Saturday, June 30, 2012

All Around the Web: Links For Your Weekend - June 30, 2012

Collin Hansen - Is Most of Reformed Deformed | In light of Ed Young Jr's recent, ridiculous, uninformed rant against Cavlinism, Hansen's article is well worth your read. I think the quote I came across on Twitter (I think from Dr. Daniel Akin - one of those evil Calvinists) is right: we will fight. We will either fight the real enemy in the trenches, or against ourselves in the pews. We're doing the latter right now.

I don't know what has incited the latest incriminations against Calvinists. We're mostly hearing rehashed arguments already thoroughly refuted. Calvinism isn't the "traditional Southern Baptist" view on soteriology. Calvinists are angry bloggers living in our parents' basements who box up God and don't evangelize. Even some prominent Calvinists argue the latter, so we're certainly not surprised by such criticism. Yet it's still a little surprising to learn we're intellectual snobs killing the church by building wells, preaching a social gospel, and preying upon young believers around the world by fostering skinny-jeans laziness because we don't care about people going to hell. Responding to such ugliness with more ugliness would only please Satan and embolden our critics.

I wonder, though, if these recent attacks reflect an underlying insecurity about our standing as Christians in the world, especially in America. By nearly every numeric metric you care to cite, the church is treading water or even falling behind. For a long time we Americans looked at Europe and thanked God for our relative position of strength and influence. For a long time we evangelicals looked at the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant mainline and thanked God for our relative vibrancy, largely gained by poaching their ranks. But we're under no such illusions today. Much of the recent criticism of Calvinism comes from within the Southern Baptist Convention, America's largest Protestant denomination and a rare 20th-century success story for reversing the devastating effects of theological liberalism. Problem is, according to Lifeway Research president Ed Stetzer, "membership in the SBC is now on a multi-year decline. Our 'growth' trend is now negative and our membership is decreasing." Baptisms have decreased 20 percent since 1999. More than a decade of passionate calls to reverse this worrisome trend with a renewed commitment to evangelism has not been able to stop the slump.

When things go bad, we look for someone to blame. The rise of Calvinism among evangelicals happens to correspond to this decade-plus of decline. Might correlation actually be causation? Would the church be in better shape if everyone agreed that God "endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God's gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the gospel"? As a Calvinist, I say no, but then I disagree that you must affirm this statement in order to find motivation to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and see more than a handful of hell-bound sinners transformed by grace.

So how does a Calvinist diagnose our problem? Why are so many of our churches small and dying? Why do we baptize so few new believers? Why don't we have more large churches welcoming thousands of new members? Why does so much of our supposed growth come from church transfers? More importantly, what's our solution.

Dick Morris - Obama’s “Victory” Will Defeat Him – Dick Morris TV: Lunch Alert! | I agree with Morris here that President Obama has won the battle but will lose the war.

Tim Challies - The Message of the Bible | Quoting DA Carson:

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17)

CNN Belief Blog - Sandusky’s pastor addresses conviction from pulpit | Keep this church in your prayers. I know nothing about it, but pray that in the midst of this, the gospel will go forth.

Ed Zeiders, the senior pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, did not shy away from addressing the conviction of his congregant and friend on child sex abuse charges, asking his congregation to “pray for all of those who are victims and for all of those who are predators.”
Zeiders began his sermon with a question.

“In light of the misery, sorrow and suffering we see, affecting every aspect of our life, within us, in the midst of us, and around us – what are we to do,” he asked. “The world needs an answer, our community deserves an answer, and we need to answer together what is the most efficacious way to move forward from here.”

Saying that the eyes of the nation are fixed on the State College community and, to some degree, on the community of St Paul’s, Zeiders said that “in the midst of the raging storms around us” the church had an opportunity.

“If ever a local congregation has been given a moment to…..reveal what it means to be Christian,” Zeiders said, “this is that congregation in this moment in history.”

Zeiders spoke to what he said was the transformative power and saving grace of God, making a connection between faith and ethical behavior. “If we are to claim Jesus as savior,” he said, “we must, without fail, come face-to-face with our own morality.”

Ligonier Ministries - What Does “Simul Justus et Peccator” Mean? | This is helpful from RC Sproul.

Pyromaniacs - Feelings, Dreams and Supernatural Thoughts

The only feeling I ever want to have is just this,—I want to feel that I am a sinner and that Christ is my Saviour. You may keep your visions, and ecstasies and raptures, and dancings to yourselves; the only feeling that I desire to have is deep repentance and humble faith; and if, poor sinner, you have got that, you are saved.

Why, some of you believe that before you can be saved there must be a kind of electric-shock, some very wonderful thing that is to go all through you from head to foot. . . .

What do ye want with all this nonsense of dreams and supernatural thoughts? All that is wanted is, that as a guilty sinner I should come and cast myself on Christ. That done, the soul is safe, and all the visions in the universe could not make it safer

Evolution News and Reviews - Peer-Reviewed Paper Concludes that Darwinism "Has Pretty Much Reached the End of Its Rope" | The article is really technical in parts, but the fact that a Darwinist would suggest that Darwinism is at the end of its rope is significant. This is the equivalent of a Christian confessing that Christ didn't really rise from the dead. After all, Darwinism is equally religious.

Notably, the paper's authors seem to share the view of the genome that ID proponents have been advocating for years: "There is probably very little 'junk DNA.' The entire genome, including its frequent repeats, plays a role in regulating gene expression." In support of this, they cite a 2011 paper by Pink et al. ("Pseudogenes: Pseudo-functional or key regulators in health and disease?").

Contrary to the Darwin lobby's oft-repeated assertion that there are absolutely no weaknesses in Darwinian theory, the paper offers the concession that the modern synthesis has never provided an account of "how major forms of life evolved" -- an omission that is not unsubstantial, to put it mildly.

In spite of all this, the authors are nonetheless confident that a new general theory and conceptual framework of evolution will be forthcoming, and that this will make up for where current formulations of evolution fail. But this is mere speculation.

The Darwin lobby will doubtless continue to make their routine assertion that no credible scientist sees any substantial problems with modern evolutionary theory. Such a position is, however, becoming increasingly difficult to maintain.

The Hill - Romney raises $4.2M after health ruling | I still think, and here is just one reason why, Romney wins convincingly in November.

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has raised $4.2 million since the Supreme Court ruled President Obama's healthcare law is constitutional.

Romney started raising funds immediately after the decision, and in a post on Twitter his campaign spokeswoman said he had raised $4.2 million from 42,000 donations.

Gospel Coalition - 7 Steps to Avoid Sexual Sin and Stay in Ministry |

1. Don't say it can't happen to you. 
2. Repent of your pride and self-righteousness. 
3. Put all the needed safeguards in place--and keep them there. 
4. Don't just have a plurality of elders in place--have one in practice. 
5. Make your wife your partner in purity. 
6. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. 
7. Never forget that we are in a spiritual battle with real winners and losers.

The RNC has already got an ad out about repealing Obamacare. That didn't take long. The November election on all levels will now be dominated by the economy, the debt, and health care.

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