Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2 Cor. 4 and the Crackerhead

Fishhawk Droppings is a fascinating theological odyssey/personal journey posted by my friend Jerry.  I found out about this a long time ago after finding his primary blog, As the Crackerhead Crumbles.  The thing that I've respected about Jerry is his overwhelmingly positive attitude and glowing good-nature to all who visit, to both the friendly visitors and the nay-sayers. 

Well, he has another blog, FishHawk Droppings, that is worth checking out.  The blog is actually a long, detailed personal narrative that starts from Jerry's childhood and throughout a fascinating and tumultuous series of life events, and the account reads like a very dramatic novel.  But the blog narrative eventually segues into a different direction, and transitions into an imaginary dialog between the "Crackerhead" and a "minister", with the Crackerhead as Jerry and the "minster" being a fictitious character, but the dialog based on real situations.  The conversation is an interesting one, and its fascinating to follow the back and fourth of the characters.  The Minister definitely seems to have more of a skeptical edge, and the Crackerhead responds to a number of questions posed in a lively discussion, well-documented with Scriptural texts.  Now I don't always agree with everything that Jerry poses in the discussion, and I've left a few comments along the way expressing this, but nevertheless I think its a great dialog and I'd recommend that you check it out.

As the Crackerhead Crumbles (miscellaneous topics: religion, music reviews, blog recommendations, etc.)
FishHawk Droppings (personal odyssey/theological dialog with the Crackerhead and the Minister)

I asked Jerry about a verse/passage that summaries what his site is primarily about, and he mentioned 2 Cor. 4, which I think serves as an excellent passage about looking beyond present situations to the eternal glories that await us,

2 Cor 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Proverbs 8:36 and the Long War Againsts Babies

Proverbs 8:36 "But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”

Another link

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Daniel Akin - Resources for Pastors and Teachers of the Bible

Link to Daniel Akin's website, the President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The site includes a lot of information, including a number of audio sermons for downloading.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hope Presybterian Church in Grayslake, IL

I was recently at the OPC church directory and was interested to see a link for Hope Presbyterian in Grayslake, IL. Although I'm no longer Presbyterian (largely over baptism, but other issues as well), I remember this Orthodox Presbyterian Church well and it was a blessing to be a part of this fellowship years ago. Pastor Dennis Disselkoen was one of the first pastors I'm familiar with who taught in a very straight-forward exegetical teaching style - even on holidays, if he was working through a particular book, he'd keep going through that book in lieu of a Christmas-themed sermon.  I liked that.

We attended Hope back in the early 00's, as it was the first church we attended when we moved to the north Chicago suburbs. My Dad was formerly with the OPC, so it was a denomination I was very familiar with, including it's fondness for the Trinity hymnal and the Westminster standards. The church was small at that time, and meeting in a high school (shortly after that in a store front location, if I recall.) The attendance was small but the teaching was solid, and I'm glad to see that Pastor Disselkoen has some MP3 audio sermons linked on the church site.  A note, though, is that the page is currently setup so that if you go to the audio page, it starts to load up each message into the cache, so if you have a brutally old computer like I do, this slows things down.  So I suggest going to the page, use DownThemAll! and download the MP3s, then route back to a different page of the site while it runs.

Anyhow, Hope OPC was a very good mission work and the teaching was solid.  Of course, they subscribed to the Westminster Confession of Faith, of which I have a few issues here and there (baptism and other things.)  I've actually been working through G. I. Williamson's study guide to the Confession recently, and while I think he does a good job elaborating on what the Confessions talk about, just like with the Presbyterian views I just have a hard time making some of the doctrine jive with scripture.  Probably more on that in a later post.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Kings 17: 1-7

Phil Johnson has an excellent message posted online about the topic of Biblical manliness, using I Kings 17 specifically and the account of Elijah in the wilderness as a prime example of a manly Biblical figure. Living in the wilderness and surviving on the water of a drying creek and whatever the ravens delivered definitely counts as roughing it as far as I'm concerned.  In discussing the topic of "defeminizing the church", Pastor Phil points out the obvious fact that there are no "soft, effeminate" heroes of the faith. Even Jesus, often portrayed as the blue-eyed, meek-and-mild peace-lover, would in fact often provoke arguments and challenges to others, and wasn't afraid to bundle together a whip to drive out the money changers.  So we read how Elijah really stands out as one of the "tough-guys" of the Bible, wearing fur and leather and living in the woods under a juniper plant (which Pastor Phil describes as a scratchy, avoidable plant you wouldn't normally want to be under.)

With Elijah we see him initially appear on the scene, confront Ahab and pronounce no rain for three years. But then, instead of going into any other sort of action, he is then sent out to live three years in the wilderness, completely cut off from culture and society (in a situation similar to that of others in the Bible who also spent a measure of time in wilderness isolation, such as Moses and Jesus.) To us, this may look like wasted opportunity and wasted time to our carnal eyes, but this time in the wilderness was a time of trust, and a time of private instruction. Often the outworking of God's providence can seem to work to detriment in our eyes, but as was the case of Elijah, God used this time to develop and prepare Elijah for his ministry work. From this time of isolation, Elijah emerged with faith stronger than ever.

We can often question why God would work through situations and scenarios that we don't understand, such as trial and persecution, but God's providence often works in situations we do not understand to help develop and unfold our character, and to further strengthen us for His service.

Other Phil Johnson sermons

The Village Church - Audio Sermons

There are a ton of MP3 audio sermons for Dallas-based Village Church available free online. I found out about this church through one of Mark Dever's podcasts (I think it was an interview with Matt Chandler) and I was impressed with the direction of this ministry (and, who knows, the way my job searching is going, with contact from recruiters in Ft. Worth, I might very well be in Dallas someday and visiting this church at some point.)

Anyhow, for sites like this with plentiful MP3s on one page, I recommend an excellent Firefox plug-in called "DownThemAll!", that with one click basically kicks off a massive, queued download process to grab all of the MP3s on a page and save them to one location on your computer. Now, on my dusty old Sony Vaio that does tend to make the PC drag, so I usually kick it off and go to get a snack (yeah, I really need a new computer...)

Fire Of Molech And America

Here's a link to a message by Pastor Charles Garrison on the topic of Molech, particularly in light of the abortion issue in America. I think this message is a good overview but could have gone a little bit further in addressing the larger issue of self-vs-children in our nuclear 2-kid-only church society today.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hebrews 2:14 and the Hypostatic Union

Hebrews 2:14
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil

Some notes from a message by Douglas F. Kelly of RTS on the topic of the hypostatic union.  I don't always agree with everything Dr. Kelly speaks about (particularly on infant baptising) but these notes were particularly good.

The manhood, or humanity, of Christ, was and is necessary for salvation.  Hebrews speaks about how it behooved him to become flesh.  If a view of docetism is held, then he is still far away from us.

When we die, what will we offer God?  The answer:  Jesus' obedience.  Jesus is who God most essentially is.  He is the character of God.  If the diety of Christ is denied, then the foundation of the Christian faith is undermined.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Corinthians 11 and Why I am not a Methodist

I was recently at a Methodist church in town (not for worship, but rather for coffee at their poshly-decorated coffee nook/gift shop), and while there I took a look at some of their documents and doctrine, and more or less confirmed what I already knew about Methodism, and affirmed why I am NOT a Methodist.  It has less to do with their ordination of women (which, of course I have some I Tim. 2 issues with) or their Armenian traditions (which I have some Romans 8 issues with) but more over the Weslean tradition and Wesley's 25 articles. Per this one:

Article XVII—Of Baptism

Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.

I've yet to see from Scripture where baptism of children or infants is illustrated or instructed.  From the churches site, "Those that are baptized as children must make the choice to confirm their belief in Christ to continue as members of the church."  To continue as members?  I do not understand the strange idea of a half-sacrament.  Scripture seems to give a solid example of baptism of professing adults, not children.  How can baptism be done with the idea that a confirmation needs to follow separately?

The other article that caught my attention was sixteen, on the "sacraments":

Article XVI—Of the Sacraments

Sacraments ordained of Christ are not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they are certain signs of grace, and God’s good will toward us, by which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in him.

I've come to question recently the usage of the word "sacrament", since, by definition, it's held to be a means of divine grace, and when individuals partake of the Lord's Supper, or baptism, they may, or may not, be partaking in these ordinances with the right heart attitude (a non-believer could ask to be baptized - likewise a non-believer could take the elements of the Supper).  So in these situations, is grace ALWAYS understood to be imparted?  I can think of individuals who have walked from the faith but yet were baptized as infants.  Was grace still imparted in that infant baptism?  I would argue not - not just because I do not recognize infant baptism as a valid administation of the baptism ordinance, but because the implication becomes that grace was poured out and essentially WASTED.  I don't think that's right, and this also seems to clash with the reformed doctrine of limited atonement. 

Another thought:  per MW, the English word sacrament is from the Latin sacramentum, which means to make holy, or to consecrate.  Yet are the elements made holy?  Or is the meal, as an ordinance, one of remembrance?  It feels a little like treading into glorifying the meal and the components of the meal, more than the message of the meal, and understanding, per I Cor. 11, the propriety of worship and the proper observation of the meal and preparation of the heart.  This reminds me of another fault with this particular UM church, as on it's site, regarding the Lord's Supper, the warning was merely, "God offers this relationship to everyone, so all who desire to receive are welcome to participate."  All who desire to receive, regardless of genuine faith and repentance?  I was at a UM church long ago, and I recall how, as the elements were about to be distributed, the pastor gave the feeble warning of, "Only partake of these elements if you are a Christian, or thinking of becoming one..."  I'm sure that was right out of I Cor. 11.

There are other things, but those are some of the principle reasons I'm not a Methodist.  Another note from the site was about "If You Have Children", followed by instructions on where to put them for church (because, why would you want them with you during the worship service?  That's just silly to worship together as a family.)