Saturday, January 04, 2014
Thanks, friends, for sharing your thoughts and concerns re: my appearing on the Benny Hinn show. While I’m quite aware that some of you feel he is the ultimate false teacher and charlatan while others believe him to be a wonderful man of God, I have actually not monitored his ministry over the years. When I received the invitation to appear on the show, I felt I was to take it and exalt Jesus the Messiah and expose hyper-grace (and exalt true grace) to millions of viewers. And since Pastor Hinn seems very desirous of further interaction with me, I would encourage those of you who have grave concerns about his ministry to pray that God would use me to be a blessing in his life.”)
We've traveled in different circles over the years. Simple. And I don't watch Christian TV.
Let’s just say that Benny Hinn was as bad as some of you say. Why shouldn’t I reach his audience with gospel truth for five days, even if it means some people will be upset with me?
Friday, January 03, 2014
According to the following snippet from the NY Times, Roger Olson said:
Some non-Calvinists say that the rise of Calvinism has been accomplished in part through sneaky methods. Roger E. Olson, a Baylor University professor and the author of "Against Calvinism," is the Calvinists' most outspoken critic.
"One of the concerns is that new graduates from certain Baptist seminaries have been infiltrating churches that are not Calvinist, and not telling the churches or search committees who are not Calvinist," Professor Olson said. According to what he has heard, young preachers "wait several months and then begin to stock the church library with books" by Calvinists like John Piper and Mark Driscoll. They hold special classes on Calvinist topics, he said, and they staff the church with fellow Calvinists.
"Often the church ends up splitting, with the non-Calvinists starting their own church," Professor Olson said.
Olson has elsewhere said:
Due to the rise of what my friend Scot McKnight calls "neo-Puritanism" (what others have labeled "the new Calvinism" or just "resurgent Calvinism") TULIP Calvinism is popping up in places it does not belong. Especially young men are reading John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, even Michael Horton, and taking this new found theology "home" with them into the denominations they grew up in or have joined. Often those denominations are historically averse to Calvinism–such as Wesleyan-Holiness, Pentecostal and Anabaptist ones.
Often these denominations did not have the foresight to expect this influx of "young, restless, Reformed" people and so never wrote statements of faith that explicitly excluded TULIP. Their whole, entire ethoses were contrary to TULIP, however, and "five point Calvinism" is completely foreign to their histories and theologies.
I receive e-mail all the time (too many to respond to) from pastors, lay people, and even theologians (college, university and seminary professors) informing me about this infection of Calvinism in their denominations and related institutions. Usually they want some advice about how to handle this.
Now, let's be clear about what I'm talking about and am NOT talking about. Many denominations are historically-theologically, confessionally Calvinist. Of course I'm not talking about them. They are where Calvinists belong!
- Pretty ironic. On the one hand, Olson has often professed to be "moderate" and "progressive" minded in the past. But on the other hand, he's arguing for the status quo here.
- A Catholic living during the Reformation might have responded to Olson's line of thinking by saying something like:
The Reformation is popping up in places it does not belong. Especially young men are reading John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale, and taking this new found theology "home" with them into the parishes they grew up in or have joined.
Often those parishes are historically averse to Reformation theology. Often these parishes did not have the foresight to expect this influx of "sola fide, sola Scriptura, sola Christus, sola gratia, soli Deo gloria" Reformation people and so never wrote statements of faith that explicitly excluded Reformation theology. Their whole, entire ethoses were contrary to Reformation theology, however, and the five solas are completely foreign to their histories and theologies.
I receive letters all the time (too many to respond to) from priests, lay people, and even theologians (college, university and seminary professors) informing me about this infection of the Reformation in their parishes and related institutions. Usually they want some advice about how to handle this.
I suppose, though, that Olson is a notch better than this imaginary Catholic in that Olson would at least allow Calvinists to remain in their enclaves rather than root them out!
- Or take first century Israel. A Pharisee or Sadducee could respond in the same way Olson has responded:
This Jesus is popping up in places he does not belong. Especially young men, fishermen, tax collectors, and other sinners are following him, and taking his new found theology "home" with them into the synagogues they grew up in or have joined.
Point being, Olson has tied much of this to history, but history changes and, more importantly, history isn't indexed to biblical truth.
- What about all the open theists and moderate or progressive Christians like Olson infiltrating conservative churches? I'm not necessarily talking about Reformed or Calvinist churches. But many Arminian churches would not like to see pastors and other workers who share Olson's theology in their churches. Does Olson tell these progressive Christians to stick to where they belong too?
- Another issue is Olson's allegation that seminary graduates who bring Calvinist theology into non-Calvinistic churches are somehow behaving in a less than forthright manner.
- Sorry if I don't take Olson at his word on this.
Olson makes it sound like this is a near epidemic. Maybe it is quite widespread. (I'd personally be pleased if so since Calvinism far better reflects what the Bible teaches than what Olson espouses. But that's another debate.)
However, before we can reach this conclusion, let's note, for a start, that Olson's data about the Calvinist "infection" originate from emails with "pastors, lay people, and even theologians." How reliable are his sources? How objective are they, and how objective is Roger Olson? Wouldn't people emailing Olson who is quite a public and known and outspoken entity against Calvinism to complain about Calvinism in their churches potentially be fairly biased themselves?
Another question we could ask. How representative are these emails? Has Olson taken into account emails that suggest their churches are non-Calvinistic churches? Or maybe all the emails are from a handful of churches or institutions.
- I'm curious if Olson's open theism and other "moderate" and "progressive" views would be accepted by his Baptist denomination. If not, then why's he complaining about Calvinist seminary graduates? If so, then his denomination could do with more biblical fidelity for starters.
- It's not clear to me if these seminary graduates are church frequenters or attendees or the like (laity), or if they serve in some leadership role such as are pastoral candidates or the like.
If the former, then why is it a problem? What if an atheist attends their church? Is church attendance say on Sunday mornings only for people whose beliefs line up with the church's on every or nearly every point? (Of course, some churches require membership, but Olson hasn't drawn this distinction, I don't think.)
If the latter, then it may be the seminarian hasn't been forthright about his theology, but it may also be the church hasn't bothered to vet a candidate. For instance, Mark Dever mentioned in the NYT article that the hiring committee for Capitol Hill Baptist didn't even ask him about his theology.
- What if these seminarians entered seminary as non-Calvinists, even while attending their same "home" church, but through their studies became convinced of Calvinism? They'd still be part of their local church even though their views changed. Are these the sorts of people Olson is talking about? We don't know, for Olson doesn't specify.
Has Olson changed his mind on important theological points since he was accepted into his current denomination?
- Sorry if I don't take Olson at his word on this.
Pope Francis: “Sin Boldly”
If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness, but, as Peter says, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner [LW 48:281-282].
Meanwhile, here is the context of Bishop Bergoglio’s remarks:
Priests, brothers, and sisters in Catholic religious orders around the globe should “wake up the world” by being “real witnesses” [they have been fake witnesses so far?] to a counter-cultural way of life that relies on generosity and self-forgetfulness, Pope Francis told a meeting of superiors general of religious orders in November.
Those religious, the pope also added, should also not be afraid of making mistakes or even committing sins.
“You should be real witnesses of a world doing and acting differently, “ the pope told some 120 leaders of male religious orders during a closed-door Nov. 29 meeting at the Vatican, according to a new account of the event released Friday by the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica.
“But in life it is difficult for everything to be clear, precise, outlined neatly,” the pope continued. “Life is complicated; it consists of grace and sin.”
“He who does not sin is not human,” said the pope. “We all make mistakes and we need to recognize our weaknesses. A religious who recognizes himself as weak and a sinner does not negate the witness that he is called to give, rather he reinforces it, and this is good for everyone.”
Maybe some day Rome will figure out what the Reformation was all about.
Dr Brown, since you're fine with lending your credibility to men who are clearly and obviously heretical false teachers who are in the religious business for their own material gain, and when called on it willing to defend your actions with an appeal to ignorance about their teachings, when are you going to be inviting Vissarion on your show to talk about evangelism in Russia, the fall of the USSR, living for God while in a harsh environment, and what he thinks of Israel?
The ability to self-correct is considered a hallmark of science. However, self-correction does not always happen to scientific evidence by default. The trajectory of scientific credibility can fluctuate over time, both for defined scientific fields and for science at-large. History suggests that major catastrophes in scientific credibility are unfortunately possible and the argument that “it is obvious that progress is made” is weak. Careful evaluation of the current status of credibility of various scientific fields is important in order to understand any credibility deficits and how one could obtain and establish more trustworthy results. Efficient and unbiased replication mechanisms are essential for maintaining high levels of scientific credibility. Depending on the types of results obtained in the discovery and replication phases, there are different paradigms of research: optimal, self-correcting, false nonreplication, and perpetuated fallacy. In the absence of replication efforts, one is left with unconfirmed (genuine) discoveries and unchallenged fallacies. In several fields of investigation, including many areas of psychological science, perpetuated and unchallenged fallacies may comprise the majority of the circulating evidence. I catalogue a number of impediments to self-correction that have been empirically studied in psychological science. Finally, I discuss some proposed solutions to promote sound replication practices enhancing the credibility of scientific results as well as some potential disadvantages of each of them. Any deviation from the principle that seeking the truth has priority over any other goals may be seriously damaging to the self-correcting functions of science.
Leon Brown has been inveighing against Hostess inspired and other snack related racial stereotypes (e.g. see here).
But I submit the real danger lies in a different direction: North!
Specifically, the mighty maple leaf land we know as our friendly neighbourhood (translation: neighborhood) Canada.
I don't mean to say Canadians are the danger. Although in ice hockey and tuque themed headdress fashion shows that would doubtless go without saying. Canadians ask for no quarter, and no quarter is given. (Unless someone is in need of spare change, in which case I've found Canadians are more than happy to assist with a 25-cent piece caribou coin or more.)
Rather I believe Canadians are the ones in danger. They're the ones facing unjust discrimination for nothing more than being polite Canadians.
Whatever do I mean? Have I gone crazy? «Est-ce que j'ai des bébites dans ma tête? Mais non!» (Translation: "Enjoy our delicious poutine, or we'll separate from you!")
Each Canadian resident who is a potential winner will be required to answer correctly a mathematical skill testing question without assistance of any kind whether mechanical or otherwise to be declared a Winner and be eligible to collect a prize.
It would appear Disney has not required other nationalities to do the same in order to win a family vacation to the happiest place on Earth. Why does Uncle Walt and company single out the kind Canucks? And with "a mathematical skill testing question" no less?
It's not as if potential American or British or South African or Singaporean or other winners have to calculate, say, the exact time down to the nth decimal point it takes light to travel from the Sun to Pluto (the astronomical object formerly known as a planet, not the pup) without so much as a piece of paper and pencil, right?
So, Disney, what's all this really aboot (translation: about)?
Patrick aka rice rocket Twinkiengineer, in solidarity with my True North brethren.
Thursday, January 02, 2014
It’s been a couple weeks since the brouhaha, enough time to get a little perspective on the controversy.
Meanwhile, fans flocked to Twitter and FaceBook to express their support of the show and the Robertson family.
First off, let’s not be melodramatic. It’s hard to make Phil Robertson out to be a martyr and when there really are such things as martyrs.If anything, the debacle simply shows us how unpopular it is to say that homosexuality is a sin, but also how unpopular it is to suspend an outspoken, self-proclaimed Bible-thumper for, well, thumping the Bible.
The popularity of Duck Dynasty is a double-edged sword for evangelicals. The show reinforces the stereotype that devout Christians are a bunch of backwards rednecks.
So, even if I’m glad that Duck Dynasty has an audience, and that this family is seeking to remain faithful to their religious convictions, I would still caution evangelicals against making Phil Robertson our spokesman. He’s a brilliant marketer and businessman, but he shouldn’t be our mouthpiece.
First off, he was unnecessarily crude in his remarks.
Secondly, he minimized the pervasiveness of sin in the way he commented on the issue.
Third, though Robertson talks about salvation through Christ without mentioning baptism, he belongs to a church that believes baptism is essential for salvation.
In the end, let’s take a deep breath and get some perspective.
We don’t pin our hopes to a television show, no matter how popular.
Celebrity television stars come and go; it’s the Word of the Lord that stands forever.
A few days ago, Steve linked to RD Miksa's post on the reliability of eyewitness testimony. It's well worth the read. I agree with and appreciate most of what Miksa said on eyewitness testimonial evidence.
I'd also like to add what little I can to what Miksa said about eyewitness testimony often trumping scientific evidence.
|Roman Catholicism: How Myth Becomes Dogma|
In my last blog post, on the topic of The Roman Catholic “Eucharist”: Accretions, Equivocations, and Anachronism, I cited Paul Bradshaw, a Professor of Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame, from his work “The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship” (Second Edition, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, ©1992, ©2002). Bradshaw, an Anglican professor of liturgy at Notre Dame, was very clear about the state of the evidence:
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
The issue of why Matthew would use Mark's material repeatedly comes up in McGrath's thread. I've written on the subject elsewhere, like here. The theory that the fourth gospel was written by some John other than the apostle also comes up. I've addressed that argument many times, such as here.
at which they toil under the sun?
but the earth remains forever (1:3-4).
what has been done will be done again (1:9).
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them (1:11).
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
that the same fate overtakes them both.
What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
“This too is enigmatic.”
the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die! (2:14-16).
and as everyone comes, so they depart.
They take nothing from their toil
that they can carry in their hands (5:15).
the living should take this to heart (7:2).
who can tell someone else what is to come? (8:7).
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them (9:11-12).
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment (11:9).
Happy New Year, everyone!
A good way to kick off the year is to acquaint oneself with the Bible to acquaint oneself with its Author.
With this in mind, Christian Audio is offering the ESV on audio for free. Please see here.
Also, Justin Taylor has several Bible reading plans to help.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
What is yellow on the outside but white on the inside? If you guessed a "banana," though the inside appears more cream than white, you would be close. The answer is, a twinkie. Have you eaten one? They are fairly inexpensive and only about 135 calories. If you eat too many you might get a stomachache. There is definitely not enough sugar in these bite-size snacks to give you a significant energy boost like Red Bull or Starbucks coffee. Nevertheless, they are fairly tasty. Eat them. Yes! Use that term to describe people. No!
In response to my brief blog post titled, "Listen Up White America," a dear friend responded to me by email. He described some of his experiences as a Korean Presbyterian pastor. He said that the black experience in Reformed and Presbyterian "churches are very similar to what I have experienced. The most interesting part of it is that those racial experiences didn't happen to me until I arrived at [said seminary] and entered the larger (i.e., outside of the Reformed Korean-American community) Reformed circles. [M]any people at [said seminary] assumed I didn't speak English. It was ridiculous."
He went on to say that he believes Asians, though he can intimately speak as a Korean, are seen either as twinkies (i.e., yellow on the outside, white on the inside) or non-English speaking asians," what he called, "F.O.B.," which means "fresh off the boat." He said, "Most would initially identify us as the latter. It's sad, but it's the truth…But I see changes... [Asians are] slowly shedding the image of kung-fu kicking Bruce Lee out of people's heads..."
OreoA racist slur and schoolyard name based on racist stereotypes wrongly assuming that intelligence, articulateness, dapperness, and manners are traits of whites and not blacks. Therefore, a black who possesses these traits is an oreo, white on the inside and black on the outside. A corollary slur is banana, yellow (Asian) on the outside and white on the inside.
twinkieAn asian person who is either adopted or living in a white community. Hence, yellow on the outside and white on the inside.
twinkyAn asian who acts like a white person, hangs out with white people, dresses like a white person, etc. Basicly, yellow on the outside, white on the inside. Used as an insult.
oreoA insulting termed often used by blacks to derogate other blacks as "Black on the outside, white on the inside." White on the inside meaning anything from speaking proper english, getting good grades, liking music that isn't hip hop, rap or R&B and having a diverse group of friends.
oreoTerm for African Americans that the black community is generally offended with for betraying their roots usually for dating caucasion girls, dressing too white, talking too white, etc. The term is branded OREO since they are "Black on the outside, White on the inside"
oreoA Black African American person who, because he/she has the desire to make a success of their life, has gained the wrath of foolish Black African Americans who have decided to make a shambles of their own. Often OREO's are educated, intelligent, and the respect of the business community. Thus, in the eyes of the dominant Black African American community, they are "guilty" of being "White" on the inside.
oreoA stereotype created by blacks to be used for other blacks who are "black on the outside, white on the inside". Black being their skin color, and white meaning to display characteristics of a "white" person, therefore "betraying their black roots".
These characteristics being (but not limited to), raised in an environment that's NOT the projects, speaking proper english/very limited use of slang, having an eclectic taste in music, having a diverse group of friends, being well-educated, being legitimately employed, not abusing the welfare system, being well-mannered and civilized, saves money for college instead of bling and cheap grills, and wearing nice clothes that are not Roca Wear, Sean Jean, Baby Phat and so on.
Most blacks confuse the "oreo" stereotype to being "bourgie", which is a very rude, stuck-up black, who thinks they are more "high-class" than they really are.
This stereotype is stupid, and apparently stems from the fear most nigg3rs have of success. Blacks believe that unless you are a talentless rapper, a professional athlete, or "gangsta", it is impossible to be successful without being an "oreo".
In the coming months I hope to write a 6-part series on some of the issues surrounding ethnicity in (broadly speaking) Reformed and Presbyterian circles. On the one hand, I am fully aware that many people do not believe there are any problems. I normally receive this response from those in the majority. Though I overstate my case for the purposes of this illustration, to say there are no problems is like the slave owner telling the slave, "Everything is okay." The slave owner is not aware, or perhaps suppresses, the myriad of issues surrounding the establishment because he is the superior; he is the majority. From the slave's perspective, however, issues abound. I do not categorize whites in Reformed and Presbyterian Churches today as slave owners nor do I classify African-Americans (or non-whites) in the aforementioned circles as slaves. However, based on personal study, numerous conversations, and personal experience, I think it is clear that we look through a different lens much like the slave and slave owner.