This is my personal blog. The main topic shall be theology, but since theology informs every area of life, one can expect a wide range of topics. I hope that all who visit find something they like. I welcome comment and discussion.
Since I did a post on the PCA a while back, I ought to just follow up briefly. If you are interested in what happened take a look at the Aquila Report. They have nice round up. No real bias shown. Very news like.
However, the GA did not bring back hopes of life for the PCA. They failed to do anything about Meyers or Leithart. The two men now stand clear and free of charges. Not only that but the PCA allowed paedocommunion exceptions in what is probably the start of something new. They had to recommit a report because it said Jehovah and Allah can be the same (although in an admittedly vague and maybe you can read it another way manner). They also struggled with a report on child abuse in the church. Difficult to understand why the removal of some mandatory reporting language was done in the first place.
But perhaps a better exercise to see the state of the PCA is to follow the PCAGA hashtag on Twitter. Scroll past the good byes and had a good times down to the days where the debate was taking place. A lot of vitriol and anger from both sides. There was one in there about Dr. Pipa's mustache being alive and the reason he was so confused right above one thanking Pipa for pointing out confusing language. And the weird thing is that it was probably not as bad as last year on Twitter. The PCA is a denomination divided.
I wait to see if the conservatives will do anything, but I am betting they will do nothing.
I pray for the PCA, and I have a lot of friends in it. But it is hard for me to say the GA was anything other than a disaster for conservative historic Reformed theology.
Perhaps I should review a movie positively since I just usually write reviews for movies I hate as I did with Les Mis. However, this will let everyone know that I am a very low class kind of guy.
I really enjoyed the Dark Knight Rises, and in fact the entire Dark Knight Trilogy was great. Dark Knight Rises stress the freeing and important nature of truth. "Maybe we should let the truth have its day." Alfred states at one point. The lies ultimately proved to be the undoing of the city. Lies are shown to have a short term gain, long term loss. This of course ties into the way the second movie ended where Batman was taking the blame for someone else's crime. The point was to give Gotham hope. But hope cannot continue built upon a lie. A lie is a foundation that hope cannot grow upon. Seldom do you see movies today take the theme of honesty seriously (outside of the romantic comedy where the lie alway causes problems).
In fact, looking back over the entire Trilogy each character is defined by his view of truth and morality in general.
Commissioner Gordon has a pragmatist view. Truth is less important than outcome. He fakes his death and lies to his family in the second movie. He lies about Harvey Dent in order to clean up Gotham. He bends the rules to get things done. In the second movie he is constantly telling Harvey Dent that he works with what he has, even if what he has is a group of corrupted old policemen. He does not turn on them when they take bribes (in the first movie). His view breaks down in this final movie.
Harvey Dent's view changes. Originally sticking to the truth and rules, but goes to a view of determinism and fate when his rule keeping literally blows up in his face. Interestingly one of his big complaints is that he had to lie to the woman he loved as she died. He is complaining about truth all the way until his death.
Catwoman is looking to hide from the truth. She has a past she regrets and wants to get away from or out from under. She does not know how to do this (no idea of forgiveness and repentance), so she looks for a computer program that will erase her past from the computers of the world. Then the truth will not matter anymore (or at least that appears to be her hope).
Joker of course had no place for truth. Lied regularly. His lies lead to people making decisions based on faulty basis, and the trouble that creates is what makes the second movie so fun.
I could go on, but overall the Batman trilogy is very good and very fun. And best of all . . . no one breaks into 3rd rate singing.
The Standing Judicial Commission of the PCA has handed down its decision in the case against the Pacific Northwest Presbytery and their decision to clear Dr. Peter Leithart of all charges. The SJC of the PCA has agreed that Leithart is confessional and orthodox. The PCA is now the only church in the NAPRC to not condemn Federal Vision, or at least to judicially clear its biggest proponent.
Add to that the slow removal of conservative influence on important PCA committees.
Add to that yet another group seeking to direct and lead the PCA in an obvious non-confessional direction.
And I am not even going to bring up intinction or Biologos or the denominations inability to make a stand on Genesis 1 or 2. I could go on.
The main point here is that it is time to leave. The conservatives probably won't, but they should. The time is now. Join the OPC. You could easily double the size of that denomination, and could help the OPC avoid the same mistakes the PCA made.
You would think a denomination full of Southerners would be quick to leave a union they had no control over, but they are not quick to leave, and that is okay. The fight was fought. But it has been lost now. The Study Committee Report was always a distraction. It was the conservative view and it passed widely, but it passed widely because it was pointless. The only thing that ever mattered was the judicial process. And that process is now over. Leithart and the FV won.
The PCA is now about inclusivism rather than confessionalism and Gospel Eco-Systems rather than . . . well there really is not an opposite of Gospel Eco-Systems, that is how bad that idea is.
I have a lot of friends in the PCA. I feel for them. Most of them probably would not make good fits in the RCUS because we are not Westminster based, but I think neither is the PCA anymore.
An interesting point-counter-point has developed. It seems like a good place for discussion to start, and it still makes me think I don't fit either group. However, it appears to be a series of points based off solely Van Drunen. I still think the 2K/Transformationalism is a spectrum or a sliding scale. But, it is a nice thing to read if you want a starting point for discussion.
That is not to say I think it is great. Because I also think that the Counter-Point is occasionally squarely and unhelpful. Take points 8-10.
Point 8 lays out the 2K claim that Lex Talionis governs the Common Kingdom. Point 9 then admits that it is flexible, imprecise, and capable of softening. Point 10 is then "Principles of Mercy and Forgiveness do not govern the common kingdom". Straight forward enough. The Counter-Point is "Principles of mercy and forgiveness do operate in the common kingdom, if one understand the common kingdom to include families, personal relationships, etc."
Now that is unhelpful in my opinion. First, "govern" and "operate" are not exactly parallel. Saying one governs does not mean that the other cannot operate. Second, Point 9 admitted that mercy and forgiveness can and do operate, they just don't govern. At least that is how I read Point 9. So, I feel that sometimes the guy wants to disagree and make a point and does so in less than upfront ways.
Still, it is a place to start the discussion. Enjoy the reading.
You are not supposed to be against classics. It just means you are a jerk if you say what everyone is thinking about Les Miserables (Les Mis from now on). But I don't mind being a jerk. That movie was just plain awful.
Look, I knew it was a musical. Fine. I have seen many a musical. West Side Story for instance. People randomly burst into song. It is what it is. However, in Les Mis no one talks. Every other musical I have ever seen (like Grease) people speak and then sing and speak again. No, not in Les Mis. Only song. I guess I can chalk that up to taste, but if you are going to make a movie where there is only singing, get good singers. Forgo the big name actors and focus on people who drive home your song. No offense to the guy from "A Beautiful Mind" but he can't sing. While everyone else in the theater was crying, I was rooting for Jean Valjean to die so he would stop singing. I had had enough. I know, I am heartless.
But there is more, and it gets worse.
Everyone raves about the Christian message of Les Mis. And there are clearly some very beautiful moments of grace. Of course the abbot purchasing Jean Valjean freeing him from going back to prison, Jean Valjean confessing they have the wrong man in front of a crucifix. Yes, grace is clear and presented. Of that there is no doubt. But is it clearly a Protestant message? I don't think so. I still think this is a Roman Catholic message of grace and works. Now, I confess I have not read the book in ages, so I am only speaking of the movie. But the Valjean death scene where the dead are returning and conversing with him he sings a line about "did I do enough". They comfort him with the assurance that he will see heaven. And that is the problem. Jean Valjean was trying to earn his salvation and on his dying day he still does not know if his good works were enough to out weigh his bad ones. And the movie down plays his bad ones. Jean Valjean did steal bread. But it is portrayed as something the poor do because they have to do it. This is not how God's law operates. He stole. He also ignores Fantine when she needs someone to aid her. A sin he has to pay for. He was too worried about himself. In fact, he is worried about his lies unraveling. Another sin.
I could go on, but the point is that Jean Valjean is constantly asking himself what must he do, can he let someone else bear his punishment. Can he let Javert go? Can he save the boy? Should he? He makes the right choices, but not out of thankfulness for the salvation he has received, but in hopes of paying off his sin. At least that is how I saw it. Which led me to believe Javert had the appropriate response to a world where salvation was based on doing right. Javert killed himself because he knew he could not pay of his debt, and he realized he had debt for the first time.
So I am not gaga over Les Mis. Victor Hugo as a Roman Catholic, and I think it comes across in this movie. Sure, it is a better message than "Brokeback Mountain", but that is not the same as being a movie about true redemption. We do not earn anything. In a movie culture that is starved for a message of grace and forgiveness, let us not accept a Romanist version of it.
Go and enjoy the movie if you like singing that much, but do not forget the shortcoming of Catholicism while you watch it.
This year, 2013, is the 450th Anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism. It was printed in January with the seal of Frederick III of the Palatinate, so this is the month to celebrate. I do intend to put some stuff up here about the catechism throughout the year, but let me encourage each and every one of you to read the Heidelberg. See how the Catechism again and again points to Jesus Christ. Over and over, it turns to the only comfort in life and in death . . . Jesus Christ.
Go read it now.
And yes, I do plan on posting more this year. I have decided that occasionally working things out by writing can be a helpful skill. One that I need to develop a bit more.