Saturday, January 21, 2012

All Around the Web: Links For Your Web - January 21, 2012

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. - The Supreme Court Speaks: A Major Victory for Religious Liberty | Reasons to rejoice here. The real problem is that this was brought up to the Supreme Court to begin with.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down one of the most important decisions on religious liberty in recent decades. For the first time, the Court held that there is indeed a ministerial exemption that allows churches and religious organizations to discriminate in ways that other employers cannot. The Court’s decision was unanimous, and the affirmation of religious liberty and the right of churches to hire religious teachers without state interference is fundamentally important.

The case emerged when a teacher in a Lutheran church school in Michigan was terminated by the church. She sued, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] sided with her, bringing a suit against the church. The teacher was a “called teacher” in the church’s program, which meant that she had the responsibility to teach the church’s beliefs. The EEOC and lower courts had held that there is no ministerial exemption that would force the EEOC to drop the case. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice John Roberts rejected that logic, calling the view put forth by the EEOC and the Obama Administration “remarkable.” . . .

By any measure, this is an important and vital decision. One way to consider its importance is to ponder what the opposite finding would have meant. In this case, this would mean that there is no ministerial exemption, and that churches, church schools, Christian colleges and seminaries, and any number of church-based employers, would be forbidden to hire and fire on theological and doctrinal grounds.

In other words, the Government would be able to direct and limit churches and church schools in matters of hiring those with teaching and ministerial responsibility.

This would mean, effectively, the end of religious liberty. Thankfully, the Court preserved religious liberty, and did so in an opinion that is clear in its findings and declarations. Add to this the fact that the decision was unanimous — and be thankful

Towers - Fox News features Allison about the date of Jesus’ birth | Kudos to one of my favorite professors at SBTS.

Fox News featured Southern Seminary’s Gregg Allison in a segment about the date of Jesus’ birth, which aired Dec. 21, 2011.

A few days before the Christmas holiday, Fox News ran “The Back Story: December the 25th,” in which reporter Lauren Green poses a question about the date of the Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth: “How did Christians settle on Dec. 25 as Jesus birthday?

Credo House - Top Ten Theologians: #1 – Augustine | Not surprised by this result. Do you agree that Augustine is the top theologian of all time? If not, who should take his place? John Calvin? Martin Luther? Karl Barth? Jonathan Edwards? Here are Augustine's thoughts on Pelagianism:

It was against the thoughts of the godly man Pelagius that Augustine wrote his most important theological works. Pelagius, a monk from Britain, had become famous by his piety. Pelagius claimed humans can attain a sinless life. He denied that human sin is inherited from Adam.19 He believed that humans are free to act righteously. He saw no need for an outside influence. He did not believe we needed the special enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Pelagius saw the Christian life as a constant effort through which one’s sins could be overcome and salvation attained.20

Augustine remembered his personal experience where he wanted to follow God but was unable to give up his sexual lifestyle. He both willed to obey and willed to not obey. Perhaps the will regarding sin was not as simple as Pelagius thought. Augustine’s disagreement with Pelgaius centered around conversion, the question arose:

How can we make the decision to accept God’s grace? According to Augustine, only by the power of grace itself, for before that moment we are not free to not sin, and therefore we are not free to decide to accept grace. The initiative in conversion is not human, but divine. Furthermore, grace is irresistible, and God gives it to those who have been predestined to it.

Pelagius, for example, views salvation as a life preserver. If you find, while you are swimming, that you need help with your sin then you grab the life preserver. It’s there if you need it, most people do in some way. Augustine, on the other hand, embraced the biblical concept of being dead in our sins. Dead people can’t grab a life preserver. They’re floating face-down. The only way Augustine can be saved is if God jumps in, drags him to shore and brings him back to life.

Augustine’s famous statement from this debate was, “Grant what you command, and command what you will.” If God desires for someone to come and follow Him, he has to grant the ability to do what He commands. The only thing we bring to our salvation, according to Augustine, is our sin.

The views of Pelagius were eventually rejected by the church

Denny Burk - Christianity Today Goes on the Record against Spanking | I'm disappointed that Christianity Today has gone in this direction.

In an online editorial, the editors of Christianity Today have gone on the record against spanking. The subtitle of the article says that “misuse of biblical teaching on discipline can have deadly consequences.” The editors then go on to list several instances of fatal child abuse that have been linked to parents who take a literal interpretation of scriptural passages on discipline. They agree with the case William Webb has made against spanking and say that Albert Mohler “seems to miss the point” on the theological ramifications of corporal punishment. Finally, the editors encourage parents to cease spanking and to “explore more creative and effective ways to train up our children in the way they should go.”

There are a number of problems with this editorial, not the least of which is its unsatisfying interaction with the biblical issues at stake in this debate. The CT editorial relies almost entirely on William Webb’s trajectory hermeneutic—a way of interpreting the Bible that says modern readers sometimes need to move beyond the ethical instruction of scripture to an ethic that supercedes it.

Webb first applied this hermeneutic to the gender issue in his book Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals. More recently, Webb has taken a similar approach to corporal punishment in his book Corporal Punishment in the Bible. In the first book, Webb argues that even though certain passage of the New Testament favor male headship, modern readers have to move beyond that teaching to a better ethic. Similarly, in the new book on spanking, Webb argues that even though certain passages of the Old Testament favor corporal punishment, Christians have to move beyond those passage as well to a non-violent position. It is the latter book that the editors of CT appeal to in their article.

Webb’s hermeneutic was widely criticized ten years ago because it allows specific biblical teaching to be nullified by the reader’s perception of redemption trajectories. In other words, this approach to reading the Bible presents a threat to the authority of scripture.

Credo House - Who Reads Must Choose: Developing a Personal Canon of Theologians | Want to a reading plan for Church History?  Here is two helpful lists.

Here is Dever’s list.

January – Early church writings (1st-3rd centuries
February – Augustine (354-430)
March – Martin Luther (1483-1546)
April – John Calvin (1509-1564)
May – Richard Sibbes (1577-1635)
June – John Owen (1616-1683) and John Bunyan (1628-1688)
July – Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
August – C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
September – B.B. Warfield (1851-1921)
October – Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)
November – C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) and Carl F.H. Henry (1913-2003)
December – Contemporary authors like John Stott, J.I. Packer, Iain Murray, R.C. Sproul and John Piper

. . .

So, here’s my tentative canon of theologians for the new year:

January – Early church writings (Tertullian, Irenaeus, etc.)
February – Augustine
March – Anselm & Aquinas
April – Luther
May – Calvin
June – Post-Reformation Period (Turretin, Owen, Arminius, etc.)
July – Edwards
August – Baptists (Keach, Spurgeon, Dagg, Boyce, etc.)
September – Liberalism (Schleiermacher, Ritschl, etc.)
October – Princetonians (Hodge, Warfield, etc.)
November – Bavinck
December – Barth

Take Your Vitamin Z - Ted "Golden Voice" Williams One Year Later | Thing seem to be going well.

Washington Post - Joe Paterno’s first interview since the Penn State-Sandusky scandal |

Joe Paterno sat in a wheelchair at the family kitchen table where he has eaten, prayed and argued for more than a half-century. All around him family members were shouting at each other, yet he was whispering. His voice sounded like wind blowing across a field of winter stalks, rattling the husks. Lung cancer has robbed him of the breath to say all that he wants to about the scandal he still struggles to comprehend, and which ended his career as head football coach at Penn State University. The words come like gusts. “I wanted to build up, not break down,” he said.

Crowded around the table were his three voluble sons, Scott, Jay, David, daughter Mary Kay, and his wife of 50 years, Sue, all chattering at once. In the middle of the table a Lazy Susan loaded with trays of cornbread and mashed potatoes spun by, swirling fast as the arguments. “If you go hungry, it’s your own fault,” Paterno likes to say. But Paterno, 85, could not eat. He sipped Pepsi over crushed ice from a cup. Once, it would have been bourbon. His hand showed a tremor, and a wig replaced his once-fine head of black hair.

Paterno’s hope is that time will be his ally when it comes to judging what he built, versus what broke down. “I’m not 31 years old trying to prove something to anybody,” he said. “I know where I am.” This is where he is: wracked by radiation and chemotherapy, in a wheelchair with a broken pelvis, and “shocked and saddened” as he struggles to explain a breakdown of devastating proportions. Jerry Sandusky, his former assistant coach at Penn State from 1969 to 1999, is charged with more than 50 counts of sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period. He maintains his innocence. If Sandusky is guilty, “I’m sick about it,” Paterno said.

NFL Films - Tebow Time: Playoff magic | For Tebow fans, you might like this video from NFL Films regarding the Broncos win over the Steelers.

In typical Tim Tebow fashion, the Broncos win an overtime game against the Steelers in an AFC Wild Card Game.

ESPN - Believing in Tim Tebow | A great article by Rick Reilly.

I've come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde.

No, I've come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.

Who among us is this selfless?

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.
Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat.

Remember last week, when the world was pulling its hair out in the hour after Tebow had stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard OT touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the playoffs? And Twitter was exploding with 9,420 tweets about Tebow per second? When an ESPN poll was naming him the most popular athlete in America?

Tebow was spending that hour talking to 16-year-old Bailey Knaub about her 73 surgeries so far and what TV shows she likes.

This is making its rounds. Jesus > Religion:

HT: The Resurgence
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