28 February 2011

Taking a Class

As a professor and dean, the idea of taking a college class is kinda scary...it's like the jailer getting thrown in jail, or something like that.  Anyway, I was asked a question a few weeks back in my Sunday School class, and I wasn't able to answer it cogently.  I don't like that feeling.

So I signed up for RLGN 5325 Historical Theology here at Wayland.  Now I'm in an online class full of theology students.  It's a bit intimidating for someone trained as a scientist.  But I need the background of historical theology to answer those, "Why do we do the things we do" questions, and I'm also thinking the course will both strengthen my faith and teach me a bit more about the nature and character of God in the process.  Obviously, those are worthwhile reasons to take the course.

I'm probably nuts, but I'm going to do it anyway.

24 February 2011

We Don't Understand "Wonderful"

When a popular praise-song writer introduced a re-make of the old hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross a few years ago, I was struck by how badly the writer seemed to misunderstand the term 'wondrous'.  It seemed, from the context of the song, that he was viewing the cross as a really cool thing (the contemporary view of 'wonderful', confused with the real meaning of 'wondrous').  The real meaning of the word has to do with the idea of the inability to understand God's condescending grace toward us as fallen sinners, not the idea that Jesus is our homeboy who bails us out in a pinch.  It's a good song if you mentally twist the words to mean what they meant in a classical sense.  Maybe that's the meaning the author intended, but if you ask anyone under about 50 after the worship service what it means, they'll give you the homeboy definition.

Pete Scribner posted this blog article yesterday, and it has a bit of artwork that I absolutely love.  I don't love it for the content it expresses, but the irony.  It smacks around one of the popular views of the Christian life these days; a view that needs to be smacked around.

Pete does a good job describing the irony.  Go give it a read here.

To all those who are suffering, I would send you to First Peter.  It is the best place I know in the Bible to get an understanding of what the real Christian life (not the Americanized-Finneyist/Osteen version) looks like.

The Obama Administration Continues to Dismantle America

This post from Al Mohler describes the latest move by the Obama administration to continue to take down the traditional values that built this country.

This may not seem like a big deal now, but it is.  Just wait.

21 February 2011

Uncle Jay Gets This One Right

I've watched Uncle Jay Explains the News off-and-on for a couple years now.  Sometimes he is pretty far out there, but other times he seems to get the picture.

This week's post is spot on and funny to boot.  Check it out.

17 February 2011

Help a Pastor in the Philippines

Tom Ascol, over on the Founder's Ministries blog, tells this story about a pastor in the Philippines who lost everything in a recent flood.  Founder's is helping him replace his theology library, which he uses to teach over there.

I donated a little toward this project and encourage you to do a little bit as well.  Even ten or fifteen dollars will buy a book for him, and ensure the continued spread of the gospel by allowing young pastors to be educated there.  (Click the link above to donate...it will take you to PayPal for a safe place to execute the donation by credit card.)

I emailed Tom directly to confirm this was a real situation and not some kind of internet scam.  Tom told me he has known this pastor for several years and it is indeed the real deal.

15 February 2011

Too Good to Pass Up

Sometimes accusations fly that the blogosphere is nothing more than a giant echo chamber.  Maybe so.  But sometimes, I run across a blog post that is just too good to pass up.  This post, by Jared Compton over on the Gospel Coalition blog, is one of those.  Go read it.

As soon as I've obtained permission, I'll be printing it out for my Sunday School class.

What are you waiting for?  Go read it!

11 February 2011

Academic Bias and the Parent

Al Mohler has just posted this incredible vignette about the reality of bias against conservatives in the academic setting.

Parents of high schoolers, this is your fair warning.  When you send them off to the university, you are sending them to a place that will hate their values and hate them if they try to hold on to and express those values.  It is a place that will try everything in their power to change those values to secular humanist values.

Am I saying don't send them to college?  Not at all.  I'm saying they had better be prepared for what they face when they get there.  All the details of what that entails will be given in subsequent posts as I have time to write them.

I'm a college dean.  I've taught in the classroom for nearly 20 years.  I don't say these things lightly.  But the spiritual welfare of our children is to important to not say them.

07 February 2011

How Christina Aguilera is an Important Example for Christians

If you watched the Super Bowl, you probably caught it; if you didn't watch, you certainly have seen news reports and blog opinions on Ms. Aguilera's pre-game rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  (If you just came out of a cave, here's a link to her performance.) 

It wasn't pretty.  (And that doesn't include the fact that she flubbed a line.)  What's wrong with singing it the way it was written??? 

OK, I got that out of my system.

Back to the theological implications of the whole mess.  If you listen to a lot of people in the church (and none too few outside it), what matters is your passion for whatever you believe, but not so much the content thereof.  I don't agree with that, and most serious bible students I know don't either.  Now, if we judge Ms. Aguilera's performance on passion alone, she was perfect.  You couldn't ask for more passion than what she put into that song.  But she didn't get the content right.

Our society seems to think that's OK.  How many times have you heard, "It doesn't really matter so much what you believe, just as long as you're sincere."  She was sincere to a fault, but didn't get the words quite right.  So was it a perfect performance, or not?  I didn't think so.  I'm sure she's embarrassed about it, and I know that in the same situation, I'd probably forget some of the words myself.  And as much as I don't appreciate that style of rendering the national anthem (I would much prefer a barbershop quartet, or the US Marine Chorus), she can sing a lot better than I could, even if I had the electronic enhancement that the Black Eyed Peas so sorely missed in their half-time show.

The gospel is, after all, a narrative...a story.  It has content.  It does indeed matter what we believe, and what we say about it.  It matters a great deal.  R. C. Sproul had to write a whole book about this, called, Getting the Gospel Right. More recently, Greg Gilbert wrote, What is the Gospel?, a book about getting the gospel right itself.  It seems a lot of good folks must not be getting it right.  I highly recommend both books, especially if you find the words to articulate the gospel hard to come by.

So next time you are interested in having a lot of passion for what you believe (and there's nothing wrong with that), take a cue from Christina...make sure you get the words right first.

The NFL Must Have a Concussion

How unmercifully bad was that half-time show last night?  After five or six years of really old, stiff, boring half-time performers (I suppose to try and make up for the boobies in 2004), the NFL decided to go back to youth this year.  So they got a young, stiff, boring half-time performance that at least included some really neat light effects.

I'd love to have a few of those lighted suits, although I wouldn't want mine to fit quite as tightly as the ones last night.  And Darth Vader's got nuthin' on the performers' costumes.

Who is the NFL talent scout, anyway?  Even American Idolatry does a better job finding talent than the NFL does (well, at least musical talent).  You'd think an organization who's existence depends on the ability to identify athletic talent could figure out how to find someone who could scout live performance musical talent, but I guess not.

So until they do figure this one out, I got a feelin' next year's show won't be much better.

Oh, and the commercials this year?  Yawn.  I guess all the good ideas were taken by about 2003.

05 February 2011

Freshmen Boys Smell Funny

We have 30 high school freshmen boys staying at our house this weekend for our church's youth weekend called Impact.

They've had some great bible study, heard some great preaching from Grant Hickman, and completed a service project today at a halfway house in Amarillo.  But perhaps the biggest impact they've made is on the smell in our house.  I don't have any idea how we'll get it out.  It's a combination of mildew and dirty socks...not a pleasant smell.  But I suppose it's all worth it!

01 February 2011

Brian Regan on the Differences Between Men and Women

I've posted links to this guy's material before.  He's clean, and very, very funny.  You can watch it below or click the link to go straight to youtube.

Are you dating anyone?

Do We Get Our Theology from Kindergarten?

It is well-known that much of American evangelicalism holds the idea that if God provides some form of grace (say, salvation) to one person, he is really obliged to provide it equally to everybody.  That's not a biblical concept (Rom. 9:15, for example), but it is still widely held in society.  Where did it come from?

Maybe our kindergarten teachers taught it to us.  You remember the little book that was popular back in the 90s, called, Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten?  I thought the book was a dumb idea then, because it isn't true, and if it contributed to our theological mess, I think it is even dumber now than I did then.  It was cute, but still dumb.

Pretty much everyone I know has had some form of this experience- "I brought a piece of candy to school...the teacher saw it and said, 'If you don't have enough of those for everybody, you can't have any either!' So I put it away (or had it confiscated)."  Is that where we got this misguided idea about God?

R. C. Sproul, in his classic book, The Holiness of God, addresses it this way-

It is impossible for anyone, anywhere, anytime to deserve grace. Grace by definition is undeserved. As soon as we talk about deserving something, we are no longer talking about grace; we are talking about justice. Only justice can be deserved. God is never obligated to be merciful. Mercy and grace must be voluntary or they are no longer mercy and grace. God never “owes” grace. He reminds us more than once. “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” This is the divine prerogative. God reserves for Himself the supreme right of executive clemency.
Suppose ten people sin and sin equally. Suppose God punishes five of them and is merciful to the other five. Is this injustice? No! In this situation five people get justice and five get mercy. No one gets injustice. What we tend to assume is this: If God is merciful to five He must be equally merciful to the other five. Why? He is never obligated to be merciful. If He is merciful to nine of the ten, the tenth cannot complain that he is a victim of injustice. God never owes mercy. God is not obliged to treat all men equally. Maybe I’d better say that again. God is never obliged to treat all men equally. If He were ever unjust to us, we would have reason to complain. But simply because He grants mercy to my neighbor gives me no claim on His mercy. Again we must remember that mercy is always voluntary. “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy.” (p. 128-9)

By the way, if we are indeed getting some of our ideas about God from secular schooling and the control of interpersonal behavior therein, that does not paint a pretty picture of theological education in our churches.

Get this book by Sproul.  If you live near me, ask me and I'll give you a copy.  It's worth the read.