Daily Archives: 1 Feb 2010

Quote Of the Day

A saint is a person whom God has apprehended for Himself, and one who willingly submits to this claim; thus he is one who, by the very fact that God’s Hand has seized him, has really become God’s “property”; thus he has abandoned the world, with its alienation from God, and has returned to communion with God. – Emil Brunner

My Honest Opinon About Churches That Replace Worship With the Super Bowl

I’ll just go ahead and in an uncharacteristically blunt manner state my view on the matter:

I think that ‘churches’ which cancel worship for a ball game aren’t worthy of the name church. Furthermore, I think that when entertainment becomes more important to Christians than worship, they should just throw in the towel and call themselves unitarian universalists, because they’ve ceased to be Christian in any meaningful sense of the word. And finally, I think that Pastors who take part in such decisions have forsaken their proper office and become servants of the world rather than standing up as servants of God.

That’s how I see it. And unless someone can offer substantive theological evidence for me to reconsider my view, that’s how I will continue to see it.

The Big Game Bash…

At Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indiana will replace the evening service of worship.

This year, there will be no admission fee. The church has been taking a “snack collection” in advance and guests are encouraged to bring a canned food item to be donated to the Baptist Relief Center downtown. The church web site advertises the “Big Game Bash” from 6:00 p.m. to the game’s end.

All hail football… Why worship God when you can snack and watch the game, at church, instead?  And why ‘compete’ with the ball game when you know the Gospel you have to offer won’t attract people but the game will…

It’s a crying shame that so many Churches view worship as less important than entertainment.  Shame on them.

Idolatrous Churches: Idlewild Baptist of Tampa Florida

It didn’t take long for the news to crop up that

So that people can enjoy the Super Bowl between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, Idlewild is canceling its evening service and Bible fellowship classes Feb. 7.

Not content with that, however, the Church will also turn its morning worship into a sports themed spectacle:

On Super Bowl Sunday, the legendary Florida State University football coach comes to Idlewild Baptist Church for the 9 and 11 a.m. services. Bowden, the second-most winning coach in major college football, led his last game at the 2010 Gator Bowl. He coached the Seminoles from 1976 to 2009, winning the Bowl Championship Series national title in 1999. Bowden’s invitation to preach is part of a sports-themed day at Idlewild. Congregants are encouraged to leave their “Sunday best” at home and wear jeans and a favorite football jersey. Churchgoers will be able to test their skills in a “Sports Zone,” and other athletes will be on hand to sign autographs.

Well praise God and pass the football… But this part is the most astonishing of all

Senior pastor Ken Whitten said he invited Bowden as a gesture of gratitude. “It’s our way to say thank you to someone who has his priorities in the right place,” he said. “He’s always put his family and faith before football. We want to give him his due and thank him for a job well done.”

It’s too bad the Church doesn’t have its priorities in the right place and has dethroned God in order to exalt sports. As if sports needed any more exaltation in this corrupt and godless land of ours.  God is the only worthy object of adoration and the substitution of worship with sports is idolatrous.

Idolatrous Churches

Every year the news reports that some church or other has canceled their service of worship in order to allow their ‘congregation’ time and space to watch the Super Bowl without feeling those unpleasant gnawing pangs of guilt for having replaced God with a game.

I wonder which ‘Church’ or more likely which ‘Churches’ will do it this year… Stay tuned. When I hear names I’ll be naming them.

A New Book That Looks Intriguing

Nach der Calvinjahr-Ausstellung im Emslandmuseum nun zum Nachlesen das Buch “Johannes Calvin und die Evangelisch-reformierte Kirche im Emsland“. Price and more details there.

Since When?

Anglicans are a ‘blessing for the entire Church,’ states Pope Benedict…

Huh?

The Holy Father welcomed bishops from England and Wales in audience on Monday morning in the Consistory Room of the Apostolic Palace as they complete their “ad Limina” visit. … “I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.”

Huh? The pope surely is trying to bring the heirs of Henry back, isn’t he?

The Berne Theses: 1

1 Die heilige christliche Kirche, deren einziges Haupt Christus ist, ist aus dem Worte Gottes geboren, bleibt in demselben und hört nicht die Stimme eines Fremden.

The Holy Christian Church, whose only head is Christ, is born of the Word of God, remains in the same, and hears no stranger’s voice.

The Church, then, never stoops to hearing the siren call of the world and its inclinations or intentions.  Rather, born of the Word of God (Jesus the Christ), it rejects all foreign and strange voices calling it away from itself and from its Lord.

When culture or society, seekers or emergents, or any other heretics reject the divine origin of the Church and attempt to replace with something else its mandate and its purpose, and reject as its center the voice of Christ as found in Scripture, they show themselves to be unfamiliar with it, strangers to it, and absent from it.

The true Church listens to Christ alone.  Not polls or media or the whining of the masses for something better or newer or different or more appealing.

NB- Historical Note:  The Bern Synod

The opening session was held on Jan. 6, 1528, and the discussions lasted from the following day till Jan. 26. They were based on ten theses carefully prepared by Berthold Haller and Franz Kolb and revised by Zwingli. The outcome was that the ten theses were subscribed to by most of the clergy of Bern, the mass was done away with, the images were quietly removed from the churches, and on Feb. 7 the Reformation edict was issued, which gave the theses force of law, annulled the power of the bishops, and made the necessary regulations concerning the clergy, public worship, church property, etc. The majority of the country congregations soon gave in their adherence. The influence of the disputation was felt even in France, the Netherlands, and England.

The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: Psalms and Proverbs

Tyndale has sent a copy (gratis, gracias Tyndale!) of their recently published volume covering Psalms and Proverbs by Futato and Schwab respectively.

Textually based on the New Living Translation, the commentary offers the usual introductions to the biblical books under discussion and then a detailed, verse by verse and sometimes word by word exegesis of the text.

Futato’s introduction to Psalms is really quite nicely done, covering such issues as purpose, authorship, genre, and the rest.  As to the book’s purpose, F. observes ‘The dominant mood of the Psalter is characterized by disorientation, sorrow, and perplexity…’ (p. 4).  And then ‘How can “Book of Praises” be the title [of Psalms] when such psalms of negativity [like 10:1] outnumber hymns of praise?  Simply put, praise … is the final word even in the vast majority of the psalms of negativity’ (p. 4).  Equally well done is Futato’s explanation of the theological concerns of the Psalms, which he sees as five-fold:  Yahweh as King;  Yahweh as King of History; Yahweh is King and Liturgy; Yahweh as King and Eschatology; and Yahweh as King and Refuge (p. 21).

When Futato makes way to exegeting the text, he is engaging and insightful.  He does a genuinely good job of shedding light on both the exegetical and theological intention of the text.  This is particularly true of his treatment of Psalm 137, where, on verse 9 he observes ‘Before judging this anger we must admit that it is deeply honest, as deeply honest as the tears that were shed’ (p. 409).  Nevertheless, we must move on past such anger and turn ugly situations into ones that ‘produce beauty’.

However, the commentary does have one weakness that must be pointed out in the spirit of honesty and fairness (and this applies to both Psalms and Proverbs) : it makes use of Strong’s numbering whenever various Hebrew words are discussed.  While I understand the reason for this, it is terribly distracting.  Further, persons who read Hebrew won’t need Strong’s numbers and those who don’t read Hebrew can’t use Strong’s anyway, except to provide themselves with a false sense of familiarity.

Put directly, Strong’s just allows people who don’t know the biblical languages to pretend as if they do- giving them license to say ‘the Hebrew word underlying this English one is…’ without said sayer ever knowing one letter of the Hebrew alphabet.   In short, Strong’s allows a certain pretense and disingenuousness in its users: a disingenuousness that students of the Bible should assiduously avoid.

That quibble aside, Schwab’s treatment of Proverbs like F.’s treatment of Psalms is very good indeed.  He opens with a summons to self examination and an invitation to enter the School of Wisdom.  And then he launches into the boiling waters of Solomonic authorship while simultaneously supporting the notion of  a multilplicity of authors and a tradition of transmission featuring editors and scribes.   He delightfully observes, ‘Although one cannot prove his authorship to critics distrustful of this witness, it is patently obvious that Solomon could have produced something like it’ (p. 454)!   And then, on the next page, ‘Scribes likely polished Proverbs well into the Hellenistic era, culminating a tradition that began long before Solomon assumed the ancient task of inscripturating his great wisdom’ (p. 455)!!

Finally, S. sees Proverbs as a five-fold compilation.  ‘Proverbs can be parsed into five anthologies: The Prologue, Proverbs of Solomon, Thirty Sayings of the Wise, Hezekiah’s Proverbs of Solomon, and the Epilogue.  The Fivefold division of Solomon’s torah mirrors the fivefold division of the books of Moses’s torah and the five books of Psalms’ (p. 469).

Schwab and Futato are to be commended for their sensitive reading of what can be very difficult texts (because so ‘well known’ among so many).  They are able to avoid being trite or simply offering the same observations that have been made countless times before while remaining connected to the text and its meaning.

If you’re looking for a very good, tremendously useful commentary on Proverbs and Psalms from a conservative point of view, this one should be at the top of your list.

The Baptists in Haiti

Haitian officials say they are talking with U.S. diplomats about whether 10 American Baptists arrested trying to take children out of the country should be sent to the United States for prosecution. A lawyer representing the Americans says the nine are being treated poorly and one of them, a diabetic, fainted and has been hospitalized. Haiti’s communications minister says the Americans might have to face justice in the United States because Haiti’s court system has been crippled by the Jan. 12 earthquake.

It’s a sad story of how something meant to be good can become messed up bad.

Norman Golb’s Response

Inside Higher Education takes note of the Golb case and reports-

Norman Golb, meanwhile, said in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed that he is “certainly unaware of any ‘smear campaign’ in the various articles about the Scrolls controversy attributed to Raphael.” He added: “It is unfortunate that my critics resort to attacking members of my family rather than engaging with me in scholarly debate on the merits.”

Sounds like the old ‘the best defense is a good offense’ ploy.  It’s his son who evidently wasn’t willing to let the ‘merits’ of Golb’s ideas persuade and so he stooped to smearing Cargill and Schiffman.

Now This Is A Song…

All The Single Ladies? Best of the Year?

You’re kidding, right?  A song with lyrics that go ‘if you like it shoulda put a ring on it…’   Oh America.  If that’s the best in music you’ve had for the entire year, your doom is surely near.