A Gracious Place

Friday, July 29, 2005

Technology: Love or Hate?

So I used our new Mac to make a DVD photo album of our trip to Israel. It was relatively easy. Mac has done a great job making user-friendly programs for the technologically challenged (like me). I used iDVD. Everything is integrated, so you can just drag and drop your pictures background music, etc. and build your DVD. My iBook does not have a DVD burner, so I went down to the Seminary to use the burners in the Mac lab. I learned that you can use a firewire to hook your laptop up to the desktop. The desktop will read your laptop like an external hard drive. Very nice, since the file is so large it would be difficult and time consuming to transfer the file onto the computer with the burner. After getting everything in place, I dropped a DVD into the burner. Nothing happened. I tried a few more times, unsuccessfully. Finally, I took my stack of DVDs to the Media Lab help desk and asked the media guy why I was having problems. He explained that the DVDs I bought were incompatible with the burner. Did you know there are two different types of DVDs? I needed DVD-R, and I bought DVD+R. So, I took them back and got the correct format. The next day I returned to the Seminary for another try. This time it worked perfectly! The only problem was it took 15-20 minutes to burn 1 DVD! That’s a problem when you need 60 copies! Anyway I burned two copies of the rough raft and went home to continue tweaking the file. Once we got the file just right, I went back to DTS to do some serious burning. I learned from the Media Guy that the Seminary has a DVD copier. This is so cool! You put your master DVD in the top drive, and up to three blank DVDS in the three drives beneath. In less than four minutes, you can make three copies! So I burned a copy, and checked it in my laptop DVD drive. It worked perfectly, so I burned 59 more copies. When I got home, I excitedly put one in our DVD player attached to the TV. To my dismay, the edges were cut off of the screen, and you could not even read some of my button labels! Unbelievable! So I went back into the program (iDVD) and discovered a view option for “TV safe area.” I turned it on and sure enough, this border comes up and shows you what gets cut off if you view the DVD on a television! So I made all the necessary adjustments to the file, went back to SAMS (now the third trip) to buy some more DVDs. I went back to the Seminary to burn the corrected version. I ran out of time and had to go to work. The next day (Thurs), I went back to the Seminary to finish burning the 60 needed copies. I came home and labeled them with a cool little gadget called “CD Stomper.” This thing is pretty neat. For less than $30 you get software, a stack of labels, and a labeling base. Several hours later, the labeling was complete, and we’re ready to stuff our DVDs into the envelopes to send them off to friends and family! It was a fun project, but frustrating at times. I learned a lot, and I hope that my mistakes might save you from buying the wrong discs or from making 60 copies of the wrong thing! Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the finished product, and I am excited to share it with you all.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Happy Birthday!

To Owen Yoder, the newest addition to our family! Congratulations, Lyndon and Danielle! For those of you who are unfamiliar, Danielle is Diedra's sister. This is the third boy born to Danielle and Lyndon. He was born today at 1:10 PM and weighed 9 lbs 2 ounces. He is 20 inches long! Praise God for another little nephew!

Jargon V

Okay, I think this is probably my last "definitions" post for awhile. I thought I'd just try to define a few theological catagories.

Theology- The study of God. All people are theologians, even atheists. Because all believe something about God. The discipline of Systematic Theology incorporates Historical Theology (study of past theologians, events, and writings), Biblical Theology (topical study of specific doctrines of Scripture), and Philosophy (logic, etc.). The goal of theology, for the believer is to know God (information) and to enjoy Him (affection). If done properly this will result in right practice/action/service.

Hermaneutics- The study of and process of interpretation, especially related to Biblical interpretation, the goal of which is to discover the meaning of the text.

Doctrine- A fancy word for "teaching." Specific teachings are called "Doctrines."

Bibliology- Study of the Doctrine of Scripture. What is Scripture? What does the Scripture teach about itself? Doctrines such as inspiration, inerrancy, canonicity, authority, etc. are included in this catagory.

Christology- Systematic study of what the Bible teaches about the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Pneumatology- Systematic study of what the Bible teaches about the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Patriology- (sadly an assumed and therefore often neglected field of study) Systematic study of what the Bible teaches concerning the person and work of God the Father.

Trinitarianism- Systematic study of the Trinity.

Hamartiology- Study of the Doctrine of Sin.

Anthropology- Study of what the Scripture teaches concerning humankind.

Angelology- Systematic study of what the Bible teaches concerning angelic beings including demons.

Soteriology- Systematic study of the Doctrines of Salvation.

Sanctification- Systematic study of what the Bible teaches concerning the process of becoming Christlike.

Ecclesiology- Systematic study of what the Bible teaches concerning the Church. What is the Church? How is it related to Israel? What is its role in society?

Eschatology- Systematic study of "end times." This study concerns future events.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Jargon IV

Builders- This term is used to describe a generation of Americans that helped fight WWII. Tom Brokaw wrote a book about this generation entitled, The Greatest Generation. Generally speaking, this generation is called traditional by the later generations. They have a strong work ethic and strong sense of duty to family and country. They depict life on shows like Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best.

Boomers- This term is used to describe the children of the Builder generation. They represent a bit of a population explosion here in the US, hence the term, “boomers.” This generation saw immense societal changes including the Civil Rights Movement, The Sex Revolution, Vietnam, Legalization of Abortion, etc. Some would say that these changes were the fruit of the beginnings of Postmodernism. This generation largely threw off traditionalism blaming it for racism, and legalism. However, they still see the world as largely operating by physical laws. This generation is often described as more pragmatic than the builder generation. They want to try new ways of doing things, because the traditional way of doing things is clunky, and inefficient. Members of this generation built upon the foundation of their parents and many became extremely wealthy.

Generation X
- or “Xers” these are the children of the Boomers. This being the most recent generation, it is also more difficult to describe. The most postmodern, this generation values community (the Seinfeld or Friends generation), diversity, and tolerance. They don’t necessarily view tradition as bad, in fact many are embracing tradition as they criticize their parents for rejecting it. They highly value personal freedom and truth is discovered through experience.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Jargon III

So, when trying to answer life’s questions, most people will look to these three main sources (Revelation, Tradition, Science/Reason) for answers. Now, as long as these sources agree with one another, everyone is happy. But when they start to disagree with one another, then you have to figure out which source is most trustworthy (or authoritative) for the particular question you are asking. Which source is going to be the “trump card?”

As we look at the history of western civilization, we can notice how these “truth sources” have enjoyed “trump status” when it came to seeking knowledge. Then we like to divide the time line accordingly.

Premodern Era- Divine Revelation is the main source of truth. Tradition helps us understand this Revelation. Reason is to be used, but not trusted, because reason is fallible. Priority: 1) Revelation, 2) Tradition, 3) Reason.

Pre-Reformation Era- Tradition is the main source of truth, Revelation is to be interpreted by tradition. Reason is still fallible. Priority: 1) Tradition, 2) Revelation, 3) Reason

Reformation Era- Due to an increased interest in studying the Bible in the original languages, translation into the common vernacular, and the invention of the printing press, the Reformers find contradiction between Tradition and the Bible. Tradition is trusted less, and the Reformers stress “sola scriptura” to restore the Bible to “trump status.” Reason is still considered fallible. Protestant priority: 1) Revelation, 2) Tradition, 3) Reason

Modern Era- Also known as “The Enlightenment” this era marks the rise of Science/Reason to “trump status.” The discovery that the earth revolves around the sun, and that the earth is a sphere, led to doubts as to the veracity of Revelation. Other influential philosophical critiques and scientific theories led to further distrust. More scientific method, more inventions, more technology, this era is marked by widespread optimism that man could indeed evolve using “pure reason” to eliminate all his problems. Priority: 1) Science/Reason, 2) Tradition, 3) Revelation

Postmodern Era- Two World Wars and a Holocaust deflated the Enlightenment of its optimism. The technology we used to perfect the world was now being used to murder. Something inside man is horribly wrong, and it will take more than science to solve our problems. On the one hand, this era is marked by a sense of pessimism, chaos, and meaninglessness. On the other hand, many are thankful that the “rules of science and reason” are no longer “trump.” Since all three sources of epistemology seem to have failed us, the postmodern era rejects and embraces all three.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Jargon II

Divine Revelation- God exists and has chosen to reveal something of Himself to mankind. He has done this generally (to all men everywhere at all times) through His creation (Ps 19). He has done this specially (specifically to certain people in certain places at certain times) through miracles, direct appearances, angels, prophets, and apostles. Scriptures are recorded revelations. Divine Revelation is not exhaustive. In other words, more truth exists than that which has been revealed. Additionally, it is important to note that Divine Revelation must be interpreted by the receiver.

Tradition- This source includes all knowledge passed down from one generation to another. It can also refer to the shared knowledge of a community. It may also refer to the culture, or practices associated with the communication of this knowledge within the community. Obviously, this source of knowledge may contain truth as well as error. This source also may include interpretations of Divine Revelation.

Science- Again for simplicity sake, I will define this term to refer to knowledge acquired by Empiricism, i.e., the senses (traditionally sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste) or by Rationalism, i.e, the powers of reason. Again, knowledge acquired through science may or may not be true, and it may be used in interpreting Divine Revelation.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Jargon I

The July/August issue of Modern Reformation features a relatively new movement within Evangelicalism which calls itself the “Emergent Church.” I know very little about the movement, except for rather vague generalities that I have picked up in various articles and conversations. I am looking forward to reading this issue for some more insight. As I was talking with a friend of mine about this subject, we got onto the issue of vocabulary. Namely, because the Emergent Church is trying to be described not only by itself, but by others seeking to define what it is, and how it is different from whatever it claims to be emerging from. Words like postmodern, modern, theology, culture, Gospel, Enlightenment, Builders, Boomers, Xers, etc. mean specific things in this conversation. Often, however, this specified vocabulary may isolate people who are very interested in the conversation from being able to participate. This problem is common whenever someone in a particular specialization attempts to communicate to someone outside of his/her field of practice. Engineers, Medical Doctors, Lawyers, and Theologians have special words they use in order to say more with less. So here is my attempt to provide some basic definitions. Also, I would like to mention that within the more formal aspects of the discipline of theology, often theologians disagree on the definitions of words. Therefore, I encourage much feedback, correction, clarification from anyone who would like to help better formulate the definitions I put down. Thanks!

Epistemology- This word refers to “a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge” (Webster’s Dictionary). How do we come to know truth? What is the nature of truth? Can truth be known? How much truth can be known? You may think these are silly questions reserved for people who have way too much time on their hands. However, these are the questions below the surface of the water in much of the controversy we face in our churches today.

For simplicity sake, I like to think of three main sources of knowledge: (1) Divine Revelation (General and Special), (2) Tradition, and (3) Science (Empiricism and Rationalism). (Some would like to add a fourth source, Personal Experience. However, I think personal experience is the combination of these three) So, if I asked someone why he/she believed the sky to be blue, he/she could give the following answers: (1) “God has revealed the sky to be blue.” (2) “My parents and grandparents and great-grandparents told me the sky is blue.” Or (3) “I can see that the sky is blue.”

To be continued...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Humility the Road to Pleasure

As is the case with much of what Christianity has to say, "humility the road to pleasure", seems backwards. In fact that whole last statement from the Lewis quote below seems upside down and contradictory. Obedience shouldn't lead to freedom, isn't obedience oppressing? Unity should not lead to personality or identity. Don't you "lose yourself" by being unified? But "humility the road to pleasure" is especially what caught my attention. I have been reading (over and over again) one of Jonathan Edwards sermons on envy, so before you give me too much credit this is what I have learned from Lecture VI in "Charity and it's Fruits". I realized the other day just how miserable envy makes me! How often I cherish and entertain my envious thoughts, thinking they will somehow comfort or soothe my aching pride. I think that somehow other's prosperity infringes on my happiness and that if they would be less prosperous I would be one up and therefore happier. Being of the female gender, (If you thought this was Dan writing you are confused right now:-)) one thing that causes us to be envious of each other is our housing situation; big apt., vaulted ceilings, new house, etc. So the other day when my friend called and said that this weekend she and her husband were going house shopping I expected to have that uncomfortable, uneasy, dissatisfied feeling i.e. envy. But something strange happened instead I was rejoicing with her, really excited for them, hoping the best. I hung up the phone and wondered what had just happened. I was confused. Why I did I feel so happy? I realize now that it was a glimpse of heaven. When I am envious I am actually identifying with Satan, I am feeling the misery of hell! But when I rejoice with those who are rejoicing, that is Christ in me, my joy is multiplied and I taste heaven. Lewis is right, humility is the road to pleasure!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Lewis on the Church

The society into which the Christian is called at baptism is not a collective but a Body. It is in fact that Body of which the family is an image on the natural level….We are summoned from the outset to combine as creatures with our Creator, as mortals with immortal, as redeemed sinners with sinless Redeemer. His presence, the interaction between Him and us, must always be the overwhelmingly dominant factor in the life we are to lead within the Body, and any conception of Christian fellowship which does not mean primarily fellowship with Him is out of court. After that it seems almost trivial to trace further down the diversity of operations to the unity of the Spirit. But it is very plainly there. There are priests divided from the laity, catechumens divided from those who are in full fellowship. There is authority of husbands over wives and parents over children. There is, in forms too subtle for official embodiment, a continual interchange of complimentary ministrations. We are constantly teaching and learning, forgiving and being forgiven, representing Christ to man when we intercede, and man to Christ when others intercede for us. The sacrifice of selfish privacy which is daily demanded of us is daily repaid a hundredfold in the true growth of personality which the life of the Body encourages. Those who are members of one another become as diverse as the hand and the ear. That is why the worldings are so monotonously alike compared with the almost fantastic variety of the saints. Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality.

-from “Membership” (The Weight of Glory), by C.S. Lewis

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Another Favorite

And Can It Be?

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.