Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Justin Taylor touches the emerging elephant and reports

Colossians Three Sixteen » New Attitue (Breakout: Justin Taylor):
Going only to the emergents to understand EM, says Taylor is like going to the personal ads. Everyone always says something like: “Hobbies included listening, long walks on the beach and giving people flowers.” No one says: “Hobbies are drinking a lot of Mountain Dew, staying up late to play video games and I have bad breath.” In order to get the full picture, we must seek input from all angles, not just the “personal ad” perspective.

Taylor lists a couple of different lists of “Four Things that EM is Concered With” One of the lists, taken from Wikipedia, the first list includes: 1) Authenticity, 2) Missional Living, 3) Narrative Theology, 4) Christlikeness and the second list taken from Emergent includes: 1) Commitment to God in the way of Jesus, 2) The church in all its forms, 3) Committed to God’s world and 4) Committed to one another. Notice that in all of these affirmations is the implicit charge that the “other people” don’t do these things.

Taylor rightly argues that EM cannot fully be understood apart from Postmodernism, which cannot be understood apart from Modernism, which in turn, cannot be understood apart from Premodernism. Broadly (VERY broadly) speaking, Taylor argues that Premodernism might be summarized in the word “supernatural,” Modernism in the word “scientific” and Postmodernism in the bumper sticker “Question Authority.” While these are admittedly oversimplified, they are at least somewhere to begin.

'Da Vinci' not as dangerous as 'Left Behind'? - (BP)

FIRST-PERSON: 'Da Vinci' not as dangerous as 'Left Behind'? - (BP): "The more I hear from emerging church leader Brian McLaren, the more I fear he is not competent to be a leader of God’s people. Recently, he commented on the error-ridden 'The Da Vinci Code' by saying, “Frankly, I don’t think it has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels.'

The problem with what McLaren says here is that he cannot (or will not) distinguish what is malignant from what is benign. No one goes to hell merely for believing dispensational premillenialism, a theology of the end times that is portrayed in the 'Left Behind' novels. Yet anyone who denies the deity of Jesus most certainly will, and this is precisely what is argued in 'The Da Vinci Code.'

You don’t have to like dispensational premillenialism to see that its teachings about the end times do not come anywhere close to the damning heresy reflected in 'The Da Vinci Code.' Any pastor that cannot (or will not) see that isn’t competent to hold the office."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More than a Fad: Understanding the Emerging Church

a fair-minded deconstruction of some faces of the emerging church...

Most obvious is the fact that a large percentage of our churches are still ill-prepared to minister to the growing population of postmodern people. When Emergent leaders argue that some of our traditional church practices are incomprehensible to them, we can’t always chalk it up to the antithesis between church and world. Sinful rebellion is certainly one, but not the only, reason they may recoil at our organs, pew pads, pledge cards, tracts and treatises—or even our “contemporary” praise choruses.

However we label this era, whether it’s postmodern, hyper-modern or post-postmodern, sweeping social and cultural changes are taking place in our world. For good or ill, many venerable sources of authority no longer hold the same degree of trust. Neo-paganism and other forms of Gnostic, syncretistic spirituality are quickly replacing secular humanism as Christianity’s biggest rival. The eternal Word will never lose its power, but we must still find ways to take it to our changing world.

There’s an old story attributed to Dwight L. Moody, who was once criticized for his methods of evangelism. He responded, “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” Reformed Christians may be right about how to reach new generations, but are we doing it? Are we seeking to rescue other professing Christians from the jaws of error? Are we willing to submit our own thinking to the scrutiny, correction, and ridicule that inevitably come from publicly joining the conversation?

Most important, are we building friendships with postmodern non-Christians, the type who bristle at the sight of steeple and pew? Do we even know such people? Are we bringing the gospel to them in dialogue, listening for their responses so we at least know they understand? And if they place their faith in Christ, are our churches prepared to embrace them without requiring a second conversion into a church culture that may have less to do with the gospel than we’re willing to admit?

Kerr’s Folly and Christian Bloggers

"We hope for. . . community But we often reward ... individuality...
We hope for. . . eternal perspective But we often reward ... focus on the trivial and ephermeral...
We hope for. . . wisdom But we often reward ... foolishness...
We hope for. . . depth and breadth of interest But we often reward ... shallowness and narrowness of concern...
We hope for. . . unity But we often reward ... division...
We hope for. . . faith, hope, and love But we often reward ... doubt, pessimism, and uncharitableness..."

Good warnings from Joe at the E.O.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day History

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, 'Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping' by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication 'To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead' (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee....

Thank you veterans.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Jesus' style

Our Contract with God
The ministry of Gayle Erwin and, consequently, Servant Quarters, is devoted to informing you about and expressing the Nature of Jesus. That Nature is best defined in a number of statements Jesus made about himself in response to apostolic arguments about what it meant to be greatest in the kingdom. That list has captured our lives and is the main focus of what we do and what this page is all about, which is why we consider ourselves under contract with God to give you this information. We now give you this list, formed from the Gospels and Philippians 2:5-11, as well as some other lists that have come out of the understanding of the Nature of Jesus:

The Nature of Jesus
  1. Servant
  2. Not Lord It over Others
  3. Lead by Example
  4. Humble
  5. As A Child
  6. As the Younger
  7. As the Least
  8. Last
  9. Used No Force on Us
  10. Was Not Driven by Selfish Ambition
  11. Made Himself of No Reputation
  12. Was Fully Human
  13. Obedient
  14. Unto Death
Everything we say, publish or do, we try to conform to this list. When we fail, forgive us, but at least know what our goal is. This list is also the core of the book, The Jesus Style.

Knowing this about Jesus opened our eyes to the incredible Grace of the Father, since Jesus said that when you had seen Him you had seen the Father. This initiated a search for the ways the Father had tried to reveal himself, just as Jesus did in the "Greatest in the Kingdom" teachings. What we found sent us into an orbit of joy and became the basis for the second book, The Father Style. We now give you God the Father's description of himself as found in Exodus 34:6:

The Nature of God the Father
  1. Compassionate
  2. Gracious
  3. Slow to Anger
  4. Abounding in Mercy
  5. Abounding in Faithfulness
  6. Maintaining Love to Thousands
  7. Forgiving Wickedness, Rebellion and Sin
  8. Punishing Only Those Who Hate Him
Since this awesome Nature of God the Father and the Son breathes grace and mercy, it only follows that the Holy Spirit would follow in the same pattern. Our research put us in permanent orbit as we discovered that the executive action of the Holy Spirit totally fulfilled the prophecies and Nature of Jesus. In fact, the lists of the action of the Holy Spirit seemed to explode with all the Father and Son were and became the core of the third book, The Spirit Style. We give those lists to you here:

Prophecies of Jesus about the Holy Spirit
  1. Comforter
  2. Abide, live with us forever
  3. Spirit of Truth
  4. Dwell in Us
  5. Teacher
  6. Testify of Jesus
  7. Convict World of Sin
  8. Convict World of Righteousness
  9. Convict World of Judgment
  10. Guide Us into All Truth
  11. Not Speak of Himself
  12. Show Us Things to Come
  13. Glorify Jesus
The Anointing of the Spirit
  1. Preach Good News to the Poor
  2. Heal the Brokenhearted
  3. Proclaim Freedom for the Captives
  4. Release from Darkness for Prisoners
  5. Proclaim the Season of God's Favor
  6. Day of Vengeance of our God
  7. Comfort All Who Mourn
  8. Provide for Those Who Grieve
  9. Beauty for Ashes
  10. Oil of Joy for Mourning
  11. Garment of Praise for the Spirit of Heaviness
  12. Trees of Righteousness, the Planting of the Lord
The Fruit of the Spirit
  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Patience
  5. Kindness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faithfulness
  8. Gentleness
  9. Self-control
The Giftings of God
  1. Wisdom
  2. Knowledge
  3. Faith
  4. Healing
  5. Miracles
  6. Prophecy
  7. Discernment
  8. Speaking in Tongues
  9. Interpretation of Tongues
  10. Apostles
  11. Prophets
  12. Evangelists
  13. Pastors
  14. Teachers
  15. Helpers
  16. Service
  17. Encouraging
  18. Contributing
  19. Leadership
  20. Mercy
As you can see, we have enough to keep us busy for this lifetime; however, if you choose not to look at any other pages of this web site, we strongly urge you to download these pages and get a fresh view of the awesome grace and mercy of our God and revel in the joy of knowledge of Him and relationship with Him.

Gayle D. Erwin

Boys on their bikes

This is the first time i've had the Mormon missionaries return. They were late for our first appointment, so i could only give them 10 minutes. Although I had been prepared with my King James Bible and book of Mormon, I misplaced it right before they arrived. So we chatted. I asked them about their views on salvation and heaven. I asked them what the benefits of embracing the LDS were. They answered a modern day prophet who speaks the words of God today and being with my family forever in the afterlife. They asked me what my views were on prophets. I replied that they were just as essential as any other gift in the church. The apostle Paul was an extremely important part of the church but no prophet. I asked them how they understand the gift of salvation. They were totally honest and said the gift needs to be worked for to the best of their abilities. And i appreciate the website linked today, by a commenter earlier, which uses the Book of Mormon and other Mormon resources to show the impossibility of salvation by works.

of Anyway, i told the boys they could come back the next day, although i'd be working on laying brick for a patio. They offered to help and i couldn't refuse. They showed up and we worked. They were enthusiastic and did a pretty good job. We made small talk and God talk. I kept pressing them on grace. I asked them if they had any favorite verses. they were caught off guard with that one. So they returned the question. I recited grace verses, Ephesian 2:8,9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, Not of works, lest any man should boast. (you have to use the King James with them. for once i was glad i memorized all these verses in King James when i was a kid.) and Titus 3:5 Not by worksrighteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; and Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

and i talked about what grace means to me, how i've tried to impress God with my works and failed miserably. i told them that being a father has enlarged my understanding of grace. i made the analogy of my kids' art works. they aren't rembrandts. in the same way, my works of righteousness are filthy rags before God, Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

All this happened while we worked. Then they had another appointment. I gave them some water to cool off, but i feel so bad because i didn't offer them use of my restroom. i asked them to come back again. they were agreeable, but i don't know if they were sincere. i hope they lay down their works and method and prophet. i hope they let go, and let God.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Chuck Smith Jr. responds

he comments in Andrew Jones's blog. TallSkinnyKiwi: The Chuck Smiths on Emergent Church. when it comes to blogs, don't neglect the comments....

"Now to be perfectly honest, I haven't belonged in the Calvary Chapel community for a long time. I identify with early Calvary Chapel (the culturally relevant, rock-n-roll worship, hippie church), but not as much with the institutionalized version today. I've stayed only because of my relationship to my father, whom I love and respect.

Calvary Chapel, as I perceive it is:
Fundamentalist--I am not
Dispensationalist--I am not
Anti-intellectualist (like the warning about not anything written by emergent leaders)--I am not
Primitivist--I am not

Officially, we have withdrawn from the Calvary Chapel affiliation, and for the very amicable reason that I (we) seek a breadth of relationships that CC is not willing to accommodate. For example, my close friendship with a Roman Catholic monk who died a few weeks ago. He was a wonderful person and spiritual mentor to me."

Funk's Koine Greek Grammar Online

it's incomplete but an amazing resource

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Born-Again Mormon Homepage

this stuff checks out. his beliefs are orthodox. yet he hangs out in mormon wards and desires to bring all of LDS to orthodoxy...

10 Questions for the Mormon

10 Questions for the Mormon: "#10 -Salvation-
According to classical Christianity, Jesus' finished work on the cross is sufficient to cover our sins – past, present, and future. We have merely to accept this atonement and the lordship of Christ by faith in order to find our places as adopted children of God. The works that we are to perform are merely a response to our salvation, not the cause of it. In Mormon theology, faith in Jesus seems only a start; works and obedience to law and temple rites seem to be an essential part of the road to exaltation, and the results are very much dependent on self-effort.
What is it that Jesus has done for you, and what remains for you to do? Why was it necessary for Him to do anything for you? If you are ultimately responsible for your fate, why can't you do it all? How well are you keeping the laws and living a virtuous life? Do you count even your impure thoughts, your general self-centeredness, and even those things done in carelessness and ignorance? What do you do with the mounting debt of your inevitable shortcomings? How can you know if you are acceptable before a perfectly holy God?"

The Way Out

The Way Out is a great collection for those whose worlds are ruptured by homosexuality, either their own or of someone dear. I think we all are affected by homosexuality, so i think everyone should learn how to love like or be loved by Jesus Christ.

Is Emergent the New Christian Left? Tony Jones responds to the critics

By his own words, i'd say "yes."

Thus, we have friends among us who think that small government, free market economies are the solution to poverty, and others who favor federal programs and higher taxes—honestly, this is an ongoing conversation within the Emergent friendship. But we all agree that something must be done about extreme poverty, especially in Africa.

Within Emergent are Texas Baptists who don't allow women to preach and New England lesbian Episcopal priests. We have Southern California YWAMers and Midwest Lutherans. We have those who hold to biblical inerrancy, and others trying to demythologize the scripture. We have environmental, peacenik lefties, 'crunchy cons,' and right wing hawks.

One commenter writes, "So, by your own description, what Emergent is not is a bunch of Christians. The only thing that you can pinpoint on which you agree is that "something must be done about extreme poverty, especially in Africa." That is not the definition of a Believer in Christ. So this is a "community" focused on conversation but not a body of believers."

Now Jones does end his first paragraph with this, "My Emergent friends, old and new, love Jesus and are robustly grappling their way into God's future. It seems to me that the two most important commitments that we in Emergent share are 1) we are ultimately hopeful about God's future, and 2) we are committed to moving forward together, as friends."

But if the Jesus they love doesn't make the lesbian pastors uncomfortable, he bears a strong resemblance to the Jesus of last century's liberal theology, all smiles, no judgements.

So what happens at a church that goes house to house?

this is short enough to quote in full....

Philip and Kim and family wake on Sunday morning. They snooze for a while and read the Sunday paper. Their three boys aged 9, 6 and 4 are playing together in the lounge. At about 8:30am they eat breakfast together and Mum quickly whips up some muffins to take for lunch at church. At just before 10:30 am the family jumps in the car and drives over to their friends the Jackson’s who are hosting and coordinating the meeting that week. When they arrive the kids run outside to play and the adults stand around and enjoy a nice brewed coffee.
For a while people hang around catching up and talking about how things are going. After a while the kids are called in and the adults and kids sit around the edge of the lounge (there is 18 people their today). Without opening his Bible, John begins to tell a story of the Prodigal son. After he finishes he asks every person what thing spoke to them the most out of the story. The kids share first because they can’t wait to tell, when they tell their truth he asks how they will apply that truth to their lives that week and who will they share the truth with. As the adults tackle their truths also the kids run off again.
When people have finished applying the prodigal son to their lives, Jane flicks on a song on the CD player and the adults enter into a time of worship and prayer, prophecy and intercession, words are brought, challenges and body ministry to one another. Jack then brings out some bread and a glass of wine, as the kids come back in and challenges people to not take it if they are not in unity with anyone else in the room. In the period of silence some begin to weep, God is doing something. People quietly walk up and take communion as they are ready. The smell of fresh bread wafts in to remind people that the pot luck lunch is ready. As music plays, people, eat, laugh, share and encourage one another. Someone asks about what’s happening to the money that’s being given. Someone reminds the church of a single mother whose father has just died. Over lunch everyone agrees to give her $500.00 out of the giving to help her fly to the funeral, several of the church gift another $200.00 to help her get there. Someone else enquires about how the support for the missionary in China is going and hears that the group is on target to raise $10 000 for that family in 12 months. As people start to head off, a person admits as he heads off that he is really struggling at the moment. Everyone stops tidying up and gathers around him, the Holy Spirit comes, powerful prayer, prophetic guidance and much love is shown. Finally Philip and Kin gather up the boys who don’t want to leave their friends. They arrive home at 2pm, but with lunch out of the way it’s time for a siesta on the Sabbath. A day for spiritually recharging the batteries and resting the body, that’s a perfect Sabbath day!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Humanure Handbook

the next level in composting

A Small Passive Solar House Using SIPs

lots of info by someone committed to a low environmental impact.

Pastor Chuck Smith denounces "Emerging Church" movement

this is a PDF file. here is the executive summary...

his concerns are
1- Jesus isn't presented as the exclusive way of salvation
2- soft on hell, warm to universalism
3- feelings can overrule facts
4- icons
5- fear of discomforting sinners
6- soft on homosexuality
7- yoga
8- lack of authority of the scriptures

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Truth In Love to Mormons

I haven't begun to explore this website yet, but this page of downloads has some excellent stuff in it, like this from their Winessing Summary.

Desired Outcome
Is it "To get Mormons out of the Mormon Church"?
Getting a Mormon out of the Mormon church, but not into Christ'sflock does no favor for the Mormon
Is it "First bring them out of the church, then bring them to faith"?
Ex-Mormons not already brought to faith often are hurt, angry, resentful and likely to become agnostic. They often reject all organized religion
Focusing on the errors of Mormonism is more likely to push them away, than bring them closer to Jesus
Or, "To bring Mormons to faith"?
Bible: No one can come to faith by logic
Only the power of God's Word can bring a person to faith
We need not convince Mormons of Mormonism's falsehoods to witness God's Word
Some of the boys on bikes in ties approached me on the way into the public library. I made an appointment for them to come over on Tuesday afternoon. I've tried many approaches with the boys, mostly confrontational on one angle or another, but I haven't focused on grace much. This site seems to fit the bill of what I want to do.

Friday, May 19, 2006

what if God was a DJ?

a neat mini-movie. i don't know if the director is a believer, but a neat 8 minute movie...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Bible Should Have 'Fiction' Disclaimer" !!!

"Lauer took the bull of controversy more directly by the horns when he interviewed the cast and director Howard today. Said Lauer:

'There have been calls from some religious groups, they wanted a disclaimer at the beginning of this movie saying it is fiction because one of the themes in the book really knocks Christianity right on its ear, if Christ survived the crucifixion, he did not die for our sins and therefore was not resurrected. What I'm saying is, people wanted this to say 'fiction, fiction, fiction'. How would you all have felt if there was a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie? Would it have been okay with you?'

There was a pause, and then famed British actor Ian McKellen [Gandalf of Lord of the Rings], piped up:

'Well, I've often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction. I mean, walking on water, it takes an act of faith. And I have faith in this movie. Not that it's true, not that it's factual, but that it's a jolly good story. And I think audiences are clever enough and bright enough to separate out fact and fiction, and discuss the thing after they've seen it.'

With the camera focused on McKellen, one could hear a distinctly nervous laugh in the background, seeming to come from either actor Tom Hanks or director Howard. McKellen's stunning bit of blasphemy is likely to test the adage that all publicity is good publicity."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Christianity Explored

this seems like a neat intro for pre-Christians, its not unlike Alpha, but does all classes from the Gospel of Mark. "The focus on Mark's Gospel, with its emphasis on who Jesus was, what his aims were, and what it means to follow him, makes Christianity Explored quite different."

Religion, but no church required - Religion, but no church required: "His parents did not attend church, so neither did he. But after his little sister brought home a copy of the New Testament from school, he read it and wanted to study it more.

So, under his parents' radar, he began attending an after-school Bible study group.

'They were afraid I was going to join a cult,' he says. 'Now, they get it.'

Zdero attended a formal church while at university in Kingston, but even there found himself drawn to organizing home Bible study sessions, and eventually left the church in favour of home worship.

He likes the idea that there are no leaders, though the unpaid hosts of the groups tend to act as facilitators of the discussion or suggest Bible passages to be read if no one else does.

Regional networks are organized to help home churches with logistical questions of how to organize a weekly gathering, and to pool resources for charity work such as helping developing countries or the disadvantaged closer to home, Zdero says.

But the networks make a point of not acting as spiritual guides, handing down spiritual interpretations or edicts, as might be expected from a church's central organization.

'Each home church remains a self-governing unit,' he says.

People are attracted to home churches because they allow people to explore their faith on their own terms, he says, with people who share their views. Costs are shared, but rarely add up to more than it would cost to have a few friends over for dessert once a week.

The size of the groups depends on the size of the home, says Zdero, adding that when a gathering gets too big it will split into smaller groups.

'Once you reach the limits of your living room, the question isn't `When do we start building?'' Zdero says.

'It's `Who is going to open up their living room?''"

Monday, May 15, 2006


Compass Direct: "AP reported on Wednesday (May 10) that all seven men had confessed to playing a role in the beheadings of the three Christian teenagers on October 29, 2005.

The men attacked four girls – Theresia Morangke, 15, Alfita Poliwo, 17, Yarni Sambue, 15, and Noviana Malewa, 15 – early in the morning as they walked to a Christian school in Poso district. The first three girls were beheaded; Malewa received serious injuries to her face and neck but survived the attack.

Malewa later described the attackers as six men wearing black shirts and masks, and said one of the men carried a two-way radio.

The girls’ heads were wrapped in black plastic bags; one was left on the steps of a church in nearby Kasiguncu village, and the other two near a police station five miles from Poso town. The bags contained a note stating in part, “We will murder 100 more Christian teenagers and their heads will be presented as presents.”

The men are also suspects in other violent attacks on Christians, including the murder of the Rev. Susianty Tinulele, 26, who was shot at the Effatah Church in Palu, Central Sulawesi, on July 18, 2004 by a gunman who entered the church wearing a mask. Four teenagers sitting outside the church were also injured in the attack."

INDIA: Pastor Hospitalized After Easter Service Attack

Christian Persecution Blog: INDIA: Pastor Hospitalized After Easter Service Attack: "VOM sources inside India report Pastor V.P. Paulouse’s church was raided by 15 mob members. While leading an Easter worship service and prayer meeting near Mangalore in Karnataka state, the church was raided by members reported to be from the Bajrang Dal (youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council). Entering the prayer hall with their faces covered, the extremists beat the pastor with cricket bats and also turned their assault on other believers, including his wife and daughters. The Hindu mob vandalized the hall’s furniture and equipment, worth more than 150,000 rupees ($3,500 U.S.).

The Bajrang Dal organized the attack because they do not want Christians in their area conducting prayer meetings. Pastor Paulouse’s ministry covers three villages in south Karnataka state. Despite Hindu opposition, he shepherds 60 believers in the region. He has been discharged from the hospital and his stitches were removed, but his doctor has told him to continue his bed rest. His cast remains on but should be removed sometime this month."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

How Important Is That Idea To You?

Ilona writes an intriguing intro to a book i've never heard of.
The book is “The Trinity and Subordinationism The Doctrine of God & the Gender Debate” by Kevin Giles. My latest post @ truegrit introduces some of the premises and explains my way of approaching the scriptures. But the book itself brings up not only big questions, but undergirds many of the things built into me from an early age. Being brought up Presbyterian, the Nicene Creed was like the singing of the doxology, almost welded to my DNA . But as Giles brings up in his book, the concept of the Trinity, or trinitarianism, as theology was largely neglected from that flurry of debate in those early centuries until only recently. Except for witnessing to cult members- who have twisted ideas of Jesus, I hadn't given lots of thought, nor heard much teaching, on the Godhead.

There are reasons in the culture that we need to look at some of this doctrine, including many of the points that Giles raises in his book. Among these is that
the emphasis upon ideas of the subordination of women resurrects the Arian heresy. The problems involved in ideas of permanent subordination, not only in the view of slavery, but in the view of the Trinity, and specifically of Christ.

Everybody Fatwa!

A commenter critical of Christians in India pointed to an article, which this blog, Sepia Mutiny, discusses. The article in the Hindustan Times (free reg) says
HAVING INFLAMED passions and sparked heated debates across the globe, Da Vinci Code is set for a run-in with controversy in India. Days before the film based on Dan Brown's bestseller hits cinemas in the country, the Catholic Social Forum has called people of all faiths in Mumbai to fast unto death from May 12 if the government fails to ban
the "anti-Christian" film. If that were not enough, a former corporator Nicholas Almeida, has done a Haji Qureishi, announcing a reward of Rs 11 lakh for anyone who "brings the author dead or alive
before him".
BBC version of article, India Catholics target Da Vinci.

The commenter writes,
In India, the Catholic faithful are going further . In Bombay, demonstrations call for the banning of the movie, and one former city official has even gone so far as to put a bounty on Dan Brown's head:
It would be interesting to read blogger's articulated response and bragging about chrisitan way of peaceful "aggression".
So here is my response. the Catholics are calling for a "fast unto death" and a former city official is willing to pay for Dan Brown's audience, dead or alive, similar to a Mr. Haji Qureishi, who wanted the Danish cartoonists killed (with a reward as incentive). Now the article doesn't say the former official is a member of this Catholic society.

The article goes onto say, "The forum expects over 2,000 Christians for its "prayer crusade" at Cannosa Convent in Mahim on May 10 where they plan to burn effigies of Dan Brown and show some of the objectionable clippings of Tickle My Funny Bone — the other movie they are protesting against."

If there are news articles reporting this event on May 10th, especially the effigy burning, please send it to me.

I have to acknowledge that some believers are more mature than others and believe the Bible when it says about our war in 2 Corinthians 10 "3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." We wage our war against arguments and pretensions not people and not with physical weapons. Ephesians 6:12 adds "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." So for the believer in Jesus, who obeys him, we don't physically struggle against our fellow humans, but against their anti-Christ arguments, including Dan Brown's, with truth and logic and persuasion and prayer. Prayer is key, because only the Holy Spirit can ultimately bring about change in our opponents' hearts. We want to win them to our side, not send them to eternal destruction, but woo them to eternal life.

Although extreme to my ears, if these Catholics want to fast, which is part of prayer, until they die, in protest of this blasphemous movie they are not being violent against anyone. If, and this is a big "IF," they burn an effigy, they are making an attention gathering statement, but again they have not acted violently. George Bush gets burned in effigy all the time around the world. It's done so much its shocking effect is mostly worn off. If one guy, who may or may not be a Catholic, puts a price on Dan Brown's head, the guy would be put in jail in this country. If he is a believer, hopefully, someone will show him some passages in the New Testament to enlighten him on Jesus' method.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Is Nehemiah 8 the Model?

At Theological Musings: Preaching in the Church -- Is Nehemiah 8 the Model? Steve Sensenig calls to the carpet dreadful high-church eisegesis of Ezra's reading of the Law to the returned exiles. I agree with Steve that it is poor form to equate being on a platform with an authoritative posture. Ick!
I've talked about this passage before, and later concluded that maybe i was really talking about a multi-"simple church" meeting, a different kind of hybrid. But I'm drawn back somewhat to this hybrid.

defining spiritual abuse

There is so much good stuff in this post i can't help but quote most of it. Go there and read the rest and his interaction with the commenters.-jpu
I realize that this definition of spiritual abuse could still be seen as quite broad. In the interest of clarifying the content of what might be considered as spiritual abuse, I suggest that spiritual abuse be identified as having four distinctives:

1) It distorts Transcendent relationality – Spiritual abuse is comprised of effort that damages, perverts and/or hinders one’s understanding of and relationship with God. (See, Soulcraft, How God Shapes Us Through Relationships by Douglas D. Webster.)

2) It strikes at the core of who we are – Most basic to our being or essence is that we are designed to be God-centered. Spiritual abuse encourages one to make something or someone the idolatrous center of one’s being, thus falsifying what it means to be made in the image of God. (See Being Human, The Nature of Spiritual Experience by Ranald Macaulay & Jerram Barrs.)

3) It is systemically behaviorally dysfunctional – Spiritual abuse does not take place in an environmental vacuum, but requires a social context that is highly dysfunctional in character. In theological and sociological concepts, what is required is a “fallen world” expressed in a distortion of rules, roles and personal boundaries. Very little of depth and quality has been written regarding the place of theological foundations specifically within a social context. (Perhaps the best book currently in print on this topic is, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen.)

4) It contains two essential theological errors –

a. Abuse of authority is a primary characteristic found within spiritually abusive systems. (Luke 22: 24-27; I Pet. 5:3; Luke 11:39-52 - See Shepherd & Sheep, a Biblical View of Leading and Following by Jerram Barrs.) This error is yet dependent upon a more basic false belief.

b. An inadequate view of what constitutes authentic spirituality – False spirituality is defined as a way of life lived out, both internally and externally, in contradiction to a Christian Worldview. (Col.3:1-17; I John 1:5-10; Matt. 5-7; Matt.22:36-40 - See, True Spirituality by Francis A. Schaeffer.)

These four distinctives are both inter-relational and inter-dependent. I find it quite helpful in discussing this topic, to include both theological and behavioral components. Spiritual abuse, presents itself ultimately as a systemic package. Consequently, the nature of the healing process from this type of abuse requires considerable time and thought, ideally presented holistically. Consequently, abbreviated, simplistic bumper-sticker answers to the scars and pain of spiritual abuse are not sufficient. Because people are of immense value to God, when people ask serious questions, they deserve serious and thoughtful answers.

Books and Bucks

My wife recounts her recent used book store exploits at the Smart Mom Blog: Books and Bucks: "Today I spent a serendipitous afternoon at my favorite used bookstore. It was quiet there. I saved a bundle on schoolbooks for next year. We even got to have a yummy snack and visit some animals. I left feeling thankful and thrifty."

book report - Sacred Marriage

Your marriage is more than a sacred covenant with another person. It is a spiritual discipline designed to help you know God better, trust him more fully, and love him more deeply.

Scores of books have been written that offer guidance for building the marriage of your dreams. But what if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy . . . but holy? And what if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God?

Gary Thomas challenges us to think like Christians instead of Americans. I am grateful for this. The book is not a page turner. For me, it was more devotional. His love of ancient Christian writers is blatant in this book. His appeal to them adds credibility to his topic, which someone who wrote the book after only 15 years of marriage lacked in my eyes. I'm coming up on 12 years of marriage, and i don't feel i have much to offer if i wrote a book. His writing is dense and not breezy or fluffy. i am grateful for a serious book on marriage, but it took almost a year to read it. it will help some insomniacs. reading a section or two before going to sleep is not a bad way to digest this book. each section is dense enough to stand on its own. this reads like thirteen booklets instead of one book. it provides a needed correction in the american consumer Christian culture. i recommend it to everyone, married or not yet or had been.

book report: The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln

i finally finished this monster. it was excellent. i think Jefferson Davis's memoirs after being let off the hook for his rebellion disprove the post-modern decree that the victors get to write the history. when actual history is read, anything before JD that is, his claims that the southern rebellion was about anything other than the preservation of slavery are beyond absurd. southern disunionists were making a case for secession before Lincoln began campaigning for the presidency. they were upset that the union was resisting the acceptance of Nebraska as a free state. they were clamoring for the right to bring in their slaves to free states and retain their property despite an individual state's laws. in fact the immoral Dred Scott decision by the Taney court was an entirely anti-states' rights decision. Taney ruled that the illegality of slavery in other states did not make a slave free when passing through such states.

The Court ruled that:

not to mention the slimey back door, underhanded, improper pressure that the incoming President-elect put on a resistant Justice.

After the November vote, President-elect Buchanan wrote to his friend, Supreme Court Justice John Catron, asking whether the case would be decided before his inauguration in March. Buchanan hoped the decision would quell unrest in the country over the slavery issue by issuing a decision that put the future of slavery beyond the realm of political debate.

Buchanan later pressured Justice Grier, a Northerner, to join the Southern majority to prevent the appearance that the decision was made along sectional lines. By present-day standards, any such correspondence would be considered improper ex parte contact with a court; even under the more lenient standards of that century, political pressure applied on a member of a sitting court would have been seen as improper.

states' rights were already overruled by the fugitive slave law of 1850 that allowed slave catchers to demand free state assistance in the capture and return of escaped slaves.

A major cause of conflict between the Southern slave states and the Northern free states was the lack of assistance given by northerners to southern slave-owners and their agents seeking to recapture escaped slaves. (See Underground railroad.) In 1842 the Supreme Court had ruled in the Prigg v. Pennsylvania case that states did not have to proffer aid in the hunting or recapture of slaves, and in some areas locals had actively fought attempts to seize black fugitives and return them to the South. Some northern states passed personal-liberty laws mandating a jury trial before alleged slaves could be moved; others forbade the use of local jails or the assistance of state officials in the process of arrest or return.

In response, the Fugitive Slave Bill of 1850 made any federal marshal or other official who did not arrest an alleged runaway slave liable to a fine of $1,000. Law-enforcement officials everywhere in the United States now had a duty to arrest anyone suspected of being a runaway slave on no more evidence than a claimant's sworn testimony of ownership. The suspected slave could not ask for a jury trial or testify on his or her own behalf. In addition, any person aiding a runaway slave by providing food or shelter was to be subject to six months' imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. Officers capturing a fugitive slave were entitled to a fee for their work.

In fact the Fugitive Slave Law brought the issue home to anti-slavery citizens in the North, since it made them and their institutions responsible for enforcing slavery. Even moderate abolitionists were now faced with the immediate choice of defying what they believed an unjust law or breaking with their own conscience and belief. The case of Anthony Burns fell under this statute.

Wilentz asserts that the slavocrats intentionally broke from the Northern democrats to allow the Republican, Lincoln, to win and cause a popular reaction in the south which they could exploit for secession. he tells us that Lincoln was not even placed on the ballots in 10 southern states. why anyone today would appeal to the good times of the south is beyond me. it was an aristocracy ruled by the enlightened, landed, slave-owners. Political offices were not available to the average yeoman or poor farmer without slaves. Democracy of the masses was considered a mobocracy and not something to be brought to the South.

the book is worth the read. don't believe that the Civil War wasn't about slavery. learn about history. now the book is not only about political evolution between the secession from England and the attempted secession of the south, but slavery was always a background issue. i appreciate Wilentz's consideration of the political ramifications of the great revivals in the US, both of which contributed to the anti-slavery movement.

i also think the American anti-abortion movement has much to learn from Lincoln. although he agreed to abide by the nation's laws, including the Fugitive Slave Act, he never stopped calling slavery evil, and something that could not be allowed to expand. he continually appealed to the founding fathers' conviction that slavery had to disappear. i don't think anti-abortion politicians should shy from calling abortion evil. it rankles the opponent, and doesn't make for comfortable dinner conversation, but the murder of innocent and helpless people can not be up for compromise.

Da Vinci and McLaren

The Problem With Kevin: Da Vinci and McLaren: "In a recent interview with Sojourners (a pseudo-Christian far-left magazine with growing appeal), Brian McLaren describes the appeal of The Da Vinci Code (bestselling literary dreck appealing to the lowest common denominator). Find it here.

In an answer to a question as to why this book has achieved such popularity, McLaren has this to say:

'I think a lot of people have read the book, not just as a popular page-turner but also as an experience in shared frustration with status-quo, male-dominated, power-oriented, cover-up-prone organized Christian religion. We need to ask ourselves why the vision of Jesus hinted at in Dan Brown's book is more interesting, attractive, and intriguing to these people than the standard vision of Jesus they hear about in church.'

This is nonsense. The reason this vision of Christ is so intriguing is that it allows people to believe that Christ was just some nice dude. Of course, the notion that Christ is just some nice dude is appealing because it doesn't require anything of us.

So we have a book that requires nothing intellectually or spiritually. Sounds likes the makings of a hit in the U.S.

McLaren is correct that people are fed up with the status quo, and the antics of the Catholic church have certainly been outrageous. However, there exist a number of well-attended, well-supported Christian churches that have nothing to do with the status quo, pedophilia, the 'religious right', or any of the other bogeyman McLaren is so bent on attacking.

Brian McLaren rose to prominence by stepping back, approaching scripture from a fresh persepective, and sharing that perspective, however controversial. His first major book 'A New Kind of Christian' helped to solidify what I believe about Christ and what I am to do in obeying him.

Since that time, however, McLaren has become embroiled in a battle with borderline strawmen. He can barely make it through an interview without evoking tired rhetoric about Pat Robertson and televangelists, as though they are the thought leaders of the modern church. "

There is more at this post, and nothing that other bloggers have been criticizing him for.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

transition of church leadership

Start with this article.Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Religion:
Few things create more anxiety for a church than having to find a new pastor. Most congregations don't like to think about it, much less plan for it.

It's inevitable, of course, that pastors eventually will leave – whether they move, retire or die. Being unprepared for that day can cause chaos for those charged with finding a new leader. It can create rough sledding for whoever gets the job. It can even endanger the stability of a successful church. In particular, megachurches built on the personality of a dynamic preacher are at risk when that pastor departs, say church consultants. Imagine Saddleback Church without Rick Warren, or the Potter's House without T.D. Jakes.

Many churches don't realize they're 'a heartbeat away from coming undone,' said J. Russell Crabtree, a church consultant in Ohio and co-author of The Elephant in the Boardroom, a book that encourages churches to plan for a smooth pastoral transition.

One of the best-known cases of a transition gone awry was at First Baptist Church in Dallas in the early 1990s. The downtown landmark at the time was the largest Southern Baptist church in the world.

W.A. Criswell, First Baptist's pastor for almost 50 years, announced that he was ready to step down. In November 1990 the church appointed Joel Gregory as his successor.

But within two years, Dr. Gregory quit, saying he'd been misled. He said he expected Dr. Criswell to step aside right away. Instead, the white-haired pastor hung around – and cast a very long shadow.

Dr. Criswell, who has since died, said at the time that he never promised to turn over the reins immediately.

Two years after leaving – and after divorcing his wife of 26 years and marrying a woman who'd worked at First Baptist – Dr. Gregory made headlines with a book, Too Great a Temptation: The Seductive Power of America's Super Church, which chronicled the power struggles at First Baptist

after you read all this, read this article about problems at a mega-church in New Mexico, that i've actually visited, and is part of my church affiliation.

Members of one of the largest churches in New Mexico are fighting to bring accountability to church elders who they believe are mishandling church property, misusing their authority, and covering up misbehavior.

Two groups formed after Pete Nelson resigned in February as senior pastor of the 14,000-member Calvary of Albuquerque, affiliated with the Calvary Chapel network of 1,300 independent churches, mostly in the West and Southwest. Nelson said he wanted "to pastor and lead a church and to be accountable to that local church." He was unable to do that with the "current structure" at Calvary of Albuquerque.

Nelson's sudden announcement on a Sunday morning took church members and staff by surprise. Nelson has not been in touch with the congregation or spoken publicly since he left. But it wasn't Nelson's disappearance that shocked them. Nelson's resignation letter, which was leaked to the press, alleged the church's former pastor Skip Heitzig was exercising behind the scenes control two years after he had left to pastor another Calvary church in California.

Heitzig had retained his position as chair of Calvary of Albuquerque's elders board, which included a significant number who did not live in Albuquerque. These were all loyal to Heitzig. According to Nelson's letter, Heitzig, as chair, forced off or blocked local church members from joining the elders board. Heitzig did not return calls requesting comment. Assistant Pastor Chip Lusko told CT, "I think there were some inaccurate facts in his resignation letter." However, he declined to comment specifically.

it gets worse. transitions are so messy, in any organization. the books mentioned in the DMN piece look good. there is another transition that appears to have gone well and that is at Willow Creek. how did they do it? Maybe part of it is here
“I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching what the Bible says about how the church should be led,” says Steve Bartz, who has been an Elder for 15 years and also helps other churches better understand the biblical role of Elders. “Looking at the New Testament principles of church leadership, a central theme is that the church needs to be led by a plurality of godly leaders.”

The key word: plurality.

“If you study the history of governments, corporations, and ‘religious’ organizations, the effect of the concentration of power in one individual can range from ineffectiveness to corruption and ruin,” Steve says.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pastors and Worldliness -- Then versus Now

yikes! that's all i have to say...this is the intro. click the link to read the quotes in apposition.

"One of the reasons that worldliness is rampant in today's church, is the lowering of standards for pastors. These days anyone can start a church, even if they have no seminary training, minimal bible knowledge, and even if they exhibit questionable personal behavior. The required ingredients seem to be zeal and enough charisma to captivate a crowd. Here's a look at the worldly standards of some pastors today as compared to pastors of centuries-past.

An interesting gauge for measuring worldliness is a pastor's usage and attitude towards his free time. What follows is not intended to be a thorough examination, nor is it intended to be a condemnation of all forms of recreation and relaxation. But it is an interesting comparison of the attitudes and practices of pastors, from both now and then (in past centuries).

Demonstrating the standards of centuries gone by, I've selected some excerpts from the writings of two head pastors, from the 18th century (Jonathan Edwards), and the 17th century (Richard Baxter). I believe these men to be representative of the morality standards of their day.

Representing the new breed of pastors, I've selected some excerpts from the public blogs of two of today's head pastors: church planter - Gary Lamb, and mega-church founder Perry Noble. I do not believe that these men are extreme cases, but rather - are representative of seeker-driven innovative church pastors in their age category. It's worth noting that more extreme cases could be found by sampling the public statements of (postmodern) Emerging Church pastors instead."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Scripture-Engaging Lincoln

Lincoln: A life of Purpose and Power gets a thumbs up at CT.

"Although this book does not concentrate on religion as such, Carwardine provides a perceptive account of Lincoln's lifelong engagement with Scripture and his trust in mysterious Providence that grew during his years in the White House. He also explains better than any other historian why Lincoln's not-quite-Christian personal beliefs fit so well with the evangelical Protestant energy of the Whig and Republican parties that put him into power. The result, taken in the round, is the best book on Lincoln since Allen Guelzo's superb Redeemer President (1999). These two are simply as good as it gets."

two ways to live : the choice we all face

two ways to live : : the choice we all face; its like the 4 spiritual laws but with powerpoint graphics...
there's nothing wrong with elegance

from Jefferson to Lincoln

It has taken me too long to read this massive book, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, but I’m almost done and want to share a few quotes for your reflection. The reviews at Amazon are helpful except for the one negative reviewer.

p.381 But [President] Jackson was not content to refute the nullifiers’ reasoning on the tariff. He wanted to destroy the philosophical and political foundations of nullification itself. Once again he focused on the key issue: Calhoun’s theories of the Union and undivided state sovereignty. Those theories, Jackson charged, were recent inventions, unanticipated by the Framers and ratifiers of the Constitution. Laws whose effects were far more controversial than the ones currently at issue - the whiskey excise law in the 17990s, Jefferson’s embargo - had been deemed unconstitutional by a majority in one or more states, “but, fortunately, none of those States discovered that they had theright now claimed by South Carolina.”
Calhoun’s invention, Jackson proclaimed, was nothing more than a fraud wrapped inside an absurdity, produced by “{m}etaphysical subtlety, in pursuit of an impracticable theory.” The nation, Jackson instructed, was not created by sovereign state governments when the several states approved the Constitution. In fact, the nation was older than both the Constitution and the states. Before 1776, “we were known in our aggregate character as the United Colonies of America.” The Declaration of Independence was promulgated by the nation before the state governments (save those of New Hampshire and Virginia) were even organized. Even the highly imperfect Articles of Confederation included a provision that “every State shall abide by the determinations of Congress on all questions which by that Confederation should be submitted to them.” When framed and ratified “to form a more perfect union,” the Constitution became a new framework for an already existing nation. “The Constitution of the United States…forms a government, not a league,” Jackson concluded. Although the states retained all powers not delegated by the Constitution to the federal government, the federal government retained its complete sovereignty in those delegated areas. Any state’s denial of that sovereignty – based on the underlying absurd supposition that “the United States are not a nation” – would injure the entire Union. Thus Jackson smashed the logic behind nulligication. The politics of the great Calhoun? Hogwash.

pp.588-589 Although [slave holder, Washington College President and Reverend] Ruffner offered old arguments, he modified them with a Whiggish economic utilitarianism that was also appearing in northern antislavery newspapers and pamphlets. Slavery, Ruffner charged, not only propped up the artificial minority rule of the eastern planters; it was pernicious because it dishonored all labor and hampered economic development. Armed with the latest federal census statistics, Ruffner showed that based on all important indices – free population growth, agricultural productivity, commercial prosperity, the spread of common schools and public education – the slaveholding states lagged far behind the free states. “What has done this world of desolation? Not war; not pestilience,” Ruffner declared, “not oppression of rulers, civil or ecclesiastical; - but slavery, a curse more destructive in its effects than all of them.” In the impending struggle for her rights and prosperity, Ruffner concluded, western Virginia had to press beyond constitutional reform and get to the root of its oppression by completing slavery’s gradual destruction. (ca. 1847)

p.639-670 On March 4 [1850], the dying John C. Calhoun sat at his desk, wrapped in flannels, his eyes blazing from behind pale and hollowed cheeks, as his friend Senator James Mason of Virginia, chief sponsor of the new bill on fugitive slaves, read aloud his prepared remarks. Here was hard-line pro-slavery incarnate, grim and unyielding. The primary reason for the current discord, Calhoun’s test asserted, was Congress’s long-standing and systematic promotion of national legislation favorable to the North. The Northwest Ordinance and then the Missouri Compromise had prevented the South from occupying vast new tracts of land. Tariffs and internal improvements had enriched northern business at the direct expense of the South. The oppression would end only if the North ceased its aggression. The South must have equal access to western territories; all criticism of slavery must cease; a new law had to be enacted providing for the swift return of runaway slaves to their owners; and the nation had to ratify a constitutional amendment that, according to Calhoun’s vague description, ,would “restore to the South, in substance, the power she possessed of protecting herself before the equilibrium between the two sections was destroyed.”
Calhoun almost certainly envisaged, as the heart of any constitutional amendment, a proposal he had developed in his manuscript “Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States” (which, like his “Disquisition,” would not be published until after his death) institutionalizing his concept of the concurrent majority by establishing two presidents, one northern and one southern, each with the power to veto congressional legislation. The proposal was as far-fetched as the rest of his speech was devious. One would never guess from Calhoun’s syllogisms of oppression that he had supported not only the Missouri Compromise but also, early on and emphatically, the kids of tariff and improvement legislation he now denounced as evil. One would never guess that anybody lived in the South except for slaves and slaveholders – and that the majority of white southerners, slaveless, were not barred from taking one bit of their property into the western territories. One would never guess that if any portion of the Union enjoyed an artificial subsidy of federal power, it was the slave states, whose representation in the House, the Electoral college, and the parties’ national nominating conventions was greatly inflated thanks to the three-fifths clause – an arrangement which, in turn, had helped ensure that eight of the first twelve presidents of the United States, including the incumbent, were slaveholders. None of these evasions was new – but Calhoun’s urgency and disunionist hints gave his remarks a foreboding power. The choice was simple, Calhoun said: were California admitted as a free state, either under Taylor’s plan or Clay’s, the southern states could no longer “remain honorably and safely in the Union.”

p.703 Republican leaders proclaimed the virtues of northern free-labor society, which, they asserted, were under siege by the slaveholders and the Democratic Party – “[i]ts Democracy …a lie, a cheat, and a delusion,” one Republican editor declared. Above all else, they presented the Slave Power as a forceful and growing threat, “an aristocratic oligarchy” which would force “the twenty millions of freemen [to] surrender their dearest privileges at the ipse dixit of 347,000 slaveholder.”

p.705 As Seward remarked, the events of the mid-1850s threw into sharp relief how two different democracies, shaped by slavery, had arisen within the same nation. Although some southern franchises and systems of representation were, in fact, more equal than others, slaveholders, and normally wealthy slaveholders, held a commanding power in the courts and legislatures throughout the South. By contrast, power was more dispersed in most of the North, where ordinary farmers and even wage earners not only voted but also held state offices. Southern politics could brook no open criticism of slavery for fear of destabilizing the system; northerners were free to write and say whatever they wanted about any political subject. In Kansas, upholders of southern-style popular sovereignty had flagrantly rigged elections, violently seized control of polling places, and turned democracy into a mockery – and had gained federal sanction from a doughface Democrat bullied into compliance by Slave Power congressmen and cabinet members. When an elected northern Republican had the temerity to call the bullies to account, one of them cut him down and beat him mercilessly on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

High Gas Prices are Good

High Gas Prices are Good - Acton Institute PowerBlog:
Even so, the inconvenience does have the ability to change people’s behavior, and this is why I’m making the argument that high gas prices have the potential to be a good, albeit a costly one (so to speak). People might drive less, carpool more, walk to the corner store instead of driving, and so on.

But an even bigger point is this: as gas prices rise the cost relative to other forms of energy is bound to decrease. This is why so many environmental advocates have long been arguing in favor of some sort of hefty additional petroleum products tax, which would make other sources of energy more competitive.

But what so many fail to see is that the market can accomplish by itself what such artificial and authoritarian measures are intended to do. Clearly the price we pay at the gas pump includes a huge amount by way of taxes to the various levels of government. But when gas prices rise without an increase in the amount of government taxation, the market itself is making other cleaner and renewable sources of energy more competitive.

Personally, I ride my bike to work as many days as i can. it's raining and only 55F today so i wimped out.

Deadwood in the Pews

the evangelical outpost: Deadwood in the Pews:
The Trouble with Church
"no matter where I go there is always one idiot who ruins the experience for me. They think they know more theology than the pastor or believe they would do a better job leading worship than the music minister. They are invariably unfriendly, judgmental, hypocritical, and more than a little bit smug. Every church I go to I find a fool like that and so I shop around trying to find one that won’t let someone like that join their ranks. But he’s always there. No matter what I do I can’t shake him. Because that guy is me.

So I have to admit that I don't like church. I'd rather sleep in on Sunday mornings. I'd rather follow my own path. I'd rather excuse myself from public worship until I can 'get right with the Lord.' But I can't do that. Church is where I belong...

Why am I so dumb that I expect the church to be something its not? Why can’t I recognize that the trouble with the church is that it accepts sinners like me? If they excluded the people who could ruin it church might be a better plae. But it would also be empty.

As Peterson says, there’s no other place to be a Christian. I may not like church but it’s where God wants me to be. And though I may be nothing more than deadwood in the pews, I’ll still be there, doing my part to protect the life of the Church within.

there is also a fantastic comment on this post by Vaporboy,

I've always ascribed to 4 principles in choosing a church. 1) Go where you are fed. Go to a church that teaches the Word of God. 2) Go where you fit in. Go to a church where the teaching is in your style. God has created many churches with many teaching styles and teachers teach differently. God loves variety. 3) Go where you see fruit. Are the ministries in the church you are selecting producing fruit? Are they faithfully stepping out to fulfill the 'great commission' of sharing God's Word with each other, their community and the world? Also, does this church have a place for you to serve? 4) Go to a church that promotes fellowship. Bible studies, classes and other events to further you relationship with the Body of Christ.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Moral Influence Theory of the crucifixion

Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet: The Moral Influence Theory: "Michael Horton writes the following in his article 'Without Excuse' in the March/April 2006 issue of Modern Reformation magazine,

One of the erroneous assumptions, not only of [many people ], but of many theologians today is, that the basic problem that human beings have with God is lack of information. If people only knew how much God loves them; if they only realized how great God was and worthy of worship, they would embrace HIm.

This is the assumption behind what is called the 'moral influence theory' of the atonement: namely, that the cross saves chiefly by showing us how much God loves us and this moving picture is all we need to be brought to repentance.

But, as Anselm countered in his eleventh-century critique of this position,

'You have not yet considered how great your sin is.'"

Christianity's Cultural Contributions

Christianity's Cultural Contributions - Christianity Today Magazine: "It's quite fashionable to blame Christianity for nearly everything that has gone wrong in the last 2,000 years, says Jonathan Hill. In books from The Da Vinci Code to His Dark Materials, Christians are blamed for inspiring wars, terrorizing people, and fighting against advances in science and learning. But not only are many of those claims either false or greatly exaggerated, they also ignore the many beneficial influences of Christianity in Europe and around the world. What Has Christianity Ever Done for Us? is Hill's response to those who attack the faith. CT corresponded via e-mail with Hill, who is in Singapore working on his Ph.D. in philosophy."

DaVinci Code rant

Scriptwriter and believer Barbara Nicolosi blogs at Church of the Masses
Basically, I hate talking about The Da Vinci Code because I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I have met Him and He isn't a proto-feminist goddess-cultic with a weak personality that could have been simply co-opted by power-hungry misogynists. I love Jesus. It makes me physically sick to entertain discussion about the ways in which the defining acts of His life - His Passion, Resurrection and establishment of the Church - could be a diabolical scam that He never anticipated not experienced. It would make me sick to hear salacious lies about anyone I love, how much more my Savior?

Besides that, I don't think we should encourage people in the terrible sin against the Holy Spirit of speculating that things that are holy are evil, and that things that are evil are holy. Isn't that what is going on here? How is that not painful for anyone who knows the Lord?

she proposes a third way between engagement and boycott, an outcott..."Don't go see this stupid movie. Don't pay money to have the insidious lies of the enemy introduced into your heart and mind.
Othercott DVC on May 19th. Go see Over the Hedge instead. And pray for everyone associated who is dancing with the devil through this movie."
checking out the previews for over the hedge lead me to conclude it looks very funny to this immature dad. i like movies that embrace all the humor to be found in skunk characters.

She follows up her thoughts with reflections on the concept of zeal for His name. i have to quote it in full, its short, its powerful and resonates with me...
As regards The Da Vinci Code, a Christian friend shrugged to me recently, "Jesus doesn't need us to defend Him."

I've been thinking about it ever since.

Of course, God doesn't need us. He didn't need to make us. He didn't need to die for us. He doesn't need us to be with Him forever in heaven. He doesn't need us to protect Him. Jesus is safe from Dan Brown and Sony Pictures.

But don't we get something from defending Jesus? It's not that He needs to glorify His Name, but somehow, we do.

So, in this case, we have a movie that defames the holy name of Jesus. It says He was a sham. He wasn't God. His name is not Emmanuel. It isn't Prince of Peace. It isn't Lord of Lords or King of Kings. The Jesus of Da Vinci Code's name is something between Mr. Mary Magdalen and Mr. Pawn of Satan.

(After all, Sony Picture's Jesus is a pathetic tool in whose name - what was it? - oh yeah, 5,000,000 women have been killed by jealous Christian men....just to name one of the countless crimes the Bible was manufactured to authorize.)

So, for all of us who have sung thousands of times - "Glory to the name of Jesus!" "Worthy is the Name!" "Power and Glory and Honor to the Name of Jesus!" - what do we do here?

I'm just wondering.

Jesus doesn't need us to defend His name. But maybe we do. And what would that look like here?...... Ideas?

I'm thinking we have to add to our Othercott plans for the weekend of May 19th. Yes, we all go to another movie that weekend - Over the Hedge. But then, I think we all spend the remaining thirty-six hours of DVC's opening weekend in prayer . How cool would it be if parishes resurrected the Forty Hour devotion to counter the evil effects that the blasphemy in DVC will do in so many souls.

What do you think? Over the Hedge and then adoration. Ha!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Beatitudes in the blogosphere

It's not so unexpected to find a blogosphere highly populated by Christians to be talking about a central teaching of Jesus simultaneously. High population plus central teaching equals frequent convergence. Here are three that happen to be talking about poverty in spirit this week.
At Pastor Jon's Blog we read
b. The poor in spirit: This is not a man’s confession that he is by nature insignificant, or personally without value, for that would be untrue. Instead, it is a confession that he is sinful and rebellious and utterly without moral virtues adequate to commend him to God.

c. The poor in spirit recognize that they have no spiritual "assets." They know they are spiritually bankrupt. With the word poor, Jesus uses the more severe term for poverty. It indicates someone who must beg for whatever they have or get.

i. Poverty of spirit cannot be artificially induced by self-hatred; it is brought about by the Holy Spirit and our response to His working in our hearts.

and at the Complex Christ we learn, "It seems that after per capita income has exceeded around £10000, populations experience an inverse relationship between increased income and happiness."

and at the Lifestream blog we hear, "Sara and I are reading through The Christ of the Mount by E. Stanley Jones while she gets ready to leave for work in the morning. This book is a classic study through the beatitudes. Writing about the first two beatitudes he wrote:

The end of human life will be either the finished egotist or the perfect lover. The first beatitude is the end of the egotist, the second is the beginning of the lover. It is the nature of love to insinuate itself into the sorrows and sins of others.

...Living in the love of the Father, will continually call you outside of yourself to love others in the same way you’ve been loved. If we don’t learn to live in the Father’s love, then or lives grow increasingly ego-centered and narcissistic. We may try to make it look loving, but all we do is manipulate people and situations around us to get what we want."

Clear Thinking on Immigration

A short compassionate conservative opinion on immigration reform. Let's start with internal enforcement of employers. It's not about money but about law.
Immigration benefits employers who hire cheaper labor, and consumers who buy products made with that labor. The benefits are small, though – less than one half of one percent of national income. Neither are the education and healthcare burdens on states and cities particularly large -$10 billion, compared to state and local budgets of $1.5 trillion – but they are unfairly concentrated on a handful of states and localities.

The argument that the U.S economy will grind to a halt without immigration is simply not true. Neither is the argument that immigration is ruining the economy. Although it does put modest downward pressure on unskilled wages, the numbers are too small (3-4 percent over 20 years) to require a policy response. If immigration ceased tomorrow, some of the jobs immigrants do would disappear – farmers and businesses would find ways to produce without cheap labor, and more homeowners would mow their own lawns (or pay my kids to do it!). Some of the jobs would be taken by native workers, at modestly higher wages. Anyone looking for burdens from immigration will have to look outside of the economy.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

evangelizing on commission

a recent commenter on the beaten-up Indian evangelist story charged that converts were being bought by the Christian. i noted that he was credited with 700 converts and wondered where he would have gotten that much money. but i think this might not be an uncommon charge against missionaries. why would this charge be made? perhaps a non-convert, especially in a Christian-minority country can not conceive of any other reason for a poor fellow citizen to abandon their social safety lines unless there was another safety net to fall into. certainly people have been so impressed with the generosity of western missionaries they presume conversion will lead to more material benefits, and, indeed, since Christians are generous, they are generally correct. but the evangelist is hoping for the converted heart, not converted pocketbook. Jesus himself warned "As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful." (Matt 18:32). An evangelist knows that a convert set on wealth hasn't truly been regenerated by the Holy Spirit because, 1 Timothy 6:10 "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." and Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." and Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." and Ecclesiastes 5:10 "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." Luke12:20-21 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
In fact Jesus' instructions can lead to poverty pretty quickly,
27"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6)

Jesus encourages his followers to look to him for provision and exemplify his generosity to others. Luke 12:32-34 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

This plays out in Jesus' promise of heavenly reimbursement in Luke 16:9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

if evangelists are stealing souls by paying for them then those souls are easily bought back. if their motives are purely monetary, then their conversion is only temporary and hardly a threat to social order. but if their conversion is one of heart and soul, nothing physical shall produce change in the spiritual. if they converted for money, threats of violence will be as effective as more money, and cheaper, but if they converted because they have been convicted of their sins, and they desire to live forever, and they have faith in Jesus Christ, then they are lost to Hinduism or Islam or Buddhism or spiritism. And if their lot in life is improved, if their happiness is elevated, if their approach to the world is enlarged, why beat them down? jealousy? mad with their uppitiness? a freed soul is a dangerous soul indeed. it can't be oppressed any longer. it no longer answers out of subservience. it responds in authority, the authority of the supreme ruler.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Powerful Consequence

In the last twelve years, El Salvador has seen unprecedented prosperity: the poverty rate has dropped from 60 percent to 30 percent; infant mortality rates have plummeted; unemployment rates have halved; school and health care availability has increased dramatically. From 1999 to 2004, this reconstruction was overseen by President Francisco Flores. After finishing his term as president, Flores continued his work for freedom by founding the America Libre Institute in Washington, D.C. He spoke with Religion & Liberty in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

"What role do you think religion will play in creating a free and virtuous society in El Salvador?

El Salvador has undergone one of the most dramatic religious reformations that I have seen in any society. It was principally triggered by the war, but the real reason is the fact that people felt that the Catholic Church had become part of the conflict. Catholic priests, led by liberation theologians, really became part of the same team [as] the guerrilla movement. So this left a society that was really vulnerable, and in such need of spiritual comfort, that they decided to look elsewhere. So, El Salvador has become one of the most thriving evangelic Protestant situations in all of Latin America. You know, you find churches of all denominations—Presbyterians and what you will—have become the most important growth in terms of people’s choice. Because that is the consequence of war, a complete loss of all values; and after peace—as in the case of my country—[it] creates a need for values. And you find parents now looking for schools that have a strong ethic or religious bent to them. So I think this is a really important part of El Salvador today."

the entire interview is very interesting.

Hopegivers: Dr. Sam Has Been Granted Bail

Christian Persecution Blog: Dr. Sam Has Been Granted Bail: "Hopegivers President Dr. Samuel Thomas received bail today from the Jaipur High Court and will be released tomorrow after spending 47 days in Kota Central Jail in Rajasthan. Dr. Sam, as he is known to millions around the world, has been held on charges that he “created communal disharmony.”

Hopegivers Founder Bishop M.A. Thomas was also granted bail on the same charge from India’s Supreme Court on April 20."

Katrina Patina

Katrina Patina: the observations of a Bay St. Louis survivor.

"My home in Bay St. Louis is a renovated schoolhouse - The Webb School - built in 1913. My contractor friends assure me that it’s as strong as a fortress. It’s a raised building, set on solid concrete pilings, ten feet tall. I’d already boarded up the largest of the many windows, but there was still a lot of work to be done. The next twenty-four hours were a blur as I put my hurricane preparation system into effect. The list is long: Take down every piece of art and store it in the most protected closets (a strong storm can vibrate the walls so much, they crash to the floor). Move all the potted plants and outdoor furniture to safety beneath the house. Ditto the car. Cover the important furniture with tarps in case the roof blows off. Pack up all the pottery and sacred books in plastic crates. Fill up the bathtub. Check the battery supply and make sure all the flashlights were working. Make backup discs for the computer. "

Male Dominance versus Complementarian

Micheal Hamblin makes a complementary approach to marriage attractive to this husband who tries to be egalitarian as well,
From my perspective, complementarianism is a refreshing and desperately needed corrective to traditional and Fundamentalist views on gender relations. Complementarianism corrects many of the false dualisms that elevate men into a higher place in human relationships than God created them for. It further makes a corrective against selfishness on the part of men, humbling them by causing them to realize that headship is not a calling so they can be served, but that as the head of the family they are to serve the family in the same way that as Jesus Christ is head of the church, he still humbles Himself and washes the disciples’ feet. It also gives men a vision of his calling as a man, by emphasizing his role in being willing to give of himself wholly and sacrificially for the sake of his marriage and family just as Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for the church.

He also provides a contrast of various marital issues.

Godwin's Law - invoking Hitler and the Nazis

Godwin's Law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Godwin's Law (also Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is, in Internet culture, an adage originated in 1990 by Mike Godwin that states:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made the thread in which the comment was posted is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.

It is considered poor form to arbitrarily raise such a comparison with the motive of ending the thread. There is a widely recognized codicil that any such deliberate invocation of Godwin's Law will be unsuccessful.

Although in one of its early forms Godwin's Law referred specifically to Usenet discussions[2], the law can be applied to any threaded online discussion: electronic mailing lists, message boards, and so on. "

Smart Mom Blog: Knitting like a Knut

My wife, at the Smart Mom Blog: Knitting like a Knut ,wants to make it clear she is not referencing Harry Potter....

India's anti-Christian laws

Leaders claim Hindu extremists are publicly “hurting the religious sentiments” of Christians.

April 27 (Compass Direct) – Dr. John Dayal, president of the All India Catholic Union, has lodged an official complaint against L.K. Advani, former deputy prime minister and current leader of the opposition in Parliament, for hurting the religious sentiments of Christians. The complaint is based on a comment Advani made likening the recent travails of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to the death and resurrection of Christ. Dayal claims that sections of the Indian Penal Code making religious insensitivity a criminal offense have been applied to Christians on spurious grounds but not to Hindu extremists who have publicly insulted the Christian faith. There are no known cases of Hindu extremists being arrested for hurting the religious sentiments of Christians...."