Monthly Archives: June 2006

Doug Wilson – Is Christianity Right Wing?

Although this post is short, Doug Wilson gives a balanced view of Christianity in relation to politics that I found quite helpful. Here’s a good quote:

So, is the Christian faith right-wing or left-wing? Neither. The terms right and left wing originally came from the seating of the National Assembly in France in the time of the French Revolution. While the meaning has changed, it has not changed that much. Right-wing today means slow revolutionary and left-wing means fast revolutionary. The thing which characterizes a Christian political thinking, as opposed to “me-too-ing” the sentiments of the right or left wing is its relationship to Scripture. As Christians think through what should be considered a crime, and what a sin, the only real issue that matters is their court of appeal. Is that court Scripture, and do they honor that court through careful exegesis?

***UPDATE***
Please see the comments section below for helpful thoughts by Dr. Haykin.

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The Culverites

Here is a blog that recently began, dedicated to disussing the theology set forth in Robert Culver’s Systematic Theology. I’d love to join, but I don’t think that I have the time or money to get into Culver — I’d never heard of him until the blog went up! But I will be following their posts.
Although they aren’t formally going to start discussing Culver’s writings proper until autumn, there has been much “prolegomena” leading up to that time that is well worth reading. I found this post and it’s comments particularly helpful:
http://culverites.blogspot.com/2006/06/why-study-systematic-theology.html
It looks to be a worth-while discussion!

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Christian Prisoners Escape from Military Camp in Eritrea

I received this in my email today from Voice of the Martyrs. I was just speaking of these persecuted Christians in Eritrea last night with some friends.

In the early morning of May 16, fifteen Christians escaped from a military training camp in Asabe, Eritrea and attempted to escape across the desert into neighbouring Djibouti. According to June 23 report from Open Doors U.K., the men had been detained in metal shipping containers for the past two years because of their faith in Christ.
Military police pursued the men when they were discovered missing. After two days, the bodies of five of them were found dead from exposure. At last report the other ten had not been found and there was no indication if they were successful in crossing the border into Djibouti. If they remain in Eritrea, their lives are in grave danger. More information will be released if it becomes available.
Pray that, if there are survivors, the Lord will bring them safely to a place where they can recover from their ordeal. Pray that the families ofthe deceased will find comfort in the fact that Christ is victorious over death, and their loved ones will be raised with Him. Pray that, in view of this promise, they will continue to give themselves fully to the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:50-58). Continue to pray for the safe release of the many Christian prisoners in Eritrea.
For more information on the severe persecution facing Christians in Eritrea, go to www.persecution.net/country/eritrea.htm.

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Musings

There’s a few things I could post on, so I’m just going to lump them into one general post:

1) Here’s a brief intro to the philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd. I have found his philosophy to be hard to understand, so this intro is quite helpful.

2) Kirk Wellum, Professor of Systematic Theology at TBS, has a good post on the various millennial expectations of different religious groups today. A very interesting read.

3) Paul Martin, who also teaches at TBS, has a review of Doug Wilson’s book Future Men. I am currently re-reading Wilson’s Fidelity, a book that I think every Christian male should read. Very pointed and pulls no punches. It’s a book I’ll keep re-reading for a long time.

4) Brian Godawa is an Hollywood screenwriter (he wrote To End All Wars) and is also a Reformed Christian. He has an excellent blog with his thoughts on recent movies that I would recommend. I think his philosophy of movies is great. His book Hollywood Worldviews is a must read for pastors, it is a very helpful evaluation of the worldviews that pervade Hollywood, how the impact society, and how we should respond.

5) Gary North has a good article on homeschooling at Lew Rockwell.

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Blog Highlight – Per Caritatem

Here’s a new blog I came across last night as I read her comment on Dr. Haykin’s blog. Dedicated to Christian philosophy, you’ll be sure to find some intellectually stimulating posts at Per Caritatem. Go check it out!

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More Thoughts on Gay Pride

I can remember back in highschool my friends and I throwing rocks at a guy who, at least in our eyes, was gay. At the time of our hurled abuse, the guy had a girlfriend, and though he dressed quite sharp, really didn’t fit the profile of being homosexual. Ultimately, he and his girlfriend broke up and a little while later he “came out of the closet.” I have often wondered if the rocks, both literal and verbal, thrown by my friends and I pushed him over the edge. Would he have gone gay if he hadn’t been so horrendously picked on?
Over the course of the years, especially since my conversion to Christ, I have known a number of gay people. My faith and their lifestyle could often be a struggle, with stereotypes pushed on both sides. And while not wanting to budge on the Biblical ethic that resoundingly declares homosexuality to be a sin, I have also wanted to show a Christ-like love that would lead homosexuals to the great salvation that I have experienced in Christ. In recent years, since my discovery of the power of the gospel through a Calvinistic understanding of Christianity, I have seen that the most profound weapon against homosexuality isn’t based merely upon biological, sociological or philosophical argumentation. The most powerful tool when confronting homosexuals, or any other unbeliever, is the gospel. Although homosexuals are involved in grievous, damaging sin, their major problem is not primarily their sexual orientation. Their primary problem that needs to be overcome is their unbelief.
I’ll never forget sitting in a Thursday evening worship service at Jarvis Street Baptist Church, hearing Glendon Thompson preach on Genesis 19. He was going through the issues that faced Lot as he lived in Sodom and Abraham’s response to him. Dr. Thompson then asked the question: What is the worst sin in the Bible? Because he was going through issues in homosexuality, the answer in most people’s minds would have been “Homosexuality.” But his answer was “no.” And then he turned to Matthew 11:20-24 where Jesus pronounced woes against various cities that rejected the gospel, like Chorazin and Bethsaida. Christ’s words are profound: “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you” (11:23-24).
The greatest sin in the Bible, worse than homosexuality, is unbelief. When Dr. Thompson, in his magnificent style of preaching, brought this point home, chills ran down my spine. What a thought! That all of the “pride” displayed this past weekend in the streets of Toronto are not worse than the unbelief of an average Torontonian! Of course, this isn’t to say that the Pride Day that visited this city is something to turn a blind eye at. But surely the rejection of the plain revelation of God in His creation, as well as the gospel proclamation about His Son is worse than any other sin that is conceivable in the minds of men. I have never forgotten that sermon and often retell it in conversations about homosexuality. The key weapon against sexual sin, or any other sin, is the gospel of Jesus Christ. And what a weapon! It converted me! If the gospel (by God’s grace) can convert an immature, self-centred wretch like me, it can convert anyone.
Yet, the issue remains that our culture is regressing back into the primitive cultures of yesteryear. Homosexuality is accepted as normal, and those who suffer at the hands of their own sin are told that they are normal. That this is acceptable behaviour. As Christians, we have the duty and the privelege of sharing Christ with all peoples, including homosexuals. If they are to reject it, then the woes Jesus brough down on those cities will be brought upon them.
Here is an excellent article on homosexuality by Greg Bahnsen called “In the Shadow of Sodom: Does the Bible Really Say What We Thought About Homosexuality?” from Christianity and Society Vol. 4:2 (April, 1994). I highly recommend it as a good argument from Scriptures as to why, objectively speaking, homosexuality is wrong, unnatural and sinful. Bahnsen’s ability to think logically and clearly on these issues, without the emotion that often drives Christian responses, is refreshing. May God use it to His glory.

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Bad Use of Dominion

Vicky and I decided to have chicken teriyaki sandwiches for dinner tonight. Because she opted to cook the chicken, I had to run down to the nearby Dominion grocery store for some buns. It is very convenient having the store so close-by, and frequently one of us will have to make the trek on down to get something. But today was not your run-of-the-mill groc’ry buyin’ day.
With it being the so-called “Pride Week” in Toronto, where gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered people express their natures, things aren’t exactly normal around here. This was especially the case when I approached Dominion. It isn’t often that one gets to see trans-sexual, -gendered (?) males/females handing out food samples in front of the ole corner store. But sure enough, such was the case today. It made for quite a sight.
I was first tipped off that something was different because there was a patio set-up in front of the store for eating, making it have the appearance of a restaurant. As of yet, I have no idea why that was set-up. There were a number of people milling about, and amongst the crowd was this man in full regalia. I really couldn’t say who he thought he was, but he sure didn’t think he was of the male gender! Fish-net stockings, a bright and shiny super-hero costume, more make-up than Tammy Faye, he was easy to pick out of the crowd. In particular because he was easy 6 ft. tall with a stocky build. With him was another man, this one less super-hero, more hooker. They made quite a pair, standing amidst a crowd of people who were trying to act as if nothing abnormal were going on.
As I approached, the thought dawned on me that one of these identity-robbed men might ask me if I want to “sample their goods.” I was quite surprised that I managed to get through the crowd without a peep. Yet the whole while I was in the store, I kept fashioning responses to them for on my way out. Would I ignore them? Would I tell them they are disgusting? Would I accept the food sample and stand around to try and share Christ with them? What would my response be? As it turned out, I managed to get by them again without a peep.
My initial reaction actually wasn’t one of disgust, as it may have been for many. Obviously it was not one of acceptance either. I actually could look at these two men and see them as human beings created in God’s image. I was struck quite heavily with the depth of sin that exists within the human heart, and I was utterly thankful that God chose not to leave me to my own sin. And I also managed to take hope that maybe one of them, or both even, were of Christ’s sheep and one day the Great Shepherd would come and call them to the fold.
In the midst of this week, when the LGBT crowd will be sure to display their pride, my prayer is that the Lord would be glorified in the midst of it. That maybe even one homosexual might realise his or her own sin condition and come to Christ, putting off the old nature. It has been my prayer since coming home and will continue to be my prayer over this weekend as I’m sure to see more of this out and out pride in debauchery.

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Faith Only Intellectual?

This has come up a few times in my reading, and following the pattern of Daniel Hill, I thought I’d ask a question:
Is faith only a matter of the intellect?

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Wellum on the Somerville Hoopla

Ryerson University runs adjacent to Toronto Baptist Seminary. If I head south or west, I have no option but to pass one of its buildings. Considering the closeness of the school, I wish that I had known about the “Somerville Controversy” a little sooner so I could have gone to her hooding. What a scene it must have been!
TBS professor Kirk Wellum at Redeeming the Time, has a good piece on the controversy. He notes the idiocy of homosexual proponents who felt that childish antics were a good way to protest Margaret Somerville’s award. As Kirk notes, Somerville is not anti-gay, she has merely voiced her opinion on the same-sex marriage issue, much to the dismay of the academic world.
Kirk’s insights are on the mark when he says, “this is another example of the loss of academic freedom of thought and basic freedom of speech that exists in Canadian society if one dares to challenge the pro-homosexual lobby. Make no mistake about it, this squabble is not merely about attaining certain legal protections for same-sex couples, it is an attempt to have homosexuality declared some kind of alterative normality which is fanciful in the extreme.”

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Liberty and Economics

For my libertarian friends, and other who may be interested, I thought I would post this documentary on the life of the father of Austrian Economics, Ludwig von Mises. In my opinion, he’s the most important economist of the twentieth century. But I’m an amateur, so what do I know!

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What is Canadian Theology?

Clint’s recent post at Cowboyology has given me pause to think about the nature of theology in Canada. As a Canadian and an aspiring theologian, I have to ask the question, do we have a “Canadian theology”? Even having to ask this question brings to me a pang of shame. My ignorance of Canadian history is quite bad, but my ignorance of Canadian theology is even worse! Maybe I can give a reason as to why this ignorance might be the case.
From my earliest childhood I was taught to love reading. Both my mother (actively) and my father (passively) gave me a great desire for books. One of my favourite topics to read about was history, whether fictional or factual. As well, my grandfather fought in the British Army during the Second World War, which was a contributing factor to my love of history. From the early days of the American frontier, to the battle fields of Euprope, I absolutely devoured anything historical. In fact, I can remember doing a reading report in Mr. Ashworth’s grade five class on tanks that was absolutely thrilling!
Yet, for all of my love of reading and history, nothing disinterested me so much as learning Canadian history. It might seem odd to say that, but I found Canadian history to be utterly boring. As a relatively new country, our history only includes a couple of interesting, but minor battles. It was only in recent years that we finally separated from Britain, unlike the American War for Independence, that was a glorious, albeit bloody battle for freedom. We had the Riel Rebellion and the FLQ Crisis, the Plains of Abraham and the French/Indian war, but nothing of the magnitude of the English Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Lewis and Clark expeditions, etc.
Likewise, I have found myself quite ignorant of Canadian theological formulation, and that may be as a result of the baggage I carry regarding Canadian history. I must admit however, since living farther into Canada’s borders than I once did, my interest of Canadian history has grown and I hope continues to grow. Canada isn’t as boring as I once thought! Nonetheless, something needs to be done to remedy my failure to understand Canadian theology, if there is one.
Granted, I have learned a lot from Dr. Haykin about the fundamentalist/modernist controversy that involved Toronto Baptist Seminary. For that I am quite thankful. But aside from a few piecemeal bits of history, including missionary ventures into Catholic Quebec, I know almost nothing. I am beginning to wonder if the same historical agnosticism concerning Canada has resulted in a weak theological understanding among Canadian evangelicals? If it happened to me, why not others?
Has Canada ever had the equivalent of a John Calvin or a John Owen? Or what about a Robert Murray M’Cheyne? Have we ever had massive denominational splits like the Great Disruption in the Church of Scotland? What about ecclesiastical generals like Cromwell? Have we ever had evangelical Calvinists on both sides of a war, writing theology, like Hodge and Dabney? What about itinerant preachers like Whitefield or Wesley? And more important to my overall point, do we have a Canadian theology? And if so, what is it?
I would really like to generate discussion on this to determine where Canada is at in church history, and where further theological developments are likely to take us. If I plan to remain as a theologian in Canada in the future, this has important consequences for my line of work. Who are we as Canadian evangelicals???

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R.C. Sproul, Sr., and the NPP

I have, of late, been perusing The Trinity Foundation’s website looking at their take on the Norm Shepherd controversy at Westminster Seminary (PA). I came across a section on the site called “Horror Files” where John Robbins, the director of The Trinity Foundation, writes letters about the various goings-on in the evangelical world.
In the most recent “Horror File,” dated May 2006, he asks why men like R.C. Sproul, Sr., and D. James Kennedy haven’t spoken about issues surrounding the New Perspective on Paul, the Federal Vision and the Norm Shepherd controversy. While I haven’t read much of D. James Kennedy, nor listened to or watched his sermons, I can say a little about R.C. Sproul. I do this for the benefit of readers who may have the same question as Robbins. It’s best to let Sproul speak for himself.

In addition to the controversies provoked by the ‘lordship salvation’ question and the ECT initiative, we have also seen serious questions raised within the Christian academic community, particularly with respect to the concept of imputation. The so-called ‘New Perspective on Paul’ has inclined some scholars to embrace a shift in the understanding of the New Testament concept of justification. Paul is seen as teaching not so much an individualistic notion of personal justification (in a legal sense), but of speaking of the change of a person’s status with respect to the covenant community.
The ‘New Perspective’ has led some to conclude that the historic conflict between Rome and the Reformers was a case of false dilemma, in which the either/or fallacy was committed. That is, both sides erred in their understanding of the Biblical view of justification. Thus a pox is declared on both houses.
The controversy at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia over theologian Norm Shepherd’s teaching regarding justification remains unresolved. The number of Shepherd’s followers has increased over the years since he was dismissed from Westminster.
“With all these contemporary debates regarding aspects of the Reformation doctrine of justification, it is a welcome relief for Francis Turretin’s work on the subject to appear in this special volume drawn from his larger work, Institutes of Elenctic Theology.” (R.C. Sproul, “Introduction,” in Francis Turretin, Justification, ed., James T. Dennison, Jr. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), xii-xiii.

You’ll note, if you click The Trinity Foundation link above, that John Robbins claims Sproul is “silent” on the New Perspective and the Shepherd controversy. My hope is that by publishing this, confusion will be cleared.

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Father’s Day Sermon

Here is an absolutely excellent Father’s Day sermon that was preached at my church in Essex yesterday. The text is Ephesians 6:1-4, highlighting predominantly the father’s duty to his children. Pastor Valade sure can preach! This sermon is an excellent example of the balance of doctrine. It is very doctrinal, yet also very practical. Even though the sermon was directed primarily at fathers, no one was let off the hook for their responsibilities. All fathers, yet also all Christians, should listen to this. It was of great benefit to my soul yesterday morning.

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A Rediscovery

I think it has been since Mark at Codex Markianus mentioned last.fm that I have had a rediscovery of hardcore/punk. Shortly before I came to Christ, I cleaned up my idiot ways and adopted a form of moralism called Straightedge. Simply put, Straightedge is a simplification of Christian ethics; belief in God, or anything metaphysical for that matter, is wholly optional. My first taste of Straightedge was through the band that coined the term. Well known in the 80s punk scene in America, the godfathers of straightedge, Minor Threat, became one of my instant favourites. In highschool, I had been greatly into bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc. As I renounced the liftestyle that went with those bands, I also renounced their music. I adopted the ethic of Straightedge, namely no smoking, drinking, sex or drugs. Out with the long hair, in with the shaved head. Gone was the granola rock, in came punk rock and its various extreme forms such as hardcore, metal, emo, etc. Away with the bong, in with the skateboard.
A number of months after adopting this new lifestyle, I was converted to Christ. Because Straightedge had no spiritual distinctions, one could be Straightedge and adopt any belief system (hence there are Mormon Straighteders, Krishna, Atheist…you name it). Mine was Christianity, and soon enough I found out that many Christians also adopted the Straightedge moniker. I felt quite at home.
One of the identifying factors of a Straightedger is the large X’s drawn with a thick, black marker on the top of the hand. This logo was adopted from concert-halls that didn’t serve alcohol to minors. To distinguish the underagers, an X was put on their hand so that they would not be sold libations. The X of Straightedge became an identity marker for me, of course along with the cross of Christ and ultimately a circumcised heart.
The more I got into the Straightedge scene, the more I got into the music. And not only Straightedge bands like Earth Crisis, Snapcase, Minor Threat, etc. But various Christian hardcore/punk bands. Some of my favourites were No Innocent Victim, Figure Four, xdisciplex AD and Zao. The latter easily being one of the most creative “crossover” bands I’ve ever heard.
My punk-rock renaissance in the last week or so has involved Zao (the Greek word for “alive”). Their new album, The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here, is absolutely mind blowing. They have progressed into a heavier and darker sound, much different from their amazing album, Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest.
Zao has had a significant number of member changes over their existence. In fact, there are no original members left, although the singer, Dan Weyandt, has been with them for quite a while. It is his distinct sounding voice that has really put Zao on the map as one of the premiere metal bands. He sounds almost serpantile.
I was saddened to hear that Zao is essentially a non-Christian band. They had their beginnings as being explicitly Christian in their religious commitment. There lyrics were powerful and very Christ-centred. Slowly, with the coming of Weyandt, they went from expressing an outward-looking desire for God’s glory to an inward looking testimony of God’s work. At the time this didn’t seem at all bad, but it does provide a helpful hindsight look at the degression in their overall spirituality. Although Weyandt appears to consider himself a believer, it is no longer a defining mark of the band. It’s too bad really, because their sound, mixed with biblical imagery, was a real charge to the old adrenaline.
Click the link here for more Zao. Warning, it ain’t for the faint of heart. A click of the link will bring instant streaming audio of their recent album, so make sure you don’t have your volume cranked if you’re in the office!

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Mohler on Larry King Live

Darrin Brooker has posted a clip of the final segment of Al Mohler’s interview on Larry King Live, where he discussed the issue of gay ordination on a panel made up of homosexual rights advocates.
Check it out here.

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Just Stop and Think

This website, www.juststopandthink.com, has a pretty good evangelistic video download that is well worth watching. Watching it makes me want to surf!
I like the guy that is speaking on the video. He asks his viewers to stop and think about the world we live in and the God who created it. I haven’t scoured the website thoroughly, but it does appear to be quite evangelical. The guy communicates biblical truth in language that post-moderns could easily understand.
For non-Christians, this is a good video to watch, so long as it inspires you stop and think on Jesus Christ.
The video production is stellar, not your (stereo)typical evangelism video. The soundtrack is good too, and the scenery! Click here to watch it.

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Steyn on Islamoschmoozing

Here is a great article on Islamoschmoozing by Mark Steyn. In Toronto, it seems that the only reaction to terrorist threats is to schmooz with the enemy. For David Miller to state that the “alleged” Toronto terrorists come from the “broad strata” of society is quite disgusting. We need to get that guy out of office, and quick.

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Proof that God Exists

I just received this fun link from the Unchained Radio email list. For all of you apologetes out there, you’ll probably like this. For all of you atheists…well…just click and see.
***UPDATE***
I just found out that the guy who developed this site, Sye TenBruggencate, is Canadian. Even more, he is Toronto born and now lives in the London, ON area. The more Van Tillians in Canada the merrier!

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The Price of Nice – Canada Learns by Jonah Goldberg

Right on. Jonah Goldberg said it better than I can. Multi-culturalism, interfaith dialogue, moral relativism, postmodernism, blah and blah are not what they’re cracked up to be. A lesson that Canada will hopefully learn.
[HT: Challies]

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Challies – The Beast of Revelation

Challies has a great post on the history of interpretation of that infamous Beast of Revelation. Really good stuff.

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