January 11, 2006

Validation

So there are validators to see if your HTML, XHTML, and CSS are compliant (and I don't have to check -- I'm pretty sure mine isn't right now. That's one thing the new template will address).

Now there's a validator for your Christology. Are You Chalcedonian Compliant?

(And just so you know, I am. 100%.)

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January 09, 2006

Biblical Authority -- The 'B' in Baptist

{I promised a series on 'Baptist Distinctives' some time ago, and this is the first in that series.}

I have a folder in my RSS reader marked "Potential Topics." As I read through articles in my RSS feeds, I copy items of interest and note to that folder, on the assumption I will one day write something about the topic of that post. Unfortunately, what usually happens is that I totally forget about what I've put there until I decide it's time to clean it out. By that time, I've forgotten whatever pearls of wisdom I had to contribute to the discussion.

This is a topic, though, that really has no "window of opportunity." The Bible as our ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice. The 1689 London Baptist Confession puts it this way, right at the very beginning: "The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience ..."

Biblical authority is important to practical Christianity. If this book we read called the Bible has no authority over our lives, if it isn't the rule we follow, then why read it? It's not a simple book to read and understand (some Bible translators' opinions to the contrary). There are plenty of self-help books out there that claim to work, and many people lead what seem to be pretty happy lives following the precepts of Tony Robbins and folks like him. The Bible makes demands on people, it gives us rules to follow, it cramps our style. If it's just another book, then why bother?
more...

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December 12, 2005

I Love It When ...

... people agree with me. From no less august a source than The Evangelical Outpost:

I find that I just donÂ’t have the stomach for those old arguments anymore. IÂ’m still willing to discuss doctrinal differences. But now IÂ’m less sure that IÂ’m standing on the right side of scripture. Is the view heretical or likely to lead someone away from salvation? Then IÂ’ll fight it tooth-and-nail. If not, then IÂ’ll have to sit it out.
I'm probably still a bit more argumentative than Joe is, and I'll admit that I will slip and argue about trivia. I will always be more than willing to lend my opinion (wanted or not), and I will engage in healthy debate with my fellow Baptists about issues related to Baptist piety and polity. If I am challenged, I will respond in what I hope will be a civil and scholarly tone. But I won't be picking fights over millennial views. I won't go on a rampage against my Presbyterian friends over infant baptism. I reserve the right to think they are wrong, and they certainly have the right to be wrong (that was a JOKE, folks!!). And as I debate, I will try to learn from my "opponents," as I hope they will try to learn from me. Because that's the point of actual debate -- anything else becomes a fight.

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December 10, 2005

A New Controversy

There's a brand new controversy brewing in the Godblogosphere, and it started at one of those blogging awards shows that I don't get nominated for.

The Blogs of Beauty contest is intended to "honor those blogs written by women who seek to bring the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ to the blogging world." Great idea. But it ran into a problem -- how do you decide which Godbloggers are actual Christians?

The lady who ran the contest recognized this, and established as a "Statement of Faith" the following:

I believe in the Godhead of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Holy Bible. I believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and my only means for the forgiveness of my sins and my salvation. My salvation is found in no one but Jesus Christ.
Orthodox, yet inclusive. Very good -- the contest wasn't meant to be denominationally specific, so this, I think, is a good list of criteria. And, after all, it ain't my contest, so the organizer can run it however she wants to.

But wherever two or three are gathered, there is disagreement. And problems. Maybe that's why I've never organized my own awards (except for the Pewies and the Clewies, both of which are awarded on an extremely subjective basis). And one of the winners (the Best Humor blog), is a Mormon blog. I'm not going to get into the arguement over whether the blog should have won -- none of my business, actually, and I've only ever read her blog today (interesting, and pretty well written, actually). But the whole thing has led to many, many posts concerning what a Christian blog is, and what it isn't.

So the question arises -- is Mormonism a Christian denomination? more...

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November 30, 2005

Profanity, Language, and Christians

Tim Challies started something. In an innocent movie review, Tim remarked about the amount of profanity:

Before I continue allow me to provide a bit of a warning. I was quite surprised at the volume of swearing in this film. Usually I would not be surprised to find bad language in a war movie, but was surprised at this one primarily because the people who recommended it to me made no mention of it. Thankfully, because of the subject matter, it was not a film we decided to watch with the children present.
Joe Carter brought the discussion to my attention the next day with his "Christian Critique of Swearing." Joe does a great job of assembling all the relevent posts, and firmly holds a middle ground between extreme legalism and extreme license.
more...

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November 09, 2005

THIS is What Happens ...

... when you put motivational speeches before the study of God's Word.

This is what happens when people get too focused on a messenger. When they never hear 'hard preaching' on topics like sin, repentance, and Hell. They have to pledge their allegiance to their preacher. They have to make themselves readily identifiable to others of their group, so they know that they are the ones who listen to the truth.

What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
(1 Corinthians 1:12-13 ESV)

The rip on the What Would Jesus Do is telling. Rip one marketing program to create another. But while the WWJD thing actually had some potential before it became trite, IWJO says nothing.

Or maybe it says a lot. Maybe it says "I watch powerless preaching." Or "I don't like it when a preacher preaches about sin all the time. It makes me feel bad."

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

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September 23, 2005

Being a Baptist

I started on this track to write about John Piper's decision to adopt a more open membership stance, especially concerning baptism. But it's grown on me. It's become a huge monster that is asking the question that is really behind much of the controcersy in the Southern Baptist Convention today.

What is a Baptist? What defines a Baptist?

When I look back in Baptist history (and don't worry -- I'm no Landmarker), I can see certain Baptist distinctives, it's true. And they can even be turned into the handy acronym BAPTIST, so that we can remember them. But there is one thing that Baptists have been historically recognized for -- believer's baptism by immersion. more...

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September 12, 2005

A New Perspective On ... Katrina

I had the opportunity to preach yesterday evening at Greenup First Baptist church, where my family has been members for a couple years now. I spoke on the reasons for Bible study. Midway through the sermon, I went off on a track that I didn't recognize from any of my preparation. more...

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September 06, 2005

A Post Worth Reading, A Prayer Worth Remembering

Found this just today, though it's made the rounds of the blogosphere a few times.

Our Father
who lives above and beyond the dimension of the internet

Give us this day a life worth blogging,
The access to words and images that express our journey with passion and integrity,
And a secure connection to publish your daily mercies.
Your Kingdom come into new spaces today,
As we make known your mysteries,
Posting by posting,
Blog by blog.

Give this day,
The same ability to those less privileged,
Whose lives speak louder than ours,
Whose sacrifice is greater,
Whose stories will last longer.

Forgive us our sins,
For blog-rolling strangers and pretending they are friends,
For counting unique visitors but not noticing unique people,
For delighting in the thousands of hits but ignoring the ONE who returns,
For luring viewers but sending them away empty handed,
For updating daily but repenting weekly.

As we forgive those who trespass on our sites to appropriate our thoughts without reference,
Our images without approval,
Our ideas without linking back to us.

Lead us not into the temptation to sell out our congregation,
To see people as links and not as lives,
To make our blogs look better than our actual story.

But deliver us from the evil of pimping ourselves instead of pointing to you,
From turning our guests into consumers of someone else's products,
From infatuation over the toys of technology,
From idolatry over techology
From fame before our time has come.

For Yours is the power to guide the destinies behind the web logs,
To bring hurting people into the sanctuaries of our sites,
To give us the stickiness to follow you, no matter who is watching or reading.
Yours is the glory that makes people second look our sites and our lives,
Yours is the heavy ambience,

For ever and ever,
Amen

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August 31, 2005

Who Can Do Good?

Every so often, I hear a familiar arguement. A Christian, usually in arguement with a non-theist (covers atheists and agnostics), will say something about God as the source for morality. The non-theist will become quite agitated, and offer up examples of good deeds done by unbelievers (and sometimes anti-believers). The question is then asked:

"Can a person who is unsaved do good deeds?"

more...

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August 13, 2005

What Can We Do??

Steve McCoy over at Missional Baptist Blog (and yes, it still says Emerging SBC Leaders on the aggregator. Sorry -- I'll fix it this weekend) has a great, thought provoking post.

Name three things that a pastor/church leader could start/do in the next two months to have a greater impact on their community.
I would add something, though -- after you list those three, compare them to the things your church is actually doing.

One of the things I love about our church is that the pastor is always open to new areas of ministry. If you have an idea for something the church should be doing, you can always go talk to him. BUT you have to be ready to DO what you are suggesting. I've gotten a couple of assignments because of that, and I know others who now have a full-time volunteer position at the church because of it. So my challenge is to think of areas of ministry that will give glory to God rather than your church, suggest them to your pastor, and then roll up your sleeves and get to work.

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August 05, 2005

Teach Us To Pray

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples."
(Luke 11:1 ESV)

We often don't know how to pray -- that much is obvious from our prayers. Usually, we throw up a quick "God please get me through this" or a "God please let this happen" or something like that. At meals, it's a quick "Thanks for the food" prayer. At bedtime, we teach our kids to do their "God Blesses."

The apostles were men of prayer -- read the book of Acts and that will become obvious to you.
more...

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June 26, 2005

Critical Christians

Much has been said in the past few days about criticizing our fellow believers. Should we or shouldn't we?

Most of the commentors responding to my Joel Osteen posts have said NO. "Judge not," they say, "lest ye be judged." And that is good advice. We shouldn't be quick to condemn people. And that's why I posted concerning Osteen's apology as soon as I read it on his site. If I was only interested in condemning someone, I'd have never done that, nor would I have recognized the spirit in which the apology was given. Osteen is truely sorry. He doesn't try to blame anyone else for what happened (which his defenders were quick to do). He admits that he wasn't clear, he reaffirmed what he and his church believe, and he promised to do better in the future. I am praying that God will strengthen him, and give him the opportunity to do just that.

But were we wrong to criticize him? Was it wrong to call the problem to his attention? And what about "Judge not?" more...

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Osteen Apologizes

Many of you have called, written or e-mailed regarding my recent appearance on Larry King Live. I appreciate your comments and value your words of correction and encouragement.

It was never my desire or intention to leave any doubt as to what I believe and Whom I serve. I believe with all my heart that it is only through Christ that we have hope in eternal life. I regret and sincerely apologize that I was unclear on the very thing in which I have dedicated my life.

Jesus declared in John 14; I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the only way to salvation. However, it wasnÂ’t until I had the opportunity to review the transcript of the interview that I realize I had not clearly stated that having a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to heaven. ItÂ’s about the individualÂ’s choice to follow Him.

God has given me a platform to present the Gospel to a very diverse audience. In my desire not to alienate the people that Jesus came to save, I did not clearly communicate the convictions that I hold so precious.

I will use this as a learning experience and believe that God will ultimately use it for my good and His glory. I am comforted by the fact that He sees my heart and knows my intentions. I am so thankful that I have friends, like you, who are willing to share their concerns with me.

Thank you again to those who have written. I hope that you accept my deepest apology and see it in your heart to extend to me grace and forgiveness.

As always, I covet your prayers and I am believing for GodÂ’s best in your life,

Joel Osteen

from website. more...

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June 21, 2005

Joel Osteen

I've been in debates elsewhere about Osteen, and his ministry. There are a lot of people who value his ministry, and look at the success that he's experienced as a blessing from God that we shouldn't question.

Osteen was on Larry King last night -- the transcript is here. He certainly made it clear what he believes.


more...

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June 14, 2005

Is Anyone Surprised?

You scored as Reformed Evangelical. You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.

Reformed Evangelical

82%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

75%

Fundamentalist

75%

Neo orthodox

64%

Emergent/Postmodern

46%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

43%

Roman Catholic

32%

Classical Liberal

25%

Modern Liberal

7%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Boy, this thing was tough to get formatted to fit!! Had to leave off the picture.

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June 10, 2005

Open Source Theology -- The Update

This seems to be the week for revisiting old posts! No, I'm not going to repost anything this time (though I'm tempted, considering how many hits this topic gets at the old Pew), just a link to my original posting here.

A bit of an explanation -- my original post wasn't a critique on the idea of open source theology; in fact, I hadn't heard of the site until after I made the original post (and I noted it here). I'd actually never seen anything called "open source theology" and thought that the title sounded interesting. And I enjoyed carrying the software metaphor out throughout the piece. It's been included in a couple different places (including the King of the Blogs tournament) and has NEVER goten this much attention.

NOW, there are a couple comments over at the old place (both in the past week, to a post almost a year old!) -- one in particular deserves an answer.

How do you know which patches constitute an "authorized upgrade from the Manufacturer"? How do we know Reformation 1.5 was authorized? The church didn't seem to think so at the time, and now the church is in the same boat, criticizing any new work in theology because it doesn't fit well with the status quo.
more...

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May 31, 2005

Does Western Christendom Still Believe in God?

{This is a repost of one of my favorite posts at the old place. I'm gradually moving the best stuff over here -- eventually, I'll have everything in it's proper chronological order, but I want to put these first so that new readers can enjoy these "historic" posts. This is originally from November 21, 2004}

I need to define my terms first, because I'm using the word 'Christendom' in a different way than I usually do. I'm going to use Christendom to describe Western society in general, assuming (I think correctly) that much of Western culture, especially it's morality, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

I started thinking about this topic on Thursday in my Intro to Philosophy class, as we discussed Nietzsche's The Madman and it's claim that God is dead. I'll start by letting the text speak for itself:
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May 30, 2005

What IS Fundamentalism?

I'm reposting this from several posts I made on the old blog. I'm not reposting the whole thing -- just some parts, so you might want to head over there and read the full posts I made a little over a year ago. I just finished reading this piece by Frank Schaeffer. I like Frank -- I've read his books about his son in the Marines (Keepin Faith and Faith of Our Sons) and enjoyed them immensely. I've read his father's works, and been blessed by them. But I'm not sure that Frank "gets Fundamentalism" as well as he thinks he does. What is needed is a good definition of what fundamentalism is, and what it isn't. more...

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May 26, 2005

Is the Reformation Over?

Mark Noll has co-written a new book with Carolyn Nystrom called Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Asessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism that attempts to answer just this question. I just found out that the book is scheduled to be out in July, and it's on my reading list (now WAY too long).
more...

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