Keeping Our Britches Lined With Footnotes

“I will assert that serious theology cannot expect to get anywhere until we knock off the urbane silliness that characterizes so much theological discussion today. The Scriptures say the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; some have taken this to mean that unbelief and autonomous rationality must be the beginning of knowledge. In light of this, the ache that some conservative scholars have to be taken seriously in the unbelieving academy is a pitiful thing indeed, and so I would like to take this opportunity to give the whole thing the universal raspberry. What Princeton, Harvard, Duke and all the theological schools in Germany really need to hear is the horse laugh of all Christendom. I mentioned earlier that proud flesh bonds to many strange things indeed, and I forgot to mention scholarship and footnotes. To steal a thought from Kierkegaard, many scholars line their britches with journal articles festooned with footnotes in order to keep the Scriptures from spanking their academically-respectable pink little bottoms.”

Douglas Wilson. “A Pauline Take on the New Perspective“. Credenda/Agenda. Vol. 15. Iss. 5. 17.

Anything But

Sarah Leading Hagar to Abraham by Matthias Stom
“The parable, in Luke 18:9-14, was directed against those who thought they were righteous and looked down on everyone else. We need to place due emphasis on the phrase ‘who thought they were righteous.’ People who preen themselves on their own righteousness go home unjustified even if they were baptized in a joint service with the pope and Billy Graham officiating. The self-righteous can trust in anything but Christ. Those who have the rightousness of Christ can trust in anything but themselves. Which means they are trusting in Christ alone.

This should not be a complicated problem. It seems to me that many of our difficulties with this are because we do not want to acknowledge that there are two on-going categories among the sanctified—the sanctified and the unsanctified. Among the justified we find the same division—the justified and the unjustified. Among the baptized elect we find the elect and the non-elect. And this is not the creed of some kind of Zen Reformation. It is basic to all spiritual wisdom. Among all the descendents of Sarah, we find descendents of both Sarah and Hagar. And this is why the church today, all sons of Isaac, contains so many Ishmaelites.”

Douglas Wilson. A Pauline Take on the New Perspective. Credenda/Agenda. Vol. 15. Iss. 5. 14-15.

Knowing τελοσ or Bust!

Studying Philosophy, I am wrestling with the meaning and understanding of telos as in teleological arguments or teleology.

For several weeks, I keep running into the Gk. root telos- and for weeks, I had to keep looking it up on my iPhone to remind me what it means and more importantly, “what the sentence is actually saying.

And the cement becomes bone-dry when I read this little quote:

“Moses declared that the law was not too hard for Israel to keep. This passage is applied by Paul to Christ Himself (Dt. 30:11-14; Rom. 10:6-11). This is because Christ is the telos of the law for everyone that believes (Rom. 10:4).” 1

Because of Romans 10:4, I get it now.

What is our purpose? What is our chief end?

Never stop asking this question.


  1. Douglas Wilson. “A Pauline Take on the New Perspective“. Credenda/Agenda. Vol. 15. Iss. 5. 10.

Faith Replacing Works?

Fides salvifica receives all of Scripture as good news from a gracious God. In a general sense, all is gospel. But the Scripture does contain what might be called the Gospel proper, the good news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. This is why the Protestant scholastics also said that there was a fides evangelica that specifically trusts in the revelation that God gives to us in the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the faith exhibited when someone hears the gospel preached.

And so this section concludes with some awkwardness. I do agree with the New Perspective on this issue. Faith and fidelity are organically related and are alive together. But as much as I would like to, I cannot rejoice in this agreement— because the critique offered of the ‘Old Perspective’ appears to assume that prior to the publication of Paul and Palestinian Judaism, the entire Protestant world was more or less Lutheran. Put another way, the exegesis of Paul is strong (at this point). But the representation of historical theology since the Reformation is really weak.

And this reveals the taint of modernity. A doctrinal argument represented as being between Old and New reveals the head of that old dragon Progress. ‘We modern scholars have a better understanding of Paul than the scholars of another era did’ sounds a lot more cutting-edge than simply joining in with a three-hundred-fifty year-old denominational debate, and taking up ordinary sides. We are like the Athenians, who liked nothing more than to hear the latest thing. This is why holding to a new and improved perspective is a lot sexier than simply not being a Lutheran.”

Douglas Wilson. “A Pauline Take on the New Perspective“. Credenda/Agenda. Vol. 15. Iss. 5. 9.