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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Providence quotes

"In the infinite wisdom of the Lord of all the earth, each event falls with exact precision into its proper place in the unfolding of His divine plan. Nothing, however small, however strange, occurs without His ordering, or without its particular fitness for its place in the working out of His purpose; and the end of all shall be the manifestation of His glory, and the accumulation of His praise." -- B. B. Warfield

"A firm faith in the universal providence of God is the solution of all earthly troubles." --  B.B. Warfield 

"Prayer honors God, acknowledges His being, exalts His power, adores His providence, secures His aid." -- E. M. Bounds

"To the dim and bewildered vision of humanity, God's care is more evident in some instances than in others; and upon such instances men seize, and call them providences. It is well that they can; but it would be gloriously better if they could believe that the whole matter is one grand providence." -- George Macdonald

"God often lays the sum of His amazing providences in very dismal afflictions; as the limner* first puts on the dusky colors, on which he intends to draw the portraiture of some illustrious beauty." -- Stephen Charnock

"Howbeit your faith seeth but the black side of Providence, yet it hath a better side, and God shall let you see it. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God; hence I infer that losses, disappointments, ill tongues, loss of friends, houses or country, are God's workmen, set on work to work out good to you, out of everything that befalleth you." -- Samuel Rutherford

* a painter

Monday, December 24, 2012

More old news that is new to me


"[John] Lott...noted that the Aurora [Colorado] shooter, who killed twelve people earlier this year, had a choice of seven movie theaters that were showing the Batman movie he was obsessed with. All were within a 20-minute drive of his home. The Cinemark Theater the killer ultimately chose wasn’t the closest, but it was the only one that posted signs saying it banned concealed handguns carried by law-abiding individuals." -- The Facts about Mass Shootings

The above is an interesting fact that I had never heard mentioned before. As far as I know, there is no proof that the shooter deliberately chose the Cinemark because of its posted "no guns" signs. But what I find bothersome is whether there was some ulterior motive for reporters never mentioning that fact.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Sacred Harp, 2012 Edition


A couple weeks ago I announced that a new song book -- The Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition, 2012 -- is now available. The new book was completely re-typeset throughout by Karen Willard of Buckley, Washington. 110 years after Mr. W. M. Cooper introduced his revision of The Sacred Harp in 1902, this is the first complete front-to-back revision since it was first published. Some songs are moved to give them more room, but no songs were removed from the book. This book is the culmination of the vision many Sacred Harp singers saw. The Revision Committee, Board of Directors, Sacred Harp Book Company, and Colson Printing have combined to produce a very fine book. They deserve our sincerest gratitude. 

Highlighted below are some of the changes and improvements:

*All pages were completely re-typeset by Karen Willard, from the front cover to the last page of the index.
*The new edition is 1/2 inch taller and 1/2 inch wider than before.
*Tinted paper is used to reduce glare and to improve readability.
*Typographical errors in music and poetry were corrected, as well as musical errors.
*All remaining uses of "etc." were replaced with words.
*Alto parts that were in the alto clef were moved to the treble clef.
*Additional stanzas of poetry were added to 95 songs (and in a few cases a few stanzas were removed; e.g. 582)
*New title: The Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition, 2012
*List of all previous known editions of the Cooper line of Sacred Harp, p. ii.
*The number of pages was increased to 608, first, to relieve crowding, and, second, to add new tunes.
*Crowded songs were moved. (e.g. "Worcester" moves to 588 and gets 1-1/2 pages, "The Judgment" moves to 592 and gets 2 pages).
*"Footnotes" are added to help the singer find songs that were moved.
*No songs were removed from the book and 14 songs were added, for a total of 611 tunes (not counting the two in the rudiments). 
*Twelve added tunes are composed by contemporary singers (Mars Hill Morning, Nightfall, North Jersey, Wiley, Tallahassee, Rest for the Soul, Wells Second, Traveler's Rest - Samson, Gosia, Every Grace, Sweet Reunion, National Blessings) 
*Two added tunes are 18th century compositions (Peterborough, Savannah).
*Cooper's "Suggestions" are returned to the book, p. viii.
*Rudiments adopts the raised minor sixth theory, p. xx, xxiv.
*Rudiments adds new "Definition of Musical Terms", p. xxv.
*Index moves to the back of the book and adds sections for finding "Anthems," "Duets," and "Major/Minor Companions;" Minor tunes are in bold print, making it obvious in the index which tunes are major or minor.
*Composers and hymn-writers are credited as accurately as possible with the most current information available.

These are not all of the changes, but should give a good idea just how large a project the revision committee undertook.

The base price of the 2012 edition is $20.00 per book, regardless of the quantity purchased. Bulk orders are by case (10 books per case). Shipping charges to U.S. addresses are: First book (or one book) $5.00; for additional books up to 5 books, add $2.00 per book; for a case of ten books, add $20.00. Inquire about shipping charges for orders sent to non-U.S. addresses. Make checks payable to the Sacred Harp Book Co. Address all orders and inquiries to Bill Aplin, Secretary/Treasurer, Sacred Harp Book Co. Inc., 200 South Johnson St., Samson, AL 36477, or e-mail aplinbill-at-gmail-dot-com, or phone 334-898-7253.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Seven Regrets of Pastors


Thom Rainer discusses "The Top Seven Regrets of Pastors." This represents the kind of pastors he knows and interviewed, but I think you will still find it interesting. For those us not involved in churches that operate like businesses, No. 5 is not likely to be a big regret (at least as a pastor, though we might wish to know more about finance as heads of homes). Yet No. 4 is likely to reverberate with many.

*Lack of practical training for local church ministry.
*Overly concerned about critics.
*Failure to exercise faith.
*Not enough time with family.
*Failure to understand basic business and finance issues.
*Failure to share ministry.
*Failure to make friends.

The entire piece can be found HERE.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God, the source of all comfort


Romans 12:15 ...weep with them that weep.

Matthew 2:16-18 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted , because they are not.

II Corinthians 1:4   Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Old news that is news to me

On the radio I heard someone reference a study done in 2002 by Peter S. Bearman and Hannah Bruckner. Even though it is ten years old, I've not heard it mentioned in any context, by either conservative or liberal news media. This 2002 study supports, if not outright proves, that homosexuality is not genetic. Identical twins have identical genes. If homosexuality is caused genetically, wouldn't identical twins have the same "sexual orientation"? Yet, in their study Bearman and Bruckner found concordance rates (both twins being homosexual) of only 7.7% for male identical twins and 5.3% for females identical twins. Bearman was with Columbia and Bruckner with Yale, so this isn't just a couple of conservatives trying to prove a point.

The study's "working papers" can be found online HERE.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Front porch vs. Back deck

We have gone from a front porch society to a back deck society. When I was a kid it was common to see folks sitting on a front porch happily visiting with one another. Their gathering was visible (and inviting) to all who passed by. Today it is more likely that a group is gathered on a back deck, with a fence blocking them from anyone's view. The front porch suggests community and openness -- come on up and sit a spell. The back deck suggests privacy -- please leave us alone.

This post is not about front porchs being sacroscant or back decks being evil. Rather it's just an observation of how we have changed and what that might say about our thought processes. There is nothing wrong with privacy or back decks, but there is something very good about openness and community that perhaps to a large degree we have lost.

Isaiah 53

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief...Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows...he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." - Isaiah

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Is anyone listening?

Yesterday I sat and listened as a speaker presented relevant and applicable information to a roomful of people. Of the ten people at my table, seven had their personal electronic devices out, and six very actively using them. One person was even using two! Maybe some are effective "multi-taskers," but I suspect most just weren't paying much attention to the speaker. It made me wonder how much folks in church are paying attention to those who are teaching.

Texting, typing and talking while someone is speaking is just plain rude. The popularity of multiple electronic devices have made our rudeness common-place and open. Before all the personal devices folks could still ignore a speaker. They just did it more politely. If you were in church, you could read the church covenant or daydream about what's for dinner. Much of this was done with a semblance of attention -- and perhaps a dumb smile. Rude or restless, there have always been, and always will be people who don't listen. It seems to have now become an engrained way of life. Are we really that busy? It is still true that sometimes we need to be slow to speak (or text or type) and swift to listen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Be Still My Soul


“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge, Selah.” Psalm 46:10-11

The reasons we can and should be still are clear:
1. He is God! All of creation, providence salvation and judgment are from HIM and to HIM.
2. He has purposed to exalt HIMSELF in everything that He brings to pass. There are no accidents or uncertainties with Him.
3. He is the LORD of hosts- He has at HIS command all elements of the universe to direct them as He will, whether in heaven, on earth or under the earth.
4. He is the Refuge for sinners - The blood of His Son, the LORD Jesus has paid the debt, and in HIM they are saved! 
By Ken Wimer, excerpted from Shreveport Grace Church Bulletin, December 9, 2012

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Gospel Trumpet

Hark! How the Gospel trumpet sounds!
Christ and free grace therein abounds;
Free grace to such as sinners be:
And if free grace,--why not for me?

The Savior died, and by His blood
Brought rebel sinners near to God;
He died to set the captives free:
And why, my soul, why not for thee?

The blood of Christ, how sweet it sounds,
To cleanse and heal the sinner’s wounds!
The streams thereof are rich and free:
And why, my soul, why not for me?

Thus Jesus came the poor to bless,
To clothe them with His righteousness;
That robe is spotless, full and free;
And why, my soul, why not for thee?

Eternal life by Christ is giv'n,
And sinful men are raised to heav'n;
Then sing of grace so rich and free,
And say, my soul, why not for thee?

By Charles Cole

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Can the clergy be trusted?

Not as much as nurses, pharmacists, doctors, engineers, police officers, dentists, and college teachers, according to a recent Gallup Poll. There are some people who just don't like preachers and pastors, but a lot of this distrust can be laid at the feet of preachers themselves.

Some consolation, at least we rate higher than journalists, the Congress, and car salesmen.

For more, see The Seven People Americans Trust More Than Their Pastor and Congress gets low honesty rating.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Literal interpretation -- my trip to Redbox

Today I had to go to Kroger to pick up some kitchen supplies. A co-worker asked if I would return a DVD to Redbox (they have a kiosk at the entrance). That seemed simple enough, so I readily agreed. 

Not so simple...

Call me old-fashioned, call me a dinosaur, or call me just plain stupid. I've never used Redbox. In case my abilities to explain are also deficient -- or you are a dinosaur as well -- I have inserted an illustration of a Redbox kiosk to the left.  On the kiosk  in the middle at the extreme right side is a slot to insert returns. To its left is a large screen. The only difference from the picture is that in reality the kiosk at Kroger had a curtain covering the screen with the words, "Lift here to rent." Well, I'm not renting anything, so...

So I stick the DVD in the slot and nothing happens. I push on it but it won't inch forward. I force it a little harder; still nothing. I think perhaps I'll need to get a mallet and drive it in the slot! A lady walks by and explains that you have to hold it there briefly and then it will accept it and automatically slide in. OK. Only nothing happens. She asks whether I pushed the "return" button -- which I didn't and did not even see anywhere. Guess what? Lift the curtain that says "rent" and underneath you'll find an icon on the screen that says "return". Push it. Stick the DVD in the slot, and voila! Returned!

Later I thought about this and wondered if at times I force a similar stubborn literalness on my interpretation of the Bible?? Don't get me wrong. I believe in literal interpretation. Words must be taken at their meaning. But the "literal meaning" at times may actually be figurative. Sometimes we're trying to force something into the Bible that might be much simpler if we'd just let it be.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Quote of the day

"The melody of the heart is the best melody, and singing with the spirit and with the understanding the sweetest employ." -- John Kent in the preface to the 8th edition of his Original Gospel Hymns and Poems, 1840

Sunday, December 02, 2012

New song book

The Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition, 2012 is now before the public. It was introduced at great meeting of the Florida State Convention in Panama City, Florida this weekend. This book is completely re-typeset throughout, front to back. Some songs are moved to give them more room, but no songs were removed from the book. 14 songs were added, several by contemporary singers, for a total of 611 tunes in this new book.

The base price of the 2012 edition is $20.00 per book. The shipping charges will be shortly determined and announced to the Sacred Harp community. These new books may be ordered from The Sacred Harp Book Company, c/o Mr. Bill Aplin, Secretary/Treasurer, 200 S. Johnson St., Samson, AL 36477. A limited supply of books were sent for the convention, so it will be a little longer before any large orders can be filled.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

6 things we ought to give

Continuing in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, here are six things we ought to give.

1. We ought to give thanks, because of what God has done. Cf. e.g. Psalm 136
2. We ought to give praise and honor, because of who God is. Cf. e.g. Psalm 29
3. We ought to give honor to whom honor is due, because of God's sovereignty. Cf. Rom. 13:7 & 9:21
4. We ought to give instruction, answers and advice, because of our calling. Cf. Prov. 9:9; I Pet. 3:15; II Cor. 8:10
5. We ought to give gifts, because of the need.
To help the poor, hungry and needy, Cf. e.g. Matt. 5:42; Psalm 146:7; Luke 6:30-38
To support the ministry of the church, Cf. e.g. I Cor. 9; I Cor. 16:1-3; II Cor. 9:7
6. We ought to give ourselves, because it is reasonable. Cf. e.g. I Tim 4:15; Romans 12:1

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Random History of Feet Washing among Baptists

I usually refer to this as "feet washing", though probably more people refer to it as "foot washing". In the early 1980s an older preacher told me it should be referred to as "feet washing" because you wash both feet, not just one. Since then I have tried to consistently refer to it in this manner. I hope to briefly explore feet washing and its history as it relates to Baptists, rather than discussing it from a theological perspective.

Which Baptists may or may not practice feet washing? Two groups that are most widely recognized as "feetwashers" are Primitive Baptists and Free Will Baptists, though the practice is not 100% among either of these. The majority of Primitive Baptists practice feet washing, but a few do not. Hassell mentions this in his History of the Church of God. Many Primitive Baptists refer to feet washing as an "example" rather than an ordinance. Feet washing is a majority practice among the Free Will Baptists, though, for example, it has been a little weak among Texas Free Will Baptists because of a strong link to the northern (Randall) version of Free Will Baptists. One Free Will Baptist church near here hasn't observed it in a number of years, though their statement of faith expresses a belief in it. Free Will Baptists seem to consistently refer to feet washing as an "ordinance".

Other lesser known or smaller groups of Baptists are fairly consistent "feetwashers", such as: Old Regular Baptists, United Baptists, Regular Baptists, General Baptists, Separate Baptists, and Interstate & Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptist Association. Central Baptists (Primitive Baptist descendants), Duck River and Kindred Associations, Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists, and Union Baptists (another Primitive Baptist descendant similar to the Regular Baptists) all practice feet washing.

Some other groups where one can find remnants of the practice are: missionary Baptists, Southern Baptists, and independent Baptists. It has a fairly strong minority following in these churches that are in the Appalachia region or its foothills (e.g., the Blue Ridge of north Georgia). A minority of country churches affiliated with the American Baptist Association and the Baptist Missionary Association used to practice feet washing, although I think the practice had been "rooted out" by mid-20th century. The last actual practice I have confirmed was a BMAA church in east Texas in 1954. A few local associations carried it in their minutes until the early 1960's. The split of the ABA in 1950, and the subsequent withdrawal of the majority of the "feetwashers" into the Interstate and Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptist Association probably finished what the seminaries had not done. An old issue of J. Frank Norris' paper (The Fundamentalist) indicates that in the early stages of the World Baptist Fellowship (then called the World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship), some of the churches among them practiced feet washing. I feel certain none do now.

Some sources that mention the subject. History of Middle Tennessee Baptists, by J. H. Grime [SBC], has a short chapter on the subject; The Lord's Table by W. J. Burgess [BMAA]; History of the Church of God by C. B. & Sylvester Hassell [Primitive Baptist]; History of the Franklin Association of United Baptists by W. P. Throgmorton [SBC]; The Baptists of Virginia by Garnett Ryland; The History of the English Baptists by Underwood; The Primitive Baptist newspaper, article by C. H. Cayce, Feb. 9. 1933; Foxfire 7. An interesting article on the subject of feet washing is found in Viewpoints: Georgia Baptist History, Volume 1. The article is titled "Feet Washing among Baptists of Georgia (A Study of)" by Charles O. Walker.

In general, the strength of feet washing in the United States was/is in the south, largely due to the influence of Shubal Stearns and the Separate Baptists. But also know that early on in the highly influential Philadelphia Baptist Association, they also approved it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving Day. We have much for which to be thankful.

Monday, November 19, 2012

John 13: reprise

Things others said:
"Doubtless when Jesus washed the disciples' feet he included the feet of Judas Iscariot. If this proves anything beyond the unfathomable love and forbearance of the Master, it is that no rite, even if performed by Jesus himself, ensures spiritual cleansing. Washed Judas may have been; cleansed he was not (cf. 6:63-64). The only other place in the Fourth Gospel where Jesus tell his disciples (minus Judas) that they are clean is 15:3: 'You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.' Real cleansing is effected both through Jesus' revelatory word and through the atoning sacrifice to which the footwashing pointed."
From The Gospel According to John: The Pillar New Testament Commentary, D. A. Carson , Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdman's Co., p. 466

In his commentary, Carson also points out that there are three applications of the feet washing"1. The impending atoning death of Christ on the cross, vv 6-82. The cleansing of the progressive Christian experience in time, vv 9-11 cf v 10 with I John 1:93. The lesson of love and humility ,vv 12-17
According to John Christopher Thomas, there is no historical record in either Jewish or Greco-Roman sources "of a superior washing the feet of an inferior."

Footwashing in John 13 and the Johannine Community, John Christopher Thomas, Sheffield, JSOT Press, 1991, Chapter 3

To the extent that we want power we are in the flesh, and the Holy Spirit has no part in us. Christ put a towel around Himself and washed His disciples' feet (John 13:4). We should ask ourselves from time to time, "Whose feet am I washing?" Some churches have made foot-washing into a third sacrament; members wash each other's feet during their worship service. While most of us think it is a mistake to make this a sacrament, let us admit that it is 10,000 times better to wash each other’s feet in a literal way than never to wash anybody’s feet in any way. It would be far better for us to make a mistake and institute a third sacrament of literal foot-washing than to live out our lives without once consciously choosing to serve each other. Doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way is not some exotic thing; it is having and practicing the mentality which Christ commands.
From The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: a Christian Worldview. Volume Three, a Christian View of Spirituality, Francis August Schaeffer, Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982, pp. 46-47

Sunday, November 18, 2012

For nothing and in everything

Philippians 4:6 -- Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

The negative stated and excluded. "Be careful for nothing..." "Careful" here means to be full of cares -- worry, doubt, fear, anxiety. The Christian should not live a life filled with anxious cares. "For nothing" excludes it from all cases. How can we remove our doubts in the present and not worry over the future? By casting all our care on our Heavenly Father. He cares for us. Thus we see...

The positive stated and enjoined. "...in every thing...let your requests be made known unto God." Things we encounter in life are "too big" for us to carry. But nothing is too big for God! Prayer acknowledges our helpfulness and God's power. In everything -- in all cases -- we should pour out our requests before God. With thanksgiving we acknowledge His kind care over us thus far, and know it will continue.

Thus far the Lord hath led me on
Thus far His power prolongs my days;
And every evening shall make known
Some fresh memorial of His grace.
(Isaac Watts)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Goodbye, Ron, may God bless you

No, not Ronald Reagan...Ron Paul. In January Ron Paul is leaving the hallowed halls of Congress. His voice will be heard no more, save in the voices of those who have caught his message. Let freedom ring!

Links:
Read Marty Duren tell Why Ron Paul excels John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Read full text of Ron Paul's Farewell address to Congress.

Listen to Ron Paul's Farewell speech on the House floor.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

African-American Baptist hymnody

Most of my recent posts have been religion, politics and news -- not much for the music lover. To remedy that, here is a little something:
A Survey of Hymnody usage in Selected African American Baptist Churches in the State of Florida, a PhD dissertation by Duncan Jackson at Florida State University, 2009
This looks very interesting. This is a recommendation of interest. I haven't read it yet -- just found it today -- so I don't yet know what he has to say.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Is this news?

From a Yahoo news article, I copy:
"A senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the emails were 'flirtatious' in nature, but did not deal with security or military business. The official said he had not seen the emails and could not say whether they were merely friendly or sexually explicit."

Over the past several days, I've noticed a rash of "speaking on condition of anonymity" notices in online and print media news. Many times it is because said person "was not authorized to speak" and so forth, although there have been a number of different reasons given. And then, today, this one! It should say "A senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he or she had no clue in the matter..."

Is it really news when someone who has not seen or read something is talking to a reporter about it? Senior official, maybe you should not talk about what you don't know about. Reporter, maybe you should find someone who has actually seen or read the e-mails to talk about them!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Election" As Taught in Scripture

Election As Taught in Scripture, by Ken Wimer

Election has its ground, not in anything belonging to the sinner, but ONLY in the purpose and will of God from eternity (2Ti 1:9; Ro 8:30-33; compare Lu 18:7; Eph 1:4; Col 3:12). Acts 13:48 shows that all faith on the part of the elect, is the result of God the Father having ordained sinners to believe, and in time giving them faith to submit to Christ and His righteous obedience unto death. Sinners do not become elect by their faith, but receive faith, and so become believers, because they are elect.

1. It is a special gift of grace, and is the evidence of Christ’s redeeming grace at the cross (Eph. 2:8). Faith proves itself to be a genuine grace of the Holy Spirit, for it submits to and trusts in the righteousness of God in Christ for justification, His blood for pardon, and His all-prevailing merits and intercession for life (2 Peter 1:4). We are not justified by believing, but being justified by the death of the Lord Jesus (Romans 5:9-11), we are caused to see the glory of Christ and His finished work at Calvary, and granted repentance to bow to Him as Savior and Lord. Faith glorifies the Lord Jesus as God’s High Priest who put away sin, and honors Him as King to rule and govern, and yields obedience to Him as God’s prophet to instruct in the truth.
2. It is unto the acknowledging of the truth, which is how the Bible describes repentance- 2 Timothy 2:25. It is not only the acknowledging of our sinfulness, and worthiness of God’s just condemnation, had He so purposed, but the recognition and full discernment of the truth void of conditions of men. It is synonymous with God given, Spirit wrought faith, Acts 20: 21. The believing soul is stripped of every self-righteous plea, and is humbled and submitted to Christ and His imputed righteousness as its only hope for life and salvation.
3. It is after godliness Titus 1:1. Godliness means reverence for God! It presupposes knowledge given by the Spirit through the doctrine of Christ that causes affection for Christ and His Gospel, dependence on His grace, submission to His imputed righteousness, and gratitude for God’s mercies in Christ, and obedience to the truth as it is in Christ. It is opposed to any knowledge that is not founded in the truth, both doctrinal and practical (Tit 1:11, 16; 1Ti 6:3) and anything tending to ungodliness whether in doctrine or practice (2Ti 2:16; compare Tit 2:11, 12).
4. It is in hope of eternal life- Titus 3:7. This includes, not only the salvation of the soul and its eternal keeping, but also the resurrection of the body and the final glorification of every sinner whom the Father chose, and for whom Christ died. It is a true hope, a sure hope, and a good hope, because of Him who IS OUR HOPE- 1 Timothy 1:1

Ken Wimer, Shreveport Grace Church Bulletin - January 24, 2010

Thursday, November 08, 2012

"Political" quotes

"Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the 'new, wonderful, good society' which shall now be Rome's, interpreted to mean: more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious." -- Marcus Tullius Cicero

"Our Christian habit is to bewail the world's deteriorating standards with an air of rather self-righteous dismay. We criticize its violence, dishonesty, immorality, disregard for human life, and materialistic greed. 'The world is going down the drain,' we say with a shrug. But whose fault is it? Who is to blame? Let me put it like this. If the house is dark when nightfall comes, there is no sense in blaming the house; that is what happens when the sun goes down." -- John Stott

"If you are a Christian and you find your identity in your race, your social status, your economic standing, your neighborhood, your traditions, your privileged place of power, or your political party, it is time to lay all that down and live open, sacrificial lives on behalf of the world as you represent Christ. Hold tight to the Word of God and its timeless truth. Be ready to be persecuted on behalf of righteousness. But, find your identity in Christ and not in the false identities of the world. Jesus is victorious." -- Alan Cross

"Christians must never see political action as an end, but only as a means. We can never seek salvation through the voting booth, and we must never look for a political messiah." -- Al Mohler

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

God is still ruler yet

I write this on the evening of the election, to post to my blog in the morning. It is expected that it will be well into the night -- or maybe even much later than that -- before we will have an idea who has won the presidential election. Now I lay me down to sleep.

I lay down to sleep without worrying about what I will wake to find tomorrow. Many supporters of whomever wins will shout from the housetops that the country has been saved. Deliverance is come. Many supporters of whomever loses will wring their hands in despair, surely knowing that the future is lost. I  rest assured that this is my Father's world -- God is the ruler yet. The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men and gives them to whomsover He will. I am not seeking "hope and change" (Obama) or "real change" (Romney) for our deliverance. Salvation is of the Lord!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Abortion in rare cases?

"We must respond to all tragic circumstances of pregnancy from the unshakeable foundation of two indisputable premises: human life begins at conception, and it is always wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.  The unborn child’s right to life and liberty is given by his or her Creator, not by his or her parents or by the state.  The right to life is inalienable: that is, not to be trespassed upon by another."

"When the life of the mother is truly threatened by her pregnancy, if both lives cannot simultaneously be saved, then saving the mother’s life must be the primary aim.  If through our careful treatment of the mother’s illness the pre-born patient inadvertently dies or is injured, this is tragic and, if unintentional, is not unethical and is consistent with the pro-life ethic.  But the intentional killing of an unborn baby by abortion is never necessary." -- From the Official position statement of the Association of Pro-Life Physicians

Monday, November 05, 2012

Against "Civil Rights"

Historically, most Africans became Americans through the institution of slavery. Born in Africa, they were sold as slaves in America. This practice continued until a bloody war and a 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ended it.* The freed slaves were given equality under the 14th and 15th amendments, but struggled to achieve full equality through a gradual process that blossomed in the 1950s and  60s as the civil rights movement.

Now, the homosexual community in the United States has co-opted the black struggle for civil rights, pretending that these two are equivalent. Whoa! Back up. Black men and women in America were born black and were discriminated against on that basis alone. Homosexuality is not a gender. We are born male and female and choose to participate in sexual activity. Regardless of what goes on in our minds, people choose what sexual activity they will participate in, or if they will participate in any at all. Not only that, it requires two consenting adults to mutually make to the same choice. Black folks are black, period, end of story. A small child can see it. Doesn't matter what we think or if we can find two consenting adults to agree on it. On the other hand, we need psychiatrists, psychologists and other "ists" to tell us of homosexuals being born that way. Don't insult black Americans by equating the homosexual agenda for same-sex marriage with the black struggle against discrimination for merely being black.

* ratified on Dec. 6, 1865

Related:
No Rights on Maryland Question 6

Sunday, November 04, 2012

??

This morning at 2 a.m. we were once again released for a few months from government mind control.

Or, is it just another facet of that control that we move our clocks back to where we started with them when we're told??

West Tennessee articles of faith

Through the kindness of Albert Wardin of Nashville, I received copies of the Abstract of Principles of the Western District Association, 1823, and the Articles of Faith of the Forked Deer Association, 1825. To the best of my ability I transcribed these statements and Bro. Jim Duvall has posted them on the Baptist History Homepage. If you're interested in Baptist history, particularly in the western territory of Tennessee, you'll want to take a look at them. These are the two oldest associations in the western area. Baptist laity and ministers migrated from that area into other parts, especially south and west, and so they figure into Baptist history in other areas as well.

Click on the highlighted links above to go to the statements.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Biblical womanhood?

Among my random links post on Monday there was one to a Today show interview with Rachel Held Evans, who has lived and written about a year of "biblical womanhood". Whenever I post up random links, I put a disclaimer with it. But I just can't help commenting about this one. There are many things that could be said. So have already said more, and better. 

Rachel Held Evans wants people to think that she made a serious attempt at living a year of "biblical womanhood" and that it just won't work. Her entire point is to ridicule and set up shop against conservative ideas of biblical womanhood. Many may fall for it. But in the end, a close examination shows that she is the one who looks silly. Pulling Bible out of context for her own ends -- who can believe this was a biblically serious event? See her perched up on a gable roof like a squirrel doing penitence? Because she found some verse about someone -- she couldn't figure out whom -- dwelling in the corner of a housetop. Puh-leeze! And the computerized baby was a really neat trick. Bible says something about young women bearing children? Just run on down to Toys R Us get you a "Real Care Baby. Why not get twins?

Here are two responses by other women, one a book review and the other a musing of her year of womanhood. Also a few thoughts from Doug Wilson.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood Review by Kathy Keller
My year of biblical womanhood by Kim Shay
Rachel on the roof by Douglas Wilson

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pulling down strong holds: Systematic theology

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) – II Corinthians 10:4

One strong hold that must constantly be pulled down is doctrinal error. Sadly, sometimes our own doctrinal error becomes our own strong hold! A strong hold is a fortress or strong fortification. (Un)Spiritual strong holds are strong fortifications which oppose and exalt themselves against the truth of the cause of Christ. A strong hold that is both a creeping error and insidious enemy is “theological systems”. What appears to be our friend often becomes our foe.

Every time I warn against the errors of systematic theology I receive a strong push-back against that warning. Please hang to your hats until I have my say! Let me first define what I mean by “systematic theology” and then address the problem itself. Systematic theology as a discipline formulates or arranges a rational account of the parts of biblical teaching into an orderly whole. Systematic theology as study takes all the information about a subject and organizes it into a system. For example, the entire Bible's teaching about the church forms a system of doctrine or teaching called ecclesiology. The entire Bible's teaching about angels forms a system of doctrine or teaching called angelology. And so on. Now what could be wrong with that? Surely the Bible is not a contradictory mass of random texts, but a congruent whole of consistent thought.

First, notice that systematic theology is a work of man rather than a work of God. A cursory comparison of Systematic Theology: an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem or Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof quickly reveals they do not look anything like the Bible! The Bible is God revealing to man; systematic theology is man trying to understand what God wrote. So far, so good. The difficulty lies ahead. Often the Bible student falls for the error that systematic theology is some kind of body of revealed truth. Nay! God forbid! The Bible is the body of revealed truth. We begin to understand that the underlying problem is not systematic theology in and of itself, but man and his use of it.

Second, learn that systematic theology is not some body of truth but a task performed by the Bible student in developing an understanding of God’s revealed truth. It is a task that is never finished! This task is ongoing; our views must constantly be updated by the word of God. We do not know it all, so we are continually learning. Just when we think we have it all figured out, something in the Bible twists out of shape the nice neat organization we had formulated to keep all things in order. Let the Bible do the twisting. Don’t fight for your system; believe the Bible. May our walls of error fall down flat.

Third, know that the task is your task. The goal of Bible study is to find the intended meaning of the author and take it at face value -- not wrest it to fit our theological systems or some present-day standard. Upon professing faith, most of us were handed a theological system within which to work. First joined a Reformed Church? You start with Calvinism as your system. Saved and baptized at a Free Will Baptist Church? You begin with Arminian undergirding. These variants are kinds of “systems within systems”. Within the overall category of soteriology (systematic theology regarding salvation) one may fall in these major camps or in between or outside of them. Regardless of background, the new believer usually begins Bible study by trying to interpret within and fit everything into the theological system he or she inherited. But our beliefs must be our beliefs and not those handed to us. One of the greatest deficiencies of systematic theology is that one borrows and holds it rather than owns it.

Fourth, be warned that our systems are often our undoing in understanding or not understanding the Bible. We must learn to come to the Bible text for that text to speak to us, rather than conforming the text to fit our presuppositional system. Many “systems within systems” become our strong holds of defense of what we believe. Everything in the Bible must fit neatly in its place within the system. Something else cannot be true, because it does not fit the system. Well that sounds right, because the Bible does not contradict itself! Yes, we can rightly believe that the Bible does not contradict itself. That does not mean the Bible cannot contradict our system. Remember, God wrote the Bible. You developed your system (or had it handed to you). Only one is inspired and without error.

There are many strong holds, theological systems developed as logical systems for the depository of truth. Calvinism, Arminianism, Dispensationalism, Amillennialism, Landmarkism, Universalism. One of the most brazen systems I have ever seen is that of "Conditional Time Salvation". It is a subset of Calvinism under the broader system of soteriology. It posits two salvations, one eternal and one in time. Eternal salvation is unconditional and without reference to man, carried out by God unknowingly. Time Salvation is conditional and entered in to by man of his own will, and includes all passages of scripture associating repentance and belief with salvation. Under this system, all sorts of Christ-rejecting unbelievers can unknowingly have eternal salvation and enjoy the felicity of glory in heaven. To the “true believer” (in it), it becomes almost unassailable in its strength against all texts of scripture to the contrary. We proudly lean back and puff out our chests. We could believe no such thing. But this is just one example. The "two wine theory" is another such system. Start with belief that there are two wines and good is always grape juice and bad is always fermented -- and you'll always see that everywhere you look. Start with the Bible and you just might be surprised. One’s own system never looks as unscriptural as the systems of others, but it just may be.

Finally, know that we don't know everything and don't have to know everything. If we don't know what a particular book or text or  verse or word means, there is no ultimatum to make it mean something that fits neatly into our system. It is OK to say, "I don't know what this means, or how it fits in with the rest of what I believe." Just leave it alone until you receive more light. We're not trying to win a debate, but trying to understand and believe the Word of God! One may like for everything to come in nice neat packages, but God is His wisdom and sovereignty did not package the Bible that way. Perhaps there is a reason.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Feet washing and supper

John 13:1-17 1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; 3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

In two previous feet-related texts I investigated from a more devotional nature. In John's account of Jesus washing His disciples' feet, I'd like to consider the timing of the feet washing. It is fairly common, perhaps nearly universal, among old-timey Baptists that observe washing the saints' feet in connection with the Lord's Supper to have the supper first and the feet washing last. I knew one Faithway Baptist minister who believed the feet washing occurred first but with deference followed the practice of his churches in observing it last. It is my conviction that the washing of the saints' feet precedes the bread and wine both chronologically and logically.

Chronologically. Some few writers, who appear determined to distance feet washing from communion, argue that the Jesus washing the disciples' feet does not occur on the same night as the Lord's Supper. While there may be some wondering, the full context of John 13 places the timing together. In his Harmony of the Gospels, A. T. Robertson writes, "It is not worth while to maintain that John in chapter 13 alludes to a different meal on a different occasion. The points of contact with the Synoptics are too sharp and clear, such as the sop given to Judas." (p. 281) Others remark that the feet washing occurred during the midst of the supper and should be thus translated (e.g. "so He got up from supper," HCSB). Because the King James and other English texts state "supper being ended," many consider the incident occurring after the institution of the Lord's Supper. While one cannot erase all doubts, there is a simple explanation that fits the text and harmonizes with the disciples singing an hymn and departing after the Lord's Supper. This is that the supper that was ended was the Passover supper, from whence Jesus constituted the New Testament supper of His body and blood. This fits theologically as well, for this was an ending of the old and installation of the new.

Logically. Not only does the actual incident precede the institution of the Lord's Supper chronologically, the symbols of its nature also logically precede it. Jesus, the Son of the Father in heaven, laid aside his beauty, glory and power, took on human flesh, and came to serve rather than be served. The ultimate end of that service was His death, giving His life and blood a ransom on the cross. He first laid aside His glory of deity and became man in the flesh, then offered His life. This is pictured vividly in the feet washing incident, as He lays His garments by and girds Himself with a towel and washes His disciples. One precedes the other, and how much fuller the lesson of these glorious symbols when they follow the order of Christ's mission!

Theologically and historically the incarnation precedes the crucifixion. Just as surely the symbols should agree with this fact.

Jesus washing His disciples' feet provided them (and us) an example to go and do likewise. It also paints a beautiful picture of a sovereign Lord who could not stoop too low to serve His people, but stepped out of heaven's glory fashioned as a man to serve, to be nailed to a cross, to give His life a ransom.

O how happy are they,
Who the Savior obey,
And whose treasure is laid up above!
Tongue can never express
The sweet comfort and peace
Of a soul in its earliest love.
--From "True Happiness" by Charles Wesley

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Six years later: Interview with Matthew Pinson on The Washing of the Saints' Feet

In 2006 Matthew Pinson published his book The Washing of the Saints' Feet. After its publication, I purchased the book, read it, reviewed it, and recommended it. Six years later I still recommend it. Six years later the author has agreed to the following interview. I hope you will find it interesting. J. Matthew Pinson is a Free Will Baptist minister & educator, and president of Welch College in Nashville, Tennessee.

R. L. Vaughn: Brother Pinson, one of your reasons for writing the book was to re-energize the Free Will Baptists' vision of washing the saints' feet. Why did you feel the vision needed re-energizing, and do you feel the book has helped accomplish that goal?

Matthew Pinson: Free Will Baptists are not isolated from the wider evangelical lack of attention to ecclesiology. Like other evangelicals, we have drunk in our fair share of consumer values and pragmatism in our attempt to grow our churches--concerned more about what will attract people than about the sufficiency of the new covenant means of grace. However, a younger generation is becoming more interested in ecclesiology, as it is in biblical theology and the Christian tradition. There is more of an interest in what Timothy George has referred to as "renewal through retrieval." Younger Free Will Baptists are not alone in this. But part of what is involved when younger Free Will Baptists engage in renewal through retrieval is the retrieval of the washing of the saints' feet. Most of the people I get emails from who have benefited from my book, used it for church Bible studies, etc., have been younger, well-educated Free Will Baptist pastors, youth ministers, etc. As we move forward, this will no doubt have the effect of helping to re-energize the vision for the rite of washing the saints' feet.

R. L. Vaughn: You also hoped that the book would help to offer that vision of washing feet to the wider Christian family. Have you seen or heard of any response of such an accomplishment?
Matthew PinsonI don't really have any knowledge of how the book has been received outside Free Will Baptists. You reviewed it, as did another feet-washing friendly Baptist, Robert Gardner, a historian at Mercer University. He gave it a positive review in Baptist History and Heritage. It was also reviewed positively in a Mennonite academic journal--I think the Conrad Grebel Review, which I think is published in Canada. It seems that there was also an Anabaptist reviewer in Europe that gave it a good review. This is all I know about its reception outside Free Will Baptist circles.

R. L. Vaughn: Have any of your views about feet washing changed since the publication of the book? If so, in what way?
Matthew Pinson: None of my main views have changed. However, I continue to develop and broaden my understanding of the concept of "ordinances" in Free Church life, especially in Baptist life. I am becoming convinced that, in Baptist life, the word and concept of "ordinance" gradually morphed from talking about simply a God-ordained church practice to being a Baptist synonym for "sacrament." This development made the subsequent jettisoning of the washing of feet by the myriad Baptists (Arminian and Calvinist alike) who practiced the rite an easier development--they simply parroted much of the sacramental language and categories of the wider non-Baptist Reformed movement, just without the deeper sacramental theology. Thus the "two sacraments" of the Magisterial Reformation became the "two ordinances" of many Baptists as they moved into modernity. This may not have happened as much if Baptists had retained the earlier usage of the concept of "ordinance" simply to mean a God-ordained Christian practice, rather than using it as a synonym for "non-sacramental sacraments." This does not mean, of course, that early Baptists did not use sacramental language (and we all know that all sorts of ritual ordinances were more important to early Baptists in England and America than they are now--rather than just being "tacked on" like they are now), even though it would still be seen as very "non-sacramental" to Reformed, Lutheran, or Anglican communicants. 

R. L. Vaughn: You included six songs in your book on feet washing. This seems unique in comparison to many such treatises. What motivated you to include these songs? Are songs on washing the saints' feet an important part of Free Will Baptist worship?

Matthew Pinson: My interest in the Christian tradition in general and the Free Will Baptist and larger Baptist traditions in particular, together with my musical interests, have fueled a fascination with the way Christians prior to recent times utilized song to inculcate doctrine. They saw themselves as fulfilling the command from Col. 3:16 about letting the word of Christ dwell in his people richly as they teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. The Baptists in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries led the way in the development of extra-canonical hymnody (as opposed to exclusive psalmody). But, as some research I've been doing on the English General Baptist Joseph Wright and the English Particular Baptist Benjamin Keach (both seventeenth century) has shown, they were very intent on fulfilling the command in Col. 3:16. The main reason for hymnody, as they saw it, was to teach doctrine. They would have been completely mystified by the shallowness and non-doctrinal nature of much of our evangelical church music of late. It was obvious to these people, and to most of our Baptist forebears, that the practices of the church, including things like baptism, the Lord's supper, and feet washing, should be sung about by the people of God. Yet this seems so foreign to our time.  Believing as I do in the need to renew the church by the retrieval of Christian song which fulfills the dictates of Col. 3:16, and believing that good theology is always doxological, and given that what I am writing about in this book is itself a worship practice, I thought it was fitting to publish these songs. The music to one of the songs was even originally written for the book by my friend Dr. James Stevens, chair of the Music department at Welch College.

R. L. Vaughn: Were there any objections to your proposal that feet washing symbolizes resurrection, and if so, how would you answer those objections?
Matthew Pinson: I can't really remember, but it does seem that there were a few people that balked at that. If I were writing the book now, I would probably clarify a little more that it is not that the washing of feet necessarily directly represents the resurrection of Christ. Rather, it represents sanctification--which is referred to in Scripture (Rom. 6) as resurrection to new life (our identification with Christ in his resurrection), whereas justification is referred to as being planted together with Christ in his death (our identification with Christ in his resurrection). The trouble I see is that the Lord's supper doesn't seem to have a referent to sanctification (the horizontal) as it does to Christ's work an its appropriation in justification (the vertical). My use of the categories of identification with Christ in his death (justification) and my identification with Christ in new resurrection life (sanctification) should not be abstracted from the vertical/horizontal and first great commandment/second great commandment categories. I simply believe that the Lord's Supper more naturally symbolizes our identification with Christ's death (justification), our vertical relationship with God, and the first great commandment, whereas it doesn't directly picture our sanctification (Rom. 6--resurrection life), the horizontal outworking of our relationship with God, and the second great commandment. 

R. L. Vaughn: What, if anything, might you do differently if you were writing the book today?

Matthew Pinson: The things I mentioned above.

R. L. Vaughn: Is there anything you would like to add that I forgot to ask?

Matthew Pinson: No. Thank you so much for the opportunity to discuss this book.

R. L. Vaughn: Thank you so much for giving of your time for this interview, and the discussion of your book and the subject of washing the saints' feet.


Matt Pinson speaks on "The Washing of the Saints Feet" from John 13

Book review by Pieter Post
Book review by Robert Gardner