Every now and then a movie comes along that just wows you with how good it is. This is NOT that movie. In fact, it sort of wowed me with how horrible it is. Eat, Pray, Love is bad in many ways. The movie is just outright too long. But the acting is well done. If you watch movies just for the acting this one is good. But if you think what the movie is communicating is important, then this movie ought to make you sick. What worries me is that not everyone will see this movie for what it is . . . bad advice and a recipe for despair.
Basically the plot is this. Julia Roberts (I don't even remember the character's name) gets divorced from a marriage she was miserable in. According to the movie because she lost herself, thus, she lost her happiness. Despite a new younger boyfriend, she cannot find happiness. So she breaks up with him. That part of the movie is only about a half hour. The fast part. She then goes to Rome, India, Bali. Each city represents a part of her healing and moving on with her life. Rome is learning that ruin is an important part of change. India is about forgiving yourself. Bali is about finding your own balance, and there the new love is introduced, and we learn that sometimes losing your balance in love is part of finding your balance in life. That is a quote. The movie is not all that subtle. It hits you over the head with most of this stuff. Because this movie is meant to be preachy. Which is why it is so upsetting. I can see a lot of people leaving this movie and feeling moved or thinking it profound. It is not.
The one thing that I think the movie did show that is actually true is the destruction of sin. The divorce leaves people devastated. It was a sinful divorce. No adultery, no wife beating, nothing like that. In fact, he fights the divorce. It wrecks her, and him. You meet some others who are similarly wrecked by sin. Everything else in the movie is a horrible lie.
First, ruin is not necessarily a good thing. Sometimes ruin is just ruin. She writes a profound email in Rome about how this one site (burial site of Augustus) was ruined when Rome was sacked, and then it was all these other things, but each time it was destroyed. She found hope in it because the ruin led to adaptability and conforming. In other words the building was ruined many times, no longer used for its original purpose, and now conformed to the world around it, until the world around it would ruin it again. Really, that is not a good message. Ruin is ruin. What is needed in not to be conformed, but to be transformed by the power of Christ. That is exactly what the character in this movie needed, but the movie wanted to push a falsehood about man redeeming himself by loving himself.
Second, forgiving yourself is a joke. They constantly present it as hard work in this movie. But, in the end, she is able to forgive herself for destroying the life of her former husband. She never actually asks for his forgiveness. Never. There is no concept of actual guilt, or even the idea of harming others means dealing with others. You meet a few other souls there in India who did horrible things to other people, even their own children, but they are now trying to forgive themselves. No reconciliation, no approaching other people, no confessing sin to those who were sinned against. None of it. This is not hard work. That is taking the easy way out. And they are not forgiving themselves. Rather they are just learning how to live with their guilt. To bury the truth so they can go on. This part of the movie actually made me angry, and it was surely not meant to do that.
Third, the balance part was equally weird. Balance was achieved by putting love of self at the center. Choosing to be happy. As one person put it in the movie, "Balance is not letting anyone else love you less than you love yourself." That is just stupidity. It is also the opposite of what Christ teaches us about the self. It is not let others love me as I love myself. No it is love your neighbor as you love yourself, which by the way comes after love the Lord your God, with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Anyway, I just had to write this before I could calm down from the movie. This movie is all about the philosophy in it, and thus this movie deserves a lot of scorn.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Every now and then a movie comes along that just wows you with how good it is. This is NOT that movie. In fact, it sort of wowed me with how horrible it is. Eat, Pray, Love is bad in many ways. The movie is just outright too long. But the acting is well done. If you watch movies just for the acting this one is good. But if you think what the movie is communicating is important, then this movie ought to make you sick. What worries me is that not everyone will see this movie for what it is . . . bad advice and a recipe for despair.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I just watched the new Robin Hood movie staring Russel Crow. Frankly, I think it was better than Kevin Cosner version, but overall I have to say I was disappointed.
First the good. This movie has a nice theme of freedom, which has made many liberal critics furious. Robin Hood was the ultimate socialist in previous incarnations, and now he is against tyranny, not the rich. A nice change of pace. Closer to the original. But, they make him the driving force behind the Magna Charta, which is silly. The movie included some other favorite merry men like Alan a Dale, and he is singing. That was all good. The French were the bad guys, and that is always a plus in my movie rating system.
Next the bad. The plot was ridiculous. The Magna Charta? Come on. They used the Robin as a crusader again. It was predictable after that. They set up a sequel, which we can all hope never happens.
Robin Hood is a great stroy, and one of my favorites actually. I enjoy the tales, but the movies seldom follow suit. Robin Hood is more a huckster than a revolutionary. He is in for good times and fun sport, which is usually why he ends up harassing the rich. This movie ruined Little John, showed little of the Sheriff of Nottingham, and continued the amalgamation of Will Stutely and Will Scarlett. Will Scarlett is not Scarlett because of his hair, but was rather because of his dress in the ballads and tales of Robin Hood. The movie also insists on a love interest in Maid Marion, who is not part of the original tales. The love story always feels rushed in a story that is really about Robin and his outlaw ways. What role does a woman have in a band of Merry Men who are robbing people anyway?
In the end, I continue to hold out hope that one day a fun movie of Robin Hood will be made that does justice to the actual source material. But that day has not yet come.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
A bevy of book reviews
It has been sometime since I posted a book review, so here are a few.
Christless Christianity by Michael Horton
This book is a great read. Horton’s style is one of smooth reading for the most part. Any pastor should not have any trouble at all. Laymen will occassionaly wonder at side tracks where Gnosticism and other such concepts are brought in without a lot of explanation. Still, even with that minor note, the book is great. It is a spot on critique of the American Church. In fact, the book has a wonderful and devastating look at Joel Osteen and many like him. This book profoundly made me stop and look at my own ministry to make sure I was holding up Christ showing I think that Horton does not just critique, but also extols the importance and place of Jesus Christ. He tears down, but he does not fail to build up and offer the only comfort in life and in death, Jesus Christ. I do not agree with absolutely everything in this book. One can see the hobby horses of Westmisnter West if you know what to look for, but mostly this book is just a good solid reminder of our absolute need for Jesus, and our propensity to replace Jesus with something a little more palatable to the Old Man in us all. I recommend this book to all. Get this book.
I will be reviewing the companion volume: Gospel-Driven Life when I finish it.
Martin Bucer the Forgotten Hero of the Reformation by David Lawerence
I hope that you all have heard of Martin Bucer. He is getting a bit of a revival these days. I saw this book on several walls of recommended reading, so I gave it a try. I was more than a little disappointed. Now this review is going to come off as harsh, but mostly because the book violated a few of my pet peeves. I did learn a great deal about Martin Bucer reading this bio. The book spoke not only of his life, but of his theology. The book is well written and a fairly easy read. So, it is not like the book was garbage. But I have these things against it. First, it really did put Bucer on a pedestal and basically played apologist for Bucer. That is not always a good thing. Bucer did some things that are not so good like his support of the divorce of Philip of Hesse. The author clearly believed Bucer’s view on other subjects were far superior to other Reformed views. This is something that also should have just been explained rather than championed. A little cheerleading is understandable, but this much was over the top. It led to occassional attacks on other reformers like Zwingli and Bullinger. Needless and turned me off a great deal. Second, it would off hand throw out things that you would want explained and then not explain them leaving me to wonder if it was just a made up point to try and improve Bucer as a role model. One such example was the assersion of the constant opposition and out right hostile stance of Henry Bullinger. This was never explained nor proved, and it was a piece of information I had never heard before? What caused this feud if it existed? Such details are important. Yet they went unprovided. Perhaps because it was better just to cast Bullinger in a bad light than actual put the two positions side by side. Who knows, but I would have liked to learn more about that point. Third, I think that a little more time on the implications of Bucer’s positions on the rest of the Reformation would have been nice. A lot was made of the Bucer-Calvin connection, and probably rightly so. Yet, a drawing out of this influence and its results could have been nice. The same goes for Bucer’s time in England. What happened to the friends like Cheek and Ridley that were mentioned? Did Bucer’s view play a role in the Puritan trouble of later English history. Also what happened in Strasborg or the other places he helped Reform? Those would have been some nice details.
In the end, I am unaware of a better Bucer biography. They are rare. But that does not mean that this is the be all; end all biography of Bucer. Clearly there is still a market for such a book.
Ten Great Feuds: That changed the World by Colin Evans
This book is good, but don’t go into it with the expectations raised by the secondary title. There is no discussion about how any of these feuds changed the world, and only about two had throw away sentences speaking about a possible world shaping influence. Most of them clearly did not shape the world in anyway whatsoever. So if you don’t have that expectation going into the book, then the book is great. The chapters are not too long, and divided so reading is easy. It is written interestingly making sure you are invested into each person in the feud. Then the feud is unfolded for you. The feuds include the Hatfields and the McCoy’s, Stalin versus Trotsky, and even King Charles versus Parliament. I don’t want to give away all 10, but most of them you probably don’t know all the details about, and they are fun reading. So if you want to bone up on your feuding, then this is the book to get it done. I enjoyed it a great deal. I never realized how much blood was spilled in the Hatfield McCoy feud, but I do now. Nor did I realize what a brat and jerk Robert Kennedy was (LBJ versus Robert Kennedy) What more needs to be said.
A.D. 381: Heretics, Pagans, and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State by Charles Freeman
Freeman continues his assault on Christianity in his book A.D. 381 (see Closing of the Western Mind: the rise of Faith and the fall of Reason). For those of you who don’t know 381 is the date of the First Council of Constantinople. Basically this council reaffirmed the council of Nicaea and added to the creed a little bit, making sure the divinity of the Holy Spirit was understood as well. Well, Freeman tries to argue that this is the closing of all intellectual debate and free speech and the beginning of an overbearing monotheistic state. A point he fails to make despite his constant misinterpretation and omission of many important historical events. He makes strange statements trying to downplay the importance of Nicaea, and talks of Nicaea’s comeback with Athanasius. But when you do the math the “Comeback” is less than 15 years after the arrival. Add that to the fact that Alexander, the main opponent of Arius, was bishop before that, and it is hard to imagine it went away at all. While it may be true that the state was monotheistic from that point on, it is weird to see how he has such a hostile attitude to it. Arius and those guys wanted a monotheistic state as well, just a heretical one.
In short, Freeman argues that Emperor Theodosius imposed Nicaea on Constantinople and enforced it, and that the church would never have come to that conclusion. The bishops had little to no part in actually coming up with the creed. This led to religion proclaiming “certainties” which destroyed philosophical thought, started the war with science, and a host of other things that are just as stupid as they sound. Of course all church histories are unreliable and all histories written by people who do not believe the bible are better and thus right. It is really sad that this stuff poses as scholarship. It is more screeds and hatred than anything else.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Rev. Doug Wilson is at it again. He has now posted an article trying to explain why there is a Federal Vision (FV) controversy. He comes up with three reasons. Belief of FV men in 6 day creation, power struggle (which Wilson couches as no heirarchy), and creation of a new Christian Culture as shown in Moscow, ID.
Now, before we dismantle these obviously wrong points, we need to recognize what Rev. Wilson is doing. These are not serious points. He does not honestly believe these are the reasons there is a FV controversy. If he did then he would have dealt with them in the Joint Federal Vision Statement. Only the third point comes up in that statement and that only barely. None of the points comes up in say the Knox meeting published as Federal Vision: Pros and Cons. Not a single one of these points is honest. This is really an attack on the Westminster faction in the URC. One can describe this as an attempt to split or at least play on the tensions within the URC now, probably in hopes of increasing the CREC.
Now before anyone accuses me of assuming motives just read his piece again. He mentions creation and links to multiple articles about the disagreement over creation in the URC, both of which point out the Westminster West crowd is Framework. This also cannot be a reason for the FV controversy because despite his linking to the weakness in the PCA, OPC, and the URC, Rev. Wilson has forgotten the other major NAPARC denomination that condemned the FV: The Reformed Church in the United States. Now the RCUS has a crystal clear position on 6 Day creation, yet we passed unanimously the condemnation of the FV views. I won’t go into the opposition in the PCA comes from pro-6 Day creation men like Dr. Joseph Pipa and others. Clearly this is not a real reason. It is however a well aimed attack.
The second reason is also meant to pick at the recent scab of who runs the URC. Many during the CanRC union talks accused Westminster as well as Mid American Reformed Seminary as trying to run the URC and the reason why mergers did not happen. They were accused of the same thing in the Shepherd Controversy. See a recent motion at the last Synod that the 9 points of the URC were not properly before Synod. The accusation was that a group of men pushed heirarchy down the throats of the confederation by considering and passing the 9 Points. Heirarchy is the theme of Rev. Wilson’s second point.
The third point is about the latest controversy on the URC message boards. The two kingdoms theology versus Abraham Kuyper’s Christian culture theology (or at least the Dutch understanding of it). Wilson claims to be the heir apparent of Kuyper, and the two kingdoms approach advocated by Westminster West looked down on. Well, the URC is Dutch and Kuyper is a hero. Already this same debate is coming up in the URC and will probably split that church. Wilson is getting his vote in now so that people will know where to go when the split occurs. It should go without saying that many of Wilson and the FV critics are Kuyperian.
No, these are not Wilson’s thoughts on why there is a FV controversy. These are shots at Westminster West and an attempt to widen the gap that is growing in the URC.
Monday, August 09, 2010
I know that the movement is underway to celebrate the Reformation’s 500th birthday in 2017. This is of course dated from Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses on the door at Wittenburg. The problem is I do not believe that is a good starting point for the Reformation. It is an easy one because it is a day that everyone can point to and say this day it started. But the Reformation was really already under way. It is impossible to point to a spot and say here it began, nor a time and say it started at this minute. But, if I had to give it a shot, I would say Basel 1505-06. Let us look at why.
In Basel in 1505 there were many future reformers. Leo Juda was graduating and about to take his first call in Alsace as a priest. Juda would end up in Zurich as a Reformer. It was probably at this time that he met Ulrich Zwingli who was also in Basel. Zwingli was teaching at a prepatory school in Basel. Yes, Zwingli was suspected of heresy at this time for refusing to condemn some writings that disavowed the use of images and indulgences and even the sign of the cross. Such things show Zwingli already leaning toward the Reformation though it had not yet begun. Also teaching in Basel at that time was Thomas Wittenbach. Wittenbach was teaching Protestant principles like Justification by faith alone. Wittenbach would later break from the church at Rome and become a Reformer. Leo Juda and Zwingli both sat in on his classes and credit him a great deal for his teaching evangelical doctrine.
1515 saw the hiring of Erasmus, which shows that Basel University and thus the town counsel were still fostering a spirit against the Roman church at least. The Cathedral called Wolfgang Capito to Basel, where he served for 4 years. Capito began correspondence with Zwingli during this time as well as Luther. Casper Hedio appears to have been in Basel as well. Both men probably leaned toward the Reformation already at this time. John Oecolampadius also first arrived in Basel in 1515. He would leave before his final return as the leading reformer of the city, but he was there during this time working closely with Erasmus. When Oswald Myconius arrived is a little unsure. He was student at Basel at some point, but he began to teach there in 1514. Myconius would become a gifted educator and great Reformer too. The Spirit of Basel was surely one of Reformation.
The town did not officially accept the Reformation until 1529, although it was inevitable in 1528. Still, the town showed the way for the Reformation in many ways. In 1522, Oecolampadius was back and openly preaching the Protestant Gospel. In 1522, Wilhelm Reublin was kicked out of his pastorate at St. Alban for being Reformed, but another church in town St. Theodore took him showing their acceptance of the Reformation. Marcus Bertschi also held evangelical beliefs and pastored St. Leonhard in town by 1523. In 1524 the town did excommunicate Jacob Immeli for getting married. That is a priest getting married before almost any of the other Reformers with the exception of Martin Bucer. Yes, Immeli was married before Martin Luther. He would be rehired after the Reformation took hold for good.
It should be noted that Basel then had a hand in the Reformation of Bern (Wyttenbach), Zurich (Zwingli and Juda), and Strassborg (Capito and Hedio). Other lesser known men were influential in St. Gall and its Reformation. And we have not even begun to talk of the printing industry in Basel and the effect it had. Basel in a very real sense is the mother church of the Reformation because of its far reaching effects. People networked and learned the true gospel of Jesus Christ while in Basel. It was here that the Reformation was born.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I am finally getting around to posting the Scriptural argument against Exclusive Psalmody.
Let us just start with Scriptural commands to sing things other than psalms. Remember there is a specific word for psalm. There is debate about whether psalm (the word) means The Psalms always, but we can set that aside for now. Even if we concede it, I think the evidence is on the hymn singing side. Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 are the most famous. Here Christians are commanded to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Granting that psalms here means The Psalms, there seems little possible evidence that hymns and spiritual songs also mean psalms. And as you would expect few Greek scholars even claim they mean the same thing. Not even John Calvin claims that this is in favor of exclusive psalmody. Some want to claim that the use of “kai” (translated and) connects the three making them into three ways of saying one thing. But that argument breaks down as “kai” is not used in Colossians 3:16.
Then of course there is also the command to “sing a new song” (Isaiah 42:10). The word there is “hymn” and not the word “psalm”. The word for psalm exists, but was not used. Thus, here we have a command to sing hymns. The only way to maintain exclusive psalmody is to state that hymns and psalms mean the same thing. They are synonyms. Or that one refers to singing with instruments and one without. That argument is not possible to explain away Deuteronomy 31:19,22 where a non-psalm is required to be memorized and sung. Then there is I Corinthians 14:15,26. There I Corinthians talks of singing with the spirit and singing with understanding. This is further enlarged when Paul in verse 26 says “everyone of you has a psalm”. This use of psalm seems to be a song that is outside of the 150 psalms. The criticism is of those who come with a supposed song from the spirit like those who claim to have tongues and prophecies. Those are both assumed to be new word of prophesy and a new word in tongues. Thus, it ought also to be said that they were bringing new psalms not one of the original 150. This was taking place in Christian worship in Corinth that had been set up by Paul and his companions.
If hymn does not mean psalm then this introduces lots of problems for exclusive psalmists. Christ at after the Lord’s Supper sings a “hymn” not a “psalm”. While we might rightly guess that this hymn is a psalm, we cannot scripturally say he sung a psalm. Scripturally he sang a hymn and that is all we know. The same is true for Paul and his companions in prison in Philippi (Acts 16:25). The word used there is again not “psalm”, but rather “hymn”. One can assume that these songs were from The Psalms, but strictly scripturally speaking one cannot say it is. It is only an assumption. The inerrantly chosen word was “hymn”.
This brings up the point of all the times we see people singing non-psalms in the Bible. We have at least:
Luke 1:46-55 (Mary)
Luke 1:67-79 (Zechariah)
Luke 2:14 (the angels)
Luke 2:28-32 (Simeon)
Revelation 5:9f (hosts of heaven)
Exodus 15 (Moses and Miriam)
Deuteronomy 31-32 (Moses)
Judges 5 (Deborah)
Habbakuk 3 (Habbakuk)
And that list does not count many others that are generally considered to early Christological hymns like Colossians 1:15-20. Nor does it count the Song of Solomon, an entire book of the Bible either. The point is that we have more instances of people singing praises to God without the psalter than we do with the psalter in the Bible itself. Now we know how the Jews worshipped from extra-biblical sources, but again the biblical witness needs to carry some weight here. Non-psalms seem acceptable. Now admittedly Dr. Clark makes it possible to sing these songs as they are considered inspired and can be sung, but that attempt falls flat on the previously mentioned Nature of Words Argument. And it also comes into a problem with exactly where is the command to sing only inspired words.
Which brings me to my last point, the idea that the Bible is or contains an approved hymn books is itself an assumption. The idea that the Psalms is the God ordained hymn book is no where in the Bible itself. The application of the Regulative Principle of Worship to say “the psalms are commanded but there is no other command for hymns” makes an assumption in and of itself. Namely that the Psalms was a hymn book. The Regulative Principle does carry the requirement to have a command to do something. But this test is easily applied and passed when we dispense with the assumption that the Psalter is required because it is there. We see commands like Ephesians and Colossians that state “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” We have the command to “sing unto the Lord a new song” (Isaiah). Add this to the many divinely approved examples of non-psalm singing in worship such as those in Revelation 5, then I am quite confident that the demand of the Regulative Principle of worship is met for hymnody.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I grow weary of these endless attempts to cast off the Active Obedience of Christ. I especially weary of the attempts to say that the Heidelberg Catechism does not teach the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ. Question 60 really ought to speak for itself (emphasis mine).
How are thou righteous before God?
Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.
Listen to Rev. Mark Horne now try to get out of this clear cut statement.
If this taught the imputation of Christ’s active obedience, it would be a fine statement. And, if this were some sort of committee document, or in some other way obscured authorial intent, I wouldn’t have a problem with the words being taken in this sens(sic). . . the author of the catechism lectured on it and approved a commentary from those notes. Every time I find Ursinus explaining himself he refers to Christ’s sufferings as the merit which is imputed to believers
Rev. Horne then goes on to quote something from Ursinus’s commentary on Question 61 (not 60) for his back up. A reading which I think is highly debatable by the way.
But of course the Heidelberg Catechism was a committee document, a committee of two. Ursinus and Casper Olevianus wrote the Heidelberg so can a commentary by one of the men really be the only place to look for intent? And in that commentary is question 61 the best place to look for answers?
Before we jump to the Commentary perhaps we ought to look at the rest of the Heidelberg Catechism itself. Does the phrase “satisfaction, righteousness and holiness” appear anywhere else other than 60? Why yes it does. Question 61 in fact. This is the one where Horne claims Ursinus means by righteousness only the sufferings of Christ. But does the Catechism bear this out? No of course not. In fact Question 62 is rather important.
But why cannot our good works be the whole or part of our righteousness before God?
Because the righteousness which can stand before the judgment seat of God, must be perfect throughout and entirely conformable to the divine law (Gal 3:10; Deut 27:26), but even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.
It seems from Question 62 the righteousness being spoken off is perfect obedience to the law. Christ’s Active Obedience. Thus righteousness is defined for us by the Catechism. This is the righteousness that is imputed to us in 60 and also in 56.
What do you believe concerning the “forgiveness of sins”?
That God for the sake of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, nor the sinful nature with which I have to struggle all my life long, but graciously imputes to me the righteousness of Christ that I may never more come into condemnation.
Here we see it again the righteousness of Christ is imputed to me “for the sake of Christ’s satisfaction.” Horne wants us to think that this is only the passion and death of Christ, his “willing suffering”. But let us remember that the Heidelberg defines the suffering of Christ as something that that was “all the time he lived on this earth” (Q&A 37). So when we read of Ursinus talking about “suffering” we ought not assume he is only speaking of the end of Christ’s life and His work on the cross.
But what about Ursinus’s Commentary? Well, we can weed through the quotes used by Rev. Horne, but let us just cut to where Ursinus defines righteousness in his commentary, at question 60 (pg.325 – emphasis mine).
What is righteousness in general? Righteousness is derived from right, which is the law, and is a conformity with the law, as sin or unrighteousness is the transgression of the law. . . . Righteousness, therefore, in general, as far as it has a respect to creatures, consists in fulfilling those laws which pertain to rational creatures; or, it is a conformity on the part of the rational creatures with those laws which have respect to them. Finally, righteousness is the fulfillment of the law, and a conformity with the law is righteousness itself. This must be observed and held fast to, because our justification can only be effected by fulfilling the law. Evangelical righteousness is the fulfilling of the law, and does not conflict with it in the least. The gospel does not abolish the law, but establishes it. . . . Evangelical righteousness is the fulfilling of the law, performed, not by us, but by another in our stead, and imputed unto us of God by faith.
Ursinus here claims that Christ fulfilling the law is vital to our justification. And the fulfilling of the law then is not just so Jesus might be the perfect sacrifice, the lamb without spot or blemish. Rather that performing of the law is imputed to us of God by faith. Since the quotation above proceeds the quotation used by Rev. Horne one can now see that Horne is not correct in his assessment.
Yes, Ursinus clearly saw a major link between Christ’s death on the cross and his life. But then who ever argued against that? Rev. Horne seems to be tilting at windmills. No one is really arguing for a separation as if somehow the cross is not imputed, but his Active Obedience to the Law is. They are linked. Ursinus saw them as linked. Everyone sees them as linked. You cannot have one without the other. The problem comes when Horne says, “But neither do I see any way that we must say that one supplements the other or that each does a different job in our salvation. The curse
But neither do I see any way that we must say that one supplements the other or that each does a different job in our salvation.” Clearly Ursinus saw a way that they did jobs and supplemented each other. He went so far as to say that without the fulfilling of the law our justification could not be effected. Christ’s righteousness had to be imputed to us. Listen now to the paragraph right above what Rev. Horne quotes (pg. 327):
To justify is to make the subject of it comformable to the law, either in himself, by a righteousness which is called his own, and which is inherent, infused, and legal; or it is to be made righteous in another which is called imputed because it is not inherent in us, but in Christ. This consists also in conformity with the law; for faith does not make void the law, but establishes it. And such we may remark is our righteousness anad justification; for we now speak of that righteousness with which we as sinners are justified before God in this life;
Now re-read Rev. Horne’s last couple of paragraphs in the second linked post. Does that sound like Ursinus? Ursinus is concerned about us being declared righteous and the law being upheld. Rev. Horne is speaking of blood wiping away the penalty and there is “ nothing left to demand of you”. Ursinus clearly saw a role for the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ that Rev. Horne has missed.
And just so we know that we are not just picking on Rev. Horne, others make similar claims about Ursinus. At least he has the sense to try and claim both Ursinus and Olevianus did not believe in Imputation of Active Obedience. But that of course leaves the puzzling question of why then did they write it into the Catechism. Some of claimed that Ursinus later rejected the Active Obedience but held to it at the time of writing the Catechism (rejection is dated around 1566), but all of this information is based on second hand stuff. Usually it is based on the fact that David Pareus (student of Ursinus) and Johannes Piscator (student of Olevianus) rejected it, but that is a logical fallacy waiting to happen. The truth is the plain reading of the Heidelberg Catechism supports Imputation of Active Obedience, as even Rev. Horne admits, and that neither Olevianus nor Ursinus ever rejected any part of the Heidelberg and they taught it to others for the rest of their lives.
Monday, June 07, 2010
I earlier spoke of the history of Hymn Singing in the Reformed Church and the question was raised about the Westminster Tradition, especially the Larger Catechism Questions 109-110, and Shorter Catechism Questions 51-52. These all deal with the second commandment.
Specifically question 109 states with regards to the sins forbidden by the second commandment:
"corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever . . ."
Or Shorter Catechism 51
"The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his word."
This is what is known as the Regulative Principle of Worship. What God does not command is thus forbidden. It is in the Westminster and it is also in the other major confessions. The Heidelberg Catechims has similar wording, although not nearly as detailed as the WLC.
The Genevan Tradition begins with exclusive Psalmody, but it is particularly the Westminster Tradition that codified it. It seems fairly obvious that the Scottish Church held to exclusive Psalmody until at least Isaac Watts in the 18th century. Even then Watts was a scandal for a time. The rest of the Genevan Tradition had abandoned Exclusive Psalmody. The Huguenots were long gone, and the Dutch Church had instituted non-inspired texts like the Apostles’ Creed to music in the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), which shows that it was around already. In fact, several other hymns Dort was trying to keep out, but they opened the door. The churches continued with the hymns for the most part, and soon they were accepted. Leaving only a Westminster Tradition as favoring Exclusive Psalmody.
The argument as I understand it is that hymns are customs “invented and taken up of ourselves” which is forbidden. The hymns are human inventions and are thus forbidden.
In responding to WLC 109, I am going to have to give the Nature of Words argument, which had been slated to be third.
Are the words of the hymns of human origin and invented by man? Yes. The answer has to be yes. But so too is much else that even the Scots hold dear but do not cast out of the worship service. One thing that can easily be pointed to are the instruments. The piano is invented by man. And some in the Westminster tradition forbid them. But a better thing to point to is prayer and preaching. The words of prayers are often man-made, not divinely inspired. Yet the Scottish church has a tradition of free prayer. They do not use the Book of Common Prayer, which was made by men anyway. Just as the Bible has songs in the Psalms, so they have a great many prayers. There is the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer at the temple by Solomon, the prayer of Jesus in the Garden or the prayer of Hannah or Jonah in the belly of the whale. And those are just off the top of my head. Yet, no one argues that prayers must be only the words of the Bible. Why not? What is the difference between words made up by man and prayed and the words made up by man and sung?
Preaching too must fall under the same condemnation of WLC 109 if we read that phrase so strictly. The words of the sermon are not Scripture, but rather “invented and taken up of ourselves”. Yet no one argues that only the sermons of Scripture are to be preached. Most scholars believe Hebrews was a sermon, and the epistles of Paul were read as if they were sermons. You have other sermons like the Sermon on the Mount that could also be read as the sermon. Many of the prophets have sermons recorded for us. Why not then just read those as the sermons? What is different about human words in a sermon and human words sung to a tune in hymns? Is there something ontologically different about words when we sing them that makes them unacceptable? If not then human invented hymns have to be allowed. They cannot be deemed unacceptable based on their uninspired origin. If non-inspired words are allowed into a service anywhere, then they have to be acceptable everywhere including in songs. If one wants to keep non-inspired sermons and prayers, but not hymns then it becomes incumbent on them to prove the difference between words spoken and words sung.
This leaves only one ground for Exclusive Psalmody, the broader argument from WSC 51 about hymns not being commanded. This means that the Bible commands psalms to be sung, but nothing else (which rules out the associated argument that only inspired words are allowed, but more than just psalms). This will led us now to the Biblical argument for Hymn Singing.
Monday, May 31, 2010
I just wanted to take a minute to defend the practice of singing hymns during worship. This will be done in three sections. First, the Historical Argument. Second, the Biblical Argument. Third, the Nature of Words argument (I am sure there is a better title to this argument, I just don’t know it).
I do want to take a minute to speak about the historical argument. It is often argued that all of the Reformed Churches were originally exclusive psalmists and that is how they understood the Bible and the Regulative Principle of Worship. This is simply untrue. It is true that Calvin, the Huguenots of France, the Scots, the Directory of Public Worship and even Elector Frederick III of the Palatinate desired exclusive psalmody. However there are at least two other earlier Reformed strands that are often ignored.
One strand is the Swiss Strand, which is probably extinct today. If you ever wonder why Zwingli is not referenced in this debate it is because Zwingli and the churches of Zurich did not sing at all. That is right: no congregational singing. That was the way of Zurich. Zwingli did not sing. Bullinger did not sing. Not even during the next head of the church, Simon Gaulther, son-in-law of Zwingli, did they sing. Nor did Bern under the leadership of Berthold Haller. Bern did not sing at all. In fact, Calvin himself seemed to favor this tradition. He was unsure if the people should sing, but he came to the conclusion to sing psalms as it was the safest thing just in case singing was not allowed at all.
The other tradition is the German Reformed tradition. This tradition does not spring from Geneva or Calvin, but from Constance and Strassborg. Constance, a German city reformed by Ambrose Blarer and Johannes Zwick, produced a hymn book that did have psalms, but also had uninspired hymns. It seems it was used during worship, especially on feast days. It contained some of Luther’s hymns. It also contained many hymns written by the Zwick and Blarer brothers. It also even had a hymn by Leo Juda, right hand man in Zurich. Since Zwick and Blarer had a hand in other cities like Augsburg one can assume that this hymnbook was used in more places than just Constance. The earliest copy we have is dated 1540, but it is also clearly a revision. We know they were singing hymns by at least 1533 in Constance.
Constance ended up changing the practice in Strassborg as well. The 1537 Strassborg Psalter included many hymns. Mostly by the Blarer’s and Johannes Zwick. Thus, Strassborg was not an exclusive psalmist city. In fact, it switched away from exclusive psalmnody. The Germans continued with their hymn singing even after the Augsburg Interim put an end to Reformed Services in much of Germany. Heidelberg and the Palatinate started out singing only psalms under Frederick III, but under his son Lewis, they sang hymns. This practice remained as they sang hymns during communion services from that point on. The Palatinate was not the only German church to sing hymns during communion services. So to did the church in Bremen.
Better yet, Brandenburg, which went reformed in about 1613 always sang hymns. The churches in the county of Mark also sang hymns. Mark was part of the Synod of Cleve, Julich, and Mark. Since Mark sang hymns it is fairly clear that the Synod was not against hymns. Thus, the tradition of singing hymns in the Reformed Churches in Germany is well grounded. So, it is completely wrong to suggest that the Reformed tradition sang only psalms. Such a comment is to equate Calvin and those who followed him with the entire Reformed tradition. There are at least two other traditions, which actually predate Calvin’s influence, and one of them is the singing of hymns during worship.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
I have tried to keep my angry sports rants off of this blog. However, my never ending fight ESPN must take another step here on this blog.
ESPN always plays up to the big cities. That is why they hate the SEC (not in LA or NY). They push their people on us and forget reality. The latest example is a piece about how great the Lakers are how smart it was to trade away Shaq. That is just out right foolishness. The premise of the article is that six pieces of the Laker puzzle are linked to Shaq's departure. Included in that list is Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol, Adam Morrison, Shannon Brown, Andrew Bynum, and Derrick Fisher.
I am willing to grant that Odom, who came in the trade, and Farmar, who was drafted with a draft pick received in the trade, are linked to Shaq. The rest is a stretch including Fisher, who was already on the team when Shaq was there, left, and was re-signed.
In fact, I think the facts are the exact opposite of what this guy claims. The Shaq trade was a disaster that sunk the Lakers for a couple of years and they are now still not as good as they were. The Lakers missed the playoffs the next year and then were bounced in the first round for two years in a row while Shaq and the Heat won a title. Let us not forget that the Lakers basically back tracked on their blow up of the Laker team. They re-hired Coach Phil Jackson. They re-hired Derrick Fisher. The re-hiring of Fisher seems to indicate that the drafting of Jordan Farmar was a mistake. Farmar is the back up of Fisher, who is a sub-par point guard. Andrew Bynum is decent enough when he is not injured, but is he really better than Shaq? Maybe this year, but what about those other 4 years? Probably not a victory there. Remember Kobe wanted Bynum traded because he realizes that Bynum is not consistently good. Odom has the same problem. A good 6th man, but not a guy who lives up to potential ever. Other than Gasol, they are all bench players and the bench of the Lakers is their weak spot.
Gasol came to the Lakers in a fire sale going on over in Memphis. The key lynch pin of the Gasol trade was the rights to the younger Gasol, drafted by the Lakers. Add in the two first round draft picks. Was Kwame Brown really that important to the trade. If they had kept Shaq, and never gotten Kwame would that trade not have happened? Sure it would have. The Lakers had the younger Gasol's rights and draft picks to trade.
One other thing that needs to be mentioned is that the Lakers are not really on the top now. Two years ago they lost to the Celtics. Got whipped by the Celtics in fact. Last year the Celtics were the best team in the league again and then Garnett got hurt. The Celtics still took eventual Eastern Conference champs to seven games. Now they have Garnett back, and the Celtics are back in the Finals. Assuming the Lakers make it back, they need to defeat the Celtics to prove that they are back on top. I currently think the Lakers are defending champs because of an injury to Garnett. I bet the Lakers are going to get stomped on by the Celtics in the finals.
Either way, claiming the Shaq trade is the basis for this team is a re-write of history. The Lakers did what Kobe wanted, and they had to undo it by re-hiring their point guard and the coach. Kobe on his own failed. Kobe running the show failed. They had to go out and get Pau Gasol, a big man role that was filled by Shaq. It is true that Shaq is now past his prime and is not going to be a cog in a team. But, look, Shaq was on the team with the best record in the league. He was a role player for LeBron. Could he have done that for the Lakers? Probably. In the years after the trade the Heat were the better team. Shaq has since been traded twice. The Lakers had lots of other opportunities to get rid of Shaq without having to miss the playoffs for one year and lose quickly in the next two.
I just can't stand ESPN's constant playing lap dog to teams like the Lakers. How did that silly article get the top billing?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I have to say after some time to reflect that I think LOST is the greatest TV Show of all time (narrowly beating out Cheers). The finale will be talked about and many will complain that it did not live up to the hype, but they will all be wrong. Let me tell you why.
LOST was not about philosophies nor was it about Free Will versus Destiny. No, LOST was about the characters. It was about people. And for the first time in recent memory the characters in the show were real. That is why there was a debate and Free Will versus Destiny. That is why so many philosophies are involved in this show because people act according to their philosophies. It is also why LOST does not tie up a neat ribbon and answer all of the questions.
I have to admit that at first, I was a little disappointed that everything was not answered for me. But, I also know that I liked the ending, and that left me conflicted. However, upon further reflection, I like the fact that the vast majority of questions were not answered. I don’t want some Hollywood guys telling me the answers to life. That was the whole point of the Finale anyway. “No one can tell you why you are here”. And it is a good thing because judging from the Inclusivism in the final chapel scene with icons from all sorts of religious faiths, I would not like the answer these Hollywood guys would try to sell me. They wrapped up each characters’ personal stories and let us all now debate the things that happened. Were the numbers really cursed as Hurley believed? The show does not give the answers because it is not important. Hurley believed they were cursed and it affected the way he lived. That is all that mattered. Was Boone a sacrifice demanded by the island or was it just a death that happened? It doesn’t matter because what was important was that Locke believed it was a sacrifice, and it affected the way he lived.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not arguing for relativism here, nor do I think LOST is. There are right answers to the question of cursed numbers, especially in real life. But the show recognizes that people act on beliefs. What they believe is indeed the most fundamental thing, and it affects all their decisions. This is true in the real world and it is why LOST is a great show.
If you were watching LOST because you thought it was a big mystery that would be put together for you at the end, then you are probably pretty angry right now. Six years is a long time to invest in a mystery that has no real end. But if you were watching because the characters, then you are probably satisfied. They got an ending, and six years is not a problem to invest in the joys and failures of people.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
President Obama received some honorary degree today as Presidents often do. This one from the uber-liberal University of Michigan. While giving the address he made sure to take a shot at all those who speak poorly of the government. Now, make no mistake about it, usually when the government tells you to stop being "anti-government" it means that they want you to take your medicine like a good little serf. However, I want to deal with a broader point. This quote is what I want to focus on.
"But what troubles me is when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad," said Obama, who received an honorary doctor of laws degree. "When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us."
President Obama could not be more wrong. When people talk of the government being inherently bad it is precisely because the government is us. This is the fundamental problem with liberalism. It fails to recognize that people are inherently bad. And when people gather into a state, nothing changes at all. Christianity calls it Total Depravity. This is why we need government. This is why our Founding Fathers made checks and balances: to restrain the evil within us as much as possible. The more spread out the power the less likely we are to be dominated by an evil tyrant. The fact that the state is evil because it is made up of sinful people is why we cannot “put our trust in princes” as the Bible so constantly warns us. They are sinful and they will either fail us or turn on us. Trust cannot be place in man. And it is because man is inherently sinful. Even the redeemed on this side of paradise struggle with the remnants of sin in us. The only one who was without sin is the eternal Godman, Jesus Christ. Only upon Him can we trust. Only in Him can we find salvation. Only to Him can we 100% submit without worry. Because only King Jesus is without sin, and His rule and His kingdom will be one of righteousness and godliness.
President Obama’s failure to grasp this fundamental point of existence is very dangerous. One who puts his trust in man, in the state, in power, or in himself is doomed to fail, and will probably bring about ruin as he tries to bring about "progress". President Obama is right: the government is us. And that fact is why we know that the government is indeed inherently evil.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I want to respond more indepth to Dr. Clark’s book, Recovering the Reformed Confessions. I do want to stress some of the book’s positive attributes, but I still think his section against 6-day creation creates in the book a fatal flaw that ends up undercutting his main point.
There are some really great things in this book. First and foremost is the writing. I think Dr. Clark is a clear and accessible writer. He is easy to read, to understand, and the book has an enjoyable tone and pace. This is not easily done.
Second, the premise that we as reformed churches need to recover the wonderful documents that are our heritage is true. We need to not be afraid of speaking confessionally. He puts his finger on a real problem and is right to address the idea. We are children of a heritage, and we ought not be nervous nor afraid of it.
Third, one can tell from reading this book that having a Church History class from Dr. Clark would be a lot of fun. Anyone who quotes from John Thomson is okay in my book, and Dr. Clark does it twice. His view on Illegitimate Religious Experience and his application of that to the Great Awakening is right on target. The PCA would do particularly well to listen to that point of advice.
Fourth, one has to admire his willingness not only to point out problems, but to suggest solutions. Ways to recover the Reformed Confessions and Heritage in this modern culture. I don’t particularly agree with all of them, but it makes a good book that does more than critique, but suggest solutions.
Fifth, the section on Illegitimate Religious Experience is also well done and applicable to us today. In fact, it might actually be more applicable to the modern evangelical situation than the Religious Knowledge. It was helpful for me.
Yet, I still have this against the book. In his section about Illegitimate Religious Knowledge he puts in 6-Day creation. Leave aside the debate about it for a moment. This commits Dr. Clark to saying that those things that are not included in the Reformed Confessions are things one cannot be certain about. Thus, to be certain about extra-confessional material is illegitimate. Fine. If that is what one wishes to hold it is a defendable position. The problem is that Dr. Clark is not consistent to that point throughout the rest of his book.
Let me give an example. Dr. Clark goes on to argue that our knowledge of God is analogical (staring on page 123). He attempts to argue that this is part of the warp and woof of the confessions embedded within the creator-creature distinction. This point is highly debated most famously in the Clark-Van Til arguments. This indicates (not stated in the book, but one can read between the lines) that Dr. Scott Clark would argue that Dr. Gordon Clark is not confessional at all. Now where is analogical knowledge spelled out in the creeds? How is that not an extra-confessional issue? How is 6-Day creation illegitimate religious certainty and analogical knowledge is okay? Dr. Scott Clark tries to ground analogical knowledge in the confession in WCF 7.1 “distance between God and the creature”, but that is a pretty big stretch. As is the appeal to the phrase “as it were” in the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 27 about the Providence of God. I WANT TO BE CLEAR, I am not against analogical knowledge. IN FACT, I think the biblical discussion of analogical knowledge is one of the best in the entire book. It is clear, cogent, and powerful. One does not need to be aquatinted with the debate at all to see the argument and understand what is going on. I just think it makes Clark inconsistent in this particular book because of his stance on 6-Day Creation.
Dr. Clark also argues for exclusive singing of Inspired Words (not quite exclusive psalmnody). His point here is that the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW) is in the creeds and the RPW requires only the words God inspired. I am going to deal with that more tomorrow, but I have to again ask, how can 6-Day creation be illegitimate to be certain about, but not singing hymns is okay to be certain about? It just does not make sense. The same thing could be said about the second service on Lord’s Day section in this book.
My ultimate point is this: Dr. Clark argues that things outside of the confession cannot be used a boundary markers of Reformed church and then argues for several such boundary markers that are outside the confessions. That is my real problem with the book. When this book goes into a second printing it would be greatly improved in its own internal consistency if it simply removed its discussion about 6-Day creation completely. That way he never forces himself to argue that extra-confessional things are illegitimate to be certain about, and then his suggestions, which are all just as debatable whether or not they are confessional or extra confessional as 6-Day creation, do not conflict with his previous arguments.
Monday, April 05, 2010
You have to pity Brian McLaren. His latest internet push for book sales shows just how little he really understands or how incredibly dishonest he is.
He starts out wondering why people don’t like him, specifically evangelicals. He then goes on to say that evangelicals are trained to punish people who are different. Ignoring the obvious insult for a second, I want to continue with what McLaren is actually arguing for a minute. McLaren claims that his conscious is tormented by a few things that the “religious authorities” teach, and he has the courage to question it. That is why he is hated. He gives a few examples, but if you want them all you need to buy his new book. Clearly one example is that God sends unbelievers to hell. The idea that God sends people to hell torments McLaren and he is question that. Apparently also Global warming, evolution, homosexuality, and women not being allowed as ministers also keeps McLaren questioning those means spirited religious leaders. McLaren makes sure that we know he is a good guy. "I love God, Jesus, the Bible, prayer, worship, serving others -- the whole package." This is where McLaren is either being totally dishonest or just does not get what he is actually saying.
McLaren rejects the idea of hell. Yet, passages from the Bible abound about hell. The “lake of fire” in Revelation for example. Jesus himself tells a parable about Lazarus and the rich man, who is in hell. McLaren thinks homosexuality is okay, but the Bible states clearly that it is unnatural, sinful, and originally a death penalty crime in God’s Judicial Law. McLaren likes evolution despite passages like Romans 5:12f that specifically state that death did not enter the world until Adam sinned. That sort of rules out evolution. And I am not even going to go into Genesis 1. So McLaren has only two options.
One, he blames religious leaders for making all of this stuff up despite it all being easily located in the Bible. This means the Bible is not the infallible rule for life, it is his tormented conscious. That puts McLaren in the role of God deciding what is and is not true Christianity.
Two, he is lying when he says that he loves the Bible (at the very least). McLaren’s real problem is not with religious leaders. It is with God’s own Holy Word. He does not like hell. That means he has to not like all of the talk of Jesus about separating the sheep from the goats (Matt 25), and the weeping and nashing of teeth (Matt 22). McLaren likes homosexuality or finds it okay in God’s sight. That means he has to reject and hate Romans 1, Levitcus 19, and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and Ham in Genesis. He can’t have it both ways. He cannot accept the doctrines condemned in the Bible and still accept the Bible.
Either option he takes, it is not the religious leaders that torment McLaren, it is Jesus of the Bible that torments McLaren.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
According to National Public Radio pro-life people like me are now officially to be called Anti-Abortion Rights while pro-choice people like Bart Stupak and Ben Nelson and President Obama will be called Pro-Abortion Rights. This apparently is a move to more neutral language than the inflamatory Pro-Life label that the people use to label themselves.
Remember this is a government funded outfit. Just in case you wonder what the government thinks of you Pro-Lifers and of course what they think of unborn children.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
R. Scott Clark’s book Recovering the Reformed Confessions is a good book, but I do have to take issue with something he said in his second chapter: the chapter about the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty. Basically, Clark’s argument is that where the Confessions are silent it is a point of liberty and those who wish to add (specifically in this case) 6/24 creation as a test of religious orthodoxy are illegitimate. The chapter briefly covers to other things that are extra confessional or anti-confessional: Theonomy and basically the Federal Vision/Shepherdism. The largest section is directed at 6/24 hour day creation proponents. It seems clear to me that the RCUS in particular is in view and indeed we are specifically cited as the only NAPARC denomination to not grant liberty on this point and we appear in a footnote. I will be addressing why Clark is wrong on this point.
Full disclosure moment. Dr. Clark was formerly in the RCUS and left on mostly amicable terms. Dr. Clark now teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary California which is no longer supported by the RCUS mostly for their non-6/24 hour stance on creation.
Points of disagreement
1. Clark starts by stating that proponents of the 6/24 hour day view of creation have always been unable to show a theological reason for holding to this view. He also claims that this stance has "little to do with the Reformed Confessions" (pg. 48). I could not disagree more. This has a lot to do with the Reformed Confessions and theological reasons abound. Creation in 6 days with rest on the 7th day is the foundation of the 4th Commandment. The 4th Commandment is covered in Confessions. What on earth does the Heidelberg mean in Question 92 when it is reciting the law including the basis that "in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth." Surely then the meaning of the word "day" has confessional implications, and is not restricted to Genesis 1 as an extra-confessional debate. What about Question 103 where the catechism states in its explication of the 4th commandment "especially on the day of rest, diligently attend church . . ." Again the troubling word "day" appears. The Westminister also states "within the space of six days". Surely then it is considered a confessional matter. Yet, Clark waves this off as a simple rejection of Augustine’s instantaneous creation, not a pronouncement upon the days. Yet there is more confessional situations at stake here. The articles of the nature of Scripture are at stake. Article 7 of the Belgic Confession requires us to "reject with all our hearts whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule [Scripture]". Is that arguably what is going on with the statement about creation? Article 7 also speaks of not respecting the writings of men above Scripture no matter how holy they are, which presumably ought to include the writing of scientists as well as theologians. And it states we ought to believe all that it is in the Scripture. What about the Westminster Confession of Faith 1.7 that states Scripture is clear and even the unlearned can understand it. Is that true of the GapTheory or Framework? Or is the clear teaching of Scripture 6/24 hour days. And what of WCF 1.9 that says Scripture ought to interpret Scripture and the meaning is one. Can the meaning be one but the message from the ministers be four fold as the PCA would have it on creation? Or WCF 1.10 that says Scripture is the supreme judge of all things. Does that not put it over science? Should I not believe the words of God even if science is against me?
2. Clark dismisses the argument of David Hall and others that point to WCF 4.1 and the "in the space of six days" statement as addressing a different question. That was to keep out Instantaneous Creation and thus has no bearing upon Day-Age or Framework theories of the day. Yet, does not this argument work against Clark as well? The divines simply did not say "God did not create instantly." Rather they stated it was six days. A confessional marker. Also, if what question they were answering is important then is the Confession not applicable to any questions that come after them? Evolution is a challenge to the gospel that is well after the confessions. Does it mean we are all at liberty? Or does it meant that it was not specifically rejected in the Confessions because those views are not yet invented? It seems to me this argument could cut either way, Clark just makes it cut his way and ignores the rest.
3. Clark has a long excursus on heliocentric versus geocentric universe discussions in the past. He is clearly attempting to draw a parallel between the two. Clark wants to argue that using Scriptrue as a text book for science is bad theology and science. First, no one is saying Scripture is a science book. Second, all people are saying is that where the Bible does speak it must be obeyed. Comparing Genesis 1’s repetition of a 6/24 hour formula for creation to the geocentric world debates is a long stretch. It is more an attempt to smear than a real argument.
4. Clark claims these men came to their views "exegetically" and thus it is an extraconfessional and exegetical disagreement (pg.50). If the requirement for things to be considered confessional is that they are exegetically based then we ought to apologize for the Canons of Dort as the Arminians were exegetical. They were just really really bad exegetes of Scripture. And thus they were condemned. Framework and Day Age and Gap Theory are also really really bad exegetical examples. And they are also clearly examples of letting science control the exegesis, which does run into some confessional problems as noted above in point 1.
5. Clark states this is not a debate between "two religions . . . not even between two different hermeneutical principles, but rather a debate over the application of those principles and specific exegetical applications" (pg.61). Clark here makes a good point that it is not two different religions. But does the RCUS say that if you believe in Theistic Evolution or Old Earth that you are not Reformed? No. Is this chapter supposed to be about who is Reformed and who is not? No. The chapter was about Illegitimate Religious Certainity. The question then is can we be certain about 6/24 hour day creation. And to that the RCUS has answered yes. Clark has changed the question a little to make the RCUS seem to be saying something we are not. We are not disagreeing with the theology, piety, and practice of prior men in history who may have held to an Old Earth. We are simply saying that one can understand God’s word and what it teaches in Genesis 1. Science does not have the ability to change the words. I do want to point out that I disagree with Clark that it is not about differing hermenuetical principles. How one can use a Grammatical-Historical approach and come away with anything other than 6/24 hour days is beyond me. I do believe then it is about different hermeutical approaches.
Now I believe what is really motivating Dr. Clark here to try and smack down the RCUS and any other Creationists who stand with us is about protecting men like B.B. Warfield, Machen, and A.A. Hodge as Reformed and true. They would fail this test about 6/24 hour day creation. And fairly clearly Clark thinks any marker that allows in Seventh Day Adventists and keeps out Warfield is Illegitimate (pg.49). Of course no one is trying to let Adventists in as if the Confessions do not exist. It is for Warfield and Princeton that Clark strives. That is why Clark devotes 14 pages to the extra-confessional liberty he believes ought to exist and only 4 to the anti-confessional position of Theonomy and 4 to the Covenant Moralism which he also thinks contradicts the Confessions. I will address this issue in a separate post.
Friday, March 05, 2010
On Faith is at it again. They are continuing to pretend to be a real place of discussion about faith, but their consistent lack of actual Christian theology is disturbing. This does not mean they are not getting big name writers. In their recent homosexuality in the military discussion they managed to let Brian McLauren advertise for his latest book. McLauren does not divulge how he reconciles Homosexuality and the Bible, but it is clear that the power of people’s testimonies has made him rethink the idea that being gay is a sin. Thus, we know how McLauren reconciles the Bible and homosexuality: he throws out the Bible. In the actual debate section about gays in the military, only Chuck Colson defends “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and his was a practical not a theological position.
Oh but it gets worse. Not only are they pushing the leftist agenda about the military, they are actually against the idea of Evangelism overseas. The Panel has more against the idea of proselytizing and evangelism than it does for it. The idea that there is truth and people ought to adhere to it is anathema to these guys, unless of course that truth is the greatness of homosexuality or global warming or some other lefty idea.
It gets even worse. Eboo Patel writes an article about how Van Jones (the former Green Czar and avowed Communist) is a “faith hero”. The thrust of the article is Van Jones did not get angry at people like Glenn Beck who exposed his political views until the White House fired him. And then he gave a speech when he was receiving all of these awards apparently for his massive communism where he actually called for living as one country with people like Glenn Beck. There are lots of problems with this article such as mainly focusing on Van Jones’s public responses that come after his elevation back to power. It is a lot easier to be nice in public and after you have been honored for your crazy beliefs. The second big problem is that Eboo ignores the problem of being a Communist and a Christian or a person of any faith at all. Communism views religion as the opiate of the people and an evil. How are these two positions reconciled? Eboo does not care. Van Jones is a faith hero while pushing things that are based on principles fundamentally opposed to faith. That is disturbing for anyone other than Eboo. I won’t even get into the comments.
Eboo Patel is probably not a Christian considering his name and obvious ethnic descent, but I could be wrong. What is clear is that this On Faith is not really an attempt to generate a discussion about Faith in life and in politics, but to make it look like Left Leaning anti-religious Communists are indeed people of faith. Where are the articles that speak of the evil of abortion? Where are the articles that recite the anti-Christian nature of communism? They do not exist. Such a distortion is on purpose.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I just finished reading The Team that Changed Baseball by Bruce Markusen. It is about the 1971 Pirates and argues that they finished the job of integration started by Jackie Robinson. The book is a nice review of the World Championship run, and taught me quite a few things that I did not know.
However, the book suffers a little from lack of constant focus on his theme. The beginning of the book is great as it shows the unity of the team and its racial mix of blacks, latinos, and whites. It shows how Bill Mazaroski helped teach defense to Dave Cash, which actually costs Maz his job at second base. But as the description of the season wears on Markusen loses sight of trying to prove that the 71 Pirates changed baseball. He does a nice job of discussing the season, and does occassionally mention the outbursts of Clemente or Doc Ellis, and how everyone got along anyway, but if you are reading the book to find out how this team changed baseball you are over two thirds of the way through before Markusen really proves his case. It is in the chapter on September where you see that on September 1, 1971 the Pirates fielded the first all minority line-up in MLB history. All 9 positions were a minority. Here is where the heart of his thesis lies and he discusses how each player reacted and even tries to figure you if the coach, Danny Murtaugh, did it on purpose or not, and whether or not that improves the theory of the book. He talks of the quota system in baseball, and the sterotyping of Latinos as good defensive players and blacks as big hitters being shattered by the Pirates. It is an interesting case and one that probably ought to be discussed more when integration is discussed in baseball.
The book is still good if you are reading to learn more about the Pirates run to the Pennant and World title. One of my favorite little stories in the book is about catcher Manny Sanguillen and pitcher of crucial Game 5 Nellie Briles. Game 5 was the swing game as the series was tied 2-2. Briles was a surprise starter, and had pitched 6 shut out innings when he had a disagreement with Sanguillen. Sanguillen wanted to throw mostly sliders and change ups in the inning to keep Baltimore off balance. Briles wanted to throw fast balls and shorten the game since the Pirates had a 4 run lead. Sanguillen took offense, since Sanguillen called the game to that point and thought they were doing well. He went back to home plate and refused to put down any signs. The two met on the mound again and Sanguillen said, “I no need signs to catch your junk.” And continued to refuse to put down signs. They played the whole inning without the catcher knowing what was coming. The shut out was intact and Sanguillen was able to catch all of Briles’s “junk”. What a remarkable athlete Sanguillen really was.
I recommend the book, but read it for the drama of the 1971 year and series. I think the argument could be made that the 71 Pirates changed baseball, but this book only makes that argument a couple of times and if you are looking for a book to make that argument then this is not the book for you.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
I am reading through my Christianity Tody which is surprisingly interesting this month. They had a brief two page article featuring three opinions on the topic of Lent – Why Bother?. I was really disappointed that all three were in favor of Lent. It sort of defeats the purpose of having a viewpoints article if the views are all the same. I was more surprised because one of the view points was from Michael Horton. He favored an "evangelical" celebration of Lent.
Now, I have made my thoughts known in the past about Lent, and why I don’t like it. I also have some dear friends who do celebrate it, and I don’t want to unnecessarily anger anyone. However, the lack of an “anti-Lent” position should be rectified. So I will speak against again here.
Horton admits that the Reformers railed against the connection between the fasting and penance of Lent with works of merit that expiate our sins. Such things are rightly condemned and ought to be by all Protestants. He also quotes the Puritans who taught Lent passed on superstitions, constrained the conscience, and degraded the Lord’s Day. All valid concerns, which are not really addressed by Horton. Horton goes on to suggest an evangelical keeping of the 40 Days of Lent. He does not mention whether or not this includes fasting, but one would assume it does. He makes a big deal of the number 40 in the Bible, which while maybe true does not need to be tied to Lent, which is not mentioned in the Bible. Horton believes Lent is a wonderful time for instruction and following the Life of Christ to prepare for Easter.
While I respect Horton a great deal, I think he is dangerously wrong here. Lent will tend to teach people a meritorious expiation of sin on our part as we suffer along with Christ on the road to Easter. It must be specifically taught against each and every Lent, and probably multiple times during Lent. I would bet the majority of people believe their suffering during Lent is meritorious in some manner or another. It is the default position. They practiced Lent in the Methodist church where I grew up and it was the default position there. It either helps us share in the suffering and thus share in paying for our own sins, or it means we are more holy now than when we began the fast. Both are dangerous positions. If Horton does not think that this is the default position for Protestants practicing Lent he should just look over a few columns to read the viewpoint of Baptist pastor and Professor Steven Harmon. Harmon states that the "dominant paradigm for Christian discipleship this side of heaven is "sharing in his sufferings" (Phil. 3:10.)" Harmon makes giving up of meat or something like that into sharing in the sufferings of Christ, which I think is a bit of a stretch in the first place, but he also says it is the main part of discipleship, which is also wrong in my opinion. Clearly, Lent is a way to share in the sufferings of Christ for Rev. Harmon, a Protestant.
The Reformation began in earnest in Switzerland by breaking this very idea. The rejection of Lent was the first major step taken by Zwingli toward total reformation. The Affair of Sausages was right and good. Now, I have no doubt that Horton does not want people to think that they are actually participating in Christ’s suffering, and really just thinks it is a teachable time, a time to prepare for Easter (something I am not sure is necessary either). But the tool of Lent is so bound up in bad theology that one wonders exactly how beneficial it would be to use it.
Monday, February 01, 2010
It really is frustrating to see the media lie as much as it does. And in January every year the media blitzes us with pro-abortion messages. Sadly it is not just is shows like Private Practice, but in the news as well. The March for Life is a good example. I did not go to the one is Washington, but I did go to the one in Lincoln, NE. It was 15 degrees and it had been a bad year for the Pro-Life group in NE. Ben Nelson turned his back on the movement despite having been endorsed by Pro-Life NE (which did generate a change the leaders of Pro Life NE signs) and the regents of the University of Lincoln decided to start murdering babies for their stem cells in the name of science . . . or federal funds it was hard to tell. But thousands of people showed up. I don’t attend many political rallies. I can count the number I have attended on one hand and still have enough fingers left to grip a baseball. And one of those rallies was at the Beacon in Spartanburg, SC, so it is hard to tell if I went to see Ambassador Keyes or the Bacon O Plenty. But, I have a few observations to make.
1. The make up of the Pro Life march was young. There were lots of youth there from youth groups, and not with their parents. The vast majority of the people in attendance were born after Roe v Wade passed. In fact of the main speakers only two were born before Roe v Wade. The Nebraska Speaker of the House and Attorney General were both born after Roe and were good speakers. A few of the other legislators probably were too, or at least they were infants when it passed. The Governor, one Senator, and probably the Regent of University were all born pre-Roe. In the crowd the age group that was missing was the women who were of solid voting age during Roe. Those who were thirty something when Roe passed were almost non-existent at the walk. Any reports to the contrary are just false.
2. There were 8 Pro-Abortion protestors. I think when they biked passed me there may have been 9, but when they lined up at the end of our march I only counted 8. They collectively had at least 25 signs. They must have been up all night making those things. And all in all their signs were mean and disturbing. The nicest one they had was “Sex Ed Saves Lives” and they had several that suggested some bad things about women and coat hangers and one that was a paragraph long insult on my intelligence. The Pro-Lifers did not have any negative signs about pro abortionists. In fact, the meanest signs were about the Pro Life Leadership and their endorsements. There was one that said “Bye Bye Ben”. I guess that counts as negative.
3. Ben Nelson did not even send a letter. He is not running for re-election or he would try to repair that bridge. I expect him to throw Pro-Lifers under the bus this year.
4. The thing that disturbed me the most is that the number of Roman Catholics to Protestants is overwhelming. I think every Catholic Church must have been there. They prayed as they walk for the most part. The Newman Club from the University was there, and the march waited for St. Mary’s Catholic Church to finish its Mass before they started. When it let out it added at least several hundred people to the walk. I did not see one sign for a non-Romanist church. Including my own to admit my own fault although I know I was not the only one from my church there. One has to wonder where the Protestants were. Why is the Pro-Life movement so dominated by Romanists? I think it is a condemnation on how many mainline Protestant churches have folded on this argument. They caved early on and now a whole generation of people has grown up and left the mainline church embracing again the biblical position on life.
In the end, it was a good thing. I probably will go back next year. And maybe next year I will make a church sign to carry.
Monday, January 18, 2010
One of the things that the world does not understand is repentance. To repent is to turn away from something and turn to its opposite. In Christian terms it means turning away from your sin and turning to the everlasting arms of Jesus Christ for forgiveness. Now repentance consists of admitting your sin, and then turning to the one who forgives us of our sin and by his power, the power of the Holy Spirit, avoiding such sin in the future.
Our culture does not understand this and it is getting worse. Apologies now are a joke and show us that people do not really understand what apologies are about. Repentance is what is needed not the so-called apologies we so often hear today. Let us just look at a few of the recent ones.
“I wish I had never touched steroids,” McGwire said. “It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”
Here we see McGwire apologize for playing in the steroid era, not for actually being apart of it. Not for causing the steroid era. Who is to blame in this apology? Not Mark. No, the problem lies with the era in which he played. I can’t reprint the whole thing, but it got worse as he denied actually getting any real benefit from the steroids, which makes one wonder why he is apologizing for them at all.
Adam Lambert, an American Idol loser, who kissed his gay keyboard player on national TV apologized by saying “Maybe that wasn’t the best first impression to make again… or the first second impression.” He also said that it was not obscene. Any apology that includes the word “maybe” is not a real apology, but rather an attempt to deflect the negative consequences for one’s bad behavior.
Tiger Woods put out an apology where he admitted he did not live up to his own principles, and that he was not perfect and had made transgressions. That was actually a rather good apology if he had left it right there. His apology is five paragraphs, but three (the longest three) paragraphs are about the transgressions, not himself, but of the press trying to get the story. Then his last paragraph returns to his own failure and he makes another mistake. “For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology.” Not only is it bad to spend most of your apology talking about the evil press, but it is also wrong to apologize only to your “supporters”. If I am not a golf fan or a Tiger fans, was I not offended? Do I get an apology too?
Of course politicians are my favorite. Take a look at Senator Dick Durbin apologizing for calling Guantanamo Bay a “gulag” and Nazi comparisons. In this apology Senator Durbin apologizes for only the negative effects or insinuations from his comments, and never actually the comments themselves. He apologized for any negative light his words might have cast and some believed they were across a line, and to them he apologized. He apologized for pain and grief some took from his words. The words are the bad guys, not Dick Durbin. And for those who had the belief that they were wrong, you guys get an apology. That is not an acknowledgement that what he said was wrong. It is like someone saying, “I am sorry you got upset when I hit you.” Not a real apology. Of course in D.C. this apology was considered honorable.
The Bible of course gives us plenty of examples of real repentance. Psalm 51 is one of the great examples of that. First, we see that David turns to God. Asking God to wash him and forgive him. It is to God we must turn for help and it is against Him that we have sinned. All of the above apologies fail to acknowledge the Lord. David admits his sin in verse 3. He does not duck it, he does not qualify it. He is not apologizing that he got Bathsheba pregnant, but for the sin itself, not just the bad consequences that came from it. Verse 4 is an acknowledgement that God is the one sinned against. No longer do our apologies in this world admit that God is the author of the standard, and it is also to Him we owe an apology. David goes on to fully admit his iniquity and beg for purification and the help of the Lord. This is the admitting of sin and the turning to God for help. David knows that on his own he is nothing, he needs the clean heart from God to avoid such sins in the future. Notice also verse 13. Then after forgiveness David will go forth and teach others about God and how not to sin (by relying on Him). This is not something one sees in apologies much any more. Now they want to apologize and be left alone. They did their apologizing, now they want the subject dropped. Yet, David wants to go and teach others how to avoid sin and teach them the ways of God.
Our culture has rejected Christ as it standard, so it is not surprising to see that apologies today are man-centered and not directed at all to God. But, now the culture is losing the idea of standards altogether. Apologies are no longer really apologies for behavior, but apologies that others did not like what happened. That is not the same thing. Do not make the mistake of thinking that these sort of pseudo-apologies are only for the rich and famous. Oh no, they are making their way down to our youth. Soon, the idea of repentance will altogether be lost. Soon Christians will not only have to teach people to be sorry for their sins, but how to be sorry for their sins. Pray God sends a spirit of repentance upon us all, so that we might rightly confess our sin and our dependence upon Jesus Christ himself.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I have finished reading Jean Henri Merle D’Aubigne’s biography of Ulrich Zwingli For God and His People. It is excellent and I highly recommend this book. D’Aubigne is a fantastic historian, and he makes sure we get a thorough look at the reformer of Zurich, Ulrich Zwingli. It is loaded with quotes from the time, although not always cited. The portrait of Zwingli is a man who stood for the Bible and salvation in Christ above all things. Much more so than Luther, Zwingli wanted a return to the Bible. His reforming days are shown and his struggles to change not only Zurich, but also all of Switzerland. We are introduced to many of his reforming friends, so it is also a good book to get glimpse of other reformers too. The book does not fall into mindless praise. It does openly criticize when it feels compelled to do so, although the other at one point explains his reluctance to engage the facts too much in a biography. I personally thought D’Aubigne went a bit too far in his rather harsh treatment of Zwingli’s end when Zwingli argued for war. Not this his assessment of Zwingli making a mistake and even sinning was wrong, but I felt he may have brought it up a few too many times. The information he obtained about the Marburg Colloquy was very interesting. I had not seen the Colloquy discussed in such detail before. I did not know that they had actively kept Zwingli and Luther apart on the first day before the formal Colloquy began. The fear of the two men’s tempers was enough to make sure they did not cross each other too early.
One other slight criticism I had was that the book did not always keep the chronological order. The Marburg Colloquy takes a whole chapter, as it should, but the next chapter actually starts prior to the Colloquy. One has to make sure he reads the dates and keeps the dates straight or one will get a few of the events out of sequence. It does not happen often, but it did a couple of times and I thought it worth noting.
Still, I do recommend this book, which is not very long making it enjoyable and easily readable. It is impossible to read this book and come away with the view that Zwingli is an unimportant figure of the Reformation. Rather this book restores Zwingli to his rightful place as the Father of the Reformed Reformation.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Hall of Fame votes are in and only Andre Dawson made it in. Bert Blylevin is ripped off again. But he is within 10 votes.
Jayson Stark cast his vote for his Hall of So-So Players, and posted it on-line at ESPN. He voted for 10 guys. All 10 that he was allowed to vote for. That is crazy. I am not sure what Jayson was thinking.
It appears that Stark thinks you just have to be better than the others at your position during your time to make the Hall of Fame (the other guys at ESPN all seem to have the same attitude). Clearly that is his main criteria, which confuses the Hall of Fame with the All Star game. And not surprisingly All Star Games and Silver Slugger awards become the standard Stark uses to put people in the Hall. Alomar is a maybe in my mind, but Larkin should be out. Stark’s big argument for Larkin is Silver Slugger awards. What? So what that only A-Rod has more Silver Slugger awards. They didn’t give out Silver Slugger awards during the days of players like Honus Wagner, who surely would have more. That is a false way to make it look like Larkin compares favorably to those guys in history. McGriff is also a no. Stark admits he misses the numbers that most consider as numbers that put you in the Hall, and fails to mention how long McGriff played to try and get those numbers. The numbers are inflated because of expansion and because of his extra time where people did everything they could to get him those extra 7 home runs to hit 500. But he didn’t, and it does matter that he didn’t. When you think back on the 90’s do you think of McGriff as a dominate first baseman? No. Edgar Martinez is a DH. Plain and simple that means he is out. He gets zero benefit for the field. And as a DH who did not have to go into the field, his hitting numbers should be higher than other HOF candidates. They are not. Thus, he is out. Dale Murphy is on his list again the only reason is that Dale Murphy was a power hitter during his time. Murphy is shy of 400 homeruns and his other numbers are good, but not great. Stark’s defense. “It is the numbers in their time that we are supposed to be looking at.” That is not true. You are supposed to decide if that person is an all time great or not. Dale Murphy was one of the most fearted right fielders of his time. But not of all time. Jack Morris too was good, but not good enough. A career ERA of almost 4 is too high. The only one on his list that belongs is Bert Blyleven and perhaps Andre Dawson. I would like some more time to think about Tim Raines and Roberto Alomar.
Let us just look at one major example of how Stark’s view of best in his own time backfires (other than it requires people to get in the Hall from every position for every generation) and is not good. We will use his favorite: Barry Larkin.
Let us look at Larkin compared to Ernie Banks. Both played 19 seasons, but Banks played almost 400 more games than Larkin. Which brings up a legitimate concern about Larkin, he was constantly hurt. Larkin has a higher AVG than Banks and a higher OBP, but a lower OPS. How can that be? Well, as much as Stark wants us to think that Larkin’s power and Silver Slugger awards changed the position, he did not garner nearly as many bases as Banks. Thus, why not say that Banks changed the position? His 500 HRs are why he is in the Hall. Larkin for all his slugger awards only hit 198.
But Stark wants us to examine Larkin only in regards to his own age. So let us do just that. Without names of course.
Player 1 = 1963 hits, 195 homeruns, 1123 runs, 860 RBIs, .265 AVG, .330 OBP, .759 OPS
Player 2 = 2340 hits, 198 homeruns, 1329 runs, 960 RBIs, .295 AVG, .371 OBP, .815 OPS
Player 3 = 2365 hits, 185 homeruns, 1231 runs, 1003 RBIs, .285 AVG, .352 OBP, .767 OPS
Player 4 = 2586 hits, 173 homeruns, 1285 runs, 1194 RBIs, .298 AVG, .365 OBP, .782 OPS
Which one is the sure fire Hall of Famer that Stark wants in? Can we find Larkin? Does he stand out from this group of contemporaries? Player 1 is Jay Bell who played fewer games and seasons than Larkin. Player 2 is Larkin himself. Player 3 is Alan Trammell and Player 4 is Julio Franco. Larkin does not really stand above any of them. Not a one of these players deserves the HOF. They were all good and did good work. They were all above average, but they are not HOFers. Add to that the fact that Trammell, Bell, and Franco all led the league in a category at least once in their careers even if that category was sacrifice hits. Larkin never led in any category ever. Not even sacrifices. Larkin fails even by Starks standards. Hall of Fame Players are supposed to be great, not just a little better than the other guys during his life span.
Bert is great. 60 shutouts is amazing. 6th all time in strikeouts is clearly Hall material. Add low ERA and two World titles, and what more do you need?
I know the bowl season is not over. Tonight there is still show down between the MAC and the Sun Belt conference and the so-called title game between the SEC and the Big 12 where each conference will be battling to stay above .500 in the bowl season, but it is enough to talk about the sesson anyway.
If you look at this year’s bowl results, one thing should jump out at you. The smaller conferences are just as good as the so called BCS conferences. The Mountain West Conference went 4-1 in the bowl season. Their only loss was TCU to Boise State. Wyoming, Air Force, BYU, and Utah all won their games. Boise State by the way beat the Pac 10 champion during the regular season and the Mountain West Champion in the Bowl Game. What more do they need to prove before they are considered for the National Title?
The real problem with the BCS is that it claims to give us a national champion. That is why there is only two solutions to this problem. One is go back to the bowls the way they used to be, or go to a tournament where only conference champions get in. Once you allow "at-large" bids in then it is no longer a true national championship tournament, but a subjective way to make sure large schools win.
Did you know that only two teams have gone undefeated twice including a BCS bowl game win during the BCS era? Can you name them? No, not USC. They only did it once. They did it the year they won the one and only BCS title, and there were two other undefeated teams with BCS bowl victories that year. No, it is not Florida. They did it once, but the other national title year they had one loss to Ole Miss during the regular season. The two teams are Utah and now Boise State. That is right. The two most consistent programs in the country are Utah and Boise State. Their seasons ended with wins in BCS bowl games including Utah beating the stuffing out of Alabama last year. These teams deserve a shot to play for the national title.
We have to get rid of the BCS in the long run. It is a system based on two subjective polls, which should be your first warning sign. Then they add in the computers, which are supposedly not subjective. But if you have ever looked at the computer rankings they are awful. They ruined the BCS this year. The final computer ranking had Ohio State behind Iowa despite the fact that Ohio State beat Iowa head to head. It had TCU very far down so much so that it cost TCU the third spot in the ranking. Yes, if Texas had lost to Nebraska it would not have helped TCU play for the national title. The computers by the way also did not have Nebraska ranked in the top 25 either before or after their close game with Texas. The computer has to go.
I vote put it back like it was. Let the AP vote a champ and the coaches vote a champ and leave it be.