The Generic Sunday School podcast is now on-line, and it picks up where we are reading through the Old Testament, my warts and all. It is not hardly perfect, and all errors are plainly my errors. However, rather than leave the podcast icon in the top of the blog perpetually dark, I thus link you.
The link works best when you have iTunes in the background and then click to find the subscription. The audio quality was best last week, and as long as you don;t mind a 15 MB download for 30 minutes of audio, it's OK. I was trying to keep the file size down around 3 MB each week, but the quality was like AM radio.
Anyway, there ya go. It's not hardly John MacArthur.
UPDATED: First of all, I thought everyone knew what a podcast icon looks like. Look under the comics code approval stamp to see the icon.
Second (and last), I got this e-mail today from iTunes which pointed me at iTunes University, and one of the links was Concordia Seminary's intro to Greek. I think your iPod just paid for itself.
ANOTHER UPDATE: the blog which feeds the podcast is found here for the luddites who still use dial-up but not iTunes.
Y'know, I post the "best of" posts to try to keep the blog from going belly-up and to keep my time commitment to blogging minimized in the system tray, if you get what I'm saying: open, running, but not really doing anything.
Last night, my family went camping without me because, well, I'm the Dad, and I work for a living and the rest of them have a lovely summer vacation to take. And I hate sleeping on the ground. But in that, I got to eat pizza (the kind I like), play TeamFortress 2 until I unlocked the second level achievements for the Pyro, and in an act of utter irresponsibility, I slept in and didn't go work out this morning.
But that lead to reading blogs. Particularly, this one which I hate to link to because it's the yellow journalism of alleged "God Blogging", worse by far than any so-called watch-blog.
So I was reading Malkin, and she had the above-linked link to a photoshopped P.Diddy wearing a t-shirt that says "OBAMA OR DIE". Now, he didn't actually wear that shirt -- it's a prank, see? Very clever. The problem is that he did actually start a chant to that effect at the BET awards, so wear the t-shirt or not, he's in.
Now, before you go checking the Pawn Shop, let me suggest something to you: what kind of message is "Obama or Die"? Is that a political message? Should we be running people for office in whom we want to invest the power of life or death -- particularly our life or our death, pesonally?
That sounds like something othe than a political message to me, along the lines of "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" And you have to ask yourself: is that how much confidence I have in our political system, or does my confidence really lie someplace else and I have been somehow misled into saying things about a man that I would (or at least "should") only say about God?
What we actually have is a diverse spectrum of entities manifest in this world that stand in some relationship to Christ – with varying degrees of flaws among them. From inside the scope of the Gospel, we ought to see that many people affected by the Gospel are more affected by the culture than by the Gospel – and they gravitate away from the Gospel and toward the culture.
But what that looks like from outside the Gospel is that there are some people who say they have the Gospel who are willing to be cooperative about the matter and "tolerant" or "civil" about it, and some who are inflexible and intolerant and show no good will. To those outside the Gospel, not only does the Gospel look like a bad idea, but it seems to them that many who bear the Gospel are not very good at sharing it because if they were, they'd be more like these ones over here that work hard to make peace with the culture.
That's where the question, "How do you create good will for Jesus?" comes from. It comes from the perception that Jesus ought to offer some kind of concession to people in order to get a fair hearing. If He were reasonable, and if His servants were people who really cared, they'd be finding ways to be more like me – more like I want them to be – rather than whatever it is that they are.
Listen: before I crescendo here, it is important to "get" something. One of the clear admonitions that Jesus gave to the Disciples was that they should love one another. We were not saved in order to create a pro wrestling circuit of drama and violence. There is no doubt that, on balance, Christians could be more Christ-like to one another.
What that does not mean, however, is that "Christ-like" equals "your clubbing buddy Jesus". It also does not mean "your very sensitive creative buddy Jesus". It also does not mean "your ethereal pseudo-buddhist goth buddy Jesus". "Christ-like" means something other than "like me and my friends": in fact, it means the opposite of "the kind of person I would hang out with".
The matter of Christ-likeness is fairly shattering because we can only understand Christ in the context of the Gospel. The Christ like whom we ought to be is the Christ who died for sins, and had the authority to take up his life again. He is not someone who imitated anyone but was in fact the standard which we ought to imitate. And in that, Christ's death teaches us that opposition to sin for the sake of righteousness is worth dying for. There is a sacrificial aspect to that statement, but there is also a love of justice in that statement which is completely lost on the contemporary observer.
And the worst case is when that observer is someone in that gray area in my diagram who thinks they are in the church, but the Christ they advocate is a Christ who doesn't oppose sin but simply overlooks it – in order to make people feel OK.
However, it was pitch-perfect, and Downey was classic as Tony Stark. The big surprise for me was Jeff bridges as Obediah Stane.
Anyway, two thumbs up, not a big disappointment like the last Superman movie, and it leaves the door open for a lot of other cool stuff from marvel in the "Ultimate" universe category.
There are no spoilers. Go see it.
UPDATED: I'm looking for the person who can get me a high-res image of Stark's workshop in the scene where he's taking off the armor after he saves the Afgani village. When he looks over his shoulder at Pepper Potts, there's a workbench behind him, and I think Captian America's shield is on that bench.
Go find me the HI RES version of that scene. This is the low-res version:
On the one hand, my kids are ridiculously happy and they love this little beast.
On the other hand, um, I feel like I got a hand-knitted pair of gloves and a muffler when I asked for a ball cap and a big-kid leather glove.
At least she barks at cats and squirrels. She sounds like a squeaky toy, but her heart is in the right place.
I want to find a Maltese or Maltese-mixed puppy for $200 or less, and I don't want the dog "shipped", so I'm looking for some animal within 150 miles of zip code 72734 that I can drive and go get. We would prefer a female if possible.
Because that's what my kids want. I tried to talk them into a Noble Beagle or a mighty Great Dane (Scooby Doo is a Great Dane), but they won't hear of it.
The problem is that this is what I actually published to Haloscan:
I know what I meant to say -- because as I typed the post I was thinking Prov 12:1. In fact, in my first front-page resonse to this, um, event, I said this:
The problem is that I didn't use the word I intended to use. I didn't, and I have to admit that I feel a little, um, stupid for making that error. So for not saying what I intended to say the way I intended to say it, and for defending that errant choice of word after the fact, I apologize. In particular, I apologize to Terry Rayburn, to whom I said at least one unkind thing because he referenced the word I actually used. Please forgive me, Terry, for treating you as if you cannot read -- that was over the top and wholly a result of my own poor judgment.
To some people, this may seem like a little thing, but the truth is that I should have said what I meant, and I didn't. Because that's really at the core of my problem with Steve's callous post that kicked off this, um, event, it's important that I clear the air when I make that kind of error.
The "some people" who might feel that way includes a reader named "Clint", who asked this question last night:
And that is a wholly fair question. Why not let it go? Why not just let the Steve Camp Fan Club enjoy the world they live in, and let Steve in particular say whatever it is that he says and live in Nashville -- which is far enough away that, honestly, who needs to interact with him? Why defend the Hall family?
And the truth is, calling Steve's comment "dumb" has been a massive time-destroyer for me. I have a lot of work to do, given the circumstances at my employer; I have a fabulous family which, for those of you who don't understand this, requires of me a significant time commitment; also bookstore; hobbies; etc. I don't really have 6 hours a day to devote to explaining to Steve and his cohorts why calling the Hall family "unbelievers" in the 2 Cor 6 sense, and why using that as an explanation as to why my friends and co-workers lost their jobs, is reprehensible at best.
So why do it?
 Because the hits just keep coming. Listen: I'd be glad to let it go. I haven't re-instigated any of this discussion, but have responded to those comments made here on this topic. Even tried to change the subject Friday morning, but apparently stories about how funny my kids are don't compare to defending Steve Camp's right to call anyone at any time an "unbeliever".
The record shows that those who will defend Steve take any failure to respond as some kind of derelection of a moral duty. May it never be that we offend that kind of person by omission.
 Because the hits which come are frankly insulting. They range from small insults -- like the insinuation that I have a guilty conscience -- to intermediate insults -- like the insinuation that I am a bad parent -- to large insults -- expressly saying I am worthless, for example, or saying that my employer is in league with the moral equivalent of a pornographer.
These are the people who want me to use a standard of "gentleness" in offering criticism to Steve. I think their double-standard deserves to be dealt with, and for the record there are only a handful of bloggers that I know who will do so directly rather than with a passive-aggressive approach. Sadly for all of my criticis on this matter, I am one of those bloggers who will deal with the matter directly.
 Because there is a larger question of what it means to be someone concerned about unity and truth in the Body of Christ. I'll say it plainly here: anyone who is willing to judge the eternal and spiritual state of another person -- or worse, of a group or class of people -- in order to advance a personal agenda when all the evidence they have indicates an indeterminate spiritual condition (or much worse: that the external evidence indicates they are at least nominal disciples of Christ in fellowship with other believers) is a wholly-dispreputable person.
Anything else I would say to bolster this point in particular on either side of the fence -- either in favor of those I work for, or against Steve -- would be treading on confidentialities. Suffice it to say that there is far more to this question than meets the eye.
If Steve ever apologizes, the whole effort would be worth it. He doesn't even have to come out and say, "I affirm that the Hall family and the executives at Hallmark are faithful servants of Jesus Christ." He just has to say, "I said something rashly which is, at best, unprovable, and it spirtuallly slanders people I have never met. I was wrong. I apologize."
I have other things to do today and tomorrow, so if you want to lay on without getting an immediate response, I say lay on. Just don't take silence as acceptance.
So last week, my wife had to keep our daughter at the bookstore with her for an afternoon because of the way things worked out. And my kids are champs: they have what we call "bookstore manners", which means that instead of acting like monkeys while they have to spend a couple of hours at the store with Mom or Dad, they act like they understand that the bookstore is going to pay for their college education.
So my Q-year-old is playing quitely in the children's area of the store, apparently having a tea party with all the plush animals from the baby gifts table, and she runs up to the front of the store, grabs something off the Church Supply display, and runs to the back again. My wife didn't take much notice because that's how the girl is: she gets an urge, runs like the dickens to fulfill that urge, and then runs back to what she was doing.
Mind you: she doesn't run to do what you tell her to do, but that's another blog entry.
Anyway, after a couple of minutes, my wife hears the tinkling of glass back in the children's area, which is never a good thing -- it wasn't breaking glass, but you have to intervene early to make sure it doesn't become breaking glass when you hear what appears to be a toast to the health and well-being of Germaine Giraffeson and his lifelong confidants.
So my wife gets back into the children's area, and there's the girl with her tea party friends -- using the portable Communion set we sell (the one with 6 glass communion tumblers and the plastic squirt bottle to fill the tumblers) for her tea service.
"[innocent child], what are you doing?" asks my wife in a sort of June Cleaver kind of way.
"Mommy," says [innocent child], "I finally found out what this is for!"
"What's it's for, sweetie?"
"Mommy: this is Jesus's lunch box!"
Now I ask you: was she actually wrong?
I think Steve Camp has a lot of nerve to come to my blog, leverage the misfortunes of others to insult and denigrate people he has never met, and then retreat to his blog to complain that he has been abused when his comments were called "the dumbest thing [he] ever posted" by me.
Anyone who wants to defend him for that can go to his blog and pat him on the back. If you come here to defend ignorance, arrogance, glib moralism and self-righteous psychology, stand to notice that we clown people who say things like that.
Have at it.
In fact, it is so brilliant that it warehouses the immensely-useful (if imperfect) sermon series on church history by Pastor Tommy nelson.
You should download these right now and listen to them this week -- because I know you didn't have anything else to do.
Frank:And I called it "[maybe] the dumbest thing [he] ever posted."
As unfortunate as this is, this comes as no surprise.
This is the tragic byproduct of when a Christianly based company with a Christ-centered mission statement is bought out, owned and operated by a secular company; as when Hallmark purchased DaySpring in 1999. To a company like Hallmark, this is simple bottom-line business.
This is what I wrote about in the 107 THESES in section six concerning the unequally-yoked business relationships within Christian Music and Christian Publishing. When this happens, it's only about money; not ministry. We can't fault a non-believing world to understand this; nor can we fault them for wanting to buy up "hot" economically solvent Christian companies. But we can fault the believers, who for the sake of more distribution or mainstream shelf space, would compromise their faith and God's Word by giving up control to non-Christians over their spiritual ministry or enterprise.
DaySpring is no exception here. Again, to a billion dollar, multinational company like Hallmark, this is just business. But to the lives of those being affected - it can be devastating.
I will be praying for you all during this time of unfortunate economic cuts.
Steve doesn't think that's true, and to head off his fans who will stop by to tell me what a bad man I am:
 I didn't call Steve "dumb", I called his comment "dumb", as in "maybe the dumbest thing among all the dumb things he has said". I didn't know it was a secret that I thought Steve Camp said dumb things; if it was, the gig is up. For those who are extremely offended, I have also publicly agreed with Steve on one or two things, so let's not go to the place where I am saying "nothing Steve Camp says is useful". My problem, as it is in this case, is when Steve talks about things he thinks he knows something about, and in fact he doesn't know anything about it.
 That said, Steve has since recapitualted his statement to mean that the "dumb" thing happened when DaySpring was bought by Hallmark from Cook Communications -- in spite of the part which I underlined, above. Yeah, that's dumb only in the sense that Hallmark took DaySpring and massively-improved its annual sales, increased its workforce, recapitalized the business, and put Christian-branded product into secular spaces where a Christian message could then reach lost people.
Robert (a defender of Steve) has expressed that if Hallmark hadn't bought DS, this never would have happened. However, what Robert needs to realize is that if Hallmark hadn't bought DS 10 years ago, DaySpring might not exist today -- certainly not at the size and scope it exists today. Trying to imagine a hypothetical world in which only the bad things do not exist is, um, optimistic at best. DaySpring has benefitted massively in the last decade from its association with Hallmark, and to say that now this change -- the apparently-bad one -- is because Hallmark is a "secular" company doesn't make any sense at all.
Given that the Christian retail marketplace -- especially at the indies and the chains -- has been shrinking for the last 5 years, one has to wonder what would have happened to DaySpring if Hallmark had not bought it a decade ago. Would it have survived the massive downturn in CBA, given that this channel was its only method of distribution?
Was this good news this week? Not hardly. But was it some kind of practical outcome of bad theology? That is a completely unjustifiable statement. If Steve thinks that Christian organizations never fire anyone, I think Steve needs to get out more often -- especially to churches where the congregation is shrinking and the pastoral staff is too large.
His prayers are welcome, and your prayers are welcome -- but don't come here trying to score cheap points by railing against secularist or syncretist bogie men who, in this case, are nowhere to be found. He's trading on the lives of people he doesn't know, and in circumstances he really has no information about, to advance his personal agenda, and I'd prefer he simply shut up. Prov 11:12, Prov 12:1 and Prov 17:28 and all that, for those who need a proof-text.
UPDATED: Apparently I didn;t go into enough detail as to why commentor "Robert" was also full of beans, so here is my response to him as well:
Yeah, my new post didn't answer Robert at all.
FrankBeing a person who has first-hand knowledge of the affair in question dispells that, Robert. Let's see if I can help you along.
I don't think what Steve posted was dumb at all. Being an older pastor who is concerned about Christian companies being owned by nonbelievers, I thought he made sense.
If DaySpring was owned and operated by Christians before they sold it to Hallmark in 1999, would this scenario and outcome have been the same? Per the articles you linked to, probably not.In one sense, I am sure you are right: many things about DaySpring would be different if, 10 years ago, Hallmark had not acquired it. For example, David C. Cook may have chosen to spin DS off on its own in the form of an employee buyout, leaving DS significantly under-capitalized and unable to grow in sales as it has since 1999. It would also have left DS in a position of being almost exclusively being sold into CBA stores, which in the last 10 years went from owning almost all of the $4 billion in Christian retail sales to owning less than half of that.
And then there's the question of what Hallmark might have done if it hadn't bought DS. For example, it might have spent the money it spent to buy DS to brand its own Christian line, competing with deep pockets against DS and Cook which never had deep pockets. Would DS have survived that? I wonder.
In that, I suggest you read those articles again with something other than filtered glasses. Hallmark has frankly been a friend to DS since the beginning of the buy-out, and while this news is sad, it's not hardly about the "secularization" of Christian businesses.
I would like to know your thoughts to the following questions: how do you feel about working for a company that is unequally yoked with nonbelievers?Out of charity, Robert, I ignored your question -- becuase it ranks in the same league as Steve's original comment.
"unequally yoked"? Is this the calibre of advice you give to your church when they ask you for advice about employment -- that they shouldn't work for or with "unbelievers"? Are you willing to say that the Hall family, and all the families at Hallmark who are in the executive ranks, are plainly and in the 2 Cor 6 meaning "unbelievers"? How would you know?
Your question is merely a veiled insult -- tossed out from ignorance and not at all from even rumors or third-hand knowledge, and I might add to protect Steve for some reason which only you might be able to really explain.
Why not simply admit that Steve is wrong rather than accuse "Hallmark" of being a "secular" company in the way you must mean to interject the 2 Cor 6 standard here?
Is that a point of compromise for you or a moot point?Yes, that must be it: I am a compromiser, and Steve is not. Toss the faith out for some magic beans is what I always say -- especially to people who are losing their jobs. You didn't need Jesus anyway -- Hallmark is a better savior. That sort of advice is all over my blog, and in my interactions with the people I work with. Just go look and see it.
Is 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1 cited only referring to faith issues or does it affect those with whom we might partner in business as well?Since you asked, Robert, here's the passage you are trying to leverage:
- Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
"I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty."
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
If you think it says otherwise, I suggest that we have an extended conversation about what it means to have access to the internet, possess and trade in money, live in any city in the United States, or any of a number of things which are frankly as-ridiculous as the idea that you can work for or with unbelievers.
Does that help? I hope it does. And I hope those who have more questions ask them so I can answer them with equal zeal.
Theology wonks: grab a sandwich.
I was able to crack open a few books last night regarding the matter of Scripture and whether it says anything of particular use, and I have a few thoughts on the matter which might be of value to the blog.
The first is this: anyone who is willing to either read or write has no business contesting the ability of the writer/reader relationship to take meaning from one end of the process and transmit it to the other end. I’m sorry: while I agree that in the strictest sense language is analogical, analogy is not a process by which the “real clear” meaning is lost or obscured beyond utility. We all love Van Til and Frame as brothers in Christ, but I agree with Robert Reymond when he says this:
- Christians should be overwhelmed by the magnitude of this simple truth that they take so much for granted – that the eternal God has deigned to share with us some of the truths which are on his mind. He condescends to elevate us poor undeserving sinners by actually sharing with us a portion of what he knows. Accordingly, since the Scripture require that saving faith be grounded in true knowledge (see Rom 10:13-14), the church must vigorously oppose any linguistic or revelational theory, however well-intended, that would take away from men and women the only ground of their knowledge of God and, accordingly, their only hope of salvation. Against the theory of human knowledge that would deny the possibility pf univocal correspondence at any point with God’s mind as to content, it is vitally important that we come down on the side of Christian reason and work with a Christian theory of knowledge that insists upon the possibility of at least some identity between the content of God’s knowledge and the content of man’s knowledge.
(Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 1998, Thomas Nelson, 102)(Italics from Reymond, underlined emphasis added)
- The Scripture’s doctrine of Scripture, espousing its own revelatory and inspired character, binds us to the grammatical/historical method of exegesis. … that each biblical document and each part of any given biblical document must be studied in its immediate literary context and the wider situation in which it was written. This will require an understanding of (1) the structure and idioms of the biblical languages, (2) a document’s literary genre (is it prose or poetry, history or allegory, parable or apocalypse?), (3) the document’s historical background, (4) its geographical conditions, and (5) its Sitz und Leben (“life-setting”), that is, what occasioned it? What problem or question did it intend to address? (Reymond, 49)
So what is the point of confessing that language is analogical? What does one actually mean by confessing that? Here’s what I mean, and you can take it for what it’s worth as it agrees with fellows like Gordon Clark and J.I. Packer: it is a terrible mistake to think that language is the thing itself, but it is equally damaging in the systematic sense to think that analogy, as Van Til has said, has no point of contact with the thing itself.
Reymond gives Clark’s example of knowledge about King David, but I’m going to offer another one which, I think, accounts for “more parts” of the problem. Let’s say that Timothy is in Ephesus, and of course God knows Timothy is in Ephesus. But Timothy is thinking about Jerusalem for a moment as he reads Paul’s letters, and he turns to face Jerusalem for whatever reason. Of course, Timothy does not have a GPS or even a geographically-exact map, so when he turns to face Jerusalem he turns roughly Southeast and thinks about the city.
Now think on this a second: God knows Timothy is in Ephesus, and knows that Jerusalem exists not at exactly 45º East off the North-South Longitude but more like 47.5º, so when Timothy is facing Southeast, he certainly does not know the position of Jerusalem as God does – he knows the position of Jerusalem “analogically”, which is to say well enough to get there from here, but not ontologically or categorically.
But there is a problem with taking this fact – that Timothy’s knowledge of Jerusalem is not as complete as God’s – and concluding that Timothy and God share no points of contact regarding the truth: both Timothy and God know that Jerusalem exists. In fact, they both know that Jerusalem and Timothy exist. Thus while Timothy’s knowledge of Jerusalem may be analogous to God’s knowledge of Jerusalem, it is illegitimate to say that God and Timothy share no qualitative coincidence. Timothy can know what Jerusalem is, and if he is there, even if he cannot know (as God does) how many people are there at any particular moment or at what point in redemptive history exactly Jerusalem finds itself in during Timothy’s lifetime – the hour and the day, so to speak.
This truth is underscored by Reymond who makes this particular point
- What I am urging here is that the success of any analogy turns on the strength of the univocal element in it. Or as Edward John Carnell has stated, the basis for any analogy is the nonagalogical, that is, the univocal.(97)
So what’s the point? I think there are at least three:
(1) Opting to advance the position that Scripture truth is analogical truth (which I would do) is not the same thing as saying that univocal truth is obscured in such a way that man must find some other co-validators to help achieve some degree of certainty about a given text.
(2) Understanding the basis for analogy – which is, for those keeping score, foundational at its core – allows us to receive analogical data in epistemologically-reliable ways.
(3) Because the source (that is, God) of the analogy we are speaking of (that is, the Bible) is actually a univocal source and also the source of the actual truth being represented (that is, God), there is a strong basis to approach the text without fear of distortion, given the orthodox presupposition that the testimony of the Holy Spirit, removing the blindness of sin, allows man to see the testimony of Scripture.
I have to get ready for work now. I’m sure this will come up again.
Please pray for the friends, families, co-workers and communities effected by these events.