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Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15b-16a ESV)

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5/04/2005

Going Out of Business!!! 

I'm shutting this site down!!

The template is coming together over at the new place, so I'm going to stop posting here. You want the new stuff, head over there.

I'll keep this site up, just because I may keep the archives up here rather than move everything over to the other site. Some posts will move: anything that is part of a series will be over there. Not sure if the dates will be the same or not -- have to mess with the MT interface and see hwat happens.

The new template is better -- you won't (or shouldn't) have problems with font colors there like some people did here. Right now, the blogrolls are pretty much the same as they are here, but I'm looking at making the font smaller and some other options to give the new site a cleaner look. The Feedburner feed should stay the same -- I think I can change the feed that it syndicates. If not, I'll let everyone know about the new feed address.

The "NASCAR panel" over there on the left will not be making the move. Once I get my copy of GIMP working again, I'll make some blog buttons (including the highly-anticipated SBC Bloggers button) that will match the color scheme of the new blog. Amy from Prochein Amy has done all the graphic work so far on the new template -- and I must say, the new title graphic looks great. Go tell her how much you like hwat she did!! I could have never done anything like she has done.

Well, that's about it from here. I got started on Blogger just about a year ago, and now I'm making the step up to the next level. Moveable Type is a lot more flexible, and nicer to work with, AND gives me more options. But I still recommend Blogger to anyone who wants to start a blog, to see how much they like doing it.


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4/23/2005

Prayer Request 

On top of everything else I have going on this week (paper, work, etc.), and everything I had going on last week (paper, work, etc.) I am preaching tomorrow morning. I appreciate everyone's prayers tomorrow as I preach on Genesis 3, and the results of the Fall.

It's been interesting -- each class I've had this week had something to contribute to the subject. Especially the discussion of penal substitutionary atonement we started in Systematic Theology yesterday. I ended up adding an extra point on my outline after that class.

BTW, I've sort of moved in at the new blog. I goofed up when I requested the URL, and right now it's http://piewview.mu.nu. I asked if I could change it, but I don't know if it's too late or not. I've got the bare bones template set up -- still have to add some color, my blogrolls, etc. But I'll be able to do a lot after May 6 -- when finals are over. I should be all moved in by mid-May. I'll let everyone know about the new URL and the RSS feed address -- though if you've subscribed to the Feedburner feed, that should stay the same.

{EDIT -- The URL has been fixed. The Future Home of View from the Pew}


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4/22/2005

Addition to the 'Roll 

I've added the ESV blog to the blogroll. Unfortunately, I did it too late to get the free Bible. :(
Oh, well. It's still a worthwhile blog, and an outstanding translation. Maybe they'll have a contest to get one of the Study Bibles when they come out.


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Still Here! 

... but I'll be pretty quiet for the next week. Major paper due, and I have a pretty good bit of work ahead of me.

Might get a post in on the whole Al Mohler "pope is not a biblical office" fiasco today, might not. Dr. Mohler's right, btw, and it's pretty bad when a US Senator has no more of a grasp on history that he didn't know that there were Christian leaders who didn't recognize the validity of the office of Pope. If you click the link above, it will take you to Dr. Mohler's site, where you can read a copy of the letter that started it all, and get the full story.


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4/19/2005

Habemus Papem 

The white smoke has been sent through the chimney at the Sistine Chapel.

Cardinal Ratzinger is the new Pope. Pope Benedict XVI.
Once the archbishop of Munich and for many years prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Ratzinger, 77, is one of the most powerful men in the Vatican and is widely acknowledged as a leading theologian. (from CNN.com)

And of course, fans of Saint Malachy will be thrilled at his choice of name, since the prophecy states that his motto (actually the phrase that suits him) is Gloria olivae, and the olive is the traditional symbol of the Benedictine monks. Most people figured that the new Pope would be a Benedictine. Right now, I'm not sure what order Ratzinger is, but the name choice makes it a moot point, especially as far as the prophecy fans are concerned.


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4/16/2005

The 'View From the Pew' Get a Clue Award 

I now have two awards -- the Pewie for Conspicuous Intolerant Tolerance (and I've changed the name of that one at least twice!), which I've awarded twice now, and the new VftP Get a Clue Award for conspicuous misuse of a religious term.

The very first Clewie goes to Byron Williams at workingforchange.com. Byron calls himself a fundamentalist Christian who "trusts women to make the right choices with their bodies, supports marriage equality and opposes the death penalty." He then procedes to illustrate exactly how little he know about the history of the term fundamentalist in its Christian context.

The term fundamentalist was coined in reaction to increasingly liberal theology which was infecting mainline denominations in the early 20th century. There is a very clearly stated creed (though many fundamentalists would cringe at that term) -- a statement of beliefs that everyone who is a fundamentalist Christian would agree with.

From the preface of this work:
In 1909 God moved two Christian laymen to set aside a large sum of money for issuing twelve volumes that would set forth the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and which were to be sent free to ministers of the gospel, missionaries, Sunday School superintendents, and others engaged in aggressive Christian work throughout the English speaking world. A committee of men who were known to be sound in the faith was chosen to have oversight of the publication of these volumes. Rev. Dr. A.C. Dixon was the first Executive Secretary of the Committee, and upon his departure for England Rev. Dr. Louis Meyer was appointed to take his place. Upon the death of Dr. Meyer the work of the Executive Secretary devolved upon me. We were able to bring out these twelve volumes according to the original plan. Some of the volumes were sent to 300,000 ministers and missionaries and other workers in different parts of the world.
Fundamentalism is about doctrinal purity, and consistency with "the faith once delivered to the saints." Admittedly, many modern "fundamentalists" are a far cry from the original writers of the books, and many have strayed from the fundamentals as originally stated. And, also admittedly, modern fundamentalists (and not a few evangelicals) have been a bit light in showing the love of Christ to the world. And far too many are focusing their attention on the political process to the exclusion of evangelism.

But fundamentalism, and evangelicalism for that matter, is far more than "to be living examples of a strict adherence to love, justice, hope and opportunity, thereby authentically being fundamentalist Christians in word and deed." If that is fundamentalism, then there was no difference between the original fundamentalists and the liberals that they fought against. Any student of history will tell you that that is certainly not the case.


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4/15/2005

"Christian" Extremist? 

Double Toothpicks has a MUST READ post about Eric Rudolph.

Eric Rudoplh is being billed as a "fundamentalist Christian." That is a lie, plain and simple. I cannot believe that the MSM would do such little research that they wouldn't know the difference between a fundamentalist Christian and a member of the Christian Identity movement. It seems to me that the information is readilly available, and the differences are obvious. Christian Identity denies that Christ died for "whosoever believes on Him" and is a racist organization. They may agree with conservative Christians on the abortion issue, but they have been roundly (and rather vocally) condemned by all evangelicals as a heretical sect.

I'm not usually this paranoid, but it seems to me that "the press" is intentionally downplaying the fact that CI is anathema to orthodox Christians, and emphasizing the "Christian" part of the name. Trust me -- Christian Identity has no real Christian identity.


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4/10/2005

Modern Man and Galatians 

Cruising though the pages of The Sacred Sandwich (which has been on the left-side links for a while now), I ran across this article in their archives.

It's funny, but aren't we really like that? Don over at Locusts and Wild Honey recently critiqued one of Joel Osteen's sermons. I won't rehash what he said (though I agree with him) -- go there and read if you want the straight story. Read the comments, too, and compare them with the satire at The Sacred Sandwich.

It's frightening when real life so closely mirrors satire. I think that's why satire is so important. And that's why I like satire.


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Beyond the Shadowlands: Introduction 

{NOTE: This is the first part of my blogging review of the book Beyond the Shadowlands: C.S. Lewis on Heaven and Hell by Dr. Wayne Martindale. I received this book through Mind and Media as a gift from the publisher (Crossway), who donated the books for the reviewers.}

I am looking forward to this book, just from reading the author's Introduction. This quote will give you an idea why: "Somewhere in the back of my mind, quite unconsciously, Heaven was an extended, boring church service like those I had not yet learned to appreciate on earth -- with this exception: You never got to go home to the roast beef dinner."

Kids do tend to look at Heaven in just that way. Unfortunately, our misconceptions of Heaven often continue into adulthood. This book promises to skewer those myths, and the myths associated with Hell as well, and show how Lewis portrayed the reality of Heaven and Hell, and the myths we often have about them, in his books.

I've decided to blog about this book as I read it, and not simply do one single post on it -- mainly because I think the book deserves more than just a one-shot post. I think that it is very important for Christians to have a proper idea of what Heaven and Hell really are, and to know what the potential troubles are with incorrect assesments of both places. I plan on spending at least one post on the fist section of the book (which details seven myths people believe about Heaven), and one on the third (detailing six popular myths about Hell). The second and fourth sections, in which Dr. Martindale explores Lewis' treatment of Heaven and Hell in his fiction, may require more than one post each. When I'm finished, I'll offer one post giving my own opinion of the book, and will add links in each post to the other posts in the 'series' so that it will be easier to jump back and forth between posts.


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4/08/2005

A Call for Help 

Not for me, this time!

Mind and Media is looking for some bloggers who want to read and write about what they read.

It's really a great gig -- closest thing many of us will ever come to getting paid to blog. You volunteer to read a book, and blog about it. In exchange, you get a free book -- and rumor has it there may be other incentives down the road.

Crossway is using M&M, as is Baker, so you won't be getting self-published books from people you've never heard of. Check out the Mind and Media site to see what books are available.

If you're interested, head here and take the survey -- and tell them I sent you!

I got my first book today (as you can see over on the left side of the page), and I'll be doing a blog entry after each chapter, and one when I'm finished giving my overall impression of the book. I'm looking forward to this one!


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4/07/2005

My New Favorite Site 

Ok, I was looking through my referals and found that someone got here through a search for Chili Beef Ramen. Intrigued, I checked it out to see what other Ramen goodness I could find.

I struck Ramen gold. The Official Ramen Homepage has recipes and everything -- even dessert Ramen!! Go there and check it out -- you'll be glad you did.

Now I have to pick something out for lunch ...


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4/06/2005

Move in Progress 

I'm working on relocating to my mu.nu site. Total redesign of the blog -- and not the one I was showing everyone. I think I'm going for a little cleaner look.

I have no idea how long it will take -- I'm still working on papers for school, and I'm preaching April 24th in the morning service, so I kinda need to have something prepared for that. Then I have finals.

But my goal is to have it done soon -- hopefully by the 15th of April. I've looked into having someone do the design for me, but my finances are too tight right now to get someone who really knows what they're doing -- maybe next time.


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4/04/2005

On Death and Dying 

What a pleasant topic, huh? But with recent events, it has been on my mind a bit lately.

Contrast the two recent deaths for a moment. Terri Shiavo, for years on death's door. She's suffered, she's been through therapy and been withdrawn from therapy. What did she want? Who really knows -- from what I saw, it didn't really matter. It was about what everyone else wanted, simply because she didn't really make her wishes known to enough people, and in an official way.

John Paul II, the Pope. Leader of millions (billions?) of Catholics around the world. His health has been fading for the past few years, and some people had expected him to step down and retire. He wouldn't. He wanted to spend his last years doing what God called him to do -- what his heart's desire was.

That's all any of us really want, isn't it? In the words of a Steve Taylor song, it's better off to burn out than to melt away. I think ultimately people were upset about Terri's death because she, like so many of us, didn't get to burn out. She lived her last years in agony, and never had the opportunity to do things that she probably wanted to do. We cling to hope.

Christians don't fear death. We aren't all that eager for it, either, but we don't fear it. Death not the end; it's the end of the beginning. But this life is sacred. It is a gift from God to us, and we need to make the most of it. We need to be busy.

We cling to life because we see how much more we need to do. We cling to life because we want to accomplish more -- whether it's for God, in the case of Christians, or for ourselves. We celebrate the life of the Pope because he burned out -- he was active until he absolutely couldn't be active any more, and then he died. He are angered at the death of Terri Shiavo because we feel that she was robbed of something -- we want her life to have been more, because we want that for ourselves. We want our lives to have mattered.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
(Heb 9:27-28 ESV)

We all die. In the end, it's not how we die that matters, but how we lived -- and Who we lived for.


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News from the Pew 

Ok, maybe not news. Maybe more like shameless self promotion, but titling a post "Shameless Self Promotion from the Pew" just doesn't have the same ring to it, you know?

I've set up a "bookstore" at Lulu.com, where you will be able to get PDF copies of whatever papers I've written for school for free. Why would you want them? I don't know, but they're free, so you won't be throwing any money away.

The only thing I have up there right now is my last Systematic II paper, covering creatio ex nihilo, or creation out of nothing. I got an A on it, so the grader thought it was a good paper -- I wasn't too sure when I finished it, but the grader is a doctoral student, so I assume he's a better judge than I am. You can get it in PDF format for free, or if you REALLY want to spend money, you can buy it in booklet form for $4.85. I don't make any money off it at all, and neither does Lulu -- they only make a profit off books that the author makes a profit on.

The main reason I'm doing this is that I had told some people before that I'd post some of my papers, and this is an easy way of doing it -- especially since I really don't have server space right now. Lulu's free, and it's a pretty good way of getting your writing out to people. AND it's easy to get started.

So go download the thing, and let me know what you think.

Unless you think it stinks -- then I'd rather not know (lol).


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4/02/2005

Why I Read and Use the ESV 

{Tip o' the hat to Adrian Warnock}

This article/essay/message from John Piper sums up my feelings pretty well. I still often use the King James or New King James when preaching, simply because that is what most, if not all, of the people I am speaking to are using. In my personal study, I use the ESV almost exclusively -- I also will use the NASB and my MacArthur NKJV Study Bible, but the ESV is my main resource when I'm studying. If I was the pastor of a church, the pew Bibles would be ESV.

I'm not anti-NIV. I'm not anti-KJV (though I've been accused of hating the KJV by some on the Fundamentalist Forums. I understand enough of the history of the English translations of the Bible to know that the ESV is simply part of the entire process -- a process that the KJV actually started. It's a process of discovery -- of learning new things about the ancient languages, finding texts and evaluating their reliability, and then using this new knowledge to make the Scriptures clearer to Christians.

As I said, I'm not anti-NIV, but it's never been my favorite translation. It's not a totally dynamic equivalence translation -- I'd put it at about a 5 on a 10-point scale (1 is total dynamic equivalence, 10 is total literal translation). {Incidentally, it's hard to find a site that gives a decent definition of DE. A LOT of what I found when trying to find that link were places that think Gail Ripplinger is a good Bible scholar!} A 1 would be translations like The Message, while a 10 would be an intralinear Bible.

My Bible preferences would fall between an 8 and 9. I want something readable, but something that is faithful to the original wording and intent. Takes more study effort with that kind of Bible, since they often don't interpret idioms for you -- you have to do that yourself. But it's worth it.

I also agree with Piper that some paraphrasing or interpreting will always be necessary in translating the Bible. My goal is to find the translation that does this as little as possible, and I think the ESV does that well.


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News from the Pew 

First of all, slow posting this week, and probably slow posting for the month of April. I have a 10-13 page sermon due for systematic theology on the 22nd, and a 20-page paper on Andrew Fuller and Assurance of Salvation due on the 28th. Of course, I've actually started writing neither of them, so I have a bit of work to do. At least I've done the research on these already.

Second, there is a move coming. I mentioned before that I was hoping to get a mu.nu blog -- I got it! So I will be moving there in the near future. I'll let everyone know the details when it happens -- including the new address AND RSS feed URI.

AND sometime this weekend, or maybe next week, my wife will be blogging for me. She said she had something, and was going to post on Friday, but she didn't, so I'm hoping she'll do it this week sometime. From what she told me, it sounds like a pretty good post.


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3/28/2005

A Gem From Kristof 

Hate to say this, but Kristof has nailed it this time.

I especially like this quote -- I think it's particularly relevant.
Yet conservative Christians in the U.S. should take heed. Christianity is thriving where it faces obstacles, like repression in China or suspicion of evangelicals in parts of Latin America and Africa. In those countries where religion enjoys privileges - Britain, Italy, Ireland, Spain or Iran - that establishment support seems to have stifled faith.
That's worth remembering in the debates about school prayers or public displays of the Ten Commandments: faith doesn't need any special leg up. Look at where religion is most vibrant today, talk to those who walk five hours to services, and the obvious conclusion is that what nurtures faith is not special privileges but rather adversity.
Sanguis martyrum—semen christianorum-- the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians. Thank you, Tertullian. Maybe one of these days, the Church will listen to you.


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Downright Pigheaded 

I don't like PETA much at all. That should come as no great shock to anyone, given my carnivorous tendencies -- I won't be eating any veggie Ramen any time soon. I ate meat on March 15 (International Eat an Animal for PETA Day), but that wasn't much of a special event for me; I regularly consume copious quantities of cooked animal. If God hadn't meant for us to eat animals, He wouldn't have made them so darn tasty, after all.

PETA is known for it's poor taste (pardon the expression), and it's decidedly antagonistic attitude toward Christians (the What Would Jesus Eat campaign comes to mind here, with its vegetarian Jesus -- PETA is ignorant of Passover tradition and the associated consumption of lamb, I suppose). But their stunt this Easter takes the cake, and has earned them my neverending scorn.

This picture really does say a thousand words. Jesus Christ with the head of a pig. My contempt cannot be expressed at this type of sacrilege. I'd say that we should write to PETA, but they really don't care what we think. This is just another illustration of the contempt in which the loony left holds Christians of all stripes and persuasions.


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3/27/2005

More Ramen Goodness! 

{Edit: My wife has officially dubbed me Iron Chef Ramen. Food Network, here I come!}

Figured I'd post this one while everyone else was napping. TWO Ramen recipes for your culinary pleasure.


Chili Pepper Ramen -- Same as the Jerk Ramen, but substitute chili powder for the jerk seasoning, and add about a half-tablespoon of crushed red pepper close to the end, right before you take the noodles off the stove. NOT as spicy as you might think -- I may put in more chili powder next time.

Lemon Pepper Ramen -- I mentioned this in the comments to the Jerk Ramen recipe, but some of you may have missed it. Substitute lemon pepper seasoning (I used Kroger brand, but I'm sure McCormicks makes it as well) for the jerk seasoning. It tastes great!

Stay tuned -- who knows what Ramen madness I will experiment with next!!!


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Happy Easter 

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."
So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).
Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' "Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord" -- and that he had said these things to her.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld."

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe."Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
(Joh 20:1-31 ESV)


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3/26/2005

My Blogiversary 

Thursday, March 31, 2005 marks my one-year blogiversary.

Wow. One year of inflicting my rantings, opinions, and insights-of-dubious-value on unsuspecting readers all over the world. And I do mean all over the world. I think the one thing that has shocked me the most is how many different countries have been represented by visitors to my blog. Obviously, the US and Canada are the most represented, but I've had visitors from as far away as Australia (82) and the UK (162). Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Iran(!), Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) -- 77 different countries all together.

I've been King of the Blogs. I've been in Carnivals and Symphonies. I've been in heated discussions with people I'll never meet. And I've made some friends -- even though I've never seen most of them in real life.

I've noticed that I write more now than I used to. I say more now in one day than I said in a week back in the "old days." I think that isn't going to continue as a trend -- otherwise, my blog will be huge, and nobody will read it anymore.

So, if you want to wish me a Happy Blogoversary, leave me a comment. Better still, buy me something off my Amazon wish list! (hehehe)

There ARE some cheap things on there. Really.


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And So It Ends -- And A New Pewie Award Winner 

LSU 90
LU 48

LU is still winless against Southeastern Conference teams, but they are still riding high on the heels of a school-first Sweet Sixteen appearance.

Nobody expected them to get this far. In fact, I sometimes wonder if anyone realized that Liberty's women's basketball team had been so dominant in the Big South for the past nine years. And other people question whether any conservative Christian could support women's sports.

Does that sound stupid? It did to me, too. And after I read this article by Mechelle Voepel at ESPN.com, it still sounds stupid.

Apparantly, you have to be in favor of extreme feminism and gay rights to really be in favor of women's sports. And the people who are involved in women's sports apparantly are far more tolerant than Jerry Falwell -- unless, of course, you ask them to tolerate Jerry Falwell. That's just crossing the line, and Voepel won't go there.

And I am FAR from thinking that the majority of fans agree with her. I think the achievements of the LU women's team shows that there are very talented women out there who want to go to a Christian school. Maybe the reason that LU was as big a success as they have been for thepast several years is that there are women who want ot play somewhere where those political opinions aren't an issue -- where people aren't constantly insulting their Christian beliefs. I find it interesting that the Baylor team, which is seeded #2 this year in the Tempe region, is not held to this same criticism. They are still a Southern Baptist school, and the SBC is as notorious in it's "intolerance" as Jerry Falwell is.

I guess all the weight that Jerry has put on has made him an even bigger target than he was before. And I guess that no matter what the women at Liberty achieve, on and off the court, they will always have to deal with the type of intolerance that Voepel displays, that suggests that anyone who doesn't accept "gay people and lesbians (both of whom are a significant part of women's basketball)" is less than acceptable in NCAA womens sports.

So Mechelle Voepel, you are the second person to win the coveted Pewie Award for Conspicuous Intolerant Tolerance. Congratulations.


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3/25/2005

Good Friday 

Today is the day that Christians remember the day that Christ died. It seems that, especially in recent years, Good Friday has stayed a religious holiday while Easter Sunday has been completely commercialized.

Even so, it's easy to miss the importance of the event. In the rush to Easter,and the preparations for cantatas and Passion plays, not to mention the Easter Bunny pereperations, it's very easy to lose focus.

One thing I have tried to do consistently each year for the past five or so is to read and contemplate this. It's a medical account of the crucifixion of Christ that first appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. I have seen this in several places on the internet, but this site is probably the most complete -- includes illustrations and everything. It has certainly helped keep me focused on the meaning of this season.

This year, more people are focusing on Christ's death because of the movie The Passion of the Christ. I am hoping that those people will discover the good news -- Christ's resurrection on Sunday.


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3/24/2005

Raman Noodles 

I've been revisiting my undergraduate days lately, and eating Ramen noodles for lunch. Problem is, Ramen noodles are boring. I'm not a boring person.

So I kick my Ramen up a notch or two. Here's a great recipe for Ramen that I just might send to the Carnival of Recipes this week.


Kicked Up Jerky Ramen

Ingredients:
1 package Chicken-flavored Ramen noodles
2 tblspn Carribean Jerk Seasoning (I sometimes use more, it all depends)

Boil 2 cups of water. Add noodle mix. Slowly add seasoning as noodles boil -- only add 1 tblspn before you add the chicken seasoning.

After three minutes (may vary, depending on how al dente you like your Ramen), turn off the heat. Add chicken seasoning packet and the rest of the jerk seasoning. Stir and eat.
----------------

There. You can now say you learned something useful here. Tomorrow, maybe I'll share my recipe for Chili Pepper Beef Ramen.


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This Week in Church History 

March 23, 322.

This is the anniversary of the death of Gregory the Illuminator. Gregory is credited with helping in the creation of the first Christian nation in the world. And it wasn't the United States.

There were certainly Christians in Armenia when Gregory was born -- tradition says that Bartholomew and Thaddeus both visited the country and preached Christ to them in the first century AD. There were churches in existence in 257 when Gregory was born, so there could be some truth to the legends.

Unfortunately, Christianity was not a popular faith. The Persian rulers of the land had all but extinguished it by the time of Gregory's birth. Gregory's nurse had to flee the country with him when his entire family was killed in retaliation for his father assassinating the Armenian king. Gregory was raised in Cappadocia, and learned the Gospel there. He soon returned to Armenia, where he preached the gospel.

He wasn't popular. The king persecuted him. His life was in danger. But his faithfulness won converts -- ultimately including the king himself, who declared Armenia a Christian nation.

The church in Armenia was incredibly strong -- lasting until the Turks massacred Christians there in the 20th Century. It was the first to have a Bible in it's own national language. And it was a strong voice for Christ in Europe.

I learned a lot from this study. I tend to consider state churches as a bad thing -- it isn't necessarily that way. Armenia is a perfect example of a state church done right. Unfortunately, men of Gregory's caliber are rare in this day. Few men today would be capable of balancing the power and responsibility that Gregory had.

What can we learn from this? We can learn a lot from Gregory's faithfulness, and his commitment to spreading the gospel. He had little hope of success, and could expect to be killed for his faith. He didn't stop.

We can also see the value in Christians united in their faith. While I still have a problem with the idea of a national church, a body of Christians united in purpose and faith can achieve amazing things. While there are some things that should divide Christians (issues concerning the deity of Christ, the value and role of Scripture, salvation by grace through faith, etc.), we often let insignificant things separate us. We need to determine what we must agree on, and what we can agree to disagree on. If we can do that, we can show the world the kind of church that the apostles saw, and that was present for thousands of years in Armenia.


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Maundy Thursday 

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
(1Co 11:23-26 ESV)

Maundy Thursday is the traditional celebration of the day that Jesus shared His final Passover with His disciples. We actually get the name from the Latin phrase mandatum novum, which means "new commandment," in recognition of Christ instituting the New Testament of His blood.

In the Middle Ages, Maundy Thursday services included the washing of feet, in commemoration of Christ washing His disciples' feet at the Last Supper.

Unfortunately, most Protestant churches have lost the celebration of Maundy Thursday. We've tried so hard to distinguish ourselves from the Roman Catholic church that we've done away with the good as well as the bad. I think that a Maundy or Holy Thursday service, focused on partaking of the Lord's Supper, would be an outstanding way to focus people on what exactly this season is all about. Especially in our consumeristic age, it would do us good to remember exactly what these holidays (which are holy days, after all) are celebrated for, and to remember that Christians celebrated the resurrection of Christ long before there was an Easter Bunny or Paas egg coloring kits.


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3/23/2005

Rather Than Studying ... 

... I decided to cruise through my blogroll, looking at some blogs that I normally read through my RSS reader, and some I hadn't been to in a while.

This post touched me. Especially this quote:
So what is a Christian to do? One answer seems to be that we eschew the entire mess and crawl into an enclave somewhere. We only buy from companies that have a fish symbol on their logos. We homeschool our kids. We get rid of the television. We only listen to Christian radio and Christian music. We isolate. This is the Protestant form of monasticism.

Another answer is to try to blend in. Dress, shop, talk, act like them but all the while we have a secret joy in our hearts. We can make our churches compete with whatever they have going on a Sunday AM or Saturday night or whatever. Worship as concert, preacher as entertainer.

The most common way is neither of those, as surprising as that seems. The most common way amongst American Christians is to just live in the midst of it as if it is all normal. Oh sure, we'll avoid Abercrombie and Fitch because they're immoral. We don't listen to rap or heavy metal but K-LITE radio is fine, nothing there is too offensive. We shop just like everyone else: we shop as if owning stuff defines us. Jesus is a option in the American lifestyle. A little Blockbuster, some Claire's, a touch of Pier One, gotta have some Gap then sprinkle it with Jesus when we get home.
This, I think, sums up the problem with American Christianity. It's an option, not a lifestyle. We live in the buffet line -- a little of this, a little of that, a side order of Jesus and some fries. There is no committment at all. There's no walk, and if you're paying any price for your faith you're probably one of those "fanatics" that the talk shows make fun of so much.

The disciples understood what following Jesus meant. They were in this for the long haul, even though they had their "down moments" when they lost sight of what Christ was teaching them. But when they were powered by the Holy Spirit, there was nothing they couldn't do -- or weren't willing to do. They all paid the ultimate price -- they died. Even John, who simply died of old age by most accounts, spent his last years in prison. But it was worth it to them.

What are we willing to sacrifice for our faith? Many of us aren't even willing to miss the Super Bowl for a church service. Can you imagine what would happen if the Christians in the United States got serious about their faith?


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3/22/2005

LU 88, DePaul 79 

Lightning has struck twice. The Lady Flames are going to the Sweet Sixteen.

My favorite stat -- 21/21 from the line vs. 13/18 for DePaul. That could have made the difference. One or two misses from Liberty, and more made for DePaul, and it's a different ballgame. But the Lady Flames won it.

And now they have to face #1 LSU. The nice thing is, there's no pressure on LU. They're not supposed to be there. LSU isn't supposed to lose.


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Help Get Me off BlogSpot 

Nick has nominated me for a spot at mu.nu. So far, I have two yes votes -- I need three. If you have a mu.nu blog, go vote for me. I'd really like to get to a community with a little more to offer as far as customizablilty goes.


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Study of Mark: Mark 7:14-23 

And he called the people to him again and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand:There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him." He who has ears to hear, let him hear. And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, "Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him,since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him.For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."
(Mar 7:14-23 ESV)
{NOTE: Verse 16 is omitted in most modern translations. I have added it in italics so that those who use other translations can follow along more easilly.}

The Jews at the time of Christ were very concerned with appearances. What you ate especially was important to them, because of the dietary laws that God had given Moses on Sinai. Jesus points out in the first thirteen verses that the rules and regulations that had been added to the Law had become more important to the Jews than the Law itself. Jesus wants them to understand that the things they say are more important than the things they eat, and that our actions, thought, and statements are what really defile or corrupt us. And these things many times are not evident to those around us -- but God can see them. Our actions may even seem pure and good, but when they are done for the wrong reasons, they really defile us.

Verse 19 is interesting. Mark, who most scholars believe wrote his gospel based on Peter's rememberences of his time with Jesus, shows that Jesus taught them that all foods were clean -- the disciples just missed the application (especially Peter, if you remember his experience in Acts). Christ's obvious purpose in this passage is to put the emphasis on attitude, rather than blind obedience to a bunch of rules and regulations. This was taught even as far back as the days of Samuel -- And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.(1Sa 15:22 ESV). So this should have been nothing new to the Jews.

Why was it so new? Because the established priests didn't want people to thing that they could do it without them. Because there was a huge industry involved in the preparation of proper sacrifices. The people were doing all the right things, and the establishment was getting rich off of it. Unfortunately, the sacrifices were, in many cases, lip service. The people had learned nothing from their history -- Jeremiah could have told them the dangers in paying simple lip service to God.

Do people today pay lip service? Check out the stats at the Barna group website. The majority of people in the US say that they are Christians. But their beliefs don't line up with that claim. Our attitudes don't match what we claim to believe. Even when we do things that are good, and right, we tend to do them for the wrong reasons -- for our own recognition, rather than for the glory of God. Jesus reminds us that our religious ceremonies and lip service don't matter if we don't obey God, and follow His word in all things.


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3/21/2005

New Veggie Video 

So we got Duke and the Great Pie War from my Mom today. Halfway through, I'm a little disappointed, and a little upset.

Story of Moses -- Miriam is an irresponsible kid who leaves her brother in the river because she has to get out to let the princess swim. TOTAL mischaracterization of Miriam, and a rather large rewrite of the story. All to make it fit with the theme -- loving your family.

Seems to me they could have done the story right, and still made it fit the theme. And it seems like they are simply tacking a Bible story on with the video anymore -- the Bible isn't the focus. Maybe that's to make the videos more "accessible" to "main stream culture," I don't know. I'm not thrilled.

That said, the "main story" is (so far) pretty good. Overall, I'd give this one a 8 out of 10. (Jonah was a 10, The Ballad of Little Joe was a 9.5, just for comparison purposes.) Once I finish watching the movie, I'll talk a little more about it -- I'll just edit this post.

{Edit} == OK, now that I've seen the whole thing, it's pretty clear that the "main story" is Ruth and Boaz. That's what I get for starting my review while Larry Sings the Blues is still on. And that segment was pretty good, but the old Silly Songs were funnier. And I still don't like the characterization of Miriam. I have edited my original rating from 7.5 to 8. I definitely recommend watching the video with the director's commentary.


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Schiavo Fesses Up 

The scene: Larry King Live.

The Question: Do you understand how they feel? [Concerning Terri Schiavo's parents and family]

The Answer:Yes, I do. But this is not about them, it's about Terri. And I've also said that in court. We didn't know what Terri wanted, but this is what we want...

It's all about what he wants -- not about what Terri ever wanted. One moment of truth in the midst of a sea of deception.

I wonder if the MSM will pick this one up, or if it's up to the blogosphere again.

{MAJOR Hat tip to Nick at NickQueen.com, where you can find a more complete transcript that shows you the context of the question and the answer.}


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LU 78, Penn State 70 

The Liberty University women's basketball team, the 13th seed in the Chattanooga region of the NCAA Women's tournament, upset the #4 seed Penn State Lady Lions last night. This is only the fourth time that a 13 seed has beaten a 4 seed in tournament history.

The Lady Flames have been Big South champions for the past 9 years running, but have normally been given a 16 seed -- a real disappointment last year after beating teams like UVa.

As an LU graduate, I just had to brag a bit about the Lady Flames basketball team. The men's team has been to the dance twice, once losing to UNC and losing last year to St. Johns. The women have become a fixture in the tournament, but this is the first year they get to advance. And according to the ESPN poll (as of 12:20 Eastern, anyway), they are favored to make it to the Sweet 16. They take on #5 DePaul on Tuesday at 7 PM in College Park, MD. GO FLAMES!!


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3/20/2005

I AM Teddy Roosevelt 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMy best efforts failed me. Well, I can't really say they were my best efforts, but in any case, I didn't get the crown back. Congrats to the new King of the Blogs, GMs Corner. I didn't even get close this time -- I came in dead last.
Voting wouldn't have saved me. Trackbacks wouldn't have saved me. The new layout would probably have saved me -- I got gigged for my site design by one of the judges.

But it's a fun competition -- I encourage everyone to try it out. If nothing else, you get blog hits from it, and maybe some new readers.


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3/19/2005

Blogroll Cruise: 3/19/05 

Here we go, on this whirlwind trip through my blogroll.
  • The Plodding Pilgrim is talking about comfort. I like the definition that he uses -- it has less to do with feeling good, and more to do with being upheld and strangthened.
  • Smart Christian is promoting the Christian Blogosphere Convention. If you can go (I wish I could, but I'll be in classes), you need to go. There is also a need for non-conservative-Protestant bloggers -- Orthodox and Roman Catholic bloggers are needed to conduct some of the sessions that are planned. This convention has potential to result in great things, but without ALL of our support, it could really fall flat.
  • Christian Hillsblog is pondering division in the church. I love the very first quote -- pointing out the importance of corporate prayer in the start and spread of revival. We can market people into our churches, but we have to pray to get them into the family of God. Our churches need to be united in this effort.
  • Jollyblogger is involved in the "blogging as the new Reformation" debate. I can see the point on both sides -- the Reformation was ushered in in part by the advent of a new communication media. I think it's far too early to tell exactly what the impact of blogging and the blogosphere is going to be. All we can know right now is that there IS an impact.
  • Don Elbourne, Jr. (aka Webmaster at the FFF) has a great post quoting the Baptist encyclopedia about St. Patrick. While I sometimes wonder if we can call Patrick a true Baptist, what I've read from his confession leads me to believe that he was a different sort of catholic than most Roman Catholics make him out to be. He certainly would have opposed the Synod of Whitby.


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3/17/2005

Historically Relevant 

I get a lot of grief at times about my love for history. Not even just church history -- that has only started in the past five years or so. I've always loved history. People wonder what good it could possibly be to read things written by dead men. A quote from Andrew Fuller:
It becomes Christians to bear positive good-will to their country, and to its government, considered as government, irrespective of the political party which may have the ascendency. We may have our preferences, and that without blame; but they ought never to prevent a cheerful obedience to the laws, a respectful demeanour towards those who frame and those who execute them, or a ready co-operation in every measure which the being or well-being of the nation may require.
That's from a sermon that he delivered over 200 years ago, when Britain was at war with France. It is no less true today.

Of course, Fuller was a Baptist, so that automatically disqualifies him from having anything relevent to say politically, right? Especially from the pulpit, and especially if it's motivated by Scripture, right? Isn't that what Americans United teaches us?


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Happy St. Patrick's Day 

The Feast Day of St. Patrick. Today is known more now for drunken revelry than any celebration of the actual life of St. Patrick, so I figured I'd post something historical and devotional -- even though most scholars say that it's too late for it to be attributed to Patrick. It definitely reflects his spirituality, and so I include it today. Besides, it's an awesome example of devotional poetry, and I think more people need to know about it.

There are a number of great translations available; I've chosen the one I found here, since it seems the most complete. It also begins "I bind unto myself" rather than "I rise today" -- the more accurate translation.


I bind unto myself today

The strong name of the Trinity,

By invocation of the same,

The Three in One and One in Three.



I bind this day to me for ever,

By power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;

His baptism in the Jordan River;

His death on cross for my salvation;

His bursting from the spicèd tomb;

His riding up the heavenly way;

His coming at the day of doom;

I bind unto myself today.



I bind unto myself the power

Of the great love of the Cherubim;

The sweet 'Well done' in judgment hour;

The service of the Seraphim,

Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,

The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,

All good deeds done unto the Lord,

And purity of virgin souls.



I bind unto myself today

The virtues of the starlit heaven,

The glorious sun's life-giving ray,

The whiteness of the moon at even,

The flashing of the lightning free,

The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,

The stable earth, the deep salt sea,

Around the old eternal rocks.



I bind unto myself today

The power of God to hold and lead,

His eye to watch, His might to stay,

His ear to hearken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach,

His hand to guide, his shield to ward,

The word of God to give me speech,

His heavenly host to be my guard.



Against the demon snares of sin,

The vice that gives temptation force,

The natural lusts that war within,

The hostile men that mar my course;

Or few or many, far or nigh,

In every place and in all hours

Against their fierce hostility,

I bind to me these holy powers.



Against all Satan's spells and wiles,

Against false words of heresy,

Against the knowledge that defiles,

Against the heart's idolatry,

Against the wizard's evil craft,

Against the death-wound and the burning

The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,

Protect me, Christ, till thy returning.



Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.



I bind unto myself the name,

The strong name of the Trinity;

By invocation of the same.

The Three in One, and One in Three,

Of whom all nature hath creation,

Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:

Praise to the Lord of my salvation,

salvation is of Christ the Lord.


We need to bind to ourselves daily the power of God. Patrick is claiming the power of God on his life, to protect and sustain him through any difficulty. And Patrick had difficulty in his life and ministry. According to legend, Patrick used this prayer (or lorica) to excape druids who were trying to kill him. As he passed, all the druids saw was a deer -- for this reason, the breastplate has also been called The Deer's Cry. The dating of the prayer makes this story a bit of a problem (since it claims to have been written "in the time of Loeghaire, son of Niall," which puts it well after the time of Patrick. It is obvious, though, from a study of his life that St. Patrick was protected time and again by God.

{edit}For a great biographical sketch of Patrick, go here.


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3/16/2005

Crunch Time 

And I'm NOT talking about the Cap'n, either. I'm getting clobbered in the KotB voting, and though I didn't need those points in the past, I WANT them this time. I lost the last time by something like a half a point, so I want some cushion.

So I come to YOU, my loyal readers, with hat in hand, to ask, implore, and otherwise BEG you to go to the KotB site and vote for me. AND post something nice about me on your blog, and trackback to this post (the trackback is http://blog.mu.nu/cgi/mt-tb.cgi/70912, just to make it easy on you all).

Make me the first King to ever serve two non-consecutive terms. Just like my idol, Grover Cleveland.

He WAS the guy on Sesame Street, right?


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3/14/2005

What's Cooking? 

So, I'm planning this dinner party to celebrate my return to the KotB competition (a la Teddy Roosevelt) and my subsequent victory (a la Grover Cleveland). And I'm going to invite a few people, and we're going to have a great time -- dinner, conversation, dessert, all that. Now all I have to do is figure out who to invite. . .

I'd invite Songstress, but I'll probably be serving one of her recipes, and I know it won't be nearly as good as it is when she makes it at home. Pietro is probably working late to keep us all safe, or he'd be a definite invite. Harvey isn't judging anymore, but I'd invite him just for the chicks he'd draw. And I need to kiss up to the new guy (who is a new addition to my blogroll, by the way!), so the Ogre would be at the top of the list, too. And you know, they all deserve to be there. But having them all over to my place, and feeding them the wonderful cuisine that my wife and I can prepare would be just SOOOOO unfair to the other pretenders .... Heck, I'll do it anyway. Oh. We only have place-settings for four. Sorry guys. Maybe after I win the crown, we'll go buy some more Chinet.

Let's face it; the point of this dinner is networking. I want to get attention and hits. Who should I invite? The man who wrote the book on blogging, of course -- Hugh Hewitt himself. Pointers AND probably a link -- what could be better?

Since this is clearly fiction (like Hugh Hewitt would show up at my house for dinner. He can get beanie weenies anywhere!), and since I'm really looking for some publicity, I'd probably get in touch with the guy who came up with Apple's 1984 commercial. Think about it -- the commercial says nothing, never even shows you what it's advertizing, and 20 years later is still shown every time they talk about Super Bowl commercials. This guy is a genius -- if he could con people into buying Macintosh computers, he can get people to read my blog.

I've got one more place setting left (unless you count the Dora the Explorer bowl, cup, and silverware as a place setting), so I'm going to go all out and pick someone unexpected. Someone who has never heard of a blog, but would have put them to great use if they had been available in his time -- Thomas Payne. Yea, I don't agree with his outlook on everything -- he's a deist, after all -- but can you imagine what he'd have done with the Internet and a blog? Even the Instapundit his own self would be playing second fiddle to Payne.

And of course they would all tell me how fitting it is for me to be the first King to leave the throne and then return, just like Arthur.


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What's Hapenning'! 

No, not the 70's sitcom -- I'm talking about what's happening around here!

First of all, I'm back in the Best of Me Symphony. Head over there and read all the great posts (including one from Nick Queen himself).

SPEAKING of Nick Queen -- (and I was going to make this a separate post) I am returning to the King of the Blogs competition to reclaim my throne, and become the only King to rule nonconsecutive weeks (which I guess would make me the Teddy Roosevelt of Blog Kings). Head over to the KotB page and be sure to vote for me, and make sure that you trackback to the right post!


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3/12/2005

AMEN, Brother!! 

Head over to Dignan's and read his post about the Religious Right(tm), and tell me he doesn't sound a lot like me -- just more eloquent. I haven't had some of the experiences he's had (like the Jay Sekulow episode), but I DID attend Jerry Falwell University (aka Liberty University), so I probably have a few that he hasn't had.

Laws change behavior -- sometimes. But we're not commanded to change attitudes. We're commanded to preach the Gospel, and let God change hearts. That will do more to change things than anything we can do politically. We should be aware of what is happening in Washington DC, and how it will effect us daily. We should support laws that we agree with, and oppose laws that we disagree with. But on many things, there is no distinct Christian position. Good Christians are on all sides of just about every political discussion, and we tend to question someone's salvation just because of their stand on the marriage ammendment, or whether they send their kids to a public school ("secular humanist bootcamp"), etc. Not only is that totally incorrect, it's unbiblical. And it's causing unnecessary division in the body of Christ.

There are some political decisions that a Christian worldview will influence in a specific direction. NAFTA, the WTO, speed limits on interstates, the ballanced budget ammendment, and things like that are not among those decisions.


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3/11/2005

Blogroll Cruise: 3/11/05 

  • Espresso Roast is a written by a fellow Southern student (who REALLY should be in the SBC aggregator! Need to email him ...). He's got an interesting report of a case of Bush Rage in Florida.
  • Jeri over at Blog on the Lilypad2 is linking to Phil Johnson's report on American Fundamentalism. Jeri's pretty active over at the FFF, and Phil used to be. Read Jeri's blog, then head over to the FFF -- we need some troll repellant over there.
  • Nick at NickQueen.com has a T-shirt that everyone needs to buy.
  • Wesley Blog reported on the National Council of Churches issuing a warning to Christian relief workers in Asia, cautioning them not to evangelize. Sure -- let's NOT tell the people the major reason we've travelled halfway around the world to help them. Don't DARE let them know about the love of God. Doesn't matter -- if the Christians are doing their jobs right, the people there will see Christ in them, and will want to know. And they will be told.
  • Rooftop Blog has an interesting take on China's Most Favored Nation trade status. Seems that trade to China is an excellent "Trojan horse" for missions work. I've always ranted about China's MFN satatus -- why hadn't I thought of this angle?!


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Still Here!! 

This has been a hectic week, with midterms coming up at school and everything, so I've been abit slack. NOT all of it is my fault, though -- had a great post done on the Ten Commandments, and Blogger ate it. I was so frustrated that I stopped and went to sleep. Maybe I'll repost it this weekend.

I plan on having something up this evening; I have two or three things rolling around in my head, and I still have to do some more on the Mark study.


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3/07/2005

Today in Church History 

(TWO in one 'week'! You'll get spoiled, I know you will ...)

March 7, 1274.

A man who is arguably the best theologian of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas, died this day at 48. Aquinas adapted the writings of Aristotle to Christianity (for good or ill), in the process engaging Averroists in both Christianity and Islam in debate. His Summa Theologiae is still studied by students of all denominations all over the world. His teachings on the relationship between faith and are still studied (and are the subject of the next 'Faith and Reason' segment that I am working on).

Aquinas wasn't always this popular. His classmates thought he was stupid -- they called him a "dumb ox." His aristocratic family thought he was throwing his life away. Nobody thought he would ammount to anything.

They were wrong. The full impact of this man's theology and philosophy cannot be measured even today, but it is safe to say that the Roman Catholic Church, at the very least, would be vastly different in teaching and practice without him.

An outstanding resource on Aquinas can be found here.


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Bill Moyers and the End of Time(tm) 

The New York press seems to have attracted a cadre of top-notch Christophobes. Nicholas Kristof, of course, has taken on this issue before (and I took him to task for it as well). Now that paragon of tolerance Bill Moyers has taken another shot at the faithful, in the form of a New York Review of Books article titled "Welcome to Doomsday."

Moyers starts with the typical "I can't believe people actually believe the Bible is true" statement. Then he slams Christians for their "take dominion over the earth" philosophy before admitting that many Christians are fairly conservationistic when it comes to the environment. See, we realize that the command God gave Adam and Eve implies that we should take care of what we have, make the best use of it that we can, but not to trash the place. See, the idea of stewardship means that you manage your resources so that they will be of use to you for a longer period of time than they would be if they were left to themselves. I would hazard a guess that the majority of Christians (and not a slim majority at that -- perhaps as much as 85-90%) would say that poluting is wrong, and that we are commanded to take care of what God has given us. Of course, if you read Moyers, you'd think that this was a new idea, championed mainly by the Christian left.

Then he embarks on a quest to explain Christian eschatology to his readers. You may not have known this, so brace yourselves -- most of us agree with Lehaye and Jenkins. Those who don't really don't matter to folks like Moyers and Kristof, because they don't fit the stereotype. And, as I mentioned before, the characterizations of Christians who are pretrib dispensationalists are incredibly unfair and uninformed. Moyers has spent a lot of time reading books about people he doesn't like, written by people who agree with his assesment. Maybe he should actually talk to a few people, and find out what they actually believe, and not what the latest Newsweek poll says they believe.

Moyers DOES introduce an earth-shattering factoid in his column that may just rock the foundations of dispensational eschatology -- the word Rapture never appears in the Bible! GASP!!!! Next thing you know, he'll be critical of Christians' belief in the Trinity, since that word isn't in the Bible either. He obviously has no clue about the purpose of theology, and can't really be bothered to find out.

For about the millionth time, let me explain something to everyone. Pretrib dispensationalists do NOT think they are making Jesus come faster. They believe that Jesus is going to show up whenever HE wants to, and we'd better be about our business while we wait, so He isn't ticked at us when He gets here. Premillenialists in general believe that. I'm not as familiar with post-mil or a-mil eschatology, but it seems that one of them teaches that we bring about the millenial kingdom -- something that Reconstructionists agree with. There are no pre-mil Reconstructionists -- and Reconstructionists don't agree with LaHaye and company.

Of course, it's much easier to just rag on people, without actually finding out the facts about them. After all, Bill Moyers does it, and he's a "respected journalist." Maybe next time he wants to write about evangelicals or fundamentalists, he'll actually go out and find a few, and talk to them, rather than misrepresenting their beliefs and insulting everyone's intelligence.


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3/06/2005

Blogroll Cruise: 3/6/05 

Same format today. I'll probably NOT do the cruise on Thursday or Friday, because of school, but every other day, it will be here.

  • CoffeeSwirls is blogging the Heidelberg Catechism -- question 27 is today's entry. This is a pretty good idea for anyone -- consider what you believe, and why you believe it.
  • The Banty Rooster is up in arms about "gender-neutral restrooms". I agree that this is a really bad idea, which means it will probably be done in the next month or so.
  • Lawreligionculturereview is blogging about the Socratic Method -- which is my own personal favorite method in teaching. I LOVE the story related in this post, and figure that, sooner or later, it will happen in a class I'm teaching. At this point, I'd just love to teach students who can think on their feet that way.
  • IntolerantElle.com asks the immortal question, "How Twisted is This?" The obvious response, at least to my way of thinking, is VERY. Go there, read, and be outraged.
  • Grace Notes 4 Teens asks the other immortal question -- Why are there so many gods? It's an important question to consider, and I plan on getting that book to the top of my read list soon. My read list is huge -- I'll get through it sometime in 2104, hopefully in the fall ...
And none of these blogs have trackbacks enabled. Oh, well. I tried!


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A Quick Reminder 

Don't forget to head over to Mind and Media. Stacy's set up this blog to promote Christian authors, film makers, etc. If we're really going to engage this culture, we are going to have to do it through the arts and through the media.

We live in a culture and a society that focuses a LOT of attention (not to mention money) on the media. The media has a lot of influence. It stands to reason that a Christian influence in the media is going to make a real difference in our culture -- as long as the Christian media and art we are producing is of a high quality.

That's another part of what Stacy's doing over at M&M. She's distributing some of the products she gets (books, video, etc.) to bloggers, who review what she's sending out. And we're not going to be nice just because we're getting free stuff! If I don't like something, you'll know about it. Of course, I will let Stacy know first, and see if she wants to give the thing to someone else to review. But there will be several bloggers reviewing each book/video, so if you get a bunch of bad reviews, you'll be warned. And if there are a bunch of good reviews, you'll know to run out and buy the thing!

And I will be doing the reviews here. The Pew Reviews blog that I started is, I think, going to die a slow, quiet death. When I started it, I had time to do two blogs -- now I barely have time to do one. I'll keep it up, because there are some reviews up there, but new reviews will be here. I get to keep my sanity that way (what's left of it, anyway)!


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Seven Councils: Nicea, 325 

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 16:13-17 ESV)

The Council of Nicea was called to answer one basic question that had been plaguing Christians for the past hundred years -- how can a faith that affirms the basic unity of God also assert the diety of Jesus Christ? There were many attenpts to answer this question, but all were unsatisfactory at some point. Some, adoptionists like Theodotus, taught that Jesus was born a normal man, and that the Christ, the Logos of God, descended upon him at his baptism. This denied the eternal existance of God (which the Bible clearly teaches). Others, such as the monarchians, acknowledged the diety of Christ but denied that He was distinct from the Father. This lead ultimately to the idea of patripassianists -- those who taught that the Father Himself suffered on the cross. There is no distinction between the Father and the Son -- which minimizes, or even obscurs, the humanity of Christ. In fact, many who believed this ultimately taught that Christ's humanity was an illusion -- a clear contradiction of Christ's teaching, especially after the resurrection.

Ultimately, each attempt to reconcile Christ's diety with Judeo-Christian monotheism strayed in one of two directions: either emphasizing the humanity of Christ at the expense of his diety, or affirming his diety while minimizing his humanity. Early Christians recognized the problem, and spent a lot of time trying to come up with a solution that would affirm His diety and humanity. Nicea was the first step; later councils would address Christ's dual nature (Ephesus and Chalcedon), and the wills of Christ (3rd Constantinople). Trinitarian thought was further developed at 1st Constantinople, when the diety of the Holy Spirit was affirmed. Each of these councils will be treated in depth later on in the series.

The issue that finally made a general church council necessary was the prevelance of the teachings of Arius. Arius believed that the Son was divine, and was the agent of creation, but the Son was not God. They were similar, but not the same. Arius taught that God created the Son to act as His agent in creation, so that "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (Joh 1:3 ESV)" Arius had been excommunicated twice for his unorthodox beliefs, and finally left Alexandria for Palestine, and won support for his beliefs there. Soon Arianism spread throughout Christendom.

The chief opponent of Arius was Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria. Athanasius advocated the idea of Christ being consubstantial with God and coeternal with God. "There was no time when He was not" vs. "There was a time when he was not." "homoousios"(of the same substance) vs. "homoiousios"(of like substance) -- amazing what the addition or subtraction of one vowel can do to a word in Greek.

The exact number of bishops present at the council is uncertain. Eusebias records 250, Athanasius himself says around 300. The most commonly accepted number is 318, given by Hilary of Poitier. The bishops heard arguement from both sides, and judged the issue by Scripture, finally determining that the Arian position was incorrect and, in fact, heretical.
We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance [ek tes ousias] of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of the same substance with the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our salvation descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost. Those who say: There was a time when He was not, and He was not before He was begotten; and that He was made our of nothing (ex ouk onton); or who maintain that He is of another hypostasis or another substance [than the Father], or that the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to change, [them] the Catholic Church anathematizes.
The decision, contrary to popular opinion, was near unanimous. Five bishops disagreed, though that number was quickly reduced to two -- Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais. Both of these men were exiled and anathematized.

The major issue of the council was thus settled, and yet at the same time, it wasn't. Later councils would address the idea of the person of Christ and the nature of Christ, in an attempt to express exactly how He could be both God and man at the same time. Christological conflict was not over, but at Nicea an important foundation was established.

Other issues that were addressed by the council included the controversy over the date of Easter, and another schismatic named Melitus of Lycopolis, whose name has gone down in obscurity just as Arius' has gone down in infamy.
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Additional Sources:
The Medieval Sourcebook documents from the First Council of Nicea.
The First Council of Nicea
The Catholic Encyclopedia articles on: Arius, Arianism, and the First Council of Nicea






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3/05/2005

Blogroll Cruise: 3/5/05 

I like the "top five" thing I did yesterday, so I'm going to do the same thing. The first five blogs listed in the Church Directory.

  • First up, Double Toothpicks. Is atheism in decline? And is the stuff that's replacing it even worse?
  • Berkeley Godspot hasn't been updated in a while (uless they changed URLs and didn't tell anyone), but what's there is a great read. I especially enjoy the post on Sproul Plaza and the Christian speakers there.
  • Jollyblogger offers the usual outstanding fare. The posts on infant baptism are well-written and interesting, even though I'm still a credobaptist. Maybe David just needs more cowbell. (Hey, he likes the Yeti games, AND snowball fight! He can't be a bad guy!)
  • Eternal Perspectives is giving away a Systematic Theology text written by Dr. Robert Cook at Dallas Theological Seminary. When you get done begging for your copy (like I did!), read the rest of the blog. There's too much of worth to list just one or two posts.
  • My wife would have enjoyed Bear Witness if she had stayed up long enough to see the page. She loves teddy bears. Check out the moral dilema in this post -- and think about what you would do.
Figure if I keep doing this, I'll work my way through the whole directory! Don't forget to click through the SBC Aggregator, either -- we're growing!!


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Awesome Service 

Just got back from hearing David Ring at First Baptist Ironton, OH. If you EVER think that you can't do something God has called you to do, or start feeling sorry for yourself because of some problems you are facing, go hear him speak. In fact, even if you don't ever feel that way, you should hear him speak anyway.

From the website:
Few individuals have felt the crushing blows that have besieged David Ring since birth. He was born to lose. On October 28, 1953, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, David was born with cerebral palsy. Orphaned at age 14, he was cast about from family to family, with nowhere to call home. He endured constant physical pain, humiliating public ridicule and constant discouragement. Yet in the face of these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, David emerged not victimized...but victorious! Life was worse than hopeless to him until his relationship began with Jesus Christ who taught him self respect and an acceptance of his physical challenges. To most, physical challenges of this magnitude would prove to be a tombstone. For David, his coming of age was and remains a milestone.
I've heard a lot of motivational speakers in my life. David Ring is the best. And as far as preaching goes -- there's not a lot of theology in his message, but you will leave revived and ready to do whatever you are called on by God to do. And every time you come up with an excuse to NOT do something, you'll hear David Ring in the back of your head, prodding you. "I have cerebral palsey -- what's your excuse?"


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Today in Church History 

(It's BACK! Did you miss it?)

March 5, 1797.

Henry Nott arrives in Tahiti to begin his missionary work. Twenty-two years later, he rejoices in his first convert.

How many of us would have that kind of patience? How many of us would stay in a country to minister after all those who came with us were killed by the natives? How many of us would have stuck with it?

We live in a society that demands instant results. We have microwaves because we can't wait for our food to cook. The other day, I saw microwaveable peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches in the freezer section at the grocery store. My wife assured me that they are not a new thing. It takes longer to nuke the sandwhich than it does to spread peanut-butter and jelly on bread!!

We have the internet so we can communicate instantly with anyone, no matter where they are. My first modem was a 300 baud modem for my Commodore 64. I still have it somewhere. Now I have a cable modem that gets me information almost instantly. And in another ten years, THAT will probably be too slow.

We are a people who cannot wait. And some things require patience -- like evangelism. God does not work in our time, even though we expect Him to. We need the patience of a Henry Nott, and we will see change.

Nott's first convert? King Pomare II, one of the most violent men in the world at that time. His conversion changed Tahiti forever. You never know who you can reach, if only you don't give up.


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The NY Times Discovers Godblogs 

It sure has taken them long enough!!

And it's a pretty fair assesment of the religious blogosphere, including references to Jewish, Muslim, and Mormon blogs in addition to the Catholic and Protestant blogs.

SmartChristian gets a plug for GodBlogCon2005, meeting at Biola this year. WISH I could go, but it's going to be in the middle of school season, so I'll either be teaching (actually substituting) or in class myself at Southern. Maybe next year.

Joe Carter is mentioned, of course, as is Blogs4God.

Head over there and read it -- encourage the NYT to interact with our community!


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3/04/2005

Blogroll Cruise: 3/4/05 

Returning to the Cruise today, I decided to take a look at the top five blogs mentioned on the "Church Directory" (the Evangelical Outpost list).

  • Dunker Journal is talking about colleges and leftism. UVa is "creating power bases" for budding socialists all over America.
  • Cerulean Sanctum wants to know if Christianity is broken. "I wonder if we Christian bloggers are actually doing a disservice to people, especially to those who are struggling in the faith or are considering the claims of Christ for the first time." I sometimes wonder the same thing. Christian blogs have a huge responsibility, and sometimes we forget about it. Sometimes we are the only examples of Christians people see, and we keep acting like the stereotypes they read about in the MSM. Then we wonder why people believe all the stuff that the NY Times says about us.
  • Desperate Vision has a post in a similar vein. Also read the post about Artificial Sweetner -- very good reading at this blog.
  • Fallible.com asks the eternal question -- What's up with those tennis balls?
  • And my old friend Rebecca writes about the Ordo Saludis and other soteriological terms. If you want to actually understand theology, read this blog. I may have to get her to help out with my Systematic II midterm next Friday!



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The Interview Game 

I'm being interviewed by Nick at NickQueen.com (formerly Patriot Paradox). If YOU want to be interviewed HERE, leave me a comment, and I'll ask the questions -- I'm taking the first three. Answer them on your site, and offer to interview people too!

  1. How would you describe yourself, and how would this differ from your wife's description?

    I'd describe myself as a complete geek. Roleplaying games (pencil and paper with real dice, thankyouverymuch), Star Trek (all of them!), computers, the works. I'm also a devout reader -- given a choice between reading and watching a movie, I'll read any day. I'm also devoted to my family, especially my daughter.

    My wife would say about the same thing, but she'd probably add something about how obnoxious I can be, and also how lazy I can be.

  2. What is your favorite joke?

    hmmmmmmmmm.
    Q. How many KJVOnlies does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. "That's the problem with these liberals today. They want you to think that that light bulb -- the one that was good enough for Paul and Barnabas, needs to be changed. They want to take away your light, friends! WHy, I was in the hardware store the other day, and you should have SEEN the number of different light bulbs that they had there. You know why they want you to change that bulb? It's simple -- money. Not ME, friend! I'm NOT CHANGIN' that old light bulb."

  3. What is the worst job you've ever held?

    My very first job, I worked at a kennel. BIG one, had something like five different buildings for the dogs to stay in. 8 AM every day, I was there shovelling out what the dogs had done the night before. Did that until noon. THEN we had to walk the dogs. ALL AFTERNOON. The walking wasn't bad -- it was the cleanup in the morning that really got to me.

  4. If ever stuck on a deserted island what 3 things or people or combination of each would you want with you (assume you already have your Bible)?

    My wife, my daughter (misery loves company), and a computer with a REALLY long extension cord and wireless Internet.

  5. What was your favorite toy when you were a child?

    I had some REALLY cool boxes when I was a kid. Some of them were big, and some were small ...

    OK, actually my prized posession was my Micronauts collection. I had a ton of the things, and they always fought. I had battles staged out on the floor for days -- sometimes, I'd throw a quilt or blanket down, and wrinkle it up, so there were elevation changes and places to hide.
OK, those are MY answers. Now it's YOUR turn. You volunteer, and I'll come up with five questions of my own for YOU to answer!


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2/28/2005

New Template Beta Test 

I've got a new template ... sort of.

It's up over at The Testing Center, and it looks like crap. I'm a rookie at CSS, so I could use some help if anyone has the time or inclination ...

I'm going for a look that's kind of like seeing notices posted on a church bulletin board. Eventually I want to try to put little push-pins at the top of each section. I'm not thrilled with the overlap, and I don't have much more time this week to play with it.

I appreciate all the help I can get!!


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My Apologies 

To the poor, twisted individual who ended up here after searching for Christians and Speedos in Yahoo. I don't know what you expected, but I know you didn't get it here. It frigtens me that you might have found it somewhere else ...


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The More Things Change ... 

... the more they stay the same. Consider this quote, taken from Andrew Fuller's letter to the chairman of the East Inia Company concerning Christian missionaries in India:
I have observed with pain, sir, of late years, a notion of toleration, entertained even by some who would be thought its firmest advocates, which tends not only to abridge, but to subvert it. They have no objection to Christians of any denomination enjoying their own opinions, and, it may be, their own worship; but they must not be allowed to make proselytes. ... They do not propose to persecute the Christians of India, provide they would keep their Christianity to themselves; but those who attempt to convert others are to be exterminated. Sir, I need not say to you that this is not toleration, but persecution.
This was written in 1807, when the East India Company was protesting the missionaries in India -- accusing them of fomenting revolution and rebellion after some of the company's sepoy troops mutinied. Thomas Twining, of the famous tea Twining family, wrote to the chairman of the East India Company urging him to not allow missionary activity in India any longer. British Baptist missions were under attack, and unjustly so.

But it could have easilly been written yesterday. As long as Christians keep our faith to ourselves, we are allowed to exist. When we start obeying the command of Christ to teach the nations to obey His commands, we need to be eliminated. In many parts of the world, Christians are eliminated in the most precise meaning of that word; they are killed. We have not reached that point in the US yet, though many things I have read on the Internet show me that many people are not opposed to that idea at all. Here, we are told simply that our beliefs have no place in the public forum, since they are religious in nature.

This is not tolerance. This is not simply an issue that Christians should be involved in. This is an issue that people who are interested in true tolerance of all beliefs should pay attention to, and protest against.


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2/26/2005

Seven Councils: Introduction 

Nobody will ever write a history of Europe that will make any sort of sense, until he does justice to the Councils of the Church ...
---G.K. Chesterton


The first two centuries after the death of Christ were marked by periods of intense persecution of the church. The early Christians had little time to concern themselves with systematizing their beliefs -- their primary concern was to preach the Gospel of Christ, to make converts. Some early Christians were able to pass along teachings that they had learned from others, but there was some unity in these teachings, as they all came from a common source. As the apostles and their students began to die, however, the church was faced with a problem.

Teachers arose whose doctrine was not considered true. Controversy arose between followers of different teachers, some of whom claimed to have a "new revelation" of truth from God. The early church quickly established a canon of Scripture, so that everyone knew which books were authoritative and could be used in discerning what true doctrine was. Of course, not everyone agreed even on this point. And so Councils were called.

The idea of a council of church leaders was not new to the fourth century. The early church based their councils on the model set in Acts 15, when the apostles gathered to discuss the conditions under which Gentiles would be welcomed into the new faith. A council was called in 175 to address growing concerns about Montanism, and in 190 to reconcile Eastern and Western methods of determining the date of the Easter celebration (which was really never fully resolved). Cyprian of Carthage called one in 256 to discuss problems relating to persecution of believers in North Africa. Councils were widely used by the early Christians to attenpt to resolve disputes among believers. In this series, though, I will focus specifically on seven councils which are commonly called the Seven Ecumenical Councils because thier rulings were considered to be binding on all of Christianity, and the subjects delt with affected Christians all over the world.

Today, many Christians are ignorant of the councils -- especially Protestant Christians, who tend to regard tradition as something to be ignored and avoided in favor of Scripture. This is unfortunate, because much of our theology is based on these councils, who based their decisions on Scripture. Tradition and Scripture can exist side-by-side -- we simply must be sure that tradition never trumps Scripture. Scripture must be our principle guide, and when tradition and Scripture conflict, it is tradition that is wrong.

Church history is one of my passions. I love looking at the development of Christian theology, and seeing how early Christians looked at the Bible. I think that there is value in exploring where we have come from -- the more we know about our past, the better we can deal with our present, and look forward to the future. Controversies that the Church has delt with in the past can also be a help to us today, and that's what I am hoping to bring out in this series.

In this series, I am going to take a look at each Council individually, the reasons it was convened, it's decisions, and the fallout from it. Then, I am going to look at the Council's statements in light of Scripture, and see where tradition has taken over from the Bible as our guide in faith. I'm going to try to leave preconceptions at the door when I do this, but to an extent that is not possible. I am a conservative Protestant Chrisitan, with all the baggage that comes along with it. And I hope to have some comments from people who disagree with me -- I hope that we can learn from each other.

The series is going to be a little more scholarly than other things that I do here. The wisecracks and sarcasm I tend to inject in many posts won't be there. But I hope I won't make this study too dry, because there is value in it.

My principle source for this is going to be Leo Donald Davis' book The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (327-787): Their History and Heritage. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1983. This should combat my own preconceptions and prejudices, since the book is written from a Roman Cathollic perspective. I'll note any additional sources at the bottom of each post, so that you can do your own study, and see if I'm getting it right!



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