Friday, October 31, 2008


This post contains summaries and quotations from various blogs.

· Turk argues that the atheist worldview is not superior to the theist worldview on account of the problem of pain because the atheist cannot solve it and still must make painful decisions. The worldview offers no solution: "Their philosophy doesn't create any resolutions which are less painful than the problems they have represented. So if the problem of pain causes an issue of inconsistency for the theist, it equally causes a problem of inexplicability for the atheist."

· In a debate on a presbyterian blog centred on the rightness of theonomy, Hays interacts with commentators, pointing out that a problem with criticizing theonomy is that enemies of the faith criticize OT ethics, which is what many-antitheonomists are tacitly doing. We still have to uphold OT ethics if they are from God and therefore morally right - and that must factor into criticisms of theonomy. Hays also adopts the three-fold distinction of the law in responding to the critics and points out that contemporary moral debates draw from OT prooftexts as well as NT. Comparisons between theonomy and Sharia law are bankrupt unless OT Law is morally equivalent to Sharia. While not necessarily straightforward, Hays offers this as regards applying OT ethics: "Some case laws are timebound injunctions, tied to the specific, socioeconomic conditions of the ANE. Other case laws, while culturally conditioned to some degree, involve timeless principles which are applicable to a modern situation as long as we abstract the generic norm and modernize it accordingly."

· A worker on Hillary Clinton's campaign is apparently working for McCain in Pennsylvania, and Obama's stance on abortion has made him radioactive to young evangelicals. A comparison is drawn between Obama and Arab political tragedy: one " laments that "those vast Obama crowds, though, have recalled for me the politics of charisma that wrecked Arab and Muslim societies.""

· Manspeak asks: "Why do you believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God?" and "aren’t we begging the question by saying “I believe the Bible is Word of God, because the Bible says it’s the Word of God.”"

· An objector uses the Calvin-Servetus incident [ahistorically] as an objection to Calvin while making the erroneous statement that Arminians have never persecuted anyone. "He begins with an ad hominem argument which he then turns into guilt-by-association smear." Not only this, but there are gross overstatements, like "people should be free to think, act, and live what they believe," and the grouping of heretics in with Scriptural statements directed the brothers.

· Political indifference on the basis that God is on His throne conflates fatalism with God's sovereignty, resulting in a political hypercalvinism.

· Someone goes after Dobson for his predictions about an Obama vote, and Hays points to the general smugness and moral indifference of the commentator.

· Hays goes after Klinean two kingdom theory and the idea that none of the OT law applies today by pointing out, again, the distinction in moral, civil, and ceremonial laws, but states: "The Mosaic law code doesn’t have laws and penalties regarding national defense, statecraft, property crimes, sex crimes, crimes of violence, and so on, because it’s a type of the final judgment. Any nation-state will have to have this sort of thing to uphold public justice and order. Otherwise, social life is impossible. Some of the laws are obsolete because they codify a now-defunct socioeconomic system. But many of the laws exemplify generic norms that are still applicable to modernity."

· Now an eight-armed creature is at 600 million years... it just keeps getting earlier - evolution is running out of time!

· Russell Moore challenges people to be focused upon building countercultural churches, places where we are pro-life in deed, and not just words and signs.

· Dawkins is leaving Oxford to study the effect of fairy tales on kids!

· There is an irony in feeling better than others on account that you are not self-righteous like them.

· Homosexuals often appeal to genetics, nature, etc. to absolve moral responsibility for the 'way they are.' But Christian theology teaches that we are by nature sinful and still guilty, so this defence is hardly useful. It doesn't work with monogamy and adultery. And the rapist cited in this article claims that he was born to be a rapist. Does that absolve him before the homosexual community? The reality is that we are all sinners, all hard-wired to sin, and all in desperate need of regeneration.

· As it turns out, the genetic arguments put forward by kinists cannot withstand genetic facts. Interestingly, genes for intelligence, etc. have not been found.

· Regarding Jude's use of pseudepigrapha, J"ude makes judicious and limited use of references to apocryphal literature and evokes only sources that tie into the canonical text and interpretive traditions surrounding it. " See for details.

· Archaeologists are talking about a piece of pottery found with Hebrew writing from 3000 BC in the valley of Elah - which is the time the Bible says that David was ruling. . See also

· This article thinks about the importance of hospitality in evangelism - receiving people and being better guests. "we needed to learn how to cultivate a lifestyle where we give and receive hospitality as part of our relationships with our non-Christian neighbours and friends"

· Turretinfan directs to this post, which addresses five alleged misconceptions about the Sabbath. 1) That it's primarily a day of rest, 2) that there is no such thing as secular so the whole week is holy, 3) that the Sabbath is optional, 4) that there are thousands of reformed pastors playing football with their kids in the backyard, 4)  the Sabbath is hard for man.

· More women write in about ways that they do good to their husbands.

· Some quotes from experts on the bad constitutional law that is exemplified in Roe. vs. Wade.

· Challies reviews Keller's new book, the Prodigal God, which is focused on the parable of the prodigal son. "There are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord," says Keller. "One is by breaking all the moral laws and setting your own course, and one is by keeping all the moral laws and being very, very good."

· This post exhorts people to look at the lives of the martyrs in church past.

· Some thoughts on when pastors should and should not refer to Christian counselors. Even with these reasons, the author thinks that pastors refer way too often, and that counseling should be recovered by the church.

· "Catholics in Alliance recently released a study questioning the effectiveness of pro-life legislation and arguing that greater spending on welfare programs was a better strategy for reducing abortion. Unfortunately, their study is seriously flawed. Rigorous analysis of their own data indicates that increased welfare spending only has little to no impact on abortion. Public funding restrictions and informed-consent laws, however, are effective at reducing abortion rates."

· This book, Radical Womanhood,  explains the effects of feminism and its fallout, and encourages us to biblical know how to deal with it.

· This is kind of funny.

· Mohler draws attention to the 'safe, legal, and rare' promise about abortion from Clinton that Obama supporters are now picking up. Some pro-lifers are arguing that its ok to vote for Obama because the social changes that he would bring in would reduce abortion. Mohler points out that in all this the life of the unborn is being glossed over, and that when people weary of the abortion debate and start to give up the legal battle, it is the moral status of the unborn that is ignored.

· While the Scriptural commands are softened, such as submission, by those who think them slavish, etc., Powlison points out that we are all followers of Christ with a common call from God that defines us as peers to each other, and we should always be loving each other with redemptive love and letting it saturate every relationship; we should live as servant-leaders and servant-submitters, and when we are subordinate we should focus on standing under our leader; and we should recognize that all of us play different roles in different times.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


This post contains snippets and summaries from various blogs.

  • Hays points to snake imagery and cultural markers from ancient mesopotamia, including numerous snake gods and cults, which point to religious associations, saying that "identification would explain the preternatural powers of the snake in Gen 3. It’s not a snake at all. Rather, it’s a serpentine symbol of a numinous being. "
  • "Prophetic love often feels painful. It hurts when prophets tell us we have sinned. If prophets let that short term fall in popularity govern their words they are false prophets. And they do not love people, they love themselves."

  • Don't confuse guarding your heart from sin and folly with the error of withholding love on account that you could or will be hurt.

  • The very future of our civilization is at stake in the gay marriage debate. It is an ideological war, fundamentally opposed, with both sides arguing in moral terms. There has been a massive shift in perception as homosexuality is now considered a norm by most, and just part of the options available to people. The pro-gay activists know that traditional marriage is utterly incompatible with their position, so they must destroy or revise it.

  • In a ministry that preaches a false self-esteem gospel and denigrates Scripture and expositional preaching in favour of therapeutic messages, the older Schuller has removed the younger Schuller - probably because the latter was too biblical.

  • Do you have a heart of rock, that you do not take pity on your unregenerate fellows around you, at work, home, etc?

  • Romanists act decidedly protestant in reinterpreting the magisterium while they attempt to defend it.

  • Horton, in Christless Christianity, argues that evangelicalism isn't so much going to theological liberalism as theological vacuity, and that the churches just latch onto whatever fad is available. Christ is supplementary, not instrumental. "Following sociologist Christian Smith, he calls it moralistic, therapeutic deism. It offers this kind of working theology: God created the world; God wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and most world religions; The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when needed to resolve a problem; Good people go to heaven when they die." He deals well here with the constant exhortations in the church today to "be the gospel," amazed at the hubris of such a statement. "[Unbelievers] may not like our message anyway, but at least they might be relieved that we have stopped holding ourselves up as the way, the truth, and the life. If the message the church proclaims makes sense without conversion, if it does not offend even lifelong believers from time to time so that they too need to die more to themselves and live more to Christ, then it is not the gospel." St. Francis' exhortation to "Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary use words" has never offended a soul. “It is not heresy as much as silliness that is killing us softly.”

  • Bayly points out that ironically, David Wells uses 'persons' instead of 'men' or 'man.'

  • Biden is a cranky muffin who doesn't like tough questions. When McCain gets them, at least he doesn't blow his lid and ban stations.

  • "Currently, white women's rates of abortion have declined to 10.5 abortions per 1,000 women while black women's rates are an alarming 50 abortions per 1,000 black women. Put in terms of actual pregnancies, the figures are shocking: Nearly half of all African American pregnancies end in abortion. Since 1973, the number of abortions by African American women has totaled more than twelve million."

  • Reports indicate that another Christian college is being crippled and led astray, probably due to a decoupling from the churches. " . . [T]here is clearly a new operating ethos here at the college. Pragmatism over principle. Image over substance. Political Correctness over Biblical correctness. Little by little, these values, fueled by the encroachment of postmodernism into our ethos, will undermine the authority of the Bible, and therefore Christ, over the affairs of the college."

  • Questions are a poor epistemology but a good methodology - they are never an end in themselves. Postmoderns who hold on to questions but care nothing for answers are reducing things to meaningless word games. Teachers should teach, not confuse. “If you ask questions but you reject answers, you’re not actually asking anything. You’re just festooning tired, old propositions with trendier punctuation.” Jesus used questions effectively from stories to teach.

  • Jesus Christ is Stronger. “Stronger than what,” you ask? Stronger than whatever would cause you doubt or discouragement today.

  • Gilbert stresses a helathy respect for authority as a quality that he looks for in an elder. Not a yes-man, but a healthy respect. In line with this is a man who is a joy to lead and makes it a a priority to ensure that he is a joy to lead. He knows when to back down, he doesn't cause public dissent, and he isn't constantly complaining.

  • This could be itself slime, but apparently Obama's grandmother is testifying that she was there when he was born in Kenya, which would bar him from the presidency. Obama is refusing to release his birth certificate.

  • Women write in about ways they do their husbands good. and

  • What is it with men and responsibility? They shy away from it for selfish reasons, rather than manning up and actually taking responsibility. This goes in family, ministry, and elsewhere. [Peter Pan syndrome?]

  • This commentator takes the noahic removal of the restriction to not eat meat as indicative of a new relation of animals to people, and a step in a series that led to the distinguishing dietary laws under the Mosaic covenant.

  • Answers in Genesis addresses a supposed contradiction between the "loving NT God" and "capricious OT God." Their answer is basically that it is in line with God's character to judge a wicked people, and certainly correct, for God always does what is right. He shows much forebearance but will judge if His warnings aren't heeded.

  • Regarding the Luther quote where he seems to endorse washing the hands of people in the blood of the pope and cardinals, there are a few considerations: 1) In the first place, he was mightily provoked by opponents who upheld papal absolutism - no creed, council, or anything had even defined clearly the dogmas of indulgences and he was being forced to recant. 2) He was drawing a parallel between their treatment of heretics (e.g. they burn them, even though Luther himself did not like this and knew it was opposed to the Gospel), and the papal sins. If they think its right to burn heretics, then why isn't it right to burn wicked papal supporters? "  This is the way I have written against Sylvester, “in contrast,” as this noble poet and rhetorician well knows: if heretics are burned, why should we not much rather attack the pope and his sects with the sword and wash our hands in their blood, if he teaches what Sylvester writes, namely, that Holy Scripture has its power from the pope. But since I dislike burning heretics, or killing even a single Christian, and since I know full well it is against the gospel, I merely indicated what they deserve if heretics deserve the fire. Nor is it necessary to attack you with the sword. "

  • Bar stool economics that illustrate that the Bush tax cuts hardly 'favoured' the rich, and that Obama's plaA n would remove incentive to work.

  • "Obama's proposed tax hikes reduce my incentive to work by 62 percent compared to the McCain plan and by 93 percent compared to the no-tax scenario."

  • They've moved beyond mystery worshipers - now its mystery shoppers.

  • In Matthew 28, the great commission is not "going as you go." The participle doesn't function this way here: The Matthew passage poreuthentes “fits the typical structural pattern for the attendant circumstance participle.”

  • Gender Blog reminds us never to apologize for truth. Looking at Dan Wallace's recent confession that attitudinally he is egalitarian but their readings are blatantly unbiblical, they point out that we should rejoice in revealed truth. "When God's Word is clear to us-as it is in most places-we must rejoice and proclaim it and not shrink back from it because it risks stampeding the sacred cows of contemporary culture. Paul anticipated that an "open statement of the truth" (2 Corinthians 4:2) would repel many (1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:14)." So don't apologize for Calvinism or complementarianism.

  • Education, once a point of commonality between Mr. Enlightenment and the Christian, is certainly powerful. But divorced from biblical truth and principles, it is operating on the world's principles, thinking like men and Satan think, and it is opposed to God.

  • Turretinfan argues from the basis of the continuance of the moral part of the law (he holds this distinction), and the confirmation in the NT of the OT moral repugnance of homosexuality, that a King would not be wrong to impose capital punishment upon homosexuals [I note here that he says 'king,' not referring to a democracy]. He also points out that arguments from natural consequences and law simply are not that clear apart from revelation.

  • Turretinfan says that since the OT Law doesn't prescribe the death penalty for 'idolatry' (nor is this clearly defined here) [although there is, e.g. in Deut, requirements to stone those family members who lead to other gods], theonomists [his form] don't believe that idolatry should be punished by death.

  • Some interesting comments on theonomy and the extent of the powers of magistrates, as well as an elucidation of Westminster's teaching on the matter. They distinguished between 'of sacred' and 'in sacred,' in that the authority of the state should be aimed at making a peacable environ for the church, but not have any influence over church discipline, etc. that the head of a household would not have. Hays also points out the three-fold distinction in the law, and says that whether idolatry is a capital sin under theonomy depends on which part of the law in falls within. The good point that the state is always dealing in religion, be it a Christian or an atheist state, is also made here.

  • In response to a rather presumptuous arminian who claims that 'Calvin's life stands out above Arminius and Wesley as a life of power and a life devoted to protecting and defending his theology even if that meant killing others who opposed him,' Hays points out that historically, Arminius and Wesley were both government employees, and that while the former was in no position to persecute even if he wanted to, Wesley was party to the government/state church, which did plenty of persecuting. Calvinist John Newton opposed slavery, debunking the implication in the claim. Moreover, arminian denomination like the unites methodists may be more 'tolerant' but this isn't necessarily a good thing, but only theological/social liberalism.

  • Two problems with Moore's sovereignty over what stays in or out of the body argument which he claims means that whether the fetus is human is irrelevant: 1) the fetus has sovereignty over whether it ingests saline solution; 2) Moore claims he isn't talking about what people do to people with their bodies (in response to the suicide bomb claim), but since he has granted the humanity of the fetus he is indeed talking about things that are done to a human body by another, thus contradicting himself (twice).

  • A Christian aid worker is beheaded by Muslims for converting to Islam.

  • Benedict claims the church carries out her gospel mission fully aware of the respective autonomy of Church and State. "Benedict's comments are generally in accord with the spirit of Vatican II, but they are as out of touch with history as can be. The movement for separation of church and state is not properly attributed to Catholicism but to "Protestantism" (broadly used) and more especially to the Separatists and Baptists. To be deep in history is to cease to be a Post-Vatican-II adherent to Catholicism."

  • "The completion of the Great Commission will not happen through prosperity preachers in their personal planes but through God-called missionaries who embrace suffering in the world's most dangerous places, to bring the real gospel to world's remaining unreached peoples. "

  • Thursday, October 23, 2008

    How quickly they turn!

    For those of you who may not be aware, the Supreme Court in California recently forced gay-marriage on the state of California, where I live. There is currently a proposition on the ballot to amend the state constitution to restore marriage to be only between one man and one woman (Prop 8). The reason I mention all this is that the campaign against Prop 8 has taken an interesting twist. They have chosen an interesting campaign slogan:

    Is there anything there that strikes you as odd? Perhaps you would need to see the campaign adds as I have there they really emphasize in a strong way that Prop 8, denying marriage to homosexual couples, is wrong!

    Wait...what just happened? It happened so fast I barely noticed it! The campaign of tolerance and moral relativism who always objected that we could not make value judgements such as "gay-'marriage' is wrong," has suddenly morphed and now they infallibly proclaim that I am wrong for opposing it! I fear this is an omen of times to come...

    Perhaps we are seeing that tolerance is not a state, but a transition between ideas, systems of morality. As soon as the upper hand is gained, the nice talk of peace and tolerance gives way to persecution and intolerance.

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Russ Moore on Christians and single issue voting

    Consider this:

    “There are churches, and there are pastors, and there are young evangelical leaders who are saying to us, ‘We ought not be single-issue evangelicals. We ought to be concerned about more issues than simply abortion.’ Which means that we ought to be willing to join ourselves and to vote for and to support candidates who will support legalized abortion, who will deny the personhood of children who are still in the womb, because we are able to support them on other issues . . . Many of them are in a desperate quest to say to their congregations and to people potentially in their congregations, ‘I’m not Jerry Falwell.’ And many of them believe that it is missional to speak to people while blunting or silencing a witness about the life of children so that you can reach them with the gospel. . . Some will tell us there are many other issues: economics, global warming—issues I’m very concerned about too. Previous generations have said that as well. Previous generations of preachers have stood in the pulpit and preached until they were red in the face about card-playing and movie-going and tax-policy and personal morality and tobacco-smoking and a thousand other issues, but would not speak to the fact that there were African-American brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus swinging in the trees! And there is judgment of God upon that. And there is here too.”

    Listen to the sermon here.