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Friday, December 30, 2005

NT Wright: Off to Hell in a Handcart

For those not familiar with the tabloids of the UK that phrase is a particular favourite of one of the most vile and I never thought I'd get chance to use it.

Anyway, I was informed of the following piece of hilarious news via an email and Chris Tilling's blog that NT Wright is going to burn for eternity! Now here are a couple of the most spectacular sections (fully available here) from the keyboard of C. Matthew McMahon:

I don't want to be misunderstood - so I'll try to be as clear as possible.

Wright is a heretic. A heresiarch. He will forever burn under God's righteous wrath and under the solemn and scornful gaze of the Lamb of God for all eternity if he does not change his theological views before he dies, or rather, his lack of good theology! He is a false teacher, and one of the most influential heretics of the century because he affected people at the seminary level - where pastors are trained and scholars born - and has infected a good number of churches, right down to the layman and youth of the day.

...Not only, then, is Wright theologically ridiculous...

...Now, if this is not the epitome of stupidity in "explaining" the Gospel, I don't know what is. It is denying, straightway, justification, which makes Wright, as I said, a HERETIC.

...He says, "Justification, at the last, will be on the basis of performance, not possession." (Wright, Romans, 440).

...This is Romanism repackaged.

..."[Faith] is the God-given badge of membership, neither more nor less." (Wright, Saint Paul, 160) Wright is so akin to this, that he thinks that Roman Catholics and Protestants should be having "Eucharistic fellowship" together (cf. Wright, Saint Paul, 159)


For a good summary of Wright's nonsensical, anti-Christian and heretical position, read Guy Water's 9 points in his work "Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul, pages 148-149.

Joseph, you are being plagued by this man who is taking down many young in the faith to hell with him by his heretical views which basically gut the Gospel of any power, spit on Christ's work, and destroy the orthodox doctrine of justification as it has been taught throughout the history of the church.

I'm sure you'll agree, all top stuff and it has certainly made my Christmas. I was right all along he is wrong! (Disclaimer: not sure if C. Matthew McMahon will agree with the first half of the previous sentence and I'm not sure if I have too much of an opinion on the whole justification issue but so what, eh?).

That said, even though I profoundly disagree with Wright on many historical and exegetical details and certain modern day social issues, I can't help but feel that his burning for all eternity is just a touch harsh.

More on the Craig Murray and Uzbekistan Affair

I've mentioned events in Uzbekistan at various times on this blog. The US and UK, just like their support from Saddam, have funded and supported Uzbek training for dealing with opponents. The Uzbek leader Karimov even appeared to have boiled certain opponents to death. Torture is regular in this Stalinist police state (presumably this is a 'good' dictatorship like certain figures in the US administration once described the Ceauşescu dictatorship in the 1980s). And then there was the violence a short while ago. The British ambassador Craig Murray spoke out against such practices and was promptly told to shut up (just as a certain journalist was in the 1980s for uncovering the extent of US and UK backed Saddam's crimes) followed by a disgraceful smear campaign. Anyway, here's the latest in the ongoing saga from The Independent:

Britain's former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has defied the Foreign Office by publishing on the internet documents providing evidence that the British Government knowingly received information extracted by torture in the "war on terror".

Mr Murray, who publicly raised the issue of the usefulness of information obtained under torture before he was forced to leave his job last year, submitted his forthcoming book, Murder in Samarkand, to the Foreign Office for clearance. But the Foreign Office demanded that he remove references to two sensitive government documents, which undermine official denials, to show that Britain had been aware it was receiving information obtained by the Uzbek authorities through torture. Rather than submit to the gagging order Mr Murray decided to publish the material on the internet.

The first document published by Mr Murray contains the text of several telegrams that he sent to London from 2002 to 2004, warning that the information being passed on by the Uzbek security services was torture-tainted, and challenging MI6 claims that the information was nonetheless "useful". The second document is the text of a Foreign Office legal opinion which argues that the use by intelligence services of information extracted through torture is not a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Not really a review of the year

I've been reading a few blogs and noting their reviews of the year. I'm not normally a top ten or review of the year type person myself and that trend will remain here. But they obviously are designed to make you disagree and think what you want as your top whatever. I was thinking about books and I have next to nothing in my mind. I mean there are one or two I enjoyed in non-fiction biblical studies (e.g. Secular Bible). There were several in politics (esp. Mark Curtis -can't remember if it was this year) and finally a genuinely important book from a western theologian rather than all the pointless stuff I keep reading. Anyway, I started to read it although I can't remember the title but it was a very accurate attack on the Christian right and I bought it at SBL (I'll mention it when I get round to it).

Music? I have had some unhappy blog moments (in the wider world of blogging not just biblioblogging) noting people with some very opposite views having a music taste which I (as a self confessed music bigot) agree with. The other problem I've had is being too busy and my music collection has sadly suffered. Yet must mention Grandaddy and Excerpts From The Diary Of Todd Zilla. Looks good for the next album. And there are some good releases due in the new year. Film: that Czech one on opening a supermarket in Prague.

Right, that's all you'll get on THAT front. Soon back to the usual drivel.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Cantona speaks out

One of the true greats in the history of English football and one who is never short of a word or two has given his latest installment here.

Here's a couple of comments:

Cantona went further, comparing Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister who was widely criticised for his reactions to the crisis, to the leader of the far-right Front National. 'In France we are capable of celebrating a man like Napoleon, who brought back slavery,' Cantona said. 'Today he has been replaced by a man who, for me, is simply [Jean-Marie] Le Pen with a mask: Sarkozy.'

'Ronaldinho is the kind of player who makes kids dream. Kids aren't going to walk around with Deschamps or Desailly on the back of their shirts, are they? If there were only players like Deschamps and Desailly around, there would be about 10 people who'd bother to take up professional football and they'd be their cousins and nephews.'

Cantona is unimpressed that Ferguson's fate is in the hands of an American millionaire in his first season in charge. Glazer is 'a guy who looks more like he should be propping up a bar somewhere, or perhaps a bar owner. I just hope he has the humility to let other people make the decisions. People who know about football.'

God bless him

A long lost brother

...it appears I have one

Luedemann's Christmas: a mild defence

As everyone seems to know, Gerd Luedemann has officially ruined Christmas by telling us all it didn't happen as we were brought up. It's on the biblioblogs and it's also here.

Ok, some points. Firstly, let's get things straight Luedemann does make some bad arguments and many of them are countered by bloggers with ease. But personally I don't have too much problem with the general issue of not believing that a virgin woman gave birth because the holy spirit did something special. It seems like a pretty standard invention in the history of religions. My big problem is this: would the language being used by those studying Christian origins really be taken seriously by other departments in the humanities? How much time is wasted (and I include myself here) trying to prove/disprove stories of the variety that would so obviously be treated as fiction in other disciplines. And here's one question that I think must be answered (I keep asking it but rarely get a response): is it fair that the Christian miracles are taken seriously as actually happening whilst miracles from the Greco-Roman world (and by implication any other religion) are not? Are miracles done by rabbis to be given the same degree of respect? or are they so obviously made up?

And why shouldn't a secular historian turn around and say, 'I will take the virgin birth, resurrection, miracles etc. seriously once you take stories of the birth of Alexander, rabbinic, ANE and Greco-Roman miracles, and sightings of Elvis etc. seriously'?

I once had a big discussion with a sociology professor about the discipline of theology. He said it really was an illegitimate subject for a university because he thought it was all about God and miracles and all that. I defended theology as a discipline but sometimes how easy is it really to defend these kinds of debates? I'm not casting an opinion here but it is an issue worth seriously thinking about.

Unlike some bibliobloggers I have no problem with Luedemann's tone. Many from the 'other side' can be just as condescending and some far worse. NT Wright has his problems with the bullies of the Enlightenment. I know of several secularists in biblical studies who received disgraceful and far, far worse personal (verbal) attacks for their overt non-belief than these deliberately provocative comments of Luedemann. And Luedemann has had his fair share of abuse too let's not forget for his remarks on (among other things) the resurrection not happening (hardly a weird conclusion to arrive at).

And anyway hasn't Luedemann succeeded in provoking?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More British Museum

Here's another British Museum teaser via the observant eyes of Paul Nikkel. This is from the programme:

The most iconic object to have survived from Ancient Persia is the Cyrus Cylinder found at Babylon. It records a decree that made it possible for deported peoples such as the Jews to return home...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Wright, Bultmann, History

On Primal Subversion, Faith and Theology, and other blogs that old debate on Wright v Bultmann has re-emerged. Now call me miserable and disagreeable (tell me something I don't know) but when it comes to history I just don't get it. As I've said, I cannot comment on the theological and philosophical issues particularly well but what kinds of contrinutions have they made to history. Both, in their own particular ways, have contributed to a shift away from social and economic history amng certain areas of scholarship and both massively over-emphasise history of ideas. Let's take a secular or humanities perspective for instance: would their views on history and the reasons why a new religion eventually emerged not look very weird? My guess is that I'm partially missing the point here because it is a theological debate and when the word history gets used it is more in whose theology is right. For what it is worth, it just doesn't seem like the kind of history I was taught as a student.

So it's neither for me...

British Museum

The sheffield History, Archaeology and Historiography seminar went on its British Museum trip last weekend. The main reason was to see the Persian exhibition and it is something else when you have a few experts in your party able to explain all sorts of things. there are a few small pictures here. There was also the very interesting seige of Lachish from the palace of Sennacherib. It was mentioned that the Judeans were not wearing tzitzit and that this may have some significance concerning the dating of the Pentateuch. Any Hebrew Bible people like to comment on that one?

And the rest of the day was pretty impressive too with a great meal, a strangely good pub for London, and one memorable train journey (and in the UK that is really saying something). But that's all you'll hear on that.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Biblioblogging: individual and structural issues

HEre's a kind of cover all post for some recent issues and apologies if I've ignored people but I have limited time here. On the biblioblogging question the issue of bloggers not personally excluding people has come up a couple of times. I have no doubt that individuals are entirely well meaning but there is a degree of exclusion and inclusion going on rather than simply 'just saying what I think'. Now let's be quite clear here this includes me too and it is inevitable, a criticism put to me and one I have no problem accepting. And this isn't necessarily bad or good in itself but it does show a degree of identity formation as Paul Nikkel keeps stressing. Now this does not mean that the label 'biblioblogger' ought to be abandoned but again it does begin the process of identity and who's in or out. More significant is the lack of female bloggers which is another structural problem (to use a term for convenience). Once again, I stress it is not that we have a bunch of sexist bigotbloggers - every blogger I have met and thoise I haven't but whose comments I've read would never exclude people knowingly. But for some reason, to emphasise the point again, there is a lack of female bibliobloggers. There are plenty of female bloggers outside biblioblogging so why has it affected biblioblogging? If it is not an individual issue (and it is not) then there has to be some kind of structural problem. A relative lack of women in biblical studies only partially answers the question because even that discipline isn't as male dominated as biblioblogging. So,if it isn't an individual problem, what is it?

Ok, football

Live from London (here for a Persian exhibition at the British Museum: do you care?) and no bed pictures. But as there's internet access I thought I'd better answer that burning question that is on all those out there happy to see me/Man United fall. Yes, they went out of the Champions' League and yes they were completely.... What can I say? It was United of the early 90s again whacking long balls into the box and (surprise, surprise) getting nowhere (when has that tactic ever worked?).