Friday, August 29, 2008

Mohler on Sarah Palin’s Fifth Child (May 2008)

Posted by Andy Naselli

This morning John McCain announced his VP: Sarah Palin.

Almost four months ago, Al Mohler highlighted the Palin family in an article (”Welcome to the World, Trig Paxson Van Palin“) and on his radio show (also titled “Welcome to the World, Trig Paxson Van Palin“).

Here’s a description of the radio show:

A little boy with an extra chromosome was born on April 18. His name is Trig Paxson Van Palin and his new home is the Alaska Governor’s Mansion in Juneau. His mom is Governor Sarah Palin, who along with her husband Todd, has welcomed Trig as their second son and fifth child.

On today’s show, Mohler explains why Trig’s very existence defies the Culture of Death and gives us all hope.

Russell Moore on Adoption in WSJ

Posted by Andy Naselli for JT

Al Mohler:
Today’s edition of The Wall Street Journal includes an article on adoption by Naomi Schaefer Riley that features our own Dr. Russell Moore.

An excerpt from the article:

Russell Moore, the dean of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., is the author of a forthcoming book called “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches.” A few years ago, Mr. Moore and his wife adopted two boys from Russia, and he notes that his church has posted a large map showing which countries member families have adopted children from. “In any given church,” he notes, “you rarely see only one family who has adopted. . . . It becomes part of the culture of the congregation.”

Of course, we not only know Dr. Moore as an advocate for adoption, but we see in his family — and in so many others no this campus — all the evidence we need concerning the grace of adoption.

I offer further thoughts here.
Mohler's "further thoughts" refers to an article he posted early this morning: "The Culture of the Congregation -- Celebrating Adoption."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Veepstakes: For What It's Worth...

Marc Ambinder reports that Tim Pawlenty is canceling interviews for the day.

"Startling Advance" in Adult Cell Research

Rob Stein of the Washington Post:
Scientists have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a variety of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires associated with embryonic stem cell research
Read the whole thing.

Democrats and Republicans

Peggy Noonan's entire column is worth reading (as usual), but this section stood out to me:
Democrats in the end speak most of, and seem to hold the most sympathy for, the beset-upon single mother without medical coverage for her children, and the soldier back from the war who needs more help with post-traumatic stress disorder. They express the most sympathy for the needy, the yearning, the marginalized and unwell. For those, in short, who need more help from the government, meaning from the government's treasury, meaning the money got from taxpayers.

Who happen, also, to be a generally beset-upon group.

Democrats show little expressed sympathy for those who work to make the money the government taxes to help the beset-upon mother and the soldier and the kids. They express little sympathy for the middle-aged woman who owns a small dry cleaner and employs six people and is, actually, day to day, stressed and depressed from the burden of state, local and federal taxes, and regulations, and lawsuits, and meetings with the accountant, and complaints as to insufficient or incorrect efforts to meet guidelines regarding various employee/employer rules and regulations. At Republican conventions they express sympathy for this woman, as they do for those who are entrepreneurial, who start businesses and create jobs and build things. Republicans have, that is, sympathy for taxpayers. But they don't dwell all that much, or show much expressed sympathy for, the sick mother with the uninsured kids, and the soldier with the shot nerves.

Neither party ever gets it quite right, the balance between the taxed and the needy, the suffering of one sort and the suffering of another. You might say that in this both parties are equally cold and equally warm, only to two different classes of citizens.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Colossians in the ESV Study Bible: An Interview with Clinton Arnold

Interviewed by Andy Naselli

Clinton E. Arnold is professor of New Testament language and literature and chair of the New Testament department at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California, where he has taught since 1987. He has earned degrees at Biola College (B.A.), Talbot Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and the University of Aberdeen (Ph.D.). His website and CV list his many publications.

Dr. Arnold contributed the notes to Colossians in the ESV Study Bible. His introduction and notes to Colossians 1 are available as a PDF here.

1. What do you think about study Bibles in general and the ESV Study Bible in particular?
There is a long history of study Bibles in the church dating back to the Geneva Bible of 1560. Many Christians have found the notes of this and subsequent study Bibles very useful in helping them to understand and interpret the text of Scripture. Of course, one of the dangers has been in subconsciously elevating the authority of the notes to that of Scripture. When I was younger, some poked fun at this by slightly editing the line of a well-known hymn: “My faith is built on nothing less than Scofield’s notes and Scripture Press!”

One of the distinct benefits of study Bibles is in helping lay people to see that the Scripture is far more than a disconnected collection of Bible verses. Study Bibles provide a great service in helping people read the Bible in its literary context (with notes on literary features of the text and outlining the flow of thought), historical context (with numerous notes explaining various social, cultural, and historical details of the text and by helping readers see the life setting of each individual document), and in theological context (by explaining theological ideas in relationship to the way the same concepts are explained by other biblical writers).

There is great excitement at my home about the release of the ESV Study Bible. Each member of my family wants their own copy as soon as it is available. Part of this enthusiasm stems from the wide array of notes, essays, and visual aids that will be a part of this publication. The team of experts that Crossway pulled together for this project and the depth of the notes they have written also make this a very attractive resource. I feel quite privileged to have had a small part in this project.
2. You've been researching and writing on Colossians since at least 1991: Would you share a brief abstract of your 1995 WUNT tome and note how this has helped you in your understanding of Colossians?
I actually began in-depth academic work on Colossians back in 1983 when I started my doctoral work at Aberdeen. When I published a revised form of my dissertation, I deleted everything on Colossians because I felt there was so much more historical work that should be done on the letter (and because Cambridge asked me to reduce the size of my manuscript by 40%!). I had an opportunity to pursue some of these loose ends during a period of research in Germany, where I had easy access to some of the finest archaeological and historical libraries in the world.

One of the things that had always intrigued me about Roman era western Anatolia was the amazing concentration of inscriptions mentioning angels or invoking angels—far more, in fact, than anywhere else in the Mediterranean world. This seemed an interesting convergence with the fact that Paul described one of the key features of the teaching of his opponents at Colossae as advocating “the worship of angels.” All of these inscriptions appeared to have one common theme: these people were calling on angels for help, deliverance, and protection from evil spirits.

This and a variety of other historical phenomena led me to the conclusion that the problem at Colossae was not the influence of some sophisticated philosophical ideas (like Gnosticism) or even Jewish mysticism, but something more practical—a local form of folk belief. Just as in many non-western cultures today, people from this area sought out the the spiritual wisdom and guidance from local shamans (or, “magicians”) who promised to provide them with spiritual power. Of course, a critical issue for believers is the degree to which they could rely on these local traditions for accessing spiritual power. Should they continue to call on helper spirits (angels), wear amulets, perform incantations and rituals, and observe taboos?

I think Paul gives theological perspective on these kinds of questions in Colossians. Reading Colossians against this background helps us see its incredible relevance to us in a new light.
3. Would you explain what "mirror reading" is and discuss whether we can determine a letter's background by connecting the dots?
“Mirror reading” is a way of reading a NT letter under the assumption that most of what is said by the biblical writer is reflective of a problem or situation confronting the church. For example, someone might say that because Paul admonishes the Colossians to rid themselves of “anger, wrath, malice, and slander,” that this must have been a big problem in the church at Colossae. Such a way of reading the letter could easily be overdone. Some of the instruction that Paul gives may simply be based on the fact that these are universal human problems (because of the presence of sin).

It is not “mirror reading,” however, to examine explicit features of the so-called heresy in light of the religious and cultural environment. In other words, when Paul says, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions” (Col 2:18), this is a specific indicator of what the opponents were teaching that calls out for historical examination. We need to look at all such explicit indicators and attempt to discern what the church was facing.

It becomes much more difficult in determining which aspects of the positive teaching of the letter should be understood as contributing to our understanding of what the problem was. In my view, some of the positive teaching must be seen as contributing to a portrait of the situation because Paul was writing as a caring pastor who was expressing theology in a way that was relevant to their specific needs.

It should be noted, however, that this does not make the theology of the letter dependent upon one particular reconstruction of the heresy. The truth Paul expresses about Christ will remain true regardless of how we understand the rival teaching at Colossae. In other words, it is true that “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col 1:13) whether one sees the Colossian philosophy as mystical Judaism, Gnosticism, or local folk belief. Our interpretation of the relevance of this statement for our own ministry setting, however, may be impacted by our understanding of the nature of the false teaching.
4. More generally, how did you transition from the technical, scholarly level to a study Bible?
Conversations with many believers from non-Western backgrounds has helped me to see many features of the relevance of Colossians that were not as readily apparent to me.

In general, though, my heart has always been with the church first and foremost. I try to do all of my scholarship in the service of the church.
5. What is your favorite aspect of Colossians?
I am amazed at the way Paul takes this incredibly high Christology and makes it relevant to the church. This is summed up well in Col 2:9-10, where he says: “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” By virtue of our relationship with Christ, we share in his power and authority over the enemies (not only the power of sin, but the power of the demonic realm). This is a remarkable teaching that should be shouted from the rooftops.
6. What are some of the most useful commentaries on Colossians?
Beginning with the more advanced commentaries, Robert McL. Wilson’s ICC commentary (T. & T. Clark) is the most recent and thorough. Professor Wilson has spent many years of his life working on this. It is quite helpful. Doug Moo has also put together an outstanding commentary on Colossians for the Pillar series (Eerdmans) that has just been published. I have always found Doug’s comments wise and discerning. Although it is old (originally printed in 1879), J. B. Lightfoot’s commentary is still very informative and useful. Those who want help with the Greek text will find Murray Harris’s Exegetical Guide on Colossians to be quite handy. Peter O’Brien’s Word Biblical Commentary has served the church very well over the past two decades.

At the mid-level, one will find David Garland’s NIVAC commentary (Zondervan) very profitable. Because of this series’ emphasis on application, all will find the “Contemporary Significance” sections stimulating.
7. What advice would you give to pastors who are contemplating preaching expository sermons through Colossians? Would you recommend a particular approach?
Preliminary to the preparation of any preaching series should be multiple readings of the text. This should be done in a prayerful way calling upon the Spirit of God to open up the meaning and relevance of the text. I have personally found it helpful to have a different question in mind that I pose to the text with each successive reading, such as, what does this book teach me about Christ? about God? about the nature of salvation? et al.

Although we need to be careful of ascribing too much importance to background information, it has a very important role to play in the hermeneutical process. We must remember that Colossians was written to a particular group of people in a specific cultural setting facing a unique set of problems. Therefore, the better we can understand the so-called heresy and the reasons that prompted it, the better we can do at understanding the relevance of the theological message of Colossians for our cultural context. Accordingly, I think it is important for anyone preaching or teaching through Colossians to take the time to study the life setting of the letter and the contours of what we can know about the rival teaching at Colossae.

I recently had the privilege of spending a day with the Senior Pastor and teaching staff of First Evangelical Free Church, Fullerton, dialoguing about the text, theology, background, and relevance of Colossians. They organized this time in preparation for a coordinated emphasis on Colossians for the Sunday morning services and various other teaching ministries of the church. I know that I personally found this to be a stimulating time and it seemed like it would have been a very helpful time for the pastor and teachers as they worked diligently well in advance of launching this series. We can never underestimate how much we can learn from each other in our study of the text.
8. What advice would you give to lay people reading Colossians in the ESV Study Bible?
Please read the text of Colossians and make some of your own observations before jumping to the notes. This will also enhance the value of the notes on Colossians for you since you are approaching them with questions formed on the basis of your own reading of the text. Of course, this procedure would apply to gaining the maximum value from the study notes on any of the books of the Bible.

JT: Thanks to Andy Naselli and Clint Arnold for doing this interview! To read Dr. Arnold's introduction and his notes on the first chapter of Colossians, here is the PDF.

Priest Cracks Charles Wesley's Coded Diary

Times Online: "An Anglican priest has unlocked the 270-year-old secrets of Charles Wesley's coded diary, throwing light on the turbulent relationship that he had with his brother John in the early years of the Methodist movement they founded."

HT: Ben Witherington

Spurgeon for the Sick and Afflicted

Gordon Cheng has a helpful post giving some facts about Spurgeon's life and mind-boggling accomplishments in the midst of serious suffering. It's worth a read.

(Cf. also Piper's biographical overview on Spurgeon, preaching, and suffering, as well as Mark Driscoll's three-part overview on Spurgeon).

Update: John Piper once wrote--thanks, guys, for the reference and exact wording--about Spurgeon:

"What shall we make of such a man? Neither a god nor a goal. He should not be worshiped or envied. He is too small for the one and too big for the other." (A Godward Life, p.264)

"Sane Faith": Powlison on Boundless

David Powlison has written a new article--in three parts--for
I have yet to read something by Powlison that was not stimulating and edifying--and I'm sure this series is the same!

Mark Dever Interviews Os Guinness

Here's the correct link to the audio of their conversation.

Israel to Display the Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internet

NYT: "Each piece of the Dead Sea Scrolls is being digitally photographed with the aim of putting the entire file online."

Do You Care What Christ Thinks of the Church?

Sam Storms's latest book is To the One Who Conquers: 50 Daily Meditations on the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3. I'm halfway through the book, reading it devotionally, and have appreciated it very much--especially because Storms models for me the way to meditate on God's instruction day and night.

Here was one section in particular I found helpful (pp. 30-31), commenting on Jesus walking among the seven lampstands (Rev. 2:1):
He is present in and among his people. He guards and protects and preserves the church. He is never, ever absent! No service is conducted at which he fails to show up. No meal is served for which he does not sit down. No sermon is preached that he does not evaluate. No sin is committed of which is he unaware. No individual enters an auditorium of whom he fails to take notice. No tear is shed that escapes his eye. No pain is felt that his heart does not share. No decision is made that he does not judge. No song is sung that he does not hear.

How dare we build our programs and prepare our messages and hire our staffs and discipline our members as if he were distant or unaware of every thought, impulse, word, or decision! How dare we cast a vision or write a doctrinal statement or organize a worship service as if the Lord whose church it is were indifferent to it all!

Do you care “What Christ thinks of the Church”? Or are you more attuned to the latest trend in worship, the most innovative strategy for growth, the most “relevant” way in which to engage the surrounding culture? Yes, Jesus cares deeply about worship. Of course he wants the church to grow. And he longs to see the culture redeemed for his own glory. All the more reason to pray that God might quicken us to read and heed the “words” of Christ to the church in Ephesus, then, and to the church now, whatever its name, denomination, or size. It obviously matters to him. Ought it not to us as well?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Phelps Frame-by-Frame Victory

Here are underwater frame-by-frame shots of Michael Phelps razor-edge victory in the 100-meter butterfly, touching the wall .01 seconds before his Serbian opponent. (The day after the event, I heard an interview with the official Olympics timekeeper, who pointed out that the human eye unaided can only see things at .1 second intervals--so without photography and the touch pad it would have been impossible to tell who won.)

ESV Study Bible on Facebook

For those of you who belong to the social-networking site, Facebook, I've started a group page. Feel free to weigh in on the discussion.

Videos from The Gospel Coalition

Andy Naselli: "The Gospel Coalition recently uploaded nine short videos."

About The Gospel Coalition

About TGC’s 2009 National Conference

Piper: Abortion Is about God

9Marks E-Newsletter on Family and Parenting

The latest 9Marks edition is up (also available in PDF). My little piece involved reviewing three Bible storybooks for kids. Here's the table of contents:

Wanted: Kingdom Families

Embedded Portraits: A Theological Vision for Families

Book Review: Family Driven Faith
By Voddie Baucham Jr
Reviewed by Michael Lawrence

Book Review: Practicing Hospitality
By Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock
Reviewed by Adrienne Lawrence

Learning to Multiply

39 Lessons, 20 Tips and 10 "Don'ts" For Parenting

Favorite Children's Bibles


Book Review:
Gracism: The Art of Inclusion

by David A. Anderson
Reviewed by Ken Jones

Book Review:
Multicultural Ministry: Finding Your Church's Unique Rhythm

by David A. Anderson
Reviewed by Juan Sanchez

Book Review:
Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church: Mandates, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation

by Mark DeYmaz
Reviewed by Benjamin Wright

Book Review:
Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament

by Christopher J.H. Wright
Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Book Review:
The Peacemaking Pastor: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Church
by Alfred Poirier
Reviewed by Bob Johnson

Book Review:
40 Questions About Elders and Deacons

by Benjamin L. Merkle
Reviewed by Will Kynes

Matthew/Mark Cornerstone Commentary: Free

Phil Gons:
In an effort to promote the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary series, Logos is giving away the Matthew, Mark volume by David L. Turner and Darrell L. Bock for free—no strings attached! Make sure to use coupon code CORNERSTONE.

NOTE: If you don’t already have a Libronix Customer ID, make sure to download the free Libronix engine and create a Libronix Customer ID before you grab this commentary.

It’s a limited-time offer. Spread the word!

Isaiah in the ESV Study Bible, and an Interview with Ray Orltlund

We've now posted online the next sample from the ESV Study Bible: the introduction to the book of Isaiah, along with the notes for the first two chapters (a 14-page PDF).

Colin Adams, who blogs at Unashamed Workman (a helpful blog related to preaching), interviews Ray Ortlund about the book of Isaiah, preaching through it, and writing these notes.

Here's an excerpt, discussing Isaiah's relevance for today:

6. So, what ‘prophetic message’ does the book of Isaiah bring to the church today?

I think Isaiah would have loved Calvin, who in the throes of decision wrote to Farel, “I am well aware that it is with God that I have to do.” We are always dealing with God. But little in the modern world makes us well aware of it. Isaiah became well aware of God. He came to realize how urgently relevant to all things is the One who says, “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior” (43:11). But Isaiah also saw that it’s the most natural thing in the world for us, without even realizing it, to redefine God in such a way that we can forsake him and still think of ourselves as good people.

That leads to Isaiah’s second prophetic message to us today. We are more wicked than we know. Isaiah himself went through a profound humiliation before God. He was a privileged man, and obviously a genius. People probably valued his opinions. But when he saw the holy King, he finally saw his own dirty self, no better than anyone else (6:1-5). But the grace of the King was feelingly applied to Isaiah, energizing him for a self-abandoning, God-glorifying life mission (6:6-8). As Charles Simeon wrote to a friend, “You have always appeared to me to be sincere. But your views of Christianity seemed to be essentially defective. You have always appeared to admire Christianity as a system; but you never seemed to have just views of Christianity as a remedy; you never seemed to possess self-knowledge or to know the evil of your own heart.”

Isaiah’s third and breath-takingly glorious message is that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He will preserve, purify and honor his people, drawing us out from all the nations as a glorious new humanity and, through the sin-bearing Servant, he will have us glorifying and enjoying himself in a renewed universe forever. No matter what terrors confront us in the world, no matter what sins we discover in ourselves, God will fulfill his saving purpose. “Be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create,” God says (65:18).

Read the whole thing.

Ted Kennedy

Peter Wehner on when Senator Ted Kennedy's speech last night was memorable and moving:
There was, first of all, the fact that he gave the speech at all. It was a demonstration of a certain kind of courage, and it was admirable. Beyond that, the speech was not sentimental or retrospective or introspective; it was, rather, forward-looking and purposeful. His goal was to continue what he started many months ago: to anoint Barack Obama as the heir to his brother. He did not choose to play on people's emotions; instead, he chose to meet what he views as his political duty.

And beyond that was, as Charles Krauthammer noted on Fox tonight, a slight but significant, and poignant, shift in Kennedy's rhetoric. In his other memorable convention speech, in 1980, Kennedy concluded by saying "the dream will never die." Tonight Senator Kennedy, stricken with terminal brain cancer, declared "the dream will live on."

There are few figures in public life with whom I disagree with more than Senator Kennedy, and he has said and done things over the years that I have found deeply troubling. But tonight he was, to borrow a line made famous by his brother, a profile in courage. We saw a man facing a horrifying disease act with grit and grace. And that is something for which I am grateful.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Donald Miller's DNC Prayer

The blog Resounding Truth has a transcript of Donald Miller's prayer tonight:
Please join me for the next few moments in our Benediction.
"Father God,
This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.
We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.
We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.
Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.
Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.
Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.
Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.
Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.
Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.
We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.
Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world?
A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.
Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world?
Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.
Lastly, father, unify us.
Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.
And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.
God we know that you are good.
Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.
I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.
Let Him be our example.

Reading the Bible Essays in the ESV Study Bible

I know there was a link last week to the set of articles in the ESV Study Bible on Reading the Bible, but I thought it might be helpful to list them individually here:
  • Reading the Bible Theologically, by J.I. Packer (pp. 1-2)
  • Reading the Bible as Literature, by Leland Ryken (pp. 3-4)
  • Reading the Bible in Prayer and Communion with God, by John Piper (pp. 4-6)
  • Reading the Bible for Personal Application, by David Powlison (pp. 6-8)
  • Reading the Bible for Preaching and Public Worship, by R. Kent Hughes (pp. 8-10)
There are also essays on the basics of biblical interpretation (by Dan Doriani) and a historical overview of biblical interpretation (by John Hannah)--though these essays aren't included in the section linked above.

If you haven't read Michael Spencer's interview with David Powlison related to his essay, it's well worth your time.

Biden, Loggorhea, and Abortion

It's hard to dislike Joe Biden. (I first became aware of him 20 years ago, when I heard him give a talk in Iowa when he was running for president for the first time.) It's also hard not to see the humor in some of his quirks.

Here's Alex Massie:
Despite all those years in Washington, there's an endearing child-like quality to Biden. Or, to put it another way, observing Biden in full flow is a glorious sight; it's like watching a labrador bound after a bouncing ball even though, being a puppy, it doesn't quite have the co-ordination to grab the ball cleanly. Instead there's a frenzy of yelping delight as the ball carroms around the yard, always tantalisingly just out of reach...
And here's Peggy Noonan, a few years ago:
The great thing about Joe Biden during the Alito hearings, the reason he is, to me, actually endearing, is that as he speaks, as he goes on and on and spins his long statements, hypotheticals, and free associations--as he demonstrates yet again, as he did in the Roberts hearings and even the Thomas hearings, that he is incapable of staying on the river of a thought, and is constantly lured down tributaries from which he can never quite work his way back--you can see him batting the little paddles of his mind against the weeds, trying desperately to return to the river but not remembering where it is, or where it was going. I love him. He's human, like a garrulous uncle after a drink.
I suspect most conservatives who want to see McCain win are delighted--as I am--in his pick to be Obama's VP candidate.

On a more sobering note, Ramesh Ponnuru writes:
For pro-lifers, there is one tiny hopeful sign in the Biden pick. For a long time now, the top ranks of the Democratic party have embraced an orthodoxy on abortion policy that includes support for taxpayer funding of it and for keeping partial-birth abortion legal. The Democratic platform supports taxpayer funding. The three top contenders in this year’s Democratic presidential primaries—Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards—support both taxpayer funding and partial-birth abortion.

For the first time since partial-birth abortion became an issue, they [the Democrats] have a candidate [Biden] who opposes it, too. It is a less important development, I think, than the fact that their presidential nominee believes that some forms of infanticide should be legal. But it strikes me nonetheless as progress, however painfully limited.

And it means that if McCain picks Joe Lieberman as his running mate, the Republican vice-presidential nominee will be to the left of the Democratic one on abortion policy.

Ramesh's comments show (a) how extreme the Democrats have become on abortion, and (b) what a disaster it will be if McCain chooses his good friend--another pro-choice Joe.

Speaker of the House: When Life Begins Should Have No Impact on a Woman's Right to Choose

From Sunday's "Meet the Press":

Brokaw: …“I if [Obama] were to come to you and say ‘help me out here, Madam Speaker, when does life begin,’ what would you tell him?

Pelosi: “I would say that as an ardent practicing Catholic this is an issue that I have studied for a long time, and what I know is over the centuries the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition. And St. Augustine said three months. We don’t know. The point is it that it shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to chose.”

What Saddleback's Pastor Really Thinks About Politics

Naomi Schaefer Riley profiles and interviews Rick Warren in the Wall Street Journal. The opening:
"Overhyped." That's how the Rev. Rick Warren describes the notion that the evangelical vote is "up for grabs" in this election. But what about the significance of the evangelical left, I asked the pastor of Saddleback Church after his forum with the presidential candidates last weekend. "This big," he says, holding his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.

Sitting on a small stone patio outside the church's "green room," I question him further -- has he heard that the Democratic Party is changing its abortion platform? "Window dressing," he replies. "Too little, too late." But Rev. Jim Wallis, the self-described progressive evangelical, has been saying that the change is a big victory. "Jim Wallis is a spokesman for the Democratic Party," Mr. Warren responds dismissively. "His book reads like the party platform."

Read the whole thing.

HT: Michael Krahn

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mark Dever Interviews Os Guinness

Posted by James Grant

Mark Dever asks author Os Guinness about life at L'Abri, Frank Schafer, American exceptionalism, the state of the church, and more. Listen to the interview here.

[HT: Wyman Richardson]

The Order of Worship as a Pattern for Participation

Posted by James Grant

From the Prologue to the The Worship Sourcebook:

Scripture does not mandate a specific order of worship. And having a certain order of worship does not ensure that worship will be authentic, biblical, honest, and alive.

That said, a thoughtful pattern or order of worship is one of the most important things a congregation can have to ensure that the norms of worship are faithfully practiced. A well-thought-out order of worship ensures a balanced diet of worship actions. A regular order of worship protects the congregation from overly zealous or overly creative worship leaders who might impose too much of their own agendas on a worship service. A predictable order of worship gives the congregation something to hang on to, something to expect—especially those people, including children, for whom consistency is an important prerequisite for participation.

Most important, a well-conceived order of worship ensures that the main purposes of worship are carried out. In other words, a thoughtful pattern for worship keeps worship as worship. It protects worship from degenerating into a performance, into entertainment, or into an educational lecture.

[HT: Calvin Institute of Christian Worship]

(My) Last Word to Owen

Posted by David Reimer

With normal service about to be resumed (welcome back, JT!), one last "Sunday" post from yrs truly. This snippet from John Owen contains some obvious marks of the religious controversies of his day. Still, I think his central point stands: there is something in the human heart that prefers creatureliness to the true beauty of the Creator. Owen again exposes the roots of human sinfulness under all others -- idolatry, and the taproot, pride -- and holds up rather "God, the eternal spring of all beauty; ... Christ, the love, desire, and hope of all nations; [and] the Spirit, the great beautifier of souls":
It is an innate acknowledged principle, that the soul of man will not keep up cheerfully unto the worship of God, unless it have a discovery of a beauty and comeliness in it. Hence, when men had lost all spiritual sense and favour of the things of God, to supply the want that was in their own souls, they invented outwardly pompous and gorgeous ways of worship, in images, paintings, pictures, and I know not what carnal ornaments which they have called the beauties of holiness.

Thus much however was discovered therein, that the mind of man must see a beauty, a desirableness in the things of God's worship, or it will not delight in it; aversation will prevail. Let then the soul labour to acquaint itself with the spiritual beauty of obedience, of communion with God, and of all duties of immediate approach to him, that it may be filled with delight in them.
— John Owen, Indwelling Sin in Believers (1668), in Works, vol. 6, p. 188; Kapic & Taylor edition, pp. 269-70.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kirsty Birkett on Naturalism

Posted by Andy Naselli

The third essay in Christ on Campus Initiative’s series was just published this evening: Kirsty Birkett’s "I Believe in Nature: An Exploration of Naturalism and the Biblical Worldview."

The CCI essays are (1) by evangelical scholars, (2) geared for campus evangelism, and (3) edited by D. A. Carson. (And I've had the privilege of copy-editing them, so if you find any typos, let me know!)

Here's the outline for Birkett's essay:
Part 1: History
  1. Francis Bacon
  2. The Royal Society
  3. William Perkins
  4. William Paley
  5. Charles Darwin
  6. Thomas Huxley
  7. Summary
  8. Science and Naturalism Today
Part 2: What Is Science?
  1. The Method of Science
  2. One Response: Falsifiability
  3. The Problem of Empirical Equivalence
  4. Science and Community
  5. Summary
Part 3: The Bible and the Natural World
  1. It Is God’s World
  2. God Is Not Capricious
  3. God’s Reason for Creation
  4. Does the Bible Encourage Knowledge?
  5. A Marred World?
  6. The Limits of Natural Knowledge
  7. Putting It All Together
Part 4: The Problems of Naturalism
  1. The Problem of Power
  2. The Problem of Morality
  3. Explaining Humans
Annotated Bibliography
Related: Cf. JT's posts on the previous two essays:
  1. Do Christians Have a Worldview? (Graham Cole)
  2. Blomberg on How Historians Can Know Jesus and Why It Matters

Interview with Nathan Busenitz on "Reasons We Believe"

Interviewed by Andy Naselli

Nathan Busenitz (b. 1978) is an associate pastor and the personal assistant to John MacArthur at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. He is a faculty associate at The Master's Seminary, director of the Shepherds’ Fellowship, and managing editor of Pulpit magazine, where he frequently blogs. He has earned M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from The Master's Seminary and is currently pursuing a Th.D. in historical theology there as well.

He recently authored Reasons We Believe: Fifty Lines of Evidence That Confirm the Christian Faith (with a foreword by John MacArthur; Wheaton: Crossway, 2008). It's official publication date is August 31, 2008. More information about the book is available here, including a PDF-excerpt and the ability to browse the entire book online.

None less than John Frame has endorsed it:
Nathan Busenitz's Reasons We Believe stands out among apologetic texts in several respects. First, it is both comprehensive and concise, qualities one rarely finds in the same volume. Further, and more important, the book maintains a remarkable focus on Scripture itself. Though it does not neglect references to extra-biblical literature when appropriate, it might actually be described as the Bible’s own apologetic for itself. Therefore, the book shows how Christians can make use of traditional evidences and arguments within the Bible’s own framework of thought. Thus it brings presuppositions and evidences together, rather than placing them in competition.
John MacArthur writes in the foreword (p. 14),
Instead of starting elsewhere, Nathan Busenitz begins with the Bible, showing how God’s Word convincingly defends its own truth claims and then subsequently demonstrating how those claims are also confirmed by extra-biblical sources. Thoroughly biblical and meticulously researched, yet readily accessible and straightforward, Reasons We Believe belongs on every Christian’s bookshelf, whether you are looking to be equipped for evangelism or simply encouraged in the faith.
1. What is your book about, and who is its intended audience?
Reasons We Believe is a survey of fifty lines of evidence that confirm the Christian faith. The book starts with the Bible and asks the question, "What reasons does the Bible give in its own defense to confirm the truthfulness of its claims?" Then, after establishing each reason from Scripture, the book investigates how the claims of the Bible harmonize perfectly with external evidences from science, history, philosophy, and human experience. It was a joy to study (and then write about) how the reasons established for us in God’s Word are overwhelmingly confirmed by the evidence found in God’s world.

The book is really aimed at believers, confirming their faith and also giving them a tool for discussing the truthfulness of Christianity with their unsaved family, friends, and coworkers. At the same time, the book could be given to non-Christians, since it underscores both the truthfulness and exclusivity of the Christian gospel.
2. There are a lot of books on apologetics available. What distinct contribution(s) does yours make?
There are many other excellent books in print that defend the truthfulness of the Christian faith. I have benefited greatly from those books, and in fact reference many of them in Reasons We Believe. (For that matter, the fact that there are so many books available that use verifiable lines of evidence to defend the Christian faith is, in itself, a testimony to the truthfulness of Christianity.)

The distinct contribution that Reasons We Believe makes is, I believe, two-fold. First, it puts the emphasis first and foremost on Scripture, in contrast to many apologetic books that jump almost immediately to extrabiblical evidences (sometimes nearly bypassing the Bible altogether). Reasons We Believe does not ignore those extrabiblical evidences, but it discusses them only after first developing each line of evidence from Scripture. Thus, it places extrabiblical evidences in their proper place—as secondary confirmations of what the Bible itself authoritatively establishes.

Second, the book attempts to give an introductory overview of the many reasons that confirm the Christian faith. It is written at a popular level, and the fifty reasons are laid out in such a way that readers can easily skip to those parts that are of most usefulness or interest to them. The goal was to produce a book that was both biblical and scholarly on the one hand, and yet readable and user-friendly on the other.
3. Explain the way your book is organized and why.
The book is divided into five sections:
  1. Reasons we believe in God, that He exists and that we can know Him
  2. Reasons we believe in the Bible, that it is the Word of God
  3. Reasons we believe in the New Testament Gospels, that they are historically-reliable documents
  4. Reasons we believe in Jesus Christ, that He is the Son of God, the Messiah, and the Savior of the World
  5. Reasons we believe in the resurrection, that God raised Jesus from the dead
There are ten reasons under each of these five sections.

The goal, again, was to create a resource that made a large amount of information readily accessible to readers. We also wanted to provide pastors and Bible study leaders with a straightforward outline for teaching their people about the veracity of the Christian message.
4. Why did you write this book? What's the story behind it?
This book was a joy to write because the evidence (both biblically and extrabiblically) overwhelmingly confirms the truthfulness of Christianity. In fact, the hardest part was cutting out material because there is just so much evidence available.

I wrote the book, in part, because my own study of apologetics (coming from a presuppositional background) left me with questions about how Christian evidences were supposed to fit into my apologetic grid, practically speaking. So, in a sense, this book was an attempt for me to bridge some of the gaps between what I love about presuppositionalism and what I simultaneously appreciate about the study of Christian evidences.

Of course, the book itself is not a philosophy of apologetics—it is instead a concise survey of these many lines of evidence written at a popular level.
5. (a) What is apologetics? (b) What are the major approaches to apologetics (e.g., presuppositional, evidentialist)? (c) What apologetic approach do you follow in this book?
(a) The term apologetics is from a Greek word that means to make a defense (cf. Acts 26:2; 1 Pet. 3:15). In Christian theology, apologetics seeks to give a reasonable defense for the truthfulness of Christianity.

(b) I’ve found the book Five Views on Apologetics (Zondervan, 2000) to be a helpful overview for those who are interested in the major approaches: (1) classical; (2) evidential; (3) presuppositional; (4) cumulative case; and (5) reformed epistemological. A full discussion of the differences between each of these views would take a while, but one of the key issues (especially from a presuppositional perspective) concerns how much weight each system gives to extrabiblical evidences.

(c) Reasons We Believe seeks to approach Christian evidences from a presuppositional perspective (though the term “presuppositional” is not used in the book). So it starts with the Bible, surveying the lines of evidence that Scripture gives in its own defense. Insofar as those lines of evidence come from the Bible, we can be confident that they have God’s own authority behind them. The book then shows how those lines of evidence (having been established by the Scriptures) subsequently correspond to the facts of history, science, and human reason.
6. What are some of your forthcoming writing projects (short-term and long-term)?
Our church staff (lead by John MacArthur) is currently working on Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong: A Biblical Response to Today's Most Controversial Issues. This is a group project addressing contemporary issues and controversies from a biblical perspective (everything from global warming and the economy to same-sex marriage and online dating). I am contributing a couple chapters to that project, which is scheduled to be out by Shepherds’ Conference (in March 2009).

I also hope to do some writing on the Reformation principles of sola fide and sola Scriptura, but from an early church history perspective. Church history is a rich reservoir of evangelical theology. But, sadly, pre-Reformation church history is not often emphasized in Protestant circles (especially at the lay level). So I see a need for additional resources to be published in that area.
7. Many thanks, Nathan, for taking time to serve the readers of JT's blog with such helpful comments!
Thank you for the opportunity. I frequently read this blog and always enjoy the articles here. So this is a real privilege for me.

Around the Horn on Biden for Vice-President

Posted by James Grant

Dustin Steeve, a graduate of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, has an "around the horn" post at Evangelical Outpost regarding Joe Biden and his role as Vice-President for Obama. Here is his run-down:

The Trumpet Resounds:
Alexander Burns and John F. Harris provide a sketch of Biden for those unfamiliar with him or his record.

Trumpeting from the Right:

Hugh Hewitt agree's with the assessment of Biden that he is the "stupid person's idea of a smart person's candidate." Hewitt argues that picking Biden means that, "Obama has added to his unsteady candidacy an epic amount Beltway cluelessness and arrogance unsupported by anything except frequent flier miles and Delaware's love for a chuckle-headed fellow with a big smile." Cliff the Mail Man for Vice-President.

Proving that he understands the language of Obama's core support demographic, Washington Post On Faith columnist and Scriptorium Daily contributor John Mark Reynolds says "LOL" to Obama's seemingly unwise choice. Noting the unique role that a Vice-President can play, Reynold's says, "You look all over America able to choose the person (other than yourself) most fit to be President of the United States. It is a primary with one voter and you can choose your own Socrates, since he need not win over the masses." Instead of choosing Socrates, Obama chose Empedocles.

The editors at National Review Online question whether Obama's choice of Biden for VP leaves any hope for change in Washington.

Trumpeting from the Left:

Mike Allen quotes Obama spokesperson Linda Douglass who attempts to refute the notion that Biden eliminates any hope for change in Washington. According to Douglass, ""He's stared down dictators all around the world. He has decades of experience in Washington and, yet, uniquely, he is not of Washington...He is the perfect person you could try to find to get away from the failed policies of the Bush administration. He is an independent thinker. Joe Biden, as you well know, has never been at a loss for words."

At the Daily Kos they see Biden as a strong choice for Obama. Noting that Obama did not merely want a "yes man" Kos references this Obama quote, "I want somebody who is independent. Somebody who is able to say to me, 'you know what, Mr. President, I think you're wrong on this and here's why' and will give me (applause) who will help me think through major issues and consult with me, would be a key advisor." Joe Biden certainly does not seem to be one who would merely say "yes."

Finally, James P. Rubin argues that Joe Biden is the right man at the right time. According to Rubin, Biden's "foreign policy experience and wisdom are unmatched in American politics. There is no one in Congress who has been around as long, who understands the international realities better, or whose judgment has proven sounder than Joe Biden's."

Redemptive-Historical Sermons by Charles G. Dennison

Posted by James Grant

Sometime about twelve years ago I came across the biblical theology of Geerhardus Vos and his influence on Westminster Theological Seminary. From that point, I discovered the importance of preaching Christ, something that often goes under the term "redemptive-historical" or "biblical-theological" preaching. For me, the central issue here is working the Christ-centered perspective out in the many areas of preaching. It is an understanding of the contours of redemptive history and its significance for preaching. One of the preachers that influenced me through that period of time was the late Charles G. Dennison, previously the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Dennison's sermons are similar to Vos's sermons in his little volume Grace and Glory (a must own book). By that I mean that I am not sure how much someone was able to grasp by sitting there under him, but I am sure glad I have had the opportunity to listen and re-listen to his sermons. So to my point: Northwest Theological Seminary continues to put Dennison's online. They recently added a new series on Calvinism, but I have provided each series below:
In my opinion, Charlie's sermons on Habakkuk open the book up in a way I had never considered. He influenced my interpretation of Habakkuk more than any book or article that I read while preaching through that prophet. If you are interested, you can hear the sermon that I preached on the whole book here.

NRO Editors on Obama's VP Pick

Posted by Andy Naselli

Published at 3 PM EST: "Candidate of Caution" by the National Review Online editors. They conclude,
As for the substance, Biden is a typical liberal who has no claim to post-partisanship. He is pro-choice, having flipped from being pro-life in the 1980s. He has opposed — often in cringe-makingly buffoonish performances — constitutionalist nominees to the Supreme Court. His vaunted foreign-policy judgment is seriously flawed. Although he was not as irresponsible as other Democrats in calling for an immediate pullout from Iraq, he opposed the surge and plugged for an unworkable plan to partition the country that was long ago overtaken by events, even though his office was saying as of only a week ago that he still supports it.

The cardinal rule of vice-presidential picks is: Do no harm. It remains to be seen if Biden will meet even this low standard.

Another Obama Article on Abortion

Posted by Andy Naselli

This Washington Times article by Jon Ward quotes Justin Taylor, Russell Moore, and Collin Hansen.

The WCC at 60

Posted by David Reimer

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the birth of the World Council of Churches. Founded as one of the results of the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference (and you can read some background and context to that conference in this essay by Kenneth Ross), it brought together a number of mainline Protestant churches in Amsterdam, 23 August 1948.

The WCC press release has a number of interesting resources, including a link near the bottom for an MP3 of the address delivered on the occasion by Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, which has to be a rarity.

T4A 2008

Posted by Andy Naselli

Dan Cruver explains who should attend the Together for Adoption conference on November 1, 2008 in Greenville, South Carolina:
Over the past few weeks a couple people have asked me this question, “Who should consider attending your conference?” . . . Our conference is for anyone who has been adopted. In other words, if you are a Christian we want you to consider attending Conference 2008.
He makes the case here.

Rowland Hill, Today's "Life" in the DNB

Posted by David Reimer

On Wednesday I posted a brief introduction to the open access resources of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Today's "Life of the Day" could be of interest to those who visit this blog.

Rowland Hill (1744–1833), "evangelical preacher", was a younger contemporary of Whitefield and the Wesleys. He was a fascinating character:
His theology meant that he was out of favour with the Methodists; his activities were regarded with suspicion by the Church of England authorities; and his temper led him to quarrel even with the countess of Huntingdon.
Aside from that, however, his later London ministry saw him involved in a wide range of activities at Surrey Chapel:
Surrey Chapel was the largest of its kind in London and could accommodate 3000 people. ... The chapel was the focus for Hill's missionary and philanthropic work. Attached to it were thirteen Sunday schools for over 3000 children (Hill was one of the earliest supporters of the movement in London). In addition there was a Dorcas Society for the relief of poor married women, an almshouse for poor women, and a school of industry for poor girls. On the River Thames, Hill was one of the promoters of a floating chapel. He supported the London Missionary Society and raised large sums of money on his preaching tours. ... While living in Gloucestershire he met Dr Edward Jenner, and Hill became a keen advocate of vaccination. He wrote a tract on the subject, in 1806 opened a clinic attached to Surrey Chapel, and personally vaccinated thousands of children.
The link to his brief biography will be available from the Lives of the Week page until August 29.

Friday, August 22, 2008

CT Interview with Donald Miller about the DNC

Posted by James Grant

Relevant Magazine founder and CEO Cameron Strang was going to pray at the Democratic National Convention, but decided this would not be in his best interest. Strang has been replaced with Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz. Miller will pray on Monday night at the DNC. Sarah Pulliam interviewed Miller about this event and his decision to participate.

A Real Apology

Posted by James Grant

The Point:
A regret is not an apology. Saying "mistakes were made" is not an apology. Joe Gibbs and family show us what a true apology is. As Chuck notes today on "BreakPoint":

Earlier this year NASCAR ordered one team to reduce the horsepower generated by its engines in an attempt to make races more competitive. That team had won more than half of the races this season.

Compliance with the order was determined by what is known as a "chassis dynamometer" test—or "dyno test" for short.

In the competitive world of auto racing, where money, prestige, and pride are always on the line, such an order does not go down very well. Mechanics and technicians who have spent countless hours perfecting their cars might resent this attempt to level the playing field. They might even put a kind of moral spin on the issue: It is "unfair," maybe even "un-American," to "punish" excellence in this way.

So it comes as no surprise that someone might try to disobey the order while appearing to be in compliance by fooling the dynamometer. And that is exactly what happened: During "chassis dyno" tests after a recent race in Michigan, NASCAR inspectors found that the team's mechanics had rigged the cars to appear as if they were in compliance when they were not. In other words, they cheated.

While the cheating is not surprising, the name of the team is: Joe Gibbs Racing. It is surprising because Gibbs is an outspoken Christian who has gone into prisons with me. I know Joe well and respect his character and integrity—they are unimpeachable.

That is why I was not surprised at what followed: While neither Joe nor his son J. D. had any clue as to what their employees were doing, they took "full responsibility" for their employees' actions.

Joe said that the incident "goes against everything we stand for as an organization." He added that "we will take full responsibility and accept any penalties NASCAR levies against us."

That's it: no evasion, no excuses, no spin.

Read more.

Barack Obama & Evan Bayh for 08?

Posted by James Grant

Alex Chediak:

This leak looks highly credible. I'm not a prophet, but I believe that Senator Evan Bayh has been selected as Barack Obama's running mate. KMBC out of Kansas City has announced:

KMBC's Micheal Mahoney reported that the company, which specializes in political literature, has been printing Obama-Bayh material. That's Bayh as in U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana. Word leaked out about the material as it was being printed up by Gill Studios of Lenexa. The Obama campaign had said it would make the announcement by text message on Friday.

Gill Studios, would not confirm information about the material. They would not deny it either. The company president would not comment when asked by Mahoney about the reports. But at least three sources close to the plant's operations reported the Obama-Bayh material was being produced.

UPDATE: Maybe it's Biden?

Download ESV Study Bible Intro Video in Quicktime Format

Posted by James Grant

The ESV Study Bible Blog:

A few people have asked to be able to download the five-minute ESV Study Bible intro video so they can show it to their churches. We’re happy to oblige–even tubivores sometimes need to download videos.

Download the video in “glorious Quicktime” (as they say). It’s 83 MB at 640×360 resolution. To download, right-click (Ctrl-click on a Mac) and choose “Save Link as…” or “Save Target As….”

Preaching Notes: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Posted by James Grant

Josh Harris is continuing his Preaching Notes series by highlighting Ray Ortlund, Jr. He asked Justin Taylor, who usually posts at this blog but is in England, to introduce him. Justin writes:

Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. is the pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville. For nine years he was Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois before becoming a pastor. Dr. Ortlund is the author of a number of books, including A Passion for God: Prayers and Meditations on the Book of Romans; God's Unfaithful Wife: A Biblical Theology of Spiritual Adultery; and Isaiah: God Saves Sinners in the Preach the Word commentary series. He also wrote the notes on Isaiah for the forthcoming ESV Study Bible.

Dr. Ortlund blogs at Christ Is Deeper Still, and you can also see his sermon transcripts online. His preaching models the mission statement for his church: "To experience and to spread felt union with Christ, glad love for one another and bold witness to our generation."
Go here to download Ortlund's notes.

Obama's Veep: The Short List?

Posted by James Grant

It looks like Obama is going to name his running mater today. An Associated Press writer says that the narrow list includes Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Gov. Kathleen Sabelius of Kansas, Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, and Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Evan Bayh of Indiana. Hillary is still an outside chance, and there are dark horses (which include Kerry, Pelosi, and Chris Dodd), but these choices are unlikely. I personally find it unbelievable that Obama's short list includes Gov. Kathleen Sabelius of Kansas. Sabelius is a pro-choice Catholic, and a strong and open supporter of pro-choice rights. She is the governor I wrote about back in May [here] who participated in fundraising events for Planned Parenthood. Robert Novak called her the "Vice President for Abortion." How would she ever end up on the short list? Doesn't Obama want to be president?

UPDATE: Hillary gets stiffed

McCain's Veep: Romney or Pawlenty

Posted by James Grant

The New York Times reports, "Senator John McCain has narrowed his list of potential running mates to a handful of candidates and appears unlikely to select anyone who supports abortion rights, several advisers close to his campaign said on Thursday. Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota are the top candidates as Mr. McCain and his advisers gather over the next several days at Mr. McCain’s cabin near Sedona..."

[HT: Alex Chadiak]

New Biblical Theology Blog by Alexander, Bird, Dempster, and Hamilton

Posted by Andy Naselli

Jim Hamilton:

Today marks the launch of a new biblical theology blog. I’ll be collaborating with Desi Alexander, Mike Bird, and Steve Dempster. Here’s the blog’s purpose: “For the glory of God, in service to the church, this blog exists to promote the study and discussion of biblical theology’s history, methodology, aims, achievements, developments, direction, and points of contact with other approaches to the study of the Bible.”

Other contributors may be added later, but for now we’ll be posting together at Biblical Theology. In the initial post the contributors are introduced: “Posting from Ireland, Scotland (by an Australian), Canada, and the United States, we are excited about the international character of this blog, and we hope it will serve you well. We seek to know God in Christ by the power of the Spirit as revealed in the Bible.”

Missions Mandate

Posted by Andy Naselli

This week a new ministry and its website launched: Missions Mandate. It is an organized outgrowth of this book:
David M. Doran with Pearson Johnson and Ben Eckman. For the Sake of His Name: Challenging a New Generation for World Missions. Allen Park, MI: Student Global Impact, 2002. 299 pp.
The book is very similar to John Piper's Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions. If you attended John MacArthur's Shepherds' Conference in 2006, then you should own For the Sake of His Name because it was one of the books given away that year.

Doctrine and Charisma: Grimshaw and Owen

Posted by David Reimer

It seems wrong somehow that the week should go by while Justin Taylor is at the John Owen Today conference in Cambridge without an "Owen" themed post. I ran across an article by Faith Cook in the current issue of Evangelicals Now which made a nice connection.

William Grimshaw of Haworth lived from 1708-1763, and September this year will mark the tercentenary of his birth. Grimshaw, himself a Cambridge graduate, was one of the "unsaved clergy" that had been the target of George Whitefield's preaching. "Unsaved", until a momentous turn of events. This is how Michael Haykin described it:
Visiting a friend in 1741, Grimshaw happened to see the book lying on a table. Seeing from the title on the spine that it was a theological work, he picked it up and turned to the title page. Then, a strange event happened: as he opened the book he felt “an uncommmon heat” flush his face. Thinking that the flash of heat must have come from a fire in the fireplace of the room, he turned towards it but realized that it was too far away to have caused the flash of heat. He opened the book again and experienced a second flash of heat. He took these flashes of heat to be signs that this book would be of special help to him. And so it proved.
The book he picked up was John Owen's The Doctrine of Justification by Faith.

For more about Grimshaw, you can read not only Faith Cook's article (linked above), but also her biography of Grimshaw. Paul Cook's article on Grimshaw appeared in the Banner of Truth magazine. And the article by Haykin that the quote was taken from can be found on this page (or you can download the PDF; the quote is on p. 5).

There are some interesting comparisons and contrasts in those accounts to current events in terms of doctrine and manifestation. Caveat lector!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Michael Horton: What Is Reformed Spirituality?

Posted by James Grant

Tullian Tchividjian:

Reformed people usually get charged with being doctrinal purists who are spiritually dry (hence the phrase “frozen chosen”). This charge depends, though, on one’s defintion of true spirituality. In the “Final Thoughts” column of the May/June edition of Modern Reformation magazine, Michael Horton describes Reformed spirituality by emphasizing that true spirituality is grounded first in what God has accomplished outside of us, not what he performs inside of us. “When we follow the opposite direction”, writes Horton, “we’re swimming upstream–against the current of God’s gracious condescension to sinners.” He explains:

Almost everything that is advocated as “spirituality” or “spiritual disciplines” today is private and focuses on the inner life of the individual, but Christianity is wildly, unashamedly, thoroughly public and focuses on Christ’s historical work and the way that he comes to us by his Spirit–not through private revelations or subjective experiences, but through ordinary human language (preaching), water (baptism), bread and wine (Lord’s Supper). God comes to us in Jesus Christ by his Spirit outside of our reason and experience. His visitation throws us off balance, surprising us instead of simply soothing us or confirming our piety.

So when someone asks us about our spirituality or piety, we typically talk about the public ministry of preaching and sacrament as well as prayer, Bible reading, catechism, and singing Psalms and hymns at home and at church. When the Westminster divines said that “God blesses the reading but especially the preaching of the Word as a means of grace,” they were highlighting this point. From a covenantal perspective, God works from the outside in, from that which God accomplished for us and outside of us to that which he performs within us and through us, from the public to the personal, from what has happened in the past to what is happening in the present. When we follow the opposite direction, we’re swimming upstream–against the current of God’s gracious condescension to sinners.