Saturday, December 31, 2016

The man before time

“He, through whom time was made, was made in time and He, older by eternity that the world itself, was younger in age than many of His servants in the world. He, who made man, was made man, He was given existence by a mother whom He brought into existence.” -- Augustine of Hippo

Happy Birthday, y'all

I don’t remember it, but I’m told I was born on the last day of the year sometime near the middle of the last century. In addition, I’ve found that God commonly added some important people to the world as he was filling his end of year quotas. Here are some of them:

Jacques Cartier, 1491
Andreas Vesalius, 1514
Emperor Go-Yōzei, 1571
Herman Boerhaave, 1668
Charles Lord Cornwallis, 1738
Henri Matisse, 1869
Elizabeth Arden, 1878
George C. Marshall Jr., 1880
Simon Wiesenthal, 1908
Pat Brady, 1914
Anthony Hopkins, 1937
John Denver, 1943
Gabby Douglas, 1995

Choose Your Miracle

Going around the internet, credited to Glen Scrivener (don't know who that is):

"Christians believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. Materialists believe in the virgin birth of the cosmos. Choose your miracle."


Andy Stanley: “I stand firmly within the orthodox Christian tradition regarding the incarnation of Jesus — including the birth narratives as presented in Matthew and Luke.”

Matthew: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Luke: “To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.”

Andy Stanley: “A lot of people just don’t believe [the virgin birth]. And I understand that. Maybe the thought is, ‘Hey, maybe they had to come up with some myth about Jesus to give him street cred, you know, later on.’ Maybe that’s where that came from.”

Friday, December 30, 2016

Christ Mass on December 25

Following is a brief statement of opinion why December 25 was set as the celebration of the birth of Jesus, by Elder Grady Dearman. For more detail on when Elder Dearman believes Jesus was born, see his article The Star of Bethlehem.
The Christ Mass originally became pronounced as one word and the final “S” was dropped to remove future objections. But how in the world did the thing turn out to be adopted erroneously as the birth day of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Below is strictly my opinion, and mine alone. If you agree, “Well.” If you disagree that is also “Well.” Everyone has the right to their own opinions. My opinion has been formed over many years and is based on what others have written on the subject, what I have heard in innumerable conversations, etc.
From my understanding of the Gospels, I see where the family of Jesus – his mother, Mary’s husband, his brothers and sisters – must have known to the very day when their son, and brother, was born. You know when you were born and so do your parents, and probably your siblings.
The Jews of that time kept meticulous records. However, when the Romans burned the Temple, the records burned also. The Romans made a wasteland of the entire country, from North to South, and the Jews that weren’t killed were driven out of the land, or sold into the slave markets of the world. Josephus and historians of that time chronicled it well.
However, the writers of the Gospels knew when he was born. There were direct statements to that effect. And I feel certain there were disciples who companied with him who knew how old he was when he began his ministry. There was no A.D. or B.C. at that early date, but they had a much sense as we do. By the time of the large population of Christians and “Christians” in Rome – about the year of Emperor Constantine around 325 A.D., Constantine decreed Christianity was to be recognized as a state-approved religion. In fact, there was the major council of Nicea in 326 A.D., at which many facets of the faith, such as the approval of the 66 books of the canon of Scripture [occurred], and there may have been discussion of the possible date of the Lord’s birth.        I believe Christ was born 6 days before the end of the Jewish Year 3759 on Elul 23. Someone may have said, “He was born 6 days before the end of the year” – meaning the end of the Jewish Year. And since the 25th of December was already the date of sun worship, Constantine, for political expediency, ordered the day be observed as Christ’s birthday, because it was also 6 days to the end of the year.
By Grady E. Dearman, Sr., of Laurel, Mississippi, March 6, 2016 – as posted by Hoyt D. F. Sparks, December 25, 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tracing the genealogy of Jesus, 2

Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; 3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; 7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; 8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; 9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; 10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; 11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: 12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; 13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; 14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; 15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; 16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Tracing a genealogy through the mother is unusual. I do not know of any biblical instance of it, other than in Luke Chapter 3.[i] In Matthew’s Gospel, the genealogy of Jesus is traced from Abraham to Jesus, through his legal representative Joseph. Matthew’s wording in verse 16 is clear that Jesus is born of Mary and not Joseph – he goes on to explain that in Matthew 1:18-25. The circumstance of Jesus’s birth – born of a virgin – was unique, designed by God to fulfill his promise.

Though Matthew 1:1-17 does not trace the genealogy through the mother, it testifies that Jesus was born of one named Mary. Besides Mary, Matthew references four other women: Thamar/Tamar, Rachab/Rahab[ii], Ruth, and her that had been the wife of Urias/Bathsheba. Each of these four adds interesting flavor to the earthly ancestry of the Jesus the Christ.[iii] Tamar bore children by her father-in-law Judah by posing as a wayside harlot – after he had failed to fulfill the custom of giving her another of his sons to marry. Rahab was the harlot in Jericho who hid the Israelite spies and cast her lot with the people of God. Ruth was a foreigner, a Moabite woman, whose second marriage to Boaz yielded the grandfather of David the future king. Bathsheba was an adulteress who married the king David after he connived to have her soldier husband (his loyal subject) killed in battle. If one of us were telling the story, we might had left out some of the references to unpleasant details!

On the surface the genealogies of the Bible – including the New Testament genealogy of Jesus – may seem boring, but they are included with skillful purpose.

Jesus’s genealogy integrally links the Old and New Covenants. In the first verse of the New Testament, introducing Jesus the Christ, Matthew immediately ties him to the covenants of Abraham and David and begins to narrate his descent. As one compares to the Old Testament the genealogies – providing the physical descent and legal succession – demonstrate that the Christ Jesus is of the nation, tribe and family out of which the Messiah was promised (e.g. Abraham, Judah, David). The genealogy apprises us that the Christ Jesus took on our human nature (the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us). Jesus completely identified with our fallen condition, as seen in the fallen condition of his human forebears. Matthew Henry notes that when “we read the names in his genealogy, we should not forget how low the Lord of glory stooped to save the human race.” His human ancestors were fallen; he identified with them, yet Jesus was completely without sin (Cf. Romans 8:3). And, though much of the Old Testament deals with God’s promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Matthew’s inclusion of the Gentile women emphasizes that God is not God of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles and that his covenant of salvation reaches the end of the earth.

[i] And even then it traces through the male ancestors.
[ii] It is generally believed, but not beyond controversy, that this was Rahab the harlot of Jericho. The events in the book of Ruth occur in the times of the Judges (and Ruth 1:1 may suggest that the earliest times are meant).
[iii] And the fifth is exceptional from all the rest.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tracing the genealogy of Jesus, 1

Those willing to admit it might tell us that they hasten through certain parts of the Bible because they are “boring.” The genealogies of the Bible often receive that label.[i] They are full of hard to pronounce names that go on and on. But these genealogies are included for a reason. God made a promise, beginning in Genesis 3:15, about a descendant of Eve (Abraham, Judah, David, and so on). The Bible focuses on this descendant. So, by tracing a part of the human family from Adam and Eve forward, the Bible funnels us down to the one descendant who fulfills the prophecies about that one.

The New Testament provides two accounts of the lineage of Jesus – one in Matthew 1:1-17 and the other in Luke 3:23-38.[ii] Matthew starts with Abraham. Luke begins (chronologically) with Adam.[iii] The lists are identical between Abraham and David,[iv] but differ from that point moving to Jesus. Matthew traces the lineage through David’s son Solomon (Matthew 1:6-7), while Luke traces the lineage through David’s son Nathan (Luke 3:31).

Are these errors in the Bible and the genealogy of Jesus? Those who reject the inspiration and preservation of the biblical record are quick to say so,[v] but the differences are easily explained.[vi] Matthew records Jesus’s legal line, through Joseph (though not his biological father, Joseph was recognized as Jesus’s legal father). This line descends from David through his son Solomon. Luke records Jesus’s biological (or blood) line through his mother Mary. This line descends from David through his son Nathan. Both legally and biologically, Jesus is a son of David. Luke called Joseph the “son of Heli” due to his marriage to Mary, who was Heli’s daughter.[vii] Tracing a genealogy through the mother is unusual. I do not know of any other biblical instance of it. But the circumstance of Jesus’s birth – born of a virgin – was unique. There is none other like it! We are clued to the difference in this genealogy through Luke’s explanation is that Jesus being “(as was supposed)” the son of Joseph, (Luke 3:23).

This will not satisfy those who reject the authority of the Bible, but simple Christians have no problem with this explanation.

[i] The genealogies of the Bible fall into two styles, ascending and descending. Descending genealogies begin in the present and trace backward to some person (as in Luke 3; Cf. Ezra 7:1-5). Ascending genealogies start with a particular person in the past and move forward to the present (as in Matthew 1; Cf. Genesis 5:1-32; Ruth 4:18-22). Biblical ascending genealogies are more likely to include extra information, while descending genealogies tend to be linked lists of names.
[ii] The gospels of Mark and John begin with Jesus as an adult, while Matthew and Luke begin with his birth. It is logical those two would recite the lineage and the other two would not.
[iii] Since Luke starts at the present and works backward, he technically ends with Adam.
[iv] The male ancestors are identical; Matthew includes some details not in Luke.
[v] Even if one rejects Holy Spirit inspiration and providential preservation, it is strange to believe that both those who wrote and those who compiled the books of the New Testament overlooked what would have been such a blatant contradiction in the genealogies – suggesting they understood the differences. Thomas Paine, in The Age of Reason, claimed Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies “contradict each other in every particular” (they do not) and that this “proves falsehood absolutely.” Yet, if the disciples of Jesus fabricated a genealogy of Jesus to prove the point of his being David’s son, it is inexplicable that they would have deliberately included two contradictory accounts!
[vi] The church historian Eusebius, referring to Julius Africanus in his epistle to Aristides, gives a different harmony of the genealogies – according to nature and according to the law.  Evidently he believed that Matthew was tracing the biological line and that Luke was taking into account what we call “levirate marriage”. In The Virgin Birth of Christ, J. Gresham Machen argues that Joseph is the legal heir of is Jacob, who died without issue, and that Joseph is the son of Jacob’s brother Heli. So, according to Machen, Matthew gives the legal descent and Luke the physical one. “…the Lucan genealogy traces the actual physical ancestors of Joseph back to David, while the Matthæan genealogy enumerates the successive heirs to the Davidic throne.” (p. 207) Under this explanation, Matthan and Matthat would be different spellings for the same person – Joseph’s grandfather.
[vii] I have been taught that there was no Greek word for “son-in-law,” but have made no personal investigation of the subject. God’s promise was made to David. Jesus was a legal heir of Joseph (a descendant of David), but was not the son of Joseph. Therefore, it is important to show that his mother Mary was also a descendant of David.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

More on Moore

At the Southern Baptist Convention meeting last June (2016), an Arkansas pastor addressed ERLC President Russell Moore: “Yes. My name is John Wofford. I pastor Armorel Baptist Church in Armorel, Arkansas and I have a question for Dr. Moore. I would like to know how in the world someone within the Southern Baptist Convention can support the defending of rights for Muslims to construct mosques in the United States when these people threaten our very way of existence as Christians and Americans. They are murdering Christians, beheading Christians, imprisoning Christians all over the world. Do you actually believe that if Jesus Christ were here today that He would support this and that He would stand up and say, ‘Well, let us protect the rights of those Baal worshipers to erect temples to Baal?’ Do you believe that Dr. Moore?”

Moore replied, in part, “Sometimes we have to deal with questions that are really complicated and we have to spend a lot of time thinking them through...sometimes we have really hard decisions to make. This isn’t one of those things. What it means to be a Baptist is to support soul freedom for everybody...The answer to Islam is not government power. The answer is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the new birth that comes from that.”

Following up later in the Arkansas Baptist News, Pastor Wofford complained that this is a ‘spiritual issue’ – an issue of unequally yoking together with unbelievers and bidding them God speed – and that Moore did not answer his question. There is a fine line for Christians to walk between supporting freedom of religious views and actions while not bidding Godspeed to those who do not hold the true doctrine of Christ. Perhaps both Pastor Wofford and President Moore both missed the mark.

Pastor Wofford said that he was addressing a spiritual issue of yoking with unbelievers and bidding them God speed – rather than the issue of religious liberty. We ought to accept his explanation, whether or not one agrees with his position. On the other hand, Wofford and others on his side are too hard on Russell Moore about not answering the question. Yes, Moore promoted religious liberty and didn’t really address the “spiritual issue” put forth at the end of the question. Wofford’s “set-up” to his question was somewhat distracting from the point. In the beginning Pastor Wofford apparently alludes to the brief filed by ERLC. Then he goes into the fact of Muslims threatening “our very way of existence,” not only as Christians but also as Americans. When we bring “Americans” into it, it is no longer just a spiritual question, but a temporal one as well. If Pastor Wofford wanted to know about the spiritual issue aspect he didn’t give the best introduction he could have. He must take some responsibility for getting the answer he got and not just blame that on Russell Moore. Moore addressed religious liberty, soul freedom and the right to build – more than specifically whether the ERLC including their name (and that of the SBC) on an amicus brief was a spiritual issue, some kind of unequal yoking with unbelievers. Moore was wrong, and even comes off a bit flippant, when he says “sometimes we have really hard decisions to make. This isn’t one of those things.” But avoiding spiritual adultery while supporting religious liberty is an issue with which many are struggling, and they need “hard” answers that address the entire scope of what they are asking. Some seem to backing into the corner of religious liberty without dealing with spiritual adultery.

I think a sane mind must realize that a major part of the problem is the word “Muslim”. There have been no previous outcries over the ERLC (or IMB for that matter) signing amicus briefs[i] that support or ally with some other religion (for example, the amicus brief in the Little Sisters of the Poor case).[ii]

The government should/must recognize the same kind of religious rights for Muslims as everyone else; I would not go on a crusade to help them get mosques. I agree with the thrust of the brief, which is that “A Muslim mosque cannot be subjected to a different land-use approval process than a Christian church simply because local protesters oppose the mosque.” I believe in our American judicial system. For it to work every person must be given a fair trial with the best legal counsel available. I could not defend someone I knew was guilty. I would support their having someone else do so, because that’s necessary for our system to work. Supporting religious liberty from both a biblical and civil standpoint can be like that.

[i] When you get into issues like the IMB and ERLC filing amicus briefs you also get into an issue of Southern Baptist people feeling like “you are taking my money to further a cause I don’t believe in.” That is always a source of frustration.
[ii] “Revolting as the pagan religion is, it is no better, nor is it any worse than any other worldly religion.  It possesses the essential elements of the religion of Cain, delusion and bloodshed.  It is doubtful whether the human sacrifices made to their idols would suffer by comparison with the religion of the world which in this day claims the Christian name, either papal or Protestant.” – Gilbert Beebe, Signs of the Times, January, 1871

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas and the Birth of Jesus, 2

In his December 3rd message “Who Needs Christmas,” mega-church multi-site pastor Andy Stanley said, “Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of Jesus. It really hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.” Stanley has previously worked to destroy the credibility of Scripture, advising preachers should “get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection” – following up in a few days saying “It is next to impossible to defend the entire Bible.”  Stanley is wrong.

What the birth of Jesus means, according to the Scriptures

According to the Scriptures the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of centuries of God’s promises through prophecy, as well as the commencement of God’s earthly phase of redemption. It is also:

3. The underpinning of God’s message of the gospel

The gospel is how that Christ died according to the Scriptures, that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. Without the virgin birth of Jesus, God made flesh and dwelling among, living a holy and sinless life in the flesh and dying for sin, the underpinning is stripped out from under the gospel. Eternal God was born of a virgin, died on a cross, rose from the grave and is alive! It is clear that the apostles turned the world upside down carrying a message of the living Christ and his resurrection. But this message did not dismiss “the stories around the birth of Jesus.” Rather the resurrection was founded on and required the truth of God becoming flesh.
  • The early church called him “God’s holy child.” Acts 4:27,30 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together… by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
  • God manifest in the flesh is an integral part of his being “just in the spirit” and “received up into glory” (the resurrection and ascension). 1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
  • John went so far to say that those who do no confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh are “antichrist.” 1 John 4:2-3 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
  • The Bible description of how he came in the flesh is through the virgin birth, testified by the apostles. Luke 1:26-27 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
If Jesus had not been born of woman, he could not have been human. If he had not been born of a virgin, he could not have been holy. If he had not been holy, he could not have died for our sins. If he had not died, he would not have been resurrected. Christianity hinges on believing God. God gave us “the stories around the birth of Jesus.” Now go and preach the resurrection of Jesus!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas and the Birth of Jesus

What Christmas means to the world and many Christians
  • Santa Claus and reindeer
  • Christmas trees
  • Gift exchanges
  • Holidays/days off of work
  • Parties
A few atheists and agnostics fight the season – especially hoping to purify any government-owned locations of evil nativity scenes and such like – but most secular non-believers enjoy the trappings of the season. Cultural, nominal, notional[i] and other Christians join them in the Christmas joy. Some separated saints fight to put Christ back in Christmas while others invoke “the law of non-Christmas”[ii] – but, for better or worse, the average American Christian and the average secular American celebrate Christmas in very much the same way.

Though the Christmas holiday season is primarily one of joy – “the most wonderful time of the year” – to some it means gloom, despair, agony, depression, pain and misery. Some experts claim this is onset by such things as stress (including perceived pressure to spend lots of money), unrealistic expectations, excessive self-reflection and loneliness.

What the birth of Jesus means, according to the Scriptures
1. The fulfillment of centuries of God’s promises through prophecy
The Old Testament is filled with promises of a seed, a Saviour, an Anointed One (Messiah, Christ) that God would send into the world. This Christ would be:
  • The seed of woman, Genesis 3:15 and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Cf. Galatians 4:4)
  • Blessings on Shem, Genesis 9:26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. (Cf. Luke 3:36)
  • Seed of Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord had said unto Abram…in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Cf. 22:18; Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:34)
  • The promise through Isaac and his descendants, Genesis 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. (Cf. 21:12; Luke 3:34)
  • The promise to Jacob, Genesis 28:13-14 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14 and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (Cf. Numbers 24:17; Luke 3:34)
  • From the tribe of Judah, Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. (Cf. Psalm 78:68; Matthew 1:2; Luke 3:34)
  • Family of Jesse, 1 Samuel 16:1 And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. (Cf. Isaiah 11:1, 10; Luke 3:32)
  • Son of David, Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. (Cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Luke 3:31; Matthew 1:1; Luke 2:11)
  • Born of a virgin, Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Cf. Matthew 1:18-25)
  • Time of Messiah’s birth in the days of the Roman kings, Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Cf. Daniel 9:24-27; Luke 2:1; 3:1)
  • Born in Bethlehem, Micah 5:2 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Cf. Matthew 2:1; Luke 4:2-11)
2. The commencement of the earthly phase of redemption
God must put on flesh, to die for us, to condemn sin and to pay sin’s penalty.
  • “Late in time, behold Him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb.” Galatians 4:4 but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law
  • “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail th’incarnate Deity” John 1:14 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. Hebrews 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
  • “Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die” Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
  • “Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface, stamp Thine image in its place” Romans 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
  • “Second Adam from above, reinstate us in Thy love.” 1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
God was not “doing nothing” before Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Cf. 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8), but this act instated God’s earthly phase of redemption. His grand design required a God who was a man to seek and save the lost and die as a ransom for the wicked souls of men.

[i] Since seeing this term used in a Barna survey, I’ve been salivating for a chance to use it. J Barna Research, which uses this term in their polling, defines “notional Christians” as “people who consider themselves to be Christian but they have not made ‘a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today’ or believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.”
[ii] This reference is to those Christians who oppose the celebration of Christmas. In my opinion, fighting cultural holidays and seasons is not “a hill to die on,” but they ought to be kept out of the church.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Twelve days of Bible Reading

In the twelve days of reading, my Bible taught to me:

Twelve sons of Jacob,
Eleven Judas-less apostles,
Ten great Commandments,
Nine lepers leaving,
Eight th' ark a saving,
Seven trumpets sounding,
Six days of manna,
Five loaves and fish;
Four winds of heaven,
Three grave nights,
Two Testaments,
and One Eternal Deity.

1.   Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4-5 
2.   II Corinthians 3:4-16; Hebrews 9:11-28
3.   Matthew 12:39-41; Luke 24:1-27
4.   Mark 13:26-27
5.   Matthew 14:14-21
6.   Exodus 16:4-26
7.   Joshua 6:1-27; Revelation 8:1-6
8.   I Peter 3:18-22
9.   Luke 17:12-19
10. Exodus 20:1-17; Exodus 34:27-28
11. Acts 1:15-26
12. Genesis 35:22; Genesis 42:1-45:5

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton in A short Schem of the true Religion
Opposite to the first is Atheism in profession & Idolatry in practise. Atheism is so senseless & odious to mankind that it never had many professors. Can it be by accident that all birds beasts & men have their right side & left side alike shaped (except in their bowells) & just two eyes & no more on either side the face & just two ears on either side the head & a nose with two holes & no more between the eyes & one mouth under the nose & either two fore leggs or two wings or two arms on the sholders & two leggs on the hipps one on either side & no more? Whence arises this uniformity in all their outward shapes but from the counsel & contrivance of an Author? Whence is it that the eyes of all sorts of living creatures are transparent to the very bottom & the only transparent members in the body, having on the outside an hard transparent skin, & within transparent juyces with a crystalline Lens in the middle & a pupil before the Lens all of them so truly shaped & fitted for vision, that no Artist can mend them? Did blind chance know that there was light & what was its refraction & fit the eys of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it? These & such like considerations always have & ever will prevail with man kind to beleive that there is a being who made all things & has all things in his power & who is therfore to be feared.Opposite to [Godliness] is atheism in profession, and idolatry in practise. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors. Can it be by accident that all birds, beasts, and men have their right side and left side alike shaped (except in their bowels), and just two eyes and no more on either side of the face, and just two ears on either side of the head, and a nose with two holes and no more between the eyes, and one mouth under the nose, and either two fore legs or two wings or two arms on the sholders and two legs on the hips, one on either side and no more? Whence arises this uniformity in all their outward shapes but from the counsel and contrivance of an author? Whence is it that the eyes of all sorts of living creatures are transparent to the very bottom and the only transparent members in the body, having on the outside an hard transparent skin, and within transparent juices with a crystalline lens in the middle and a pupil before the lens, all of them so truly shaped and fitted for vision that no artist can mend them? Did blind chance know that there was light and what was its refraction, and fit the eyes of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it? These and such like considerations always have and ever will prevail with mankind to believe that there is a being who made all things and has all things in his power, and who is therefore to be feared.

One thing I like...

...about the Southern Baptist Convention.

Yesterday I posted Four things I don't like about the Southern Baptist Convention. I want to briefly call attention to one think I like about the Southern Baptist Convention (or perhaps I could say one thing by which I am impressed). As far as I know, the Southern Baptist Convention is the only major American Christian denomination that was able to halt, and perhaps reverse, its liberal slide. By the late 1960s one would have thought the SBC was about to drift off into the same ecumenical liberalism as the main-liners like the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, and so forth. But, due to what some call the Conservative Resurgence and others call the Fundamentalist Takeover, the slide was halted before the edge of the precipice was reached -- and this even considering the disadvantage of a built-in system that discourages dissent.

[Disclaimer: 1. I am not a Southern Baptist. 2. These posts should not be taken to mean there are only 4 things I dislike about the SBC, or only 1 thing I like.]

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Four things I don't like...

...about the Southern Baptist Convention.

Its charter
"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia, in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same. That from and after the passing of this act, That William B. Johnson, Wilson Lumpkin, James B. Taylor, A. Docrey, R. B. C. Howell and others, their associates and successors, be and they are hereby incorporated and made a body politic by the name and style of the Southern Baptist Convention..."

The Southern Baptist Convention is a corporation of individuals and their successors chartered in 1845 by the authority of the state of Georgia.

Its purpose
"...said corporation being created for the purpose of eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians..."

The purpose sets the Convention in an aggressive stance toward the churches, to see that they combine, organize and finance in such a way to meet the Convention's goals.

Its composition and money basis
The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention consists of messengers who are members of Baptist churches "in friendly cooperation with the Convention." Each church is allowed two messengers and are permitted up to twelve based on their financial contributions.*

The friendly cooperation and monetary basis insulates the Convention from the evaluation and supervision of churches which disagree with the direction and vision of the leaders of the Convention (e.g. if they choose to withhold funds from an entity or entities because of disagreements over errant doctrine and practice, they are punished for that act with loss of messengers).

Either "(1) One additional messenger for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts which the church contributed during the fiscal year preceding through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity; or (2) One additional messenger for each $6,000 which the church contributed during the fiscal year preceding through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the Convention’s Executive Committee for Convention causes, and/or to any Convention entity."

Electors select Donald Trump

For all the squawking about the Electoral College and faithless electors, the results turned out much as expected. Last night ABC reported that Donald Trump Cruised to Electoral College Victory Despite Protests, garnering 304 electoral votes to 227 for Hillary Clinton (270 Electoral College votes were needed to win the presidency).

There were "faithless electors," but more on the Democratic side than Republican. According to AP's Stephen Ohlemacher, "With all Republican states reporting, Trump lost only the two electors in Texas. One voted for Kasich, the Ohio governor; the other voted for former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Clinton lost four electors in Washington state — three voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and one voted for Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle. She also lost an elector in Hawaii to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Marrying Oneself is Now A Thing, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Age of Adam

Excerpts from Age of Earth; Age of Adam:

The subject of Adam is without controversy. That is, one does not hear of a “Young Adam Theory versus an Old Adam Theory.”
“Adam and Eve’s exact physical age
at their creation would technically be
zero, because their ages are
calculated from their creation, but
God obviously created them at a
certain AGE LEVEL, or as it is often
called, with APPARENT AGE.” 

[The Earth’s] exact physical age at [its] creation would technically be zero, because [its] age [is] calculated from [its] creation, but God obviously created [it] at a certain AGE LEVEL, or as it is often called, with [an] APPARENT AGE.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Folk Gospel Songs

Folk Gospel tunes on YouTube; Have a listen:
Calvary lyrics

There's a hill, lone and gray, in the land far away
In the country beyond the blue sea;
Where beneath that fresh sky, went the man, forth to die
For the world, and for you and for me.

REFRAIN: Oh, it's bow down, my heart, and the teardrops will start
When in memory of the gray hill, I see;
For it was there on that site, Jesus suffered and died
To redeem a poor sinner like me.

Behold, faint on the road, 'neath the world's heavy load
Comes a thorn-crowned man on the way
With a cross he is bowed, but still on through the crowd
He's ascending that hill, lone and gray.

Hark, I hear the dull blow of the hammer swung low
They are nailing my Lord to the tree
And the cross, they up-raise, while the multitude gaze
On the best Lamb of dark Calvary.

How they mocked him in death, to his last laboring breath
While his friends sadly wept over the way
But though lonely and faint, still no word of complaint
Fell from him on the hill of Calv'ry.

Then the darkness came down, and the rocks went around
And a cry pierced the sad, leaden air
'Twas the voice of our King, who received death's dark sting
All to save us from endless despair.

Let the sun hide His face, let the earth reel a space
Over men who their Saviour have slain;
But behold, from the sod, comes a blessed Lamb of God

Who was slain, but has risen again.


Gloryland lyrics

If you have friends in Gloryland,
Who left because of pain;
Thank God up there, they’ll die no more
They’ll suffer not again.

Then weep not friends, I’m going home
Up there we’ll die no more.
No coffins will be made up there,
No graves on that bright shore.

The lame will walk in Gloryland,
The blind up there will see.
The deaf in Gloryland will hear;
The dumb will talk to me.

The doctor will not have to call;
The undertaker – no!
There’ll be no pain up there to bear,
Just walk the streets of gold.

We’ll need no sun in Gloryland,
The moon and stars won’t shine;
For Christ himself is light up there
He reigns of love divine.

Then weep not friends, I’m going home
Up there we’ll die no more.
No coffins will be made up there,
No graves on that bright shore.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Collecting Sacred Harp quotes

Over several years I have posted quotes about Sacred Harp, as well as a few we have confiscated from other sources along the way. Here I intend to compile a list of those in one place – and to limit it to quotes about Sacred Harp and/or quotes by Sacred Harp singers. So I won’t include quotes like “When in doubt, sing loud” by American operatic tenor Robert Merrill or “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing” by New York socialite Florence Foster Jenkins (oh, I just did!). I’ve tried to combine the quotes in some sorts of overarching categories.

Defining it
“The Sacred Harp is a song book odd in shape, with an odd name, and as some think, has odd sounding songs sung by odd people.” -- David Waldrop of Tyler, TX

“Sacred Harp is the heavy metal music of the 19th century.” -- Judy Hauff of Chicago, IL

“Sacred Harp Singing is emotional weight training.” -- Steven T. Schmidgall of Minneapolis MN

Finding it
“Sacred Harp just grabbed me, and I thought, ‘This is the music I’ve been waiting for all my life’.” -- Andrew Albers of Harrison, AR

“If some of you don’t like this music, all I’ve got to say to you is you’d better get out. If you stay here it’s going to get a-hold of you and you can’t get away.” -- Tom Denson to a singing school class, quoted by G. P. Jackson

“Sacred Harp hit all the notes that I was missing in other musical contexts.” -- Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg of Atlanta, GA

Loving it
“My favorite Sacred Harp tune is whatever I’m singing right now.” -- heard from several sources

“There are three things I like about Sacred Harp: I like the songs they sing; I like the way they sing them; and, most of all, I like the folks that sing them.” -- Curtis Owen of Dale, TX, at the 100th Anniversary of the Southwest Texas Convention

“This kind of music here, it comes out of you. There aren’t any guitars or musical instruments, it comes from within you.” -- Sam Craig of Longview, TX, President, East Texas Sacred Harp Convention

“There’s a lot of people that can beat me at singing, but there’s not a whole lot that can beat me a’ lovin’ it.” -- Chester Wootten of Ider, AL

“When I can no longer sing Sacred Harp, I hope to listen. When I can no longer hear, I want to see it. When I can no longer sing, hear, or see, please wheel me in and prop me up against some old singer so I can feel it.” -- Robert L. Vaughn of Oak Flat, TX

Singing it
“Sing it right slow so we can get the juice out of it.” -- Terry Wootten of Ider, AL

“It takes a pound of practice to get an ounce of improvement.” -- Hugh McGraw of Bremen, GA

“The cat’s in the milk and it will have to be strained over.” -- J. L. White, Atlanta, GA, to students at singing school when a song was not being sung correctly (passed on to me by Sandra Wilkinson, whose family members were students of J. L. White)

“I wouldn't cross the street to listen to Sacred Harp, but I’d travel 500 miles to sing it.” -- Hugh McGraw

“It is traditional to let leaders decide on their own way to give their lesson, without the class unnecessarily correcting or overriding them. In the Sacred Harp we are all teachers, singers, and learners and no one person can ‘know it all’ but we can all make an effort.” -- Tom Malone of Boston MA

“Musical instruments kills sacred harp singing, because there’s notes in there that ain’t on no musical instrument.” -- 89 year old Minnie Beatrice Deason Cates of Minden, TX, in “There’s Notes In There That Ain’t On No Musical Instrument” by Cheri Chapman, Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) June 26, 1976, p. D6

Writing it
“I’m not trying to write any jawbreakers; I like a good plain tune best.” -- Marcus Cagle

“The more you sing this music the more you think you might like to put together some of it yourself. Of course you are unencumbered by any kind of training in musical composition – innocent of any experience in the field – but why let little things like that stop you? After all, that’s part of the tradition too, isn’t it?” -- Ted Johnson, quoted in Public Worship, Private Faith

“You write what you feel.” -- Raymond Hamrick of Macon, GA

Sacred Harp and religion
“Anything that divides people, you leave at the door of a singing, whether you’re a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic or atheist.” -- Warren Steel of Oxford, MS

“It’s not a religion. It doesn’t favor any particular denomination. But when you're singing, it’s a religious experience.” -- John Etheridge of Baker, FL

“The music evens out differences between people, and you begin to accept people for who they are.” -- Bill Caldwell of Carterville, Missouri (“You can’t sing at the top of your lungs for six hours a day and share meals with people and then worry about arguing or anything.”)

[Q] Chuck Reese: “People seem to have no concern about one’s denomination or doctrine here. Is that a fair statement?” [A] Henry Johnson: “That’s a fair statement. We may care about it ... But we don’t discuss it at a singing.”

Its shaped notes
“It has shaped notes – helpful for those that need them, unobtrusive to those who don’t.” -- David ‘still learning’ (in Eastern USA)

“I’ve known all along that I’m exactly the guy that William Little and William Smith invented the shapes for.” -- Robert McKay of Albuquerque, NM

Its words and meaning
“I like the old style of singing and the words are so scriptural.” -- Kevin Eddins of Wicksburg, AL

“By today’s standards, the lyrics [of Sacred Harp songs] are like fire and feel better after singing this, cleansed.” -- Gary Hamilton of Crockett, TX

“...the powerful and sometimes sorrowful old sounds of Sacred Harp are alien to modern progress and prosperity which does its best to ignore the harsher aspects of life and death...” -- F. E. Abernethy of Nacogdoches, TX

“The [Sacred Harp] verses don’t spare the dark side of living. Most look forward to happiness in a future heaven and a rough road on the way.” -- Cheri Chapman in “There’s Notes In There That Ain’t On No Musical Instrument,” Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) June 26, 1976, p. D6

Its past and future
“Sacred harp singing is from away back yonder.” -- Minnie Beatrice Deason Cates, Valley Morning Star

“Singing is the understanding, but really and truly, we sing the way it was sung back ... years ago.” -- Dewey Williams of Ozark, AL

“Sacred Harp music is defiantly old-school.” -- Unknown

“In a cultural sense, this is the last outpost of the Old South.” -- Bill Giesenschlag of Snook, TX

“We disagree with the prediction that Sacred Harp music is fast disappearing.” -- J. W. Bassett, Letter to the editor of Birmingham News Monthly Magazine, 1954

“A living tradition changes. If it stopped changing, it would be because it died.” -- David Lee of Hoboken, GA

“I have seen this music go from a national curiosity to a cool pursuit. Keep it healthy by singing it, loving it, and contributing to its future.” -- Martha Beverly of Kalamazoo, MI

“Surely man will not degrade himself below the insects and birds, in thus letting one of his noblest faculties [singing] lie dormant.” -- G. H. Perdue in The Organ, 1855

“It never will wear out. The more you sing it, the better you like it. That’s what we think about The Sacred Harp and the Sacred Harp music.” -- Paine Denson of Cullman, AL (excerpt from an interview by Alan Lomax in Birmingham, Ala., August 1942)

“If God didn’t want this, he would have cut it off way back then.” -- Dewey Williams

Reminiscences and Memories
“Today I seldom hear this music, but when I do, I close my eyes and recall a time when, as far as I knew, the entire world was no bigger and no more complex than our backwoods county. Life was simple, defined by daily chores and lived in rhythm with the seasons.” -- Bob Lively in the Austin American-Statesman, Saturday, February 11, 2006

“The tradition was to sing all morning, have dinner on the grounds, then sing all afternoon. Sing all day long, sitting on a hard wooden bench, in an un-air-conditioned church, in August, with nothing but a cardboard picture of Jesus on a stick between yourself and a heatstroke…If I had been used to spending my Saturdays behind a plow instead of in front of a television, a day of singing ‘fa, so, la’ might have seemed like fun…” -- Karla DeLuca of Nacogdoches, TX in the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel

“There’s a song in this book for every human idea.” -- T. C. Bailey of Arab, AL, 1959

“God Himself, in the beginning, set all things to music, even before man was made...” -- J. S. James in The History of the Sacred Harp, 1904

“It’s called harp even though there ain’t no harp because the songs has a Bible platform.” -- Minnie Beatrice Deason Cates, Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) June 26, 1976, p. D6

“What a beautiful ramshackle racket. Needs to be heard loud.” -- Paul in Nottingham, England

“Nothing is weirder than Sacred Harp. Its favored subject matter--the pilgrim, the grave, Christ’s blood--is stark; its style--severe fourths and otherworldly open fifths--has been obsolete for more than a century. Its notation, in which triangles, circles and squares indicate pitch, looks like cuneiform. Yet it exudes power and integrity. Five people sound like a choir; a dozen like a hundred.” -- From “Give Me That Old-Time Singing”

“It’s different from mainstream church music. It’s primitive, enticing and ethereal, all at the same time. It’s a very powerful form of worship.” -- Renè Greene of Glencoe

“It almost seemed you could stand up and walk on it.” -- Buell Cobb of Birmingham, AL

“These were not professional singers, just bold ones. And my goodness, were they loud!” -- Jim Grey

“The sound is always better than the sum of its parts.” -- Jim Grey

“If one can sing at all, it is possible to sing this music. Indeed, if one cannot sing at all, one can sing this music; the resulting wrong notes will easily be absorbed in the enthusiastic tumult of everything else that is going on.” -- Neely Bruce of Middletown, CT

“The weird harmonic overtones and dour lyrics of sacred harp singing make it a unique musical form.” -- Cheri Chapman in "There’s Notes In There That Ain’t On No Musical Instrument", Valley Morning Star 

“As for the sound of the booming ‘fa- sol- la's’, I always associated that with the sad notes of the exiled Children of Israel, when they ‘hung their harps on a willow tree’.” -- Sara Jane Overstreet

“Get enough people singing weird harmonies at the top of their voices and you start feeling a little sorry for the devil.” -- Joe Dempsey

“Why leave us longer in a three-cornered state of affairs, but come together as a family whose chain is now broken and give us the privilege of working under one vine and fig tree?” -- C. J. Griggs, 1936, A Sketch or Brief History of the Sacred Harp Song Book

[Q] Ron Pen: Why are Sacred Harp books shaped oblong? [A] Hugh McGaw: “Why, Ron, it fits into your lap that way.”

And when attending a singing:
“Be sure and bring your books that open the long way!” -- From a singing announcement in the Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light (Corsicana, Texas) Tuesday, August 16, 1927, p. 5

[Note: my apologies for quoting myself, but since it was used on the Bremen Sacred Harp web site, I decided to use it.]