Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What Arminians wish there was: Net Finney Guards Families Against the Harmful Effects of Calvinism

THIS IS A JOKE (See Below)
Tominthebox News Network

It is a situation that is becoming all too common. An unsuspecting individual begins to innocently search the internet for information on a particular subject and suddenly finds his or herself faced with the perils of Reformed theology.

"I was helping my ten-year-old son do a repo
rt on American Government." Said Kenneth Lyons, a concerned parent. "We were about to research America's election process, so we went to Google and typed in "election." The phone rang and I stepped out for no more than 5 minutes, and when I returned I found Eric reading some article by a guy named R.C. Sproul about believers being "elected" and "predestined" by God for salvation. I just freaked out! I didn't know what to do."

ons' story is not unique. Families and entire churches are discovering daily the theological risks of surfing the internet.

"We lost our pastor to this mess." Said Olivia Karnes, a member of Lynchburg Church of God. "We had begun to notice that Brother Smith's preaching was changing. He started preaching through Ephesians every Sunday. The next thing he did was he stopped doing altar calls! Then it all came out one Sunday. They found sermons on his computer from all these Calvinist guys and links to blogs like The Pyromaniacs, and Calvinist Gadfly. There was no choice. We had to let him go. Our church is still healing from this crushing blow."

But it was these kinds of stories that prompted a team of students and professors at Liberty University to develop a software that would protect people from accidentally or intentionally being exposed to Calvinism on the internet. Net Finney, named for the famous 19th-century Pelagian evangelist Charles Finney, effectively filters out 99.9% of Calvinist and Reformed literature and media on the internet.

"We think this is a tremendous step in stopping the spread of Reformed materials." Said Dr. Ergun Caner, president of Liberty University's theological seminary. "Now parents can rest easy letting their kids surf the web without the fear that they will turn into Calvinists."

In addition to blocking Calvinist and Reformed media the software will automatically filter any Calvinistic content out of sermons by renowned 19th-century Baptist minister Charles H. Spurgeon.

"It's an exciting development." Said Pastor James Yeates of New Hope Baptist Church, Lynchburg. "This Calvinism thing is literally infecting our Southern Baptist Churches. I hope this helps put a stop to things."
Tominthebox News Network
Yazoo City, Mississippi, US

Tominthebox News Network® is a satirical online blog written by Thomas Slawson. All names of people or places mentioned in stories are fictional, except when a public figure is being satarized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The purpose of this is to make a point through the use of satire. Soli Deo Gloria!

Self- Defense


The video below shows two thugs standing in a path in some sort of park. An apparent third thug is supposed to capture the thuggery on video for the amusement of idiots and creeps. What he instead captures is an impressive display of skill, and some amazing restraint near the end. One of the thugs swings his arm and smacks a woman right in the face. Her male partner responds by quickly dispatching both of the punks quicker than you can say, "Wow, that guy really knows how to throw down when he needs to!"

I notice three things from this video:

1. The man who defends himself and his neighbor acts so quickly, and so decisively, that he surely was aware of his surroundings, and was prepared to act should trouble arise. So, our first lesson, is to be aware of your surroundings -- especially when guys are just lingering around with seemingly nothing to do.

2. The man defending himself and his neighbor is clearly trained in what I would guess to be boxing. He fights like he's done this 1000 times before. Our second lesson then, is be prepared to defend yourself. You may have to use it someday.

3. At the very end, the man shows great restraint once it appears the threat is over. He does not "ground and pound" anyone, no kicks to a downed opponent, nothing like that. He just stops them, drops them, and walks away. It seems to me that the vigor in which he goes to town on them can be explained by the fact that he is out numbered, and must overwhelm two opponents in order to be safe -- fending off one guy is hard enough without having to keep your head on a swivel so that other guy doesn't get you from behind. Our third lesson is, in a self defense situation, do enough to stop the immediate threat and no more. "If your temper rises, withdraw your hand. If your hand rises, withdraw your temper."

DON'T watch this video if guys getting punched make you faint or anything. I train in Karate because I HATE violence, and so I'm not posting this in order to glory in violence. I post this as a lesson for those of us who are conscious about keeping ourselves safe from violence.


Book Review - The Art of Worship

Reviewed by Bob Kauflin @

Art_of_worship Last week I had the privilege of speaking and leading worship at the Calvin Worship Symposium in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Why I chose to go to Michigan in January is a question I still haven't answered.

On Thursday, I taught an all-day seminar called Musical Arranging for God's Glory. I shared thoughts not only on ways we can arrange music, but suggested three biblical reasons behind the choices we make: to serve the word of Christ, to serve the context, and to serve the congregation. Hosting me that day was a gentleman named Greg Scheer, whose book, The Art of Worship: A Musician's Guide to Leading Modern Worship has recently been published by Baker. I had started reading Greg's book a few weeks earlier, and was delighted I was going to meet him. I wanted to personally thank him for writing what I think is one of the best practical guides for those who lead congregational worship with a band. Here's my review.

Greg states in the Introduction that he doesn't want to convince traditional musicians to defect into the contemporary camp. He's not out to "convert" but to serve. He wants to "enable church musicians of all kinds to better understand one of the dominant musical languages of modern worship, to be thoroughly equipped to lead that style, and to foster communication among the musicians of the church of Jesus Christ" (p. 12). He has done just that, and done it extremely well.

Greg never wastes the reader's time. Every paragraph is purposeful, helpful, and based on years of experience. He also recommends numerous resources throughout. The first chapter addresses reasons why a church might decide to use a more contemporary music style and how to go about it. It's filled with pastoral wisdom. Chapter 2, "Assembling the Team," contains the most comprehensive and helpful material I've seen on conducting music auditions, or interviews. The third chapter, "Building Repertoire," provides many helpful categories for evaluating songs, and also highlights the different strengths of hymns and contemporary worship songs.

In Chapter 4, "Planning Worship," he shares principles that can be applied in liturgical, thematic, or free-flowing worship settings. Again, he offers many practical, concise ways to think about a service. His section on modulations will help anyone who has wondered how to change keys skillfully. Chapter 5, "Making Music," is the longest chapter, and rightly so. He takes time to spell out the purpose and usefulness of every instrument in the modern worship band, starting with the vocals, and moving on to the rhythm section and various solo and orchestral instruments. He makes it clear that the instruments should support the sound of the congregation, but encourages using them to the fullest for that purpose. Any church music team that suffers from muddiness, overplaying, or poor arranging would benefit from careful study and application of this chapter. He also shares specific thoughts with sound engineers on how to make individual instruments sound best in a band context.

Chapter 6, "Timeless Hymns in a Contemporary Context," briefly addresses the how and why of updating hymns. While communicating a deep respect for two thousand years of hymnody, Greg also realizes that, "if we care about the great hymns of our faith, we need to find ways of building bridges between old hymns and new worship contexts" (p. 182). He encourages a thorough knowledge of a hymn's lyric, melody, harmony, and purpose before changing it, and offers practical ideas on how to do so.

The book finishes out with two chapters on "Rehearsing and Leading" and "Looking to the Future." Both are filled with specific, clear, practical counsel. In addition to Spirit-led planning, he also encourages an ongoing dependence on God's Spirit during the meeting. "This may mean repeating a song more times than you had anticipated, changing your funky arrangement of a song into a slow ballad, or even choosing a different song on the spot" (p. 210). Wise counsel. I found his thoughts on rehearsals very thorough, but wished his section on song leading was filled out and more theologically driven.

I had just a few quibbles with the book. Greg states that "in a very real way, music mediates the worshiper's experience of God in the Praise & Worship context" (p. 212). I'm uncomfortable referring to anything other than Jesus as a mediator between us and God, and it seems what we often think is an experience of God is actually an experience of music. I would also have appreciated a greater emphasis on theological foundations, the Gospel, and heart issues. But then it would have been a much longer book.

In any case, I highly recommend The Art of Worship for any pastor or corporate worship leader who currently uses or is thinking of using contemporary music in their service. This book should be around for a long time.

The Call of the Disciple: Christ's Martyrs

By Paul Huxley @

Question: What word, deriving from the Greek word for witness refers to a person who gives up their life for a cause?

I'm pretty sure I heard a question something like this on The Weakest Link not too long ago. Having been equipped with my ESV Greek-English Reverse Interlinear Bible, I already knew the word. Martyr.

It occurs to me that the word barely requires translation. We who have been called to be witnesses for Christ are called to give up our lives for him.

'And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”'
(Luke 9:23-27)

Terrifying. Those who are ashamed of Christ will be denied by him. If you have a choice between your life and Jesus and you choose your life, you lose. Big time.

This is a massive call. Westerners like me like to think that although we're afraid to speak freely about Jesus to our friends and neighbours, put a gun to our heads and we won't be afraid then. Cockfosters. I find it amazing that although I can act without a hint of shame doing trivial, entertaining nonsense, I find myself cracking under the pressure to simply tell somenoe about Jesus. The best news in the world. Isn't this the time to cry "I need Jesus!"?

Yet it doesn't stop there. Jesus wants everything. He calls for everything. He demands everything. He wants me to be a living dead man (Romans 12:1). Every hope, desire, plan and dream must be laid at Jesus' feet. This is hugely hard. Particularly if you're a sinner, and think that you always know best.

What a treasure awaits us though! It may be hidden in a field, and cost us all that we own to buy it, but boy, will it be worth it.

Jesus wants witnesses to his glory. He wants martyrs, living dead men to follow him. Ask Jesus for help.

Does God Accept Unscriptural Service or Work?

An Excerpt of an article by Kent Brandenburg @

You see the question above. What do you think? I would think that most of you would answer: No. God will not accept something unscriptural. If it is unscriptural, then it doesn’t please Him. Lots comes to mind, but let’s start with Hebrews 11:6 that “without faith, it is impossible to please Him.” We are sanctified by the truth, not our feelings or opinions (John 17:17). God is Holy.

I think of Caan. God didn’t accept his well-meant labor. Nor did God accept Saul’s early sacrifices or Uzzah’s touching the Ark. Salvation itself is exclusive—”no man cometh unto the Father but by” Him (John 14:6) and “neither is there salvation in any other” than Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Many will say a whole bunch of things, but Christ will say He never knew them (Matthew 7:21-23). Christ didn’t come to bring peace but a sword. He’s a Divider. He separates the sheep from the goats, the tares from the wheat. We give God a lot of leniency where He doesn’t actually have it.

He’s longsuffering. That’s for sure. He’s merciful. Definitely. But He doesn’t accept the work that is done our way. That’s wood, hay, and stubble (1 Corinthians 3). Our labor is not in vain in Him (1 Corinthians 15:58). Everything else is vain though. He keeps giving us opportunities to get it right, but we have to get it right. Everything we do should be regulated by Scripture and especially worship. I mean, God will use His Word. He will bless through His Word. He even uses evil nations in His Divine Providence. That doesn’t mean He accepts what they do

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yes, I See That Hand . . .

by Kim Riddlebarger @

Jeffrey Dahmer was a brutal killer and deserved life in prison, if not the death penalty.

Supposedly, Jeffrey Dahmer become a Christian while in prison, and his pastor actually felt that he had the gifts to become an effective evangelist before his death at the hands of another inmate. Click here: Would serial killer Dahmer have been an evangelist? | US News |

This raises a number of interesting and troubling questions. No doubt the grace of God can reach even Jeffrey Dahmer. But Jeffrey Dahmer as an evangelist? That's a tough one. The pastor who baptized Dahmer is writing a book about Dahmer's 1994 conversion. How objective is the author? And if Dahmer actually became a Christian (and it would be wonderful if he did) what would repentance look like in the case of a man who killed 17 boys, raped many more, and cannibalistically consumed many of them? What would the families of his victims think?

And then there's the added problem of Christopher Scarver, who killed Dahmer in prison because he claimed "God told him to." Makes you wonder about providence . . .

This whole thing raises a lot of interesting questions. There's certainly no question that even a Jeffrey Dahmer is not beyond the reach of God's grace--the merits of Christ are no doubt sufficient to justify the vilest sinner. Let's hope this was not just another jail house conversion with the goal of more prison privileges, or crass a ploy to sell some books.

But the cynic in me says that Dahmer sure would have an interesting testimony!


By Brian Thornton @

Some of you may already be familiar with this, but an article over at is the first I have heard of it. Apparently, churches are utilizing the music of U2 in their communion services to increase interest and beef up attendance. The article says that the Church of England has announced it is to use the songs of a global supergroup in an effort to boost congregations.”

Another article from last October says, “It may not qualify as a mini-Reformation, but a Communion service driven by the music of singer Bono and his U2 bandmates is catching on at Episcopal churches across the country.”

I’ve got to hand it them, churches sure are getting more and more creative these days.

Two young girls comment on this type of service:

“It makes you, like, warm inside,” says Bridgette Roberts, 15, who is a Roman Catholic and attended a recent U2 Eucharist at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. “Usually at church, you love Jesus and everything. But this way you can express how you feel.”

Says her friend, Natalie Williams, 17: “I love Bono, and you can rock out to the music. But in church, you hear it in a different way. It’s like new.”

My only question is, where’s the Gospel in all of this?

Do You Have the Power of God?

by Kevin T. Bauder @

In The Nick of Time“Do you have the power of God?” The Great Man bellowed this question in a mock-Texas accent. With popping veins and a hoarse voice, he bawled out a second time, “I said, do you have the POWER of GOD!?” Clearly, he thought that the impressionable youngsters to whom he was speaking did not have that power. He went on to tell them what a bunch of failures most of them would likely become (not at all like him). God’s power, after all, was something reserved for the few. It came only to the spiritual equivalents of Abraham Lincoln and Douglas MacArthur. It had come to him, and he regaled his audience with tales of the revivals that he had wrought. Now he led a school, the whole purpose of which was to prepare the few; other students would be treated as so much chaff before the wind. Then he dropped his voice to something between a sob and a whisper for his closing question. “Do you have the power of God?”

Whether screamed or sobbed, the question seemed imposing as it dropped from the Great Man’s mouth. It was the kind of question that could send vulnerable adolescents to their dormitory basement to weep and yowl in the hope that God would maybe—just maybe—pour out His power upon them. Oh, to have the power of God!

Who among us would have the effrontery actually to claim to have God’s power? For anyone but the Great Man, would not such a claim smack of arrogance, perhaps even of megalomania?

No, it would not. In fact, knowing whether one has the power of God is rather a straightforward matter. You can know whether you have the power of God by answering a few simple questions.

First, do you have the gospel? On the authority of Holy Scripture, the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16). If you have heard and believed the gospel, then you have received the power of God. It is yours to use any time you wish. You can unleash the gospel on anyone, any time, anywhere. The preaching of the cross seems like foolishness to the lost, but those who are saved know that it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18). When you proclaim the gospel, you are unloosing a message that invariably changes things. You have the power of God.

Second, do you have a Bible? If you do, then you can hold the Word of God in your hands, and the Word of God is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:2). The Bible has incredible power! Any believer who knows how to use the Bible is able to unsheathe a mighty, spiritual sword. If you have the Bible, then you have the power of God.

Third, did you receive the Spirit when you believed? Jesus Himself foretold that His disciples would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:8). This was a clear reference to the events of Pentecost. Pentecost was the day upon which the Spirit commenced His baptizing work in the church (Acts 11:15-16). Most likely, Pentecost was also the day upon which the Holy Spirit began to indwell all New Testament saints (John 14:17). Both the baptizing work of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13) and His indwelling (Rom. 8:9) apply to every believer during this age. In other words, Jesus’ promise has been fulfilled. If you are saved, you have been baptized and indwelt by the Spirit of God. You have the power of God.

You can know whether you have the power of God. If you have the gospel, then you have the power of God. If you have the Bible, then you have the power of God. If you have the Spirit, then you have the power of God. To deny that you have the power of God is not humility, it is unbelief. To deny that another believer has the power of God is not piety; it is hubris and deception. God says that He has given His power to all believers. Who would dare to deny it?

But doesn’t God have some extra power, some extra anointing or enduement or unction that He makes available only to a few? Scripture answers this question, too. Writing to every Christian, the Apostle John states that “Ye have an unction from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20). John continues, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you” (1 John 2:27). There is no such thing as a believer who has not received this anointing from God.

The New Testament has nothing to say about any other anointing different from this one. God offers no special enduement, no separate unction, no second blessing. He gives us everything at the moment of our salvation. We may learn to take greater advantage of His gifts, but we never get more of them—we cannot, for He has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). No Great Man has any more of the power of God than the humblest saint. If they have genuinely believed, then the Bible college freshman, the factory laborer, and the elderly widow all possess the power of God. They have the gospel, the Word, and the Spirit. They are the Lord’s anointed.

The Great Man is fond of quoting, “Touch not the Lord’s anointed.” That is a good principle. Let’s hope that the Great Man remembers who the Lord’s anointed are. They are the ones who have the power of God.

Eternal Power!

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Eternal Power, Whose high abode
Becomes the grandeur of a God,
Infinite lengths beyond the bounds
Where stars resolve their little rounds!

The lowest step around Thy seat,
Rises too high for Gabriel’s feet;
In vain the favored angel tries
To reach Thine height with wond’ring eyes.

There while the first archangel sings,
He hides his face behind his wings,
And ranks of shining thrones around
Fall worshiping, and spread the ground.

Lord, what shall earth and ashes do?
We would adore our Maker, too;
From sin and dust to Thee we cry,
The Great, the Holy, and the High.

Earth from afar has heard Thy fame,
And worms have learned to lisp Thy Name;
But, O! the glories of Thy mind
Leave all our soaring thoughts behind.

God is in Heaven, and men below;
Be short our tunes, our words be few;
A solemn reverence checks our songs,
And praise sits silent on our tongues.Kevin Bauder


This essay is by Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Not every one of the professors, students, or alumni of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that it expresses.

Jesus Christ According To The Qu"ran - A Denial of The Person and Work of Jesus Christ

posted by Bartimaeus @

In November of 2006 Pope Benedict XVI removed his shoes and entered the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul. This was the second visit to a mosque by a Roman Pontiff. John Paul II had visited a mosque in 2001. The Pope made the visit to placate Muslim outrage about remarks he made in Germany about Mohammed. What is remarkable that this ‘so called” leader of Chrisendom would join together with Muslims in prayer as if Christians and Muslims worshipped the same God. You will hear from those in the media; from our vote hungry politicians and weak kneed Christian leaders that Jews Christians and Muslims worship the same God. But Christians fail to realize Islam is a missionary religion. They are actively seeking converts. Jihad is the means to struggle or strive with ones adversaries. Jihad is often referred to as the 6th pillar of Islam. In Islam ther are six types of Jihad. Two types of jihad are

Jihad by the tongue (jihad bil lisan) is a struggle of good against evil waged by writing and speech, such as in the form of Dawah (proselytizing), Khutbas (sermons), et al. It is one weapon in the jihadi arsenal.

Jihad by the sword (jihad bis saif) refers to qital fi sabilillah (armed fighting in the way of God, or holy war), the most common usage by Salafi Muslims and offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Islamic theology is to bring the entire world under Islamic domination and control. According to Muslim theologians the world is divided into seven regions. For our purposes we will examine two classifications or divisions.

Dar al-Islam literally house of submission) is a term used to refer to those lands under Muslim government(s). In the conservative tradition of Isalm the world is divided into two components: dar al-Islam, the house of submission and dar al-Harb, the house of war

Dar al-Harb "house of war") is a term used to refer to those areas outside Muslim rule. The term traditionally refers to those lands administered by non-Muslim governments. The exact definitions of these territories can vary widely according to the viewer's concept of who is and is not a Muslim, and which governments are or are not Muslim in practice. The inhabitants of the Dar al-Harb are called harbis.
The sole reason for the existence of Islam is a struggle against Christianity. On a human level if there was no Christianity there would be no Islam. Islam would have no reason to exist. Those who claim that Christianity can live in peaceful coexistence with Islam are at best incredibly naïve and at worst downright dishonest. When one reads a biography by even Muslim scholars on the life of Mohammed one readily see that Mohammed was a man of the sword. The very word Islam means submission. The Qu’ran is full of instructions on various ways of how to conduct warfare. The Qu’ran is a polemic against the Christian faith. The person and work of Christ is emphatically denied throughout the Qu’ran. The following are number of verses from the Qu’ran that speak of the Islamic concept of the nature of God and of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. To be sure that the Qu’ran will honour Jesus ad a great prophet. But the Christians must uderstan that Islam affirms that Mohammed was the greatest of all the prophets (greater than Jesus) and seal of all prophets confirming all that had had come before. The Qu’ran uses the term “Jesus son of Mary” though acknowledging the virgin birth is a direct refutation of the Christian claim that Jesus was the Son of God

The Qu’ran Denies the Triune God.

James White in his book the Forgotten Trinity defines the Triune God as “within the one being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Many Christians today have a fuzzy idea about the Trinity. Belief in the triune God is essential to salvation. If one denies the Trinity they are outside the pale of Christian orthodoxy and can be under no circumstances considered fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. A correct understanding of exactly what the Trinity is s just more evidence why theology matters. A fuzzy understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity has led to tragic consequences. The prime example historically is the coming of Islam. Consider the following verses in the Qu’ran and ask yourself that Mohammed have a correct understanding of the Trinity. At the same time keep in mind that the Qu’ran claims to be divine revelation and Mohammed is the prophet of Allah.

O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not "Trinity" : desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah. Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.

Surah 4:171

They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them

Sura 5:73

And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah.?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.

Sura 5:116


They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah. there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).

Surah 9:31

Now let me interject at this when you read these verse from the Qu’ran; do you get the impression that Mohammed may have misunderstood the doctrine . Mohammed’s conception of the Trinity seems very much like that tri-theistic Mormons. Note to who comprise the Trinity to Mohammed understanding Allah Mary his wife and Jesus the son of Mary
The Qu’ran Denies Jesus was the Only Begotten Son of God

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
And there is none like unto Him.
Surah 112:1-4

For the devout and pious Muslim this surah is the first thing he wants to hear when hie is born and the last thing he wants to hear when he dies. This again begs the gwustion; what did Mohammed understand when about Jesus being the only begotten?

The Qu’ran Denies Jesus was crucified.

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-
Surah 4:157 & 158

There the Qu’ran denies that Jesus was ever crucified Muslims assert that Jesus was taken up to heaven before the crucifixion and another was crucified in His place. Isalmic scholars differ who this may have been some will argue for Judas and others for Simon of Cyrene . The problem with the argument that Muslims have witth the argument of the crucifixion are the eye witness accounts of the actual events as opposed to the events as recorded in the Qu’ram six hundred years later. The disciples were with Jesus when he was arrested. John was at the foot of the cross and Jesus spoke directly to Mary his mother and to mother.

Jesus came to do the will of His Father. The will of the Father for Jesus was he lay down his life for the sheep. The will of the Father was that He (Jesus) would save His people (the elect) from their sins. The will of the Father for Jesus was that He (Jesus) give His life a ransom for many.

Experience Bible History on an Archaeological Dig

Suggestion from Kent Shaffer @

FindADig.comForget reading about it in your Archaeological Study Bible, now you can actually experience Bible history on an archaeological dig. The Biblical Archaeology Society is now offering you the chance to be an archaeologist with their new site

They need volunteers to help them excavate more than two dozen archaeological digs throughout Europe and the Middle East. Trip lengths vary, and expenses are affordable. It is a great opportunity for anyone interested in the archaeological aspects of Bible history.

The Jesus Love Revolution

Posted by Dan Edelen @
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
—2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV

Whenever I hear some smug sourpuss exclaim, “The word love isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Book of Acts,” I want to scream.

Why? Because the entire book is love! And not just Acts. Same goes for the other sixty-five books.

Sadly, the sourpuss understanding predominates in some of our churches. Too many Christians live as if love were the most foreign word in their vocabularies, and they’ll use any excuse not to say it, much less practice it.

This last year, if a lesson wrought in my life by the Holy Spirit has stuck more than any other, it’s this: Lead with love. Always.

And I’m not talking about tough love, because so-called tough love is the excuse of too many Christians to be tactless and self-righteous. I’m talking about this kind of love:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.
—John 15:13 ESV

Look who laid His life down for us, the ones He calls friends. Look who wept bitterly at the tomb of His dear friend, Lazarus. Look who purchased for Himself a Bride, a perfect, perpetual lover, one He bought with His own blood!

We sell Jesus short (and ourselves along with Him) when we give such short shrift to love.

God so loved us that He sent Jesus, whom He loved in divine fellowship with the Holy Spirit, to show us how to love perfectly. By love, Jesus served us, and died on a cross, choosing to prove His love for us and for the Father and the Spirit, by offering up His life. And from that spilled blood rose His Bride, the Church, whose entire language and practice is steeped in love.

No one had seen anything like that Bride. Jerusalem was shaken by this band of people whose first act after receiving the loving gift of the Holy Spirit was to ensure by love that none among them lacked for any good thing. That the orphan and widow, the two lowest forms of life in that society, be loved and served because God loved them beyond what any human could understand. The orphan became the child of God and the widow a bride! Because of love!

That group of believers loved so intensely they thought nothing of their own lives save that they through faith love their Lord unto death, facing a cross of their own for reaching out to anyone who did not already know their Lover. And when they flagged, their leaders roused them with these truths of love:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
—Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
—1 John 3:1a ESV

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
—Philippians 4:1 ESV

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
—Colossians 3:12-14 ESV

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
—Philippians 1:9-10 ESV

You see, when Jesus Christ came, He brought a love revolution. The Jews were scandalized by this rabbi who loved tax collectors, whores, beggars, and even Roman scum who oppressed their nation. He loved the unlovable, and by that love forgave the unforgivable.

His birth was a sacrificial act of His own love.

His first battle with evil proved His unwavering love for the Father and for us, His mission.

His first miracle was an act of love for a couple in love.

His first public reading of the loving words of the Father attested to His love for those society deemed unlovable.

Ford Madox Brown--Jesus Washing Peter's Feet at the Last SupperHe delayed His love for a friend to show an even greater love that proved His love not only for His friend, but to His Father.

By His perfect love, His service to us was our model of love.

He only spoke the truth, and that because of His love.

Love empowered both His death and resurrection.

And when He spoke of the people He would love forever, He spoke of them as a Bride, the very image of love.

That Bride not only shocked the callous hearts of the Jews, people who had once understood the love of God (but who could not see when Love walked among them), she destroyed all pretense behind the false love shown by the pagans. For if the pagans thought they knew love through their religious sexual carnality and temple prostitution, the unblemished love Christ showed through His Bride shook their worlds. This was not a perverted love that loved only the young, strong, and beautiful, but also the old, weak, and ugly. The Church spread like wildfire through the Roman Empire, historians wrote, because the Christians loved people everyone else left to die. And an entire empire stood up and took notice.

Holiness didn’t make the rest of the world stare in amazement. No one was holier than the Pharisees. Doctrine didn’t make people wonder what this new sect was. No one knew their doctrine better than the Pharisees. When the last of the Pharisees exhaled for the final time, all their supposed holiness and doctrine amounted to not one whit of salvation wrought for the Kingdom of God.

Because they had no love.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
—1 John 4:8 ESV

In closing, the Bible says this:

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
—Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell….
—Colossians 1:15-19 ESV

If we are to grow up in every way into Christ, then because He is Love, our entire reason for being is to love. For if the universe is held together in Christ, He holds it together in love, because that is what He is, and that is what we are to be as well.

The Peter passage that opens this post says it all. Everything we are about as Christians culminates in love. Love is the fulfillment of what it means to follow Christ. As the Lord of Love replied when asked which command is greatest:

“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
–Mark 12:29-31 ESV

In everything, lead with love.


Biblical Masculinity: A Definition

By Rick Phillips @

A few years ago I became intrigued when I saw John Eldridge's ridiculous statement about men, in the wildly popular Wild at Heart, that unlike Eve, Adam was created outside the Garden and so men are called to life in the wilderness. The one benefit I gained from this classic abuse of the Bible was to reflect on the significance of what Genesis 2 really says about gender and creation. It turns out that Gen. 2:15 not only defines Adam's labor as being in the Garden, but also provides the basic summary of what a man is called to do in this world: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." God created men not to engage in Eldridge's "quest for authentic masculinity," but to fruitful, sacrificial labor. "Work" and "Keep" -- avad and shamar -- define the male role in this life.

Another way to express these two descriptions is man's calling to nurture and protect. These are the two main masculine contributions in this world. The first of these is somewhat counter-cultural today. We don't think of men as nurturers, but biblically, this is a vital masculine role. While I certainly would not want to disparage the importance of motherly nurture, the man is really the primary nurturer. The Hebrew word avad has a broad range of meaning depending on context. In the temple, it was the word to describe the ministry of the priests. In an agricultural context, it refers to cultivation. The latter is the context of Genesis 2. Placed in the Garden, Adam was to make things grow in healthy and beautiful ways.

This, then, is a large part of what makes a real man. A real man nurtures, cultivates, and labors for growth. This is one reason why the father is so important to raising children. Anyone who was raised by the "strong, silent type" can tell you what a void the lack of fatherly nurture left in their heart. Fathers are to get their hands dirty in the soil of their children's lives. A father is to plant, fertilize, water, and harvest the growth of character, godliness, ability, and joy. The same is true with men as husbands. This is why so many of the New Testament's teaching to husbands call for men to pay attention to their wives, to cherish them, to cleanse their wives with the Word and present them in splendor. Men do this at work, too. A man's work is to build -- whether it is buildings, organizations, spirituality, or market shares.

The second word to describe Adam's work in the garden is "keep." The Hebrew verb shamar is one of the most beloved, for it is often used of God's protecting care. "The Lord will keep your soul," says Psalm 121. Men are guardians. We keep our families safe and we shepherd the flock of God. This is one reason for male leadership in the church, for the role of pastor and elder is far more than the mere use of one's gifts. The shepherd is to watch over the flock, guarding against wolves and ruling the sheep. "Keeping" is a job for which God made Adam.

Nurture and protection go together. We nurture to make strong, and we protect in order to nurture. One thing I love about the shepherd metaphor is that a shepherd is a kind of leader who defines his success wholly in the safety and well-being of the sheep. It is therefore an apt model for masculine ministry and love. Therefore, husbands should ask if their wives are growing and if they feel safe. They should if the man has embraced his biblical calling. Are their children secure in their love, and are their hearts growing under their father's nurturing ministry?

Two observations are in order. The first is a reminder that Jesus really is the perfect man; we can observe this by noting these two dimensions of nurture and protection throughout his ministry. He died to protect us from sin, and he sends the Spirit to produce his harvest in our lives. The second is that this understanding of masculinity is radically different from the prevailing ideas of masculinity in America. A real man is not a self-serving adventurer, but one who makes things flourish in the safety of his care and under the cultivation of his loving hand.

There can be little doubt that a great deal of feminism in the last fifty years has resulted from feminine fatigue over a lack of real masculinity. Women are sinners in their own right, so I don't want to brush aside their culpability in rejecting biblical femininity. But, really, have women been able to trust men for the kind of ministry the Bible outlines? What about the women in our lives -- especially our wives and daughters? What a blessing it will be to them, and what an incentive for them to embrace the biblical femininity so greatly needed today, if instead of criticizing them for trying to wear the pants we men simply wore the pants that God gave us? If men are called by God to be leaders, let's start by taking the lead in embracing God's mandate for our masculine role

The Masculinity Problem

From Kevin Michael Cawley @

After having an extended discussion with a friend last week regarding the issue of gender roles and biblical interpretation, I have loved the opportunity to revisit many of the crucial questions regarding manhood & womanhood as well as to read the timely thread on the issue at reformation21 blog.

Below is a quote from Rick Phillips', Understandably Feminist along with links to the current posts in their series.

While I do not believe that patriarchy (biblically defined) is a sin, as Stackhouse claims, I do believe that many women have never experienced biblical patriarchy but only a mockery of it. In other words, however big the feminist problem is in America and in the church, I believe there is a masculinity problem that is just as big, if not bigger. Given the attitude of many men towards their wives and daughters, and given the actual behavior of many men (in and out of the church), it is no wonder that women fear male authority structures.

Ref21, Books & Culture, and the Feminist Slippery Slope
Familiarly Feminist
Understandably Feminist
The Sin of Manstealing
Servants and Slaves
Is Patriarchy the Best Term?
On Patriarchy

Preaching that Understands the World

From Colin Adams @

John Stott famously claimed that preachers should study for sermons with a bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. His point was that good preachers are not only adept in their Word study but also in their understanding of the world around them. In today’s Classic Materials, Don Carson offers some practical pointers towards this latter aim.


Some Practical Suggestions
1. Most preachers ought to devote more time to reading, to reading widely. It is never right to skimp in Bible study, theology, church history, or excellent biography; but in addition, we must read books and journals and news magazines that help us understand our own age and culture.

Without here taking time to provide my own list, perhaps I may mention several principles that govern my own reading (outside of Scripture, commentaries, theology etc).

First, I try to read material from competing perspectives. I may subscribe for two or three years to the left-of-centre New York Review of Books and Sojourners, and then cancel the subscriptions and subscribe for a while to right-of-centre Chronicles.

Secondly, certain authors I regularly skim: Os Guinness, George Marsden, Thomas Sowell, James Davidson Hunter, Paul Berger, and others - not because I agree with all they say, but because they are trying to understand the culture.

Thirdly, ocassionally I read ‘blockbuster’ books, simply because so many people are reading them that I think I must find out what is shaping the minds of many fellow citizens.

Fourthly, ocassionally I devote a block of time - six months, say, or a year - to try to get inside some new movement. For instance, I devoted a considerable block to reading the primary authors in the various schools of deconstruction.

Fifthly, I have sometimes subscribed for a period of time to a first-class literary journal such as Granta. Sixthly, I ocassionally subscribe to reports from reputable pollsters, to discover drifts and trends in the nations - Gallup, Yankelovich, and others.

Not everyone reads at the same rate; not everyone’s ministry requires the same extent of reading. Some manage far more than I. At no time should such reading ever squeeze out the primary importance of understanding the word of God. But selective rapid reading of many sources can help preachers better understand the world in which they serve.

2. Discussion with friends and colleagues with similar interests isa great help. This may be formal, for instance an agreed eveningonce a month to discuss book X or film Y in the light of Christian commitments; it may be informal, depending, of course, on the structures and friendships of one’s life. No-one understands everything; thoughtful, widely read and devout friends are to be cherished and nourished.

3. Nowadays there are some good tapes. I sometimes drive substantial distances, but never without tapes. The Mars Hill Tapes offer good value for money. In addition, many ministries today are recorded, and preachers do well to listen to other preachers who are particularly gifted in the handling of the Word and in applying it to life.

4. It is essential to talk with non-Christians, whether one on one, in small groups, or in large crowds. There is no more important avenue towards understanding our world.

The above exerpt is from the book “When God’s Voice is Heard.”

Monday, January 29, 2007

Brian Flemming on Blasphemy Challenge (Fox News)

Christian Youth Challenge YouTube Blasphemy

Christian Post Reporter

More than a month ago, atheists began to blaspheme the existence of God on the popular YouTube network. Today, Christians are turning the tables and taking up the challenge to stand up to their faith in Jesus Christ publicly.

"I'd like to personally praise the Lord for all He does for me," said one young participant in the newly launched "Praise the Lord Challenge" on YouTube. "He's done so much for me and I've only known him a few years."

The Praise the Lord Challenge counters a $25,000 campaign launched before Christmas where atheists, many of whom are young students, videotape their blasphemy, denying the existence of the trinity. "The Blasphemy Challenge" is giving away 1,001 DVDs of the documentary "The God Who Wasn't There" to participants. The only price, the campaign states, is "your soul."

One respondent departed from religion six years ago, he said in his YouTube taping. His grandfather is a preacher and everyone he is related to is "very Christian." Yet ever since his "freedom from religion," he has not looked back, he said as he renounced his belief in God.

With YouTube drawing millions of teens and young adults, the Blasphemy Challenge – launched initially as part of the Rational Response Squad’s war on Christmas - is aimed at young people. The main target audience is the same for the campaign’s opposing side.

Mid-January, Michael Mickey launched his own war against the blasphemy challenge on YouTube. Mickey's campaign is appropriately called "The Challenge Blasphemy Project" and under it, the "Praise the Lord Challenge."

"What happens when we take a stand for the Lord?" Mickey said on YouTube, encouraging believers to videotape their love for Christ. "The word of God will bring people to faith in Jesus Christ."

"When we fail to stand," he added, "no good thing comes."

Mickey called Christians to take a stand for the Word of God.

Only a week has passed since the launch of the Praise the Lord Challenge and several Christians have already posted their testimonies, most of them young students.

"I believe every word that's in [the Bible]," said one young respondent as she held the Bible up close to the camera. "Praise God."

"Blasphemy Challenge has seemed to reach a lot of young people, so our hope is we can get youth leaders and pastors ... to try to get young people [particularly] to reach out to that young audience that visits YouTube and demonstrate their faith in the Lord Jesus," said Mickey, according to One News Now.

And the young Christians say they want to make an impact with their message.

"My purpose is to spread the Word and worship Him with every part of me," said one Praise the Lord Challenge respondent. "I've given Him my life, my heart, my very soul. I will never deny my Lord, my Father, my very reason to live."

Celestial Teapots, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, and Other Silly Atheist Arguments

By |

You have to pity the modern atheist who attempts to present arguments for her cause. Unmoored from any respectable intellectual tradition, each generation is forced to recreate anti-theistic arguments from scratch. The result is that the claims which they believe to be clever and damning often turn out to be, to use a technical philosophical phrase, just plain silly.

FSM.jpgTake for example, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. According to Wikipedia, The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the deity of a parody religion founded in 2005 by Oregon State University physics graduate Bobby Henderson to protest the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to require the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to biological evolution. In an open letter sent to the education board, Henderson professes belief in a supernatural Creator called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which resembles spaghetti and meatballs. He furthermore calls for the "Pastafarian" theory of creation to be taught in science classrooms, essentially invoking a reductio ad absurdum argument against the teaching of intelligent design. (The FSM has been popularized by the otherwise charming and intelligent folks at BoingBoing.)

What Henderson actually showed was (a) a profound ignorance of the design argument, (b) a profound ignorance of what the Kansas board was actually proposing, and (c) that OSU should require physics graduates to take courses in philosophy. But what Henderson was trying to get at, though he doesn’t seem clever enough to grasp his own point, is similar to what Bertrand Russell was arguing with his “celestial teapot” analogy. In the famous passage from Is There a God?, Russell writes:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

Russell’s rather unoriginal argument has recently rehashed by atheism’s most unoriginal apologist, Richard Dawkins. Both Russell and Dawkins (and everyone else who uses this line of reasoning) attempt to argue along the lines that “If the existence of X (celestial teapots, FSMs, God) has not been disproven, it does not follow that X exists, or even that it is reasonable to believe that X exists.”

This point is both obvious and uncontroversial. The problem comes when they try to suggest, as William Vallicella says, “that belief in God (i.e., belief that God exists) is epistemically on a par with believing in a celestial teapot. Just as we have no reason to believe in celestial teapots, irate lunar unicorns (lunicorns?), flying spaghetti monsters, and the like, we have no reason to believe in God.”

Vallicella points out the key problem with this thinking: we have all sorts of reasons for believing that God exists. True, atheists may not find them compelling. But so what? “The issue is whether a reasoned case can be made for theism, and the answer is in the affirmative,” says Vallicella. “Belief in God and in Russell's teapot are therefore not on a par since there are no empirical or theoretical reasons for believing in his teapot.”

Celestial teapots and FSMs do, however, differ on one key point. The celestial teapot is a contingent being, it’s coming into being and continued existence is contingent on the existence of something else (namely the universe). The teapot is a physical being whose existence is radically dependent on the existence of matter. The teapot could cease to exist without affecting the universe. But if the universe ceased to exist, so would the celestial teapot.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster, however, is akin to God in that it is posited as a being that creates contingent beings. As Henderson claims in his letter, “We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe.” If the FSM created the universe then the universe is radically dependent on the FSM. If the universe was created into existence then it is possible for the entire universe to go out of existence, to simply cease to exist. Its continued existence therefore requires a causal agent to keep it from ceasing to exist, to prevent its exnihilation. (Note: This would be true even if the universe has always existed and was uncaused (i.e., the view of steady-state cosmology).)

In his attempt to be clever, Henderson misses the point that his FSM is more philosophically plausible than what (I suspect) he actually believes. Presumably since he is a physicist, Henderson believes either that the universe was created from nothing (everything from nothingness) or that he subscribes to some alternate view such as the Multiverse theory. The idea that (a) absolute nothingness (non-existence) created the universe and that (b) this nothingness sustains the universe from exnihilation (complete non-existence) is philosophically and scientifically absurd.

That leaves us with the second option, that the universe was created by something else, such as a Perpetual Universe Generator (PUG). In essence, the PUG plays the same roles as God or the FSM. Each is an entity that exists non-contingently and resides outside of the normal laws of the known physical universe. (The FSM is a creature comprised of stringy noodles while the PUG is a construct comprised of noodly theories about strings.) The only difference is that Henderson is positing an un-intelligent designer (nothingness, the PUG) while the alternatives are intelligent designers (the FSM, God).

Why exactly we are to prefer an unintelligent designer to an intelligent one is one of the questions that remains unanswered. Obviously, not all atheists believe that arguments must be intelligently designed; but that does not mean that arguments for intelligent design are without merit. Perhaps if they used their noodles for something other than creating spaghetti creatures they’d see that obvious point for themselves.

Conversational Apologetics Parts 1 & 2 By Michael Ramsden

Question everything. Scripture tells us to be ready to give a defense--or a reason--for the hope that is in us. But sometimes giving an answer starts with asking a question, the way Jesus did. This helpful message by Michael Ramsden shows us how to ask good questions, give humble answers, and share the gospel to the culture we live in. (Part 1 ends mid-sentence so make sure to download both part 1 and part 2, they're worth it.)

download the message.

Church advertisement denied by local newspaper

Mallory Hardin Reports

FAYETTEVILLE - A local church is launching advertisements for its new series on sexuality and spirituality. The problem is one local newspaper is denying the church advertising.

At the Vintage Fellowship Church in Fayetteville, new advertisements show couples in bed embracing each other. The ads promote their new series on sex entitled "Turned On."

"We wanted to catch people's attention in a way that maybe couldn't dismiss us because we were a church. We set up a website to pique people's interest," Pastor Rob Ryerse of Vintage Fellowship Church said.

Vintage Fellowship Church is using the ads to promote a series on sexuality and spirituality in a relatable and realistic way.

"Our culture has lied to us about sex and we believe the church may have lied to us about sex. It's something you can't escape. In the movies, on TV, in much, sex is everywhere. We think it's something the church should be talking about too," Ryerse said.

But not everyone is accepting the ads. The print advertisements featuring couples in bed was denied advertising by the newspaper The Morning News.

"They are free to make their decisions. They didn't give us much explanation, except they said our ads were a little seductive. I don't think they're much more seductive than a J.C. Penney ad, but that certainly is their choice," Ryerse said.

But the church still plans on running the series and the advertisements promoting it.

"It just emphasizes how important it is for us to talk about this in an honest and frank way. We're full speed running and look forward to launching the series in February," Ryerse said.

5NEWS contacted The Morning News about their decision and they said "We chose not to accept the advertising."

The Poor You Always Have With You

By Dave Barnhart @

Confession time: I'm one of those well-intentioned, socially-concerned preachers who seems to love beating up white, middle-class, guilt-laden listeners with images of "the poor." It's a moral failure, I'll admit it - not just a rhetorical one. It probably ranks up there with using other stock images: the working single mom, the rich fat cat driving his luxury car, the malnourished child in a developing country, the soccer mom in her SUV, the homeless lady pushing a grocery cart. We use them as a kind of rhetorical shorthand. We dress up socioeconomic anxiety in Christian clothes and make it do tricks.

I've become more circumspect using such images as I've actually gotten to know some of these people, rich and poor alike.

Here's one image of "the poor" - A guy works two jobs to make ends meet and raise his two kids. He has no health insurance. His extended family has either died or become addicted to drugs. He drives a 1988 Honda hatchback with 200,000 miles on it. He admits he has made some stupid financial decisions, like using one of those payday cash advance places (the profits from which help supplement the income of several state legislators). One day the transmission goes out on his car. Because he cannot make it to work, he loses both jobs. Because he loses his income, he cannot pay his electric bill. The milk and meat in the refrigerator spoil and makes the whole house stink. He doesn't ask his church for help. He just stops going. Prayer doesn't seem to be doing the trick anyway.

Here's another image - A guy "between jobs" conveniently runs out of gas in the church parking lot. He says he is trying to make it to the next state where he will become gainfully employed. Though he reeks of cigarette smoke (what do those cost now - 4 bucks a pack?), he says he doesn't have enough money to buy gas. He holds in his hand a well-worn Bible. As he talks to the preacher (who looks like an easy mark) he makes abundant references to how he believes God will provide, but he's running out of faith because the last three churches were stuck up and didn't believe in helping someone who was hard up. But certainly, he implies, this preacher will be different.

Anyone who spends any time in a church and feels any sort of conviction that the gospel should be "good news to the poor" has to run up against the very practical problem of who is the poor and what kind of Good News should it be? Idealists say that you should reach for your wallet because Jesus said, in the Sermon on the Mount, to "give to whoever asks of you." It is your responsibility, they say, to give, and God's to mete out punishment or reward. What the person does with the money you give them is between them and God.

I would cling to that ideal if it didn't feel like a cop-out. Scam artists have an interesting strategy. They use a mixture of guilt, pity, fear, and annoyance. I've found that if I address my own emotional reaction to the situation, I can sometimes find a real person under the scammer. I told one con artist (the "out of gas" variety) that I would be happy to drive him where he was going. I've offered to buy such people lunch if they will simply sit down with me and tell me their story - the true version. I have very rarely had anyone take me up on my offers. I figure that if I am supposed to see the image of the Living God in people, I may have to wrestle it out of them. God never takes offense at the challenge of greater intimacy. But I think God would be royally pissed if I gave him money just to get out of my face. Fear and pity are not the same as love.

On the other hand, I think it is also a feature of living a (mostly) privileged existence that we're always afraid of getting cheated. I try not to act out of such fear, but pastoral care for the scam artist is a tricky thing. The people who see churches and pastors as marks do need something. Sometimes they are really poor.

Working with the - shall we call them the sympathetic poor? - can be just as frustrating. Some folks learn helplessness and figure why try to live on a budget when life will simply kick your legs out from under you? Why bother trying to save something, or get out of debt, or expect anything better for your children than you got? Sometimes they find ingenious ways to sabotage themselves. Conventional wisdom says that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Often I've felt like throwing my hands in the air and giving up, because if the man keeps eating the bait and leaving the fishing pole at home then how can you teach him anything?

Then again, perhaps it is not my place to teach, but to learn.

Anyway, I would like to issue a challenge to preachers, especially those preaching to middle-to-upper-class congregations. The next time Satan tempts you to trot out an abstraction of "the homeless" or "the poor" to make your homiletical point, try to have someone in particular in mind. Who is the poor? Give them a face, a situation, a name.


Posted by Marc Morano

After EPW blog post yesterday Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics check out this blog post from ABC-TV Alabama affiliate weatherman James Spann

Also check out Weather Channel response to the controversy

From Spann blog - his bio:

"In 2005 I upgraded the AMS seal of approval to the new "Certified Broadcast Meteorologist" designation. The CBM is the highest level of certification from the AMS, and involves academic requirements, on-air performance, a rigorous examination, and continuing education.Official bio here:

The Weather Channel Mess

January 18, 2007 | James Spann | Op/Ed
Well, well. Some “climate expert” on “The Weather Channel” wants to take away AMS certification from those of us who believe the recent “global warming” is a natural process. So much for “tolerance”, huh?
I have been in operational meteorology since 1978, and I know dozens and dozens of broadcast meteorologists all over the country. Our big job: look at a large volume of raw data and come up with a public weather forecast for the next seven days. I do not know of a single TV meteorologist who buys into the man-made global warming hype. I know there must be a few out there, but I can’t find them. Here are the basic facts you need to know:
*Billions of dollars of grant money is flowing into the pockets of those on the man-made global warming bandwagon. No man-made global warming, the money dries up. This is big money, make no mistake about it. Always follow the money trail and it tells a story. Even the lady at “The Weather Channel” probably gets paid good money for a prime time show on climate change. No man-made global warming, no show, and no salary. Nothing wrong with making money at all, but when money becomes the motivation for a scientific conclusion, then we have a problem. For many, global warming is a big cash grab.
*The climate of this planet has been changing since God put the planet here. It will always change, and the warming in the last 10 years is not much difference than the warming we saw in the 1930s and other decades. And, lets not forget we are at the end of the ice age in which ice covered most of North America and Northern Europe.
If you don’t like to listen to me, find another meteorologist with no tie to grant money for research on the subject. I would not listen to anyone that is a politician, a journalist, or someone in science who is generating revenue from this issue.
In fact, I encourage you to listen to WeatherBrains episode number 12, featuring Alabama State Climatologist John Christy, and WeatherBrains episode number 17, featuring Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University, one of the most brilliant minds in our science.
WeatherBrains, by the way, is our weekly 30 minute netcast.
I have nothing against “The Weather Channel”, but they have crossed the line into a political and cultural region where I simply won’t go.

Chosen for Life

Introduction and Chapter 1 - 287K PDF


Divine election is certainly one of the more profound—and controversial—doctrines in the Bible. Does God elect people because they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, or does God elect people in order that they will believe in Christ? Much of the disagreement and controversy concerning this doctrine proceeds from a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means.

This is why Storms begins his analysis of divine election with an attempt to clarify precisely what is at stake and, at the same time, correct misrepresentations of it. He takes a thorough look at the doctrine as it is presented in Romans 9 as well as the rest of the New Testament. He also explores freedom of will and the order of salvation. Appendixes address “Three Problem Passages” and “Who Can and Cannot Pray for God to Save the Lost?”


“I can’t know and love and serve God if I don’t know truth about God. This book describes God the way he really is.”
John Piper, Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis

“Sam Storms’s Chosen for Life is well-conceived, well-reasoned, and well-written, with its arguments anchored in the Scriptures. It is fair, thorough, and up-to-date regarding the controversies that swirl around this vital biblical doctrine.”
Mark R. Talbot, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Wheaton College

“This new edition of Chosen for Life has everything one could want on the topic of election. Those who agree will be heartily encouraged; those who disagree will be respectfully challenged; the hearts of all will marvel at the glorious grace of God in the gospel.”
C. J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries

“Storms’s offensive against Arminian-type views of election among evangelicals is a very solid piece of work. The thoroughness of its arguments gives it conclusive force.”
J. I. Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College

“I am delighted that a revised and expanded edition of Sam Storms’s book Chosen for Life is now available. When students have asked me for a concise, clear, pastoral, and practical explanation of election, I have said that Chosen for Life is my top choice.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This extraordinarily clear and courteous book makes its case without stooping to caricature or invective. It is a fine model of exactly how theological disagreements should be resolved: with respectful listening, careful distinctions, historical awareness, deep reverence for Scripture, and patient exegesis.”
D. A. Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

A Haunting Specter -- Modern Science Without Moral Limits

By Albert Mohler @

Modern science most often operates under a cover of moral neutrality. It is probably safe to assume that most Americans think of science as a morally neutral enterprise -- one that can as easily be used for good as for evil. Nevertheless, this impression of moral neutrality is a myth . . . and a dangerous myth indeed.

Yuval Levin makes this point in his important essay, "The Moral Challenge of Modern Science," published in the Fall 2006 issue of The New Atlantis. Levin, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, sums up his argument with these words:

The real challenge lies not in the tools that science gives us, but in the attitudes it forms in us. The trouble is not that technology can be used for both good and evil, but that people in the age of technology may have real trouble telling the difference between the two. The moral challenge of modern science is, like every genuine moral challenge, a hazard to the souls of men; and the danger that confronts us in the scientific age arises not from our tools or our machines but from our own assumptions and attitudes.

He is right, of course. In this age of technology, many persons (including both scientists and non-scientists) have difficulty seeing the moral realities and challenges presented by many advanced technologies.

Furthermore, science is no longer just about science. As Levin observes:

The moral challenge of modern science reaches well beyond the ambiguity of new technologies because modern science is much more than a source of technology, and scientists are far more than mere investigators and toolmakers. Modern science is a grand human endeavor, indeed the grandest of the modern age. Its work employs the best and the brightest in every corner of the globe, and its modes of thinking and reasoning have come to dominate the way mankind understands itself and its place.

Resigning himself to a change in economic philosophy, President Richard M. Nixon once famously referred to John Maynard Keynes, the father of massive government spending, and quipped, "We're all Keynesians now." Well, we might say that we are all scientists now. Science is a worldview, a way of life, and a mode of thinking that effects every other discipline and dimension of thought. For many moderns, science has replaced Christianity as a touchstone for understanding reality.

Here is the heart of Levin's argument:

Many of us nonetheless think of science as neutral because it does not match the profile of a moral enterprise as understood in our times. Put simply, science does not express itself in moral declarations. It is neutral in the very way in which neutrality is seen to be a good thing in a free liberal society: science does not tell us what to do. It takes as its guides the needs and desires of human beings, and not assumptions about good and evil. Our desire for health, comfort, and power is indisputable, and science seeks to serve that desire. It is driven by a moral imperative to make certain capacities available to us, but it does not enforce upon us a code of conduct. It can therefore claim to be neutral on the question of how men and women should live.

But a project on the scale of the modern scientific enterprise cannot help but affect the way we reason regarding that fundamental moral question. Modern science, after all, involves first and foremost a way of thinking. It is founded upon a new way of understanding the world, and of bringing it before the human mind in a form the mind can comprehend. In forcing the world into this form, science must necessarily leave out some elements of it that do not aid the work of the scientific method, and among these are many elements we might consider morally relevant.

Science forces itself to consider only the quantifiable facts before it, and using those facts it forms a picture of the world that we can use to understand and overcome certain natural obstacles. The more effectively the scientific way of thinking does this, the more successfully and fully it persuades us that this is all there is to do. The power and success of scientific thinking therefore shape our thinking more generally.

Only when we understand modern science primarily as an intellectual force can we begin to grasp its significance for moral and social thought. The scientific worldview exercises a profound and powerful influence on what we understand to be the proper purpose, subject, and method of morals and politics.

But Levin also warns that we are prone to "moral forgetfulness." We are not adequately attentive to the moral dimensions of modern science and, before long, all that is left is a sense that whatever science produces is good -- end of subject.

As Levin explains:

Modern science and technology stand to exacerbate and worsen this forgetfulness, both by taking away some of those things that now and then make us remember--the child whose potential is a great surprise to us, the limits that respect for others must place upon our vanity, the truths and lessons we can only learn by growing old--and by accustoming us to a mode of thinking and learning that always seems to know more today than it knew yesterday. Rightly enamored by the possibilities and achievements of forward-looking science, we are often blinded to the possibility of progress through remembrance and tempted to believe that we can rise beyond the limits and constraints that the past always seeks to remind us are necessary. This forgetfulness risks leaving us knowing much less than we knew yesterday, even about science.


This, in the deepest sense, is the moral challenge presented to us by modern science: to advance the great moral good of relieving man's estate while remaining ever mindful of other, and perhaps greater, moral goods. It is a challenge to our sense of what matters most, to our commitments to equality and self-government, to our appreciation of the necessarily varied sources of wisdom and authority, and to our grasp of the right questions to ask.

The reality and seriousness of this challenge is readily apparent in so many contemporary debates. Why not use and destroy human embryos in the quest for therapies from human stem cells? Why not create chimeras (human-animal hybrids) or new transgenic species? Why not allow human cloning and customized human infants?

In reality, many Americans simply assume that whatever science is able to do is good -- because science is morally neutral. This is one of the most dangerous myths of our times. The incredible wonders that have come to us through modern science -- so many wonderful developments that have transformed human lives for good -- can blind us to the reality that other technologies and applications can be inherently evil. The myth of moral neutrality in modern science is a myth we cannot afford.