Friday, February 27, 2009

Papa Don't Preach

The British government is encouraging parents to, well, not parent.
From Times Online:
    Parents should avoid trying to convince their teenage children of the difference between right and wrong when talking to them about sex, a new government leaflet is to advise.

    Instead, any discussion of values should be kept "light" to encourage teenagers to form their own views, according to the brochure, which one critic has called "amoral".

    Talking to Your Teenager About Sex and Relationships will be distributed in pharmacies from next month as part of an initiative led by Beverley Hughes, the children’s minister.

    The leaflet comes in the wake of the case of Alfie Patten, the 13-year-old boy from East Sussex who fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl and sparked a debate about how to cut rates of teenage parenthood.

    It advises: "Discussing your values with your teenagers will help them to form their own. Remember, though, that trying to convince them of what's right and wrong may discourage them from being open."
You know it's a bad idea when the so-called "experts" start weighing in with their support:
    Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, said educating older children and teenagers about sex had to be a process of negotiation. "We do not know what is right and wrong; right and wrong is relative, although your child does need clear guidelines," she said.
So, if you hate your children, go ahead and heed their advice and refuse to teach them right from wrong. It really is the least you could do.

This Week in Calvinism - February 27, 2009

  • John Calvin the "father of America"?

  • Calvinists told to get the "L" outta here.

  • Greg Koukl reconciles Calvinism and evangelism tactics.

  • Ethan Smith reconciles evangelism and predestination.

  • What do you mean when you say God is sovereign?

  • In 1819, Thomas Taylor wrote a critique entitled A Solemn Caution Against the Ten Horns of Calvinism. You can read it online or download it here.

  • Michelle laments the "false doctrine of election," even providing a few proof-texts (KJV-only, of course) to support her position. But what about scripture's abundant use of words like "elect" and "election"? What about passages like Romans 9 and Ephesians 1?

  • WHIFF! WHIFF! Do you feel a breeze? That's just Bob Ross, a.k.a. the Calvinist Flyswatter. He's taking another swing (and a miss) at the folks at Founders Ministries, a group he calls "a proselytizing parasitical sect, soaked in Hybrid Calvinism."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Atonement Alternatives?

Emergent leader Tony Jones is encouraging his readers to think about alternatives to the penal substitutionary "theory" of the atonement. Other emergent types, like Mike Morrell, have already been contemplating this issue.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Letter to a Dying Teenager

The following was included in this morning's Grace Gems e-mail:
    Letter to a Dying Teenager
    (Excerpt from a letter of Legh Richmond to his dying teenage son, 1824)

    My ever dear son,

    You are never out of my thoughts -- but there is an eye which beholds and watches over you, in a way that I cannot do. To Him I confide and commend you, for sickness and health, for time and eternity.

    What a word, what a thought, is ETERNITY!
    What prospects does it set before us! What inconceivable mysteries are involved in it! How does it make the things of time dwindle into insignificance! What questions of unspeakable importance, are involved in it!

    Sin, a corrupt nature, a broken law, an offended God, eternal punishment, conscience, guilt, regeneration, salvation by Christ, faith, hope, love, free grace, undeserved mercy, justification, effectual calling, adoption into God's family, pardon of sin, consolation in Christ, heaven and glory! These, and a thousand accompaniments, are all connected with the idea and the reality of ETERNITY!

    What a sad proof of the depravity of our heart -- is our indifference towards thinking upon things which belong to our everlasting peace; and which, if neglected, involve our eternal ruin! We need warnings -- and the Lord sends them in many ways. Sickness, pain, bereavements, losses, disappointments -- all bring their message with them.

    The great question between our souls and God is not whether we admit the truths of the Scripture into our understandings -- but whether they are so applied to our hearts -- so as to have wrought a change, and become vital principles of faith and practice. Nothing short of this can afford evidence of a saved and safe condition.

    Be much in prayer and self-examination. The more we see of ourselves -- the more we see our sin. And the more we see our sin -- the more we flee to the death and righteousness of Christ -- for pardon, deliverance, and hope! Let nothing interrupt you in this continual work of self-examination; and let self-examination lead you to earnest and ardent prayer. Let no pursuits of literature, no delights of sense, no passing occurrences, no debility of body, no inferior subjects of recreation, prevent you from keeping your thoughts close to God and to eternity!

    You have arrived at an age when many dangerous temptations will assail you, and you will be put to the test -- whether your heart is right with God. You are thrown upon the world and its seductions, and you will find indeed, that it lies in wickedness -- multiplied, subtle, and appalling wickedness! May God preserve you, my dear son -- and may you never wander from the way in which you have been trained!

    Keep a continual watch over your disposition, temper, and thoughts. Pride in every form -- must be brought low.

    Do not wonder, that I cannot rest contented with superficial religion -- but that I look for a deeply experimental life of God in your soul. I place time and eternity before me in holy imagination. I strive, as it were, to penetrate the veil which separates them -- and to look earnestly at those things which belong to your everlasting peace!

    Lay all these things to heart; make them the subject of unceasing petition at that throne -- whence no believing supplicants are ever sent empty away.

    I commend you to Him, who has all events in His hands, whose consolations are neither few nor small, who gave his Son to die for your sins, and whose compassions never fail. The precious Redeemer shall protect, guard and comfort you. But seek Him aright -- do not trifle with the great concerns of your soul.

    Adieu for the present, my child, my friend -- and, in Christ, my brother.
The objective of GraceGems.org "is to set before the Christian pilgrim some reflections which may prove challenging, consolatory and encouraging -- as he journeys up from this bleak, arid, wilderness world, leaning on his Beloved." If you haven't subscribed to their daily e-mails, I encourage you to do so.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Climb the Bible's Mount Everest?

Because it's there.

Desiring God Blog's David Mathis is referring to Romans 8:32: "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" He writes:
    At the center of God's magnificent Himalayan promises is his pledge to work all things -- especially life's most difficult things -- for the good of his people (verses 28-30; 35-39). These promises are so huge that they are hard to believe.

    Is God really working all my worst circumstances for my good? Yes! That's what Romans 8:32 is saying. And it's doing so by reasoning from the gospel to God's goodness in all things.

    Here's how it works. First, Paul recounts the gospel: "[God] did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all..." God gave his Son for us sinners. That's the good news -- the central truth of Christianity. This is what we believe to be saved, and this is what we keep believing to stay saved.

    Then Paul reasons from this gospel to God's goodness toward us in all our deepest pain: "...how will he not, also with him, graciously give us all things?"

    It's a rhetorical question—what Paul means is that God will most certainly give us all things for our good. Not only will he supply all our ultimate needs, but he will bring into our lives only the things that are for our good.

    Do we believe that God gave his Son? Do we believe the gospel? Then we are free to believe -- really believe -- that God will work all things for our good.

    That's the logic of Romans 8:32. That's Mount Everest. Giving his Son was the hard thing; making every painful trial in our lives work for our good is easy. May God give us the grace to trust him in our trials.
What better words of joy and comfort could we ask for?

Friday, February 20, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - February 20, 2009

  • Some have tried to draw parallels between Calvinism and Islam, but Paul Manata refutes that notion.

  • Ex-President Bill Clinton doesn't want to be a "house husband." He said, "I'm too much of a Calvinist. If I don't work everyday I get nervous." See the video here.

  • Scot McKnight is concerned about the rise of the "NeoReformed" (part 1, part 2).

  • Justin Taylor responds.

  • Tom Ascol asks, "What will we be in the SBC?"

  • Why does God demand the impossible? Adrian Warnock reminds us: "God urges us to do the impossible so that we will turn to him in desperation and plead with him to do for us what he has commanded." Soli Deo Gloria!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

J. Gresham Machen: A Forgotten Libertarian

J. Gresham Machen is mostly remembered as a theologian, apologist, and founder of Westminster Theological Seminary. But he was also a strong defender of political liberty and economic freedom.

He was ahead of his time. Long before evangelicals were whining about evolution and sex education being taught in government schools, Machen was speaking out on the evils of nationalized education.

Read more about this Calvinist libertarian in Daniel F. Walker's 1993 article.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pulpit Plagiarism

Why wrack your brain trying to come up with your own original sermons when it's so much easier to steal one from someone else? Galatiansc4v16 has the story.

Pastors, if you're going to use someone else's words rather than your own, why not just pick up a Bible? Trust me. Your congregation will love you for it -- even, no, especially if you quote it verbatim.

"Quotable"

"God is always like Himself."
- John Calvin

"It is impossible to reason someone out of something that he did not reason himself into in the first place."
- Jonathan Swift

"God never gives us discernment in order that we may be critical, but that we may intercede."
- Oswald Chambers

"Remove natural man from his rituals and he must begin to think in the realm of impossibilities."
- Pastor William Downing

"Contentment is spiritual equilibrium - in both favorable and adverse circumstances."
- Anonymous

Friday, February 13, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why We Water Down the Gospel

Why are so many Christians in America trying to make the gospel more palatable to a fallen, sinful world? I think there are many reasons, but let's just look at a couple.

First, there's pride. We realize that the gospel itself is offensive. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming Christ as one who would be "a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling" (Isaiah 8:14). We also know that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), but we don't really want to take that message to the people. Couldn't we just show people how much better their lives could be with Christ in control? Why not focus our attention on the positive aspects of Christianity? In short, we think we can come up with a better way of presenting the gospel than how it's actually presented in scripture.

The apostle Paul, however, warned against removing "the offense of the cross" (Galatians 5:11). Scripture is clear. If we preach Jesus Christ and him crucified, we will offend unbelievers -- and even some believers. It's a given.

Another reason we water down the gospel is fear. We love ourselves and don't want to be made to suffer for our beliefs. The bearers of offensive news typically aren't received very well. Look at what happens to Christians all over the world when they run into opposition. They are ridiculed. They are insulted. They are imprisoned. They are even killed. Who in their right mind would put themselves in such a vulnerable position?

Fortunately, he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Paul, having been persecuted himself for the sake of Christ, offered this exhortation: "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God" (2 Timothy 1:8).

May I learn to trust in my Lord and Savior for that kind of courage when it comes to sharing his gospel.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Irony of Ironies

The theory of evolution had to be created.

Friday, February 06, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - February 6, 2009

  • "Ukrainiac" is "really looking forward to getting to know John Calvin" this year, the 500th anniversary of his birth.

  • Are Calvinist professors being forced out of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary? Wade Burleson discusses it here, here, and here.

  • Dave Armstrong considers sola gratia to be a "perfectly acceptable biblical and Catholic teaching," but considers monergism to be heresy. Alrighty, then.

  • Minister-turned-atheist John Loftus calls Calvinism "bulls---." (Yeah, I know. He's a class act.) That's quite a charge coming from someone whose own worldview does not allow for such things as right or wrong. But the real irony is that his concept of a universe sans Creator is doomed to naturalistic predeterminism. There is no way around it. In such a world even our "free-will" thoughts are nothing more than the result of chance chemical reactions and the random firing of neurons. So, human beings can't possibly be free to do what they want to do. We Calvinists at least allow for that. And yet Mr. Loftus thinks our belief system is the problem. That's just...well...you know.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mark 8:36



(I also thought y'all might appreciate this blast from the past!)

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Super Bowl Commercial You Weren't Allowed to See

You didn't see it because NBC refused to run it. One viewing of this powerful and ironic video and you'll understand why.

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