Monday, January 31

Definition of Grace

I've been over defending myself here. Join the conversation, if you're interested.

School Comes...


The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople, Number 3.

If anyone says that God the Word who performed miracles is one and Christ who suffered is another, or says that God the Word was together with Christ who came from woman, or that the Word was in him as one person is in another, but is not one and the same, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, incarnate and become human, and that the wonders and the suffering which he voluntarily endured in flesh were not of the same person, let him be anathema.

We get a clue here to the kind of teaching that the council came together to deal with. Comment? Questions?

Only Begotten

There's been a little discussion of the meaning of the term "only begotten" in the comments to this post, with Jeremy mentioning that Greek scholars no longer think the word translated "only begotten" in the older translations should be translated that way. In case you are curious, here are the NET notes that give a little bit of an explanation for the reasoning behind the change in the way this word (monogenes) is translated.
Although this word is often translated "only begotten," such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant. 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham's only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means "one-of-a-kind" and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God (tevkna qeou', tekna qeou), Jesus is God"s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).
From the NET Bible.

Sunday, January 30

Sunday's Hymn and Sermon: Considering Grace

Grace Greater Than Our Sins

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can we do to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?
---Julia H. Johnston

From Chris Vogel, in Grace and Faith that Works:
"Grace alone" has always been a pivotal issue in the history of the Church. Virtually every error concerning man's salvation is an error that has its departure in the denial of "grace alone." And that denial is often a very subtle denial. No one would ever be so bold to claim that their standing before God was devoid of grace, but due solely to their own merit. Error sneaks in not with the bald faced lie of total personal effort, but whenever one neglects to see that our standing before God is by grace alone and that grace has secured our standing before God. If grace comes only when coupled with our effort, if grace is not the only factor, then we do not understand or believe the Gospel.

It is not uncommon for people to view God’s grace as a cooperative effort, that God will give grace as we do our part. What is the great axiom of American religion? "God helps those who help themselves." Pollster George Barna found that 86% of evangelicals believed that that statement was either a direct quote from the Bible or an excellent summation of what the Bible says. But that view is flatly contradicted by Scripture.

During the height of the Reformation Martin Luther debated the great Erasmus over freedom of the will and the nature of grace. Erasmus described grace with a common analogy of medieval Europe, but what is also generally accepted by people today. Erasmus said God’s grace is like the parent helping the baby to walk. He holds the hands, he steadies the body, he lets the child take a few faltering steps on his own and catches him if he falls. The picture sounds loving, but incorrect. (Footprints poster?) Luther responded that such a view thinks too highly of man and too lowly of God. Rather we are a caterpillar surrounded by a ring of fire. There is no escape. Grace is the hand which reaches down and plucks the helpless creature from a certain holocaust.
Read the rest.

Saturday, January 29

What the Blog World Really Needs

Okay, we've been dancing around the issue, but no one wants to come out and say it. What we really need is a proof reader for the blogosphere. Unfortunately, Laurie seems to be backing away from her original idea so we'll have to look elsewhere, I guess.

The issue came to the forefront today when a few of us ganged up on a certain well-known blogmeister with our corrections. I'm suggesting as a solution that we form an official group of blog correctors. (Goodness knows, the job is too enormous for only one person!) We could call them the Blog Typo Police.

Think what a difference it would make to have someone to call in those typo emergencies. It would mean that my blog would no longer sit for a whole day with a big typo in the middle of a title.

Of course, I can't volunteer to run the group. My past criminal history as a typo queen disqualifies me. Not only was there that nasty incident yesterday, but just last week I accidently published an unedited draft and was forced to let it sit there unedited for several hours when Blogger refused to let me make corrections. You didn't know I had such a dark past, did you? Actually, you probably do, because you saw it all unfold right there before your very eyes.

If you didn't notice, then don't volunteer for the Typo Squad. If you did, you might want to consider the Blog Typo Police to be your calling. And what could be more fun that issuing official typo citations?

Friday, January 28

The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople, Number 2.

II. If anyone does not confess that God the Word was twice begotten, the first before all time from the Father, non- temporal and bodiless, the other in the last days when he came down from the heavens and was incarnate by the holy, glorious, God-bearer, ever-virgin Mary, and born of her, let him be anathema.

Comments? Questions? Three cheers for orthodoxy on this one?

Hoar Frost Forest


Anticipating the Time of My Life

My birthday's coming up in March, and it'll be half a century for me. I've noticed a few white hairs in the cowlick on my forehead. Blonde hair is pretty good at hiding them, but they're there. Of course, I have to put on my reading glasses to see them.

I've always looked forward to being old. Really. A few wrinkles add character, experience brings wisdom, and grownup kids mean more freedom. And with age comes the right to be just a little cranky, or eccentric, or both. Maybe they're the same thing.

Of course, I want to be spry old. Active old. With all my own teeth. What good is the freedom of old age if I can't put it to use? Or eat apples? Or chase errant neighborhood kids with my broom?

What I want, I guess, is the advantages of both youth and experience with none of the disadvantages. Postmenopausal zest. Is that too much to ask?

The Substitutional Atonement Discussion Continues...

The conversation with Wink is ongoing in the comments of this post. If you're interested in the issue of the nature of the atonement (substitutional or not?), you might be interested in the issues raised in the discussion.

Thursday, January 27

The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople, Number 1.

This council took place in 553 AD. The Definition of Chalcedon had perhaps not gone far enough in it's defining of the nature of the union of God and man in Jesus Christ, and some confusion arose. This council confirmed the Definition of Chalcedon, but stressed in particular that Jesus Christ is not just God the Son in a human body, but that Jesus Christ is God the Son. The document produced by this council is a list of 11 anathemas.*

Here's anathema number 1:

I. If anyone does not confess that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one nature or essence, one power or authority, worshipped as a trinity of the same essence, one deity in three hypostases** or persons, let him be anathema. For there is one God and Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit, in whom are all things.

*An anathema is a strong denunciation of someone, or a declaration that they are heretical.

**Hypostases means persons.

Comments? Questions? What think ye?

Round the Sphere Again

  • The Christian Carnival is now up at Digitus, Finger & Co. (I didn't enter this week. I've decided I won't enter every week, mostly because the carnival is getting so large. It looks like others may have decided to do the same things, as the carnival went from 50+ entries last week to 34 this week. Thirty-four, it seems to me, is just about the perfect number of entries. I should be able to read all the ones that interest me before the next one comes out!)

  • If you haven't been reading Mission Safari, you should be. Tim was on a medical relief mission to a tsunami refugee camp, and he's been telling us his stories. He just finished up that series with a post about A Man Named LAL.

    Now Tim is back in Kenya, and he's been visiting the slums in Nairobi. Yesterday he went to an area of the Kiberia slums called Silanga, which is, strangely enough, Swahili slang for Sri Lanka. Tim tells us why, in many ways, things are worse in Silanga than they were in the refugee camp in Sri Lanka:
    To be honest, the sights and smells of Silanga were far worse than what I experienced in Sri Lanka. The open sewage, the poverty, and the ever present faces of AIDS were more overpowering than the refugee camp. As I made my home visits and saw the slowly developing signs of AIDS, I realized that I was in a disaster zone. But this was like a tsunami in slow motion.
    Read all of A Tsunami in Slow Motion.

  • Tim of The Irvins is continuing his series on the names of God with Jehovah-shalom and Jehovah-raah.

  • Jollyblogger is experimenting with his church's website, using a blog format. It looks like it works pretty well to me, and it would certainly make it easy to update things. Check it out and see what you think.

  • And while we're on the subject, did you know that the term "jolly beggars" comes originally from Robert Burns?
  • |

    Wednesday, January 26

    His Father's Son

    My youngest son looks just like his dad. A few days ago I was sorting through some of my husband's things, going through the little chest that holds some of the things he'd saved from his younger days, because someone in the family asked to have copies of a few of the photos he'd stored in there. As I sorted I noticed a couple of old high school wrestling photos. In one, Keith is looking up from the mat and a little toward the camera, and the face in the picture belongs to my youngest son. I knew the youngest one looked like his dad, but I hadn't realized how much. His hair is curlier, but the rest is almost an exact copy.

    My oldest son takes after my side of the family. He's blond like I am, and stockier than his dad, with a rounder face and glasses. Still, he's his father's son.

    When I met Keith, he hadn't been out of the military for long, and his language was a little salty. One day shortly after we met, he decided that he needed to develop a better vocabulary. And so he did. To say the change was overnight wouldn't be much of an exaggeration. He had some slips, but the incidents I can remember could be counted on one hand, and almost all of them involved sudden intense pain.

    The last of those slips happened when my youngest son was a toddler and not yet speaking more than a couple of words. Keith was hanging gyp rock, I think, when he directly and forcefully hammered his thumbnail. Although he kept a certain nasty word mostly under his breath, he did use it three or four times. The littlest son heard it, and for several months after that, whenever he worked with his little Fisher-Price tool set, the hammering and drilling would be accompanied by the repeated use of the same bad word his dad had used, as if uttering that particular expletive was just something that automatically went along with the use of tools. For Keith, seeing his young son mimicking his behaviour was the final cure.

    When he had been teaching for a couple of years at the last school he worked at, one of Keith's colleagues said to him, "You know, I don't think I've ever heard you curse." Keith told this to me after supper that day, while we were drinking coffee together on the back deck. Quietly, and only to me, as if he were afraid to be too proud of it or make too much of it, but I knew it meant a lot to him that someone had noticed.

    In November, my oldest son moved to Vancouver, driving down the highway in his newly restored Landcruiser. He started out in a two vehicle convoy with someone who was the brother of a friend of his, who was also moving south. John was at least ten years older than my son, but he was much less experienced with driving in general, and winter driving in particular, so it seemed that it would be better if he drove with someone else, especially with someone who had a vehicle with 4-wheel drive and a winch and a full tool-box.

    Five hundred miles down the highway, 150 miles from the nearest town, on the evening of the first day of the trip, something went wrong with the newly rebuilt engine in the Landcruiser. My son says that the moment he heard the awful sound, he knew his engine was toast. He was right. He was forced to leave his cruiser parked on the side of the highway, and ride into Fort Nelson with John in his car. In the end, things worked out for the cruiser, but it took a whole lot of work and a whole lot of money to make things right.

    When Andrew was home at Christmas, he told me something--non-chalantly, as if he were afraid to seem too proud of it or make too much of it. On the way to Fort Nelson, he said, as he rode in the car with John after his engine went, John kept looking at him and saying, "I can't believe you only swore once!"

    Yep. He's his father's son.

    Tuesday, January 25

    Women4God Blogs

    From Catez, a new aggregator of Christian blogs by Protestant (Evangelical) women. If you follow the link to the aggregator, you will also find instructions for joining.

    Celebrating Robbie: Address To A Haggis

    Of course, no Burns Supper is complete without the ode to the star attraction, the "great chieftain o' the pudding-race."

    Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
    Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
    Aboon them a' yet tak your place,
    Painch, tripe, or thairm:
    Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
    As lang's my arm.

    The groaning trencher there ye fill,
    Your hurdies like a distant hill,
    Your pin was help to mend a mill
    In time o'need,
    While thro' your pores the dews distil
    Like amber bead.

    His knife see rustic Labour dight,
    An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
    Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
    Like ony ditch;
    And then, O what a glorious sight,
    Warm-reekin', rich!

    Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
    Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
    Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
    Are bent like drums;
    Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
    Bethankit! hums.

    Is there that owre his French ragout
    Or olio that wad staw a sow,
    Or fricassee wad make her spew
    Wi' perfect sconner,
    Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
    On sic a dinner?

    Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
    As feckles as wither'd rash,
    His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
    His nieve a nit;
    Thro' blody flood or field to dash,
    O how unfit!

    But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
    The trembling earth resounds his tread.
    Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
    He'll mak it whissle;
    An' legs an' arms, an' hands will sned,
    Like taps o' trissle.

    Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
    And dish them out their bill o' fare,
    Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
    That jaups in luggies;
    But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer
    Gie her a haggis!

    ---Robert Burns,1786

    Of course, you'll want to read the authentic one at your Burns dinner, but for those not fluent in the language of the bard, here's this version of the address translated into the de'il's tongue (English) by William Curan.

    All hail your honest rounded face,
    Great chieftain of the pudding race;
    Above them all you take your place,
    Beef, tripe, or lamb:
    You're worthy of a grace
    As long as my arm.

    The groaning trencher there you fill,
    Your sides are like a distant hill
    Your pin would help to mend a mill,
    In time of need,
    While through your pores the dews distil,
    Like amber bead.

    His knife the rustic goodman wipes,
    To cut you through with all his might,
    Revealing your gushing entrails bright,
    Like any ditch;
    And then, what a glorious sight,
    Warm, welcome, rich.

    Then plate for plate they stretch and strive,
    Devil take the hindmost, on they drive,
    Till all the bloated stomachs by and by,
    Are tight as drums.
    The rustic goodman with a sigh,
    His thanks he hums.

    Let them that o'er his French ragout,
    Or hotchpotch fit only for a sow,
    Or fricassee that'll make you spew,
    And with no wonder;
    Look down with sneering scornful view,
    On such a dinner.

    Poor devil, see him eat his trash,
    As feckless as a withered rush,
    His spindly legs and good whip-lash,
    His little feet
    Through floods or over fields to dash,
    O how unfit.

    But, mark the rustic, haggis-fed;
    The trembling earth resounds his tread,
    Grasp in his ample hands a flail
    He'll make it whistle,
    Stout legs and arms that never fail,
    Proud as the thistle.

    You powers that make mankind your care,
    And dish them out their bill of fare.
    Old Scotland wants no stinking ware,
    That slops in dishes;
    But if you grant her grateful prayer,
    Give her a haggis.

    ---Robert Burns, 1786.

    Celebrating Robbie: The Selkirk Grace

    The traditional grace for a Burns Supper.

    Some hae meat, and canna eat,
    And some wad eat that want it ;
    But we hae meat and we can eat,
    And sae the Lord be thankit.

    ---Robert Burns

    Celebrating Robbie: Robbie Burns Day

    Today's the big day we've all been waiting for, Robbie Burns Day. I hope you've got the haggis all prepared for your Robbie Burns Supper.

    [Update: Ian's celebratin' too.

    Golden Rule Jones gives us a list of links to statues of Robert Burns round the world, and then discusses whether or not kilts are proper attire for a Burns Supper, since Burns himself never wore a kilt.]

    Submission Info for this Week's Christian Carnival

    This week's Christian Carnival is at Digitus, Finger & Co.

    To enter is simple. First, you post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Secondly please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. Then, do the following:

    email Neil at

    Uchitel (at) slappo (dot) com

    Please put Christian Carnival Entry in the Subject

    Provide the following:

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

    Cutt off date is midnight Tuesday EST


    Monday, January 24

    Only in the Yukon: Walking Bridge over the River Bert Law Park.



    Sunday, January 23

    The 'Jesus the Logician' Project: Luke 6:1-5

    This post is part of The 'Jesus the Logician' Project, which is an effort by Joe Carter of The Evangelical Outpost to compile a "comprehensive database outlining the ways in which Jesus used logic in his discourses." (For more details, follow the link given.)

    In this passage (and in it's parallel found in Matthew 12:1-8), Jesus and his disciples are walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples are hungry, so they pick some of the heads of grain and eat them. A group of Pharisees see this and object to it:
    Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.
    The Talmud considers reaping and grinding grain as small in size as a dried fig to be breaking the Sabbath, so the disciples were clearly going against the regulations found there.

    Jesus responds with another a fortiori argument, like he did in the other Sabbath argument found in Luke 13, but the specifics of this particular argument are different.
    And Jesus answered them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?"
    Jesus calls attention to an action of David that was a technical breach of the law. The bread of the Presence was only to be eaten by the priests (Leviticus 24:5-9), but the need of David's band overrode this rule, and it was accepted that it was permissible for David to have done this. Jesus argues that the same principle that permitted David's breach of the law--that human need is not to be subjugated to legalities--would also permit his disciples' breach of the legalities of the Talmud, since their breach was an obviously lesser sort of breach than David's.

    Then Jesus strengthens his argument with this statement:
    The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.
    The term "Son of Man" is probably a reference to his Messianic role. Following, as it does, his reference to David and what David did, it may be that Jesus is arguing that as the promised Son of David, he carried even more authority than David: the authority of one who is boss of the Sabbath. If David could override the law and not be culpable for it, then the even greater Son of David could certainly do the same.

    [Here is the Main Index to this project, where you will find all the contributions.]

    Blogroll Quiz

    We haven't done one of these in a while. Take the quiz. Clicking on the link to find the answer is not cheating.

    1. Recently, Tim of Mission Safari has been
    • a. climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro
    • b. on a medical mission in Sri Lanka
    • c. catching up on his reading.
    • d. none of the above.

    2. Recently, William Meisheid of Beyond the Rim has not been
    • a. eating.
    • b. showering.
    • c. blogging.
    • d. all of the above.

    3. Marla of Proverbial Wife doesn't understand
    • a. how people can deny our sinful nature.
    • b. how evil came to be in a world created by a good God.
    • c. geometry
    • d. all of the above.

    4. Mr. Standfast is composing poetry about
    • a. books.
    • b. the big storm.
    • c. SpongeBob.
    • d. none of the above.

    5. When Eric Svendsen of Real Clear Theology reads Numbers 12:3, he
    • a. chuckles.
    • b. feels more humble than Moses.
    • c. thinks of SpongeBob.
    • d. none of the above.

    How'd you do?

    A Sunday to Consider Prayer

    The featured hymn is from that most prolific of hymn writers--Fanny Crosby.
    Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace

    Come, ye who from your hearts believe
    That Jesus answers prayer,
    Come boldly to a throne of grace
    And claim His promise there,
    That, if His love in us abide
    And we in Him are one,
    Whatever in His Name we ask
    It surely will be done.


    Come lovingly and trustingly,
    Take Jesus at His Word,
    For He has said, “the prayer of faith
    Was never yet unheard.”

    If in the “fountain filled with blood”
    Our sins are washed away
    Come boldly to a throne of grace,
    Rejoicing that we may
    Come boldly to a throne of grace,
    And bless the Lord our King—
    Who fills our grateful hearts with praise,
    And tunes our tongues to sing.

    From every precious, golden hour
    We spend in fervent prayer,
    We gather strength from day to day
    For each returning care;
    And, while with true, believing hearts
    We bow before His throne,
    There’s not a promise He has made
    But we may call our own.

    The sermon is not really a sermon, but rather a paper on prayer written by J. C. Ryle. He introduces his subject like this:
    Prayer is the most important subject in practical religion. All other subjects are second to it. Reading the Bible, listening to sermons, attending public worship, going to the Lord's Table--all these are very important matters. But none of them are so important as private prayer.

    He gives these reasons for why he can use such strong language about the importance of prayer:
    I. In the first place, "Prayer is absolutely necessary to a man's salvation."

    II. In the second place, "a habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian."

    III. In the third place, "there is no part of religion so neglected as private prayer."

    IV. In the fourth place, "prayer is that act in religion in which there is the greatest encouragement."

    V. In the fifth place, "diligence in prayer is the secret of eminent holiness."

    VI. In the sixth place, "neglect of prayer is one great cause of backsliding."

    VII. In the seventh place, "prayer is one of the best way to acquire happiness and contentment."

    Why don't you read the paper to see on what basis he makes these claims?

    Saturday, January 22

    Celebrating Robbie: On Politics

    In Politics if thou would'st mix,
    And mean thy fortunes be;
    Bear this in mind,-be deaf and blind,
    Let great folk hear and see.

    ---Robert Burns, 1793

    SpongeBob Again: Clarifying the Objection

    Now it's three political post in one week! I tried to just update yesterday's post, but when the update is longer than the original, it needs a place of it's own.

    Here is Focus on the Family's statement explaining their reason for objecting to the distribution of the video that includes a brief appearance by SpongeBob, along with other cartoon characters. First of all, it explains that the objection is not to any specific cartoon character, but to what FOTF fears is their exploitation by a group promoting the acceptance of homosexuality among young people. So I guess Mr. SquarePants himself is in the clear.

    The objection isn't to anything found in the video, but rather to the particular organization that supports the video:
    While some of the goals associated with this organization are noble in nature, their inclusion of the reference to "sexual identity" within their tolerance pledge is not only unnecessary, but it crosses a moral line.
    FOTF believes that by showing the video, schools will be leaving children with the impression that their teachers are giving their support to the agenda of the video's sponsor, a sponsor that has this particular objectionable (as they see it) pledge on it's website (and perhaps in it's literature).

    This whole idea seems pretty far-fetched to me. Children (6 or 7 years old, according to the FOTF statement) just don't think like that. They don't make those connections. They take things at face value, and the notion of agendas--who's supporting them and who's not--just doesn't enter their minds. They'll watch the video, and maybe understand the message of the video itself--remember, FOTF doesn't object to the message of the video--and that's it.

    Now, on to the objectionable pledge, and the statement that lies at the heart of the whole dust-up. Here it is:
    To help keep diversity a wellspring of strength and make America a better place for all, I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own.
    Remember, this is not something that the child is going to be asked to sign or say, it's just something that is found on the webpage of the sponsor of the video. I would have a problem if the child was asked to pledge this, not because I find the pledge itself objectionable, but I don't want schools asking my young children to pledge anything. Pledges are serious things, not to be taken lightly or frivolously, or just because everyone else is. But that's not the issue.

    The issue in the pledge is the phrase sexual identity in the list of characteristics of people one pledges to "have respect for". Why is this objectionable? What's the alternative? Treating them with disrespect?

    Note that there is no particular objection given to including those of different beliefs in the list of persons to have respect for, so even in FOTF's view, considering someone's beliefs wrong doesn't preclude having respect for them. It follows then, doesn't it, that believing someone's actions to be morally wrong doesn't preclude having respect for them either? When did having respect for, or tolerating someone, begin to be seen as approving of everything about them?

    I want my children to respect people of different faiths. Of course, they are going to believe that a lot of what their seikh friends believe is wrong, but I still want them to care about those friends and desire what is best for them. I want them to treat them with kindness and politeness. I certainly don't want them yelling "Paki!" out the car window as they drive by them.

    And it's the same for people of "different sexual identity," as the pledge calls it. I want my children to grow up knowing that homosexual practice is wrong, but I still want them to treat those of different sexual identity with kindness and politeness. I don't want my kids wishing them harm, or yelling "Fag!" out the car window as they drive by them.

    So, in case you couldn't follow all that, I'll sum up what I think about the whole argument FOTF is making: The connection between the video and the pledge are tenuous--so tenuous that it's silly to make the pledge the basis for one's objection to the video. Moreover, I don't have a problem with the wording of the pledge, because I don't see having respect for people as precluding strong disagreement with some of their actions or beliefs.

    Okay, that's it. I pledge not to return to the subject again.

    Friday, January 21

    SpongeBob is Innocent!

    We've got some fans of the square-pantsed-one in this family. I'll admit it: I don't understand the appeal. My opinion of the cartoon is that it's just plain stupid.

    Unfortunately, evangelical spokesman James Dobson is doing a good job outdoing the silliness of the cartoon itself. His SpongeBob foolishness is just so goofy on so many different levels that it makes my head spin. The connections he has to make in order to maintain his argument are so non-existent or tenuous that it reminds me of.....well....a dried-out sponge. And of course, this is the sort of thing reflects badly on all of us who fall under the evangelical label, because there are lots of people out there who only know how to paint us all with the same brush.

    Fortunately, I don't have to analyse the whole kerfluffle for you (and I probably wouldn't anyway), because Parableman's already done it, and I can just point you his way. He tells us why he doesn't think James Dobson is a bigot, as some are suggesting, but why he is showing himself to be Pharisaical.

    I'll just add this bit of my own opinion: It's a good thing to stand firmly for what's right, but when our focus shifts from standing for what's right to sniffing out any bit of evil, we run the risk of falling into the trap Dobson has fallen into.

    This Week's Christian Carnival Is Now Up

    Unforunately, Mark was sidelined with the flu, but he's managed to get everything together and posted despite his illness. He's appropriately titled it Christian Carnival--It's Finally Up-- No Really!.

    It's a huge carnival, so huge that I can guarantee that if I counted the entries so that I could tell you how many, I'd get it wrong. There are a slew of entries having to do with the value of human life (including mine, For In God's Image), so those interested in that issue have tons of reading.

    I am going to try to go through them all and highlight some of them here. I intend to do that every week, but as the carnival grows larger, I find that more difficult to do. But this week, I really mean it!

    Thursday, January 20

    Only in the Yukon: Where Have All the Pigeons Gone?

    The goshawk ate them, every one....
    "The goshawk is really taking each and every last pigeon, and right now in downtown Whitehorse there are five pigeons left," says Cameron Eckert, a bird biologist with the Yukon government.

    "About four have been seen in the past few weeks, there were five about a month ago."



    Celebrating Robbie: Bannocks O' Bear Meal

    Bannocks o' bear meal,
    Bannocks o' barley,
    Here's to the Highlandman's
    Bannocks o' barley!

    Wha, in a brulyie, will
    First cry a parley?
    Never the lads wi' the
    Bannocks o' barley,

    Bannocks o' bear meal,
    Bannocks o' barley,
    Here's to the Highlandman's
    Bannocks o' barley!

    Wha, in his wae days,
    Were loyal to Charlie?
    Wha but the lads wi' the
    Bannocks o' barley!

    Bannocks o' bear meal,
    Bannocks o' barley,
    Here's to the Highlandman's
    Bannocks o' barley!

    ---Robert Burns, 1794

    Celebrating Robbie: Recipes for Haggis

    I know you are all getting ready for your Burns Supper, which is traditionally celebrated on or around January 25th, the birthday of the bard, so why don't I help you out a bit with a recipe for that traditional Robbie Burns Night dish: the ever-mysterious haggis.

    For those of you of an especially sensitive nature, let me warn you that the recipe begins like this:
    Clean a sheep's pluck thoroughly. Make incisions in the heart and liver to allow the blood to flow out, and parboil them, letting the windpipe lie over the side of the pot to permit the phlegm and blood to disgorge from the lungs....
    Now you can pick yourself up off the floor, for the worst is over. Click the link to read the rest.

    For those of you who have no qualms about throwing tradition to the wind, here's a recipe for bagless haggis. And for the anarchists, rabble-rousers, rebels and malcontents among us, how about these instructions for cooking up vegetarian haggis?

    Of course, I am going traditional all the way. Right now I'm off to find a sheep to pluck.

    Wednesday, January 19

    Round the Sphere Again

    For all you poets: There is going to be a Poetry Carnival on January 24th, sponsored by Philosophical Poetry. Why not enter and encourage all your poet chums to enter, too? [Hat tip: Allthings2all]

    Names of God series at The Irvins:
    On Pascal from Allthings2all:
    Emergent Church for Dummies: An Introduction to the "Emerging Church" movement from Eric Svendsen at Real Clear Theology Blog.

    Tuesday, January 18

    For in God's Image

    Whoever sheds human blood,

    by other humans

    must his blood be shed;

    for in God’s image

    God has made mankind.

    (Genesis 9:6 NET)

    If you've read here much, you know I don't get political very often. Actually, I don't know if I've ever done a political post. I just don't feel comfortable dealing with political issues since it's not an area I'm all that interested in or know a whole lot about. So my political neck stays pretty close to my shoulders. Some of you may think this post is political. It might be, but if it's political, then the realm of the political is entered through the door of scripture: the scripture quoted for you above from Genesis 9.

    Here's my rough paraphrase of what that text says: God values human life. He values human life so much that he requires that the life be taken from anyone who kills another human being. The reason human life has this much worth to him is because God has made humans in his own image.

    Our true value, then, lies in the image of God that we bear. It is because of the reflection of himself that God sees in us that our lives have such significance to him. Our significance does not lie in our abilities, or in our complexity; but simply in our humanity, because being human makes us bearers of God's image.

    We aren't told what being made in God's image entails, just that we are made that way, so we need to be careful when we define the image of God. I've seen lists made of what is included in being made in God's image--like being able to make choices, or having dominion over the earth--and it may be that these are part of the picture. It's more likely, I think, that these are not traits that define the image of God, but rather, traits that grow out of being made in the image of God. What we can know for sure from the information we are given is that those listed traits are not the essence of image bearing. The essence of image bearing is just being human.

    The problem with writing lists of what it means to be made in God's image is that there are going to be human beings that are unable to do any of those things, or are less able to do them than my dog is. Yet they have much more value to God than my dog (cute as she may be!), because when he looks at them he sees himself in some way. Certainly, animals are important to God, for they are part of his handiwork; and I have no doubt that he enjoys them and values them, and so should we! Humans are his handiwork too, but that is not the sole source of our importance to him. What makes us more important than the rest of his creatures is that of all the creatures, we are the ones that carry his image. If someone is human--if there is human life--then there is great worth to God, and there should be great worth to us.

    Whether that human life can interact with us, or is even aware that we exist, does not seem to be a factor in the value God places on them, and it should not be a factor in the value we place on them either. If the life is human, then we need to value that person made in God's image enough to do what we can to preserve them, to care for them, and to give them the best existence--the best life--that is possible for them. God, whose image it is that gives them value, is the only one who has the right to take their life from them, or to prescribe the circumstances under which it is permissible and right to take their life.

    What does this mean for me? It means I need to ask myself: What am I doing to show that I value human life the way that God does? How am I working to preserve human life? What am I doing to care for other human beings? How am I working to alleviate human suffering in order to give a better existence to those who are God's image bearers?

    Celebrating Robbie: The First Six Verses Of The Ninetieth Psalm Versified

    O Thou, the first, the greatest friend
    Of all the human race!
    Whose strong right hand has ever been
    Their stay and dwelling place!

    Before the mountains heav'd their heads
    Beneath Thy forming hand,
    Before this ponderous globe itself
    Arose at Thy command;

    That Pow'r which rais'd and still upholds
    This universal frame,
    From countless, unbeginning time
    Was ever still the same.

    Those mighty periods of years
    Which seem to us so vast,
    Appear no more before Thy sight
    Than yesterday that's past.

    Thou giv'st the word: Thy creature, man,
    Is to existence brought;
    Again Thou say'st, "Ye sons of men,
    Return ye into nought!"

    Thou layest them, with all their cares,
    In everlasting sleep;
    As with a flood Thou tak'st them off
    With overwhelming sweep.

    They flourish like the morning flow'r,
    In beauty's pride array'd;
    But long ere night cut down it lies
    All wither'd and decay'd.

    ---Robert Burns, 1781

    Exciting New Draw

    Tim Challies--the master of the giveaway--is at it again. This time the prize is a 2 disc DVD from Monergism Books:

    Amazing Grace

    Click on the link in the banner above to enter. You don't need to be a blogger; you just need to have an email address. If you encourage all your friends to sign up, maybe you can all watch it together if any one of you wins. Don't let this wonderful opportunity pass you by!

    For more info on the DVD's, including a couple of lengthy video clips, go here.

    Any of you locals who win, you will let me borrow it, right?

    In related news, Jollyblogger has designated Monergism Books as the official book supplier of the League of Reformed Bloggers. (I see they have a flat rate shipping fee of $10.00 for global priority mail, which is a pretty good deal.)

    Entry Info for this Week's Christian Carnival

    Here you go:
    The next Christian Carnival will be hosted at Sidesspot, and submissions are now open.

    First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. If you are looking for posting ideas, you might want to consider that the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision is January 22. Another topic might be to consider how Christians of different denominations can put into practice Christ's admonition that we love one another--what does this mean in real life, what impact could it have on nonbelievers if we did this? How Christians can help foster a sense of community in their neighborhoods is another topic.

    Second, please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. Then, email me at the following address (and please put "Christian Carnival Entry" in your subject line):

    sidesspot att comcast dott net

    Provide the following:

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

    Deadline is 10 p.m. Central, Tuesday, January 18

    Don't forget to encourage a friend to contribute, and have them stop by and join the Christian Carnival mailing list here.

    God Bless,

    Monday, January 17

    Okay, So Maybe Minnesotans Aren't Wimps

    The people in Embarrass might be constantly red-faced, but today it's because their skin is cold.

    In my old stomping grounds, the temp dipped to -38C. Now the big question is, did they cancel school or not?

    It's My Blogday!

    Yes, it was exactly one year ago today that this blog began with this post. I think Mr. Standfast was the very first person to leave me a comment. I suspect he found my blog almost by accident.

    So how does one celebrate the first year anniversary of a blog? Is there protocol? Maybe I'll just tell you quickly what some of my favorite post are so we can head right for the cake and ice cream.

    Most of my favorite posts are theological in nature. They are usually the ones I worked the hardest on and stewed the longest over. Here are a few of the theological sort that I like most. (You'll see that I'm partial to the series.)
    I suppose I have to include some personal type posts, too.
    And I like the list type posts.
    • Here's What To Do With A Reluctant Reader, which was a lot of fun to put together.

    • So was this one on potty training. For a long time I was right at the top in most of the search engines for potty training advice as well, and that's probably the single most popular individual entry page at this site. I'm chuckling at that even as I type this. Dishing out potty training tips is not the sort of thing I ever imagined I'd be known for! So far, no one has asked for their money back per the guarantee.

    Okay, enough of my self-indulgent reminiscing. Let's eat!

    Listening to Franck's "Panis angelicus" by Cecilia Bartoli from A Hymn for the World.

    Sunday, January 16

    The 'Jesus the Logician' Project: Luke 13:10-17

    This post is part of The 'Jesus the Logician' Project, which is an effort by Joe Carter of The Evangelical Outpost to compile a "comprehensive database outlining the ways in which Jesus used logic in his discourses." (For more details, follow the link given.)

    Let's look at the form of reasoning Jesus uses in Luke 13:10-17. In this passage, Jesus is teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath and he heals a woman who, according to the text, has "had a disabling spirit for eighteen years." She is hunched over and unable to straighten up. Jesus sees her, calls her to come to where he is, and pronounces her healed from her disability. He lays his hands on her and immediately she is straightened.

    The ruler of the synagogue becomes angry because Jesus has healed on the Sabbath. He directs his comments not so much to Jesus, but rather to all the the people in the synagogue:
    There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.
    Evidently he understands the fourth commandment, which prohibits any work on the Sabbath, as prohibiting healing because healing is "work", and this is the basis upon which his rebuke rests.

    Jesus' response is an a fortiori argument. This means that Jesus establishes that the synagogue leader has already accepted as proper a lesser application of the principle upon which Jesus' action is based, so he ought to accept Jesus' action as proper because it is simply a stronger application of the same principle. Here is what Jesus argues:
    Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?

    Jewish practice allowed for the care of animals on the Sabbath: an animal could be led to water, although nothing could be carried to it; even the trough could be filled, although a bucket could not be held for an animal to drink from. Jesus argues that if the Jews accepted that it was right to care for animals in this way on the Sabbath, then surely it is right that a woman--and even more, a woman who was a daughter of Abraham--be cared for on the Sabbath. If an animal could be loosed to drink, then this woman ought to be loosed (Jesus uses stronger language than simply "could be loosed".) from her bondage to this "disabling spirit".

    It is because the rulers, by allowing for the watering of animals, allowed for the weaker application of the principle that needy beings could be cared for on the Sabbath, but then disallowed the stronger application of the same principle--the healing of needy people--that Jesus called them hypocrites. His audience understood the argument perfectly:
    As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

    [Here is the Main Index to this project, where you will find all the contributions.]

    A Square Peg... a round decade.

    I looked exactly like this picture for much of the sixties, too.

    You are a Square. What a weirdo.

    What kind of Sixties Person are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    [Seen at Tulipgirl.]

    Sunday's Hymn and Sermon: God's Faithfulness

    I wanted to post the words to "Great is Thy Faithfulness", a hymn written by Thomas Chisholm, but it's still under copyright protection, and can only be posted with permission from the publisher, so all I can do is give you the link to read the words for yourself. I can also give you a link to listen to the music by William Runyan.

    The sermon is one from Jonathan Edwards on the unchangeableness of Christ, Jesus Christ, The Same Yesterday, Today, And Forever. Jonathan Edwards first tells us what it means that Christ is the same now that he has ever been and ever will be, and then explains what that means to us:
    The truth taught in the text may be applied by way of consolation to the godly. You may consider that you have in him an unchangeable Savior, who, as he has loved you and undertaken for you from eternity, and in time has died for you before you were born, and has since converted you by his grace, and brought you out of a blind, guilty, and undone condition, savingly home to himself; so he will carry on his work in your heart; he will perfect what is yet lacking in you, in order to your complete deliverance from sin, and death, and all evil, and to your establishment in complete and unalterable blessedness. From the unchangeableness of your Savior, you may see how he thinks of that chain in Rom. 8:29, 30, "For whom he did foreknow them he also did predestinate, and whom he did predestinate them he also called, and whom he called them he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified." The Savior has promised you very great and precious blessings in this world. And things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, in the world to come. And from his unchangeableness you may be assured that the things which he has promised he will also perform.

    You may from this doctrine see the unchangeableness of his love. And therefore, when you consider how great love he seemed to manifest, when he yielded himself up to God a sacrifice for you, in his agony and bloody sweat in the garden, and when he went out to the place of his crucifixion bearing his own cross, you may rejoice that his love now is the same that it was then.

    And so when you think of past discoveries which Christ has made of himself in his glory, and in his love to your soul, you may comfort yourself that he is as glorious, and his love to you is as great, as it was in the time of these discoveries.

    You may greatly comfort yourself that you have an unchangeable friend in Christ Jesus. Constancy is justly looked upon as a most necessary and most desirable qualification in a friend. That he be not fickle, and so that his friendship cannot be depended on as that of a steady sure friend. How excellent his friendship is, you may learn from his manner of treating his disciples on earth, whom he graciously treated as a tender father his children, meekly instructing them, most friendly conversing with them, and being ready to pity them, and help them, and forgive their infirmities. And then you may consider this doctrine, and how it thence appears that he is the same still that he was then, and ever will be the same.

    From the unchangeableness of your Savior, you may be assured of your continuance in a state of grace. As to yourself, you are so changeable, that, if left to yourself, you would soon fall utterly away. There is no dependence on your unchangeableness. But Christ is the same, and therefore, when he has begun a good work in you he will finish it. As he has been the author, he will be the finisher of your faith. Your love to Christ is in itself changeable. But his to you is unchangeable, and therefore he will never suffer your love to him utterly to fail. The apostle gives this reason why the saints' love to Christ cannot fail, viz. that his love to them never can fail.

    From the unchangeableness of Christ you may learn the unchangeableness of his intercession, how he will never cease to intercede for you. And from this you may learn the unalterableness of your heavenly happiness. When once you have entered on the happiness of heaven, it never shall be taken from you, because Christ, your Savior and friend, who bestows it on you, and in whom you have it, is unchangeable. He will be the same forever and ever, and therefore so will be your happiness in heaven. As Christ is an unchangeable Savior, so he is your unchangeable portion. That may be your rejoicing, that however your earthly enjoyments may be removed, Christ can never fail. Your dear friends may be taken away and you suffer many losses. And at last you must part with all those things. Yet you have a portion, a precious treasure, more worth, ten thousand times, than all these things. That portion cannot fail you, for you have it in him, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

    Saturday, January 15

    Celebrating Robbie: The Book-Worms

    Through and through th' inspir'd leaves,
    Ye maggots, make your windings;
    But O respect his lordship's taste,
    And spare his golden bindings

    ---Robert Burns, 1787

    Friday, January 14

    Per Request

    ....from Quiet Life, I show you my desk.

    Well, it's not really my desk, but it is where my computer sits right now. If you look really close, you can see that it's Quiet Life on the desk top. Also note the coat, mitts, and socks warming in front of the fire. And the lovely mass of cords.

    Show us your desk.

    Listening to "Why Aye Man" from Ragpicker's Dream by Mark Knopfler.

    Okay, I Admit It!

    I'm not much for women's groups.

    However, here's one I'd join in a second.

    [From The Sacred Sandwich via Pros Apologian.]

    I'm Not Complaining

    I've been wanting to write a post complaining about the weather, but that seemed a little petty given the disastrous results of bad weather that people have been enduring elsewhere. Extreme cold, at least for people who live in warm houses in town, is really just a big headache.

    No homes are lost; usually no people die. For those of us heating with wood, keeping the house warm can be a never-ending job, but the house is standing and we are warm. If the cold spell goes on too long, we may begin to wish ill upon our family members--it seems there is nothing like too much forced togetherness to accentuate someone's annoying traits--but at least they're here with us to annoy us. Even school busses continue to do their rounds and school stays open.

    So I'm not going to complain. I am going to tell you that I was elated this morning when I woke up and it was only -41C. Does that make any practical difference when compared to the -46C it was yesterday morning? Not really. There's still ice fog, the cars still need to be plugged in and used as little as possible. The wood fire still needs to be stoked every couple of hours. We're still stuck spending lots of time together indoors. But the trend is upwards, and that counts for something!

    Yesterday, I moved the computer from the desk in computer corner--we were finding it just a bit drafty over there--and put it on the dining room table which sits right in front of the fire. I'm sure the Designer Guys would not approve, since there is a mass of jumbled multicolored cords on the table top, and they run off in every direction, but at least I'm warm as I type this.

    I got an email this morning from a relative who lives in Minnesota. It's -21 there, so school is closed. I don't remember school closing for cold when I was young. For blizzards, yes--and they get some very nasty ones there--but never for cold. So when did Minnesotans get to be such wimps?

    Here's a little known fact for you: Propane starts gelling at -40ish*. I tried to google the exact temperature, but apparently that's such an obscure fact that absolutely no one on the net even mentions it. Every time the temperature goes below -40, however, someone discovers it when their furnace doesn't kick in.

    Yep, life is good. The thermometer's gone up to -41, the car still starts, there's wood in the woodpile, the computer's in a warm spot, I don't live in Minnesota where schools are closed, and I don't heat with propane.

    There is, however, the possibility that cabin fever is setting in.

    [*Update: Thanks to Chris, I now know that propane begins to freeze at -38C.]

    Thursday, January 13

    Okay, All You Whippersnappers, Beat This!

    Still competitive after all these years.

    Can you beat my score of 18 on this test at Barking Moonbat Early Warning System?

    Link found at The Crusty Curmudgeon, who keeps close track of all things moonbat.

    And did any of the rest of actually you do the Duck-and-Cover drill?

    Celebrating Robbie: O Thou Dread Power

    Lying at a reverend friend's house one night, the author left the following verses in the room where he slept.

    O Thou dread Power, who reign'st above,
    I know thou wilt me hear,
    When for this scene of peace and love,
    I make this prayer sincere.

    The hoary Sire-the mortal stroke,
    Long, long be pleas'd to spare;
    To bless this little filial flock,
    And show what good men are.

    She, who her lovely offspring eyes
    With tender hopes and fears,
    O bless her with a mother's joys,
    But spare a mother's tears!

    Their hope, their stay, their darling youth.
    In manhood's dawning blush,
    Bless him, Thou God of love and truth,
    Up to a parent's wish.

    The beauteous, seraph sister-band-
    With earnest tears I pray-
    Thou know'st the snares on ev'ry hand,
    Guide Thou their steps alway.

    When, soon or late, they reach that coast,
    O'er Life's rough ocean driven,
    May they rejoice, no wand'rer lost,
    A family in Heaven!

    ---Robert Burns, 1786

    Wouldn't you love to have someone asking this for your family?

    Wednesday, January 12

    Winter Narnia?

    When I imagine what it was like, this is it. Beautiful, but wicked.

    This Week's Christian Carnival


    Tuesday, January 11

    Heading Toward The Point of No Conversion

    We're going down, down, down to the place where Celsius and Farenheit converge--that beautiful land where Americans and the rest of the world speak a common thermometer language.


    Plug in the car, stoke up the fire, put your flannels over your long johns, and here we go.

    Celebrating Robbie: A Grace Before Dinner, Extempore

    O thou who kindly dost provide
    For every creature's want!
    We bless Thee, God of Nature wide,
    For all Thy goodness lent:
    And if it please Thee, Heavenly Guide,
    May never worse be sent;
    But, whether granted, or denied,
    Lord, bless us with content. Amen!

    ---Robert Burns, 1791

    Round the Sphere Again

    Items of interest from the blogs on the roll:
    • If you've raised children to adulthood, you'll understand this all too well. [From promptings.]

    • He Lives gives us an overview of Early Christian Heresies. This would've been nice to have when we were discussing the Apostles Creed, since it explains some of the specific heresies that the creed was developed against.

    • Doug of CoffeeSwirls takes a look at the question floating around in the aftermath of the tsunami: Where Was God? Doug examines some of the assumptions that are commonly found underneath that question:
      Everything that was less deadly than it could have been is always a twist of fate, yet everything that was more deadly than we would have liked must have been an act of God. Why is this? Are we so prone to think of God as a large bully who is ready to hurl catastrophe upon us for our sins rather than a benevolent God who would save some from the destruction that must come to the heavens and earth one day, lest His justice be infringed upon?
      Doug is onto something, I think. Why is it that God is blamed when things go wrong, but not given the credit for those who are saved?

    Monday, January 10

    Celebrating Robbie: A Red, Red Rose

    We can't have Burns without this one, can we?

    O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
    That's newly sprung in June:
    O my Luve's like the melodie,
    That's sweetly play'd in tune.

    As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
    So deep in luve am I;
    And I will luve thee still, my dear,
    Till a' the seas gang dry.

    Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
    And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
    And I will luve thee still, my dear,
    While the sands o' life shall run.

    And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
    And fare-thee-weel, a while!
    And I will come again, my Luve,
    Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!

    ---Robert Burns, 1794

    Here's the Scoop on This Week's Christian Carnival

    It's going to be at
    To enter is simple. First, your post should be of a Christian nature, but this does not exclude posts that are political (or otherwise) in nature from a Christian point of view. Secondly please send only one post dated since the last Christian Carnival. Then, do the following:

    Email me at elle [at] intolerantelle dot com.....

    Please put "Christian Carnival Entry" in the subject line.

    Provide the following:

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

    Deadline is 9pm Tuesday EST

    There you go. It's your invitation to contribute this week.

    Sunday, January 9

    List It!

    This is the time of the year for lists. Lists of movies or books or most important events or people. Lists of favorite blog posts. Lists of resolutions, which are really just glorified "to-do" lists.

    Lists put things in order. You can take a group of things that seem chaotic, and if you start to put them in a list you will probably see patterns of things--a bit of organization begins to emerge out of the confusion. Or maybe not. Maybe the list really has no rhyme or reason, but just by being a list, it will look as if it does.

    I'll admit that I like making lists, and that I'm known in the family as "The Mad List Maker." I have several post-it note lists in the kitchen by the phone: a list of things to do tomorrow (check the oil in the oldest car, take a trip to the dump and a trip to the recycling center, buy Drano); a list of things to do over the next month (That one starts with deep-cleaning my bedroom.); and the beginning of a list of groceries to buy (soy milk, molasses, caraway seeds). There are lists I've compiled here on the blog: some lists of suggestions on child-rearing subjects (potty training tips, and tips for getting reluctant readers to read); a list of some purposes of Christ's death; and a list of God's attributes, for starters.

    I like seeing things in lists; I like their tidiness. I like the sense of satisfaction that comes from making a good list. Half of getting anything done is putting it on a list, or at least I tell myself that.

    On the way home from church today I started thinking about biblical lists. I thought of several. My favorite one is this:
    • the satraps
    • the prefects
    • the governors
    • the counselors
    • the treasurers
    • the justices
    • the magistrates
    • the officials of the provinces.
    This list is a big part of what makes the third chapter of Daniel so fun to read. Of course, it doesn't hurt that this list of dignitaries occurs twice, or that it is given to us right alongside this list of musical instruments, which occurs three times:
    • horn
    • pipe
    • lyre
    • trigon
    • harp
    • bagpipe
    • every kind of music;
    and this list (twice):
    • peoples
    • nations
    • languages.
    And we can't forget the three friends with the interesting names:
    • Shadrach
    • Meshach
    • Abednego,
    who are listed for us a whopping 11 times in that chapter.

    All those lists, recorded for us together and repeated again and again in the same chapter makes the story quite entertaining. There is an important point to it all, of course--a serious point; but you can't read this chapter out loud without at least a little chuckle, can you?

    Then there's this biblical list, which is not funny, but reassuring. The ultimate hope sustaining list:

    • tribulation
    • distress
    • persecution
    • famine
    • nakedness
    • danger
    • sword
    • death
    • life
    • angels
    • rulers
    • things present
    • things to come
    • powers
    • height
    • depth
    • anything else in all creation
    will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Is there anything at all that's not included on that list? What possible reason could we have to doubt that we are secure in his love?

    Add to my list of biblical lists. What lists can you think of? What lists do you like?

    [Update: Check out the lists added in the comments!]

    [Update 2: The Crusty Curmudgeon gives us a couple of lists: things Paul endured, and things the Old Testament faithful endured, all because they focused on the eternal rather than the temporal. Good stuff.]

    Psalm 23 Sunday

    The Lord's My Shepherd

    The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want.
    He makes me down to lie
    In pastures green; He leadeth me
    The quiet waters by.

    My soul He doth restore again;
    And me to walk doth make
    Within the paths of righteousness,
    Even for His own Name's sake.

    Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale,
    Yet will I fear no ill;
    For Thou art with me; and Thy rod
    And staff my comfort still.

    My table Thou hast furnish'd
    In presence of my foes;
    My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
    And my cup overflows.

    Goodness and mercy all my life
    Shall surely follow me;
    And in God's house forevermore
    My dwelling place shall be.

    ---Scottish Psalter, 1650 [Listen]

    Today's sermon is a contemplation on Psalm 23 by Henry Law. On verse 4:
    Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

    Our sorest trial is when, with feeble step, we traverse the cheerless valley of death. The climate is chilly. Nature fails. We shrink from the icy hand; but still there is no fear. The tender Shepherd is by our side; His gentle guidance removes apprehension. The waters fail to overwhelm. Sweet texts bring light, and the Spirit applies comfort. Your rod, Your staff, the emblems of the Shepherd's care, drive back the threatening foes, and give sustaining strength. To lean on Jesus in the darkest hour is light and joy and peace. The Good Shepherd knows the chilly hand of death. He has passed this dark valley; but His God was with Him. Ministering angels brought support. He found no evil, and no evil shall destroy His sheep.

    Saturday, January 8

    Celebrating Robbie: To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet, at Church

    I suppose we can't have To A Mouse without posting this as well. You can educate yourself to the meaning of words like crowlin and blastit here.

    Ha! whare ye gaun' ye crowlin ferlie?
    Your impudence protects you sairly;
    I canna say but ye strunt rarely
    Owre gauze and lace,
    Tho faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
    On sic a place.

    Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
    Detested, shunn'd by saunt an sinner,
    How daur ye set your fit upon her---
    Sae fine a lady!
    Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
    On some poor body.

    Swith! in some beggar's hauffet squattle;
    There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle;
    Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle;
    In shoals and nations;
    Whare horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
    Your thick plantations.

    Now haud you there! ye're out o' sight,
    Below the fatt'rils, snug an tight,
    Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right,
    Till ye've got on it---
    The vera tapmost, tow'rin height
    O' Miss's bonnet.

    My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
    As plump an grey as onie grozet:
    O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
    Or fell, red smeddum,
    I'd gie you sic a hearty dose o't,
    Wad dress your droddum!

    I wad na been surpris'd to spy
    You on an auld wife's flainen toy
    Or aiblins some bit duddie boy,
    On's wyliecoat;
    But Miss's fine Lunardi! fye!
    How daur ye do't?

    O Jeany, dinna toss your head,
    An set your beauties a' abread!
    Ye little ken what cursed speed
    The blastie's makin!
    Thae winks an finger-ends, I dread,
    Are notice takin!

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us
    An foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an gait wad lea'es us,
    An ev'n devotion!

    ---Robert Burns

    Friday, January 7

    Substitutional Atonement: Romans 3:22b-26

    I wrote yesterday that the next post in this series would be on Isaiah 53, but I've changed my mind. Wink has flung down the gauntlet with a specific challenge to those who believe that the penal aspect (the punishment or the carrying out of justice part) of the atonement is substitutionary, and so I'm heading straight for a passage of scripture that I believe answers this particular challenge more clearly than Isaiah 53 does.

    Here is what Wink is asking from us:
    ....I feel that it is biblical to say that we are indeed punished in Christ. Prove me wrong. Either show where my reasoning is wrong by proving a) that we did not really die in Christ, or b) that such death is is not punishment, or else show that Penal Substitution is right by showing that the Bible says that we escape punishment.
    In case you haven't been reading Wink's posts, I'll give you a short explanation of what I think he means. He believes that the punishment aspect of the atonement is worked out with us being in some way actually punished in Christ. We are not spared punishment because Christ was punished in our place, but we are in some real way (and by this I assume he means experientially) punished by being joined with Christ on the cross. In other words, our union with Christ on the cross includes experiencing the punishment that he endured, and that is the way that the atonement works for us.

    I'm going straight for that last part of the challenge. I'm going to show that the Bible says that those of faith escape punishment. I've chosen to bypass points a and b for these reasons:
    • I agree that we really do die in Christ (point a), although I'm pretty sure that Wink wouldn't describe what I believe happened on the cross as our really dying. I believe that the nature of our real death is through our identification with the One who died in our stead. God counts Christ's death as our death, and that makes his death really our death. This isn't simply legal fiction. What God--who is truth himself--says, is really so. What God counts or reckons to be is real because he counts or reckons it.

    • I do agree that Christ's death is punishment (point b). It is the carrying out of God's judgment on sin--the expression of his righteous wrath.

    Moving on, then, to doing what Wink asks of me in the last clause of his challenge: showing that the scripture teaches that those of faith (or those identified with Christ) escape punishment. The text I'm going to use is from Romans 3, starting at the end of verse 22 and going on through verse 26:
    For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (ESV)
    This is one of my favorite passages of scripture--in the top 5, I think--so I've already used it several times in things I've written here. It is probably one of the most important passages on the atonement, and I've used it in a few cases in regards to that, and also in regards to the nature of God, especially with respect to God's righteousness or justice. This just shows us, I guess, what a rich mine it is.

    The passage starts out with a statement that there is no distinction because all have sinned. This is a summary statement, of sorts, of what Paul has proven in the section of Romans prior to this, starting in chapter 1 and moving through chapter 2, to the first half of chapter 3: All of us--Jews and gentiles alike--have sinned and stand together under the judgment (or wrath) of God.

    Chapter 1 proves that the gentiles rightly stand under the sentence of death that is the revelation of God's wrath. Starting in verse 18, Paul begins this passage by telling us that "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men," and he ends the chapter by saying that "those who practice such things deserve to die." Yep, the gentiles as a whole are in deep doo-doo.

    And just in case the Jews were breathing a sigh of relief that Chapter 1 didn't include them, Paul moves on in Chapter 2 to say that the same thing that goes for those heathen Gentiles goes for the Jews as well, because God is not discriminatory in regards to people groups:
    all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. (verse 12)
    The whole world is rightly held accountable to God (3:19).

    Since we are all sinners, being held accountable to God is not a pretty thing. However, if we move on in the passage from Romans 3 in the quote above, we see that the news is not all bad. The good news is that God has justified some by his grace as a gift, received by faith.

    In fact, God had already, at the time of Paul, "passed over former sins" (v 25). The NIV translates this phrase like this: God "left the sins committed beforehand unpunished." Sins that God could rightly punish, or rather that he must rightly punish, he had overlooked. He had let them remain without punishment. He could do this justly (or rightly) because there was a means of propitiation in the blood of Christ Jesus. Christ's death gave God a righteous way to let sins remain unpunished.

    What does it mean when it says that Christ was a propitiation? Leon Morris says that this should be translated as "means of propitiation," and that the idea conveyed in the word is that Christ is a way for God's wrath to be turned away. He spends several pages of The Atonement giving contextual and historical evidence that the word ought to be taken like this, but I'll just quote a bit in summary.
    The plain fact is that hilasterion signifies 'the means of averting wrath' and the new translations miss this. And in missing it they pass over a very important biblical concept. The other words do not bring out the truth that in one aspect Christ's atoning work dealt with the wrath of God against sinners.*
    In other words, to address Wink's challenge in particular, this passage says that Christ's death--his blood--was a way for us to escape the punishment of God. God left sins unpunished, and he could do this grounded upon Christ's propitiatory death, which was a way for this punishment--the expression of God's wrath--to be rightly turned away from us.

    This is the way in which our justification was rightfully and truthfully accomplished. The whole deal--God's wrath being turned away based upon Christ's death as the proper means by which to do this--makes God's justifying forgiveness not "legal fiction." Instead, this particular way of justifying allows him to remain just and still be "the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Christ's death is the right way for God's wrath to be turned away from us--the right way for us to escape punishment.

    *Leon Morris, The Atonement, pages 169-170.

    Thursday, January 6

    What I've Been Doing

    I've been busy commenting again on the substitutional atonement issue here and here. This is part of what I wrote (This is in response to Wink's comment that if we didn't really die with Christ--and I understand this to mean that if we didn't really experience death with Christ--then that "gives the lie" to the statements of scripture that say that we died in Christ):
    We are comprehended by God in Christ's death. He sees us (and our sins) there with Christ. In that sense, we died in Christ. At the same time, we do not experience the death that is the punishment for our sins. We are spared it.

    This is not giving a lie, but making it true. This is the way in which it is made true. What God reckons is reality, even if it is not our actual experience. And this is what is meant (I think) by substitution: What we don't experience is counted as ours.

    Like the proxy vote example, if you will. My proxy voter votes instead of me. Their vote is reckoned to be my vote, and really IS my vote, even though I didn't experience marking my own ballot in any way, even though I never left my own home. The proxy voter substitutes (or stands in) for me, and casts a vote in my place. Yet there is a true sense in which I am included in that vote, and the vote is mine: it's the substitutionary nature of the vote that makes that particular act of voting inclusive of me. And what is accomplished substitutionally in that vote--apart from my actual experience--reaps real (or experiencial [sic]*) benefits for me.

    That I voted by proxy and not in actual experience is not giving the lie to the statement that I voted. That I voted by proxy (or substitutionally) is the way in which the statement that I voted is true. Similarly with my death in Christ. That Christ died in my place is the way in which I died. It's the way the statement that "I died" is made true.
    I encourage you to go over to Parableman and read the whole conversation.

    The next passage I plan to look at in regards to the substitutional nature of the atonement is from Isaiah 53.

    *Yes, sadly, I have to sic my own comments. There is probably more siccing that needs be done, but I've moving on for now.

    Celebrating Robbie: A Grace After Dinner

    O thou, in whom we live and move-
    Who made the sea and shore;
    Thy goodness constantly we prove,
    And grateful would adore;
    And, if it please Thee, Power above!
    Still grant us, with such store,
    The friend we trust, the fair we love-
    And we desire no more. Amen!

    ---Robert Burns

    Wednesday, January 5

    The First Christian Carnival of 2005

    After a little bit of a snag, it has been posted at Weapon of Mass Distraction. Go read.

    I Want the Book!

    This is so exciting! is having a draw for a signed copy of Nancy Pearcey's Book Total Truth. Go over and sign up for the draw.

    My referral number is 20096. (Hint! Hint!)

    Tuesday, January 4

    Nailing Jello to the Wall

    The emergent church is one of the things I don't discuss here, but Tim Challies does, so let me point you his way:

    Celebrating Robbie: To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough

    Wee sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
    O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
    Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
    Wi bickering brattle!
    I wad be laith to rin an chase thee,
    Wi murdering pattle!

    I'm truly sorry man's dominion
    Has broken Nature's social union,
    An justifies that ill opinion,
    Which makes thee startle
    At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
    An fellow mortal!

    I doubt na whyles, but thou may thieve;
    What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
    A daimen icker in a thrave
    'S a sma request;
    I'll get a blessin wi the lave,
    An never miss't!

    Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
    Its silly wa's the win's are strewin!
    An naething, now, to big a new ane,
    O foggage green!
    An bleak December's win's ensuin,
    Baith snell an keen!

    Thou saw the fields laid bare an waste,
    An weary winter comin fast,
    An cozie here, beneath the blast,
    Thou thought to dwell,
    Till crash! the cruel coulter past
    Out thro thy cell.

    That wee bit heap o leaves and stibble,
    Has cost thee monie a wearie nibble!
    Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble
    But house or hald,
    To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
    An cranreuch cauld!

    But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
    In proving foresight may be vain:
    The best-laid schemes o mice and men
    Gang aft agley,
    An lea'e us nought but grief an pain,
    For promis'd joy!

    Still thou art blest, compar'd wi me!
    The present only toucheth thee:
    But och! I backward cast my e'e,
    On prospects drear!
    An forward, tho I canna see,
    I guess an fear!

    --Robert Burns, November 1785

    You can listen to it (brogue included!) here, courtesy of The Gaelic Home Page. You'll find translations of all the difficult words here.

    How to Enter this Week's Christian Carnival

    I'm late, I'm late....

    In the rush of the holiday season I neglected to post this when it first came in, and then I forgot about it completely. So here I am posting it with the deadline already looming.
    The first Christian Carnival of 2005 will be hosted at Weapon of Mass Distraction, and submissions are now open. What will the new year bring?

    A resurgence of Christian values in Western culture?
    A continuing slide into humanism and the occult?
    More battles over the separation of church and state?
    A continuing exodus of men from the Christian church?

    Please send your post, on these topics or whatever you're led to write about, in the following format:

    Title of your Blog
    URL of your Blog
    Title of your post
    URL linking to that post
    Description of the post
    The address for submissions is derek att gilberthouse dott org. The deadline is today, Tuesday, at 6pm CST.

    Monday, January 3

    Substitutionary Atonement: 1 Timothy 2:5,6

    I wrote here that I thought I might post a detailed response to these posts of Wink's at Parableman, but I've changed my mind. These are well thought out posts arguing that the atonement is not substitutionary, and I've realized that I don't have the time nor inclination, nevermind the skill and knowledge, to do any sort of complete response. Yep, I've got a house to run, kids (and pets) to mind, and meals to make, so it works better if I keep things pretty short and simple.

    (I did make a few comments on some of the posts at Parableman, so if you read Wink's articles--and you should--you might see them. There is also a response by Jeremy Pierce, the Parableman himself, posted here.)

    I have a bit of an obsession with the atonement, though, and as a result I suppose I know more than many about the various atonement theories and the arguments behind them, so it's impossible for me to just let things pass me by completely. Also, in preparation for my planned response to Wink, I did drag out a few books to review some things, and I'd hate to just let that work go to waste, without blogging something on it, so I'm going to examine a few of the texts that I think point to the atonement being substitionary. These will be a little like the Purposes of Christ's Death posts--one text per post, since that's about what I can handle.

    The first text is 2 Timothy 2:5,6:
    For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God's purpose at his appointed time. (NET)

    In these verses we see Christ the man serving as an intermediary--a go-between--for both God and men. He represents God with men, and men with God. The way that Christ represents men with God is here described as offering a ransom payment for them. Herman Ridderbos says that
    the root of this idea is the old Jewish legal custom set out in the law, according to which a ransom could be given for the forfeited life.*
    You can find reference to this in Exodus 21:30, where it tells us that a man sentenced to death could pay a ransom price agreed to by the family of the victim in order to redeem his life from under the death sentence. In the case of this particular text, it is mankind that lies under the death sentence, but we don't pay our own ransom price--we couldn't! Instead, Christ pays the ransom on our behalf by giving himself. He pays for us instead of us paying for ourselves.

    The idea is that the transaction takes place both on our behalf and in our stead. He pays what has been required from us, and we receive the benefit of his payment. Donald Guthrie points out that
    the addition of the preposition anti, 'instead of', [to the root word lutron (ransom)] is significant in view of the preposition huper, 'on behalf of', used after it. Christ is conceived of as an 'exchange price' on behalf of and in the place of all....**
    In other words, Paul intentionally adds the preposition anti to emphasize that this ransom is not only "on behalf of", which is what huper would normally mean to us; but also "in place of", which is the common meaning of anti.

    We have been ransomed from our death penalty, and this was accomplished by Christ giving himself as our representative, but also as our substitute. He was our representative substitute.

    *Paul: An Outline of His Theology, page 194.

    **The Pastoral Epistles, page 72.