Sunday, April 26, 2009

A House Is Like a Cooler

Is there any theological content to this?  I don't know.  But this blog isn't just about theology.  And if your life is a reflection of your theology, there's got to be some theology here somewhere.

Just a reminder as weather is moderating.  Some people don't think too well about the way their houses work.  I've found that thinking of it like a cooler is a good idea.  As you know, you can use a cooler to keep things either warm or cool.  The key is that when sealed it will tend to maintain the interior temperature.

We don't think about it much in cold winter weather.  Opening the window when it's below freezing outside is just plain bad planning.  But how about when the weather is warmer?  Maybe these tips will be useful.

1) If it's hot outside and comfortable inside, keep the windows and doors closed.  You want to keep the cool air inside.
2) If it's chilly outside and comfortable inside, keep the windows and doors closed.  You want to keep the warm air inside.
3) If you blow a fan in a window, it will move air into one room.
4)  If you blow a fan outof a window, it will move air into all the other windows which can feed air to that outgoing breeze.
5) Closing drapes or blinds on a sunny window will keep some of the warmth out.
6)  Heat radiates off of porch roofs that have had the sun shining on them.  It may be much hotter outside a south facing window than outside a north facing window, even if the sun is not currently shining on the window.
7) If you can feel a breeze that you didn't plan you have a leak somewhere.  You might not want to trace it and try to repair it during the winter when it is really expensive, but warm weather is a good time for that.
8) A tube of caulk costs a whole lot less than the energy to heat or cool your house by a degree.

The earth is the Lord's.  So is our home.  If He has given us something to take care of our care for it is part of his plan for our lives.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Real Presence

Timocrat brought up a good point.  Okay, I probably provoked him to it and thought I had deftly sidestepped the issue when we were talking earlier today in the presence of some other people.  But I guess I didn't sidestep it completely.  Hey, there's a time to sidestep and there's a time to take something on.  Thanks for knowing we needed to take on other things in that other forum, Timocrat.

Here's the question, embedded in a comment.

I have a question, very unrelated. How do you explain and scripturally defend consubstantiation (the belief that Christ is also physically, not only spiritually, present at the sacrament of communion)?

Let's have a go at this.  Timocrat has taken a typical Calvinist view of communion, that Christ is spiritually present.  Actually, from what I've heard coming from really educated thoroughgoing Calvinists is that during communion we become spiritually present with Christ, who is there physically in heaven.  At the time the question was arising earlier today some other people were making comments about a symbolic presence as well.    Unfortunately, Timocrat muddied some of the waters by assigning the label "consubstantiation" to the view of a real presence.  I'd rather not get into all the philosophical reasoning behind it, but historically Lutherans have not affirmed consubstantiation.  They have affirmed a real bodily presence, but did not wish to define it as consubstantiation, which had been condemned as a heresy around the 10th century.  Unfortunately, the label has stuck.

So I can't defend consubstantiation.  I don't believe consubstantiation.  I don't believe transubstantiation either.  But I will affirm a real  bodily presence of Christ in communion.  The scriptural defense is that Jesus uses a simple copulative verb to say "This is my body."  When presenting the cup, he uses metonymy to say "this cup is the new covenant in my blood."  Nobody affirms that the cup is a covenant, but that the use of the term "cup" refers to what is in the cup.  That seems a safe statement, at least for now.  On the surface it seems quite clear that Jesus is saying thing one (bread or wine) is being equated with thing two (body or blood).  There are three basic tracks we can take to understand this.

Track #1 is to say that this is a metaphorical use, just like Jesus saying, "I am the door of the sheep."  While this would be possible, notice that the words of institution of communion are opposite to all the metaphorical statements Jesus makes.  He consistently compares himself, the greater, to a lesser thing.  For instance, when he presents himself as the door of the sheep, he is rather clearly saying that the door exhibits some element of which he is the fulfillment.  But this statement, and only this one, treats the situation in reverse.  The first element, bread, is the lesser.  By that reasoning, Jesus would be saying that his body exhibits some element of which bread is the fulfillment.  This doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  You could certainly make an argument that says this arrangement doesn't preclude Jesus' use of a metaphor in different directions at different times.  But you could not make an argument that says linguistically Jesus must be speaking metaphorically.  I have yet to see adequate argument to make me think Jesus must be speaking metaphorically.

Track #2 is to say that we are able to understand what happens in communion.  This takes in the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation, the Calvinist view of a spiritual presence, and the Zwinglian view of a symbolic reference.  In all those views we take the very same words of Jesus and say we understand exactly what they mean.  We have come up with an explanation for what Jesus actually means when he says "this is my body."  And in all those explanations, something happens to the word "this," the word "is" or the word "body" to make it intelligible.  Particularly if we are wishing to avoid transubstantiation, we end up having to do something to the word "is" so as to make it somehow mean "represents."  Of course, the Calvinist spiritual presence position winds up unable to explain why Jesus didn't say either, "this is my spirit" or "this represents my spiritual presence."  

Track #3 is very unsatisfying to many people.  It is, however, what I'll affirm.  Jesus says, "This is my body" and it is exactly what he means.  There is something miraculous which happens when we celebrate communion.  Jesus is present bodily.  We don't know how.  We might even have trouble with explaining why.  We may dislike the idea that this means a miracle necessarily happens in communion.  It may make us feel like we are not erudite modernists and postmodernists who can deal with communion in a sophisticated knowing way.  But it is exactly what Jesus said.  Jesus and the apostles had plenty of time and opportunity to explain things more fully.  The Holy Spirit inspired no such explanation.  So I'll just have to accept what our Lord said.

So there you have it.  Is it an explanation?  I guess not.  But it is an affirmation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Tree of Life

Time to lay out a question.  What was the purpose of the tree of life in Eden?  Was it to ward off death even before the existence of sin?  Was it something from which our first parents would have been eating already before the curse?  A friend asked me this question, which someone else had asked him.  Since I'll be on the road for a couple of days I might have a chance to think through this account and deal with the data in Genesis 1-3.

Comments?  Ideas?  I know there are a few people out there who might help inform us all on the issue.