Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Mother of All Scandals

Forget Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Lewinsky-gate. The Associated Press has broken news that will send this country reeling: the website for the White House counts visitors.

Interview with Michael Horton

Peter Hastie of the Australian Presbyterian seems to publish an excellent interview in every single issue. Here is his interview with Michael Horton on what's so amazing about grace.

Friday, December 30, 2005

MSM New Year's Resolutions

Hugh Hewitt writes, "I have pieced together what seem to be the MSM's self-destructive New Year's Resolutions":

1. Display utter ignorance of the free-market system the rest of us work in, which is competitive and requires us to work hard to fend off competitors.

2. Have obvious contempt for your readers.

3. Save the most contempt for your most engaged readers.

4. When in doubt, throw up your hands and blame someone else.

Read the whole thing for context and explanation. Hugh sums it up well:

These New Year's Resolutions are simply not going to work for the MSM. As a blogger, I pick on the MSM a lot. We all do, and usually with good reason. We wish to hold them to the same standards they wish to hold corporations and politicians.

It doesn't mean we think the MSM should disappear. I know that when it comes to thorough, worldwide, concentrated, quick newsgathering, you can't beat AP. It will be a long time before anyone can, but there's no reason that the APs of the world should be able to recline forever in that comfortable knowledge.

I have a special place in my heart for newspapers because I grew up with them; it's what I studied in school; it's what I thought I wanted to do. But I have a more special place in my heart for whomever can give me the best information when I want it. I will not forever hold onto MSM sources simply because they feel entitled to my business, and no one else will either.

Chesteron on Humility and Scepticism

Here are some great quotes by Chesterton on humility, from his book Orthodoxy. (HT: Douglas Wilson, who comments: "Read a couple emergent books and then read this chapter [3], or better yet, the entire book. It will be like clapping a oxygen mask on your face after bicycling up Mt. Everest."

"…what we suffer from to-day is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert—himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt—the Divine Reason."

"…the new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn."

"The old humility was a spur that prevented a man from stopping; not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether.

"At any street corner we may meet a man who utters the frantic and blasphemous statement that he may be wrong. Every day one comes across somebody who says that of course his view may not be the right one. Of course his view must be the right one, or it is not his view. We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table. We are in danger of seeing philosophers who doubt the law of gravity as being a mere fancy of their own. Scoffers of old time were too proud to be convinced; but these are too humble to be convinced. The meek do inherit the earth; but the modern skeptics are too meek to claim their inheritance."

"The sages, it is often said, can see no answer to the riddle of religion. But the trouble with our sages is not that they cannot see the answer; it is that they cannot even see the riddle."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Barna's (So-Called) "Revolution"

Sam Storms of Enjoying God Ministries has written an extensive, must-read review of George Barna's new book, Revolution.

Part 1

Part 2

Here is Storms' summary of Barna's thesis:

Barna’s thesis is that one can be a Christ-loving, Bible-believing, soul-winning, God-exalting Christian without any formal involvement in or connection with the “church”. The absence of the latter, be it noted, is not because of circumstances beyond your control. It’s not that some people, because of geographic isolation or persecution or other factors, cannot find or plant or become involved in a local church. The Revolution is a movement of people who easily could but refuse to do so, believing that for them, at any rate, true spirituality and authentic obedience to God and a genuine, thriving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is possible only by forsaking membership in, support of, and allegiance to a local congregation of believers.

Storms concludes his extensive review in this way: “I hope and pray that people who read this book (if they must) will have the discernment to recognize its flaws and resist its gut-level appeal. With all due respect to George Barna and his many accomplishments for the sake of the Kingdom, this is a bad book that encourages a bad agenda for the people of God.”

Here are some more reviews and quotes:

Kevin Miller, writing in Christianity Today: "Do you want to become a Revolutionary? First, trade your copy of Revolution for Life Together, the manifesto written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer during the dark days of Nazi Germany. Then, if you want to do heroic and revolutionary exploits, go back to your local church. That's something so spiritually challenging that several million people no longer want to do it."

Michael Haykin writes: "Here is Evangelicalism throwing the past and its caution to the winds and eloping with the fervently anti-institutional spirit of the age—a nymph with oh so many paramours. Nothing really revolutionary here. Just utter silliness and the giddiness of childish infatuation."

Chris Treat at Reformation 21 writes: “His exegesis is so thin that the most telling result of Barna’s book may be how much evangelical leaders take his exegesis seriously. If Barna’s weak exegesis can convince evangelical leaders that the Bible is silent about the local church, then evangelicalism has surely reached the pinnacle of Biblical ignorance."

Update: broken links to the Storms' review are now fixed

Wilson on McLaren, continued and finished

Doug Wilson has wrapped up his review of McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy. Here are the final entries:

David Wells @ Reformation 21

The latest Reformation 21 is largely devoted to David Wells' thought and writings.

Roundtable Discussion: The Wells Quadrilogy, with Ligon Duncan, Philip Ryken, and Carl Trueman.

David Wells: An Appreciation from the Land of Braveheart, by David C. Meredith

Above All Earthly Pow'rs, Reviewed by Ligon Duncan

An audio interview with Wells will be forthcoming.

Here is a quote from Duncan's review that expresses the importance of Wells' thinking and writing:

Let me pause here and, at the serious risk of being charged with sycophancy, say that David F. Wells is one of the most eminent theologians in the English-speaking world today. His combination of theological brilliance and acute cultural analysis is rare, even at the highest levels of his profession. The circle of friends into whom the Lord has providentially placed Professor Wells constitutes a Who's Who of great evangelical leaders, preachers, thinkers, theologians and historians over the last half-century. A quick glance at the preface of the fourth volume of his decade-long reflection on evangelical theology and American culture will indicate Dr. Wells’ extensive fellowship with, for instance, John Stott, J.I. Packer, Carl F.H. Henry, Francis Schaeffer, Martin Lloyd-Jones, Os Guinness, George Marsden and Mark Noll. This has both prepared him to play the role of Jeremiah to the 21st century Protestant church in the West, and placed him in a uniquely strategic place for the observation and analysis of evangelicalism.

See the full table of contents for the whole Ref21 issue, including stuff not related to Wells.

Trueman on Blogging

In his latest "Wages of Spin" entry at Ref21, Carl Trueman looks at the world of blogging: The Theatre of the Absurd.

"To cut to the chase: the danger of the web is this: where everyone has a right to speak, everyone ends up thinking they have a right to be heard; and when everyone in general thinks they have a right to be heard, then you end up with a situation where nobody in particular is listened to."

"Christian Bashing and Persecution"

Ardel Caneday has a good blog post on Christians who make a fuss about certain TV shows, and wonder if evangelicals have the stomach for any perseuction at all.

The INSIGHT Program

Here's an announcement that some readers may be interested in:

Intensive Study of Integrated Global History and Theology

A Freshman/Sophomore Year of College That Produces World Christians
Offered at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Beginning in September 2006

The INSIGHT Program:
  • Instills in students a global world view in a one year college curriculum integrating Bible, History, Anthropology and Philosophy
  • Prepares students for living in intellectually and spiritually challenging environments from the secular college campus to the mission field
  • Utilizes curriculum developed at the U.S. Center for World Mission
  • Offers fully transferable credits from Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Annual tuition of just $7,900
  • Financial aid and grants available to qualifying students through Northwestern College

For a full description of INSIGHT, see this brochure.

For more information, contact E. Michael Rusten, Th.M., Ph.D., Associate Dean of The Bethlehem Institute and Director of the INSIGHT Program, at or 612-338-3404

For an information packet and registration materials, contact Connie Kopischke, Registrar of The Bethlehem Institute, at or 612-338-3420

Tom Steller of Bethlehem recently wrote:

Here's a chance for young men and women to spend a year with us at Bethlehem, benefitting from Pastor John's preaching and the life of this unusual body of believers, engaging in urban cross-cultural ministry, while getting a powerful year of transferrable college credit studying the World Christian Foundations curriculum in a Socratic cohort-based group. This curriculum mixed together with solid doses of the sovereignty of God and Christian Hedonism can lay an unforgettable foundation for future study and ministry at a fraction of the tuition of more traditional programs. It's almost too good to be true! If I could repeat my freshman year of college, this is what I would choose to do!

Robert Kaplan on Troop Morale

While running some errands tonight, I caught much of Hugh Hewitt's fascinating interview with Robert Kaplan. You may have heard Kaplan's name recently, because the President is currently reading his book, Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground. Kaplan has spent several years traveling the globe being embedded with US troops.

When Hewitt asked Kaplan about the idea that the military is tired and worn out, I found Kaplan's answer to be very interesting:

My commentary is that...and I just came back from Iraq, and I spent six months a year in the barracks, is that I've only met two kinds of Army Special Forces and front line Marines: Those who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who are pulling every bureaucratic string to get deployed there. Morale has never been better. It's much better than in the 1990's, where the military was not really allowed to do anything. Front line combat troops are like artisan writers. They want to be active in their chosen profession. As I said, morale has never been better, and the one complaint I hear is we can get this thing done in Iraq. It may take a few years longer than people think, but the weakest link is the home front.

You don't see that on the evening news--but then again, it doesn't exactly fit their preconceived storyline.

LA Times Falls for Internet Hoax

The LA Times falls for an internet hoax and runs the story on the front page. Powerline has the details.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Google Hacks

Joe Carter has some useful tips and tricks for googling.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Prayer for Ministers

Here is a wonderful Olney Hymn by John Newton, expressing a "Prayer for Ministers." It can be found in Worthy Is the Lamb: Puritan Poetry in Honor of Christ:

Chief Shepherd of thy chosen sheep,
From death and sin set free;
May every under–shepherd keep
His eye, intent on thee!

With plenteous grace their hearts prepare,
To execute thy will
Compassion, patience, love and care,
And faithfulness and skill

Inflame their minds with holy zeal
Their flocks to feed and teach;
And let them live, and let them feel
The sacred truths they preach.

Oh, never let the sheep complain
That toys, which fools amuse;
Ambition, pleasure, praise or gain,
Debase the shepherd’s views.

He, that for these, forbears to feed
The souls whom JESUS loves;
Whate’er he may profess, or plead,
An idle shepherd proves.

The sword of God shall break his arm,
A blast shall blind his eye
His word shall have no pow’r to warm,
His gifts shall all grow dry.

O LORD, avert this heavy woe,
Let all thy shepherds say!
And grace, and strength, on each bestow,
To labor while ’tis day.

- John Newton

(HT: Ray Van Neste)

Thielman on Paul and the Law

If you're interested in the study of Paul and the law, you may be interested in this interview with Frank Thielman. (The interview is from a while back, but I just came across it.) In my opinion, his book Paul and the Law is the most helpful treatment of the subject to date. Also worth reading is his short but insightful and persuasive volume, The Law and the New Testament.

Practical Theology

If you're looking for careful, thoughtful, God-centered audio resources on practical theology, check out John Piper's practical theology courses at They are all available online for free:

  • Why We Believe the Bible
  • T.U.L.I.P.: The Pursuit of God's Glory in Salvation
  • Desiring God The Pursuit of Joy in Life and Ministry
  • Living by Faith in Future Grace: The Pursuit of Holiness in Life and Ministry
  • Suffering for the Sake of the Body
  • Prayer, Meditation and Fasting: The Pursuit of Communion with God
  • Gravity and Gladness on Sunday Morning: The Pursuit of God in Corporate Worship
  • Sexual Complementarity: The Pursuit of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
  • Biblical Eldership (for those aspiring or currently active as an elder)

Pastoral Theology

If you're looking for some practical resources on pastoral theology, the audio clips provided by Mark Dever at 9Marks are an incredible resource. Here's their description of The Essential Audio Tools for Your Ministry:

Ever wish you could call a seasoned pastor for some quick practical advice? Here’s an assortment of 5 minute audio clips of Mark Dever answering everyday pastoral questions, from studying for sermons to conducting weddings. They’re organized topically, so think of them like tools in a toolbox. Go ahead…rifle through – and feel free to take a few home for your own workshop. What’s ours is yours.

The topics and questions are as follows:


Question: What kind of books should a pastor buy first?

Question: Do you think personal Bible Study should be different from sermon prep?


Question: How do you decide what to preach on Next?

Question: How do you plan a sermon?


Question: How do you handle parents who want their children baptized?

Question: How do you disciple someone?

Question: How do you promote intergenerational fellowship?

Question: What makes you think that a whole-church Bible Study is such a good idea?

Question: How do you conduct baptisms?

Question: How do you administer church discipline?

Question: How do you use small groups in your church?

Question: How do you counsel women?

Question: How do you counsel engaged couples?

Question: How do you counsel the grieveing?

Question: Your church reads the church covenant aloud before taking communion. Why?

Question: How do you conduct business meetings?

Question: How do you develop a budget?

Question: How do you revise a constitution?

Question: How do you appoint new elders?

Question: How do you choose associate staff?

Question: How do you remove inactive members?


Question: How do you pray for other churches?

Question: How do you pray publicly?

Question: How do you seek to model prayer for members as their pastor?


Question: How do you plan a Sunday Morning Service?

Question: Why do you view weddings as worship gatherings?

Question: Give us a 60 second overview of what happens at a normal CHBC funeral.


Question: How do you handle baby dedications?

Question: What kind of questions do you ask in the membership interview?

Question: How do you care for home-bound seniors?

Question: How do you care for members out of the area?

Question: How do churches find good pastors?

Question: How do aspiring pastors find hopeful church situations?

Question: How can prospective pastors best use the time leading up to a new pastorate?

Question: How can prospective pastors think wisely about financial matters?

Question: What do you think are some important disclosures that a prospective pastor ought to make to the church he's candidating with?

Question: What are some ways pastoral candidates can shepherd congregations even before becoming their pastor?

Question: How can new pastors of smaller churches best use their time?

Question: What do you think about time off for the pastor?

The Mystery of the Incarnation

Augustine once preached on Christmas:

He, through whom time was made, was made in time;
and He, older by eternity that the world itself, was younger in age than many of His servants in the world;
He, who made man, was made man;
He was given existence by a mother whom He brought into existence;
He was carried in hands which He formed;
He nursed at breasts which He filled;
He cried like a babe in the manger in speechless infancy -- this Word without which human eloquence is speechless!

-- Augustine of Hippo, Sermon on Christmas

(HT: Albert Mohler)

Cooperation in the Church

A new 9Marks interview is now online:

Four veterans go a few rounds on the subject of cooperation among evangelicals & their churches. Listen to Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan and CJ Mahaney talk about where they can and cannot cooperate as church leaders. Mark writes, “This is one of my favorite conversations we've been able to record. We had already been together for several hours and the conversation just flowed."

You can listen online or purchase the audio here.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Grace Carol

Below is a new hymn written by Philip Ryken, senior minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Dr. Ryken has been posting a stanza each day at the Reformation 21 Blog:

Joseph, see the Holy Child,
Born to Mary, mother mild;
Call him Jesus, Adam's son --
Now in Christ our God has come;
Call him brother, close of kin --
Human nature, without sin.
Born to us, a fallen race,
God Incarnate, gift of grace.

Shepherds, run to Bethlehem,
Seek the babe outside the inn;
Shepherd in the manger lies,
Born to comfort all your sighs;
Unto you the Savior lives,
For the sheep His life He gives.
Born to save our sinful race,
Jesus leads us by His grace.

Eastern kings, your glory bring,
Royal treasure for the King;
King of all, the Son is giv'n,
Destined for the throne of heav'n;
Raised on high, the Christ will reign,
Conquer sin and death and pain.
Born to govern Adam's race,
Jesus rules, the King of grace!

Jesus--Brother, Shepherd, King,
Sinners, let your voices ring!
God made flesh, the Living Word,
King of Kings and Mighty Lord,
Faithful Shepherd, David's Son,
Christ, Messiah, Holy One--
Born to save His chosen race,
Jesus gives us grace on grace.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Osteens and the Airlines

The Associated Press reports that Joel Osteen's wife and children were recently asked to deboard an airplane after she caused a disturbance. According to the FBI: "She failed to comply with the flight attendant's instructions, and they were asked to leave the flight."

The spokesman for Lakewood Church said: "In semantics, they might have been asked to be removed. Really, it was more of a mutual thing."

When I saw the link on Challies' site, it reminded me of another connection between the Osteens and the airlines. In CT’s review of the “Smiling Pastor” they summarize his book Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living Your Full Potential. Amazingly enough Osteen cites his exasperating and annoying an airline employee as an example of the favor of God in his life:

One of the finest chapters shows how Christians should aim for excellence and integrity. The book undercuts the emphasis on integrity, however, by suggesting trivial examples of God's favor to the faithful: faster seating in restaurants, a last-second opening of an excellent parking space, being upgraded to first class without seeking it, and enjoying a personal exemption from an airline's baggage policy.

Osteen tells of not wanting to check an expensive television camera on a flight to India. The counter clerk insists that the airline’s policy strictly forbids him from it carrying on, and Osteen asks if he can talk to someone else. A pilot walks up and offers to stow the camera behind the cockpit.

“The woman behind the counter glared at me and shook her head, clearly aggravated,” Osteen writes. “I just smiled and said, ‘Sorry, ma’am; it’s the favor of God.” Or was it simply that an observant pilot intervened to prevent an unnecessary conflict (which some planning on Osteen’s part could have prevented) from escalating?

Christ the King

Here's a quote from Luther as we anticipate the celebration of the Savior at Christmas:

If you will have joy, bend yourself down to this place. There you will find that boy given for you who is your Creator lying in a manger. I will stay with that boy as he sucks, is washed, and dies.... There is no joy but in this boy. Take him away and you face the Majesty which terrifies...

I know of no God but this one in the manger...That person lying in the manger is both man and God essentially, not seperated one from the other but as born of a virgin. If you separate them, the joy is gone. O Thou boy, lying in the manger, thou art truly God who hast created me, and thou wilt not be wrathful with me because thou comest to me in this loving way- more loving cannot be imagined."

(HT: Cranach)

Along similar lines is H.R. Bramely's The Great God of Heaven:

The great God of Heaven is come down to earth,
His mother a virgin, and sinless His birth;
The Father eternal His Father alone:
He sleeps in the manger; He reigns on the throne.


Then let us adore Him, and praise His great love:
To save us poor sinners He came from above.

A Babe on the breast of a maiden He lies,
Yet sits with the Father on high in the skies;
Before Him their faces the seraphim hide,
While Joseph stands waiting, unscared, by His side.


Lo! here is Emmanuel, here is the Child,
The Son that was promised to Mary so mild;
Whose power and dominion shall ever increase,
The Prince that shall rule o’er a kingdom of peace.


The Wonderful Counselor, boundless in might,
The Father’s own image, the beam of His light;
Behold Him now wearing the likeness of man,
Weak, helpless, and speechless, in measure a span.


O wonder of wonders, which none can unfold:
The Ancient of Days is an hour or two old;
The Maker of all things is made of the earth,
Man is worshipped by angels, and God comes to birth:


The word in the bliss of the Godhead remains,
Yet in flesh comes to suffer the keenest of pains;
He is that He was, and forever shall be,
But becomes that He was not, for you and for me.

Warnock Interviews CJ

Adrian Warnock interviews Josh Harris about being discipled by CJ Mahaney.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ethics Symposium on Torture

In his essay for our ethics symposium on torture, Albert Mohler, noting that the McCain Amendment will not be opposed by the White House, writes:

Nevertheless, public debate over the amendment – and the issues of coercion and torture – will not end with the conclusion of this political drama, nor should it. This is a vital issue of great moral consequence, and this debate should not be allowed to slip from public view. All citizens bear responsibility to be informed and engaged concerning this question.

If you have not yet read the essays in the symposium, you may want to start with Dr. Mohler's, which he has reprinted today as his Crosswalk column. On his blog he provides an overview of the symposium, along with an indication that he'll be commenting on the other essays.

Also, Joe Carter has now made available all of the essays in a printable Word file.

Monday, December 19, 2005

CJ and the Cowboys

CJ Mahaney, working with his son-in-laws at the Married Life Blog, provides a pointed pastoral application on the topic of humility after the Cowboys were humiliated by the Redskins this weekend:

“There are rare occasions when this blog has a moral obligation to deviate from our normal purpose. This day would be one of those occasions.”...

“While avoiding the idol worship that is present in and around Washington D.C. today, we are none the less very, very happy. Because we hate the Cowboys. And you should to. Please don’t misunderstand. We don’t hate individuals. Just the organization.”...

“Any team that arrogantly appoints themselves as America’s Team should be despised by all those who love humility.”...

“See today as an opportunity to reach out to discouraged Cowboy fans in your midst. Here is an opportunity to comfort–not gloat. Unless of course they make an arrogant assertion about Cowboy supremacy. At that point we have an obligation to serve them by reminding them of each and every glorious moment of yesterday’s triumph. We do this because we care and desire to help them weaken their pronounced pride and cultivate humility so rare amongst Cowboy fans. Go forth today not simply ecstatic, but with a heart to serve, not simply ridicule, Cowboy fans wherever they may be."

Very few people know, however, that CJ--like a former fundamentalist rebelling against a legalistic upbringing--has a past relationship with the Cowboys that he is ashamed to admit. After some sleuthing, I was able to uncover this picture of CJ's pre-conversion glory days as a quarterback for the Cowboys.

(Mega HT to Marc Heinrich with the photo help!)

Don Whitney

Don Whitney announces on his website that he has colon cancer. Please be in prayer that God would grant Don a speedy recovery. You can check his site for updates.

The Truth About Torture?: A Christian Ethics Symposium

“Torture is not always impermissible,” argues Charles Krauthammer in “The Truth About Torture", his provocative essay in The Weekly Standard. “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.”

The “truth” about torture is an issue being widely addressed throughout the country, yet the Christian intellectual community has been relatively silent on this important issue. In order to help inform the Church and the wider culture on this issue and to help provide clarification on the principles involved in judging this practice, Joe Carter and I are hosting an online symposium in which we asked several leading Christian ethicists and opinion journalists to respond to Dr. Krauthammer’s article. Although not everyone we invited was able to contribute, we are fortunate to have received responses from Albert Mohler, Richard John Neuhaus, Darrell Cole, John Jefferson Davis, Daniel Heimbach, Mark Liderbach, and Robert Vischer.

We hope that these thought-provoking essays will generate even more reflection and critical analysis within the Christian blogosphere. If you post a comment or response on your blog, send Joe an email at which includes the name of your blog and the URL and we'll add it on the symposium’s main page.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Doug Wilson on Generous Orthodoxy

Doug Wilson continues his very long, chapter-by-chapter review of Generous Orthodoxy:

Nathan Wilson on Narnia

If you're not burnt-out yet on Narnia reviews, here is an especially good one by Nathan Wilson in Books & Culture:

My favorite line: "I love my mother, and I love Narnia. And if anyone chooses to show me an artistic rendition of either, they can expect criticisms."

"How Should We Then Live?" on DVD

Francis Schaeffer's series, How Should We Then Live? is now available for the first time on DVD. Here is a description:

This is Dr. Francis Schaeffer's spectacular series on the rise and decline of Western culture from a Christian perspective. This special edition includes an intimate in-depth interview with Francis and Edith Schaeffer, which is available only in this package. This program presents profound truths in simple language and concludes that man's only hope is a return to God's biblical absolute--the Truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures. Each episode focuses on a significant era of history while presenting answers to modern problems.

The series is divided into twelve thirty minute sections; The Roman Age, The Middle Ages, The Renaissance, The Reformation, The Revolutionary Age, The Scientific Age, The Age of Non-reason, The Age of Fragmentation, The Age of Personal Peace & Affluence, Final Choices, and the two-segment interview with Francis & Edith Schaeffer: Living with Suffering & Sickness, and God's Leading in L'Abri & Our Lives.

Interview with Vern Poythress

Marco Gonzalez of Reformation Theology interviews Professor Vern Poythress.

Good Summary of Our Global War on Terror

I think it's crucial that leaders be able to summarize complex missions in concise terms. In my view, the President admirably summed up his vision for the global war on terror:

"My conviction comes down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them. And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad . . . removing their safe havens . . . and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share."

The full speech is here.

Here's an interesting reaction from the New Republic's Jonathan Chait (who penned a famous essay on why he hates the President):

I am not, to say the least, a fan of President Bush. But a portion of his speech tonight genuinely moved me and made me think more highly of him. It was the part where he addressed opponents of the Iraq war, said he understand their passion but asked that they think of the stakes of defeat now that the war had happened and asked that they not give in to despair. I cannot remember this president ever speaking to his political opponents except to mischaracterize their views and use them as a straw man. (His post-Florida speech did to some extent, but it was so vague and struck me as so patently disingenuous that it didn't produce any similar reaction in me.)

This may be easy for me to say because I supported the war and oppose withdrawal. But even Bush's prior pro-war speeches mostly struck me as simplistic, ugly and demagogic, reminders that I supported the war despite the administration rather than because of it. But this moment in his speech tonight really struck me as some kind of symbolic or emotional break from the past for Bush--a genuine attempt to unify Americans rather than polarize them. Bush and his supporters (both inside and outside the administration) have made it so damn hard to support them on this war. It just got a little easier tonight. --Jonathan Chait

Quantifying Media Bias

A new UCLA-led study employed a fresh methodology to examine the issue of bias in the media. Nearly three years in the making, the team of researchers believe they have made the "the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly." The study involves comparing the political leanings of politicans with that of major media outlets. The results will be published in the December issue of The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Here are a couple of quotes from the studies' authors:

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

"Overall, the major media outlets are quite moderate compared to members of Congress, but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left," said co‑author Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri economist and public policy scholar.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sullivan on Iraq

A good word from Andrew Sullivan about the state of affairs in Iraq and the necessity of unity in the States:

I should add that pure domestic partisanship on this matter - and even recriminations and criticisms of the past - need to be abandoned in America right now. We are asking the various Iraqi factions to put the past behind them and work constructively for a better future. President Bush is the commander in chief for the next three years - the crucial years for Iraq - whether you like it or not. It is in all our interests - Democrat, Republican and Independent - that he succeed. Scoring points - as distinct from making clear and constructive criticism - is not what we need right now.

Just as the Sunnis are splitting into those who want a constructive future and those who want to fester in the bitterness and divisions of the past, so the Democrats need to distance themselves from the humiliate-Bush-at-any-price extremists who can shout the loudest. the Iraqi people deserve better than that from us. And we owe them our support.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Does the Date of Christmas Have Its Origin in Paganism?

I don't get too caught up in debates about whether the date of Christmas had its origin in a pagan holiday. But in case you're wondering, it's an urban legend.

Andrew Sullivan
peddled the myth today on his blog, chiding Bill O'Reilly for being upset on the "Merry Christmas bans." Sullivan writes:

The relationship of what we call Christmas to Christianity is a very mixed one. Jesus obviously wasn't born on December 25. That date was arrived at to coincide with the winter solstice. It was early Christianity's smart cooptation of pagan rituals that helped it succeed as a popular faith....

Those who are interested in the real story may be interested in reading historian William Tighe's Calculating Christmas, or Gene Veith's summary of Tighe's article, entitled Why December 25?

Here's a recap:

  • The Christians didn't borrow from a pagan festival. Rather, it was the other way around--the pagans imitated the Christians. Further, the ancient Roman cults didn't even have a winter solstice festival!
  • Here’s how it happened: (1) there was an ancient Jewish belief that the great prophets were to have an “integral age” (where you die on the same day as either your birth or your conception); (2) there arose a consensus that Christ was conceived on March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation, when the angel appeared to Mary); (3) therefore, it was figured that Christ was born 9 months later on December 25.

Tighe summarizes:

Thus, December 25th as the date of the Christ’s birth appears to owe nothing whatsoever to pagan influences upon the practice of the Church during or after Constantine’s time. It is wholly unlikely to have been the actual date of Christ’s birth, but it arose entirely from the efforts of early Latin Christians to determine the historical date of Christ’s death.

And the pagan feast which the Emperor Aurelian instituted on that date in the year 274 was not only an effort to use the winter solstice to make a political statement, but also almost certainly an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already of importance to Roman Christians.

I sent Andrew a note about it. We'll see if he retracts his statement tomorrow.

Election Day

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Iraqi Parliamentary Elections Coverage

From Omar of Iraq the Model is an English-speaking Iraqi dentist in Baghdad who has been blogging with his brother since the war began. He announces:

If everything goes as planned for tomorrow, Pajamas Media and ITM will be hosting extensive coverage of the parliamentary elections in Iraq. Eight correspondents based in eight different Iraqi provinces will be submitting several waves of election updates and photos exclusive to Pajamas Media. Mohammed and I will also be doing our usual reporting tomorrow and this large amount of reports will be cross-posted on ITM and Pajamas. The eight provinces are: Erbil, Kirkuk, Mosul, Babil, Najaf, Kerbala, Samawa, Basra as well as Baghdad of course. The correspondents' names will be hidden and only initials will be used for reasons concerning their personal safety. Journalists and reporters in Iraq had been targeted by the terrorists many times and we have granted our correspondents' requests to refer to them by initials only.

Tune in Thursday to Pajamas Media.

May God protect the Iraqi people during this historic day.

"Everything I Thought I Knew Was Wrong"

A very interesting blog post here from a journalist embedded in Iraq:

Think about everything you’ve heard about the conditions in Iraq, the role of U.S. forces, the multi-layered complexities of the war.

Then think again.

I’m a journalist. I read the news everyday, from several sources. I have the luxury of reading stuff newspapers don’t always have room to print. I read every tidbit I could on Iraq and the war before coming.

Everything I thought I knew was wrong.

Maybe not wrong, but certainly different than the picture in my head.

Read the whole thing.

Mark Dever Interview

Peter Hastie interviews Mark Dever on the church.

David Wells Interview

Todd Wilken interviews David Wells on Christianity and Postmodern Culture (part 1 [begins 28:13] and part 2).

(HT: Jeff Downs)

Grudem Interview Continued

Here is part 2.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sowin Reviews Rice

Joshua Sowin reviews Anne Rice's Christ the Lord.

Challies Interviews Grudem

Tim Challies interviews Wayne Grudem on the continuation of the charismatic gifts. Part 2 will be up tomorrow.

Doug Wilson on "Generous Orthodoxy"

In an earlier post I gave the impression that Doug Wilson had reviewed Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy in one post. It turns out that he is reviewing the book chapter by chapter. I rarely agree with all that Wilson says on a topic, but I invariably find it stimulating and helpful.

Here are his chapter reviews thus far:

The Media's War

Thomas Sowell: "Utter ignorance of history enables any war with any casualties to be depicted in the media as an unmitigated disaster."

Gibbs and Bolger

If you want to understand Gibbs and Bolger's book on emerging churches without reading the whole book, check out this interview where they channel Larry King.

(BTW, Bolger gets the prize for worst font color to use on a dark background, making it virtually impossible to read!)


If you're interested in some of my concerns about the TNIV, I have an article in the latest isuse of The Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (p. 10 of this PDF).

Movie Reviews

While the rest of the evangelical world was rushing to Narnia, Derek Thomas caught a showing of Pride and Prejudice and provides us with a review. (Upshot: "Go and see it!")

My wife and I went with another couple to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I found myself deeply wanting not to be disappointed, but I was. Phil Ryken expressed one of my disappointments:

The filmmakers are to be commended for producing a fairly realistic Aslan. However, the beast came well short of inspiring very much awe, or passionate affection. This is probably due to the inherent limitations of the medium, as Charles Colson pointed out last week. But the issue is really essential to the whole film, as it is to the book. The lion in the film seems almost tame, and I wonder how much we really care about him when he comes to die.

This is probably my central complaint. The anticipation for Aslan wasn't there for me. And then when he appeared, he just wasn't awe-inspiring. I think the choice of Liam Neeson was a mistake. Was James Earl Jones not available?

I was also disappointed that the line about Aslan not being a tame lion was watered down and shifted to the end. But perhaps it simply didn't work to have that line delivered before we actually saw this version of Aslan, because, well, this version of Aslan was indeed fairly tame!

Another complaint--and I feel a bit superficial about saying this one--is that the special effects were clearly inferior to what I expected. The Lord of the Rings set the bar incredibly high. I'm sure LWW would seem much more impressive if LOR has not come out first. As it is, a number of the elements came off as borderline hoaky.

On the positive side: I thought the pre-Narnia sequences were very effective and realistic. The parts of Lucy and the White Witch were portrayed convincingly. And I'm glad they kept the Professor chiding the children for not believing Lucy, since after all, she is neither a liar or a lunatic (which has hints of Lewis's famous trilemma about Christ--he's either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord).

My hope is that with this film the director and his team have found their feet, and that The Magician's Nephew will be significantly better.

Paul Helm's Prescription for the Postmodern Christmas Blues

Paul Helm, Emeritus Professor at the University of London, notes:

...the unalloyed joy and worship at Christmas, prompted by reflection on the significance of this momentous event, is in danger of being spoilt by the occurrence of an affliction of the mind that we shall call postmodern dyspepsia. If this is not checked, it can threaten the feast. Instead of our hearts burning as we remember the Incarnation in the way that the Emmaus disciples’ hearts did as they realised that Jesus had been raised, postmodernism can give us heartburn of a different kind. Intellectual flatulence, loss of appetite, nausea, dizziness. Ulcers, even.

In its place he prescriptions some mental disciplines for us to cultivate:

So here is offered - as a pre-advent cordial, a prescription to ward off the nausea and heartburn of such post-modern insinuation - four mental disciplines which we can practice before the 25th in an effort to tone up our minds and spirits. In a sense, to reduce PM tension, and to enable us to celebrate Christmas with appropriate joy and thanksgiving.

This is a delightful, thoughtful essay. If you don't have any familiarity with philosophy, some of it might be tough sledding. But we should always be reading things that stretch us, that aren't accessible on a quick skim, and that slow us down and make us think. Professor Helm's sagacious counsel is in that category.

Here are his four prescriptions for the pomo blues:

  1. Cultivate the thought that "We've been here before: this is nothing new: this is déja vu all over again!"

  2. Remember that our fallibility comes in degrees. The mere recognition of fallibility does not entail scepticism.

  3. Ask, Am I not more justified in confessing the Incarnation than in adopting some epistemological theory that claims that I am not justified?
  4. By using appropriate methods, do what you can to cultivate objectivity and to diminish your prejudices.

You Might Be a Calvinist If...

Marc Heinrich suggests 25 reasons you might be obsessing about Calvinism.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Polling the Iraqis

Here's a helpful poll to guage what Iraqis think about security, safety, the occupation, etc.

Stott on Preaching

Josh Harris provides an outline of John Stott's preaching methodology, taken from Stott's Between Two Worlds. (Great title for a book, eh?)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Baathists Urge Sunnies to Vote, Warn Al-Qaeda

Some encouraging news from Iraq (via The Corner):
ALLUJA/RAMADI Iraq (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein loyalists who violently opposed January elections have made an about-face as Thursday's polls near, urging fellow Sunni Arabs to vote and warning al Qaeda militants not to attack.

In a move unthinkable in the bloody run-up to the last election, guerrillas in the western insurgent heartland of Anbar province say they are even prepared to protect voting stations from fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Graffiti calling for holy war is now hard to find.

Instead, election campaign posters dominate buildings in the rebel strongholds of Ramadi and nearby Falluja, where Sunnis staged a boycott or were too scared to vote last time around.

"We want to see a nationalist government that will have a balance of interests. So our Sunni brothers will be safe when they vote," said Falluja resident Ali Mahmoud, a former army officer and rocket specialist under Saddam's Baath party.

"Sunnis should vote to make political gains. We have sent leaflets telling al Qaeda that they will face us if they attack voters."

More Mirecki

For those interested in following the strange case of (now resigned fired) Professor Mirecki (allegedly beat up on the side of a road by pro-inteligent design fundamentalists), see here and here. You can see a picture of his injuries here.

Update: Ardel Caneday explains why he too thinks Mirecki has pulled off a hoax.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Groothuis on Straw Men Attacks on I.D.

Douglas Groothuis, writing in the Rocky Mountain News, suggests that "A number of logical fallacies are routinely employed in efforts to debunk intelligent design. In such cases, intelligent design is criticized and dismissed on the basis of an argument that is illogical and therefore false. One need not be an expert in Darwinian biology to sniff out these basic blunders. In this brief space I will note just one: the straw man argument." The article is winsome and well-done. Read the whole thing.

Time Mag on Churches Closed on Christmas

Time Magazine weighs in on the controversy. They even link to Ben Witherington's post, but call it "unseasonably vitriolic."

All in all, it's a pretty fair article--quoting from both sides. The reporter seems genuinely surprised at the diversity of opinion within evangelicalism.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Torture Debate

The editors at National Review weigh in on the issue of torture.

New Reviews

Over at the Reformation 21 e-zine, Greg Wilbur--Director of King's Meadow Study Center & Coordinator of Fine Arts at Christ Community Church--reviews the Narnia movie.

Also don't miss Derek Thomas' review of Anne Rice's new novel on the childhood of Christ. It's very interesting to learn that Rice--once the queen of the vampire novels--has been reading Don Carson, Craig Blomberg, and Leon Morris. She gives greatest credit, though, to N.T. Wright.

Narnia Tip

From Challies: "PS - Don't leave until the lights come on. You'll want to stick around for a short while because there is an important scene halfway through the credits."

"Into the Wonder"

Wheaton English Professor Alan Jacobs pens a delightful essay--adapted from his new book--on C.S. Lewis and his world of imagination.

Here are a few quotes from the article:

I want to suggest that Lewis's willingness to be enchanted held together the various strands of his life: his delight in laughter, his willingness to accept a world made by a good and loving God, and his willingness to submit to the charms of a wonderful story. What is "secretly present in what he said about anything" is an openness to delight, to the sense that there's more to the world than meets the jaundiced eye, to the possibility that anything could happen to someone who's ready to meet anything.

For someone with eyes to see and the courage to explore, even an old wardrobe full of musty coats could become the doorway to another world.

* * *

What made him write this way, and why it is such a good thing that he did—these are hard topics to talk about without seeming sentimental. Yet they are necessary topics. In most children, but in relatively few adults, we see a willingness to be delighted to the point of self-abandonment. This free and full gift of oneself to a story is what produces the state of enchantment. Why do we lose the ability to give ourselves in this way? Perhaps adolescence introduces the fear of being deceived, the fear of being caught believing in what others have ceased to believe. To be naive, to be gullible—these are the great humiliations of adolescence.

Lewis never seems to have been fully possessed by this fear, though he felt it at times. "When I was 10, I read fairy stories in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am 50, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."

* * *

Surely Lewis would have said that when we can no longer be "wide open to the glory," we have lost not just our childlikeness, but also something near the core of our humanity. Those who will never be fooled can never be delighted, because without self-forgetfulness there can be no delight, and this is a great and grievous loss.

Often, when we talk about receptiveness to stories, we contrast an imaginative mindset to one governed by reason. We talk about freeing ourselves from the shackles of the rational mind. But no belief was more central to Lewis than the conviction that it is eminently and fully rational to be responsive to the enchanting power of stories. Lewis passionately believed that education is not about providing information so much as it is about cultivating habits of the heart—producing "men with chests," as he puts it, people who not only think as they should, but also respond as they should, instinctively and emotionally, to the challenges and blessings the world offers them.

* * *

He was not one for whom scholarship was an end in itself. At the heart of his impulse to write—even to write scholarly works of literary criticism—was his warm and passionate response to literature as an "imaginative man."

Seven Habits of Successful Emerging Discussions

Scot McKnight writes a helpful post on Seven Habits of Successful Emerging Discussions.

I've tried to follow these when composing my series on the movement. By the way, I didn't forget about my series. I'll get back to it when I can.

Waldron Take Two

Tim Challies posts part 2 of his interview with Sam Waldron.

I'll link to the Grudem interviews when they are available.

Wright and the NPP in the WSJ

John Wilson, editor of Books & Culture, explains N.T. Wright and the New Perspective in this morning's Wall Street Journal.

Hugh in Two

Hugh Hewitt turns in the shortest review yet of the Narnia film:

"Wonderful. True."

Adrian Warnock: "I Am a Cessationist"

After just one email from yours truly, charismatic UK blogger extraordinare Adrian Warnock confesses: "...I am a cessationist."

(You may want to read the whole post for the context.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Guide to the Constitution

If you're looking for a reliable and handy guide to the Constitution, this new book by the Heritage Foundation sounds helpful.

Cessationism vs. Continuationism @

Tim Challies is posting interviews he conducted with Sam Waldron (a cessationist, meaning he believes the extraordinary miraculous gifts of the Spirit have ceased) and Wayne Grudem (a charismatic or continuationist, meaning he believes these gifts have not ceased).

The first interview with Dr. Waldron is now up.

"McLaren the Censorious"

Doug Wilson reviews Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy.

The Torture Debate

Andrew Sullivan responds to Charles Krauthammer on torture. (Registration required.)

Jonah Goldberg has posted a response to Sullivan and reprinted a note from a reader.

By the end of next week I'll announce an initiative I'm working on that will address this issue from a Christian worldview.

Colson on the Narnia Movie

Chuck Colson provides a very helpful and balanced review of the new Narnia film.

Inerrancy and Humility

Joe Carter has a helpful post this morning on the doctrine of inerrancy, which he believes (rightly, I'd say) is both true and the humblest position for a believer to take.

Modern-Day Slavery

Al Mohler seeks to raise awareness about modern-day slavery, and asks: "As for the church, where is the spirit of William Wilberforce for this generation?"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tall Tales

Did you hear about what happened to Paul Mirecki? He's a professor in the University of Kansas Department of Religious Studies who has been critical of intelligent design. According to Dr. Mirecki, he was beat up on the side of the road by a couple of fundamentalists who were out for blood in revenge for his criticism of ID.

I'm virtually certain he made the whole thing up. Sean Gleeson points out some of the obvious inconsistencies in the story. I'm sure commenters on this blog will be able to spot even more telltale signs of a tall tale.

The plausibility of such stories depends largely upon one's expectations. If you think that most evangelicals are rednecks who will resort to violence at the drop of a hat, then the story may strike you as plausible. (I say "may" because Mirecki has concocted a really lame story.)

Analogous things have happened at evangelical seminaries. For example, last year at Bethel College in St. Paul, MN, a student reported that someone had spray-painted racial hate messages on his pickup. And at Trinity in Deerfield, students began receiving emails filled with racial hatred and threats against blacks. It turned out that both situations were hoaxes. (In the case of the former, the person spray-painted it on his own truck. In the case of the latter, it was an African American student who wanted to leave Trinity.) If one is convinced, however, that there is racial animosity always brewing beneath the surface at evangelical institutions, then one will often accept the initial version of such stories without an appropriate amount of skepticism.

[I fixed the link. Sorry about that.]

Football Pranks, Ivy-League Style

The Jollyblogger spots a jolly good prank.

Humble Orthodoxy + Save the Wheel

Josh Harris and the New Attitude folks are rolling out a new campaign. I love their themes: Humble Orthodoxy and Save the Wheel.

Sorry, We're Closed

Ben Witherington has an appropriate rebuke to the seeker megachurches who have decided to close their doors this year on Christmas Sunday. I really don’t get the megaseeker rationale, however. I thought that Christmas was one of the few days when unbelievers wanted to go to church. Count me confused.

Scot McKnight
, on the other hand, examines the NT evidence and thinks the Christian blogosphere is overreacting on this one.

I think McKnight makes several points worthy of consideration. (I'm a non-sabbatarian, by the way.) But the question for me remains why the megachurches want to cancel the services.

McKnight mentions some possible reasons for the cancelation, like not being able to accomodate that many people and the exhaustion, burn-out factor from hosting that many people. But Willow Creek, in the Chicago Tribune, offers some different reasons. For example, one of the things they mentioned is that the last time they had service on Christmas, only1500 people showed up. Willow Creek isn't saying that they can't accomodate the crowd, but rather that being home on Christmas morning with your family is more honoring to Christ than attending a worship service:

"At first glance it does sound contrarian," said Rev. Gene Appel, senior pastor of Willow Creek. "We don't see it as not having church on Christmas. We see it as decentralizing the church on Christmas--hundreds of thousands of experiences going on around Christmas trees. The best way to honor the birth of Jesus is for families to have a more personal experience on that day."

I find this a tad confusing coming from a seeker church, for it sounds like the primary audience is Christians who already celebrate Christmas.

Here's another one of their reasons:

The resources that would have funded the church's Sunday service this year will go toward the DVD instead, potentially touching thousands more people than the same message from the stage on Sunday morning, Parkinson said.

"[The Christmas season] is our Super Bowl," she said. "Remembering our mission is to reach people who are far from God, and Christmas tends to be the one time of year when lots of those `unchurched' people show up at Willow; why not give them a gift?"

The argument seems to be something like: (1) Lots of non-Christians show up on Christmas; (2) it's more effective to reach them with a DVD than with a live preaching of the gospel; (3) therefore, it's more strategic to cancel the worship service.

Combining the two quotes makes for an interesting perspective: it's more honoring to Christ for Christians to gather as individual families rather than as a church, and it's a more effective strategy for the gospel to distribute DVDs than to gather for a personal preaching of the gospel.

In sum: I think that McKnight has the a better Scriptural case than Worthington. And I appreciate McKnight's call for a bit more charity and irenicism. But I still think it's legitimate to question the rationale and motivation for this move.

Free Advice

Jonah Goldberg offers some excellent Free Advice to Liberals. If liberals listened to this, I do think it’d make for a better country and more productive political debate.

"Why, When, and For What Should We Draw New Boundaries?"

An essay that I believe deserves greater attention these days is Wayne Grudem's "Why, When, and For What Should We Draw New Boundaries?" (published in Beyond the Bounds, ed. Piper, Helseth, and Taylor).

In this essay, Dr. Grudem boundaries four questions with regard to Christian organizations and the construction of new boundaries:

A. Why should Christian organizations draw boundaries at all?
B. Why should Christian organizations draw new boundaries?
C. When should Christian organizations draw new boundaries?
D. For what doctrinal and ethical matters should Christian organizations draw new boundaries?

I've outlined his essay below, and encourage you to check it out if you're interested in seeing the biblical support for each of these points.

A. Why should Christian organizations draw boundaries at all?
  1. False Teaching Harms the Church
  2. If False Teaching Is Not Stopped, It Spreads and Does More and More Damage
  3. If False Teaching Is Not Stopped, We Will Waste Time and Energy in Endless Controversies Rather Than Doing Valuable Kingdom Work
  4. Jesus and the New Testament Authors Hold Church Leaders Responsible for Silencing False Teaching within the Church

B. Why should Christian organizations draw new boundaries?

  1. False Teaching Changes, So Old Boundaries Do Not Protect Against New Problems
  2. Why Does God in His Sovereignty Allow These Various False Teachings to Come into the Church in Different Ages?
a. The Purification of the Church
b. Testing the Faithfulness of God’s People
c. Testing Our Attitude Toward False Teachers

C. When should Christian organizations draw new boundaries?

  1. After a False Teaching Has Become a Significant Problem
  2. Before the False Teaching Does Great Harm, and Before It Has a Large Following Entrenched in the Organization
  3. But Who Has the Authority to Make These Changes?

D. For what doctrinal and ethical matters should Christian organizations draw new boundaries?

  1. Certainty: How Sure Are We That the Teaching Is Wrong?
  2. Effect on Other Doctrines: Will this teaching likely lead to significant erosion in other doctrines?
  3. Effect on Personal and Church Life: Will this false teaching bring significant harm to people’s Christian lives, or to the work of the church?
  4. Historical Precedent: Is this teaching contrary to what the vast majority of the Bible-believing church has held throughout history?
  5. Perception of Importance among God’s People: Is there increasing consensus among the leaders and members that this matter is important enough that the false teaching should be explicitly denied in a doctrinal statement?
  6. Purposes of the Organization: Is the teaching a significant threat to the nature and purposes of the organization?
  7. Motivations of Advocates: Does it seem that the advocates of this teaching hold it because of a fundamental refusal to be subject to the authority of God’s Word, rather than because of sincerely-held differences of interpretation based on accepted hermeneutical standards?
  8. Methods of Advocates: Do the advocates of this teaching frequently manifest arrogance, deception, unrighteous anger, slander, and falsehood rather than humility, openness to correction and reason, kindness, and absolute truthfulness?
  9. Some Wrong Questions to Ask
  • “Are the advocates my friends?”
  • “Are they nice people?”
  • “Will we lose money or members if we exclude them?”
  • “Will the academic community criticize us as being too narrow-minded?”
  • “Will someone take us to court over this?”

E. Conclusion

We look back with admiration and thanksgiving on the heroes of the faith from previous generations. They defended the substitutionary atonement, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the Trinity, the inerrancy of Scripture, justification by faith alone, and other important doctrines. During and after the Reformation, some paid with their lives.

But we look back with disappointment and shame on those who failed to take a clear stand, for example, against racism and slavery in our country.

Now God has entrusted us with a stewardship in this generation. Many of us have positions of leadership and influence in our churches and in the evangelical world. Now the choice of whether to do something or nothing about false doctrine is up to us.

Isaiah 56:10 talks about a tragic situation. Israel is about to be destroyed and her watchdogs cannot bark: "His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber" (Isa. 56:10).

Will we be like this? We will be blind, silent watchdogs?

Or will we earnestly “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)? Will we do so with gentleness, with wisdom, and with sorrow if we need to part with friends? Will we also do so with courage to do what is right and what is necessary in order to remain faithful to God and to his Word?

The Dark Night of Colson's Soul

In the latest issue of CT Chuck Colson explains: My Soul's Dark Night. The subtitle: "The best of evangelicalism didn't prepare me for this struggle."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Dwight Schrute

Advent FAQ

Mark D. Roberts provides a helpful FAQ about Advent.

Kerry on the US Troops "Terrorizing" Iraqi Children and Women

If you're a Democrat, I'm sure you sometimes wish that they didn't allow John Kerry near the microphone:

BOB SCHIEFFER: "Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, he takes a very different view, Senator Kerry. He says basically that we should stay the course, because he says real progress is being made. He says, 'This is a war between 27 million Iraqis who want freedom and 10,000 terrorists.' He says we're in a watershed transformation. What about that?"

JOHN KERRY: I don't agree with that. But I think what we need to do is recognize what we all agree on, which is, you've got to begin to set benchmarks for accomplishment; you've got to begin to transfer authority to the Iraqis, and there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the -- of -- of -- of -- historical customs, religious customs, whether you like it or not. Iraqis should be doing that."

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman said: "Just this past weekend on Sunday, John Kerry talked about American troops engaged in terroristic and other activity, terrorizing kids and children."

In response, Kerry spokesman David Wade called Mehlman a "political hack" and Rush Limbaugh--who played clips of Kerry's comments--a draft-dodging donut-eater!

Seems to me that (1) being a draft-dodging donut-eater and (2) faithfully reporting that Kerry said that the US troops were involved in terroristic activity are not mutually exclusive activities!

Married Life Blog

The folks at Covenant Life Church have started a new blog for married couples:

For example, check out their romance category.

And here's their vision for the blog:

We hope that through this blog you will encounter a wealth of theologically informed, practical ideas designed to make an immediate difference, ultimately an eternal difference, in your marriage and family. Read more...

Veith on Narnia

Ligon Duncan and Derek Thomas conduct an audio interview with Gene Veith about his new book The Soul of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Political Prediction

And now, for my continuing series of occasional political predictions:

Hillary Clinton will never be president of the United States.

(My liberal readers will be glad to see my exercise of self-restraint in not including the word "again" at the end of that sentence!)

A few reasons:

  • She would unify and rally the conservative base of the Republican party (in opposition) like few other people can.
  • She is neither warm nor interesting. Think "Bill Clinton" without the charisma or charm.
  • The crowd despises her hawkishness.

Beltway Buzz

Here's the latest in the rumor mill, from CBS' Bob Schieffer:

Last night--over this weekend, I had four different people tell me that the White House is thinking if the secretary of Defense goes over the next year--and a lot of people think that he will, that the president is thinking of nominating Joe Lieberman to be secretary of Defense.

(HT: Daily Kos)

Monday, December 05, 2005

"Want to send your support to a Soldier in harm's way, but have no idea of what to send, who to send it to, or how to send it?" can help. I think this would be a great thing for churches and families to do this Christmas season.

(HT: Hugh Hewitt)

Down Goes Roker!

Too bad Al Roker lost all that weight. Things like this wouldn't happen to him.

(HT: Layne Henn)

Dean's Defeatism

Not too long ago folks were saying that the two major US political parties were so similar that it didn't matter if you voted Democrat or Republican. But at least now there's clarity in the differences. Here is Howard Dean on the prospects for a US victory in Iraq:

Saying the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years.

Promotions in Sermons

Phil Ryken at the Reformation 21 blog writes:

Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Walt Disney Pictures is offering a free trip to London and a thousand dollars in cash to the winner of its promotional sermon contest. To qualify, a sermon has to mention Disney's new Narnia film. So welcome to a new medium of marketing: the sermo-mercial. It would seem that something more than Aslan is on the move. I wonder: Would mentioning the film while decrying the absurdity of the promotion qualify one's sermon for the contest?

Breaking News

I am so thankful to live in a country where major research institutions are able to do cutting-edge research, and the major newspapers like the L.A. Times can get this crucial information to the masses.

For three weeks, researchers at Cornell University and the University of Illinois-Champaign gave 40 women several dozen chocolate Hershey Kisses in clear or opaque candy jars either on their desks or six feet away. They refilled the candy jars each day and tracked how much the women ate.

They found that women ate nearly twice as many Hershey Kisses when the candy was in clear containers on their office desks (7.7 pieces per day) than when the candy was in opaque jars (4.6 pieces per day).

Distance also played a role. On average, women ate 5.6 Kisses a day when the candy was visible in clear containers placed six feet away from their desks compared with 3.1 chocolates a day when the candy was in a non-translucent jar.

(HT: Hugh Hewitt)