My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"
29 September 2005
This Sunday we're taking part in the Right to Life protest; I think we'll have 50-60 people from our church participating, which is great, proportionally speaking. I haven't thought too much about abortion lately. In fact, I hate to think about it - it's such an ugly, hateful, selfish sin.
But I'm not sure we always do so great when we do get around talking about it. On a past issue of Mars Hill Audio journal, one commentator noted that the church does a good job talking about the evils of abortion, but we clearly don't have a thoughtful ethic of life yet. Most of us can't cogently articulate a Biblical approach to stem cell research or cloning or end-of-life issues.
On the flip side, we often miss the human side of abortion. The pastor in me can't help but wince whenever someone decries the "evil of abortion" without also promising forgiveness and peace through Jesus Christ for those who have had abortions. This is why I choose not to participate in the shock campaigns that roll through town every now and then: because they only address the problem, and anybody can address the problem. I can't avoid the conclusion that to slap someone with the rebuke of sin without offering (at the same time!) forgiveness through Christ is just mean. It's the answer that's so desperately needed.
I'm really excited about Art & Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts, by Hilary Brand and Adrienne Chaplin. My bookmark's only a couple chapters in, but so far it looks like a great book: balanced, easy to read, well-informed. It's got wide margins with really great quotes from other writers & artists. Here in an engineering/agriculture university town, we don't get as many artists as would suit me. But we do get some, and I really want to be a good pastor to them.
Once again, I'll prematurely promise a book review when I'm done.
Last Saturday night, Keith Magill came and did a workshop on what it means to be a seed family. This is Ref. Pres. lingo for being one of the laboring and founding families in a church plant - I think PCA calls them a "core group." He did an excellent job painting a picture both of the character and the cost of being a seed family. Hopefully, we'll get the audio up on our website soon.
I was incredibly encouraged at the great turnout - we had about 70 adults. Since we purposefully haven't done anything with church planting since I was ordained, it's always been sort of a mystery how deeply this church family is interested and passionate in daughtering another church in our area. Without reading too much into it, I think attendance was a good sign.
The next big decision is the "where?" or, more properly, "where first?" So, we're getting ready to send a survey out to the congregation to get a deeper and clearer sense of where the individual households are.
Housekeeping: I haven't figured out how to put a button to the side for RSS people, but if you add "atom.xml" to the end of my URL above, it should bring you to the RSS feed site and you can cut and paste that address into your reader. I think.
If this makes no sense to you, that's perfectly okay. Because I'm not sure it makes sense to me either.
28 September 2005
This is a pretty amazing site that would be cool for kids learning the alphabet.
When you're not at work, click here and marvel at the time and creativity some people have; watch the whole thing, it's pretty amazing.
Many kudos to ryan of cerbus who found my new favorite t-shirt I don't own yet.
26 September 2005
He Speaks to Me Everywhere, Meditations on Christianity and Culture
Philip Graham Ryken
A little bit back I wrote a review of Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey, a book which set out to be the new worldview textbook for the next generation of Christian thinkers. My thoughts about that book weren’t exactly negative, but they weren’t glowing, either; the biggest complaint I register against Pearcey’s book is that I believe it falls in between the cracks of readership. It was too philosophical for some, not enough for others, and it addressed so many topics that few of them were dealt with in real depth.
Okay, big shot, what would a good worldview book look like? Well, a lot like He Speaks to Me Everywhere, by Phil Ryken, pastor of 10th Presbyterian in Philadelphia. This is most decidedly not a how-to book on Christian worldview; rather, it’s an invitation to watch and listen as one with a thoroughly Biblical worldview peeks out the window at the world around us.
Ryken incorporates worldview reflections into 10th Presbyterian’s Sunday evening worship services, of which 50 were collected for this book. These reflections are grouped into 9 headings like science, family, leisure, politics, church history, the Bible, etc. Each essay is only two or three pages and they generally run like this: Ryken sets the story, whether contemporary or historical, shows why it’s an important story, and then answers the question “How would God have us address this story?”
The value in this book is not that you’ll gain an encyclopedic knowledge of culture or even theology, but that you’ll see how theology matters in real life. As Gene Veith says in the foreward, These meditations show that theology is not an abtruse, academic specialty, a matter of lofty abstractions. Rather, theology, in all of its doctrinal rigor, illuminates everything it touches. Amen. This is the heart of having a Biblical worldview: to have a mind enraptured with God and the truth He pours forth in the Word, and going forth with that truth, believing it to be the best way to live in and engage the world around us.
You’ll find some rather illuminating ideas in this book, and you’ll probably also finds some points to disagree with. A few of the essays read more like extended sermon illustrations than true meditations (i.e., ”The Brooklyn Dodgers and the Third Use of the Law”); but most of the essays are thoughtful, Biblical, and important. He works through topics like an abortion pill, prayer bans at public graduations, why Doctor Phil really should annoy us, 9/11, etc.
Should you buy this book? Yep, it’s a keeper and it’s fairly easy to get through. I read through it by doing two or three essays each day for a couple weeks. Besides being some good brain candy, it is most importantly Christian worldview done very well. And that’s something for which all of us need good teachers.
Christ alone, using common speech and through the agency of men not clever with their tongues, has convinced whole assemblies of people all the world over to despise death, and to take heed to the things that do not die, to look past the things of time and gaze on things eternal, to think nothing of earthly glory and to aspire only to immortality.
He manifested Himself by means of a body in order that we might perceive the Mind of the unseen Father. He endured shame from men that we might inherit immortality.
From the Scriptures you will learn also of His second manifestation to us, glorious and divine indeed, when He shall not come in lowliness but in His proper glory, no longer in humiliation but in majesty, no longer to suffer but to bestow on us all the fruit of His cross - the resurrection and incorruptibility.
The incarnation of Christ makes a difference for Mondays!
22 September 2005
That last phrase could also be translated, "feed on chaff" that is, both the wise and the fools feed their souls on something, the difference being what they feed upon. The understanding (note: the understanding know they don't know everything) feed on knowledge. Fools feed on folly, chaff, fluff, whatever tickles the senses but refuses to stick to the spiritual ribs.
Along those lines, I've been pondering the subject of entertainment, as a somewhat distinct entity from the arts. I've had several good conversations lately about the Church's role in the arts, but not any good conversations about the Christian's responsibility toward entertainment.
First off, here's a great lecture by William Edgar (prof. at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia) on a Biblical theology of entertainment. It is lengthy, but a whole lot of fun and worth the time. He's quite the renaissance man, being fluent in both French and English, being a great apologetics professor and an accomplished jazz pianist, etc. All which goes to show he's got some real credibility in this area.
Getting back to Proverbs 15:14, God's Word is clear, that we are not to feed on chaff, we are not to seek after and delight in meaningless things. Certainly most would admit that much of what passes for entertainment today is chaff; it is here today, in video stores tomorrow, and forgotten next week. Today's Billboard top 20 is next week's "Where are they now? One Hit Wonders!" Most of pop culture is designed to go down easy, to keep us from thinking deeply by appealing to the senses and shared experiences.
So, does this mean we are never to be entertained, never to seek a moment's reprieve from the pressures of life with something somewhat less important than, say, hurricane relief, something even slightly frivolous? I dont' think so, and neither does Dr. Edgar (ha! I got the big gun on my side); Scripture gives an account of humanity as a group that works & celebrates, that labors & rests, that goes to war & makes music and other pretty, fun things. Here's a quote from the Veritas Forum website: Dr. Edgar argues that entertainment itself can be differentiated from the entertainment industry, which is a manifestation of an over-paced society that no longer asks the question Why. Borrowing a phrase from sociologist Peter Berger, Dr. Edgar says that entertainment can be a “signal of transcendence.” It can be a respite from the often-insignificant busyness of life, it can be a “shock of recognition” that causes us to ponder important and meaningful questions, and it can point us toward our Creator.
Rather than laying down extra-Biblical rules in this area (thou shalt watch only 3 hours of t.v. per week), we do much better to think deeply on how we can glorify Christ in our choices for entertainment. First, we glorify Christ by getting our priorities straight. If we seek to be entertained when there's work to be done, important ministry to accomplish, when we're supposed to be doing something else (like, um, worshipping when the church gathers for worship - I'll call you on Super Bowl Sunday), then no matter how wholesome or non-corrupting our entertainment choice, we are not glorifying Jesus. I must confess that this is something I fight pretty much constantly, a deadly combination of laziness and selfishness.
Edgar defines enterainment not just as a break from this life, but as a tangible reminder of heaven, a call to look forward to days of complete joy and freedom from the constant pounding of this world. Not that there won't be good and productive work in heaven, but that eternity combined with freedom from the pressures of a sinful world equates to marvelous pursuit of God's glory in every direction we can imagine. If entertainment can serve this purpose, praise God! Let me add this, though: entertainment ought to be a momentary pull from this hard life, a pause and a breath of heavenly air...and not the other way around. If we ever get to feeling like life is interrupting our entertainment, boy have we missed the boat.
There's lots more talk to be talked, especially in regards to how exactly we go about choosing what will entertain us. So, let's talk - what do you think? How do you decide between options? How do you keep entertainment in balance with real life?
Pastor Long will complete his sermons on Matthew 24, preaching on "Signs of Judgments."
Yesterday, I was turned on to librarything.com. From everything I can tell, it is one of those rare, excellent uses of the internet - it catalogues, with relative ease, your library. Then, it makes your library "taggable" and searchable according to the tags you put on each book.
For an example, here's my library (so far - I have several books to add). The cost is free, up to 200 books. After that, it's a $10 flat-fee for a lifetime membership. For a while now my wife has been encouraging me to keep some sort of record of my library. This seems like a good place to start.
Also - if you scroll down this blog, on the right hand side, you'll see some random selections from my library, with links to both librarything and amazon.com. Pretty neat, huh? Huh?
20 September 2005
Life began in a garden with God; it will end, for those in Christ, in a far more glorious garden. In the meantime, we are apprentices to the Master Gardener, working and tilling the soil of this world, striving to approximate a little of that garden that was and shall be.
Part of such gardening is tilling the soil of our soul, walking the long, joyful highway of obedience. Christians are called to be faithful and obedient people, constantly dying to self, conforming our lives to the truths of Scripture. Along these lines, the two gardens give us our ideal.
In speaking and thinking of obedience, there is a great temptation to hold as our standard or ideal something other than Garden Life. Often we find our hearts comparing ourselves to others around us - "Praise God I'm not as bad as him or her." Or (perhaps more insidious), "This is obedience! I'm so far from where I used to be." An illustration: Last Friday I filled up the car with $2.62/gallon gas; yesterday, I got it for $2.63. And, to be honest, I was fairly pleased with myself on both accounts, because the going rate around here is still $2.79ish. What a sad state of affairs, being happy with paying $2.62 for gas...but as we say, it's all relative. Clearly the human heart has the power relativize both gas purchases and morality in the same manner.
While rejoicing always in our growth in grace, we must never hold other men or women as our standard. Our standard for obedience is Life in the Garden - this is why we pray, "Thy will be done, as earth as it is in heaven." Not, "as it is at my neighbor's house" or "as it was in the '50's" or "as it was before that blasted Industrial Revolution." In heaven; our ideal is the Garden.
This means that we, as apprentice gardeners, must maintain such a vision of the Garden to come that we also maintain a holy dissatisfaction with our garden. Do praise God for growth in grace; but never be satisfied. Never rest on laurels (yours or anyone else's). Never stop asking God for more grace, more weeding of your heart.
Coincidentally, this is why I often hesitate to call myself a conservative. Were you to know everything I believed about this and that, you might certainly label me a political conservative. But there's an inherent problem in the ideology of conservatism: it's far too easily satisfied.
From my view, conservatism looks only to conserve, rather than to plant and weed and grow and harvest. Politically, conservatism would be happy if it managed to move our country back a few decades in its moral decline. But just as personal obedience must hold a Heavenly standard, a nation's righteousness must never be measured against the past (whether its past is somewhat godly or not). A nation's righteousness - a nation's garden - must be modeled on the Garden. No other standard can or will suffice.
19 September 2005
In the meantime, we have opportunity to live here in this place like we will live one day in the garden. That's why Proverbs 15:4 can say that a healing tongue is a tree of life.
There's at least two possible impressions of "garden" you might have. Both can be illustrated from my childhood. Many times when I think of gardening, I think of my parents' large vegetable garden where weed pulling became my unwilling pasttime. (It was a good garden, though.) This is definitely not the impression we are to have of the Biblical theme of being in the Garden of God. Recently, my parents converted that garden into a beautiful flower garden. So when we go and visit these days, we can stand in the garden, look at the flowers, and have a sense of peace and comfort. Now that is what the Biblical ideal of the Garden should make us think of - the peace and rest of strolling through botanical gardens or a forest. It's the peace that reminds us that this world isn't our final home.
We followed that up by noting that when our words are what Christ would have them to be, we bring part of the Garden, part of heaven, here to this fallen world. And this is another place where my parents' can illustrate. Their home is almost constantly open to people; whether from inside or outside the church, if you stick around long enough, they'll be hosting someone for dinner or a party or a Bible study. And because they know how to speak words of gentleness, healing words, people walk away refreshed. Why? Because, even if they don't know it, they've just had a little bit of heaven. If they're Christians, they've just experienced a little bit of home.
17 September 2005
Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler
The great apologist Greg Bahnsen spoke often about the myth of neutrality which we must work to tear down in the minds of others. That myth goes like this: It is vital to take a “neutral stance, a non-committal attitude”* toward, well, anything really important. Whether trust in Scripture or thoughts on bioethical issues or philosophical beliefs – the new moral high ground, it seems, is neutrality. You will be best received if you are able to communicate an air of being “above it all,” unaffected by anything as corrupting as conviction.
Enter the New Tolerance. Built upon the myth of neutrality, the new tolerance is how that myth comes to us in the real world. Proving and explaining this new tolerance dogma is the goal of this 1998 book by the same name (Tyndale Pub.).
The authors begin by carefully explaining how the new tolerance is different from the old tolerance. The old tolerance meant that we could respect people and bear with their beliefs, while not being forced to call those beliefs true or valid. The old tolerance says we live in peace, despite differences, we accept others regardless of race, creed, etc.
The new tolerance, however, is based on a different assumption about truth: “Truth is relative to the community in which a person participates. And since there are many human communities, there are necessarily many different truths.” (
McDowell and Hostetler use the majority of their book to prove that this new tolerance really is the problem they say it is. Toward that end, the book is chock full of newspaper clippings, testimonials from students and parents, and so on. Identifying and pinpointing the problem is really the strength of this book. Fixing the problem isn’t; when it comes to the chapter on “The More Excellent Way”, the authors have little to offer other than “love your neighbor.” While this is a great and true commandment, they deny the fact that the missionfield is also a battlefield – that we have to be ready to tear down strongholds and defend the faith, graciously and lovingly.
The New Tolerance is effective in proving and defining the problem. It is not so great in helping to overcome it or even prepare to meet it. For that task, we do better to read authors like Greg Bahnsen, Larry Pratt, R.C. Sproul, jr., and Cornelius Van Til. Should you buy this book? If anecdotal evidence helps you grasp a situation more comprehensively and you’re a person who interacts with the tolerance dogma on a regular basis, this would be a helpful book. If you’re already convinced, you should probably move on to authors who will help you prepare for battle.
* From Always Ready, Greg Bahnsen, 3. I must say I dislike the use of the word “myth” in this way, because it implies that every myth is false. Some myths are good myths, reflecting Biblical truths…but I digress.
15 September 2005
I get the Word of the Day emailed to me from Dictionary.com. Yesterday's word is a new favorite: afflatus (uh-FLAY-tuhs) noun: A divine imparting of knowledge; inspiration. Here is the etymology: Afflatus is from Latin afflatus, past participle of afflare, "to blow at or breathe on," from ad-, "at" + flare, "to puff, to blow." Other words with the same root include deflate (de-, "out of" + flare); inflate (in-, "into" + flare); soufflé, the "puffed up" dish (from French souffler, "to puff," from Latin sufflare, "to blow from below," hence "to blow up, to puff up," from sub-, "below" + flare); and flatulent.
It tickled me because it's a great, descriptive word to describe God's process of imparting the Scritpures to us. There's always been a little controvery about how to translate the word "theopneustos" (2 Tim. 3:16) - often it's just rendered "inspired", but it more literally means "expired" that is, "breathed out by." So the Scriptures have been breathed out by God. They are an afflatus from our King. Neat, huh?
I'm greatly digging Athanasius' On the Incarnation (book review coming soon, d.v.). While discussing why death on the cross was the best and only option for Christ's death, he argues that the crucifixion proved Christ's victory over the worst, thus every other, death. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death's defeat.
14 September 2005
(117A in the Crown and Covenant Psalter is our Psalm of the quarter)
Theme The promise of the gospel is worldwide conquest. The power of the gospel is the greatness and mercy of our God.
Notes This shortest of the Psalter's songs, which first strikes us as a simple call to worship, might be one of the best expressions of the hope and joy of the gospel anywhere in Scripture.
Both phrases of the first verse are indeed a call to worship – but not the call to worship one might expect. Here the psalmist calls every nation, every people to praise the great Lord. While this may seem fairly average to us, it would have been, for the Hebrews, an amazing statement of God's mercy to more than just
Such a universal call to worship assumes the work of a great Savior, a reconciler between man and God. For only the work of Christ was great enough to extend to every people and nation. Furthermore, this verse is a sure thing, a promise of what Christ plans to accomplish with His kingdom – see how it's reflected in Revelation 5:9-10.
The second verse answers the “why” and “what” of verse 1. Why should we praise God? We are given two attributes of God and two descriptions of those adjectives. First, we praise because God's steadfast love (lovingkindness, mercy) is great – “great” as in “strong and mighty to achieve His purpose.” Second, we praise God because His faithfulness knows no end. Faithfulness is something we look for in friends, in husbands and wives, in employees...but we look so hard for it precisely because it is so rare. And nowhere is lasting, unbroken faithfulness found, other than God, whose very history with His people proves that faithfulness.
These two reasons, God's mercy and faithfulness, ought to be the heart of our song to Him. And, while the Israelites certainly knew His mercy and faithfulness, the church of the new covenant has them embodied and lived powerfully in our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Application The very shortness of this Psalm is itself a call from God to meditate deeply on the Father's mercy and faithfulness through Christ. Remember again all that God has done for you. Parents, encourage your kids to see Scripture in light of God's mercy and faithfulness to His people; tell them your testimony, lead them in family worship to rejoicing in God’s great works for His glory and His people. And, for the mercy and faithfulness of Jesus, let us praise the Lord!
11 September 2005
Graeme made the point that we ought to pray, as Paul did, for the relief of weakness. But more important is our response to God's response. God didn't really say "no" to Paul's request; it was more of a "no...but". He denied the request, but gave a much better answer instead. It strikes me that this is how we ought to hear all answers of prayer that differs from our request. When we pray for something and God says "no," we must remember that it's never just "no"...it's always "no...but My grace is sufficient."
Paul heard God when He said Christ's grace was sufficient. He heard and believed and consequently rejoiced in his weakness that Christ would be lifted high in his life. Some of our weaknesses are more visible than others (physical limitations & disabilities top that list)...but we all will be put through weakness, by the gracious hand of God. Let's pray that we'll respond with rejoicing, that the central passion of our lives will be the glory of God and thus that we'll be able to rejoice in weakness which ends in His glory.
There is a truly excellent article by James Tonkowich on the Christian ethics of death in the May/June issue of byFaith magazine, which is the PCA's new publication. [Note: I'm pretty impressed with the couple of issues I've seen of this magazine.] I encourage you to read the whole article; it's not too long. But if you can't, here are a couple high points:
- The author makes the point that suffering must be expected in this life and fallen world. It is part of the Curse, and even part of the answer (Christ's suffering). But yet we fear suffering, and that fear of suffering often leads into unbiblical and thus unethical thinking concerning end-of-life issues.
- From Gilber Meilaender in First Things: We may refuse treatments that are either useless or excessively burdensome. In doing so, we choose not death, but one among several possible lives open to us. We do not choose to die, but, rather, how to live, even if while dying, even if a shorter life than some other lives that are still available for our choosing. The author then goes on to give several excellent examples of applying this Biblical, while admittedly murky, ethic.
- The above quote is why some may rightly reject certain treatments for their illness: either because the treatment is excessively painful and doesn't have a good enough chance for success, or because the treatment is far too expensive to be a valid consideration.
- But...if I decide not to treat because it seems a burden just to have the life this person has [or that I currently have], then I am taking aim not at the burdensome treatment, but at the life. -Meilaender [This is where the Terry Schiavo controversy comes in: most arguments aimed at ending her life were not based on the burdensome-ness of the treatment - it was only food and water! - but on the ideal that "that's no way to live." We are not the Creator and not allowed to decide that.]
- Continuing the previous point, there's great and grave danger in proclaiming any life unworthy of living ('lebensunverten Lebens' is the big-word for the day). Because we are made in God's image, every life is worth living - and if we can imagine a category of life not worth living, we have fallen fast and far from Scripture's hope and truth.
- The author also makes the point that only the state is allowed to "bear the sword." If we have doctors and family members deciding willy-nilly that this person will live, that person won't (only based on my opinion of what a good life is), we are usurping authority given only to the government: that of taking life that could otherwise live.
- Finally, the author says, we do live in a culture of death. What does this mean for us? The challenge for the Church is to speak into that culture not merely with words, but by caring with compassion for the sick, the disabled, the weak, and the dying. In this way we bear witness to the truth that each life has value, each man and woman has dignity regardless of his or her condition, prognosis, or stage of life.
09 September 2005
so...some more website questions (input is welcome):
How much is too much - especially on a church's website?
Who is the intended audience(s) of our website? How does that change/impact content & style?
How much should we aim to communicate about the church on the site?
If we podcast our sermons off the website, would you use it?
Now for the Friday funnies:
Is it time for a snackpack? (turn volume down first and don't stay too long - it'll make for a headache)
Because origami is cooler than, um, that other thing that's cool.
Seriously, it's as cool as cold stuff, and other bad analogies.
That is all; have a blessed Sabbath rest!
08 September 2005
The question remains: Why is there so much down-to-earth stuff in Proverbs, so many pieces of advice that would fit perfectly into almost any worldview/religion? Well, that point is the point. God is passionate that, through the wisdom of Proverbs, the way His children live open doors for ministry and the gospel. So He wants us to be nice and not get people mad at us (15:1); why? Yes, because He cares for our well-being; but also because His plan was always for His people to shine forth the truth of the gospel in every mundane and "non-spiritual" part of life. The most average, normal parts of our lives, if directed by Christ, have the potential to become places where people are cared for, where others see that Christ makes little, everyday differences.
[Note: I don't really believe anything is unspiritual. In fact, the whole book of Proverbs is a great reason to reject the idea that something can be unspiritual, unaffected by a relationship - or lack thereof - with Christ.]
07 September 2005
Anyhoo, today and tomorrow, he's posting what he taught His class at Highview Baptist Church last Sunday about the hurricane. This article highlights the message of Elihu, the only friend of Job who doesn't get rebuked by God, and then hits on God's "where were you" speech to Job. One of the themes in these passages is God's complete control over storms. So, if this is something on your mind, take and read.
06 September 2005
The session puts it as simply as this: We need to church plant because we are outgrowing the type of ministry that we are passionate about reproducing. Not that we're against big churches, but that a church focused on discipleship and man-to-man/woman-to-woman/family-to-family ministry is hard to manage once it gets above a certain number.
Well, there are probably more good answers to "why?". I came across this article today by Tim Keller, pastor and church planter in New York City. It's worth a read, especially if you're a part of our church family here. He makes a good argument that church planting is essential to fulfilling the great commission and that it's the single most effective method of evangelism and cultural transformation. You may have some quibbles here and there, but it's quite the engaging and motivational article.
04 September 2005
I'm ever-so-slowly working my way through The Mind of the Maker, by Dorothy L. Sayers. Here are some interesting notes & quotes from the chapter "The Image of God."
- In what way are we made in the image of God? It cannot be a physical likeness (because both men and women have the same "image"), so it must be something else. A Biblical case can be made for things like knowledge, righteousness, and holiness being that which is similar between us and God (see Col. 3:10 & Eph. 4:24). But Sayers points out that when this idea of the image of God in man is first mentioned, what we see most vividly about God is that He is a Creator. And thus is born the idea that the image of God in man is primarily that of creativity and imagination; we are made in God's image as creators like the Creator. (On this note, you might see this article I linked to a while back about George MacDonald and the Christian imagination.)
- The next question she addresses is how we know things: We can explain nothing in terms of itself, but only in terms of other things. This is to say that all human knowledge is analogical; we know what we know by tying it to and defining it by other things; only when we know something by direct experience do we say "I never knew what fear/love/hatred meant until I experienced this." So, most human knowledge operates by analogy. This includes our knowledge of God. This helps explain why God is so often spoken of in Scripture by human terms, despite not being human; the two examples given are God as Father and God as Creator. These ideas work because we have knowledge of earthly fathers and can extend the better parts of fatherhood into our conception of God. Likewise, we understand something of creation by the labor of men and women, so in our minds we extend the power of creatorship to the Creator. [This brings up the question in my mind: Does God use the earthly reality of fatherhood and creatorship to help explain what we would otherwise not be able to know? Or does earthly fatherhood and creatorship reflect heavenly realities? I lean toward the second, while Sayers leans toward the first...I think.]
- There are two types of human creation. The first, more common, is creation which demands destruction. For a carpenter to create a table, he must first commit an act of destruction by sawing down a tree and using that material that was to create something that will be. Secondly, though, is human creation which requires no such destruction, only assimilation. This is what the artist does: he or she takes what God has given in the world and, using their God-like creativity, creates something new without removing any old material from the world. We all do this to some extent; whenever we write or draw or play an instrument, etc. If all this is true, then it is to the creative artists that we should naturally turn for an exposition of what is meant by those credal formulae which deal with the nature of the Creative Mind. Sayers is talking about those creeds which profess faith in "God...maker of heaven and earth." From whom can we gain the best insight into what it means to be a maker? Those whose making is most like the Maker's; we have much to learn from the artists.
- To enter comments now, you'll have to do one of those "type the word you see in the box" tests; this is because I've been getting Spam comments and they are irksome to my soul. Sorry if the change is bothersome.
- I've added a new "news" link to newsmap - it's a really cool, more visual way of getting the daily news.
03 September 2005
Tearing Down Strongholds
R. C. Sproul, Jr.
Scripture gives us several metaphors for the identity of the church: we are a body, we are sheep, we are a family, and we are also an army. Many of us, bristling at the thought of being thought of as an army, typically tend toward one of the softer images, and that’s okay. But there are reasons we’re told to put on armor like a soldier…mostly because there are battles to fight. This book is some ammo for our fights.
The title for R. C., Jr.’s book comes from 2 Corinthians 10:4 – For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. The theory goes that just as our weapons are spiritual, our battles are primarily spiritual as well. They often end in “ism” and tempt us to look at God’s world through grossly distorted lenses. Thus, we must tear down the strongholds – first in our minds and hearts, second, in the minds of those around us.
“What are those strongholds?” you ask. Thanks for asking: Sproul, Jr. moves through humanism, positivism, naturalism, behaviorism, pragmatism, skepticism, relativism, and more. (If you lack a definition for one of these –isms, don’t fret; read the book and you’ll recognize exactly what each one is.) For each, he deftly gets to the heart of the folly with some amount of wit and fun, thus arming us for similar discussions.
The writing is fun and moves along quickly. The book isn’t too long to sink a reader and it’s understandable enough for valid use in high school on up. So, should you buy this book? Yeah, it’s really good. Especially for you college students – this will really help you understand those around and help you interact with them in a gracious and truthful way.
Caveat: R. C. Sproul, Jr. is a convinced evidentialist (vs. presuppositionalist), for those of you that care about that sort of thing. I myself am a convinced presuppositionalist (believing that defending the faith is best done beginning with the truth of Scripture instead of my own reason), but I found the vast majority of the book extremely helpful.
01 September 2005
Singing the psalms isn't always super-easy, especially to those who haven't grown up with them and aren't so familiar with the tunes or content (it's sort of like digesting a whole feast after dieting for a few years). Thus some have suggested that I bloggerize what Psalms we'll be singing the coming Sunday, in hopes that you will be better prepared to worship with us.
This is obviously most helpful to those worshipping with us in Lafayette; but I have no hidden intentions of marginalizing any of you gentle readers. Note: the Psalm selections are out of the Crown & Covenant Psalter.
For Sunday, September 4
Pastor Long continues his study in John, preaching this week on the bread of life.