Scripture Reading

What would happen in our churches today if pastors started reading the Scriptures like this?

Nothing irritates me more than hearing Scripture being read as if the reader is a bona fide corpse five days in the grave. What about reading it with passion, or at least in a style of voice that doesn’t immediately give it away that the text is being read? What about adopting a conversational tone of voice for conversations? What about putting the emotion of the text into the reading? Etc.

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Paul and Leithart, part 1

Having finished the Psalms and Prophets section of Leithart’s essay, we will now move on to discuss his treatment of Paul. We will take it in three posts. The first will deal with Leithart’s treatment of Romans 3.

Leithart did not exegete Psalm 143 in the Psalms and Prophets portion. Therefore, it comes as a bit of a surprise that he simply assumes that the same kind of language is operational in Psalm 143 as it is in the other Psalms of which he treated.

Leithart builds on Hays’s treatment of the echoes of Scripture in the letters of Paul. Hays argues that Psalm 143 is the backdrop for the entirety of Romans 3. Leithart has these conclusions: 1. the “righteousness of God” refers to God’s own righteousness in Psalm 143, not an imputed righteousness. Therefore Paul must have held the same here. 2. The plea for Yahweh to display His righteousness is simultaneously a plea for deliverance. 3. Paul must have understood justification in Romans 3 the same way that David did (a favorable judgment of God rendered through deliverance from enemies). See pp. 226-227.

Several points are relevant: 1. Leithart misses the significance of the terminology “enter not into judgment with your servant” in Psalm 143:2. The Hebrew construction is וְאַל־תָּבוֹא בְמִשְׁפָּט. The implications are devastating for Leithart’s position: David does not want judgment of himself, only of his enemies! He is saying that it would be just for God to judge David’s enemies, but that is not the same thing as God entering into judgment with David himself. Plainly then, the deliverance (connected with God’s righteousness, but not with David’s own judgment) is distinct from the justification of David. David is not viewing his own vindication as being the same thing as deliverance. So, if Leithart is correct about Psalm 143 being the backdrop of Romans 3, then it proves the exact opposite of Leithart’s claim: David’s understanding of justification and Paul’s being the same means that deliverance from sin is not part of the same act as justification. 2. This is one allusion (Psalm 143:2 in Romans 3:20). This does not prove that the entire Psalm is the entire background, anyway. I am at a loss as to how Leithart can claim that “Paul, remarkably, brings David’s prayer for deliverance explicitly into a discussion of justification.” Where, pray, is the prayer that is so explicit? Leithart forgot to cite the biblical text in this claim to explicitness, and it is anything but explicit.

These considerations prove that Leithart’s claim is unjustified, when he says that “passages using ‘justification’ in an ‘improper’ sense echo in the background of Paul’s discussion” (p. 227). Even if Leithart were correct, it would not justify changing our doctrine of justification based on such speculation.

Please Pray for the Kennedy Family

The Rev. Dr. D. James Kennedy passed into glory early this morning. Please pray for the immediate and the church family.

On a Debate With Wilson

Douglas Wilson has graciously offered to debate me publicly in an oral format. I thank him most kindly for the compliment that such an offer implies. I will be quite honest and frank: I don’t have the same rhetorical skills that Wilson has. I have been assiduously avoiding any kind of scathing remarks directed towards Wilson, because I really don’t want his atomic rhetoric directed my way (and, by the way, the reference to “atomic rhetoric” is not meant as a slam either; it is only an illustration of the power of rhetoric, especially Wilson’s). I’ve thrown a few “jabs” his way, and he to me. However, even he has admitted that these are “above the belt.” So far, it is an honest contest. I get caught up in the heat of a moment such as a debate would entail. It is not usually good for my sanctification. Here on the blogs, I have the luxury (and necessary help!) of my library. I admit it freely: I use my library as a crutch. So, in respectfully declining Wilson’s invitation, I am only acknowledging my own sinfulness and inadequacy that such a debate would inevitably augment.

I am grateful for the dialog/debate that Wilson and I have engaged in over the period of these last several months on our blogs, and I hope we can keep that going, even past my review of RINE. It seems to be fruitful (judging by comments from FV advocates and critics alike). Plus, I can control my own temperature much better. It does seem to be the only place left on the internet where FV advocate and critic can still interact, and I do not want to jeopardize that, which I feel an oral debate would do.

Speaking of jeopardizing debate, since lesser means have been inadequate to quell the caustic remarks of some, these four writers will be temporarily suspended from posting privileges, until they can show that their tone can be respectful of my wishes on this blog: RobertK, MarkT, Sean Gerety, and Stewart Quarles. They can try to comment, but their comments will be deleted. I am sorry to use this method, fellas. But you have to stay on topic, which is the original post. Currently, there will be a one week waiting period, after which they will be allowed back on condition of non-troll-like comments. If that can be shown, then they will be welcome back. I trust that these four writers will respect my wishes. Don’t make me erase all the comments you have ever posted on this blog, so that any new comments are caught in the moderator’s queue. I will do that, if you do not respect these commands. That will mean that you will never even have the opportunity to post again on this blog. This is my blog, and I have control over it. I have been lax up until now in the hopes that cool heads and clear thinking will prevail. That has not happened. If you want to rant, get your own blog/do it on your own blog.

Let me be clear. 1. This is not an utter, final suspension. 2. The tone of comments on my blog needs definite improvement, as many commenters have now noted. 3. The relative positions of these four writers are now well-known to all, and they are not typically adding new things to the discussion. 4. Their comments are having a tendency to discourage other commenters from writing. 5. The standard for comments is that it must be on topic, which is defined as being closely or directly related to the post itself. 6. The tone will be respectful of all other commenters, false teachers or not. This is not a church court. No name-calling will be allowed.

Let me say how disappointed I am in the turn this blog has taken in the comments. I do not like making rules up like this. I want this blog to be a scholarly interaction with ideas, not a slam attack on people. I am all for heat in a blog debate, as I have shown myself on many occasions. But it should be heat directed at a position, not at a person. We must distinguish (however slightly) between the person and the position. People can hold positions out of many reasons, not all of them bad motives. Good motives do not excuse bad theology. However, good motives can mean that someone with bad theology is not trying to be a snake. However improbable that might seem to some, that leeway is given by me to Wilson at the very least.