Obviously 2 Opinions 9:11, for the verse wonks.
They are against climate change, but not against violent uprising.
The Copenhagen climate change conference appeared to be imploding from within and exploding from without on Wednesday.After you stop laughing at that last word there, feel free to brandish your batons in the meta.
Police fired tear gas, brandished batons and detained more than 200 protesters who tried to push through the security cordon around the Bella Center, as negotiations inside bogged down, for the second time this week, over differences between China and the West over emissions, funding issues and transparency.
Merry Christmas. Throw another log on the fire for me.
It doesn’t seem that a majority of the voices I heard on a day of Catholic radio have a sense of how the church itself, and the mysteries of Christ, the church and personal faith, are experienced differently in Roman Catholic spirituality as compared to Protestantism. The reformation isn’t just a historical and doctrinal event. There has developed a significantly different experience of the church, the Gospel and the Christian life in these two traditions. It’s not simply a multiple choice question, but two very different ways of living, trusting and being a Christian. Overlooking this is a real mistake. It isn’t easy to talk about, but I’m convinced that, at the end of the day, it has to be counted far more important than most make it.Good on him, and please continue to keep him in your prayers. I know he and I have not always been chummy, but I am honestly filled with pity for him right now and am asking God for more than just emotional peace: may God heal Michael and be powerful to save from disease.
Now, it is one thing to have others write commendations of you for a book cover or conference brochure - perhaps necessary evils in the cut-throat world of publishing and conferences; and nobody should believe them, least of all the objects of such patent flannel; but to say it about yourself implies that you might actually believe the propaganda, that maybe you yourself are just a wee bit arrogant and smug. And, remember, this chap wasn't even Reformed. I shudder to think how much worse he might be if he endorsed the Westminster Standards or the Three Forms of Unity. One can only assume that the kind of man who describes himself on his own website as "witty" is likely to be the same kind of man who laughs at his own jokes and, quite probably, claps himself at the end of his own speeches - behaviour that was previously the exclusive preserve of politicians, Hollywood stars, and chimpanzees.The emphasis is mine. The laughs and the awe at the mastery of the moother tongue is yours.
I don't want to offend the weaker brothers.
I could do without the exploding cross in the middle, but it's the best 5 minutes you'll spend on the internet today.
They don't know me. The dad there is Matt. Pray about his brain -- it'd be OK if he's waiting to find out the previous brain scan was a mistake. That's enough of a miracle.
Lord: any miracle will do.
Is that awesome or what? Fred Phelps and John MacArthur are the same -- except for their style.
What would we do without Facebook?
So at what point does Al Gore have to give his Nobel back?
Can we now dispose of the myth of peer-reviewed climate science which points to an unequivocal human cause for an alleged unprecedented spike in global temperatures?
I was just waiting a bit to make sure the hacked e-mails weren't made up e-mails instead. When the Telegraph is reporting this stuff, the gig is up.
I am also going to burn some styrofoam cups out in my back yard this long weekend to celebrate.
Well, they say that a Turkey recipe will get hits this close to the season, so I'm going to give you my recipe for roasting a Turkey in order to add content that everyone can use to the blog.
You do not have to be "truly reformed" to use this recipe. You just have to like Turkey and stuffing.
Roasting a turkey isn't as hard as it sounds. Here's a basic recipe to get you started. In this case, the turkey is stuffed. DO NOT stuff the turkey and put it in the fridge overnight: that's bacteriologically a bad idea, and we want you all to enjoy Thanksgiving on the sofa, not on a hospital gurney.
12- to 14-lb. turkey, thawed if purchased frozen
1 bag, your favorite "Italian" croutons
2-4 bouillon cubes
2-3 stalks, celery, chopper or cubed
1 cup carrots, chopped
½ cup onions, finely chopped
1 tsp, dried parsley
1 cup, cashews (Mrs. Cent prefers walnuts; use the nut you enjoy most)
Pepper and Garlic Salt
- Preheat your oven to 325. Remove the cooking racks, then place one rack into oven at the lowest position.
- Unwrap your THAWED Turkey in a clean sink, and remove the giblets – that bag of stuff that you never thought you would use for anything because it looks gross. It's not gross. You may have to unhook the metal clip which holds the legs together in order to get all the giblets out; you may have to run some warm water into the bird to get the giblets out. Don't be afraid.
- Start a medium-sized pot of water boiling – not more than 3 cups. Put your packet of giblets in the water (sans wrapping paper), along with your bouillon cubes and the onions, carrots, celery and parlsey. (FWIW, the leafy parts of the celery are great for this recipe, so don;t get squeemish) 2 boullion cubes will make a somewhat-mild flavored stuffing; 6 will make a very salty and spicy stuffing. You know what you like best, so add the cubes to the low end of your tolerance for spicy. For your reference, I usually use 4 cubes. Boil this mix for about 30 minutes – long enough to cook the giblets thoroughly.
- While the soup (yes: you very smart readers knew that we were making soup, didn't you?) is cooking, wash the Turkey thoroughly, inside and out. I wouldn't use soap as you might miss a spot in the rinse and ruin your hours of hard work here, but washing the bird is an important health safety tip. If we were deep frying the bird (that's the Christmas recipe), washing is pretty much unimportant because if some germ can survive the deep fryer, it will kill you before you eat any of the dinner. Anyway, clean the bird thoroughly and put it in a large roasting pan. For this recipe, the deeper the roasting pan, the better. I suggest a large disposable roasting pan from WAL*MART even though it might possibly ring up at the wrong price.
If you get bored waiting for the soup to finish up, this would be a good time to rub salt and pepper into the skin of your bird. Visually, salt and pepper the skin so that it looks like very light TV static. Do the top (the breast side) and the bottom (where the shoulders are); do not worry if you put less on the breast side. Because of the way this bird is going to cook, pay special attention to salting and peppering the wings and drumsticks.
- You now have a clean, prepped bird and a very delicious-smelling pot of soup. You have to make stuffing now. Remove the soup from the heat and remove the giblets. If you are a complete carnivore (like me), take the fully-cooked giblets to your food chopper and chop them up and put them back into the soup (you can't chop up the neck, but if you have 20 minutes, de-bone the neck and put your neck meat into the soup).
Those of you grossed out by chopping up the giblets can throw them away. The rest of us will weep for you.
Now empty the bag of croutons into the soup. If you used about 2 cups of water, you will get a somewhat-damp bread-and-soup mixture; if you used about 3 cups of water, you will get a very wet bread-and-soup mixture. I like the latter better, but some people like their stuffing more dry than others. The extraordinary secret here is that a soupier stuffing makes for a more-moist bird in the final product. After the soup and the bread are well- mixed, add the cashews and mix again.
- When you have this mixing complete, use a tablespoon and start loading the stuffing into the bird. Pack the stuffing down into the bird to get the cavity of the body completely full of stuffing. Don't leave any air pockets. Once the Turkey is completely stuffed, position it in the roasting tray breast-side down (I learned that from watching Emeril) in the center of the pan, and load the pan with the rest of your stuffing mix.
- Cover the Turkey, and place it inside your oven. After 2 hours in the heat, remove the cover and roast for another hour. In this final hour, the skin of the exposed parts should turn golden brown. At the end of the third hour, test the bird with a meat thermometer; the center temperature should be 175-180 degrees F. It will be the most unbelievable bird you ever ate.
The tweet stream looks like this:
Actually, it all started when maBoo johnMark tweeted: “Commented on Is salvation available for all men? / Reason To Stand http://tinyurl.com/yl4vf4w”
To which I replied: “@hereiblog -'available'? Where does the Bible say salvation is 'available'? That's a bad category.”
And the exchange with kai5263499 ensued.
 The act of “saving” in the Bible is not something that is somehow procured by the one being saved. This is a critical foundational point which most people don’t get – and it’s not just a reformed systematic thing. This is about how the Bible spells out what Salvation is, and it is something God does.
 That means that “salvation” is not merely “available”. Consider, for example, Acts 4 (exp. Acts 4:12), or Phil 1 (esp 1:28). Salvation there is not a commodity which you go get. Salvation has at its source a savior who is bringing it and who makes it happen. Salvation is brought; salvation is delivered; salvation is made; salvation is announced. It is not in some way procured.
 Now consider this carefully: a Savior is available. That is, the place from which salvation comes is made known to all men through the Gospel. Consider Acts 17 in that regard – Paul says that because Jesus is raised from the dead, the time of ignorance about God is over.
 In that, it might be right to say that Jesus is available -- although again: I think this soft-soaks the entire force and hope of the Gospel. To say that Jesus is only “available” makes it seem as if Jesus is passive in His role – but Jesus Himself says that He came to seek and to save and to serve. Jesus is not merely “available” to men.
So what this question of whether “salvation is available” or not drives me to is “why ask the question in these plainly-casual terms?” That is: what is achieved by asking about salvation in the category of “availability” rather than in some other biblical category – such as the necessity of salvation, or the motive of salvation, or the source of salvation, or the consequences of salvation (and there are more categories, but you get the idea)?
Why frame “salvation” in terms of its “availability”? I suspect the goal is to cause the person who is listening to consider the convenience of salvation, therefore encouraging him to do what they call in retail, which is to make an “impulse buy”. That is: it looks good right now, and it’s easy to get one, so I’ll just put it in my cart.
It’s available: I’ll take one.
Let me say: that’s a horrible reason to choose Christ. It undermines His greatness and our lack which only he can fill up; it minimizes our offenses and His great mercy. It minimizes the cost of discipleship and the cost of the sacrifice made. Framing the Gospel in terms of “availability” is a minimization of all the necessary attributes of salvation, and makes opportunistic buyer out of people who are dying in their sins.
You can’t explain something like that in twitter. But that’s why I have a blog.
Even though the temperature standstill probably has no effect on the long-term warming trend, it does raise doubts about the predictive value of climate models, and it is also a political issue. For months, climate change skeptics have been gloating over the findings on their Internet forums. This has prompted many a climatologist to treat the temperature data in public with a sense of shame, thereby damaging their own credibility.Uh huh.
"It cannot be denied that this is one of the hottest issues in the scientific community," says Jochem Marotzke, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. "We don't really know why this stagnation is taking place at this point."
Take THAT, Bono.
Most of those are not Christian books, you understand. I wonder how many of those can be considered artistic -- let along "good art". I'd grant them all "good craft" for binding and distribution, but good art?
You tell me.
Now raise your right hand, keep your foot circling, and draw the number "6" in the air just like they taught you in kindergarten.
Yeah: I don't believe it either.
Etymology: French, hypocrite, bigot
1: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
2: (slang) a title assigned to a point of view with which once cannot be reconciled; usually, for the sake of gaining the moral high ground.
— big·ot·ed \-gə-təd\ adjective
— big·ot·ed·ly adverb
All fiction is not bad. All art is not bad. But there is bad fiction and bad art, as described above.And in the tumult which ensued, we really got to the heart of the question because you are the smartest readers in the blogosphere. Logan crashed through the brick wall when he posted this:
And in this, we need to think about this carefully: is there, therefore, bad music?
Here's the deal-breaker for me.To which I provided the following definition:
Frankly, Frank, if we all go by the definition of "bad music" as being morally wrong rather than aesthetically wrong; you will have us standing up and cheering you on more than Pelosi whenever Obama utters a syllable.
I was actually reading through Blackaby's book on spiritual leadership for a small group and because he doesn't define stuff, the philosophy major (who'd been reading Locke, who is an avid definer of terms, just before he started reading Blackaby) had a horrible time drudging through the lack of definitions and vagueness.
let us define.
- Main Entry: aesthetic
Variant(s): also esthetic
1 plural but sing or plural in constr : a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty
2 : a particular theory or conception of beauty or art : a particular taste for or approach to what is pleasing to the senses and especially sight [modernist aesthetics] [staging new ballets which reflected the aesthetic of the new nation — Mary Clarke & Clement Crisp]
3 plural : a pleasing appearance or effect : beauty [appreciated the aesthetics of the gemstones]
So the answer to the question "is there bad music?" must be YES if you are a Christian. It "must be" because, as William Lane Craig points out, beauty is not defined by scientific means, nor strictly or primarily by means of consensus. It is something like "Truth" which has, at its root, God as its source. Disconnecting Beauty from God is, simply another kind of idolatry.
So the next question is this:
Is all bad art a moral offense?
You work on that and we'll take it up later.
And he's giving books away. Go get some.
Yeah, look: I don't need more than 4 hours of sleep a night. That's why I accepted the responsibility of owning the hallowed URL CalvinistGadfly.com.
I am accepting suggestions at this time, btw, for how to fill the bandwidth.
But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.It's going to come up. Keep this available for future review.
The only reason I'm sharing it is that it is my favorite memory of college. It also relates to the idea of good art vs. bad art.
So you enjoy that while I get my life caught up and I can blog like I mean it.
This, btw, is why "emerg*" is a failure: this may be the dumbest 55 seconds of video ever produced (including all the rest of YouTube) regarding the state and future of human history, and yet it's been published as a way to spark new life into the "church".
Blah blah blah indeed. Honestly: how do you parody this?
Of course, he ignored me because back then I was just a blogger, and of course I am still just a blogger; sadly, he is still shooting his mouth off. You can see how over at youTube. I'd embed the video, but it would be 3 minutes of your life that you'll never get back. Here are, instead, the lyrics to that song:
You say you always treat people like you like to beBecause of course: cursing at people -- especially traditionally-religious people -- is how to get them to listen to you.
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
You love when people put words in your mouth
'Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak
'Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
You wouldn't be so damn reckless with the words you speak
Wouldn't silently conceal when the liars speak
Denyin' all the dyin' of the remedy
Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?
If I can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it's about
It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
Like chasin' the wind while the pendulum swings
'Cause we can talk and debate until we're blue in the face
About the language and tradition that he's comin' to save
Meanwhile we sit just like we don't give a s---
About 50,000 people who are dyin' today
Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?
Now obviously: this is a song about the socially-conservative approach to the matter of homosexuality in the world, and especially in the US. And it's supposed to be about how we deny the Gospel by hating people who are homosexuals. We are, of course, very bad people -- because we argue when someone says something we disagree with.
But the underlying problem for Derek Webb's point is that it is factually bunk. Let's keep in mind as I spell this out that I'm the guy who wrote this post regarding our approach to the question of homosexuality.
As I read Webb's lyrics, here's what I think he's saying: we are more worried about winning an argument about some theological point than we are about saving the lives of 50,000 people every day. Fair enough: I have said something like this recently myself.
Well, just from the place of finding a fact to agree on, about 6800 people die in the US every day (about 19 per hour); about 146,000 die globally every day (about 17 per hour). Relative to the AIDS pandemic, the UN says about 5500 people die every day of AIDs globally.
And I say that not to win an argument -- and therefore fall into the "like ministry" trap Webb has laid out for his listener (you know: you have better things to do than think about my complaint, like ministry -- which I will therefore define for you) -- but in fact to point out that Webb has a history of playing it fast and loose with what is actually happening in the world -- especially the Christian world, and the English-speaking Christian sub-culture. It cuts into his credibility as a critic when he can't actually frame up his fusses with something that looks like what is actually happening.
But that said, it's more than a little cheeky to blame Christians for people dying since it is a well-documented fact that we do more for the world than any other sociological group in terms of charitable giving and service (check the links about in my old comments about Webb; the links to stats are there). And it is way more than cheeky to say that the reason gay people die of AIDS is that Christians hate them.
But these two things are completely related: they assume that Christians are the problem. Now, I'll be the first to affirm that we are our own worst enemy, and that amateur apologists do more to hard the cause of Christ than help it. I've said it myself that 80% of Christian apologetics needs to take a permanent holiday. But when someone like Derek Webb wants to hammer the Church for somehow not caring about people who are dying, he's simply wrong -- he's simply blathering slander against his own brothers and sisters.
BTW, I enjoyed the tweet today from someone who said, "I know nothing re: @derekwebb or @phil_johnson_ I DO know God would rather you cuss than be a prick http://twurl.nl/fgnojs". Let me suggest to that person that when you cuss to make a slanderous point for the sake of allegedly convicting someone of sin, you have become the prick you think you hate.
And this does actually relate to the question of bad art and bad songs. It is, however, an excursus. I’ll try to get back to the real thing tomorrow.
Orwell turns over in grave.
or, Why Freedom of Speech is Important
For those not following closely, this also has to do with "Bad Art". I'll get back to that ASAP.
And before we get started here: in your car, I can’t stop you from listening to whatever it is you want to listen to. I wouldn’t bother to try. You want to rock out with your frock out, or get your wizzle all fo-dizzle, or play Lawrence Welk or listen to books on CD – you live as Christ convicts you. I have been known to secretly listen to Thin Lizzy, Ben Folds and even Black Sheep on my iPod, so let’s not pretend that I’m being some kind of prude here, or worse: some kind of legalist/hypocrite.
But here’s the thing: the argument has been foisted out that “it’s not the tool, it’s how you use it” which has frankly poked me in the eye, so I’m going to drop in a few hundred words here on the subject and then let all comers do what they will.
In the first place, that maxim is simply a dodge. It seeks to escape all kinds of things – like whether or not something is inherently sinful. Not to be crass, but there is no good use for porn – not one moral credit to be made to porn in any circumstance. So we have at least one good example of a tool which is a bad tool. Here’s a short list of others before anyone gets the idea that we’re talking the exceptions and not the rules:
So plainly: some things are bad tools. But what about “art”? Seriously: am I going to here rationalize that Art is itself a bad tool?
Look at this blog, for crying out loud: I am all about Art as a tool.
The problem is that all Art is not created equal. For example, I would say plainly that propaganda is a form of art which is inherently bad – because it uses the truth-telling power of art to inspire confidence in falsehood. One should not participate in using art to promulgate lies or half-truths for the sake of manipulating people’s opinions or actions.
And in that, I can’t imagine anyone would deny such a thing – especially someone who’s positioning himself as a Christian or a “biblical thinker”. It’s simply a premise of revelation, or God's act of self-testimony: that somehow what is expressed must in its own right be representative of what is true. I’d list proof texts here, but how many times does the Bible have to forbid and condemn lying before we get the message that all violations of the truth are immoral?
Now, this creates a rabbit trail which we need to give a special treatment to: fiction. Is all fiction a lie? Some people think so – in fact, someone is bound to accuse me of such a stupid thing if I don’t chase this rabbit here and now. Here’s what I think: unless Psalm 1 is a description of a historical event, then the Bible has at least one clear case of drawing a hypothetical, metaphorical image which uses analogy as a tool for reasoning. And in that, the Bible demonstrates to us how fiction can be about something which never happened in history but points us to truth which is in history and among people and from God.
All fiction is not bad. All art is not bad. But there is bad fiction and bad art, as described above.
And in this, we need to think about this carefully: is there, therefore, bad music?
I’ll be back later in the week to discuss that. You see what you can come up with in the comments.
This is a guy who publicly denies the existence of the Holocaust, and is trying to gain a place at the Nuclear weapons table.
She's lucky he didn't pull out a cane and beat her for dressing like that in public in defiance of Sharia Law.
He's the enemy, Katie: not a misunderstood and ignorant dupe.
Also see Bishop Hill's reporting of this story.
An throw another log on the fire for me, yo. It's cold over here.
I know everyone and his uncle has linked to that stuff already, but just in case you missed it, there it is.
One other thing about all that -- DG is sort of distinguishing itself as a media organization. The quality of the speakers, the topics they handled, and from a geek-speak standpoint the quality of the audio and the speed with which it all made it to the interwebs here is frankly staggering.
Somebody started up on something in the comments, and I wanted to put this up to sort of stop that. I'll talk through it later when I have time to give it the proper nuance, but for now let me say 3 things:
 Everyone in the church is not in the kingdom in the soteriological sense.
 All of the church is not in the kingdom in the eschatological sense.
 Every human being who has ever lived is either in the set "church" or the set "not church" in both the eschatological sense and the soteriological sense, but the set which includes "not church" but "kingdom" with regard to people is a null set.
I am sure that will have saved no one in the final account. But it needed to be said.
Well, yes. Yes: in fact I have 3.
From Rev 1:
- John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
And I say this because again in Rev 5 we see this scene in heaven:
- And they sang a new song, saying,
"Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth."
And the reference I would find most interesting in Heb 12:
- At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
That doesn’t abolish any already/not-yets we might want to discuss, but it does sort of limit the distance one can got o say that somehow the Kingdom is not already in or among the church.
I'm with Pastor Ray, and you should be, too. Prove it by being with the Lord's people on the Lord's day in the Lord's house this week. You know: the real Lord who really does save.
You know: obviously. Right?
A long-term feature of my blog has been Halsocan comments, and a company called "JS-Kit" bought Halsocan about a year ago. It turns out they really bought the user base of haloscan and they have apparently set their sites on tormenting us, the users of haloscan, by obscoleting the system.
So here's your fair warning: if you ever said anything in the comments of my blog which you thought was somewhat worth saving, this would be a good time to find those comments and save them in another place.
You can find your comments by going to Google, and typing this into the search field:
+"[my user name]" site:www.haloscan.com/comments/centuri0n
Don't say I didn't warn ya. I have a real fear that when they come and upgrade the comments, we're going to be wailing and gnashing teeth like somebody killed our dog and served him to us as meat loaf.
One of our readers over there said this:
It’s well accepted that 1 Peter 3:15 forms the basis for the entire concept of apologetics. But for our purpose, let’s keep it simple, without straying into the specific aspects of apologetics theory.And to that I say “poppycock”.
Before I tread one word further in my disabusing of that fallacy, I know that this verse is one of the theme verses of Alpha Omega Ministries, and it’s important to note two things about their use of that verse:
 They do not say about it what this reader said about it, and
 They use it exactly as Peter does use it, not anticipating that every Christian will be a debating machine.
So when this reader says his piece here about 1Pet 3:15, he’s putting himself out on a limb which, if he were an adequate apologist and a reasonable commentator, he wouldn’t do. This verse is not hardly “the entire basis for the concept of apologetics”. And frankly, I’m not the first one to say so. Here’s the Geneva Study Bible on this passage:
He will have us, when we are afflicted for righteousness sake, to be careful not for redeeming of our life, either with denying or renouncing the truth, or with like violence, or any such means: but rather to give an account of our faith boldly, and yet with a meek spirit, and full of godly reverence, that the enemies may not have anything justly to object, but may rather be ashamed of themselves.”Here’s the emminant John Gill on the same passage:
Now, a ‘reason’ of this is to be given; not that they are to account for the Gospel, upon the foot of carnal reason; for that is not of men, nor according to the carnal reason of men. Nor is it to be thought that every Christian should be capable of defending the Gospel, either in whole, or in part, by arguments and reasons, in a disputatious way, or to give a reason and argument for every particular truth, but that he should be well acquainted with the ground and foundation of the Christian religion. At least, with the first principles of the oracles of God, and be conversant with the Scriptures, and be able to point out that in them, which is the reason of his holding this and the other truth, though he is not able to give a gainsayer satisfaction, or to stop his mouth.And for laughs, here’s John Calvin on that passage:
And this is to be done with meekness and fear; with meekness, before men; in an humble modest way; not with an haughty air, and in a morose and surly manner, which serves only to irritate and provoke: and with fear; either of God, and so the Ethiopic Version renders it, with the fear of the Lord. Considering the subject of the argument, and the importance of it, and how much the honour of God is concerned in it; and taking care lest the answer should be delivered in a light, trifling, and negligent manner, and that no part of truth be dropped or concealed, in order to please men, and be screened from their resentments; or with all due reverence of, and respect to men, to superiors, to the civil magistrates, who may ask the reason; for they are to be treated with honour and esteem, and to be answered in an handsome and becoming manner, suitable to the dignity of their persons and office ...
But it ought to be noticed, that Peter here does not command us to be prepared to solve any question that may be mooted; for it is not the duty of all to speak on every subject. But it is the general doctrine that is meant, which belongs to the ignorant and the simple. Then Peter had in view no other thing, than that Christians should make it evident to unbelievers that they truly worshipped God, and had a holy and good religion. And in this there is no difficulty, for it would be strange if we could bring nothing to defend our faith when any one made inquiries respecting it. For we ought always to take care that all may know that we fear God, and that we piously and reverently regard his legitimate worship.You know: because we say we’re “Calvinists”, right?
This was also required by the state of the times: the Christian name was much hated and deemed infamous; many thought the sect wicked and guilty of many sacrileges. It would have been, therefore, the highest perfidy against God, if, when asked, they had neglected to give a testimony in favor of their religion. And this, as I think, is the meaning of the word apology, which Peter uses, that is, that the Christians were to make it evident to the world that they were far off from every impiety, and did not corrupt true religion, on which account they were suspected by the ignorant.
What this passage is talking about – as these learned men make clear – is that Peter is not establishing the office of apologist here: Peter is calling the believer to respond in trial and persecution with the testimony of the Gospel and not the mace and broadsword of argumentation.
You’re not trying to shut anyone up if you abide by 1Pet 3:15, but the only way to see that is to see how Peter has positioned this statement in his larger exhortation.
- Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. [ESV]
But the next thing we have to notice here is that there’s no fear motive in this passage. Peter actually says, “have no fear”, right? So the reason for doing whatever it is one is doing here is the motive to honor Christ.
That is not to say it would be just a bunch of blubbering when you’re in trouble – but it is to say that Peter is here saying that whatever it is you will do, it will be “good behavior” which put slanders and reviling “to shame”.
And let me suggest something to you about “a reason for the hope that is in you”: When Peter does this at Pentecost, it’s not a philosophical display of forensic acumen. When Stephen does it at his stoning, he didn’t appeal to the Cosmological argument. When Paul was at Mars Hill or before Agrippa, we didn’t address the existential matter of the problem of evil.
To these men – who are our examples – the “defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” is that Christ has died and risen from the dead.
If that’s what you want to call “apologetics”, then it turns out you are saying what I am saying. But look around you – seriously: look at all the “apologists” running around starting fights for Jesus with unbelievers. Is that what Peter was talking about here – being the WWE champion of apologetics for Jesus?
There’s no way that’s what Peter’s talking about here – yet that’s what most “lay apologists” for the faith do every day. Let’s stop doing what we want to do here and start doing what Peter actually asks us to do here – and stop pretending that we’re “apologists”. Let’s be disciples first, and foremost, and crawl out of our books and walk into people’s lives in a way that actually causes them to ask us what kind of hope causes that – in an unironic way.
And be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day in the Lord’s house this weekend. You don’t need to apologize for anything when you start there.
Here's why I'm blogging it. In that piece, Tim said this:
I wondered, had I always been fair to Warren? As David and I spoke it suddenly dawned on me that Rick Warren is a real person. He isn’t a robot or a really clever computer who spits out books and sermons, but a real guy. And as a real guy, he is aware of some of the controversy that surrounds him—including reviews and articles written by the likes of me. And as I’ve often had to do in the past, I had to pause to consider whether I would say to Warren face-to-face what I’ve said about him in my reviews and articles. This is not to say that I’ve ever accused Warren of heresy or torturing kittens. But I have commented on the nature, the completeness of the gospel he preaches—surely a topic that is close to his heart.And it seems to me that this is the new mea culpa on the internet these days: "I just suddenly realized [fill in here] is a real person -- I never thought of that before."
Oh heaven, please.
In a day and age when we periodically get lectures about "incarnational living" and all manner of word-made-flesh moralisms, when someone starts up with the tom-foolery that they just now realized they were taking to or about flesh and blood and not to one of the Decepticons or a monster from a Hellboy movie, I have to refrain from starting a controversy about my own language.
We don't refute Dr. Doom, do we? We don't evangelize him or take him seriously. He's in a green cape and an iron mask for pete's sake. that's how we treat people who are not real to us: as objects of entertainment. And if you haven't done this, you're not guilty of objectifying anyone, so don't give me your phony unburdening -- it's patronizing.
And that's not just for Challies -- that's for all of you out there who are trying to show me how self-aware you are. "I just realized they are people," is something a 16-yr-old can say credibly. If you have had kids or have been married for long enough to have at least one good fight where you were flat-out wrong, you know people are real. You have the equipment. If you're just now using it, you have a lot more to apologize for than merely giving Saddleback an elbow to the ribcage.
I'm a real person, too: be civil enough to me to avoid this kind of sentimentality and second-rate self-examination.
I've never heard of you. And logically I can't make sense of you.
And I mean you personally -- I have plied my logic to the question of you, and I don't see the logical necessity of "you", so-called.
Am I therefore justified to disbelieve in you and be an agnostic or atheist about you personally?
That's a dragon. If that link is dead, try this pdf.
And don't say I never post any Fing Fang Foom pictures.
Can anyone find the place where the wheels come off his reasonableness?
Nice work, ed.
The GTY statement then goes on to say this:
This is not to suggest that these are the only circumstances under which people are permitted to leave a church. This is not to suggest that these are the only circumstances under which people are permitted to leave a church. There is certainly nothing wrong with moving one's membership just because another church offers better teaching or more opportunities for growth and service. But those who transfer their membership for such reasons ought to take extreme care not to sow discord or division in the church they are leaving. And such moves ought to be made sparingly. Membership in a church is a commitment that ought to be taken seriously.But those who transfer their membership for such reasons ought to take extreme care not to sow discord or division in the church they are leaving. And such moves ought to be made sparingly. Membership in a church is a commitment that ought to be taken seriously.And before I say another word, let me say this in favor of this part of the statement: it is a pastorally-motivated statement which points people to treating the local church with a certain degree of dignity in spite of its flaws, and which seeks to give people good advice about how to manage their own growth in the faith. You simply cannot fault GTY for seeking to do this for people – especially given the nature of its ministry and because they are serving the larger Christian community in a way many local churches will not.
You know: many local church will not make an exposition of Scripture a key matter for Sunday worship. They will not make the task of rightly handling Scripture a matter of basic discipleship. They will not. That is: they choose not to do it on purpose.
That’s spiritually criminal in many ways. But it’s not actually heretical: it’s merely pragmatic. It is not very edifying, but it’s also not the worst a church can do. But think about this: the approach suggested by this part of this statement is not really any more pragmatic by saying that you should do what seems, in a practical sense, "better".
I read the GTY statement, and I have sympathy for what motivates it, but I wonder whether or not it’s giving advice which takes into consideration the gravity expressed in the first half of the statement. What does it mean that leaving a church is “not done lightly” if “there is certainly nothing wrong with moving one's membership just because another church offers better teaching or more opportunities for growth and service”?
I’m not sure those things mix together well. I’ll get back to that later.
One man shouting "liar" is, well, an interesting comparison.
Here's one gem from the back half of the essay:
Carrying on from this danger of personality cults, part of me also wonders if the excitement surrounding the movement is generated because people see that Reformed theology has intrinsic truth or because they see that it works, at least along the typical American lines of numbers of bodies on seats (in Britain, we'd say `bums on seats' but that phrase rather gains in translation). Now, I am no member of that theological party which sees the Lord's blessing in the fact that every year its churches are smaller, its sermons more arcane self-important and tedious, and its people less friendly and more sour. Look, if I wanted a pretentious and incomprehensibly abstract theology with an impeccable record of emptying churches, I'd convert to Barthianism, wouldn't I? Yet not reveling in smallness and irrelevance does not require that I necessarily regard increasing numerical and financial size as accurate gauges of fidelity and truth.As they say in respectable places, read the whole thing.
Frank and I have very different views on the place of ecclesiology. I have a very low ecclesiology, almost consumed by my Christology. Frank seems to have a much higher view of the church, its role and especially its leaders than I do. This really is a quite influential difference.And the reason it needs to be addressed is not because of who said it, but because I'll bet a lot of people think this way about what I believe.
So in the spirit of a proper merciless beating, let's go at it one part at a time. Ignore the cartoons as they are merely ornaments and not commentary. I have a quote to keep up.
I have a very low ecclesiology, almost consumed by my Christology.I have no idea what that means, but it seems to me that an actually-high Christology will put the affections of Christ in the right places. Mind you: I didn't say "affections for Christ but the affections belonging to Christ.
My opinion is that an adequate Christology amplifies all the christological consequences -- and in this case, that would be the church. What we think of it, how we relate to it, whether we believe in it, how we stand trial with it and toward it, whether we endure it or nurture it or abandon it.
So while Michael says his Christology overshadows the church, I would say my Christology causes me to reconsider the church from Christ's perspective. I think that's a difference of opinion based on a difference in perception about the incarnation, and to say more than that would be to say something easily misinterpreted as unkind. The "low view" of church is a classic anabaptist consequence, which many baptists share. I can't fault Michael for being in that gaggle as that is my gaggle, too.
Frank seems to have a much higher view of the church, its role and especially its leaders than I do."Yes" before the comma, not so much after the comma. I have a high view of what the leaders are called to do. I have a high view of what a man must be -- by command of Scripture -- to lead the church, spiritually and personally.
But here's the thing: I have also spent the last 20 years leading people. There is nothing worse than leading people who, frankly, will not be lead. In a secular environment, you can just fire those people when they are sufficiently insubordinate -- something I have only had to do twice. You can't fire someone from the church -- even though bad pastors do it all the time.
In that, I think that the commands of Scripture to us are really very clear: be in submission to your leaders. They are men, and they will always make plenty of mistakes. You should love them for trying to serve Christ with their whole lives rather than with just their sunday mornings and wednesday nights. When I talk about how the layman should relate to the elders of his church, it's from the perspective that these men are called to do what it says in Titus and Timothy to do, and they can't do that if they people around them have their own ideas of how to accomplish that and fight them at every turn.
The back side of that, of course, is that they are actually called and required to be good leaders who are humble before God, and humble to men, and do not lord it over people, and take the commands to Titus and Timothy seriously. It's a one-way street, with Christ directing traffic, and we all need to follow Him or else it's just a wreck.
So again, I think a high Christology, which sees Christ's incarnation as a real thing that causes the church and requires the church as a necessary consequence of Emmanuel, causes a radical view of membership and leadership which, frankly, is a wrecking ball to the CEO pastor.
My wife and I joke all the time that a pastor is more like a kindergarten teacher than a CEO. He's more like a shepherd than he is like a king. Or at least he ought to be -- and the sheep need to follow him for their own good.
This really is a quite influential difference.I do agree with that. I'd welcome a discussion about that.
 Michael has said that I have taken a private e-mail from him and turned it into a blog post. I've been through all the posts for 2009, and I can't find it. If someone can point out to me what he's talking about, I'd be grateful.
 Michael has also said that I am "obsessed" with him, and that I only blog for the traffic. I own the second half of that, as should any blogger who can report his traffic, for example, in order to gain sponsers for his blog or to sell a book deal. However, until I reviewed the last 8 months of blogging, I did not realize how much like clockwork my posts about him have been. Most of those this year have been sympathetic, but facts are facts. To my own state of mind, it was convenient to find topics at BHT and IM, and I have been especially limited in time this year. I would call the practice: sloppy; lazy; convenient; myopic; drive-by. There was by no means any ill-will intended as the content of all but the last 5 or 6 would testify (I would argue that all but that last one testify to that; but I am honestly not trying to argue now). However, it has plainly caused Michael to be offended. I stand by the content; I reject the practice. I apologize to him for making him a truck stop for my blogging benefit. It was an ill-considered practice, and I will avoid making a habit of commenting on his blogging in the future.
Turk’s closing swipe at me from the 5th post fisking me in the last two weeks:What should trouble the reader here is what the elipsis covers -- which is (as you can see below), 'Well, I think that I have listed some pretty specific content here. Anyone who calls you "not Gospel centered" should cite an example, and we can gage it from there. I could cite an example of such a thing, but oddly I wouldn't call you "not Gospel centered"'.
..so my examples of you being “not Gospel centered” would be for the benefit of trying to explain something else to you — something which, after years, you simply cannot hear. And it’s a shame, really.
And for the record, it was iMonk who said I "have to fisk him 3 times a week". I hadn't really done anything to or about him for quite a while before that -- and his randy comments about John Piper. It's been fun, but as you can see, it doesn't work really for Michael's sense of well-being. It's slander, you see, to tell him he's not half as generous or credible as he thinks he is.
Obviously, the key to my spiritual life is to receive Godly counsel from a man who continually lies and slanders me, misses no opportunity to claim knowledge of my life and motives and who entertains delusions of being God’s agent to get truth to me.Ah. The lies and the slanders. Like the lie that your interpretation of Timmy Brister's reading list is that it is too narrow -- not diverse enough.
I am sure neither you nor Timmy will be the same. For the record, Michael has e-mailed me his denial of that statement by me, and I accept it. We'll keep that on file for the next time he goes off on Young Reformed types and their narrow vision for the theological world.
Since we're setting the record straight, I see myself as a fellow blogger who, frankly, thinks you have never once in your life received a citicism you thought was constructive -- especially when you're wrong. Your tolerance for people who think you are honestly wrong can only be measured in microvolts -- which is why I send criticism in megawatts. I like to see your meter ping.
Frank, go find a pastor. Show him what you’ve written about me these many years. All of it. Look at him and tell him that you are in the will of God when you’re doing this, and I am out of it for not listening to you.Mine always has -- and still does even as I am seeking a new church. Thanks for asking. When you can return the favor, and find a pastor you can tolerate who will also tell you the truth, let the rest of us know and we'll be glad to receive your high-handed rebukes with a light dusting of credibility.
1) Does Gospel centered mean reformed? Specifically, young reformed Calvinists looking for a label that doesn’t complicate relationships with the debates about predestination and infant baptism?One of the reasons I think it's important to do these little shellackings of the author of these questions is that he seems so reasonable, doesn't he?
"Gospel centered"? Isn't that for the immature trying to form a club?
Let's put it this way: what "Gospel-centered" means is that somehow what Jesus has done is more important than, for example, denomination and politics. Anyone who wants to tell people about Jesus in any of the ways you can find in Acts (to keep the conversation inside some kind of finite boundaries) can be "Gospel-centered".
2) Does Gospel centered imply that other Christians aren’t Gospel believing? Every group of Christians I’ve been around recently- from mainline liberals to emergers and Arminian leaning evangelicals- would passionately argue that they are Gospel centered? For example, are conservative evangelicals in the PCUSA Gospel centered? Is the Billy Graham Association Gospel centered? Is the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Gospel centered?Not any more or less than adopting, for example, a "Jesus-shaped spirituality" implies that other Christians aren't "Jesus shaped".
It's more than a little ironic that someone who can snipe at fundies for raising Marylin Manson, tacitly call John Piper a dangerous man, and blame "evangelicalism" for having a faith which is too lame to answer atheism in real life will, at this point, accuse those who advocate for a "Gospel-centered" faith and life of being somehow divisive or unfairly judgmental.
The Gospel is what it is. Some people get that wrong, and then they chase after misinterpretation of the Gospel. Some of them are "reformed"; some of them are not.
Which brings us to ...
3) Who- specifically- isn’t Gospel centered? And I don’t just mean TEC. I mean, who in some proximity to those using this label, isn’t described by this label? What disqualifies?All non-Christians are not Gospel-centered.
Anyone who has replaced the Gospel with some other idol is not Gospel-centered. For example, anyone who would place a singular political reality (in government, in a church) ahead of what Christ has done is not Gospel centered.
If you want me to name names, I'd be glad to review any list you proffer.
4) What is “centered” as compared to believing, or motivated or preaching, etc.?The conceits we can have but not lend to others always make me itchy. I suggest that "centered" is not any more or less ambiguous than "shaped".
Since I am the one fleshing it out, here's what I think of: I think of all our efforts in some kind of motion in the universe, and Christ is in the Universe. Some things we do are in a high-speed trajectory away from Christ; these are obviously not Gospel centered. Some things are in a trajectory which looks like it is heading straight into or at Christ, and I suggest that none of these are Gospel-centered because they are seeking to replace Christ.
Some trajectories, however, are in motion around Christ, and adorn Christ, and make much of Christ. These are Gospel-centered. They do not seek to abandon him or supplant him: they exist for his sake.
5) Is this describing an existing group or is it a way of doing church? If so, what are we talking about? A certain emphasis on preaching? An intentional effort to put the cross in all sermons and all songs? Fewer church programs?Maybe a version of the Bible? Or how about a t-shirt we can wear?
Like #1 in this list, this question is a pretty unamgiguous swipe at its object.
And again, to expect more from a two-word phrase than one expects from one's own 3-word phrase is ungenerous at best. The Gospel Coalition web site has plenty of resources to describe the phrase. Feel free to inspect those and then reconsider your question.
6) Is Gospel centered the beginnings of a label to create a sub-denomination in the SBC? A kind of signal to those who might be considering leaving the SBC that a network of churches is forming with similar values to the Great Commission Resurgence? Is this a label to build a kind of evangelical ecumenism within and outside of the SBC?It's very subversive, I am sure. What if it's only a way to say, "you know what? I'd rather talk about Jesus than beer. Can we talk about Jesus rather than beer?"
7) Is Gospel centered the beginnings of a door out of the SBC to a “Together for the Gospel,” Acts 29 or “Gospel Coalition” shaped network or denomination?Maybe it's just a way to say, "I'd also rather talk about the ways in which we agree about Jesus than all the ways we can invent to hate each other for doing what we think is right."
Which is ironic, isn't it? You'd think that the John 3:16 conference came first and then T4G and TGC -- but oddly, no: the "Gospel-centered" crowd turned out to come first and reach out across some weird lines (baptism, cessationism, polity) to try to forge some kind of unity in essentials.
So I think the answer is "no".
8) What is most distinctive about a “Gospel centered” church that allows the term to cross denominational boundaries and still be descriptive?The orbits of all the things a church like this does circle around Jesus and not around, for example, style, fashion, or other things which rust and whither.
I know you have previously been completely vexed by the idea that a person or an activity can have an "orbit", but I am sure you can grasp this much: when a church revolves around money, or "growth", or "political action", it is not revolving around Jesus. When it is revolving around Jesus, Jesus looks great -- because all the things going on make much of him and treat him like the center of attention and the main doer, the prime mover.
This reaches across denominational boundaries by appealing to Christ rather than preferences.
9) Plenty of people will say I’m not Gospel centered even though that’s my passion. Who makes the call? Why can so many bloggers use the term and it be meaningful if there’s no specific content?Well, I think that I have listed some pretty specific content here. Anyone who calls you "not Gospel centered" should cite an example, and we can gage it from there. I could cite an example of such a thing, but oddly I wouldn't call you "not Gospel centered" -- so my examples of you being "not Gospel centered" would be for the benefit of trying to explain something else to you -- something which, after years, you simply cannot hear. And it's a shame, really.
Any other questions?
How can you talk to an atheist about salvation? He doesn’t believe in a single component of that worldview. No God. No problem.Problematically for that assertion, the only thing "an atheist" believes about that is "No God".
This was the subject of the posts tagged "Loftus Saga" here from the end of last year -- because Loftus and many of the "new" Atheists rely heavily on the problem of evil to make their evangelistic case. In the Ricky Gervais video making the rounds this week, Ricky does it as well -- using the minimalist example of God making him an atheist.
There is something wrong with the world, and the atheist says that since God doesn't exist, you just have to live with it. The first time the atheist has trouble in fact and not just in theory, I think you're going to have a great evangelistic moment.
You might want to re-read that Loftus Saga stuff if you're thinking that atheism is making an end-run around theism by its popular appeal.
So this is open gripe night -- open gripe weekend. I can canceled all bans in Haloscan, and I'm giving you the weekend to really set one up and tee it off: what exactly is your problem with me? You can rant and rave all you want, OK? The only caveat -- the only favor I ask for this chance to really let one fly -- is that you link to something which substantiates your opinion about me, and you ought not to comment anonymously. For your own sake, you can post with no name, but you have to fill in the e-mail field with a valid e-mail addy.
Hate me. Loathe me. I'm standing on Prov 12:1 so you can also give me the business for Christ's sake.
For the sake of the children, I am sure.
OK: now, let's get a few things straight. The first is that the Baptist Press is a denominational organ for a certain faction of a denomination which is, frankly, suffering because of that faction. No question. For the record I am considering leaving that denomination for pragmatic and not political reasons (the church I'm likely to join in my new city is not SBC).
But the next coupla-few things are just objections to high-handed fundamentalism. The claim in that blog post that the writer has never "never written a blog that attacks another person or organization" is a flat-out lie which is only hidden by the individual's history of deleting post what he later thought better of -- historical revisionism being a sin of the hard-shell fundies. I'd respect him more if he'd stick to his guns. But that said, what qualifies as an "attack"? Does saying something publicly that was rebuffed or ignored privately constitute and "attack"? Doesn't villifying those who have something against you qualify as an "attach" -- or is it, like the old fundamentalist way, just "speaking the truth"?
And lastly, what if there wasn't and us-vs.-them mentality? You know: the SBC sticks in the mud who want to throw out Acts29 because of Mark Driscoll are self-parodying mopes who can't learn to judge men by what they do instead of by the color of their Christian flag. Acts29 is filled with totally reputable guys who are, frankly, not amused by the things I have said I'm not amused by -- but that's their problem. I am sure they will eventually deal with it.
But when the Acts29 guys start worrying that their shared constituency in the SBC are reading the Baptist Press' ginned up "journalism" and start blogging about it because they're afraid they might lose some guys who want to be connected to a dying breed of baptist brawlers, eh. It looks like they don't really know what they want. Refuting the BP is like refuting the Weekly World News -- it's easy, but why bother?
Why not deal with real issues and let the kooks retreat to their bunkers with their tin-foil hats"
An event has an application, and God has a Word, but making the various aspects of weather in a particular place a clear word from God is raising a human pastoral application up to the level where all the problems we’ve discussed become real problems for many people. Such connections will cause many to stumble in their faith as they wonder “what was God’s Word to me in taking my child? Why did he have to speak that way instead of another way?” Piper clearly, WILL answer that question for suffering people out of his high views of God ordering all that comes to pass. Many other Christians will not. It’s the difference between a pastor saying, “in the tornado, I see a lesson” and saying “in the tornado, God is saying to you.” There’s a significance difference between these two expressions. I, and many others, frequently call to mind the lessons of providence, but they are the connections we see, not the connections God has made absolute. “The tornado caused me to think about God” and “God sent the tornado to Minneapolis so I would think about God” are simply two pastorally different statements. I’d suggest that what I can say about my house fire (or Piper can say about his cancer) and what I can say about Minneapolis’s tornado are two very different things on the level of using my interpretation of events as God’s Word.The irony here, of course, is that Dr. Piper has pretty plainly, straight-forwardly, without exegetical sleight-of-hand, shown how the Bible tells us what he is telling us about calamity, and the writer of this piece of philosophical marshmallow has yet to open his Bible or wonder out loud if he should. In his high hopes that "God has a Word" and "God is Sovereign", he can't ever seem to get to the Word, of fall under the sovereignty. The Jesus-shaped "Word" he wants to fill everything into apparently doesn't speak to this stuff.
If you want to comment on that, you'll have to do that here.
Before we employ the rough lumber and the tire chains to this one, let's keep something in mind: there is a fair and important point this note was trying to make -- that there's a wrong application for the right-minded view that God is sovereign. It is wrong, for example, to treat tragedy or misfortune as some sort of spiritual tea-leaves in order to start preaching God's judgment on someone in particular.
"What? You lost you job? You must be in sin, bro -- repent."
"I see -- your son got caught in a brush fire. God's telling you that you've done something wrong."
There is no question that this sort of "preaching" or "prophecying" is born in hell and needs to be seen as the hallmark of the father of all lies.
But saying this is different:
- When asked about a seemingly random calamity near Jerusalem where 18 people were killed, Jesus answered in general terms—an answer that would cover calamities in Minneapolis, Taiwan, or Baghdad. God’s message is repent, because none of us will otherwise escape God’s judgment.
Jesus: “Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5)
The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.
That's a nuance completely lost and overlooked in the note we're about to redress. Pack a lunch.
1. Christians all generally believe that God is sovereign. I realize there’s a rather large bar fight about the footnotes, but it’s a reasonable attribute of anyone who calls himself the sort of things God does in scripture.It's a fair start -- but watch what happens next without batting an eye. Sure: the label "sovereign" is vaguely acceptable. But go ahead and try to apply it to anything with your theological DYMO labeler and see what that gets ya.
The game, however, becomes something like this: “My sovereignty can beat up your sovereignty.” “Oh yeah?” “Yeah. Watch this. I say that tornado was a warning from God to the liberals in the ECLA.” “Well….well…..OK…OK….I say that Kyle Lake’s electrocution during a baptism was because God wanted to warn the emerging church.” “Oh yeah….well….”Which is, of course, where we have to draw the line and say, "dude: nuance is the spice of life here, and for a guy who wants to be talking sense to people about anything, you have no nuance in your spice rack." There is a vast separation between saying (as Dr. Piper has) "calamity in this world points sinners to a Holy God who calls them to repentance" (which is the Gospel) and "those punks got what was coming to them" (which is a self-congratulatory misapplication of the Law).
And missing that ruins what could have been an otherwise-decent point about the problems inherent in the assessment of evil in this world -- both moral and physical.
If you want to play this game, you can generally find people willing to play, but I have one thing to say before you do: If you tell me that I don’t believe in the sovereignty of God because I won’t play your “one up” game, I’m going to punch you in the nose (if you are a man over 18 and not blind) and then you can figure out what that means. (That’s a joke.)And even as a joke, it demonstrates its own limits of administration. It in fact plays into the faulty view of how a Sovereign God works things out in this world, and seeks to drive people off of the sound view of such a thing because one does not, as the writer here said, check the footnotes very carefully.
2. Evangelical Christians are amazing for wanting it both ways.Yeah: breaks on before we get too far into this generalization.
"Evangelicals"? How about this: if we can't really use the word "Emergents" to describe that subset of post-evangelicalism effectively, how about if we don't try to use the term "Evangelicals" as if they were a monolithic bunch, especially on the matter of the Sovereignty of God. If we can admit that the first half of point  in this essay has some broad truth in it (and I did already), then point  goes straight to the dog house.
"Evangelicals want it both ways"? That's hard to work out effectively when we admit that what they allegedly want "both ways" has a pretty broad interpretation across the spectrum, and trying to lump in a John Piper or a Frank Turk with a fundamentalist confused about his dispensations cannot be a very persuasive way in which to say "evangelicals" want it "both ways".
They want to be able to say when a tornado is warning liberal Lutherans, but they don’t want to say the light fixture that fell and killed a baby in some church is a sign of anything.Well, seriously: Piper does want to say both are a sign of something. The writer here just refuses to own up to the fact that Dr. Piper gives a greater nuance to both matters than the writer needs to to make his very important point.
And that point looks like this:
They will probably sue the electrician. They want to say that God sends signs of repentance in the tornado that just skirted their town, and then want to say God is teaching us to depend on him when the tornado destroys the building the church meets in. They want to say that God is always communicating through his “megaphone of pain,” (not Lewis’s finest moment) but they don’t want God communicating by putting the face of Jesus on toast. They want to call John Piper a prophet and Kim Clement a kook.You see: anyone who says "God communicates" -- especially "God communicates through pain" -- is a kook. It doesn't matter that Jesus says this in Luke 13, or Paul says this in Romans 1 & 2, or that the Psalmists say it over and over: we have to group the "Jesus in my toast" people with the "Jesus over all things, holding all things together, creator and sustainer" people so that we cannot find comfort in tragedy.
This is the reason I find this sort of essay worthy of a merciless beating and worthy of review. The writer of this piece -- and the many, many writers like him out there -- somehow has sought to mitigate the real comfort evident in a proclamation like the Piper quote, above, by making it the kissing cousin of a completely-disreputable brand of folk religion which would, 19 days out of 20, repudiate the preaching at Bethlehem Baptist and from most Christian pulpits on this topic.
To say that John Piper approaches this subject in the same way Kim Clement does is to simply toss off a meaningless and unsubstaniable statement which is either unaware of the facts, or seeking to hide them from others. There may be a third choice, and I'd be open to hear what it is because the two men do not say hardly the same things about tragedy in general, nor have they said the same thing on this one in particular.
3. It’s an evangelical specialty to jump in and out of the scientific world view as needed. It really irks me. One moment we sound like people who have no idea what storms and earthquakes are all about meteorologically and geologically then the next minute we’re off to the doctor to get more of the benefits of medical science with no reference to God’s decision about whether we should get well or not. I know these understandings of reality aren’t exclusive, but who is your audience when you talk about a storm in language not too far off from animism and then next minute you’re looking down your nose at someone who says that grandma’s blindness is caused by demonic attack, not macular degeneration?All I'm going to say about that is this: if you can find one whit of animism in the statement I posted from Piper -- which was his point and his position on this event -- then my entire criticism of this essay is baseless and ought to be ignored. However, if you can't find animism there but instead you find the Gospel, and you see the message of repentance preached in terms Jesus used, and we find ourselves with a truly Jesus-shaped approach to the problem of evil events in the world, then this gibberish about "jumping in and out of science" is simply some kind of rant.
Dr. Piper doesn't even dismiss or mitigate immediate causes. He doesn't dispute the observations of meteorology. But he believes that God is Sovereign in more than a merely-intellectual way. He believes it in more than an ontological way. He believes it in more than a meta-politcal way. He believes it in a way which preaches safety and salvation from sin. And that safety and salvation is a place in which to take solace in all times of trouble, not just the ones which are ultimate or final or eschatological.
We’re just fine telling kids that God sends X and causes Y, but if our children are scared of that God and don’t want to cross the bridge or go to sleep during a storm we tell them that everything is OK. How does that work? If you say that storms are the result of the way the atmosphere operates as a system and that bridges hold up if the engineers build and maintain them right are we confusing the kid, contradicting ourselves or just operating in two entirely different universes.You know: when we teach our kids systematic theology (and it's "when", not "if": kids are smart enough to try to put your systematics together even if you never have), we have to believe it first. And if we believe it, we don't say things like "God sends 'X' and cause 'Y'". We teach them stories like Daniel and Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to you Babylonians) -- where God's sovereignty is manifest, and bad things happen to those who are faithful to him. We teach them about David and Jonathan -- who were both faithful to God, but David's lot was to be king of Israel, and Jonathan's was to die at the side of his faithless and graceless father. We teach them that all who live a godly life will be persecuted, and to count it all joy when we face trials -- because faith in trial yields perseverance, and also that God is glorified by our love for Him when it is not immediately pleasurable to do so.
If we are going to start saying that comets and eclipses and asteroid strikes are messages from God, then I think we owe it to someone to explain how that interacts with the fact that we also understand these things scientifically.I really enjoy that because anyone who is even intermediately informed about the science of asteroid strikes or the formation of tornadoes would tell you, "hey: it's gonna happen when it happens, and it happens someplaces far more regularly and routinely than others." Meaning: God doesn't enter into it.
You know: science can tell you how to light a light bulb, but it can't tell you why you should light one candle rather than curse the darkness. And it seems to me that the writer here does what he always does when God's sovereignty comes up: he'd rather be in the dark, and have others there with him, than to see if the Gospel light can help us find comfort in the face of tragedy. He'd rather blame electricians or engineers or weathermen for falling lights and falling bridges and falling, um, tornadoes that appear in places where they haven't appeared in generations, and that with no warning or signal than to treat the event like something that happens in a cosmos where God is revealed through creation in a general way and the Gospel interprets it in a specific way.
Which is his prerogative. It just doesn't have to be yours.
4. The Bible says that God sent plagues upon Egypt and that God told Moses- told him- what was happening. Was there a difference in that and Moses next inclination to believe that an unusually strong wind was warning the rebellious Israelites to obey? It seems to me there’s a huge difference here, and it’s a difference that has everything to do with our view of scripture as authoritative and everything to do with why we don’t believe that every pastor who tells his church the reason God caused an infant to die is a prophet.Aha.
There is also a difference between falsely prophecying over the death of an infant and quoting Jesus about how we should see natural disasters. If we are suddenly going to find some place where we're going to exercise a little Bible and a little inductive reasoning, we should be consistent about that as well. Whether we think we will like the result or not.
But the next bit here is interesting:
I fully believe that general revelation preaches to those who are listening, but when I start cherry-picking what events and occurrences I want to use to make my point, I’m being inconsistent. I never read that general revelation requires commentary from selected preachers.Physician, if I may be so bold, heal thyself. If one is going to start rattling on about "inconsistencies", one has to first be consistent in his analysis of the things he's trying to lump together and denigrate.
I'd stand right next to this writer -- or any writer -- who wanted to throw blogospherical rocks at Pat Robertson or Paula White or any self-appointed prophet for stupid, excessively-narrow predictions or blanket spiritual judgments. BUT the problem with Dr. Piper or other Sovereignty guys is not as simply-sloppy as this writer has made it.
5. If you haven’t read it, read this mess from Paul Proctor and tell me that it’s not a monstrous and vile abuse of the theology of God’s sovereignty for Proctor’s own purposes. This is an extreme and vicious example, but it obviously raises the question: how does this guy know that?Who wouldn't repudiate that? Dr. Piper in fact did repudiate that when it came out. That sort of stupid, scriptureless, sanctimonious harangue ought to be put in the skubalon pile where it belongs. But to say that essay is anything akin to saying, "the fallen world is full of warnings from God to repent or die, and Jesus is our only hope -- both for the ELCA and for all of us," is to simply fail to listen or to reason though. That's why saying this at the end of the essay:
This sort of thing has been going on for centuries. We should be taking notes and learning a few things along the way.is completely comical. What are we going to learn by "reasoning" like this? How to write everyone off? How to become a church of one where we have clumped together everyone who says things which grate on us intellectually or spiritually and pushed them off the pier?
At some point, if we agree "sovereign" is a valid descriptor for God, we have to be able to say that this real thing is because God is sovereign. I'll be waiting to see if those who would toss rocks at Dr. Piper can make a list of three things evident in the news in the last 365 days upon which we could put the label, "a product of God as sovereign".
But I won't hold my breath.