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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

I didn’t know that seminaries that hold to the Westminster Confession and the Three Forms of Unity tolerated professors who engage in slander. Did you?

Well, live and learn as they say.

Seems like he’d have better things to do though.

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It’s amazing how free some people are to pass along false charges. I was just sent a link to this page which is supposed to tell us about Reformed denominations. It’s supposed to be a “primer” so what’s the harm, right?

But as we go down the page, we find this statement next to the CREC entry: “Composed of Presbyterian, and Reformed Baptist churches, but more congregational in church order. They allow believers and infant baptism and communion, depending on what the local church says, Many advocates of the Federal Vision heresy,which denies justification by faith alone, have come here (e.g. Steve Wilkins), but thankfully there are also members who do not follow this movement (e.g., RC Sproul, Jr).”

(the red ink is the author’s, not mine — and so is the mysterious comma after “the local church says”).

Aside from the unsubstantiated charge of “heresy” there’s the statement identifying the “Federal Vision” with a position that “denies justification by faith alone.” This in spite of the fact that everyone I know who would be identified as a “Federal Visionist” affirms “justification by faith alone.” Speaking for AAPC, here’s point #1 of the statement we adopted in 2006 in an attempt to put some slanders to rest:

1. We affirm that justification is received by faith alone and is not grounded in any sense upon man’s works.

We further affirm the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner. We have never viewed human works as the ground (either partial or total) of justification before God. We have never taken any exception to the statement of this truth found in the Westminster Confession of Faith and catechisms. We unanimously adopted our summary statement on “Covenant, Baptism, and Salvation” which included this affirmation in the first point:

“Salvation is by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and not of works. It is founded upon the obedience, death, and resurrection of the faithful Second Adam, Jesus Christ. Justification is an act of God’s free grace wherein sinners are accepted as righteous in God’s sight by virtue of the righteousness of Christ imputed to them and received by faith alone (WSC Q. 33). This justifying faith is always accompanied by all other saving graces and virtues (WCF 11.2). Justifying faith, therefore, is never vain but one that works by love (Gal. 5:6).”

This is the position we have always held, never denied, and, God willing, a position from which we will never depart.

is this really unclear? Or do we have another case of a Christian who has no regard for truth while he supposedly defends the truth (and, yes, in case you’re wondering, I tried to deal with this privately, but the email address provided by the author [like his moral compass] was not in working order).

Having now seen all the denunciations, refutations, accusations, and rebukitations from individuals and respected denominations against the “Federal Vision” I am forced to conclude that what has now come to be identified as the “Federal Vision” is not a position I hold or have ever held — and I happily join with the PCA, OPC, RPCNA, RCUS, RPCUS, UCRC, ARP, GMAC, AARP, UAR, RCA, ESPN, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, NPR, UAW, and Wikipedia, in denouncing this position and whoever in the world might possibly hold it (though I have no idea who they might be). I say with a clear and, please note, courageous voice, “If you’re out there, you are walking around under my official CENSURE!” And I hope you feel guilty and repent!

(And don’t look at me like that, you know who you are)

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Did you ever hear this about Andy Warhol?

“Though he was surrounded by hard-partying rock stars and artists, he lived with his mother, and he went to a Catholic church almost every Sunday. His friends said that he never took drugs and only drank occasionally.”
interesting.

(I love The Writers Almanac)

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Braves win

I grew up during a time when major league baseball was played completely in the North. The closest team (and the only one I could listen to on a semi-regular basis) was the St. Louis Cardinals (with announcer Harry Carey). I listened over KMOX and grew to love Harry and his wheezy play-by-play. But the Cardinals were not my team. My team was the Milwaukee Braves. Why? I never got to see them on TV. I never got to listen to their games (until they came to St. Louis to play). But they were my team because I lived in Mobile, Alabama, and that was the home of Hank Aaron, Tommy Aaron, and Frank Bolling (all Mobilians) and for that reason (and their incredibly beautiful uniforms), the Braves were my team.

In 1965, my team miraculously moved to Atlanta, Georgia. I couldn’t believe it. Not only a real major league team was playing in the South, but MY TEAM was playing in the South! Dad took me over to see a game in the first season and it was unbelievable (I have a copy of the 8mm film of our visit to Fulton County Stadium and still get the chills when I watch it).

Now, with the Braves in Atlanta, I got to listen to MY TEAM every night. Glorious. And, of course, we had the greatest announcers ever. I loved Milo Hamilton but when Milo left, my favorite announcer of all time became the Braves’ announcer, Skip Carey (Harry’s son). Skip was incredible. A truly great announcer and hilariously funny (which was very important during the late 60s and 70s when the Braves were so terrible — Skip’s quips were about the only reason to listen, since we usually lost). But Skip always kept us hopeful and entertained.

Then finally, after one of their worst seasons ever (1990), the Braves began an incredible run. They won the divisional title for 14 straight years and Skip Carey was in top form and Braves’ fans enjoyed every minute of it. Perhaps no game exemplified these years more than the 7th game of the 1992 divisional playoff series against Pittsburgh.

The Braves were behind 2-0 to the Pirates in the bottom of the 9th. The Pirates brought in their closer Doug Drabek. Drabek gave up a double (to Terry Pendleton), then second baseman, Jose Lind, made an error allowing David Justice to reach. Then Sid Bream walked. Drabek was replaced by the other Pirate ace, Stan Belinda. Belinda gave up a sac fly (to make the score 2-1). There were 2 outs and men on 2nd and 3rd (Bream at second Justice on 3rd) when Francisco Cabrera (the Braves’ 3rd string catcher/utility man came up).

Every Braves’ fan can tell you what happened next. It was unforgetable. Listen to “the call” made by Skip Carey. Listen to it and tell me if it’s not one of the greatest calls ever made. Most of us never heard it live . . . we were screaming and going nuts over what we were watching on the TV screen as Sid Bream (one of the slowest players in baseball) came huffing and puffing around third with the throw from Barry Bonds coming in. It was an incredible moment and probably the happiest of my “baseball fan life.”

Now, what brought all this on???

This morning I heard the news that Skip Carey died in his sleep yesterday afternoon in his home in Atlanta. I never got to meet him but still, he was one of my ole friends and I’m going to miss him.

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Apple blues

ok so my new iMac died last Friday. Called AppleCare. “No problem” (say they) “just go to an AppleStore and they’ll take care of you!”

 Uh, says I, the closest AppleStore is a 4.5 hour drive from here.

“No problem! We’ll just get you an on site repairman.”

Great, says I, “since I paid for a special APPLECARE plan that’s what I need.”

“Gotcha,” says they. “Hold one moment.”

 ok, says I.

(after a fairly long “moment”)

“uh, sir?”

yes?

“We going to have to ship the parts to an authorized repairman. They should arrive next Tuesday and the repairman will call then and set up an appointment.”

 “Next Tuesday? I’m in the middle of working on my sermon and I really need help a lot quicker than that.”

“we understand,” says they, “but this is all we can do.”

 ok, says I.

 This past Tuesday:

AppleCare repairman calls “Sir?”

yes?

“We have the parts for your computer but we can’t come today — full load of repairs already — but maybe we can come tomorrow.”

 MAYBE TOMORROW??? says I

“Yep, MAYBE tomorrow. Sorry sir but that’s the best we can do.”

ok, says I.

Wednesday:

10:00 a.m. repairman calls, he’s on his way.

10:30 a.m. repairman enters church office. huzzah.

10:35 a.m. repairman says he’s only done one of these iMac computers before and they are horribly designed.

Huh? says I.

“Terrible design. It’s like these guys think that you’re never going to have to repair them!” says the “authorized” APPLE repairman.

10:40 a.m. Authorized repairman opens a box with a power cord FOR A MACBOOK, not an iMac. “Uh-oh,” says he.

“What do you mean, ‘uh-oh’?” says I

“Well, this is not encouraging. Wrong cord, probably wrong parts.” says the authorized repairman. “I need to give APPLE a call.”

Sure enough. Wrong parts. Plus, what is even more exciting, we have a repairman that has no idea what he’s doing.

 Authorized repairman leaves with profuse apologies.

Saga continues. I call APPLE back and speak with a “products specialist.”

“You’d probably be better off just taking it to one of our APPLE stores,” says the PS.

“That’s not as easy as it sounds,” says I.

“oh, you’re not very close to a store are you?”

“nope.”

“well, maybe you can take it to Shreveport.”

“look, I can’t take the time to take it to Shreveport. What if you pay for it to be shipped there?”

“No can do. If you had a MACBOOK, we could do it but we don’t ship desktops.”

“really?” says I.

“yep,” says the APPLE PS, “you’re not by any chance going over to Shreveport any time soon?”

“nope.”

“I could call them and tell them you’re coming,” says my helpful APPLE PS guy.

“Listen,” says I, “I got your computer. It ain’t working and I need it to work. It should have been fixed today but y’all sent the wrong parts and a repairman that couldn’t distinguish this computer from a top hat. I got the special AppleCare protection plan in order to avoid all this sort of stuff. SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE. . . . . . Please.”

Now APPLE says they’re going to send a new computer to me, seeing as I’ve been “put out” but first I have to wait for an email containing the return labels and a release form.

Email? says I, ok.

Wait.

 6:30 p.m. still no email from APPLE.

How long before a dead APPLE computer starts to smell bad? Should I refrigerate or what?

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Left behindists beware

Our newest Athanasius Press offering just walked through the doors: Duane Garner’s Why the End is Not Near: A Refutation of End-Times Hysteria. It’s the second of our “Answers in an hour” series and it’s really, really good.
This follows Mark Horne’s fine Why Baptize Babies? in the same series. Check em out at the Athanasius Press website.

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Oh yeah? so?

The paper this morning gave us the latest news regarding the “fattest” states in the union and I’m proud to say that Louisiana is number 4! My home state of Alabama is #2 and the state where most of my children were born was #1 (say hey Mississippi!). I confess, I couldn’t be prouder. All you wimpy Yankee states ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
Randy Booth and I were talking this past weekend and decided that our new motto should be “Eat what you want and die like a man!”

I love it.

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Tired of me

Am I the only one who thinks Duane has been just a tad SLACK about posting on this blog????

I don’t think so.

Solution: email and harrass.

begin.

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In honor of Ascension Sunday, Dr. Martin comments:

“My Lord Jesus Christ is Lord over death, Satan, sin, righteousness, body, life, foes and friends. What shall I fear? For while my enemies stand before my very door and plan to slay me, my faith reasons thus: Christ is ascended into heaven and become Lord over all creatures, hence my enemies, too, must be subject to him and thus it is not in their power to do me harm. I challenge them to raise a finger against me or to injure a hair of my head against the will of my Lord Jesus Christ. When faith grasps and stands upon this article, it stands firm and waxes bold and defiant, so as even to say: If my Lord so wills that they, mine enemies, slay me, blessed am I; I gladly depart. Thus you will see that he is ascended into heaven, not to remain in indifference, but to exercise dominion; and all for our good, to afford us comfort and joy.”

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Just heard about a proposed decision on a recent case in the PCA that had been appealed to the Standing Judicial Commission. There are a number of interesting points in the proposed decision of the majority but look at this one:

The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America is of course subject to and subordinate to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We need to be able to affirm that the use of words in our Standards is faithful to Scriptural intent and meaning. However, we cannot now argue that because the Constitution uses a word in a single way, the church must restrict its formal use of that word to the manner in which it is used in the Constitution. To do so would be to subject the Scriptures to our Standards, and effectively sever the tie that allows for our historic understanding of semper reformata. [emphasis mine]

Now a little context. The issue before the SJC panel was whether a church had violated the Westminster Standards and the PCA Book of Church Order by calling a woman who had been hired to work on the church staff, a “minister” (specifically the “minister of church life”). She was not ordained though she does have a degree from a seminary. Some members of this church’s presbytery objected to this claiming that our standards only used the word “minister” to refer to an ordained, male-only position. In their defense, the church responded that even though that is how the standards use the word, in the Bible, the term has a much broader meaning. AND, since our standards are subject to the Bible, calling a woman a “minister” is not something that should bring them under any discipline, as it is perfectly biblical though not in accord with the stipulated definition of the term as it is used in the confessional standards.

In the part of the decision cited, the SJC panel agreed with this reasoning, stating as you saw, “we cannot now argue that because the Constitution uses a word in a single way, the church must restrict its formal use of that word to the manner in which it is used in the Constitution. To do so would be to subject the Scriptures to our Standards, and effectively sever the tie that allows for our historic understanding of semper reformata.” To which I respond first with a hearty “wow” and second with a question: Does this mean that the PCA is now ready to admit the same in regard to the terms “election,” “elect,” “regeneration,” “union with Christ” and “church”? Or is it only the term “minister” which can be understood in a broader way than the Confession defines it?

And further, if this preliminary judgment is adopted by the full SJC, does that mean that the PCA is now ready to allow this kind of “confusion” and “lack of clarity” not to mention the potential such a decision has for opening the door to another “departure from the Reformed Faith which-strikes-at-the-vitals-of-religion”? Will they allow this revolutionary judgment to stand? A judgment which, as even the panel itself admits, protects “our historic understanding of semper reformanda“?

And, one more question: the panel states that “we cannot now argue that because the Constitution uses a word in a single way, the church must restrict its formal use of that word to the manner in which it is used in the Constitution.” So what has happened to bring about the prohibition of this argument now?

I don’t know . . . . all this sounds mighty fishy if you ask me.

[thanks to the Bayly brothers and John Allen Bankson for the heads-up]

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Quick Book Reviews

Here are my brief takes on some interesting novels I’ve read recently:

The Dogs of Babel, by Carolyn Parkhurst – A linguisist’s wife dies unexpectedly amid curious circumstances and the only one to see her on the last day of her life was the family dog. So the linguist does what any of us would do in the same situation—he devotes himself to teaching the dog to talk in order to uncover the mystery surrounding his wife’s death. As over-the-top and contrived as this story could have been, Parkhurst actually weaves a compelling tale that tugs at the heart of any dog lover and depicts the love of a man for a woman that far surpasses all her faults (which are many). In flashbacks you get to know the wife, and find her more and more unloveable the more you get to know her, and yet in the present her husband is pursuing the impossible in order to understand her death. You find that she is indeed lovely because she is loved and the extent to which he demonstrates his love for her, even after her death, while bordering on insanity, is a sad/sweet story of self-giving, sacrificial love.

On a related, but completely irrelevant note, my dog can say “I love you” (actually it’s more like “Arrr Ruh Roo”, but we know what he means.)

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell – A story spanning several centuries, beginning in the late 1700’s and stretching into a far distant post-apocalyptic future, Cloud Atlas contains a series of accounts of different, seemingly unconnected people set together in a quasi-chiastic fashion. Each story stops right in the middle at a pivotal climactic point, only to be picked up and concluded at the end of the book, with each conclusion appearing in reverse order. Like a set of Russian nesting dolls, each story fits inside the others until the connections between the lives of the individuals begin to come clearer and the book concludes right back where it started in the 18th century. Mitchell is full of imagination and creativity. There is a good deal of fun to be had in pulling apart the mystery of the connections between the various lives, but the pay-off at the end of the work is not so hot. It’s kind of a disappointment actually. Still, it’s worth reading just because of the innovative way he tells the story.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, Max Brooks – Set in the near future, World War Z is a collection of survivor’s accounts of a recent global outbreak of a virus that has turned a substantial portion of the population into zombies. Brooks writes as a journalist who is traveling the world, gathering an oral history of the rise and fall of the zombie hordes. What Brooks is in fact providing is a commentary on the way that different world cultures tend to deal with their problems, and the failures and successes of each worldview. Like most stories set in the future, it is all a commentary on the present (understanding the undead-walking-the-earth simply as a metaphor, of course).

The Road, Cormac McCarthy – The author of No Country for Old Men tells the tale of a father and his young son struggling to survive in the decade after an undefined global catastrophe. There’s no vegetation left, no animal life, only humans fighting to make the best of what remains of the burned-out husk of civilization. This is probably the most terrifying book I’ve read in a while. There’s a sense of dread hanging over it all. Some of the scenes are the stuff of nightmares. With every page turn, you just know something awful is about to happen any moment, and yet (without giving anything away) there is redemption and hope and resurrection on the other side of the grave. This is one of those that you can’t say too much about without giving it away, so I’ll stop, but I’d say if you have a strong constitution for such things, I would highly recommend it to you.

A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole – This is one of those that I’ve started on and put down a number of times, and finally forced myself to plough through it to the end. And it was worth the work. The story centers around a slothful, directionless, glutton of a man named Ignatius Reilly who lives with his mother in 1950’s New Orleans. As he flits from one sure-to-fail pursuit to another, blaming everyone and everything but himself for his failures, surviving off of other people’s patience and embarrassment, he works himself into such a state of self-deception and hopelessness that he puts himself into a position far beyond any forseeable redemption. It appears that Reilly learns nothing from his misadventures, but the reader should. I intend to direct my own son to read this when he’s 16 or 17 if for nothing else than to give him an example of what kind of man he is not to be.

So what have you read lately?

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After the Children of Israel had been freed from bondage in Egypt they were commanded to take the land of Canaan as their reward and inheritance, but they quailed in fear. So God determined for the next forty years they would wander in the wilderness and that everyone of age, save Joshua and Caleb would die and would not enter the promised land.

Something that has struck me when considering the number of people that died over that forty years in the wilderness, how that concentration of death must have impacted these people. If there were roughly 600,000 men age twenty and up when they came out of Egypt (Exodus 12:37), we can assume then that there were roughly the same number of women, making an over-20 population of about 1.2 million people.

Those 1.2 million people all died in that forty year window of wilderness-wandering. Which means that, on average, there were

30,000 funerals a year.
580 buryings a week.
83 deaths a day.
3.5 eulogies read every hour.

Every 17 minutes someone died in the wilderness.

Isn’t that normal? People are always dying now. Well, let’s do a little comparison—in America today there are 260 million people, and about 6400 die every day. The death rate in the wilderness was nearly three times the death rate in America today. So that today 1 out of every 41,000 people in America die each day. In the wilderness, 1 out of every 14,000 people died each day.

The point being, with someone dying every 17 minutes, the wilderness sojourn was time of perpetual mourning, and grief and thoughts about death, and burial rituals. That was life in the wilderness during those forty years. In the camp of Israel, everywhere that someone went there were mourners. Everyone was losing or were about to lose their brothers, aunts, grandmothers and cousins to the grave.

When they refused to take the land, they were pining for Egypt and they longed to return (Numbers 11:5). Egypt was a place obsessed with death. Even today when we think of Egypt, the first image that comes to our minds are their pyramids – great tombs which dominated the landscape. Their pagan holy book was “The Book of the Dead”.

Because God’s people wanted to return to Egypt so badly, God did them the favor of allowing them to experience a little Egypt right there in the wilderness, by visiting them with death on an almost unimaginable scale.

And their apostasy is a warning to us. The psalmist exhorts us “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion… for forty years I was grieved with that generation…” (Psalm 95) God forbid us from longing to be part of and accepted by the culture of death and misery that we have been separated from, lest He give us a taste of it the way He did those in the wilderness.

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The taxman

According to the Americans for Tax Reform, in 2005: Americans worked 185 days to pay taxes and comply with the regulatory costs of government at the federal, state and local levels. In other words, the cost of government consumes 50.4 percent of national income. That means that every day’s salary up to July 4 went toward paying your tax bill. The report for 2005 indicated that on average Americans would work:

• 84 days to pay for all federal spending
• 43 days to pay all state and local spending
• 37 days to pay the costs of federal regulations
• 23 days to pay the costs of state regulations

Is it any better for this year? Maybe.

but I doubt it.

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“One reason why we Christians argue so much about which hymn to sing, which liturgy to follow, which way to worship is that the commandments teach us to believe that bad liturgy eventually leads to bad ethics. You begin by singing some sappy, sentimental hymn, then you pray some pointless prayer, and the next thing you know you have murdered your best friend.” — Stanley Hauerwas

[yeah, I know this is an old one, but sometimes you need to hear it again]

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From Russia with love

so, I’m minding my own business when I get an email containing this link.
Amazing

[reminds me of Doug Wilson especially, the lead singer]

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