Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Vote?

There is another vision for how to lead a country. There is a kind of greatness that is possible among fallen men who know the weight of the world and how fragile humanity is. There is a seriousness that mingles humility and strength. There is a greatness that combines complexity and decisiveness. There is a moral bearing that embraces the limitations of fallibility without abdicating the responsibility of life-and-death decisions. There is a public submission to the Creator and Governor of the universe that produces a pervasive and public spirit that no mere man has the last word.

There is a statesmanship that expresses deep and humble hope that one may, under God, be of great use to one’s country. And this earnest hope, and readiness to lay down one’s life to pursue it, would inspire more confidence than the groundless assertions that the future will be as one says it will be. The promise of fallible sacrifice in the pursuit of a (merely) possible dream is more noble than the self-confident assertions of fallible fortune tellers. There is a diffidence in the face of the magnitude of leadership that signifies wisdom not weakness. In other words, there is another way for statesmen to think and to speak than we are hearing in these days.

If you would like to hear a taste of what I mean, listen to this excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address from Saturday, March 4, 1865. The horrific war had dragged on longer than anyone dreamed or feared. Compare the demeanor of Lincoln with the self-assured demeanor of either of our presidential candidates.

Continue reading

From desiringgod.org

Why Isn't Romans Relevant?

Mark Vance and I are faced with the challenge of teaching through Romans for our next cycle of adult modules. On the surface of it the challenge is to first understand the book ourselves. We tackle questions like to what extent is Paul talking about Jew/Gentile relationships in the first eleven chapters or how does Paul use the term "law" in chapters six, seven, and eight (or the whole book). So it's clearly important to understand the book before we teach it. But more important in my opinion is how we can help people to care about it. I found myself really riveted by reading through Romans today and reading Mark Dever's summary of it. But who else is riveted by it? Dever tells a story about a friend of his who had questions about God who read through Romans with him with great interest. But how many of our church people will have great interest? It doesn't help us with our marriage does it? Can it help me raise my kids or balance my checkbook? Will it get me that perfect sexual relationship I crave? In other words, why isn't Romans more relevant?

I think the answer is, Romans is relevant to me because I think it answers my problems. It sets to right my relationship with God. Except I fear I don't worship the same God as the vast majority of America. America worships the gods of sex, money, fame, relationships, etc. We would care more about Romans if we cared more about God. And don't get me wrong I'm sure I have academic interests in the book which vie for my worship; so I'm not innocent of illicit worship myself. But I do think Romans becomes more interesting only after we all catch a glimpse of the fact that worship of God was what we were designed for and brings ultimate joy to ourselves and glory to God. And when it's glory and joy we seek, Romans becomes very relevant!

(Romans 11:33-36)
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

Saturday, December 22, 2007

At Christmas

What overwhelms me about the birth of Christ is the strange mixture of emotion. One one hand it's as if the tiny child is the first glimmer of a dawning star which is the glory of God shown marvelous in Christ's humility. On one hand the angels rejoice as they see God's power and wisdom at its greatest triumph. Yet, strangely as our eyes would shine to see new life and glorious wisdom they instead well up with tears. For we know those soft grasping hands will ultimately take a nail, his precious tender brow will at his last earthly breath be ripped and torn. So with the angels we lift our voices, yet with tears streaming, to praise with our pride laid low.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests!"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Continuous Worship: Idolatry

I've been trying to finish this for a few days. But I thought I'd just come out and post it (so you're warned I've only been 3/4 of the way through it). But what I've heard so far, it is very good. His point is, worship is not a peripheral issue, it is the issue. Failure to keep God's moral commands are symptoms of a worship problem. I think it's worth everyone's time to download and listen to this.
Click to Listen

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fiction Recommendation: Brave New World


Neil Postman was right, and Huxley is more interesting. This book is very very good.

The idea Huxley presents is a totalitarian government who rules by maintaining their highest priority, to make everyone "happy." They do this through genetic engineering, conditioning, sexual freedom, and diversion. The thing I think the book illustrates so well is how easy it is to see that American culture is slavishly dominated by triviality. It's also easy to see how the troubles and difficulties of living as a Christian witness can attain a far greater joy. I would recommend the book.

Monday, December 10, 2007

C.S. Lewis on the Condecension of God in Revelation

"The same divine humility which decreed that God should become a baby at a peasant woman's breat, and later an arrested field preacher in the hands of the Roman police, decreed also that he should be preached [and, we may add, written about] in a vulgar, prosaic and unliterary language."

C.S. Lewis

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Warfield on Inerrancy

"This is a rather serious arraignment of the common sense of the whole series of preceding generations. What! Are we to believe that no man until our wonderful nineteenth century, ever had acumen enough to detect a printer's error or to realize the liability of hand-copied manuscripts to occasional corruption? Are we really to believe that the happy possessors of 'the Wicked Bible' held 'thou shalt commit adultery' to be divinely 'inerrant' as the genuine text of the seventh commandment--on the ground that the 'inerrancy of the original autographs of the Holy Scriptures' must not be asserted 'as distinguished from the Holy Scriptures which we now possess'? ... Of course, every man of common sense from the beginning of the world has recognized the difference between the genuine text and the errors of transmission, and has attached his confidence to the former in rejection of the latter."

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Living Nativity

These are Matt's nieces and nephews: Ella, Zeke, Kaisa, Tad

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"Invictus": Unconquerable

(ht: Desiring God)

"Invictus" by William Henley (who lived under the shadow of Nietzsche), the only thing left behind by Timothy McVeigh after his execution.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


If McVeigh, Henley, and Nietzsche had only known the beauty in being ruled by he who is worthy to rule. "Conquered" by Dorothea Day:

Out of the light that dazzles me,

Bright as the sun from pole to pole,

I thank the God I know to be,

For Christ - the Conqueror of my soul.

Since His the sway of circumstance,

I would not wince nor cry aloud.

Under the rule which men call chance,

My head, with joy, is humbly bowed.

Beyond this place of sin and tears,

That Life with Him and His the Aid,

That, spite the menace of the years,

Keeps, and will keep me unafraid.

I have no fear though straight the gate:

He cleared from punishment the scroll.

Christ is the Master of my fate!

Christ is the Captain of my soul!

Five Points on Criticism

These are really good. Go to the LINK and read the descriptions.

1. Directly, not indirectly
2. Seriously, not humorously
3. As if it's important, not casually
4. Privately, not publically
5. Out of love for them, not to express a feeling of frustration

A little taste:
1. Directly, not indirectly. If you're anything like me, you might have a temptation to imply something, to presume something, to do anything to avoid a direct confrontation. Be very careful, however, before adopting this pattern, especially in criticism. If you're not careful, you'll have people regularly looking at your words and asking themselves what you "really mean."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

When Satan Hurts Christ's People

When huge pain comes into your life—like divorce, or the loss of a precious family member, or the dream of wholeness shattered—it is good to have a few things settled with God ahead of time. The reason for this is not because it makes grieving easy, but because it gives focus and boundaries for the pain.

Being confident in God does not make the pain less deep, but less broad. If some things are settled with God, there are boundaries around the field of pain.

Link to the article

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Our gold-star world

It's easy to see why defeatism and depression reign supreme. Every day the headlines announce how far behind we've fallen. Preschoolers in South Korea can recite the square root of pi to the 300th place. Chinese kids know the periodic tables even before the umbilical cord is cut. A half-naked Sri Lankan child just built the first fully functioning perpetual motion machine. The fact that his school has no electricity, desks, or even a roof drives home that infrastructure investments aren't the answer. Even if we repaired every leaky schoolhouse roof in the country — the central plank in the Democrats' education program — it's doubtful our first-graders would be able to discuss quantum physics the way Japanese tykes can.

But why be pessimistic when we can just pretend that America's can-do spirit will overcome all?

This was the brilliant insight of America's educational industrial complex, which has worked tirelessly to make our kids think the most of themselves regardless of their accomplishments.

Link

Monday, December 03, 2007

Money Well Spent

Admittedly, there are portions I struggle with. But what's refreshing about Piper is that how his doxalogical center works out with regard to sanctification. This is worth your money, and a steal right now. $5

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007

NO WRTN

Amy's Blog:
My daughter is just starting to put letters together to make words. Recently she wrote "SRE" (sorry) on a piece of paper. She also spelled her friend Kaden's name "KADN" without any help at all. I was impressed until I found "NO WRTN" (no writing) written on the wall in the living room.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Greek Challenge

Ok, here's the deal. I am giving out a $15 Amazon.com gift certificate (raised the stakes) to the person who scores highest on this quiz. (EDIT***) The only ONE stipulations are (1) I have to know you personally (if I don't know you, email me, and unless you're Daniel Wallace you'll be eligible, enipal1@gmail.com) Post your answers 1-40 below in the comments. Good luck!

Quiz

Tears at Thanksgiving

This is worth reading. I feel I can relate a little better to this than I used to be able to.
Every holiday is a time of balancing all the family pushes and pulls for a child of divorce. No matter what uneasy solution a child arrives at, it does not satisfy everyone, and the child herself is ultimately blamed for causing unhappiness. In this case, ongoing pressure is placed on Heather to warmly embrace the woman who willingly displaced Mom when Dad decided to trade her in for a newer model several years ago. Mom was left bitter and potentially destitute—without even medical insurance; certainly no current skills with which to provide for herself.

Click to read

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Golden Compass

In various interviews with Philip Pullman, author of "The Golden Compass," "The Subtle Knife," and "The Amber Spyglass," he describes his books as essentially the anti-Narnia books.

Pullman, who hails from Oxford, is an agnostic who, in 1995, began a trilogy of books called the "His Dark Materials" books. If any of this sounds familiar, it should. His first book is a new movie starring Nicole Kidman, and it comes out December 7th.

Plugged In Online has an excellent article concerning the new movie. Absolutely, it needs to be read. Here are a few excerpts.

"I hate the Narnia books, and I hate them with a deep and bitter passion," he told one interviewer, "with their view of childhood as a golden age from which sexuality and adulthood are a falling-away."

"I suppose technically, you'd have to put me down as an agnostic. But if there is a God, and he is as the Christians describe him, then he deserves to be put down and rebelled against. As you look back over the history of the Christian church, it's a record of terrible infamy and cruelty and persecution and tyranny. How they have the bloody nerve to go on Thought for the Day and tell us all to be good when, given the slightest chance, they'd be hanging the rest of us and flogging the homosexuals and persecuting the witches."

"There are churches there, believe me, that cut their children too, as the people of Bolvangar did—not in the same way, but just as horribly. They cut their sexual organs, yes, both boys and girls; they cut them with knives so that they shan't feel. That is what the church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling."

Pullman has said unambiguously, "My books are about killing God."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Nature of Justification

The Nature of Justification: A Comparison of the Reformed, Catholic, and New Perspective Views
I'm not totally satisfied with this, but it should give a primer to the issues.

Readings from "Creeds of the Churches"

I ran across this excerpt in the book "Creeds of the Churches" in the section on Protestant creeds, as part of "Certain Sermons or Homilies, Appointed to be read in churches in the time of the late Queen Elizabeth of famous memory."

It's by a guy by the name of Thomas Cranmer, who was Archbishop of Canterbury during Henry VIII and Edward VI. He's considered one of the founders of Anglican thought.

Anyway, enjoy this excerpt from his second sermon in the series, entitled, "The Second Part of the Sermon of the Knowledge of Holy Scripture."

"If we profess Christ, why be we not ashamed to be ignorant in his doctrine? seeing that every man is ashamed to be ignorant in that learning which he professeth. That man is ashamed to be called a philosopher which readeth not the books of philosophy, and to be called a lawyer, an astronomer, or a physicican, that is ignorant in the books of law, astronomy, and physic. How can any man then say that he professeth Christ and his religion, if he will not apply himself (as far forth as he can or may conveniently) to read and hear, and so to know the books of Christ's gospel and doctrine? Although other sciences be good, and to be learned, yet no man can deny but this is the chief, and passeth all other incomparably. What excuse shall we therefore make, at the last day before Christ, that delight to read or hear men's fantasies and inventions, more than his most holy Gospel? and will find no time to do that which chiefly, above all things, we should do, and will rather read other things than that, for the which we ought rather to leave reading of all other things. Let us therefore apply ourselves, as far forth as we can have time and leisure, to know God's word, by diligent hearing and reading thereof, as many as profess God, and have faith and trust in him. "

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith, Part 10

Link to Read
We believe justification and sanctification are both brought about by God through faith, but not in the same way. Justification is an act of God's imputing and reckoning; sanctification is an act of God's imparting and transforming. Thus the function of faith in regard to each is different. In regard to justification, faith is not the channel through which power or transformation flows to the soul of the believer, but rather faith is the occasion of God's forgiving, acquitting, and reckoning as righteous. But in regard to sanctification, faith is indeed the channel through which divine power and transformation flow to the soul; and the sanctifying work of God through faith does indeed touch the soul and change it into the likeness of Christ.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quotable: McGrath on the Reformers' Ecclesiology

“In many ways, however, the reformers’ views on the church represent their Achilles’ heel. The reformers were confronted with two consistent rival views of the church the logic of which they could not match – those of their opponents within the Catholic and Radical Reformations.”
...
“The Reformation can, at least in some respects, be seen as a replay of the Donatist controversy of the fourth century. Luther, it seemed, could only uphold Augustine’s doctrine of grace by rejecting Augustine’s doctrine of the church. ‘The Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine’s doctrine of grace over Augustine’s doctrine of the church.’ (Benjamin B. Warfield).”

McGrath, Historical Theology, pg. 200

Friday, November 16, 2007

Al Mohler, Jr. on Pragmatism

"The problem in evangelicalism as an "-ism" of which Southern Baptist are an example, sometimes an egregious example, is the threat of pragmatism. If it works we go for it. If it attracts people we throw ourselves into it. Often, if not always, genuinely for the cause of wanting to reach people with the gospel. The question is once we've reached them, is it with the gospel? I find myself in a place of wanting to be very careful and not take cheap shots because its very easy to say 'I don't have any pragmatic considerations.' But of course we do. I mean we have to have pragmatic considerations. After all we are meeting in a building. It is well lit, good acoustics. There are certain pragmatic issues to which we appropriately give attention. The question is, is it a pragmatic issue or means that distorts the gospel, that compromises Biblical truth? Obviously having a building and a sound system and lighting does not. But there are some evangelistic techniques, some programs, some understandings of what the church is all about that just doesn't have anything to do with the Scriptural understanding of the church or the Biblical gospel. I want to be real careful because I hear some people speak about how unpragmatic they are. When that really isn't the issue. You know we print nice periodicals. And we want them to be graphically appealing. That's a means. Even the periodical itself. We use the internet. There are pragmatic considerations. The question is, is it a matter of methodology that does not violate the gospel, but is consistent with the proclamation of the gospel? Or just something requires a compromise? And the pragmatism of which the brother speaks is often a pragmatism that just violates the gospel. It violates true worship. It violates authentic evangelism. It threatens to violate the gospel itself. Usually not by what it states, but what it fails to state or proclaim."

Al Mohler during a question an answer time following his address "Courage in Christian Ministry" at the Desiring God National Conference

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Luther on Being a Theologian

"Moreover, you will find how flat and idle the books of the fathers will seem to you, and you will not only look down upon the books of the adversaries but will also increasingly please yourself less by your own writing and teaching. After you have come to this point, confidently hope that you have begun to become a real theologian who may teach not only the young, imperfect Christians but also the progressing and mature ones;

"But if you feel proud and imagine that you have certainly mastered your field and are tickled at your own little book, your teaching and writing as though you had done very splendidly and preached excellently; if, moreover, you are greatly pleased that people praise you before others and you perhaps also want to be praised--otherwise you would grieve and quit, my friend--if you are of this sort, then take hold of your own ears, and if you grab aright, you will find a beautiful pair of great, long, hairy donkey's ears."

Martin Luther

"Beauty" in the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, part 6

Jean-Francois Lyotard defines postmodernism in terms of the sublime, as that which, 'in the modern, puts forward the unpresentable in presentation itself, that which denies itself the solace of good forms' (1984). Postmodernism presents what is unpresentable, excessive, regardless of order and perfection: the postmodern sublime. Yet, Lyotard understand politics as that unpresentable. Postmodern art and postmodern politics are intimately related in the name of the sublime, reevoking its relation to art. The role of the unpresentable in Lyotard is not to reinstate order and perfection but to interrupt the rule of form in the name of multiplicity and heterogeneity, to resist the tyranny of neutrality. The issues are ethical and political, an immeasurable responsibility to give form to what escapes form, to give voice to those who have been silenced, a responsibility frequently borne by art.

Postmodern beauty is Dionysian as well as Apollonian, detached fro the rule of genius, inseparable from rapture, terror, and disorder, linked with the sublime, all expressions of profusion and heterogeneity.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Beauty" in the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, part 5

George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel spoke of beauty as the Ideal, the Idea in its spirituality and universality given determinative form: the immediate unity of Concept immediately present in sensuous appearance (Hegel, 1974-1975). He understood beauty to be inseparable from truth and goodness, all of them related to the Ideal. But the Ideal as beauty requires sensuous appearance, whereas the Ideal as truth is realized in thought.

This distinction leads to one of Hegel's most remarkable claims, found in the Critique of Judgment but largely underdeveloped there, directly relevant to the history of ideas of art and beauty; for he claims that art no longer expresses the highest realization of Spirit, that Romantic art emphasized the subjectivity of Spirit, unbalancing the unity of the Ideal. A century later, Martin Heidegger powerfully expressed Hegel's thought as a question: 'Is art still an essential and necessary way in which that truth happens which is decisive for our historical existence, or is art no longer of this character?' (Heidegger, 1971). Is beauty still an expression of the highest ideals of human historical life? The answer suggested to many artists and philosophers today, after the development of modern art and philosophical aesthetics, is that it is not. Heidegger's own answers is that 'Beauty is one way in which truth occurs as unconcealedness' (ibid). He preserves the historical affinity of beauty with truth, though not with good. More to the point, Heidegger wonders whether a world shaped by modern technology--far from the ideality of Spirit--might make beauty no longer relevant. Such a possibility belongs to what Heidegger calls the forgetting of Being, under the pressure of the picture of the modern world shaped by instrumentality and measure, oblivious to both the endless possibilities in Being and the historicality of their realization.

Friedrich Nietzsche's famous response in The Birth of Tragedy to Hegel's claim concerning the end of art was that 'art represents the highest task and the truly metaphysical activity of this life' (1968). Nietzsche's insistence that Greek tragedy was originally both Apollonian and Dionysian associated the Apollonian with order, perfection, appearance, and light, the Dionysian with rapture, frenzy, intoxication, and terror, closer to the sublime. Tragedy requires both. By a certain symmetry, as Nietzsche later understood the Apollonian to include a frenzy for order, beauty may be understood to include rapture and frenzy, to include the excesses of the sublime. The distinction between Apollonian and Dionysian art, beauty and sublimity, can then be understood to collapse, bring beauty back to infinity as excess, beyond measure.

"Beauty" in the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, part 4

Hume spoke of a delicacy of taste as differing from person to person, together with judgments of beauty. The beauty lies not in the poem but in the sentiment or taste of the reader. 'Beatuy is no quality in things themselves. It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them' (Hume, 1987). What was novel was not that beauty is subjective, but that a new and powerful knowledge of the natural world was taken to be objective in contrast with the subjectivity of beauty and goodness. Hume understood science, ethics, and art all to be products of the laws of human nature.
...
Kant also distinguishes the beautiful from the sublime, describing beauty as formal order, proportion, and harmony, satisfied in taste, and sublimity as exceeding sense, measure, and order. What is great beyond sense can appear in works of art, giving delight. In relation to the sublime, Kant speaks of artistic genius, beyond rules; of a productive imagination, beyond mere reproduction; and of an imaginative freedom distinct from moral freedom. Yet, he subordinates genius to taste, the sublime to beauty. In Kant, beauty retains the marks of order, perfection, and form; the sublime retains the marks of what surpasses order, end, and form. Beauty, not the sublime, is the symbol of the good."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

re:Introducing Re:Greek (formerly known as zhubert.com)

Chernobyl, Hell on Earth

Click the picture to see the photo presentation.

"Everyone who helped on the clean up is now ill," says Tatiana, a senior doctor at the Dispensary for Radiological Protection at Rivne. "The situation is worsening. In 1985, we had four lymph cancers a year. Now we have seven times that many. We have between five and eight people a year with rare bone cancers, when we never had any. We expect more cancers, and ill health. One in three pregnancies here are malformed. We are overwhelmed."

A doctor in the local region's children's hospital says: "The children born to the people who cleaned up Chernobyl are dying very young. We are finding Caesium and Strontium in breast milk and the placenta. More children now have leukaemias, and there has been a quadrupling of spina bifida cases. There are more clusters of cancers. Children are being born with stunted growth and dwarf torsos, without thighs. I would expect more of this over the years."

Click to read the rest of this article

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Beauty" from the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics Part 3

Augustine (fifth century) and Boethius (sixth century) strong emphasized proportion, harmony, congruence, and consonance, especially in relation to music, which Boethius understood in Pythagorean terms to be regulated by number. Augustine understood beauty in Neoplatonic terms, after Plotinus, as regularity and simplicity, promoting a conflict in later writers between a beauty of quality and a beauty of quantity. For medieval writers, as for Augustine, light, color, radiance, brilliance, and clarity all were beautiful, testaments to the unity of God. Unity in multiplicity but also unity as such were regarded as beautiful.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Beauty" from the Encyclopedia of Aethetics Part 2

Plotinus (third century), perhaps with exaltation in mind, argued that beauty should not be identified with symmetry, harmony, and proportion alone, but is related to the Ideal, beyond sense. Simple things can be beautiful, not in the order of their parts but in the ideal that illuminates them. Beauty is the revelation of spirit in matter."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Quotes on "Beauty" from the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics: Part 1

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics: 4-volume Set (Hardcover)
by Michael Kelly (Editor)
Aristotle largely departed from the infinite, immeasurable, and supreme sense of beauty found in his predecessors, especially Plato, and restricted beauty to size, order, and proportion, to harmony and symmetry on the one hand, to function, aptness, use, fulfillment of a purpose on the other. He associated beauty predominantly with form, understood in terms of two related spheres of meaning: one related to figure, shape, appearance, and apprehension; the other related to function, excellence, and utility. More perhaps than any other distinction central to Aristotle's though is that beauty measured, always more or less. Things are more or less beautiful as they are more or less orderly, fulfill their formal purposes more perfectly, give more or less pleasure in their apprehension. Aristotle represents the dominant European tradition of ideas of beauty through the Renaissance, still present today in Thomist thought, linking beauty with order and with pleasure and its apprehension."

Google Chatting the Psalms

My wife and I have been reading through the Psalms the last couple weeks and chatting verses from them to each other as we go. I love Psalm 73 especially David's conclusion in vs. 17-25 (and on a side note, it shows that the final destination of the soul was on the radar for the old testament saint)
Psalm 73
BOOK III : Psalms 73-89
1A psalm of Asaph.
Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.

2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.

3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong. [a]

5 They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills.

6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.

7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity [b] ;
the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.

8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
in their arrogance they threaten oppression.

9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.

10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance. [c]

11 They say, "How can God know?
Does the Most High have knowledge?"

12 This is what the wicked are like—
always carefree, they increase in wealth.

13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.

14 All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.

15 If I had said, "I will speak thus,"
I would have betrayed your children.

16 When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me

17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.


18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.

19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!

20 As a dream when one awakes,
so when you arise, O Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.

21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,

22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.

24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.


26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

Touchstone: Evangelicalism Today

Read the Article.

Some quotes:
Moore: The definition has indeed changed over the past half-century. What would have been considered non-negotiable for Evangelical identity fifty years ago (the truthfulness of Scripture, the impossibility of salvation apart from faith in Christ) is now often considered “Fundamentalist.”

Denny Burk: Evangelicals believe and proclaim the evangel (i.e., the gospel) of Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners. At first blush, it would seem that this kind of commitment to the gospel could describe almost every “believing Christian,” but several notable features distinguish Evangelical Christians from the liberal mainlines on the one hand and Roman Catholics on the other.

Evangelicals trace all of their beliefs to the inspired Scriptures, which they believe to be the sole authority for faith and practice. American Evangelicals have stressed the inerrancy of Scripture as a necessary condition of its authority (seethe 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy).

In addition, Evangelicals recognize the decrepit condition of humanity because of sin and the inability of any person to contribute anything to his own salvation from sin’s effects and punishment. Evangelicals therefore rely on Christ’s substitutionary atonement as God’s only way of salvation for sinners who have been alienated from their Maker.

In the Evangelical way, the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work are communicated to the sinner by grace alone through faith alone in the person of Christ alone. Thus, Evangelicals typically stress the need for conversion: that a sinner would repent of his sin and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Evangelicals also believe in the necessity and urgency of evangelism.

Moore: The Evangelical movement has “matured” out of Fundamentalism in some of the worst ways. Yes, Fundamentalism was often narrow, often legalistic, and often tied to an inordinate fear of contamination by the outside culture.

In our flight from Fundamentalism, however, many of us—individuals and churches—have become mired in just what the Fundamentalists warned us we would: worldliness. The carnality in many Evangelical churches is astounding, not just at the obvious level of sensuality, but also at the less obvious (to us, anyway) level of covetousness, love of money, and celebrity worship.

Hart: What seems to have changed markedly among Evangelicals is a willingness to combat doctrinal error. When Evangelicals strove to put together a movement of conservative Protestants around 1950, they were clearly in opposition to liberal Protestantism, secularism, and Roman Catholicism.

The only enemy of those three that remains is secularism. This could be a sign of growing ecumenism among Evangelicals. I take it instead as an indication of theological confusion and the triumph of an impoverished view of tolerance.

Horton: ...Sociologist Christian Smith has recently described American spirituality as “moralistic, therapeutic deism,” and he says that this fits those raised in Evangelical churches as well as any others. If Fundamentalism reduced sin to sin s (or at least things they considered vices), contemporary Evangelicals seem to have reduced sin to dysfunction. In this context, Jesus is not the savior from the curse of the law, but a life coach who leads us to a better self, better marriages, and happier kids.

Moore: Yes, there are fundamental differences within the Evangelical movement, and I think the first way to heal them is to stop worrying about the movement.

I’ve found that some of the harshest “inside the tent” critics of Evangelicals share the basic assumptions of the early pioneers of the movement: that a constellation of parachurch ministries and institutions, unaccountable to specific local churches, can have an identity at all. Indeed, I’ve found that some of the harshest critics of Evangelicalism are often also the least ecclesially situated, and thus the most prone to the individualism that, it is asserted, threatens Evangelicalism—whatever that is.

Burk: The differences are too many and too complex to enumerate here, but we would do well to mention some that have been in the foreground of discussion.

The Emergent Village wing of the emerging church has been chipping away at the theological and moral foundation of the Evangelical movement. For instance, “Evangelicals” such as Brian McLaren have called for an Evangelical moratorium on calling homosexuality sin. Steve Chalke has suggested that the penal substitutionary view of Christ’s atonement is a form of “cosmic child abuse.”

Open theism has been embraced by many Evangelicals who insist that God cannot know the future choices of his free creatures. This particular teaching has thrown classical notions of the doctrine of God into disarray.

We might also mention that nearly every feature of my definition of Evangelicalism is to some extent a matter of dispute within the movement. At Fuller Seminary, for instance, the issue of inerrancy divided the faculty before being jettisoned as an essential Evangelical doctrine. Some Evangelicals are openly speculating whether it is necessary for a sinner to have explicit faith in Jesus Christ in order to be saved.

Horton: At its best, Evangelicalism early on (in Britain and North America) offered a united witness for what C. S. Lewis called “mere Christianity.”

As Lewis observed, no one can live in this hallway. Christians are nurtured in particular rooms (i.e., traditions), but they come into the hallway for fellowship and common witness. The problem, of course, is that the rooms are different indeed: Anabaptists and Anglicans, Arminians and Calvinists, Methodists and Lutherans, and increasingly, Roman Catholics and Orthodox.

From my perspective, while pietism may have enriched the Reformation churches to some extent, the heritage of revivalism represents a counter-Reformation that in many respects went even further than Trent in the direction of Pelagianism. Hence, on his American visit, Dietrich Bonhoeffer could refer to the religious scene as “Protestantism without the Reformation.” In both faith and practice, Reformation Christianity differs from the sort of Evangelicalism represented, for example, by Charles Finney, more radically than it does with Rome or Orthodoxy.

Moore: There are some Evangelicals who genuinely become convinced that the truth claims of Rome or Antioch are persuasive. If that’s the case, one should indeed become Catholic or Orthodox rather than attempting to convince Shiloh Baptist Church to use icons or King James Bible Church of the benefits of venerating Mary.

Most Evangelicals I’ve encountered who are tempted to become Catholic or Orthodox, however, are going to make quite poor Catholic or Orthodox churchmen. I type that with fear, knowing many exceptions to this—including some colleagues on our editorial board.

Most young Evangelicals I’ve known who are tempted to become Catholic or Orthodox quite frankly aren’t heading in that direction because they’ve been convinced by Cardinal Newman’s critique of sola Scriptura or because they’ve found papal authority in the patristic writings. Instead, many of them become Catholic or Orthodox because they are tired of dealing with sinful, hypocritical, arrogant, mindless, loveless Evangelicals.

Just as some Catholics moving in this direction assume that every Evangelical church is sparkling with the warm piety of those who have personal relationships with Jesus (only to find otherwise), some Evangelicals tempted to leave seem to think all Catholics are Walker Percy or Richard John Neuhaus or that all Orthodox are Maximos the Confessor.

Many are then really disappointed to find what any Catholic or Orthodox person could have told them—that they will be dealing with some sinful, hypocritical, arrogant, mindless, loveless Catholics or Orthodox. Anyone on a search for Mount Zion will be continually disappointed unless he finds it in the New Jerusalem.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The New Perspective on Justification

Help me proof-read. This is what I have so far (click to download). The paper is on justification and this is just one chapter of it (only a 5000 word essay, so I have to be brief).
In summary, for Wright, justification is not at the center of Paul’s preaching; the Lordship of Christ is. As Sanders says, “This is what Paul finds wrong with Judaism: it is not Christianity” Thus, the central message of the gospel is the alteration of the covenant relationship on the basis of Christ’s work. Covenant relationship is maintained by faith which works. And the final declaration of righteousness (‘justification’) from God will be on the basis of “the whole life lived.”

The Olympic Bible

China has banned athletes from brining Bibles to the Olympics.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why True Unity Flows From the Truth

The reason for this is that truth frees us from the control of Satan, the great deceiver and destroyer of unity: “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32; cf. 2 Tim. 2:24–26). Truth serves love, the bond of perfection. Paul prays for the Philippians that their “love [may] abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (Phil. 1:9). Truth sanctifies, and so yields the righteousness whose fruit is peace: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17; cf. 2 Pet. 1:3, 5, 12).
For the sake of unity and peace, therefore, Paul labors to set the churches straight on numerous issues—including quite a few that do not in themselves involve heresy. He does not exclude controversy from his pastoral writing. And he does not limit his engagement in controversy to first-order doctrines, where heresy threatens. He is like a parent to his churches. Parents do not correct and discipline their children only for felonies. Good parents long for their children to grow up into all the kindness and courtesy of mature adulthood. And since the fabric of truth is seamless, Paul knows that letting minor strands continue to unravel can eventually rend the whole garment.
Thus Paul teaches that elders serve the church, on the one hand, by caring for the church without being pugnacious (1 Tim. 3:3, 5), and, on the other hand, by rebuking and correcting false teaching. “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9; cf. 1:13; 2:15; 1 Tim. 5:20). This is one of the main reasons we have the Scriptures: they are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

The Future of Justification, pg. 31 John Piper

Quotable: From the Most Recent White Horse Inn, Mark Noll

On the differences between the Reformed view of justification and what the Catholic Catechism says:
I actually think that what's happening there is that Catholics use one word for what Protestants have over the last 4 and 5 centuries talked about in terms of justification and sanctification (response from Michael Horton, "but we never mention merit"). Allister McGrath has written some very sharp writings on the developments in the Catholic church. He has made very clear that some confusion between Catholics and Protestants is due to the fact that Catholics use the term justification for the entire process of salvation that classic protestants divide up into phases defined by justification and sanctification."
Mark Noll

From my own view, I think the difference concerns the nature of imputation (external vs. internal). I don't know if Noll is being true to either Catholic or Protestant views by saying the most important part is that both sides are "Augustinian."

See Ludwig Ott in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pg. 250:
The point of departure of Luther’s doctrine of Justification is the conviction that human nature was completely corrupted by Adam’s sin, and that original sin consists formally in evil concupiscence. Luther conceives Justification as a juridicial act (actus forensis) by which God declares the sinner to be justified, although he remains intrinsically unjust and sinful. On the negative side, Justification is not a real eradication of sin, but merely a non-imputation or covering of sin. On the positive side it is not an inner renewal and sactification, but merely an external imputation of Christ’s justice. The subjective condition of Justification is fiducial faith, that is, the confidence of man, which is associated with the certainty of salvation, that the merciful God will forgive him his sins for Christ’s sake.”
...
The Council of Trent, referring to Col. I, 13, defined Justification as: ‘translation from that condition in which man is born as the son of the first Adam into the state of grace and adoption among the children of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior’…on the negative side it is a true eradication of sin; on the positive side it is a supernatural sanctifying and renewal of the inner man…The Reformers’ teaching of the merely external imputation of Christ’s justice was rejected, by the Council of Trent, as heretical.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

David Powlison on Bob Newhart's "Stop It!" Sketch

David Powlison's comments on this video.


His conclusion:
And so forth. Don’t ever think that biblical counseling is just CBT dolled up with some Bible verses. And “Stop it!” if you ever treat people that way! Wisdom is a wonderfully different creature. When our Father stops us from doing something wrong, he always starts us walking along a delightfully different path.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Postmodernism and Fundamentalism

Luther's Stein

Perhaps one explanation for continental slide of gen-X into greater evangelicalism is due to the desimation of the ideal of an "objective interpreter" within Fundamentalism. What we are witnessing in this divide is not simply a generation gap -- we are witnessing the effects of the first generation of Fundamentalsts born and raised in a Postmodern world butting heads with their (still) Modernist movement. In other words, this is not simply a generation gap -- it is symptomatic of a Christian Cultural revolution.
...
The Postmodern Fundamentalist (PF, pardon the paradox) thinks something to be amiss in the "old" doctrine of the perspicuity of the Scripture -- it smells of Modernism. And it very well may be. It may be that the new generation of Fundamentalism believes it has pulled back the curtain on the "old" use of the perspicuity of the Scriptures, and in so doing has discovered it for what it really is -- the perspicuity of the interpreter. Perhaps it is not for a failure of fundamentalist articulation that gen-X is making an exodus out of Fundamentalism. Perhaps it is a failure of Modernism.

Andy Naselli Reviews Promise Unfulfilled

Click to read

Despite the disproportionate space given to them, the alleged weaknesses are relatively peripheral to McCune’s thesis, which he argues convincingly. McCune is on the side of the angels. Evangelicalism has become increasingly diluted, and the result is that it has compromised what is most precious to Christians: the gospel. Promise Unfulfilled is a sober, eye-opening reminder that all believers are charged with the important and often difficult responsibility to guard the gospel.
Andy Naselli

What troubles me is that many of the so-called young fundamentalists are advocating a global social agenda for the local church without any understanding of its theological underpinnings. And I am not sure as yet if their new (to fundamentalism) philosophy of ministry is a sub rosa feeling to be “with it” and come out of the dispensational fundamentalist ghetto and join their contemporaries on the subject, or whether the putative basis is more of a string of proof texts bereft of theological correlation. Maybe it is neither.
Rolland McCune

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wielding Shamrock Shakes for the Glory of God

1 Corinthians 10:31
“Whether, therefore, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

“To the glory of God” or “magnify God” simply means “to make God look big…to make God look more like He really is.” The goal of my life, both in the sight of others and myself, is to make God look more like He really is. In my life, where before God was simply a passing thought, a tiny speck in my consciousness, I want to see Him as He is—more loving, more holy, more kind, more sovereign, more good, more just, more merciful, more faithful. I want to infuse this consciousness into the lives of others as well.

I’m finding that the things in life that I thought would bring me joy do not bring me joy. Shopping, sex, chocolate, money and television cannot satisfy me. Of course, this is true because these things are not God. When I worship them as God (love them, give my time and affections to them, desire them, sacrifice for them), I find them lacking. They cannot meet my needs. They are not ultimate things. I find myself saying with David in Psalm 73:25, “…there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” In my times of suffering and joy, I cling to the One who will satisfy me eternally. “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:3)

So then, what am I to do with shopping, sex, chocolate, money and television? Am I to despise these things? Am I to feel guilty when participating in these things? Am I to make rules for myself against these things? No. I am to wield these things in my fight for joy in God. I am to recognize that these things are good gifts from my good God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:17-18) I am to worship the creator, not the created thing. “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:24-25) When God gives me good things I am to enjoy the thing because I enjoy the creator. While eating a McDonalds shamrock shake (which I know does not ultimately satisfy) I say, “Oh, God, You are so good to give me this delicious food!” While enjoying a sunset, I think, “What a marvelous God you are to have created such beauty!” While having sex with my husband, I wonder, “What a God you are to have planned for this intimate part of marriage?! You truly are a God whose thoughts are far above my thoughts!” This is how I fulfill the command of 1 Corinthians 10:31 to make God look big in EVERY area of my life. The minute I start to find my joy in these things and not in God, I have stopped bringing glory to God. But as I find my contentment in Him, these things can be enjoyed in the way that He created them to be enjoyed.

(I give John Piper the credit for most of these thoughts, but this is how it has “connected” for me.)

The Mediator

This is the second stanza of a hymn by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (she of "How do I love Thee?" fame).

How pure Thou art! Our hands are dyed
With curses, red with murder's hue -
But He hath stretched His hands to hide
The sins that pierced them from thy view.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Philip De Courcy on Proverbs

These messages were from Saylorville's mens retreat recently. They are maybe the best messages I've ever heard on Proverbs.

Click to download
Friendship
Choices
Pure Sex

Thursday, November 01, 2007

White Horse Inn Recommendations and a Question

Please don't take everything they say as gospel truth, but I love that these people are talking about these theological issues. Justification is a VERY practical truth. People need to know what the gospel is and move beyond the subjective mess that is modern evangelicalism. Speaking of that, who's got a greater crisis evangelicalism or fundamentalism?
Current Controversies over Justification
Justification and Imputed Righteousness
Faith and the Gospel

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The LXX

Well, no use in introducing this issue with some story that nobody cares about, so I'll get right to the point. Here is what I was taught in my Advanced Greek Grammar class: The Septuagint is not merely a translation of Scripture, but it is also a reflection of the Jewish theological climate of the day. It is somewhat difficult to explain, but the Jews did not just translate the Scriptures from the Hebrew into the Greek. Rather, they brought their theology with them into the translation process, and the LXX contains in it 2nd-3rd cent. B.C. Jewish theology. The impilcations are somewhat noteworthy. Let me throw out one example we're all familiar with. Ps. 8 contains the word "elohim" in the Hebrew and "angelos" in the LXX. Thus, the translators had to make an EXEGETICAL decision to view the verse as contrasting man against angels rather than against God Himself. Big deal? Well, that was an easy example. Another more significant one: look at Genesis 1:1-2 in the LXX "the earth was invisible." Two significant things: first, the earth was invisible? second, is Greek philosophy creeping into the translator's theology by his choice to use the imperfect form of "eimi"? I may be misrepresenting my professor, who is truly a Greek scholar, but I think the concept itself is interesting. I have thought through it and I have my answer, but I'll let you all think your way through this one for a while. Oh, additionally he thinks that the LXX is Scripture, as in 1 Tim. 3:16 Scripture. The authors of the NT quote from it as authoritative, and that is enough evidence for him to say that it can be called Scripture. Enjoy.

Happy Reformation Day!


"Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."
Martin Luther

I'm thankful to God for the courage of Martin Luther to fight established dogmas with a reasonable and common sense interpretation of Scriptures. The world could use more theologians like Luther who can move beyond prolegomena to teach the meaning of scripture and its glorious implications for Christ's church. Post Tenebras Lux!

The Epistle to Diognetus

CHAPTER 5
5:1 For Christians are not distinguished from the
rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in
customs.
5:2 For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their
own, neither do they use some different language, nor
practise an extraordinary kind of life.
5:3 Nor again do they possess any invention
discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious
men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some
are.
5:4 But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and
barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the
native customs in dress and food and the other
arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their
own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous,
and confessedly contradicts expectation.
5:5 They dwell in their own countries, but only as
sojourners; they bear their share in all things as
citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers.
Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and
every fatherland is foreign.
5:6 They marry like all other men and they beget
children; but they do not cast away their offspring.
5:7 They have their meals in common, but not their
wives.
5:8 They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they
live not after the flesh.
5:9 Their existence is on earth, but their
citizenship is in heaven.
5:10 They obey the established laws, and they
surpass the laws in their own lives.
5:11 They love all men, and they are persecuted by
all.
5:12 They are ignored, and yet they are condemned.
They are put to death, and yet they are endued with
life.
5:13 They are in beggary, and yet they make many
rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they
abound in all things.
5:14 They are dishonoured, and yet they are
glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of,
and yet they are vindicated.
5:15 They are reviled, and they bless; they are
insulted, and they respect.
5:16 Doing good they are punished as evil-doers;
being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby
quickened by life.
5:17 War is waged against them as aliens by the
Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by
the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell
the reason of their hostility.

9:2 And when our iniquity had been fully
accomplished, and it had been made perfectly manifest
that punishment and death were expected as its
recompense, and the season came which God had
ordained, when henceforth He should manifest His
goodness and power (O the exceeding great kindness and
love of God), He hated us not, neither rejected us,
nor bore us malice, but was long-suffering and
patient, and in pity for us took upon Himself our
sins, and Himself parted with His own Son as a ransom
for us, the holy for the lawless, the guileless for
the evil, _the just for the unjust,_ the incorruptible
for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal.
9:3 For what else but His righteousness would have
covered our sins?
9:4 In whom was it possible for us lawless and
ungodly men to have been justified, save only in the
Son of God?
9:5 O the sweet exchange, O the inscrutable
creation, O the unexpected benefits; that the iniquity
of many should be concealed in One Righteous Man, and
the righteousness of One should justify many that are
iniquitous!
9:6 Having then in the former time demonstrated the
inability of our nature to obtain life, and having now
revealed a Saviour able to save even creatures which
have no ability, He willed that for both reasons we
should believe in His goodness and should regard Him
as nurse, father, teacher, counsellor, physician,
mind, light, honour, glory, strength and life.


Link

Monday, October 29, 2007

Levels of Happiness in Heaven

I have recorded a section of Jonathan Edwards' sermon on Romans 2:10. It lasts about seven minutes. The reason I recorded it is that I regard this section as the best thing I have ever read on the issue of varying degrees of reward and happiness and holiness in heaven. It is vintage Edwards. He has thought this through in an amazing way. It opens our eyes to the possibilities of heaven that we have never thought of before. If you want to read and ponder it for yourself, it comes from page 902 of the second volume of The Works of Jonathan Edwards.
J. Piper

Go to the blog

Plantinga at SBTS

Call me crazy but I'm really pumped up to listen to this. I've really really liked what I've read of Plantinga.

ht: Justin Taylor

The Catholic Catechism

"The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth." 1250, The Catholic Catechism

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Book Recommendations

Mark Dever has preached every book of the Bible. He preaches a book in one message to give his people the overall flow of the book. The fruits of his labor are in these two volumes. They read like a sermon but give the depth and richness one would expect from someone of his credentials. I you are preaching through a book of the Bible these would be a good resource so that you get a sense for the flow and scope of the book as a whole.

“I have long desired a book that would unlock the richness of the Old Testament—assisting both the pastor in the pulpit and Christians in their devotions. This is that book.”
—C. J. Mahaney
Sovereign Grace Ministries

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Quotable

Moo on the modified Lutheran view of law and grace:
The reader may think that I have just affirmed contradictory points: that God did not give the law to save his people, and that the law promises salvation if it is kept. But these two statements are not incompatible. By the latter, I mean simply that the law, in stating God’s demand of his people Israel, promises to bring them also that successfully meeting that demand would bring them salvation. But this is not to say that the law could ever in fact be obeyed so fully by sinful beings that it would save anyone; and God, knowing this, never intended the law to save anyone. It would be as if I were to give a basketball to my son for the first time in his life and tell him: ‘Here: if you make 100 free throws in a row, you will not have to practice and train to become a basketball player.’”

“[Paul’s] strict demarcation of two ‘eras’ can lead to the conclusion that all who lived before Christ were necessarily doomed, while all those who live after Christ are, by definition, saved. But this is not, of course, what Paul intends to say. His application of the salvation-historical contrast of ‘before’ and ‘after’ operates on two levels: the level of world history and the level of individual history. In Galatians 3-4, a passage central to our purposes, the former is clearly dominant, as Paul divides history into three stages: before the law (when the promise was given to Abraham), under the law, and after the law (when the promise to Abraham was fulfilled).”

“The entire Mosaic law comes to fulfillment in Christ, and this fulfillment means that this law is no longer a direct and immediate source of, or judge of, the conduct of God’s people. Christian behavior, rather, is now guided directly by ‘the law of Christ.’ This ‘law’ does not consist of legal prescriptions and ordinances, but of the teaching and example of Jesus and the apostles, the central demand of love, and the guiding influence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.”

“Many argue that this is what the texts we have mentioned require: The new covenant promises the internalization of the same law given by God at Sinai. But there is reason for caution. First, if Jeremiah and Ezekiel are thinking of the Mosaic law, there is no basis to confine the reference to only part of the law (e.g., the so-called moral law). Yet it is evident that the totality of the Mosaic law has not been reinstituted as an authoritative source of life in the new covenant…Second, there are references in the prophets to a tora that will be established in the last days and that probably does not refer to the Mosaic law as such (Isa. 2:3; 42:4; 51:4, 7; Mic. 4:2).”

The Crisis of Modern Fundamentalism

Christianity Today
The difference between evangelicals and fundamentalists hasn't been theology, though some fundamentalists would refuse to compromise on dispensationalism, for example. Fundamentalists have a strategy problem: Do they clamp down on these youngsters, risking a deeper generation gap? Or do they reconsider strict separation and cultural isolation? By choosing the latter, they may save their youth and lose their cause.

Quotable

From Can I Just Start My Own Tradition

If Joel Osteen, R.C. Sproul, Benny Hinn, Chuck Swindoll, Oral Roberts, J.P. Moreland, T.D. Jakes, Jimmy Carter, Billy Graham, Brian Mclaren, Pat Robertson, and John Piper all distinguish themselves as evangelicals, then we must admit that the disignation both means everything and nothing at the same time.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Discernment

Blogging and Discernment, by Adrian Warnock - good indictment on blogging and interesting points about discernment. This is a key question that has a very practical impact on one's approach to discernment: does discernment seek primarily to defend truth from error or primarily to promote truth thus exposing error. Which should have precedence the positive or negative approach?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

John Frame on Christ and Culture

A Blog Article Here or a word document here. He promotes a transformational view of Christ and Culture. He's reformed, what else is new. But who else writes on culture?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Confessionism: The Misuse of I John 1:9

Thought this was an excellent article (click to read) on the misunderstanding many in our circles have relating to I John 1:9. His argument tends to be more theological but thorough exegesis backs up the conclusions! Here's a selection. . .
"Now, consider the implications of adding the work of confession for ongoing forgiveness with the data we presently have. If something more is required for forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness (a state required for heaven), then the believer is in a dilemma. What if he fails to confess some sins? What if he fails to confess one sin? Is he unforgiven and not cleansed from all unrighteousness? This is not what propitiation and the continual immediate cleansing from sin by the blood assert. Must we add to what God has so completely accomplished? Isn't Christ's death and the application of His blood enough? Doesn't this additional requirement diminish the cross by making my naming of a sin, each sin, a prerequisite to forgiveness?"

Preach the Gospel to Yourself, in Worship

These verses were on my mind during the worship service this morning:

(Ephesians 2:1-10 NAS95S)
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

I was in the worship service this morning and I have a bad habit of scanning the crowd to see who is really singing and who is just going through the motions. I hate when I find myself going through the motions. But on the other hand, I don't want to try to stir up my emotions so that I'm faking it. The trick is, when I sing about these powerful truths of the gospel, why don't I care? I think we often think that if we do not love God with our whole heart that something is wrong with us spiritually. And I'm here to say, that's exactly right. There is something wrong with us spiritually. We are plagued by our sin nature which yields its desire to inferior joys. C.S. Lewis says: "We are half-hearted creatures. Fooling about with food and sex and ambition, when absolute joy is offered us. Like a child content to continue making mud-pies in the slums because he has no concept of what is meant by a holiday at the sea. We are far to easily pleased!" I really think this is where the ministry of the word works most powerfully in our lives. Try reading through the book of Ephesians and you'll see the whole point of the book is to remind the believers of their position and where they came from. On top of this Paul says why he's praying: "For this reason I kneel before the Father...I pray that you...may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge". Paul's prayer and writing were directed at giving the Ephesians a fresh appreciation for who God was and what he had done and was doing. Try these practical things this week:
1. When in worship humbly acknowledge your sinfulness in light of God's word
2. When in worship quote scriptures which remind you of the blessings of God (let the word remind you afresh of his goodness)
3. Throughout the week pray for others to be satisfied in God
I need to be reminded of the gospel every day, especially during the worship service so that I worship in spirit and in truth. I hope you are encouraged to worship authentically seeing the grace of God in the gospel in the past, in the present, and in the future.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Huckabee

I watched Huckabee on channel eight last night. This guy is a very very good politician. Plus, he makes a lot of sense. I think the former baptist pastor might have a real chance. Justin Taylor posted this and this yesterday, Andrew Jackson this. Matt Anderson predicted his straw poll win.

Compare him with others on PewForum

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"The Death of Death in the Death of Christ"

I picked up the Death of Death a few weeks back and began to comb through the introduction (written by Packer). I have have been greatly encouraged by his lucid argument for God's supremacy in salvation. Here's a selection from the introduction:
"And when we come to preach the gospel, our false preconceptions make us say just the opposite of what we intend. We want (rightly) to proclaim Christ as Saviour; yet we end up saying that Christ, having made salvation possible, has left us to become our own saviours. It comes about in this way. We want to magnify the saving grace of God and the saving power of Christ. So we declare that God's redeeming love extends to every man, and that Christ has died to save every man, and we proclaim that the glory of divine mercy is to be measured by these facts. And then, in order to avoid universalism, we have to depreciate all that we were previously extolling, and to explain that, after all, nothing that God and Christ have done can save us unless we add something to it; the decisive factor which actually saves us is our own believing. What we say comes to this -- that Christ saves us with our help; and what that means, when one thinks it out, is this -- that we save ourselves with Christ's help. This is a hollow anticlimax. But if we start by affirming that God has a saving love for all, and Christ died a saving death for all, and yet balk at becoming universalists, there is nothing else we can say. . . We have not exalted grace and the Cross; we have cheapened them. We have limited the atonement far more drastically than Calvinism does, for whereas Calvinism asserts that Christ's death, as such, saves all whom it was meant to save, we have denied that Christ's death, as such, is sufficient to save any of them. . . Christ's death ensured the calling and keeping -- the present and final salvation -- of all whose sins He bore. That is what Calvary meant, and means. The Cross saved; the Cross saves. This is the heart of true Evangelical faith; . . . (pp. 14-15)."
Matt, don't mean to hijack the blog with Packer and Owen but thought this was some good food for thought! Enjoying the hunt. . . Ben Eilers

Evangelism, Pastors, and Churches

Mark Dever has a good series on evangelism. I'd especially be interested in your thoughts on the last twenty minutes of Evangelism for the Pastor or Preacher.

What is Evangelism
A Biblical Theology of Evangelism
Evangelism for the Pastor or Preacher
The Church Practice of Evangelism

Monday, October 15, 2007

Demand #17, Humble Yourself in Christlikeness

John Piper's journal entry for December 6, 1988:
Is not the most effective way of bridling my delight in being made much of, to focus on making much of God? Self-denial and crucifixion of the flesh are essential, but O how easy it is to be made much of even for my self denial! How shall this insidious motive of pleasure in being made much of be broken except through bending all my faculties to delight in the pleasure of making much of God! Christian Hedonism is the final solution. It is deeper than death to self. You have to go down deeper into the grave of the flesh to find the truly freeing stream of miracle water that ravishes you with the taste of God's glory. Only in that speechless all-satisfying admiration is the end of self."

from What Jesus Demands from the World, pg. 136-137 by John Piper

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Info-Techno Sabbath

So I had my MacBook open this afternoon while I was watching the Vikings and listening to a podcast, and I read in my Google Reader feed a novel idea from Joe Carter: an Info-Techno Sabbath. I'm not sure about the theology behind it, but I think I'll take him up on his suggestion.

Quotable

Pat Nemmers this morning preaching on 1 Corinthians 5:1-8:

Churches are not weakened by innovative approaches to ministry creative styles, contemporary music, or relaxed dress codes. They are weakened by the unwillingness of the assembly to deal with spiritual rebels who defame the name of our Lord who delivered them."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Professor of "Dog"matics


A rare casual day; but no flip-flops allowed. Next year they will be more specific.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

No Comment...

Demand #3: Come to Me

As Jesus looks over the religions of the world--including the Judaism of his day--he sees people who are laboring heavy loads to earn the favor of whatever deity they believe in. He did not come to replace that God-appeasing load with another one. He came to carry that load and call us to himself for rest. "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest in your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30). Make no mistake, there is a yoke and a burden when we come to Jesus (there would be no demands if this were not true), but the yoke is easy, and the burden is light.

But perhaps it's note easy and light the way we think it is. Jesus also said, "The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life" (Matt. 7:14). The reason it is hard it not because Jesus is a hard taskmaster. It's hard because the world is a hard place to enjoy Jesus above all.

John Piper, What Jesus Demands from the World, pg. 45

Preach the Gospel to Believers

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”
(Titus 3:4-8 ESV)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Body Soul and Life Everlasting



This is perhaps the most important contemporary book dealing with the dualism/monism and the distinction between the body and soul. I would very highly recommend it (especially since one's view on this topic has SO MANY contemporary applications)

On Cancer and Death

A family in our church lost a sister to cancer. She was a mother of seven. I'm encouraged to know physical death is a picture of spiritual, but only a shadow. And sickness is terrible but only a veiled threat compared with sin which can infect and kill our very souls.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian

The day of nice people, I fear, is nearly over; two things are killing it. The first is the belief that there is no harm in being happy, provided no one else is the worse for it; the second is the dislike of humbug, a dislike which is quite as much aesthetic as moral. Both these revolts were encouraged by the War, when the nice people in all countries were securely in control, and in the name of the highest morality induced the young people to slaughter one another. When it was all over the survivors began to wonder whether lies and misery inspired by hatred constituted the highest virtue. I am afraid it may be some time before they can again be induced to accept this fundamental doctrine of every really lofty ethic.

The essence of nice people is that they hate life as manifested in tendencies to cooperation, in the boisterousness of children, and above all in sex, with the thought of which they are obsessed. In a word, nice people are those who have nasty minds."

Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian, pg. 156

Fascinating couple of paragraphs. I think it illustrates beautifully what happens when a lofty ethic is peddled without authenticity of heart. God's moral standards help decipher life for the one who sets his hope in Him. But to those who look at the standards themselves for life and joy, they will find emptiness and their own delusive hearts (nasty minds).

Friday, October 05, 2007

Free Audio Book, The Life of David Brainerd

This is exciting. I've always wanted to read this book. It's free right now on ChristianAudio.com. Just add it to your cart and check out using the coupon code OCT2007 and it's free of charge.

(ht: In the Light of the Gospel)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Faith Soccer Promo


Somewhere Tristan Jackson is smiling...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Message by Randy Alcorn on "how the choices we make today effect who we will be"


Good reminder by Randy Alcorn

This week I've been reading 2 Timothy 2-3 in my devotions. What a good reminder for me.
(2Timothy 2:1-3:9 ESV)
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God* not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,* a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable,* he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant* must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.”