The Church of England’s Church Commissioners have gone green, investing £150 million with former US Vice-President Al Gore’s environmentally minded investment firm, Generation Investment Management.Kids, sometimes junk science truly pays.
On Nov 18 the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith reported that in late September the Commissioners had placed the funds with Gore’s boutique management firm which follows an “environmentally sustainable global equities mandate.” Funding for the investment came from “cash and Treasury bills”, he said, and not from the sale of UK equities as initially planned.
In Oct 2007 Mr Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in raising awareness of the potential threats from climate change. Generation Investment Management was founded in 2004 by Mr Gore and David Blood, former head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and had almost £5 billion under management before the market collapse.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal prosecutors in New Mexico believe they may be the first to use a 2004 law to charge someone with killing a fetus while causing the death or injury of the mother.
Charges against Frederick Beach, accused of beating his pregnant girlfriend to death, include one under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. U.S. Attorney Greg Fouratt said his office's research found "no other case in the country in which that section (of law) has been charged," the Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday.
Attorneys for Beach, 37, said they expect to pursue any available legal challenges.
"We may be breaking ground on a new area of law," said defense attorney Amy Sirignano. "We're not sure where that will lead us."
Beach pleaded not guilty last week to killing a fetus and to first-degree murder and child abuse charges.
He is accused of beating to death Verlinda Kinsel, 29, in September and killing the fetus she had said was his. Authorities say the victim's 9-year-old son witnessed the assault.If convicted, Beach faces life in prison.
The case is being prosecuted in federal court because Kinsel was killed on the Navajo reservation.
The Unborn Victims of Violence Act stemmed from the abduction and murder of a pregnant woman, Laci Peterson, in California in 2003. The law makes it a crime to kill a fetus in utero at any stage of development while committing another federal crime; it does not require the perpetrator to know the woman was pregnant.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
From the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, WHYY and NPR present Handel's holiday masterpiece performed by the "Fabulous Philadelphians" — one of the world's great orchestras, joined by the nationally-renowned Philadelphia Singers Chorale. Acclaimed British choral master Richard Hickox conducts.Read (and listen to) the whole thing HERE.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I received an IPod from my wife for Christmas. You are probably thinking that I am woefully behind the technological curve and you are right. But I am catching up. Anyway, I am loving it. There are so many free sermons and lectures for download. Covenant Seminary, Monergism mp3s, Desiring God, Al Mohler and others have great resources. You can link to all of those and more in the "audio" section of this blog. Check it out!
Can't wait to be back at COS and the pulpit in a few days. I will be preaching from Psalm one on January fourth. The next Sunday I will be preaching a message on prayer to kick off Prayer Week 09. Phil Ryken will be our special guest on Monday evening of that week. It will be a blessing to have Dr. Ryken in the pulpit. On January 11th I will begin a series of messages called "The Gospel-Driven Church." I am excited about the vision that God is going to form in us during those days.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
For many years, on many issues, I have seen myself as a man of the centre left; I am embarrassed at the inability of those whom I have admired on so many issues to hold to any kind of moral hierarchy onwhich issues really count. Even if I were not an evangelical Christian, I'd like to think I could see which is the more important matter: stopping the international child sex trade or getting Melissa Etheridge a marriage certificate.Read the entire post HERE.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that the day is probably not far off when those who regard homosexual practice as wrong will be consistently presented as the moral, cultural and intellectual equivalents of white supremacists. Al Mohler
(who seems to have spent the whole week writing or speaking on the issues of Lisa Miller and Rick Warren) has pointed out that this issue is set to shatter any possibility of traditional, biblical Christians being considered cool. You can have the hippest soul patch in town, and quote Coldplay lyrics till the cows come home; but oppose homosexuality and the only television program interested in having you appear will soon be The Jerry Springer Show when the audience has become bored of baiting the Klan crazies. Indeed, evangelicals will be the new freaks.
We're staying in Dayton, Ohio tonight. By the way, if you're ever in Dayton during meal time don't eat at Tumbleweed. Let's just say that the good folks of Ohio should steer clear of trying to cook Southwestern cuisine.
I hope to get access to wireless once or twice over the next week. If so I will check in. But if I don't get a chance then everyone have a great Christmas.
Friday, December 19, 2008
A vocal faction of believers, grumpy about Christmas gone wild, insist that Christians should get a theological grip.
"Christmas is being marginalized every day of the year, when pastors fail to preach who Christ really was," says Michael Horton, who blasts these trends in his new book, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church.
Christmas without the specter of the cross, without awareness that this is a baby born to die for mankind's sins, is a fancied-up fraud, says Horton, professor of theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, and associate pastor at Christ United Reformed Church in Santee, Calif.
Dr. Mohler writes:
Now here is an interesting point. The protest against Rick Warren is that he is an opponent of same-sex marriage. But when Candidate Obama was asked to define marriage during the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency, he appeared to leave no room for same-sex marriage: "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian -- for me -- for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union." When asked follow-up questions by Warren, Obama endorsed civil unions and opposed a constitutional amendment protecting marriage as a heterosexual institution.
So, what's the difference? Well, as Obama indicated, he is "a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans." Even as he defined marriage in a way that apparently excluded same-sex marriage, he steadfastly refused to do anything to prevent same-sex marriage. Most pointedly, he opposed California's Proposition 8 whereas Warren publicly endorsed it. Before the election, the Obama campaign also provided a message from Michelle Obama expressing hope for the eventual acceptance of same-sex marriage.
In other words, the gay rights community knows that the President-elect will be a reliable friend when it comes to policy. The President-elect virtually promised to do nothing to prevent or slow down the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Read the entire post HERE.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Gina Dalfonzo at Breakpoint's The Point blog:
A coalition of pro-choice organizations has sent Barack Obama and his transition team a document titled “Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration,” which has been posted on the president-elect’s website.
The document “urge[s] the next President to articulate and implement a vision for a new, commonsense approach to the nation’s and the world’s pressing reproductive health needs,” and outlines the actions they would like to see him take toward that end — including improving access to abortion worldwide, increasing funding for comprehensive sex education and defunding abstinence-only programs, pushing for the Freedom of Choice Act, and appointing pro-choice judges and government officials.
The Obama website is accepting comments on this document. Click here to read it and to give your opinion.
. . . in a world without God, the will of the strong creates (or nullifies) the personhood of the weak. . . . And the awesome thing is that we endow her will not just with sovereignty over her unborn baby, but with the authority to define it: If she wants it, it is a baby, a person. If she does not want it, it is not a baby, not a person. In other words, in our laws we have now made room for some killing to be justified not on the basis of the rights or crimes of the one killed, but decisively on the basis of the will, the desire, of a stronger person. The decisive criterion of personhood and non-personhood, what is right and wrong, what is legal and what is illegal, is the will of the strong. Might makes right. Might makes personhood. Might makes legal. This is the ultimate statement of anarchy. It is the essence of the original insurrection against God, and against objective truth and right and beauty.
No culture can survive this kind of anarchical thinking indefinitely. Part of the remedy is to spread the truth: Might does not make right. Desire does not define duty. Wanting does not create worth. All of us know intuitively that if someone desires our destruction, that desire does not justify our murder. We know this. We should say it over and over again.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
- John 1:1-5
By inspiration of the Holy Spirit the four gospel writers begin their accounts at different places in time. Matthew and Luke take us back to the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus. Mark waits to begin his gospel account with the launching of Jesus’ public ministry. John, on the other hand, begins before the foundations of the earth. In this way John immediately offers us an eternal perspective on Jesus. It is not as if the other gospel writers do not give us an eternal perspective. However, John’s interest is to introduce us to Jesus from above.
He begins by explaining that the One whom we would come to know as Jesus is, in a wonderfully mysterious way, a part of the eternal godhead. In fact the doctrine of incarnation presupposes the prior existence of Christ and His divine status. As Donald Macleod writes, “the New Testament presentation of the incarnation always starts from above, with the pre-existence and deity of Christ. Only then does it go on to tell us that this specific Person, God the Word, became flesh.”
John’s very first words, “In the beginning”, would have been a widely known phrase among the Jews of that day. They are, after all, the first words in the Bible; the first words of the books of Moses. As we will be revealed, John is writing about a new beginning so he uses words which recall the first beginning. He goes on to use other words that are prominent in Genesis 1 such as “light” and “life” and “darkness”. These verses form, in a way, the account of the new creation that is dawning in the Lord Jesus. And like the first creation this new creation is brought about not by some subordinate being. It is brought about through the agency of the very Son of God.
God the Son is referred to by John as “The Word.” It is a curious title to us. But to Jews of that day it would have resonated. “In the Old Testament God’s Word is his powerful self-expression in creation, revelation, and salvation” (Carson, 116). That is, through the power of His Word God creates, He reveals Himself, and He saves His people.
By taking on the title “the Word” God is demonstrating that it is in His very nature to reveal Himself. We reveal what we are thinking largely by what we say. And in Jesus God is speaking a living Word to us. God is not to be thought of as aloof or indifferent. He reveals Himself. He makes himself knowable. But He reveals himself as he chooses. God is sovereign in revelation as in all else.
Two things that we are told about the Word is that the Word was with God and was God from the very beginning, or arche which means origin. The context demands that we see this use of arche as referring to eternity. And so this Word, which became flesh in the person of Jesus, had existed in the embrace of the Father from all eternity.
Only Jesus can adequately reveal God to us because Jesus is the living Word of God who has been with God from all eternity. But we’re also told, just so that there is no confusion, that the Word “was God.” That is not to say that at some point he ceased to be God. It is merely emphasizing the fact that the Word has been God for as long as He has been with God: from all eternity.
The Word was not merely invested with divinity. The Word was, is, and ever shall be very God of very God. Keep in mind that John, a faithful Jew, would never have departed from strict monotheism; the belief in one God. So the Spirit is saying something very profound about God. Notice the strange literary structure. How can the Word be with God and be God at the very same time? Only the Trinity answers that question.
In practical terms what it means for Jesus to be the eternal Word of God is that only Jesus is capable of telling us the full truth about God’s character, God’s works, God’s decrees, and God’s plans. Siddhartha Gautama cannot tell us the truth about God. Muhammad cannot tell us the truth about God. Zoroaster cannot tell us the truth about God. Neither Joseph Smith, David Hume, Depak Chopra, or Christopher Hitchens can tell us the truth about God.
At twelve years old he was conscious of his mission. At that young age he lingered at the temple, his Father’s house, for three days, instructing the teachers of Israel and astonishing them with the depth and breadth of his knowledge. When his parents finally found him they rebuked him. His reply was stunning: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Lk 2:43-49).
Jesus understood that he had been sent to be the living Word of God to men who had never seen God. As humanity was groaning under the weight of sin and guilt, God was sending his Son on a voyage. The timeless entered time. The living Word laid aside his glory to be conceived in a womb. The creator and owner of the universe became poor. The God who is Spirit took on flesh and blood. And this was essential to God’s eternal purposes. God did not come in human flesh for the purpose of being a good teacher or moral exemplar, although he certainly was those things.
Verse 5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This is a reference to God’s salvation in Christ. It carries with it the idea of conflict and warfare. But notice also that the darkness is no match for the light. God’s eternal redemptive purpose is never at the mercy of the plans and purposes of Satan or sinful man.
Ironically the ultimate victory of the light over the darkness happened through what initially looked like the darkest moment in human history – the crucifixion of the Son of God. But in reality the cross was God’s greatest triumph over the darkness. And this was the eternal purpose for the incarnation. Ultimately, God came in flesh and blood so that he could bleed and die; so that he could carry the punishment for the sins of God’s people; for all those who believe. Jesus’ death was not incidental to his mission. It was His mission! It was decreed before the very creation of the world.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.
Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.
We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.
While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?"
- Isaac Watts
If 2008 is remembered as the year of the “bailout,” when the federal government spent billions to rescue the nation’s financial system, it should also be recalled for another kind of bailout—Christians with impeccably pro-life records who suddenly abandoned what they declared to be a sinking ship.Read the entire article HERE.
Abortion seemed to be one of the few issues on which Senator Barack Obama had an unambiguous and unchangeable position during the campaign, as he promised that “the first thing I’d do as president is to sign the Freedom of Choice Act,” something that would nullify all existing laws restricting abortion...
The role of “pro-lifers” in the Obama campaign was not to persuade the candidate to moderate his stand on abortion (there is no evidence that they even tried to do so) but to persuade pro-lifers to forget about the issue.
But if social conservatives follow this advice over the next four years and beyond, they will be required to overcome their “narrow” outlook on more than just the issue of whether abortion should be legal. The Obama administration can be counted on to initiate systematic government funding of abortions and embryonic stem-cell research, to support efforts by international agencies to promote (and sometimes require) abortion in Third World countries, and to endorse efforts in the United Nations to define abortion as a “right” that must be recognized by all nations.
Monday, December 15, 2008
"The difference with regard to the way of salvation concerns, in the first place, the basis of salvation in the redeeming work of Christ. According to Christian belief, Jesus is our Saviour, not by virtue of what He said, not even by virtue of what He was, but by what He did. He is our Saviour, not because He has inspired us to live the same kind of life that He lived, but because He took upon Himself the dreadful guilt of our sins and bore it instead of us on the cross. Such is the Christian conception of the Cross of Christ. It is ridiculed as being a “subtle theory of the atonement.” In reality, it is the plain teaching of the word of God; we know absolutely nothing about an atonement that is not a vicarious atonement, for that is the only atonement of which the New Testament speaks. And this Bible doctrine is not intricate or subtle. On the contrary, though it involves mysteries, it is itself so simple that a child can understand it. ”We deserved eternal death, but the Lord Jesus, because He loved us, died instead of us on the cross” - surely there is nothing so very intricate about that. It is not the Bible doctrine of the atonement which is difficult to understand - what are really incomprehensible are the elaborate modern efforts to get rid of the Bible doctrine in the interests of human pride.
"Modern liberal preachers do indeed sometimes speak of the “atonement.” But they speak of it just as seldom as they possibly can, and one can see plainly that their hears are elsewhere than at the foot of the Cross. Indeed, at this point, as at many others, one has the feeling that traditional language is being strained to become the expression of totally alien ideas. And when the traditional phraseology has been stripped away, the essence of the modern conception of the death of Christ, though that conception appears in many forms, is fairly plain. The essence of it is that the death of Christ had an effect not upon God but only upon man. Sometimes the effect upon man is conceived of in a very simple way, Christ’s death being regarded merely as an example of self-sacrifice for us to emulate. The uniqueness of this particular example, then, can be found only in the fact that Christian sentiment, gathering around it, has made it a convenient symbol for all self-sacrifice; it puts in concrete form what would otherwise have to be expressed in colder general terms."
Here in the opening words John summarizes how the eternal “Word” was sent into the world to become the Jesus of history, “so that the glory and grace of God might be uniquely and perfectly disclosed” (Carson, 111). The rest of John’s Gospel is an expansion and interpretation of that theme.
Verse 14 says, “The Word became flesh and (literally) ‘tabernacled’ among us.” This is what we celebrate at Christmas. It is all about God miraculously tabernacling among His people. That’s why I don’t get upset when lost people, the government, or corporate entities do not wish me a “merry Christmas.” They most certainly do not mean, “May you be filled with joy due to the fact that in the person of Jesus God entered humanity that he might bear away the guilt and burden of our sin and bring us into fellowship with Himself.” Only my brothers and sisters in Christ can properly wish me a merry Christmas.
The incarnation is a profound mystery. It is God come to humanity through humanity. Christmas, the incarnation, is God with us. We contemporary Christians don’t much realize just how impossible this thought would have been to Old Covenant Jews. They understood that you did not survive a face-to-face with God. His glory is too great and His holiness too intense.
In Wichita where I previously served there is a local church that, in a radio add offered a “face-to-face encounter with God” at their Saturday evening service. Of course, they had better hope there is not a face-to-face encounter with God. But as ludicrous as that advertisement sounds, it would have sounded downright deadly to the Old Covenant people of God.
This is what the incarnation did: it made it possible for man to see God in a way that would bless instead of destroy. God told Moses, “No one may see me and live.” But something wonderful happens through the Lord Jesus. In verse 14 John says that he and the apostles “beheld His glory…” In the opening words of his first epistle John writes, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (I John 1:1).
This God who was unapproachable became, in the person of Jesus, One that could be seen, heard, and touched. The God who once said, “Stay away or die!” has now come down to us. Only God could bridge that gap. It had to happen on His terms. All attempts by man to bring God down or to ascend to where God is are met with frustration or destruction. God would come in a way that he could be seen and heard and touched. But it would be in the person of Jesus and only in the person of Jesus – the Word become flesh.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Here in the 21st-century are we back to the 1860s of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall, or the cesspool Chicago of Mayor Big Bill Thompson in the 1920s? All our moral claims about cleaning up government, all our postmodern sophisticated ethics, our vaunted notions of ‘transparency’ are reduced to a two-bit thug in the governorship of a large state like Illinois? For all our high-tech gadgetry, or our angst about situational morality, or self-help pop therapy, we revert to a foul-mouthed, profanity-spouting wretch, trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat the way a corrupt 4th-century AD emperor auctioned off proconsulships in the twilight of the Empire? . . . .
And then there is the Mafioso braggadocio of pure, unadulterated crudity: four-letter words, pomposity, no inhibition about admitting lust for money, gratuitous slurs about everything and everybody, constant threats, an entire family to dine at the table of greed. Blagojevich is something out of Dante’s Eighth Circle of Hell, a modern-day Malacoda in the 5th bolgia. One must resort either to Al Capone’s Chicago or the villains of classical literature to match these transcripts.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
One of the things I had the pleasure of chatting with Al Mohler about when I was in Louisville Friday last week was the evangel, the Gospel itself. I think that all the particpants in T4G share a passion that local congregations of Christians would be characterized by a Gospel culture, a Gospel-sharing culture, a culture of evangelism.
By that I mean:  that your whole congregation would be able to articulate the Gospel, personally, in a compelling and understandable way;  that your whole congregation would understand the importance and necessity of their lives, their prayers and their participation in Gospel witness;  that your whole congregation would deeply care about conversions (and I would lay stress here, that we are talking about real conversions, not numbers; disciples, not decisions; changed lives, not merely prayed prayers);  that your whole congregation would earnestly and regularly pray for conversions, talks about their own conversions and the conversions of others, and put a priority on people coming to know God; and  that your whole congregation would be excited about the Gospel itself, and not simply about a method of sharing the Gospel, or a training program.
To this end in my own congregation, it was my joy this last autumn to spend thirteen weeks of Wednesday nights, meeting with about 115 of our members, in what we called "The Gospel Course." The aim of our study in the Gospel Course was (among other things), to provide participants with: (1) a fuller understanding of the Gospel; (2) an opportunity to hone and articulate their Christian testimony; (3) an opportunity to be instructed in, observe and engage in Gospel conversations; (4) a simple, biblical, outline of the Gospel; (5) encouragements and helps to share (or more effectively share) the Gospel; (6) an opportunity to help better the evangelism equipping of our congregation; (7) the opportunity to see how all pastors of the church are involved in gospel witness; and (8) encouragement and instruction on how to engage others in the church in this Gospel culture.
OLYMPIA, Wash. - State officials, besieged by requests for more seasonal displays at the state Capitol, have approved several more - including a "Festivus" display honoring a faux holiday popularized by TV comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
The new display requests come on top of an anti-religion placard, a Christmas tree and a Christian nativity scene erected earlier this week and a pro-religion sign added Friday.
The state General Administration, which runs the state Capitol building, have OK'd four of the requests so far:
- On Saturday, Dec. 6: A balloon nativity shelter from a private citizen.
- On Sunday, Dec. 7: A demonstration by a group called "Private Citizens of Federal Way" against the atheistic sign will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on the front steps.
- On Monday, Dec 8: A display will go up in the capitol from the Washington Values Alliance.
- On Wednesday, Dec 10: A Festivus display from a private citizen.
According to the online reference Wikipedia, Festivus is an annual holiday invented by writer Dan O'Keefe and introduced into popular culture by his son Daniel, a scriptwriter for the TV show Seinfeld.
Most people now celebrate the holiday on Dec. 23, as depicted on the December 18, 1997, Seinfeld episode "The Strike.
"The holiday includes novel practices such as the "Airing of Grievances", in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over
the past year.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
During his life he served in the following positions:
Curate of St. Nicholas, Sevenoaks (1941-1947)
Vicar of Felsted (1947-1951)
Senior Tutor at Oak Hill Theological College (1951-1964)
Warden of Tyndale House in Cambridge (1964-1978)
Of Psalm 121 Kidner wrote,
To be kept from all evil does not imply a cushioned life, but a well-armed one. The psalm ends with a pledge which could hardly be stronger or more sweeping. Your going out and your coming in is not only a way of saying 'everything'; it draws attention to one’s ventures and enterprises and the home which remains one’s base; to pilgrimage and return; to the dawn and sunset of one’s days. But the last line takes good care of this journey. It would be hard to decide which half of it is the more encouraging: the fact that it starts from now, or that it runs on, not to the end of time but to time without end; like God Himself who is my portion for ever.
As its cover story for the Dec. 15, 2008 issue, the editors of Newsweek offer readers a hopelessly distorted and one-sided propaganda piece on “gay marriage” entitled “Our Mutual Joy.” The 2800-word article is by Lisa Miller, religion editor and author of the “Belief Watch” column for the magazine (her academic credential is a B.A. in English at Oberlin College). She claims that Scripture actually provides strong support for validating homosexual unions and no valid opposition to “committed” homosexual practice. She quotes from scholars such as Neil Elliott and “the great Bible scholar” Walter Brueggemann, who are strongly supportive of “gay marriage.”
There is not the slightest effort on Miller’s part to think critically about her own line or reasoning. The lone voice that she cites against homosexual practice is not from a scholar but from a certain Rev. Richard Hunter, a United Methodist minister who offered a short comment for a “roundtable” discussion sponsored by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the thousand pages or so that I have written on the subject over the past decade Miller cites not a word, including my critique of Elliott’s untenable claim that Paul in Romans 1:24-27 was thinking only of the exploitative homosexual intercourse practiced by depraved emperors like Nero and Caligula; and my critique (pp. 11-12) of “Brueggemann’s” use of Gal 3:28 (“there is [in Christ] no ‘male and female’”) as support for homosexual unions (my critique is directed at Prof. Stacy Johnson of Princeton Seminary but it applies equally to Brueggemann’s claim).
Miller’s article reminds me of the equally distorted (but thankfully much shorter) op-ed article put out in The New York Times four years ago by Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof (“God and Sex,” Oct. 23, 2004). My response to Kristof, “‘God and Sex’ or ‘Pants on Fire’?”, showed how bad that piece was. My response to Miller will do the same. This essay has three primary components: a discussion of Scripture apart from the witness of Jesus; a discussion of Jesus’ witness; and concluding thoughts, which takes in also Meacham’s “Editor’s Desk” column. This is important folks because it has to do with whether or not we will hold to God's Word as the unfailing standard of truth.
You can read Dr. Gagnon's entire paper HERE.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Dr. Clark writes:
One of the more shocking facets of the EV [Emergent Village] movement his how obliviously yet obviously and deeply indebted they are not only to the Anabaptists but also to the Enlightenment. For all their noise about being “postmodern,” it’s quite obvious to me that they are rather “most modern.” Their religious subjectivism is as modern as Schleiermacher and Romanticism. Their eclecticism is entirely modern. When they, as McLaren does, mashup Anglicanism with the Anabaptists they’re acting as autonomous, reality-creating, sovereign entities.
In contrast, confessional Protestants are not “creators.” We are mere creatures living in a world of divinely created givens, muddling through with a semi-realized eschatology, an epistemology that starts with divine authority, with divine revelation and which reads that revelation with the church. We begin with a ecclesiology that includes real, visible churches (sins and all) with real, visible sacraments, and real preached gospel of grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone. We sit on couches and drink coffee before and after our services but during our services we hear the gospel, sing psalms, and eat bread and drink wine with the church catholic.
Read the entire post HERE.
POZNAN, Poland - The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to the over 400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.
The U.S. Senate report is the latest evidence of the growing groundswell of scientific opposition rising to challenge the UN and Gore. Scientific meetings are now being dominated by a growing number of skeptical scientists. The prestigious International Geological Congress, dubbed the geologists' equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Norway in August 2008 and prominently featured the voices and views of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears. [See Full report Here: & See: Skeptical scientists overwhelm conference: '2/3 of presenters and question-askers were hostile to, even dismissive of, the UN IPCC' ]
“I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion.”
- Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever.
“Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical.”
- Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology and formerly of NASA who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called “among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years.”
Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in the history…When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.”
- UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD
environmental physical chemist.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
- Donald Bloesch from God, Authority, and Salvation
Derivation: In the NT, the term νομικός (nomikos) is commonly translated "lawyer." Actually in form it is an adjective meaning "law-related, legal." It is most commonly used as a noun in the Gospels to describe men who are expert in the Law of Moses (semantically overlaps grammateus. "scribe"). In forming the English word, I convert the kappa (κ) to "c," as is common in Greek-derived English words (logikos becomes "logical"; kritērion becomes "criterion," etc.).
Meaning: I plan to use this of people who have an irrational (or, at any rate, unbiblical) fear of any sort of external authority or law. We saw it some in the recent posts on God's command that we involve ourselves in local assembly, and the Biblical way a Christian sees his relationship to God.
The manifestation of nomicophobia goes something like this:
1. Cite any part of Scripture a professed Christian doesn't want to hear.
2. Tell him/her that you agree with God: Christians really should believingly obey God's Word.
3. The nomicophobe calls you a legalist.
4. That's meant to end the discussion.
It can be an effective argument, because of the elasticicity of the term "legalist."
Read the entire post HERE.
Monday, December 8, 2008
No matter what one thinks about gay rights—for, against or somewhere in between —this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism. Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt—it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.
Newsweek could have offered its readers a careful and balanced review of the crucial issues related to this question. It chose another path -- and published this cover story. The magazine's readers and this controversial issue deserved better.Mark Hemingway is more curt:
So should I be surprised that Lisa Miller, Newsweek's religion reporter natch, can't even get through the first paragraph of her story without evincing an understanding of Christianity and its basic texts that is grossly oversimplified and distorted, filtered through an almost exclusively liberal political lens, not to mention catty and downright insulting?
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
"Although the link between grace and sin has driven Christianity for centuries, it just doesn’t resonate in our culture anymore. It repulses rather than attracts. People are becoming much less inclined to acknowledge themselves as ‘sinners in need of a Savior.’ It’s not that people view themselves as perfect; it’s that the language they use to describe themselves has changed. “Broken,” “fragmented,” and “lacking wholeness”—these are some of the new ways people describe their spiritual need. What resonates is a sense of disconnection."
Burke is not interested in what is true or biblical but in what "attracts" or "resonate[s] in our culture." In this way the typical pomo/emergent types are no different from the mega-church marketers that they criticize.
Notice the difference between Burke and his pomo/emergent fellows and the words of J. Gresham Machen, the great champion of evangelicalism in the early 20th century:
“If sin is so trifling a matter as the liberal Church supposes, then indeed the curse of God’s law can be taken very lightly, and God can easily let by-gones be by-gones.” But “If a man has once come under a true conviction of sin, he will have little difficulty with the doctrine of the Cross.”
But the cross is still offensive. Indeed, the cross is just as weak and foolish and scandalous as it was when Jesus began announcing his intention to go to Jerusalem and die.
What is surprising is to see what a stumbling block the cross is in the church. Too many professing Christians want a helpful Jesus-as-lifecoach. They don't want the bloodied Messiah weighed down under the wrath of God for our sin. They want a guru, a spiritual advisor, or a divine guaranteur of success and health. The crucified Substitute however is still the scandalon.
The words of an email I received yesterday illustrate the point well:
"Must every sermon be about Christ bloodied and dying on the cross as the 'real' meaning of Christmas shared by the 'enlightened' as if we hadn't heard it before? Isn't there enough time during Lent, Easter and the rest of the year to teach that lesson?"
Of course, yesterday was my first sermon as pastor of COS. But so far, everyone of them has dealt with the centrality of Christ and Him crucified. We'll see what the second sermon brings.
The man who sent that email went on to praise the ministry and teaching of Joel Osteen which I believe is very instructive. I will not ridicule the man. That is why I will not print his name or the entire message. Clearly he is someone in pain. I pray that the Lord will change his heart.
I would simply say that too many evangelicals haven't "heard it before." Clearly that lesson has not been taught adequately "during Lent, Easter and the rest of the year."
I suppose if there is something wrong with our preaching of the cross if we never get messages like the one I received yesterday.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The outline of the message was:
1. The Message of the Cross-Centered Ministry (vv.1-2)
2. The Disposition of the Cross-Centered Ministry (vv.3)
3. The Power of the Cross-Centered Ministry (v.4)
4. The Fruit of the Cross-Centered Ministry (v.5)
1. The Message of the Cross-Centered Ministry
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (ESV)
These are sobering words not least of all because they stand in such contrast to much of the foolishness that goes on in the name of Christianity these days. The church in our day is guilty of what Michael Horton calls “Christless Christianity.” Jesus is present. He is mentioned and in some cases talked about a lot. But it is Jesus apart from his atoning work. It is Jesus as moral example. It is Jesus as therapist or life coach. It is Jesus as a nice fellow who likes us and desperately wants us to like him. But he is not Jesus the Christ who died as our substitute to satisfy the just wrath of God.
The word “crucified” in this passage is a perfect, passive participle in the Greek. The perfect tense describes actions completed in the past whose effect continue into the present. So when Paul summarizes the Gospel by writing “Christ crucified” he is saying that Jesus’ present and eternal identity is stamped by the cross – his atoning work.
The cross was not a momentary tragedy that was canceled out by the resurrection. Rather, to know the risen Christ is to know him as the crucified Savior. Any account of Jesus’ life and work that leaves out his atoning work on the cross is not the Gospel.
Paul tells the Corinthians that he came to them for this purpose: to proclaim the good news of Christ crucified. In chapter 15 he calls this message the thing he passed along to them as of first importance. No other message can save but this one of Christ and His cross. What does Paul say in Romans 1:16? “I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe…”
What a remarkable and counter-intuitive statement. The power of God, Paul says, is a message. God’s power to save, His power to raise the dead to new life, His power to open blind eyes is found in the proclamation of a message. And the message is not, “Jesus was nice, you be nice too.” It is the message of Jesus Christ crucified.
Little wonder then why Paul wrote, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” This verse has been puzzling to many. But it is critical. This is, I believe, the defining statement of Christian ministry. Did Paul mean that he preached only the narrative of the crucifixion event? Obviously not. Indeed Paul reminded the elders at Ephesus that in his ministry among them he preached "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).
In saying that he knew nothing among the Corinthians save Christ and Him crucified means that Paul preached the Bible as it ought to be preached. Christ and His atoning work is the axis point of Scripture. Spurgeon famously said that just as all roads in England will eventually lead to London so all portions of Scirpture will eventually lead to Jesus. Jesus himself made it plain that He was revealed throughout the Old Testament.
Paul never preaches what Edmund Clowney used to call “synagogue sermons.” He never preached moralistic messages about how to be better persons that could just as easily be preached by someone who did not believe that Jesus was the Christ. Without the doing, dying, and rising of Christ Paul’s preaching would have made no sense. The standard that all Christian proclamation must stand up to is this: Does this message make any sense apart from Jesus Christ and Him crucified?
If we are merely culling the Bible for useful quotes or principles for successful living then we are not proclaiming a distinctively Christian message. Our message remains the same message that the apostles pressed upon their hearers: the message of Christ and Him crucified. Nothing else will do.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
In a recent post at the Founders blog Dr. Ascol addresses three issues that have fostered further division and confusion within the SBC regarding the issue of Reformed theology.
"Three events over the last few weeks have called fresh attention to one of the serious doctrinal issues currently brewing in the SBC. There are others, and they are not unimportant, but the one that looms large on the horizon is the debate over Calvinism or reformed theology. Terminology matters, so let me quickly assert that what I mean by "Calvinism" is exactly what the great Southern Baptist statesman, John Broadus, meant when he wrote,
The people who sneer at what is called Calvinism might as well sneer at Mont Blanc. We are not in the least bound to defend all of Calvin's opinions or actions, but I do not see how any one who really understands the Greek of the Apostle Paul or the Latin of Calvin and Turretin can fail to see that these latter did but interpret and formulate substantially what the former teaches."What we are talking about is the sovereignty of God in salvation including unconditional election, total depravity of sinful nature, definite atonement of particular sinners by the death of Christ, the monergistic work of the Spirit in regeneration and the preserving grace of God operating in the life of every believer. We are not talking about sprinkling babies.
"The three events that have put the spotlight on this issue recently have come from those who are not merely non-Calvinists, but are more accurately described as anti-Calvinists. They profess to have no axe to grind against Calvinism but their tone and treatment are unhelpful to the kind of fraternal dialogue that Southern Baptists desperately need to be cultivating at this point in our history."
Read the entire post HERE.
You may also be interested in reading the dialogue between Dr. Ascol and Dr. Malcolm Yarnell of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the comment thread.