Daily Archives: 5 Feb 2010

Hello, Global Warming

And thanks for leaving your mark on America’s mid-Atlantic.

Cows: Turning the Tables on the Tippers

People probably can’t tip cows, but a cow tipped a person in Knoxville. Then it stepped on him. An ambulance was called to the University of Tennessee agriculture campus Friday morning. Fire Department Capt. D.J. Corcoran told The Knoxville News Sentinel first responders found a 40 to 50-year-old man who said he was working with cattle in a pen when one knocked him down and stepped on his chest.

Cow tipping is a big sport in rural areas amongst adolescent miscreants. So it’s kind of nice to see the cows turn the tables and do a bit of tipping on their own.  Next, deer will be armed with automatic weapons and fish will be given spear-guns so that fair play is introduced in man’s adventures contra dumb animals.

Teaching Teens That Church Isn’t About Christ, It’s About Them

That might not be the intention, but it most certainly will be the result of the activities a Church in Indiana has in store for Sunday during the Super Bowl.

At first glance, football and church don’t seem to mix. But Crossroads Christian Church believes that mixing the two together can be a great teen outreach tool. “It lets them see church is not just sitting in a pew on Sunday morning,” Crossroads member Bill Bowley said. “It’s part of what we do, but it’s not all of what we do.”

It’s not an outreach tool, it’s pandering. And the Church at worship is simply the Church in preparation for service. If Crossroads wants to teach teens what Church is, why not have them gather on Saturday before the Super Bowl and do community ministry: visit an old folks home: sing hymns to shut-ins and take them food? And then Sunday during the game, rather than play games at a veritable rec center, teach the kids that worship is far more important than any ball game ever could be- again- because worship prepares us for service and ministry.

They’ve taken a former flagship store at the Washington Square Mall and created a party atmosphere like no other, complete with laser tag, flag football, and an escalator slide.

What has even the smallest bit of that to do with Christianity?  Christianity isn’t about teens, or adults, or you, or me, it’s about Christ- and being his body in this world, doing the works he does.

Teaching teens otherwise will simply raise a generation of self interested pseudo christians who are more concerned with having ‘fun’ than in serving Christ.  We’re already seeing too much of that.  We will doubtless see more of it as more and more churches turn from the truth of their purpose in order to satisfy the fleshly wants of persons it may attract, but will never retain.

Too Many Churches Have Sold Their Souls…

To sports.  I am in 100% agreement with James ‘of the North’ Spinti.

James isn’t the only one in serious need of a vomitarium. While worldly ‘Christians’ applaud the marriage of church and entertainment, I find it absolutely reprehensible and the offspring of the union a complete aberration- an unnatural, untheological wickedness that never should have seen the light of day.

Speaking of Satan…

Ed West (no relation) has a report in the Catholic Herald that makes an interesting, if not at least worth-considering point-

Addressing the Emmanuel Community’s annual symposium in Rome last week, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said it was “very odd that in the wake of the bloodiest century in history – a century when tens of millions of human beings were shot, starved, gassed and incinerated with superhuman ingenuity – even many religious leaders are embarrassed to talk about the Devil”.

Do religious leaders no longer believe in the existence of Satan or are they just embarrassed about such belief and so do not speak of it openly or in polite company?

“Genius breeds vanity. And vanity breeds suffering and conflict,” he said, explaining that the roots of vanity lie with the first “non serviam” that Satan uttered, he said. The reluctance of religious leaders to talk about the Devil was “odd”, he said. “In fact it is more than odd. It is revealing. Mass murder and exquisitely organised cruelty are not just really big ‘mental health’ problems,” he said. “They are sins that cry out to heaven for justice, and they carry the fingerprints of an Intelligence who is personal, gifted, calculating and powerful.”

Personally I think most of the evil people do can be attributed squarely to the evil inherent in people (what the Reformers called Total Depravity).

But, (and put on your seat belts, gentle pilgrims), just as I believe in the existence of God and his servants the angelic beings I assert the existence of a malignant and inflammatory evil named Satan and his minions the demons (and atheists).

Though like everyone I’ve wondered about such things, I was persuaded by Karl Barth’s absolutely brilliant and incredibly precise and theologically/biblically accurate treatment of the subject in his Unterricht in der christlichen Religion (his lectures at Göttingen published now in 3 volumes by TVZ; vol 2, pp. 309ff). (Incidentally, Matthias Wüthrich’s Gott und das Nichtige: Zur Rede vom Nichtigen ausgehend von Karl Barths KD sec. 50 is an excellent monograph on the entire topic).

Evil exists both personally in the person of Satan and in persons giving ear to him, whether knowingly or not.  Of course saying so raises eyebrows.  But so what?

Quote of the Day

The Lord proclaims that everything which we design, plan, or execute, lies open to his sight. Our conscience must, therefore, keep aloof from the most distant thought of revolt, if we would have our worship approved by the Lord. The glory of his Godhead must be maintained entire and incorrupt, not merely by external profession, but as under his eye, which penetrates the inmost recesses of his heart. — John Calvin

Australian Baptists

James Spinti of Eisenbrauns was kind enough to send along a fascinating and delightful 2 volume history of Australian Baptists by Ken Manley titled From Woolloomooloo to ‘Eternity’: A History of Australian Baptists.

Volume 1 covers the period from 1831 to 1914 and volume 2 from 1914 to 2005.

Any history which commences with the tale of the Pastor baptizing new converts while a half naked drunk swims in the waters beneath and attempts to pull the Pastor under is must reading. And when the Pastor comes armed to the next baptism with a tree branch in hand to beat all such persons away, you know the fun has just begun. And it gets better from there.

These two volumes tell the story of Australia’s Baptists with vigor and in such a remarkable way that they are almost impossible to put down. Well written doesn’t describe these books. Magical comes close but then of course such a word doesn’t really fit a theological context. Fantastic, fun, witty, engaging, and all the usual descriptors too fall a bit short.

Manley has done 1) Australian Baptists a service by telling their amazing story; and 2) historians a favor by showing them how history can be written so as to be enrapturing.

I recommend these volumes to Church historians, interested Baptists, and general historians. You won’t regret reading them and you will find yourself actually laughing out loud at some of the antics those crazy Australians pull.

Martin Luther: On Faith and Reason

Ron’s posted a very interesting bit today directing us to a recent volume on Luther which investigates his ideas about faith and reason. The volume,

David Andersen: Martin Luther The Problem of Faith and Reason: A Reexamination in Light of the Epistemological and Christological Issues, Preface by John Warwick Montgomery and Foreword by Paul Helm, Bonn, VKW, 2009, 196 p.

can be acquired here.

Alan Millard’s Tribute to Donald Wiseman

Via Peter Williams in an email this morning:

Left to right: Donald Wiseman stands next to his good friend
Agatha Christie, her husband Max Mallowan, and Neville Chittick,
while carrying out archaeological excavation at Nimrud.

The passing of Donald Wiseman on 2nd February, 2010, marks the end of an era in the story of Tyndale House and the Tyndale Fellowship. After a year reading history at King’s College, London, W. J. Martin persuaded him that study of the biblical world and its languages would be more valuable to the church and biblical studies, so he turned to Hebrew and Assyriology. Martin had been the major stimulus in the creation of Tyndale House and Donald Wiseman saw its strategic potential. He gave much time and thought to the affairs of the House, serving as Chairman of the Biblical Research Committee, which had the initial responsibility and of the Tyndale House Council, which inherited it, from 1957 to 1986. As Chairman of that and other committees, he guided discussion with wisdom, patience and humour, ensuring sensible decisions were made. When there were doubts in UCCF (then IVF) circles about continuing financial support, he insisted that the House was providing a service which no other evangelical institution offered and had potential for much more. When problems of space for the Library arose, it was Donald who suggested the annexe which was built as The Hexagon in 1984.

He saw the priority for Tyndale House lay in biblical research, supplying positive information and arguments to oppose widely taught liberal views about Scripture. His vision was well expressed by John Stott in 1992, ‘We shall never capture the church for the truth of the gospel unless and until we can re-establish biblical scholarship, hold (and not lose) the best theological minds in every generation, and overthrow the enemies of the gospel by confronting them at their own level of scholarship’ (Quoted by Tom Noble, Tyndale House and Fellowship, 239).

Like Martin, Donald Wiseman was a great enthusiast and encourager of others, in Britain and abroad. He chaired the Tyndale Old Testament Study Group from 1951 to 1981, taking time and trouble to find young scholars whom he could introduce to the Group so that they would know there were others who could support them in their often lonely research. The Bible is a product of the ancient Near East, so he recognized that it should be read and assessed in the light of knowledge about that world. With that in mind, aware of the value of the archaeological contexts of ancient artefacts, he set up the Tyndale Biblical Archaeology Study Group in 1958, which, although not functioning regularly in recent years, brought together linguists and archaeologists to evaluate and apply new and old discoveries to biblical studies. On his initiative papers were brought together as Notes on Some Problems in the Book of Daniel (1965) and Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives (1980) and he stimulated other publications by fellows of Tyndale House (e.g. David Tsumura, The Earth and the Waters in Genesis 1 and 2, 1989). A volume of essays by members of the Old Testament Study Group was dedicated to him in gratitude for his many years of devotion (R. S. Hess, G. J. Wenham. P. Satterthwaite, eds., He Swore an Oath (1994).

His experience and knowledge marked Donald as a major contributor to, and Editor of, the New Bible Dictionary (1962, 1982, 1996) and The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (1980). For many years he was Editor for Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries and gave his skills to a variety of other Christian publications.

Donald was always ready to help a cause he thought would be fruitful in the service of his Saviour, preaching and teaching and holding informal groups for Bible Study. The number who faced the claims of the Gospel through meeting him cannot be told, neither can the number whose lives and careers he has influenced or guided.
As one of the latter, I give thanks for his life, his service and his fellowship.

Alan Millard

And, also from Peter

Select gleanings from the privately published book Donald J. Wiseman, Life Above and Below: Memoirs (2003).

Donald Wiseman led an extremely active and full life and it is not possible to summarize all of this. However, I thought that I would at least pick out a few of many highlights from his autobiography relating to his service in the Second World War:

– PA to Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park, who was in charge of the Fighter Group responsible for the defence of S.E. Britain during the battle of Britain, and often finding himself on the phone to Winston Churchill

– trusted to handle large amounts of information from the Ultra Secret source known as Enigma

– chosen to carry maps and plans for first fighters to fly in to Algiers in Operation Torch

– plane crash in Sicily in which he temporarily lost the use of both legs

– recovery to play significant role enforcing German surrender in N. Italy

Here is the text of his citation for the USA Bronze Star Medal:

“Donald J. Wiseman, O.B.E., Wing Commander, Royal Air Force, Headquarters Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force, for meritorious achievement in connection with military operations in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations from 1 March 1943 to 22 June 1944. As Chief Intelligence Officer, Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force, Wing Commander Wiseman displaying a rare analytical and organizational genius was responsible for the creation and development of an Intelligence Force headquarters in the Mediterranean Theater. Upon the Intelligence material gathered through his selfless and earnest work, this Headquarters was able to plan and launch the air operations which brought victory to the Allied Armies in Italy. His brilliancy in collecting and evaluating the necessary operational Intelligence data, his ability to work smoothly with an integrated American and British staff, and his unstinting fulfillment of duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the Allied Nations.”

He was, all admit, a fantastic scholar. May he rest in peace.

UPDATE: Here’s another, better, photo via.

Christian Junk

I was looking for something today in the news and noticed an advertisement for something called a  ‘Baptist Crucifix‘.  Alas, I thought, there’s no such thing.  And sure enough, I was right.

At least Baptists aren’t the victims of sly marketing, aimed at separating a fool from his money.

The same can’t be said for pet owners though…

Yessir, you can buy your pooch a guardian angel medallion…   Never mind that animals are soul-less beasts who like trees and grass and insects when dead are just compost.  Spend your money on the medallion if it makes you feel better.  Or, better than that, you could send those extra dollars burning a hole in your pocket to Haiti relief.

The City of David as Travel Destination

Do give a look at this BBC report which details the use to which archaeology is put to political ends.