Friday, May 29, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - May 29, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Beginning of U.S. Underground Churches?

Currently, it is perfectly legal to hold a Bible study in your home in California -- but only if you first obtain permission from the local authorities and pay the appropriate extortion fee. From WorldNetDaily:
    A San Diego pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a county official and warned they will face escalating fines if they continue to hold Bible studies in their home.

    The couple, whose names are being withheld until a demand letter can be filed on their behalf, told their attorney a county government employee knocked on their door on Good Friday, asking a litany of questions about their Tuesday night Bible studies, which are attended by approximately 15 people.

    "Do you have a regular weekly meeting in your home? Do you sing? Do you say 'amen'?" the official reportedly asked. "Do you say, 'Praise the Lord'?"

    The pastor's wife answered yes.

    She says she was then told, however, that she must stop holding "religious assemblies" until she and her husband obtain a Major Use Permit from the county, a permit that often involves traffic and environmental studies, compliance with parking and sidewalk regulations and costs that top tens of thousands of dollars.

    And if they fail to pay for the MUP, the county official reportedly warned, the couple will be charged escalating fines beginning at $100, then $200, $500, $1000, "and then it will get ugly."
Now, this kind of "persecution" isn't anything like what we see happening to believers around the world, but is it possibly a glimpse of what's to come?

Friday, May 22, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - May 22, 2009

Psalm 98:4 (?????)

(Just in case you couldn't tell, the song is "How Great Thou Art.")

Thursday, May 21, 2009

If You Won't Believe the Bible Due to a "Lack of Evidence"...

...why not be consistent?

According to Tominthebox News Network, a 37-year-old man has debunked his own birth:
    "All of the so-called records of my birth have been completely destroyed. I performed research at the hospital and all that remains are copies of copies of copies of all the original paperwork. And these copies are not even on paper, but on microfilm that must be printed to get a paper copy. When I print out the copies, they are not always clear. So to believe I was really born to this woman and man at this hospital, I would have to believe that this information stored on this film was actually created from real documents from the time of my so-called birth and signed by my so-called mother and my so-called father over 37 years ago and somehow preserved through time. I can't even find last month's electric bill in my house, and I'm supposed to believe that some disinterested parties have taken the time to preserve my birth records from 37 years ago?"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Evolutionist's Unshakable Faith

It appears another nail has been hammered into creationism's coffin. Scientists have discovered the "missing link" -- well, one of about a million missing links, anyway. According to paleontologist Jorn Hurum, this (supposedly) 47-million-year-old lemur-like fossil "is the first link to all humans, the closest thing we can get to a direct ancestor."

That's right, folks. After all their painstaking research, this... the closest they've come to proving that apes and humans have a common ancestry.

But we Christians are the ones accused of having a blind faith -- a faith that is rooted in nothing more than warm, fuzzy feelings and wishful thinking. And when we try to defend our belief in a Creator, we're laughed at for ignoring the clear evidence that everything spontaneously emerged from nothing, and that all life evolved from inorganic matter.

Oh, if only our faith was as unshakable as the evolutionist's.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fast or Hunger Strike?

"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:16-18).

Friday, May 08, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - May 8, 2009

  • Getting around total depravity, the supreme sovereignty of God, and the "age of accountability" question is easy. Simply deny original sin.

  • You can always tell when someone has recently stumbled across the theology of Calvinism. They tend to lash out with the tired, old "God is the author of evil" and "Calvin murdered Servetus" arguments, as if they were the first ones to use them. Come on, people. Can't we at least try to be original?

  • John Piper preaches on "The Free Will of the Wind."

  • As we mark the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birth, R. C. Sproul Jr. reminds us that "all our heroes save one had feet of clay."

  • Viewing Calvin at the bottom of a deep well.

  • Writes David Daniels, "Despite the current Calvinistic resurgence, many contemporary Christians cringe at the thought of wading through the finely-honed theology of a Jonathan Edwards or John Owen. Banner of Truth is taking aim at this reticence to encounter the Puritans by introducing us to their carefully crafted summaries of significant Puritan titles."

  • Because of our belief in God's foreordination, we Calvinists are often accused by Arminians of being deterministic. They would much rather focus on God's foreknowledge. However, as Steve at Triablogue notes, this presents Arminians with a dilemma because "even though foreknowledge doesn't actually determine the future, foreknowledge does assume the future is determinate. If God knows the future, then the future cannot be otherwise."

  • Irish Calvinist on the essence of the Christian message.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mother's Day in the 21st Century


Are you there, Mom? It's me, Margaret. Sorry, I was hoping to catch you.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I made a donation in your name to Planned Parenthood. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the life you gave me than by supporting the slaughter of unborn children.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Bye!


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Onward Christian Soldiers?

Consider this report from Reuters:
    Bibles in Afghan languages sent to a U.S. soldier at a base in Afghanistan were confiscated and destroyed to ensure that troops did not breach regulations which forbid proselytising, a military spokeswoman said.

    The U.S. military has denied its soldiers tried to convert Afghans to Christianity, after Qatar-based Al Jazeera television showed soldiers at a bible class on a base with a stack of bibles translated into the local Pashto and Dari languages.

    U.S. Central Command's General Order Number 1 forbids troops on active duty -- including all those based in Iraq and Afghanistan -- from trying to convert people to another religion.

    "I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera's clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed," spokeswoman Major Jennifer Willis said at Bagram air base, north of Kabul.
My initial reaction was one of shock. The chaplains were the ones responsible for confiscating these Bibles? How could they do something like that in good conscience?

Despite the official denial of the military, it's obvious the Bibles were intended to be distributed among the local population. Regardless, some may argue that the chaplains should have ignored the order. As the Apostle Peter said, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

But as I reflected further on this incident I found it increasingly difficult to sympathize with those involved. While we are called to evangelize other nations, I'm not sure it's the place of an active duty member of the U.S. military to assume that responsibility, even if all that is entailed is simply handing out Bibles.

I have two concerns. First of all, evangelizing isn't in any soldier's job description. Just as we don't expect to see anyone else in secular employment evangelizing on "company time," we shouldn't expect it from our soldiers.

Secondly, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan on a military mission. Killing people and destroying property was the very nature of that mission, and I don't think the spreading of the gospel should ever be associated with the use of military force.

The war we are called to fight is a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12-13), and the weapon we have been given is the "sword of the spirit" (Ephesians 6:17). Going out into the world to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19) should be done with the willingness to give our own lives for the sake of the gospel (Matthew 16:25, John 12:24-25), not in the process of taking the lives of others. The military, after all, is a tool of the state, not a ministry arm of the church.

More on this story:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Five Things Christians Do That Other Religious Adherents Don't

From Thabiti Anyabwile's blog:
  1. Turn their sacred Scripture into coloring books for children, or bedtime stories with full color sketches.

  2. Reduce the central message or teachings of their religion to a T-shirt slogan.

  3. Tweet that central message or those key teachings.

  4. Wear sandwich boards with their messages placarded on them.

  5. Record sacred music that sounds like cheesy love songs.

Friday, May 01, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - May 1, 2009

  • Levi seems to think that Calvinists make divine love subordinate to divine justice. Not at all. God is love, but it is a just and holy love. And while that love isn't subordinate to his justice, it's impossible to comprehend apart from that justice.

  • According to economic think tank director Xavier Comtesse, Swiss banking secrecy has its roots in Calvinism: "We protect against any state despotism. This way of thinking has historical roots in Protestantism, which in Calvin's time sought to protect the people against the despotism of the powerful Catholic Church."

  • There's a nice post at on Calvinism and missions: "If we allow Scripture to be our guide, we'll find that election -- rather than being the enemy of missions -- is actually the very source of evangelistic zeal."

  • Why does Michael Patton, a Calvinistic complementarian, go to an Arminian egalitarian church? He explains.

  • Wesleyan Arminian has posted a quiz for Calvinists. Check it out!

  • According to a recent survey in the Netherlands, young Dutch people are more Calvinist than their elders.

  • If perfect angels could sin and fall, how do we know that we won't in eternity? Pastor John Piper answers.

  • Mike Ratliff on the perseverance of the saints.
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