July 31, 2014

All Opinions Are Not Created Equal

Recently, while perusing The Federalist, I stumbled across a post by Tom Nichols which elicited a hearty "Amen!" from me.

I am (or at least think I am) an expert. Not on everything, but in a particular area of human knowledge, specifically social science and public policy. When I say something on those subjects, I expect that my opinion holds more weight than that of most other people. I never thought those were particularly controversial statements. As it turns out, they’re plenty controversial. . . . This subverts any real hope of a conversation, because it is simply exhausting—at least speaking from my perspective as the policy expert in most of these discussions—to have to start from the very beginning of every argument and establish the merest baseline of knowledge, and then constantly to have to negotiate the rules of logical argument. (Most people I encounter, for example, have no idea what a non-sequitur is, or when they’re using one; nor do they understand the difference between generalizations and stereotypes.) Most people are already huffy and offended before ever encountering the substance of the issue at hand.
I feel like I could have written this myself. All one has to do is replace "social science and public policy" with "theological studies." Read the rest here.

July 30, 2014

Sam Storms vs. James Hamilton on the Millennium

At his blog, Sam Storms has responded to James Hamilton's recent post on premillennialism.

Uh, maybe I’m missing something here, but how can Christ reign in an “undefiled, cleansed creation” when multitudes of sin-defiled and defiling unregenerate people populate the land? How can this kingdom be a “golden age of undefiled innocence” in the presence of so much guilt and unbelief? . . . Premillennialists cannot escape the fact that according to their end-time scenario people will continue to suffer the curse of physical death throughout the course of this 1,000 year period. . . . Bodies decay and suffer disease, die and must be buried. It is a time, therefore, when there will be sorrow over the loss of loved ones. Tears will continue to flow. Sorrow and anguish will remain so long as dying and death do. The natural creation will still be subject to the sin of mankind. . . . My reading of the NT, instead, leads me to the conclusion that when Christ returns in his Second Advent he will forever and finally put an end to physical death, wipe away all tears of sadness and sorrow from his people, judge all mankind, consign Satan to eternal suffering in the lake of fire, renew the natural order of things and inaugurate the new heavens and new earth.
Read the rest here.

Pagan Babbling

Over at The Cripplegate, Eric Davis offers eight arguments against the modern charismatic practice often erroneously identified as "speaking in tongues."

Read them here.

July 28, 2014

What Is Feminism?

Over at The Federalist, Leslie Loftus critiques feminism:
. . . one of the many versions of “feminism is the radical notion that women are people and people are equal.” . . . This is lovely sentiment, but actions speak louder than words. . . . contemporary feminism neither is nor was about simple equality. In practice, it is anti-domestic, anti-men, and frankly anti-woman.
Read the rest here.

Who Watches the Watchmen? (#2)

A. J. Delgado:
Imagine if I were to tell you there is a large group of government employees, with generous salaries and ridiculously cushy retirement pensions covered by the taxpayer, who enjoy incredible job security and are rarely held accountable even for activities that would almost certainly earn the rest of us prison time. When there is proven misconduct, these government employees are merely reassigned and are rarely dismissed. The bill for any legal settlements concerning their errors? It, too, is covered by the taxpayers. Their unions are among the strongest in the country. . . . I’m talking about the police.
Read the rest here.

HT: Steve Hays

Mark Jones Offers a Balanced Look at Balance

Now, I do not deny that there is a "middle-way" that may in reality be the truth. Nor do I deny that we should strive after truth and reject error. But we should at least acknowledge that the vast majority of people who involve themselves in theological controversy aim to be "balanced, middle-men", who carefully avoid "errors" on both sides. Theological polemicists often decide what the errors are and firmly place themselves in the "centre" as gate-keepers of orthodoxy
. . .
So if you are one of these pastors or theologians who play the balance card, remember: you are not alone. And maybe your "balance" is actually unfaithfulness or error.
Read the rest here.

July 24, 2014

I Love Tullian Tchividjian Despite the Fact That He Is Terribly Wrong on Occasion

Hays is on fire today. After tearing apart Russ Moore's naive ideas about amnesty for illegal immigrants (see previous post), he turns his attention to Tullian Tchividjian's pious-sounding but shortsighted approach to cultural engagement.

So is Tully's position that Christians should stop acting in the best interests of their children? Christians should stop protecting their children from becoming wards of the state? Christians should stop protecting babies, the elderly, and the developmentally disabled from abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia? Christians should stop defending the right of children to be raised by a real mother and father? Christians should stop warning people about the consequences of self-destructive lifestyles? Christians should stop defending their Constitutional right to preach the Gospel? Should we live to be "liked."
Read the rest here.

I Love Russell Moore Despite the Fact That He Is Terribly Wrong on Occasion (#2)

Over at Triablogue, Steve Hays critiques Russ Moore's position on amnesty.

Moore is too nearsighted to see that amnesty is the magnet creating the crisis in the first place. The policy he champions precipitates the result he deplores; he then cites the deplorable result to expand the ruinous policy. A classic vicious cycle.
Read the rest here.

Help a Brother Out

You may have noticed that the e-mail subscription feature hasn't been working for a while. Well, it's fixed now. So, former subscribers, please re-subscribe. To the rest of you, I say, "Help a brother out and subscribe." If I get thirty e-mail followers, I can get more free books. You do want me to get more free books, don't you? Don't you?!

Thanks in advance.

July 18, 2014

Does Arminianism Make the Doctrine of Regeneration Superfluous?

Arminians believe that faith precedes regeneration. According to this doctrine, fallen sinners (due to God's prevenient grace) are able to exercise saving faith (thereby becoming regenerate).

Consistent Arminians also deny the perseverance of the saints. They believe that one who is truly regenerate can lose his salvation.

It seems to me that this makes the doctrine of regeneration superfluous. Regeneration is not necessary in order to be saved. Regeneration does not guarantee that one will stay saved. What good, then, is regeneration? I think this explains why, practically speaking, many Arminians seem to deny the biblical doctrine of the new birth. In its place one often finds a kind of "decisionism" or "decisional regeneration" (i.e. the so-called sinner's prayer).

This is similar to how Arminians treat the doctrine of election. Yes, they believe in (a form of) election on paper. However, when the rubber meets the road, it's a different story. When is the last time you heard an Arminian preach on the doctrine of election (angry, anti-Calvinist rants notwithstanding)?

This is, in my estimation, one of the greatest dangers of Arminianism. In order to preserve this man-made theological system, so many biblical doctrines must be downplayed or redefined to the point where they are practically denied (e.g. substitutionary atonement, total depravity, providence). Ironically, this is the very thing that many Arminians accuse Calvinists of doing.

July 15, 2014

Yes, That's Really in the Bible

No matter how many times I read the Bible, it still manages to surprise me. I read Deuteronomy at least once a year, but, somehow, I seem to have missed this passage.

Deuteronomy 25:11-12:
When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity. (ESV)

July 14, 2014

Spurgeon's Warrior Children or Why Can't We Calvinistic Baptists All Just Get Along?

Jim Newheiser has recently posted his thoughts on the Holding Communion Together controversy (though he doesn't mention the book or any names, it's fairly obvious what he's alluding to).

I recently saw a photo, taken at a conference about forty years ago, of a large group of well-known Baptist leaders who were reformed/Calvinistic in their soteriology. It warmed my heart to see all of these dear men living in harmony together.  Accompanying the photo was the history of Calvinistic Baptists over the past four decades.  Sadly the story of our movement has been one of division and personal acrimony.  As I read each section, it was as if the authors were taking a pair of scissors to cut out a few more faces from the photograph until the few who share their perspective on the various battles were the only ones remaining.
. . . 
I also am disturbed by the fact that some have tended to view their fellow Calvinistic Baptists with whom they have differences as rivals or even enemies.  I fear that some expend so much time and energy disputing with those with whom they agree on the essentials that they have few resources left for positive ministry. Our cause is not our association or our confession. Our cause is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Amen, brother. 

You can read the rest here.

July 11, 2014

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Over at The Imaginative Conservative, Bonnie Kristian offers the following seven reasons for widespread police corruption:
  1. Many departments don't provide adequate training in nonviolent solutions.
  2. Standards for what constitutes brutality vary widely.
  3. Consequences for misconduct are minimal.
  4. Settlements are shifted to taxpayers.
  5. Minorities are unfairly targeted.
  6. Police are increasingly militarized.
  7. Police themselves say misconduct is remarkably widespread.
A Department of Justice study revealed that a whopping 84 percent of police officers report that they have seen colleagues use excessive force on civilians, and 61 percent admit they do not always report “even serious criminal violations that involve abuse of authority by fellow officers.” This self-reporting moves us well beyond anecdote into the realm of data: Police brutality is a pervasive problem, exacerbated by systemic failures to curb it. That is not to say that every officer is ill-intentioned or abusive, but it is to suggest that the common assumption that police are generally using their authority in a trustworthy manner merits serious reconsideration.
Read the rest here.

July 07, 2014

What Do We Mean When We Call God "Simple"?

Ironically, the doctrine of God's simplicity is one of the most complex in all of philosophical and systematic theology. Read all about it here:
8 Ways For God to Be Simple | Reformedish

In Defense of the Ordinary Means of Grace

Ligon Duncan:
Ordinary means of grace-based ministry is ministry that focuses on doing the things God, in the Bible, says are central to the spiritual health and growth of His people, and which aims to see the qualities and priorities of the church reflect biblical norms. Ordinary means ministry is thus radically committed to biblical direction of the priorities of ministry. Ordinary means ministry believes that God has told us the most important things, not only about the truth we are to tell, but about the way we are to live and minister — in any and every context. Hence, God has given us both the message of salvation and the means of gathering and building the church, in His Word. However, important understanding our context is, however important understanding the times may be (and these things are, in fact, very important), however important appreciating the cultural differences in the places and times we serve, the ordinary means approach to ministry is first and foremost concerned with biblical fidelity. Because faithfulness is relevance. The Gospel is the message and the local church is the plan. God has given to his church spiritual weapons for the bringing down of strongholds. These ordinary means of grace are the Word, sacraments, and prayer.
Read the rest here.

July 04, 2014

The Doctrine of Eternal Security Is Essential to Orthodoxy

Jeff Robinson:
I want to suggest that there is one crucial doctrine that is sometimes relegated to the “good men disagree” category that should sit closer to the heart of Christianity: the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Why do I say this? Is it really heresy to reject the doctrine of perseverance, a doctrine often referred to as “eternal security?” I’m not certain I am ready to call it heresy to reject perseverance of the saints and embrace the possibility of apostasy by genuine Christians, but I think it is far more dangerous to reject it than perhaps first meets the eye. . . . a rejection of perseverance renders unstable many other critical doctrines that rely on it as a solid foundation.
Read the rest here.

July 03, 2014

Greg Welty on Infant Baptism

Greg Welty:
By now it is clear that the traditional arguments for paedobaptism, including the widely accepted “Reformed argument from the covenant of grace,” are greatly mistaken. As was stated at the outset, the traditionally Reformed version of covenant theology needs to be subjected to a more careful biblical scrutiny. Paedobaptists commit a fundamental and therefore fatal hermeneutical error with respect to the historical administrations of the covenant of grace. In doing so, they overlook significant discontinuities in the meaning and function of the covenant signs, misuse key biblical texts, raise insoluble but inevitable difficulties for their practice of paedobaptism, and (at times) make a degrading and unworthy sentimentalism masquerade in the place of genuine Scriptural argument.
Read the rest here.

HT: The Confessing Baptist

July 02, 2014

Bruce Ware on God, Freedom, and Evil

. . . consider for a moment two persons, one with a serious smoking habit and the other without. Imagine the two walking together outdoors, away from the sight and smell of cigarettes. It may well be the case that in this setting there would not be anything present at that moment that would give rise in the heart of either person to a strongest inclination to smoke a cigarette. But if the two of them walked past an outdoor café where some people were smoking, just the sight and smell might elicit from the nature of the smoker a strongest inclination to light up a cigarette, whereas that same sight and smell might elicit from the nature of the nonsmoker a strongest inclination to walk quickly past the café and away from the smoke. In other words, what explains the choices each made is how their natures responded to the factors presented to them. Those factors do not cause the choices made, for notice that the factors were identical for the smoker and nonsmoker, yet the choices made by each were opposite in kind from one another. Nor would controlling the factors cause the choices made, because whether someone had “planted” smokers at that outdoor café or not would not affect the opposite choices of each in response. Rather, the causes of the respective choices were the two different natures of the respective individuals, each in response to the factors presented them, resulting in choices reflective of the natures of each person. The fact is, we act according to our natures, and what various factors in differing situations do is to elicit in each case the strongest inclination that our natures want in light of what factors are present. Perhaps we should think of God regulating the factors of a situation, then, as “occasioning” a particular choice to be made, rather than causing a particular choice to be made. Because God knows the natures of each person perfectly, he knows how those natures will respond to particular sets of factors presented to them. Thus, without causing a person to do evil, he nonetheless controls the evil they do. He controls whether evil is done, what evil is done, and in any and every case he could prevent the evil from being done. But in no case does he cause the evil to be done. In this way God maintains meticulous control over evil while his moral creatures alone are the agents who do evil, and they alone bear moral responsibility for the evil they freely do. [1]

1. Bruce Ware, "A Modified Calvinist Doctrine of God" in Perspectives on the Doctrine of God (B&H, 2008), pp. 118-119.

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