Archive for the ‘ RK ’ Category

Sarcasm.

What really strikes me about atheists in general is their amazing double standards.

They can mock you, ridicule you, write thousands of words for the sole purpose of painting you as an absolute ignoramus – yet, when you tell them you’re no longer interested in dialogue, as there is no further gain to the discussion, point out their constant harangues, you’re being “childish”. It’s just utterly amazing to me.

It’s like they don’t even see it at all. I could go through dozens of places in their posts where Christianity is derided, denigrated, or ad hominems are scattered like fallen leaves – but point that fact out, and you’re some sort of anti-social troglodyte.

All I have to say is this: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?” I’m SO sorry that calling a spade a spade is so offensive to your sensibilities – that you cannot account for. If you don’t like being told that your endless meanderings are a waste of everyone’s time, then I suggest you stop wasting it – “not to wrangle about words, which is useless {and leads} to the ruin of the hearers.”

Read this book!

I contributed to a book, by Jamin Hubner, called “The Portable Presuppositionalist”, along with two friends from Choosing Hats – Brian Knapp and Chris Bolt. I really enjoyed writing that essay for it, and look forward to reading it. In a few days!

The book is now available on Amazon.com, and I encourage you to buy it. I’m excited at having something of mine published, and I am very appreciative to my friend Jamin for the opportunity! The book is intended as a one-stop resource for apologetics – and from the portions I’ve read, it lives up to that intent.

There ya go 🙂

Always Ready Study

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this earlier, but I’ve started participating in a group blog called Choosing Hats, which addresses presuppositional apologetics, and it’s response to the world around us. I was part of the 5th installment of their study of Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s “Always Ready”, and the sound file is now up!

I was very blessed to have participated in this study, and I look forward to being part of it in the future (and fixing my mic issues that were a bit of a disruption – heh. oops 😀 )

On the SBC and anti-Calvinism

Just to open up, I found Timmy Brister’s timeline very useful in organizing all of the commentary concerning the John 3:16 conference. While the conference was, indeed, an SBC All-Star event – it was decidedly anti-Calvinist. Now, I am quite aware that they don’t particularly like this categorization of their stance – Dr. Allen, for example, has taken exception to this – but, on the other hand, they certainly aren’t worried about categorizing Dr. White (a good friend, and spiritual mentor), Steve Camp, and Dr. Robert Reymond, whose Systematic Theology has been very helpful to me, as Hyper-Calvinists. Now, I’ve had quite a bit of dialogue with real hypers – and I have to say… they obviously have no idea what a hyper-calvinist is.

Now, I’m aware he would also reject this statement. He has, repeatedly. However, he has also repeatedly demonstrated that he has a lack of understanding concerning the difference between orthodox, historical calvinism and hyper-calvinism; decretive and preceptive will; anthropological will/desire and theological will/desire; not to mention showing a complete lack of balance in addressing the issue of Calvinism, in general. Apparently, Dr. Allen, as a professor of systematic theology, is unable to distinguish between these things. As a member of the SBC, I find this lack of perception absolutely mind-boggling, given our historical foundation as a Calvinist denomination. I don’t doubt that he would differ with that – but the fact remains.

My problem with this entire issue – with this entire conference, is that it is a group of SBC theologians with an axe to grind. The axe, of course, being the dismissal of Calvinism as orthodoxy. In the process of attempting to paint Calvinists in a certain light, they stooped to slander, followed by libel, in defense of the original slander. Dr. Allen’s statement is as follows:

“This is important. Here is the reason why this stuff is important. Limited atonement creates a situation where there is a diminishing of belief in God’s universal saving will. Dr. Tom Ascol sums up the historic Calvinist position when he wrote ‘I believe that God desires for all people to be saved but has purposed to save His elect. I see two (at least two) dimensions in God’s will: revealed and decretive. Failure to make this kind of distinction is a failure to read the Bible’s teachings on the will of God accurately.’ This statement was made in 2006 just before the time when the debate with the Caner brothers was scheduled to take place and Dr. Tom Ascol was supposed to join forces with James White to oppose the Caner brothers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, James White is a hyper-Calvinist. By the definition of Phil Johnson in his A Primer of Hyper-Calvinism, Phil Johnson of spurgeon.org, who is the right hand man of John MacArthur, Phil Johnson tells you the five things that make for hyper-Calvinism, and James White by his teaching is a hyper-Calvinist. Now whatever we do in Baptist life, we don’t need to be teaming up with hyper-Calvinists. It’s fine for Calvinists to get together and have debates with non-Calvinists. Fine dandy and wonderful; let that happen all day long. But it is time for Calvinists within the convention to come out and say some strong words about hyper-Calvinism.

By the way, James White is a Baptist, he is not a Southern Baptist. On April 10, during a phone call on the “Dividing Line” web cast, James White scornfully denied there is any sense in which God wills the salvation of all men. That is the total opposite of what Tom Ascol said. By the way, Ascol is right that God wills the salvation of all men. White is the one who’s wrong. The denial of God’s universal saving will is a problem.”

Now, the reasons that this is an absolutely absurd statement have been documented, quite thoroughly, by both Phil Johnson, and Dr. Ascol – not to mention Dr. White!

Phil Johnson:

if Dr. Allen thinks James White is a hyper-Calvinist by my definition, then he doesn’t understand my definition.

Dr. Ascol:

Although I must say that any conference that accuses James White of being a hyper-Calvinist loses credibility with thinking people.

Dr. White:

I simply point out that he seems to wish to establish a definition that forces one to somehow confess what God desires without providing any biblical basis for how we as creatures are to know this. Does God command repentance? Of course. Of all? Yes, of all. Do you proclaim the gospel to all? Yes, to all. Do you say it is the duty of all to believe? Surely, of course. Do you believe the proclamation of the gospel is the means by which God’s Spirit draws the elect unto Christ? Most assuredly. So what is the single basis of Allen’s accustion of “hyper-Calvinism”? My refusal to believe God decreed His eternal disappointment. I find nothing in Scripture or in the LBCF1689 that forces me to believe that God chose to create in such a fashion as to create His own unhappiness, His own lack of fulfillment. I see no reason to believe that God desires to do something He does not will to accomplish. It is only man’s limited nature that even raises the issue, for we know that the proclamation of God’s law reveals God’s prescriptive will, i.e., do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not lie, etc. Hence we ascribe to God the concept of “desire” and say God does not “desire” that man do these things. Yet, we likewise know that texts like Genesis 50:20 tell us that God has willed that such events take place, and that, in fact, He uses them to accomplish His own purposes, His own glory. The problem is in trying to read into God’s will our own self-limitations. I can freely offer the gospel to all, not because I reject election, nor because I ascribe to God a human-oriented desire that runs directly counter to His own self-revelation and consistency, but because I do not know the identity of the elect, and I have the full promise of Scripture that no man, no woman, no child, will ever, ever turn in faith to Jesus Christ and yet be rejected by Him. ALL who believe will be saved. Will any man believe outside of God’s grace, God’s granting of repentance and faith? Surely not, but again, I do not possess knowledge of the identity of the elect. Hence, I can freely and properly proclaim the duty to repent and believe to all, knowing that those who do so will be those God has drawn to Himself. I find myself completely consistent with the Apostle who likewise said he endured all the trials and tribulations of the ministry “for the sake of the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10).

As I’ve said, this commentary by Dr. Allen, and the other j316 presenters, has been discussed by many, many folks – Timmy Brister has also put together a compilation of liveblogging links from calvinists who attended, as well. A cursory search will give you a wealth of commentary. My concern, as I’ve said, is that these noted SBC theologians seem to have an axe to grind. That axe, regardless of their protests to the contray, is an anti-calvinist one. Dr. Allen is on record as saying that “Should the Southern Baptist Convention move toward 5-point Calvinism, such a move would be away from, and not toward, the gospel.” (This was met with a standing ovation.) Now, although Dr. Allen’s insistence is that he is not an anti-calvinist – the reason he says this is as follows;

One of the overriding concerns throughout Ascol’s blog post is evidenced by the four times he identifies me (indirectly each time but clearly I am included) as “anti-Calvinist” (emphasis mine). This is simply false. I am not anti-Calvinist. … Neither is it accurate to portray my recent review of the book Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue or my John 3:16 presentation as “anti-Calvinist.” One must distinguish between being against people who hold certain theological views and disagreeing with the views those people hold. I am not against any Calvinist in the Southern Baptist Convention. I do believe that Calvinism, especially five-point Calvinism, is biblically and theologically flawed at certain points.

In my book review and presentation at the John 3:16 conference, I was at pains to show this. It is apparent to me that some Calvinists within and without the SBC simply will not brook any criticism of Calvinism. To do so in their minds is to be anti-Calvinist.

Let me also say that there are occasions where I am against what Calvinists do or don’t do because of what they believe. I referenced one or two such incidents toward the end of my John 3:16 paper as well as in my book review. Why should this be a problem since Calvinists likewise reciprocate here? In fact, is not this rejoinder the result of Dr. Ascol’s own criticism of my criticism whereby he takes exception to what I have done or have not done because of what I believe? I consider this to be an example of being too thin-skinned.

Also, would it be possible for anyone reading Ascol’s blog to come to the conclusion that he is anti-non-Calvinist or anti-Classical Arminian? I suspect some could, some would, and I know of some who have. Sauce for the goose.

News flash: This is equivocation. When we say one is “anti-calvinist” – we very much do mean that someone is against reformed theology. That someone opposse it. To equivocate, as if the statement somehow means that one is personally dead set against the inclusion of Calvinists, as persons, in the SBC, is absolutely ridiculous. In fact, I would have to say that Dr. Allen knows this very well. It was a cheap attempt to score points. Yes, we recognize that, Dr. Allen. Thank you so very much for your attempt to score points off of us with your supporters via condescension. Does Dr. Allen think that we won’t recognize such cheap tricks? If that is what he thinks, I sincerely hope he understands that we do, in fact, recognize such attempts for what they are. They certainly aren’t building any bridges. In fact, it simply propagates the contrary of his insistence that he has no personal animosity, when he makes such remarks. If one treats those one disagrees with such contempt for their understanding, one cannot be surprised if we respond as if he were being insulting. Frankly, if he doesn’t recognize it as insulting, that concerns me. What on earth is he teaching? While the personal dismissal is troubling, what troubles me more is the constant misrepresentation of the positions held by the men he defames. If this misrepresentation is so endemic – as Dr. White, Dr. Ascol, and others have shown – if his understanding of Reymond, Edwards, Owen, Calvin, not to mention Scripture itself, is that flawed – as has been shown by many in the Reformed faith – what on earth can we say other than what we are saying? Dr. Allen is either woefully ignorant – in which case, what is he doing teaching systematic theology? Or, Dr. Allen is being intentionally deceitful, by misrepresenting men of God. What else can we say? Did he not expect this response, when he penned his words for this talk? Did he not expect that those of the reformed faith would examine his words, and compare them to that of historical calvinists, modern calvinists? That those he criticized would not respond? We’ve done both – and we’ve found his comments woefully lacking in historical basis, understanding, and most especially, in any sort of Biblical foundation. Far be it from me to mince words – but in any sort of factual examination of his comments, they have no basis whatsoever in reality, these men’s comments, or in Scripture. This is why we comment so forcefully in our responses. His comments are an affront – not only to these precious men of God, but to the Scripture which we regard so highly. It’s not an attempt to “score points” – but to defend the Word, and the gospel we are commanded to preach. I exhort him to take that into consideration, and to examine his comments in light of Scripture, and not in light of Dr. Byrne’s conception of historic calvinism, which seem to greatly influence his comments.

Yes, I’m a bit perturbed. I’ll admit it. This does not, however, dismiss the fact that the speakers at the J316 conference are either intentionally misrepresenting the Reformed faith to attempt to “stem the tide” of young adherents to calvinism, or misunderstand our position so badly that they are simply firing darts into strawmen constructed of various and sundry piecemeal constructs with no real foundation in real, reformed theology. This insistence is not a new one. Men have been misrepresenting Fuller as an antagonist to Gill for quite a long time. Gill has been represented as a hyper-calvinist for a very long time. Owen, Turretin, and others have also been represented as hyper-calvinist. These representations, however, are simply not true, if you examine their works. You can see a consistent representation of historic, orthodox calvinism in all of the aforementioned men; and their affirmation of it’s doctrines has consistently led to the careful and painstakingly precise exegesis that is the hallmark of the reformed faith. To say otherwise is simply to anachronistically read your own free-will requiring principles back into historic calvinism. To cite Edwards’ Freedom of the Will to somehow affirm unlimited atonement is utterly baffling. To water Owen down in such a manner is simply amazing. To wrest Scripture to an affirmation of autonomous free will, I’m sorry, is just incredible. When you do even a cursory examination of the writings of both the historical and modern champions of human autonomy, and compare them to the historical and modern champions of God’s unquestioned, and incomparable sovereignty; there is simply no comparison whatsoever in the quality and consistency of argumentation. There is no difference in this discussion, either.

Friends, I’m just plain annoyed that this debate even exists in the SBC. That men are so self-deceived that they think that championing man’s autonomous free will, as practically every other apostate denomination does, is somehow an affirmation of Scripture, simply appalls me. If you don’t like the harshness of that comment – too bad. Sneer at the “unkind” tone all you like. I do love my brethren who disagree – but the love of the brethren is grounded in love of Scripture, first and foremost. If you reject the Word of God, and it’s position on the place of man, the place of your will, and the place of your own determination in your own salvation – if you persist in the Romish pursuit of decisional works in your own salvation – if you persist in the downright slander and libel of those who faithfully preach the word of God, for the sake of your desire to preserve the choice of man, while advocating the slavery of God’s will to the will of man – expect opposition. Expect opposition when you defame men who preach the gospel without fear or favor, to all men. Expect opposition when you condescendingly assume that those who were graciously brought to transformation of their mind, lovingly corrected of their conformation to the world in their embrasure of the sovereignty of their own wills, are simply ignorant of history, theology, and Scripture. Sirs, we are most decidedly not ignorant. If we were, we wouldn’t be objecting to the unfair usage of the historical calvinists whom we have read, love, and emulate, as they emulated Christ. Expect opposition when you paint the men who have done so much to teach us the Word out to be heretics, scripture-twisters, and the like. When you tell us that the gospel we preach is nothing of the sort. I beg to differ, sirs, and I expect your opposition when I say the following. “Open union with the people of God is most desirable. It would argue disloyalty in a soldier if he would not wear his regimentals, and refused to take his place in the ranks. True, he might fight alone, but it would probably turn out to be a sorry business. If God’s people will not be ashamed of us we need not be ashamed of them. I should not like to go into a public assembly disguised in the dress of a thief; I prefer my own clothes, and I cannot understand how Christians can bear themselves in the array of worldlings.” – C.H. Spurgeon I, Sirs, think very much that you are ashamed of us. Further, I feel that you are, in fact, ashamed of the Gospel.

Sirs, a gospel which presents sin as sickness, not death; a gospel which presents a foreseen work of faith as the sole, passive acknowledgment of God in salvation of sinners; a gospel which presents Christ as dying for the never-to-be-justified, along with those who will be justified; a gospel which presents the works of faith and repentance as the requirements for regeneration; a gospel which presents certainty of salvation as a nebulous (but still within the freely willed choice of man?) “seal”, but without the decretal, sovereign will of God as the complement to and surety for it – this is a gospel without power, and not the Gospel of Scripture. There is indeed a Gospel delivered once and for all to the saints. The gospel that was presented in this conference is nothing of the sort. You wonder why there was such a response? The response was due to the sub-biblical gospel presented, the dismissive manner in which the Scriptural Gospel was treated, and the frequent, cavalier, even reckless accusations thrown at ministers of the Gospel. First and foremost, the response engendered by the John 3:16 conference was instigated by the complete disregard for Scripture shown by those who spoke. Secondly, it was instigated by the insistence of the speakers to misrepresent and redefine reformed theology. Thirdly, it was instigated by the strange and acontextual cherry-picking of quotes from reformed theologians to substantiate the claims made by the speakers.

As has been shown, by many, many folks around the web, the conference was an unmitigated debacle. It has done nothing but polarize things further – I don’t really midn that, in some ways, because it shows what they really think, when they get together, but will not say in a conventional setting – only in conferences. I challenge Dr. Allen to discuss these things publicly, in a formal setting, with Dr. White, as he has been asked to. Let the SBC see your arguments for your position. Let Dr. Byrne, Dr. Yarnell, Dr. Allen, Dr. Land, Dr. Hunt, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Keathley, Dr. Vines, Dr. Stanley, and Dr. Caner debate these issues publicly, with their theological opponents in and out of the SBC. This was an All-Star conference, as I’ve said. If they truly feel, as Dr. Allen said, that “a move toward 5-point Calvinism is a move away from the Gospel” – let’s hash it out, instead of doing this conference-sniping. Instead of skirting around the issue, let’s get this issue concerning the Gospel out in the open, and freely discussed in public. Let’s debate it, instead of sniping from the opposing sides. If you are truly against the gospel preached by the reformed, then let’s see some real discussion of that, and discussion with the men you disagree with. Like myself. Let’s see, from Scripture, how your position stacks up. Debate it. Yes, yes, good men can disagree on it.

I’m tired of the pussyfooting around. Let’s start talking to each other, not past each other. I don’t need you to tell me what I believe. I need you to show me how what you beleive accords with Scripture. “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason … my conscience is captive to the Word of God.” ~ Luther

Here we stand, my friends. We can do no other.

I’ll leave you with something from the Prince of Preachers.

It has this singular virtue also—it is so coherent in all its parts. You cannot vanquish a Calvinist. You may think you can, but you cannot. The stones of the great doctrines so fit into each other, that the more pressure there is applied to remove them the more strenuously do they adhere. And you may mark, that you cannot receive one of these doctrines without believing all. Hold for instance that man is utterly depraved, and you draw the inference then that certainly if God has such a creature to deal with salvation must come from God alone, and if from him, the offended one, to an offending creature, then he has a right to give or withhold his mercy as he wills; you are this forced upon election, and when you have gotten that you have all: the others must follow. Some by putting the strain upon their judgments may manage to hold two or three points and not the rest, but sound logic I take it requires a man to hold the whole or reject the whole; the doctrines stand like soldiers in a square, presenting on every side a line of defence which it is hazardous to attack, but easy to maintain. And mark you, in these times when error is so rife and neology strives to be so rampant, it is no little thing to put into the hands of a young man a weapon which can slay his foe, which he can easily learn to handle, which he may grasp tenaciously, wield readily, and carry without fatigue; a weapon, I may add, which no rust can corrode and no blows can break, trenchant, and well annealed, a true Jerusalem blade of a temper fit for deeds of renown. The coherency of the parts, though it be of course but a trifle in comparison with other things, is not unimportant. And then, I add,—but this is the point my brethren will take up—it has this excellency, that it is scriptural, and that it is consistent with the experience of believers. Men generally grow more Calvinistic as they advance in years. Is not that a sign that the doctrine is right. As they are growing riper for heaven, as they are getting nearer to the rest that remaineth for the people of God, the soul longs to feed on the finest of the wheat, and abhors chaff and husks. And then, I add—and, in so doing, I would refute a calumny that has sometimes been urged,—this glorious truth has this excellency, that it produces the holiest of men. We can look back through all our annals, and say, to those who oppose us, you can mention no names of men more holy, more devoted, more loving, more generous than those which we can mention. The saints of our calendar, though uncanonized by Rome, rank first in the book of life. The names of Puritan needs only to be heard to constrain our reverence. Holiness had reached a height among them which is rare indeed, and well it might for they loved and lived the truth. And if you say that our doctrine is inimical to human liberty, we point you to Oliver Cromwell and to his brave Ironsides, Calvinists to a man. If you say, it leads to inaction, we point you to the Pilgrim Fathers and the wildernesses they subdued. We can put our finger upon every spot of land, the wide world o’er, and say, “Here was something done by a man who believed in God’s decrees; and, inasmuch as he did this, it is proof it did not make him inactive, it did not lull him to sloth.”
The better way, however of proving this point is for each of us who hold these truths, to be more prayerful, more watchful, more holy, more active than we have ever been before, and by so doing, we shall put to silence the gainsaying of foolish men. A living argument, is an argument which tells upon every man; we cannot deny what we see and feel. Be it ours, if aspersed and calumniated, to disprove it by a blameless life, and it shall yet come to pass, that our Church and its sentiments too shall come forth “Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.”

Our Source of Truth

I will say, from the outset, that this post will have political overtones – but only peripherally. I’m not much of a political pundit, but the recent election has served to show a very clear demarcation in worldviews – the subject addressed by this blog. My wife has a childhood friend that she’s kept up with, who tends very much toward a liberal viewpoint of Christianity, social issues, and moral issues. As I read her take on the election, I was a bit taken aback at a nominal Christian expressing such things about a man with such an obviously antithetical viewpoint to orthodox Christianity.

“It felt like a big moment. I could imagine being part of this massive wave of people, with hope burning in our hearts, having faith that this vote wasn’t a risk but a shout for desperately needed change. … I didn’t quite believe it until I turned the channel to CNN, where at least they had put the holograms away for a few minutes, and my heart opened wide to receive the truth, the beautiful truth shining like the sun in my eyes. It’s true. It’s good. It’s here. Thank God.”

Now, if you’ll pardon me for a moment, that looks… idolatrous. I really don’t know how else to put it. A mere man, no matter how powerful, is not worthy of such speech. I can’t pare it down to anything else. I’d like to – but I really can’t see how it’s anything else. “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” Can we reduce this to anything else? As I also quoted in my response, “Woe to those who call evil, good, and good, evil.” When you pair this with the fact that Obama has voted for late term abortion of babies, has in fact voted for the death of babies who somehow survive their abortions, supports so-called homosexual “marriage”, has ties to Islamic groups likeCAIR, sat under Rev. Wright, whose theology was discussed recently by both Dr. James White and myself, not to mention his varied ties to shady characters of every sort – I find it amazing, when we are told to not let immorality, impurity, or greed be even named among us!

Are we not told that …”although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them?” What then, is the Scriptural response to such an action? Hearty approval of those who practice such things? Are we to idolize such persons? Consider them to be the answer to our prayers for… hope and change? We cannot, are not, and must not! Yet, some who claim the name of Christ do so. Why is this?

The answer is simple – and it fits the purpose of this blog exactly. Presuppositions. Those who are thinking in such a way, are “children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” What, according to the next verse, is the antithesis to such a state? “… Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all {aspects} into Him who is the head, {even} Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

What further amazed me, was this comment on that post. “Just because you believe in someone’s right to choose to do something doesn’t mean you believe in that something they choose to do.” What is it we just talked about? What does Romans 1 warn us of? Those who give approval to such things. The argument that says sin should be allowed as a choice is specious on it’s face. Sin, my friends, is sin. Saying a certain sin is permissible shows something of our willingness to compromise the truth of God. Also, it shows what our view of truth really is. From where it is derived. Does that not sound likesubjectivism ? A relativistic view of man-derived truth, with no stable foundation? I can’t see it in any other way. The original poster, (in her request that I no longer comment on her blog) had this to say; “All I’m going to say here right now is that I continue to celebrate the difference of opinion we can have in our country. And that truly we are all different and I’d rather be accepting of that fact rather than spend time arguing, especially in the presence of people who don’t ascribe to our certain choice of belief. I don’t think we shed light by tossing Scripture (or Tertullian) back and forth between us.” She refers to the fact that I quoted Tertullian’s indictment (in his Apology) of the Roman practice of the abandonment of unwanted infants to the elements, and noted elsewhere that it made her think. I truly hope it did.. He also had a bit to say about abortion – and my point was that it was considered barbarous behavior 1800 years ago – yet we consider it somehow appropriate today. This is progress?

I’d like to examine the inherent presuppositions in her statement above. What I find interesting, first, is her equation of opinions to moral judgment. Is morality truly nothing more than an “opinion”, comparable to one’s like or dislike for, say, lemon meringue pie? Should the fact that people think morality is merely an opinion be celebrated? Then, take her next statement into consideration. Shall we, in fact, accept that simply because some people reject God, are hostile to God, and sin against God, this is ample excuse to refrain from casting down the strongholds we arecommanded to throw down, erected against the knowledge of God? Then, examine this innocuous-sounding phrase; “our certain choice of belief”. Ignoring, for a moment, that “certain”,definitionally, means “true, sure, settled” – certanus – do we really “choose” our belief? Is not faith a gift of God, as Scripture says? Do we, and I’ll be intentional – choose our epistemology as if choosing a hat? Isn’t that the very thing in contention? Whether it’s possible, whether we should? I think that we can find the crux of the matter right here. The underlying assumption is that we simply choose to believe this way – and others do not. Therefore, there is no inherent superiority to our belief – we just chose it, after all. It isn’t as if it’s intrinsically true. Therein lies the problem. This woman has ceded the grounds of truth to man, and removed it from the feet of God. She is not interested in God’s truth – at least not in practice. The last comment is particularly revealing as well.

“I don’t think we shed light by tossing Scripture (or Tertullian) back and forth between us.” This is a breathtakingly plain indictment of the grounds for her conception of truth. Scripture is not the only sure source of divinely revelatory truth to man, and for man. It is not the sole means whereby we mayknow God, and His requirements for us. It is merely something to be “tossed” – not “The Truth,” but merely “a truth” – for, and it is very apparent, there is no truth with a capital to her, and it saddens me to see it. I’ve been to her house, we’ve shared time together, and she’s been friends with my wife a decade and a half. She, however, is not seeing the Word as what it truly is. “the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left”.

The Word is our only source of truth – the Sword of the Spirit. Living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart, divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. That is what the Word is. I truly grieve that she does not see it as such – and she will see this post – and my hope is that she may, perhaps, be shown to the Word by it. I pray that thereby the Lord may open her eyes as to the nature of what she dismisses in favor of a merely temporal ruler, and for the opinions of men, who relegate the divine Word to merely another opinion. I’m sorry, but it’s anything but opinion. The Gospel – and the Word which proclaims it, that we may proclaim it in turn, is an exclusive Gospel. It is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. I can only pray, and I hope you pray with me, that all of the temporal fluff that obscures the truth of the Word’s centrality will be revealed to us all more and more – and to her most of all. We cannot compromise our view of Scripture, and subject it to mere opinion, as if it has no more worth than the bare estimation of man. Scripture is God-breathed, and we must treat it as such.

Well, I have to admit, it feels a bit like 3 years ago, yesterday. Big honkin’ hurricane in the Gulf, fear and agitation as people ponder their own helplessness in the face of the force of nature’s fury. The added weight, this time, of the memories of devastation, destruction, and loss of life. What is brought to mind most clearly at this time, however, is the fact that there are no accidents. There is nothing that is not the express will of God, or that is not His good and perfect will. With this thought in the forefront, we can only think one thing, when facing nature’s wrath.

This is our Father’s world. Do you really know, deep down in your heart of hearts, what the implications of this are? It’s truly a wonderful thing to behold. Not because I’m “smarter”, or more courageous. (As a side note, what else I find interesting is that our church is in the midst of a study of the book of Joshua, my namesake. What is the cardinal principle of this book? Be Strong and Courageous! Why? For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go!) When we look at all things through the prism of God’s glorification of Himself, and His promises to glorify Himself through us, can we submit to fear? Is it even an option for us to buckle beneath pressure, or bemoan our “fate”, as if God did not have a greater glory to involve us in, through it? I cannot imagine such a thing. I cannot wish such a thing. I cannot, because I know the God I serve. When faced with situations that threaten us, tempt us to ditch our faith, and abandon our hope, we can have only one response.

Joy. Does that sound strange to you? Perhaps it shouldn’t.

How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. ~ 2 Cor. 8;2

Didn’t we see that, after the last big storm?

Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” ~ Neh 8:10

Do you see, yet? What gives us strength?

But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You. ~ Psalm 5:11

Who is our shelter? What is the subject of the great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress”? Is this not the same principle?

For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands. ~Psalm 92:4

Even hurricanes are the work of God’s hands. I’ll repeat something I said a long time ago, and has stuck with me ever since.

During the hurricane, it was an adventure. The kind of adventure guys really do like, and don’t really care if anyone thinks they’re crazy for liking. The wind made the house shudder, and shake. The trees’ branches were snapping off right and left, making an awful racket. The rain was driving so hard that it really was painful, when it hit you. Small objects were flying past you at 70+ mph – and all you could do was hold on. I’ll confess – I loved it.

I’m not crazy. I’m a typical guy, I think. I never felt like I was in *real* danger. But I knew I could have been. Adrenaline makes you feel like a million bucks. It’s that feeling you get when you take a curve a hair too fast in a sports car, and get dangerously close to spinning out of it – but you don’t. Your heart races, your blood is pumping so loud in your ears… and you feel alive. Okay, maybe I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie.

Mostly, though, I was in awe of the display of God’s might. Not that this was a “judgment”, or anything. Just the fact that God’s creation is so breathtakingly powerful, and knowing that God created it. If this storm is this powerful… and God made it… what must God be like?

I spent a good bit of the time curled up on the porch, head on my knees, tears in my eyes, and my heart in my throat. I wasn’t scared. I don’t think i was ever scared once, to be honest. It was too freaking cool. I was praising God, all by myself. Just me, and God, in the middle of this mighty storm – and I was singing. Brokenly, but I was singing. It was that awesome. It’s truly an experience I really don’t quite know how to share. God was just… there. He was with me. I’m not going to say I felt His “special hand of protection on me” – although it may well have been. I just know God was present, because His children can always feel it. I can’t explain it any other way.

I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t even worried. I was awestruck by how unbelievably magnificent a thing that His power had wrought. I can’t really say I’d still say the same, had I sustained more damage. We had almost nothing damaged at all. All I know is – that hurricane, from the inside, was quite possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t help but fall down and praise. I just couldn’t. I hadn’t told anyone this story yet – not really. Bethany heard it, sort of. I don’t know if I got it across very well to her at the time. It seemed a bit odd a thing to share, really. It’s what happened, though. In the wake of all the devastation, all the pain, and all the loss – I almost feel bad saying I think it was so neat. The actual storm WAS neat. What it did wasn’t so neat. The storm itself… I have never seen anything like it, and likely never will again.

I got to sit and watch the ENTIRE thing from a dry place, I was safe, and I praised God.

I said that back in this post, in Dec. of ’05.

In the midst of a possible dervish of destruction – you know what? God is still in control of things. He’s still the Author and Finisher of our faith. He still has His hand on the tiller. He still “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb 1:3). Fear not!

There is a perfect purpose in the midst of these events, no matter whether we can see it or not. So, while I did do some preparation for the hurricane’s landfall in my area, I also know I can’t lose sight of the fact that there is no room for “a spirit of fear” in the heart of a Christian – only for power, and for love, and for a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). So, if you also find yourself in the path of a storm, or in the midst of difficulty; “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

I’ve live-blogged the last few hurricanes I’ve been around for – I’ll likely do the same with this one, as long as I can. I’m 8 miles north of the beach, same house as last time, and the same God is still my God 😀 Don’t worry. God’s in control, and His glory will be displayed in this. In the meantime, pray, meditate on His goodness, and even love this awesome display of might in His creation. I assure you – it is a powerful and blessed thing.

As usual, it’s been forever

Since I posted anything. Why? Well… I got a contract job that involved a LOT of driving, then I was encouraged to do a class on church history and apologetics, so I’ve been studying like mad, and then there’s also been the fact that i went camping the weekend before last, and I’m doing some remodeling work. I’ve been busy.

I’ve been listening to a really crazy amount of stuff lately. Over 125 hours of church/theological history lectures, from Dr. James White and Dr. Kurt Daniel, a LOT of Piper sermons (including some truly awesome ones on Andrew Fuller and Athanasius), and just… stuff. Lots of stuff.

Oh, and I have some pretty heavy reading coming my way soon, so I don’t expect to get out of my blogging rut, soon. By His Grace and For His Glory, Always Ready, Scripture Alone, and The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.

So, between that and the rest of the stuff I have going on – might be a big sparse around here.

As you may know…

I have a bit of an addiction to guitar music. I also have a bit of a thing for Pachelbel’s Canon.

Good stuff, man. Check it out.

HT: Reformers, Puritans, and a Geek

Short Fiction

Some of you may not be aware of the fact that I’ve written some short, science-fiction stories and vignettes. Would there be any interest in me posting them in a serial form here?

I may do it anyway, whether there is, or not. I thought I’d ask, though 😀

Long Time No See

No, it’s not about how long it’s been since I posted.

It’s about my daughter, Kaylie. I’ve mentioned her before – in this post. She’s now 7 years old. I haven’t seen her since November, 2001. Not once. I hadn’t talked to her since she was 3 years old.

I finally talked to her today. It was, ultimately, bittersweet. When you reach the day you’ve been yearning for, for years – and she speaks, offhandedly, about “her daddy”- and she isn’t talking about you; a little piece of you dies. A very well-buried piece, but a piece that hasn’t surfaced in a long time. You can kid yourself – you can be told that she calls someone else daddy – but until you hear it, you can lie to yourself.

I can’t lie to myself anymore. It hurts. It hurts so badly that I’d like to just curl up on the bed and got to sleep until morning. It’s only 6:30. It doesn’t matter. I still want to. Writing helps, sometimes. It lets you exorcise some of the things you can’t get your mind off of, and get back to a semblance of normalcy. I don’t know if it will help, but I might as well try.

Don’t get me wrong. I was ecstatic that I finally got to talk to her. I still am, really. It’s just heartbreaking. It’s that sucker punch that you don’t see coming, can’t fend off, and can’t escape. I’m just rambling now, I guess.

I’ll have to live with it. I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to enjoy it. I just have to love her.

I always have, always will, and do so with all my heart. One day I’ll hear her call me daddy again. Whether here, or in heaven, it will happen.

Yeah, I’m being a bit transparent today. I’ll live. I’ll even smile, later. I have a wife who loves me, and children around me.

There’s always that piece of my heart that resides wherever she does, though. She’s my firstborn, and her daddy’s little girl. Even if she doesn’t know it. That’ll have to be enough for me. God knows. God loves me. God is merciful. God have mercy on me, a sinner.

Maranathah.

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