Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pelagianism, Gnosticism, and the American Religion - Part 1

Pelagianism, Gnosticism, and the American Religion - Part 1
Pelagianism, Gnosticism, and the American Religion - Part 2

In his book, Christless Christianity, Dr. Michael Horton hits the nail on the head when he diagnoses the American Religion as both Pelagianism and Gnosticism. He writes:

If moralism represents a drift toward the Pelagian (or at least semi-Pelagian) heresy, enthusiasm is an expression of the heresy known as Gnosticism. A second-century movement that seriously threatened the ancient churches, Gnosticism tried to blend Greek philosophy and Christianity. The result was an eclectic spirituality that regarded the material world as the prison-house of divine spirits and the creation of an evil god (YAHWEH). Their goal was to return to the spiritual, heavenly, and divine unity of which their inner self is a spark, away from the realm of earthly time, space, and bodies. (Gnostics would have applauded many of Joel Osteen's emphases, particularly the thesis of faith teachers that we have divine DNA.)

Identifying sinfulness with creation as such, some Gnostic sects were extremely ascetic and rule oriented, while others were a free-for-all of orgies and mystical ecstasy. With little interest in questions of history or doctrine, the Gnostics set off on a quest to ascend the ladder of mysticism. They were all in agreement that the institutional church, with its ordained ministry, creeds, preaching, sacraments, and discipline, was alienating - like the body, it was the prison-house of the individual soul. . . .

Pelagianism leads to Christless Christianity because we do not need a Savior, but a good example. Gnosticism's route to Christless Christianity is by turning the story of a good Creator, a fall into sin, and redemption through the incarnation, bloody death, and bodily resurrection of the Son into a myth of an evil creator, a fall into matter, and redemption by inner enlightenment. While the gospel call us to look outside ourselves for salvation, Pelagianism and Gnosticism combine to keep us looking to ourselves and within ourselves. Together, they have created the perfect storm: the American religion. No one has to teach us a gospel of salvation by inner enlightenment and moral self-improvement; rather, the Word of God has to break our addiction to this glory story by telling us the truth about what God's law really demands and his gospel really gives.

In his description of the theology of glory, Luther speaks of the different ladders that we vainly try to climb to ascend to God: rational speculation, mystical experience, and moral striving. All three are as abundantly evident today as part of the American captivity of the church as they were in Luther's days. (163-164, 165-166)

All Around the Web - February 28, 2013

HT: Huffington Post

BibleMesh - Marriage From Genesis to Revelation | This is a helpful resource.

A group of homosexual activists recently published what they called the “Queen James Bible”—an edition of Scripture with eight verses edited in order to prevent “homophobic interpretations.” The implication is that if these eight verses are tweaked, the Bible doesn’t have anything to say condemning homosexuality or limiting marriage to the covenant union of one man and one woman for life. The editors of the Queen James Bible were terribly wrong, for from Genesis to Revelation Scripture teaches that marriage between a man and a woman is God’s standard and it condemns supposed alternatives. Of course, every book does not contain an explicit command against homosexuality, and some mentions of marriage and family assume the traditional structure rather than commending it explicitly. But through precepts, examples, analogies, and prohibitions the Bible makes it clear that God loves marriage and hates all affronts to this covenant union.

Genesis records the creation of marriage in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:18-25). Exodus gives the commandment not to commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 clearly condemn homosexuality. (These verses are not merely prohibitions against having homosexual relations with male prostitutes in Molech’s temple, as the Queen James Bible asserts.) Numbers 5:11-31 exalts marital faithfulness by imposing stiff penalties on a woman who breaks her marriage vows. Deuteronomy 5:18 repeats the command against adultery in its recounting of the Ten Commandments.

Ray Ortlund - Do the Demons Know You?

The Guardian - The state of our union is … dumber: How the linguistic standard of the presidential address has declined | Compare the following two sentences between President Obama's 2013 State of the Union address and James Madison's 1810 address.


And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it's that we all hated the bank bailout.


In reviewing the scenes through which it has been attained we can rejoice in the proofs given that our political institutions, founded in human rights and framed for their preservation, are equal to the severest trials of war, as well adapted to the ordinary periods of repose.

Trevin Wax - 10 Signs We've Lost Our Minds |

1. We worry about the shallowness and superficiality of online relationships, so we go to FaceBook and Twitter to register our concerns.
2. We are so focused on the newest and latest things that we leave behind the oldest and most foundational things.
4. We ban soda from schools but make condoms widely available… because corn syrup is a more serious matter for youngsters than sex.
5. We decry the exploitation of women, but cry “censorship” when someone wants decency standards against objectifying women on television.

Buzzfeed - 33 Ways You Know You Were A Youth Group Kid |

2. You know ALL the hand motions to "Lord I Lift Your Name On High."
4. You at one point decided to kiss dating good-bye.
14. You said "just" a lot when you had to pray out loud.
16. Your parents bought you a purity ring.

HT: Justin Taylor

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Duck Dynasty on Jimmy Kimmel

Tonight is the season 3 premier of Duck Dynasty. I am a recent convert of the show and for countless reasons I simply love it. To promote the show, the Robertson family went on Jimmy Kimmel. Here are the videos of their appearance.

John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 2

An Introduction to the Life and Works of Scottish Reformer John Craig
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Introduction
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 1
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 2

2.    The Miserable Fall of Man From God and His Former Estate Under the Bondage of Sin, Death, and All Other Kind of Miseries

Q.    What brought them from that blessed estate?
A.    Satan, and their own inconstancy.

Q.    How were they brought to that inconstancy?
A.    Through familiar conference with Satan against the word.

Q.    What thing did Satan first seek of them?
A.    Distrust and contempt of God’s word.

Q.    Why did he begin with their faith?
A.    Because he knew it was their life.

Q.    How could they consent to their own perdition?
A.    They were deceived by the craft of Satan.

Q.    What was the craft of Satan here?
A.    He persuaded them that good was evil and evil was good.

Q.    How could they have been persuaded by Satan if they possessed the Image of God?
A.    They possessed the Image of God but not the gift of constancy.

Q.    What things did they lose as a result of their fall?
A.    The favor and Image of God with the use of the creatures.

Q.     What succeeded the loss of the favor and Image of God?
A.     The wrath of God and original sin.
Q.     What thing is original sin?
A.      The corruption of our whole nature.

Q.      How does this sin come to us?
A.      By natural propagation from our first Parents.

Q.      What are the fruits of this sin?
A.      All other sins which we commit.

Q.      What is the punishment of this sin?
A.      Death of the body and soul along with all other miseries.

Q.      What other things fell upon this sin?
A.      A curse upon the creatures and our banishment from the use of them.

Q.      But the most wicked use them abundantly.
A.      That is with testimony of an evil conscience.

Q.      Such a curse was over the simple act of eating forbidden fruit? [1]
A.      The sins committed were more than the eating of the forbidden fruit.  [2]

Q.      What, then, was their sin?
A.      Infidelity, pride, and open rebellion against God.

Q.      How can that be pride?
A.      They consented to Satan’s lies, mistrusted Gods word, and sought to be equal with God.

Q.      Why are we punished for their sin?
A.      We are punished for our own sin, seeing we are all in them, standing and falling with them.

Q.      What is the estate of their descendants?
A.      Under the same bondage of sin.

Q.      What natural freedoms do we have?
A.      We have the freedom to sin and offend our God.

Q.      Do we not have the power to serve and please our God?
A.      None at all until we are called and sanctified by God.

Q.      Have we lost our minds and wills?
A.      No.  But we have lost a right mind and a right will.

Q.      Natural men may do many good deeds?
A.      Yet they cannot please God without faith.

Q.      Why did God suffer this fall of man?
A.      For the declaration of his mercy and Justice.

Q.      Declare that.
A.      By his mercy the chosen are delivered and the rest punished by his Justice.

[1]   The original reads “These pains were over greater for eating of the forbidden fruit?”
[2]  The original reads, “These sins was not eating of the fruit simply.”

For more on Craig, Scottish Theology, and Knox:
"The School of Faith" by Thomas F. Torrance: A Review
"Scottish Theology" by T. F. Torrance: A Review
"John Knox: An Introduction to His Life and Works" - A Review
"The Mighty Weakness of John Knox" by Douglas Bond: A Review
"John Knox & the Reformation" by M. Lloyd-Jones & Iain Murray: A Review
"John Knox" by Rosalind K. Marshall
Douglas Bond on the Legacy of John Knox

For more on Calvin and Calvinism:
"Foundations of Grace" by Steven Lawson: A Review
Was Calvin a Calvinist?  Helm Weighs In
Counterintuitive Calvinism: Tim Keller on Calvin's Institutes 

For more on the Reformation:
"The Reformation for Armchair Theologians" by Glenn S. Sunshine: A Review
The Theology of the Reformers  
The Unquenchable Flame  
"On the Necessity of Reforming the Church" by John Calvin
John Calvin:  A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology 
Christianity's Dangerous Idea
"Five Leading Reformers"     
 Was Calvin a Calvinist?  Helm Weighs In 
He Turned the Water Into Wine: MacArthur, Alcohol, & Christian Liberty
Theology Thursday | Calvin on the Redemptive Necessity of the Resurrection
Calvinist Baptists and the Many (False) Misconceptions
"Without the Gospel": A Gem From John Calvin
Calvin on God in Theology and the Christian Life
Calvin on Providence
Calvin on Treasures in Heaven
Calvin on Fasting
Calvin on Prayer: Why Bother?

All Around the Web - February 27, 2013

John Stonestreet (BreakPoint) - Westboro Baptist's Dropout - and Ours |

Phelps’s granddaughter, Megan Phelps-Roper, held those kind of signs when she was a tot, and in recent years she was in charge of Westboro Baptist’s social media strategy—yes, they have one.
In fact, Megan, now 27, was prolific and popular, tweeting up to a hundred messages a day, with a huge following. She was a regular guest on a local morning show, and by all accounts was a somewhat winsome witness for a small congregation with a closed and hate-filled message.

Then suddenly one day last October, Megan’s Twitter account went dark. Well, she turned up the other day, and it turns out she has left Westboro Baptist. It’s been a painful separation from her close-knit community and all she loved and held to be true. Megan says, “I still cry a lot.”

How did one so sheltered and seemingly so confident in her beliefs give them up? Apparently, a very small thing got her mind spinning—a digital social media relationship with a Jewish fellow who quoted Jesus. He said, “If anyone is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

She was amazed that a Jew was quoting Jesus to show how intolerant Westboro is, and it sent her into a tailspin.

Justin Taylor - Mohler’s 10 Books Every Preacher Should Read |

  1. The Juvenilization of American Christianity by Thomas E. Bergler (Eerdmans)
  2. Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church by Gregg R. Allison (Crossway)
  3. Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction by Jonathan T. Pennington (Baker Academic)
  4. Christ-Centered Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and Principles by Graeme Goldsworthy (InterVarsity Press)
  5. Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD by Peter Brown (Princeton University Press)
  6. Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray (Crown Forum)
  7. The Intolerance of Tolerance by D. A. Carson (Eerdmans)
  8. Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat (Free Press)
  9. God Is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology by Gerald Bray (Crossway)
  10. Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves (InterVarsity Press)

Jared Wilson - Die Before You Die – The Way to Joy |

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Dane Ortlund’s book Defiant Grace, but you ought to get your hands on a copy. Briefly but deeply exploring the good news of Christ’s kingdom in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Ortlund’s book is four shots of straight gospel whisky. Here’s one of my favorite passages, from his chapter on Mark’s Gospel:

To take up the cross is to take up joy — painful joy, but real joy. For to take up the cross is to walk with the one who in great love bore the ultimate cross in our place. Aim at joy, and you will miss it. Aim at Christ, and his cross-bearing call, and you will find it

Dr. Denny Burk - Pastor Jeffress’ Response to Cultured Despisers in the Media |

CNS News - Price of Gallon of Gas Up 96% Under Obama | How does this not get more news coverage? Remember the wall-to-wall gas price coverage of 2008 during the Presidential election?

The average price of a gallon of gas has increased 96 percent since President Barack Obama first took office in 2009, according to figures from the Energy Information Agency (EIA).

According to EIA data, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the United States was $1.838 on Jan. 19, 2009--the day before Obama took office. As of Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, the per-gallon price had risen to an average of $3.611--an increase of 96 percent.

Carl Trueman - Things You Might Not Want To Say In A Sermon: Part 107 | This is hilarious.

'Your wife is never more beautiful than on your wedding day.  It's all downhill from then on.'

I can honestly say I have not received such animated and engaged feedback from The Sisterhood since the time I referred to Downton Abbey as a soap opera.  And this time I had even more 'death stares

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Preacher in Black: Why Every Pastor Should Listen to Johnny Cash

Every pastor should listen to and be familiar with the music of the late Johnny Cash who turned 81 today. Regardless of one's personal taste in music, the Man in Black is a source of insight that every pastor and theologian should take advantage of. Cash was certainly no saint. Some of his lyrics are offensive, suggestive, and inappropriate. Some of his actions were ungodly and wrong. His struggle with drugs is well established. Even after embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ more fully later in his life, Cash still put out a full page ad extending his middle finger to the country music industry. To say he was a saint would be more than a stretch, it would be an all out lie. And yet, the Man in Black remains relevant today and the message that comes through his countless songs and lyrics is one that pastors ought to pay attention to.

Johnny Cash's first big hit was "Cry, Cry, Cry." Cash concludes the song with the lyrics:

When your fickle little love gets old, no one will care for you.
You'll come back to me for a little love that's true.
I'll tell you no and you gonna ask me why, why, why?
When I remind you of all of this, you'll cry, cry, cry.

You're gonna cry, cry, cry and you'll want me there,
It'll hurt when you think of the fool you've been.
You're gonna cry, cry, cry

The song illustrates the cycle of pain and disappointment of idolatry of an individual going from man to man in search of something they cannot find. Of course the pastor knows why. The sinner is at heart an idolater in love with the self always searching for something transcendent that only God can deliver. How many pastors have seen the devastation left behind of someone who likes to "try, try, try" but in the end can only "cry, cry, cry?" Instead of such a fickle heart, perhaps we should turn to Christ and there discover "A Satisfied Mind."

Or how about expressions of pain? In his song, "Big River" Cash iconically sang, Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry/ And I showed the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky. Though the song is more about heartbreak than suffering in general, the lyrics articulate perfectly the human dilemma of those suffering whether from the lost of a love one or from the pain of broken relationships. Compare this song with a similar message in "A Legend in My Time" composed just before he died. Cash sang, If heartaches brought fame, in love's crazy game I'd be a legend in my time / If they gave gold statuettes for tears and regrets I'd be a legend in my time / But they don't give awards and there's no praise or fame For hearts that are broken for love that's in vain / If loneliness meant world acclaim Everyone would know my name I'd be a legend in my time.

Then there is the reality of human depravity and frailty. Later in his life, Cash sang the song "The Beast in Me" which includes the lyrics The beast in me is caged by frail and fraglie bars / Restless by day / And by night rants and rages at the stars / God help the beast in me. There is another way of expressing this. I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. In a similar message, the song "I'm Free From the Chain Gang Now" sang at various points of his career, is both a song about a literal chain gang and a literal prisoner set free, but could easily be interpreted from the perspective of death and eternal life with the Savior. I believe this is why he recorded the song again on one of his last albums "A Hundred Highways." Cash sang, All the years I was known by a number / How I kept my mind is a wonder / But like a bird in a tree I got my liberty / And I'm free from the chain gang now. Is this not what we preach at each funeral? We are shackled to a chain gang of sin. Liberation is the cry of every man. Liberation is available only in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

My favorite song is probably Cash's rendition of "Long Black Veil." It tells the tragic narrative of an innocent man hung for committing murder.  The judge in the story tells the convicted man he did not have to die if he could prove his was somewhere else during the murder. But he did not speak because he was in the arms of his best friends wife. The long black veil is his unnamed mistress who visits him and cries over my bones. The tragedy is over how an innocent man was executed for a crime he did not commit because neither he nor his mistress was willing to confess their sin. This public sin remains private at great cost. Someone had to die in order to keep the secret hidden. It is amazing how far we fallen creatures will go to pretend to be what we are not. That, actually, is the real tragedy of the story.

"That Old Wheel," a duet with Hank Williams, Jr., is a reminder of sin and its consequences. "What goes around comes around," is its message. He also sings gloriously anticipating the Man who will come around in the eschaton. "Get Rythm" is a message about joy in spite of circumstances. And on and on we could go.

This is all to say that Cash, even in his worse of moments, was preaching a gospel. Rarely, outside of his gospel songs which he sang and recorded frequently, did he preach the full counsel of God, but there is no doubt his relevance and power was not in trying to be what the culture wanted him to be. He just was. He understood humanity in ways most poets, musicians, and preachers rarely grasp. He did not preached a message we wanted to hear, but preached a message that revealed who we really were. Perhaps this is why he had a heart for prisoners. His songs convinced many of them he was one of them even though he had never spent any real time in prison.* Cash's history of drug abuse and heart ache made him, at times, feel as if he were really one of them. And from the perspective of the gospel, he was. We are.

Pastors and theologians should take learn from Cash. Humans hide who they are, but we all know the truth about ourselves and those in our pews. Most pastors are busy trying to keep their job instead of fulfilling their calling. The message of the gospel, hinted at throughout Cash's career, is our job. If we would learn to pierce the hearts with a confrontation of the human dilemma and present a gospel that actually saves, instead of one that capitulates, we could change the world. Instead of a "Personal Jesus," perhaps we should preach how "God's Gonna Cut You Down" into a burning "Ring of Fire." However, the hope of such a lost soul is found in the "Mercy Seat" by which the "Amazing Grace" of God brought "Redemption" through the precious blood of "The Man in White."

"Where You There When They Crucified My Lord?" Yes you were. We all were. Preach it Mr. Reverend Black.

* Listen to the Folson Prison live album. Cash knew his audience. Virtually every song regards crime, prison, and punishment.

For more:
"Redemption" by Johnny Cash
"A Satisfied Mind" by Johnny Cash  

"Redemption" by Johnny Cash

Happy 81st Birthday 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

"A Satisfied Mind" by Johnny Cash

Happy 81st Birthday Johnny Cash.

How many times have you heard someone say
"If I had his money, I could do things my way"
But little they know that it's so hard to find
One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind

Once I was winning in fortune and fame
Everything that I dreamed for,
to get a start in life's game
Then suddenly it happened,
I lost every dime But
I'm richer by far with a satisfied mind

Money can't buy back your youth when you're old
Or a friend when you're lonely or a love that's grown cold
The wealthiest person is a pauper at times
Compared to the man with a satisfied mind

When life has ended and my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones will leave, there's no doubt
But there's one thing for certain when it comes my time I'll leave this old world with a satisfied mind

How many times have you heard someone say
"If I had his money, I could do things my way"
But little they know that it's so hard to find
One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind

All Around the Web - February 26, 2013

The Telegraph - Children and the culture of pornography: 'Boys will ask you every day until you say yes' | This is tragic. We can lay much of the blame at the feet of feminism.

There is a storm coming. I can feel it as I stand on a street corner in south London, thinking about my daughters. Lily and Rose are both 11 years old. One is crazy about dogs, the other loves owls. 
They are at that tender age when the hormones have begun to stir, and they could be stomping around the room like furious teenagers one minute but snuggling up for a cuddle the next.
The girls are fast approaching 13, the age that Chevonea Kendall-Bryan was when she leaned out of one of the windows on the fourth floor of a block of flats on this street. A boy she knew was down here on the ground, but this was not Romeo and Juliet. Far from it. 
Chevonea had been pressurised into performing a sex act on him, and he had shared a phone clip of her doing so with all his mates. She threatened to jump from the window if he did not delete it. Then she slipped and fell 60 feet to the ground, dying from massive brain injuries.

WORLD Magazine - Two mommies, one daddy, lots of confusion |

A Florida judge ruled earlier this month that a little girl conceived through artificial insemination can have three parents listed on her birth certificates—two mothers and one father, according to a report from the Christian News Network.   

While LGBT activists laud these types of decisions as a progressive step towards family “equality,” critics warn they represent an alarming overreach of court authority and the beginning of a very slippery slope for the future of the family.   

This ruling is the result of a three-year custody battle between Massilmiliano Gerina, the gay hairstylist who agreed to donate sperm for Maria Italiano and Cher Filippazzo, a lesbian couple who wanted a child. The three agreed verbally that Massilmiliano would relinquish parental rights to Italiano and Filippazzo. But shortly before the child was born, he changed his mind and contended in court for the right to have a role in her life.

Credo Magazine - How does John Piper respond to death threats? |

Credo magazine - Interview: Women, Slaves, and the Gender Debate |

At first blush, the title of your book puts together two topics that appear unrelated, “women” and “slaves,” both in the context of the “gender debate.” What is the connection?

The New Testament contains instructions to various individuals within the household structure.  For instance, in Ephesians 5-6 there are commands for wives to submit to their husbands, for children to obey their parents, and for slaves to obey their masters.  A newer egalitarian argument uses this connection to argue that the submission command to wives and the obedience command to slaves are both obsolete.

Russell Moore makes an interesting comment in his blurb for your book, “Some have argued that the Christian vision of gender complementarity will one day seem as horrifying as antebellum slavery views.” Why do you expect this will not or should not happen? What’s the difference between the fight for a slave’s emancipation and the fight for women’s equal participation in the functions of the church and the home?

This comparison seems persuasive when the complementarian position is seen as demeaning and oppressive to women.  However, the biblical view of manhood and womanhood is anything but oppressive to women.  Men are to lead, yes, but they are to lead sacrificially, for the good of others (see Ephesians 5).

In the fight to emancipate slaves, Christians rightly uphold the biblical doctrine that all humans are created in the image of God and should therefore be treated with respect and dignity and should not be owned by another person.  In the arguments for women’s equal participation in the functions of the church and the home, something very important is pushed aside—that is, the beautiful design of God for man and woman to be both equal and different

Live Action News - Houston cases display the baffling abortion double-standard |

First, last week a young woman filed a lawsuit against her parents, claiming that they were attempting to force her to abort the baby she is pregnant with. She is a minor, and wants to keep her child. It can be implied from much abortion-related legislation that the wantedness of a child is what determines its right to life.

This premise of ‘wantedness’ is what legitimizes the teen suing her parents: because she wants the child, the parents have no right to interfere with the baby’s right to life or its mother’s right to protect it. On the other hand, if the teen did not want the baby, then she could easily obtain an abortion (even if her parents did not approve, she could be almost guaranteed a judicial bypass in Texas).

This double-standard is evident in cases where criminals who kill women carrying wanted babies (such as Laci Peterson) are charged with the double-homicide of mother and child. An abortionist who commits an abortion on an unwanted child is not charged with any homicide, and is in fact protected by law. This is a double-standard, and it is culpably ignorant of the “what” of an unborn child: If it’s a human, it should be protected by law. ‘Wantedness’ does not magically morph a non-human into a human who deserves protection.

The takeaway: the right to life of the unborn is arbitrarily determined by whether or not it is wanted by its mother (and its mother alone).

Monday, February 25, 2013

"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review

I have a new personal rule. When watching a movie based on a book, I do not read the book before. I have learned that maybe outside of action scenes and emotions, the book is always better especially when it comes to character development, plot, and resolution. Furthermore, Hollywood writers, producers, and directors can rarely honor the book and the author's story because movies are expensive and the Box Office means everything.

So since the release of The Hobbit and since it will not be completely done until 2014, I will not be re-reading Tolkien's classic. However, that doesn't mean that I can't read his triology, The Lord of the Rings. I read the series in college (along with the Hobbit) before the third movie was released in theaters and loved them immensely. However, unlike most books-turn-movies, I struggle reading Tolkien's vision without seeing Jackson's art. And with the performance of Gollum and Gandalf in the movies, how can you not?

But there are a couple of thoughts I will say in review regarding the first book of the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring. First, Tolkien spends a lot of time in the Shire. The story moves slowly here. We are told of Bilbo and Frodo preparing for a party and Bilbo is a very old man. We are told that he is going to sneak away during the party and leave for good. He slips on the ring. Gandalf suspects. There's a long conversation. Bilbo leaves. Frodo returns too late to say goodbye. There's another long conversation about what Gandalf suspects about the ring. Gandalf leaves. He returns (17 years later!) and another long conversation pursues about the ring. They then leave the Shire.

Tolkien clearly loves the Shire and wants the reader to appreciate the world there. Throughout the books and the trilogy, the reader is reminded of this oasis-like place where simple folk live peaceful simple lives. There are family rivalries, but no wars and no fights. That is contrasted to the world of men where they are always at war, even with each other. That could be what we love most about this trilogy. It is four Hobbits from the Shire who must face down the enemy and carry the burden of the ring. The most innocent of creatures must carry the burden that is too great for fallen men. Tolkien wants us to regret having to leave the Shire and the Hobbits are hesitant to leave (Sam is even given a box of seed from Lothlorien for his garden when he returns to the Shire).

Secondly, the theme of racism this time of around was more prevalent. Gollum is hobbit-like, but we never quit figure out what he was or what he is. Dwarves and Elves hate each other. Gimli was almost not welcomed to Lothlorien and wouldn't have been if it wasn't for Elrond. Sauron is unaware, it seems, of what a Hobbit is or where the Shire is located. It is the Fellowship that is able to breakdown those barriers. It is made up of an old wizard, a ranger, a wanna-be prince (Boromir), an elf, a dwarf, and four hobbits. The mission to destroy evil once and for all breaks down those unnecessary barriers.

Thirdly, where are the women in middle-earth? Have you ever noticed that? The main women thus far are Galadriel, Aragorn's elvish girlfriend, and just a few others. I have a theory why. Most of the women in the trilogy represent peace. Galadriel, for example, is beautiful, and yet strong, heavenly and does not give into temptation (unlike Boromir, the man). Even Gimli is smitten with her (he asks for a string of her hair) and regrets continuing the mission as he wishes to remain near her and what she represents. It isn't until the third book where we meet a woman, to my knowledge, that anticipates, participates, and desires war. The characters of the story seek to return to the world that the women in the story represents.

Overall, this is a great story and a great book. You already knew that. These books have been analyzed by smarter people than me. The Fellowship of the Ring has always been the slowest of the trilogy, but it sets up the rest. In it Tolkien is in no hurry wanting the reader to experience Middle-Earth. The story picks up the pace from here.

Regarding the movie. Jackson and company made some big changes of course. Some of it might have been necessary (I can kind of sympathize with his reasoning for axing Tom Bombadil, one of my favorite characters who is quit mysterious) for a movie audience, some of it unfortunate (I like that Jackson explained the backstory of the ring at the beginning and not wait until the Great Council). In the end, enjoy the book and enjoy the movie. Its easy to do.

For more:
An Encouraging Thought: Gandalf on Providence

All Around the Web - February 25, 2013

Kevin DeYoung - How Can I Tell If I’m Called to Pastoral Ministry? |

1. Do I meet the qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1?
2. Do the Christians who know me best consistently affirm my gifts for ministry?
3. Do I like to teach all kinds of people in all kinds of settings?
4. Do I find myself stirred by good preaching?
5. Do I find myself stirred by bad preaching?
6. Do I enjoy being around people?
7. Do I make friends easily?
8. Do I like to read?
9. Have I thought about doing this for more than a few months?
10. Do I still want to be a pastor if I never write a book, never speak at a conference, and never have a big church?

Yahoo! News - Teen 'Jeopardy!' contestant gives the best Final Jeopardy! answer ever [Video] | This is pretty good.

Slate - The End of Barnes & Noble |

Barnes & Noble has put out a genuinely impressive performance over the past several years. Here you have a retail chain, originating from a bookstore in New York City, that saw its industry being disrupted and rather nimbly decided it wanted to make a piece of computer hardware. And—amazingly—the Nook is a pretty good piece of computer hardware. If the iPad and the Galaxy Tab and the Microsoft Surface and the Kindle Fire didn't exist, you'd say the Nook was a revolutionary device.

The problem is that it's not the best such device on the market. Or even the second best. Or even the third best. And while some industries have room for many global players (think cars—GM, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, Ford, Nissan, PSA, Honda, Renault, etc.) it looks like there's only room for two or three platforms in this game. And B&N doesn't have one. Today they announced that contrary to earlier reports, losses in the Nook division are going to grow this year rather than staying flat. And all sales across both the web and brick and mortar stores fell nearly 11 percent. They're doing an impressive job of staving off collapse in the face of massive disruption, but not good enough.

Religion News Service - Colbert the Catechist |

The Village Church - The Earth is Flat? | Does the Bible teach that the earth is flat?

Every single day learned meteorologists and astronomers speak about sunrises and corners of the universe. If we are going to claim that passages mentioning a rising and setting sun or corners and ends of the earth indicate a clear belief in a flat cosmology, let’s be prepared to level the same charge against the leading scientists of our day. Or are our best and brightest privy to the figurative language we deny the biblical poets?

To properly interpret the Scriptures, we must consider authorial intent. The purpose of passages affirming an immovable earth, for example, is to commend the steadfast love of God. It powerfully proclaims, “the love of the LORD is as solid and dependable and firm and constant as the ground upon which you stand and sleep and walk.”

As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12
So what if the earth is round and eventually east meets west? Does that make this psalm any less beautiful? Stand on the highest building or mountain around and locate an object at the very edges of your sight to the east. Now look as far to the west as you can and do the same. Is there a great distance between the two or not?

When you get beyond the use of figurative and didactic language, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the authors intended to portray a flat earth. Their intent in such passages is ultimately theological, much more than cosmological.

HT: Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hip-Hop Theology: Creation

Recent years has seen a revival of Christian hip-hop, but unlike the old days where rappers sang cheesy songs about killing demons, the new breed of gospel rappers mix sound theology, catchy lyrics, and excellent music. Artists like Trip Lee, Lecrae, Tedashii, and a host of others are putting out some of the best theology available and the fact that the music is top notch only makes it that much better.

As a result, I want to occasionally highlight a song or two that presents such theology. I want to begin with the doctrine of creation with two songs. The message of both songs is that creation is to bring us to awe. Creation is a reflection of the creator and Scripture is clear that to deny the Creator is to deny the obvious.

The first is from Propaganda, whose album "Excellent" is, well, excellent (in spite of some of the controversy associated with it), called "Lofty" featuring label mates Beautiful Eulogy.

The second comes from Beautiful Eulogy featuring Propaganda from their album Satellite Kite.

For more:
Listen to & Download Propoganda's Album "Excellent"
"Be Present" by Propaganda  
"Lofty" by Propaganda, Beautiful Euology & Joel
A Beautiful Eulogy  
Trip Lee - "War"
Listen To & Download Lecrae's "Church Clothes" For Free
Flame- The Great Deception
FLAME - Power [with Rap-Along lyrics]
Shai Linne: Triune Praise   
The Gospel Illustrated 
Some of Their Best: DC Talk
Listen to & Download Trip Lee's "One Hundred Sixteens" For Free
"The Good Life" by Trip Lee: A Review 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

LBJ: American Experience

I really love this PBS series on the Presidents. LBJ is one of my least favorite presidents, but this is an insightful documentary. They praise his very liberal, statist policies more than I like, but it is still good.

Watch The Presidents: LBJ on PBS. See more from American Experience.

For more:
Jimmy Carter: An American Experience
Clinton: An American Experience
HW Bush: An American Experience   

All Around the Web - February 23, 2013

Mark Coppenger (BibleMesh) - Who Put the 3:16 in John 3:16? |

Like the fellow who thought he’d be crossing visible longitude lines on his ocean voyage to Europe, some may think that the chapter and verse divisions were on the sheet when apostles such as John (or psalmists such as David) wrote down Scripture. But no, they wrote letters and poetry and Gospels and other history without numbering. Those markers were added centuries later. Indeed, when Jesus referred to Exodus 3:6 in Mark 12:26, He simply located it in “in the passage about the burning bush.” Neither the “12:26” nor the “3:6” were yet in place.
To make a long story short, biblical scholars were making divisions of one sort or another in the centuries following the books’ original composition, but it wasn’t until the early 1200s that we got our current chapter setup, thanks to Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton. As for the verses, Jewish scribes had already done work on the Old Testament around the year 900, and their work was wedded to Langton’s. But the Church had to wait another 300 years for its New Testament breakdown, performed by a French-born printer, Robert Estienne or Etienne (also know by the Latinized version of his name, “Stephanus”).

Mars Hill Church - 5 things about love I tell couples on their wedding day |

1. You are the biggest threat to your marriage
2. I hope this is the day you love each other the least
3. Extend grace, forgiveness, and encouragement to each other daily
4. Seek and recognize God’s mercy
5. The best day of your marriage was the day Jesus rose from the dead

USA Today - As U.S. birth rate drops, concern for the future mounts | We are aging because of abortion and the destruction of the family.

The drop in U.S. births to their lowest level since 1920 is sounding alarms about the nation's ability to support its fast-growing elderly population.

As public concern mounts, a growing number of books, reports and columns are laying out challenges the United States will face because of this demographic upheaval: Fewer babies are being born while the wave of 78 million older Baby Boomers have only begun to retire (the oldest turn 67 this year).

What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster, a book by Jonathan Last, went on sale this month. A University of Southern California study out last month reported an unprecedented decline in California's child population that "will pose significant challenges for the state's future prosperity."

The Hobbit Movie - Weta reveals effort required to animate Hobbit films |

Heart Heart Hand - 10 Foolish Obstacles to the Foolishness of Preaching |

1. Patchy grammar: Thankfully most people’s English education was as bad as mine and don’t notice too many of my grammatical faux pas, but there are always a few Grammar Girls (and boys) in every congregation. One misplaced preposition and down come the shutters.

2. Boring voice: Drone, groan, mumble, stumble, yawn. Is he trying to send us to sleep? Yet even the most attractive and varied voices eventually sound “meh” to regular hearers. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a different voice every week?

3. Pastoral mistakes: Sometimes we can make a blunder in a personal relationship, an email communication, or at a social occasion which prejudices a hearer’s mind against us for a long time or even forever. We could be preaching the best truth in the best way but we’re still the worst preacher they’ve ever heard because we stood on their toes somewhere along the line.

4. Text choices: Why does the preacher never pick my favorite texts? Why does he never preach from my favorite book? Why does he always preach from such simple texts? Why does he always preach from such difficult texts? I’m not going to listen until he preaches on…

5. Preaching style: There are probably hundreds of preaching styles: fast, slow, loud, quiet, teachy, preachy, passionate, reasonable, sad, happy, smooth, jerky, etc. We all have our peculiar preferences and rarely do we find such a peculiar preacher.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Meaning is Subjective: Trueman on Atheism & the Meaning of Everyhing

I'm not sure I can add to anything that Dr. Carl Trueman says here regarding how atheists don't take their "faith" (and it is faith) to its logical conclusion. Here Trueman is recounting a debate he had with an atheist. He begins:

The second moment came when a member of the audience asked how she, a homeschool mum struggling with depression, could be satisfied.  I answered that the Bible (and Augustine) indicate that life is tragic, a struggle in a fallen world, marked by moments of satisfaction but much frustration.  Sometimes life is just miserable, I said, but the hope of the resurrection will make all things right.

My interlocutor then answered that Russell would give a much more sensitive answer, that he would have stressed the value of what the lady was doing and that, in twenty years time she might well be satisfied when she sees what she has achieved.  He thus earned one of the few spontaneous rounds of applause of the night

The immediate problem with such an answer ought to be obvious. It is here where the Christian should be reminded of Solomon in Ecclesiastes. The big wall that ruins any meaning of life is death. Death makes everything meaningless. Money, power, fame, influence, wisdom, sex, alcohol, women, family, offspring, or even leaving an inheritance and a kingdom for his children. All of it is vanity because of death. The atheist misses this. Unless death is dealt with, as the Christian gospel claims to do, then nothing really matters.

Trueman adds:

This answer went to the heart of the problem which the evening highlighted: my interlocutor had spent much time deriding Christianity as providing a fairy story to make life bearable through its metaphysical myths, its 'pie in the sky when you die.'  Yet here he was, providing just such a fairy story.  The audience member may not live twenty years. She might be hit by a bus today or die of a heart attack or cancer next year.   She might live to a ripe old age but see her children grow up to be massive disappointments or to predecease her.  Why is 'pie in twenty years' time on earth' more plausible than the heavenly variety when it comes to satisfaction today?

More to the point - and this was a point to which we had come again and again during the debate, what basis had the man who said the following to claim that this mother was doing anything worthwhile at all?

That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins -- all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built.

On Russell's account, this mother is just one random bunch of atoms caring for some other random bunches of atoms.   If so, any meaning is purely subjective.   Why is satisfaction even an issue?  To says she does something worthwhile is to assume some kind of fairy story that gives dignity to the whole and.... simply makes life more bearable.  

This is one reason why I find atheism so implausible.  If Russell could dismiss Christianity in part because he had met so few Christians who seemed to take the faith seriously, I consider atheists to be much the same.   Do not tell me that we are a random bunch of atoms and then try to impose your myths on me.  Do not create a morality in your own image and then try to give it some objective, transcendent status.  A random world does not give privileged status to the moral myths of an upper class English proto-hippy.  Do not tell me that serial killers are morally worse than aid workers. At best, you might say that you find them personally more distasteful.  If you are an atheist, have the courage to take heed of the words of Nietzsche's Madman:

Have you ever heard of the madman who on a bright morning lighted a lantern and ran to the market-place calling out unceasingly: 'I seek God! I seek God!' As there were many people standing about who did not believe in God, he caused a great deal of amusement. Why! is he lost? said one. Has he strayed away like a child? said another. Or does he keep himself hidden? Is he afraid of us? Has he taken a sea-voyage? Has he emigrated? the people cried out laughingly, all in a hubbub. The insane man jumped into their midst and transfixed them with his glances. 'Where is God gone?' he called out. 'I mean to tell you! We have killed him, you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? --for even Gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife--who will wipe away the blood from us? With what water could we cleanse ourselves? What lustrums, what sacred games shall we have to devise? Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater event--and on account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history than any history hitherto!'--Here the madman was silent and looked again at his hearers; they also were silent and looked at him in surprise. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, so that it broke in pieces and was extinguished. 'I come too early,' he then said, 'I am not yet at the right time. This prodigious event is still on its way, and is traveling--it has not yet reached men's ears. Lightning and thunder need time, the light of the stars needs time, deeds need time, even after they are done, to be seen and heard. This deed is as yet further from them than the furthest star--and yet they have done it!'

I agree. Read the rest here.

Carl Trueman - On Manilow and Myths

For more:
Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head
Collision:  An Important Documentary About Faith and Atheism  
Atheism and Moral Relativistic Parenting: Touchstone Takes on Harris
Harris on the Science of Morality:  Nice Try But No Cigar  
Natural Morality:  The Disconnect Between Darwinism and Morality
Freud's Wish Fulfillment: Why Atheism Can't Explain Atheism
The Atheist Debates
Atheism Is Not Great - The D'Souza and Hitchens Debate
John Lennox: The New Atheism and the Gospel  Blogizomai -D'Souza: Are Atheists Cultural Christians
Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
Re: Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
"Atheism Remix" by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
"The Delusion of Disbelief" by David Aikman
"The End of Reason" by Ravi Zacharias
What's So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D'Souza 

All Around the Web - February 22, 2013

Dr. Russell Moore - An Evangelical Looks at Pope Benedict XVI |

With Pope Benedict XVI’s shocking resignation this morning, evangelical Christians might be tempted to see this the way a college football fan might view the departure of his rival team’s head coach. But the global stakes are much, much higher. As Pope Benedict steps down, I think it’s important for us to recognize the legacy of the last two bishops of Rome that we ought to honor and conserve: an emphasis on human dignity.

As a Baptist Christian, I disagree with Rome on many things, of course, and some of those things relate to the nature of the Petrine ministry, the relationship of the Bishop of Rome to the rest of the church, the merging of civil and ecclesial power, and so on. It might surprise previous generations of Protestants, though, that one of the primary emphases of the Vatican in the last generation has been on the dignity and liberty of the human person.

Eric Metaxas - What is Marriage? |

But according to authors of a great new book, we’re on the wrong track already if the marriage debate gets bogged down in the issues of love or rights, because marriage is founded on something far deeper. . . . 

Girgis, Anderson, and George say that on the one side is the traditional view, which they label the conjugal view. “The conjugal view of marriage has long informed the law—along with the literature, art, philosophy, religion, and social practice—of our civilization,” the authors write. “It is a vision of marriage as a bodily as well as an emotional and spiritual bond, distinguished thus by its comprehensiveness, which is, like all love, effusive: flowing out into the wide sharing of family life and ahead to lifelong fidelity.”

On the other side, they say, is what they call the revisionist view. They write, “It is a vision of marriage as, in essence, a loving emotional bond, one distinguished by its intensity—a bond that needn’t point beyond the partners, in which fidelity is ultimately subject to one’s own desires. In marriage, so understood, partners seek emotional fulfillment, and remain as long as they can find it.”

Friends, homosexuality is not mentioned in the authors’ description of the revisionist view of marriage, nor is it necessary. In fact, many heterosexual couples define their marriages exactly this way, summarized as, “as long as we both shall love.” The argument is not with homosexuality, per se, but with a misunderstanding of marriage that makes supposed gay matrimony just the next step in civil rights.

The Right Scoop - The new American dream: How the Entitlement Society just sucks you in and keeps you |

Dr. Denny Burk - 5 Things Every Daughter Needs to Hear From Her Dad | Amen amen.

Amen to this from Daniel Darling: 

 1) You are beautiful and you are loved…
2) Your mother is beautiful and she is loved…
3) You belong to God and were created for his glory…
4) You are forgiven…
5) You are accepted…

Justin Taylor - Top 10 Reasons the Church Is Losing Our Youth |
10.  The Church is “Relevant.”
9.  They never attended church to begin with.
8.  They get smart.
7.  You sent them out unarmed.
6.  You gave them hand-me-downs.
5. Community.
4.  They found better feelings.
3. They got tired of pretending.
2. They know the truth.
1. They don’t need it.

HT: 22 Things

Thursday, February 21, 2013

All Around the Web - February 21, 2013


Justin Taylor - An Interview with Lecrae on PBS |

Owen Strachan - The Children We Need Most Are the Ones We Don’t Want |

It’s no secret that in upwardly mobile America, Down syndrome babies are among the least unwanted children. Down syndrome babies will be termed things like “at-risk” by the medical community and are in serious danger of termination for several reasons.

It is true that children with this condition will have different challenges than some of their peers. But here’s what’s remarkable: these are the children who so consistently seem to have so much to give to the rest of us. This point was made by Beverly Beckham in a deeply moving essay in the Boston Globe recently. I encourage you to read every word, and see if you are not affected by this piece.

Jared Wilson - How Do We Cherish Virginity Without Moralistic Fearmongering? | Jesus was the rose!

Dr. Denny Burk - Not featuring enough gay animals? | This is just crazy but it doesn't surprise me.

This is not a joke. You really can’t make this stuff up. Here’s the report from the UK’s Independent

A university academic has criticised David Attenborough’s wildlife shows for not featuring enough gay animals.
Three of the veteran broadcaster’s shows are identified in a new study as perpetuating the notion that animal relationships are predominantly heterosexual.

Sean McDowell - What Is the First-Cause Argument for God’s Existence? |

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore the universe has a cause.

The first premise works from the simple logic that something now exists (our universe) and that something cannot spring from nothing. It’s true that the combination of things can produce new things—for instance, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen equals water—but that is not something coming out of nothing. The conclusion then is that whatever begins to exist has a cause—and the universe did indeed begin to exist.

The second premise, in part, makes its point from the second law of thermodynamics. That law states that the universe is expending all of its useful energy. So if the universe had no beginning—was infinitely old—then it would already have used up its useful energy. For example, our sun is burning its energy and will one day burn out. Therefore it, along with all the stars in the universe, had a beginning. (There is other scientific evidence that the universe began to exist, including the red-shift, the cosmic background microwave radiation, and the implications of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.)

The last premise builds on the previous two: the universe has a cause. The question then arises, “Who caused the cause?” We can derive our answer from the origins of time, space, and matter. It is logical to conclude that since time, space, and matter did not exist before the beginning of the universe, then the “cause” of the universe had to be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. Further, this “cause” could not be physical or subject to natural law, since that would presuppose that its existence involved time, space, and matter. These, taken together, lead us to conclude that this timeless, spaceless, immaterial “cause” was God

HT: The Blaze

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hump Day Humor: Pickpocketing

John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 1

An Introduction to the Life and Works of Scottish Reformer John Craig
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Introduction 
John Craig's Long Catechism: A New Translation - Chapter 1

1.    The Creation of Man, and his first estate of Innocence, without death and misery.

Question:  Who made man and woman?
Answer:  The eternal God in his goodness.

Q.    How did He make them?
A.    Of an earthly body, and an heavenly Spirit.

Q.    In whose image did He make them?
A.    In his own Image.

Q.    What is the Image of God?
A.    Perfect uprightness in body and soul.

Q.    To what end were they made?
A.    To acknowledge and serve their maker.

Q.    How should they have served him?
A.    According to His holy will.

Q.    How did they know His will?
A.    By His Works, Word, and Sacraments.

Q.    What liberty did they have to obey His will?
A.    They had free will to obey and disobey.

Q.    What profit did they have in their obedience?
A.    They were blessed and happy in body and soul.

Q.    Was this joy given to them only?
A.    No.  but it was given to them, and their posterity.

Q.    With what condition was it given to them?
A.    With condition of their obedience to God. 

Q.     Why was so small a commandment given?
A.     To show God’s gentleness, and to try man’s obedience.

Q.    What avails to know this joy loft?
A.    Hereby we know Gods goodness, and our ingratitude.

Q.    But we cannot come to this estate again.
A.    We come to better estate in Christ.

Q.    What should we learn of this discourse?
A.    That the Church was first planted, blessed & made happy, through obedience to Gods Word.

For more on Craig, Scottish Theology, and Knox:
"The School of Faith" by Thomas F. Torrance: A Review
"Scottish Theology" by T. F. Torrance: A Review
"John Knox: An Introduction to His Life and Works" - A Review
"The Mighty Weakness of John Knox" by Douglas Bond: A Review
"John Knox & the Reformation" by M. Lloyd-Jones & Iain Murray: A Review
"John Knox" by Rosalind K. Marshall
Douglas Bond on the Legacy of John Knox

For more on Calvin and Calvinism:
"Foundations of Grace" by Steven Lawson: A Review
Was Calvin a Calvinist?  Helm Weighs In
Counterintuitive Calvinism: Tim Keller on Calvin's Institutes 

For more on the Reformation:
"The Reformation for Armchair Theologians" by Glenn S. Sunshine: A Review
The Theology of the Reformers  
The Unquenchable Flame  
"On the Necessity of Reforming the Church" by John Calvin
John Calvin:  A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology 
Christianity's Dangerous Idea
"Five Leading Reformers"     
 Was Calvin a Calvinist?  Helm Weighs In 
He Turned the Water Into Wine: MacArthur, Alcohol, & Christian Liberty
Theology Thursday | Calvin on the Redemptive Necessity of the Resurrection
Calvinist Baptists and the Many (False) Misconceptions
"Without the Gospel": A Gem From John Calvin
Calvin on God in Theology and the Christian Life
Calvin on Providence
Calvin on Treasures in Heaven
Calvin on Fasting
Calvin on Prayer: Why Bother?

All Around the Web - February 20, 2013

The Point (John Stonestreet) - Life's Cost-Benefit Analysis | Bingo.

Once human value is reduced to purely economic terms, the step from rhetoric to action is pretty small. Today it’s the inconvenient elderly, tomorrow it’s the chronically or mentally ill, and the list goes on.

This is yet another reason why handing more and more of these types of decisions to government is disastrous for human value. Their calculator only adds numbers. A society with strong and healthy mediating institutions, especially the family and the church, will use a better measure

Gospel Coalition - Should We Baptist Infants? | A Good conversation between a baptist and a Presbyterian.

WORLD Magazine - Your Pastor Isn't a Pundit |

Many jobs require varied skills and knowledge. But only one job in the world requires expertise in theology, politics, finance, emotional disorders and counseling, parenting and family challenges, sex and romance, and usually some HR and operations skills, too. That’s right, the pastor. We expect him to be an expert on any pressing issue in our lives. “Pastor, who should I vote for?” “Pastor, my kid won’t listen to me.” “Pastor, why is the new Sunday school room painted taupe?”

Of course, I mean that we require all this from the position of pastor and thus the man holding the office. Pastors can glean deep wisdom from the Bible to help them sort through difficult issues and challenges. But while the Bible offers wisdom it doesn’t offer expertise, and the difference is significant. Certain passages can be looked to for clarity on specific issues and struggles, but just as often we put the pastor in a position demanding that he speak as a professional expert into an issue about which the wisest thing he could probably say is, “I don’t know.” One of the wisest things a pastor can do is to admit a lack of knowledge and refer people to someone better suited to help. If only we would let them do so

CBS New York - Physician-Assisted Suicide Measure Passes NJ Assembly |

The New Jersey State Assembly has voted in favor of physician-assisted suicide.

The measure passed by a vote of 7-2 with two abstentions.

The Death with Dignity Act would allow terminally ill patients to be prescribed medication that would end their lives.

The Blaze - Lesbian Couple, Gay Man Listed as Three Parents on Baby’s Birth Certificate | Welcome to the new world.

A Florida judge is allowing the names of three people — a gay man and two lesbians — to be included as the parents on a 23-month-old girl’s birth certificate.

According to Reuters, the decision by Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Antonio Marin is the end of a two year battle between the lesbian couple who used the man’s sperm to conceive the girl, but the man later wanted more of a part in the child’s life.

How the Pope is chosen: