One of my favourite bands used to be Bad Religion, the godfathers of California punk. The early stuff was raw and in your face and as they’ve aged their melodic side has come to the fore. If you know them at all, you’re likely familiar with their radio hit 21st Century Digital Boy, a song whose music and lyrics I love.
What’s most interesting about Bad Religion is that their singer, Greg Graffin, has a PhD in evolutionary biology from from Cornell, thus the intelligence of the song-writing is quite high. Graffin is also an atheist and this comes out strongly in a lot of what he writes about. One song in particular has been in my mind as the calendar switched to 2010 – it’s a song about suffering and the over-population of the world: Ten in 2010. It’s short, so I’ll reproduce the lyrics for you:
parched, cracked mouths, empty swollen guts
sun-baked pavement encroaches on us
haves and have-nots together at last
brutally engaged in mortal combat
10 in 2010
what kind of God orchestrates such a thing?
10 in 2010
ten billion people all suffering
10 in 2010
truth is not an issue just hungry mouths to feed
10 in 2010
forget what you want, scrounge the things you need
happy and content it can’t happen to you
10 in 2010
fifteen years we’ll think of a solution
10 in 2010
it won’t just appear in one day
10 in 2010
for ten in twenty-ten we’re well on our way
like piercing ear darts, I heard the news today
10 in 2010
10 billion people…coming your way
Now, there is much that could be said about this song in terms of its overall philosophy. I think in particular of the line early on: “What kind of God orchastrates such a thing?” The song is essentially about the goodness of God and human suffering; a subject often called “theodicy” in the philosophy of religion. My point here is not to get into the issue of how God can be good in light of human suffering (one thinks only of the recent earthquake in Haiti). Philosophers like Alvin Plantinga and John Frame have offered up sound answers to this age-old problem.
Rather, I want to highlight the basic error of the song in that the world’s population is not ten billion and it is now the year of our Lord two thousand and ten. Trusty old Wikipedia estimates the population of the world currently at 6,799,700,000. I wonder if Graffin’s changed the lyrics or if they’ve scrapped the song altogether?
West Toronto Baptist, in October, called my good friend Justin Galotti as their pastor! If you live in the Junction/West Toronto/High Park area and are looking for a church community where you’ll grow in Christ, this is the place to be. Justin preaches expository messages through books of the bible, he is solid theologically and is a great guy. So check out their website: West Toronto Baptist Church.
Last year I went to my first Simeon Trust preaching workshop. The speakers were David Short and David Helm, both of whom lectured on preaching through Luke’s gospel. It was fantastic! I learned a lot not only about Luke, but about a biblical approach to preaching a gospel. This year Simeon Trust is back in Toronto, with David Helm again, to speak about preaching through apocalyptic literature (i.e. Daniel, Revelation). I have the privilege of running one of the workshops, which is both exciting and scary! The following is the info from the Simeon Trust website. I highly, highly recommend going to this if you’re interested in preaching. If you’ve been preaching for twenty years or you’re new to it you will benefit from the time spent. Churches! Send your pastors!
|Whether in the movies, television or popular music, the idea of Apocalyptic Literature is everywhere. It’s filled with spectacular drama, striking imagery and end-times relevance. Yet, preachers avoid it. Join David Helm and enter with him through the door of Apocalyptic Literature—to gain the necessary tools for preaching and teaching these important and often overlooked texts.
|BAYVIEW GLEN ALLIANCE CHURCH IN THORNHILL, ONTARIO
MARCH 3-5, 2010
David Helm serves as Lead Pastor of the Hyde Park congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago. David held the post of Senior Pastor of Holy Trinity Church from its founding in 1998 until 2008, when Jon Dennis assumed the role. A graduate of Wheaton College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, David is ordained in the PCA and serves on the council of The Gospel Coalition. He authored 1 & 2 Peter and Jude in Crossway’s Preaching the Word series, The Big Picture Story Bible and contributed to Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching in Honor of Kent Hughes. Additionally, David serves as Chairman of the Charles Simeon Trust, a ministry devoted to equipping men in expository preaching.
The latest issue of the excellent journal American Theological Inquiry is out and available both in print and online. For the Reformed there are some noteworthy articles:
Preaching as a Means of Grace and the Doctrine of Sanctification: A Reformed Perspective
J. V. Fesko
‘He Went About Doing Good’: Eighteenth-Century Particular Baptists on the Necessity of Good Works
Michael A. G. Haykin
Stephen Charnock’s Doctrine of God: An Anthology of The Existence and Attributes Of God
Last year I read the Christian Focus reprint of John Brown’s (1830-1922) The English Puritans: The Rise and Fall of the Puritan Movement (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910). It was originally written at the end of the nineteenth century and comes from a strongly Congregationalist perspective as Brown was one of the leading Congregationalists of his day. The Monergism website has recently made available the CUP edition here. While this is definitely a worthy read – and I recommend anyone studying the Puritans to give it a gander – I do have certain reservations about some of his views. For instance, I don’t agree with his understanding of the limits of Puritanism. He sees Puritan beginnings in 1558 with the ascendency of Elizabeth I to the throne of England and its ending in 1658 with the death of Oliver Cromwell. While I can agree generally with his first date, I would place the latter quite a bit later. I agree with J.I. Packer who places the closing of the Puritan period with the death of John Howe in 1705. As well, as I noted, I believe his Congregationalist concerns colour his writing as well as some of his political views – which I have sympathies with on both fronts!
That said, give Brown a read – although I would also suggest reading more contemporary works like those of Packer, John Spurr, Geoffrey Nuttall, Peter Lake, John Coffey and others of that ilk.
I just did a search for the song “Oh My God (It Still Means A Lot To Me)” by one of my new favourite bands: The Wooden Sky. They’re a Canadian indie/folk band who make excellent driving music – including the aforementioned song. However, I accidentally clicked on the song “Oh My God” by the Norwegian punker Ida Maria, whom I’d never heard of. Well this was a great delight because she’s awesome! Apparently she’s becoming quite a rock sensation and I can see why. Her songs, at least those on YouTube, are incredibly catchy with a lot of energy and passion. She has synesthesia which probably explains her creativity. Anyways, check out the video for the song “Drive Away My Heart,” it’s great (and weird):