Friday, May 28, 2010

Can a pedobaptist church be a valid church?

Bart Barber: "Can a pedobaptist church be a valid New Testament church? To that I would say, eventually not. I conclude from Christ's admonition to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2 that there is a probationary warning period during which a church is sinning in ways that disqualify it from being a church, but during which Christ patiently calls the church to repentance and awaits their obedience before actually 'removing their lampstand' so to speak. I conclude this from the fact that the Ephesian church itself was already guilty, but Christ had not yet removed their lampstand (but was merely warning that He would surely do so soon if they would not repent).

"Pedobaptist churches are in sin against God. They are in sin that disqualifies them from being a valid church. Has Christ yet executed judgment against them, or are they in His probationary period? I don't know how to answer that question. I suspect that hundreds of years is long enough."

From comments on Bart's blog post "Baptist Identity" Influences in My Life

Thursday, May 27, 2010

People and politicians

Received in e-mail, original source unknown:
One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut. After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, "I cannot accept money from you; I'm doing community service this week." The florist was pleased and left the shop. When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a Thank You card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a policeman comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replied, "I cannot accept money from you, I'm doing community service this week." The policeman was happy and left the shop. The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a Thank You card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Then a Congressman came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill, the barber again replied, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week." The Congressman was very happy and left the shop. The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen congressmen lined up waiting for a free haircut.

That illustrates one of the fundamental differences between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

College for all

As you finish high school and get ready for college:

"The notion that a four-year degree is essential for real success is being challenged by a growing number of economists, policy analysts and academics. They say more Americans should consider other options such as technical training or two-year schools, which have been embraced in Europe for decades.

"As evidence, experts cite rising student debt, stagnant graduation rates and a struggling job market flooded with overqualified degree-holders. They pose a fundamental question: Do too many students go to college?"
-- From College for all? Experts say not necessarily by Alan Scher Zagier

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Big singing near

May 29 and 30 (d.v.), the spring session of the 110th Annual Southwest Texas Convention will be held at the Bethel Primitive Baptist Church's meeting house, on FM 713, McMahan, Texas. McMahan is a community located between Bastrop and Luling, and east of Lockhart. Click on the link for more info. The Cooper (blue book) will be used.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Flesh and spirit

HYMN 143, C. M.
Flesh and spirit.

What diff'rent powers of grace and sin
Attend our mortal state
I hate the thoughts that work within,
And do the works I hate.

Now I complain, and groan, and die,
While sin and Satan reign;
Now raise my songs of triumph high,
For grace prevails again.

So darkness struggles with the light
Till perfect day arise;
Water and fire maintain the fight,
Until the weaker dies.

Thus will the flesh and spirit strive,
And vex and break my peace;
But I shall quit this mortal life,
And sin for ever cease.

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

Sunday, May 23, 2010


locum. noun: A person filling in for another, especially for a doctor or clergyman. From Latin locum tenens (holding the place)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Beauty of creation

Sometimes in this busy world we don't take the time to slow down and breathe in the beauty of God's creation. Last night about 9:30 p.m. I went outside at my Mother's house. Her house sits on a hill, and to the south is a creek bottom. The night was dark but a dim light from a hazy quarter moon. Looking down the hill to the south gave something of the impression of a bowl or maybe a amphitheatre. The trees made a sort of semi-circle around an open bit of field, and I could vaguely make them out. Against this backdrop God had dozens of his little lightning bugs turning their lights on and off. The scene made it appear they were in the trees, but I really couldn't tell. A light went on and off here and there, then seemed almost electric at times when dozens would light up almost simultaneously.

What we call lightning bugs are lampyridae, known to many as fireflies. This one little bit of God's creation alone makes us stand in awe. The mathematical impossibilities of just this one creature evolving are mind boggling. And it is just one.

The book of creation

The book of creation.

The book of nature open lies,
With much instruction stored;
But till the Lord anoints our eyes
We cannot read a word.

Philosophers have pored in vain,
And guessed, from age to age;
For reason's eye could ne'er attain
To understand a page.

Though to each star they give a name,
Its size and motions teach;
The truths which all the stars proclaim,
Their wisdom cannot reach.

With skill to measure earth and sea;
And weigh the subtle air;
They cannot, LORD, discover thee
Though present everywhere.

The knowledge of the saints excels
The wisdom of the schools;
To them his secrets God reveals,
Though men account them fools.

To them the sun and stars on high,
The flow'rs that paint the field,
And all the artless birds that fly,
Divine instruction yield.

The creatures on their senses press,
As witnesses to prove
Their Savior's pow'r, and faithfulness,
His providence and love.

Thus may we study nature's book
To make us wise indeed!
And pity those who only look
At what they cannot read.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Goodbye, Andy

Andy Woods Elementary in Tyler, TX is scheduled for demolition in mid June. The school was built in 1956 and named in honor of Thomas Andrew Woods. According to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, Woods, born in Panola County in 1913, was "a longtime physical education teacher and coach at Tyler's Hogg Junior High." He was "a leader, a positive influence to young men and a notorious practical joker. He ran the Tyler Little League Summer Baseball program for eight years before he died in 1954 at age 42."

What many educators and newspaper publishers probably do not know is that Thomas Andrew Woods was a Sacred Harp singer and served as secretary of the oldest singing convention in Texas -- the East Texas Sacred Harp Singing Convention, organized 1855. He was secretary 1940-41. His widow is, I think, still living in Athens, Texas. After his death she married Jackson Owen, also a Sacred Harp singer.

When I saw the Tyler paper article, I decided to put up this little post to honor Mr. Woods. Probably most of the students who had such fond memories of the campus never knew him. (Neither did I; he died 3 years before I was born.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To the afflicted

To the afflicted, tossed with tempests and not comforted.
Isa 44:5-11

Pensive, doubting, fearful heart,
Hear what CHRIST the Savior says;
Every word should joy impart,
Change thy mourning into praise:
Yes, he speaks, and speaks to thee,
May he help thee to believe!
Then thou presently wilt see,
Thou hast little cause to grieve.

"Fear thou not, nor be ashamed,
All thy sorrows soon shall end
I who heav'n and earth have framed,
Am thy husband and thy friend
I the High and Holy One,
Israel's GOD by all adored;
As thy Savior will be known,
Thy Redeemer and thy Lord.

For a moment I withdrew,
And thy heart was filled with pain;
But my mercies I'll renew,
Thou shalt soon rejoice again:
Though I scorn to hide my face,
Very soon my wrath shall cease;
'Tis but for a moment's space,
Ending in eternal peace.

When my peaceful bow appears
Gen 9:13,14
Painted on the wat'ry cloud;
'Tis to dissipate thy fears,
Lest the earth should be o'erflowed:
'Tis an emblem too of grace,
Of my cov'nant love a sign;
Though the mountains leave their place,
Thou shalt be for ever mine.

Though afflicted, tempest-tossed,
Comfortless awhile thou art,
Do not think thou canst be lost,
Thou art graven on my heart
All thy walls I will repair,
Thou shalt be rebuilt anew;
And in thee it shall appear,
What a God of love can do.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Greater, more

Matthew 23:14-15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

v. 14 The greater damnation
Degrees of punishment in hell is what I was taught concerning "the greater damnation". While that could be interpreted that way, there is a simpler possible comparison. Jesus condemns the hypocritical Pharisees, who made much religious show with their long prayers and such. But behind their religious façade lay hearts of evil which had no compassion even for the helpless, such as the widows. If they had the advantage, they would gladly devour their homes, their possessions, their all. In their weakest time with little defense, these hypocrites take advantage of widows. Perhaps, like some modern religions, they offer their prayers to obtain their substance. Whatever damnation they laid on the widows, theirs will be greater. Not that their eternal punishment will be greater than the eternal punishment of others, but what happens to them is greater and more severe than what they did to the helpless widows. Vengeance is God's; He will repay. Psalm 68:5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.

v. 15 Twofold more the child of hell
Just because one is a Jewish proselyte does not guarantee that one is bound for eternal punishment. Some proselytes gladly received the message of the apostles (e.g. Acts 2:10, 3:5; 13:43). So I don't see how it fits that this is referring to the destiny of the proselyte. They are not "two-fold" more children of hell in their destiny, but in their actions. The converts of the Pharisees learn their teachings, mimic their ways, and accentuate their flaws. So, what is bad in the teacher is worse in the student. Though Saul was not strictly a proselyte (if I understand the term), he was a disciple of the Pharisee Gamaliel. Gamaliel is presented as a fairly reasonable man who opposed killing Christians, prefering to let Christianity die out of its own accord (he hoped). Yet his disciple Saul was exceedingly mad against them. Where Gamaliel was willing to let them slowly die out as a Jewish sect, Saul just wanted them to die. He was quite successful in exterminating many of them (Cf. Acts 5:34-40; 22:3-4; 26:9-11). Is not this what Jesus meant?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

God's acre

God's acre. noun: A cemetery, especially one next to a church. [Loan translation of German Gottesacker, from Gott (God) + Acker (field).]

Friday, May 14, 2010

Supreme Court

A week or so ago I heard Michael Savage raving about someone who had brought up the religious/denominational makeup of the Supreme Court and comparing him to Nazis for bringing it up. I, nevertheless, think it is a curious subject. Before discussing it further let me put forward this disclaimer -- in agreement with our Baptist forefathers like John Leland, I do believe there should be no religious test for public office. In spite of that, I still find it interesting that, should Solicitor General Elena Kagan be confirmed to the court as she likely will be, the religious makeup of the Supreme Court will be 6 Catholics, 3 Jews and zero Protestants*.

It is hard to be sure, since numbers vary at different sources, but of these three groups it appears roughly 52% of Americans are Protestants, 24% are Catholics and 2% are Jewish. So if we were just selecting randomly, the majority of the court might likely be Protestant. But, as James Piereson points out in "The Diversity Scam and the Supreme Court," there is "nothing random about the selection process".

Why did the religious makeup of the Court wind up this way? Coincidence? Conspiracy? Camaraderie? Chaos? (God is in control of it all, but what human means has He used in so controlling it?)

It is suggested by Piereson and others that it may be because "elite" law schools have fewer Protestants than Jews or Catholics. "On other important grounds, the Supreme Court appears as a surprisingly monolithic group of justices. Nearly all attended elite colleges and proceeded from there to a few Ivy League law schools. They come from either a few northeastern states or from California. Considered as a group, the absence of genuine diversity on the Court is more than a little stunning." (James Piereson in The Diversity Scam and the Supreme Court) "Our obsession with diversity has produced a governing class of monolithic sameness...Eight of the nine justices (including Kagan) attended either Harvard or Yale Law Schools; the ninth—Ginsburg—attended Columbia. Just three Ivy League law schools have supplied the legal education of the entire Supreme Court. What kind of diversity is that?"

I am opposed to the current mentality that we need judges that are sympathetic to certain groups or viewpoints. A judge should be morally and legally qualified and render verdicts according to the law. As far as the religious angle, you can't really tell much about a person's worldview based on the denominational affiliation (excepting possibly small groups with very tight beliefs). Catholic, Protestant and Jewish legal views range from one end to the other of the spectrum of American public opinion. The current court displays that.

But still, for all the claims of diversity -- we've got to have a woman, a black, a Latina, etc., etc. -- the court has been filled with a pretty tight little group which does not come from across the full spectrum of America, either geographically, theologically, or philosophically. If they judge rightly, it won't matter. Ultimately, they should be highly knowledgeable of the law, and specifically according to the Constitution there should good moral character: "The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour..."

*Public media reporting this uses Protestant to refer to any non-Catholic Christian denominations, if I understand correctly. Other than complying with the public understanding on this topic, we do not use the term "Protestant" to refer to Anabaptists such as Baptists, Mennonites, Amish, etc. provides this religious breakdown of the Supreme Court up to this day:
Episcopalian 35
Other Protestant 28
Presbyterian 19
Catholic 12 (6 of the 12 Catholics are currently serving)
Unitarian 10
Jewish 7
No church 1

President Obama said with Kagan's appointment there would be "A Court that would be more inclusive, more representative, more reflective of us as a people than ever before." How will Elena Kagan’s presence on the Supreme Court make the Court "more representative"?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Space, the final frontier

I never been big on the space program -- even remember when a lot of common sense folks around here the whole thing was fake. But I am intrigued that space veterans from Neil Armstrong (the first man to walk on the moon) to Eugene Cernan (the last man to walk on the moon) oppose the Obama administration's space program. "We have come to the unanimous conclusion that this budget proposal presents no challenges, has no focus, and in fact is a blueprint for a mission to 'nowhere,'" Cernan said.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Good question

In a blog post on prayer and God's will, Cory Page asked the following question: "How often do you take the Model Prayer's phrase 'Thy will be done' and make it a disclaimer instead of a desire?"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Testimony of Divine Adoption

How happy are the new-born race,
Partakers of adopting grace!
How pure the bliss they share!
Hid from the world and all its eyes,
Within their heart the blessing lies,
And conscience feels it there.

'Tis love unites what sin divides;
The centre, where all bliss resides;
To which the soul once brought,
Reclining on the first great cause,
From his abounding sweetness draws
Peace passing human thought.

Sorrow forgoes its nature there,
And life assumes a tranquil air,
Divested of its woes;
There sovereign goodness soothes the breast,
Till then incapable of rest,
In sacred sure repose.

From The Testimony of Divine Adoption by Madame de la Mothe Guion (translated by William Cowper)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Very interesting

"Hardly any white children can be found in D.C. public schools...when it comes to the spouses they choose, the schools their kids attend, the neighborhoods they live in and the churches they go to, the white liberal elite pretty much replicates the social patterns of the Ku Klux Klan." -- From "Who’s the Bigot, Mr. Brown?" by Patrick J. Buchanan

Thursday, May 06, 2010

ENDA the line for decency?

The (so-called) Employment Non-Discrimination Act H.R. 3017 (also S. 1584)

"Nothing in this Act shall be construed to establish an unlawful employment practice based on actual or perceived gender identity due to the denial of access to shared shower or dressing facilities in which being seen unclothed is unavoidable, provided that the employer provides reasonable access to adequate facilities that are not inconsistent with the employee’s gender identity as established with the employer at the time of employment or upon notification to the employer that the employee has undergone or is undergoing gender transition, whichever is later."


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

An Old Colonial Virginia preacher

"L. L. Gwaltney was a noted Virginia editor. He once told about an experience he heard his grandfather relate. When his grandfather was a small boy, he accompanied his father to the funeral service of an old Colonial Virginia preacher. As he and his father looked at the body of the preacher in the casket, the boy noticed that large scars covered the preacher’s hands. Later the boy asked his father about the scars. His father told him that this Baptist minister had been arrested for preaching in violation of the established church. Because he continued to preach from the jail, a high fence was built in front of the jail window so the people who gathered there could not see him. The people continued to gather to hear him preach. When he preached, he would stick his hands through the bars of the jail to gesture. When he extended his arms through the bars, the guards on duty would cut his hands with sharp knives. He bore those scars to his grave." -- From Chapter 6 of William Powell Tuck's Our Baptist Tradition

Monday, May 03, 2010

Graves on Jesus' baptism

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins...
“Let us clearly understand for what purpose Christ was baptized in the river of Jordan. He came to earth to work out a perfect righteousness for his people--to satisfy the infinite claims of divine justice for all who would that grace receive. It Was this "all-righteousness" he declared he wished to fulfill in his baptism. This he evidently could not literally accomplish by being baptized, else he might have ascended from the water in a chariot of glory to the right hand of the Father. But if he did fulfill the "all-righteousness" he came to earth to accomplish, he must have done it figuratively. We know that it was in a figure he fulfilled it; for the Holy Spirit expressly declares that the rite of baptism is only a figure--"The like figure where-unto baptism doth now also save us;" If baptism is only a figure, whatever it is said to do, or we are said to do in or by it, must be done figuratively. If it saves us, it saves us figuratively. If it washes away our sins, it does it figuratively, i. e., declaratively. If we are by it baptized into Christ, it is done figuratively, as the Jews were into Moses. If we are baptized into his death, we only figure symbolize it. So if Christ did in his baptism, fulfill all righteousness, he must, he could only have prefigured the acts which constitutes the all-righteousness. He set before their eyes, in a vivid figure, the three great acts by which he did fulfill the "all-righteousness" the law required in order that those for whom he appeared might be set free from the divine law, and their redemption eternally secured.”
[From Christian Baptism, the Profession of our Faith, by J. R. Graves]