Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama, Soros, & Offshore drilling in Brazil

I opened my email this morning to yet another pass-around-the-internet-article about the nefarious scheming of the Democrats.  For some reason, I thought I'd check into this particular email to verify its claims of Obama wanting to give money to a Brazilian oil-company for off-shore drilling (!).  Said company was also connected to Soros.

I took a quick google of the email title and found a Wall Street Article covering part of it, here. (August, 2009 article).

I noticed that five hits below was a townhall.com blog (reputable conservative, mostly) with a link to Bloomberg with the Soro connection, here.

Although not a surprise for some (nor as earth-shattering as my research into the Iraqi war), with two internationally known news-sources publishing something this big, I knew I had some sembelenace of truth to rely on.

Now, the churches need to keep praying and preaching the Truth.  The Spirit is the only means to change such corruption (of the leaders and people) to repentance and faith in Christ

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sister-Presbyterian Regional Concerns

It is common that Presbyterian ministers and elders from different sister denominations fellowship with each other.  Such is the case with myself, Wes and Brian.  The latter two are members of a sister Presbytery that overlaps with mine.

We met about two years ago and hit it off well.  It was not simply a meshing of personalities, but a recognition of a common understanding and approach to the Christian life and doctrine as summarized in the Westminster Confession.

Presbytery meetings are normally (virtually always) open to the public.  The corporate decisions they make are public as well.  Thus, I never had a problem informing my friends about the goings on in my presbytery nor they about theirs.

This is such a case now.  A serious case. I cannot judge the details but the broad contours do not look good from my vantage point.  Pray that a proper and biblical resolution would be forthcoming.

Here is part of the report:

"I have not generally written on our Presbytery (Siouxlands) except to briefly report on its actions, but what happened at this last Presbytery meeting needs to be described publicly. I went to Presbytery on Thursday mildly optimistic about what would happen. I was disappointed.

After nearly two years of attempting to get the Presbytery to deal with a man who claimed to me that he is in basic agreement with Federal Vision theology, the Presbytery has still not dealt decisively with the matter. I asked for the original investigation nearly two years ago. The Presbytery refused. I complained. The Presbytery refused. I complained to the General Assembly. The General Assembly sustained my complaint. The Presbytery decided to investigate. The committee came back 4-2 saying that there was a strong presumption of guilt. The Presbytery rejected the committee report by a 24-13 margin. I, along with others, complained. The Presbytery repented of being too hasty in its rejection of the committee report, and erected a new committee.

We were concerned with statements such as:

In baptism we are given new life. John 3 – unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. The fulfillment of God’s promises is applied individually in baptism (Committee Report, p. 24).

The Bible consistently presents apostates as moving through three stages, with their final end worse than the beginning. We begin as being spiritual dead in our sin, our trespasses, without hope and without God in the world. But we are then made alive in a sense in Christ and experience the blessings within the context of God’s Church, God’s people. Finally, apostates are those who forsake the Lord of the covenant and lose those blessings (Ibid., 17).

[W]e do acknowledge that there is a difference between those who persevere to the end and the grace they receive and those for a while taste, are illumined, and walk with God. Saul is an example here. There is a difference between Saul and David, and that difference is God’s gracious preserving of David and granting him the grace to repent where Saul did not repent. Whatever grace reprobate covenant members receive is qualified by their lack of perseverance. The qualitative difference, however, is not in view in these passages. It is only manifest over a lifetime. It is not a distinction for us to meditate upon (Ibid., p. 19).

Thus, something like the question, "Are you, or am I, truly a Christian?" is never asked in Scripture. If you come to the font and have water poured, dipped, or if you’re immersed in it, you’re a Christian (Ibid., p. 62).


That new committee was to report at this meeting. They did so. They unanimously recommended that the Presbytery find a strong presumption of guilt. The Presbytery then decided to postpone consideration of this second committee's report until September.

The Teaching Elder who was investigated requested to be "instructed." So, the Presbytery recommended that a committee be formed to instruct him. One hitch. They said that all of those who would "instruct him" would have to be approved by the very Teaching Elder who was being investigated."

(More here).
(Here is an alternate description)

"I Thought I Was in the OPC!"

"In the past when TE Wes White and I have brought a report and asked for a judicial investigation, there were howls of protest ascending to the heavens....One presbyter said "I thought I woke up in the OPC!"

I suppose as an OPC minister I should take that exclamation as an insult, but I'm inclined to think of it as a backhanded compliment.

But the point of this posting is to bring some regional Presbyterian news form a sister denomination. In this case, a friend of mine, Brian, writes about some public events that we ought to be aware of.  Naturally, if someone has an alternate view of objective and public facts they are more than welcome to write about it.

Having none before me, I will give a taste of this public eye-witness account:

"Since we spent a lot of time in executive session, there are lots of things I can't tell you. That's okay, because I want to tell you about what I didn't hear when my case was discussed."

"...Now, I am not in the least perturbed by all of this. I know that some of my supporters refrained from defending me or speaking against the proceedings because I told them that I didn't care if I was investigated. I think judicial investigations are fine and good. I am not threatened by them in the least. I didn't do anything wrong. I did some things that some don't like. I did some things that some don't think are right, but they are mistaken. My conscience is clear. And if a fair and competent investigation can convince me that I did do something wrong, I will repent."

[Now here is a man and an attitude worthy of respect!]

(More here).
(For the broader events, here)

Malachi 4:6 & the Revival of Homeschooling

“Home educators, almost by definition, have turned their heart to their children [Mal. 4.6]… So, there’s been a revival that’s taking place in the heart of these homeschool families..."--Doug Phillips, 2006

"More and more parents are beginning to teach their children at home. God is beginning to “restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6).... Homeschooling is a spiritual revival." (The Heart of Homeschooling, 2006)

What are we to make of these assertions?

In another posting I critiqued the idea that homeschooling is a revival. This posting builds upon that critique by examining the supposed biblical foundation. If the above statements are true, then woe unto him who stands in God's way! However, if the above quotes are an egregious handling of God’s Holy Word, then what?

First of all, I will, in the spirit of Malachi 4:6 & the Fifth Commandment, quote my spiritual forefathers: Calvin, Henry, Keil/Delitzsch and Jamieson/Fausset and Brown. They all exegete Malachi 4:6 in a similar vein:

"6...Explained by some, that John's preaching should restore harmony in families. But Luk 1:16, 17 substitutes for "the heart of the children to the fathers," "the disobedient to the wisdom of the just," implying that the reconciliation to be effected was that between the unbelieving disobedient children and the believing ancestors, Jacob, Levi, "Moses," and "Elijah" (just mentioned) (compare Mal 1:2 2:4, 6 3:3, 4 )."--Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, Commentary

A good exegete will consider the immediate context, the book context and the overall Biblical context. Anyone can quote a verse and repeat it until everyone is convinced. Jamieson does something better: he points to book-level context and Bible-wide context. Malachi on two other occasions mentions other spiritual fathers in contrast to his present wicked generation of "sons". Mal. 1:2 contrasts the faithful spiritual seed of Jacob with the ungodly spiritual seed of Esau. Mal. 2:4, 6 & 3:4 contrasts the faithful seed of Levi with the ungodly seed of then-present priesthood. Malachi 4:6 continues this contrast, that God would turn the hearts of the unfaithful sons in line with the spiritual path of their fathers.

Second, quoting Luke 1:16ff. settles the question:

Luke 1:16, 17 "And he [John the Baptist] will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (NKJV)

Verse sixteen is the ground-motive of these verses: to turn the children (sons) of Israel to their God (Father)! Salvation is the issue. Also, note how the New Testament does not quote the OT word for word but interprets it for the reader: John the Baptist will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children "and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just..." The symmetry points to the fathers as 'just' and the sons as 'disobedient'. Of course, there are biological blessings; entire households were saved in the NT (cp. Henry). Yet, individuals were saved as well. At root this blessing, as with so much of the Bible, is spiritual.

Ask this: was Malachi thinking of homeschooling or family-integrated churches or any other method-based movement? Is this how John was to "make ready a people prepared for the Lord"? A serious reading of the life of John demonstrates that his primary purpose was to preach repentance: to turn the children of Israel to God--to bring salvation not homeschooling! Are these leaders preaching repentance to homeschoolers?

Third, Elijah--John the Baptist (Mat.11:14)--is the agent of God changing hearts. And this prophet is a man with an ordained office from God. God used an ordained church-officer to bring about this revival. I have never read or heard any homeschool leader assert as much—except that by their actions they are the ones leading this revival! Some of these men are ministers. That is good. But their articles and speeches are clearly not done in the context of being a minister. They announce themselves as concerned fathers. It is not the fathers that turn the hearts of the children, but the Spirit working through the ministry of the Word. Faithful ministers are used of God—as a rule—to bring revival. A cursory glance at the history of revival demonstrates as much.

Fourthly, with such unqualified claims of revival, where does that leave churches that are not homeschooling en masse or eradicating Sunday schools in toto? Or to put it in more personal terms, what about godly men and women who lose their families because they stand upon the truth of God’s word? They gently tell their nominally Christian spouse that they must follow God by attending a faithful church--the husband by leading the family. Then their wives rebel, leave or torment them. Then what? Is there no revival there? Is the Spirit not moving in the hearts of the fathers? Must all revivals (or only this one!) involve peace and growth in the biological family? What does Christ say?

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' " (Mat. 10:34)

In fact, Christ defined a 'father' and 'son' in their most fundamentally spiritual sense:

" Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother. (Mat. 12:48)

Once this verse is thrown into the mix, the simplistic and dangerous interpretation of Malachi 4:6 becomes apparent. It is simplistic because it is only part of the truth, rooted in biology instead of spirituality. And it is spiritually dangerous to announce to people that they are blessed of God when they are under his judgment.

Judgment? Hosea 4:6 warns us that God's people were destroyed for a lack of knowledge--a lack of right thinking and right actions.

Half of the homeschoolers polled believed in salvation by good works! Only 15% were Evangelical anyway--an Evangelicalism so vaguely defined by Barna that orthodox Trinitarianism is not even mentioned! It gets worse: 57% of Evangelicals polled by the Pew Foundation believe that there are other ways to heaven outside of Christ. And high-percentages of born-again believers contend that they have obeyed vast portions of God's Law! Do these numbers reflect a blessing or a curse?

To apply this verse today without a clear understanding of the text itself, its direct application to the NT era and knowledge of American whole-sale ignorance is hazardous.

There is a correct and wholesome application of Malachi 4:6 today. It is a heartfelt prayer that God would raise up Elijahs in our midst to preach repentance, to turn the hearts of the dead American church to the heart of God.

Soli Deo Gloria

Saturday, January 23, 2010

VI. Means of Grace: What Exactly Is a Sacrament?

VI. Understanding the Means of Grace: What Exactly Is a Sacrament?

The first thing I thought when I first heard the word 'sacrament' come out of the mouth of a Presbyterian was "Roman Catholic"! I suspect I am not the last. However, simply reading the writings of the Reformed readily dispel any such notions. In the first place, the Romish church understands the sacraments as mechanical means of obtaining grace; explicit faith is not a requisite. Pull the lever and out comes more infused grace.

In contrast, question 91 of the Shorter Catechism asks how the sacraments function: "The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them;[1] but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them."

Thus, any mechanistic view of the sacraments are precluded before the Catechism even defines them! Romish sacerdotalism is ruled out.

But, then, what is a sacrament? The Shorter Catechism summarizes the Biblical doctrine of the sacraments thusly:

A92: A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented,[1] sealed, and applied to believers.[2]
1. Gen. 17:10 2. Rom. 4:11

It is "sensible"-pertaining to the senses of sight, touch, feel and taste; it is a sign-representing outwardly those inward realities. And it is more than a sign. To stop here is to endorse "memorialism," a view that rejects the sealing aspect of the sacraments and emphasizes the human-response element. (Many Christians do not realize that God is present in worship with His Word. There is an objective dimension, not simply a human side only. )

However, if it is granted that the Older Testament was the church in infancy (Gal. 4:1ff.), with a body of spiritual truths to imitate (1 Cor. 10:1ff.), then Paul's contention that circumcision was a "seal of the righteousness of the faith" that Abraham had before he was circumcised (Rom. 4:11) demonstrates that the sacraments of the New Testament are for substance the same as the Old (I Cor. 10:1-4; Rom. 4:11; Col. 2:11-12; cp. WCF 27:5). They were signs and seals for the saints of Old as well as the New; the outward trappings have simply changed.

In short, they are instruments-means-used by God to seal our faith. They help us grow in the Spirit. Our Creator-Father made us with a body. So, simply from the creation account alone we should understand that material things are not wrong in and of themselves. And because of the weakness of our flesh, God uses simple and despised means to strengthen our faith. Men mock preaching, for is it not mere sound-waves bouncing upon the ear? So, too, some Christians despise the sacraments as so much materialistic activity. Perhaps the fear is that to understand the sacraments as means of grace, as seals of redemption, is to follow the path to Rome.

Fear not. The Bible and any informed Presbyterian knows that the sacraments have no power in themselves. Faith is needed. Saving faith "is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word,[3] by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened" (WCF 14:1). The sacraments are not converting ordinances. They save no one. The Spirit especially uses the Word for that. Rather, the sacraments increase our weak faith. God stoops to our level and kindly draws us through audio and visual means. He is encouraging us, saying that He understands our frailties, our doubts.

They are not merely memorials; they are more. They are not merely signs; they are more. As a seal firmly confirms upon our conscience (1 Pet. 3:21) the truth of the content of the letter, so the sacraments confirm the truth of the Word. It is sometimes described as a hug or a kiss that shows "I-really-mean-it"-a token of that Communion already enjoyed through the Word.

"A college graduate receives a diploma to which an official seal is affixed. The seal is of benefit to the recipient, not the giver. The seal does not make the recipient an education person, however; it merely declares officially that the authorities so regard him. The message of Ahasuerus [Est. 3:12] was authentic without the seal; it actually was the king's decree. The seal was added to convince the king's subjects that the message really was his. It is so with the sacraments. Sacraments do not cause grace. Neither is grace dependent upon the sacraments. The sacrament is of benefit only to that man who is the receiver of grace. It is of benefit because it makes known, or declares, the salvation which the believer receives distinct from the sacrament. It is a confirming testimony to the believer concerning what he has received." [The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes, G. I. Williamson, p. 200ff.]


Means of Grace Series:
I.   What Are They?
II.  Passion for the Word
III. Benefits of the Word
IV. Power of God
V.  The Foolishness of God
VI. What is a Sacrament?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Gospel According to Obama

(Republished in honor of his first year)

There are times in an individual's life that their view of the Gospel shines forth. It is a time when the problem of life is clearly defined and when the solution is presented in no uncertain terms.

This was that time for Obama.

At the center of the American stage, with millions of viewers hanging on his very words, he had the opportunity in his acceptance speech of 2008 to define the issues and present the solution. And he did just that. The problem was presented more negatively, yet clearly. The Dream is slipping away from the grasps of hard-working Americans: job insecurity, unpaid bills, credit debt, lack of good education, etc. In contrast, Obama wants to see these things change:
We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage…We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president …The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great, a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight. (NY Times, transcript).
America's problem is not spiritual. The problem of America is economical. People need more economic opportunities to succeed: more education, more health care, more job security, etc. But the problem is not simply the economy, as the rest of his speech pointed out. The government bureaucracy is a problem as well. And it is politics-as-usual that is another block in the road of American Progress. There are so many problems (war, money, society), in fact, that America needs an all-encompassing change. It needs to return to her own primeval salvation: the American Promise: "Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility, that's the essence of America's promise"

America needs each other; America needs responsibility. America needs to pull herself up by her own bootstraps.


Obama's promise:
The American Promise was summarized in a more forthright manner at the beginning of the speech when he described his parent's hope: "a belief that in America their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to." Immediately he elaborates: "It is that promise that's always set this country apart, that through hard work and sacrifice each of us can pursue our individual dreams. but still come together as one American family."

That is the key to the dream of Obama. The Obama Promise is that any American can "achieve whatever he puts his mind to." In fact that is the American Promise. And it is a promise that is for both the individual American and America in the aggregate: all of us together can make our dreams come true.

Economic inequality will fail; political incompetence will cease; social ills will vanish and faith in ourselves will never fail.

Obama's "I wills":
"I will end…I will build...And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future." (p.5)

The American Promise is a promise of freedom, peace and a better future. It is heaven on earth. The sins of economic, political and social inequality will be eradicated and the tears of the disadvantaged will be wiped away.

And this will be almost single-handily accomplished by the DNC messiah: Barack Obama.
Well, it will be accomplished with the help of the American people, if they follow him to the promise land. He cannot do it alone. He's only human after all.

Obama's grace:
"But this, too, is part of America's promise, the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort." (p.5)

The Obama Promise—the American Promise—for the two are one and he desires we be one as they are one—is a promise of strength and grace. Grace is not the Promised Person that comes from eternity into time to grant forgiveness and regeneration, rather grace is the "promise of a democracy" wherein grace can be found by group-participation through our votes, decisions and will-power to achieve whatever we put our minds to.

And it is not because of America's wealth, military or education that she is great. "Instead, it is that American spirit, that American promise, that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend." (p.6)

Obama's faith:
It should be clear by now that Obama's gospel is a gospel of self-help, of self-effort and of collective redemption through voting. His faith is in himself and in his America--a faith in "what is unseen." Furthermore, not once did he mention repentance, God or Christ for that matter. Sin and redemption have been completely transformed into liberal talking points about politics, economics and society. If these are the American sins—inequality in all its forms—then redemption comes through changing the environment, exercising good-will and voting Democrat.

This faith in the American Promise—in America working out her own salvation—is shouted out to all who have hears to hear, when he arrogantly applies the Sacred Word to himself and America:

"At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America." (p.6)

Democracy is where Obama finds grace; the unseen potential of America to achieve whatever she seeks is where Obama places his faith. The Gospel according to Obama is an unfettered America united for the glory of man.



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

floccinaucinihilipilification

–noun
the estimation of something as valueless

The longest word in the English language?

(thanks to Pinky and the Brain)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Evangelicals' Top Moral Issues Evaluated

A recent poll of Evangelical leaders lists their top moral concerns. The National Association of Evangelicals conducts monthly polls among many denominational, university, publishing and missionary leaders.

This month revealed these leaders' top moral concerns: abortion, moral relativism and mistreatment of others nearly tied in importance.

What is more interesting than this list is what is missing: doctrine.

The concern of moral relativism from these leaders is more a concern about society in general and truth in the abstract.  As the article noted, NAE board member Carpenter said the problem is "a non-belief in Absolute Truth which permeates every other arena of our society."

If he meant to include the church in that sweeping declaration, then he is right on the money. And concern about abortion and mistreatment are certainly worthy of attention.  But doctrinal decline is a moral concern as well.

That is the missing element in many churches and leadership statement these days: believing in falsities about God is a moral issue.  And it is a violation of the first table of the Law. For to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, is to want to know Him more and not less.  It is to know Him in truth, to know who and what He is and is doing for us.

It is to follow the truth of the Bible where it leads.  And it leads to doctrine--that systematic teaching of the truth of God and His ways. Acts 2:42 reminds us today that is was not only fellowship and prayer that helped grow the church but doctrine as well.  In fact, how can one have open fellowship and intimate prayer based upon untruths?

To ask the question is to answer the question.

So, next time you hear about the moral woes of America, remember, doctrinal ignorance is a moral concern as well.  And a serious one at that.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

V. Means of Grace: The Foolishness of God

Preaching is highly prized among conservative Evangelicals--even if it may be questionable preaching. Ministers are know in Evangelicaldom by their preaching prowess, stupendous speaking and charismatic chats. In some ways this is a good thing, yet, I fear, in today's inbred entertainment mentality, many churches follow the man and not the message. They like a good speaker, not because of what he says as much as how he says it. His highly charged presentation, flashy outfits, well-timed sighs and bold presence entertain the masses. The flash,the glamor, the ambiance of the stage create an atmosphere readily molded to the visual generation than the audio-rational mentality of yesteryear.

In fact, do many conservatives even understand why preaching has been so highly valued in our past? Or do we just follow along out of blind traditionalism? In true Protestant fashion, we must ask: what says the Lord?

In 1 Corinthians chapter one, Paul begins this book with the famous diatribe against Christian tribalism (group pride): "Now I say this, that each of you says, " 'I am of Paul,' or 'I am of Apollos,' or 'I am of Cephas,' or 'I am of Christ.' " (v.12).

Paul is quite amazed that the Corinthians so quickly fell away. In remedy to such man-centeredness, Paul reminds them of the supremacy of the Word, specifically preaching:"For Christ did not send me to baptize [or give the Lord's Supper], but to preach the gospel..." He tells them that they should not look to the man but to the message. True, if he is preaching the message it will be reflected in the man, but the root of the matter is preaching.

And such preaching is not based upon clever manipulation of words or rhetorical flourish (as the Greek speakers were wont to do), but upon the power of the doctrine presented. It is a message that is foolish to those drowning in their sins: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing...."

Yet to we who are saved and being saved, it is the power of God! Gospel doctrine is power; biblical ignorance is impotence. Paul continues his reprimand by connecting the message with the method:

"...it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." It is not only the Gospel that is the power of God, it is specifically that Gospel as preached that the Spirit is pleased to use.

Naturally, being inspired, Paul was consistent in his presentation. In that other famous book, Romans, Paul again aligns preaching with salvation in chapter ten:

"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (v.14)

Of note is the fact that writing existed during Paul's time. Thus, the Spirit through Paul could have easily said: "And how shall they read without a reader?" It is the hearing, and, thus, the preaching, that is emphasized in these verses. That is why Paul quotes Isaiah in blessing the feet of the minister who brings the Good News through his speech (v.15). Paul concludes his line of reasoning just as he did in 1 Corinthians: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (v.17)

Again, latter in the Epistles, Paul ties the Spirit of truth with the message of truth:

"For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, *you welcomed it not as the word of men*, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe." (1 Thess. 2:13, emphasis added).

This is the foolishness of God that transforms lives, families and churches. This is the power of God! Paul is only echoing Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones: preach and if the Spirit pleases, he will raise up the dead bones and bring life! The Reformation began this way; the first and second Great Awakening began this way; and any future revival will begin this way. These passages are summarized in our catechism: "The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means [of salvation]..." (LCQ 155).

Preaching, in an age of sports, internet, television and other more entertaining mediums, is foolishness because it does not please the flesh, that old man. It takes work to sit still, more work to listen, and yet more work to listen intelligently and write notes! But if we take seriously these passages, we will be blessed, we will grow and we will persevere.

The means of grace, those tools used by the sovereign Spirit in His time and way, must begin with the Word. Nowhere else is Christ found. And Christ and His Words are our life. That is why four sections were used to expound the Scriptures as the foundation of the Christian faith and life. It all depends upon the Spirit, but for our part we must obey by reading the Word, inviting friends to hear the truth, and finding good, faithful preaching. Pray that we will.

[Next: What Are Sacraments?]

Means of Grace Series:
I.   What Are They?
II.  Passion for the Word
III. Benefits of the Word
IV. Power of God
V.  The Foolishness of God
VI. The Initiatory Rite

Friday, January 08, 2010

2009: Apologetic Year in Review

Now is a good time to summarize some useful articles in apologetics. These are the highlights of various articles I have written in the last few months covering the specific issues of apologetics and Christian theology. I hope they are challenging and helpful:


Apologetics Proper:

Apologetic Books for School
Some Tools of Apologetics
Basic Questions About Apologetics Answered


Apologetics in Action:

Pizza with the Atheist Club
Falsifying Scientific Pretension


Christian Doctrine:

Bible Denies Existence of Atheism
What's the Big Deal About Christmas?


Christian History:

October Revolution

Kentucky Judge Bypasses American Christian History


For more info: Articles organized by topic, here.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

PolyMathis: Year in Review, 2009

I thought about doing a year in review the last few years. Finally, after reading my fellow blogger's 2009 in review posting, I decided to go for it! (Hope he appreciates the free plug!)

2009 started out with a bang. I brought out my years-long research on home education to the public with Some Observations about Homeschooling and the Future of Homeschooling. Tired of all the misinformation about Christian education history being perpetuated in some homeschooling circles (and creating false expectations and false guilt), I simultaneously brought a new blog online, Christian Nurture.

This new blog raised some ruckus behind the scenes. Yet all the counter-claims and declamations never rose to a public refutation about my research of the true statistics of homeschooling nor my rebuttal of the amazing claim that homeschooling is a revival. To the surprise of many, I, too, was homeschooled and even defended home education.

This education theme continued with the five-part posting of a Very Short History of Christian Education (on both blogs). I also began an analysis of radical homeschooling and raised a number of eyebrows with a short comparison between some types of homeschooling and Rousseau. Some of these articles were posted on both blogs as well.

But that was not all. This was the Year of Calvinism. This six-part series was dedicated to all the Reformed work in the world, for their encouragement. Several other articles dedicated to this year-long theme, included famous American Calvinists--that surprised many--and a call for a Second Reformation. The church was challenged to focus on the basics instead of being detracted by the culture wars.

Although I tend to write about and for the church, I am never far from politics and a spiritual interpretation thereof. This goes doubly with the Gospel According to Obama. And I once again brought out a gem of religio-political history to shame the ignorance of our politicians.

In the midst of this increase in writing, we were waiting for our first child! This life-changing event was a God-sent. After 8 months of babyhood, we still stand in awe of the Lord's mercy.

Of course, these blogs do not reflect all the work of the ministry. My witnessing to atheists on the college campus prepared me for a surprising opportunity to write for a national news source as the Denver Christian Apologist.

This new position gave me an opportunity to defend the Calvinistic roots of America in an ambitious six-part series, October Revolution, reprinted in this blog. It also brought me closer to the New Atheism. So, I critiqued, God: The Failed Hypothesis, written by a local college professor.

Naturally, all this heavy writing can wear on the soul, so I throw in humor at times. Or even comment on the weather.

I ended the year with two critiques. One was requested by a reader, asking my opinion about a "Christian Education Manifesto". The other was a first-time critique of a public Reformed writer. I still have no idea what possessed him to write that article.

It's been a busy year and fatherhood increased that load. But it is a blessed load. And I hope and pray for more opportunities to spread the Gospel in the new year.