September 13, 2011 by Jason Hood
Al Wolters (author of this amazing book) wrote a great article dealing with 2 Pet 3:7-10. “2 Peter 3 speaks of three ‘worlds,’ each consisting of heaven and earth: a world before the flood, called ‘the world that then existed’ (3:6), the present world between the flood and the Day of the Lord, called ‘the heavens and earth that now exist’ (3:7), and a future world after the Day, called the ‘new heavens and new earth’ (3:13).” These aren’t three worlds, Wolters notes; they “are really the same world in three periods of its history.”
Peter’s comparison of a final eschatological shift with the flood points not to mere destruction, but ultimately to transformation and recreation. What Peter is describing is not a “burning up” (the normal Greek term for “burning up by fire” is not used) but a melting purification or refinement. What has thrown us off for centuries is the fact that the KJV, based on much later texts, including the normal Greek word for “burning up.” Notice in the ESV on 2 Peter 3:7-10 that the footnotes account for several options. The last part of verse 10 is probably best taken as saying something like, “through fire, the earth and its works will show what they are made of.”
Wolters concludes that some earlier scholars “have read into Peter’s text features of a Gnostic worldview which looked on the present created order as expendable in the overall scheme of things. The text of 2 Pet 3:10, on our interpretation, lends no support to this perspective, but stresses instead the permanence of the created earth, despite the coming judgement.”
In a recent version of Tyndale Bulletin, Jonathan Moo follows the same train of thought for 2 Pet 3:7.
For nerds, Al Wolter’s article, “Worldview and Textual Criticism in 2 Peter 3:10,” WTJ 49 (1987) 405-13 is online. For theocultural spectators, Wolters’s book Creation Regained (1985) made him one of the chief architects of the resurgence of the neo-Calvinist, Kuyperian approach to culture in the Keller/Covenant/A29 wings of the Young Reformed movement. But if you’ve never heard of him, don’t fret. Wolters is singularly uninterested in marketing himself or his accomplishments.0 Comments
November 15, 2010 by Jason Hood
Neil Postman’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business is now 25 years old. I borrow here from the introduction (from Justin Taylor’s excerpt), then bring in John and James (P. D., that is) into the conversation.
Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.
Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.
Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture . . .
In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.
I’m currently studying two of the best apocalyptic books I’ve ever read: the book of Revelation and P. D. James’s Children of Men.
Revelation is about a world where the powers hold out a plentitude of options for self-satisfaction and religious expression: false hope buttressed by economic success, power, and prestige.
James’s book is about the death of hope, yet her world is still saturated by “activity” designed to take focus off the disaster that has befallen the world (no more children are being born). Repeatedly we are told in Children of Men that British survivors care little about their fate, as long as they are safe from harm and safe from boredom. In other words, while there is a touch of Orwell in both books, they share more with Huxley. In these worlds humanity is flooded with entertainment-grade substance; we do not care to lift our heads above the din.
In both books, activity (religious, economic, entertainment, sexual, etc) serves to distract humans from truth. But both books offer a solution. It took me a few chapters before it dawned on me that the name “Theo Faron” had a meaning: “God of the lighthouse” in Greek, a name increasingly pertinent as the plot progresses.
Ironically, the churches in Rev 1-3 (and the two witnesses, who stand for the whole church in Rev 11) are “lampstands,” i.e., the light of the world in the world. This suggests that our primary response to Huxley’s nightmare is testimony, bearing witness to truth in a world where truth is not so much banned as “drowned in a sea of irrelevance.” Rather, as one of James’s characters puts it: “The world is not changed by the self-regarding, but by men and women prepared to make fools of themselves.”0 Comments