June 28, 2005

If this game wans't out of print and apparently going for hundreds of dolars it would be useful for liturgical sorts, or non-liturgical sorts who want to be informed.

Maybe it will be at Origins

Sherds has been reading Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth too. A blogger named Miscreant makes comments on Pearcy's Schaeffer inspired crituqie of Aquinas, and finds it (somewhat) wanting.

June 27, 2005

I. The distance between God and the creature is go great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which He has been pleased to express by way of relationship.

II. The first relationship made with man was a relationship of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.

III. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that relationship, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the relationship of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

IV. This relationship of grace is frequently set forth in scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.

V. This relationship was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the Old Testament.[12]

VI. Under the Gospel, when Christ, the substance, was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper: which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles;[16] and is called the New Testament. There are not therefore two relationships of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.

If the relationship between the Father and Son that includes us in John 17 isn't covenantal, what is it?

It isn't ontological is it?

I'm amazed that Jordan called it covenantal 20 years ago and its only in the last 4 years this has become controversial. Jordan's book on Exodus has been accused of many things, but not errant trinitarianism
By the time I wrote The Law of the Covenant (1984) I was working with a simple, trinitarian description of the covenant. The covenant, I held, is a "personal, structural bond." Every covenant is a relationship between persons, and this focuses on the Father. It is also structural, establishing who does what and who reports to whom. This "law-aspect" focuses on the Son (the Word of God). Finally, a covenant is a bond, a mysterious connection between people, and this focuses on the Spirit.

Marriage, for instance, is a covenant. It involves persons, duties (structure), and a bond that is not to be violated ( Malachi 2:14).

Beyond this, I taught and wrote that human beings can never be covenantally neutral before God. Some would say that human beings are, by nature, outside of any covenant with God. Then God enters into covenants or contracts with people, such as the covenant of works or the covenant of grace, or the various specific covenants in the Bible history. I maintained that this conception does not go far enough. Human beings, the images of God, are by nature covenantally related to God.

Some would say that human beings are always in covenant with God, but which covenant they are in varies from time to time. We can never be outside of a covenant, but there are various covenants. This notion I also rejected. There is but One Covenant, which is the intra-trinitarian life of God. Human beings were created already woven into that life as "junior partners." Human beings would mature in the covenant from being apprentices to being journeymen, but God would always be the Master.

Sandra Day O'Connor writes
The well-known statement that '[w]e are a religious people' has proved true. Americans attend their places of worship more often than do citizens of other developed nations, and describe religion as playing an especially important role in their lives. Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?
So O'Connor decided that banning the 10 Commandments in courthouses would preserve the system that has led to great success for religion. Does that sound like neutrality with regard to religion? I mean, she thinks her decision will keep religion strong.

Suddenly, we're buying lots of electronics. ('Lots,' in this case, means two or three items)

Our four-year-old Panasonic VCR was playing back with too much noise, which wasn't fixed by running a cleaning tape through it. Rather than investigate further, we decided to ditch it and get a new one. VCR-only devices are rather limited in their selection, and none were as nice as the old Panasonic (I really liked the front panel controls)

Several months ago we replaced our five disc DVD/CD player with a cheaper one-disc DVD/CD player. The five-disk "Carousal" [sic] unit was skipping and bothcing up every DVD we played. Even though the new one was still fine, We decided to pay $50 more for a combiend DVD/VHS player (a Sony). It seems pretty nice, and the DVD part has a few more features than the stripped down DVD player it replaces. And now it opens up more space in the console for tape storage. We'll keep the old DVD player if we ever get a second TV or something.

We're also in the market for an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier (fax not necessary). We're leaning toward a Canon, as they seem to get the "Editor's Pick" from various PC magazines. the MP390 is cheap, but the MP750 does duplexing and has no fax (so what). The copier will be the main task for homeschool purposes.

I'd like to find myself a good cheap 3d card for my PC, primarily to play Half Life 2. I tried the demo and it should work 'ok' on my system, but its clearly time for some kind of upgrade in graphics, and it seems like some of the cards a few generations better than my GeForce Ti3 are reasonable in price ($100).

No Ipods on the horizon, though I wonder if other MP3 players have hit the reasonable stage yet?

Does anyone make High Definition 29" tube TVs? Or are they all flat panel 40" monstrosities? A friend of mine was telling me these plasma TVs burn out in about 5-8 years, so I'm dubious of ever bothering with one.

Good quotes on baptism. I'm actually somewhat suprised that in the controversey over baptismal assurance noone has mentioned that Luther's full quote was
I am baptized, and believe in Christ crucified.
. Well we can't research everything I guess

June 24, 2005

Peter Leithart says of the baptized who apostasize
God did make promises to them, but they never believed the promises they were given.
Good. I always knew he did.

Alan Strange is no stranger to the view that Baptism communicates the gospel
God communicates his love to us through the means of grace (the Word, the sacraments, and prayer) - especially, as I argued in the May 2000 issue of New Horizons, in the preaching of the Word. While preaching may be primary among the means of grace, the Holy Spirit (who makes effectual the means of grace) also uses the sacraments (holy baptism and holy communion, or the Lord's Supper) to convey the love and grace of God to us. As with preaching, the content of baptism and the Lord's Supper is the gospel - the blessings and benefits that are ours because of the person and work of Christ. Precisely the same thing, then, is communicated to us in the sacraments as in the preaching of the gospel.

When Pipa claims that God is in "legal" covenant with the non-elect visible church, but not vital, is that analogizable to a man who is legally married to a woman, but does not love her (because she is unfaithful), yet he faithfully fulfils all the 'duties' of a husband
  1. he provides her with food and clothing
  2. he eats with his wife
  3. he engages in sexual intercourse
  4. he provides offspring to the union
  5. he dies for her to save her life from a rampaging animal
A man could not really perform all of the duties of marriage save loving his wife, could he.

If the man is actually fulfiling all of the duties of the marriage, what actually distinguishes his marriage from another one where there is love? What makes a loving marriage 'vital' in disticntion from one where merely all the legal obligations of a marriage are being met?

Should we claim that one or another of the legal obligations of a marriage are actually not being met? Then in what sense is a non-elect covenant member 'legally' in the covenant if all obligations are not met?

The Problematizing of all Distinctions

Duns Scotus didn't believe that sacraments were efficiacious in themselves. He believed that God was the actual efficiacious cause of everything. So sacraments were 'moral occasions' of grace, not efficacious or instrumental causes. Sacraments then are ordinances that God has bound himself, by a covenant, to give grace along side of. And his promises are firm, so whenever the sacraments are performed, 'like a machine', grace results, but not from the sacrament, but from the God who provides the grace.

So the Reformed reject that. The idea that God binds himself to always give grace with the sacraments 'like a machine' is impersonal and mechanistic, and that seems wrong when we're talking about God.

But its also because we reject the idea that grace can come 'like a machine' to everyone who receives the sacrament, because just because you particiapate doesn't mean you are an elect and therefore intended recipient of grace.

When we use the Covenant idea though, is it possible we are arguing that God has bound himself to give grace to the elect? If so, how do we distinguish the critiqe of 'ex opere operato' with respect to sacraments in Scotus, from our view that God has contractually obligated himself to give grace in the covenant to the elect?

Well, we don't like the idea that someone is 'contractually obligated' to perform something in distinction from the idea that they perform it from free love for someone. But why do we make that such a hard and fast distinction? Is not a marriage from free love and 'contractual obligation'? We might say a contract is 'impersonal' but are not contracts the creation of human intelligence, and reflective of human personality? Are contracts not words given by one person to another, as personal as any words of a person are? Don't we get alot of milage out of the idea that God's promises to us are reflective of his charcater as a loving and caring God?

But then the results of such a contractual obligation view seem to give 'mechanical' results. A contract specifies a condition, and if the condition is met, then the consequence must follow. As in a machine or computer program: a condition is met, the consequence always follows.

But are not machines and computer programs the expression of human intelligence and design? Do we not design machines and programs to meet human personal needs? A machine grants 'infallible assurance' that the results of the workings of the machine will be consisnet and expected. Is God the god of confusion?

We confess that natural process are all the result of the promises of a loving God. That 'day and night shall not cease' is an expression of a gracious God, even though the rotation of the earth is a mechanical process.

So what of the distinction between freedom and obligation?

June 23, 2005

While I hope Bush takes whatever measures to oppose the recent Supreme Court ruling stating that private property can be taken from citizen A (who is compensated) and given to citizen B by local government, if they deem this to be a 'public use', I figure he's going to be hindered in this by the fact that he did just that with the Ranger's stadium.

When Jesus writes the letters to the seven churches in Asia minor, how come he doesn't say "I know your works, that they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of my judgment, so therefore repent and trust my merits"

Instead he says
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works

"For justification, it is required that one exercise faith in the Messiah.
To maintain justification, it is required to maintain faith in the Messiah"

Is this a heresy, or a true and obvious point?

Can someone who never accomplishes any 'new obedience' be regarded as maintaining faith?

June 20, 2005

I try to compile a list of Games for Homeschoolers.

Discussion ensues.

Academic Gaming Review publishes rules for some strategy games on historical subjects.

June 17, 2005

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall anywhere in Wright were he says that the Jews seeing themselves as still in exile were feeling psychologically burdened by corporate guilt.

Is not Wright saying that the pious pharisees saw themselves as an elite vanguard of piosity that would be surely vindicated when the political exile finally ended, since they were pious in comparison to all the other jews.

So no, the attraction of judaizers to the Galatians was not that you would get to join a group of losers who felt they were still exiled for their sins, but that you would get to join the super christains who were still keeping kosher because they didn't actually believe (with good reason) the 'return from exile' was definitvely accomplished in Christ.

June 16, 2005

My proverb for today was
When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
I really wanted to just write "well, what can I say?" and leave it at that.

My wife would not approve of this kind of fun at museums

June 15, 2005

Once there was a Scottish Presbyterian minister who lacked assurance in his salvation. He tried reading all the standard works, but they left him cold. He knew that his sins were manifold, and seemed much more powerful than anyone who was delivered from sin would expect to encounter. The more he prayed about it the more it seemed his sins grew.

One day he picked up the writings of John Wesley which a friend had left him. He began reading and was transformed. It seemed he was merely a carnal Christian, and had not yet found that second work of grace that would truly deliver him from sin so that he could follow God completely. He was later struck with the knowledge that this approach to spirituality was barred to him in his Presbyterian upbringing and context, which worried him. How would he incorporate these insights into his preaching and not get defrocked.

He decided to keep his views a secret and began living a double life. He founded a secret church out in a nearby moor, where he found a semi-circular depression that was the remains of an old Roman theatre. He disguised himself with a fake beard and a putty nose to evangelize among the poor of the village and to invite them to meet at his secret church in the moors. At first few heeded, but within months, his outdoor meetings were growing larger an larger, until they exceeded that of his Presbyterian church. When he first noticed some of his parishioners attending the meetings he became worried of being found out, so he kept the disguise up.

His demeanor had completely been transformed by this point. Standing in the old semi-circular roman theatre, preaching explicitly the pure Wesleyan holiness doctrine that he still warned his old church about gave him immense feelings of spiritual blessedness and vigor.

You could even say he was getting high in his crypto-meth amphitheatre.

June 14, 2005

Sure, sounds fine to say it now, but I had this idea

There is an 'epidemic' of obesity in this country. Smoking, though is on a downward trend, no?

Maybe the people who would have otherwise remained thin via smoking have given it up and have taken up other oral pleasures.

Do obesity demographics control for smoking?

June 13, 2005

This list of kittens that have lost a web based vote to choose the cuter of two kittens is scary-funny.

Those are some ugly cats.

June 12, 2005

I've been asked (along with Joel Garver) by Marion Clark to provide a weeks worth of the devotionals on Proverbs at A Proverb a Day. I'm deeply honored.

My first selection is Proverbs 10:16
The wage of the righteous is surely life
The earnings of the wicked are surely sin and death
(translation from Bruce Waltke's commentary). Not entirely sure what I'll say about it so check back at A Proverb a Day tomorrow.

June 10, 2005

Christ has all the treasures of wealth, right? [right!]

If Jesus appeared to me an handed me $100 he would be applying to me a benefit of the new covenant. I would receive it with my arm.

If I needed $100 and I prayed in faith "Jesus, I need $100 and I believe you can give it to me" and then the deacons handed me $100 he would be applying to me a benefit of the new covenant. I would be receiving it by faith.

If I needed $100 and I prayed in faith "Jesus, I need $100 and I believe you can give it to me" and then i found a $100 bill on the sidewalk he would be applying to me a benefit of the new covenant. I would be receiving it by faith.

If I needed Jesus and I prayed and he appeared to me and told me what would take place in Jerusalem when I went there he would be blessing me with his presence. I would receive him by faith.

If I needed Jesus and I went to church and listened to the bible and heard his words to me I would be blessed by his words. I would receive them by faith.

If I needed Jesus and I went to church and participated in communion I would by sensible signs have Christ represented sealed and applied to me. I would receive him by faith.

From the ERPC Distinctives
The Doctrinal Standards of the Evangelical Reformed Presbyterian Church, consisting of the American version of the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism and the Shorter Catechism, subordinate to the Holy Scriptures, as adopted by the first American Presbyterian Assembly of 1789, including their proof texts;[1]

[1] With the following deletions from the Confession: (1) the prohibitions against marrying the kindred of one's husband or wife in chapter 24, and (2) the identification of the pope of Rome as the Antichrist in chapter 25.
So what's up with that? A bunch of people want to marry their wife's sister?

What is this, Shelbyville?

June 09, 2005

I wonder if the new ERPC denomination will take exception to Westminster Shorter Catechism 92
A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.
If by signs, Christ is applied to a believer, then it seems there are three options

1. Christ is applied by signs to the believer by an inherent power of the sign, the sign contaning Christ himself and being the principal cause of Christ's application to the believer. This would require that Christ and the sacramental sign having complete identity. This seems to be the case in the theology of transubstantiation or the Lutheran view.

2. Christ is applied by signs to the believer by virtue of Christ's own power making use of the sign an an instrument. Christ chopped down trees with an axe, and the Spirit applies Christ with the instruments of water baptism and participation in the Supper.


3. The use of the sign is an occasion for Christ to be applied to the believer, but the cause of the application is to be found in Christ in contradistinction to the sign. Presence at a birthday party is not the cause of receiveing a gift, but rather the giver of the gift is the cause of the reception thereof.

While there have been reformed advocates of (3), I don't see that this completely fits with the shorter catechism here.

Does one say that "Birthday parties are customs instituted by families, wherein, by gathering in groups, presents are presented, transfered, and enjoyed by the birthday-boy"? That seems like a rather minimal definition of a birthday party, and the fact of the "gathering in a group" is too incidental to carry the weight of "by".

It seems to me that this is better stated

"Birthday parties are customs instituted by families, wherein, by provision of presents, familial love is represented, made tangible, and enjoyed by the birthday-boy"

In the latter case, the "by" is functioning in an instrumental fashion. In seeming to reject "application" language with respect to the sacraments the ERPCexpresses an occasionalist view of sacraments (in which the sacraments are not causes of anything). But in rejecting "application" language, they are rejecting that portion of the westminster standard which upholds "application" language.

Which seems odd since they are claiming to uphold Westminsterian orthodoxy.

June 08, 2005

I saw this at the bookstore the other day. At first I thought it was a book called "wisdom of the Jedi" by Christian Masters, but it actually seems more like a Christian attmept to cash in on Star Wars.

Is this an improvement on Christain critiques of starwars? On some of them I guess, especially the ones that warned against ever seeing the movie lest it corrupt you with its insidious buddhist influences.

Pastor Ryken has this to say, which I agree with. (oops, not posted yet, so no link)

June 07, 2005

I assume This description is of Openness theology
One group of theologians has whittled the traditional God down to 30 percent of his original power: He cannot affect the past or future and isn't holding all that many cards in the present. This 30 percent god may not be powerful enough to fix a parking ticket. For many Americans he is certainly not worth rolling out of bed for on Sunday mornings.
Oh and Keith Richards and John Lennon had conversion experiences
...former Beatle John Lennon had become a devout fan of none other than televangelist Pat Robertson, to the point of falling to his knees and touching the television screen, apparently in hope of receiving a supernatural lift from the flickering image. In the book Nowhere Man, Robert Rosen adds to the story, telling us that in the late 1970s Lennon had taken to watching Billy Graham on TV. "At first he watched only for entertainment," Rosen wrote. "Then, one day, he had an epiphany — he allowed himself to be touched by the hand of Jesus Christ, and it drove him to tears of joy and ecstasy. He drew a picture of a crucifix: he was born again, and the experience was such a kick he had to share it with Yoko. John and Yoko sat in front of the TV watching Billy Graham sermons. Every other sentence out of John’s mouth was 'Thank You, Jesus or Thank you, Lord.'"

On first reading this I thought it merely proved that living with Yoko had driven poor John around the bend, and some critics dismissed these stories as fabrications. Yet Lennon would not be the first popular icon to pursue, for a time at least, the traditional version of Jesus. Bob Dylan’s conversion to Christianity is well known, and appears to be intact. And last year, the London Spectator informed readers that Keith Richards, famed dope sponge and Rolling Stones guitarist, had seen the light, perhaps thanks to the influence of wife Patti, whom biographer Christopher Sandford calls a “devout Lutheran” and who attends a weekly Bible study and “won’t stand for swearing around the house.” At the time of their marriage, Patti’s parents told reporters that Richards is an “enthusiastic disciple of Christ” who had “embraced Christ as a way of life.

June 03, 2005

Please note that psychological test scores are not diagnostic. If you score in the low E range, this is by no means an indicator that you have any kind of problem.
Although research indicates that some people with a diagnosis (eg of autism or Asperger Syndrome) may score in the low E range, it is NOT the case that a low E score is indicative of a problem.

Wow. My score on the Empathy Quotient test was a 30. 0-32 is "lower than average" and most men get a 42. And I though I was being generous to myself. Asperger/Autism rates a 20.

One coping skill for making inappropriate responses is, of course, to make very few.

June 02, 2005

According to the list of religious debaters on the playtest map [big image] for Here I Stand, Luther and Loyola and Calvin are the highest rated (4), Knox rates a (3) over Bucer (2), and Tetzel gets a (1). And Knox is an Anglican.


It seems that strategic games on the Reformation era (Revolution being the only one in print I know of actually) are being joined by a new entry from GMT Games, using their popular card-based strategy game system. Here I Stand, by Ed beach. From the Publisher's site
The lineage of Here I Stand includes descent from both SPI's A Mighty Fortress (published in 1977) and GMT's The Napoleonic Wars (2002). Reusing the theme of A Mighty Fortress, the game improves on its predecessor with a much deeper system to handle religious conversions, the additions of New World exploration and Mediterranean piracy, and the explicit inclusion of minor powers that can be coerced into the conflict through card play. Borrowed from The Napoleonic Wars is the use of important cities to determine economic strength and elements of the land combat, avoid battle, and interception systems. Many game mechanics borrowed from The Napoleonic Wars were simplified to ensure a fast-paced game despite the wide range of factor considered by this design. From this base, the game adds mechanics unique to the 16th Century, including heavy use of short-term (and unreliable!) mercenaries, explicit wintering of armies, and the mercurial nature of siege operations, especially against targets that can be resupplied by sea.

Here I Stand is an innovative game system, being the first to integrate religion, politics, economics and diplomacy in a card-driven design. Games vary in length from 3-4 hours for a tournament scenario up to full campaign games that run about twice the time. Rules to play games with 3, 4, or 5 players are also included. The 3-player game is just as well balanced as the standard 6-player configuration, taking advantage of the natural alliances of the period.
Its part of the GMT project 500 series, where GMT lists game propsals and buyers "vote" for them by ponying up money for them in advace, with GMT producing stuff that goes to 500 or more preorders.

Most of the other card-driven strategy games I've been interested in lately have been two-player, which while acceptable doesn't have the draw of a multiplayer game with alliances and plotting. This sounds like it fits the bill.

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