Friday, July 31, 2015

Religious Liberty Panel Discussion Resources

This evening the church I serve as pastor, East Frankfort Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY, will be hosting a religious liberty paneled entitled "#LibertyWins: A Religious Liberty Panel" featuring Drs. Steve Weaver, Paul Chitwood, and Bryan Beauman. In anticipation of that event, I want to pass along a number of resources on religious liberty we will referencing or used in preparation of this event.

The Atlantic - Gay Rights May Come at the Cost of Religious Freedom

Ross Douthat (NY Timse) -  The Terms of Our Surrender

Andrew Walker - The Equality Act: Bad Policy that Poses Great Harms

TIME Magazine - Now’s the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions
 
Ryan T. Anderson - Why Is Religious Freedom At Risk?

CNA - LGBT grant-maker wants to win religious liberty fight within three years


All Around the Web - July 31, 2015


Carl Trueman - The Calvary Option?

Justin  Taylor - 6 Predictions about Evangelicalism over the Next 5 Years


Thom Rainer - Five Keys to an Incredible Greeters’ Ministry

The Gospel Coalition - 3 Things to Look for in a Youth Minister

TIME - The 1 Most Interesting Thing We Just Learned About Twitter


The Difference Between Planned Parenthood and ISIS

From Doug Wilson:
This is one difference between ISIS and the Democratic abortion rights coalition, one that shows that the latter is trying to do their dirty business in a society that still has a residual conscience. Both are willing to pursue their respective beheadings, the former because they believe Allah wills it and the latter because Mammon beckons with a Lamborghini. But in both cases, someone has their head chopped off. That part is similar. But ISIS beheadings are usually done on a beach in broad daylight in order to strike fear in the hearts of their adversaries. Planned Parenthood beheadings are done out of sight because they think that if all the baby parts were to be sold publicly, people might come away with the wrong impression.
He then concludes:
But Planned Parenthood doesn’t stop there. There is is ready money to be made after the magic choice. There’s gold in them there thoraxes.  And, as mentioned, Obama’s DOJ is acting like a band of ayatollahs stoning the rape victim, opening up an investigation designed to punish the righteous and cover for the guilty. These are the people that we chose to run the country.

William Wilberforce put the central moral dilemma before us this way. “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”


Thursday, July 30, 2015

We Are All Descendents of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - Introduction

We Are All Descendents of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - Introduction


In his book On the Shoulders of Hobbits Louis Markos reveals the relationship between narrative and theology and why we need a proper understanding of both. He writes:
Though the restoration of theology and philosophy to their proper place is essential and primary, it needs to be accompanied by something else that will embody and incarnate it in the life of each individual citizen. For Western civilization has lost more than those laws, creeds, and doctrines on which it was built; It has lost as well the sacred drama that gave flesh and bone to those ‘naked’ creedal statements. We need the truth, but we also need to know how to live in and through and by that truth.

What we need, in short, are stories. (10-11)
The relation between narrative and theology is evident both biblically and experimentally. The primary sources on Jesus are predominately narrative yet it would be inaccurate to suggest that the Four Gospels are simply a collections of stories. They are, in a real sense, works of theology. It is also true that our lives - our stories - are a reflection of our theologies. The decisions we make, the friends we choose, the words we speak, and the bridges we burn are a reflection of per-conceived theological conclusions.

This is the real beauty of fiction. By drawing us into another world, the author is drawing us to consider theology. In recent years, this idea has repeatedly been made evident in the classic works of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. These two deeply religious men wrote masterful works of fantasy that were as much a reflection of their theology as it was their creativity.

There is another classic, more ancient work that reveals the relationship between narrative and theology that is increasingly gaining more attention: Beowulf. This is the first in what will be a series of posts on the theology of Beowulf which, I believe, centers on the anthropological conclusion that we are all descendents of Cain like the monsters of the story.

Admittedly, we are here today discussing Beowulf because of the work of JRR Tolkien. Not only did he incorporate portions of Beowulf in his Middle-Earth stories (like Smaug the Dragon) but he was the first significant figure to draw our attention to the old English tale. He did so in a major lecture a year before publishing the Hobbit.

In recent years my love for Beowulf has grown immensely and I find myself reading and studying it over and over again. I love the story, the writing, the role it has played in both Tolkien and Lewis, and the theology behind it.

Before we explore its theology, it will be best to examine the story's significance and its narrative. To that we turn to next.


For more:
"Beowulf": A Review
A Shrewd Apologetic: Doug Wilson's Take on Beowulf
Beowulf: Resources and Links
Clash of the Gods: Tolkien's Monsters Documentary

All Around the Web - July 30, 2015

Joe Carter - She's Having a Fetus

Darrell Bock - The Bible and Same-Sex Marriage: 6 Common But Mistaken Claims

The Gospel Coalition - On My Shelf: Life and Books with Danny Akin

Huffington Post - Scalia Gets It Pretty Much Right

Don Whitney - Six Reasons to Pray the Bible



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

From Lewis's Pen: Pure Pelagianism/Augustinianism

From Letters to Malcomb:
The real problems are different. is it our faith that prayers, or some prayers, are real causes? But they are not magical causes: they don't, like spells, act directly on nature. They act, then, on nature through God? this would seem to imply that they act on god. But god, we believe, is impassible. All theology would reject the idea of a transaction in which a creature was the agent and God the patient.

It is quite useless to try to answer this empirically by producing stories - though you and I could tell strange ones - of striking answers to prayer. We shall be told, reasonably enough, that post hoc is not propter hoc. The thing we prayed for was gong to happen anyway. Our action was irrelevant. Even a fellow-creature's actin which fulfills our request may not be caused by it; he does what we ask, but perhaps he would equally have done so without our asking. Some cynics will tell us that no woman ever married a man because he proposed to her: she always elicits the proposal because she has determined to marry him.

In these human instances we believe, when we do believe, that our request was the cause, or a cause, of the other party's action, because we have from deep acquaintance a certain impression of that party's character. Certainly not by applying the scientific procedures - control experiments, etc. - for establishing causes. similarly we believe, when we do believe, that the relation between our prayer and the even is not a mere coincidence only because we have a certain idea of god's character. Only faith vouches for the connection. No empirical proof could establish it. Even a miracle, if one occurred, "might have been going to happen anyway."

Again, in the most intimate human instances we really feel that the category of cause and effect will not contain what actually happens. In a real "proposal" - as distinct from one in an old-fashioned novel - is there any agent-patient relation? which drop on the window pane moves to join the other?

Now I am going to suggest that strictly causal thinking is even more inadequate when applied to the relation between god and man. i don't mean only when we are thinking of prayer, but whenever we are thinking about what happens at the Frontier, at the mysterious point of junction and separation where absolute being utters derivative being.

One attempt to define causally what happens there has led to the whole puzzle about Grace and free will. You will notice that Scripture just sails over the problem. ‘Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling’ – pure Pelagianism. But why? ‘For it is God who worketh in you’– pure Augustinianism. It is presumably only our presuppositions that make this appear nonsensical. We profanely assume that divine and human action exclude one another like the actions of two fellow-creatures so that ‘God did this’ and ‘I did this’ cannot both be true of the same act except in the sense that each contributed a share.

In the end, we must admit a two-way traffic at the junction. At first sight, no passive verb in the world would seem to be so utterly passive as 'to be created'. Does it not mean 'to have been nonentity'? Yet, for us rational creatures, to be created also means 'to be made agents'. We have nothing that we have not received; but part of what we have received is the power of being something more than receptacles. (48-50)

All Around the Web - July 29, 2015

Ross Douthat - Looking Away From Abortion

Charles Krauthammer - Planned Parenthood Video Is Game-Changer

Canon and Culture - History as a Guide to Contemporary Debates

Denny Burk - President of Planned Parenthood did her cause no favors

Yahoo! - Online symptom-checkers are often wrong


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"The Deity of Christ": Blogging Through Morgan and Peterson - Introduction

"The Deity of Christ": Blogging Through Morgan and Peterson - Introducing a New Series
"The Deity of Christ": Blogging Through Morgan and Peterson - Introduction


Why is the doctrine of Christ's deity so important? In their book The Deity of Christ, Drs. Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson offer the six following reason taken from Ronald Tacelli's book Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions:
  1. The divinity of Christ is the most distinctively Christian doctrine of all.
  2. The essential difference between orthodox, traditional, biblical, apostolic, historic, creedal Christianity and revisionist, modernist, liberal Christianity is right here.
  3. The doctrine works like a skeleton key, unlocking all other doctrinal doors of Christianity.
  4. If Christ is divine, then the incarnation, or “enfleshing” of God, is the most important event in history.
  5.  There is an unparalleled existential bite to this doctrine. For if Christ is God, then, since he is omnipotent and present right now, he can transform you and your life right now as nothing and no one else possibly can.
  6. If Christ is divine, he has a right to our entire lives, including our inner life and our thoughts.
This thesis is repeated in Dr. Millard Erickson's book Christian Theology. There he writes:
The study of the person and work of Christ is at the every center of Christian theology. For since Christians are by definition believers in and followers of Christ, their understanding of Christ must be central and determinative of the very character of the Christian faith. Consequently, particular care and precision are especially in order in the doing of our Christology. (678)
What we believe about Christology informs what we believe about everything else. Consider the few examples given below.
Theology Proper - If Christ is God, then this will inform us on the magnitude of the incarnation, it proves the Trinity, and Christ truly becomes the Word.
Creation - Christ, as God, plays/played a role in creation. Thus he always has and remains its Lord.
Anthropology - If the body has no value, then why was Jesus incarnated bodily (in contrast to the docetics) and raised bodily (in contrast to liberalism and other heresies)? 
Hamartiology - If Christ must be born of a virgin, then original sin corrupting every man makes sense.
Soteriology - Why did Christ come? If He for sinners, then our only hope of salvation is Him. How did He bring salvation? Our interpretation of the atonement explains what we believe about justification, sanctification, glorification, and the rest.
Ecclesiology - If Christ is Lord and Head over the church, then our church polity, structures, and mission is defined by Him. We seek His Kingdom and glory, not ours awaiting the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Eschatology - Christ returns and sets up His eternal Kingdom. Anything short of that is heretical eschatology.
None of this should surprise us. Christian theology should make much of Christ. He is the hub of the wheel; the center of it all.

All Around the Web - July 28, 2015

Carl Trueman - The Coming of the Age of Gibberish

Russell Moore - Why I’m Hosting Presidential Candidates

Kevin DeYoung - Ten Proposed Commandments for Christian Parenting

Komo News - Ruling: State can force pharmacists to dispense Plan B

ABC News - Two Moms, One Dad, Two Babies Make One Big Happy Polyamorous Family


The Gospel Coalition - Are We on the ‘Wrong Side of History’?

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Bonhoeffer - Student Edition" by Eric Metaxas: A Review

[Christians] must give up . . . the very two questions that led them to deal with the ethical problem: "How can I be good?" and "How can I do something good?" Instead they must ask the wholly other, completely different question: "what is the will of God?" . . . All things appear as in a [warped] mirror if they are not seen and recognized in God. (179)

Several years ago Eric Metaxas published the bestseller Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. The book was considerably large which made the success puzzlingly. Prior to its publication, most could not pronounce Bonhoeffer, let alone tell his story. The opposite can be said now. 

Due to the books success, Thomas Nelson has released a student edition of book entitled Bonhoeffer Student Edition: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Though I am a fan of the German theologian, I must admit my hesitancy of picking it up. Like most "student edition" books, I assumed it would have been the same book just shorter. Yet it is anything but that. 

When it comes to reading biographies, it has been my experience to start off with a simple book on someone who know very little about before digging into the more detailed accounts. Though I was familiar with Bonhoeffer's story, I had not invested in a full biography of the man. Thus when I read Metaxas's larger work, I was a bit overwhelmed.  

For those new to Bonhoeffer, this is the a helpful book to invest in. It is a much simply book to read adn follow. Almost every page has side bars which guide the reader even further in the narrative. Most of the names and events are in bold which are further explored in the back. Given that most of the names are German, this is helpful to every American reader unfamiliar with the territory. 

Ultimately, I would highly recommend this book to any student of history and Bonhoeffer. Metaxas has once again published a book on the man worth your investment.  


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.”


For more:
"Bonhoeffer" by Eric Metaxas: A Review
"The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Review 
Bonhoeffer: Don't Try to Make the Bible Relevant
Metaxas and Piper on Bonhoeffer
Promoting Bonhoeffer: Eric Metaxas on the Glenn Beck Show

All Around the Web - July 27, 2015


The Gospel Coalition - 3 Occupational Hazards for Pastors

Tim Challies - Why Bloggers Are Calling It Quits

Don Whitney - How to Stop Praying the Same Old Things

Justin Taylor - Just How Sovereign Is God?

Washington Post - Why half of the life you experience is over by age 7


Friday, July 24, 2015

Martin Luther on Justification

From Luther's Table Talk, #257
This article, how we are saved, is the chief of the whole Christian doctrine, to which all divine disputations must be directed. All the prophets were chiefly engaged upon it, and sometimes much perplexed about it. For when this article is kept fast and sure by a constant faith, then all other articles draw on softly after, as that of the Holy Trinity, etc. God has declared no article so plainly and openly as this, that we are saved only by Christ; though he speaks much of the Holy Trinity, yet he dwells continually upon this article of the salvation of our souls; other articles are of great weight, but this surpasses all.

All Around the Web - July 24, 2015


Joe Carter - 3 Reasons Why It’s Nearly Impossible to Defund Planned Parenthood

Washington Post - Liberals have won a series of victories on social issues. Most Americans aren’t thrilled about it.

Thom Rainer - Seven Things Search Committees Should Do After the Pastor Is Selected

Adrian Warnock - John MacArthur and John Piper on their very different experiences of depression

Ask Pastor John - Why We Must Understand the Temple in God’s Plan Today (Episode 645; Carson)


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Christianity and the Small Screen: "Smallville"

"Somebody save me."

Those are the first words of the theme song (performed by Remy Zero) of the CW's "Smallville." The show is the story of how a crashed-landed Krytonian alien adopted as a Kansas farm boy, Kal-El/Clark Kent, became the infamous Superman. Going into the 10 season show, the executive producers agreed there would be no "no tights, no flights" at all - a decision that bothered a lot of Superman fans.

In this review, I wish to offer a few general words about the show while at the same time look at some of the themes that I, as a Christian, noticed. In terms of the show, one must remember when it was produced. The first episode aired on October 16, 2001. Budgets for cable shows were much smaller and the age of blockbuster superhero movies and TV shows were yet future. In one early episode, one character grabs her laptop and proceeds to get online via dial-up. Anyone remember those ancient days?

With that said, the show was an entertaining one even though it was saturated with drama and love triangles. We all know that Clark Kent ends up with Lois Lane, but that relationship doesn't come until much later. Clark is constantly falling in and out of love with Lana Lang among others. When Smallville focused on the main narrative and villain of each season (like Bizzarro, Doomsday, General Zod, Braniac, etc.) it was at its strongest. But too often it got sidetracked by drama and needless character conflict.

Nevertheless, for fans of Superman, this is a must watch show even though it is a considerable commitment - 10 seasons consisting of 218 episodes.

In regards to specific themes worth highlighting consider the following.


External Redemption

Many are quick to highlight a number of parallels between Superman and Jesus. I am sympathetic to that reasoning, but no doubt it has its holes. As the theme song indicates, Clark Kent is a savior-like character. He constantly saves "damsels in distress," his friends, family, his hometown, Metropolis, and even his enemies. The first persons he saves is ironically Alexander (Lex) Luthor.

One of the strongest parallels between Christianity and Kal-El regards external redemption. Smallville constantly reminds us that we all need to be both saved and to be saved by someone other than ourselves. Superman is an alien sent to this earth to be its savior. That is similar to the incarnation where, Christ comes, not from a distant planet, but from heaven itself in order to save sinners.

In order to be saved, we need someone outside ourselves to save us. The culture tells the opposite story boldly proclaiming that salvation is found within us. If we learn anything from this story, let us learn of the importance of external redemption.

Yet Clark cannot save everybody. One episode is particularly instructive in this regard. The Kent family essentially adopt (not legally) a young man with a troubled past named Ryan. In the eponymous episode, Ryan is dying of cancer. Clark stops at nothing to find a cure even tracking down a doctor who had some success in fighting against Ryan's particular cancer. He is ultimately unsuccessful and Ryan dies. The message is clear: Superman can't save everyone; he is not omnipotent.

This is a powerful reminder of why we need the God-man and not just a Kryptonian. Clark Kent might be able to fight Lex Luthor and Braniac, but he cannot defeat death. Only Christ can - and has - do(ne) that.


Adoption

Another major theme is that of adoption. One of the main premises of the show is that what makes the future superhero great is his adoptive parents. Even after his parents leave the show, Kent remains the boyscout because of their ongoing influence. In the last half of the series, they explore what it would have been like had Clark been adopted by Lionel Luther. Needless to say, he would have turned out different - not a hero, but a villain.

In this story is an exploration of the importance of manhood/fatherhood. Clark discovers his biological dad and thus struggles with his identity. Yet through it all, his understanding of what it means to be a man - and not just a human - comes from his adoptive father. The numerous scenes of Jonathan Kent teaching Clark and sharing with him wisdom are precious. In an age where manhood is rated "sexist" and fathers are either absent or absentminded, this is a welcomed part of the show.


Lying

One of the negative aspects of the show regards truth-telling - or the lack there-of. Clark is told by his parents and others to hide his identity. At the root of the growing hostility between Clark and Lex Luthor is this issue. Lex knows Clark is hiding something (how did this young high schooler save him from that crash?) but Clark refuses to tell him the truth. This puts a strain on their relationship. The two go from close friends to arch enemies.

But Clark lies to more than just the Luthor's. Every girl in the show is deceived as is all of his friends. The reasoning is obvious and simple. How would you respond knowing that the person sitting in class next to you is really an alien crashed on earth disguised as a common farm-boy? Could you be trusted with that information?

Later in the series they explore what would happen if Clark's secret was discovered. In this episode, Clark reveals his identity and results in both he and everyone he loves (especially Lois and Chloe) being hunted down by the government. The producers constantly reminded the audience why deception was crucial to Clark's success.

In Season 6, Clark explains why lying is sometimes best to Lois. His reasoning (consistent with the show): so long as it protects the people you love, it is the right thing to do. Lois Lane (who remains in the dark as to who Clark really is until the end) responds, "That is totally retarded." On this debate I side with Ms. Lane. What I would do if I discovered my best friend was a alien remains a mystery, but to rationalize deception under the guise of protection is done everyday and all it does is destroy relationships.


Christian Overtones

Finally, as hinted at above, there are numerous and repetitive Christian overtones throughout the series. This is inevitable as Superman is often portrayed as a godlike or Christlike figure. In the shows Pilot, Clark hangs as a scarecrow in the middle of a corn field clearly paralleling the crucifix. Even the cover of the season 1 DVDs portray Clark as a Christlike figure hanging from that "cross." In the Season 7 episode "Quest," Clark is asked if he knew what it was like to be worshipped while sitting in a church.

The overtones are found throughout the series. Kal-El's real father is given a god-like voice. There are Judas characters. Lex is a type of Satan character as seen in the prophetic caves. There are deaths and resurrections. Etc.

The show also explores theological and spiritual themes - a truth that runs through many comic narratives. In the Season 5 episode "Splinter" the professor and Clark debate the true nature of humans. Are we inherently good or evil? In "Lexmas" the archnemesis of Superman concludes that the key to happiness is money and power.


Conclusion

Overall, Smallville was an enjoyable show that is great for Superman fans, but the show has numerous weaknesses. Outside of the major characters, the casting was weak. The special affects were a few years behind and now look cheesy and cheap. The acting isn't the greatest and the stories are repetitive at times without cohesion. And then there were the endless love triangles and drama. Oh the drama!

But the show has many strengths. The beauty of comic book series is how natural they explore humanity, truth, and justice. The hero is constantly asked to do more than "save the day." The producers were strained a bit in telling their story and could have had more success had the seasons been shorter. Nevertheless, its Superman. Its hard to go wrong there.


For more:
Christianity and the Small Screen: Fox's "House, M. D."
Christianity and the Small Screen: NBC's "Crisis"

All Around the Web - July 23, 2015

Kirsten Powers - Crush Planned Parenthood

 
Russell Moore - Planned Parenthood at the Cross

Joe Carter - 10 Numbers You Should Know About Planned Parenthood

Denny Burk - Planned Parenthood Indicts Itself with Euphemized Press Release

Eric Metaxas - A Demonic View of ‘Dignity’


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

From Lewis's Pen: A New Festoon

From Letters to Malcomb:
. . Thy will be done – by me – now” brings one back to brass tacks.

“But more than that, I am at this very moment contemplating a new festoon. Tell me if you think it a vain subtlety. I am beginning to feel that we need a preliminary act of submission not only towards possible future afflictions but also towards possible future blessings. In know it sounds fantastic; but think it over. It seems to me that we often, almost sulkily, reject the good that God offers us because at that moment we expected some other good. Do you know what I mean? On every level of our life, – in our religious experience, in our gastronomic, erotic, aesthetic and social experience – we are always harking back to some occasion which seemed to us to reach perfection, setting that up as a norm, and depreciating all other occasions by comparison. But the other occasions, I now suspect, are often full of their own new blessings if only we would lay ourselves open to it. God shows us a new facet of the glory, and we refuse to look at it because we’re still looking for the old one. And of course we don’t get that. You can’t at the twentieth reading, get agin the experience of reading Lycidas for the first time. But what you do get can be in its own way as good.

“This applies especially to the devotional life. Many religious people lament that the first fervours of their conversion have died away. They think – sometimes rightly, but not, I believe always – that their sins account for this. They may even try by pitiful efforts of will to revive what now seem to have been the golden days. But were those fervours – the operative word is those – ever intended to last?

“It would be rash to say that there is any prayer which God never grants. But the strongest candidate is the prayer we might express in the single word encore. And how should the Infinite repeat Himself? All space and time are too little for Him to utter Himself in them once.

“And the joke, or tragedy, of it all is that these golden moments in the past, which are so tormenting if we erect them into a norm, are entirely nourishing, wholesome, and enchanting if we are content to accept them for what they are, for memories. Properly bedded down in the past which we do not miserably try to conjure back, they will send up exquisite growths. Leave the bulbs alone, and the new flowers will come up. Grub them up and hope, by fondling and sniffing, to get last year’s blooms, and you will get nothing. ‘Unless a seed die . . . (26-27)

All Around the Web - July 22, 2015

Sam Allberry - Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian

The Gospel Coalition - 6 Things Christians Can Do About Same-Sex Marriage

LifeWay - 5 Lies Preachers Believe about Preaching

David Schrock - The Maleness of Christ: A Typological Necessity with Vast Ethical Implications

Gizmodo - Hackers Threaten to Expose 37 Million Cheating AshleyMadison Users


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"The Deity of Christ": Blogging Through Morgan and Peterson - Introducing a New Series

As I have said before, there are different types of books. Some are not worth the paper they are printed on; others are worth barely a glance; some should be surveyed but not digested. Then there is a final category. There are some books that should be devoured and slowly read. On this blog I have tried to offer a few books I have found worth devouring and slowing taking in.

Last week I finished my latest series blogging through DA Carson's book Collected Writings on Scripture and you can find those links below. Thus this week I want to introduce the next book: The Deity of Christ edited by Drs. Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson. In this post I want to offer a few reasons why it is worth blogging through.

First, I have had the blessed opportunity of having Dr. Morgan as a professor. The class was on the theology of the church and was extremely helpful. Morgan is a competent and gifted scholar. I know less of his co-editor but Morgan's work (much of it as an editor) is worth investing in. He is most known for his work on the doctrine of hell, but he has contributed to subjects such as theodicy, the glory of God, and other works.

Secondly, the deity of Christ is under assault today. On the liberal side, the deity of Jesus is openly denied. On the conservative side, Jesus is a sort of inhuman superman. This book points us in the right, orthodox direction.

Thirdly, Christology is the hub of Christian theology. That should be obvious, but it is often missed. Jesus is the center of prolegomena, creation, theology proper, anthropology, hamartiology, ecclesiology, soteriology, and eschatology. Thus we must get our Christology right.

Fourthly, why wouldn't we want to study the doctrine of Christ. He is the most written about (God-)man in history. Some hate him. Many love him. As a Christian we ought to look forward to diving deeper into our Lord and Savior - the Son of God.

So here we go. I hope to join us moving forward as we walk through this next work.


For more:
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - Introduction 
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - The Canonization of Scripture
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - The New Hermeneutics
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - Faith and Practice
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - Walter Bauer Thesis
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - Progressive Revelation
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - On Redaction Criticism
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - Final Word on Redaction Criticism
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - On Perspicuity

All Around the Web - July 21, 2015

Denny Burk - Why the President of Planned Parenthood’s apology doesn’t work

Preachers and Preaching - Online Theological Resources

Eric Metaxas - The Planned Parenthood Video

Associated Press -  AP Poll: Sharp divisions after high court backs gay marriage 

Thom Rainer - Six Thoughts about Proper Pastoral Attire for Worship Services 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Free eBook - "Jesus in the Present Tense" by Warren Weirsbe

Today and tomorrow, the good folks at David C. Cook Publishers are offering the book Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ by Warren Weirsbe as a free digital download. Here is the description from the publisher:
In Jesus in the Present Tense, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explores the “I AM” statements of God—from His burning bush conversation with Moses, to His powerful reassurances to the Israelites, to Jesus’s startling claim to be the Light of the World.

Many Christians find themselves mired in past regrets or future fears, but the name of God itself reminds readers that God wants them to live in the present. The more readers understand and apply God’s I AM statements from the Old and New Testaments, the more they will realize God’s peace and joy. Then they will be free to live, serve, and know God more richly in the present tense—which is just where He wants them to be.

Deal of the Day - "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp

Though I have never read the book, my wife read and loved this book and so I want to pass it along here. Today and tomorrow, Amazon has the book One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann Voskamp available for just $1.99.

Here is the publishers description:
Following the New York Times Bestseller, One Thousand Gifts -- a guide to giving thanks and finding joy in all aspects of life -- Ann Voskamp returns with this companion One Thousand Gifts Devotional. How in the world do we find real joy and experience grace in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and all these daily duties?

These sixty reflections, each one like a singular tree, invite you to take wing into a forest of graces. Glimpses of grace that will lead you into your own lifestyle of Christ-focus and communion. Into how your desperate need of Him every moment is wildly met with His extravagant love for you. As practical as profound, this devotional offers real life transformation with intentional space to begin the radical habit of thanking God for your own one thousand gifts.

The endless grace of our overflowing God, it's meant to be experienced directly. The most important thing is simply to begin.

Pick up a pen and this book -- and change your life.  Take the dare to fully live!

God's just waiting to bless you with the greatest gift of all—more and more of Himself....

Lyndon B. Johnson: American Experience

Earlier today I posted a review of Charles Peters's biography of LBJ. Below is the American Experience documentary on LBJ that is excellent.

"Lyndon B. Johnson" by Charles Peters: A Review

History has gradually taken a kinder view. The title of the last volume of Robert Dallek's biography of Johnson, Flawed Giant, expresses the verdict increasingly adopted by scholars. It seems likely that history will rank Johnson in the group of presidents just below the top tier of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. Of those in the next tier, which certainly includes Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Theodore Roosevelt, Johnson most resembles Jackson, another crude frontiersman whose noble stand against Nullification was marred by his terrible treatment of the Cherokee Nation. (159)

It is a personal goal of mine to read at least one serious biography on every President of the United States (you can find the completed books and their reviews below). While surveying the biography section of our local library I came across Charles Peter's biography of President Lydon B. Johnson and thought it worth the investment.

Peters's biography is part of the American Presidents's series which offers a short, but serious biography on each of the forty-four Presidents. From my experience, the volumes in this series are excellent. I would consider Peters's work among the the weaker of biographies.

First, the good. Peters is successful in accomplishing what this series seeks. It is a biography that explores just the facts. Little interaction with debates, opinions, etc. is offered. This is not an academic work where the author praises him/herself for discovering new papers that sheds new light on the subject. Peters's tells us the story of LBJ. This fact alone makes it (and the rest of the series) a great place for those new to LBJ to start.

Yet the above quote is why I consider Charles Peters's biography flawed. Johnson, regardless of the liberal spin, does not belong in the second-tier of Presidents. It is true that he was clouded by Camelot. He is also unfortunately lumped in with the narrative of his successor: Richard Nixon. LBJ was a strong armed politician as much as Nixon was a crooked on.

It is true that Johnson offers a legislative record unlike most presidents. This, however, does not make him a great president. Passing laws is not to be praised if they are poor laws and Johnson passed many of them. I am in agreement with Calvin Coolidge that it is better to veto bad laws than to pass good ones. Yes the Civil Rights law ought to be praised, but LBJ's Great Society and War on Poverty should not be. Peters is wrong when he proclaims:
If there was a failure of the Great Society, it was a failure to face underlying problems. Medicare, by doing nothing to reform the fee-for-service system, left in place a major contributor to the ever-escalating cost and inefficient delivery of health care. Johnsons's education bill failed to confront the issue of teacher quality, which only grew in importance as bright women found opportunity in other professions and as too many teacher-training institutions continued to resist improvement. In the 1960s, however, few spoke up about these matters, and not enough have spoken since to bring about the reforms that are needed. If there is blame, it is far from being Lyndon Johnson's alone. and there can be no doubt that his Great Society, whatever its flaws, has done great good for this country. (111)
I do believe there is doubt regarding the Great Society. Poverty has not decreased the way LBJ promised. It is difficult to suggest the 60s produced a better (let alone a Great) society.

Ultimately, we should see that the biography is mostly fair, but not completely without bias. The author is clearly a fan of the late President but does avoid writing a hagiography. So in short, Peters's offers the LBJ story even though it has its flaws.


For more biographies on the Presidents:
President Barack Obama - "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama: A Review
President George W. Bush - "Decision Points" by George W. Bush
President Bill Clinton - "The Natural" by Joe Klein: A Review 
President George H. W. Bush - "41" by George W. Bush: A Review
President Ronald Reagan - "Ronald Reagan" by Dinesh D'Souza 
President Gerald Ford - "Gerald R. Ford" by Douglas Brinkley: A Review
President Richard Nixon - "The Greatest Comeback" by Pat Buchanan: A Review
President Lyndon B. Johnson - "Lyndon B. Johnson" by Charles Peters: A Review
President John F. Kennedy - "Killing Kennedy" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard: A Review
President Dwight D. Eisenhower - "Ike: An American Hero" by Michael Korda: A Review
President Calvin Coolidge - "Coolidge" by Amity Shlaes" A Review
President Abraham Lincoln - "Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage"
"The Preacher and the Presidents" by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy: A Review
"The First Family Detail" by Ronald Kessler: A Review
"Double Down" by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann: A Review


American Experience Documentaries:
Woodrow Wilson: An American Experience
Dwight Eisenhower: An American Experience
Richard Nixon: American Experience
Jimmy Carter: An American Experience
Ronald Reagan: An American Experience
George HW Bush: An American Experience  
Clinton: An American Experience


For more:
"Rawhide Down" by Del Quentin Wilber: A Review
Coolidge: Men Do Not Make Laws
"Watergate": A National Geographic Documentary
"Saving Ronald Reagan" Documentary

All Around the Web - July 20, 2015


Rich Lowry - The Grotesque Business of Planned Parenthood

Kevin DeYoung - Jesus Loves the Little Children

Justin Taylor - The Urban Legend that Thomas Jefferson Believed in a Wall Separating Church and State

Ligonier - Scotland’s Protestant Martyrs: Helen Stirk

Politico - Oregon bakery that refused to make gay wedding cake raises $352K


Friday, July 17, 2015

The "Disposition of Fetal Remains": The Hijacking of Language Continues

I believe the reason progressive ideology continues to, well, progress is the result of their lordship of language. The average American is tired of political correctness and its ongoing encroachment of the freedom of speech. Yet what is happening with political correctness is more than the feminization of the culture. The hijacking of language is how the left promotes its ideology.

To promote sexual anarchy by suggesting people should be able to have relationships with whoever and however they want to will not sell. Try telling a concerned father that his daughter should enroll in an overpriced class at the local university that promotes polyamory, transgenderism, and bondage as sexual expression will be a difficult sale. But pound the word "love" and people will listen and buy into all sorts of sexual shame.

The abortion advocates have done the same. The unborn child is never referred to as a baby or even as a human, but as a fetus or as tissue. They are described as being pro-"choice" in spite of the unborn's ability to choose. The left does not advocate choice, but filicide.

Words have meaning. When the left advances morally questionable behavior, they change the language.

This was illustrated by the Associated Press (AP) in their coverage of the documented allegations that Planned Parenthood sells the organs of infants aborted by means of partial-birth abortion. The AP originally described the video as "the disposition of parts from aborted fetuses." Here is the first line in the original article:

Anti-abortion activists on Tuesday released an undercover video showing a senior Planned Parenthood official discussing the disposition of parts from aborted fetuses.(source: Newsbusters)
Again, note the language. It is easy for the average reader to gloss over the language, but what it describes is truly horrifying. What the AP describes as "the disposition of parts from aborted fetuses" is the profiteering on the part of Planned Parenthood of infant organs murdered by means of partial-birth abortion.

The AP later described it as the "disposition of fetal remains." Of course the AP isn't the only news outlet or progressive organization to sabotage the language in order to soften the story. This is what the left does. Instead of speaking honestly about the subject, the language is massaged in their favor.

But it is imperative that we continue to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. The unborn are being slaughtered everyday and now we learned they are being harvested for profits. Language has meaning and we must not redefine what is really happening here.


For more:
My New Book: "The Death of Death" Now Available 

All Around the Web - July 17, 2015

Carl Truman - Congratulating Planned Parenthood

Joe Carter - The Sale of Fetal Body Parts is Gruesome—But It’s Also Legal

Packer - A Brief Bibliography of the Writings of J. I. Packer

Ligonier - The Significance of the Sinlessness of Jesus

Jim Daily - Seven Things You Should Know About the Oregon Bakers


Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Few Thoughts on Planned Parenthood Selling of Infant Organs

Unless you live under a rock propagandized by the left, you are aware of the video produced by The Center For Medical Progress featuring the Senior Director of Medical Services of Planned Parenthood, Deborah Nucatola, openly discussing their practicing of harvesting and selling the organs of aborted children. The left continues to defend an organization that sells the organs of children executed by means of partial-birth abortion which involves the removal of the brain while the head of the child is outside the womb.

In light of this earth-shattering news, many have offered their take of what this means. Obviously, the Evangelical community is outraged and speechless of the video. What I find even more despicable is how the left continues to defend this violent organization.

One of the best articles I've read on the subject comes from Doug Wilson. In his article Ghouls, Wilson makes 7 points some of which are worth highlighting here.
4. Embrace their inconsistency. Lean into it. Press it. This is because our nation is profoundly schizophrenic on this issue, and their inconsistency must be pressed hard, especially now. In other words, everyone is outraged because the body parts were sold to traffickers, instead of being thrown into the dumpster. Got that? Our nation wants to retain its self-respect on this issue through arbitrary legalisms. But surely the heart of the crime is the murder itself, and not the disposal of the body?
He's exactly right! The real crime is the murder in the first place. To dispose of "fetal remains" by either throwing it in the dumpster (which is the usual practice) or by selling the organs of the aborted image bearer is to add insult to injury.

He goes on to say:
6. Now would be a good time for a bunch of people to get down off their high horse on any matters concerning the Confederate battle flag. If you voted for Obama (twice), the most pro-abort president we have ever had, a man who is an ardent supporter of Planned Parenthood, an organization that we now see practices (illegal) partial birth abortions, which preserve more marketable pieces, an organization which chops babies into pieces and then sells them off for ready money, then you are the problem. You want to do all this feeling morally superior to Robert E. Lee? I am not defending the sin of any past generations, but it seems to me that moralistic fury from this generation is more than a little bit out of place.
His point here is a valid one. Beyond what one thinks about the Confederate Flag, surely we can agree the taking of human life is worth greater outrage than the removal of historic symbolism. I do not own a confederate flag and have no plans to ever do so. The racism prevalent throughout the Union (and not just the South) was/is despicable but here we are talking about the dismemberment of infants! Is it too much to ask our "progressive" culture to be at least as outraged by the harvesting of infant organs for profit than it is over the rebel flag?

His final point is a call to repentance:
7. The way out is repentance. The only way out is to turn from sin, and turn to Jesus Christ. America needs to take a lesson from what the Lord said to another nation with a heart of stone.

“Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? They are not humbled even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers” (Jer. 44:9–10).
There is an important lesson regarding this seventh point. It is not enough for us as Christians to point out our national sins without directing our hearers to the Savior. To be prophetic, which we must do when addressing the public square, is to call people to repentance.

There are two other points that need to be made not raised by Wilson. First Planned Parenthood's history makes this anything but shocking. Its founder, Margaret Sanger, was a racist feminist hated the poor and believed birth control and abortion ("planned parenthood") was necessary to weed out the unwanted in society. In other words, Sanger favored eugenics and saw Planned Parenthood as an institution that was to carry that out. Though Planned Parenthood has a large budget and is beloved by the entire left, Sanger's vision continues to be realized through them. Planned Parenthood continues to prey on the poor, racial minorities, and the handicap and instead of our promised Utopia, we have been given decades of blood.

Finally, we cannot separate pro-choice advocacy from the sexual revolution. Do not expect your neighbor to hold to traditional sexual ethics while at the same time believing a woman is lord over the fate of her unborn child. The abortion clinic is Plan C. If contraceptives and the Plan B pill do not prevent pregnancy, there is always Planned Parenthood.

We cannot separate sexual anarchy from the culture of death. Artemis demands sacrifice. Unfettered and unfiltered fornication demands we offer Moloch our children. And to profit from their hearts and kidneys is, well, icy on the cake.

Make love. Not families.




Doug Wilson - Ghouls


For more:
My New Book: "The Death of Death" Now Available
Abortion Remains the Greatest Racial Threat We Face Today
A Must Read: 9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood
An Important Read: Abortion Rate and New York Law
Eugenics in the Present Tense: The Reality of Eugenics in America Today - Part 1

All Around the Web - July 16, 2015

Russell Moore - Planned Parenthood and the Atrocity of Corpse-Selling

Russell Moore - Are We Exiles?

The Gospel Coalition - Same-Sex Marriage Will Affect the Pews Before the Pulpit

Eric Raymond - The Devil is in the Details

Jeremy Bouma - Nonexistent Pastor Theologians Have Led to Theological-Ecclesial Anemia

John Stonestreet -  STDs and Swimming with Sharks


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

From Lewis's Pen: Not a Manichean

From Letters to Malcolm:
Oh for mercy's sake. Not you too! Why, just because I raised an objection to your parallel between prayer and a man making love to his own wife, must you trot out all the old rigmarole about the "holiness" of sex and start lecturing me as if I were a Manichean? I know that in most circles nowadays one need only mention sex to set everyone in the room emitting this gas. But, I did hope, not you. Didn't I make it plain that I objected to your image solely on the ground of its nonchalance, or presumption?

I'm not saying anything against (or for) "sex." Sex in itself cannot be moral or immoral any more than gravitation or nutrition. The sexual behaviour of human beings can. And like their economic, or political, or agricultural, or parental, or filial behaviour, it is sometimes good and sometimes bad. And the sexual act, when lawful - which means chiefly when consistent with good faith and charity - can, like all other merely natural acts ("whether we eat or drink etc.," as the apostle says), be done to the glory of God, and will then be holy. And like other natural acts it is sometimes so done, and sometimes not. This may be what the poor Bishop of Woolwich was trying to say. Anyway what more is there to be said? And can we now get this red herring out of the way. I'd be glad if we could . . . (14-15)

All Around the Web - July 15, 2015

Joe Carter - Oregon Allows 15-year-olds to Get State-subsidized Sex-change Operations—without Parental Consent

The Gospel Coalition - On My Shelf: Life and Books with Tom Schreiner
  
Practical Shepherding - How should a pastor respond to an encouraging word said about his sermon?


Denny Burk - Wheaton staffer announces support for gay relationships

Ed Stetzer - An Embarrassing Week for Christians Sharing Fake News



HT: Justin Taylor

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - On Perspicuity

"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - Introduction 
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - The Canonization of Scripture
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - The New Hermeneutics
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - Faith and Practice
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - Walter Bauer Thesis
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - Progressive Revelation
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - On Redaction Criticism
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - Final Word on Redaction Criticism
"Collected Writings on Scripture": Blogging Through Carson - On Perspicuity


The chapter I most looked forward to reading in DA Carson's book Collected Writings on Scripture was his final chapter on the perspicuity (or clarity) of Scripture. It is unfortunate, I believe, that orthodox evangelicals have failed to emphasize this bibliological doctrine. We do so to our peril especially in our postmodern society.

Carson begins his chapter stating the following:
The question raised by the title assigned to this essay is of enormous importance, for both a general and a particular reason. the general reason is perennially pressing: one can talk endlessly about the centrality of Scriptures, the authority of Scripture, the truthfulness of Scripture, and so forth, but none of this has more than theoretical interest unless some form of responsible doctrine of claritas scripturae . . . can be sustained. (179)
I agree!

Before surveying Carson's brief survey of both the biblical and historical evidence, this point needs to be emphasized. As I have argued elsewhere on this site (see the links below) the real debate in the Reformation was not over sola fide or over sola scriptura, but over perspicuity.

The reason is simple: the Roman Catholic Church stands on a denial of perspicuity. If Scripture is not clear, then either a recognized authoritative figure or council of figure-heads need to interpret Scripture for the rest of us. This explains the apparatus of the Papacy, church councils, and emphasis on traditions. To the Romanists, common Christians cannot be trusted with Scripture because they would corrupt true doctrine.

Perspicuity undermines all of this while at the same time strengthens and explains Protestant theology. Instead of emphasizing tradition, Luther emphasized the priesthood of all believers. Zwingli preached expositionally because he was confident in Scripture's perspicuity. The Bible was translated into vernacular languages because Scripture is clear.

There is no Reformation without perspicuity.

Now it is under attack by the rise of postmodernity. Postmodernism flinches at clarity and truth statements. To the postmodernist orthodoxy is dangerous and arrogant. Therefore a clear (no pun intended) defense of perspicuity ought to be a priority among theologians.


For more on perspicuity:
The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 1
The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 2
The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 3
The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 4
The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 5
The Real Divide: Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 6
"The Clarity of Scripture": A Sermon Preached by Kevin DeYoung

All Around the Web - July 14, 2015


Jason K. Allen - Rediscovering Charles Spurgeon

John MacArthur - Why I Love the Church

New York Times - Why a Greece Deal Matters

The Hobbit Blog - Hobbit first edition doubles sales record

National Geographic - Why Do We Call Them the 'Dog Days' of Summer?




HT: Douglas Wilson

Monday, July 13, 2015

"On the Shoulders of Hobbits" by Louis Markos

In our public schools today, there are only three virtues taught: tolerance, multiculturalism, and environmentalism. Really, there is only one: inclusivism or better, egalitarianism - all people and ideas should be treated the same; all cultures are equally valid; man is not distinct from nature but merely another species. These modern "virtues" are not, in and of themselves, negative, but when they become the be-all of moral and ethical behavior, they become idols that blind us from our true nature and purpose. When all other virtues are reduced to a bland egalitarianism, our humanity is likewise reduced to a colorless, passionless, amoral existence. If we to pull ourselves out of this lowest-common-denominator world, then we need a fresh infusion of story: one that will propel us back into the full romance of living. If our children are to successfully steer a course between the Scylla of standardless relativism and the Charybdis of purposeless existentialism, then they will need to be guided by transcendent truths embodied in universal stories. (120)

Even a cursory survey of this site will reveal a real passion for the works of CS Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. The imaginary worlds they created stand, I believe, as some of the greatest literary works of the 20th Century. As such I eagerly cracked the spine of Louis Markos's wonderful book On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue With Tolkien and Lewis.

Unlike other similar books, the author does not offer simplistic insights and applications from Tolkien and Lewis. Instead, Markos walks the reader to the power of stories in general and Tolkien and Lewis in particular. We are all wrapped in a story and the author shows why the worldview evident in Middle-Earth and Narnia is one that should be celebrated.

The three sections worth highlighting here regard the classic virtues, the theological virtues, and evil. The classical virtues include self-control, courage, wisdom, and justice. The author takes us inside the worlds of Tolkien and Lewis to show us numerous examples of each. The theological virtues include faith, hope, and love which are, in many ways, related to the classical virtues.

Finally, the author looks at evil. In my own reading of Lewis and Tolkien, I have taken a particular appreciation of their worldview here. Being the father of a little girl, I have noticed a weak understanding of evil in the classic Disney films. Tolkien and Lewis, on the other hand, offer a more real, robust, and accurate understanding of what evil is and where it is to be found. Markos explores this even further in a way that helps us to better understand the world we live in.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. I didn't know for sure what to expect but was very pleased with the books contents. For fans of both Tolkien and Lewis, you will thoroughly enjoy re-exploring their world again with Markos as your guide. I know I did.


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


For more:
"Exploring J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit" by Corey Olsen: A Review
Why Fantasy is a Good Thing: A Response to John MacArthur
"The Hobbit" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Two Towers" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Return of the King" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
A Few Thoughts on The Battle of the Five Armies
Longing for Eden: Tolkien's Insight into the Longing of Every Human Soul
An Encouraging Thought: Gandalf on Providence
How to Read J. R. R. Tolkien
Clash of the Gods: Tolkien's Monsters Documentary
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Dramatized Audio
"Beyond The Movie": A National Geographic Documentary on the Lord of the Rings 

All Around the Web - July 13, 2015

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About the Confederate Flag Controversy

Cripplegate - Protecting your church from SSM lawsuits

Justin Taylor - What about Those Who Have Never Heard of Jesus? A Classic Illustration from Francis Schaeffer

Preachers and Preaching - Preachers on Preaching

Credo House - What Happened to the Emerging Church?


Friday, July 10, 2015

Carl FH Henry on the Transcendence of the Gospel

This is one of my favorite stories of church history. In his autobiography, Confessions of a Theologian, Carl FH Henry wrote:
When Karl Barth came to America for a few lectures at University of Chicago Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary, George Washington University made a belated effort to bring him to the nation's capital. Barth was weary, but volunteered for an hour's question-answer dialogue. The university invited 200 religious leaders to a luncheon honoring Barth at which guests were invited to stand, identify themselves and pose a question. A Jesuit Scholar from either Catholic University or Georgetown voiced the first question.

Aware that the initial queries often set the mood for all subsequent discussion, I asked the next question. Identifying myself as Carl Henry, editor of Christianity Today, I continued: 'The question, Dr. Barth, concerns the historical factuality of the resurrection of Jesus.' I pointed to the press table and noted the presence of leading reporters representing United Press, Religious News Service, Washington Post, Washington Star, and other media. If these journalists had their present duties at the times of Christ, I asked, was the resurrection of such a nature that covering some aspect of it would have fallen under their area of responsibility? 'Was it news,' I asked, 'in the sense that the man on the street understands news?'

Barth became angry. Pointing at me, and recalling my identification, he asked, 'Did you say Christianity Today, or Christianity Yesterday?' The audience—largely nonevangelical professors and clergy—roared with delight. When countered unexpectedly in this way, one often reaches for a Scripture verse. So I replied, assuredly out of biblical context, 'Yesterday, Today, and Forever.'

For more:
"Recovering Classic Evangelicalism" by Gregory Alan Thornbury: A Review
"The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism" by Carl FH Henry: A Review 
The Reservoir & Conduit of Divine Truth: Carl FH Henry on Revelation   

All Around the Web - July 10, 2015

Hershael York - Two Readings of Scripture, Two Views of Jesus

Doug Groothius - The Philosophy of Gender

Price Economics - How Did President Zachary Taylor Actually Die?

Western Recorder - Ky. bill protects religious figures, organizations from performing gay marriages

Church Law and Tax - 4 Questions from the Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Ruling


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Which Comes First New Birth or Faith: Thoughts on Spurgen - Part 3

Which Comes First New Birth or Faith: Thoughts on Spurgen - Part 1
Which Comes First New Birth or Faith: Thoughts on Spurgen - Part 2
Which Comes First New Birth or Faith: Thoughts on Spurgen - Part 3


In the previous two posts in this series we have responded to the following often-used Spurgeon quote from non-Calvinists:
If I am to preach the faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. Am I only to preach faith to those who have it? Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinner.
This quote is taken from The Warrant of Faith (preached on September 20, 1862; you can listen to it here) and in this isolated quote, it appears that Spurgeon contradicts the "I" in the Calvinist acronym T.U.L.I.P.  In light of this quote, we have explored the question did Spurgeon deny effectual call?

Before giving a final answer, let us consider more evidence. First in the sermon Regeneration the Prince of Preachers states:
And now we must say, that regeneration consists in this. God the Holy Spirit, in a supernatural manner—mark, by the word supernatural I mean just what it strictly means; supernatural, more than natural—works upon the hearts of men, and they by the operations of the divine Spirit become regenerate men; but without the Spirit they never can be regenerated. And unless God the Holy Spirit, who "worketh in us to will and to do," should operate upon the will and the conscience, regeneration is an absolute impossibility, and therefore so is salvation. "What!" says one, "do you mean to say that God absolutely interposes in the salvation of every man to make him regenerate?" I do indeed; in the salvation of every person there is an actual putting forth of the divine power, whereby the dead sinner is quickened, the unwilling sinner is made willing, the desperately hard sinner has his conscience made tender; and he who rejected God and despised Christ, is brought to cast himself down at the feet of Jesus. This is called fanatical doctrine, mayhap; that we can not help; it is scriptural doctrine, that is enough for us. "Except a man be born of the Spirit he can not see the kingdom of God; that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." If you like it not, quarrel with my Master, not with me; I do but simply declare his own revelation, that there must be in your heart something more than you can ever work there. There must be a divine operation; call it a miraculous operation, if you please; it is in some sense so. There must be a divine interposition, a divine working, a divine influence, or else, do what you may, without that you perish, and are undone; "for except a man be born again, be can not see the kingdom of God." The change is radical; it gives us new natures, makes us love what we hated and hate what we loved, sets us in a new road; makes our habits different, our thoughts different, makes us different in private, and different in public. So that being in Christ it is fulfilled: "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new."
Spurgeon is clearly teaching that regeneration precedes faith. The same is found in another sermon entitled The Necessity of Regeneration:
The Graces which appear at the very dawn of the Gospel in the heart are wholly above the reach of man. The Gospel says, “Repent.” The unregenerate man loves his sins and will not repent of them. He presses them to his bosom and until his nature is changed, he will never look upon them with abhorrence and sorrow. The Gospel says, “Believe; cast away all confidence in your own merits and believe in Jesus.” But the carnal mind is proud and it says, “Why should I believe and be saved by the works of another? I want to do something myself that I may have some of the credit for it, either by good feelings, or good prayers, or good works of some kind.” Repentance and faith a re distasteful to the unregenerate—they would sooner repeat a thousand formal prayers than shod a solitary tear of true repentance! They would sooner work their way to Heaven even if they had to pass through Hell itself to get there, than come and simply receive salvation for nothing as the gift of God by Jesus Christ. Brothers and Sisters we must be born-again because the Truth of the Gospel cannot be understood and the commands of the Gospel cannot be obeyed except where the Spirit of God works regeneration in the heart!
This is the language of a Calvinist that affirms (and preaches) irresistible grace. He is clearly teaching that the unconverted cannot see or hear the gospel in order to respond unless the Spirit regenerates the heart producing faith.

More evidence of the above can be presented. Consider also his sermons, Predestination and Calling and Effectual Calling which are direct defenses of this Calvinist doctrine (see also this article at Founders).

Conclusion

What are we to conclude then? First, it is intellectually dishonest for non-Calvinist to pull one quote out of volumes of Spurgeon's sermons and writings and proclaim that Spurgeon denied effectual calling. That is simply not true.


Secondly, we should not be surprised by the quote above. Spurgeon was an unapologetic Reformed Baptists whose sermon conclusions read like a Billy Graham crusade. Spurgeon begged his readers to embrace the gospel and to exercise faith. To Spurgeon (and to most Calvinists throughout history) the preacher must call on sinners to repent. To some, this is contradictory, but to Spurgeon this was fulfilling his calling as a minister of the gospel who affirmed the totality of Scripture.

In the end, this is another example of how one's biases can easily shape their reading of history. I first came across the above quote in an anti-Calvinst book. The sloppiness in which one would present Spurgeon as an argument against Calvinism is consistent with the books contents. If one does not hold to Reformed theology, that is fine. Certainly there are strong arguments against Calvinist soteriology. But in doing so, make good arguments; not sloppy ones.