New Year’s Resolution

I normally don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Like the rest of humanity, I make a resolution on January 1st. I follow it to a maximum of January 4th, and then I never do anything else with it. I got tired of it, so one year I made the New Year’s Resolution not to make anymore New Year’s Resolutions. And that one I’ve actually kept.

Until this year.

I went to the hospital today with severe back trouble. I was diagnosed with a pre-kidney stone situation. Before kidney stones form, some crystals develop in the kidneys. These crystals are quite painful, though nothing compared to an actual stone. I have the crystals, and I need to drink more water to prevent the stones from forming. So my first New Year’s Resolution–a virtual no-brainer–is to drink more water.

My second New Year’s Resolution is to read the Bible everyday. I confess that, at least in the regard of daily Scripture reading, I’m a poor apologist. And a hypocrite, since I always recommend to seekers or Christians on the brink of failure to read more Scripture, and to mediate on it and pray every day. I don’t come anywhere close to reading the Bible everyday. I barely read it all.

This New Year, though–God willing–that will all change for the better. I’ve downloaded a plan for reading the Bible in a year from the official website of the ESV (which regular readers of the blog well know that is my personal favorite translation).

I wanted a plan that would include the Psalms and Proverbs in a daily reading, as well as simultaneous reading of the Old and New Testaments. I’ve heard it recommended that one should read the OT and the NT parallel to each other so that you can more easily catch the significance of Christ’s story in relation to the history of Israel. I’ve also heard it recommended that a person rotate reading Psalms and Proverbs monthly, since there is much wisdom in both books to soak up.

So, I settled on this plan. There’s a daily reading from the OT, the NT, a Psalm, and a few Proverbs. This way, I can spot the parallels from OT to NT, and I can bask in the character of God described in the Psalms while learning the simple wisdom of God in Proverbs. Now I just need to stick to it!

I further figured that I’d spot an occasional oddity with Scripture and that would generate a blog post at JCM. And I was right–day one found this interesting tidbit.

A third resolution, related to the second one, is to do more Bible study alongside my wife. It’s one thing to read the Bible and meditate on its message in isolation, but the Bible is pretty clear that isn’t how we should really do things:

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet 1:19-21)

So, Scripture reading is important, but private interpretation isn’t kosher. Hence, we have the church. But before the church is the family.

I love talking to my wife about matters of faith. She’s an Arminian and I’m a Calvinist, but the contrasting readings of verses are profitable for both of us. If we both agreed on every single Scripture reading, the give-and-take dynamic would be lost and neither of would learn anything. We’d just be confirming what we already know. That’s no fun.

So the first book we’re going to go through is The Love Dare. That should be very interesting. I understand that book resurrected dying marriages. Ours is far from dying; it is strong and vibrant. I love her more than words can express. But growing closer to her can’t be a bad thing; and therefore I embrace the challenge of The Love Dare wholeheartedly and I pray that it strengthens our marriage.

Revising Opinions of People

Sometimes, first impressions are not always right. I did something that I usually don’t do in regard to people in the course of writing this blog: I let the opinions of others unduly influence my opinion of another blogger. I generally ignore what other people say about a person I’ve just met and form my own opinion. But I never did that with a particular individual that I’ve had the fortune (or misfortune?) of encountering in the past.

The individual of which I speak is Dave Armstrong. I have said of Dave:

Words in English are precise, and are chosen to convey something specific. No convergence was ever meant or implied between the words “vicar” and “disciple.” Dave needs to head to the book store and get himself a copy of On Writing Well by William Zinsser and carefully read the chapters on Simplicity, Clutter, and Words before he constructs his next “paper.” (source)

This pretty much summed up the position I held about Dave. I thought (and still do, in some respects) that his blog posts are unnecessarily long. Conventional wisdom says that a blog post should run 200 to 500 words. After that, your audience tends to lose interest.

However, I’m not one to talk. My posts can reach 1100 words or better on a regular basis. I think that when a person blogs about philosophy or theology, it requires more words than the average blogger since the average reader isn’t as studied in the background of such posts. Therefore, the blogger has to lay the groundwork for why he (or she) thinks what he (or she) does.

That said, I’ve recently started to take a liking to many of Dave’s recent posts. He disagreed with an atheist on YouTube (beginning of series) and constructed a post about the top 10 atheist arguments. He also has a project in the works about Christianity and modern science, trying to explode the atheistic myths that Christianity had nothing to do with the rise of science. More recently, he commented on Anne Rice’s deconversion from Christianity. In that post, Dave said something that I agree with in spirit, though being a Protestant I would understand “Christian authority” differently than Dave:

There are serious lessons to be learned here: along the lines of having an informed, reasonable faith (complete with apologetic knowledge as necessary), and of yielding up our private judgment and personal inclinations to a God and a Church much higher than ourselves. Faith comes ultimately by God’s grace and His grace alone: not our own semi-understandings. Christianity is not “blind faith”; it is a reasonable faith. But there is such a thing as allegiance and obedience to Christian authority, too.

This is rather similar to my expressed sentiments here. I state emphatically that I don’t question Rice’s salvation, for that (as Dave aptly expresses) is a gift from God resting solely on faith in Christ. Rice still expresses faith in Christ; she just refuses to be bound by some of the strictures of doctrine (e.g. being against homosexuality, birth control, feminism, and Democrats). What I question is Anne Rice’s sanctification: whether she has submitted to the authority of God expressed in Scripture. That is something that she must wrestle with, and I pray that God can show her the error of her ways.

In sum, my opinion of Dave has changed drastically. Dave is a capable writer and meticulous researcher. I was very wrong in my initial impressions of him, and for that I apologize.