Nobody asked me

But I'm asking you:

[1] In the last 24 hours, Alpha and Omega Ministries was burgled and somebody stole James White's computer equipment. That is: his T5 and his PC Tablet (and apparently his iPod). While I am sure none of you did it, maybe you will run into a guy trying to sell a PC Tablet for cheap in the Phoenix area. I am sure the local police would love tips.

[2] More importantly, AOMin could sure use your help in replacing thoe stolen items. Insurance? Yes, I'm sure they have that, but deductables are the worst. Wander over to their donation page and give a little for the sake of reformed apologetics.

Thanks. Have a nice day.

"like ministry"

K: I was going to TeamPyro this one, but Thursday is Dan day at TeamPyro (somehow I get some Mondays and most Wednesday -- except on the Wednesdays everyone tacks onto my post because they think we're an episode of the Outer Limits or an argument against cessationism or something) and I just can't keep this one in any longer.

I dunno what made Phil think about the symmetry between the anti-intellectualism of the Emergents and the same in Fundamentalism, but I know exactly what made me think of it: interacting with both groups in close proximity in the last seven days.

I was reading an SBC tirade against Calvinism and the deemin likker, and this person started up on SBC bloggers who are not line-toers and tea-totallers and "bible-believing baptists" (such marvelous alliteration). The resounding note this person struck was the fact that he didn't have time to blog -- he was out knockin' on doors (apparently not selling Amway or Shaklee or the Book of Mormon, but F.A.I.T.H. evangelism -- between hunting vacations and the other things he does when he's not keeping office hours). To make sure the reader "got it", he made it clear that he had better things to do with his time -- like ministry.

You know: he doesn't buy t-shirts from my pawn shop. That doesn't hurt my feelings any. But it was an interesting attempt at sarcasm that sort of made me laugh -- like when you watch a kid try to be very angry with you and they spill out a malaprop in frustration.

Anyway, I've also been interacting with Matt over at From The Morning (because he thinks I'm a little sneaky), and in his meta I mentioned the specific dimness of Rhett Smith -- and Rhett Smith showed up! It's that cool? Well, Mr. Smith was very stern (as far as ECs get stern, anyway) about my referring to him (apparently I have violated the copyright of his name or something -- see: when he takes a shot at John Piper without first having a private conversation with him, it's all good, but when I mention his silly ideas in the meta of a widely-ignored blog, I'm a scoundrel), and in mentioning it he makes sure to also mention that he has better things to do with his time than debate with people who think he's wrong -- like ministry.

Isn't that strange? I mean -- surely he doesn't mean he's out doing the retail politics thing by knocking on doors and handing out tracts like the unnamed SBC pastor, does he? See: I thought that the Emergents had a corner on the new media -- like ministry in the blogosphere. I thought they at least "got" the idea that we can conduct ministry in cyberspace instead of only in the coffee shop or the punk rock concert or whatever.

I also thought that they had read the Bible -- they complain so much about not being understood and that they affirm the Bible and they "get" the Gospel and all that. But they apparently missed the part where Paul "reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath" (Acts 17:17; 18:4).

But there it is: the same sly inference that somehow blogging about error and being willing to stand up and defend one's point of view is somehow unacceptable -- from both the politically-rabid fundie and the trendy "culture" missionary (whom I will call the "indie" hereafter). Now, since these guys don't ever run in the same circles -- they'd rather be caught dead than be in the same place at the same time -- how is it possible that they both came up with such witty repartee? Coincidence?

Oh brother: if you believe that, let me see your wallet -- I think I left $20 in there and I need it back.

Pay attention, folks, because this is critically important to any continuing discussion on this blog. The reason both the fundie and the indie find the phrase "like ministry" so avant garde is that they both see argument the same way. That is: they see it as something to be avoided at all costs.

Now, why is that? Really, I think they both have the same problem at different stages of diagnosis. The fundie has the problem of rejecting all reasoning as inherently worldly and therefore sinful -- which is both extra-biblical (meaning "not found in the Bible" as opposed to "having extra Bible added") and being duped by rationalism's promise that it can replace God (not to mention that he has to get to those conclusions by ... reasoning them out). The indie has the problem in that he thinks arguments are mean and hateful and therefore sinful -- which is both extra-biblical (see above) and being duped by rationalism's claim that emotions are invalidators of the search for truth (even though, of course, he's validated by his positive vibes in this beautiful day in the neighborhood).

But the are indicative of their movements.

The Fundie thinks he's got truth nailed down -- because he's in the right denomination with the right men who will do anything for the sake of the truth (including, apparently, lie and assassinate the character of those who disagree with them). If the truth's nailed down, there's no room for argument, and the ham-handed "like ministry" snark-o-graph is his way of saying, "you're not worth arguing with".

The indie, on the other hand, doesn't want to nail the truth down -- because he's not really trying to set forth the truth: he's trying to make best buds and get people to hold hands and sing whatever the iPod video podcast equivalent of "Kumbaya Milord" is. And there's only really one reason to have an argument anyway: to set forth the truth. All other reasons pale in comparison. And thus the snark-o-licious "like ministry" is shorthand for "dude: that went out with Howard Jones (except, of course, for the classic 'No One Is To Blame') -- your arguments don't matter to me."

Two dead ends: one tactic. And it's funny, really: who knew they had so much in common? They should have lunch and compare notes -- maybe this time they can really give it to those dirty Calvinists and their stinking propositional affirmations and confessions.

There: I said it, and now you can call my blog a "hate site" along side Slice and the other places which think the EC is harming the body of Christ -- but make sure you mention that I also think wobbly Baptist political attacks against confessional Baptists are equally-dispicable. That way all the right people will be mad at me and I can have a clean conscience.

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Pawn Shop Update

The Homeboy Collection

Yes, I'm serious. If these go over big, we'll add based on requests -- John Owen, Hodge, Luther even. I might add Luther just because it will make people crazy. Especially Baptists.

...updated... Luther added ...
...updated again -- Warfield and Calvin added ...

Too good to pass up

I don't even have to comment on this one. Anyone who wants to comment on this can do so, but I've got nothing to say about it that isn't only half as funny as the article itself.

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What? Tuesday?

Ah, I forgot to make a post yesterday. Will you ever forgive me.

Anyway, in the meta from another post, a visitor who's calling himself "Isaiah" wanted to talk about the topic of mean-spirited TR bloggers. Since I am certainly one of those, I thought I'd give him a chance to make the front page. Here's the deal.

Isaiah said this at his own blog:

So despite the fact that many Fundamentalists would act like spiritual slaveholders by attempting to bind my conscience and the consciences of those I love with human commands, I must not allow them to make me hate them.
I admit I have lifted this quote out of context and have not linked back to Isaiah's blog. The reason is this: I want Isaiah to do a little work on this statement here in the meta to see what comes of it. Then the rest of you snarling hounds can do what you do best.

I think this will be a fine topic, and it will allow me to go about my business today without having to babysit you-all.

Other notes:
if iMonk can podcast, so can I -- but I need some tech assistance to get the feed working. If you know how to do this, e-mail me at the link in the sidebar.

I was reviewing the sales in the salesbar to the right, and guess what? You people buy more t-shirts than you do books -- and the books are cheaper than the shirts and junk. Now, don't get me wrong: a sale's a sale and all that. But are my t-shirts really that much more intriguing than the Dever book? Sheesh. I thought we were anti-anti-intellectuals around here even if we are not actually intellectuals. Now I find our we're actually pomos who wear slognaeering t-shirts.

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One entry found for unity.

Main Entry: uni·ty
Pronunciation: 'yü-n&-tE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
Etymology: Middle English unite, from Anglo-French unité, from Latin unitat-, unitas, from unus one -- more at ONE
It's been almost a year since we took the polling data and ignored Dave Armstrong, and let me admit that I have betrayed you, my readers. I stopped ignoring him this week, but it's all Phil's fault for mentioning ol' Dave in a TeamPyro post. See: I thought Dave was not not-interacting with “anti-catholics” again, and I went over to see what the hub-bub was about.

What I found was a discussion about how disunited Protestantism was, and how that's an affront to the statement Jesus made about unity, and of course some hoopla over some things Phil's Pulpit Live article (which is a reprint of old material) got (in Dave's words) wrong.

In the mix of things happening in Dave's meta, the matter of unity somehow continued to be the topic. In fact, I was chastised for not understanding what “unity” is (and therefore I am, apparently, unable to understand what “disunity” is), so I thought I'd do a little thinking out loud here at the blog for my own benefit and the benefit of you faithful readers who share my utter fascination with the English language. has 6 major headings under the noun “unity”, and we're going to think about them in reverse order.

6 capitalized : a 20th century American religious movement that emphasizes spiritual sources of health and prosperity
While I hesistate to say that anything in this discussion might be clear – especially without a magisterial decision on the matter – it seems clear to me that when DA and his current bevy of meta-readers use this word, they do not mean the abberant pseudo-religion of Unity. I could be wrong, but since the Pope doesn't belong to Unity, this is probably not their point.

Thus, the next definition:
5 : any of three principles of dramatic structure derived by French classicists from Aristotle's Poetics and requiring a play to have a single action represented as occurring in one place and within one day
I'm pretty sure DA and JPrejean aren't talking about French lit aesthetics, either, although I am sure they would have something absolutely rivetting to present on the subject. Maybe we'll have a seminar next year or something.

4 : a totality of related parts : an entity that is a complex or systematic whole
Seriously now: this one actually has some potential. They might actually be saying that Roman Catholicism has “unity” because it has a complex or systematic (I would argue for “and” not “or”) totality. It is an assembly of parts which all fit together, and therefore it has unity.

So for example, when Dave says, “Doctrinal contradiction of any sort is absolutely at odds with biblical teaching, which repeatedly urges unity and forbids divisions of any kind among Christians,” Dave may in fact be thinking that the Bible says unless every doctrine fits inside the “totality” of doctrine in “relation to” the rest of the parts, the doctrines which do not fit must be false. Keep in mind that the texts he's using to get there is John 17:22-23, Acts 4:32 and 2 Peter 2:1-2.

The really odd thing is that systematic theologies exist inside Protestantism. Charles Hodge wrote one; Robert Reymond has written one; Wayne Grudem has written one. So there is clearly at least one systematic understanding of the Christian faith from outside of the Catholic paradigm, and those systematic theologies have, by a long shot, more in common than not. So if the objection is that Protestants don't have a systematic understanding of the faith, that's just not true.

It is also possible that Dave means that we don't have “just one” systematic understanding of the faith – for example, there are some differences between Grudem and Hodge which cannot be resolved except to say that one of them must be wrong. In Dave's view, that's simply poison: you mean Grudem and Hodge do not agree to the efficacy and acceptable modes of baptism? Why – that's devastating! You cannot be in Christ if you don't have a systematic theology of baptism which can correctly outline every possible effect of baptism on the belief and on the church! You must be wrong! And disunited!

The problem with that view of what Dave is trying to say is that Dave doesn't think that it's the beliefs of the layman which is the measuring stick of unity or disunity. So if someone – as he has mentioned on his blog just recently – doesn't have the same view of the Eucharist as the Magisterium, that's not disunity but ignorance or rank disobedience and sin. If that's true, then the same ought to be true of the ranks in Protestantism. You know: Wayne Grudem is a guy with a Ph.D. – not a pastor. So his Systematics may be academically interesting, but they are not necessarily binding, and you can't actually judge all of Protestantism by the views of one layman, or even two or three laymen. Because laymen aren't the measuring stick, right?

But to get clarity on what Dave means, he takes that and applies it in this way: “Virtually nothing is more strongly and repeatedly condemned in the Bible than divisions, sectarianism, and denominationalism. The Bible teaches that there is one Church only, with one truth and one unified apostolic tradition.” So unity is not just about having one systematic reference point, but it is actually about having a “unified apostolic tradition” and also having “one Church only”, and also about being forbidden to have “divisions”.

So ultimately, Dave doesn't mean definition 4, it seems.

Let's try #3:

3 a : the quality or state of being made one : UNIFICATION b : a combination or ordering of parts in a literary or artistic production that constitutes a whole or promotes an undivided total effect; also : the resulting singleness of effect or symmetry and consistency of style and character
Ah, yes! Yes! “being made into one”, especially “the resulting singleness of effect”. I am certain I could not have said it better myself.

So having one leader, or one institution – that's unity! So for example if there is an Eastern Orthodox branch and a Roman branch there's ... not ... um ... there's not any, uh, there's a lot more unity than, say, in Baptist churches where we count every Baptist church as its own denomination because they technically have local polity and not a global corporate network. All those local Baptist churches are schismaniacs – joined together as they are to send out missionaries and form the largest relief organization in the world.

But priests who don't deny the Eucharist to practicing homosexuals are inside unity, professors who teach liberal doctrine from tenured positions in Catholic institutions are inside unity, and the various and sundry “apostolates” run by lay-Catholics which seem to have discovered they aren't all reading out of the same play book: all inside unity. Because there's only one Pope, after all, and that's what we mean when we are being made into one and have a resulting effect of singleness.

Yeah. Number 2:
2 a : a condition of harmony : ACCORD b : continuity without deviation or change (as in purpose or action)
I asked Dave a question about baby baptism on his blog, and he didn't answer it as of this writing, so we'll come back to this one. My question was, “Roughly speaking, what percent of, um, Catholics in the second century were baptized as infants? I'd settle for really rough percentages -- less than 10%, 20, 40, 60, 80, more than 90%, or 100%?” Given that today roughly 99% of all Catholics are baptized as babies (the other 1% are adult converts), the issue of continuity can be quickly reconciled based on this critical piece of faith in practice.

We'll come back to that one. Last but not least:
1 a : the quality or state of not being multiple : ONENESS b (1) : a definite amount taken as one or for which 1 is made to stand in calculation (2) : IDENTITY; ELEMENT
Well, I have to give them this one: there's only one person who – in all seriousness – can really lay claim to the Papacy today, and if the Papacy if the cornerstone of unity, then that's that. If there's no question that there was a Pope in the sense that today Benedict is a Pope back in the first 3 or 4 centuries of the faith, then it's all over.

But you just can't find a guy like that prior to Gelasius in 492-496. For example: how did Peter the Fuller take the see of Antioch as Bishop in ~470 if Simplicious was Pope the way Benedict is Pope? Why did Martyrius (the guy Peter deposed) go to Constantinople to complain to the Emperor Leo rather than to Simplicious to get recourse for being deposed? Doesn't the Pope appoint all Bishops? Doesn't he have that kind of authority?

So if we're going to talk about Unity, let's do it. It is a great topic, and it gets so many people riled up.

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He asked

I answered. Not very complicated, but a coupla good things in there.

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Internet Security tip #66-6

I just received an e-mail from a reader who shall remain nameless, and they have alerted me to an insideous plot on the part of Blogger to make all people servants of the devil. It turns out that if you enter your birth date in your blogger profile it assigns you a "Zodiac sign".

My Internet Security tip for you is to NEVER GIVE ANYBODY YOUR BIRTHDATE OVER THE INTERNET. That's a key piece of data used in identity theft, and giving it out is better for scoundrels than giving out your SS#.

Jesus doesn't care about the zodiac sign Blogger puts in your profile: Jesus cares whether or not you have a heart humble to God. I am willing to bet he doesn't want you to get stung in an identity theft scam, either, but I don't have a proof text for that one.

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Especially to spite i-monk

Read this, and then ask yourself: "could this be a post at TeamPyro?"

I'm not inviting Mark Driscoll to be a member of the team (I don't have that kind of authority), but I am saying that he's right, he's struck the right tone for speaking to apostates and the people who love them, and if his 7-yr-old and my 7-yr-old ever got together, it would prolly be for the best.

Knuckle-busted booyah on that, yo.

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Prayer warriors: ho!

here are all kinds of
blog carnivals out there for all kinds of meta-disasters and whatever. I have something else I'd like to try.

Libbie, our English Muffin, is sick. Without divulging more than she already has on her blog, she's sick and will be sick until about Christmas, and she has 3 little ones and a loving husband who need her the way all of us need the wife and mom in our own houses.

As is the custom of the blog, we'll ask for prayer for Libbie. Right now, bow your head and tell God that in spite of our sinfulness, He's faithful and in that faithfulness we trust; and we are counting on His faithfulness to comfort Libbie -- with healing and with emotional and spiritual fortitude.

But I'm also asking you to blog for prayer for Libbie. You -- whoever you are, whatever false, non-baptistic counter-reformational cult you belong to (sorry: just kidding) -- pray, and then ask others to pray.

Can you be serious about prayer? Can you ask others to be? If you're tongue-tied, just track back to this post.

And, as a side note, I'd also ask for prayer for my wife today for (as we say in Baptist circles) unspoken requests.

Go on: don't be a slacker about this.

Ah. Content.

I’m a little dry this week as I have a couple of life-adjustments going on (for example: we lost our van in the T-Storm yesterday, and I’m trying to be primary bread-winner and head chauffer; at work I am in the peak of “peak season”), so if there’s going to be content, it’s going to have to be derivative.

Thus, from the BHT:
Does anyone ever feel like this? I’m loved by the greatest being in the universe. I’ve been given the most valuable gift imaginable by the greatest being in the universe. I’ve been given the privilege to share this gift with untold millions of believers, past present and future. Given all that:

Why is everything negative in my life church-related? (note that I didn’t say that everything church-related was negative) Seriously, if I were to walk away from church right now (something I have no intention of doing), I would be dispensing with nearly all the stress, sorrow, and fatigue in my life.
I’m imagining that Bill from BHT is talking about all his relationships and all his ministry/service at church, so to start with charity, Bill, if I read you wrong please correct me.

I don’t know Bill, OK? I have no idea who he is, and I don’t have the TR secret police following him (they’re on assignment, and my work order got lost in the magisterial bureaucracy), so my suggestion is based on the only shred of evidence I have: this particular post.

My suggestion is this: Bill’s focus is in the wrong field of play. Last night I was listening to Piper’s archive of biographical surveys, and I got through Machen and Bunyan (I’m not listening to them in order). One of the astounding things about both of these guys – as different as they were – is how much both of them were able to persevere through without a lot of kvetching.

It made me take a hard view at me, personally, who can be a little bit of a snit when I don’t get to serve the way I want to serve. You know: I’m loved by the greatest being in the universe. I’ve been given the most valuable gift imaginable by the greatest being in the universe. I’ve been given the privilege to share this gift with untold millions of believers, past present and future.

But oddly, that’s not how Bunyan and Machen saw things. When they spoke of God and God-work, they sounded like this:
For by this scripture, I saw that the man Christ Jesus, as He is distinct from us, as touching His bodily presence, so He is our righteousness and sanctification before God. Here, therefore, I lived for some time, very sweetly at peace with God through Christ; Oh, methought, Christ! Christ! there was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes, I was not only for looking upon this and the other benefits of Christ apart, as of His blood, burial, or resurrection, but considered Him as a whole Christ! As He in whom all these, and all other His virtues, relations, offices, and operations met together, and that as He sat on the right hand of God in heaven.

It was glorious to me to see His exaltation, and the worth and prevalency of all His benefits, and that because of this: now I could look from myself to Him, and should reckon that all those graces of God that now were green in me, were yet but like those cracked groats and fourpence-halfpennies that rich men carry in their purses, when their gold is in their trunks at home! Oh, I saw my gold was in my trunk at home! In Christ, my Lord and Saviour! Now Christ was all; all my wisdom, all my righteousness, all my sanctification, and all my redemption.
That is: their perspective is Godward and God-from, and God-centered.

It sounds picky, I know, but it’s not a burden to serve God when we know that the righteousness of our work in in Christ and not in my effort. That is not an encouragement to be slack at the plow, but to see that whether the soil is rocky or sandy or black and rank with fertility, God has given us the work for his sake and his glory.

So in that, Bill, grace and peace to you, man. If church service is wearing you out – and it wears a lot of people out, so don’t take this personally – maybe it is because you have your eyes fixed on the wrong goal. I’m not calling you a sinner or a fool or a dummy: I’m saying we’re men, and as men we tend to lead on “I – I – I” and not “Christ Christ Christ”.

No offense, OK? No blog war. I’m saying that Christian service is a burden when we are doing it for reasons other than the joy of serving God.

Take that for what it’s worth.

UPDATED: iMonk has been gracious enough to saith thus --
How do I keep my eyes on Jesus in a way that takes away the disappointments, weariness, wear-downs, burn-outs of this life?
Which, I think, is an excellent question -- because it's one we all face. Seriously now: who hasn't been sick to death of the trouble of one day -- which is always enough, amen? But I had trouble yesterday and the day before which I haven't really worked all the way out yet, so the trouble for today suddenly seems like a bit much, Jesus.

As memory serves me, iMonk is a lifer -- he's been a Christian for almost as long as he can remember, and that's something to give credit for. But let me offer something in that: those of you who are lifers have a hard time discerning the worldliness in ourselves from the holiness.

I'm not better than you: I'm different. I wasn't saved at bible camp; I didn't walk the aisle when I was 7 or 13 or whatever. I was of the world when you were learning (rightly) your books of the Bible and trying to win Bible drill. I was an atheist in deed until I became an atheist in fact, and God fished me out of that cess pool. And in that, may I say that I know the way the old man feels -- and he feels like God owes him an answer.

You know: I just worked 60 hours in the last two weeks on this church blahblahblah, and Jesus -- why didn't we get any people coming forward? Why are my elders such jerks? Lord, I've sacrificed my relationship with my wife to serve your hard-hearted people, and they are still hard of heart -- why don't you just kill me and get it over with? Why did my baby die, Jesus, if you really care about me?

The wrong answer is this: I blindly trust Jesus. The Bible really doesn't say that our faith is blind even though it says we walk by faith and not by sight. It says that because God has always been faithful, and that we are made to glorify Him, we can trust that whatever is happening to us is right and ... now get this:


I'm not Rick Warren, OK? I'm not advocating a PDL here -- because this is not about discovering or knowing what the immediate purpose of one's life is or ought to be. What I am saying is this: God does not only have purpose in short-term, tangible, easily-recognized "wins". God doesn't only love the mega-church pastor, or the praise band that wins a dove award, or (heaven help us) Paul Crouch. God loves us who are ... how did Paul say it? "we (who) have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things."

The idea that God has a purpose in the universe can only be meaningful if it is meaningful when we are prone to doubt it but could reap the greatest gain from it. This greatness of God is only meaningful if it has substance when we are in the valley of the shadow of death.

Let me get back to my point about the old man here: the old man thinks, "God, when I do this for you, I know you will pay me back just like you paid back David and Abraham and, um, Job, right? All of these things will be added unto me, and that'll be great." And in that, the old man strives to do all the work himself.

But the new man thinks first, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner," and "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but if you say the word it shall be done because I understand authority, and yours makes mine look like horsefeathers."

The old man, because of what he wants and how he works it out -- which is really a kind of barter (or worse, an atheism which thinks God only works in natural ways and not by supernatural means) -- will be prone to bitterness, and burn out, and wearing out, and disappointment. The new man is waiting on the Lord. That's both "patient for the Lord's timing" and "giving service to the Lord".

If I can answer Michael's question, it is in this: you must know the difference between God's economy and the world's economy in getting things done. You must not see things as the old man would see them, but with the knowledge that up to now, God hasn't ever failed to work out his plan, and he won't fail ever. Even if today you didn't get a free iPod from that spam you opened.

UPDATE II: And before you say, "ya ya ya, I've heard all that before," read this.

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No Loose Ends

I got an e-mail this evening from this quarter's chairman of the Truly Reformed non-conformist pseudo-presbytery, and it seems I am remiss in linking to an important and reasonably-new work.

It's an e-book by Steve Hays refuting the latest in a series of books by alleged atheist advocates regarding the historical reality of the resurrection. When I got the e-mail, I started searching my site for a review of this book because Steve linked me to it back in January, and I remember reading the w-h-o-l-e thing in order to write a critique of it. I am sad to say that my critique is not on the blog, and it's also not on my primary computer.

That's prolly good news for you people as having to read my 5-7 pages of toadying praise for Steve's meticulous vivisection of the current iteration of atheist historical hypotheses about why there was no tomb (empty or not), no Jesus to walk out of it, and certainly no honest believers in such a thing would be excessive.

Suffice it to say: if you need to stay current on the state of the art of counter-atheist apologetics, this would be a good book to review.

The book is called This Joyful Eastertide: A Critical Review of The Empty Tomb. It's a free service of the TR blogosphere -- something, by the way, the Emergents never consider doing. Because they're not polemicists, you see.

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The Kind of Christian

If you want to pick a fight today, first read this link, then ask yourself: do my arguments include the real sense that I will die for this faith -- both me and my children?

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Before we let out for the weekend ...

... I was just watching one of Tim Keller's videos at DGM for the DGM fall conference, and he said something that everyone should remember: there is the Gospel way, the moralist/religious way, and the way of the irreligious, and if we are not careful we will preach by default the moralist way to the irreligious -- it is what they will equate the Gospel to by default.

May it never be so for you, or for me. This weekend, be in God's house with God's people on the Lord's day. Don't do it because it makes you a better person: do it because you are a sinner in need of grace.

Out at night in Philly

I was at the pool tonight, and I saw some folks from church. Ann Slater told me her brother-in-law from Philly was a reader and a fan, so I thought I'd mention it here.

Wazzup Philly?

Secular Madness!

I have this thing for Sixpence None the Richer, and since they broke up and turned out their Greatest Hits CD, I figured we'd never see them again until they turned 60 and had a reunion tour. And for me, it was never really a Sixpence thing: it was a Leigh Nash thing. I have no idea why -- her lyrics aren't the kind of lyrics I usually care anything about, and her pop style is usually like garlic and wolfbane for me, but somehow she wins me over. I think it's her version of "Babe in the Straw" which sets my point of reference, and I judge the rest of the stuff by how I receive that one song. Maybe her music makes me feel young in a good way -- not in a "I feel like I'm in college" kinda way because my college years were terribly mis-spent.

Anyway, I got this e-mail about a week ago from "her people" that she has produced a new CD -- totally unsolicited. They asked me (well -- full disclosure here: it was a mass e-mailing to a bunch of bloggers, and my blog was on the list) to review the CD for a free copy of said disk, and booyah to that.

Anyway, this is not that review -- I'll have to listen to the disk a couple of times before I can give a "review". Today I can just give a "recommendation": buy it. In fact, you can buy it by clicking on the image above. Is that cool or what?

It's not "christian music". There's no "Jesus is my [cliche]" songs on this CD. And to be honest, there's no silver fishy on this CD either -- no crypto-Christian metaphors that will subvert pop culture. It's pure secular madness, and I'm associating myself with it. I'd have to sell 100 of them from the above link to make $50, so I'm not in it for the money. I just like Leigh Nash.

If you want to listen, you can listen in here. It's flash-driven, so if you have a skinny connection you will probably be sad to click thru. The rest of you should go and sample, and then come back here and buy.

It's not Vivaldi: it's pop music. If that makes your ears bleed, don't say I didn't warn you.

double-secret technorati tags:

Preach it

Preach it twice in case somebody missed it the first time.

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Sympathy, yet not so much

I ran into this whilst on patrol in the deepest, darkest blogosphere, and one hates to link to the site for fear of reprisals and all.

It draws a 2-fold reaction from me, the first of which is honest sympathy. Does anyone not know that I'm pretty bent out of shape over the condition of the American church? For example, when Angus here says
I tried to explain that my question did not indicate that I believed the modern church was denying Christ, but that it had begun to make conscious choice the agent of change in the continuum of salvation. Thus, allowing man to control the way God encounters his people, essentially, turning him into a candy machine. Further, the subconscious emanations of a fallen and depraved race – such as we are – would begin to manifest themselves in a way that places the locus of control for any human to God /God to human interaction completely in human hands.
I'm with him: he's right, even if I hate to use the word "locus" on a blog because most people will hit "NEXT BLOG" when they see such a thing.

He's right that the American church -- in all its Addams Family incarnations across denomination or the denial of the usefulness of the same -- has a problem becuase it denies the presence of God in things in a really subtle way.

And, given that he's in a megachurch setting (so it seems by his post), it's unlikely that he's going to lead a one-man reformation of that body. Right? Who would argue with that? If the church has a senior pastor and 17 "associates", and levels of teachers and assistants and blahblahblah under that, not likely that he's going to lead reformation and change the lives of those poor, lost souls who have placed the locus of control for any human-to-God/God-to-human interaction completely in human hands.

And yet, what exactly does that say about our blogospheric colleague Angus? You know: for example, does he belong to the church (in general, and to this church in particular) because it fits his (apparently-expanding and more-sanctified [no sarcasm there, OK?]) view of what the church ought to be, or does he belong to the church out of obedience and out of reverence for God? Hasn't Angus abandoned one mostly-bad way of thinking about church for another which is not really that much better -- which is the church shopper view of how we ought to fellowship as believers?

I don't think Angus has called these people heretics: he has only said, "not for me, thanks." But in that, he has done exactly what he is complaining about in the fashion of the contemporary church -- that is, instead of wearing the Tommy golf shirts and khakis which the church is advocating, or even the stuff at the Aeropostale church down the street, he's choosing the homeless chic waredrobe so many today see as what's right, given the cultural context. he hasn't given up being trendy: he's changed trends.

If the 8-letter word of internet anathema wasn't so ill-thought of, I'd say exactly what I thought about that. Isn't what's missing in the church today real faithfulness? How does one claim to exhibit real faithfulness by walking away?

If one is actually the one with the right Gospel-centered, Christocentric answer about what the church ought to be, I think -- IMO and all that -- that he has a responsibility to God to be an example to those who are taking the bus tour to luke-warm waters. Even if those people are his pastors and elders.

We can talk about how that works if anyone is interested, but people who go church shopping because they just realized that they have spent some time as a pew-sitter because of their realization that their pastor can't pick them out of a line-up, with all due respect, haven't changed their diet: they have only changed their meal schedule.

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A sober voice

Pay attention to this:
How could such an answer have been given? I'm sure in well meaning sincerity. But how could it have been soberly accepted by thousands of messengers? I can only conclude that it must have been due in part to our cheapened understanding of conversion, debased practices of evangelism, worldly attitudes about being "judgmental" and an addiction--a drunkeness, if you will--to numbers. I don't think it came about by careful reflection on the Bible's teaching on what it means to be born again, to be made a new creation, to consider the fruit of the Spirit in contrast to the works of the flesh. We were not thinking of II Peter 1. We not calling people to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith, as Paul urged the Corinthians. We have not with a sober love called them "sinners" in need of repentance; we have called them "members" and assured them that they are saved. Or we've called them "prospects."
Read it all. It's a great pastoral summary of hat exactly is at stake in the SBC right now.

double-secret technorati tags:

a few of my favorite things

I've been using Google Analytics for some very sophisticated stats analysts the last 2 months, but the best part so far is the downloadable data. To show you how keen it is, here's a table of my top 50 refering sites. I have even left the grumbling plebians' links in the list just to show you how cool this is. For those who want to know, this is ranked by number of referrals since the first week of July, 2006.

rank Source Type Visits
1 (direct) (none) 3221
2 referral 2667
3 referral 798
4 referral 494
5 referral 365
6 referral 283
7 referral 281
8 referral 264
9 google organic 248
10 referral 236
11 referral 184
12 referral 168
13 referral 156
14 referral 148
15 referral 139
16 referral 136
17 referral 133
18 referral 123
19 referral 107
20 referral 95
21 referral 95
22 referral 91
23 referral 85
24 referral 84
25 referral 76
26 referral 72
27 referral 71
28 referral 66
29 referral 66
30 referral 65
31 referral 64
32 referral 57
33 referral 49
34 referral 49
35 referral 44
36 referral 43
37 referral 43
38 referral 40
39 referral 38
40 referral 37
41 referral 36
42 referral 34
43 referral 34
44 referral 33
45 referral 32
46 referral 31
47 referral 29
48 referral 29
49 referral 29
50 referral 29

Notice, btw, that the nefarious Dr. Warnock is at the bottom of the dog pile -- and if you check his archives, you can see that I am funneling far more readers to him that he is to me. I'd call it unjust if I thought he was doing it on purpose.

I almost forgot ...

ey: this weekend? Spend the Lord's day in the Lord's house with the Lord's people. You deserve it.

to koine a phrase

For those following my support of Daniel B. Wallace at TeamPyro, you might find this t-shirt amusing. Now on sale at the pawn shop.

Take a break

Read this. Say a prayer for the man's family and himself. That's a great way to show love for one another.

Research and Methods

Those of you following the move to reinvigorate Prohibition may or may not be familiar with the argument that the Greek word "oinos" doesn't really mean "wine" the way we mean "wine" today. The source for that is usually cited as Robert H. Stein's research on that subject.

With many thanks to my friend johnMark and the indefatigable army of reformed baptist internet research assistants at #prosapologian, I am happy to provide you with a copy of "Wine Drinking in New Testament Times" by Robert H. Stein, from Christianity Today, June 20, 1975.

You might want to take an extra 10 minutes at lunch to read it -- because that's all it will take.

Classic Totalitarian rhetoric

Read this.

Now ask yourself: "Why does he want a nuclear bomb if he believes what he is saying?"

When someone is either this self-deceived or this willing to openly lie, there is no reasoning with him. His texxtbook was written by his historical fathers in totalitarian encroachment over the last 150 years, and if we do not recognize it we are our own worst enemies.

UPDATED: That Mike Wallace -- he's about as sharp as white American cheese. You read the first one, right? Read this.

Let's see -- is a short man who seems friendly and outgoing, but if we get past Wallace's star-struck view we can also see that this person is tempramental and skiddish (note the part about the schedule interview nearly being called off -- until the cameras are about to go home to the Great Satan; also note that a 30-min interview turned into 90 minutes of tape -- apparently face time with Mike Wallace is a lot more important to Ahmadinejad that anything else he had scheduled as President)(nothing like Hitler, btw). Wallace also forgot to mention what a great soccer fan Ahmadinejad is, which is unforgivable.

Today in her column, Ann Coulter said that the defeat of Joe Leiberman in the CT Democratic senate primary this week is proof that Americans have lost the will to survive in a post 9/11 world. I think this proves her right.


I will not link you to the Daily Gut because of the language. It's disgusting.

UPDATED: So why did you click the link? did you think I was kidding?

A Separate Peace [2]

got a little side-tracked in part 1 of this series because of a necessary qualifier, but I had really intended to talk about the issue of Gene and Finny as archetypes in which Baptists can learn a lesson. In A Separate Peace, Gene and Finny have to separate – because Finny dies. They go their own ways because Finny dies during an operation, but the author’s point in writing the story is that Gene realizes, in the end, that while he called Finny his friend he was never really “right” with Finny – he was jealous of him, and was somewhat slyly-hateful toward him. Finny’s death was a catalyst for Gene, sadly, to “get over it” – that is, it took a cataclysmic event to make Gene know something about himself that needed fixin’, and he was able to fix it. Or to put that last phrase more precisely, he was able to fix the part with which he was left.

Let’s have no doubt that this book is a secular book, yes? And may Memphis and the IMB forbid that Baptists (Southern Baptists, anyway) ever learn anything from a non-biblical source. But with the primary qualification that we ought to contend for our faith in a right minded, generous, and humble way, and the secondary qualification that the metaphor I am drawing on is a secular source (even if it bears some resemblance, for example, to Cain and Abel [Gen 4:1-15], and to Saul and David [1 Sam 18:6-8], and to Peter and Jesus [John 21], and to Paul and Barnabas [Acts 15]), let’s ask ourselves a serious question: when, exactly, should we formally “separate” from people who, yesterday, we were in full fellowship with?

You know: for example – at what point should the prohibitionist fundamentalist social conservatives separate from the non-prohibitionist fundamentalist social conservatives? The rhetoric for such a thing is out there – because the non-prohibitionists are (among other things) obviously sympathic to baby-baptizers and drunk drivers. Can the case be made that the non-prohibitionists have actually tread upon the fundamentals of the faith in such a way that they are in sin, and cannot or will not repent, and ought to be disfellowshipped – especially for the sake of doing missionary work in places as diverse as China, Pakistan, the Sudan, and Webster, NY? Specifically, over a beer at dinner, or a glass of champagne at one’s 25th wedding anniversary?

Yes, I know: I have painted this issue in pretty stark terms, but what is at stake is the viability of the missionary work of the SBC. In the U.S., it is the largest relief organization on the ground at any given time, and is internationally renown for demonstrating compassion in every nation without regard to their political or religious beliefs. In the end, the issue is whether or not we’re going to send missionaries to the largely-Catholic state of Louisiana who can break bread with the indigenous peoples there and not be offended by a glass of wine at the dinner table – or perhaps even show good manners by having one like an appreciative guest.

Splitting the convention along prohibitionist/moderationist lines will certainly cripple the missionary work of the SBC because the line there drawn will demand that all missionaries be prohibitionist -- which is not to say, "don't partake themselves" but "actively work to abolish all uses drinkinguses of alcohol". It will place the work of abolishing alcohol on the same cooperative level as the demand that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scripture. Someone will have to do some work someplace to demonstrate for me how those two things are of equal importance in Scripture – when the former cannot be found in Scripture at all.

See: for Gene and Finny, somebody had to die and the other had to suffer the catastrophic loss of a close friend for redemptive change to happen. For Baptists, we have to realize that somebody already did die for the sake of redemptive change – and His death is Sufficient for redemptive change. And I’m not talking about honored men like Adrian Rogers here: I’m talking about the Son of God, the Lion of Judah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world that God has made both Lord and Christ – this Jesus who was crucified.

In the end, Gene lived with the regret that he was never the kind of friend Finny had been – which is to say, seeing the whole world (including Gene) as perfectly innocent in motives, and thereby allowing even Gene to take advantage of him. Gene in fact held himself separated from Finny even as his friend for the sake of protecting himself – which was never necessary! And that separation – that method of self-interest – ultimately was the cause of the death of Finny.

Is that the kind of peace the prohibitionist Baptists want – a peace which can only result in the permanent alienation of brothers in Christ? We should think on our roots – and on the political reasons the SBC was formed in 1845. We are not guilty of the sins of our fathers in the faith, but if we are not careful we are going to commit the same kinds of sins – which would be placing our worldly interests, both in the form of fear and of political influence, ahead of the Gospel which is the only power to redeem the nations.

The Gospel is more powerful than alcohol. Maybe if we focused on that, we could do something greater than separate from brothers who agree with us that drunkenness is evil and an abuse of good conscience.

A separate peace [1]

You read that book in High School, right? Gene and Finny? Gene is jealous of Finny but Finny can’t muster up the cynicism to be angry at Gene for being jealous? That book, as I remember it, is about Finny coming to “peace” with the fact that the world is not perfect (even if it is the eternal peace of death), and Gene coming to grips with the fact that he had no reason to hate Finny at all – Finny was the truest kind of friend, even if he was insufferable in his innocence.

Baptists (especially the Reformed stripe) and the rest of the Christian world are a lot like Gene and Finny. It’s not a perfect allegory, but there’s enough correlation to make some fine points about both parties. For example, neither side is actually perfect: one side is a little too concerned with being the best (in spite of his self awareness that he has many flaws), and the other side has no regard for such a thing to the point that it clouds his judgment and causes him to be foolishly innocent.

Fair enough, right? That’s a broad brush, and a broad brush tends to slop the paint around, and one winds up getting some on his own hands. In this book, Gene and Finny have to separate – because Finny dies. They go their own ways because Finny dies during an operation, but the author’s point is writing the story is that Gene realizes, in the end, that while he called Finny his friend he was never really “right” with Finny – he was jealous of him, and was somewhat slyly-hateful toward him. Finny’s death was a catalyst for Gene, sadly, to “get over it” – that is, it took a cataclysmic event to make Gene know something about himself that needed fixin’, and he was able to fix it.

In my mind, this is exactly what the Baptist ideal of separation is like – and I know this is going to draw some ire from people I consider friends, so let me lay out a qualifier before I go any farther: when it comes to the Gospel, we ought to give no quarter to those who want to water it down. We ought to contend for the faith. We ought to stand for fundamentals as if there was nothing else to stand for.

That qualifier, of course, comes back to the issue of orthodoxy and what the essential doctrines of the faith are, right? So I’m not talking about having some index card of faith-truths we are willing to die for, and the rest is cotton candy: I’m talking about a robust orthodoxy which holds up as important everything the Bible holds up as important, to the same extent that the Bible holds it up as important, and then the rest is fine for rumination and consideration.

If you want a specific example of what I’m talking about, marriage is a non-negotiable of the Christian faith. The mere orthodoxy types never consider this, but marriage is an essential part of Christian theology for a long list of reasons (I have listed some of them elsewhere), and those who would corrupt it or abolish it or tamper with it are the kinds of troublemakers we should separate from.

However, the marriage ceremony is not non-negotiable. There’s no fixed ceremony expounded in the Bible, and the kind of marriage celebration sort of taken for granted in the Bible makes the Baptist practice of marriage rites look somewhat bloodless and mopey. It ought to be joyful; it ought to be public; it ought to be focused on Christ; it ought to be honoring to the bride and the groom. That’s it – after that, I think we have the liberty to enjoy ourselves. We ought not to be separated from people who have Tarzan-themed weddings, or whatever: the ceremony is only a tactic in implementing the strategy of the actual institution of marriage. I might have more to say about stupid objections like, “well, what about a nudist wedding,” or “what about a cannibal wedding,” or “what about a wiccan wedding”. Each of those violate one of the things I have already mentioned as hallmarks of what the Bible describes in wedding ceremonies.

Nathan Busenitz has been off on the issue of separation over at Faith and Practice blog, and my good friend Phil Johnson has called that series “stellar” – and I think Phil is right. But Nate’s last post in that series drew this comment from a reader:

Fundamentalists would agree with your view of Billy Graham and would have no association with him. Then, I think, the argument would go this way: since Dr. Mohler does not separate from Billy Graham, but associates with him (the Louisville Graham Crusade), Dr. Mohler, by his practice, is rejecting the doctrine of separation, and therefore is a disobedient believer who must be separated from.
Which, of course, is a pretty lousy argument if you ask me, but it’s the kind of thing that comes up when this issue gets tossed around.

Now, I want everyone reading this blog to think about something: does this person actually “get” the doctrine of separation at all? I am pretty widely on-record as finding stadium evangelism for the most part disreputable because it removes the responsibility for evangelism from the local church, but do I think we ought to be separated from anyone who cooperates with a stadium event?

Good heavens – I’d have no church to belong to!

Listen: at the core of the doctrine of separation are a couple of things which the reactionary, the zealot, and the bigot (which are not all the same things) ignore pretty strenuously – that is, they have to exert a lot of energy to ignore these things.

The first thing is this: every mistake is not apostasy and sin. Can we agree on that? For example, when Paul separated with Barnabas over Mark, neither man was falling into apostasy. Barnabas may have made too much out of the necessity of bringing the young man along, and Paul made have made too much out of leaving him behind, but neither man was violating the Gospel over that matter of tactics.

We all make mistakes. Some of us make bigger mistakes than others – because some of us work on a bigger canvas. You know: a guy with a blog that pulls in 500 readers a day can make a bigger mistake than a guy with 5 readers if they both express the same opinion at the same time over the same subject – like demanding that Joel Osteen is a rank heretic. I don’t think Osteen is a rank heretic: I think he’s a pastor who has made some grave tactical errors, and he’s unable to demonstrate that he can express or defend the Gospel on national TV. What that means is that he’s poor evangelist, and he doesn’t have a lot of experience in apologetics. On those grounds, you’d have to call a lot of pastors in America today heretics. Does that sound reasonable to anyone? It doesn’t sound reasonable to me to call a lot of pastors “heretics” because they aren’t skilled in arguing and facing arguments about the doctrines of the faith.

So every mistake is not apostasy. Sorry! If it was, it would be a lot easier to exercise separation, but it would also probably leave you personally as a person from whom we need to be separated.

The second thing is this: choosing to separate is a matter of conscience. In the post Nate made which elicited this response from his reader, he (Nate) cites Spurgeon’s willingness to separate from his church association as a fine example of separation in practice, and in doing so quotes John MacArthur as saying this:

Spurgeon did not actively seek to pull others out of the Union, but he could not understand why men who wanted to remain faithful to the Scriptures would continue to belong to an organization that was so obviously barreling down the down-grade
Certainly, Spurgeon was withdrawing for “principle” – but he did not condemn those who did not withdraw as heretics but as brothers who were making a faulty choice. They have joined to what Spurgeon himself calls a lost cause, but that doesn’t mean they are themselves lost.

In that, the example of Al Mohler “cooperating” with the Billy Graham Crusade is significantly misused. Dr. Mohler has chosen to do something, frankly, I would not choose to do – but that doesn’t make Dr. Mohler a person of theological disrepute. Dr. Mohler has made the choice to go where there are lost people (along with his church) and seek to deliver the Gospel to them. Is there some question of whether or not they will be confused by seeing Catholic, Reformed Baptists and Finney-esque “evangelicals” all lined up together? Why yes: I think there will be some confusion, and there may be some equivocation.

But what is worse: standing next to a Catholic or a wobbly evangelical and preaching the Gospel to the lost, or sitting in at your desk someplace typing on your computer demanding such a stringent form of separation that we have no opportunity to ever see a lost person, and we studiously avoid events where the lost are bound to be. I think the latter is an offense to Christ, and the former is not.

Last (for the sake of the blog this week) is this, which I have eluded to, above: it’s not a sin to preach the Gospel. Um, Duh? It’s not a sin to preach the Gospel – it’s the #1 thing we are called to do. In that, we don’t, for example, become strip-club owners to preach to strippers and their oglers, but we do have an obligation to preach the Gospel to strippers and their oglers. We don’t become murderers to preach the Gospel to murderers. We don’t become thieves to preach the Gospel to thieves, or drunks to become a preacher to drunks. But we must engage our faith in some way that preaches the Gospel to murderers, thieves, drunks, oglers, and strippers.

You know: the sin is in actually being the servant with the single talent. You know that story, right? Mat 25:14-30? The one servant gets one lousy talent, and rather than do something with it for the sake of his master, he does nothing with it for the sake of his master and is frankly punished severely.

Don’t be that servant. That’s the guy who is going to have a very long and uncomfortable time in front of Christ in the final account because he had received the mercy of the Father (allegedly), and then he did nothing with it or because of it.

That’s where I’m going to stop this week, and just as a reminder to myself, this actually has something to do with the alcohol stuff I’ve been posting, so think about that as you try to keep your grass from spontaneously combusting this weekend.

And, of course, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s Day in the Lord’s house this weekend. Don’t pretend you’re alone in this world: there are plenty of other hypocrites and sinners just like you who this week will turn towards their savior and worship Him for what He has done. You can join together in the praise. Go do it, and stop pretending that you’re a better person for using separation from sin as an excuse for failing to be obedient to God.

Michael Spencer eats worms

Listen: he started this, OK? He's the one who has "new found respect" blahblahblah, which you can read about here. Pheh.

Here's what I didn't say in my last post: I didn't say, "Gospel and Missions More Important Than Occasional Impolite Language". My apology to Pastor Driscoll is about the way I have positioned myself against him as if he didn't preach the Gospel, or as if he was off the Gospel path, or whatever that means. I didn't make any apologies for casting the stink-eye on his application of James 3 (or lack thereof): the apology I sent Pastor Driscoll had to do with my motives in some of my criticisms of him.

He and I share a singular vice: we have sharp tongues which, often enough to exceed once in a blue moon, cut deeper and perhaps not as surgically as we would like them to. That's bad. I didn't apologize for that. I apologized for forgetting that the Gospel has to be preached to the lost even though they don't want to hear it -- a virtue he has which I have sometimes lapsed away from, and which is more important that having content for my blog.

I didn't apologize for what he did: I apologized for what I did - and that's a distinction I think iMonk's victory lap seems to miss.

UPDATED: Oh please -- iMonk went and deleted the post. Frank disagreed with me and it'll spoil my weekend! W-a-a-a-a-a-a! This wasn't even very insightful correction -- it was pretty run-of-the-mill "my side of the story" stuff. How's that rate anathemacious behavior?

Technorati tag: Mark Driscoll

I'm posting this just to watch the Technorati traffic from the Mark Driscoll police pass through the blog. I'm really a jerk about stuff like this, but when I figure out somebody is as cross-eyed as I am about who's talking about one's self on the internet, I like to contemplate my own sanctification (or lack thereof) by making fun of theirs.

BTW, I sent an apology to Pastor Driscoll about my attitude toward him -- because in the end, there's a pretty significant truth about what he does vs. what 95% of all churches in America do: he's making disciples and planting churches that are making disciples. You might want to pick a fight over whether he's making disciples like John Knox and Charles Spurgeon made disciples -- you know, disciples that change their culture rather than disciples that are making another kind of the same culture most Christians live in now -- but as I said before, even if Mars Hill winds up being a Dolly Madison cake with a secret Gospel filling, it's doing a lot more of what's right than (no offense, Tad) my local church is doing.

When was the last time your church -- you, the reader -- preached the Gospel to a porn star or a drunk, or any kind of sinner who didn't just happen to wander in? Jesus didn't come for those who are well, but for those who are sick. We should think about that as we baptists think about the matter of "separation".

Which is a nice segue for the rest of the posts this week ...

It’s not up to you [4]

Some smart-aleck reading this blog said to me, in words to this effect, “cent, I am sure your advice makes plenty of sense to actual Christians with conservative values and theological leanings, but to others it is boring and doesn’t have any appeal. No wonder your hits are down.”

I find that point of view interesting because it seems to think that there’s another equally-valid point of view which is yielding as-many or more successful marriages, and that people can look any ol’ place to find advice that not only is good for them, but it tastes good, too.

There are several things that come to my mind as I mull that over, and the first one is this: the idea that marriages founded on, and nurtured under, the view which I have proposed here fail at about the same rate as all other kinds of marriage is complete twaddle.

Listen: I have fallen for that line, and I’m a stats junkie. Turns out that the truth is that people with a Christian view of things have Christian marriages – and you can read more about that right here, particularly the answer to Question #13.

If you’re just blowing past this blog, or you think it’s either quaint or invasive to talk about what makes marriages work, I feel sorry for you. Why? Because it’s not up to you to decide what does and does not make marriages work. You didn’t invent marriage, and it doesn’t exist for your pleasure. It exists specifically for the sake of knowing God better and giving Him Glory – just like everything else does.

Here’s what I think about people who find the tactic of placing this discussion inside the bounds of theology offensive in some way: God isn’t real to you, friend. If you think marriage is just a social convention which we can toss out or revise when we think it needs an update – as if it was word processing software, or a car we are leasing – don’t pretend that you believe in a God who is Creator and Sustainer: you believe in a God who is beta-testing the universe, and is uploading patches thanks to the feedback of the fairly-large beta community which is using his product.

Don’t treat what God has joined together as if it was a terrible accident: it is not an accident but a purpose in this world.

There’s something else that comes to mind in considering this, so bear with me as I spell it out. It’s the idea that the world thinks anything at all of marriage. You know: using the logic I have proposed to defend the occational, responsible use of alcohol, someone might come back and say, “cent: about 75-80% of all marriages don’t fail. What you’re saying, in effect, is that there’s a solution in search of a problem. Most people who get married stay married – by more than a 2:1 ratio. You’re trying to cause drama where there is no drama, and you're drumming up tragedy for the sake of preying on hysteria.”

That seems like a pretty good point, I’ll admit. The problem is that it is trying to make the marriage issue only about people who stand up and take the vow. The marriage question, for example, is applicable to people who are not married but think they have a right to have sex. The marriage question applies to people who choose abortion over celibacy. The marriage question applies to what kinds of unions should and should not be fostered by the law and government. So while the divorce rate may only represent 20% of all people, all the peripheral issues around this matter touch on almost every single adult who can read this.

You know: for example, why do you want to have sex with someone who, honestly, doesn’t care what happens to the rest of your life? This isn’t a cheap song by Meatloaf I’m talking about here: this is your life, your body, your spiritual and emotional wellbeing I’m talking about. If you think you want to have sex with someone, ask them, “listen: I was thinking about what you look like naked and what a great thing it would be to be your 7-course meal, and then I realized that I have no idea if you are willing to love me in a sacrificial way which would bring both of us closer to God. Does my spiritual well-being matter to you? If so, how can I know that?”

If they think you are joking, you have your answer. Your spiritual wellbeing ought to matter more to a person you think you’re hot for than as a punchline for a joke.

The world doesn’t think anything at all about marriage – because the world thinks you ought to be “happy” (whatever that means), and “satisfied” (whatever that means), and “free” (but not cheap, of course, and not easy – well, maybe easy). Everything the world stands for is diametrically opposed to marriage. And while it is not up to you to decide what marriage stands for, it is up to you to decide if you’re going to stand with God in marriage, or with the world – in spite of your spouse’s unloveliness, and in spite of your own.

So you choose. And if you need some help thinking about it, you know where to find me.

more secret technorati tags:

You're missing out

Listen: if you aren't visiting Eric Svendsen's blog, you are just a gossip-monger in the blogosphere. His current series on Phillipians is not only worth reading, it's worth studying.

Get yourself together, people. Your day should not be absorbed in whether or not Michelle Malkin is manipluating for the benefit of stats, or by whether or not Ellen at BHT comprehends complementarianism, or whether Mark Driscoll admits that only about 30% of his attenders are members and therefore real disciples. Study to show yourselves approved.

Nebraska, Wyoming, and the Dakotas

I have been combing over the stats, and there is clearly a shortfall of visitors to the blog from Nebraska, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. We get plenty of traffic from the rest of the country (perhaps too much from the LA area, but that's mostly Phil and his network of Protestant remonstrators checking to make sure I haven't broken the faith), but the last great frontier does nothing for us.

Hey -- do you people not have the internet? I guess it's possible. I say good on you if that's the case.

Why blogging is evil

I write this post which, in my humble opinion, could save marriages and change the church, and my traffic goes down by a third.

But if I posted a 250-word piece of sassy-lip against iMonk or Mark Driscoll, traffic would go up by a third and I'd have to defend my opinion against all kinds of people who think I'm the one looking for a fight.

Bookmark this post. You'll see how wise it is over the course of the next 6 months.