Faith

Brazil's passion and Germany's discipline...

Listening to the talking heads doing a postmortem on Brazil's epic loss to Germany last night, I was fascinated to hear former soccer heroes lampooning Brazil's "passion." They kept saying things like, "it takes more than passion to win a football game" and "Brazil's emotions came up short against Germany's discipline."

For years I've been embarrassed for all the Christian men who take every conceivable opportunity to announce to the world what they're passionate about. I'm waiting for one of them to tell me he's passionate in bed with his wife, but of course that is what is never said. Instead these men simper and coo about their great passion...


Waiting in faith...

Thinking this exchange might be helpful to a number of Christian brothers and sisters God has blessed with singleness, I post it here. First, a comment left yesterday under a 2006 post titled, "Single Christian women: how shall we then wait...."

I would like to know what do advise for someone over fifty that has waited for a spouse and a career. I asked GOD when I was very young what he wanted for me and I am still waiting. It is hard to watch people saved and unsaved marry and have child when your GOD has left you hanging. How do you not lose faith? I am never asked if I am married by the way only why I don't have children.

Dear Diane,

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)

I'm very sorry to hear that our Heavenly Father has not chosen to give you a husband and children. This is a difficult life to live and it's clear you feel the disappointment keenly. May I give you a couple brief suggestions?


Happy Fathers Day...

When you read the Bible and see it condemning a particular sin, if the sin seems absent today, do you move on? Or do you presume every sin is common to man?

Take bloodshed, for instance: across the Old Testament God rebukes man for shedding innocent blood.1 In fact, the first mention of blood in Scripture is God's condemnation of Cain for shedding the blood of his brother, Abel: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground."2

When you read this and the many other places where God's people are condemned for shedding innocent blood, do you stop to consider whose blood cries out to God from our soil? Do you find yourself wondering whether God cares about the hundreds of thousands of disabled and elderly who are starved, dehydrated, and drugged to death each year in our hospitals, nursing homes, and bedrooms? Do you wonder if God keeps track of the newborn who are denied...


Affirming stuff, part one...

Christian faith has always unapologetically been affirming of “stuff” - physical stuff. So affirming of stuff, in fact, that the entire world is scandalized by it. Some might say that one problem with our godless generation is its denigration of stuff; like a child in formation within his mother’s womb. The reason such a child may be incautiously discarded (killed) is that it is said to be nothing more than a mess of tissue - you know, it’s “just” stuff.

The word 'gnostic' is so abused of late that it can refer to nearly anything—so nebulous, it defies concreteness. This is a sad irony. But the fact remains, Christians have always scandalized the world by our unapologetic affirmation of stuff—insofar as our spirituality is divorced from stuff, some form of dualistic juju is wreaking havoc on our very humanity. It is a violent form of dualism which rages against our identity—an identity created by God which is identifiable through our bodies... 


Praise God with us...

We praise God that He allowed our eldest grandson, Jonathan Ummel, to come through meso-Rex bypass surgery just now with flying colors. Blood flow is normal, just as if the portal vein were working normally, we were told. Jonathan is awake and alert here in the ICU six hours after he went under. The surgeon was Riccardo Superina and he said all is well. Thank you for your prayers. This is a pic of mother and father with son.

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"It shall not fasten its grip upon me."

By faith, will you join me in this prayer:

A Psalm of David. I will sing of lovingkindness and justice, To You, O LORD, I will sing praises. I will give heed to the blameless way. When will You come to me? I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil. Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure...


China comes to faith in Jesus Christ...

Back in 2010, the number of Protestant Christian believers in China had grown to 48,000,000. Projections indicate that, by 2030, China will have slightly under 250,000,000 Protestants and Roman Catholics—more than any other nation. We are seeing confessions of Christian faith by Chinese men and women in Clearnote Church, Bloomington, and we praise God as we watch the Holy Spirit working in Chinese students bringing them to faith. This past week our elders approved the baptism of another Chinese brother. What joy!

 


Scholars and the Fall...

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.  - 1Corinthians 2:12-16

Regularly, I warn academics that reason is not the one faculty of man that has escaped the Fall. To err is human, and institutions of learning both lower and higher are equally subject to this fruit of Adam's sin.

Reason and logic have been corrupted by the Fall. So, although we can say that all truth is God's truth, we must keep in mind that all man believes to be true is not. True.

The Fall's determinative impact on man's intellectual work is quite obvious to readers of Paul Johnson's Intellectuals. Again and again, Johnson demonstrates the connection between famous intellectuals' private sins...


Seminaries and search committees in the dance of death...

Pastors are called to warn their sheep. This is the reason the Apostle Paul declares his innocence of the blood of those he pastored, saying he never failed to warn them. His warnings were both public and private and he gave them every last warning God commanded him to give. (See Acts 20.)

This is not true of Reformed pastors, today. There is a great absence of pastoral care among us and the pastor whose ministry is characterized by warnings must justify those warnings while the lethargic and conflict-avoiding Reformed pastors around him who trade in flattery and presumption are viewed as paragons of clerical virtue.

Think of the spiritual destruction of their sheep caused by such careless pastors and we tremble. Let's keep in mind, though, that people choose their own churches and pastors, and thus a certain measure of blame belongs on the congregants themselves. They have a chaplain rather than a pastor because they prefer a chaplain to a pastor. They prefer a man who can keep a good religious shine on their Reformed veneer providing religious cover for friendship with the world.

If this were as far as it went, it would be bad enough. Remember how our Lord took pity on the crowds because "they were sheep without a shepherd?" This is the condition of all those souls who have chosen churches and pastors who are committed never to warn their sheep. But it goes further. The damage caused by faithless shepherds extends beyond their own parish to sheep tended by faithful shepherds, also. Richard Baxter describes the process by recording the irritation sheep have with


"He comes to my house and works His will..."

Earlier today, I wrote this in an e-mail to a dear friend whose father-in-law died in his home a month ago...

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The baby box...

Wondering why Christians adopt so many children? Watch this video and give thanks to God for the lovingkindness and tender mercies He pours out on this world through His people. Set up a baby box in your own town and see what little blessings He sends your way.


From a thousand years ago, St. Peter Damian's warnings against sodomy...

New Oxford Review just ran a review of a new translation of St. Peter Damian's eleventh century jeremiad against sodomy within the Roman Catholic priesthood and hierarchy in his time. Damian's Book of Gomorrah: An Eleventh-Century Treatise against Clerical Homosexual Practices is translated and edited by Pierre Payer and the reviewer is Anne Barbeau Gardiner, Professor Emerita of English at CUNY's John Jay College.

Professor Gardiner summarizes Damian's warnings:

As a result of their laxity, priests who have “fallen into this wickedness with eight or even ten other equally sordid men” have remained in their ranks. And so the sin has come “to be committed freely” without its practitioners fearing the loss of their priestly faculties. Damian calls this negligence rather than love because it allows a wound to spread in a neighbor’s heart, a wound “from which, I have no doubt, he dies cruelly.” Therefore, Damian himself will not “neglect to cure” that wound with the “surgery of words,” for if he remains silent, he too will deserve punishment.

And:

Rather than “fear the hatred of the depraved or the tongues of detractors,” Damian fears God, who warns him through the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, “If you see your brother doing evil and you do not correct him, I will require his blood from your hand” (3:20). Damian will not be silenced, no matter how many tell him to put the sword of his tongue in the sheath of silence: “Who am I to see such a harmful outrage growing up among the sacred orders and, as a murderer of another’s soul, preserve the stricture of silence, and to dare to await the reckoning of divine severity? Do I not begin to be responsible for a guilt whose author I never was?”

Last night, I was talking to a pastor who told of one of the men of his church...


Nathan and Anna's story...

Here's the testimony of a young mother of two who was diagnosed with melanoma a little over two years ago. Please pray for Anne, her husband, Nathan, and their two sons.


Take the time and watch this...

Wonderful testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ. Wonderful example of fatherhood after the Father Almighty, a mother in Israel, and brotherhood in Christ. Thanks, Taylor.


Why Evangelical and Reformed gnostics hate Doug Wilson, RCJR, and Doug Phillips...

One longtime friend of Baylyblog commented under Pastor Wegener's post, "What's up with the Aquilla report...". First quoting another's criticism of Doug Phillips, Ross followed with his own question:

//Maybe because Doug Phillips was a legalist who majored in minors and encouraged people to live by an increasingly strict set of man made rules?//

With an eye to the reputation Bill Gothard got for himself, is this comment about Doug and the Vision Forum ministry a fair one? (I don't know, honest).

To which I respond:

Ross, the other thing worth saying about Doug Phillips, RCJR, and Doug Wilson—the three patriarchalists that female feminists claiming to be Christians live to gossip about and spit on—is that, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

But let's change this slightly: in the land of blind Reformed Evangelicals, the one-eyed man is a monster. Evangelicals, Reformed or otherwise, hate any man who has faith, particularly when that faith is demonstrated in the most earthy and organic matters of sexual body parts and what we do or don't do with them.

Because Reformed Evangelicals are gnostic, we refuse to be pinned down with anything except words—and even those confessional words have no visible content...


R2K is segregationist...

It's a regular theme in the New Testament history that the Jewish religious leaders felt the need to guard the precarious relationship that existed between their fractious nation and the Roman Empire. If they did not keep the peace, who would? And if the peace was not kept, what would happen to their synagogues and to the Temple and to their authority and wealth and status?

It is always the established religious leaders who feel the threat God’s servants the prophets pose to their carefully negotiated separation of powers between church and state. The balance is precarious and only they are qualified to maintain it—for the good of the people, of course!

Why "R2K" instead of "2K"?

First, a word about names. Why do I make it a habit to refer to this modern novelty as “R2K,” the initial 'R' standing for "Radical" or "Revisionist" two kingdom theology, rather than simply “2K” standing for "Two Kingdom"?

In the Reformed and Protestant world, fathers of the Church have long referred to “two-kingdom” distinctions they have employed as necessary to delineate the proper spheres of authority of state and church; of city councilmen on the one hand and deacons, pastors, and elders on the other hand. These two kingdoms or spheres of authority Martin Luther variously referred to as the Kingdoms of this World and the Kingdom of Christ, the Kingdoms of God’s Left Hand and the Kingdom of God’s Right Hand. So in that sense we could say that, insofar as the modern Escondido Theology or R2K men are speaking about the distinctions between the state and Church, and therefore the distinction between the Kingdom of this World and the Kingdom of God, they are joining a large and long conversation dear to the heart of each one of us pastors, elders, and believers living in this world while not of it.

In his helpful article, “One Kingdom or Two?”, Cornelius Venema writes:

…the two kingdoms [R2K] doctrine is alleged to be the venerable, original position of the Reformed churches. …(This) historical claim on the part of two kingdoms [R2K] advocates… represents a tendentious reading of the historical record.

- in "One Kingdom or Two? An Evaluation of the 'Two Kingdoms' Doctrine as an Alternative to Neo-Calvinism," by Cornelis Venema. Mid-America Journal of Theology 23 (2012): 77-129.

In Protestantism, both Presbyterian/Reformed and Lutheran, we now have five centuries of discussion and debate of this distinction and how best to work it out. No one has arrived at a solution to the tension and conflict that have always prevailed between the two kingdoms and it was this same conflict that led to this exchange between Pilate and Jesus Christ...{C}


Thank God for Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile...

A week or two ago, Thabiti Anyabwile, a faithful Reformed pastor from the Cayman Islands, ran a post calling for Reformed Christians to recover their ability to feel shame and revulsion at sodomitic practices (The Importance of Your Gag Reflex When Discussing Homosexuality and "Gay Marriage"). Pastor Anyabwile pointed out how those practices perverted God's sexual design and this made his readers mad, so they inundated Pastor Anyabwile's blog with catcalls and rotten tomatoes and Pastor Anyabwile apologized.

Through many years working with men and women fighting against temptations to same-sex intimacy, I've learned the precious truth that the straight and narrow road of Christian faith runs right next to the straight and narrow road of body parts and shame... {C}


An account of Abraham Kuyper's conversion: "one had to be born again"...

In connection with David Wegener's review of James Bratt's Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat and his discussion of Kuyper's conversion, here is a piece of correspondence that complements Bratt's own account. The letter was written by P. H. A. van Krieken, niece of Maria Hartman who was longtime housekeeper to the Kuypers, recounting her own knowledge through her aunt of Kuyper's conversion and subsequent change in his pastoral work and preaching. The account warmed my heart and I'm guessing it will strengthen the faith of readers of Baylyblog, also. It is used by kind permission of its translator, Prof. Harry Vandyke.

* * *

Some third-hand information about Kuyper’s conversion

[The following letter was found in a typewritten copy among the papers of M. C. Smit in the Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto. Presumably the original is in the Dr. H. Colijn Archive at the Free University, Amsterdam.]

Letter from: P. H. A. van Krieken Huize Zonneweelde, Looydijk 158, [name of town left off]

Addressed to: His Excellency Dr. H. Colijn; Minister of State, The Hague

Dear Sir,

I was delighted to read in the Utrechtse Nieuwsblad that on 29 Oct. 1937 a commemoration is to be held of Dr. Kuyper, and because I come from Beesd and was born in 1868 I heard a lot about him, since my Aunt Maria Hartman was his maid for five years and experienced his whole turnaround [omkeering] and also knew Pietje Baltus as friend and always visited her conventicle [gezelschap] on Sundays, who told me everything that she went through with him, and I knew the elders who sat with him in Church Council.

His first round of visits that he paid as pastor in Beesd was announced to Pietje Baltus: Rev. Kuyper is in the neighborhood and will soon come to you too.

She says to that neighbor lady: That rascal might as well stay away, I don’t care for him...


Hypocrisy...

Hypocrisy ...is the way Satan attacks the Church of God, when he can get nowhere with open war.

- Calvin on Acts 5:1-11

Hypocrites do not care for Christ. Drunk with their own righteousness, they are not hungry and thirsty for His grace. Those who are devoted to the world, think nothing of the heavenly life.

- Calvin on Matthew 11:28

We are often taught, that the seeming goodness and piety of hypocrites is not of a lasting and persevering nature. It is so with respect to their practice of the duty of prayer in particular, and especially of secret prayer.

They can omit this duty, and their omission of it not be taken notice of by others, who know what profession they have made. So that a regard to their own reputation doth not oblige them still to practice it...


Theological critique of Escondido Two Kingdoms theology (VIII): Machen was a culture warrior...

Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the Gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the Gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough, intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being neglected. The Church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life.

- J. Gresham Machen *

Any movement's claims of lineage should be examined with a critical eye for the legitimacy of those claims. Because someone is writing history doesn't mean he's writing history.