Unanimous Consent?

No, this isn't a post of ECFs. This is about the published scientific research on global warming -- particularly on whether or not it's a scientific fact.

Annoying details

Pheh. So now I have the Blogrolling scripts back in the sidebar, and the League of Reformed Bloggers script is so slow that it actually interferes with the Flash headlines loading in the main body.

Anyone understand and able to explain how the PHP version of Blogrolling works, and how I can install it on this page?

Not Funny

Two years ago today, the largest and most costly natural disaster to strike the USA ravaged our town. And if you're tired of hearing about New Orleans and the impact of Hurricane Katrina, just imagine how difficult it is for us living here to endure the seemingly non-stop silliness and negative press.

The reality, however, is that God sovereignly ordained this tragedy for His glory and purpose, and part of that intention is that His gospel be proclaimed and lived out before men.

It is to that task that we set our minds and plows.

With your help, we seized this unprecedented opportunity to plant an outpost for truth in a very dark region that revels in sin and open abandon. Together, we took up the call and established an anchoring. Now, as we press on amidst the rebuilding and related hands-on ministry with a handful of long-term volunteers, we ask for your renewed help.

Our main needs are:

* Prayer for wisdom, perseverance and God's continued provision. * Skilled workers (carpenters, drywallers, painters, plumbers, tilers, etc.) to help put people back in their homes. * Skilled finishers to help put our relief operation into its new building. * Financial support for long-term volunteers, fuel, supplies and materials.

For further details, see our Sovereign Grace Homeland Missions news blog.

By His grace and for His glory,

Charles Busby and Eddie Exposito
Elders, Sovereign Grace Fellowship Slidell, Louisiana

Before you get all beta-testy ...

... I want you to look at this chart of stats for this blog, which is the browser mix of people headed in:

In very round and unscientific numbers, 97% of the readers of this blog come here using either MSIE, Firefox (good for you) or Safari (even better). You MSIE users still rankle me, but there you are.

This other chart is also very telling:

It doesn't really matter what platform you're coming in on. MSIE, Firefox, Safari.

Now, this is not to say that you malcontents who are using crazy software like Konqueror or Camino or Opera aren't beloved readers of this blog -- you are. But unless you are getting a giant red skull with flaming eyes screaming vulgarities at you when you load my page, I have really, really toiled to get this new template stable on the major platforms -- and it still needs work for those of you who don't have Flash 8 or better loaded. Please let's not take screen shots of what this looks like using Camino for Mac OS 10.1.X on a hooptied-up G3 iMac bondi.

For the record, I'm interested in readers using MSIE 6 with or without Flash, luddites using Safari 2.X rather than the 3.X beta, Windows users using Safari, MSIE 7 without Flash, anyone who cannot read the text over the right sidebar, and anyone who has design elements rendering in obviously-messed-up ways who is able to detail his or her system configuration.

I'm filing this under "problem of evil" for obvious reasons.

All or nothing

As a precursor to coming off hiatus, I am updating the blog template. Please make your complaints, comments and questions here.

I consider this version beta version 031. There are some things in the master .css file that I haven't gotten back around to fix, but the rest is about right.

Those without flash, or using IE 6, are going to have complaints. I am not sure I'm going to have sympathy yet.

Notes on Assurance

John Piper on Assurance. Must read.

Unity, Polity, History

Here's a link to the Desiring God blog with a summary of a message from Sam Storms on the true meaning of unity and the church.

You should read it. I don't agree with it. I want to write more about it, but I'm on hiatus.

Think about it, and we'll get back to it. For those who are looking for one kind of red meat or another, I don't that essay puts the Piper family on the black list of evangelidom: I think it demonstrates why it is important to resolve disputes with something other than a church split.

More later.

Fair Warning

If you don't install the current version of Adobe Flash for your browser, you are going to miss all the fun when the template updates in the nexxt 30 days and I come back from hiatus.

No, there will not be any annoying shockwave animations, but you're going to be greatly underwhelmed by what you see on this pages without the ability to load dynamic, very low bandwidth flash content.

If you complain about it after this fair warning, I am going to ignore you.

Salvation vs. Calculus

I've had interesting conversations during Hiatus (such as it has been), and it's interesting the common threads that has (ahem) emerged from them. One thread in particular interests me, and it's on the subject of … orthodoxy. You know: how right do I have to be to be saved?

This is a brilliant question, and the New Testament gives us a two-fold answer. And that is itself a brilliant answer because that means the truth is not a checkbox or a light switch: it's not either on or off but a nuanced distinction which sets it apart vividly from error.

One answer the NT gives us is this: you don't really have to know anything to be saved. That is, you can the faith of a little child, and God will welcome you (cf. Mt 18:1-6, for the proof-texters and OGs everywhere). You can have a simple faith, a milk-drinking faith (cf. 1Cor 3), and be saved.

But there's another piece of the NT which frequently gets soft-soaked, and it's the answer which James gives: while a simple faith saves, it does not save only in the eternal sense. That is: it saves you to maturity:
    the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
That is, your simple faith is also a living and breathing faith which grows you through trials to a "complete faith".

Many folks read this – rightly, btw – to mean "a right faith does works", and that's fine. That's a good application. But is it the only application? Is it the only one James intends here?

For example, when James says,
    But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
isn’t James saying that God's word is there so that we can take action upon it, and learn how to live in faith?

And glancing up this post a second, isn’t it also Paul's point in 1 Cor 3 that the Corinthians ought not to be forever babies in the faith, but that eventually they have to move on to the meat of the word? That is: their faith ought to make more of them, and be more than (as Paul implies) baby food.

So in that, there is a second answer to what you ought to know to have a saving faith: it ought to be true, and correct, insofar as you are mature and maturing in your faith.

Here's what I mean by that – by way of example. Let's think about math for a second. My son loves math (thank God – please Jesus make him a man who has a heart for God and people who is an accountant), and we are working flash cards to learn how to multiply. He can add, he can subtract, and now he wants to learn how to do "times". Which is great, if you ask me: he ought to learn how to do "times".

The other day, he asked me, "Daddy, do you do math at work?" And the answer, of course, is yes – I do a lot of math at work, a lot of it requiring advanced algebra. So I told him, "yes, son: I do a LOT of math at work."

"Can you show it to me?" he asked.

Well, sure I can show it to him – so I open up my laptop, open up some spreadsheets, and I show him the greek-like formulas we have either borrowed or invented to discover things like how many dollars we are earning per hour, given the rate of production vs. the standard work for a given work center. And then there's the statistical stuff I have to do verify and compare forecasts. And then there's the financial comparisons vs. plan and vs. last year. And so on. (hey: wake up. The boring part's over)

So he says to me, "but where are the numbers?" See: in his understanding of math, you need two numbers to make an equation, and those two numbers yield a fixed answer – which, factually, is the right view of arithmetic, and ultimately the right view of how a formula yields an answer you can use.

So I tell him, "Son, we fill in the numbers when they come by. This kind of math shows us how to think about certain problems, and when a problem comes up, we change out the letters for numbers to get an answer."

"WHAT?!" he yells, sort of laughing. "Daddy, you can't add up two letters!? You can't add 'A' plus 'B' and get 'C' – they're LETTERS!"

Well, really: he's right. Even in algebra II, the formula gets solved down to its simplest state, or most useful state, and you don't really get numbers at the end – you get formulas. But understanding that requires a leap from linear, arithmetic thinking to something more conceptual – something which is taking in the big picture of how adding 2 + 2, or making 3 "times" 4, works.

So my son can have a completely –correct- view of arithmetic, and be –unable- to grasp algebra yet. That doesn't make his view of math "false": it makes it incomplete. He's not a heretic to the math community: he's a student. His view is correct insofar as it is advanced, but it doesn’t account for all of math.

Now, if in 10 years my son and I sit down and he says to me, "Dad, open up your laptop for me – I want to see what you're doing at work," I'll be glad to oblige. My fatherly optimism will be that he's just completed Trig and he's about to show me how to simplify some of my 3-legged-dog formulas into something a little more sleek and functional.

But if we open up the laptop and when he looks at the spreadsheets he says to me, "You know what, Sir Dude? [he uses 'sir' out of respect because he was raised right] I still don't buy the algebra thing. I know what you call it – I just don't buy it. It doesn’t work. 2 + 2 = 4; A + B doesn't equal anything. All this stuff you say you've been doing for the last 10 years is just guff. And there's no way for you to prove to me that it does work."

At that point, we have crossed over from incomplete knowledge to something else – a knowledge which refuses to grow, refuses to receive more. It's willful ignorance.

In Biblical terms, it's what Paul called the "shipwreck of faith" – that is, when some rejects "love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." "Love" is certainly the product, but one of the components of that love is a "good conscience". In my example, my son can’t be said to have a good conscience – because he establishes what cannot be true apart from the facts which are plainly in evidence. In our faith life, we cannot be said to have a good conscience if we are unwilling to receive the facts of faith.

That's a big deal, for example, for Catholics – because the right-minded Catholic view is that Protestants who willfully refuse the teaching of the Church are unrepentant sinners. And if they are right about what kind of final authority the Church as an institution holds, they're right: you can't have a good conscience with you reject the truth.

But for Protestants – not merely evangelicals, but confessional Protestants – what Scripture teaches us is what we must accept as the truth about our faith. And as we advance out of spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity, the burden upon us to accept and demonstrate the truth in Scripture becomes a greater responsibility. This is why the warning to teachers is such a serious thing; that's why the anathema against a different gospel – and the criteria for knowing what that is – is an anathema and not just a rebuke.

And for good measure, think about this: that's why John called the Pharisees who came to see him a brood of vipers, and why Jesus called the same men whitewashed tombs -- because the Gospel had not changed, but these men, who ought to have known better, did not know it when they saw it.

You don't need a perfect confession to save you, but you do need a faith which is perfecting you, not leading you into more error.

The New Ecumenism

I propose that, along with these measures proposed by a Dutch Roman Catholic Bishop, Catholics also begin to call themselves something less likely to offend Muslims.

You fill in the punch line.

Chuck Colson to the rescue

I can't help it: I like Chuck Colson in spite of himself. PFM is a great idea, and they do good work. Period.

But he wrote this for Christianity Today (I read it in the August Magazine; this is the CT.com link), and I have to ask myself: "cent: will Chuck apply the message in this essay to his own past and learn something from it?"


More Inspections - Better Plans

3 video clips this morning, courtesy of Dave Dravecky and DGM.

Here's what I'm particularly interested in with these videos: notice that Dave, who has lost more than most of us will ever have, and has frankly been through more physically than most of us will ever suffer, has an interesting point of view about how to comfort those who are suffering right now, today.

Hot as Hiatus

Yeah, I'm sorta worn out from being on hiatus, but this is even more important than the ECM stuff going on all over the place.

Turns out that everything you know about Global Warming is wrong. I linked to the HotAir summary because it runs down all the details, but this is the biggest story of the last 10 years AFAIC. When the so-called "hockey stick" is demonstrably false, the rest of the "Global Warming" fraud is completely baseless. There's nothing there to believe.

I say we all eat brocolli and run our lawn-mowers tomorrow all day in celebration, and let the greenhouse gases be darned!

Programming notes from Hiatus

[1] Bob Hyatt has asked me if I think John Stott is going to hell for writing that hell is really annihilation and not torment, not eternal suffering. The answer to that question deserves some space here when the hiatus is over.

[2] Hyatt, btw, has posted the first seriously-funny responses to Phil's Emergent-See posters -- even though he's ashamed of them and thinks they won;t cause anyone to change their minds. I go back to the things he quotes me saying: [a] I'd love to eat my words here; I'd love it if someone really, really went through the archives and made some "PyroMedia" posters which went after our many foibles -- so kudos for him for making a good show of it; [b] Notice how commenter "Dustin" doesn't waste any time getting down to brass tacks with his assessment of the issues:

this guys an ass-clown.

Posted by: Dustin | August 09, 2007 at 10:13 PM
I post it here only because Dustin's penetrating insights will probably be deleted by Bob when he sees his blog this morning.

[3] Yeah, ok: Zens paper. I won't forget.

Compare and Contrast

I was reading the news this evening, and I came across this piece from AP on the rain in NYC. It made me think about a couple of things, and I thought I'd share.

The first thing is this:
The storm, which also spawned a rare tornado, hit just before dawn. By rush hour, the subway system was virtually paralyzed when pumping stations became overwhelmed. Bedlam resulted from too much rain, too fast; some suburban commuters spent a half day just getting to work.

"One big rain and it all falls apart," said Ruby Russel, 64, as she sat waiting on a train in Brooklyn. She had been trying to get to Manhattan for three hours.
Indeed. "One big rain". But seriously, you'd think a city like that would have someone checking the pumps or something. Maybe a rivet inspector. Where did inspections go wrong?

Because we don't want to be too God-centered, do we? We don't want the pith of an older woman to cause us to reflect on how fragile we really are, even in our monuments to ourselves in a city like New York. Thinking that maybe we shouldn't trust in chariots and horses, so to speak, but in God is far too high-brow at a moment like this.

Especially when there's one big rain and it all falls apart. God wouldn't do something like that, would He?


I have been working on an upgrade to the blog template, and it is killing me.

Today I just put my work into the test blog blogger blog, and I have lost all my sidebar items. I mean: I deleted the saved copy of my old template, and I lost all my sidebar items.



No, you may not see it yet. You may never see it as I may now go and set myself on fire. (just kidding) (I think)

Dog-Day Hiatus

Because some people can't just say, "well, I didn't mean that God's sovereignty isn't important: I just mean that we should be good-workers, too," I have a few words to drop in here in the midst of hiatus.

The first one is this: there are no workers-out of the "problem of evil" vis a vis the bridge collapse in Minnesota this week who have said, "geez -- God pushed His hand down on that bridge like a black belt breaking boards, so hosanna!" Every one of them -- all of them, starting with the object of one man's particular scorn (John Piper) all the way down to the least of these (our freakishly-tall brother in Christ Friel) -- framed God's sovereignty as the place to take comfort in tragedy in that what happened did not happen without purpose, with no final value or meaning. The entire point of preaching the Gospel when a tragedy strikes is to underscore that tragedy is not worthless and tragedy is not meaningless.

In that, there were also no God-centered advocates who were simply waving a hand at man's culpability: in fact, man's culpability has no meaning without the context of God's sovereignty. The loose talk about, "Yeah, sure WCF and all that, but who was checking the rivets?" is Shemp theology. That is to say, it's not even funny it is so inept. In what way does the demand for a list of incompetent engineers or civil servants offer comfort to the injured and the grieving? Will a pound of flesh now, after a father is lost or a daughter is found drowned in her own car because the electric windows couldn't roll down once they were wet, bring solace?

No: the admission that man is incompetent in fact requires us to determine where we must place our trust and our hope. Should we trust men, and make public lists of who is inspecting our bridges, so that they will do a better job? Will that fix it up so it doesn't happen next time?

Listen: even if it does, does that make the deaths here meaningful? And if it doesn't, is that when we should ask the question, "how do we live with ourselves when we know that people die seemingly-meaningless deaths because we are frankly small, weak and frequently off our best game?"

It's sort of sickening to watch people make this first of all about better civil service and then second about whether they are in compliance with some Confession of Faith. This is not about a confession of faith: this is about demeaning the preaching of the Gospel when nothing else will do.

If you think that we need to be driving the bulldozers and the ambulances and the lunch wagons when tragedy hits, I'm with you: that's what we do. But we don't do that in spite of our theology, or in place of our theology. We do that, as Paul said so well to Titus, "so that in everything [we] may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior."

Don't defend yourself against non-existent complaints if you were on the wrong side of this tiff this week. The question is not whether you'd pass an examination in the local session. The question is whether you have openly taken offense when someone is rightly explaining the doctrine of God our Savior to people who are obviously in need of it.