Monday, April 26, 2010

"Prophesying" Presbyterian Style

"In making 20th century comparisons we see some similarities between the Reformation Exercise and "Trials" or "Student Preaching" by seminarians today. But what fully ordained and perhaps aging Pastor today would welcome "censure" even by his peers, for his methods of study, preparation and delivery, and his doctrinal content?"

More here:
The "Exercise" in Early Presbyterianism

Friday, April 23, 2010

FV Friday: FV Attack Dogs

"My post "Conversation with an FV Minister" must have struck a chord because TE Lawrence's Session has attempted to bring me up on charges for it. I've written on the Federal Vision for a couple of months now, and I've actually been surprised that I've gotten so little response from Federal Visionists. Then, I publish supporting quotes for my conversation with an FV minister, and, all of a sudden, I have a bunch of Wilson's attack dogs yapping at my feet. I must have struck a chord.

"Here's why I think I struck a chord. I make the FV sound Roman Catholic. I think there's one reason why I'm able to do that. It's because the FV sounds Roman Catholic. It is a sacramentalist system very akin to that of Rome. That's why quite a few Federal Visionists have ended up in Rome or an Anglo-Catholic Church. Taylor Marshall, a Roman Catholic, has admitted the affinity between FV and Rome. I have also demonstrated the affinities here. I have heard story after story of those who have gone from FV to Episcopal/Anglican to Rome."
[continued here]

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hating God Means Hating Children

What underlines the entire abortion debate surrounding the new socialized health care bill?


When Christians recall the truth of Romans chapter one--that all mankind knows that God exists and exists as their Judge--we will readily grasp what abortion is all about.

Since men know God exists and men hate God--as Christ reminds us in John 7:7--it will come as no surprise that men will violate God's holy Law with zeal. And the murder of children is moving apace with zeal.

But how does murder of infants fit into this equation of men hating God?

Genesis 9:6 connects the image of God with the act of murder. It says, "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man."

Why should murderers be punished? God declares that such justice must occur because man is made in the image of God. An attack on man is an attack on God.

Murderers of adults and children alike should be executed because God created man in His image.

Thus the logic of Scripture is complete: all men know God exits; this knowledge is reflected in man as made in God's image. All men hate God; and that hate is demonstrated in his persistent sinning. And sometimes that sin is murder.

To murder infants in the womb is to attack God; it is a hatred of not only the infant but primarily of God the Judge.

Abortion is fundamentally about hating the Creator and Judge of the universe. And has consequences in society. To hate God is to hate men. And to hate children. Thus the spread of abortion.

If Christians are to correct this wrong by God's grace, we must pray to the Trinity to regenerate hateful hearts through the sovereign power of the Love of God--to preach the Law for conviction and the Gospel for conversion.

Anything less is a band-aid on a dead corpse.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Free Music

That's right--I like free as much as the next guy.

But I like free things that are also useful and high quality (such demands!).

And by God's grace, I have found two sources of free stuff that's useful and high quality.

For myself, I like good background music when I write. I could use my CD player in my computer but I like mixing things up (multi-CD player anyone?). So, for a while, I ripped most of my old tapes and a few CDs. But that takes time. Then you have to pick a number of MP3s for the mediaplayer to rotate through.

Ha! Why even do that much work when Pandora or Slacker Radio does it for free!

Slacker radio is streaming music based upon genre selection. All you need is a free account (give 'em your junk email address--you do have one, right? Use hotmail for that). And then you pick a station (based upon genre) or look up a song or artist and turn it into a "station". The songs will flow from similar artists and songs.

You are able to pause or skip the current song. You are given so many "skips" before you run out. You can also tag favorite songs or reject the bad ones. It has some visual ads and occasional audio ads too. [A PR from Slacker reminded me, "Once you have created a great station, you can share it via email, Facebook, or even embed the station on your website or blog."]

I ran across Pandora two years ago. And I have never looked back. It is based upon a Music Genome Project that organizes songs by 40 different characteristics. This means that its stations are not so much genre centered as organized by the greatest number of similar characteristics as defined by the Project.

Even so, I prefer Pandora over Slacker. It has fewer ads (I think) and you not only get to skip songs (a limited number of times of course!) you can bookmark the better ones, use them to create a new station or order them.

You can also mix stations (can't in Slacker). Or mix by genre. Or individually chose stations within a genre mix. You can delete stations if they start mixing in songs that detract from your original intent.

And as an added bonus...if you have Firefox you can add the Prism app.  This wonderfully amazing app (yes, I like it) can convert any website into an independent web-browser, with a desktop icon. I just double-click the shortcut on my desktop in Windows and up pops Pandora without having to open a new tab in Firefox. (It's also good for email or google calendar).

I think even non technophiles will enjoy these goodies.

FV Friday: Reply to the Joint FV Profession, Part 8

The Joint Federal Vision Profession, written by Douglas Wilson and signed by PCA Pastor Jeff Meyers, denies the historic Protestant distinction of law and Gospel. It says:

We deny that law and gospel should be considered as hermeneutics, or treated as such. We believe that any passage, whether indicative or imperative, can be heard by the faithful as good news, and that any passage, whether containing gospel promises or not, will be heard by the rebellious as intolerable demand. The fundamental division is not in the text, but rather in the human heart.

This is a blatant denial of the law/Gospel distinction. They do not believe it is in the text itself.

This denial of the Biblical distinction between law and Gospel is basic to the whole Federal Vision system. They believe that the law and Gospel are fundamentally the same. As Steve Schlissel said, "The law as God gave it is the Gospel" ("The Monroe Four Speak Out," pp. 1-2). This has also been confirmed by Doug Wilson:

When we say that all of God's word is perfect, converting the soul. When we don't divide it up into law and gospel, when we don't say law over here, gospel over there, when we say it's all gospel, it's all law, it's all good ("Visible and Invisible Church Revisited", p. 21).

Thus, there is no law/Gospel distinction except in the way that people may take the passages. It is not in Scripture itself, though they admit there's a difference between the Old and New Testaments.

The Reformed View [continued here]

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Faith healing" & Christianity

Sadly, a Wisconsin couple was charged with second-degree homicide in the death of their child. It was sad that a child with a treatable condition died and it was sad that the family was confused about healing.

Historically, the Christian church has never publicly endorsed so-called 'faith-healing' in her official documents (the Six Ecumenical Creeds and the Protestant Confessions of Faith). Although prayer is commanded, required and useful it was never understood to be a replacement for legitimate medical means. In fact, the leading scientists of the 1600s were Protestants and vaccines are encouraged by the likes of the Puritan leader Cotton Mather.

Unfortunately, many detractors of Christianity are unaware of these facts. With the American news source interested in what sells instead of what informs, such cases make headline news.

The Bible writes of medicine and physicians in a positive light. The writer of the Gospel of Luke was a physician (Colossians 4:14). In Christ's parable of the Good Samaritan, the one who rescued the hurt man used bandages and not 'faith-healing' (Luke 10:34). Yes, one should pray, but one should also use the means of health, even a "little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities" (Paul, 1 Timothy 5:23).

The Bible also writes of faith and healing. Yet the Christian understanding makes a distinction between the great extraordinary redemptive acts of the Bible-times and the ordinary redemptive salvation of today. During the the time of Christ for example, to have the very Son of God in the midst of His people is to invite miracles. And those miracles have a specific place of testifying the truthfulness of Christ and of the Bible (Acts 2:22). Now that Christ is risen in heaven and the Bible is complete the miracles that attested them are no longer needed.

Today Christians are called to faith in the Person and Work of Christ but not to any accompanying miracle. This is an ordinary time of ordinary means. And God works through ordinary means.

If such is the case, then Christians today should not expect miracles as a matter of course. They should not doubt their possible existence either (note how the news-media uses the word 'miracle' in many medical mysteries). Nor should they seek out leaders with supposed healing abilities. Prophecies have ceased, tongues are gone and so are miracle-workers (1 Corinthians 13:8).

It should be enough to know these historic beliefs in order to put this awful event into perspective: they are a tragic and misguided couple that ought to be pitied and not harassed.

Growing up environmental and Christian

I grew up environmentally active.  And never knew it.

I was taught to pick up trash. My parents even warned me they would stop the car and make me walk back to pick up any defenestrated trash (it never happened, because I believed them.).

I also walked everywhere. I mean everywhere: schools, friends' homes, stores and work. And then I got a bike and cycled everywhere. I even took the RTD to downtown Denver and walked the 16th Street Mall. I didn't get a car until my father suggested I get a job to buy a car to learn responsibility (reducing pollution).

I eventually purchased a used car (that's recycling done right) in my seventeenth year of life. And I paid in cash instead of credit (thus saving on needless paperwork).

In fact, being raised lower middle class (border-line poor) during the greedy eighties really hampered my childhood (or so I have been told). With no computer, big tv, stereo system or large home, my energy consumption and geographical footprint was minimal. And we recycled aluminum cans with a vengeance.

I was green before green was hip.

And I owe it to my Christian upbringing.

Specifically, my upbringing was not always explicitly Christian but it was informed by generations of Christian practice that still undergirded much American culture. Greed and excessive spending were frowned upon. Flaunting wealth (large houses) was a social taboo. And I was always to take care of other people's property and certainly God's property: the Earth.

Such residual Christian thinking is a sane bulwark between the excesses of laissez faire capitalism and guilt-ridden environmentalism. Man does not own the earth. It is not man's to raze nor man's to worship. The earth and all that is in it is God's.

Money, technology, houses and our bodies are owned by God. And accountable to God. Thus, there is an objective and immutable basis for a correct approach to environmentalism.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pet Diaries

Excerpts from The Dog’s Diary:

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from The Cat’s Diary:

Day 983 of my captivity…
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.
They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.
Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a ‘good little hunter’ I am.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of ‘allergies.’ I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow—but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously stupid.
The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now…

Friday, April 09, 2010

FV Friday: The Federal Vision Gospel

The Federal Vision Gospel

"The law as God gave it is the Gospel." Steve Schlissel

Read my critique of the Federal Vision's denial of the classic Protestant distinction of law and Gospel here.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Reformers Use of the Mosaic Law

Here is a facinating article in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History (1975). 

It is titled, “Moses and the Magistrate: A Study in the rise of Protestant Legalism”

Friday, April 02, 2010

FV Friday: Doug Wilson Denies Sola Fide?

Here is a post of a man who has reversed his view on Wilson.

Calvinism is back?

"Welcome to the austere – and increasingly embraced – message of Calvinism. Five centuries ago, John Calvin's teachings reconceived Christianity; midwifed Western ideas about capitalism, democracy, and religious liberty; and nursed the Puritan values that later cast the character of America.

"Today, his theology is making a surprising comeback, challenging the me-centered prosperity gospel of much of modern evangelicalism with a God-first immersion in Scripture. In an age of materialism and made-to-order religion, Calvinism's unmalleable doctrines and view of God as an all-powerful potentate who decides everything is winning over many Christians – especially the young."

[An interesting and useful article continued here]

FV Friday: Lies & the FV

Lies and the Federal Vision

This post is going to seem extremely over the top for many. We want to give people in the Church the judgment of charity and rightfully so.

However, we must be careful not to ignore evidence that there are significant problems. This is true in every case. It is especially true in regard to Federal Visionists.

Why is this the case? Because, in the view of at least one FV advocate, lying is a tool that you can use to defeat tyrants. This is what the Federal Visionista patriarch James Jordan teaches in his book Primeval Saints.

He writes on p. 86 of this book: [continued here]