Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Preaching that Understands the World

Colin Adams posts a couple points from D.A. Carson about how preachers can understand the world around them.

Read here

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Crazy Jack"

The other neighbors warned us about him: "He's a religious fanatic!"

"Cool," I thought. " These days 'fanatic' tends to describe anyone who actually goes to church more than once a week. So maybe we simply have a commited, born-again, evangelistic-type next-door neighbor."

Well, that hope was shot to pieces the first time I met Jack. Actually, Leah met him first. "Fanatic" was a gross understatement. Thus far he's had visions predicting 9-11, the Iraq/Bush War, and the eventual destruction of the U.S. by nuclear war. He hears voices that often quote scripture-like statements and finds hidden spiritual messages in late-night infomercials. That being said, he is also a really, really nice neighbor.

Jack offered me some CDs and a book on divine healing. Out of kindness and curiousity I accepted them and have listened to most of them. They are by Kenneth Hagin (now deceased) of Rhema ministries. It only takes about 30 seconds to find out more than enough dirt about Hagin on the internet, but Jack warned me about believing Hagin's critics, "The Pharisees thought Jesus was nuts too!" (By the way, I'm getting sick of everyone using that argument to defend whatever new position or liberty or emergence they create. Make sure I don't use it.)

That's the background, here's the prompt. Though Jack rejects any theological conversation or evaluation, do you have any thoughts on how to handle such a neighhbor/friend? He's a believer (even used to go to a GARB church!), but that's where our similiarities end. I honestly would like advise.

Also, here are the basic theological syllogisms of Hagin's corner of the healing movement. If you have thoughts, I'm interested in them. Maybe I'll share mine later. (Don't worry, I'm not into healing now!)

1) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law - Gal. 3:13
2) The curse of the law is spiritual death, sickness, and poverty - Deut 28.
3) Therefore, we are redeemed from sickness.

Or try this one from the Lord's prayer:

1) "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
2) There is no sickness in heaven.
3) Therefore, God's will is never sickness on earth.

Postmodernism and Its Critics

This is a good (understandable) primer on postmodernism. Thanks Logan for the link. This is where the emerging church is "coming from."
-------------------------------
Postmodernism is highly debated even among postmodernists themselves. For an initial characterization of its basic premises, consider anthropological critic Melford Spiro's excellent synopsis of the basic tenets of postmodernism:

“The postmodernist critique of science consists of two interrelated arguments, epistemological and ideological. Both are based on subjectivity. First, because of the subjectivity of the human object, anthropology, according to the epistemological argument cannot be a science; and in any event the subjectivity of the human subject precludes the possibility of science discovering objective truth. Second, since objectivity is an illusion, science according to the ideological argument, subverts oppressed groups, females, ethnics, third-world peoples (Spiro 1996).


Read On

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ten Days to Faster Reading: Day 1


This morning I sat down for my first session with "10 Days to Faster Reading." I'm going to summarize just a little bit of what I read here:

It seems that the first day's reading, about seventeen pages, was mainly consumed by establishing your current reading level, giving you some sense of hope of being able to increase that reading level, and assigning some homework. (Sounds a lot like Mr. Newman's counseling models . . .)

Anyways, it appears that each day will include a new "pacer." Ms. Marks-Beale apparently likes to use race car analogies, as this chapter was titled "Puting [sic] the Key in the Ignition." I hope the whole book uses racing analogies. Maybe it'll speed up my reading.

Today's chapter also dealt with "working with a pro." We're going to learn a number of pacers, as I mentioned above, that will help us to read faster. Today's pacer is the use of a blank white card, what Ms. Marks-Beale calls "adding a stick shift to your reading."

I've used a white card before, and didn't find it very helpful. However, this book suggests using the white card but placing it above the line you are reading instead of below it. "Think about this: Why are you blocking where your eyes are going and leaving open where your eyes have been? This encourages an inefficient, or passive, habit called regression, or going back over the material you have already read." I'll try it later with some more reading.

Each day also includes a time trial and comprehension test. I got a 70% on the test, mostly because I looked at the questions and assumed it was all true/false. I didn't see that there was an N, or not discussed option, so I missed two. As far as reading speed, I'm average. (Yay!)

Hope to increase it soon, and I'll try to keep these coming each day.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Conversion of Jonathan Edwards

Casey Malloy typed this out so that we could post it for the mutual benefit of everyone here. By his own admission Casey's own testimony has many similarities of Jonathan Edwards, as does mine. I think it is common within our circles to see first the law of God and hate it before we ever see the grace of God and love it. I remember the first time I was absolutely confounded to read of David's love for God's law (Psalm 119). I was confounded because I had no concept as to how one could love a law so demanding. The answer like a refreshing draught of water, was that David loved God's law because he loved fellowship with God in sweet communion perhaps unlike any who have come after him. But all the more, we have the exact representation of God's glorious grace in Christ. What psalms of praise David would have sung if he'd lived long enough to see his redeemer!

The Conversion of Jonathan Edwards

Friday, January 26, 2007

This is how I feel today . . .

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com


I wonder if I'll ever get my paper done?

How to Read a Book

The one thing I did not expect to hear Dr. Hendricks say in Bible Study Methods and Hermeneutics class was, "You people don't know how to read!"

He was serious, too.

He went on to tell us that year after year, the reading ability in the seminary has dropped. Of course, there are numerous reasons, he told us. His personal opinion is that television is the number one culprit.

After a number of amusing anecdotes about reading (and some amazing stories of people who could really read), he recommended two books to us: How to Read a Book and 10 Days to Faster Reading.

I bought 10 Days (because the DTS bookstore was out of How to Read). I'll let y'all (see, I'm a Texan already!) know how it goes and if it really helps or not.

Oh, and I signed up for a speed reading class that Prof enthusiastically recommended.

Maybe I'll post copies of the notes or something. :)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Paradigm Shifting and the Apologetics Debate

This article written by former evangelical Christian Dr. Robert M. Price provides a synopsis of the problems of the evidentialist approach. It does seem to become clear however, the path this man took to secular humanism. There is not one mention of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, I do not believe that a presuppositional approach cannot use evidence to remove obstacles to plausibility. It seems clear that whether one likes or not, everyone is a presuppositionalist, but it also seems that not all worldviews have the same plausibility so one needs to be an evidentialist to some exent. What are your thoughts?

This is worth a read--because I took so long to type it out... :)


But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,”
(2Tim 3:13-14 NAS95S)

Getting to the Heart of Conflict: Idols of the Heart

Ministry is about people. It does not take a very long time in ministry to recognize that people have conflicts. We've used the peacemaking principles in the book, The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande, in our church. This is an exerpt from an excellent article on the Peacemaker Ministries website about getting to the heart of conflict.

When faced with conflict, we tend to focus passionately on what our opponent has done wrong or should do to make things right. In contrast, God always calls us to focus on what is going on in our own hearts when we are at odds with others. Why? Because our heart is the wellspring of all our thoughts, words, and actions, and therefore the source of our conflicts. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander" (Matthew 15:19).


The heart's central role in conflict is vividly described in James 4:1-3. If you understand this passage, you will have found a key to preventing and resolving conflict.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

This passage describes the root cause of destructive conflict: Conflicts arise from unmet desires in our hearts. When we feel we cannot be satisfied unless we have something we want or think we need, the desire turns into a demand. If someone fails to meet that desire, we condemn him in our heart and quarrel and fight to get our way. In short, conflict arises when desires grow into demands and we judge and punish those who get in our way. Let us look at this progression one step at a time.

Read On

Can the 'E-word' be saved

This is an interesting article.

Two quotes stick out to me:
•Ongoing battles over embryonic stem-cell research and end-of-life choices gave an impression that evangelicals wanted to impose sectarian values on society.

Again this is a hot button issue that we should think on. Although I wonder that murder is being considered a "sectarian value."

Although 38% of Americans call themselves evangelical, only 9% actually agree with key evangelical beliefs, says research firm the Barna Group. In a surveys of 4,014 adults nationwide, conducted over four months in 2006, "one out of every four self-identified evangelicals has not even accepted Christ as their savior," says George Barna.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Defining Literacy Down

Every generation worries about the next -- and usually with good reason. Here is another reason for worry about today's adolescents and young adults -- they don't read. That is a generalization, of course. But the generalization seems to be holding true.

Thomas Washington, librarian at a Washington, DC area private school, recently contributed a "lament" to The Washington Post. The kids are privileged and have no problem of access to books, but they do not read. As he reports:

I'm a librarian in an independent Washington area school. We're doing all the right things. Our class sizes are small. Most graduating seniors gain admission to their college of choice. The facilities are first-rate.

Yet from my vantage point at the reference desk, something is amiss. The books in the library stacks are gathering dust.


Read On

Monday, January 22, 2007

Super Proposal

We've got to do what we can here. This would be pretty sweet.



Best line:
I can’t run the risk that she finds out about this prior to the actual engagement…and posting her picture on the site could definitely increase the odds of her hearing about it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Five Streams of the Emerging Church

It is said that emerging Christians confess their faith like mainliners—meaning they say things publicly they don't really believe. They drink like Southern Baptists—meaning, to adapt some words from Mark Twain, they are teetotalers when it is judicious. They talk like Catholics—meaning they cuss and use naughty words. They evangelize and theologize like the Reformed—meaning they rarely evangelize, yet theologize all the time. They worship like charismatics—meaning with their whole bodies, some parts tattooed. They vote like Episcopalians—meaning they eat, drink, and sleep on their left side. And, they deny the truth—meaning they've got a latte-soaked copy of Derrida in their smoke- and beer-stained backpacks.


Read the article

Rod Dreher has A book you still need

This could hardly be a timelier book. More and more people are coming to the realization that the materialism, the rootlessness, and the hedonism of this consumer's paradise we've built for ourselves are taking America down a dead-end road. E.F. Schumacher shows where liberals and conservatives go wrong, and Joseph Pearce makes Schumacher relevant for a new generation -- one that despaerately needs to hear Schumacher's message. Pearce shows why "small is beautiful" is the only sane and human response to our insane "supersize me" culture.

Permalink
Amazon

Blogging Out Loud

Blogging is a tricky medium because it gives the impression that it is a well reasoned piece of credible information similar to a online column. Yet, very often it is the ranting and raving of those completely unqualified to be discussing the subject, much less helping to form others opinions. It is Dr. Myron's opinion that it is an "illegitimate medium." I wouldn't go that far necessarily but I can really understand his sentiment. It is very difficult to communicate anything of worth on a regular basis. It is for this reason I want to offer this caveat to remind myself and anyone who should read that I consider much of what is written and said here to be not much more than casual conversation and it should not be viewed with more authority than that. As far as credentials are concerned. I am in the midst of a Masters of Divinity degree and make it my constant hobby to read and learn. Yet, in many ways I'm still growing in the maturity and spiritual wisdom it takes to really offer a healthy perspective. I hope the other members of this blog who may be reading will continue offer accountability and confrontation to maintain a healthy level of discretion about what is said on this blog. Much thanks for your continued understanding and mutual encouragement.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ekklesia


I'm very busy with the new seminary load, but if you guys are ever looking for a good book on the church I'm really enjoying The Nature of the Church, by Earl D. Radmacher. His word study over ekklesia is very interesting.

My analysis on his section dealing with the classical Greek usage of the term:

1. Present the classical meaning of ekklhsia and its help in understanding NT use. Sorry about the fonts...

The word ekklhsia has a multifaceted history from Greek, Jewish and Christian use. A view toward the development of the word can be instructive in its implications for New Testament usage. An analysis of the etymology of the word yields two distinct parts, ek meaning out and kalew meaning to call or to summon. Liddell and Scott define it as “an assembly of the citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly.” Thus we see the Classical usage of the word seems to be more specific than its later development. Trench adds to Liddell and Scott’s definition the idea of separation indicating that the ones who were called were called in contrast to those who were not summoned. Those that were called were in fact of higher class or status. Radmacher points out that others resist this connotation in the words classical usage such as Broadus and Backer who explains, “the idea was not of segregation but of summoning.” Radmacher summarizes to say, “The summons to any selected few—it was not exclusive; it was a summons from the state to every man to come and shoulder his responsibilities.” With time however, the more precise meaning of “citizens called out by the herald to transact public affairs” came to mean simply an assembly. In fact the verbal form ekklhsiazw is used of convening an ekklhsia, “sometimes used of assemblies that were not assemblies of citizens and, so far from being duly summoned, were probably not summoned at all.” By NT times even a mob could be called an ekklhsia. Acts 19 is a prime example; the group was not even sure why they were assembled. Finally, Campbell notes that in ordinary usage ekklhsia meant only an assembly, not the body of people who gathered together, in fact, the boule or council was a body even when it didn’t meet. But an ekklhsia was only when citizens gathered and furthermore, there was a new ekklhsia every time they met.
Although it is difficult to read too much into a word’s historical meaning, the development of ekklhsia provides interesting insight. First, I think it is important to note that the idea of examining the etymology of ekklhsia to provide a definitive answer to its meaning is unwise. It is often argued on the basis of the etymology that the church is “called out” by God to be separate from the world and its desires. While these ideas may be true, they should not be supported on the basis of the etymology of the word.
It is also interesting to note Campbell’s point about how the classical usage of the word communicated an “assembled” body in contrast to another word which would refer to a body of individuals assembled or not assembled. The New Testament usage of ekklhsia would seem to break from this pattern of usage in that it often speaks of an ekklhsia as a body of individuals even independent of the fact that they are gathered or not when referring to the universal church.
That being said, Dana does see value in comparing the organizational usage of the classical to the New Testament usage when referring to the local church. He sees similarities the following ways: “(i) the assembly was local; (ii) it was autonomous; (iii) it presupposed definite qualifications; (iv) it was conducted on democratic principles.”
Nevertheless, there are some who question the value of the classical usage in determining the New Testament usage at all. Johnston points out that “ekklesia is never the title for a religious group.” Craig says, “The Greek word ekklesia had not special religious connotation.” Furthermore, even organizational similarities could be incidental. It seems that ekklhsia gained heightened significance in its New Testament usage and it remains to be seen how significant its historical development can be to our understanding of the term.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Q and A with NT Wright


(ht: Justin Taylor)

This article
by Jim Hamilton offers a little more clarity on who exactly this NT Wright guy is...

Also, Piper on the New Perspective

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Some Questions about the Regulative Principle

Whether you agree with "the regulative principle" or not, this is an interesting read. John Frame clarifies his view of the principle and explains the extent of its application.

Some Questions about the Regulative Principle, by John M. Frame

Let it be clear from the outset that my "questions" about the Reformed regulative principle for public worship do not spring from doubts about what I take to be its main thrust. As for many years, I continue now to be convinced that worship must be scriptural (i.e., consistent with Scripture) and, indeed, limited by Scripture. For who of us can say confidently how God wishes to be worshiped except insofar as he has told us in Scripture? If there are principles of worship to be found in nature, these cannot be understood rightly except through the "spectacles" of Scripture; for when we try to reason without Scripture, sin distorts our vision. And Scripture is quick to condemn those who walk according to the "vain imaginations of their own hearts" (Jer 3:17; 7:24; etc.)

Still, it is one thing to affirm the sufficiency of Scripture for worship, another thing to work out a cogent theological account of it. And in trying to develop such an account, I have run into some questions which either I am unable to answer correctly or which call for changes in some traditional ways of understanding the principle. So I place them on the table for discussion; I hope to learn from my readers.
Read on...

And if you have time for such things, read the debate between him and Darryl Hart

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

This is a chilling book to read because it is written by a man with a religious background who rejected his father's faith seemingly because of its insincerity. It seems clear that Nietzsche didn't particularly like the philosophical paths he trod before formulating his "superman" ideas. I wonder if he wouldn't have been forced to travel them if he'd seen an authentic relationship with God? Both his father and grandfather were Lutheran ministers, but he lost his faith early in life. Here is a quote from the intro:
As a boy he was, as befitted a pastor's son, intensely pious, but he lost his faith during his late teens and abandoned the study of theology. He replace belief with freelance philosophizing, upon which he brought to bear the intensity of involvement he had withdrawn from religion."
Later he talks of "pitiable priests" in this way:
I pity these priests. They go against my taste, too; but that means little to me since I am among men.
But I suffer and have suffered with them: they seem to me prisoners and marked men. He whom they call Redeemer has cast them into bondage -
Into the bondage of alse values and false scriptures! Ah, that someone would redeem them from their Redeemer!"
This is our vital role after all isn't it? To show men their own imprisonment and bondage to fruitless desires and in so doing display the inexpressible joy and fulfillment that comes form bondage to Christ? This is freedom. Nietzsche himself seems to understand that we were not meant to be our own gods and goddesses in The madman when he declares we have killed God,
Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must not we ourselves become gods simply to seem worthy of it?"
Truly, we were made for another, and in communion with Him is the fulness of joy.
And he who lives in their (the priests) neighborhood lives in the neighborhood of black pools, from out of which the toad that prophet of evil, sings its song with sweet melancholy.
They would have to sing better songs to make me believe in their Redeemer: his disciples would have to look more redeemed!
This is a staggering statement of truth from Nietzsche...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Dever with Thabiti Anyabwile (for real)


I recently posted this, but I don't think anyone listened to the interview because the link I posted was bad and no one told me about it... I just finished this up and it is excellent. Personally, I don't have one Muslim friend. I have never shared the gospel with one. This message is convicting and timely. Please take the time to listen to it, get the books I have linked, and volunteer to help an immigrant Muslim.

Listen to the Interview
# 1 The Prophet and the Messiah

#2 Cross and Crescent


A place to start looking for volunteering opportunities?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Evangelicals and Catholics Together

I'd be interested to hear what you all think about this little collection of articles:

Link

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Reformed Worship in the Global City (Four Quotes)

This article heading caught my eye. It's interesting to get an informed and postmodern sensitive Presbyterian's perspective into the "worship wars." Two more quotes to follow:

One of the basic features of church life in the United States today is the proliferation of corporate worship and music forms. This, in turn, has caused many severe conflicts within both individual congregations and whole denominations. Most books and articles about recent trends tend to fall into one of two categories. "Contemporary Worship" (hereafter CW) advocates often make rather sweeping statements like "Pipe organs and choirs will never reach people today." "History Worship" (hereafter HW) advocates often speak similarly about how incorrigibly corrupt popular music and culture is, and how their use makes contemporary worship completely acceptable.

Contemporary Worship: Plugging In?
One CW advocate writes vividly that we must "plug in" our worship to three power sources: "the sound system, the Holy Spirit, and contemporary culture." But sever problems attend the promotion of strictly contemporary worship.

First, some popular music does have severe limitations for corporate worship. Critics of popular culture argue that much of it is the product of mass-produced commercial interests. As such, it is often marked by sentimentality, a lack of artistry, sameness, and individualism in a way that traditional folk art was not.

Second, when we ignore historic tradition, we break our solidarity with Christians of the past. Part of the richness of our identity as Christians is that we are saved into a historic people. An unwillingness to consult tradition is not in keeping with either Christian humility or Christian community. Nor is it a thoughtful response to the postmodern rootlessness that now leads so many to seek connection to ancient ways and peoples.

Finally, any corporate worship that is strictly contemporary will become dated very quickly. Also, it will necessarily be gauged to a very narrow market niche. When Peter Wagner says we should "plug in" to contemporary culture, which contemporary culture does he mean? White, black, Latino, urban, suburban, "Boomer," or "Gen X" contemporary culture? Just ten years ago, Willow Creek's contemporary services were considered to be "cutting edge." Already, most younger adults find them dated and "hokey," and Willow Creek has had to begin a very different kind of "Buster" service in order to incorporate teenagers and people in their twenties.

Hidden (but not well!) in the arguments of CW enthusiasts is the assumption that culture is basically neutral and that thus there is no reason why we cannot wholly adopt any particular cultural form for our gathered worship. But worship that is not rooted in any particular historic tradition will often lack the critical distance necessary to critique and avoid the excesses and distorted sinful elements of the particular surrounding culture. For example, how can we harness contemporary Western culture's accessibility and frankness but not its individualism and psychologizing of moral problems?

Historic Worship: Pulling Out?
HW advocates, on the other hand, are strictly "high culture" promoters, who defend themselves from charges of elitism by arguing that modern pop music is inferior to traditional fold art. But problems also attend the promotion of strictly traditional, historic worship.

First, HW advocates cannot really dodge the charge of cultural elitism. A realistic look at the Christian music arising from the grassroots folk cultures of Latin America, Africa, and Asia (rather than from commercially produced pop music centers) reveals many of the characteristics of contemporary praise and worship music--simple and accessible tunes, driving beat, repetitive words, and emphasis on experience. Much of high culture music takes a great deal of instruction to appreciate, so that, especially in the United States, a strong emphasis on such music and art will probably only appeal to college-educated elites.

Second, any proponent of "historic" corporate worship will have to answer the question, "Whose history?" Much of what is called "traditional" worship is very rooted in northern European culture. While strict CW advocates may bind worship too heavily to one present culture, strict HW advocates may bind it too heavily to a past culture. Do we really want to assume that sixteenth-century northern European approach to emotional expression and music (incarnate in the Reformation tradition) was completely biblically informed and must be preserved?

Hidden (but not well!) in the arguments of HW advocates is the assumption that certain historic forms are more pure, biblical, and untainted by human cultural accretions. Those who argue against cultural relativism must also remember that sin and falleness taints every tradition and society. Just as it is a lack of humility to disdain tradition, it is also a lack of humility (and a blindness to the "noetic" effects of sin) to elevate any particular tradition or culture's way of doing worship. A refusal to adapt a tradition to new realities may come under Jesus' condemnation of making our favorite human culture into an idol, equal to the Scripture in normativity (Mark 7:8-9). While CW advocates do not seem to recognize the sin in all cultures, the HW advocates do not seem to recognize the amount of (common) grace in all cultures.

Bible, Tradition, and Culture
At this point, the reader will anticipate that I am about to unveil some grand "Third Way" between two extremes. Indeed, many posit a third approach called "blended worship." But it is not as simple as that. My major complaint is that both sides are equally simplistic...

Buy the book to read on

Tuesday, January 02, 2007