Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spliting Hairs and Atoms

We should all have a zeal for the truth, contend for the truth, and fine-tune our beliefs in accordance with the truth. It is appropriate and necessary at times to debate among ourselves in an effort to know the truth of a matter. In fact, this is one of the many ways in which we learn. But in an attempt to do what is right, and be right, we sometimes go too far entering into a vain, futile, unprofitable, unfruitful, judgmental activity. In wanting to be right all the time about every single thing we demonstrate our folly. When the focus on what really matters regarding the truth is lost and we begin hair splitting, we follow in the spirit of old scholasticism. It was common place for the Scholastic to debate so tediously that they gained a reputation for arguing about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. When we obsess to this point, we do damage and injustice to truth in the kingdom of God; all the while thinking we are doing a good thing; thinking God is own our side; that God needs us to stand up for him. What foolishness!
Our hair splitting only becomes explosive and destructive. It should be better classified under the science of atom splitting according to the natural sciences. Truth is lost and what becomes the object of attention is nothing more than triviality. This is not beneficial and not done for the glory of God, but the glory of man. This is not honorable in the sight of God. It causes divisions among ourselves, and makes a spectacle to the world. Agree to disagree. State your point. If it is truth it will be made evident by God as he sees fit. Otherwise it will be yet another witness against sinful obstinacy and arrogance.
What does it hurt, but by contrast, how much more good is there to be gained in yielding our opinion and allowing the opinion of others to stand at times?
We cannot force anyone to see the truth of spiritual matters. God reveals these things to us. Small matters, and this is what I speak of, should not worry us nor divide us. Even when dealing with false teachers on major issues we should have reservation and avoid foolish controversies (Titus 3:9).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Being Original in Writing

I have been struggling with the idea of writing a book or two. There is a big part of me that says that there is no need to. Our culture is running on information overload in a sense. I rationalize that what I might say has already been said and--I am sure better! I further reason that there are multitudes of solid Christian writers out there and they are doing a great job so what need is there for me to add anything?
All through school we are exhorted to be original when writing term papers, i.e. say something new. This progresses when it comes to writing prospectuses, theses and doctoral dissertations, though somewhere along the way "research" in integrated in. I guess to save face.
I have always been frustrated with this and want to respond by saying, what's the bibliography for again? Or, I read your book and there was nothing new there!
Well, though it has probably already been said, and said better (There is nothing new under the sun anyhow right?), I realize the point is that we all have our part to do. Someone may not read Augustine or Calvin, but they may pick up something current (Lord help em if it's mine). So, there is our responsibility as regards this, but also I seem to learn better when taking something in and then putting it back out. So there is a personal beneficial advantage in this regard.
I conclude this matter then by saying, though there may not be anything I can add that's new, I will nevertheless press forward with the matter of the writing of books. Indeed I hope that I do not add anything new at all for in my subject area this would be heresy, creative perhaps, but not new. It is the old that I am interested in; not the new, because what is new is not always true. Even current topics being addressed by Christian writers today for the most part are not new but old ideas in new clothes. There are exceptions or course, especially in the field of medical ethics, but there is not usually some ting absolutely new and original. So I will stick with the old and say what has been said and what will continue to be said until the end, that Jesus saves sinners! Unless Martians land and then I may write a book on the nature of Martians, or something, in light of scripture.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mounce on Greek

"I have seen a rather interesting pattern develop. The only people I have heard say that Greek is not important are those who do not themselves know Greek. Strange (William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek).

Greek Again

Just when I thought I was done with seminary for a while I find myself having to do some "leveling" work to satisfy demands of Ph.D. applications. So I am back at RTS taking Greek-again! My biblical languages are only on the college level and must be brought up to standard with that of the graduate level. We are using the same textbook and my college professor of Greek was and is as good as they come. But praise God I will know Greek! Bureaucracy at its finest! But God in his wisdom!!
I am reminded of when I was in graduate school at USM. There were college students taking some of the same courses as the grad students. We used the same text books, had the same professor, took the same tests, etc., but one was labeled graduate the other undergraduate. I hope they don't have to do leveling work like me.

I am taking on a better attitude having been somewhat discouraged by the bureaucrats lately. I do not intend to complain (maybe I am), but hope to see all things in faith. Sometimes problems need to be pointed out though don't they?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Theologians and Philosophers

In my opinion the greatest theologian of all time was Augustine. Second to Augustine is John Calvin who is similar to him. I like Thomas Aquinas a lot as well. One could spend a lifetime immersed in the writings of these theological giants. They are my favorites. Do not go through life without at least reading their best works. As for philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are the best of the best. Of course there are some fine living theologians and philosophers too as there have been throughout all of history. There is, however, a high standard to live up to as we walk in the shadows of giants that have gone before us.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Don Kistler Quote

Don Kistler preached today at Saint Paul's on 2 Samuel 23:1-5. Here is a quote from the sermon (according to the best of my memory).

"There is more right with God than is wrong with me" (Don Kistler).


Lord guard my heart so that all of my affections are in direct accord with your will; enlighten my mind so all of my understanding comes from you; guard my tongue so that all I speak about is you. Direct my sight toward heaven so all I see is you. Keep me from foolish actions and spurious decisions that are not thought out and do harm rather than good.
I love you above all things on earth. Your word is more valuable to me than anything to me. It brings me great joy and happiness to study it. Your word is the source of all true knowledge and wisdom. Teach me its mysteries. Bring me clarity of understanding of all things revealed in it. It is a light to my soul. It is a guide for my path. But Lord do not leave me void of your presence. Walk with me as you did with Enoch. Show me your glory as you did for Moses. Give me a double portion of your Spirit as you did for Elisha. Give me wisdom as that of Solomon. Give me Jesus who died for me! For he is the summation of what it is that I ask. Forgive me of my sins and do not hide your face from me but look at Jesus in my stead. I grow weary of this world and all of the evil in it. I can only find peace in you. Keep me fixated on you. Keep my family as an object of your favor. I love my wife as the one you have given me, but help my love of her to increase. I love my children as they are gifts from you. Teach me the example of fatherhood. Bless them as you have blessed me in this life. Watch over them and bring them into close fellowship with you. As for the one to be adopted, give her comfort and peace.
Let us know what your will is for us and we will do it no matter what the cost may be in life or in death. (A prayer Robert N. Landrum)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

a Kempis

"I am he who in a moment can so lift up the mind of a humble man that he has a firmer grasp of the ways of eternal truth than the man who has spent ten years studying the subject at a University" (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation Pg. 178).

Friday, September 14, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"You may have done a lot of reading, and found out a great deal about a variety of subjects, but the basic fact you must always come back to is this: that I am (God) he who teaches men whatever they know; to those of child-like simplicity I give a cleareer understanding than any man can teach (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation Pg. 177-8).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why all of the quotes?

Sometimes I am tired and do not feel like putting thought to paper, but nevertheless I still want to share what I am thinking about in an easy fashion such as a quotation. Sometimes I don't have anything to say. And more often than not they have said it better than I can.

a Kempis Quote

"Never read anything to enable you to appear better--educated or wiser than your fellows. What you ought to study is the way to kill off your worst faults; that will do you far more good than knowing all about a number of vexatious problems" (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation 177).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"You must not let yourself be impressed by the fine and clever things you hear men say; it is power that builds up the kingdom of God, not words" (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation Pg. 177).

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Think of how Job changed his opinion of himself and God--how he was exposed in that he was not quite as righteous in his eyes as he thought he was and his knowledge of God was not as superior as he believed it to be--and how his many reasonings of self justification and arguments testifying to the solidity of his righteousness fell to pieces upon finding himself in the very immediate presence of God. His revised knowledge of himself and God is voiced in these words: "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my every see you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5,6).

Calvin Quote

"Because nothing appears in us or around us that has not been contaminated by great immorality, what is a little less vile pleases us as a thing most pure--so long as we continue our minds within the limits of human corruption....So it happens in estimating our spiritual goods. As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods...Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty" (Calvin, Institutes Bk. I Pg. 38-39).

Friday, September 7, 2007

Isaiah 11:6

Is this sort of what it is going to be like in the future age to come?

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. - Isaiah 11:6 (ESV)

Bureaucracy and the Will of God

Please do not take the following as sinful complaining. I hope it is not at least. I don't think there is a conspiracy theory out to get me, this is just how I have been feeling lately! I am voicing this in an effort to train my thoughts on this truth. "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2) Romans may be a more relevant place to quote from but I like this verse and it is a truth that God's purposes are inclusive of us and our purpose.
Does it ever seem like you have been hogtied by the bureaucrat's red tape? Well I have had my fill of it lately! Not wanting to cast a shadow of ill repute on certain institutional setups I will be as vague here as I can and still make my point.

Educational Bureaucracy: When is enough enough? For those in academics the credentials that one has to have are never ending. It seems as if by the time I satisfy all of the demands I will be ready to retire! And no matter where you go or who you study under, it is never the right school or professor! Looking into PhD. programs lately I am horrified at the requirements for admission policies. GPA's, GRE's, leveling work, equivalency standards, already earned degree subject relevance, out of site tuition costs, reference letters, writing samples, and I am out of breath! I don't think Socrates, Plato and Aristotle would make it into some of these programs, and it is a definite that divine intervention will be necessary for me to get into one (as it has been the case in every instance so far). Who makes these rules up? I am not opposed to high standards but it seems as if we run the risk of and are indeed filtering out many fine capable people.
Along these lines let me take a rabbit trail and vent a bit more by saying that I have always despised most modern methods of testing. I am reminded of a college professor that said "don't loose heart if you don't do well on my test. It only points out what you don't know, it does not really test what you do know!" Is there not some truth in this? And it is also said that to do well on tests today one merely has to memorize what the teacher says and give it back just the way they want it. What is lacking here is critical thinking!

Ministerial Bureaucracy: Some denominations will make you the pastor if you show the slightest spark of interest in things spiritual while other denominations would have your knowledge surpass Jesus'. In being zealous to make our ministers qualified we sometimes raise the bar too high don't you think? If we wait on bureaucracy to balance itself (an impossible contradiction) in this respect we do injustice to the true biblical qualifications of ministry.

Vocational Bureaucracy: I am all for being fair but if you haven't noticed affirmative action has turned on the white American male in many instances. And then there is the classic "you have to have experience." How do you get experience without being given the opportunity? I realize this overlooks apprentice-type experience, but you get the point.

Let us not forget these things if we are ever awarded the red tape gun dispenser responsibility! It will not turn the world upside down if we season things with little bit of common sense.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Science and Religion

"In fact much bad science is the product of bad religion. There is nothing more destructive to good religion than bad religion with a closed mind." (Robert N. Landrum Science Religion and Cosmology, World View Ministries Blog).

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"As the good man saith, so say we;
But as the good wife saith so it must be.

Cunning servants will approve of what the master says, and yet feel sure that the mistress will have her own way. As they are much in the house and observe how matters go, they come as a rule to a true conclusion when they reckon that the lady of the house will practically carry her point. Well, it is best it should be so. The house is the woman's dominion, and her husband should let her reign, saying, 'Only in the throne will I be greater than thou.' He will be wise seldom to sit on that throne" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars Pg. 52).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

John Owen Quote

"What John bare record of was God's word, not words about God" (Owen, Biblical Theology Pg. 6).

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day Thought

More often than not I find myself complaining about something work related. In fact there is a big part of me that doesn't like work at all. It is no wonder, because the curse on Adam and the natural world make work what it is--WORK! We collect our bread by the sweat of our brow.
I grew up in construction and have leaned on my skills for most of my life. This is hard work. It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I have to remind myself that though work as described is curse related it is also sanctioned by God. On six days we work. The seventh we rest. This cycle is representative of what we have in Christ, "rest," and what our state will be like ultimately on the last day. When I think of this I remember that there is something to be gained from work. There is a sense of worth that is to be found in labor. The sloth is hard at work, in a sense, doing his thing--though there is no sense of value and dignity for him.
What is it that we are working for anyways? First, temporally speaking we work for life's provisions.We work for our bread, shelter, and worldly needs (and wants). We need to eat, have clothing, and have a place to live. All of this is accomplished through work. Even the rich are at work maintaining their riches. Most things that we work for in this life are fleeting --reflecting the imperfections of this world. A new car always gets a scratch or a rock in the windshield. Eventually it gets old and needs to be replaced. We just bought a new refrigerator and it already has two broken shelves. I damaged a utility trailer at work and have to pay for it to be repaired. Such things are always with us. Our earthly homes bear the marks of impermanence, both our physical houses and our bodies. All will return to where it came from. Secondly, we work eternally for God's glory and kingdom and a reward that does not perish.
Spurgeon said that a smart man works by the sweat of his mind and not his brow. But I find that both are work. So whether you are on a construction site, in a seminary or university library, pushing a pencil behind a desk, or digging ditches, do all for the glory of God!

By the way shouldn't labor day be called leisure day?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hoekema Quote

"Above all, we should be encouraged by the conviction that our sanctification is ultimately not our achievement but God's gift, since Christ is our sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30)....The fact that the Christian finds himself in tension between what he already possesses in Christ and what he does not yet enjoy implies that he should see himself as an imperfect new person. Yet the emphasis should fall, not on the continued imperfection, but on the newness. To lay the emphasis on the imperfection instead of on the newness is to turn the New Testament upside down. As Oscar Cullmann puts it, for the Christian believer today the already outweighs the not yet" (Anthony A. Hoekema The Bible and the future Pg. 71).