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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Voddie at Shepherd's Conference

Austin Duncan, the college pastor at GCC - who, btw, reminds me of a bald-headed, Christian version of Penn Jillette - explains why Voddie Baucham was invited to be a keynote speaker at this year's Shepherd's Conference.

Voddie Baucham and Shepherd's Conference

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Exploding Stuff in Microwaves

In super slow motion.
How awesome is that!?

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Other Elephant in the Room

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gleanings in 1 Samuel [5]

From a Boy to a Prophet (1 Samuel 3)

I have been working through 1 Samuel on a devotional level.

First Samuel is a book that bridges the time of Israel's judges and the reign of the theocratic monarchs.

In chapter 2, we were introduced to Eli. He was both a judge and a high priest. His "ministry" was marked by ineptitude and spiritual lethargy. Most damning was that Israel was led astray and brought to sin against God by his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Eli refused to confront them and remove them from their roles, because he more than likely was benefiting from their sinful mishandling of the sacrifices.

Contrasted to Samuel, the Scripture says in 2:26 that he grew in stature and favor with the LORD and men.

Coming to chapter 3, the author establishes Samuel's uniqueness as Israel's national prophet.

The writer of Samuel book-ends this section with a play on two Hebrew words:
In 3:1, Samuel is described as a na'ar, or "boy."
In 3:20, he is described as a na' bi, or "prophet."

He moves from being a juvenile, waiting on the high priest at the tabernacle, to becoming an impeccable and revered spokesman for God.

The LORD establishes Samuel's prophethood by revealing to him firsthand and allowing him to be the messenger of judgment upon Eli and his family.

Four main sections I wish to consider.

I. The Prophecy Withheld (3:1-3)

Chapter three opens with Samuel shown as a youthful Levite who is providing service to the Lord under Eli's tutelage.

The opening verse says that the "Word of the LORD was rare in those days." In other words, God was not communicating with His people. There was no revelation. The idea, as some translations relate, is that God's Word was "precious."

Eli had grown old and could barely see physically. He had poor eye-sight, but his bad eye-sight pictures his spiritual eye-sight. He was not seeing God at all.

Contrasted to Eli, Samuel is said to be sleeping before the Ark of the LORD where the lamp of God burned. It was perhaps his duty to keep watch on the tabernacle furniture and not let the lamp burn out, but it was Samuel who was closest to the presence of the LORD.

II. The Prophecy Given (3:4-14)

We then read a humorous scene where the LORD calls Samuel, but the inexperienced lad believes it is Eli calling him. Verse 7 says he did not yet know the LORD. I don't think that speaks to his salvation as much as it speaks to the fact he had yet become God's anointed prophet to Israel.

The LORD calls Samuel three times, and after each time he hurries to Eli who tells him he had not called him. After the third time, Eli recognized that it was the LORD calling Samuel and tells him to respond to the LORD the next time.

On the fourth time, Samuel does just that. The text says the LORD came and stood when he called Samuel. This can mean either the presence of the LORD on the ark or perhaps it was a Christophany. Whatever the case, the LORD then reveals His judgment against Eli.

- Confirms the judgment He passed against Eli in chapter 2 by the words of a "man of God."
- His sons were to be judged for their sin and Eli for his sin in not restraining them.
- Nothing Eli does can change God's verdict and it will effect Eli's house forever.

These words precursor the major events in chapters 4 and 5.

III. The Prophecy Proclaimed (3:15-18)

The next morning, Samuel opened the doors to the house of the Lord. Quite possibly emphasized by the writer to show how God is now once again communicating with His people.

Reluctantly, Samuel tells Eli what the LORD revealed, and Eli, to his credit, accepted the pronouncement of the LORD.

IV. The Prophet Established (3:19-4:1)

Samuel then becomes God's official mouthpiece to Israel. Four things are important to note and mark his office:

- Samuel had a special relationship with God.
- Everything he said for God came to pass, "let none of his words fall to the ground."
- Everyone in Israel knew of Samuel being a prophet, "from Dan to Beersheba."
- God once again communicated to Israel through Samuel.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Defending Premillennialism [9]

israelThe Everlasting Promise of the Land

I wish to continue in my study of premillennialism I had reintroduced before the holidays. The focus of my study is the land promises God made to Israel throughout the OT and their significance as they pertain to the future hope of Israel in the eschatological future.

As I noted in my introductory post, many of my covenant Reformed brethren believe those promises have been fulfilled when Israel entered Canaan under Joshua. The greater “fulfillment” of those promises are not to be understood as Israel being restored to a “literal” geographic territory. Rather, they have been fulfilled in the work of Christ by uniting in one body, the Church, all the “elect” remnant of Jews who come to faith in their Messiah, with the “elect” gentiles who also come to faith in Christ. The Christian Church is now the “New Israel.” Thus, the greater fulfillment of those land promises given to Israel in the OT, extends beyond the meager, physical territory of the “land of Israel” to now the entire world, so that the “meek,” God’s New Covenant people, “will inherit the earth.”

Adding to this view, the covenant Reformed believer will further note that the NT writers never mentioned a literal fulfillment of the land promises in a physically restored nation of Israel. If God had intended to “restore” Israel in a literal kingdom in the physical, geopolitical territory known as “Israel,” why didn’t the NT writers provide details to such a restoration?

That point is often repeated throughout Reformed polemical literature against future premillennialism. But is it an accurate claim about the NT and Israel’s restoration? Or is it a conclusion forced upon the various texts by other external theological considerations, particularly the redemptive-historical hermeneutic utilized by covenant theology? I think it reflects the latter. I’ll back-up and begin by outlining what the Bible tells us about Israel and their land promises with this article, and address Israel’s restoration in the next. As I move along, I’ll respond to the main arguments put forth by my Reformed covenant friends against my position.

First, it is important to recognize that the land promises God made to Abraham were the major center piece to the overall Abrahamic covenant.
Beginning in Genesis chapter 12, God called Abraham to this land and there He stated He will make him a great nation (Gen. 12:1-2). Then, in Genesis 13:14-17, after Abraham separates himself from Lot, God again makes this promise to him,

14 And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: "Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are-- northward, southward, eastward, and westward;
15 "for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.
16 "And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.
17 "Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you."

Coming to Genesis 15 God makes an official "covenant" with Abraham regarding the inheritance of the land. Verse 18 sums up the promise God made in that covenant when He says, To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates... This same promise concerning the land is reiterated once again by God in Genesis 17. God comes to Abraham, changes his name "Abram" to "Abraham" and promises, by oath of the covenant He made with him in Genesis 15, states,

7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
8 "Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Jumping over to Exodus 32:13, when Moses intercedes for the people against God’s judgment, Moses reminds God of the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the terms of that covenant being the promise God made to give their descendants the land forever. After his plea, God relents His judgment against Israel.

These are just a brief smattering of passages describing God’s covenant with Israel and the promises of the land He made to them. Considering the data so far as outlined in these passages, we can observe a few points:

1). First, the language is straight forward and clear that it is physical land God has in mind to give Abraham and his descendants. In fact, the land is identified with the “land of the Canaanites,” the geographic area that becomes the land occupied by the Jews and known as Israel.

2). Second, nothing in the language suggests that God meant anything other than physical territory when He promised the land to Abraham. In other words, God was not telling Abraham, "I will give this land to you and your descendants, but really it’s just a type for heaven, so don't take my words in a "wooden, literal fashion." As far as Abraham is concerned, he believed he was being promised the possession of physical territory that he and his descendants will occupy forever.

Now, covenant Reformed apologists will argue that promise was “expanded” by God in His redemptive purposes so that now we shouldn’t take it in a “wooden, literal fashion” like premillennialists do. I would agree God later “expands” upon this promise to include the gentiles and extend salvation throughout the global nations, but “expanding” on the promise is different from nullifying, cancelling, or replacing specific terms of that promise. The inclusion of the gentiles in the New Covenant doesn’t cancel those land promises God made to His people, the Jews.

3). Adding to that last point, God says several times that He gives the land to Abraham and his descendants “forever.” Moreover, in Genesis 17:7, 8, this covenant promise is described as an "everlasting" covenant and the land is described as an “everlasting possession.” Now, if we take the words “forever” and “everlasting” in their normal meaning, they describe something that is “forever” and “everlasting.” Thus, no matter if Israel’s possession of the land is interrupted due to their disobedience and the people are removed from the land, the idea of “everlasting” means God will come through with the fulfillment of His promise and restore them at some future point.

Keeping these observations in mind, many covenant Reformed proponents argue that the idea of “forever” or “everlasting,” particularly in Genesis 17:8 where God says the land of Canaan will be an “everlasting possession,” does not necessarily mean “everlasting” in a literal sense [i.e., Crenshaw/Gunn, 241ff.*]. In other words, “everlasting” should be understood in a conditional sense. The reason being is that context defines the meaning.

Though it is true, they explain, that “everlasting” typically means “everlasting” in the sense of “eternal” and “never ending,” it doesn’t carry this meaning in every passage. For instance, in Exodus 40:15, the priests are said to be “anointed” so as to be admitted to a “everlasting” priesthood. We know the priesthood ended when the “Great High Priest” came.

Moreover, the occupation of the land was conditioned upon Israel’s obedience to the covenant God made with them. Deuteronomy 4:25-27, for example, reads,

25 "When you beget children and grandchildren and have grown old in the land, and act corruptly and make a carved image in the form of anything, and do evil in the sight of the LORD your God to provoke Him to anger,
26 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you will soon utterly perish from the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess; you will not prolong your days in it, but will be utterly destroyed.
27 "And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you.

Obviously, according to that passage, the idea of the land being “an everlasting possession” is conditioned upon Israel faithfully maintaining the terms of the covenant. We know the people were not faithful and were removed from the land in exile during the Babylonian captivity, and when they rejected their Messiah, they were permanently removed from their land in 70 AD.

At first glance, I can sorta see how this may be compelling argumentation, but there are some problems with it.

I’ll sketch out my response.

Honestly, I do not find any exegetical or theological warrant in the biblical text, OT or NT, to redefine the word “everlasting” in a conditional sense as it describes the land promises.

Of all the major covenants mentioned in the Bible, the Noahic (Genesis 9), the Abrahamic (Genesis 15, 17 etc.), the Mosaic (Exodus 19, 20), the Palestinian (Deuteronomy 30:1-10), the Davidic (2 Samuel 7:12-16), and the New (Jeremiah 31:33-34), all of them except the Mosaic covenant are described in terms of being “everlasting” or being “forever.” That is because they are unconditional, established by God’s divine sovereignty in spite of the response of the receiving party, in this case, Israel.

One can argue that the Mosaic covenant was established by God’s divine sovereignty in that He alone freed Israel from Egyptian bondage and gave His law to be kept by them. However, it is not defined as being “everlasting” because it was not designed to be “everlasting” in the same manner the others were. The Mosaic covenant functioned as a national constitution for Israel as a theocratic nation. It was also meant to demonstrate the holiness of God and point to the need for a perfect, everlasting sacrifice, what the New Covenant foretold and was ratified in the work of Christ.

The Mosaic covenant did have specific conditions set upon the occupants of the land that if they disobeyed the terms of the covenant they would forfeit their occupancy in the land. But those conditions do not nullify the previous promise made to Abraham for his descendants to possess the land forever as Paul writes to the Galatians in 3:17.

When we come to the NT, all of the unconditional covenants revealed in the OT culminate in the ratification of the New covenant. But the NT writers narrowly focus upon the soteriological aspects of the New covenant. Such things as the fulfillment of the priestly sacrifices, God’s laws being “written on the heart,” a new heart that willing obeys those laws, and the out pouring of God’s Spirit. That is understandable, because Christ’s first coming was for the purpose of securing eternal life for His elect. R.K. McGregor-Wright explains the New covenant this way,

This covenant was the subject of much OT prediction and was announced to his people by Jesus as the new Moses in the Upper Room, and ratified by God on the Cross (Heb. 13:20). It is called "eternal" in Isa. 24:5, 61:8, Jer. 32:40, 50:5 and in Hebrews 13:20. It was made with “spiritual” Israel, i.e., with the Elect of God in Christ, and contains at least a dozen specific promises to them, including some of the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. It includes the future regenerate Israel and therefore will later incorporate promises of the Palestinian and Davidic covenants. Its fulfillment rests ultimately on the gracious "I will" of Jehovah himself. It absolutely guarantees the salvation of the elect and includes no one else. It was to be made only with those who "know the Lord," according to Jer. 31:33-34, and therefore cannot be a “family” or “national” covenant like the Mosaic was, but is entered into only by believers upon the exercise of saving faith.

The New covenant has at this time salvific implications to God’s spiritual people, the elect, both Jew and gentile. It will have physical implications in the future when God, through the work of the New covenant, saves all of national Israel in the eschatological future. What Deuteronomy 4:29-30 prophecy as happening during the “latter days.”

As I noted at the outset, It is important to understand that the “everlasting possession” of the land is a key element to the Abrahamic covenant which factors significantly in the establishment of the New Covenant. I don’t believe God’s promise to save Israel’s can be separated from His promise to give them the land. In fact, when we examine the OT passages where God declares His intention to save Israel, that salvation always includes the promise to establish the people in the land. Additionally, it will be a holy people willing obedient to their God because of the spiritual renewal He sovereignly brings upon the people.

Consider the “New” covenant sounding language in Deuteronomy 4:29-31; 30:6, Ezekiel 36:24-28; 37:14, 22-23, 26-28; Zechariah 14:20-21. There is mention of Israel receiving new hearts, having circumcised hearts, obeying from the heart God’s law, sovereignly awakened by God to see their Messiah, having clean water sprinkled on them, and having God’s Spirit dwelling with them, and all of these spiritual promises of salvation are in conjunction with the promise to be reestablished in the physical land. Now Israel can meet those conditions of obedience in order to dwell in the land because they will obey from a divinely changed heart.

*If you read Crenshaw and Gunn you will note how they cherry pick passages to support their position. For example, by only citing the first part of Deuteronomy 4 concerning the curses brought upon Israel and their removal from the land, they ignore the latter part of the chapter where God tells of Israel’s restoration.

Sources

Curtis Crenshaw and Grover Gunn, Dispensationaism: Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow
John Feinberg, ed, Continuity and Discontinuity
R.K. McGregor-Wright, Historical Doubts Concerning One “Covenant of Grace [unpublished paper]

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Monday, January 23, 2012

For My Prog Acquaintances

Who Love Hating on Homeschoolers

I wish he'd hit on spelling bees and 98 Ford passenger vans, but he covers a lot of the basics. The Sparky vest is a nice touch.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

On Interpreting the OT with the NT

One of the primary differences between Christians who adhere more to dispensational distinctives and those who may adhere to covenant Reformed distinctives is how the two groups use the NT to understand the OT.

Those of the Reformed view (and those of the NCT perspective, see #2) tend to read the NT back onto the OT allowing it to re-interpret at times passages in the OT, especially those passages that have prophetic, eschatological significance. They argue that the NT is the pentacle of God's revelation, because it reveals Jesus Christ, who is the focus and fulfillment of God's redemptive purposes. Thus, OT prophetic passages that speak of God promise being fulfilled need to be interpreted with the NT as the starting point, and our understanding of the OT passages directing us to Jesus.

Paul Henebury provides us with 40 reasons why this hermeneutic is problematic and can make for some seriously bad Bible study. They are presented in two articles:

Forty Reasons for Not Reinterpreting the Old Testament by the New: The First Twenty


Forty Reasons for Not Reinterpreting the Old Testament by the New: The Last Twenty

By the way. This is the stuff I want to see Jamin Hubner and his young buddies genuinely interact with. Not those tomato can "dispensational" theologians like Joel Rosenberg and John Hagee they always beat on.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Galatians and the Abrahamic Covenant

I noted the first part in this series back before Christmas.

Paul Henebury has some good insights on Paul's teaching in Galatians three on the idea of "seed" and the Abrahamic covenant. He has written three more articles on the subject plus an addendum interacting with objections. They supplement my posts I am currently compiling that detail the premillennial understanding of the land promises.

Galatians 3, the Land, and the Abrahamic Covenant: What was Paul Thinking?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Addendum

Paul summarizes his main point in the fourth post by writing,

In disagreeing with Gunn I am not saying that he is not justified in attending to the places in Genesis where the apostle appears to be getting his language about “and to your seed” from: that is, from Genesis 12 through 22. The problem comes in when he extrapolates from the false notion that Paul is quoting from only two places in the Septuagint and claims the land promise of these “seed” passages must be transferred to the Church and turned magically into promises of heaven. When Christians insist that this must be done they are going beyond the teaching of the NT, not to say the apostle Paul elsewhere (e.g. Romans 11). They are also claiming the OT cannot be properly understood without the New – a claim which sounds pious enough, until it is analyzed in light of its logical outcome...

My response (which, remember, was just a part response) is that in order for the Abrahamic covenant to be tied to the Church (especially its Gentile contingent), that covenant must be connected to the New covenant in Christ. If that is true then Paul is thinking along these lines when he cites the four words “and to your seed” from Genesis. He most probably does not have an exact reference in mind, as he did with his earlier quotation of Genesis 15:6, but rather has in view the repeated use of the phrase through the Abrahamic narrative (if I had to make a guess which passage Paul may have been citing I would go for Gen. 22:18).

I have to admit I appreciate the comment about transferring the "seed" passages onto the NT Church and "magically" turning them into promises just about heaven.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Frisbee Tricks

I bet this guy makes like a lot of money.


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Friday, January 13, 2012

Gleanings in 1 Samuel [4]

Two Families Contrasted [2:12-36]

The book of 1 Samuel takes place during the time of the Judges. It was a spiritually dark time in Israel's history because the people were not committed to the Lord and allowed themselves to be compromised by the surrounding pagan culture. Apostasy abounded as a result. However, there were bright spots. Hannah's faith in Yahweh being a prime example.

Hannah was childless. In Israel at the time, her condition could be understood as divine judgment against the individual. Hannah brings her trial to the Lord, prays to Him to give her a child that she in turn will give back to Him for service. God answered her prayer, and from this humble woman, Samuel is raised up to become a nationally recognized prophet for God.

After her prayer we are told in verse 11 how she leaves a young Samuel at the Tabernacle where he "ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest."

Verse 12 introduces us to the major contrast between Eli's house and Elkanah's, Samuel's father, house. Whereas Elkanah's house is blessed of the Lord, we see Eli's house coming under God's severe judgment.

I. Parental Ineptitude [12]

The text reveals that Eli's two sons, Hophi and Phinehas, were corrupt. Literally, the description is "sons of Belial." They were wicked good for nothings as will be explained as the narrative unfolds. The idea of being a "sons of Belial," speaks to Eli's character with parenting, or better, lack of parenting. He essentially allowed his sons to run riot with corrupting the people of God.

Even though his two sons bear the responsibility for their wicked actions, Eli is also responsible for not moving against them as both their father, and as the high priest.

II. Priestly Corruption [13-17; 22-25]

The corruption of Hophni and Phinehas is revealed in their roles as "ministers." When people came forth to offer their sacrifices as prescribed in Leviticus 10:14, 15, they would send their servant to get the best portion (the portion meant to be given to the Lord) for their consumption.

The law was explicit in that they were required to burn off the fat of the animal when it was offered (Leviticus 7:22-25), yet they threatened with violence those worshipers who refused them (2:16). It got to the point where the people despised the sacrifice, because it would be pointless to bring it if a couple of corrupt priests refused to do the ceremony properly.

Additionally, we are told in 2:22 that Eli's two sons would commit sexual sin with the women who came to the tabernacle.

In all of this, Eli lightly rebuked them for their behavior (2:23). What they did was worthy of strict judgment, even death, but Eli really did nothing. One interesting editorial footnote says in 2:25 that Eli's two sons "did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them." If Eli would not move, God would, and He does.

Now, contrast this spiritually dysfunctional house with Samuel's ministry (2:18-21):

- Samuel ministered before the LORD - unlike Eli's sons who abused their office with corruption.
- God blessed Hannah with more children besides Samuel, five in all, three sons and two daughters.
- Samuel grew in favor with both God and men, whereas Eli's two sons are said to have not known the LORD.

III. Prophetic Judgment [27-36]

At last God proclaims his judgment against Eli and his two sons through the ministry of an unnamed "man of God." The judgment against Eli is outlined in four major points:

- Squandered his special calling as a high priest, an office he should have held in high honor
- Held the sacrifices he offered in contempt, "kick at my sacrifices."
- Honored his sons more than God, allowing them to get away with their sin.
- Eli benefited from their corruption of the sacrifices by taking the best of the offering.

Because of this, Eli and his house is to be cut-off. In other words, his house, his family linage, will no longer serve as priests.

This is a interesting prophecy, because it sets in motion the fulfillment of a previous prophecy made to Phinehas, Aaron's grandson in Numbers 25, who stood up against unrighteousness by executing an apostate Israelite who brazenly brought a pagan woman to the tabernacle. According to the Lord's word to Moses, He was going to make Eleazar's house, Phinehas's father, the family of Levites who would supply the priests who serve in the Tabernacle.

When learn from 1 Kings 2:26-27, 35, that God fulfills his words to Eli, removing his descendant, Abiathar from being high priest and putting in his place, Zadok. Thus, the priestly line of Ithamar, that had taken over the roll as high priest in the past at one point, is removed, and the priestly line of Eleazar is reinstated and established with supplying the high priests.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

No Sympathy for the Fat Guy

burritoSince when has my diet and weight been a matter of sin and judgment?

Or, Can I enjoy watching Man Vs. Food without feeling shame?

Every Christmas the secular media bombards us with guilt inducing special reports gravely warning us to lay off the turkey, ham, and prime rib dinners, along with all that other awesome, high calorie food that makes us happy, or we will die early, pathetic deaths. It was no different this past Christmas.

Usually the reports are 2 minute “health” segments on channels like CNN narrated by a gorgeous reporterette who could easily have a second job as a Victoria’s Secret lingerie model. She earnestly cites health stats on obesity accompanied by video images of the torsos of large bottomed men and women walking down the street. If we don’t watch what we eat, and start eating healthy foods, like Brussels sprouts, we risk eating ourselves into a heart-attack or death by diabetes; or worse, living a shortened life of crippling scorn and ridicule as an unpopular fat person who sweats a lot and has to wear ill fitting clothes with elastic waste bands like they sell at Wal-Mart.

I guess I expect our worldly society to obsess over our diets. Progressive ideology has permeated our Western culture the last century or so, and has made health and fitness an idol that must be obeyed in order to have a meaningful life.

It’s annoying, however, to see Christians latch onto this health and fitness thinking and assign it some weird, spiritual value. Generally, there are two groups. First are the modern food pharisees, who insist that eating kosher food as outlined in the Bible is the true, spiritual Christianly thing to do. If we would only eat “God’s ordained food” and not those things “processed by man,” all the cancer in the world would dry up and we would live to like 170 or more.

The second group equate the sin of gluttony with eating too much and being overweight. Thus, if you happen to enjoy eating the 2600 calorie “Mega Onion” appetizer from Claim Jumpers or where ever, you’re calling down the wrath of God upon your head.

Two articles I encountered this past Christmas take this second approach regarding the Christian and his food. First is an article by a Baptist missions director, It’s the Most Wonderful Sin of the Year, in which he comes close to likening overeating (a picture of a fat guy scarfing down a bowl of potato chips illustrates the article) to being an unforgivable sin. He also berates preachers for not preaching against overeating enough from the pulpit.

Think about that article’s title a moment. “Sin” implies a violation of God’s law. Is this writer seriously telling me that if I have a hankering to have a piece of pumpkin pie AND a piece of chocolate pie at the same time after my rich, starchy holiday meal, I am sinning against God? Really?

The second article I read is entitled, Jesus Died for Your Food Coma, and the author of this article, like the author of the first article, erroneously equates gluttony with overeating. In fact, a definition of “gluttony” is provided which is defined as “habitual greed or excess in eating.” To really nail it home, Jerry Bridges “Respectable Sins” is cited. Man. mentioning Jerry Bridges makes the bumps stand up on your arm, doesn’t it?

The problem with both these articles, and the recent wave of bloggers who errantly equate gluttony with overeating, is that the Bible doesn’t define gluttony as “overeating;” certainly not “overeating” as in eating heaps of Buca Di Beppo’s “Mama Mia’s Spaghetti and Meatball Family Dinner Platter.”

I left some comments at that second article challenging the definition of gluttony that is provided. One fellow responded by asking me “how then does the Bible define gluttony?”

beastCertainly, the concept of “gluttony” is not directly defined in Scripture. In fact, as the author of that first article notes, it is rarely mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, around 6 or so times to be exact. In order to get an understanding of “gluttony,” the surrounding context has to be considered where the word is found.

The first mention of “gluttony” is in Deuteronomy 21:20 And they shall say to the elders of his city,`This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.”

There are a few observations to be made from this text. 1). First, note the overall context is parents bringing a son to the city elders in order for them to pass judgment upon him. Their judgment against him could lead to his execution by stoning. 2). Next, gluttony is tied to being a drunkard. He not only is eating a lot, but drinking himself drunk. 3). Third, the parents’ testimony of the son is that he is “stubborn and rebellious,” meaning that he refuses to receive instruction, is obstinate against both parental and civil authority, and it is implied that he is living a life flaunting God’s law and not fearing the Lord at all. Eli’s two good-for-nothing sons, Hophni and Phinehas fit this description (1 Sam. 2:12-17).

There a couple of Proverbs that mention “gluttons.” Proverbs 28:7 is the most relevant for our discussion and it reads, Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son, But a companion of gluttons shames his father. Notice that a discerning son is said to be one who “keeps the law.” Simply put, he loves and fears the Lord. However, the son who is “a companion of gluttons” is the son who shames his father. It’s implied he doesn’t keep the law, nor does he fear God. The verses following contrast a good son with the ones who extort from the poor, who despises God’s law, and intentionally leads righteous people astray.

In the NT, Jesus is accused of being a “winebibber and a glutton” and eating with sinners (Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34). Sinners in this case being defined as tax collectors (those who extort money), and other assortment of sinners. When Paul wrote Titus, he mentions how Cretans are “liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons.” liars are in the same category as gluttons, who are described by the adjective, “lazy.” These describe people who are morally unscrupulous and basically ungodly with their behavior and lifestyle.

Now, when we pull together all the scant discussions of gluttony mentioned in the Bible, do we seriously think it is Bubba the deacon who is in mind? A guy who is an outstanding Christian who teaches Sunday school (and is a Calvinist!), but who happens to be 50 pounds overweight and enjoys eating a big breakfast at Bob Evans every Saturday morning with his family?

Gluttony is certainly a sin, but overeating on Thanksgiving is not gluttony. If it is, how exactly are pastors to confront this sin? What is the “standard” for overeating? Wouldn’t it be different from one person to the next? I had a friend in college who was in tremendous physical shape but ate like a horse. He had a high metabolism. He could easily consume 3 or 4 big macs and they wouldn’t do a thing to his health. The author of the second article above suggests that a person’s high metabolism is not an excuse for “overeating.” But why? One person’s “overeating” may be normal eating for another person as long as there are no dire health consequences.

If overeating is gluttony, and pastors should take up the call to condemn the sin of overeating from the pulpit, are these folks prepared to exercise church discipline against obese people who eat too much? Seriously. If overeating is “sin” that means these people are violating God’s Word. They need to be called to repentance and if they don’t repent, then the elders move to the steps of Matthew 18.

Again, this means we need to have in place a standard of measurement for obesity and overeating. The Bible is absolutely silent regarding such standards, and knowing that the standards put out by the government are for the most part absurd, how exactly can a pastor honestly condemn overeating from the pulpit?

Look. Is overeating and obesity a serious health problem in our day and age? Yes. But it isn’t the sin of gluttony. We may need to confront overeating and obesity in the local church, but let’s be exegetically precise as to what we are confronting. The overeating these young writers are concerned with falls more in the category of personal discipline, like quitting smoking, or exercising more, or being a workaholic. Those areas can be bad habits, but they are not “sinful.”

I am reminded of Deuteronomy 14:26 which reads, And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. Ironically, this is the verse the YRR use to justify their theological kegger parties and they are typically the ones equating gluttony with overeating. Rather than condemning “overeating” per se, I see God telling me to rejoice in the good things He has provided and lots of it, like coconut fried shrimp from Outback Steakhouse.

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Politically Correct Dating

Thoughts on the use of BCE and CE.
In case you were wondering...

AD 2012 or 2012 CE?

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

OEC On Trial - Biblical Interpretation

Answers in Genesis is putting chapters from their book on old earth creationism on-line. This segment outlines interpretative points.

Old Earth Creationism on Trial: "Biblical" Arguments

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Friday, January 06, 2012

Aeropress Coffee: A Review

Let me tell you about one of the better Christmas gifts Santee Claws brought me.

So the morning after me and the family arrived in Arkansas, I'm talking with my mom about gifts for my brother and she tells me about getting him this Aeropress coffee thingy he had put on his Amazon wish list. She had accidentally order two, and she says, "I was going to return it unless you want it."

Being the shameless, self-righteous coffee snob that I am who is constantly on a quest to drink the greatest cup of joe ever made, I thought, "sure." So, I unpacked the box, and using the Peet's coffee I brought with me, I followed the easy instructions that are conveniently provided for you in a little booklet in like, 30 languages, including PNG Pidgin, and took a sip of my freshly brewed coffee made with an Aeropress.

I stood fixed in one spot as the hot liquid bathed my taste buds in coffee goodness. It was as if reality peeled away for a moment and I experienced the ability to see through time and space like that Dave Bowman guy in 2001.

Maybe I am stretching it a bit, but it was a seriously excellent tasting cup of coffee.

The Aeropress is a real simple contraption. Apparently invented just in 2005 or thereabouts by a Stanford grad. The press is a plastic cylinder in which you put the coffee, and an enormous syringe plunger device fits inside that you use to gently push the water down over the grounds into the mug. The video below explains some of the reason why it makes an amazing cup of coffee so check it out.

Knowing how I am so conceited about my coffee, I had the Chemex device recommended to me as an alternative to the coffee pot. I picked one up, and it's important to note that they're not cheap, running at about 35 bucks for an average sized one, but I never really grew to like it. The primary reason was the fact my coffee wasn't hot like I like. It would be warm, for sure, but when you pour the hot water over the grounds, it loses a lot of its heat the four minutes or so it takes to go through it's "brewing" process. I like my coffee to have a bit of a bite when I begin to drink it.

Not so with the Aeropress. Once you pour the water in, the process takes no more than 30 seconds or less, so you still have the heat in the coffee. Plus, clean up is easy. All you have to do is twist off the filter cap, and press the plunger all the way through over a trash can. A little coffee ground puck pushes out the end with a satisfying "pop." Swish the parts with some water and soap, and it's clean as a whistle.

There are a ton of videos demonstrating it's use. I have embed one of the better demonstrations. There is even a yearly contest, as I understand it, where contestants meet to show off their ability to make a fabulous cup of coffee.


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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Vintage Hip and Thigh

bedBefore Mark Driscoll and his wife published their Karma Sutra for Christians book this past week, Driscoll preached a series of sleazy messages that twisted the Song of Solomon into a book about sex tips to spice up the bedroom.

John MacArthur published four articles in response to Driscoll, and of course, the reaction he received from the YRR fellows was that he is a cane waving old man who has outlived his usefulness and needs to shut-up.

I was so incensed by their dismissiveness I punched out my own response. Since a number of blogger personalities are writing reviews of Driscoll’s new book, I thought I would repost the rant I wrote a couple of years ago. I had to modify it significantly because a number of the links I noted no longer work and a couple of the personalities involved with Driscoll at the time, most notably, John Piper, no long have a hand in his mentoring, or at least that is what I understand. The original article can be read HERE, my up-dated one is below.

Glamour Magazine Theology

A Rant

For a bit of background, it may be helpful for uninformed readers to check out these articles by John MacArthur posted, here, here, here, and here. If anything, read the last one.

I will confess up front that I am a member of Grace Community Church and I work at Grace to You radio ministries. I would imagine that admission instantly discredits any remarks I may make against Mark Driscoll in the minds of his supporters as the whining criticisms of another sycophantic MacArthurite. I guess that is to be expected; but my reaction is one of a Christian man who loves holiness and has a deep passion for personal holiness in the lives of God's people, and God's pastors are to set the example of holiness for others to emulate.

When I read with stunned dismay the comments by young bloggers in reaction to John MacArthur's articles on the Song of Solomon and his expressed alarm at the recent practice of preachers, most notably Mark Driscoll, to teach sexually explicit messages taken from the book, my passion for holiness was stirred and I had to speak my mind. I apologize in advance if my thoughts ramble. I have been mulling them over in my mind for a number of days, but that doesn't necessarily mean I will sound coherent. And they are certainly my own and I bear the responsibility for them.

A current trend in American "Christendom" these days is preachers basically scandalizing their congregations by talking openly about sexual matters from the pulpit. These lurid sermons are suppose to engage the culture by telling worldly people Christians aren't hung up about sex, and God is cool about sex, too.

The main culprit is Mark Driscoll, who presented a sermon series from the Song of Solomon as ancient sex-tips to spice up the bed room like those articles I see advertised on the cover of Glamour and Redbook magazines. But other pastors also believe they too need to be graphic in their discussions of sex, including the descriptions of anatomy and performed acts.

John is rightly concerned, because in addition to mangling the divine picture God paints in the Song of Solomon of pure, marital love between a husband and a wife by reading into it the most prurient images imaginable, there are Christians who genuinely defend such sex talk from the pulpit and dismiss these type of sermons out of hand as if nothing troubling has taken place. The real trouble maker, according to these people, are folks like John who is an old fuddy-dud man living in a past generation that no longer has a relevant thing to offer our world.

Laying aside the exegesis of the Song of Solomon, my rant is aimed at these defenders. Predictably, the vast majority of John's critics and Driscoll's enablers are college students or college graduates. They are young men who identify with being the restless and reformed "new" Calvinists. They think because Mark Driscoll also identifies with "new" Calvinism, claims to be orthodox, and has a popular ministry in Seattle, he is to be heard.

A few bloggers even annoyingly attempt to offer thoughtful analysis of the whole Driscoll affair by framing the controversy he generates and the critics, like John who takes the time to respond, as disagreeing over secondary matters as to what methods one should use to engage the culture.

Even more galling is how these 20-something bloggers will offer their pastoral advice as if they are speaking from a wisdom that transcends everyone who has provided an opinion on the matter; but in reality, their assuredness shouts a hubris of symphonic levels. They challenge John MacArthur, a man who has been in ministry longer than many of them have been alive, treating him as if he were a Fundamentalist finger-wagger decrying contemporary Christian rock music.

Speaking from personal experience, over twenty years ago I was once a young Calvinist, but I sought to keep myself away from being influenced by a sex drenched culture (even in the Bible-belt state of Arkansas) and I would had been appalled to hear this kind of sexual stuff that is passed off as biblical preaching.

In fact, I can remember vividly a presentation on pornography I heard at my Church that was similar in content as the messages Driscoll gave on the Song of Solomon. There was a local moral crusader who attended our Church. He believed it was his calling in life to make a public nuisance of himself by going to every liquor store, quick mart, and mom-and-pop video rental place and make sure they weren't selling dirty magazines or X-rated videos.

Some how he managed to talk our pastor into letting him give a presentation on why pornography was detrimental to our society. For 25 minutes or so on this one Wednesday evening, I fidgeted uncomfortably as he graphically described sexual deviancy from the pulpit of my church. Being in mixed company with young children present as he describe porn was bad enough, but what made me sick was him dishonoring God's people by subjecting them to sinful images just because he thought "we need to know what's going on."

glamour

With that introduction I have some questions and comments I would like to share with the friends of Driscoll who think this guy is a qualified preacher who is doing much to further the kingdom of God:

- Why is it even necessary for him to graphically address the topic of sex from the pulpit? Take for instance the message he gave at a Scottish church. Why was it necessary for him to name specific anatomical parts during his talk? Even if he used medical terminology, how exactly is describing reproductive organs a good thing for edification on a Sunday morning?

- Do any of Driscoll's defenders even care if young children were present with their parents to hear his sexually charged talks? I would imagine not, seeing a good portion of them are probably not married. I happen to be a parent of young boys. My wife and I do all we can to protect them from our sexually perverse culture, but now, parents have to protect their children from a Church service, too? Will church services be subject to a rating system so I can know whether or not I should attend the particular service? I am amazed that parents who would otherwise be outraged if a radical teacher exposed their 10 year olds to sexual material in a public school class room want to give Driscoll a pass on his sex talks because he is supposedly a gifted communicator and has a big ministry in Seattle and is teaching the Bible.

- Additionally, Driscoll is a public figure whose influence sways thousands and he speaks his sex talk in a public forum. That makes him open for any and all criticism, regardless if he is being “discipled” by naïve, big name mentors. If Todd Bentley, the grandma smashing evangelist in Florida, were being discipled by a fellow Pentecostal like Gordon Fee or Michael Brown, I don't believe any of Driscoll's defenders would insist Bentley was above public scrutiny and would demand we talk with him privately first before we pointed out his ministry was clownish.

- Then lastly, and I say this with sober-faced fear and trembling: I am fearful Driscoll is in danger of rushing headlong to a scandal. I do not wish at all a calamity like that to befall him. I pray it will never happen, because it would be more than just grievous, but could possibly have catastrophic consequences. But let us be frank: many of the major scandals in the past 20 years or so involving pastors falling from ministry revealed later an unhealthy preoccupation with denouncing sexual sin or secret sins in their sermons. I truly hope I am overreacting, but I don't believe the Proverbs speak in vain on the urgency of guarding our hearts.

I am reminded of what the Scriptures say of Rehoboam in 2 Kings 12:8, But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. The new king rejected the wise words of his elders and heeded the foolish naivety of his young and restless friends. As a result, the nation was divided and set in motion patterns of rebellion which only plunged the people of Israel into judgment. I do hope these young men who are enamored with Mark Driscoll's notoriety will come to hear the warnings of their elders.

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Monday, January 02, 2012

Girl Toys

Right before Christmas, I was alerted to an article written by a mush-minded progressive mother who wonders why "society" gets upset if one of her sons was to enjoy playing with the new "girly" Legos. She gushes how he loves pink and all things feminine and soft, so he would LOVE playing with the new feminized Legos. The mother doesn't care if they are toys meant for girls and if he gets his culturally defined "gender roles" all messed up.

This mother's mentally deranged parenting aside, I wanted to fix our attention on this little note at the top of the article:

Editor's Note: Kelly Byrom is HLNtv.com's Art Director and the mother of three children. She and her husband are committed to encouraging and supporting their daughter and both of their sons to follow their hearts and be true to themselves. Boys in tutus don't scare them at all.

Zero in upon the second sentence: "She and her husband are committed to encouraging and supporting their daughter and both of their sons to follow their hearts and be true to themselves."

That sentence is a hypocritical falsehood. Initially, I almost wrote "a lie," but upon second thought, I don't think she and her husband intend to deceive people about their parenting. I think they both, particularly the mother/author, sincerely believe they practice this philosophy of allowing their children to "follow their hearts."

It is better to call this philosophy a hypocritical falsehood because I would bet a Costco ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and smothered in praline almond chunks, that if pressed, neither parent honestly practice this philosophy. They are words merely meant to sweeten up the sensibilities of their lefty friends.

In fact, there isn't a parent worth his or her salt who lets children "follow their hearts."

Think about it, children are essentially stupid idiots. Of course they are sweet, cuddly, and cute idiots who bring laughter and joy to our lives, but they are idiots none the less. They have to be trained. They have to be shepherded. It is why Paul writes to the Ephesians that when children obey their parents, they will live long upon the earth (Eph. 6:3). That is because if children are allowed to "follow their hearts," they wouldn't live long upon the earth. They would be mauled by tigers, or choke to death on marbles, or drink antifreeze, or eat so much candy and ice cream that they would die from a diabetic coma and this after their teeth had rotted out of their heads.

If I were to allow my children to "follow their hearts," they would go without bathing for days on end, eat nothing but waffles and mac and cheese, and sit in the living room playing Wii for 12 hours straight. (Almost sounds like a 25 year-old video gamer).

Anyways, in spite of being the good liberals that she and her husband profess their family is, I bet Kelly Byrom's children would do the very same thing if they were allowed to "follow their hearts." That's why I say that editor's note is a hypocritical falsehood; she doesn't practice what she preaches.

Now. This comment is being made within the context of an article designed to subvert the normal gender roles clear thinking societies have naturally established for men and women. Kelly is taking a stand for supposedly effeminate little boys who are exhorted by moron parents to one day grow up to become sodomites, or cross-dressers, or even worse, sex-changers who will mutilate their bodies. She's wanting to stick it in the eye of all those dinosaurish, progressively backward, red-state evangelicals who listen to Focus on the Family all the time and love Sarah Palin.

But I wonder...

I know of a situation where a teenager, raised by one of these couples who practice this "we let our children follow their own heart" philosophy, came home one day from high school to inform his parents he believed in intelligent design. They went "ballistic" and had him removed from that school because, "no son of ours is gonna learn that Jesus nonsense."

Along a similar line, if in the future, one of Kelly's sons comes home from school and announces he was now a Bible-believing, evangelical Christian and he believes homosexuality is a sin, would she and her husband let him follow his heart and be true to himself?. or will a boy carrying a Bible scare them to death?

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