After Prejean's apparent declaration of James White as a has-been, I'd like to formally declare myself, um, the, um, guy most likely to make Jonathan Prejean lose his marbles.

In the event that Prejean's ipse dixit is, in fact, false, I'd like to congratulate James on getting a RC apologist to say the most absurd thing I have ever read, Q1 2007.

Nice work, James. It didn't even look like you tried very hard ...

Get 'em while they last

Destined to be the all-time best seller at the Pawn Shop.

Boo. Yah.

And in other news ...

Apparently people don't know how to report death-threats to the FBI.

Yes, death threats and stalkers can be scary. But read that article -- it's like these people think every negative comments is a potential Silence of the Lambs.

Oh, that settles it ...

Apparently James Dobson knows Fred Thmompson is not a Christian, but Newt Gingrich is.

Dobson can obviously tell because Thompson has only been divorced once and Gingrich is a serial adulterer on his third marriage. Clearly, Thompson is the non-Christian because he is the lesser of two hypocrites.


I got an e-mail from a faithful reader today who asked me, "So how do you pick a child to sponser through Compassion International?"

My advice: you can't pick. It's too heartbreaking. That red ribbon graphic -- you understand what that means, right? How can you look at these kids and not want to take them all in? My suggestion is to use the "pick a child for me" link on the left at the top of the page when you click through from this blog (the blue button in the right sidebar).

If you do not sponsor a child through Compassion (or some other Christian relief org; Compassion is my org of choice), you should stop reading my blog. Stop reading right now. You are using my blog to prop up your conscience rather than doing something -- and believe me, you can't do less than what they expect from you at Compassion and be doing anything at all -- and I hate that. Don't read my blog if you can't do something about the things that get discussed here.

It's $32 a month. You spend more than that on Cokes every month, dude. You could drink water from the cooler and save up enough money to sponsor one of these kids. You could Eat PB&J on Mondays for lunch and save that money to do this thing.

Just don't come around here complaining about your sad, sorry, non-reformed local church if you personally aren't reformed enough to minister to orphans and give mercy to the poor and oppressed.


Because I was admiring their new scenery this morning, I happened to stumble upon an intermittent discussion of the Creeds over at BHT (no link - rule 40). The proprietor of the Tavern had this to say about creeds:
How about “No Creed but Christ.” That’s a pretty good creed.
We don't need a [j/n] to see the minor bout with sarcasm iMonk has employed here -- his point being that creeds are only as useful as they are actually credal. They have to say something specific to be useful at all, and the "No creed but Christ" creed is so unspecific, it's not helpful at all -- except to do something about which I think two things:

[a] iMonk does not intend to do this here, so let's keep in mind that [b] is not an accusation of anything against iMonk.

[b] it is intended, in a sneaky way, to be a unifying and conciliatory statement of belief.

That is, it co-opts the title "creed", but it does something which the creeds do not intend to do at all. See: let's start with the Nicene Creed -- why was that adopted? Some would (I think wrongly) say that it was adopted to advance Constantine's idea that religion ought to have a centralized authority. In fact, The Nicene Creed was intended to unify the theology of Christendom against Arius and his followers, not to reconcile people of opposing views about Jesus.

Creeds are meant to divide, but (and it kills me to say this) in a good way. The Creeds are meant to divide truth from error and exercise the teaching office of the church against error. And let me say this: they are also occasional in nature, meaning that they are drawn up specifically to advance truth against some specific error.

Creeds were historically drawn up not to be complete affirmations of the faith. They were meant to drive out the errors of a particular time and place. So in many ways, it is wrong to hang on to the creeds as if they are useful and broad statements of the faith because they are not intended to be broad statements of the faith. They are catechetical devices used to guard against specific errors.

I’ve got my merit badge in saying the ECFs or anyone else can be wrong. That being said, your attitude towards this unifying statement for the body of Christ well-represents the underlying problem with radical restoration movements. The apostle’s creed predates the New Testament canon.
Boy, I'd throw on the brakes there. There is an early form called the "old Roman Creed" which Tertullian quotes; you can read about the relationship between that creed and the Apostles' Creed here, which is from the Catholic Encyclopedia -- a source friendly to the idea that the Apostles wrote the Apostles' Creed.

But that said, given that Tertullian cites this earlier form of the creed, the idea that the "canon" was predated by this creed depends on what you mean by "canon". The Muratorian fragment dates the understanding of a fully-formed Christian Scripture to roughly 170 AD, and the numerous incidents of self-reference in the books of the NT -- that is, writers of the NT calling the writings of other contemporary writers "Scripture" -- points to something which I think iMonk here is overlooking.

In the best case, I'd say that the Old Roman Creed developed parallel to the canon; it would be hard to say it happened before the canon, unless you define the canonization of the NT as the council of Trent.
Acting as if its composers were idiots (”descended into hell!?!?”) compared to the insights we have today is a teenagers argument. At the very least, shouldn’t we disagree with the creed respectfully? When we say it at soli, I always call it the “ancient and universal faith for which the martyrs died.” Yes, it’s only a fallible summary of that faith, but I believe it ought to be treated as a treasure, not a joke to be discarded while we wave our Bibles and rhetoric around as if we have something to say more important than the creed. I always put the creed after the sermon, so that if I have nothing to say worth hearing, the creed will still preach.
My criticisms so far notwithstanding, I think iMonk has a point here: the form is ancient, and the truths of the creeds (when understood in their contexts) are beautiful and Gospel-preaching. They are intended to teach. But we have to remember that they were hardly meant to teach everything about the faith -- in the same way, for example, that Francis Chan wasn't trying to teach everything about the faith in his video.

So yes: they are good for something, and time-tested for that end.
In what sense is there less agreement in the historical church about the creed than about the canon? It’s not considered inspired, but I consider it the standard for a unified church confession, and considering its age and origin, it’s pretty important. If I meet someone who rejects the Apostle’s Creed, just about everything comes into question for me. It’s an “outer boundary” of the faith that shouldn’t be torn down.
I'd be careful about what we mean by "unified" here, but this is exactly right: if someone cannot agree with the creeds in the way they are expressed, they are most certainly outside of orthodoxy -- because that is the purpose of the creeds: to make the "point of no return" in orthodoxy, and in that, they are also occasional in that they address specific problems of the faith which have already been dealt with. It is exactly right to question someone's orthodoxy if they cannot affirm an adequate, modern translation of the creeds in good faith.

But in that, the Apostles' Creed stands out as a creed which doesn't really have an author or an occasion. It seems to mimic or mirror the Athanasian Creed (which itself seems to have problematic authorship) in some ways, and the "fuller" Nicene Creed in others. If you're going to go credal, you should stick to a creed for which you can have confidence in the authorship and the historical context. And for my money, the Nicene creed does well to give us a really fair and basic affirmation.


I believe we should write creeds and confessions that include the proclamation and actions of the Kingdom, but the first and most valued creed must always be the AC.
And it's in this final part which, I think, I have to part ways with the iMonk. His view is that the creeds should be inclusive and prescriptive. I think that's what a confession is for. A creed is to define and exclude error, and it operates on a much more narrow band than to say "we affirm X but abhor Q".

But it's hardly worth fighting over. Discussion might be useful, but this isn't any kind of ground to die on.


We were talking about the Mega Church last week, and this portion of an audio from 9Marks is extremely useful on that topic.

Listen and learn something.


a new Debate has opened up on the DebateBlog. As if sniping at the Charismatics isn't enough work for one lone blogger ...

He didn't mean that ...

You know: I have fired a couple of rounds off in the Cessationist/Continualist debate at TeamPyro, and I have been thinking long and hard over it – because good men disagree on this matter, and it deserves more than a passing consideration.

But as I think about the “other side” – that is, the “Continualist” position – here’s how I understand their reasoning. It begins, really, with the fact that God revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, (skip a few) Samuel and Nathan, (skip a few) Elijah and Elisha, etc. That is, God spoke to men and gave them His word, His testimonies, His statutes, and so on in good Ps 119 form. Nobody denies that except people who aren’t actually Christian, so that’s fine.

But, of course, there is also the issue of the apostles – God also spoke to them and their messengers (like Luke, and Mark, and whoever wrote Hebrews [not to stick a hornets’ nest with a rake]), and they got personal revelation which we get in Scripture. John Piper says that about that:
Now the point is this: Today the New Testament stands where the apostles stood. Their authority is exercised today through their writings and the writings of their close associates like Luke and Mark and James (the Lord's brother). So, in the same way Paul made apostolic teaching the final authority in those days, so we make the apostolic teaching the final authority in our day. That means the New Testament is our authority. And since the New Testament endorses the Old Testament as God's inspired word, we take the whole Bible as our rule and measuring rod, of all teachings and all prophecies about what we should believe and how we should live.
But then they also had revelations (which are recorded in Scripture) like Peter’s vision regarding the centurion and Paul’s conversion experience and his multiple visions and personal revelations – and while these are “recorded in Scripture” they are not scripture per se. By that I mean that they were inerrant communication of God, but they weren’t general revelation meant for the whole church to use as normative. In the example of Peter, we’re not all supposed to go and visit a centurion (in fact, I advise you not to do such a thing); in the case of Paul, we’re not all supposed to stay in Corinth (as one example – you may have a favorite other which I have glossed over).

So to the place where there were apostles, God was talking to men specifically – not just to enscripturate some scripture, but to tell them what they were supposed to be doing for the sake of the Cross.

And frankly, nobody disagrees with that, either. The problem, unfortunately, is in the next generation.

Dr. Piper puts it this way:

Now ask yourself this question: Did Joel and Peter and Luke think that all the men and women—old and young, menservants and maidservants—would become prophets in the same sense that Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah were prophets, that is, people who spoke with verbal inspiration and with the very authority of God and who could write infallible Scripture? Is the prophesying of Acts 2:17 that sort of prophecy? Or is there a difference?

I believe there is a difference. I don't think the gift of prophecy today has the authority of the Old Testament prophets or the authority of Jesus and the apostles. Or, to put it more positively this sort of prophecy is prompted and sustained by the Spirit and yet does not carry intrinsic, divine authority.

One of the reasons that this kind of prophecy is so hard to get a handle on today is that most of us do not have categories in our thinking for a Spirit-prompted statement that doesn't have intrinsic, divine authority. That sounds like a contradiction. We stumble over a kind of speech that is prompted and sustained by the Holy Spirit and yet is fallible. But I am going to try to show this morning and this evening that this is what the gift of prophecy is in the New Testament and today. It is a Spirit-prompted, Spirit-sustained utterance that does not carry intrinsic, divine authority and may be mixed with error.
As I understand this, Dr. Piper (and by extension, the other cautious Charismatics who would agree with him) is saying that after the private revelation which even the Apostles experienced, we can experience the same kind of private, personal revelation of God.

Um, with two significant exceptions.

[1] The revelation we might receive privately is not infallible. That’s critical – because this is the primary distinction between whatever this revelation is and Scripture. This qualification unequivocally places Scripture above any private revelation in authority, and I say "amen" that this is true and necessary to affirm.

[2] But problematically, it is also not necessarily actionable. Here’s what I mean when I say that: if I receive one of these fallible revelations, however exciting the experience might be, it would be 100% warranted on my part to question whether or not I should do anything about that message – including following its direction if it is a command. You know: if I got a private revelation to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me,” it would be right (and fine -- not a sin) for me to say, “huh. I think I better go check on Mars Hill in Seattle first because it was a cool experience to hear from God, but I might be mistaken about what he was telling me to do.”

When Scripture tells me, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church,” dude: that’s necessarily actionable. I better be doing that. Wouldn’t you agree – that because that word is infallible, God’s purpose is manifest in that admonition from Scripture. In so many words, thus saith the Lord, and I should be about that business.

But these private revelations don’t bear that kind of necessity. And that makes for a larger problem, but someone in the back of the room has raised their hand.

“cent,” says the person with the iPod playing Robin Mark downloads, “dude, if God tells you to go to Ninevah, it’s necessary that you do it. You won’t be happy if you don’t. I got a private revelation that I ought [insert private revelation here], and every time since then when I ignored that revelation, I haven’t really been happy.”

Yeah, that’s a big problem: I won’t be happy if ... Listen: God doesn’t reveal Himself with my happiness as the top item in His eternal daily task list – He never has, and He never will. Is His revelation for my benefit? No question: God’s revelation benefits me. But is it why He reveals Himself? Are you kidding? He didn’t make me in order to pander to me – He’s God, and I’m the grass which quickly dies.

So the objection that “I won’t be happy if” I don’t follow or consider a revelation which is not necessarily infallible doesn’t change my worldview – or my reading of Scripture – at all.

But that said, what exactly is the point of God chatting with me as if He didn’t have anything better to do – sharing with me some kind of idle spiritual conversation which He doesn’t really expect me to do anything about? You know: God expects me to do something about John 3 or Phil 2, but apparently He is only suggesting that apart-from-Scripture revelation he gave me while I was drinking coffee this morning. Can you cite any examples in Scripture of that?

For example, when God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you,” that’s not even a command – it’s just a kind of divine FYI. But look: Paul takes pretty vast comfort in that private revelation and makes it an example of how the Christian life ought to be lead. It’s a wholly-comforting statement, and a wholly-encouraging statement through which other people can also receive comfort. And it speaks, by the way, to the scope of who God is and what He does when He speaks to people.

You know: we’re considering what happens when God says something. He’s not just bored and you’re the first number on his cellphone speed dial he thought of: He’s God. He’s got better things to do than chat, and He’s actually doing those things.

I am sure this is going to kick up a lot of dust as people run this down, but this stuff has to be said -- and considered by those who want to call something fallible and not requiring some immediate action a "prophecy".

The hub-bub

The hub-bub this morning is brought to you by TeamPyro.

This is a bit on taxes which you will need in the coming presidential election cycle.


This has been bothering me for quite a while, but I am just now getting to blogging it. And it's hardly pressing stuff, but it's what I'd call an unsolved mystery.

Here's a Google Analytics snapshot of the traffic to my blog:

Lots of traffic from Seattle, lots of traffic from what appears to be the Twin Cities, GTY is obviously not watchng what people do during work hours so there's lots of hits from SoCal. Yeah, so what, right? "So what" is that it seems nobody west of the pan handle of Oklahoma, East of California, or south of the Canadian border (see the graphic for what I'm saying here -- don't ask for GPS coordinates) is reading my blog.

Now, I thought it was me and that somehow I had alienated the Cornhuskers and the Jayhawks and the Mormons and whatever, but here's the TeamPyro snapshot:

Nearly identical. Sure: the Pyro map reflects about 10 times the traffic my site gets, and there's obviously not the appeal to the Seattle crowd or the forward-thinking Baptists in Minnesota, but look at that bizarre "no readers" zone. Do these people not have the internet? Are they Pelagians or Catholics or something? How's it work out that nobody in the Great Plains reads blogs?

I'm hoping the subject line will cause some controversy and they'll start visiting. Wish me luck, and Garretson, SD, population 1165? sa-LOOT!

The one about the preacher ...[1]

Somebody in the meta said this:
I don't think the size of a church has much to do with the effectiveness of preaching. If a preacher understands the glory of God, the gospel, the wickedness of his own heart apart from Christ, understands the general wicked heart of man, knows his Bible, is involved in counseling believers and non-Christians, and has been gifted by God to preach and teach, I think he'll do fine. Maybe even in spite of the jumbotron.
First of all, there is allegedly audio of Dr. Piper talking to/with Mark Dever about the subject of multiple sites and/or multiple services, and I am dying for a link, so anyone with the mp3 needs to help a brother out.

But that said, what, exactly, is supposed to be happening on Sunday Morning? The Presbyterians, of course, have a very high-minded view of the way we ought to worship, and I can’t really fault them for that – they have a high-minded view of everything. They’re thinkers (well, the good ones anyway), and their view of freeing up the act of worship from preferences and human conceits looks pretty good until you realize that their theology of worship is exactly a human conceit, top to bottom.

That’s not a criticism, really: just one of those things Baptists have to say to Presbyterians in order to keep the prebsys on their toes and to maintain street cred with the weaker-brother Baptists.

Anyway, if that’s how I’m going to play off the regulative principle, let’s imagine for a second (you can’t maintain this mentally for more than a few seconds, so asking for a minute would be gratuitous) that Baptists and their non-denominational kin are right about the broad strokes and that Sunday morning doesn’t have to be one particular “way” but does have to include some things and exclude others.

You know: like God. Sunday morning ought to be about God and not about me personally. It’s like having a birthday party for your 87-year-old Grandma, inviting a bunch of people who say they love her, and then having to bake a different flavor cupcake for each to make sure they all come. They shouldn’t be coming for the cake: they should be coming for Grandma – because they love her, and this party is about loving her, right?

Yeah, OK – so what’s that got to do with preachin’? Adrian Warnock was trying to get my dander up earlier this week by quoting Rick Warren to me in an e-mail, and if I wasn’t so danged busy at work, I would have had 3 parts on that e-mail, but I am, in fact, busy like a bee. But in that, Pastor Warren wanted to say that preachin’ ought to be about application – about “how-to” in the pew.

You know what – that’s pretty good. If I had to vulgarize 1 Corinthians, I’d say it’s Paul’s “how-to” letter to the church at Corinth. But look at what that crazy exegete Paul does in 1Cor: he demands of the Corinthians that all their problems are because they have a wrong view of Jesus Christ -- from their dumb squabbles about who has status to their inability to solve disputes, to their misunderstanding of daGifts, to their abuse of the eucharist, they could get it all right if they just understood who Jesus Christ was and what He has done.

Yes: Paul had to understand that there were people in Corinth, and that they were doing things in real time and space, and that they ought to be doing something else than what they were doing – but the solution was not a self-help program. The solution was Jesus Christ. You may not understand this today, but eventually you will:

Jesus Christ is the SOLUTION to CULTURE.

So if you have a marriage problem – like yours is bad – Jesus Christ is the solution. If you have poor people in your town that you think are causing problems, Jesus Christ is the solution. Your kids are spoiled rotten and you don’t know how to communicate with them? Jesus Christ is the solution. Your church is a miserable bore and you don’t “get anything out of it”? Jesus Christ is the solution.

Many of you right now are thinking, “cent, that’s facile and sloganeering. In what way is Jesus Christ the solution?”

That, my friends, is the primary purpose of reading and expositing the Scriptures every Sunday from now until Christ returns: not to get a better life, but to get Jesus. Time to get Jesus.

So for that purpose, be with God’s people in God’s house on God’s day this week, and try to get a little Jesus while you’re there. You. Not the person you think needs Jesus: you.

Bigger than the Jesus Tomb

Listen: if you thought the Jesus Tomb was big, this is way bigger.

Apparently, France has opened up its secret UFO files, and you can find them all on the web now. Problematically, when I went to the site myself, it could not be found. So clearly, all of your base are belong to us.

Thus Saith Rick

Adrian Warnock must be running low on blog matter because he e-mailed me (yes: he e-mailed me -- I'm still a little stunned that I get an e-mail from a guy like Adrian) this link to his own blog regarding T4G article 4, including a quote from Rick Warren.

Let me say this: when we quote a guy like Rick Warren, we have to make sure he's doing what he says he's doing in his own quote, rather than just saying, "wow: that seems like a perfectly benign statement from someone the reformed blogosphere thinks is a kook."

Specifically, let's take one phrase from Pastor Warren in hand:
The only way lives are changed is through the application of God’s Word. The lack of application in preaching and teaching is, I believe, the number one problem with preaching in the United States.
That actually sounds pretty good to me, all things being equal. But, as in all real-life situations, all things are not equal.

So here's my challenge (to Adrian, or any reader who has an opinion): can you tell me the difference between exegeting Scripture to find application for the congregation and peppering a pep talk with verses of Scripture which seem to agree or amplify the point one is making?

See: I don't think I (or any of my friends at TeamPyro, or any of the men I admire and link to either permanently or from time to time) disagree that there is a real-time application of Scripture which the right-minded teacher of God's word must expound to his congregation. No question. The problem is when a pastor (for example, Rick Warren) will write a book or present a sermon in which he fishes through every kind of English translation to use Scripture like a magic 8-ball of apparently-Godly slogans.

It is one thing to preach through the book of Titus and never direct anyone's attention to Paul's exhortation of Titus to get people to teach rightly and how that relates to doing good works; it is another altogether to excerpt Titus 1:5 from the Message ("I left you in charge in Crete so you could complete what I left half-done") and apply that to mean that God wants men to clean up the messes their pastor makes. [Nota Bene: I am unaware that Rick Warren has ever done this specifically, so don't imagine I am accusing him of using this verse this way] Sound application of God's word requires sound interpretation of God's word and not an AWANA approach to the Scripture.

There's a yiddish word for this

Moran addressed the Executive Committee Feb. 20 regarding his concerns relative to Acts 29, saying in part, “One of the most dangerous and deceptive movements to infiltrate the ranks of Southern Baptist life has been the emerging/emergent church movement. Not since the stealth tactics of the CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) have we seen a movement operate so successfully below the radar of rank and file Southern Baptists.”

After Moran spoke, Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman suggested that Moran prepare his statements for submission to LifeWay Christian Resources which in response to two referrals from last year’s SBC annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C., will be conducting research “relating to Calvinism, the emergent church, elder rule and other topics of interest and discussion in Southern Baptist life.”
This is why I don't read the Baptist Press. They are worse than the secular media.

Read the whole thing if you have a strong stomach and you have taken your BP medicine.

HT: iMonk (sorry all)

Synergy: our friend

While I am usually loathe to do so, I am linking to this post about war protestors at Michelle Malkin (because Malkin doesn't need my links). The reason I do it is that the post says (in quoting another blogger), "I haven't seen anyone pointing this out yet. [the moonbat liberals are] brainwashing the next generation of troop-haters".

The statement is accompanied by a picture of a small child in the crowd, which, I guess, is Q.E.D.

Anyway that statement had a haunting familiarity to it, so I picked through the mental rolodex and remembered this post by Doug Wilson in response to Richard ("Hack") Dawkins about Christians and their children. Dawkins' theory is that it would be right to take children away from parents who are Christians if those parents were (a-hem) hell-bent to baptize or catechize the little nippers. Which, of course, is fighting words to Pastor Wilson because we baptize our children to bring them into the covenant community -- and I'd agree with the conclusion DW makes even if my children will be baptized as believers when they come to faith in Christ.

MY POINT, in case you thought I didn't have one, is this: Does anyone see any congruity between the accusation that the moonbats are "brainwashing" their kids and Dawkins' view that Christians are "indoctrinating" their kids? Does it scare anyone that somehow the hyperbole of child abuse is being thrown around by people who ought not to agree about something like that -- one side being "God Bloggers" and the other being "Naturalistic Atheists"?

It bothers me.

Oh please

I can't believe that Al Mohler even had to write this response.

Get over it.

Video killed the radio star

I was reading this about Mark Driscoll (which is by Mark Driscoll), and here's the thing: video campus?

Listen: I think it's a sham when people read blogs or listen to the radio or watch (A-HEM) TBN in place of actually belonging to a local church. Your TV isn't a substitute for a local pastor and/or elders and a local church. Period.

But what's up with these pastors who think that if the TV is a Jumbotron and it belongs to the church they have somehow "planted a church"? Yeah, I know there's more to it, but what ever happened to raising up dsciples who are Godly men to staff these churches and let them preach and teach? The problem, if I may be so bold in speaking directly to Pastor Mark, is that somehow men think they are important enough that the work cannot go on without them.

The work could go on without the Apostle Paul: it can go on without you.

Just put some gargoyles up in the front, dudes, because you have found a way to beat out the medieval Catholics for missing the point and going "high church" without going all sacralist. Your sermons are not that good -- no matter who you are.

UPDATED: Before it is even posted, even. Pirate at BHT makes essentially the same point I do here, which scares me. Or maybe it should scare him. Or somebody.

Double-Secret Update: go to, and download the 3/20/2007 Dividing Line, and listen to the show beginning around 00:47:00 to get exactly what I'm talking about. Big Amen.

Evidentialist or Presup?

I was listening to the Narrow Mind, and Gene Cook is talking about apologetics..

I don't remember exactly what they said which caused me to think about this, but I started thinking about whether I was a presuppositional apologtist or an evidentialist. You know: William Lane Craig is what I would call the pre-eminent evidentialist going around. If you listen to the Bible Answer Man, Hank is really a knock off of Dr. Craig -- and the odd thing is that they are both somewhat opposed to strictly-reformed (Kim Riddlebarger notwithstanding) doctrines of soteriology and God.

So can you be a "Calvinist" and be an evidentialist? Or do the premises of evidentialism lead you to reject Calvinism for some reason? Or does it turn out -- since we don't mind propping up controversy here, if only for the sake of discussion -- that there is a latent humanism and rationalism and modernism in evidentialism which obstructs the full force ofthe Gospel?

See : I started writing this post to consider whether I was actually both -- that is, both evidentialist and presuppositionalist. But the more I consider it, the less I care about that.

I'm eating my cereal as I type this, and I'm going to try to stop in around lunch to see if this has kicked up any dust.

They call it "GodTube"


You'll notice I didn't post at TeamPyro last week, and I'm not likely to post something (new anyway) there this week, either.

I'll try to keep it useful here, but I am SWAMPED at work. And I have this ebagelism thing I'm trying to work out, and ... and ... well, look: I'm not gonna put out a "gone fishin'" sign, but I'm not sure what'll get posted here this week.

Wish me well.

Parental Warning: Not Nice

This is not for the faint-hearted.

But look at what the judge says there. If he doesn't watch out, somebody is going to ask him to step down. How can a consentual act be even remotely seen as that bad?

I know the answer. That's sarcasm. Try to keep up.

Prayer Request

I have a personal spiritual need today and I need your prayers for God to protect my mouth and for His word to go out strongly and redeem men. Help me today to be more than a blogger but an evangelist as I talk to a particular person about the Gospel and about the fact of Jesus Christ.

After that, spend the Lord's day in the Lord's house with the Lord's people. Great Things he has done.

Oh, it's on now

read this, and keep in mind that Kim Riddlebarger was one of the guys ooh-ing and ahh-ing over Mark Driscoll at the White Horse Inn.

People kill me. This is just proof that there's nothing good about the blogosphere -- there's no person who can't be tumped over into being a blog troll. In a way, it vindicates me and my blog.

Thanks, Kim!


Between evangelism and working to figure out how many units really go into a standard hour, I found a site which links to my little blog who is very proud of himself -- I'll bet he's got a college education, too. Very smart.

And all the links to his blog? They are also his other blogs.

Look here so I don't have to link to his blog. He's a charmer I tell ya.

By the way, who here can tell me what reading the Bible "literally" means? Chris (the guy at that blog) seems to think that nobody ever does it anyway, but I'll bet he's wrong.


Let’s imagine for a minute that you had all the time in the world – no Palm pilot telling you you have a meeting in 10 minutes, no cell phone telling you to talk to someone, nothing but the time between sleep to do whatever it was you wanted to do.

It would be great if, in that time, you could just be at peace with people, right? Wander around and check on each person you meet, introduce yourself, shake a hand, give a glass of water … you know: just “be” as they say.

And if you think about it, I’ll bet that you could talk yourself into getting along with just about anybody. Seriously: for the sake of having a life like that one, you could probably overlook almost everything short of physical violence and verbal assault. If everyone you met was just a person like you, just being in the same way you are just being – more or less, given their state of affairs – it would seem (or seems to me) that it would be entirely delightful to simply send each moment in a kind of public private time with everyone you meet.

Luther thought Erasmus was something like this, as I understand him. Luther thought that Erasmus was really interested in peace with all men – and why not? The alternative in their day was the worst kind of anarchy in a world which had civilization only by one handle, so to speak. To cast down the mantle of peace – especially from those in political power – was to invite all manner of social and personal ills.

But you know something? Luther thought Erasmus was wrong. The problem with Erasmus’ view was that it was choosing peace over Christ. Erasmus would have been satisfied with a Christless peace so long as peace was kept, and Luther would have none of it.

In that way, and in that same spirit, let’s make sure we are not ever choosing peace over Christ. Our weapons are not earthly weapons, and our prize is not an earthly laurel. Our quarrel is not with flesh and blood. But our peace is not a Christless peace: our peace is only won, and only mediated, and only completed, in Jesus who has paid the price for this peace with his own blood.

Everything else is such a pale imitation of that we must never be tempted by it. Don’t get seduced by comfort. Get yourself together and shake off the human notion of being well-fed or well-kept. That notion is a lie.


I am certain this isn;t what you think it is. I just read this essay by a professor of hellenistic history about the movie "300". Let's start here: I haven't seen the movie, and it's unlikely I will see it prior to its release on video. Unless my "guys" at church want to go see it and we get a men's night out like we did to go see "King Kong", I'll prolly watch it some weekend when my wife takes the kids to Mimi's house and I can watch movies that they are not allowed to watch.

So I haven't seen it, OK?

But here's my problem: it's a movie based on a comic book, and the comic book is based loosely on history.

If I had to guess, it's not any more or less loose on history than Troy or Alexander were. But you know: it's a movie based on a comic book.

So the hermeneutic we have to apply to this movie is, "I need a really big bucket of popcorn and the large Coke," not "I wonder if I can write a doctoral thesis about the Spartan socio-economic system based on this movie by Frank Miller, who's greatest claims to fame prior to this is a soft-core porn comic and the modern reinvention of Batman?"

Movie. Based on a Comic Book.

Please resume your lunch.

Hot Spots

Coupla things going on in the Theoblogosphere that I think you might find interesting:

The Pulpit blog is considering John MacArthur's affirmation that Calvinism demands pre-mil eschatology. They are fielding questions there, and because Nathan B is running the show over there, it will be informative, I am sure.

For those still somewhat giddy over the topic of baptism, the FV/paedo/credo thing is going full-tilt in the meta of the linked post at Doug Wilson's blog. Who knew that when you get down to the question of what the church ought to be doing, you have to concede that the only way the church can do it is if it is full of regenerate people? Well, Paul knew that -- that's what he told the Corinthians, anyway.

I tell you this because I am tied up today and it is unlikely that I will be blogging much. But I want you to be stimulated so that you will return to catch a fix.

oh Brother

Overheard on the wrong side of the tracks:
The White Horse Inn interview with Mark Driscoll is the best presentation of Driscoll’s ministry you will ever hear. Two things strike me: the interviewers were eager to learn. Second, they weren’t chasing stupid rabbits, but on the main theme: Jesus and evangelism.

It’s also clear that Horton understands what missional means: ministry by the members in the world, rather than serving church programs. The utter inability of most of the critics of the missional churches to get this is truly sad. Driscoll’s first book is incredibly clear on this. What’s to miss?

Listen to Driscoll talk about truncated evangelism (I could give you names) vs building a community that includes people who are being evangelized.

Get it and listen to it. Very good.
I listened to this interview last night, and one of the things that struck me about it was that it was completely unoriginal -- which, in some ways, speaks to Driscoll's actual authenticity. He's not reinventing himself every time he's in front of an open mike, so good for him.

But it's as if the person making this gushing review has never heard, for example, Driscoll's hour at DGM:Above all earthly powers this fall.

I enjoyed the interview -- don't get me wrong. It was kinda funny to listen to guys I would otherwise classify as stoggy TR types gush over this young guy who preaches the word in a baptistic context every week and get blown away by things like his church practicing the Lord's Table every week, or his church preaching in an expository method through an inerrant (oops) Scripture and actually growing as they do it. And Driscoll has a good core which is easy to like if you care at all about theology.

But it's funny -- I got the distinct impression that Horton and his cohorts had never heard a Mars Hill sermon. And the only book they had read -- the one the interview was based on -- was Radical Reformission and not the more recent Confessions of a Reformission Rev which has language in it far saltier than Michael Horton could must if he banged this thumb with a hammer.

I say yeah: go listen to that interview. It's archive footage of Driscoll, and it represents him. Will it change your mind about him? I doubt it.

Saved by Money

That's not a soteriological statement: That's a political sigh of relief. Thank heavens money still talks louder than stupid antagonistic hate rhetoric.

We'll see where that goes. If the jihadis start bombing targets inside Russia, we will simply have more evidence of what drives these people.

from my iTunes

Listen to this. All the way to the end. Especially that part about the seat warmers. And about debt.

Geez: if this is what the missionals were saying -- you know, all of them or most of them -- who would be arguing with this except the people who think the big issue is a glass of wine at dinner?

Wow. I'm blown.

Rating system

As you are all aware (well, the 86% of you which are not new readers), we have a "clown" gravatar which I apply to participants in the meta who outdo themselves in, well, clownish behavior.

In searching my conscience about such a thing, I realized something: we have enough really bright readers to institute and "anti-clown" gravatar for exceptioanl participation in the meta.

Thus, the blue ribbon you see to the left. If you say something especially profound or witty, you can have a blue ribbon.

Because it's only right to reward good behavior if we are going to chide the bad.

On with you.

Before you e-mail ...

... while many blogs are offering condolences to the Piper family, I've gotten quite a few e-mails about Captain America. Someone e-mailed and asked if this is the dumbest thing Marvel has ever done.

Why no: it's not.

It is one of the least-creative things they've ever done (they've done it once at least three times before*), but here's my list of the dumbest things Marvel ever did:

-- Making Jim Shooter EIC

-- Firing Jim Shooter

-- Devil Dinosaur

-- D. P. 7

-- Heroes Reborn

-- Taking Mark Wade off of Cap back in the late 90's

-- Not letting Peter David finish his Hulk plotline

-- Making Tony Stark into a teenager

-- that armor Cap wore the last time they tried to kill him

-- that armor they made Thor wear for a while

-- the purple costume Hawkeye still wears even though Carlos Pacheco clearly demonstrated that Clint looked best in tights and a yoke

-- letting Fox cancel the Avengers cartoon

This death of Cap thing is going to come out fine eventually. It's not like Cap is actually dead: he's a story. Someone else can write him back to life. Continuity is not the Gospel. It can be revised.

In that, be in the Lord's house with the Lord's people on the Lord's day, and try not to take comic books as seriously as your ought to take the Good News of Jesus Christ. They are not even comparable.

* Three times: The back-story of Cap being fished out the Artic ice by the Avengers in Avengers #4 is that everyone thought he was dead; in the mid-90's, the SuperSoldier serum in Cap's blood created a degenerative condition resulting is him having to wear a really stupid suit of armor, and eventually caused him to die (he was revived by having a complete blood transfusion from the only other person on Earth who has the SS serum); in Universe X, Cap sacrifices himself to save the reborn Mar-Vell for the sake of that reality -- however, there's an afterlife in which Cap is one of 12 guardians. I think -- I think -- that Cap also appeared to die as a result of a massive explosion at the hands of a Red Skull nazi cult in Cap#50 back around '99, and also in a 4-issue limited series called "Dead Man Walking".

So: Dead? Yeah right. Get a better writer, and Steve Rogers will be back in action.

not insincere

So an important distinction must be made. God loves believers with a particular love. It is a family love, the ultimate love of an eternal Father for His children. It is the consummate love of a Bridegroom for His bride. It is an eternal love that guarantees their salvation from sin and its ghastly penalty. That special love is reserved for believers alone.

However, limiting this saving, everlasting love to His chosen ones does not render God’s compassion, mercy, goodness, and love for the rest of mankind insincere or meaningless. When God invites sinners to repent and receive forgiveness (Isa. 1:18; Matt. 11:28-30), His pleading is from a sincere heart of genuine love. “‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezek. 33:11). Clearly God does love even those who spurn His tender mercy, but it is a different quality of love, and different in degree from His love for His own.
-- John MacArthur, The God Who Loves, pp. 14, 16

HT: SFPulpit

Back from Sick

And I’m off the medication, too, so you all will be very happy with me today, I am sure.

I have a sort of backlog on the blog here which I think needs to be cleared up, and in part it revolves around a link provided by reader “scott” to Matt Lauterbach’s blog about what missional means. I give it here for a context, and I have two reactions to it.

The first is this: his exegesis of 1 Cor 6:9-11 is sloppy. Paul’s point in saying what he says in 1 Cor 6 is not, “boy, it’s a sloppy mess when you convert the sinful”. His point is that the Corinthians, who are supposed to be “called to be saints” and “enriched in speech and in knowledge”, don’t have the ability to settle their own disputes: they take their alleged problems to secular courts for judgment. In that, Paul says they disgrace themselves when they have to have the ungodly settle their alleged wrongs against each other. And the admonition that none of these kinds of sinners will inherit the Kingdom of God is made to make the point clear: you are not like this anymore, so don’t give these people authority over you.

And this is a transition from the fact that the ungodly should not judge those in Christ to the fact that those in Christ ought to treat each other as if they were in Christ. That is: “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Paul is not talking about missiology here in the sense Pastor Lauterbach is. Paul is saying that our witness to the world ought to be that we have power (cf. 1 Cor 4), and that we are different than what we used to be. That is a missiological statement, but it is couched in ecclesiology and frankly Christian ethics – not in talking about how messy it is to be a person being reformed by the Holy Spirit.

But that said, here’s the real question: what is the mission of the church to those people Pastor Lauterbach has listed by example in his post here? Do we have one – or can we write off the partnered homosexuals who find methods for getting children, the single moms who adopt, the tattooed, the pierced, the surrogate mom, all the people who not only don’t look like “us” but also probably cannot ever “look” like “us”?

I think it’s a great and important question. But there’s a really big problem in the way Pastor Lauterbach frames it: he has implied that somehow “Republican” values are inherently “Christian” values. You know what? That’s a root-cause problem in this discussion.

Yes: I vote Republican – over one issue only, and that’s right-to-life. But I’d vote for a Mormon for public office if he was going to dedicate his political career to the end of abortion. But I have no inherent love for the Republican party. They do not represent me on the matter of the institution of marriage (I’m for the Genesis 2 model – how many laws are based on Genesis 2?). They do not represent me on the matter of public prayer (I’m for the Acts 2-3-4 model of public prayer). They do not represent me on the matter of freedom of religious expression (I’m for the Rom 1:16-17 model of freedom of religious expression). They do not represent me on the matter of race relations (I’m for the Eph 2 model).

So the idea that somehow the Republican party is a template of Christ-in-culture bothers me.

Which brings us, thankfully, back to the matter of Gospel being the solution to culture. The solution to culture is to refute all the errors of culture with the truth of Jesus Christ. And since Pastor Lauterbach brought it up, 1 Cor is a great example of how Christ leads the way for us to be in a culture and at the same time be contra mundum.

For example, Paul says this:

    I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."[1 Cor 5:9-12]
Listen to Paul. In this passage, he is saying, on the one hand, the church has an obligation to deal with men and women who do not repent of sin but instead abide by their own sinfulness if they want to be called part of the family of God. But equally necessary here is what Paul is saying about those outside the church: you cannot be cut off from these people who have not been saved. You cannot come out of the world.

That is missiology, my friends. If that is not missiology, then there is no such thing, or else it is the shabby thing I have been on about in my last few posts to iMonk. The church must be something which is radically set apart from the world and at the same time in the very presence of the world for the sake of showing them the truth.

Paul says more about that here:
    For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. [1 Cor 4:9-13]
Paul doesn’t say, “Gosh, we have a good footing in the political arena and now we can go do God’s work.” And he doesn’t say, “I’m glad I have, at last, become my own reality TV show so that I can influence the culture.” He says, (I paraphrase) “God has made me suffer greatly in all things so that I can be theatron for angels and men and everything in the world.”

Theatron. Listen – that’s got to slap you in the face no matter who you are. Paul says he is made sport of for the public amusement for the sake of Christ; he’s the object of scorn. It doesn’t mean he’s in people’s face with some kind of insult: it means, as he says clearly here, that he makes a fool of himself for the sake of Christ.

He is not seeking anyone’s respect. And why is that? Does he say why? I think he does – it’s the premise of what he is telling the Corinthians here:

    And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Paul says that his mission was itself not to gain anyone’s trust or to gain anyone’s approval but to in fact to deliver a message which, by any other standard except God’s standard, is a folly -- so that God will be glorified.

Now, please hear me clearly: I’m still the guy who thinks that the message of Jonah has a lot to do with what our missiology ought to be. I’m still the guy who thinks that Stephen delivered the Gospel to the council of the High Priest. I’m still the guy that believes strongly that God is just as glorified by His love as He is by His justice and holiness. But my point here is that we are not sent here to get anyone’s approval but God’s.

You must speak to people in an idiom they grasp, and you must use the aspects of the Gospel which will have the most impact on culture. You know: in a nearly-monolithic American Republican culture, the truth that Jesus Christ demolishes the demands of the Law is devastating. And in a nearly-monolithic American Democrat culture, the truth that Jesus Christ fulfills the Law and demands repentance from sin is equally devastating. And in a popular counterculture where nihilism and radical autonomy is exalted, the fact of Jesus as Lord and Christ sweeps the ants off the anthill without and regard for their outrage.

These are all expressions of the Gospel – all cross-centered, Christ-exalting, God-filled visions of what the world is and they do not contradict each other. But they do create a culture which contradicts what the world demands of us.

This is missiology: being something in the world which is an affront to the world and a stumbling block to its ideas of wisdom and status. The mission of the church is not to try to make Republicans out of disenfranchised bar hoppers, gender role breakers and all manner of prostitutes: it is to make sinners grateful to God for grace, and to make them repentant that they have tried to reinvent His law, and to make them humble in love and service to men. It might obviously cause them to vote against abortion and those who protect it, but that doesn’t mean it’ll make the world into a suburban Tennessee cul de sac.

When the finger starts wagging about “missiology”, let’s not forget that the purpose here is not to become as much like the culture as we can before we fall into just being the culture: the purpose is frankly to devastate the idols of culture and all their sacraments in order that Christ may be lifted up.

It’s nice to be back.

For the record ...

Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2007 23:31:08 -0800 (PST)
From: "Frank Turk" {-no spam-}
Subject:Re: 'Secret Fan Mail from your Blog' [from D. Armstrong]
To: "Dave Armstrong" {} {please spam}
CC: {James White}


In case you haven't noticed, I cc'd James with this e-mail for the sake of saving myself a step.

I think a chat-channel debate is untennable for a couple of reasons, (like format, and the matter of moderation [meaning that the kind of moderation possible in live debate is hampered by the limits of IRC]) but the main reason I think Dr. White should not debate you on any topic is that you're not a reliable person. That is, you're not a person with a reputation that inspires confidence.

There are hundreds of people who are a lot more reliable than you with whom James could debate this subject -- and make a far greater impact. Debating you in any forum would be like debating that Wilkin fellow again -- a serious step backward.

Feel free to publish this note on your blog and call me names for it. It will only prove my point.

Thanks for asking.

in Christ,


What's up with this?

Why is gmail's spam filter so much more robust than Yahoo!?

I'm curious. I have no punchline for this one.

I told you so

Way back during the Francis Chan incident, I told you that James White uses Angelz cartoons to make his apologetic points.

I rest my case.

Baptist Identity Crisis

Ah yes. It was going to come eventually.

Saith iMonk:
It’s not the t-shirt- it’s what’s ON your t-shirt that matters.

I see the big dogs have now picked up the “what clothes are you wearing” aspect of the Missional discussion. What a disappointment. One moment you are discussing missionary methods as the future of evangelism in our culture, the next it’s the discipleship implications of what kind of shirt and shoes you wear. The big problem with missionals: phony in the way they dress. Let’s mail them all _________________ t-shirts so they will be properly and age appropriately attired.

Post a pic of a 19th century preacher somebody, so we all know how to dress.
That's right: someplace the subtext of my posts on this subject is "buy team Pyro t-shirts" or "shop at my pawn shop". Yep -- do that. That would certainly clear up the problem I'm talking about here. That's why I started this discussion in the first place.

Not the fact that what goes on in SBC teen ministry is actually what passes for "missional" ministry 7 times out of 10 (or more); certainly not the example of the ex-con biker in prison ministry. It's all about the pawn shop.

Here's another opinion, and we'll see where it goes from here: I think iMonk doesn't want to deal with the issue that one of the things which poisons the well for "missional" thinking is that there's actually poison in the well. That is: (and let's see if this gets through his mental filters) even Ed Stetzer admitted that the field of missionals is full of bad examples. That is: most "missionals" are not like Tim Keller.

In inviting iMonk to this exchange of ideas, I wanted to find out if he thought that the SBC which he loves had, in his mind, any good reasons for rejecting what passes for "missional" these days. Apparently it has none -- they are only at fault for being concerned about how this things plays out even though they have evidence that it doesn't often play out to the good.

Go back and listen to what Dr. Stetzer delivered again and see if he has that rosey a picture of what is happening. I don't think he does: I think he is concerned that our convention is whithering on the vine, and that it ought to so something, but that something has a great deal to do with reforming in the face of the Gospel. That something does not mean merely wearing a costume or playing social games which people understand: it means

Gospel -> Cultural Context -> Counter-culture

That is not what the vast majority of "missionals" are doing. It is far better than what they are doing.

But, as a bone to iMonk, let's have a teachable moment for me. Teach me that I am wrong about the majority -- even 51% -- of the missionals available to observe today. I'm willing to concede without argument that Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller are exactly what Dr. Stetzer are talking about; I'm willing to give you that the 100+ churches in Acts29 are all unquestionably solid and the "right stuff". Demonstrate for me in some way that this is what most missional adventures are like.

You could even have a t-shirt if you have some kind of evidence that this is the case. How sweet can the offer get?


Attention all web geeks: I have a problem.

As many of you know, NameSecure cashed in in December and stopped forwarding e-mail for free. That's bad.

I own domains which they are pointing at, and for the last 10 years they have been forwarding email for those domains to my permanent e-mail home at (a-hem) yahoo. Now all those domains get no e-mail at all -- they are, effectively, bounced into the bandwidth never to return.

Anyone know of a free service that I can transfer these domains to for free? I'm renewed thru 2010 on all of them, but they are pretty useless if they can't receive e-mail, and I frankly already pay plenty for my e-mail, thank you.

Think about it and let me know what someone can do for me for free.


Now available at the Pawn Shop.

out of this zone

from Doug Wilson's blog:
If we assume some sort of neutral zone in which we do not know whether God exists or not, and then we set ourselves the task of reasoning our way out of this zone into some kind of conclusion, for or against, we have already conceded something that no consistent Christian should grant. We have conceded that it is theoretically possible for us to be here and God not to be here. This is not just false; it is incoherent.
As they say in secular blogs, read the whole thing.