Friday, March 31, 2006

Exploring the nature of the New Covenant

Before it dies off completely, drop by and read the discussion on Frank's blog about the nature of the new covenant. We've hit upon paedobaptism, & are now embarking on who is in the covenant. I'm trying to understand the correspondence between OT Israel & NT believers, as it relates to unbelievers in the covenant. I say there aren't any, but at least one person over there says there are.

What say you? Comment here or there.

"The Playboy Legacy"--from today's WSJ

Nice piece about the true legacy of Hugh Hefner.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

In lieu of a real post today...

...I'm going to refer you to some excellence elsewhere in the 'sphere.

You should read Sojourner on the fear of the Lord, and Doxo's two-part post on Bible study: How To Do It, and How Not To Do It.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Barna and the Church

In the comments of the previous entry (big blogs have a "meta," but us small fish just have "comments"), I was asked what exactly I meant by the last post.

Here it is: it was a sarcastic swipe at Barna over a comment he had allegedly made about the local church is becoming irrelevant.

I was probably too sarcastic. And I'll admit, I hadn't seen the quote first-hand, so I broke my own rule of viewing original sources before making comments.

But Barna and others seem to be purveying this notion that the local church is irrelevant, and somehow just a cultural thing, instead of a biblical institution. And I am concerned that this movement seems to be gaining ground.

For example, here is a link to a recent article from Time Magazine on the "simple church" which I think typifies what my concern is: that people can live a perfectly healthy & fulfilled life away from a local body of believers. It's not just a homegroup, or a subgroup of a local body, but this little gathering considers itself a church.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm sure a lot of what they are doing is a reaction to the excesses of the megachurch movement, and to the weak state of evangelical churches as a whole. However, the methods they are employing are just as unbiblical as the movements they are fleeing.

Don't take my word for it, though. Have a look at a simple church site.

Back to Barna. Here are two quotes from an excerpt of his new book, Revolution that exemplify this worrisome attitude:

"In the great awakenings of America’s history, the pattern was always the same: draw people into the local church for teaching and other experiences. In this new movement of God, the approach is the opposite: it entails drawing people away from reliance upon a local church into a deeper connection with and reliance upon God."

"I am not called to attend or join a church. I am called to be the Church."

Now there is probably a sense in which both of these are true, in context. But in a society of Lone Ranger Christians, these types of assertions seem more irresponsible than anything else. Barna at one time said he was on a mission to reform the church; it now seems that he's replaced that mission with a desire to simply discard it altogether.

The local church is not "beside the point;" it is the point. It is the church--the way the Bible mandates that we organize ourselves as believers.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Is this Barna's replacement for the Traditional Church? (from the - New Cellphone Services Put God on the Line: "Good News Holdings LLC, in partnership with Barna Group Ltd., a Ventura, Calif.-based provider of Christian data, recently launched FaithMobile, a cellphone service that offers scriptures, Christian ring tones, and one-minute-long inspirational videos to subscribers who sign up on its Web site. The service's advertising slogan: 'Have you talked to God today?' It is available in the U.S. on T-Mobile, Alltel and Cingular, selling for an additional $5.99 a month."

Saturday, March 25, 2006


We rented Capote last night, and it was marvelous--an incredible piece of filmmaking. Philip Seymour Hoffman was brilliant, as well as being particularly loathesome (at least in my mind).

If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it. Don't be put off by the "R" rating; the "intense violence" is less than what you see every week on CSI, and while there is some bad language, overall, they were pretty restrained, consistent with with the time period it was set in.

Friday, March 24, 2006

And now for something completely different...

I just wanted to take a moment and proclaim the Lord's graciousness to me with Greek over the last few weeks.

I have really been struggling, because I don't seem to have enough time to devote to it. Yet, I am so encouraged when I go and hear Dr. Zemek's encouragement and reminders that the point of this is to know God's word more deeply; that has truly been an encouragement.

I had my first test, and God's hand was certainly upon me, because I did much better than I deserved; moreover, I am actually starting to understand sentences (at least, the Greek equivalent of "see Spot run").

I loathe my laziness earlier in life, when I had the time to do this, and chose not to, but I hope and pray that God will make me strong in my weakness.

So, for Friday I say, praise God, and pray for me.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Orthodox Pharisees?

In the meta of the Pyro post Wright's Wrongs, Pastor Rod said this:
"Let me take a statement Jesus made about the Pharisees and change its context and application. (In other words, this is my point not his. I am simply alluding to his criticism of the religious elite of his day.)

“You keepers of the creeds and definers of the orthodox, you have found the narrow gate and made it even narrower, driving away those who would enter. It would be better for you to have never studied theology. There will be greater honor in the Kingdom for a simple-minded child who calls people to love Jesus than for you.”"

But why are those who hold to a set of propositional truths about the Gospel always equated to Pharisees? Aren't there true things about the Gospel and true things about Jesus that must be believed, or were the Beatles right when they sang Love is All You Need?

Didn't Jesus admonish the woman at the well that she should worship in spirit and in truth?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What Will Martyrdom Accomplish?

With all the discussion about the Abdul Rahman story (Cent's two cents is Classic Gospel, tone-deaf world), I'm wondering if we're really missing the point. Yes, human rights are important, but what about building God's Kingdom?

By God's providence, we're studying Hebrews 11 at church right now, and we're coming up on the place where the writer talks about all those in the "hall of faith" who sacrificed in order to receive a better resurrection (cf., Heb 11:32-38).

Also today (at my men's group), we talked about suffering (finishing up John Piper's book Desiring God. If you have time, take a look at it, and see if what's described there is not exactly the type of thing we're seeing in Afganistan.

Human rights are important, but God's kingdom is paramount. Heb. 11 tells us about all sorts of triumphs of faith, both those who overcame, and those who were overcome. Though we don't like to talk about it, and certainly don't desire it, part of how God builds His kingdom is through martyrs. But we can be thankful that there are believers around the world who are willing to "resist to the point of shedding blood" (Heb 12:4).

Would that we all would be that faithful in our own lives.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

In Defense of Right Belief

I'm in the midst of an interesting conversation with someone, who, among other things, wonders if an "orthodox belief in the Trinity" is needed in order to be saved, or if requiring that belief is akin to adding to the Scripture. Here is my (slightly edited) response.

I'm not trying to add doctrines to the Scripture, or require more of salvation than what's required. At the same time, I do think we need to know and understand certain things about God in order to be saved. I don't think we need to have complete or perfect understanding, but I question whether or not someone who knows little about God can truly have a relationship with Him. I also question whether someone who understands what the Bible teaches about God, if they willfully reject some facet of Him, can truly be in a relationship with God. I don't see this as "adding to Scripture." Rather, I see it as a necessary consequence of knowing God in the first place. Without knowledge of Him, how can we have a relationship with Him? (cf. Acts 17--the unknown god).

I should also add that this is not just a theoretical exercise; it's very practical to me. I have children, and I wrestle with how much they need to know & understand in order to be saved. I don't think they need perfect or complete understanding in order to be saved. But if they have knowledge of God and reject it, does it make sense to believe they are saved?

Again, I'm not trying to add lines where none exist. What I'm trying to say is, if there is a fundamental doctrine about the nature of God that someone rejects, can they still be rightly called a follower of God? My answer to that question (at this point, anyway) is no. I believe the Trinity is one of those doctrines, hence my questioning whether someone in that state is a believer. It's not about the Trinity, per se.

Finally, let me say that I think there is a difference between cautious questioning and open rejection. I don't think we should merely parrot others' beliefs about something. That said, if someone honestly rejects the God of the Scripture in any aspect, on what basis can they claim to have a relationship with Him?

The new Shepherd's Fellowship blog has a post by John MacArthur which has something to say about this issue of belief.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Is Anyone Else Worried About This?

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who is thinking along these lines.

I drafted a post awhile back where I said, in defense of Bush, that everyone who proposes political solutions is guilty of this. Whether it is Republicans and free markets, Democrats and education, or Libertarians and freedom from government, the underlying approach is flawed, because at its heart it operates on the assumption that people are inherently good. At its core, the problem is a spiritual one, not a political one, because we know from Scripture that people are inherently bad (the "steely Biblical realism" that Dan talks about).

But those other folks aren't in control right now; Bush is. So I hope and pray that he does recognize that liberation from a dictatorship without freedom from the slavery of sin will only take the country so far.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Philippians 1 paragraphed (by me)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Take the Paragraph Challenge

If you have some time, take
the challenge over at the ESV Bible Blog. Download the RTF document of the Philippians 1 text, and put in your own paragraphs. Then compare it to what they have.

This isn't just an exercise for fun--you can really learn something. In fact, that is precisely what Bill Mounce suggests to folks in his book Greek For the Rest of Us. If you read through the passage enough times to find the breaks yourself, you'll find that you can understand both the flow of the passage and the actual content better. Mounce is so convinced of this that he even goes so far as to say that if you're pressed for time in your preparation, do this (even if you're not able to do anything else).

By the way, you can get the text devoid of any additions (verse numbers, section headings, footnotes, etc.) either through a website (the ESV website will let you adjust your preferences, or you can use the Bible Gateway) or with a bible program, such as e-Sword(which have no paragraphs).

If I have time, I'm gonna try to do it, and post my results.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Charlie's New Look

Charlie--I love the new look. But no comments? C'mon, man! Also, can you post a verse so we can see the ESV plugin in action?

The Flyswatter & Osteen

The Calvinist Flyswatter is really starting to bug me. Pretty vicious attacks on folks like James White, and pretty much the same kind of anti-Calvinistic rhetoric the Caners were spewing on Tom Ascol's blog.

Anyway, in the midst of comments on a recent post, Bob Ross pops in and commends Joel Osteen. Then "Charles," the head swatter, Bob posts this quote about Osteen from Al Mohler's blog:
Mr. Osteen's statement is encouraging on several fronts. First, it is encouraging to know that the constituency of Joel Osteen Ministries was so upset about the interview. Second, Mr. Osteen's statement includes a clear and unambiguous affirmation of the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But here's where it gets really interesting: Charles says, "That probably won't set too well with some of the "Internut" gnat-strainers and nitpickers who seem to be out for Joel's blood, but we like what Dr. Mohler has said. It reaffirms our own evaluation of Joel and justifies our refusal to become one of the anti-Joel crowd simply over some peripheral differences."

Of course, context is king, and this one is wrenched so far out of context that if it was someone's neck you'd think you were watching The Exorcist.

The bottom line is, they've he has ignored what Mohler actually said in favor of a little blogbite that served their purpose.

Here is the comment I posted in response to comments on that post.
Charles, I think you're quoting Al Mohler out of context. To really understand his comments, you must start with his criticism of Osteen's appearance on Larry King, and then his comment the following day about Osteen's apology letter. Please notice the last sentence: Other concerns can wait for another day.

What other concerns? Well, for one thing, Osteen is preaching the prosperity gospel, not the real gospel. Even my six-year old daughter can tell the difference.

Ran across this post from Extreme Theology which is right on point: there is exactly no difference in what Joel Osteen is selling and what Tony Robbins is selling--except for maybe the cuss words.

Although Dr. Mohler only reads blogs that are higher on the TTLB chain than mine, I'm pretty sure I'm on safe ground when I assert that the differences he would have with Joel Osteen are by no means "peripheral."

By the way--I had the unfortunate opportunity to see Tony Robbins last year at a conference I went to for work. It was the most amazing piece of mass manipulation I have ever seen (of course, I've never seen John Edwards "the psychic" in person, so he may be trumped one day). The most helpful thing he said the entire morning was "you should spend more time with your family." I took his advice, walked out halfway through, and spent the rest of the afternoon with my wife.

Update: Charles corrected me. It was Bob Ross who pointed to Mohler. I've adjusted my comments accordingly, and posted an apology to Charles on his site. I post one here, too.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

This is How Rumors Get Started

Do you think Zondervan can really put me in touch with Spurgeon? Phil, have you tried this yet?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Word of Congratulations (JN) :)

A round of applause, please, for the Calvinist Flyswatter, who with a mere 500 words, has managed to annihilate the wickedness known as Calvinism, thus ending 400 years of wilderness wandering led by these wicked men.

It looks like his comments are monitored, because when I posted this to his blog, it didn't show up.

No matter. Will someone, anyone, tell me how his "exegesis" of this verse manages to decimate the concepts of irrisistable grace and unconditional election? I just can't even figure out why, given the verse that he quoted, and what he said afterward, he would think he's even made a dent in them.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Vladimir Kramnik vs. Deep Fritz

Vladimir Kramnik to challenge Deep Fritz for One Million Dollar prize.

Winner takes on the winner of the BugBlaster/Gummby matchup.

Tag, I'm it.

Carla tagged me, so here goes.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:20
2. Diamonds or pearls? Star sapphire is the only jewel I own. I'd rather choose pearls than diamonds, because there isn't as much expertise involved.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Pride & Predjudice, new version. Or maybe Narnia. I can't remember.
4. What is your favorite TV Show? That's like asking Carla what her favorite flavor of ice cream is.
5. What did you have for breakfast? Piece of chocolate cake.
6. What is your middle name? Brenton.
7. What is your favorite cuisine? Mexican.
8. What foods do you dislike? Anything from the sea.
9. Favorite Potato Chip? I'd rather have chips & salsa.
10. What is your favorite CD at the moment? CDs? They still make those?
11. What kind of car do you drive? 1993 Mazda 626.
12. Favorite sandwich? PB & Jelly or PB & Honey on toast. I make the best. Also, a Super Sicilian from McGurkees. You're making me hungry.
13. What characteristics do you despise? Pride.
14. What are your favorite clothes? Jeans & In-and-Out Burger t-shirts.
15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would you go? England, to visit my sis & bro-in-law.
16. What color are your eyes? Blue.
17. Favorite Brand of Clothes? I'm not a big brand kinda guy. My folks have a funny story about that, when I didn't have an Izod shirt like all the other kids in grade school. I pretty much go for fit.
18. Where do you want to retire to? I'm never retiring.
19. Favorite time of day? Who writes these things, anyway?
20. Where were you born? Phoenix, AZ.
21. Favorite sport to watch? High School wrestling, although we don't have it here.
22. Whom do you least expect to respond to your tag? If I tag him, Frank. Otherwise, ??
23. Person you expect to send it back first? Dunno.
24. Coke or Pepsi? Uh, Coke. Is this even a question?
25. Are you a morning person or night owl? More of the latter. But I'm getting old, so pretty soon I won't be much of either.
26. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with everyone? I'm going to Siloam, and I might see Frank while I'm there.
27. What did you want to be when you were little? Police officer.
28. What is your best childhood memory? One of the best: going out after church on Sunday to Sir George's buffet.
29. What are the different jobs you have had in your life? Blockbuster, then the job I have now (in various iterations). And no, I'm not gonna tell you what it is.
30. Nicknames: Gummby, Gummbo, Matty Gummpo, Hubba Bubba, Bubblelicious, Big Red. . .you get the picture.
31. Piercings? No.
32. Ever been to Africa? No.
33. Ever been toilet papering? Yeah. But I think we got worse than we gave. Had to give it up after Mom & Dad quit helping us clean up.
34. Been in a car accident? Yes, unfortunately.
35. Favorite day of the week? What day is it today?
36. Favorite restaurants? In Phoenix: McGurkees; in AR, Cancun; Anywhere: Chili's.
37. Favorite flower? Huh? How about, the one I pick for my wife.
38. Favorite flavor of ice cream? Jamoca Almond Fudge from Baskin Robbins, and Chubby Hubby from those lefty whackos.
39. How many times did you fail your driver's license? None.
40. Before this one, from whom did you get your last e-mail? BugBlaster.
41. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? We don't do the max credit card thing anymore. But it would probably be a bookstore.
42. Bedtime? Around 11pm. If I'm not blogging or chatting on #Pros. Those guys just never quit!
43. Who are you most curious about their responses to this questionnaire? Any that I read will be interesting.
44. Last person you went to dinner with?
45. What are you listening to right now? The sounds of commerce--phones ringing, people talking, keyboards tapping.
46. What is your favorite color? Blue.
47. How many tattoos do you have? None.
48. How many people are you sending this e-mail to? Blog.
49. What time did you finish this? See the post time below.

Darth Doxo
Pix (since he hasn't posted anything since the last time I tagged him).
Birthday Buggy
Ok, and Frank.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Belated Thank-you

Which is more of an overdue thank you, actually. Last Saturday I received a marvelous calendar from Miss Rebecca, after the requisite two weeks traveling over the border. It was a wonderfully thoughtful gift, and I want to say thanks.

Now, back to Greek. Lord willing, hope to post maybe once more before our trip to Siloam on Thursday.

Birthday Wishes!

Happy Birthday Buggy!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

OK All You Chess Geeks

Came across this link today, the Thinking Machine. It's an online chess engine. The cool part about it is the graphics by which it shows the computer's analysis.

Ah, if only one could integrate this into a Rebel, Shredder, or HIRARCS-type engine.

Thursday, March 02, 2006 - Digital Signals Spark Static From AM Radio

I've been watching this from a distance, and it's kind of interesting, if like radio.

My question is this: if you, as a smaller AM station, can't be picked up outside of a short range, what's the point? That's the beauty of having an AM station--you get range.

I'm not sure how I feel about digital AM radio, except that I don't plan on buying any new radios soon (except for maybe that really cheap Sony ICF-2003 I saw on eBay recently).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is always a sad reminder to me of the gulf there is between us and those of the Catholic faith. There is a person I work with that comes in with ashes on his forehead, and I'm reminded that he does not have a high priest who made a sacrifice once for all and then sat down at the right hand of God (Heb 10:12-14). Instead, he and other Catholics have a priest that still stands making daily sacrifices that can never take away sins.

Phil Johnson wrote about the flip side of this today--"evangelicals" embracing Romanism (among other things).