In an earlier post I pointed to some resources for wrestling through the issues of the gospel, conversion, and assurance with our kids. One of the best resources I’ve found is the the Family Life Today radio interviews with Jim Elliff, “How Children Come to Faith in Christ.” You can purchase the series on audio CDs here, which I already mentioned. However, in addition I discovered that six of the sessions are available online for free:
1. Genuine Salvation: More Than a Prayer
2. How Children Come to Faith in Christ
3. Taking Our Children to Church: Is That Enough?
4. How to Deal With Doubt
5. Observing Salvation in Your Child: What Does It Look Like?
6. The Family: No Better Place to Come to Know Christ!
Transcripts are also available at the bottom of each of these pages’ links. I cannot recommend these talks enough to any parent wanting to be thoughtful, careful, and prayerful in the salvation of their children.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List is protesting the nomination:
“Dawn Johnsen does not represent mainstream America or the type of common ground abortion policy President Obama promised this nation,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. “Her bizarre characterizations of pregnancy as ’slavery’ and mothers as ‘losers in the contraceptive lottery’ expose an unacceptable disdain for commonsense abortion restrictions and motherhood in general. Furthermore, Johnsen’s opposition to existing federal restrictions like the ban on partial-birth abortion casts doubt on her ability to perform her duties faithfully as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel.”
Across the country, Susan B. Anthony List members expressed outrage at Johnsen’s nomination, sending over 26,000 letters of opposition to their U.S. Senators. Johnsen was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 19th by a vote of 11-7.
While Johnsen served as the legal counsel for National Abortion & Reproductive Rights Action League (now NARAL Pro-Choice America), she authored numerous legal opinions rejecting any and all restrictions on abortion. Some notable quotes from Johnsen’s amicus curiae brief in the case Webster v. Reproductive Health Services include:
“Abortion restrictions ‘reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers.’”
“The argument that women who become pregnant have in some sense consented to the pregnancy belies reality…and others who are the inevitable losers in the contraceptive lottery no more ‘consent’ to pregnancy than pedestrians ‘consent’ to being struck by drunk drivers.”
“The experience [of abortion] is no longer traumatic; the response of most women to the experience is relief.”
As a March 25th article in the Washington Post reports:
President Obama's proposal to limit the tax deductibility of charitable contributions would effectively transfer more than $7 billion a year from the nation's charitable institutions to the federal government. But the high-income taxpayers affected by the rule change are likely to cut their charitable giving by as much as the increase in their tax bills, which would, ironically, leave their remaining income and personal consumption unchanged.
In effect, the change would be a tax on the charities, reducing their receipts by a dollar for every dollar of extra revenue the government collects. It is hard to imagine a rationale for taxing schools, hospitals, medical research budgets and arts organizations in this way. I suspect that the administration officials who drafted this proposal did not understand that it would have this perverse effect.
Read the entire article HERE.
"The providence of God, which guided the pen of Pilate, had a higher object in view. It did not, indeed, occur to Pilate to celebrate Christ as the Author of salvation, and the Nazarene of God, and the King of a chosen people, but God dictated to him the commendation of the Gospel, though he knew not the meaning of what he wrote. It was the same secret guidance of the Spirit that caused the title to be published in three languages; for it is not probable that this was an ordinary practice, but the Lord showed, by this preparatory arrangement, that the time was now at hand, when the name of his Son should be made known throughout the whole earth...Pilate's firmness must be ascribed to the providence of God...Let us know, therefore, that he was held by a Divine hand, so that he remained unmoved...Pilate, though he was a reprobate man, and, in other respects, an instrument of Satan, was nevertheless, by a secret guidance, appointed to be a herald of the Gospel, that he might publish a short summary of it in three languages."
- John Calvin
Monday, March 30, 2009
It seems clear from the online conversation that one’s view of Scripture will necessarily impact one’s view of Christ. If you believe that the Bible is full of errors then it is inevitable that you will believe Jesus to have been a flawed, erring, mistake-prone human. Those who believe this often times dismiss higher views of Christ as “Docetism” the heresy that denies the true humanity of Jesus. But this is a red herring. Indeed, Scripture and, appropriately, historic Christian orthodoxy have never held that Christ erred and made mistakes.
I will not bother to interact with those who deny the deity of Christ. To do so requires an outright dismissal of all that the New Testament teaches. Rather I will address those who, while affirming the deity of Christ nevertheless maintain that He erred and made mistakes.
First, some conclude that Christ erred because of a misunderstanding of Hebrews 2:17 which states, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” It is rightly acknowledged that the “every way” does not include sin. Inexplicably however this reality seems to be treated at times as if it was not highly significant.
The problem here is that it gravely underestimates the effects of sin upon the sinner. Sin is far more than deliberate moral failure. Sin runs deeper than outward disobedience to God. Sin affects us mind, body, and emotions. How much does the absence of a sinful nature, sinful thoughts, sinful motives, and sinful actions differentiate Christ from sinners? I would suggest that the difference is quite radical. Jesus’ sinless humanity is far different from my fallen, corrupted humanity. To suggest otherwise grossly underestimates both the nature of sin and the perfections of Christ.
Second, some conclude that Christ erred because of, I believe, a wrong assumption concerning Christ’s possession of divine attributes. This misunderstanding is based less upon a particular text of Scripture than upon a theological presupposition that holds that Jesus must surely have divested himself entirely of the incommunicable attributes of his deity. This may arise from a misunderstanding of Christ’s self-emptying or kenosis.
The word kenosis is derived from a clause in the Christ hymn of Philippians.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (2:5-11).
The phrase heauton ekenosin (“made himself nothing”) is literally “himself he emptied.” Some take this to mean that Christ emptied himself of all vestiges of his divine nature. But is this the biblical witness to Christ? Is the Christ revealed in the Gospels one who had divested himself of all divine identity and attributes?
Consider also the entire clause from Philippians 2: “but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant”. There is a deep paradox here. Christ emptied himself through the act of taking on something new. His self-humbling was not through laying aside what made him God but through taking on humanity. In his incarnation Jesus never ceased being “very God of very God.”
In the next post in this series I will demonstrate further the weaknesses of the flawed understanding of Christ’s kenosis.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Nationally syndicated collumnist and editor of The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes and his wife Barbara are faithful members of Falls Church. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article by Barnes on Falls Church's latest initiative: church planting.
In 2007, my wife Barbara and I left The Falls Church, which we had happily attended from the time we became Christians a quarter-century ago. It's a 277-year-old church in northern Virginia well-known for its popular preacher, the Rev. John Yates, its adherence to traditional biblical teachings and its withdrawal in 2005 from the national Episcopal church. Our three grown daughters and their families stayed behind at The Falls Church.
We didn't leave in anger. We didn't have political or theological anxieties. Rather, we left for a new church because our old church wanted us to. The Falls Church has become entrepreneurial as well as evangelical. It's in the church-planting business. And we were encouraged by Mr. Yates to join Christ the King, the church "planted" near our home in Alexandria. We were a bit ambivalent about the move, but when Christ the King opened its doors in September 2007, we were there.
Read the entire article HERE.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Bart Ehrman's Jesus, Interrupted by his own admission says nothing new. It packages what scholars have been saying for two decades. Since he learned the historical critical method in place of the devotional method, he discovered the Bible was full of contradictions and discrepancies, a completely human book with Christianity being a religion that is completely human in its origin and development. That is the core thesis of Bart Ehrman's new book, who has become a one man marching band to make clear what everyone should know about the origins of the Christian faith. We cannot speak of the divine in any of this, he says, because historians cannot handle that kind of data. This represents a convienient limitation on what he can speak about (even as he makes all kinds of pronouncements about what is taking place and who is responsible).Read Dr. Bock's entire post HERE.
"It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upward of a thousand lies."Twain was of course speaking of the Bible. The debate over the truthfulness and reliability of God's Word is once again heating up in evangelical circles. Nichols' and Brandt's book is therefore timely.
The book is structured around three key words that form a doctrine of Scripture: Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Interpretation. The first two chapters deal with the inspiration of Scripture. In chapter one the authors give what may be the clearest and most concise history of the development of the doctrine of inspiriation that I have ever read.
Appropriately Nichols and Brandt pay careful attention to the role that old Princeton, particularly A.A. Hodge, B.B. Warfield and J. Gresham Machen played in the development of a biblical doctrine of inspiration. In the process they address the importance of two words that help explain the nature of the Bible's inspiration: "verbal" and "plenary."
To say that the Bible's inspiration is verbal and plenary is to say that both the words and the ideas of Scripture are given by God. This is in contrast to the idea that only the ideas of Scripture are inspired while the words are fallable. Of course this makes one wonder how an idea can properly be communicated and then relied upon if the words communicating the idea err. In other words, how can we be sure of God's holiness and love, salvation in Christ, and the efficacy of atonement if the words used to describe those truths may and often times are in error?
Errantists object to verbal plenary inspiration because, they reason, words are human products and as such will necessarily err. Interestingly, one area of agreement between errantists and inerrantists is that the biblical writers were not mindless robots possessed by the Holy Spirit as mere means of dictation. Inerrantists however believe that the Holy Spirit was able to carry along fallable human beings in such a way that they were enabled to record accurately the very words God without supressing their own unique personality, gifts, and perspective. Indeed, those attributes were used by God purposefully to produce the Scriptures He intended.
Nichols and Brandt point to an important article by Hodge and Warfield that calls this guiding and guarding in the process of inspiration "superintendence."
"This superintendence attended the entire process of the genesis of Scripture, and particularly the process of the final composition of the record." This superintendence also includes "historic processes and the concurrence of natural and supernatural forces." They conclude that this superintendence results in "the absolute infallibility of the record...in the original autograph." (p. 31)
The stuff of life — the elemental events surrounding birth, death, raising children, fulfilling one’s personal potential, dealing with adversity, intimate relationships — occurs within just four institutions: family, community, vocation and faith. Seen in this light, the goal of social policy is to ensure that those institutions are robust and vital. The European model doesn’t do that. It enfeebles every single one of them.Read the entire article HERE.
Drive through rural Sweden, as I did a few years ago. In every town was a beautiful Lutheran church, freshly painted, on meticulously tended grounds, all subsidized by the Swedish government. And the churches are empty. Including on Sundays. The nations of Scandinavia and Western Europe pride themselves on their “child-friendly” policies, providing generous child allowances, free day-care centers and long maternity leaves. Those same countries have fertility rates far below replacement and plunging marriage rates. They are countries where jobs are most carefully protected by government regulation and mandated benefits are most lavish. And with only a few exceptions, they are countries where work is most often seen as a necessary evil, and where the proportions of people who say they love their jobs are the lowest.
Call it the Europe Syndrome.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
How does the Bible as a whole fit together? The events recorded in the Bible took place over a span of thousands of years and in several different cultural settings. What is their unifying thread?
One unifying thread in the Bible is its divine authorship. Every book of the Bible is God’s word. The events recorded in the Bible are there because God wanted them recorded, and he had them recorded with his people and their instruction in mind: "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom. 15:4).
The Bible also makes it clear that God has a unified plan for all of history. His ultimate purpose, "a plan for the fullness of time," is "to unite all things in him [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph. 1:10), "to the praise of his glory" (Eph. 1:12). God had this plan even from the beginning: "remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’ " (Isa. 46:9–10). "When the fullness of time had come," when the moment was appropriate in God’s plan, "God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law" (Gal. 4:4–5).
The work of Christ on earth, and especially his crucifixion and resurrection, is the climax of history; it is the great turning point at which God actually accomplished the salvation toward which history had been moving throughout the OT. The present era looks back on Christ’s completed work but also looks forward to the consummation of his work when Christ will come again and when there will appear "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet. 3:13; see Rev. 21:1–22:5).
Read the entire article HERE.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
"The book is useful in that Young makes a number of assertions and arguments that serious Christians should consider. He is an engaging storyteller-even if the plotline is prosaic at times-and the themes tackled (namely, how we think about God) matter a great deal. However, Young has little regard for the way in which God has revealed himself in Scripture, as when Papa tells Mack, "If I choose to appear to you as a man or woman, it's because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning" (93).
"This misses an important point, namely that God reveals himself to us by accommodating our creatureliness. God names himself and describes himself in ways that are graspable to humans; he gives us metaphors and analogies that are readily understandable. Although God is spirit, and thus neither anatomically male nor female, he identifies certain pronouns that conform to the way of redemption itself (God sends his Son, who becomes man in order to make satisfaction for sin, so that we might become children of God, Abba, our Father). It is no small thing to challenge God's self-revelation the way Young frequently does and play fast and loose with the names, titles, and designations we find in Scripture. There is, therefore, a more fundamental issue at stake in The Shack: the act of naming and the authority that goes with it. By renaming God, Young subverts the authority of the One to whom the act of naming belongs in the first place."
Wilson is one of the most helpful apoligists that I have read. Here are two of his titles:
The Deluded Atheist
Monday, March 23, 2009
Phil Ryken offers this impressive endorsement:
The best, clearest, and most reliable historical overview of the doctrine of Scripture for a contemporary audience. As careful historians, Nichols and Brandt show what the church has always believed about the Bible as the Word of God, and also how our understanding of the inspiration, inerrancy, and interpretation of Scripture has grown through the centuries. The authors let scholars and theologians on all sides of the age-old battle for the Bible speak in their own words, giving us the historical context and theological framework we need to accept the Bible's own witness to its beauty, perfection, and divine authority.
Attacks against the reliability of Scripture are heating up again within the ever loosening boundaries of evangelicalism. It is important therefore for God's people to once again assert their confidence is the Bible as God's Word.
The perennially declining denominations (PCUSA, Disciples of Christ, UMC, etc) all have in common a weak doctrine of Scripture. It seems to be inevitable that as your doctrine of Scripture goes so goes your doctrine of God, of Christ, of the atonement, of divine judgment, and the gospel itself.
The Reformation's recovery of both Scripture and the apostolic teaching produced the Reformation solas of sola scriptura (Scripture alone), sola fide and sola gratia (salvation and justification by faith alone and by grace alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), and soli Deo gloria (for the glory of God alone). And so it is in the modern age. The challenge to supernatural revelation, the challenge to the Bible, has been met with deeper reflection on and clearer expression of the doctrines of Scripture. The doctrines orbit around three words, words that have received a great deal of attention in the nineteenth, twentieth, and now into the twenty-first century. These three words are inspiration, inerrancy, and interpretation. This book tells the story of how these words were developed in these last few centuries. It is the story of how the ancient word of God speaks to and in our changing world.
- From the Introduction
Whether it is a private institution such as Yale or a public one such as the University of Delaware, the truth is that things begin going badly for them right off the bat. Princeton is all-too-typical. As part of the freshman orientation program, students are required to attend an event entitled “Sex on a Saturday Night.” It consists of a series of skits ostensibly designed to discourage “date rape.” For years, critics have contended that the play, which features vulgarity and suggestive conduct, does nothing to serve this laudable goal; rather, it reinforces the campus culture of sexual permissiveness, primarily by shaping students’ expectations to include sexual license as normal.
And then there is “Sex Jeopardy” (officially “Safer Sex Jeopardy”), an event that Princeton freshmen are “strongly encouraged” by the University to attend. Modeled on the long running television game show, this activity invites students to show off their knowledge of such topics as anal intercourse, flavored condoms, dental dams, sex toys, and sado-masochism. As described by one female student, Sex Jeopardy is “suffused with sexual bravado and conveys the strong impression that only someone with hang ups would have a moral problem with hook ups.”...
Conspicuously absent, however, are centers or programs offering meaningful support for students who desire to live chastely. “Sexual health” offices do not supply the need because staff members see their roles, not as promoting self-discipline and high moral standards, but as providing “non-judgmental” advice about how to have sex while avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
So while universities are willing to speak out on the dangers of alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and date-rape, they sometimes treat as privileged—in practice, if not in theory—the moral view that any sexual conduct someone happens to desire is good, healthy, and acceptable, so long as it is consensual and “safe” from the risks of pregnancy and disease.
Read the entire article HERE.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Here is something I found in Chris Wright's book The Mission of God:
· We ask, “Where does God fit into the story of my life?,” when the real question is, “Where does my life fit into this great story of God’s mission?”
· We want to be driven by a purpose that has been tailored just right for our own individual lives, when we should be seeing the purpose of all life, including our own, wrapped up in the great mission of God for the whole of creation.
· We talk about “applying the Bible to our lives.” What would it mean to apply our lives to the Bible instead, assuming the Bible to be the reality – the real story – to which we are called to conform ourselves?
· We wrestle with “making the gospel relevant to the world.” But in this story, God is about the business of transforming the world to fit the shape of the gospel.
· We argue about what can legitimately be included in the mission that God expects from the church, when we should ask what kind of church God wants for the whole range of his mission.
· I may wonder what kind of mission God has for me, when I should be asking what kind of me God wants for his mission.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The title of the article is "The Cross and Criticism." It originally appeared ten years ago in the Journal of Biblical Counseling.
I live and pastor in a culture of confident, well-educated high achievers. That is not a bad thing. In fact there are many positive goods to be derived in such a milieu. However, because we are fallen creatures even the good things with which God has blessed us can become occassions for sin.
One example I have noticed is a tendency toward a critical spirit. Certainly this can be said about most people in most places. Nevertheless, in my first visits to the mainline last summer I was prepared (or warned) by some thougtful folks about the active willingness among many to offer direct and frequent criticisms.
While I have been blessed with a wonderful "honeymoon" as pastor in this particular field of ministry I have nevertheless seen glimers of this tendency toward criticism. To be fair, however, I must add that I have not experienced it to be worse than any other place I have been blessed to serve. Also, in the interest of fairness, I am as likely as anyone to grumble and criticize.
We know from God's Word that we have a responsibility to correct and even rebuke our brothers and sisters when they are in error or pursuing a sinful path. The key is to correct or rebuke in a way that is truly redemptive and not merely an excuse to "vent."
The article mentioned above has some wonderful insights on how to offer criticism in a godly way. They are:
- I see my brother/sister as one for whom Christ died (1 Cor. 8:11; Heb. 13:1)
- I come as an equal, who also is a sinner (Rom. 3:9, 23).
- I prepare my heart lest I speak out of wrong motives (Prov. 16:2; 15:28; 16:23).
- I examine my own life and confess my sin first (Matt. 7:3-5).
- I am always patient, in it for the long haul (Eph. 4:2; 1 Cor. 13:4).
- My goal is not to condemn by debating points, but to build up through constructive criticism (Eph. 4:29).
- I correct and rebuke my brother gently, in the hope that God will grant him the grace of repentance even as I myself repent only through His grace (2 Tim. 2:24-25).
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The temptation is, "I will give you power," and usually the issue is using that power for good. That is always what you will say to yourself, and what will be said to you: if you can build a power base and work it to where you can have the means to do what you want to do then you will be successful.Read more of Moore HERE.
That is why we have a denomination where we say we have 16 million Southern Baptists. There are not 16 million Southern Baptists. So why do we claim this? Because it gives us a sense of power. But it is not the kind of power that only comes to the powerful.
Satan says, "Lust after this power, quest after this power: I will give you the kingdoms of the earth." Why is Satan willing to give up his power over all the kingdoms of the earth? Because Satan does not fear Christianity. Satan's authority is in the power to accuse. The power to hold humanity captive to the fear of death and judgment.
Satan is not scared by external conformity to moral values. Satan does not mind family values as long as your ultimate goal is a focus on the family. Satan does not mind social justice, as long as you see justice as primarily social. Satan is willing to give up the kingdoms of the world, apart from the shedding of blood on the cross. If Satan can just bypass the cross, then he will have everything that he wants.
Pastor, Satan does not mind if you preach the decrees of God, if you do not preach the Gospel of the cross. Homeschooling mom, Satan does not mind if you thoroughly catechize your children, if you never teach them about a bloody cross.
Satan will give orphan care, environmental protection, or whatever such issue is important to you provided you do not preach and proclaim and live the power of a cross that cancels his power of condemnation.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Imagine a family who did not prepare their children for college. This would be unthinkable in today’s world. Everyone prepares their child for an academic future. Day-care programs boast about the head start they will give children in their “academic careers.” We buy houses in neighborhoods with “the best schools.” Beyond that, many families place their children in expensive preparatory schools, enduring tremendous financial burdens, incurring debt, and commuting hours each day in an effort to give their children an edge in that all-important race for the apex of academia.
However, little thought is given to preparing our sons to be husbands. Thus, they meander through life without the skills or mind-set necessary to play this most important role until one day, having met “the one,” they pop the question, set a date, and—in the rarest of cases—go to the pastor to learn everything they need to know about being the priest, prophet, provider, and protector of a household in four one-hour sessions. In the words of that great theologian Dr. Phil, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”
As a result, we have families led by men who haven’t the foggiest idea what their role is or how to carry it out. We have wives who were created with a God-given need to be led by godly men, a curse from the days in the garden that puts them at odds with this arrangement, and a cultural mandate to fight against male headship. Top this off with children who long for the security that can only be found in clear roles and boundaries in the home, and the result is a frustrated family mired in dysfunction. Sound familiar?
If we have any desire to change this, we must begin to prepare young men to be husbands and fathers. We must stop preparing them for lives of selfishness, immediate gratification, and perpetual adolescence if we ever expect to turn the tide. The skills required of a husband and father take a lifetime to acquire. Our sons must begin to acquire them sooner rather than later. If we prepare our children to be husbands and wives, and God calls and equips them to be single, we have lost nothing. On the other hand, if we do not prepare our children to be husbands and wives, and they (like the overwhelming majority of people) end up married someday, we have lost a great deal. Prudence would point toward the necessity to prepare our children for marriage, and to do so with all diligence. (pp. 42-44)
Recently 15 Democratic Senators reintroduced the Prevention First Act (s. 21), a bill ostensibly "to reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce abortions, and improve access to women's health care."Read the entire article HERE.
The problem? The bill actually promotes and funds abortion.
Among the bill's provisions is a requirement that any hospital receiving federal funds (including Catholic hospitals) must provide "emergency contraceptives" without charge to victims of sexual assault. These "contraceptives" are often intended to prevent ovulation or fertilization of an egg, but are also designed to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
Those who believe life begins at conception usually mean at fertilization. But their views don't count, says the Prevention First Act, which requires the hospitals to tell victims explicitly, "emergency contraception does not cause an abortion," even though, by most women's definition, it does.
Meanwhile, the Prevention First Act would dramatically increase funding for groups like Planned Parenthood. The organization already gets $335 million a year from the government. The funds cannot be used to perform abortions, but critics rightly point out that they indirectly subsidize abortions.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Evangelical scholars who uphold the inerrancy of God's Word believe that there is a depth to the ways that the New Testament uses the Old that cannot merely be dismissed as error.
Andy Nasselli recently posted this wonderful observation from New Testament scholar Doug Moo:
We have encountered several places in Romans where Paul does not seem to apply the Old Testament in quite the way the original Old Testament context would seem to validate. This creates a theological problem. How can a New Testament writer use the Old Testament to claim that something is true when the Old Testament does not even teach what he claims it does? Such a procedure wouldbe like our trying to prove a doctrine from a text that we have misunderstood. Understandably, we would convince few people. Answers to this problem, which theologians have discussed for years, are not simple. In fact, each of the texts has to be taken on its own, because they present different kinds of problems. But one part of the solution is to recognize that New Testament writers sometimes use the Old Testament not to prove a point but to borrow its language and ethos. An illustration will make the point.You can find this quote in Dr. Moo's outstanding and accessable Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey. I highly recommend this resource for individual or small group study. If you are endevouring to study Romans then this is an excellent place to start. Also, if you would like to dig deeper then Dr. Moo's The Epistle to the Romans in the NICNT series is THE standard.
When I was young, and my sons were even younger, we often played basketball out on the driveway together. Then I, and they, grew. I became weaker and slower; they became bigger, stronger, and faster. Foolishly, I kept trying to compete. One day, I was playing one-on-one with my third son, Lukas. He had grown to about six feet six inches and 240 pounds, and was a very strong, highly skilled basketball player. I warned him, “Watch out, Luke, I’m going to take the ball to the basket on you!” He shot back, “Go ahead, Dad, make my day.” He was “quoting” the lines of the character Dirty Harry from the movie starring Clint Eastwood. Eastwood, portraying a cop, uses these words to dare a criminal to draw his gun on him. Luke did not have a gun; he was not threatening to shoot me. He did not intend to quote the author’s “original intention,” nor did I think that he was doing so. The language was a striking way of making a point: if I was foolish enough to try to take the ball to the basket on Luke, I could very well suffer the violence that Dirty Harry’s bad guy suffered in the movie. The quotation worked because we both knew the movie; it therefore communicated the point very well. So Paul and other New Testament writers often use Old Testament language. They know that their readers will understand it, and the application of the language often helps them to perceive a situation in a new light. Thus, in Romans 10:18, for instance, Paul quotes Psalm 19:4 not because he thinks that this text speaks directly about the preaching of the gospel to Israel; rather, he quotes it because the words would awaken echoes in his
readers’ minds that would lend force to his assertion.
Another very resource that you may want to add to your reference library is the excellent Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The upcoming sermon plan looks like this:
3/22 - The Gospel Driven Church pt. 7 - "Mission: Getting the Gospel Out"
3/29 - "God Will Provide The Lamb" Abraham and Isaac
4/5 - "God and Man at the Cross" Mark 15
4/12 - Easter Sunday (I will be preaching on the risen Christ)
4/19 - We will begin our series on the Epistle to the Hebrews
Saturday, March 14, 2009
WICHITA, Kan. – For abortion opponents, the trial of one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers has been a long time coming, a chance for a little bit of justice after years of seeing their efforts thwarted.Read the entire article HERE.
To abortion-rights supporters, Dr. George Tiller's trial set to begin Monday is the culmination of repeated harassment, a witch hunt in which his foes have been willing to do anything and everything to gain a conviction.
Tiller and his Wichita clinic have been regular targets of anti-abortion demonstrations, including the 45-day "Summer of Mercy" event staged by Operation Rescue in 1991. His clinic was damaged by a pipe bomb in 1986, and in 1993 a protester shot him in both arms.
Abortion opponents contend Tiller illegally aborts fetuses that could survive outside the womb. Kansas law allows late-term abortions if two doctors agree that it is necessary to save a women's life or prevent "substantial and irreversible" harm to "a major bodily function," a phrase that's been interpreted to include mental health.
Tiller is charged with 19 misdemeanors alleging he failed to obtain the required second opinion from an independent physician that a late-term abortion is necessary. If convicted, the Wichita physician could face a year in the county jail or a fine of $2,500 for each charge.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
1. Jobs Are the New Assets
Giesbert describes Mitterand as "a Nietzschean until his dying day." He described himself as a mystic with the mind of a rationalist. He did not deny that a form of transcendence might exist, but he described the idea that his spirit might survive his death as "embarrassing." He was fond of paraphrasing Celine: "Eternity must be very long, especially toward the end."
Mitterand lived by a moral code that matched his worldview. Giesbert described Mitterand's hands as made to strangle men and to seduce women. At his funeral, his mistress and their daughter sat close to Mitterand's wife and their children. As a Nietzchean, he was committed above all to the acquisition and retention of power.
In the end, he died, as he had lived, without God.
Mitterand's secular view of life and death represented an entire generation of European intellectuals and political figures. Deeply committed to atheism, agnosticism, existentialism, or Marxism, these intellectuals simply left no place for God in their worldview. They died without fear of God and without faith in God.
Death forces the most significant questions of life. To consider death -- particularly one's own death -- is to face the question of God, of the meaning of life, the question of life after death.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Here are some more thoughts on the recent decision by President Obama to begin paying for the destruction of human embryos with taxpayer money:
Obama's False Choice
Science Over All?
Obama Also Rescinds Executive Order for Alternatives to ESCR
Stem Cells: A Political History
Many of you may find it interesting that the President rescinded an Executive Order to find alternatives to embryonic stem cell research (4th article). There has been scant if any coverage of this in the main stream media.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Embryonic stem cells are taken from a developing embryo at the blastocyst stage, destroying the embryo, a developing human life. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, are found in all tissues of the growing human being and, according to latest reports, also have the potential to transform themselves into practically all other cell types, or revert to being stem cells with greater reproductive capacity. Embryonic stem cells have not yet been used for even one therapy, while adult stem cells have already been successfully used in numerous patients, including for cardiac infarction (death of some of the heart tissue)...
It is remarkable that in the debate–often carried on with little competence–the potential of embryonic stem cells is exaggerated in a one-sided way, while important moral questions and issues of research strategy are passed over in silence. Generally, advocates of research with embryonic stem cells use as their main argument that such research will enable us to cure all of the diseases that are incurable today–cancer, AIDS, Alzheimers, multiple sclerosis, and so forth. Faced with such a prospect, it is supposed to be "acceptable" to "overlook" a few moral problems.
On closer inspection, however, the much extolled vision of the future turns out to be a case of completely empty promises: Given the elementary state of research today, it is by no means yet foreseeable, whether even one of the hoped-for treatments can be realized. Basically, such promised cures are a deliberate deception, for behind the mirage of a coming medical wonderland, promoted by interested parties, completely other research objectives will be pursued that are to be kept out of public discussion as much as possible.
"Moderate" Mr. Obama's policy is not. It will promote a whole new industry of embryo creation and destruction, including the creation of human embryos by cloning for research in which they are destroyed. It forces American taxpayers, including those who see the deliberate taking of human life in the embryonic stage as profoundly unjust, to be complicit in this practice.
Mr. Obama made a big point in his speech of claiming to bring integrity back to science policy, and his desire to remove the previous administration's ideological agenda from scientific decision-making. This claim of taking science out of politics is false and misguided on two counts.
First, the Obama policy is itself blatantly political. It is red meat to his Bush-hating base, yet pays no more than lip service to recent scientific breakthroughs that make possible the production of cells that are biologically equivalent to embryonic stem cells without the need to create or kill human embryos. Inexplicably -- apart from political motivations -- Mr. Obama revoked not only the Bush restrictions on embryo destructive research funding, but also the 2007 executive order that encourages the National Institutes of Health to explore non-embryo-destructive sources of stem cells.
Second and more fundamentally, the claim about taking politics out of science is in the deepest sense antidemocratic. The question of whether to destroy human embryos for research purposes is not fundamentally a scientific question; it is a moral and civic question about the proper uses, ambitions and limits of science. It is a question about how we will treat members of the human family at the very dawn of life; about our willingness to seek alternative paths to medical progress that respect human dignity.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
This morning a gunman opened fire during the church service of First Baptist Church of Maryville, IL (about 20 minutes from downtown St. Louis), killing the senior pastor, Fred Winter. Rev. Dr. Winters was in the pulpit at the time. He sought to shield the bullets with his Bible, but died from a gunshot wound to his chest. The shooter's gun jammed, and he stabbed himself with a knife. Others were injured in an attempt to restrain him. At this time only one death has been reported.
Dr. Winters had been their Senior Pastor since 1987, the same year that he was married to his wife Cindy Lee. He received a BA from Southwest Baptist University (1986), an MA in Systematic Theology and Church History from Wheaton (1986), an MDiv from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1991), and a PhD from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was the former president of the Illinois Baptist State Association and an adjunct professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He is survived by his wife and two children, Alysia Grace and Cassidy Hope.
Please pray for his family, for this family of brothers and sisters in Christ, and for the unnamed gunman.
Dr. Winter was a graduate of two of my alma maters: Southwest Baptist University and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Friday, March 6, 2009
The term “Docetism” comes from the Greek word dokeo which means “I seem.” So Docetism maintains that Jesus only seemed to have taken on flesh and blood. It is ironic that the apostle John has been accused of being so interested in the deity of Christ that he downplays His humanity. This, however, is a ridiculous charge. The Jesus of John’s Gospel is a real, historical, touchable, fleshy human. It is John who tells us that as Jesus hung on the cross His side was pierced and from Him flowed blood and water (19:34). Clearly, Jesus was no apparition. He did not merely seem to be a flesh and blood human. Truly, Jesus was the Word made flesh.
Jesus’ physical makeup was that of a human. He sweat when he was hot. He tired when his body was taxed. He had need of food, water, and physical rest. He possessed a central nervous system which sent signals from his brain to his extremities. When battered he knew all the physical pain that any other human would experience. Jesus’ DNA was human. He inherited half of his chromosomes from his mother. What is profoundly unique about Jesus’ humanity however is that half of His DNA was supplied miraculously by the working of the Holy Spirit.
Scottish theologian Donald MacLeod writes:
“Through His mother, too, the Lord’s humanness is given specificity and particularity. He was not ‘humanity’. He was a first-century Jew, rooted in the culture of His people. But it is equally true that through His mother (through the umbilical cord) He was keyed in to the life-stream of the human race and to the whole created order. In the incarnation of God the Son, as we have already seen, the redemptive process has entered not merely the world of the spirit but the world of matter. That link with matter never has been, and never will be, severed. The resurrection body of the Lord is the Omega Point of the material creation: the point at which the skill and wisdom and power and artistry of God find their supreme expression” (A Faith to Live By, 135).
It was a man, not a mere disembodied spirit who bore our sins and drank the cup of God’s wrath upon the cross. Roman spikes were driven through real wrists and feet. The Christian faith is not an abstract idea. It is not defined by mystical experience. The Christian faith is rooted in historical fact and biological reality. The Word became flesh.
A proposed bill promising major changes in the U.S. abortion landscape has Roman Catholic bishops threatening to close Catholic hospitals if the Democratic Congress and White House make it law.
The Freedom of Choice Act failed to get out of subcommittee in 2004, but its sponsor is poised to refile it now that former Senate co-sponsor Barack Obama occupies the Oval Office.
A spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the legislation "is among the congressman's priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later."
FOCA, as the bill is known, would make federal law out of the abortion protections established in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade ruling.
The legislation has some Roman Catholic bishops threatening to shutter the country's 624 Catholic hospitals — including 11 in the Archdiocese of St. Louis — rather than comply.
The so-called Freedom of Choice Act is a truly reprehensible piece of legislation. It's sponsors display a lack of moral clarity that is breathtaking. The church must speak up on this issue. Christians of all political stripes ought to be scandalized by our nation's continued slaughter of unborn children. The Freedom of Choice Act will serve only to increase this heinous evil.
It would indeed be a tragedy if Catholic hospitals were forced to close rather than be required to participate in abortions. As someone who has made many pastoral visits in numerous Catholic hospitals over the last 20 years I can tell you that they do outstanding work. I am also deeply thankful for their unwavering commitment to oppose abortion.
Read the entire article HERE.
* Incidentally, I do not approve of the sign on the OKC man's car.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
It is no accident, after all, that our Ancient Foe first appears in Holy Scripture as a snake—imagery that follows the devil all through the canon to the closing vision of the Revelation to St. John. As philosopher Leon Kass puts it, “For the serpent is a mobile digestive tract that swallows its prey whole; in this sense the serpent stands for pure appetite.” Indeed he does—and the whole of Scripture and of Christian tradition warns the Church against the way of the appetites, the way of consuming oneself to death.
We are commanded away from the path of Esau, who sells his inheritance for a pile of red stew (Heb. 12:16–17). We’re directed away from the god of the belly (Phil. 3:19). From the Tree in the garden to the wilderness beyond the Jordan to the present hour, the people of God are tempted to turn their digestive or reproductive tracts away from the mystery of Christ and toward the self as god...
Too many of our churches, too many of us, have made peace with the sexual revolution and the familial chaos left in its wake precisely because we made peace, long before, with the love of money. We wish to live with the same standard of living as the culture around us (there is no sin in that), but we are willing to get there by any means necessary.
Why does the seemingly godly church member in one of our congregations or parishes drive his pregnant teenage daughter to the nearest city under cover of darkness to obtain an abortion? Because, no matter how much he “votes his values,” when crisis hits, he wants his daughter to have a “normal” life. He is “pro-life,” with, as one feminist leader put it, three exceptions: rape, incest, and my situation.
It is a sad fact that abortion has become so sacrosanct in certain circles that many consider it taboo to put in place any measures that would go counter to an absolutely unfettered “right to abortion.”5 The greatest instance of deadly discrimination against women in recorded history is being ignored or even defended by radical feminists and others because they rank the freedom to abort higher than the right to life of girls that are selectively aborted. A staff working paper for the President’s Council on Bioethics points out the cruel irony of pro-abortion feminists refusing to restrict the “right” to abort girls because of son-preference. “The abortion right, which was grounded in the principle of equality for women, could now be used, rightly or wrongly, as a pretext for aborting female fetuses. And the slogan of pro-choice advocates of ‘every child a wanted child’ could now be invoked, again rightly or wrongly, to defend the abortion of unwanted female fetuses.”6 Such positions are contributing to an escalating international crisis.Read the entire article HERE.
It is a curious biological fact that a slightly higher percentage of boys at birth appears to be a natural phenomenon. Demographers noticed early on that, with variations due to ethnicity, the normal ratio of boys to girls is in the range of 103-106 males for every 100 females at birth. An example of this from 1984 is the sex ratio at birth for the United States as divided by racial/national groups; National Average 105.0 boys to 100 girls (White 105.4, Black 103.1, Chinese 104.6 and Japanese 102.6).7 One suggested biological reason for this imbalance is the naturally higher infant mortality of boys. Sex ratios at birth everywhere were remarkably stable until the advent of widely available sex detection technology in the 1970s. Amniocentesis genetic tests and later ultrasound machines opened a Pandora’s Box. Professor Jérôme Lejeune, the geneticist who developed the amniocentesis test, proved prophetic when he predicted that when given a choice people would overwhelmingly opt for a boy. He realized the catastrophic cultural and societal ramifications that would result if sex-selection became prevalent. After only three decades, preborn sex determination and easy recourse to abortion in cultures with historic son-preference has led to historically unprecedented declines in female birth rates.