Friday, August 31, 2012

The Secular Rage Against Homeschooling

The homeschooling phenomena continues to grow in numbers around the country all the while it continues to frustrate secularist. If there is anything that frustrates a secularist, a family who decides to pull their children out of the state-run public school system is certainly one of them. Oftentimes the objection to homeschooling include reasons like socialization, the credentials of the teacher (the mother), the opportunities offered by public schools (sports, clubs, and other extra-curricula activities), the brainwashing of the parents (namely, religious bigotry), and a host of other reasons.

Yet the real reason secularist are so dead set against homeschooling, and are willing to make it illegal (see Spain), goes much deeper than the reasons given above. Certainly it isn't the quality of education as many of the brightest and best among us where homeschooled. No, the homeschooling family is stereotyped as being ultra-conservative, evangelical, young-earther who hates all things Darwin and secular, and anti "choice" and anti gay marriage. Thus to the secularist, homeschooling families aren't just fringe right-wingers brainwashing their children, they are also a threat to all that a secularist stands for. Homeschooling families, and with them Evangelicals that toe the party line, are a religious and political threat against secular religion and statism.

But with this being America and all, why should the secularist care? If America really is the land of the free, then what reason do the secularist have for putting the homeschooling family on their enemies list? You make what you believe is the best decision for your family and I'll make the best decision for mine, right?

Yet, that's the thing. The following article regards the freedom to decide who and how to educate one's children, however, this is a major problem to the average secularist. Secularism, with its love affair and religious dedication to abortion, aren't having kids. The greatest threat to the spread of secularism is secular values. But secularist understand that since they're not having children, their only hope for spreading secularism in a society is through other people's children. This makes homeschooling a threat to everything they hold dear.

Secularism and statism go hand in hand. Secularism prides itself on moral liberation, but fight every threat to the exercise of parental and religious rights. In the article The Freedom to Homeschool, Matthew Hennessey writes:

Earlier this year in a Slate article subtitled “Why teaching children at home violates progressive values,” journalist Dana Goldstein asked “Does homeschooling serve the interests not just of those who are doing it, but of society as a whole?” Like Reich and West, Goldstein cannot imagine homeschooling that doesn’t resemble involuntary confinement to a Wahhabi madrasah.

The language is offensive to be sure, but it reflects something inherent in secular statism. Freedom prevents uniformity and secularism cannot thrive without it. Freedom, and in this case religious and parental liberty, is a threat to such statism. Homeschooling parents don't care about the interests of the whole society. They care primarily about the interest of their children. They're parents!

The article goes on to say:

The progressive critics of homeschooling are less interested in promoting tolerance than they are in promoting compliance. It’s the freedom that bothers them, not what kids learn or how well they learn it. It’s about who decides. In other words—here as in Spain—it’s about politics. And it won’t be long before some enterprising American politician proposes a set of rules that would effectively deprive my family of its right to homeschool. This will come not as an outright ban on the practice but as an array of guidelines and edicts couched in the most unobjectionable terms—ensuring diversity, promoting responsible citizenship, safeguarding public health.

That first line is particularly brilliant. Critics of homeschooling have never been interested in tolerance (unless it benefits them of course) but compliance. Freedom is the real enemy of secularism. The secular state tells "the common folk" what to do, how to live, what they can and cannot eat, drive, or how to educate their kids. Hennessey suggests its all about politics, and certainly that is true. But deeper than that, we must see that secularism is a religion. Evangelicals see the home as the base of their children's religious, political, and educational upbringing. Its a dad teaching his son how to treat his future wife and how to change a tire. Its a mom teaching her daughter what it means to be a woman and how to treat her future husband. But to the secularist, the home is the arena for backwoods, religious bigotry and brainwashing. Thus the secular answer must be the public school. There the student can be liberated from creationism, traditional values, anti-feminism, and closed-minded religion.

This is a class of worldviews. It is a clash of theologies. It won't be until we see secularism for the religion that it is will we be able to confront it. The article then goes on to warn:

If the state appoints itself to guard against indoctrination by parents, who is to protect children from indoctrination by the state? Critics of homeschooling rarely grapple with this question for the likely reason that they are committed to a value system that is as uniform and intolerant in its own way as they imagine the value systems of American homeschoolers to be.

Forget broccoli. A government that can force you to buy health insurance can surely force children into the public school system. When that happens, will we still be a free country
?

That's the right question. Homeschooling may be the last vestige of American freedom. Take that away and what do you have? Your health? Not anymore. Your wealth? Not anymore. Plato might love the idea of the "philosophers" raising the children of society, but Jefferson is rolling in his grave.


First Things - The Freedom to Homeschool


For more:
Blogizomai - Jumping From the Public School Train: Socialization, Parenting, and the Homeschooling Option
Blogizomai - Rights? What Rights?: The Assualt on Parental Rights in a Secular Society
Blogizomai - The Progresive Dreamworld: Stonestreet on Public Education, LGBT, Bullying, & Human Nature
Blogizomai - The Truth About Textbooks: An Eye-Opening Documentary

Thursday, August 30, 2012

2008: Mitt Romney at GOP Convention

Since tonight is the big speech from the now official Republican nominee Mitt Romney, perhaps it would be helpful to recall his last convention speech, not as a nominee, but as a supporter of then candidate John McCain.




For more:
Blogizomai - 1976: Reagan's Impromptu Speech at RNC
Blogizomai - 2008: Sarah Palin at RNC

Ryrie on the Names of God

A lot has been said regarding the attributes, character, nature, and actions of God, but little to nothing has been said regarding the names of God in Scripture. I would encourage the reader to study not just the attributes, which are more prominent in systematic theologies, but also the names. The name of God is a key theme in Scripture.*

So briefly, I want to highlight a chapter in Charles Ryrie's systematic theology, Basic Theology, where he discusses the various names of God.


Elohim

The term elohim occurs in the general sense of deity about 2,570 times in the Old Testament. About 2,310 times it is a name for the true God. . . .

If this name of God means the Strong One and occurs in a majestic plural, one would expect that it would be used in relation to His greatness and mighty acts.

1. In relation to His sovereignty - Elohim is used to describe Him as the "God of all the earth" (Isa. 54:5), the "God of all flesh" (Jer. 32:27), the "God of heaven" (Neh. 2:4), and the "God of gods and the Lord of lords" (Det 10:17).

2. In relation to His work of Creation. He is the elohim who created all things (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 45:18; Jon. 1:9).

3. In relation to His judging (Pss. 50:6; 58:11)

4. In relation to His mighty works on behalf of Israel (Deut. 5:23; 8:15; Ps. 68:7). (51, 52)


Ryrie then goes on to emphasize the compound of names beginning with El.

El Shaddai - "God Almighty"
El Elyon - "the Most High God"
El Olam - "the Everlastin God"
El Roi - "God who sees"


Yahweh

The name apparently comes from the root hawa, which signifies either existence (as of a tree trunk where it falls, Eccles. 11:3) or development (as in Neh. 6:6). Perhaps both ideas can be combined in the significance of God's name by saying that it denotes Him as the active, self-existent One. . . . 

Several facets seem to be included in teh significance of the name yaweh.

1. It emphasizes God's changeless self-existence. . . . 
2. It assures God's presence with His people. . . .
3. It is connected with God's power to work on behalf of His people and to keep His covenant with them, which was illustrated and confirmed by His work in their deliverance from Egypt. (53, 54)

He then offers a number of compound names:

Yahweh Jireh - "the Lord will Provide"
Yahweh Nissi - "th Lord is My banner"
Yahweh Shalom - "the Lord is Peace"
Yahweh Sabbaoth - "the Lord of hosts"
Yahweh maccaddeshcem - "the Lord who sanctifies you"
Yahweh Roi - "the Lord is my shepherd
Yahweh Tsidkenu - "the Lord our righteousness"
Yahweh Shammah - "the Lord is there"
Yahweh Elohim Israel - "the Lord, the God of Israel"


Adonai

Like Elohim, Adonai is a plural of majesty. the singular means lord, master, owner (Gen. 19:2; 40:1; 1 Sam. 1:15). It is used, as might be expected, of the relationship between men (lik emaster and slave, Exod. 21:1-6). Whe used of God's relationship to men, it conveys the idea of His absolute authority, Joshua recognized the authority of the Captain of the Lord's hosts (Josh. 5:14), and Isaiah submitted to the authority of the Lord, his Master (Isa. 6:8-11). The New Testament equivalent is kurios, "lord." (55)


God (Theos)

The uses of the word reveal a number of important truths about the true God.

1. He is the only one true God . . . 
2. He is unique . . . 
3. He is transcendent . . . 
He is Savior . . . (55)


Lord (Kurios)

The word emphasizes authority and supremacy. it can mean sir (John 4:11), owner (Luke 19:33), or master (Col. 3:22), or it can refer to idols (1 Cor. 8:5) or husbands (1 Pet. 3:6). Whe used of God as kurios, it "expresses particularly His creatorship, His power revealed in history, and His just dominion over the universe . . ." (56)


Master (Despotes)

This word connotes the iddea of ownership, whereas kurios empahsizes authority and supremacy. . . . God is addressed in prayer as Despot by Simeon (Luke 2:29), Peter and those with him (Acts 4:24), and the martyrs in heaven (Rev. 6:10). 

Twice, Christ is called Despot (2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4). (57)


* See Exodus 3:15; 6:3; 9:16; 20:24; 23:21; Numbers 6:27; Deuteronomy 18:19-20; 2 Samuel 7:13; 1 Kings 5:5; 8:16; 8:18-19; Psalm 89:24; 91:14; Isaiah 42:8; 43:7; 48:9; 48:11; 52:6; etc. You get the point.



Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
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Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
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For More on Erickson:
Blogizomai - Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Blogizomai - Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
Blogizomai - On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God 
Blogizomai - Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy
Blogizomai - Condemnation But No Justification: The Purpose of General Revelation
Blogizomai - The Reservoir & Conduit of Divine Truth: Carl FH Henry on Revelation
Blogizomai - Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology 
Blogizomai - Exegetical Theology or Theological Exegesis?: DeYoung on the Both/And
Blogizomai - A New Kind of Christianity . . . Indeed: The Authority Question - Part 2
Blogizoami - Grudem on the Problems With Denying Inerrancy
Blogizomai - Inerrancy and the Early Church
Blogizomai - Divine Simplicity: Theology Proper For Liberals & Calvinists
Blogizomai - The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction
Blogizomai - The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundations
Blogizomai -The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Challenges
Blogizomai - "Their God is Too Small": A Review
Blogizomai - Tozer on Holiness  
Blogizomai - "Knowing God": A Review
Blogizomai - Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head
Blogizomai - "The God Who Loves" by John MacArthur: A Review
Blogizomai - "Godly Jealousy" by Erik Thoennes: A Review


For more on Theology Proper:
Blogizomai - Does God Suffer?: Aquinas on Divine Impassibility
Blogizomai - Repost | Will the Two Become One?: Emergents Turn to Process Theology
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction (Part 1)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundation (Part 2)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Challenges (Part 3)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theological Challenges (Part 4)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Practical Implications (Part 5) 
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theological Applications (Part 6)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theodicy & God's Sovereignty (Part 7)
GBC - Luther, Depression, and the Sovereignty of God  
GBC - MacDonald on the Sovereignty of God 
GBC - Charles Hodge on Sovereignty 
GBC - God's Sovereignty Defined:  AW Pink on God's Sovereignty 
Theology -  Jim Wallis & Open Theology 
Reviews - "Process Theology"
Sermon Podcast - October 10, 2010 - God is Sovereign
Sermon Podcast - April 26, 2010 - The Immutability of God
Blogizomai - God's Many Names?: Emergent Pluralism in the Extreme
Theology - Orthopraxy is Rooted in Orthodoxy - The Postmodern Return to Rome

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 16

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
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After discussing in some detail the doctrine of God's immanence, Dr. Millard Erickson discusses the parallel doctrine of God's transcendence. It is theologically dangerous to defend one without balancing it with the other. We have already discussed the biblical defense of the doctrine (here). The question then becomes, how do we understand it?

 Erickson discusses three models: Karl Barth's Model (340-341), Soren Kierkegaard's Nonspatial Model (341-342), and The Historical Model of the Theology of Hope (342-343). Though all three are worth discussing, the Karl Barth Model is worth discussing here briefly. Erickson begins by noting that the twentieth century placed a special emphasis on God's transcendence in Barth's writing and theology. In Barth's commentary on Romans,* Erickson notes that Barth discuses the Unknown God. God is the altogether other, immensely above the rest of the deities of the world of Paul's day and all the deities that modern thought creates. (340) Erickson goes on:

God is not an aspect of human beings or the best of human nature. He is separated from humanity by an infinite qualitative distinction. There is within humans no spark of affinity with the divine, no ability to produce divine revelation, no remainder in them of a likeness to God. Moreover, God is not involved in nature or conditioned by it. He is free from all such limitations. Nor is he really known by us. He is the hidden one; he cannot be discovered by our effort, verified by our intellectual proofs, or understood in terms of our concepts. -340

Erickson suggests that at the root of Barth's vigorous attack on all forms of natural theology is rooted in his understanding of God's transcendence.

Not surprising, theologians have found Barth's view of transcendence was viewed as extreme. At the same time, Erickson points out that even Barth himself - the later Barth that is - found the views expressed here too far. It is extreme because Taken in its most literal form, it seemed to virtually cut off any real possibility of communication between God and humankind. That is to say that in Barth's extreme view of transcendence, There was too severe a distinction between God and humanity, too sharp a rejection of culture (340).

The reason I find this model most interesting is not because I agree with Barth. I agree with Erickson in his criticism of Barth. Barth is worth noting here for a number of reasons. First, Barth was the greatest theologian of the twentieth century and his influence is immense. Barth's systematic theology, called the Church Dogmatics, is a multi-volume theological powerhouse that has yet to be matched. Yet here we find the great neo-orthodox theologian treading on dangerous ground. Therefore, let us be careful in christening our favorite theologians without allowing them to be critiqued. They are not perfect.

Secondly, Barth seemed to have changed his views here. I take Erickson at his word when he suggests that Barth tamed his view of transcendence later in life. Surveying what Barth has to say on transcendence in his Church Dogmatics might be beyond the purpose of this blog, but Barth does show here a humility to admit that one is wrong and needs to be changed. Our submission is to the Word of God and not to what we wish God has revealed.

Finally, it is important to see that extreme's exist on both sides of this debate regarding immanence and transcendence. Oftentimes the orthodox and the Reformed crowd point out the many abuses of divine immanence - pantheism and panentheism just to name two - without really discussing the abuses of divine transcendence. We must be careful not to picture God as distant. Calvinist can come off as worshipers of a deist-like God - fiery, Sovereign without compassion, holy without love, and justice without mercy.

So let us not pull a Barth here. Let our theology be shaped by Scripture and go where it takes us.


* Erickson uses the German title, Der Romerbrief: Abdrck der neuen Bearbeitung.


For More on Erickson:
Blogizomai - Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Blogizomai - Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
Blogizomai - On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God 
Blogizomai - Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy
Blogizomai - Condemnation But No Justification: The Purpose of General Revelation
Blogizomai - The Reservoir & Conduit of Divine Truth: Carl FH Henry on Revelation
Blogizomai - Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology 
Blogizomai - Exegetical Theology or Theological Exegesis?: DeYoung on the Both/And
Blogizomai - A New Kind of Christianity . . . Indeed: The Authority Question - Part 2
Blogizoami - Grudem on the Problems With Denying Inerrancy
Blogizomai - Inerrancy and the Early Church
Blogizomai - Divine Simplicity: Theology Proper For Liberals & Calvinists
Blogizomai - The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction
Blogizomai - The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundations
Blogizomai -The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Challenges
Blogizomai - "Their God is Too Small": A Review
Blogizomai - Tozer on Holiness  
Blogizomai - "Knowing God": A Review
Blogizomai - Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head
Blogizomai - "The God Who Loves" by John MacArthur: A Review
Blogizomai - "Godly Jealousy" by Erik Thoennes: A Review


For more on Theology Proper:
Blogizomai - Does God Suffer?: Aquinas on Divine Impassibility
Blogizomai - Repost | Will the Two Become One?: Emergents Turn to Process Theology
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction (Part 1)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundation (Part 2)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Challenges (Part 3)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theological Challenges (Part 4)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Practical Implications (Part 5) 
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theological Applications (Part 6)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theodicy & God's Sovereignty (Part 7)
GBC - Luther, Depression, and the Sovereignty of God  
GBC - MacDonald on the Sovereignty of God 
GBC - Charles Hodge on Sovereignty 
GBC - God's Sovereignty Defined:  AW Pink on God's Sovereignty 
Theology -  Jim Wallis & Open Theology 
Reviews - "Process Theology"
Sermon Podcast - October 10, 2010 - God is Sovereign
Sermon Podcast - April 26, 2010 - The Immutability of God
Blogizomai - God's Many Names?: Emergent Pluralism in the Extreme
Theology - Orthopraxy is Rooted in Orthodoxy - The Postmodern Return to Rome

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2008: Sarah Palin at GOP Convention

Later tonight Vice Presidential hopeful Congressman Paul Ryan (WI) will give his speech at the RNC. In anticipation to that speech, I can think of no better vice presidential candidate speech than Sarah Palin's four years ago. Here is her speech.





For more:
Blogizomai -

All Around the Web: Links For Your Wednesday - August 29, 2012

Trevin Wax - A Word to My Calvinist Friends | I concur. We must watch for both pride and tribalism in the New Calvinist movement.

I wish, for the sake of all of us, that you would abandon this divisive rhetoric, not because it’s divisive but because it’s simply untrue. The gospel cannot be reduced to a particular view of soteriology.

Now, to be fair, you consider the doctrines of grace as “the foundation on which the gospel itself is built,” not the message itself. And when you quote Charles Spurgeon’s words equating Calvinism and the gospel (a place where I believe the great Spurgeon got it wrong), you are not saying that those of us who do not subscribe to all the points of Calvinism fail to believe the gospel. Instead, you consider this shorthand for biblical Christianity.

I get what you’re saying. But please consider what it sounds like to those of us who disagree. It sounds like you are making a systematic presentation of theology the gospel. As if the gospel were a set of doctrines, not the announcement of King Jesus. Plus, it smacks of elitism and sends young Calvinists back to their churches, thinking that if their pastors haven’t parsed the petals of TULIP, they aren’t really gospel preachers.

Let’s be very clear. The gospel is the royal announcement that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived a perfect life in our place, died a substitutionary death on the cross for the sins of the world, rose triumphantly from the grave to launch God’s new creation, and is now exalted as King of the world. This announcement calls for a response: repentance (mourning over and turning from our sin, trading our agendas for the kingdom agenda of Jesus Christ) and faith (trusting in Christ alone for salvation).

The gospel is not the ordo salutis. It is not Grudem’s systematic theology. Nor is it the five solas.



Tim Challies - Five Verses on Abortion |

1) God adopts those whom he loves and has predestined to be is& children
2) It is through Jesus Christ that God’s children are adopted
3) God adopts his children so that he might display the glory of his grace
4) God has secured this adoption by his Spirit
5) God will complete this adoption when he renews our bodies, thus making us eager for Christ’s return



Doug Wilson - Homo Republicanus |  This is a good article from Dr. Wilson. His basic argument is worth exploring and it seems so obvious it should embarrass us.

Nothing demonstrates the emptiness of secularism, as hollow a three-gallon jug, lying on its side with the cap off, more than statements like this. My views against theft, murder, and rape are also my religious views. What does that have to do with whether there should be laws concerning such activities? . . . 

Would someone please define "private lives"? What do we mean by it? If marriage is part of my private life, then why did I make my vows in public? Why is my marriage registered at the county courthouse? What do you mean, private? Why would the government be involved in the disposition of a married couple's assets if "all that" was part of their private life? What are you people talking about? If a man married to a man is private, and that is the grounds for accepting it, then why isn't a man married to three women just as private? I say this while granting that Solomon's marital activity could probably be recognized as public under any set of definitions.

R. Clarke Cooper, head of the Log Cabin Republicans, said the "true definition of conservatism" is centered on "individual liberty and not having the government involved in your personal life."
So there it is again. What do you mean by your "personal life"? A house burglar, operating entirely alone, under the cover of darkness, makes off with your family silver. Is this part of his personal life? If you catch him, what would you think if a helpful neighbor told you that he didn't think you should prosecute, and that while he personally was a deeply committed Catholic, his views on theft were his religious views, straight out of the catechism, and that our country was founded on separation of church and state? Would your schizo neighbor even slow you down? Would you even stop to argue with him?

Here is a question for all our friends out there who are muddying up public discourse with their vain appeals to the "separation of church and state." Can a particular activity fall under both religious and civic boundaries? If not, why not? If so, could you please explain how it would be possible then to categorize a view as "religious" and thereby exclude it from any possible consideration as a legal matter? Wouldn't we need more reasons than that it was a religious view?


Owen Strachan - Ravi Zacharias: It’s Not Okay to Practice Homosexuality As a Christian | This is a helpful answer to a difficult, and common, question.




Owen Strachan - Hitchens’ Widow: “He Insisted Ferociously on Living” | Some really good points made here.

Second, an atheist can live with hope if they like.  But it seems a bit odd to do so.  At the very least, if there is no God, no meta-reality and meta-narrative–if the universe is a closed system–then there is surely no rational expectation that one should hope.  You can hope in whatever you like if you are so inclined.  But an atheist fundamentally believes that the universe is a closed system.  There is no ought, as the Marquis De Sade famously noted, in such a world.  There is only is.  Correspondingly, there is no real hope, or even a strong reason to keep existing.  Again, you can live if you like, or not.  It’s yours to decide.

But in our natural state, we have a very difficult time denying the basic realities of the image of God.  We are created.  We are inclined to hope.  God “has put eternity into man’s heart,” and so we quest after it regardless of whether our worldview directs us to do so (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  Though we are fallen according to Genesis 3 and Romans 1, we naturally want to believe that life matters, and we act as if it does.  Many of the most hardened of atheists, including Hitchens, want practically to find hope in the world, want desperately not to die.  That is a profound testimony to the beauty of life–and only God could create such a life.

Hitchens wrote hundreds of thousands of words in defense of his atheism–and here’s the thing: his completely understandable will to live denies them all.  This is not a triumphal realization, but a deeply sorrowful one, and it must move us to pray and engage those who are held together by Jesus Christ yet hate him, even as we once did.


CNN - Bill Nye slams creationism | This is disappointing, but not surprising. Just sad that I watched Bill Nye the Science Guy growing up.

(CNN)–Famed TV scientist Bill Nye is slamming creationism in a new online video for Big Think titled "Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children."

"Denial of evolution is unique to the United States," Nye begins in a YouTube video posted on Thursday.  The video quickly picked up steam over the weekend and as of Monday morning had been viewed more than 1,100,000 times.

Nye a mechanical engineer and television personality best known for his program, "Bill Nye the Science Guy" said the United States has great capital in scientific knowledge and "when you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe in it, it holds everyone back."

"Your world becomes fantastically complicated if you don't believe in evolution," Nye said in the Web video.


RC Sproul - How Should Protestants Relate to Roman Catholics? |

I believe that as individuals, we should reach out to Roman Catholics. We should love our neighbors who are in the Church of Rome. We should befriend them and spend time with them. By doing so, we earn the right to lovingly critique their views.

As churches, we must stand for the biblical gospel—and nothing more. It is our calling to hold high the truth and expose falsehood. To this end, it is essential that we know and understand what Rome is teaching, so distinctions can be made. It is important that the people in the pews be educated about what Protestants believe over against what Roman Catholics teach.

Pastors should preach the gospel and point out ways in which it is twisted by men, including the Roman Catholic Church. I am not saying that every sermon must attack Rome, but given the attraction that Roman Catholicism is exerting on some Protestants, it is essential that its errors be exposed. By faithfully preaching the gospel, pastors will defend the Reformation.


NPR - What Does Mormon Food Culture Say About Mitt Romney? | Really? Really? Mormon food? Really?

As the Republican convention gets under way in Tampa tomorrow, we can expect to hear more about the personal life of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Romney aides, in fact, say that now is the time for him to "publicly embrace" his Mormon faith, a religion that plays a large role in the candidate's life but is misunderstood by many Americans.

If Romney does open up, we might get some insight into an area of particular interest to us here at The Salt — how that faith may shape his eating habits. Whether you like his politics or not, let's face it, the guy is fit. At the very least, it gives us a reason to explore the relationship between food and the Mormon religion.


WORLD Magazine - Filling a Void | Here is WORLD's take on Dinesh D'Souza's movie, 2016 which I have seen and would recommend any voter to go see even if you disagree with the argument and conclusion.

Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary, 2016: Obama’s America, lived up to Entertainment Weekly’s prediction that it would break into the national zeitgeist by coming in at number seven at the box office this past weekend, grossing $6.2 million. While that figure may not sound exactly industry-shattering, when you consider it alongside the number of theaters the film played on, it becomes much more impressive. 

According to film website Box Office Mojo, 2016 earned an average of $5,700 on just over 1,000 screens, trouncing the $4,000-per-screen average of the weekend’s big-budget, star-studded number one film, The Expendables. Its overall earnings of $9.2 million make it one of the most successful documentaries of all-time and the highest-earning conservative documentary in history. The question is, does it deserve all the attention it’s getting? 

To be honest, not really. What we are seeing with 2016, I believe, is a phenomenon that is more attributable to the failure of the mainstream media than the success of D’Souza and fellow producer John Sullivan. Since 2008 the bulk of the nation’s journalists have refused to offer up accurate information about Barack Obama’s background, leaving a significant portion of the American public eager for theories to explain the man, his policies, and from whence they spring.


The Blaze - Report: Biden Preparing to Run in 2016 | This isn't really news. Dick Cheney is among the few vice presidents that didn't at least consider the idea of running. In the past several cycles we've had vice presidents Al Gore, George HW Bush, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, and Hariot Truman. But I promise you this. VP Biden doesn't stand a chance.

Given that there have been repeated talks about Biden being dropped from President Obama’s ticket for being a liability, this kind of ambition from the vice president will no doubt strike some as more than a little silly, given the Vice President’s fondness for gaffes.

However, those gaffes are arguably no excuse to underestimate the vice president. Biden is a veteran campaigner, having run for president several times, and with his Vice Presidential chops, it’s understandable that he might view 2016 as his last, best shot for the presidency. Moreover, with the exception of his widely panned remark that a President Romney would “put y’all back in chains”  and his apparently utterly serious statement that a vote against infrastructure spending is a vote for rape, Biden’s gaffes have generally tended toward the silly rather than the offensive. Such statements would be political thin gruel after voters have had four years to forget them.


The Blaze - What Would Happen If Everyone Jumped at Once  | Everyone knows that the Earth would tilt on its axis. Right?

You may know what happens if everyone on a trampoline jumps at once — and then comes down. You may have even tried having everyone in an elevator jump at the same time. But what would happen if everyone on the entire planet was organized to leap into the air at the exact same moment?

Michael Stevens, who maintains the YouTube Channel VSauce, ponders this very idea in his video, “What If Everyone JUMPED At Once?” It’s a popular question that many want answers to, given that the clip has gotten more than 5.7 million views since being posted less than 10 days ago.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1976: Reagan's Impromptu Speech at RNC

Since the Republicans are having their national convention this week (shortened from four days to three due to the Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac). So as the convention continues, I thought it worthwhile to highlight a few notable and historic RNC speeches of recent decades. The first is from then Governor Ronald Reagan who had just lost the Republican Presidential Primaries to then President Gerald Ford.




For more:
Blogizomai - One More Christmas Post: Reagan's 1981 Address
Reviews - "Ronald Reagan" by Dinesh D'Souza

Watch the GOP Convention Live

The GOP is streaming their 2012 convention on YouTube and you can watch that stream live below. Check back frequently for the main speeches and events.




For more:
Blogizomai - “A Better America Begins Tonight”: The General Campaign Begins
Blogizomai - Remembering Fathers: Obama & Romney Promote Dadhood
Blogizomai - Romney & Obama's Duel on the Economy
Blogizomai - "The last three years have held a lot of change, but they haven’t offered much hope.": Romney's New Hampshire Victory Speech (Video & Text)
Blogizomai - Romney Will Burn In Hell: Bashir, MSNBC, and the Current Climate of Progressive Punditry
Blogizomai - Here We Go: NBC Doing an Hour Long Special on Mormonism Tonight
Blogizomai - "The Mormonizing of America" by Stephen Mansfield: A Review
Blogizomai - The Mormon Faith of Mitt Romney: A Review
Blogizomai - Joseph Smith's Last Minutes: The True Story
Blogizomai - On God, Religion, Politics, and Mormonism: Robert Jeffress on Bill Mahar
Blogizomai - Here We Go Again: Mormonism and Presidential Politics
Blogizomai - An Important Read: Is Mormonism "Having a Moment?"
Blogizomai - An Important Read: Jeffress on Faith, Politics, & Secularism

Blogizomai - Putting Politics on Hold: The Admiral Response of Both Obama & Romney Following Colorado Shooting

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 15

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
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"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 15


A common theme in Millard Erickson's systematic textbook called Christian Theology is that theology matters because theology is practical. Theology is not just an academic exercise. It is primarily a confrontation with the holy one.

So why does the doctrine of God's immanence matter? What are some of its implications? Erickson mentions five.

1. God is not limited to working directly to accomplish his purposes. While it is very obviously a work of God when his people pray and a miraculous healing occurs, it is also God's work when through the application of medical knowledge and skill a physician is successful in bring a patient back to health. Medicine is part of God's general revelation and the work of the doctor is a channel of God's activity. . . . 

2. God may use persons and organizations that are not avowedly Christian. In biblical times, God did not limit himself to working through the covenant nation of Israel or through the church. He even used Assyria, a pagan nation, to bring chastening upon Israel. He is able to use secular or nominally Christian organizations. Even non-Christians do some genuinely good and commendable things, which contribute to God's purposes in the world, even if they do not qualify for salvation the people who do them. Thus, when no compromise of biblical truth is involved, the Christian and the church may at times cooperate with non-Christian organizations to accomplish part of God's plan.

3.  We should have an appreciation for all that God has created. Nature is not something that is there as a brute fact, something hat may be plundered for our purposes. It is God's, and he is present and active within it. While nature is given to humans to satisfy their legitimate needs, they ought not to exploit it for their own pleasure or out of greed. The doctrine of divine immanence therefore has ecological application. It also has implications regarding our attitudes to fellow humans. God is genuinely present within everyone (although not in the special sense in which he indwells Christians). Therefore, people are not to be despised or treated disrespectfully.  A way to show our love for god is to treat lovingly the various members of the creation within which he dwells and works. Jesus' teaching in the great eschatological discourse of Matthew 25 particularly applies here.

4.  We can learn something about God from his creation. All that is has been brought into being by God and, further, is actively indwelt by him. We may therefore detect clues about what God is like by observing the behavior of the created universe. . . . 

5.  God's immanence means that there are points at which the gospel can make contact with the unbeliever. If God is to some extent present and active within the whole of the created world, he is present and active within humans who have not made a personal commitment of their lives to him. Thus, there are points at which they will be sensitive to the truth of the gospel message, places where they are in touch with God's working. Evangelism aims to find those points and direct the message to them. -337-338


For More on Erickson:
Blogizomai - Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Blogizomai - Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
Blogizomai - On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God 
Blogizomai - Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy
Blogizomai - Condemnation But No Justification: The Purpose of General Revelation
Blogizomai - The Reservoir & Conduit of Divine Truth: Carl FH Henry on Revelation
Blogizomai - Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology 
Blogizomai - Exegetical Theology or Theological Exegesis?: DeYoung on the Both/And
Blogizomai - A New Kind of Christianity . . . Indeed: The Authority Question - Part 2
Blogizoami - Grudem on the Problems With Denying Inerrancy
Blogizomai - Inerrancy and the Early Church
Blogizomai - Divine Simplicity: Theology Proper For Liberals & Calvinists
Blogizomai - The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction
Blogizomai - The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundations
Blogizomai -The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Challenges
Blogizomai - "Their God is Too Small": A Review
Blogizomai - Tozer on Holiness  
Blogizomai - "Knowing God": A Review
Blogizomai - Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head
Blogizomai - "The God Who Loves" by John MacArthur: A Review
Blogizomai - "Godly Jealousy" by Erik Thoennes: A Review


For more on Theology Proper:
Blogizomai - Does God Suffer?: Aquinas on Divine Impassibility
Blogizomai - Repost | Will the Two Become One?: Emergents Turn to Process Theology
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction (Part 1)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundation (Part 2)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Challenges (Part 3)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theological Challenges (Part 4)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Practical Implications (Part 5) 
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theological Applications (Part 6)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theodicy & God's Sovereignty (Part 7)
GBC - Luther, Depression, and the Sovereignty of God  
GBC - MacDonald on the Sovereignty of God 
GBC - Charles Hodge on Sovereignty 
GBC - God's Sovereignty Defined:  AW Pink on God's Sovereignty 
Theology -  Jim Wallis & Open Theology 
Reviews - "Process Theology"
Sermon Podcast - October 10, 2010 - God is Sovereign
Sermon Podcast - April 26, 2010 - The Immutability of God
Blogizomai - God's Many Names?: Emergent Pluralism in the Extreme
Theology - Orthopraxy is Rooted in Orthodoxy - The Postmodern Return to Rome

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible" by Grudem, Collins, & Schreiner: A Review

The Bible is a really big book.  As a minister I have seen countless faces of new (and even seasoned) believers who desire to know more about the Bible, but the sheer size, the strange language, and the foreign cultures appear to be too much for them. Fortunately, there are a lot of great resources out there for them. One helpful book is Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible: A Guide to Reading the Bible Well, edited by Drs. Wayne Grudem, C. John Collins, and Thomas R. Schreiner. Your not going to find a greater ensemble of scholars than this.

This short book (160 pages) covers the basics of the Bible from the Pentateuch to the Apocalypse of John. Its first chapter looks at the storyline of the Bible. From there, the editors have some of the world's greatest scholars (like Darrell Bock, David Chapman, and others) summarize the story, the content, and some of the historical critisms of each portion of Scripture - the Penteteuch, the Historical Writings, the Wisdom writings, the Prophetic books, etc.

One of the most helpful sections for me was the discussion on the intertestimental books. Though portions of these three chapters overlap, it sets the context for understanding the New Testament. It explains where groups like the Pharisees and Essenes come from. This period of history is rarely discussed in churches and the editors are providing their readers with some real helpful information here.

Overall, this is a pretty helpful book.  The charts and timelines at the end are worth the investment themselves. The scholars are not unwilling to deal with some of the Bible's difficulties, but do not get bogged down dealing with them in this introductory book. Even seminary students can benefit from it as it serves as a great, easy source to turn to when preparing sermons, papers, lectures, etc.

Resources like this are a great help especially to those who are new to Scripture and might be intimated by the Good Book's size. Give this book a try.


This book was given to me free of charge for the purpose of this review.


For more:
Reviews - "What is the Mission of the Church?" by Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert 
Reviews - "God's Grand Design" by Sean Michael Lucas
Reviews - "Jesus + Nothing = Everything" by Tullian Tchividjian
Reviews - "Life's Biggest Questions" by Erik Thoennes
Reviews - "Welcome to the Story: Reading, Loving, and Living God's Word" by Stephen J Nichols  
Reviews - "King Solomon" by Philip Graham Ryken 
Reviews - "Am I Really a Christian?" by Mike McKinley
Reviews - The Beginning and End of Wisdom" by Douglas Sean O'Donnell
Reviews - "Thinking. Loving. Doing." by John Piper & David Mathis

All Around the Web: Links For Your Monday - August 27, 2012



HT: Yahoo! News


WORLD Magazine - First man on the moon dies

CINCINNATI (AP)—Neil Armstrong was a quiet self-described nerdy engineer who became a global hero when as a steely-nerved pilot he made “one giant leap for mankind” with a small step on to the moon. The modest man who had people on Earth entranced and awed from almost a quarter million miles away has died. He was 82.

Armstrong died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures, a statement Saturday from his family said. It didn’t say where he died.

Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969, capping the most daring of the 20th century’s scientific expeditions. His first words after setting foot on the surface are etched in history books and the memories of those who heard them in a live broadcast.

“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong said.


Justin Taylor - Christianity and Islam | These are 3 helpful videos from Michael Horton.



Christian Science Monitor - Childcare cost: Day care expense rivals college cost, fuels social problems |

Forget saving for college. These days, parents – and parents-to-be – should be stashing away funds for day care.

According to a new study from ChildCare Aware of America, a childcare research and advocacy group, center-based care for an infant costs more, on average, than in-state tuition at a four-year public college. The price tag ranged from about $4,600 in Mississippi to $15,000 in Massachusetts, and was more than annual median rent payments in 22 states. In some of the more expensive states the cost of day care for infants equals about half of the median income for single moms. 

And those numbers drop only slightly for children four and older.


Credo Magazine - D. A. Carson on Biblicism |



Portland Press - Grandma, baby, doing fine after nine-month 'rental' | This has immense moral and ethical implications.

Madden Hebert is a typical week-old baby -- "eating like a champ and he doesn't fuss too much," according to his mother.

But there's nothing typical about how he came about.

Last week, Madden's grandmother gave birth to him.

"It was all pretty simple as far as I was concerned," said Linda Sirois, 49, of Madawaska, who carried and delivered Madden because her daughter, Angel Hebert, had a heart condition that meant it would be unsafe for her to get pregnant.

Sirois said she has let her daughter know for years that she would become a surrogate mother for her if a doctor suggested that she not become pregnant.

Hebert, 25, of Presque Isle, said she and husband Brian Hebert, 29, got that word last summer.

"It was pretty disappointing and we were pretty upset about it," Hebert said. "But we kind of had an idea that it was a possibility and, all along, my mother was saying, 'I'm here and I can carry for you.' I guess we didn't really take her seriously."


Daily Mail - Low blows, lower turnouts and low expectations: Four years after he was swept to victory, how Obama's election campaign is a joyless slog |

Barack Obama was swept to the White House in 2008 by a wave of idealism and inspirational campaigning in which he encapsulated the mood of the nation with his slogans of ‘Hope’, ‘Change’ and ‘Yes we can’.

Then, his message was a fundamentally positive one. Americans wanted an end to the Bush era but that almost went without saying. Obama pointed to his own vision of the country; a post-partisan, post-racial America in which gridlock in Washington was ended and common-sense centrist solutions were adopted.

What a difference four years makes. Obama is campaigning ferociously for a second term – and he is a candidate who would have probably have been disdained by the Obama of 2008.

Obama is waging a relentlessly negative campaign of changing the subject from the one that, overwhelmingly, most Americans care about – the economy. Every week there is a new issue his campaign seizes on, preferring to talk about something, anything other than jobs and 8.3 per cent unemployment
.


Real Clear Politics - Mitt And Ann Romney on "FOX News Sunday" |



Sunday, August 26, 2012

"A Bloody Shame" by Hershael York: A Sermon

Here is a good example on how to preach a difficult text.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Must Christianity Change or Die?: The Mohler-Spong Debate


Must Christianity Change Or Die - Lee Strobel - Faith Under Fire from lumel on GodTube.

All Around the Web: Links For Your Saturday - August 25, 2012



What's wrong with this picture? (The President is in Ohio)


HT: The Blaze


Thom Rainer - Ten Questions to Diagnose the Evangelistic Health of Your Church |

1. Are members more concerned about the lost than their own preferences and comfort?
2. Is the church led to pray for lost persons?
3. Are the members of the church open to reaching people who don’t look or act like them?
4. Do conflicts and critics zap the evangelistic energy of the church?
5. Do small groups and Sunday school classes seek to reach lost persons within their groups?
6. Is the leadership of the church evangelistic?
7. Do the sermons regularly communicate the gospel?
8. Are there ministries in the church that encourage members to be involved in evangelistic outreach and lifestyle?
9. Have programs become ends in themselves rather than means to reach people?
10. Is there any process of accountability for members to be more evangelistic?



Real Clear Politics - ABC "World News" Does Four Minute Segment on Mormon Church |




The Blaze - Pastor Rick Warren Cancels Obama-Romney ‘Civil Forum’ Because Candidates Are Too Uncivil | This was the event I looked forward to the most.

WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — Pastor Rick Warren says he’s canceled plans for a “civil forum” featuring the presidential candidates because their campaign is so uncivil.

Neither the Obama campaign nor the Romney campaign says their candidate had committed to appearing at the forum at Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., near Los Angeles. However Warren said that both candidates had indicated they were interested and the church had started traffic and security planning. The forum had been planned for this week.

In an interview published Wednesday by the Orange County Register, Warren said the forum’s goal was to promote civility and personal respect between people with major differences. He said that‘s not been the climate of the presidential campaign and that he doesn’t expect that to change.


CNN Belief Blog - A Look Into Romney's Religion |




Venture Beat - The Internet 2002-2012: What a difference a decade makes | The internet has increased the pace of change unlike anything else in history.

A decade — 10 years. Doesn’t sound like much, right?

But a decade ago, the big social networking story was Friendster with a whopping 3 million users. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer had 95 percent market share. And less than 600 million people were online globally … fewer than Facebook users alone in 2012.

10 years, 3,652 days, 87,648 hours.

A lot has changed since Apple was touting a new 700 MHz iBook and iPhoto 1.1. Blockbuster went from $5.5 billion in revenue to a big bloody hole in the ground, and Yahoo went from Internet behemoth to will-Marissa-Mayer-be-able-save-it.


Real Clear Politics - Obama In '03: Voted No On Banning Late Term Abortions | I think we already knew this, but apparently this is news. Let us not forget that the President voted for infanticide while a state senator.




Huffington Post - Electoral College Prediction Model Points To A Mitt Romney Win In 2012 | This is interesting. The professors claim to have been extremely accurate in the past and thus expect to be accurate here. They are predicting a major landslide for Mitt Romney in November. I do believe that Romney will win handily, but this might be too much.

"Based on our forecasting model, it becomes clear that the president is in electoral trouble," Bickers said in a press statement.

To predict the race's outcome, the model uses economic indicators from all 50 states and it shows 320 electoral votes for Romney and 218 for Obama, according to The Associated Press. The model also suggests that Romney will win every state currently considered a swing state which includes Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Colorado.

The professors' model shows a very different picture than what current data suggests. Currently, The Huffington Post's Election Dashboard shows Obama with 257 electoral votes to Romney's 191 with only six "tossup" states including: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.


Guardian - Republican landslide in Amazon book vote | This is really that important, but it is a bit revealing. At the least, it shows the advantage the Republicans have in this base election.




A map created by Amazon tracking the bestselling political books in the US state by state shows that conservative titles are outselling liberal books virtually everywhere – suggesting that if Americans' voting choices are linked to their book-buying habits, the Democrats are in for a tough ride this November.

Amazon.com's election heat map, which is updated daily, lays out readers' book preferences in every state, colouring a state blue or red depending on if it has higher liberal or conservative book sales. At present, across the whole country, 56% of purchases are "red" books – titles such as Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream, Fool Me Twice: Obama's Shocking Plans for the Next Four Years Exposed and Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan favourite Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Just 44% are "blue" books, titles which include Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States and The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future.