Archive for January, 2010

The landing

This is a pretty amazing computer simulation of US Airways Flight 1549 piloted by Captain C. B. Sullenberger a little over a year ago (Jan. 15, 2009) — from take off till the plane lands in the Hudson River. Make sure you watch it in full screen mode.


[HT: Toby Comeaux]

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Today is Anton Chekov’s birthday and I cannot let this day go by without remembering one of the greatest missions “Improv Everywhere” has ever carried out.

IE got Chekov (see the pic to the left) into the Barnes & Noble store on Union Square in New York City, advertising it as an opportunity to “meet the writer.” After Mr. Chekov’s talk and reading, they set up a table in Union Square so that he could sign copies of his play “The Cherry Orchard.”

Everyone was thrilled to meet the great playwright and get an autographed copy of one of his works.

There was only one problem.

Anton Chekov died in 1904 — as the first line on the back of the copies of the play they were selling states.

It was a great stunt. Go here and read about it, then look at the video.


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Dat’s a big phone

Are you sure you want one of these?

Why? Steve just left his iPhone in the “get bigger machine” — idon’t get it.

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Dr. Robert Rayburn (pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, Washington) has sent a “supplemental brief” to the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission regarding the case of Dr. Peter Leithart and Pacific Northwest Presbytery (Judicial Case 2009-6). It states eloquently the problem with the PCA’s theological and biblical reasoning and explains the inability to comprehend the point(s) being made by those of us who have been labeled “Federal Vision” advocates.

What Dr. Rayburn points out are the same problems some of us have been seeking to call attention to over the past few years. It’s encouraging to see that he and others also recognize the dangerous nature of the PCA’s theological position (and, of course, what is true of the PCA is also true of every denomination that has agreed with them in this discussion). Read this brief, it’s well worth the time.

SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEF [to the Standing Judicial Commission]
Judicial Case 2009-6
Pacific Northwest Presbytery
[Presbyterian Church in America]
Robert S. Rayburn

Presbytery has received the Proposed Decision of the SJC Panel in Case 2009-6 and respectfully offers this supplemental brief in protest of the decision and its reasoning. To be frank the respondent offers this brief with no expectation of it being read with sympathy. At no point in this process has there been any indication of an intention to give Dr. Leithart or the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest a sympathetic evaluation, to examine his statements in context, or really to enter into the exploration of the issues raised in this discussion. Nor has there been any acknowledgement that Scripture provides us with data for which the Standards provide us no specific explanations and that is it chiefly this material that comes to the fore in Dr. Leithart’s explorations. I regret to say this brief is offered more as an effort to satisfy the demands of conscience than in any expectation of provoking serious reflection upon the part of the SJC. To that end I protest the decision of the panel and plead with the entire SJC to think again on the following grounds.

The Make-up of the Panel

When the case was first assigned to a panel, Presbytery noted that one of its members had been part of a panel that had heard a case involving similar issues in the Siouxlands Presbytery. Presbytery inquired of the Stated Clerk and the SJC Chairman whether the rules by which panels were appointed had been observed in our case (RAO 17-3) as it seemed doubtful to us that between the spring and the middle of the summer all other members of the SJC would have been selected to serve on panels and the names in the pool been completely turned over (17-3c). The new chairman appointed a different panel, suggesting to us that the roster of the original panel had, in fact, been rigged. But Presbytery now learns that RE Sam Duncan, who authored the panel’s opinion in the present case, was not only a member of the Siouxlands panel, but its chairman. We are trying very hard to believe that this was not an intentional violation of the rules with a view to ensuring that the panel’s judgment would be what it has proved to be. Surely in highly politicized cases such as these, great care should be taken to ensure that the SJC’s conduct of its affairs be above reproach. Has it been? One remembers Herman Bavinck’s melancholy observation – the observation of a politician and a churchman – that while politics are often seamy, church politics are always so.

The Impression of a Prevailing Bias

I simply note the fact that in the panel’s reasoning (C iv) not only is Dr. Leithart cited as writing “The baptized are implanted into Christ’s body, and in Him share in all that he has to give,” but emphasis is added to the last six words. The panel knows very well – it is in the record of the case and was further brought to the panel’s attention during the discussion – that Dr. Leithart retracted that statement as overreaching and unhelpful. To have it used against him in the panel’s report is unconscionable and heightens the overall impression that no effort was made really to extend to Dr. Leithart the courtesy of dealing fairly with his words.

Or, take another illustration. Dr. Leithart’s statement, cited under C vi, that “justification and definitive sanctification are not merely simultaneous…” becomes in the panel’s evaluation a failure to distinguish between justification and sanctification, as if Dr. Leithart were speaking of sanctification in the customary sense of its definition in the Confession and Catechisms. Everyone knows that the distinction between definitive sanctification, a theologoumenon now widely embraced in our circles, and sanctification as a life-process of renovation in righteousness does not appear in the Standards and that definitive sanctification is a dimension of the biblical doctrine that is not clearly represented in their definitions. This failure to extend to a brother the ordinary courtesy of faithfully representing what he actually writes seriously undermines the credit of the panel’s report.

Or, once more, take the statement in the panel’s reasoning that “The Standards teach that faith is the proper response to the Gospel – not to baptism.” [C v] Not only is it an egregious misrepresentation to suggest that Dr. Leithart does not think that faith is the proper response to the Gospel, it is passing strange that a Reformed Christian would not think that faith is the proper response to one’s baptism. Am I not to believe that by baptism I have been enrolled in the church of God? Am I not to believe that being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit I have a calling to fulfill? Am I not to believe that great and precious promises have been sealed to me in the sacrament and that is my privilege to base my life and hope upon them? Paul certainly seems to feel that faith is the proper response to one’s baptism (e.g. Romans 6:3-4). This kind of argument by false disjunction betrays a spirit and it is not a spirit we should commend. (more…)

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Happy birthday, Stonewall

“I hope to have the privilege of joining in prayer for peace at the time you name, and hope that all our Christian people will; but peace should not be the chief object of prayer in our country. It should aim more specially at imploring God’s forgiveness of our sins, and praying that He will make our people a holy people. If we are but His, all things shall work together for the good of our country, and no good thing will He withhold from it.”

Thomas J. Jackson, in a letter to his wife, 1862

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Happy birthday, general

“The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.”

— R. E. Lee, in a letter to a friend, 1870

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William Lind has gotten all giddy over Pope Benedict’s invitation, issued last October 20th to the Anglican church, to “come home to Rome” (in the latest edition of The American Conservative). Lind says, “[The Pope] invited [Anglicans] to move in—individuals, parishes, whole dioceses—while retaining their Anglican identity. They could keep their Book of Common Prayer, their liturgies, their priests—even married ones.”

Right . . . with one small proviso, “The Apostolic Constitution stipulates that Anglicans would have to accept ‘The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church as the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the ordinariate.’” Ok, so that means that you can remain Anglican except you now have to believe in papal infallibility, transubstantiation, the doctrines of Mary’s immaculate conception, assumption, and perpetual virginity, praying to departed saints, etc., etc. — in other words, you are free to be Anglican so long as you give up the primary historic distinctives that have been at issue since the Reformation (and before). If you reject what Anglicans have always believed contrary to Rome, you can still be one. Got it?

Oh, and the Pope also reminded Anglican ministers that the Roman Church does not recognize the validity of Anglican Holy Orders. So, though this agreement will allow married Anglican clergy to come into the Roman Church, if they want to continue to minister to their congregations, they will have to be ordained again by the Roman Church after their “conversion” in order to do that. And in addition, they cannot be ordained as bishops.

Well, as Uncle Boudreaux says, “Dat’s a fine kettle of catfish.” When it’s all said and done, the Pope’s invitation amounts to nothing more than another call to become a member of the Roman Church. Nothing new here. There is no mention of a willingness to study the differences that have historically existed between the two communions. No willingness to submit the peculiar views of Rome to a fresh scriptural examination. No acknowledgment that Rome could possibly be “wrong” (shudder) in some of its dogma. Nothing that would open Rome up to any “reformation” at all. At bottom it’s merely an invitation to become a Romanist while pretending in your head (if you’re capable of that sort of trick) that you’re still an Anglican.

This is what Church unity looks like from the perspective of the Vatican. Church unity is easy, just become one of us! If the Baptists did this, it would be received with outrage and an uncontrollable case of the giggles. But Rome does it with a straight face and expects all the rest of us to take it seriously. And then, if we don’t, we’re portrayed as intractable, unyielding, and stubborn. Pretty neat trick, that.

The only appropriate response to the Pope’s “Apostolic Constitution” of last October (after making sure it is not a joke) is, “Please. Repent of your divisive sectarianism and come back to the Catholic Church. Really. You’ll be welcome — oh, and we promise not to make fun of your funny hat.”

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Below is a clip of a small group of pagan peoples who call themselves the “Earth First!” tribe. This tribe has been around a little over a quarter of a century. They worship trees and nature in general and have an especial reverence for “old growth” trees that have been lost through storms or cut down to supply shelters and valuable articles which increase the comfort and joy of the rest of the human race. It has been interesting to watch their patterns of behavior over the years. They weep over the loss of a tree, but, strange to say, seem to be utterly insensitive to the well-being of fellow human beings. They have become increasingly distraught over the fact that the rest of us by and large, ignore them and continue to enjoy the things we can build from their gods. It is a very strange psychosis, but let’s not judge. Regardless of how one may feel about this interesting group of Americans who pretend to be aborigines, it is good for us to know that this tribe exists and to be aware of their insanity. And let us pray that it be temporary.

Here is a video will assist in raising your sensitivities. Indeed, after watching the anguish of these primitive peoples, I determined to build a big bonfire in their honor, roast a few fowl*, and eat them on my wooden table while sitting on my wooden chair — handcrafted from old growth oak — just to let them know that I’ve heard their wailing . . . and am now more thankful than ever that I own an ax as well as a saw.


*I had originally written “foul” — I guess as an unconscious reference to how this makes me feel.

[HT: John Stoos]

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Bret Hume is getting hashed and dashed for giving Tiger Woods the best (public) advice Tiger’s ever heard: “Quit being a Buddhist, become and Christian, be cleansed of your sins, and get a new start.” Horridly judgmental, right? Well, that’s how the professors of “tolerance” have taken it, anyway.

Leave it to Ann Coulter (again) to set everyone straight.

After pointing out how “easy” Christianity is (all that is required is believing on Jesus who died and rose again) she points out how “hard” Christianity is:

Christianity is also the hardest religion in the world because, if you believe Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead, you have no choice but to give your life entirely over to Him. No more sexual promiscuity, no lying, no cheating, no stealing, no killing inconvenient old people or unborn babies — no doing what all the other kids do.

And no more caring what the world thinks of you — because, as Jesus warned in a prophecy constantly fulfilled by liberals: The world will hate you.

With Christianity, your sins are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean and your eternal life is guaranteed through nothing you did yourself, even though you don’t deserve it. It’s the best deal in the universe.

There you go, Tiger. From the mouth of two witnesses.

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The Pastors Conference was outstanding. And now you can hear it too. And you have lots of choices:

You can download the talks if you go here.

You can order a set of CDs or an MP3 CD with all the talks here.

This was a really fine conference, so order or download the messages, I think you’ll enjoy them.

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Harold Camping has done it again. And this time, he says, you’d better believe it. The rapture is coming and Harold knows when. And he’s telling. According to his most recent (and far more accurate) calculations, the rapture is going to happen on May 21, 2011.

That’s right. A little over a year and five months from rat now! And Harold ain’t kiddin. He feels sorry for you if you don’t believe him. Never mind that he was wrong over 15 years ago when he told his followers to gather outside and wait for Jesus. That was a mistake, a minor miscalculation. But this time? This time, he’s right. And he’s certain he’s right. Here’s how he did it:

He noticed that particular numbers appeared in the Bible at the same time particular themes are discussed.

The number 5, . . . equals “atonement.” Ten is “completeness.” Seventeen means “heaven.” . . .

“Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D. Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that’s 1,978 years.”

[He] then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days – the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year.

Next, [he] noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500.

[He] realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500.

Or put into words: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared.

“Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story. It’s the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you’re completely saved.

“I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that,”

yeah, me too.

ok. well, here’s my deal for all of Harold’s followers. If you believe Harold, I think you should give all your possessions away by sundown May 20, 2011. Think of it as a sign of your confidence in his genius and spiritual insight. No fair selling anything . . . I said give it away (you can’t take it with you anyway, right?). I volunteer to be a clearing house for your homes and property. Just send me the titles and deeds (with the necessary legal work showing that everything is in my name). And I promise that I’ll distribute your property to those whom I determine can make best use of it in your absence. [And remember, if you do it by December 31 of this year, you can take it off your very last tax return! That’d be cool, wouldn’t it? Yes it would!]

And if Jesus doesn’t come, well, . . . that’s a tough break — but maybe I can persuade everyone to give you an opportunity to buy your stuff back. Otherwise, I’m sure Harold has a plan. Just trust him, he’ll figure out something. Maybe you can stay at his house.

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