March 30, 2006

March 28, 2006

I note that R. Scott Clark describes supralapsarianism thusly
1. Chose creatable and fallible humans to be elect and reprobate;
2. decreed to create elect and reprobate humans;
3. Decreed the fall;
4. Chose to provide salvation for the elect.
Why is point 1 necessary, and why is it point 1? If he hasn't decreed the creation of humans yet, how can he yet choose them to be elect or reprobate.

Couldn't supralapsarianism just be that: by 'election' we mean that God decrees to create some of the humans to be those who have the capacity to respond to his Spirit from a fallen state, and that others cannot, or only can for a limited time?

That would fit with the parable of the soils, and the statement that some are vessels created unto honor, and the statement that the Jews Steven spoke to were stiff-necked and resisted the Holy Spirit (which the elect did not do, because they were so created not to resist him).

March 27, 2006

Interesting stuff from Rev. C. A. Schouls, on The Covenant Of Grace:

"If used carefully, these are valuable tools in coming to grips with some aspects of the problem but it still leaves the question lying there - what about the children, all the children of believers - are they in the covenant or not? And if they are in, are they covenant members in a sense which we can understand? This can be a matter of genuine spiritual concern for godly parents. And it will not do for a pastor to argue like a Philadelphia lawyer, trying to explain that, 'Yes, maybe they are not and No, maybe they are'."

Much more there, as well, but I was amused by the reference to "Philadelphia lawyers"

A great point from Mark Horne

"They didn’t want to answer that question since the mob believed that John the Baptist was a prophet. But the whole reason Jesus brought it up was because it answered their question. Jesus’ authority was that he had been authorized by God through the ministry of John the Baptist. Cleansing the temple was a kingly task. King David had received the plans for the Temple. King Solomon had built it. King Hezekiah and King Josiah had reformed and repaired it. King Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed it and King Cyrus had ordered it rebuilt. Given the fact that anointing was more important for installing a king in Israel than was crowning him or any other ritual, obviously Jesus’ baptism was his anointing."

March 26, 2006

Mike Horton
Calvin goes so far as to stress the relationship between the physical character of the elements and our own bodies, suggesting that God 'testifies his benevolence and love toward us more expressly by the sacraments than he does by his word' (Institutes 4.14.6).
I like that. Because without sacraments, one could get the idea that God was just interested in saving our souls and taking our souls to heaven when we die, but since he also gives our bodies tokens of salvation, he shows that he wants our bodies saved as well and will raise our bodies up.

Of course, evanglicalism focuses much more the 'going to heaven when you die' than on the hope of ressurection.

March 24, 2006

Piebald Life writes in McDonald's is Ethnic Food
And so we call all food that isn't white "ethnic food." And that belies the fact that we have no idea that the tray you get with your value meal comes freighted with white cultural values: consistency (you get the same Big Mac from Maine to Spokane), speed, and disposability. We can argue the benefits or detriments of these values, but what we cannot miss is that this combination of values is unique to white America.
I can half agree with this, and left some further questions for thought in the post comments, but I also think this recent comment from white man Carl Truman makes some sense
To what extent do some forms of `contextualisation' give primacy to the arbitrary identity categories constructed by Western society and thus merely replicate that society's values rather than critique them at the deepest level?

It will come as no surprise to many that my take is as follows: the basic category for all theological reflection is human nature; and, if you must play identity politics, then economic divisions are the only ones which avoid being completely arbitrary.
I should also add that I recognize the value of thisline of thinking when I was listening to plans for PCA church plants in Philadelphia as being mostly of the 'targeted demongraphic' sort, or the 'ethnic' sort, whereas Tenth Pres wasn't one of those kinds of churches, but was a 'regional church'. Well, yeah, but that doesn't mean Tenth doesn't have a demongraphic or ethnicity to it, and we're kidding ourselves of we push that under the rug (not that we are...)

TNR Online: Without a Doubt: a former editor of First Things criticizes Neuhaus. (registration required to read)

March 23, 2006

ROMA VICTOR, a Roman Empire MMORPG will institute in-game crucifictions against players who engage in various antisocial behaviors, like hacking and killing other players' charcaters in game.

The game is set in Roman Britain, so I guess historical accuracy won't require the governor to release a prisoner annually.

Regeneration is one of the gospel accomplishments of Christ on behalf of sinners, along with all the other Gospel accomplishments. He was preeminently born of the Spirit that we might share in his Spiritual birth, and be Children of God "born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God"

So if we believe in the free offer of the Gospel, can we exclude one of the accomplishments of Christ on behalf of sinners from what is offered?

God: "Here is the gospel: I promise if you trust Christ, you'll be saved."

Me: That's a great offer. Anything else?

God: I also promise that if you're one of the elect I'll make you able to believe, which you can't do otherwise.

Me: Really. Ok. Am I one of the elect?

God: not telling.

Me: Then how is that a promise to me?

God: Not telling. But if you start believing, you might find out.

March 22, 2006

I'm taking on A Proverb A Day for a few days.



March 21, 2006

While this UN ad against racism, may in fact be smearing Danes by using a red Lego (a Danish company) brick as a symbol of an ethnicity that wants to stand apart from an integrated set of dark gray puzzle pieces, it certainly also communicates rather dubious things about racism if you analyze it.

1. The puzzle that the red Lego won't join is a boring uniform gray. It's also posed to seem like it's trying to envelop the red brick. This raises the question of where the negative image is. Is the puzzle an example of a hegemonic society offering integration only on its own terms and excluding the colored Lego minority? Or is it an example of a seperatist racial group that refuses to join with the larger goals of integration and racial unity?

2. The larger issue though is: the Lego brick and the puzzle pieces are fundamentally incompatible. Any attempt to merge them together will be fruitless and damaging to the character of either. Why didn't the ad use a puzzle piece of a different color? Racism when dealing with fundamentally incompatible elements seems like a rational choice. Anyone trying to integrate puzzle pieces and Legos is a fool or a madman.

So the ad fails on at least two levels.

March 17, 2006

I agree with Rich Lowry's post on The Corner on National Review Online, on the concept that the strategy that is now bearing fruit in Iraq, as a better trained Iraq forces take more and more of an active role in their countr, and as US forces become more adept at negotiating the complexities of Iraqui society, is simply a strategy that takes time to work. Critics who complained that the US had "no strategy" because there was no fruit borne the strategy that was implemented, because it was slow, were wrong, because the strategy is juts a slow strategy.

Now Bush didn't and couln't really say "we're going to go Into iraq, and figure out alot of the reconstruction stuff when we see what's going on" since that looks like "no strategy". But it seems like the only humanly possible strategy. Did FDR need to conceive of the Marshall plan at the start of WWII?
I tend to dis-believe anyone who argues winning in Iraq just required X-number of additional troops.

Would these additional troops have had a complex understanding of Iraqi tribal politics? Would they have known all the key players on the ground in their area--who to trust and not to trust? Would they have gotten better intelligence tips from the Iraqi public? Would they have understood that the traditional American “kinetic” approach to warfare really doesn't apply in a counter-insurgency? I doubt it. All of this knowledge takes time to develop. It means being on the ground and tasting and feeling local conditions. It is conventional wisdom that we “wasted” the first year in Iraq. It is true that we were ineffectual during that year, but it wasn't wasted as long as we were learning and adjusting--as we were.

A final point. Any additional troops wouldn't have made much of a difference if they had been engaged in the kind of large sweeps without holding territory that we used for so long in Iraq. They might have made a difference, however, if they had been used to garrison every Iraqi town. But there was a judgment made that that would have been too heavy-handed and we should instead wait to hold territory until Iraqi forces were available to do it. You can argue with this strategic judgment, but it is not an unreasonable one. Indeed, the same people who suggest the administration didn't have a strategy now praise our approach in Iraq because, in the words of Igantius, “Americans are stepping back into a training and advisory role.” So does the administration get any credit for having had this as its goal--and consistently working toward it--for so long? Of course not.

As good calvinists, we know that when the bible says something that sounds saving is tru of "all", that "all" doesn't really mean "all".

But when Steve Wilkins says that those in covenant with Christ have "all" the blessings that Christ makes available, why do we change our hermeneutics?

March 15, 2006

Gaming news of interest is eeking out of the GAMA Trade Show this week.

Looks like some new boardgames coming this from FFG are rather interesting. Fantasy Flight has picked up the ball that Avalon Hill has dropped on the big-box-o-plastic-pieces wargame genre.

First of interest (from my perusal of FFG's 'rant' page is Reins of Power, which looks to be an Axis and Allies-style game, but set in the modern era with the sides representing world powers like the European Union and the USA. It occurs to me that, if the game doesn't model the threat of Islamic terrorism in any detail, it might be interesting to explore a variant where an Islamic faction player has a shot at doing what Al Qaida hopes to accomplish: uniting the Islamic world into its own "superpower" faction. Supremacy was flawed as a simulation because (well, among many other reasons) some of the sides (south America and Africa) were played as cohesive political entities equal with the US and Russia or Europe. An asymmetrical political wargame where one of the powers could approach symmetry with another side would be intriguing.

Tides of Iron is not coming till December 2006 (maybe!) and is "a game of World War II-era squad-based tactical combat. It will feature loads of plastic figures, including soldiers, equipment, heavy weapons, and combat vehicles, cards, dice, cardboard markers, and modular game boards that will represent the customizable terrain of this scenario-based wargame". Makes me glad I haven't bought in to Memoir '44 and expansions, as I'd like to try a different approach to WWII tactical combat...with fun plastic pieces. Memoir '44 is a great game, though I've played it to death with my coworker so I'd be happy to try something new.

Thirdly, Warrior Knights looks intriguing. This is a redevelopment of an old Games Workshop game, and "players take on the roles of medieval barons competing for domination of the land and control of its cities. Each baron has four knights under his command, and recruits troops and drafts mercenaries so that each warrior knight fields an army capable of seizing and holding one or more cities. Military power alone is not enough, however, as players must also compete economically and politically for valuable titles, concessions, and the favor of the Church." Design notes are supposed to be up on FFG's site, but I don't see any as of yet.

I'm still waiting for War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age expansion for War of the Ring. This has been delayed till an early April release though. The rules are available for download [pdf link] so strategies can be planned now, I suppose.

March 14, 2006

Sometimes the WCF says things in a universal way that are not universally true. From Chapter 32: "Of the State of Men after Death"
"the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens,"

I leave it as an exercise to the reader to discover the biblical exceptions to this doctrinal claim.

March 13, 2006

I've spent the day at AJAX seminar learning about Asynchronous JavaScript and XML and how to use those techniques to design better web apps. The conf is winding up, and some of the sessions were really useful, others more general/philosophical. The current one is rather repetitive of other sessions.

Lunch was nice: had some salad and chicken w artichokes. They seem to be aware of carb issues, offering nuts and cheese during the cofee breaks.

Phil Ryken responds to Sinclair Ferguson's question about whether there is 'evangelical' consensus on the definition of 'gospel'. I agree with him that there clearly would not be. It's one of the reasons I see little helpfulness in trying to retain 'evangelicalism' as a movement that the reformed church should be a part of, much less go out and try to reform.

But I also wonder if Ryken is narrowing a definition that should be broader. He writes
Fortunately, whenever we find ourselves forgetting what the gospel really is, we can always go back to what Paul said to the Corinthians:"Now I would remind you brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

Notice that even for Paul, this gospel is a given, not something we are free to refashion according to the needs of the moment. Notice that it is the sine qua non of salvation: if we lose our grip on the gospel, our faith is in vain. And notice that the gospel is the cross and the empty tomb -- the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the question I try to ask about every sermon I prepare: am I preaching the crucified and risen Christ?
I worry that the focus on 'death and resurrection' in some usages excludes or ignores the equally significant part of the gospel definition, that death and resurrection are predicated of Christ. It's not that we proclaim the death and resurrection of a particular man, though we do. Its that the particular man of whom we proclaim it is the Davidic Messiah promised to be the savior through whom the kingdom would finally come. The gospel is NOT properly just the cross and the tomb: crosses and tombs are a dime a dozen. The Christ, the anointed messiah, the Davidic King, the public person who sums up all Judaism and humanity in himself is a unique figure.

And that HE died, that the King died, that the new Cyrus, the emperor of the world died to save his people, is the good news. Its the good news that fully involves the 'political' and communal and social aspects of the work of Christ. He's not just a great big Lamb offered for sin. He's a King setting the pace of his Kingdom through his death.

I'm not sure that factor IS properly emphasized in current reformed theology, which is why the NPP is a needed corrective.

March 10, 2006

Her Church: San Francisco - Ebenezer Lutheran Church: A New Beginning - Google Video

Can we have WCF XXIII.3 back, please?

Civil Magistrate, TAKE ORDER!

A thought:

A dynamic equivalence translation of the bible supports the idea of a priestly caste that is needed to understand the bible, because when anyone tries to teach particularly complex biblical matters they need to spend all sorts of time citing their expert knowledge as to why the translation that the students are using is deficient.

A literal translation of the bible also supports the idea of a priestly caste that is needed to understand the bible, because anyone without expert knowledge about biblical literature approaches particular obscure or difficult matters of the text will get confused as some point or another and have to seek out expert opinion ot understand it.

indulge your cannibalistic urges with a chocolate skull

Since Josh S. banned everyone at Here We Stand from leaving comments, I don't feel so special any more.

March 08, 2006

"Eight-year-old Julia Wheatley liked the fact that Jesus washed the disciples' feet, not the other way around. A woman across the table noted that this was Jesus' style. He doesn't tell them how to behave, he shows them. And so it went throughout the one-hour service, which included moments of silence, spoken prayers and a couple of hymns, accompanied by acoustic guitar (what else?). It culminated in Communion.
'This is about Jesus turning a seder into the Lord's Supper,' Wheatley told them.
He ripped a pita bread in half, sending each part in opposite directions, instructing participants to tear a smaller piece with the words, 'This is the body of Christ broken for you.'
He then held a large green ceramic chalice before them, and said, 'Hold this for your neighbors, while they dip the bread in and say, 'Take the cup of the new covenant.' '
At the end, Wheatley addresses Jesus with the words, 'You are our life. You are our bread. Thank you for feeding us.' "

What is it with these emergent (PCA) churches deciding to do intincture?

March 07, 2006

The Starving Criminal by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal Autumn 2002: "He had left home when he was 16 because his stepfather had made it clear that he was de trop.
I asked the young man whether his mother had ever cooked for him.

"Not since my stepfather arrived. She would cook for him, like, but not for us children."

I asked him what they - he and his brothers and sisters - had eaten and how they had eaten it.

"We'd just eat whatever there was,' he said. "We'd look for something whenever we was hungry."

"And what was there?"
"Bread, cereals, chocolate?that kind of thing."

"So you never sat round a table and ate a meal together?"


In fact, he told me that he had never once eaten at a table with others in the last 15 years. Eating was for him a solitary vice, something done almost furtively, with no pleasure attached to it and certainly not as a social event. The street was his principal dining room, as well as his trash can: and as far as food was concerned, he was more a hunter-gatherer than a man living in a highly evolved society."

March 02, 2006

Creation Report Redux

Y'know, if you don't think the creation account is historical because of science, then just say so, and quite telling me the ancient Israelites put all kinds of tensions and contextual cues in the story to indicate to people thousands of years later that this wasn't to be taken literally (and HOW much? Just Genesis 1? what about 2 and 3? and 5-11?)

Here's my baseless assertion about ancient societies and their expectations about creation myths: The priestly caste knew that these were just stories, but they wrote them with the full intention that the common folk would regard them as normal ordinary historical accounts. This enhanced their prestige and supported the social order.

And since God writes into that ANE context, he does the same thing: told some stories that look on the surface to be literally true because its beneficial to the commoners to believe the that way, but the religious caste always was to know better.

I, as an unordained man, will continue to regard the texts as God intended them for me: literal truth. If my priests need to believe otherwise, that's fine for them.

Viva la revolucion!

With pi day coming up on 3/14, the following paper: On The Rabbinical Exegesis of an Enhanced Biblical Value of pi is interesting.

It looks at the numerical value of QVH ("line") from 1 Kings 7:23 as a way of finding the decimal approximation of pi to be closer than the mere '3' on the surface of the text.

De script shun




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