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


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, " 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 the video directly underneath this one.


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

If you didn't think this was instantly one of the funniest/creepiest things you have ever 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: