Sunday, January 30, 2011

On Reclaiming the Theology of Adoption

Fred Sanders at Evangel writes, "the beauty of the current surge of attention to adoption is that it doesn’t come with any temptation to choose between theology and practice. At its best, in church after church, it’s doing both."
Read his entire article on Reclaiming Adoption.

Best Open Letter Yet

An Open Letter from the Gospel-Driven Church by Jared Wilson to Ray Orlund, Jr.
Amen to that. We sure could use more of this type of Open Letter, ya'll.

Way to go Jared! Your insights are well appreciated once again, as I have learned much from your blog and your book. Praying that you keep up the God-honoring work that you do for His Kingdom.

Why Historical Questions Shouldn't Trouble Us

John Dickson (PhD, Ancient History, and senior minister of St Andrew’s Church Roseville in Sydney) offers this article at The Gospel Coalition, titled "The Christ Files: Why Historical Questions aren't Going Anywhere - And Shouldn't Trouble Us Anyway."

Excerpt from the final paragraph:
"The gospel places its head on the chopping block of public scrutiny and invites anyone who wishes to come and take a swing. The good news is that the more they “swing.” the more robust our message appears. We have pretty much exactly the sort of evidence you would expect to find if the core of the Jesus story is true and decidedly more evidence pointing in that direction than you would expect to find if the story were fabricated. The evidence is not probative; our skeptical friends still have plenty of wiggle room. But the “dent” in the historical record is significant enough for any fair-minded person to accept that, whatever its explanation and significance, the life of Jesus really looks as though it took place in much the way the Gospels say it did."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who is a Rebellious Child?

Tim Challies posted a poem yesterday called The Rebellious Child by John Bunyan, which I copied below. I couldn't help but wonder this morning: who ought we consider a "Rebellious Child?" Those rascally teenagers in our youth group? Perhaps those texting tweens in the back pew?

Well, this morning's service offered some excellent insight that we read from the fifth commandment of the Westminster Larger Cathecism. I thought I'd share it here:
"Question 123: Which is the fifth commandment?
Answer: The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God gives thee.
Question 124: Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?
Answer: By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God's ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth."
Taken in this light, the fifth commandment takes on a whole new level of conviction where I think we can all see how short we fall of God's glory in this regard. Here is Bunyan's poem:
Children become, while little, our delights!

When they grow bigger, they begin to fright’s.

Their sinful nature prompts them to rebel,

And to delight in paths that lead to hell.

Their parents’ love and care they overlook,

As if relation had them quite forsook.

They take the counsels of the wanton’s, rather

Than the most grave instructions of a father.

They reckon parents ought to do for them,

Though they the fifth commandment do contemn;

They snap and snarl if parents them control,

Though but in things most hurtful to the soul.

They reckon they are masters, and that we

Who parents are, should to them subject be!

If parents fain would have a hand in choosing,

The children have a heart will in refusing.

They’ll by wrong doings, under parents gather,

And say it is no sin to rob a father.

They’ll jostle parents out of place and power,

They’ll make themselves the head, and them devour.

How many children, by becoming head,

Have brought their parents to a piece of bread!

Thus they who, at the first, were parents joy,

Turn that to bitterness, themselves destroy.

But, wretched child, how canst thou thus requite

Thy aged parents, for that great delight

They took in thee, when thou, as helpless, lay

In their indulgent bosoms day by day?

Thy mother, long before she brought thee forth,

Took care thou shouldst want neither food nor cloth.

Thy father glad was at his very heart,

Had he to thee a portion to impart.

Comfort they promised themselves in thee,

But thou, it seems, to them a grief wilt be.

How oft, how willingly brake they their sleep,

If thou, their bantling, didst but winch or weep.

Their love to thee was such they could have giv’n,

That thou mightst live, almost their part of heav’n.

But now, behold how they rewarded are!

For their indulgent love and tender care;

All is forgot, this love he doth despise.

They brought this bird up to pick out their eyes.
Ouch. True, so true. Oh Lord! We are such rebellious creatures. Your word tells us that when we rebel in this way, causing fights and quarrels with evil motives, we are rebelling against Your law (James 4). Lord, I find myself doing this again and again with brothers and sisters in You, but more importantly with those "Mothers and Fathers" which have been given by Your ordinance. May this never be. Make our hearts new in this area and continue to sanctify us when it comes to this sin (especially in my life!).

And then we can turn to Your Word -- remembering and holding onto this:

2 Cor. 5: 15 "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Grace to You, Too.

A good word from Sojourns with Jesus on the "MacArthur/Patrick kerfluffle." I can use as many lessons as possible in charitable dealings with others in the body of Christ.

Even the best teachers make misjudgments and misspeak. We all have our own pet ideologies that get passionately defended at times, and then later we wish we had paused and prayerfully considered how we would verbalize our positions on an issue or perhaps even the other person. James knew about even the best teachers making mistakes in the use of their tongues, when he wrote:
James 3 Taming the Tongue: 1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check."
Now, if I were a Bible teacher, I probably couldn't go for an entire day before stumbling terribly with regard to the use of the tongue. But, here Dr. MacArthur has offered teaching and guidance for more that forty years at exceedingly high standards and with immense wisdom. The author at Sojourns asks that those who were offended by his comments about Dr. Patrick extend grace to Dr. MacArthur. He offers some excellent points for why doing so is the proper response, as opposed to responding in like manner with raging tongues on their blogs and in their comments.
As an aside, today's sermon was on 1 Cor. 12 - showing honor to the other members of the body. We need one another corporately to build the local church unto Christ, and we need one another universally to reach the lost by using our gifts --- and showing our unity in our federal Head, who is Christ Jesus.  We honor one another when we use our gifts together - as a body, united under Christ. This does not mean that we don't have differences! In fact, we must have them! Everyone cannot be the hand or the eye or the foot. We need each other to use our various gifts in the various acts of service of the church (locally and universally). An excellent and thought-provoking message for all of us today (especially me:).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Orlando for Memorial Weekend?

Wow! Looks like I may be headed for Orlando, FL during Memorial Weekend this year.
The line-up and conference theme for NEXT 2011 is right on track with my current obsession :) area of theological study interest.
Check out the speakers they've got lined up -- I can't imagine a better schedule than this one. (plus, I've got a relatively new Christian friend who is college aged, so.... what a match up!
Speakers include:
D.A. Carson
R.C. Sproul
Kevin DeYoung
Scott Oliphant
Jeff Purswell

Vern Poythress

And there are breakouts on topics of how to serve Christ in our areas of influence, everything from business, the arts, law, government, journalism, etc..

Finally, the icing on the cake. there will be concerts every night! Including music by two of my favorite bands: Reilly and, Shane and Shane.

Praying for the opportunity and means to go...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

All Truth is God's Truth

All Truth is God's Truth by R.C. Sproul I've copied the article in full, because it is that good.

Few books I have read have made a lasting impression on my mind and thought. One of them I read over fifty years ago. The title of the book was The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, and it made a lasting impression upon me because it clearly set forth the importance of understanding that all scientific theories presuppose certain philosophical premises. The philosophical premises that are the underpinning of scientific inquiry are often taken for granted and never given even a cursory exploration. But in a time when fierce debate rages between science and theology, it is important that we step back and ask questions about the pre-scientific theoretical foundations for the whole enterprise of knowledge.

The word science means “knowledge.” We tend to have a restricted view of the word as if knowledge only applies to the realm of empirical investigation. Besides material knowledge, we also have to take into account formal truth. In this regard we must consider mathematics as a genuine science, because math in its formal dimension yields real knowledge. In fact, if we look at the history of scientific progress, we see that the engine that has driven new breakthroughs and brought to bear new paradigms has more often than not been the engine of formal mathematics. But it is astonishing to see how frequently people engaged in material scientific research glibly pass over the philosophical presuppositions of their own work.

In Carl Sagan’s famous book entitled Cosmos, based on his television series of the same title, he makes the following statement: “Cosmos is a Greek word for the order of the universe. It is, in a way, the opposite of chaos. It implies the deep interconnectedness of all things.” In this seemingly harmless definition of the entire structure of Sagan’s work, he assumes that the universe under investigation by science is a cosmos rather than a chaos. He speaks of cosmos “implying a deep interconnectedness of all things.” This is the grand presupposition of scientific inquiry, namely, that the universe we are seeking to know is coherent. There is an implied deep and profound interconnectedness of all things. The alternative to cosmos, as Sagan has indicated, is chaos. If the universe is at root chaotic, then the whole scientific enterprise collapses. If the universe is chaotic and disconnected, then no knowledge is possible at all. Even discreet bits of atomic data cannot be understood within the framework of utter chaos, so the presupposition of a coherent, rational order of all things is the screaming presupposition of scientists.

This idea of an assumed coherency has its roots in ancient philosophical inquiry. Ancient Greeks, for example, sought ultimate reality. They sought a foundational principle for unity that would make sense out of diversity. This ultimate unity is what the science of theology provides. The science of theology provides the necessary presupposition for modern science. This is precisely the point that led prominent philosopher Antony Flew to his conversion from atheism to deism — namely, the essential necessity of a coherent foundation to reality to make any knowledge possible. This ultimate coherency cannot be provided by the contingency of this world. It requires a transcendent order.

In the Middle Ages, a crisis ensued in the realm of philosophy with the revival of what Muslim thinkers called “integral Aristotelianism.” In their attempt to achieve a synthesis between Aristotelian philosophy and Muslim theology, these thinkers produced a concept called the “double-truth theory.” The double-truth theory argued that what was true in religion could be false in science, and what was true in science could at the same time be false in religion. To translate that into contemporary categories, it would go something like this: As a Christian, one could believe that the universe came into being through the purposive act of a divine Creator while at the same time believing that the universe emerged gratuitously as a cosmic accident. These two truths examined by logic would appear to be contradictory. Nevertheless, the double-truth theory would say that truth is contradictory, and one could hold these contradictory ideas at the same time. This kind of intellectual schizophrenia rules the day in our own time where people think that God had nothing to do with the formation of the cosmos from Monday to Saturday only to become creationists on Sunday, failing to see that the two concepts are utterly irreconcilable.

At this point, the question is raised, “Well, does logic really count in our attempt to understand reality?” Again, if we’re going to assume coherency and cosmos, logic has to count not just for something but for everything. Thomas Aquinas responded to the Aristotelianism of the medieval Muslim philosophers by replacing double truths with the concept of mixed articles, distinguishing nature and grace (not dividing them, as many of his critics allege). Aquinas said that there are certain truths that can be known through special revelation that are not discerned from investigation of the natural world, while at the same time there are certain truths learned from the study of nature that are not found, for example, in the Bible. One does not find the circulatory system of the human body clearly set forth in Scripture. What Aquinas was saying was that there are certain truths that are mixed articles, truths that can be known either from the Bible or by a study of nature. Among those mixed articles, he included the knowledge of the existence of a Creator.

The fundamental point, of course, that Aquinas was arguing, in agreement with his famous predecessor, Augustine, was that all truth is God’s truth, and that all truth meets at the top. If science contradicts religion, or if religion contradicts science, at least one of them must be wrong. There have been times in history where the scientific community has corrected not the Bible but poor interpretations of the Bible, as we saw in the Galileo scandal. On the other hand, biblical revelation can act as intellectual brakes upon scientific theories that are groundless. In any case, if knowledge is possible, what Sagan assumed must continue to be assumed — namely, that for truth to be known, for science to be possible, there must be a coherent reality that we are seeking to know.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Like Bearing One Another's Burdens

An 8-year-old girl is about to suffer a moment of extreme embarrassment (at about 1:50) that's not of her creation, when a woman in the crowd cackles loudly. You then hear someone "shoosh" her during the brief silence. Finally, the crowd picks up the tune in unison and finishes it out for everyone in attendence.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Some Brief Thoughts on Presuppositionalism

A great paper by Dr. Richard Howe
Punchline 1: "Presuppositionalists mistakenly assume that to have the argument first in the order of knowing is to tacitly deny that God is first in the order of being. It does not."
Punchline 2: "the presuppositionalist seems to confuse knowing something truly and knowing something exhaustively.
Punchline 3: Bahnsen denies Sproul the ability to use logic antecedently, yet goes onto do so himself categorically.
Punchline 4: "Van Til and Bahnsen are assuming that a worldview and its contrary cannot both be false..."
What this amounts to is that the only thing that the transcendental argument gives us epistemologically is 1) the transcendental necessity of logic and 2) a path to general theism (not Christian Trinitarian theism, which is no different than the goal of classical apologetics).

bonus paper: Is Knowledge Perception?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Case for God

R.C. Sproul gives an excellent talk on his classical approach to apologetics. Straightforward and reasonable. Highly recommended. Here's the link.