:::___--_-_-_-__T h e o • p h i l o g u e

::::__--__--_--_--___T h e o • p h i l o g u e

In case you missed it, I've switched to wordpress.
I am currently blogging at  T h e o • p h i l o g u e (theophilogue.wordpress.com)

It's obvious that I'm not really posting much here.  I'm not really sure I want to keep this blog.  Still debating it in my mind.

::::__--__--_--_--___T h e o • p h i l o g u e

Labels: , , ,


Aaron Speaks Up

Just Kidding!!  :)  :)   LoL!!!

Did I Scare You??!?!  Hope so ... 




Another Test Question: Analyzing an Argument

Here is another practice GRE question on Analytical Writing, and my answer follows.  How do you think I did?  

Six months ago the region of Forestville increased the speed limit for vehicles traveling on the region's highways by ten miles per hour.  Since that change took effect, the number of automobile accidents in that region has increased by 15 percent.  But the speed limit in Elmsford, a region neighboring Forestville, remained unchanged, and automobile accidents declined slightly during the same six-month period.  Therefore, if the citizens of Forestville want to reduce the number of automobile accidents on the region's highways, they should campaign to reduce Forestville's speed limit to what it was before the increase. 

Although prima facie, this looks like a reasonable argument, the evidence given in this argument is insufficient to warrant the conclusion.  There are too many unknown factors that may be relevant to weakening the argument.  The argument must assume there are not possible alternative plausible explanations of the data that may lead to identifying a different cause for the increase in automobile accidents.  For example, the evidence does not contain information about whether or not the accidents are taking place in parking lots and backroads or on the actual highways where the speed limit was changed.  What if the 6-month period is during the winter and all the increase in accidents could be traced to a few hot spot areas on steep backroads in Forestville, and Elmsford does not have comparable steep backroads?  What if the amount of accidents increases by 15 percent during the winter in Forestville every year, not just the year in which the speed limit was increased by 10 miles on the highways?  What if the speed limit in Forestville was changed because of an increase in traffic, which increase in traffic might also account for the increase in accidents for the same reasons that crime activity goes up in proportion to the increase in human population?  The argument could be strengthened by ruling out these possible alternatives through demonstrating that this 6-month increase in accidents does not occur every year, and that the backroads and parking lots have not been the key areas where the accidents have occurred.         

A GRE Practice Test Question on Analytical Writing: GRADE ME

Grade me.

Here was the statement I was asked to agree with, qualify, or disagree with, and my response follows.  

"Both the development of technological tools and the uses to which humanity has put them have created modern civilizations in which loneliness is ever increasing." 

The claim in question would be very difficult to demonstrate unless the methods for testing and measuring the extent and intensity of depression were very similar today as they were in the pre-modern periods.  Even then we would need considerable access to the results of such testing from population samples that covered the majority of the human population.  Such research has never been done.  Furthermore, methods used to measure social phenomenon are extremely vulnerable to various weaknesses.  For example, are depressed people going to know they are depressed, claim to be so in a survey, be honest with themselves when asked about their experience, or actively seek a doctor?  Are those who do become diagnosed based on their own testimony of experiencing symptoms telling the truth?   Such methods would also need to show, for example, that when the same tools are used in different ways they do not tend to cause the same level of melancholy risk, otherwise the particular uses per se could not be identified as the cause of such melancholy.  Between the weakness of the logic of statistics and the scope of the subject of research itself, it is difficult to tell whether the claim is even verifiable. 


Perhaps a more modest claim would be easier to agree with.  For example, it would be easier to justify a claim that certain technological tools are used in such a way that they appear to have a causal role, among other causes, in the complex processes that contribute to symptoms associated with depression.  Video games, for example, may be shown to appear to play a causal role when a particular teenager uses them in such a way that keeps him from the personal interaction that would otherwise occur.      




NEW BLOG: T h e o • p h i l o g u e

I have a new blog @ theophilogue.wordpress.com  

T h e o • p h i l o g u e
 is a venue for open theological and philosophical dialogue.  Everything is theological and philosophical in some way.  Therefore, no topics are off limits.

I'm going to keep this blog too, but I haven't exactly figured out what I want to use it for.


Tag .... you're it!

The following questions come from Said at Southern.  I got tagged.

  • What are you reading on Spring reading days?: 1) Alister E. McGrath, The Making of Modern German Christology 1750-1990, 2) Gerald Hiestand, Raising Purity: Nurturing the image of God in the Heart of your Child, 3) Matthew Elliot, Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart, 4) Mark C. Mattes, The Role of Justification in Contemporary Theology
  • What do you wish you had time to read?  1) Bruce L. McCormack, ed., Justification in Perspective: Historical Developments and Contemporary Challenges, 2) .David E. Aune, ed. Rereading Paul Together: Protestant and Catholic Perspectives on Justification.
  • What have you decided NOT to read that you were assigned to read.  Nothing. 
  • What is one great quote from your reading?  "The phrase eternal life is as much about life as it is about eternity." - Matthew Elliot 
  • Why are you blogging? (You’re supposed to be reading!)  Because the blogosphere is where I spend most of my study break time (lately anyway).

  • Labels:


    When Experience Intersects Academic Theology, Karl Barth

    Here is a quotation from Karl Barth, as he reflected on the reason why he abandoned liberal theology.  

    For me personally, one day in the beginning of August of that year [1914] stands out as a black day, on which ninety-three German intellectuals, among whom I was horrified to discover almost all of my hitherto revered theological teachers, published a profession of support for the war  policy of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his counsellors.  Amazed by their attitude, I realised [sic] that I could no longer follow their ethics and dogmatics, or their understandings of the Bible and history, and that the theology of the nineteenth century no longer had any future for me.

    Karl Barth, Evangelische Theologie im 19.  Jahrhundert (Zurich: Zollikon, 1957), 6.   

    Labels: , , ,

    Great Scott! Catching up on things EmergenT

    Many will be reading Scott McKnight's new article in the latest edition of Christianity Today.  Here's some background info on McKnight. 

    Scott McKnight is a redactional criticism expert who somehow got involved in the discussions over the emerging movement, and soon after considered himself "emerging."  Actually ... it began like this ... 

    After he started writing about the emerging church on his blog Jesus Creed, his readership hits went through the roof, and his students (he teaches at North Park University in Chicago) became more interested in reading his writings.  He realized that most people were not really that interested in his technical writings on redaction, but whenever he wrote about the Emerging Church, everyone listened, and he could hardly keep up with the comments on his blog (one of the most well read blogs in the entire blogospheric galactic spectrum).
    This led to number of conversations between him and emerging leaders.  Now that he's intimately familiar with the emerging movement, he considers himself emerging (yes ... I know about the recent "abandonment" of the term) and by Doug Pagitt's categories would be considered emergenT (that T is important ... you'll see why if you keep reading).  Not that I've heard Pagitt call McKnight emergenT, but because Pagitt and other emergenT leaders insist that emergenT is not defined by its theology, but rather, is simply a network of friends in conversation (deconstructive conservation mostly). 

    HOWEVER ... Scott McKnight, although an emerging leader who has tried his hardest to be sympathetic with the concerns of emergenT leaders across the board (even emergent village etc.)--we will see more of this in his upcoming book The Blue Parakeet--has not sympathized with the most controversial aspects of the emergenT movement.  

    His recent article, "McLaren Emerging," does several predictable things.  Here are a few ... 

    1) He reminds us of the distinctions between emerging (a broad movement of mostly evangelicals) and emergent (a smaller movement of the emerging movement that leans in a post-evangelical direction).

    2) McKnight depicts Brian McLaren, perhaps the most influential emergenT leader, as having become disillusioned with the "gospel" he was taught growing up in an ultra-conservative church, and sensing a great tension between the "global" message of Jesus about the "kingdom," and the "individualistic" message about "salvation," that he grew up with.  McLaren thinks the church's message is different from the kingdom proclamation of Jesus.  The message of Jesus was peace, reconciliation, and love--"not just with God and not just in the heart, but both and more: the peace Jesus envisions is global. ... through him, God was launching a new world order, a new world, a new creation."  Sounds a lot like N.T. Wright's fresh emphasis on the new creation theme.  Nothing too crazy here.  

    3) More specifically, McKnight tells us that McLaren questions the evangelical theology of the cross.  McLaren does not believe that the Father was "venting" his wrath on the Son so that believers could have salvation (i.e. penal substitution).  Rather, the central message of the cross is the repudiation of violence.

    4) McKnight addresses some questions to McLaren in a kind, but challenging, way.  They are predictable questions such as ... 

    a) "What role does the Cross play in the emergent kingdom vision"?  He follows this up with statement like, "The most stable location for the earliest understanding of the Cross, from Jesus all the way through the New Testament writings, is the Last Supper--and not a word is said there about violence and systemic injustice.  Other words are given to explain the event: covenant, forgiveness of sins, and blood 'poured out for many.'  Insight into the Cross must start here."  Great [point] Scott.   

    b) "What is the relationship of kingdom to church?"  He follows this up with statements like, "According to the Newt Testament, the kingdom vision of Jesus is, it seems, only implemented through the church."  

    He closes by saying, "All in All, I am hoping that McLaren's works will lead to a massive conversation on the meaning of one word: gospel," and by quoting Mary's Magnificat from Luke as evidence that "Luke tells of a gospel far greater than most of us are hearing today." 

    Thus ... he is sympathetic with the deconstruction of emergent leaders, agreeing that the church may have missed the full significance of the message of the gospel of the kingdom, yet skeptical of the reconstruction taking place with respect to theories of atonement and ecclesiology.   

    Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

    Boom in Moscow