Rife with the Aroma

Our homes must be rife with the aroma of love. Those who visit us should notice immediately that they have left the world of self-serving, egocentric narcissism and have entered a safe harbor where people value and esteem others above themselves. Outsiders should enters our homes and never want to leave. Our neighbors should find excuses to visit us just to get another whiff of the fragrant aroma of love. The brokenhearted should long to be near us. The downtrodden and the abused should seek us out. Families on the brink of disaster should point to us and say, “Why can’t our home be like that?”  –Voddie Baucham

What kind of impact would the church have if it was filled with homes like this? The church is always a work in progress, but this sort of home-life should be our goal. With loving, self-sacrificial and hospitable families, the work of the Gospel is plain and therefore the Word of the Gospel goes out.


Blog Commenting

An administrative note, if you’ll humor me. I’ve been getting enough spam comments to be annoyed, so now you have to register in order to comment. I trust this will be only momentarily painful, and then your smart browser will remember and type in your access information for you. Thanks for taking the trouble.

Blasphemy-Free Naked Dance

A friend forwarded this story to me. St. Stephen’s Church in Edinburgh is hosting 150 naked women dancing on stage as part of the Fringe Festival. The Church of Scotland has no problem with this just as long as there is no blasphemy. Phew. For a moment there I was thinking God might not like 150 naked women “[expressing] how they feel about their own bodies” in the church.

He is still speaking

Nate Wilson’s Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl is now out and is fantastic thus far. From an early part:

There are Christians in the world who bemoan the absence of God’s speech, who cry out for personal communication with God Himself. They want cues for their lines. They want explanations and specific direction from the Artist.

And God, as far as they can tell, is ignoring them. They feel neglected–because they weren’t cast as Moses or Elijah or Enoch or Gideon.

Tell me what you want me to do, God. speak to me (in English please) and tell me if I should take the job in Des Moines or stay closer to my mother.

Then, because their part in this story does not include cosmic voice-overs in English, they enter into an existential crisis. They begin to “doubt.”

What kind of story do you think this is? I have no problem with the pettiness of your Des Moines dilemma. The world spins on through space, bowled by its Maker. The sun burns on, hot with His words, and yet He still crafts every snowflake without digital shortcuts. He knows that you want to move to Des Moines and yet you feel guilty. He wrote the story. He crafted your character. He gave you life and a plot of your own. Even simple character stories, the kind with no special effects, put together by one lonely producer and starring unbeautiful people, even those are not beneath Him. Infinite reaches all the way up into the transcendent epic of the stars, and all the way down into the ant hill where one loyal worker spends his life toiling, from its first day after the larval stage to its noble end, killed by a ladybug while defending the colony’s vulnerable herd of aphids.

The ant’s story may be more dramatic than yours, but it’s not bigger. And don’t worry, some day you’ll play for keeps too. Some day, even in slow, suburban stories, there will come a death scene.

But why would any Christian claim that God has stopped talking? Did He speak the world into existence? Does matter exist apart from Him? Is it still here? Are you still here? Then He is still speaking?


Faith Working by Love

Calvin was therefore right to say that “no other faith justifies ‘but faith working through love’ [Gal. 5:6]. But it does not take its power to justify from that working of love.” This second sentence is more important and needs to be stressed. Turretin makes the same point in the passage cited above when he says that “[faith] alone concurs to the act of justification,” and “The coexistence of love in him who is justified is not denied; but the coefficiency or cooperation in justification is denied.” To say that faith working through love justifies does not mean for Paul, or Calvin, or Turretin, or Shepherd that works become the ground or instrument of justification. Godfrey, however, thinks that it does, because he cannot see works as functioning in any other away than as the ground or instrument of justification. For him, and contrary to Turretin, coexistence implies, even requires coefficiency. This is a basic mistake that Godfrey makes. That is hwy he cannot really agree with Calvin or Turretin, because from his perspective Calvin and Turretin are mixing a toxic cocktail of faith plus works for justification.  –Norm Shepherd, “Faith and Faithfulness” in A Faith That Is Never Alone, ed. by P. Andrew Sandlin

If you want to understand the disagreement among those claiming to uphold the Protestant understanding of faith and works, A Faith That Is Never Alone is an outstanding resource. It’s a response to Covenant, Justification and Pastoral Ministry put out by the staff of Westminster Seminary California, and although it will run you twenty-five clams, you will have a well-rounded understanding of the southwestern Reformed who are far more Lutheran in their understanding of justification than anything else, and seemingly as equally suspicious of anyone else as Luther tended to be. Sandlin’s brief preface helpfully touches on various movements in the recent past–the Lordship Salvation controversy of the 70’s and 80’s, the Law and Gospel divided sparked by Daniel P. Fuller of Fuller Seminary, the Shepherd Controversy, New Perspective on Paul and Federal Vision–and how they relate to this volume. The whole thing is very good and some of the essays simply outstanding.

Bring Them to the Table

Cornelis Venema’s last chapter Concluding Observations and Evaluation sums up his arguments and allows me an opportunity to address a few things in conclusion on the topic of paedocommunion.

Venema states rightly that any answer regarding admitting, or rather suspending, children to the Lord’s Supper must ultimately rest on the Scriptures. Historically, paedocommunion was commonly practiced in the church until the later Middle Ages when the superstition of transubstantiation forbade children from the elements and eventually all lay people from the cup. Still, this doesn’t prove the correctness of paedocommunion any more than the the restrictions of the Reformed confessions disprove it. Continue reading

Voter Intimidation Update

I posted a few days on the fear mongering and voter intimidation behind www.whosigned.org. A refreshing response came from the Seattle Times who unlike the President have “long supported full same-sex marriage”. Despite that, a recent editorial from the paper collectively condemned whosigned.org as hoping to “make signers afraid that some zealot will look up their name and address, knock on their door and confront them about why they signed.” The editorial goes on to call this move by homosexual supporters to “out” their political opponents an ironic move and “especially obnoxious in this state, where citizens are private in their politics, and register to vote without publicly declaring a political affiliation.”

Meanwhile, the Family Policy Institute of Washington and others are collecting signatures for Referendum 71. If they get 120,000 signatures before the July deadline, Senate bill SB 5688 will come to a democratic statewide vote where homosexual marriage issues are always, thus far, defeated. It seems that only when legislators act contrary to the will of the people,  as  concretely expressed by the ballot, does gay marriage move forward.

While I’m opposed to gay marriage and all the other perversions that will follow it, it must be said that the only way to have a sane view of marriage is to exult in your own. The church has understood marriage as a common ordinance, given to all people whether they thank their trinitarian creator or not. This is well and good and the government ought to protect marriage for everyone. But Christians should know that judgment begins at the household of God, and so long as husbands refuse to rejoice with the wife of their youth and cultivate homes where their kids see homosexuality for what it is–boring sameness birthed from father-hunger and other issues–we will continue to have more of the same. No legislation will change the stupor the church has fallen into. We ought at least to be thankful the honest report card.

Lady Justice Peeking Beneath Her Blindfold

Sonia Sotomayor describes herself as a product of affirmative action which means she was promoted over others not by her competence or experience, but because of her race and gender. It’s as if racism against blacks isn’t good but against Asians it is.

How is this double standard tolerated and embraced in the judicial system? Well, the article linked says it all. The exams and tests are claimed to have cultural bias. You know, written to test knowledge and training as if we lived in this here western culture. This is among the weirdest objections. Does it make any sense for a student to complain against a teacher for testing on the material covered in class as opposed to material that wasn’t covered? Isn’t it obvious that a teacher in any situation shows bias just by choosing to teach from certain curriculum, and from their perspective, background, assumptions, cultural milieu etc?

As Sotomayor’s judicial history and philosophy is vetted more of this sort of bias is becoming plain. As a justice, she admittedly peeks out the bottom of the blindfold to find out what class, race and background the person has in order to change, by way of “empathy”, the verdict. She admits this is what happened to her and she continues the favor to others.

Adultolescence

Kevin DeYoung cites Robert Wuthnow’s After the Baby Boomers reporting that in 1960, by the time they were 30 years old, 77% of women and 65% of men had completed all the major transitions into adulthood: leaving home, finishing school, financial independence, and having a child. Just 40 years later, just 46% of women and 31% of men had done the same by age 30. I’ve had a number of conversations with people who can’t believe someone could be ready for marriage in their early 20s. Wuthrow’s interest is the future of American religion. The consequences of the new “adultolescene” are far reaching. Not only does smaller post-boomer generation need to provide for the aging boomers and their increasing healthcare needs, it has to do it with less productivity. These transitions are largely those that mark the change from a consumer-student into  producer. The fact that half the men (or possibly less by now) don’t live with their mom, have wives, jobs, a kid and financial independence indicates a lot less is being produced in every way.

Falling Out of Repentance

I have a theory: Behind virtually every case of marital dissatisfaction lies unrepented sin. Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance. Sin, wrong attitudes, and personal failures that are not dealt with slowly erode the once lofty promises made in the throes of an earlier (and less polluted) passion.    –Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage