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Yesterday, I posted this picture of Matt Perman’s just released book, What’s Best Next: How The Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done. I’ve been looking forward to reading it for a while, and now it’s finally arrived (You can read a sample here).

In the preface of the book, Matt lays out 12 myths about productivity that many of us may have unwittingly bought into (13-16). Originally, I thought I’d list these out for you followed by the corresponding truths that Matt explains in his book.

Instead, I thought it would be interesting to quiz yourself and see how God/gospel centered your view of getting things done is. At the end I’ll list the myths and truths in total. Let’s see how you do:

Quiz

  1. Productivity is about getting more done faster
  2. The way to be productive is to have the right techniques and tools
  3. It is not essential to give consideration to what God has to say about productivity
  4. It is not essential to make the gospel central in our view of productivity
  5. The way to be productive is to tightly manage yourself (and others!)
  6. The aim of time management should be our peace of mind
  7. The way to succeed is to put yourself first
  8. We will have peace of mind if we can get everything under control
  9. To-do lists are enough
  10. Productivity is best defined by tangible outcomes
  11. The time we spend working is a good measure of our productivity
  12. Having to work really hard or even suffer in our work means our priorities are screwed up or we are doing something wrong.

Results

Think you did pretty good? I’m hoping you guessed that #3, #4, and #7 are definitely myths. The truth is though that these are all productivity myths in one way or another. Matt sheds light on this by presenting the corresponding truth for each of the above myths:

  1. Productivity is about effectiveness first, not efficiency
  2. Productivity comes first from character, not techniques
  3. We cannot be truly productive unless all our activity stems from love for God and the acknowledgment that he is sovereign over all our plans
  4. The only way to be productive is to realize that you don’t have to be productive
  5. Productivity comes from engagement, not tight control; when we are motivated, we don’t need to tightly control ourselves (or others)
  6. Productivity is first about doing good for others to the glory of God
  7. We become most productive by putting others first, not ourselves
  8. Basing our peace of mind on our ability to control everything will never work
  9. Time is like space, and we need to see lists as support material for our activity zones, not as sufficient in themselves to keep track of what we have to do
  10. The greatest evidence of productivity comes from intangibles, not tangibles
  11. We need to measure productivity by results, not by time spent working
  12. We will (sometimes) suffer from our work, and it is not sin

If some of these truths seem counter-intuitive, or liberating to the way you approach your daily work, you should probably check out What’s Best Next. You should probably read this post by Matt explaining more about why he wrote the book. If you’re interested in trying to secure a free copy, there are other bloggers offering giveaways, here, here, and here. As always, Justin Taylor has a good write-up too.

Hopefully, I’ll have a fully review of my own by next week. So far, it’s a very beneficial read that I’m hoping will reshape the way I approach juggling my current schedule. I’m definitely tempted to believe that efficiency is more important than it is and that tangible results are most important. I expect to have a better understand of why that’s not the case as I continue reading and applying the wisdom in this book.

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Andrew J. Schmutzer and David M. Howard Jr., eds., The Psalms: Language For All Seasons of The Soul. Chicago: Moody Publishers, November 2013. 288 pp. Paperback, $26.99.

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Thanks to Moody Publishers for the review copy!

Every few months, I focus on just the Psalms in my devotions. This exclusive psalmody usually lasts a month since I read 5 a day. I realized a while back that I didn’t know Psalms all that well. So, I decided to remedy that and immerse myself in the book several times a year.

In addition to reading the Psalms more often, I’ve found several resources helpful for understanding the book better. One such book is The Psalms: Language For All Seasons of The Soul. Edited by Andrew Schmutzer and David Howard Jr., this collection runs the full gamut of material. The collection of essays grows out the Psalms and Hebrew Poetry section of the Evangelical Theological Society (est. 2009). The present book is all the papers read in the the first three years of the section, as well as four sermons to round out the material.

The book is split into 5 parts. The first has three essays that set the context for Psalms studies in the recent past. Bruce Waltke exposes the connections to biblical theology. Willem VanGemeren explores the different routes of literary analysis. C. Hassell Bullock explores the role the book plays in our faith and traditions. These opening essays, as well as the closing sermons, are the most accessible and give readers a good understanding of where Psalms studies are situated these days.

The 2nd and 3rd parts go into detailed analysis of select psalms of praise and psalms of lament respectively. In the first, we are treated to in depth exegesis of Psalm 46 (Francis Kimmitt), 91 (Andrew Schmutzer), and the 74/89 (Robert Chisholm Jr.). The section on laments covers broader sections more so than individual Psalms, although perhaps the most technical paper is the examination of the Septuagint version of Psalm 54 (Randall Gauthier). In addition, Walt Kaiser compares the laments of Lamentation to that of the Psalter. Allen Ross looks at select “Thou” sections in lament psalms (with emphasis on their boldness). Daniel Estes goes into detail on individual laments, while Michael Travers focuses on how laments confessing sin transform into praise.

The 4th part of the book moves into considerations of canon. Robert Cole examines the opening 2 psalms and their role introducing everything that follows. David Howard Jr. traces the organizing motif of divine and human kingship. Michael Snearly looks specifically at the 5th book of the psalter and its emphasis on the returning king/Messiah. Tremper Longman then rounds out the section by focusing on the last psalm and its role in concluding the psalter.

The book closes with a section of 4 sermons. The first is on Psalms 16 and 23 (Mark Futato). This is followed by sermons on Psalm 84 (David Ridder), 88 (David Howard Jr.), and finally Psalm 117 by none other than John Piper. These concluding sermons give the book an overall nice balance between more in-depth exegetical analysis and practical applications.

Since the collection of essays springs from a section at ETS, it’s not necessarily the most practical book on Psalms coming down the pike. However, there is pretty much something for everyone in these essays. Like most essay collections, the quality is not uniform throughout. I found Chisholm, Waltke, Kaiser, and Ross most interesting. On the whole, I found parts 1 and 3 to be the most helpful for my understanding, but some of this is compared to what I already knew or had read in previous books. In the end, if you’re really serious about Psalms study, you might want to check this out, and to make that easier I’m offering you an opportunity to win a copy for yourself. Just follow the steps in the PunchTab widget (click thru if your’e in RSS).

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This is Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, just before 8 last Friday morning. There is a set of windows at the bast of the tree that is somewhat centered in the shot. Through those windows is the classroom where I took a Ph.D entrance exam. Taking the exam is no real guarantee you’ll get in. It’s really the last phase of your overall application. That, and the faculty interview (which I thoroughly enjoyed).

The exam was at 9 in the morning. You had (or at least the philosophy exam had) two questions. You picked one, and spent the better part of the next 2 hours trying to answer it well. Somewhere within my 10 page response, I think I did ok. I guess we’ll see once it is graded. I’ll find out sometime late March or early April whether I got in, got wait listed, or got denied. You could also get invited to the Th.M program, but I already have one of those, so that’d be kind of pointless.

Over the course of my time in Louisville I was able to reconnect with my good friend Todd and his wife Megan (and their 16 month old Simon, who I think likes me). Todd and I go way back to like 2006 or so. He attended Boyce briefly, then worked at Apple, met a great girl, got married, and is now fairly settled down. He works for Forest Giant, a mobile app and web develop you should probably check out if you have needs in that area. He is also quite the photographer and has his own photo company, ABNY, you should also check out. Thanks to his handiwork, I now have a newer headshot, which you may or may not have noticed around the interwebs.

Also during my time in Louisville, I was able to meet up with of guys I knew from Dallas that are now in the SBTS Ph.D program, as well as connect in real life with several people I’ve known digitally. One was a guy named Garrick Bailey who is also hoping to get into the Ph.D program after he graduates DTS. We had lunch with J.T. English, Coleman Ford, and Sam Tyson, all DTS grads who overlapped with us in one way or another.

Another is Richard Clark who is co-founder and editor in chief over at Christ and Pop Culture. They just did a sweet re-launch, and now have an interesting podcast to go with their online magazine and stellar weekly blog posts. We were able to sit down and have coffee (for Rich) and Ale-8 (for me) in the seminary coffeeshop. During our talk, I happened to Matt Smethurst as well, who is an associate editor over at The Gospel Coalition, and whose inbox I will be sending book reviews to in the future.

While waiting on my faculty interview, I bumped into Andrew Walker, who works with the ERLC and is also applying to the program. Later, because my interview ran late, I missed meeting up with Mike Leake, but we were able to connect on Saturday after many Twitter @ replies. Along with Tim Challies, he is spearheading a 31 Day Purity Challenge right now that you should probably be involved in. It started Saturday, so you’re not too late if you haven’t heard (plus there will probably be an app later just like Pray For Your Wife).

In the end, it was a pretty great trip. Even I don’t get in this go around, I’m glad I was able to connect with people and spend time with my good buddy Todd. I got pretty good (it’s not Texas) BBQ two meals in a row, and went to Indiana two days in a row, which is a personal record. I also got to check out some pretty sweet indie coffeeshops, eat the best burger in town (at The Holy Grail), and find a nice Mexican dive for next time I’m there.

Plus, I picked the early flight out yesterday morning, and so beat the Icepocalypse that apparently followed shortly behind me. And, I even surprised myself by having the longest conversation with someone on a plane I can remember. Turns out it was a guy who is a town councilman in Louisville, heading with his wife to Houston to M.D. Anderson for her checkup. They go to Southeast Christian in Louisville, which is the church Kyle Idleman (Not A Fan, Gods at War) is at. They were really hospitable and basically offered for me to stay with them next time in town, and even for the 3 week stretches that I would need to be in town if I get into the Ph.D program.

That pretty much puts all the pieces in play, but I’m still not holding my breath. I’ll be slightly anxious until I get something in the mail, and then we’ll just take it from there. First things first though. I need to sit outside and read all day tomorrow and thank God that it’s 80 degrees and sunny and not whatever is going on in Louisville today. Based on the picture below, I’m guessing it won’t involve tanning.

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9780830839605_p0_v1_s260x420Mark W. Foreman, Prelude to Philosophy: An Introduction for Christians. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, November 2013. 208 pp. Paperback, $20.00.

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Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!

When I started at Liberty University, had already completed two years of Bible college, earning essentially an associates of Bible (if there was such a thing). I intended to major in psychology, so one of the first classes I took was developmental psychology. 1 The other class was introduction to philosophy. The instructor was Mark Foreman.

My first foray into philosophy was literally 2 mind-blowing. I probably would have changed majors, but that wasn’t an option. Instead, it became a background interest that when would then get ignited further during my second semester of seminary, and then come full circle to where we are now. In that sense, I owe quite a bit to Mark Foreman’s teaching, and I’m glad to see him producing a popular level book introducing others to the wonders of philosophy.

Rather than an actual introduction, this is just what the title says (always a good thing): a prelude. The typical divisions of philosophy are not discussed in detail until chapter 4, and then the final three chapters after that are focused on logic and rational argumentation. Before getting to those divisions, Foreman spends time explaining in general terms, what philosophy is (and is not), why it is an important field of study, and most importantly, why it is important for Christians. Each of these topics occupy an entire chapter, and I thought provided good reasons for studying philosophy (though I am biased), as well as fending off objections to it as subject for Christian attention. That makes this a good book for a) people wanting to get their feet wet in the streams of philosophical thought, as well as b) anyone wanting to think clearly about any topic.

In the course of his discussion, Foreman defines philosophy as “the critical examination of our foundational beliefs concerning the nature of reality, knowledge, and truth, and our moral and social values” (24). After unpacking this a little further, Foreman lists 6 distinguishing features of philosophy and philosophical study (29-41, my formulations):

  • It helps define the criteria we use to study facts
  • It regulates the nature and method of studies
  • It relentlessly seeks clarity of thought
  • It examines and evaluates everything
  • It focuses on foundational issues and perennial questions
  • It is based on principles and guidelines of sound argumentation

With a definition and description in mind, Foreman then explains why philosophy is important. Though more could be said, Foreman highlights the importance of living an examined life, clarifying our thinking, cultivating a worldview, and refining our ethical decisions. This provides a transition to the chapter on why philosophy is important for Christians. Foreman suggests five ways it plays a vital role (89-93):

  • It plays a large role in the task of interpreting Scripture (hermeneutics)
  • It provides the principles of systematizing utilized in theology and helps draw out and express theological concepts
  • It heavily utilized in apologetics, as in presenting a rational case for the Christian faith
  • It can help with polemics against objections to Christian orthodoxy
  • It is useful in evangelism, especially in the point of contact with differing worldviews

Building off the first item listed, Foreman goes into greater detail about the role philosophy plays in biblical interpretation. One extreme is to keep the two thoroughly isolated. There is philosophical study, and biblical studies, and never the two shall meet. The other extreme is to disregard the role of philosophy altogether. This extreme looks at Scripture as solo scriptura, and therefore sees no need for philosophical study at all. Without some of the fruits of philosophy to inform their thinking, people who take this approach often end up misusing the Scripture they think is all they need. The solution isn’t to exalted philosophy, but to be willing to utilize insights and harness it to help one be a better Bible interpreter.

At this point, Foreman presents the divisions of philosophy, and it is pretty standard fare. The final three chapters, as mentioned, are on logic and argumentation. Very helpfully, Foreman includes a few brief exercises to limber up the mind. Worth mentioning as well are the seven virtues of the Christian philosopher listed in the epilogue (191-197):

  • Love of truth
  • Diligence
  • Intellectual honesty
  • Fairness and respect
  • Intellectual fortitude
  • Epistemic humility
  • Teachableness

I would say those are all attributes I would live to strive for, and even if you don’t plan to be a philosopher, 3 they are virtues we should all strive for in our lives.

With that, Foreman’s prelude comes to an end. Along the way he is clear and concise, and demonstrates the virtues he extols at the end. It is an ideal book for an intro to philosophy class at say, the high school level. Because there is no extended discussion of the major thinkers, it couldn’t be a stand alone philosophy textbook, but it doesn’t aim to be, so that’s ok. I could see it being used profitably in tandem with Bartholomew and Goheen’s Christian Philosophy. As a prelude, it really whets the appetite for the fugue that is higher level philosophical study. I’ve been onboard since I took philosophy with Foreman 8 years ago this month. If you’re interesting in diving in, this is a good book to help you do so.

Notes:

  1. Fun fact: I never took general psychology. At Liberty you could take developmental or general psychology first and then you could take the other required classes from there. I completed all the required classes for a psych major except general psychology, and then just Clepped out of it. This adds an irony within an irony given that I am a home schooled high school teacher who teaches general psychology as an elective.
  2. Not literally
  3. You are one whether or not you plan to, the question is whether you do it well or not

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While we were clued in at the end of Exodus 2 that God’s attention is now fully focused on Pharaoh and the plight of Israel in Egypt, Moses missed that memo. Content, or at least semi-content to be a shepherd in Midian, Moses’ life has moved on. But God has not moved on, and that life gets interrupted in at the beginning of chapter 3:

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord 1 appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” (3:1-3)

Believe it or not, it was actual possible for bushes in this region to spontaneously combust. But in this case, the fire stayed on just the one bush, and that bush was not consumed. Moses was intrigued, and clearly being a man, needed to investigate this strange fire. 2

Thinking it might just be a good story to tell Zipporah when he returned with the flock, Moses edged closer, and that’s when God makes his move:

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (3:4-6)

Readers who have been reading since Genesis will now recognize this God talking to Moses is the same God who dialogued with Abraham, promised Isaac, and wrestled Jacob. Here, he reveals himself to Moses, and begins one of the many recorded conversations they will have throughout the Pentateuch.

Attentive readers here may have noticed that in v. 1-3, it is the Angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses, but starting in v. 4, it is the Lord who speaks. There is clearly then a close identification between the Angel of the Lord and the Lord himself. So much so that many have argued that the Angel of the Lord is a preincarnate Christ. On this issue, I think Enns is perceptive:

“This close relationship has led many to suggest that the angel of the Lord is an Old Testament manifestation of the incarnate Christ. This notion is worth considering. It is, if anything, certainly true from a theological point of view. The notion of the close relationship in the Old Testament between the messenger/angel of the Lord and Yahweh himself is something that is fully manifested in the person of Christ, who is both one with the Father yet distinct from him as the second person of the Trinity. This [is] not to say, however, that the angel of the Lord is a preincarnate manifestation of Christ. Rather, the angel of the Lord foreshadows Christ in the same way that Moses, the priesthood, or the sacrificial system do (see Heb. 3:1-6, 8:1-10:18). In the final analysis, the angel of the Lord remains a mysterious but prominent figure in the context of God’s self-revelation to his people, and his role is ultimately fulfilled in Christ.” 3

We could wrestle further with the Angel of the Lord here, but the day will break eventually, and we have more verses to cover. Suffice it to say, the Angel of the Lord reveals the Lord and speaks for the Lord. I don’t want to detract from the uniqueness of the incarnation to use “preincarnate” to describe what’s going on, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world when other people do. 4

Turning to the actual conversation, God has identified himself through the Angel of the Lord, and Moses has responded with reverence and awe. Moses now gets the memo we got in the end of chapter 2, but with more detail:

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 5 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (3:7-12)

Rather than saying, “Ok, sounds like a plan,” Moses raises more questions. Already, we are seeing fortitude on Moses’ part, though you could also read it at reticence to lead the nation. However, it is worth noting that it takes a pretty strong figure to question God in this manner. I think if God appeared to us in a flaming shrubbery and started telling us stuff to do, we’d either a) turn tail and run off or b) get started as soon as possible out of sheer terror. Moses on the other hand negotiates with God (something patriarchs seem to do regularly):

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. (3:13-14)

In addition to identifying himself with the God of the patriarchs, God now reveals his name to Moses. The significance of this actually takes the rest of the book to unpack. As Blackburn comments, “If Exodus 1-2 presents the problem, that the name of the Lord is not known, Exodus 3 begins the solution, where the Lord makes his name known.” 6The rest of his book unpacks how the revelation and making known of the name of God is what Exodus is all about. I will actually talk about more as we go on. For now, let’s close with the plan that God then gives to Moses:

Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” (3:15-22)

Here we are given more or less a roadmap for the rest of the book up through chapter 15. Moses still doesn’t jump on the plan and run with it, but we’ll talk about that next post. It is worth noting as we close out that this encounter sets a template for God’s calling his prophets. There is a sense of inadequacy, but as we can see with Moses’ willingness to push back on God’s requests (in a good way), it is maybe better thought of as humility. Moses, through God’s empowerment, proved to be a capable leader. He wasn’t perfect, but he towers over Israelite history as the greatest prophet until One came who finally surpassed him by actually being perfect.

Notes:

  1. “The term malʾāk yahweh, usually translated ‘the Angel of the Lord,’ appears sixty-seven times in the Old Testament. Exodus 3:2 is its only occurrence in Exodus, though it was already prominent in both Gen 16, the story of Hagar, and Gen 22, the story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac. Grammatically, malʾāk yahweh is a construct (also called bound form, genitive construction) and according to the rule of constructs, both elements must be either definite or indefinite. Since the proper noun ‘Yahweh’ is intrinsically definite, the noun that precedes it musts also be definite; so the phrase cannot therefore mean ‘an angel of the Lord’ but must connote greater definiteness, in other words, ‘the Angel of the Lord.’” (Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus. Vol. 2. NAC. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006, 110)
  2. I phrased it this way on purpose, in case you were wondering.
  3. Peter Enns, Exodus. NIVAC. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000, 96
  4. Like for instance David Murray in his Jesus on Every Page
  5. Really attentive readers will recognize this list of peoples from Genesis 15. Their land is promised to Abraham’s ancestors, and the book of Joshua shows Israel cutting them off from it
  6. W. Ross Blackburn, The God Who Makes Himself Known: The Missionary Heart of The Book of Exodus. New Studies in Biblical Theology. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012, 34-35

I’ve been going back and reading through my long abandoned philosophy series. Some of it aged well. Some did not. I was definitely doing a lot of thinking at loud, as opposed now, when I mostly think to myself.

In thinking about thinking, I thought it might a good time to think out loud about logic. It’s kind of a prelude to philosophy (see my review Tuesday of a book by that title), and is important to have understand as we do some philosophical investigations.

Logic is the principles governing correct and reliable arguments. 1 An argument consists of presenting evidence with an inference (conclusion) drawn. Typically, arguments are divided into two categories:

  • Inductive (yields probable conclusions)
  • Deductive (yields certain conclusions)

Within these forms, three laws govern the actual arguing:

  • Law of identity (T is T and F is F)
  • Law of non-contradiction (No T and F)
  • Law of excluded middle (T or F)

Very few will deny these principles are true. This is because it would be making a claim about what is false, but destroying the ability to differentiate between truth and falsehood. These laws of logic are propositions that specify what truth-values other propositions can and cannot have.

Propositions themselves are language-independent, which means they can be expressed in language but are not reducible to language. This means the same true proposition can be effectively expressed in multiple languages. This also means that the laws of logic exist beyond specific language based expressions of them.

The word for this “existence beyond” is transcendence. Because the laws of logic are transcendent, they are said to apply to all possible statements in all possible languages. Laws of logic are truths, about truths, that exist independent of specific truth statements.

Because the laws of logic are also necessary for thinking, it is hard, if not practically impossible to deny their existence and still formulate a coherent worldview. Something necessary for for thinking itself is a preconditions for intelligibility (P. I.) P. I.’s are just what they sound like, the conditions necessary to make human experience intelligible. I would say by definition, any worldview that cannot account for P. I.’s is unlikely to be true.

In a discussion/argument, if a person appeals to something being “illogical” they are invoking the laws of logic . To credibly do so, they must be working from within a worldview that accounts for those laws. Otherwise, they are working off of “borrowed capital” and something critical to the expression of their worldview comes from another view they may even be trying to deny. This is illogical.

Now, because of all this, many people consider the laws of logic to necessarily exist. Everything that exists either exists contingently or necessarily. Something exists contingently if it is possible that it does not exist. Something necessarily exists if there is no possible world or scenario in which it could not exist. If the laws of logic exist necessarily, they must exist in all possible worlds in order for anybody to both know anything and to also be able explain what they know to anyone else. This makes the laws of logic a precondition for the intelligibility of knowledge, as well as the precondition for all arguments.

If laws of logic are truths that necessarily exist and transcend particular expressions of them, then the laws of logic must be non-physical, or immaterial. Things that exist necessarily, are by nature, non-physical since any physical or material object we could consider might not, or will not always exist. If something is not physical or material, it is mental, and this makes sense for classifying the laws of logic. In short, they are mental entities that exist as thoughts.

Thoughts are intentional, both in terms of what they are directed toward, and the specific content they have. As an example, I think Chipotle is delicious. My thought “Chipotle is delicious” is directed toward a the Chipotle restaurant in general, and my perception of their burritoes. While Chipotle physically exists, as does its delicious food, the thought where I draw them together intentionally does not have physical existence. You could measure the activity in my brain while I think the thought, but you cannot measure my brain activity and reconstruct the content of my thought (or the taste of the burrito). To think that is possible is not much different than thinking if you give a technological explanation of the pixels of the screen on which you are reading this post, and go into enough detail, you will be able to explain the content of my blog post. This is because information is non-physical in nature, and thoughts are about information. Information can be inscribed physically, but if the physical thing that contains the information is destroyed, the information still exists in mental form.

Earlier we noted every human is a contingent being, and therefore every human mind is contingent. If that’s the case, then the laws of logic must be thought by a necessarily existent mind. In other words, if we are all contingent and non-transcendent beings, we cannot, even collectively be the basis for something like the laws of logic. They must be thought first by a necessary and transcendent mind possessed by a necessary and transcendent being. To be necessary, this being must be non-physical. Additionally, this being must also be personal, and the only entity that fits all these criteria is the Truine God of the Bible.

Logic is therefore dependent on the existence of God. If this is true, then every logical argument presupposes the existence of God. Interestingly, this would apply to any argument constructed to disprove God’s existence. Atheism is therefore highly ironic for it must formulate its position by assuming the mind of God in order to then disprove God’s existence. This type of argument against atheism is called a reductio ad absurdum (a Harry Potter spell meaning “reduce to the absurd”) Remember earlier we talked about preconditions of intelligibility and how sometimes one worldview will smuggle in borrowed capital to bolster its claims. This is what atheism necessarily has to do.

That is rather illogical, though I haven’t found any atheists that agree with this conclusion. However, it is a deductive argument, so in order for the conclusion to not be certain, one or more of the premises must be proven false. But, in order to prove it false, an argument would need to be constructed that implicitly assumes the existence of God, and that is the horns of the dilemma so to speak. This argument could be expanded further (and it is in the article I mention in the notes), but I tried to put it as compactly as possible without listing it in bullet points. If I did though, here’s what it would look like:

  1. In order to prove anything, you must use the laws of logic
  2. The laws of logic therefore exist necessarily
  3. Necessary things exist non-physically
  4. The laws of logic are therefore non-physical (2 + 3)
  5. Non-physical things are mental things
  6. Mental things exist as thoughts
  7. Necessary thoughts must be thought by a necessary mind (2 + 4 + 6)
  8. The Triune God of the Bible possess a necessary mind
  9. Therefore the laws of logic are grounded in the mind of God (7 + 8)
  10. All arguments presuppose the existence of God

Notes:

  1. Much of what I say here is heavily indebted to a Philosophia Christi article, “The Lord of Non-Contradiction: An Argument for God from Logic” James N. Anderson and Greg Welty (13:2, 2011). I distilled the main argument from this article into a PowerPoint presentation, and now I am reforming it into a blog post. I came up with a similar, but less developed argument on my own prior to reading this article.

9781596382176A few weeks back, I introduced the review series for John Frame’s Systematic Theology. Today, we’ll get started in the review proper with the first section, “Introduction to Systematic Theology.” As far as sections go, it’s one of the shorter ones, clocking in at just under 50 pages. Much of that is because Frame deals with prolegomena issues in 4 separate sections. This one introduces the nature of theology and some distinctives of Frame’s approach. The next offers a covenantal framework for theology before section three covers the doctrine of God. Interestingly, Frame puts the doctrine of the Word of God and the doctrine of the knowledge of God after the doctrine of God. Typically, theses two discussions form the prolegomena, but hey, it’s John Frame, and he does thinks different. 1

What Is Theology?

Because opening sentences are fun, here is how Frame’s systematic begins:

Theology is full of definitions of things. One of the useful features of a systematic theology is that you can turn there and get quick definitions of terms such as justification, glorification, or hypostatic union. Definitions are useful, but we should be warned that they are rarely, if ever, found in Scripture itself. Such definitions are themselves theology in that they are the work of human beings trying to understand Scripture. (3)

This presents one aspect of the task of theology. Frame goes on to say that theology is also application. That is, it is not just the study of God (it is), but a study of God as revealed in Scripture (5). But even this is not enough. It is true as far as it goes, but Frame wants to see theology defined with a purpose in mind, and he sees that purpose as edification (6). He grounds this exegetically with the biblical concept of sound doctrine (7) and proposes that we understand theology as synonymous with the biblical concept of teaching, which has an emphasis on edification. At the end of this discussion he concludes that “theology is the application of Scripture, by persons, to every area of life” (8).

From here Frame lays out the different kinds of theology:

  • Exegetical (interpreting the Bible verse by verse)
  • Biblical (traces the narrative of Scripture for application)
  • Systematic (summarizing the whole Bible’s teaching on a topic)
  • Historical (analysis of past theological work)
  • Practical (though he sees this as a department of systematics, focused on communication)

He goes into much more detail in The Doctrine of The Knowledge of God (DKG), but here he lays out his maps clearly enough. He then discusses theological method, which necessitates a mild rant about the importance of focusing on explaining Scripture in systematic theology and not so much on either the history of the doctrine, or what all the relevant other systematicians have said. Specifically he says,

I think, however, that theology today has become preoccupied with these auxilary disciplines to the extent of neglecting its primary responsibility: to apply Scripture itself. Theological literature today is focused, especially, on history of doctrine, and contemporary thought. Often this literature deals with theological questions by comparing various thinkers from the past and from the present, with a very minimal interaction with Scripture itself. (10)

It is worth weighing what Frame says here and coming to your own conclusions about how much of a problem it is in theological discourse today. He goes into much more detail in DKG, but still hammers home the point here. I agree to some extent, and personally do not care what someone like Karl Barth thought about much of anything. I realize he is influential and “important,” but I don’t think he needs to be an extended conversation partner for every systematic theologian writing today. 2

Still, I think Frame’s approach is open to weakness. I wouldn’t have thought this when I first got into Frame late in my seminary time. However, I’ve come to see the value of including the historical and contemporary dimensions in theological analysis. I think Frame is reacting against an over-emphasis, and his point is duly noted. However, I don’t think the solution is to focus only on Scripture or even predominately on Scripture to the exclusion of other sources. Bird in this regard represents what I think is a better approach, though Frame is refreshingly biblical in some respects. Readers do well to note here Frame’s method. While he might be open to criticism later, he is at least consistent with his intent to focus on Scripture to the exclusion of extended historical or contemporary conversation partners.

The Lord

In the second chapter, Frame presents his understanding of God’s lordship. As he sees it, it is known primarily through three attributes:

  • Control (21-22)
  • Authority (22-29)
  • Presence (29-31)

It is from here that Frame introduces his hallmark “triperspectivalism” approach to knowledge. Perspectives are not “parts” but are aspects of the same object of study (not saying God is an object). Our understanding is enhanced by viewing the same reality through different lenses, which in this case are the lens of norms, facts, and subjectivity. Frame then explains,

I have suggested that the three lordship attributes presuppose and imply one another. If God controls all things, then his commands are authoritative, and his presence is inescapable. If his commands are supremely authoritative, then God can command all things, thereby exercising control, and since we cannot escape from his authority (Ps. 139:7-12), he is necessarily present to us. Further, God’s presence is a presence of divine control and authority. So it is not as if God could be divided between three parts, each representing one attribute. Rather, each of the lordship attributes describes God as a whole, from a different perspective. (31)

In this way, triperspectivalism can be seen as a way of coming to grips with something we cannot fully understand (in this case God’s lordship over us, his creatures). By parsing it out into different aspects, our understanding is enhanced but not exhausted. This has important implications of our knowledge in general, which is a creature kind of knowledge that should be submitted to the lordship of Christ. Because He is Lord (32),

  1. The highest rules or norms of knowledge come from him
  2. The course of nature and history is under his control
  3. Our knowledge faculties are gifts of God and operate in his very presence

This suggests our knowledge corresponds to the three perspectives on God’s lordship, which Frame then explains using his names for the perspectives (32-33):

  • In the normative perspective, we understand the whole world as a revelation of God, governing our thought
  • In the situational perspective, we understand the whole world as the factual situations that God as controller has brought to pass
  • In the existential perspective, we understand the whole world as a set of personal experiences granted by God, who is present with us and within us

These three perspectives figure prominently throughout the book, and the most popular diagram, as you might imagine, is the triangle.

God’s Lordship as a Unique Worldview

In the final chapter of this section, Frame explains how this understanding of God’s lordship gives a unique worldview. He also introduces two key diagrams. The first is the “Rectangle of Opposition” which illustrates the different between transcendence and immanence in biblical perspective and in their opposing nonbiblical corruptions. It’s very similar to the kind of squares you get in logic differentiating modal statements. If that’s not helpful, just imagine a square where each vertical side represents either the biblical or nonbiblical position, and the top corners are the different understandings of transcendence and the bottom corners of the different understandings of immanence. That still might not help, so you better just pick up the book.

The second diagram is Van Til’s famous Creator/creature distinction. It is a circle with three dots in it (representing the Trinity) over another circle with lines connecting to the two. This illustrates the nature of reality, which in the Christian worldview is two tiered. Reality is not a single circle of which God and man both take part. Rather, there is a vital Creator/creature distinction, but God has bridged the gap through the incarnation.

Taken together, all of this provides a good framework (get it?) for studying theology, and though I was introduced to most everything vital here in Frame’s previous work (specifically, DKG), it was helpful to see him distill the distinction down to brass tacks and smooth out some of the rough edges. The next section covered somewhat newer ground, but you’ll have to wait until next time to hear about it.

Notes:

  1. But still uses a PC from what I can tell when I’ve dropped by his office.
  2. I realize most of them would disagree. The key word is “extended,” just to be clear. It’s not that I don’t think you should reference someone like Barth (although I wish you wouldn’t), just that I agree that the main focus should be Scripture, just not to the detriment of other sources of systematic theology.

chooseyourown

In light of James Anderson’s recent book, What’s Your Worldview, I began thinking how the “Choose Your Own Adventure” genre could be applied elsewhere. He does an excellent job of using a variant of that genre to help readers diagnose their worldview. I wondered how a similar idea might be applied to studying systematic theology, and then it hit me.

What if you took books like Zondervan’s Counterpoint, and read them in such a way that it traced a journey through the terrain of systematic theology in non-linear fashion.

These books could be a good starting point, for several reasons. First, because of the stand-alone nature, these books offer a good window into various theological discussions. The subjects that most interest you can be read first. Second, they present extended expositions of opposing views, giving you the reader the opportunity to decide which position you find most convincing. Third, your overall understanding of many significant issues would be more developed by seeing the different positions available, something done to an extent in some systematic theologies, but ultimately the writer has his view and explains it the best.

The downside would be that you can’t actually get through all the various intricacies of the doctrines in a systematic theology in this fashion. But, you can get a pretty good running start, especially since right now Zondervan is running their Counterpoints series on sale for $3.99. To help organize your adventure choosing, I used the various doctrinal headings of a systematic theology and organized the different Counterpoint books into their appropriate location. I took the liberty to add in IVP’s Spectrum Multiview books as well (noted in parenthesis and not on sale). As you can see, you can cover a lot of ground choosing your own adventure through the landscape of systematic theology

Theological Method

Doctrine of The Word of God

Doctrine of God

Doctrine of Man/Creation

Doctrine of Salvation

Doctrine of The Church/Spiritual Life

Doctrine of Last Things

9781587433443

Craig Detweiler, iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social LivesGrand Rapids: Brazos Press, November, 2013. 256 pp. Paperback, $17.99.

Buy itAmazon

Read an excerpt

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Brazos Press for the review copy!

Craig Detweiler is professor of communication and director of the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine University. He also writes a lot, and he’s make a film or two. In other words, a book on technology is right up his alley.

I first encountered Detweiler when I was writing my thesis, and I found his work in Into the Dark: Seeing the Sacred in the Top Films of the 21st Century to be helpful. Mainly, he was interacting thoughtfully at the theological level with films, and more open to it being a revelatory encounter than many Christians who write books on movies. Maybe a little too open for some people, but I nonetheless thought he had many valuable ideas when it came to watching movies responsibly.

So, when I saw he wrote a book on technology, I expected similar thoughtful interactions. Flipping through the table of contents, you can see that Detweiler focuses on the big tech giants:

  • Apple (chapter 2)
  • Amazon (chapter 4)
  • Google (chapter 5)
  • Facebook (chapter 7)
  • YouTube/Twitter/Instagram (chapter 8)

In his writing, he is trying to sketch a theology of technology, “to point out how spiritual our designs can be and how material theological concerns should be” (10-11). Doing so requires interacting with the “iGods” who are first identified as the founders of the above tech giants (8). Obviously this is a play on Apple’s “I” language, and it certainly fits the point Detweiler is making on the whole. That is, the technologies that we use so often are meant to be centered around us, but eventually they start to mold us. As an extension of us, they are separate, yet intimately connected. Detweiler wants to explore this interface.

There is some fluidity in language, so that Google and Facebook themselves take on iGod status (9). As you continue reading, this isn’t really a problem, so perhaps it is best to consider the “iGods” as a way of referring to the tech company itself when it reaches a certain stature, or may relate to the man behind it. YouTube/Twitter/Instagram have not yet reached “iGods” status, which is why they get a combined chapter. But they are well on their way.

In his opening chapter defining technology, Detweiler notes that “from each tech company profiled in this book, we can deduce a creation narrative” (40). If that is true, there is a sense in which each company is promoting a worldview that involves telling their creation story, explaining what problem they are here to fix, and how to achieve true redemption through the product they are selling.

Detweiler then traces the cultural history of each of these tech companies, with interludes on the internet (chapter 3, 73-77) and social networking (chapter 6, 131-135). The focus is mostly on explaining the development of the particular company. So for instance, the Apple chapter (45-71) follows a similar trajectory as the Steve Jobs movie, and goes from Job’s parents basement to the announcement of the iPhone (46-65). The final 6 pages then get into more detail of the implications of this particular technology, how it affects us, and how we can respond. This is a pretty typical breakdown of the other 4 main chapters.

While this is informative and interesting, I didn’t find much of the discussion particularly illuminating. Overall, I would say the book is more historical than practical. A better title might have been “The Rise of the iGods” to bring out this fact. I think I was expecting the chapters to be more focused on thinking theologically about the particular technologies than they actually were. But, from the opening chapter, Detweiler alerts readers that “we will study the leading technology companies as a means of determining what theological shifts are occuring. We will measure these general revelations against the special revelation of Scripture to figure out whether they need to be embraced and encouraged or resisted and reframed” (43). Given that, this isn’t a case of false advertising. From a general glance over the cover and table of contents, you might assume this is a much different book. But Detweiler defines his study well early on, so once you’re reading, you know where you’re going.

The question then is whether or not this is the journey you want to take. And whether or not this kind of journey is even helpful. Going back to Detweiler’s last quote, I don’t particularly think that “theological shifts” brought on by tech companies qualifies as general revelation. We can certainly bring special revelation of Scripture to bear on them to understand them better, but its seem like a stretch to bring in the category of general revelation. This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about Detweiler’s film book. His eagerness to listen to the culture and to bring Scripture to bear on it is to be commended. But, in the midst of that, it sometimes feels like the culture is being elevated to a revelatory status that is sometimes not appropriate. Does not mean God cannot reveal himself through culture, but rather that the human products of culture are perhaps better thought of as indirectly revelatory. The reveal more about the person made in God’s image, which thus reveals God. But the product itself is not revelatory.

Having said all that, this book can still prove useful. I don’t know who I would particularly recommend it to because of its emphasis on the historical dimension. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter are sparse and sometimes vague (it’s hard to write good questions!). I had thought about using it in my digital media class, but since I’m teaching high schoolers, this is really out of their league. There are other books I might consider (From the Garden to The City for one), but this book didn’t seem suitable for that purpose to me. Still, the storytelling involved in explaining the rise of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon was compelling. If that is what you’re particularly interested in, this is a perfect fit. If you’re more interested in thinking theologically about technology, this book has some fruitful lines of thinking. But on the whole, I didn’t find it all that thought provoking. I could maybe give it another read through to decipher whether that was my problem or the book’s problem, but given what I’ve said above, I’ll let you decide.

1545546_10101264373757208_785687467_n

When we left our story, a Hebrew child named Moses had just been adopted into Pharaoh’s household. If you could imagine knowing how big of a deal Moses is, but reading Exodus for the first time (or hearing it read to you), you would probably hear a “Dun dun dun” at the naming of Moses in v. 10. Moses it seems, was the original Trojan Horse. The man who would lead Israel out of Egypt and humiliate the nation in the process was growing up right under Pharaoh’s noseless face (this mental reconstruction is based on the Sphinx).

It would take a while for all of that to unfold, so in the meantime, we need an “inciting incident” in the life of Moses to get the ball rolling. Between verse 10 and verse 11 we fast forward approximately 36 years. I know this, because Douglas Stuart did the math and explains why the story jumps like this:

The narrative now jumps ahead approximately thirty-six years, skipping completely over Moses’ later childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. This sort of leap from infancy/childhood to later adulthood is not only efficient for purposes of getting to the heart of the story but apparently was preferred often in ancient times, when the story of an important person’s birth might be recounted if it had special significance but his “biography” in effect began with the first truly prominent actions he undertook. 1

This really shouldn’t seem all that strange. It’s what happens in the Gospels after all. At any rate, just so there are not any skeletons in the closet, here’s the first thing Moses actively does in the book of Exodus:

One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. (v. 11-12)

Premeditated murder is not usually the best way to open up a life story. There is a long history of debate on whether Moses was justified in what he did. Perhaps surprisingly, Jewish commentators tend to exonerate Moses, and the bulk of Christian commentators up through Luther and Calvin tend to give Moses a get out of jail free card. Augustine is one of the few with some sense and compares Moses’ actions to Peter’s impulsiveness (the whole ear removal incident), and so sees it in the appropriate negative light.

Rather than whitewash the records of biblical heroes, we should take accounts like these for what they are: real events involving real sin. Adam didn’t have a spine. Noah liked wine a bit too much. Abraham was a habitual liar. Moses murdered a guy. David stole a guys wife and then indirectly made sure he was “taken care of.” Just because they are in the Bible and may be considered “heroes of the faith” doesn’t mean they have to be perfect. In fact, it’s probably better if they’re not.

Commenting on this particular incident in the life of Moses, Phil Ryken says:

The more we learn about Moses, the more we realize how tragic his mistake was. For all his admirable qualities – his hatred of injustice, his opposition to slavery, his sympathy with those who suffered, and his deep affection for God’s people – with one rash act Moses threw away forty years of spiritual preparation. Although he had a holy zeal to rescue God’s people, his zeal was not based on knowledge (cf. Rom. 10:2). His failure had nothing to do with his motivation, for his heart was in the right place. Rather, the problem was his method: Moses was trying to save God’s people by his own works rather than letting God save them by his grace. 2

Moses’ methods will get him in trouble again later. For now, we needed an inciting incident to get the story going, and this incident certainly incited Pharaoh. It also, interestingly incited the other Israelites (who you would think would have been grateful for one less slave driver):

When he [Moses] went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together [as in with each other. Technically all the Hebrews were "struggling together" in slavery]. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? [Probably the first recorded use of this line, now a go-to when you want someone off your case] Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well. (v. 13-15, brackets are my comments)

When you read this, you should see it as foreshadowing the story of Israel. They too would end up on the receiving end of Pharaonic death threats and have to book it to the wilderness. This sets Moses up as the representative of the nation as a whole. He came down from an Egyptian palace to identify with their suffering and shame, and in doing so, became identified with them, and had to flee the wrath of Pharaoh. He stood rejected by both the people he was trying to save and the King whose house he had called home.

Moses, now in Midian by a well, is probably wondering what he’s going to do next. He doesn’t get much time to think before injustice rears its ugly head again and gains Moses’ attention:

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. (v. 16-17)

For whatever reason, after being saved from the evil shepherds, these seven daughters didn’t think to bring the single guy from out of town home with them:

When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” (v. 18-22)

Moses’ early adventures are now bookended with his birth and the birth of his first son. Zipporah, we can assume, is the fairest of them all since Reuel/Jethro gave her in marriage to the guy who saved them all. Moses, knowing he can’t go back to Egypt, seems perhaps content to settle down. However, he hasn’t lost his identity, and probably hasn’t forgotten his roots so to speak.

This is good because, meanwhile back in Egypt, things are still not going so well. However, two turning points take place, unbeknownst to Moses:

During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew. (v. 23-25)

An evil dictator is shuffled off the scene, and God appears. Not only does he appear, he acts, but an undetectable way. Given the four verbs used (heard, remembered, saw, and knew), we can read this as God’s attention being focused on the matter of Israel enslaved in Egypt. There is a bit of humanizing going on since God had not actually forgotten about Israel. By presenting it this way though, it is showing God is about to act in a mighty way. Fretheim comments:

These verbs show that God has a new “point of view” with respect to the situation. The context has changed among both Egyptians and Israelites such that God’s creational intentions for the world can now take a new turn. God can move forward with respect to the divine purposes in new ways. Israel is to be the object of God’s special care; this action is grounded in God’s prior relationship with the ancestors of this people.

This brief narrative ends by putting a question in the reader’s mind: What will God do? What will happen now? 3

Before leaving this part of the narrative though, it is worth noting how it sets up further foreshadowing. The trajectory of the nation of Israel as a whole is seen in Moses’ flight into the wilderness. It also prefigures Christ’s wilderness experience. This could be literally his wilderness experience of temptation, or of the rejection he experienced from his people. Enns helpfully clarifies:

Moses, in other words, foreshadows both the redeemer and the redeemed. He first experienced Israel’s rejection and became and an outcast and alien before he himself became worthy to her redeemer. Christ, too, became like us before he could deliver us (Heb. 2:17). But he did not simply descend from the comfort and prestige of an Egyptian palace, but from heaven itself, becoming not only a man but a despised man – for our sake. As Moses became Israel’s savior by truly embodying her suffering, Christ from highest heaven took onto his own body the sin of humanity. He is the Savior through suffering. 4

His later conclusion fits for us as well:

The Moses of Exodus 2:11-25 must precede the Moses of Exodus 14. The Christ born of lowly circumstances, who was despised and rejected by men, who died with great shame, must precede the Christ of the resurrection. We, too, must be broken before we can be built up again, for his sake. 5

Though no one wants to go out into the wilderness, great things tend to come out of it. But we’ll see that next time.

Notes:

  1. Douglas Stuart, Exodus. Vol. 2. NAC. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006, 94-95
  2. Philip Graham Ryken, Exodus: Saved For God’s Glory. Preaching The Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005, 63. Earlier, Ryken also comments, “One way or another, an expert legal team could have come up with a winning strategy for Moses’ defense. Indeed, many Christian commentators from Tertullian to Aquinas have sought to clear Moses from the charge of murder. But that does not change the fact that what he did was wrong. It was wrong because it was unnecessary. Moses could have protected the slave without resorting to killing the slave driver. It was wrong because it was not Moses’ place to do this – it was an abuse of power. He was still a private individual and not an officer of the state administering solemn justice. Rather than appointing himself as judge, jury, and executioner, he should have worked within the system. It was also wrong because it was not God’s will. God had not yet called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt. And it was wrong because it was not God’s way. God had not commanded Moses to take up arms against the oppressor, as if somehow he could liberate Israel one Egyptian at a time. Later God would smite the Egyptians himself, but that was his business, and the time had not yet come.” (58)
  3. Terence Fretheim, Exodus. Interpretation: A Biblical Commentary for Preaching and Teaching. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1988, 50)
  4. Peter Enns, Exodus. NIVAC. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000, 88
  5. Enns, Exodus, 91