Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Scripture for the Day

From my reading this morning:
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'"
1 Peter 1:13-16

The logic is, to set one's hope on the grace of Jesus Christ is logically connected with preparing for action. This hope of future grace is also connected with not setting one's hope in the passions of past ignorance. That is, to have hope in Christ is not to have hope in worldly desires. Finally, this hope purposes to result in holiness according to the standard of God's holiness.

We see that hope for obedience is grounded in the hope of grace from Christ. Obedience consists of not being driven by worldly passion, but 'to be holy'. And our clue to what holiness is seems to be answered by the context: love for the brethren (1:22), putting away of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander (2:1). Furthermore, the oposite of holiness is again said to be "the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul." (2:11)

The point is holiness is primarily an internal war, and one that is won by setting one's hope on Jesus Christ. Future grace is all over the new testament...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quotable: After Virtue

As much as I love Piper (quite a bit), and as big a difference as he has had in my life (probably as much or more than anyone), this is the biggest potential weakness I can see to the application of Christian Hedonism.
On the one hand Kant rejects the view that the test of a proposed maxim is whether obedience to it would in the end lead to the happiness of a rational being. Kant has no doubt that all men do indeed desire happiness; and he has no doubt that the highest good conceivable is that of the individual's moral perfection crowned by the happiness which it merits. But he nonetheless believes that our conception of happiness is too vague and shifting to provide a moral guide.

After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre

It's not a weakness that cannot be overcome; but it is vitally important to instruct people that happiness is not our moral guide, the revealed will of God is and we trust that will bring us happiness ultimately.

(As a postscript, it really is not a weakness in what Piper says, but in how he is interpreted.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Hate Fake Fires


There's really nothing interesting or romantic about sitting in front of a gas fireplace. No smells, no crackling...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Unexplained Justice

For those who interpret the 'suffering servant' of Isaiah (53) as referring to Israel, another meaning emerges for the suffering of Israel. It is not punishment for their sins but rather atonement for the sins of others. The justness of such a vicarious suffering remains unexplained in the Bible.

"Reward and Punishment," The Encyclopedia of Judaism, Geoffrey Wigoder ed.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Expository Exaltation

It has to be true that the height of deception with regard to bad exegetical work is to make God look diminished. Yell or whisper, with a manuscript or post its. But don't you dare make God look small. If you missed this, you've missed the meaning of the passage.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Trapped in Neverland

I waste a lot of time reading a lot of different stuff when I should be reading more from Carl Trueman. This is a great article, an apt warning.
Today is so different. If the poverty and hard work of my grandfather's era left men middle-aged at thirty, the ease and trivia of today's society seems to leave us trapped in a permanent Neverland where we all, like so many Peter (and Patty) Pans, live lives of eternal youth. Where my grandfather spent his day hard at work, trying - sometimes desperately - to make enough money to put bread on the table and shoes on his children's feet, today many have time to play X-Box and video games, or warble on and on incessantly in that narcissistic echo-chamber that is the blogosphere. The world of my grandfather was evil because it made him grow up too fast; the world of today is evil because it prevents many from ever growing up at all.

...
The answer, then, is not a naïve, nostalgic hankering for a return to an era of poverty and cruel hardship. Rather it is surely obvious: we need to put aside childish things and start acting like adults. Pascal put his finger on the problem of human life when he saw how entertainment had come to occupy a place, not as the necessary and momentary relief from a life of work, but as an end in itself.

Saylorville Baptist Men's Retreat Audio Online



We had an great time at the Saylorville Baptist Church Men's Retreat with people from Saylorville, Lakeside Fellowship, and Living Waters Fellowship. Randy Gaumer was there and his messages were excellent. They are now online. Click to listen:
Session 1
Session 2
Session 3

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Book Recommendation

I'm not sure that I have read a book recently that has so profoundly moved me. I'm only 70 pages in, but have highlighted at least once on every page. This is proof for any reflective person that there's someone out there that understands you, but more, challenges you to act.

The Myth of Certainty, Daniel Taylor

The Digitization of Sinaiticus and its Media Beepbop

ht: Justin Taylor

Nicholas Perrin on a BBC story, 'The Oldest Bible':
According to the online Urban Dictionary, the word 'beepbop' is not really a word at all: it is a nonsense word to be used only when you want to really annoy someone. In that case, the British Broadcasting Corporation, otherwise known as the BBC, or more affectionately as 'the Beeb', has aired its own sort of 'beepbop' in its coverage of the digitization of the Codex Sinaiticus. Roger Bolton's October 6 story, 'The Oldest Bible', which premiered on Radio 4, might in fact be a textbook example of 'beepbop' nonsense, intended in this case to provoke Bible-believing Christians. Of course, I understand that journalists often have a goal of taking what are otherwise mundane news items and spicing them up, even sensationalizing them. But the Beeb has a problem here. You cannot position yourself as one of the most reputable and responsible news organizations in the world and at the same time go public with a piece like this one.

Read the whole article

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Constantine and the Council of Nicaea

“My dear,” Teabing declared, “until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet…a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.”

“Not the Son of God?”

“Right,” Teabing said. “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicæa.”

“Hold on. You’re saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?”

“A relatively close vote at that,” Teabing added. “Nonetheless, establishing Christ’s divinity was critical to the further unification of the Roman empire and to the new Vatican power base. By officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a deity who existed beyond the scope of the human world, an entity whose power was unchallengeable. This not only precluded further pagan challenges to Christianity, but now the followers of Christ were able to redeem themselves only via the established sacred channel—the Roman Catholic Church.”


Dan Brown makes so enormous claims in his book The Da Vinci Code. So do they square with the historical record? This paper walks through the major church histories to examine his claims.

Constantine and the Council of Nicaea

Friday, October 31, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bauder on Pillsbury

Ht: Andy Naselli

Earlier this week Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, a fundamentalist college in Owatonna, Minnesota, published this announcement:
The Pillsbury Baptist Bible College Board of Trustees has announced that the college will cease academic activities on December 31, 2008. National economic conditions combined with deficits caused by declining enrollment have exhausted Pillsbury’s financial reserves, leaving the college without funds to complete the school year.

Pillsbury is committed to help current students complete their educational goals. Several sister institutions are working with the college to facilitate the transfer of credits and academic programs for those who choose to transfer.

Pillsbury will invite college representatives from sister schools to the campus to inform students of the academic and financial assistance programs they are making available to Pillsbury students affected by the closure.

The Registrar’s Office and Financial Aid Office will assist current students transferring to other colleges. Transcripts and academic records will be maintained for perpetuity at a sister college. The campus will be sold and the proceeds used to meet obligations to creditors as well as assist faculty, staff and students with the transition.


Kevin Bauder’s essay this week is entitled “Reflections upon Hearing the Announcement.” Here are some significant excerpts:
In a way, Pillsbury Baptist Bible College is a microcosm of what is happening within institutional fundamentalism everywhere. The fundamentalist movement has never been really cohesive, but during the past decade it has shown significant deterioration. Whether the overall numbers of fundamentalists are increasing or decreasing is hard to say. What is clear is that the mainstream of historic fundamentalism is dwindling.

The question is not whether fundamentalism is collapsing. The question is how we should respond to the collapse. More fundamentally, the question is how we should even be thinking about these events. What ought to occur to us first is that God does not need fundamentalism. . . . We ought humbly to recognize that God’s work in the world is much larger than institutional fundamentalism. Some days I wonder whether all of fundamentalism put together accounts for more than a footnote in the book of God’s present dealing with humanity. Much as we might prefer to think otherwise, wisdom will not die with us.

Not all of fundamentalism is worth saving. Fundamentalist structures have not infrequently been used to perpetrate abuses or to perpetuate silliness. If those districts of the fundamentalist movement were to disappear, we would be none the worse.

The fundamentalism that I value is not essentially a movement or a collection of institutions. It is an idea. It is a good idea, even a great idea.
If we are going to talk about saving fundamentalism, then let us be clear that the thing we need to save is the idea. All of our associations, colleges, seminaries, mission agencies, preachers’ fellowships, networks, alignments, and coalitions are of value only to the extent that they maintain and perpetuate the idea. If they are not propagating the idea, then let them perish.

This much is clear: nobody ever was simply a fundamentalist. Every fundamentalist has also been something else, and that “something else” has defined the quality of every variety of fundamentalism.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Arcing: a tool to read good and not use the Bible like a magic book

Germaine to other discussions:

John Piper:
It was a life-changing revelation to me when I discovered that Paul, for example, did not merely make a collection of divine pronouncements, but that he argued. This meant, for me, a whole new approach to Bible reading. No longer did I just read or memorize verses. I sought also to understand and memorize arguments. This involved finding the main point of each literary unit and then seeing how each proposition fit together to unfold and support the main point. (Biblical Exegesis: Discovering the Meaning of Scriptural Texts, pg. 18, my emphasis)

If you want to learn this method of biblical interpretation (which works especially well in Pauline texts), there is now a website devoting to the art of biblical arcing.

HT: Johnathon Bowers

Really Sorry...

But I couldn't resist. Rod Dreher is on fire: 1 2 3

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

When Love Goes to Sleep

When our loves goes to sleep, we grow cold and unfeeling toward people. We love material possessions and person comforts more than people. We love our work more than people. We become bitter toward people because our feelings have been hurt. We become weary in serving, selfish, ungrateful people and become content to show love only to those who are agreeable to us. We become lazy and complacent about love. We neglect our duty to love the unlovely and the disagreeable. Like the priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, we become apathetic to the suffering of others.

...
So when you sense your love falling to sleep, take corrective action immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to awaken the spirit of love. Turn to the Scriptures and let them revive your sleepy soul. Pray for a fresh awakening of gratitude for the free grace of God and for the costly sacrifice of Christ at Calvary's cross. Pray earnestly that the Lord would fill you anew with the first fruit of the Spirit which is love (Gal. 5:22; Eph 5:18). Repent of any sin that dulls your love for God or his people. Stop thinking about yourself so much. Follow the great examples of those who have modeled the life of love God desires. Remind yourself of your first Christian duty to love God and neighbor. Start doing outward acts of love for others and pray that soon the desire and joy of loving others will follow.

Alexander Strauch, Love or Die, pg. 62-63

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Piper on Charles Simeon

He grew downward in humiliation before God, and he grew upward in his adoration of Christ.

Handley Moule captures the essence of Simeon's secret of longevity in this sentence: "'Before honor is humility,' and he had been 'growing downwards' year by year under the stern discipline of difficulty met in the right way, the way of close and adoring communion with God" (Moule, 64). Those two things were the heartbeat of Simeon's inner life: growing downward in humility and growing upward in adoring communion with God.

But the remarkable thing about humiliation and adoration in the heart of Charles Simeon is that they were inseparable. Simeon was utterly unlike most of us today who think that we should get rid once and for all of feelings of vileness and unworthiness as soon as we can. For him, adoration only grew in the freshly plowed soil of humiliation for sin. So he actually labored to know his true sinfulness and his remaining corruption as a Christian.

-John Piper, The Roots of Endurance

ht: Zach Dietrich

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blogging

A particularly fitting picture for 10,000 site hit. Proof that you to can start a blog that only you and your sister read and get to 10,000 hits.

Palin

A rare political post, but this was really interesting to me. As cited by Rod Dreher from David Brooks:
[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he'd rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn't think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Quotes on the Church

When the world thinks you are worthless, no one can build you up as well as a church family can. No one is more likely to pick you up when you fall than those who share in the forgiveness of God with you. No one will listen more patiently and compassionately to the stories of your pain than the people of God in the church. No one will pray for God to heal you or guide you or provide for you as will the church. No one will stick by you when you are alone as the family of God will. No one will help you when you are in trouble or in need as those with whom you have koinonia."
Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church, Donald S. Whitney

The Christian is not meant to be, nor called to be, a radical and solitary romantic, wandering in isolated loneliness through the world; rather, the Christian is called to be a member of a community."

Spirituality in an Age of Change, Alister McGrath

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Good Word for Today

Josh Daggett shared this with me this morning:

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
1Peter 5:5-6 ESV

It is a frightening thing to consider that when I am proud God actively opposes me. But when I am humble (remembering my need for the gospel), instead of actively opposing me he is there to give grace on top of the grace he has already given, grace to desire and to carry out his will (Phil 2:13). Oh, how I need to receive grace from God’s hand today! Oh for humility!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pray for Love

The secret of the early Christians, the early Protestants, Puritans, and Methodists was that they were taught about the love of Christ, and they became filled with a knowledge of it. Once a man has the love of Christ in his heart you need not train him to witness; he will do it. He will know the power, the constraint, the motive; everything is already there. It is a plain lie to suggest that people who regard this knowledge of the love of Christ as the supreme thing are useless, unhealthy mystics. The servants of God who have most adorned the life and the history of the Christian Church have always been men who have realized that this is the most important thing of all, and they have spent hours in prayer seeking His face and enjoying His love. The man who knows the love of Christ in his heart can do more in one hour than the busy type of man can do in a century. God forbid that we should ever make of activity an end in itself. Let us realize that the motive must come first, and that the motive must ever be the love of Christ.

D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 253: cited in Love or Die by Alexander Strauch, pg. 35

I bow my knees before the Father...that...he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, ... that you...may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth (of Christ's love), and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. (Eph. 3:14-19)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Woship: What's the Issue?

Perhaps my favorite part of a football game is when a defender who is totally fooled by a quarterback will come crashing through the line of scrimmage to tackle the running back only to find out he never had the ball. The quarterback had it all along. The defender has put an incredible amount of effort into his goal only to realize he totally missed the point. Those who would pour forth incredible amounts of effort into arguments over musical styles in the worship wars are much like this defender, they miss the point.

The Pharisees asked Jesus in Matthew 22 which was the greatest commandment of the law. He responded by quoting The Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4, which says, "Hear, O Israel, The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." Jesus's response to this is significant for two reasons: 1) I think he was making a statement about the Pharisees and 2) I think he was making a statement about the nature of faith, the true core of the Deuteronomic law.

First, Jesus was making a statement about the heart condition of the Pharisees. When one goes through the New Testament record of Jesus's interaction with the Pharisees, the volume and tone of his harsh words against them are overwhelming. They were the religious crowd of the day. And they would have expected Jesus to be pleased with them. Many of them had large portions (if not all) of the first five books of the Bible memorized. Doctrinally, they would be the "supernaturalists", the ones who believed in the resurrection and angels. As for practicing what they preached, they kept the law so exactly that they even tithed on their spice rack. Yet, it is clear from Mark 7 what Jesus thought of their 'religion': "And he said to them, 'Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;' ' " Jesus was saying that 'keeping of the law' was more than simply doing what it said, or believing what it wanted them to believe. He summarizes toward the end of Mark 7:

And he said to them, "Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."


The condition of their hearts was of supreme importance to Christ, that is, what they loved. The Pharisees did many good deeds, but they had little love for God. They may have quoted the Shema twice a day, but they did not heed its words. They loved the recognition of men, but they loved God very little. The Pharisees missed the point.

Second, I think Jesus was making a statement about the nature of Biblical faith. Paul makes a very interesting statement in Romans 10 where he quotes Moses to be speaking of a righteousness that is based on faith. There are debates surrounding the full extent of what Paul was saying with the quote, but the point seems clear, Paul thought Moses was talking about a righteousness by faith. Throughout Deuteronomy (Deut 6:4-6, 10:12, 11:13, 30:6 for example) the heart of the matter from Moses is that the nation would "love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live" (Deut 30:6). My point is that The Shema (Deut 6:4) is not only the center of all the Old Testament law, but it is also at the center of what Jesus meant when he said "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." When Moses said love, he was saying faith (Romans 10:6). When we say faith, we should be thinking love. It is at the center of what it means to be a Christian. And the worship wars miss the point because they center their discussion on style and form rather than on what God is seeking, true worshipers (John 4:24), those who love him with all their heart, soul, and might. The point is, are you a worshipper? Do you love him, or merely act like you do?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Preaching Notes Series

These are really interesting:

Mark Dever
Mike Bullmore
C.J. Mahaney
Ray Ortlund, Jr.
Tim Keller
Mark Driscoll

They are copies of the preaching notes from well known pastors. You have to look at Mark Driscoll's... He preached for an hour. Here were Joshua Harris' comments.

=======================================

When I originally asked Mark to participate by sharing his preaching notes he declined. So I asked him again. He sent the following email explaining his initial reluctance as well as his unique approach to notes. Mark writes,

Josh, I have hesitated to send you my preaching notes because...they're usually aren't any. When I do a topical sermon there are some. But, when I'm working through a text of the Bible I pretty much scratch a few words on a sticky tab and maybe in pencil put a few words in the margin and get up and go for an hour-ish. Most of the jokes, cross references, illustrations etc. are made up on the spot while preaching. In that way I'm pretty Spirit lead. I study a ton going in to fill up, and then get up and preach it out. This is a copy of my Bible from my latest sermon on the first half of Jesus High Priestly Prayer in John 17. I used about half the stuff on the sticky notes and preached for about an hour. I would not commend anyone to preach this way as it's the pastoral equivalent to driving blindfolded—exciting but dangerous. So, for what it's worth here it is.


I agree with Mark's encouragement not to follow his example in this regard. And that's not because I don't believe in the leading of the Holy Spirit. But I think Mark is uniquely gifted and has an ability to absorb and recall great amounts of what he has studied. I for one, don't have this same ability. I say this only because I don't want any young preachers to get up to preach with two sticky notes either having not studied and prepared enough or, lacking Mark's ability to remember what they studied, to fall on their face and then blame the Holy Spirit. Repeat after me, "I am not Mark Driscoll."

Here's a PDF of two pages of Mark's Bible and the accompanying sticky notes. And here's the audio recording of the sermon he preached from them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Groothuis nails it

Blog, bog
Blather,
Banter,
Bluster.

Instant post,
Inane joust,
Insane pounce.

Nameless names
naming nothing as
something--quickly.

Hit and run,
Post and hum.
Spam the crowd
Say it loud.

Blog, bog:
gather data;
data unlimited;
uncontrolled data.
Dada data.

Knowledge,
Where art thou?
Ignorance hidden by
blogspot fig leaves.

Fiction, the diction
of data in motion
without potion or
solution.

Blog bog;
data smog.

Doug Groothuis

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Quotable Lewis

And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.

C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory, pg. 31

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Palin and Complementarianism


This is a good article and a valid question for complementarians.

In response to:
It is an uncomfortable fact that many of the theologically conservative Christians who have endorsed Palin’s nomination would not be willing to endorse her or any other woman for service as pastor of their church. Women cannot serve as pastors in groups such as the Churches of Christ, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church in America, most non-denominational Bible churches, and an influential advocacy group called the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW).” - David Gushee

Link: Denny Burk

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All My People, All the Time

Some great thoughts from the preface to Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, by Paul David Tripp.
What God has ordained for his church is both wonderful and sobering. It is wonderful because he is a jealous and determined God. His work in his people will not fail, but will continue until it is completed. It is sobering because this work follows an 'all my people, all of the time' model.

Many of us would be relieved if God had placed our sanctification in the hands of trained and paid professionals, but that simply is not the biblical model. God's plan is that through the faithful ministry of every part, the whole body will grow to full maturity in Christ. The leaders of his church have been gifted, positioned, and appointed to train and mobilize the people of God for this 'every person, everyday' ministry lifestyle.

The paradigm is simple: when God calls you to himself, he also calls you to be his servant, and instrument in his redeeming hands. All of his children are called into ministry, and each of them needs the daily intervention this ministry provides. If you followed the Lord for a thousand years, you would still need the ministry of the body of Christ as much as you did the day you first believed. This need will remain until our sanctification is complete in Glory.

That is what this book is about: how God uses people, who are themselves in need of change, as instruments of the same kind of change in others. This book's goal is not just that people's lives would be changed as they give help and receive it. The goal is to change the church's very culture.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hillbilly Worship Leader

A little back story on this one. We were eating dinner at Mark and Crystal Vance's house and my amazing wife made some fabulous scotcheroos. They were awesome but I had put them into the freezer for just about 30 minutes to cool them down so they were just a tad hard. When Mark bit into one the glue broke from his bridge on his front teeth so the teeth actually stayed in the scotheroo. That was funny enough, but then we got to talking about when he was going to get it fixed and if in the meantime while he was leading music for church it would fall out and he'd have to lead hillbilly style... hence what is below...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You'd cry too if it happened to you

From Zach Dietrich

This is a great article Zach sent me:

We have so much more than mom and dad that we can’t help but feel defensive about feeling so bad, and paying off our charge cards so late, and being found in the den surfing from channel to channel at 3 a.m., staring back at Brian Lamb’s eyes.

And there’s this: We know that we suffer—and we get no credit for it! Sometimes we feel the bitterness of the generation that fought World War I, but we cannot write our memoirs and say “good-bye to all that,” cannot tell stories of how our boots rotted in the mud, cannot deflect the neighborhood praise and be modest as we lean against the bar. They don’t know we’re brave. They don’t know we fight in trenches too.

I find myself thinking of Auden’s words about the average man in 1939, as darkness gathered over Europe—the “sensual man-in-the-street,” barely aware of his emptiness, who promised that he will be “true to the wife,” that some day he will be happy and good.

Auden called his era the “age of anxiety.” I think what was at the heart of the dread in those days, just a few years into modern times, was that we could tell we were beginning to lose God—banishing him from the scene, from our consciousness, losing the assumption that he was part of the daily drama, or its maker. And it is a terrible thing when people lose God. Life is difficult and people are afraid, and to be without God is to lose man’s great source of consolation and coherence. There is a phrase I once heard or made up that I think of when I think about what people with deep faith must get from God: the love that assuages all.

I don’t think it is unconnected to the boomers’ predicament that as a country we were losing God just as they were being born.

At the same time, a huge revolution in human expectation was beginning to shape our lives, the salient feature of which is the expectation of happiness.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Constantine About the Arian Heresy

This contention has not arisen respecting any important command of the law, nor has any new opinion been introduced with regard to the worship of God; but you both entertain the same sentiments, so that you may join in one communion. It is thought to be not only indecorous, but altogether unlawful, that so numerous a people of God should be governed and directed at your pleasure, while you are thus emulously contending with each other, and quarrelling about small and very trifling matters."


From a letter to Alexander and Arius, Eusebius, pg. 37, The Council of Nice

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Listen to Christ in Mark 7

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash* their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash.* And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.*) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God)*— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”* And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”* (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:1-23 ESV

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"Free-Floating Morality"


In many cases I have put on my philosophy-professor hat in order to be a good pastor to people. A young couple once came to me for some spiritual direction. They 'didn't believe in much of anything' they said. How could they begin to figure out if there was even a God? I asked them to tell me about something they felt was really wrong. The woman immediately spoke out against practices that marginalized women. I said I agreed with her fully since I was a Christian who believed God made all human beings, but I was curious why she thought it was wrong. She responded, 'Women are human beings and human beings have rights. It is wrong to trample on someone's rights.' I asked her how she knew that.

Puzzled, she said, 'Everyone knows it is wrong to violate the rights of someone.' I said, 'Most people in the world don't 'know' that. They don't have a Western view of human rights. Imagine if someone said to you 'everyone knows that women are inferior.' You'd say, 'That's not an argument, it's just an assertion.' And you'd be right. So let's start again. If there is no God as you believe and everyone has just evolved from animals, why would it be wrong to trample on someone's rights?' Her husband responded: 'Yes, it is true that we are just bigger-brained animals, but I'd say animals have rights too. You shouldn't trample on their rights, either.' I asked whether he had held animals guilty for violating the rights of other animals if the stronger ones ate the weaker ones. 'No, I couldn't do that.' So he only held human beings guilty if they trampled on the weak? 'Yes.' Why this double standard, I asked. Why did the couple insist that human beings had to be different from animals, so that they were not allowed to act as was natural to the rest of the animal world. Why did the couple keep insisting that humans had this great, unique individual dignity and worth? Why did they believe in human rights? 'I don't know,' the woman said, 'I guess they are just there, that's all.'

The conversation was much more congenial than this very compressed account conveys. The young couple laughed at the weakness of some of their responses, which showed me that they were open to exploration and that encouraged me to be more pointed than I would ordinarily have been. However, this conversaiton reveals how our culture differs from all others that have gone before. People still have strong moral convictions, but unlike people in other times and places, they don't have any visible basis for why they find somethings to be evil and other things to be good. It's almost like their moral intuitions are free-floating in midair--far off the ground.

From A Reason for God, Tim Keller, pg. 144-45

Friday, August 29, 2008

Commending and Welcoming Radical Risk-Takers for Christ

In light of the tremendous body of moving, working, risk-taking people that have joined our core group this message reminded me of you all.

Listen especially to the section about Prisca and Aquilla.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Kissed Dating Goodbye at Boston University

This is pretty amazing

The Goodness of Knowing Our Badness

From Desiring God
From Rousseau to the Tom and Jerry Cartoons, Wheaton English Professor, Alan Jacobs, traces a “cultural history” of Original Sin, the name of his recent 304 page book. The most auspicious and provocative lines in Matt Jenson’s review in Books and Culture are these:
Original sin's deniers like to claim that the doctrine does bad things, or at least discourages us from doing good things. It deals death. So they tell us. But over and over in Jacobs' account, we meet well-intentioned characters, only to find their happier, gentler anthropologies turning sour, leading to (or at least abetting) anarchy, eugenics, despair. Perhaps the greatest irony in this history is the discovery that knowledge of original sin gives life—by revealing us to ourselves, yes, but also by grounding a sense of universal human kinship.... Truly a revolutionary thought—that the roots of our common humanity might be found, not in our dignity or even our potential, but in our depravity.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Recovering Theological Hermeneutics



An interesting work in which Zimmerman appeals to the premodern hermeneutics of the Reformation (and earlier) to show its answers to the modern hermeneutical debate. He does so by "reclaiming its (hermeneutics) original grounding in an incarnational ontology that defines 'being' by the reality of Jesus Christ and the relation of Father, Son, and Spirit (Vanhoozer)." Here's an excerpt. . .
"Modern fundamentalists who react against this so-called liberal theology unfortunately proceed from the same assumption as the 'enemy,' namely, that a text can have only one meaning but many possible applications, which can never become normative. Premodern interpreters by contrast possessed superior interpretive concepts, such as progressive revelation and typology, and were more keenly aware of the multiple layers of textual meanings. Their view of God's word as a vehicle of typological exegesis, the idea of sensus plenior, and the analogy of faith renders fundamentalist notions of stable, unitary meanings highly problematic. Yet fundamentalist interpreters cheerfully continue to use modernist principles in their defense of theology, a highly unhelpful strategy of entrenchment, the zeal of whose practitioners does little to conceal the increasing irrelevance of their effort (pp. 22-23)"

"For Luther, in other words, the Bible is the word of God in a derivative sense, derived from his basic concept that God's speech is a powerful, creative force. As the church historian Jaroslav Pelikan observes: 'The scriptures were the Word of God in a derivative sense for Luther -- derivative from the historical sense of Word as deed and from the basic sense of Word as proclamation. As the record of the deeds of God, which were the Word of God, the scriptures participated in the nature of that which they recorded. As the written deposit of the preaching of the apostles, they could be termed the Word of God also (Luther the Expositor, 108).' The word of God in the historical sense was a deed of God. Put differently, God's word of redemption, intended to bring people into intimate communion with himself, manifested itself in concrete historical action. Following the model of the incarnation, Luther thus fuses history and revelation into an inseparable unit. According to Luther, biblical hermeneutics must recognize the incarnation as its guiding principle (p. 58)."

"Luther's mature understanding of law and gospel is rooted in the division of God's written word into letter and spirit found in Luther's early writings. Thus it is important to come to grips with this primary distinction before examining his use of law and gospel. Perhaps no other phrase has been so misunderstood in the history of hermeneutics. As Ebeling points out, 'Luther did not regard the literal meaning as such as the 'letter that kills' and the allegorical. . . interpretations imposed upon it as the 'life-giving spirit'.' Luther is not a Neoplatonist: he does not discard the textual kernel for a spiritual experience of God-consciousness (Schleiermacher), for a timeless message of self-authentication (Bultmann), or even for a timeless moral code (Christian Fundamentalism). Instead the entire text, the whole, can be either the letter that kills of the life-giving Spirit, depending on whether 'the understanding is oriented towards Moses or toward Christ' (p. 61)."



- Ben Eilers

Quote from Nausea

A priest advances slowly, reading his breviary. Now and then he raises his head and looks at the sea approvingly:--the sea is also a breviary, it speaks of God. Delicate colours, delicate perfumes, souls of spring. 'What a lovely day, the sea is green, I like this dry cold better than the damp.' Poets! If I grabbed one of them by the back of the coat, if I told him: 'Come, help me,' he'd think, 'What's this crab doing here?' and would run off, leaving his coat in my hands.
I turn back, lean both hands on the balustrade. The true sea is cold and black, full of animals; it crawls under this thin green film made to deceive human beings. The sylphs all round me have let themselves be taken in: they only see the thing film, which proves the existence of God. I see beneath it! The veneer melts, the shining velvety scales, the scales of God's catch explode everywhere at my look, they split and gape. Here is the Saint-Elemir tramway, I turn round and the objects turn with me, pale and green as oysters.

Sartre, pg. 124 Nausea

C.S. Lewis would pity him for being so adept at seeing through things that he sees nothing.

Quotable

How much wiser to spend money on human beings than on jewels and gold"

Clement of Alexandria

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Piper on Separation

From Ben Wright:

Does Piper teach separation? He asks.

You be the judge.

Here's just one relevant quote among many from today's radio program:

When a person departs from the doctrine that the apostles had taught, Paul sees this as a greater threat to unity than the disunity caused by avoiding such people. If we say: How can that be? How can dividing from a false teacher who rises up in the church promote unity in the church? The answer is that the only unity that counts for unity in the church is rooted in a common apostolic teaching. Isolating false teachers—avoiding them—is Paul’s strategy for preserving unity that is based on true teaching.


You can see the whole manuscript here or download an MP3 here.

The bottom line? Unity is a sham unless it's unity around truth. Piper discusses loving people and loving truth, purity for the sake of unity, a defined body of doctrine, and truth-based division for the sake of truth-based unity.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What Impresses God


Last week I caught part of the opening ceremony of the Olympics, reportedly planned and rehearsed for 5 years, and costing $300 million to stage.

It featured 15,000 Chinese performers. 33,866 fireworks were fired off – almost as many as our local Indiana County Fair on July 4th. It was probably the largest and most expensive show ever produced. Especially cool was the performance of 2000 drummers in playing in perfect synchronization. Obviously, China wanted to impress.

But China's government is not impressive.

"They hung me up across an iron gate, then they yanked open the gate and my whole body lifted until my chest nearly split in two. I hung like that for four hours."
...
Read on

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quoteable

Bob Kauflin on blended worship services: "It's the gospel that blends us together, not music."
pg. 105, Worship Matters, Bob Kauflin

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Church, Machen

Is there no refuge from strife? Is there no place of refreshing where a man can prepare for the battle of life? Is there no place where two or three can gatherin Jesus' name, to forget for a moment all those things that divide nation from nation and race from race, to forget human pride, to forget the passions of war, to forget the puzzling problems of industrial strife, and to unite in overflowing gratitude at the foot of the Cross? If there be such a place, then that is the house of God and that the gate of heaven. And from under the threshold of that house will go forth a river that will revive the weary world.
J. Gresham Machen, Christianty and Liberalism pg. 180

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Grace in the Strangest Places

From Ronald Allen's commentary on Numbers (concerning Numbers 20:1-13):
But Moses, like ourselves, had no erase track. All is forward play; yet the rest of his life he would relive the infamy of this moment."

I'm thankful for that reminder.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Amazing Video about DTS and China

Colin Hansen Interview: "Piper is not an innovator"

Interesting Colin Hansen interview concerning Young, Restless, Reformed.

especially commenting on Piper and the "Passion Conferences"

It's worth watching.

Monday, July 14, 2008

From Quarries to the Temple, Felix Neff

But, surely, it was not so in the marble quarries, or in Lebanon, where the cedars were cut; or in the glowing furnaces between Succoth and Zarthan (1 Kings 7:46) where they melted the brass for the sacred vessels. Thus, in heaven, this majestic sanctuary is erected without noise, without labour; every material is brought thither pure and perfect. The Bride of the Lamb has neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing. But in this impure and dark world, this obscure quarry, whence the Great Builder is pleased to take some stones for his edifice, what shall we find, but work-yards for a season, where everything appears to be in a movement and disorder? What unshapen stones, what rubbish, what fragments!

How many things fit only for temporary service! How many arrangements merely provisional! How many mercenaries and foreigners are occupied in these quarries… How many dissentions among the laborers, how many conjectures and disputes about the final purposes of the Great Architect… which are known only to Himself! Shall we search in this chaos for the true church, the spiritual temple? Shall we endeavor to arrange, in one exact and uniform order, all those stones that we find in the various quarries opened in a thousand places in the world? Oh, how much wiser is the Master! While some are disputing about the excellence of this or the other department of the work; and while others are spending their strength in endeavoring to introduce perfect order, the wise Master-builder surveys, in silence, the vast scene of operations, chooses and marks the materials which he sees to be prepared amidst all this confusion, and causes them to be removed and placed in his heavenly edifice; assigning to every piece the place most proper for it, and for which he has designed it. Such, my beloved brethren, is the sublime idea which we ought to form of this universal church. Oh! How contemptible now will appear, in our eyes, those endless disputes which have at all times divided the believers, and continue to do so to the present day. Let us rather labor in the quarry where our work is assigned, to prepare as great a quantity of materials as possible; and especially, let us entreat the Lord to make us all lively stones fit for his building. Amen

Cited in Evangelicalism Divided

Nieces are Evidence of God's Goodness



Friday, July 11, 2008

Dogmatism...







Relativism kills protest and passion...When we resist apartheid in South Africa (or in North America, for that matter), we are being dogmatic. When we insist that everyone is created in the image of God, that is a dogmatic doctrinal assertion, a theological statement of faith. That one doctrinal absolute defines the value of such causes as the pro-life stuggle, the resolve to decrease homelessness, and so on. Without dogmatism, slavery would still be an American and British institution. Slavery worked; it helped prosper the national economy. But it was wrong. Without the dogmatism of Rosa Parks, the black woman who refused to sit in the back of the bus, and the dogmatism of the marchers in Selma, Alabama, who, in 1965 dared to contradict the government's and soceity's status quo, in spite of being attacked by two hundred state police with tear gas, nightsticks, and whips--were it not for such dogmatism, injustices like this would persist to this day...Those modern relativists who insist dogmatically on justice or truth are using borrowed capital of a Christian past.
Horton, Made In America, pg. 162

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How to be a Popular Evangelical Writer

Take notes... The Constructive Curmudgeon

Link

1. Write on a controversial topic with little understanding of it.
2. Be autobiographical.
3. Luxuriate in metaphors you don't understand.
4. Take potshots at "foundationalism," "propositional truth," and "modernism," without defining, explaining, or actually arguing against them.
5. Chose a clever title for your book like, "Plastic Jesus" or "Velour Bono," or "Red like Rock."
6. Make the book short, with plenty of graphics.
7. Make a video to go with the book. No, make a series of them.
8. Write in incomplete sentences. Like this.
9. Use plenty of one sentence paragraphs, like this:

Huh?

10. Advocate something historically rejected by Christians in the name of "tolerance" or "freedom" or "postmodernism" or "authenticity."
11. Be sure to "reinvent," "deconstruct," "reimagine," "reconceive," and "emerge."
12. Pose in on your yoga mat for the back cover, smirking.

"Harmony of intellect, emotion, and reform",

The average unbeliever today is unlikely to have the impression that to be a thinking person, it is unreasonable to be fettered by religious dogma, especially by the Bible. But it is important that we recognize that this perception is due in part to our having accepted the divorce between the heart and mind--a divorce which the Puritans, like the Reformers before them, refused to recognize. It is difficult for us to appreciate the harmony of intellect, emotion, and reform that Reformation Christianity enjoyed. Thoughts had inspired Reformers and Puritans, shaping their outlook, affections, and activities in the community. 'My heart is stirred by a noble theme,' sang the psalmist. Great thoughts produced great emotions and both created motivation for reform in the surrounding world.

(Made in America, by Michael Horton, pg. 22)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

"The dangers of valuing preaching"

Matthias Media has a magazine called The Briefing which I'm not sure how I got signed up for (Mark?) which had an interesting article this week called "The dangers of valuing preaching" which deserves some comment.

The article is badly titled because it should be "the dangers of our particular brand of 'expository preaching' " (but of course that doesn't have the punch their does). I would like the post a couple quotes however to illustrate his point:

1. A shift from content to form: "First, there is the danger of the focus moving gradually from the content onto the form of preaching itself...We work hard on our preaching, and we seek to develop the craft of giving better sermons for our people...the danger is that because we are still sinful people, we are constantly caught in a drift that seeks to reorient our focuse away from the divine and onto the human."

2. A shift from vertical to horizontal: "It is the shift from the vertical to the merely horizontal in terms of our understanding of what is actually happening as we open up the Scriptures. Too easily we begin to think of Bible 'teaching' and 'learning' as merely mutual edification along the horizontal axis. We forget the vertical axis. We forget the presence of the living God himself, whose word is not just being heard as if from a distance, but who is present by his Spirit and who is breathing out his living word as the Scriptures are opened today."

3. A shift from the corporate to the individual: "In essence, of course, this is just another expression of the general shift from a God-centered, Kingdom-oriented mentality to the man-centered, self preoccupation that is the hallmark of our natural condition, and to which we constantly naturally regress if left unchecked by the correction of God's word."


Of course it is difficult to evaluate this article just based on the snippets I have included, but he brings up a topic I have thought on recently. Does the traditional craft of our preaching lend itself to a semi-pelagian view of sanctification? We are told to examine the text and get our points from the text and then corner the listener into making a decision for change. We are told to garner proper 'applications' from the text to give the listener something tangible to grasp, or to do. The problem with this seems to be that we forget that the Bible is primarily a revelation of God about himself and about ourselves and our relationship with him. The Bible is first a communique concerning the gospel. Shouldn't our preaching instead be 'vertical' as Philip states it, that is the purpose of preaching is to exalt Christ and his work not our own efforts?

I think one of the issues Philips sees is that expository preaching has tended to focus strongly on what we should do rather than why or how. Are not the why/how questions answered by inner spiritual change which are wrought by the hearing of the word and the response of faith? Should we neglect the exaltation of God by preaching the gospel to preach a list of do's and dont's? God forbid.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Impatient People are Weak

ht: Andy Naselli

An excerpt from Piper's Future Grace on impatience:
The apostle Paul prayed for the church at Colossae, that they would be “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience” (Colossians 1:11). Patience is the evidence of an inner strength. Impatient people are weak, and therefore dependent on external supports—like schedules that go just right and circumstances that support their fragile hearts. Their outbursts of oaths and threats and harsh criticisms of the culprits who crossed their plans do not sound weak. But that noise is all a camouflage of weakness. Patience demands tremendous inner strength.

For the Christian, this strength comes from God. . . . [T]hat connection is faith.

Specifically the glorious might of God that we need to see and trust is the power of God to turn all our detours and obstacles into glorious outcomes. If we believed that our hold-up at the long red light was God’s keeping us back from an accident about to happen, we would be patient and happy. If we believed that our broken leg was God’s way of revealing early cancer in the x-ray so that we would survive, we would not murmur at the inconvenience. If we believed that the middle-of-the-night phone call was God’s way of waking us to smell smoke in the basement, we would not grumble at the loss of sleep. The key to patience is faith in the future grace of God’s “glorious might” to transform all our interruptions into rewards.

In other words, the strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours. This requires great faith in future grace, because the evidence is seldom evident.

Piper, pp. 173–74

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Theology of Technology

A coworker recently handed me a printout of this article, read at ETS in 2001 by Lawrence Terlizzese of DTS. Terlizzese calls for an interest in an evangelical theology of technology.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mark Dever and WhiteBoard by Michael Mckinley

"For the record, I think Mark Dever's theological differences with the other speakers at WiBo were abundantly clear" Michael Mckinley

Monday, June 09, 2008

Culture and Theology

I recently sat down with the production manager for DTS's media production department and DTS's Professor of Philosophy to talk about issues related to culture, theology, and ministry for a class assignment. We had a good forty minute talk that we recorded as if it were one in a series of podcasts. Have a listen here:

God in a Pod: Culture and Theology

It was a good conversation, and has led to numerous discussions with others. Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hyper-egalitarianism and Seminary

iThe White Horse Inn recently talked about the concept of Hyper-egalitarianism. The concept sparked a thought in me concerning a often asked question I get with regard to the value of seminary.

It seems one of the strongest implications of post-modernism is that all views have equal validity. To disparage someone's view on a particular matter is extremely rude and even immoral. There are no experts. Everyone has as much authority as everyone else. Cue the blogs and forums. On a personal level this has been discouraging for me. What this idea has meant for me is that when I read something and try to understand it, if after hours, days, or weeks of seeking understanding, if I don't yet get it then I despair. I've grown up in a society where knowledge rises and falls on me. For me, to not have an answer is to deny the existence of that answer. Yet, it may be that I just haven't studied hard enough. It may be that I need an expert, perhaps a seminary graduate?

Any thoughts?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Trueman on Barth

Anyone know what he means here?
And I have yet to see Barthian preaching fill a church (there is an irony that Barthian preaching, with its `dynamic' God is so often bland, while the `static' God of fundamentalism (according to the Barthian critique) has generated some of the most dynamic preaching the world has ever seen).

I think I can guess what he means by 'dynamic' God, but if you can elaborate let me know.

From Carl Trueman, What can be learned from Barth?

20 Reasons Piper Doesn't Take Potshots at Fundamentalists

Link: Piper
1. They are humble and respectful and courteous and even funny (the ones I've met).

2. They believe in truth.

3. They believe that truth really matters.

4. They believe that the Bible is true, all of it.

5. They know that the Bible calls for some kind of separation from the world.

6. They have backbone and are not prone to compromise principle.

7. They put obedience to Jesus above the approval of man (even though they fall short, like others).

8. They believe in hell and are loving enough to warn people about it.

9. They believe in heaven and sing about how good it will be to go there.

10. Their "social action" is helping the person next door (like Jesus), which doesn't usually get written up in the newspaper.

11. They tend to raise law-abiding, chaste children, in spite of the fact that Barna says evangelical kids in general don't have any better track record than non-Christians.

12. They resist trendiness.

13. They don’t think too much is gained by sounding hip.

14. They may not be hip, but they don’t go so far as to drive buggies or insist on typewriters.

15. They still sing hymns.

16. They are not breathless about being accepted in the scholarly guild.

17. They give some contemporary plausibility to New Testament claim that the church is the “pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

18. They are good for the rest of evangelicals because of all this.

19. My dad was one.

20. Everybody to my left thinks I am one. And there are a lot of people to my left.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lift Up Thy Bleeding Hand

Lift Up Thy Bleeding Hand

1. When wounded sore, the stricken heart
Lies bleeding and unbound,
One only hand, a pierced hand,
Can salve the sinner’s wound.

2. When sorrow swells the laden breast,
And tears of anguish flow,
One only heart, a broken heart,
Can feel the sinner’s woe.

Chorus
Lift up Thy bleeding hand, O Lord,
Unseal that cleansing tide;
We have no shelter from our sin
But in Thy wounded side.

3. When penitential grief has wept
O’er some foul dark spot,
One only stream, a stream of blood,
Can wash away the blot.

4. ‘Tis Jesus’ blood that washes white,
His hand that brings relief,
His heart that’s touched with all our joys,
And feels for all our grief.

Chorus

©2005 The Velvet Eagle Sings (ASCAP)
admin. by The Loving Company.

ht: eucatastrophe

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Derek Thomas with D.A. Carson

ht: paleoevangelical

Snippet: Interview, Derek Thomas and DA Carson

DT: Why don't you like the terminology of "redeeming the culture"?

DC: Redemption terminology in the NT is so bound up with Christ's work for and in the church that to extend it to whatever good we do in the broader world risks a shift in focus. Not for a moment do I want to deny that we are to serve as salt and light, that exiles may be called to do good in the pagan cities where Providence has appointed them to live (Jer 29), that every square foot of this world is under Christ's universal reign (even though that reign is still being contested), that the nations of the world will bring their "goods" into the Jerusalem that comes down from above. But many of those who speak easily and fluently of redeeming the culture soon focus all their energy shaping fiscal and political policies and the like, and merely assume the gospel. A gospel that is merely assumed, that does no more than perk away in the background while the focus of our attention is on the "redemption" of the culture in which we find ourselves, is lost within a generation or two. At the same time, I worry about Christians who focus their attention so narrowly on getting people "saved" that they care little about doing good to all people, even if especially to the household of God. Getting this right is not easy, and inevitably priorities will shift a little in various parts of the world, under various regimes. Part of the complexity of the discussion, I think, is bound up with what the church as church is responsible for, and what Christians as Christians are responsible for: I have argued that failure to make this distinction tends to lead toward sad conclusions.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lewis Sperry Chafer on the Founding of DTS

MP3 Link

Interesting story: "And we came within a hairsbreadth of taking over the entire Wheaton property for the seminary..."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Machen: "Christianity and Culture"

Link to Machen in the Princeton Theological Review
Let her [the church] give up the scientific education of her ministry. Let her assume the truth of her message and learn simply how it may be applied in detail to modern industrial and social conditions. Let her give up the laborious study of Greek and Hebrew. Let her abandon the scientific study of history to the men of the world. In a day of increased scientific interest, let the Church go on becoming less scientific. In a day of increased specialization, of renewed interest in philology and in history, of more rigorous scientific method, let the Church go on abandoning her Bible to her enemies. They will study it scientifically, rest assured, if the Church does not. Let her substitute sociology altogether for Hebrew, practical expertness for the proof of her gospel. Let her shorten the preparation of her ministry, let her permit it to be interrupted yet more and more by premature practical activity. By doing so she will win a straggler here and there. But her winnings will be but temporary. The great current of modern culture will sooner or later engulf her puny eddy. God will save her somehow--out of the depths. But the labor of centuries will have been swept away.
...
And now the Church is shrinking from the conflict. Driven from the spiritual realm by the current of modern thought, she is consoling herself with things about which there is no dispute. If she favors better housing for the poor, she need fear no contradiction...they will not fight her with argument. The twentieth century, in theory, is agreed on social betterment. But sin, and death, and salvation, and life, and God--about these things there is debate.

Interesting Statements from Emergent Folks

LINK
Fourth, we respect the desire and responsibility of our critics to warn those under their care about ideas that they consider wrong or dangerous, and to keep clear boundaries to declare who is “in” and “out” of their circles. These boundary-keepers have an important role which we understand and respect. If one of your trusted spiritual leaders has criticized our work, we encourage you, in respect for their leadership, not to buy or read our work, but rather to ignore it and consider it unworthy of further consideration. We would only ask, if you accept our critics’ evaluation of our work, that in fairness you abstain from adding your critique to theirs unless you have actually read our books, heard us speak, and engaged with us in dialogue for yourself. Second-hand critique can easily become a kind of gossip that drifts from the truth and causes needless division.


Sixth, we would like to clarify, contrary to statements and inferences made by some, that yes, we truly believe there is such a thing as truth and truth matters – if we did not believe this, we would have no good reason to write or speak; no, we are not moral or epistemological relativists any more than anyone or any community is who takes hermeneutical positions – we believe that radical relativism is absurd and dangerous, as is arrogant absolutism;

Mark Dever on Alleviating Poverty

I've been meaning to post this for a while. This post is worth a read.

I found this sentence interesting:
The fact is, if we lead Christians to believe that they may preach the gospel just as much by alleviating poverty as by evangelism, many of them will choose the former because the world recognizes and values that kind of service, while it rejects and scorns the work of evangelism. In time, such a “public” gospel will inevitably lose its supernaturally awkward corners; it will be smoothed out and made acceptable to sinners all around.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Missions exists because worship doesn't"

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.

John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, pg. 11

I hate hyperbole more than anything in the world. But this has got to be one of the best opening paragraphs I've ever read. I don't understand why so many people I know still don't understand what it is about John Piper's theological center that burns and resonates with so many in my generation. I don't want to be about kingdom building or slick marketing. I hate sales. What I'm passionate about is worship with God at the blazing center of all of life. If that doesn't keep me grounded and humble I don't know what will.

Wells on Hybels

David Wells on Hybels:
Willow Creek Community Church recently announced plans to abandon some key tenets of its seeker-sensitive strategy. What is the theological significance of this development?

None. Bill Hybels has, I believe, the very best of motives, but he and his church are sailing rudderless in our cultural waters. Or, to change the image, he is like a CEO who shows up at the shareholders' meeting with very poor bottom-line results. So, what does he do? Instead of carrying out a serious diagnosis of what has gone wrong, he simply rolls out a new business plan that, unfortunately, has many of the same inherent weaknesses in it. The bottom line outcome will be no different five years, or ten years from now, from what it is today.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Evangelical Manifesto

The recent Evangelical Manifesto
One who did not sign: Al Mohler
Review by Alan Jacobs of Wheaton

Interesting notes on fundamentalism:
Sixth, Evangelicalism should be distinguished from two opposite tendencies to which Protestantism has been prone: liberal revisionism and conservative fundamentalism. Called by Jesus to be “in the world, but not of it,” Christians, especially in modern society, have been pulled toward two extremes. Those more liberal have tended so to accommodate the world that they reflect the thinking and lifestyles of the day, to the point where they are unfaithful to Christ; whereas those more conservative have tended so to defy the world that they resist it in ways that also become unfaithful to Christ.
...
The fundamentalist tendency is more recent, and even closer to Evangelicalism, so much so that in the eyes of many, the two overlap. We celebrate those in the past for their worthy desire to be true to the fundamentals of faith, but Fundamentalism has become an overlay on the Christian faith and developed into an essentially modern reaction to the modern world. As a reaction to the modern world, it tends to romanticize the past, some now-lost moment in time, and to radicalize the present, with styles of reaction that are personally and publicly militant to the point where they are sub-Christian.
...
Christian Fundamentalism has its counterparts in many religions and even in secularism, and often becomes a social movement with a Christian identity but severely diminished Christian content and manner. Fundamentalism, for example, all too easily parts company with the Evangelical principle, as can Evangelicals themselves, when they fail to follow the great commandment that we love our neighbors as ourselves, let alone the radical demand of Jesus that his followers forgive without limit and love even their enemies.
...
Whereas fundamentalism was thoroughly world-denying and politically disengaged from its outset, names such as John Jay, John Witherspoon, John Woolman, and Frances Willard in America and William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury in England are a reminder of a different tradition. Evangelicals have made a shining contribution to politics in general, to many of the greatest moral and social reforms in history, such as the abolition of slavery and woman’s suffrage, and even to notions crucial in political discussion today, for example, the vital but little known Evangelical contribution to the rise of the voluntary association and, through that, to the understanding of such key notions as civil society and social capital.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"It's Never Too Late to Keep Asking"

From John Piper:
One of the greatest hope-killers is that you have tried for so long to change and have not succeeded. Now you look back and think: What's the use? Even if I could experience a breakthrough, there would be so little time left to live in my new way it wouldn't make much difference compared to so many decades of failure.

That's not true. Suppose you only had five years left to live with a new victory over some old way. Or suppose you only had a year, or a month, or an hour? Would it matter?

At this point stir the thief on the cross into your thinking. At first he was railing at Jesus (Matthew 27:44). Then he was broken by what he saw and repented and cried out for mercy: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). Jesus received this faith-filled cry and promised, "Today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).

Then the former robber lived for another hour or so before he died. He was changed. He lived on the cross as a new man with new attitudes and actions (no more reviling). But 99.99% of his life was wasted. Did the last couple hours of newness matter?

They mattered infinitely. This former robber, like all of us, will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of his life. "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil" (2Corinthians 5:10). How will his life witness in that day to his new birth and his union with Christ?

The last hours will tell the story. This man was new. His faith was real. He is truly united to Christ. Christ's righteousness is his. His sins are forgiven. That is what the final hours will proclaim at the last judgment. His change mattered. It was, and it will be, a beautiful testimony to the power of God's grace and the reality of his faith and his union with Christ.

Now back to our struggle with change. I am not saying that struggling believers are unsaved like the robber was. I am simply saying: the last years and the last hours of life matter.

If in the last 1% of our lives we can get a victory over some longstanding sinful habit or hurtful defect in our personality, it will be a beautiful testimony now to the power of grace; and it will be an added witness (not the only one) at the last judgment of our faith in Christ and our union with him.

Take heart, struggler. Keeping asking, seeking, knocking. Keep looking to Christ. If God gets glory by saving robbers in the 11th hour, he surely has his purposes why he has waited till now to give you the breakthrough you have sought for decades.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Machen's Response to Wilhelm Herrmann

The first time that I heard Herrmann may almost be described as an epoch in my life. Such an overpowering personality I think I almost never before encountered—overpowering in the sincerity of religious devotion ...

My chief feeling with reference to him is already one of the deepest reverence ... I have been thrown all into confusion by what he says —so much deeper is his devotion to Christ than anything I have known in myself during the past few years ... Herrmann affirms very little of that which I have been accustomed to regard as essential to Christianity; yet there is no doubt in my mind but that he is a Christian, and a Christian of a peculiarly earnest type. He is a Christian not because he follows Christ as a moral teacher; but because his trust in Christ is (practically, if anything even more truly than theoretically) unbounded ...

Herrmann represents the dominant Ritschlian school ... Herrmann has shown me something of the religious power which lies back of this great movement, which is now making a fight even for the control of the Northern Presbyterian Church in America. In New England those who do not believe in the bodily Resurrection of Jesus are, generally speaking, religiously dead; in Germany, Herrmann has taught me that is by no means the case. He believes that Jesus is the one thing in all the world that inspires absolute confidence, and an absolute, joyful subjection; that through Jesus we come into communion with the living God and are made free from the world. It is the faith that is a real experience, a real revelation of God that saves us, not the faith that consists in accepting as true a lot of dogmas on the basis merely of what others have said ... Das Verkehr des Christen mit Gott is one of the greatest religious books I ever read. Perhaps Herrmann does not give the whole truth—I certainly hope he does not—at any rate he has gotten hold of something that has been sadly neglected in the church and in the orthodox theology. Perhaps he is something like the devout mystics of the middle ages—they were one-sided enough, but they raised a mighty protest against the coldness and deadness of the church and were forerunners of the Reformation (see note 15).


John Piper's Comment:
What Machen seemed to find in Herrmann was what he had apparently not found either in his home or at Princeton, namely, passion and joy and exuberant trust in Christ. At Princeton he had found solid learning and civil, formal, careful, aristocratic presentations of a fairly cool Christianity. He eventually came to see that the truth of the Princeton theology was a firmer ground for life and joy. But at this stage the spirit in which it came, compared to Herrmann's spirit, almost cost evangelicalism one of its greatest defenders. There is a great lesson here for teachers and preachers: that to hold young minds there should be both intellectual credibility and joyful, passionate zeal for Christ.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Saturday, May 03, 2008

BeThinking.org


I've listened to a few of these. Seems to be a great resource.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Wormwood on the Luciferian Laptop

I love that I'm posting this on my blog using my laptop.

LINK


Back to studying...

Crazy... Oshiyas

Joe Carter: "In Japan's, oshiyas or 'pushers' are employed to squeeze people onto the overcrowded subway and train cars."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Vanhoozer Quote

Sin corrupts this medium along with all other aspects of the human being. Satan, insofar as he interprets God's speech for his own devices, may perhaps be viewed as the first radical reader-response critic--the first to replace the author's voice with his own: "Did God say?" Theological non-realism is ultimately a rebellious protest against having to answer to any other voice than our own.

Vanhoozer, Is There a Meaning in This Text

No Ordinary People

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner--no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.

C.S. Lewis, "The Weight of Glory"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bold Brokeness

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD Because I have sinned against Him, Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, And I will see His righteousness.

Micah 7:7-9