Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Greek Challenge

Ok, here's the deal. I am giving out a $15 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, Post your answers 1-40 below in the comments. Good luck!


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

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

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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.

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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