Friday, April 30, 2010

Horton: Quote of the Day

My father-in-law and I were talking about the business of churches and the natural desire to start every program under the sun. While listening to the White Horse Inn via MP3, I heard Michael Horton address the same issue. The quote of the day,
Christians do a lot more than proclaim the Gospel, but the church does nothing else. The church delivers the Gospel through Word and Sacrament.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Noah's Ark Found?

Fox News is reporting
A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers say wooden remains they have discovered on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey are the remains of Noah's Ark.
Now I agree with Answers In Genesis that judgment should be reserved till the find is corroborated. Nevertheless, If this is the real thing, I'd like to make a prediction. For many years I have been told that finding Noah's Ark would take away the radical skeptics biggest weapon against the Bible. Having aged just a little over the years, I venture to say that you could take the most radical skeptic to the boat itself and give him a grand tour of the boat, and he will still find every reason under the sun to explain the evidence away. Remember, it is not about evidence. It is about the prism by which we see the world.

I just hope this is the real thing. It makes for more than a "See, I told you so."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Trip to Denver

This weekend was a busy and entertaining one. My son and I went to the last Colorado Avalanche game of the season/playoffs Saturday night. It was definitely worth the long drive even though the Avs lost. One thing was unusual about this game, and I realize that according to the commercial, "hockey fans are not like other fans".

During the National Anthem, everyone started singing along very loudly at the point of, "and our flag was still there!" Now what was unusual was not only did everyone seem to get a pinch of a sense of patriotic pride, but everyone knew the words. I only act surprised because we are hockey fans and all. :-)

We also had a great time visiting the cousins, who were very gracious in letting us crash their place for the night. It was fun to finally see their baby even though the time we had together was short.

Since yesterday was the Lord's Day, Steven and I decided to visit a church that was on the Farese website, the L2 Church. During the announcements one of the pastors explained that the men were going to get together to raise money for the local men's shelter. But this would be no ordinary gathering. You were invited to bring whatever beer you wished along with your favorite cigar. But it gets even better. You were also to bring $20 for the poker game that was to raise money for the shelter.

Now I must say, that was definitely different. It was also the first baptist church that served wine instead of juice during communion. So I must give credit to this pastor for not making up laws that the bible doesn't force upon men's consciences. Then again, the pastor obviously likes Tim Keller since he quoted him during the sermon. So it should have been no surprise.

Anyway, the Lord blessed the time I spent with my son this weekend.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Brewing Patriots!

Sam Adams may just turn out to be my favorite Patriot yet! Kuddos to Pastor Riddlebarger for this quote.
"I . . . [rely] upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Horton: Calvinistic Evangelicals

I agree with Riddlebarger. Mike Horton nails it with this post on the White Horse Inn discussing what it means to be young, restless and "reformed". This portion says exactly what I think needs to be repeated.
If being Reformed can be reduced to believing in the sovereignty of God and election, then Thomas Aquinas is as Reformed as R. C. Sproul. However, the Reformed confession is a lot more than that. Even the way it talks about these doctrines is framed within a wider context of covenant theology.
The last sentence was exactly my point in my April 14th post. The next paragraph states the importance of this thought.
It’s intriguing to me that people can call themselves Reformed today when they don’t embrace this covenant theology. This goes to the heart of how we read the Bible, not just a few doctrines here or there. Yet what was once recognized as essential to Reformed faith and practice is now treated merely as a sub-set (and a small one at that) of the broader “Reformed” big tent.
Anyway, the article is definitely worth the read if you are one who is floating about or contemplating what it means to be reformed. Although the article is not attempting to define reformed theology in any depth. It is attempting to explain the phenomenon that is occurring among "calvinistic evangelicals" and how it should relate to the local church.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Allen West on Islam

Allen West Speaks about Islam and the position the United States has taken due to poor leadership. As one caller reminded Rush Limbaugh listeners, if someone will lead, Americans will follow.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

For those of us who have wondered where Jennifer Knapp has gone, well.... Christianity Today is reporting that Jennifer Knapp has come out. She has announced that she is gay. You may read here.

One of my pastor friends wrote, I read the CToday interview she showed little to no understanding of basic Christology/theology/covenants. Another point this brought to mind was the erroneous teaching in many churches that suddenly when one comes to Christ they are now FORMERLY a sinner using 1Cor6:11 as the whipping post. Just as we need to be diligent to explain clearly a proper biblical framework it must also include the right understanding of continued sin and the battle that ensues.
He wrote this in response to Knapp stating the typical pro-homosexual argument against the Old Testament. Mark Moring asks,
What about what Scripture says on the topic?

To which she responded:

Knapp: The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a rock and a hard place—between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the "clobber verses" to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they're eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about. I'm not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn't allow homosexuals within our church. There's a spirit that overrides that for me, and what I've been gravitating to in Christ and why I became a Christian in the first place.

This is why theology matters and pastors need to start actually learning sound theology and preaching and teaching it to their people. However, on the flip side. Another pastor wrote,
The over-arching theme of her music has been a struggle with indwelling sin. It has a kind of heart-wrenching honesty, and quite honestly shows some level of theological depth. It appears to me that she's simply losing in her struggle, and tired of the fight, she's surrendering. She is to be pitied, not castigated. I hope someone can reach her before she slips away and is gone.
These two pastoral perspectives recognize that we all struggle with sin. We need a proper understanding of the law of God and its relation to the Christian life. But what she in particular and us all in general need more than anything else is to hear the Gospel in the context of a local church.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Covvenant Theology and Matthew 23:37

Dr. James White debated Dr. Michael Brown on the issue of Monergism verses Synergism. The second of two debates may be downloaded here.

In this debate Dr. Brown had the opportunity of picking three texts by which he would attempt to demonstrate his position. The first part of the debate focused on Matthew 23:37. An interesting exchange took place during Brown's initial cross-examination in which he accused White of putting words into his mouth. He states,
I am kind of stunned by the comments you made both for putting words in my mouth that I never spoke. I hope to clarify...I never said gathered meant saved. What do you believe gathered means...?
Now Brown sounded a little upset at this point. For his point may have been obvious, but it nonetheless was not taken out of context. What becomes really odd is that for all of the "debate hype" he makes his accusation empty in his closing remarks. He states,
In verse 37 I would have gathered but you would not. The Savior sincerely desired their conversion. He wanted to gather Jerusalem into His saving and protecting grace, but they spurned His sincere invitation and refused to turn. Finally, writing in the Banner of Truth Gerald [Hamstra] pressed how fervently longs for the salvation of the lost. If only the unconverted sinner could know how rich a love dwells in the heart of our precious Redeemer. He understands the plight of the sinner as no one else. His gracious warnings are a proof of this...
I think it is quite clear from the entire closing remarks that Brown meant exactly what White thought. That Jesus truly longed to gathered the children in for salvation. What else could these words mean?

Again, Brown's argument is difficult to address I think for reasons that this debate simply could not get into. In the cross examination, White did respond by offering some good thoughts and questions. White does state in one of his answers,
You just assume that there can be no prescriptive will and His law and the decree of God as to what is going to take place...
He also states in his first response,
In eight minutes of discussion, we never had any demonstration that the term gathered means, "I want to save." It was just assumed, but it was never proven. It was never even attempted to be proven that "gathered" means the same thing as "bring in to eternal life".
Then White goes on to say something which is stated in passing, I wonder if this needs to be fleshed out.
There are all sorts of covenant language here. And it was also confusing to me that it sounded like Dr. Brown was somehow distinguishing between Matthew's use of [Greek word] and Luke's. Both are judgment passages...
It is true that Jesus was speaking in a covenantal context. It is also true that Jesus' language makes sense within a Covenantal theological framework. Dr. Brown keeps insisting that Calvinists are forcing their system onto the text, but he does not demonstrate that. He also does this while asserting his presuppositions while assuming his presuppositions are biblical without ever demonstrating them to be.

Perhaps a future discussion of Covenant Theology and its role in the Reformed hermeneutic would be proper. Both sides are speaking the idea that Jesus longed to gather the children of Jerusalem. One side is assuming a free-will and a love "that can not be coerced" while the Reformed side is assuming covenantal language in which God has an elect nation according to the flesh and physical circumcision, which is a type of the church in which God establishes a nation which has no borders. It is an election according to the promises of God in Christ.

To put it another way, Jesus is speaking to the old covenant people who are still bound under the law and the Mosaic covenant. He longs to preach to them. Eventually, does not Jesus accomplish this by establishing a new covenant by which He perfects forever those who draw near unto God through Him?

In conclusion, perhaps Dr. Brown is misunderstanding the Reformed position due to his hearing and use of the same terminology while assuming his own presuppositions. Perhaps if he stopped assuming his idea of love and referring to Calvinism as a system by which God forces unbelievers to be unbelievers against their will, and starts understanding the nature of the Abrahamic covenants, both of the promise and of circumcision, then maybe Dr. Brown will grasp the understanding of the Reformed position. Then perhaps he will see that the term "gathering" has a very different meaning within the covenant language of our Lord.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lord of the Flies

Back in the early 90's, my wife and I watched a movie remake, Lord of the Flies. It was on TV recently. So my son and I watched it this time around. I don't want to offer a movie review. I am simply not talented enough for that. Instead, just a couple of thoughts.

Reading my own interpretation into the film, the first thought that came to my mind while watching it was that a subtitle for the movie could have been "Cain Verses Abel". However, the further we got into the movie, I think a better subtitle could have been "Jacob Verses Esau".

The reason for this subtitle is based on the observation that a particular conversation comes up at least twice. The second time it comes up, it does so in a context when the boys, who were stranded on an Island without adult supervision, become divided under the leadership of polar opposites.

The First Leader, who is more like Jacob/Abel, believes that, although, they may never be rescued, they ought to live in such a way as to be prepared in the case help does arrive. The Second Leader, Cain/Esau, decides that help is never coming and even if it does, it is irrelevant to his plans.

What is interesting is that the Second Leader denies the future possibility of a rescue while ignoring the evidence that the military is indeed looking for them when a helicopter flies by. Due to his hunting ability, he determines to survive on his own and allows the "signal fire" to die out. Thus missing not only the opportunity to be rescued, but purposely orders his followers to do the same.

The part that reminds me of an incident between Jacob and Esau is when everyone, except "Piggy" abandons the First Leader for the hunter. Meat is offered to the starving boys, but Ralph, the First Leader, rejects the offer. For if he accepts the offer, he would become a slave to the wickedness of the Second Leader.

At the end of the movie, the Hunter and his followers become totally depraved and seek to murder Ralph. Ralph runs for his life and the movie comes to a climax when Ralph makes it to the beach and lands at the feet of a soldier, who asks, "What are you doing?"

I do not know if the author of the book or the director of the movie are Christians. But this idea is exactly what the Bible teaches. Men suppress the truth of a coming day of final judgment. We ignore all of the signs around us. We seek to live for this age and the present. Yet by God's grace, He has called some men unto Himself. He has caused within the hearts of men to not seek after that which is perishing, but instead to seek that which is eternal.

There is a day coming when the wicked will be seen for what they are. They will pursue the righteous in wickedness. Yet in that Day, Christ will appear. He will ask, "What are you doing?" He will judge the thoughts and intentions and deeds of men. It is to this Blessed Hope that the Christian must constantly be reminded to turn his eyes.
Psa 10:2 In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.

Psa 1:6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ken Ham's Blog

My wife's comments about Jacob and his love for the Museum and the Answers in Genesis "mazagine" Kids thingy have been placed on Ken Ham's Blog.
My 3 yr old loves HIS magazine! He keeps each kids section for the last 2 years all together and carries them around somewhere in the house everyday. There is not a day that we do not have a conversation about the magazine or the museum!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Walter Williams: Parting Company

Today's post at by Walter Williams asks a great question.
Here's the question asked in my September 2000 column titled "It's Time To Part Company": "If one group of people prefers government control and management of people's lives and another prefers liberty and a desire to be left alone, should they be required to fight, antagonize one another, risk bloodshed and loss of life in order to impose their preferences or should they be able to peaceably part company and go their separate ways?"
Now William's conclusion is what most of us want.
The bottom-line question for all of us is: Should we part company or continue trying to forcibly impose our wills on one another? My preference is a restoration of the constitutional values of limited government that made us a great nation.
I really do not know what his answer means since he is a Libertarian. The problem though is what he states throughout his article.
I believe we are nearing a point where there are enough irreconcilable differences between those Americans who want to control other Americans and those Americans who want to be left alone that separation is the only peaceable alternative.
I am curious. Since he knows that Americans have come to a place where the Constitution has been completely abandoned by the Federal Government, since he knows that the Political Left and Right will never be able to agree, what does he mean by separation?

He offers a few examples.
Some independence movements, such as our 1776 war with England and our 1861 War Between the States, have been violent, but they need not be. In 1905, Norway seceded from Sweden; Panama seceded from Columbia (1903), and West Virginia from Virginia (1863).
So again, what does he mean. In the past independence movements, geography played a significant role. The War between the States was a war between the North and the South. Geography separated us. The war between England and the Colonies was separated by an ocean. Even the example of West Virginia is a geographic location. In today's political climate, how does one separate from his next door neighbor? Perhaps states that are generally more conservative should unite such as Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas?

Sooner or later, as Rush likes to say, there is going to be a tipping point. When gas was $3.50 per gallon, Americans were angry but not revolting. As soon as it hit $4.00, Americans had had enough. That is the question I have been pondering about the last several years. As Williams states it,
You say, "Williams, what do you mean by constitutional abrogation?" Let's look at just some of the magnitude of the violations. Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution lists the activities for which Congress is authorized to tax and spend. Nowhere on that list is authority for Congress to tax and spend for: prescription drugs, Social Security, public education, farm subsidies, bank and business bailouts, food stamps and other activities that represent roughly two-thirds of the federal budget. Neither is there authority for congressional mandates to the states and people about how they may use their land, the speed at which they can drive, whether a library has wheelchair ramps and the gallons of water used per toilet flush. The list of congressional violations of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution is virtually without end. Our derelict Supreme Court has given Congress sanction to do anything upon which they can muster a majority vote.
This can only goon so long before the American people revolt. But then again, what will it matter? Half of the American people like it. But then again, only 1/3 of the Colonies were for the Revolution. Many did not want to enter the Civil War.

In conclusion, the more Americans push against each other, the farther apart we become, the more I wonder about the path our nation is heading. Now I am not advocating anything, especially violence. I am just observing what little I have learned from history. Apparently, with Williams asking the question, I am not alone.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Don Piper Coming to Scott City

The advertisement for Don Piper's speaking engagement and perhaps the further promotion of his book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, has been put up in windows of businesses around town. What is interesting is that he is being sponsored by the local Ministerial Alliance. So Dr. White's slogan, Theology Matters, rings even closer to home. Tim Challies offers a book review here.

Perhaps I should go and wear my T-Shirt?

UPDATE: My wife spoke with Pastor Robert Knuckles of the local SBC. He told her that he was very upset about this situation and was against it. In fact, she saw him last night at a store, and he had refused to attend. So it is good to know someone has some kind of discernment. It is one thing for Christians to go and listen to someone give a presentation about their experience. It is quite another for Christians to be the sponsors of and give a platform to such nonsense.

Also, I am also fairly certain that the Lutheran Pastor, Pastor Prochnow, would be against such an event.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Paul Washer on the Wrath of God

On this day, millions of Christians worldwide remember the death of Christ on the cross. What was actually accomplished there? Paul Washer proclaims the truth of what Christ has done and also offers a stern warning.