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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Readings from Paul Johnson #7

Another selection from Paul Johnson's book, Intellectuals.


Marx the Moocher

Marx's money troubles began at university and lasted his entire life. They arose from an essentially childish attitude. Marx borrowed money heedlessly, spent it, then was invariably astounded and angry when the heavily discounted bills, plus interest, became due. He saw the charging of interest, essential as it is to any system based on capital, as a crime against humanity, and at the root of the exploitation of man by man which his entire system was designed to eliminate.
That was in general terms. But in the particular context of his own case he responded to his difficulties by himself exploiting anyone within reach, and in the first place his own family.

Money dominates his family correspondence. The last letter from his father, written February 1838 when he was already dying, reiterates his complaint that Marx was indifferent to his family except for the purpose of getting their help and complains: 'You are now in the fourth month of your law course and you have already spent 280 thalers. I have not earned so much throughout the entire winter.' Three months later he was dead. Marx did not trouble himself to attend his funeral. Instead he started putting pressure on his mother.

He had already adopted a pattern of living off loans from his friends and gouging periodic sums from the family. He argued that the family was 'quite rich' and had a duty to support him in his important work. Apart from his intermittent journalism, the purpose of which was political rather than to earn money, Marx never seriously attempted to get a job, though he once in London applied for a post as a railway clerk, being turned down on the grounds that his handwriting was too poor. Marx's unwillingness to pursue a career seems to have been the main reason why his family was unsympathetic to his pleas for handouts. ... Jenny's family, like Marx's own, refused further help to a son-in-law they regarded as incorrigibly idle and improvident. In March 1851, writing to Engels to announce the birth of a daughter, Marx complained: 'I have literally not a farthing in the house.'

By this time, of course, Engels was the new subject of exploitation. From the mid-1840s, when they first came together, until Marx's death, Engels was the main source of income for the Marx family. He probably handed over more than half of what he received himself. But the total is impossible to compute because for a quarter of a century he provided it in irregular sums, believing Marx's repeated assurances that, provided the next donation was forthcoming, he would soon put himself to rights. ... The partnership almost broke down in 1863 when Engels felt Marx's insensitive cadging had gone too far. Engels kept two houses in Manchester, one for business entertaining, one for his mistress, Mary Burns. When she died Engels was deeply distressed. He was furious to receive from Marx an unfeeling letter, which briefly acknowledged his loss and then instantly got down to the more important business of asking for money.
[Intellectuals, 73, 74, 75]

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Personal Reflections on Calvinism in the SBC

A Hip and Thigh Classic

The latest attempts by some in the SBC to accuse Calvinists of being borderline heretical (See discussions here, here, and here) reminded me of a post I wrote around two years ago addressing my take on the struggle happening in the SBC between those who still wish to cling to the current traditional Southern Baptist status quo, and those who long to see the denomination revived and defined along biblical lines. I thought I would re-post it, though slightly modified and edited from its original form, so as to offer my 2 cents.

God was pleased to save me the last week of my college freshman year at a large Southern Baptist Church. That SBC congregation was my home church all through my college years until I graduated and moved to L.A. to attend seminary.

During the late 80's as I was adjusting to my new found church home, I quickly learned there was a great rift among the membership throughout the SBC. The division was caused by a vocal minority who did not like the idea of affirming the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible. I wasn't too keen on SBC politics (I am still not too keen on SBC politics), but God be thanked I was directed to a church in the inerrancy camp.

On my college campus of Arkansas State, the largest religious organization was the Baptist Student Union of which I was a regular participant my first year. The BSU is a campus organization where "like minded" Southern Baptist students can come and find fellowship on an other wise Baptist unfriendly college campus. At my BSU, the students attended two main churches: my church, and what a lot of folks considered to be the non-inerrancy, liberal church. The members at that church of course used the term "moderate" to define their views.

The bulk of the kids who frequented the BSU attended the "moderate" church. The year I walked into the BSU, this church had just opened a brand new Family Center (a big gym), complete with roller skates, pool tables, video games, and the other trappings necessary to pull in a large crowd of students. In a manner of speaking, it was one of the early versions of the seeker-friendly churches. All the BSU people would talk about how wonderful it was to visit because of all the great fun they would have in the Family Center. We didn't have a family center at my church; we bored ourselves to death reading the Bible and listening to preaching.

I began to realize after a year of participating in BSU oriented activities, Bible studies, and leadership training times, that my church was held in contempt with the majority of the folks who attended the "moderate" church. We were called the "Bible thumping" church, we were said to be "worshipping the Bible," and we were stodgy old boring legalists. (There may be a little truth to the legalist claim, but I digress). On the other hand, we at my church viewed our "moderate" critics as being loose morally, lacking any true biblical discernment, soft on sin, and only fun and games; no sober spirituality. Where as we were the Bible thumpers, they were the Bible deniers.

Well, shortly after my graduation from college, the non-inerrancy, liberal minority in the SBC denomination split off to form their own denomination so as to wallow in their intellectual progressivism, abort babies, and ordain all the women pastors the could with reckless abandon. For a brief time the split was a major news event. Rarely do we see a massive split in the largest protestant denomination in America. Thankfully, from the conservative side, it appeared as though God was purifying His people by purging out the dross, so to speak.

Now, some 20 years or so later, I believe the SBC is on the path to another major split. This time however, it will not be over the issue of the inerrancy and the infallibility of scripture, but the authority and sufficiency of scripture.

All the while the battle was raging over the inerrancy of the Bible between liberal and conservative Southern Baptists, the Founder's movement was quietly in the background of the denomination laying down roots among supporters. The Founders are a group of SBC folks who desire to return the denomination back to the historic Baptist principles on which it was founded. The most notable principle is that of Calvinism, or what is called the Doctrines of Grace. While the SBC was fighting over the issue of the Bible, the Founder's were pretty much unknown. They were small and grassroots.

When I was still in college attending my Southern Baptist church, I never heard of them. I, however, was exposed to Calvinism through my college pastor who loaned me his copy of Boettner's The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. I already had a high view of scripture and God's character, and that book, along with the writings of A.W. Pink, and my deep love for exegetical and theological preaching, brought me to the place where I affirmed the doctrines Calvinism as being clearly biblical. It was not until years later that I heard of the Founders and their love for Calvinism. By that time the liberals had moved on and the SBC was considered rescued from heresy, but the Founders, on the other hand, had moved from being relatively unknown to becoming an annoyance for the overall denomination.

Why is that?

Because most SBC pastors and evangelists have a disdain for Calvinism. I think there are a couple of reasons for this attitude. For starters, the sad reality is that a lot of pastors are not into doing serious exegesis or doctrinal preaching from their pulpits and instead preach shallow sermons. I realize I can be accused of speaking in generalities at this point, but to be honest it has been my observation that such an accusation is true. Additionally, the traditional SBC mindset focuses upon gathering large numbers of people with either making a "decision" for Christ at an evangelistic crusade, or increasing the membership of local churches. A theology like Calvinism which de-emphasizes the importance of numbers and instead looks to the importance of theological and exegetical preaching that leaves any results to God cuts against any "revival" ministry dependent upon large numbers of people walking aisles, signing prayer cards, and being baptized - and giving money.

Calvinism has the tendency to meddle with man's will and his decision making process. If a person's salvation is dependent upon an act of God's grace, rather than manipulative emotional pleas from a preacher, that seems to take away from man's ability to choose at the crisis moment at the end of a service when the organ is playing "Just as I am." In a nutshell, Calvinism is wrongly perceived as being anti-evangelism.

As Calvinism has grown in popularity over the past decade or more among the young 20-30 somethings under the influence of such pastors and theologians like James White, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, and R.C. Sproul, dislike for the Founders movement has also increased among the SBC leadership. Celebrity preachers like the late Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines have had a few choice words against Calvinism. Ergun Caner of Liberty University has become a staunch anti-Calvinist practically saying the Founders are introducing heresy, and the recent speakers at the SBC sponsored John 3:16 Conference have irresponsibly accused Calvinism as being heretical and adherence of Calvinism as anti-evangelistic.

These sort of fool hearty criticisms are not going away and in my mind only appear to becoming worse. I can actually envision a day when the supporters of the Founders will either have to leave on their own, or be asked to leave the SBC denomination unless some unforeseen move of God takes place. Until such a miracle happens I believe there are five important areas where traditional Southern Baptists and the proponents of the Founders will disagree:

1). Invitational regeneration - The SBC methodology where a person just walks the aisle at the request of a preacher, shakes his hand, and is declared forever saved even though the person has no true conversion and continues to live like a devil when he goes home after Church has ended, cannot co-exist with the efficacious grace of Calvinism working apart from walking an aisle that transforms a God hating sinner into a Christ honoring saint.

2). Quick prayer soul winning - When an "evangelist" merely gets folks to repeat a prayer but does not care for their spiritual growth. This artificial approach to evangelism cannot co-exist with evangelistic discipleship that instills in the convert rich theology and a love for God's Word.

3). Shallow sermonics and pulpit theatrics - I could write an entire series of posts discussing the tragic decline of the Christian pulpit over the years, but preachers jumping from a text in the NT one week, to a text in the OT the next week, and who seek to entertain the audience every Sunday is not friendly with expository preaching where a pastor is required to build his sermon upon the accurate handling of a text from the Bible.

4). Sunday School classes driven by quarterlies - I never cared for quarterlies when I was in Sunday school where a class races through the entire Bible in 3 years. Worst still is having to be subjected to the flash in the pan popular Christian book of the moment. These thing are no competition to the strong teaching in Historical and biblical theology and solid, real life apologetics.

5). The lack of church discipline - Churches where a member is publicly known to be involved in some scandalous sin by everyone else in the congregation, yet is never confronted by anyone in leadership and is left alone to sit in the back and tolerated, is not the same as a congregation where members are held accountable by the other members and the leadership will confront any member involved in grievous sin even to the point of disciplining the person from the Church if he or she remains unrepentant.

These are obviously some sharp distinctions to two approaches of the ministry. I for one do appreciate how many pastors and other supporters of the Founders are genuinely seeking the spiritual well being of the SBC denomination in these areas which truly do matter.

Yet, I do not think the Founders are not above constructive criticism in the way they present themselves to the overall denomination. If the Founders do remain with in the operations of the SBC and never seek to separate by their choice, let me offer a couple of suggestions to help them be more palatable to the non-Founder SBC person:

Recognize that not everyone likes full blown Covenant Theology. I know for myself, I am not fully convinced of all the presuppositions of CT like a universal covenant of grace and so forth. I do see the Bible clearly teaching some aspects of dispensationalism, at least a measure of discontinuity between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. I imagine a lot of SBC members are totally ignorant of CT. If they have been taught anything, it is more than likely Americanized dispensationalism. Don't force them to become Covenant Theology supporters in order to embrace the vision of the Founders.

Realize that not everyone cares for amillennialism. I know for myself, I am a happily assured premillennialist who believes in a future restoration of Israel and I for one do not think I need to abandon premillennialism in order to support the objectives of the Founders. Certainly the leaders of the Founders would tell me I don't have to, but I have encountered way too many individual supporters who suggest that if I maintain any form of dispensational leanings and remain a premillennialist, I might as well be falling under the science fiction theology of Tim Lahaye.

I think if the Founders keep these in mind, and I am sure they are probably aware of these issues, a long with individual supporters conducting themselves with grace and humility, perhaps God will spare the SBC another major split. Perhaps, in His sovereignty, their will be true, Reformational revival.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

... like sacks of wet cement!


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Greatest Conspiracy Theories

The London Telegraph runs down the biggest conspiracies ever.

The 30 Greatest Conspiracy Theories

Why this is news worthy I don't know. I am guessing they needed the filler for the web edition.

A lot of them are the classics, but number 29 caught my attention,

29. Global warming is a hoax

Some climate change doubters believe that man-made global warming is a conspiracy designed to soften up the world's population to higher taxation, controls on lifestyle and more authoritarian government. These sceptics [sic] cite a fall in global temperatures since last year and a levelling [sic] off in the rise in temperature since 1998 as evidence.

Do you see the Orwellian new speak being employed here? The sick, upside down, inverted perspective on reality that is being passed off by the writer, H.E. Hunt, as truth? Who ever this person is assumes man-made global warming is undeniably true and anyone - like myself - who says it is manipulated junk science merely enabling the philosophical agenda of communist environmentalists lives in a conspiratorial world. Man-made global warming is as truthful as the fact NASA landed on the moon and terrorist hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

How Global Warming Junk Science is Messing with My Life

A Rant

My hide is officially chafed.

I am asthmatic, so I have a prescription for an inhaler. This past week I needed to have it refilled. I called it in to the automated telephone service and the next day I stop by the pharmacy to pick it up.

Now, my insurance co-pay for an asthma inhaler is 10 dollars. I took a twenty dollar bill with me to pay for it expecting 10 dollars in change. I stand in line, I am called to the counter, I give my name to the clerk. He goes and retrieves my inhaler from the back shelf. He then affixes the little sticker for me to sign in the signature book and I sign my name. He then scans the price tag and says,

"That will be 25 dollars."

I was momentarily confused just for a second. I wondered if I had called in the wrong prescription or if he had picked up the wrong "BUTLER" from the shelf. I asked,

"Shouldn't that be 10 dollars? It's just an asthma inhaler."

He then replies,

"We can no longer sell the previous medication because the gas used to dispense the medication does not meet the environmental greenhouse gas emission standards."

What is truly amazing is how he said it with such a straight, matter-of-fact face as if such an ridiculous assertion was true.

As what he told me began to sink in, I became agitated and that swiftly turned to seething indignation. Now, I rarely, if ever, get upset in public to where I "make a scene" if you know what I mean. Especially becoming pugnacious. I think the last time was in 7th grade where I had taken all the sass mouth bullying I could from Tom Brown and punched him repeatedly in the face.

I replied to the clerk in my controlled gentle voice and a smile on my face, "Excuse me? Are you kidding?"

"Nope," said the clerk, "The laws went into play just a while ago."

This is where my gentle voice became increasingly tense and punctuated with loud emphasis and the pointing and waving of my finger, so that by-standers thought they were on the verge of witnessing a public meltdown that would involve alerting law enforcement. I say,

"You mean to tell me that a gas that I INHALE INTO MY LUNGS and DOESN'T EVEN GET RELEASED INTO THE ATMOSPHERE is now against the law ALL BECAUSE OF THIS ABSURD GLOBAL WARMING JUNK SCIENCE?!!!"

The clerk, clearly now in agreement with my concern for the breakdown of our society at the hands of lunatic pseudo-scientific cranks, says,

"I know man, it's crazy isn't it? It's stupid." (My wife later told me he was probably told to say that by his manager to prevent any fights from breaking out).

I turned to face the other customers in line, maybe 5 or so, and loudly proclaimed, "This is why I hate leftist values and it will only get worse."

I would imagine that cryptic comment was lost on them anyways, but do they not understand how a basic health care item just increased in cost 150 percent? That is a significant increase just to stroke the consciences of the nanny state enviro-wackos who sincerely believe people are contributing to global warming by breathing in to their bodies a gas allegedly bad for the planet. Do we not see the absurdity of this farcical policy? Poorer people will now have higher costs to their medical care because of some fraudulent environmental impact beliefs.

Even more stunning will be the people who will genuinely argue something along the lines as, "Well, if everyone had health coverage then they would not have to worry about the personal costs."

NO, NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES, NO!

This is the clearest example of why we need a separation of leftism and state.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's Not a Tumah

Straight from House, MD.

So this lady experiences headaches and goes to the doctor to get it checked out, only to be diagnosed with a brain tumor. The family grieves, an emergency surgery is scheduled, and when the surgeons get into her head to remove the tumor they discovered,

A LIVING WORM!!!!

Duhn, Duhn, Duhn.....

As icky as a worm boring into your brain like an apple can be, at least she should be happy that she doesn't have cancer.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Dr. Phil in the House

Phil Johnson of TeamPyro fame (and my boss .... though he isn't really bossy), was on Todd Friel's Way of the Master radio - soon to be retitled Wretched Radio as of Dec. 1st - for two hours answering questions. Extremely entertaining and worth the listen.

Listen on-line or download to the player.

Hour 1

Hour 2

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Addendum to Israel and the Land

In the meta under my last post addressing Sam Waldron's study of Romans 9:6, a discussion popped up on the fulfillment of the land promises to Israel. Many amillers (and some postmillers) understand those promises as having been fulfilled. One commenter noted Joshua 21:43-45 which reads (in the NKJV),

43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. 44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

I would simply note that the key discussion in Romans 9-11, chapter 11 specifically, is Israel's restoration, not total fulfillment of the initial promise. Of course the first objection one would make is that Paul no where mentions the land in Romans 11. I simply argue that there is plenty of OT prophecy connecting the restoration of Israel to the permanent indwelling of the land that a Bible student knows when Paul speaks of a remnant begin restored, the land is certainly in view as well. Besides, Paul's main point in Romans 9-11 is to explain why the Jews are in unbelief, not discuss the land.

Some of those OT prophecies concern Israel and the land are Isaiah 11:12-16, Jeremiah 31:31-37, Amos 9:13-15 (take specific note of vs. 15 where the prophet states, I will plant them in their land and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them), and Zechariah 10:6-12, 14:10, 11.

Matt Waymeyer, who maintains the Expository Thoughts blog, was kind enough to send along to me some articles he had written which helps to supplement this discussion:


More on the Land Promises


The Salvation of Israel in Romans (from the Shepherd's Fellowship blog. The comment debate in the meta is worth the read, too)

He did not list it among his links, but I would also add Matt's article published in The Master's Seminary Journal,

The Dual Status of Israel in Romans 11:28

I would further add Robert Dean's article critiquing O Palmer Robertson's popular Reformed approach to Romans 11,

A Critique of O Palmer Robertson's Interpretation of Romans 11

And lastly, Michael Vlach's brief article on Acts 1:6,7.

Does Acts 1:6-7 Teach a Restoration of the Nation Israel?


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Monday, November 17, 2008

MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto - Rejoinder #4

... for they are not all Israel who are of Israel

Continuing with another rejoinder to Sam Waldron's book,
MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response


Sam's book is his critique of John MacArthur's 2007 Shepherd's Conference message, Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Premillennialist. In his message, John made the case that when the NT writers employed the term Israel, they meant the Jewish people as a distinct, ethnic group apart from the NT church. Never did the NT writers use the term Israel interchangeably with the term "church," so that the NT church is now identified as a "New Israel" that has fulfilled the OT promises of a restored Israel.

Sam spends a good portion of his written rebuttal explaining why John is mistaken about his view on Israel. Rather than understanding the word Israel strictly as a description of a literal, ethnic group distinct from the church, Sam believes there is ample biblical evidence to believe the word Israel, in specific contexts, yields a spiritual interpretation that clearly indicates a description of the NT church as a "new Israel."

Two specific NT passages Sam believes justifies his re-definition of the term Israel are Galatians 6:16 and Romans 9:6. I interacted with Galatians 6:16 in my last rejoinder, I will deal with Romans 9:6 with this one.

Romans 9:6 states, But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect, For they are not all Israel who are of Israel.

Sam takes Paul's use of Israel here to mean Christ believing Jews who are truly Jews by faith. By implication, that means those Christ believing gentiles are, by their faith, also true Jews and thus the true Israel.

Now, before offering my remarks in response to Sam's arguments, it may be helpful to have a brief summary of these three chapters. One of the better outlines is Harold Hoehner's chapter, Israel in Romans 9-11, found in the book Israel: The Land and The People, p. 145-168.

Paul's argument in Romans 9-11 is important to grasp. Hoehner writes,

Up to this point, Paul has argued cogently that one has a right standing before God by simply trusting God's work in Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. As God's covenant nation, why has Israel rejected God's messiah ... while many gentiles accepted this messiah ... ? [Israel: The Land and the People, p. 146]

These three chapters explain this dilemma. Romans 9:1-29 considers the reason for Israel's rejection of Christ. That is due to God's electing purposes. In Romans 9:30-10:21, Paul explains why Israel is still culpable for their rejection of Christ. And then finally, in Romans 11:1-32, Paul explains why Israel's rejection is not complete nor final and points out that their rejection is in God's purposes for the salvation of the gentiles, but they will be saved when the fullness of the gentiles comes in.

Coming back to Sam's rebuttal.

When John gave his message he stated that in scripture all the references to Israel do not mean anything else but ethnic Israel. The term is never used as another way of describing the NT church. He then mentions Galatians 6:16 and Romans 9:6 as the two passages amillennialists like Sam appeal to in order to try and convince us that the word "Israel" can be re-interpreted to identify the NT church. Sam is obviously of the persuasion that the term Israel in Romans 9:6 is spiritual code word for the NT church comprised of both believing Jews and gentiles. He argues his conviction along four points: the immediate context, the near context, the further context in Romans, and the wider context in the NT.

Under his first point, the immediate context, Sam concludes after considering Romans 9:1-8, 11-13, that God's children are not merely born of the flesh, an ethnic identification by birth, but are born of the spirit, a spiritual identification by faith. That is because, as Paul notes, not all of Abraham's children were his seed. Hence, gentiles being born of the spirit are by implication included in God's Israel.

With the near context, Sam points out how in Romans 9:23-26, Paul quotes from Hosea in which the OT prophet proclaimed there will one day be a people who were never called God's people who will be called His people. Paul's application of this prophecy is obviously toward the gentiles who are now, on account of their faith in Christ, considered God's people. Sam objects to the idea that there are two peoples of God: a Jewish people of God and a gentile people of God. There has only been one people of God and in the OT that "people" were called Israel.

Sam then argues for the further context in Romans 2:25-29 where Paul had earlier explained how there was no one, neither Jews nor gentiles, who could do anything to earn righteousness with God. Paul writes that it does not matter if a person is circumcised, a Jew outwardly as it were. What matters is the conformity to the law of God. Hence, those who obey the law whether circumcised or uncircumcised are truly Jews and that would include gentiles.

Then finally, Sam expands his argument out to entail the wider context of the NT and cites Galatians 4:26-29 which reads similarly to Romans 9:7 where Paul speaks of Abraham's true children by faith. He then boldly proclaims how John's view of Israel is explicitly refuted because Paul's use of the title "children of promise" include both Jews and gentiles.

With that summary in mind, let me back up and offer a response to his argumentation.

First off, I believe it is rather plain that Sam is interpreting Romans 9:6 with a set of theological presuppositions already in place. As much as Sam mentions exegesis in his study, I don't really see genuine exegesis taking place here. What I see is a Reformed Baptist who adheres to covenant theology reading his theology into the text. Sam may think his four main points of the immediate context, near context, wider context, etc. is exegesis, but it truly isn't.

What has to be established by Sam, or anyone who may hold to his particular view of Israel and the church, is whether or not there is exegetical and grammatical warrant to conclude Paul's use of Israel in Romans 9:6 is to be understood as being synonymous with the NT church. The question under scrutiny is whether or not the grammatical and exegetical data exists which provides the necessary information for the reader of Romans 9-11 to believe Paul is using OT Israel interchangeably with the NT church. I personally don't believe an honest reader of the text could confidently conclude what Sam does about Roman 9:6, 7.

With that in mind, then, are Sam's four observations exegetically sustainable?

He first appeals to the immediate context of Romans 9:1-13 where Paul argues that not all of Abraham's descendants received the promises given to him by God to make Abraham and his progeny a great nation. In other words, he had physical offspring who did not participate in the covenant God initiated with Abraham in Genesis 15. Paul names two examples, Ishmael, who was Abraham's son by Hagar, and Esau, who was Abraham's grandson by Isaac, who did not receive the covenant promise God made with Abraham to make his name great on the earth. This is because of God's electing grace in sovereignly choosing whom He will bless.

The reader will note that nothing Paul writes even suggests we can re-interpret the word Israel to now mean the NT church. Interestingly, Sam even concedes this point, yet attempts to defend his position in light of no evidence. He writes,

It must, therefore, be acknowledged that it is not Paul's main point here to prove that Gentiles are now included in God's Israel. ... Paul's main point is not that Gentile Christians are part of God's Israel, but rather that there is a remnant among ethnic Israelites in which God's promise is fulfilled. Yet, this is not quite the same as proving that the inclusion of Gentile Christians in God's Israel is not implied. Even though something may not be the main point of a given statement, it may still be implied. [MMM, p. 51 (emphasis his)]

The word implied in that last sentence causes me to think "reading into the text." Sam claims his implication is justified because the concept of God's electing grace of Isaac and Jacob at least opens up the idea that gentiles elected by grace are included in the Israel of God, and the mighty promises of God brings forth the true seed of Abraham by a new birth. Though it certainly is true God's election and supernatural grace begets salvation with a remnant of Israel and the gentiles, it is quite a stretch to now say we can re-read the word Israel as being equated with the NT church.

Sam then moves to the near context of Romans 9:23-26 where Paul quotes Hosea the prophet who proclaimed how God will one day call those people who were not His people "my people." The prophecy speaks of the gentiles who will be brought to salvation and into a relationship with God. Sam concludes Hosea's prophecy strongly suggests that because gentiles are now said to be the people of God, this title is another way of saying the Israel of God [MMM, 53].

He disparages John's view as fallacious. That view being, Paul is simply saying on account of Christ's work, the gentiles share in the blessings of the covenant with Israel without becoming a part of Israel. The problem with Sam's dogmatic pronouncement against John's "dispensationalism" as being fallacious is that he doesn't really explain why John is wrong for holding the position he does. He just declares John is wrong for allegedly thinking there is a gentile people of God and an Jewish people of God, and that John's view divides God's people into camps. Again, I see his take on Paul's use of Hosea's prophecy as reading his theology into the text, for nothing in Hosea's prophecy or Paul's citation of it suggests I can redefine the term Israel in 9:6 as being the "new Israel," the NT church.

With his last two points, the further context in Romans and the wider context of the NT, Sam draws us to Romans 2:25-29 and Galatians 4:26-29. In these two passages, Paul argues similarly as he did in Romans 9:6,7. In Romans 2:25-29 he speaks of true Jews who have been more than just physically circumcised, but circumcised in heart, implying that a true Jew is one who is one inwardly, rather than just physically. This of course means if a gentile is circumcised of heart this makes him a true Jew also. With Galatians 4:26-29, Sam notes how Paul describes the Galatian Christians as being like Isaac, children of promise. This means they are, as gentiles, part of the true Israel born according to spirit. He proclaims these two passages serve to strengthen his assertion that Israel in Romans 9:6 can be used to describe the church.

In response, let me just mention the highly unusual appeal to passages way outside the context of the passage under discussion. When arguing for other important doctrines, like the doctrines of Grace, Reformed Baptists like Sam tend to jump on their opponents when they run from the plain teaching of a particular text and go to a verse or two outside the context of the passage being debated, perhaps in a far away, non-related epistle, so they can find support for their particular interpretation of that original passage. I sort of see Sam doing this here.

But be that as it may, I don't think anyone is disputing Paul's use of OT titles to describe the gentiles relationship with God by the work of Christ. Moreover, all would certainly agree Jews and gentiles are unified together in one body we call the church. However, it is a bit over reaching to claim Paul's usage of these descriptions are meant to erase all the distinctions that distinguish the uniqueness of God's people. There is a salvific, spiritual unity all of God's people, both male and female, masters and slaves, and Jews and gentiles share; yet at the same time men are still men, women are women, masters are masters, slaves are slaves, and I would say Jews are still Jews and gentiles, gentiles. A person's ethnicity no more supplies a salvific advantage as his or her sex or station in life. But, there is still a diversity in the unity of God's people as one body of Christ, and this is something Sam seems to want to over look.

As much as Sam want to think he has offered a solid refutation of John's initial assertion that no where in the NT do the writers of scripture mean anything other than Israel when they speak of Israel, I am unimpressed and remain unconvinced of his view. Nothing he has offered is compelling for the defense of his position, and in point of fact, what has been presented presupposes a lot of theological baggage a person has to bring to the book of Romans in order to agree with him.

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Fire in the Hills

Saturday we awoke to the sight of smoke billowing up over the mountains south of our place. We learned as the morning moved along that a wildfire had started on the other side of the mountain in Sylmar and that it had destroyed 800 homes in a high end mobile home park.

The fire was fueled by the Santa Ana winds that when funneled through the valleys of these hills can gust up to nearly 75 miles an hour. The mobile home park sat close to the mountains, so the high winds stirred up what is now thought to be an arson fire into a major fire storm. We know of one couple in our church who lived in the park and lost everything they owned.

The picture below was taken Sunday afternoon. The fire had burned over the mountain onto our side. Here the fire looks to be some what under control.














But by the time my boys and I walked back to our place, we turned around and saw black thick smoke. Within a matter of minutes, the wind had picked up and whipped the fire up.















We had a fire last year that I mention here and here. It burned houses and lots of brush on the hills, but it was not nearly as devastating in property damage as this one.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

wuh,wuh,wuh,periodorga



I swear I have a conversation like this at least once a week.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

The First Church of Starbucks

Glancing over the main website of the church who made this video, I would venture a guess they are emergent leaning. At least they come across as wanting to be relevant in the culture, while bagging on the typical methods most evangelical churches employ to be "relevant" in the culture. It's sort of an ironic conundrum.

Any how, we have a plethora of these types of churches in my community that all have trendy, non-church names, like "The Sanctuary" or "Northpoint" or "Living Waters." Usually, you can tell which ones are the charismatic churches with names like "Living Waters" and "The Spirit." For a while there was a charismatic seeker church with the name (I kid you not) "The New Wine Church." Someone there must had come to his or her senses and realized such a name for a church sends the wrong message if you know what I mean. I think they are now just named after the road they are on.


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Monday, November 10, 2008

Bob "Hellboy" Larson

I wrote on a previous occasion about Bob Larson's annoyance with my pastor who had, during a joint TV interview with Bob, basically called his views on demons and possession kooky.

Just when we thought Bob Larson had done all he could to embarrass the Christian faith he takes it up a notch and surprises us once again.

From Hip and Thigh reader Roger,

Exorcist to star in reality show

Bob takes "putting on the full armor of God to the next level." A Sci-Fi channel original production, Bob has a television show going in which he hunts down demons in a Constantine like fashion and battles them in spectacular displays of spiritual warfare.

Maybe he will employ some really cool weapons, like a cross gun.

Or maybe a holy water super soaker.

I haven't seen any of the episodes yet, but I am sort of hoping for a "seven sons of Sceva moment" on behalf of Bob when he comes across some foul spirit with an ill temper who puts a whomping on him and Bob has to flee from the house naked. And the entire moment of course is all captured on tape.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Vintage Mac

Going into the weekend, let us forget about politics and consider the transcendent.

As I noted on a couple of previous posts, the entire John MacArthur sermon catalog is available for free download in MP3 format.

Go to www.gty.org for details.

But, I thought in order to get things started for folks, I would share my favorite MacArthur sermons for your consideration.

Empty Words, Matthew 7:21-23

This is the first Mac sermon I ever listened to after I was introduced to his preaching and I was blown away with conviction. He has preached the material on a few other occasions, but the original from the Matthew series is the best.

True Marks of Saving Faith.

This was originally from John's series on Romans. I remember it being titled "How Christ Died for God, part 2," which was an exposition of Romans 3:27-28. After going through the exegesis of Romans 3, John digresses onto what true marks of salvation look like. The material was so good that a separate tape was produced that just included the marks of salvation. In order to get the full message, you have to down load Part One, and then Part Two.

Facing the Modern Deceivers, 2 Peter 1:1-2.

This message by John was the first time I personally heard sound, logical criticism of the health-and-wealth gospel and its promoters. Awesome stuff.

Issues of the Heart.

I am not sure where this was recorded. It wasn't Grace Church, because there is a loud man shouting "Amen" numerous times and that just doesn't happen that often, if at all, at Grace. None the less, this is one of John's best messages ever on his concerns about the church.

Lessons to Learn from the Fall of Jimmy Swaggart

Pretty much speaks for its self.

The Los Angeles Riots: A Biblical Perspective

The things John addresses in this message are even still timely for our day, some 16 years or so later.

How to Know the Will of God

There are a few presentations of this message available, but I believe the first one is probably the better of them all. John's classic take on knowing and doing God's will for your life.

Making the Hard Decisions Easy

I originally heard this under the title, "The Ease of Decision Making." Ten specific points to help Christians make basic, common sense decisions from a biblical perspective.

Jesus' Passion for the Lost

A great message on evangelism.

The Deadly Dangers of Moralism

This message is rather timely for the moment. Explains why moralism in America does not lead to genuine godliness.

Can God Bless America?

Along the same lines as the previous message.

Slaves of Christ

One of the most devastating messages against a "no lordship" view of salvation I have ever heard.

The Preacher's Authority, Titus 2:15

The Theology of Creation

Preached this summer at an apologetic conference.

The I.F.C.A. Meeting Q and A.

Back near the end of the 80s, John's preaching and teaching was perceived as being a threat to the I.F.C.A., an organization of independent, fundamental churches in America. He was asked to come to a conference, if I am recalling correct, in Philadelphia, to answer the charges some had brought against his views of Lordship, the Blood of Christ, sanctification, and at the time, the incarnational sonship view of Christ (John has since changed his position on that subject). The public Q&A is one of John's shining moments in my opinion, as he silences critics one by one.

Part 1 and Part 2

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Biblical Thoughts on the Election Aftermath

James White offers up an apologetic, biblical perspective that places the Obama win into the context of eternal things.

It's worth the 18 minutes of your time to watch.


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Crichton has died

While the Republicans meditate after their defeat, one bit of sad news, at least for me who enjoyed his books.

Novelist Michael Crichton died of cancer

I am not a big novel reader, but Crichton's stuff was interesting and engaging. A couple of my favorites have been Time Line and Jurassic Park.

Within the last 10 years he became a rather vocal opponent against the global warming mythos. His novel State of Fear explored the concept of environmental terrorists creating climate disasters to drive home the global warming fear. One of his more brilliant lectures on the subject of global warming and how politics and junk science have come together to fleece the American people is,

Aliens Cause Global Warming.

It is worth a read if you haven't already.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

To all my readers in the U.K. and all of its territories and colonies, just a word to enjoy your Guy Fawkes Day.

Be careful burning your effigies tonight.

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Grace to You Announcement

Change you can truly believe in...

As we contemplate the significant worldview changes taking place after the election, just a reminder as to some sources that will help.

As of today,






All of John MacArthur's sermons will be free of charge for the downloading in MP3 format.

Go to www.gty.org for more details

Here's the Direct Link

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Fred's Cali-e-ah-forn-yah Voter Guide 2008

I plan to keep this on the top of the page for 24 hours or so because of the timeliness of the material. Again, my apologies to you non-Yankee readers.

A friend asked me about putting together a voting guide. Not that I am the epitome of political analysis or anything, but I thought, "Sure, why not?" I mean, this is like one of the most worldview shaking elections I think I have ever experienced in all of my 15 plus years of being somewhat politically aware. In a way, it is no understatement to say the fate of western society hangs in the balance.

I realize this post may be of absolutely no relevance to those readers living outside the state of Cali-e-ah-forn-yah, as our governor says. This certainly is an irrelevant post for people like Neil who lives in Canada, eh. So I apologize in advance if you are living in, like Perth, Australia. Neil, you are free to leave one ridiculing comment.

So, with those opening remarks, grab your voter guide:

President and Vice President: John McCain and Sarah Palin. Of course, I live in one of the most leftist states in the union, so Obama already has this place tied up, so my vote is worthless. I might as well have some fun, though, and vote for a candidate representing one of those loosertarian third parties. Maybe I will punch my ticket for Cynthia McKinney or perhaps Bob Barr.

These next ones are only relevant for those in my immediate region of the state, so if you live in San Diego, then your on your own:

U.S. Representative, 25th District: Howard P. "Buck" McKeon. Not only is he a Republican, but he has a nick name.

State Senator, 17th District: George Runner

Member of the State Assembly: Cameron Smyth
Smyth's opponent appears to be one of those mannish looking, warmed over hippy women who likes to give finger wagging lectures as to how I am messing up the environment and how insensitive I am to "gays." All of her 4 supporters waving signs out on the street corner on Sunday afternoon also have this look to them. They make me want to vote even more for pretty boy Smyth.

Now the next section is the judicial section. The judges are often difficult to figure out; yet, picking a judge is probably one of the more important picks a person will make, because their opinions from the bench could have significant impact on the community. However, the judges are probably the most neglected choice a voter will make. That is because information about the persons running for judge is usually hard to come by so if anyone really wants to make an informed choice in voting for a judge candidate, he or she has to go digging around, and even if you make the effort to dig around, there may not be any defining information to help make a good selection.

I consulted two separate conservative voter guides and even they disagreed with each other.

The only ones the did agree upon were, Hilleri Grossman Merritt, office 72; Michael J. O'Gara, office 94; and Michael V Jesic of office 154. The other two offices, offices 82 and 84 were split. I am taking it that either one running would do an okay job.

Now we come down to the biggies.

State Measures

1A, SAFE, RELIABLE HIGH-SPEED PASSENGER TRAIN BOND ACT: NO
The explanation of this measure sounds all great. Building a network of high-speed trains that free up our already clogged freeways. I happen to like public transportation. Even more so now that I have been riding on my community's bus system the last few months. But, I am voting no because the state of California has a notorious track record of claiming to delegate bond funds to these kinds of needed projects, but the money gets funneled to some other unneeded project like bailing out the incompetent decisions the Demos made in Sacramento.


2, STANDARDS FOR CONFINING FARM ANIMALS: NO
I know this is suppose to help all the fuzzy animals, but I am dubious of PETA leaning humane groups.


3, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL BOND ACT: NO
We have to save the children!!! Bond means increased taxes, and even if this particular measure is "an investment in our children," the folks in charge need to spend the money they got in 2004 from a similar measure first before they beg me for more.


4, WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE TERMINATION OF MINOR'S PREGNANCY: YES
This should have been a law 20 years ago. Better late than never.

5, NONVIOLENT DRUG OFFENSES, SENTENCING, PAROLE, AND REHABILITATION: NO
One of those snaky measures that lets criminal potheads out early.

6, POLICE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT FUNDING. CRIMINAL PENALTIES: YES
The only extra taxes I am willing to pay is to law enforcement. Hopefully it will be spent competently. That is a big "hope."

7, RENEWABLE ENERGY GENERATION: NO
I know the hippy culture in America live in a delusion fantasy world where they think we are just a few years away from flying in George Jettson like cars that run on banana peels if we only spend the money to research the technology, but we must face reality.

8, ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY: YES
I am not the least bit ashamed to say I want to eliminate the rights of homosexuals to "marry" each other.

9, CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, VICTIMS' RIGHTS, PAROLE INITIATIVE: YES
Basically, the measure provides victims of crime the ability to have more input with criminal sentencing.


10, ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES AND RENEWABLE ENERGY: NO
Another one of those enviro-wacko ideas that penalizes me for not driving a battery powered Yugo.


11, REDISTRICTING INITIATIVE: NO
I am getting conflicting information from conservative sources as to how to vote for this measure. The idea is good: redrawing the district lines so as to up root entrenched career politicians, Republican and Democrat, who are horribly incompetent. The differing opinions I am reading about this measure makes me want to vote no, so I am sticking to that vote unless I have some compelling information convincing me otherwise. (Leave them in the comments if you will).


12, VETERANS' BOND ACT OF 2008: NO
Even though I appreciate our military veterans, a billion dollar bond initiative in a state that is horrendously in debt is not the wisest thing at the moment.

County Measure R. At this point, I am voting "NO." Again, city officials here in LA have a track record of funneling funds from measures like this to help pay off wacky projects.

As for the district board of directors, like the Castaic Lake Water Agency, you are on your own. One rule of thumb: Look for boring competence. I want a normal person who is boring, but knows what he is doing.

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Christians, Conscience, and Third Parties

In the comments under my post on the California voter's guide, "Chris" rebukes me for not supporting third party candidate, Chuck Baldwin. Never mind the fact that I have never heard of Chuck before Chris's whiny comment, nor that he is even listed as a choice for me to consider, nor is his party a viable political group in my state, let alone in the U.S. It is the fact that I am a Christian voting for a RINO - "Republican in name only" - that is to be questioned.

I have had this conversation with believers in the past. The two main political parties, Republicans and Democrats, are both equally compromised with liberal priorities that it does not matter who I vote for, both candidates are pretty much the same. McCain has a liberal agenda just like Barry Obama, so it is my duty as a Christian to throw my vote away on a candidate who will only get .03 of the national vote and trust God with the results. If I refuse to do this I am pragmatic and not voting my conscience.

Of course, the claim McCain and Barry are equally liberal is patently absurd. Anyone who has been informed outside the Matrix of the MSM understands Barry is beyond just being liberal; he is a full on radical leftist in his political ideology. Certainly I can agree McCain is a bit too soft on illegal immigration, and there are other problems with McCain that can be pointed out. But to say he is just like Barry? Barry has a mind set to introduce a socialistic economy and with the help of the demos in congress will come close to succeeding. On top of this, Barry and his friends in the senate will be taking great delight in removing those little personal freedoms we currently enjoy, like for example, saying publicly that homosexuality is a sin against God.

At any rate...

I was going to write up some thoughts on third parties and Christians, but thankfully, Dan Phillips has beat me to it and does a much better job articulating my thoughts than what I would. Check out his post: Go Third Party, or Don't Vote?

Voting for a third party out of protest to McCain being a "RINO" is foolishly irresponsible. Not voting period out of protest is unconscionable.

One comment about "voting my conscience." The Bible requires that I, as a citizen of what ever country I may currently reside, am to pray for my leaders and those in power (1 Tim. 2:1,2), obey my governmental authorities (Rom. 13:1), and pay my taxes (Rom. 13:6,7). The only time I can disobey the government is if they require me by law to disobey God's written commands.

Never should any Christian be "bound" by conscience to only vote for a candidate who only lines up perfectly under everything he or she may believe. Nor should Christians who may hold to specific political convictions insist other Christians are derelict in their duty as believers if they happen to want to vote anyone other than the favored conscience stroking candidate. What Christians are bound to do is make wise, informed choices as to whom they may vote for and what will be best for the peace and moral health of the society as a whole, filtered through a biblical worldview. That is how a conscience sensitive Christian should live.

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