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6/15/2004

Why Did The SBC Leave the BWA? 

Nicene Theology, Neo Theo(b)log, and MSNBC have commented on this so far -- I'll link to others as I find them, and edit this post.

I never thought I'd end up an SBC apologist. Even after I joind a Southern Baptist church, I didn't think I'd ever end up defending them. But I do. I'm one of the "resident SBC experts" on the Fundamentalist Forums. And I'm getting ready to jump into the fray again over the SBC vote to leave the Baptist World Alliance.


The BWA has, the SBC alleges, theological differences which make it necessary for the convention to withdraw fellowship. I have talked about separation before -- this is not the second, third, and fourth degree separation practiced by modern fundamentalists. This is Scriptural separation from organizations or individuals who differ on theological basics. Among the differences are:


  • Questioning the truthfulness of Scripture

  • Not affirming the necessity of a conscious faith in Christ for salvation



Other issues, such as promoting women preachers and the criticism of the SBC's foreign missions board, are minor things for me. The BWA has issued a statement affirming the necessity for Christ alone in salvation, but that is not binding on member groups. Nothing that I was able to find on the BWA web site addressed the concerns about Scripture at all. There is also concern about the membership of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) -- an offshoot of the SBC, made up of former SBC members who are upset with the conservative direction that the convention is taking.

After the SBC has fought for decades to eliminate theological liberals and moderates from the convention, it seems silly to me to expect the Southern Baptists to suddenly embrace fellowship with these same people. The vote to leave the BWA is a signal that the fight is over, and that there is no interest in the leadership of the convention to re-fight these battles in another forum. There is considerable ammounts of ill-will between the SBC and the CBF -- should we expect these two groups to work together?

Neo Theo(b)log quotes Alistair McGrath that "One of the purposes of doctrine is to divide." We need to make sure that the doctrine that we divide over is important. Faith in Christ as the sole means of salvation is such a doctrine. The infalibility of Scripture is such a doctrine. I would argue if ordination of women is sufficient for division, although I do not believe that it is biblical. I know that criticism of missions boards isn't grounds for separation -- it's not a doctrinal difference. But if someone was openly deriding the ministry that you were involved in, one of the most distinctive ministries that you offer, would you want to support them financially? Would you want to be associated with them?

Neither would the Southern Baptist Convention.

{edit} Take a look here for the Baptist Press story about the vote. The convention has been discussing it's differences with the BWA for a year, and hasn't been able to resolve things. This isn't a spur of the moment decision, folks. This is a 100 year association that has ended. That doesn't happen overnight.

For a non-American view of the subject, click here.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

'Under God' Stays 

Because he doesn't have the right to speak for his daughter, Michael Newdow's case to eliminate the phrase 'Under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance has been thrown out by the US Supreme Court.

I wondered about this from the beginning. In fact, I seem to recall that the girl was reportedly not offended by the pledge -- her mother claimed at one point that the girl was, in fact, a Christian. In any case, he does not have custody of his daughter, so he cannot speak for her.

I wonder if this was the best ending to the case. I tend to agree with Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas that the majority opinion dodged the issue. All that has to happen is for a custodial atheist to protest the pledge on behalf of his/her kid, and we're going to go through this all over again.

I also like what O'Connor said about the so-called 'heckler vote'. We won't get anything done if we are always having to worry about the protest of one person. Everything we do is bound to offend someone -- the Constitution doesn't give anyone the freedom from being offended.

If you want a legal opinion of this decision, take a look here. In fact, you might want to keep checking back there if you're interested in the issues the Supreme Court is ruling on.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Watch the SBC Online! 

Go here to view streaming video of the procedings!

I think this is a great resource not ONLY for Southern Baptists who didn't get to go (like me) but for people who don't know how the convention works and are curious.

I plan on going either next year or the year after. I was able to go to the convention in Atlanta, and it was fascinating to me -- that was my first year of being a Southern Baptist. That was when I learned that a lot I had been told before about the convention was wrong. Of course, I learned that some of what I had been told was right, and found things I didn't like that nobody had told me about.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Study of Mark: Mark 3:6-12 

Mark 3:7-12 ESV Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea (8) and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. (9) And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, (10) for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. (11) And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." (12) And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.


Jesus knows what the Pharisees planned, and He knew that it wasn't His time yet, so He left. As usual, a crowd gathers, anxious to see miracles performed. And once again, He cautions unclean spirits to not make Him known.

As we will see later in the chapter, the thing Jesus thought would happen did. The Pharisees accused Him of being a tool of the devil. I think, though, that that is only one reason He wanted the secrecy at this point.

Jews at the time of Christ were not able to understand His mission. They were waiting for a conquering Messiah, who would overthrow the Romans and free Israel from tyranny. Even the disciples thought He was going to set up His kingdom right then and there -- even after the ressurrection, they were wondering when He was going to establish the Kingdom. They didn't understand the idea of a suffering Messiah.

Christ took the next three years to explain things to them. He tried through parable, through example, through stragiht-out preaching and teaching, to get them to understand the nature of the Kingdom of God.

2000 years later, and we still don't quite understand it. Books are written about it, theologians argue about when, where, and how it will be established. The only thing we can agree on is that it will happen. And the best lesson we can learn from this is that we can't understand it all.

We're never going to totally understand everything about God. We can believe in Him, we can love Him, we can worship Him, we can study His Word and learn as much as we can about Him, but only in Heaven are we actually going to fully understand God.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pick Your Denomination 

Based on the answer to ONE QUESTION, the survey decided that I was better suited for a Reformed Baptist church. The question was pretty poorly worded, but that dumped Southern Baptist (my actual denomination) down to fourth.

Maybe someone should tell them about the Founders.

  • My #1 result for the SelectSmart.com selector, Christian Denomination Selector, is Reformed Baptist



  • My #4 result for the SelectSmart.com selector, Christian Denomination Selector, is Southern Baptist



  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    6/14/2004

    David Cloud, Inerrancy, and Rebecca 

    I read a lot about the KJVO controversy. I've got a ton (almost literally) of books on the history of the English Bible, Bible translation, the history of the canon, etc. I've read David Cloud. I usually end up getting mad before I finish an article, so I was very happy to read Rebecca's thorough fisking of Cloud.

    She does an outstanding job of showing Cloud's logical leaps, and his total mischaracterization of Dr. Daniel Wallace's views on inspiration. Get on over there and read it -- you'll learn something.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Christian Carnival is Coming!! 

    This coming Wednesday is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted at Belief Seeking Understanding. If you have a blog, this will be a great way to get read, and possibly pick up readers in the process or highlight your favorite post from the past week.

    To enter is simple. First, you post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Then, do the following:

    email Douglas at

    dbass@stthomas.edu

    Provide the following:

    Title of your Blog
    URL of your Blog
    Title of your post
    URL linking to that post
    Description of the post

    Cut off date is Tuesday by 12 Midnight EST


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    6/13/2004

    ACLU and the LA Seal 

    Just when I was thinking that the ACLU might have gotten it's act together.

    I've posted twice about the ACLU doing something FOR Christians, rather than TOO Christians. I was starting to think that they'd gotten religion or something, but they haven't.

    This story has been blogged about quite a bit -- if you've been living in a cave with no Internet access, check this out, or you can find it here. Post 7 or 8 at Free Republic has a picture of the seal. If you look closely, you can see the cross, middle right. That's what the fuss is all about.

    Of course, the big picture of a pagan goddess right in the middle of the seal. Maybe we should complain about that. I'm waiting, as are others, for the ACLU to go after the name of the city/county -- after all, angels are religious figures, and many might be offended by the endorsement of a specific religious system over those who do not believe in angels. And what about all the 'San's in California? Are we going to see a wholesale name-change in California?

    I don't even see this as the ACLU 'going after' Christians. I kinda agree with Ed Brayton that this is silliness on both sides of the debate. Unfortunately, the city caved in.



    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    6/11/2004

    The Quest. . . . 

    We need a new Reagan.

    I'd been thinking this as I watched the service tonight. And I got the idea from Ron, when he talked about his dad not wearing his faith on his sleeve. That made me think.

    After I got over being irritated that he'd politicize his eulogy, I realized he was right. And I think that's what makes me uncomfortable about Bush. He talks a lot about his faith, and does what he wants to. Reagan didn't say much about his faith, and yet it lead him and influenced what he did.

    Bush is accused of this all the time, of course. But people who actually understand evangelical theology know that very little of what he's doing can be tied to his faith. I have no doubt that his faith is strong -- stronger than his father's, perhapse. But rather than giving lip service, he should stop talking and start doing.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    RIP: Ronald W. Reagan 

    I've put off posting on this until today, because I wanted to make sure that everything was finished before I said anything about what happened, or about President Reagan.

    I've been kinda numb this week. Reagan was the president who influenced me to be a bit more politically active than I had been before, and take an interest in how things were run. I paid more attention, and learned a lot.

    But it was still simply the death of a former president to me. I was sad, and felt bad for the family, but I didn't really mourn his passing until today.

    Of the three eulogies in California, Michael's was surely the most moving. For the first time, I was reacting to Ronald Reagan not as a leader, but as a human being. A father. I knew how Ron, Patti, and Michael were feeling, because I had been there. Losing a leader is nothing -- losing a father is one of the hardest things that anyone will ever have to do. I watched just now as Nancy was given the flag, and I remembered when my Mom was given the flag from my Dad's casket, and the emotion I felt. I could actually relate to what they were feeling.

    I think that's what was missing all this week. There was pomp and ceremony, a celebration of a great man and his legacy. But there was little emotion. I never thought of the person who was gone -- just the world leader. Today, I thought of the man: the father, the husband, the grandfather. And now I mourn -- for the family.

    Pray for the family. The next week will be the hardest -- when everyone else gets to go on with their lives, and you start to realize just how much your own has changed.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Something New!!! 

    Over on the left side (everyone look now!) at the top of the Links section, you'll see a new link to the bookstore. Stop by there, and you'll find a list of my recommendations for reading. Pretty soon, I'll have a "Summer Readin' " list up there -- right now, the only fiction is at the bottom, where you'll find a list of alternate history by Harry Turtledove.

    I spent yesterday working on the new layout -- my CSS skills are still rough, so I'm taking my time to make sure I get what I really want. Soon, though -- I promise -- there will be a slightly new look here.

    ALSO, starting in July, I will have a special guest blogger each Monday -- the day I head to Southern for class. My lovely wife will be taking over the duty on Monday evenings, so the Bible Study will move to Tuesdays. She might be a bit more political than I am, but I have no idea what she's planning on writing. Maybe a trial run is in order ....


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The Passion for Lawsuits 

    I'm not a Passion basher.

    I ended up not getting to see it, but that was mainly because I couldn't find the time and, while I'm sure it's a great movie, it wasn't a real priority for me. I'll get the DVD and watch it at home.

    I'm a little disturbed by the ammount of lawsuits surrounding this movie. He's suing because of pirated copies of the movie. He's suing a theater chain to get revenues that they allegedly promised him. He was rumored to have threatened to sue two groups that were protesting the movie.

    I understand that Mel had a lot of money on the line. I understand that, in Hollywood, you have to protect your interests. I also had understood that making the movie wasn't about money -- he wanted to get a message out.

    The movie pirates were arrested and charged. The movie itself has made a ton of money, and the merchandising promised much more. Another $40 million is at this point irrelevant -- unless you are in this to make money, rather than get your message out.

    I don't really blame Mel Gibson, though. He's used to Hollywood -- he isn't used to the whole "Christian arts" thing, where we just want to get our message heard, and maybe make enough money to live on. It just bothers me that something that has changed lives, and has the potential to change many more, is simply another money-making vehicle for Hollywood. Didn't Christ say something like "Freely you have received; freely you should give"?


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The 'Religion Gap' 

    USA Today ran an article not long ago about the 'Religion Gap' between the Democrats and Republicans. (Unfortunately, the full article in their archives is NOT free, so I can't link to it anymore.) There is a pretty good study of the subject here, and it's free.

    To sum up:
    According to Voter News Service (VNS) exit polling, in the 1992 congressional election, frequent worship attenders preferred Republican to Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives by 53 to 47 percent. By the 2002 congressional election, this six percent gap had ballooned to 20 percentage points, with frequent attenders voting in favor of Republican House candidates by 60 to 40 percent.

    That's a HUGE difference in just ten years, probably because of the reputation of President Clinton. The article goes on to say that voters in 1992 who attended church regularly were more likely to vote for a local Democratic candidate than the Democratic Presidential candidate.

    Why is this? Are religious voters more concerned about social issues like abortion than social issues like hunger? Or do religious voters have different answers than the Democratic Party has to offer? I tend to think the latter. Members of the 'religious right' have tended to put more emphasis on issues such as abortion, the death penalty, etc.

    I'm surprised that the gap isn't bigger than it is -- after all, if you read the news and the Web, it's the "Religious Right" that is controlling the Bush White House (unless, of course, it's the Reconstructionists). The thing I think is important about the study is that the gap isn't as big as people want to think -- on both sides of the aisle. The "Religious Right" gets a lot more press, but there is a Religious Left that is calmer, quieter, and just as dedicated to getting their candidates in office.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    6/09/2004

    This Week in Church History 

    I've changed the title of this series, since I've only been doing it once per week. If I decide to add an extra entry, because of something very important or relevant happening on a particular day, I'll title that Today in Church History. Just so y'all know. ;-)

    June 7, 1891. The end of an era. The final sermon from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

    I could say a lot, but thanks to Phil Jackson's archive, I think I'll let Spurgeon do the talking for himself.

    "And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them. Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart. Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand. For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day. And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord"—1 Samuel 30:21-26.


    THOSE WHO ASSOCIATE themselves with a leader must share his fortunes. Six hundred men had quitted their abodes in Judaea; unable to endure the tyranny of Saul they had linked themselves with David, and made him to be a captain over them. They were, some of them, the best of men, and some of them were the worst: in this, resembling our congregations. Some of them were choice spirits, whom David would have sought, but others were undesirable persons, from whom he might gladly have been free. However, be they who they may, they must rise or fall with their leader and commander. If he had the city Ziklag given to him, they had a house and a home in it; and if Ziklag was burned with fire, their houses did not escape. When David stood amid the smoking ruins, a penniless and a wifeless man they stood in the same condition. This rule holds good with all of us, who have joined ourselves to Christ and his cause; we must be partakers with him. I hope we are prepared to stand to this rule to-day. If there be ridicule and reproach for the gospel of Christ, lot us be willing to be ridiculed and reproached for his sake. Let us gladly share with him in his humiliation, and never dream of shrinking. This involves a great privilege, since they that are with him in his humiliation shall be with him in his glory. If we share his rebuke in the midst of an evil generation we shall also sit upon his throne, and share his glory in the day of his appearing. Brethren, I hope the most of us can say we are in for it, to sink or swim with Jesus. In life or death, where he is, there will we, his servants, be. We joyfully accept both the cross and the crown which go with our Lord Jesus Christ: we are eager to bear our full share of the blame, that we may partake in his joy.

    It frequently happens that when a great disaster occurs to a baud of men, a mutiny follows thereupon. However little it may be the leader's fault, the defeated east the blame of the defeat upon him. If the fight is won, "it was a soldiers' battle"; every man at arms claims his share of praise. But if the battle is lost, cashier the commander! It was entirely his fault; if he had been a better general he might have won the day. This is how people talk: fairness is out of the question. So in the great disaster of Ziklag, when the town was burned with fire, and wives and children were carried away captive; then we read that they spoke of stoning David. Why David? Why David more than anybody else, it is hard to see, for he was not there, nor any one of them. They felt so vexed, that it would be a relief to stone somebody, and why not David? Brethren, it sometimes happens, even to the servants of Christ, that when they fall into persecution and loss for Christ's sake, the tempter whispers to them to throw up their profession. "Since you have been a Christian, you have had nothing but trouble. It seems as if the dogs of hell were snapping at your heels more than ever since you took upon you the name of Christ. Therefore, throw it up, and leave the ways of godliness." Vile suggestion! Mutiny against the Lord Jesus? Dare you do so? Some of us cannot do so, for when he asks us, Will ye also go away?" we can only answer, "Lord, to whom should we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." No other leader is worth following. We must follow the Son of David. Mutiny against him is out of the question.

    Through floods or flames, if Jesus lead,
    We'll follow where he goes."


    When a dog follows a man, we may discover whether the man is his master by seeing what happens when they come to a turn in the road. If the creature keeps close to its master at all turnings, it belongs to him. Every now and then you and I come to turns in the road, and many of us are ready, through grace, to prove our loyalty by following Jesus even when the way is hardest. Though the tears stand in his eyes and in ours; though we weep together till we have no more power to weep, we will cling to him when the many turn aside, and witness that he hath the living Word, and none upon earth beside. God grant us grace to be faithful unto death!

    If we thus follow our leader and bear his reproach, the end and issue will be glorious victory. It was a piteous sight to see David leaving two hundred men behind him, and marching with his much diminished forces after an enemy who had gone, he scarce knew where, who might be ton times stronger than his little baud, and might slay those who pursued them. It was a melancholy spectacle for those left behind to see their leader a broken man, worn and weary like themselves, hastening after the cruel Amalekite. How very different was the scene when he came back to the brook Besor more than a conqueror! Do you not hear the song of them that make merry? A host of men in the front are driving vast herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, and singing as they march, "This is David's spoil!" Then you see armed men, with David in the midst of them, all laden with spoil, and you hear them singing yet another song; those that bring up the rear are shouting exultingly, "David recovered all! David recovered all!" They, the worn-out ones that stayed at the brook Besor, hear the mingled. song, and join first in the one shout, and then in the other; singing, "This is David's spoil! David recovered all!"
    Yes, we have no doubt about the result of our warfare. He that is faithful to Christ shall be glorified with him. That he will divide the spoil with the strong is never a matter of question. "The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."
    The old truth by which we stand shall never be blotted out.


    Engraved as in eternal brass
    The mighty promise shines;
    Nor shall the powers of darkness rase
    Those everlasting lines."


    We are certain as we live that the exiled truth shall celebrate its joyful return. The faith once for all delivered to the saints may be downtrodden for a season; but rejoice not over us, O our adversaries: though we fall we shall rise again! Wherefore we patiently hope, and quietly wait, and calmly believe. We drink of the brook Besor by the way and lift up our heads.

    This morning I want to utter God-given words of comfort to those who are faint and weary in the Lord's army. May the divine Comforter make them so!

    Because of space limitations, I'm going to simply link to the text of the sermon, which is available here. Go there and read -- this man continues to bless more than a century after his death.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    New to the 'Roll 

    Welcome to the blogroll ... Nicene Theology.

    I've read this one off and on for a little while, and I've learned something just about every time. I've especially enjoyed his writing on the whole KJVOnly controversy. And I like his 'Blogback' idea -- I'll be doing a few of these each week, I think.

    If you haven't yet, head on over there and check it all out!!


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    How Fundamental Were They 

    In my ongoing quest to save the definition of "fundamentalist" from both the liberal/moderate factions that seek to demonize it AND the 'modern fundamentalists' who are legalists or even Ebionites (Judaizers) in sheeps clothing, I present the following article:

    How Fundamental Were the Early Fundamentalists?

    After you read it, you can join the "discussion" (like we ever just discuss anything there!) at the Fightin' Fundamentalist Forum (you'll have to register to fight, but you can read the whole debate to see if you really want to get involved).



    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Christian Carnival is UP!! 

    I missed the deadline AGAIN, so nothing from me this week (next week, promise!). Head over to ChristWeb anyway and read some of the great stuff out there!

    I know a lot of people who won't be happy about what Jollyblogger had to say about the whole Harry Potter controversy. I'm just glad someone is seeing things from a new perspective.

    Back of the Envelope has a great article about eternal security and God's transcendance of time. I've had some problems getting there through that link, though, so you may just want to click the link in my blogroll and get there that way.

    And I promise I'll have something there next week!!


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    My Blues Name 

    I used to daydream about being a musician. I even talked my parents into buying me an electrtic guitar for Christmas one year. Now I even have my stage name.

    I am Screamin' Bones Smith. And I got da blues. I got dem low down, keyboard typin', gotta do some home improvement blues.


    Ohh, yeah!

    (Thanks to Rebecca for the link!)


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    6/08/2004

    Sigh ....... 

    Drove to Southern last night (which is why I didn't update yesterday -- sorry!), ready to get all set up and start Greek.

    Except it didn't happen.

    Most of the problem was mine -- I didn't get some forms sent at the right time. Some of it was nobody's fault. A little of it was the US Postal Service's fault. But no matter whose fault it was, the fact remains that I didn't get to start school today. I DID get registered for History of the Baptists next month (July 6 to 15), so all I need is to find a place to live while I'm there (though someone is keeping an ear out for me on that front).

    Sometimes I think God is testing me, to see how badly I really want to do this. Somethimes I think Satan is ticked that I'm going to school, and is trying to discourage me. And sometimes, I think that life is just wierd, and stuff happens.

    All I know for sure is that sometimes, I swear I can hear my Dad up in heaven, laughing that big laugh of his at the predicaments I've gotten myself into this time. Glad I can be of some amusement, Dad ;)


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Study of Mark: Mark 2:23-3:6 

    Mark 2:23-3:6 ESV One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. (24) And the Pharisees were saying to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" (25) And he said to them, "Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: (26) how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?" (27) And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (28) So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." (3:1) Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. (2) And they watched Jesus,[1] to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. (3) And he said to the man with the withered hand, "Come here." (4) And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. (5) And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (6) The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.


    The Pharisees are so concerned about maintaining their outward holy appearance that they even prohibit picking food to eat on the Sabbath. Their traditions and regulations have perverted something God created to be a benefit to man -- the rules that were heaped onto the Sabbath were oppressive! Jesus again shows that He isn't concerned with outward shows of piety -- He can see into the heart, where it counts.

    God created the Sabbath because He wants us to be able to enjoy the Creation He has given us. The rules that were put in place were designed to make sure that we set aside the time to rest and enjoy. God knows our nature, and He knows what workaholics we can be if left to our own designs. By building in a day off, He is showing concern for our well-being.

    Their legalism even extended to miracle working and healing. Jesus points out their hypocracy -- "Am I allowed to do something good on the Sabbath?" They know that they've been had -- they cannot even reply as Jesus heals the man's hand. He had made them look foolish, and He was encouraging people to ignore their rules. He had to be stopped.

    Notice that Jesus is not encouraging sinful behavior. He's not advocating open rebellion. He simply wants people to get back to the faith that Moses taught -- not the vain traditions that had been piled on top of God's Law.

    We like to pile our own standards on top of God's. I'm not sying that having standards is a bad thing -- I'm simply saying that to elevate our own ideas of spirituality to the level of Holy Writ is dangerous if we don't have Biblical justification to do so. I may not like it when people stand to pray; maybe I'm a kneeler. Someone else may prefer to stand, hands lifted high. Someone else might simply sit down and bow, preferring not to draw attention to themselves. Who is right? We all are. Unfortunately, if the situation I've described happened in real life, there would be three new denominations -- the Kneelers, the Sitters, and the Standers. Then the Kneelers might split over whether to go to one knee or two. The Standers might argue over how high to raise your hands, if at all. Sitters might argue about proper posture. All because we've decided that the posture of prayer is something that is vital to spiritual growth, and everyone elseis totally wrong.

    We like to condemn people for being fundamentalists, that they're Pharisees. We have to remember that we all have done this at some point or another. We also need to study the Word, so that we know when a standard is God's, and when it's ours alone.


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    6/06/2004

    WOAH!! 

    This is going to cause an uproar.

    For those who aren't well-informed on Fundamentalist politics (and at times, they are FAR more interesting and intriguing than their secular counterpart), The Sword of the Lord has for years been the semi-official newspaper of Independant Fundamental Baptists. The preaching has been indicative of the preaching style of top pastors of the day, and up-and-comers have more often than not taken sermon ideas from its pages.

    Curtis Hudson started the separation from Southern Baptists while he was editor. This was when the Convention was infested by moderates and liberals, and many fundamentalists decided to run away rather than fight (THAT'S a rant for another day). Secondary Separation is the watchword of the movement -- separate from those who are not doctrinally sound, but ALSO separate from those who won't separate. And separate from the ones who won't separate from THOSE guys who don't separate. And so on, and so on.

    Conservative Christians have often thought that Dr. Rice wouldn't be pleased by what his newspaper had become. To have it officially recognized by one of his daughters is another thing. To have her actually call out the current editor of the Sword is a shot across the bow of many in the fundamentalist establishment.

    Shelton Smith was my pastor when I was a teengager. He baptized me. I was a member of his church for 10 of his 17 years as pastor. I know his son. So I'm kinda close to the issue here. I wondered at first if he'd even respond, but now that it's more widely publicised, he will have to.

    I like Dr. Smith. He's been a family friend for years. I have disagreements with him on finer points of theology -- to the extent that he has probably separated from me -- but I know him to be a committed follower of Christ and a man who is dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Christ. I think that he has allowed minors to become majors, and I am sad that he is willing to turn his back on many fellow believers because of these minors. As I've said before, I consider myself an historic fundamentalist. I reject what the label fundamentalist has become, though -- and Dr. Smith has helped to make it what it has become.

    I hope that he reads the letter in the spirit in which it was obviously written. Mrs. Martin is concerned about the body of Christ, and the reputation of many believers. She is concerned about the legacy of her father, which she feels is being misused. I hope Dr. Smith prays over this letter. I hope that as he responds, he lets the Holy Spirit guide his words. And I hope that he sees the truth in the letter. That, more than anything else, will change things for the better. I am afraid, however, that there will be a lot more fighting, and a lot more separation, and a lot more people will point and say "Look at those Christians. They can't get along for five minutes."


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    6/05/2004

    A Nation of Jonahs 

    Maybe it's because I spent 12+ hours in the car the past two days -- with my daughter. My almost-three-year-old who is in love with the Veggie Tales, and Jonah in particular. She watched it twice today, between Gadsden, AL and Lexington, KY, and I had a lot of time to ponder the life and message of this prophet.

    I DID go back and review the actual book of Jonah, since I was pretty sure that there wasn't a Jiminy Cricket-type character in the original, and I was fairly certain that Jonah and the crew didn't play 'Go Fish' to see who got tossed overboard. The movie is, however, pretty true to the message of the book, so I felt pretty safe. And I realized something.

    We are Jonah.

    Jonah was a guy who was given a message. A really important message -- one that a whole people needed to hear. And what was his response?

    "I don't like those people".

    And he didn't go. In fact, he ran away -- from God, and from the people God sent him to. As fast as he could, and as far as he could. Until God got tired of the games.

    We've got a message. Christians have been given a mesage that the world needs to hear -- the message that no matter how messed up we are, no matter what we've done in the past, God loves us enough to sacrifice His Son for us, so that we can be reconciled with Him. So that we can live with Him forever. And what do we do?

    I don't like those people.

    I sat in a church service on Sunday at the Campus Church at Pensacola Christian College, listening to a speaker who talked about "the queers" down at the beach. Memorial Day weekend is a huge business weekend for businesses in Pensacola, but in the past several years Pensacola has been the target destination for gay and lesbian vacationers. There were thousands of "the queers" on the beach at the very time that the sermon was being preached. If the speaker (who I will not name, though many people who read this blog have probably never heard of the man) had really been concerned about the eternal destination of "the queers", he'd have been down on the beach sharing Christ with them, rather than sitting in a sanctuary using an incredibly vulgar term to describe them, and then consigning them to hell. He "don't like those people".

    [I don't like the terminology that he used any more than many of you do, and I apologize for repeating it. I know many gay people, and probably know many more who haven't chosen to tell me about their lifestyle. My response to them is the same as to anyone I know who is a sinner (which is, after all, all of us) -- God loves you, and Jesus died for you, so that you can be freed from sin's slavery. Just trust Him, and repent of your sin. As Christ Himself said, "Go, and sin no more".]

    As reprehensible as this account is, each of us do something similar every day. We encounter people, or know of people, who need to be shown Christ's love and compassion. But we "don't like those people", so we walk away. Maybe they stink. Maybe their breath is funny. Maybe they drink, or smoke. Maybe they're (gasp) a Democrat. They still need Jesus.

    In Acts 1, Jesus is telling the disciples who they are going to be witnesses to. One of the places they're told to go is "Samaria". To Jews, this was about the worst thing they could have heard. The Samaritans were unclean. The refused to worship at the Temple, building their own houses of worship in their own country. Jewish traders would plan their routes around Samaria, taking days or weeks longer to complete a trip, just to stay away from Samaria. They didn't "like those people". They went anyway -- not in judgement, or anger, or condemnation, but in love, and compassion. They brought the love of Christ to Samaria -- to "those people".

    We must do the same.


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    I'm BAAAACK!!! 

    Back North after a fun-filled week in Florida. Rained a few days, but they needed the rain, so we didn't mind. Had a great visit with Mom.

    I'm hoping that I'll be heading to school this week. Unfortunately, several things are conspiring against me. First, a recommendation from Virginia took over a week to get to Kentucky by US Mail. Then, the folks at the admissions office took a week to let me know they couldn't use my check card to pay my application fee. THEN, (and this is my fault) a few pages were missing from my application when it got there. Finally got everything straightened up, and they said they'd try to get me in for the class, but I'm not holding my breath. I'll still be able to take a class this summer, but it may not be Greek.

    sigh

    That's the last time I put things off until the last minute. (Boy, THAT sounds familiar.)


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    The Christian Carnival 

    This coming Wednesday is the next Christian Carnival, and will be hosted
    at ChristWeb. If you have a blog, this will be a great way to get read,
    and possibly pick up readers in the process, or highlight your favorite
    post from the past week.

    To enter is simple. First your post should be of a Christian nature, but
    this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature
    from a Christian point of view. Then do the following:

    email Stephen at

    mccaskil@mac-con.com

    Provide the following:

    Title of your Blog
    URL of your Blog
    Title of your post
    URL linking to that post
    Description of the Post

    Cut off date is Tuesday by 10 PM EST


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    6/03/2004

    Faith-Based Initiatives 

    A lot has been said recently about President Bush's faith based initiatives. Most has been said by people who don't like the idea, and see it as the religious right trying to take taxpayers money to fund their evangelistic efforts.

    Oddly enough, evangelicals don't always see it that way. In fact, the people who seem to be the most in favor of funding faith-based charities are fiscal conservatives, who see it as an opportunity to cut down the size of government and reduce federal spending.

    I've talked to people on both sides of the issue; people who are eager to receive more funding for their work, no matter the source, and people who are afraid of what accepting federal money might entail -- if not now, then later.

    I find myself increasingly in the latter category. I find myself wondering what strings might be attached to all that government money. Will we be able to evangelize? What about hiring practices -- can we still only hire people who accept our statement of faith? I know some faith-based charities who don't hire anyone who has been divorced -- what will happen to them if they suddenly are required to hire homosexuals? When we have to hire people who reject our beliefs, can we still seriously be called faith based?

    I understand that there are a lot of groups who want the money. Many of these groups are more interested in social welfare than spiritual welfare. If that's their mission, then more power to them -- take the money and run. Don't complain in five or six years when Washington is less favorable to Christians and they try to restrict what you're allowed to do, say, etc. I don't worry about what will happen now as much as I do about what will happen then.

    If you are truly faith-based, maybe it's time to exercise that faith, and let God supply all your needs, according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. Get the government out of the way.


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    Let's Hear it for the ACLU part 2 

    Thanks to The Great Separation for the heads up on this one.

    Not sure I'd want to be baptised in the Rappahannock, especially around January or so, but I think it's great that churches are still doing traditional, open-air baptisms. I also think it's a shame that the park can't figure out that they're violating the free exercise clause of the Constitution by kicking them out. And I'm placed in the position of giving the ACLU an 'atta-boy' for actually jumping in to defend the Constitutional rights of Christians. If that happens much more, I may get a rash ...


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    6/02/2004

    Today In Church History 

    June 2, 1861

    As the United States was just beginning to arm itself for the conflict that became known as the American Civil War, a Russian student in Japan was preparing to leave his homeland to serve as a chaplain to the Russian embassy in Japan.

    Ivan Kasatkin, who became known more familiarly as Nikolai, studied Chinese and Japanese for eight years while working in the consulate. His first three converts were baptized in 1868.

    Nikolai was committed not only to winning converts, but to building churches. He trained converts to become priests and lay workers in the Orthodox tradition. He established a Japanese synod that met every two years.

    In later years, it became clear that Nikolai had planned well. The Russo-Japanese war made Christians very unpopular in Japan. The Bolshevik revolution and the beginning of communist rule in Russia put an end to Orthodox missions from that nation, resulting in no support for the ministries Nikolai had established in Japan. The independence of Japanese churches aided their survival, in small numbers, even to this day.

    Nikolai had a long-term vision. It wasn't enough for him to build a huge church, or have a lot of followers. He saw beyond himself. He built churches, and encouraged converts to study and begin their own ministries. He didn't make the ministry all about himself -- he made sure he trained disciples of Christ, so that they could have a part in the work Christ was doing in Japan.

    Leaders of the 'mega-churches' of today should take note. A church's glory shouldn't be in it's size, or it's membership. It should glory in how many mission churches it has started. How many pastors and teachers it has trained and sent out. How many missionaries it has sent to the field. What impact is it having for Christ in the long term, not just this year. A truly growing church is a church that reproduces -- it creates new bodies of believers everywhere. That should be our goal -- not increasing the amount of bodies we have in a Sunday morning service.


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    I am ..... 

    Just when I swore off these quizzes .... (thanks to Nick at Patriot Paradox)

    What Homestarrunner.com character are you?

    Strong Bad

    You are a funny little character in a mexican wrestling mask that says "holy crap" a lot. You created Trogdor, the BURNINATOR!!!

    Personality Test Results

    Click Here to Take This Quiz
    Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.



    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    5/31/2004

    Study of Mark: Mark 2:18-22 

    18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" 19 And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins."


    A little bit about the fasting: Jews in Christ's time were expected to fast twice each week. Old Testament law only established one fast day each year -- the Day of Atonement. Jesus didn't expect his disciples to follow the extra-biblical rules and regulations of the Pharisees. Fasting was commonly associated with mourning -- Jesus made the point that there was no reason to fast, since He was still with his disciples. There would come a time when He wasn't with them, and that would be the appropriate time to fast and mourn.

    Jesus then teaches in two parables -- the cloth and the wineskins. The point of both parables is the same -- the Gospel cannot be associated with or tied to the self-righteousness and man-made traditions of the Pharisees. God's grace made any man-made attempts at pleasing God irrelevant, and in fact showed that any such attempts always fell short.

    Old wineskins didn't have the elasticity to hold new wine as it fermented. In the same way, the traditions of men often hampered the spread of the Gospel, as Judaizers tried to keep believers bound to the letter of the law. as Christians, we must be careful that, while teaching believers that there is a lifestyle of holiness that we are called to, we do not make holiness a condition of salvation -- as many tend to do. Christ forgives us of our sins, and His righteousness is imputed to us -- it's nothing that we can do ourselves.


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    My Memorial Day 

    Memorial Day hasn't been the same for me for three years. Three years ago, on the last day of exams at the school I was teaching at, at 7:45 in the morning, I was told to call my mother. At the hospital.

    My Dad always had high blood pressure, and was on a variety of medications at different times to try and control his arhythmia. On May 25, 2001, he lost the fight, and went home to be with the Lord.

    My Dad was a member of the Air National Guard in Washington DC during the late 50s and early 60s, right before he and my Mom got married. For a while in the early 60s, he seriously thought he was going to be called up and deployed in West Germany. After leaving the Guard, he started working at the Defense Mapping Agency. In his career, he designed mapping specifications that made field maps much easier to read -- many of his specs are still in use today by the US armed forces as well as many NATO member nations.

    We had never considered that his military service gave him the right to be burried at a National Cemetary until the day he died. We made the phone calls and found that he was entitled to a military burial. We knew that Dad would have loved that, and so we laid him to rest on May 29, 2001 at Barrancas National Cemetary onboard NAS Pensacola.

    I get home close to Memorial Day each year. Today, when we went out to the cemetary to put the flowers, I was as impressed as always with the flags on each grave. I noticed this year that more poeple were there than had been previously -- I guess things are making people more mindful of the service that the military provides.

    I wish sometimes that I could just celebrate the start of summer on Memorial Day. I'd love to just cook burgers and dogs, swim a little bit, and relax. After all, it's the first official day of that time of year all teachers love -- summer vacation. But I can't do that. My Dad's memory won't let me, and it won't let me forget the thousands and thousands of others who gave their lives in the service of this country -- and those who continue to do so daily in the Middle East.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    5/29/2004

    Schedule note and more 

    I'm going to get back onto schedule this week. Mark study on monday night, and TiCH on Wednesday. Assuming this laptop behaves itself, that is ...

    I've got a lot to do this week to get ready for school -- please be praying that I can get everything done.

    I'm also working on a few things to post here -- one on music, one on Bible translation, and a few others. I'll try to spread them out, so there will be one or two a day for a while.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Today in Church History 

    May 30, 1416.

    Today marks the death of a reformer, Jerome of Prague. Hevilly influenced by his friend and mentor, Jan Hus, Jerome brought John Wycliffe's teachings to Bohemia.

    Jerome studied at Oxford in England for several years before leaving to spread the Lollard teachings throughout Europe. Eventually, he was arrested and charged with heresy. After imprisonment and abuse, he finally recanted, only to go back on it in public later on. He was finally burned at the stake, convicted of heresy.

    Modern Christians, especially Protestants, tend to forget that the Reformation didn't happen overnight when Luther posted his 95 Theses. Reformation ideas had been spreading for over a hundred years -- as soon as people were able to read and study the Bible in their own language.

    This was the basis of Wycliffe's teachings. He taught that people should be able to study Scriptures themselves, and be taught in their own language. When the monopoly on Scriptural literacy had been broken, people began to realize that what they had been taught was wrong, and they were outraged. In many cases, their reactions were worse than the offenses against them. It was only the political situation in England that kept Wycliffe from igniting the Reformation a hundred years earlier -- with people like Hus and Jerome helping to spread the word on the continent.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Study of Mark: Mark 2:13-17 

    13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
    15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”


    Jesus takes on a controversial disciple in this passage. Tax collectors were NOT looked on with high regard; in fact, most of them were known to augment their salaries with extra taxes charged to people. And He catches some heat for it.

    This happens a lot in the Church today. Hang out with fellow Christians and nobody has a problem. Start hanging around with "those people" and there will be trouble. Whether it's a bus route with underpriviledged kids, or simply people from a lower economic or social class, befriending people who are "below" us can result in a lot of complaints from the people of God.

    We forget that none of us are righteous on our own. Our righteousness only comes from Christ -- and His righteousness can be imputed to anyone, even the worst of people in the worst of circumstances. Too often, in our zeal to show how good we are, we cause people who need Christ in their lives to ignore the message of Christ.

    Christ reminds us why He came. NOT to call the righteous -- they should know their sins, and know that they need to confess. He has come to call the sinners -- the people who need Him the most. The people who we meet every day. It is our calling to reach out to these people, but we may lose our chance simply because they aren't "our kind" of people.



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    5/26/2004

    Christian Carnival is UP 

    Head over to Parablemania for the Christian Carnival -- 15 Christian blogs that are outstanding reading!

    (oh, and I forgot to mention in my previous post -- 100 posts!! WOO HOO!!!)


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    5/25/2004

    Back in a few! 

    We're headed out on a whitewater rafting expedition, so no posts tonight. Possibly tomorrow, then Thursday we head to Florida to see my Mom. I'm taking my laptop with me, but I don't know if I'll have a chance to post regularly. I WILL post some -- although I've left a few big ones for everyone to digest!


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    5/24/2004

    Here we go again .... 

    So, I'm trying out my new RSS reader, NewsDesk (which is awesome, btw), and one of the blog feeds that comes pre-programmed in the software is Kuro5hin. So I'm reading along, and I come across this article.

    Christian Reconstructionism. The Great Evil which Plagues American Politics (tm).

    {sigh}

    I wouldn't mind these articles if they got the information right. I wouldn't mind it if they didn't try to lump every evangelical Christian into the Reconstructionist camp. Newsflash, folks -- there are very few real Reconstructionists. Unfortunately, the differences are downplayed by everyone and his brother, to try to paint us all with a very broad brush.

    I'm not going to rant about the intersection between Christianity and politics -- I've done that already today. What I AM going to do is try to set a little of the record straight.

    The problem seems to be where Reconstructionists agree with orthodox Christianity. All Christians believe that God should be the center of every Christian's life (another point I've discussed before). This is the nature of faith. I don't know of many Christians (though I'm sure there are some) who don't believe in the return of Christ for His Church -- the Bible clearly teaches this. The point of contention is when. Most Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God. This is an ongoing debate between myself, Back of the Envelope, and Parablemania.

    The thing that bugs me is when people say things like this:
    Much of the modern conservative agenda ties in closely with Reconstructionist beliefs, and are frequently in lock-step with them.
    Modern conservatism is based in a belief in small government -- something that is attractive to Reconstructionists. Simply going the same direction that someone else is doesn't imply a close tie with them.
    Environmentalism - Obviously if you believe that a divine entity has given the Earth to you for you to use as you will, you will be angered at those who seek to stand in your way.
    Actually, having a Diety give you responsibility (which is what the Old Testament concept of dominion entails) over the world demands that you use resources wisely (the basic point of stewardship). This is why many evangelical Christians are paying more attention to environmental issues.
    Civil Liberties - Liberty and freedom are not terms that appear very frequently in Reconstructionist writings, since so much of Reconstructionism is in direct opposition to the principles of freedom.
    On the contrary, the very basis of evangelical Christianity is the freedom we enjoy in Christ.

    I'm not going to do a thorough fisking of the article -- suffice to say that the comments made about Reconstructionism show clearly that it is at odds with evangelical Christianity, and most flavors of fundamentalist Christianity. Any resemblence between actual policy from the Bush administration (or any other administration, for that matter) is more the result of coincidence than any direct influence that Reconstructionists have. Don't worry everyone -- if they try to create a theocracy, evangelical Christians will be on your side, opposing it.

    Of course, everything I've said kinda spoils the stereotype of evangelical Christians, so I doubt anyone will pay a bit of attention to it. I'm finding out that nobody in the world really has any tolerance at all. Not that this surprises me or anything.


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    Ok, let me hear it 

    Tell me what you think of the new color for the side panels. I'm messing around with some combinations right now, and my wife will tell you that I stink at that.

    I like the old color better, but I'm having trouble with the link colors -- unless I go with viewed links and active links as the same color. Let me know, and give me suggestions. If you want, you can email me at wkelly42 AT adelphia.net.

    Thanks!!


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    What is up with THIS????? 

    Click this link, and see what I'm going on about. If this were a British sit-com (OR a Monty Python sketch), I'd be a gruff policeman coming up repeating "Right! What's all this, then?"

    I read this article in the hopes that someone had gotten a late start on April Fool's Day -- or maybe Internet April Fool's Day is actually May 24, or something like that. But no -- these people seem to be quite serious.

    I've made my own opinions on the topic of Christian politics pretty clear before, I think. But I really think that this needs to be addressed.

    This is a stupid idea. Stupider than all Christians leaving public education. No, this nation is not perfect -- far from it. Yes, we probably have a different idea about the Constitution than the founding fathers did. And society in general has really gone to the dogs, in spite of having Christians in government. So what we're going to do is -- create a Christian government. All of our own.

    First of all, we've already got Christians in government, and it isn't working! What makes you think that a new government, run by Christians for Christians, will be able to do things better? Sure, you won't have abortions, you can put blue laws back in force, etc. So what happens the first time a Presbyterian wants to baptize a baby, and the local Baptist church gets mad because that's "un-Christian"? What about the Catholic church down the street that has organized gambling (bingo) to help fund it's activities? Gambling is a sin, after all -- at least it is in many churches.

    Problem is -- whose version of Christian government do we implement? Baptists believe in a separation of Church and State -- no State-run religion for us, see what happened when Constantine did it? -- Government-organized councils deciding church doctrine! None of that for us! Or do you go with the liberal State that is giving to the poor and needy -- free health care, etc. -- Jesus said to do it for the least of these, right? And this is a Christian government, right?

    Can't be done -- unless you only let Christians of your particular denomination in. And if you're a Baptist, good luck. Put two Baptists in a room together, you'll have three opinions on everything. We're troublemakers -- that's our job. In the body of Christ, we are the Achilles tendon -- important, but if we get irritated, everything stops.

    Let's look at the problems they have with the US:
    * Abortion continues against the wishes of many States
    * Children may not pray in our schools*
    * The Bible is not welcome in schools except under strict FEDERAL guidelines
    * The 10 Commandments remain banned from public display
    * Sodomy is now legal AND celebrated as “diversity” rather than perversion
    * Preaching Christianity will soon be outlawed as “hate speech”¹²
    * Gay marriage will be foisted upon us in the very near future


    Abortion continues -- there's a solution for this: teach kids about Jesus! Jesus changes lives! Jesus changes hearts!

    Children may not pray in schools -- bull! Kids can pray anytime they want to, as long as a teacher isn't leading the prayer. With all the complaints about heathen in public education, do you really want them teaching your kids to pray?? Not me -- I'm teaching my own to pray, and letting her know that nobody can keep her from praying.

    Bible not welcome? My wife kept hers on her desk all year long -- at a public school. Did her devotions during her planning period -- at a public school. Get a clue before you spew this garbage. There were kids all year long who read their Bible openly at lunch, and nobody could stop them. It's the law, guys!

    Preaching outlawed as hate speech? Doubtful. If they do it, they'll have to put me in jail, just like they did to the apostles. I won't run away from people who need the Gospel. Preaching is illegal in many parts of the world, and there are God-anointed people preaching in underground churches every day to throngs of believers. Run if you want to -- I'll stick around and do God's work.

    Gay marriage? See my first point. Tell them about Jesus, and He can change them!

    {sigh}.

    This stuff gets me fired up. I'm tired of American Christians whining about how terrible things are, and how rough it is to be a Christian. There are people in the world who would give everything they own to have things as "rough" as we do. We haven't had enough persecution, in my not-so-humble opinion. We've got too many Christians who are comfortable, and when their comfort zone is violated, they want to run away.

    I'm not running. If they make it illegal to preach, who knows -- I may become a preacher after all. If they ban the Bible, I'll buy a press and start printing them. I'm not going to go off to some Christian Utopia and bury my head in the sand and let the rest of the nation go to Hell in a handbasket.


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    Happy Birthday, Nick!! 

    It's now Monday the 24th, and it's officially (by East Coast time, anyway) Nick Queen's birthday. So head over to the Patriot in Exile, and sing Happy Birthday. I think he wants a new hosting service for his birthday -- someone help the guy out!!


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    5/23/2004

    What is Worship? 

    Christian Counterculture this month is devoted to worship. What is it? How do we do it? How don't we do it?

    I like their definition of worship. ". . . living a life that betrays a deep, inward belief in God and His promises". They take this from Romans 12:1 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."Romans 12:1 ESV

    Worship is a lot more than singing catchy songs with your hands in the air. Worship is more than an hour every Sunday morning, an hour Sunday night, and then an hour Wednesday night. The very definition of the word worship in the New Testament is tied to the word service. The word latreuo is translated variously as worship and service throughout the New Testament by the KJV, but almost always as worship by the ESV. The implication in Greek isn't just service, but service that is not compelled or forced. We worship God in what we do for others, not how we act in church!

    Worship leaders: Are you showing your church how to serve God? Are you showing them how to live their lives as living sacrifices? Or are you leading a few catchy choruses and calling that worship?

    In his Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes has this to say:

    This is the offering which the apostle entreats the Romans to make: to devote themselves to God, as if they had no longer any claim on themselves; to be disposed of by him; to suffer and bear all that he might appoint; and to promote his honor in any way which he might command. This is the nature of true religion.


    So our 'reasonable service' (KJV and NKJV), our 'spiritual worship' (ESV) is total, 100% devotion to God. We have no claim to our lives -- we belong to God. But do we live that way? When we do, we can truly say that we are worshipping God. Otherwise, we're just singing trite songs.


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    Through the BlogRoll 

    Just really quickly, a few things of note from my blogroll that you all might have missed:

    Parablemania has a great post about different translations of the Bible that is must reading. He takes a rather complex subject and makes it pretty easy to understand. And I agree with him, for the most part -- I'm still torn as far as the Byzantine Text vs. Alexandrian Text arguement (and it's NOT because I think that everything that comes out of Egypt is evil -- a typical KJVO arguement). My two main Bible translations are the ESV and the NKJV -- one modern and one TR. I'll probably be out of seminary before I get this issue finally resolved in my mind. I just wish more people would educate themselves on this subject -- it would eliminate a lot of confusion and conflict.

    Over at Patriot Paradox In Exile, the judging for the first round of King of the Blogs is in: I came in fourth, but it was a CLOSE fourth. I'll do this again in a few months.

    Jollyblogger has a great article about Al Mohler's idea of theological triage. I think I need to start reading Mohler's blog regularly; but if I don't, I know I can read Jollyblogger and get the good stuff.

    One of my favorites, and something I'm going to talk about a bit later, maybe Monday or Tuesday if I don't get it finished tonight, is from Dialog:Breaking the Bubble. It's from more than a week ago, but I really think that every "godblogger" should sit back and think about it. I'm not talking about bloggers who just happen to be Christians, but Christians who write Christian blogs. What are we writing them for? More exactly, who are we writing them for? I'll give you my answer as soon as I figure out what it is, exactly. In the meantime, go check out Michelle's blog -- she's got some interesting stuff there.


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    5/22/2004

    I Can't Stop Laughing!!! 

    Finally go over to Holy Observer -- the new issue came out about a week ago.

    For the CCM haters out there, the people who think that CCM needs to have more theologically deep lyrics, check out this article particularly. And PLEASE download the MP3. I'm burning this to a CD and cranking it up next time I go cruising ....

    They also weigh in on the Jesus Merchandising Trend (tm), which is getting to be a pet peeve of mine as well. Especially after I saw the merchandising for The Passion.

    I could go on, but then you wouldn't have to go there, so go there, read, and come back!


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    Somebody Agrees With Me!! (Sort of) 

    Rev. Jim West has authored a resolution for presentation at the Southern Baptist National Convention that is pro-public school. I am especially encourages by West's statement that "We're supposed to minister to the world, not be afraid of it."

    Now, I don't think that Southern Baptists fear the world. There are things we don't like about it, but we're not afraid, and I'm not sure that this resolution, the one that prompted Rev. West's resolution as well as my article from May 15, was made out of fear of the world. I think that the intentions were good -- eliminate a bad influence from our kids. I just don't think that pulling Christians out of public schools is the answer.

    As I said before, there are a lot of Christians in public education. We are as vocal as we can be -- and you'd be surprised at what we're allowed to do. Any questions we're asked, we can answer. None of my students were surprised to see me filling out paperwork for Southern while they were taking a test a few months ago. It comes down to knowing your rights, and being willing to defend them.

    In a discussion on another forum, I was told about a student who was threatened with suspension for reading his Bible during silent reading time. I was told this was an example of how bad public education is. It is actually an example of how little people understand the rights of Christian students in public schools, because this was patently illegal. It's something that I've wished happened to a kid at my school -- I'd love to be in on that kind of battle. I think even the ACLU would back us up on that one, the law is that clear. I was told that the parent didn't want to make waves.

    That's the problem. We'd rather be comfortable. We don't want to have to answer any tough questions. If the going gets tough, we'd rather jump ship. I have no problem at all with Christian education, or homeschooling -- we've considered both for our daughter, because she won't be going to public schools if we're still living here when she starts school. NOT because of poor influences, or 'secular humanism', or anything like that. Because I want her to learn something, and the elementary schools around here are pathetic. There were seventh graders this year in junior high who couldn't read. Eighth graders who couldn't tell time. And they were passed on, because otherwise their self esteem would be hurt. These kids don't know what 'self esteem' means!!! And we have to make sure they can pass a graduation test that none of them can read. That's No Child Left Behind. But that's another rant for another day.

    I'm glad that someone in the SBC has stepped up to defend Christians in public education. I'd love to be at the Convention this year -- it should be an interesting fight.


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    5/21/2004

    Patriot Paradox In Exile 

    Just got this email from Nick Queen at Patriot Paradox:


    As many of you probably know by now my site, Patriot Paradox went down
    recently due to bandwidth issues. It will re-open at www.patriot-paradox.com on June 1st, but until then I have opened
    a site up, in exile, at s88888536.onlinehome.us.


    Stop by and let him know you heard about it HERE!!!


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    5/20/2004

    Today in Church History 

    March 20, 325.

    312 bishops of the newly-legalized Christian Church meet in Nicea at the behest of the Emperor of the Roman Empire himself. Their task? To determine, once and for all, what the Church believes about the nature of Christ -- was He God, Man, or both?

    The conflict started because of a teacher named Arius. Arius claimed that Jesus was simply a creation of God. He was the first creature, but only a creature. Hi substance and nature were not the same as God's, and there was a time when He did not exist.

    In the other corner was Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He was appauled at the suggestion that Christ was less than God. The dispute caused conflicts all over the Empire, and Emperor Constantine wanted it stopped -- quickly.

    Many of the bishops present had suffered greatly under the rule of Diocletian. They had risked their lives for the faith, and for Christ. They couldn't stand to see this man Arius make Christ into a simple man -- He was God incarnate! When a bishop rose to defend Arius, they tore the speach from his hands. The conflict threatened the unity of the Church.

    After much debate and arguement (and there IS a difference between the two!), the issue was finally resolved. God and Christ were the same substance (in Greek, homoousion). Christ was co-eternal with God. But in many ways, Nicea only started the theological ball rolling. Later councils would argue about the nature of Christ, the virgin birth, and other Christological concerns. But without the Council of Nicea, there would have been no starting point at all.



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    POLL Results!! 

    Ok, here are the results from the poll. It was my first poll, and I may or may not do more. Results were interesting:

    NKJV -- 40%
    NASB -- 20%
    RSV and NLT -- 10% each
    Other got 20% of the 10 votes I received, but only one person told me what their other was -- the NRSV.

    None of my KJVO buddies from the Fundamentalist Forums showed up, obviously. Interesting that the top two are two of the three main versions I use -- the ESV being the third. I'm using that one more and more lately.

    BTW -- I WILL have the TiCH (Today in Church History) post up later. I apologize for not doing it yesterday -- we had a death in my wife's family, so we were getting ready to have company descend on us. I'll have it up shortly.


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    The Truth Is Out There 

    I had to call Illuminati Central about this post. I worried that it gave away too much of our plans.

    They said not to worry -- it sounded sarcastic enough that people wouldn't believe it. And I THINK that Kate is in on it all, anyway. Good job!


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    5/19/2004

    My Life: The Movie????? 

    Deep in the heart of Southern Ohio, a conversation is taking place ....

    Him: I called that guy from Hollywood back this afternoon. You won't believe what he wanted to talk about?
    Her: Let me guess -- View From the Pew: The Movie?
    Him: Nope. ME: The Movie.
    Her: WHAT??????
    Him: My thoughts exactly. Apparantly, there's interest in the lives of seminarian/bloggers. Somewhere.
    Her(chuckling obnoxiously under her breath): So what kind of movie is it going to be?
    Him: Good question. Problem is, my life isn't consistant enough for a movie. It could be a drama about a loving husband and father who has to spend time away from home to get his education. Could be a comedy about some of the stupid things that father has gotten himself into.
    Her: Really!! Remember that time ...
    Him: No, I don't. It could also be a buddy movie.
    Her: You don't have any friends.
    Him: You're not helping!! It could even be a sports movie -- life has sure thrown me a lot of curves, but I've hit a few out of the park.
    Her: You don't even LIKE baseball!!!
    Him: Could be a LOT of different movies. Maybe I should talk to him about a miniseries. Or sequals.
    Her: Can you do a sequal about a life story? Wouldn't that be the afterlife story?
    Him: Very funny. We did decide on one thing, though.
    Her: What's that?
    Him: Matthew Broderick plays me. Ever since that girl at college said I looked like Ferris Beuhler, I've thought he should play me. And he needs the movie work.
    Her: To capture the real you, it would have to be an animated movie. They could re-use the artwork from Toy Story -- you look a LOT like Woody.


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    Christian Carnival is Up!!! 

    Head on over to Back of the Envelope for this week's Christian Carnival. I've got to say, every time I read one of these, I find new blogs to read. Pretty soon, I won't have time to do anything but read blogs and write mine.


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    5/18/2004

    What Kind of Pray-er Are YOU?? 

    Spare Change is proving to me that I need to read it daily. Read this post, and ask yourself -- what kind of pray-er am I?


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    Rebecca St. James is "sad" for Britney 

    This article on CNN pretty much says it all.

    I feel sorry for Britney. She's marketed herself based on pure sexuality -- how long can that last? Of course, I don't feel TOO sorry for her -- by the time that marketing scheme stops working, she'll be filthy stinking rich. Then she can retire and campaign for feminist causes, bemoaning the plight of American women who are treated like sex objects.

    I'm glad that RSJ spoke her mind. Of course, there's always the "she had to know that every news source in the world would pick up on this interview, and run with it. Is she just after publicity?" And I'm cynical enough to have thought that at first. It won't get her new fans, since her "target demographic" are usually Britney's big fans. It won't make her more popular in Christian circles -- she's already huge there. And the statements are VERY consistant with her lifestyle, and her associations with groups like The Silver Ring Thing.

    Britney Spears is stuck. She is too far down this road to go back if she wants to have a career. Maybe RSJ's statements will make young girls think about a few things, though. There IS another way, and it's working all over the world.


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    5/17/2004

    Study of Mark: Mark 2:1-12 


    Mark 2:1-12 ESV And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. (2) And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. (3) And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. (4) And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. (5) And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." (6) Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, (7) "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (8) And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? (9) Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? (10) But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the paralytic -- (11) "I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home." (12) And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"

    People are still bringing the sick to see Jesus -- he's nothing more than a healer to many. I love the story of the paralytic whose friends brought him to see Jesus -- they knew that Jesus could help their friend, and they got him to Jesus however they could!

    They got something rather unexpected. Instead of healing, Jesus forgave the man's sins. People were in shock. They knew what Jesus was claiming, even then! It amazes me that people claim Jesus never said He was God -- right here, He is claiming a power that God alone has -- the power to forgive sins. He doesn't say "God has forgiven you". He doesn't say "Be good and you'll be OK". He actually, right then and there, forgives the man's sin. And then confronts the people around Him with their own thoughts!

    Which is easier to say? Neither one is particularly difficult to pronounce, so that isn't Jesus' point. I can walk around all day and say to people "Your sins are forgiven", and it means nothing. I can still say it, though. Nobody will know I'm lying until they stand before God and He informs them that they were deceived. How do you show authority? How do you show people that you are the One who can forgive sin? Jesus shows them. He has power over illness and disability.

    He also shows us why He did the healing miracles. It wasn't just to make people well -- I'm sure there were many people in Israel at that time who never received healing. He wasn't doing it because people aren't supposed to be sick, or that believers aren't supposed to be sick. He did it so that the people would know that He had the authority from God to forgive sins. It was a calling card, so to speak. To emphasize His point, He heals the paralytic, who walks out of the house praising God.

    I've noticed that repeatedly, the people who Christ heals leave Him praising God. They knew Who had healed them. These Jews, who had never worshipped anyone but God, left praising the God who had healed them. Maybe they thought that Jesus was merely His instrument. That all changed that day in Capernaum. Jesus laid claim to the authority to forgive sins, and His ministry was never the same. People had to decide to follow Him NOT based on His healing, but based on who He said He was.

    We have to make the same choice today. Do we simply follow Christ because we wnat to have the 'Get Out of Hell Free' card? Because Jesus is "the Good Guy"? Or do we follow Him because we believe His claims to be God. We accept Who He is, and we have faith in what He did for us, and trust only in that for our eternal salvation. Following a God that is simply a cosmic gumball machine is not an option. That god is not the God of the Bible, or of Christianity. I'm not really sure that god is worth worshipping at all. Thankfully, my God is much more than that.


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    Christian Carnival Alert!! 

    HEY YOU!!!!!

    Yeah, you. Sitting there eating Fritos and writing your blog. You want fame? You want fortune?

    Then get a real job. You want people to read your blog? Then send it in!!!

    This week, the Christian Carnival is hosted at Back of the Envelope -- the first blog I read every day (and I'd say that even if my blogroll wasn't in alphabetical order! Send an email to him at cranksha@ece.rochester.edu, including the following information:

    Title of your Blog
    URL of your Blog
    Title of your post
    URL linking to that post
    Description of the Post

    Do that, and before you know it the blogosphere will be singing your praises .... well, they'll know who you are, anyway. Hey, it's a start! So get writing, and send it in!


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    MGM -- Do They Really Get It?? 

    MGM has a new movie coming out called "Saved!". The movie is about a Christian teen (Jena Malone), attending a stereotypical Baptist high school, who becomes pregnant when she tries to "convert" her gay boyfriend by having sex with him. Of course, she instantly becomes an outcast at her school -- the "good kids" don't like her anymore since she's now a dirty, rotten sinner. The essential plot of the movie, as near aas I can tell, is that Christians aren't tolerant, they don't love sinners, and you'd better watch out or they're gonna get you.

    In and of itself, I have no real issue with the movie. I've known Christians who treated pregnant classmates in just that way. I know far more, though, who treated everyone with compassion, just as Christ did. I am, of course, used to Hollywood trying to tweek Christians, and it seems that this movie just capitalizes on the current trend of Christian-bashing. I don't really expect anything more out of Hollywood -- that's why I can be pleasantly surprised with things like The Passion of the Christ.

    The problem I have is that MGM is apparantly hoping that Christians will like this movie. I am a former marketing major. I have always enjoyed advertising and marketing -- and if I may brag for a minute, I was pretty good at it. I would love to meet the marketing idiots who saw this movie and said, "Hmmm. Christian kids beat down the poor pregnant girl. The whole high school is Baptist, and they're hypocrites. The conservative Christians should love this one. Lets market it to them!". If I were in charge of production at MGM, I'd have an entirely new marketing department by the end of this week.

    Reading some reviews of the film, one thing becomes obvious -- the filmmakers don't know anything about the evangelical "subculture". The movie is lettered with stereotypes, right down to the preacher, who has an affair with one of the kid's parents. It would be nice if Hollywood would actually do their research when they make a movie about us, but I guess that's hoping a little too much.

    I'm not sure how offensive the movie would be -- I have to agree that there are Christian kids who act just like the kids in the movie; uncaring, unsympathetic, comdemning, etc. Of course, that describes just about any group of teenagers that I've ever been associated with, Christian or not. And maybe, in the end, that will be the salvation of this movie's box office. It will give the non-Christian kids someone to point at and say "I may not be a Christian, but at least I'm not as bad as they are! Look at me -- I'm tolerant!".

    And in the end, nothing changes. More people to look down their noses at Christians -- none of whom actually act anything like the people in the movie. Another stereotype, so that people don't have to be bothered to actually find out what other people are really like. Sounds like more of that tolerance stuff to me. The more tolerance I see, the more I realize that Christians have it down pretty well -- in fact, the Spanish Inquisition was probably more tolerant than anyone in the last hundred years.


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    5/16/2004

    Just What the Heck is a Fundamentalist, Realy, Anyway 

    I could have subtitled this "Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism part 100", and I promise that I'll get off this soapbox very soon. I found this over at the Fundamentalist Forums, and thought I'd share. Be sure to read the whole thread -- and I'm going out looking for Jerry Sutton's book tomorrow.

    i'm going off to bed now -- I'll have some more commentary on this later on Sunday.


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    Just a quick note 

    I don't know how much I'm going to write tonight. We're on the road again, and the Internet access is limited. Also, I'm finding out that the caps keys on this laptop stick, so I'm going to have to do some editing when I get home to the real computer.

    I've also got a template redesign in the works -- I'll put a sample up somewhere so everyone can see it and comment on it when I get it finished. Possibly by Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how much I can do while my kids are taking finals next week. It will address some issues that people have brought to my attention, but that I haven't really known what to do about until now (I'm learning to use style sheets, so I can correct some of the messy HTML code I've written here).

    Well, I'm off looking through my blogroll to see if something inspires me. If not -- more Mark study tomorrow -- we start Chapter 2!


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