Friday, March 30, 2007
In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing and the sky is clear and red.
When the summer’s ceased its gleaming,When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure’s lost its meaning,I’ll be homeward bound in time.
Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I’ll return to you somehow.
If you find it’s me you're missing, if you’re hoping I’ll return.
To your thoughts I’ll soon be list’ning, and in the road I’ll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its end.
And the path I’ll be retracing when I’m homeward bound again.
Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I’ll return to you somehow.
In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing,I’ll be homeward bound again.
-Music and Lyrics by Marta Keen
Sunday, March 25, 2007
2 Corinthians 12
12:1-6 Paul's Visions
12:1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6 Though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.
Continuing the defense of his ministry, Paul described his visions and revelations as further proof. The most dramatic of these was a vision of a visit to heaven. Paul speaks of a man this happened to, but most think he is referring to himself. This is his way of speaking humbly and trying to avoid seeking glory for himself.
This event happened 14 years before the writing of the letter. He does not mention it in any of his other letters, so he may have been reluctant to discuss it, only doing so here where it was necessary to establish his place and authority with the Corinthians.
In verse 2, Paul expressed that he was not sure if he was actually taken to heaven, the meaning of “in the body” or if it was a vision, the meaning of “out of the body”. The Greek word in verse 3 translated as “caught up” is the Greek word “harpazo”, the same word used for the taking of Christians to heaven at the second advent in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and of Phillip being taken away by the Spirit in Acts 8:39.
Either way, he was taken to paradise, or heaven, and heard things he was not allowed to reveal. When he speaks of the “third heaven”, he means heaven where God is, as the first heaven is the sky and the second heaven is space where the stars are. Paul may have seen the throne of God and the worship that surrounds it, as Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1) and John (Revelation 4:1-2) did.
In verses 5 and 6, Paul again discussed boasting. He does not want to boast, except in his weaknesses, but, if he did, he would be telling the truth. It is like the West Texas saying: it ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up. Today, of course, one who had such a vision would write a book about it and appear on radio talk shows.
But, this was a great vision. It probably gave Paul strong faith and perseverance. He may have even received revelation about God’s plan that he incorporated in his writings. But, there was a price to pay for the honor of receiving such a great revelation, as he tells in the next few verses.
12:7 A Thorn for Humility
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
Paul received some type of “thorn in the flesh”. It must have been a physical pain or handicap of some kind. The purpose of this thorn was to keep him from becoming conceited for receiving the great revelations from God. It’s easy to get conceited when great things happen to you. You may even come to believe you deserve them, or you received them because you are special.
Note here that, although the thorn was given by God to keep Paul humble, it was a messenger of Satan and harassed him. Satan may be the one to bring you torment or suffering, but God still has a purpose for it that works for your good.
12:8-10 Paul’s Weakness Reveals God’s Power
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
As most of us would, Paul prayed that the thorn would be removed from him. None of us enjoys suffering. Paul prayed 3 times for relief. He prayed earnestly. He said he “pleaded” with the Lord. He really wanted the Lord to give him relief.
God did not remove it. Does that mean God did not answer his prayer? No. God answered, but not with the answer Paul wanted. God refused to remove the thorn in the flesh. He told Paul that God’s grace is sufficient for him. God would let him have the thorn, but give him the grace to bear it. God’s power would be revealed in Paul rather than Paul’s power.
It is hard for us to see ourselves as insufficient. American teaches self sufficiency as a virtue. Yet, God’s lesson to Paul was that Paul was insufficient in himself. But, God is sufficient and will work through us, as he did with Paul, when he receives the glory as being the power.
“This sufficiency is declared without any limiting words, and therefore I understand the passage to mean that the grace of our Lord Jesus is sufficient to uphold thee, sufficient to strengthen thee, sufficient to comfort thee, sufficient to make thy trouble useful to thee, sufficient to enable thee to triumph over it, sufficient to bring thee out of it, sufficient to bring thee out of ten thousand like it, sufficient to bring thee home to heaven . . . O child of God, I wish it were possible to put into words this all-sufficiency, but it is not. Let me retract my speech: I am glad that it cannot be put into words, for if so it would be finite, but since we never can express it, glory be to God it is inexhaustible, and our demands upon it can never be too great. Here let me press upon you the pleasing duty of taking home the promise personally at this moment, for no believer here need be under any fear, since for him also, at this very instant, the grace of the Lord Jesus is sufficient.” (Spurgeon)
Paul became completely happy to have God’s sufficiency and power revealed in him. Therefore, he could say “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I do no think this is simply resignation to his fate. He has rather become content to be weak and to suffer because it allows God to be strong and to reveal himself through Paul. He could say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
This is a fact of the Christian life you need to know and incorporate. God is not interested in your personal power. He is the one to be glorified, magnified and revealed. He wants you to rely on him, to acknowledge your inability to do what he can do and to allow yourself to be used by him. When you do that, you receive great blessing in doing his will, experiencing his pleasure in you and making your life one of constant worship by allowing God to glorify himself in an through you.
You will receive his grace over and over and you will enjoy it and rejoice it in. Calvin said “The valleys are watered with rain to make them fruitful while the summits of lofty mountains remain dry. A man must become a valley if he wants to receive the heavenly rain of God’s spiritual grace.”
You know, Paul’s critics may well have been aware of the thorn. It may have been part of his lack of impressiveness in person. What they did not realize was the value of it to Paul as a gift from God. It increased his sanctification, it kept him humble and it was a constant reminder that God himself was working through Paul. This should give us pause when we see a fellow believer staggering about with a thorn in the flesh. Maybe it is an honor.
12:11-18 Paul Won’t Be A Burden
11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!
14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?
Paul is concluding his defense here and says he has made a fool of himself. This is because he has done this boasting. But, he said, the Corinthians drove him to it, or forced him to do it. If it had only been his reputation, he would not have done it, but his status as an apostle was at stake, and with it the gospel, since Paul was responsible for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles in Europe and in Asia.
Further, they drove him to it because they did not commend him as they should have, since they witnessed his apostolic ministry. In 1 Corinthians 2:4, Paul recounted that his preaching came with a “demonstration of the Spirit’s power”.
Also, Paul reminded them that he was not inferior to those who claimed to be “super apostles”. This is the same term he used in 11:5. He had done signs, wonders and miracles among them.
What are signs, wonders and miracles? They are things done that only the power of God could accomplish. Jesus did miracles in order to show that he was God. Peter, in his sermon in Acts 2, said Jesus was accredited by God to the Jews by miracles, wonders and signs (Acts 2:22).
Jesus then gave that authority to the disciples when he sent them out. In Luke 10:19, he told the 72 “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” In Mark 3:14, Jesus appointed the 12 to preach and to drive out demons.
So, Paul is saying, when he was among the Corinthians, he did these miraculous things that mark the ministry of an apostle. And, these were done with great perseverance, according to verse 12. That would lead us to believe Paul experienced spiritual opposition in Corinth, which you might expect, since it was a center of pagan worship.
The one thing Paul did not do was to accept financial support from the Corinthians. He said he was never a burden to the Corinthians.
I think it is interesting that he asks how they were inferior to the other churches. This indicates they had complained that they were inferior or regarded as inferior to the Macedonians and others. It may have been because Paul did not take money from them. Since Paul received financial support from other churches, it makes you wonder why he did not do it in Corinth. But, for some reason, he felt he should not. But it may have made them feel as if their own credibility as a church was threatened. Paul apologized for this wrong. I have assumed that this was a sarcastic statement, but I guess it is possible it was a real issue and Paul was really apologizing for it. However, what follows makes me think I am right about the sarcasm. That is, as he said in verse 14, he would still not take money from them when he made his next visit.
Paul put this in terms of being a burden to them. It seems as if money may have been an issue, not to Paul, but to the Corinthians, and he knew if he accepted financial support, they would feel he was a burden or question his motives. He also did not let his representatives take money from them, including Titus. Paul said, he did not want their possessions, but them. He did want their money, but he did want their love and loyalty and devotion. In contrast, Paul was willing to spend whatever he had for their benefit. That included expending himself. And he said he did it gladly.
But, Paul would like for an exchange of love. But, as he loved them more, they seemed to love him less. Why would this be? It may have again been his adversaries, these false teachers. They may have accused him of being crafty, of trickery, as he mentions in verse 16. Maybe they said he did not take financial support from them in order later to get them to participate in the offering for the Christians in Jerusalem. But, in verse 17, Paul denied that he exploited them, or that Titus or others he sent to them had exploited them. These men were his representatives and acted in the same spirit Paul had. Titus had been well received by the Corinthians, so they knew this charge was false.
This next visit would be Paul’s third visit to them. The first is the visit recorded in Acts 18. That was when he established the church. The second visit was the painful one, where his authority was challenged. He will pick up the matter of this third visit in chapter 13.
12:19-21 Who Is On Trial?
19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.
In verse 19, Paul states that he has been speaking to them for their strengthening. He is afraid of what he will find when he comes. He mentions several things he fears he will see: quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. (He might have confused them with our convention.) These are traits of a divided church. We know the Corinthians had these problems. In the first chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul spoke of lack of agreement, quarreling, and divisions in the Corinthian church. Unfortunately, this condition continued, at least off and on. Clement, writing after the death of Peter and Paul, said they were “fond of contention”. He referred to conflicts, commotions, divisions, schisms, and wars among them.
In verse 21, Paul mentioned that he was afraid he will find those whom he found in sin earlier and had not repented. He specifically mentioned the sins of impurity, sexual sin and debauchery. These were all part of the culture of Corinth, and some who claimed to be converted had not left the practices of their pagan life. Paul will be humbled by God if this is true. He, of course, would rather find them living holy lives.
They wanted for him to come with love and approval, as he wanted to do. But, they would not find him this way if they were living in sin.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Dr. Irena Backus teaches at the University of Geneva. She writes Reformation studies. She wrote her doctoral (Oxford) thesis on the "Influence of Theodore Beza on the English New Testament". It was published as The Reformed Roots of the English New Testament: The Influence of Theodore Beza on the English New Testament (Pittsburgh: Pickwick Press, 1980).
Dr. Backus also has written on Martin Bucer, edited volume 2 of his Latin works, ans also written on religious dissent in the 16th and 17th centuries, Polish anti-trinitarians, Zwingli, on 16th-century interpretations of the Apocalypse, on the reception of the church fathers in the West, on historical method and confessional identity in the era of the Reformation 1378-1615.
They might not hire her at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but she is an outstanding example of a woman applying her education and theology to advance the Kingdom.
Newsweek: Do you think a Mormon is a Christian?
Carter: Yes, I do. I have a cousin who is a Mormon and she married one of the Marriott family. I don’t know anyone who’s more devout in their faith than she and her family. I admire them very much.
Hat Tip to Denny Burk.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Patrick Henry came up. "You wanted to end the Americans' liberty, so they gave you death!" Henry punched Osama on the nose.
James Madison came up. He said "This is why I allowed the Federal government to provide for the common defense!" He kicked Osama's knee.
The punishment continued as person after person beat on Osama. He screamed, "This is not what I was promised! Where are my 70 virgins?"
"Ooohhhhhh!" replies St. Peter. "You got that all wrong! It’s 70 Virginians!"
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The first son went in winter, the second in the spring, the third insummer, and the youngest son in the fall.When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.
The first son described the tree as ugly, bent, and twisted.
The second son said it was covered with green buds and full of promise.
The third son said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.
The last son said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.
The father explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree's life.
He told them you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
The greatest single reason for the church's evangelistic
disobedience centres in the church's doubts. We are not
sure if our own sins are forgiven. We are not sure if the
gospel is true. And so, because we doubt, we are dumb. We
need to hear again Christ's word of peace, and see again
his hands and his side. Once we are glad that we have seen
the Lord, and once we have clearly recognized him as our
crucified and risen Saviour, then nothing and no-one will
be able to silence us.
--From 'The Great Commission', in "One Race, One Gospel,
One Task", ed. C. F. Henry and W. S. Mooneyham
(Minneapolis: World Wide Publications, 1967), p. 39.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
2 Corinthians 10
10:1-6 Paul Defends His Ministry
I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2 I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
Paul had some detractors and opponents in Corinth. While he was away, they criticized him and tried to undermine his authority. From Paul’s response in this passage, we can ascertain some of the things they said about him.
Verse 1 implies they said he was humble when he was with them face to face, but bold when he was away and communicating by letter.
In Verse 2, he indicates they accused him of walking according to the flesh.
In verse 10, Paul says they say his bodily presence is weak and his speech of no account. He did not have an impressive presence or voice.
Paul did have great authority. He was appointed an apostle by Christ. He had the gifts and authority of an apostle, but he wanted to bring them into obedience by entreaty rather than by an exercise of his authority. In this passage, he makes the entreaty, but holds out the threat of his authority.
In verse 1, Paul said “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ…”, reminding them that Jesus himself was humble, meek and gentle, so Paul should emulate, or copy, that attitude of Christ rather than being forceful all the time. He wanted them to become obedient and loyal to him without any show of boldness. Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Jesus was gentle and humble, but he did have a yoke.
Yet, Paul told the Corinthians he could become bold and confident if need be. He had the weapons necessary to overcome them. Those weapons were no physical weapons, however. He said they were not “weapons of the flesh”. He would not count on an imposing physical appearance or a sonorous voice or sharp logic.
Rather, Paul said his weapons were weapons of divine power.
There is a nice play on words in verse 3. He was accused of walking according to the flesh, which I take to mean with pomp and outward show. He said, instead, the he walked in the flesh, meaning he was confined to a body like the rest of us. But, although he walked in the flesh, he did not fight in the flesh, with weapons of the flesh, but weapons of the Holy Spirit, giving Paul divine power. This is spiritual warfare for Paul, and he sees his detractors and enemies, not as fleshly enemies, but spiritual enemies and allies of his greatest spiritual enemy, Satan.
Paul named his enemies here as:
1. In verse 4, strongholds;
2. In verse 5, arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God
3. In verse 5, thoughts that he would take captive to obey Christ; and
4. In verse 6, disobedience.
Strongholds, or fortresses, means anything that has glory or is exalted against God. Paul said he would destroy these.
All of these things are subject to Paul’s spiritual authority and power, and he knows he can conquer them if he has to. Jesus told the apostles, in Matthew 18:18, “…whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…” He gave them authority, when he sent them out, over demonic spirits and other things.
Paul exercised his authority on many occasions. A short tour of the book of Acts reveals this. Paul caused Bar-Jesus, a magician and Jewish false prophet in Cyprus to go blind in 13:11. He called him a son of the devil, the enemy of all righteousness, identifying the false prophet with the true enemy, Satan. In Iconium, he performed signs and wonders, according to 14:3. In Lystra, he made a crippled man walk (Acts 14:8-10).
In Philippi, Paul cast a demon out of a fortune teller (16:16-18). At Troas he raised Eutychus fro the dead (Acts 20). There were many other miraculous actions and events. So, Paul had apostolic, spiritual authority. He engaged in spiritual warfare.
Do you believe in spiritual warfare?
Jesus did. He said: "If by the finger of God I cast out demons, the kingdom of God has come upon you," (Luke 11:20).
Paul did. He said, "We are not contending against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers . . . against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
Peter said, "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
James said, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
John said, "Every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already" (1 John 4:3).
The Bible portrays Satan as a real being who is an adversary of believers, as he has been an adversary of God.
Paul likened false prophets and apostles to demons. He said, in 2 Corinthians 11:13–15, "Such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness."
So, if there is spiritual warfare and Satan is the enemy, what is Satan's aim and his strategies?
He is the father of lies. (John 8:44) His nature is falsehood! He only speaks the truth in order to deceive.
Therefore, his chief enemy is truth—he opposes God's word. (Genesis 3:1–5.)
He casts doubt on God's goodness. (Genesis 3:1–5) He destroys the obedience of faith. He opposes the truth reaching and converting people.
He hinders missions strategy. (1 Thessalonians 2:18)
He distorts and prevents effective gospel message. (Acts 13:8–9)
He avoids inner need by removing external trouble. (1 John 3:12)
He uses the fear of death to hold men in bondage. (Hebrews 2:15)
He causes people to stumble over bad Christian attitudes. (2 Timothy 2:24–26)
He blinds the minds of unbelievers. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
He exploits a lack of understanding. (Matthew 13:19)
He suggests ways that don't involve suffering. (Matthew 16:23; Matthew 4:1–11)
He imitates religious roles. (2 Corinthians 11:14–15; Matthew 13:28, 30; Revelation 2:9)
He misuses Scripture. (Matthew 4:6)
He imitates signs and wonders. (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Mark 13:22)
He offers exotic occult alternatives. (Revelation 2:19–24
He attacks faith to destroy believers:
attacks faith. (1 Thessalonians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 11:3)
brings persecution. (Revelation 2:9; 1 Peter 5:8; Luke 22:31)
brings sickness. (Job 1:11; 2:5; Luke 13:16)
dissension over doctrine and causes rifts. (Romans 16:17–20)
sexual allurements. (1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Timothy 5:15)
unresolved anger. (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 4:27)
pride. (1 Timothy 3:6)
Humility under God is the great devil resistance (James 4:6–7). It eliminates pride and self as weaknesses.
10:7-12 Face The Facts
7 Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ's, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. 8 For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. 9 I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. 12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
Saying “he is Christ’s” here probably means, not faith in Christ, but Christ given authority. Some are disputing his authority, so he is defending himself. His boasting is for this purpose, to show that he has divinely given authority and the Lord gave it to him for building up the church, including the part at Corinth.
Paul does not want to compare himself to others. This is a mistake. He will measure himself against the standard of Christ, not his opponents in Corinth or other ministers.
10:13-18 Boasting In The Lord
13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another's area of influence. 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
Even though Paul is an apostle, his ministry had limits. He was the missionary and apostle to the Gentiles. In verse 14, he pointed out that he was the first one to come all the way to Corinth to preach the gospel to them. He was also a pioneer missionary. He wanted to preach in places where no one else had preached or had influence. You remember he wanted to go all the way to Spain, which to him would have been the farthest west you could go.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
I had a discussion this week with a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary about the firing of Dr. Klouda. Ironically, one point of our discussion was whether she would be willing to make her personnel file public.
Klouda filed suit against SWBTS this week and her file will certainly be made public in the suit.
I don't see anyway she can make a sex discrimination suit stick against a religious school, as the courts generally hold that, if the decision is on religious grounds, the court will not intervene. Notre Dame won a case on these same grounds after demoting a female chaplain.
Nonetheless, it should prove interesting.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Some things about Southern Baptist life drive me crazy. One is this new claim to be a “Sandy Creek Baptist”. This claim comes as a counter-point to the resurgence of Calvinism in the convention. Those who oppose it like to call themselves Sandy Creekers.
The leading anti-Calvinist of the day seems to be Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Theological Seminary here in Fort Worth. You may have heard his discussion with Al Mohler at the convention, where he tells why he is not a Calvinist.
Patterson likes to claim that he is a “Sandy Creeker”. He contrasts the Sandy Creek tradition with the so called Charleston tradition, saying that Charleston was Calvinistic, but not Sandy Creek. Patterson also refuses to be identified as an Arminian, so you would have to find another word to describe the position attributed to the church.
For example, when Sandy Creek Baptist Church celebrated its 250th anniversary, articles in various Baptist publications said the church and association was known for fostering one of the two key tributaries to modern Southern Baptist life. The church invited Patterson to speak, I guess because he is a “Sandy Creeker”. He is a Sandy Creeker in the same way John Kennedy was a Berliner. Or, maybe in the same way Hillary Clinton claimed part of the heritage of Selma, Alabama, in a recent speech.
Patterson trotted out the idea of Sandy Creek vs. Charleston. He spoke of the “Southern Baptist river as flowing from two tributaries, one having its beginning in Charleston, S.C., the more Reformed tradition of Baptist life, and the other at Sandy Creek.”
Patterson went on to say “I am a Sandy Creeker. If I could manage to have honorary church membership in any church in the Southern Baptist Convention, it would be Sandy Creek.” “We Sandy Creekers still believe we are in the era of evangelism, missions and great revival.”
The problem is, the Sandy Creek association was no Arminian stronghold, or anti-Calvinist or Reformed. They had a confession, and it sounds Calvinistic. Here it is.
PRINCIPLES OF FAITH
I. We believe that there is only one true and living God; the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, equal in essence, power and glory; yet there are not three Gods but one God.
II. That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the word of God, and only rule of faith and practice.
III. That Adam fell from his original state of purity, and that his sin is imputed to his posterity; that human nature is corrupt, and that man, of his own free will and ability, is impotent to regain the state in which he was primarily placed
IV. We believe in election from eternity, effectual calling by the Holy Spirit of God, and justification in his sight only by the imputation of Christ's righteousness. And we believe that they who are thus elected, effectually called, and justified, will persevere through grace to the end, that none of them be lost.
V. We believe that there will be a resurrection from the dead, and a general or universal! judgment, and that the happiness of the righteous and punishment of the wicked will be eternal.
VI. That the visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful persons, who have obtained fellowship with each other, and have given themselves up to the Lord and one another; having agreed to keep up a godly discipline, according to the rules of the Gospel.
VII. That Jesus Christ is the great head of the church, and that the government thereof is with the body.
VIII. That baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of the Lord, and to be continued by his church until his second coming.
IX. That true believers are the only fit subjects of baptism, and that immersion is the only mode.
X. That the church has no right to admit any but regular baptized church members to communion at the Lord's table.
As you can see, Article III states belief in “original sin” and total depravity, the “T” in TULIP. Article IV refers to effectual calling, imputed righteousness by justification, and perseverance of the saints. The only one of the five points of Calvinism not specifically mentioned is limited atonement. However, you can hardly have election without limited atonement.
Patterson either has not read the confession or is misstating the beliefs of these early Baptists. Neither is a particularly attractive position for a seminary president.
Gregory Wills, a Baptist historian, says the Sandy Creek-Charleston analogy “is pretty well suited to mislead as much as to illuminate.” He was referring more to Dwight McKissic’s use of the analogy to promote tolerance of tongue speaking, but the shoe fits.
Wills also said the Sandy Creek and Charleston traditions were not very different and that both groups were Calvinist in their understanding of Scripture teaching.
Who knew you could be a Tolkien scholar? If I had known, I could have spent my career reading and re-reading Lord of the Rings and writing about it. As it is, I had to stop after 6 times.
Here is an interview with a Tolkien scholar at the University of Vermont. What a life! Live in beautiful Vermont and study and teach Tolkien. Instead, I am in an office in the basement of a public hospital, next to the morgue, waiting to see if my contract will be renewed. If not, I may move to Vermont and study under this guy.
Monday, March 05, 2007
For most of my life, the phrase "Baptist conference on the Holy Spirit" would be an oxymoron.
Richard Land has joined forces with Ted Kennedy? Read this story: WASHINGTON (BP)--United States senators and witnesses debated the best way for the federal government to regulate tobacco products in a spirited congressional hearing Feb. 27.Southern Baptist ethics specialist Richard Land and four other witnesses testified in support of a bill to grant authority to the Food and Drug Administration over the manufacture, promotion and sale of such products as cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Some Republican senators and a sole witness, however, challenged that approach, questioning whether the FDA is the right agency to charge with full responsibility over products that result in the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans a year.
No self respecting Southern Baptist should get into bed with Ted Kennedy for any reason. Why would Richard Land join forces with this moral bankrupt? My mother used to say "lie down with dogs, get up with flees". She meant, if you associate with bad people, their reputation and behavior will rub off on you. It will ruin your reputation and maybe even cause you to do things you should not. Someone check Mr. Land for fleas. He is bound to have them after this.
Further, what about the old separation of church and state? Why is this supposed representative of the church in Washington trying to get the government to impose even more regulation on a private business? I don't smoke or believe you should, but why should the government seek to put them out of business with regulation? Given the resolutions at the last convention, shouldn't Land be trying to regulate drinking instead?
The church needs to concentrate on its mission, and regulation of tobacco is not it. No wonder people are confused about who we are. Instead of worshipping and witnessing, we are lobbying.
Land needs to quit. Quit joining forces with corrupt polticians, quit holding himself out as representing Southern Baptists in areas in which we don't belong, maybe just quit altogether.
Government Health Care
If you had any doubts about universal health care, which is to say, health care furnished and managed by the government, examine the complaints about the health care furnished our veteran's by the government.
If they can't get it together to furnish decent health care to our veteran's, what chance do the rest of us have?
Keep it private if you want to keep it.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Results of the CPAC poll:
If McCain still had doubts about his ability to court the conservatives, they should be resolved. Conservatives even like moderate Giuliani 5 points more than McCain.