Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Limited Atonement Debate on Debate Blog

Frank Turk is debating a Lutheran Pastor on whether one's view of the extent of the atonement changes the Gospel.

Phil Johnson gave a message on the nature of the Atonement at The Shepherd's Conference a bouple of years back. Here is the link to the audio, and here is the outline.

I also appreciated Rebecca Stark's post from a few years ago. I liked her analogy to some people's "transactional approach" to the atonement. Her post also provides a few links to other blogs which have dealt with the issue.

The question that I'd like the answer to from anyone who rejects a view that the atonement is limited is this: if all the sin in the world is atoned for, then on what basis does God condemn sinners?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Scandal of the Gospel

In these days of almost perpetually recurring scandals, it's good to remember that the biggest scandal of all is the scandal of the Gospel, which punishes God for man's sin, and sets sinners free. The Gospel changes men, and it is the only way that men can truly change.

That's what this post reminded me of. Thanks, Carla.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Here's a Little Job Hunting Tip

A public service announcement from this blog...

If you're going to go to the trouble of signing up for Jobs.com to get new job listings, you should make sure you use the right e-mail address, and not one belonging to someone else. Otherwise, your job listings will go to them instead of you, making me them mad and you still unemployed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Thoughts on "The Cult of Done"

Charlie mentioned The Cult of Done Manifesto recently, and his post does a good job of framing that philosophy as it applies to his work and life. As I've thought about how it might apply to me, I've come to the conclusion that there are places where it would work well, and places where it probably shouldn't be used.

I think that the approach would work well in areas where there is more than one right way of accomplishing a task. Writing comes to mind immediately - things like blogging & writing stories. NaNoWriMo was an extreme exercise in "getting it done." For me, an approach like this would lessen or eliminate those posts which seem to be in perpetual edit mode.

But I can't imagine a medical doctor pretending to know what he or she is doing, because "pretending to know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing. Nor would I anticipate very many successful medical practitioners adopting the approach that "failure counts...so do mistakes." Similarly, for the work I do - appraising a property, arriving at an opinion of value, and then reporting that value in a proper manner - this approach probably wouldn't work well.

That said, there are times when I've used elements of that approach within my job. The notion of setting aside the idea that there will be a finished product and just getting things down, for example, has come in handy several times when I've hit a certain point where I am stuck.

Like so many things in life, it seems there are two extremes. The two extremes to avoid here are working so hard to achieve perfection that you never accomplish your goal, and cutting so many corners to get finished that your final product is worthless. Each of us will tend to one extreme or the other, depending on our personality and what we're doing. Avoiding these two things will allow us to be both more productive and more pleased with the outcome of our labors.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Battling With Unbelief

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9, ESV)

"Question everything" seems to be the keystone of the modern manifesto. You see the attitude (if not the actual phraseology) all around us. This is the era of the "noble skeptic," where the one who doubts is exalted above the one who believes.

There is probably room for a discussion of the interplay between doubt and unbelief, but I'm going to limit the current discussion to unbelief. It occurred to me recently that many of the problems people face with God can be boiled down to this simple premise of unbelief. "Did God really say..." was good enough for the snake in the Garden, and it has been dogging the human race ever since.

The companion to this is the negative side of the notion alluded to in the Bible quotation above. God hasn't punished me yet, therefore He is either a) incapable of doing so; b) indifferent to doing so, or c) unwilling to do so.

Part of our Scripture passage today was the parable in Luke 20:9-18. It centers around tenants who will not acknowledge the owner's authority over them - a message from Jesus to the Pharisees and Scribes. The lunacy of their thinking is made clear by verse 14, where after they see the landowner's son they say to themselves "This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours." They are completely deceived, both about their own standing, and about the landowner's future reaction. "...What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others" (vs. 15-16). They didn't believe the landowner capable of taking the actions he did.

Whether people reject God's judgment of them based on the idea that "He doesn't exist, therefore I have nothing to fear," or "a loving God would never do this," the outcome is the same: they are wrong, and they will pay a heavy price for it.

That type of unbelief leads to greater sin, and the idea that "if God hasn't done anything to me yet, He never will." We talked about this briefly in Sunday School today, and one comment I thought particularly insightful was that although a person say this outright, it is still in their hearts, and by their actions it is evident that this is exactly what they think. I would surmise, although I haven't read it yet, that this was what Stephen Charnock was referring to in his treatise on "practical atheism."

For our own part as believers, if we believe that God will judge, we must act on that belief, and do everything we can to save others from their judgment.

And for those who question God in unbelief, consider the message of Scripture over and over: the wrath of God has not yet arrived, not because He is lacking in ability, but because He is kind and patient, and wanting everyone who will to repent. Even now, despite your blaspheming, your utter rejection of Him, He provides you with daily needs - air to breath, your heart beating, and all the rest. Even now, He still invites you to come. Consider what the punishment will be for the complete refusal to even acknowledge His goodness in providing everything down to the very basic needs.

Paul's call to the men of Athens still applies today: The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31, ESV)

Repent of unbelief, before it is too late.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Frank Turk

For those who don't know Frank Turk, or haven't had the opportunity to meet him in person, I'll just tell you that you're missing out. As much as you get from the web and his blogs, you just don't know the half of it.

We had lunch on Friday, and it was such a treat. It is a privilege to call him a friend.

The Counterfeiter's Tale - BBC Radio 4

Story about a Nazi plan to counterfeit British Sterling - as much as a third of the currency in circulation at the time. The British responded by fazing out everything above a 5 Pound note, a policy which continued until the 1960s.

Audio available on BBC's iPlayer until Friday, March 20th, 11:32am GMT.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Library at Alexandria - BBC Radio 4

Three scholars are interviewed about the Library in Alexandria. According to them, literary criticism, textual criticism, and the organization of knowledge into different topics were just some of the things which came out of the Library. Like most scholars, it sounded like there was more than a little conjecture included. Worth a listen nevertheless. (The website also includes some external links on the subject.)

Audio available on BBC's iPlayer until Thursday, March 19th, 9:47am GMT.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What Texting Owes to the Literary Enlightenment - BBC Radio 4

Haven't had a chance to listen to this one yet, but I'm intrigued by a perceived link between the 18th Century Romantics and modern day texters.

This has audio available on BBC's iPlayer until tomorrow, March 17th, 12:02pm GMT.

BookletCreator

I just remembered that I used this site in conjunction with PDFTK Building to make the Spurgeon sermon booklet. It reorders the pages in your PDF so that you can print it double-sided and make a booklet with it.

With tools like this, what you can accomplish is only limited by your imagination.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nifty Tool - PDFTK Builder

Every once in a while something comes along that is so cool and/or so useful that you just have to sit back and say, "wow."

PDFTK Builder is that tool for me. It is a pretty simple program. It allows you to rip apart PDFs into individual pages, and also reassemble them. You can set permissions and a whole host of other options from the rather easy to use graphical user interface. For someone who doesn't have (or want to pay for) Adobe Acrobat, it rocks.

I had used it in the past on a download from Google Books of a Spurgeon sermon collection to split out an individual sermon.

But it really came in handy this week when I needed to reproduce a report in PDF which had a combination of text and spreadsheet values that were printed out and collated by hand. I exported all of the material to PDF, separated it into individual pages, and then reassembled it just like the hard copy of the report. All without Acrobat.

It was the first time I had done something like this. I am certain that it won't be the last.

You can get it here. I downloaded the PortableApp version so that it would be standalone.