Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 in (brief) review

Links to a few of the 300-something posts this past year:

A Baker's Dozen
What say ye?
To respect
New book, available in July
A tree's story
Every Church a Seminary
Restoring Integrity in Baptist Churches: a Review
Restoring Integrity: our view of God
Latin, Greek and Hebrew
The troubles of Job
The Holy Kiss
The Relationship of Christians and Government
Proorizo in the King James Bible
My word shall not return void

Time, with an unwearied hand,
Pushes round the seasons past,
And in life's frail glass, the sand
Sinks apace, not long to last:
Many, well as you or I,
Who last year assembled thus;
In their silent graves now lie,
Graves will open soon for us!

By John Newton

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tending towards innovation?

I first heard the word "McDonaldization" several years ago when my son mentioned in some context I don't remember. Something he was reading or studying in college, I think.

"McDonaldization" is a term used by sociologist George Ritzer in his book The McDonaldization of Society (1995). He describes it as the process by which a society takes on the characteristics of a fast-food restaurant...Predictability – standardized and uniform services. "Predictability" means that no matter where a person goes, they will receive the same service and receive the same product every time when interacting with the McDonaldized organization. This also applies to the workers in those organizations. Their task are highly repetitive, highly routine, and predictable...The predictability of such places is also ensured; the customer can assume that the quality, taste, price, quickness, and variety will remain the same in every single restaurant in a chain. The ways in which the food is prepared, the products used to make the meals, and the amount of a product one is given are universal...

While predictability and standardization have certain advantages in certain contexts, are we moving toward a society where all things should be predictable and standardized and all people should think the same things? McDonaldization means that no customers of McDonalds (or any McDonaldized should expect anything else than standard fare. It also means that McDonaldized employees should not show any tendency towards innovation or taking initiative.

At times we must overcome McDonalization -- and tend towards innovation and initiative.

This made me think of story (probably apocryphal) that I posted last year. An elderly couple went to breakfast at a restaurant where the "Seniors' Special" was two eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast for $1.99. The husband ordered the special but his wife did not want the eggs. The problem was -- without the eggs, she would not be having the special, so the waitress was going to charge $2.49 cents for ordering a la carte. When the customer found out the waitress was serious, she ordered the special. "How do you want your eggs?" the waitress asked. "Raw and in the shell," the woman replied. She took the two eggs home.

Or how about the college student who couldn't get a grilled chicken salad at the college cafe. She ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with extra lettuce. She saved the buns for her dog, cut up the chicken and voila -- grilled chicken salad!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Church history...

"Church history is, like all other history, an account of what somebody sees, and the account becomes at most a conscientious interpretation. In spite of all effort, the historian must write as he sees with the facts which are at his command." -- Buell H Kazee in The Problem of Baptism in History, 1965, p. 97

Sunday, December 28, 2008

84 percent

An interesting tidbit -- Associated Press says that Gallup polls from 1994 to 2005 show that 84 percent of non-Christians say they celebrate Christmas.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the famous English preacher of the last century, wrote, "We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas ... we find no scriptural word whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and consequently, its observance is a superstition, because (it's) not of divine authority ..." (Quoted from Metropolitan Pulpit Series, Pilgrim Publications: Pasadena, Texas, 1871, p. 1026).

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sovereign Ruler of the skies

Sovereign Ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise,
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at thy command:

Times of sickness, times of health,
Times of penury and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief,
Times of triumph and relief.

Plagues and deaths around us fly,
Till He bids we cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.”

Sovereign Ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise,
All my times are in thy hand,
All of events at thy command.

His decree who formed the earth
Fixed my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time
All appointed were by him.

He that formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Ordered by his wise decree.

Times of sickness, times of health,
Times of penury and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief,
Times of triumph and relief;

Times the tempter’s power to prove,
Times to test the Savior’s love;
All must come, and last, and end
As shall please my heavenly friend.

Plagues and death around me fly;
Till he bids, I cannot die.
Nor a single shaft can hit,
Till the love of God sees fit.

John Ryland (1753-1825),

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Old Baptist quotes (5)

"Our Lord took a towel and girded himself and washed their feet, ay, washed the traitor's feet, and gently handled that heel which had been lifted up against him; washing from it the dust gathered in its secret walk upon the traitor's errand." -- Charles Spurgeon, sermon The Teaching of the Foot-Washing, Oct. 12, 1879

"In the world they criticize: 'Do you see that spot? What a terrible walk that man must have had this morning—-look at his feet! He has been very much in the mire, as you can see, for there are the traces upon him.' That is the world’s way. Christ’s way is very different. He says nothing but takes the basin and begins to wash away the stain." -- Charles Spurgeon, sermon The Teaching of the Foot-Washing, Oct. 12, 1879

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More on patterns

Thoughts on the subject from three different sources, and from varying perspectives:

"Those who embrace the descriptive hermeneutic argue that the church today should observe these descriptive passages for at least three reasons."
1. "Since they are found in Scripture, they must be biblical."
2. "...the Bible is our sole guide in matters of both faith and practice." If we can trust Scripture for what we believe (orthodoxy), we can trust Scripture for what we practice (orthopraxy).
3. "...the early church set a historical precedent for all future congregations. Thus, all we need to know about church ministry is found in the Bible."
-- From Doing Church: a Biblical Guide for Leading Ministries through Change, Aubrey Malphurs, Kregel Publications (much of this book can be viewed a Google Books), pp. 73-74

On the Baptist Board a few years back, Scott Ransom summarized some class notes he took in a moral theology class. According to him (and the teacher) a few guiding hermeneutical principles for determining the scope of biblical commands were:
a. it is addressed to an enduring audience
b. it is based on a permanent relationship
c. it is repeated, especially transculturally
d. it is supported by prescriptive, and not merely descriptive, passages
e. it is supported without abusing its literary genre
f. it is taught as principle, not merely a manifestation of a principle.

"There are two main points that they made that I found compelling. One is that if you make New Testament patterns descriptive, and therefore non-authoritative, we lose any basis for ecclesiology as a whole. This is because there are very few "positive commands" to us with regard to church practice. Almost all of our theology of church is based upon descriptive passages rather than positive commands. Ecclesiological issues are issues that deal with things like how often we meet, when we meet, what we do when we meet, who may meet, how often we partake of the Lord's Table, who may partake, who the leaders are, that we should even have leaders. They have as their basis New Testament patterns rather than New Testament commands. If we make New Testament patterns optional and descriptive, rather than binding, we are left to pick and choose which patterns we want to hold and which ones we would rather ignore. Is this acceptable? It is if New Testament patterns are descriptive. It is not if they are meant to be prescriptive.

"Paul told Titus to appoint elders in Crete. He told Timothy what elders should be like. He lays down ground rules for how elders should function. But he never actually states in positive command form that all churches must have elders. [or that all elders must meet these standards.]

"even more compelling argument for New Testament patterns being prescriptive rather than descriptive is Paul's use of the word 'traditions.' In the NIV most of the instances where Paul uses this word has been translated 'teachings' but in fact the actual word is traditions (paradosis). II Thessalonians 2:15, is a perfect example of such an instance. In this passage Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to hold to his traditions whether by word of mouth, or letter. In I Corinthians 11:2 Paul praises the Corinthians for holding to his traditions just as he passed them on to them. Later in the passage he rebukes them for altering the directives he passed on to them for how they participated in the Lord's Table. That they had altered these directions in their practice was condemned.

"It seems that Paul not only imprinted the churches he planted with doctrine, but also with a model or example of practice to follow. Paul refers to himself, how he lived, and what he did as a model for churches to follow. Paul praised the church in Thessalonica for imitating the churches in Judea (I Thes. 2:14). The Thessalonians were so faithful in upholding this model that they themselves became a model to other churches (I Thes. 1:7). To the church in Philippi Paul exhorts them to put into practice everything they have learned, received, heard, or seen in him. In other words, if Paul set up the church to meet and operate in a certain way, the churches should not feel they had any right to modify this practice. Instead they strived to uphold the patterns they received, and they were commended for success and rebuked for failure."
-- Maintaining passionate conviction without causing division by Eric Holter, from paragraph "Toward a House Church Theology"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Book review - Materials toward a history

Allen Mickle has written a review of my book Materials Toward a History of Feet Washing Among the Baptists. It is found on his blog Working out Salvation with Fear and Trembling at the above link.

Allen is a PhD student at Leiden University in the area of 18th century Baptist historical theology.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Bible and Baptist Identity

On the blog Between the Times, Nathan Finn has written on The Bible and Baptist Identity. Nathan is a Southern Baptist and writes directly to Southern Baptists, but says a lot of things that are generally applicable to any Baptists who are a people of the book.

"...we must be willing to make the case for our positions from that Scripture rather than our own opinions, popular sentiment, history, the teachings of theologians, or even confessions of faith. To say it another way, we must be a people of the book as we debate our Baptist identity."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Clark quotes

In a review of God and Evil Darrin R. Brooker wrote, "God and Evil...sets forth the only coherent and consistent answer to the problem [of evil]." Earlier he wrote, "Quite simply, the problem only exists where there is an errant view of the character of God."

"The term will is ambiguous. The Ten Commandments are God's preceptive will. They command men to do this and restrain from that. They say what ought to be done; but they neither state nor cause what is done. God's decretive will, however, as contrasted with his precepts, causes every event. It would be conducive to clarity if the term will were not applied to the precepts. Call the requirements of morality commands, precepts, or laws; and reserve the term will for the divine decree. These are two different things, and what looks like an opposition between them is not a self-contradiction. The Jews ought not to have demanded Christ's crucifixion. It was contrary to the moral law. But God decreed Christ's death from the foundation of the world."

"Free will is not the basis of responsibility. In the first place, and at a more superficial level, the basis of responsibility is knowledge." p. 33 (but also the headship of Adam)

"In the theological literature, free agency -- or natural liberty -- means that the will is not determined by physical or physiological factors. But free agency is not free will. Free will means that there is no determining factor operating on the will, not even God. Free will means that either of two incompatible actions are equally possible. Free agency goes with the view that all choices are inevitable." p. 31

"Free will has been defined as the equal ability, under given circumstances, to choose either of two courses of action." p. 15 " faced with incompatible courses of action is as able to choose any one as well as any other."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Little Debbie again

Back in October 2007 I posted on how Little Debbie snack cakes had risen in price from .25¢ to .35¢


Bank and car company failures are no real indication of the trouble we're in. A lot of that is probably created by the government, unions, and their own ineptitude. But when Little Debbie snack cakes double in cost in little more than a year, we know the economy is in trouble! Yes, that's right. Take notice. You'll be paying .50¢ soon if you're not already.

Mozilla Firefox

Do any of you readers use Mozilla Firefox? If so, do you ever have any problems reading my blog? I have recently tried Firefox, and have noticed some page view issues.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Saints of God preserved by the Grace of God

A few things that convince me that saints of God are preserved by the Grace of God:

1. The Power of God, which is the greatest power (John 10:28-29; I Peter 1:5; Jude 24)
2. The Love of God, which is beyond measure (Rom. 8:28; John 3:16; Eph. 3:18.19)
3. The Immutability of God - He will never change; not His love; not His power; etc. (e.g. Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8)
4. The Sufficiency of the shed Blood of Christ (I John 1:7; Rev. 1:5; John 1:29)
5. The Guarantee (Earnest) of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30; II Cor. 1:22)
6. The Intercession of Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34)
7. The Predestination of God (Eph. 1:11; Rom. 8:29-39)

There is a song I like that always make me think of preservation by the Grace of God -
No Vacant Seats in Heaven by Mrs. J. B. Edwards (found in The Harp of Ages). Here is the first verse and chorus:

Our hearts are filled with sorrow,
When Jesus calls to claim His own;
A seat is then left vacant,
Yes, vacant in our earthly home.

No vacant seats in Heaven -
No vacant seats around God's throne;
Up there 'tis joy and gladness,
Oh, gloryland, sweet heavenly home.

There will be no vacant seat in Heaven. If God has prepared a seat there, it will be filled not vacant. If it is filled, it will never become vacant at some future time, either.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Incorrect Christmas

The politically-correct God-can’t-do-anything-without-man’s permission version of Luke 1:26-35

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel went to the city of Nazareth in Galilee,
27 To see a young girl who was engaged to be married to Joseph, a descendant of King David. The girl’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel appeared to her saying, “Hi, there. I hope I didn’t frighten you. The Lord has a proposition he’d like for you to consider.”
29 And Mary wondered just what might be going on.
30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. God likes you very much.”
31 “Please think about it and then let us know whether you agree; God is hoping that you would be the one to give birth to the Messiah, his son who will be named Jesus.”
32 “This would be really good if you are willing to do this, for Jesus is going to be great and called the Son of God.”
33 “And he will reign over the house of Jacob (if they are willing, of course), and his kingdom will last forever (if everybody is okay with that).
34 Then Mary said, “If I agree to this, how will it happen?”
35 And the angel answered and said to Mary, “Well, if you are willing to be a participant who agrees to all this, then (and only then) the Holy Spirit’s power will cause you to become pregnant. Therefore the child you give birth to will be called God’s son.”

Monday, December 15, 2008

Proorizo in the King James Bible

A Critique of Joseph R. Holder’s King James Translation of προορίζω [proorizo] Versus Other Contemporary Translations.

The full text of Elder Holder’s essay/word study can be read
HERE. He inspects the six uses of the word προορίζω [proorizo] in the Greek New Testament and the corresponding translations of it in the King James Bible. The word study is designed to take effect on those of us who love and use the King James Bible – the particular effect being to reject the idea of God’s predestination of things. Brother Holder notes that when people are referenced in four uses of proorizo, the KJB uses predestinate. When “associated with impersonal events” the translators use different English words rather than predestinate.

We can agree on:
1. In Romans 8:29, 30 and Ephesians 1:5, 11 the KJB uses predestinate/d; in Acts 4:28 and I Cor. 2:7 determined before and ordained before are used.
2. The King James translation is accurate.

It may seem, those propositions granted, that Elder Holder’s case is proven. It may seem -- but not so fast. Let us look at the whole picture. In my opinion, this study contains some errors in logic. The first few I will pass over briefly then move on toward more weighty matters.

It is a linguistic fallacy that two different English words cannot mean the same thing. There are English words that have the same or similar meaning, semantic overlap, etc. Of itself, the fact that different English words are used in different verses proves little. Will we take the position that every usage of two different words in the KJB must mean two completely different things? If we believe this “different words principle” is valid, let us apply it consistently. For example, always omit the word “love” from any and all preached or written references to I Corinthians chapter 13. “Love” is found nowhere in that chapter in the KJB.

Next is an underlying ad hominem fallacy that implies guilt by association. “Predestinate” is used in the ESV and NASB where it is not in the KJB. Then the Christian who references predestination in Acts 4:28 or I Cor. 2:7 is associated with these contemporary translations. Yet some Christians used “predestinate” to refer to things long before any of these modern translations existed. They evidently didn’t get the idea there.

And Elder Holder makes the mistake of attributing his conclusion – avoiding any implication of attributing to God the acts of those who crucified Jesus – as the reason the King James translators made particular word choices. This is an assumption at best. It would be interesting to investigate the beliefs of the King James translators regarding predestination.

But now I pass on to Elder Holder’s conclusion. For the sake of argument I will try to stick with his terms. But this is more than a disagreement of word choices.

The author defines predestination as causative or controlling when it applies to people and their salvation. But then he asserts that God’s involvement in events/things (particularly the crucifixion; no notice is taken of I Cor. 2:7) is neither causative nor controlling, with no investigation of the actual words in Acts 4:28 in the King James Bible. In the end, Elder Holder rests his case before he makes it.

The false dilemma or the “horns of a dilemma” fallacy. Given his two choices – “Did God effectually take over the minds and actions of otherwise law-abiding civil servants and religious leaders and force them to commit the dreadful acts that they committed against our Lord? Or did God intervene in the evil intents of these men and prevent them from doing far more than they did?” – one might naturally choose the latter. But these are not our only choices. Did God permit the actions of wicked civil servants and let religious zealots commit dreadful acts against our Lord in His determination to “bruise Him,” “put Him to grief” and “make His soul an offering for sin”? Or did He control their actions? Or could it have been one of several other ideas folks might hold? Perhaps a combination of causation, control and/or permission? Or determination of the acts of the wicked without culpability for those acts? Bible students hold more than just the two explanations of this essay.

The false cause or cum hoc, ergo propter hoc (with this therefore because of this). The events surrounding the coming of Christ are taken as examples “of divine limitation rather than divine cause.” But this is an assumption in which the facts prove what one already believes rather than founding the belief. Examples of divine limitation could just as well be examples of divine cause. The facts do not distinguish one from the other. That “Jesus came into the world at a time when Rome governed Judah…” can just as well be cause as limitation. If not, why not? “The timing of the crucifixion the day before a religious holiday…” can just as well be cause as limitation. If not, why not?

So God was merely intervening at intervals to limit what happened to Jesus? Never mind that Jesus came in the fullness of time that God actively determined and accurately prophesied. God determined when and where and by whom Jesus would be born. It was neither accident nor permission that the Spirit overshadowed a particular young virgin in a particular era. God was active in determining the crucifixion, yea, even before the foundation of the world. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him and make His soul an offering for sin. God gave Pilate authority (John 19:11), for without it he had no power against Jesus. God spared not His Son, but delivered Him up for us, Rom. 8:32. God gave Jesus the cup to drink, John 18:11. God awakened the sword against Him, Zech. 13:7. These and other verses contain the language of causation, not permission; action, not passivity.

Now let us inspect what the King James Bible records in Acts 4:28 and I Cor. 2:7.

Ordained before the world. I Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Holder takes no notice of this beyond citing it. A consistent approach would mean that God only permitted Paul to reveal the hidden mysteries and did not actively determine anything before the world began. But God was deliberate in hiding it (Col. 1:26; Eph. 3:9) and active (not passive) in revealing it. And He determined/ordained this to be before the world began. Cf. I Cor. 2:10, God hath revealed.

Determined before. Acts 4:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
Is Acts 4:28 in the language of causation or permission? Notice the King James Bible says the truth = against Jesus, Herod, Pontius Pilate, Gentiles and Israelites were gathered together (passive) to do what? Whatsoever God and God’s counsel determined. This is not permission. God had determined these events. And they are before determined (pre-determined). Notice a parallel passage in Acts 2:22-23. Jesus was delivered how? By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The men of Israel in their acts were wicked. Peter does not pass this off as God merely allowing it to happen. Neither does he charge God with wickedness. There are no words in these verses of God passively permitting the crucifixion or simply prohibiting things from getting out of hand. It is a curious theology indeed in which God predestines the end (eternal glory of His people) but fails to predetermine the means (the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross). The Bible declares that Jesus stood a lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Cf. I Pet. 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8).

In my opinion, Elder Holder fails to make the case. He does not give sufficient reason that the King James Bible translations of proorizo prove God did not predetermine things/events before the foundation of the world. We can for the sake of argument accept Elder Holder’s terms and speak of God predestinating people and determining before things. If this were only a disagreement of word choices, it could be resolved quickly. But one will find that in dropping predestinating and speaking of determining before, Elder Holder and other limited predestinarians still will not agree that God determined beforehand and brought to pass the events of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is not so much in the words that we disagree, but in the theology.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My word shall not return void

“As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isa 55:10-13) KJV

We often think of this as meaning that any time the Word of God is presented it will bring forth results, even if they are not immediate results.

The truth is, however, the passage is telling us that God will keep the promises that He has made to His people.

His Word will not come back to Him without having brought to pass that which God purposed to do when He made promise to His people.

For this reason we should trust God deeply, intensely, and eternally.

-- My Bible And I, June 23, 2008, Jason Skipper at the Pastoral Musings blog (also reprinted in the Voice of Faith, December 2008, p. 3)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holder on marriage

"According to Paul, the husband’s role is not to constantly remind the wife that she must 'submit' to him in all things, regardless of the folly of his present idea. Nor is the wife’s role to pretend or feign submission, all the while working with subtlety to manipulate the husband so that he does what she wants without knowing that he has been orchestrated by her, the proverbial wife-as-neck-to-the-husband-head. Paul rejects both despotism in the husband and deceitful manipulation in the wife. God’s job description demands the highest and noblest of Christian virtue in every aspect of a truly godly marriage. Believers in Christ will seldom in their life have a better opportunity to model Christian virtue than in their marriage." -- Joe Holder in Gospel Gleanings, November 30, 2008 (excerpted by permission)

Friday, December 12, 2008


Monnie Ross, Jr., long-time Rusk County resident, former chair and vice-chair of the East Texas Sacred Harp Singing Convention, beloved husband and father, passed away Thursday, December 11, 2008. Funeral services will be Monday, December 15, at 2:00 p.m. at the Crawford-Crim-Bryan Funeral Home in Henderson. Visitation will be Sunday evening, December 14, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Remember this family in your prayers.

Bart Barber's family and Nicholas Scroggs' family in your prayers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Paul on troop support

"It is conveniently ignored that the only authentic way to best support the troops is to keep them out of dangerous undeclared no-win wars that are politically inspired." - Ron Paul

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Car Csar Bizarre

The current administration and Congress have come up with the bright idea that the U.S. of A. needs a Car Csar. Bad idea in a continously bizarre set of circumstances! This will be just an additional involuntary withdrawal from the American taxpayers' pocket books.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Old Baptist quotes (4)

"We therefore embrace these sacred writings as our only certain and infallible rule both of faith and obedience. All our religious notions, we desire to draw out of these pure and uncorrupted fountains of truth; and endeavor to think, and act agreeably to their direction." -- David Thomas, Virginia Baptist

"I learned about the unscriptural auxiliary, called an 'Association'; I know it is as dangerous as a rattle-snake when unscrupulous men get in charge of them, and they all have a tendency to encourage such men to get them under their control. Almost all of them will enslave their own ministers, usurping God’s authority over His own servants. If they are Fullerites, they well be involved in assigning them their fields of foreign labors; if Old Schoolers, they will be telling them where they had better not go, or else! If one position is worse than the other, preventing them from freely preaching the Gospel 'into all the world,' and 'to every creature,' is surely the worst. Wherever they are, everyone involved in them ought to be vigilant, or do not use them at all." -- (not-so-old Baptist quote) Stanley Phillips in Autobiography of Stanley C. Phillips

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ex lex and prima causa rerum

Ex-lex is Latin for "outside the law". Theologically, God is sometimes spoken of as "ex-lex" because He logically precedes, divinely supercedes and is the giver of law.

"...when the Calvinist spoke of God as the prima causa rerum, he meant by it only that all that takes place takes place in accordance with the divine will." -- Calvin's Doctrine of God, Princeton Theological Review Vol VII, Princeton, NJ: Princeton Theological Seminary, 1909, p. 406

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


"Character counts. In times of adversity and crisis, it counts more than IQ points, instant trivia recall and bloviation skills." -- Michelle Malkin in The Cowardly Character Assassination Of Sarah Palin 7 Nov 2008

"Christian America has rejected much of what scripture teaches because it goes against the cultural norm. We become wise in our own eyes because our logic really makes sense to us. Just like a pilot cannot trust his sense of up, down, left, and right, but instead must trust his instrument panel, we must not trust our own sense of direction." -- Titus24mom on 7 Nov 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Houston Sacred Harp singing

Saturday, December 6th there will be an all-day Sacred Harp Singing in Houston, Texas (d.v.).

Heights Church of Christ
1548 Heights Blvd.
10:00am - 3:00pm
Cooper and Denson Books

If you want to make a full weekend of it, their regular monthly singings will also be that weekend:
Friday, December 5th
529 Euclid St.

Sunday, December 7th
University of Houston
A.D. Bruce Religion Center
Cullen Blvd., Entrance #13

Monday, December 01, 2008

For the poor

When Hagar found the bottle spent,
And wept o'er Ishmael;
A message from the Lord was sent
To guide her to a well.
Gen 21:19

Should not Elijah's cake and cruse,
Convince us at this day,
A gracious God will not refuse,
Provisions by the way?
1 Kings 17:14

His saints and servants shall be fed,
The promise is secure;
"Bread shall be given them," he has said,
"Their water shall be sure."
Isa. 33:16

Repasts far richer they shall prove
Than all earth's dainties are;
'Tis sweet to taste a Savior's love,
Though in the meanest fare.

To JESUS then your trouble bring,
Nor murmur at your lot;
While you art poor, and he is King,
You shall not be forgot.

William Cowper (1731-1800)
Olney Hymns, 1779.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Divine purpose and causality

Speaking of his trials, Job says, "But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him." (Job 23:13-14)

Talking of all God's wondrous works...remembering the "marvellous works that he hath done," the Psalmist writes--

Psalm 105:17 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
Psalm 105:25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.

The brothers of Joseph acted of their own sinful nature. When Joseph says of his brothers "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive," he is clearly talking about the same thing, not two different events. What is the antecedent of "it"? God either meant it or He didn't. Joseph says He did. If any of us say otherwise, we say differently than God's word. The best explanation is neither that God caused their actions nor that He simply knew in advance what they would do. It is that their evil, meant by them as evil, He chose to bring about good. Joseph would not have been in Egypt to deliver the sons of Jacob if they had not sold him in slavery (as well the rest of the chain of events were God's Providence that put him in the exact place at the exact time). God chose that it be so. It would not be some other way.

God is good in His means as well as in His ends. Was the brothers selling Joseph into slavery not part of God's means? Certainly he might have theoretically gotten to Egypt any number of ways. But he did not. Neither does the Bible indicate that God meant that he get there some other way. Did God wait to see what choice the brothers would make and go from there, in time? Or did He purpose from eternity what He would do?

When speaking of God there is always some element that certain things that are wrong for us according to His precepts, are not wrong for God. For example, God (as sovereign and creator) may take life/kill where we may not. Examples of this abound in the Scriptures. And there are a few times God is portrayed as "causing" something that might "seem" sinful (but is not). As Gordon Clark writes, "The Jews ought not to have demanded Christ's crucifixion. It was contrary to the moral law. But God decreed Christ's death from the foundation of the world." Or, attributing David's numbering of Israel to both God and the Devil. Or, for example, the lying of the lying prophets in I Kings 22 is attributed to the will and definitive affirmation of God.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Did God just permit Jesus to be crucified?

"Given the six appearances of this Greek word in the New Testament, there can be no Biblical basis on which to claim that divine predestination is passive, equivalent to divine omniscience, rather than in some way causative or at least controlling. The most literal meaning of the two Greek words that make up this word is “pro,” beforehand, and “orizo,” the Greek root for our English word “horizon.” With this basic concept of the word we may safely view God’s involvement in our salvation as eternal and causative. We may also view His involvement in the events surrounding the crucifixion of our Lord as prohibitive, not causative." -- From Joseph R. Holder's Word Study on Proorizo


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Loud anthems of thanks

This following hymn has been for years a popular one verse song in our Sacred Harp book, with the tune 'Old Hundred'. Here are the rest of the verses.

O come, loud anthems let us sing,
Loud thanks to our almighty King;
For we our voices high should raise,
When our salvation's Rock we praise.

Into His presence let us haste,
To thank Him for His favors past;
To Him address, in joyful songs,
The praise that to His Name belongs.

The depths of earth are in His hand,
Her secret wealth at His command;
The strength of hills that reach the skies,
Subjected to His empire lies.

O let us to His courts repair,
And bow with adoration there;
Down on our knees, devoutly all,
Before the Lord, our Maker, fall.

From Tate and Brady's New Version of the Psalms, 1696.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Lord of harvest

Sing to the Lord of harvest,
Sing songs of love and praise;
With joyful hearts and voices
Your Hallelujahs raise.
By Him the rolling seasons
In fruitful order move;
Sing to the Lord of harvest,
A joyous song of love.

By Him the clouds drop fatness,
The deserts bloom and spring,
The hills leap up in gladness,
The valleys laugh and sing.
He filleth with His fullness
All things with large increase,
He crowns the year with goodness,
With plenty and with peace.

-- John Samuel Bewley Monsell, Hymns of Love and Praise, 2nd edition, 1866

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Pilgrim

The Pilgrim. Heb. xi. 13-16

Amidst ten thousand dangers,
Which everywhere abound,
The pilgrims and the strangers
Alone secure are found;
For on their Lord they’re waiting,
They seek him night and day;
His aid they’re supplicating
In his appointed way.

By Rozzel, 292 in Gadsby's Hymn Book

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tamar and Onan

This will probably be controversial, somewhat of an adult subject, and to some extent a companion to an earlier post.

Genesis 38:6-10 And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.

Onan’s sin is not that traditionally attributed to him ("onanism" is an English term for masturbation). The Old Testament phrase “he went in unto her” clearly denoted sexual intercourse. Onan abused the occasion to enjoy the pleasure of his deceased brother's wife, but disdained his obligation to raise up an heir in his brother's name.

Compare other uses of the phrase:
Gen. 16:4 - And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
Gen. 29:23 - And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.
Gen. 30:4 - And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.
Gen. 38:2 - And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.
(See also Judges 16:1; Ruth 4:13; II Sam. 12:24, 16:22; Ezekiel 23:44)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vanity of the world

The world's esteem is but a bribe,
To buy their peace you sell your own;
The slave of a vain-glorious tribe,
Who hate you while they make you known.

The Joy that vain amusements give,
O! sad conclusion that it brings!
The honey of a crowded hive,
Defended by a thousand stings.

'Tis thus the world rewards the fools
That live upon her treach'rous smiles;
She leads them, blindfold, by her rules,
And ruins all whom she beguiles.

-- From "Vanity of the world" by William Cowper

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Still amazing

"Amazing, isn’t it? How the Lord came to us and paid for every breach, every failure – nailing them to the tree because of His everlasting, unchangeable, unconditional love for His own." -- Leon King, Alaska on the predestinarian listserve, 20 Jan 2008

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

John Newton

Friday, November 21, 2008

Secret Societies

There was a time when many Baptists disapproved of Secret Societies. For example, Old North Baptist Church (formerly called Union) of Nacogdoches, Texas once removed members for joining the Masons, etc. It is the oldest church in Texas now affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. This idea has disappeared among the majority of Baptists (assuming it ever was a majority idea; I don't know). It is still held by Primitive Baptists, Old Regular Baptists and some other Baptist groups. The following writing by W. M. Mitchell unfolds the Primitive Baptist view.

"First—The man of God is thoroughly furnished by the Scriptures unto all good works; and the church of Christ , being complete in Him in doctrine and order, as well as in every spiritual gift, they cannot need the aid of any society formed by man as a help to the beauty and perfection of her organic structure. The church of God is spoken of by inspired writers as the “perfection of beauty,” “the joy of the whole earth,” “the city of the Great King...” It would, therefore, be degrading to the principle and profession of her members for any of them to mar her beauty, or defile their garments by uniting with, or conforming to, any of the institutions, doctrines or commandments of men, not authorized by the Scriptures.

"Second—Christ, the Head of the church, ever taught openly, and in secret said nothing; and He commanded His apostles to proclaim His gospel upon the house-tops or publicly to the world. Secrecy, therefore, is inconsistent with the nature and principle of the Christian religion, and with the character of the organized church as “the light of the world,” or as “a city set on a hill, whose light can not be hid.”—Mat. 5:14 .

Third—”Secrecy” is inconsistent with gospel order: as each member of a secret society takes a solemn oath to keep certain things secret from his brethren in the church who are not members of such society, and the church is thereby deprived of her right to judge of the conduct and order of her members as required in I Cor. 5:12.

"Fourth—Christian and church fellowship is the strongest bond of communion and fellowship that can possibly exist: even requiring, if need be, to forsake father and mother, wife and children, with every earthly tie and interest, to maintain that fellowship that will honor Christ and glorify God in our body and spirit, which belong to God. The relation in the church is so near that the members are said to be “members one of another.”—Rom. 12:5. As such, therefore, they are entitled to the strongest confidence and closest communion—such as no other society can ever claim without usurpation. Whatever may be said as to the good or evil of secret societies, one thing is certain and can not be denied except by infidels: That “he that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved;” and, on the other hand, “He that doeth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God. “—John 3:20.

"Fifth—In uniting with a secret, oath-bound society, a church member takes upon himself, voluntarily, a solemn obligation to do or not to do some unknown thing—which thing is a profound secret from both church and state—and the oath, whatever it binds upon the member, is a voluntary oath, not required by church or state. There are, therefore, certain good reasons for believing that such voluntary oath is in direct violation of the command of Christ to His disciples to “Swear not at all: but let your communication be, Yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. “—Mat. 5:37. No oath of office, nor as a witness is required in the church of Christ but, to the contrary, is positively forbidden to her members; as the bond of union and fellowship is so regulated by principles of honesty and justice, which God has written in the heart of each subject of His gospel kingdom, that to require a further obligation by an oath would be to deny that these holy principles are written in the heart and place the church of Christ on a level, or beneath, a mere human institution.

"Sixth —No member of any gospel church has the right, according to the law of Christ, to become a self-constituted judge of his own conduct, nor of the conduct of any other member. But is has frequently been the case that when one unites with any secret, oath-bound society, and his conduct in that particular is called in question by the church, he generally seeks to shield himself, not by openly telling what he has sworn to do or not to do, but by saying: “There is no harm in it.” And he seems to think the church ought to be satisfied with this simple declaration, and take his judgment and decision in his own case as final. If a church should proceed in this manner in other matters where there are charges and complaints against members, and he satisfied to let the censured member decide his own case, it would destroy everything like gospel discipline and make each member a proper judge of his own case.

"Seventh—Another objection to Primitive Baptists uniting with these secret, oath-bound societies is, from the fact, that while some of them claim to be promoters of morality, benevolence and charity, they carefully guard against all liability to acts of charity by utterly refusing membership to any man who is properly a subject of charitable contributions. Charity is an ever living and abiding principle—being even greater than faith or hope. It is the bond of perfectness in the church, by which all things are to be done. To voluntarily, therefore, bind ourselves by an oath to keep out of our fraternal love and fellowship all proper subjects upon which to manifest and bestow our deeds of charity, would seem to us like a violation of the principles of either morality, benevolence or charity. The poor in spirit whom the Lord Jesus Christ has blessed, and who ate entitled to all the privileges and ordinances of the gospel kingdom, can not obtain membership in any well-regulated Masonic Lodge upon his morality, nor piety, if he is a poor pauper; or if he is blind, or deaf and dumb; or if he has but one arm, or but one leg; or in any way crippled or maimed for life—unable to walk or support himself. He may be a real object of charitable assistance, yet, if we are correctly informed, he would be rejected because of these very things which render him a real and proper subject of charity. Is it right for a Baptist of the Primitive faith and order to take such a solemn obligation to reject such from fellowship? Is it according to any principle of gospel order?

"Eight—is believed by many that when a member of the true church of Christ unites with any of these worldly institutions, that he thereby violates the command of God to “be not conformed to this world.”—Rom. 12:2. When members have thus become ensnared, they can only be relieved by obeying the command of God to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”—2 Cor. 6:17, 18. What a precious promise to erring Christians.

"These institutions certainly are of the world—adapted to the views and business interests of the world; and as the world will hear and love its own, it will foster, nourish, cherish and love any professed Baptist who will be identified with these institutions, better than one who does not, though he may have denied his religious faith to unite with them."
- From "Equal Rights & Secret Societies" by Elder W.M. Mitchell in The Gospel Messenger, March 1882

Thursday, November 20, 2008

God knows everything

God knows everything. He is perfect in knowledge. His understanding is infinite.
1 John 3:19-20 , Job 37:16, Psalms 147:5

Psalms 33:13-15, Proverbs 15:3
Matthew 10:29

God has always known everything that will ever happen.
Acts 15:16-18
Isaiah 46:9-10

The whole plan of the ages and each man's part in it has been known to God from all eternity.
Ephesians 1:9-12 , Isaiah 46:10
Hebrews 4:13

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A man and a fly

The Natural Man

As I was putting together this bulletin, a housefly landed on an article I was copying, walked around a bit, and then flew over to my Bible. I watched as the little creature moved over the page from here to there in "fits and starts." I suppose it was looking for something to eat, some morsel, some crumb to sustain it for its brief existence. It didn't stay long. After moving over just about an entire page and finding nothing to fulfill its hunger, it took wing and went elsewhere. That fly is like natural man. Man, as he is born, has EXACTLY as much ability to understand scripture as that fly. He, in his search to sustain his existence, may happen upon the Bible for a time, he may move across the pages, even stop here and there, but soon will fly away as empty as when he arrived. The feast of fat things that is the Word of God is not food for natural man any more than it is for the fly. It is FOOD, but food for the spiritual man, the man whom God has made alive by the new birth. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Cor. 2:14). "But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (I Cor. 2:9-10). -- By Tim James (This article appeared in the bulletin of Fairmont Grace Church, Sylacauga, AL)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Repentance at the cross

HYMN 106 C. M. Repentance at the cross.

O, if my soul were formed for woe,
How would I vent my sighs!
Repentance should like rivers flow
From both my streaming eyes.

'Twas for my sins my dearest Lord
Hung on the cursed tree,
And groaned away a dying life
For thee, my soul, for thee.

O, how I hate those lusts of mine
That crucified my God!
Those sins that pierced and nailed his flesh
Fast to the fatal wood!

Whilst, with a melting, broken heart,
My murdered Lord I view,
I'll raise revenge against my sins,
And slay the murd'rers too.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II, 1707

Monday, November 17, 2008

Absolute Predestination and Means

"Absolute predestination does not set aside, nor render superfluous the use of preaching, exhortation, etc. We prove from the examples of Christ Himself and His apostles, who all taught and insisted upon the article of predestination, and yet took every opportunity of preaching to sinners and enforced their ministry with proper rebukes and exhortations as occasion required. Though they showed unanswerably that salvation is the free gift of God and lies entirely at His sovereign disposal, that men can of themselves do nothing spiritually good, and that it is God who of His own pleasure works in them both to will and to do, yet they did not neglect to address their auditors as beings possessed of reason and conscience, nor omitted to remind them of their duties as such; but showed them their sin and danger by nature, and laid before them the appointed way and method of salvation as exhibited in the Gospel.

"Our Savior Himself expressly, and in the end, assures us that no man can come to Him except the Father draw him, and yet He says, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor.’ Peter told the Jews that they had fulfilled ‘the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,’ in putting the Messiah to death (Acts 2:21), and yet sharply rebukes them for it. Paul declares, ‘It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,’ and yet exhorts the Corinthians so to run to obtain the prize. He assures us that ‘we know not what to pray for as we ought,’ (Romans 8:26), and yet directs us to ‘pray without ceasing,’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He avers that the foundation or decree of the Lord standeth sure, (2 Timothy 2:19) and yet cautions him who ‘thinks he stands, to take heed lest he fall,’ (1 Corinthians 10:12). James, in like manner says that ‘every good and perfect gift cometh down from above,’ and yet exhorts those who want wisdom to ask of God.

"So, then all these being means whereby the elect are frequently enlightened into the knowledge of Christ, and by which they are, after they have believed through grace, built up in Him, and are means of their perseverance in grace to the end. These are so far from being vain and insignificant that they are highly useful and necessary, and answer many valuable and important ends, without in the least shaking the doctrine of predestination in particular or the analogy of faith in general."
-- Jerome Zanchius- 1516-1590

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Whole congregation a choir

"Sacred Harp...songs turn the whole congregation into a choir, proclaiming their devotion in forthright, wide-open, vibrato-free chords with drones and inner counterpoint that hark back to Renaissance music." -- "Blues From Dylan, and Heartaches From the 1920s" in the Playlist column by John Pareles of the New York Times, October 12, 2008, p. AR26

Friday, November 14, 2008

Free Grace

1 – Ye children of God, by grace in His Son,
Redeemed by His blood, and with Him made one;
This union with wonder and rapture be seen,
Which nothing shall sunder, without or within.

2 – This pardon, this peace, which none can destroy,
This treasure of grace, this heavenly joy.
The worthless may crave it, it always comes free;
The vilest may have it, ‘twas given to me.

3- ‘Tis not for good deeds, good tempers, nor frames;
From grace it proceeds, and all is the Lamb’s;
No goodness, no fitness, expects He from us;
This I can well witness, for none could be worse.

4- Sick sinner, expect no balm but Christ’s blood;
Thine own works reject, the bad and the good;
None ever miscarry that on Him rely,
Though filthy as Mary, Manasseh, or I.

Joseph Hart, #221, Gadsby's Selection of Hymns for Public Worship.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tennessee Baptist Historical Society

The Tennessee Baptist Historical Society now has a web presence. Check out their page by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lost and Found

If a man says he knows he is saved, we may ask him whether or not he ever knew he was lost; and if not, how can he know that he is saved? He might as well say he had been cured when he had never felt sickness.

"Oh beware of trust ill founded;
‘Tis but fancied faith at most---
To be cured before you’re wounded,
To be saved before you’re lost."

There must be a throwing down before there can be a building up; a plucking up (of the weeds) before a planting of good corn (Jeremiah 31:28). So before a man can know the value of the Redeemer he must know he is, or has been in bondage.

By John Gadsby, copied from Shreveport Grace Church Bulletin, June 8, 2008

No longer by the people

The "Governator" of California indicates he wants to be The Terminator of the concept "by the people". He sent a message to California and its Supreme Court that he doesn't believe the people of California have a right to amend their Constitution.

Homosexuals and same-sex marriage advocates justify their argument to the world by framing it in terms of "equal rights". In Connecticut civil unions give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples (without the status of being married). Yet activists there were not satisfied until their civil unions were called "marriage". Such action implies to me that more than the same legal rights is desired.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Latin terms we use

Ad hoc is a Latin term meaning "for this purpose".
Ad hominem is a Latin term meaning "to the man".
Ad infinitum is the Latin for "to infinity."
Amicus curiae is the Latin for "a friend of the court."
Bona Fide means "in good faith."
Caveat Emptor: "Let the buy beware.":
Circa: Approximately. Used with dates, also abbreviated ca.
Confer: Compare. Usually abbreviated cf., often used in footnotes, indicates to compare the present passage or statement with the one referenced.
Cum laude: "With praise."
De facto means "in fact."
De jure means "based in law."
De novo means "anew."
Erratum/errata: Literally, "error/errors," this term in fact refers to the corrections included in a paper or book after it is published to correct minor errors in the text.
Ergo: Therefore. E.g., "Cogito, ergo sum" - I think, therefore I am.
Et al. : Abbreviation of et alia, meaning "and others." For instance, used to indicate an unstated list of contributing authors following the main one or ones.
Et cetera: And so forth. Usually abbreviated etc.
Ex cathedra means "from the [bishop's] chair."
Ex Officio: "by right of office." Often used when someone holds one position by virtue of holding another.
Exempli gratia: "For example." Usually abbreviated to ‘e.g.’ and often confused with ‘i.e.’ Example: "Many real numbers cannot be expressed as a ratio of integers, e.g., the square root of two."
Flagrante Delicto: A legal term used to indicate that a criminal has been caught in the act of committing an offense (cf. corpus delicti). The colloquial “caught red-handed” or “caught in the act” are English equivalents.
Ibid.: This is the term (short for ibidem) used to provide an endnote or footnote citation or reference for a source that was cited in the preceding endnote or footnote. To find the ibid. source, one has to look at the reference right before it, and so ibid. serves a similar purpose to ditto marks.
Id est: Literally, "that is." Usually abbreviated ‘i.e.’ and often confused with ‘e.g.’ Example: "She won the race, i.e., she crossed the finish line first." The decision whether to use ‘i.e.,’ or ‘e.g.’ should be based on whether "that is" or "for example" would be used if written out in the sentence.
In toto: Entirely.
Ipso Facto: "by the fact itself"
In situ means "in place."
Non Sequitur: It does not follow. Often used as a debating term.
Per Diem: "Per day."
Post Mortem: "After death" - an autopsy.
Prima Facie: "On its first appearance," or "by first instance."
Pro Bono: "for the public good." Usually used of free representation by lawyers
Persona non grata is Latin for a person who is not welcome.
Prima facie means on its first appearance.
Pro forma is the Latin for "as a matter of form."
Pro rata is the Latin for "according to the amount calculated."
Pro tempore or pro tem is the Latin for "for the time (being)."
Quod erat demonstrandum (Q.E.D.) is the Latin for "that which was to be demonstrated."
Quod vide: Usually abbreviated q.v., this is a scholarly way of directing the reader to a reference.
Quasi: In some manner or to some degree. Similar to the prefix "semi."
Reductio ad absurdum is the Latin for "reduction to absurdity."
Requiescat in Pace or R.I.P. means "let him rest in peace."
Rigor mortis is the Latin for "stiffness of death."
Sine Qua Non: "Without which it could not be" ("but for"). It refers to an indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient.
Sub poena comes from the Latin for "under punishment." A subpoena is "a command to appear at a certain time and place to give testimony upon a certain matter."
Sui generis is the Latin for "of one's own kind" or "peculiar".
Summa cum laude is the Latin for "with highest praise."
Tabula Rasa is the Latin for "scraped tablet."
Verbatim: Word-for-word. Indicates a precise transmission of a phrase, discussion, or text.
Vice Versa: The other way around.
Videlicet : Usually abbreviated viz., this is translated as "namely."

Based on Wikipedia and other internet resources.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A little Greek and Hebrew

I once wrote an article for the Baptist Waymark titled "What's wrong with the Greek?" I don't remember exactly what all I wrote, but the idea was to urge caution in using the Greek language/New Testament to develop theologies, positions, ideas, etc. At the risk of appearing ignorant, and perhaps even contradictory, I think this is a good maxim to follow -- if you can't find it in the English, it's probably not in the Greek; don't build a theory on it. [If Spanish, French, German, etc. is your native language, place that in the place of "English" in the previous sentence].

Many people recommend using the Greek to get those little nuances and fine points that we might not get in English. And that is not unreasonable. One problem is this -- 98% of us probably don't know enough about the Greek language to get the little "nuances" and "nuggets," and in fact probably confuse ourselves as much as we help ourselves. There are some real Greek language scholars out there, but most of us (including pastors who have studied languages in seminaries and universities) are not really scholars. We know enough to get into trouble, but often not enough to get out of it! A friend on the BaptistBoard once wrote, "I always wince when I hear a preacher 'explain' the Greek or Hebrew because I don't know if he's a dime-store translator or a scholar." Exegetical Fallacies by D. A. Carson should be an eye-opener to anyone who will read it with an open mind. I end by saying that I don't discourage studying and using the Greek language, just urge that we use caution. The same thoughts could be said relative to the Hebrew language as well.

Note: I now remember what I wrote, since I have found it and posted it HERE.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Pray for rulers

I Timothy 2:1-2 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

To whom -- God, though not specifially mentioned by name in verses 1 and 2, is understood as the one to whom we pray.
For whom -- Men in general and leaders in particular.
To what end -- That we Christians may lead a quiet, peaceable, godly honest life.

It is the duty of civil government to preserve peace and quiet, and protect the people that dwell under its rule.
It is the duty of saints to live lawfully and peaceably under the government they are providentially placed.
"The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." (Prov. 21:1) Our prayer acknowledges the sovereignty of God and hopes that He might bring them that are in authority to the knowledge of the truth, or at least so dispose their hearts favorably that God's saints might live peaceably and worship God under their rulership.

But if this does not providentially come to pass, yet we must seek first the kingdom of God.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Altogether Lovely by Mike McInnis

“His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” -- Song of Solomon 5:16

HE is altogether lovely to them:

In HIS person as the SON of GOD. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Because HE first loved us. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Because HE demonstrated that love by the sacrifice of HIMSELF. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14)

Because HE continues a present work in HIS people. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)

Because they see in HIM their only hope of acceptance with the FATHER. “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Rom 5:9-11)

Because HE is coming back to receive HIS own. “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev 22:20)

Excerpt from Grace Gazette Vol. 6 Issue 43, by Michael A. McInnis

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Relationship of Christians and Government


God is sovereign King of Kings
Psalm 47:7 For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.
1 Tim 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Christians are under and uniquely part of God’s Kingdom.
Colossians 1:12-13 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
John 17:15-16 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

God’s Kingdom is spiritual, not of this world.
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Christians are responsible first to God.
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Human government/governments are ordained by God.
Romans 13:1-6 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Details of the relationship between Christians and government

1. Christians ought to obey the law.
Romans 13:1-6 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
2. Christians should pay tribute/taxes.
Matthew 22:17-21 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. [Sometimes we are guilty of wanting the services without having the taxes.]
3. Christians ought to pray for those in authority.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
4. Christians ought to honor those in authority.
1 Peter 2: 17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
5. Christians ought to use freedom to do good, and so lead others to glorify God.
1 Peter 2:11-17 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
6. Christians’ first allegiance is to God. The government's power ends when it restricts freedom to worship God and to proclaim their faith in Jesus.
Acts 4:18-20 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Worthwhile quote

This statement by David Barton is worth thinking about. He said "last night's election was not a destination, but rather one stop on a lifelong journey..."

And in important news...

The new mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky is Lucy Lou, a red & white border collie who has lived her whole life there. She easily outdistanced Toby the Springer Spaniel, Travis the cat, and Higgins the jackass.

New President-elect

Barack Obama is the new president-elect of the United States. The election of the first African-American President is historic, and certainly symbolic of the equality of African-Americans in the United States. Eventually, his being the first African-American President will become the stuff of trivia. His real merit will be judged on how he actually fulfills the role of President based on the U.S. Constitution (Article 2).

We often speak and write in generalities and with technical inaccuracies. Yesterday Barack Obama won the popular vote, easily securing the number of electors necessary to be elected President. In the technical sense he will not be elected President until the electors do so on December 15. This is certainly expected, based on their election by popular vote. He will become President of the United States on January 20, 2009.

I Timothy 2:1-2: I exhort therefore, made for...all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In a little different spirit...

I Timothy 2:1-2: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Bob Barr said

Asked for his response concerning being a spoiler just taking from the main parties, presidential candidate Bob Barr said, "the main parties certainly deserve it." He further pointed out that if you want to waste a vote, then vote Republican or Democrat -- because that guarantees nothing of any substance will change.
(From interview with Rosemary Church of CNN.)

How to vote

On this US election day we can take an issue to help understand how the national parties line up. Today's issue -- dope-smoking.

Socialist Party -- advocates public ownership of all drugs, collects all the dope, redistributes and smokes it according to government policy.
Republican Party -- bans dope-smoking while abusing prescription medication.
Prohibition Party -- do I really have to explain this one?
Libertarian Party -- wants to be left alone, whether to smoke or not smoke dope.
Green Party -- sympathizes with the dope-smoker, but is afraid the smoke will harm the environment.
Democratic Party -- develops programs for the poor to be able to smoke dope at someone else's expense.
Constitution Party -- believes the States should decide whether to smoke or not smoke dope.

Perhaps you are still undecided how to vote. I hope this helps!

Monday, November 03, 2008

A peculiar people

"...what could be odder than the creator of the universe washing people’s feet, telling us we will find riches in poverty, life in death, power in meekness, and that ultimate glory and truth will be hidden from the wisest but revealed to little children? This is indeed an odd kingdom we followers of Christ live in.
"A peculiarity of this kingdom is that God has decided that through us, his church, blind beggars that we are, 'the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.' (Eph. 3:10-11)."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I wonder...

...why Bob Barr should not be the only presidential candidate on the ballot in Texas? Both Republicans and Democrats missed the August 26 deadline to file.

Surely there is some "conspiracy" that favors the two-party system so that the same rules don't apply to them. Shame, shame.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Old Baptist quotes (3)

"Pigmies can minister to the urbane and courteous. Only strong men can brave the destitute nooks, where darkness reigns." -- Walter M. Lee in A Century of Growth in Dodge County, Georgia, 1923, p. 10

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wouldn't make it on American Idol

Sacred Harp singer Matt Wells of Minnesota called our attention to the article Shout and Sing the Good Old Way: A Sacred Harp Story by Kate Kiefer. I enjoyed this thought:

"The singing is startlingly unadorned...While singers do hit the notes according to their parts, and while some have lovely voices, there’s no emphasis on vocal beauty. The strange sound couldn’t survive out of context—most of these voices would get booed off of American Idol in a second." To which Matt added, "we wouldn't have it any other way."

Hope to see some of you at Little Hope tomorrow, Lord willing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Do this for My sake

Because Thou hast said, "Do this for My sake,"
The unleavened bread we gladly partake;
We thirst for the Spirit that flows from above,
And long to inherit Thy fullness of love.

'Tis here we look up and grasp at Thy mind,
'Tis here that we hope Thine image to find;
The means of bestowing Thy gifts we embrace;
But all things are owing to Jesus' grace.

Charles Wesley

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Book preview

Materials Toward a History of Feet Washing among the Baptists is now available. Click on the link above (and then on the book cover on the linked page) to view the first twenty pages of this book in a pdf file.

I posted this awhile back, but it hasn't been working properly until recently. Take a look and get an idea of what the book is like.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Singing at Huntington

Please join us Saturday, November 1st for the Nancy Amelia "Granny" Russell Birthday Sacred Harp Singing. It will be held (d.v.) at the Little Hope Primitive Baptist Church on FM 1669 just outside Huntington, Texas.

We will start at 10:00 a.m. and sing until around 3:00 p.m., using the 2006 Sacred Harp, Cooper Revision. For more information call: Burl Russell, (936) 624-2173.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Teach me the measure of my days

Anne Steele (1716-1778) from the poem "When I Resolved to Watch My Thoughts"

Almighty Maker of my frame!
Teach me the measure of my days,
Teach me to know how frail I am,
And spend the remnant in Thy praise.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Truth about birth control pills

A sermon and statements by Thomas White, Vice President of Student Affairs at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, has made a media "splash". The area's Channel 8 biasedly reports it this way: Baptist preacher says birth control is 'murder'. WFAA's headline doesn't contribute to reasoned discussion of the matter. Thomas White did not say that birth-control is murder. He specifically referenced a particular effect of the birth-control pill, which prevents a fertilized egg (a human life if life begins at conception) from attaching to the uterine wall, and says that is murder. This is a little mentioned effect of the pill. Since it is not known how often the pill works in this manner, "most health centers will not cite the thinning of the endometrial lining as a function of the pill."

Dr. J. C. Willke writes, "So the widely used contraceptive pills have three functions, any one of which is said to 'prevent' pregnancy. Only two of the functions, however, actually do prevent pregnancy: (1) the barrier mechanism of the mucous plug at the cervix, (2) the suppression of ovulation. The third function, however, does not really prevent pregnancy, but rather produces a micro-abortion at one week of life...In 97 or 98% of the time, the effect is one of preventing pregnancy. But, in perhaps two or more percent of the time, the effect is abortifacient. There is no way in the normal clinical practice of obstetrics of knowing which is happening, or when."
-- From Life Issue Institute

Friday, October 24, 2008

The New Testament Church

There is an alarming trend among modern Baptists to relegate the practices of the New Testament Church as being merely a matter of expediency (whatever is the best means of achieving an end). This seems to entrench the idea that the church can and must be modified to fit the times or the "culture" (the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of racial, religious amd/or social groups).

But Christian culture is created in Christ, and prescribed in the New Testament. Times change and cultures differ, but Christian culture emanates from Christ and exists independently from social times and cultures. Because of change, the ways that Christians and churches relate to cultures in different places and at different times may change according to those times and places. But the culture of gathered believers -- the church -- exists outside of and independently from world governments, cultures & standards, is universal and permanent, and has neither command to change nor necessity to conform.

Romans 12:2 - And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 Corinthians 10:32 - Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

1 Corinthians 7:17 ...And so ordain I in all churches. 1 Corinthians 14:33 in all churches of the saints.

1 Corinthians 9: 19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Scriptures and authority

"I believe the holy Scriptures to be the word of God, and have the only authority to bind the conscience to the obedience of all therein contained, and are the all sufficient rule, by the Spirit of God to guide a man in all his obedience both to God and man." -- John Spilsbury, 1662

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The holy kiss

The following is an interesting commentary on the holy kiss, excerpted out of From Holy Kiss to Handshake by Robert Meyers. It touches on several issues -- apostolic practice as normative, patternism, Christian love, Bible translations, literal interpretation, etc. Enjoy (and read the entire article at the link below).

The kiss commanded by Peter and Paul fell by the wayside long ago and there is no serious movement to revive it in the church ritual. Even the most adamant literalist seems quite content to let this particular form be changed, so long as the spirit behind the commandment is somehow preserved. The substitute form is so widely accepted in fact that J. B. Phillips doesn't even bother to translate what Paul and Peter said. He simply paraphrases it in language every modern Christian will understand: "Give one another a hearty handshake all around!"

I heard the final irony in this connection just the other day. A friend of mine in the Church of Christ heard the Phillips version read in a study group and complained vigorously about the change. "You can't trust modern versions," he said. "Paul said holy kiss, not handshake." It did not occur to him that the new translation only sanctified an action which he had already taken.

No one who reads this journal will suppose that it is my hope to revive the holy kiss. The churches I know have troubles enough already, and I am more than happy to join them in expressing the spirit of that commandment through an altered form. I would only urge my brothers to extend to other people the same charity which they find for themselves.

-- From "FROM HOLY KISS TO HANDSHAKE" by Robert Meyers in the Restoration Review Volume 19, Number 7, July 1977

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vain religion

Religion vain without love. 1 Cor. 13:1-3. (L. M.)

Had I the tongues of Greeks and Jews,
And nobler speech, that angels use,
If love be absent, I am found,
Like tinkling brass, an empty sound.

Were I inspired to preach and tell
All that is done in heav'n and hell;
Or could my faith the world remove,
Still I am nothing without love.

Should I distribute all my store
To feed the bowels of the poor,
Or give my body to the flame,
To gain a martyr's glorious name;

If love to God and love to men
Be absent, all my hopes are vain;
Nor tongues, nor gifts, nor fiery zeal,
The work of love can e'er fulfil.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obeying a commandment

" determining whether to obey and teach others to obey a commandment or point of doctrine, THE ONLY QUESTION is whether it is taught in the Bible, not 'how important' we might adjudge it to be in the Bible. How important is that commandment or teaching? Important enough that God put it in the Bible and that Christ commanded us to keep it." -- Bart Barber in The Differing Importance of Biblical Commands and Teachings

Friday, October 17, 2008

Westminster John Knox

Tuesday the USPS brought me a copy of the WJK Academic Update, Vol. 3, No. 1. The Academic Update is a combination of news, book reviews, and book catalog. Westminster John Knox is related to the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). WJK also partners with Cokesbury, the retail division of The United Methodist Publishing House.

According to their web site,
Westminster John Knox "publishes first-class scholarly works in religion for the academic community, nationally recognized trade books for general readers, and essential resources for ministry and the life of faith." A look at some of their title reveals a viewpoint on the far liberal end of denominated Christians -- Our Mother Saint Paul, Jesus the Village Psychiatrist, Slaying the Dragon: Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition, Feminist and Womanist Essays in Reformed Dogmatics, to name a few.

Four new titles are highlighted in the Academic Update: Q, the Earliest Gospel: an Introduction to the Original Stories and Sayings of Jesus; The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution and the Problem of Evil; To do Justice: a Guide for Progressive Christians; and Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians.

Q, the Earliest Gospel: An Introduction to the Original Stories and Sayings of Jesus is by John S. Kloppenborg, "a world authority on Q". Originally called "Quelle" ("source"), this supposedly "lost gospel" is usually abbreviated as "Q". It is a hypothetical document -- no copy been found, and there is no reference to it in early Christian writings. Like dinosaurs recreated by active imaginations rather than discovered bones, "Q" is a figment of the imagination of those who must find a precursor to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If you are working on a dissertation or writing a critique of "Q", this book might prove helpful. If you trying to learn about Jesus, "Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."

Next is The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution, and the Problem of Evil by Christopher Southgate. God, Evolution, and Evil are usually problems for those who try to reconcile all three. Remove evolution from the equation and buy a book on God and Evil by a Bible-believer like Gordon H. Clark.

To Do Justice: A Guide for Progressive Christians by Rebecca Todd Peters and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty (editors) is admittedly a book for "progressive Christians". Expect to find advice to solve moral and social problems from a liberal progressive viewpoint. Don't expect to find any condemnation of abortion, one of our greatest present moral and social evils.

Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians by James P. Byrd is probably the best of this four-fold crop. It is an introduction to Jonathan Edwards, "exploring his life, most important writings, and enduring legacies..." It is part of the broader Armchair Theologians series of WJK which includes such men as Augustine, Luther, Calvin and Wesley (and a new one on the "heretics" such as Marcion, Arius, Nestorius, and Pelagius).

This link is the latest online Academic Update, but not the one just released.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Good grief!

As if there aren't enough Bibles already, Harper has evidently found a previously untapped market. They have recently released The Green Bible (in the New Revised Standard Version).

The following article is a subtle (or not so subtle) reminder that the homosexual agenda is not just freedom or "rights", but acceptance.
Youngsters treated to lesbian 'wedding'

And be careful that you don't offend a campaign volunteer calling your cell phone!
Secret Service visits Lufkin woman after 'death threat' allegation from an Obama campaign volunteer