Monday, July 04, 2005

The Necessity of Observation in Metaphysics and the Impossability of Erasing

This post and the next are merely musings in fields that I do not have any expertise in. I just wonder/wander about (stuff), and think it is worth writing down in the hope that someone who is an expert in the field might pick it up and go with it or else show me the impossability of the thesis. These will be short and unelaborated upon...

If metaphysically, something must be observed to actually exist (see quantum physics), then I wonder about the "impact" of the observer on reality. If there is some kind of "impact", I wonder if there would be some way to detect and measure the impact. In other words, like a path in the woods, that which is well traveled will exist long after it is no longer traveled. In fact, ancient trade routes are even now being mapped from infrared satellite imaging since the impact of their making was significant, their reality could not ultimately be 'erased'. Thus I wonder if we will not be able to read impact of all sorts some day. Like an event that happened in a room: Could we reconstruct it based on the impact of observing beings that were there? Could it be that we can never actually erase reality, but rather we only layer it on? Could we peel back layers of reality in a certain specified area and actually re-see the earlier reality?

It seems that everything from crime scene investigation, to historiography would be impacted by this ability, and thus nothing done in secret would be able to remain hidden. Although I wonder if this theory is possible, and even think that it is, I do not at all think that it impacts the reality of the supernatural and the eschatological judgement of God when He, by the working of His own supernatural power, will expose reality for all to see as He judges the thoughts and intentions of every man. Just because I can, via radio wave or cable or satellite, see what is going on on the other side of the world right now, this is not even in the same category as the omniscience of the God of Scripture.

Semper Reformanda and the New Anti-Church Movement

We are fast approaching something of a crisis when it comes to the traditional notion of 'church'. More and more, people are opting to walk away from the established 'church' and choosing instead to 'be the church', meeting in their homes with just their family or, with the more compromising among this group, a small band of like-minded expatriots.

While there is variation in the orginizing prinicple of the particular groups or individuals that have chosen this route (e.g. Apocoplyptic self-identifications, a desire to be like the 'early church', a return to some prestine time of ecclesiological 'attainments', etc.), a radical principle is shared across the board. That radical principle is a bastard version of semper reformanda, which we have seen before, and whose trajectory is headed in the same destructive direction. Let me first define it, then vindicate my claim that we have seen it before, and finally 'prophesy' as to the future.

Semper reformanda is a Reformation era principle. While its origins are somewhat suspect, its principle has enjoyed currancy within the Reformed Church, along side its more stalwart relations, the Five Solis: Sola Scriptura, Sola gratia, Sola fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo gloria. Semper reformanda is actually part of a larger phrase which goes, Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda dia vox Deo (The Church Reformed, always reforming, according to the Word of God). The point is that, the church has been reformed and yet it is still in the process of being more and more conformed to the Word of God. Essentially, semper reformanda is phrase indicating the ongoing need for sanctification, not endless doctrinal revision. Today when one cries semper reformanda it is usually at the expense of semper reformata. Today, rather than indicating an acknowledgement of the need for continued sanctification-bringing practice into conformity with belief-it is an attempt to legitimize doctrinal renovation by an appeal to history. In this regard, those who weild it today show they are mere children of the enlightenment seeking to impose their new theological musings by means of power; the power of a tradition that they are repudiating.

We have seen this before. This is nothing more than a baked-over, Radical-Reformation in the Anabaptist tradition. Claiming, and apparently reading, the Bible only, these modern naives have learned nothing from history and so are repeating it. This they would see as their badge of honor. Who is truer to the principle sola scriptura than they? Let's go back to the Bible and reconstruct the faith according to a simple, non-predjudiced, objective method of everyday Christians reading their Bibles. By this method we will bypass the corruption of the academy and can be assured that we are in the light, for surely we are not like them. If I had a dollar for every group that has begun on such a supposidly high ground... We are them and they are us.

The stage of history is strune with 'groups' once Christian. When the Bible-only method of theologizing is adopted the biblical method is abandoned, and error is inevitable. The Bible tells us to honor our father and our mother. The Bible tells us that if we neglect our father and our mother under the guise of pursuing righteousness, we are wicked, not righteous. The Reformers-those identified as the Magesterial Reformation-with their Bibles as the ultimate authority, honored the real and delegated authority of the Church's tradition. They cautiously and patiently and within the bounds of the church, submitted to the Word of God. The Anabaptists-those identified as the Radical Reformation-rejected church authority and tradition, held historical theology in contempt, and ultimately rejected the Word of God. The legecy of Socinians, Quakers, Arminians, etc. speak clearly to this trend.

The modern anti-church movement is a kindred soul to the Radical Reformation. As more and more people reject the church today for their particular idiosyncratic 'thing', they begin the march into oblivian only stopping now and then to have their visas stamped at the station of various former errors. They will die. But the church will remain...still not as beautiful as she will be when He whose she is perfects her finally. But nontheless alive and well because of her Him who loved her and gave Himself for her.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Law/Gospel Contrast & Worship

A most basic principle of hermenuetics is the Law/Gospel contrast. The Law/Gospel contrast is primary to Reformed theology and vital to a proper interpretation and application of the Bible. In our day, there is a radical shift in thinking about the Law/Gospel contrast among supposedly "reformed" scholars and teachers. While this radical shift is largely due to a desire to combat antinomianism (lit. anti-lawism), which is rampent in modern evangelicalism, the shift itself is radically antinomian. While desiring to enforce the Law, the modern, so-called "reformed" teachers and scholars have actually lowered it and are destroying it.

By denying the Law/Gospel contrast, the new teaching equates them. Thus if the Law is going to be "good news" or Gospel, it must be do-able. Thus the high standard and terror of the Law is lowered and it is redefined to be requiring something closer to good intentions, rather than actual perfection. Not only does this new, low view of the Law ultimately destroy the Gospel, it necessarily must infect and change worship practice.

What a person believes concerning his salvation will determine how he views worship.

If salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, then worship, which is glorying in our redemption, will necessarily be confined to that which God alone has called for. In other words, those who believe that they have not contributed to their salvation, will also not seek to contribute to the worship of God. Worship parallels the Gospel in this regard.

With this introduction, notice how Calvin draws these two issues together as well and shows how the logical outworking of a faulty understanding of the Law necessarily results in a faulty understanding of worship:

"Since men have turned aside from pure and holy obedience to God, they have discovered that good intention was sufficient to approve everything. This was to open the door to all superstitions. It has been the origin of the worship of images, the purchase of masses, the filling of churches with pomp and parade, the running about on pilgrimages, the making of vows by each at his own hand. But the abyss here is so profound that it is enough for us to have touched on some examples. So far is it from being permitted to honour God by human inventions, that there would be no firmness nor certainty, neither bottom nor shore in religion: everything would go to wreck, and Christianity differ in nothing from the idolatries of the heathen."

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Who Were The Covenanters?

I pastor the Springs Reformed Church in Colorado Springs, CO. We are part of the denomination of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA). Our history goes back to 17th century Scotland and the reformed heritage known as the "Covenanted Reformation". Those who held to the principles of the Covenanted Reformation came to be known as the "Covenanters".

Who were the Covenanters and what wre the issues? The follow link is to a website that is helpful as an introdution to the Covenanters.

Below is off of the website in answer to the question: Who were the Covenanters?:

Simply stated, the Covenanters were those people in Scotland who signed the National Covenant in 1638. They signed this Covenant to confirm their opposition to the interference by the Stuart kings in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Stuart kings harboured the belief of the Divine Right of the Monarch. Not only did they believe that God wished them to be the infallible rulers of their kingdom - they also believed that they were the spiritual heads of the Church of Scotland. This latter belief could not be accepted by the Scots. No man, not even a king, could be spiritual head of their church. Only Jesus Christ could be spiritual head of a Christian church. This was the nub of the entire Covenanting struggle.

The Scots were, and would have been, loyal to the Stuart dynasty but for that one sticking point, and from 1638, when the Covenant was signed, until the Glorious Revolution - when Prince William of Orange made a bloodless invasion of Great Britain in 1688 - a great deal of suffering, torture, imprisonment, transportation and executions would ensue. King Charles I had introduced the Book of Common Prayer to Scotland in 1637 to the fury and resentment of the populace. He declared that opposition to the new liturgy would be treason, and thus came about the Covenant.

There followed a period of very severe repression. Ministers with Covenanting sympathies were "outed" from their churches by the authorities, and had to leave their parishes. Many continued to preach at "conventicles" in the open air or in barns and houses. This became an offence punishable by death. Citizens who did not attend their local churches (which were now in the charge of Episcopalian "curates") could be heavily fined, and such offenders were regarded as rebels, who could be questioned, even under torture. They could be asked to take various oaths, which not only declared loyalty to the king, but also to accept his as head of the church. Failure to take such an oath could result in summary execution by the muskets of the dragoons, who were scouring the districts looking for rebels.

The persecutions became more frequent and cruel on the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. As time went on more and more ordinary folk became involved, and skirmishes and battles took place against Government troops. In 1678 the Government raised an army of 6,000 Highlanders, who had no love for the Presbyterian lowlanders. This army swept through the west and south of Scotland, looting and plundering. They remained for many years, quartering themselves on the already impoverished Covenanters.

There are many books that have been written which are moving testimonies to the struggles and battles of the Scotch Covenanters. The stand tall as historical examples of how men should live...and how men should die.

Barbie Meets Jesus: Part 2

The following is from my good friend Jack Smith at the Banner of Truth. Commenting on the "Barbie Meets Jesus" article he writes:

I think this may be the same company that introduced the (and I shiver as I write this) bobble-head Jesus, Moses, and David dolls at the (another shiver) Christian Booksellers Association convention last year. There was also a (shiver) God action figure dressed in a white robe with white shoulder length hair. He apparently takes steroids and is a weight lifter.The last figure I mentioned comes bubble packed with an AK-47. I would encourage ... prayers ... for the abominable state of (shiver) Christian publishing. The only vendor that I'm aware of that has been rejected from participating at the CBA trade show was a manufacturer of(shiver) Christian lingerie. CBA was quite proud of themselves for taking this noble stand.

Maybe if we can get Barbie to wear some of the new "Christian" lingerie she could pass for a Christian and we could then have her come and address the CBA convention next year!

Barbie Meets Jesus

The subject above is the headline in the "Inside the Beltway" section of the April 26 Washington Times. The text of the article is below:

The Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co., creators of dolls such as Shrek and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, announces a new line of interactive Bible characters that promise to entertain children while engaging them in Bible stories. "It's always been on my heart to do this, and now we finally have the right talent and right people to make a doll line of the greatest people ever to walk the earth," says David Socha, founder of the company and creator of the Messengers of Faith dolls. Initially, dolls depicting Jesus Christ, David, Moses, Esther and Mary are being produced, with additional Biblical characters to be released in the future.

If we can't get kids to believe in Jesus, at least we can get them to play with Him...?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Pope and the Press

The following is from an entry that was posted on a discussion list I belong to. I think it is excellent and really hits the nail on the head as to the differences between Protestantism and Catholicsim:

Gene Edward Veith wrote a good article on the Roman church here:

What I liked about it is that in just one short article he wrote three things that the media and many evangelicals simply miss:

1) The RCC's media savvy is precisely because they are this-worldly:

"Many evangelicals are probably envious, thinking no way are we ever going to get this kind of good press. Roman Catholicism—with its image-centeredness, visible worldwide institutions, and externalized rituals—is certainly more media-friendly than Protestantism, which is Word-centered, decentralized, and internalized. The media is oriented to celebrities, and in the pope they have one. "

2) The RCC is not conservative but incredibly liberal and relativist on the thing that matters most:

"In one area, the late pope was not traditional at all. By emphasizing that good works are the fruit of God's grace, he had many Lutherans and evangelicals thinking that Catholics now agree with them on justification by faith. But the pope applied this principle to other religions, as well. If Muslims and Hindus demonstrate good works, that must be a sign of God's grace. Now, Catholics are teaching that not just other Christians but believers in other religions can be saved, even apart from conscious faith in Jesus Christ. This ecumenical theology tallies well with relativism, making Catholicism palatable to our new polytheistic culture."

3) The RCC, for all its pomp and show, does not in the end have the full Gospel:

"But though the pope was eulogized for all of his good works, the prayers begged God to let him into heaven, calling on Mary and the saints to intercede for him. Sadly missing was the liberating gospel of salvation through faith in the free forgiveness won by Christ alone."

May god help the church to recognize her "other-worldliness' and may we walk by faith and not by sight.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Geneva Still Standing Tall

While many protestants are falling all over themselves to show how accomodating they are in the wake of the death of Pope John Paul II (e.g. Doug Wilson giving his condolenses to Roman Catholics during a worship service, President Bush attending Mass in honor of the deceased Pope), it is refreshing to hear that the city of Geneva will not capitulate to the current, universal love-fest, by lowering their flag to half-mast in respect for the Pope. The following is the Reuters story:

GENEVA (Reuters) - Geneva, the birthplace of Calvinism, will once again mark its distance from the Vatican and not fly flags at half-mast for the funeral of Pope John Paul.

The city, where John Calvin introduced his austere version of Protestantism in the 16th century, said it would make no exception to a local rule that flags be only lowered for the death of a Swiss citizen.

"There is just no precedent of this sort in Geneva," said head of the local council Martine Brunschwig Graf, referring to calls for Geneva to go along with the rest of Switzerland in a gesture of respect for the Pontiff, who died on Saturday.

Calvin was a major figure in the Protestant Reformation and under his influence Geneva renounced papal authority, abolished mass and closed down monasteries in 1536.

Hopefully the day will dawn soon when Protestants will not be afraid to stand tall in the face of ecumincal peer-pressure and Geneva's example will once again influence the nations.

Sabbath Snow

I pastor a small church (the Springs Reformed Church-RPCNA in Colorado Springs, CO) and today we have a 'snow day'. That is, this morning we have blizzard-like conditions and since we have folks that travel over an hour to get here, we decided that the safest thing to do is to cancel our services this morning.

It is a bit odd for me to have a 'snow day'. It just doesn't seem right! I study all week and prepare to lead this congregation in the worship of God. This, I know, is significant (2 Tim. 4:1-2), but I still need to keep it in perspective...

...this is the Lord's Day after all! This is God's Day and He controls the weather and He has decided that this Sabbath will be too snowy for this little congregation to gather together for worship. And, He has decided that this preacher will not deliver his sermon today to this people.

Who can know the ways of the Lord? A man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his path. From my perspective I am tempted to interpret today's events in light of 'me'. But there is a whole lot more going on in this world and going on today, than 'my sermon' or even the congregation that I pastor.

Each will take this day, hopefully, from the Lord, accepting His providencial decision to pour forth a blizzard, locking us all up in our homes with our families today.

But this is still the Lord's Day. He still owns it and He still calls us to delight in Him.

As far as I am concerned, I will lead my family in worship this morning and then spend the day with them. In fact we will take this as a reprive from the Lord and a time to spend time with each other and to edify each other.

Among other things (e.g. discussing things with my wife, talking with my girls, wrestling with my boys, etc.), I will sit by the window, cup of coffee in hand, and I will just watch the white come down and blow about...

...I think I needed this Sabbath snow.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Sanctification...Sola Fide?

Sanctification by faith alone? Is that title uncomfortable to you? What is your understanding of sanctification? The fact that sanctification is by faith alone has been misunderstood, abused, and, most of the time, rejected. Reformed Christians have (rightly) worked hard to distinguish between justification and sanctification, arguing that justification is the legal declaration of 'righteous' based upon the meritorious righteousness of Jesus Christ, and not a statement of the actual condition of the believer himself. Yet it seems that while Protestants have worked so hard to keep our works out of justification, that often they have mistakenly thought that since they have kept them far from justification, therefore they can then safely pour them into the catagory of sanctification. Sanctification is the actual infusion of the righteousness of Christ into us, even as justification is the actual imputation of the righteousness of Christ to our account. Francis Turretin says concerning the difference between justification and sanctification,

The former consists in the judicial and forensic act of remission of sin and imputation of righteousness; the latter in the physical and moral act of infusion of righteousness and internal renovation.

In like manner, the Westminster Larger Catechism #77 states concerning this difference:

...God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof...

I hope to be arguing in a series herein on Linkin' Blogs, for the biblical and Reformed doctrine of sanctification by faith alone in Christ alone. In the mean time, and keeping with the purpose of this blog, let me suggest a few foundational works that are essential reading on the subject:

John Owen, Sin & Temptation (This is the best work on subject of mortification ever written. It is currently out of print, but one of the books that is contained in this little, abridged volume is availible at the link below)

Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (This is the best single volume on the whole subject of sanctification ever written. It has recently been republished and is availible at the link below)

William Romaine, The Life, Walk, and Triumph of Faith (This is an excellent treatment on the whole subject of living by faith. If you try to buy it anywhere else but the link below you could pay over $ it is only $15. While at the Reformation Heritage Books site, you may wish to also purchase Romaine's other excellent volume, 12 Discourses on the Law & the Gospel)

If you can get these and read them, you will be instantly edified and on your way to understanding sanctification, and that it is by faith in Christ alone.

Monday, April 04, 2005

A Breath of Fresh Air

Tired of all the palp that passes for music within Christian circles? Then check out Jason Coghill, a gifted musician from Australia who not only has talent, but also a keen theological mind and a heart for using his gifts according to the Word of God. Bio from his website states:

In 1995 Jason, together with Matthew Jacoby and Rod Gear formed the band Sons of Korah, now an internationally renowned acoustic trio dedicated to composing music to the psalms. Jason left the band to pursue a solo career, composing, arranging and producing recordings of the psalms in various musical and acappella styles. He continues in this and also teaches singing at senior college level.
Jason leads the singing at the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia in Geelong, where he is also a deacon. In 2000, at age 28, he graduated from the Reformed Theological College, Geelong, with a Diploma of Theology. Jason is married to Jane who is also a musician currently studying at Melbourne University.
Jason has written an excellent essay entitled "Entertain Evangelsim: And never the twain shall meet" (posted on his website) which asks tough questions of the current CCM scene. He argues that specific goals require specific means, and then asks why we have rock concerts if our stated purpose is to evangelize the lost. The Word of God nowhere calls for the employment of music as a means of why are we thinking that our modern Christian rock bands will be an effectual means of bringing salvation to sinners? I commend the essay to you for your careful and prayerful read.
Where does Jason's music fit in? I would suggest it is in the category of edification. Like good theological conversation over a nice meal or a good cup of coffee, Jason's music is both pleasing to the senses and spiritual uplifting. He has worked at setting the Psalms...word-for-word out of the English translations (mostly NIV and NKJV) appropriate music so that Christians might hide them in their hearts and have them on their minds.
The style is basically a melodic acoustic-folk...mostly just Jason and his guitar, but also some flute (played by his wife Jane Jacobs), some bass, and some harmonies. Many of my friends who have purchased his most recent CD, "Songs of Deliverance", are saying that it is "the best Christian music" they "have ever heard." I concur with this assesment and I am very picky when it comes to music.
Go to his website, read the mission statement, read the reviews, read his articles... Buy his latest CD and then eagerly await the release of a new one in July.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fighting Fire With Fire

I recieved an email today from Vision Video advertising a video for "reaching the post-modern generation" ( It is entitled, "The Changing Face of Worship", and the information about it states:

Today's Christian churches face the challenge of existing in a postmodern world,
in which all principles are questioned,
all opinions and beliefs are proclaimed equally valid
-if not equally true-
and everything is considered relative.
Throughout North America,
a rapidly growing movement known as 'alternative worship' is addressing this challenge.
This program explores the changing expressions of modern-day worship
as churches use visual arts,
edgy music,
or even a chat room online
to offer experiences that are both
culturally relevant and theologically responsible.

It is pathetic that the church has decided to 'address' the notion of post-modernism, that ' relative', by accepting that very thesis and applying it to the arena of worship. Worship, which is supposed to be addressed to the infinite, unchanging, eternal, God-wherein we are to be conformed into His image and likeness-is now being purported to be a mirror in the hand of the church to simply reflect whatever the culture around her might dictate. We are more afraid of being irrelevant than irreverant; more afraid of offending the world than offending God. It is abundantley clear that we 'worship' our culture...not our God.

I hope that those who purchase this video will weep and repent at the sad state of the Bride of Christ, as she has played the whore with the world and filmed it for all to see. God have mercy upon us.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Visible Church & The Outer Darkness

Dr. Richard Bacon's litte book, The Visible Church & The Outer Darkness (Dallas: Blue Banner Books, 1992) is one of the most succinct and helpful compendiums of the Reformed consensus on the issue of seperation. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee endorses it saying, "All true Westminster Calvinists will read Bacon's book with much approval." While the book was originally written as a response to Kevin Reed's monograph, "Presbyterian Government in Extraordinary Times" (1991), it will be relevant and helpful to any interested in the general subject of the nature of the church, schism, seperationism, etc. The book is availible for the amazingly low price of $1.50:

Linkin' Blogs

When I first heard about blogging, I thought to myself, "What an arrogant venture. Who would presume to think that others would 'tune in' to follow their stream of consciousness?" I still think this.

So why Linkin' Blogs? I was speaking at a conference in January of 2005 and some of the attendees asked if I had a blog. I said, "No. What an arrogant venture. Who would presume to think that others would 'tune in' to follow their stream of consciousness?" They said, "Since you read a lot, you could use it as a review page and as source for links to resources that are available on various subjects."

I do read a lot. I am asked often for information about various subjects. Thus I have decided to launch Linkin' Blogs as a place to store reviews and links in hopes that it will prove useful to some folks.

The name, "Linkin' Blogs", is from my wife who when I explained to her the concept behind the blog I was urged to start, said, "How about 'Linkin' Blogs', as a play on the toy, 'Lincoln Logs'?"

I am sure that I will veer from time to time, off of the stated purpose and philosophy of Linkin' Blogs, but I do hope that some of the links and resources will be helpful to whoever 'tunes in'.