Daily Archives: 27 Jun 2012

Calvinism and Baptists: The Commencement of a Series

Over on Calvin 500 a new series is commencing titled Calvinism and the Baptist Church.

A perennial debate among Baptists heated up when a group of prominent Southern Baptist leaders signed and published “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” on May 31. The document addressed a major point of discord between Baptists who hold Calvinistic views and those who do not: Baptists who disagree, that is, on election.

Election, defined as “God choosing a person or people group for a specific purpose, mission, or salvation,” is historically connected to the concepts of predestination, foreknowledge, and free will.[1] The non-Calvinistic viewpoint (often associated with Arminianism) asserts that election is conditional and that any man can, by free will, choose to receive the grace of God. Calvinism, however, emphasizes the total depravity of man and the inability of the individual to receive the grace of God—and, thus, salvation—on his or her own.

Where is the intersection of Calvinism and Baptist history? What are the major differences between Arminianism and Calvinism? Within Baptist thought, where does Calvinism live today? What was the role of Calvinism in the Reformation? We want to weigh in on some of these issues, so we’ve asked two terrific writers to do just that. Contributing to this miniseries are Jim West and Michael DeWalt.

Read the rest.  And watch for further developments.

Situations Like These Raise the Theodicy Question For Me More Than Anything Else

Earthquakes?  Ah, don’t build your house on a fault line.  Floods?  Stop putting homes in flood planes.  Tornados?  Come on, the technology exists to make every home nearly tornado proof.  But wicked parents?  What stops them but God alone?

the perverse ‘princess’ herself

Police in Georgia charged a 21-year-old mother with cruelty to children on Friday after discovering her toddler covered in feces, hungry and locked inside her garbage-strewn home.  Forsyth County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Cumming home of Stephanie Davis when a concerned family member reported her concern for Davis’ young son, according Sheriff Ted Paxton.  The caller said Davis contacted her around 4:30 a.m., after she was arrested by Roswell police for driving drunk and speeding. The family member said Davis assured her that someone was watching her son, police said.

When deputies arrived at Davis’ home they received no response to knocks on the front door. During a cursory search of the exterior, they heard a dog barking and the cries of a child coming from an open window.  “Because of the extenuating circumstances, one of the deputies pulled the screen off of the window and entered the home,” Paxton said. “The deputy then made his way to the room where he heard the child crying. What he found was a child that was trapped in his room by a closed door, equipped with a safety device on the inside doorknob, that prevented the child from opening the door.”  The toddler, who was dressed only in a filthy white t-shift, had removed his diaper, which was “overflowing with feces.” The child had feces on his “hands, feet and legs,” police said.  The child’s room had only a mattress and box springs on the floor. The rest of the home was allegedly in disarray, with overflowing trash cans, dirty dishes and rotting food. Authorities said there were more than 50 bags of garbage.

Why God allows natural disasters isn’t really a problem for me.  Why he allows people like this to have children- that’s a huge problem.  Huge.  If I have the chance to ask the question that burns in my soul it will be ‘Dear God, why did you ever allow miscreants like Stephanie Davis into the world in the first place?  And letting her be, why did you let her have children?  And having children, why didn’t you stop her cruelty?’

And then God will have an answer, I’m sure, that will knock my socks off.  I just wish I knew what it was now, because people like Davis fill my heart with rage and loathing and contempt and a serious desire that God would ‘go all Old Testament’ on them so that plagues of the most violent sort rained down on their vile unworthy heads like flood-waters sprung from the deepest depths.

Ed Young: Prideful, Arrogant, Reprobate

Someone in Ed’s inner circle needs to remind him that ‘pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall’.  He’s absolutely mad to say of Reformed pastors in general and of a particular Reformed Pastor and his church

Are they all bad? No they just don’t reach anybody. Last year at Fellowship Church we baptized 2,632 people. One of the fair-haired boys of this movement, I will not call his name, they baptized 26 people last year. (he then drops his hand-held mic on the floor and looks stunned). Oh, he’s deep. What are you smoking? Are you kidding me? I cannot put my head on the pillow at night knowing we baptized 26 people.

Arrogance… prepare to meet thy God.  Noah preached a very long time without a single convert, and the Prophets were, to a man, failures (since they weren’t really able to get Israel to genuinely repent).  So, Ed, smoke that as you yourself are smoking.

I agree with Michael, who opines Ed Young’s theological ignorance is appalling! His wilful obstinacy is even more worrying and yet he continues to masquerade as a pastor.

His members also continue to masquerade as Christians, for no Christian could endure the rubbish which Young regularly spews without utterly refuting it.

And On the Third Day…

The contest ends.  What contest, you ask (driven as you are by the same kind of curiosity that drove man to the moon).  This one, for the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.  I’ve reviewed a couple of the volumes .  To be precise, the volumes covering 1-3 John, and Philemon and I have to say, I’m quite impressed so far.

Anyway, enter as you wish.

A Sampling of Zwingli’s Vivid Language

In his ‘Reply to Emser‘ Zwingli opens with this beautiful salvo-

NOT far were you, most nimble Emser (for wild goats should be more nimble than stags), from tearing me away from the very clear light of the celestial word and bringing me over to the side of the Roman Pontiff by that threatening pamphlet of yours against my confutation of the Canon of the Mass which I thrust forth rather than published. It is so grandiloquent that no one can understand its difficult periods unless he descends into a well; so fortified with things more solid than the Scriptures, namely, legends of the saints and trifles more foolish than old wives’ tales, that no one can take it by storm unless he is well equipped with gourds, pumpkins, and rotten cabbage.

Besides, the snares which you cleverly spread, because of their unexpectedness, terrify me more than their real importance warrants; for you did not, as a Christian especially ought, give any warning; you sent no herald with a demand for satisfaction; and you attacked suddenly, not in front but from the rear, one who suspected no such thing; nor did you engage at close quarters, so that at least the clash of arms might give notice of an enemy’s presence, but you skirmished in quite remote parts.

Consequently, not even a rumor of the wrathful ibex who was rashly laying everything waste could have reached me, if it had not by mere chance happened that George Vadian, a man of marked piety and culture, was journeying on certain business in the parts where you were tearing around. While he was at first not a little disturbed by the strangeness of your conduct, yet, having obtained one of your pamphlets—a prisoner, as it were, from your army—he promptly transmitted it to me, and I have treated it a little more kindly than you treated mine.

It’s quite sad that theologians today aren’t masters of prose in the way the Reformers were.  No wonder the 16th century-ers are far more entertaining and memorable than our flat-lining near death through sheer boring-ness contemporaries.

[Thanks to the Logos edition of Zwingli’s works I’m re-reading things I read decades ago and several times since with renewed joy.  And I can share them without having to type them all out!  Thank heaven for whoever invented cut and paste].

Quote of the Day

From Emil Brunner’s utterly invincible Das Missverständnis der Kirche-

Mega-Churches: A Parable

Shortly after he departed from cleansing the Temple Jesus was asked, ‘Lord, why are there Churches so large?’  And Jesus answered, saying

The kingdoms of the mega-churches can be likened to obese men sitting at table.  They  look around at all the bounty spread before them and they say to themselves: I know what’s best for me and what I desire, so I will fill my belly to the full and luxuriate in my immenseness.  Meanwhile, around them at the table are the small and underfed and yet because their interest is only in themselves, they don’t see them nor consider them.’

Afterwards the disciples approached and said ‘Don’t you know that you offended the gluttonous resource hogs with your words?’

Jesus replied, ‘The mega churches are like the obese man who only cares for himself.  Instead of ministry they are concerned strictly for the resources they can consume – resources material and human.

A day will come, I tell you, when these assemblies will be known far and wide and they will heap up for themselves teachers who tickle their ears.  But I have warned you beforehand, flee greed, even when it appears in spiritual guise and even when it couches itself in high sounding well intentioned evangelistic terminology.  They appear to be beautiful on the outside, but within they are filled with the bones of the dead.  Let him who has ears to hear, hear.’   (1 Truth 1:1-5).

Craigslist: What a Refuge For the Wretched and Wicked

Five years after he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, Sgt. Sean Fennerty’s photo is being used by online scam artists. The Oregon soldier’s photo appeared next to ads on Craigslist Pensacola and fundraising site Indiegogo.com containing a plea for funds from somebody claiming to be his twin sister, ABC reports. The ads, which have now been removed, claimed that the man in the photo lost both his legs when he stepped on an IED and needed help with his medical bills. “Think of all the things someone could scam, and this is pretty low,” the fallen soldier’s father tells the Pensacola News Journal. “I want this exposed. I just wish there was a way to keep this sort of thing from happening again.” But “charitable” solicitors on Craigslist are allowed to keep their identities secret, and such pleas are “outside the reach of regulators,” warns the president of the watchdog group Charity Watch.

How anyone believes anything claimed on Craigslist is a mystery.  Craigslist is to honest advertising what Wikipedia is to actual research.  And it’s all made possible by that most wicked of perversions- online anonymity.

The Devastation of Darkness: Disability in Exodus 10:21-23, 27 And Intensification in the Plagues

The Devastation of Darkness: Disability in Exodus 10:21-23, 27 And Intensification in the Plagues is an essay by Candida Moss and now available at Academia.edu here.

In this article, we will argue that, though lacking elaboration, the effects of the darkness wonder described in Exod 10:23a connote an imposition of blindness and lameness upon the Egyptians. These impairments, conventionally paired in biblical literature, are here put to narrative use with powerful effect. With such an understanding of the darkness episode, the intensi!cation pattern that others have suggested for the plagues is set on solid footing, both at the level of the Priestly source of which it is a part and in the compiled, canonical text.

Moss is the leading expert in the field of disability studies vis-a-vis the Bible. I commend her essay most heartily.

Today with Zwingli: How To Read – Sympathetically

Huldrych Zwingli has it right, remarking

The one thing upon which I fix my attention in reading the writings of others is the spirit in which the author seems to have written; for all his purpose becomes plain in his very language. If I see that a thing was written from love of God and one’s neighbor, I overlook many errors, just as many persons, no doubt, considerately overlook mine.

When, however, occasion offers, I fill in the gaps, reverse the order, unravel the knots, connect wandering thoughts, without, however, discourteous strictures on anybody by name, that peace may be preserved, which some are so bent upon disturbing.

I make two exceptions, Emser and Eck, for they are pests to the teachings of Christ. Their own wanton recklessness has forced me to write pretty sharply against them and by name. For the former without any warning so arrogantly attacked me unawares that I should have been a renegade to Christ’s teachings (for it is His work, not mine, in which I am engaged), if I had retired before a man singing his song of victory before he had come into my sight. For he wrote against me in such a way (and published the book) that he tricked me into waiting for six months to see if he were going to send me a copy.

The other laid a snare for my destruction, and sending most absurd and lying slanders to the assembly of the Swiss tried to get the start of me, so that, if his scheme succeeded, I might seem to have been rightly slain, and that he might sell himself for a high price to the Romans and the tyrants of Germany. When I disclosed his crime (and it could not be denied), good gods, how he raved!

So I beg all the readers of this Commentary [On True and False Religion] to judge it with a free mind and without passion, and to remove what they see is foreign to the purest teachings of Christ, employing not decrees and condemnations of their own but the spear of the heavenly word drawn from the writings of both Testaments.

Euro 2012 Today

This one I’m going against the majority and predicting a win by Portugal.  In a shocker- 2-0.

Gas At One Knoxville Station

I just have to share this- since it seems so unique-

via our local weatherman