Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Rebel Jesus

The streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants' windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying into their homes
As the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around the hearths and tales
Giving thanks for God's graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

Well they call him by 'the Prince of Peace'
And they call him by 'the Savior'
And they pray to him upon the seas
And in every bold endeavor
And they fill his churches with their pride and gold
As their faith in him increases
But they've turned the nature that I worship in
From a temple to a robber's den
In the words of the rebel Jesus

We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why they are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

But pardon me if I have seem
To take the tone of judgement
For I've no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In the life of hardship and of earthly toil
There’s a need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus

Lyrics by Jackson Browne

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Suffering and God's Sovereignty (John Piper)

What a source of comfort we have in the sweet, sweet sovereignty of our Lord and God Jesus Christ.

This video brought me to tears.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Daily Quote

"A nominal Christian is happy to prove the importance of the crucified redeemer.... but the true Christian delights in the cross, rejoices in it, glories in it and shudders at the thought of glorying in anything else." - Charles Simeon

If We Lived Like We Sang...

H. Richard Niebuhr described liberal Christianity thus: 'A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.' For some time, I've wondered if the heart of liberal theology is the belief that man is actually not all that sinful, but is fundamentally fairly good. It is the message of Hollywood, of self-help writers, of humanism. It's the kind of position that tells us "Believe in yourself! You can do it!", "Do something for you", "It's ok if it feels good", "You might be a bit naughty but you're nowhere near as bad as your friend who...".

It's not a new lie that we are fundamentally ok. Around AD 383-410, there was a teacher in Rome by the name of Pelagius who taught against the doctrine of original sin, but suggested that sin only occurred in individual acts. He upheld that God does not hold men responsible for sins that they have no control over. He said that man's nature is still capable of choosing good and God without the help of God. He was clutching at straws.

Is Pelagian-style error creeping into our church music today? I think it may be. It's close to what is called semi-Pelagianism; following Pelagius to some degree- a position that says that humans can independently make the first move towards God, and that God completes the salvation process.

If it is, it comes subtly in the kind of songs that teach us we can relate to God casually, that encourage irreverence, that play-down sin, that make us people into something far more than we are. Songs that assume we inherrently have within ourselves the capacity to appraoch God without the need for his grace first. How many songs do you know that teach you that you're able to come to God of your own accord (i.e. without encouraging you to think about the gospel)? How many times have you sung lines like "I surrender all to You", "You're the only one that I could live for", "I'm desperate for you", "You are my one desire", "I will never stop loving You" and known for sure that you have meant it with all your heart?

A difficult question. I have sung "I surrender all to You" plenty of times, but I know full well that to this day, that still isn't entirely true of me. I pray that I can increasingly surrender my will, possessions and heart to God, but can I sing that I do until I actually do? By singing these things, am I not taking very lightly my relationship with God? The Bible is clear on all of these variations on the same theme that God draws us to Himself (John 6:44)- we do not choose Him. We have nothing of ourselves to boast in, and our songs ought to aid us in fearing and reverencing God, not relating to him as our "mate" or our "girlfriend". How we need less of "Hey Lord, O Lord, You know what we need" and "You took the fall and thought of me"; but so much more of "Indescribable, uncontainable, You set the stars in the sky and You know them by name" and "You give and take away, my heart will choose to say "Lord, blessed be Your Name".

Friday, November 23, 2007

God Glorified in Man's Dependence

"God is more glorified in the person of His son then He would have been in an unfallen world." - Charles Spurgeon

"God is glorified in the work of redemption in this, that there appears in it so absolute and universal a dependence of the redeemed on him." - Jonathan Edwards

"We are dependent on God's power through every step of our redemption. We are dependent on the power of God to convert us, and give faith in Jesus Christ, and the new nature." - Jonathan Edwards

"It is a more glorious work of power to rescue a soul out of the hands of the devil, and from the powers of darkness, and to bring it into a state of salvation, than to confer holiness where there was no prepossession or opposition...So it is a more glorious work of power to uphold a soul in a state of grace and holiness, and to carry it on till it is brought to glory, when there is so much sin remaining in the heart resisting, and Satan with all his might opposing, than it would have been to have kept man from falling at first, when Satan had nothing in man." - Jonathan Edwards

Monday, November 12, 2007

Assertions and Affections

I had a quick thought I felt like I would share:
As I was falling asleep during my afternoon nap yesterday I thought of
these two words: assertions and affections.

Much of the time spent in discussing the songs we sing in church have
to do with the words "style and substance," but I feel the focus
should be on the words "assertions and affections." The discussion
should be centered on the content of the music and its relation to us
as the recipients of God's Word, not on subjective moods toward style
and preferences toward instrumentation (although those are important
and should be considered as a secondary item).

The reason I was thinking of the words "assertions and affections" is
because all of life is held together by these two things, especially
in the life of the Christian. For example: The Word of God asserts
himself as Jesus Christ, we who believe are affected and live
accordingly. All of life should be seen in this manner, including our
times of corporate worship, and more specifically in the songs we
sing. The significance of hymns, young and old, is their clear
expression of the knowledge of God. This God to whom we are singing is
identified and completely distinct from all other gods and faiths.
Contemporary praise songs, on the other hand, tend to focus more on
our affections toward God.

We need the assertions. If we do not define the God to whom we are
singing, then our Christian faith loses its identification and
character. It becomes spineless and subject to sentimentality.

We need the affections. We need people who understand the God to whom
they are singing, and are moved by his holiness, sovereignty, justice,
love, mercy, and kindness.

Our God is both the God of Mount Sinai and the Christ who put his arm
around the woman at the well. We should sing joyfully sing to our Lord
and Savior, who is distinct and set apart from all peoples, all
philosophies, and all other gods.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Daily Quote

Os Guiness understands the heart of the problem the church faces today.
“…an unprecedented Christian pursuit of relevance has led directly to an unprecedented Christian irrelevance”

The irony is astounding. The Church today wants nothing more than to be relevant to the culture. Many in the church feel relevance is the only way to reach the culture with the gospel. Guiness says this pursuit of relevance is precisely the reason the Christian church today has never been more irrelevant.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Daily Quote, Popcorn, Hotdogs and Heaven

I read this on Tim Challies blogsite and thought it was cute. And yeah, words like that tend to come out after you've been married for awhile...I apologize.

Here it is:

I wanted to begin today by sharing a few words of wisdom from my daughter who just turned five: “In heaven you can’t die, so you can eat popcorn and hot dogs at the same time and not have to worry about choking.” I just thought you’d all like to have one more thing to look forward to in eternity. Of course one could well ask, “If there are hot dogs in heaven, could it really be heaven?”

cc: www.challies.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Daily Quote

If we know the characteristic sins of the age, we can guess its foolish and fashionable assumptions--that morality is simply a matter of personal taste, that all silences need to be filled up with human chatter or background music, that 760 percent of the American people are victims, that it is better to feel than to think, that rights are more important than responsibilities, that even for children the right to choose supersedes all other rights, that real liberty can be enjoyed without virtue, that self-reproach is for fogies, that God is a chum or even a gofer whose job is to make us rich or happy or religiously excited, that it is more satisfying to be envied than respected, that it is better for politicians and preachers to be cheerful than truthful, that Christian worship fails unless it is fun. -- Cornelius Platinga

Worship by the Book

This one is for you, Brian.

I've been reading a really great and interesting book by D.A. Carson called "Worship by the Book." Here are a few excerpts from the first chapter:

Worship serves the indispensable function of uniting us with "all the saints," living and dead. In fact one of the most important things that worship accomplishes is to remind us that we worship not merely as a congregation or a church, but as part of the church, the people of God. -- p. 23

...we cannot imagine that the church gathers for worship on Sunday morning if by this we mean that we then engage in something that we have not been engaging in the rest of the week. New covenant worship terminology prescribes constant worship. [This is] why the New Testament church gathers...[for] mutual edification, not worship. -- p. 24
(What is meant by this is that the distinctive element of their corporate meetings is not worship, but edification.)

We are to worship the Lord in the splendor of all that makes God God. -- p.28

We should not being by asking whether or not we enjoy "worship," but by asking, "What is it that God expects of us?" -- p. 29

Monday, September 24, 2007

24's Season 7

Tony Almeida will be returning in season 7!

I knew he wasn't dead. No one as sweet as the Almeida-nator could die at the hands of the washed up RoboCop actor turned terrorist.

Check it out here!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Love the Sinner. Hate the Sinner.

Is our theology sufficiently biblical to understand statements where God not only hates the sin, but also is said to hate the sinner (see, for example, Ps. 11:5-6)?

Check out Between Two Worlds for a response.

cc: Between Two Worlds

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Daily Quote

"But Christ was insistent that the leadership of the Church must never pursue honor through the use of titles. The leaders of the Church are to be distinguished and set apart, but this is to happen through service and self-sacrifice. Pastors have to avoid the common sin of wanting to be known as a servant without being treated as a servant." (Mother Kirk, p. 196).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The 9/11's You Need To Know

This September 11 is the sixth anniversary of 9/11. Let us mark this day with thoughts about the 9/11 we know about, the one we never knew, and the one that will certainly happen to us.

Click here for John Piper's excellent article.

Galatians 3

Father of lies, coming to steal kill and destroy
All my hopes of being good enough.
I hear him saying, "cursed are the ones who can't abide."
He's right, halleluia, he's right!
The devil is preaching the song of the redeemed
That I am cursed and gone astray.
I cannot gain salvation embracing accusation.
Could the father of lies be telling the truth of God to me tonight?
That if the penalty of sin is death, then death is mine.
I hear him saying, "cursed are the ones who can't abide."
He's right, halleluia, he's right!
The devil is preaching the song of the redeemed
That I am cursed and gone astray.
I cannot gain salvation.
The devil's singing over me an age old song
That I am cursed and gone astray.
Singing the first verse so conveniently over me
He's forgotten the refrain.
JESUS S A V E S!!!

--Shane and Shane

Saturday, September 1, 2007

MacDaddy MacArthur

John MacArthur Explains True Gospel

MacArthur lays soem Truth down.

The Truth of the Cross

“The prevailing doctrine of justification today is not justification by faith alone. It’s not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in Western culture today is justification by death. It’s assumed that all one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.

In some instances, the prevailing indifference to the cross mutates into outright hostility. I once was asked to deliver a lecture explaining the relationship between the old and new covenants. In the course of delivering this lecture, I referred to Christ’s death as a substitutionary, vicarious sacrifice for the sins of others. To my surprise, someone in the back of the room yelled out, ‘That’s primitive and obscene.’ I was taken aback for a moment, so I asked, ‘What did you say?’ He said it again with great hostility: ‘That’s primitive and obscene.’ At that point, I had recovered from my surprise, and I told the man I actually like his choice of adjectives. It is primitive for a blood sacrifice to be made to satisfy the justice of a transcendent and holy God, but sin is a primitive thing that is basic to our human existence, so God chose to communicate His love, mercy, and redemption to us through this primitive work. And the cross is an obscenity, because all of the corporate sin of God’s people was laid on Christ. The cross was the ugliest, most obscene thing in the history of the world.”- From The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul

What do you think of tattoos and body-piercing?

Once again, Pastor Piper says what I wished I could say...only better.

Listen here.

Daily Quote

"Our faithfulness to the fathers of the faith does not consist in our copying them but in our comprehending them. And the communion of saints does not consist in the fact that all of us say the same thing in the same words, but rather that we all drink from the same spring. notable among those who have also stood watch by this spring is Spurgeon....Sell all that you have (not least of all some of your stock of current sermonic literature) and buy Spurgeon." - Helmut Thielicke

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Look! I See A Cutie!!!


Here are a few samples of some of the excellent photography taken by our good friend Matt Snyder.

We're definitely expecting more to come in the recent future. Thanks Matt!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Frill of the Fight

After a weighty post on Hell, one needs to check out this video.

Of all the worthless news that gets air time on CNN, MSNBC & Fox News, how does something like this miss the cut?!?!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Weightiness of Hell

Excerpts from Tim Challies post Hell:

I find the subject almost unbearably weighty. Just thinking seriously about it presses on my soul and presses upon my heart. I would far rather think about heaven and about the reward that awaits there for those who know and love the Lord. But it is good and healthy to think about hell. It would not be healthy to think about it too much or to have a long and deep-seating fascination with it, but because God has revealed to us that there is such a place and because He has seen fit to give us a glimpse of it, it does us good to pay attention...

...I hate hell. I hate that it exists and hate that it needs to exist. I’m amazed to realize that, when we are [in] heaven, we will praise God for [hell] and that we will glorify Him for creating such a place and for sending the unjust there. But for now I am too filled with pride, too filled with sin to even begin to justly and rightly rejoice in the existence of such a place of torment. I cannot rejoice in such a place and do not gloat that even the wickedest of men with perish there. It is just too awful, too weighty. And I know that I deserve to be there.

This comes from the pen of Jonathan Edwards. To me this is probably the weightiest of all the horrors of hell—considering that it will never end, never ease, never cease. It will continue for all eternity with no hope for reprieve.

Consider what it is to suffer extreme torment forever and ever: to suffer it day and night from one year to another, from one age to another, and from one thousand ages to another (and so adding age to age, and thousands to thousands), in pain, in wailing and lamenting, groaning and shrieking, and gnashing your teeth - with your souls full of dreadful grief and amazement, [and] with your bodies and every member full of racking torture; without any possibility of getting ease; without any possibility of moving God to pity by your cries; without any possibility of hiding yourselves from him; without any possibility of diverting your thoughts from your pain; without any possibility of obtaining any manner of mitigation, or help, or change for the better.

Consider how dreadful despair will be in such torment. How dismal will it be, when you are under these racking torments, to know assuredly that you never, never shall be delivered from them. To have no hope: when you shall wish that you might be turned into nothing, but shall have no hope of it; when you shall wish that you might be turned into a toad or a serpent, but shall have no hope of it; when you would rejoice if you might but have any relief; after you shall have endured these torments millions of ages, but shall have no hope of it. After you shall have worn out the age of the sun, moon, and stars, in your dolorous groans and lamentations, without rest day and night, or one minute’s ease, yet you shall have no hope of ever being delivered. After you shall have worn a thousand more such ages, you shall have no hope, but shall know that you are not one whit nearer to the end of your torments. But that still there are the same groans, the same shrieks, the same doleful cries, incessantly to be made by you, and that the smoke of your torment shall still ascend up forever and ever.


The more the damned in hell think of the eternity of their torments, the more amazing will it appear to them. And alas, they will not be able to keep it out of their minds! Their tortures will not divert them from it, but will fix their attention to it. O how dreadful will eternity appear to them after they shall have been thinking on it for ages together, and shall have so long an experience of their torments! The damned in hell will have two infinites perpetually to amaze them, and swallow them up: one is an infinite God, whose wrath they will bear, and in whom they will behold their perfect and irreconcilable enemy. The other is the infinite duration of their torment.

I can't help but beg the question:
When was the last time you heard a Priest or Preacher deliver a message with this kind of sincerity on the truth and horrors of hell?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Selling Used Cars Has NEVER Been This Awesome

You must click on this. It's gonna send you right to the Danger Zone!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Derek Webb and the Good News

After reading the 9marks blog I was inspired to post an excerpt from an entry entitled, "Derek Webb on the Gospel." Caedmons Call, of which Webb has played an intregal role has always been a great example of both good music and doctrinal meat.

I'll let 9marks take it from here:

"But signs of late, at least with Derek Webb, have not been as encouraging. In a podcast interview Derek recently did, the interview host asks him to succinctly define the gospel. Here's Derek's answer:
What a great question. I guess I’d probably…my instinct is to say that
it's Jesus coming, living, dying, and being resurrected and his inaugurating the
already and the not yet of all things being restored to himself…and that
happening by way of himself…the being made right of all things…that process both
beginning and being a reality in the lives and hearts of believers and yet a day
coming when it will be more fully realized. But the good news, the gospel,
the speaking of the good news, I would say is the news of hiHs kingdom coming the
inaugurating of his kingdom coming…that’s my instinct.

In response to this the host simply replied, "Good."

Hmm...Webb is usually pretty solid in his description and explanation of the Gospel. It seems odd (and sad) to me that in "succinctly" summarizing the Gospel that he could leave out such essentials as 1) Creation of man to live under God's loving rule; 2) Sin as rebellion against God's rule; 3) Judgment; 4) Penal Substitution; 5) Resurrection & Enthronement of Christ; 6) Response of Repentance & Faith.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

He Gives. He Takes. Blessed be.

Jessica and I were riding bikes through a cemetery the other day and it made me consider the Scriptures. As Christians, we both believe that the Lord gives and takes away. Anything and anyone that we may have at the present time is from the Lord. Likewise, anything and anyone that may have been taken from us, was taken by the good and pleasing and perfect will of God. Thinking about these things reminded me of a quote by Charles Spurgeon:

Suppose you are a gardener employed by another. It is not your garden, but you are called upon to tend it. You come one morning into the garden, and you find that the best rose has been taken away. You are angry. You go to your fellow servants and charge them with having taken the rose. They declare that they had nothing to do with it, and one says, "I saw the master walking here this morning; I think he took it." Is the gardener angry then? No, at once he says, "I am happy that my rose should have been so fair as to attract the attention of the master. It is his own. He has taken it, let him do what seems good."

It is even so with your friends. They wither not by chance. The grave is not filled by accident. Men die according to God's will. Your child is gone, but the Master took it. Your husband is gone, your wife is buried—the Master took them. Thank him that he let you have the pleasure of caring for them and tending them while they were here. And thank him that as he gave, he himself has taken away.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Disney Stealing Disney

I had no idea that Disney was infamous for reusing animated sequences from their films, but Hemmy's put together some side-by-side screen shots as evidence. I’ve posted a few below, but be sure to click on the link above if you need more convincing!


cc: Mental Floss

Daily Quote

In recent years it has become popular to sketch the Bible's story-line something like this: Ever since the fall, God has been active to reverse the effects of sin. He takes action to limit sin's damage; he calls out a new nation, the Israelites, to mediate his teaching and his grace to others; he promises that one day he will come as the promised Davidic king to overthrow sin and death and all their wretched effects. This is what Jesus does: he conquers death, inaugurates the kingdom of righteousness, and calls his followers to live out that righteousness now in prospect of the consummation still to come.

Much of this description of the Bible's story-line, of course, is true. Yet it is so painfully reductionistic that it introduces a major distortion. It collapses human rebellion, God's wrath, and assorted disasters into one construct, namely, the degradation of human life, while depersonalizing the wrath of God. It thus fails to wrestle with the fact that from the beginning, sin is an offense against God. God himself pronounces the sentence of death (Gen 2-3). This is scarcely surprising, since God is the source of all life, so if his image-bearers spit in his face and insist on going their own way and becoming their own gods, they cut themselves off from their Maker, from the One who gives life. What is there, then, but death? Moreover, when we sin in any way, God himself is invariably the most offended party (Ps 51). The God the Bible portrays as resolved to intervene and save is also the God portrayed as full of wrath because of our sustained idolatry. As much as he intervenes to save us, he stands over against us as Judge, an offended Judge with fearsome jealousy.

-D.A. Carson

Friday, July 6, 2007

Preaching the Cross

Recently I've been reading a book entitled Preaching the Cross, and I just can't pull my eyes from the pages! The chapters have been packed full of great insight and sound biblical teaching.

Here is a description of the book from desiringgod.org:

Proclaiming the gospel is without a doubt the most important task of pastoral ministry, yet often other seemingly urgent activities can obscure it. From time to time all pastors and preachers need a fresh reminder of the primacy of the gospel.

Preaching the Cross does just this. It is a call to preaching the gospel as the center of pastoral ministry. This volume showcases an unprecedented combination of pastors representing a variety of evangelical traditions. Though they may differ on some secondary points of church practice, they all enthusiastically celebrate the centrality of the cross of Christ.

Contributors include: John Piper,Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Jr., C. J. Mahaney, John MacArthur, and R. C. Sproul

The next few posts entitled Preaching the Cross will be reflections on each of the seven chapters...

Saturday, June 30, 2007

When the Bible is boring...

It would be hard to have a slow, careful, exegetical Bible study about the second half of the book of Joshua. Chapters 13 to 21 are mostly lists: what parcels of land are going to which tribe of Israel.

Much of the Old Testament is like this—genealogies, lists, rules, procedures. As lovers of the Bible, what should we make of these mundane details? Is it even appropriate to call parts of God's word mundane? It sounds sacrilegious.

What does it matter, though, that Issachar received the territories around Jezreel, Chesulloth, Shunem, and 13 other cities? Or that Manasseh's land reached from Asher to Michmethah, just east of Shechem?

Joshua tells us why these obscure details are important: So that the Israelites would have specific and extensive evidence that God does what he says he will do.

Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:45)

The more detailed the report of God's faithfulness, the more proof that indeed not one word of his had been false. He promised their forefathers this land, and now, because of this account in the book of Joshua, they can remember specifically how God was faithful. Faithful in concrete detail. Faithful down to the most boring of trivia.

As Joshua died, he said to the Israelites,
You know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. (23:14)

It's true that knowing Michmethah is east of Shechem ranks very low in the list of facts that are important to know from the Bible. But it matters, because the sum of all the dull details that God has accomplished proves that whatever he promises, he will do.

We have a God who keeps a tally of sparrows, who counts the hairs on our head (Luke 12:6-7), and who watches over the grass as it grows (Matthew 6:30). If that's not boring, what is? But it is his power over the mundane and trivial details that proves his power over the universe. And because of this power, we know he can keep his promises.

cc: DGblog

Millionaires are just a dime a 700 now!

Suppose all of the world's wealthiest people got together and pooled their assets into one lump sum. How much money would that be?

According to the New York Post, a report released Wednesday, the combined wealth of the globe's richest individuals rose more than 11 percent to a grand total of $37.2 trillion last year.

...Thanks to a strong global economy, 9.5 million people held at least $1 million in financial assets — excluding the value of their primary homes — in 2006, up from 8.7 million in 2005, according to the 11th annual World Wealth Report compiled by Merrill Lynch & Co. and the consulting firm Capgemini Group.

...Those accumulated trillions give these individuals control of about a quarter of the world's total wealth, or nearly three times the United States' gross domestic product.

...If all ranks of the world's wealthiest decided to give away their combined assets, they could pay off the U.S. federal deficit, 250 times over. Or they could write a check for nearly $33,000 to every resident of India, though some investors there are faring well on their own.
Wealth among the world's rich is expected to hit $51.6 trillion by 2011, growing at an annual rate of 6.8 percent, the study stated.

INTERESTING: In the annual study's first breakdown of philanthropic giving, individuals worth $1 million or more donated an estimated total of $285 billion in 2006.

SADLY: This $285 billion dollars in donation only add to 0.007 of the total $37.2 trillion earned!

Friday, June 29, 2007

SWEET CAR CHASE AT DISNEY

I'm not going to lie, this was pretty impressive. I wonder how many Ferraris they crashed learning this sequence...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The True Cost of a New iPhone

This quick and dirty spreadsheet indicates the total cost of iPhone ownership over a 24 month contract, excluding likely extras such as accessories and hidden charges.

Daily Quote

“I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Not too much—just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture. I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races—especially if they smell. I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. I would like about three dollars worth of gospel please.” (D.A. Carson, Basics for Believers, an exposition of Philippians), pp.12-13.

Our Father and Mother, Who Art In Heaven?

One of the most important issues facing the church today, as it has for centuries past, centers around the matter of changing language when speaking of God. Language is always changing. Dictionaries and grammars are frequently revised to include new words and phrases which become more commonplace with the march of time. Some radical feminists and revisionists are saying that the Scriptures are written in male terms and that the Bible should be corrected or adapted to fit today’s post-post-postmodern culture (I may have left out a few “posts”). They maintain that we must eliminate the male bias which supposedly runs throughout the Bible, and this includes references to the human family (such as "mankind"), and allusions to a male God (such as "the Father"), and the use of male pronouns (such as "he"). They argue that Bible descriptions are authoritarian and gender distinctive and in our day such terms are no longer useful; Biblical language must accommodate itself to the insights of the modern age.

For some time it has been quite evident that there are those working diligently to perform a major sex-change operation on the Bible's language. This is a high-priority agenda item for some people. And although I believe the trend toward inclusive language is not all bad, I believe it has gone too far. And the "too far" for us has to do primarily with the attempt to eliminate all male references to the God of Scripture.

Some Inclusivist Examples:

In our day, the feminist critics are calling for a number of word changes that would make our language more inclusive of men and women. It is true that there have been some biases built into the words and phrases that are commonly used in church circles. It is not always helpful, for example, to refer to a congregation as "men" or "brethren." In sensitivity to other persons, we can make an effort to be inclusive. We do not object to using the phrase "men and women" (instead of "men") when referring to people, nor is it offensive to speak of "chairpersons" instead of chairmen," or to say "mail carrier" instead of mailman."

It is okay with most people to say that "utility men" are "utility persons" and that "manholes" are "person holes." It doesn't bother most of us if inspectors want to work in "sewer holes" instead of "manholes." And certainly all of us should intentionally avoid use of stereotypes such as 11 woman driver" or "scatterbrained female." However, the present-day discussion in church circles is not primarily concerned with typical references to people. The more serious concern centers around language which is used in reference to God.

There are groups within our churches that call for widening the terms used for God so that the language includes female images of God. They want all exclusive male references to God removed from the Bible. The language and wordpictures used in the Bible, they say, must be changed. The National Council of Churches, for example, has prepared inclusive translations of Scripture passages for use in its Lectionaries. In the NCC-sponsored Inclusive Language Lectionary, language for people is changed to include women as well as men. For example, it can be helpful to translate "Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly" (Psalm 1:1) as "Blessed are those who walk not in the counsel of the ungodly" -and to render "Let your light shine before men" (Matthew 5:16), as "Let your light shine before others"--and to say, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men and women," instead of the translation formerly used. But to change language about God (to speak of God as Father "and Mother," and Christ as "Child" of God) is unacceptable and can lead to some serious consequences, some of which I will briefly mention:

(a) God as Mother

The Scripture translations for the Inclusive Language add the words "and Mother" whenever there are references to God the Father. It is true that in several Old Testament texts, God is pictured as a woman giving birth, as a mother tending a small child, as a nursing mother, as a woman putting food and water on the table, etc. Christians down through the years have often referred to the motherly tenderness of God. It is true that in some ways God is like a mother-but God is never called "Mother." This is something significant. When we speak of God as "Father," we are including not only His fatherly (but also His motherly) qualities.

The word "Father" is the most distinctive name that Christians use for God. It is interesting to note that Muslims have 99 names for God (Protector, Provider, etc.), but not one of them is "Father." Christians have learned to use the name "Father" by following the example of Jesus; this was the name by which He knew God. Even as a boy, Jesus said, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49 NKJV). The last words of Jesus on the Cross were, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He said, "Say, Our Father who art in heaven." And it is dangerous for us to tamper with those words. The prayer begins with "Our Father," and goes on to say, "Hallowed be thy name." What name? The name which opens the prayer—" Father." To use the word "Father" when referring to God is simply to follow the example which Jesus set for us.

There is also a trend in hymnwriting that uses feminine imagery for God. British poet Brian Wren is a leader in the trend in hymnwriting. One of Wren's most controversial hymns is entitled "Strong Mother God." The hymn begins by calling God "Mother." Later verses address God as warm, father God; great, living God; old, aching God; and young, growing God." For the feminists, the hymn "God of our Fathers" becomes "God of the Ages." The line of another hymn is changed from "Like a loving father" to "Like a loving parent."

(b) Jesus as Lord

Inclusivists say that to sing songs like "The Church's One Foundation is Jesus Christ Our Lord"-is to use sexist language and is not sensitive to the concerns of women. They say that the Bible (with all its talk about "lords" and “kings") reflects an ancient feudal society which is not acceptable in our day.

The feminist critics find something grievously wrong with the beginning of the Twenty-third Psalm. The sentence "The Lord is my shepherd," they say, has a male-oriented sound, and so it is translated "God is my shepherd." In their view, no one is in a position of "lord" over another. The words of Sarah recorded in I Peter 3 make them cringe: "So once the holy women who hoped in God ... were submissive to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord" (I Peter 3:5-6, RSV). The word "lord" is a four-letter "no-no" in feminist thinking.
Dropping the term "Lord" (in reference to Jesus) is a serious departure from truth. Early Christians repeatedly declared that "Jesus is Lord.” This was in direct contradiction to the loyalties of citizens in the Mediterranean world. Citizens of the Roman Empire were required to declare that "Caesar is lord" (meaning that "Caesar is God")-and precisely because Christians confessed that Jesus is Lord, many early Christians lost their lives. They refused to bow their knee to Caesar. If we drop the word "Lord" (when referring to Jesus), we are in effect denying the totality of who Jesus is, and we are not giving due credit to the special relationship which Jesus has with the Father, who (along with the Holy Spirit) are one God manifest in three Persons.

In the new translations, Jesus is no longer "Son of God" or "Son of man," but He is now "Child of God" or "Human One." And the sentences are re-written so that the pronouns "he" and "him" do not appear. Thus, in the new translations, John 3:16 reads, "For God so loved the world that God gave God's only Child, that whoever believes in that Child should not perish, but have eternal life."

What’s the Result of All This?

What is behind all this call for change in language? Where might it eventually lead us? Since meaning is bound up in language and God has decided to reveal himself to us most directly in the form of words, surely one cannot change the language for God without altering his understanding of who God is.

The result of changing the description of God from "Father" to "Mother/ Father" is to create the picture of a partly male and partly female God. And to make Christ "the Child" instead of "the Son" is to picture Him as immature. To speak of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-as "Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier"- may at first seem like an innocent change. But the terms "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" have a precise theological meaning which is not communicated by any other terms. The words "Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier" are functional names (focusing on God's deeds), whereas "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" are names that focus on God's own essence and the nature of His being. There are a number of results that rise out of attempts to tamper with the names for God.

(a) Questions the Validity of Special Revelation

To believe that God is creator is self-evident; it is something which all religions believe and teach in some form or another. But to believe in God as Father is not self-evident; that belief comes to us especially through what Jesus tells us about God. In Matthew we read, "...no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matthew 11:27b, NIV).

(b) Takes Lightly the True Authority of Jesus

God is referred to as "Father" in twenty-five of the New Testament Books. Thus the teaching about God as "Father" is not an obscure doctrine.

Was Jesus wrong in telling us to pray to God by saying, "Our Father who art in heaven"? And if Jesus was wrong in teaching us to address God as "Father," He might be wrong about other things as well. To eliminate the word "Father" when referring to God is to deny that Jesus had any valid authority.

God is a deliberate God. He is not random or haphazard in his judgments. He is infinitely wise and sovereign. And if we believe so, we should believe and accept his revelation to us as "Father" as perfect and pleasing and acceptable.

(c) Diminishes God to the Level of the Mundane

To present God as "Mother and Father" is not only clumsy, but also repulsive to concerned Christians. God (when called "Mother and Father") becomes a side-show freak instead of the supreme Person who deserves our highest reverence. If people are allowed to describe God at whim, most any image could appear.

Furthermore, to add "and Mother" when referring to God the Father, has (at some places) an awkward implication. For example, in the NCC translation of John 15:26, Jesus promises "the Spirit of truth who proceeds from [God] the Father [and Mother].- This seems to add a heretical Fourth Person to the Trinity.

Is the controversy surrounding the God-language debate more serious than most people are willing to admit? I think the evidence is mounting that what is happening in the church is not simply a change in language, but a change in faith.

In conclusion then, it is not a serious infraction of good judgment to try and eliminate an overuse of the male pronouns when speaking of people. The pronoun "he" has long been used in our English language to include both men and women. We say, "A school student must study his lessons if he expects to pass the test." The statement refers to boys and girls who are students in school. Such a use of the masculine pronoun "he" is acceptable, but to re-word the sentence so as to limit the use of the masculine pronoun is certainly proper. Instead of saying, "The average American drinks his coffee black," we can say, "The average American drinks black coffee." And in the Bible, minor editorial changes which avoid overusing the male pronoun can be a healthy improvement in translation. Instead of, "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20), it is not offensive to say, "if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in" (as translated in the New International Version).

The real concern, which Christians like myself have, have arises out of the dangers which surface when attempts are made to re-write the language pertaining to God.

Honestly, as well meaning as some of the people in the inclusivist camp may be, I believe the strong endeavor at language change as another in a long list of attempts to undermine the authority and finality of the Word of God. Tinkering with the Bible's words cannot be done without changing the Bible's message. Sometimes I wonder if those who are so unhappy with God as Father are really satisfied with Him as God at all.

More Questions…

Does anybody really feel left outside God's offer of salvation and grace because the words do not always specifically refer to all genders? Must "children" and "boys and girls" always be mentioned along with grownups for them to know that they are not excluded from God's plan? Are there really some women and girls who honestly believe that the use of male terms or masculine pronouns in Holy Scripture has barred them from the promises of God?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

For the Movie-Goers

Consider this graphic Hollywood plotline: A man travels to Las Vegas to retrieve his cheating wife. On the way back to Los Angeles, the two stop at a rundown motel in Death Valley. During the night, a mob of sexual degenerates surrounds their cabin, threatening to sodomize the man. Hoping to appease the bloodlust, the man throws his wife outside—and when morning comes, the mob has left nothing of her but a corpse. The man cuts up her body and sends pieces of it to his friends… But that's nothing compared to the bloodbath that follows.

No, this isn't the synopsis for Saw IV or the latest Quentin Tarantino gore-fest. It's an update of a not-so-familiar biblical story from Judges 20-21. But imagine if that story were made into a film. How the critics would rant, Christian and otherwise. If told without flinching, the story would earn an NC-17 rating for sure; and there's probably no way to tell it in a fashion that would cut the rating to PG-13. Of what possible redemptive value could such a story be?

But there it is in Scripture, nonetheless. Why? In the context of the book of Judges, it sums up, in brutal clarity and with little or no ethical commentary, what it looks like when a society does what it pleases, with no moral authority to guide it. In the larger context of pre-exile history, it demonstrates how Israel abandoned God's headship in favor of corrupt human governance. In the context of God's plan for salvation, it shows how man's self-preoccupation can run counter to God's agenda: Israel's retribution in this story almost wipes out the tribe of Benjamin, from whom Jesus' human lineage—and the Apostle Paul's—later springs.

Context is everything.

So Simple It Is Scary. Like Bears.

Many of my friends have an unbridled passion and zeal for world missions. And as far as I can tell, it doesn't get much better than seeing and hearing and touching and beholding and participating in what God is doing on a global scale. It's electric--to say the least. God is truly about the business of doing amazing things....

Bears do amazing things. They can run, climb, and shave a tree with their claws in a matter of seconds. They are also known for sleeping for months at a time, catching fish without the use of opposing thumbs, and swimming great distances in freezing cold water really fast! (That last sentence was amazing--but not as amazing as bears.)

The sad thing is, today the church is like a bear fed by tourists. It's lost its natural ability. We need to share Christ in meaningful ways without just inviting people to a congregational event. Let me just suggest one brief idea: let's get that back by starting where people are, listening to them, building a relationship, telling them about Jesus, sharing with them the story of redemption, and bringing them to a bloody cross and an empty tomb.

The Tyranny of "Felt Needs"

"Need for significance"? It is surely a good thing for the works of your hands to be established forever: gold, silver, and precious stones, not wood, hay, and straw. It is good when what you do with your life truly counts, and when your works follow you into eternity. Vanity, futility, and ultimate insignificance register the curse upon our work life – even midcourse, not just when we retire, or when we die, or on the Day of Judgment. But the real gospel inverts the order of things presupposed by the therapeutic gospel. The craving for impact and significance – one of the typical "youthful lusts" that boil up within us – is merely idolatrous when it acts as Director of Operations in the human heart. God does not meet your need for significance; he meets your need for mercy and deliverance from your obsession with personal significance. When you turn from your enslavement and turn to God, then your works do start to count for good. The gospel of Jesus and the fruit of faith are not tailored to "meet your needs." He frees from the tyranny of felt needs, remakes you to fear God and keep his commandments (Eccl. 12:13). In the divine irony of grace, that alone makes what you do with your life of lasting value." - David Powlison

Monday, June 25, 2007

Daily Quote

"The gospel gives you psychological freedom to handle the wrong things that you will do. You won’t have to deny, spin, or repress the truth about yourself. These things don’t make it impossible to know who you are. Only with the support of hearing Jesus say, “You are capable of terrible things, but I am absolutely, unconditionally committed to you,” will you be able to be honest with yourself." - Tim Keller

Monday, June 18, 2007

Daily Quote

"The amount of misrepresentation to which Calvin's theology has been subjected is enough to prove his doctrine of total depravity several times over." - J.I. Packer

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Britain's Got Talent - Paul Potts

This guy blew my mind...over and over again.

For an extreme polarization of talent and ability...watch the video directly underneath this one.

THIS GUY IS GREAT!

Hey Ken!
Hey Barbie!
I work in a chicken factory.
Good.

If you didn't think this was instantly one of the funniest/creepiest things you have ever seen...watch it again at 2:05 a.m.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

He's Always Been Faithful...


God is always faithful.

For those of you who haven't heard, this past Monday I became engaged to the most beautiful person I know. She's my best friend, my soon-to-be wife, and God-willing, someday she will be the mother of my children. She makes me happy when I don't deserve to be, makes me smile when I am too selfish to smile, makes me laugh when I really didn't feel like laughing, makes me love for reasons I can't explain. She is beautiful.

God is so good.

For those of you who feel called to pray for us in these coming months, feel free to pray the prayer of St. Francis of Assissi with us...

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.



My lover spoke and said to me, "Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.

Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.

The cooing of doves is heard in our land.

The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.

Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me."

Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Are We Glad?

The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. - Psalm 126:3

Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, but with scarcely any reference to the mercy and help that God has provided them. But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state will come forward joyously and say, "I will not speak about myself, but to the honor of my God. He has brought me up out of a horrible pit and out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings; and He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God. The Lord has done great things for me--I am glad." This summary of experience is the very best that any child of God can present. It is true that we endure trials, but it is just as true that we are delivered out of them. It is true that we have our corruptions, and sadly we acknowledge this, but it is just as true that we have an all-sufficient Savior who overcomes these corruptions and delivers us from their dominion. In looking back, it would be wrong to deny that we have been in the Slough of Despond and have crept along the Valley of Humiliation, but it would be equally wicked to forget that we have been through them safely and profitably; we have not remained in them, thanks to our Almighty Helper and Leader, who has "brought us out to a place of abundance."1 The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through them all and preserved us until today. Our griefs cannot spoil the melody of our praise; we consider them to be the "bass line" of our life's song, "The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad."

1) Psalm 66:12

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

D.A. Carson & Ray Anderson:On Love

D.A. Carson. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God

“I do not think that what the Bible says about the love of God can long survive at the forefront of our thinking if it is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, or the personhood of God—to mention only a few nonnegotiable elements of basic Christianity. The result, of course, is that the love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized.” (11)

“Today most people seem to have little difficulty believing in the love of God; they have far more difficulty believing in the justice of God, the wrath of God, and the non-contradictory truthfulness of an omniscient God. But is the biblical teaching on the love of God maintaining its shape when the meaning of “God” dissolves in mist?” (12)

“The transcendent, majestic, awesome God of Luther and Calvin…has undergone a softening of demeanor through the American experience of Protestantism, with only minor exceptions…Many of the sermons depict a God whose behavior is regular, patterned, and predictable; he is portrayed in terms of the consistency of his behavior, of the conformity of his actions to the single rule of ‘love.’” (13)

“…one of the most dangerous results of the impact of contemporary sentimentalized versions of love on the church is our widespread inability to think through the fundamental questions that alone enable us to maintain a doctrine of God in biblical proportion and balance.” (15)

“If the love of God is exclusively portrayed as an inviting, yearning, sinner-seeking, rather lovesick passion, we may strengthen the hands of…those more interested in God’s inner emotional life than in his justice and glory, but the cost will be massive.” (22)

“We too quickly think of our salvation almost exclusively with respect to its bearing on us. Certainly there is endless ground for wonder in the Father’s love for us, in Jesus’ love for us. But undergirding them, most basic than they are, is the Father’s love for the Son.” (35)

“There has always been an other-orientation to the love of God. All the manifestations of the love of God emerge out of this deeper, more fundamental reality: love is bound up in the very nature of God. God is love.” (39)

“Strange to tell, not once is Jesus or God ever described in the Bible as our friend. Abraham is God’s friend; the reverse is never stated.” (41)

“The Westminster Confession of Faith asserts that God is ‘without…passions.’ …at its best impassibility is trying to avoid a picture of a God who is changeable, give over to mood swings, dependent upon his creatures. Our passions shape our direction and frequently control our will. What shall we say of God?” (48-49)

“If we picture the crucifixion of Jesus Christ solely in terms of the conspiracy of the local political authorities at the time, and not in terms of God’s plan…then the entailment is that the cross was an accident of history. Perhaps it was an accident cleverly manipulated by God in his own interests, but it was not part of the divine plan. In that case, the entire pattern of antecedent predictive revelation is destroyed: Yom Kippur, the Passover Lamb, the sacrificial system, and so forth. Rip Hebrews out of your Bible, for a start.” (53)

Rightly conceived, God’s immutability is enormously important. It engenders stability and elicits worship…He is unchanging in his being, purposes, and perfections. But this does not mean he cannot interact with his image-bearers in their time…Even the most superficial reading of Scripture discloses God to be a personal Being who interacts with us. None of this is meant to be ruled out by immutability.” (54-55)

“If God is utterly sovereign, anD if he is utterly all-knowing, what space is left for emotions as we think of them? The diving oracles that picture God in pain or joy or love surely seem a little out of place, do they not, when this God knows the end from the beginning, cannot be surprised, and remains in charge of the whole thing anyway? From such a perspective, is it not obvious that the doctrine of the love of God is difficult?” (58)

“The impassibility of God…is trying to ward off the kind of sentimentalizing views of the love of God an of other emotions (“passions”) in God that ultimately make him a souped-up human being but no more.” (59-60)

“God’s emotions, including his love in all its aspects, cannot be divorced from God’s knowledge, God’s power, God’s will. If God loves us, it is because he chooses to love; if he suffers, it is because he chooses to suffer. God is impassible in the sense that he sustains no “passion,” no emotion, that makes him vulnerable from the outside, over which he has no control, or which he has not forseen.” (60)

“Our passions change our direction and priorities, domesticating our will, controlling our misery and our happiness, surprising and destroying or establishing our commitments. But God’s “passions,” like everything else in God, are displayed in conjuction with the fullness of all his other perfections. In that framework, God’s love is not so much a function of his will, as something that displays itself in perfect harmony with his will—and with his holiness, his purposes in redemption, his infinitely wise plans, and so forth…This approach to these matters accounts well for certain biblical truths of immense practical importance. God does not ‘fall in love’ with the elect; he does not ‘fall in love’ with us; he sets his affection on us. He does not predestine us out of some stern whimsy; rather, in love he predestines us to be adopted as his sons (Eph. 1:4-5). The texts themselves tie the love of God to other perfections in God.” (60-61)

Ray S. Anderson. The Soul of God

“We can say that God is love, but the reverse cannot be said: love, by human standards, is not God. The reductionism of divine love to human love leads to a confusion of tongues.” (76)

“We should not shrink from expressing God’s love in terms that reflect the passion of God by which he enters into the human situation so fully that it requires him to enter the depths of human estrangement.” (79)

“If divine love is troubled, it is not by anxiety or unrest within love itself. What arouses passion in the love of God is not an unfulfilled need, but a longing to embrace the diving image in another. This longing is the fulfillment of love which may yet suffer the contingencies of time and chance in this temporal life.” (80)

“[D]ivine impassibility—the theory that God does not experience emotion and feelings such as humans do. This view of God’s being held that for God to experience emotion would introduce change in God’s being, which would conflict with another theory that God was unchangeable and immutable…Professor Torrance was somewhat resistant to my suggesting that God surely must experience emotion and have deep passion as Jesus did.” (80)

“And when the Father did not spare his own Son but freely delivered him up for us all in atoning sacrifice, the Cross became a window into the innermost heart of God and the nature of his love. It tells us that God loves us more than he loves himself.” (81)

“To suffer is to hope for something with such passion that we are bound to be disappointed.” (83)

“They finally accept the tragic as due to sin, but not as a reality of love. Thus, the love of God is preserved (in their minds) as an ideal form of love, and their sense of God’s presence and favor as fragile as their faith.” (84)

Are All Sins Equal?

Question: Are all sins weighed equally, or is one more important than another? —Linda Linton, Celina, Ohio

J.I. Packer responds:

This question leads into what for many evangelicals has become uncharted territory. We think of conversion as the moment when the guilt of all our sins—past, present, and future—is washed away by the atoning blood of Christ. As sinners justified by faith and heirs of promised glory, we rejoice in salvation and think no more about our continued shortcomings and how God might "weigh" them.

If asked, we explain our attitude as true evangelical assurance. But is it?

The Puritans of history were evangelicals too, but on this point they differed from us considerably. They remembered that Christ taught us to pray daily for forgiveness. One of their spiritual disciplines (not yet one of ours, generally) was self-examination each evening to discern what actions in particular, done or left undone, they needed to ask pardon for.

In the forefront of their minds was the holiness of God, the awfulness of his anger, and his amazing patience in nurturing and correcting his irresponsible, recalcitrant children. These were the realities framing their certainty that the precious blood of Christ cleanses faithful repenters from all sin. Most later evangelicals were with them until the 20th century. We are the ones out of step.

Scripture shows that in God's estimate some sins are worse and bring greater guilt than others, and that some sins do us more damage. Moses rates the golden calf debacle a great sin (Ex. 32:30). Ezekiel in his horrific allegory says that after Oholah (Samaria) had ruined herself by unfaithfulness to God, Oholibah (Jerusalem) "became more corrupt … in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister" (Ezek. 23:11, ESV). John distinguishes sins that do and do not inevitably lead to death ...

cc: ChristianityToday

Is a fetus part of a woman's body?

Andrew Coulson of The Ganteloupe wrote in to offer an answer:
When you write about abortion, it isn't clear whether you really fail to understand the abortion rights position, or you are simply feigning ignorance as a rhetorical device. If it's the former, I'd like to answer your question on the difference between a fetus and an infant.

Many supporters of abortion rights consider self-ownership to be the most elementary and inviolable right of all: We are all the owners of our own bodies. The difference between a fetus and an infant is that a fetus is a part of a pregnant woman's body whereas an infant is not. Libertarians do not want the very visible hand of government rooting around in women's uteruses, telling them what they can or can't do with any fetuses that happen to reside there. Any rights of a fetus are secondary because its existence is secondary to (and until late in the pregnancy, entirely dependent on) the woman in whose womb it is located.

The fact that abortion is a sad business is moot.

--------

James Taranto responds, by arguing that "self-ownership" is an archaic concept, that human as property has been long discredited, and that no mothers speak of carrying a "fetus."

Here are four other arguments. Perhaps there are more--feel free to suggest some in the comments section below.

1. If a "fetus" is a "part" of a pregnant woman's body, then they would have a common genetic code, since a "part" of a body is defined by its having the same genetic code as other "parts" in the body. (For example, the lungs and legs and livers of Person X all have the same genetic code.) An unborn baby is a genetically distinct being; therefore it is not a part of its mother's body.

2. If a "fetus" is a "part" of a pregnant woman's body, then if the woman died, the part would die as well. (For example, lungs and legs and livers don't live on when a woman dies). But an unborn baby can survive the death of a mother--see Bobbi Jo Stinnett--therefore is it not a part of its mother's body.

3. If a "fetus" is a "part" of a preganant woman's body, then the woman would have four eyes, two hearts, four lungs, etc. And yes, if the "fetus" is a boy, then the mother would also have male sexual organs.

4. Why does Caulson think that a "fetus" is "part" of a pregnant woman's body? There's only two possible reasons I can think of: (a) because the "fetus" is inside the woman; (b) because the "fetus" is dependent on the woman for survival. But both are absurd criteria: (a') being in the hospital doesn't make me part of the hospital (in that sense that I'm am no longer an individual, distinct entity); and (b') being dependant upon a life-support machine does not make me a part of the life-support machine.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Daily Quote

Another gem from my favorite Baptist:

It is a great privilege to hear the gospel. You may smile and think there is nothing very great in it. The damned in hell know. Oh, what would they give if they could hear the gospel now? If they could come back and entertain but the shadow of a hope that they might escape from the wrath to come? The saved in heaven estimate this privilege at a high rate, for, having obtained salvation through the preaching of this gospel, they can never cease to bless their God for calling them by his word of truth. O that you knew it! On your dying beds the listening to a gospel sermon will seem another thing than it seems now.” C.H. Spurgeon

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Daily Quote

"I am not to make God's decrees the rule of my walk. I am to make God's revealed will my rule of action. Christ tells me to 'Preach the gospel to every creature;' and if I were absolutely certain there was not one elect man upon earth, I would obey and preach the gospel for all that; because if there were not a single soul saved by it, we are unto God a sweet-smelling savor." - Charles Spurgeon

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Worst Wife

Several men are in the locker room of a golf club. A cell phone on a bench rings and a man engages the hands-free speaker- function and begins to talk. Everyone else in the room stops to listen.

MAN: "Hello"
WOMAN: "Honey, it's me. Are you at the club?"
MAN: "Yes."
WOMAN: "I'm at the mall now and found this beautiful leather coat. It's only $1,000. Is it OK if I buy it?"
MAN: "Sure, go ahead if you like it that much."
WOMAN: "I also stopped by the Mercedes dealership and saw the new 2007 models. I saw one I really liked."
MAN: "How much?"
WOMAN: "$65,000."
MAN: "OK, but for that price I want it with all the options."
WOMAN: "Great! Oh, and one more thing. The house we wanted last year is back on the market. They're asking $950,000."
MAN: "Well, then go ahead and give them an offer, but just offer $900,000."
WOMAN: "OK. I'll see you later! I love you!"
MAN: "Bye, I love you, too."

The man hangs up. The other men in the locker room are looking at him in astonishment. Then he smiles and asks: "Anyone know whose phone this is?"

The Perfect Husband

Several men are in the locker room of a golf club. A cell phone on a bench rings and a man engages the hands-free speaker- function and begins to talk. Everyone else in the room stops to listen.

MAN: "Hello"
WOMAN: "Honey, it's me. Are you at the club?"
MAN: "Yes."
WOMAN: "I'm at the mall now and found this beautiful leather coat. It's only $1,000. Is it OK if I buy it?"
MAN: "Sure, go ahead if you like it that much."
WOMAN: "I also stopped by the Mercedes dealership and saw the new 2007 models. I saw one I really liked."
MAN: "How much?"
WOMAN: "$65,000."
MAN: "OK, but for that price I want it with all the options."
WOMAN: "Great! Oh, and one more thing. The house we wanted last year is back on the market. They're asking $950,000."
MAN: "Well, then go ahead and give them an offer, but just offer $900,000."
WOMAN: "OK. I'll see you later! I love you!"
MAN: "Bye, I love you, too."

The man hangs up. The other men in the locker room are looking at him in astonishment. Then he smiles and asks: "Anyone know whose phone this is?"

Daily Quote

Concerning the situation in Darfur:

"The choice here is far from obvious. Escalation has risks; if not done in earnest, it is better not to begin at all. America is understandably weary and distracted. But a question hangs over the history of our time: Are we too tired to oppose genocide?" - Michael Gerson

When Cussing Isn't Cussing

The folks over at DesiringGod posted this today and I thought it was worth reposting. Be sure to read Andrew's thoughtful article before closing your mind today.

Here it is:

Andrew Jones posts a thoughtful article (see below) on how offensive language is relative and constantly changing.

Sometimes it seems like there are two extreme camps in this recurrent Christians-and-cussing debate. One group can come across as saying, "Any words we don't like, God doesn't like either." And the other group can seem equally loving: "I'll say whatever I want. Get over it."

Jones is in neither of these camps. He makes it clear that no words can be objectively immoral in themselves, but this does not mean there is license to use any language you want to, regardless of who's listening.

From his conclusion:

Again, let's use words to build people up. Lets NOT use our words or our blogs for slandering others or expressing our anger. Give your anger to God and let him deal with it. Words can tear down or build up. Lets build each other up and not grieve the Holy Spirit.

...

And when it comes to choosing words to express oneself, I try to keep in mind my audience. ...Why offend when we have a message to get across? But its not always easy to express oneself fully to multiple generations.

And if the person i am listening to uses a word that offends me, I will be quick to believe the best (1 Cor 13) and assume that they have walked a different path, and what i consider offensive may not necessarily be the same standard by which they judge their words. But there is still a place for rebuke and correction.

Andrew's "thoughtful article" can be found here:
http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/2007/06/offensive_langu.html

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Speedy Catholics


Here is a good sign your Catholic friend may be driving too fast...

Be Mindful of the Little Foxes

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards. - Song of Solomon 2:15

A little thorn can cause much suffering. A small cloud may hide the sun. Tiny foxes spoil the vineyards; and little sins do mischief to the tender heart. These small sins burrow in the soul and fill it with what is hateful to Christ, and thus our comfortable fellowship and communion with Him is spoiled. A great sin cannot destroy a Christian, but a little sin can make him miserable. Jesus will not walk with His people unless they drive out every known sin. He says, "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love."1 Some Christians rarely enjoy their Savior's presence. How is this? Surely it must be an affliction for a tender child to be separated from his father. Are you a child of God, and yet satisfied to live without seeing your Father's face? What! You are the spouse of Christ, and yet content to be absent from His company! Surely, you have fallen into a sad state, for the pure spouse of Christ mourns like a dove without her mate when he has left her. Here is the question: What has driven Christ from you? He hides His face behind the wall of your sins. That wall may be made up of little pebbles as easily as of great stones. The sea is made of drops; the rocks are made of grains: And the sea that divides you from Christ may be filled with the drops of your little sins; and the rock that almost wrecked the vessel of your life may have been made by the daily working of the coral insects of your little sins. If you would live with Christ and walk with Christ and see Christ and have fellowship with Christ, pay attention to "the little foxes that spoil the vineyard, for our vineyards are in blossom." Jesus invites you to go with Him against them. He will surely, like Samson, take the foxes at once and easily. Go with Him to the hunting.

1) John 15:10

cc: Truth for Life

Word of the Day

youniverse: The entirety of creation that relates to one specific, narcissistic individual. Used to indicate that a particular person has knowledge only of him or herself -- their universe consists only of them.

If you moved outside of your youniverse for five seconds you'd understand that people aren't homeless out of choice.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Blind Science vs. Blind Faith

Students in our colleges and universities live constantly in a tension between two authority systems: one more or less vaguely associated with science and the other with religion. Both systems are “blind” in the sense that the edicts they impose on thought and behavior are never, for the vast majority of people, reduced to anything close to understanding, verification, or proof. An illustration comes from a recent experience reported by one of my friends.

This student was walking across campus with a professor whose field is religious studies. In their conversation, the student happened to mention the resurrection of Christ. The professor's response: The resurrection is inconsistent with the laws of physics. Now, in fact, the laws of physics lie at a considerable conceptual distance from phenomena such as human death and decay and their possible reversal. This particular professor in any case, would have little if any idea where to begin showing that resurrection conflicts with physics—or why it matters, if it does conflict. Indeed, who would? Very few, I would imagine. "Science" was vaguely invoked to end the discussion, just as in other contexts, "religion" is used for the same purpose.

But then the professor probably will never be confronted with the task of actually demonstrating how the resurrection is inconsistent with the laws of physics. The student in question, an extremely bright as well as devout young man, was too gracious (and perhaps stunned) to force the issue; and certainly he would have found it difficult to show that the resurrection and physics are not inconsistent or why it doesn't matter if they are.

It is painful to observe that our culture provides no friendly meeting place for the authorities of science and religion to engage in good‑faith efforts to understand the truth about our life and our world. How many people seek or find the preparation required to deal profitably with issues such as resurrection and the laws of physics? To be genuinely open to truth and able to seek it effectively is surely one of the greatest human attainments. I am convinced that it can come only as a gift of God’s grace. It implies faith in a cosmic context where one no longer feels the need to hide, to invoke explanations that really explain nothing at all but simply enable one to hold a position with an appearance of reasonableness.

The professor who invoked physics is surrounded constantly with things and events for which no physical explanation yet exists, nor even the beginnings of one. Just look at the physics texts and see. A most obvious case is the existence of the physical universe itself, as well as of life and human consciousness. When confronted with the de facto inability of physics in this respect, the academically sanctified dodge is to invoke chance, along with huge spans of time, for everything to "work," and further, to invoke the promise of what science (really, physics) supposedly will be able to explain in the future as it continues to make progress. But chance is not something that can produce or explain anything. Rather, it is invoked precisely at the point where there is no known explanation or cause. And if something is, indeed, impossible, it will not help to have more time to get it done. We need a demonstration of the possibility, for example, of life's emerging from the inorganic, and then we can talk about time. But the assumptions of this "scientific" evasion are so complicated and culturally protected that most people confronting it do not realize they have been handed intellectual sawdust instead of bread.

Unfortunately, religion frequently invokes its own non‑explanations as a means of holding its ground. Usually these involve the idea that God's power is so great that we can say with reference to anything simply that He did it and thus have an explanation that protects us. There's no need to look further or think further.

Now God's act as an explanatory principle has an advantage over chance in that we all know something of what it is like for an act or choice to bring something about. Nothing comparable can be said of chance. Personality is a source of energy and causation with an intelligible structure. It simply is not a physical structure. But there is no good reason it should be, and once you think about it, every reason it should not. For if it were, the fundamental feature of human life and consciousness would be destroyed or reduced to illusion. As long as we recognize that knowledge does not reduce to physics, and as long as we understand that science is just knowledge, we have every right to speak of the possibility of a science that encompasses consciousness in divine and human forms along with the physical and whatever else there may be.

The impasse of authorities confronting authorities (or intimidating others) begins to dissolve when prepared and thoughtful people devote themselves to the humble examination of facts and evidence rather than to defending their positions. It is difficult to imagine anything more necessary and Godlike than this. We must escape the cultural deadlock that is turning universities—and churches—into places of “right views,” rather than thought and knowledge, and producing a Christian personality split into a religious side and a professional, intellectual side which never come into contact.

Important work of reconciliation needs to be done. Progress is possible if a vast number of Christians, devoted and qualified, will permeate all dimensions of society and bring the Spirit and power of Christ to bear upon the points where the authority structures of the intellectual professions are in blind conflict with genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

The Nature of Genesis & The Role of Science

Vern Poythress in his book Redeeming Science begins with a thoroughly Christian worldview. God is the creator of the world. Everything came into being by Him and through Him (Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1-3). God revealed Himself and reveals Himself through special revelation (scripture) and general revelation (providence and nature, laws of physics …). We all know however, that the real sticking point is the apparent conflict between the interpretation of the data arising from exploration of God’s word in general revelation (science) and the interpret of God’s word contained in the special revelation of Scripture. So how is this apparent conflict to be reconciled?

In Chapters 5-10 of his book Poythress discusses the nature of Genesis, the role of science and the dating of the earth, and the relative merits and flaws of several possible interpretation of Genesis:

1. 24-Hour-Day view: “Literal” reading of Genesis 1 and following - often supplemented by Flood Geology to account for the geological/biological discrepancies.

2. Mature Creation Theory: World brought into being in a short period of time (6 days - probably 24-hour days) with an appearance of age. Reconciliation with science then does not deny the science but simply asserts that Genesis teaches that God created the world in a short period in the form that would have arisen through his created natural process.

3. Religious-Only Theory: Scripture is only intended to address matters of religious not scientific fact.

4. Local Creation Theory: Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3 assert God as creator of all, but the specific descriptions following in Genesis only refer to a small region of the world around the Garden of Eden in modern day Iraq.

5. Gap Theory: There is a large time gap between Genesis 1:1 and the remainder of Genesis. Most of Genesis only refers to the restoration of creation after the fall of Satan.

6. Day-Age Theory: Each day in Genesis refers to a long period of time, an “age” of billions, millions or thousands of years. Each day-age is of a different length. As I understand it this is the view championed by Hugh Ross and his organization. Audio files of lectures describing his approach can be found on the Veritas Forum website.

7. Intermittent Day Theory: The suggestion here is that each day of creation described in Genesis is a “real” day, but the text is silent on vast periods of time between the specific days of creation.

8. Revelatory Day Theory: This theory holds that the days of creation in Genesis refer to the days over which God revealed his creative work to Moses. It recounts the vision through which Moses was inspired to write his account, not the actual days of creation.

9. Framework Theory: The days refer by analogy to God’s work and the account in Genesis is a literary framework describing God’s work in creation, not a literal account. Among others, Lee Irons champions this approach.

10. Analogical Day Theory: God created the world in six days of work followed by one day of rest - but these days of divine work are an analogy rather than an identity with days of human work.

Poythress considers only three of these alternatives as attractive: Mature Creation, Framework, and Analogical Day, although it should be noted that the distinctions between the Analogical Day and Framework theories are subtle.

The mature creation option raises several objections that Poythress considers less than convincing. Most notably: Mature creation implies God as deceiver and mature creation invalidates scientific investigation. Although Poythress doesn’t set much stock in the God as deceiver objection, I find this argument compelling - in part because of the willful appearance of age argument that Poythress discusses, but more importantly because of the intricate and unnecessary web of evidence contained in the fossil record, the geological make-up of the earth, and especially that embedded within the DNA of living creatures.

Despite his unwillingness to rule out the Mature Creation view - Poythress does not feel that the evidence contained in the special revelation of scripture requires this view and instead prefers the Analogical Day interpretation. In coming to this conclusion Poythress borrows from the approach of John Calvin, who took the view that in the inspiration of scripture God is speaking to ordinary people in ordinary language appropriate for all times and all conditions. God accommodates Himself equally to the understanding of the ancient Israelite and the modern engineer and our understanding of scripture should reflect this fact. Our interpretation of scripture should not attempt to impart an unintended technical meaning. Two key citations from Calvin come from his commentary on Genesis - particularly the passages dealing with Genesis 1:6 and 1:16, although there are additional examples in his consideration of other issues and other passages of scripture. As an example consider the following excerpt from the commentary on 1:16:

16. The greater light I have said, that Moses does not here subtly descant, as a philosopher, on the secrets of nature, … Moses makes two great luminaries; but astronomers prove, by conclusive reasons that the star of Saturn, which on account of its great distance, appears the least of all, is greater than the moon. Here lies the difference; Moses wrote in a popular style things which without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to understand; but astronomers investigate with great labor whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them. For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God. …Let the astronomers possess their more exalted knowledge; but, in the meantime, they who perceive by the moon the splendor of night, are convicted by its use of perverse ingratitude unless they acknowledge the beneficence of God.

According to the Analogical Day interpretation the description of creation represents an analogy between the work of God stretching over six divine days followed by a day of rest, and the work of humans in understandable terms, laying groundwork for both the Sabbath day and the Jubilee year commanded in Leviticus. God speaks and teaches through analogy and thus accommodates his revelation to human understanding. In the interpretation of Genesis Poythress also suggests that we should look to different cultural approaches to time - including our current obsession of keeping to the clock and the more interactive experience of time tied to the rhythms of human existence.

“If one goes to Genesis 1 with a clock orientation, one focuses primarily on how long it took, as measured by a clock. But if one goes to Genesis 1 with an interactive orientation, one asks what important events took place, and what was their human social meaning. (139)” The rhythm of work and rest speaks to the ordinary human experience.

In the context of his discussion of the three attractive alternatives, Poythress also deals with two other objections to an extended creation.

First the Mature Creation view falsely implies that plant and animal death came about before the fall and future death would come about with or without the fall and in the other two views death came about before the fall. Considering this, Poythress concludes that nothing in scripture necessitates the view that all death originated with the Fall — only the death of mankind created in the image of God. The second objection is that all of these views undermine the biblical teaching about Noah and the flood. But the objections raised here again presuppose a modern worldview of the earth and the extent of the earth and the nature of the earth as a globe hanging in space. Again, God is speaking in scripture to ordinary people in ordinary situations at the time scripture was recorded and we must not allow our presupposition and assumptions to determine how the scripture must be interpreted.

So - a couple of questions here: In interpreting scripture, especially Genesis and creation, but also other passages and other issues, is it appropriate to include the understanding that God was speaking to ordinary people in ordinary situations in terms and ideas and analogies that they would understand? Given this accommodation, is it reasonable to view the general revelation of the Word of God in nature, learned through science, as filling in the blanks so to speak and revealing more of the mind, nature, and language of God?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

God in The Office


Of all the shows on television, I think that The Office ranks as one of the smartest and funniest. First of all, yes, I’m talking about the U.S. version so all the British Office purists can stop reading if they feel disgusted that I would make such a statement. Anyway, one of the funniest things about The Office is that I meet people like the characters on the show in real life everyday. Most of us, like the writers of the show, have probably had an obnoxious boss like Michael or a sycophantic co-worker like Dwight at their workplace. This is part of what makes The Office so relevant.

In particular, there is one character whom I believe speaks volumes to me about people in reality. Angela Martin is the harsh, judgmental accountant at the Scranton Branch of the Dunder-Mifflin paper company with an extreme negative streak. She is strict, stark, and, unfortunately, she is the only representative of the Christian faith at the office. Angela’s M.O. is to respond coldly to everyone she meets and cast icy, disapproving glares at anyone who does not adhere to her rigid moral standards. When asked to pick three books that she would take on a desert island, she chose the Bible, A Purpose Driven Life, and refused to pick another one. Even as I laugh at her frequent self-righteous tirades, I can’t help but think, “Is that how people see all Christians?” “When people find out I’m a Christian, do they automatically see me as an uptight stickler who wields his values like a no-holds-barred license to judge? A frigid killjoy with a paltry sense of humor?”

This got me to thinking about how I come across when it comes to my opinions about others’ moral standards. I’m just being paranoid right? I can’t be that bad! Or can I? Come to think of it, I often find myself adopting an aloof attitude and thinking “How could any self-respecting person do that?” I won’t usually verbally accost the “offender” in public, but taking pride in my moral “superiority” isn’t any less wrong. Especially after a particularly rousing sermon, my morality sensors are on full alert and I am quick to set judgment phasers to kill when I see someone sinning in ways I wouldn’t be caught dead—at least in the last few weeks anyway. God wants us, as Christians, to be holy. To be holy is to be set apart, but it seems like some Christians tend to interpret “set apart” to mean “set above.” This can seriously hinder our ability as Christians to be everything that we can be in Christ. God also calls us to reach out to and connect with people who don’t know him yet. Seriously, who would want to connect with someone who frowns at any glimmer of humor and throws out labels like “whorish” or “hussy” (some of Angela’s favorite insults) with startling frequency? I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s a definite turn-off for me.

Sure, God doesn’t want us to go out and blend right in with the rest of the crowd who don’t care about His holiness, but that’s where being “set apart” comes in. There is a difference between loving/accepting a person’s actions and loving/accepting a person. When it comes to dealing with a person’s sin, can we just let things slip? Can we go without reprimanding the sinner when he or she sins? The answer is yes. Never once are we given the authority to act as judge, jury, and executioner to a sinner like some sort of Dirty Harry-style vigilante (Do you feel holy? Well, do you punk?).

According to the Bible we can’t even begin to diagnose another person’s faults (compared to a speck in their eye) without removing our faults (compared to a giant board in our eye—check out Matthew 7:4). Judging is God’s job, and he’s the only one with the experience and references to qualify. So next time you cast a haughty glance in your unbelieving co-worker’s direction, remember you’ve probably still got a plank obscuring your view of that glance’s intended recipient. In conclusion, here’s a little something to think about: Angela may be a humorous character created from exaggerated negative Christian stereotypes, but be careful, one day she just might be you.


cc: Jordan Keyes

Monday, May 21, 2007

...but if you do...

1 John 2:1-2

My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

I sin. I hate it. I hate it. But the final word of this text is that there is consoloation and we must not keep this consolation for ourselves alone. "And he is not the propitiation for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world."

No one who enjoys the forgiveness of Jesus can be content to hog it for himself. He is not the propitiation for our sins only. There are other sheep that are scattered throughout the whole world. Their sins, too, are covered. And the last commandment of Jesus was, "Go make disciples out of them from every people."

John's message to us today is the same as it was nearly 2000 years ago: Don't sin! It is tremendously and terribly serious. But if you do sin, don't despair because your attorney is the Son of the Judge. He is righteous and he makes his case for you not on the basis of your perfection but his propitiation. Be of good courage friends, don't hog Jesus for yourself alone, go and make disciples.