Sunday, July 31, 2005

Arrakis... Dune... desert planet...

I'm back in San Bernardino county after a week in glorious seaside San Diego. The title words apply. The heat... the oppressive heat... human beings were NOT meant to live here in such large numbers...

In one week I'll be back in DC for a two-week working vacation. It will be "work" as I will have to take my thesis data along and work on it - but a "vacation" in the sense that I will finally see my friends and family for the first time in 7 long agonizing months.

Societas Christiana has reposted an old essay on how Reformed theology should effect our online behavior. On a closely related note, an earlier post deals with the dangers of engaging in too much online controversy. This really rings home to me, as the whole question of open communion came up again at BHT, and generated the same dismal heat-to-light ratio. It seems we can't even talk about stopping our fighting between our denominations, without fighting about it. Sad irony.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Why it's dangerous to play with (hell)fire...

Another great post at Cerulean Sanctum. Take a look at the comments thread too. This should be a no-brainer for us - but as my own life can demonstrate, we are all too quick to forget how much we owed the King who forgave our debts, and too quick to call down fire where He has not. (Matt 18:21-35; Luke 9:54-55)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What do Sex and Communion have in Common?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

God save the United States...

from these honorable culture warriors.

Yep, Justice Sunday II. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

It is interesting that this came to my attention today, at the same time that Doug Wilson made these comments on the relationship between evangelicalism and gay rights. The point he makes can be applied more broadly than just that one issue...

The point of our article was that if American Christians want the nation to repent, then American Christians need to show the nation how it is done. But of course the concept that God might be chastizing us is beyond the ken of the modern evangelical. "Us? Have a problem?"

I also loved this quote...

As a prophet of God Jeremiah argued that the Babylonian invasion was a judgment of God, and that the Israelites should simply take it as being from His hand, and use the time as an occasion for repentance. And in that repentance they were to look for deliverance. This hardly made Jeremiah a colonel in the Babylonian Tank Corps.

Of course, the problem is that that is exactly what Jeremiah was accused of, on numerous occasions. The truth Jeremiah (and Wilson) acknowledge here has never been popular with the people of God. Of course, Israel's refusal to admit this did not save them from the Babylonians. I very much doubt it will help us, either...

Monday, July 18, 2005

Croonin' to Jesus

OK, this is not going to be all that original a post, but it's been a pet peeve of mine for quite awhile now.

Blame the mavens at Mere Comments for starting it. S. M. Hutchens wrote this piece in response to the waves of emotio-romantic "praise music" that makes up much of evangelical singing these days. Then The Monk added his voice to the chorus. Now, I add mine.

I am a man - at least physiologically, attempting to be one spiritually and mentally. While I am no longer the rockribbed rationalist I was, I am no mystic either. And as a non-mystic man, this style of music really sticks in my craw. Maybe someday, if I have a significant female in my life, I can sing like this to *her*. But am I really expected to address my Lord and Savior - who created me, died for me, and intercedes for me - in these terms? He is a *man*, after all. Men relate to other men differently from the way they relate to women, or so I'm told. And He is still God, after all. This sort of warm-fuzzy assumed relationship doesn't seem to jive with my experience, or with 90+% of the God-man relationships described in the Bible. There are some parallels in the Psalms and the Song of Solomon, but they are but *one theme* among many. Since when did those of us who don't follow this view of our relationship to God lose our say in the church's worship style?

Please - let's have a little less sap in our songs, and a little more solemnity. Just a little. Could it be *that* bad? Please?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The New Kid on the Block

Dr. Doug Groothuis has joined the ranks of the bloggers. (HT to Mike at Eternal Perspectives)

He's only had two posts so far (not counting the introduction), but he has in those two posts reviewed the book On Bull**** and confessed to engaging in technical sabotage at the Christian Junk-Sellers Convention. A strong start-off, I must say. :-) The link to his blog is now enshrined in the index column.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

As often as you eat this (cracker) and drink this (thimble of Welch's)...

I stumbled across this excellent article on communion today.

People may wonder - why am I, who still somewhat identifies himself as a (b)aptist, a member of an Anglican church? Here's one BIG reason. One wonderful, positive thing I learned in seminary was the importance and mystery of Communion. (And I learned that from Calvin, no less!) And once I saw communion done right (and at a Methodist church, of all places!), there was no going back.

My church back in DC does it pretty close to how he describes it in this article. (Of course, as an Anglican church, we do it *weekly*, the way you ought to do it.) We usually buy a big, fresh loaf of bread from a bakery near Eastern Market. We have a bottle of fine wine for the Communion cup. The bread is given in nice juicy chunks to the communicants. The wine is given in a large, old-fashioned chalice. There are deacons standing by for prayer while the communion is offered. And every Sunday after service, we share a common meal together - it's almost an extension of the service rather than a separate event.

I miss my church - my home. I can't wait to see them in August...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

In the Beginning was the Logical Inference...

I posted a few weeks back on John Robbins and the inflated role he gives logic in the Christian faith. Now, one of his allies has come out with a new post at Trinity Foundation, which claims that doctines logically inferred from Scripture are equivalent to Scripture.

Pause. Reflect on that.

Now, I'm no relativist. I happen to think logic is a good thing. But logic is a tool, like all other tools. And when you put even the best tool in the hands of a sinner (which we all are), you're going to get mixed results even under the best of circumstances. Logic is fine, but we're never 100% logical. Everyone, when push comes to shove, ends up tweaking their use of logic to protect their pet ideas (which more often than not are not the results of that logic, but are pre-conceived BEFORE we even begin to apply that logic).

If I understand them correctly, the Trinity Foundation folks are Presbyterians and Calvinists. Which means that, according to their system, infant baptism, presbyterian government, limited atonement, etc, are all sound logical inferences from Scripture. And, if the system outlined in the linked article is correct, that means they *are* divine revelation to be believed and obeyed as much as any direct quotation from Scripture. So all Baptists, Anglicans, Arminians, and anyone else who does not draw the same logical conclusions from Scripture they do are heterodox at best, heretics at worst.

If they are consistent, that's what they will say. (From what I've read, in some instances that's exactly how they act as well.) And if they don't - if they accept that there are legitimate differences in interpretation that cannot be resolved in this life - then the whole system of "logical inference = divine revelation" is, as an RTS prof used to say, "wildly counter-intuitive" - which was his kind way of saying that something was utter codswallop.

If that doesn't convince them, then perhaps they should go to the Scripture verse that says, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known," (I Cor 13:12) and logically infer some humility from it.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Faces of Evil

A group calling itself “The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe” posted a claim of responsibility for Thursday’s blasts in London, saying they were in retaliation for Britain’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Headline from Yahoo News

Know Islam,
No Peace;
No Islam,
Know Peace!
- Comment at Little Green Footballs

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- the Lord Jesus

For I do not do the good I want (loving Muslims as Christ commanded), but the evil I do not want (wanting to drive the ?#$!##$ Muslims back into the deserts that spawned them) is what I keep on doing.
- The outworking of Romans 7 in my heart at times like this...

Friday, July 01, 2005

Breaking News - Kenya Disfellowships ECUSA

Kenyan Anglicans cut links with US church

By Samwel Rambaya

The Anglican Church of Kenya has severed links with the Episcopal Church of America and demanded its expulsion from the global communion.

The announcement at the end of a three-day meeting in Nairobi was made amidst revelation that the head of the parent church in England, archbishop Rowan William would be visiting Kenya on July 20.

The church made the move over ECUSA’s endorsement of Dr Gene Robinson, a 59-year-old homosexual bishop who divorced his wife to live with a male partner.

Besides foregoing unspecified financial aid, the Kenyan Church would also not send its clergy for training at churches that recognise lesbianism and homosexuality.

"Unless they repent and recant same sex marriage, we have nothing to do with them," said archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi who chaired the meeting at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi.

Nzimbi said Kenya’s stand was communicated at last week’s meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, which is the top decision-making organ of the Anglican Communion.

"We have severed links with ECUSA and other churches which believe in same sex unions," Nzimbi said at a news briefing attended by bishops Stephen Njuguna, Gideon Ireri and William Waqo.

Archbishop William, who will be visiting Kenya on his way to Burundi, has been asked to request the ‘offending’ churches not to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the largest gathering of Anglican bishops.

Waqo, who is the church’s Provincial Secretary, could not give the exact funding to be rejected but said it would not affect the church’s operation.

The church also rejected calls for legislation of abortion and supported the proposal to ban advertising of alcohol and cigarettes.

It also demanded implementation of the Ndung’u Commission on Land report to resolve the land crisis and challenged the President to act on reported corruption.

"There should be no sacred cows or protection of a clique of trusted cronies," said Njuguna.


EDIT: PGE called me out on the exact heresy I referred this to. Oopsie. More proof positive that I ain't infallible. ;-}

I was planning on writing a different post than this one, but circumstances intervened - the circumstance being a recent post on one of the blogs I list to the side here. I wasn't going to directly name it because I don't want to give the impression I'm just doing this to be "blogspotted" - but what the heck, I'll name names anyways. It's Phil Johnson, and his post resurrected an old article by Gary North critiquing an article printed in Modern Reformation by T. David Gordon. The offending article by Mr. Gordon was called "The Insufficiency of Scripture" - a provocative title to say the least. Sadly the article is not online (and Phil insinuates that this is both on-purpose and a recent development, something I rather doubt). But I read it when the magazine came out, and to my recollection, the point of the article was quite solid - that the Bible is NOT the axiomatic foundation of all human knowledge, that we may just have to study other things outside the Bible to more fully apply it, and that it is pride and arrogance to say otherwise. The list of North's complaints is long, and exactly what I'd expect from a theonomist and a presuppositionalist. A point by point refutaion would be effort wasted, but the primary root of the problem can be seen in the following quote...

Most theonomists are followers of Cornelius Van Til, who made it clear in everything he ever wrote that the mind of self-proclaimed natural man is not to be trusted. In one of his choicest analogies, he compared the mind of natural man with a buzz saw that is set at the wrong angle. No matter how sharp it is, it will cut crooked. Dr. Gordon has not accepted this view of autonomous man's mind.

My response is thus...

First, *Christians'* minds are still tainted with the same inclinations. Any difference between Christians and non-Christians is one of *degree*. And Van Til's thinking was just as indebted to *non*-Christian philosophy as any other theologian's was. There is no man walking on earth who can claim an infallible grasp of divine truth. We Calvinists love to carp about the "noetic effects of sin" - for everybody but US, of course...

Second, this totally negates common grace - that God allows *everyone* some ability to grasp the truths of life, if not the Gospel. How many of the inventions and ideas that support our life today came from Christian minds? If nothing of the mind if sinful man is to be trusted, you should chuck everything not invented by a Christian out your door - or should we have doors? Were they invented by Christians?

Third, this totally misses the point of what the Bible is about. Yes, the Bible teaches us wisdom, godly principles about how our lives should honor Christ. But those principles are woven into a larger story - the story of how God saved us in Christ when we did not deserve it. And those principles are not only part of a story, but a story that took place *in history and in a cultural context that is not ours exactly*. People like North love to look for "eternal principles" to extract from Scripture and apply directly today, with no respect for the redemptive or historical context of the original verses (or our own situation for that matter). There was an ancient heresy called "Docetism" that taught that Christ only appeared to be human - His divinity could not be sullied by joining it to a dirty human nature. The way some people treat the Bible is similar - we cannot allow mere human principles to aid our understanding of it, it is DIVINE! It *is* divine - it is also human. And human knowledge (even of divine things) is ALWAYS contextual.

General principles are fine, but knowing HOW to apply it is something else entirely. As C. S. Lewis said, "Christ said, 'Feed the poor' - He did not give cooking lessons." It takes *wisdom* to know how to apply principles. The Bible enjoins men to love their wives - it does not give specific instructions on how to best love *your* wife. You have to do the hard work of getting to know her to do that. The Bible says to give to the poor - should that mean giving the man on the corner your change, your jacket, your time, a lift to rehab? You have to get to know the man himself to know that.

As I stated above, the original article by Gordon is not online. I wish it were. Here is one quote from it that I wrote down in my journal when I first read it, as a sample of what Gordon was saying...

Theonomy is not merely an error, though it has manifestly been regarded as erroneous by the Reformed tradition. It is the error du jour, the characteristic error of an unwise generation. It is the error of a generation that has abandoned the bibilcally-mandated quest for wisdom on the assumtion that the Bible itself (alone) contains all that we need to know about life's various enterprises. It is the proof-textual, Bible-thumping, literalst error par excellance. It is not merely the view of the unwise, but the view of the never-to-be-wise, because it is the view of those who wrongly believe that Scripture (self-)sufficiently governs this arena, and who, for this reason, will never discover in the natural constitution of human nature or the particular circumstances of given peoples what must be discovered to govern well and wisely.

Phil says Gordon's article was probably the second-worst ModernReformation ever published. Well, I say it was probably the second-best. And I too think I have the Spirit of God...