Friday, February 27, 2015

This Week in Calvinism - February 27, 2015

  • Bruce wants to see "a free training piece churches can use to help people identify a handful of the more common things they will hear that stem from Calvinist theology"...because, you know, typing "Calvinist theology" into Google can be complicated.

  • Dr. Malcolm Hester, pastor and adjunct professor at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, Kentucky, tries to knock down the "two pillars of Calvinism": divine sovereignty and human inability.

  • A very brief review of Randy Alcorn's book Hand in Hand: Beauty of God's Sovereignty and Meaningful Human Choice.

  • Yet another "sermon" on the errors of Calvinism. Makes you wonder what some of these pastors would preach on if it weren't for that guy who killed Servetus.

  • How can we know that the Bible is true?

Monday, February 23, 2015

A new movie about Polycarp


More information here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

This Week in Calvinism - February 20, 2015

  • In part 3 of his series "Pacesetters of Anglican Protestantism," Roger Salter writes:
    Calvinism can attract the bully boys and the arrogant who like to associate themselves with the divine supremacy and omnipotence as a license for their bad behavior, but that is the fault of human pride that pollutes everything it touches, even the most hallowed things of God (biblical and sacred history reveals this vile tendency in abundance), but the doctrine of election, grasped within the limits of its Scriptural enunciation, is testimony to the invincible power of divine love and its triumph over resolute rebellion. Let us bless God that he overcomes our suicidal unwillingness.

  • In Roger Olson's opinion, "hyper-Calvinism (of the Hoeksema variety) is consistent Calvinism," which is why he suspects "that a great deal of Calvinist success in evangelism and missions is due to the fact that many Calvinists offer the gospel and salvation in a manner inconsistent with their own theology."

  • Should Arminianism or Calvinism be an issue for unity?

  • Sin: Can't live with it, won't live without it.

  • Philosophy meets Neo-Calvinism.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Russell Moore vs. Roy Moore: Whose law?

"For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us."
- Isaiah 33:22


Ours is no longer a nation of laws. Individual judges long ago assumed the power to impose their will on the public, and that is exactly what Judge Ginny Granade of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama did last month. On January 23, Granade ruled that the Alabama
Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act are "unconstitutional on Equal Protection and Due Process Grounds." She further ordered Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange not to enforce those laws, which simply asserted that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in turn ordered probate judges in the state to ignore Granade's ruling. His reasoning was grounded in the fact that the ruling only applied to Attorney General Strange, and since probate judges are the ones charged with issuing marriage licences, the constitutional ban on same-sex "marriage" remained intact. Besides, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that marriage is a state issue, and since the people of Alabama had already spoken, the issue was settled.

Russell D. Moore disagrees. He thinks Chief Justice Moore should either comply with Judge Granade or resign. In a written statement released to Baptist Press, he said:
As citizens and as Christians, our response should be one of both conviction and of respect for the rule of law (1 Peter 2:13; Romans 13). Our system of government does not allow a state to defy the law of the land.

In a Christian ethic, there is a time for civil disobedience in cases of unjust laws. That's why, for instance, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. went to jail. In the case of judges and state Supreme Court justices, though, civil disobedience, even when necessary, cannot happen in their roles as agents of the state. Religious freedom and conscience objections must be balanced with a state's obligation to discharge the law. We shouldn't have officials breaking the law, but civil servants don't surrender their conscience simply by serving in government. While these details are being worked out, in the absence of any conscience protections, a government employee faced with a decision of violating his conscience or upholding the law, would need to resign and protest against it as a citizen if he could not discharge the duties of his office required by law in good conscience.
While Russell Moore would argue Romans 13 dictates that the chief justice should submit to the governing authority, Roy Moore, as a sitting judge, is also a governing authority. The question then arises: which "law of the land" is to be obeyed?

On one hand, a federal judge has single-handedly nullified Alabama's state constitution on a whim. On the other hand, a State Supreme Court justice has sworn to uphold that same constitution. In addition, nothing in the U.S. Constitution grants federal judges the power to strike down state laws. (I know that kind of talk is considered heresy today, but these United States were once considered "free and independent.") So, which is the more legitimate law?

In regard to Judge Granade's ruling, Russell Moore would like to see Roy Moore "resign and protest against it as a citizen." Well, Judge Moore is already a citizen. As chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he is in a much better position to protest against unlawful judicial decisions, protecting those within his jurisdiction against an overreaching authority who would order others to do what God forbids.

God's law remains in effect. It would seem to me that the more legitimate law in the civil realm, the law to be obeyed, is the one under which "rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad" (Romans 13:3).

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Why I can't take Bill Nye seriously

In his latest book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, Bill Nye the "Science Guy" sounds more like those ignorant creationists he likes to ridicule than an objective, reasonable man of science:
In general, creationist groups do not accept evolution as the fact of life. It's not just that they don't understand how evolution led to the ancient dinosaurs, for example, they take it another step and deny that evolution happened at all anywhere, let alone that it is happening today. They want everyone else in the world to deny it, too, including you and me.

Inherent in this rejection of evolution is the idea that your curiosity about the world is misplaced and your common sense is wrong. This attack on reason is an attack on all of us. Children who accept this ludicrous perspective will find themselves opposed to progress. They will become society's burdens rather than its producers, a prospect that I find very troubling. Not only that, these kids will never feel the joy of discovery that science brings. They will have to suppress the basic human curiosity that leads to asking questions, exploring the world around them, and making discoveries. They will miss out on countless exciting adventures. We're robbing them of basic knowledge about their world and the joy that comes with it. It breaks my heart. (p. 10)
So, according to Nye, creationists have no interest in exploring the world around them, nor do they understand the joy of discovery. He is probably thinking of creationists like Francis Bacon, who gave us the scientific method. Maybe he is thinking of Johannes Kepler and his laws of planetary motion. Or perhaps he has in mind Isaac Newton, who revolutionized mathematics and physics.

Oh, but all those guys came before Charles Darwin, the patron saint of evolution. I suppose, then, Nye must have been referring to creationists like Louis Pasteur, the father of microbiology. Or James Joule, whose work with heat led to the law of conservation of energy and the first law of thermodynamics. Or Joseph Lister, the father of modern surgery. Come on, Bill.

I submit that it was a love of God and his creation that fueled the curiosity of these Christian scientists. The same can be said of modern creationists. After all, scripture is full of curiosity-inspiring passages:
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

"He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing." (Job 26:7)

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-4)

"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

"By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." (Hebrews 11:3)
Undeniable, at its outset, demonstrates Nye's ignorance of science, history, and what creationists actually believe. It also showcases his willingness to lie in order to demonize those who disagree with him. It's this kind of nonsense that makes it extremely difficult to take him seriously as a scientist.

Friday, February 13, 2015

This Week in Calvinism - February 13, 2015

  • Not surprisingly, Roger Olson has a soft spot for "revisionist Reformed" theologians who aren't so hardcore on the issue of God's sovereignty.

  • Six key events in the history of Baptist churches.

  • More free stuff from Tim Challies.

  • Pastor Ronnie Rogers rejects the idea that rejecting Calvinism requires a weak view of depravity.

  • Tweet from @GospelPanacea: "To reject the doctrine of election is to declare that, when left alone, you are more righteous than your unbelieving neighbor."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Church pledges submission to government

This past Sunday, February 8, was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at Gold Creek Community Church in Mill Creek, Washington. Pastor Dan Kellogg, decked out in a sheriff's uniform, spent some time onstage interviewing Snohomish County Executive John Lovick and Sheriff Ty Trenary.

After acknowledging the many assorted law enforcement officers in attendance, he launched into his "sermon." It was based on Romans 13, of course, which was written "in the midst of a government that wasn't honorable, like our government is." Um...yeah. You can see where this is going.

Toward the end of the service devoted to worship of the state, Pastor Kellogg led the congregation in the following pledge:
I pledge to do my best to follow the law.
I pledge to thank a police officer or deputy for their service.
I pledge to call 911 if I see someone suspicious in my neighborhood.
I pledge to watch the back of our officers as they fulfill their duties.
I pledge to pray for the safety of all members of law enforcement.
Are there no exceptions to this pledge? Are we to simply dismiss the problem of police brutality? Are we supposed to support the enforcement of each and every law, no matter what? I know I could not say this in good conscience, and I think it's shameful for a pastor to call on members of his congregation to make such a pledge before God.

Upon witnessing this spectacle, I was reminded of the so-called "clergy response team" that would be employed by the Department of Homeland Security in the event martial law was ever declared:


Honestly, I can't decide if Pastor Kellogg is just plain ignorant, or if he is actively trying to turn his church into a tool for the state. Watch the entire service and judge for yourself.

Friday, February 06, 2015

This Week in Calvinism - February 6, 2015

  • Thanks to the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale Divinity School, the collected works of America's favorite theologian can be viewed online for free.

  • A year after publishing Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed, Austing Fischer admits, "I feel as though I only now understand the deepest intention of the book." SPOILER ALERT: He's still no longer Reformed.

  • Inside the mind of a misfit Christian (and Calvinist) rapper.

  • You cannot serve both God and theology.

  • James White presents the first "Radio Free Geneva" of 2015.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Evolutionists set to go on the offensive

Evolutionists are upset that they can't seem to convince people fast enough that their worldview is superior to that of creationists. Their frustration is understandable. I mean, it's obvious to anyone with a brain that the earth is billions of years old. It's obvious that humans crawled up from the primordial soup. It's obvious that all living matter evolved from inorganic matter. It's obvious that everything came from nothing, for some reason, in defiance of every known physical law.

Dana Hunter, who blogs for Scientific American, thinks it's time for evolutionists (you know, real scientists) to go on the offensive and expose "creation science for the incoherent farce that it is":
So keep after them, when you get chances to confront them in public, or even just casually. Demand the mountains of rock-solid data. Demand the models that explain and predict more elegantly than our current ones. Demand they confront and resolve unanswered questions with their models. Demand the peer-reviewed papers that specifically back up their claims, and if they haven't got them, demand they write up and submit their work to reputable professional journals. Settle for nothing less than valid science of such quality that it can win majority support amongst the professionals. If they can't provide that, too bad for them. They'll have to come back when they can.
In short, make sure creationists are held to the exact same scientific standards that evolutionists refuse to be held to. Sounds like a winning strategy to me.

Psalm 37:12-13


Here, Stephen, maybe this brief explanation will help.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Are Christian health care ministries undermining ObamaCare? Let's hope so.

Molly Worthen, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, bemoans the growing popularity of health care sharing organizations like Samaritan Ministries International and Christian Healthcare Ministries. Sure, they have their admirable qualities, but it just isn't fair that they can escape the clutches of ObamaCare.

And, of course, limiting membership to Christians is a little too exclusive. Worthen concludes, "To make the Affordable Care Act stick, and to make it work, means convincing more Americans that they are not just their brother's keeper." Apparently, charity that isn't coerced at the point of a gun just isn't charity.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Shallow small group

Because when things get too deep, people drown.

Friday, January 30, 2015

This Week in Calvinism - January 30, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Justin Taylor offers biblical reasons to doubt 24-hour creation days


I have always held to the belief that the earth is relatively young. As to the exact age, I cannot say, but I still believe that its age can be measured in terms of thousands of years rather than millions or billions.

Justin Taylor leaves open the possibility of an old earth. In doing so, he offers some biblical reasons to doubt that the creation days mentioned in Genesis refer to 24-hour periods of time. He concludes:
God is portrayed as a workman going through his workweek, working during the day and resting for the night. Then on his Sabbath, he enjoys a full and refreshing rest. Our days are like God's workdays, but not identical to them.

How long were God's workdays? The Bible doesn't say. But I see no reason to insist that they were only 24 hours long.
I remain convinced of my position. First of all, regardless of how we wish to handle "day" in Genesis, each one, save for the seventh, has the clear distinction of having an "evening and morning." If the word "day" is supposed to refer to an indeterminate amount of time, does that mean the words "evening" and "morning" are just as ambiguous?

Let me pause to say that I realize the first three days wouldn't have included sunset and sunrise, because the sun wasn't created until the fourth day. But since even the original readers of this account would have only known days marked by an evening and morning, it makes sense that an author wishing to convey that the world was created in six 24-hour days would use the terminology he did.

Secondly, Jesus seemed to believe that the each day in Genesis referred to a rather short time span when he said that "from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.'" "From the beginning" doesn't leave much room to squeeze in vast amounts of time.

There are other reasons for my skepticism, but in spite of that I do appreciate Justin's post. It endeavors to interpret the Genesis creation account in light of scripture rather than the prevailing scientific consensus. The belief that the creation days weren't necessarily 24 hours in length does not mean that one must assume macroevolution and death before the fall.

Justin also reminds us that some of the great names in Reformed history were open to a non-literal interpretation of the creation account. He quotes J. Gresham Machen, who wrote, "It is certainly not necessary to think that the six days spoken of in that first chapter of the Bible are intended to be six days of twenty four hours each."

I would agree. After all, determining the age of the earth is not as fundamental as, say, the deity of Christ.

In short, calculating the age of the earth is not a hill upon which I am willing to die. If I can find common ground with Arminians, I can certainly find common ground with Old-Earthers.

Friday, January 23, 2015

This Week in Calvinism - January 23, 2015

  • You're invited to the "God, Governments, and Culture 2015 Conference" next month in Tempe, Arizona.

  • You're also invited to a conference this fall in Emden, Germany, on "Luther and Calvinism: Image and Reception of Martin Luther in the History and Theology of Calvinism."

  • No, D. G. Hart. We don't trust scientists only when they agree with us; we trust scientists when their conclusions aren't in direct contradiction with scripture.

  • Brian Myers of Caffeinated Thoughts Radio on Roger Olson's problem with Calvinism.

  • Did God harden Pharaoh's heart? No, Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and God just followed along. Apparently, God is not sovereign over his creation, he just "goes with the flow" (10:31). After all, "free will" must reign supreme.

  • Dieudonne Tamfu offers you biblical ammunition in the fight against porn.

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