Thursday, February 23, 2006

Notes and Links

* In Pseudohistory and Pseudoscience (PDF) Douglas Allchin discusses the use and misuse of history of science in science education. There's a fairly good discussion of Harvey. (HT: prosthesis)

* GetReligion has a good discussion of how much of the so-called 'clash of civilizations' is really a clash between two ideals, among Muslims, of Islamic civilization.

* Alan Rhoda has a good post at "Prosblogion" discussing four different types of open theism. The genuinely traditional'classical theist', of course, would want to know what, precisely, we mean when we say, "God knows p at time T", since he will deny that "at time T" can legitimately qualify God's knowing, because divine knowledge does not, in itself and directly, admit of temporal measurement (what God knows, of course, can admit of such measurement, and the classical theist will allow "at time T" to qualify that; likewise, those to whom God reveals can admit of such measurement, so the classical theist will allow "at time T" to qualify that).

* "verbum ipsum" has an interesting post on Protestant Mariology. Mariology, of course, is Christology by way of Mary. As John Damascene said of the most important of all Marian doctrines, "The name of the Theotokos expresses the whole mystery of God's saving dispensation." And Mary is intimately bound up, liturgically and doctrinally, in a number of Christian Feasts: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation, and the Crucifixion. Something that is often forgotten is that Acts strongly implies that she was at Pentecost (1:13-14, 2:1). Of all the people in the New Testament, the ones we have most faith-related information about, and thus that are most important for the formation of our lives of faith, are Jesus, Paul, and Mary. So it's good to see that, despite the obvious cautions, Protestants are taking an interest in the prophethood (to use the closest term available) of Mary; failure to do so inevitably impoverishes our discourse about Christ.

* Speaking of which, it is interesting to read Calvin's commentary on the Magnificat:

Now follows a remarkable and interesting song of the holy virgin, which plainly shows how eminent were her attainments in the grace of the Spirit. There are three clauses in this song. First, Mary offers solemn thanksgiving for that mercy of God which she had experienced in her own person. Next, she celebrates in general terms God’s power and judgments. Lastly, she applies these to the matter in hand, treating of the redemption formerly promised, and now granted to the church....Sadness and anxiety lock up the soul, and restrain the tongue from celebrating the goodness of God. When the soul of Mary exults with joy, the heart breaks out in praising God. It is with great propriety, in speaking of the joy of her heart, that she gives to God the appellation of Savior Till God has been recognised as a Savior, the minds of men are not free to indulge in true and full joy, but will remain in doubt and anxiety. It is God’s fatherly kindness alone, and the salvation flowing from it, that fill the soul with joy. In a word, the first thing necessary for believers is, to be able to rejoice that they have their salvation in God....Now observe, that Mary makes her happiness to consist in nothing else, but in what she acknowledges to have been bestowed upon her by God, and mentions as the gift of his grace....Thus, when Mary says, that it is God who casteth down nobles from their thrones, and exalteth mean persons, she teaches us, that the world does not move and revolve by a blind impulse of Fortune, but that all the revolutions observed in it are brought about by the Providence of God, and that those judgments, which appear to us to disturb and overthrow the entire framework of soclety, are regulated by God with unerring justice.

Calvin is particularly interesting in that he puts forward a Mariological argument against Catholic Mariology. His argument is that Catholics fail to take Mary sufficiently seriously as a teacher, and (in effect) argues for a Reformed approach to Mary that does take her seriously as a teacher of divine things. It's an interesting argument; you can find it by following the above link and reading Calvin's whole discussion of the Magnificat. I recommend it to Catholic and Protestant alike as giving a more serious and constructive argument on the subject than is usually aired.

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