Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ecclesiological Assessment of the Emerging Church Movement

John Hammett, Professor at Southeastern Theological Seminary, presented a paper at ETS that is now online: An Ecclesiological Assessment of the Emerging Church Movement. The ATeam Blog has a summary.

(HT: Steve McCoy)

Lieberman: Our Troops Must Stay

Hats off to Joe Lieberman (Democratic Senator from Connecticut and former VP candidate) for penning an excellent piece in the WSJ, entitled "Our Troops Must Stay: America Can't Abandon 27 Million Iraqis to 10,000 Terrorists."

It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.

Senator Lieberman goes on to explain that (1) Yes, we have made mistakes--some quite serious, and (2) Yes, we do have a plan and a strategy. Read the whole thing.

Keller on Narnia

An encouraging word via email from Tim Keller about the faithfulness and excellence of the forthcoming Narnia film:

"Kathy and I saw the full Narnia movie here in NYC almost two weeks ago. It was remarkably true to the book and exceeded our expectations. A great movie."

[BTW, Keller is now blogging and answering questions in connection with Redeemer's Vision Campaign.]

[Also, the ATeam Blog has linked to a 9-minute supertrailer of the Narnia film.]

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Reformation 21

The latest edition of Reformation 21 is now online. Here is the Table of Contents:

Table of Contents

Our December explores the relationship between Faith and Imagination, with special attention paid to the contributions of C.S. Lewis. Keep checking back throughout the month, as we will be adding new articles and reviews.

C.S. Lewis: Apologist with an Imagination
by Andrew Hoffecker

Reading the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with C.S. Lewis
by Leland Ryken

Learning Lewis
by Brad Mercer

Preaching Surveys
Reflections on preaching from Carl Trueman

Coming Soon: A review of The Chronicles of Narnia. Coming to theaters December 9.

Shelf Life
Is the Reformation Over? by Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom
Review by Carl Trueman
The Soul of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Gene Veith
Review by Nate Shurden
Jack's Life by Douglas Gresham
Review by Jeremy Smith
Christ the Lord by Ann Rice
Review by Derek Thomas
The Gospel According to Harry Potter by Connie Neal
Review by Weezie Polk

Window on the World: The God Gene
by Philip Ryken
Understanding the Times: Ten Things to Do as You Gather for Public Worship
by Derek Thomas

From the Pulpit
Sermons from John MacArthur, Ligon Duncan, Derek Thomas, Richard D. Phillips, Philip Ryken, Mark Dever, and John Piper, all in audio format.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Why the Left Hates Sex

Clicking on some headlines is irresisitible. That was the case for me with Jennifer Roback Morse's column this morning, Why the Left Hates Sex. A great article.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"We Are Winning"

James Q. Wilson offers a speech the President should use about Iraq.

The Truth About Torture?

Charles Krauthammer has become one of my favorite opinion journalists. Even when I don't agree with him, his articles are marked by clarity and concision. It is refreshing to read consistently careful reasoning.

To date I haven't commented on this blog about the ethics of torture. I suppose that some would regard the issue as extremely simple for a Christian: torture is always wrong--everywhere, for all people, in all situations. But I'm not so certain the issue is this black-and-white.

I have read a number of articles now on the issue, and--in my opinion--none is as clear and as helpful as Krauthammer's new essay for The Weekly Standard.

Krauthammer begins with some analytic distinctions. "For the purpose of torture and prisoner maltreatment, there are three kinds of war prisoners: First, there is the ordinary soldier caught on the field of battle.... Second, there is the captured terrorist.... Third, there is the terrorist with information."

With respect to the third category, Krauthammer writes:

Here the issue of torture gets complicated and the easy pieties don't so easily apply. Let's take the textbook case. Ethics 101: A terrorist has planted a nuclear bomb in New York City. It will go off in one hour. A million people will die. You capture the terrorist. He knows where it is. He's not talking.

Question: If you have the slightest belief that hanging this man by his thumbs will get you the information to save a million people, are you permitted to do it?

Now, on most issues regarding torture, I confess tentativeness and uncertainty. But on this issue, there can be no uncertainty: Not only is it permissible to hang this miscreant by his thumbs. It is a moral duty.

Then in the key paragraph of his essay, Krauthammer argues that the hypothetical establishes a principle, namely, that:

Torture is not always impermissible. However rare the cases, there are circumstances in which, by any rational moral calculus, torture not only would be permissible but would be required (to acquire life-saving information). And once you've established the principle, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, all that's left to haggle about is the price. In the case of torture, that means that the argument is not whether torture is ever permissible, but when--i.e., under what obviously stringent circumstances: how big, how imminent, how preventable the ticking time bomb.

What then should be done? The McCain Amendment is well-intentioned but McCain's position is itself incoherent. (The amendment prohibits all forms of torture, no matter the circumstance. Yet McCain thinks it should be broken during a ticking time bomb scenario!) Krauthammer suggests a way to move forward:

Begin, as McCain does, by banning all forms of coercion or inhuman treatment by anyone serving in the military--an absolute ban on torture by all military personnel everywhere.

Outside the military, however, I would propose, contra McCain, a ban against all forms of torture, coercive interrogation, and inhuman treatment, except in two contingencies: (1) the ticking time bomb and (2) the slower-fuse high-level terrorist (such as KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed]). Each contingency would have its own set of rules. In the case of the ticking time bomb, the rules would be relatively simple: Nothing rationally related to getting accurate information would be ruled out. The case of the high-value suspect with slow-fuse information is more complicated. The principle would be that the level of inhumanity of the measures used (moral honesty is essential here--we would be using measures that are by definition inhumane) would be proportional to the need and value of the information. Interrogators would be constrained to use the least inhumane treatment necessary relative to the magnitude and imminence of the evil being prevented and the importance of the knowledge being obtained.

In this blog post I've only been able to summarize some of the main points. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. How should Christians think about torture? If you care to comment, I only ask that you read Krauthammer's full piece first.

Update: Here's one question to address as you ponder this issue: it seems to me that one cannot simply appeal to the idea that the ends do not justify the means. An example: you are walking by a gated pool, and unbeknownest to everyone else, there's a toddler drowning in the pool. A sign on the gate says that absolutely no non-members are allowed into the pool area. You're not a member, but you decide to hop the fence anyway to rescue you child. The end (saving the child) has justified the means (breaking the pool rules). I know it's a simple example, but it shows that saying "the ends don't justify the means" doesn't end the discussion.

Thomas Sowell

The Fox News Channel is doing a two-part special (Saturday and Sunday at 5:30pm ET) on "Thomas Sowell: In the Right Direction."

Best Non-Apology Apology of 2005

After it was exposed that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson had lied about being a pick for the 1966 Kansas CityA's, he explained:

"After being notified of the situation and after researching the matter ... I came to the conclusion that I was not drafted by the A's," he said.

(HT: The Corner)

Friday, November 25, 2005

John McCain

Stephen Moore has a helpful profile in the WSJ on John McCain--a patriot, hero, and future presidential candidate who envisions himself as a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt and Robin Hood.

Bob Kauflin on Gratitude

Bob Kauflin at ponders why he's not more thankful and what he is thankful for. Earlier he wrote on how to cultivate thankfulness. Both excellent meditations--for which I am thankful!

Debating Iraq

Hugh Hewitt gives some advice on how to talk about and debate the US invasion/liberation of Iraq.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dialoguing with the Emerging Church Movement, Part 4

A final prefatory word on dialogue: "The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." (G.K. Chesteron, The Autobiography, p. 212)

Dialoguing with the Emerging Church Movement, Part 3

When debating and contending, it is helpful to keep in mind the sagacious counsel of the great hymn-writer, John Newton, who wrote:

As to your opponent, I wish, that, before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord's teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write. . . . [If he is a believer,] in a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts. . . . [If he is an unconverted person,] he is a more proper object of your compassion than your anger. Alas! "He knows not what he does." But you know who has made you to differ.

"On Controversy," [Letter XIX], vol. 1 of The Works of the Rev. John Newton, p. 269.

Dialoguing with the Emerging Church Movement, Part 2

But is engagement in controversy justified? Is it compatible with the biblical exhortation to love?

In a lecture delivered June 17, 1932, entitled "Christian Scholarship and the Defense of the Faith," J. Gresham Machen said:

Men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end.

Some years ago I was in a company of teachers of the Bible in the colleges and other educational institutions of America. One of the most eminent theological professors in the country made an address. In it he admitted that there are unfortunate controversies about doctrine in the Epistles of Paul; but, said he in effect, the real essence of Paul's teaching is found in the hymn to Christian love in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians; and we can avoid controversy today, if we will only devote the chief attention to that inspiring hymn.

In reply, I am bound to say that the example was singularly ill-chosen. That hymn to Christian love is in the midst of a great polemic passage; it would never have been written if Paul had been opposed to controversy with error in the Church. It was because his soul was stirred within him by a wrong use of the spiritual gifts that he was able to write that glorious hymn. So it is always in the Church. Every really great Christian utterance, it may almost be said, is born in controversy. It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of truth.

Dialoguing with the Emerging Church Movement, Part 1

From what I’ve posted thus far about the emerging church movement, a very natural response would be: So what’s all the fuss about? Are there legitimate concerns about the emerging trajectory of these thinkers and these churches? I believe there are issues to be concerned about, and I’ll explain some of them below.

Before explaining some of my concerns, we need to remember that we are bound by the Word of God to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Some of us are so wired to “speak the truth” that we fail to do it in love. (And of course, the converse is true as well—those who are so concerned about speaking in love that they never get around to speaking truth.) I know for myself that am often far too impressed with my own cleverness and far too desirous of “scoring points.” The biblical imperatives call us to a higher ground—a both–and—truth and love. Perhaps the most helpful phrase is that coined by my pastor: “brokenhearted boldness.” We must seek to soak our critiques with meekness and humility.

I’d also encourage fellow critics to focus on the main things. Candles and couches certaintly aren't central. Let’s keep our attention on the most important issues, and agree to continue the dialogue on secondary matters.

Also recall that emerging churches—broader than the Emergent category—are a very diverse group. That makes criticism particularly difficult. It must be stressed that churches can be emerging without falling prey to the weaknesses identified below. But if we are to speak of this movement at all, we must speak in some broad categories.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Emerging Series

A couple of clarifications on the series: (1) I'm not just going to describe; I'll also do some cursory evaluations. There's more to come. (2) In the identification-description part, I've tried to explain it in such a way that Emergent folks would agree with it. That's not because I'm trying to present an overly rosy picture or trying to whitewash the problems with it. It's just that I think it's helpful to first explain what their intentions and goals are as they see it--and only then offer some critique.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 10

Where does the term “emergent” come from and what does it mean? It was first coined by Karen Ward—now pastor of Church of the Apostles in Seattle—back in 2000. Working at the ELCA Headquarters, she read an article on reaching Gen-Xers that resonated with her, and she began a website——designed for mainliners who were interested in ministering to Gen-Xers. Of course, she had no idea that the term would catch on to describe a burgeoning movement.

Doug Pagitt explains more about the meaning of the term:

Five years ago or so when numbers of us started using this phrase “emergent,” there were a number of reasons why we thought this word worked well. The reason I was most excited about it is the use in a forestry term or an agriculture term. Emergent growth is the growth in a forest that is growing below the surface, that if you were to knock away the dead pine needles and leaves and branches, you would see the growth that’s happening there. The health of a forest is determined by the health of the emergent growth, the growth that’s about to come up. In farming, people talk a lot about applying pre-emergent herbicides and so on, which they probably ought not do but. The idea is there’s something that’s about to come to the surface, and it’s growing in the environment of the rest of the forest or the rest of the field. So it’s not against, it’s not over in another field, it’s not something that wants to destroy the forest; in fact, it’s going to grow because of the protection of it—the idea that there was this emergent growth that was happening in Christianity, that was protected and that was going to have the chance to survive because of the environment. We wanted to talk about what is the nature of that emergent growth of Christianity in the world: Is it healthy, is it good, does it seem that it’s going to be able to take root and to stay and what would we need to do if not? People who care for forests go around, and they find out what is the growth right down close to the ground. And, you know, most of us who don’t know anything about forests, we look at the tree tops and we think it’s a beautiful forest. But you can have a dead forest with a lot of trees in it. Our thought was how could we turn our attention, our concentration, to that which is growing? So our idea was let’s switch the conversation from being just a cultural conversation to saying what is the nature of Christianity as it’s growing from its organic roots, and what’s going to be the nature of that which is going to come? That’s how we wanted to use the language.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 9

Where did the so-called “younger evangelicals” come from? Gibbs and Bolger identify three movements or paradigms within the last couple of decades.

1. Gen-X churches (1986). The first Gen-X church in the U.S. was Dieter Zander’s NewSong in Pomona, California. Gibbs and Bolger write:

To generalize, their church services were characterized by loud, passionate worship music directed towards God and the believer (not the seeker); David Letterman style, irreverent banter; raw, narrative preaching; “Friends” (as per the popular TV series) type relationships; and later, candles, and the arts. The bulk of church practice remained the same as their Conservative Baptist, Seeker, New Paradigm, Purpose-Driven predecessors, only the surface techniques changed. (my emphasis)

2. Church-within-a-Church (1993). These churches really weren’t much different than Gen-X churches. The only difference was that they were sponsored by a megachurch. Examples:

3. A Shift Away from Generational Ministries (mid-to-late 90’s). There seemed to be a growing interest in postmodernity and a concomitant disillusionment with generational ministry techniques. This shift become an increasingly prominent topic of discussion in the Young Leaders Network and later the Terra Nova Theological Project (which later became Emergent). In 1995, Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh published their book Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be in the U.S., and Dave Tomlinson published The Post-Evangelical in the UK. Three years later, Brian McLaren’s first book, Reinventing Your Church, emerged.

Monday, November 21, 2005

"I'm Trying to Escape--It Didn't Work!"

Amusing video of the President trying to "escape" from a news conference.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

50 Spiritually Signficant Films

Joc Carter highlights 50 Spiritually Signficant Films.

A-Team on ETS

The A-Team bloggers are posting some summaries of a couple of ETS papers: Grudem on why poor nations remain in poverty, and the Moreland-Franke exchange. I happened to attend both sessions.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Calvinistic Cartoons

For some amusing Reformed caricatures (in the good sense of the word!), see these pictures by Steve Hesselman.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 8

In this final attempt to explain the identity of the Emerging Church Movement, I want to point to the work of Scot McKnight, the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University. McKnight is quite sympathetic to the emerging church paradigm, though he is not without his criticisms and reservations. Because he is neither a critic nor on the inside leadership, and because of his academic background and competence at analysis, his contribution has been quite helpful. (You can read his work and interaction at

Here are some of the headings from his recent writings on the church emergent:

What the Emerging Movement Is Post-

  1. The EM is by-and-large post-Evangelical—and also post-Liberal.
  2. The EM is post-doctrinal statements.
  3. The EM is post-partisanship.
  4. The EM is post-Bible study piety.

What the Emerging Movement Is Proclaiming

  1. The EM is pro-missional in thrust.
  2. The EM is pro-Jesus.
  3. The EM is pro-Church.
  4. The EM is pro-culture.
  5. The EM is pro-sensory worship.

What the Emerging Movement Is Protesting

  1. It protests too much tom-fakery in traditional churches.
  2. It denounces the divisions in the Church.
  3. It sees cock-sure certainty as a cancer.
  4. It refuses to separate action from articulation.
  5. It wants individualism absorbed into incorporation.
  6. Its mindset is against marketing the gospel.
  7. It despises the idea that Church is what takes place on Sunday Morning.
  8. It rejects the hierarchy and pyramid structure of many churches.
  9. The social gospel cannot be separated from the spiritual gospel.
  10. It wants to be worldly (in the Kingdom sense).

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 7

In this series of posts, I'm trying to understand the emerging church movement before I attempt any critique or offer any concerns.

I want to commend to you a brand-new book, published by Baker Books, entitled Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures, by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, both of Fuller Seminary.

I expect this book to quickly become a standard reference in the ongoing conversation. Key leaders within emerging churches are also recommending it as the best book currently available:

  • “Quite simply the best book yet on the emerging church.” (Andrew Jones)
  • “If you want to be truly conversant with emerging churches, this is the book to read.” (Brian McLaren)
  • “The best book available on the emerging church.” (John R. Franke)

Gibbs and Bolger spent five years interviewing participants in the “emergent conversation.” Rejecting a definitional approach that would clearly demarcate who is “in” and who is “out,” they have chosen to label as Emerging Churches those faith communities that are engaged in particular processes.

Gibbs and Bolger first identified churches “that take culture, specifically postmodern culture, very seriously.” They next identified nine activities/practices that were common to these churches. Very few of the churches they surveyed exhibited all nine. So they broke it down into three core practices and six derivative practices. Their expansive definition, build upon these nine practices, is as follows:

Emerging Churches are those
1. who take the life of Jesus as a model way to live, and
2. who transform the secular realm,
3. as they live highly communal lives.

Because of these three activities, emerging churches

4. welcome those who are outside,
5. share generously,
6. participate,
7. create,
8. lead without control, and
9. function together in spiritual activities.

Boiling it down to one sentence: “Emerging Churches are communities who practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures.” Or another way of saying the same thing: “Emerging Churches are missional communities arising from within postmodern culture, consisting of followers of Jesus seeking to be faithful in their place and time.”

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 6

One way to understand the self-described goals of Emergent is to read the Order and Rule of the Emergent Village. At, they write that “Members of emergent hold in common four values and practices that flow from them.” I will list these four values, along with some distinctives beneath them, encouraging you to go to the website to see this unpacked:

  1. Commitment to God in the Way of Jesus
    • Great Commandment (love God, love neighbor)
    • holistic gospel
    • generous orthodoxy

2. Commitment to the Church in all its Forms

· Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal

· irenic and inclusive, not elitist and critical

· “deep ecclesiology”

  1. Commitment to God’s World

· Practice faith missionally—following Christ into the world

  1. Commitment to One Another

· growing, global, generative, and non-exclusive friendship.

We could summarize this core commitments as: (1) pro-Jesus, (2) pro-church, (3) pro-world, and (4) pro-Koinonia.

[link fixed above]

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 5

A clarification on terminology. In an earlier post, I distinguished between Emergent and emerging. The two are difficult to keep straight, and few are careful with the distinction. The important thing is to understand that there is a conceptual distinction, even if there isn't always a linguistic one.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 4

The emerging church movement is not a North American phenomenon only. There are thousands of emerging Christians in Western Europe and the South Pacific—and to a lesser extent, there is development in Asia, Africa, and South America. Given the audience for this presentation and my lack of acquaintance with models outside the U.S., I will mainly focus on the American version. But do keep in mind that this is part of a larger worldwide conversation with its own dynamic and nuances.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 3

The emerging church definition from Wikipedia—the free, online, open-source encyclopedia—is a helpful place to begin.

The emerging church or emergent church is a diffuse movement which arose in the late 20th century as a reaction to the influence of modernism in Western Christianity. The movement is usually called a “conversation” by its proponents to emphasize its diffuse nature with contributions from many people and no clearly defined leadership or direction. The emerging church seeks to deconstruct and reconstruct Christianity as they live in a postmodern culture. While the movement is very diverse, many emergents display the following characteristics:

· Missional living. Christians should go out into the world to serve God rather than isolate themselves into communities of like-minded individuals.

· Narrative theology. Teaching should focus on narrative presentations of faith and the bible rather than systematic theology or biblical reductionism.

· Christ-centeredness. While not neglecting the study of scripture or the love of the church, Christians should focus their lives on the worship and emulation of the person of Jesus.

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 2

A recent document entitled “Response to Recent Criticism“ (2005) was signed by Tony Jones [national coordinator of Emergent in the US; Ph.D. candidate at Princeton], Doug Pagitt [pastor of Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis], Spencer Burke [founder of], Brian McLaren [founding pastor and minister-at large of Cedar Ridge Community Church outside Baltimore], Dan Kimball [pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz], Andrew Jones [founder of], and Chris Seay [pastor of Ecclesia of Houston]. It seems safe to say that these seven guys are among Emergent’s most significant influencers and leaders.

(For what it's worth: I've had lunch twice with Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt, and some email exchanges with Andrew Jones and Dan Kimball.)

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 1

First, we need to make a distinction that will serve to clear away some of the confusion. I’ve found it very helpful to make a distinction between “Emergent” and “Emerging.” Emergent is an organization (, with Tony Jones now serving as the first national coordinator in the U.S. Emerging is much broader. All that is Emergent is Emerging, but not all that is Emerging is necessarily Emergent. In other words, there are those that want to retain the Emerging label—or who have Emerging characteristics—without necessarily being identified with or even supportive of Emergent as an organization. As Scot McKnight writes, “A distinguishing feature is that Emergent tends to be the more philosophically-oriented and theologically innovative branch of the EM [Emerging Movement], while many that are Emerging are not willing to dance with [the] theological innovations of Emergent.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Evil as Evidence for God

Atheists often believe that the presence of evil in the world constitutes good evidence for disbelieving in the existence of God. I have long believed that one cannot make this charge without presupposing theism--the very thing the atheist is seeking to disprove.

It was William Lane Craig, I believe, whom I first saw formulate the syllogism in this way:

1. If objective moral values exist, then God exists.
2. Objective moral values exists (i.e., evil is real, not illusory).
3. Therefore, God exists.

The fact that atheists must presuppose the very thing they intend to deny fits well with the colorful illustrations that Cornelius Van Til used to use in order to demonstrate the fundamental inconsistencies of all non-Christian worldviews. Van Til argued that non-Christians were operating on "borrowed capital"--using the Christian worldview in order to destroy it. They couldn't help themselves. They need to use fundamentally theistic categories--like laws of science, morality, and logic--as tools to defeat theism, and yet they cannot account for them on their worldview.

Van Til compared this to a little girl sitting in her father's lap, slapping him in the face. She must be supported by him in order to rebel against him. Another time he spoke of the futility of non-Christian thought as being like a man made out of water using a ladder made out of water in order to climb up out of water!

Stand to Reason's Greg Koukl would not, I believe, want to be lumped in with Van Til, but I think that his article on "Evil as Evidence for God" is a fine illustration of the way in which non-Christians presuppose what they intend to deny. Here's how Greg begins:

The presence of evil in the world is considered by some to be solid evidence against the existence of God. I think it proves just the opposite. The entire objection hinges on the observation that true evil exists "out there" as an objective feature of the world. Therein lies the problem for the atheist.

To say something is evil is to make a moral judgment, and moral judgments make no sense outside of the context of a moral standard. Evil as a value judgment marks a departure from that standard of morality. If there is no standard, there is no departure.

Evil can't be real if morals are relative. Evil is real, though. That's why people object to it. Therefore, objective moral standards must exist as well. This discovery invites certain questions. Where do morals come from and why do they seem to apply only to human beings? Are they the product of chance? What world view makes sense out of morality?

We can answer these questions by simply reflecting on the nature of a moral rule. By making observations about the effect--morality--we can then determine its characteristics and then ask what cause is adequate to produce it.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Alito on Abortion

Bill Sammon of the Washington Times has the scoop of the day: "Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, wrote that 'the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion' in a 1985 document obtained by The Washington Times. 'I personally believe very strongly' in this legal position, Mr. Alito wrote on his application to become deputy assistant to Attorney General Edwin I. Meese III."

Hugh Hewitt notes: "while the twenty-year old job application says nothing about how Judge Alito would rule as Justice Alito, it does present the first ever case of a nominee with a decisive declaration on the subject of Roe."

What It's Like to Work at Google

"Google has also created a new kind of work environment. It serves three free meals a day to its employees (known as Googlers) so that they can remain on-site and spend more time working. It provides them with free on-site medical and dental care and haircuts, as well as washers and dryers. It charters buses with wireless Web access between San Francisco and Silicon Valley so that employees can toil en route to the office. To encourage innovation, it gives employees one day a week -- known as 20 percent time -- to work on anything that interests them.

"To eliminate the distinction between work and play -- and keep the Googlers happily at the Googleplex -- they have volleyball, foosball, puzzles, games, rollerblading, colorful kitchens stocked with free drinks and snacks, bowls of M&Ms, lava lamps, vibrating massage chairs and a culture encouraging Googlers to bring their dogs to work. (No cats allowed.) The perks also include an on-site masseuse, and extravagant touch-pad-controlled toilets with six levels of heat for the seat and automated washing, drying and flushing without the need for toilet paper."

From the Washington Post profile this morning. The whole article is quite fascinating--and a bit scary. The thesis is essentially: "Google knows a lot more about you than you know about Google."

Gore's Assessment

Former VP Al Gore: "I don't want to diminish the threat of terrorism at all, it is extremely serious, but on a long-term global basis, global warming is the most serious problem we are facing."

I shudder to think we almost elected this man President of the United States!

Victims of the World, Unite!

One of the most unattractive elements of modern society is its pervasive victimology. U.S. News & World Report's John Leo collects the Top 10 Victim Stories of 2005.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Schreiner Online

One of my favorite NT scholars is Tom Schreiner, for a number of reasons: (1) his explicit commitment to the centrality of God in Christ as the center of NT Theology, (2) his humility and submission to the authority of the text, and (3) his value--like Calvin--on clarity and brevity. So I'm happy to see that Southern Seminary has put online a list of his books and links to all of his reviews and articles.

Bush Lied, People Died

If you believe, or know other who believe, that "George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and/or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed," then you'll definitely want to read the essay "Who Is Lying About Iraq?" by Norman Podhoretz, published in Commentary magazine.

"Whose Afraid of the Holy Spirit?"

There's a new book out, published by, entitled Whose Afraid of the Holy Spirit? An Investigation into the Ministry of the Spirit of God Today, ed. James Sawyer and Daniel Wallace. Here's a description of the book:

The origins of this book came in the early 1990’s when both editors (Jim Sawyer and Dan Wallace) were facing trauma in their lives and in the lives of their families—traumas that their rationalistic theological training had left them unequipped to deal with. According to Sawyer and Wallace, “The propositions of our theology left us cold, and failed to speak vitally to the pain we each felt. Independently, as scholars trained in the evangelical cessationist tradition we came to grips with the spiritual sterility of that tradition. As we shared our personal ‘war stories’ we discovered similar trajectories in the development of our understanding of the reality and necessity of the personal and existential work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Doctrine and biblical knowledge alone simply did not cut it.”

While not endorsing what they consider to be the excesses of Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, and the Third Wave, Sawyer and Wallace have embraced what they have tentatively called pneumatic Christianity. They contend that the way much of evangelical cessationism has developed is reactionary and reductionistic. Rather than focus upon scriptural images of the Holy Spirit as a presence deep within the soul of the believer, many cessationists have reactively denied experience in opposition to the Pentecostal overemphasis upon experience, which at times supplanted the revealed truth of scripture.

Gerald Bray and J.I. Packer, along with about a dozen others, contribute essays along these lines. Wayne Grudem wrote both a foreword and an afterword for the book. Here are some excerpts from his reaction and interaction:

This is a remarkable book. I came away thinking that there is much more common ground than I had realized between thoughtful, Bible-based cessationists and thoughtful, Bible-based Pentecostals, charismatics, and other evangelicals who believe the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit continue today…

My overall expectation is that the book will be widely welcomed among many in the cessationist tradition who have been longing for some biblically based, academically credible leaders to give them this kind of theologically sound argument for “progressive cessationism” (my term for what I read in this book), and thereby to give them a sort of permission to be open to the Holy Spirit’s work in various ways today. This may include being much more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s moment-by-moment guidance through the day, or praying with more expectant faith for the Holy Spirit’s miraculous work, or allowing times of personal and corporate prayer and praise to be much more filled with exuberant joy or sorrowful sobbing and weeping in response to the Holy Spirit’s presence, or talking openly with others about the Holy Spirit’s work in one’s life without fear of being accused of doctrinal error or dangerous subjectivism. If these things happen more frequently in cessationist circles, I am sure the authors would be thankful to God, and I believe that God also would be pleased because these things would be indications of a deeper personal relationship with himself….

What a remarkable book! I expect that its publication will mark a significant turning point in the ongoing debate over the work of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts in the church today. It gives articulate expression to a kind of “progressive cessationism” that rightly safeguards the primacy and sufficiency and unique authority of Scripture in guiding our lives today, but that also leaves the door open for Christians to welcome the Holy Spirit to work in ways that have not been seen frequently in cessationist churches. And I think that charismatics, Pentecostals, and other non-cessationists who read this book will be surprised at how much common ground they find with these authors, not least in their evident love for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 11, 2005

David Powlison

Over at the Girl Talk Blog, they've been having David Powlison post each day this week on the process of biblical change. All the posts can be read here. I encourage you to check it out. And if you're struggling spiritually--as we all do in different ways--consider printing these out and working through a post each day for the next week.

Songs for Suffering Saints

When Pastor Eric Schumacher was in seminary, his "Hymnology" professor encouraged the students to write hymns on topics that were neglected in the hymnbooks. His collection, Songs for Suffering Saints, is the fruit of Eric's labor. I encourage you to have a look.

Bush: You Can Criticize My Decision or the Conduct of the War, But Don't Rewrite History

President Bush, making some good points in a major new speech:

While it is perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: 'When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security.' That's why more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

The stakes in the global War on Terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our Nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.

* * *

Also of interest: John McCain delivered a major policy address on the topic of Winning the War in Iraq.

Congratulations, Sam!

Hats off to one of my pastors, Sam Crabtree, who was recently named by the Church Report to be the top business administrator in the country. Sam's life and ministry are marked by a rare combination of serious wisdom, a quick wit, and a deep love for Jesus.

If John Piper is the "vision caster," Sam Crabtree is the "vision keeper," and Bethlehem would not be what it is without Sam's tireless labors.

Congratulations, Sam!

Here's a note that John Piper wrote for our weekly church newsletter:

An open letter to Sam Crabtree,

You have been recognized publicly now as the finest Executive Pastor in America. Congratulations!

This tribute is fully deserved at the human level. It is all about God in you, as you know, and so he gets the glory. He also delights in your faithfulness. I am happy that you get a little advance notice on his reckoning at the end: "Well done, good and faithful servant."

I do not take for granted the awesome gift you are to Bethlehem and to the kingdom of Christ and to me. I love our team. And it keeps getting better all the time.

To seem the public announcement on the web click here:

Your fellow servant,

John Piper

Pat Robertson to the Citizens of Dover

USA Today: "In Dover, Pa., voters swept out eight of nine school board members who last year required a one-minute classroom statement supporting the competing theory of 'intelligent design' and casting doubt on evolution."

Pat Robertson's response: "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover. If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there." (Watch the video: Broadband | Dial-up)

This is embarrassingly shallow theology and communication on so many levels. Feel free to point out the problems in the comments section below.

David Wells on "Emergent Spirituality"

David Wells, professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, delivered this week the two-part Page Lectures at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, addressing the topic of Emergent Spirituality.

Part 1 (Download)
Part 2 (Download)

To stream these talks, go to the SEBTS chapel webpage.

I haven't yet had a chance to listen to these yet, but hope to do so soon.

Genetic Testing, Down's Syndrome, and Abortion

Hugh Hewitt and Al Mohler both highlight a deeply disturbing new report.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mohler to Mahaney: "Nerds Rule!"

From Al Mohler's blog:

All kidding aside, make sure to read Mohler's review of CJ's excellent book.

In today's commentary, I review C. J. Mahaney's newest book, Humility: True Greatness. C.J. is the right man for this job in almost every respect. Almost every respect.

Just consider the insight in this paragraph: Nowhere is the word 'great' mentioned more often in our culture than in the context of professional sports. If you watch any game this weekend and listen to the announcer's commentary, then like a mantra you'll probably hear the word 'great' repeated throughout--great, great, great. Yet it may well be that nowhere in our culture is the absence of true greatness more evident than in professional sports. So be careful about cultivating an excessive love for professional or collegiate athletics in your child.

That's so profoundly true -- and counter-cultural, too. But he ruined it all for me with his introductory paragraph: Take athletics, for example. You should know that I love all things athletic. I myself have been active in strenuous athletics all my life, so it's not like I'm some uncoordinated geek who's now seizing an opportunity to display his inner resentment toward people who are athletically superior. That's not what this is about.

Well, on behalf of uncoordinated geeks all over the world, I take offense at that kind of athletic condescension and braggadocio. How's that for a display of "inner resentment toward people who are athletically superior?" Nerds rule, C.J. That's what this is about.

* * *

All kidding aside, make sure to read Mohler's review of CJ's excellent book.

Update: CJ responds on the Girl Talk Blog:

"Nerds do rule and it is a very happy day for all who played right field in gym class softball!"

"I'm so grateful that nerds do indeed rule. I am so appreciative that men like Dr. Mohler are leading the church, and I am following him. I am one of his biggest fans. Actually, most of my smart friends are nerds and though I have the deepest respect for them, I have seen them throw a ball and it's not a pretty sight. So I encourage my scholarly friends to study away and leave the athletics to me."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Defining Emerging

Scot McKnight posts a new definition of emerging churches that I've found helpful.

[Link fixed]

CIA Incompetance

The CIA op-eds continue. Former CIA case officer Reuel Marc Gerecht provides a behind-the-scenes look at Langley's incompetance with regard to secret operatives.

Closing line: "You have to give credit to Langley: Overseas it may be incompetent; but in Washington, it can still con many into giving it the respect and consideration it doesn't deserve."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New Powlison Book

Steve McCoy points to a new book coming out by David Powlison. It's worth selling the shirt off your back to read David's writings. As I once heard George Verwer say: If you don't own at least two copies you're a backslider!

"Only Jesus"

Marc Heinrich has put an MP3 of his song "Only Jesus" online. Go here, scroll down, and worship.

Just War Theory and the "War on Terror"

Philosophy professor Robert Koons has posted a very helpful summary of the global war on terror and just war theory. I don't agree with everything he says (e.g., on the draft), but it's the most concise and clear piece I've read yet--pointing out what the Bush Administration did right and what it did wrong. Here's an outline:

1. The atrocities of September 11th were not crimes but acts of war, and the appropriate response to war is war, not judicial proceedings.

2. This war is not about retaliation or revenge: it is simply an act of national self-defense. The point is not to punish our enemies but to vanquish them.

3. Terrorists are not the enemy – they are the weapon. The enemy consists of those sovereign states that created this weapon and aimed it at the United States, fully aware that an attack like that of September 11th would eventually ensue.

4. When defending ourselves against hostile nations who deliberately conceal their identity, we are justified in acting against any nation whom we suspect of being among our attackers, if we have evidence sufficient to warrant a reasonable belief in its guilt. We do not need to meet the burden of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”, as we do in criminal proceedings.

5. All just war is essentially preventative and preemptive. We go to war, not to exact retribution for past actions, but to protect innocent lives against murderous aggression. Consequently, the case for war against a particular nation does not rest on tying its leaders to the planning or execution of a past attack (such as the attack on September 11th), but on demonstrating that that nation is actively harboring and aiding terrorist groups who pose a threat to us in the future.

6. If war would be justified against more than one nation, it is not contrary to justice to make war on some but not all such nations. If prudence dictates that we focus our war-making efforts on the softer of two targets (on Afghanistan or Iraq, rather than Iran or Syria), then the absence of military action against the harder target does not invalidate the rationale for war against the softer. The “unfairness” of leaving some enemies unmolested while invading another is simply a consequence of the complexities of applying moral principle to geopolitical reality.

Koons suggests the Iraq war was muddied by two factors:

(a) The tendency of the triumvirate of the CIA, the State Department and the New York Times to deny any connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, both before and after Sept. 11th, despite evidence of high-level contacts between al-Qaeda and the Hussein regime from 1990 on, evidence that Iraq was using the Salman Pak site for training jihadist terrorists from around the world in the art of airplane hijacking, and despite the indisputable fact that, after Sept. 11th, Hussein’s Iraq served as a safe haven for jihadists escaping the American attack on Afghanistan. One can only speculate about motives, but all three organizations had reason to minimize these connections in order to justify their own blindness to the threat posed by the al-Qaeda-Taliban-Hussein combination prior to 9-11. In addition, all three organizations are largely peopled by those whose worldview is diametrically opposed to the populist conservatism represented by GWB.

(b) The Bush administration, partly intimidated by the CIA, and partly due to an unfortunate obsession with securing U.N. approval, decided to make the relatively minor issue of weapons of mass destruction into a central rationale for the war on Iraq. This resulted in the anomaly of a Republican war justified as needed to make the world safe for UN Security Council resolutions. The CIA, with its uncanny knack for being wrong about everything, joined with the rest of the world’s intelligence communities in certifying that Hussein was on the verge of developing nuclear and biological weapons. This now seems to be certainly wrong, but this error does not invalidate the justice of the war in Iraq, for two reasons. First, the error was certainly an honest one, and one for which Hussein bears the sole responsibility. Hussein interfered with outside inspectors and deliberately did everything he could to create the impression that he was close to possessing WMD. Second, the threat of WMDs may have been the sole basis for UN approval of the war, but it was never the only justification given by the Bush administration. Iraq’s role as a safe haven for post-9-11 terrorists was always the principal rationale, and rightly so.

Congress to Open an Investigation on the Leak to the WaPo

"Sources tell Drudge that early this afternoon House Speaker Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Frist will announce a bicameral investigation into the leak of classified information to the WASHINGTON POST regarding the “black sites” where high value al Qaeda terrorists are being held and interrogated.... According to sources, the WASHINGTON POST story by Dana Priest (Wednesday November 2), revealed highly classified information that has already done significant damage to US efforts in the War on Terror...."

More on the CIA

I'm not sure how many of my readers are interested in the ethics of the CIA and its ongoing war against the Bush Administration--perhaps I'm the only one!--but here's another helpful piece from Powerline, entitled Three Years of the Condor.

The French Revolution

Daniel Pipes, writing in the New York Sun, provides a very helpful overview and analysis of the situation in France. He suggests that it may be a turning point in European history, that it is the end of an era of cultural innocence and political naïveté for the French, that the insurrection is not the first instance of a semi-organized Muslim insurgency in Europe, that the French press is portraying the insurgents as victims and denying that their actions have anything to do with Islam, and that this is a third way of jihad (random bombings and targeted bombings are the other two).

Mr. Pipes also explains the differing political responses between Nicolas Sarkozy and Dominique de Villepin (two leading French politicians who will probably run for President in 2007), and predicts which idealogy will prevail.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Who Said That?

Here's an interesting exchange from Sunday's Meet The Press:

MR. RUSSERT: You talked about Iraq. There's a big debate now about whether or not the data, the intelligence data, was misleading and manipulated in order to encourage public opinion support for the war. Let me give you a statement that was talked about during the war. "We know [Iraq is] developing unmanned vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents...all U.S. intelligence experts agree they are seek nuclear weapons. There's little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop them. ... In the wake of September 11th, who among us can say with any certainty to anybody that those weapons might not be used against our troops, against allies in the region? Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater--a nuclear weapon. ..."

Are those the statements that you're concerned about?

SEN. KENNEDY: Well, I am concerned about it, and that's why I believe that the actions that were taken by Harry Reid in the Senate last week when effectively he said that we are going to get to the bottom of this investigation, this had been kicked along by the Intelligence Committee, by Pat Roberts for over two years. And Harry Reid did more in two hours than that Intelligence Committee has done in two years. And the American people are going get this information.

And it's important that they get this information about how intelligence was misused because of the current situation. It's important to know where we've been, but it's important to know where we are today, because we're facing serious challenges over in Iran. We're facing serious challenges in North Korea. And we cannot have a government which is going to manipulate intelligence information. We've got to get to the bottom of it, and that is what the Democrats stood for on the floor of the United States Senate last week. That was a bold stroke, one that has the overwhelming support of the American people. It's about time they get the facts on it. They haven't got the facts to date. They deserve them, and they'll get them.

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, what the Democrats stood for on the floor of the Senate in 2002--let me show you who said what I just read: John Kerry, your candidate for president. He was talking about a nuclear threat from Saddam Hussein. Hillary Clinton voted for the war. John Edwards, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry. Democrats said the same things about Saddam Hussein. You, yourself, said, "Saddam is dangerous. He's got dangerous weapons." It wasn't just the Bush White House.

[HT: Just One Minute]

The Rove-Wilson Affair

Al Mohler points out that Karl Rove and Joseph Wilson attend the same church, and suggests that the church must step in to fulfill its biblical obligations in this matter.

Bob Kauflin

Bob Kauflin--Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries--has now joined the blogosphere at I expect it to become a must-read, so check it out.

More on the CIA

Deborah Orin joins in, asking, "Another CIA Dirty Trick?"

Worshipping the Giver, Not the Gifts

One of the most important things I've learned from John Piper is that we must always be on guard to worship the Giver, not the gifts--to love God, not simply what he has given us.

That's the point of this stanza from Anne R. Cousin's hym, "The Sands of Time Are Sinking." The entire hymn was inspired by Samuel Rutherford's Letters, and this stanza in particular was built upon Letters 21 and 168.

The Bride eyes not her garment, But her dear Bridegroom's face
I will not gaze at glory, But on my King of Grace—
Not at the crown He gifteth, But on His piercèd hand:—
The Lamb is all the glory Of Immanuel's land.

Translating Truth

Tim Challies reviews Translating Truth, a new series of essays by Wayne Grudem, Leland Ryken, C. John Collins, Bruce Winter, and Vern Poythress (with a foreword by J. I. Packer).

Mohler on Jimmy Carter's Endangered Values

Al Mohler reviews Jimmy Carter's latest book.

Here's Mr. Carter's thesis in a nutshell:

Jimmy Carter makes one central argument in this new book, and that is that America (indeed civilization itself) is under attack by a sinister force. In effect, he argues that a new specter now haunts civilization -- the specter of Christian fundamentalism.

And here is Mohler's response in a nutshell:

Those who would wish to take Jimmy Carter and his ideas seriously will find little assistance in this book. More than anything else, it represents a superficial complaint against conservative Christianity. He offers a caricature of conservative evangelicals, even as he redefines basic Christian doctrines in order to conform to his own worldview. He criticizes fundamentalists for simplistic and superficial convictions, while he offers superficial and simplistic assessments of urgent moral questions.

Something the Lord Made

This weekend my wife and I watched on DVD an excellent HBO film, entitled Something the Lord Made. (Here is the official website for the film.) Here is's description and review:

Something the Lord Made recounts the relationship between Dr. Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman) and Vivian Thomas (Mos Def). It begins in 1930s Nashville when imperious cardiac surgeon Blalock hires Thomas, an African American carpenter, as his janitor. When the latter reveals a passion for medicine and facility with surgical instruments, Blalock promotes him to lab tech. Thomas isn't given a raise, works side jobs to make ends meet, and is expected to be grateful. Along the way, he follows Blalock from Vanderbilt to Johns Hopkins, where they save thousands of lives through their pioneering work, but will Thomas ever get any credit? The film provides a satisfying answer to that question. Joseph Sargent (A Lesson Before Dying) directs with subtlety and intelligence, while Rickman and Mos Def are in top form, often underplaying where most actors would do otherwise. Something the Lord Made won the 2004 Emmy for outstanding made-for-TV movie.

It really is a fine film that I'm happy to commend.

If interested, PBS has done a documentary on Bloalock and Thomas, entitled Partners of the Heart, and Thomas wrote an autobiography with the same title.

(HT: CJ Mahaney)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Greek and English

Stephen Smith of the ESV Blog points to a very cool website for those who want to see Greek and English side-by-side and to learn more about how Greek works.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Forthcoming by Jerry Bridges

Is God Really in Controll?: Trusting God in a World of Terrorism, Tsunamis, And Personal Tragedy (NavPress; February of 2006)

Interview with Douglas Gresham

CT interviews C.S. Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham, about the forthcoming Narnia movies:

Part 1: The Man Behind the Wardrobe
Part 2: Narnia Comes to Life

Evangelical Forum

Those in the DC area may be interested to know that Drs. Mark Dever and Tom Nettles will be addressing some important issues at the forthcoming Evangelical Forum, November 9.

Dr. Tom Nettles “Soul Freedom and Church Purity”

Dr. Mark Dever “John Bunyan: Puritan Baptist Churchman”

Dr. Mark Dever “John L. Dagg: Virginia Baptist Churchman”

Dr. Tom Nettles “Soul Freedom and Divine Sovereignty”

"The Last Abortion Clinic"

This forthcoming PBS broadcast looks interesting:

Airs Tuesday, November 8 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)

Today, the headlines are filled with speculation about changes in the U.S. Supreme Court and what those changes might mean for abortion -- an issue that has divided the country for over 30 years. Heated rhetoric from both sides continues to be heard in courtrooms and on the campaign trail. But while attention is often focused on the arguments, there is another story playing out in local communities.

Pro-life advocates have waged a successful campaign to reduce abortions in many places throughout the country. By using state laws to regulate and limit abortion and by creating their own clinics to offer alternatives to women, they have changed the facts on the ground. On Nov. 8, FRONTLINE investigates the steady decline in the number of physicians and clinics performing abortions and focuses on local political battles in states like Mississippi, where only a single clinic performs the controversial procedure.

The Case Against the CIA

Is the real story behind the Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame kerfuffle that the CIA is play dirty tricks in order to defeat the Bush administration? That's what Democratic Senator Zell Miller thinks.

Washington attorney Victoria Toensing thinks the same, and explains why in her op-ed, "Investigate the CIA."

The Powerline guys summarize the case against the CIA.

McKnight on the Emerging Church

Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament at North Park, has a series of posts on "What is the Emerging Church?" Professor McKnight--whom I count as a friend--is more sympathetic to the Emerging Church than I am. However, I think he is one of the best writing today in terms of helping us to understand, on their own terms, exactly what this movement-mood-church is.

What is the Emerging Church?
What is the Emerging Church? Protest
What is the Emerging Church? Pro-Aplenty

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appelas on Sex, Children, Parental Rights

From their opinion issued today:

…there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it. We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students. Finally, we hold that the defendants’ actions were rationally related to a legitimate state purpose.... …In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs” and that the asserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right. In doing so, we do not quarrel with the parents’ right to inform and advise their children about the subject of sex as they see fit. We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select.

(BTW, the 9th Circuit is usually considered the most liberal and the most often over-ruled federal court.)

(HT: The Corner)

Helpful post on it here.

The Bush Doctrine

Commentary journal recently asked 36 leading thinkers to respond to the following questions:

1. Where have you stood, and where do you now stand, in relation to the Bush Doctrine? Do you agree with the President’s diagnosis of the threat we face and his prescription for dealing with it?

2. How would you rate the progress of the Bush Doctrine so far in making the U.S. more secure and in working toward a safer world environment? What about the policy’s longer-range prospects?

3. Are there particular aspects of American policy, or of the administration’s handling or explanation of it, that you would change immediately?

4. Apart from your view of the way the Bush Doctrine has been defined or implemented, do you agree with its expansive vision of America’s world role and the moral responsibilities of American power?

You can read all 36 responses online.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Seminary Online for Free

If you haven't already, check out the Biblical Training website for a number of excellent free classes by top evangelical thinkers and teachers.

Treason in the WaPo?

Is it just me, or does this story in the Washington Post, exposing a secret CIA detention facility and publishing satellite photos of it, border on treason?

Liberals and the Race Card

As they come to my attention, I'll try to flag some blatant examples of liberal racism. If a conservative utters anything racist or racially insensitive, it becomes a national scandal. But if a liberal does the same, it gets virtually no attention.

Exhibit #1:
Fort Worth Star Telegraph columnist Bob Ray Sanders wrote in his blog for the paper before the Alito announcement: "[G]et ready for the next nominee, who is likely to be a judge as comfortable in a white robe as a black one." Hugh Hewitt interviewed Mr. Sanders about this yesterday (you can listen to the audio or read the transcript). Hewitt was polite and relentless. Sanders was absolutely clueless.

Exhibit #2
An editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

In losing a woman, the court with Alito would feature seven white men, one white woman and a black man, who deserves an asterisk because he arguably does not represent the views of mainstream black America.

Exhibit #3

The Washington Times this morning has an article called "'Party trumps race' for Steele foes."
Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican.
Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log.
Operatives for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) also obtained a copy of his credit report -- the only Republican candidate so targeted.
But black Democrats say there is nothing wrong with "pointing out the obvious."
"There is a difference between pointing out the obvious and calling someone names," said a campaign spokesman for Kweisi Mfume, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a black Baltimore Democrat, said she does not expect her party to pull any punches, including racial jabs at Mr. Steele, in the race to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.
"Party trumps race, especially on the national level," she said. "If you are bold enough to run, you have to take whatever the voters are going to give you. It's democracy, perhaps at its worse, but it is democracy."
Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, a black Baltimore Democrat, said Mr. Steele invites comparisons to a slave who loves his cruel master or a cookie that is black on the outside and white inside because his conservative political philosophy is, in her view, anti-black.
"Because he is a conservative, he is different than most public blacks, and he is different than most people in our community," she said. "His politics are not in the best interest of the masses of black people."
During the 2002 campaign, Democratic supporters pelted Mr. Steele with Oreo cookies during a gubernatorial debate at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
In 2001, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. called Mr. Steele an "Uncle Tom," when Mr. Steele headed the state Republican Party. Mr. Miller, Prince George's County Democrat, later apologized for the remark.
"That's not racial. If they call him the "N' word, that's racial," Mrs. Marriott said. "Just because he's black, everything bad you say about him isn't racial."

(Read the whole thing.)

Anyone notice any patterns here?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mohler and Patterson on the Doctrines of Grace

Drs. Al Mohler and Paige Patterson will debate the doctrines of grace at the pastors' conference prior to the SBC 2006 Convention. Eric Schumacher has some of the details.

Reformation 21

The new issue of Reformation 21--on the theme of preaching--is now online.

Schumer Slander

Senator Chuck Schumer, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, came out yesterday with a regretable analogy that I believe is slanderous in its suggestion:

"Like Rosa Parks, Judge Alito will be able to change history by virtue of where he sits. The real question today is whether Judge Alito would use his seat on the bench, just as Rosa Parks used her seat on the bus, to change history for the better or whether he would use that seat to reverse much of what Rosa Parks and so many others fought so hard and for so long to put in place."

John Podhertz

[Schumer] decided, in a pretty amazing display of bad taste, to use the late Rosa Parks' corpse as a weapon....

Now, it's one thing for a senator to say that Alito should not be confirmed because he is too conservative. That's been Schumer's stance on GOP judicial nominations, pure and simple, and while it may be wrong-headed, it's not disreputable. It's quite another for Schumer to oppose a conservative jurist by suggesting his views are implicitly segregationist. That's just a lousy and rotten thing to do.

Even more embarrassing for Schumer: His slander is just a cheap carbon copy of the real thing. That was Ted Kennedy's stunning 1987 evisceration of Robert Bork — you remember, when Kennedy took to the floor of the Senate mere minutes after Bork's nomination to say he would return America to a time when "blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters."

Kennedy's words ushered in a new era in American politics. It would be difficult to capture just how shocking that attack was. Nothing like it had ever been said by an elected official about someone who was not an elected official — unless he was speaking about the leader of an enemy country.

Bork's supporters were determined not to give the attack the time of day, presuming that it would boomerang — that people of good will would be disgusted by Kennedy's words and sympathetic to Bork. They didn't understand that the rules of the game had changed.

Fortunately for Alito, and unfortunately for Schumer & Co., in 2005 everybody knows the score. All and sundry understand that any judicial candidate with a record of any kind is going to be the object of a smear campaign.

As a result, the smears are almost instantly discounted. They aren't going to convince anyone; they're just an automatic and instantly forgettable aspect of our national political life, like balloons on election night or David Gergen's opinion on anything....