29 March 2011

Book Review of Counterfeit Gospels

I recently discovered a new blog that I really enjoy.  It was mentioned by Tim Challies...it is called Blogging Theologically and is written by Aaron Armstrong.  I don't know much about Aaron, but I really like his blog.

Today, he posted a book review that was excellent.  (By the way, if you don't know a good reason for reading blogs, one of the best is book reviews.  You can't always trust that reviews on Amazon.com are legitimate...those can be easily staged.  But reviews on blogs are the real deal. Here's a link to all my reviews on Amazon.com, in case anyone cares.)

His review was of Trevin Wax's book, Counterfeit GospelsHere's the link to Aaron's review.

Aaron tells us not only what the content was of the book, but why the content was important, why we need to read what the author wrote, and how it can help us bring glory to God in our daily lives. 

And the book itself seems to ring a resonant chord, especially in light of the recent Rob Bell mess and the blogosphere battles over Bell and his critics and supporters.

I'm ordering a copy of Counterfeit Gospels on Thursday (pay day).  I just need to decide if I'm getting the Kindle version or the hardback version.

28 March 2011

Spring Rolls On

Well, March is almost over, and I still don't have much to say.  I've been so busy going to my sons' baseball games, I don't have time to think.

A few tidbits-

I just saw that a Southwest Airlines flight from Orlando to Chicago had to make an emergency landing in Louisville.  Apparently, there were some smoking wires in the cockpit.  They should arrest those wires.  I understand it's a federal offense to smoke on a domestic flight.  <>

I just found out today that the head football coach is going to move my son, Will up to varsity for Spring football.  He's just a freshman.  So now I'm both very proud and very nervous.  Those other boys are very, very, big.  And fast.

I just got a promotion to full professor.  I'm pretty excited about that...it's the highest academic rank one can achieve short of retiring and being named Emeritus professor.  And as one retired gentleman explained once, 'Emeritus' is from the Latin:  E means your out, and meritus means you deserved it!

I just had the honor of co-approving the money for a new state champion wall sign for the high school gym.  (I'm one of the VPs for the Canyon Eagle booster club.)  The Lady Eagles went 38-0 this year; were the only undefeated team in the state of Texas, boys or girls; and the state championship game was Coach Lombard's 1100th career win.  He hasn't lost a hundred yet (98 loses).  That's almost unimaginable.  He's quite a coach, and a great Christian man who brought glory to God in the process of winning this title.  Hats off.  This was his 14th state title here at Canyon.  Wow.  On top of that, the Lady Eagles are now ranked in the top 12 nationally by USA Today magazine.

Our interim pastor preached on hell yesterday.  You don't hear that very often anymore.  Contrary to what we hear, everyone I talked to at church found it to be a positive, not a negative, sermon.  Good job, Dr. Shaw!

We only have two more lessons left in 2 Peter.  That means I have to find something to do for the summer.  Last summer, I used a six-week video series called, Chosen By God with R. C. Sproul.  Maybe I can find something like it for a different tact for early summer.  Then, by request, we are going to do some systematic theology, starting with the doctrine of prayer.  I'm looking forward to that study, even though it will be a tough prep, as I'll get some magnificent Bible study from it.

Just saw a pair of funny tweets from Fred Thompson- "Reporter at Biden fundraiser locked in closet. Only allowed out during Biden speech. Now that's what I call adding insult to injury."

And, "Hillary: U.S. won’t go into Syria the way it has in Libya. Oh, so Obama's going to go in with a plan?"

Good ones, Fred!

17 March 2011

Side Topic: Handloading- Why Are Max Loads Not Always Safe?

I haven't been writing much on handloading recently, but I had to answer a question on my HL list recently, and thought I'd post it here for fun.

I was asked why the maximum listed loads in reloading manuals, supposedly well-researched and tested data, are possibly unsafe in certain applications.  Here's the response-

1) Max loads in reloading manuals are based on pressures achieved in/with their equipment, and subsequent to SAAMI max pressure recommendations for a given cartridge.

2) The pressure testing equipment is also subject to SAAMI specs to ensure it will produce consistent pressures within a certain set of variables.

3) SAAMI pressure recommendations can change over time.

4) Pressure-testing techniques and equipment do change, sometimes radically, over time.

5) When making load recommendations, we are dealing with stochastic (not deterministic) models.  [Example:  2+2=4 is a deterministic model.  yhat = beta-naught + beta-one-x-one + error is a stochastic model.  The error term contains a random factor that we can't control, and changes the yhat each time the equation is run.)

6) The stochastic model for pressure for a given cartridge is thus written in terms of a confidence interval, where there is allowed a small amount of error.  (This error-allowance is critical...the only way to ensure no error is not to load the ammo at all.)  The confidence interval varies based on how much the error term varies in a given situation (i.e. the sample variance), and a constant based on the bell curve determined by how much error we are willing to allow.

7) Rarely, some firearms do not meet SAAMI spec and thus will perform outside the parameters of the testing equipment and produce excessive pressure with a listed safe load.  This is why all load manuals repeatedly insist that we start 10% below the listed max and work up.

8) In addition, certain firearms designs are not as robust as they need to be to absorb full-power, maximum-pressure loads over time.  Thus, rather than a catastrophic failure, we will find a chronological failure with the firearm.  This is often manifest as excessive head space in a rifle, loosening of lock-up in a revolver, or gradual frame damage in a semi-auto pistol, for examples.

9) There are uncontrollable factors based on the skill and quality control of the individual hand loader that can change things in a hurry (i.e. seating bullets too deeply, or not crimping and thus allowing bullets to be pushed into or pulled out of a case during firing, etc.).

So, the likelihood of a catastrophic failure in any firearm when using a maximum listed load is very very small, but still a possibility.  The likelihood of a chronological failure when using maximum loads is still small, but larger than a catastrophic failure.  So one can generally say that load data in manuals is safe, but one must allow for exceptions and follow the 10% work-up guideline religiously to eliminate (as much as possible) the random factor in the hand loading process.

Bottom line- we rolls our dice and moves our mice, and hope nobody gets hurt.

15 March 2011

Chronology on the Rob Bell Issue

Here is a good chronology of the events that precipitated the 'Rob Bell' controversy that I blogged about in the past couple weeks.  It is from the Resurgence blog (Mark Driscoll et al.).

A Chronology of Rob Bell on Hell

Want to Be an Apologist? Be A Part of the Local Church!

I absolutely love this clip from James White.  It is self-explanatory.  (Click on the white header if you want to go out to YouTube for easier downloading.)

14 March 2011

Why No Looting in Japan?

I ran across this interesting couple of paragraphs in the Telegraph (UK) today:

Perhaps even more impressive than Japan’s technological power is its social strength, with supermarkets cutting prices and vending machine owners giving out free drinks as people work together to survive. Most noticeably of all, there has been no looting, and I’m not the only one curious about this. 

This is quite unusual among human cultures, and it’s unlikely it would be the case in Britain. During the 2007 floods in the West Country abandoned cars were broken into and free packs of bottled water were stolen. There was looting in Chile after the earthquake last year – so much so that troops were sent in; in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina saw looting on a shocking scale.

Why do some cultures react to disaster by reverting to everyone for himself, but others – especially the Japanese – display altruism even in adversity?

Very curious question, and an important one to answer, especially in a consumerist culture like the one in which we live.  But then, Japan is a consumerist culture as well.  The mystery only deepens.

[Original post from which the excerpt was taken is here.]

11 March 2011

Update on the Hell Issue (Or, One Hell of an Update)

After I posted my note a couple days ago, Al Mohler posted a two-part series on the controversy.

Here's part one

Here's part two.

R. C. Sproul, Jr., added this interesting article called, Can a Person Be Evangelical and Not Believe in Hell?

Then Justin Taylor added this excerpt and description called, Rob Bell on Martin Luther and Salvation in Hell. (Bell claims Luther believed one could be saved from hell after death.)

Finally, we have a review of the book itself (still not released yet) via a pre-release PDF version granted for review purposes.  One of the most talented Christian book reviewers around has done that review for us.

Here's Tim Challies' review of Bell's book, Love Wins.

07 March 2011

What the Heck is the Fuss About Hell?

If you follow the Christian blogosphere at all, you've seen a lot of traffic lately about the idea of the reality of Hell.  (No, not the place Cubs fans live every year in October, but the place in the Bible.)

It was all generated by media releases on Rob Bell's new book that's coming out...one in which (according to the media push) he reveals himself to be a universalist.  (Ironic what 'Bell' rhymes with...).

What's a universalist?  Universalism is the theological position that claims everyone will end up in heaven after all is said and done.  There are some creative ways to get there, but either now, later, or really later, everyone gets to paradise.

Can a believer be a universalist?  I don't think so.  Tim Challies posted this thoughtful blog entry this morning, and he says things more succinctly and thoughtfully than I usually do, so I'll point you to his post for the summary of why one can't be a universalist and a believer (at least, the way I think 'believer' is to be defined) at the same time.

Why do I believe in a literal hell?  The primary reason I believe in a literal hell is that Jesus did.  I haven't physically counted the references, but I've read in several places that claim Jesus mentioned hell more often than he mentioned heaven in the gospels in the New Testament.  That seems to mean it is an important concept.  If you look at the story of the rich man and Lazarus, you can't but clearly see Jesus thought of hell as a physical reality.

Isn't it unlike a loving God to condemn people to hell for eternity?  This one's been around a long time, and still is (I've read it on blog comments just this week).  Those who think this way are imposing a humanistic form of fairness on God.  They understand neither the holiness of God nor the sinfulness of man; or for that matter, the ugliness of our sin before that holy God.  I always recommend a particular book to them:  The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul.  It makes as clear and concise a biblical statement on these issues as I think anyone has ever made in print.

So why do people deny a literal hell?  In some ways, that question is hard to answer.  On the one hand, I myself wish hell wasn't a real place...contemplating people who I'm pretty sure have gone or are going there is unsettling at best.  On the other hand, there are certain people who seem to deserve it (Hitler and the usual suspects).  But I have to constantly remember that the thing that separates me from Hitler in terms of deserving hell or heaven has nothing to do with the deaths of 20 million (plus) people.  It has to do with the fact that I'm a sinner, just like he was; but I am a sinner saved by grace.  I have no evidence he was.  I don't know of anyone who does have that evidence.

I suppose the biggest reason people deny the existence of hell relates to my first idea...it is too terrible to contemplate.  But not being thinkable doesn't make it go out of existence.  The idea that Jesus would die on a cross for someone like me is too hard to contemplate as well, but it happened.  That's the nature of God's grace.  But for there to be anything called 'grace' at all, there has to be something called 'justice'.

The great irony of time is that the moment in history where God's grace is seen the clearest, at the cross, is also the moment in time where God's justice is seen in all its power the clearest.  Grace and mercy come together with justice and wrath at the cross.  Wow.

05 March 2011

Baseball Season Rolls In!

I'm headed out in a few minutes to take my 11-year-old to tryouts for the local city baseball league.  I also just found out last week I'm coaching my older boys' team in the 13-15 year-olds.  This will be my 11th season as a youth baseball coach, and every year I coach I learn just enough more to realize how much I don't know.

But I love baseball season!

Go Cards!!