Westminster Theological Seminary is really growing on me over these past few months. For starters they have Carl Trueman there - very good writer and discerning historian. I greatly appreciate his perceptive writing. Also they have professors following in the footsteps of Harvie Conn, Van Til, all the while emphasizing the eternal word and redemptive history. And to top it off, WTS finally redid their website. And it looks good.

Specifically I admire their Biblical Counseling (Christian Counseling Education Foundation) and their new Gospel and Culture Project.


Driscoll on Regeneration

For those who think Driscoll is a preaching comedian. This video clip is for you, and is a good example of his preaching. Notice his nouthetic tone and language, along with solid and clear explanation of a weighty subject in traditional reformed tongue.


Jet Li, Wushu, and the Dali Lama: more thoughts on eastern religions

Last night I watched the movie fearless, starring Jet li. It is an account of the modern martial arts father in China and takes place circa early 20th century. One might be sad to know that this is Li's last martial arts film. I too was shocked and displeased, for I think he is better than Bruce Lee. I know one person who would hurt me for that statement but, ces la vie.

A week ago i just finished studying the eastern religions, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism (more of a morality) and Shintoism. Early on in the movie Li's father tells him to write Confucius' sayings ten times. This movie brings in all the various elements of Buddhism (as Li is a Buddhist - he studied under the Dali Lama. In on scene a man slits his throat instead of allowing Li to kill him - honor and ancestor veneration coming into play there.

If you would watch the commentary Li explains the purpose of martial arts, or wushu in Chinese. He notes that the aim is not to hurt the other person, or to be victorious over others, instead it is of self. Buddhism is often known as the warriors religion, utilizing swords. It is to conquer self, for when you fight you truly know who you are. You see your worst come onto the stage and only there do you have the opportunity to actualize your potential of goodness.

The same was said for yoga. I am not against using yoga or martial arts as a sport or exercise, but I would condemn the spiritual component of it. Yoga is Hindi for "to yoke." Abstractly speaking it is to bind oneself with the Brahman, impersonal god fluff that is transcendent. When you practice yoga, a distinct form of Buddhist meditation, Buddhists claim that whatever comes to your thoughts are what matters to you most and what you should pursue. In the end hope lies within yourself, as mankind have great potential for good.

More thoughts on Buddhism.. see here.

Ancestor Veneration is key in Confucian thought - think of Disney's Mulan, or another Jet Li movie Hero. Li visited his parents grave after losing everything, and all the followed was in respect to them. For Confucius taught that there are 5 key relationships in all of life, chiefly being filial ties.

Shintoism is all about the honor and glory of a nation. What is best for China or Japan. It is very easily syncretistic with Confucian thought - how can I properly live, to be the best I can be, for the nation.

In the end this is a great movie to show one how all the eastern religions, minus Hinduism, match up in a similar vein (there are differences in the intensity and focus, but thats another story).


Triperspectivalism and it’s application to Epistemology

This summer I was introduced to the idea of Triperspectivalism, a theory popularized by John Frame, but originated by Cornelius Van Til. Triperspectivalism is not a final conclusion by any definition; on the contrary it is a means, a way of thinking. It stresses the idea that different perspectives are essential in finding the truth, indifference and relativism are not options for us as we learn, think and know. This framework emphasizes absolutes. From these perspectives comes the fullest understanding that we can have as finite beings.

Frame writes: Often, however, God's revelation to us of his own perspective is itself multiperspectival in structure. He has, for example, given us four gospels, rather than one. It is important for us to hear the story of Jesus from four different perspectives. God's perspective, in this case, embraces those of the four gospel writers. His infinite perspective validates those four human perspectives and commends them to all of us. Similarly, God has given us both Kings and Chronicles, though these books overlap in many ways. He has also given us both a prose account (Ex. 12-14) and a poetic account (Ex. 15:1-18) of his deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Many of the Psalms, too, give us poetic accounts of what other Scriptures present in prose narrative. There are two givings of the law (Ex. 20:1-17, Deut. 5:1-21). Paul often repeats his ideas (as Rom. 12 and 1 Cor. 12), adding and subtracting matters of interest, varying their contexts.

We can see such perspectives teaching the fullness of truth in: The three offices of Christ. If one does not know Christ as King or Prophet, will one really know Him as Priest? It is the same with Divine Lordship, the Ten Commandments, salvation and finally human knowledge.

At the middle of this paradigm is human knowledge. We know things by experiencing them, which we can only do through our senses, and in order to remember, God gave us reason to discern such moments. In any epistemology, when you separate any of these you come with a theory of knowing that is lacking. Once understood in this way, by God's common grace, it is realized that Descartes was right, in part, when he said, "I think, therefore I am." And Rousseau when he stated, "I feel, therefore I am."

Others have used such a paradigm and applied it to church offices, ministry and church growth. I have not thought about it applying to such areas yet, but I think it is a useful idea, especially when one remembers that it is a means, not an end. (Frame's Primer is found here.)


My Night at a (reformed) Synagogue

Tonight 11 folks from my world religions class ventured to Sharon, PA in order to visit a Jewish Synagogue. A few things about the area of Sharon and Hermitage. It is the place of 5 major roads and the biggest interstate in Pennsylvania, making it a place for shopping malls and other things.

In the Judaic tradition there are three major camps: Orthodox, Conservative and lastly Reformed. Orthodox Jews are traditionalists, they are the ones who follow the Mosaic law to a T, Conservative Jews are the moderates theologically and politically, finally Reformed Jews are the United Church of Christ of Judaism. (So says my professor.) There are two common elements to all of these traditions - veneration of the Torah as the word of God (the five books of Moses), and the cultural identity factor.

Our guide led us through a worship service, what one would pray, chant, etc. and took us around the Synagogue, and elaborated on the Jewish calender (a trait of a cultural religion).

Our guide gave a very informal session of Q and A, and he found out that I knew Hebrew and allowed me to read a few words from the Torah. He chose the words, and I did the unforgivable sin, I spoke the name of God. He corrected me and moved on, not stoning me. (*whew)

Apparently the focus for Reformed Judaism is redemption here and now, not for eternity. It is to be a better person, to apply the Mosaic law to today. This results in a very moralistic, proud piety. Which was exactly what Christ preached against, as the pharisees embodied such lies. One student asked, what do you mean by redemption? Our guide politely answered that we are to reconcile and forgive our neighbors. We are not to ask for such things from God, as we did not offend him, but our fellow man.

The same student asked him about the messianic passages, to which our guide quickly replied I am not equipped to handle such questions. It is sad to see those who are of the nation of Israel, not seeing the truths in their Scriptures that point to the redeemer of Israel, making them true Israelites.

Sex is the sign of the marriage covenant itself. And to engage in sex is to call God as witness to hold us accountable for our covenantal commitment. So regardless of whether it makes sense to our culture or to our bodies to reserve sex for marriage, and regardless of whatever lesser commitments we have made to a women, as Christians we must realize that having sex outside of marriage makes a mockery of the covenant God instituted and to which he is a witness.”
Michael Lawrence from Sex and the Single Man in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, ed. by John Piper and Justin Taylor


Is gathering together for the gospel a bad thing?

DG Hart, over on De Regno Chrsti, wrote that Tim Keller has left the PCA. (who did no such thing.) Hart writes:

How else should we interpret his involvement in the Gospel Coalition. Co-founded by such evangelical heavyweights as D. A. Carson and John Piper, GC is a fellowship of churches that have come together for the purpose of “renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures.” GC plans to execute its promotion of the gospel through the ordained means of word and sacrament. “We intend to [serve the church] through the ordinary means of his grace: prayer, the ministry of the Word, baptism and the Lord’s supper, and the fellowship of the saints.”
The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel are a very good things and blessings. Both proclaim the majestic sovereign God that we have and the precious gospel of grace, all the while recognizing that some who come together are baptists and others are paedo's. But that does not get in the way of celebrating the catholicity of the church. These organizations are a symbol of a movement to gather together for the sake of the gospel (not as structured as Acts 29, which has a PCA congregation in it). This goes against the grain of our natures, which is to go as reclusive and isolated as possible, lacking fellowship, community and accountability. This movement is to be encouraged and prayed for... that it would be a conduit for an evangelical and reformed reunion that we might be one, "as we are one." And the Gospel Coalition encourages that.

PS. You can read the article here
PSS. Keller was not the only PCA minister to participate - Phil Ryken, Ray Ortlund, Bryan Chapell, Harry Reeder, Scotty Smith, and several others went to participate. [All seen here]


Robertson endorses Rudy, "America's Mayor"

Robertson is seriously off his rocker... He is right on the first need in a president: The defense of the American people against Terrorists and other foreign enemies. But the second need is not to reduce the deficit, it is abortion. And when we have leading evangelicals saying otherwise, it is no wonder that this country takes no ear to Christians regarding abortion.

Which he is wishy washy on to say the least.


Learning to read well

Reading is underrated by many. In many circles the idea of being a bookworm is similar to being a goth in emo circles. As a discipline reading is almost never done right. You have several literary genres that an author can invest in, fiction or non. The reading I am talking about here, is when one reads non fiction, whether it be history, theology, philosophy or any number of subjects. Often I read, and others, just to get the assignment done, or when it is for the occasion of pleasure and fun – that's all it is. Instead we should read and constantly ask… is this true? Does this make sense? If the answer is yes to both questions, the next is… If I don't believe this- how should it change my life?

I lament the church who does not teach people to read well, by not asking the text intelligent questions. (Which exposes the logic and themes of the narrative.)

When we share the gospel, whether it is in person or from the pulpit? Do we ask unbelievers to read Scripture and to read it well? To ask the question… is this true? Then, by that fact, the logic demands the next be answered… how does this impact my life? And do we do it as well? Do we ask ourselves the hard question – How does the truth of Scripture change my life?

The beautiful truth is that God gives us that grace to do so. (grace is awesome)


November is crunch time

Just to warn my avid readers, this month is going to be insane.

Just a rundown. This week I am leading a discussion for my world religions class on Daoism and Confucianism. On Thursday I, along with my group, have to lead a presentation on these two religions. (They are moral philosophies instead of a faith.) Next week I have two papers due, which are simple book reports for my ministry class. Over Thanksgiving break I am hoping to go to Light of Life to serve there. Once I get back to school I have to write a paper on Augustine's epistemology and one on Messianic thought in Contemporary Judaism. Along with paper season there is always the need for editing – and I will read some sweet thoughts on media ecology. Somewhere in there I might venture out to Westminster in Philadelphia and see what they have to offer for a seminary education. Their prospective student date is Nov. 27. I personally really want to meet Dr. Carl Trueman. (Sweet author over at Reformation 21)

But around the web this weekend was a great article at the Desiring God Blog.

Piper writes: "If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he's a wimp. He should be ashamed. For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea. Part of the meaning of manhood as God created us is the sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of our women."