Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Worries, Doctrine Apathy

I'm surprised each year by the amount of concern and attention given to whether Christians should participate in Halloween, especially when the same amount of concern and attention isn't given to issues at least of equal weight and what I think have more weight.  Many Christians delve into the details of the history of Halloween in a sincere effort to try to make a good decision about what's pleasing to God; I just don't see the same time and attention given to studying the details of central Christian beliefs like the Trinity or justification, or the Apostles and Nicene Creed.  I dare say that many of the Christians who decide they cannot participate in Halloween, have never taken note of the fact that October 31 is also Reformation Day - and none of us Protestants would be here enjoying the grace of God as we do if it weren't for that day.  Even churches that decide to opt out of Halloween or opt in for Harvest Festivals take little notice of Reformation Day, which restored the Gospel message that we treasure.
I grew up Lutheran, attended Lutheran grade school, and each year we'd have a Halloween costume parade, then change our clothes and have a Reformation Day service - and another one on Sunday at church.  I don't think there was the level of worry over whether Christians should participate in Halloween back then, and certainly our parents, pastors, and teachers were no less pious or dedicated Christians.  In fact, they even knew Christian doctrine quite well and passed it on to us in word and deed - without ever worrying over Halloween.
I cite the example of my own childhood at church not as a justification to celebrate Halloween - it's not an argument.  I offer it as an illustration that participating in Halloween doesn't negate sound Christian living and coincided comfortably with serious Christian living.  It's possible we shouldn't have celebrated Halloween at my Lutheran school (I do think it was okay), but I think it was preferable that our teachers and pastor took very seriously training us in the Christian faith even if they spent no time worrying about Haloween.  I think that's better than obsessing over Halloween and neglecting the weightier things of Christianity.
I'm not talking about the decision Christians make about what to do about Halloween.  That's a matter of conscience each has to make.  I'm talking about the inordinate energy, attention, thought, and focus spent on what to do about Halloween and the polar opposite apathy about theology, doctrine, church history.
It's fair to be concerned and think carefully about how we participate in the culture and Halloween.  It's important to evaluate how cultural practices influence us.  It's essential to use wisdom and discernment how we participate in Halloween, if we do.  It's, obviously, a duty to avoid any occultic involvement.  What I'm talking about is the level of energy and attention given to it and the contrasting lack of it given to arguable more central issues of Christianity.  Christians can be shocked that another Christian will go trick or treating, but not blink an eye of awareness or concern when another Christian distorts the doctrine of the Trinity.
I'm not sure what this inordinate worry over Halloween and apathy about doctrine says about contemporary Christians, but I think it says something - and it's not good.  One friend's theory is the inordinate emphasis in modern Christianity on application and therapeutic teaching to the near exclusion of theology and Bible study (not just Bible reading).  That sounds like a pretty good theory to me.
Whether you decide to opt out of Halloween, which is just fine, or whether you dress up, let's also remember it's Reformation Day and that we have a treasure and privilege of studying the Bible ourselves and learning from the rich heritage of church history and the careful thinking and love for the truth people committed to hand down the faith to us. Let's be even more diligent in learning the full teaching God has revealed through His Word than we are in investigating Halloween.
Stand To Reason

Eric Clapton: Five Long Years

William Wallace was a monster, admits Gibson

From the moment that Mel Gibson’s William Wallace — in blue and white facepaint and a tartan kilt — charged the English with the cry of “They can take our lives but they will never take our freedom”, historians have lined up to point out that, actually, Wallace was not the poor villager depicted in Braveheart, but a landowner and minor knight.
Now, 15 years on from filming, Gibson has conceded that the film played fast and loose with the historical truth — and that Wallace was “a monster” who was recast as the good guy for the sake of Hollywood convention.
Yet the star’s admission has done little to appease historians, who have claimed that Wallace’s real character probably fell somewhere inbetween.
Gibson, who also directed the 13th-century epic, spoke out in an interview to mark 15 years since its release. He said: "Wallace was a monster. He always smelt of smoke; he was always burning people’s villages down. He was like what the Vikings called ‘a berserker’.
“He wasn’t as nice as the character we saw up there on the screen. We romanticised him a bit. We shifted the balance because someone’s got to be the good guy against the bad guy; that’s the way stories are told.”
Dr Fiona Watson, a Wallace biographer and former University of Stirling academic, said that Gibson’s new position was fascinating. “After 15 years, Mel Gibson’s giving us the other version of the myth, the knuckles dragging across the floor one, which is equally untrue,” she said.
“The real man surely lies in between. After all, Wallace went to the Continent on diplomatic missions after the debacle at Falkirk (the 1298 battle), which Wallace lost. I don’t know of many berserkers who did that.”
She added: “And if we’re looking for uncivilised behaviour in that period then Wallace is not the only one indulging in it — Edward I of England was surely at least as bad, if not worse.”
Despite the film’s commercial and critical success — it won five Oscars, including those for Best Film and Best Director — Braveheart was described by some as “Jocksploitation”. Commentators said that it created a second Brigadoon: a fantasy Scotland based on lies. The areas of artistic interpretation include Wallace’s love affair with Queen Isabella. She would have been aged 2 at the time.
And the errors extend beyond the script to the wardrobe department. The kilts, which were worn by all Scots on the screen, were not invented for another three centuries. The historian Sharon L. Krossa likened it to “a film about Colonial America showing the colonial men wearing 20th-century business suits”.
Randall Wallace, the screenwriter, has defended his script against such onslaughts. He has said that it was based more on the earliest account of Wallace’s death, by the minstrel Blind Harry, than on any historical source. “Is Blind Harry true? I don’t know,” he said. “I know that it spoke to my heart and that’s what matters to me.”
Braveheart was also adopted by many Scottish Nationalists as a rallying call for independence, a move that Gibson said he had not given permission for. Leaflets distributed at cinemas when the film was released — pre-devolution — read: “Independence isn’t just history. Most European nations have it. Scotland needs it again and now almost 40 per cent of the Scottish people agree. Most of them vote SNP.”
Times Online

Offendedness is a Double-Edged Sword

Comedian Larry David is best known as the creator, writer, and producer of Seinfeld.  He also plays a fictional version of himself on the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”  David is currently in hot water  (see this and this) for a “Curb” episode that aired last Sunday in which David accidentally urinates on a painting of Jesus.  A woman later sees the painting and mistakes it for a miraculous crying Jesus.  She brings her mother back to the bathroom and both kneel in prayer.
Not surprisingly, Christians, and Catholics in particular it seems, do not find peeing on Jesus very funny.  Deal Hudson, author and publisher of InsideCatholic.com asks “Why is it that people are allowed to publicly show that level of disrespect for Christian symbols? If the same thing was done to a symbol of any other religions — Jewish or Muslim — there’d be a huge outcry. It’s simply not a level playing field.”  Hudson has demanded an apology from the show’s producers and writing team.  Similarly, Bill Donahue of the Catholic League criticized the episode as crude and insulting.
Clearly, urinating on a picture of Jesus is not going to win any accolades from the Church.  The episode from last Sunday sounds tasteless, wildly irreverent, and just plain stupid.  It’s no wonder Christians don’t like it.
But playing the grievance game with these kind of stunts is not always a good move.  For starters, it attracts more attention to the offending show.  More to the point, it overlooks the fact that just about everything on television is tasteless, irreverent, and stupid.  If we are going to be offended by sin, we should be disgusted by more than the occasional shock episode.  We should be just as opposed to taking the Lord’s name in vain, fornication, lust-enticing sensuality, glamorized crime, voyeuristic entertainment, and all manner of worldliness.  Sure, peeing on a picture Jesus is bound to get more headlines, but there are a thousand other sins that get broadcast every day and every night.
Most importantly we should be cautious about demanding apologies because offendedness is a double-edged sword.  Sure, there’s a time to publicly call out trash as trash.  And I’m sure there’s a double standard when it comes to mocking other religions.  The majority will always makes for safer satire.  But Christians make a mistake when they give into our culture’s obsession with being victims.  We have the right to free speech in this country.  So of course we are going to be upset with things that other people say and do.  But is it surprising that Larry David thinks Jesus Christ is a joke?  Do I need to be offended?  God’s thinks Larry David is a joke (Psalm 2:4).  Besides, when we go around asking for apologies when people mock what we value, we set ourselves up for the same demand the next time Miss California defends biblical marriage or Tim Tebow puts Bible verses under his eyes.  It’s not a crime to offend people.
Now, just to be clear, the issue is different when anti-Christian trash gets paid for through taxpayer supported programs and agencies.  But when junk shows up on HBO, or on any station for that matter, the best way to fight back is simply to turn off our TVs.
Come to think of it, that could solve a lot of problems.
Kevin DeYoung

Friday, October 30, 2009

Late Show Top Ten - For Detroit Lions Fans

Top Ten Revelations In Chad Ochocinco's Autobiography
10. The book is all about my life as a hockey mom from Alaska
9. I was once put on the disabled list when they found an ocho in my cinco
8. During the season my QB Carson Palmer and I sleep in bunk beds
7. I'm going to ask Tom Hanks to play me in the movie
6. There's nothing like winding down after a big game with a Red Bull and a DVR of "Tyra"
5. I like tacos
4. Brett Favre is so old, his social security number is 1
3. Terrell Owens doesn't like it when you criticize his teammate
2. I'm planning a special touchdown celebration that involves pulling a dancing raccoon out of my pants
1. I thank the Lord every day I don't play for the Lions

The Problem In Detroit

"There is a certain way things get done in Detroit. And this is part of that political process. It is part of our culture."

Jai-Lee Dearing, a businessman running for city council in Detroit, on political candidates in the city paying groups for their endorsement.

Crazy Nancy and her Public Option


Sonny Boy Williamson - Nine below zero

Scary Halloween Costumes for Christians


United with Christ

The following is one of the sweetest descriptions of the believers union with Christ I have read. The text originates from a fictional dialogue between a pastor, a legalist, an antinomian, and a young Christian, as written by Edward Fisher in his 1650 book The Marrow of Modern Divinity (Christian Focus, 2009). The Marrow Controversy is an important event that raised significant questions about how we should best explain the grace of God, the Christian life, and even the gospel!
The following excerpt explains the reality of the Christian’s union with Christ and the far-reaching consequences of living consciously aware of this union. The language is beautiful.
I tell you from Christ,
and under the hand of the Spirit,
that your person is accepted,
your sins are done away,
and you shall be saved;
and if an angel from heaven should tell you otherwise,
let him be accursed.
Therefore, you may (without doubt) conclude
that you are a happy man;
for by means of this your matching with Christ,
you are become one with him,
and one in him,
you ‘dwell in him, and he in you’ (1 John 4:13).
He is ‘your well beloved, and you are his’ (S. of S. 2:16).
So that the marriage union betwixt Christ and you
is more than a bare notion or apprehension of your mind;
for it is a
special,
spiritual, and
real union:
it is an union betwixt the nature of Christ,
God and man,
and you;
it is a knitting and closing,
not only of your apprehension with a Saviour,
but also of your soul with a Saviour.
Whence it must needs follow that you cannot be condemned,
except Christ be condemned with you;
neither can Christ be saved,
except you be saved with him.

And as by means of corporeal marriage all things become common betwixt man and wife;
even so, by means of this spiritual marriage,
all things become common betwixt Christ and you;
for when Christ hath married his spouse unto himself,
he passeth over all his estate unto her;
so that whatsoever Christ is or hath,
you may boldly challenge as your own.
‘He is made unto you, of God,
wisdom,
righteousness,
sanctification,
and redemption’ (1 Cor. 1:30).
And surely,
by virtue of this near union it is,
that as Christ is called ‘the Lord our righteousness’ (Jer. 23:6),
even so is the church called, ‘the Lord our righteousness’ (33:16).
I tell you,
you may,
by virtue of this union,
boldly take upon yourself,
as your own,
Christ’s watching,
abstinence,
travails,
prayers,
persecutions,
and slanders;
yea,
his tears,
his sweat,
his blood,
and all that ever he did
and suffered
in the space of three and thirty years,
with his
passion,
death,
burial,
resurrection,
and ascension;
for they are all yours.
And as Christ passes over all his estate unto his spouse,
so does he require that she should pass over all unto him.
Wherefore,
you being now married unto Christ,
you must give all that you have of your own unto him;
and truly you have nothing of your own
but sin,
and, therefore, you must give him that.
I beseech you, then,
say unto Christ with bold confidence,
I give unto thee, my dear husband,
my unbelief,
my mistrust,
my pride,
my arrogancy,
my ambition,
my wrath,
and anger,
my envy,
my covetousness,
my evil thoughts,
affections,
and desires;
I make one bundle of these and all my other offences,
and give them unto thee.
And thus was Christ made ‘sin for us, that knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Cor. 5:21).
‘Now then,’
says Luther,
‘let us compare these things together,
and we shall find inestimable treasure.
Christ is full of
grace,
life,
and saving health;
and the soul is freight-full of all
sin,
death,
and damnation;
but let faith come betwixt these two,
and it shall come to pass,
that Christ shall be laden with
sin,
death,
and hell;
and unto the soul shall be imputed
grace,
life,
and salvation.
Who then is able to value the royalty of this marriage accordingly?
Who is able to comprehend the glorious riches of his grace,
where this rich and righteous husband,
Christ,
doth take unto wife this poor and wicked harlot,
redeeming her from all devils,
and garnishing her with all his own jewels?
So that you,
through the assuredness of your faith in Christ, your husband,
are delivered from all sins,
made safe from death,
guarded from hell,
and endowed with the
everlasting righteousness,
life,
and saving health
of this your husband Christ.’”

—Edward Fisher
, The Marrow of Modern Divinity (Christian Focus, 2009), pp. 166–167.
Miscellanies

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Late Show Top Ten

Top Ten Questions On The Northwest Airlines Pilot Job Application
10. How many sleep hours have you logged while flying?
9. Do you have any flight experience because if not, that's totally cool
8. How many times have you safely landed a plane in a river?
7. Are you at the controls of an airplane right now?
6. Are you a cop?
5. Do you have a good attorney?
4. Name the jet engine that makes this sound: Pssshhhhhheeewwwwwww!
3. Are you available for both take-offs and landings?
2. Besides "using my laptop" and "having a heated conversation" what other lame excuses can you come up with for falling asleep in the cockpit and missing an airport by 150 miles?
1. Are you drunk right now?

Bob Dylan- Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues [Live]

Primordial Soup

Double click to enlarge


The Sufficiency of Grace by R.C. Sproul

The classic issue between Augustinian theology and all forms of semi-Pelagianism focuses on one aspect of the order of salvation (ordo salutis): What is the relationship between regeneration and faith? Is regeneration a monergistic or synergistic work? Must a person first exercise faith in order to be born again? Or must rebirth occur before a person is able to exercise faith? Another way to state the question is this: Is the grace of regeneration operative or cooperative?
Monergistic regeneration means that regeneration is accomplished by a single actor, God. It means literally a “one-working.” Synergism, on the other hand, refers to a work that involves the action of two or more parties. It is a co-working. All forms of semi-Pelagianism assert some sort of synergism in the work of regeneration. Usually God’s assisting grace is seen as a necessary ingredient, but it is dependent on human cooperation for its efficacy.
The Reformers taught not only that regeneration does precede faith but also that it must precede faith. Because of the moral bondage of the unregenerate sinner, he cannot have faith until he is changed internally by the operative, monergistic work of the Holy Spirit. Faith is regeneration’s fruit, not its cause.
According to semi-Pelagianism regeneration is wrought by God, but only in those who have first responded in faith to him. Faith is seen not as the fruit of regeneration, but as an act of the will cooperating with God’s offer of grace.
Evangelicals are so called because of their commitment to the biblical and historical doctrine of justification by faith alone. Because the Reformers saw sola fide as central and essential to the biblical gospel, the term evangelical was applied to them. Modern evangelicals in great numbers embrace the sola fide of the Reformation, but have jettisoned the sola gratia that undergirded it. Packer and Johnston assert:
“Justification by faith only” is a truth that needs interpretation. The principle of sola fide is not rightly understood till it is seen as anchored in the broader principle of sola gratia. What is the source and status of faith? Is it the God-given means whereby the God-given justification is received, or is it a condition of justification which is left to man to fulfill? Is it a part of God’s gift of salvation, or is it man’s own contribution to salvation? Is our salvation wholly of God, or does it ultimately depend on something that we do for ourselves? Those who say the latter (as the Arminians later did) thereby deny man’s utter helplessness in sin, and affirm that a form of semi-Pelagianism is true after all. It is no wonder, then, that later Reformed theology condemned Arminianism as being in principle a return to Rome (because in effect it turned faith into a meritorious work) and a betrayal of the Reformation (because it denied the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, which was the deepest religious and theological principle of the Reformers’ thought). Arminianism was, indeed, in Reformed eyes a renunciation of New Testament Christianity in favour of New Testament Judaism; for to rely on oneself for faith is no different in principle from relying on oneself for works, and the one is as un-Christian and anti-Christian as the other. In the light of what Luther says to Erasmus, there is no doubt that he would have endorsed this judgment."
I must confess that the first time I read this paragraph, I blinked. On the surface it seems to be a severe indictment of Arminianism. Indeed it could hardly be more severe than to speak of it as “un-Christian” or “anti-Christian.” Does this mean that Packer and Johnston believe Arminians are not Christians? Not necessarily. Every Christian has errors of some sort in his thinking. Our theological views are fallible. Any distortion in our thought, any deviation from pure, biblical categories may be loosely deemed “un-Christian” or “anti-Christian.” The fact that our thought contains un-Christian elements does not demand the inference that we are therefore not Christians at all.
I agree with Packer and Johnston that Arminianism contains un-Christian elements in it and that their view of the relationship between faith and regeneration is fundamentally un-Christian. Is this error so egregious that it is fatal to salvation? People often ask if I believe Arminians are Christians? I usually answer, “Yes, barely.” They are Christians by what we call a felicitous inconsistency.
What is this inconsistency? Arminians affirm the doctrine of justification by faith alone. They agree that we have no meritorious work that counts toward our justification, that our justification rests solely on the righteousness and merit of Christ, that sola fide means justification is by Christ alone, and that we must trust not in our own works, but in Christ’s work for our salvation. In all this they differ from Rome on crucial points.
Packer and Johnston note that later Reformed theology, however, condemned Arminianism as a betrayal of the Reformation and in principle as a return to Rome. They point out that Arminianism “in effect turned faith into a meritorious work.”
We notice that this charge is qualified by the words in effect. Usually Arminians deny that their faith is a meritorious work. If they were to insist that faith is a meritorious work, they would be explicitly denying justification by faith alone. The Arminian acknowledges that faith is something a person does. It is a work, though not a meritorious one. Is it a good work? Certainly it is not a bad work. It is good for a person to trust in Christ and in Christ alone for his or her salvation. Since God commands us to trust in Christ, when we do so we are obeying this command. But all Christians agree that faith is something we do. God does not do the believing for us. We also agree that our justification is by faith insofar as faith is the instrumental cause of our justification. All the Arminian wants and intends to assert is that man has the ability to exercise the instrumental cause of faith without first being regenerated. This position clearly negates sola gratia, but not necessarily sola fide.
Then why say that Arminianism “in effect” makes faith a meritorious work? Because the good response people make to the gospel becomes the ultimate determining factor in salvation. I often ask my Arminian friends why they are Christians and other people are not. They say it is because they believe in Christ while others do not. Then I inquire why they believe and others do not? “Is it because you are more righteous than the person who abides in unbelief?” They are quick to say no. “Is it because you are more intelligent?” Again the reply is negative. They say that God is gracious enough to offer salvation to all who believe and that one cannot be saved without that grace. But this grace is cooperative grace. Man in his fallen state must reach out and grasp this grace by an act of the will, which is free to accept or reject this grace. Some exercise the will rightly (or righteously), while others do not. When pressed on this point, the Arminian finds it difficult to escape the conclusion that ultimately his salvation rests on some righteous act of the will he has performed. He has “in effect” merited the merit of Christ, which differs only slightly from the view of Rome.

An excerpt from R.C. Sproul's book, Willing to Believe

God's Love

In a sermon on John 3:16 (“God so loved, that he gave…”), Puritan Thomas Manton makes the following point on God’s indescribable love towards sinners in sending His Son:
“Love is at the bottom of all. We may give a reason of other things, but we cannot give a reason of his love. God showed his wisdom, power, justice, and holiness in our redemption by Christ. If you ask why he made so much ado about a worthless creature, raised out of the dust of the ground at first, and had now disordered himself, and could be of no use to him, we have an answer at hand: Because he loved us. If you continue to ask, But why did he love us? We have no other answer but because he loved us; for beyond the first rise of things we cannot go. And the same reason is given by Moses, Deuteronomy 7:7–8: ‘The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you…’ That is, in short, he loved you because he loved you. All came from his free and undeserved mercy; higher we cannot go in seeking after the causes of what is done for our salvation.”
–Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 2:340–341.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Late Show Top Ten

Top Ten Signs You Are Watching A Bad Ghost Movie
10. Instead of ghosts, house haunted by goats
9. The only "Boo!" you hear is the audience yelling at the screen
8. Main characters spend bulk of movie in bed with swine flu
7. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan's brother, Larry Night Shyamalan
6. Ghost torments people by making delicious paella and not sharing it
5. Creature absent from film for 80 minutes while working on his laptop
4. Creepy sounds turn out to be improperly loaded dishwasher
3. Ghost haunts people for attention so it can get a reality show deal
2. Scariest thing is the size of the large soda they sell at the snack counter
1. Evil spirit does all of its haunting via Twitter

Sonny Boy Williamson - Keep it to Yourself

Live in the UK 1963. Otis Spann on Piano, Matt 'Guitar' Murphy on Guitar, Willie Dixon on Bass and Bill Stepney on Drums

Reformed Primate



B:Believers-only Atoned
N:Non-conditional Election
A:Absolute Depravity
N:None of the elect shall be lost
A:All-Powerful Grace

Reaching the Next Generation: Challenge Them With Truth

In the church growth heyday, scholars and pastors were wrestling with how to reach out without dumbing down.  Today I would argue that we reach out precisely by not dumbing down.  The door is open like never before to challenge people with good Bible teaching.  People want to learn doctrine.  They really do, even non-Christians.  Whether they accept it all or not, they want to know what Christians actually believe.  Young people will not put up with feel good pablum.  They want the truth straight up, unvarnished, and unashamed.
Thom Rainer did a study a number of years ago asking formerly unchurched people the open ended question “What factors led you to choose this church?”  A lot of surveys had been done asking the unchurched what they would like in a church.  But this study asked the formerly unchurched why they actually were now in a church.  The results were surprising.  11% said worship style led them to their church.  25% said children’s/youth ministry.  37% said that sensed God’s presence at their church.  41% said someone had witnessed to them from the church, and 49% mentioned friendliness as the reason for choosing their church.  Can you guess the top two responses?  Doctrine and preaching—88% said the doctrine led them to their church and 90% said the preaching led them there, in particular, pastor who preached with certitude and conviction. One woman remarked, “We attended a lot of different churches for different reasons before we became Christians.  I tell you, so many of the preachers spoke with little authority; they hardly ever dealt with tough issues of Scripture, and they soft-sold the other issues.  Frank and I know now that we were hungry for the truth.  Why can’t preachers learn that shallow and superficial preaching doesn’t help anybody, including people like us who weren’t Christians.”  When it comes to reaching outsiders, bold, deep, biblical preaching is not the problem.  It’s part of the solution.
The next generation in our churches needs to be challenged too.  In his book on the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers, Christian Smith coined the phrase “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” to describe the spirituality of American youth.  They believe in being a good moral person.  They believe religion should give you peace, happiness, and security.  They believe God exists and made the world, but is not particularly involved in the day-to-day stuff of life.  We are na├»ve if we think this is not the faith of some of the best and brightest in our churches, or even those reading this blog!
Church people are not stupid.  They are not incapable of learning.  For the most part, they simply haven’t been taught.  No one has challenged them to think a deep thought or read a difficult book.  No one has asked them to articulate their faith in biblical and theological categories.  We have expected almost nothing out of our young people, so that’s what we get.  A couple generations ago 20 year olds were getting married, starting a family, working at a real job or off somewhere fighting Nazis.  Today 35 year olds are hanging out on Facebook, looking for direction, and trying to find themselves.  We have been coddled when we should have been challenged.
Challenging the next generation with truth starts with honest self-examination.  We must ask, “Do I know the plotline of the Bible?  Do I know Christian theology?  Do I read any serious Christian books?  Do I know anything about justification, redemption, original sin, propitiation, and progressive sanctification?  Do I really understand the gospel?”  We cannot challenge others until we have first challenged ourselves.  The “average” churchgoer must think more deeply about his faith.  Many Christians need to realize, like I did one night in college when confronted with some of my own ignorance, that they don’t really know what they believe or why they believe it.
You’ve heard it said that Christianity in America is a mile wide and an inch deep.  Well, it’s more like half a mile wide now.  Christian influence is not as pervasive as it once was.  I’m convinced that if Christianity is to be a mile wide again in America, it will first have to find a way to be a mile deep.  Shallow Christianity will not last in the coming generation and it will not grow.  Cultural Christianity is fading.  The church in the 21s century must go big on truth or go home.
Kevin DeYoung

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Soundbites Which one sounds “divisive” to you?

By Mark Steyn

Here is a tale of two soundbites. First:

“Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”

Second:

“The third lesson and tip actually comes from two of my favorite political philosophers, Mao Tse-Tung and Mother Teresa. Not often coupled with each other, but the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is: You’re going to make choices. . . . But here’s the deal: These are your choices; they are no one else’s. In 1947, when Mao Tse-Tung was being challenged within his own party on his own plan to basically take China over, Chiang Kai-Shek and the nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army. . . . They had everything on their side. And people said ‘How can you win . . . ? How can you do this against all of the odds against you?’ And Mao Tse-Tung says, ‘You fight your war and I’ll fight mine . . . ’ You don’t have to accept the definition of how to do things. . . . You fight your war, you let them fight theirs. Everybody has their own path.”

The first quotation was attributed to Rush Limbaugh. He never said it. There is no tape of him saying it. There is no transcript of him saying it. After all, if he had done so at any point in the last 20 years, someone would surely have mentioned it at the time.

Yet CNN, MSNBC, ABC, other networks, and newspapers all around the country cheerfully repeated the pro-slavery quotation and attributed it, falsely, to Rush Limbaugh. And planting a flat-out lie in his mouth wound up getting Rush bounced from a consortium hoping to buy the St. Louis Rams. The NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, said the talkshow host was a “divisive” figure, and famously non-divisive figures like the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson expressed the hope that, with Mister Divisive out of the picture, the NFL could now “unify.”

The second quotation — hailing Mao — was uttered back in June to an audience of high-school students by Anita Dunn, the White House communications director. I know she uttered it because I watched the words issuing from her mouth on The Glenn Beck Show on Fox News. But don’t worry. Nobody else played it.

So if I understand correctly:

Rush Limbaugh is so “divisive” that to get him fired leftie agitators have to invent racist soundbites to put in his mouth.

But the White House communications director is so un-divisive that she can be invited along to recommend Chairman Mao as a role model for America’s young.

From my unscientific survey, U.S. school students are all but entirely unaware of Mao Tse-Tung, and the few that aren’t know him mainly as a T-shirt graphic or “agrarian reformer.” What else did he do? Here, from Jonathan Fenby’s book Modern China, is the great man in a nutshell:

“Mao’s responsibility for the extinction of anywhere from 40 to 70 million lives brands him as a mass killer greater than Hitler or Stalin.”

Hey, that’s pretty impressive when they can’t get your big final-score death toll nailed down to closer than 30 million. Still, as President Obama’s communications director might say, he lived his dream, and so can you, although if your dream involves killing, oh, 50
80 million Chinamen, you may have your work cut out. But let’s stick with the Fenby figure: He killed 4070 million Chinamen. Whoops, can you say “Chinamen” or is that racist? Oh, and sexist. So hard keeping up with the Sensitivity Police in this pansified political culture, isn’t it? But you can kill 40–70 million Chinamen and that’s fine and dandy: You’ll be cited as an inspiration by the White House to an audience of high-school students. You can be anything you want to be! Look at Mao: He wanted to be a mass murderer, and he lived his dream! You can too!


The White House now says that Anita Dunn was “joking.” Anyone tempted to buy that spin should look at the tape: If this is her Friars Club routine, she needs to work on her delivery. But, for the sake of argument, try a thought experiment:

Midway through Bush’s second term, press secretary Tony Snow goes along to Chester A. Arthur High School to give a graduation speech. “I know it looks tough right now. You’re young, you’re full of zip, but the odds seem hopeless. Let me tell you about another young man facing tough choices 80 years ago. It’s last orders at the Munich beer garden — gee, your principal won’t thank me for mentioning that — and all the natural blonds are saying, ‘But Adolf, see reason. The Weimar Republic’s here to stay, and besides the international Jewry control everything.’ And young Adolf Hitler puts down his foaming stein and stands on the table and sings a medley of ‘I Gotta Be Me,’ ‘(Learning to Love Yourself Is) The Greatest Love of All,’ and ‘The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow.’” And by the end of that night there wasn’t a Jewish greengrocer’s anywhere in town with glass in its windows. Don’t play by the other side’s rules; make your own kind of music. And always remember: You’ve gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?”

Anyone think he’d still have a job?

Well, so what? All those dead Chinese are no-name peasants a long way away. What’s the big deal? If you say, “Chairman Mao? Wasn’t he the wacko who offed 70 million Chinks?”, you’ll be hounded from public life for saying the word “Chinks.” But, if you commend the murderer of those 70 million as a role model in almost any school room in the country from kindergarten to the Ivy League, it’s so entirely routine that only a crazy like Glenn Beck would be boorish enough to point it out.

Which is odd, don’t you think? Because it suggests that our present age of politically correct hypersensitivity is not just morally unserious but profoundly decadent.

Twenty years ago this fall, the Iron Curtain was coming down in Europe. Across the Warsaw Pact, the jailers of the Communist prison states lost their nerve, and the cell walls crumbled. Matt Welch, the editor of Reason, wonders why the anniversary is going all but unobserved: Why aren’t we making more of the biggest mass liberation in history?

Well, because to celebrate it would involve recognizing it as a victory over Communism. And, after the Left’s long march through the institutions of the West, most are not willing to do that. There’s the bad totalitarianism (Nazism) and the good totalitarianism (Communism), whose apologists and, indeed, fetishists can still be found everywhere, even unto the White House.

Rush Limbaugh’s remarks are “divisive”; Anita Dunn’s are entirely normal. But don’t worry, the new Fairness Doctrine will take care of the problem.

Ryan Ferguson dramatically reciting Psalm 25 (ESV) from the WorshipGod08 Conference (July 30-August 2, 2008).

Top Ten Northwest Airlines Pilot Excuses

Late Show Top Ten 
Top Ten Northwest Airlines Pilot Excuses
10. "Bunch of fat guys seated on right side of plane made us vector east"
9. "We get paid by the hour"
8. "MapQuest always takes you the long way"
7. "Tired of that show-off Sullenberger getting all the attention"
6. "You try steering one of those airplanes after eight or nine cocktails"
5. "Wanted to catch end of in-flight movie"
4. "Activating autopilot and making occasional P.A. announcements is exhausting"
3. "According to our map, we only missed target by half-an-inch"
2. "For a change, decided to send luggage to the right city and lose the passengers"
1. "Thought we saw Balloon Boy"

Bobby Blue Bland (The Only Thing Missing Is You)

Get The Original


What would you say to someone who feels like the Spirit's leading has authority over Scripture?

What would you say to someone who feels like the Spirit's leading has authority over Scripture?
I would take them to 1 Corinthians 12-14 where the whole issue of prophecy and speaking in tongues is at stake. And I would show them how the apostle Paul relates his authority to those spiritual gifts.
Because Paul acknowledges that the Spirit can lead. And he acknowledges that there is such a thing as speaking in tongues. And he acknowledges that there is such a thing as a prophetic gifting by which God may bring something to mind that somebody needs at that very moment that would penetrate their hearts in ways that you wouldn't any other way.
He acknowledges all of that, and then he puts it all under his authority. He says, "I say this; and if you judge otherwise, you are not recognized."
Whoa! What about the Holy Spirit, excuse me? And Paul would say, "I'm speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."
The apostles viewed their teaching as from God in an authoritative, inerrant way. All of the spiritual gifts are from God in a non-authoritative, non-inerrant way, and therefore always subordinate to the inspired word of God.
That's what I would do first is take them there.
A supplementary thing I might do is just tell them some stories about horrific mistakes people have made, and how lives have been deeply damaged by people who are absolutely sure they heard from God, and then they hurt people very badly because it didn't turn out the way that they thought it might.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Anxious Impatience

Craig M. Gay, in his book The Way of the (Modern) World: Or, Why It’s Tempting to Live As If God Doesn’t Exist (Eerdmans, 1998), seeks to expose the symptoms of worldliness in the postmodern world. The organization of the book is quite thoughtful and the author builds a new theme off the previously theme, eventually tying all the themes together.
In a very basic form, the book develops around five progressive building blocks:
(a) Control—Man seeks to control his world through technology and rationalism. By this he refers to the impulse in the postmodern heart to control every area of life through technology, not merely to improve certain areas of life.
(b) Secularity—The aspirations of the modern man to this techno-rational control of the world leave little room for any god, save the “self-defining self.” God—if ever referenced at all—becomes a “god of the gaps,” a god whose necessity is limited to the areas of life that are outside of our control. Think “acts of god.”
(c) Individualism—The forces of control and secularity combine to encourage individualization, a fix-it-yourself mentality that breaks apart personal relationships and community.
(d) Anxiety—Man becomes an individualized self. But “the assumption of godlike responsibilities has turned out to be a heavy burden and that we have become increasingly anxious beneath the weight of this burden” (p. 308).
(e) Impatience—Combine control, secularity, individualism, and the anxiety from these godlike responsibilities and you end up with “what is possibly the master theme of modernity, and now of ‘postmodernity’: that of impatience” (p. 308).
This progression is helpful. And when the author begins to weave together the anxious impatience of our world his work really proves practical. Because, as Christians, we are called to cultivate an eschatological worldview and the spiritual disciplines of waiting and watching, distinctives directly undermined by modern forms of worldliness. I will leave the topics of prayer and community is for another post altogether.
I mention the five building blocks of his book because it provides an introduction to an important quote from the conclusion on the topic of “anxious impatience.” Gay writes:
…anxious impatience is evident in virtually all aspects of modern social and cultural existence, and not least in the increasingly frantic pace with which so much of life is carried on today. It is largely by reason of impatient frustration, after all, that we have been persuaded to try to perform the functions of the hidden—and, indeed, seemingly absent—God.
“God is either unwilling or incapable of helping us,” we say in effect, “therefore we have no choice but to help ourselves, to take matters into our own hands, and to try to engineer a habitable environment for ourselves.” Ironically, it is this same anxious impatience that has consequently moved us to surrender ourselves so naively to the dehumanizing techniques of the modern world.
Indeed, it is anxious haste that has incited us to mortgage ourselves to technical rationality for the sake of its promise of control. “After we have taken control of the world,” so we tell ourselves, implying that taking control of the world must somehow enable us to take control of ourselves, “then we will discover how to be human persons again.” But the horizon keeps receding, and we always seem to be waiting for the promised control to be established.
The longer we are forced to wait, however, the more anxious we become; and the more anxious we become, the more prone we are to placing what little hope we have left into the possibility of technical-rational control, and thus to giving ourselves over to dehumanizing modern systems; and so forth. It is an unfortunately vicious cycle.
Modern secular society is thus a culture of anxious impatience, a culture in which so much stress has been placed upon human abilities and human agency that the modern mind has effectively lost the ability to trust anything, or more importantly anyone, else.
—Craig M. Gay, The Way of the (Modern) World: Or, Why It’s Tempting to Live As If God Doesn’t Exist (Eerdmans, 1998), pp. 310–311.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Robert Cray, Eric Clapton - Old Love - on Nightmusic

Scary Halloween Costumes For Christians


Sin and Worldview

“The great danger is always to single out some aspect or phenomenon of God’s good creation and identify it, rather than the alien intrusion of human apostasy [sin], as the villain in the drama of human life. Such an error is tantamount to reducing direction to structure, to conceiving of the good-evil dichotomy as intrinsic to the creation itself. The result is that something in the good creation is declared evil. We might call this tendency ‘Gnosticism’… In the course of history, this ‘something’ has been variously identified as marriage and certain kinds of foods (the Gnostic heresy Paul warns Timothy against in 1 Timothy 4), the body and its passions (Plato and much of Greek philosophy), culture in distinction from nature (Rousseau and much of Romanticism), institutional authority, especially in the state and the family (philosophical anarchism and much of depth psychology), technology and management techniques (Heidegger and Ellul, among others), or any number of things. There seems to be an ingrained Gnostic streak in human thinking, a streak that causes people to blame some aspect of God’s handiwork for the ills and woes of the world we live in.”
Albert M. Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview (Eerdmans, 2005) p. 61.

Why Our Hearts Are Restless Till They Find Their Hope In God

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (HarperOne, 1980), pp. 49–50:
What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.
HT: Tony Reinke

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bob Dylan The Bootleg Series 1-3 - Moonshiner 1963

How to solve most Windows PC Problems


A Test for How Well You Understand Christianity

J. I. Packer:
You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator.
In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father.
If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father.
If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.
For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up I the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God.
Evangelical Magazine 7, pp. 19-20, cited in Knowing God, p. 201. Packer says on p. 202:
Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bob Dylan - Not Dark Yet - Live in Missoula Montana 3 /22/00

Unforunate Name But Truth In Advertising


Propitiation as the Ground for Christus Victor

John Murray:
Redemption from sin cannot be adequately conceived or formulated except as it comprehends the victory which Christ secured once for all over him who is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air . . .
[I]t is impossible to speak in terms of redemption from the power of sin except as there comes within the range of this redemptive accomplishment the destruction of the power of darkness.
(Redemption—Accomplished and Applied, p. 50)
Colossians 2:14-15 is a key verse in this regard.
Paul lists two results of Christ’s work on the cross: (1) Christ disarmed the rulers and authorities, and (2) he publicly shamed them.
How? By triumphing over them in himself.
So how does Christ bearing God’s wrath for sinners, taking their sin as a substitute, constitute a victory over Satan?
George Smeaton (1814–1889), Professor of Exegetical Theology at New College, Edinburgh, provides the answer.
Sin was (1) the ground of Satan’s dominion, (2) the sphere of his power, and (3) the secret of his strength; and no sooner was the guilt lying on us extinguished, than his throne was undermined, as Jesus Himself said (John 12:31). When the guilt of sin was abolished, Satan’s dominion over God’s people was ended; for the ground of his authority was the law which had been violated, and the guilt which had been incurred. . . .
[A]ll the mistakes have arisen from not perceiving with sufficient clearness how the triumph could be celebrated on His cross. (The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement (Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1870), 307–308; my emphasis and numbering)
In other words, Satan’s power is based on sin and guilt; Christ’s death meant the ultimate death of sin, guilt, and death itself; and thus Satan was ultimately defanged by Christ’s atoning work.
As Smeaton says, “it was on God’s part at once a victory and a display of all God’s attributes, to the irretrievable ruin, dismay, and confusion of satanic powers.”
So it’s not Christus Victor (Christ defeating his enemies) instead of propitiation (Christ bearing God’s wrath)–rather, it’s Christus Victor because of propitiation. Both are gloriously important, but only in that order.
Justin Taylor

Friday, October 23, 2009

Your Problem and the Answer to Your Problem

And it is because of this that I keep preaching. It is because I believe that all who die in their sins not only go to judgment but go to hell that I keep proclaiming the message. If I believed that when we all die, that is just the end of it, that our bodies just dissolve and become part of the earth and that is all, then there would be no need of a gospel. But “it is appointed unto men”—all men—“once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Death is not the end. We go on, and we go on for all eternity. The judgment is announced; judgment is pronounced.
But, thank God, man is fallen, condemned, miserable, and helpless, but God intervenes! God comes into the wreckage. God visits man and calls him by name and addresses him. God, even at the moment of rebellion, tells man that he has a way to rescue him and to redeem him: “It [the seed of the woman] shall bruise thy [the serpent’s] head” (Genesis 3:15). The serpent, the archenemy, the power with which we cannot deal, the god of this world who is too strong for us, can only be mastered by one, and he has come—the seed of the woman, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who- soever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Christ, the Son of God, came into this world, took on our human nature, entered into our very situation, and smote our enemy. He conquered the foe and can set us free. He received judg- ment for us. He bore our sins and their punishment in his own body on a cruel cross. God dealt with him there and pardons us, and our enemy is conquered. So the way to paradise is open, and it is open for you.
Your misery, all your problems, all your needs, arise from the fact of sin. They arise because you are in this terrible position face-to-face with God. That is the cause of all ill. And there is but one solution to the problem, the solution that God himself has provided in the person of his only begotten Son. “. . . that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And that life begins here and now—a knowledge of God, assurance that you are right with God, that God will bless you and smile upon you and give you what you need, that he will strengthen you and enable you to overcome your enemies, that he will take you through death and announce in the judgment that you are already pardoned and forgiven, that he will say to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant . . . inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:21, 34).
My dear friend, that is your problem, and that is the answer to your problem. Believe it. Accept it here and now. Go to that great God, almighty beyond conception and understanding, who existed from eternity and who made all out of nothing. Cast yourself before him. Acknowledge your ignorant, arrogant sinning against him, and thank him for his eternal love in sending his only Son to rescue you and to redeem you by dying for you on Calvary’s hill, and ask him to give you life anew. And he will. I say that on the authority of his only Son who stated, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). He cast out man in sin and rebellion. Go back to him in repentance, and he will not cast you out. He will receive you and bless you.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones In The Gospel in Genesis

Otis Spann - Jangleboogie

Another Inconvenient Truth


War On Fox Alters Checks And Balances

Rahm Emanuel once sent a dead fish to a live pollster. Now he's put a horse's head in Roger Ailes' bed. Not very subtle. And not very smart. Ailes doesn't scare easily.
The White House has declared war on Fox News. White House communications director Anita Dunn said that Fox is "opinion journalism masquerading as news."
Patting rival networks on the head for their authenticity (read: docility), senior adviser David Axelrod declared Fox "not really a news station." And chief of staff Emanuel told (warned?) the other networks not to "be led (by) and following Fox."
Meaning? If Fox runs a story critical of the administration — from exposing White House czar Van Jones as a loony 9/11 "truther" to exhaustively examining the mathematical chicanery and hidden loopholes in proposed health care legislation — the other news organizations should think twice before following the lead.
The signal to corporations is equally clear: You might have dealings with a federal behemoth that not only disburses more than $3 trillion every year but is extending its reach ever deeper into private industry — finance, autos, soon health care and energy. Think twice before you run an ad on Fox.
At first, there was little reaction from other media. Then on Thursday, the administration tried to make them complicit in an actual boycott of Fox. The Treasury Department made available Ken Feinberg, the executive pay czar, for interviews with the White House "pool" news organizations — except Fox. The other networks admirably refused, saying they would not interview Feinberg unless Fox was permitted to as well. The administration backed down.
This was an important defeat because there's a principle at stake here. While government can and should debate and criticize opposition voices, the current White House goes beyond that. It wants to delegitimize any significant dissent. The objective is no secret. White House aides openly told Politico that they're engaged in a deliberate campaign to marginalize and ostracize recalcitrants, from Fox to health insurers to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
There's nothing illegal about such search-and-destroy tactics. Nor unconstitutional. But our politics are defined not just by limits of legality or constitutionality. We have norms, Madisonian norms.
Madison argued that the safety of a great republic, its defense against tyranny, requires the contest between factions or interests. His insight was to understand "the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties." They would help guarantee liberty by checking and balancing and restraining each other — and an otherwise imperious government.
Factions should compete, but also recognize the legitimacy of other factions and, indeed, their necessity for a vigorous self-regulating democracy. Seeking to deliberately undermine, delegitimize and destroy is not Madisonian. It is Nixonian.
But didn't Teddy Roosevelt try to destroy the trusts? Of course, but what he took down was monopoly power that was extinguishing smaller independent competing interests.
Fox News is no monopoly. It is a singular minority in a sea of liberal media. ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, CNN, MSNBC vs. Fox. The lineup is so unbalanced as to be comical — and that doesn't even include the other commanding heights of the culture that are firmly, flagrantly liberal: Hollywood, the foundations, the universities, the elite newspapers.
Fox and its viewers (numbering more than CNN's and MSNBC's combined) need no defense. Defend Fox compared with whom? With CNN — which recently unleashed its fact-checkers on a "Saturday Night Live" skit mildly critical of President Obama, but did no checking of a grotesquely racist remark CNN falsely attributed to Rush Limbaugh?
Defend Fox from whom? Fox's flagship 6 o'clock evening news out of Washington (hosted by Bret Baier, formerly by Brit Hume) is, to my mind, the best hour of news on television. (Definitive evidence: My mother watches it even on the odd night when I'm not on.)
Defend Fox from the likes of Anita Dunn? She's been attacked for extolling Mao's political philosophy in a speech at a high school graduation. But the critics miss the surpassing stupidity of her larger point: She was invoking Mao as support and authority for her impassioned plea for individuality and trusting one's own choices.
Mao as champion of individuality? Mao, the greatest imposer of mass uniformity in modern history, creator of a slave society of a near-billion worker bees wearing Mao suits and waving the Little Red Book?
The White House communications director cannot be trusted to address high schoolers without uttering inanities. She and her cohorts are now to instruct the country on truth and objectivity?
By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER

Tapper to Gibbs: Who are you to decide what constitutes a news organization?

Sheer comedy gold from one of the most honest White House correspondents in the business.  Jake Tapper used his time in the Briefing Room to challenge Robert Gibbs on the Obama administration’s attempts to brand Fox News as something other than a news organization.  Gibbs sputters but never answers Tapper’s essential question:
Tapper: It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations “not a news organization” and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one –
(Crosstalk)
Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.
Tapper: But that’s a pretty sweeping declaration that they are “not a news organization.” How are they any different from, say –
Gibbs: ABC -
Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?
Click over to Tapper’s blog to hear the answer.  Ultimately, though, Gibbs thoroughly misses Tapper’s point.  The White House is not just some political 501(c)3 issuing opinion statements on policy.  They’re the executive branch of government, who exist to enforce laws and are accountable to the people, at least in part (one hopes) through the media.  It’s entirely inappropriate to make pronouncements on the credibility of those organizations holding them accountable, especially when they try to wheedle other news organizations into ignoring them.
What do they have to fear from Fox News, after all?  It makes them look petty and craven, instead of simply responding on each story and letting other news organizations tell their side of the story.  After all, they have no lack of volunteers for that task.
It’s the difference between campaigning and governing.  Gibbs et al still haven’t learned it, and they look like Amateur Hour as a result, or worse, Nixonian.  At the moment, no video of the exchange is available, but I’ll update this post with it as soon as its available.
Hot Air

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gafe Prone Biden Embarrasses Nation Yet Again By Sneezing During Meeting


Gaffe-Prone Biden Embarrasses Nation Yet Again By Sneezing During Meeting

OTIS SPANN LP-THE BLUES IS WHERE IT'S AT

Here are three songs for you to enjoy - 1-POPCORN MAN 2-BRAND NEW HOUSE 3-NOBODY KNOWS CHICAGO LIKE I DO (PARTY BLUES)

Spiritryl - Charismatic Enhancement


Are You Thirsty?

"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" John 7:37-38

"The fulfillment of . . . the promise could be testified by thousands of living Christians in the present day. They would say, if their evidence could be collected, that when they came to Christ by faith they found in him more than they expected. They have tasted peace and hope and comfort since they first believed, which, with all their doubts and fears, they would not exchange for anything in this world. They have found grace according to their need and strength according to their days. In themselves and their own hearts they have often been disappointed, but they have never been disappointed in Christ."

J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John 1:1 through John 10:9, page 472.

Loss

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Philippians 3:7

"Notice now that he does not only say, But what was gain to me I later saw as indifferent, as unimportant -- no: as loss. To repent . . . does not mean to be liberalized, to become indifferent to what we formerly were, to the former objects of our devotion and the former conduct of our lives, but to be horrified by it all. . . . Recognition not of some imperfection but precisely of the guiltiness, perversity, and reprobateness of his glorious Pharisaism, irreproachable and upright as it was en sarki (in the flesh), recognition of the indictment not on his wickedness but on his goodness -- that is what came upon him dia ton Christon (for the sake of Christ), that was the meaning that Christ's work had for his attitude to these things."

Karl Barth, Epistle to the Philippians, page 97.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Earl Hooker / Sweet Home Chicago

The Wolves Discover That Wearing a Smile is Just as Effective as Wearing Sheeps Clothing


Benny Hinn Ain’t Down With The Faith Healing Poseurs

Joe Carter
Most faith healers are frauds. So saith Benny Hinn, faith healer extraordinaire, in an interview with my buddy Frank Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
LOCKWOOD: In your ministry, how many people have been healed and what kind of [illnesses] are we talking about?
HINN: Well, goodness, we’ve had, I mean, I can’t tell you how many. In the thousands. But these miracles are very real. My goodness. The greatest miracle I ever saw was a lady in Montreal that was bent over like an arch and God healed her. She became straight in front of our eyes. … I’ve seen many great healings and great miracles and to Jesus be the praise.
LOCKWOOD: How many faith healers do you think are the real deal and how many are frauds? How many are going to hear ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant’ [Matthew 25:21] and how many are going to hear ‘Depart from me, ye worker of iniquity’? [Matthew 7:23]
HINN: The majority will probably not hear ‘thou good and faithful servant.’ I mean there’s really a few that have kept their life clean. Kathryn [Kuhlman] was one of them, Oral Roberts was another. I’m praying I’ll be one. I’m not done yet. You know it’s very easy to start right and it’s very difficult to finish right. And my aim is to finish right and I pray that I’ll do that. But there are people, sadly, that have fallen away because of sin and because of corruption.
Oh, snap! Sounds like Hinn is calling out all poseurs. The other faith healers—there are still more of these guys around aren’t there?—can’t let Hinn dis their rep like that. And we all know there’s only one way to settle this beef: Heal off!
Anyone who doubts that Hinn won’t be slaying all sucka FHs hasn’t seen him action. This cat don’t fool around—he lays ‘em out cold.
Evangel

The Spectacular Failure of Atheism

[I]f the universe is what the atheist maintains it is, then this determines what sort of account we must give for the nature of everything — and this includes the atheist’s thought processes, ethical convictions, and aesthetic appreciations. If you were to shake up two bottles of pop and place them on a table to fizz over, you could not fill up an auditorium with people who came to watch them debate. This is because they are not debating; they are just fizzing. If you were to shake up one bottle of pop, and show it film footage of some genocidal atrocity, the reaction you would get is not moral outrage, but rather more fizzing. And if you were to shake it really hard by means of art school, and place it in front of Michelangelo’s David, or the Rose Window of Chartres Cathedral, the results would not really be aesthetic appreciation, but more fizzing still.

If the atheist is right, then I am not a Christian because I have mistaken beliefs, but am rather a Christian because that is what these chemicals would always do in this arrangement and at this temperature. The problem is that this atheistic assumption does the very same thing to the atheist’s case for atheism. The atheist gives us an account of all things which makes it impossible for us to believe that any account of all things could possibly be true. But no account of things can be tenable unless it provides us with the preconditions that make it possible for our “accounting” to represent genuine insight. Atheism fails to do this, and the failure is a spectacular one. Nor does atheism allow us to have any fixed ethical standard, or the possibility of beauty.
Doug Wilson in the Huffington Post

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Scary Halloween Costumes For Christians


Blind Boys Of Alabama-Amazing Grace

Do We Worship a Bully?

(by Kelly Wright)
God’s wrath permeates the pages of Scripture. Its presence cannot be overlooked. The presence of wrath in the Bible has led one author to conclude that:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 31)
Another author has asked the question, “Who – except for an ancient priest seeking to exert power by the tried and tested means of fear – could possibly wish that this hopelessly knotted skein of fable [The Old Testament] had any veracity?” (Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great, 103). The author of that question was not able to come to terms with his observations of anger displayed by God towards the Israelites and other nations. He was also disturbed by the seemingly inhumane laws given to the people through Moses, “The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre...” (Ibid., 102). These authors believe that the Bible, and so all contained within it, is a myth. This is a convenient way for them to dismiss any of what the Bible claims, including the description of God’s wrath.
These authors expose the difficulty of understanding the wrath of God. Misconceptions concerning God’s character and His relationship to the world are prevalent. Students of God’s Word must be ready to address the issue of God’s supposed character as a ‘capriciously malevolent bully.’ Scripture does not shy away from revealing the wrath of God but it would seem that many Christians do. “It is sad indeed to find so many professing Christians who appear to regard the wrath of God as something for which they need to make an apology, or who at least wish there were no such thing" (Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God, 82).
Do we worship a bully? In the Old Testament we read of a global flood that kills everyone except one family. Then we stumble upon the ten plagues sent by God against Egypt. Later, Israel is punished for believing the report of the ten fearful spies and are sent to wander in the wilderness for forty years until every person over the age of twenty dies (except Moses, Caleb, and Joshua).
The New Testament records the gruesome death of the innocent God-man, Jesus Christ. He lived righteously and never sinned, yet, God put Him to death on the cross. Isaiah 53:10 records, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him.” Acts 2:23 states that Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” It was God’s will to crush His son. The death of Jesus Christ was a defined plan of God. Do these realities make God a bully?
It is important that we remind ourselves of who God reveals Himself to be in Scripture. The Bible is our source of understanding concerning the nature of God. Three reminders of God’s essence aid us in answering the question about whom we worship.
First, God is holy. God’s holiness entails both the aspect of being set-apart as well as being morally pure. Isaiah’s vision of the seraphim reveals that “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of Hosts, the whole earth is filled with His glory” (Isaiah 6:3).  This song of the seraphim speaks of God’s otherness. God is set-apart from His creation.
Isaiah’s vision also reveals God’s moral purity. In v. 5 Isaiah cries out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” God’s moral purity is also declared by John, “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God has not sinned, cannot sin, and will not sin. In fact, it is God’s holiness which causes Him to react strongly against sin.
Second, God is just. Everything God does is right. No action of His could ever be wrong. Job 37:23, “The Almighty – we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.” God cannot violate the rules that He has established. God’s holiness necessitates that He do what is right, always.
God’s justice applies to punishing offenders. God’s law can be summarized this way, “Live holy for I am holy.” Anyone who does not live holy (Romans 3:23 exposes that this is everyone) has earned punishment. Romans 6:23 teaches us that the wages of sin is death. This means that all offenders to God’s law, which is everyone, are deserving of death. Consequence for sin is just. God is as fair for punishing law breakers as human judges are for punishing criminals.
Third, God is love. God’s love is one of choice, commitment, and action. Scripture reveals that it is God who first loved us. Love is better appreciated against the reality that we are unlovable. We are rebels, enemies, corpses, and children of wrath; yet God still chose to love us.
First John 3:16 teaches us that we know love because Jesus sacrificed His life for us. Jesus was the substitute for us on the cross. He suffered the just reward of our sin, God’s wrath. The death of God’s Son was not an act of bullying, but rather was a sweet display of His sacrificial love.
God in His holiness hates sin. God in His justice punishes sin. God in His love settles our sinful debt through the death of His Son. We do not worship a bully. We worship a holy, just, and loving God. Amen and Amen.
Pulpit Magazine

Book Review - "Counterfeit Gods" by Tim Keller

Tim Keller knows how to tell a Bible story. Like The Prodigal God before it, his latest book, Counterfeit Gods is built around them. And every time I read one of those stories, I feel like I am hearing it for the first time. I find myself lost in the story, anticipating how it could, how it might, end. In the back of my mind I know exactly how it will turn out, but somehow Keller takes me along for a ride as he tells these stories in such a fresh way. In Counterfeit Gods he tells of Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Jonah and Zacchaeus. Each one of these characters and the stories of their lives are used to teach the reader about the prevalence of idolatry in the Bible and in the human heart.
“The human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.” Thus anything can be an idol and, really, everything has been an idol to one person or another. The great deception of idols is we are prone to think that idols are only bad things. But evil is far more subtle than this. “We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life.”
What then is an idol? “It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” If anything in all the world is more fundamental than God to your happiness, to your meaning in life, then that thing has become an idol. It has supplanted God in your heart and in your affections. You will pursue that thing with an abandon and intensity that should be reserved for God alone.
Having introduced idolatry and its effects in the Introduction and first chapter, Keller uses chapters two through five to discuss idols that have a particularly strong grasp on people today, though perhaps they are idols that have always drawn the hearts of men. He discusses love (and sex), money, success and power (focusing particularly on political power). Having discussed such personal idols, he spends a chapter looking at some cultural and societal idols—ones that tend to be hidden from us because they are so prevalent, so normal. Finally, he looks to “The End of Counterfeit Gods” and here he offers hope for the idolatrous. “Is there any hope? Yes, if we begin to realize that idols cannot simply be removed. They must be replaced. If you try to uproot them, they grow back; but they can be supplanted. By what? By God himself, of course. … What we need is a living encounter with God.” He wraps things up in an Epilogue where he offers words that so helpfully answer the “now what?” questions. The trouble with exposing idols is that we realize that most of our idols really are good things that we’ve allowed to take on undue importance. We do not want to cast away these good things! “If we have made idols of work and family, we do not want to stop loving our work and family. Rather, we want to love Christ so much more that we are not enslaved by our attachments.” The solution is not to love good things less, but to love the best thing more!
As always, Keller is eminently quotable and is a very skilled writer. The book is excellent not only in its big picture, but also in its component parts. More importantly, it turns always to the gospel. It never leaves the reader in despair but instead points him away from his idols and toward the idol-breaker, toward the one who demands and deserves the first place in our hearts. “The way forward, out of despair, is to discern the idols of our hearts and our culture. But that will not be enough. The only way to free ourselves from the destructive influence of counterfeit gods is to turn back to the true one. The living God, who revealed himself both at Mount Sinai and on the Cross, is the only Lord who, if you find him, can truly fulfill you, and, if you fail him, can truly forgive you.”
Truly, the human heart is an idol factory. Counterfeit Gods points to Scripture to help root them out, turns to the Cross to find forgiveness and points to the gospel as the power to find ultimate freedom from them. This is an excellent book and one I hope to read again, perhaps in a group setting. It is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year and I commend it to you.
By Tim Challies

Monday, October 19, 2009

If Kanye West Had Been At Mars Hill


Roy Buchanan & Albert Collins - Further On Down The Road

A Broadly Human Conception of Matured Piety

"Soon after I entered the ministry I was called upon to visit the senior elder of my church, who had been taken sick unto death. He had been a noble and stately figure among us, a certain old-world grace and courtesy reflecting the strength and dignity of his soul. He had been a great friend of his Master, and he had done his Master's work in a great way. I saw him two or three days before he died, when it was known that the end might come at any time, and I found he was enjoying Dickens' 'Pickwick Papers'! I must have made some remark about it, and he replied very simply that he had always been fond of Pickwick, and that he would not be ashamed, when the Master came, to be found deep in the enjoyment of such innocent humor. I do not know what helpful ministry I brought to him, but I know that he gave to me a broadly human conception of matured piety, which all along the way has enriched my conception of the fruits of the Holy Spirit."

John Henry Jowett, The Preacher: His Life and Work, page 204.

John Stott on the Essence of Evangelicalism

What is an evangelical?
For a thoughtful answer–a masterful example of clear thinking and concise expression–I’d recommend listening to this lecture by John Stott. (It’s 47 minutes long; I’m not sure what year it was delivered. If you know the provenance, please let us know in the coments below.)
A few years ago, when Stott was 85, he gave an interview to CT where he was asked to define the essence of evangelicalism. It’s a good summary of his classic lecture:
An evangelical is a plain, ordinary Christian. We stand in the mainstream of historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity. So we can recite the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed without crossing our fingers. We believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit.
Having said that, there are two particular things we like to emphasize: the concern for authority on the one hand and salvation on the other.
For evangelical people, our authority is the God who has spoken supremely in Jesus Christ. And that is equally true of redemption or salvation. God has acted in and through Jesus Christ for the salvation of sinners.
. . . [W]hat God has said in Christ and in the biblical witness to Christ, and what God has done in and through Christ, are both, to use the Greek word, hapax—meaning once and for all. There is a finality about God’s word in Christ, and there is a finality about God’s work in Christ. To imagine that we could add a word to his word, or add a work to his work, is extremely derogatory to the unique glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the lecture Stott operates with four main headings:
  1. The claim of evangelicalism
  2. The distinctives of evangelicalism
  3. The concern of evangelicalism
  4. The essence of evangelicalism
What follows is a brief summary of what Stott said in his important talk.
(more…)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Albert Collins - If trouble was money

A Separation of Church and Sports?

A friend of mine sent me a link to a recent USA Today opinion piece about evangelicals in sports.  In “I’d like to thank God Almighty“, Tom Krattenmaker argues that although he is “impressed by the good that’s done by sports-world Christians” and considers “Jesus-professing athletes” as “among the best citizens in their sector,” he’s still has a beef with evangelical sports stars.
The problem, says Krattenmaker, is that evangelicals don’t believe all roads to God.
Evangelical players and ministry representatives in sports aren’t out to harm anyone, of course. On the contrary, they see themselves as fulfilling the Bible’s Great Commission (”Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19). In this sense, their mission is pure altruism: They seek to share the gift of eternal life.
But there’s a shadow side to this. If their take on God and truth and life is the only right one — which their creed boldly states — everyone else is wrong.
I don’t know many evangelicals who baldly state “everyone else is wrong”, but it’s true, when it comes being reconciled with God we believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way.  I have no problem that Krattenmaker disagrees with this belief or even that he thinks people like me backward for holding such a belief.  But Krattenmaker’s complaint against evangelical players and ministries is misguided.  In one breath he affirms that evangelical sports starts, “like all Americans, have a right to express their faith.”  But then he turns around and questions whether evangelicals should be peddling a faith that is so out of step with the majority of Americans.
Krattenmaker’s argument against the Tim Tebows of the sports world boils down to: “I don’t like that evangelicals think they’re right.”  But, of course, Krattenmaker thinks evangelicals are dead wrong in their insistence they alone are right.
There are other contradictions in the piece.  Krattenmaker writes in reference to outspoken evangelical chaplains and athletes:
Should we be pleased that the civic resource known as “our team” — a resource supported by the diverse whole through our ticket-buying, game-watching and tax-paying — is being leveraged by a one-truth evangelical campaign that has little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us?
This line of reasoning says little more than “I don’t like that the people I root for think I need Jesus.”  But Krattenmaker’s “argument” could be used against just about any industry in America.  Should we be pleased that the civic resource known as “our movies”–a resource supported by the diverse whole through our ticket-buying, movie-watching and tax paying (especially with Michigan’s subsidies)–is being leveraged by a secular humanism that has little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us?  The great thing about American is you don’t have to watch a Susan Sarandon flick if her politics are that offensive to you, and you don’t have to watch football if you can’t stand it that some of them believe Jesus is the only way to heaven.
Krattenmaker is appalled that Tebow’s father’s evangelistic association espouses a “far-right” theology that believes in “eternal punishment” and rejects “the modern ecumenical movement.”  “In making and acting on rigid claims about who is or isn’t in good standing with God,” Krattenmaker opines, “the Bob Tebow organization is working at cross purposes with the majority of Americans — indeed, the majority of American Christians — and their more generous conception of salvation.”  Yeah, so?  Can sports stars, on their own time mind you, only work with organizations that pass muster by national referendum?  Millions of people in America think millions of other Americans are going to hell apart from the saving work of Jesus.  And millions of Americans think those other Americans are neanderthals for believing that.  God bless America!
Besides, it’s not like Tim Tebow puts “punish the infidels” on the black under his eyes.  He puts a Bible verse.  And while it’s well known that Tebow is a conservative evangelical, it’s not like he’s talking about his father’s rejection of the modern ecumenical movement in post-game interviews.  No doubt, some evangelical sports stars have been obnoxious about their faith in the locker room.  No doubt, some ministries have been rude in their evangelistic strategies.  But then those are the players and ministries that most people will ignore.  Most, I imagine, try to winsomely persuade non-Christians about the claims of Christ, just like Krattenmaker does with the claims of his pluralistic faith.
We all try to convince others that our way of looking at the world makes sense, even if our way of looking at the world says we shouldn’t be too definite about the way we look at the world.  So, yes, evangelicals think Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.  That’s not a secret.  And it’s not a crime either.
Kevin DeYoung