When Mr. Gibson makes a celluloid icon and calls Christians to express their devotion to the Lord Jesus by venerating that icon, Mr. Gibson is doing precisely what we reformed folks have accused his communion of doing for almost five hundred years, now--he is being an orthodox Roman Catholic encouraging the veneration of images of God.
To which another World blogger, Dean Abbott, responded:
When and where, exactly, did Mr. Gibson call Christians to express their devotion to the Lord Jesus by venerating that icon?
There is no citation because I'm not quoting Gibson on this, but only summarizing what is self-evident concerning his motivation in making The Passion of the Christ: this movie is an act of religious devotion to Jesus and the Virgin Mary and through this, his celluloid medium, Gibson is calling his viewers to the same devotion.
Several friends have passed on excerpts from fathers in the faith concerning the nature and meaning of the Second Commandment. I'm putting them up here, hoping others will be instructed by them as I have been myself. Thank you to Bob Patterson, Jim Goodloe, Richard Burnett, John McKenzie (and numerous web sites) for calling our attention to these texts. And of course, everyone would do well to start by reading the fourth chapter of J. I. Packer's modern classic, Knowing God.(To save entering lots of html code, none of these excerpts will be indented. Also, other quotes of Martin Luther would support the use of images in worship, but I've chosen to include this earlier quote only since it, at least, agrees with the thrust of the Protestant reformers here presented.)
I'm off for a week at the Banner of Truth Pastor's Conference at Messiah College in Grantham, PA.
Speakers so far have been Doug Kelley, Tom Nettles and Hywel Jones.
The area, as always, is beautiful in late spring. Gettysburg yesterday morning and afternoon was exquisite. We stayed in the house where Lee had his headquarters the first day of the battle. It's now part of a hotel--a separate building in front of the main hotel, and we stayed in a suite above the rooms where Lee planned and ate.
Initial thoughts on the conference: somehow the thrill of Puritan thought and theology which pervaded this conference ten and fifteen years ago seems to have dried up.
[NOTE FROM TIM: David posted this on Baylyblog eight years ago, in 2004.]
Lutheranism seems to be the newest new thing in Reformed circles, in particular, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS), which has developed a certain degree of cache within elements of the Reformed Church no doubt because of its unique position in the Lutheran world: standing for the inerrancy of Scripture, against the ordination of women and admitting that other Protestant denominations contain at least a small portion of Spirit and Truth.
Is this a good development? Two areas of observation, then several conclusions....
First, though, my credentials as commentator. Over the years I've had a number of more-than-glancing contacts with the LCMS, beginning with my parents sending me to a LCMS junior high and high school--where I went through the pre-confirmation catechetical training required of LCMS students. Moreover, I have a number of friends who have been lifelong Lutherans, the majority of whom were raised within the LCMS. Finally, I have several friends and acquaintances who converted to LCMS Lutheranism later in life: one, a lifelong Roman Catholic entered the LCMS upon marrying a divorcee, several others who have entered the LCMS from Reformed backgrounds.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 20, 2004 - 7:08am
A brother in Christ comments on an earlier post: "Today in America, the opportunities for a doctrinally orthodox pastor to maintain a bland inoffensiveness don't seem all that great."
To the contrary.
As a lawyer-friend of mine once put it concerning the preaching of his church in another state, "With the indicative, can't we please have the imperative?"
Or as a Bible Study Fellowship leader from one of my former churches put it, "It's not up to the preacher to apply the text--that's the job of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who should convict of sin, not you."
There is a relentless opposition to pastors preaching in such a way as to apply the text to the lives of their congregants, to preach to the conscience and not just the mind, and to call for repentance. In fact, there is a relentless opposition to pastors who move past teaching, to preaching.
This opposition is documented across church history and in the Scriptures. Consider Jesus' summary statement concerning Jerusalem:
Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, "BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!" (Matthew 23:34-39)
Speaking of the absence of danger in the preaching of his day, Kierkegaard was pointing out what is true here today--that pastors have given up preaching, settling for truisms, velveteen rabbit stories, and nostrums. We have given up working for the salvation of the souls we were called to guard and have settled for working for the building of our kingdoms or the maintenance of our lifestyles. And when security becomes the greatest good, danger must be removed. But not in too obvious a way.
If it's too obvious, the pastor might be exposed as the charlatan he is, holding the sinecure he does, and then the gig would be up. So we must act as if we're shepherds, good shepherds, and preachers and prophets, but do it in such a way as to avoid danger scrupulously. Give the congregants drama, all the drama they want, but fill the gun's barrel with blanks.
No, the market for "doctrinally orthodox pastors (who) maintain a bland inoffensiveness" continues to be a bull market.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 6, 2004 - 8:15am
Parker Williamson, a friend who has for years served as editor of The Presbyterian Layman, the primary voice for reform in the my former ecclesiastical home, the Presbyterian Church (USA), just received a significant (although partial) vindication this past Thursday in the issuance of an opinion by the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic. That opinion stated that Williamson's presbytery (Western Carolina) failed to give him "adequate due process and fundamental fairness" in its effort to strip him of its validation of his ministry.
The Commission "found denial of fundamental fairness in the process" and announced "We order Presbytery to set aside the action at its meeting 31 January 2004 invalidating (Williamson's) ministry and changing (his) status to member-at-large." Finally, the Commission decreed that "presbytery take no further action with regard to reviewing the status of the validation of complainant's ministry for one year from the date of this decision" and that the "complainant and respondent jointly formulate a plan to implement a Presbytery-wide process of reconciliation concerning this issue."
Setting aside for the moment my concerns with those fellow pastors who have chosen to continue to minister within the PC(USA) despite the evil doctrine and practice that are the norm in that fellowship, it is clear that the ministry of Williamson and The Presbyterian Layman are foundational to any hope of future reform. Therefore it is good news--very good news indeed--to hear of this opinion. May God continue to defend His prophets.
PS: The PC(USA) is not the PCA; please do not confuse the two. The first is old, mainline, non-confessional (yes, I know some will howl to read this), and steadily declining as it continues a twenty-five year fight over the ordination of sodomites to pastoral ministry, and as it continues to label abortion "an act of faithfulness before God" in publications of its general assembly.
The PCA is young, sideline, confessional (yes, I know some will howl to read this), and steadily growing.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 12, 2004 - 6:19pm
So what ought we to expect from the new president of Princeton Theological Seminary? Check out this excerpt from The Presbyterian Outlook, a newsweekly focused on the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA):
On the Sunday evening in his closing address to the Assembly, the retiring Moderator Professor Iain Torrance, who has recently been appointed President of Princeton Theological Seminary, chose to reflect on the need for a new approach to Christian ethics.
Just about all of us were brought up to believe that Christian ethics is a matter of drawing boundaries, of shoulds and shouldn'ts. I simply no longer believe that. Christian ethics is about transformation first and last. We persist in imprisoning ourselves within the frame of reference of 16th century issues. The disputes between Luther and Zwingli on whether the body of Christ is present or absent at communion ...is all very interesting, but it is not today's issue. What matters today is not whether we can define the mechanism of the real presence, but whether our worship encourages a mind-set of expectation and gratefulness to God, and loving openness to others...
There was plenty of food for thought in his words, not least in his quotation from Seneca about gladiators.
When the gladiator enters the arena, he has no fixed strategies. He improvises on the basis of long ingrained skills. The task of the church is to foster those skills, not to offer preset solutions in a Windows world with drop down menus for each situation.
-Simpson, Dr. James A. "Letter from Scotland: First woman Moderator Chosen" The Presbyterian Outlook (September 27, 2004):11.
To postmodern ears it sounds good. Who in his right mind would oppose exchanging the "drawing of boundaries" for "transformation"?
by David and Tim Bayly on November 15, 2004 - 3:50pm
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1Corinthians 1:20,21)
Last week, some within our congregation, Church of the Good Shepherd, took steps to start a new faculty/grad fellowship at Indiana University. Part of the planning process was putting together an E-mail list of the faculty members and grad students within our own church fellowship. When the list was tallied, I was sobered.
This group, along with their families, makes up well over a quarter of our congregation--almost a third. Add to it our undergraduate students and we're close to half the congregation. Add to those two groups the members and their families who have graduate degrees (their masters or doctorate), and we're over three quarters of our congregation.
I'm grateful, then, for the other elders and pastors of our congregation who pushed us to sell our property on the side of town where most faculty members live, and to build our new church home on the side of town where the people who work with their hands live. In fact, after looking at our congregation's educational demographics last week, I went on the US census web site and found that...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 7, 2005 - 5:25am
My dear brother in Christ, David Wegener, has been a great encouragement to me through the years. Now serving as lecturer at the Theological College of Central Africa under our denomination's mission agency, Mission to the World, I continue to cling to our friendship gaining much from David's knowledge of Scripture and church history.
Occasionally David writes in such a helpful way that I wish others could read him. So this time I wrote and asked his permission to put some of his reflections concerning the decline of Princeton Seminary up on this blog. He kindly agreed.
David Wegener, my brother David Bayly, and I share a growing concern over the weakness of the training offered at reformed seminaries where men from our congregations (and other friends) have taken their Masters of Divinity--what my Dad used to refer to as "the union card" of pastoral ministry.
Our criticisms of these seminaries must be developed more fully (which we hope to do), but it may be summed up by observing that it is almost a basic assumption of the curriculum that a good shepherd will avoid controversy.
Ruminate on that a bit and our good readers will quickly see how very much of faithful pastoral ministry this eliminates. Consider just two of the pastor's duties, preaching and discipline, and it's easy to see the damage the Church will suffer when reformed men trained by these seminaries stand in the pulpit and moderate session meetings having been stripped of their ability to "fight the good fight."
Ironically, though, the conflict stripped from the work of the shepherd is given back to these men in a strictly circumscribed outlet that is safe and culturally approved--the pages of Sports Illustrated. The same shepherds so meticulous in avoiding controversy in their pulpits carefully study the stats of three-hundred pound behemoths who make a living crashing through lines of scrimmage trying to sack quarterbacks.
Making common cause with the cultural forces intent on feminizing the Western World, seminaries today are turning out shepherds quite similar to the castrati who, as late as the twentieth century, sang in the Sistine Chapel Choir in a woman's voice...
Doug Wilson goes inexplicably gaga over N.T. Wright in a recent entry on his blog.
Wright apparently dazzled those in attendance at this year's Auburn church conference, including Wilson. Disappointing. Wright is eminently facile, but a "gift of God to the Church at large"?
I can see how several of Wright's views would be attractive to those within the Auburn camp (more on this in a future post), but to find Wilson himself fawning over this modern-day Erasmus is, I fear, a sad sign of how much a lemming-like march the Auburn crowd's "federal vision" theology has become.
Especially sad is Wilson's equating Wright's sinful rejection of Biblical authority in the area of male/female roles with Spurgeon's view of baptism. Are they really similar, Doug?
This brief excerpt should whet your appetite for a forthcoming report on the 2005 Ligonier Conference. The author, Steve Moxey, is a friend of Tim's and a graduate student at Indiana University.
I'm working on writing a piece about real events from the Ligonier Conference that Bob, Jenn, Dave Abu-Sara, and I just attended. I will send it to you soon and you can put it on the blog....
Among the extravagant bells and whistles at the conference this year was a 28 foot crane with a video camera on it that whizzed a foot above the heads of the folks in the crowd to get shots of their reactions during the preaching. It was the most distracting thing I have ever seen while someone was preaching. This camera which Jenn dubbed "The Reaction Probe" (we got some pictures of it in action for you too) was scanning the crowd and then moving up right in the faces of the preachers while they preached. Ironically, this obtrusive camerawork was taking place while the PhD's talked about the sanctity of Biblical preaching and how our services should be free from worldly distractions!
I'll send an article and pictures soon.... Your father would have gotten a real kick out of the "Reaction Probe".
Note from Tim Bayly: Since this was posted many months ago, Dr. North has denied our post's accuracy, saying he never gave an evening lecture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary calling for pastors to leave the Social Security system. Contrary to Dr. North's claim, we were there and it happened. Also, we checked our memory with others who were there and have confirmed the lecture was NOT a part of Dr. North's debate with Ron Sider--which, by the way, we didn't attend. Here's our more recent response to Dr. North's denial.
But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. (Luke 11:42)
Over the years we've changed our minds on a number of things, but one thing we've viewed with consistency is the reformed theologian Gary North. We do not trust him. This has caused some sadness for Tim because one of his dearest friends is so committed to North that he volunteers time editing North's books and articles. If we were inclined to reconsider our position, though, the article just posted by North on the Terri Schiavo case is all we need to reaffirm our longtime conviction about this man.
Gary North and Social Security:
Back in 1983, North was invited to speak at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the seminary where all three of the Bayly brothers--Tim, David, and Nathan--received our Masters of Divinity. It was an evening lecture and we don't remember the announced subject. But we do remember that North spent the evening attacking the financial stability of Social Security and ranting about the stupidity of any pastor who failed to opt out of it.
The law gives pastors the rare privilege in their first year of ministry of choosing whether or not to be a part of Social Security. If they wish, they may opt out and this has a huge impact on the financial well-being of any pastor who makes this choice.
To be specific: for the first nine years of Tim's ministry he pastored a yoked parish in rural Wisconsin. During that time his total income (salary plus fair rental value of the manse owned by the church that he lived in) averaged somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000. Then for the past thirteen years, he's ministered in Bloomington, Indiana, and his salary has averaged about $57,000. Federal tax law has determined that, in connection with Social Security, the pastor is self-employed and must pay a little over fifteen percent of all his income--including housing allowance or fair rental value of any manse the church asks him to live in--to Social Security.
Do the figures and you'll see that opting out of Social Security would have saved Tim around $151,650--about $7,000 per year (and he could have used it). Talk to financial planners and they'll tell you he could have taken just a small part of that total, invested it privately, and realized a return much larger than the return he'll get from the Social Security system. So why didn't he opt out?
The key detail Gary North left out, neither mentioning it nor even alluding to it at his Gordon-Conwell lecture, was that the U.S. tax code requires pastors who opt out of Social Security to do it for theological reasons only. We may not opt out because we think Social Security is a bad investment and we can get a better return on our money elsewhere.
Now ask us if we have a theological objection to Social Security and we'll tell you we don't. We have political objections, many financial objections, U.S. Constitutional objections, and so on. But we see no basis in Scripture for telling the federal government that Scripture forbids our participation in Social Security.
And truth be told, those friends and colleagues of ours who are pastors and have opted out of Social Security have never yet made a theological case to me of their conscientious objection based on Scripture, so we've told them we think they are wrong to have opted out. True, we can't know their hearts, but we have a sneaking suspicion that most pastors who have opted out have done so for the very reasons Gary North said we ought to: namely, because Social Security is an awful investment.
Years back, I (Tim) told my wife that I had no objection to being a part of Social Security even if by the time I was ready to retire there was nothing left for me. In other words, I don't mind sending the federal government money as my part of helping take care of widows, orphans, retirees, and the feeble elderly.
Which brings us back to Gary North piece on Terri Schiavo.
Gary North and Terri Schiavo:
North, being never in doubt concerning his own perspicacity, is in full hue and cry over Christians who want Terri Schiavo to live. "Who's going to pay for her?" he asks over and over again. Near the end of his Schiavo piece, he writes:
There seems to be an increasing trend of Truly Reformed families intentionally gathering in remote, bucolic communities to lead separated lives.
Is this modern-day Plymouth Rock pilgrimaging or something else?
Though this has been a matter of personal observation in recent years, I find my personal thoughts somewhat confirmed by this response to a person expressing a desire to move to Moscow, Idaho, in a comment on WORLD's main blog:
For most of the 1990s I habitually denied I was an Evangelical. "I used to be an Evangelical," I would say, "but now I'm just a fundamentalist." Or later, "I used to be an Evangelical, but now I'm Reformed.... Yeah, I grew up in an interdenominational Evangelical church in Wheaton, but I'm no longer an Evangelical."
Of course, that was when Evangelicalism still had a center, loosely defined by a variety of parachurch organizations such as Christianity Today, Wheaton College, Campus Crusade/InterVarsity, Christian publishers, Focus on the Family....
My rejection of Evangelicalism was never a repudiation of all things evangelical. The term "evangelical" had been applied to the Reformed faith for centuries prior to Harold Ockenga's appropriation of the term to distinguish non-fundamentalist conservative Protestantism from fundamentalism in the 1930s.
The Reformed faith was "evangelical" before it was "Reformed." The Protestant Reformation was utterly evangelical in its return to the euaggelion, or gospel, of salvation by faith, not works. Luther himself claimed to be "evangelical" before the world knew him as "Reformed". Luther named the church he founded in Germany the Evangelische Kirke, or "Evangelical Church."
Within the English-speaking world, the evangelical faith in the 1600s included the Puritans, the English separatists, the Presbyterians. In the 1700s the evangelical faith included Wesley, Whitefield and Edwards: the wonder of the Great Awakening. In the 1800s evangelical faith produced the Second Great Awakening, Princeton's theology, men like Dabney, Hodge, Alexander.
All these strains fed into 20th century American Evangelicalism. By claiming no longer to be "Evangelical" I was stating my departure from the 20th century American branch of Protestantism known as "Evangelicalism," not the glorious theology of the evangelical Church of the Reformation. I was reacting against Evangelicalism's parachurch focus, its loose (and increasingly Arminian) theology, its woeful sexual ethics and theology, its pride and wealth, its celebrity culture. I considered myself Reformed, outside the orbit of Evangelicalism.
It was fairly easy to live outside Evangelicalism in the Toledo I moved to in 1988. With several exceptions (FNBS and several godly CMA churches) Evangelicalism bypassed Toledo on its trans-continental trek from Philadelphia through Wheaton to California (and back to Colorado Springs). We didn't have to worry about the increasing heterodoxy of InterVarsity nationally in Toledo. The local InterVarsity chapter died about the time I arrived. We didn't have to oppose the "Botany-Geography" seeker church scourge. Toledo didn't get a proper creek until six years ago.
I was simply Reformed. I identified more with Doug Wilson and Moscow, Idaho, than Wheaton; with Banner of Truth and Martyn Lloyd-Jones more than Tyndale House or Bill Hybels.
And now, in 2005 at age 46, for reasons I will explain shortly, I want to revisit Evangelicalism. But to my horror I find my childhood home destroyed. All Evangelicalism's children have despised her, fleeing her for Orthodoxy, for Roman Catholicism, for Anglicanism, for Willow Creeks and Cedar Hills, for Reformed churches and Lutheranism.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 1, 2005 - 2:26pm
John Piper has written to the congregation of Bethlehem Baptist announcing a proposal from their board of elders to change their church constitution in order to allow those baptized as infants to hold membership in their fellowship. Speaking of the proposed change, Piper writes:
The most obvious change this involves is allowing the possibility that a person may become a member who has not been baptized by immersion as a believer but who regards the baptismal ritual he received in infancy not as regenerating, but nevertheless (as with most Presbyterians) in such a way that it would violate his conscience to be baptized as a believer. The elders are proposing that under certain conditions such persons be admitted to full membership.
Sadly, in the course of making the case for this change Piper reassures Bethlehem's members that their church elders must submit to a very strict doctrinal formulation concerning baptism. Piper writes:
One of the reasons we feel the freedom to move in this direction is that in December, 2003 the church mandated that the Elders themselves must heartily affirm the Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith. This document has raised the doctrinal bar of the eldership at Bethlehem significantly. It is thoroughly and biblically Reformed and baptistic. In other words, the elders of the church may not believe, teach, or practice any other form of baptism as legitimate than believer's baptism by immersion. All the elders gladly and firmly embrace paragraph 12.3 of the Elder Affirmation of faith:
We believe that baptism is an ordinance of the Lord by which those who have repented and come to faith express their union with Christ in His death and resurrection, by being immersed in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
It's hard to see how Christians aware of the meaning and use of the Greek word 'baptizo' in the pages of Scripture, as well as the practice and rules of the Early Church, can still act as if Scripture itself requires baptism by immersion. Scripture most clearly does not require baptism by immersion, nor did the Early Church. Here is an excerpt from the Didache, the earliest known non-canonical Christian document dated between 80-200 AD:
Now about baptism: this is how to baptize. Give public instruction on all these points, and then baptize in living (i.e. running) water, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. If you do not have running water, baptize in some other. If you cannot in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Following the rule that consciences should not be bound where Scripture has left them free, it's clear the Early Church did not require immersion. So while I applaud the move toward irenicism represented by Bethlehem's proposed constitutional change, it saddens me that Bethlehem's pastors and elders continue to have their consciences bound on this matter.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 8, 2005 - 11:29am
In his work, Reflections on John Calvin and the Church Struggle in Geneva, David Wright records John Calvin's
...refusal to read the world, humanity and the church except in terms of God's purposes. His was an irreducibly theological mind, and his world was one in which God was forever doing all manner of things. He thus presents a fundamentally important corrective to much of the broad mainstream of the old denominations in the West, and perhaps also to segments of established evangelicalism, for which God does very little in the world today.
The reigning theological ethos is pervasively Deist. God does nothing through preaching, he does not answer prayer, he never acts in judgment...
We conduct our church assemblies and committees with a perfunctory initial prayer and perhaps a closing benediction but these tell one very little about the expectations and the basic instinctive convictions of what happens in between. God converts no one, and we would not be so simple as to believe that he heals anyone.
God is not to be feared, we need not worry about impugning his honour, nor whether our worship conforms to his will and pleases him. He has nothing to do with any of the adversities of life. He does not chastise, rebuke, humble, afflict, raise up--or cast down. When Calvin comments on his crippling gout, 'God has bound my feet fast with fetters,' we smile indulgently...
A church whose preachers and teachers fail to help Christian people to interpret their life and their world theologically--which means also of course Christologically and pneumatologically--is aiding and abetting radical secularisation."
-from Reflections on John Calvin and the Church Struggle in Geneva, by David Wright, Professor of Patristic and Reformed Christianity, University of Edinburgh, New College.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 19, 2005 - 10:23am
This from Richard Lovelace's important work, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal. It was called to my attention by my dear friend, Stephen Baker, who is Dean of our Reformed Evangelical Pastors College. It gets at the issue of how we speak about Katrina today, and what our responses as pastors and elders indicate about the content of our faith and the doctrine of the churches we represent.
I took Lovelace's Jonathan Edwards seminar while at Gordon-Conwell and found him a true lover of heart religion and our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as a stimulating scholar. However, being a member with him of the Presbyterian Church (USA) at the time, his analyses of the spiritual condition of that church never rang true for me. For him, revival was always just around the corner.
Specifically, I remember one day when he'd just returned from a meeting between prominent evangelicals within the PC(USA)--this was the group he represented, prominent PC(USA) denominational leaders, and executives from the National Council of Churches. The conclave was held in New York City and Lovelace returned to Gordon-Conwell bubbling over with excitement that the denominational and NCC leadership were really much more open to biblical faith and Holy Spirit renewal than anyone could imagine!
by David and Tim Bayly on September 26, 2005 - 10:48am
Two weeks ago Christ the Word brought three candidates to presbytery to begin the process of coming under care in preparation for eventual ordination.
Presbytery requires those coming under care to give a public testimony and explain their sense of call. All three of our candidates told of being raised outside the Church. Two of the three told of coming to Christ from a past that included the routine use of alcohol and/or drugs. Their testimonies were a refreshing breeze at the end of a long day of business.
Which brings me to the issue of alcohol and Reformed churches...
In the 1960s and early 70s, our father refused to join the church we grew up in because it required abstinence of members. Though he never spoke publicly of his reasons for refusing to join, his children were (proudly) aware of his opposition to mandatory abstinence.
College Church quietly changed its policy in the late 70s and Dad joined, serving in his latter years as an elder. But Dad also changed during those years. He told us before he died that if he'd known how his stance on alcohol would affect his children--particularly me--he'd have given up alcohol from the outset.
I'm reminded of this as I look on the web and see Reformed men attacking Al Mohler for urging care in the use of alcohol and by linking the public reputation of the Church to her pastors' public consumption of alcohol. Most Reformed commenters take it for granted that Mohler's argument is casuistry. I don't.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 26, 2005 - 12:18pm
Noticing the blistering and non-blistering attacks of Baptists being sustained by John Piper and his elders in response to their proposal to allow those baptized as infants to join their church without being required to be rebaptized as adults by immersion only, it occurred to me that it would be good to place this letter up on our blog as a means of defending John and his fellow elders. Of course I realize that Baptists feel betrayed by John's actions in a way that I, as a paedo-baptist, cannot identify with because I think they're wrong, biblically and theologically.
But the issue I want to address is the refusal of Christians who disagree over this matter to worship and live in love together within a local church when they do so in many other contexts including seminaries, conferences, larger church meetings (general assembly worship and communions services, etc.), and so on. We, the elders of Church of the Good Shepherd, believe this dishonors God and often is a refusal of believers to obey the biblical imperative of unity within the Body of Christ.
So from our founding almost a decade ago, Church of the Good Shepherd has been in every way (structure, officers, constitution, bylaws, etc.) a Presbyterian Church of America congregation with one critical exception: we allow our officers freedom of conscience in time and mode of baptism. This one exception means that, although I am myself a member of the PCA (Ohio Valley Presbytery), our congregation is not allowed to join the denomination because about half the men serving as teaching and ruling elders are credo, not paedo-baptists. In other words, they believe that the sign of the covenant ought not to be placed on children of believers.
Now, here's the scandal. I think credo-baptists are wrong, biblically; and I have no difficulty sharing with them the shepherding of our congregation and united worship services each Lord's Day. We disagree over this matter and we live together in unity.
There are any number of objections that will be made to our commitment by our good readers, I'm sure, but I think the following letter will anticipate many of them. And the ones not anticipated here may be taken up below.
Here, then, is the letter of response written to a former PCA ruling elder...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 8, 2005 - 4:20am
One of the more disturbing developments in the Reformed world over the last few years is the development of an apologetic for "cultural reclamation" as a basic task of the Gospel.
Proponents of this view, who claim both the name "neo-Calvinist" and the heritage of Kuyper, Bavinck, etc., are intent upon reclaiming culture from its natural depravity--and from what they perceive as conservative Christianity's cultural nabobism.
As sympathetic as I am with some of their concerns, I believe this movement has harmed the Reformed world and will harm it further in days to come. I fear this because I find almost no reflection on the danger of idolatry in their writings--and almost no arena of culture which they are unwilling to claim under Christ's redemptive power. I suspect, quite honestly, that among this group would be some who would condemn the Taliban as philistines for destroying the statues of Buddha in Bamiyan.
We have yet to see this movement's modern leaders display significant awareness of the dangers of cultural idolatry--the very dangers which led their Reformed forebears into the nabobism they reject.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 21, 2005 - 2:20pm
Worrying that we haven't actually read the brochure linked to in my brother David's post, here's the text of Christian Education and Publication's Love Offering appeal:
"OUR CULTURE IS AS VISUALLY ORIENTED AS ANY IN HUMAN HISTORY. IMAGES DOMINATE OUR DAY-TO-DAY LIVES.HOW ARE WE, AS CHRISTIANS, TO INTERPRET THIS CULTURE?AND HOW ARE WE TO BRING THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL INTO IT?
In order to engage culture for the sake of the gospel, Christians must be able to participate in the visual conversation swirling around them. The world needs artists who give testimony to the Word through visual media - communicating the wonder of God's creation, the real character of sin, and the glory of God's grace...
With the comments being submitted to this blog concerning Westminster Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly (RPCGA) defrocking four elders of St. Peter church in Bristol, Virginia (including R. C. Sproul Jr.), it seemed good to David and me to post this 2004 picture of all the pastors of the RPCGA at the denomination's 2004 general assembly. A week ago a subset of this group voted "unanimously" to defrock another subset of this group.
"All the world is mad save for me and thee, and sometimes I wonder about thee."
(Jesus prayed concerning His disciples) "I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are." (John 17:11)
by David and Tim Bayly on February 6, 2006 - 7:43am
The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17)
This shows that one tale is good till another is told.
He that speaks first will be sure to tell a straight story, and relate that only which makes for him, and put the best colour he can upon it, so that his cause shall appear good, whether it really be so or no.
The plaintiff having done his evidence, it is fit that the defendant should be heard, should have leave to confront the witnesses and cross-examine them, and show the falsehood and fallacy of what has been alleged, which perhaps may make the matter appear quite otherwise than it did. We must therefore remember that we have two ears, to hear both sides before we give judgment.
-Matthew Henry's comments on Proverbs 18:17
Note from Tim Bayly: One of our readers posted the following questions in the comment section of one of my posts and we're placing my response here, on the main page, since this information may be helpful to a broader group than is keeping up with those comments:
This came to my attention today and I was wondering if anyone can validate the truth of this:
"The CREC is taking oversight now over the congregation of Saint Peter (SP), while the session is still under the RPCGA. So no one from SP has to meet with the RPCGA representatives while they are here because the RPCGA does not have jurisdiction, due to the session never entering the congregation in the denomination according to the BOC of the RPCGA."
...What I am curious about is this....In the Presbyterian form of government, the ecclestical authority structure is not to be questioned, rulings up the chain of command are to be accepted. Why then is anyone questioning the presbytery in this matter? I was under the impression that those who hold to these views of church authority believe that it is mandatory to accept the rulings of other reformed bodies. What am I missing?
For the record, I have seen faithful pastors suffer for Christ. I have also seen faithful laymen suffer at the hands of unfaithful pastors and elders. Even Ken Sande and Peacemakers recognize this truth and are now offering teachings and workshops on spiritual abuse.
David and I are trying to think this matter through carefully. So far, only one side has been heard from and it's a basic rule of Scripture that in conflict, both sides must be heard before judgments are made. The side making the accusations and claiming they've arrived at a judgment seems quite official, especially given the vocabulary they've used for announcing their judgment and that the judgment was to defrock four men, all supposedly on the basis of those four men's self-accusations.
So we might be tempted to exclaim, "Well, that's it! What more is there to say?"...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 23, 2006 - 4:00am
One of the primary characteristics of conservative Evangelical and Reformed activism over the past half-century has been an unerring ability to win every battle yet lose every war.
This was brought home to me years ago in my waning days of involvement in the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) when I would listen to CBMW's leaders declare egalitarian feminism an increasingly defeated movement.
In one sense, they were right. Exegetically, CBMW thoroughly bested Christians for Biblical Equality many years ago. But feminist thought does not spring from exegetical inquiry. Feminist thought springs from depravity. And assuming depravity can be defeated exegetically is silly.
Defeating feminism within the Church requires vision, faith and a willingness to endure opprobrium. Feminism's sinfulness must be thoroughly comprehended and God's truth maximally declared rather than mincingly. Patriarchy must cease to be a religious four-letter word. The tender feelings of nascent feminists must no longer determine the contours of discourse.
In years leading up to World War II Churchill was out of power and favor--a lone voice warning against appeasement, contra mundum. Yet unpopular as his message was, events proved Churchill right.
Unfortunately, conservative leaders within the Reformed and Evangelical world are too often unwilling to endure the opprobrium required to advance God's truth contra mundum. So, as proponents of feminist theology speak at the Presbyterian Church of America's General Assembly and as Reformed seminaries and colleges depart from the Biblical truth of male headship, not a word is heard from ministries which declare themselves mainstays of Reformational theology.
Pentecostals are celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of their founding at the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles. An article from the Christian Science Monitor lists some of the defining marks of Pentecostalism. (Thanks, Chris.) Here's a list of ten, followed by my own response to each:
1. A focus on New Testament "gifts of the Spirit" such as healing, prophecy, and tongues.
2. Spontaneity due to the moving of the Holy Spirit during worship, including prayer for physical healing and deliverance, prophecy, tongues, and a change in the order of worship.
3. Expecting God to make His presence known during worship.
4. A focus on praise leading to lively, upbeat, and jubilant music.
5. Expressive worship, including the lifting of hands, tears, clapping, etc.
6. A belief in the imminence of Christ's return.
7. A belief that after becoming a Christian one should have a second experience called "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" by which the believer receives the real power that makes him able to live with "an extra zeal that is miraculous--(that's) like a turbocharged faith."
8. A belief that this second experience is normally proven to have happened by the individual speaking in tongues.
9. A denial of the need for its pastors to be trained: if God calls you, get up and preach--that's it.
10. Finally, "Pentecostalism has the ability to translate itself into the language and culture of the people being reached, drawing on local music."
Note from Tim Bayly: Many of our readers know the pastor of Brown County Presbyterian Fellowship, Dan Reuter, through his wise contributions in the comments of this blog. Personally, I know Dan as a brother in Christ and fellow pastor across the great divide separating the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) (Dan's denomination) and the biblical Presbyterian Church in America (my own denomination).
Facing the actions just taken at their General Assembly a few weeks ago, Dan's session (presbyspeak for board of elders) has publicly released this statement disassociating their church from the heretical actions of their denomination's highest judicatory. It's an excellent statement and has seen print in one, and will soon see print in another, local newspaper. I reproduce it here asking our readers to pray for Dan, his session, and their congregation, that the Lord will guide them and other biblical PC(USA) churches as they seek God's leading concerning their future.
June 23, 2006
Dear Friends in the Brown County Community,
As reported in various news media, our denomination's General Assembly met in Birmingham, Alabama, last week. At least two decisions of that body conflict sharply with the beliefs of the Brown County Presbyterian Fellowship. We think they also conflict with the beliefs of most Presbyterians.
The so-called "Trinity Report" places the biblical formula of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--the names of God given to us by the Bible and affirmed by the teaching of Christ Himself--on the same level as various metaphors which the Bible uses, not as names, but as analogies. For example, they offer us as names for God, "Compassionate Mother" and "Fire that Consumes." Instead of rejecting this attempt to rename God, the Assembly received the report. In Presbyterian usage, "receiving" is neutral language, often used to placate the opponents of a motion, while still accomplishing the motion's intent.
Even more troubling to us is the approval of the so-called Peace, Unity, and Purity (PUP) Report, which, for the first time in our denomination's history, allows local congregations and regional governing bodies to ordain as ministers, elders, and deacons people who refuse to accept or obey requirements for ordination established by the denomination's constitution, if they convince the ordaining body that they can nonetheless serve. While this refusal to comply may apply to any requirement, the issue has been primarily focused on and driven by the question of ordaining practicing and unrepentant homosexual candidates...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 12, 2006 - 5:05pm
Note:On August 16, I posted "Early Marriage" which consisted of a lengthy quote of Benjamin Franklin on the benefits of marrying young. Several days later, I received the following E-mail from a brother in Christ who recently had become a friend. We talked by phone and I did my best to encourage him in his pursuit. But I also asked if I could use his E-mail as a post on the blog. He graciously agreed and edited what he had sent me to protect, as he put it, "the innocent and the guilty."
Your recent "Early Marriage" post struck me, and prompted me to write to you. Perhaps what I write can be fodder for a future post on your blog, or perhaps you may have some advice for me. I don't know - perhaps I just need to vent.
I just turned another year older, and it bothered me more than I'd like to admit. God's providence has not brought me a wife and covenant flock to call my own, a desire I have had for years now, and continues to grow. Especially as I have seen such admirable models of covenant households - including the examples you and David have been, as frequently seen through your blog - my disappointment grows, as I feel I am missing out on such a wonderful blessing as the "Early Marriage" train leaves the station in my life.
Often I feel that no one understands. "Oh, you're still young! You have so much freedom to enjoy!" Oh, yes. The freedom to come home to an empty house every day. The freedom to see my friends get married, leave my life, and establish their own homes. Glorious freedom, indeed. Look, I have great gratitude for my family, my church, and my job. But I'm not going to care about the fruits of my capitalist toiling on my deathbed. Even immersing myself in the Bible and theological literature, while edifying, is not an end in itself. As a man, I feel hardwired to serve someone else, not myself. My attempts to bring more meaning to my life - by getting more involved in my hobbies, or hanging out with other brothers in the Lord, while profitable, leave me empty.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 29, 2007 - 12:30pm
We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. The troops are drawn up, they march into the field, seriousness is evident in every eye, but also courage and enthusiasm, the orderlies rush back and forth intrepidly, the commander's voice is heard, the signals, the battle cry, the volley of musketry, the thunder of cannon--everything exactly as it is in war, lacking only one thing...the danger.
So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible--only one thing is lacking...the danger
-Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon "Christendom" 1854-1855, translated with an introduction by Walter Lowrie, (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1956) p. 258.
Addendum: Wednesday evening, March 8, Bryan Chapell and I met together to discuss this recent series of posts. After our discussion, here are several clarifications and corrections that I believe need to be made. I have made them here, at the top of the post, because it would be difficult to weave them into the post itself in a way that would call attention to them sufficiently as corrections.
First, it is unclear that the paragraph beginning, "The whole things is a tempest in a teacup" is not my judgment, but rather a hypothetical construct of what the average member of the PCA might have thought to himself.
Second, I refer to "the Covenant/Redeemer/Reformed mantra, "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do." Bryan told me that this is not his position and that he speaks against this position as an adequate representation of the Biblical perspective. This is an encouragement to me.
Third, Bryan rehearsed his actions in response to the chapel time in which Diane Langberg spoke, and clearly my own summary of those actions is not accurate. Here is an accurate record of what happened:
When General Assembly convened that summer and the time on the agenda arrived when President Chapell was asked to give an answer for what had happened on his watch, President Chapell told the assembly:
That Diane Langberg had been told ahead of time what the standards were for her speaking during the chapel time;
That after she spoke at Covenant Seminary, Diane Langberg received a letter reminding her of the standards, and expressing concern that those standards had not been followed; and
That the administration of Covenant Seminary met with students to explain the situation and to assure the seminary community that what had happened was not according to the standards they were committed to upholding.
Since I implied Covenant Seminary was not upholding the PCA position in its response to Diane Langberg's chapel time, I regret this inaccuracy and now believe Covenant's response was good.
Some wonder how I could accuse prominent teaching elders of the Presbyterian Church in America and the institutions they lead of sympathizing with the egalitarian, feminist cause? Don't I know the PCA's reason to exist is tied at the heart to opposing these ideologies? When a group of mainline PC(USA) churches left their own denomination for a more conservative one back in 1983, wasn't it necessary for them to found the new denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, precisely because the PCA wasn't willing to compromise on women in office? And isn't the same reason behind our present failure to bring into the PCA many churches currently departing the PC(USA) train wreck: that these churches and their pastors are determined to enter a denomination that allows their women to serve as pastors, elders, and deacons?
So, as a denomination we've paid our dues. We've seen the cost of our convictions, and haven't wavered. What on earth am I thinking, then, to accuse our seminary and its president of being allies of the egalitarian, feminist ideology?
It's a fair question, although I have no confidence I'll be able to answer it to the satisfaction of more than a few because the heart of the answer is tied up, not with specific arguments about Scripture's teaching about sexuality, but rather its teaching concerning the nature of pastoral ministry.
Several years ago, Covenant Theological Seminary had a woman preach in chapel. When it was reported within our denomination, it scandalized a number of presbyters across the country...
Along with my brothers, David and Nathan, I studied under Meredith Kline at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the early eighties. We also attended church with him at the small and unhip First Presbyterian Church in South Hamilton, a congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
My dear friend, Rob Hooper, just passed on a notice that Dr. Kline has fallen asleep and is now with the Lord. We are grateful for Dr. Kline’s life and witness. Of the things I learned from him, what sticks in my mind are his prayers at the beginning of each session of Old Testament Hermeneutics. They were passages of Scripture, mostly from the Old Testament, woven together end to end. They lifted me into God’s throne room.
For a number of years, I've thought we need a book for preachers called The Feminization of Discourse. The book would show how the feminine priorities that have taken over the Western world have turned the preaching of God's Word from authority to mutual exploration and discovery. One friend lamented the preaching he'd sat under for a number of years saying, "Along with the indicative, can't we please have the imperative?" Read anything about the differences between male and female conversation and it's no mystery why the worship and preaching of our--yes, PCA--churches feel like a tea party. Having a reformed form of godliness, we deny the power thereof.
Our preaching is so graceful--more graceful than the preaching of Jesus or the Apostles. Anyone read the book of Acts, recently? Notice how often those listening to the sermon are confronted with the statement, "You killed Jesus!" No wonder repentance was the entry point to faith and baptism back then. But today? We're compassionate Christians, kinder and gentler elders, and sensitive graceful preachers who want to be liked. Above all. Yes, insofar as we can be liked and still be obedient, that's fine. But a choice between the two is no contest; being liked wins.
Now of course, right here the feminization of discourse kicks in and many are ready to condemn me for being dogmatic, making generalizations, or demonstrating a harsh and judgmental spirit, right?
Well, meet my friend Cesar Millan and see if we preachers have anything to learn from him about our exercise of the authority God has delegated to us, particularly in the pulpit...
Earlier this week I received the following email from our dear friend Blair Smith. With his permission I'm posting the email he sent verbatim. Please join us in remembering Dr. Brown in prayer.
Harold O. J. "Joe" Brown is near death. As you or Tim may know, he had cancer ten years ago which cost him an eye and affected his sinuses. It has returned now more in the throat area. He cannot speak or swallow and has a feeding tube in his stomach. They are contemplating further care in Chicago with his initial doctor but are not sure at this time if the extent of the current damage would make that wise. I have communicated a few times with him through email and have talked with his wife, Grace. Will you and your brother pray for this great man and his wife, Grace?
by David and Tim Bayly on August 21, 2007 - 12:30pm
(by Tim) Sadly, reformed pastors identify less with those who live in rural communities and make their living as sheep farmers (what used to be called "shepherds") than with those who live in books and make their living as academics. So this story from today's New York Times is particularly instructive.
There's a big stink over a psychology prof at Northwestern University named J. Michael Bailey who's gored the ox of transexuals around the country. But before we get to Prof. Bailey and the transexuals, a few comments about the lesson Christians should learn from this battle.
For decades, freedom of religion and freedom of speech have been under a sustained attack and the content of the books we read, the sermons we listen to, and the Bibles we carry to church Sunday morning all bear witness to the attrition of these freedoms.
Speaking only of our Bibles, did you know that millions of Bibles used by evangelicals have had words deleted in order to avoid expressing incorrect opinions deemed to have the potential of being hurtful to women and Jews? Evangelical Bible scholars, linguists, translators, graphic designers, publishers, bookstore owners, and pastors all joined together to produce and sell Bibles that would not be vulnerable to charges of sexism or antisemitism. Many hundreds of times, the original Hebrew and Greek words were changed or deleted so the Bible would be less offensive to moderns...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 4, 2007 - 11:32am
(Tim) The second group of men have now matriculated in our pastors college and, as part of the heart religion emphasis during the first of three years' study, I'm leading a seminar on Luther's commentary on Galatians. I have an old copy of the commentary published in 1953 by London's James Clarke & Co. which I've used preaching through Galatians the past couple of years. But I went ahead and bought a second copy of the commentary since the most widely available and cheapest printing today is a paperback edition sold by Wheaton's Crossway Publishers. It's one volume in their Crossway Classic Commentaries series and we had assigned it as the edition of Luther's commentary the men were to read for the seminar. It made sense for me to be on the same page with the men. Literally.
Still, I wasn't entirely happy with the situation. Concerning evangelical publishers and their theological trustworthiness, I have a naturally suspicious mind. "Surely no need to worry about Crossway, though," I thought. "They publish many good authors and, although Alister McGrath is one of the series' editors, Jim Packer is the other and he wouldn't allow them to bowdlerize Luther." In his essay, "Sola Fide: The Reformed Doctrine of Justification," Packer cites the same edition of Luther on Galatians I use, translated by Philip S. Watson and published by James Clarke & Co. He's drunk at the same well so he'll not allow anyone to ruin Luther.
And yet I had a nagging thought at the back of my mind that we'd made a mistake by going with Crossway's edition...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 26, 2007 - 5:51am
(Tim) The president of the PCA's Covenant College, Niel Nielson, just started blogging and his first post is a tribute to the late Bob den Dulk, a father in the faith who used the wealth God entrusted him with to support many, many reformed ministries. David and I are grateful for Bob's generosity which, among other things, provided us a number of excellent books at Banner of Truth conferences. But more, we're grateful for Bob's Christian character which was smaller than life, a refreshing change in the world of non-profit development work.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 22, 2007 - 12:52pm
(Tim) This week saw the release of David Michaelis’ biography of Charles Schultz, the creator of the cartoon strip, Peanuts. Titled Schultz and Peanuts, reviewers are commenting on Michaelis’ heavy emphasis on Schultz as Suffering Artist. What did he suffer?
The Times (10/14/07) sums it up: “Drawings rejected by high school yearbook. Odd haircuts by Dad.”
Not exactly the Gulag, right? Well, this only as context for what follows.
I’ve noted before that in decadent societies artists become the high priests and art, itself, the sacrament. Now I don’t want to push this too far, but I’m determined to push it far enough to get us into a self-reflective and self-critical mode.
Commenting on readers’ desires for artists to be portrayed as anguished souls, University of Minnesota’s Patricia Hampl spoke of our need “in the age of entertainment’s dominance…for art to be something separate from our quotidian lives, something almost spiritual."
by David and Tim Bayly on October 27, 2007 - 4:55pm
(Tim: originally posted October 27, 2007, with an ADDENDUM added March 17, 2011.) While moving into our new church offices, I found a new piece of correspondence documenting the origin of the ESV in the Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy. Why bang this drum again? Because the denial of any connection with controversy at the heart of the ESV's marketing campaign is so typical of the inability of evangelicals to understand that faith is battle, and men who hide the battle for fear it will scandalize the sheep actually harm the sheep. Imagine reformers of past centuries trying to hide the conflict from those they were defending: Think of Calvin holding cloistered meetings with Cardinal Sadolet that the men of Geneva knew nothing about; or Luther publicly denying that his use of the word 'alone' in translating Romans 3:28 was in any way connected with the battle against Rome for justification by faith alone; or the Apostle Paul announcing in his epistle to the Galatians that Peter's particular failure of table fellowship had no significant bearing on his issuing this present letter--that this letter had been in the works for years prior to that public confrontation...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 20, 2007 - 2:31pm
(David) Five years ago the wife of one of Christ the Word's young deacons founded what I believe is a ministry unique within the PCA: Christ the Word's Man Posse.
The recruiting flyer she drew up begins, "Taking the Imprecatory Psalms One Step Further. When Brotherly Love Just Isn’t Enough."
Of course, it's a joke, but a useful joke, even a half-true joke because the reality is, there are times when the men of the church truly do gang together to drive sense into a brother--for instance, the fellow who cuts his family vacation a week short so he can participate in Toledo's Tough Man contest, or the young man who invites a young woman on an expensive date only to spring on her they're going dutch just as they pull away from her driveway.
by David and Tim Bayly on December 1, 2007 - 6:53pm
Certain things must be said about the charges of slander leveled against Doug Wilson on various internet blogs and bulletin boards that inexplicably aren't being said elsewhere. If for no other reason, they must be said to reassure the people of Christ Church, Moscow, that their pastor is innocent of such charges.
by David and Tim Bayly on December 7, 2007 - 6:58am
(David) I've been thinking about apologies lately as I've watched (and in the eyes of some, no doubt, participated in) the conflict surrounding the Federal Vision movement in the Presbyterian Church in America. And what I find striking is how difficult--well nigh impossible--apologies become in the midst of such strife.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 16, 2008 - 6:57am
(Tim) The highest literacy rate the world has ever known was in Colonial America where every Christian father and mother knew the ability to read the Word of God was the greatest treasure they could pass on to their covenant children.
What about literacy in America today? Speaking to the New York Times' David Pogue and John Markoff, Apple's Steve Jobs said the Amazon Kindle book reader "would go nowhere."
"It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that
people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in
the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is
flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore."
Incidentally, while many reformed men are having hissy-fits today over the guitar replacing the organ in the accompanying of hymns in reformed worship services, I've been noticing the decline of what's included in reformed worship services--what we usually refer to as the liturgy. Specifically, I've noted how little Scripture is being read. For centuries books of the Bible were read aloud during (or prior to) worship services; books of the Bible, consecutively by chapter. This is what we do here at Church of the Good Shepherd: In addition to our sermon text read aloud as a part of the sermon (and usually not small), we read books of the Bible aloud as one of our Scripture lessons. Currently we're completing Hosea.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 23, 2008 - 6:18am
The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, Any man of the people of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, who gives any of his children to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, defiling my sanctuary and profaning my holy name. And if the people of the land do at all hide their eyes from that man, when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, then I will set my face against that man and against his family, and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in playing the harlot after Molech. (Leviticus 20:2-5)
(Tim) Last Sunday, about two hundred believers went to the Monroe County Courthouse on the Square to protest the slaughter of the unborn. This protest is held each year to memorialize the fifty million--that's 50,000,0000--babies that have been slaughtered under the protection of our Supreme Court's blood lust known as Roe v. Wade. That's sixteen thousand, eight hundred and twelve times the number of deaths caused by the nineteen terrorists on 9/11.
Here in Monroe County, six hundred and seventy-six infants were
murdered by Planned Parenthood and its hired guns in 2005, the most
recent year stats are available.
Show up at this protest and you'll witness the anemic witness to Jesus Christ that prevails the rest of the year in this community. Five or so from Evangelical Community Church (less than one percent); five or so from our evangelical megachurch, Sherwood Oaks (less than a quarter of a percent); thirty to fifty from the various Roman Catholic parishes (less than one percent); a smattering from each of a number of other churches; five or ten from the Reformed Presbyterian Church; the occasional vegan or atheist who agrees with Nat Hentoff that "For an atheist, life is all we have;" and the remainder from Church of the Good Shepherd.
No, I'm not bragging; I'm shaming. It's unconscionable that Christians are silent year in and year out as babies are slaughtered in our fair city. When I used to preach at Evangelical Community Church, if I mentioned abortion in the sermon the wife of one of our elders would stand up and parade out of the sanctuary...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 16, 2008 - 8:23am
(Tim) Ross from New Zealand, by way of Scotland, comments: "I have just come from a Fundamentalist list which looks and sounds remarkably like this one. Would it be fair to call the Presbyterian Church in America the fundamentalist wing of the broader Presbyterian & Reformed tradition? "
Ross, here in America, 'fundamentalist' is used in a variety of ways, most commonly for those who hold a religious belief in life after death and act accordingly. Although he'd deny it, this is the best way to understand the Fundamentalism project of the elder dean of American church history, Martin Marty.
There's another sense, though, that hearkens back to the early decades of the twentieth century when Christians first starting fighting with some zeal against modernism's heresies and got a bad name for it...
(Tim) Our readers regularly send us links to more documentation of the train wreck within the Anglican denomination today. As David pointed out in an earlier post, Martyn Lloyd-Jones accurately warned of this decades ago, but the evangelicals he directed his warning towards wouldn't listen. The controversy is thoroughly recorded in the history of these exchanges written by Iain Murray in his superb, Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000--particularly the chapter titled, "How the Evangelical Dyke Was Broken in England."
These things are instructive for us today, not because David or I are particularly concerned about the Anglican branch of Protestantism, but because every denomination has evangelicals arguing these same questions Lloyd-Jones argued with Jim Packer and John Stott. It would be a shame to have evangelicals make the same mistakes, over and over again, endlessly repeating history because we won't learn from it.
Here are some quotes from the conflict:
Alister McGrath: "I have no intention of claiming that evangelicalism is the only authentic form of Anglicanism. My concern is simply to insist that evangelicalism is . . . a legitimate and respectable option" (as quoted in Murray, p. 118).
Speaking of the 1988 book John Stott co-authored with liberal churchman, David Edwards, titled Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue, Murray sums up Stott's newly compromised views...
(Tim) For the record, I'm disappointed Rocky Mountain Presbytery's City Church in Denver was allowed to take the PCA's ball and go home without being disciplined for her rejection of biblical sexuality and polity. A plant of the Presbyterian Church in America, she (and particularly her pastor) should have heard a clear "No" from her presbytery, somewhere or sometime. Instead, she saw her presbytery enmeshed in a bunch of split votes that demonstrated tepid leadership, at best; and trendy postmodern commitments to biblical sexuality, at worst.
What would a pastor or session have to do in order to receive a clear disciplinary "No" from a presbytery of the PCA today in this matter of sexuality?
I can hear some responding, "No one's ordained a woman elder or pastor, yet."
If we think it's possible to avoid declaring the boundaries of biblical sexuality at every point leading up to the eldership, but then to hold firm there, our problems are much deeper than the biblical doctrine of sexuality...
Register now for the Christ Church Ministerial Conference on Father Hunger October 16 & 17 in Houston, Texas. The conference is aimed at pastors, elders, deacons, and those aspiring to the work of these offices. David and I attended the conference last year and greatly appreciated it. We hope we'll see you there. (From time to time, I'll put this ad back up on the top of the page, so please look below to see if there are other more recent posts. Thanks.)