Thursday, December 28, 2006

Holiday Reading: Jonathan Edwards by George Marsden

One nice feature of the holiday break is the opportunity to read. This week I have been reading Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden. I have had this volume on my shelf since its publication in 2003, but simply have not had time to read it. But my wife had read it, and continually (but always lovingly) encouraged me to read it.

At the time of writing this post, I am about 340 pages into it (of a total 500 some pages), and it is tremendous. Marsden writes clearly and engagingly, bringing Edwards to life in 3D vividness. I have always loved Edwards, and Marsden's portrait has reminded me once again why Edwards is such an impressive figure. Yet Marsden does not gloss over Edwards' own flaws and shortcomings, but mentions them from a sympathetic perspective. Also helpful is Marsden's ability to place JE within his historical, cultural, and social context so that we may better appreciate Edwards.

I have been most struck by Edwards' relentless infatuation with the beauty and glory of Christ as revealed int he gospel. This infatuation is all the more interesting in light of his own battles with "melancholy" (i.e., depression). What an encouragement to all of us who battle the occasional (or sometimes more than occasional) bouts of spiritual dryness and depression.

Have you read Marsden on Edwards? If so, what were your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Galatians 6:16 - "The Israel of God"

One more post on the conclusion to Galatians. After prioritizing "new creation" in contrast to concerns over circumcision and uncircumcision, Paul writes:

"And those who walk according to this rule, peace and mercy upon them, and/even upon the Israel of God"
Galatians 6:16

The big question that arises from this text is what the phrase "Israel of God" refers to. Does it refer to the church, Jewish Christians, or Jews in general? So take your best shot at interpretation, but please support your conclusion with evidence from the text!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Galatians 6:15 - New Creation

As he comes to the end of his letter to the Galatians, Paul restates a key point in 6:15 -

"For neither circumcision is anything, nor uncircumcision but new creation"

That circumcision is a key issue in the letter is obvious, but where does this reference to "new creation" come from? So, in light of this somewhat unexpected twist of phrase, I ask the following questions:

1. What exactly does Paul mean by "new creation"?

2. How does the concept of "new creation" relate to other key themes in the letter such as justification, the Spirit, promise, blessing, children of Abraham, the heavenly Jerusalem, etc.?

3. Are there any pertinent OT backgrounds that might shed light on the phrase "new creation"?

As usual I have my own thoughts, but I'd like to start by opening the floor to you.