28 April 2007

Matthew 24 Part 9

The Sun, Moon and Stars

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken... Matthew 24:29.

Again we briefly allude to the controlling exegetical factor of the passage - a factor which absolutely precludes the imposition of the apriori literalism. Just five verses after the verse before us, Jesus unambiguously asserts: "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled." (Matthew 24:34). (Ken Gentry, Dispensationalism in Transition, ICE, February, 1992.)

As we begin this portion of our study, we revert back to the crucial argument of context.. Verse 34, as Gentry points out above, is our time indicator. Dispensationalists, in their usual literalistic fashion teach that this verse conveys a catastrophic change in the universe. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we shall see, this verse, like the entire passage, refers to a sequence of events in the near future for those who heard Christ's words.

We must interpret the Bible with the Bible. David Chilton, in his classic commentary on the book of Revelation, Days of Vengeance, reminds us that, (T)he Bible uses evocative imagery to call up to our minds various associations which have been established by the Bible's own literary art. (page 33). So, as with Revelation, it is the same with Matthew 24 or any other passage in Scripture. If we desire to know the meaning of a symbol we must search out the Scriptures for understanding.

The prophetic language of vss. 29-31 is often misunderstood to be the literal end of the world. But, as was discussed in vs. 21 it should be understood as the end of Old Covenant Judaism - the true disaster.

The prophet Isaiah used the same language that is in the verse before us in chapter 13, vs. 10 in reference to the city of Babylon. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. The language is identical. similar expressions of doom in the Old Testament can be found in Is. 34:4-5; Ezek. 32:7-8; and Joel 2:28-32. We now Joel's prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. These passages reflect God's anger and judgment on a nation. Certainly, Christ intended for the same meaning when He spoke these words to Israel as the nation that would receive God's wrath for their apostasy. A literal interpretation need not be employed if the use of figurative language in the Bible is understood. To apply a literal translation in this case is to blatantly ignore the Old Testament usage of the same type of figurative language.

The Sign

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:30.

Take notice of the wording of the above verse. The sign of the Son of Man shall appear, not the Son of Man Himself. This verse is often misread that the sign will appear in the heavens however, that is not the case. The sign is the destruction of Jerusalem. the Son of Man is now in heaven ready to bestow grace to all people.

A word study of the Greek words that are translated tribes and earth reveal that the phrase then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn could easily be understood as saying all the tribes of Israel in the land will mourn. This is conceivable after the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem. It would be understandable that a devout Jew would mourn the ruin of his place of worship.

As discussed in vs. 27, coming in the clouds is a reference to judgment. To reiterate, the Old Testament uses this phrase and similar phrases to symbolically represent the Lord's coming in judgment.

more to come...

27 April 2007

Martin Luther

If our Lord God can pardon me for having crucified and martyred him for about twenty years [by saying mass], he can also approve of occassional taking a drink in his honor. God grant it, no matter how the world may wish to interpret it! - Martin Luther

24 April 2007

Westminster Wednesday

This is the first post of what I hope to be many on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. A weekly reminder of a new WSC Q&A with some comments and thought provoking quotes.

So, without any further delay, here is Q&A #1:

Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

There is so much theology here and just so much that can be said about this first question I will try to limit the commentary. Thomas Vincent (1634-1678) has penned an excellent commentary on the shorter catechism titled The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture(see sidebar). He writes, What is it to glorify God?...to glorify God is to manifest God's glory: not only passively, as all creatures do, which have neither religion nor reason, but also actively, men glorify God, when the design of their life and actions is the glory and honour of God. He explained how we are to enjoy God when he wrote, God is enjoyed here, when people do settle themselves upon and cleave to the Lord by faith. "Bur cleave unto the Lord your God." - Joshua 23:8. When they taste the Lord's ggodness, and delight themselves in the gracious presence and sensible mainfestations of God's special love to them. "O taste and see that the Lord is good." - Psalm 34.8. And why should men chiefly desire to seek the enjoyment of God forever? Because God is the chief good and the enjoyment of God doth consist man's chief happiness.

Thomas Boston wrote concerning glorifying and enjoying, Glorifying of God is put before the enjoying of him, because the way of duty is the way to the enjoyment of God. Holiness on earth must necessarily go before felicity in heaven, Heb.12:14. There is an inseparable connection betwixt the two, as between the end and the means; so that no person who does not glorify God here, shall ever enjoy him hereafter. The connection is instituted by God himself, so that the one can never be attained without the other. Let no person, then, who has no regard for the glory and honour of God in this world, dream that he shall be crowned with glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life, in heavenly mansions. No; the pure in heart, and they who glorify God now, shall alone see God, to their infinite joy in heaven.

And finally, John Watson enlightens us with the following: The enjoyment of God in this life. It is a great matter to enjoy God's ordinances, but to enjoy God's presence in the ordinances is that which a gracious heart aspires after. 'To see thy glory so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary' (Ps. 63:2). This sweet enjoyment of God, is, when we feel his Spirit co-operating with the ordinance, and distilling grace upon our hearts, when in the Word the Spirit quickens and raises the affections, 'Did not our hearts burn within us' (Luke 24:32); when the Spirit transforms the heart, leaving an impress of holiness upon it. 'We are changed into the same image, from glory to glory' (2 Cor. 3:18). When the Spirit revives the heart with comfort, it comes not only with its anointing, but with its seal; it sheds God's love abroad in the heart (Rom. 5:5). 'Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ' (1 John 1:3). In the Word we hear God's voice, in the sacrament we have his kiss. The heart being warmed and inflamed in a duty is God's answering by fire. The sweet communications of God's Spirit are the first-fruits of glory. Now Christ has pulled off his veil, and showed his smiling face; now he has led a believer into the banqueting-house, and given him of the spiced wine of his love to drink; he has put in his finger at the hole of the door; he has touched the heart, and made it leap for joy. Oh how sweet is it thus to enjoy God! The godly have, in ordinances, had such divine raptures of joy, and soul transfigurations, that they have been carried above the world, and have despised all things here below.

A man could spend many hours delving into the depths of this first q&a. Reflection on this answer will be sweet and time well spent.

23 April 2007


Mark Lauterbach has some compelling thoughts on introspection from the Sovereign Grace Leadership Conference here. He reports, ...in answer to the question of how much time a typical Christian should spend in introspection. "About 10-20 seconds a day," he said. (Correction: he said, about 10-20 seconds per situation, that it does not take that long to see our cravings.) Now he said that was an exaggeration, but his point was to look inward just long enough to see the motives of the heart and then quickly look back to the Savior, crucified and risen. From there, move to repentance. How much time do we spend dwelling on ourselves rather than on the richness of Christ's finished and perfect work on the cross for His redeemed?

Gun Free Zones Don't Work

A concurring opinion appeared on USA.com this morning. Bans don't deter killers, if anything, they allow the killers to do as they wish. John R. Lott Jr. writes, The law-abiding, not criminals, are obeying the rules. Disarming the victims simply means that the killers have less to fear. As last week's attack demonstrated, police can't always be there: Unarmed students and faculty met the killer before police could arrive. Read the whole article here.

22 April 2007

She's Right

My heart goes out to the victim's families and survivors of the VT massacre. But my opinion remains the same - gun control is not the solution to stop these crimes. Ultimately nothing but the Spirit of Christ permeating our land will end this evil but, for now, Ann Coulter is right. Concealed carry laws can be the deterrent. Ohio has this law and I'm glad for it. If more of us, virtually all of of us, were carrying a gun we'd all be safer. It isn't just ironic that these bloodbaths occur where guns are forbidden. I especially think teachers and school administrators should be packin'. The very places we think should be the safest, let's face it, are NOT. As public school employees are employed by the government then I believe it is reasonable to assume that they should carry (and use if necessary) guns to fulfill the biblical mandate for the government to protect life and property as found in the book of Romans. I also think as we are biblically bound to protect our families & therefore carrying a gun is our right and duty. It's time we consider buying a hand gun, taking gun instruction classes and keeping ourselves & our families and friends safe. Had someone had a gun at VT how much less would the carnage have been? Check out Ann Coulter's article here. She's right.

21 April 2007

Matthew 24 Part 8

False Christs and False Prophets

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24

We have again a warning of false Christs and false prophets. During times of great distress people often look for a savior and it was no different for the Jews during the seige of their city. Jesus warns the disciples that there would no personal coming at that time (vs. 26). Josephus records the actions of these false prophets who did indeed deceive the people under pretense of divine inspiration. Of one such false prophet he recorded, But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him....(Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2:13:5. See also 2:13:4 & 6:5:2-4.)

Coming of the Son of Man

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:27

In keeping with the context of this passage, this statement of Christ can not imply a personal, visible coming of the Son of Man. He just related how their claims of messianic sightings would be false. So what is Jesus referring to? His coming would be like the destructive power of lightening. The implication is not on how easily lightening is to see as it flashes across the sky, but instead the analogy to lightening is in reference to judgment: judgment on Israel. In Matthew 26:24 Christ warns the Sanhedrin that they will see the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven. Coming in the clouds, riding a swift cloud, clouds of heaven, lightening and other similar words and phrases are Old Testament symbols for the Lord's coming in judgment. This is apocalyptic language. This language will be examined more closely in the discussion of vss. 29-31. But, as for lightening, there are examples in the Old Testament of lightening referring to an outpouring of God's wrath. (see 2 Sam. 22:15; Zech 9:14; Job36:32; Ps 18:14. NT examples include Rev. 11:19 & 18:18.) Therefore, we can conclude that Christ is referring to an outpouring of God's wrath on Israel which would be accomplished through the Roman armies under Titus.

Gathering Eagles

For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Matthew 24:28

This verse has already been discussed previously in this study. Just to reiterate, the idea is that Israel is already dead and the eagles will move in for an easy meal. As mentioned, the symbol of the eagle was on the ensign of the Roman Legion. Upon conquering Jerusalem, these ensigns were set up in the temple and blsphemously worshiped.

to be continued...

20 April 2007

Eight Points Of Clarification

A very compelling blog I’ve been visiting lately is reformedcatholicism.org. A recent post offers Eight Reasons on Who We Are and Where We Are Coming From which I’ve copied below:

I’ve recently read many comments, on this site and others, which insinuate everything from “those Reformed Catholics only want to be charitable toward those who agree with them,” to “those Reformed Catholics want to embrace everyone who says nice things about Jesus.” It’s rather obvious that both of these things cannot be true, so allow me to offer some points of clarification.
1. We believe in historic catholic creedal orthodoxy. Anyone who falls outside of these boundaries we reject as not being of the catholic Christian faith. By this, I mean that we reject Gnosticism, Docetism, Sabellianism, Arianism, Donatism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Monothelitism, and all the various other “isms” which fall outside the bounds of historic, orthodox Christianity. We also reject the various modern heresies which have arisen in our day, such as theological and moral liberalism and the “Health and Prosperity” movement.
2. We believe in unity, not uniformity. We do not believe that, where secondary matters are concerned, everyone must agree with us in order to belong to our particular group. In fact, we are quite a doctrinally diverse bunch ourselves. We believe in the catholicity of the Church, that is, its essential unity and universality. The Church is one; it is a whole. It includes particular assemblies, but is not to be identified with or reduced to these assemblies. This is the meaning of the creedal idea of “the holy catholic Church.” Thus, we reject schism as being just as damaging to the body of Christ as propositional heresy. We do not reject confessionalism—else we’d not claim to be Reformed—but we do reject sectarianism, and hold that a firm conviction in confessional distinctives far from necessitates sectarianism. Indeed, we hope for a day when the various orthodox confessional traditions can exist in one visible Body while yet retaining their confessional identities. This may seem impossible from our perspective, but with God all things are possible. The same One who strengthened Luther to say “Here I stand” is also more than able to soften our hearts toward one another and give his Church a universal conviction in her own catholicity which will cause all of our disputes over secondary matters to fade into the background.
3. We hold in reverence the Reformation and those doctrines formulated by our Reformation fathers. We acknowledge that the Reformation was fundamentally a movement within, not outside of, the catholic Church. It was not a revolution, but a reformation; a reformation of that which has existed from the day of Pentecost to now: the one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church. Thus, we acknowledge all groups which have their roots in that fundamentally catholic movement as being members of the one catholic Church of Jesus Christ. Our goal is to recognize, proclaim, and spread this idea of the fundamental catholicity of the Reformation.
4. Flowing from the above, it should be self-evident that the assertion that the term or the idea “Reformed Catholicism” is oxymoronic is itself moronic. The Reformers themselves claimed to be such. Luther, Calvin, Bullinger, Bucer, Melanchthon, every one of them to a man claimed to be nothing other than heirs of the historic catholic faith. Those who reject the term, or the idea, as oxymoronic only demonstrate by doing so that their heritage is not from those with whom they seek to be united, but from their Reformation era nemeses, the Anabaptists. We view the failure of anyone to see the historic validity of the idea or the term to be due to either a simple neglect of historical facts, a lack of concentrated study of the thought of the Reformers themselves, or worse, intellectual arrogance and self-justification. We do not want to impute anyone with the latter of these, so we assume that the problem is the former two.
5. Over against the above, we reject that those who are Anabaptist or Dispensational in their thought are “Reformed” in the historic sense of that term, and that the claiming to be Reformed by such groups is itself what is truly oxymoronic and historically dishonest. We acknowledge and admit that such men may be soteriologically Calvinistic, but this is not what it meant to be Reformed to the magisterial Reformers themselves or to their immediate heirs. To be traditionally Reformed is to adhere to historic orthodox Christian doctrine and to hold to the system of doctrine contained in the Reformed confessions. Those who are Anabaptist or Dispensational cannot claim either of these, as 1. they reject “one baptism for the remission of sins,” thus falling outside of the historic creedal orthodoxy (It can also be argued that they reject “holy catholic church,” but this would require some argumentation which it is not now my purpose to give.), and 2. they cannot claim the system of doctrine contained in the Reformed confessions, as they reject the importance which Reformation doctrine places on Church and sacraments, as well as the place of children of believers as heirs of the covenant and thus rightful recipients of baptism. Accordingly, we reject the novel idea that all that is required to being Reformed is an intellectual adherence to a five point soteriological scheme as disjointed from the rest of historic Reformation thought. To be properly Reformed, in our view, is necessarily to be also Catholic. The Reformers railed just as much against the ecclesiology and sacramentology of the Anabaptists as ever they did against that of Rome.
6. We do not, however, reject those who are not Reformed as unorthodox, for we reject the sectarian idea that the Reformed tradition is the only valid one which is held in Christ’s one, catholic Church. We embrace Lutheranism and Anglicanism as also orthodox, and we view the Roman and Eastern churches as also being component parts of the one Church of Christ, as they find their historic roots in the Great Tradition of the Catholic Church. We also embrace the Baptist churches which find their identity in historic, orthodox Christianity, and urge them to discard their schismatic practice of re-baptism, as this is a deviation from creedal orthodoxy.
7. We hold the Bible as supreme in authority. But we also see that the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura has been badly misunderstood, misrepresented, and misapplied in our day. This Reformation doctrine is not that every man has the right to his own private interpretation as separate from the catholic Church. The Reformers acknowledged this, and thus claimed the traditions of their catholic fathers as their own. God has given the Scriptures to his Church to be her source of authority, by which she will be led by the Spirit of Truth into all the truth. But it is just this which is missed in popular applications of Sola Scriptura in our day. The Scriptures are for the Church, to be interpreted and expounded upon within the context of the church’s life, as she is led along by the working of the Spirit to reveal to her the glorious truths contained therein. Thus, it is imperative that the Church look to how she has understood the Scriptures in previous ages and hold such historic teachings in reverence. It is also imperative that we adhere to the regula fidei, as contained in our historic Creeds, as the guiding principle to a proper, orthodox interpretation. Thus, it is not for every man to simply exercise his own private opinion as the supreme authority, for this is not what Sola Scriptura is, much less what it was for the Reformers.
8. We find the simplistic arguments, self-justification and self-authentication of modern pop-apologetic methods insipid. What we need in our day more than anything are apologists for unity, not more schism. We fully acknowledge the rightful place to defend the propositional truths of orthodox Christianity and we hold such defense to be invaluable in our fight against the schemes of the evil one. Nevertheless, we recognize that Christ is just as much—perhaps more so—glorified in the manifest, visible unity and concord of His Body as he is in the proclamation of propositional truths. It is, after all the unity of the Church by which Christ said in his dying prayer that the world will know that he has sent us. And thus, we acknowledge and strive toward the fulfillment of both aspects of our Lord’s prayer in the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel: “Let them be one” and “Sanctify them in your truth.” But in our fragmented context, where we find ourselves divided and yet fighting against so many common enemies, we believe that what needs to be proclaimed now more than ever is the unity and catholicity of the one Church of Christ. It is the one Church which the gates of hell will not prevail against. The Church is always strongest and her witness is always clearest when she stands united in Christ. As one Body we can destroy the enemy as a unified, unstoppable weapon, but as separate little sects, all we can do is fire our little mini-pistols at our enemies and hope that we will make it out of the battle alive.

People often complain that we hold to “nebulous” opinions, or that we cannot be understood and that this is why we are often dismissed with condescending remarks. We contend that the reason we are misunderstood is not due to these things, but to the uncatholic context in which we exist. We are combating ways of thinking so embedded in our evangelical context that it sounds to others like we’re either speaking gibberish or that we are so far from the traditions of individualistic evangelicalism that we must be enemies of the truth. Fully acknowledging that we are, in fact, very far from the individualistic scene in which we find ourselves, it remains our contention that we are on the side of truth, not against it. Thus, the charge that we are mere post-modern relativists (as if post-modernism is accurately understood by our detractors anyway), is unfounded and untrue. However, we do understand truth differently than our detractors. We do not–as many are seemingly wont to do–adhere blindly to Cartesian foundationalism or to the ideals of enlightenment rationalism. We see Truth irreducibly as an incarnate, crucified, resurrected, divine Person, through faith in whom all of our seeking of understanding must be mediated. And he calls the Church his body—his fullness—for a reason. He gave it the keys to his kingdom for a reason. The truth of the Church, her unity, and her authority did not cease with the apostolic age; it has continued through history and it is our goal to play a part in leading her into a greater self-awareness, a greater reverence for her Lord, a greater appreciation for her fathers, and a greater love for one another. We may fall short of the ideal at times, and we appreciate charitable correction when this occurs, but we aren’t just a bunch of mindless dolts, and we certainly have a purpose in all that we say and do. You may find yourself an enemy of this purpose, but please do not be so mindless as to think that we just don’t care about the truth. Rather, pray for us, that we might live up to our ideals.

I asked for further clarification to point #6 and received this response:

All of us here share an ecumenical vision that is distinctively Protestant and distinctively orthodox. We understand the various confessional traditions of Christendom and what conditions their beliefs. Thus, we do not seek the abolition of confessionalism. But we do hold a vision of the universal Church which sees her catholicity as supreme and superceding those things which divide those groups which are rooted in the Great Tradition of the historic Church catholic, and thus vitally connected with the crucified, risen Savior himself. So, while not seeking to abolish confessional distinctions, we do seek a merger of the various confessions (however far distant the possibility of this may be) in one visible, universal body, i.e. the full realization of the creedal ideal: “The holy Catholic Church.” Not all contributors here have the same vision as to how this should come to be or even what form it should take. Actually, most of us are still in the process of working all that stuff out. But what we hold in common is a conviction that something is not right. The fragmentation of the church in our days is horrifying, and we want to play a part in changing things. And we are always excited to see others join us in that vision and who want to join us for the ride as we struggle through these issues together.

Perhaps other contributors could add their $.02 here, but for me personally, what conditions my thoughts in this regard is the reality of the mystical union of all believers with Christ, and thus the reality of our being one Body in Him, our common Head. As we are all united with our Lord Jesus through Faith, Word, and Sacrament, we are therefore also united with each other, and it is this existential unity which we already possess that we are called to bring to the surface in our lives together in this world as the body of Christ: Eph. 4:1-16. Thus, if one is a Christian, one is united with Jesus Christ through Baptism into his death and resurrection.

Our union with Jesus or with each other does not take on varying degrees depending on how perfect our doctrine is. Having “better doctrine” than others does not make us united with Christ any more than they (though we should always be striving toward greater understanding). Thus, it is my goal and passion to live out the working toward unity which the New Testament calls us to with all those with whom I am already united in Christ. And the goal, in my opinion, should be real, tangible, structural unity under one body, not compromising our differing convictions on secondary matters, but always holding as supreme the Great Tradition which all true catholic Christians have in common.

Excellent stuff and worth giving some time and consideration to thinking through these ideals.

19 April 2007

Renegade's Top Beer Picks

Riding on the shirt tails of my last post I will now proudly proclaim my top five favorite beers (which actually turned into my top seven favorite beers – I’m sure there is a tenth but I just can’t think of it). I might also add at this point that this list, at least the last four or so, are subject to change based experiential delight in pursuit of the perfect pint. Additionally, one will note that beers such as Bud Light (I even have a hard time typing that) will not be found in this list – I would rather have a Pepsi than subject myself to a Budweiser. Having said all that, here is the list:

1) Tied for first place is Guinness and McEwan’s Scotch Ale. My palette is not as sophisticated as some beer aficionados but I find them quite similar. Both are very dark but the McEwan’s is just a tad sweet. If I was on a desert island and forced to pick one or the other the McEwan’s would likely win out. I’m blessed that there are no desert islands near this part of Ohio.
2) Next would be Great Lakes Brewing’s Blackout Stout so named for the blackout on August 14th , 2004. Again, another very dark color and more similar to the McEwan’s than to the Guinness but it does not have that wee bit of sweetness. But, this one is expensive. It’s sold in 4-packs for the same price as what you’d pay for a 6-pack.
3) Another fine Great Lakes Brew is their Christmas Ale. Don’t read the ingredients they throw in to give it that Holiday taste, it’ll just put you off. Nevertheless, this is becoming a perennial favorite in this part of the country.
4) Bass Ale. Excellent brew, the only pale ale in the group.
5) Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Outstanding, but it’s a bit heavy for a lager to drink regularly. I wouldn’t give you two cents for the Samuel Adams Light.
6) Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat. Many guys don’t like these beers as they’re after the traditional beer “taste.” All I can say is Get Over It.
7) Leinenkugel Red. You won't go wrong with this red.

OK, let's throw in Pete's Wicked Ale, Wicked Red and Wicked Strawberry Blond to make it an even 10. There ya have it. Renegade's top picks.

18 April 2007

Enjoying Beer

It’s truly encouraging to see so many in the blogoshere getting away from the unbiblical stance of alcohol abstention. I’ve come across more folks that are biblically enjoying alcohol and from a Scriptural standpoint. To that I say, “Amen and carry on.” It’s great to see this not even so much from an epicurean standpoint but purely from a biblical one, i.e., it is not sin so let us enjoy this simple pleasure that God has given us. So, let’s imbibe, let’s enjoy, & let’s talk about it. One of my favorite quotes is from a British TV program where the main character emphatically states, A bloke’s gotta have moderation in everything, especially non-drinking.

If you have not seen this yet take a gander at enjoyingbeer.com. Really good stuff.

Psalm 104:15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

17 April 2007

Rushdoony Pics

Back in 1995 I was attending a church that held a conference with R.J. Rushdoony as the featured speaker. It was the 1995 Ohio Conference on Revival, Reformation and Reconstruction, Educating Christian Children to Exercise Godly Dominion. I was rummaging through some old pictures tonight and found some from that conference. In the pic on the left that is my son who is now a young man. I am the guy with the beard on the left side of the pic on the right talking to Rush. My wife and I worked with the pastor there to organize this event and had a great time. It was, of course, great to meet Rush as well. I still have the cassette tapes around here somewhere, too.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Anyone who knows me knows I couldn't go for long without posting this so here it is.
Take a look here.

Blogging & Renegalia

You know, I don't like talking on the phone. I think it has something to do with not seeing the person I'm conversing with. The sentiment is crossing over to my blogging. As I read blogs I find that many do not have a pic of the author and even worse little or no personal description. Tell me why I should read anything by someone who won't reveal anything about him/herself? Where is the justification in so doing? I just came across a blog where the blogger's pic is one of his shoes, little personal info and goes only by his blogname. Why should I give any creedance to anything he has to say? OK, rant over.

Take a look at the Flickr pics. Numerous pics of my grandson. Yeah, the little bald guy has leukemia. But he is doing well.

Finished the Christian history class I was taking on history from the Reformation to the present. Into the next class on old testament history. These are online classes from Covenant Seminary - really good stuff. Besides, I need more excuses to by more books!

15 April 2007

More Thoughts on Worship

As this is the Lord's Day my mind often wanders to the subject of what true worship is. What do we do, how should we act, how does God respond, how are we blessed? Here's a few thoughts from John Piper:

Worshiping in spirit is the opposite of worshiping in merely external ways. It is the opposite of empty formalism and traditionalism. Worshiping in truth is the opposite of worship based on an inadequate view of God. Worship must have heart and head. Worship must engage emotions and thought.

Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full (or half-full) of artificial admirers (like people who write generic anniversary cards for a living). On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought. But true worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of biblical worship.

If you have not been to church today may you keep these thoughts in mind as you worship. If you've already been, what was it like, emotional, formal or well balanced? Let us all pray for ourselves and our churches for balanced worship that pleases God and edifies his people.

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist

14 April 2007

Matthew 24, Part 7

The Tribulation

But pray that your flight may not be in winter, or on the Sabbath; for then there will be great tribulation, such as has not occured since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. Matthew 24:20-21.

The dispensationalist attemps to fit the tribulation into his future-oriented paradigm as well. Comparisons are often made between WWI or II and the idea of the Roman invasion fulfilling that prophecy in A.D. 70 is then dismissed. However, if we investigate history we'll see that the invasion of Jerusalem is the most devastating event in history as the text claims.

Referring back to the time text, Christ did say all these things would happen within the time frame of this generation. The history of the Roman invasion of Jerusalem does record the events as Jesus predicted them. Josephus documents many of the events that transpired. Within his writings we find that over one million Jews lost their lives and manu thousands more were forced into bondage. The Romans literally razed the city to the ground so that Jesus' words of vs. 2 were completely fulfilled. Josephus recounts numerous episodes of horror, too many to repeat in this short article, that vividly display the horrible anguish endured by the people within the city. Ample support of Christ's prophecy is given within Josephus' pages to the horrible tribulation the Romans wrought upon the city and the temple. (See Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Books 4-7, Grand Rapids; Kregal Publications, 1981).

Next, we find that from Christ's words in chapter 23, vss. 37 & 38, punishment was being placed on the apostate nation of Israel. The most significant outcome was the end of Old Covenant Judaism. Ken Gentry summed up the matter well when he wrote that as awful as the Jewish loss of life was, the utter devastationof Jersalem, the final destruction of the temple, and the conclusive cessation of the sacrificial system were lamented even more. The covenantal significance of the loss of the temple stands as the most dramatic outcome of the war. Hence, any Jewish calamity after A.D. 70 would pale in comparison to the redemptive-historical significance of the loss of the temple. (Ken Gentry, Dispensationalism in Transition, Ice, November 1991.) Hence, the real tribulation was not the human misery but the end of the Old Covenant.

more to come...

Eschatology of Victory

13 April 2007

John Frame on 1 Corinthians 14

In studying worship in the church I have found John Frame’s book Worship In Spirit & Truth most helpful, reasonable and very balanced. Many answers to the "how & why" of worship can be answered in 1 Cor. 14 &, in fact, it is the most quoted passage in the book. The book on the whole was very refreshing.
On page 8 he writes ...And we should make sure that our worship is edifying to believers (1 Cor. 14:26). First Corinthians 14 emphasizes the importance of conducting worship, not in unintelligible "tongues," but in language understandable to all. Even an unbeliever, when he enters the assembly, should be able to understand what is taking place, so that he will fall down and worship, exclaiming, "God is really among you" (vs. 25). So, worship has a horizontal dimension as well as vertical focus. It is to be God-centered, but also to be both edifying and evangelistic. Worship that is unedifying or unevangelistic may not properly claim to be God-centered.
On page 67 we read, ...Scripture also tells us, and more explicitly and emphatically, that worship should be intelligible, It should be understandable to the worshipers, and even to non-Christian visitors (1 Cor 14, especially vv. 24-25). And intelligibilty requires contemporaneity. When churches use archaic language and follow practices that are little understood today, they compromise that biblical priciple.
Referring to contemporary Christian worship music Frame asserts on page 117...To a certain extent, these developments in church music legitimately reflect the biblical and Reformation principle that worship is to be intelligible, and therefore vernacular, and in one sense "popular" (1 Cor. 14).
Again referring again to music he states ...If we are to pursue the biblical goal of intelligible worship (1 Cor. 14), we should seek musical settings that speak the musical languages of our congregation and community. To do this is not to cater to human taste, but to honor in his desire to edify people in his worship. (page 140)
May we all spend some time rethinking our traditions and preconceived notions and seek out what Scripture truly teaches concerning worship.

Worship in Spirit and Truth

10 April 2007

The Death of Christian Britian

I recently finished reading the Death of Christian Britian by Callum G. Brown. I thought this was a great work for what it was meant to be, i.e., a secular view of the decline and death of Christianity in Britain . The author’s goal was to prove that the current secularization theory is incorrect and the decline and death is due to gender issues which began in 1800 and culminated in the 1960’s. Although one chapter is devoted to the statistics the author rather attempted to prove his point through discursive Christianity. In other words, what was happening and transitioning in society in the realm of Christianity (hopefully I am expressing in such a way as to agree with the author). The first several chapters elaborate on Christianity and how it affected the lives of the people through this time period in the nation’s history based on oral and written interviews as well as other forms of the media. The meat of the book starts in chapter six and there begins the most thought provoking portion of this work. I don’t want to steal the thunder here so I won’t elaborate other than to say that the full engagement of Christianity, in its broadest sense, is clearly tied to the female gender. When women’s attitudes towards Christianity changed in the 1960’s away from a virtuous “Christian” lifestyle this was the final death blow to Christianity as a whole in the UK . And to this point I would agree (at least to a certain level).

What I find most interesting is some of the areas not touched upon by the author (in his defense this was not meant to be a biblical study.) On page 196 the author states that Before 1800, Christian piety was a 'he'. From 1800 to 1960, it became a 'she'. If that is so and I believe it is, then men are really to blame for the death of Christianity. As men are called by God to be leaders, in the home and church and society, then they are to blame for the long, slow steady decline of true Christianity (in the narrow sense). As many of the author’s observations and conclusions are true for Britain they are also true for the USA as I believe this is as well. As long as men remain weak & passive this problem will continue to erode Christianity in the USA and allow other religions to rise and become increasingly influential. This we already see in our own observations and in the popularity of this issue in the blogosphere.

I found it equally interesting in connection with this issue some of the peripheral “Christian” norms for Sabbath keeping and how they negatively affected the male view on religiosity. For instance, women and especially young girls enjoyed the process of dressing up for Sunday observances. Quite the opposite, boys hated the whole process as the boys were required, in most homes, to wear either a sailor suit or an Eton suit. Add to this the norms of no games or horseplay and subdued behavior; boys grew up disliking religion and Christianity in particular.

I’ll leave it to you, the prospective reader, to delve into this work. I believe you’ll find it absorbing as it’s not just a boring statistical study. I would wholeheartedly endorse this work for anyone interested in modern Christian history such as myself. As with any work of this kind there were areas wherein I disagreed. Nevertheless, it was well worth the time and study.

I think some good follow up books to read on this subject (one I find fascinating ) would be Evangelicalism Divided: A record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 – 2000 by Iain Murray; Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880-1920 by Clifford Putney; Religion and Society in Scotland Since 1707 by Callum G. Brown.

07 April 2007

Act Like Men

At the Horatius Bonar website there is an outstanding article entitled, Quit You Like Men. Quoting Bonar from the website, For there is some danger of falling into a soft and effeminate Christianity, under the plea of a lofty and ethereal theology. Christianity was born for endurance…It walks with firm step and erect frame; it is kindly, but firm; it is gentle, but honest; it is calm, but not facile; obliging, but not imbecile; decided, but not churlish. It does not fear to speak the stern word of condemnation against error, nor to raise its voice against surrounding evils, under the pretext that it is not of this world. It does not shrink from giving honest reproof lest it come under the charge of displaying an unchristian spirit. It calls sin ’sin,’ on whomsoever it is found, and would rather risk the accusation of being actuated by a bad spirit than not discharge an explicit duty. Let us not misjudge strong words used in honest controversy. Out of the heat a viper may come forth; but we shake it off and feel no harm. The religion of both Old and New Testaments is marked by fervent outspoken testimonies against evil. To speak smooth things in such a case may be sentimentalism, but it is not Christianity. It is a betrayal of the cause of truth and righteousness. If anyone should be frank, manly, honest, cheerful (I do not say blunt or rude, for a Christian must be courteous and polite), it is he who has tasted that the Lord is gracious, and is looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God. I know that charity covereth a multitude of sins; but it does not call evil good, because a good man has done it; it does not excuse inconsistencies, because the inconsistent brother has a high name and a fervent spirit. Crookedness and worldliness are still crookedness and worldliness, though exhibited in one who seems to have reached no common height of attainment.
-Taken from God’s Way of Holiness, 1864.

It doesn't get any better than this!

05 April 2007

April 6th is Tartan Day

Friday, April 6th is Tartan Day in the U.S.A. From the website for The Association of Scottish Games and Festivals we read, Since the United States Congress gave all Americans an official Tartan Day on April 6th of each year, it behooves those of us with a drop or two of Scottish blood to take full advantage of the opportunity to share our cultural heritage in a positive manner with our local communities. And, perhaps, give a bit of publicity to the fact that we are also promoting Highland Games and Festivals somewhere along the line.
Many individual states had Tartan Days on their own calendars. But an effort was put forth to get a National one adopted, and April 6th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the declaration of Scottish Independence at Abroath Abbey in 1320. A line from that document is often quoted and has great appeal to the American psyche: "For we fight not for glory, no riches, no honours, but for freedom alone, which no good man gives up except with his life."

As this year it falls on Good Friday many celebrations will be later in the month. Check here for your area. Take a peek here for Scotland's Tartan Day events. And finally, you can read the Declaration of Arbroath here.

04 April 2007

Boettner on Calvinism

Calvinism answers the charge this it is unfavorable to good morality, not merely by opposing reason against reason, but by putting facts of world-wide reputation over against these fictitious claims. It simply asks, what rival fruits can other systems oppose if we point to the achievements of the Protestant leaders of the Reformation period, and to the high moral earnestness of the Puritans? Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and their immediate helpers were all thorough-going "Calvinists," and the greatest spiritual revival of all time was brought about under their influence. Those in England who held to this system of faith were so very strict regarding purity of doctrine, purity of worship, purity of daily life, that by their very enemies, who thus were their best witnesses, they were called "Puritans." The Puritans in England, the Covenanters in Scotland, and the Huguenots in France, were men of the same religious faith and of like moral qualities. That the system of Calvin should have developed precisely the same kind of men in each of these different countries is proof of its power in the formation of character.

Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, pg 279

Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

Some Thought Provoking Posts

You'll find some very thought provoking posts on sexuality here and here.

02 April 2007

Matthew 24, Part Six

The Abomination of Desolation

"Therefore when you see the Abomination of Desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." Matthew 24:15-16

This segment of the study picks up in verse 15 with the real sign of the destruction of Jerusalem. Christ proclaims that when the Abomination of Desolation appears the time is at hand. If we hold to the authority of Scripture the answer as to waht the "abomination" is found in the parallel passage in Luke. "But when you see Jersusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand" (Luke 21:20). The language is more understandable in Luke since his Gospel was written for the Gentile as opposed to Matthew's account which was written for the Jew. (We should also note at this point that the parallel passage in Luke also verifies the time frame [this generation] as the armies did arrive within a generation [forty years]).

A Jew would recognize the significance of the "abomination of desolation" found in Daniel 9:27. The word "abomination" is often associated with idolatry. The same word (shiqquwts) is found in several passages and all are direct references to idol worship. (See Jer4:1, 7:30 13:27; 1 Kings 11:5-7; 2 Kings 23:13; Dan 9:27.) Hence, seeing the Roman armies the Jewish Christians knew it was time to "flee to the mountains."

Looking ahead to verse 28 we see the reference to eagles gathering. The ensigns of the Roman army bore an eagle. Josephus tells us that the ensigns were erected in the tenple and were the object of sacrifice. And now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings lying round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple, and set them over it's eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus imperator, with the greatest acclamations of joy. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 6:6:1.)

Surely this was an abomination to any Jew. Ken Gentry states concerning this final horrible act, "Israel was judicially dead, it's carcass was devoured by the eagles of Rome." (Ken Gentry, Dispensationalism in Transition, ICE, October, 1991.)

The Dispensationalist likes to put these verses about the abomination in the future. But, once again, the context forbids such a time frame. This is especially obvious when the passage in Matthew is compared to the parallel passage in Luke. Hence, to be consistent in the Dispensationalist's system the passage in Luke does not describe the same event as in Matthew. There is little warrant for such an interpretive scheme.

The next few verses do not need a detailed analysis. Obviously, with foreign invaders in sight it's time to get out. These verses do however, refute the dispansationalist's claim that these are future events. In verse 17 we read, "Let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out of the house." Dwellings of the period were flat and people spent much of their time on the roof. The dwellings were connected in such a way that one could go from rooftop to rooftop for quite a distance. In effect, Christ was encouraging the one on his rooftop to escape by way of traveling the rooftops. Thus, this is an admonition to those alive at the time. It would not be necessary to give such detailed instructons for people 2000 years in the future.

Eschatology of Victory

still more to come...