Monday, December 16, 2013

The New Year

Emperor Marcus Aurelius

I hope to begin the new year by posting a couple of pieces on the book of Ecclesiastes. James Barr said somewhere that this book is the nearest thing we have in Scripture to a work of philosophy, and I think that this is correct.  It is not a great work in philosophy, or anything like that, but it is reflective in a general way, and has some of the style of philosophical reflections. It's tone, or the mind-set of the author, gives it a resemblance to the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor influenced by the Stoics, as I shall try to show. Besides this, we'll look at the teaching of the book, and at its relation to the New Testament.  And there is stuff about our relation to time which I cannot resist.

These posts are to celebrate a commentary of Ecclesiastes by a long-standing friend, Melvin Tinker, to be published in 2014. I have not yet read it - a treat in store - but my guess  is that he and I will have a good deal in common. At least we'll both agree that the book has a positive message. It is not the work of a sour-minded and disillusioned king, but of someone who has come to realise where true satisfaction in this life is found, and what its limits are.

In addition to this I shall draw attention to a new book on antinomianism by Mark Jones, another friend, who with Joel Beeke is the author of A Puritan Theology. And I've discovered  that there's more to be said about  the 'dual-aspect theism' that we encountered in the work of  Rob Lister and his mentor Bruce Ware. In fact I think I've ferreted out another  source if not the source of this idea that God is a duality, making it possible (it is said) to hold that  God is timeless and also in time. For besides Rob Lister and his mentor Bruce Ware there is Scott Oliphint (in his book God With Us: Divine Condescension the Attributes of God (2012)) and his mentor John Frame. Frame offers the view in The Doctrine of God (2005) as well as in his recent one-volume Systematic Theology. So he another source

Nobody is to be accused of plagiarism! There is no issue of 'accountability'.  The claim that this view is an 'improvement' upon classical theism and God's relation to the creation marks a significant change in the way that we are bidden to think of God, when judged by the Reformed tradition. With such an 'improvement' we get the treat of having our cake and eating it, but at the price of  choking , as we shall see.

Beyond this, who can tell?  Even thinking that we can see as far as the first few months of the year is stretching things.

Nevertheless  I hope  that you and your families enjoy a Happy New Year!