Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reformation Day 490

Reformed Baptist Fellowship Blog has been posting some great stuff.

Meanwhile in that same year, 1519, I had begun interpreting the Psalms once again. I felt confident that I was now more experienced, since I had dealt in university courses with St. Paul’s Letters to the Romans, to the Galatians, and the Letter to the Hebrews. I had conceived a burning desire to understand what Paul meant in his Letter to the Romans, but thus far there had stood in my way, not the cold blood around my heart, but that one word which is in chapter one: “The justice of God is revealed in it.” I hated that word, “justice of God,” which, by the use and custom of all my teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically as referring to formal or active justice, as they call it, i.e., that justice by which God is just and by which he punishes sinners and the unjust.

But I, blameless monk that I was, felt that before God I was a sinner with an extremely troubled conscience. I couldn’t be sure that God was appeased by my satisfaction. I did not love, no, rather I hated the just God who punishes sinners. In silence, if I did not blaspheme, then certainly I grumbled vehemently and got angry at God. I said, “Isn’t it enough that we miserable sinners, lost for all eternity because of original sin, are oppressed by every kind of calamity through the Ten Commandments? Why does God heap sorrow upon sorrow through the Gospel and through the Gospel threaten us with his justice and his wrath?” This was how I was raging with wild and disturbed conscience. I constantly badgered St. Paul about that spot in Romans 1 and anxiously wanted to know what he meant.

I meditated night and day on those words until at last, by the mercy of God, I paid attention to their context: “The justice of God is revealed in it, as it is written: ‘The just person lives by faith.’” I began to understand that in this verse the justice of God is that by which the just person lives by a gift of God, that is by faith. I began to understand that this verse means that the justice of God is revealed through the Gospel, but it is a passive justice, i.e. that by which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: “The just person lives by faith.” All at once I felt that I had been born again and entered into paradise itself through open gates. Immediately I saw the whole of Scripture in a different light. I ran through the Scriptures from memory and found that other terms had analogous meanings, e.g., the work of God, that is, what God works in us; the power of God, by which he makes us powerful; the wisdom of God, by which he makes us wise; the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.

I exalted this sweetest word of mine, “the justice of God,” with as much love as before I had hated it with hate. This phrase of Paul was for me the very gate of paradise. Afterward I read Augustine’s “On the Spirit and the Letter,” in which I found what I had not dared hope for. I discovered that he too interpreted “the justice of God” in a similar way, namely, as that with which God clothes us when he justifies us. Although Augustine had said it imperfectly and did not explain in detail how God imputes justice to us, still it pleased me that he taught the justice of God by which we are justified.

--by Martin Luther

I don't know if I'll get shot for copying this, but Dr. Renihan's post is worth reading.

It is important, not because it was an ending, but rather a beginning. Luther’s 95 Theses, posted that day on the door of Wittenberg’s Schlosskirke, present to us a picture of a developing understanding of the Gospel in the young reformer’s mind. He had not yet worked out the full doctrine that has characterized protestant teaching, but he was well on the way. The Reformation did not arrive in a moment, rather, it extended over a long period of time. What Luther began was carried forth by many successors, in many places, for over a century and a half. We are the heirs of this movement; our fathers in the faith understood that they were standing on the shoulders of giants, pressing the program of reform into every area of doctrine and practice. October 31, 1517 is an historical marker. It is like a sunrise, the first beam of light after a long gloomy night. Christ’s Church, overwhelmed by darkness, sensed the warmth and brightness of a new day. We thank God that we bask in the sunshine of the fullness of the Gospel of Christ.

James M. Renihan, Ph.D.
Dean, Professor of Historical Theology
Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies
Escondido, CA

Riddlebarger's Man of Sin

Amill, historic premill, post mill and dispensational premill and preterism are positions of eschatology that may keep Christians up into the late hours of night discussing who is right. I have had two recent conversations asking me of my position. Now most know that I had abandoned Dispensational Premillennarianism years ago. I did agree to the Historic Premill position for many years. Yet consistency keeps me leaning towards the Amill camp. I feel like I am walking into that camp, yet one foot is stuck on some gum.

This week I have been listening to a Reformed Amillennarian, Kim Riddlebarger. He has given a lecture series based upon his new book, The Man of Sin. One Reviewer says,

The doctrine of the Antichrist is one of the most interesting doctrines found in Scripture, says author Kim Riddlebarger. Unfortunately, it's also one which has been subject to far more speculation than sound biblical exegesis. Until now. Unlike other resources available on the Antichrist, The Man of Sin focuses on Scripture, not contemporary events, to uncover the truth about this mysterious entity. With skilled exegesis Riddlebarger asserts that, contrary to popular speculation, the Antichrist is not a singular individual but a series of beings that will arise to challenge Christ throughout the inter-advental age before culminating in an end-times Antichrist. Backing this claim first in Scripture, Riddlebarger also draws from historical teachings including those of the church fathers, the Reformation, and historic Protestantism, before contrasting this evidence to the sensational interpretations of many contemporary writers. Pastors, teachers, and study groups wanting to understand the doctrine of the Antichrist will find The Man of Sin to be a unique and comprehensive study.

The lecture series covers a lot of ground on this interesting topic. A friend of mine asked me “Since you’re a Amiller, what do you do with 2 Thessalonians and the Man of Lawlessness?” I had to admit I really did not know. I have not really studied the area of Eschatology in many years. It simply has not been my point of main interest. Yet Riddlebarger does deal with this question straight on. Although I would have a couple of questions about his conclusion, he very effectively shows the strong parallels between Revelation 20 and 2 Thessalonians 2.

Riddlebarger basically contrasts the Apostasy of 2 Thess 2 with the end of the Millennium (church age) of Rev 20:7. He argues that the antichrist is the Beast of Revelation 20 and the Man of Lawlessness (sin). But he is careful to say that every generation must face their antichrists or Beasts until the one that restrains him is “taken out of the way”, which he believes is the preaching of the Gospel.

He used Hitler as an example of an antichrist. I was a bit puzzled by this point. It is true that since the preaching of the Gospel ceased in Germany, Hitler was able to rise to power, but it was the United States and England that ultimately restrained him in the end. Perhaps both the preaching of the Gospel and governments restrain the man of lawlessness?

Aside from Sam Waldron's lectures, Riddlebarger has given the best presentation of the Amillennarian position I have heard. Riddlebarger does a great job in the lectures. When Dispensationalists excommunicate each other over being post-tribulation verses pre-tribulation, I think they remind me why I just don’t want to go back to those conversations unless I have laid down a sound theological position first. I suppose I'll have to get this book and attempt to read it too. :-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shabir and the Atonement

How would you answer Shabir Ally's objection? Listen to short clip here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Redemption From Who?

I was listening to the dividing Line today and heard a clip of Shabir Ally speaking on the doctrine of Redemption. This clip is not from the debate in Seattle, but what is stated by Shabir is very similar. You may listen to the short clip here.

During the clip and debate Shabir mentions that some church fathers and "scholars" believed that God was redeeming His people from the Devil. Now Dr. White had answered that argument during the debate, yet his words seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Shabir asserted it is simply illogical (without providing any argumentation) and immoral for God to punish and innocent man for sinful people. There is something about Islam that places a Tradition that blinds the eyes of the mind to see such a basic truth of the holiness of God.

After the debate, someone from the audience was discussing with Shabir about the use of the term Redeem when , again, Shabir asked the simple question, "Who did God purchase the Israelites from?" At this point I stepped into the conversation and explained to Shabir that often the term is used in Scripture in a way that is not simply the same as when people use it for ever day common purchases. I then referred Shabir to Dr. White's reading list and explained how Leon Morris argued in The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross.

Morris says on page 22,

"This stress on Yahweh's efforts seems to be the reason for applying the redemption terminology to His dealings. The effort is regarded as the 'price' which gives point to the metaphor. Yahweh's action is at cost to Himself. While He could, so to speak, cope with the situation with a small expenditure of effort, yet because He loves His people He 'hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations'."

Ultimately, we see the fulfillment of the shadows of Redemption throughout the Old Testament in Christ. On page 48 Morris says,

"To speak of a future redemption is not to imply that here awaits us a redemption which has no relationship to that accomplished at Calvary, being simply a deliverance from some outward enemy in the typical Jewish style. On the contrary, the future redemption is the consummation, the outworking of the redemption which was accomplished once for all by the death of the Redeemer."

On page 51 he argues,

"There is no need to water down the language of the biblical writers, to reduce their colourful metaphors to a uniform drabness. They did not intend ransom to be taken as a full and sufficient statement of what the atonement was and did, but as far as it goes it gives a picture of one aspect of that great work. It is a metaphor which involves the payment of a price which is plainly stated in several places and understood in others to be the death of Christ. From the very nature of the imagery this involves a substitutionary idea; instead of our death there is His, instead of our slavery there is His blood. All our verbal juggling cannot remove this from the New Testament."

God at His own expense of energy and love for His people has indeed sent His Son as a perfect sacrifice. Jesus accomplished what God intended. He satisfied the wrath of God and perfect Justice God's Law demands.

Mat 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

Mat 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Note of Thanks

I just wanted to give a hearty thanks to Pastor Glidewell and the Swihart's. The Glidewells have always been a blessing to my family. They were of great encouragement to my family this weekend. The Swiharts were kind enough to put up with all 5 Fishers for the night in their home. Mrs. Swihart cooked a great meal, and we were filled. Hanging out with them till after 11:00PM discussing the Gospel is something only believers may understand. Hopefully they got some sleep with all of us making noise.

Thanks again!

Reformation With Dr.Nettles

I must say my wife and I have had a wonderful weekend at the First Baptist Church in St. Francis. Somehow, Pastor J.W. Glidewell managed to get Dr. Tom Nettles to be the guest speaker for their annual Reformation Weekend Conference.

Dr. Tom Nettles as a person was exactly how I perceived him. He is a kind and gentle man with a godly disposition. He is a man who seeks after the Person of Christ. He is very approachable and easy to speak with.

We arrived a little late for the second session. For some reason we thought St. Francis was on Mountain Time. Nevertheless, I heard enough of that session to know the rest of the time spent there would be well worth the trip.

In the third session, Dr. Nettle preached on Luke chapter 2, where the prophet Simeon was privileged to see the Christ prior to his death. His sermon was extremely thorough, and he pointed out things in the text I would not normally have seen. I was simply amazed at his ability to paint a picture of Christ as the Person of salvation as taught in the pages of the Old Testament. Salvation is not merely a plan but is a man, the Person of Christ.

His fourth session really drove home the glory of Christ in his substitutionary death. The text was (the much disputed text on this Blog) 1 John 2:1-2. He fully dealt with the exegesis of the text and demonstrated how the Christian ought to hate his sin even more than losing his own life. The sermon was one of the best messages on the Christian life I have ever heard.

Afterwards, I asked Dr. Nettles about the issue of the term “world” leading to universalism. He explained to me that if men are consistent in their logical view of the atoning work, then they may become Universalists. Usually, however, they simply hold what they perceive as two clear concepts of Jesus dying a substitutionary atonement for His people and Jesus dying substitutionarily for every single person ever. He more than demonstrated that this idea radically diminishes the work of Christ in being the sin bearer of his people. He showed from both the immediate context and the broader context of Scripture several reasons as to why “world” in verse 2 could not mean every single person ever, but referring instead to the scope or sphere that the context demands.

This morning’s sermon was on Colossians 3:1-4. Again, he painted a picture of the Glory of Christ that simply moved your soul. The message moved the congregation to a renewed longing for the Revelation of the glory of Christ being displayed in both the destruction of the wicked and the ultimate salvation of the church.

I must admit that listening to lengthy expository exegetically based sermons is something I am not accustomed to doing in person. It is one thing to listen to a sermon on MP3 while driving around, pausing as needed. It is another to concentrate and think and remain prayerful while sitting and listening to someone live in a pulpit.

My family was blessed this weekend with some of the best preaching I have heard. Yes, Steven took notes. Hopefully we will have time this week to go over them and think through and meditate upon the Word of God.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Few More Pics Before We Go

We leave in the morning to St. Francis. Dr. Tom Nettles will be speaking this Reformation Weekend at the SBC. I think after this we will be all conferenced out. :-)

Before I shut down for the night, I thought I'd upload a few more pictures. Here is what I think is Mt. Rainier or Hood or something sticking way out of the earth.

Here is some Port called Nanaimo or something really worthless like that. It really wasn't worth the trouble getting off the boat for.

Victoria Bay was much nicer.

She really is quite beautiful, eh.

Yes, we did have to dress up for class if we were to make it to dinner on time.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Space Needle

I thought I'd post a few pictures of our day going to the Space Needle.

Here is one from the top. This is 525 above that nice wet ground. Seattle is impressive from up there.

We up with Dave and Helene.

Short video coming down. It only takes 40 seconds to get up, slightly more going a few feet farther down.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fake Posters

Just saw this one from Riddlebargers Blog. It is just too much. He also links to more here.

This book was literally stocked in the Seattle Airport. Some self help anyone?

Formal Night

My red hot wife standing with Flamey (Carrie) during formal night.

One of the couples that sat with us was Dave Hewitt and his wife Helene. Dave is goofier than I thought. :-)

John Divito says, "Hey Dave. Don't look, but I think we have a problem." To which Dave responds, "Is that a fly in your soup?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Some Videos

Although the cruise was fun, day 4 at sea was quite rough. One person said they had been on 26 cruises and never had been in such rough seas. I took these videos.

Now in this one, watch carefully through the window. The horizon moves quite a bit.

On Friday we went to Pike Place Market. Some guy playing really interesting Kung Fu movie music.

Here are the fish slappers you may have seen on TV.

These guys were simply fantastic. The audio just doesn't do them justice. I have no idea what they call themselves, but they sure were talented. I should have bought their CD.

I'll try to put up more pictures tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2007

To the Jeremys

After the official debate, there took place a question & answer period. One of the few Muslims that attended went to the side that asked Dr. White questions. During the debate, Dr. White explained the history behind the Uthmanian Revision. Uthman basically destroyed all copies of manuscripts that disagreed with the version he was attempting to preserve. Today, we only have what he edited.

When it was the Muslim's turn to ask a question, he acknowledged the Uthmanian revision, but wondered how Christians did the same to their Christian Scriptures. It was just assumed that Christians very early on did the same thing with their Scriptures.

What made this question and answer so meaningful for me was that just hours earlier I had an amazing experience. While riding the bus back from the Space Needle in downtown Seattle, I sat next to a timid college student. While talking about the debate that was to transpire in just a few hours with those I was traveling, the student, whose name turned out to be Jeremy, finally had to ask a simple question. "How do you know that what was originally written wasn't corrupted by the early followers of Jesus?"

I sat there explaining to the best of my ability the historical background of the New Testament's formation. That the early church was in no position to form some kind of ecclesiastical text that would eventually be forced on the entire church. Such ideas are found only in fictional writings and movies like the Da Vinci Code.

He sat there literally shocked. He had simply never heard such an argument presented so forcefully and unashamedly confident in the Scriptures. I challenged some of his presuppositions and his naturalistic thinking. In the end, I was able to quickly explain the Gospel after I had handled some of his objections. Just as I finished, he got up with a group of college students going to some kind of math convention. I was not just speaking to him, but came to see that I was speaking to several of his friends around me. The ironic thing is just earlier that week, we had discussed how sometimes we may be explaining the Gospel to one person while others may be listening. This was certainly true that day.

Perhaps the Lord will be willing to bless this encounter with Jeremy. Perhaps Jeremy will struggle over these issues and through that struggle come into a confident faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Pe 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
Listening to Dr. White give his response to that Muslim reminded me that the objections to Christianity are often quite similar to any background. For that young Muslim's objection was the exact same question Jeremy had. It was the exact same question I had so long ago. I am thankful this debate took place. Perhaps the answers Dr. White gave will be able to equip Christians for generations to come.

The Cross of Christ

My favorite part of the cruise was not the site seeing or the food or the other things that one does on a cruise (I am exempting the aspect of being on an extended date with my wife). I thoroughly enjoyed what the purpose of an Apologetics Conference on the Historicity and Theology of the Cross may give to a believer. Dr. White began teaching the first session on Sunday night prior to our boarding the ship. The first text was Ephesians 1. He demonstrated how all of the attributes of God as seen throughout all of creation come crashing in not only in one moment of history, but on the Creator who became flesh, the Person of Jesus Christ.

From this point Dr. White plainly made his intentions known. He was going to prepare us as a group to enter the Grand Ball room ready for anything Shabir Ally could possibly muster against the Christian faith. This is what Dr. White did on a grand scale. We literally knew every argument Shabir could possibly throw out. By the end of the week, the Theology of the Cross was exegetically taught from several of the main passages that deal with the topic. Passages such as John 17 and Jesus' High Priestly prayer, Isaiah 53 and the Suffering Servant, Hebrews 2, 7, 9 & 10 among others.

Jesus' intercession and sacrifice were demonstrated to be tied together. So often the people of God divorce these two teachings of Scripture, but Scripture (as sound exegesis shows) will not allow for a hypothetical atonement. Jesus is a perfect Savior in both His intercession and sacrifice.

Several times during the debate, Shabir asserted without any argumentation that it is illogical that an innocent man should die for another man. The Cross of Christ is truly foolishness to those that are perishing. It is a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Gentile. The Jesus of Scripture is a Rock of offense.

After the debate, I had the opportunity to meet Shabir Ally. Shabir's debating tactics were shallow at best. He truly had nothing to work with in this debate. He seemed very tired as well. Perhaps he had jet lag. Whatever the case was, he definitely was brave to enter a room full of Christians and take the position he did. For that, I am thankful. Perhaps he will do more debates in the future.

I ask that you pray for Shabir. There truly is as Paul says, "a veil lies over their heart". I don't know what more Dr. White could have said to persuade Shabir to see the inconsistency in his position. This truly is a spiritual matter. One of which only the Spirit of God may change.

Perhaps another debate between these two scholars will be able to take place in God's Providence.

Meeting New Friends

This couple standing the next to my wife are Pat and Tracy. They were sitting next to us in the airport in Denver. Pat was reading Mounce's Greek Text book. I knew nobody was geeky enough to read a Greek text book unless they were geeky enough to go on a cruise with Dr. White to learn about the atoning work of Christ.

While we were walking around Victoria in Brittish Columia, CA, this couple decided to share the gospel with a friend of Darth Vader.

Now Vader wasn't about to come to the Light side, then again, neither did the Dowist. It truly was good to meet new friends. There truly is a bond believers have in Christ.

I'll try to post more this evening.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Back From Trip

Well, we just got back, we had a great time. I will be commenting on our trip and the debate among other things over this week. Here is a picture of Dr. White teaching right before our Formal night dinner wearing a kilt.

Here is the Capitol building in Victoria.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Grace: Necessary or Sufficient

A thought before I run out the door.

Not long ago, a baptist friend of mine explained to me that all men everywhere have been enabled by God's grace to have the ability to come to Christ of their own free-will. He told me that God's grace has been given to every single person everywhere in a fashion that reminds me of these catechism question.

Baltimore Catechism
Q. 476. Is grace necessary to salvation?
A. Grace is necessary to salvation, because without grace we can do nothing to merit heaven.

Q. 477. Can we resist the grace of God?
A. We can, and unfortunately often do, resist the grace of God.

Q. 478. Is it a sin knowingly to resist the grace of God?
A. It is a sin, knowingly, to resist the grace of God, because we thereby insult Him and reject His gifts without which we cannot be saved.

Q. 479. Does God give His grace to every one?
A. God gives to everyone He creates sufficient grace to save his soul; and if persons do not save their souls, it is because they have not used the grace given.

Can you guess what this is? Give ya a hint. Carrie posted them on Beggarsallreformation. Perhaps the Reformation is over.
Brigand posted this entry below on Crossapologian. If you don't have the Death of Death by Owen, it is simply a must read. J.I. Packer writes the introduction linked below. As I was explaining to my wife as she embarks into this great book, those who read it will gain a picture of the glory of Christ they may have not recognized before. For instance, Owen argues for the power and perfection of the priestly office of Christ. That Jesus never fails to save for those whom He intercedes. It makes me wonder what kind of man-centered arguments must be used to object to Owen's arguments. The only way is to make Jesus a failure. How men are convinced of this I will never understand.

Monday, October 8, 2007


In light of Howard's previous post concerning Morris' treatment of "propitiation" as consistently used in the Scriptures, I thought it relevant to mention Don Carson's message where he sums up the argument Morris takes up against Dodd quite well here:

Why Trust a Cross?

And for those who haven't quite carved out the time to read Owen's classic, you might appreciate J. I. Packer's attempt to whet the reader's appetite for Death of Death:

Introduction to Death of Death in the Death of Christ

If you haven't been keeping up with the readings, these are both good and quick ways to familiarize yourself with some of the relevant subject matter.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Off To Seattle

Two big things. My dad has fallen 15 feet and broken his left arm and pelvis. He also had surgery to remove his spleen. I am told he is doing well.

The other thing is that my wife and I are going on our 15th anniversary date. This date will last a week on the Mercury Cruise liner. We are departing from Seattle seaport. Sunday night. Dr. White will start a week’s worth of teaching on the historicity and theology of the cross.

The cross is central to the Christian life. Our churches may offer McDonalds in the foyers, or classes on how to balance check books. If everything is not about the foolishness of the Cross, then it could be done by any religious or civic organization.

The Apostle Paul tells us 1Co 1:18 “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

It is precisely through this foolishness that God has chosen to save His people. After five days worth of teaching and fellowship, on Friday night Dr. White will debate Shabir Ally, Muslim Apologist. If you are a Christian who reads this, please keep in mind the Muslim sees the Cross as total foolishness. In the Muslim world, Allah would never allow a Prophet to die a death by the vilest means. Martin Hengel’s work, Crucifixion, says,

“By contrast, to believe that the one pre-existent Son of the One true God, the Mediator at creation and the Redeemer of the world, had appeared in very recent times in out-of-the-way Galilee as a member of the obscure people of the Jews, and even worse, had died the death of a common criminal on the cross, could only be regarded as a sign of madness.”

The same is true for the modern Muslim. He simply cannot believe in an Eternal Son who much less died on a Cross for the sins of His people. It is simply madness in their minds.

Please pray that God would be honored in the clear proclamation of His Gospel, and that the Spirit would be pleased to give life in the preached Word.

May the Muslim world hear the Good News that Jesus is a greater Savior than they are a sinner.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

OK God, Let's Try This Finger

Dr. White linked to an article post by the Council of Europe, link here. As I was scanning through the document, I could not help but wonder what insane people are writing this. The entire document is about suppressing thought. In its opening summary it says:

Creationism in any of its forms, such as “intelligent design”, is not based on facts, does not use any scientific reasoning and its contents are definitely inappropriate for science classes.

Isn't it kind of odd that a bunch of bureaucrats that are anti-religion get to define what is science?

Under A, point 1:

"1. For some people the Creation, as a matter of religious belief, gives a meaning to life. Nevertheless, the Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effects of the spread of creationist ideas within our education systems and about the consequences for our democracies. If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights which are a key concern of the Council of Europe."

The United Nations is the biggest gathering of thugs and anti-semites. They hate Christianity with a passion. These tyrants actually have a nerve to tell us that creationism threatens human rights? This is Stalinism all over again.

What is interesting about secularists is that their time is limited. As Dr. Albert Mohler's Blog argues, Secularism simply is not able to withstand Islam. It will not be long before Sharia Law overthrows many of these Western Civilizations. Western Civilization is at war and seems to have no idea. Mohler cites Steve Ozment, Professor of History at Harvard University:

"In Germany's large Muslim communities, speaking German and mastering the German Basic Law are proving to be effective tools not only for immigrant assimilation to German culture, but also for the ascendancy of immigrant culture over German. With the continuing growth of these communities, and the construction of mammoth mosques within them, will come increasing demands by the inhabitants to govern by sharia law rather than by German Basic Law."

This is where Secularism is taking the West. Right into the arms of those who have long awaited the end of "Christendom".

Point 4 of the Council document says:

"4. Creationists question the scientific character of certain items of knowledge and argue that the theory of evolution is only one interpretation among others. They accuse scientists of not providing enough evidence to establish the theory of evolution as scientifically valid. On the contrary, they defend their own statements as scientific. None of this stands up to objective analysis."

Again a bunch of bureaucrats suppressing truth claims. How do they defend Naturalism? Does the Scientific Method prove itself? Does the Scientific Method prove the Laws of Logic? How does their world view account for these things including morality?

The truth is they can't. Therefore they must remove any reminders of God's Revelation wherever they see it. Creationists are just a stones throw away from God's Biblical Revelation. We certainly need to avoid that at all costs! As the Assembly's summary says,

"The Assembly calls on education authorities in member states to promote scientific knowledge and the teaching of evolution and to oppose firmly any attempts at teaching creationism as a scientific discipline."

Does anyone really think Europe is going to last long with its special finger in God's face?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Allow Me To Eat More Crow

Anonymous number 1 said:

Even when you apologize, you still offer a disclaimer and an "out." "Benefit of the doubt," indeed.

Howie, even if you had been correct in your understanding of Paul's sermon, your behavior been unscriptural and unworthy of a deacon. You got a lot of 'splainin' to do.

I knew when I wrote this last night I would need to clarify this, but it was very late. So please allow me to eat some more crow (I don't know what that really means, but it doesn't taste good. ;-) ).

1) First of all, I have been consistent over the years as a layperson who occasionally fills pulpits, to tell the people that they should interact publicly with what I preach. I truly believe that sermons are not to be merely listened but are to be interacted with, ripped apart if need be, examined in light of Scripture, debated and discussed. Why pay me $50 to come and speak to a congregation for 40 minutes to an hour if everyone just goes home and forgets about it.

Yes, I am a sermon geek. I take notes. My wife takes notes. I am teaching my son to take notes. We go home after the Sunday morning sermon and do something radically weird. We talk about the laws of logic. We examine how the text was interpreted. We look for traditions that may be being assumed without our realizing it. We really attempt to benefit from the sermons preached.

(A little kiss up here). For example, Pastor Paul's sermon yesterday was simply excellent. I didn't even realize that 55 minutes went by. My son took notes. We discussed the sermon throughout the afternoon. We were greatly blessed. We are just weird that way.

2) I have for several years now, interacted with sermons and beliefs from a wide range of people including my own pastors. The problem with the recent post (as several friends pointed out to me) was the fact I was too personal. Anonymous pointed to my "out". Please allow me to explain. I should have gotten the actual audio and transcripts. I should have only interacted with the texts that were under discussion. I should never have mentioned anything about Paul's interaction with myself. I should have kept it professional. I did not. It was simply wrong. I apologize again.

Another reason to have the actual primary documents is that if I am challenged or I need to defend Paul's view (which ever may be the case) I would be able to demonstrate the factual claims. I did not nor do I have anything but my notes. After having read Paul's letter to me last night, I have discovered (yes, I gladly welcome being wrong in this case) that Paul does not believe that unbelievers are already forgiven of their sins. He stated, “If you reject the payment that has been provided for you in My Son, you have to pay for your own sins which is eternity in hell.”

There is a vast difference in saying that Jesus actually (not hypothetically) paid the sin debt of unbelievers even if they never believe, verses saying Jesus' death is sufficient for everyone who believes (or something to that effect). My original accusation must be wrong. That was the main point of the post. What I heard and wrote down and what two other people heard as well, were in fact wrong. Therefore, I again eat dirt and apologize.

3) Anonymous is also concerned mainly about how I handled this. Although I believe public sermons are publicly given and are to be interacted with publicly (isn't this all over the book of Acts and the NT in general?), I made a mistake in prudence. A friend of mine reminded me of the prudential argumentation. This coupled with "attacking Paul" personally makes for a bad situation. I handled the situation poorly. I apologize.

I also made this personal; I should not have done so. I apologize.

4) I did forget to mention that I apparently misrepresented Paul’s view of the tabernacle. I had originally stated, “I was not offended that as a Dispensationalist, it would be said the Tabernacle in the Wilderness is a replica of some building in heaven.”

Apparently, Paul’s views are not what I said, even in general (I think). The last thing I want to do is misrepresent someone. I do not like it when people do it to me. I dread the thought of doing it to someone else. This would also have to include Paul’s views of the non-imputation of sin to unbelievers. It is clear from the letter that Paul does not believe that unbelievers have their sin forgiven until they believe and receive Christ. I was greatly mistaken. I apologize.

5) I did want to mention my challenging Paul to some kind of public discussion. We live in a Postmodern culture. The idea of actually submitting ourselves to that kind of situation is a long gone idea. It was not prudent of me to do so. I truly thought this kind of thing benefits the people of God. Most people today would disagree with me. Here is an example of how it could be done. Albert Mohler of SBTS and Paige Patterson, President of SEBTS discussed similar topics.

Nevertheless, Pastor Paul did tell me he is not good at extemporaneous speaking. I was putting him on the spot. I should not have done so. I was wrong. I apologize.

6) The reaction of most was that I was mean-spirited. The post reflects that whether I meant it or not. I am passionate about the doctrine of imputation as it relates to Justification. These are not mere doctrines for me. They are my life-blood. Imputation gives me reason for getting out of bed in the morning, including this morning (yes, I felt bad and lost sleep over this.) I apologize for the “mean” tone that I wrote with. I apologize again.

7) Because of my love for this doctrine, I truly am glad to be wrong. I am glad that Paul doesn't believe what I understood him to have said. I truly am. I have said it to several people. I am glad to retract the statement that I made.

Perhaps tomorrow someone else will remind me of something I missed. I will be more than happy to eat more Crow. (Whatever that may mean.)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Public Apology to Pastor Paul

It was pointed out to me that I did not handle the situation prudently. The accusation of “hiding behind a bully pulpit” would require the Matthew 18 principle since that is my view of the situation. I was wrong for making that statement public.

When I wrote about receiving correction from the deacons, I was speaking for my self and not the Board of Deacons. That statement was not clear and gave the impression that Paul was not receiving correction from the board. I was not attempting to say Pastor Paul never receives correction, but that as a Deacon, I thought he would interact with me about the non-imputation of sin to unbelievers. In fact, I thought in a sense Paul had. I was wrong for giving a false impression in my poorly written statements.

I must also retract my statement that Pastor Paul believes that men who go to hell do so only for unbelief since their sins are already forgiven. In a personal letter, Paul stated, “If you reject the payment that has been provided for you in My Son, you have to pay for your own sins which is eternity in hell.” This is a statement that is very different from what I understood was preached on Sunday morning. Since I must give the benefit of the doubt to my pastor, since I do not have the audio to demonstrate what was actually said, I must presume I was wrong and do apologize.

Pastor Paul, please accept my apology.

Morris On Old Testament Propitiation

Well, I’m up to chapter 6 in Morris’ book, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. There is so much I’d like to quote as I go along or just comment on, but time has been short this week. So I will give some quotes on one of the two largest chapters in the book. Both chapters deal with Propitiation and the Wrath of God and both chapters are approximately 35 pages of small print in length. Clearly Propitiation of God’s wrath is a central thought in the work of the atonement. Chapter five is about propitiation in the Old Testament.

Christians are often accused of having a bloodthirsty God, who is just an evolved form of the pagan deities. After much argumentation the author has demonstrated:

“These are important conclusions and they are being increasingly accepted, for it is a relief to know that we have solid grounds for our conviction that the God of the Bible is not a Being who can be propitiated after the fashion of a pagan deity. That this point has been conclusively demonstrated is certain.”[i]

“There is a consistency about the Wrath of God in the Old Testament. It is no capricious passion, but the stern reaction of the divine nature towards evil.”[ii]

Much of the argumentation examines scholarship that seeks to make propitiation merely expiation. For instance, Dodd says, “’the Wrath of God’ is taken out of the sphere of the purely mysterious, and brought into the sphere of cause and effect.”[iii] In other words, as I understand the argumentation, God’s wrath isn’t being satisfied, but our sins are being expiated or done away with.

It is true, as Morris argues, that our sins are expiated, but he believes that both senses are true. After several pages of argumentation he states:

“Thus the propitiatory idea which we have seen to be involved in [ilaskomai] is to be discerned also in [ilasmos]. Wherever it means ‘forgiveness’, the circumstances indicate the turning away of the divine wrath.”[iv]

Morris also goes to the Hebrew Kopher in the Old Testament:

“The particular Kopher which is to be offered is not mentioned in Ezekiel 16:63, but the explicit mention of the wrath of God (verses 38, 42) makes it clear that we are still moving in the same circle of ideas. In Psalm 78:38 the parallelism makes ‘forgave (atoned) their iniquity’ almost equivalent to ‘turned he his anger away’, and similarly in Psalm 79:9, the removal of the wrath as the way of purging sins is clear from the references to the divine anger in the situation (verses 5,6,8).”[v]

Morris also explains the idea that a Ransom must be paid.

“From the foregoing examination of the evidence it appears that, when Kipper is used in the Old Testament to denote the making of an atonement by means other than the use of the cultus, it usually bears the meaning ‘to avert punishment, especially the divine anger, by the payment of a kopher, a ransom’, which may be of money or which may be of life.”[vi]

In Morris’ conclusion, there is an excellent paragraph summarizing the meaning of propitiation.

“It is against such a background that the Old Testament idea of propitiation is to be studied. Where there is sin, the Old Testament teaches, there is wrath. But this does not mean that all men are to be consumed, for that wrath is the wrath of a loving father who yearns for His children to come to Him. There is forgiveness with God, and this forgiveness necessarily involves the laying aside of wrath. But it is important to note that the removal of this wrath is due not to man’s securing such an offering that God is impressed and relents, but to God Himself. This alone is sufficient to show that we are not dealing with the pagan idea when we speak of propitiation.”[vii]

Praise God that He has sought to satisfy His own wrath against our sin. God truly reconciled the world to Himself through the vicarious substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ.

[i] 148

[ii] 150

[iii] 151

[iv] 159 Also, the Greek words are just my poor transliteration.

[v] 165

[vi] 166

[vii] 177

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Boston Red Sox Win Game 2

Yes, I saw it. I stayed up late watching the game when it came down to that great moment every boy pretends to play in the backyard. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, game is tied and WHAM! Manny hits a home run that literally was out of the park. He literally crushed the ball. The Coca Cola sign was not put up high enough. A little more left and the ball would have nailed it. I think the Coke Company got their monies worth.

One more game to win and then off to the Penant series.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Red Sox Win Game 1

RED SOX WIN GAME 1!!!! Go Sox!

Yes, there is no separation of Baseball and my TV.


Pipa and the Atonement

For our Wednesday night study, my son and I decided to listen to the opening statements by John Pipa from the debate he had with Dave Hunt. I won't post the entire debate for Hunt seemed to have no clue as to where he was. Pipa's presentation is simply excellent. His explanation of the Vicarious Substitutionary Atonement is extremely helpful. You may listen here.

Earlier today, I did have an good conversation with a couple of friends. I had the opportunity to address the issue. If you read Anonymous' illustration of having to cooperate with God to achieve salvation and you heard Pastor Paul's illustration in the service Sunday morning, you will see they are basically the same illustration.

At one point in the conversation I asked about Romans 6:23. If the wages of sin is death and the death portion of that verse is already sufficiently paid for, and every individual has their sin paid for, then it logically follows that everyone has been forgiven of their sins. Therefore it must logically follow that death may never come upon any man since their is no longer any debt to be paid.

What is interesting is that Pastor Paul also used the Biblical illustration for imputation. I will offer another one here. If I owe my Citibank credit card company $50 Billion dollars, and someone pays that debt for me, it does not matter if I believe that someone did it or not. The debt is paid. I may write checks all day long to Citibank, if they are honest (I assume God would be) then they must tear up the checks. If Pastor Paul is consistent, he must become a Universalist.

Again, I would encourage you to listen to Pipa's explanation of the Atoning work of Christ. It is Biblically sound.

Monday, October 01, 2007

An Open Blog Post To the Interim Pastor,

Well, I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but I was taken aback. I was amazed that with no exegesis of the text, I heard more contradictory claims in 45 minutes from Paul than I think I have heard in any other sermon.

I was not offended that as a Dispensationalist, it would be said the Tabernacle in the Wilderness is a replica of some building in heaven. I was not even offended that the color silver on the posts of the gate of the Tabernacle somehow by an ipsi dixit claim means the Word of God. I was not even offended at the oft-repeated claim that Jesus had to be born of a virgin because the sin nature is inherited through the male and not the female. I was not even overly concerned with the claim that the Jewish sacrifices at the Tabernacle were intended for the whole world and not just for the Jewish people, thereby ignoring the established Dividing Wall between circumcised and uncircumcised due to the nature of the Old Covenant. I was, however, offended that someone could take a phrase with an historical definition for hundreds of years and redefine it without the slightest concern for truth or Biblical warrant.

For a pastor in a pulpit to redefine Vicarious, Substitutionary Atonement knowing full well that I have tried several times to interact with him is simply hiding behind a “Bully Pulpit”. It is a shame that one who claims that pastors are subject to Deacons and are to receive correction when demonstrated to be in error would refuse to be consistent and actually interact with his fellow leaders in the local church.

Pastor Paul, I love the doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement. I love the truth that Jesus Christ has taken my sin and has imputed to me by faith in Him His righteousness. I love that by His atoning death, He, as the high Priest of His people, has forever dealt with their sin and nothing can separate the Elect from the Love of God.

I believe I must publicly warn you and those, whom you have taught, are on the border of Universalism. Historically, men who recognize that Jesus’ atoning work is not hypothetical and yet believe “World” means “every single person ever” (1 John 2:2) almost always lead a movement into Universalism. Your understanding that Jesus propitiated the sins of every single individual ever is flawed. Your attempt to prove by an illustration instead of the Biblical text that men go to hell because they don’t choose to receive the gift, while at the same time have their sins forgiven is flawed at best.

For example, to argue that Jesus paid the sin debt owed by man and at the same time man rejects that payment is a clear contradiction. Either Christ paid the sin debt by His death or He didn’t. If He did pay the sin debt through His substitutionary death and as you say “men choose not to go to heaven”, only proves logically and soundly that there must there must be a third place for men to go, who don’t believe in Christ but have their sins forgiven.

Sir, since you have refused private correction and have continued to teach this error of quasi-universalism or universal atonement without universal effect, I would challenge you in your remaining time to a public discussion of Substitutionary Atonement. If you are not willing to do this, please do not think that your remaining time here will not go unchallenged. I think I have been more than patient in this matter