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Showing posts from 2004
I've been away for awhile. Here's what I've been working on, called "The Institutional Biases Against Foreign Policy Expertise in Congress." It recommends a great political book; go find it at a library. The second Iraq war was among the most controversial events in the Bush presidency, and it will remain so. The political dynamics of how the war came to pass are fascinating, and the issue is another colorful chapter in the history of allegedly acrimonious relations between the executive branch and Congress. I say “allegedly” because as we will see, Congress neither as a body nor as individuals has any interest in increasing its power to influence foreign policy decision making. Congressional acquiescence in these matters serves Congress well, as active participation threatens its true goal: the reelection of its members. This assertion is the central thesis of David Mayhew’s work, Congress: The Electoral Connection. It is wise for us to examine some key componen
I respectfully ask anyone reading this blog to keep Travis Tamerius, my pastor at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church, in your prayers. He left on the 14th of September for South Africa and Zimbabwe. I did not know anything about Zimbabwe until about a year ago. I'll sum up: It's not a good place to be right now. That dictator, Robert Mugabe, is not a friend of humanity. Predictably, the 'international community' (Europe and the UN) seem to like the guy. Figures. Anyway, the folks at City Presbyterian in Bulawayo are courageously contending for the faith, and trying to shed the light of Christ on the humanitarian situation there. Please pray for them as well.
Just yesterday before noon, we were experiencing some of the best weather that Columbia, MO has ever seen. It was in the 80s, a touch warmer than it has been in the entire state since summer began. And that occasion is extremely strange in itself, if you know anything about Missouri in the summertime. From mid-April through September, the temperature could be classified as Hot, Hotter, and Less Hot. Usually. Anyway, I was walking around campus, looking at all the freshman moving into the dorms with their parents, those concerned looks on all faces, and I thought, "This is where I need to be. No, this is where I want to be." Maybe I'm scared of what comes after this, I'm not sure. But I do know that I've found a place, where I'm wanted and even needed. Perhaps we're all just being selfish, needing a place in the world, but really needing affirmation from others in some fashion. I'd like to think I don't live for the approval of others, but it's
Holy Communion is always going to be one of my favorite topics. There are excellent theological treatments on the subject, such as Robert Letham's The Lord's Supper . It has few weaknesses, and I'll probably review it here sometime. But I want to relate what Communion has been experientially, and maybe if I'm truly lucky, my experience will line up with something biblical to let me know I'm not crazy. It seems to me that Communion is a uniting act. I am united with Christ (just as in baptism) in his life and death. I see the scenes in my head, like I was there. I'm also united with all those other people in the room. Have you ever looked over at someone while taking communion? Look into their eyes. There's something about that moment that says, "No matter what else happens, you are family." Because at that moment, they're not the big powerful investment banker, or the preacher with a dozen published books. They're just a little kid, comin
Hey Everybody, Check this out: http://www.johnharmstrong.com/Viewpoint/7.8.04VP.pdf . A most fascinating treatment of how we arrive at theological conclusions today, elevating our own theological systems as a Judge or a prism through which we read the Word of God, especially in fundamentalism*, though not exclusively. Particularly interesting is a tendency to make core issues out of theological disagreements whose battle lines were drawn by our theological paradigms themselves! John Armstrong says that God quite naturally is above our understanding. Not unknowable, mind you, but that we should take confessional positions with caution and humility, because our understanding is not the benchmark for the truth of the Word of God. We must be willing to accept mystery, he says. (Paging Rev. Tamerius!) A lack of clarity indeed, for the sake of unity. All this bleeds into this week's Weekly Messenger from John, chronicling the interesting debate within the Southern Baptist Convention co
Previous posts on feminism now lead me here: to say just where feminism has been a credit, and where possibly the body of Christ has allowed its witness to be marred by cultural concerns. I do not do this lightly. I am well aware how fashionable it is to criticize the church. Any time a Christian speaks of the church, he or she should speak with respect and love, as these are the people Jesus loved (and loves) so much that he died for them, and will return for them again. So much hostility toward the church masquerades as a kind of prophetic correction that is nothing more than self-guilt somebody wants to share with the whole body of Christ. That's a post for another day. When I wonder about feminism and how to assess it, I ask one question: "Is there anything true about what is being said?" That question is the essence of seeing Christ in culture, which is not only a point of view or a disposition, but the first part of making all things captive to the Lordship of Chris
On June 28, I directed everyone to go to instapundit.com because there was an interesting story there. Might I even say extremely consequential story. It involved Justice Antonin Scalia reminding everyone that American citizens have a right to know with what they are being charged, even if they are suspected terrorists. Compelling for the possible impact on our daily lives, and interesting that Scalia would dissent from the other "conservative" members, the details are worth checking out at the archives of Instapundit, or the Volokh Conspiracy (legal affairs blog).
OK, I'm profoundly annoyed today. John Armstrong's Weekly Messenger is getting too political. Why is it important to find a chuch that is politically balanced? Why assume there's some sort of problem if the congregation votes overwhelmingly for one party/philosophy? That simply is a reflection of our political culture in the last 25 years. Take a solid base subgroup of one political party, then stipulate that such a party has been growing. I wonder then, what will be the results? People need to stop haranguing the churches for things that are not our fault. I will do the best I can to make a person feel at home no matter what they believe politically. Is John Armstrong the type of man who would stay in a church that did not share his poltics, and encourage others to do the same? I hope so, but the last few Weekly Messengers made me wonder.
I was in the University bookstore a few weeks ago when a saw a flyer for "The Vagina Monologues," a play by Eve Ensler. It may or may not have something useful to add; I don't know because I haven't seen it. What struck me was a statement at the bottom saying something like, "Working Together to End Violence Against Women." There's something I can get behind, I reasoned. It might just be a tame hook to get you on the same page with their other issues, but I give them the benefit of the doubt. A couple of weeks later, I saw a commercial for something about the play on the Lifetime network that ended with the same line. The only thing I can say about it is that it's very sad that a commercial like this has to be run. I'm not a feminist. I'll probably never be one. Save your male-bashing, thinly veiled Marxism. Wendy McElroy has had some good columns over at foxnews.com from an "i-feminist" perspective (not anti-male, not liberal), so
If you are reading this today, go to instapundit.com right now. One of my instructors used to say that wars put intense strains on the civil liberties of free people, no matter how noble their intents. This war is no exception.
I've been away for awhile. I guess I should take Jeremy Huggins to heart when he said that all writers will write badly, and just keep writing. But my mind keeps saying, "If I don't have anything to say, why should I write?" Fooey on myself.
I haven't blogged in forever. Nothing worthy to say. I've been absorbed in schoolwork, and political writing. Political writing that has no place on this site. I've showed some colors in a few posts, but this site is about the Kingdom. I'm back.
I'm quite sorry that I'm swamping you all at once; I got behind, and for that, blame Frederick Wheelock and Richard Lafleur! Look out! Here comes the Word of God: Why should we love one another? We know that loving is very far from hating, but how serious is simply not loving? Why did Cain kill Abel, according to verse 12? (Genesis 4:3-9) What was the emotion behind that motive? Why do you think hate and murder are treated as the same thing in the Bible? (Matthew 5:21-24) What is being compared in verse 16? Along with verses 17-18, can you think of passages elsewhere that show us that love is something you do, as opposed to something you say? What does it mean to have “our hearts condemn us” (v. 20-21)? What does it mean that God is greater than our hearts? If you had to summarize these verses with one principle, what would it be?
Some more postings as we venture through this letter I hope will be enjoyable for you. Here's 1 John 2:28-3:10. Why should we avoid sin? What is righteousness, and how do you practice it? How does our being children of God show the greatness of God’s love? (Ephesians 2:1-7, John 1:12-13) Should we hope for Christ’s return, according to verses 2-3? What does the Bible say about that hope? (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:2) Let’s compare different versions of 1 John 3:4. What are your thoughts? Do we take our sin lightly? Does God take our sin lightly? (v.7-10) What should be our response? (Romans 6:1-2, 11-14) Would you be able to look Jesus in the eye if He came back right now?
1 John 2-15-27: “Do not Love the World” In what sense is John using ‘world’ here? What should be our attitude toward things we own? How do you tell the difference between enjoying things God has given versus idolizing those things? What is an antichrist in this passage? What is happening in v. 19? Why is that happening? (Matthew 13:24-30) How has a Christian been anointed by God? Can a true teacher/believer of the gospel deny Christ? Is that the same as having a very troubled time? (doubting, sin, etc.) What is a Christian, according to the passage? (Feel free to think of others, too) According to the passage, is it possible to be acceptable to God without Christ? Is that offensive to you? What are some of the reasons why someone would be upset? Why is it true that, “Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also”? (John 8:30) What are some of the ways we can let the truth of Christ remain in us?
Well, we're a little behind on posting for the Bible study of 1 John, so here's another for 1 John 2:9-14. You will notice some overlap. Are there believers with whom you’ve had disagreements? What did you do about it? What is love in this context? What sort of behaviors show love/not love? Why do you think love can make up for so many mistakes? Why does hate block our way to God? What are some characteristics of little children? Why might John use the words, “little children” in verse 12? Why do we need to be reminded that our sins are forgiven? For what purpose did God forgive our sins? Why does “fathers” go with knowing him who is from the beginning? Why do you think “young men” is grouped with overcoming the evil one? What are some practical ways to apply these truths to our lives?
Alas, the opening of 'The Passion of the Christ' is upon us. This might be the biggest cultural event of my generation. Its possible impact is enormous. I have no idea what the evangelical impact will be. Make no mistake, there will be an effect. Even so, the death of Christ is precious for us who believe. Why? Because His blood saved us from eternal wrath. Others will say, "That poor man suffered so much! How sad!" But Christians will always sing, saying, "Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"
Well, I knew this would happen. There's gay marriage going on everywhere. It's all over the news today. What is my opinion as to what the position of the United States government should be, you ask? Well, civil unions are inevitable, and if the governments of the several states wish to allow it, or even the Federal government itself, it cannot be stopped. That includes all monetary and tax benefits, as well. That said, "gay marriage" is an oxymoron. It's like "carnal Christian." Forget what the state says, a homosexual couple is no more married than is a brother and a sister. The bottom line is this: Marriage is the binding of one man and one woman, for the purpose of ruling together over the creation, with the hope of being fruitful, with God's blessing. If the Bible is the true revelation of God's will to humanity, (big 'IF' for some of you) he cannot countenance, he cannot bless, that which he hates. I bear no ill will, no irrational
Mel Gibson doesn't strike me as a Christian, (even putting obvious disagreements with Rome aside) based on what he said last night when interviewed by Diane Sawyer. He said even non-Christians could get into the Kingdom. You may want to check the Catechism of the Catholic Church on that one, Mel. He took 1 John 2:2 to say that "Jesus died for all men, regardless of creed." It's hard to square that with John 3:18, wouldn't you say? Acts 4:12 also makes things very clear: If you don't believe Jesus is the Christ who alone saves you from your sins, you will go to Hell. That's really harsh. I probably wouldn't say that to your face unless you asked, but it's high time somebody said it. The New Testament is not a set of values; it's primarily about the person and work of Jesus Christ, and what true disciples should do as a result of who he is, and what he has done. I'm your friend, but what friend would lie to you when the truth is so plain?
1 John 2:1-10: To Know God Is there a verse in this passage that strikes you in a unique way? Why does John write this letter? What is an advocate? Why is Jesus able to be our advocate? What is atonement? (my Bible says, “propitiation.” By the way, atonement, propitiation, and satisfaction are all synonymous, according to The American Heritage Dictionary) What kind of knowing is meant in v. 3? Is it the same as knowing that 2+2=4, for example? How is it different? What are the two most important commands Jesus gave us? What did He say about them in relation to the rest of the Law? (Matthew 22:37-40) What does the Bible say of us if we ignore Jesus’ commandments? What is the word that they have heard? Can we love God and hate one of our brothers? Are we allowed not to get along? What do you make of v. 10? (Read 1 Peter 4:8)
Also, there may have been gaps in the postings for the book of Colossians. Anyone missing some questions can e-mail me and I will re-post them or give them to you personally.
Today, I am posting the questions from our first Bible study this semester. As always, thanks to "The Gentle Dragon" Chris Yee for his assistance. Enjoy 1 John 1. If you had to summarize this passage with one thought, if someone said, “What is the point of 1 John 1?” what would you say? Why does John mention all those senses (“we have seen…we have touched…we have heard”)? (v. 1) What is very clear about the person of Christ from v. 1? (Look at John 1:1; they’re very similar on purpose) Why would John and other disciples share what they’ve seen and heard? What is the joy John speaks of in v. 4? What does it mean that God is light, and in him there is no darkness? (v. 5) Could the same be said of us? What does “while we walk in darkness” mean in v. 6? What does fellowship have to do with walking in the light? How does God deal with those who confess their sins? What does that tell us about God’s character? Can
I voted today, in the Democratic Primary. I felt stinkin' patriotic, too. There's something beautiful about people taking the time to grapple with the issues, and do what's best for their country. Even when it's the opposing party, or preferences don't quite square. This blog remains as apolitical as possible, but I want to encourage people to vote whenever possible. It's a wonderful thing.
A Short List of Groundbreaking (music I like) Albums Since 1980: "Thriller" by Michael Jackson "Weezer (The Blue Album)" by Weezer "For the Cool in You" by Babyface "The Day" by Babyface "Waking Up the Neighbours" by Bryan Adams "Blue Clear Sky" by George Strait "George Strait" by George Strait "August and Everything After" by the Counting Crows Honorable Mention: "Siamese Dream" by Smashing Pumpkins "II" by Boyz II Men "Tender Lover" by Babyface No list is ever complete, and they are always arbitrary. But now you know what I listen to, and you folks older than me can explore stuff you're perhaps not used to.
I know there are tons of kids fighting horrific childhood diseases, but when I saw my friends at a neighboring church praying for a little girl among them, and I saw her father tell the story to the congregation (and exhorting us to keep praying) it just broke my heart. I thought of my sister, and how I'd rather take that myself if I could, than have a little one go through that. I know, I know, be careful what you ask for. But that's how I felt.
I don't want the last post to read as necessarily an indictment of "contemporary worship." It's not at all. What I am saying is that the church's strangeness to the wider culture is not the most pressing problem we face. In many contexts, that is her strength. Only true revival, from God Himself, will make our message fresh and exciting. Most proponents of "contemporary worship" who understand the true place of worship know that what is contemporary today may be old hat in 50 years. If someone ministers to a population wholly unfamiliar with Christian history and hymnody, those kinds of choices make sense. But some do not even think of the church catholic when deciding how to worship. As with many things, they reap what they have sown; namely, notions of growth and piety centered around emotion and the senses, and a lack of appreciation for the saints who have gone before. Therefore, as we write new songs and new liturgies, we must ask, "Will those
Relevance and the Demeaning of Tradition Beginning in the 1960s and '70s, as Christian leaders witnessed the rather open challenges to authority and doctrine, as well as practice, some said that churches needed to compete with market-driven strategies to keep peoples' attention. Lights, guitars, and PowerPoint sermons popped up. "Relevance" was the buzzword, and it still is. I'm not the first to write about this, but I have a message for all those who advocate that Christ's church needs an update: go away. We evangelicals instinctively know that good Biblical doctrine needs little revision, (if any) but what about our practice, our liturgy? There are segments of evangelicals who believe that liturgy killed the Gospel. To be somewhat crass, we broke away from Rome because it was boring. So you say structure kept the Word of God from saving souls? I beg to differ. I have heard some say we need some sort of revolution in church, and the way we think about wors
Hey, everybody! Did you know that there is exactly one edition of the Vulgate (Latin) Bible in print in these United States of America, and that it will cost me at least 80 bucks if I want one? I'm taking Latin right now. I reasoned, "Hey, I know the Bible in English pretty well; it might help me." And of course, to impress people at dinner parties with how many different Bible translations I own. I can personally attest, by the way, that the Lord's Prayer is beautiful in Latin. St. Jerome would be appalled at the lack of availability of his translation. On another note, I saw a Catechism of the Catholic Church prominently displayed there at our beloved University Bookstore. I've always been curious about it. One day I'll get one. Lest you Reformed folks reading this think you're the center of the theological universe, I didn't see the Westminster Standards anywhere. The rest of the world is missing out on a gem, I say.
I've got two things today. Let's talk about Biology 1 at the University of Missouri. Frankly, I'm thrilled to be in a basic biology course so late in my college career. Being a reasonably intelligent person who likes being able to hold my own on a wide variety of subjects, I have begun to feel my knowledge of basic science has slipped. Now then, it amuses me also to report that my biology instructor (who is a very nice lady) shares a last name with our current President. It's somewhat an educated guess, but I also highly doubt she is either related to, or shares any similarity in political philosophy to "W." Travelling toward the point of this post then, one lecture ago, the good doctor explained why she in fact would be teaching evolution, and not any sort of creation. She was quite respectful, and does not seem to harbor any negative emotions whatever toward anyone who believes the Bible to be true, and the Word of God. And that is a very good thing. Yet her
I was perusing (spelling?) my mail the other day, and came across an article by John Armstrong in a recent Viewpoint newsletter from Reformation and Revival ministries. Sadly, you do not often see an article about doctrinal and systematic theological revival as the solution to the problem of applying God's Word to our lives. As John said, we're endlessly trying to move the knowledge of God "from the head to the heart." Yet this is a tragic error. We cannot apply what we do not understand. And most Christians remain ignorant of doctrine that may help them in daily life. There's two main reasons for this: Christians in general do not read the Bible enough to retain what is contained within it, and there is a widespread belief that such knowledge is reserved for pastors and the like. Nothing could be further from the truth. Doctrinal purity and faithful practice absolutely depends on an active, engaged laity with the ability to teach themselves. Having read Knowing
Well, I haven't blogged in forever. I was once again sick. I'm really not a big fan of that. Anyway, can I talk about my growing emotional attachment to the Green Bay Packers? I watched the December 22 game against the Raiders, the night after legendary Packers quarterback Brett Favre lost his father. They called it the game of his life. No kidding: 22-30, 399 yards, 4 TDs (yes, four) no interceptions. He threw the ball to people that had three defenders on them. They still caught the passes. He tossed them up without looking. Didn't matter. The Raiders were up against a grieving legend, and they knew it was hopeless. Some people say God directed those footballs. On that, I have no opinion. I do know that I've never seen anything so ridiculously great as that game. That's why it was so sad when Favre threw the interception in overtime against the Eagles in the divisional playoff last Saturday. The "team of destiny" was finished. I've been brooding abo