Monday, March 31, 2014

Apparently, 'Noah' Is a Great Movie. A Bunch of 'Faith Leaders' Say So.

"Any good movie has to deviate from the book."
Especially if that book is the Bible.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Making Church Cool in 1897

Trying to make church appealing to disinterested youngsters is nothing new. Today, it's pop music and skinny jeans. In the late 1800's, it was Gilbert and Sullivan:

Friday, March 28, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - March 28, 2014

  • Richard Coords, on the discussion between Austin Fischer and James White: "Austin Fischer is no longer a Calvinist because he ceased the self-deception and honestly dealt with the difficult issue, whereas James White is in complete denial, and demonstrated that, completely."

  • On John Piper's lecture on New Calvinism at Westminster Theological Seminary, Dale M. Coulter concludes that "the New Calvinism looks a lot like the old New School Presbyterianism with a Baptist and charismatic flair to it."

  • In his second post in a four-part series on the New Calvinism-Old Calvinism discussion, Rick Phillips writes that "Old Calvinists should not be threatened by or feel pressure to conform to the New."

  • It is being reported that Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard has lost the support of the Board of Trustees and has been asked to resign.

  • While Paul Vander Klay has "been generally pleased to see the popular emergence of interest in Calvinism," he fears "that this appropriation of it won't last in the long run, as adherents grapple with the complexities of engagement with our cultural context."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Aborted Babies Burned to Heat U.K. Hospitals

The ancient Phoenicians burned their children in sacrifice to Molech. The modern Brits burn theirs to heat their hospitals:
The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found.

Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning foetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in "waste-to-energy" plants which generate power for heat.

Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr. Dan Poulter branded "totally unacceptable."

At least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4's Dispatches discovered.
Idolatry is alive and well.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Minimum Wage Legislation Based on "Principle As Old As the Bible"?

I wouldn't be surprised if Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois actually believes that "you shall not make less than $10.65 per hour" is the 11th Commandment:

Gary North dismantles Gov. Quinn's argument:
There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that the civil government has an obligation to achieve the impossible. If it is impossible for a civil government to pass a law that will make every employee a member of the middle class, simply because the government is incapable of making people sufficiently productive to enter the middle class, then anything that the government does in an attempt to make everyone a member of the middle class will backfire. It will increase the number of people who are poor. This is because employers will not hire them.

A minimum-wage law is, above all, a law that says that somebody who is willing to work for less than the minimum wage will not be allowed to do so, because the legislature has made such a transaction illegal. It restricts employers from making offers to employ people at less than the minimum wage. So, those people whose output is not sufficient to warrant paying them the minimum wage will find that they must either move outside the jurisdiction of the legislature, or seek employment in the black market, or go on welfare.

Probably they will go on welfare. They will figure that it's better to get something for nothing (welfare) than getting nothing for nothing (unemployment without pay). They are, in short, a lot smarter than those members of Illinois legislature who vote for a minimum-wage law. Those politicians really do believe that you can get something for nothing. You can get paid for output that you do not have the ability to produce.

Friday, March 21, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - March 21, 2014

  • On Westboro Baptist's supposedly "consistent" Calvinist theology, Gawker's Adam Weinstein writes:
    Basically, five-point Calvinism boils down to: There's a God who saves some people and screws the rest over for eternity, and there's nothing you can really do about it. If there were, He wouldn't be God, and you wouldn't be a depraved, terrible not-God quivering mass of id urges.
    Far be it from me to think someone might actually try doing a little research on a topic before writing about it.

  • On the Young, Restless, Reformed Movement, it's Roger Olson's opinion that "there are ideological and faddish dimensions to the YRRM that help explain its popularity. By no means does that detract from the good that it does. The passion for missions, for example, is certainly a benefit." But, yeah, it's mostly ideological and faddish. He concludes, "Something else will replace it—in a few years."

  • Roger Olson argues "that belief in double predestination is simply logically incompatible with the claim that God is good—unless 'good' is emptied of all meaning so that it is a useless cipher for something we don't know." Someone please remind Dr. Olson that "double predestination" does not mean "equal ultimacy."

  • Kevin DeYoung's nine thoughts on celebrity pastors, controversy, the New Calvinism, etc.

  • Matthew Barrett shares his thoughts on John Piper's recent lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary.

  • Reflecting on Piper's lecture, Jared Oliphint lists 12 features of the New Calvinism.

  • Rick Phillips sees the New Calvinism as a triumph of the Old.

  • D. G. Hart points out that the New Calvinism is not the Old.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Psalm 127:3

Whether it was intentional or not, the anti-abortion message is loud and clear:

Friday, March 14, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - March 14, 2014

  • Three months ago, John Piper addressed the question, "Where's the Arminian John Piper?" Roger Olson, the inspiration for that particular episode of "Ask Pastor John," finally responds.

  • David Murray explains why he thinks every politician should be a Calvinist.

  • Turretinfan shares his thoughts on the allegation that the New Living Translation is too Calvinistic.

  • John Piper responds to an outrageous charge in Austin Fischer's book Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed.

  • Austin Fischer responds to Piper.

  • Roger Olson responds to Piper's response to Fischer.

  • Denny Burk reviews Jeremy Walker's book The New Calvinism Considered: A Personal and Pastoral Assessment.

  • From whence cometh New Calvinism? Tim Challies has provided a handy infographic.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Everyone's a Theologian: A New Book from R. C. Sproul

Every Christian, by definition, is a theologian to some extent. That is why R. C. Sproul has written a new book for the layperson, titled Everyone's a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology:

Here is an excerpt:
Systematic theology is based on certain assumptions. The first assumption is that God has revealed Himself not only in nature but also through the writings of the prophets and the Apostles, and that the Bible is the Word of God. It is theology par excellence. It is the full logos of the theos.

The second assumption is that when God reveals Himself, He does so according to His own character and nature. Scripture Tells us that God created an orderly cosmos. He is not the author of confusion because He is never confused. He thinks clearly and speaks in an intelligible way that is meant to be understood.

A third assumption is that God's revelation in Scripture manifests those qualities. There is a unity to the Word of God despite the diversity of its authors. The Word of God was written over many centuries by many authors, and it covers a variety of topics, but within that diversity is unity. All the information found in Scripture--future things, the atonement, the incarnation, the judgement of God, the mercy of God, the wrath of God--have their unity in God Himself, so that when God speaks and reveals Himself, there is a unity in that content, a coherence.

God's revelation is also consistent. It has been said that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but if that were true, we would have to say that God has a small mind, because in His being and character, He is utterly consistent. He is the same Yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
Order your copy here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Call for Grace in the Midst of Controversy

Dr. James Galyon reminds us how important it is to remain gracious in the midst of controversy by posting a letter penned by John Newton:
John Newton (1725-1807)
Of all people who engage in controversy, we, who are called Calvinists, are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation. If, indeed, they who differ from us have a power of changing themselves, if they can open their own eyes, and soften their own hearts, then we might with less inconsistency be offended at their obstinacy: but if we believe the very contrary to this, our part is, not to strive, but in meekness to instruct those who oppose. “If peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth.” If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling blocks in the way of the blind or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their principles, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable. ...

... If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow creatures, and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves. If you can be content with showing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task; but I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands. Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts that you are taught of God, and favored with the unction of his Holy Spirit.
Read the full post here.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Isaiah 40

One of my favorite scenes from one of the greatest films ever made:

Friday, March 07, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - March 7, 2014

  • You can listen in on Dr. James White's discussion with Austin Fischer, author of Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed.

  • Dr. White continued his response in two sermons.

  • Benjamin J. Wetzel, a Ph.D. Candidate in history at the University of Notre Dame, reviews Fischer's book.

  • Joe Aguillard, who bravely stood up to the attempted "Calvinist takeover" on the campus of Louisiana College, is looking forward to having his contract renewed.

  • Join Tim Challies in 31 Days of Purity, spending the month of March thinking about and praying for sexual purity.

  • This month, Reformation Trust is giving away the eBook edition of How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home, by Derek Thomas. Download it here. Offer expires March 31.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Should We Repent of Lent?

"If we fulfill our personal law," writes Brian Lee, "we have confirmed ourselves in the conceit that we aren't so badly off after all." He discusses why traditions like Lent can often be detrimental to our faith:
The standard reply, of course, is that the penitence of Lent is not about scoring brownie points, but about meditating on the passion of Christ, and joining in his suffering. The ashes are applied in the shape of a cross to remind us of the cross, and the death we must each die to our sins and our bodily passions.

Two problems present themselves with this view. First, it underestimates our sin. Remember, Jesus listed pride and deceit as two of the things that bubble up from within our hearts. As sinners, we can’t help taking pride in the things we do to give our salvation a little push, so engaging in such self-prescribed spiritual disciplines just gives us more sin — the sin of pride — to repent of.

Second, and more fundamentally, is the uniqueness and purpose of Christ's sufferings. Jesus didn't die to purify his own soul, but ours. He fasted for forty days in the wilderness on our behalf, so we wouldn't have to; not as a model, but as a substitute. His passion was not a discipline that made his heart pure in its love for his Father, it was the price to be paid for our sins, and he paid it in full.

Christians are called to suffer as Christ suffered, that is, with the same purpose. We are called to suffer not for ourselves, but for others. When we engage in fasting in his image, but for the purpose of purifying ourselves, we invert that image. Such penitence is ultimately focused on self, not on the other.
Read the full post here.
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