September 2007

Why can't Poland get with the pogram...

(Tim) From a Reuters article, this lead-in:

Poland's conservative government blocked EU plans to create a European day against the death penalty, saying any such event should also condemn abortion and euthanasia...

Praise God for Poland, Ireland, and Malta. (Thanks, Nick.)

Jesus & Mohammad: By their fruit, ye shall know them...

(Tim) Since 9-11, things have changed, haven't they? From the moment President Bush reassured us that Islam "is a religion of peace;" or more directly, "Islam is peace;" it was clear where things were headed.

Speaking of pornography...

(Tim) A dear friend who works as an attorney out east sent an E-mail in which he commented, "I thought you might be interested in (this) New York Times article regarding prosecution of pornography. Here are a couple of interesting quotes:

While pornography by itself is not illegal, it can be prosecuted as obscenity if it fits the definition laid out by the Supreme Court more than 30 years ago. Under that ruling, Miller v. California, a work may be deemed obscene if, taken as a whole, it lacks artistic, literary or scientific merit, depicts certain conduct in a patently offensive manner, and violates contemporary community standards.…

Professor Lochner said he doubted Ms. Buchanan's efforts would have much of a deterrent effect because they were so few that pornography producers had come to regard being prosecuted by her or anyone else as 'being struck by lightning.

My friend adds this question: "What if the rule laid out by Supreme Court precedent were actually followed and enforced? I wonder if progress could actually be made at stemming the tide of lewdness in our culture.  That is unless we have devolved so much that 'what is vile is honored among men' (Psalm 12:8) and there is nothing 'patently offensive' about pornography."

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Is this only a Roman Catholic ministry?

(Tim) Two months ago I put up a post calling churches to show up where babies are being killed in their community or city, speaking up for the little ones being slaughtered there. In that post I promised I would get information to anyone wanting to know how to undertake such a ministry. When several inquired, I dropped the ball. I'm sorry.

This morning, Lucas Weeks (one of those involved in this ministry here at Church of the Good Shepherd) posted the following comment under that previous post. I'm reposting it here assuming some who won't check under the old post will see it here and will take encouragement from Lucas' instructions to begin this witness. Remember that when the Twelve tried to shoo the wee ones away from Jesus, assuming his ministry to adults was too important to mess with kids, He rebuked them: “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)...

Porn-free Conferences....

(David) One of the joys of internet correspondence is developing friendships with those you wouldn't otherwise encounter. Tim and I have known Kamilla Ludwig since the late 90s when we considered her a worthy opponent on the CBMW email list (which I moderated for several years before turning over to Bill Rivilian). It was thus a delight for Tim and me to renew our acquaintance with Kamilla on this blog several years ago. Her wise additions to this blog routinely brighten our days. As an example of her wisdom, consider this letter recently sent to the directors of the Evangelical Theological and Philosophical Societies:

I am not currently a member of ETS, though I will likely renew my membership next year, I won't be doing so this year.  I am not a philosophy professor and my primary reason for joining is to attend the annual meeting - which depends upon my interest in the conference theme and seeing the host city.

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Bible translation: dynamic equivalence, right or wrong...

(Tim) Under a prior post, two dear friends began a discussion concerning dynamic equivalence, maybe the prevailing method of Bible translation today. Both men have good reason to support this method--Chris Taylor because he's the grandson of one of the pioneers of this technique, Ken Taylor, who wrote the Living Bible; and Michael McMillan who works supporting the publishing arm of Wycliffe Bible Translator's Summer Institute of Linguistics, the largest Bible translation organization in the world.

So I encourage you to click on through to the comments where you'll find Chris and Michael posting their thoughts on this critical matter. (It may take a few hours for them to get their comments posted, so stop back in a little while.) And by the way, if their discussion interests  you and you'd like to learn more, Leland Ryken's, The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation, is a good place to start.

Niel Nielson pays tribute to Bob den Dulk's faith...

(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.

Alister McGrath, part II: his work on justification...

Note from Tim: Under Pastor David Wegener's prior post concerning Rev. Dr. Alister McGrath, Bill R. asked Pastor Wegener for an evaluation of McGrath's $80 volume titled, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification. Did I mention this work lists for $80?

Rather than bury Pastor Wegener's response in the comments under his post, it seemed good to put it here on the main page with the hope that many more will read it than otherwise might.

Dear Bill R.: Sorry for the delay in responding to your question about McGrath’s book on justification. I have a copy of Iustitia Dei and have studied parts of it. It is one of the few treatments of the history of the doctrine of justification, so maybe that is why people regard it as seminal.

It is a pretty accurate truism of historical theology that justification by faith alone was one doctrine the Reformers recovered from the Scriptures. Yes, you can find comments in a number of earlier authors that would line up with Protestant doctrine, but by and large, it was a key truth that the patristic (including Augustine) and medieval theologians got wrong.

However, I’m not convinced that McGrath is correct on the Reformed teaching on this topic. He tries to pry apart the unity of the Reformers on justification (p. 188). It is easy to do that with Zwingli and Bucer. Neither were so reliable as theologians. But it is more difficult to do that with Calvin and Luther and the evidence McGrath presents can be used against his attempts to pry them apart.

McGrath’s conclusion to the book is much more troubling...

The real significance of Grisham's Christian faith...

190(Tim) Whatever brand of Christian faith author John Grisham adheres to, it's compatible with supporting a presidential candidate who defends the bloody murder of unborn babies safely nestled in their mothers' wombs. Grisham said his fundraising dinner for the candidate was "more than an endorsement." A far cry from The Testament's Rachel Lane, I'd say.

In the run-up to his fundraiser, Grisham had this to say about the Bush administration: "I've always thought that they were bad people with evil intent - and all that, it's playing out now," he said. "I can't stand those people - and their incompetence is astounding."

Coaching as Fatherhood...

(David) Blair Smith sends a link to this fascinating video of Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy responding to an article critical of his starting quarterback in a postgame press conference. Interestingly, Oklahoma State won the game, but Coach Gundy isn't concerned about that when he talks to the press....

My son Nathan's wrestling coach, Mario Dominguez, is like a second father to his wrestlers. He lives for them, loves them, calls them to serve the Lord and builds them into men by his magnaminity of spirit.

Absolutely priceless...

(Tim) If you want to have your heart gladdened while listening to maybe the greatest song of the twentieth century... Really, it's plum bootiful.

(Thanks, Carole.)

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Form for excommunication...

(Tim) A friend sent an E-mail asking if I had a form or liturgy for excommunication that his session might be able to use. We've had several excommunications over the past eleven years, and have been greatly blessed to have adopted as our bylaws those written by Ken Sande and circulated by Peacemakers for adoption by churches affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America. Regularly, I recommend those bylaws to other pastors and elders (including churches not affiliated with the PCA). They're superb and provide great protection for the church in this litigious age--particularly the membership covenants these bylaws require every new member to sign.

Among the documents provided by Peacemakers in support of their bylaws is a packet of church discipline forms and letters that can be used as boilerplate text by particular churches in their own disciplinary cases. The following statement was used at Church of the Good Shepherd in a tragic case where a man cast off his wife and refused the ministry of the board of elders calling him to repentance. The names and dates have been changed to protect this man's identity, but I post it here with the hope that it may serve others with the sad responsibility of this same work within their own congregation.

This letter is largely, but not completely, the work of Peacemakers, and I happily acknowledge their excellent resources as the foundation of our own labors here at CGS... 

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