Friday, August 26, 2005

Thursday, August 25, 2005

How far would you go to see your name in print?
Here's a man with an idea.
Due to a number of conversations, both on- and offline, I have been thinking about what I'll call the problem of baptism. The problem I'm referring to is this--what should I say, as a person with a fairly high view of the sacraments, to someone whose sole claim to being a Christian is that he was baptized as an infant?

I phrased it that way because I was thinking more about what sort of rhetoric to use with a real person than about trying to get theologically precise about the situation. I came up with a little analogy. Tell me if if this seems helpful.

Me: So you say you were baptized.

X: Yep. I guess that makes me a Christian.

Me: What if we think about it this way, X. Let's say you hired someone new at your office. You sent him a letter informing him that he has been hired, but he never actually showed up to work. Would you say that person is working for your company?

X: Of course not.

Me: Baptism is a little like that. It is supposed to mark the beginning of your life as a Christian, just like being hired marks the beginning of your work.

X: Well, I have gone to church for Christmas services. That should count for something.

Me: Ah, so the hiree shows up for the complany annual picnic. NOW does he work there?

X: I guess not. Plus, even if he wanted to come to work after all that time, he'd probably have a few things to get stright with the boss.

Me: I think you're getting it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Why were these invented AFTER I grew up?
I think this is good enough to become a poster. I vote to replace all copies of "Footprints" with Mark's aphorism.
I think it is about time for me to give out some awards. All of you bloggers out there have worked so hard to keep me entertained that I think you deserve some recognition. I just have to come up with the categories. Things like "best blog I've been too lazy to link to on my sidebar". Feel free to nominate yourself for a specific category.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The wifely one just sent me a nice article on some of what is going on within walking distance from our house. Maybe you should think seriously about why you haven't moved to Mebane yet.
Pretty much what I expected.

You scored as Albus Dumbledore. Strong and powerful you admirably defend your world and your charges against those who would seek to harm them. However sometimes you can fail to do what you must because you care too much to cause suffering.

Albus Dumbledore


Ron Weasley


Remus Lupin


Harry Potter


Hermione Granger


Severus Snape


Sirius Black


Ginny Weasley


Lord Voldemort


Draco Malfoy


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Since I often enjoy stating the obvious, I might as well link to an article doing so. In this case, the subject being the problematic nature of "rights" as the basis of society. Most of the writers I've seen on this trace the problem to a lack of common account of the good, but its all the same.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

We'll be out of town all week, so no blogging 'til next week. Sorry.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Since I'm writing on pauline theology, I guess I should go ahead and link to this startling news about E P Sanders.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Started reading Krister Stendahl today. What a refreshing and clear way he has of talking about the work and teachings of Paul the apostle. One of the interesting points he makes (and this is old hat for some of you out there) is that Paul seems to have nothing resembling a guilty conscience. He refers to his conduct as judged by the law as "blameless". The only sin he confesses to in his life (and does regret, without doubt) is the persecution of the church (I Cor 15:9), but then he immediately talks about how hard he has worked to make up for it (I Cor 15:10), pausing to clarify that that work was "not I, but the grace of God that was with me."

Anyhow, that is just a sub-sub-point under his overarching thesis that what Paul was adressing, particularly in Romans and Galatians, was not trying to establish the doctrine of how we become saved (justification by faith), but that this doctrine was one Paul developed to support his argument that the Gentiles can enter into the covenant with the God of Israel without going through the law as the Jews did.

One other interesting point he made which I hadn't thought through before, is the difference in Paul's attitude towards circumcision and the dietary laws. With the latter, he feels free to make allowances (Romans 14:1ff), but with circumcision (Galatians), nothing of the sort. While these were both aspects of the law, of course, circumcision was the sign of entering into, and promising full submission to the law. Paul argues in Galatians, Stendahl says, relying strictly on quotations from the Pentateuch, that the law was not eternal, and that it was flawed, given as a result of transgression (possibly due directly to the golden calf idol), and that it did not come directly through God, but was mediated by angels and by Moses.

Stendahl points out that many post-reformation readers of Galatians seem to think Paul is saying that the Gentiles must first turn to the law to learn of their sinfulness. This is nearly the opposite of Paul's actual point. Interesting stuff.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I never tire of saying positive things about my church, but there's one thing that got me thinking. Quite often during an infant baptism, that pastor will say something about the day when the child makes the christian faith their own. I'm not necessarily uncomfortable with that, but I wonder why it is necessary. Is there something wrong with someone clinging to the faith of their parents throughout their life?

I suppose every baptized Christian faces temptations to renounce their faith at various times, so one can always, in those moments, decide to abandon their parents faith. But why does there have to be a transition from "their" faith to "my" faith?

Also, on a related question, if (the majority of) presbyterians are going to practice adult only celebration of the communion meal, why are we not allowed to celebrate the elevation of a child to this new adult privilege? If it's a such a big deal to keep the children out, why can't it be a big deal when they are let in?

There. I've now touched on my only major problems with my local church. Besides the fact that they don't serve wine. I guess that bring the count up to three now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A good video clip of nature's most well armed killing machine.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Good editorial about the problems of teaching reading in high schools.
I knew it was only a matter of time before we saw this story.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Thought of the day:

If success in life was correlated with rate of reading books, Harriet Klausner would be running the world.
Had a small epiphany today. I seem to have found a relationship between two of my annoyances at american culture, namely our dependence on cars and our lack of musicality. I realize either of those are debatable things, to say the least, but I name them only as annoyances, not as anything greater. Anyhow, I was thinking today about rhythm, and about how often, during the times I walk somewhere, I tend to compose little tunes in my mind which go with my walking rhythm. I suppose many people simply will think of some tune they know which goes with their rhythm. In any event, it suddenly seemed obvious that the reliance on driving as our most common mode of conveyance eliminates this natural source of rhythm in our lives. We thus become dependent on the artificial, uncreated (by us) rhythms which come through our car stereos.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Quick thought,

doing a search for internet ethics for Christians, I am being constantly reminded that the only people I am aware of who take a realistic and right headed (though in some ways very odd) approach to the problem of pornography are the folks at XXX Church.
Here's the first thing I've found close to what I want to accomplish. I like both the way the frame the document as well as the four issues they address. I had neglected to think about point one, I suppose because that's the one problem I haven't had myself, by God's grace. It should definately figure in though. I would like to say something larger about each of the articles they raise, as well as addressing the topic of how we write to each other on the internet.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I've been thinking for quite some time about circulating a set of standards about what I could call provisionally "internet ettiquette standards for Christians". My vision of this project would be to have a document listing some
general and specific principles which all the signatories would agree to abide by in all their communication and use of the internet. In this way, we can all help to keep each other accountable in our discussions and debates and, I hope, promote a greater spirit of peaceableness. Jesus told his disciples that the world would know, or maybe we could say "recognize", them by their love. This does not mean we will always agree with each other, but I think it means that all our discussions should be done is a spirit of humility, of considering the other as above ourselves, of concern for the feelings and reputations of others, particularly, thinking of the global nature of the internet, all the strangers or aliens we bump into at every turn.

What I envision is having a document of standards which would be linked publically by all those who agree to abide by it. This way, in theory at least, people interacting with those who participate will all be able to be aware of these standards and help with accountability.

My problem is that while I have several ideas on the subject, I certainly have nothing comprehensive. I need as much help as possible in attempting to get this rolling. If you are reading this and have something to contribute in any way, please help me out. I think a rough outline would include the following:

I Intro
A Preamble explaining purpose of the standards

B General priciples of Christian communication (with proof texts?)

II Specifical principles

A Broadly applicable principles

1 e.g. dangers of anonymity

2 local church affilitation--making available contact info to your church in case of irresoluble conflicts

3 manner of seeking forgiveness

B Specific Internet formats with their own "rules"

1 Bulletin Boards
2 Email
3 Blogs
4 Instant Messaging etc

While I don't want to consider this "my" project, it would be good to make sure that any additions, clarifications, feedback or whatever do get collected and hopefully turned into something useful. To that end, at least for now, please send your communications to me, either as a comment or as an email. I'm frankly hoping that this will get taken over by someone wiser and more influential than me, but we have to start somewhere.

Please (!!!) feel free to link or copy this to everyone you think might help. I'll update my site with news when I have any.

Paul Baxter

Monday, August 01, 2005

By request,

the drag and drop european geography test. Good luck!