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Archive for May, 2008

Here Milton Friedmann talks about greed and ambition as the fundamental driving force behind capitalism and a free society. So can Christians endorse and support Capitalism? I once thought we couldn’t/shouldn’t. However I don’t think so anymore. I really don’t think there is a better alternative system or one that function best with democracy.

Having said that, I do want to humbly propose (though this idea isn’t really mine at all) that the fundamental difference between a Christian’s view of capitalist economy and the secular one is this driving force that Friedmann describes so well in this video. If I’ve understood the puritans correctly, the Christian’s view of social and economic freedom is both delimited and driven by vocation. Maybe we can call this “vocational libertarianism”. Christians should defend libertarian democracies, (while still allowing some role for the state), for while this allows “pagans” to pursue their selfish ambitions, Christians can carry out God’s cultural mandate (Gen 1.28; 2.15) with enough flexibility to pursue their vocation in the world.

This vocation will vary for Christian to Christian, and will include engineering, sciences, economics, arts and sports. But all and everything must be done for the glory of God. As Oliver Barclay has put it, this may mean that Christians will not go up the “ladder of success” as quickly, because they aren’t willing to back-stab co-workers to get ahead (or in the case of sports, for example, take steroids to compete better), but at the same time allows them to genuinely influence those around them, and society as a whole, serving as a social backbone that hopefully can counter-act the current secular backbone that drives most social/economic actions in society and the marketplace.

Examples include economic anomalies like Monopolies. Monopolies actually stifle freedom, by killing competition. This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be any large corporations, but rather these should not posses so much control over the marketplace that their power restricts economic freedom, impso facto creating the same problem that large states often do.

At the end of the day, Christian vocation, whatever it may look like, looks for the Lordship of Christ to be recognized in every sphere of life. Here is the real challenge. As we stand in the public square, we call all people to bow before Christ. This includes the “secular watch-dog” that surveys the square (as Doug Wilson has suggested here). There are no exceptions. And there is no neutral ground.

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The Covenant in Eden was a covenant of grace. But there seem to be indications that it had a “forward” thrust: there seems to be a cultural mandate (Gen 1.26-28; 2.5, 15) of expansion, of subduing, of populating, of working and keeping and of creativity (Gen 2.19, 20). Man participates by God’s grace (2.19) in the creative task, and “thrust” cycle of work isn’t endlessly cyclical, but has an end goal of rest, reflecting God established creative work (Gen 2.2, 3; cf. Ex. 20.9-11).

It is interesting to think also that if Adam and Eve had accepted God’s invitation to “eat” from the trees (including the “tree of life”) they would’ve have learnt about “good and Evil” anyways, but on God’s terms. The two trees therefore seem to have a pedagogical and A & E would have presumable moved on and grown in knowledge of God, of themselves and of the world.

After the fall, God’s choice not to ultimately and finally destroy the world (for now) seems to be based on His commitment to creation, and His choice to promise redemption (in the promise of the garden and then to Abraham) are a reflection of God’s creation-commitment (covenant), while at the same time, His commitment to His Holy-Self must mean the evil must be punished and dealt with.

Israel is faced with the same choice as A & E in the garden, as seen in Deut. 30.19: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live…”

Israel chooses death, and indeed Exile is surely a national death, as it is the covenant curse (predicted as well in Deuteronomy), that is a total reversal of God’s promises of blessing. They are sent “out of Canaan” just as A & E are sent “out of Eden”.

But God is commited, bound to His creation and His purposes through creation, and therefore commited unconditionally to Israel as an extension of His salvific (recreational) purposes, despite Israel, like a microcosm of the larger world, “being in Adam”.

God Himself must come down and do something. He comes in Jesus Christ.

Christ takes on the obedience and role that Adam and Israel should have carried out but failed. And Jesus suffers the death that all deserved for sin. But Resurrection is a reminder of God’s fulfillment of His covenant promises, of His commitment to Himself and to His creation. The resurrected Jesus is the new Adam, the new Israel, redefined and recreated around Himself.

Anyone who has faith in Christ, who has been baptized in Him is “a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5.17). The new Israel of God, is that who is a new creation in Christ, no longer those wo are part linked to Torah and its signposts (Gal 6.13-15).

Baptism and Faith divides the outside, decaying world of “uncreation” from the first fruits of the New Creation (” Thess 2.13), the Church, a living breathing “Now-and-not-yet” community, living in fellowship, formed and molded by the Word (taughted and enacted), prayer and worship (Col. 3.16).

And the end goal, when Christ returns will be completely unveiled. The heavenly Jerusalem, coming down to earth. The climax of the story: from garden to city.

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The Anti-Federal Vision study bible is always naughty and usually quite funny. I like this post on Limited Atonement. And no, I’m not going to say whether or not I am an Amyraldian or not (don’t be mean, James).

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[Hyperbole warning]

We were thinking today at the office. Why is Islam so attractive? In part, maybe, because it actually offers its adherents an alternative society. Not merely a private trendy spirituality, but an actual alternative worldview, culture and community. As Leithart would say, an alternative polis.

The Roman Catholic church does/is doing that. I think Pope Benedict XVI is very conscientious about it: he sees western modernity in its decadence and knows that [Roman] Catholicism must affirm itself as a different society, a new Ark at the ideological end of history (wave to Fukuyama).

Whereas Evangelicals run behind the latest social trends, trying hard to keep up and be “relevant”.

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From the News section in the CANA website. The following letter was sent to the Anglican District of Virginia in 2003, following the crisis in ECUSA sparked by the consecration of a practising homosexual bishop:

October 9, 2003

From Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

The Vatican, on behalf of Pope John Paul II

I hasten to assure you of my heartfelt prayers for all those taking part in this convocation.  The significance of your meeting is sensed far beyond Plano, and even in this City from which Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to confirm and strengthen the preaching of Christ¹s Gospel in England.  Nor can I fail to recall that barely 120 years later, Saint Boniface brought that same Christian faith from England to my own forebears in Germany.

The lives of these saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is a unity in truth and a communion of grace which transcend the borders of any nation.  With this in mind, I pray in particular that God¹s will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth, the gift of Christ himself.

With fraternal regards, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Interesting…

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The one book meme

Rather late in the game, I thought I’d try this one myself. If you’d like to participate, just post your own responses to these questions and tag five people. Welcome to the One Book Meme!

1. One book that changed your life:
Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:

Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:

The Bible. Or at least, the Psalms.

4. One book that made you laugh:

Bill Meyers, My Life as a smashed burrito with extra hot sauce.

5. One book that made you cry:
Patricia Verdugo, Los Zarpazos del Puma

6. One book that you wish had been written:
Looking back and moving forward: towards a recovery of reformed catholicity

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Brian McClaren, A Generous Orthodoxy

8. One book you’re currently reading:
John Owen, The Mortification of Sin

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Eugene Peterson, Christ plays in a thousand places

10. Now tag five people: I’ll just tag James and Becka… anyone else who wants in is welcome.

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And I love it!

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