Friday, June 30, 2006
"Voice sought refuge in rap music from his fatherless upbringing and the mean streets of Washington, D.C. Voice’s rap sheet started around the same time he began listening to rap and hip-hop—when he was 7 years old. It was the early 1980’s, and life in the hood was being lyricized by the likes of Run-DMC, KRS One, Doug E. Fresh, Eric B., and Rakim, and Big Daddy Kane. Those were the hip-hop pioneers who shaped Voice’s ear and his outlook. He began break dancing, then rapping. He practiced impromptu and spontaneous freestyle rap, calling himself MC Finnesse. He got into the studio, and while others were playing ball, he was laying down tracks. After numerous demo tapes and rap battles at clubs, Voice was a recognized up and coming rapper. The D.C. market’s two biggest rap and R&B stations, 93.9 WKYS and 95.5 WPCG, began to play his songs.
"The early 1990’s . . . rolled around, and it looked like a recording contract would as well. Voice changed his name to Intrigue Garcia. He began to develop a crew of other rappers from his Belle Haven neighborhood, hoping to “take the recording industry by storm” and represent D.C. But the Belle Haven crew, known as “2nd Gin,” was involved in more than rap. They developed a drug dealing operation as well, and Voice found himself in a complicated world where art and life intertwined. The crime and violence he rapped about were more than poetic narratives—they were gritty realities. As hip hop denegrated into an increasingly bitter feud between the west and east coasts, Voice’s life began to spiral out of control as well. Shortly after he met with an entertainment lawyer and record label executives to sign a recording contract, he was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, second degree assault, reckless endangerment and possession of a gun. Voice faced 43 years in prison. He needed refuge, but music could not deliver that, and he knew it.
"A few friends stuck with Voice through the trial. One was a Christian. He told Voice about Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. This was an old story for Voice. He had heard it many times. But this time he was low enough to listen. Miraculously, a judge sentenced Voice to only 20 months in jail and extended probation. Voice felt that God had worked on his behalf, and instead of walking away from God, drew closer. But Voice knew he needed Christian friends and a strong church. His friend’s church was gospel-centered, scripturally strong, and practiced what it preached. But it was predominantly white. This was an obstacle for Voice, but God used it to confront wrong attitudes in Voice’s heart. Voice joined Covenant Life Church in 2001, and is now a bridge to the African-American community while serving as a singles ministry intern. 'This church accepted me as I was and helped me to grow as I should,' says Voice. 'The grace of God is seen so clearly in the local church and for me this is what I needed and what we all need if we are to mature in Christ.'
"Voice decided to forget about rap. It was a distraction from his love for God because it tempted him to worship himself and lured his heart toward his old life. It functioned as an idol in his heart. But in January 2004, Covenant Life Church pastor Joshua Harris, also Executive Director of New Attitude Ministries, asked Voice to rap at the national 'New Attitude' Conference. Voice performed “You Have Captured Me” for 3,500 young people, and then realized his love and desire for rap remained. But the focus would no longer be on himself, or guns, drugs, or women. 'My desire is to hopefully affect people with content that speaks of the truth of the gospel,' Voice says. 'With all that I have been through, I still can’t believe I’m here and that I might have the opportunity to be used by God in this way. I’ll take this over prison any day.''"
For more info on Voice's new CD, Progression, you can read about it or purchase it through the Sovereign Grace Ministries Store.
"The CD features 16 new songs that portray a Christian’s 'progression' from conversion, through the joys and trials of the Christian life, toward a destiny that’s about God, not us. You can listen to song samples and download lyrics at the official website of Voice: www.ihearvoice.com."
I'll have more info on this ministry in the next day or two.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
To see these in print, you can pick up The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made (Foreword by Graeme Goldsworthy), and The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept (Foreword by John MacArthur).
Update: This story gives more info on the caption (HT: Jeff Brewer):
Not all of Bush's trip was focused on Iraq. When he arrived at Lambert, the president met with Andrew Benecke, the valedictorian from Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School, to give him the Presidential Scholar award. Benecke is battling bone cancer.
"I'm still in shock," Andrew said afterward. The Benecke family presented Bush with a copy of "Life as a Vapor: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Faith," by John Piper. The book, based on a message in the New Testament book of James, has personal significance to the Benecke family, said James Benecke, Andrew's father.
"It's our faith that has gotten us through this ordeal," he said. "We want to give the president a token of our gratitude. The message of the book is that every breath is a gift."
I'd be curious to hear your take.
It may be worth quoting Nooan on Clinton in full. Contrary to popular opinion, and given what Noonan says below, I have a hard time imagining her being elected president. (For the opposite opinion, see Can She Be Stopped? Hillary Clinton Will Be the Next President of the United States Unless . . . -- by John Podhoretz and Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race by Dick Morris).
"Hillary Clinton. Media people keep saying, as Hillary gears up for her presidential bid, that her big challenge in 2008 will be to prove that she is as tough as a man. That she could order troops to war. That she's not girly and soft.
"This is the exact opposite of the truth. Hillary doesn't have to prove her guy chops. She doesn't have to prove she's a man, she has to prove she's a woman. No one in America thinks she's a woman. They think she's a tough little termagant in a pantsuit. They think she's something between an android and a female impersonator. She is not perceived as a big warm mommy trying to resist her constant impulse to sneak you candy. They think she has to resist her constant impulse to hit you with a bat. She lacks a deep (as opposed to quick) warmth, a genuine and almost phenomenological sense of rightness in her own skin. She seems like someone who might calculatedly go to war, or not, based on how she wanted to be perceived and look and do. She does not seem like someone who would anguish and weep over sending men into harm's way.
"And in this, as president, she would be deeply unusual. LBJ felt anguish; there are pictures of him, head in hands, suffering. Bush the Elder wept as he talked, with Paula Zahn, about what it was to send men to war. Bush the Younger would breastfeed the military if he could. Hillary is like someone who would know she should be moved but wouldn't be because she couldn't be because . . . well, why? That is the question. Maybe a lifetime in politics has bled some of the human element out of her. Maybe there wasn't that much to begin with. Maybe she thinks that if she wept, the wires that hold her together would short."
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
(Yes, I checked; no, it's not a parody site.)
From their home page:
Adrift in Loneliness?
Discover an Armada!
This Sunday at 9 am & 10:30 am
Don't Sail Alone!
How do you move from a life devoid of friendships and companionship to one chock full of deep relationships? This Sunday, we explore why many Americans are feeling lonely -- even in the midst of their own families. And, we'll look at how to sail in an armada of friendships by following the Biblical principles in Philippians Chapter 2 for keeping the pirate of loneliness off your boat.
July 9: Ghosts: Getting Your Past to Walk the Plank
July 16: Mutiny: Navigating the Rough Seas of Difficult Relationships
* * *
Dr. Mohler prefaces his criticism by reiterating the love and respect he has for Dr. Piper, and notes that they are able to "disagree without rancor or insecurity." He also commends the elders at Bethlehem for the openness with which they have sought feedback on their proposal. But goes on to explain why they are in profound disagreement over this issue:
That said, baptism has been understood by all major branches of Christianity, throughout the centuries of Christian experience, to be a requirement for church membership and the fellowship of the Lord’s table. Thus, for Baptists to receive into the membership of a Baptist church (or to invite to the Lord’s Supper) any believer who lacks such baptism, is to receive non-baptized persons as if they were baptized.
Any compromise of Baptist conviction concerning the requirement of believer’s baptism by immersion amounts to a redefinition of Baptist identity. More importantly, it raises the most basic questions of ecclesiology. We must give those questions intent attention in these days. Otherwise, will there be any Baptists in the next generation?
I personally believe that the clearness, prominence, and normativity of the Scriptural command for believer baptism in the church means that Dr. Mohler is correct on this.
It seems to me that the dilemmas for the Bethlehem elders--as those who believe that Scripture only teaches believer baptism--are these: Do they believe that baptism is a requirement for church membership (as virtually all churches through history have believed)? If the answer is no, then they are advocating a historically novel approach that has no precedence in Scripture. If the answer is yes, then the question becomes whether or not paedobaptism is a valid form of baptism. If the answer regarding the validity of paedobaptism is no, then only believer-baptized persons can become members. If the answer concerning the validity of paedobaptism is yes, then the very nature of baptism has been redefined and this without Scriptural warrant.
For me the issue comes down to the fact that while many considerations can be offered in favor of the proposal--considerations that surely give one pause--there does not exist (to my knowledge) any convincing case that the apostlolic writers themselves would countenance such a proposal. If such were to be proposed to them, I believe they would point to the clarity, prominence, and normativity of their command to be baptized as believers and for the church to be comprised of baptized believers. Now of course we can't go and just ask them. But they gave us instructios for building the church, and they did not send mixed signals on this front.
Those are my thoughts. I'd be curious for your take on the matter.
He has now written a book on Leading with Love. Alex Chediak provides a brief overview of the book
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
"C.S. Lewis said, we don't need more Christian writers; we need more Christians who can write. Lewis and Tolkien wrote 50 years ago and are still influential today because their work had spiritual, intellectual and creative ballast. They would not have imagined operating in the kind of parallel universe that Christian media has become. They were mainstreamed. Last year alone their works sold in the millions. At the risk of sounding uncharitable—50 years from now, how many copies of Left Behind and the Purpose Driven Life will be sold? Our popular culture is impoverished and the 'Christian media culture' is satisfied to make money by serving crumbs off the table of that fallen culture, often dumbing down our faith in the process. Until we experience a spiritual, intellectual and creative renaissance, both culture and the parallel universe of Christian media will serve thin gruel, entertaining ourselves to death. I'm concerned about the whole Christian media enterprise."
(HT: Zach Nielsen)
"On the one hand, the implicit contention of the Times is that the public almost never has an interest in secrecy, in having classified matters kept that way. On the other, it jealously guards the identity of its secret sources and wants its ability to do so in defiance of governmental investigations written into law. Here is the ultimate arrogation of public power — the Times demanding legal protection for its own secrets so it can better expose the government’s."
"The reporters who wrote about it, Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, should be subpoenaed, and if they refuse to reveal their sources, they should go to jail. There, they can reflect on why their secrets are so much more sacred than those of the people of the United States, as represented by their duly constituted government."
Monday, June 26, 2006
Joe Carter asks: "Why do so many people buy into the ridiculous notion that a daily diet of 'current events’ is anything other than a mindless (though perhaps harmless) form of amusement? Even ardent news-hounds will admit that the bulk of daily 'news' is nothing more than trivia or gossip. How much of what happens every day truly is all that important? How many of us have ever even stopped to ask why we have daily news?"
He quotes University of Florida history professor C. John Sommerville's book, How the News Makes Us Dumb: The Death of Wisdom in an Information Age:
The product of the news business is change, not wisdom. Wisdom has to do with seeing things in their largest context, whereas news is structured in a way that destroys the larger context. You have to do certain things to information if you want to sell it on a daily basis. You have to make each day’s report seem important. And you do that by reducing the importance of its context.
Read the whole thing. Or better yet, pick up a book!
See also Alan Jacobs' Books & Culture essay on blogs as the friend of information but the enemy of thought.
Part 1: For a Better Corporate Life
1. A regenerate church membership promotes unity in the church.
2. A regenerate church membership protects the reputation of the local church.
3. A regenerate church membership advances the work of the local church.
4. A regenerate membership spreads love in the congregation.
5. A regenerate membership causes the church to grow in the proper way.
6. A regenerate membership submits to the word of God.
Part 2: For the Sake of the Pastor
1. A regenerate church membership helps the pastor in his accounting before God.
2. A regenerate church membership increases the affection shared between a pastor and the congregation.
3. A regenerate church membership protects the congregation and the pastorate from false teachers and teachings.
4. Given all the above, a regenerate church membership should help with the widespread problem of pastor fatigue and burnout.
Part 3: For the Holiness of Members
1. A regenerate church membership helps members awaken to righteousness.
2. A regenerate church membership helps members pursue personal holiness.
3. A regenerate church membership helps individual members to "shine as lights in the world."
4. A regenerate church membership helps individual members prepare for heaven.
5. A regenerate church membership better prepares individual Christians for suffering.
They also have a couple of Q&A sessions with Tim Keller.
You can subscribe to their weekly videos in iTunes or put their feed into your favorite podcast reader.
By the way, I'm not a lawyer, but this portion of the United States Code (Title 18, Part 1, Chapt. 37, Section 798) seems relevant to me (emphasis added):
For more on Leaks and the Law, see Gabriel Schoenfeld's article by that title.
Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information . . . concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States . . . shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both [emphasis added].
Though some readers will clearly chalk this up to hyperbole, it's hard for me not to think that Heather Mac Donald is right when she concludes: "BY NOW IT'S UNDENIABLE: The New York Times is a national security threat. So drunk is it on its own power and so antagonistic to the Bush administration that it will expose every classified antiterror program it finds out about, no matter how legal the program, how carefully crafted to safeguard civil liberties, or how vital to protecting American lives." And: "Al Qaeda has long worked to manipulate the media in its favor. It can disband that operation now, knowing that, unbidden, America's most powerful newspaper is looking out for its interests."
NYT editor Bill Keller responds to critics in this yesterday's edition, and is frisked by Hugh Hewitt.
Update: Glenn Reynolds (aka, Instapundit) also reacts to Keller's response.
And here is President Bush's take (emphasis added):
"Congress was briefed, and what we did was fully authorized under the law, and the disclosure of this program is disgraceful. We're at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of america, and for people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America. What we were doing was the right thing. Congress was aware of it, and we were within the law to do so. The American people expect this government to protect our constitutional liberties and at the same time make sure we understand what the terrorists are trying to do. The 9/11 Commission recommended this the government be robust. If you want to figure out what the terrorists are doing, you try to follow their money, and that's exactly what we're doing, and the fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror. Thank you."
Sunday, June 25, 2006
It's commended by Sinclair Ferguson, R.C. Sproul, Douglas Kelly and others.
"The God of Sex is a timely and significant book. Far from ... books that ... seek to titillate ... by the use of the word "sex," Jones gives us a serious and Scriptural look at pagan thinking about sexuality - and offers a riveting analysis and critique, followed by a beautiful unfolding of the biblical and Christian view of sex. This is not the dusty stuff of antiquarianism, but vital a contemporary discussion with massive importance for current Christian engagement in and with our culture. Read and grow!"
~ J. Ligon Duncan III, PhD
Senior Minister, FPC, Jackson, MS
President, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
Past Moderator, General Assembly of the PCA
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Well, not only have I not read the DVC, but I haven't read all the way through any of the book-length responses--though I welcome and applaud their appearance. I'm convinced that one of the purposes within God's providence for the appearance of doctrinal error is to awaken the church afresh to restate and redefend the faith delivered once for all.
I do want to highlight on this blog one of the anti-DVC books, namely, Reinventing Jesus: What The Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell Us, by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace (Kregel, 2006).
I didn't read the whole book, but I did read part 2 ("Politically Corrupt? The Tainting of Ancient New Testament Texts") and part 3 ("Did the Early Church Muzzle the Canon?"). The reason I read these sections--and the reason I'm commending this book--is that I'm convinced that we in evangelicalism need to learn more about, and defend with vigor and nuance, issues related to textual criticism and the formation of the canon. In what follows, I'll reproduce some notes related to textual criticism for your information and as an encouragement for you to get the book for further details.
Textual criticism "in general is the study of the copies of any written document whose original is unknown or nonexistent in order to determine the exact wording of the original" (54). Why is textual criticism needed? Because "(1) the original documents (known as autographs) no longer exist, and (2) no two copies agree completely" (54). Furthermore, for every word in the Greek New Testament--there are about 138,000 of them--there is on average two variants. "A textual variant is any place among the manuscripts of the New Testament where there is no uniformity of meaning" (54).
Combine all this together and the case looks pretty grim that we can know what the biblical authors actually wrote. But that's why we need to read books like this.
All variants are not created equal. We can break them down into the following categories--in order of how frequently they appear: "(1) spelling differences and nonsense errors; (2) minor differences that do not affect translation or that involve synonyms; (3) differences that affect the meaning of the text but are no viable; and (4) differences that both affect the meaning of the text and are viable." Well over half of the variants are essentially insignificant and fall into category 1. Only about 1% of the variants fall into category 4.
Dan Wallace (whom I assume is the author of this section given his expertise in this area) cautions us that there are two attitudes to avoid when it comes to the text of the NT: (1) absolute certainty, and (2) total despair. (Examples of the former would be the KJV-only crowd; the latter would be the radical skeptics like some on the Jesus Seminar.)
It's helpful to keep in mind that "The New Testament is far and away the best-attested work of Greek or Latin literature in the ancient world" (71), and "approximately fifty-seven hundred full or partial New Testament manuscripts are known to exist at this writing" (71).
There are three categories of materials that textual critics have to work with: (1) Greek manuscripts; (2) ancient translations (or versions) of the New Testament into other languages; and (3) quotations from the New Testament in the writings of the church fathers.
So what methods do textual critics use to sift through these materials? (1) external evidence, and (2) internal evidence. The overriding principle is: "The reading that gives rise to the other readings is most likely to be the original reading" (84). The three external criteria used to judge which variant is original are: (1) date and character, (2) genealogical solidarity; and (3) geographical distribution. In examining the internal evidence, they use guidelines like (1) the harding reading is to be preferred, and (2) the shorter reading is to be preferred. They also seek to weigh things like (1) transcriptional probability (what the scribe was likely to do), and (2) intrinsic probability (what the author was likely to write).
The external and internal evidence are combined to arrive at a conclusion regarding which variant is likely to be the original.
One thing that's important to keep in mind with regard to textual criticism is that no theological truths are at stake with regard to the variants. In other words, "no doctrine is jeopardized by textual variants" (110).
Finally, it is important to realize that "there is virtually no need for conjecture about the original wording. That is, the wording of the original text is almost always to be found in the extant (remaining copies)" (117). "...New Testament textual criticism is a very exacting discipline, with several checks and balances. It is not a bunch of chimps randomly picking from a list of options. Frankly, when skeptics try to make the claim that we simply have no clue what the original New Testament text said, one has to wonder what drives their dogmatic skepticism, because it certainly isn't the evidence" (109).
So I commend to you Reinventing Jesus. All Christians should know this material, which is presented at an introductory, accurate, and accessible level.
I find their exegetical arguments persuasive. Unfortunately, some people resist such an examination for they infer that this is motivated by a desire to give less, or at least will result in less giving in the church. The authors plead "not guilty" to the first charge, and even suggest that perhaps giving would increase if the arguments were more biblical.
They go on to survey the NT perspective on giving and suggest that our giving should be...
- Systematic: Give on a regular basis, that is, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, etc. (1 Cor. 16:1).
- Proportional: Give as you have been prospered; according to your ability (1 Cor 16:2;
- 2 Cor 8:2–3)
- Sacrificial/generous: Give generously, even sacrificially, but not to the point of personal affliction (2 Cor 8:2–3;Phil 4:17–18)
- Intentional: Give deliberately in order to meet a genuine need, not out of guilt merely to soothe a pressing request (2 Cor 8:4; Phil 4:16)
- Properly motivated: Our motivation for giving should be love for others (2 Cor. 8:9), a desire for reciprocity (1 Cor 9:14–15; 2 Cor 8:12–14; cf. Gal 6:6), and an eye to the reward from God (2 Cor 9:6)
- Cheerful: God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7)
- Voluntary: Giving ought to be done out of one’s free volition (2 Cor 8:2–3, 8; 9:7; Phil 4:18)
Craig Blomberg: “[t]he standard Paul exhorts us to follow is actually a more stringent one than the traditional tithe. If most affluent Western Christians were to be honest about the extent of their surplus, they would give considerably higher than 10% to Christian causes.”
Walter Kaiser: “if a tenth was the minimal amount under the Law, how can Christians do any less? Perhaps we should consider not how little but how much we can give, seeing how richly blessed we are in Christ.”
I think Hamilton is right on this score. What's interesting--and sad--is that after surveying the countless proposals of "centers" for biblical theology in the academic literature, he is forced to conclude: "I cannot claim to have read everything, but I am unaware of any proposal that explicitly makes the glory of God the center of biblical theology."
Here are a few brief notes to show his methodology and conclusion:
Definition of "the center of biblical theology": "In this study the center of biblical theology is defined as the concept to which the biblical authors point as the ultimate reason God creates, enters into relationship with his image-bearers, judges them when they do wrong, saves them by his mercy, and renews the creation at the consummation of history. Moreover, the center of biblical theology is the theme which all of the Bible’s other themes serve to exposit."
Methodology: "If one of the Bible’s themes is presented as the ultimate reason for all that God does, and if this theme is not only an unstated presupposition of the biblical authors but also the stated explanation they give to justify the ways of God to men, then we would seem to have a plausible center of the Bible’s theology."
Conclusion: "In summary, in view of the indications in the Bible that God intends to get glory for himself, I cannot see how any theme could be either more primal or more ultimate than the glory of God. If we can discern what God intends to accomplish from what the Bible indicates that he will accomplish, then the conclusion presses itself upon us that God intended to make himself known in all his splendor and in all his capacities—from the kindness of being a merciful savior to the severity of being a holy judge (cf. Rom 11:22)."
You can read the whole article here. You can also see how Hamilton fleshes out this theme in more detail in the book of Acts.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Update: Sorry about the wrong link! I started listening to a Sinclair Ferguson sermon last night, too, so I accidentally dumped in the wrong link. It's now corrected.
He concludes his piece in this way:
"The blunt reality here is that there is a war against the war. It is the jihad of privacy fetishists whose self-absorption knows no bounds. Pleas rooted in the well-being of our community hold no sway.
"The anti-warriors know only the language of self-interest. It is the language that tells them the revelation of the nation’s secrets will result, forthwith, in the demand for the revelation of their secrets — which is to say, their sources in the intelligence community — with incarceration the price of resistance. It is the language admonishing that even journalists themselves may be prosecuted when their publication of national secrets violates the law.
"Bluntly, officials who leak the classified information with which they have been entrusted can be prosecuted for theft of government property. If the information is especially sensitive, they can be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act. In either event, the press has no legal right to protect such lawlessness.
"That is our simple choice: Strong medicine we will either take or persist in declining … while resigning ourselves to more of the same."
Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, was among the panelits, which also included writers and producers for the show, along with some of the cast members from "24": Gregory Itzin ("President Charles Logan"), Mary Lynn Rajskub ("Chloe O'Brian"), and Carlos Bernard ("Tony Almeida").
I believe that video will be available through heritage.org. It was liveblogged here.
PS: Please no spoilers in the comments section. My wife and I haven't finished the latest season yet!
Dear Friends of Southern Seminary,
I write to thank you for your prayers for Dr. Mohler in recent days and to update you on his health. The corneal surgery Dr. Mohler underwent on Sunday, June 11th, appears to have been a success. While Dr. Mohler is experiencing varying degrees of pain in the cornea and that eye's vision will remain very limited, daily the cornea is recovering from the surgery. For this progress we are grateful to God.
The surgery, though effective, was not a long-term solution to Dr. Mohler's corneal problems. Rather, the surgery provided short-term help and it served to prepare the eye for future treatment.
Again, thank you so much for your prayers and your many expressions of concern for Dr. Mohler in recent days.
Stephen Spruiell of The Media Blog writes::
According to the NYT's own reporting, the program is legal. The program is helping us catch terrorists. The administration has briefed the appropriate members of Congress. The program has built-in safeguards to prevent abuse. And yet, with nothing more than a vague appeal to the "public interest" (which apparently is not outweighed in this case by the public's interest in apprehending terrorists), the NYT disregards all that and publishes intimate, classified details about the program. Keller and his team really do believe they are above the law. When it comes to national security, it isn't the government that should decide when secrecy is essential to a program's effectiveness. It is the New York Times.
National security be damned. There are Pulitzers to be won.
David Powlison, in an article entitled "Faith’s Psychology and the Psychological Faiths" (html or PDF) explains the essence of the psychology of biblical Christianity. [The bold highlighting has been added by me.]
"Portraying the Christian faith’s psychology in detail lies far beyond the scope of this article, but in its briefest form, our psychology says the following: human beings live actively accountable to the true God who knows and weighs our desires, motives, and actions. We are innately, actively, and thoroughly worshipers, lovers, fearers, trusters, believers, obeyers, hopers, seekers, and desirers of one thing or another. The human heart and our responses are ruled: We heed either the true God or a host of identifiable lies, lusts, idols, voices, and pretenders.
"Human beings are fundamentally depraved: morally bent, dark, insane, and unholy in relation to the God who made us. We are moral responders, but we do not live in a vacuum: significant forces affect us and to some degree constrain and shape us. These forces, however, only set the stage on which we live. They operate within God’s sovereign government and provide the context that reveals our hearts’ desires and our loyalties. Everything in our lives matters—the varied trials and temptations; the sufferings of being sinned against and the joys of being loved; the abilities and disabilities of genetic inheritance and physiological functioning; the blessings and curses of economic, political, and technological conditions; the opportunities and constraints of each historical moment; and so forth—but these forces do not control our fundamental direction. In the Bible’s view, such things can never be the ultimate cause of our soul’s pervasive moral insanity.
"Human beings are not fundamentally deprived, as if the nature and/or nurture we received could explain the most significant things about us. We are active agents. We are not products of conditioned drives (behavioral psychology), physiological dysfunctions (biopsychiatry), unmet needs (humanistic psychology), or traumatized or conflicted instincts (psychodynamic psychology). We are not self-determined, whether responsible to ourselves (per philosophical psychologies, such as existential, logotherapeutic, rational-emotive, and cognitive) or responsible to society (per moralistic psychologies). The Bible teaches a God-centered view of both the outward influences on life and the inward springs of life.
"Consistent Christianity rethinks the modern psychologies, looking at them through the lens of Scripture. When problems of person and situation are conceived in relation to God, then the only sufficient and logical solution is Christ, as the Bible presents Him. In faith’s view, biblical counseling is the fundamentally personalized, face-to-face ministry of this Christ within the context of His redeemed and redeeming community. Biblical counseling is not simply throwing Bible verses at counselees, though. Neither is it tacking verses of Scripture onto secular psychological principles. Biblical counseling involves understanding what Scripture teaches about the human heart’s motivations and then guiding others to this understanding. Out of this understanding come changed hearts, changed motivations, and changed lives—lives that are God-centered, not self-centered."
(HT: Keith Plummer)
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Someone might ask, "Why produce a CD inspired by the prayers of a bunch of dead guys?" That's an easy one. Puritans like John Bunyan, Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, and Isaac Watts knew their hearts, their Bibles, and their God much better than we do. Many of them wrote down their prayers not to be published, but to assess their own spiritual growth and to encourage themselves in times of spiritual dryness. These prayers reveal a personal, humble, passionate relationship with an awesome God, a living Savior, and an active Spirit. Reading their meditations inspires us to pursue the same level of reality as we worship God.You can watch a video trailer, or listen to some sample songs:
The songs on Valley of Vision draw from these prayers at various levels and in various ways. Some use a few phrases from a specific prayer, others develop a particular idea, and a few try to capture the original flow of thought, using many of the original words.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Hugh Hewitt has interviewed Senator Rick Santorum regarding the declassification.
"This is a blog post I was hoping and praying I wouldn't have to write."
"I'm sad to say I believe this vote is the beginning of the end of the PCUSA."
"So, in light of the General Assembly vote to accept the PUP Report, is it time for biblically-committed Christians to leave the PCUSA? I'll pick up this question tomorrow."
Read the whole thing for the strange details.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
- The Liberty of the Christian, 1
- The Liberty of the Christian, 2
- The Liberty of the Christian, 3
- The Liberty of the Christian, 4
- The Liberty of the Christian, 5
"Christian liberty, by my definition, is very simple -- I may not add to the Word of God and create rules for life or behavior or doctrine that are not clearly taught in the Bible. I may not 'bind the conscience' of others with my derived principles or applications. That is a combined set of ideas from many sources, including the Westminster Confession."
"Protecting Christian liberty does not mean I reach no conclusions about applying Scripture to the details of my life -- it means I do not impose my conclusions or others or judge them because they do not agree with my conclusions."
Monday, June 19, 2006
Sunday, June 18, 2006
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,
and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
"Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption."
(J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 202)
One of the difficulties in adoption is often securing the finances to do it. Adoptions are usually expensive. An average domestic adoption often costs around $15,000 and international adoptions are often $25,000.
I've tried to pull together some resources for those who are interested in seeking some aid or donating their money.
The Local Church
If your church doesn't currently have any adoption ministries, perhaps you're called to start one.
FamilyLife.com offers some guidance for how to make it happen: Four Basic Steps to Starting a Local Church Based Orphan's Ministry.
- Identifying Seed Families
- Preparing and Fertilizing the Soil
- Bearing First Fruits
- Becoming Deeply Rooted in Ministry
- How does an ‘Adoption Fund’ fit into my church’s vision/mission?
- How does Life International help the Church establish a Fund?
- How does a local Church get started establishing an Adoption Fund?
Interest-Free Covenant Loans
The ABBA Fund provides adoption financial assistance to Christian couples who are "called by God to enlarge their family through adoption, who are committed to train and educate their children in accordance with Biblical principles, and who need financial assistance in order to complete the adoption."
Such families may enter into a "covenant agreement" with The ABBA Fund, whereby they covenant to reimburse the ABBA Fund in manageable monthly payments. The wonderful thing is that they provide this financial assistance without any interest! (You can apply or donate at their site.)
Life International also offers a similiar interest-free covenant loans. (You can apply or donate at their site.)
Grants Through Foundations
There are a number of foundations that offer grants for adoption. One is Shaohannah's Hope, founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and named after his daughter. Their average grant is about $4000. On last year's "All Things New Tour" he raised over $2 million for adoption grants. (You can apply or donate at their site.)
Life International also offers matching grants--so if a friend gives you $50 toward the adoption, it becomes $100.
More foundations and programs can be found here. (As with anything on the net, it goes without saying that it's wise to look into these programs before applying or donating.)
Benefits in the Workplace
Some employers offer adoption benefits to their work-life policies. For more information on this, see the Adoption Friendly Workplace Program. As the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption explains: "By offering adoption benefits, employers can provide equity for all their employees who choose to create families – whether through birth or adoption. And with less than one-half of 1% of the employee population using these benefits in a year, the package is extremely cost effective considering the benefits the organization gets in return."
Eligible parents can receive the adoption tax credit--up to $10,000 subtracted from your tax liability. Speaking from experience, it can be a tad confusing as to what you get back and when, but this overview and this info sheet are pretty helpful. One way to go would be to get a covenanted loan from the ABBA Fund and then use your tax return to repay them.
I hope this helps. If you know of other trusted sources or have other ideas, feel free to include them in the comments section below.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Friday, June 16, 2006
Some commenters flatly said that the passage was "mistranslated." I suggested that this conclusion was not based on good scholarship, and that the best exegetical-linguistic work in this area showed that the word "authentein" probably means "authority" (in a neutral or positive sense), and that the syntax of the sentence decisively demonstrated this.
The responses questioned how I was in a position to judge what scholarship was "best," suggested that the word study on authentein was inconclusive (to which I agree), and tried to show that their arguments are indeed based on good scholarship--not through argumentation, but rather based on the fact that I. Howard Marshall (a good scholar, no doubt) holds to this view (as cited on an Amazon.com review).
Now Andreas Köstenberger weighs in on the discussion over at his blog with a post entitled
1 Timothy 2:12—Once More.
You’ve heard it said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Well, the same is true with regard to scholarship. Those who are unaware of the best and most recent scholarly work on a given issue will be greatly handicapped in discussions of that issue. This is true, among other things, regarding the proper interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12.
Köstenberger provides an interesting window into the responses of egalitarians to his work:
Since the publication of the first edition of Women in the Church in 1995, both complementarian and egalitarian scholars have reviewed the work, whether in book reviews or commentaries. In the second edition of Women in the Church, which appeared last year (2005), I take up the last decade of scholarship on the syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12 and review all the responses to my syntactical study (see Women in the Church, 2d ed., pp. 74–84).
Here is what I find. With the exception of Linda Belleville, even all the egalitarian scholars who reviewed my chapter on the syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12 agree with my conclusion! This includes even those, like Kevin Giles, who are vehemently opposed to the overall message of the passage and its implications as interpreted in the book. Tellingly, Giles, for example, argues that the author of the Pastorals here probably broke the rules of Greek grammar!
Egalitarian scholars such as Alan Padgett, Craig Keener, and, it appears, also William Webb likewise concur with the construal of the syntax of 1 Tim. 2:12 in Women in the Church. Perhaps most remarkably, a German reviewer, Judith Hartenstein, writes,
My theological position is very different from that of Köstenberger. Nevertheless, I often find his analysis of texts and exegetical problems convincing and inspiring, especially if he uses linguistic approaches. . . . . Likewise, I agree with Köstenberger’s reading of 1 Tim 2. Köstenberger shows that the text demands a hierarchy between men and women and is meant as normative teaching. But with a different, far more critical view of the Bible, I need not accept it as God’s word. (It helps that I do not regard 1 Timothy as written by Paul.)
Read the whole thing--especially for Köstenberger's thoughts on I. Howard Marshall's exegetical methodology on these issues.
For those who are interested, the second edition of the book Women in the Church can be found at Amazon.com.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Al Mohler writes on his blog:
"I am scheduled to discuss the issue of homosexuals and the Christian ministry on tonight's "Larry King Live" show, on CNN at 9:00 e.d.t.
"Other guests are to include Andrew Sullivan, Bishop Frank Griswold, Bishop Gene Robinson (the first openly-homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA), and the head of the American Anglican Council."
I'm not sure how wise it is to pass resolutions that functionally condemn the actions of Jesus (John 2; Luke 7:33-34; ) and Paul (1 Tim. 5:23). I'm also not sure it's very wise to prohibit that which God has given as a gift (Deut. 14:26; Ps. 104:15).
Many people don't know that John Piper--himself a teetotaler and one who recommends teetotaling--put his ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church on the line in 1982, having been at Bethlehem for just a year and a half. The church constitution required that teetotaling be a requirement for members. Piper sought to change this biblically indefensible position. (It's interesting to note that he waited years before explicitly speaking of Calvinism, but sought to make this change right away.)
Again, remembering that he himself is a teetotaler and wishes that all would be teetotalers, he offered these powerful words from a sermon delivered nearly 25 years ago:
* * *
I want to hate what God hates and love what God loves. And this I know beyond the shadow of a doubt: God hates legalism as much as he hates alcoholism. If any of you still wonders why I go on supporting this amendment, after hearing all the tragic stories about lives ruined through alcohol, the reason is that when I go home at night and close my eyes and let eternity rise in my mind I see ten million more people in hell because of legalism than because of alcoholism. And I think that is a literal understatement. Satan is so sly. "He disguises himself as an angel of light," the apostle says in 2 Corinthians 11:14. He keeps his deadliest diseases most sanitary. He clothes his captains in religious garments and houses his weapons in temples. O don't you want to see his plots uncovered? I want Bethlehem to be a place Satan fears. I want him to be like the emperor in "The Emperor's New Clothes." And we will be the babes (not in thinking! 1 Cor. 14:20) who say, "Look, he thinks he is clothed in white, but he is naked and ugly."
Listen as I uncover one of his plots. Legalism is a more dangerous disease than alcoholism because it doesn't look like one.
- Alcoholism makes men fail; legalism helps them succeed in the world.
- Alcoholism makes men depend on the bottle; legalism makes them self-sufficient, depending on no one.
- Alcoholism destroys moral resolve; legalism gives it strength.
- Alcoholics don't feel welcome in church; legalists love to hear their morality extolled in church.
Therefore, what we need in this church is not front end regulations to try to keep ourselves pure. We need to preach and pray and believe that "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither teetotalism nor social drinking, neither legalism nor alcoholism is of any avail with God, but only a new creation (a new heart)" (Gal. 6:15; 5:6). The enemy is sending against us every day the Sherman tank of the flesh with its cannons of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. If we try to defend ourselves or our church with peashooter regulations we will be defeated even in our apparent success. The only defense is to "be rooted and built up in Christ and established in faith" (Col. 2:6); "Strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy" (Col. 1:11); "holding fast to the Head from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together … grows with a growth that is from God" (Col. 2:19). From God! From God! And not from ourselves.Update:
This quote from Martin Luther (known to drink [and brew!] a beer or two in his day) is helpful:
We must not...reject [or] condemn anything because it is abused. This would result in utter confusion. God has commanded us in Deut. 4 not to lift up our eyes to the sun (and the moon and the stars), etc., that we may not worship them, for they are created to serve all nations. But there are many people who worship the sun and the stars. Therefore we propose to rush in and pull the sun and stars from the skies. No, we had better let it be. Again, wine and women bring many a man to misery and make a fool of him (Ecclus. 19:2; 31:30); so we kill all the women and pour out all the wine. Again, gold and silver cause much evil, so we condemn them. Indeed, if we want to drive away our worst enemy, the one who does us the most harm, we shall have to kill ourselves, for we have no greater enemy than our own heart, as the prophet, Jer. 17, says, "The heart of man is crooked," or, as I take the meaning, "always twisting to one side." And so on - what would we not do?
-From his fourth Invocavit sermon from 1522, found in Works [American edition] 51:85.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Directly influenced by Francis Schaeffer, her time under his teaching in the Swiss Alps, and an ex-druggie, ninth-grade dropout friend, Andrée found that becoming a Christian was not a resignation to denial but the door to a garden of grace and peace.
After her husband's death, she seriously examined her faith and walk with Christ. "It was a messenger from God", she writes. Transparent before others, broken before God; she writes with insight and humility about everyday grace as she struggles, requests and anticipates daily blessings.Selected from more than eight years' worth of columns, WORLD Magazine offers 30 essays by Andrée Seu as a limited edition hard cover book. (144 pages, $14.95)
Sunday, June 11, 2006
". . . whereas to the Puritans communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing. The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not. The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it. When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God. Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service—but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God. Our sermons contain much sound doctrine—but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour. We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters. Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us. But how different were the Puritans! The whole aim of their ‘practical and experimental’ preaching and writing was to explore the reaches of the doctrine and practice of man’s communion with God."
Packer, A Quest for Godliness, p. 215 (chapter 12).
The outline is as follows:
(1) A survey of some of the fundamental issues
(2) Tough cases: I: the “fulfillment” of law
(3) Tough cases: II: the role of chronological sequence in “reading” the OT
(4) Tough cases: III: Ps 2:7 and 2 Sam 7:14 in Heb 1:5
(5) Tough cases: IV: some forms of “typology”
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As Scott writes:
Items of interest to readers would include:
1. Mohler/Patterson debate
2. Mark Dever's breakout session on Church discipline
3. Mark Dever's sermon at the Founder's breakfast
4. All the IMB ruckus/Wade Burleson, etc.
5. The 3-way race for SBC President
6. Condoleeza Rice speaking to the convention
Note also that he passes along the news that Al Mohler had emergency eye surgery at Duke University. So please pray for Dr. Mohler.
When I was at Bethlehem Baptist Church, a faithful elderly lady made it a special prayer focus to pray for the eyes of the pastors, recognizing what an important gift and tool they are for ministers of the gospel. It's a good reminder for us to pray--both for physical eyes and for spiritual eyes to behold wonderful things from God's law.
"Well, you have heard from three of my favorite scholars; and now it’s time to hear from a simple, but athletic pastor. Here’s my concern: It is all too easy for us to affirm biblical manhood and womanhood and humbly contend for the complementarian position, and yet fail to intentionally and consistently apply this body of teaching to our lives and churches. So this post is a reminder to us as pastors that we must not only proclaim truth but practice truth. Preaching on biblical manhood and womanhood is not enough--we must transfer this body of truth to every member of our churches. Complementarianism must be functional in our personal lives and in our churches, not simply professed. And we must not lose sight of the difference biblical manhood and womanhood can and should make for husbands, wives, children and singles."
Make sure to read the whole thing.
I'd encourage every pastor and elder out there not only to do as CJ suggests and ask your wife these tough questions (Where do I need to grow in serving and leading you? Where do I need to grow in serving and leading the children?), ask yourself these questions (Where and how am I going to demonstrate biblical manhood to my wife and children this week? What difference is my complementarian position going to make in your life and for those I love, lead, and serve?) and to ask your elders and staff these questions ( Do we have a strategy for helping our church demonstrate biblical manhood and womanhood? If so, what is our strategy? What is our plan to clarify, cultivate and celebrate biblical manhood and womanhood in our church? Is biblical manhood and womanhood modeled and explicitly taught in each ministry? What about our children’s ministry? How about the youth ministry? The worship team? The counseling ministry? Etc.)
As Christian Smith suggests in his sociological analysis, Christian America, evangelicals are rhetorically complementarian and practically egalitarian (as cited by Russell Moore in his paper After Patriarchy, What? Why Egalitarians Are Winning the Evangelical Gender Debate.)
To stem the tide and to return our churches to a place where complementarianism is not just affirmed but implemented, we can start by (1) reading CJ's post, (2) distributing it among the leaders in our churches, and (3) putting it into practice, seeking God for wisdom and repentance.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Part I: From Wycliffe to King James (The Period of Challenge)
Part II: The Reign of the King James (The Era of Elegance)
Part III: From the KJV to the RV (from Elegance to Accuracy)
Part IV: Why So Many Versions?
He sets the stage by describing various approaches to the church and culture relationship:
The relationship of Christians to culture is the singular current crisis point for the church. Evangelicals are deeply divided over how to interact with a social order that is growing increasingly post-Christian. Some advise a reemphasis on tradition and on "letting the church be the church," rejecting any direct attempt to influence society as a whole. Others are hostile to culture, but hopeful that they can change it through aggressive action, often of a political sort. Still others believe that "you change culture one heart at a time." Finally, many are attracted to the new culture and want to reengineer the church to modify its adversarial relationship with culture. Many in the "one heart at a time" party play down doctrine and stress experience, while some in the reengineering group are changing distinctives of evangelical doctrine in the name of cultural engagement. That is fueling much theological controversy, but even people who agree on the need for change disagree over what to do to our doctrine to reach the culture.
None of the strategies listed above should be abandoned. We need Christian tradition, Christians in politics, and effective evangelism. And the church has always contextualized itself into its surrounding culture. There are harmful excesses in every approach, however. I think that is because many have turned their specialty into a single magic bullet that will solve the whole problem. I doubt such a magic bullet exists, but just bundling them all together is not sufficient either.
Instead, we need a new and different strategy.
His different strategy can be outlined as follows, in his words:
- My first strategic point is simple: More Christians should live long-term in cities.
- Once in cities, Christians should be a dynamic counterculture.
- It will not be enough for Christians to form a culture that runs counter to the values of the broader culture. Christians should be a community radically committed to the good of the city as a whole.
- There is another important component to being a Christian counterculture for the common good. Christians should be a people who integrate their faith with their work.