Monthly Archives: August 2010

Just the usual misinformation

Is Calvinism a Dead Letter?.

For the record, as someone who has the “FV” label, here is what I believe in 8 paragraphs.

1. God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

4. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

5. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.

6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

7. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.

8. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

Dr. Davis appears to interpret a concern that calvinism not be (mis!) used as an excuse to not take warnings seriously as a criticism of calvinism itself for leading adherents to ignore God’s commands.

The mom is telling her son what kind of girl he should want

Passage: Proverbs 31 (ESV Bible Online).

Everyone seems to divide this into two sections: The words of King Lemuel that he was taught by his mother (vv 1-9), and then the description of a godly woman which has been taken as written for women.

Well, women can learn from it, and should, but it doesn’t read that way to me. Rather, the whole thing reads like the words of King Lumel that his mother taught him.

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

That’s what a mother says in Hebrew for, “Stop staring at her…”

Protecting the Westminster Standards from the PCA’s Book of Church Order?

I hear people claim that the Westminster Standards insist that only the “invisible Church” is “the body of Christ.”

In the Book of Church Order, here is preliminary principle #3:

Our blessed Saviour, for the edification of the visible Church, which is His body, has appointed officers not only to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments, but also to exercise discipline for the preservation both of truth and duty (emphasis added).

If anyone really thinks that the Westminster Confession contradicts this, they need to get it amended to say:

Our blessed Saviour, for the edification of the visible Church, which is not His body because only the invisible church may be described in this way, has appointed officers not only to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments, but also to exercise discipline for the preservation both of truth and duty.

Likewise, the beginning of the preface about Jesus being “THE KING AND HEAD OF THE CHURCH” would need to be rewritten so that it no longer included the emphasized words:

Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government rests, whose name is called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth, even forever (Isaiah 9:6-7); having all power given unto Him in heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:20-23); He, being ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things, received gifts for His Church, and gave all offices necessary for the edification of His Church and the perfecting of His saints (Ephesians 4:10-13).

After all, this too makes the “body of Christ” the church with offices–offices that are visible.

Of course, if we are to make these revisions to the BCO, we would need to edit the Scriptures on which it is founded. Actually, I can’t see any way to edit First Corinthians 12.12-30. It would need to be completely expunged from the Bible:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

All of this editing and expunging is necessary if the Westminster Confession teaches that only the invisible Church is the body of Christ and that the visible Church is not the body of Christ. What I find odd, however, is that I don’t see anywhere in the Westminster Standards that make that precise claim. I see that the Westminster Confession affirms that the invisible Church is the body of Christ, but I don’t see them excluding the visible Church from being the body of Christ. In fact, chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession goes on to use First Corinthians 12.28 as a source for describing the visible Church:

Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.

So I don’t see a reason to insist that the Westminster Confession contradicts the PCA’s Book of Church Order or First Corinthians 12.12-30.

What was Marx’s spiritual state?

Remembering Marx… or not – Reformation21 Blog.

Derek is someone I think of as above the Anti-FV blog meme, but he seems to be slipping down into it.

So what was Marx’s spiritual state? According to the Bible, he was someone who was delivered from “Egypt” but instead of following God to the Promised Land he stubbornly resisted God’s call in disbelief so that his “last state” became “worse… than the first” (2 Peter 2.20). This is not “Federal Vision.” It is the Apostle Paul:

For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

Marx (who, by the way, was not only baptized but had, as far as anyone can tell, a quite convincing profession of faith in his youth), did not flee from idolatry. He embraced it. He invented a new form of it. So he died in the wilderness.

We should consider Marx a warning in history.

It is about teaching, not boasting in knowledge

This mistake is the result of confusing the session interview with St. Peter’s interview at the Pearlies. It demands of preschoolers that they show their high school diploma as a condition for admittance into preschool. It confuses the end from the beginning, and the beginning from the end. It muddles baptism and the eschaton. It reverses the order of the Great Commission — teach them obedience to all that the Lord commanded, and then bring them in. It is theological dyslexia.

via An Interview At the Pearlies.

Infinite liability for parents?

By making a conscious decision to leave your child in the car, even to pay for gas, you are putting your child in harm’s way. Car thieves and child abductors lurk; your child could unbuckle them self and get caught in the power window or move to the front and put the car into gear.

via What Could Happen to Your Kid in the Car While You Pay For Gas? « FreeRangeKids.

In Oklahoma one was not permitted to take one’s child into a liquor store–and these were the only places where the wise and judicious legislators of Oklahoma would permit residents to purchase wine. Jennifer and I found it convenient that most of these stores were small storefronts with big windows so we could park and get in and get back while keeping an eye on our (then much younger) kiddos.

Anyway, looking at this hysterical response, I have to ask: Do real parents believe this stuff?

My inclination is to assume this comes from people without children and the fact that it is taken seriously is a reflex of the fact that legislative interns and many lobbyists are young unmarrieds. What do you think?

(Of course, the other factor is that the P-Class [Political/Predator/Parasite] is populated by people who delegate their children to servants and have no idea what real responsibility even smells like among the hoypolloy.)

God’s righteousness or the righteousness of–wink, FROM, wink–God?

For the record, Paul does write about a “righteousness from God” in Phillipians 3.9. And tellingly it takes him three words to do so, with ek for “from.” The same is true of First Corinthians 1.30. But the new defensiveness orthodoxy is to insist that the exegetical basis must be found in Romans 1-3 and anyone who says otherwise is a dangerous heretic.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1.16-17).

Only the ESV chooses to use the term “the righteousness of God” instead of God’s righteousness. OK. Nothing wrong with that.

But if our unrighteousness serves to show God’s righteousness, what shall we say? (Romans 3.5a)

And now the punchline:

But now the God’s righteousness has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—God’s righteousness through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, through faithfulness. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who is of the faithfulness of Jesus.

This is how the Protestant “tradition” is maintained in the absence of Biblical evidence. When people want to use the same term in two entirely different ways they make the term different by choosing different English conventions to translate the exact same Greek phrase. This causes unwary English readers to think that there are two different terms that provide two different meanings: on the one had a “righteousness from God” imputed to believer and “God’s righteousness” that is his own character revealed by his righteous actions.

(This also affects how one considers whether one should translate another phrase as “faith in Jesus Christ” or “the faith(fulness) of Jesus Christ.”)

Of course, when I write “Protestant ‘tradition,’” I’m talking about the exegetical and mythical tradition–the exegesis being the interpretation of a single passage and the myth being the solemn recounting of the existential crisis of Luther so that anyone who finds another option that he didn’t consider can be accused of blasphemy against the ancestors we worship. The theological tradition is just fine.

We should defend it on the basis of better texts.

The educational background of the other Genome scientist

Practicing medicine at the orphanage was one of the highlights of my time in Vietnam. I found that basic hygiene and soap could often do as much to improve the quality of life for many as advanced drugs… Using my knowledge to do a little good in the midst of much death and misery, I became convinced of the direction my life should take. If I made it back home and could get into a university and then into a medical school, I would practice medicine in the developing world. But sitting outside of Da Nang in 1968, after barely graduationg from high school four years earlier, the very acts of surviving the war and going home seemed distant, let alone attending a university. (p. 41)

My grades were so dismal that they threatened to sabotage not only my eligibility for the swim team but my graduation. Fortunately, I wrote a glowing paper about the presidential bid of the extreme Republican Barry Goldwater, whose slogan was “In your heart, you know he’s right.” The teacher who marked my paper seemed to be a Goldwater conservative and was sufficiently impressed to give me a D minus instead of an F, which would have ended my chance of graduating. (p. 17)

I think that one reason I was able to become a successful scientist was that my natural curiosity was not driven out of me by the educational system. (p. 7)

SEE ALSO: Mark Horne » Blog Archive » The education background of one person of note.

The education background of one person of note

Dr. Collins suggested that it was his unusual upbringing that imparted such a thirst for knowledge. His father has a Ph.D. in English, but has wide-ranging interests, including collecting folk music and staging medieval plays. His mother is a playwright. When Dr. Collins was growing up, his parents raised sheep on a farm in rural Virginia. “It was a hard life,” he said, and his mother, distrusting the education provided in the rural schools and “not about to relegate the early learning of her sons” to them, decided to teach her children at home.

Dr. Collins is the youngest of four boys. The two oldest brothers, 18 and 16 years older than Dr. Collins, were taught at home until they went to college. Dr. Collins and a brother who was a year older than he were taught at home through sixth grade.

“It was a bit disorganized,” Dr. Collins said. “I’m sure it would not have been deemed appropriate by today’s standards.” The Collins boys and their mother would explore a topic, like the origins of words, for a week or two, doing nothing else, then move on to another subject, like mathematics. As a result, Dr. Collins said, he grew up with an unquenchable curiosity and love of learning.

When Dr. Collins entered high school, in Staunton, Va., he discovered chemistry. He recalls that his teacher made the subject come alive and that he was drawn to its intellectual rigor. He ended up majoring in chemistry at the University of Virginia and then earning a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Yale University, using theory and mathematics to discover the behavior of atoms and molecules. Discovery of Cystic Fibrosis Gene

via SCIENTIST AT WORK – Francis S. Collins – Unlocking the Secrets of the Genome – Biography – NYTimes.com.

PS. Here is the educational background of another genome scientist.