Thursday, August 30, 2007

Crucial Day 11 for Joe Keller, Good News!

From the Joe Keller Care Page.
We have so many things today to be thankful for! Our God is an awesome powerful God! He has revealed his mercy and grace and strength through his servant Joe today! He has shown how He can take a willing vessel and use him for HIS glory and honor!
This morning we received awesome news from Lisa (one of our great nurses). She said that she had rolled Joe over on his side this morning to clean him and move him around and when she rolled him back onto his back both of his eyes were wide open!!!!! They also turned the ventilator off at 9:30 this morning to see how he's doing as far as breathing on his own. It is now 4:10 and the ventilator is still off!!!!! Lisa said his breathing is looking great and they are going to keep it off for as long as they feel Joe is doing ok breathing on his own. She said they might turn it back on during the night so that he can have a little break...but they will decide that when the time comes! Joe has been squeezing our hands a lot and moving his left leg a lot...he's also been moving his toes even! When I was back there at the 2:30 visitation time I reached over and grabbed his left hand and told him that it was me. He then grabbed my wrist with his hand and was rubbing his thumb on my arm as if to tell me he's doing ok! He didn't let go for quite some time...just kept holding onto me! And I thought that was awesome...just wait... Brad and I later sang a Philips Craig and Dean song to him entitled "Your Grace Still Amazes me". Joe and I have sung this song together several times and we have even sung it with Rob and Brad also. Anyway while we were singing he was grabbing my mom's hand and rubbing her hand with his thumb. His right eye opened about half-way and he just layed there relaxing while we sang. When we got done singing...HE SMILED!!!!! I think my heart almost stopped! What an awesome sight to see a smile on his face! Especially after that song. The song chorus goes: "Your grace still amazes me, Your Love is still a mystery, Each day I fall on my knees, You grace still amazes me!" For Joe to be laying there in what most people would say is such a terrible condition and to smile at the words that God's grace is still amazing was just incredible!!!! What a great servant of our Lord! It was so great to see that smile! My mom was then talking to him after the song and while she was talking to him he smiled at her again!!!! Also whenever Jaime kisses him on the lips he puckers his lips up slightly!!!!!! The Joey that we all knew so well is still right there...and the God we have always known is still working!
Please continue to pray that his lungs stay strong and that they don't have to turn the ventilator back on. Also continue to pray about that lung infection...he still hasn't gotten over it yet...although I know God is taking care of that too! I pray that every time a nurse or doctor leaves Joe's room that they KNOW that there is something different going on there. That they KNOW that God is at work and that they can't attribute it to anything else!
Thank you all so much for your prayers and please don't stop now. We are seeing God's miraculous hand at work and I know He wants to do so much more! Also continue to pray for Renn his procedure was moved back to 2:00 and they are still in there with him right now. Should be finishing up soon with him. Pray that he comes through it just as strong as Joe has!
We love you all so very much and thank you all so much for your prayers! We'll continue to keep you updated!
-Justin Keller

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bock's Assessment on the Emerging Church

We have worked through the nine key traits of this movement with evaluations. So how does one sum it up? There are several strengths of this movement and several concerns about this movement... Read Bock's assessment

What is Postmodernism?

Continuing to try to answer this question... This from Lyotard Jean-Francois in The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, pg. 79

“What then, is the postmodern? What place does it or does it not occupy in the vertiginous work of the questions hurled at the rules of image and narration? It is undoubtedly a part of the modern. All that has been received, if only yesterday (modo, modo, Petronius used to say), must be suspected. What space does Cezanne challenge? The impressionists’. What object do Picasso and Braque attack? Cezanne’s. What presupposition does Dunchap break with in 1912? That which says one must make a painting, be it cubist. And Buren questions that other presupposition which he believes had survived untouched by the work of Duchamp: the place of presentation of the work. In an amazing acceleration, the generations precipitate themselves. A work can become modern only if it is first postmodern. Postmodernism thus understood is not modernism at its end but in the nascent state, and this state is constant.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Please Pray for Joe Keller

“Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Selah Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?” (Psalms 77:9-13 NIV)

Brad Keller has put together this video of Joe; check it out and remember to pray for Joe.

Visit Joe Keller's Care page for the most recent update., search JoeKellerCarePage.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A New Alignment?

"In 1987, two years before the Evangelical Affirmations conference, Kenneth Kantzer wrote:
Evangelicalism, as in the past, will present a cacophony of many voices. During the battles against liberalism, a common enemy held dissonant factions together. Yet this uneasy alliance seems unlikely to endure. Evangelicals will drift apart into two broad categories. The small group, more nebulous in doctrine and ethics, will seek rapprochement with the near-evangelicals so widely represented today in the top leadership of mainline denominations. The larger group, encompassing conservative evangelicals, both in and out of the mainline denominations, will join forces with the less truculent of the fundamentalists. On each side and in the middle, will significant groups that for one reason or another cannot quite stomach either group.

Kantzer was precisely right and wrong. He was right that evangelicals would split into two different parties. It is not at all certain that he was right, however, in the numerical distinctions he made between the smaller and the larger party. It may well be that the reformists will outnumber the orthodox evangelicals."

Quoted from "Reformed Evangelicalism: A Center Without a Circumference," by Albert Mohler as found in A Confessing Theology for Postmodern Times, edited by Michael Horton.

Sin and Grace, White Horse Inn

This is another great podcast from White Horse Inn.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Brian McLaren an atheist?

So what God does he believe in?

Mother Teresa in "Her own words"

"Where is my faith?" . . . "Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness. . . If there be God — please forgive me." . . . "Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal,"
"What do I labor for?" . . . "If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."

Excerpts taken from letter's written in her book as edited on CBS News (click to see full story).

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

ht: Provocations and Pantings

Thursday, August 23, 2007

White Horse Inn: Finney and American Revivalism

I mentioned this podcast before. It is from a Reformed perspective and often steps on dispensational toes, but is always interesting. I thought this podcast was worth a listen. It is especially interesting to see what Finney really stood for.

Click to download.

Planet Earth, as you've never seen it before

From Eucatastrophe, amazing...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

When Sinners Say I Do #2

From When Sinners Say I Do, by Dave Harvey
“Needs are not wrong; we all have them. They exist as daily reminders that we were created as dependent beings, in fundamental need of God and his provision for our lives. But maintaining a distinction between genuine needs and those needs invented by a self-indulgent culture is essential for a healthy marriage.

“Is it wrong to desire the gentle caress of a husband’s hand or the kind words from a wife’s tongue? Absolutely not. But even things that are good for a marriage can be corrupted if they are defined as needs. The problem is not that we desire—desire is completely nature; it’s that our desires become juiced with steroids. Calvin called our desires “inordinate.”

“It’s not wrong to desire appropriate things like respect or affection from our spouses. But it is very tempting to justify demands by thinking of them as needs and then to punish one another is those needs are not satisfied. A needs-based marriage does not testify to God’s glory; it is focused on personal demands competing for supremacy. Two people, preoccupied with manipulating each other to meet needs, can drive their marriage down the path of “irreconcilable differences.” This is cultural language that simply acknowledges that a marriage can no longer carry the weight of demands understood as needs.

“Perhaps though, the saddest part of driving down the road of unmet needs is where we end up. The road of unmet needs leads to nowhere. It is a forlorn, one-lane stretch of me. All it leads to is more of me. It’s worse than a dead end—it’s a road that never ends.

“But sinners who say “I do” have a different road to travel. It is the road of astonishing, undeserved grace—a grace so remarkable that is shows us the problem and then delivers the solution. Have you ever been on a scenic drive so beautiful that it was hard to keep your head from spinning from one vista to the next? The road of undeserved grace is like that. “

-Amy Hatfield

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wisdom from Perelandra

The woman is the Eve figure. The man is a traveler to Perelandra (young Venus) from Earth. To be young is to be naive and to be old is to know. Maleldil is the God-figure. This is a beautiful section especially as my thoughts have been considering suffering.

From Perelandra pg. 58-61
"Our Mother and Lady is dead," he said.
"What is dead?"
"With us they go away after a time. Maleldil takes the soul out of them and puts it somewhere else--in Deep Heaven, we hope. They call it death."
"Do not wonder, O Piebald Man, that your world should have been chosen for time's corner. You live looking out always on heaven itself, and as if this were not enough Maledil takes you all thither in the end. You are favoured beyond all worlds."
Ransom shook his head. "No. It is not like that," he said.
"I wonder," said the woman, "if you were sent here to teach us death."
"You don't understand," he said. "It is not like that. It is horrible. It has a foul smell. Maleldil Himself wept when He saw it." Both his voice and his facial expression were apparently new to her. He saw the shock, not the horror, of utter bewilderment, on her face for one instant and then, without effort, the ocean of her peace swallowed it up as if it had never been, and she asked him what he meant.
"You could never understand Lady," he replied. "But in our world not all events are pleasing or welcome. There may be such a thing that you would cut off both your arms and legs to prevent it happening--and yet it happens to us."
"But how can one wish any of those waves not to reach us which Maleldil is rolling towards us?"
Against his better judgment Ransom found himself goaded into argument.
"But even you," he said, "when you first saw me, I know now you were expecting and hoping that I was the King. When you found I was not, your face changed. Was that event not unwelcome? Did you not wish it to be otherwise?"
"Oh," said the Lady. She turned aside with her head bowed and her hands clasped in an intensity of thought. She looked up and said, "You make me grow older more quickly than I can bear," and walked a little farther off. Ransom wondered what he had done. It was suddenly borne in upon him that her purity and peace were not, as they had seemed, things settled and inevitable like the purity and peace of an animal--that they were alive and therefore breakable, a balance maintained by a mind and therefore, at least in theory, able to be lost. There is no reason why a man on a smooth road should lose his balance on a bicycle, but he could. There was no reason why she should step out of her happiness into the psychology of our own race; but neither was there any wall between to prevent her doing so. The sense of precariousness terrified him: but when she looked at him again he change that word to Adventure, and then all words died out of his mind. Once more he could not look steadily at her. He knew now what the old painters were trying to represent when they invented the halo. Gaiety and gravity together, a splendour as of martyrdom yet with no pain at all, seemed to pour from her countenance. Yet when she spoke her words were a disappointment.
"I have been so young till this moment that all my life now seems to have been in a kind of sleep. I have thought that I was being carried, and behold, I was walking."
Ransom asked what she meant.
"What you have made me see," answered the Lady, "is as plain as the sky, but I never saw it before. Yet it has happened every day. One goes into the forest to pick food and already the thought of one fruit rather than another has grown up in one's mind. Then, it may be, one finds a different fruit and not the fruit one thought of. One joy was expected and another is given. But this I had never noticed before--that the very moment of finding there is in the mind a kind of thrusting back, or setting aside. The picture of the fruit you have not found is still, for a moment, before you. And if you wished--if it were possible to wish--you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other."
Ransom interrupted. "That is hardly the same thing as finding a stranger when you wanted your husband."
"Oh, that is how I came to understand the whole thing. You and the King differ more than two kinds of fruit. The joy of finding him again and the joy of all the new knowledge I have had from you are more unlike than two tastes; and when the difference is as great as that, and each of the two things are so great, then the first picture does not stay in the mind quite a long time--many beats of the heart--after the good has come. And this, O Piebald, is the glory and wonder you have made me see; that it is I, I myself, who turn from the good expected to the given good. Out of my own heart I do it. One can conceive a heart which did not: which clung to the good it had first thought of and turned the good which was given it into no good."
"I don't see the wonder and the glory of it," said Ransom.
Her eyes flashed upon him in such a triumphant flight above his thoughts as would have been scorn in earthly eyes; but in that world it was not scorn.
"I thought," she said, "that I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent me drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when we go swimming. I feel as if I were living in that roofless world of yours where men walk undefended beneath naked heaven. It is a delight with terror in it! One's own self to be walking from one good to another, walking beside Him as Himself my walk, not even holding hands. How has He made me so separate from Himself? How did it enter His mind to conceive such a thing? The world is so much larger than I thought. I thought we went along paths--but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path."
"And you have no fear," said Ransom, "that it will ever be hard to run your heart from the thing you wanted to the thing Maleldil sends?
"I see," said the Lady presently. "the wave you plunge into may be very swift and great. You may need all your force to swim into it. You mean, He might send me a good like that?"
"Yes--or like a wave so swift and great that all your force is too little."
"It often happens that way in swimming," said the Lady. "Is not that part of the delight?"
"But are you happy without the King? Do you not want the King?"
"Want him?" she said. "How could there be anything I did not want?"
There was something in her replies that began to repel Ransom.
"You can't want him very much if you are happy without him," he said: and was immediately surprised at the sulkiness of his own voice.
"Why?" asked the Lady. "And why, O Piebald, are you making little hills and valleys in your forehead and why do you give a little life of your shoulders? Are these the signs of something in your world?"

Polishing God's Monuments

We've been thinking and praying for Joe Keller continually the last few days. He is the brother of Brad Keller who is a member of our small group. He was in a severe car accident and as a result has suffered extensive head injuries. Joe had just recently lost a baby to trisomy 13 three days after birth. He, a youth pastor, and his wife had been a powerful testimony to all those who had been involved. Now, it appears as though life has changed forever for Joe and Jaime. Following Joe's status with the updates we have been given it's clear the family has tremendous confidence in the greatness of God and his sovereignty. Please continue to remember the whole family in prayer.

In this context Challies reviewed a book which I thought I'd post called Polishing God's Monuments. This is a summary of the book:
Polishing God’s Monuments is the story of a young woman and her devoted husband who have faced a lifetime of mysterious, devastating illness. Written by Jim Andrews, the young woman’s father, the book intersperses narrative with teaching, experience with theology.

When she was young, just a senior at Wheaton Conservatory of Music, Juli Andrews contracted mononucleosis. Though mono is not usually a devastating or long-lasting illness, in Juli’s case it set in motion a bizarre series of events that culminated in her being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (now referred to as Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome) and eventually a horrifying accompanying disease known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. This is an affliction that causes some patients, and Juli among them, to become extremely sensitive to chemicals that do not bother most other people. Paul, Juli’s husband, contracted mononucleosis and then CFS at around the same time as his new wife. The young family was devastated.

Juli’s condition left her in terrible condition, unable to care for herself and often unable to do even the simplest things. Her chemical sensitivities rendered her unable to handle even the fainest smell of perfume or the chemicals used in inks and fabrics. Eventually she even developed extreme sensitivity to light, to the chlorine in water and even to the presence of electricity, leaving her lying day after day in the cold and the dark. Her disease left her unable to live even a semblance of a normal life for year after year. But through it all her husband tended to her, cared for her, and searched far and wide for something, anything, that might alleviate her condition.

This is the story Andrews tells in this book. A pastor for the last seventeen years and a seminary professor before that, the bulk of the narrative comes in the form of letters he wrote to his congregation to keep them updated on the drama of Juli’s life. But woven between these touching letters is straightforward theology—biblical reflections on the nature of suffering, the character of God, and the important discipline of looking to what God has done in the past to remind us of His faithfulness in the present and the future. That discipline, which Andrews refers to as “Polishing God’s Monuments,” gives title to the book.

This from Andrews:
So how do we keep the faith, sunny side up, in the face of this maddening mystery side of God? And how can we “recommend” a walk with God when, frankly, he seems to have abandoned us to wallow in our pain, to have shut his ears to our pleas, and to have heartlessly left the scene of the accident? What is an honest saint to do when God appears either indifferent or impotent?

This book confronts these issues head-on and offers believers in despair biblical perspective and practical direction that should reinvigorate the spirit of all who will regularly heed and apply them. It is about walking with God in times of trouble, about being tested to our socks, about what to do when extreme pressure threatens our very faith. And for illustrative purposes, it is about the multi-layered afflictions of a young woman, my younger daughter, and her devoted husband, who have faced it all (and then some) as a baffling, mind-boggling illness hijacked their youth and shattered their dreams.

Tim Challies says,
I simply can’t recommend Polishing God’s Monuments too highly. I wholeheartedly agree with Bruce Ware who writes, “To enter into this theological reflection on suffering is to accept the challenge to grow deeply in Christ, and to cherish the sure and certain promise of the gospel.” This book gripped my heart and helped me cherish the promises of the gospel like few books I’ve read recently. I commend it to you, trusting you will benefit from it as I have. Perhaps the greatest tribute I can render Polishing God’s Monuments is this: I read almost 300 pages about suffering and pain, yet closed the book with tears of joy in my eyes, rejoicing at the greatness of our sovereign and gracious God.

Polishing God’s Monuments is available at Westminster Books where you can also read the Introduction and first chapter. Amazon shoppers can find it here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

When Sinners Say I Do, #1

Yesterday, my four-year-old son accidentally spilled a full gallon of white paint down the carpeted stairs in our house. As I happened upon this mess, I thought of this quote from Dave Harvey's book When Sinners Say I Do . My response wasn't perfect but it was tempered by the realization that the idols in my heart were being exposed (my personal comfort, my desire for a perfect house, my plan to do something "profitable" with my day).
Not long ago, my son started the lawnmower with the oil cap loose. Once the engine heated up, the poor kid struck oil. And it was a geyser! Since I don't change the oil often (read: never), a slimy black sludge erupted from the engine, covering the lawnmower, my son, and everything within a six-foot radius. (It's because of stuff like this that I don't cut grass.)

This might be a helpful illustration for understanding the operation of remaining sin. Original sin filled the "engine" of our hearts with the "oil" of depravity--dark, greasy, and staining everything it touches. Circumstances come along and heat the engine. When the engine is hot--when events in our lives test our hearts by stirring anger, lust, greed, etc.--whatever is in the engine spews out. The heat (the circumstances did not fill the engine with oil, it simply revealed what was in the engine.

Experienced any heat lately?...

Have you ever considered why there are no accounts of Jesus slamming a door in angry frustration or inflicting the "silent treatment" on someone who hurt him? Why didn't Jesus get irritated or bitter or hostile? The simple but astounding answer is that when his engine was heated by circumstances, what was in his heart came out: love, mercy, compassion, kindness, Christ didn't respond sinfully to the circumstances in his life--even an undeserved, humiliating, torturous death--because the engine of his heart was pure. What was in his heart spilled over. It was love!

I should have thought to take a "before clean-up picture". This was after about an hour-and-a-half with a Rug Doctor. - Amy Hatfield

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Porn Myth

Read the article
At a benefit the other night, I saw Andrea Dworkin, the anti-porn activist most famous in the eighties for her conviction that opening the floodgates of pornography would lead men to see real women in sexually debased ways. If we did not limit pornography, she argued—before Internet technology made that prospect a technical impossibility—most men would come to objectify women as they objectified porn stars, and treat them accordingly. In a kind of domino theory, she predicted, rape and other kinds of sexual mayhem would surely follow.
She was right about the warning, wrong about the outcome. As she foretold, pornography did breach the dike that separated a marginal, adult, private pursuit from the mainstream public arena. The whole world, post-Internet, did become pornographized. Young men and women are indeed being taught what sex is, how it looks, what its etiquette and expectations are, by pornographic training—and this is having a huge effect on how they interact.

But the effect is not making men into raving beasts. On the contrary: The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as “porn-worthy.” Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention.

Fundamentalists, the Antithesis, and Spray Cheese

Rick Phillips
But the fourth reason is the one I really want to talk about. The fundamentalists get the idea of antithesis. Undoubtedly, there are things we disagree about, such as the doctrines of grace. (We candidly discussed this with the principal and I am not too concerned about my kids having Finney shoved down their throats in elementary school Bible classes -- but I will be watching.) But I find in general that the fundamentalists get the idea that the Bible really is the Word of God and that our only salvation is in the blood of Christ. There is no talk about postmodern hermeneutics among the fundamentalists. They believe the Bible is the Word of God because it says so, and so do I. They believe that men, women, and children are sinners who must believe in the cross in order to be saved. There is no talk of alternative theories of the atonement with them. They understand that the church must stand out against the world, that holiness is our calling, and that Christians are to witness to the lost. Amen, amen, and amen. They get the Christian antithesis, that light has shined in the darkness and that we are to walk in the light and shine the light into the darkness.

Carl Truman's Response

An overwhelming emphasis on antithesis creates a situation where others are only ever critiqued, not learned from, while we remain blissfully above correction. That's cultic and it's Gnosticism, and the Reformed world currently contains a couple of scary examples of exactly this kind of thinking and church life. It's also not what Calvin talks about in Inst. 1.1 (note the oft forgotten qualification there of `nearly all knowledge.' Further, modestly acknowledging situatedness does not demand postmodern relativism -- I'm a vigorous opponent of postmodern methods in my own discipline of history but spend most of my time when discussing documents in class in setting the cultural context; but to apply notions of antithesis, as fundamentalists often do, makes acknowledgment of context a very difficult thing. It can in fact be used in such a way as to justify a form of Gnostic empiricism and in effect to say `everyone else has tradition, we just have the truth' is a problem. It could be better translated as `We have a tradition like everyone else, but we're not going to write it down so that it cannot be critiqued by you or anybody else.'

Sean Michael Lucas' comments

If you think about this in terms of the Reformed world, I think you get a good sense of the divide that sometimes characterizes us and it is a leftover of the Kuyperian legacy--there are those who stress the "antithesis" and those who stress "common grace."

Those who stress "common grace" tend to want to engage the culture and seek its transformation. They want to read current novels, watch the current movies, listen to the current music and find continuing echoes of Eden. They want to produce art that reflects honestly the brokenness of the world as well as the possibility of redemption, science that affirms the purposefulness of all creation, history that looks unflinchingly and critically, yet hopefully, at its subjects, politics that seeks proximate love and justice. And they want to do these things as part of God's work of redemption in this present age, knowing that God's grace has gone before them in these various spheres.

Those who stress the "antithesis" note that the world has never been a safe place for Christians and the church (Matthew 5:10-12; John 16:33) and that the world itself is passing away (1 Cor 7:33; 1 John 2:17). As a result, they want to name the world as "the world" (to use Stanley Hauerwas' memorable way of putting it) and only the church in the preaching of the Gospel can do that. They want to take seriously the noetic effects of sin, the continuing reality of the world's brokenness, the continued influence of the devil in the world, the real temptations of power and influence and their corrupting nature upon the church. Above all, they want to maintain the "holiness" of the church (remember, it is the one holy catholic and apostolic church, they would say) and the purity of the its doctrine (not just peace and unity, but purity of the church is in the PCA ordination vows).

Where'd All These Calvinists Come From, Mark Dever

Mark Dever has worked up a ten part series explaining where all the Calvinists are coming from.

When Sinners Say I Do

My daughter and I watched a movie this week that ended with those famous fairy tale words "and they lived happily ever after." I felt compelled to ask her, "Do you think they really lived happily ever after? Do you think they ever fought with each other? Do you think the princess ever sinned?" Cinderella-type stories always end at the wedding. We are not given the opportunity to find out how the princess and the prince relate when it comes to toothpaste tubes and dirty socks. Recently I finished reading a book that starts where Cinderella left off. When Sinners Say I Do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage is an excellent new marriage resource by Dave Harvey, pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA. In this book, the author exposes the root problem in most marital conflict--that each spouse is still a sinner. In reality, this book is not simply about marriage; it's about relationships between any two fundamentally flawed people. In marriage, as in any earthly relationship, it is the realization of the horrific and deadly nature of our sin that allows us to experience the glory God's grace and power to change. Dave Harvey spends the first half of this book unpacking the baggage that we carry into marriage, usually revealed quickly, often even on the honeymoon. Contrary to what many current marriage books propose, the "baggage" that we carry into marriage is not love tank needing to be filled, but a sinful nature unable to see beyond our own selves, much less capable of meeting an other's emotional "needs". He teaches spouses to inspect themselves, suspect themselves, and recognize the self-righteousness that allows us to act as prosecutor, judge, and jury. Most of us, as marriage partners are incredibly good at justifying our actions and attitudes, but this focus on sin is the most important part of the book because, as Harvey notes, "when sin becomes bitter, marriage becomes sweet." The second half of the book is God's refreshing answer to our dilemma. Sweet marriage is possible because of the gospel, because of mercy, because of forgiveness. When Sinners Say I Do is chock-full of great quotes and illustrations. I'll share a few here in the next few days.
- Amy Hatfield

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Book Recommendation: Why Small Groups?

This book has been very beneficial to our small group ministry at Saylorville. If you don't want to do them just to do them, get this book to help you develop a proper theology of sanctification within the body of Christ.

Bring the Buried Back to Life, Check out the Archives

I was revisiting this from the archives today because I have to give back Thus Spoke Zarathustra to the person I borrowed it from today. The book is worth a read.

They are organized on the sidebar.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Justified in Christ, Ferguson on New Perspective

{ht: Justin Taylor}

Read it here.
"It has been implied and sometimes stated by adherents of the New Perspective that the Reformers were mistaken in virtually equating the Judaizers who plagued the church with the “salvation without grace” teaching they saw in late medieval church life. But this seriously misconstrues if not misrepresents the historical situation.

In fact the late medieval church was almost obsessed with grace – and how the individual gets “more” of it by doing what he can. The Reformers well understood that Roman Catholic theology did not outright deny the necessity of grace. Rather they recognized that the “grace” referred to was really not grace at all – since its reception was so conditioned on a man’s good works. To
say “grace” is by no means the same thing as to understand or teach “grace.” One should never be misled by the regular occurrence of the word “grace” into assuming that a biblical understanding of grace is well understood.

The result of this – paradoxically – is that at times one has the impression that the New Perspective fails to notice a strikingly similar phenomenon in Second Temple Judaism, or glosses over it when it appears: the use of the language of “grace,” when in context the “grace” in view is conditioned on man. It is in fact compromised grace, not true grace. It turns out, after all, that while the pattern of the Old Testament’s teaching is that fellowship with God is by pure grace, that grace is at times greatly dis-graced in the rabbinical literature, as it frequently was in the history of the covenant people. Even the notion that the reason Yahweh is so gracious to his poor people is because they have suffered so much turns out to be grace compromised by its conditionalism: there is a reason to be found in man to “explain” why, or to whom, God is gracious. But true grace cannot thus be qualifi ed without being distorted."

Listen to a lecture on the issue.