Monday, March 30, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where I've Been This Past Week

My wife and I just returned from a week-long trip to Haiti where we met our children, Patricia and Philippe, for the very first time. Sadly, we weren't able to bring them home, and thanks to bureaucratic red tape we won't be able to until next year at the earliest.

There is so much to tell that I can't even begin to touch on it here, but I can say that it was the trip of a lifetime. I had never experienced such a wide spectrum of emotion in such a short period of time. There was the deep sadness over the condition of Haiti and its people. There was the humility and conviction over just how much I complain about minor inconveniences. There was the overwhelming joy upon first meeting our kids, and the extreme heartache when we had to kiss them goodbye. Overall, it was a wonderful experience, one I will never forget.

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you can view some pictures from our trip. I may try posting them on Picasa if I get around to it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Late Great Planet Church: The Rise of Dispensationalism

This DVD, put together by the same people who brought you Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism, is sure to cause quite a stir, even in Reformed circles:

Featured are Kenneth L. Gentry, Gary DeMar, Tom Ascol, and many others. Volume One is set to be released at the end of this month, but you can pre-order a copy here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ignatius: The New Breed of Youth Pastor

This Week in Calvinism - March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Coming Evangelical Collapse

Michael "iMonk" Spencer has written an interesting piece for the Christian Science Monitor on the future of evangelicalism. His predictions are rather dire:
    We are on the verge -- within 10 years -- of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

    Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

    This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

    Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.
Spencer does, however, discuss the potentials such a collapse may have to offer. He concludes, "We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born."

Read the full article here.

Artificial "Life"?

Scientists believe that artificial life is possible within five years. From the New York Times:
    Laboratories across the world are closing in on a "second genesis" -- an achievement that would be one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of all time.

    Prof David Deamer, from California University, said although building a new lifeform from scratch is a daunting task he is confident it can happen in five to 10 years.

    He said: "The momentum is building -- we're knocking at the door."

    A synthetic, made-to-order living system could produce everything from new drugs to biofuels and greenhouse gas absorbers.

    Opponents of the controversial research claim the technology could lead to machines becoming "almost human".
I found this story especially interesting in light of Darrell's post yesterday, as well as the recent story of a fertility clinic offering designer babies.

A few things jumped out at me as I read this. First, these scientists must have some kind of God-complex to believe they actually can (or even should) create life. Second, in order to create even a single living cell, they must first start with organic building blocks. So, in reality, they aren't creating anything; they are merely altering existing living material. Third, you and I both know that any "life" generated through these experiments will be held in higher esteem than the human embryos already being sacrificed in the name of science.

Therein lies the irony. On one hand, attempting to "create" artificial life is deemed a worthy cause, and any success would most certainly be heralded as a breakthrough. On the other hand, deliberately destroying human life through experimentation is considered noble because it's for the "greater good," whatever that may be. (As Darrell pointed out, it's very difficult to escape the comparisons with Nazism when discussing these kinds of issues.)

In a worldview that believes it is possible to make moral judgments without an absolute moral standard, these are the kinds of glaring inconsistencies that arise. Sadly, too many people are willing to just live with them rather than try to resolve them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stem Cells and the Mythology of Science

While Americans increasingly distrust and detest the politicians and assorted babblers among the chattering classes, they are prone still to swallow the mythology of science. According to the purveyors of this myth with science all things are possible. Sickness, disease, even death can be abolished. Life can be created along with new organs, arms and legs grown by these magicians in lab coats. All that’s needed is your tax money and a complete lack of scruples.

On March 9th, President Obama issued an executive order allowing federal funds to be used on the experimentation of babies. This represents the complicity and imprimatur of the United States in the Mengelesque destruction of life in the name of “science” (Yes, I’m aware that Nazi references are typically out of bounds as a tool of debate. But do you have a better name for this?).

It may sound strange, but this mindset is a product of Darwinian presuppositions. Evolutionists are attempting to reverse God’s order in creation. The orthodox Christian affirms that a sovereign, omnipotent God created the universe. Evolutionists turn this on its head by insisting that an autonomous, omnipotent impersonal force, i.e., chance, led to the development of a new sovereign god—the scientist. While initially enthroning blind chance and cosmic purposelessness the evolutionist eliminates God and by default man evolves toward divinity. No longer constrained by a transcendent law man is then beyond good and evil, beyond morality and therefore can justify murder in the name of science.

Paul Washer on the Significance of the Cross

"People say the cross is a sign of how much man is worth. That's not true. The cross is a sign of how depraved we really are ... The only thing that could save a people like us was the death of God's own Son under the wrath of His own Father, paying the price, rising again from the dead. Powerful to say, this is the Gospel of Jesus."

(Excerpt from this sermon.)

Monday, March 09, 2009

How Will YOU Celebrate the Resurrection of Christ?

With a new Easter costume perhaps?

Losing My Religion

Welcome to post-Christian America!

According to a recent study, more Americans are claiming to have no religion. From Fox News:
    A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

    Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

    Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state. ...

    ... Evangelical or born-again Americans make up 34 percent of all American adults and 45 percent of all Christians and Catholics, the study found. Researchers found that 18 percent of Catholics consider themselves born-again or evangelical, and nearly 39 percent of mainline Protestants prefer those labels. Many mainline Protestant groups are riven by conflict over how they should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships, salvation and other issues.
The mission field is now open.

Friday, March 06, 2009

New Bible to Watch Out For

Come on. You all knew it was only a matter of time until Joel Osteen released his own Bible.

Here's the description from Amazon:
    It is the very character and essence of God in written form. As you study the Scriptures with an alert mind and a receptive heart, you will be strengthened, empowered, and filled with the hope that comes through a loving and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We are who the Bible says we are, we can have what it says we can have, and we can do all that it promises we can do.

    This is the heart of the message that Joel and Victoria Osteen share every week with an audience of millions around the world via television, the internet, and worship events. Their practical, uplifting message of hope found in Christ has changed the lives of individuals, impacted families, and literally transformed communities. They place an incredible value on the principles of the Bible, which have a miraculous, life-changing impact on anyone who is willing to study and obey its truths.

    The Hope for Today Bible is filled with insights, notes, and encouragements from Joel and Victoria designed to help you grow deeper in your walk with God. It also includes specific verses that you can pray over your relationships, your children, your finances, and your health. In addition, "HopePoints" are key words and supporting scriptures related to topics such as favor, forgiveness, anger, depression, loneliness, self-control, and many more.

    This Bible is presented in the New Living Translation, which combines phenomenal scholarship and textual accuracy with clear, easy-to-understand contemporary language. The Bible will come alive and become clear like never before.
Consider yourself warned.

This Week in Calvinism - March 6, 2009

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pastoring Adoptive Parents and Those Considering Adoption

Jason Kovacs, Director of Ministry Development for The ABBA Fund, discusses 10 ways a pastor can help parents who have adopted and those who are considering adoption:
  1. Develop your own heart for the fatherless.
  2. Do a biblical study on God's perspective on orphans.
  3. Educate yourself on basic facts about adoption and orphan care.
  4. Ask questions.
  5. Remind them that they desire a good and God-magnifying thing.
  6. Keep on encouraging them.
  7. Provide financial counsel and help.
  8. Cry with them and celebrate with them.
  9. Celebrate adoptions publicly in services.
  10. Don't feel like you have to have all the answers.
Patricia and PhilippeRead the details here.

As someone in the process of adopting a little girl from China and a brother and sister from Haiti, I am thankful to belong to a church that places a heavy emphasis on adoption, especially when I consider the parallels between earthly adoption and our own adoption through Christ.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Lawsuit Against God Dismissed

You may recall that Ernie Chambers, a former Nebraska state senator, sought a permanent injunction against God back in 2007 for causing "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants." A Douglas County District Court judge threw out the suit in 2008 on the grounds that the defendant was never served a legal notice. Chambers appealed, saying that if God was indeed omnipresent and omniscient, then he knew he was being sued, so no legal notice was needed.

As expected, the Nebraska Court of Appeals recently dismissed the lawsuit, but not because it believed it lacked the jurisdiction or the authority to enforce such an injunction against the Creator of the universe. No, the suit was dismissed because the court decided it does not rule on abstract, hypothetical, or fictitious issues.

Mr. Chambers, you will get your day in court, but it will be as the defendant. The question is, will you be left to defend yourself (which you won't be able to do), or will you have Jesus Christ as your advocate?

(I suppose I should also add that the members of the Nebraska Court of Appeals will eventually find out just how abstract, hypothetical, or fictitious God really is.)

Monday, March 02, 2009

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