July 2008

Presidential candidates, preaching, and the feminization of discourse...

(Tim, parts held over from the last presidential race) Assuming when the normal American goes through church doors he doesn't go through a paradigm shift about the nature of leadership, it's interesting to note what the secular authorities advise concerning the speeches of Bush and Kerry and to consider how this advice applies to our preaching, today:

(John Kerry) uses what George P. Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkley, calls "hedges," words and grammatical constructions that imply uncertainty or qualification.

"There are certain forms of grammar that don't commit you, phrases like 'I believe' or 'I think,'" Mr. Lakoff said. "Kerry has to learn not to do that."

"It is possible to be decisive and not sound decisive," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "People who speak in sentences that contain parenthetical phrases, people who begin a sentence and then deflect to add a series of illustrative examples before they end the sentences" do not seem authoritative, she said. "The language of decisiveness is subject, verb, object, end sentence." (Alex Williams, "George 'The Squinter' Bush vs. John 'The Grinner' Kerry--A Showdown of Style!" New York Times; Sunday, September 26, 2004.)

Is preaching authoritative today or have we learned to use "hedges?" Does our preaching...

Life comes from God and that's the reason we did not stop life...

Picture_4 (Tim w/thanks to David) After his 44-year old wife, Livia, gave birth to their eighteenth child, a daughter named Abigail weighing 7 pounds, 14 ounces, Romanian immigrant, Alexandru Ionce, told the press: "We never planned how many children to have. We just let God guide our lives, you know, because we strongly believe life comes from God and that's the reason we did not stop the life."

Who says things are bad? God sits on His throne, husbands and wives love, God makes the womb fruitful, children are born, families grow, the blueberry bushes hang heavy with fruit, cats nurse their kittens, corn tassels wave in the breeze as the ears ripen, salmon spawn, Romanian immigrants choose life, and God adds to the Church daily those who are being saved. Praise God!

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

A muddled mess...

(Tim) Really, this article is precious. What a perfect demonstration of a journalist's muddle-headed misunderstanding compounded by some who are playing to the masses and others who are seeking to limit any possible legal liability.

The Inquirer reports Enn's book, Inspiration and Incarnation, is a problem because it "encourages Bible-believing Christians to accept that the Bible was the work of both humans and God."

Well, first; not to put too fine a point on it, but have you all noticed that we can't call the race by the name God gave it any more? It's not "adam" or "man," but "humans." In this case it's particularly funny because we're talking about the Bible, the book "holy men wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

And second, is the journalist really so ignorant as to think that anyone in history, let alone the good souls of Westminster, actually deny the Bible is the work of both God and man?

Hang out your "Please Do Not Disturb" sign...

(Tim) If, like my wife and me, you don't appreciate sales calls at dinner time, here's a government site you can use to register your phones so you never get sales calls again at those numbers. Mary Lee and I registered about two years ago. Since then, dinner time's been blissful.

Unity around the Lord's Table...

(Tim w/thanks to Michael) Several years ago, now, our elders debated switching from non-fermented to fermented grape juice. Of course, the usual concerns were raised: Was the Lord's Supper truly the Lord's Supper if "the cup" we drink isn't fermented? And if it is fermented, are we placing a stumbling block in someone's path? There were a number of other questions debated of a more church-specific and exotic nature, but finally we started arriving at a consensus that offering both fermented and unfermented grape juice would satisfy everyone.

Until we realized that it would also split our congregation into two groups--those mature enough to handle fermented juice and those who hadn't yet arrived. Then, WHAM! It hit us that the very step we were taking to lead the congregation into a mutual union would have the unintended side effect of causing division. So we scotched the whole deal and stuck with our present practice of offering "the cup" in only one kind.

I'm reminded of this by the following announcement sent out to the congregation of one of the infinite number of Grace Presbyterian (PCA) Churches, this one in a certain city that will remain nameless to protect the well-intentioned...

An American Original...

Walendowski(David) I love Midwesterners. They're the best America has to offer: straightshooting, big-shouldered men of few words and strong deeds. Where else could David Lynch's The Straight Story have been set? New England? California? Texas? Bah. Nowhere but the Midwest.

And now we add Keith Walendowski to our pantheon of Midwestern heroes. Mr. Walendowski faces a possible six-and-a-half years in prison and $11,000 fine if convicted of disorderly conduct and possession of a sawn off shotgun, but as Mr. Walendowski told the police when they came to arrest him, "It's my lawn mower and my yard, so I can shoot it if I want." Read more from the BBC....


Speaking of birth control...

(Tim) This e-mail came from Taylor's soccer coach last week. Cheers.

* * *

Parents and Players,

I was just informed that our field was recently spayed with a fertilizer and weed preventer and is unable for play until Saturday. We will still meet at the field and will likely play on the Football Field or the practice field in front of the school. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Coach (Doe)

Deaconesses are exotics in church history...

Speaking of those championing a change in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America to allow for woman deacons, one commenter on this blog defended them, writing "No one who is asking us to look into this says we should ignore the scriptures."

Respectfully, I must disagree. If we look at PCA teaching elders who are championing woman deacons, it must be said that some of them fail to affirm, while others oppose the plain teaching of Scripture on sexuality: That since Adam was created first, and then Eve; and since Eve was the one deceived; woman is forbidden to teach or exercise authority over man.

They occasionally come up with scholars (usually modern) they can cite in support of woman deacons, but these scholars have not done any heavy lifting on this issue. Rather, their work amounts to the sort of incidental treatments of a subject that ought never to displace the witness of the Church across history. Thus, it can't be said often enough that the present practice of non-compliant churches within the PCA bears no resemblance to the practice of the Church of the past two thousand years.

For example, some have cited Drs. Doug Moo, Tom Schreiner, and Andreas Köstenberger, as well as the late Dr. Ed Clowney, in support of woman deacons. Several of these men I know and respect. Yet there are others who have given themselves to this subject on a systematic basis who are far better sources in this debate.

Take, for instance, the French historian, Aime Georges Martimort, author of Deaconesses: An Historical Study. (To purchase, click on the title.) Despite the title, Martimort's examination treats both Scripture and church history. Others have commented on Martimort’s work:

This book can be considered the last word on the subject of deaconesses. It deserves a wide readership since there is so much interest in the ordination of women. (Homiletic & Pastoral Review)

Martimort uses his refined skills to give us what should be the definitive work on the subject. (The Diaconate)

So Martimort is foundational to the debate over woman deacons in the PCA and other reformed denominations today. Knowing some will not have the time or inclination to read his work, here are some excerpts...

Heavy metal Capuchin monk...

Picture_3 (Tim, w/thanks to Ben) Well, he's honest--you've got to give him that. Not Christ, not the church, not religion, but life.

Logos of presidential campaigns...

Picture_2 (Tim, w/thanks to Dave) Here's an interesting page displaying all the presidential campaign logos from the past forty-eight years. Compare how Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Ron Paul punctuated their abbreviation for the year. A couple other personal notes...


Spurgeon on the Submergent church...

(Tim, w/thanks to Dave) Readers may have noticed I don't refer to the Emergent Church. Weak believers lacking discernment may be enticed into heresy and the shipwreck of their souls by wolves calling them to emerge, but men have a universal fear of being submerged. Hence my own habit of referring to these wolves and their broad highway of destruction as "The Submergent Church."

Really, no one should need anything more than their name to know to flee, but naivety is so chic today.

"Emerge?" From what? Egalitarianism? Abortion? Feminism? Rebellion? Greenism? Androgyny? Sodomite marriage?

"Well not exactly. But we're glad you asked! The things you mentioned are so--how do I put it?--maybe misunderstood today? Yeah, there are arrogant and insecure men who demonize them. Maybe they're right and we're bad guys, but we like to think an integrated and fully evolved disciple of Jesus would be humble and secure enough to risk leaving the cocoon and realize the world has something to teach us, too. The conversation shouldn't be one-way.

"Jesus was all about love, you know, and if we love our neighbor, I like to think his metanarrative matters just as much as ours. Maybe more? My whole life, I've watched the church condemn the world and refuse to learn from others. Now some of us have the courage and humility to emerge from that cocoon into the life Jesus meant us to have. Why should the church be known for self-righteousness? For authoritarianism, insensitivity, proclamation, arrogance, discipline, submission, manhood, battle, the imperative, holiness, and blood? Dude, it's awesome when people get courage to allow their spirit to chrysalistisize. Hey, you want some rooibos or chai? I'm, like, over coffee, ya know? Ever had rooibois? It's smooth. No caffeine. It's gonna take me a decade to get the rush out of my veins. Used to live on coffee!"

I think the word is 'metastasize'.

This morning Pastor Dave Curell passed on this excerpt of an old sermon by Charles Spurgeon...

Single or double imputation, and the chemical murder of babies...

(Tim, w/thanks to James) First, this from our sermon text yesterday:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)

It's sometimes depressing, but other times very encouraging to see what believers in Jesus Christ are doing in their place of work or profession as they face the onslaught of demonic forces. Often, we compromise with this present evil age--incrementally, of course. Yet from the perspective of those who have lived longer than thirty-five years and have some familiarity with church history, the compromises are punch-you-in-the-nose obvious.

There are other brothers in Christ, though, who boldly confess their faith. All of us are strengthened by their pursuit of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Take, for instance, this Washington Post piece reporting on pharmacists starting new pharmacies that refuse to sell drugs that kill unborn babies.

Of course, the Post is incapable of accurately reporting the story because they are committed to using their paper to market their belief that unborn children are not fully "persons" under the United States Constitution. Thus their story is sold as a battle over "birth-control," "contraception," and "rape" with no mention of the chemical murder of babies and those babies' deaths.

Many, many, many, many, many, many believers in Jesus Christ, both couples and pharmacists, refuse to submit to the claims of love as they apply to these little ones. We cultivate ignorance of the destruction of unborn children that is a constant in the use of birth control pills. For many years, now, pharmaceutical firms, doctors, and pharmacists have known birth control pills kill unborn babies. Some have adapted their definition of life to allow their own use of those pills, or their fulfillment of prescriptions for these abortifacients.

Sadly, most of us have such seared consciences that we feel no need to provide a biblical base for our actions. We justify nothing.

Within evangelical or reformed churches, no one raises the subject. When it comes to chemical (as opposed to mechanical) baby-killing, mum's the word. It's completely legit, no questions asked. After all, how would the whole evangelical reformed money-making machine work if women started having babies every nine months?

"'Chemical baby-killing?' What are you, some sort of fanatic? My parents used the Pill back in the Sixties. Are you saying they killed some of my brothers and sisters? That's absurd! Why don't you go become a Catholic? You aren't secretly going to Mass, are you? Matter of fact, tell me your views on justification, would you? Are you all imputation or are you sympathetic to infusion? And speaking of imputation, single or double, dude? No sneaking away and hiding behind a rock. Which is it? En garde!"

Beyond the church, though, the treatment of this issue by the Post is itself instructive. Look how their headline demonstrates...