The Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference – Reformation Theology: Maintenance or Revision?

Rutherford House, in association with the World Reformed Fellowship Theological Commission, will be hosting the 17th Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference – Reformation Theology: Maintenance or Revision?

EDC17 will take place in Palmerston Place Church, from 29 – 31 August 2017.  Dr John McClean, Professor Tony Lane, Dr Rob Norris, Professor John Barclay, Professor Bruce McCormack, Professor Henri Blocher, Dr Kin Yip Louie and Dr Cindy Brown are confirmed speakers. 17th-edinburgh-dogmatics-conference-programme  Registration is now open for the 17th Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference.  Please click here to register

My birthday is 29 August.  Anyone want to sponsor me to attend?

Depraved Reprobates, Your Sex Club is Not a Church

Regardless of what some Emergent or Seeker Sensitive pagan has told you.

Two Metro Nashville codes inspectors paid $40 apiece to enter The Social Club in Madison on the night of March 25. They were responding to the club’s website, which said membership was not required for entry.

What they observed over the next two-and-a-half hours — a series of lewd sexual acts and voyeurism — is now the basis of a lawsuit that Metro has filed against the club that seeks injunctive relief to shut it down.

In a lawsuit filed in Davidson County General Sessions Court on Thursday, Metro argues that the owner of The Social Club, Freedom 4 All Inc., led by George “Al” Woods, is operating a business that is not permitted in the use and occupancy certificate granted to the club by the city.

Metro alleges the owner agreed to operate the building at 520 Lentz Drive as a church, but is instead housing something far from it — a sex club, which are permitted in only industrial-zoned districts.

The lawsuit, which says The Social Club constitutes a public nuisance, marks the latest battle between Metro and The Social Club, which moved from Division Street south of downtown to a former medical office building in Madison in 2015 after its previous property was sold.

Nastiness.

Furtick is Southern Baptist The Way Trump is Presbyterian

The Southern Baptist Convention has deployed a crew of theology referees to Elevation Church, instructing the trained officials to monitor sermons preached by Pastor Steven Furtick, and warn him and the congregation when his messages fall out of the bounds of orthodoxy, sources confirmed Friday.

Church members reportedly witnessed Furtick’s first sermon under the watchful eyes of the refs this past Sunday.

According to those present, when Furtick began encouraging his audience members to unlock the potential within themselves several minutes into his message, a sideline ref blew a whistle and tossed a yellow flag into the air, stopping the sermon and slapping Furtick with a two-sermon-point penalty.

Restarting the sermon clock at the 5:00 mark, the officials then allowed the pastor to continue with his sermon, but instantly dinged him for a borderline prosperity gospel theology infraction, hitting him with a fifteen-minute penalty.

At one point, Furtick was nearly ejected from the service after stepping “way outside” the bounds of orthodoxy, but was allowed to stay after an instant replay video was obscured by the building’s intense multi-colored lighting and fog effects, and refs were unable to prove the infraction.

At publishing time, the SBC had deployed a separate team of theology referees to monitor Ed Young, Jr. at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX.

It’s too bad the SBC won’t drive these heretics from the denomination.

On Mother’s Day: My Ambivalence

People love Mother’s Day.  And I don’t mind it.  But it does make me a bit pensive about the women who have either chosen not to be mothers or who can’t be.

And it also makes me pensive concerning those whose experience with their mother’s wasn’t exactly memorable for any positive reason.

What are people to make of Mother’s Day- a day honoring dear old mom, when mom was mommy dearest?  Are the children of alcoholic and abusive mothers supposed to be glad that mom was a massive failure?

Mother’s Day is, for a lot of people, just a painful reminder of their own childhood- when mother would rather drink and carouse than care for her children.

To be sure, a good mother is a treasure.  But by the same token, a bad mother is a curse.  And in spite of Hallmark’s dizzying fixation on the glories of motherhood it must, it has to be said, that not all moms can be called mothers.

So on Mother’s Day, to those of you who have had the great fortune of having Mothers worthy of the name, have a great day and be very, very thankful.  To those of you who had or have the misfortune of drawing a woman without any true mothering instincts, my most heartfelt condolences.

George Will is Right About Trump

The man doesn’t know what it means to know.

 It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about Donald Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence.

In February, acknowledging Black History Month, Trump said that “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.” Because Trump is syntactically challenged, it was possible and tempting to see this not as a historical howler about a man who died 122 years ago, but as just another of Trump’s verbal fender benders, this one involving verb tenses.

Now, however, he has instructed us that Andrew Jackson was angry about the Civil War that began 16 years after Jackson’s death. Having, let us fancifully imagine, considered and found unconvincing William Seward’s 1858 judgment that the approaching Civil War was “an irrepressible conflict,” Trump says: “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

Library shelves groan beneath the weight of books asking questions about that war’s origins, so who, one wonders, are these “people” who don’t ask the questions that Trump evidently thinks have occurred to him uniquely? Presumably they are not the astute “lot of,” or at least “some,” people Trump referred to when speaking about his February address to a joint session of Congress: “A lot of people have said that, some people said it was the single best speech ever made in that chamber.” Which demotes Winston Churchill, among many others.

Etc.  Read it all.

T. Römer, “Khirbet Qeiyafa – Some Thoughts of a Biblical Scholar. Response to Yosef Garfinkel and Aren Maeir”

I love this guy.

The article challenges the identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa with Shaaraim, mentioned only three times (or even less) in the Hebrew Bible. It also questions Garfinkel’s idea that the place should be related directly to King David. The absence of iconic material and pig bones cannot be used to claim a Judahite character of the site.

Etc.  I love this guy.

The Bee Stings The Senseless Buzzword Craze

Staff at Liferevival Collective were reportedly “totally stoked” to learn dozens of new buzzwords at the church’s vision meeting Thursday, inside sources reported.

The church reportedly gathers every six months to vision-cast key terms together, just as the previous crop of buzzwords have expired into nonsense, in an attempt to stay fresh and take the growing congregation to the next level of incarnational ministry.

“I’m excited to focus on concepts like ‘synergy’ and ‘visioneering’ for the next few months, until those words mean absolutely nothing,” youth pastor Jake Cameron reportedly told one of his interns. “Back in 2013, we really tried to rally around the idea of being ‘missional,’ which I think mostly consists of playing lots of video games and hanging out—you know, doing life together. That was one of my faves.”

“‘Loving on people’ is up there too—what a shelf life that one had,” Cameron added. “There’s rumors of folks down in the Bible belt still saying it.”

At publishing time, Cameron revealed that they had gathered all of this season’s terms into a Google doc titled “Community-Centric, Sustainable Growth In Our Market’s Mindshare.”

And as a reminder, if your church name lacks any denominational affiliation, shut up.

No, You Don’t Know Everything

From Luther’s meal chats-

Master Philip examined a student in Anthony Lauterbach’s home. He was a schoolmaster in Stargard, and when he answered thoughtlessly Philip said, “Do not answer so abruptly and burst out so heedlessly, for there are more things we do not know than there are things we know.”

Luther remarked in connection with this, “Jonas once claimed that he knew everything in the Holy Scriptures and was angry at me because I didn’t let this claim pass unnoticed. But I know there are many things I don’t know. I have preached for twenty-five years and still don’t understand the verse, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live’ [Rom. 1:17].”

Word, Martin. Word.

A New Documentary on the ‘Babel Stele’

Via

From the website of the Smithsonian Channel:

SECRETS: SEASON 4: EPISODE 1
TOWER OF BABEL

Inside the legendary city of Babylon in modern-day Iraq lie the remains of a vast structure, which ancient records suggest was the Tower of Babel. Is it possible that this biblical stairway to heaven actually existed? Experts think it did, and thanks to satellite technology and new discoveries, they have pinpointed exactly where the legendary tower once stood, and what it looked like. Join us as we revisit the inspiration for one of the strangest stories in the Bible, and then recreate the spectacular skyscraper in all its glory.

The programme includes discussion of a seventh/sixth-century BCE stone stele that depicts E-temen-anki, the ziggurat of Babylon as rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar II. This site has long been identified as the model for the Bible’s Tower of Babel, but the stele’s appearance on the show has inspired some overexcited reports on Christian media websites: “Scientists Discover Irrefutable Evidence Tower of Babel Was Real” (Charisma News); “Evidence for Bible’s Tower of Babel Discovered” (Christian Post); “Stone Tablet Believed to Confirm Tower of Babel” (WND); and so on.

Etc., where the fact that all the claims made on those sites are completely overblown.  As one would expect.  Read Richard’s entire post.

#Bam: Calvin on Predestination

Worth citing fully from the Institutes:

The predestination by which God adopts some to the hope of life, and adjudges others to eternal death, no man who would be thought pious ventures simply to deny; but it is greatly caviled at, especially by those who make prescience its cause. We, indeed, ascribe both prescience and predestination to God; but we say, that it is absurd to make the latter subordinate to the former (see chap. 22 sec. 1). When we attribute prescience to God, we mean that all things always were, and ever continue, under his eye; that to his knowledge there is no past or future, but all things are present, and indeed so present, that it is not merely the idea of them that is before him (as those objects are which we retain in our memory), but that he truly sees and contemplates them as actually under his immediate inspection.

This prescience extends to the whole circuit of the world, and to all creatures. By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death. This God has testified, not only in the case of single individuals; he has also given a specimen of it in the whole posterity of Abraham, to make it plain that the future condition of each nation lives entirely at his disposal: “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance,” (Deut. 32:8, 9).

The separation is before the eyes of all; in the person of Abraham, as in a withered stock, one people is specially chosen, while the others are rejected; but the cause does not appear, except that Moses, to deprive posterity of any handle for glorying, tells them that their superiority was owing entirely to the free love of God. The cause which he assigns for their deliverance is, “Because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them,” (Deut. 4:37); or more explicitly in another chapter, “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people: for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you,” (Deut. 7:7, 8).

He repeatedly makes the same intimations, “Behold, the heaven, and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them,” (Deut. 10:14, 15). Again, in another passage, holiness is enjoined upon them, because they have been chosen to be a peculiar people; while in another, love is declared to be the cause of their protection (Deut. 23:5). This, too, believers with one voice proclaim, “He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob, whom he loved,” (Ps. 47:4). The endowments with which God had adorned them, they all ascribe to gratuitous love, not only because they knew that they had not obtained them by any merit, but that not even was the holy patriarch endued with a virtue that could procure such distinguished honor for himself and his posterity. And the more completely to crush all pride, he upbraids them with having merited nothing of the kind, seeing they were a rebellious and stiff-necked people (Deut. 9:6).

Often, also, do the prophets remind the Jews of this election by way of disparagement and opprobrium, because they had shamefully revolted from it. Be this as it may, let those who would ascribe the election of God to human worth or merit come forward. When they see that one nation is preferred to all others, when they hear that it was no feeling of respect that induced God to show more favor to a small and ignoble body, nay, even to the wicked and rebellious, will they plead against him for having chosen to give such a manifestation of mercy? But neither will their obstreperous words hinder his work, nor will their invectives, like stones thrown against heaven, strike or hurt his righteousness; nay, rather they will fall back on their own heads.

To this principle of a free covenant, moreover, the Israelites are recalled whenever thanks are to be returned to God, or their hopes of the future to be animated. “The Lord he is God,” says the Psalmist; “it is he that has made us, and not we ourselves: we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture,” (Ps. 100:3; 95:7). The negation which is added, “not we ourselves,” is not superfluous, to teach us that God is not only the author of all the good qualities in which men excel, but that they originate in himself, there being nothing in them worthy of so much honor. In the following words also they are enjoined to rest satisfied with the mere good pleasure of God: “O ye seed of Abraham, his servant; ye children of Jacob, his chosen,” (Ps. 105:6). And after an enumeration of the continual mercies of God as fruits of election, the conclusion is, that he acted thus kindly because he remembered his covenant. With this doctrine accords the song of the whole Church, “They got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favor unto them,” (Ps. 44:3).

It is to be observed, that when the land is mentioned, it is a visible symbol of the secret election in which adoption is comprehended. To like gratitude David elsewhere exhorts the people, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance,” (Ps. 33:12). Samuel thus animates their hopes, “The Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it has pleased the Lord to make you his people,” (1 Sam. 12:22). And when David’s faith is assailed, how does he arm himself for the battle? “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causes to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts,” (Ps. 65:4).

But as the hidden election of God was confirmed both by a first and second election, and by other intermediate mercies, Isaiah thus applies the terms “The Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel,” (Isa. 14:1). Referring to a future period, the gathering together of the dispersion, who seemed to have been abandoned, he says, that it will be a sign of a firm and stable election, notwithstanding of the apparent abandonment. When it is elsewhere said, “I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away,” (Isa. 41:9), the continual course of his great liberality is ascribed to paternal kindness. This is stated more explicitly in Zechariah by the angel, the Lord “shall choose Jerusalem again,” as if the severity of his chastisements had amounted to reprobation, or the captivity had been an interruption of election, which, however, remains inviolable, though the signs of it do not always appear.

All of which is why it’s not very helpful or wise to get bent out of shape when surveys about the ‘decline of Christianity’ say this or that.