Merry Christmas to all. I hope and pray that everyone has a joyous day and season. Lord willing, I will be visiting my in-laws in Michigan, so posting will be light.
God bless us everyone!
Monday, December 25, 2006
Merry Christmas to all. I hope and pray that everyone has a joyous day and season. Lord willing, I will be visiting my in-laws in Michigan, so posting will be light.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
My favorite team in the NBA, the Denver Nuggets, have recently acquired my least favorite player and the embodiment of all that is wrong in basketball, Allan Iverson. Ever since the rumors began to float about a trade to the Nuggets, I was sure the end of my favorite team was around the corner. However, I must admit that I think the Nuggets made a decent deal, if they had to make it. While I still think making the trade at all was bad for the long run, I can see a benefit for the playoffs by adding someone else who can score, especially from the outside. Better yet, they did not have to trade future star, Nene. By only giving away a mediocre starter who could not hit long jumpers and a bench player who is worthless, the team avoided killing the franchise. I wish they could have kept at least one of the first round picks, but I guess they are willing to bet the team they have now is going to win the West. Anyway, the trade was still a bad idea, but at least I still have hope for the team overall.
On a more serious note, The video a Girl Like Me repeats the doll test of Brown v Board of Education with results that have cause a bit of a stir. It has made many think that racism and stereotypes are still rampant in this country. I want to state up front that segregation was an evil most foul, lest anyone try to twist my next words. I think ABC and those reacting to this test are overreacting and failing to ask a basic question. What everyone would be saying if those kids in Harlem had picked the white doll as the bad doll and black doll as the good doll? Would that indicate that people were being taught to hate those who have different skin color than themselves? Perhaps it is time we realized that this test has no right answer because it demands a value judgment based on skin color. Both answers are racist answers. I do pray for the day when racism ends, but this test means little to nothing.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Since I have taken a bit of a beating over my last post, I thought I should delve into the Young Earth view just a little bit more. The thoughtful Internet Monk has an article about why he rejects the Young Earth view. While it is well thought out and well written, I believe it to be unconvincing in the end. The Monk believes that Genesis 1 is a ‘prescientific’ account, and that Young Earth men like myself fail to take into account the literary genre of Genesis 1. I have a few points of rebuttal, if I am so allowed.
1. I am not sure I agree with the phrase ‘prescientific’ as if science is something man invented. Science is observation, not an invention. Did the Greeks always get science right? No, but they still practiced science. America today does not always get ‘science’ right. I am still not clear as whether butter or margarine is healthier. I understand what the Internet Monk is trying to say, but his terminology needs to be clearer. He does not think Genesis 1 is a Modern Science text. But, I think anyone can agree to that, and I agree to that. We are not told every scientific detail.
2. The Monk uses the example of explaining the birth of a baby to a three year old child. He rightfully would describe it differently to a college senior than to a three year old. He goes on to state that it does not mean he is lying or using allegory, just appropriate language. Again, here we have no disagreement. But, I believe his example actually harms his own position. One could tell a three year old that babies come from the stork. That would be a lie. However, one could tell the three year old a truth without revealing the in-depth details. How does this apply to Genesis 1? Well, if the days of creation are not literal 24 hour days, then God has given us a ‘stork’ explanation that is not true at all. What era of man did not understand ‘evening and morning’ or the concept of a ‘day’? Thus, holding to a ‘prescientific’ narrative does not get one around the difficulty of whether or not the days are literal.
3. The Internet Monk does seem to confound the Creationism or Creation Science with the Biblical position of a Young Earth. I agree with him completely when he says that we do not need scientific testimony to hold to the truthfulness of the Bible. Some Creation Science is out there on the fringe like the idea that the speed of light is not constant. Yet, that should not be confounded with the Biblical arguments. While I do believe there is legitimate science to support a Young Earth position, I don’t need it. If there is no scientific support for my position at all, I will still believe it because the Bible tells me to believe it. Is there science to support life after death? No, but I know there is because it has been revealed in God’s word. All I ask of those who hold to an Old Earth or some other position is to listen to the Biblical argument, not any scientific ones.
4. The idea that the creation story and genealogies of Genesis are theological, not historical, in their purpose also does not solve any problems. The genealogies are specific and people from the 2nd century on have used them to count backwards to Adam and Eve. If this account is ‘prehistorical’ or only ‘theological’ in its purpose then that idea was completely lost by the early church and most rabbis. This genealogies occur in many places, and while I do think there is a theological point, that does not exclude a historical accurate list.
This gets back to the discussion about inerrancy. The term generally means that the Bible does not contain errors of any kind. Thus, it is a reliable historical document. Yet, the Internet Monk has defined the Bible’s passages in such a way that it is not in ‘error’ when rightly understood in its purpose, but it is indeed unreliable for historical accuracy. The Bible becomes a theological book without historical reliability. To steal Charles Spurgeon’s analogy, The Internet Monk has removed the skeleton and left a pile of quivering flesh.
Which brings me to my last point. Despite the claims of some that inerrancy is an ‘Enlightenment’ word (which is a way to label something so you can throw it out), or that no confession ever used the word so it is a non-essential, there is ample proof that the Church has always held to inerrancy. Even though the word itself may not be used it is easily demonstratable that the church has always found the Bible to be historically accurate and even usable to date the earth. Spurgeon’s words showing that the Bible was both historical and theological and each worthless without the other should suffice for him. The WCF claims God created in "the space of 6 days", which does a good job of showing the Westminster Divines viewed the Bible as historically accurate, and the Genesis account in particular (pre-enlightenment by the way). Irenaeus in “Against Heresies” claims six literal days for creation and a world that is less than six thousand years old. Obviously Irenaeus does not have a problem with using the genealogies to date the world. To him we can add Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen all held to literal days and dated the world to be less than 10,000 (all but Origen thought less than 6,000). Showing they viewed the Bible to be without historical error and the genealogies to be accurate for dating. Basil, Theophilus, Ambrose, and Cyril of Jerusalem all taught six 24 hour days, not seeing the disparity between theological and historical claimed by the Internet Monk. Even Augustine, who thought creation instantaneous, viewed the Bible as historically accurate and used the genealogies to date the earth young, less than 6,000 years (City of God 12:12). The Reformers were on the side of historical accuracy, and the Synod of Dort’s authorized Bible annotated the days of creation to be 24 hour days.
Perhaps the term ‘inerrancy’ was coined around the enlightenment. However, the idea that the Bible was useful for not only theology, but history as well is not new, nor it is it an enlightenment idea. We see men in the second century counting the ages of those in the Bible to discover the age of the earth. Archbishop Ussher may be famous for it, but it was an idea that dated back to the closing of the canon. The fancy claims the church has never thought of the Bible as inerrant nor taught a Young Earth view appear to have very little support in church history.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Kevin Johnson at Reformed Catholicism has a nice response to Douglas Wilson's latest rant about the PCA/Wilkins/FV controversy. According to Wilson this clear confession of faith either ensures that Wilkins will be cleared, prove the PCA is a bunch of idiots, or prove the PCA is a bunch of hate-mongers. I am glad someone called out the elephant in the room.
Monday, December 11, 2006
The Boar’s Head Tavern, which is really more like a country club than a Tavern (no non-members, no brawls, etc.), has recently put up a poll covering several issues. The Boar’s Head is place that includes many members that blog elsewhere highlighted by the Internet Monk, who started the poll. A few others around the blogosphere have joined in like Joel Garver and Kevin Johnson. It is an interesting, but very disturbing poll. It shows a wide variety of people attend the Boar’s Head with the majority of them favoring Credo-baptism, but it is neither the sacraments nor their disagreements I wish to highlight. Nor are their disagreements particularly disturbing. The few places where they agree shocked me. Besides the obvious massive agreement to keep comments closed, they only overwhelmingly agreed on two other subjects.
First, only two members of the blog thought Young Earth Creationism was valid. Two out of at least 23. That is less than 10% of the people held to a Young Earth view. Not only that, but also many of them held a Young Earth view in a great deal of contempt. One mentioning that he had "outgrown the T-shirt", and another making sure we all knew that Young Earth and the science behind it "dishonors the creator". I have to admit this took me by surprise. With evolution faltering in the secular world and science favoring William Paley as much as it favors Charles Darwin, I fail to see a reason for such venom. Even if one wants to snub ‘Creation Science’ as a mistake for some reason (some of it is bad, but not all), it still seems unwarranted to doubt the Biblical data. Archbishop Ussher would be disappointed his chronology is rejected, but beyond Rev. Ussher’s timeframe, biblical reasoning for Day-Age or Framework is hard to find. The plain and simple reading is literal days, a fact many Day-Age and framework people admit. I would be very interesting in discovering exactly what provokes such an Old Earth view in the gang at the Boar’s Head.
Second, not a single member of the Boar’s Head agreed with Cessationism, the idea that the miraculous gifts are not longer around. It is true that some admitted to practically being a cessationist, but they still thought the Bible did not end the gifts. One did admit he thought the theory of cessationism was fine, but failed in practice, whatever that means. Again some venom was spewed forth here as well. One wonders if they believe that the Bible is complete? If prophecy is still around, then how can one close the Bible? A question I would like to see them answer.
The final and most disturbing point is one that seems to tie the first points together. Ten out of twenty three people denied the inerrancy of the Bible. Only eleven affirmed with two admitting they did not know. Thus, the majority of the people answering the poll did not affirm the fact that the Bible did not contain errors. Many would put forth the Bible was infallible, but would not say that it was inerrant. This fact not only blows the mind, but also makes one wonder if this is a new sensation sweeping through Christianity. Of course a Bible with errors makes it easier to reject creationism and necessitates continuing revelation (since previous revelation is full of errors). Yet once the door of the Bible is opened to error, what can be left for the Christian to hold? Every truth of the Bible must be challenged, and what will be the final arbiter of truth? Some of the polled claimed that inerrancy missed the point because the point of the Bible was Jesus Christ. Yet, how can one know anything for sure about Jesus if the Bible that reveals him is wrong often or even from time to time. Is the Virgin Birth wrong? Is Jesus both God and man, or is that wrong? What about the Trinity? All such doctrines are attacked by secularists and non-believers as much as the Young Earth doctrine, why not jettison those as well? And if not, why not? How can you know what is right and what is wrong in the Bible? It is true that no one at the Tavern is openly arguing for errors, but they seem to be advocating the idea that they could exist since God is not the ‘author’ of Scripture, but rather the ‘director’. The Boar’s Head is a place where many of differing stripes gather to talk and discuss things. However, this development of the theology of the Boar’s Head should put the Church on notice. We cannot take for granted the fact that those in the pew believe the Bible is without error, and the only source for truth. There is an obvious growing movement within the church itself against inerrancy.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
It seems to me that Islam has come to America now to challenge us as a nation. Europe has already given in for the most part. By this I do not mean to terrorism for most people will fight against terrorism, but I mean to creation of Islamic states or states-with-in-states. Canada has already seen Sharia law allowed with its boarders. I believe the first rounds of that battle in America will be fought in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Many things are occurring there now that are connected.
Minneapolis has recently elected the first Muslim the Congress and he plans on using the Koran for his swearing in ceremony. This battle is mainly symbolic, but symbolism must go before real change can take place. Symbolism is not unimportant. Something too many of us forget.
Bigger battles loom in Minneapolis than their elected leader. For example most of you have probably heard of the six imams who were removed from a plane for suspicious behavior. Their lawyer, who was on TV in less than 3 hours, claims discrimination. I would be remiss not to note that at least one imam has connections to a charity that had its assets frozen for giving money to terrorists. The Minneapolis airport is full of Arab-Muslims. They staff almost every eatery in the airport. So the mere presence of Arabs would not be enough to shake travelers in Minneapolis. Yet, the sight of prayers prior to boarding planes is rather rare, and it seems to me that these men were wanting something to challenge in court. After all, to implement Sharia law, one must get the courts to allow it, as they did in Canada.
Another example is a lesser-reported story about taxi cab drivers. Again the majority of taxi cab drivers at the Minneapolis airport are Arab and Muslim. Yet recently many of them have stopped taking passengers who carry alcohol. Apparently alcohol is so evil in Islam that one cannot even be a transporter of it. This is causing huge problems because the airport is being harmed by the long waits for taxicabs, yet can the government force people to violate their religion? This is another case bound for court sooner or later. What lies behind these things seems to me an organized effort in Minneapolis to get Muslims to live a life in conformity with the strict fundamentalist- Sharia law version of Islam.
These cases may seem innocent enough, but they will be building blocks for Muslims to try and create a Sharia law haven in America as they have in other countries. Then we will see the uglier aspects of Islam rear their head such as marrying multiple women, beating wives being allowed, easy access divorce for men only, and other such things demanded by the Koran. Whether or not these imams and mosques that encourage such living will become breeding ground for homegrown terrorists is unclear, but I do think it is the lesser evil. Terrorists can be stopped by police work. What will be worse is a religion of hate that would exist inside and independent of American justice systems. The Taliban and Sharia law is not just for the Middle East anymore. Now it may be for the Mid-West.
Friday, December 01, 2006
There seems to be some discussion going on about whether or not Presbyterianism functions any differently than Episcopal government. The discussion originated on Barlow Farms where Jon Barlow shows (or attempts to show) the PCA is really full of bishops. He has an interesting point about the branches of the PCA and their current state of control. Boar’s Head Tavern weighs in on the debate not once, but twice. The latest to join the discussion is the men at Reformed Catholicism. Interestingly, Reformed Catholicism expands the discussion to include Doug Wilson and the CREC. They reference what happened at Church of the King Santa Cruz, which has left the CREC. I know nothing about what happened in that situation, but here are a few links to let the readers make their own decisions. Reformed Catholicism makes a call for Presbyterians to come out of the closet and consecrate bishops. It is more honest, they believe.
In these small denominations (as the quote above demonstrates), influential men rule the day. Their disciples are often the very men that make up the rest of the presbytery. There is no rule of law in terms of Scripture other than the way the men in power see the matter. This is why parties are foolish to press matters in the ecclesiastical courts. The bench is loaded and the courts won’t come to the truth of the matter. . . . So, why not be upfront about it? Why not let the people know what is really going on? Consecrate your "bishops" and come out of the closet.
However, I would like to contend in favor of true Presbyterianism against bishoprics. The defense will be painful for some of my readers, but I think it accurate.
First, neither the PCA nor the CREC is truly a Presbyterian form of government. One is an amalgamation and the other a perversion or a sham depending on how cynical you are. The PCA has the local congregations, but ministers are not members (if this is not true, I am willing to be corrected). They are members of the Presbytery making all judicial cases against ministers have to originate in the Presbytery. For a denomination that wants ruling elders and teaching elders to be the same, this hurts their cause. Then if a case goes through the Presbytery, it goes straight to the General Assembly, but not the GA proper, it goes to an Standing Judicial Commission that has a great deal of autonomy. GA and Presbyteries are both full of ministers and lacking in elders. I do not believe the PCA sets out to have bishops, it has in practice descended toward it a bit. The elders are not participatory as they should be and the lack of Synods has removed an important layer of Presbyterianism. One can also get into top heavy committees and things that seem to an inverted Presbyterianism at best. The CREC on the other hand is down a path that is also not one of Presbyterianism. The allowance of almost any creed and the inability to adjudicate on many matters because of the multicreedalism is not a good start. It is also a bastion of Mercersburg/Federal Vision theology and that theology is Episcopal in nature. One Mercersburg controlled Classis in the Old RCUS actually ordained a man to be bishop. The groundwork is there for Episcopal tyranny in their theology. So, I believe the examples cited have flaws that do not detract from true Presbyterianism.
Second, even if the CREC and PCA are true presbyterian forms of government are not both Barlow Farms and Reformed Catholicism arguing from the failures of men, not of the system? The above quote goes as far to suggest that ministers become disciples of other ministers and do not have the ability to render a biblical judgment apart from fiat from their masters. A low view of ministers today indeed! I was trained by a godly man, Dr. Powell at New Geneva Theological Seminary, but I voted against him several times at the last Synod. For example, he voted to continue funding for an unnamed christian college, and I think the Synod has no business funding such projects. I do not think that the relationship is harmed at all. I would give more examples, but I barely notice how he votes. Hardly is it required that men become disciples of those who are more famous in their denominations or doing the educating in their denomination.
Third, the bible teaches presbyterianism. Acts 15 is a wonderful example, but not the only one. Here we see elders and apostles side by side voting. Note it also says it pleased the Holy Spirit. The elders are not swayed by apostolic dictates, but by the Word of God and His Spirit. Also see I Corinthians where party spirits existed. The problem there was not presbyterianism, but episcopalianism. Some were following Peter, others Apollos, some Paul, and some Christ. The very mistake of the Corinthians is that they lined up behind men, exalting them to positions where they did not belong. Paul corrects them not by teaching them to follow more bishops, but rather by exhorting them to meek submission to Christ. This is the answer for those denominations plagued by psuedo-bishops (if that truly be the case). Sure, we fail from time to time. But it is not the fault of the system, but of man. The answer is not to come out of the closet, but to repent and be humble.
James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights is not a biography of James Madison. So if you are interested in Madison and his studies under John Witherspoon, do not bother. However, if you are interested in a good look at early American struggles to fit together the Constitution, it is a good book.
One thing that impressed me was the Virginia Ratifying convention. The Federalists at the convention included no less than one future President (Madison), the current governor who would become the Attorney General (Randolph), two future Supreme Court Justices (Marshall and Bushrod Washington), chief jurist of Virginia (Pendleton), the first law professor in America (Wythe), future congressman (White), and revolutionary war heroes (Henry Lee). The Anti-Federalist side contained a five time governor and man who turned down the senate, Supreme Court and Secretary of State (Henry), state politician and revolutionary war hero (Mason), three future senators (Richard Henry Lee and William Grayson and John Brown from Kentucky), a future President (Monroe), future Congressman (Dawson). 30 of the 168 delegates were current members of the Virginia Legislature. This is all with the two most famous citizens and future Presidents, Washington and Jefferson, not attending. An amazing collection of men, in fact, an impressive collection voting against ratification.
One thing that disappointed me is that the author, Richard Labunski, did not do enough to vindicate James Madison from the charge of changing his beliefs. He takes a great deal of heat from historians who point out Madison writes the Federalist papers and then leads the Anti-Federalists in Congress. Alexander Hamilton Biographers are usually pretty ruthless on Madison as well. Many claim that Madison being passed over for the Senate caused him to become an Anti-Federalist to get back in the good graces of the Virginia people. This is far from true. Madison did not want to serve in the Senate, and knew that Patrick Henry would pick to men who opposed the Constitution, as he did. Madison ran for the House in a gerrymandered district as a Federalist and won. So there is no truth behind that ludicrous claim. Mr. Labunski sometimes says Madison always remained true, but then later talks of the evolution of Madison’s support for the Bill of Rights. I have long thought that the idea of Federalists and Anti-Federalists is not correct. Rather it should be Nationalists, Federalists, and Anti-Federalists. This book provides some nice proof. We too often think of our First Ten Amendments when we talk of support for a Bill of Rights, and that was by no means settled when men like Patrick Henry and George Mason, true Anti-Federalists, spoke about a Bill of Rights. They desired not only protections like freedom of press, speech and religion, but also other changes to protect the rights of the citizens, mainly the elimination of direct taxation power of the government. They wanted other things like an increased size for the House of Representatives, the participation of the House in ratifying treaties and appointments of the President all under the name ‘Bill of Rights’. Madison favored a careful crafting of amendments that enumerated rights such as freedom of religion, habeas corpus and other freedoms found in our 10 Amendments. He favored them as long as the writing of the amendments did not imply the Federal government had powers to take rights not specifically listed away. He did think the government only had powers that were enumerated, and thus had no power over religion and press, but was never opposed to carefully protecting them (which says something about how Madison viewed the ‘necessary and proper’ clause in the Constitution). Madison, however, opposed the removal of direct taxation and other changes to the body of the Constitution. This led to him being labeled a Federalist by Virginia Anti-Federalists. However, once in Congress he proposed the Bill of Rights, as feared by Henry without the changes in Direct Taxation and other powers odious to Anti-Federalists, and nothing that changed the relationship between the Federal Government and the states. It was not Madison who changed his views, rather it was Hamilton. Hamilton argued for the Constitution even though he was truly a Nationalist who desired the eradication of states. Madison’s opposition to Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury was not a change in Madison rather it was the sneaky attempt of Hamilton to steal powers for the Federal Government that did not belong to it that cause Madison’s opposition.
In the end, the book was quite enjoyable, and worth a read.