Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hopped and Bothered: Stone Enjoy By 2.14.15

Stone -- Enjoy By 2.14.15 IPA 

Alcohol content 9.4%.

I confess, I really am not a fan of Stone. Most of their porters and standard beers don't really work for me. Pouring this one out, though, my mind changed a bit. Its golden and clear, enough to read the bottle through my stout glass. The smell is amazing. Heavy pines, rainforest, and a lot of citrus. Grapefruit rind, a bit of lime.

Very tasty. The taste is a bit muted compared to the smell, but the bitterness offsets the pungent nature of the scent. Very nice balance between a light texture and a heavy taste. The flavors congeal rather nicely together in a juicy sensation.


Anyway, the finish is a bit rough but in a good way. The heaviness is still there but is dispelled through it's dryness. The hops linger a bit which is nice.

Buy if: you can get it before the expiration date.

Overall: I'm not a big Stone guy, but this is an above average IPA.

3.75 out of 5.


Christology: A Global Introduction, A Review (PART II)

Part I is here. Here is the rest.

Part two is a meditation upon the various Christological heresies within the early church traditions. Building off the New Testament, Kärkkäinen explains the various questions these holy writings produce, and the results are fascinating. Kärkkäinen covers Docetism, Apollinarianism, Arianism and Nestorianism, and their advocates and detractors. The difficult questions that were produced by these theological constructs are not hidden by Kärkkäinen, but are rather offered as a means to illustrate the difficulties surrounding the human one from Nazareth.

The one issue a reader might have is that main patristic sources such as Origen, Tertullian, and Irenaeus are not fully explained, thus leaving students a bit confused as to how the Church got from point A to C.

The councils Chalcedon and Nicaea are attempts to solve these perennial problems, but do so in a limited fashion. For instance, types of subordination are not immediately ruled out (contemporarily called ‘functional subordinationism’ with advocates such as Ware and Grudem), and this is an area where Christians continue to disagree. Kärkkäinen helpfully distinguishes between the Eastern and Western emphases concerning ‘natures’ (69-71), and showcases the tragic gap that developed between both East and West over these enduring issues of Christology and dogma. Built off these developments, the Reformation is front and center in engaging with kenosis Christology and Luther’s theology of the Cross, paving the way for modern theology (Moltmann).

Kärkkäinen then takes us on a whirlwind tour of the quests for the historical Jesus and the trappings of liberal Christianity, and he opines “one hopes that those involved will begin to dialogue more widely with systematic theology” (108). While the section on biblical studies was largely helpful, this part of the book is particularly edifying in illuminating the veiled aspects of church history.


Christology: A Global Introduction, A Review (PART I)

This review (though modified) was written for ST502, and I commend it to you.

Taking two thousand years of Christian theology and surveying it in fewer than three hundred pages is no small feat, especially when one includes the complexities of world religions. Dr. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen—Professor of Systematic Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary—has engaged these diverse theological strands and offers students of theology an inclusive and largely successful survey on the person and work of Jesus Christ. He does this in four distinct parts.

Part one includes a survey of the New Testament witness to Christ, beginning with the various Christological titles employed to describe Jesus. Titles such as κύριος and Χριστός—among many others—are expounded upon, thanks to the previous scholarship of James D.G. Dunn, yielding a unity and diversity of Christological viewpoints within the New Testament. Kärkkäinen’s presentation is helpful and succinct because he draws upon current scholarship and is quick to inform the student about the complex theological titles for Jesus. He then turns to Jesus and the Gospels, where the great themes are briefly elucidated: for Mark, suffering and servanthood; for Matthew, kingship and Jewish identity; for Luke, inclusion; for John, the word as life. However, one can always press for more detail: for example, the Lukan theme of ‘eschatological reversal’ is not mentioned, and would have strengthened Kärkkäinen’s contention for inclusion, as Mary’s Magnificat praises YHWH for “bringing down the powerful” and as the one who has “lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1:46-55). The inclusion of women, gentiles and the poor in Luke’s rendering of Christ’s ministry would have helped flesh out this vital contention, as it is a dominant Luke motif. With all that said, Kärkkäinen does not force a synthesis between the divergent accounts but prefers to see each account as illuminating, “various aspects of the life, death, and resurrection of the One who was and is confessed as Lord and Savior” (43). The gospels are a tapestry to be experienced, not contained or diluted.

Rounding out part one is Paul and Kärkkäinen approaches the apostle in the same manner he approached the Gospels: the various titles appropriated by Paul for Christ are discussed, and a survey of the various Pauline epistles save for the Pastoral Epistles. The unfortunate exclusion of 1-2 Timothy and Titus, although understandable as they are certainly disputed texts, is a problematic omission when considered against the inclusion of Ephesians. Certainly the Pastoral Epistles contain some Christological content that merits consideration, and could even aid in the diversification of early “Catholicism,” assuming Paul is not their author. For example, Titus 2:13 may be the second instance where Paul affirms explicitly that Jesus is God, with the other being Romans 9:5. Notably, Jesus is called a ‘mediator’ in 1 Tim. 2:5, a text that begs for further integration with the biblical tradition, especially since it may contain a theological strand also seen in Hebrews of Jesus as ‘high priest.’ The notion of ‘received text’ must be contended with if theologians are to exclude three epistles of the most prominent first century interpreter of the life of Jesus.

Finally, Kärkkäinen contends that Paul believed in, among many things, the preexistence of Christ and particularly the death and resurrection of the only Son of God (58). The strength of this section is that the breadth of the Pauline writings are mined and each epistle is permitted to stand as sole witness to the truth of Christ with the lone exception being the Pastoral Epistles.[1]


[1] The issue about the authorship of the Pastoral Epistles is long and vexatious. Suffice to say, the slim majority of Pauline scholars reject Pauline authorship (I. Howard Marshall, Jouette Bassler, Raymond Collins) while others affirm them (Ben Witherington, Luke Timothy Johnson). Personally, I'm on the fence until I've had enough chance to research the specific topic on my own time. The only other text I've delved into is Ephesians and I'm leaning against Pauline authorship though its not a settled case at all.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Brief Musings about Liturgy

I'm a member of the American Baptist Church USA. We're all over the map theologically, as it were. Some of fundamentalist, some are quite liberal. Yet we are united on key doctrines such as the resurrection, the priesthood of all believers, etc.

So it may strike some as odd that I would be attending an African-American Episcopal church here in Pasadena. Well, it is kind of odd. Our priest is a British dude, we have a woman deacon (which is awesome), and we do the whole wine and bread thing seriously (using actual wine). At my old churches, we were crazy for going for the more pricey brand of grape drink. So its been an experience considering much of my church background has been in low church settings ala Calvary Chapel.

The worship is different, the communion setting is different, the fellowship is different. Everything is just different.

And its awesome.

I never got liturgy as a kid, so I do wonder what my life would have been like had I been around the old hymns and settings. Good Lord the smells. I now associate recently extinguished candles and their pungent smoke with liturgy. Wisps of white that ascend and mingle in the air, letting us know service is over and yet not over. Liturgy, for me, is a manner of reflection, a time to meander in my mind about the previous day and the future week.

Liturgy, in essence, is rumination. Considering the effects of the the resurrection, of living a life in the tension between the Kingdom of God and the effects of Ferguson. Since the church is predominantly African-American, I'm privy to the conversations and laments of mothers and brothers and fathers and sisters who know and speak on them weekly.

Deacon Jamie spoke. Rev. Goldingay spoke. All of us speak on race, but with an eye towards reconciliation. Towards forgiveness. We sing each service old African hymns, modern classics and end it usually with this famous diddy:

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine."

"Go into the world, just go, to love and serve the Lord. Hallelujah, hallelujah."  says Deacon Jamie.

And what a broken, bitter, painful, wonderful world it is.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

S1-EP1 Notes: Ramen, Theology, Hip-Hop

If you want to listen to the first episode, click here.

First things first: for those of you who are not my mother, allow me to introduce myself. As I’ve said, I’m Nick and I am currently a Masters student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. My wife, Allison, is a PhD student at the Center for Advanced Theological Studies and may be one of the smartest people I know. So here’s to hoping that intelligence can be imputed through kissing and…dancing.


My degree can be put under the emphasis of biblical studies and theology, though most of my electives will take up Greek exegesis and language courses. I do have some interest in systematic theology, mostly related to theological anthropology (the theological study of the human person), eschatology (the study of the last things: heaven, hell, the intermediate state, etc.) and Christology—almost all of which can be found in studying the Apostle Paul. My background before Fuller includes a Bachelors in Film (specifically screen writing and film theory) with a minor in biblical studies, and an Associates Degree from Saddleback College, also in film production. So I was training in writing specifically for film, and now I’m undergoing a second period of training for theological education. Funny how that works. Going from a job market that will have me living off Ramen to a job market where Ramen exists only in the abstract.

I’ve just finished my first quarter here at Fuller, taking Greek One and Systematic Theology: Eschatology and Ecclesiology. I wrote a research paper about Paul and his view of the Resurrection, but I’m going to keep that one fairly close to my chest, as I’d like to develop it further in the future. Possibly at a theology conference that will be happening in seven months from now.

So that’s my education background. As for religious upbringing, I was raised in a pretty conservative environment by two wonderful parents who were themselves less conservative than the prevailing culture we lived in. Once I turned 13 or so, I became an agnostic for many reasons, some of them more interesting than the other, and lived in a period of existential flux for maybe 5 years until I decided to give this religious thing another go. During those 5 years, to my knowledge, nobody knew I wasn’t a Christian. I still went to church (though I did protest), went to youth group (less protesting because there were girls there), and read my bible once or twice, usually because I wanted to keep up appearances to the contrary.

I’m tempted to speak about a reconversion or a baptism or something equally Christian, but it was simply a place where I knew there was nothing much else out there. None of the beliefs my friends had (atheism to Buddhism) were of any interest to me. So out of existential curiosity—and perhaps a desire for closure—I reopened my New Testament and read the Gospel of John. Chapter 11, verse 35. The shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept. For some reason, maybe the stars aligned, it hit me right in the chest and I didn’t know what to do with this verse.

I come from a tradition that sees a biblical prophesy underneath every headline, and rarely preached from any Gospel other than John. Nothing against John, he’s a cool cat, but John was the singular Gospel to end all Gospels, at least as far as I can remember. So I was uniquely struck by how the God-Man John portrays was also moved to tears over the death of Lazarus. Forgive me, but this was not the Jesus I remembered from Scripture. In some sense, this Jesus was completely foreign to me.

So I read John a bit more, then moved on to Paul, as all good Protestants do. I confess to loving Paul a lot, especially 1 Corinthians and Colossians. If I had to pick an epistle to get lost within, I’d have to flip a coin. I don’t quite know when my love for Paul came about, but it was probably after I met my girlfriend (now wife) at Biola during her last semester and we had a talk about women in ministry. But that’s a topic for another episode. Suffice to say, Paul is fascinating and infuriating, and that’s why I can’t stop reading him. The way he frames his arguments, his passion, and his theological convictions that are often elusive: makes for a compelling apostle and for our first major interpreter of the life of the Messiah.

Shifting paradigms a bit—but not too much—I’ve begun to reconsider many theological convictions. For one, I’ve changed my mind regarding the doctrine of eternal punishment and have become agnostic on several other doctrines as well. I’ll deal with these in the future because I, well, I feel like it. It would feel weird to offer up my views at the beginning because, well, I change my mind sometimes and I don’t like getting on your good (or bad side) this early on. So there’s that.

But I can tell you about some major theologians who have had a profound influence upon my reading of Scripture, specifically about Paul. This is by no means exhaustive, but a mere survey.

Philip Payne has written a marvelous book, Man and Woman, One in Christ, that exhaustively argues for an egalitarian reading Paul. I found that it resolved some strong tensions and I’m always struck by what I learn upon further readings. A knowledge of Greek is helpful, but Payne explains everything so you learn a lot by, well, learning a lot.

Raymond Brown, the late great Roman Catholic New Testament scholar, really piqued my interest in the Christology of the New Testament with his short introduction to Christology. While certainly mainline and skeptical about some aspects of the New Testament, Father Brown was always fair in how he presented his exegesis. I miss him dearly.

Who else? Ah. F.F. Bruce. A theologian my father turned me onto early on. Bruce was the great conservative who somehow managed to annoy many conservatives. He was skeptical of Pauline authorship regarding the Pastoral Epistles, which are 1-2 Timothy and Titus, but he was very much about the evidence. A theologian for the church, I miss him dearly. May he sleep in peace until that great Day. 

Well, since this podcast has been relatively biographical and introductory and probably boring, I figure I’ll list off my top five favorite rappers. To make it more difficult, I’ll pick those among the living, and in no particular order…

This is not to suggest that these are the greatest rappers of all time. Just some personal favorites.

Fifth, Lupe Fiasco.

Fourth, Hopsin and Tech N9ne, because I can’t decide and won’t leave them off the list.

Third, Ice Cube and Lady of Rage, because I refuse to decide. Afro Puffs.

Second, Game (300 barz, no lie).

Eminem is number one for me. Why? Because Game says so.

Putting them here does not mean I endorse everything they say, or like everything they say. Its because of their technique, flow and ability to work with a good beat. Also, this list is subject to change in case they resurrect Tupac.

Also, for recommended Podcasts, check out Rethinking Hell. You can find them by just googling them in the Internets or in iTunes. A great group, one that I am involved in.

Well, that’s episode one. Thanks for listening and suffering through the learning process with me. I hope to do at least three episodes a month, maybe a few with some friends should they act right.

Until we meet again,


Thursday, January 1, 2015

S1-EP1: An Epistolary Frame of Reference

Well, here is episode one. I'm awful with technology and can't seem to get my episode onto iTunes. But, such is life. Here is the episode on archives.

For some reason iTunes can't download the podcast so it may be a while before I can get it into iTunes.

Its rough and a bit long, but I dig it. Thanks for listening. :)


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Critical and Creedal: Podcast Details and the Learning Curve

Well, I have the intro music from Glenn, and have recorded enough material for the first episode. I want to thank the seven of you who expressed interest in listening to the podcast so I want to offer some insider details about how this podcast will go. Insofar as one can know how it will go. I'm pretty new to this whole podcasting thing so any ideas will be welcome.

First, it looks like the episodes will be around 20-25 minutes. If there are any guests, it may go longer and would thus be split into at least two episodes. I love some 3 hour long podcasts but it can get pretty pretty pretty repetitive.

Second, you will not agree with everything I say. And that's fine. I do not expect every one to agree with me. Just be cool about it. Hit me up on twitter if you have grievances or condolences or bemused admiration.

Third, the podcast structure will be a bit more scattered because I tend to like a lot of things. For instance, having my sister on to talk about the new Hobbit movie could take up an entire episode. Then the next episode could cover some text critical issues. Then the next episode could be all about hip-hop with James. So expect the unexpected, I guess.

Fourth, thanks in advance for listening. My goal is to put up at least 2-3 episodes a month. I'd LOVE to do an episode every week but I doubt that is doable when working full-time and being in seminary part-time and being married full-full-time. So I think 2-3 episodes a month may work. I could also maybe do some shorter episodes (5-10 min) about some various topics but that's a whole other ballgame. I'm thinking I may release the episodes on Sunday so people have something to listen to on Monday morning. If they will listen anyway.

Fifth, thanks again. I'll likely be more involved in twitter about the podcast, as facebook is a bit of a pain to navigate sometimes. Plus, limiting everything to 140 characters means one is at least in principle less likely to email a term paper to me about how terrible or destructive I am.

Sixth, leaving now. Bye bye.


Friday, December 12, 2014

4 things You learn in Your first quarter at Seminary

1. Greek opens up the Bible for you in a way that nothing else can. 

I remember when this happened. I was reading about Pauline authorship regarding Ephesians (as can be seen here) and I was going off only six hours of sleep in three days. By this I mean I was dog tired. So while reading this commentary, I perused his exegetical comments regarding 1:3-14 and just kept reading. It was not until thirty minutes and fifty pages later that I realized something:

I was actually reading Greek. The original language Holy Scripture was written in, with all its variants and difficulties and marvelous simplicity.

So that was cool.

2. Historical-Criticism is an asset for the church, not an enemy. 

All theology and research must, ultimately, be done for the sake of empowering the church. So in researching the issue of authorship and simply thinking hard about the complexities therein, I hope that it isn't seen as being...I dunno...intentionally controversial.

Rather, its a historical and exegetical question that has some pretty significant theological implications. I won't rehash them here, but if something has the power to affect the church, then the church should be fully informed in order to make her own decisions.

Well okay. I'll speculate a bit. Richard Pervo dates Ephesians to around 80-90AD. Assuming he is true, it makes it difficult to utilize Ephesians in Pauline theology. However, the historical circumstances can greatly inform our contemporary exegesis of the text.

Think about it: Ephesians 2:11-22 has plenty to say for race relations, regardless of dating and authorship. 5:21-33 has a lot to say about mutuality and marriage. On and on it goes.

3. Difficulties becomes more easy to investigate when you aren't afraid.

In thinking about points 1 and 2 more, I've learned that I don't seem to be worried about certain theological or textual issues anymore. Could be I'm burnt out. Could be that there are some things worth worrying about.

4. A Podcast is likely forthcoming.

I have a few friends who are looking to be involved, and so I might begin recording episodes bi-monthly with them, as well as some episodes on my own exploring various exegetical issues in Paul. Of course, that is subject to change as seminary is likely to cause us to drop things pretty quickly.

If you would be interested in a podcast, let me know on Twitter @nickquient and if there are any NT topics that you might like me/us to talk about.