Category Archives: Miscellaneous

I Was Just Reminded that I’m a Prophet

I was looking through old blog posts for something or another and I came across my post “The Fruit of Impatience” dated August 31, 2010 in which I note how I printed Chris Tilling’s doctoral dissertation and had it bound for use when I was away from the computer.

In a comment to that post dated September 1, 2010 I said the following to Chris himself:

“Chris: I’ll be hugely honored when I receive my FREE autographed copy of the published edition! ;-) If you need a proofreader to take a look at your revisions you know where to send them. Also, which publishers do you have in mind? I think it’s a natural fit for WUNT for it would go good anywhere. You might even consider foregoing the prestige of an expensive monograph series and publish it with Eerdmans or someone else affordable so us common folk can get our hands on it. ;-)”

On March 31, 2012 Tilling announced that he was publishing with Mohr Siebeck. I shared the news of that announcement and mocked up what I thought the book would look like given the assumption (or prophetic premonition) that it would be a WUNT II volume.

Fast forward to July 14, 2012 when I shared the news that Mohr Siebeck had informed me that they’d be sending a copy of Tilling’s soon to be released monograph for review. Guess what series it was published in? WUNT II. Fulfillment numero uno.

Then on November 23, 2014 I shared a video of an interview that Rachel Bomberger conducted with Chris about his soon to be released book. Guess who Rachel worked for? Eerdmans. Guess what book was soon to be released? Paul’s Divine Christology. Fulfillment numero dos.

And on May 21, 2015 I noted ordering the Eerdmans edition and then on May 25, 2015 I noted its arrival.




On Punctuality (or, More Barber Stuff)

My barbershop uses an app to book appointments. The app allows our customers to rate the barbers and the barbershop overall. Recently I’ve seen a few reviews that have deducted a star for punctuality. Allow me a brief moment to speak on this subject and correct any misconceptions that people may have about how certain types of barbershops operate.

To start, at my barbershop we work by appointment while also accepting walk-in traffic. It is our sincere desire to be able to accommodate everyone who would like to get their hair cut. So in the midst of servicing our appointments we also have to squeeze in the occasional walk-in. This can, at times, cause us to run over and into the time that someone else has scheduled for a haircut. We don’t like to run late but it can and does happen. I can assure you that it’s not a case of not respecting someone else’s time or thinking that ours is more valuable than theirs, which seems to be how some people feel.

Secondly, I’d like to remind people that we’re dealing with people; real life human beings. We’re not machines and neither are they. So there’s no guarantee that every haircut will take the same amount of time for any number of reasons. For example, say that we have blocked out 30 minutes for a haircut but our client runs 5 minutes late. If it does indeed take us 30 minutes to do that cut then we are now going to run 5 minutes late and that will cut into the next appointment. If this happens a few times throughout the course of the day it can have a snowball effect that causes us to run much further behind than we’d like to.

But let’s suppose that our clients are on time, there’s still no guarantee that the haircut that is blocked out for 30 minutes will get done in 30 minutes. If it’s a new client we have to take the time to learn their head and hair. If it’s a returning client who wants to change up their style we have to take the time to make it look how they want. The lighting can be bad at any given moment. We can run into technical difficulty with our equipment. The phones at the shop may be ringing off the hook and we have to take time out to answer them (we don’t have a receptionist at my shop). The point is that there are any number of things that can cause a barber to run behind.

My boss holds to a philosophy that says an appointment guarantees a haircut, not necessarily a haircut at the time of the appointment. I understand that idea, and in truth it’s one that doctors and dentists have been operating on since the dawn of time, but it’s not necessarily my personal philosophy. I like to be on time, I really do, and to the best of my ability I try to be. I recognize that clients choose particular times for a reason and I try my very best to honor those times. We all do.

So I’d urge anyone leaving reviews online for their barbershops or salons of choice to take these things into consideration when talking about punctuality. Also take past experiences into account. I had one client deduct a star for the lone time I ran 10 minutes late. Never mind every other time when I was on time. I didn’t get rated for that, but rather for something that was out of my control. It’s not the end of the world but it is somewhat annoying.


Answering Common Questions About My Library

Why do you have so many books?

There are a few ways to address this. First of all, I don’t. My library is rather small compared to some others so “so many” is relative. Secondly, I have as many as I do because I got them. It’s the same reason I have anything that I have. I got it so I have it. Make sense?

Have you read all of those books?

The typical response is some of all and all of some. This is nearly true as I generally tend to at least read the table of contents or glance at a bibliography but there are definitely some that I haven’t even cracked the cover on. There are some that I may never get around to.

You couldn’t possibly read all those books, could you?

With God all things are possible (Matt 19:26). Theoretically, I could read them all. It’s not an impossible task. There are dozens of short volumes in my library that could be read in a matter of hours. There are plenty of classics that I could get rapt up in and lose all sense of time so that no matter how long it took to read I’d do it in a single sitting. But all of these books aren’t meant to be read in their entirety. Some are reference works that will be referenced only as needed. Most importantly, however, is my attitude towards unread volumes, which is that they represent potential. It would be a sad thing if I had read all of the books I own.

How much money are all of those books worth?

I couldn’t even begin to tell you. Years ago I used to track what I spent on books. I did this for a few reasons. The first was budgetary. When I began to do that I was working at a job where I was an independent contractor. That meant that I received a 1099 and no taxes were taken out of my check. I was responsible for paying the IRS come tax time. I needed to know where all my money was going.

After that I wasn’t working but I was blogging all the time and receiving review copies of a lot of books so I didn’t have to pay for a good majority of what I was reading. I was also earning gift certificates to various bookseller websites through affiliate programs. I began to challenge myself to spend as little as possible out of pocket and while that was a fun exercise for a few years, I gave up on it as I became busy with other things.

Now I’ve been gainfully employed for a number of years and since all of my bills are taken care of I can buy all of the books I want when I want them without having to worry very much about what’s being spent. So I said all this to say that I don’t know the actual value of my library. To me it’s priceless, but I’d estimate its worth in the tens of thousands just based on retail prices.

Don’t you think you have enough books?

No. And I never will. There’s always more to learn.

Why do you have so many books on the same subjects?

I’ll answer this with a proverb: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov 18:17). Reasonable minds differ. I like to weigh arguments and come to my own conclusions.

Why not just use a public library?

I don’t like to give books back. The thought actually makes me ill.

Why do you need so many books?

To be honest, I don’t. But that really depends on what we mean by “need” doesn’t it? Do books fit in on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Maybe on the self-actualization tier but that can be argued. I won’t die without them. At least not physically. But I have an addictive personality and hobbies or habits easily become compulsions for me so in a sense I do have a need to keep growing my library. But the fact is that I’d be just fine with a single Bible. My library started with a single Bible. Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD (Deut 8:3).

Why do you have so many Bibles?

Aside from the fact that I want them, they all have a purpose. First of all, there are a variety of translations. So having different translations is necessary if I want to compare translations. But why have multiples copies of any one translation? Some are to study, some are to read, some are to mark up, some are to preach from, and some are to just enjoy because I like how they look on my desk or a shelf. Also, I can’t bring myself to throw Bibles away. Unless I’ve given them away I have every Bible I’ve ever gotten.

And that’ll do it for the most common questions I get asked about my library.


Phil Long (@Plong42) Reviews my Book

Phil Long as reviewed my book Christology in Review over at his blog Reading Acts. It’s a favorable review—thanks be to God—but Phil was surprised to see that I didn’t review the Michael Bird edited How God Became Jesus. To be honest, I’m surprised that I haven’t reviewed it either. I read it when it first came out and I began a post (which I believe is still in my drafts) summarizing each chapter but for some reason I never got around to finishing it. It’s been so long since I’ve read the book that I’ll have to go back and read it again!

Thanks to Phil for taking the time to read and review the book. I have produced a corrected edition in which I have fixed all of the typographical errors I spotted in the original version. I also fixed the format, which I wasn’t happy with in the original version. It looks and feels much more like a real book now. I’ll be sending Phil a copy of the update when they come in. I’d also note that I’ve added 2 other reviews to this corrected edition and a bibliography of the books reviewed. The latter became necessary since I removed the bibliographic details from the reviews themselves.

I’ll post on all that another time.


What I’ve Been Up To…

In a word: work. I’ve been working. A lot. Like 70 hours a week. For over a year. It’s been lucrative. It has. Really. But it doesn’t afford me much time to do pretty much anything. Except church that is. There’s Sunday service and Wednesday evening Bible study. I do that too and when I’m there there’s a few things I do to help the service run smoothly. So I’ve been busy. Really busy.

The business of life hasn’t afforded me much time to blog. Not because blogging takes that much time, but rather because I’m occupied with things that don’t give me as much time to think of the things that make for good blog fodder. Make sense? I used to have a bunch of time to read and review books. I don’t have that any more. I used to have a bunch of time to study Scripture and reflect on it. I don’t have that any more (although rest assured I still read my Bible).

For a while I was keeping my reading audience abreast of what books I’ve been ordering and receiving (that’s right folks, I’m exclusively buying books these days!) but that’s been mostly relegated to my social media outlets, If I even keep up with it there. The truth is that my addictive personality has struck again and I’ve added a new addiction to the repertoire. Sneakers. But not just sneakers in general, rather Jordan 1s in particular.

I’ve never been a Jordan guy. I was always a Knicks fan so wearing Jordans back in the day was never a thought in my mind and I’ve not been a fan of the various iterations of his shoes anyway. But I do like the 1s because they’re really just Nikes. They got their design language from the Air Force 1, which is undoubtedly my favorite sneaker of all time. But I digress… Anyway, after never having owned a pair of Jordans I now own 7 with plans to get more in the very near future. I’d like to stop but being the way I am I probably won’t.

I’ve also taken up comic book reading. After consulting with my friend Bryan L. a few months back I subscribed to Marvel Unlimited and I have access to thousands of comics on my iPad. I’ve been reading the Civil War series and it’s pretty good. Quite a bit different than the last Captain America film, which I loved, but still good.

And there’s the beat making. It’s slowed a bit but I still dabble. I really do have to post some of the stuff I’ve made. One day…

Oh, and then there’s my daughter. She’s in high school now which means she wants nothing to do with dear old dad so I have to take every moment I can spend with her and spend it. Consequently, I have to take every waking moment to fight off the depression of being old enough to have a daughter in high school! Just kidding. I don’t get depressed. I’ve got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart, (where?) down in my heart, (where?) down in my heart…

So that’s it in a nutshell. I’d like to talk politics real soon but I have a sneaking suspicion that I won’t. Until then…


When You’ve been Busy… @voxstefani @drjewest

…you forget to wish your best good friend and brother from another mother a happy birthday. My dear friend Fr Esteban Vázquez just celebrated another year of life this past August 29th and I was too busy cutting some vagrant’s hair to remember to send him my best wishes. So happy belated birthday bro! Something is on the way!

Oh, and Jim West grew even more decrepit on the same day, so congrats on that Jim.


Some Scattered Thoughts on the EFS/ERAS Debate

I’ve been doing my best to keep up with the recent goings on about the subject of the Son’s subordination to the Father but I have to admit that even my best has left me woefully behind in all that has been said on the subject in recent weeks (those interested will do well to consult Seumas Macdonald’s collation of posts on the subject). I miss the days of working from home and being able to engage in fruitful theological dialogue. But I digress. I want to share some scattered thoughts on it all with the hope that I’ll have something substantial to say about the subject at some point (although I couldn’t imagine when that might be).

First, a few observations:

It seems like the label heresy is getting thrown around pretty easily. I’m actually okay with this. I know that it’s a serious charge but this is serious subject matter and if certain folk think other folk are far afield enough then why not charge them with heresy? It doesn’t mean the charge will stick but I see no problem with putting it out there.

There has been a repeated call for Christian charity and an irenic tone as these debates continue. I would also urge Christian charity but some issues require polemic. Again, if certain people feel that others are far enough off the mark (or perhaps not so far but simply unwilling to listen to reason) then polemic might be more appropriate.

The issue of eternal generation seems to be at the forefront of this debate. From all I’ve read it seems as though Grudem is not a proponent (although not necessarily opposed) and yet many on his side seem to think this is one of the foundational concepts for EFS/ERAS.

The repudiation of EFS/ERAS from across the interdisciplinary spectrum is a sight to behold. Theologians, biblical scholars, and patristic scholars alike seem to think that EFS/ERAS is bad theology, unbiblical, and unfaithful to the tradition of the church.

Now for my personal position:

Some years back I put together something I called the Trinity Blogging Summit (I apologize for the name but I was never all that creative) where various bloggers contributed posts/papers on various topics concerning the Trinity. For the first annual TBS in 2008 I wrote a paper called “Sent from the Father: A Case for Pre-Temporal Obedience.” In that paper I took a look at the sending/sent language/theme in the Gospels and concluded that the Son qua Son obeys the Father out of love and that if this loving obedience could take place before the incarnation then it does no violence to the doctrine of the Trinity from a biblical perspective to suggest that it can be done from all eternity.

Now please keep in mind that my concern has never been with authority and submission structures in the church, the home, or anywhere else. I do not see the Trinity as a model to be followed by created beings. The problem as I see it, and have seen it since at least 2008, is that people on both sides of the debate want to co-opt the eternal relations between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and use them as the basis for their preferred model of marital relationships or the ordination of ministers. And this cuts both ways. Kevin Giles has been as guilty of this as Bruce Ware, although it seems that in recent years Giles has backed off a bit while Ware has gotten more resolute.

I am of the opinion that it does little to no good to look to the church fathers for an answer to this debate because it is a debate that they weren’t having and had never occurred to them. I am also of the opinion that whatever we say about the immanent Trinity that has not been revealed to us in Scripture is speculation. Some speculation is more reasonable than others but at the end of the day it’s all guesswork.

And that brings me to something I noted in my scathing review of Millard Erickson’s book on the subject: “The fact is that the only picture we have of the Father-Son relationship in Scripture is one of the Son doing the will of the Father out of love for the Father but never of the Father doing the will of the Son or the Spirit.  The Father sends the Son and the Father and Son send the Spirit yet this is never reversed.” So my question is why? Why does the economy take such shape? And why would we propose that the economy is not reflective of–without being identical to–the immanent Trinity?

We all recognize that there is an order within the Trinity. Most in this debate affirm that the Father alone is unbegotten/ungenerate, that the Son is begotten by an eternal generation, and that the Spirit proceeds from the Father (and many say the Son as well) by an eternal procession. Most would agree that these are asymmetrical and irreversible relations. Most agree that while Father, Son, and Spirit all share equally the divine being, possess one divine will, and act as one God, that they each have unique personal properties that distinguish them from one another.

I’m of the opinion that any talk of subordination or obedience or submission in the immanent Trinity is talk of personal properties. If an asymmetrical and irreversible order of “origin” (I use the term loosely for lack of a better one) does no harm to an orthodox doctrine of God then I can’t see why a corollary order of loving filial obedience would either.

And now a word about the recent discussion that took place on the Christ the Center podcast.

The panelists, who all were opposed to EFS/ERAS made much of the pactum salutis and kept stressing a single divine will and distinct personal wills within God at the same time. The idea of the pactum salutis has the Father calling the shots, so to speak, and the Son and Spirit obeying them, with the understanding that this could have been otherwise. They say that there is no ontological ground for the Son obeying the Father and that he does so freely, not necessarily.

But that’s similar to something I said back in 2008 when I made my initial argument for my understanding of EFS. I said, “The eternal obedience of the Son and Spirit is derived from the eternal Trinitarian ταξις and is best described as a willing obedience.  The Father commands without demanding.  There is no coercion on the part of the Father, and the Son and Spirit do not obey begrudgingly.” The point being that from all eternity the Son and Spirit freely act in obedience to the Father as Son and Spirit of the Father. This is the outworking of the single divine will. Is this speculative? Of course! But I think it’s a speculation that accords with divine revelation.

The thing that concerned me about the recent Christ the Center podcast wasn’t so much the pactum salutis as it was the stressing of distinct wills (and consciousnesses) within the Trinity. They were sure to maintain that these were personal wills (and consciousnesses) and that there was only one divine will but I still struggled to see how this doesn’t devolve into some form of social trinitarianism. Likewise, does the incarnate Son then have three wills? A divine will, an eternal personal will, and an incarnate human will? That seems to be the logical conclusion from the insistence on a single divine will and three personal wills within the Trinity (although admittedly Camden Busey says he believes the Son to have “one human will according to his human nature and one triune will according to his divine nature”).

So anyway, these are just some random thoughts on the debate. I recently read an older review of Kevin Giles’ book on eternal generation that mentions me and my review of the same book. After some link following I saw that the author, James Cassidey, had referred to me as a non-Arian subordinationist. I’ve been called worse, but I think it important to note that I view myself as someone who prefers to constrain his speculation as much as possible to what the biblical text says about God. Of course I do go beyond it but I try to do so in a way that doesn’t end up saying the opposite of what has been revealed.

And for those interested, here are some links to reviews I’ve done of books related to this issue:

The Eternal Generation of the Son: Maintaining Orthodoxy in Trinitarian Theology

Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, & Relevance

Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity

The Trinity & Subordinationism: The Doctrine of God & the Contemporary Gender Debate

Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism?: Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology

Who’s Tampering with the Trinity?: An Assessment of the Subordination Debate

Women, Men, and the Trinity: What Does It Mean to Be Equal?

As well as my running commentary on the back and forth between Michael Bird/Robert Shillaker and Keving Giles.