Kimchi Fest

I love Bavaria, sauerkraut, and Oktoberfest, but last week at Han Ah Reum was "kimchi fest!"

Apparently, fermented food is very healthy. Fermentation, among other things, produces enzymes that aid digestion.


Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi... Lex Vivendi
The law of prayer (worship) is the law of belief (faith/doctrine)... is the law of life (way of living)

It is an ancient insight that the way we worship determines what we believe. Those who worship like pagans --despite an initial Christian profession-- eventually believe like pagans. Similarly, in his work The Necessity of Reforming The Church, Calvin wrote:
“If it is asked by what things the Christian religion exists (and maintains its truth) among us, we will say these two things (which comprehend under them all the other parts, and consequently the whole substance of Christianity):
First, a knowledge of the way in which God is properly worshipped; and,
Second, a knowledge of the source from which salvation is obtained.”

In his own peculiar fashion Kuyper suggests the inescapable connection between worship and worldview. It is not just one's "dogma" that is corrupted by unbiblical worship, but one's whole way-of-life. My professing Reformed friends who are either ignorant of biblical-regulative worship or have abandoned it for a form predicated on an opposite principle ought to heed Kuyper's warning. It is vain to suppose that a (community-) life committed to God's revelation can be maintained while it is principially undermined in liturgical practice.

Here are a few more articles for your edification, by T. David Gordon, G. I. Williamson, Greg L. Price, Wes Bredenhof, and Gregory Rickmar.


Sunday School Online

A friend of mine is teaching a senior high class at his church on Christ in the Old Testament. Some of the book discussion and other resources are on the class website. Stop by and discover how rich and wonderful God's Word is.

And while I'm on the topic of the Bible, if you are looking for a helpful introduction to faithful interpretation, I recommend "Let The Reader Understand" by McCartney and Clayton.

Here are a few other helpful articles on biblical hermeneutics by Michael Horton 1, 2, 3; D.A. Carson; Steven Baugh.


Lost In The Cosmos

Recently, I watched two films that resonate with each other. The first is The Beach (not to be confused with On The Beach) from 2000, directed by Danny Boyle (of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting). The second is Lost In Translation from this year, directed by Sofia Coppola (no introduction necessary).

The resonance of these two films is not only in the "theme" of lost-ness (and related themes) but in a "world-ethos," I think. The films are quite different, but somehow they could occur in the same universe. It's an ethos that holds up a mirror to certain disturbing realities, then walks away and forgets what they look like. But I don't want to forget.


Antidote To Apathy

There has been some talk about apathy among the student crowd (so I've heard). I'm assuming that this apathy is particularly related to "social conscience and activism." One may suppose there are no easy answers. But we can take courage. While the answers are not easy, there are answers.

Diagnosising "causal" factors in apathy is always important. Surely there may be many diverse factors involved. However, one thing we can be certain of is that there is indeed a spiritual root to this apathy. I suggest that the spiritual dynamic involved here is well addressed in an understanding of "assurance."

Each of the three following "essays" --Joel Beeke's [pdf], Peter Jensen's, and Bill Baldwin's-- they all point to the gospel, and its objective claims, as the rock-solid basis of assurance. However, even if one has assurance by the true gospel as an individual believer, a biblically-faithful church is normative for the maintenance and growth of biblical assurance. Let's face it, a proper understanding of the gospel will lead many to become critical of their current "confessional communities," and rightly so. But be forewarned: many others will put their hands to the plow and then turn back.

In any case, the primary message here is that only the real gospel will produce real assurance. Only real assurance will produce a biblical social conscience and activism.


Philosophical Anthropology In Transcendental Criticism

Generally speaking, my blog is for a general audience. In this entry, as perhaps in the last, the language is more jargoned. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, think of it in terms of learning about my "professional" side.

An anthropology is important to transcendental criticism if such a critique of theoretical thought is to account for the nature of abstraction which involves a thinker (ie, Man). Dooyeweerdianism holds that humans are more than the sum of their modal functions. There is indeed a supratemporal dimension of Man. There is much to say about this, but its import for transcendental criticism is particularly apparent in theoretical "synthesis."

When, in abstraction, any given modality is set overagainst the analytic modality, and thus theoretically isolated, it requires synthesis --analogical relating to the other modalities-- to be grasped conceptually, otherwise it remains ambiguous as a modal-nucleus "limiting idea." For theoretical synthesis to occur, the person doing the abstracting must in some sense stand "above" the array of modalities in order to have a comprehensive grasp of them. The person must stand as a "supratemporal unity" in his concrete act of thought for the abstraction to maintain a unity.

I realize this is much contested. Some would prefer to posit an exclusively temporal unity, making humans no more than the sum of their functions. But I am not persuaded that this allows for a genuine transcendently-directed pistic function. Others attempt to do away with the neccessity of synthesis altogether by positing that the abstracted modality is not set overagainst the analytic modality, but rather against the concrete act of thought. However, as Dooyeweerd maintains, this would remove the very possibility of actually thinking it! Furthermore, I don't see how a transcendental critique that skips the anthropological step actually accounts for the nature of abstraction itself.

More On Anthropology...

Not yet knowing exactly what import this may have for transcendental criticism --I am persuing the connection between Meredith G. Kline's categories for the Imago Dei in Man: "official" and "ethical," and Al Wolters categories of "structure" and "direction."

The theological works of Kline have greatly stimulated my philosophical thinking concerning both the temporal/supratemporal distinction in creation, and a (supposed) non-"religiously neutral" sacred/secular distinction in temporal culture. I think Kline's work holds great promise for Dooyeweerdian scholarship.


Why I Am A Dooyeweerdian

Disclaimer: One does not need a philosophy to be a Christian. I take philosophy to be an academic discipline. I certainly recognize that one can be a Christian and have nothing to do with theory or scholarship.

In this atypically long entry, there are several things I would like to address: a rough definition of Dooyeweerdianism, a bit of the story of how I became a Dooyeweerdian, and an indication how I subscribe to this school of philosophy.

When others ask me to explain what philosophy is, I often say something like: “well, different academic fields look at reality in different specific ways. For instance, biology is concerned about 'the organic' and 'how things are alive,' and it asks biological sorts of questions --about photosynthesis, for example. Sociology, on the other hand, is concerned about 'groups' and 'how people behave and relate,' and it asks questions about that. Aesthetics, however, is concerned about 'art' and 'how things are symbolic,' and it asks artistic sorts of questions. All the various disciplines ask their own specific types of questions. But philosophy is broader. It wants to looks at the big picture; the totality. Philosophy asks questions about asking questions, you might say.”

Philosophy is the "totality" science (theoretical discipline). It is about analyzing the whole structure of temporal creation. It often involves a great deal of categorical and conceptual clarification.

Dooyeweerdianism --as represented in Dooyeweerd's work "A New Critique," for example-- approaches philosophy in three major divisions:
1) transcendental criticism, in which the religious foundation, orientation, and pre-commitments of all theory and philosophy is explained;
2) modal theory, in which the "multi-aspectual" character of temporal reality, in its diversity and coherence, is explained; and
3) individuality-structure theory, in which the nature of "entities," in their various composition, is explained.
Amidst the prolegomenal and cosmological discussion in the New Critique, Dooyeweerd also suggests a philosophical anthropology and social philosophy.

Dooyeweerdianism is concerned to approach philosophy, its several sub-disciplines, and the full array of theoretical fields from a non-scholastic, non-synthesis, non-rationalist, radically biblical (calvinistic) and critical manner. Dooyeweerdianism is opposed to all reductionism and ideologies.

In early high school I was profoundly influenced by G.I. Williamson's study on the Westminster Confession of Faith. This was a great milestone in maturity for me in my understanding and appreciation of the Reformed Faith in which I was raised. I then read Calvin's Institutes and the works of F.A. Schaeffer. By the end of high school, I had read a bit of Cornelius Van Til. I knew then that I wanted to be a philosopher, and my mouth was watering for a comprehensive system that took seriously the idea that the Christian religion provides a unique basis of its own for genuine philosophy.

In college I was introduced to various Christian approaches to philosophy, but I found Kuyper and Dooyeweerd most compelling. I sensed that Wolters and Walsh&Middleton possessed what I was looking for. I was very curious about this much-maligned "Dooyeweerd" fellow.

In my second year I got a copy of L. Kalsbeek's book. The following summer, I read it over and over; making notes, struggling with questions. By the end of the summer I felt as though the ground had been pulled out from beneath me. That summer I experienced a conversion. That may sound suspicious or kooky, but I think the language is appropriate. Unbeknownst to me, I had been an embryonic rationalist. However, Dooyeweerdianism showed me how this was fundamentally incompatible with my religion. I felt reborn into a new theoretical consciousness. Someone once said, “No one has a philosophy. A philosophy has you.”

I continued to read and contemplate whatever Dooyeweerdian material I could find. (Perhaps I will list some works I found helpful in another entry). The most difficult part about progressing in my philosophical understanding was that I was horribly alone. Dooyeweerdians often speak of the crucial importance of laboring (theoretically or otherwise) in community. It took me quite a while to find a few kindred spirits.

Despite isolation and misunderstanding by others I continued to embrace and grow in this school of thought for at least two main reasons:
1) Dooyeweerdianism takes the revelation of God in Jesus Christ with utter seriousness, and seeks to submit its theories at every turn, with total abandon, to His commanding Lordship;
2) Dooyeweerdianism has tremendous explanatory power for the temporal creation in its overwhelming diversity and coherence.

In Dooyeweerdianism I have come to better understand my very self, and that, of course, is a dictum for the pursuit of wisdom. If you are interested in discovering more about this school of philosophy, I recommend to you the Dooyeweerd Pages. And keep an eye out for a future post on other helpful materials.

Also consider the comments of Gideon Strauss, Macht B., and David Koyzis on being Dooyeweerdian.


Water, Oil, and Wine

This past Lord's Day, I witnessed an "Exaltation of the Holy Cross" feastday baptism at a Greek Orthodox Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The service included a chrism/myron and communion. You can read a pamphlet [pdf] roughly describing the ceremony here.

Following the service we went to my friends' home and ate, drank, smoked... but no one discussed religion, really. The group was quite spiritually eclectic. And I think, on the occasion of a baptism, everyone felt that making "religion" the riotous debate topic it usually is at good parties would have been in bad taste. So, instead, we discussed the savory food, and the importance of quality neighborhood restaurants (preferably within walking distance).

Anyway, I picked up some Conciliar Press propaganda at the church to entertain me for a while.


Amsterdam Afterall?

In 1997 I visited the Free University of Amsterdam, exploring the possibility of studying there. The requirement of being fluent in Dutch was daunting. But now they are offering a one year Interdisciplinary Masters in Christians Studies in the English language:

"...for persons who are preparing for leadership positions within social and political organizations, and for teachers and staff members in [universities and research]... for the development of a relevant Christian presence within contemporary and societal debates."
Chatting With Merchants

In a local strip-mall, near the coffee shop where I'm working, there is an old fellow who sells Polish wooden boxes. On my lunch break he introduced me to three-way chess. Crazy. And I was surprised to learn that there is even a way to play chess with three players on a standard board, called "foreign policy" chess.


Fightin' Words

On this anniversary, let us once again take note that Islam officially advocates war with non-muslims. From the Qur'an:

"And fight with infidels until... religion should be only for Allah" (8:39).

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah,... nor follow the religion of truth" (9:29).


Having Answers

Not long ago I received a fairly personal rejection. I was dismissively waved-off by a certain group for --get this-- “being the sort of person who has answers.” I don't challenge the accusation, but the slight was personal and I was actually wounded by it. I was hurt that this group was so blatantly prejudiced. I was hurt because, previous to this incident, I had been fooled into thinking this group had integrity and that it shared various commitments I hold dear.

At best, the criticism was a euphemism for "not being open-minded." Nonetheless, I did seriously consider the insinuation that I am not properly or sufficiently self-critical. I had to do this because being self-critical is one of my most valued principles, and that very fact means that I take such aspersions to heart. In the end, partly through the encouragement of more objective witnesses, I realized this group was being hypocritical and petty. They felt threatened, and their rejection amounted to saying: “you don't think the way we do. go away.”

To be ever seeking the truth, but never finding it; ever questioning, but never answering is hubris and cowardice in the extreme. Those who would be genuinely open-minded and self-critical should consider Chesterton’s reflection that “the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid” (Autobiography. Collected Works Vol. 16, p. 212).


Buffalo Soldier

Kenn Blanchard is arming citizens in D.C. and Baltimore for self-defense, and educating for a new culture. God bless the pistol-packing preacher.


Eschaton and Apocalypse

For those of you who have asked me about a biblical view of "last things/end times," here are some recommendations. Much like the theme of God's Kingdom, eschatology is actually more basic than salvation. Creational eschatology is the context in which redemption is set. Not all of the following articles or books focus on that point, but it should not be neglected.

For many excellent articles on amillennialism and the book of Revelation consider The Highway and The Mountain Retreat. You may also enjoy Riddlebarger's book on the "amil" view, and Hendriksen, Poythress, and Johnson on Revelation, all written for a general audience.

Another writer, on both the Kingdom and the Eschaton, is George Eldon Ladd. He was a historic (non-dispensational) "premillennialist," but had a lot of good things to say.


Kingdom of God

I've read it twice now. I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in exploring the Kingdom of God, John Bright's book. It is amazingly entertaining to read, tremendously educational, and wonderfully edifying.

The other two books I really benefited from on this topic are more academic, but still recommendable: Ridderbos and Vos. If you must read something on the Kingdom this very moment, try Riddlebarger.


Can't Get Enough

Thursday night I attended an informal "ideas" discussion group. We are useing How To Think About The Great Ideas as a springboard. We discussed the first chapter on Truth. I had the opportunity (in everyday language) to argue transcendentally. To really explain my non-technical proposal would involve too much explanation about the comments to which I was responding. But the basic notion was about how we can't think philosophically about truth and what-is-true "purely rationally" apart from fundamental "faith" commitments. The group seemed responsive to the alternative definition of "faith": that it is not believing something "implausible" that we can't really "know," but that it is genuinely taking something as certain. The "something" here requires qualification to fill out what I was saying.

Anyway, I was really pleased to be understood. And it was a thrill to chat with sincere peers about ideas.


Labor Day

Appropriately, I began my new job at a coffee shop today. Although I despise the heretical Wesley (prefering his contemporaries Whitefield and Toplady), I refer you to these comments to mark this important day.
No Help, No Harm

Some of my earliest memories are of dreams. Devastating night-terrors, really. Some dreams can be more powerful or meaningful than experiences in waking life, and you never forget them. A few years ago I woke myself in a bout of loud, uncontrollable weeping. I was shook-up for days.

Anyway, last night I dreamt...