Friday, November 30, 2012

Counterintuitive Calvinism: Tim Keller on Calvin's Institutes

Pastor and author Timothy Keller has spent the past year methodically reading through John Calvin's Institutes. While other authors have spent their year pretending to be the stereotypical "biblical woman," Keller has instead studied from one of the greatest minds in church history. Love him or hate him, Calvin was a theological genius and his Institutes remained beloved by many, read by many, and central to the theology of many believers.

In a recent article published by The Gospel Coalition entitled The Counterintuitive Calvin, Keller offers a few thoughts in reflection of what he learned about theology, Calvin, and God. Here are just a few highlights I thought that were worth noting. First, we begin with Calvin's treatment of grace:

Third, the Institutes are, I think, the greatest, deepest, and most extensive treatment of the grace of God I have ever read. I was struck by how many times Calvin tells us that the foundation of real Christian faith is both grasping with the mind and sensing on the heart the gracious, unconditional love of God for us in Jesus Christ. Over and over again he teaches that you are not truly converted by merely understanding doctrine, but by grasping God's love so that the inner structure and motivation of the heart are changed.

So in Institutes I.3.1 he argues that, while you may know a lot about God you don't truly know God until "reverence [is] joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces. . . . Unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him." In other words, you don't have true saving knowledge of God until you long to obey him, out of a desire to please and delight him because you are pleased and delighted with him for his grace. Calvin adds that in a Christian soul "this restrains itself from sinning, not out of dread of punishment alone; but because it loves and reveres God as Father. . . . Even if there were no hell, it would still shudder at offending him." (I.3.2 )

When Calvin comes to his three chapters on what it means to live a Christian life (III.6-7), again grace is at the forefront. He taught that the briefest statement of the Christian life is this---"You are not your own; you were bought with a price." (1 Cor. 6:19-20) Because you were saved by sheer grace ("you were bought with a price"), now your new principle of life is "you are not your own." You no longer live for yourself, but for God and for your neighbor. All of the Christian life is the working out of that verse, that grace, and that new principle of joyful self-donation.

When Calvin applies this principle of gracious self-donation to our relationships with other people, he argues that we should treat even those who deserve nothing but disdain as if they were the Lord himself.

Say [about the stranger before you] that you owe nothing for any service of his; but God, as it were, has put him in his own place in order that you may recognize toward him the many and great benefits which God has bound you to himself. . . . You will say, "He has deserved something far different from me." Yet what has the Lord deserved? . . . Remember not to consider men's evil intention but to look upon the image of God in them, which cancels and effaces their transgressions, and with its beauty and dignity allures us to love and embrace them." (III.7.6)

Regarding the doctrine of predestination, which Calvin is more notorious known for rather unfortunately, Keller writes:

When Calvin comes to his well-known doctrine of predestination, it is important to see where he places it. He does not deal with the doctrine under Book 1 where he treats God, or even Book 2 where he addresses sin and Christ. He waits until Book 3, which is about "How We Receive the Grace of Christ" through the Holy Spirit. Calvin insists that the opposite of the doctrine of predestination is not the idea of free will but the teaching that we are saved by our good works. He argues forcefully that, unless you see your saving faith is a gift from God to you, not from you to him---you have not yet grasped how free his grace is. You will ever so slightly believe that you are a Christian because you were more humble, open, and repentant than those who have not believed. But, Calvin reasoned, if you see your salvation is 100 percent by grace you will embrace and be both humbled and comforted by the truth of predestination.

Read the whole thing here.

A couple of thoughts in response. First, Keller is reminding us why it is best not to buy into stereotypes and caricature's of such influential men like Martin Luther and John Calvin. What we term "Calvinism" today (usually meaning the Five Points of Calvinism - T.U.L.I.P.) does not adequately summarize Calvin's theology. Keller, in a brief format, breaks down some of these stereotypes. Calvin comes down through history, mostly because of this wrong-headed stereotypes, as dull, boring, studious, unloving, and stubborn. But Calvin was a pastor, a husband, a writer, and a man who lived a full life of ministry. Calvin's theology shaped his life and thus to read Calvin - whether his commentaries, his Institutes, his other books or letters - is to read a man who genuinely loves Jesus.

Furthermore, I appreciate Keller's heavy emphasis on grace. It dominates his article. It dominates Calvin's theology and I pray that it will dominate Christian theology going forward. Grace is amazing when properly understood.

Finally, I want to recommend a few resources on Calvin (and I am no expert) that may be well worth your time.

Books:
"Letters To a Young Calvinist" by James Smith: A Review
"Kuyper For Piper" - An Interview With Dr. James K. A. Smith
"John Calvin:  A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology"

"The Theology of the Reformers" by Timothy George

Articles
Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man

All Around the Web: Links For Your Friday - November 30, 2012

Dr. Russell Moore - The Church & Violence Against Women |

An abusive man is not an over-enthusiastic complementarian. He is not a complementarian at all. He is a pathetic aping perversion of Adamic leadership. He rejects male headship because he rejects his role as provider and protector. As the culture grows more violent, more consumerist, more sexualized and more misogynistic, the answer is not a church more attenuated to the ambient culture, whether through a hyper-masculine paganism or through a gender-neutral feminism.

Instead, the answer is a truly counter-cultural church, a church that calls men to account for leadership, a leadership that cherishes and protects women and girls
.


National Review (Wesley Smith) - AI Might Emulate the Brain But Never the Mind |

I don’t understand the appeal of artificial intelligence, whereby somehow we would construct and program a computer to become an independent “thinker” by becoming self-programming. One doesn’t have to worry about an apocalypse out of The Terminator movies to recognize the peril.

But my real concern with the AI agenda involves the anti humanism that underlies so much of the philosophical thinking within the field. When transhumanists insist that AI machines should be considered “persons,” entitled to “rights,” they both undermine the vitality of what that term represents and reduce the uniqueness of man.  When they claim that the human brain is just so much computer programming–supposedly with no “programmer”–they reduce us to mere function and undercut human exceptionalism.


Bloomberg - Japanese Stocks? Yes, They Really Think So | Welcome to the side affect of secularism.

Two lost decades and massive property- and stock-bubble explosions later, Japan is a one-word cautionary tale. Caught in economic and demographic atrophy—and stewarded by countless false-start prime ministers—the country has become a hub for zombie banks, a generation of disenchanted youth, and fading brands such as Sony (SNE), Sharp (6753:JP), and Panasonic (PC).

Last year, for the first time, sales of adult diapers in Japan exceeded those for babies. Factor in how the strong yen has been making the country’s critical exports more expensive, and you can see why the world’s No. 3 economy (recently pushed into third place by China) has been quicksand for investors; when international markets hit bottom in early 2009, Japan’s Nikkei slumped to levels it hadn’t seen since 1983. A Merrill Lynch survey of global fund managers discovered that their net exposure to Japan is at its lowest in a decade (subscription necessary)
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The Right Scoop - Afterburner with Bill Whittle: The Gods of Wisdom and Virtue |




The Blaze - World Bank: ‘We Will Never End Poverty If We Don’t Tackle Climate Change’ |

All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but it is the world’s poorest countries that will be hit hardest by food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank said in a report on climate change.

Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development.

We will never end poverty if we don’t tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today,” Kim told reporters on a conference call on Friday.

The report, called “Turn Down the Heat,” highlights the devastating impact of a world hotter by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, a likely scenario under current policies, according to the report.  [Emphasis added]




Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 1

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
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 7
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 8  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 9
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 10

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 3 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 16
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 17
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 18
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 19
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 20

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 16

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 1


We turn now to the doctrine of humanity; Anthropology in theological terms. Dr. Millard Erickson dedicates roughly 80 pages to the subject in his textbook Christian Theology. And like Theology Proper (the doctrine of God; see the links above) this is key to our understanding of theology. I have found in my own studies, ministry, and interactions that oftentimes bad theology comes down to a confusion of Theology Proper and Anthropology. I would even go as far as to simply that statement by saying that most today have a low view of God and a high view of man/self and that basic theological assumption is the basis for so much of what is wrong in our churches, in our lives, and in our society.

With that said, Dr. Erickson begins his first chapter, a chapter introducing the reading to the doctrine of anthropology, by laying out why the subject is to important.

1. This doctrine is important because of its relationship to other major Christian doctrines. (481)

  • Regarding creation: Since the human is the highest of God's earthly creatures, the study of humanity brings to completion our understanding of God's work and, in a sense, of God himself, since we do learn something about the Creator by seeing what he has created. (481)
  • Regarding Christ: . . . the Bible teaches that the Second Person of the Trinity took on human nature. That fact means that to understand the nature of Christ, it is necessary to understand the nature of humanity. (481)
  • Other doctrines: If God had not created humans, there would presumably have been no incarnation, no atonement, no need for regeneration and justification. There would have been no church. (481)
The doctrine of humanity has an unusual status. here the studen of theology is also its object. (481)


2. Anthropology is a point where the biblical revelation and human concerns converge. Theology is here treating an object that everyone . . . admits exists. . . . [Humans] have little or no question about their own reality, for this is an existential fact with which they live day by day.  (481-482)
  • This means that the subject of humanity is a starting point for dialogue. (482)
  • Regarding preaching: This suggests that our preaching might well begin with some common aspect of human experience. In particular, the introduction might focus on an issue that is uppermost in the mind of the listener. If the sermon begins with a five-minute explanation of the cultural situation in first-century Philippi or an elucidation of the significance of the breast plate of the high priest in the Book of Exodus, there might be station changes throughout the audience. (483)

3. Anthropology is particularly significant in our day because of the large amount of attention given to humanity by the various intellectual disciplines. The number of disciplines that make human nature or human behavior the primary object of their attention continues to grow at a rapid pace. (483)


4. Anthropology is important because of the present crisis in human self-understanding. Not only is there a great interest in the question "What is the human?" There is also great confusion regarding the answer, for various recent events and developments cast doubt on many of the answers formally given to the question. (484)
  • Young people continue to struggle to discover who they are. . . . [M]any parents do not really instill values in their children, or advocate values they themselves do not manifest in their lifestyles. The traditional sources of values, the church, the university, the state, have become suspect. (484)
  • There has also been a loss of historical roots. (485)

5. Anthropology affects how we minister. Our concept of human beings and their destiny will greatly affect how we deal with them and what we seek to do for them. (485)
  • If we think of humans as primarily physical beings, then the most important consideration and perhaps virtually the only one, will be the satisfaction of physical drives in the most effective fashion. (485)
  • If we think of humans as primarily rational beings, then our ministry will appeal chiefly to their intellects. (485)
Overall, this is a helpful list and Erickson offers a lot that I had not considered in much detail. But I would like to add to, or perhaps broaden, the fifth point. Our understanding of humanity and sin (I will simply lump the two together here) affects how we minister (as Erickson suggests here), how we parent, how we vote, how we live, and what values we hold to. Just a few examples:
  • The doctor who counsels aborting a "fetus" (note the anthropological language) because it has been diagnosed with Trisomy 13 or Down Syndrome is reflecting his anthropology. The couple that tells that doctor, "no" is reflecting theirs.
  • The parents who coddles their children smothering them with affection even when they act out or are disobedient reveal a high view of human nature. 
  • A children's program that emphasizes the self - self-identity, there-is-no-one-like-you, etc. (common on most, if not all, children's programs today) tells us something about society's view of humanity.
  • One's political views reveal a lot. Ethical, legal, and political questions of the death penalty, the reach of the state, religious liberty, the freedom of speech, the definition of life, political correctness, war, justice, punishment, entitlements, etc. Whether your a conservative or a liberal; a Democrat or a Republican; a socialist or a libertarian, your a theologian that has made some important decisions about anthropology.
  • Justice. Should criminals be punished or rehabilitated? Should the "pay for the crime" or be reeducated?
This is all to say that this doctrine is crucial to all of us, our families, our churches, and our society. We dare not take it lightly.


For More on Erickson:
Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God 
Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy
Condemnation But No Justification: The Purpose of General Revelation
The Reservoir & Conduit of Divine Truth: Carl FH Henry on Revelation
Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology 
Exegetical Theology or Theological Exegesis?: DeYoung on the Both/And
A New Kind of Christianity . . . Indeed: The Authority Question - Part 2
Grudem on the Problems With Denying Inerrancy
Inerrancy and the Early Church
Divine Simplicity: Theology Proper For Liberals & Calvinists
The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction
The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundations
The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Challenges
"Their God is Too Small": A Review
Tozer on Holiness  
"Knowing God": A Review
Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head
"The God Who Loves" by John MacArthur: A Review
"Godly Jealousy" by Erik Thoennes: A Review
Ryrie on the Names of God
"The Sovereignty of God" by A. W. Pink: A Review
DeYong on the Trinity
Does God Suffer?: Aquinas on Divine Impassibility
All Aspects of Our Lives Are Preordained: Grudem on Providence & God's Plan
If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?: A Few Voices From the Past & Present - Part 1
If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?: A Few Voices From the Past & Present - Part 2
"Lofty" by Propaganda, Beautiful Euology & Joel
Some Things Never Change: Why Evolution Is Contrary to the Gospel
Calvin on Providence
Providence and Prayer: Carson's Response 
Does the Calvinistic Doctrine of God's Providence Make God Responsible For Sin?: Grudem's Answer
"When Bad Things Happen To Good People" by Harold Kushner: A Review
"God Forsaken" by Dinesh D'Souza: A Review
Grudem on Who Were the Sons of God


For more on Anthropology:
The Transcendence of Greed:  What Economics Can Teach Us About the Gospel  
"A Conflict of Visions" by Thomas Sowell
Some Things Never Change: Why Evolution Is Contrary to the Gospel
When Theology Meets Political Ideology: Bill Whittle & Anthropology
The Danger of the New Monism: Fidelity to Science, Infidelity to the Gospel - Complete Series
Lewis on the Why of Democracy
John Stott on the The Human Enigma
"Its a Human Problem": What the History of Slavery Can Teach About Ourselves
Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  The Necessity of Government in a Fallen World
What's the Difference? Drawing the Line Between Liberals and Conservatives: Politics
What's the Difference?  Drawing the Line Between Liberals and Conservatives:  Politics 
What's the Difference?  Drawing the Line Between Liberals and Conservatives:  Morality

All Around the Web: Links For Your Thursday - November 29, 2012

Blogizomai - "Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence | I recently finished part four of Dr. Millard Erickson's systematic theology book blogging through it. Here are all of the links from part 4 on the subject of Creation and Providence

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 16 


Credo Magazine - Sojourners and Strangers: An Interview with Gregg Allison | Here is a good interview with one of my favorite SBTS professors, Dr. Gregg Allison on his new book on the doctrine of the church.

Tell us a little bit about how you came to be involved in this writing project. Why did you want to contribute the volume on ecclesiology in this series?

The initiative came from my good friend and former professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr. John Feinberg. He contacted me and inquired about my interest in writing the ecclesiology volume for the Foundations of Evangelical Theology series, of which he is the general editor. Because of my high regard for that series published by Crossway, and because of my great respect for Dr. Feinberg, I was very honored to be asked to make the contribution. As a result, ecclesiology has become one of my specializations.

What does the title of our book capture about your ecclesiological perspective?

Sojourners and Strangers is my rendition of 1 Peter 2:11, which in the ESV reads, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” I respectfully disagreed with Crossway’s desire to use Sojourners and Exiles as the title (in keeping with the ESV translation) because of a fear that the word “exiles” would evoke thoughts of some of N. T. Wright’s positions. Crossway, being a wonderful publishing company with which to work, ultimately left the decision to me. The first word—Sojourners—has special significance to me, as I am an elder of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky. The idea that the title communicates is that the church, living in the boundary epoch between the two advents of Jesus Christ, is composed of people who live their short (earthly) lives away from their home for the purpose of being on mission for and with God.

What are some of the challenges you personally faced in writing this systematic treatment of the church?

One of the key challenges was writing an ecclesiology for an audience that is broadly evangelical and thus holds to divergent positions on ecclesiological matters such as continuity and discontinuity between the Old Testament and New Testament and the old covenant people of God and the new covenant people of God, the normative or descriptive nature of the book of Acts, when the church began and who are its members, the relationship of the church to Israel and the kingdom of God, the nature and recipients of baptism, the nature and recipients of the Lord’s Supper, how the church should be governed (e.g., episcopalian, presbyterian, congregational with one pastor and a board of deacons, congregational with a plurality of elders), and the like. In my opinion, a generic evangelical ecclesiology cannot be written. Thus, I chose to write a broadly baptistic ecclesiology (reflecting my theological persuasion and my membership in several baptistic churches over the course of my life) that (I hope) fairly presents other ecclesiologies and interacts with them in a respectful and irenic fashion. At the same time, my ecclesiology develops in some directions that are not typically baptistic (though not without historical precedents and contemporary examples) like opening with a discussion of biblical covenants and identifying the church as the new covenant people of God, a significant emphasis on church discipline, a view of the Lord’s Supper that is both memorial and a type of spiritual presence (with strong warrant from 1 Cor. 10:14-2), a plurality of elders, the diaconate consisting of both deacons and deaconesses (this latter point is affirmed within a complementarian framework), and advocacy of a particular multisite church structure.



Parchment and Pen Blog - Textual Criticism in a Nutshell |

How significant are the variants?

In this matter, it is encouraging for Christians to know that the vast majority of the variants found in the Scriptures are either non-viable or insignificant. “Non-viable” means that it is very easy for the text critic to spot the mistake and make the correction. I know the word “insignificant” is very hard to hear when it comes to Scripture, but you must realize the nature of most of the variants. Of the nearly half-million variants, the majority have to do with minor issues that do not change the meaning of the text at all. Most, such as the movable nu mentioned above, article usage, transposing of words (“Jesus Christ” instead of “Christ Jesus”; metathesis), and other minor variations don’t even translate into English.

There is approximately one percent of variants that in fact make any theological difference. But even then, these differences don’t affect any major doctrine. In other words, these variants do not call Christ’s deity into question, they don’t place the second coming in jeopardy, salvation is not going to be by works, and Christ’s resurrection is not vitiated by them.

The two most significant variants are John 8 (which contains the story of the woman caught in adultery) and the longer ending of Mark 16 (where snake handling and drinking poison seem to be encouraged). Neither of these passages, in the opinion of most scholars, should be in the Bible. But whether you take these two passages out or leave them in, Christianity is still completely intact with no theological variations worth getting bent out of shape over. In other words, even without the woman caught in adultery, Christ is still gracious and hypocritical attitudes are still wrong! To put this into perspective, if the two most significant variants don’t change the faith, none of the others will either. Even more, like the case with John 8 and the longer ending of Mark 16, most of the variants are very simple for the trained eye of a text critic to make decisions about.



Dr. Roger Olson - Is Open Theism a Type of Arminianism | I'm actually a bit shocked that Olsen would embrace the orthodoxy & theology of open theism. This is not to say that he is an open theist, but that he would suggest that open theism is a type of Arminianism. The accusations from Calvinst remains true. Arminianism, historically, will creep or at least flirt with heterodoxy - not all Arminians, but Arminianism in general.

Open theism is, in my opinion, although mistaken, closer to the true heart of Arminianism than is Molinism (insofar as it uses middle knowledge to reconcile divine determinism with free will). It ought to be considered a variety of Arminianism just as, say, supralapsarianism is considered a legitimate variety of Calvinism. Calvinism is a diverse tradition. It includes lots of very different perspectives, some of them very controversial even among those who consider themselves mainline spokespersons for Reformed theology. Supralapsarianism is one. (Okay, R. C. Sproul is against supralapsarianism and says it’s not even true Calvinism. I’d like to see and hear him tell that to Alvin Plantinga’s face.) The Synod of Dort allowed supralapsarians to be considered truly Reformed even though most of the leaders of the synod favored infralapsarianism. There are other debates among evangelical Calvinists over which few would expel someone from being considered truly Reformed or Calvinist.

Arminianism is a big tent and a centered set. Open theism is under it and in it. It’s time all Arminians simply acknowledged that and quite trying to exclude open theists.


Politico - Republicans, 2016: In Full Swing | Another article about 2016. Here are all of the early front runners.

Tired of presidential politics? Get over it: Upwards of 15 prominent Republicans are privately contemplating 2016 campaigns for the presidency — and the most serious and ambitious of the bunch are already plunging in, some quite publicly.

Don’t expect them to officially announce or even officially decide for many months. But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are doing nothing to disguise their presidential ambitions.

Jindal, the Rhodes scholar and new chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is making a very public case for a more intellectual approach to conservatism, accusing the GOP of being, in his words, “the stupid party.”



Christianity Today - Uganda drops death penalty for homosexuals |

The death penalty provision of an anti-gay bill in Uganda has been dropped, it has been reported on Friday, and Members of the Ugandan Parliament have immediately moved to endorse the amended legislature.

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has described the amendment as a "Christmas gift" to gay advocates, who have long campaigned against Uganda's strict anti-homosexuality laws. The African country is one of the only places in the world where all homosexual activity is still illegal, and the proposed bill before it was changed even sought to make it a crime worthy of capital punishment.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hump Day Humor: Shout To the Lord Led Zepplin Style

All Around the Web: Links For Your Wednesday - November 28, 2012

The Poached Egg - William Lane Craig: Every Christian is a theologian | Right on!

I think that every Christian ultimately is a theologian. Just in virtue of being a Christian, you are committed to a certain worldview. You are committed to things like the existence of God, the objectivity of moral values, the objectivity of truth, the deity of Christ, his resurrection from the dead, his substitutionary atonement for our sins, the existence of eternal life, the hope of resurrection and of the personal return of Christ. As a Christian, you are committed to these things. So why wouldn’t you want to understand them? The question is not whether or not you are going to be a theologian. As a Christian you are already committed to be one. The only question is: are you going to be a good one or a poor one? Are you going to have a good grasp of Christian doctrine and theology or an immature and childish one?


Gospel eBooks - How to Give a Kindle Book for Christmas | This is great.

When you’re looking at a Kindle book, underneath the “buy” button you will see “give it as a gift”. When you click on that you’ll be asked to sign in and then will be directed to the gift screen.

When you’re on the gift screen you’ll see an option called “delivery date”. This allows you to buy an e-book now, while it’s on sale but the recipient won’t receive it until the day you set
.


Authentic Manhood - Five Date Night Tips |

1. Schedule it.
2. Start again.
3. Kid swap.
4. Explore.
5. Romance
.


Tony Jones - The Emergent Church Isn’t Dead — Here’s Proof  | If you have to write a post arguing that your movement isn't dead . . . its dead. Still waiting on that proof Dr. Jones.




BBC News - Is the toilet seat really the dirtiest place in the home? | The answer is no. You might want to read this one for all of you germaphobes.

Dr Chuck Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, studies how diseases are transferred through the environment. This involves swabbing household items and measuring how many bacteria - and what sort - develop.

He particularly looks for faecal bacteria such as E.coli and staphylococcus aureus.

His studies have found that on the average toilet seat there are 50 bacteria per square inch
.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 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
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 7
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 8  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 9
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 10

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 3 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 16
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 17
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 18
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 19
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 20

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 16 


What about demon possession? This should be interesting. I struggle with this issue as I hope most Christians do. The secular worldview that denies the supernatural affects on the natural is inadequate in my view. But the overemphasis of demonism common among many charismatics is concerning to me. Here is what Millard Erickson has to say on the subject:

First, he begins with the biblical account of possessions:

The manifestations of demon possession are varied. We have already noted some of the physical ailments demons inflict. The person possessed may have unusual strength (Mark 5:2-4), may act in bizarre ways such as wearing no clothes and living among the tombs rather than in a house (Luke 8:27), or may engage in self-destructive behavior (Matt. 17:15; Mark 5:5). There evidently are degrees of affliction, since Jesus spoke of the evil spirit who "goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself" (Matt. 12:45). In all of these cases the common element is that the person involved in being destroyed, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It appears that the demons were able to speak, presumably using the vocal equipment of the person possessed (e.g., Matt. 8:29, 31; Mark 1:24, 26, 34; 5:7, 9, 10; Luke 4:41; 8:28, 30). It appears that demons can also inhabit animals (see the parallel accounts of the incident involving the swine - Matt. 8; Mark 5; Luke 8).

It is noteworthy that the biblical writers did not attribute all illness to demon possession. Luke reports that Jesus distinguished between two types of healing: "I will drive out demons and help people today and tomorrow" (Luke 13:32). A similar distinction is made in Matthew 10:8; Mark 1:34; 6:13; Luke 4:40-41; 9:1. Nor was epilepsy mistaken for demon possession. We read in Matthew 17;15-18 that Jesus cast out a demon from an epileptic, but in Matthew 4:24 epileptics (as well as paralytics) are distinguished from demoniacs. Int he case of numerous healings no mention is made of demons. in Matthew, for example, no mention is made of demon exorcism in the case of the healing of the centurion's servant (8:5-13), the woman with the hemorrhage of twelve years' duration (9:19-20), the two blind men (9:27-30), the man with the withered hand (12:9-14), and those who touched the fringe of Jesus' garment (14:35-36). In particular, leprosy never seems to be attributed to demons.

Jesus cast out demons without pronouncing an elaborate formula. He merely commanded them to come out (Mark 1:25; 9:25). He attributed the exorcism to the Spirit of God (Matt. 12:28) or the finger of God (Luke 11:20). Jesus invested hi disciples with the authority to cast out demons (Matt. 10:1). But the disciples needed faith if they were to be successful (Matt. 17:19-20). prayer is also mentioned as a requirement for exorcism (Mark 9:29). Sometimes faith on the part of a third party was a requirement (mark 9:23-24; cf. Mark 6:5-6). At times demons were expelled from someone who had expressed no wish to be healed
. (473-474)

But what about possession today? Here is what Erickson has to say:

There is no reason to believe that demon possessions are restricted to the past. There are cases, especially but not exclusively in less developed cultures, which seem explainable only on this basis. The Christian should be alert to the possibility of demon possession occurring today. At the same time, one should not too quickly attribute aberrant physical and psychical phenomena to demon possession. Even as Jesus and the biblical writers distinguished cases of possession from other ailments, so should we, testing the spirits.

In recent years there has been a flare-up of interest in the phenomon of demo possession. As a consequence, some Christains may come to regard this as the primary manifestation of the forces of evil. In actuality,Satan, the great deceiver, may be encouraging interest in demon possession in hopes that Christians will become careless about other more subtle forms of influence by the powers of evil
.


For More on Erickson:
Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God 
Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy
Condemnation But No Justification: The Purpose of General Revelation
The Reservoir & Conduit of Divine Truth: Carl FH Henry on Revelation
Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology 
Exegetical Theology or Theological Exegesis?: DeYoung on the Both/And
A New Kind of Christianity . . . Indeed: The Authority Question - Part 2
Grudem on the Problems With Denying Inerrancy
Inerrancy and the Early Church
Divine Simplicity: Theology Proper For Liberals & Calvinists
The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction
The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundations
The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Challenges
"Their God is Too Small": A Review
Tozer on Holiness  
"Knowing God": A Review
Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head
"The God Who Loves" by John MacArthur: A Review
"Godly Jealousy" by Erik Thoennes: A Review
Ryrie on the Names of God
"The Sovereignty of God" by A. W. Pink: A Review
DeYong on the Trinity
Does God Suffer?: Aquinas on Divine Impassibility
All Aspects of Our Lives Are Preordained: Grudem on Providence & God's Plan
If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?: A Few Voices From the Past & Present - Part 1
If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?: A Few Voices From the Past & Present - Part 2
"Lofty" by Propaganda, Beautiful Euology & Joel
Some Things Never Change: Why Evolution Is Contrary to the Gospel
Calvin on Providence
Providence and Prayer: Carson's Response 
Does the Calvinistic Doctrine of God's Providence Make God Responsible For Sin?: Grudem's Answer
"When Bad Things Happen To Good People" by Harold Kushner: A Review
"God Forsaken" by Dinesh D'Souza: A Review
Grudem on Who Were the Sons of God


For more on Creation & Providence:
Calvinism on Providence
Providence and Prayer: Carson Response
Repost | "A Sweet & Bitter Providence" by John Piper
Tony Evans on God and Purpose
September 19, 2010 - God is Provident
April 29, 2012 | Ruth 1:1-22 - Better or Bitter: When Providence Means Suffering
May 6, 2012 | Ruth 2:1-13 - And It Just So Happened ...: When God's Invisible Hand Becomes Visible 
May 20, 2012 | Ruth 2:14-23 - Grace in Abundance: That's Why Its So Amazing
May 27, 2012 | Ruth 3:1-9 - Resting in the Providence of God - Part 1
June 10, 2012 | Ruth 4:1-15 - When Providence and Grace Kiss
May 29, 2011 | Habakkuk 2:2-20
August 1, 2010 - Matthew 6:25-34 - Worry and the Providence of God: What Our Anxiety Says About What We Believe About God


All Around the Web: Links For Your Tuesday - November 27, 2012


I kind of want one.


HT: Reclaiming the Mind


John Stonestreet - Is Food the New Sex? | The answer, yes. Although, sex will always be viewed as off limits to moral absolutes by secularists whereas food will always be regulated by secular totalitarians.

Sex has no more rules. According to popular culture, we can partake with whomever we want, however we want, whenever we want, and for whatever reason we want. Subjective feelings offer the only justification needed.

But as Mary DeMuth pointed out recently on her blog, “Uncaged,” there is something we are more legalistic about than ever: food.

From veganism and the organic craze, to proposed bans on salt, soda and trans fat, we now live in a world full of people telling others what to eat.

Quoting Mary Eberstadt’s book, “Adam and Eve after the Pill,” DeMuth writes, “modern man…has taken longstanding morality about sex, and substituted it onto food. The all-you-can-eat buffet is now stigmatized; the sexual smorgasbord is not
.”


Desiring God - Four Reasons Men Don’t Read Books (with a Practical Suggestion) |

  1. Men don’t read books because they don’t know where to begin. . . .
  2. Men don’t read books because visual allurements are more appealing. . . .
  3. Men don’t read books because they think it’s a waste of time. . . .
  4. Men don’t read because they lack literary discipline. . . .
. . .

In any given local church, a wise pastor possesses the single most valuable commodity that will influence men who don't read books, and that commodity is reading experience. A wise pastor is a man who has learned by experience to discern valuable books from the less-helpful (reason #1, above). A wise pastor is a man who has learned to fix his attention on the written word for lengthy periods of undistracted time (reasons #2 and #4). And a wise pastor is a man who has been personally altered by his discoveries in the written word (reason #3)
.


CNBC - American's Deadliest Jobs 2012 | Some of these might surprise you.

10. Taxi drivers (and chauffeurs)
9. Electrical-power line installers and repairers
8. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
7. Farmers, ranchers, & other agricultural managers
6. Structural iron and steel workers
5. Roofers
4. Refuse and recyclable metal collectors
3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineersv 2. Logging workers
1. Fishers and related fishing industry workers



WORLD Magazine - From Cradle to Grave | This is a good and insightful, well written short article.

I guess “cradle to grave” just gives me the creeps because the sound of it shrinks my life down to such a small measure: You’re born, you consume stuff, you die. When you stop and think about it, that three-word summary could describe an animal as easily as a human. Aren’t we more than that? Don’t we have higher aspirations? Even the men in the 12th century who built all those gothic cathedrals with the pointing spires piercing the cloud cover, whatever their relationships with God were, at least they were reaching upward and not groveling in the dust for a few free crumbs. 

We who know Christ also have a kind of care and protection that spans the beginning and end of life. But somehow that doesn’t give me the same icky feeling as government cradle-to-grave care. I think it is because the one who is in charge of your cradle-to-grave care is the one who owns you—and when all is said and done I would rather for God to own me than the government. For one thing, God’s “coverage” starts before Obama’s

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Exploring the Unexplained" by Trent Butler: A Review

A peculiar book lies before you. This book isn't peculiar because it is about the Bible, but much of what the Bible says can be peculiar to our modern ears. Here we will explore and elaborate upon some of the more unusual aspects of the Bible's people, places, events, things, and stories. -7

Those are the opening words of author Trent Butler in his book Exploring the Unexplained: A Practical Guide to the Peculiar People, Places, and Things in the Bible. It is a dictionary styled book which highlights, as the title and subtitle suggests, peculiar people, places, and things in the Bible. The author describes it as a book which skips over the people, place, an things you already know about, and focuses on the things that you might not understand and sometimes avoid. This peculiar dictionary invites you to develop new and interesting ways to put it to good use (9).

This means that what is missing from this dictionary is the typical stuff you would use the average Bible Dictionary for - Israel, Jesus, Elijah, or Moses. Instead it includes very brief entries on Micaiah, Tema, and Chedor-Laomer. To get an idea of what this dictionary is like, consider the entry on Micaiah (who is one of my favorite minor characters in the Bible):

Micaiah was a prophet of God who opposed four hundred court prophets of King Ahab of Israel when he predicted Ahab's defeat and death. He had a vision of a member of the heavenly council becoming a lying spirit to delude the four hundred court prophets.

Issue: Discerning God's will is not a simple process. We fight against evil powers and lying spirits. How do you determine the divine will when you have to make a decision? -186

This is typical of most entries. Brief and right to the point with an addition "Issue" portion seeking to make the subject more relevant. Some entries might be questionable. The entry for "Nephilim" only offers the interpretation that they are the offspring of fallen angels and human women. Though that may be a possible interpretation, it leaves out the possible interpretation of Genesis 6 as the offspring of Cain's line mixing with Seth's family line.

Nonetheless, books like this are helpful. As a pastor, I find myself in the Bible a lot oftentimes scratching my head. What does that name mean? Where is that located? What in the world does that word mean? These are common questions and resources like this are helpful.


I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


I review for BookSneeze 
 


For more from Thomas Nelson:
Blogizomai - "Father Hunger" by Doug Wilson: A Review
Blogizomai - "The Truth About Forgiveness" by John MacArthur
Reviews - "The Truth About the Lordship of Jesus" by John MacArthur 
Reviews - "Real Marriage" by Mark & Grace Driscoll
Reviews - "Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow  
Blogizomai - Repost | "Nearing Home" by Billy Graham
Reviews - America: The Last Best Hope - Volume 3
Reviews - "Has God Spoken?" by Hank Hanegraaf
Reviews - "Why God Won't Go Away" by Alister McGrath  
Reviews - "Billy Graham in Quotes
Reviews - "No He Can't" by Kevin McCullough
Reviews - "Washington: A Legacy of Leadership" by Paul Vickery  
Reviews - "Max on Life" by Max Lucado 
Reviews - "Slave" by John Macarthur
Reviews - "The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster 
Reviews - "Finding Our Way Again" by Brian McLaren 
Reviews - "Outlive Your Life" by Max Lucado
Reviews - "The Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns 
Reviews - "Saint Patrick" by Jonathan Rogers
Reviews - "A Century Turns" by William Bennett
Reviews - "Sir Winston Churchill"
Reviews - "On this Day in Christian History"
Reviews - "Storm Warning" by Billy Graham

All Around the Web: Links For Your Monday - November 26, 2012

Tullian Tchividjian - Are Christians Totally Depraved? | A good article on an important question.

But once God regenerates us by his Spirit, draws us to himself, unites us to Christ, raises us from the dead, and grants us status as adopted sons and daughters, is there any sense in which we can speak of Christian’s being totally depraved?

Yes.v
Theologians speak of total depravity, not only in terms of “total inability” to come to God on our own because we’re spiritually dead, but also in terms of sin’s effect: sin corrupts us in the “totality” of our being. Our minds are affected by sin. Our hearts are affected by sin. Our wills are affected by sin. Our bodies are affected by sin. This is at the heart of Paul’s internal struggle that he articulates in Romans 7:

For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

The painful struggle that Paul gives voice to arises from his condition as simul justus et peccator (simultaneously justified and sinful). He has been raised from the dead and is now alive to Christ, but remaining sin continues to plague him at every level and in every way
.


LA Times - Supreme Court decides this week whether to rule on gay marriage |

WASHINGTON — After two decades in which gay rights moved from the margin to capture the support of most Americans, the Supreme Court justices will go behind closed doors this week to decide whether now is the time to rule on whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

For justices, the issue is not just what to decide, but when to decide it. In times past, the court has been faulted for waiting too long or moving too quickly to recognize constitutional rights.

The justices did not strike down state bans on interracial marriage until 1967, 13 years after they had declared racial segregation unconstitutional. Yet in response to the growing women's rights movement, the court in 1973 struck down all the state laws restricting abortion, triggering a national "right to life" movement and drawing criticism even from some supporters that the Roe vs. Wade ruling had gone too far too fast.

Now, the justices must decide whether to hear an appeal from the defenders of California's Proposition 8, the 2008 voter initiative that limited marriage to a man and a woman.


Bill Mounce - Jesus is Back in Jude (Monday with Mounce 164) | If you find textual criticism fascinating, you'll like this article by Dr. Mounce whose elementary greek book was my friend (and enemy) for several semesters in college and seminary.

This is the only place I recall that the ESV diverged from the NA27 Greek text. The ESV reads, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus (᾽Ιηοῦς), who save a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” The NET and NLT also have “Jesus.”

NA27 reads κύριος, which is followed by most translations. The RSV left it an indefinite “he,” which was changed to “Lord” in the NRSV. . . .

And so it was much to Wayne’s and my delight that we saw that NA28 now reads, ᾽Ιηοῦς. Jesus is back!



CNN - Rubio ignites debate with answer about creationism |

When GQ’s Michal Hainey asked Rubio, in an interview released Monday, “How old do you think the Earth is,” the rising Republican star described the debate about the planet’s age as “one of the great mysteries.”

“I'm not a scientist, man,” Rubio told the interviewer. “I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.”

“Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras,” Rubio continued, “I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries.”


The Hobbit Blog - Video #9 | Peter Jackson and company have posted various video blogs of the production process of the Hobbit films. Here is the latest. Its a good one. It'll really wet your appetite.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Redemption" by Johnny Cash




From the hands it came down
From the side it came down
From the feet it came down
And ran to the ground
Between heaven and hell
A teardrop fell In the deep crimson dew
The tree of life grew

And the blood gave life
To the branches of the tree
And the blood was the price
That set the captives free
And the numbers that came
Through the fire and the flood Clung to the tree
And were redeemed by the blood

From the tree streamed a light
That started the fight 'Round the tree grew a vine
On whose fruit I could dine
My old friend Lucifer came
Fought to keep me in chains
But I saw through the tricks
Of six-sixty-six
And the blood gave life
To the branches of the tree
And the blood was the price
That set the captives free
And the numbers that came
Through the fire and the flood Clung to the tree
And were redeemed by the blood

From his hands it came down
From his side it came down
From his feet it came down
And ran to the ground
And a small inner voice Said "You do have a choice."
The vine engrafted me
And I clung to the tree

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Theodicy, God and Suffering: The D'Souza/Ehrman Debate

This week we've been discussing the issue of theodicy. I thought it would be helpful, then, to offer the following debate between Christian Dinesh D'Souza and Bart Erhman.



Books by D'Souza:
"God Forsaken" by Dinesh D'Souza: A Review
"Obama's America" by Dinesh D'Souza: A Review
What's So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D'Souza
"Life After Death" by Dinesh D'Souza
D'Souza - Letters To A Young Conservative
D'Souza - Ronald Reagan


For more debates with D'Souza:
D'Souza: Are Atheists Cultural Christians
Freud's Wish Fulfillment: Why Atheism Can't Explain Atheism
The Atheist Debates
Atheism Is Not Great - The D'Souza and Hitchens Debate


For more:
Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head

All Around the Web: Links For Your Weekend - November 24, 2012

Ron Edmondson - 5 Ways to Fight Insecurity as a Pastor or Leader |

Avoid comparisons
Concentrate on your abilities
Surround yourself with people who complement your weaknesses
Keep learning
Ultimately, find your identity in what’s really secure



Practical Shepherd - What are 3 common areas of neglect in a pastor’s life? |

1) Lack of sleep.
2) Lack of exercise.
3) Lack of spiritual attention to his own’s soul.



Thabiti Anyabwile - How Do You Define Preaching? |

In the first talk I shared my definition of preaching:

“Preaching is God speaking in the power of His Spirit about His Son from His word through a man.”

In the definition, I’m trying to capture something of the Trinitarian, Christ-Centered, Spirit-empowered, human instrumentality of this act. I’m trying to say something about the divine presence, power, and proclamation that actually happens when men open their Bibles and open their mouths. I’m trying to say something about the difference between lectures and preaching, between “good” preaching and “bad” preaching–that difference is God himself speaking.

What a marvelous thing preaching is–God speaking through a man
!


Slate - Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading | Not everyone is a fan of the digital book revolution.

Amid the seemingly endless debates today about the future of reading, there remains one salient, yet often overlooked fact: Reading isn’t only a matter of our brains; it’s something that we do with our bodies. Reading is an integral part of our lived experience, our sense of being in the world, even if at times this can mean feeling intensely apart from it. How we hold our reading materials, how we look at them, navigate them, take notes on them, share them, play with them, even where we read them—these are the categories that have mattered most to us as readers throughout the long and varied history of reading. They will no doubt continue to do so into the future.

Understanding reading at this most elementary level—at the level of person, habit, and gesture—will be essential as we continue to make choices about the kind of reading we care about and the kind of technologies that will best embody those values. To think about the future of reading means, then, to think about the long history of how touch has shaped reading and, by extension, our sense of ourselves while we read
.


New York Post - Nicole’s Killer? | Did a serial killer kill Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

Have you ever heard of Glen Rogers?

Probably not because Glen Rogers is one of America’s least-known serial killers (70, possibly 80 people). But wait. He is also most likely the real murderer of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

ID’s feature-length documentary goes back over Rogers’ life and his crimes through interviews with police, prosecutors and with his family —most notably his former non-murderous partner-in-crime, brother Clay Rogers, who taught Glen how to steal at an early age.

Not only did Clay cooperate fully in this documentary, but he is the person who turned Glen in when he discovered a rotting corpse in the family’s broken down cabin in the woods in Hamilton, Minn
.


Geek O System - Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Wait More Than Two Seconds For a Video to Load | Talk about impatience. Not that I'm not guilty or anything.

In a study done at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, computer science professor Ramesh Sitaraman found that two seconds is all it takes for users to give up on waiting for a video to load, and the longer the wait the more users lose patience. There is a sharp increase up to about twenty seconds, but it plateaus there because at that point almost 90% of viewers have quit and that last 10% already has one third of a whole minute invested, and they’re not giving up.

The study looked at 23 million views made by 6.7 million unique viewers, and shows that the faster the connection the less patient the viewer. It seems people are more willing to wait for something to load on a mobile connection, but dial-up speeds were not considered in the study because to watch video on dial-up you have to have a level of patience not yet seen in human civilization
.


The Week - 5 movies where Twinkies played a supporting role | People are taking this Twinkie news pretty hard.