Monthly Archives: May 2006

By Faith, Not By Sight

I’m excited to see that Richard Gaffin has just published a book on the ordo salutis in Paul, I will definitely be getting a copy of By Faith, Not By Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation (Oak Hill School of Theology Series) by Paternoster Press. I am a huge fan of anything Gaffin, so I’m sure this will be a great joy to read.
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Liberty Summer Seminar

Hear ye, hear ye! All libertarians, classical liberals, neo-cons, so-cons, theonomists, Misesians, Hayekians, Bastiatists, Burkeans, blabbidy blah. Orono, Ontario will be the place to be on July 29-30, 2006 if you want to learn about individual freedom, personal economic responsibility, free markets and more. The annual Liberty Summer Seminar is rearing its head again – socialists beware!
This years guest speaker will be Fraser Institute Director Michael Walker. Although the LSS site isn’t updated yet, you can still check it out to see how last years seminar went. I hope to go, but we’ll see. Summer is shaping up to be busy. None-the-less, having met some of the people involved, I am sure that it will be a fabulous time!
For more info please contact Peter Jaworski.

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Thomas Chalmers

Darrin Brooker at Running Well reminds us that today marks the anniversary of the death of Thomas Chalmers. Darrin has given us a good post-in-memoriam and showers appropriate praise of Chalmers better than I could. That and he can post pictures of cool coins he has commemorating Chalmers, I can’t do that.
See also these great quotes from Chalmers that Darrin provides here. I think that this is one of the best quotes I have ever come across:

“Only three things are truly necessary in order to make life happy: the blessing of God, the benefit of books, and the benevolence of friends.”

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Thomas Sowell on Writing

Thomas Sowell is an author well-known for his books and essays on economics, social-justice, political science, culture, etc. Long before I was into politics/economics, I read Sowell. There is something about his columns in the newspaper that resonate with what is in my own thoughts. He has a wonderful ability to clearly and logically communicate his point with erudition and insight. As I perused his website quickly this morning, looking for something totally unrelated, I came across this piece on writing and thought I would link it.
We often think of Sowell as one of the kingpins of political thought and overlook the fact that he is a masterful writer. He utilises logic, rhetoric, humour, style, etc., with wonderful gains. Now he lets us in on his scribal secrets. Check out Some Thoughts About Writing, it is very helpful for those of us budding young, wannabe scholars who long for the day when people will be wowed by what we say and how we say it!

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Cowboyology: An Anthropological Study of Alberta

Alright, the Cowboy’s back! Clint, he of TBS Greek fame, is now online and blogging from the vistas of Alberta, Canada. Check out his recent post evaluating the positive and negative aspects of the Alberta-boom and the churches positive and negative stance in relation to it.
Good to have you back Clint, even if in small measure!
Christel too is back online and has posted her thoughts on their return to Alberta, check it out.

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Indigo the Self-Serving, Pragmatic Hypocrite

It’s this sort of thing that drives me absolutely nuts. It seems that Indigo, Canada’s largest book retailer, has pulled Harper’s Magazine because it reprinted those uber-infamous cartoons of Muhammad that most people have forgotten about. I wouldn’t be so appalled at Indigo if they were consistent with their religious sympathy, but they’re not. How many volumes of Da Vinci Code have flown off of Indigo shelves? How many Holy Blood, Holy Grail? How many Misquoting Jesus? How many Why Christianity Must Change or Die? The list could go on and on about how many books are sold in major chains like Indigo that fly directly in the face of Biblical Christianity. And what about Harper’s itself? How many cartoons of Jesus have been done, and nobody at Indigo bats an eye. Do Christians in retaliation mob Indigo or Chapters? I have yet to see a mass protest at the Eaton Centre over anything written by Dan Brown! Certainly nothing of the likes that we saw the followers of Muhammad’s so-called “religion of peace.”
I guess I shouldn’t be so suprised. Sin has so affected the mind that unbelievers think good is bad and bad is evil. Left is right, right is left. Maybe I hold out too much hope for sinful man, when I should rejoice that God, in His grace, saved me from sin and such foolishness. I’m no Pelagian, but I think sometimes I give people too much credit.

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Spirituality Conference with Carl Trueman

The Jonathan Edwards Centre had the privelege of having Carl Trueman as the guest speaker for the third annual spring conference. The series was entitled “Creedal Christianity & Christian Spirituality” and dealt primarily with the theological context and underpinnings of a truly biblical spirituality. Dr. Trueman drew deeply from the well-springs of the Reformed faith, particularly that of the Magisterial Reformers and later Reformed Orthodoxy. Although there were three lectures, they all really functioned as one. It was truly a great day, and I thoroughly enjoyed what Dr. Trueman had to say.
I will briefly summarise the lectures as in one chunk as they really flowed together nicely. In the first he set the scene of the Reformation relating it to the earlier Medieval and Patristic eras in terms of theological development. He highlighted the reasons for Reformation, including justification by faith alone and the Reform of worship. He noted the differences between the Lutherans and the Reformed as the Reformation progressed, and how those differences played out theologically, politically and practically (within the church). He highlighted specifically the continuity of Reformation theology with earlier Christology and Trinitarian theology.
In the context of the Reformation these issues were dealt with in relation to the controversy with the Socinians, a heretical group that sprung up in the Reformation and eventually wound up Unitarian a few hundred years later. I had always been under the impression that the Socinians were the forerunners (theologically) of Enlightenment rationalism in Britain. Interestingly, as Trueman defined them, they were “Biblical literalists,” similar to people today who say they have “no creed but the Bible.” This was somewhat startling to me and drove home to me the danger of those in the church today who divorce their Christian faith from history and theological development (i.e. tradition). Trueman admitted that defining Socinianism as it progressed through the years was a hard task, as they eventually developed into the rationalists that I had always thought they were. But to hear of their beginnings was eye opening.
Dr. Trueman flowed into the topic of Trinitarian devotion and did a wonderful job explaining how all of our theology and devotion should be deeply rooted in Trinitarian reflection. He continued in his exposition of the relationship between the Patristic, Medieval and Reformation era’s understanding of the Trinity, and applied it to the church today. It was a rich conversation that I profited deeply from.
He concluded his lectures with an appeal for the use of creedal statements in the life of the church, recognising that though they are not infallible, they do serve as helpful guides for theological reflection.
It was a real privelege to be able to pick Dr. Trueman up from the airport and take him to his hotel in Burlington where we met Dr. Haykin for lunch yesterday. The time, though brief, was enjoyable — Carl Trueman is a great guy. He’s very down to earth and casual, yet with an obvious love for the Triune God. He is definitely a model of rigorous and honest scholarship, met with an experiential love for the Lord Jesus. I hope that our paths cross again.
If you are interested in obtaining a CD with the three lectures on it in MP3 format, please let me know.

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Psalm Singing

Although I do not hold to the view that the church should only sing the Psalms, I do believe that the church at large has greatly neglected the Psalter. What a great opportunity to sing God’s Word, which is wholly appropriate for all occasions we may experience as a body of believers. Rain or shine, we always have a song to sing! I am thankful to the church I attend when home in Windsor, at Grace we often sing a Psalm or two in the Lord’s Day worship. What a delight! My church here in Toronto has awesome worship, and I would love to see the Psalms creep in there more often.
I recently stumbled across this website from the Protestant Reformed Churches in America that has put audio files of their churches singing the Psalms. In particular I enjoy the volumes of “Fitting Praises.” They also have Handel’s Messiah and Psalms sung by their youth. It is quite refreshing to start the morning with a few Psalms. A couple of years ago a Scottish brother gave me a copy of the CD “Performed in Heaven: Congregational Psalm Singing from Scotland.” Taken from recordings over the last number of years from various Psalm singing choir competitions, it too is a good listen.
For those of you interested in arguments for singing the Psalms, check out Carl Trueman’s “What Do Miserable Christians Sing?” (Themelios 25, no. 2). Although he would argue for Psalm singing exclusively, a point I would diverge with him on, I do believe he raises some very important points about singing from the Psalter.

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Windsor Liberty Seminar – June 24, 2006

For those of you missed the last session of the Windsor Liberty Seminar this past Spring, don’t worry, you have a second chance! On June 24, 2006 lectures will be held at the Ciaciaro Club in Windsor, ON. The event will run from 10am – 3pm with a lunch buffet included. The cost is $20/person.
The speakers for this Seminar are: 1) Karen de Coster a scholar and writer from the Detroit, MI area. Her topic will be “Good Times, Noodle Salad and the State”; 2) Dr. Richard Ebeling, the President of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and former Ludwig Von Mises Professor of Economics at Hillsdale College, MI. His topic will be “The First Principles of Liberty” and 3) Linda Schrock Taylor, an educational consultant, homeschool mom and public school teacher. Her lecture will be “Education Before Government Schooling.”
For more information please contact Cameron Fast here.

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VOM Updates

I’m very excited that Voice of the Martyrs Canada director Glenn Penner will be lecturing at TBS this summer. We are offering a one-week modular called A Biblical Theology of Persecution & Discipleship (3 cred. hrs) from Aug. 28-Sept. 1. It will function for TBS students as a missions elective. If I can, I would love to take it.
Also, VOM Canada is looking to hire for two positions at their Mississauga, ON office (near Toronto). You can find out more about it here.
Voice of the Martyrs is such an important ministry, one that I hope will garner much support even through these lectures at TBS.

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BBQ Pictures

Here are some pictures taken earlier this month at a barbecue hosted by our friend Lynn from Holy Word Church. The food was killer! The fellowship was really good too. It was a going away for Clint and Christel and a birthday celebration for Melody, our pastor’s wife. It was a real “Sabbath feast!”

Yes, I can be romantic.

Vicky and Christel

Me making a weird face.

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Public Ehrman Number One

Yesterday afternoon, in the midst of a million things to get done, Vicky and I napped for a couple of hours. It’s been a very busy few weeks, and it finally caught up with us, so we crashed. It was great while it lasted, getting some sweet hours of sleep. But it too catches up with you. In particular, at two in the morning and you’re still wide awake. That’s what happened to me, but it was alright. I spent the time reading — somehow Vicky managed to sleep!
I have a number of reviews of Bart Ehrman’s recent book Misquoting Jesus – The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, so I spent the night reading them. It was a very profitable excursion into the world of textual criticism. I definitely came away having learned something.
My understanding of text criticism is limited. I’ve only read D.A. Carson’s The King James Version Debate – A Plea For Realism and G.E. Ladd’s New Testament and Criticism. I’ve also been perusing the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog. Reading the scholarly reviews of Ehrman last night was extremely helpful in seeing text criticism put into practice.
The review I found most helpful was Daniel B. Wallace’s The Gospel According to Bart. It was very well-written and scholarly. Even more importantly, Wallace is very pastorally concerned. Wallace wants to “close the gap” between the academy and the church, and issues like Ehrman’s work prove the importance of such a desire. Wallace and a couple of others have just written a book called Reinventing Jesus: What the Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don’t Tell You, and from what I gather it serves as an antidote to Ehrman’s work. I do admit to one problem with Wallace’s review however, and that is his understanding that biblical inerrancy is more of a secondary doctrine. If he means that a person can be a believer without subscribing to inerrancy, I could maybe be pushed into a wall agreeing with him. But I am strongly inclined to think that inerrancy is not merely secondary. And if a Christian doesn’t believe in inerrancy, he/she is likely on the slippery slope to liberalism. It seems that Wallace wants to make it a lesser issue on more of a practical basis because he’s seen too many like Ehrman deny inerrancy and then ultimately deny the faith. This “domino effect” could easily be thwarted, so says Wallace, if we don’t have such a high view of inerrancy. That to me is scary. But other than that, I believe that he quite capably deals with Misquoting Jesus and does so in a manner that displays his care for Ehrman as a person. (A helpful article on inerrancy is John Frame’s Is The Bible Inerrant? As well, Greg Bahnsen’s Inductivism, Inerrancy and Presuppositionalism, gives an apologetic spin)
The second review I that I read was by Michael Kruger who teaches at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). It can be accessed at Reformation 21. His review was much shorter than Wallace’s and covered some of the same ground, but I found Kruger’s final insights to be particularly helpful. I think that it is here that we get to the crux of the matter with Ehrman, and with all unbelief:

It seems clear that Ehrman has investigated the New Testament documents with an a priori conviction that inspiration requires zero scribal variations—a standard that could never be met in the real historical world of the first century. Ironically, as much as Ehrman claims to be about real history, his private view of inspiration, by definition, prevents there from ever being a New Testament from God that that would have anything to do with real history. Not surprisingly, therefore, Ehrman’s book “concludes” that the New Testament could not be inspired. One wonders whether any other conclusion was even possible.


Ehrman has an a priori commitment against the Scriptures and that commitment shaped his research to conclude that the issue of textual variants destroys our ability to have a true reading of Scripture. It is a theological presupposition that he has tried to justify, but, as the reviews point out, his scholarship does not bear out his claims. I think that Kruger hit the nail on the head with that one.
The final review that I read was by P.J. Williams who teaches at the University of Aberdeen. He is one of the primary contributors to the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog and the
review can be found there. Williams is likely one of the leading text critics in evangelicalism, so I was a bit surprised that he didn’t really deal with Ehrman on a textual criticism level. The review was very good, mind you, but I was half expecting something more technical. Maybe even more interaction with some of Ehrman’s other, more scholarly works. Williams does provide a good synopsis of the book, section by section. He also efficiently dispels the myths that Ehrman conjures about the significance of the number of variants, the nature of variants and the fact that the overwhelming majority of the variants have no effect on key doctrine.
All in all, these reviews were very helpful to me. Although I have yet to read Ehrman’s book (due to lack of funds), I do feel that I have a good grasp of what he said and how to answer his claims. Even a novice like me.

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Baby Got Bible And I Cannot Lie

Okay, okay. You HAVE to click this link if you’re at all interested in watching an hilarious Christian parody of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” (you know you remember this from highschool!). It’s called, “Baby Got Book.”

The parody is utterly brilliant. I mean it, brilliant.

“You Christian brother’s can’t deny,
That when a girl walks in with a KJV and a bookmark in Proverbs
You get stoked.”

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A Dan Brown Weekend

On Friday night Vicky and I went with our good friends Justin and Elisha to see Da Vinci Code. Although I wasn’t chomping at the bit to see this movie, I did think it was a good idea to go for a couple of reasons: 1) I think it is wise for Christians to understand their surrounding culture with the aim of intelligently engaging it. Too often we become, as Brian Godawa called it, “cultural anorexics.” By seeking to answer the claims Dan Brown has made about Christ, I believe that there is a responsibility to read the book and/or see the movie; 2) I don’t want unbelievers to think that my not seeing the movie means that I’m actually threatened by Brown’s claims. The book/movie is so ludicrously error-filled that there is no reason for any Christian to fear. But we certainly can give the impression of being ostrich’s with our heads in the sand if we completely ignore such a huge, cultural event; 3) I wanted to spend some time with Vicky and our friends the Galottis. It was good to just go to a movie and turn off the events of the world swirling around us. As much as I didn’t really enjoy the movie, the fellowship I experienced with my wife and friends was priceless.
Admittedly, I went to see Da Vinci Code expecting to be kept on the edge of my seat in suspense. From what I’ve heard about the novel (no, I haven’t read it — hypocrite I am!) it is a real page turner. Naturally, I figured the same would be said of the movie. Unfortunately for the makers of Da Vinci Code, it is not only bad theology and bad history, it really isn’t a great movie. I believe that I am saying that with all honesty. If it had been a good movie, with stellar performances by the actors, I would say so. But it just wasn’t. Quite frankly, I found it boring.
Though I’m not a huge fan of Tom Hanks, I can totally agree that he is a good actor. I thought his work in Cast Away was outstanding. But in Da Vinci Code, he was rather stagnant. As Justin later said, watching Hanks was like watching a glass of water. He showed no emotion and really wasn’t thrilling as the star of the flick.
On the other hand, I am a fan of Ian McKellan (in spite of his Bible page tearing rants against Christianity). One of my favourite, all-time epics is the Lord of the Rings, and he was absolutely outstanding as Gandalf. I also thought he played an excellent Magneto in the X-Men movies. And while he was miles better than Hanks, even Sir Ian wasn’t a stand-out actor. At points, it almost seemed as though he didn’t even want to be in the movie anymore.
The best actor, in my opinion was Paul Bettany who played the psycho-monk Silas. In every movie I’ve seen Bettany in I’ve really enjoyed him. In particular, he was a great choice for the surgeon in Master and Commander. Even in the absolutely wretched movie Firewall, he gave a top-notch performance. Bettany is an all-around good actor, and proved himself to be so in Da Vinci Code.
Yet, it was not only the mediocre acting that made for disappointing viewing. There were certain scenes that didn’t make sense. Whether it was for blatant lack of communication on the director’s part, or the poorly explained story-line, I was often left thinking “How did that happen?” In particular, how often would the police just magically appear with out any explanation as to how they knew where the action was going on. For instance, how did the police know to go to the old church where they ended up arresting Teabing? In terms of confusing, I could never really keep Opus Dei and the Priory of Sion straight. Who were the good guys and who were the bad guys? I mean, Silas definitely seemed bad, but in a sense was he also not good? Especially because he was working towards the same end as Langdon — namely keeping the secret about Mary Magdalene. Teabing was also bad, but he wanted the secret out, which is a good thing, right?
Theologically, much has been said about how Dan Brown got his facts wrong on the deity of Christ, the importance of Mary Magdalene, the Gnostic gospels, etc. I won’t beat a dead-horse on those issues where Brown has proven that he didn’t do his homework. I think that theologically and philosophically, the most dangerous part of the movie is where it deviated from the book at the end. When Hanks’ character Langdon gives a little ditty about how when he fell into a well when he was a kid and prayed to Jesus. He explained to Ms. Neveau something to the effect that whatever you believe is okay to believe. It was total post-modern, relativist mumbo-jumbo. And I think that philosophy is what is most dangerous about the movie. People will come away saying, “Okay, the facts of Da Vinci Code are wrong, but hey, who cares? So long as we believe something we’re alright. It doesn’t matter if we believe in Mary Magdalene, Jesus or little green martians from outer-space. We’re all alright.” It is that attitude that Christians will need to deal with, amongst other things, with the Da Vinci Code craze.

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Denny Burk on Brian McLaren

Denny Burk’s recent post on Brian McLaren is right on. Commenting on McLaren’t recent statements about how Da Vinci Code has given people an interesting vision of Jesus, more so than the traditional view of the church. In the most poignant part of the post Burk says,

Why is it that McLaren can only find fault with Christians but never with
Christianity’s detractors? Certainly, Christians are not perfect. But that fact
is a far cry from explaining the existence of unbelief in the world. Certainly
caricatures of Jesus can repel people, but so can the authentic Jesus. Sometimes
people reject Christ and His gospel because they hate Christ.

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Abraham Booth (1734-1806) Vol. 1

Ooooh, I received a copy of the first volume of The Works of Abraham Booth reprinted works published by Particular Baptist Press. It is edited by Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison. Dr. Haykin handed it to me this morning at the Decoding Da Vinci conference (which was excellent!). I had worked over an edit of the mss last summer, so it is quite gratifying to see it complete.
Here’s my favourite Booth quote:

What surprises me, what stumbles me, what frightens me, is to see a diminutive creature, a contemptible man, a little ray of light glimmering through a few feeble organs, controvert a point with the Supreme Being, oppose that Intelligence who sitteth at the helm of the world, question what he affirms, dispute what he determines, appeal from his decisions, and, even after God hath given evidence, reject all doctrines that are beyond his capacity. Enter into thy nothingness, mortal creature!

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Scripture and Tradition

Here is an excellent article written by Sinclair Ferguson on the relationship between Scripture and tradition. I found this very helpful a number of years ago when I first read it in Sola Scriptura! – The Protestant Position on the Bible (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000). It is an excellent book evaluating Roman Catholicism from a biblical standpoint. There are a number of contributors including Michael Horton, John MacArthur, Joel Beeke, James White and of course Sinclair Ferguson.

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Decoding Da Vinci

Just a reminder to all of my faithful readers (yeah right!) that Jarvis Street Baptist Church and Toronto Baptist Seminary are hosting a free seminar on the upcoming movie Da Vinci Code. As much as we’re aware that the book/movie is a work of fiction, we also know that many people will watch it without any historical/theological discernment. Our hope is to provide some critical discussion that will help Christians and non-Christians decipher the truth from fiction.
The seminar will start tomorrow morning at 9am. It will be in Greenway Chapel at Jarvis Street. The speakers are Dr. Glendon Thompson who is the President of Toronto Baptist Seminary and Lecturer in Systematic Theology; Prof. Kirk Wellum who teaches Systematic Theology and Dr. Michael Haykin who is the Principal of the school and Professor of Church History.
There is no cost for the lectures and the day will finish by lunch time. There will be refreshments provided. MP3’s will be available some time next week.
Incidentally, here’s a good little article on the Da Vinci Code by a favourite author of mine, Scott Oliphint.

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The Works of Alexander Carson (1776-1844) Vol. 6

Alexander Carson, Works Volume 6 (Dublin/London/Edinburgh: William Carson/Houlston & Stoneman/Wm. Whyte, 1864).

Volume 6
Providence: Considered with Reference to, and as Manifested In, the Word of God

The God of Providence the God of the Bible
17-72

History of Providence as Unfolded in the Book of Esther
73-156

History of Providence as Manifested in Scripture
157-445

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The Works of Alexander Carson (1776-1844) Vol. 5

Alexander Carson, Works Volume 5 (Dublin/London/Edinburgh: William Carson/Houlston & Stoneman/Wm. Whyte, 1863).

Volume 5
Scripture and Science

The Knowledge of Jesus the most Excellent of the Sciences
1-222

Principles of Biblical Interpretation
223-426

A Treatise on the figures of Speech
427-542

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