Thursday, February 25, 2010

DeYoung “Toying With” a Great Point

Just to be clear, I am not against working for societal change, helping the poor, or ministering to the sick. I am hugely for all these things. But the idea I’m toying with is that maybe these things do not constitute the mission of the church. Certainly, we love our neighbor as ourselves in obedience to Christ, which will entail different individual callings and different responses depending on the situation. We are called to do good to all people, especially to those of household of faith (Gal. 6:10). So we need no excuse to love others. Praise God for Christian doctors, teachers, and relief workers all around the world. But it seems to me the mission of the church, what God wants to accomplish on earth through us, is not the meeting of all human needs nor the transforming of all cultures, but the discipling of all nations.

From here.

To me, the issue is not whether Christians should be in favor of societal change of all type (i.e., social justice). The issue is whether or not that is the mission of the church as the church.

Interestingly, in the gospels, we see Jesus leaving certain places before all the people were healed. We see him in certain places intentionally not doing miracles of healing and restoration (Matthew 13:58). We see him in one place leaving only crumbs for the dogs, so to speak, and that only after a heart-felt appeal for mercy (Matthew 15:21-28). And then there’s the comments of Jesus about Tyre and Sidon that if he had done certain miracles there they would have repented (Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13). How staggering is that to our theology? Jesus did not do the very thing that he knows would have brought repentance. Did he not want these people to repent?

These should be thought provoking for anyone who thinks seriously about the mission of Jesus and social justice, and the mission of the church and the gospel.

We can debate the reasons for these passages and other like them, but it seems that Jesus’ mission was not complete social justice. He left some thing unjust, for various reasons.

While that might not make you think, it does make me think …

Genesis, the Resurrection, and History

RJS over at Jesus Creed relates a letter he recently received, from which I quote here:

I agree ... that it is helpful to understand Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis as mytho-historical.  … My question relates to how to handle this issue when teaching my kids the Bible stories. My oldest is 5 yrs. old. She doesn't have any idea what "mytho-historical" means. To her, the story in Genesis 1 and 2 is no different from the resurrection story when I read it out of a kids' Bible stories book. One is naturally as historical as the other, in her mind.

To me, that is pretty interesting. Someone just reading the text without burden or prejudice, thinks that Genesis 1-2 sound like real events, just like the resurrection.

The letter continues:

Is it better to wait until kids are older to begin to discuss these issues? If not now, at what age, and what is a good way to raise it? And if I wait, do I set up a crisis of faith when she later learns that I don't really view Genesis 1 & 2 (and perhaps other passages) as history in the same way I view the other, central NT stories I've been teaching her.

I think you will set up a crisis of faith when she discovers this strange hermeneutic you have. My guess is that she will wonder why, if Genesis 1-2 are not actual history, you think the resurrection and other NT stories are.

I have to admit I wonder the same thing.

I think it smacks of what my theology professor used to refer to as “brush pile theology.” It is theology that is unintegrated with the whole of revelation. It’s what leads us to say that “this is historical and this is not” and then just leave the piles sitting there uncomfortably separated, sticking out a like a haystack in the Biltmore house. Everyone knows there is something wrong, but it’s at the Biltmore house, right? Surely they don’t make such a mistake. It’s an emperor with no clothes. But because some PhD from TopNotch U said it, people fall in line.

Now make no mistake. There are hard historical questions in the Bible. But Genesis 1-2 is not one of them. It could hardly be easier.

He ends with:

Any wise advice from others who've already confronted this issue with young kids would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Here’s my advice: Believe that Genesis 1-2 is actual history and teach your children to believe that. It brings several benefits.

First, you will be like Jesus and the rest of the biblical authors who believed that Genesis 1-2 were actual history, and that’s pretty good company to be in.

Second, you won’t have to deal with the burdens of a scientific community who can’t explain why things are the way they are, but you can rather recognize that things are the way they are because God created them with order just the way that  he said he did. The reality is that there is too much in the “scientific community” that makes no sense in their worldview (and most of them know it). Only in the biblical worldview with a Creator God as revealed in Genesis 1-2 does the material world actually make sense.

Third, you won’t have to find some torturous explanation for your daughter as to why some of the Bible is worthy of your belief but other parts are not.

Simplistic? Sure

Out of touch with reality? According to some … some who are not omniscient, who have hard questions because we do not know everything.

Since we do not know everything, it seems a reach to assert that Genesis 1-2 is not actual history since there is nothing in either the text or the material world that would lead us to believe that.

So why not simply say that?

I don’t know …

Jesus and the Kingdom

I have recently read two claims that are almost identical: Jesus spoke of the kingdom over one hundred times and the church only two or three times (one source said two, and one said three).

This was used to argue that the church should be about the kingdom work, ostensibly because Jesus was about kingdom work.

Now both of these sources are big on contextualization. And I think they have both missed the point.

Here’s my point: The reason Jesus spoke of the kingdom more than one hundred times and the church only a couple was precisely because of contextualization. He was preaching a message to the audience that was in front of him—an audience of people of the Jewish nation to whom the kingdom had been promised. Therefore he contextualized his message for the culture (Jewish) and the people (Jews) that were in front of him listening to him. He was not preaching to the church or preaching about the church. So why would Jesus mention the church to people for whom the church meant nothing (because it did not yet exist)?

He wouldn’t.

So counting the number of times Jesus spoke of the kingdom vs. the church does not help our eschatology or our ecclesiology unless we contextualize the message.

It would be more helpful, in my view, to look at how Acts and the Epistles deal with the kingdom and the church. One source points out that Paul spoke of the church forty-five times (a number certainly way below the actual count) and the kingdom only fourteen. And we have to get past word counts and look at contexts and how the two are presented.

I think that will give us a different picture of the issue at hand, and will be more helpful to us in our question to understand ecclesiology.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Introduction to History and Historiography

At the outset of a discussion of the history, historicity, and historiography of the biblical text of the Old Testament, it is necessary to understand exactly what is being discussed. R. K. Harrison, in his Introduction to the Old Testament says, “It the best sense of the term, the objective of history, as a branch of research or inquiry in the field of the humanities, is the investigation of human activities in a given period or periods of the past with a view to discerning the nature and significance of man’s achievements” (Harrison, IOT, p. 291).

This definition contains two key features. First, it is “the investigation of human activities in a given period or periods of time.” It therefore requires research into past people, acts, and events. Second, it is done to “discern the nature and significance of man’s achievements.” It therefore requires interpretation of the research, which will inevitably be done with the presuppositions and biases of the historian dictating both what is included and what is said about what is included.

Historiography, of necessity, must include a perspective. There is, in the simple recording of an act of history, an act of interpretation since the author is interpreting the event as worthy to be remembered by a future generation. The author may, as he sees fits, further enlarge on his view of the significance of the event, informing the reader as to why the author considered this event worthy of record.

In fact, it is impossible to write history without making judgments based something as simple as what should or should not be included (“Is it important for my point?”) or on something as complex as why certain things happened as they did. As a result there is a certain amount of subjectivity in historiography as the author chooses material, arranges that material, and interprets that material to make his point.

History is sometimes viewed under two broad headings known by their German names: historie and geschichte. The former, historie, deals with facts—the events that actually happened. Its concern is for the facticity, or the actuality of the events. Geschichte deals with the contemporary significance of the events. “It goes beyond or ignores (even denies) the element of facticity. In the case of the OT, it deals with what Israel believed happened, not what actually may have happened.”[1] While this division easily lends itself to a critical view of OT history, it need not necessarily do so. It is clear that there are objective facts of history. Yet it is also clear that there are subjective understandings of those events. Furthermore, in the writing of history there is a necessary selectivity (to be addressed later). That is, it would be impossible for a particular author to say everything that there is to say about an event due to many constraints, not the least of which is his personal bias about the meaning of the event combined with his less than complete knowledge of the event. Even if he was there to witness the event from a completely neutral perspective (likely impossible in any event), he has no access to the mind of the participants that would enable him to explain why the participants acted or reacted as they did. In short, he can see the actions, and he can hear what the participants might tell him about their perspective of a situation, but that knowledge is limited, and will inevitably be processed through his own perspective.

There is a third German word, heilgeschichte, that means “salvation history.” While the word in and of itself need not be particularly troubling, it is used by some to discount the historicity or factuality of the Bible in favor of seeing a free reign of the author to tell the story however he wants (without necessary regard to truth or fact) for the purpose of telling a story of salvation. For these, the Bible’s authority is limited to matters of salvation, not to matters of history, science, or the like.

Such a limitation is inherently problematic since it assigns varying levels of authority to the statements of Scripture in an arbitrary fashion. The Bible makes no distinction between different types of facts. Indeed, many of the teachings of “salvation” are based on the historicity of the stories in question.

[1]David M. Howard, Jr. An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books (Chicago: Moody Press, 1993), p. 41.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Apple Bans Certain Apps From IPhone

Word is out that Apple has banned certain apps from the IPhone.

People are upset about it, as you can see in the comments here and here (and a lot of others places as well).

Here’s my response:

First, good for Apple. The one thing the world needs more of is portable p0rnography. Or not. Whatever their reasons, it is good to see Apple taking a stand on this issue, or though it is probably not driven by actual morality.

Second, this approach to business is probably why Apple has such a small percentage of the computer market, and why prices on Apple computers are so high. From the beginning, Apple was tightly controlled in their hardware and so there were no “Apple-compatibles” like there were “IBM-compatibles.” And without the market in hardware, there is no reason to invest in writing software. You can argue all day long you are paying for quality. But people who don’t use Apples, or have used both, know the truth and so they won’t buy it. But like Apple, you can try to keep selling it.

(Or if you want to buy me a Macintosh Laptop to try, I will be glad to try it myself again.)

Smart business decision? Probably not. Apple has made lots of money, but probably not nearly so much as they could have. And Microsoft rules the world of computers. 

Third, if you don’t like Apple’s approach to IPhone apps, you are more than welcome to get another phone. No one is forcing you to use an IPhone. You can build your own phone. Or simply pick another. Or do without. Face it, we lived for years without cell phones, and it would probably be a better way of life to return to that (at least in some respects).

It always makes me laugh when people respond as some have to this, thinking they are entitled to do whatever they want to do with something they bought. You’re not. You live in a false world imbued with a false sense of entitlement. (Look up “imbued” on your dictionary app if you don’t know what it means.)

So that’s my technology rant for the day (posted from my HP laptop which is a horrible laptop that I can’t stand … over my wireless broadband internet connection from Comcast which is way too expensive but thanks to our great neighborhood, my only other option dial-up).

On Contextualization and Adaptation

My friend Dave has an excellent introductory post on the issue of contextualization and cultural adaptation. I have referenced this issue before, most recently here.

But Dave gets to the point pretty quickly, and in his characteristically helpful way.

IMO, this is probably a lot easier than most people think, but you cannot sell books and get conference invitations saying that.

Thanks, Dave, for this and for your ministry.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The History of the Bible

“One of the most universal human impulses can be summed up in a familiar four-word plea: Tell me a story.”[1]

History is, at its most basic element, a story. It is the retelling of past events. The history in the Bible is no different. It is made up of stories—stories about people and events; stories about everyday life and the life of the supernatural; stories about intrigue and mystery; stories about betrayal and deception; stories about conquest and victory; stories about defeat and humiliation; stories about love; stories about hate. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a modern (or ancient) literary theme that is not found in the pages of Scripture.

Leland Ryken says, “…imagine yourself trying to describe the content of the Bible to someone who has never read the Bible. You would very quickly find yourself describing what happens in the Bible, and to ‘tell what happens’ is to tell a story.”[2] In fact, out of sixty-six books of Scripture, twenty-two of them, or one-third, is narrative. The Bible has 1,186 chapters of which 553 (46%) are narrative.

It quickly becomes clear that God has invested much in “telling the story” his way, and it is in this story that we are to see God. We use the word “narrative” because “story” has gained a mythical or fictional connotation.[3] Narrative “narrates” an event or series of events.

Stories are very effective ways of teaching. It helps the reader to enter into the lives of others and experience life as they experienced it (cf. 2 Sam 12:7 – You are the man). It reminds the reader that human nature has not changed all that much while human history has.

[1] Leland Ryken, Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), p. 35.

[2] Ryken, Words of Delight, p, 35.

[3] Fee and Stuart, How to Read the Bible, 2nd ed, p. 79.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Here’s My Take on Tiger Woods

I may be the last person in the world to comment on Tiger Woods publically. I know I am late to the party, but here’s my take.

This morning, for the first time, he spoke publicly about the disaster that is his life. Most disasters this big receive money from FEMA. He actually lost money, but somehow I think he will manage to scrape a life together out of what’s leftover.

So here I go:

First, the guy is an amazing golfer. He is the best of his generation. Best of all time? Before declaring that, I would like to see him play in the era of Nicklaus, Watson, Palmer, and the fellows … with their equipment and their balls. But you can’t sneeze at fourteen majors and more than seventy wins.

Second, the guy is a world-class jerk. I am not talking about his marriage (yet). I am talking about him. The media paints it as mental toughness, devotion to winning, desire to dominate, and a host of other things. I call it being an idiot, lacking class. The better of an athlete you are, the less you should need the “game face.” In my view, the “game face” is for people who don’t have the game without the face.

Third, the guy owned his problems today. Good. He did not blame anyone else. Good. Hopefully, he means it.

Fourth, he owes nobody anything except his wife, his family, and his employers (i.e., sponsors). Listening to people rant about how the fans need an apology is stupid. Listen to radio personalities and columnists whine about him not taking any questions is also stupid. He owes you no answers to your dumb questions. He owes me, nor anyone else out here, anything.

Fifth, he is returning to his childhood faith, Buddhism. He hopes this will help him center his life and live according to his values. Good, I guess. If you are going to live in this world, you should do something and believe something that will make you a better person.  Hopefully he will do that.

The truth is that Buddhism probably will help him get what he wants because he appears to want his life back, meaning his wife and kids, his sponsors, and his golf.

However, Buddhism won’t help in the long run because it does nothing to address the real problems of his life, which is the fact that he stands under the judgment of the one true and living God. Buddhism can’t fix that. Buddhism can’t atone for his sins (and he can’t either). Buddhism might help him live better but it won’t help die well. Only Jesus can do that.

Sixth, listening to one of the many side flings complain about not deserving what she got is perhaps the highlight of the whole sordid affair (no pun intended). Here, a former p0rn star actress complains that a guy carries on a sexual relationship with her and then walks away from it. Wow, never experienced that before? She complains he lied to her. What did she expect? He’s committing adultery. Of course he is lying.

She thinks she deserves an apology. She says she would take one over the phone but she thinks it should be face to face. The cynical side of me says that she owes him a cut of her royalties since very few people would have heard of her if not for this, and the money she makes off of stories is only because of him.

The other side of me says she should be too embarrassed to be seen in public. Just go away.

In fact, I wish the whole story would go away. It pure voyeurism.

So here’s my conclusion:

Remember the cross. Jesus died to save your from the power of sinful fantasies and dangerous relationships. Jesus died for the sin that you think you can’t live without. He died to give you something bigger to live for than the next sexual high. So act like it. Cry over it. Rejoice in it. Run to the cross.

Guard your heart. As this story reminds us, having an trophy wife won’t keep you from looking elsewhere. So men, if you think your problem in your marriage is that your wife doesn’t look a certain way, you’re lying to yourself. Stop it now. Repent of it.

Guard your marriage, whether you have money or not. Do not let outside influences in, even in the recesses of your mind. You can think things and no one will know … for a while … perhaps for a long while. But you’re playing with fire. And more often than not, fire will burn you. Don’t hide things in your life. Be transparent. Be open. Be communicating. And be loving God more than your spouse or your marriage.

Live in a constant state of avoiding sin (not just turning from it). Don’t put yourself in unnecessarily dangerous situations. It’s not worth it, not because you will lose millions of dollars from sponsors. It will cost your far more than that.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


“Group II includes a lot of church members, and even some Christians” (John MacArthur, Why Believe the Bible, p. 7).

Not particularly inspirational, I know. And it probably won’t cause you to go out and charge hell with a squirt gun.

But the subtle dichotomy between church members and Christians probably has some meat in it.

Monday, February 15, 2010


In this except from a new book, a Christian band member speaks of their music being “worshunk,” a “mixture of worship and pop punk.”

Excellent. Creative. Transcendent. Glorious. Relevant.


“Worshunk” strikes me as the end (or perhaps only the middle) of the idea that attaching some spiritual terminology to anything sanctifies it for Christian worship.

And vulnerability is key. I know Paul left it out of the fruit of the Spirit, but that was probably an oversight on his part. He surely meant to include it, since it is the key to spiritual growth and effective ministry.

Now I don’t doubt the usefulness of vulnerability. I find it helpful, particularly to gain some points from others when I am looking for emotional support in my quest for character, or at least acceptance. If people see me as vulnerable, they will surely respect me more, and be willing to open up and hear my story. You know, of course, that the words of Scripture are to no avail if we are not vulnerable.

Now, perhaps this band member is simply a product of the author’s imagination. Perhaps … but it is believable, and that may be the biggest irony, since I am not sure the author is setting out to show the silliness of much of contemporary worship.

The truth is that this chapter is a good demonstration of the silliness of a lot of what goes on in Christian music, and Christianity in general. People have come up with the idea that if we are serious about junk, it really isn’t junk.

And that, my friends, is an insight you should take to your next dining out adventure. Don’t worry about propriety, cleanliness, and quality. In fact, don’t even worry if what is on your plate is the same thing you ordered. Just ask if your server is well-meaning.

Don’t ask if your mechanic is qualified, whether he (or she, because the field of mechanicdom is certainly egalitarian) knows the difference between an alternator and an oil-pan. Just ask if he is sincere.

Truth be told, I found this chapter is a bit humorous, not in a LOL kind of way, but rather in a silly-grin, roll-your-eyes kind of way. And I would actually like to read the book, though I am not particularly interested in buying it since it doesn’t look like a “keeper.”

Yes, I am cheap. I only like to buy books that I think will have ongoing benefit in some way or another. And this looks like a one-time read for fun just before bed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Great Commission Compiled

While it is customary for believers to think about the Great Commission in terms of Matthew 28:19-20, there are actually five passages that communicate the Great Commission: Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21; and Acts 1:8.

By looking at these passages together, we can get a full sense of the mission to which God has called the church.

I have compiled it this way:

The Great Commission is to go[1] with the authority of Jesus[2] and the presence of Jesus[3] in the power of the Spirit[4] to all people groups,[5] preaching the gospel[6] calling people to repent and believe on Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins,[7] and incorporating them into visible churches through baptism[8] and teaching them the commands of Jesus[9] so that they become disciples who believe his word and obey his commands.[10]

[1]Matt 28:19; Acts 1:8; cf. Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21

[2]Matt 28:18; Acts 1:8; John 20:21

[3]Matt 28:20

[4]Acts 1:8

[5]Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8

[6]Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8

[7]Luke 24:46-47

[8]Matt 28:19

[9]Matt 28:20

[10]Matt 28:19-20;

Dave Doran, pastor of Inter-City Baptist Church and president of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary has an excellent extended discussion of the Great Commission in the book For the Sake of His Name: Challenging a New Generation for World Missions (Allen Park, MI: Student Global Impact, 2002), pp. 68-154.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Strange Omission

A major evangelical seminary is holding a conference on Science and Faith.

And yet they are apparently excluding one of the major evangelical views of science and faith, namely young earth creationism.

Whether one agrees with young earth creationism or not, it is undeniable that it is a major contender in the realm of biblical worldviews, and that it has solid answers for pressing questions both of the text of Scripture and of origins.

So why does an evangelical seminary exclude this view in  a conference on the topic? Someone please tell me.

Now, I know at the beginning that this post will draw two responses. Some will like it and agree, and others will find me hopelessly out of touch with reality. Almost no one will be in the middle.

But here I go anyway …

The distaste for the biblical teaching on origins is distressing to me. It is completely needless and quite frankly, ridiculous.

Personally, I think it shows the seduction of academic respectability. It is not respectable to be a young earth creationist. So people abandon it, not because the text demands it (it doesn’t), and not because the physical world demands it (it doesn’t either), but because the academy does.

I think “science” as traditionally conceived is the enemy of faith because it tells us that the history of the Bible cannot be trusted. And if the history of the Bible cannot be trusted, why should its religion be trusted?

It boggles my mind that people who believe in the resurrection for which there is absolutely no scientific evidence or proof (only revelation) refuse to believe in the biblical record of creation (for which there is not only revelation, but scientific correlation, meaning that what we see in the world around us through science is completely consistent with the biblical account of six day creationism). At least the liberals of old recognize the problem and abandoned the resurrection through various means. People today apparently do not have the sense to see the contradiction.

There is nothing inherent in science for Bible believers to be afraid of. But those with the bully pulpit were allowed to speak unaddressed, for the most part. As a result, faith no longer rules exegesis; naturalism does.

The Christian faith is not more compelling from an old earth creation viewpoint (in its many incarnations). To borrow from our Savior himself, “If they won’t believe Moses and the prophets, they won’t believe even if one rose form the dead” (Luke 16:31).

People are fond of saying, “Well the Bible doesn’t address scientific issues.” Well, quite frankly, that seems like a silly thing to say. The Bible clearly addresses these issues.

Now, it is true that the Bible is not a scientific textbook. But the next time someone brings that up, ask them for the name of someone, anyone, who believes that the Bible is a scientific textbook. I imagine they won’t be able to come up with one name.

Then ask them why they object to something that no one believes anyway.

Of course the Bible is not a scientific textbook. But where it addresses issues of science, it is accurate.

And while I am here, appealing to genre issues in Genesis 1-3 is inadequate. There is nothing in the text of Genesis 1-3 that would lead one to believe it is any genre other than historical narrative. It is just like the rest of Genesis. So let’s treat it that way.

Simply put, Christianity gains absolutely nothing from abandoning young earth creationism. \

However, they lose the very foundation of the Christian faith—a Creator God to whom we must answer, sin that corrupted the world and brought death, marriage and family, the unity of the human race under the first Adam and second Adam, the reason for the brokenness in the world around us, and the atonement itself just to name a few.

If we don’t trust God to tell us the beginning of the story, then why would we trust him to tell us the end of the story.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Maxwell on Experts

“If a person will spend one hour a day on the same subject for five years, that person will be an expert on that subject” (from Motivational speaker Earl Nightingale).

“Expert” may be an overstatement, but how would I know. I haven’t spent five years doing this.

But I am reminded of another quote:

Never overestimate what you can do in one year, and never underestimate what you can do in five years.

Or to quote myself:

You will never get anything done if you don’t do something.

By the way, Maxwell has a plan for this at the link. Just plug your own topic into it. It might work.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

On the Public Reading of Scripture

Public reading of Scripture is an important part of worship.

But what about when it isn’t reading?

Today, I watched the beginning of a sermon online where a pastor spent time quoting a lengthy passage of Scripture, complete with excellent timing, voice inflection, and phrasing.

It was impressive.

But what of authority? He was clearly quoting it, almost as if it were his words. In fact, his voice inflection was such that, at times, it did sound exactly like his words.

What’s the problem? I confess that I am not entirely sure.

But it just seemed to me as if some of the authority was lost because it appeared more like this man’s words than it did God’s words. It wasn’t because of his voice, but because of his memory.

It was just a bit unsettling to me, a bit weird, like something was lost and something else was being substituted.

Am I offbase? Perhaps.

Feel free to tell me if I am (though some need no invitation at all).

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Study in Contrasts

Note: The original article has been edited for clarification for the reader to avoid misunderstanding of the point at hand. No substantive changes have been made to the article.

Much has been made, particularly among fundamentalists both “young” and “old,” about how we speak of our predecessors. Now, I write as a fundamentalist, but not one of those kind of fundamentalists.

And I write primarily to fundamentalists.

It is suggested by a few that we should not speak ill of the previous generation of fundamentalists because they were good men who did good things for the sake of the gospel. Sure they had their flaws we might admit, but let us not speak of them, and certainly not publicly.

Yet it seems this same group of people have no hesitations when it comes to speaking ill of other men of past generations. They will loudly condemn men like Billy Graham, and refuse to let anyone speak well of them. They will insist that any mention of John Piper or John MacArthur contain condemnations of their various flaws.

Here’s the contrast: The men on “our side” we must say nothing bad about; the men on “the other side” we must say nothing good about.

Now, let's be clear. This is not a widespread problem and I in no way intend to make any broad-brushed characterizations. In fact, it is a fairly narrow problem and decreasing to be sure, particularly as the truth about people on both sides of the issue becomes more public. But is a problem that needs to be considered because it is a problem. And it was demonstrated in a public forum in a way that made evident the severe problem in thinking that brought this about.

In recent months, one man was taken to task publicly because he dared to quote an old-time fundamentalist, and dared to say some things that were considered unflattering about other men from previous generations who were recognized as leaders in fundamentalism.

What is interesting is that almost no one stepped up to say that these “unflattering things” were untrue. The quote itself or the other charges made were not questioned for their accuracy. No one even said it was the passion of youth or an anomaly.

It was merely said that such criticisms should not be made.

But some of the loudest mouths about this have no problem saying all manner of things against other people, many of which are demonstrably untrue.

The problem seems that some people are more loyal to a movement than they are to Scripture and truth. 
Robert P. Lightner, in Neoevangelicalism Today, has a good reminder:
“Fundamentalism is basically a theological and doctrinal position, but since its beginning it has inherited groups [I would add individuals] who claim shelter in the name but have done the cause serious harm. … The honest fundamentalist will humbly admit that the message and witness of fundamentalism has had its black strands. He will use the failures of the past to guide him to success in the future” (p. 157).
Here’s the bottom line for me: Let’s stop with the foolishness. To say that someone wasn’t perfect is not the same as saying that they are useless or beyond our respect. To point out that certain fundamentalists were rather intemperate in their speech, lacked self-control both in in speech and action, is not wrong. It is in fact true.

Fundamentalists, both young and old, can be quite intemperate. But they are not alone. One need only to read Carnell, Henry, Fosdick, or others to see that intemperance spans the spectrum.

We have truly reached a bad spot when telling the truth about certain people has become taboo. In a movement committed to the truth and to confrontation of error, fundamentalists should not object to it, even when it strikes close to home.

3/01/2010 – See Comment #11 for a clarification concerning this post. It is added as a comment so as not to clutter up the point of the article itself.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

FYI – Malachi’s Message

In a previous post, I began a discussion of the book of Malachi, the last book of the OT. I pointed out that there are six messages, each taking the form of a charge by God against the covenant community of Israel, a question by the people revealing disbelief and arrogance, and an answer by God showing the truth of his charge.

These messages call Israel to repentance.

In this post, I want to summarize the six messages of the book of Malachi, focusing on God himself—his character, his work, and his expectations.

A God of Love and Hate (1:1-5): God is at work for those whom he loves so that his glory might be seen in the nations.

A God of Acceptable Worship (1:6-2:9): Spiritual leaders must lead God’s people to acceptable worship.

A God of Covenant Marriage (2:10-16): God’s people must take their marriage promises seriously because God does.

A God of Purifying Judgment (2:17-3:5): People may think they are getting away with their lifestyle but a judgment day is coming so you better watch out.

A God of Unchanging Faithfulness (3:6-12):  God never changes; we need to.

A God of Eternal Profit (3:13-4:6): God will bring victory and make obedience worthwhile.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Jenkins on Tebow

This, by a pro-choice female columnist, is worth reading.

Tebow's 30-second ad hasn't even run yet, but it already has provoked "The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us" to reveal something important about themselves: They aren't actually "pro-choice" so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.

Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn't be allowed to. Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikini selling beer is the right one. I would like to meet the genius at NOW who made that decision. On second thought, no, I wouldn't.

(Bolding mine.)

Old Liberalism and Modern Theology

In recent reading on the old theological liberalism, I am reminded about how much not much has changed. What so many today are “recovering” is simply old theological liberalism with a new hairdo. (Just look at the leaders of this group for evidence.)

It doesn’t look any better in books with fancy covers and cool page layouts than it did a century ago. It doesn’t sound better coming from a guy with a weird ’do sporting a trendy set of specs.

It’s the same old elevation of man and devaluation of revelation. It’s the exaltation of experience over revelation. It’s foolishness masquerading as epistemological humility. It’s unbelief parading about as relevance.

It’s Schleiermacher with a sound system. It’s Bushnell with blog. It’s Fosdick with Facebook.

And it provides no more hope today than it did then.

Only if the Bible contains objective, propositional truth can there be hope in this fallen broken world.

Reading this liberalism reminds me that there are some things that we just do not need to know. It just doesn’t help.

Yet there is some profit in knowing it. It reminds us that there are not really any new battles—nothing new under the sun.

So we should know some of the history of theological liberalism. It will help us to see the new liberalism is answered the same way the old liberalism was—by faithful exposition of the Scriptures as revelation.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Thought but Always Wondered

Have you ever thought something but always wondered what the real truth was?

I did.

About football. People say that football (American) is a game of action. So how much action is there? I have always suspected that there is not much.

Kevin DeYoung has the evidence that confirmed it for me.

Football is a game with very little action. Eleven minutes over the course of three and one-half hours. That’s right … and that’s worse than TV. For a half-hour of TV, you at least get 22 minutes of action (pathetic and contrived as it may be). For three and a half hours of football, you get 11 minutes.

The other three hours and twenty-one minutes are filled with inanities of commentators and replays of what just happened and endless commercials.

Compare that to soccer (the world’s football).

Almost invariably, soccer is mocked by people for being slow and uninteresting. It’s always Americans who do this. It’s usually the same Americans who spend three and half hours lounging on the lazy boy for eleven minutes of action.

In soccer, in 90 minutes of play, you get … wait for it … 90 minutes of play. And if, for some reason, actual play stops do to injury (or playacting) they add it on to the game. So a 90 minute game might last for 94 minutes or 96 minutes of actual time with a short halftime that won’t involve old men acting like idiots in some frat house with each other.

In football, a guy runs twenty yards and comes out for a breather because the dead time in between plays isn't enough. In soccer a guy runs sixty yards and then does it again. 

In terms of skill, football just can’t compare with soccer. 

In terms of excitement, football just can’t compare with soccer.

It terms of action, football just can’t compare with soccer.

So watch a soccer game. You will get more action, and and extra hour and a half in your day to do something else profitable.