Monday, December 31, 2007

Carrie: Underwhelming Majority at Trent

The ever so sharp Carrie wrote an interesting post on BeggarsAll. Could you imagine if the Apostles held a council (Acts 15 for example) and debated a subject, then voted and only 44 % voted for the conclusion? What weight would that have had with anyone? Yet RCs believe that their canon was confirmed at the Council of Trent with exactly that!

Now it would be one thing to say that there was only 44% that voted for the decision. Instead we have 29% that voted against the decision. So all of those who try to make Luther out to be someone who possessed a Canon Trash-Can are slightly overstating their case...don't you think?

Of course the RC may respond by saying that the 29% submitted to the Holy Spirit led church. Therefore Luther should as well. Again, I must ask, does the Holy Spirit command men everywhere to believe leaders in the church without providing the slightest bit of evidence? Are we really to believe the 44% because they merely said so and won the day? By that logic, the Book of Mormon is the Word of God because Utah says so and Clinton had a mandate (while getting 43% of the vote).

I am taking the liberty of posting her post here. I hope she doesn't mind.


Underwhelming Majority at Trent

Since James posted about Cardinal Seripando's opinion of the biblical canon at the Council of Trent (over at the Aomin blog), I thought I would add an old post from my blog related to the "holy-spirited-guided majority vote":

Here is something on the surface level that just doesn’t make sense.

“The Council of Trent on April 8, 1546, by vote (24 yea, 15 nay, 16 abstain) approved the present Roman Catholic Bible Canon including the Deuterocanonical Books.”
-Wiki, Metzger (pg. 246)

If the ratification of the biblical canon at Trent was just a formality, why such an underwhelming vote? If the Council of Trent was simply affirming the same canon that had been held by the Church since the 4th century, wouldn’t you expect a better consensus than 44% yea, 27% nay, and 29% abstaining?

From a strictly human perspective, a 44% majority is far from convincing me that the council members at Trent were sure of the historical witness to the exact nature of the canon. From a divine perspective, a 44% majority is a weak testament to a supposedly “holy-spirit-guided”, infallible council.

(for those unfamiliar with this topic, the typical RC argument is that the canon was conclusively decided by the Roman Catholic Church at the councils of Hippo/Carthage (4th century) and only officially "reaffirmed" at Trent. This argument is made to imply an "indebtness" of all Christians to Holy Mother Church, but in reality, the exact composition of the biblical canon was disputed up until the time of the Reformation and even at the Council of Trent as James' Aomin post has highlighted.)

"THE point that we have arrived at now, if you remember, is this—The Catholic Church, through her Popes and Councils, gathered together the separate books that Christians venerated which existed in different parts of the world; sifted the chaff from the wheat, the false from the genuine; decisively and finally formed a collection—i.e., drew up a list or catalogue of inspired and apostolic writings into which no other book should ever be admitted, and declared that these and these only, were the Sacred Scriptures of the New Testament. The authorities that were mainly responsible for thus settling and closing the 'Canon' of Holy Scripture were the Councils of Hippo and of Carthage in the fourth century, under the influence of St. Augustine (at the latter of which two Legatees were present from the Pope), and the Popes Innocent I in 405, and Gelasius, 494, both of whom issued lists of Sacred Scripture identical with that fixed by the Councils. From that date all through the centuries this was the Christian's Bible." Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Osteen and Smalley

For those of you who admire the Christ-less, Cross-less, ear tickling preaching of Joel Osteen, check out this video. This says more than I even could.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

James Verses Paul

TOA has commented that James’ usage of justification proves that the Protestant’s understanding of Paul’s use of it in Romans 4 must be in error. Of course this begs the question. How do we know TOA’s interpretation is correct? Did he exegete the text or did Rome? Perhaps he could provide Rome’s dogmatic exegesis for us?

Nevertheless, it also begs another question. Why does James’ usage have to be exactly that of Paul’s? Is it not possible that different writers of the New Testament could be using similar terminology while addressing very different issues? I must again cite from Leon Morris’ work, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross.

“St. James takes up rather a different position when he expressly says that ‘by work a man is justified, and not by faith’ (Jas. 2:24), and when he uses the examples of Abraham and Rahab to reinforce his position. But is should be noted that he recognizes implicitly the place of faith. His polemic is directed not against faith as such, but against faith without works. He reiterates that that sort of faith is dead, ‘faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself….For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead’ (Jas. 2:27, 26). Moreover the Epistle does not inculcate a demand for law-works I the accepted sense; there is no thought of accumulation of merit by the performance of deeds in accordance with the letter of the law. Rather there is a stress on love, humility, and kindred qualities. The ‘works’ of James are very much like “the fruit of the Spirit’ of Paul. While we must recognize that James has expressed his point of view in very unPauline language, yet the fact remains that he does not replace Paul’s scheme of Justification by another based on law-works. He does not mean by works what Paul means, and he does not mean by faith what Paul means. His demand is for a ‘faith that worketh by love’ (Gal 5:6), if we may borrow a Pauline phrase, and his polemic is directed against those whose faith is revealed to be a hollow sham, by the absence of lives of service.”

I am always amazed that the debate that raged for nearly 500 years can repeat the same arguments as if the other side has never responded. So when you hear that James tells us one thing, therefore Protestants are wrong about Paul, keep in mind that Protestants have repeatedly answered the charges of Rome and all those who would seek to insert man into the finished work of Christ.

In the next post, I will try to contrast Morris’ understanding of Justification with the claims of Robert Sungenis while on the White Horse Inn.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Justification Verses Sanctification

Years ago I remember having a conversation about the practical implications of the Gospel. Some friends were questioning how does the Gospel help a person stuck in a particular sin. My response was simple, Justification. At the time, this was something just intuitive for me. I couldn't explain it, and I'm not sure I can now. It has always been about Justification for me. Piper was right in his book that Justification gives the ground and basis for the Christian life. It has always freed me to get up again in the morning and face another day. It has always reminded me that God has not left me here in this struggle without knowing that I am righteous before Him.

It is all about Christ and what He has done in my place.

TOA commented,

"All who sin reject that imputation to a degree. I'll take Jesus' words over yours: You are my friends IF you love one another and do as I commanded you."

What so many RCs and many Evangelicals misunderstand is that there are imperatives as well as indicatives throughout the text of Scripture. Many see the term "if" and see it as something they need to fulfill in order to get the prize. In order to not reinvent the wheel I commend you a recent program of The White Horse Inn that discussed Justification and Sanctification.

A Lutheran, Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed and a Baptist (amazing that they all have unity on this essential topic) all explain the clear Reformational doctrines of Justification and Sanctification and how they work in the Christian life. This is a must listen. So much of Evanjellyism has confused Law and Gospel. Basically, we have become Roman Catholic. Listen here.

Now it is quite a charge to say that Evangelicals have on a fundamental level become Roman Catholic. Yet, so much of what comes forth from the pulpits today could just as easily be agreed to by a Roman Catholic. Perhaps the reverse is true? What I mean is this. Dr. Michael Horton recently interviewed Robert Sungenis on the White Horse Inn. Listen to Sungenis and see that if I had not mentioned he was Roman Catholic if you would disagree (here).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Riddlebarger: Religion in American Politics

Kim Riddlebarger was interviewed on Issues Ect. discussing religion and politics. In light of what I wrote yesterday, I thought it to be ironic that I listened to the program right afterwards. His comments are very helpful on the Two-Kingdom principle. Listen to the 20 minute segment here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Governed By Wise Turk

This whole Mit Romney issue just bugs me, I have said that our form of government must remain in a Christian world view. I have also said we must maintain the separation of church and state. Keeping the Two Kingdom theory strong and clear is often difficult in an age where even Baptists (I am thinking fundamentalists here) are so involved with the state that the two become blurred.

I think the reason so many Fundys are active in politics is the fact that government does not do what is government is to do, namely, to maintain order and peace. Instead, the government has become the church in many way and looks for so many technicalities for rapists and murderers among other things that it has lost control. This is an obvious frustration when we look at so many church leaders attempting to enforce the Rule of Law. Has the State become the church and the church become the state?

So when it comes to the issue of Romney, I am reminded of the quote from Martin Luther, "I'd rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian." Yet, it seems that this quote doesn't really exist but instead is apocryphal. Veith wrote about how this quote may have come about here. However, if you drop down to the second comment you will read this:

I am sure Luther would be horrified to find out that people actually put so much credence in this saying whether it is properly attributed to him or not.

I have not read the "Open Letter to the Christian Nobility", but I am quite sure there is an elegant theological argument involved.

It all comes down to this for me. The best government for any country is one that has the most complete understanding of the first use of the law and how to execute that law properly, which means consistently and justly.

I know, I know, I am going to get blasted for such a simplistic view. I guess I am unsophisticated when it comes to these things, but I am of the opinion that it is the government's job to maintain peace and order as defined in scripture. It is by these means that God uses the civil government to spread the Gospel. The civil authorities provide knowingly or unknowingly infrastructure to the Church to spread the Gospel.

This is why I believe one size does not fit all government. Democracy will work under certain circumstances and not under others. It is not a biblical mandate that the government be democratic even if it is preferable. If the citizens of a particular country are going to use democracy as a stepping stone to anarchy, then of course some form of authoritarian government is the solution. Whether that is a temporary or a more permanent solution depends upon the amount and degree of the rebellion.

The third paragraph is of interest to me. I think this guy understands something very basic. Yet, as a Nation founded and formed by the Scriptural laws and principles, our understanding of the "first use of the Law" is a Christian idea.

Therefore we must elect a man who has a firm understanding of the first use of the law, even if he is not Christian. As Luther said,

"I say this not because I would teach that worldly rulers ought not be Christians, or that a Christian cannot bear the sword and serve God in temporal government. Would God they were all Christians, or that no one could be a prince unless he were a Christian! Things would be better than they now are and the Turk would not be so powerful. But what I would do is keep the callings and offices distinct and apart, so that everyone can see to what he is called, and fulfill the duties of his office faithfully and with the heart, in the service of God."

I agree. Without such an understanding, evangelism becomes extremely difficult in lands that are governed by those who would use force and the sword against Christians. Christians will certainly need to count the cost.

So again, I think we as a people must look to see if the person we are voting for understands the Biblical principle of the first use of the law. He must be someone that understands what makes us a united people and our common values and heritage. He must be a man of character and ought to fear God's Law over man's. Do those candidates running qualify? We must be wise in how we judge. This I think is the biggest cause of the fact there are no candidates winning the hearts of Americans.

Isn't there anyone that wants to be President?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

DaVinci Code

I now see why the The DaVinci Code was so popular. All the exciting elements of the conspiracy theories that we love to believe about the Catholic Church and religion in general are brought into this complicated movie. When I finished watching it yesterday afternoon, I became convinced that this kind of nonsense could only be believed by people thoroughly ignorant of history.

Yes, the movie did get a couple of facts right. There was a Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. Yes, there was a woman named Mary Magdalene. Yes, there was an Emperor named Constantine. I think there were a few other bare facts stated in the movie that were actually facts. However, all of these facts were Hollywoodized.

No, Nicea had nothing to do with throwing books out of the Canon. No, Christians were not killing the pagans which brought about Nicea according to the movie. No, there was no conspiracy (Christians were in no position to conspire since being burned at stakes and running for their lives tended to prevent that). Yet, the movie was fun to some extent because hey, who doesn’t like conspiratorial murder movies?

The problem for me about the movie was its silly conclusion. It is just about belief and not truth or facts according to Tom Hanks’ character. I must say I think that is just dumb. Jesus was a great man (no one knows why) but He was no Son of God according to the movie.

What is strange about all of this is that the movie and its book heavily rely on Gnostic writings. Now I am not an ancient historian, but I know enough about Gnosticism to know that for those relying on Gnostic works to disprove Christ’ Deity prove too much. Let me explain.

Gnostic Christians (that’s what they called themselves while denying the faith) were heretical not because they denied the Deity of Christ, but because they denied the Humanity of Christ. This is irony to the max! For the first several centuries, Christian writers fought against Gnosticism arguing 1 John 4 that those who denied God came into the flesh were in fact antichrists.

What does this have to do with the Council of Nicea? Nothing. That council was convened simply because of a guy named Arius was denying that Jesus was God. This was something that no one denied prior to him but instead assumed. So the movie’s premise was only partially correct. The entire film does this with many historical facts, but hey, it is fiction.

In conclusion, the author denies the Christian faith due to his claim of certain historical facts, while making up facts that are ridiculous or misrepresenting them in the worst of ways possible. The Director’s ending (Ron Howard) was most dissatisfying. Believe just because? If he thinks that is a rational way to view religion, then does the religion of the Left justify its own existence the same way while often mocking Christianity as being irrational? I just can’t bring myself to be so irreverent for truth.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I will be worshiping with my family. We will be worshiping the Risen Christ who first came into this world as a baby, born of Mary in Bethlehem (maybe the movie should try considering those historical facts). We do this because Jesus of Nazareth was no mere man. He was in truth, the Son of God, who became flesh, walked among His people, laid His life down for His people in history. Because of these historical facts interpreted for us by God Himself, we have every rational reason to bow down in true piety.

May you have a blessed Christmas knowing that your faith is based on solid historical facts and in God's truth.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christ Fulfills the Command of Love

In an email discussion a friend of mine wrote, “God wants to be in a love relationship with His creation through Jesus and if it is not of our will to choose to be in relationship with Him would this be a love relationship or a dictatorship relationship?” So many Americanized ideas come with the term “love”. It is truly hard to know what many mean by love in today’s world. Let’s look at the first part.

God wants to be in a love relationship with us in Christ. Technically, this is true. Adam was created to be in a relationship with God. This was to be a loving relationship.

When I think of love Biblically, the first thing I think of is Deuteronomy 6:5

Deu 6:5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Please notice where this verse is. It immediately follows on the heels of the Ten Commandments. The reason this is so is that to keep the commandments is to fulfill the Law. For evidence of this read Matthew 22:36-38

Mat 22:36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"


Mat 22:38 "This is the great and foremost commandment.

Is this not consistent with Paul’s argument that true saving faith works in love?

Gal 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

So I must agree that faith working in love is God’s desire and command for His people. Yet is man able and free to choose this? Is man’s will the one thing God cannot touch?

I am just about finished with Owen’s exegesis of Hebrews 8.




Owen speaks to the necessity of God writing His commandments on our hearts. If it is not so, then

“The Lord Christ would be made by this means the mediator of an uncertain covenant. For if it depends absolutely on the wills of men whether they will accept of the terms of it and comply with it or no, it is uncertain what will be the event, and whether ever any one will do so or no; for the will being not determined by Grace, what its actions will be is altogether uncertain.”

A parallel thought to this passage is from Ezekiel.

Eze 36:26 "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Notice in both these passages, God is the one doing an action. He is taking a sinner with a stony heart and dead to God’s Law and converting Him against the will of his stony and unregenerate heart.

I thank God He converted my will by His power. If He did not, I would be lost in sin and death. Instead of leaving me in my rebellion, while I was his enemy, Christ died for me and took my sins upon His own body on the tree. It is Christ who freely chooses God and obeys Him perfectly in my place. Therefore in Christ, I am now truly free to Love the Lord My God.

May God alone forever be praised.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Muchnick On National Israel

Bob Unger and Rob Muchnick were recently on Iron Sharpens Iron (here) discussing National Israel. Rob Munchnick's view of National Israel may be commended at several points. There is nothing wrong with a people defending their national identity. What made the conversation interesting was Mucnick's answer to Chris Arnzen's question.

Arnzen asked if Rob would envision Israel to be a Republic similar to what the U.S. is founded upon. Listen to Muchnick's response here (30 second clip).

I must admit I was caught off guard. A Light to the world and the nations is what National Israel needs to be? This is why theology matters. I am not sure what theological frameworks Muchnick and Unger ascribe to. I simply do not know these men. Their views, however, certainly seems to be where several Evangelical Pastors are heading due to their Dispensational Theological perspective.

The idea that there are two peoples of God is not taught in the New Testament. The idea that gentiles are merely partakers in the blessings of the New Covenant and not full blown New Covenant members and true Israelites is simply missing the New Testament's teaching. I am not certain what more the Apostle Paul could say in Ephesians 2 or the entire epistle of Galatians. I am not certain what more Jesus would have to say about the Temple in John's Gospel (see chapter 4!). I am not certain what more the writer to the Hebrews could have said when he wrote that the Old Covenant had passed away?

I am disappointed that anyone could think that National Israel is meant to be the Light unto the nations without receiving Christ (maybe he is thinking Romans 11:26 here?). The Church of Jesus Christ is not a secondary plan. It is the Israel of God (see Romans 9-11). I am just as much of a descendant of Abraham as any Jew. In God's eyes, even more so than those that are only descendants in the flesh.

A passage to consider.

Eph 2:19 So then you [Gentiles. Yes that includes me!] are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household,
Eph 2:20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,
Eph 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,
Eph 2:22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.


It seems Rob Muchnick is not a Jewish Christian but simply a Jew who was attempting to explain to Evangelicals how they needed to support the Nation of Israel properly. Muchnick is a member of Temple Beth El, Patchogue, NY.

The program is enlightening as to the actual history of modern Israel and its leaders. Nevertheless, Muchnick is not a Christian and is severely misguided in his understanding of Biblical prophecy. God may eventually graft in the natural branches, but He will graft them into the Church.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dembski Interviewed By CitizenLink

William Dembski was recently interviewed by Citizen Link about his new book The Design of Life. Question number 4 truly shows the clash between Modernism and the ID movement.

4. Does your research conclude that God is the Intelligent Designer?

I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.

The focus of my writings is not to try to understand the Christian doctrine of creation; it’s to try to develop intelligent design as a scientific program.

There’s a big question within the intelligent design community: “How did the design get in there?” We’re very early in this game in terms of understanding the history of how the design got implemented. I think a lot of this is because evolutionary theory has so misled us that we have to rethink things from the ground up. That's where we are. There are lots and lots of questions that are now open to re-examination in light of this new paradigm.

What is interesting about this answer in the wake of the many recent atheistic evolutionary books, is the paradigm shift being as subtle as atheism's borrowing from the Image of God. I am all for science opening up the field of science to alternative answers to how the world functions scientifically. However, to act as if Christian scientists are somehow just being morally and philosophically neutral is I think somewhat deceptive.

I love the idea that scientists would use the naturalistic world to demonstrate that there must be Super Naturalistic explanations of the world, but isn't science really assuming God must exist in order to even have a scientific conversation in the first place? In other words, he is writing to "try to develop intelligent design as a scientific program". I think this is wonderful and certainly would move science in the right direction. One need not be a believer in the Christian God in order to live the Image of God within him (however bent it may be) and look at the world to see how the Creator made it from a scientific perspective. Yet the unbeliever is not morally neutral and will forever seek to circumvent the True God and his revelation to man, while using the very Image within him and scientific evidence to do so.

Again, notice how he starts his answer. "I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God." I say, "Amen!" Does he start with this presupposition or has the God given evidence led him to that conclusion? Could it be both?

Again, I think at some level, even unbelievers could discover some of the hows of God's creation, such as his question, “How did the design get in there?” (What a simple yet profound question to ask from a scientific standpoint.) For example, when I look at the painting on my wall, I just say, "Wow. What a nice painting. Who painted it?" Or when I see a car, I don't ask, "Did Ford make that or did it evolve? Sure will be nice to see that thing evolve back into the ground." Therefore Romans 1 is right to say that all men know God is the Creator, for He explains the God given evidence all around us.

In conclusion, I think Dembski needs to be careful. For he is often treading on Holy Ground when looking to science to answer some of the questions from a Naturalistic perspective (I simply mean scientific here and not philosophical) when God has clearly spoken in His word. God is the Creator. He created language. He is able to speak. It truly is where the Christian must start...and end.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Schaff On Dort

How many think of the Calvinist God as just some crazy Being that forces some to go to heaven and forces others to go to hell against the wills? It certainly is a strange sterotype that is often perceived by those who are inconsistent in their theology.

Philip Schaff comments on the Canons of Dort (as cited by Riddlebarger; Taken from Philip Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom, Vol 1 (pp. 519-523)). Keep in mind that Dort's Canons are in response to the followers of Arminianism.

Moreover the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the gospel.

So many think Calvinists are not commanded to give the Gospel call to all men. Although the same can not grasp as to why we would do so (the apparent contradiction as many see it), read the next paragraph.

And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief; this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.

he problem is not God but sinners remaining in their rebellion. This next paragraph says something I have thought about for a long time.

Faith is therefore the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure, but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him; nor even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should, by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of salvation, and actually believe in Christ; but because he who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe and the act of believing also.

So many think that God now gives some kind of prevenient grace by which men now have the ability to believe if they so choose. Notice that God has not bestowed "
the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should, by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of salvation, and actually believe in Christ" but instead actually creates faith in the heart of unregenerate person.

Salvation is about God saving dead sinners for His own glory. So the next time you proclaim the Gospel, keep in mind you are simply the means by which God is working in the lives of men and women around you. IMHO, this is quite humbling.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

World According to John

Before I get into the text of 1 John, I’d like to look at the word world as John in a few of other places uses it. Keep in mind that in 1 John 2:2 we are told that Jesus is the propitiation of the sins of the entire world. World is often assumed to mean every single person ever. Of course just stating it that way is problematic. Nevertheless, let us attempt to see that Jesus’ intention is to actually save every person ever.

1Jo 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1Jo 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

In just a space of 13 verses, John tells us that Christians are not to love the world. Is the natural reading the same as in verse 2? Obviously not! Those who argue for the natural reading in verse 2, however, are begging the question. Although they see the natural reading of verse 2 as meaning every single person ever, reformed folks simply do not see it that way. This is mainly due to the immediate context and the term propitiation, which we will look at later. For now, I just wanted the average reader to note that John has a remarkable ability to use words in different ways, even in the same verse! (see John 5:20-25; 11)

In John 17:9, Jesus prays the High Priestly prayer in behalf of His people and not for the world. I am told that here is an example of world meaning every single person. Yet the logic should be obvious. If world is every person ever, then Jesus is not praying for every person ever. The irony is that this militates against the God loving the world and not doing what it takes to save it.

John 3:16 is really the debatable place. John McArthur has commented in the past that world here means every person. The context at some points seems to allow for such an idea. Notice verses 14 & 15. Here is a reference to Moses’ provision for all who had been bitten by the serpents in the desert. Anyone who looked to the Bronze Serpent would become healed. In the same way, when Jesus is lifted up before all men, anyone who looks to the Son shall be saved. Therefore, verse 16 could be allowed to mean every person in the sense that Jesus has made a sufficient sacrifice for the world.

It is here that a counter point needs to be made. For everyone agrees that there is a delimiter in verse 16 and the reference in verse 14 to Moses. Both groups require that the people must look to the Son or believe. The question then become “Why do some believe?” Christ in the beginning of His discourse gives the answer to Nicodemus.

Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Here is an act of the Holy Spirit. No matter how the religions of men attempt to make faith something that is worked up within a man, here Jesus could not be clearer. The Spirit of God gives birth. This logically leads to those who look to the Son for provision. This logically ties with the decree of the Father’s love for the Elect (see Romans 8: 32-33). John 3:16 must be read in this sense of the Trinity saving a people perfectly. Therefore, John Owen was right in arguing that the sense of the term world in 3:16 is the elect. God has loved a particular people not just in a neighborly way, but also in the redemptive sense.

In conclusion John uses the term world in various ways. 1 John 2:2 is that Jesus is a perfect Advocate by the offering of Himself in behalf of all those who believe in Him. As Revelation 5:9 says:

And they *sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

Verse 10 gives a clue as to the nature of this people.

"You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."

This is not a hypothetical world. It is a new world in Christ.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Missionary Work Needing Prayer

I just received this link to Dr. White's third video clip on Islam. It is a part of a series that will be aired via satellite in Iran. I am told that Christians in these Islamic Lands are begging for apologetic materials. Please pray that God would use this to reach Muslims.

Also, I recently listened to John DiVito interviewed on Iron Sharpens Iron. He is "the East Africa director for the Centers for Apologetics Research will address "COUNTER-CULT MINISTRY TO AFRICA"." I had the privilege of sitting with him and his wife every evening at dinner while on the Apologetics Cruise in Seattle. He truly has a sharp mind and is seeking to do apologetics work in foreign lands. You may listen to his interview here.

Also, Joel and Anya Kasselman are planning to be home soon. They have been in the Republic of Georgia working with Campus Crusade. They will be having a baby soon. Please pray for them in their travels.

Please pray that God would use His people to proclaim the Gospel faithfully.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Huckabee and Sarah Andracek

Fox News quotes Mike Huckabee as saying, "No. I did not. Let me categorically say that I did not."

Now this is in response to the hot story that Huckabee had released a rapist back into society only to commit the rape and murder of a Missouri woman. He later is quoted as saying:

"Now if you can follow that line and believe that I am solely responsible then you'll believe that. But you'll believe a lot of other things as well."
Solely responsible? I don't get it. Is he partly responsible?

This story bothers me personally simply because this rapist/murderer has been possibly linked to the murder of a fellow church member's daughter-in-law. She was a beautiful young lady who sang in the church I attend.

The Kansas City Star reported at the time the possible culprit as being Wayne Dumond. They also spoke about how Huckabee was very influential in his release from prison. Am I now to believe Huckabee's response that this is a mere political hit piece? Was the original story a political hit piece?

The Kansas City Star has mentioned Sarah Andracek again yesterday here.

I realize that this may not be all of Huckabee's fault. I just can't bring myself to vote for a guy so closely linked to the release of the murderer of that young lady.

More On Dawkins' Presuppositions

If you listen to this clip, you will hear Dawkins ask a very good question about religion. You get a feel that McGrath's opening presentation didn't challenge Dawkins' pink elephants or unicorns at all. Dawkins asks basically, "So what?" So what if religion may cause people to do good things. The real question is "Is it true?"

McGrath leaves himself wide open to criticism at this point in the discussion. If you have listened to the Bahnsen/Stein debate, Bahnsen starts off with a much clearer opening statement. He sought not to prove theism in general nor even monotheism in particular. He only sought to demonstrate the Triune God of the bible. This was stated up front and for all to see. Bahnsen then demonstrated Christianity with far more certainty than McGrath's position ever could.

Back to McGrath's answer. Dawkins asked the question several times and even the moderator attempted to do so. "So is Christianity true?" "Well all of the evidence is best explained by Christianity" was the response. But again, is it true? I agree with McGrath that Christianity is the best explanation of the evidence, but Dawkins act of moral neutrality is a charade. This is where the discussion should have gone, and McGrath missed it.

Notice the question asked by Dawkins. "Is it true?"

1) How may Dawkins' world view ask such a question? This is where the Christian must expose the supposed moral neutrality of the unbeliever. Dawkins, like all atheists, must borrow from the Christian world view. He must borrow from the Image of God within him that would even cause such a question to even be thought of.

Truth is something only accounted for in the Christian system. Only a Creator that is eternal and self existent could even make such a question meaningful at all.

2) The question presupposes the Laws of Logic (or to even ask the question itself requires they exist). How does Dawkins know these laws exist? Did he scientifically test them? Can he smell or taste or touch or see or hear them? Why does he get to presuppose these laws without demonstrating a consistent world view? Why does the Christian have to prove things while he gets to borrow from the Christian without explaining himself?

3) This question is also in the middle of discussing morality and good works. How in the world may Dawkins ask a question about morality? His empty world has no ability to explain morality at all. So again, asking the question borrows from the Christian religion in assuming morality exists. If only Bahnsen had the opportunity.

This is still a great question though, and if McGrath answered it, I missed it.

This clip Dawkins basically uses logic to show that just because science can not answer questions, why in the world is it a logical necessity to go to Religion?

1) I have been called arrogant, but this takes the cake. What makes him think science had any right to answer the questions of our universe in the first place? Was there some logical necessity that science had already proved itself over and against any other forms of knowledge? If so, how did it do so? We are not told by Dawkins. It is just assumed!

2) I agree with Dawkins that religions often are man-made. But how does he know all religions are man-made?

3) This assumes naturalism and then proves it. If I use the Bible to demonstrate Jesus rose from the dead, I am accused of assuming what I am proving. He assumes science as the ultimate authority and then proves it, and that is just hunky dory.

4) This assumes God can not exist and use religion, or it assumes that if God exists, He is not able to speak to His creatures anyway. So God is just some mute Being that has no ability at all (assumption here is that evolution is true and the universe need no God).

Christianity, however, has more than demonstrated that God has spoken in the Person of Jesus Christ. He was raised from the dead. Dawkins is not some morally neutral creature just wanting to know what is true. His presuppositions are active, and he is actively suppressing the truth of God and exchanging it for a lie.

Dawkins is a bright man. Perhaps the brightest in our day. This only shows that the brightest minds are just as hostile to God's truth as the worst pharisee or pagan of Jesus' day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Couple of Things

A couple of things to note.

Lifeway and Founders recently had a conference on Building Bridges: Southern Baptists and Calvinism. Of particular interest to me were the two speakers who spoke on the nature and extent of the Atonement. The first was David Nelson, Senior Vice President, Academic Administration; Professor of Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Nelson's presentation of the non-Calvinist position was simply excellent. He truly demonstrated that men of opposing views could actually interact. During his presentation he asked several question that Calvinists need to answer. I appreciated some of his insights that may help Calvinists understand how and what they need to communicate in order to perhaps be more persuasive.

In response and defense of Particular Redemption, Sam Waldron, Academic dean; professor of theology, Midwest Center for Theological Studies, Owensboro, Ky, gave an excellent lecture. His first and primary argument was one that I often give (I am glad to know I am in such great company). He argued that the very nature and definition of Substitutionary Atonement demands Particular Redemption. He also demonstrated that those for whom Christ died, by their actual union with Him, also die with Christ on the cross. His death is their death. Therefore, they must come to faith.

You may go and listen to these lectures at this web page. David Nelson's lecture here and Waldron's here.

The second thing.

I was also listening to Alister McGrath discuss Evolutionism verses Christianity with none other than Richard Dawkins. At one point Dawkins stated something all Christians that compromise on the Biblical account of Creation should hear. (Click here to listen to a short clip)

Basically, Dawkins asks the question that Christian Evolutionists need to answer. Why would God use a method of Creation that makes certain He would never be known as the Creator? That in fact, God isn't even necessary for our being here at all. I loved it. So I sat waiting for McGrath's answer. None came.

Now I must confess I enjoyed much of McGrath's presentation. I commend him for answering a fool according to his folly. Yet when Dawkins asked whether or not Christianity was true, McGrath should have come out blazing with both barrels. Instead McGrath took the road that Christianity is more probable than not. Thereby answering a fool according to his folly and becoming like him.

Dawkins kept asking an interesting question. Just because science may not have the answer, "Why look to religion?" This question was loaded with such devastating presumptions that McGrath should have explained the nature of man-made religion as opposed to God's ability to speak and give revelation of Himself. He could have gone into the language and laws of logic and moral issues that demand the existence of God. He could have explained the Image of God within man. He could have explained his sin and need of repentance. I wonder if in eternity McGrath will wonder if being ashamed of the Gospel should have been a concern in the fleeting moments of this passing and evil age.

In the end I was very disappointed over all. I do believe Christians must often go onto enemy ground and expose the enemy's world view. However, when asked why in return, Christians must bring those that oppose the faith onto our ground. Proving Christianity while assuming Dawkin's world view simply will not work and being shy about your presuppositions won't help either (listen for the "You believe in the Virgin Birth?") Yet listening to the discussion may help you understand where atheism is in the Dawkin's world. If you listen carefully, perhaps you might sharpen your apologetic and be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks with gentleness and reverence.

You may listen to part one here and part 2 here located at this site.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Creation Museum

What a terrible problem to have. The Answers in Genesis Creation Museum planned on 250,000 visitors per year has already had 250,000 in 5 months. Read story here.

This just proves one thing. Far more people are at least interested in the subject than was thought. Now I don't know if this initial overrunning of the museum is just because of its initial opening, but it sure must be making an impact.