Gerald Hiestand Posts
May 16, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
Tim Challies has a nice review of our book, Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach (Crossway). He does a great job of summarizing our basic argument as it relates to premarital sexual ethics.0 Comments
May 16, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
The good folks over at the Henry Center have issued a call for papers to mark Carl Henry’s centennial birthday celebration. The Henry Center is a great organization, and in many ways, is trying to accomplish the same mission as the SAET, but from the academic side of things. Information below:
January 22, 2013, marks the centennial of the birth of the late Carl F. H. Henry. An architect of the modern evangelical movement in the U.S., Henry was involved in the inception of Fuller Seminary, Christianity Today, and the Evangelical Theological Society. He was also a professor, friend, and supporter of TEDS, leaving us both his single largest gift and his personal archives. This centennial moment offers a marvelous opportunity not only to commemorate and celebrate Carl Henry’s life of ministry and love of God, but also to rekindle the enduring significance of his theological vision for a new generation of evangelical scholarship, continuing the spirit of philosophical, theological, and social engagement that Henry envisioned.
Please consider sharing your research paper or project at this year’s Henry celebration and in the Spring 2014 edition of Trinity Journal. Some examples of potential research papers to be presented at the conference might include:
- Carl Henry’s Theology of Revelation and Scripture
- Evangelicalism and Social Engagement
- Carl Henry’s place in twentieth-century theology
- Carl Henry on Mercy and Justice
- Carl Henry’s Theological Interpretation of Scripture
- Evangelicalism and Theological Education
Proposals should include a title of no more than 100 characters and an abstract not to exceed 250 words. They should also include name, email address, and place of employment/study. The proposals are due by July 1, 2013, and should be submitted to Geoffrey Fulkerson: email@example.com.
Six essays will be accepted and announced by July 15. The selected essayists, in addition to having their travel expenses covered to the Remembering Carl Henry Conference, will be given a $500 honorarium, and the selected essays will appear in the spring edition of Trinity Journal.
April 29, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God,” 1 Corinthians 11:3
“For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man,” 1 Corinthians 11:7.
Feminine head coverings in the ancient world were a sign of chastity, and thus respect toward the male benefactor in a woman’s life (i.e., a husband, father, or brother). In both pagan and sacred culture, a woman who rejected the head covering was making a statement about her own independence, and was thus rejecting the traditional norms of chastity that her society expected of a woman. So for the early church, the matter of head coverings carried significant cultural freight. It appears, reading into the context of 1 Corinthians 11, that some of the Corinthian women converting to Christianity, perhaps independent of their husbands or fathers, where using the occasion of their conversion as a context for forgoing the traditional use of head coverings. This would have been seen by the wider ancient culture as somewhat scandalous. Hence the context for Paul’s comments.
But Paul doesn’t address the issue with a merely cultural argument; rather he offers a theological argument. For Paul, in the divinely appointed drama that is the man and the woman, the husband typologically represents Christ, and the woman typologically represents the church (see Ephesians 5:21-33, esp. vs. 32). Paul is following this same basic framework in 1 Corinthians 11, tweaking it slightly, whereby the man represents the divine (i.e., God/Christ), and the woman represents humanity (i.e. man).
The man must not cover his head when he prays, because he is the image of God. The woman must cover her head when she prays, because she is the image of man (i.e. humanity). Paul is talking here about literal heads, but it’s important to keep in mind the typology he’s just established in the 11:3. The head of the man typologically represents Christ, and the head of the woman typologically represents humanity. Thus, when a man prays with his head covered, the head that he dishonors is not his own literal head, but Christ, who is his head. Thus the man must not cover his head whey he prays, which would imply humility and creaturehood in Christ, since the man’s head typologically represents Christ. But inasmuch as the woman’s head is an image of humanity, who is a creature, it is proper that her head be covered. So the woman’s “humility” is really a statement about humanity’s humility. Thus the woman’s head covering is not, for Paul, a statement about the man’s superior worth viz a viz the woman, but quite the opposite; it is a statement about humanity’s humility.
But why can’t the man, as representative of humanity, image forth humanity’s creaturehood? Paul doesn’t answer this question directly, but we can piece together a response along the following lines: God, in the incarnation, is both divine and human, and thus it is incumbent that his image (i.e., humanity) show forth this reality. As in Ephesians 5, Paul sees the man as an image of the divine, and the woman as an image of humanity. The two together constitute the essence of redeemed (deified) humanity, and reflect the dual nature of God in Christ.
Having established the typological relationship between the man and the woman, viz a viz humanity and God, Paul evens the whole thing out by showing the interdependence of the man and the woman in vs. 11 ff. Here again the typology holds: the woman is made by (lit. ek) the man, just as humanity is made by Christ. And yet in the unfolding of human history, Christ is not independent of humanity, for he is subsequently born from the humanity which he himself created, just as the man, who is the originator of the woman, is subsequently born from the woman he himself originated. In this way the reciprocal relationship between the man and the woman mirrors the reciprocal relationship between Christ and humanity.
Which still leaves unanswered the question, “To what extent does this Pauline command still apply today?” In as much as head coverings have no contemporary cultural currency, it seems better to find other culturally relevant ways of expressing the underlying principles of feminine respect and chastity. In other words, the theological and moral aspects of Paul’s argument retain their relevance, but it is necessary to find other culturally relevant means of expressing this.2 Comments
April 27, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
A few thoughts from John 21…
In John 21 we are given an account of Peter’s restoration to public ministry. Jesus’ three questions are an opportunity for Peter to recapitulate the occasion of his three denials. Three denials, offset by three affirmations. But what’s important to see here, and what I think Jesus is keen to show Peter, is that Peter’s denial of Christ was not merely the denial of a cause; it was the denial of love —- the denial of a relationship. (The relational weight of Peter’s denial is poignantly seen in Luke’s gospel, when, after Peter’s third and final denial in the courtyard, Jesus turns and looks at Peter, and Peter goes out and weeps.) Thus Jesus’ restoration of Peter is not merely, or even primarily, a restoration to a mission or a vocation, but a restoration to a person —- to him -— to Jesus. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Only in this context is Peter restored to his ministry.
And we see that Peter is primed for this restoration. When Peter is first encountered by Christ it is on the occasion of a similar miraculous catch. And at that time, Peter recoils from the Lord saying, “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” But now, on this second occasion of a miraculous catch, Peter’s response is the opposite. He does not desire to depart from Christ, but leaps from the boat to be more quickly near him. He has met the precondition for restoration.0 Comments
April 26, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
“Yet such a man is reputed to be voluntarily wicked and not diseased; although, in truth, this sexual incontinence, which is due for the most part to the abundance and fluidity of one substance because of the porosity of the bones, constitutes a disease of the soul. And indeed almost all those affections which are called by way of reproach “incontinence in pleasure,” as though the wicked acted voluntarily, are wrongly so reproached; for no one is voluntarily wicked, but the wicked man becomes wicked by reason of some evil condition of body and unskilled nurture, and these are experiences which are hateful to everyone and involuntary. And again, in respect of pains likewise the soul acquires much evil because of the body,” (Timaeus, 86e).
Here Plato anticipates modern psychology’s strictly biological explanations for behavior. We are not evil by choice, but by bodily necessity. Our sexual overindulgence is not something we should be rebuked for, since it is the result of disorder in the body. Yet Plato in other places clearly imagines that men should control themselves sexually (see end of Phaedrus, for example), and that the capacity to do so is within one’s power. See also Timaeus, 92 b-c, where the most base souls “no longer deserve” to breath pure air and are thus turned into fish, where they receive their “justly due reward.”0 Comments
April 25, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
“For let me tell you, Socrates,” he said, “that when a man begins to realize that he is going to die, he is filled with apprehensions and concern about matters that before did not occur to him. The tales that are told of the world below and how the men who have done wrong here must pay the penalty there, though he may have laughed them down hitherto, then begin to torture his soul with the doubt that there may be some truth in them. And apart from that the man himself either from the weakness of old age or possibly as being now nearer to the things beyond has a somewhat clearer view of them. Be that as it may, he is filled with doubt, surmises, and alarms and begins to reckon up and consider whether he has ever wronged anyone. Now he to whom the ledger of his life shows an account of many evil deeds starts up even from his dreams like children again and again in affright and his days are haunted by anticipations of worse to come,” (Plato’s Republic, 330d).
Even the ancient agnostics feared judgment when it finally confronted them face to face. True still today; it is easy to scoff at judgment when it seems far away, but not so easy when there is little space left between us and the grave.2 Comments
April 24, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
In Plato’s Timaeus, 33c-34c, the Demiurge (the supreme god) fashions the world to be self-sufficient. It has no eyes, because there is nothing to see beyond itself; no ears, because there is nothing to hear beyond itself. He makes the world a circle, “spinning around on itself” because a circle denotes self-containment. Thus the world is a “single solitary universe, whose very excellence enable it to keep its own company without requiring anything else. For its knowledge of and friendship with itself is enough. All this, then, explains why this world which he begat for himself is a blessed god.”
Plato here personifies creation, and makes the person of creation an isolated entity. Notably, the Demiurge does not create the world to be in relationship — with other created beings, or the creator. For Plato ( typical of Greek thought), needing something outside oneself is a sign of weakness. Independence is a sign of divinity. The whole framework is notably non-Trinitarian, and radically different than how the Hebrew Bible frames both divinity and the relational interdependence of creation.0 Comments
April 23, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
It’s easy to respect a figure like Augustine, removed as we are from personal acquaintance. But what kind of man was he? Here’s an encouraging word from Possidius, his biographer:
“Those who read his works on divine subjects profit thereby. But I believe that they were able to derive greater good from him who heard and saw him as he spoke in person in the church, and especially those who knew well his manner and life among people” (Life of Augustine, 31).
Much of a pastor’s life takes place in public, and he tends to be known generally by many, but only known personally by few. And it is generally true that those aspects of a pastor’s life which folks see tend to be those aspects that highlight his gifting. So in many respects, it can be easy to respect a pastor from afar. But can we, like Augustine, pass the people test? Does knowing you personally cause people to derive greater or lesser good from your public ministry? Or asked another way, does the respect people have for you increase in proportion to their proximity to you, or does it decrease?3 Comments
April 22, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
“If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from among you?” 1 Corinthians 9:11
There’s no getting around the fact that the New Testament, Paul in particular, asserts a basic material/immaterial dualism. Yet the dualism found in the New Testament differs from Platonic dualism inasmuch as New Testament eschatology is material; the resurrection of the body, as well as the prophetic visions of the New Heavens and the New Earth, all offer us an eschatological vision that does not portend the end of the material world, but rather its consummation.
Thus the key to fending off the insertion of pernicious Platonic dualism into the New Testament is not by denying the New Testament’s material/immaterial dualism outright, but rather by keeping in mind that the main dualism in the New Testament is present/future, and that the material world envisioned by the New Testament is also a materialistic world. Thus, unlike Platonic dualism, the soteriological goal of the New Testament is not to move from the material world to the immaterial world, but rather to refrain from grasping the present material world in a way that disqualifies one from the future material world. We hold the present material world loosely not because it is material, but because “the world in its present form is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31).1 Comment
March 29, 2013 by Gerald Hiestand
In John’s gospel, chapters 13-17 represent the final breath before the plunge; the arrow has been strung, the bow is taut. With the opening of chapter 18 and Jesus’ arrest, the arrow at last leaves the string. And from there it will race forward, not stopping until it has pinned Jesus to the cross. But in all of this, John wants us to know that it is Jesus who holds the bow and commands the arrow.
The Jewish rulers and the soldiers have come to take him by night. And they have come at night because they are afraid. Afraid of the crowds, yes. But also afraid of him. One doesn’t blame them for their fear (would that they had more of it). Jesus, after all, has displayed extraordinary powers—storms bow before him, demons grovel in his presence, voices thunder from heaven on his behalf. He commands even the dead. And less than a week ago he had entered the temple, the seat of their power, and—fell and terrible—had driven out their money changers.
And so they come at night, cowering behind the soldiers, huddled together, trying not to let on their fear. The soldiers themselves are tense, following Judas, wary of a trap.
“Who do you seek?” a man asks, stepping out of the shadows.
They glance nervously into the dark. “Jesus of Nazareth” they say, trying to discern the man’s identity.
“I AM he.”
The man’s voice—spoken soft and low—rumbles in their ear like ominous thunder. Sovereignty has been unleashed. Their lungs go empty—their hearts stop. The earth spins, and they fall upon the ground. Crushing power radiates from the man like a wave of the sea, paralyzing them. Unable to think, unable to flee—they taste in their mouths the bitter drought of fear and humiliation—but mostly fear. The curtain has been pulled back—the scandalon has been revealed, and they are being crushed beneath it.
He releases them from his power and steps nearer.
“Who do you seek?” he asks again. His voice stern, commanding.
Their heads clear, and with the clarity comes shame, followed by the anger of humiliation. They scramble to their feet, taking hold of their cloaks and readjusting their dignity. Torches are picked up, clubs recovered. Swords are loosed.
“We seek Jesus of Nazareth.”
“I told you I am he,” the man says again. “So if you seek me, let these men go.”
And they do what he tells them.
“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:17-180 Comments