Saturday, November 19, 2005
Narrow Is The Way
This post from Tod Bolsinger is one of the rare, single point, undeniably true and inarguable gems.
To believe that Jesus is the only one with the words of the Kingdom, that Jesus is the only one that leads to real true eternal life, that Jesus is the only one who is the rock to build our lives on, is so?well, narrow.This is one of those points of the gospel we just don't here enough of any more. The way is narrow and many will be excluded.
What is interesting is that Jesus never explains or defends his brash assertion, he never solves our problem with his exclusive claim.
Being a Christian is not nirvana-like, it's not easy, and it's not for everyone. Does this mean we don't evangelize? Of course not, but I do think it means we need to be more realistic in our evangelism. I do think we need to understand that many, maybe even most, will say "No" to real and genuine evangelism.
We live in a welcoming tent. We live in a tent where there is room for everyone that sincerely decides to come in. But it is not a "big tent." That does not mean we do not love those that are not in it. To the contrary, I want everyone in the tent, especially those I love. But sadly, I also know many of them will not come in.
I wonder what this understanding of narrowness says about mega-churches?
Now That's Toxic!
Australia's lizards are venomous too - ABCNews
They are the same story, told quite differently, about how a researcher in Australia has found that many of the common lizard varieties found there in fact carry venom. The explanation is that rather than inject large quantities of venom like a snake, the mix it in their mouths with saliva, thus significantly diluting it and making it not terribly harmful to humans.
They have also used the research to change the entire evolutionary model of reptilian development.
I think the fact that lizards have venom is cool, but I have a lot of questions.
Firstly, why did it take this long to find this out. It's not like these lizards haven't been studied to death. As a kid I did more than my share of amateurish garage dissections of lizards I caught in the yard, and I was always running around with some bloody little vesicle I found in the things head trying to find out if it was venomous. I know that makes me a little weird, but I have to think I wasn't the only one. One of us should have grown up and followed up on that a long time ago.
The other thing relates to the evolutionary conclusions they draw. From the LiveScience piece.
But after comparing the genetic code for snake and lizard venom, Bryan Fry at the University of Melbourne, Australia discovered that the two reptiles shared nine toxins. This supports the idea that snakes and venomous lizards evolved from a common venomous ancestor, and after connecting the DNA dots, Fry and his colleagues traced venom to a single origin 200 million years ago.That's an awful lot of conclusion from not a whole lot of data. Might a fossil of that common ancestor be helpful? How do they know about the jaw thing, just because there are breeds with either/or so the common ancestor must have had both? I know we don't understand the genetic code that well. This rises to the level of presumption, not conclusion. It may fit the available data, but when you have such sparse data, I would be careful how I presented something like that.
"That's also when the small, bite-sized animals were starting to exist. Any time there's a new food source you see the emergence of a new predatory trick," Fry told LiveScience. "In this case, venom was the new trick."
The common ancestor had venom glands on both its upper and lower jaws. Since then, snakes have evolved to having glands on just their upper jaw; glands on the lower would make it difficult to swallow prey.
Just shows there is a world of difference, between an explanation that fits the data and data actually supporting a theory.
This character has never been quite fully formed. DC's archer, wh we'll see below had ben around for a while with minimal success and so I think Marvel just sort of decided the archer could never be more than a supporting character so they never really tried. Even the miniseries were more nods to hardcore fans that wanted to know more about the character than they were real efforts to flesh him out.
I also have my questions about his appearance. The costume was way cool when it first appeared in the '60's, and provided a stark contrast to the DC archer, but I don't think it has aged well. Any attempt to update his look has; however, been fairly feeble and unsuccessful. Technically, Hawkeye is dead right now, but that has never kept a good character down. I hope they use the occassion of his ressurection to realize the potential of this character.
This, by contrast, is the DC archer - Green Arrow. GA has that classic Robin Hood look for an archer, but his character is strikingly different. He started way back when as essentially a poor man's Batman, with many, many gadget arrows, like Batman has gadgets in his utility belt. GA was hit or miss until he really started to be well formed as a near hippie in the now famous Green Lantern/Green Arrow run. Even after that he was relegated to supporting roles, mostly in the Justice League, until several miniseries in the '80's really caught on and now he has his own title.
GA has beena breakthrough character in several areas, most notably when his teen sidekick, Speedy, ended up with a herion problem. It was deep stuff. Now he has a whole poorly formed family, child out of wedlock who operates as "Arsenal" another archer, and other assorted stuff that in some ways makes him more soap opera than hero, but its interesting. GA is a character that should be cast darkly, as I think all essentially "normal" heroes should be, so having him in this sort of nether world works well.
While I like GA's look, I do not think he has ever had the kind of artictic treatment he really deserves. To me he always looks best with the top flight art talent in JL, but it is alwasy sencond stringers that get his solo stuff. I would love to see his solo book do a stint with some really top flight art talent, unfortunately his sales just don't warrant it.
Hey, awhile we are talking Superheroes, you might want to try this little quiz and see if you can tell the difference between a Superhero and a household cleaner. Even I did not manage a perfect score, but they got awfully obscure, not so much with the superheroes, but with the cleaners.
Proof - 'Reporting' Is Often Wrong
Man, That Sucks
Which Is, I Guess, Better Than Smoking It
But it does put you in mind of the old "Far Side" cartoon.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Why Are We Going Around Like This?
But semantics are vitally important here. In the Bible when someone uttered a prophecy they began or ended the prophetic saying with a "thus sayeth the Lord," or "the Holy spirit says" as in the case of Agabus. The Biblical prophet was doing so much more than offering his own interpretations of spontaneous impressions, he was speaking the very words of God.The traditional formulation of a prohetic utterance is indeed "Thus sayeth the Lord." I posted on the extreme danger of this phrase last week. Charismatics seem to want to hold onto the idea of "impressions" as prophecy. As someone planted firmly in the middle of this debate, I would like to offer an alternative that I hope will please everybody.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has a rather lengthy entry under "Preacher, Preaching." I'd like to pull a couple of quotes from it
3. A Man with a Message:From later in the same entry:
His work is always to be related to the Old Testament and New Testament. His sermon is under the creed of his church as the creed is under the word. The preacher is a man with a message, and the preacher who has no message of the particular kind indicated above is in no true sense a preacher. It has been well expressed in one of the valuable Yale series of lectures on the subject, "Every living preacher must receive his communication direct from God, and the constant purpose of his life must be to receive it uncorrupted and to deliver it without addition or subtraction." When he presents the message of his divinely-appointed ambassadorship in its integrity, he speaks with that peculiar kind of "authority" which has been pronounced "the first and indispensable requisite" in giving a message from God. He manifests thereby a "high celestial dogmatism," and "human weakness becomes immortal strength." The true preacher preaches from a divine impulsion. He says with Paul, "Necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:16; compare Jeremiah 20:9). He says with Peter, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard" (Acts 4:19,20). The message of the preacher is greater than the man, because it is from God. It largely makes the man who preaches it in its fullness and power. Whatever be his own gifts or whatever the alleged gift conferred in the laying on of hands, without the sense of the message he is not chosen of God to proclaim His word. Destitute of that, he does not have the sustaining impulse of his vocation to enlist his entire personality in his work and give him mastery over the minds and hearts of men.
9. Fundamental Postulates:After reading all of that, it would appear that "preaching," when properly done, meets the formulation of "thus sayeth the Lord" but it does so out of Scripture and not out of any sense of special revelation. Thus I consider a preacher to be the New Testament holder of the office of prophet and to have the gift of prophecy.
Upon the basis of what is taught in the word of God there are two fundamentally important postulates concerning preaching and the preacher.
(1) Preach the Word.
The first note of preaching is that it be the word of God (2 Timothy 4:2). Out of the Bible must the life of every generation of Christians be fed. To Holy Scripture, therefore, ought the pulpit to abide faithful, for out of its treasures the preacher fulfils his double office of edifying believers and subjugating the world to Christ. There must always be an organic connection between the word in the text and the sermon.
(2) "We Are Ambassadors."
The work of preaching is the fulfillment of a divinely instituted ambassadorship (2 Corinthians 5:20). The gospel is put into the hands of men for a distinct purpose, and is to be administered in accordance with the plan of its author. The preacher is in a very distinct sense a trustee. "But even as we have been approved of God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God who proveth our hearts" (1 Thessalonians 2:4). Those who have accepted the responsibility imposed upon them by this divine commission are enjoined to exercise their office so as to warrant the approbation of Him who has appointed them to a specific work. The homiletic practice of taking theme of every sermon from a passage of Holy Writ has been an almost invariable rule in the history of the church. It is the business of the preacher to present the truth embodied in the text in its integrity. In the exercise of his divinely-appointed ambassadorship he is to administer God's word revealed to Christian faith, not human opinions or speculations.
I also think this definition of prophecy of consistent with the Old Testament office of prophet. While there are exceptions (Daniel's dreams, Isiah's foretelling of Christ as examples) in large part the prophetic literature of the Old Testament is an interpretation (exegesis?) of the Torah. The phrase "thus sayeth the Lord" is generally in the context of a quotation or restatement of existing scripture rather than it is a "specific word."
I would also note that the exceptions to the "preaching" rule comes with a whole lot more attached than "impressions." They are vivid and detailed dreams or visions. I can't rule out the possibility in the New Testament age, but it was pretty rare in their age, and I think in ours. It is also notable that it was rarely recognized for what it was in the Old Testament age. I'm not sure we'd know it if we saw it.
Thus my middle ground proposal is this. The gift of prophecy and office of prophet continues today, it is seen in the pulpit. Special revelation does not exist today. I don't rule it out it's possibility, but nothing has yet to reach the sufficient proof level, and in fact, probably nothing can absent long historical perspective. Impressions may be validly guided by the Holy Spirit, but do not rise to the level of prophecy and can never be associated with the phrase (or it's synonyms) "Thus sayeth the Lord."
My desire here is to satisfy the charismatic that the gift continues, and the cessationist that special revelation does not -- mostly in hopes of moving the discussion onto other gifts. Other gifts are to my mind even more prickly and dangerous.
The War In Iraq
Let me get this straight -- we are having to defend ourselves concerning the legal use of legitimate weapons when every single move made by our enemy in Iraq is an illegal form of combat. Do you think booby-traps, IED's in military parlance, are within the Geneva Convention? Our men and women in uniform take much higher risks than would otherwise be the case in order to follow the conventional rules of war. This is just heinous.
Ah, but it all becomes clear:
Once his ugly mug is in the picture, it's pretty obvious what we are facing - political opportunism. (Just an aside -- there is that whole tradition of former Presidents keeping their mouths shut about policy matters) Anyway, the press, in its never ending campaign to find out what is wrong in anything, has succeeded in reducing the poll numbers concerning Iraq to the point that the Dems are jumping on it in an effort to recapture some political momentum. What's much worse though is that many Republicans seem to be playing along. They already have political momentum and are so afraid of losing it that they are failing to lead.
It's despicable. They play with the lives of our uniformed services when they do things like this. They don't support them, they take a very large (*&% on them.
Yeah, call your Representatives and Senators and tell them what you think. But tell the guy next door too. Introduce him to your favorite milblogger. Tell him about the good stuff that is happening. Make the case to everyone you know.
A Question For My Pastor Friends
We all have personas -- different "faces" that we put on for different settings. I see this more in pastors than I do in other people. Many pastors I know feel this burden for public perfection, or at least near perfection that makes their public persona very different from their private persona.
Is that legit?
If ours is a faith of grace and transformation, should not a pastor exhibit both in abundance? Should grace not be evident in his/her falabilities? Should not transformation be evident in the fact that those falabilities are in different areas and perhaps less severe than the rest of us?
I am told all the time that am pretty "out there." I don't have much in the way of personas -- what you see is what you get. If I am totally frank, I find the idea of personas dishonest. But, I have also suffered because of my "out there" nature. Sometimes I wonder if it would not be helpful to develop a persona of some sort. Because I think it dishonest, it has been known to be a source of friction between myself and pastors, thus my question.
How about some feedback.
Technothrillers Come To Life
Several of them have come out in the last few years based on the extensive build-up of Chinese power in the Panama. They are coming dangerously close to taking control of the canal. (Thanks Jimmy, letting go of that thing was another of your more "brilliant" ideas)
Cheat Seeking Missles took a look yesterday at the current Chinese bid to take over an abandoned US air base in Panama and the fact that the State Department does not appear to be up on this little development.
Does anybody remember the Cuban Missle Crisis? Do we really need the Chinese to have basing capabilities within a couple hour flight of our mainland?
As James Twitchell, author of "Adcult USA," explains, the demand for luxury goods has been translated into a spiritual quest.Now, as Mohler describes it, this is another one of those "spirtuality without religion" things, but how long is it going to be before some enterprising "Christian" ministry type tries to capitalize on this phenomena? -- Connect with God, be consumed with the Spirit while you shop in our conveniently located in the narthex high-end gift shop. Does anybody remember the moneychangers in the Temple courtyard?
Time For Another SOS Award
School officials in rural Virginia are trying to prevent fights under the Friday night lights by banning the traditional post-football game handshake.All I have to add is that my senior year in high school, we were really good in football. Undefeated, #1, the whole thing. We shut out several teams by scores in the range they mention in that piece. It never got out of hand. Is the problem the handshake, the people giving them, or maybe their teachers and coaches?
"There have been some instances in the past where the handshaking has gotten a little bit out of control, with kids spitting on each other [and] kicking each other," said Larry Shumaker, principal of Northumberland High School in Heathsville. "We're just trying to prevent situations from occurring before they occur."
"You got beat 56-0 and you want someone to tell you 'Good game' 35 times'" Rappahannock High School Principal Jack Cooley asked. "If you go through the line, there's a possibility that somebody's gonna push somebody, hit somebody, and it's going to be a big problem at the end of the game."
And that is why Principal Jack Cooley et. al. wins this Stuck on Stupid award.
These are just for Scotwise...Master of the painful pun, as you will see if you follow the link.
Missed It Again
They never name me...
Sometimes It's Easy
Michael Jackson has stirred a small controversy in the United Arab Emirates by entering the ladies room in a shopping mall.It must have been very small for him to pass in the ladies room.
Better Than Kobe Beef...
Stupid Is As Stupid Does
Jong Il's 24-year-old heir Kim Jong Chol has reportedly been dismissed by his father as "too girlish" to rule the country, but is a leading contender as his elder brother is currently in self-imposed exile in Europe.Makes his dad look downright attached to reality doesn't it?
And North Koreans will be interested in Kim Jong Chol's defence and foreign policies - which he proposes should be lead by the 'Muscles From Brussels'.
Inspired by Van Damme's terrorist-busting performance in 1995 film 'Sudden Death', he says: "I'd not allow weapons or atom bombs any more. I'd destroy all terrorists with the Hollywood star Jean-Claude Van Damme."
And The Most Unusual Congregation Is...
Little Tiny Maps
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Well, If You Were A Calvinist
Saving faith is typically thought to consist of three necessary components: knowledge (or understanding), approval (or assent), and personal trust (i.e., some act of will). I want to suggest (and briefly argue) that the third element might not be necessary after all. In short, I have a hard time seeing how believing the right things about my own sinful state, along with some very important and specific right things about Jesus, isn?t enough.I think my headline does a pretty good job of dealing withe the primary thesis here, but there is a pull quote a bit later in the piece that I do want to address.
Finally, it?s worth considering the practical outcome of the view I?m suggesting. No doubt, an abandonment of trust and commitment to the person of Christ is dangerous; but I think we have the unique position of living among the deleterious effects of a conception of saving faith that has shifted an inordinate amount of its focus toward the idea of trust in a person, as exemplified by pithy slogans like ?no creed but Christ.? In one sense, focus on the person of Christ can be of nothing but benefit; but when trust, commitment, and matters of the heart are exalted at the expense of propositional belief, the intellectual?and by extension spiritual?life of the Church suffers. In fact, I do not think that the effect of the 20th century church?s general and anti-intellectual subordination of correct propositional belief can be overstated.This quote puts a pretty fine point on something that has been on my mind for a few weeks now. As a group we bloggers are pretty smart and we do love exercising our intellects. This is not a statement of pride, just fact, I mean look at the stuff we write.
There is a tendency amongst us smart folks to think that smart matters. But does it? Let me rephrase it this way, if in fact spiritual life is improved by intellectual life, what of someone that lacks intellectual capacity? Will they be denied a full and complete spiritual life? I refuse to believe that.
I am not just talking about mentally handicapped people here, I am talking about people that just maybe didn't finish high school, or the illiterate. Does this mean that all those Christians in the ages before widespread literacy missed out on a genuine spirtual experience? Again, I refuse to believe that.
It's good to be smart -- I like it. But if smart is the essense of my spirtual experience then something is wrong.
Alito - It's Starting To Get Ugly
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday said he has "significant concerns" about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, calling President Bush?s latest choice one of the most conservative judges in the United States.Bill "Gutless-on-Iraq" Frist said:
"A picture of Sam Alito is emerging that may explain why the extreme right-wing is popping champagne corks," Reid, D-Nev., said in a Senate speech, referring to a 20-year-old document in which Alito asserted "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."
Frist, writing in The Chicago Tribune last week, said: "If members of the Democratic minority persist in blocking a vote on Alito's nomination, the Senate will have no choice" but to forbid such tactics....I'm starting to get a bad feeling here. First did a virtually complete cave-in to the Dems on the Iraq resolution Tuesday.
...Amy Call, a Frist spokesman, said, "The leader will assure that Judge Alito gets a fair up-or-down vote."
The Republican resolution, sponsored by Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner of Virginia, largely mirrored a Democratic resolution, except for Democrats' key requirement for a withdrawal plan.That does not give me a lot of confidence about his tough talk on Alito -- particularly at a time when the Dems are starting to get bold too.
I've expected the Dems to thrash all along, they have to, but I expected that thrashing to be the equivalent of a tantrum, much show, little action. Most prognosticators say the votes are there to invoke the constitutional option and thus break the filibuster, thus I expected the Dems to stop short of actually filibustering to keep that bit of egg off their faces. Now I'm not so sure.
By virtue of the Iraq resolution they can sense a softness in thier opponent, which means the tantrum might produce results. I don't think SCOTUS Justice Alito is forgone conclusion just yet.
Hostility v Anger -- Dialogue=Capitulation
The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned against tensions and splits in the Church over homosexuality and the ordination of women bishops.I really hate it when people say that. A good deal of the time it is just a dressed-up expression of "give in." The man is saying, in essence, "if you don't calm down, I'll have to choose sides and I'll only get to be prelate over half of you."
Dr Rowan Williams told members of the General Synod they should beware of "poisoning the wells" and ought to conduct debates without hostility.
The debate about sexuality within the Church was complicated by high levels of mutual ignorance, he said.
Here's the bottom line, ad hominum is never called for. Personal vindictive is inappropriate in a church setting. But some issues are worth fighting over and some doing so vigorously. I think there is room for discussion on the role of women in the church, but not homosexuals. Avowed and practicing homosexuals are, of course, welcomed to worship and participate in church life -- but they are not welcomed into leadership. It would be no different than ordaining an unrepentant adulterer or even perhaps thief. Homosexual practice is a sin and it is inappropriate for church leadership to advocate sin.
I will respectfully listen to you attempt to convince me to the contrary, but I promise you will be unsuccessful. And I promise that should your view prevail, I will find somewhere else to worship.
A Cure I'll Never Take
Cartilage cells have been grown from embryonic stem cells, raising hopes of a new way to treat injuries, UK scientists have revealed.I'll continue with my pain, thank you very much.
The Imperial College London team converted the stem cells by growing them alongside cartilage cells.
Cartilage is the dense connective tissue which allows the smooth movement of joints.
The research, in Tissue Engineering, could help treat sports injuries, hip replacements and even cosmetic surgery.
Oh, You Have Got To Be Kidding Me
She may not look it, but a tiny fox terrier called Mitzi is one of southeast Queensland's most dangerous dogs.The only danger I see here is a bitter 55-year-old woman with a bad sense of balance.
That is according to Logan City Council, which yesterday brushed aside pleas for leniency from Mitzi's keepers to maintain her dangerous status.
Mitzi's dark reputation stems from an incident in March when she and an accomplice known as Bundy the scottish terrier dug their way out of a Waterford West back yard.
A council report said they barked at and tried to bite a 55-year-old woman. The startled woman fell over backwards and broke her wrist, but was not bitten.
I generally find asphalt or concrete a better ride.
Wisconsin Issues Mark Of The Devil
Rumor has it, the same plate is up for auction in some parts of California though.
As It Should Be
I mean, if you didn't have a sense of humor, why would you ever go to Jersey? Here's my entry - I GOT NO PLACE ELSE TO GO.
Mad Scientist Needed
The bad news is beer is brewed, not formulated. The good news is Bud Light can now be used to power a rocket to the moon, which gives it one use instead of the none it had before.
About That Sexually Libertine Attitude In Scandanavia
News Of The Really Gross...
No really, follow the link, there is a picture of a jar of pickles with a well-preserved rat carcass inside.
This is the best reason yet not to have surgery in India
But this does raise a question, given Hindu reincarnation beliefs, can they use insecticides?
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Doctrine and The Holy Spirit
I more than anyone know the dangers of charismatic thought run amuck -- I have seen it result in literal death, to people I love dearly. There are other even more personal, and therefore unsuitable for blogging, instances in and around my life, of how the charismatic experience does enormous harm to people, the church, and the name of God. But the solution to such does not lie in denying the Holy Spirit's capability to intercede directly, or in looking the other way.
What upsets me so about this issue is that the best way to fix the problem is not in picking sides but in fusing them. Sound doctrine is the best way to keep charismatic experience in check and charismatic experience is the best way to keep the reformed from becoming lifeless, or worse legalist. That's important, let me repeat it -- Sound doctrine is the best way to keep charismatic experience in check and charismatic experience is the best way to keep the reformed from becoming lifeless, or worse legalist.
Certainly the biggest problem in evangelicalism today is moving people past the "salvation experience" into a genuine and transforming faith. I have never seen a program work yet, I've talked the problem to death, but the only time I've seen it happen is when "something" just clicked in that person. What could that "something" be besides the Holy Spirit?
And the thing that is really, really sad is that when that something clicks in a person that has a well formed sense of doctrine the result is beautiful. But when it happens in those that don't, the result is generally disasterous -- charismatic or otherwise. I know a few exceptions to that observation, but they are people who, for various reasons, lack the intellectual capability to ever have a reasonable doctrinal understanding -- obviously, the Spirit chooses to work in them most carefully.
This is a conversation that needs to be joined, gracefully but with deliberate intent. Avoiding the subject or limiting oneself to denunciation of the bad actors, does not get the job done.
My prayer is that the great thinkers of our faith, particularly in the reformed tradition, would pick up this discussion fully and heartily. A fully cessasionist viewpoint simply denies reality -- there is too much experiential evidence to the contrary, but experience alone is a dangerous thing. Denial of the experience is; however, equally dangerous.
It is not purely coincidental that virtually everthing that is wrong in the reformed/evangelical movement is not wrong in the charismatic movement and vice-versa. Such tells me that the truth and a genuine faith lies in the middle, not in picking one or the other, or in failing to pick.
This Is A Fine Kettle Of Fish
Well, yesterday, it seems the entire US Senate has joined the unhinged one and passed a resolution weakening the President's position as Commander-In-Chief, calling for Iraqi withdrawal, though without specifics. It's getting spun all kinds of ways like this and this. Hugh Hewitt is all over this with posts here -- here -- here -- here. Hugh is calling this "Vietnam Syndrome 2.0" I certainly cannot think of anything more apt. This move by the Senate violates pretty much all of the lessons learned from that war.
But here is the real question in my mind. Senators seem to think they had to do this to reflect the national mood. That means one of two things. Either Sentors really are more influenced by the Beltway Cocktail Party chatter than they are their constituients, or this nation is entirely too complacent.
You remember this? You want it to happen again? Then we need to do what we need to do in Iraq. I am sorry if all the angles and reasons are too complicated for you to get your little head around. I am sorry if you think Iraq was about WMD and nothing else.
Maybe this overly simplistic, and abhorently barbaric arguement will do it for you. People do things like what you see in this picture because they perceive this nation as weak. No matter what, we have to change that perception. Much as when a new top guy comes into an organization, someone usually has to get fired just to show the new guy's in charge. We have to change that perception by kicking some serious tail. Even if you buy all that hogwash about Iraq was not tied to Al Queda and no WMD's and so forth, you have to admit, Iraq was a great target for a serious tail kicking.
If nothing else, we have not seen new attacks on US soil because people know if they do something that stupid they are calling down the wrath of the US Military, and that is not a wrath you want on the wrong side of.
Fine, next time someone decides to kill a few thousand of our citizens just casue they don't like the cut of our jib, and think they can get away with it, we'll send some body parts to all the people that think this Senate resolution was a wise idea. Then we'll see how they feel.
The Future Of The Church
I agree with David whole heartedly in his review, but I am going to put things a bit more simply. Books like this are big on "using the tools of today to build today's church." Why? In my opinion that's what got us into this mess to begin with.
God does not change, and neither, fundamentally, do we. Why is the question, "What do we do today," instead of "Why aren't we doing it like they did then?" Bottom line, it is easier to look around than it is in. It is easier to say, "Scoiety has changed around the church" than to say "The church has quit doing what it is supposed to do."
Let me give you a minor example. In the Prebyterian church we are, well we were, big on order. Committees, parlimentary rules, procedures and bureacracy. Remember when I said bureacracy was a good thing? I really believe that. I am a Presbyterian, in part, because it's bureacratic nature prevents the abuses of a preisthood, like say the pre-Reformation Roman church, or ugliness of so many modern Pentecostal ministries. But more and more, there are calls on large and small scales to reject that bureacracy because it is "too cumbersome and political." All that means is people are not doing it well, not that it is wrong!
I love the church -- it does not need to be "rethought" it just needs to be done right.
We Are A Sick People Sometimes
I am grateful to Joe for this well thought out and logical post. As someone that got married very late in life, and ran a significant risk of having a child so inflicted, I seem only to react to this news on a visceral level. We never realized that risk because we never have had a child. While we are content with our decisions, there remains in our lives a hole around which we have had to work to find that contentment.
All I can say is this -- anyone that would abort a child based on a fetal diagnosis of Down Syndrome is somehow inhuman. They have no understanding of the value of that which they have. How can people so callously discard something that others would sacrifice just about anything for?
"It's my life," they retort, "I'm not hurting anyone but myself." Wrong, your devauling of that which I so desired and was denied cuts me to the quick. You belittle the desire of my heart. You trivialize the effort I have had to make to be content where I am. You hurt me deeply.
Finding Your Distinction
Life's little elitisms make it more palatable. If you or your group can fasten upon some aspect of yourself that is believed to be better than others, the satisfaction from the distinction can heighten the good days and ameliorate the bad ones. If you are thinner, smarter, cooler-you're better. And the knowledge that you're better can sustain you much of the time, at least if your daily reality generally precludes suffering.So says Glenn Lucke at Common Grounds Online. Glenn's point? -- That maybe we have to choose where we fit in and how we will distinguish ourselves, choose between God and the world.
Scripture does point us to hierarchies that are God-ordained. There is a hierarchy of honor, of age (elders), and of reward in the consummation of the Kingdom. However, upon what are God?s hierarchies based? Investing the talents He gives, teachers receiving a double honor, making yourself a servant, what one does in the body (2 Cor 5:10).
I choose God. I hope you will too.
This Definitely Went Wrong Somewhere
The Best Of Pravda
Thngs must be pretty tough in this new democratic age, now that they cannot beat them into it.
Remind me to stay away for European mummies --
Although, I don't know how they can possibly study the thing if they keep dying when they try.
James Bond will never live this down --
Finally, there are some stroeis that just should remain relgated to the industry magazines,
That has got to be the most lovingly detailed description of a port-pottie I have ever read. Only in Russia.
Not So Easy After All
The Dutch animal protection agency demanded prosecution Tuesday for the shooting of a sparrow that knocked over 23,000 dominoes during an attempt to set a world record.Fine, but I'm thinking the "Dutch animal protection agency" has to come reset the dominoes.
I'm thinking she can make his life a lot more miserable married to him than just prosecuting him.
Doesn't This Cross Church/State Lines?
Beverage For Bears
But I here they are going to offer it in the convenient salmon-pack
The Perfect Woman?
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The Great Debate That Really Isn't
This whole thing started with Pyromaniac bagging, rightly, on false prophecy. he has refused to pick up the gauntlet on other related matters. He has continued to pursue prophecy misuses here and here. Adrian Warnock has given some limited responses here and here.
Billoblog has some interesting input in the discussion, but by far, the best post I found over the weekend was this one from Between Two Worlds recommending a book on limited charismaticism.
Barring any major development, this will likely be my final entry in the discussion. I really think that Pyromanic is trying to repolarize a discussion that was coming together nicely, and frankly, I think that is unforunate.
I think that fact speaks volumes about the inevitable tension that arises between continuationism and biblical discernment. In effect, what the continuationists seem to be saying is: "Yeah, yeah, OK, false prophecies are bad. Over-gullibility is a problem. We can manage those things. They are incidental issues. The real danger (or a far greater danger) lies in the opposite direction."I had planned a post on the necessity of good teaching and maturity as necessary for handling the gifts in a proper way, building the kind of foundation that avoids the false prophecies and other misuse of the gifts that Phil slams so hard here, but not now. Phil grossly overstates here and then commits a grevious error based on that overstatement.
That has been the knee-jerk response of many Reformed continuationists who have commented here and on their own blogs. As if a strict commitment to the absolute sufficiency of Scripture posed a greater and more immediate threat to the church in our generation than the horde of false prophets that are rising up everywhere.
Nothing less than the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura is at stake here, and I suggest that anyone who truly thinks cessationism poses a greater threat than the proliferation of false prophecies has already effectively abandoned the formal principle of the Reformation.
Let me ask you, what primary principle of reformed thought is not under severe fire today? "Grace alone" is grossly abused as a permission to do pretty much anything in the church, as an example. "Election" is viewed as somehow grossly distasteful. We are surrounded by heresy and ugliness. All those problems matter. Besides I have not heard anyone on the reformed continuist side argue against "a strict commitment to the absolute sufficiency of Scripture"
But so does squelching the Holy Spirit. I agree with Phil when he says
- There is a monstrous potential for evil in blithely assuming that all your private imaginations are supernatural promptings that come to you as divine revelations from the Holy Spirit.
- Those who order their lives by such an assumption are being willfully gullible and sinfully superstitious, and they have no biblical warrant for the practice. In fact, such a mindset is hostile to the biblical concept of discernment.
- Claiming God told you something when in fact He did not is a profoundly wicked kind of presumption whose fruits are always evil. In fact, it was a capital crime under Moses' law.
- That kind of presumption, paired with a declining concern about biblical doctrine, has unleashed an untold amount of mischief in the visible church over the past century.
Do we respond to the prosperity gospel by ceasing fundraising in our own congregations? Do we respond to cheap grace by refusing to preach the doctrine of grace?
If you ask me what is wrong in mainstream Christianity these days, it is a failure to see the real action of the Holy Spirit. In general, we are so worried about the danger of false Holy Spirit practice that we keep Him out on the sidewalk and don't let Him in. I am convinced that the key to "saving the church" lies in rediscovering the Spirit. I am convinced that we have to name Him, and pray to Him, and invite His direct action. We have to learn to see Him in the miraculous and the regular -- but see Him we MUST.
Somehow, mainstream Christians have to learn how to embrace the passion and the committment so evident, even if grossly misguided in some of our Pentecostal friends. Tirades like that of Phil DO NOT HELP.
Phil chastises us to discernment - and indeed discernment is necessary, but discernment should be rooted in grace, not condemnation. Rather than tirades,we need correction. Rather than denouncement, we need teaching. Discernment can be taught and should be taught, so that we can feel free not to constrain the Spirit but to lose Him on the church, so that we can see Him in the ordinary and the miraculous, and everywhere in between.
And now, I must close with yet another humorous comment on the whole topic. It is a comment from my post yesterday on televangelists. It is the ultimate comment on discernment and it comes from Jollyblogger.
I was at the Shepherd's conference at Grace Community a couple of years ago. Someone asked how you could identify a false teacher. R. C. Sproul answered - "by their hair,"Now there is denouncement couched in grace.
Words Of Wisdom
You hide behind the First Amendment, claiming the bile you spew forth is protected under the right to free speech. Some of you claim that you "Support the Troops, but not the war". I submit to you that this is a preposterous assertation. In order to truly and honestly support the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have sworn to "Uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America", you must also support the endeavor that they are currently undertaking.The Gunner goes on well from there.
I should not add comments to just genuine outpourings as this one, but there is something I have to add. Yesterday on one of the talking heads, Howard Dean said
MR. RUSSERT: But those are words that will appeal to people. But when you go behind them, for example, what is the Democratic position on Iraq? Should we withdraw troops now? What do the Democrats stand for?While I disagree completely with the anti-war crowd that MDG so rightly denounces, there is a lower form of life. That is people who oppose the war, not on moral grounds, but because it is politically expedient. MDG concluded his post this way
DR. DEAN: Tim, first of all, we don't control the House, the Senate or the White House. We have plenty of time to show Americans what our agenda is and we will long before the '06 elections.
MR. RUSSERT: But there's no Democratic plan on Social Security. There's no Democratic plan on the deficit problem. There's no specifics. They say, "Well, we want a strong Social Security. We want to reduce the deficit. We want health care for everyone," but there's no plan how to pay for it.
DR. DEAN: Right now it's not our job to give out specifics. We have no control in the House. We have no control in the Senate. It's our job is to stop this administration, this corrupt and incompetent administration, from doing more damage to America.
You are stealing my blood, and you should be ashamed of yourself. Go back to your dark holes and brood, for you and your logic isnot welcome, and many more people than you think feel the same way I do. You are evil, as evil as our enemies.Strong words from someone that has fought the good fight. I have no clue about MDG's politcal leanings, but I think those words apply well to Democrats that don't know what we are supposed to do, but oppose for the sake of getting elected.
Here's An Excellent Question
It bothered me in the same way many of the sermons in contemporary evangelical churches bother me. What was it you ask? It was the fact that the text of Scripture preached upon really had little or nothing to do with the sermon at hand, and also, that the Text was actually saying the very opposite of what the preacher was trying to make it say. While the Moravian missionaries are to be commended for their spending their lives, and in many cases deaths, for the work of the Kingdom, that is not what the story of the rich young ruler is about AT ALL. It is my conviction, from many years of careful study, that the Scripture, in its whole counsel, contains either law or gospel wherever you look. When we preach from any Text of Scripture we can always find law, which condemns us, and the gospel of Christ which redeems us. This is true for both Old and New Testaments. Luther once said, "The law is for the proud but he gospel is for the brokenhearted."I think that many times we preach and hear "gospel-lite." In an effort to keep the pews full, create an appearance of growth and keep the offering plates full, we tell people what they want to hear rather than the radical and transforming message of the true gospel.
Well, what was preached to us that Sunday I unfortunately concluded, was really just a spiritual pep-talk. While there may have been very encouraging content, but was it the gospel? Is the pulpit meant to rally the troops with inspiring half-time talks, or be a place to preach Christ crucified?
Church is not about inspiration, it is about transformation. When we limit the story we tell, when we stop just a little short of the whole truth for the sake of not sending people away we do not breed success, rather we cheapen the gospel.
Success is God's business, fidelity to the gospel is ours.
Sorry I Have To Do This
1. What is light? How does it work?Light is photons - little tiny massless quantum particles of electromagnetic radiation that, when asked, behave like waves but need no medium for transmission.
How light works is most simply described by Maxwell's equations but these came about before Einstein discovered photons (but he thought photons descrete and not quantum type particles) and describes electromagnetic radiation, of which visible light is just one small part of the spectrum, as purely a wave.
Let's try this -- some reaction occurs, it could be anything from a fire to electronic excitation of a metal (light bulb) to nuclear fusion (the sun) -- that reaction is exothermic (gives off energy) and expresses that exothermic nature by the emission of photons. Those photons travel through space and, in accordance with Heisenberg, act like either a particle or a wave depending on what experiment you use to figure out what it is. Light can be "received" electronically by things like CCD devices or photomultiplier tubes that turn the energy of the photon into an electronic signal that you record with a device, or they can be received by soemthing like your eye that converts that energy into a chemical reaction that transmits down your nerves to your brain for cognition.
Sometimes light does not come directly from the photon emissive reaction, but it bounces off of a surface which changes the energy of the photon in some way and thus you see colors, textures, and shapes.
Does that answer your questions? There are no short answers to questions like that. It is one of the most fascinating topics in all of science.
If The Shoe Fits
Wouldn't you have to be a bit tetched to go to work for the European Commission to begin with?
What? He's Supposed To Give It Away?
Well, we've made it to the "I's" which means we've made it to my home town - Indianapolis, Indiana. What can one say for the place where the grew up? Well, not entirely -- we moved there the summer before I started 7th grade, but jr. hi., high school, college, and my first 2 jobs were all there -- that's major growing up.
Natural beauty is not really an Indianapolis hallmark. The surrounding countryside is pretty well plowed under -- you have to get a good bit to the south to see pretty country.
Indy does have some urban beauty though. It is often referred to as the "city of monuments." Home to , among other things, the American Legion, the downtown has many plazas, many statues, most relating to veterans and military. This is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument -- its circle defining the exact center of the city. The city was planned from its inception and everything is gridded from this point -- making it one of the easiest cities to navigate I have ever been in.
"The Circle" was supposed to be the precise geographical center of the state, but between calculational and surveying weaknesses in the 19th century, they missed by about 25 miles to the south. Pretty though, isn't it?
So, what's the first thing that comes to mind when one says "Indianapolis" -- one says "The 500" - The Greatest Spectacle in Racing - The largest single day sporting event in the world. Some say the heyday of American open wheel racing, and the IMS in particular are over -- I think we will see a resurgence and it will be bigger and better than ever. With the addition of NASCAR and F1 events at the Speedway, there is no place to go but up.
This is a banner year for pro football in Indianapolis. The Colts are currently undefeated - the only such team in the NFL at 9-0. They have been on the cusp for several years now and they seem to have turned the corner into genuine greatness. The Pacers were here a few years ago and blew it in the finals. Here's hoping the Colts don't pull up lame before the Super Bowl.
I am expecting a loss before the playoffs, undefeated is just too hard in this day and age, but still, 9-0 is pretty darn good. If you are not a Colts fan, it's a good year to start.
But of all sport - basketball reigns supreme in Indiana and in Indianapolis. So what do you see here -- the finest "little" team in college basketball, the Butler Bulldogs, the university that graduated the smartest man I have ever met -- yes, that's right -- ME! Butler made it to the Sweet Sixteen a few years ago, one of the greatest sports performances of my life.
Used to be the sun rose and set over Indiana University Basketball, but a few years ago, insanity took hold of pretty much the whole state, they ran out of patience with the greatest coach in college basketball history, an admitted jerk, but great coach, and replaced him with a drooling idiot. IU has one of the storied programs in history, they'll be back, but not until they get rid of this brain-dead excuse for a coach.
The Pacers are good, but in this old-school-Hoosier's book, the pro game will never be as good as the college and high school version.
Indianapolis -- it's home and it's wonderful.
The SCBA Has Had A Baby
It is nice to have dreams and try to reach them. Keep trying MOB -- somday you'll catch us -- for now all you can do is drink more beer.
How To Solve A Problem
A sparrow knocked over 23,000 dominoes in the Netherlands, nearly ruining a world record attempt before it was shot to death Monday, the state news agency reported.Would that it was always that easy.
Better Beans In Britain
I Feel A Long Convalescence Coming On
Although, I must say that's a fairly accurate decription of beer.
Hey! He Could Have My Vote
Although, I would prefer vodka.
Monday, November 14, 2005
The Idea Of The Weekend
You know, sometimes, I think the best thing that could be done for Chritian evangelism, probably in history, would be to raise a bunch of money to buy out TBN and take them off the air.After I finished laughing, I thought that as a pretty good idea. Though why stop at TBN, we have to buy out all the syndicated televanglists as well, but that just means we need more money.
What do you say, if every "normal" church in the country sent 10% of their missions giving to the "Corporation to End Christian Broadcasting" we could get the job done in 3-5 years. They would be making an investment to insure the usefulness of thier other mission dollars.
Now consider these:
There was one actual commonsense report from the Beeb this week:
What do you know -- maybe Bush was right not to sign it!
I've made my case against a "Christian environmental movement" over and over but the idea is still hanging around in the legacy media and I am glad to see some bloggers linking to stuff to refute the idea.
On the lighter side, this headline makes me wonder
Will they start with CO2? It is after all, a "greenhouse gas." Speaking of which, this has to be the silliest headline ever written on environmental matters
Folks, if that's the case I have no concern for global warming at all -- we'll suffocate first.
Well, As Long As We're Clear On That
Heroes: What a guy in a boat doesWhich must make this a "Superhero."
Only If It Was Found In A Nuclear Blast Crater
How else would a deer learn to fly? . . . Wonder if it had wings or it was more of a "Superman" thing?
Don't Most Of Us?
Just flush! For crying out loud.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Reflections On Visiting Hoover Dam
Anyway, I had an amazing time yesterday visiting Hoover Dam, certainly the best known civil engineering project in America and civil engineering on a grand and glorious scale. It is as spectacular to see, given its setting and design as it is functional.
I had two serious thoughts, other than "Gee Cool" during my tour. Thought I'd share.
The value of bureacracy. That's right, you heard it here first, I said bureacracy was worth something. As you camer to understand the dam and ow it was contructed and how it was built, you came to understand it what a remarkably simple device the thing really is. It's grand acheivement was not in it's design, but in the organization necessary to pull it off. It is not really different from the trash dams you probably built in the storm drains when you were a kid, or if you were lucky enough in a creek near your house. I told the friend that I was with that the lesson of the day was, "We're just really big beavers." Size is what makes the dam what it is and accomplishing something that large requires organization which equals bureacracy.
There is a lesson in that, bureacracy is necessary to accomplish big great thngs, in and of itself, bureacracy is not bad. It's when people to not play their role in the bureacracy well, with energy and pleasantness, that things it becomes unpleasant. If you have a job to do that demands you be part of a bureacracy, do it well.
We Couldn't Do It Again. Relagated to the back waters of the areas you tour with the dam is a very large diorama of the Colorado River basin -- the whole thing from Colorado and feeder rivers in Wyoming, New Mexico, etc, down to the Sea of Cortez. The diorama has a light show that demonstrates how Hoover, and all the other dams in the system work and what they do.
If you watch this presentation, which I must add few people do, you come to understand that without those projects, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tuscon, San Diego and Los Angeles simply could not and would not be the cities they are today, they would be something much, much less. Not to mention there would be no irrigation water to the Imperial and Coachella valleys where 30% of the country's produce is grown.
Why has such a powerful display been relegated to the backwaters of the dam? It's unpopular, that's why. It's all about "Man mucking about with the environment - and that's bad." I am confident Hoover Dam would never get the approvals it needs today. Heck, it's companion above the Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon, first approved by Congress at the same time as Hoover was not built until the 1960's and then it barely got approved. It is somewhat astonishing to me that a thing that makes life possible for so many is viewed with such distaste.
What I hate most though is that we, meaning mankind, are no longer allowed to dream dreams on such a scale. The Chinese are gathering more criticism than plaudits for the Three Gorges Dam, something that will change the life of millions for the better. I am not sure we are better people for this.
In the end, the arguements alwasy come down to "I like things the way they are and I don't want you to change them, even if many others will benefit." The concept of a public good has largely disappeared. The idea of making a sacrific today for the sake of tomorrow is almost non-existent. The biblical paradigm of putting the needs of others in front of your own is as rare as a new dam project. That's not good.
And that is probabaly way too much to think about when all I did was visit a dam.