Friday, July 27, 2007

The real issues

Dr. Mohler has concluded his online debate with Orson Scott Card on Beliefnet and his frustration is palpable in his final, gracious post. The question all along has been simple, "Are mormons Christian?" Mr. Card, in his lengthy posts, has addressed every issue BUT that question. As Dr. Mohler states:

The debate has never been about whether Mormons are good Americans or would make good neighbors. I dare say that most American Evangelicals and traditional Roman Catholics would find more in common with Mormons in terms of child-rearing, sexual morality, the protection of marriage and family, and a host of other issues, than they would with liberal Catholics or liberal Protestants. No argument there.

The debate is not over Mitt Romney or his right to run for President of the United States. That is a settled constitutional fact – and a fact for which we should all be thankful. Nor is it about whether Evangelicals should vote for Mitt Romney. There is so much to admire in the man’s marriage and family and leadership ability. This question is very complicated – as is the case with almost all political questions.

The debate is not over the right of Mormons to hold their faith, promote their faith, and spread their faith. That, too, is a constitutional right – the same right that protects the religious liberty of all persons of all faiths and no faith.

For me, and as the question was posed to me, the issue is theological. That is why I cannot answer the question except as I have from the start.

The issue is not about sincerity, or being good neighbors or being qualified to hold public office, but rather whether or not mormon beliefs can be rightly considered to be Christian. If so, then we could accept our differences, just as I accept my differences with Presbyterians or Lutherans. If not, as is the case, then mormons hold to a damning false belief system that lacks the power to save and as such are in peril of their eternal souls, and in that respect are no different than atheists, pagans, muslims or any other unbeliever. Thanks again to Dr. Mohler for declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ, clearly, lovingly and unflinchingly.
Will Mitt give "The Speech"?

Fox News reports that Mitt Romney is considering giving a speech, ala John Kennedy, on the role of his mormon faith if he were elected President.

It would be the honest thing to do but I am under no illusions that Romney will address any of the legitimate issues that surround mormonism.

The question comes up again and again. Will or should evangelicals vote for Romney? I would say no, not because of his mormon faith but because he has proven to be a fair weather conservative. His mormonism is not a reason to vote against him. His lack of legitimate conservative credentials are.

CAMPONTHIS: Steve Camp asks the question: Murder of dogs sparks more outrage than the murder of human beings. What does that say about our culture?

A great piece by Steve Camp. When you look at NFL players like Jamal Lewis (cocaine dealing), Randy McMichael (spousal battery), Ray Lewis (escaped a murder rap) they have all gotten back on the field. Jamal Lewis got sentenced so that he wouldn't miss any playing time. But Michael Vick gets accused of being involved in dog fighting and he gets crucified in the press. A recent poll in Atlanta had 66% of people stating that if these allegations are true, Vick should never play again. That may be fair, but why should the penalty for dog fighting be more severe than the other crimes above. Mistreating dogs is worse than mistreating your wife? We permit the murder of millions of unborn, innocent children and advocates for life are routinely portrayed as extremists, religious zealots. Animal "rights" nuts like those from PETA get treated like prophets. What sort of world do we live in?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Good stuff from James White

Dr. White has a real knack for clearly presenting the doctrines of grace, and this interview on predestination is a perfect example of it.

I liked the comment from Dr. Tony Lane, when he states that the question of whether we choose God or He chooses us is answered yes and yes, but the real question is whther or not we choose God because He first chose us, or God chooses us based on our eventual choice of Him. That is good stuff, clearly stated and the English accent gives it extra gravitas!

Here is part two...

Here is the part three...

Dr. White brings up Acts 13:48, And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. This is a rock solid verse that supports predestination and effectual calling.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Good news from Cleveland?

After the Browns signed LeCharles Bentley, only to have the Cleveland native and Ohio State alum blow out his knee, get a staph infection, nearly die and presumably doomed to never play football again, it was business as usual for tortured Browns fans. He never played a down in a real game for Cleveland, hence the lack of action photos of him in a Browns uniform.
But the rumors have been swirling and seem to be true. Two time All-Pro center LeCharles Bentley is back and presuming he passes his final physical will play against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers on opening day. If Joe Thomas is as good at left tackle as advertised, with Eric Steinbach at left guard and Bentley at center we will have (at least on one side) one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Add to that a healthy Jamal Lewis, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow and the Browns may have suddenly gone from offensive joke to real threat. Of course given that this is the Browns we are talking about, a volcano will likely spring up in the middle of Cleveland and wipe out the whole team. But for one day anyway we have a glimmer of hope.

Wildly successful!

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Creation Museum will host it's 100,000 visitor at some point today. Keep in mind it has been open less than 2 months. I doubt the pace will continue at this torrid rate but if they get 100,000 visitors every two months that tallies to 600,000 for the year (which is more than the Underground Railroad Museum Freedom Center has brought in over it's several year tenure looming over the Ohio River). Even more encouraging is that attendance is picking up rather than slowing down:

"The crowds have just been getting bigger every day since opening," Zovath said. "... We're pretty pleased with the response."...The first two Saturdays in July had more visitors than previous Saturdays, Zovath said. He expects about 3,500 people to come through the museum today, about 500 fewer than on opening day.

The only problem is a good one, not enough parking!

More spaces are needed to accommodate the cars, buses and recreational vehicles coming to the museum. Answers in Genesis, the ministry that runs the museum, has asked Boone County Planning Commission to approve about 650 more spaces. The museum currently has about 500 spaces.

I pray that God continues to bless this ministry and that many more people have the chance to see the truth of the Bible exhibited. I grow more excited all the time about our trip down to Cinci to visit the museum. The only questions is whether we go September 7th or the 28th. The Brewers are in town the 7th and the Cubs the 28th, and I want to catch a Reds game while we are there. So go see the Cubbies play, which is always fun in Cinci because so many Cubs fans show up and we can watch Soriano play or the Brewers, to watch Prince Fielder and rookie phenom (and fantasy baseball stud!) Ryan Braun. Not that the Reds don't stink, but just for nostalgia sake. I went to the first ever game played at Great America Ball Park, an exhibition game against my Indians and I went 5+ times a season while we were there, so it would be fun to take the kids again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

OK, I have a problem with this...

Fox News reports that Wal-Mart is selling a new line of action figures. OK. And the theme is Bible heroes. OK. And the description is as follows:

The toys, based on biblical stories, include a 3-inch figure of Daniel in the lion's den, a 12-inch talking Jesus doll and 13-inch Samson action figure.

A 12 inch talking Jesus doll? The company, One2believe, apparently thinks that a small talking plastic idolatrous representation of the Sovereign Lord of Creation, the Lamb of God, the Alpha and the Omega is an effective disciplining and evangelism tool. I guess that whole second Commandment is irrelevant in today's church. I don't really even like paintings that depict an artists rendition of what Christ looks like, much less an action figure that sends the message that Jesus is just another cool toy, on par with Optimus Prime and G.I. Joe. This goes beyond what some call "Jesus Junk" or schlock sold at Christian stores. Perhaps I am just an old fuddy duddy curmudgeon out of step with modern methods of Christian education, but to me this enters into virtual mockery of Christ.

Where is the reverence? Where is the gravity? The honor? The respect? The fear of the Lord?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

VBS Pictures!

I finally managed to get the pics from VBS from my camera (the USB has suddenly stopped working) and will be posting them to the Grace Community Church blog shortly...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rome or nothing?

Joseph Ratzinger has caused quite a stir recently by simply reaffirming what Rome has always held: Rome alone is home to the true church, and anyone or any church who fails to recognize the primacy of the papacy and the authority of Rome is in grave error.

There are no lack of comments on his statements on blogs and the web. Some are over the top like the editorial titled “Pope starts holy war” by Jan Markell (but in fairness pretty much all of her editorials are over the top). Some are high comedy, like Fide-O (which is funny mainly for the picture). Many are quite substantive and address the issues he raised and refuting them, James White is notable here both in print and on the Dividing Line radio show. Albert Mohler has a typically thoughtful commentary titled: "No, I'm not offended" The only people who are offended are those who haven't really been paying attention all along anyway. But everyone pretty much agrees that his statements really don't change a thing, but rather restate what has always been the case.

Joseph Ratzinger may have done with his reaffirmation what the pleadings and reasoning of Protestant theologians over the course of the last few decades has been unable to do: draw once again the clear contrast between the teachings of Rome and the teachings of the Bible.

So much is made of recent converts to Rome, but the Protestant church holds far more blame than Rome deserves credit. Because so many professing Christians see churches that have abandoned biblical fidelity for the latest fad, the casual observer looks over the landscape of evangelical Christianity and figures that since we seemingly can't agree on anything we must not know what we are talking about. Thus the beckoning of Rome or Salt Lake City claiming to hold authority, be the "one true church" and have all the answers and negate the need for independent study of the Word is so succesful among those who . We have failed for so long to call out those who claim the name of Christ and deny His Word in the spirit of "tolerance" that for so much of America and the world it is really hard to figure out what the church does or does not believe.

The issues that led to the Reformation remain as valid today as they were 500 years ago. All the ecumenism in the world doesn’t change that, and doesn’t change the fact that “Christian unity” has nothing to do with coming together, and everything to do with bending the knee to Rome. I gladly kneel at the cross of Christ, but I will never bow to a manmade institution, never kiss the ring of a pope. Christ alone is worthy of the praise and adoration that the “bishop of Rome” demands for himself.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The unreported story on homeschooling

As usual, the "mainstream" media glosses over the achievements of homeschoolers at national academic events. The Home School Legal Defense Association recently pointed out the achievements of a couple of home educated kids at the national Spelling Bee and Geography Bee...

The winners of this year’s National Geographic Bee, Caitlin Snaring of Washington state, and the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Evan O’Dorney of California, were educated primarily by their parents in home-based instruction programs, a fact that was underreported by the media. Another underreported fact is that despite homeschoolers making up just 3 percent of the school-age population, they consistently represent, on average, 12 percent of the finalists in geography and spelling bees...

Few dispute that homeschoolers, who are around 2 million strong in the United States, are academically successful. Research shows that the average homeschooled student scores, on average, 20 to 30 percentile points higher than his or her public school counterparts on standardized tests.

In the Petoskey News-Review, they have featured the work of several local homeschoolers who have competed in an international engineering event:

Woo-hoo!Homer’s done it again!

A group of home-schooled students from Northern Michigan recently showed the world they have what it takes to compete on the international stage in science and engineering.Homer in this case is not the famous Simpson patriarch, but a cleverly designed, built and operated underwater robotics device.Constructed by five area home-schoolers, Homer tied for first place in the engineering category last month at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center’s 2007 remotely operated vehicle (ROV) competition in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

Students were challenged to use their robots to complete a series of underwater missions. Homer’s builders, the Great Lakes Homeschool Group, took sixth place overall out of 22 teams in the Ranger competition category, which was made up of high-school contestants as well as college-level teams competing for the first time.

Local home-school students involved in the project included John and Benjamin Ford of Wolverine, Hannah and Nathan Zowada of Petoskey and Scott Rhudy of Charlevoix. They qualified for the international matchup in St. John’s by winning a regional ROV competition last April in Alpena.

I am glad that when local kids do well academically, even though they are homeschooled, they are recognized by the Petoskey News-Review. Too often the same achievements by homeschool kids are glossed over by the "mainstream" media.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

This is funny stuff!

The continuing debate....

The debate continues on Beliefnet regarding whether or not mormonism is Christianity. As I expected, Dr. Mohler is continuing to focus on the facts and Mr. Card continues to appeal to emotions and defensiveness. This was an excellent statement by Dr. Mohler...

Mormonism uses the language of Christian theology and makes many references to Christ. Mr. Card wants to define Christianity in a most minimal way, theologically speaking. If I were arguing the other side of this question, I would attempt the same. But Christianity has never been defined in terms of merely thinking well of Jesus. Mormonism claims to affirm the New Testament teachings about Jesus, but actually presents a very different Jesus from the onset. A reading of Mormonism’s authoritative documents makes this clear.

All these things point back to the reason the question is so important in our contemporary context. Mormons want their religion to be seen as another form of Christianity. In other words, they want to identify with what from their inception they sought to deny. There are advantages to Mormonism on this score, but this surely places them in an awkward position.

Quite true. We realy could not ask for a better representative to expose the differences between mormonism and Christianity. Dr. Mohler is gracious, a brilliant writer, well informed, gentle and absolutely unyielding.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Evangelizing our children

A great discussion and a vital one on the Albert Mohler show. Dr. Russel Moore and Pastor Ted Tripp (author of Shepherding a Child's Heart) discuss children's evangelism and how we are doing, and what we should be doing differently. I heartily commend this program, although it is far too complex and important a topic to cover in 40 minutes or so.

By trying to make the Gospel message a series of moral lessons taught by vegetables, which makes it easier and more appealing for children, we run the risk of making the Gospel story just another fantasy story, a fairy tale, just another animated cool show. If the Gospel looks like the Transformers, is it any wonder that our children stop going to church when they stop watching cartoons. Evangelizing children is more than watching Veggietales movies, or going to VBS, or baptizing infants and hoping they are elect (obligatory cheap shot at paedobaptists) . It is declaring the truths of the Bible to children and calling them to faith and repentance.

One comment that I really liked can be paraphrased as such. We should be teaching our kids big truths that children grow into rather than small truths that children will grow out of. Every Christian should be able to say amen to that!

Arminianism is SOOO 1990’s….

There are two new blog entries that deal with the same basic issue, that is the renewed interest in Reformed theology in the church. One is from the Reformed Baptist Fellowship titled “I was a Calvinist when Calvinism wasn’t cool” and another from Mark Dever on the 9 Marks blog “Where did all these Calvinists come from?” . Both examine the underlying causes beneath the obvious rise of Calvinism all across the spectrum of churches.

Like many others I attribute the renewed interest to the ready availability of the writings of giants of Reformed theology. No longer are the works of Spurgeon or Edwards relegated to old personal libraries or seminaries but are right there at the click of a mouse to anyone who is interested (which is why I also believe that mormonism is slowly losing it’s grip in North America and growing overseas as the truth of mormonism is available outside of scandal mongers like Ed Decker of The Godmakers fame). Arminianism cannot stand the test of comparison when facing Reformed theology, either Biblically or logically, so the more lay members can examine the apologetics for themselves, the more obvious it becomes that Reformed theology wins the day. But for all that, for which God be praised, there are potential stumbling blocks that I see.

There are two dangers inherent in the renewed interest in Reformed theology…

One, that Reformed theology will become faddish, the latest “in” thing in Christianity, becoming a new form of legalism. Being able to pull out the “Calvinist” card will show that one is a "serious" Christian, and a lack of that credential will lead to disdain. Reformed theology MUST be driven by conviction from Scripture and not because our favorite authors or pastors are proponents of it.

Two that those of a “mature” standing Reformed theology will disdain as Johnnie-come-lately’s in the Reformed camp those newly minted Calvinists (some of this is already apparent in the relation between credo and paedo baptists, what some have called the pat on the head treatment Baptists receive frequently from those of the Presbyterian/Reformed camp). There is already too much "will the real Calvinists please stand up" on the blogosphere, "more Reformed than thou" attitudes that add to the Reformed doctrines other issues.

The church has a responsibility to make sure that along with the rise in Reformed theology that we retain the humility and perspective that should be a natural part of Calvinism, but too often is not...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More than meets the eye, indeed...

It is a pretty rare summer blockbuster that lives up to expectations, but the new Transformers movie does. For someone who grew up in the '80s, the Transformers were pretty cool back then but what they did in the onscreen adaptation is incredible. There is no lack of cars going fast, things going boom, robots turning into cars/helicopters/hummers/tanks etc. and back. There was never really a point where it slowed down appreciably, which is what you want from a 2 hour+ summer action flick. There was an excessive amount of crude sexual humor and langauge and of course lots of violence, but all in all it was a cool movie.

There is a scene early on with an AC-130 Spectre gunship turned on it's side and firing it's 105 mm cannon which is awesome.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The "Book of Abraham" Exposed

The Book of Abraham contains much of the most distinct mormon doctrines, doctrines that frankly don't even show up in the Book of Mormon. Despite that, it is not something (at least when we joined) something that is given out to investigators. Unlike the book of mormon, you have to buy your own book of Abraham, normally as part of your "quad". One of the best books I have read on the falsehoods of mormonism is By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus, which shows definitively the lies of the "translation" of the book of Abraham. There is now an online video that covers much of this material, if you have an hour sit back and watch!

(Hat Tip: Mormon Coffee)
Disturbing numbers

The Salt Lake Tribune has an article on the changing face of the mormon missionary force. As mormonism gradually becomes less and less North America focused, the mormon missionary focus and force is becoming less homogeneous.

What was really sobering were the numbers in a sidebar regarding the missionary forces of the mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Southern Baptists...

By the numbers: Missionaries

-- LDS: 53,868 full-time missionaries; 13,000,000 members

-- Southern Baptist Convention: 5,184 full-time missionaries (including: 3,029 career, 390 four year renewal term, 724 apprentice, 347 2-year terms, and 381 2-year for young people, 309 2-year retired); 16,300,000 members

-- Jehovah's Witnesses: 250 full-time missionaries, who work at least 130 hours a month; 6,741,444 active members who do at least an hour of proselytizing a month; 248,327 new members baptized in 2006

We need to reevaluate just how committed we are to mission work when the numbers are so dramatically disparate between the cult groups and orthodox Christianity.

(Hat Tip: Reformed Baptist Thinker)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Awesome T-Shirt!

Check this out, I have my email sent already so I can order me one. This may well be my second most favoritest t-shirt after my T!