Monday, February 28

Know Your Dead Guys are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God's household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 NET)

All believers everywhere and throughout all ages are being built into a glorious building: God's house, a holy temple. Without question, the preeminent person in the building is Christ. The apostles and prophets who cooperatively form the foundation of our temple are important, too. They're dead, but they still speak to us through their written testimony, and we join with them in forming the one dwelling place of God.

But how well do you know the other dead guys--the rest of the no-longer-living contributors to God's building? They're not apostles and prophets in the same sense that Peter and Paul and James and all the others were, and their writings aren't God breathed like the apostles' were, either. Still, they stand with us in the temple construction; they are part of the ever-growing temple of God.

They, too, can teach us. They faced different battles than we do, so their strengths may have been in different areas than ours. Where they were successful, we can copy them. We can learn from their missteps, too. We have the advantage of hindsight, which allows us to examine their mistakes in a way they couldn't, and this gives us an opportunity to avoid making the sames ones.

Many of these believer lived in more difficult times and places than we do, so they had a depth of insight and faith that we don't. If you've read some of the quotes, poetry, and sermons from the Puritans posted here over the past month, you've seen firsthand how they expressed the beauty of Christ, the depth of God's love, and the wonder of salvation with a richness that's hard to find among our contemporary writers. We don't know those things the way they knew them because we haven't experienced what they experienced, but we can catch a glimpse of what they knew and experienced in the writings they've left for us.

From J. I. Packer in Why We Need the Puritans:
The Puritans lost, more or less, every public battle that they fought. Those who stayed in England did not change the Church of England as they hoped to do, nor did they revive more than a minority of its adherents, and eventually they were driven out of Anglicanism by calculated pressure on their consciences. Those who crossed the Atlantic failed to establish new Jerusalem in New England; for the first fifty years their little colonies barely survived. They hung on by the skin of their teeth. But the moral and spiritual victories that the Puritans won by keeping sweet, peaceful, patient, obedient, and hopeful under sustained and seemingly intolerable pressures and frustrations give them a place of high honor in the believers' hall of fame, where Hebrews 11 is the first gallery. It was out of this constant furnace-experience that their maturity was wrought and their wisdom concerning discipleship was refined.
Yes, we need the wisdom and maturity of the Puritans, but it's not only the Puritans who can help make our spiritual lives richer and our faith stronger. There are the church fathers, along with men like Augustine and Anselm; the Reformers, the Anabaptists, the Methodists, and many more. None of them are perfect, some are more flawed than others, but we can learn from them all.

When Jesus prayed for his disciples just before he was crucified, he also prayed for those who would believe in him through their testimony. That means he was praying for you and for me right alongside the other dead guys--the ones that came after the apostles and prophets, but before us.
I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one--I in them and you in me--that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me. (John 17: 20-23)
Jesus prayed that we would all be one: his disciples and all those through the ages who read their words and respond in faith. If we're one with the dead guys, shouldn't we get to know them?

The Puritans: Are You Puritan Savvy?

Yes, it's a pop quiz. You've had a month to get to know them. How much have you learned?

You can find out by checking your Puritan I.Q. All the answers can be found either directly or indirectly in this month's Puritan posts.

Entry Info for this Week's Christian Carnival

This week's Christian Carnival this week is at
Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet
. From Diane R.:

It's Christian Carnival time already for March 2.

If you wish to submit a blog post from the past week, simply put the following in an email:

Your blog name and the blog URL.
The name of the post you are submitting and the post URL.
A short description of the post.

Remember that we are now sending all Carnival submissions to the official Carnival email at: [ChristianCarnival ATT gmail DOTT com].....

The deadline for submissions is midnight (EST), Tuesday, March 1.

Thank you for your participation.

Consider entering your blog's best from this past week. You can check out the guidelines here.

Sunday, February 27

The Puritans: Sunday's Hymn and Sermon

From John Newton:

Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Holy city of our God;
He whose word cannot be broken
Formed thee for His own abode;
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
Thou may'st smile at all thy foes.

See the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love,
Well supply thy blessed members,
And all fear of want remove;
Who can faint, when such a river
Ever flows their thirst t' assuage?
Grace which, like the Lord, the giver,
Never fails from age to age.

Blest constituents of Zion,
Washed in the Redeemer's blood;
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them kings and priests to God.
'Tis His love His people raises
Over self to reign as kings:
And as priests, His worthy praises,
Each his thankful offering brings.

Savior, if of Zion's city
I, through grace, a member am,
Let the world deride or pity--
I will glory in Thy name.
Fading is the worldling's pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion's members know.


The Fruits of Converting Grace in the Salvation of Sinners from Stephen Charnock is the featured sermon for this Sunday. On Christ's salvation of great sinners:
Christ's nature leads him to shew mercy to the greatest sinners. Some question whether Christ will pardon them, for they look upon him as a hard master, that will not easily forgive. But Christ gives another character of himself, Mat. 11:28, 29, when he exhorts men to come to him; he tells them they must not judge him to be of a ragged and implacable nature, but as meek as they are sinful. Meekness is seen in pardoning of injuries, not keeping them in memory, to beget and cherish revenge. Now, the greater the provocation, the more transcendent is that meekness to pass it by. Did he ever upbraid any with their offences, and hit them in the teeth with their former extravagances? Luke 7:44. Christ makes a narrative of Mary's acts of kindness to him, but not a syllable of her foul transgressions. Are thy sins so great? Surely Christ, who delights in his compassions, will not lose such an opportunity of evidencing both his power and his pity upon such a subject; for if there cannot be so great a sinner as thou art, he is never like to have such a season for it, if he miss of thee.

Christ was exalted by God upon this very account: 'Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,' Heb. 7:25. How comes Christ to be so able to save to the uttermost? It is 'because he ever lives to make intercession for them.' For whom? For those that come to God by him. What has Christ his life in heaven for, but to intercede? And would his Father's love to him, and the greatness of his interest in God be discovered by granting some small requests, the pardon of a few and little sins? Christ is consecrated priest by the oath of God, Heb. 7:28; would God put himself to his oath for a light business, a thing of little moment? 'What is the end of this oath? Compare it with: 'For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath,' Heb. 6:16-18; and all is that you 'might have a strong consolation.' What strong comfort could there be, if only little debts were remitted? What is the end of an oath? Ver. 16, to take away strife. Men do not strive with God, or doubt of his mercy to forgive little sins, for they think that will be done of course. But the great contest men have with God is about his willingness to remit great debts, scarlet sins: upon this account the strife is between God and doubting sinners; therefore, to bring this contest to a period, God hath put himself to his oath, and sworn that Christ should be a priest for ever, to take away all strife between him and believing sinners. For whom is this strong consolation founded upon God's oath? For those that 'fly for refuge,' ver. 18. Now the cities of refuge were not appointed for ordinary crimes, but for blood, to secure the malefactor from the avenger.

Shall I add further, God is best pleased with Christ when he makes intercession for the greatest transgressors. Suppose thou hadst been one of Christ's murderers, and hadst given thy vote against him; perhaps thou wouldst have thought this a more crimson sin than any thou art guilty of. You know Christ prayed for their pardon while he was upon the cross; and, God gives this as one reason why he would exalt him: 'He shall divide him, &c., Isa. 53:12. Why? 'Because he poured out his soul to death.' What should he bear sin for, if God had no mind to pardon it? And because 'he was numbered among the transgressors,' which the evangelist understands of his being crucified with thieves, Mark 15:28. And therefore his making intercession for transgressors, must be understood of his prayer upon the cross. And if God did exalt him for this, would God be pleased with him, or would Christ answer the end of his exaltation, if he did cease to make intercession for sinners of the like stamp? Go and tell God, that he sent Christ to bless you, Acts 3:26, in converting you; and desire Christ to do his office.

Christ is entrusted by God to give out his grace to great sinners. Christ is God's Lord-almoner, for the dispensing redemption, and the riches of his grace. To whom? Not to the righteous, they have no need of it but to sinners, and those that have the greatest necessity. He would be an ill steward, who, when entrusted by his lord to bestow his alms upon the poor, should overlook the most miserable, indigent, and necessitous persons, when they crave it of him, and relieve those that had not so great and crying wants. Christ is a priest for intents of the same nature as the legal typical priests were. They were to have compassion, Heb. 5:2, metriopaqein, to measure out their compassion, to order the sacrifice according to the nature of the sin of the person that presented it. So is Christ, by virtue of his office, to measure out his grace according to the greatness of a man's necessity, as manna was to be gathered according to every one's wants.

---Life and Character of Steven Charnock

Saturday, February 26

The Puritans: From John Newton

On Dreaming

When slumber seals our weary eyes,
The busy fancy wakeful keeps;
The scenes which then before us rise,
Prove something in us never sleeps.

As in another world we seem,
A new creation of our own,
All appears real, though a dream,
And all familiar, though unknown.

Sometimes the mind beholds again
The past day's business in review,
Resumes the pleasure or the pain;
And sometimes all we meet is new.

What schemes we form, what pains we take!
We fight, we run, we fly, we fall;
But all is ended when we wake,
We scarcely then a trace recall.

But though our dreams are often wild,
Like clouds before the driving storm;
Yet some important may be styl'd,
Sent to admonish or inform.

What mighty agents have access,
What friends from heav'n, or foes from hell,
Our minds to comfort or distress,
When we are sleeping, who can tell?

One thing, at least, and 'tis enough,
We learn from this surprising fact;
Our dreams afford sufficient proof,
The soul, without the flesh, can act.

This life, which mortals so esteem,
That many choose it for their all,
They will confess, was but a dream,***
When 'waken'd by death's awful call.

***Isaiah 29:8

From John Piper: John Newton: The Tough Roots of His Habitual Tenderness.

Friday, February 25

Update: More on Canadian Tire

...and My Fabulous Gay Wedding. Look at the letter a commenter received recently in response to his complaint to Canadian Tire about CT's sponsorship of the show. Compare that to the one I received last week. Especially notice the differences in the first two paragraphs.

Do they seem contradictory to you? What do you think is going on?

[Update to this update: When Kevin, the commenter who got the most recent form letter from Canadian Tire asked for clarification of their seemingly contradictory statements, he received this response:
Since last week we have recevied (sic) additional information and clarification from our advertising department. The statement that was previously sent to you is correct. Canadian Tire is not a sponsor of this program.
There you go. The whole convoluted straight scoop.]

The Puritans: From William Guthrie

From a sermon on Ps. xlv. 11; preached Aug. 17, 1657.

Of Him, Through Him, to Him.

The first failing in our duty is in this, we forget that God is the Lord; especially in one of these three respects -

  • That of Him are all things. It is He that must prescribe laws, and He that must give knowledge of and respect unto these laws. And He it is whose breath and influence alone make dead dry bones live and move. 0, what holy, awful dependency would be on Him in all things, natural and spiritual, if this were believed! But the faith of it must be from Him also.

  • That through Him are all things. When He hath set them on foot, they cannot continue in their being but through Him, and as they are and have sparkles of His image, and are fluttered over by that Spirit that moved on the waters. 0, what self-denial, and adhering to Him, would be here in things which are, as well as in things which are not; for what is, it is as in Him, whence, if it depart, it is nothing, if not worse.

  • That to Him are all things. Not only is He the last end for whom all things are made, and towards whom they do drive; but the proper end of each being is that God may be made manifest. He will, by all things that are, whatsoever they be, some one way or other appear to be what He is; so that whatsoever is be, some must be to His account and behoof. 0, what abstractedness from your created ends and designs, and what reverent submission to His will, would be in men, if folk did practically believe this!
    Study to know Him, in these three respects to be the Lord. It shall contribute much for your duty.

    Biography of William Guthrie.

    The picture is of the inside of Fenwick Church where Guthrie preached.
  • |

    Responding to Comments on Inability, Continued

    Yes, I am finally getting back to this. The comment I am responding to today is from Robin Munn, and I'll post a chunk of the comment for you to read, and then I'll give my response:
    The verse that I have trouble reconciling with that is 2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord ... is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."

    Since people in their natural state are unable to reach repentance on their own, but it takes action from God to bring them to repentance, then a face-value reading of this verse would seem to indicate universalism, that all men will be saved. After all, if God doesn't wish them to perish -- and He alone is able to change that -- then why wouldn't He?
    It seems that by "face-value" reading, Robin means a reading that takes the "not wishing" in the verse to indicate the sort of will of God that God actively works to bring about. I don't think it's necessary to take it that way for the verse to be taken at face value. The word for "wishing" often has the force of longing rather than the force of resolve to do something. So it doesn't have to mean that God is actively working within those he is longsuffering toward to bring them to faith, but just that he is in no hurry to bring them to judgment because he it doesn't please him to bring judgment upon anyone. We see this same idea in Ezekial 33:11:
    Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but prefer that the wicked change his behavior and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil deeds! Why should you die, O house of Israel?’
    There is no pleasure for God in destroying the wicked, and yet that's exactly what, in the end, he does. He sovereignly wills their death even though it's not something he takes pleasure in.

    There is another way this verse is explained, but it's not one I'm buying right now, although I've waffled back and forth on this in the past, and there's a possibility I'll waffle again in the future. Some notice that this verse is addressed to the "beloved", and so they restrict the "any" in the verse to "any of the elect", and if the verse is read this way then it's saying that Christ is waiting to return because if he came back before the elect came to faith, then some of the elect would perish. The last part of this statement is indeed true, but I don't think it's necessarily what this particular verse is saying. I find reading the verse that way is a little more forced than I am completely comfortable with.

    If the verse is read in context, I think it's primary meaning is actually a combination of these two. It is specific to the group to whom Peter is writing, which includes believers and those who have so far proved themselves to still be unbelievers. Some of the group are being misled by the false teachers and doubting that the Lord would ever return because he's taking longer than they expected. Peter seems to be saying that instead of doubting God's promises because he seems slow to keep this one, they ought to see his slowness as a kindness toward them because it gives them opportunity to repent before he comes. I would see the force of the verb "wishing" to still be just "longing", rather than "resolving to work it out". I don't think Peter is saying that God is going to bring every single person in their group to repentence, but rather that the proper way for them to view God's restraint in judgment is that this gives them a real opportunity to repent, and that God gives them ample opportunity to repent because he takes no pleasure in anyone perishing. God's longsuffering gives them an opportunity to "strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when [they] come into his presence. (2 Peter 3:14)" The patience of the Lord is their opportunity for salvation (3:15).

    I suppose some will find this confusing, because they think that if people are unable to believe without God's intervention within them to give them faith, then unless God intervenes in this way there is no real opportunity for them to believe. I believe that every time someone hears the gospel, there is a real opportunity for them to believe. However, unless God intervenes to change their prejudice against the gospel, they will invariably squander that opportunity and reject the gospel. Every person hearing the message of Jesus in John 6 had the opportunity to believe it, but some didn't believe it, and they didn't believe it because "no one can come to [Christ] unless the Father has given him to come (verse 65)."

    Thursday, February 24

    The Puritans: From Thomas Watson

    Found in The Worst Things Work for Good to the Godly from A Divine Cordial.

    DO not mistake me, I do not say that of their own nature the worst things are good, for they are a fruit of the curse; but though they are naturally evil, yet the wise overruling hand of God disposing and sanctifying them, they are morally good. As the elements, though of contrary qualities, yet God has so tempered them, that they all work in a harmonious manner for the good of the universe. Or as in a watch, the wheels seem to move contrary one to another, but all carry on the motions of the watch: so things that seem to move cross to the godly, yet by the wonderful providence of God work for their good.

    A biography of Thomas Watson.

    Wednesday, February 23

    Round the Sphere Again

    Good stuff on Bible Versions:
    Puritan Links:
    Christian Carnival:

    The Puritans: More from Ralph Erskine

    The Free Gospel-Call

    from Isa. 55:1-3

    Ho, every thirsty soul, and all
    That poor and needy are,
    Here's water of salvation's well
    For you to come and share.

    Here's freedom from sin and woe,
    And blessings all divine,
    Here streams of love and mercy flow,
    Like floods of milk and wine.

    Approach the fountain head of bliss,
    That's open like the sea,
    The buyers that are moneyless,
    To poorest beggars free.

    Why spend you all your wealth and pains,
    For that which is not bread,
    And for unsatisfying gains,
    On which no soul can feed ?

    While vain ye seek with earthly toys,
    To fill an empty mind,
    You lose immortal solid joys,
    And feed upon the wind.

    Incline your ear, and come to me;
    Hear and your soul shall live:
    For mercies sure as well as free,
    I bind myself to give.

    Tuesday, February 22

    The Puritans: From John Howe

    John Howe was Oliver Cromwell's Chaplain. This is an exerpt from Funeral Discourse for the Death of Queen Mary


    Her singular humility adorned all the rest. Speaking once of a good thing, which she intended, she added: 'but of myself I can do nothing;' and somewhat being, (by one of two more only, then present,) interposed, she answered: 'she hoped God would help her.' She is, as the text speaks, gone to Mount Sion, in the highest sense of that phrase....

    We should look upon funeral solemnities for such, with more prospect than retrospect, and consider them as directing our eye less downward to our own forsaken world than upwards to the celestial regions and inhabitants. To such, - to die is to be born; they die only out of our mean world, and are born into a most glorious one. Their funerals should be celebrations of their ascent; and an exulting joy should therefore, in that case, not be quite banished from funeral sorrows, but be allowed to mingle therewith, as sunbeams glittering in a cloud. When the greatest person was leaving this world, that ever lived in it, he says: "If ye loved me, ye would rejoice that I say, I go to the Father."

    We should bear our part in the joys of heaven upon this occasion, if we relate to it. And when we are told there is joy there, among the angels of God, for the conversion of such who are thereby but prepared to come to their assembly, we may conclude there is much more for their glorification, when they are fully come and joined to it. Funeral solemnities are very dull melancholy shows, without such references forwards and upwards. With how different a temper of mind would two persons have been the spectators of Jacob's funeral, the one of whom should have looked no further than the Canaanites or Egyptians did, who would only say,'Some great person is dead;' but the other, by Divine illumination is enabled to apprehend.

    This dust here mingles with the earth of this land, to presignify this people, of whom he was the head, must possess it. Yea, moreover, here the great God will fix his residence and throne; upon such a mount shall be the palace of the supreme King. Here, after great mutations and revolutions, and great destructions both of the Egyptians and Canaanites, shall this people have a long succession of princes and rulers that shall be of themselves: and all this but as representing a King and kingdom that shall rule and spread over all the earth, and reach up at length into heaven. Canaan shall be a holy land. Unto Sion's King shall tributary princes bring their gifts out of Egypt, and Ethiopia stretch out her hands, and all nations serve him. His empire shall confine with the universe, and all power be given him both in heaven and earth.' With what a large and raised mind would such a one have beheld this funeral ! - What better Canaan, than we now behold, we shall have in this world, God knows; and we should be the less solicitous to know intermediate things, when we are so fully ascertained of the glorious end of all things. And. let us reflect upon the solemn pomp of that late mournful assembly, that lamented our queen's departure out of our world, comparing it with the transcendent magnificence of that triumphant assembly into which she is received above.

    Biography of John Howe

    Interview Questions

    Links to the individual posts answering these questions are found at the bottom of this post.

    For Terry of Pruitt Communications:

    1. What is geocaching and how long have you been doing it?
    2. What do you like to eat for breakfast?
    3. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
    4. What's the best thing about being a dad?
    5. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

    For Rey of The Bible Archive:

    1. Who are the Plymouth Brethern and how did you get to be one?
    2. If someone gave you $1000 dollars and said you had to spend it on yourself, what would you buy?
    3. What's your favorite movie of all time?
    4. What's the best thing about being a dad?
    5. Tell us one of your pet peeves.

    For Gina of jumpin in:

    1. What's the best thing about being a mom?
    2. What would be your dream vacation?
    3. What's NOI, and what did you have to do to get it?
    4. What's your family's favorite meal?
    5. Just how many bloggers are there in your family?

    For Tod of It Takes A Church:

    1. How long have you liked the Puritans?
    2. Who is your favorite Puritan?
    3. What's the best thing about being a pastor?
    4. What's the best book you've read in the last 12 months?
    5. If you had to live outside the U.S. for a year, where would you choose to live?

    For David of Physicist's Perspective:

    1. When did you know you wanted to be a physicist?
    2. When's the last time you went snowboarding?
    3. What's the best book you've read in the last 12 months?
    4. If you had to live in a state other than California, which one would you choose?
    5. If someone gave you $1000 dollars and said you had to spend it on yourself, what would you buy?

    [Update: I've added William of Beyond the Rim to the interviewees:

    1. This question assumes that your church is liturgical. If I'm wrong, you can ignore this question or ask for a different one. What is one strength you see in liturgy?
    2. What happened to the Knowing God series?
    3. What's the best book you've read in the last 12 months?
    4. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
    5. How did you meet your wife?]

    [Update II: For Catez of Allthings2all:

    1. What’s the best thing about the place where you live in?
    2. How do you research the pieces you write? Library? Internet? Your own books?
    3. Speaking of books, do you have lots of them?
    4. Do you have a favorite meal or dish?
    5. Share one of your pet peeves.]

    Rey, William. Terry, Tod, David, Gina and Catez have all answered. Read their responses and get to know them a little better.

    Monday, February 21

    In Which I Play the Interview Game, and So Can You!

    Carmon of Buried Treasure started this game this morning. I'm being interviewed by Kim of Upward Call. If you want to participate, the instructions follow my answers to the questions Kim asks of me.
    1. Do you have a very large book selection? I have a lot more books than most people have, but compared to some people I know, I have nothing. I have three 6 foot sets of bookshelves full in the living room, and each of the three kids that still have rooms at home has a set of shelves full of books in their rooms. Plus, I have a couple of hundred outgrown kids paperback chapter books stacked up on a table in the basement waiting for me to sort through them and do something with them. I almost never buy books new. I get them at garages sales, used book stores and the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

    2. Where do you get all that stuff about the Puritans? I type "Puritans" in the Google search engine. Really. I do have hardback set of Classic Sermons that I got at the Salvation Army Thrift Store that I thought I'd use, but the internet is so much easier. And more interesting.

    3. What is your favourite time of the year in the Yukon? Definitely summer. There's nothing quite so wonderful as a Yukon summer. Perfect weather (we hope) and long daylight hours.

    4. What is your favourite Mark Knopfler recording? (my husband would shoot me if I didn't ask a fellow fan that question) Will he want to shoot me if I say that I'm not a big Dire Straits fan, so I'll cross all those recordings off the list right away? I rotate favorites. Right now, its the live CD of Ragpicker's Dream. Before that is was Screenplaying. I'm hinting for Shangri La for my birthday.

    5. What is one of your biggest pet peeves? I rotate pet peeves as well. Right now I have two: Daughters who borrow my socks because they haven't done their laundry, and the word "incarnational".

    Here's how you can play the interview game:

    1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.” The first five commenters will be the participants.
    2. I will respond by asking you five questions.
    3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
    4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
    5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. (Write your own questions or borrow some.)

    Today's Search Query Chuckle

    Someone came here today searching for photos of "single manitoba mennonite ladies". Anyone want to invent a story for that one?

    This Week's Christian Carnival Entry Info

    From Dory:
    The February 23 Christian Carnival will be hosted at WalloWorld, and you may begin sending in your entries now. Please have them in by midnight, EST, Tuesday, 22 February.

    From now on, Christian Carnival entries will always be entered to this address: ChristianCarnival at .I will contact the host each week and arrange to have the mail forwarded tothe host's address. Do not use that address for anything except Carnival entries.

    Dory has also posted new rules for the Carnival at here. There are a few minor changes, and some new suggestions.

    Responding to Comments on Inability

    There have been some good comments that require responses, and I plan to work through them as I can, beginning with this post.

    From Diane R:
    ....there is that pesky passage in Romans 2:14-16 which talks about [those] who haven't heard the gospel BUT are saved through the conscience of their hearts. Yikes! What is that all about and how does that reconcile into total depravity?
    I suppose the easiest thing is to just to quote the text referred to right here:
    For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (ESV).
    As I read this passage, I don't see it saying that anyone has been saved through the conscience of their heart, but rather it's part of Paul's explanation of the basis for the condemnation of all people, both Jew and Gentile. These particular verses are part of Paul's response to the Jewish people who thought that being given the law automatically gave them moral superiority. Paul is saying that it isn't just having the law that shows someone to be right before God, but keeping it. The Gentiles, who had never been given the law, nevertheless had some inate idea of right and wrong. Their consciences retained a moral code, even though it was imperfect. When they didn't act according to their innate moral code, their consciences would accuse them, and when they did act according to that code, their consciences would excuse them. Paul seems to be suggesting, however that the times when their consciences excuse them is much rarer than the times when their consciences accuse them.

    In other words, they managed to do just as well at keeping God's law, even though they'd never been given it, as the Jews did, but they still end up on the wrong side of the sin equation. In the same passage, Paul tells us that "all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law (verse 12)" and "that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one...' (3:9, 10)." The innate moral code that Gentiles retained only condemns them in the long run:
    For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (3:20)
    Their consciences serve as proof to them that they are sinners, so that when they stand before the judgment of God, their mouths will be stopped, too. They will understand why and for what they are being held accountable.

    Next in line is a question from Robin Munn about 2 Peter 3:9.

    The Puritans: From Thomas Goodwin

    Of Christ's joy when a sinner comes to him:
    The truth is, he is more glad of us than we can be of him. The father of the prodigal was the forwarder of the two to that joyful meeting. Hast thou a mind? He that came down from heaven, as himself saith in the text, to die for thee, will meet thee more than half way, as the prodigal's father is said to do, by his Spirit : he will send him from heaven to thee, and at the latter day himself will come again to fetch thee and receive thee to himself. If among the angels in heaven there be joy at the conversion of a sinner, how much more joy is there in Christ's heart? If there be joy in the bedchamber-men (as John speaks) what joy is there in the bridegroom's heart? Or if among the standers by, when a man-child is born into the world, how much more doth the mother that was in travail for it, as Christ's soul was, how much more doth she rejoice ? 0 therefore come in unto him. If you knew his heart you would.
    ---Brief biography by Alexander Whyte.

    Just Because He's Cute


    Sunday, February 20

    The Puritans: Today in Church History

    From Christian History Institute we learn that on February 20, 1636, Samuel Rutherford was exiled to Aberdeen:
    Rutherford had published an Apology of Divine Grace against the heresy of righteousness based on human works. This work offended the government. On this day, February 20, 1636, Archbishop Laud, who controlled the established churches of Britain, exiled Rutherford to Aberdeen. He forbade him to preach anywhere in Britain.
    This is why we have all those wonderful letters from Rutherford to fellow believers, for letter writing was one of the ways he occupied himself during his exile. In them we see the heart of a true pastor. Charles Spurgeon once said of Rutherford's letters:
    ...let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford's letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere man.
    Find a selection of his letters here.

    The Puritans: Sunday's Hymn and Sermon

    Another hymn from William Cowper:
    There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood

    There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
    And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
    Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
    And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

    The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
    And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
    Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
    And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

    Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
    Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.
    Be saved, to sin no more, be saved, to sin no more;
    Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

    E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
    Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
    And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
    Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

    Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I'll sing Thy power to save,
    When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
    Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
    When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

    Lord, I believe Thou hast prepared, unworthy though I be,
    For me a blood bought free reward, a golden harp for me!
    'Tis strung and tuned for endless years, and formed by power divine,
    To sound in God the Father's ears no other name but Thine.

    Today's sermon excerpt is taken from Christ Altogether Lovely from John Flavel. This bit is from the application. Check out the rest of the sermon to see what this application is drawn from.
    1. Is Jesus Christ altogether lovely? Then I beseech you set your souls upon this lovely Jesus. I am sure such an object as has been here represented, would compel love from the coldest breast and hardest heart. Away with those empty nothings, away with this vain deceitful world, which deserves not the thousandth part of the love you give it. Let all stand aside and give way to Christ. O if only you knew his worth and excellency, what he is in himself, what he has done for you, and deserved from you, you would need no arguments of mine to persuade you to love him!

    2. Esteem nothing lovely except as it is enjoyed in Christ, or used for the sake of Christ. Love nothing for itself, love nothing separate from Jesus Christ. In two things we all sin in love of created things. We sin in the excess of our affections, loving them above the proper value of mere created things. We also sin in the inordinacy of our affections, that is to say we give our love for created things a priority it should never have.

    3. Let us all be humbled for the corruption of our hearts that are so eager in their affections for vanities and trifles and so hard to be persuaded to the love of Christ, who is altogether lovely. O how many pour out streams of love and delight upon the vain and empty created thing; while no arguments can draw forth one drop of love from their stubborn and unbelieving hearts to Jesus Christ! I have read of one Joannes Mollius, who was observed to go often alone, and weep bitterly; and being pressed by a friend to know the cause of his troubles, said "O! it grieves me that I cannot bring this heart of mine to love Jesus Christ more fervently."

    4. Represent Christ to the world as he is, by your behaviour towards him. Is he altogether lovely? Let all the world see and know that he is so, by your delights in him and communion with him; zeal for him, and readiness to part with any other lovely thing upon his account. Proclaim his excellencies to the world, as the spouse did in these verses. Persuade them how much your beloved is better than any other beloved. Show his glorious excellencies as you speak of him; hold him forth to others, as he is in himself: altogether lovely. See that you "walk worthy of him unto all well pleasing," Col. 1:10. "Show forth the praises of Christ," 1 Pet. 2:19. Let not that "worthy name be blasphemed through you," James 2:7. He is glorious in himself, and he is sure to put glory upon you; take heed that you do not put shame and dishonours upon him; he has committed his honour to you, do not betray that trust.

    Never be ashamed to be counted as a Christian: he is altogether lovely; he can never be a shame to you; it will be your great sin to be ashamed of him. Some men glory in their shame; do not let yourself be ashamed of your glory. If you will be ashamed of Christ now, he will be ashamed of you when he shall appear in his own glory, and the glory of all his holy angels. Be ashamed of nothing but sin; and among other sins, be ashamed especially for this sin, that you have no more love for him who is altogether lovely.

    6. Be willing to leave every thing that is lovely upon earth, in order that you may be with the altogether lovely Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. Lift up your voices with the bride, Rev. 20:20 "Come Lord Jesus, come quickly." It is true, you must pass through the pangs of death into his intimacy and enjoyment; but surely it is worth suffering much more than that to be with this lovely Jesus. "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and the patient waiting for Jesus Christ," 2 Thes. 3:5.

    7. Let the loveliness of Christ draw all men to him. Is loveliness in the creature so attractive? And can the transcendent loveliness of Christ draw none? O the blindness of man! If you see no beauty in Christ that causes you to desire him, it is because the god of this world has blinded your minds.

    8. Strive to be Christ-like, if ever you would be lovely in the eyes of God and man. Certainly, my brethren, it is only the Spirit of Christ within you, and the beauty of Christ upon you, which can make you lovely persons. The more you resemble him in holiness, the more will you show of true excellence and loveliness; and the more frequent and spiritual your communication and communion with Christ is, the more of the beauty and loveliness of Christ will be stamped upon your spirits, changing you into the same image, from glory to glory. Amen.
    A biography of John Flavel: The Life of the late Rev. Mr. John Flavel, minister of Dartmouth.

    Saturday, February 19

    Responding to Comments

    This is a busy weekend, and there are several comments that require something more from me than a smiley face. I'll try to respond as I can, but it may be a couple of days before I get to them all.

    But keep the good comments coming. I will get to them eventually!

    The Puritans: More from Anne Bradstreet

    Upon My Dear and Loving Husband his Going into England Jan. 16, 1661

    Edited by Jeannine Hensley

    O thou Most High who rulest all
    And hear'st the prayers of thine,
    O hearken, Lord, unto my suit
    And my petition sign.

    Into Thy everlasting arms Of mercy
    I commend Thy servant, Lord.
    Keep and preserve
    My husband, my dear friend.

    At Thy command, O Lord, he went,
    Nor nought could keep him back.
    Then let Thy promise joy his heart,
    O help and be not slack.

    Uphold my heart in Thee, O God.
    Thou art my strength and stay,
    Thou see'st how weak and frail I am,
    Hide not Thy face away.

    I in obedience to Thy will
    Thou knowest did submit.
    It was my duty so to do;
    O Lord, accept of it.

    Unthankfulness for mercies past
    Impute Thou not to me.
    O Lord, Thou know'st my weak desire
    Was to sing praise to Thee.

    Lord, be Thou pilot to the ship
    And send them prosperous gales.
    In storms and sickness, Lord, preserve.
    Thy goodness never fails.

    Unto Thy work he hath in hand
    Lord, grant Thou good success
    And favour in their eyes to whom
    He shall make his address.

    Remember, Lord, Thy folk whom Thou
    To wilderness hast brought;
    Let not Thine own inheritance
    Be sold away for nought.

    But tokens of Thy favour give,
    With joy send back my dear
    That I and all Thy servants may
    Rejoice with heavenly cheer.

    Lord, let my eyes see once again
    Him whom Thou gavest me
    That we together may sing praise
    Forever unto Thee.

    And the remainder of our days
    Shall consecrated be
    With an engaged heart to sing
    All praises unto Thee.

    Biography of Anne Bradstreet.

    More poetry

    Friday, February 18


    This post is in response to Dueling with Dead Men: A Look at Total Depravity at The Bible Archive. I haven't gone through Rey's points one by one. If you've ever done a point by point response to something, you know that it takes loads of work and lots of space, and I'm just not up to it. Instead, I've given a short (well, shortish!) defense of the inability part of the doctrine of total depravity, concentrating in particular on one aspect of that inability and one passage of scripture.

    The word total in the term total depravity means that the depravity that came to all human beings as a result of the fall mars every part of their being. It's a comprehensive problem, and nothing is working for post-fall beings exactly the way it was intended to work in the world before the fall. Our bodies have faults: they have corruptions that work their way out in our physical lives. Our minds are imperfect, leaving our thinking powers warped. Our emotions run amuck, too. This depravity also extends to our wills, leaving us with desires that have also been corrupted.

    This corruption of our desires--of our will--puts us in a bit of a pickle when it comes to the demands God makes on his creatures. He commands that people obey him, but in their natural state, people don't much care to--at least they don't want to always obey him--and even when they do make an attempt at obeying his commands, they don't do it for the right reasons. Ephesians 2 tells us that natural people--those who remain dead in trespasses and sins--are living out their lives in the cravings of their flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind. They don't care about pleasing God; rather, they care about pleasing their own flesh. Ephesians 2 also tells us that this problem of constantly improper desires is universal--those who are not yet believers remain in that state, and those who are believers were once in that state.

    God, of course, does nothing to keep people from obeying him, and his commandments are nothing more than what people ought to be doing; but the corruptions that came to every human being through the fall makes the pull of their fleshly desires such that they just keep on indulging them instead of doing what God asks of them. Human beings are so intransigent in this disobedient stance that scripture tells us that the natural person--as they are born and without any supernatural intervention--is unable to submit to God's commands (Romans 8:7,8).

    This is one aspect of the inability that is part of our depravity. We just can't keep God's commands. Not that any of them are too hard for us--they aren't. We ought to be able to keep them; they aren't burdensome. Our problem is that we consistently choose to please our flesh rather than God. It's a character flaw, a character flaw that we all have been born with, and it results in our inability in this area.

    Some people have difficulty with the words "unable" or "cannot" being used to describe a condition that involves continued refusal, but those are the scriptural words. Then, too, it's not using those words in a way we don't already use it. If I told you that a certain woman was so proud that she was unable to go out in public without heavy makeup, a fur coat, and all her jewelry, you'd understand that the source of her inability to go out unadorned was a character flaw within the woman herself. You'd understand that if that woman woke up one morning and decided to go do her grocery shopping before she applied the paint, and wearing a pair of ripped sweat pants, she certainly could. No one would stop her from doing it. But because she is so proud, she never will decide go grocery shopping looking like that. She has a character trait that results in a consistant action that she can't not do as long as that character trait exists.

    And natural (or fleshly) people are just like that. If they willed above all else to submit to God, nothing would stand in their way. They are unable to keep God's commands because they have a character flaw that makes them want to do the opposite of submitting to God. This character flaw makes them always want to fulfill the desires of their flesh and of their mind more than they want to obey God. Yes, it's a pickle, but it's a pickle that arises from stubborn hearts. Our stubborness makes us unable to do what God commands us to do: submit to his righteous demands of us.

    On this particular point--that natural humans are unable to submit to God's law--there isn't nearly as much disagreement as there is on the other aspect of inability--that natural humans are unable to come to Christ or savingly believe on him.* However, Jesus himself makes statements that affirm this inability to believe in John 6:
    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.... (verse 44).

    But there are some of you who do not believe.... Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father (verses 64,65).**
    It's the same word of ability--or rather inability--used here as is used above in Romans 8 when we are told that natural people can't submit to God's law, but this time it's used in regards to coming to Christ, which you can see from verses 64 and 65 is used synonymously with believing. In these snippets of verses we're told that this inability exists in everyone--no one is excluded--unless God takes action on their behalf. This action by God is described as drawing or granting or giving or permitting, depending on which verse you look at (see verse 37, too) and which version you use. Whatever it is that these words mean exactly, it is an action taken by God that is required before anyone can believe on Christ or come to him. As we stand naturally, without God's intervention, we are unable to believe. Our natural state is one of inability--inability to submit to God and inability to believe in him.

    Some argue that this intervening action of God is taken on behalf of every single natural person, so that no person remains in this state of inability. The problem with this idea is that this doesn't fit the context of these statements unless Jesus is teaching universalism in this passage, for the person who is drawn by the Father--or given by the Father--is the raised up on the last day, and being raised on the last day in this particular context is the same as being given eternal life (verse 40). Furthermore, if you read verses 64 and 65, you will see that "no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father" is given as the reason for the unbelievers that remain among his followers--like Judas, and the disciples who walk away from Jesus in verse 66. The explanation Jesus gives for why these people don't believe is that it has not been granted them by the Father. The drawing, the giving, the granting cannot be universal, for Jesus gives examples of people for whom it did not happen, and ties their unbelief to it not being given to them by the Father.

    John 12:32 ("And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself.") is often brought in as a lense through which to interpret this passage. If you do that, and you make the draw of John 12 extend to every single person, and make the draw of this passage have exactly the same meaning, then this passage become unintelligible. Either the draw of John 12 means something different than it does in John 6, or the "all" of John 12:32 means something different than every single person who has ever lived (or both). If you read John 12:32 into John 6, and you make the "all" of John 12:32 universal without exception, then John 6 is teaching us that eternal life is universal. However, it's always the immediate context that gives the strongest clue to what the word means in any particular usage of it, rather than what it means somewhere else.

    I could add more from other passages that speak to the issue of the natural person's inability to believe, but this seems like enough to show that we are, without intervention by God, unable to believe. I've never seen exegesis of these comments from Jesus that is able to convincingly get around this. I've seen attempts, but they involved twisting Jesus' statements in improbable ways, not because the text itself warrants it, but because taking his statements at face value as they appear in the context causes problems with one's soteriological system. In other words, a presupposed system is the filter through which this chapter is interpreted, and this passage is not allowed to speak for itself, or be interpreted from the inside out without a filter.

    *In my opinion, these two things--inability to obey and inability to believe--are really part of one whole inability problem, but since many who accept the first but not the second see them as separate things, I'm treating them as if they were separate things in this post.

    **I've taken out the portions of these two verses that are John's commentary rather than Jesus's actual quote. I've done this so it's easier to follow the flow of his statement and see how "therefore" connects back to the previous sentence.

    [Update: Rey responds here.

    I respond to a comment on this post here.]

    The Puritans: From Richard Baxter

    Cases And Directions Against Censoriousness And Unwarrantable Judging.

    Tit. 1 Cases of Conscience about Judging of Others.

    Quest. I. Am I not bound to judge truly of every one as he is?

    Answer. I. There are many that you are not bound to meddle with, and to pass any judgment at all upon. 2. There are many whose faults are secret, and their virtues open and of such you cannot judge as they are, because, you have no proof or evidence to enable you: you cannot see that which is latent in the heart, or done in darkness. 3. You neither ought on pretence of charity, nor can believe an evident known untruth of any man.

    Quest. Doth not charity bind me to judge men better than they are?

    Answer. Charity bindeth you, 1. Rather to observe the best in them, than the worst. 2. And, as I said, to judge of no man's faults uncalled. 3. Nor to judge of that which is not evident, but out of sight and thus consequently it bindeth you to judge some men to be better than they are; but not directly.

    Quest. Then a man is bound to err and believe an untruth.

    Answer. No; you are not bound to believe that it is certainly true, that such a man is better than he is; because you have no evidence of its certain truth. But you are bound to believe it a thing probable or likely, likely to be true, by an opinion or fallible human faith and this is not a falsehood; for that is likely and probable to you, which hath the more probable evidence, and more for it than against it so that the thing which you are to believe immediately is this proposition: There is more evidence to me to prove it likely that this man is sincere than contrary: and consequently you believe this, and believe not the contrary, because the contrary hath no evidence. But you are not to take it as a certain thing, that the contrary hath no latent reality.

    Quest. II. How far may I judge ill of one by outward appearances, as by the countenance, gestures, and other uncertain but suspicious signs?

    Answer. There are some signs which are not so much as probable, but a little suspicious, and which men are very ordinarily mistaken by: as those that will judge of a man at the first look by his face; and those that will judge a studious, serious person (a lawyer, a judge, or a divine) to be morose or proud, because they are not complimentary, but of few words; or because they have not patience to waste precious hours in hearing an empty vessel sound, an ignorant, self-conceited person talk foolishly. Such censures are but the effects of injudiciousness, unrighteousness, and rash haste. There are other signs which make it probable to a wise and charitable person, that the man is bad (e.g. proud, or covetous, or a hypocrite). If with these, there are as great sins to make the contrary probable, we must rather incline to the better than the worse. But if not, we may fear the worst of that person, but not conclude it as a certainty; and therefore we may not in public censures, proceed upon such uncertainties, nor venture to divulge them; but only use them to help us for due caution, and pity, and prayer, and endeavour for such a one's recovery and help.

    Quest. III. How far may I censure upon the report of others?

    Answer. According to the degree of the credibility of the persons, and evidence of the narrative; not simply in themselves, but as compared with all that is to be heard on the contrary part; else you are partial and unjust.

    Read the rest.

    Biography: The Life and Ministry of Richard Baxter.

    The Response from Canadian Tire this letter. Of course, it's just a form letter that doesn't address any of my concerns, and shows that they simply don't understand the stance of most people objecting to their sponsorship of "My Fabulous Gay Wedding".
    Dear Rebecca,

    Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback on Canadian Tire's participation with "My Fabulous Gay Wedding". As Canada's most-shopped retailer, we are focused on providing products and services that meet the needs of all our customers. The decision to sponsor this show was part of an overall marketing and advertising plan aimed at promoting our new gift registry service to engaged couples.

    With respect to your question about Canadian Tire and family values, Canadian Tire strives to serve and enrich the lives of our customers and the communities in which we serve. We are focused on providing products and services to help families for every life stage event whether it is their first car, new home, wedding or new sporting activity.

    We understand this is a sensitive and emotional issue for many Canadians and there are many conflicting ideas on what constitutes a "traditional Canadian family". Canadian Tire does not define what constitutes a family, we feel we should leave that to policy makers and the government. Canadian Tire is inclusive and wants to sell our products and services to all Canadians.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback and we hope that we will be able to continue to serve you in our stores in the future.


    Canadian Tire Corporation Limited
    Actually, the whole thing kind of makes me feel sick.

    Total Inability?

    Blogger is being intransigently obnoxious this morning, stubbornly keeping me from the drafts of things I want to post. It seems to be unable to submit to my commands. One might even say it is at enmity with me.

    [Update: Apparently blogger has been transformed, tinkered with on the inside by the powers that be, and now willingly submits itself to me. I should be able to finish something up and post it sometime today. Is Rey's ability duck wearing his bullet proof vest yet?]

    Thursday, February 17

    The Puritans: From Samuel Rutherford's Letters

    Letter 233
    To Fulk Ellis

    Friends in Ireland - Difficulties in Providence - Faithfulness to Light - Constant Need of Christ

    Worthy and Much Honoured in our Lord,-

    Grace, mercy, and peace be to you,

    1. I am glad of our more than paper acquaintance. Seeing we have one Father, it is less significant if we should never see one another's face. I profess myself most unworthy to follow the camp of such a worthy and renowned Captain as Christ. Oh, alas! I have cause to be grieved, that men expect anything of such a wretched man as I am. It is a wonder to me, if Christ can make anything of my good-for-nothing, short, and narrow love to Him; surely it is not worth the effort to try to understand it.

    2. As for our lovely and beloved church in Ireland, my heart bleeds for her desolation; but I believe that our Lord is only lopping the vine-trees, not intending to cut them down, or root them out. It is true (seeing we are heart-atheists by nature, and cannot take providence aright, because we falter and deal crookedly ever since we fell), we dream of a faltering providence; as if God's yard, whereby He measures joy and sorrow to the sons of men, were crooked and unjust, because servants ride on horseback, and princes go on foot. But our Lord deals out good and evil, and some one portion or other to both, by ounce-weights, and measures them in a just and even balance. It is but folly to measure the Gospel by summer or winter weather: the summer-sun of the saints shines not on them in this life. How would we have complained, if the Lord had turned the same providence that we now complain about upside down? What if He had ordered matters thus, that first the saints should have enjoyed heaven, glory, and ease, and then Methuselah's days of sorrow and daily miseries? We would think a short heaven no heaven. Certainly His ways pass finding out.

    Read the rest of this letter here.

    Index to more of Rutherford's letters.

    A short biography of Samuel Rutherford.

    Wednesday, February 16

    The Puritans: From John Owen

    An exerpt from Two Short Catechisms, on God's providence:

    Q. 1. What is God's actual providence?

    A. The effectual working of his power, and almighty act of his will, whereby he sustaineth, governeth, and disposeth of all things, men and their actions, to the ends which he hath ordained for them.

    Exod. iv. 11; Job v. 10-12, ix. 5, 6; Ps. cxlvii. 4; Prov. xv. 3; Isa. xlv. 6, 7; John v. 17; Acts xvii. 28; Heb. i. 3.

    Q. 2. How is this providence exercised towards mankind?

    A. Two ways; first, apeculiarly towards his church, or elect, in their generations, for whom are all things; secondly, towards all in a general manner, yet with various and divers dispensations.

    Deut. xxxii. 10; Ps. xvii. 8; Zech. ii. 8; Matt. xvi. 18, xix. 2, 29; 1 Pet. v. 7. bGen. ix. 5; Ps. lxxv. 6, 7; Isa. xlv. 6, 7; Matt. v. 45.

    Q. 3. Wherein chiefly consists the outward providence of God towards his church?

    A. In three things; first, in acausing all things to work together for their good; secondly, in ruling and disposing of kingdoms, nations, and persons, for their benefit; thirdly, cin avenging them of their adversaries.

    Matt. vi. 31-33; Rom. viii. 28; 1 Tim. vi. 17; 2 Pet. i. 3. bPs. cv. 14,15; Isa. xliv. 28; Dan. ii. 44; Rom. ix. 17. cIsa. lx. 12; Zech. xii. 2-5; Luke xviii. 7; Rev. xvii. 14.

    Q. 4. Doth God rule also in and over the sinful actions of wicked men?

    A. Yea, he willingly (accordingto his determinate counsel) suffereth them to be, for the manifestation of his glory, and by them effecteth his own righteous ends.

    2 Sam. xii. 11, xvi. 10; 1 Kings xi. 31, xxii. 22; Job i. 21; Prov. xxii. 14; Isa. x. 6, 7; Ezek. xxi. 19-21; Amos vii. 17; Acts iv. 27, 28; Rom. i. 24, ix. 22; 1 Pet. ii. 8; Rev. xvii. 17.

    Q. 5. Doth the providence of God extend itself to every small thing?

    A. The least grass of the field, hair of our heads, or worm of the earth, is not exempted from his knowledge and care.

    Job xxxix.; Ps. civ. 21, cxlv. 15; Jonah iv. 7; Matt. vi. 26-29, x. 29, 30.

    More on John Owen.

    Christian Carnival and More

    This week's Christian Carnival is up at Wittenberg Gate. Despite the last minute kerfuffle, there are 30+ entries.

    I also wanted to respond to some of the recent comments this morning, but I spent too much time on my letter to Canadian Tire, so I'll have to get to that later. And I want to shoot a few pellets at Rey's ability duck, but that's going to take more time than I've had recently, so I guess I'll get to that whenever it works out.

    It didn't help things that youngest daughter backed her car pretty deeply into/onto the snowbank along the edge of the driveway yesterday. I don't know how she managed to do what she did. Well, yes I do, having done it myself once or twice when I was younger. It took at least an hour of shoveling and pushing yesterday to get her out, since it required removing almost the whole bank for the length of the driveway. Do I need to explain why I needed Ibuprofen (Did I spell that right? I'm too lazy to go look at the label.) this morning?

    I Love Canadian Tire Money this hurts.

    Yes, I'm about to get political again, so those of you who get nervous when I do that can just skip over this post. I just read about this at promptings.

    [Update: My original article was a little confusing because I was in such a hurry, so I'm adding an explanatory note here. Canadian Tire is going to sponsor the six episodes of Global TV's planned series "My Fabulous Gay Wedding." From the linked piece:
    The Corporation has thus far refused to cancel its sponsorship of the program despite multiple complaints.

    Responding to one concerned Canadian about its sponsorship of the controversial show, a Customer Relationship Representative, speaking for Canadian Tire’s “entire team” stated, “The decision to sponsor this show was part of an overall marketing and advertising plan aimed at promoting our new gift registry service to engaged couples.”]

    I think the Canadian Tire Company is making a big mistake, and I've sent this email off to the address given in the linked article:
    I've recently discovered that Canadian Tire will be sponsoring My Fabulous Gay Wedding. I understand that it's important for a company to appeal to all sorts of customers, but I believe that in choosing to sponsor this particular show, Canadian Tire is stepping over the line from simply being inclusive of all to promoting something that is going to offend a substantial number of the customers it already has. Like me. Like my sons.

    Canadian Tire, until now, has been a big part of our lives--our first choice for almost everything except the groceries that we buy. We like the service; we like the products; we like the prices. We like the easy return policy. And we love Canadian Tire money. Since we live in the north, we don't have as many different places to shop as we might if we lived elsewhere, but we are willing to stop buying from Canadian Tire if the company chooses to go ahead with the sponsorship of My Fabulous Gay Wedding.

    We believe strongly that a gay person should never be treated with anything but kindness, but we also believe just as strongly that marriage is something that is between one man and one woman. This is one of our core values, our essential beliefs, and we cannot in good conscious help contribute, through our purchasing, to a company that actively promotes something that goes against this core value we hold. So the windshield wiper and motor oil that I bought yesterday will be our last purchase from Canadian Tire for as long as we can hold out, or until we find out that the company has withdrawn it's sponsorship.

    Thank you for taking the time to consider what I've written.
    [Update: I rooted around a bit and found multiple confirmations of this story from various sites, some from industry promotional sites. I did learn that the rumours (I hadn't heard them) that Loblaws/Superstore were also sponsors are false.]

    Tuesday, February 15

    What is the Gospel?

    Paul, to the elders in the church at Ephesus, in Acts 20:
    And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. �Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, �for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. (ESV)

    Question: Is there a sense in which "declaring the whole counsel of God" is the same thing as teaching the gospel? (I would base this question on Paul saying that it is because he had declared the whole counsel of God to the Ephesians that he would be innocent of their blood.)

    [For some of the context of this question, check out the many, many, many entries on the simple gospel at Adrian Warnock's UK Evangelical Blog. However, I think I'm asking a different question than Adrian: he's asking, "How simple can we make the gospel and still have it be complete enough to accurately represent the whole?"; I'm asking, "What's included in the whole? How complex is it, really?"]

    [Update: There's more at Blogotional.]

    Round the Sphere Again

  • From Charlie of Another Think:
    .... Jesus calls us to become first-citizens of his kingdom. In fact, he challenges us to carry his kingdom back home with us. We're to be like yeast in bread dough, change-agents in our home turf.

    If the Kingdom of God feels perfectly comfortable, perhaps you've never learned to speak the language. Perhaps you've never actually crossed the border.
    Read the rest of Cross-cultural Faith.

  • James White links to a debate done in 1985 between Greg Bahnsen and athiest Gordon Stein. It's long, the sound quality isn't that great, but it's certainly more than worth the work it takes to listen to it. I promise.

  • My days of parenting the wee ones are over--and if you must know, I was a marsupial mom, a constant packer of the littlest guy. I'm none the worse for it, and my children are better for it. Thankfully, I didn't have to contend with the likes of Gary Ezzo and his parenting philosophy, but if you're still finding your way through the parenting advice maze, you might find Tulipgirl's series of posts on Gary Ezzo useful to you. Here are the first two: What Ezzo Says About Me. . . and What Ezzo Says About My Kids. . ..

  • If you want my opinion, I think I'd have preferred just a picture of the flower. [Hat tip: The Evangelical Outpost.]
  • |

    The Second Council of Constantinople, No. 11

    This is the last of the anathemas, and here's where they name names and anathemetize anyone who doesn't anathametize these people as well. What do you think about this?

    If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, together with their impious, godless writings, and all the other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the holy catholic and apostolic Church, and by the aforementioned four Holy Synods and all those who have held and hold or who in their godlessness persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned; let him be anathema.

    The Puritans: More from William Cowper

    On Opening a Place for Social Prayer

    Jesus, where'er thy people meet,
    There they behold thy mercy-seat;
    Where'er they seek thee thou art found,
    And ev'ry place is hallow'd ground.

    For thou, within no walls confin'd,
    Inhabitest the humble mind;
    Such ever bring thee, where they come,
    And going, take thee to their home.

    Dear Shepherd of thy chosen few!
    Thy former mercies here renew;
    Here, to our waiting hearts, proclaim
    The sweetness of thy saving name.

    Here may we prove the pow'r of pray'r,
    To strengthen faith, and sweeten care;
    To teach our faint desires to rise,
    And bring all heav'n before our eyes.

    Behold! At thy commanding word,
    We stretch the curtain and the cord;
    Come thou, and fill this wider space,
    And help us with a large increase.

    Lord, we are few, but thou art near;
    Nor short thine arm, nor deaf thine ear;
    Oh rend the heav'ns, come quickly down,
    And make a thousand hearts thine own!

    ---William Cowper.

    Monday, February 14

    Christian Carnival Entry Info

    From Kim Bloomer at Sharing Spirit:
    So far I've gotten three great articles to post for my turn at hosting Christian Carnival this week. If you'd like me to post your article, please either send it to my channel at here or to my email at Kim ATT aspenbloomnutrition Dott com.

    I'm sure my readers will enjoy something different and new on Sharing Spirit.
    No deadline is given, but it'd be some time Tuesday evening. Why not find something you've posted since the last Christian Carnival (that'd be since last Wednesday morning) and enter? Here's what you need to send to Kim:

    Title of your Blog
    URL of your Blog
    Title of your post
    URL linking to that post
    Description of the post

    Remember to put "Christian Carnival entry" in the subject of the email so it isn't overlooked.

    [IMPORTANT UPDATE: There may be some sort of a glich so that the host listed in these instructions won't be able to host the carnival. If you sent an entry to the addresses listed above, will you resend it to ChristianCarnival ATT gmail DOTT com? If the regular host can't do it, Dory at Wittenberg Gate will post the carnival instead.]

    The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople, No. 10

    If anyone does not confess that our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified in the flesh is true God and the Lord of Glory and one of the Holy Trinity; let him be anathema.

    Short and sweet. Any comments on this one? Any objections?

    The Puritans: Regulative Principle of Worship

    The Puritans had a high view of scripture, and wished to order their lives by the principle of sola scriptura, and one of the ways this emphasis showed in their society was in their view of what was acceptable in a worship service. They believed that the true worship included only those practices specifically commanded by God. From The Regulative Principle of Worship by C. Matthew McMahon:
    Simply the Regulative Principle States this: True worship is only commanded by God; false worship is anything not commanded. This was the Puritan’s view of worship. As Samuel Waldron has said, "It seems that one of the major intellectual stumbling blocks which hinders men from embracing the Regulative Principle is that it involves the idea that the church and its worship is ordered in a regulated way different from the rest of life. In the rest of life God gives men the great precepts and general principles of his word and within the bounds of these directions allows them to order their lives as seems best to them. He does not give them minute directions as to how they shall build their houses or pursue their secular vocations. The Regulative principle, on the other hand, involves a limitation on human initiative in freedom not characteristic of the rest of life. It clearly assumes that there is a distinction between the way the church and its worship is to be ordered and the way the rest of human society and conduct is to be ordered."
    There was some difference among the various Puritan groups in how this worked out in the services, but for the most part, this meant that only psalms were sung in worship services, since the book of Psalms was seen as the divinely inspired songbook. There would be no instrumental accompaniment. There was no liturgy or liturgical holidays, since neither of these things are prescribed in scripture. There is no command for Christ's followers to celebrate the birth of Christ or his resurrectiion on special days set aside for that purpose, so the celebration of Christmas and Easter was forbidden.

    The Regulative Principle of Worship is not something I've looked into much, and isn't an issue I'm very interested in. If I had to give an opinion off the top of my head, I'd say the Puritans, along with those before and after them who adhered to this principle, may have mistaken the description in the New Testament of what was done in worship as a prescription of all that can rightly to be done. If this is an issue that interests you, here are a few links (in addition to the one given above) that you might find interesting:

    Sunday, February 13

    Only in the Yukon: Yukon Quest

    And they're off! One of the dog teams starts the 1000 mile race to Fairbanks.

    From the Yukon Quest information page.
    At the Top of the World, in the Yukon-Alaskan Interior, an epic event takes place every year that few people from "down south" have experienced. Covering 1000 miles between Whitehorse, Yukon Territory and Fairbanks, Alaska during the depths of the Arctic winter, the Yukon Quest is the "Toughest Sled Dog Race in the World."

    The Yukon Quest Trail follows historic Gold Rush and Mail Delivery routes from the turn of the 20th Century. Once a travel highway of the Northern frontier, the trail comes alive each February with the breath of hundreds of sled dogs. Teams of one human 'musher' and 14 canine athletes, travel for two weeks, racing through some of the last pristine wilderness remaining in North America.
    Look at the smiles. Those dogs are just happy to be running.



    The Puritans: Sunday's Hymn and Sermon

    There are more obscure hymns from John Newton that I could have chosen to feature this Sunday, but I thought I'd use Amazing Grace because it's an example of something written by a Puritan that would be recognized by almost everyone. At the bottom of this page at Cyber Hymnal, are links to the words of this song in 11 languages. Undoubtedly, it's been translated into many more languages as well, but these 11 give us a glimpse at how widespread the influence of this hymn is.
    Amazing Grace

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

    'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    And grace my fears relieved;
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed.

    Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.

    The Lord has promised good to me,
    His Word my hope secures;
    He will my Shield and Portion be,
    As long as life endures.

    Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess, within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.

    The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
    The sun forbear to shine;
    But God, Who called me here below,
    Shall be forever mine.

    When we've been there ten thousand years,
    Bright shining as the sun,
    We've no less days to sing God's praise
    Than when we'd first begun.

    ---John Newton. [Listen. Do you think John Newton would approve? You might want to look up the Regulative Principle of Worship before you answer.]

    Today's featured sermon is from Jonathan Edwards. Instead of going to the obvious, which would, I suppose, be Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, I've chosen Edward's farewell sermon, preached at the First Church in Northampton, MA, after he was voted out as pastor. Here are his farewell words to the youth of the congregation:
    I would apply myself to the young people of the congregation.

    Since I have been settled in the work of the ministry in this place, I have ever had a peculiar concern for the souls of the young people, and a desire that religion might flourish among them; and have especially exerted myself in order to it. Because I knew the special opportunity they had beyond others, and that ordinarily those for whom God intended mercy, were brought to fear and love him in their youth. And it has ever appeared to me a peculiarly amiable thing, to see young people walking in the ways of virtue and Christian piety, having their hearts purified and sweetened with a principle of divine love. How exceeding beautiful, and conducive to the adorning and happiness of the town, if the young people could be persuaded, when they meet together, to converse as Christians and as the children of God, avoiding impurity, levity and extravagance, keeping strictly to rules of virtue and conversing together of the things of God, and Christ, and heaven! This is what I have longed for, and it has been exceeding grievous to me when I have heard of vice, vanity and disorder among our youth. And so far as I know my own heart, it was from hence that I formerly led this church to some measures, for the suppressing vice among our young people, which gave so great offense, and by which I became so obnoxious. I have sought the good, and not the hurt of our young people. I have desired their truest honor and happiness, and not their reproach: knowing that true virtue and religion tended not only to the glory and felicity of young people in another world, but their greatest peace and prosperity, and highest dignity and honor in this world, and above all things to sweeten, and render pleasant and delightful, even the days of youth.

    But whether I have loved you, and sought your good more or less, now committing your souls to him who once committed the pastoral care of them to—nothing remains, but only (as I am now taking my leave of you) earnestly to beseech you, from love to yourselves, if you have none to me, not to despise and forget the warnings and counsels I have so often given you. Remember the day when you and I must meet again before the great Judge of quick and dead, when it will appear whether the things I have taught you were true, whether the counsels I have given you were good, and whether I truly sought your welfare, and whether you have well improved my endeavors.

    I have, from time to time, earnestly warned you against frolicking (as it is called), and some other liberties commonly taken by young people in the land. And whatever some may say in justification of such liberties and customs, and may laugh at warnings against them, I now leave you my parting testimony against such things, not doubting but God will approve and confirm it in that day when we shall meet before him.

    Friday, February 11

    If You Belong To My Jesus, Then You Belong With Me

    I swiped that title from the old signature line of a friend who loved nothing more than arguing theology on a certain discussion board. Although he was very firm in what he believed and highly valued the truth, he wanted it known that agreeing with him on all the issues wasn't necessary to be included in his group. It was enough for him that you belonged to the same Lord he did.

    Belonging to Christ is not a matter of having all of our theological ducks lined up. Thank goodness it isn't, or none of us would be included. There are undoubtedly boundaries for our ducks, and there are a few of our ducks that need to toe the line or we are not in the group at all. Some of those crucial ducks are noted for us in scripture. John tells us, for instance, that anyone who does not confess that Jesus is the Christ is not from God. We know with certainty where someone's theological duck needs to be on that issue if they are to be included with us. Many of our debates, however, are in-house debates.

    Of course, just because something's an in-house debate doesn't mean it's not important. If we value the truth, then we value even the small details of the truth, and discussions over the correct understanding of something that's laid out for us in scripture is never just niggling. If you've done very much debating over doctrine, you understand how often the devil really is in the details. Big doors turn on small hinges.

    I hope you'll remember, should you ever find me arguing strongly against a doctrine you adhere to, that I also firmly believe that "if you belong to my Jesus, then you belong with me." I just like messing with with your ducks.

    The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople, No. 9

    If anyone says that Christ ought to be worshipped in his two natures, in the sense that he introduces two adorations, the one peculiar to God the Word and the other peculiar to the man; or if anyone by destroying the flesh, or by confusing the Godhead and the humanity, or by contriving one nature or essence of those which were united and so worships Christ, and does not with one adoration worship God the Word incarnate with his own flesh, as the Church of God has received from the beginning; let him be anathema.

    The Puritans: From William Perkins

    Of the Body of Scripture

    The body of Scripture is a doctrine sufficient to live well.  It comprehendeth many holy sciences, whereof one is principal, others are hand-maidens or retainers.

    The principle science is Theology.  Theology is the science of living blessedly for ever.  Blessed life ariseth from the knowledge of God.  John 17:3. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Isaiah 53:11, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant [viz. Jesus Christ] justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. And therefore it ariseth likewise from the knowledge of ourselves, because we know God by looking into ourselves.

    Theology hath two parts: the first of God, the second of His works.

    ---William Perkins, from The Order of  Salvation and Damnation: The manner in which men are saved. Read a short biography of William Perkins, who is often called the "father of Puritanism" here.  

    Thursday, February 10

    The Puritans: More on John Bunyan


    The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople, No. 8

    If anyone confesses that the union took place out of two natures or speaks of the one incarnate nature of God the Word and does not understand those expressions as the holy Fathers have taught, that out of the divine and human natures, when union by hypostasis took place, one Christ was formed; but from these expressions tries to introduce one nature or essence of the Godhead and manhood of Christ; let him be anathema. For in saying that the only-begotten Word was united by hypostasis personally we do not mean that there was a mutual confusion of natures, but rather we understand that the Word was united to the flesh, each nature remaining what it was. Therefore there is one Christ, God and man, of the same essence with the Father as touching his Godhead, and of the same essence with us as touching his manhood. Therefore the Church of God equally rejects and anathematizes those who divide or cut apart or who introduce confusion into the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ.

    The Puritans: Providential Puritan Quotation Generator

    No need to come here for your Puritan quotations, when you can have one of these.

    And while we're on the subject of the Puritians, Part 4 of Elizabeth Bunyan's exciting story is here. Thanks to Violet for posting this series so I can link it as part of Puritan month.

    Round the Sphere Again

    From Women4God Blogs, more examples of the diversity of experiences among Christian women:
    • Molly of my three pennies worth tells me she lives in the frozen north, too. She describes herself as
      ....a 29 year old lover of Yahweh, and thinks she got hitched to the world's best husband (plus, he said he'd take me out for dinner if I'd type that). She is also the insufferably proud mother of 5 youngsters (the #5 being due this May), wonderer of wonderings, thinker of thoughts, and humble offerer (is "offerer" even a word?) of opinions...
      In Stay Home Mom (The Dark Side or Just the Sad Side?), Molly suggests that a little training and preparation for the difficult job of being a stay-at-home-mom might make things a little easier.
      The logistics required and the tasks you are called to perform as a sahm are overwhelming, I'll be the first to admit. But I'm not sure if the fault lies in the "unspoken dark side" of staying home. I think that miserable side is there, for the most part, simply because we walked into something completely unprepared for the job. So the answer isn't going to be found in voicing our complaints louder. It's in properly preparing the next generation of mothers, so that they don't have to flail through all the confusion and unexpected "surprises" that we've had bogging us down.

    • Ups N Downs. Lori introduces her blog like this:
      Welcome! If you have ever wondered what it'like to raise a child with a developmental delay, here is your chance to peek into our lives and find out.
      In this post, Lori laments the premium place on perfection in our society.
      According to the March of Dimes, one out of every 28 babies born in the U.S. will have some type of birth defect. That is over 150,000 babies per year. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 20% of the population has some sort of disability. With statistics such as these, it is surprising to me that magazines, television, and movies pretty much ignore this part of the population.

    And from our token man in this installment of our blog stroll, more on the names of God from The Irvins.