Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Another Amusing Quiz

Which theologian are you?

Justin seems to have a penchant for finding interesting sites on the internet (or knowing others who can find interesting sites in the internet). This quiz tells you what theologian you are based on your answers to questions. Here are the results I got:

You scored as Anselm.

Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period.He sees man's primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read 'Cur Deus Homo?'

Anselm 93%
John Calvin 67%
Karl Barth 67%
Jonathan Edwards 67%
Martin Luther 60%
Friedrich Schleiermacher 47%
Paul Tillich 27%
J├╝rgen Moltmann 27%
Charles Finney 20%
Augustine 7%

Perosnally, more than the other quiz, I think this is not very accurate. While I admit I am very Anselmic, I was surprised that Calvin was not higher, or at least closer to Anselm. Personally, I see Calvin as the model theologian, and maybe I am just being vain, but I think many of my positions and practices are patterned after him. I was surprised (sort of) to see Barth as high as Calvin, but the existentialist comes out at last. The biggest thing I disagree with was how low Augustine is represented. I can guess that this was based solely on my response to two questions which are idiomatic to his position and not central. At the very least, Augustine should have scored much higher than Tillich, Moltmann, and Finney. But, at the end of the day, it is just a silly quiz, why get bugged by it.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Missing Camden Children

I will be posting something on the trip to Camden in about a week, but a recent development calls for prayer. About three hours ago, 3 children who had been missing in Camden since Wendsday night were found dead in the trunk of a car near their house by one of the boy's father. The authorities have not released a lot of information, but this is a horrible tragedy for this family and community. The children went missing only a few blocks from where Pastor Alvira's church in Camden where we will run a Vaction Bible School in about a week and a half. One of the children who was found attended the VBS we ran two years ago. Pastor Alvira was involved in the search for the children. Please pray that he would have wisdom to comfort this family in their loss, and an opportunity to present the gospel. Also, pray that this tragedy would not hinder out ability to minister to the children in the neighborhood.

One another related note, also keep Pastor Alvira's health in prayer, as he was recently in a car accident and injured his back. While bad enough for a person in normal health, with his RSDS, this could pose a more signficant risk. Pray for his doctors, one of whom is an elder in the OPC church in nearby Bellmawr, to have wisdom in how to treat Ben; and for healing an strength for Pastor Alvira so he can effectivly perservere in his ministry.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Exegeting Stop Signs

Someone sent this out on a list, and it was too funny to pass up posting. Some good, intelligent humor is a good thing; plus, it might keep a satisfy a certain New Yorker who want me to post something :-)

Hermeneutics in everyday life

Suppose you're travelling to work and you see a stop sign. What do you do? That depends on how you exegete the stop sign.

1. A postmodernist deconstructs the sign (knocks it over with his car), ending forever the tyrrany of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.

2. Similarly, a Marxist sees a stop sign as an instrument of class conflict. He concludes that the bourgeoisie use the north-south road and obstruct the progress of the workers on the east-west road.

3. A serious and educated Catholic believes that he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its interpretive community and their tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn't take it too seriously, he doesn't feel obligated to take it too seriously either.

4. An average Catholic (or Orthodox or Coptic or Anglican or Methodist or Presbyterian or whatever) doesn't bother to read the sign but he'll stop if the car in front of him does.

5. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell him to go.

6. A preacher might look up "STOP" in his lexicons of English and discover that it can mean: 1) something which prevents motion, such as a plug for a drain, or a block of wood that prevents a door from closing; 2) a location where a train or bus lets off passengers. The main point of his sermon the following Sunday on this text is: when you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic is naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your car.

7. An orthodox Jew does one of two things:
1) Take another route to work that doesn't have a stop sign so that he doesn't run the risk of disobeying the Law.
2) Stop at the stop sign, say "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast given us thy commandment to stop," wait 3 seconds according to his watch, and then proceed. Incidently, the Talmud has the following comments on this passage: R[abbi] Meir says: He who does not stop shall not live long. R. Hillel says: Cursed is he who does not count to three before proceeding. R. Simon ben Yudah says: Why three? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, gave us the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. R. ben Isaac says: Because of the three patriarchs. R. Yehuda says: Why bless the Lord at a stop sign? Because it says: "Be still, and know that I am God." R. Hezekiel says: When Jephthah returned from defeating the Ammonites, the Holy One, blessed be He, knew that a donkey would run out of the house and overtake his daughter; but Jephthah did not stop at the stop sign, and the donkey did not have time to come out. For this reason he saw his daughter first and lost her. Thus he was judged for his transgression at the stop sign. R. Gamaliel says: R. Hillel, when he was a baby, never spoke a word, though his parents tried to teach him by speaking and showing him the words on a scroll. One day his father was driving through town and did not stop at the sign. Young Hillel called out: "Stop, father!" In this way, he began reading and speaking at the same time. Thus it is written:
"Out of the mouth of babes." R. ben Jacob says: Where did the stop sign come from? Out of the sky, for it is written: "Forever, O Lord, your word is fixed in the heavens." R. ben Nathan says: When were stop signs created? On the fourth day, for it is written: "let them serve as signs." R. Yeshuah says: ... [continues for three more pages]

8. A Pharisee does the same thing as an orthodox Jew, except that he waits 10 seconds instead of 3. He also replaces his brake lights with 1000 watt searchlights and connects his horn so that it is activated whenever he touches the brake pedal.

9. A scholar from Jesus seminar concludes that the passage "STOP" undoubtably was never uttered by Jesus himself, but belongs entirely to stage III of the gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its parking lot.

10. A NT scholar notices that there is no stop sign on Mark street but there is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes that the ones on Luke and Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on a completely hypothetical street called "Q". There is an excellent 300 page discussion of speculations on the origin of these stop signs and the differences between the stop signs on Matthew and Luke street in the scholar's commentary on the passage. There is an unfortunately omission in the commentary, however; the author apparently forgot to explain what the text means.

11. An OT scholar points out that there are a number of stylistic differences between the first and second half of the passage "STOP". For example, "ST" contains no enclosed areas and 5 line endings, whereas "OP" contains two enclosed areas and only one line termination. He concludes that the author for the second part is different from the author for the first part and probably lived hundreds of years later. Later scholars determine that the second half is itself actually written by two separate authors because of similar stylistic differences between the "O" and the "P".

12. Another prominent OT scholar notes in his commentary that the stop sign would fit better into the context three streets back. (Unfortunately, he neglected to explain why in his commentary.) Clearly it was moved to its present location by a later redactor. He thus exegetes the intersection as though the stop sign were not there. More Inside!!!

13. Because of the difficulties in interpretation, another OT scholar emends the text, changing "T" to "H". "SHOP" is much easier to understand in context than "STOP" because of the multiplicity of stores in the area. The textual corruption probably occured because "SHOP" is so similar to "STOP" on the sign several streets back that it is a natural mistake for a scribe to make. Thus the sign should be interpreted to announce the existence of a shopping area.