Sunday, July 31

Historic Church Documents: Various Statements of Faith

Okay, so most of them can't rightly be called historic, but I thought given all the creeds and confessions posted this month, it might be fun to list some links to statements of faith from various denominations and churches. For a bit of comparison, I'll include the statement on scripture from each one.

  • Salvation Army: Articles of War
    We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God; and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.

  • Evangelical Free Church of America: Statement of Faith
    We believe: The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men and the Divine and final authority for Christian faith and life.

  • Presbyterian Church in America: Statement of Faith
    We believe the Bible is the written word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit and without error in the original manuscripts. The Bible is the revelation of God's truth and is infallible and authoritative in all matters of faith and practice.

  • Assemblies of God: Statement of Fundamental Truths
    The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.

  • Pentacostal Assemblies of Canada: Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths
    All Scripture is given by inspiration of God by which we understand the whole Bible to be inspired in the sense that holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the very words of Scripture. Divine inspiration extends equally and fully to all parts of the original writings. The whole Bible in the original is, therefore, without error and, as such, is infallible, absolutely supreme and sufficient in authority in all matters of faith and practice.

    The Bible does not simply contain the Word of God, but is, in reality, the complete revelation and very Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit. Christian believers today receive spiritual illumination to enable them to understand the Scriptures, but God does not grant new revelations which are contrary or additional to inspired Biblical Truth.

  • Evangelical Covenant Church: Covenant Affirmations
    The Covenant Church states it's view of Scripture as follows: "the Holy Scripture, the Old and New Testament, is the Word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct."

  • Free Methodist Church of Canada: Articles of Religion
    The Bible is God's written Word, uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit. It bears unerring witness to Jesus Christ, the living Word. As attested by the early church and subsequent councils, it is the trustworthy record of God's revelation, completely truthful in all it affirms. It has been faithfully preserved and proves itself true in human experience. The Scriptures have come to us through human authors who wrote, as God moved them, in the languages and literary forms of their times. God continues, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, to speak through this Word to each generation and culture. The Bible has authority over all human life. It teaches the truth about God, His creation, His people, His one and only Son, and the destiny of all mankind. It also teaches the way of salvation and the life of faith. Whatever is not found in the Bible nor can be proved by it is not to be required as an article of belief or as necessary to salvation.

  • Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod: Doctrine
    1. We teach that the Holy Scriptures differ from all other books in the world in that they are the Word of God. They are the Word of God because the holy men of God who wrote the Scriptures wrote only that which the Holy Ghost communicated to them by inspiration, 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21. We teach also that the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures is not a so-called "theological deduction," but that it is taught by direct statements of the Scriptures, 2 Tim. 3:16, John 10:35, Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:13. Since the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, it goes without saying that they contain no errors or contradictions, but that they are in all their parts and words the infallible truth, also in those parts which treat of historical, geographical, and other secular matters, John 10:35.

    2. We furthermore teach regarding the Holy Scriptures that they are given by God to the Christian Church for the foundation of faith, Eph. 2:20. Hence the Holy Scriptures are the sole source from which all doctrines proclaimed in the Christian Church must be taken and therefore, too, the sole rule and norm by which all teachers and doctrines must be examined and judged. -- With the Confessions of our Church we teach also that the "rule of faith" (analogia fidei) according to which the Holy Scriptures are to be understood are the clear passages of the Scriptures themselves which set forth the individual doctrines. (Apology. Triglot, p. 441, Paragraph 60; Mueller, p. 684). The rule of faith is not the man-made so-called "totality of Scripture" ("Ganzes der Schrift").

    3. We reject the doctrine which under the name of science has gained wide popularity in the Church of our day that Holy Scripture is not in all its parts the Word of God, but in part the Word of God and in part the word of man and hence does, or at least, might contain error. We reject this erroneous doctrine as horrible and blasphemous, since it flatly contradicts Christ and His holy apostles, set up men as judges over the Word of God, and thus overthrows the foundation of the Christian Church and its faith.

  • Southern Baptist Convention: Baptist Faith and Message
    The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.

  • Orthdox Presbyterian Church: System of Doctrine
    The Bible, having been inspired by God, is entirely trustworthy and without error. Therefore, we are to believe and obey its teachings. The Bible is the only source of special revelation for the church today.

  • SIM: Statement of Faith
    The Bible, which is verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit in the canonical Scripture as originally given, and is the inerrant and authoritative Word of God.

  • Riverdale Baptist Church (my church): Statement of Faith
    We....believe in...[t]he divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Scripture, and the One it proclaims, in all its parts as the supreme and sufficient rule of faith and practice.

  • Bob adds his denomination: Vineyard: Statement of Faith
    WE BELIEVE that the Holy Spirit inspired the human authors of Holy Scripture so that the Bible is without error in the original manuscripts. We receive the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments as our final, absolute authority, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

  • Rich adds The American Association of Lutheran Churches: Statement of Biblical and Confessional Principles

    A. The inspiration of Scripture

    We believe, teach and confess that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit and that God is therefore the true Author of every word of Scripture. We acknowledge that there is a qualitative difference between the inspired witness of Holy Scripture in all its parts and words and the witness of every other form of human expression, making the Bible a unique book.

    We therefore reject the following views:

    1. That the Holy Scriptures are inspired only in the sense that all Christians are "inspired" to confess the lordship of Jesus Christ.

    2. That the Holy Spirit did not inspire the actual words of the Biblical authors but merely provided these men with special guidance.

    3. That only those matters in Holy Scripture were inspired by the Holy Spirit which directly pertain to Jesus Christ and man's salvation.

    4. That non canonical writings in the Christian tradition can be regarded as "inspired" in the same sense as Holy Scripture.

    5. That portions of the New Testament witnessing to Jesus Christ contain imaginative additions which had their origin in the early Christian community and do not present actual facts.

    Want to add your church or denomination or parachurch organization to the list? Find its statement of faith or equivalent statement and leave a link to it in the comments along with a quote from the section on scripture.
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    Scott Blogs

    Or is it Scott's Blog?

    Now the only guest blogger I've ever had has his own blog. It's called Magic Statistics. Pop on over to see why he chose that name.

    His latest post? God is "losing the fight against evil", in which he discusses
    [t]wo items with far-reaching theological implications [which] appear in today's online edition of London's Daily Telegraph....

    By Faith Abraham

    This is the fifth post in a series from Hebrews 11. You'll find all the posts done so far in this series listed here.

    Next up is is Abraham, who gets more space from the writer of Hebrews than anyone else among the faithful ancients. He was, of course, the most prominent figure to the Jews, and honored as the father of their race; but he had a special place to the New Testament Christians, too, for he was also the father of all believers. Here's what the first three verses of the section on Abraham's faith say:
    By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out without understanding where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10 NET)

    Remember in Genesis 12 when God tells Abraham to get up leave everything behind for a destination unknown? God tells him,

    "Go out from your country,
    your relatives,
    and your father's household
    to the land that I will show you."
    (Genesis 12:1 NET)

    Look how much Abraham was asked to leave behind. These were familiar things that he already possessed--solid things, things that brought security, things seen, if you will--and God asks him to leave them all. And Abraham does what God asked of him, his obedience grounded only on God's command and God's promise--the promise of God's blessing and of land in a place not known to him. God was asking him to act on the surety of things he couldn't see, to give up things visible for things yet invisible to him, and Abraham obeyed. The sort of conviction that is required to act on nothing but the command of God is real faith, and it is by faith that Abraham obeyed God's command without knowing what was in store for him.

    Even when Abraham reached the land promised to him, he didn't really settle there, but he lived as if he were a resident alien. When Sarah his wife died, Abraham had to purchase a field so she could be buried, and that was the only piece of land he ever owned there. Even Abraham's son and grandson, who were heirs to the promise from God just as Abraham was, continued to live in tents and did not possess the land of promise.

    If you think about it, Abraham had every reason to be disillusioned, and yet he was steadfast in his faith. The writer tells us that the reason he remained steadfast when his earthly circumstances gave him no grounds for it was because his hope was not grounded anything earthly, but in "the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God."

    This city, of course, was not any existing earthly city, but a city yet to come (Hebrews 13:14), a heavenly one (verse 16). It's the "city with firm foundations"--the sort of city you can count on to always be there, unlike a temporal city that passes in and out of existence over time. This city is unlike any earthly city because this one has God as both the architect and the builder. This city is planned and constructed by God alone, and is an eternal one.

    Abraham understood that there was an eternal realm that God was working in, and God was building according to his promises. Abraham could keep on trusting God and obeying him even though he didn't see the fulfillment of God's promises to him in his own lifetime, for he was sure of what he hoped for, and what he hoped for was not something that could be fulfilled by good things in this earthly life, but only by eternal life. What Abraham longed for above everything else was eternal life with God, life in a heavenly country, in the city built by God.

    Sunday's Hymn: Reader's Choice

    This hymn is a favorite of Jango. It's one by Josiah Conder.
    Thou Art the Everlasting Word

    Thou art the everlasting Word,
    The Father's only Son,
    God manifest, God seen and heard,
    The heaven's beloved One;
    The Lamb of God, exalted Lord
    Worthy art Thou to be adored!

    In Thee most perfectly expressed,
    The Father's self doth shine;
    Fulness of Godhead, too; the Blest,
    Eternally divine.
    With Thee before the Father's face,
    We celebrate His boundless grace.

    Image of the Infinite Unseen,
    Whose being none can know;
    Brightness of light no eye hath seen,
    God's love revealed below.
    The light of love has shone in Thee,
    And in that love our souls are free.

    The higher mysteries of Thy fame,
    The creature's grasp transcend;
    The Father only that blest name
    Of Son can comprehend.
    The sweetness of that name of love
    The Father gives us now to prove.

    Yet loving Thee, on whom His love
    Ineffable doth rest,
    Our hearts are led to Him above,
    And we with Thee are blest.
    The Father's name Thou hast declared,
    The Father's love with Thee is shared.

    Of the vast universe of bliss,
    The Centre Thou and Sun;
    The eternal theme of praise is this,
    That God's beloved Son
    Fills all that scene, where God alone
    In His own rest is fully known.

    This is a hymn I'm unfamiliar with, and I couldn't find much on the web about either this song or its author. I did find three different tunes listed for it, and since I'm not sure which one Jango uses, I'll just give you all of them. You can listen here, here, and here.

    Wonderful words, aren't they?

    You can choose a hymn to be featured here on Sunday, too.

    Saturday, July 30

    Historic Church Documents: The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

    This statement is from 1978, and was a product of an internation Summit Conference of evangelical leaders. Here is the short summary at the beginning of the statement.

    A Short Statement

    1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God's witness to Himself.

    2. Holy Scripture, being God's own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God's instruction, in all that it affirms: obeyed, as God's command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God's pledge, in all that it promises.

    3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture's divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.

    4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives.

    5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible's own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
    Four years later, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics was produced, and the four years after that, there was a statement on Biblical application.

    This Morning

    I'm doing the same thing Carla is.

    The sons went garage saling with me last week and found a vintage Silvertones electric guitar for $10.00, so they're the ones dragging me out of the house this morning. Amazing how one find can change a reluctant garage saler into the gung-ho sort.

    Friday, July 29

    As You Can See

    I've messed things up and lost much of what was on my sidebar. I'll get things back in order as I have time.

    Historic Church Documents: The Jerusalem Decree

    Wondering why all these historic church documents are posted here this month? That'd be because I've declared July to be Historic Church Document Month.

    How could I forget this one? From Acts 15:22-29, NET:
    Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to send men chosen from among them, Judas called Barsabbas and Silas, leaders among the brothers, to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent this letter with them:

    From the apostles and elders, your brothers, to the Gentile brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia,

    Greetings! Since we have heard that some have gone out from among us with no orders from us and have confused you, upsetting your minds by what they said, we have unanimously decided to choose men to send to you along with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas who will tell you these things themselves in person. For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from doing these things, you will do well. Farewell.

    The Upward Call: Yet another probing theological question

    Kim the Questioner is at it again. This time she's asking our opinion of this statement:Love covers a multitude of sins, including bad theology.

    Rice Krispies Cookies

    These come in a close second, right behind Snickerdoodles, in the favorite cookie department at our house. This recipe comes from my aunt, who raised 8 children on very little money, so as an added bonus, this an easy and frugal recipe, too.
    • 1 cup shortening
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1-3/4 cup flour
    • 1 teaspoon soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 cup oatmeal
    • 2 cups crisped rice cereal
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Cream the shortening and the two sugars together in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and eggs.
    3. Stir the flour, soda, salt, and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Stir in to the creamed mixture.
    4. Stir in the oatmeal, and then the rice krispies.
    5. Form dough into 1-1/2 balls and place onto an ungreased baking sheet.
    6. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly brown.
    7. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

    This yields 36 large cookies. We usually at least double the recipe, since the cookies store or freeze well, and we're cookie hogs anyway.

    Thursday, July 28

    Historic Church Documents: Your Suggestions

    Have I missed one you'd like to see linked and quoted? Get your suggestions in quick, because there are only a couple of days left in July!

    There are two I'm purposefully not posting, and those are The Articles of Remonstrance and The Canons of Dordt. I have future plans for those two.

    On Sunday I plan to post a roundup of statements of faith from various churches and denominations, and perhaps a para-church organization or two, as well. You can have your church's or denomination's or organization's statement of faith included in the list of links by posting the link in the comments of this post. I will reserve the right to not link to any statement of faith that I consider to be too far outside the pale of orthodoxy.

    For Once, I Was Right!


    Round the Sphere Again

  • This week's Christian Carnival is up at Daddypundit.

  • From G. E. Ladd, An Eschatology for Laymen. Hat tip for this goes to Gad(d)about, a blog I'd never been to before, but it looks interesting, so you might want to check it out, too.

  • I had planned to link to Phil on phads, but I waited too long, and now it's become the trendy post of the week, and is much too hot for an old-fogey like me to handle.

    [Update: There a new faddish post up: What's wrong with jumping on and off the fad-wagons? Good stuff, and maybe I can link to this one before linking becomes the cool thing to do.]

  • Woe is me! I was going to point out the Reformation 21 Blog--the blog of the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, but alas, the dust it's stirring up in the blogosphere points to one thing: another bandwagon.

  • Are you a little unsure about copyright and the net? You'll want to read 10 Big Myths about copyright explained.

  • In the everything you need to know department: How to Sing the Blues, brought to you courtesy of the Jollyblogger.

  • If you ever doubted that things in northern towns are a little like the wild west--and we're talkin' artic coast, not Chicago--read this.

  • In the search queries of the past week department, first up, it's goodnight sleep well ill most likely ki. That one confused me for a few days, but I'm betting you're more clever than I am and can guess which post it led to right away.

    And then there's this: believer baptism versus covenant baptism. The post linked to explains that I think believer's baptism IS covenant baptism.
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    Wednesday, July 27

    ROUS and Another Large Beast

    In the movie, of course, the rodents-of-unusual-size were rat-like. Here in the Yukon, they were beaverish, and I've got the photo* to prove it. My dog, as you can see, doesn't like them very much. It could be those teeth-of-unusual size that scare her, or it could be the booming hollow metalic sound the creature makes when accidently thumped.

    Speaking of giant beaver teeth, I have it on good authority that
    [u]nlike modern beavers with their short smooth-surfaced cutting teeth (incisors), giant beavers had cutting teeth up to 15 cm long with prominently-ridged outer surfaces. Perhaps these strong enamel ridges would have acted as girders to support such long teeth. Although experts on ancient life (paleontologists) do not agree on the function of the cutting teeth, it seems that they could have acted as both wood cutters and gougers.
    Girders and cutters and gougers? No wonder my dog's scared of them. But those of us who can read know that there's no reason to be scared as long as you're not a vegetable. Some scientists believe that even trees were probably more than those beavers could chew and they were content to eat "coarse swamp vegetation such as roots and cattails."

    In Minnesota, workers excavating for a road found an almost complete giant beaver skeleton. Well, he wasn't quite giant yet, since he would have weighed only 250 lbs. or so, and as everyone knows, grownup giant beavers weigh closer to 500 lbs.

    Students from Minnesota petitioned the state government to name the giant beaver, more correctly known as Castoroides ohioensis, as the state fossil. Fortunately, older and wiser heads prevailed, and the petition was refused, because, among other things, the super-sized version of the beaver was already named after the state of Ohio. The students countered, without success, that some states had the regular-sized beaver (Castor canadensis) as their state animal, and that animal, after all, was named for a whole 'nuther country.

    By now, I suppose you're wondering why the giant beaver became extinct. That's a good question. Probably part of it is that they just weren't equipped for a fight and they weren't equipped for hiding, either. Scientists blame global warming, too, but we all know they tend to use that excuse for everything bad that happens. Native legends blame the Hobomuck, a giant spirit**, who hit the giant beaver with a stick and killed it, and ever since, there have been no giant beavers swimming the ponds of the earth. I'm guessing that was a wasted effort, because if there was only one, they were on their way out, anyway.

    Now that we've come to the point of extinction of the giant beaver, it's probably time to move on to the other large beast promised in the title. I've mentioned him (or is it her?) here before, and he/she's been spotted in Teslin again, this time by at least nine people at once. Intriguingly, the big guy also left a big footprint (or was a bigfoot print?) and a tuft of hair behind.

    As I write this, scientists are busily studying that hair to determine what sort of creature it came from. One biologist is 99.9% sure from his examination that it is hair from a bison. The DNA test results are due out today or tomorrow. I'm betting it's 100% bison.

    And if it is, that'll prove nothing at all. If sasquatches exist, it seems quite clear that they don't much want to be found. Who's to say every sasquatch doesn't carry a clump of bison hair in the pocket of his ape suit so that if he's ever unfortunate enough to see nine people staring at him he can leave a bit-o-bison behind to throw them off track?

    *No, we don't have snow year round in the Yukon, despite what some might think. This photo was taken last winter.

    **Yes, I know you're wondering too: How, pray-tell, can something immaterial have size?



    Historic Church Documents: Westminster Shorter Catechism

    Wondering why all these historic church documents are posted here this month? That'd be because I've declared July to be Historic Church Document Month.

    This one's just for DianeR, who tells us that one of her ancestors played a very important role in the wording of this catechism:
    There were four Scottish pastors invited to the mostly Anglican Westminister Assembly to craft this confession together.

    One of those Scottish pastors was a direct ancestor of mine. In fact, he was the one who answred the first question.

    One day he was asked to open the convention with prayer. In his prayer were the words, "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." When the delegates tackled the first question which was "What is the chief end of man?" they remembered my ancestor's prayer and decided that was the perfect answer.

    My ancestor's name was George Gillespie and he was the youngest delegate there I believe.

    Here's that famous first question and answer, with scriptural proofs:
    Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

    A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, [a] and to enjoy him for ever. [b]
    [a]. Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11
    [b]. Ps. 16:5-11; 144:15; Isa. 12:2; Luke 2:10; Phil. 4:4; Rev. 21:3-4

    You'll find the whole shorter catechism here.

    What about the Larger Catechism? It's the shorter catechism, plus more, and you'll find it here: Questions 1-97, Questions 98-196.

    Now wasn't that fun?

    Tuesday, July 26

    Cantlie Lake Geocache

    Here's the geocache page for the geocache my sons and friend placed on their fishing trip to Cantlie Lake

    By Faith Noah

    This is the fourth post in a series on Hebrews 11. Here are post one, post two and post three.

    After telling us about the faith of Enoch, the writer moves on to the next faithful "ancient" on his list.
    By faith Noah, when he was warned about things not yet seen, with reverent regard constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family. Through faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7 NET)

    In Genesis, we can find God's warning to Noah about "things not seen".
    I am about to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy from under the sky all the living creatures that have the breath of life in them. (Genesis 6:17 NET)
    The flood God warned of was unseen in the sense that it was still to come, and it was also unseen in the sense that it was beyond and unlike anything Noah had experienced. God spoke a warning and gave a command for Noah to follow, and that word from the eternal, unseen realm was more real to Noah than what his own five senses must have told him. There was no sensory evidence of what was to come, only God's word, but Noah was convinced of what was not seen, and out of his reverent regard for God's communication to him, he acted in this visible world on the basis of the surety of what was yet unseen to him.

    He obeyed God's command to him, but those around him--the "world"--did not heed God's warning as Noah did. Noah's faithful obedience stands in stark contrast to their attitude of disobedience. His faith in action condemned them.

    But more than that, he came into possession of something through his faith. Noah "became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." His status changed as a result of his faith, and he was given the righteous standing before God that comes through faith. *

    *This is not the way the writer of Hebrews most often uses the word "righteousness", but it does seem to be the way he uses it here.

    Monday, July 25

    Book Review: Beyond the Shadowlands

    C. S. Lewis on Heaven and Hell by Wayne Martindale, reviewed as part of a program at The Diet of Bookworms.

    In my younger years, I read almost all of the popular books C. S. Lewis wrote; and in the last several years, I've given many of them another run-through as my own children grow interested in them. Circumstances, too, have caused me to spend a lot of time recently thinking about the afterlife. I was pleased, then, to be given the chance to read and review a book that parallels my own interests so closely.

    What did I learn? Well, for one thing, I understood more fully how extensively my reading of Lewis influenced my own view of the afterlife, particularly when it comes to how I envision heaven. For a long time, I've considered the fleeting experiences of true loveliness that we have in this life to be brief glimpses into the heavenly realm; and the longing we have because those glimpses are lost so quickly is, deep down, a longing for the everlasting beauty of heaven. Heaven will give us what we long for; and the breathtaking beauty of a wilderness landscape, or a haunting piece of music, or even those moments when husband and wife understand and love each other so deeply that it hurts, point not to the beautiful wilderness itself or the music or the love, but beyond those things to the reality of heaven, when we will experience forever, always, steadily, the quality of perfect fulfillment for which those moments are but the briefest hints. These glimpses of heaven and the longing they cause are a theme found throughout Lewis's work.

    Many of the other ideas I have about heaven may well have come from Lewis's writings, too. One of the things about myths and mythical stories is that we learn things without being so aware of it. They speak to us at a level below (or, more likely, above) the analytical one, and something that would have taken pages to explain to us in a didactic sort of writing--and even then we would not have gotten the heart of the matter--we understand fully, deeply, within our souls, with just one image. That's the greatest strength of imaginative stories: Through them we see and feel and know what we might not understand so completely otherwise.

    And that's where the danger of mythical stories lies as well. It's easy for an imaginative image of things heavenly or hellish to become part of how we see the real heaven and hell without any thought on our part as to whether they are actually a helpful sort of image. Even when the image was meant to convey something right about heaven or hell, we may give little thought to whether the idea we carry away from that image is the correct one. For instance, in our mind's eye, we may see heaven as streets of gold and white angels and harps. If we take from that image the idea that heaven is a rich place, a pure place, and a joyful place, then the image has served us well enough, for it has conveyed real truth about the real heaven to us. If we see the image of golden streets, angels and harps, and think "How unbearably boring!", then the image has not worked to give us a right idea about the real heaven, which will be the most exciting place ever--the sort of place for which all the Christmas celebrations and birthday parties and thrilling trips of our life have been the palest shadows.

    Martindale shows us how C. S. Lewis has remythologized heaven and hell in his work. Lewis's work can help us see which of the ideas we have about the afterlife are wrong, and give us new myths to help us understand things more as they might be. Of course, we need to examine Lewis's myths as well to see if they are helping us grasp heaven as it really is or not. Martindale points to a few places where Lewis might have let what pleased his imagination stand over against what might be reasonably gleaned from scripture. Sometimes, perhaps, Lewis too easily let his love for an idea persuade him of the rightness of it.

    There are times, too, when Martindale seems to accept the correctness of Lewis's thoughts when I wouldn't. For instance, there's the idea that predestination is simply historical events seen from the viewpoint of a timeless* God, who sees all of history laid out before him in one glance, and things that from our viewpoint are yet to come into reality are forever existing from his vantage point. It seems to me that this idea misses the boat because it misses the point that God intends to convey when he tells us that something was planned before the foundation of the world. When scripture tells us that something was predestined or planned outside of time, it is not telling us merely that God views that event "timelessly," and thus it is really a done deal before (or outside of) the experience of it by timelocked creatures; rather, it is also telling us something about the logical cause of that event. That event happens in time because God planned it, and God's plan brings it to pass. There may be other causes as well, like the choices of creatures in time, but the first cause is God's thought.

    However, this is just a very minor quibble in comparison to the strength of the whole of this book. If you've read several books by C. S. Lewis, you'll probably find this book fascinating. All of his ideas about the afterlife gathered together in one book makes for a thrilling read. You'll be reminded why you long for the real heaven--a longing that is, above everything else, a longing for God himself. If you haven't read much from C. S. Lewis, I suggest you remedy that as soon as you can, and then read this book. We would all do well to think more on the substance of heaven and hell, for those who see the reality of the unseen--who, like the ancients, "desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one"--are those who live more nobly--more faithfully--upon this earth.

    *The quibbler must quibble some more. I don't much like to use the word "timeless" in regards to God. He is timeless if all one means by that is that God exists eternally. He is not timeless, if that means that time exists separately from him; rather, God encompasses time. He's beyond it and he includes it. He also works within it.

    You'll find more reviews of this book at the Diet of Bookworms.

    Historic Church Documents: The Westminster Confession of Faith

    Wondering why all these historic church documents are posted here this month? That'd be because I've declared July to be Historic Church Document Month.

    This is the biggie. This confession was adopted by the Scottish General Assembly in 1647, and it replaced the Scots Confession and the Heidelburg Catechism. The Puritans and the Scotch Irish Presbyterians brought it with them to North America. It was also served as a framework for the London Baptist Confession of 1689, so you'll find the influence of this confession is widespread throughout many denominations.

    So what did it say? You'll find the whole answer here, but I'll post a couple of highlights.
  • CHAPTER I: Of the holy Scripture.

    Sections III-VI

    III. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.

    IV. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

    V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the holy Scripture; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

    VI. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

  • CHAPTER V: Of Providence.

    I. God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

    II. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.

    III. God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.

    IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first Fall, and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

    V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.

    VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden; from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had; and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptatoins of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.

    VII. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.
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    Only in the Yukon: Carcross Desert

    It's known as the world's smallest desert, and it is an itty-bitty thing, all of 260 hectares or so.

    But is it really a desert at all?



    Christian Carnival Reminder

    Tomorrow night (July 26) at midnight EST is the deadline for this week's Christian Carnival entries. Send your submission to the Christian Carnival email addy: ChristianCarnival [ATT] gmail [DOTT] com. In your email include

  • the name of your blog
  • the URL of your blog
  • the title of your post
  • the URL of your post
  • a short description of your post
  • the trackback URL to your post if you have trackback

    Then expect to see your submission posted in Wednesday's (July 27) Christian Carnival at Daddypundit.

    You can find more detailed participation instructions here.
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    Sunday, July 24

    Sunday's Hymn: Reader's Choice

    This week's hymn is chosen for us by Jeri.
    I went to church with my grandmother (my Granny) in rural Alabama when I was a child, and I loved to go to her Sunday school class with her and be around all those old people. This was a hymn she used to sing around the house as she worked and when she rocked me sometimes...I don't remember if they sang it in church or not, but it has a plaintive mountain-folk feel, being in a minor key, and I'd love to know the history of it. Anyway, it's called, I guess, "I Will Arise".

    It's called "I Will Arise" in many southern U.S. sources, but in the Cyberhymnal, it's called "Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy".
    Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Weary

    Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
    Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
    Jesus ready stands to save you,
    Full of pity, love and power.


    I will arise and go to Jesus,
    He will embrace me in His arms;
    In the arms of my dear Savior,
    O there are ten thousand charms.

    Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
    God's free bounty glorify;
    True belief and true repentance,
    Every grace that brings you nigh.

    Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
    Lost and ruined by the fall;
    If you tarry till you're better,
    You will never come at all.

    View Him prostrate in the garden;
    On the ground your Maker lies.
    On the bloody tree behold Him;
    Sinner, will this not suffice?

    Lo! th'incarnate God ascended,
    Pleads the merit of His blood:
    Venture on Him, venture wholly,
    Let no other trust intrude.

    Let not conscience make you linger,
    Not of fitness fondly dream;
    All the fitness He requireth
    Is to feel your need of Him.

    [Update: Kim had chosen this one, too, but I hadn't noticed. She writes:
    "Venture on Him, venture wholly, let no other trust intrude"--I can't sing that without my heart lifting in praise and tears springing to my eyes.

    If there was ever a few words that could keep a Pilgrim's feet on the path, I think those are the ones. "Venture on Him, venture wholly, Let no other trust intrude"

    At our church when we sing it that verse it is followed by, "None but Jesus, none but Jesus, can do helpless sinners good."

    Jesus can do helpless sinners good; no one else can.

    An amazing hymn and one that lifts my heart.]

    The words were written by Joseph Hart, a British preacher, and published in 1759. The tune is called "Restoration". It's an Appalacian folk tune published by William Walker in The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion in 1835. William Walker used the shaped note system to compile these songs, and this song is still often sung by shaped note singing groups, usually with the words to "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" for the verses and the words from "Come Ye Sinners" for the refrain. You can listen to one shaped note choir singing this tune here. (Shaped note groups sing the names of the notes the first time through, and the words to the song after that.)

    If that's too much for you, listen to a simple piano.

    You don't know what shaped notes are? I remember my mom talking about them. She'd experienced them either singing in little churches while we lived in Tennessee, or perhaps even with some her own relatives from Missouri. In the shaped note system, the various notes are distinguished by their shapes rather than their placement on the staff. Some old hymnals have both types of notation, with shaped notes placed on a staff, so people acquainted with either system can sight read the music.

    [Update: You'll find a bit of an explanation of shape-note singing here, and here is a whole page of links to midi files of traditional shape-note singing groups.

    If you're interested in traditional American Christian music, you'll probably find this page as much fun as I did.]

    You can choose a hymn to be featured here on Sunday, too.

    Saturday, July 23

    At the Alaska-Canada Border

    on the Klondike Highway south to Carcross, near the summit of the highway.

    Historic Church Documents: The Genevan Confession

    Wondering why all these historic church documents are posted here this month? That'd be because I've declared July to be Historic Church Document Month.

    Theodore Beza attributed this particular confession to John Calvin, although many consider William Farel to be the more likely author. We do know that Farel and Calvin presented the document to the magistrates of the Senate of Geneva in 1536 and it was the confession "which all the citizens and inhabitants of Geneva and the subjects of the country must promise to keep and hold." Here is some of what it says.

    • I. The Word of God
      First we affirm that we desire to follow Scripture alone as rule of faith and religion, without mixing with it any other thing which might be devised by the opinion of men apart from the Word of God, and without wishing to accept for our spiritual government any other doctrine than what is conveyed to us by the same Word without addition or diminution, acccording to the command of our Lord.

    • IV. Natural Man
      We acknowledge man by nature to be blind, darkened in understanding, and full of corruption and perversity of heart, so that of himself he has no power to be able to comprehend the true knowledge of God as is proper, nor to apply himself to good works. But on the contrary, if he is left by God to what he is by nature, he is only able to live in ignorance and to be abandoned to all iniquity. Hence he has need to be illumined by Fod, so that he come to the right knowledge of his salvation, and thus to be redirected in his affections and reformed to the obedience of the righteousness of God.

    • VI. Salvation in Jesus
      We confess then that it is Jesus Christ who is given to us by the Father, in order that in him we should recover all of which in ourselves we are deficient. Now all that Jesus Christ has done and suffered for our redemption, we veritably hold without any doubt, as it is contained in the Creed, which is recited in the Church, that is to say: I believe in God the Father Almighty, and so on.

    You will find the whole of the confession at the link in the beginning of this post.

    Friday, July 22

    Only in the Yukon: Emerald Lake

    The lake is that brilliant greeny blue because the lake bottom is white marl made up of decomposed shells and clay.



    Thursday, July 21

    Historic Church Documents: The Scots Confession

    Wondering why all these historic church documents are posted here this month? That'd be because I've declared July to be Historic Church Document Month.

    This confession was composed by John Knox and 5 other ministers at the request of the Scottish Parliament, and was ratified by the Parliament in 1560. You can read more of the history surrounding it here.

    Here's a little of what's included in the confession:
    Chapter 6: The Incarnation of Jesus Christ

    When the fullness of time came God sent his Son, his eternal wisdom, the substance of his own glory, into this world, who took the nature of humanity from the substance of a woman, a virgin, by means of the Holy Ghost. And so was born the "just seed of David," the "Angel of the great counsel of God," the very Messiah promised, whom we confess and acknowledge to be Emmanuel, true God and true man, two perfect natures united and joined in one person. So by our Confession, we condemn the damnable and pestilent heresies of Arius, Marcion, Eutyches, Nestorius, and such others as did either deny the eternity of his Godhead, or the truth of his humanity, or confounded them, or else divided them.

    Chapter 7: Why the Mediator Had to Be True God and True Man

    We acknowledge and confess that this wonderful union between the Godhead and the humanity in Christ Jesus did arise from the eternal and immutable decree of God from which all our salvation springs and depends.

    Chapter 18: The Notes by Which the True Kirk Shall Be Determined From The False, and Who Shall Be Judge of Doctrine

    Since Satan has labored from the beginning to adorn his pestilent synagogue with the title of the Kirk of God, and has incited cruel murderers to persecute, trouble, and molest the true Kirk and its members, as Cain did to Abel, Ishmael to Isaac, Esau to Jacob, and the whole priesthood of the Jews to Christ Jesus himself and his apostles after him. So it is essential that the true Kirk be distinguished from the filthy synagogues by clear and perfect notes lest we, being deceived, receive and embrace, to our own condemnation, the one for the other. The notes, signs, and assured tokens whereby the spotless bride of Christ is known from the horrible harlot, the false Kirk, we state, are neither antiquity, usurped title, lineal succession, appointed place, nor the numbers of men approving an error. For Cain was before Abel and Seth in age and title; Jerusalem had precedence above all other parts of the earth, for in it were priests lineally descended from Aaron, and greater numbers followed the scribes, Pharisees, and priests, than unfeignedly believed and followed Christ Jesus and his doctrine . . . and yet no man of judgment, we suppose, will hold that any of the forenamed were the Kirk of God. The notes of the true Kirk, therefore, we believe, confess, and avow to be: first, the true preaching of the Word of God, in which God has revealed himself to us, as the writings of the prophets and apostles declare; secondly, the right administration of the sacraments of Christ Jesus, with which must be associated the Word and promise of God to seal and confirm them in our hearts; and lastly, ecclesiastical discipline uprightly ministered, as God's Word prescribes, whereby vice is repressed and virtue nourished. Then wherever these notes are seen and continue for any time, be the number complete or not, there, beyond any doubt, is the true Kirk of Christ, who, according to his promise, is in its midst. This is not that universal Kirk of which we have spoken before, but particular Kirks, such as were in Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, and other places where the ministry was planted by Paul and which he himself called Kirks of God. Such Kirks, we the inhabitants of the realm of Scotland confessing Christ Jesus, do claim to have in our cities, towns, and reformed districts because of the doctrine taught in our Kirks, contained in the written Word of God, that is, the Old and New Testaments, in those books which were originally reckoned as canonical. We affirm that in these all things necessary to be believed for the salvation of man are sufficiently expressed. The interpretation of Scripture, we confess, does not belong to any private or public person, nor yet to any Kirk for pre-eminence or precedence, personal or local, which it has above others, but pertains to the Spirit of God by whom the Scriptures were written. When controversy arises about the right understanding of any passage or sentence of Scripture, or for the reformation of any abuse within the Kirk of God, we ought not so much to ask what men have said or done before us, as what the Holy Ghost uniformly speaks within the body of the Scriptures and what Christ Jesus himself did and commanded. For it is agreed by all that the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of unity, cannot contradict himself. So if the interpretation or opinion of any theologian, Kirk, or council, is contrary to the plain Word of God written in any other passage of the Scripture, it is most certain that this is not the true understanding and meaning of the Holy Ghost, although councils, realms, and nations have approved and received it. We dare not receive or admit any interpretation which is contrary to any principal point of our faith, or to any other plain text of Scripture, or to the rule of love.

    Links to all the chapters of the confession are found at the first link at the top of this post.

    By Faith Enoch

    This is the third post in a series on Hebrews 11. You can find the previous posts here and here.

    Enoch is the second of the faithful "ancients" to be listed in this chapter. Here's what the writer of Hebrews says in regards to Enoch and his faith:
    By faith Enoch was taken up so that he did not see death, and he was not to be found because God took him up. For before his removal he had been commended as having pleased God. Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:5,6 NET)

    You'll remember Enoch from the Old Testament as the the man who "walked with God". Here's what the Genesis record of his life tells us:
    When Enoch had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God for three hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. The entire lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God, and then he disappeared because God took him away. (Genesis 5: 21-24 NET)
    There's not a whole lot there, and what is there is just a little mysterious, isn't it? Yet the writer of Hebrews sees an important lesson on faith for us in Enoch's life.

    It was as a result of his faith the Enoch did not see death. The Old Testament account tells us simply that "God took him away." Enoch was just there one day and gone the next, and this mysteriously thrilling end to his life on earth was because he had faith.

    You'll notice that those verses from Genesis don't say explicitly that Enoch had faith, but the author of Hebrews points out to us that this is implied in the story. That Enoch received God commendation as having pleased him is implicit in the statements that Enoch "walked with God", and since it is impossible to please God without faith, we can conclude that Enoch had faith.

    The writer then points us to two things about the nature of faith that can be learned from Enoch. That Enoch approached God (or walked with him) in faith required two things: Belief in the existence of God, and belief in the goodness of God's character. No one can come to God if they don't believe he's really there, so believing in his existence is a necessary first step toward faith, but it's not enough. James tells us that even the demons go this far. They believe there is one God, but their reaction toward him is not one of trust in his goodness, but rather revulsion and fear. There's no way those demons want to walk with the God they know exists. However, the person of faith sees the God they know exists as a God who "rewards those who seek him." A person with faith in God understands that God has good things for those who seek him out, and so they want to be with him, and they want to walk with him like Enoch did.

    Wednesday, July 20

    Favorite Well-Known Living Preachers

    Who wants to know? Adrian does.
    My proposal is that people link to this post and share up to five preachers (in no order of priority) that are well known to many who have blessed them and why.
    I have to admit that I haven't listened to many well-known living preachers. In the well-known department, I'm more of a dead preacher sort. If you've got favorites, though, I suggest you list them and link to Adrian's post.

    Who knows? I might even use the list to increase my horizons.

    Round the Sphere Again

  • This is the place for the link to this week's Christian Carnival once it's up and I find out where it is. There's been a bit of a mix up, but I'm sure it'll all be sorted out before long. [Update: And here we have it: This week's Christian Carnival. Thanks to ChristWeb for hosting on very short notice.]

  • A couple of interviews of note:
    1. Joe Missionary has an interview with Wayne Leman of Better Bibles Blog. Wayne is a linguist, and a Bible translator with the Cheyennes. Wayne says that
      there are several Native American groups still speaking their languages and understanding them better than they understand English, so that they benefit from a Bible translation in their own language. Currently we have teams helping with translation into the following Native American languages in the U.S. and Canada (they are called First Nations languages in Canada): Choctaw, Fox, some in the Southwest of the U.S., Crow, Lakhota Sioux, Ute, Gwich'in, Siberian Yupik, Carrier, and several Cree dialects (each needing their own translation).
      Gwich'in, by the way, is the first language of many of the people in this town. You can read a little bit about their language and language translation here.

    2. Adrian Warnock has an interview with Nancy Pearcy. On the concept of worldview, Nancy says,
      People who talk about a worldview are seeking to overcome the sacred/secular divide that keeps Christian faith compartmentalized into a narrow part of life explicitly labeled "religion." We are convinced that Christianity gives a framework of truth for all of life--for science, economics, education, medicine, and so on.
      Go read the whole interview for more.

  • Christian Counterculture Newsletter has an article by Jerram Barrs entitled Harry Potter and His Critics. To whet your appetite:
    ...Christians should be prepared to celebrate what is good and cultivate Biblical discernment in the midst of our Culture. This is what any Christian should do in regard to the Harry Potter books or anything else. You will have to decide for yourself if the Harry Potter books are good for you or your children, but please do so in a way that is thoughtful and discerning according to the Biblical picture of truth, beauty, and goodness, not in a way that is suspicious of anything popular in our culture, or that is untruthful and unkind.
    Hat tip: Grantian Florilegium.

  • Here's a useful blog that consists of links to the websites of various Christian scholars and theologians.

  • And our very own Violet of promptings has one of her poems, Some Words, published in Prairie Messenger. Make sure you read it.
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    Meme: What's on the Nightstand?

    I've been tagged for this meme by Norma. I've decided to answer the question by taking a photo of my nightstand.

    There you go.
    1. A lamp I bought at a garage sale several years ago.
    2. A jewelry box made for me by my husband before we were married. It was a project for a woodworking class.
    3. A book: Beyond the Shadowlands by Wayne Martindale.
    4. Three magazines: House Beautiful--the British edition, which is much better than the American one, if you ask me; Country Living--on this one the American edition is tops; and Burda--you know, the German magazine with all the wonderful sewing patterns in the middle.
    5. The T.V. remote control.
    6. A yellow highlighting marker. This one is really old. How old? Well, it's been decorated with a glue stick and glitter by one of my children, and my youngest is 15.
    7. A clock radio.
    8. Two jars of coins, along with a quarter, a nickel, and a penny lying loose.
    9. A little Lego basketball the cat was batting around my bedroom.
    10. A tube of tear gel. The eye doctor says I need to use it every night.
    11. Fingernail polish remover and 5 jars of fingernail polish. I never, ever do my nails--I'd like too, but that's a whole lot of work for something that lasts about half an hour--but I did paint my toenails in order to wear sandals to the wedding I went to last month. I really ought to put that stuff away!
    What's on your nightstand? If you'd like to do this meme, leave a comment and consider yourself tagged.

    Tuesday, July 19

    Historic Church Documents: The First London Baptist Confession

    Wondering why all these historic church documents are posted here this month? That'd be because I've declared July to be Historic Church Document Month.

    This is the first Baptist confession, the one that isn't really just a copy of another confession with all the necessary Baptistic changes made. There are four editions of this (I think!)--1644, 1646, 1651 and 1652. These excerpts are from the 1644 edition.

  • A CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London, which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.

  • But this I confesse unto thee, that after the way which they call heresie so worship I the God of my Fathers, beleeving all things that are written in the Law and the Prophets, and have hope towards God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead both of the just and unjust. - Acts xxiv. 14, 15.

    For we cannot but speak the things that we have seen and heard. - Acts iv. 20.

    If I have spoken evill, bear witnesse of the evill; but if well, why smitest thou me? - John xviii. 23.

    Blessed are yee when men revile you, and say all manner of evil against you falsly for my sake. Rejoice, etc. - Matth. v.11, 12. & xix. 29.

  • I. That God as He is in Himself, cannot be comprehended of any but himself, dwelling in that inaccessible light, that no eye can attain unto, whom never man saw, nor can see; that there is but one God, one Christ, one Spirit, one Faith, one Baptism; one rule of holiness and obedience for all Saints, at all times, in all places to be observed.

    1 Tim. 6:16; 1 Tim. 2:5; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Cor. 12: 4-6,13; John 14; 1 Tim. 6:3,13,14; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Tim. 3:15

  • XIII: This office to be mediator, that is, to be prophet, priest, and king of the Church of God, is so proper to Christ, that neither in whole, or any part thereof, it cannot be transferred from Him to any other.

    1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:24; Dan. 7:14; Acts 4:12; Luke 1:33; John 14:6.

  • XXI. Jesus Christ by His death did purchase salvation for the elect that God gave unto Him: These only have interest in Him, and fellowship with Him, for whom He makes intercession to His Father in their behalf, and to them alone doth God by His Spirit apply this redemption; as also the free gift of eternal life is given to them, and none else.

    Eph. 1:14; Heb. 5:9; Matt. 1:21; John 17:6; Heb. 7:25; 1 Cor. 2:12; Rom. 8:29,30; 1 John 5:12; John 15:35, 3:16.

  • XXII. Faith is the gift of God, wrought in the hearts of the elect by the Spirit of God; by which faith they come to know and believe the truth of the Scriptures, and the excellency of them above all other writings, and all things in the world, as they hold forth the glory of God in His attributes, the execellency of Christ in His nature and offices, and of the power and fulness of the Spirit in its [His] workings and operations; and so are enabled to cast their souls upon His truth thus believed.

    Eph. 2:8; John 6:29, 4:10; Phil. 1:29; Gal. 5:22; John 17:17; Heb. 4:11,12; John 6:63.

  • XXIII. All those that have this precious faith wrought in them by the Spirit, can never finally nor totally fall away; seeing the gifts of God are without repentance; so that He still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise, and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock, which by faith they are fastened upon; not withstanding, through unbelief, and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of this light and love, be clouded and overwhelmed for a time; yet God is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palms of His hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.

    Matt. 7:24,25; John 13:10, 10:28,29; 1 Pet. 1:4,5,6; Isa. 49:13,14,15,16.

  • XXIV. Faith is ordinarily begotten by the preaching of the gospel, or word of Christ, without respect to any power or agency in the creature; but it being wholly passive, and dead in trespasses and sins, doth believe and is converted by no less power than that which raised Christ from the dead.

    Rom. 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:28; Rom. 9:16; Ezek. 16:16; Rom. 3:12, 1:16; Eph. 1:19, Col. 2:12.

  • XXV. The preaching of the gospel to the conversion of sinners, is absolutely free; no way requiring as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, or terrors of the law, or preceding ministry of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and ungodly, to receive Christ crucified, dead and buried, and risen again; who is made a prince and a Savior for such sinners as through the gospel shall be brought to believe on Him.

    John 3:14,15, 1:12; Isa. 55:1; John 7:37; 1 Tim. 1:15; Rom. 4:5, 5:8; Acts 5:30,31, 2:36, 1 Cor. 1:22,24.

    You can read the whole confession at the link given above.
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    Monday, July 18

    By Faith Abel

    This is the second post in a series on Hebrews 11. You can find the first post here.

    After the preliminary remarks of verse 1-3, the writer of Hebrews begins to go through his list of the faithful "people of old", showing us the significance of faith in their lives. He starts way back at the beginning, with Abel, one of the sons of Adam and Eve.
    By faith Abel offered God a greater sacrifice than Cain, and through his faith he was commended as righteous, because God commended him for his offerings. And through his faith he still speaks, though he is dead. (Hebrews 11:4 NET)
    You remember the story, right? Eve had two sons. Cain, the first son, grew up to be a "tiller of the ground", and Able, the second born, kept sheep. The two sons each brought an offering to the Lord: Cain from the harvest of his crops, and Abel from the firstborn of his flocks.

    The Genesis account tells us that
    ....the Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, but with Cain and his offering he was not pleased. (Genesis 4: 4,5 NET)
    Undoubtedly you've heard the same reasons given for God being pleased with Abel's sacrifice but not with Cains that I have. I remember being told in Sunday School as a child that Abel brought his best to God, and Cain brought leftovers. Later, I was told that the acceptability of Abel's sacrifice had to do with his being a blood sacrifice while Cain's was not.

    Neither of these explanations comes directly from scripture, however. In this passage, the writer of Hebrews points to something other than the substance of the sacrifice as the reason for God's acceptance of the one sacrifice and rejection of the other. It was, he says, Abel's attitude that made the difference. Abel offered his sacrifice "by faith", and because of his faith God spoke of him as righteous.

    God spoke of Abel, and because of that Abel still speaks to us. Abel has been dead longer than anyone else on the face of the earth, yet his story is much more than a bit of historical trivia, for his example of faith continues to teach us. Long-dead Abel is one of the ancients who obtained a good testimony through faith, and he speaks to us as one of the "great cloud of witnesses" whose faithful examples cheer us on to "run with endurance the race set out for us."

    Sunday, July 17

    A Good Question

    Kim asks for opinions on this statement: Music is the language of worship.

    Here's how I responded in the comments on her blog:
    Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1 NASB)

    I think Paul is telling us that a worshipful attitude works itself out in service to God, doing all those things listed in the rest of the book of Romans. You know, like renewing our minds, loving the brethren, living peacably, submitting to our governing authorities, etc., etc...

    So I'd say the "language of worship" (whatever that means) is right conduct. We communicate our worshipful attitude by living our lives rightly.

    What say ye? What do you think is "the language of worship"?

    [Update: John at Blogotional continues the conversation with What is Worship? You'll want to read the comments at the link to Kim's blog given above, and the comments here, too.]

    Sunday's Hymn: Reader's Choice

    This week's hymn is chosen for us by Russell Sutherland.
    We sang it at the memorial service for our son Jonathan who died of accidental drowning 7 years ago.
    This one is written by John Nelson Darby, who is probably better known to you as a founder of the Plymouth Brethren and an advocate of dispensationalism than as a writer of hymns. Russell is right when he says that "this poem will strike an affectionate chord in terms of our eternal relationship with Christ."
    And Is It So?

    And is it so--I shall be like Thy Son?
    Is this the grace which He for me has won?
    Father of glory (thought beyond all thought!)--
    In glory, to His own blest likeness brought!

    Oh, Jesus, Lord, who loved me like to Thee?
    Fruit of Thy work, with Thee, too, there to see
    Thy glory, Lord, while endless ages roll,
    Myself the prize and travail of Thy soul.

    Yet it must be: Thy love had not its rest
    Were Thy redeemed not with Thee fully blest.
    That love that gives not as the world, but shares
    All it possesses with its loved co-heirs.

    Nor I alone; Thy loved ones all, complete
    In glory, round Thee there with joy shall meet,
    All like Thee, for Thy glory like Thee, Lord,
    Object supreme of all, by all adored.

    The heart is satisfied; can ask no more
    All thought of self is now forever o'er:
    Christ, its un-mingled Object, fills the heart
    In blest adoring love--the endless part.

    Father of mercies, in Thy presence bright
    All this shall be unfolded in the light;
    Thy children all, with joy Thy counsels know
    Fulfilled; patient in hope, while here below.

    Wonderful words, aren't they? The tune is Eventide--the tune for Abide With Me. Listen.

    Saturday, July 16

    Ye Olde Ball and Chain

    It's another wedding weekend. One of my oldest son's friends is getting married. Sort of. The couple was married in Jamaica last winter, but most of their relatives and friends from the Yukon couldn't be there, so they're having another ceremony here on Sunday afternoon.

    Last night was the bachelor party. Oldest son was given the job of welding the ball to the chain so they could shackle the groom to it. He hurried home right after work to do that because the party started at 7:00 pm. Yep, it started early because the bachelor, being an old married man and all, didn't want to be out late.

    Welding the ball to the chain went well enough. They were going for the medieval look and they succeeded. The real problem came in deciding how to attach the ball and chain to the groom/husband/Marlon's ankle. Someone had bought a shackle, but they thought it looked like it would be a little tight.

    I told them that I'd heard that Martha Stewart finds her ankle bracelet annoying, so a little pain probably just goes with the ball-and-chain territory, but they ignored me.

    Someone suggested just wrapping the chain around the ankle and padlocking it, but that seemed like it might be a bit painful, too. They discussed various ways of padding the chain in order to increase comfort, but those ideas were discarded on stylistic grounds.

    Their final solution? They went for the padlocked chain, with one of them carrying the ball whenever Marlon walked anywhere in order to spare him the discomfort of the weight of the chain pulling against his ankle.

    What's happening to young men nowadays? Even a ball and chain must be stylish and comfortable!

    Something Silly for Saturday

    Tyson the Skateboarding Bulldog. Make sure you watch the videos for the full effect. Thanks to Kim for sending the link.

    Friday, July 15

    Historic Church Documents: The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion

    Wondering why all these historic church documents are posted here this month? That'd be because I've declared July to be Historic Church Document Month.

    Agreed upon by the Archbishops and Bishops of both provinces and the whole clergy, in the Convocation Holden at London in the year 1562, for the avoiding of the diversities of opinions, and for the establishing of consent touching true religion.

    Some excerpts from this historic Anglican document:

  • 1. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.

    There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

  • 2. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man.

    The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.

  • 3. Of the going down of Christ into Hell.

    As Christ died for us, and was buried, so also is it to be believed, that he went down into Hell.

  • 4. Of the Resurrection of Christ.

    Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man's nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.

  • 6. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.

    Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.

  • 8. Of the Creeds.

    The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius' Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.

  • 9. Of Original or Birth-Sin.

    Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk;) but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek, ,(which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh), is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized; yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.

  • 10. Of Free-Will.

    The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith; and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.

  • 11. Of the Justification of Man.

    We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

    Want to read the whole thing?
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    Thursday, July 14

    Round the Sphere Again

  • This week's Christian Carnival is up at a ticking time blog. It's the All-Star Edition. It's been way too long since I've entered something in the carnival. I'm going to have to try to do better on that.

  • Here's an interesting post on hypercalvinism from a blog that's new to me: Radio interview on Hyper-Calvinism from Theological Meditations. Go read it and see what you think. I'm going to have to give Phil the hat tip for this, but I'm carefully restraining myself from saying anything clever about him or his blog.

  • Al Mohler on Theological Triage. This post examines the question of what theological battles are important to fight.

  • Adrian asks "Did Paul meet Jesus when he was on earth?" Catez answers: Paul Met Jesus After the Resurrection & Ascension. John answers the question, too. Sort of.

  • There's a bit of a buzz in my blogroll this week over blog stats and what we should make of them. It started with a post at Evangelical Outpost: Lessons of a Recovering Statistics-Addicted Influence Seeker.

    Here are a few responses on the subject: Further Lessons of Another Recovering Statistics-Addicted Influence Seeker from; Carla tells us why stats stink and why she blogs. Kim says it's not the numbers in the stats that keep her blogging, but the number of words.

    [Update: Warren is buzzing, too.]

    I won't be commenting on the subject of blog stats except to say that I try my best to ignore them, since I've learned that they're a bit like a watched pot.

  • Now it's time for an installment of silly search queries that lead people to this site. This week's top honor goes to: Where can I find poems of how a blood transfusion saved someone's life? It's the word poems that makes this search just a tad weird. Stories, maybe, but poems? When is the last time you read a poem about a blood tranfusion? (But hey! If you're an aspiring poet, take note. The market's already there.) Anyway, contrary to what Google told you, the answer to that question is not here on this blog!

    Runner up in this category is do you remember children's story books like the cat? cat doesn't remember any children's story books. All he's got on his mind right now is escaping into the great outdoors, something we're trying our best to keep him from doing. The neighbor's seen a coyote walking our street a few times lately, so we're being especially vigilant, since this cat thinks it's his duty to chase all big dogs from the yard. He has no idea he's really just coyote bait.

    But the news is not all silly on the search query front. At least one person asked a question for which this blog has the definitive answer.
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    Wednesday, July 13

    By Faith the People of Old

    This is the first post in a series on Hebrews 11. Mostly, these posts are study notes expanded a little.

    The pattern Jesus gives us of faithful endurance in difficult times described in Hebrews 12 is not the only help for making it through tough times that we find in Hebrews. In the previous chapter--chapter 11--we're also given a good description of the kind of faith that will sustain us through trials, and examples of people who've had that kind of faith.

    Verses 1-3 are a sort of introduction to the rest of the chapter.
    Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. For by it the people of old received God’s commendation. By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible. (NET)
    Sometimes you'll hear people quote verse 1 as if it's a complete definition of faith, as if it gives the whole answer to the question, "What is faith?" It does give us some of the answer, of course, but we should probably understand it more as a statement about a particular characteristic (or characteristics) of faith than as a true definition.

  • Faith is being sure of what we hope for. Literally, faith stands under what we hope for. It undergirds our hopes, so that even though the things we hope for are not currently here with us, they are not pie in the sky, either. Rather, we are certain of them, because the things we hope for are undergirded with faith. Faith makes us sure of the rock solidness of what we hope for.

  • Being convinced of what we do not see. This could be taken in either of two ways--that faith is the "proof" of the things that aren't visable to us, or it is the "test" of things that aren't visable to us. Both are legitimate ways to translate the text, and depending on the word meaning choice, the sense of the phrase would be different. If the word means "proof" (as the NET takes it), then this phrase is simply saying the same thing as the first one in a slightly different way: Faith makes us certain of the things we hope for even though they are not yet reality.

    However, if it means "test", then the idea would be that faith tests the things that can't be tested by our five senses. If something can't be sensed by ordinary means, and thus known to be true through our physical senses, we have yet another way to test it--the test of faith. Faith tests to find out what is real in the unseen world in the same way that our senses test what is real in the physical world.

  • For by it the people of old received God’s commendation. These "people of old" are the Old Testament saints, some of whom we find listed in the rest of this chapter. These people received the approval of God by faith. When God revealed things to them, they believed him, and because they believed him, they lived as if what he told them was certain. Because they believed God, they were "not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls (10:39)." God's commendation comes to those who have this sort of faith.

  • By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command. Before moving on the the examples of the expression of faith in the lives of the O.T. saints, the writer of Hebrews gives us an example of the expression of faith within himself--and in us, too. Do you know that God created the world? If you do, then you understand that by faith. You did not reason your way entirely from the physical evidence to that conclusion.* This is not something you came to know through your five senses, but something you became sure of through your "eyes of faith."

  • So that the visible has its origin in the invisible. Knowing that the universe cannot be explained by itself is something we know by faith. What we see came into being ex nihilo by fiat--somethingness from the nothingness simply because God commanded. And if you believe that, you believe it because you have faith.

    *On further reflection, and in response to Catez's comment, which I agree with, I'd like to explain that I think it is possible to reason one's way to the conclusion that all current explanations for the origins of the material world are inadequate. Taking the leap from there to "God created the world out of nothing by command" requires faith.
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