Here is an illustration of my theory that soon the PCA will have a split. The Mississippi Valley Presbytery Report on the Federal Vision came back with an extremely negative outlook. In fact, it condemned it. After pressure they added quotes to prove their contentions, and this included a great many quotes from ministers in good standing. In response, the Louisiana Presbytery has “publicly exonerated” Rev. Wilkins, whose church helped instigate this entire controversy. Not only that, he was also unanimously declared to be faithful to the confessional standards of the PCA. This puts two presbyteries of the PCA against each other. One clearly saying the Federal Vision is a deviation from the Bible and the Westminster and the other saying that the Federal Vision is acceptable and faithful to the Westminster Confession of Faith. One condemns certain leaders of the movement, the other exonerates them, neither with a proper trial. A dividing line appears to have been clearly drawn in the sand. How the PCA can rectify this problem and reconcile these two presbyteries is beyond me. If they can’t be squared away, then a split seems inevitable. Doctrinal unity is gone, only organic unity remains in the PCA. How long will that last. If I were guessing, the PCA, as we know it, won’t see 2010.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Even if you don’t like baseball, stick with me through this, I think it will make a point worth your time. It is a little test just to see how our feelings and attitudes change when we let unhealthy ‘bias’ get involved. I will give you the statistics for four players. The question is, who is the best hitter among the four?
Player #1 – .366 career Batting Average with 4189 hits in 24 seasons
Player #2 – .342 career Batting Average with 2873 hits in 22 seasons
Player #3 – .344 career Batting Average with 2654 hits in 19 seasons
Player #4 – .300 career Batting Average with 2730 hits in 19 seasons
Now which one is the best hitter? Go ahead and pick one. That being done, let us move on to the next question, ‘who is the best baseball player of the four?’ Here are a few more stats to help you out.
#1 – threw people out from the outfield 410 times, stole 892 bases, and drove in 1934 runs.
#2 – threw people out from the outfield 204 times, stole 123 bases, and drove in 2213 runs.
#3 – threw people out from the outfield 140 times, stole 24 bases, and drove in 1839 runs.
#4 – threw people out from the outfield 166 times, stole 506 bases, and drove in 1834 runs.
Having those statistics which is the best player all around? Have you made your choice? Now let me give you their names and see if you feelings change.
#1 = Ty Cobb
#2 = Babe Ruth
#3 = Ted Williams
#4 = Barry Bonds
Did anyone have Barry Bonds as best all around base ball player before seeing his name? Did anyone have Ted Williams as best hitter before seeing his name? Yet, over and over if you listen to Sports Radio or watch ESPN or any baseball game you will hear people say Barry Bonds is the best baseball player ever. Or people will say Ted Williams is the best hitter of all time. They do this despite the numbers, and they do this despite the rule changes in baseball that have made it easier for hitters such as banning the spit ball and lowering the pitcher’s mound that benefit Barry Bonds and Ted Williams. Why do people do this? It’s their view of history. We all have a tendency to neglect history. People naturally are drawn to the ‘new’ no matter if it is baseball or if it is theology. People would rather argue that Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball player ever just like some Supreme Court justices would rather listen to the new thoughts about the death penalty in France than see what the authors of the Constitution thought. People value new things much more than old things. History means very little in today’s society.
Yet there is another point that needs to be made and these same four players can make it for us. Here is the one stat that is important to people today.
Ty Cobb – 117 homeruns
Babe Ruth – 714 homeruns
Ted Williams – 521 homeruns
Barry Bonds – 703 homeruns
There is a danger in riding one’s favorite hobbyhorse. Soon it is the only thing one can see. It distorts the view of everything else. In baseball it is the homerun that gets all of the emphasis. Barry and Babe are the two great players even though they don’t have the rest of the qualifications that Ty Cobb has. What they do have is more homeruns and that makes them better, in most people’s minds. Those people have lost the view of the whole. A great example of that fact is Ted Williams’ Hitters Hall of Fame. Here Ted supposedly ended the debate about who is the greatest hitter of all time by applying a formula to each players’ resume and seeing who was number 1. Who was it? Surprise, surprise, it was Babe Ruth. Ty Cobb finished a distant 6th. The man with the highest career batting average and second in hits finished 6th in the best hitter category. Why? Because Ted’s formula put a greater emphasis on home runs than singles. When we emphasize something too much it distorts our view of reality. Saying that Babe Ruth is a better hitter when he has a batting average 20 points lower and almost 2000 hits behind is pretty strange. Yet, again this goes for far more than baseball. If you emphasize justification too much, you lose sight of sanctification. If you emphasize sanctification too much then you lose sight of justification. If you emphasize the sacraments too much, preaching often suffers. If you emphasize National Security too much you forfeit personal rights and privacy. If you emphasize the National Government you lose sight of the State governments and their role, if you emphasize the States, you lose sight of the Union. Endless examples could be sighted to prove my point, but I bet enough have already popped into your head. It is important to always have the big picture in mind. We can’t major in the minors, or we will end up with a distorted view of reality. No matter what the subject is.
Friday, July 08, 2005
I have not been following the Emergent Church controversies at all. I would hear about here and there, but it did not seem to matter much to me. Then I had a friend in an Emergent Church in Colorado Springs. Still, I remained fairly uninterested. I got curious when I saw Andrew Sandlin and John Armstrong take strong stands for the Emergent movement, with minor reservations of course. These men who support the Federal Vision movement in the Reformed Churches were supporting the Emergent movement too. I wondered what the connection might be. I believe I have found it. Pure hatred of confessionalism. The one thing that the Emergent movement is a contempt for standards in theology. Al Mohler comments about the Emerging Church:
The very nomenclature of the movement betrays a sense that evangelicalism must be cast aside in order for something new, radical, and more authentic to emerge. "For almost everyone within the movement," Carson argues, "this works out in an emphasis on feelings and affections over against linear thought and rationalities; on experience over against truth; on inclusion over against exclusion; on participation over individualism and the heroic loner." This approach produces what McLaren calls "a new kind of Christian," and a new kind of church.
Note the antipathy for rational thought and the need for development. Mohler continues to state:
Accepting the postmodern insistence that "metanarratives" are dead, McLaren argues that Christianity must develop a new way of describing, defining, and defending the gospel. A metanarrative--a unifying theory of universal meaning--is to be replaced by a far more humble understanding of truth that accepts pluralism as a given and holds all truth claims under suspicion
Here again, universal meaning is a thing of the past. The Emerging Church wants a new way to “define” the gospel. Disturbing.
How does this relate to the Federal Vision? I believe in that very same way. Now there is no doubt that the Emerging Church and the Federal Vision arrive at some very different conclusions. But, they both share a need to develop new theology with a new definition of the gospel. Listen to John Armstrong discuss the PCA’s decision to not distribute the Mississippi Valley Presbytery Report:
It would be a wonderful day for modern reformation, and for the true principle of semper reformanda, if this issue were put to rest once for all, at least as it is perceived as some kind of serious threat to the gospel. I have my doubts that this will happen so long as the PCA is influenced by "strict confessionalist" (TR) types.
Clearly here Armstrong equates the constant reforming change as the good guys and those who adhere to confessions as the bad guys. Note also that the gospel is better off without the Confessions. Armstrong later openly desires the PCA “will pursue an open posture toward the world in general, and the work of fresh and serious biblical theology in particular,” but doubts they will because of the “schismatic spirit” of the aforementioned ‘strict confessionalists.’ Yes, he also calls those who wish to adhere to a confession strictly “a small coalition of the theologically disturbed.”
The two groups have one thing in common, contempt for standards. Both groups need a developing theology. One that will change and grow with them. One that will not be confined to a confession, nor one that will inhibit their "fresh", innovative thinking, which stands as proof of their intellect and piety.
In the coming months and years, maybe, those who believe in truth will find it more and more under attack by those once considered allies. The idea of confessions, and confessional churches will be attacked. The “small coalition of the theologically disturbed” must continue to make its stand for an unchanging truth. Or else the Presbyterian and Reformed world will be overrun by those who would exchange the wisdom of our fathers for the whispers of the woman on the street, those who would exchange the truth of God for a lie.
Monday, July 04, 2005
It has been a really long time since I attended a July 4th Celebration. I mean a real celebration. Every town has its fireworks, and the big cities do them well, but there is a lot more to a celebration than fireworks. Even more than a parade.
My family and I attended the parade and festivities in Westfield, ND. Here this town of no more than 100 held a parade. Every float threw candy to kids. The flag led the parade in, and we all sang the national anthem, had a prayer of thanksgiving, and then witnessed a nice parade. The parade even had a children’s division for float made by kids under the age of 18. From there the party moved to a nearby field where races of all types commenced. One of the floats that resembled a train (it was a four wheeler pulling barrels on their sides with wheels that had man made seats inside, gave rides to all of the children who wanted them. We left at lunch because kids need naps, but the town had the entire day planned out. Softball, musical guests, and lots more fun. Our town of Herreid has its events at night when our town will hold its races and softball and a free swim is offered this afternoon. Fireworks will just be the icing on the cake. In fact, the town here in this area of the country stagger their parades so you can go from one town to the next town to the next and see a never ending cycle of parades. Many people did just that.
I guess my point is that this was a real celebration. This was not an event where every family grabbed a blanket and watched and then went home. Or a display that was made more for TV than for the public. This was a community coming together and enjoying each other. This was people celebrating. Sad to say all to few communities get together and real celebrate. I hope that everyone out there really celebrated the mercy of God by putting us in a great country. So go out and watch a parade, witness some fireworks, but don’t forget to say hi to your neighbors as you do it. Don’t forget to go rub shoulders with old friends, and most of all don’t forget to feast.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
In honor of the upcoming 4th of July and my quest to read more biographies, I thought I would recommend to everyone The Life of Andrew Jackson, by Robert V. Remini. I had the honor of hearing Mr. Remini lecture on Andrew Jackson in college, and I have since been looking for his biography of the 7th President of the United States. The original 3 vol. Biography won the National Book Award, and is a bit to pricey for me, but I recently found the abridgement.
I enjoyed learning more about the man who did the most to shape our country. Easily the most influential President of all time, Andrew Jackson stood neither as a conservative nor a liberal making him a very interesting study. Mr. Remini does not worship Gen. Jackson and thus presents both his credentials and faults with equal clarity. Although Mr. Remini takes a few psychological guesses at the reason for religious belief in Gen. Jackson’s wife, he honestly and fairly deals with Gen. Jackson’s conversion to Christianity after his presidency. The writing style is very agreeable, and the abridgement contains more than enough information for all to learn more about the Hero of New Orleans, the 7th President of the United States, and the founder of the Democratic Party.
“Our Union it must be preserved.” – President Andrew Jackson during a toast.
“When I have suffered sufficiently the Lord will then take me to himself – but what are all my suffering compared to those of the blessed Saviour, who died upon that cursed tree for me, mine are nothing.” - President Jackson one week before his death.
This July 4th, learn more about the glorious nation in which we live. A good way to do so would be by reading this book.