Monthly Archives: August 2005

The Sea

I must go down to the sea again
To the lonely sea and the sky
And all I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by.

John Masefield


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Fundamentalism: The New Sex??

Carl Trueman always offers readers excellent insights into modern culture. As an historical theologian, he provides a very interesting spin (pardon the pun) on the events that surround us. His latest article for The Alliance is excellent: Is Fundamentalism the New Sex? I highly recommend reading it. It’ll change your view of fundamentalism (in all of its forms).

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There is a scene in Twin Peaks where Special Agent Dale Cooper advises that we should take the time out every day to give ourself a little gift. It doesn’t matter what it is, how big it is or anything like that. So long as it is something special for us to enjoy in the day.
I think that God does this for us, in ways that we both realize and don’t. I’m not speaking here of the unfathomable and amazing gift of grace we have as Christians, namely salvation in Jesus Christ. I mean in our day to day ramblings we receive from God glimpses of heaven.

I thought about this yesterday as I drove to London and back. I realized that the Lord had given me a little gift by allowing me to be absent from our day long faculty meeting in Burlington. Thankfully, Dr. Haykin had asked me to go to London to pick up his laptop powercord he left in a hotel there on the weekend. So I jumped at the chance yesterday morning and drove in complete silence there and back. It was such a good time to think and pray, my mind feels well excercised. As Kierkegaard could say of silence, “If I were a physician, and if I were allowed to prescribe just one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence. For even if the Word of God were proclaimed in the modern world, how could one hear it with so much noise? Therefore, create silence.”

An aspect of the gift was getting to visit some old friends whom I don’t get to see often. Greg McManus is pastoring in London and I very rarely see him or his family. Greg and I have been friends for about 5 years now, a very good friend at that, so seeing him yesterday was a blessing to my soul. Greg has been one of the key shapers of my life, and I wouldn’t be who I am today were it not for him. He’s been a tremendous source of encouragement, wisdom and guidance. I really miss him, Lisa and the kids.

I ate lunch at the McManus’ (graciously provided by Lisa) and Greg and I sat around talking about modern culture and philosophy. It never fails that, even when we don’t talk for a while, our interests seem to move together. He’s reading books that I would be very interested in and vice versa. In fact, after he drove me to the hotel to pick up Dr. Haykin’s laptop cord, we went to Attic Books and bought our fill. He bought some of my recommendations and I his. I really only bought three books:

The World Treasury of Modern Religious Thought – Jaroslav Pelikan
Christ and Culture – H. Richard Niebuhr
Cytogenetics (for Vicky).

Last night the chair of New Testament Studies here at TBS (Dr. Pierre Constant) ate dinner with Vicky and I. Afterwards we sat around and drank wine, talking about issues in New Testament studies. I drove Pierre to the train station at 6:30am this morning – hence why I’m so tired today.

Tonight Vicky and I will help our friends Ryan and Christina Case move into their new apartment. Afterwards we’ll likely go to prayer meeting at Holy Word Church.

That’s all for now!

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Here’s a big one: The Fertility Divide – Canada/U.S.

Al Mohler’s recent blog entitled “The New Fertility Divide – What’s Happening in Canada?” has particular interest to Canadians. Citing the August/September edition of Policy Review Mohler explains that fertility rates are among the many differences between Canada and the U.S. The liberal political policy that has dominated Canadian politics in the last number of decades, with increases in abortion, gay marriage, etc., has rendered the rate of fertility by almost half of a child per family fewer than what it had been even in the 1980s. The marriage rate in Canada is 60% of the American rate.
Major factors that contribute to the divide centre around worldview issues, which really should come as no surprise. A society’s views on God will strongly determine their overall ethic, and will have dramatic socio-economic results.
To read the blog, go here; to read the study go here.


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Sorry I missed it.

My pastor posted a blog on the recent time of fellowship spent amongst my brothers and sisters at Holy Word Church. The picture he posted says it all! I wish we had been there.

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Edwards Centre Conference with Tom Ascol

Just a quick note for any who may be interested. The Jonathan Edwards Centre for Reformed Spirituality will be hosting it’s 3rd Annual Autumn Lecture this year on October 1, 2005. We are happy to have as our guest speaker, Dr. Tom Ascol of Founders Ministries. His topic will be on “C.H. Spurgeon and Family Piety.” The lecture will begin at 10am. Dr. Ascol will also be the speaker at the Toronto Baptist Seminary Autumn Convocation.
For anyone interested in reading Dr. Ascol’s Blog, click

Hope to see you there!

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How the mighty have fallen.

Pat Robertson got himself into a bit of a situation recently with his comments on national TV suggesting that the president of Venezuela should be assassinated. These aren’t exactly the statements that should be coming out of the mouth of a nationally recognized Christian leader (to say the least).
Al Mohler’s call for Robertson to retract his statement and repent is an important read. Not all Christian leaders in the U.S. hold to the senitments of Robertson, thankfully.
It’s instances like this that can make us wince as Christians. A person like Pat Robertson can do a lot of good for the gospel, no doubt. But he can also do a significant amount of damage. That’s the problem with the celebrity-like status of some Christians like Swaggart, Bakker or even Jerry Falwell. Attaining such a public profile can cause Christianity a lot of grief, especially if the brand of Christianity looks less like the Bible and more like a circus.
Many high-profile Christians that appear in mass media suffer from the varying problems of moralism (in the case of Robertson, Falwell, etc.), a wishy-washy gospel (Osteen), money grubbing (Hinn, Copeland, etc.) or freak-show Christianity (again, Hinn and Copeland as well as the Crouches and other TBN folk).
What ever happened to simple faith?

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You won’t get past my .48

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Jane gave Vicky and I a stamp that says, “From the Library of Victoria and Ian Clary.” It was a late anniversary gift. I hadn’t been home in two months, so she didn’t have the chance to give it to us.
I was stoked to get it. Now I have to stamp the roughly 1000 books in my office.

Fun. (Seriously).

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When leaves begin to die…

Well, it was good to be home in Windsor for the weekend. I should start by apologizing to for failing to return his Easy Rider and The Band DVDs. I’m a moron for forgetting and promise to bring it home in a week or two! SORRY!
Friday night we drove to London and met Corinne to help her move her bed back to Windsor. It took forever to get there because the Toronto traffic was so heavy. Thankfully we left Toronto early, so by the time we got the bed and drove to Windsor, it was still early.

I just sat here for about five minutes trying to remember what we did on Friday night. My mind is blown and I couldn’t remember. It just occurred to me that we took Corinne’s bed to my mom’s house and stored it in the garage and then visited with my sister before she went to work.
My sister Jane has worked as a supervisor at Chrysler all summer. She’s been on steady midnights, except during shut-down when she worked days. My sister has an iron work ethic and practically kills herself working three jobs. My sister also has a will of iron, which I’ve come to respect over the past few years. She quit smoking almost three years ago and started dieting a year and a half ago and looks great. She has a drive in life that I may very well never have. Her grades are almost impeccable and the reports she gets from her supervisors for her co-op are almost always perfect.
She recently broke up with her boyfriend whom she dated for four and a half years. She realized that the two of them were on different levels, and though she still counts him as a friend, she had the guts to get out of the rut that so many find themselves in and freed herself to find the one she’s meant to be with.
I never really write about my sister in here, but I think about her a lot. We’ve had our ups and downs, as many siblings do, but I truly count her as a friend and am thankful to God that she’s my sister. God willing, one day, He’ll bring her to Christ.

On Saturday we hung around Vicky’s for a while. We had a good breakfast and then went to Devonshire Mall. It’s odd how I live near the Eaton’s Centre in Toronto, but prefer to shop at Devonshire in Windsor. I bought a really good book:

Faith in the Age of Reason: The Enlightenment from Galileo to Kant – Jonathan Hill

Most of the time that Vicky and Corinne spent shopping was spent by me reading this book. Every time they went into a store, I sat on a bench and read. I hope to finish it shortly and review it for Eusebeia.

Saturday night we took Vicky’s parent’s Staffordshire Bull Terrier for a walk. His name is Max and could very well be the best dog I’ve ever known.

My mom had been Dragonboat racing in Port Dover Friday and Saturday. She came home Saturday night which was also her birthday. When she came home, the three of us went over to my old house to hang out. We gave my mom her gift and sat up until about 1am talking to her. We were going to watch Million Dollar Baby but thankfull didn’t take the time to see it. I have no desire to see that movie for one reason or another.

Sunday spent at church. How good it felt to be sitting under the Word of God preached by my pastor. Richard Valade is a man that I have tremendous respect for. My hope is to one day go back to Windsor to live, and learn the art of pastoring from him. He’s amazing.
There was good fellowship after the morning service. It was great to hang out with Chris and Lisa Lajoie. I hate how I hardly get to see them and the twins anymore. I’ve known Chris since grade nine, although we never hung out. He was a few grades ahead of me, and I really only knew him by reputation. We started hanging out about five and a half years ago when I joined a Bible study he and his fiancee (at the time) led a Bible study on the Gospel of John. I had just come to Calvinistic convictions when we started to go out half-regularly for coffee when one night we started talking about the doctrines of grace. I remember his reaction as clearly as if it were yesterday. He was blown away by how awesome and freeing Calvinism was and he was incredibly incenced by the fact that no one had ever told him about it before.
Chris has been such a good friend and brother in Christ. He’s always been nothing but encouraging and uplifting in the faith. I miss the days when he and I worked for Mastec installing cable. That was a hell of a good time, as hard as the work was. I really came to appreciate what a good man he is seeing him in such an environment. I couldn’t have had a better best man at my wedding.
Hopefull he and his wife Lisa will go to Stratford with us soon to hang out and see a play. I’m anxious to have some deeper fellowship with them in Christ.

We got in sooooo late last night, and I’m in such a funk right now. I can barely string a sentence together. My mind is shot. I don’t know how I’m going to get anything done.

I’m glad that Clint and Christel are coming back to Toronto this week. I can’t believe how fast the summer has flown by.

Anyways, I need to stop writing in this and do something productive.

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Mathematics: Necessarily Christian

Does 2+2=4???

I’ve never, ever been a math guy. I fought my way through highschool math, barely scraping by. My mind just does not think in terms of mathematical categories. If you put a gun to my head and told me to do long-division, you’d probably have to shoot me, because I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’m always amazed at a person who loves math, and would rather solve some horrible looking equation than sit on a lake and fish.
Bertrand Russell, when I think he was 11, became fascinated with math and wanted to dedicate his whole life to it. In the rigorous logic of math, he found meaning. That boggles my mind. But such is the lot of some!
Whether this is taking the easy way out or not, I must admit that I do like the philosophy of math. I’ve only dabbled in it, and hardly could call myself an authority on the subject, but it is becoming an interest of mine.

I recently read a chapter in Foundations of Christian Scholarship entitled, “A Biblical View of Mathematics” by Vern S. Poythress (PhD, Harvard University, Mathematics; Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary, New Testament). Although I had to skip the sections with the equations in it due to complete lack of understanding, I really enjoyed the chapter.
It may sound like an odd thing: the Christian view of math. How can one have a Christian view of math??? Isn’t math neutral? Math isn’t Christian, or Muslim, or atheistic, or Hindu – it’s just math!

Poythress makes a good point that a) math is not a neutral subject and b) math is necessarily Christian. This shouldn’t be surprising, because the book is subtitled Essays in the Van Til Perspective. Points a) and b) both smack of Cornelius Van Til. Van Til argued, Biblically I think, that there is no sphere in created existence that is neutral. If something is not pro rege (for the King, namely Christ) then it is at odds with Christianity. Neutrality is a myth.
In fact, this is the point that Poythress opens his chapter with, “the dogmatism of neutrality.” Here he opens with a shattering critique of any who hold that mathematics is a neutral field of study. He notes that popular belief is that there is agreement in all fiels of math that 2+2=4. This is not the case (which may surprise some of us). Pointing to philosophers like Parmenides who are monistic and think that all is one, 1+1=1. There are also those philosophers out there that believe that all of reality is illusory, and therefore mathematical equations actually have no meaning.

The fact that mathematics is not a neutral discipline points beyond the purely empirical to the metaphysical nature of math. Something that materialists don’t like to think about. A man like Russell, who disdained the metaphysical, it’s a hard fact to come to grips with: mathematics is metaphysical.
Poythress turns later in the chapter to deal with anti-theistic math and offers some real problems for those mathematicians who do not presuppose the ontological Trinity. If anti-theists were to stay consistent in their presuppositions, mathematics would be an impossible endeavour. He examines three areas of problems: 1) the metaphysical, 2) the epistemological and 3) the ethical. The root of all three problems are found in the abandoning of “the true Source of being…of knowledge…of value” (p.168).
One of the more devestating challenges Poythress offers any mathematician who seeks to work apart from Christian presuppositions is in the realm of transcendentals. How does the anti-theistic math-guy account for the very math that he loves so dearly? The rigourous logic of mathematics is rooted in irrationality for the non-Christian; ultimately rendering math as a useless endeavour. “Mathematicians, like other scientists, have a certain confidence in their convictions. This needs to be justified” (p.168). If they cannot be justified, then math is proven irrational from the outset.
Throughout the history of western thought, there have been attempts made at offering an account of why math is as it is. Poythress goes through each of the major views, pointing out the problems that ultimately wind up destroying each. An interesting justification was offered by the Logical Positivist A.J. Ayer who believed that mathematical rules were conventions, not universals. This returns us back to the notion then that 2+2 might not always equal 4!
Poythress rounds out his chapter by offering a Christian-theistic worldview of math. Rooted in the ontological Trinity that is God, mathematics has meaning and definition. Only here can an account of math be made. We can know mathematic truths a priori because they are a part of the innate knowledge that God has implanted in humans by virtue their creation imago Dei. In the Christian view of math, both the a priori and a posteriori do not compete with each other, as in anti-theistic math, rather they compliment one another (p. 185). This positive argument provides a helpful starting place for those who are seeking a profession in math, and want to do so in a meaningful way.
This chapter was an enjoyable read, even though it was mathematical. It showed to me the necessity for Christian mathematicians to be open about their faith in the field within which they labour. Any challenge that will be posed to them ultimately refutes itself and thus proves that Christianity is the only world-and-life-view that can account for math. The myth of neutrality cannot take over in the field of math, or anywhere else. Christ is Lord over creation, and that includes any scientific or mathematical endeavour.

For more from Vern Poythress, see

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You’ve got her in your pocket…

My buddy Ben Maher came over yesterday. He had to meet with Dr. Haykin about his Master’s thesis. Ben’s signed up to do a ThM with us this year. His thesis topic will be a comparison of Soren Kierkegaard and Martin Luther on faith. Ben’s just finishing up an M.A. in philosophy at York.
Ben is also joining the reserves here in Toronto. He had his medical this morning, so he crashed at our place so that he wouldn’t have to travel in from Newmarket. It was cool having him around. I always get my fill of talking philosophy with him, which of course I always enjoy. He specializes in the philosophy of mind. He’s a big Kierkegaard freak.
Vicky made an excellent dinner last night. After we ate, the three of us went to Jarvis Street for their midweek service. Dr. Adams preached on Psalm 51.
Afterwards we had some pie and watched Cold Mountain. I’d been wanting to see it for a while now, but never had the chance. It’s a pretty dark and depressing movie. I think it displayed the horrors of war well. The opening scenes were quite horrific. I was saddened to see that lack of love and care for other human beings in war. It was just a mob bent on killing one another in a dirty and gritty way.
I’m thankful that someone had told me the ending to the movie beforehand so that it didn’t take me by surprise. I would have been disappointed if I hadn’t known what was going to happen. Because I expected it throughout the whole movie, it wasn’t a shocker.
I have to admit, I like neither Jude Law nor Renee Zelwegger. Cold Mountain didn’t do anything to make me like them either. But Jack White’s mini-role in it really made the movie for me. The fact that he sang Poor Wayfaring Stranger blew my mind. I have to go get the soundtrack now.

I think that Jack White is a musical genius.

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I Hung My Head

This has to be one of the most amazing songs Johnny Cash ever recorded:

I Hung My Head
Written by – Sting
From – American IV: The Man Comes Around

Early one morning with time to kill
I borrowed Jeb’s rifle and sat on the hill
I saw a lone rider crossing the plain
I drew a bead on him to practice my aim
My brother’s rifle went off in my hand
A shot rang out across the land
The horse he kept running
The rider was dead
I hung my head
I hung my head

I set off running to wake from the dream
My brother’s rifle went into the sheen
I kept on running into the south lands
And that’s where they found me, my head in my hands
The sheriff he asked me why had I run
Then it came to me just what I had done
And all for no reason
Just one piece of lead
I hung my head
I hung my head

Here in the courthouse
The whole town is there
I see the judge high up in his chair
‘Explain to the courtroom what went through your mind
And we’ll ask the jury what verdict they find’
‘I felt the power of death over life
I orphaned his children
I widowed his wife
I beg their forgiveness
I wish I was dead’
I hung my head
I hung my head
I hung my head
I hung my head

Early one morning with time to kill
I see the gallows up on the hill
And out in the distance
A trick of the brain
I see a lone rider crossing the plain
And he’d come to fetch me to see what they done
We’ll ride together ’til Kingdom come
I pray for God’s mercy ’cause soon I’ll be dead
I hung my head
I hung my head
I hung my head
I hung my head

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It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks…

Last week Vicky and I went to Starbucks for coffee. When we left, we walked over to Winners to look around. As I was mindlessly searching through the cheezy t-shirts while killing time, what did I come across? Lo and behold, I came across a wicked looking Johnny Cash t-shirt. It says across the top “Johnny Cash in San Quentin.” It has a cool picture of him, a side profile of his face with his back to the camera. There’s a quote by him on the back of the shirt.
Of course I bought it.
Of course I’ve worn it literally every day since I bought it.
Of course I’m going to wear it after work.
Of course it’s now my favourite t-shirt.
Of course I’m gonna wear it when I see “Walk the Line” in the Fall.

Vicky’s currently sweating through her interview right now. I’m sure she’ll do fine. God willing she’ll get the job, which would be sweet for our pocket book.

Last night, for some reason, I decided to stay up all night and watch TV. For whatever reason, I did not want to go to bed. I watched Horatio Hornblower, David Letterman, Awakenings and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
I’m suffering the consequences of it today.

I walked over to Ryerson today to pick up their Prospectus. Dr. Haykin wants to set up a relationship with them so that our students can take some courses there and get credit at TBS and vice-versa.
The weather outside is beautiful. I wish it would stay like this forever. I wish I could experience outside of the city limits of Toronto.

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How much can I say, I’ll speak until I break…

I went with Dr. Haykin yesterday to Crux Books and bought a recent biography of Augustine:

Augustine: A New Biography – James J. O’Donnell

It looks pretty good. He’s like the world’s top scholar on Augustine’s Confessions. I’m anxious to read it.

Vicky has a job interview today with Toronto General Hospital and she’s incredibly worked up and nervous about it. It’s kinda cute. Hehe.

I’ve been responding to posts on another livejournal so much this morning, that I’m sick of blogging. So I’ll close.

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Rome sweet nothing…

Blogging is an interesting phenomenon. There is much that can be said both pro and con for having a blog and contributing to the mass of independently published literature on the internet. I’ve been blogging for a number of years now, although I only started this blog recently. My other blog functions more as a diary, cataloguing my daily life, than it is a place to post my thoughts on various issues. Granted, my other blog has my thoughts on it as well, but not in this more formal form.
One of the wierdest things about a blog is the fact that I, a personal, human being, am posting in some sense anonymously to other personal, human beings. I sit here all alone in my office and record my thoughts, only to be read by others possibly sitting in their offices recording their thoughts. Rarely do worlds collide and I actually meet a person from the blogosphere in real life. When it does happen, there is a certain level of discomfort and a wish that the blogosphere stayed that way – impersonal. As much as we think we’re getting involved in another’s life, really we’re not. We act as though we’re a genie in a bottle, offering tidbits of advice to a small, mid-sized or large reading public.
Yet, every once in a while, there is a situation that will occur in the blogosphere where one might feel the need to get involved. Really, this should only happen between Christians, due to the nature of their union together in Christ. If one Christian sees another Christian sinning, even if it’s on the blogosphere, there is still a responsibility to admonish him/her in Christ.

On my other blog, a Christian on my friends list announced today that he was bringing his family into the fold of Roman Catholicism. From what I knew of him, he was a Reformed Baptist and was actually the moderator of a sovereign grace web community. His announcement, to say the least, was quite surprising and sad. I would post a link to his post, but I’ve decided that I want to keep this blog and my other one separate. By posting a link to his, I’d reveal my own.
Nonetheless, he claims that this is a decision that he didn’t come to lightly and that he feels that he is staying within the fold of Biblical Christianity based on his views of the early church creeds.

Below is my response to him:

Dear Jason,

I hope by the following post that you don’t think of me as some pulpit pounding fundie. It’s not my intention whatsoever to come across this way at all. Responding to a post like this through a computer is usually unwise, but due to the nature of our relationship, it’s really the only option I have to communicate with you.
We’ve never met. Occasionally we’ve exchanged comments on each other’s LJs, but really that has been the extent of it. You don’t owe me anything, and surely the rantings of some cyberdude has no real bearing on your life or faith.
So, I’m writing this with the full understanding that possibly it may not be my business to do so and possibly you might just delete my entry and never think on it again.
But…I also trust in the guiding work of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Word of God. I believe that when confronted with a situation like this, it is better to say something Christ-centred than to say nothing at all. Whether I come across as a Jerry Falwell type who is always looking for a fight or not, I believe that I have a duty to challenge you not to do what you are doing.
I don’t know whether I’m more bummed out about your decision to change your whole theology and enter Roman Catholicism with your family, or about the really unloving responses made by those who thus far have encouraged you on your “spiritual journey.” I really shouldn’t be surprised by those who name the name of Christ yet see no problem when another capitulates on the gospel. Most Christians these days don’t understand what it means when we speak of the “gospel.” Surely this is an argument that can be made elsewhere.Jason. I want to wholeheartedly, on the authority of Christ’s Word, ask you to come to Christ and forget about joining Roman Catholicism. For whatever reasons you are doing it, surely it is not biblical. Roman Catholicism holds to an apostate Christianity that smacks of nothing of God’s Word or Biblical Christian practice. You are not joining a church when you go to Rome, you are leading your family into a body of worshippers, who as a whole, do not know Christ.
How can you abandon the gospel of Christ? How could you participate in the idolatry of the Eucharist? How can you align yourself with a body of teaching that minimizes the finished work of Christ on the cross for sinners, and emphasizes the semi-Pelagian view of synergism? How can you deny the imputed righteousness of Christ to all believers and opt for the infused righteousness + plus Christ’s work theology of Rome?
Paul said quite clearly in the opening chapters of Galatians that if you capitulate on the Gospel, you will be eternally accursed.
By leading your family into this, their souls are on your head.It may come across as wholly unloving saying this to you. My intent is only out of love, and I really hope that I’m not coming across like a jerk. But sometimes confrontations like this aren’t always filled with niceties – nor should they be.You are abandoning the Gospel if you go to Rome. Don’t tell me that you’re holding to the “fundamentals” of Christian teaching. Good for you that you believe in the Trinity – you deny justification by faith alone. You say that you believe in grace? Do affirm that you saved by grace only? That even the righteous deeds of a human being are as “filthy rags (literally, menstrual rags)” as Isaiah could say?

I really don’t know how to stress this in the most stringent, yet loving way.

Please, I hope that you respond to this. I’d like to know what were the major issues that led you to this rejection of Christ for idolatry. What are your views on the Eucharist? What are your views on infant salvation? What are your views on the Pope as Christ’s representative on earth? What are your views of Marian involvement in salvation and Christian living? What are your views of works and grace? What are your views on eternal life? What are your views on the authority of the Bible versus church councils? What are your views on the predestination of the saints? What are your views on the depravity of man?

Good grief, do you realize that this WHOLE list could be continued ad infinitum? Your whole theology has changed. How does one change their whole theology???There are very, very few similarities between Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism. And the few that there are aren’t enough to warrant any form of unity.

I have to cut this now, because I’ll likely continue on and on for the next hour.This is horrific news. News that I cannot endorse one iota. Shame on any that do.

For Christ’s sake,

Ian Clary


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Blogspotted by Pyromaniac!

I think I’ve hit the big-time. I always wanted to get blogspotted by Phil Johnson. I mean, heck! who doesn’t? Now I feel like I’m actually part of the “real” blogosphere. And not just me, but Cowboyology and Kerux Noemata, two good friends of mine get to share in the glory.

In’t blogging grande??

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Missions and the Church: Fishing for a Thought

The Christian church takes the missionary enterprise too lightly. Too often missions is viewed gnostically; the “spiritual” vs. “secular.” Those who have had a hand in any form of mission work are viewed as being “holier” than the common folk who dog it out for the gospel in their own communities. Unfortunately it is too frequently the ones who have taken a turn at so-called “short-term” missions who wear the golden crown, and those who have dedicated their whole lives to living across the pond who don’t receive any of their due. Thankfully we have an all-seeing God who rewards justly in the great hereafter.
A number of recent occurances have put my mind to turning to this issue and it’s one that I think needs to be addressed with greater force by the churches. Posting thoughts on a blog may not be the answer, but at least it’s a start. We need to be thinking about the seriousness of what being a missionary is and what it isn’t.
Missions is not merely going to some poor country once in a while to build a couple of structures, give some food and do a mime. What that translates into is basic humanitarian work that has been baptized with a few words of “Christianese” to make it holy so that said “missionary” can go back home and tell everyone they helped the poor people of ________ country.
I’m reminded of a story my
pastor recounts of his professor of missions, Eric Wright, who hated the idea of short-term missions. Essentially, in Prof. Wright’s view, a short-term “missionary” is one who goes overseas for two or three weeks, does some basic humanitarian work, has a lot of fun with their friends and comes back thinking they’ve just done some great “kingdom work.” Now they can call themselves missionaries. Most of the time they end up going over, disrupting the existing mission work, taking the real missionaries away from their task so they can babysit the western yahoos who are really only there to get a pat on the back.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking short-term missions in theory, just like I don’t knock communism in theory either. But when you apply sinful humans to such a theory, the results can be disastrous. I don’t doubt for a second that there are short-term missionary trips that are helpful. So long as they are done right and are gospel-centred, most short-term trips should go well. But instead of God’s people traversing the rough terrain of a distant country to bring the gospel to those who need to hear it, the church is sending people who are looking for a neat experience that they can tell their friends about. That is not missions.
I am also greatly concerned with the lack of theological background that many short-termers have. How can one go to a country and share the gospel that they don’t even understand? How does one communicate biblically what it means to be justified by the blood of Christ? How does a missionary explain sin to a sinner, when they don’t know what sin is? What happens if a short-termer goes to a communist country whose worldview is strangled with atheism? How will they answer, apologetically, the attacks on the Christian faith?
Missionaries need to look at people like William Carey, Adinoram Judson, John Paton and others like them for inspiration, but also for guidance. The church needs a theologically educated mission that is based on a desire to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth for the glory of God. If it is anything less, it is not missions.

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I don’t know whether I’m shamed or proud of my messy office.
I’ve been reading A.E. Hotchner’s bio of Ernest Hemingway, and he describes Hemingway’s office in terms not so unfamiliar to mine. I can’t remember if I already wrote these thoughts, but I’ll continue in case I haven’t.
Hemingway’s office was piled high with paper and books, his floor littered with the same. Looks much like mine – at least in my mind’s eye. The funny thing was, he didn’t actually do any of his writing in his office. He opted to write in bed, so his bedroom was in similar shape. At the time Hotchner met him, Hemingway stayed in his room by himself, and his wife (I think it was Mary) had her own room. I’m sure the mess had a big part to play.

Aside from the wife in another bedroom deal, I sometimes think I’d like to live a Hemingway-esque life. The guy was incredible in terms of being a Romantic hero. Granted, his life was quite significantly depraved in many respects. He was incredibly self-centred, although he could be quite giving. Eventually, he shot himself in the face. So don’t get me wrong, there are significant drawbacks to Hemingway’s life. Yet, at the same time, when I read about it, I get the same feeling as when I read On The Road. There’s a care-free sense I get when I read it.
Could I be someone who joins up in the Spanish Civil War out of principle? Could I live a Bohemian lifestyle all over Europe, writing small pieces to keep me in fancy hotels? Could I dine with the cool of the day? What about living in Cuba, setting up my fishing boat as a type of coast guard against the Nazis which really was only an excuse to party? Could I deep sea fish for Marlin in the sea? Could I have my own daquari named after me??


I’ll update on my weekend later.


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Let the midnight special, shine a light on me…

You’ll likely never get Dr. Michael Haykin on the Lake, but don’t think for a second that he doesn’t have a presence on the internet. Just recently, probably the King Fisher of the blogosphere, Phil Johnson, posted a wonderful review of a book by Dr. Haykin on his blog Pyromaniac: Midnight Special.
I myself have read Defence of the Truth by Dr. Haykin, and agree with what Johnson said. Although it is marketed as a book on apologetics, which surely it is, it is also a great introductory survey of some of the classic works of the Church Fathers. Especially beneficial to me is chapter 5, “The wandering, pilgrim city of Jerusalem: Augustine and the Christian view of history.” Any budding historian first needs to read this, and then needs to read Augustine’s
City of God.
Johnson says, “I hope Haykin lives long and keeps writing.” Yes, so do I. He keeps me in a job! Hehe, just kidding. Dr. Haykin is a wonderful, and a godly man, and Lord willing he’ll write more in his life to come for God’s glory.

For other ruminations by the lake on this same topic, see: Cowboyology: Haykin and Trueman in the Ring of Fire.

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Review: Intellectuals by Paul Johnson

One of my favourite things to do in life, much to my wife’s chagrin, is read. I don’t mean merely reading a chapter here and there before bedtime. Rather, I mean the five-book-at-a-time, attack them like a pike on a worm, close off the entire world, cast your rod down for a while, don’t stop ’till it’s finished kinda reading. Really, is there any other kind?
Yet, sometimes it can be hard and depressing. What happens if you start a book that you wind up hating? Should you just throw it over-board and let the fish have their way with it? Me, I just become ambivalent and put it back on the shelf (note: I never, ever throw away a book!). Then I’ll turn to another book I’ve got on the go, and try to forget about the one I had just discarded. Hopefully the next one will prove better!
But there is nothing like finding that gem, the book that you’d drop your fishing rod in the lake for, the one you can’t put down and are horribly saddened when it’s finished – promising yourself to read it again (soon). That is exactly what happened when I read Paul Johnson’s Intellectuals, and I don’t doubt that it will happen to you.
Paul Johnson is a very well-written historian who has published many books, a number of which I own. Likely his most popular book is Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Eighties. Johnson has served as advisor to both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair and has been involved in editing a number of periodicals, the production of over 40 TV shows, and has contributed articles to a vast array of journals, magazines and newspapers.
Intellectuals is a survey of a number of key characters in recent history whose ideas, through various mediums, have had an impact on western society. Johnson devotes a chapter to each intellectual by explaining in what way their thought has contributed (either positively, or negatively) to recent history. After outlining their basic philosophy, hitting the salient points, Johnson continues on to evaluate whether or not these intellectuals’ lives actually live up to what they preach. Beginning with Jean-Jacques Rousseau and ending with Noam Chomsky each test case proves interesting (and damning, to quote a friend who had read it). Each intellectual studied not only failed to live up to their philosophy, but most outright contradicted it! The intellectuals chosen prove to be an interesting cast of characters including Rousseau, Karl Marx, Heinrich Ibsen, Leo Tolstoy, Ernest Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Lillian Hellman and others of great influence. As can be seen by this brief list, Johnson chose to go beyond merely dealing with philosophers (though they are included), but also includes authors, publishers and playwrites. Across this broad survey, over and over again, none of these intellectuals live up to their own standards.
Take the case of Karl Marx for instance; a man who was heavily involved in attacking capitalism, fighting for the working class, developing a political-philosophy (and essentially a worldview) that was rigorously scientific, etc. Yet, in almost every aspect of Marx’s thought, he does not even appear to bring it to bear on his own personal life. As Johnson points out, not one of Marx’s historical survey’s of capitalism was correct. And I don’t mean that he flubbed here or there – he was outright conniving, ahistorical, contradictory and wrong! In an instance where Marx was quoting a recent speach by then British Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone, he notes the PM as saying, “This intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power is entirely confined to classes of property.” When in reality, what Gladstone had said was,

“I should look almost with apprehension and with pain upon this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power if it were my belief that it was confined to the class who are in easy circumstances.”

So much for scientific accuracy! Marx had completely taken Gladstone’s words and switched them around to back what Marx had been saying about him, instead of letting Truth win the day. Marx made so much of the necessity of Truth in his writings, yet it is apparent, again and again while reading this book, that Marx only cared for the Truth if it suited his needs. Even after Marx had been proven wrong, he denied with vigorous force that he misquoted Gladstone.
For one who used his pen so mightily (though inaccurately) for the cause of the working class, Marx himself had never stepped foot in a factory or a mine, and the only person of the working class that he actually met was his own servant!

Johnson also goes beyond evaluating whether an intellectual’s philosophy played out in his/her daily life. He also evaluates the way in which they interact with their families and friends. This is probably the most damning of all, as these aspects of the book prove most disgusting. It is incredible to see how many of these test cases, like Percy Shelley, would borrow mass sums of money from friends, family members and strangers, only to skip town and not repay what they owed. The instances of this are staggering! It is also staggering to see how many, like Marx, fathered illegitimate children, only to discard them and never acknowledge their parentage. Or how a philosopher like Bertrand Russell or Jean-Paul Sartre can fight so strongly with words for women’s freedom, yet treat the women in their lives like slaves and sexual objects.

For anyone who wants to have an enlightened read on so-called “enlightened thinkers”, I would highly recommend this book. It is heavily documented, well-researched, piercingly insightful and wonderfully written. The history of western thought will never look the same again!

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