentant and joyful service of God’s holy name. One could organize an entire history of modern theology around that theme: the intellectual afflictions which have attended the progressive detachment of reason from piety.

None of this should be taken as a suggestion that holy reason is other than a human activity. Theology is not inspired; it is not a sacrament of the gospel; it does not have the authority of the teaching office in the Church. It is not a means of grace, but the human work of thinking and speaking about the holy God. Because it is always a human work, it participates in the frailty and fallibility of its practitioners and of their times. Theology’s reference to revelation does not raise it out of the stream of all other human rational endeavor. Yet in– not despite– its very human character, theology can be holy reason. It can serve the Holy One and the congregation which gathers around him, wrestling with him, beseeching his blessing, and then like Jacob limping on its way.
(John Webster, Holiness [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003], 29-30.)

May we all limp victoriously through this Advent. Amen.

 

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Happy Halloween For All the Saints!

Ahoy there! The final two posts from Blake’s and my Halloween Top 5s series are posted at Mockingbird: Blake’s Top 5 Introductions to Horror For Kids, and my Top 5 Scary Short Stories. Both will stoke your bonfire and make for good Halloween reading. Once you’re finished with them you can take a bite out of my apologia for Halloween, “Halloween Is For All the Saints”, and freshly appreciate how good God is in providing us with Halloween to enjoy. Stay safe, boils and ghouls, and enjoy your frights!

 

Been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely lonely lonely lonely lonely time

Howdy folks. I know it’s been a spell and a half since last I updated the site but rest assured it’s been due to my workload here at Bethlehem. There’s a lot I plan to cover soon, such as the T.S. Eliot research project I’ll be conducting soon, as well as analyses of the summer’season Trinitarian controversy and the ESV’s Permanent Text brouhaha. A lot of shade has been thrown over these matters and orthodox judgment hasn’t been recognized as prevailing over novel heterodoxies as widely as it ought. Ergo I want to plainly lay out the underlying issues within the last two matters and unpack their significance so that sound Trinitarian dogma can be embraced and cherished in its own right and not as a pragmatic means towards another end.

In the meantime, Blake and I are unleashing more ghoulish fun at Mockingbird in honor of Halloween so you should definitely check that out post haste:

Ian & Blake’s Terrifying Top Fives: This Season’s Best Horror Double Features

Ian & Blake’s Terrifying Top Fives: October’s Creepiest Urban Legends

Enjoy, and expect more soon!