Writing Down and Interpreting My Totally Not Weird and Ambiguous Dreams in the Charismatic Way

The pastor of my church told a story in a sermon recently of a woman who dove headfirst into charismatic practices because she was dissatisfied with her own spiritual walk.  She began to go to conference after conference detailing how to speak in tongues, heal, and interpret prophetic dreams.  She apparently started to have pride over her purported gifts and to look down upon others who were not so enlightened, including her own husband.  One of her practices was to keep a journal next to her bed such that when she had a dream, she could quickly write it down when she woke up in order to interpret what majestic message God was undoubtedly sending in her sleep.

My reaction was this: What’s wrong with having pride about this?  Sounds like fun!  I’ve always wanted to interpret my dreams, especially since I am pretty sure I am more special than any of you.

I had a dream last night.  Allow me to describe it and then interpret it for you:

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Summary of My First ETS Annual Conference

Last week I drove to San Antonio to attend the annual national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.  It’s the first time I’ve been to a national meeting; the other time I went to an ETS conference, it was a regional one.  I initially wasn’t going to go, but my professors encouraged me to make the trip in order to meet people and listen to contemporary evangelical scholarship.  I came back early from it in order to teach class on Thursday and Friday for my professor, so I was only there Tuesday and Wednesday, but it was nonetheless a great experience of learning.

For those who don’t know what it is, ETS is an academic society for evangelical scholars.  It has its own journal and has regional and national meetings where scholars present their research in a short session and are then questioned and critiqued by their colleagues in the room.  The topics are very wide ranging: There are papers presented about philosophy, systematic theology, hermeneutics, Greek verbs, history, social issues, pastoral issues, Asian-American theology, etc.  Pretty much any topic under the sun remotely connected to theology.  Even within a particular subject like philosophy, there can be topics as diverse as discussing Berkleyan idealism to leveraging superhero movies to discuss biblical morals (yeah… I’m not kidding).  The bad part is that there are literally dozens of sessions one can choose from, so it was sometimes hard to make a choice; still, at least there was always a lot of options.

To prevent this from being too long, I’ll just stick to talking about some of the presentations I went to that were more notable.  There are several sessions that I simply have a hard time remembering well or didn’t get too much out of, so I won’t talk much about them.  Hopefully, this will still be a decent picture of what I got to listen to.  For the most part, I stuck to philosophy presentations, though I made a point to go to a few others that were of other disciplines.

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Reading the Bible Theologically Does Not Mean Being Married to Your System

Last week, I went to the annual ETS meeting, which was held in San Antonio this year.  I will get around to writing a summary post about it, but for now I’d like to focus on one particular session that was interesting but that ultimately made a failed argument, in my estimation.

Matthew Barrett, a Reformed theologian, gave a presentation titled, “Should We Read the Bible Theologically?  Debating Whether Dogma Should Inform Hermeneutics.”  He argued that, contrary to many biblical theologians who decry allowing prior theological commitments to guide the interpretation of a text, Christians should read Scripture theologically.  Barrett presented well and he is very intelligent, and I appreciated his clear speech.  On the face of it, I agreed with his general point.  However, for him, “reading theologically” means having a full blown system in mind, and while that may not be always wrong in itself, he gave very little instruction on how to evaluate any system because he conflated issues and gave a murky methodology.

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Trade-offs: The Complicated “Economics” of Political Decision-Making

I know I hinted that I was done with the election and politics, and believe me, I want to be.  Those who know me know that I would rather spend time writing about football, basketball, philosophy, theology, or even pop culture (typically in a satirical way), but I feel like something else was important to address more fully: The oversimplified and uncharitable way people are treating their political opponents.  This isn’t exactly new, but the amount of emotional accusations, hasty generalizations, and melodrama is really getting out of control.  Those on the left are particularly angry right now and use rhetoric like these:

“If you voted for Trump, you just said that I don’t matter.” (where “I” is identified with some class of people that is allegedly oppressed.)

“A vote for Trump means that you’re for normalizing all of his offensive speech.”

“Hate won tonight.”

So on and so forth, all the same silly accusations that I already said many on the left would resort to.  In fairness, victorious Trump supporters have said things that can paraphrased like:

“Voting for Hillary means you just wanted more political corruption.”

“If you voted for Hillary, you’re a baby murderer.”

“Remember, Hillary tried to cover for Bill’s womanizing, so if you voted for Hillary, YOU are the one who hates women.”

I get it; demonizing your opponents makes it easier to rev yourself up to oppose them, and it’s often a good way to make yourself feel better.  However, such rage is ultimately immature and unhelpful and solves nothing.  What it ends up doing is simply poisoning the well of dialogue.

Look, I’m the last person who thinks that it’s bad for people to be blunt, snarky, sarcastic, or firm.  Those are fair game, and I put little value on hurt feelings on their own because hurt feelings are normally a pretty useless way to arrive at truth.  Still, there’s a difference between being blunt or sharply critical and caricaturing the other side in order to score cheap emotional points.  The problem with a lot of this rhetoric is that it does not seem to take into account the fact that political decisions are often fraught with trade-offs for each voter, and this was especially true of this election because both candidates were so disliked and so polarizing.

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Scattershooting Thoughts on the Election

Yeah, that just happened.  I expected a tighter race than much of the media predicted, but I still thought Hillary was going to win.  I just did not think that Trump would be able to win all the swing states he needed, much less pierce the so-called “firewall” of blue states.  Well, next thing I knew, Trump had won North Carolina and Ohio while leading in Florida.  At around 11 p.m., it became abundantly clear who our next president was going to be, though I still stuck around till the wee hours of the night to see the final confirmation.  Like many others, I grossly underestimated the grassroots support that Trump inspired and the level of shrewd political planning his team enacted.

And so Donald Trump is going to be our 45th president.  I never in a million years thought we would reach this point when he first announced his candidacy, but he beat every traditional politician doing things his own unorthodox and frankly ridiculous way.

There are a ton of articles out there analyzing the election, but I’m going to jot down some thoughts about the election which may or may not be connected to one another:

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There Will Be a New President, But Also the Same Lord

Much ink has been spilled during this election season about the two major candidates, and now we’re finally here: Today, the United States will have a new president.  It will either be Hillary Clinton, someone many Christians distrust due to her apparent dishonesty, political shadiness regarding emails and the Clinton Foundation, and her strong support for virtually unlimited abortion, or it will be Donald Trump, someone who embarrasses conservatives with his bluster, nonsense remarks, ignorance of many issues, and insecure pride.  Isn’t that exciting.

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