December 26, 2005

A friend who has to navigate alot of bureaucracies should have handy an IVR Cheat Sheet(tm) by Paul English. Tells you how to get live humans from voicemail systems of various organizations.

December 21, 2005

I just completed a byFaith Online Survey.

My reponses:

How important are the following to the health of the PCA:

Evangleism: somewhat important
Mercy ministry: somewhat important
Redeeming culture: somewhat unimportant
Creation stewardship: Not important
Being winsome: somewhat important
Other: (filled in "adapting to theolgical diversity") Very Important

How is the PCA's reputation (Excellent, Good, OK, Poor)

evangleism: ok
mercy ministry: ok
redeeming culture: good,
creation stewardship: ok
being winsome: poor
other: poor

ByFaith Online will of course mention that web surveys are valueless as statements of anything. I consider my fill-in for "other" to be a specification of "winsome". I really hate the word winsome, since I don't think most people mean by it what it denotes, which is light-heartedness, or attractive in a childlike way. Can one teach calvinism or a covenant of works and be "tee-hee"ing and 'fa la la'ing?

Warrior children, yes; but winsome children???

December 20, 2005

December 19, 2005

Interesting: various congressmen, including PA republican Curt Weldon, attended and participated in a ceremony back in march 2004 crowning Sun Myung Moon as humanity's savior

Salon also reported on it

December 16, 2005

Sure, people are igorant of textual criticism, but Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why: Books: Bart Ehrman seems pretty bogus from this description
Since the advent of the printing press and the accurate reproduction of texts, most people have assumed that when they read the New Testament they are reading an exact copy of Jesus's words or Saint Paul's writings. And yet, for almost fifteen hundred years these manuscripts were hand copied by scribes who were deeply influenced by the cultural, theological, and political disputes of their day. Both mistakes and intentional changes abound in the surviving manuscripts, making the original words difficult to reconstruct. For the first time, Ehrman reveals where and why these changes were made and how scholars go about reconstructing the original words of the New Testament as closely as possible.
Listening to him on NPR, i see that he lauches right in with the woman taken in adultery in John 8. Oooh, that's so convincing... all us rubes have never heard that that wasn't in the earliest manuscripts (that obscure NIV translation setting it off in brackets with big warning signs just isn't cutting it).

Well, let's just say this one one more reason I'm really glad we got our new clothes dryer working.

December 14, 2005

I know I'm a dummy and so this is all "inside baseball" to me, but Carl Trueman's slams at 'post-conservative evangelicals' doesn't strike me as helpful. For one, I really don't know what I'm supposed to find objectionable or why, since it isn't really a critique of any positions. And second, from what I do know
First, I am increasingly convinced that the whole post-conservative evangelical thing is a classic example of traditionalism dressed up in radical clothes.
sounds more like a description of success in meeting their goals, rather than a criticism.

I have nothing against Mark Dever and 9Marks, but I find it ironic that a baptist pastor feels called to organize a ministry of "local church pastors and leaders seeking to help other local church pastors and leaders in our common commission to edify and equip healthy churches" and "to help local church pastors and leaders in the discovery and application of the biblical priorities that cultivate health and holiness in the local church." when the ecclesiology of baptist churches lacks such things as are traditionally found in presbyteries and epicopal forms of government.

Keep up the good work, Bishop Dever.

December 13, 2005

Federation Commander: Klingon Border, looks like a new, simplified Star Fleet Battles game. No Energy Allocation forms to fill out would be a plus for faster play. Tempting, just to see if it works well.

Carl Trueman offers some reasons postmodernism irritates him, and makes the following observation along the way
Think of how often we are told that opponents of America, whether terrorists or French intellectuals, do so out of envy. The argument is neat, because it makes the opposition ridiculous and confirms the superiority of the American way: even its opponents are parasitic upon America's superiority. Yet I suspect Al Qaeda envy American freedoms about as much as they envy the Dutch the opportunity to smoke pot in public
1. Google turns up 500+ hits for the phrase "envy our freedom", and turns up 67,400+ for "hate our freedom". We're not really told very much that they envy our freedom

2. That being said, there is a case to be made that they do, owing to things like the popularity of Baywatch in Saudi Arabia (assuming that to be an accurate report) which implies an envy-like hypocriciy on the part of fundamentalistic enemies

3. There is a case to be made that they envy our freedom as it is expressed in our power to impose our will on the world stage, but that isn't so much in the area of personal liberties

4. A fairly strong case could be made that al-quaeda does in fact hate our personal liberties, without it being the result of 'envy', as what we do with our liberties is quite degenerate.

December 12, 2005

Andy Webb argues that it doesn't violate the second commandment see a narnia movie (or read the illustrated narnia books, i guess) because Aslan is a fictional charcters, not a member of the Godhead.

I agree that its ok to see a Narnia movie or read the book, but I think the status of Aslan as 'fictional' or 'allegorical' is not to the point. Aslan is fictional the way that historical characters in a Harry Turtledove alternate history novel are fictional. Turtledove tries to write his characters as being and doing the things they would be and do if the events of history were otherwise.

Aslan is, in fiction, the same 'character' as Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, were the nature of the real world one that included a fairy-tale world along side of our own and Jesus incarnated himself in that world. As Anne Rice has written a novel, making up some events and writing a fictional account about Jesus' life as a boy, so Lewis has written a fairy-tale about Jesus' life as a fairy-tale character.

Now Jesus, in fact is NOT a fairy-tale charcater, but Lewis has written a book imagining what he would be like if he decided to be a fairy-tale character in a land where fairy-tales are real, as well as a person in the real world.

Evidence that what I am claiming is true: in Dawn Treader, Aslan says that the children must come to know his "other name" that he goes by in their world, and that in experiencing him in Narnia, they have gotten to know him a bit better already. What is the referent? It's the actual Jesus Christ. And at the end of the Last Battle, the kids are all dead, and get to go to the same heaven that Christians expect to be in when they die.

It isn't an allegory, or pure fiction: its a work of imagination and supposal about a real person.

Questions about including divine actions in novels always raise this issue. You can either write a story as an atheist, or you can write a story that makes decisions about what God would do under the circumstances of your narrative. If a charcater named Jill prays for a pony, the writer has to decide what the the character of God will do in the novel. Will He grant the prayer or won't he?

If you've been wondering what Anglicans and Roman Catholics hold in common about salvation and Justification, you can read Salvation and the Church, An Agreed Statement, Second Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC II). Here's a quote
Through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, God declares that we are forgiven, accepted and reconciled to him. Instead of our own strivings to make ourselves acceptable to God, Christ's perfect righteousness is reckoned to our account. God's declaration is sometimes expressed in the New Testament in the language of law, as a verdict of acquittal of the sinner. The divine court, where the verdict is given, is the court of the judge who is also Father and Saviour of those whom he judges. While in a human lawcourt an acquittal is an external, even impersonal act, God's declaration of forgiveness and reconciliation does not leave repentant believers unchanged but establishes with them an intimate and personal relationship. The remission of sins is accompanied by a present renewal, the rebirth to newness of life. Thus the juridical aspect of justification, while expressing an important facet of the truth, is not the exclusive notion in the light of which all other biblical ideas and images of salvation must be interpreted. For God sanctifies as well as acquits us. He is not only the judge who passes a verdict in our favor, but also the Father who gave his only Son to do for us what we could not do for ourselves

December 11, 2005

Part 3 of my comments on Rick Phillips on John 5:24 and the New Perspective(s) on Justification. (see Part 1 and Part 2)
3) Note how faith in the Word saves: not by entering us into a righteous community but by the individual ('the one who hears and believes') receiving justification and eternal life directly from Jesus himself. In other words, contrary to the New Perspective(s), soteriology (the individual appropriate of salvation from Christ) is more basic that ecclesiology (the communal by-products of that saving relationship with Christ). As Paul stated to the Philippian jailor, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ causes us to be saved. That is still the New Testament gospel.
I would be very surprised if anyone who studied the material on the arguments surrounding the NPP would find persuasive a mere citation of a text from John which lines out a very simple explanation of the Gospel message.

1. Very simple explanations of the Gospel message often don't contain the qualifiers that a full soteriological account require. Think of John 3:16, and the debate of the extent of the term "world".

2. The NPP is the new perspective on Paul not John. While we don't want to pit the diversity of expressions between John and Paul in any kind of opposition, it isn't unevangelical to recognize their diversity and account for it in terms of theological formulations.

3. Wright's place for covenant membership in his soteriology doesn't exclude the very possibility of making less detailed statements about salvation that go something like "Believe in Jesus and you will be saved." John's record of Jesus statement of soteriology is so brief that it can account for all manner of additional details to be filled in. Phillips himself fills in that justification and eternal life flow "directly from Jesus himself", when no express claim of that follows in the text.

4. If I understand correctly, the NPP includes a claim about the context of first century Judaism and her eschatological expectation. The claim is that a judgment of the whole nation was expected, and in that judgment, the people of God would stand out vindicated against their enemies. That vindication took the form of resurrection. If Jesus is in fact speaking into that kind of context and expectation, it is hardly inconsistent with that context for Jesus then to speak of individuals who believe his word finding themselves to be possessors of the eternal life that was the expectation of the people of God. Such ones wouldn't have warrant for believing they had some form of salvation that had no relation to the salvation of the whole nation, at least, they wouldn't because of the single statement of John 5:24.

If they did take such a view, they'd run up against a great deal of other Johnaine theology, like the necessity of being "born again" (a family image), of being a branch among many branches of the vine, etc. Someone who read the chapter on Justification in the Westminster Confession might come away with the impression that justification had no reference to a righteous status shared with anyone else, because that text doesn't emphasize that. But to truly grasp the full WCF system of doctrine, we have to look at the whole. And we find that "The communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is their partaking of the virtue of his mediation, in their justification..."

As Robert Letham puts it
Salvation therefore takes place into the church, in the church, and in connection with the church. Both the church and the salvation it proclaims and bears are together grounded in the saving efficacy of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

From all this, it is clear that soteriology and ecclesiology are integrally connected, both being outflows of the accomplishments of Christ
this connection should be given renewed expression in our own day. One way of doing this is to pay close attention to the biblical doctrine of Covenant as it comes to fruition and full expression in the work of Christ. In the covenant of grace, the individual finds his or her place in the community of the people of God. Corporate solidarity is most prominent, yet it is a solidarity that does not run roughshod over individual liberty. The Godly person, by definition, belongs to the community. [The Work of Christ, pp. 217, 219, emphasis mine]
This kind of language thankfully is far from the language of 'by-product'.

December 10, 2005

Commenting on old posts is great, and Sensus Plenior sends me an email letting me know you did so. But I have no idea which post you commented on, so if you're being vague I won't know what its about

December 09, 2005

Certain commandments of the Torah are clearly designed to be followed and fulfilled by the nation as a nation. It was not simply for an individual to give rest to the "stranger that is within thy [city] gates", but a task the city would be responsible for. See Nehemiah where he acts to close the gates against the sellers of victuals.

Many other examples could be multiplied. In fact, you could certainly say that the drumbeat and central aspect of the Torah is civilizational and social, not individualistic. It is only brought to bear when Israel comes together as a nation.

Jesus active obedience fulfills the whole law. So his active obedience includes laws that can only really and fully be kept on a social/civilizational level.

Does it make any sense to say that that righteousness is imputed to individuals? Individuals don't NEED IT. Societies need it. The church or company or other institution may fail in many ways to give rest to the stranger within the gates, but the church is the possessor of the imputed civilizational righteousness of Christ, and can stand before God confident in it, and work to live it out more fully in gratitude for it.

But all of that is to say that Wright's focus on the corporate aspects of righteousness, and his focus on covenant membership as a vehicle through which righteousness is accounted is on to something important, and is an important corrective to too individualistic accounts of salvation

Wright has opposed the Lutheran claims about the role of faith in justification in what seem like very strange terms to me because he believes it ends up as a "substitute work", or "something we do to be justified". Knowing some Lutherans, I know they recoil in disgust at the charge that their definition of what faith is (a total empty resting and receiving of grace from God) could be construed as a substitute work.

But I wonder if Wright is trying to out-do even that definition, by denying (or at least downplaying) the instrumentality of faith altogether. You can deny instrumentality by making faith primary cause of justification, or you can deny instrumentality by making faith an merely an occasion for justification. It seems to me that the reference to 'faith as a badge' language pushes in a more occasionalist direction. I don't thing Wright denies what could be called a kind of instrumentality, but it seems less robust an instrumentality than in other dogmatic definitions.

I also wonder if the argument over the (genitive?) character of pistis Christou factors in here. If a vast majority of texts that relate faith to our justification are referring to Christ's faith, not ours, then the doctrine of the instrumentality of faith are not well grounded.

December 08, 2005

Rick Phillips on John 5:24 and the New Perspective(s) on Justification
2) Note that Jesus seems to be one of those people who believe that faith in the Word is more central than faith operating through the sacraments. No doubt, the New Testament and the Gospel of John present a relatively high sacramental theology, so that one may counter with salvation sayings that debatably may incorporate the sacraments. But the constant drumbeat of John's Gospel (and the whole New Testament) is faith believing the Word of Christ and receiving a complete salvation. In John 5:24, as in so many other places, Jesus himself drives home the nail of faith in his Word as that on which the receipt of his gospel hangs.
I have even more trouble following this.

I consider Rick's claim that there is 'no doubt' that the Gospel of John presents a relatively high sacramental theology to be very odd. John's gospel is famous for being the one that doesn't contain any direct mention of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. If Rick is willing to say that John has a high sacramental theology, one would presume you could base such a claim on the statement that one must be "born of water and Spirit" to even see the kingdom of God, taking the reference to water as a reference to baptism. And Jesus claim that "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you", taken in a sacramental sense is an outrageously strong sacramental claim, that participating in the sacrament of communion is absolutely necessary for salvation.

Most reformed evangelicals have denied that John has a strong sacramental theology. Many of these denials are themselves quite strained and unnatural (I think of D. A. Carson's convoluted arguments against taking 'water' in John 3:5) but if Rick Phillips is going to move in that direction this is welcome indeed.

But if he has moved in that direction, how is it that he can cite Jesus words in John 5:24 as making faith in the Word "more central" that faith operating through sacraments? The interpretation of texts that give John a high sacramental theology seem to put water baptism on the same plane as Spirit baptism, and seem to make participation in eucharist just as important as believing in the Father.

Even if we don't make the sacramental statements of John have such strong import, its hard to see how the simple citation of John 5:24 proves that faith in the Word is more central.

For one, good reformed sacramentology (which is all I defend, not 'bad' sacramental theology) always categorizes sacraments as a species of the Word. Enacted, tangible, and visible, these 'signs' are communications as much as any text, and of course, the 'whole sacrament' includes verbal components ("I baptize thee..." "This is my body"). If the New Perspective is putting sacramental theology under a different rubric than "word" than it needs to be opposed. The Federal Visionists would leap at the chance to oppose this if this were the case.

For another, since Rick is admitting that there are "salvation sayings" that incorporate sacraments, and these statements are JUST as strongly worded as those that don't, doesn't that mean that we have to put the two together to really get the full picture. Yes, the larger quantity of non-sacramental salvation statements in John is very much in keeping with the place of sacraments in Christian living, and I'm happy to affirm that there is a centrality in that sense.

Again, I note that Rick is conflating Jesus two-part statement about "hearing the word" and "believing him who sent me" into "believing the Word". And also seems to be presuming that the belief here is expressible as punctiliar. But John is also very clear that punctiliar belief will not save (John 2:23-24; John 15).

I was going to post this even before I knew this was the anniversary of the condemnation of Nestorianism.

I was flipping through Richard Gaffin's Resurrection and Redemption in the bathroom the other day. I came to pages 100-103, where Gaffin exegetes Romans 1:3-4 as pertaining to the successive modes of existence in the history of Christ's earthly life, from flesh to Spirit. What struck me was not so much what Gaffin claimed, but what he argued in opposition to, which was the position of Hodge and Warfield, that the reference was simply to the two natures of Christ.

Gaffin writes of Hodge and Warfield's line of argument. Below I intersperse Gaffin's phrasing with some direct quotes from Hodge and Warfield
Hodge and Warfield maintain that biblical usage elsewhere, without exception demands that "Son of God" refers specifically to Christ's divinity.

"The historical sense of the terms logos, eikon, uios, prototokos, as learned from the Scriptures and the usus loquendi of the apostolic age, shows that they must, in their application to Christ, be understood of his Divine nature"

"That the word sarx here means human nature is obvious both from the scriptural usage of the word, and from the nature of the case." "As sarx means his human nature, pneuma can hardly mean anything else than his higher or divine nature...or Godhead" (Hodge) "When Paul tells us of the Christ which he preached that He was made of the seed of David 'according to the flesh.' he quite certainly has the whole of His humanity in mind." (Warfield)

The contrast is between two fundamental components in the make-up of Christ's person - his divine and human natures, and that these verses show Paul to be an explicit advocate of the doctrine of the two natures.

While recognizing that "there is a temporal succession suggested in the declarations of the two clauses" (p.240) [Warfield] maintains that this "emerges merely as the incidental, or may we say even the accidental result of their collocation"

Further, he emphatically rejects the idea that the resurrection is "the producing cause of a change in our Lord's mode of being" in fact... "nothing could be more monstrous"

Another major difficulty is that the view of Hodge and Warfield sees the significance of the resurrection in these verses to be its noetic function with reference to Christ's divine nature, in making evident his divinity. Such a notion is not only not present elsewhere in Paul but is clearly foreign to to the central thrust of his teaching.

Inasmuch as syntactical lines put verses 3 and 4 within the orbit of "gospel", they function as a capsule statement of the gospel... Warfield has given this points its most forceful emphasis. But how appropriate for this purpose is a reference to the two natures? ... It is not the gospel in a nutshell. The doctrine of Christ's two natures coupled with nothing more than 'incidental" "accidental" "indifferent" reference to his history and work is not "the power of God unto salvation"
What strikes me here (and Gaffin has emphasized it, though the boldface type is all my doing) is how sure and certain Hodge's (and especially Warfield's) pronouncements of the impact of the passage are, but seemingly in inverse proportion to how clear things are as Gaffin demonstrates.

What accounts for Warfield's vehemence? Does he feel the threat of the loss of a favored proof-text in a zone of theology where he felt the nature of the liberal attack? Did he so need to prove that Paul proclaimed a specific doctrine of a two-natured Christ, and that he proclaimed in in a perspicacious manner? What was at stake? Gaffin speculates that its possible that Warfield was aware of Vos's bringing in of eschatological and biblical theological categories to the passage, and that he was reacting to those ideas specifically. But that doesn't explain the vehemence, just contextualizes it.

Warfield and Hodge wanted to defend the resurrection as a proof of the divinity of Christ, under an evidentialist apologetic where a specified miracle can stand as a justified foundation for accepting a truth-claim about Jesus as God himself. So the stakes are certainly high, at least as they saw things.

The quote about "accidental" collocation is very revealing. There is a feature of the text (temporal sequence, implied by the fact of resurrection at a later point in the narrative.) that should presumably be illuminating on exegesis. But to get around it, it is merely asserted to be incidental or perhaps accidental. I suppose one can be happy that at least the argument is hinging on hermeneutical principles.

Who said it?
Modern Evangelicalism...has gone to the opposite extreme. Soteriology comes first and ecclesiology straggles far behind. The key thing is to have Christ as your personal savior and lord. The individual is paramount. The post-Renaissance focus on the individual person has come to dominate in the church to such an extent that entire areas of crucial biblical teaching on corporate solidarity sound strange and alien, if they are ever heard at all. Yet Paul describes salvation in fundamentally corporate terms...

All of us need to think of ourselves more lowly. None of us should think we have done anything worthy of our Lord, and even in our obedience, we are unprofitable servants.

But we look forward in hope and faith to a day when God will explain to us, in the muck and filth of our lives, how He was able through us to advance His Kingdom, bring blessing to others, and empower us to work works that He can call good and in which He is well pleased. I look forward to the day when somehow, through a Spirit that cannot be tracked from one place to another, my works will be declared good. That indicative is powerfully motivating.

"You must be born again"

1. Therefore, you're in the wrong family right now.

2. Therefore, you need to be in the right family.

Babies that are not born into families are dead babies.

A baby being born can be contemplated as an individual, but it doesn't exist as a mere individual, and its individuality is not the most important thing about it.

December 07, 2005

Rick Phillips on John 5:24 and the New Perspective(s) on Justification
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from the death to life"

1) Note the centrality of faith in Christ'’s Word functioning as the instrument by which the believer a) has eternal life, b) escapes divine judgment for sins, and c) passes from death to life. Faith here is not merely 'a badge of covenant membership' as the New Perspective(s) would have it. Faith itself serves as the instrument by which we receive this great salvation.
There are some things about this claim I don't follow.

First, the text denotes not "faith in Christ's word" but two things: hearing Jesus word and believing the Father. While it's true that believing the Father entails and includes hearing and believing the one he has sent, it isn't the preceise phrase. If we're trying to prove something precise, we should be precise.

Second, what in the text indicates instrumentality? Instrumentality seems left unstated. The text is consistent with faith as an ainstrument, but its also consistent with, say, a view of faith as a substitute work that is accepted instead of meritorious works.

If the next verse said something like "faith in the Father receives the life that the Father has in himself" then faith could be seen as instrumental. If the next verse said "for faith is the condition upon which the Father will transform the nature of the person with grace leading to resurrection", then infused grace would be instrumental. If the next verse said "For everyone with the mark of faith gets to be resurrected, and as you all know, the main expectation you have of resurrection comes from Ezekiel, where the resurrection of the nation is in view", then a badge of covenant membership (faith) would be instrumental.

But none of those things follow next.

(more on the other points later)

Federal Vision Statement: "Fifth, because of their emphasis on the 'visible, external, and tangible,' many proponents of FV theology have logically moved into the realm of using icons in their worship. This practice is a clear breaking of the Second Commandment"


1) neither Wilkins, Schlissel, Lusk, Jordan, Barach, Leithart, Shepherd, Smith, or Wilson use icons in their worship. if they do it's news to me. Jordan (who is ur-FV to me) argues strenuously against icons in worship.

2) so who are these 'bit player' FV "proponents" that i've never heard of who use icons? How "many" of them are there?

3) or is this just an unsubstantiated smear?

PS: I contacted several members of the session of this church for substantiation of this charge, and received no response.

One person suggested that the claim may be deceitfully worded to give the impression that iconolatry is occurring, when the actual claim is that their 'logic' implies iconolatry is acceptable. But that would be a clear violation of the Ninth Commandment.

December 06, 2005

When the israelite nation was circumcised at gilgal, God says "I have rolled away the reproach of egypt from you"

Did God do that through the instrument of circumcision?

Did God do that 'really' in his mind first, and then have them cut themselves as a symbol of his mental act?

Could the reproach of Egypt come back to those to whom it was said?

Did each individual israelite carry the reproach of egypt on them? Did circumcision remove the reproach from the individual? Did women carry the reproach of egypt?

Or did the nation carry it, and did circumcision of the males remove it from the nation qua nation?

While no attention is drawn to this, if circumsion at gilgal removes the reproach of egypt, it would be reasonable to see each new baby born thereafter living for 7 days under that reproach, no? Or did his circumcision point to something else entirely?

Here is a thought on reading this: Kate O'Beirne on Feminism & Education on National Review Online.

It would be interesting if research showed that the disappearance of the generic pronouns "he" and "his" lead to males doing less well in reading.

Divorce is probably a bigger factor though. I don't know if the studies which show the difficulty boys have in the educational establishment control for divorce.

December 02, 2005

So pastors and elders are supposed to subscribe to the system of doctrine contained in the WCF, etc. If an officer becomes convinced of a doctrine that contradicts it, he's supposed to make known to the officers his exception and they decide if its acceptable.

So if someone becomes convinced that paedocommunion is a biblical doctrine, say, they should tell their session and let them decide if that's acceptable.

There is one way around this as far as I can see, which is if someone could become convinced that the Bible teaches a doctrine, but that they don't believe it because the confession states otherwise. Then they don't become out of accord with the system of doctrine of the WCF. It seems like David Chilton was of this mind on hyperpreterism for some time before just saying that he was a hyperpreterist, because a close reading of Paradise Restored and Days of Venegnce (check the section on the general resurrection, where Chilton excepts Christians from "the dead" who came to life and were judged.) indicates to me that Chilton's only reason to not be a hyperpreterist was confessional language against it.

I'm listening now to a recording of Bruce Waltke's address to Westminster Seminary on the occasion of Peter Lillback being installed as president. Like Phil Ryken I am intrigued by Waltke's discussion of Westminsters "innovations" in theology, as that hoary chestnut from Charles Hodge that "nothing new" had ever been taught at Princeton Seminary is sometimes cited favorably in current debates.
The conviction [of Murray] that the whole counsel of God has priority over confessions allowed the faculty to breathe, expand, and become the first-class academic institution that Machen intended. Murray freed the seminary from a restricted and narrow intellectual orthodoxy...
And he says this later on
Jay Adams took a major step forward when he shifted biblical theological preaching from the indicative mood into the imperative mood
Maybe Mike Horton will have him on White Horse Inn for some...disucssion?

Here are some thoughts I had on congregational meetings i left in a comment on Marion Clark's blog. At tenth we have a bi annual congregational meeting, and at our last meeting atcually had so few show up that we failed to have a quorum. I speculate that as there is less and less actual information communicated at such meetings and thereby less actual decision making by the congregation, the need for congregational meetings becomes less and less justifiable.
Its one thing to have a budget to vote on or elder to elect, and another where a congregation is asked to vote to do something without being actually told why it is doing so.

I wonder why we have to have congregational meetings to vote on these matters at all? Could we not vote on a budget or elect elders via a mailed in ballots? That would help those who can't make meetings for legitimate reasons but desire to have their vote counted.

The trend at Tenth in what business is conducted at congregational meetings seems to call the congregational tasks into question:

1) We used to have the possibility of open nominations for elder from the floor. That was (wisely) removed since such nominations would not be vetted.

2) We used to have the pastors' salary as an open part of the budget, and now its a single staff line-item that conceals the actual pastoral salary.

3) And of course there is the unprecedented step of asking us to vote to dissolve the relationship with [an associate pastor] without knowing exactly why.

It strikes me that these steps would have been impossible or very difficult to implement in a smaller church, which raises the question of what about being a big church makes it appropriate.

With #2, if we only had one pastor, his salary would not be subsumed in an overall line item. Or in the case of #3, it would be doubtful that a smaller size of the church would have permitted the secret to stay that way, as elders making the decision would be in closer proximity to a larger swath of the congregation.

I fully support the idea of elected elders representing my interests in the decisions of the church. But if most of these decisions are (rightly) out of my hands, then the meeting to approve them becomes simply a kind of ritual. And ritualism and formalism has always been suspect in Presbyterian and reformed theology.

The New York Times reports: "In addition to housing, the Federal Reserve and businesses will have a big part in setting the economy's pace next year - the Fed through interest rates and companies by their hiring decisions"

They also report that the Pope has an important role to play in the Roman Catholic Church, he being Catholic and all.

December 01, 2005

Russian squirrels are off their nut

De script shun




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