August 31, 2005

Ecclesiology in Swinburne's Revelation

I've just finished reading Richard Swinburne's Revelation: From Metaphor to Analogy, in which he strives to create a rational foundation for belief in (a particular understanding of) "the Christian revelation" (which, on Swinburne's account is not exactly equivalent with the Bible, but we'll get there). The beginning of this book is very good. Swinburne argues forcefully that if the God of traditional Western monotheism exists, then there is good reason to expect that He would reveal Himself to mankind, and, of course, if we have an a priori expectation that there is probably a revelation out there somewhere, then much less evidence is required to identify some specific item as that revelation than if we had a view of the world which makes such a revelation unlikely (note that Swinburne establishes the authority of the Bible on the basis of the existence of God, not vice versa). However, as one moves on further in Swinburne's book, into the specifics of his theory of revelation, his statements become increasingly problematic (read: false). Swinburne's departure from sound doctrine is not due to flawed philosophical reasoning, but rather to correct reasoning from a false premise. The departure occurs at a very definite point and comes from a very definite cause: the horrible ecclesiology assumed, not argued for, in chapter 8...
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August 29, 2005

Christos as a Proper Name in Matthew

So I was looking at the Greek text of Matthew 27 today (for those of you who have not read my posts on these subjects before, I have been studying classical Greek at Penn for two years now and have been taking some time on my own to look at the text of the NT), and I noticd that Pilate twice (vv. 17, 22) identifies Jesus of Nazareth with the phrase, Iesous hos legomenos Christos, "Jesus, who is called 'Christ.'" The reason I thought this was curious is that it lacks the article (equivalent of the English word "the"). My...
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August 28, 2005

Christian Faith is No Good Unless It's True!

Professor Douglas Groothuis of Culture Watch: Thoughts of a Constructive Curmudgeon has a post arguing primarily that Christianity is incompatible with postmodernism (I would have thought this point was obvious, but apparently not). I wanted to post a link to it here because Professor Groothuis spends some time arguing for a point much-belabored on this blog and in my life: Christian faith is no good unless its content is true. He even cites 1 Corinthians 15, as I often do. If you take away one point from Professor Groothuis's writing or mine, let it be this: in order for Christian...
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Dennett: "Intelligent Design" Obscures Real Objections to Evolution

Daniel Dennet, a brilliant philosopher at Tufts University, known (to me) for his work on personal identity and philosophy of mind, is an avowed atheist. In today's New York Times, Dennet joins the "intelligent design" controversy with a lengthy Op-Ed. The article is four pages long, but I just want to focus on one thing he says and the conclusions he draws from it:
The focus on intelligent design has, paradoxically, obscured something else: genuine scientific controversies about evolution that abound. In just about every field there are challenges to one established theory or another. The legitimate way to stir up such a storm is to come up with an alternative theory that makes a prediction that is crisply denied by the reigning theory - but that turns out to be true, or that explains something that has been baffling defenders of the status quo, or that unifies two distant theories at the cost of some element of the currently accepted view.

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August 25, 2005

FDA to Regulate Medical Usage of Maggots and Leeches

No, I'm not joking. It has been decided that both qualify as "mechanical devices" for medical use and will be regulated accordingly. See the New York Times article here. Now if only they'd regulate mosquitos (out of existence)...
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Topic(s): Politics , Science
Posted by Kenny at 12:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 22, 2005

On the Independence of Calvary Chapel Congregations

GetReligion is running a story on two recent clergy termination scandals in California Calvary Chapels. While these stories are clearly tragic, I think that tmatt's discussion misrepresents the organization of Calvary Chapel. First, as one of the cited articles points out, there is a disciplinary measure available to, and used by, Costa Mesa: disaffiliation. Churches who do not subscribe to the beliefs and practices of Calvary Chapel are disaffiliated and prohibited from using the Calvary Chapel trademark. Calvary Chapel pastors, generally, are accountable to the pastor of some "parent church." For instance, my pastor at Calvary Chapel on the King's...
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August 20, 2005

The Effects of State Sponsorship of Religion

In a series of posts on their blog, Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker and former federal appeals court judge Richard Posner (both now professors at the University of Chicago) discuss the effects of state sponsorship of religion, and the recent supreme court decisions regarding ten commandments displays. Both argue that state sponsorship of a specific religion decreases "competition" between religious groups and thus decreases the likelihood of any individual having his "religious preferences" fulfilled, and simultaneously decreases the overall "religiosity" of a society. Today, they say, the United States is a very "religious" country precisely because the state does not...
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Topic(s): Politics
Posted by Kenny at 3:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 17, 2005

Independent Commission: London Police Lied About Jean Charles de Menezes

The New York Times passes along a report from British news outlet ITV (see also the longer article in The Observer) which obtained leaked documents from the Independent Police Complaints Commission suggesting that the London Police lied about the circumstances surrounding the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian man who was executed without trial on the Tube last month in connection with the terrorist attacks of July 21.
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August 14, 2005

The Cotton Patch Bible, Online

I first heard of The Cotton Patch Bible years ago from a pastor who found it most entertaining, but I had never been able to look at it until today. Better Bibles Blog has a link to where the Cotton Patch Bible is now available online! For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Cotton Patch Bible is a paraphrase written in Souther (US) English vernacular. Jerusalem has been replaced by Atlanta, Bethlehem by Gainesville, GA. Tons of fun. Enjoy!...
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Topic(s): Bible
Posted by Kenny at 3:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (4)

Online on New Server

I'm up and running on the new server, and as far as I can tell everything is in good working order. Please report any problems, and remember to change links and bookmarks with port numbers (e.g., for this blog, links that begin with should be changed to Thanks....
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August 13, 2005

2 Timothy 2:2 - Conclusions (or Lack Thereof)

Last week, I posted on the translation of the prepositon dia in 2 Timothy 2:2. I want to thank everyone for all the responses and the links (particularly the links from Better Bibles Blog and Thanks to lengthy email discussions with commenters John Kendall and Stephen C. Carlson, (which I apologize for my limited participation in and late response to), I think that a basic understanding has been reached on which both translations can be seen to be justified (which is what I had hoped for; I didn't particularly want all of the major translations to be wrong). The...
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August 12, 2005

Real Hosting!

I ordered real hosting for this site and my domain today (in case you didn't know, as of this moment it is running off the linux workstation on my desk, which doesn't work very well due to (a) my domain registrar not supporting dyndns, and (b) Verizon home DSL blocking all kinds of important ports, including most notably port 80, the HTTP port). This will result in a number of changes, the vast majority of which are, in my view, positive. The port numbers that appear in the URLs will go away. At present, translates into, into...
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August 8, 2005

"Innate" Gender Differences and ... Autism?

Today's New York Times features an Op-Ed by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of Cambridge University arguing that, when viewed on the level of broad statistical tendencies across the whole of the human race, males and females exhibit marked neuro-psychological differences, in some ways similar to those suggested by Harvard president Lawrence Summers (you all remember the uproar that ensued). Eager to avoid the mistake made by Dr. Summers, Professor Baron-Cohen is very careful to emphasize the "on the level of broad statistical tendencies" part, and for this I applaud him. As he says in the article, "the differences that show up...
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Topic(s): Science
Posted by Kenny at 9:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 6, 2005

Translation of 2 Timothy 2:2

This summer, I've been leading a weekly Bible study here at Penn. Two of us in the study read classical Greek (the other one is a senior majoring in linguistics and reads a truly absurd number of languages for someone still in undergrad - or, indeed, for anyone), and we often take time to pick apart the original text, and compare the various translations that people bring (mostly NIV, NKJV, ESV, and occasionally NLT). This past week, Steven and I were rather perplexed by the way in which the standard translations have chosen to render 2 Timothy 2:2, and had...
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August 2, 2005

Jesus as a Philosopher

Douglas Groothuis, professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary, meditates on Jesus as a philosopher in a post today on his blog, Culture Watch: Thoughts of a Constructive Curmudgeon. The article makes a good read and asks an important question, Why has there been so little serious study of Jesus as a philosopher to date? I have long propounded a belief that Paul has a sophisicated philosophy of mind, and John a philosophical cosmology, but what of Jesus Himself? Professor Groothuis points to a couple of passages suggesting a deeply philosophical outlook in the thought of Jesus; a devotion to reason...
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August 1, 2005

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia Dies (For Real This Time)

On May 27 of this year, the Washington Times hastily reported the death of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, after he had suffered yet another major stroke. The Times also made various speculations about political struggles going on behind the scenes, as explanation for why the Saudi government insisted that Fahd was hospitalized and in stable condition. Turns out, the Saudi government was telling the truth. Today, the BBC is reporting that the Saudi government has announced that King Fahd has died this afternoon and the Crown Prince Abdullah has succeeded to the throne with no major incidents. It will...
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Topic(s): Politics
Posted by Kenny at 4:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)