October 23, 2004

Faith in Public

Jared over at Exultate Justi has an outstanding piece on this topic. There's more at National Review Online. I've said my piece on it a time or two.

I do not see how faith and action can ever be separated, if you are following your faith in a consistant manner. Faith requires you to believe a certain way about things, and those beliefs require you to act in certain ways. This is hard for people without faith to understand. They cannot see what it is about faith that makes it so vital to people who have it. Part of the problem is us.

People of faith often are not living consistently. We say that we believe one thing, but in other areas of our lives, we act a different way. God is supposed to be a vital part of our lives, but we act as if He's jsut an old relative that we go to visit on Sundays. We nod at the message, we sing the songs, and nothing that happens within the walls of the church has any impact at all on our lives. We'd be better off staying home and sleeping in. The Barna group has a survey dealing with this issue. I was going to address it here, but after looking at it, I think it needs its own post. I may save that one until next week, while I'm writing papers.

If faith matters (and I say this to people of all faiths, not just Christianity), then it always matters. It matters when you go to school. It matters when you get to the office. It matters when you decide what you are going to read, or what you will watch. And it matters when you are elected to public office.

Unless you are John Kerry. Then, faith is a personal thing, not a public thing. It has no impact on anything he does outside of church. In many ways, he would fit in quite well with the average American evangelical.

And that's a shame.

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Superblessed's Christian Blog Awards

I have to admit, I didn't know about these until I read about them over at Bene Diction. There's a great list of blogs here -- and only a couple that I read all the time. Check out the list, and maybe you'll find some new reading material.

Just don't stop reading the OLD reading material, OK?

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Presidential Prayer Catch-Up

Day 28 is here at News from the Great Beyond.

Day 29 is at Spare Change.
Day 30 is at Right as Usual.
Day 31 is at Better Living.

There are still some open slots, so email Bryan and let him know which day you want to take. The list telling you what days are still available is right here.

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October 21, 2004

This Week in Church History

October 22, 1884.

Jesus came back on this date in 1884. Did you miss it? Yeah, so did everyone else.

Baptist minister William Miller, ignoring Christ's statement in Matthew that na man knows the day or the hour except God Himself, decided to predict Christ's return. He looked through history, took the traditional 'day=year' interpretation of Daniel 8 to heart, and decided that October 22, 1884 was The Day(tm).

He got together about 100,000 of his closest followers, and they sat on hillsides all over the world to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

When it became obvious to everyone that Jesus wasn't coming back that day, one of the leaders got up and made this statement: "I never did fix upon the precise time myself, and I always told my brethren they would get into trouble if they did; but they would not listen to me, but followed other leaders...I believe the most important thing after all is, to be ready..." Of course, he was one of them sitting on the hill waiting, so you have to wonder about his sincerity at that point.

It is dangerous to start setting dates. I can remember the sensation caused by the book 88 reasons Why the Lord Will Come Back in 1988. I'd LOVE to have been able to interview the author in 1989 or 1990 and ask him what happened. I think you can still find this book in used bookstores, though if I'd written the thing I'd be travelling the country buying up all the copies I could find, and burning them.

Date setting is fun, and popular. Nothing draws a crowd better than "Come to the revival meeting tonight, and I'll tell you when Jesus is coming back!"

Unless the answer is "Pretty Soon!", don't believe it. Christians are commanded to be busy until He comes back -- so that when He gets here, He finds we've been doing what we're supposed to. THAT is the lesson we can learn from the Millerites.

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NOT a Fun Time

This has been a miserable week. That's why the posting schedule has been nonexistant, and I apologize. Especially after I said I was going to do better.

Started off great -- I got an A+ on my Philosophy midterm, that I really wasn't expecting. Another A on the weekly quiz, and I was ready for an awesome week at seminary.

That lasted exactly five hours. My wife called to let me know that someone had managed to get her check card number, and had bought a TON of shoes and other goodies online. We had nothing in the checking account -- and my rent for commuter housing was due, AND tuition was getting ready to come out of the account.

I keep looking at the A+ on my test, trying to recapture the feeling of pure exhileration and joy that I felt when I first go it. Then I think of someone ordering $400 worth of shoes from one online store (specializing in cheap shoes, BTW), and I see nothing but red.

It's been hard keeping focus, but with God's help I've managed. Hopefully, I'll manage to keep it up, since this semester is about to get into the really fun time -- two papers and three finals in the next month and a half. OOOOOOO BOY!!!

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Study of Mark -- Mark 6:14-29

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some said, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him." 15 But others said, "He is Elijah." And others said, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised." 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias's daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you." 23 And he vowed to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom." 24 And she went out and said to her mother, "For what should I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptist." 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

I've always thought it was interesting that people believed that Christ was John the Baptist reincarnated. Maybe because when Jesus' ministry hit it's stride, John's was declining. Maybe because they had some in common -- preaching and teaching repentence, the Kingdom of God, etc.

I tend to think that it was because they didn't want to face the implications of who Jesus was claiming to be. Jesus claimed the authority to forgive sins. Nobody but God can forgive sins -- Jesus didn't argue with that assertion. That's one of the clear passages where Jesus claims to be God.

So people would rather believe that Jesus was John reincarnated (even though they had been seen together, in public, by a rather large crowd, in Mark 1), than entertain the notion that He might really be God.

People do this all the time today. They go in search of the historic Jesus, and find out that he looks a lot like they do -- their own personal Jesus, to quote a line from an old song. This image of Jesus as a nice guy, someone who taught some great stuff, someone who forgave people when they messed up -- this Jesus is the kind of guy we want to hang out with.

They ignore the Jesus who commanded the woman to "Go, and sin no more." We forget that He told her she was wrong, and not to do it anymore. We forget about Jesus condemning the moneychangers (some believe that He did it twice), clearing them out of the temple. That wasn't too forgiving.

We forget that Jesus knows out hearts, and He knows who is looking for forgiveness. He knows if we want a way out, or if we're happy in our sins. And he reminds us that we are to go, and sin no more.

People don't like that Jesus very much. It doesn't fit in with their lifestyle choice. It doesn't let them do the things that they want to do -- things that their flesh enjoys. They don't see that it also gives them the opportunity to live life the way that humans were meant to live life -- in a manner that is pleasing to God. Because without Christ covering our sin, we can't make God happy.

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October 19, 2004

Presidential Prayer

Day 26 is here at Spare Change.

Day 27 is here at Better Living.

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Reflections on Turning 300

Somewhere back there, while the blogger counter wasn't quite keeping up, I turned the 300 posts mark. I'm not sure what I expected; maybe Blogspot should set up a script that generates fireworks or something when you hit 300. Should you get presents from everyone in your blogroll (haha)? Should there be an IRC party? Do you send cards?

I look back on the things I posted at the beginning -- some of them were quite good, and others were pure drek. I haven't had anything up at the Best of Me Symphony lately, partially because I didn't see anything really noteworthy to submit. But I think I had a different objective back then.

I just wanted a place to spout off. Somewhere to go to rant, when I saw something in life that struck me as stupid/inconsistant/whatever. Sure, I wanted to be read, but that wasn't the idea at first -- that's why I opted for the free blog solution.

Somewhere along the line, something happened. People actually started reading what I was writing. At last glance, there were 20 people subscribed to my feeds through Bloglines (of course, 6 of them are too embarrassed to let anyone know who they are ...). This isn't a high traffic site by any streach of the imagination, but I actually have people reading what I write, and that is scary.

I can't just throw something together -- even though I often do, and it's obvious. I'm feeling the duty to say something worth saying -- and something worth reading. There are a lot of places you could go visit, but you show up here, some of you several times a day. Even when all I've posted is some stupid thing about what OS I am.

Thanks. And I promise to do better work.

I've got a lot of things rolling around in my head (lots of extra room there!) that will show up here in the next few weeks (some this week, depending on my schedule). I'm working on more about Scripture, sola scriptura, inspiration, and all that is associated with it. I've been reading about middle knowledge for my philosophy paper -- fascinating stuff, with some interesting implications -- so that may show up here. I'll probably link to my review of James Whites KJVO book, since it'll be WAY too long to post (5-6 pages). And I'll get my other papers up somewhere for all to read and laugh at.

I guess the next milestone is 500. Maybe by my birthday (January 26), maybe later. But I'll get there.

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October 18, 2004

Cruising the League: #s - D

If you want the newest posts from everyone, click the Blog Aggregator link. Some of these are the newest, and some aren't -- these are the ones that made an impression on me.

  • This one from 21st Century Reformation ties in well with what I've been talking about re: sola Scriptura. I especially like the idea that we should think for ourselves. I wish more people thought that way.

  • Head over here to read A Physicist's Perspective on 2 Timothy.

  • BigRed5 has a perfect example of why I would like to homeschool our daughter. Nothing to do with the "lack of morality" of the teaching of "secular humanism" or whatever other buzzwords you want to use. Public schools, and to an extent most schools in general, teach learning as a means to an end. Learn this you you can pass this test. Learn these facts so you can do this. I want my daughter to learn because learning is fun. My wife and I both love learning new things -- we both watched the unsealing of the crypt oif the di Medici's on TV last night, and learned a few new things about forensics. We want our daughter to enjoy that as much as we do.

  • I presuppositional apologetics is your bag (and I know I'm enjoying it far more than I thought I would), head over to The Dawn Treader, paying special attention to this and this.

  • Dead Man Blogging talking about presecution.

  • Over at Doggie's Breakfast, Stephen has been reading The Lost Message of Jesus by Steve Chalke. Interesting review (multiple posts here).

More later -- almost time to get ready for dinner, then off to school. Probably more posting on Tuesday evening.

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Presidential Prayer, Day 25

It's here at Spare Change.

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October 17, 2004

LOTS of New Links!!!

Yes, I have joined the League of Reformed Bloggers. So that means there are a LOT more blogs that I've got links to, and they're all pretty good. I'll probably cruise through there this afternoon, and let everyone know what I've found, but in the meantime hit some of those sites yourself. I've already found several that I really wish I'd blogrolled earlier -- there's some great stuff out there!

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October 16, 2004

Presidential Prayer, Day 23 and 24

Here and here at Ryan's Head.

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This Week in Church History

October 16, 1701.

A group of Congregationalist ministers, unhappy with the liberalism at Harvard, decided to found their own school. They founded The Collegiate School so that "Youth may be instructed in the Arts and Sciences who through the blessing of God may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church and Civil State."

The first classes were held in the home of the first rector, Abraham Pierson. The students were expected to live religiously, and pray regularly. The main purpose of the student body was to be to know God in Jesus Christ. And even into the 1800s, the school stayed true to that goal.

The school was renamed in 1745, in honor of the donation of $2,800, and was still purposed to propagate the Protestant religion. The school still carries the name of this donor, though it is no longer following this course. The donor was Elihu Yale.

Schools change. The example of this particular school should serve as a warning to the founders of today's Christian institutions of higher learning. Good intentions of founders do not last long -- it is necessary to put in place mechanisms for accountability, to make sure that the school remains faithful to it's call.

This is true of individuals, as well. Without some sort of accountability, we tend to stray away from our calling. It's easy to do. We all need to be careful that we take precautions so that it doesn't happen to us.

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October 13, 2004

Post #297

I'm thinking about posting meaningless stuff until I get to 300, then having a huge celebration where I explain the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (tm). But then again, we all know that it's 42, so what would the point be?

Anyway, here's a thing I found:

You are Debian Linux. People have difficulty getting to know you.  Once you finally open your shell they're apt to love you.
Which OS are You?

I'm really posting this so I don't have to read Melanchthon. Of course, I'll have to read it sometime anyway. Just not right now.

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I have a TWIN???

Whilst aimlessly surfing the 'net, I found this attractive, rather well-designed site.

The CSS is better than mine. The graphic is neater than mine. I'm jealous. Maybe typepad is the way to go ....

But I'm the older twin!!!

Head over and check out A View From the Pew. There's some good stuff there, if you're looking for a Catholic perspective -- and a conservative one, at that.

And tell them I said Hi!

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Church/State Separation UPDATE

I have to say, Americans United works fast. I sent the form in this morning, and got a reply at about 10:10. Robert Boston told me that they have received numerous complaints -- I wonder how many conservatives complained, as I did, just to see if they would do anything to their own side.

They have filed a complaint with the IRS, which was delivered this morning. Have to admit it -- I don't like most of what they're against, but at least they are consistant. And I really didn't expect them to do it. They told me that the New York Times would have more information, but I'm having trouble accessing their site from the computer lab here at school. I'll stay on it, and update when I find out something.

{UPDATE} You have to register (but the piewview thing works here), but check out this link.

I especially love the Kerry campaign's statement: "Speaking to a church is well within the limits of the tax code and it is quite different from the way the Bush campaign has aggressively pushed to use churches to distribute their campaign material and treated them as an arm of its re-election effort." Bush doesn't have a Baptist minister working for him -- Kerry does (Rev. Jackson).

A church endorsing a candidate explicitly is a clear violation of the law. It's also an abuse of the pulpit. I have no problem with a preacher admonishing the congregation to vote their conscience, or even to vote for a candidate that holds to a specific position on something like abortion or same-sex marriage. I have a problem when "Vote For {candidate}!" is proclaimed from a pulpit -- and that is exactly what happened in Florida. As far as I know, churches that support Bush haven't done anything this blatent (or this stupid) -- but that may be simply because the attention is focused on them, rather than the liberal churches.

I'm glad to see that Americans United (I've given the link enough -- I don't want them getting TOO much traffic from me!) is consistant in their objective of keeping churches true to the letter (AND the spirit) of campaign law.

{UPDATE AGAIN} I forgot about this. They've done it before, and are doing it again.

The amazing thing is how little press coverage this is getting. The Times is the only paper so far to cover the newest story, though beliefnet has also mentioned it. Very little has been said about the Kerry campaign's targeting of churches -- only Bush's. Of course, Bush has done more, but that shouldn't matter. If it's being done at all, it should be news, no matter who is doing it.

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Presidential Prayer

Getting caught up again:

Day 18 is at Spare Change.

Day 19 is at Reverend Mike's.

Day 20 is at Spare Change.

Day 21 is at Spare Change, posted by Jared at Exultate Justi (who, incidently, has a great post about The Christian Citizen that echoes some of what I've said here. Go check it out!)

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Church/State Separation Update

Still haven't heard from the folks at Americans United. I DID find out that they have an online form to report violations (like Kerry speaking at a church in Florida, for example).

The form is here. If you look at their web page, you'll notice that they're really only concerned with conservative religious separation -- I have yet to read anything they've said about a Baptist minister being active in politics -- I'm talking about Rev. Jesse Jackson. Nothing about Rev. Al Sharpton, either. Pat Robertson, however, is featured on the main page. (Personally, I think that any minister of the Gospel should consider it a demotion and a failure in his calling to leave the pastorate to run for any political office, but that's just me.)

Maybe if we ALL let them know about the Florida 'violation', they'll be forced to actually do something about it. I still haven't seen anything about it on their site -- and I really don't expect to. They're as inconsistent as any other liberal organization.

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What IS Sola Scriptura, Anyway??

If there is one thing that I am tired of hearing from people it's this:

Sola Scriptura is inconsistant. You SAY that the Bible is your only authority, but that teaching isn't even in the Bible! You Protestants are idiots/morons/heretics/insult-of-the-day.
The sad thing is, people who should know better even perpetuate the misunderstanding of what sola scriptura is.

Sola Scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the final authority. It is the only thing that is ultimately authoritative -- that is, it is the final authority in matters of faith and practice. This actually ties into the idea of inspiration and inerrancy. IF we believe that the Bible is inspired (breathed out) by God, then it carries with it the authority of God -- it's teachings are God's teachings, because what it says is what God said. IF that is true, then Scripture is the final authority, just as if God Himself were speaking -- because He is.

Protestants do not deny tradition. Luther and Calvin quoted from Augustine extensively. Calvin quoted from Bernard of Clairveux. Both used patristic texts. The difference is that Luther and Calvin both tested these early fathers against Scripture. If they contradict Scripture, they are wrong. If you want to find out about the early Fathers being wrong, do a study on Peter Abelard. (If anyone knows of an available edition of Sic et Non, let me know. I REALLY want to get one.)

Protestants also do not deny that Scripture must be interpreted correctly. Baptists teach that the believer is responsible for their spiritual health (priesthood of the believer), but we stress (or we SHOULD stress) the need for a correct foundation for interpreting Scripture. That entails study -- including the study of historical theology. We want to know what has been believed before -- but we judge all belief in the light of Scripture.

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October 11, 2004

Church and State Separation

WHERE are the folks from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State? I'm blowin' the whistle on this one:

Meanwhile, Kerry hit the trail in Florida on Sunday, attending a Catholic mass before speaking at Friendship Mission Baptist Church in Miami alongside Rev. Al Sharpton and newly-hired campaign adviser Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Kerry received a standing ovation at the church, where he told parishioners that God was present there. After the church speech, Kerry has some down time before heading to New Mexico, where he will do his final debate preparations before Wednesday's debate.
(from FoxNews)So a church is backing Kerry -- rather obviously backing him, from other reports I've read. And not a word out of anyone but some conservative bloggers.

Maybe someone should call Project Fair Play. I've sent them an email; we'll see what happens.

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