Archive for August, 2008

Check out what everyone else was checking out!

“What does it mean to preach Christ crucified?” (I’m very pleased to see this get so much attention!)

Islam and the Gospel Material! Why do Muslims not believe that Jesus was Crucified?

“The Dark Knight”: Grim, Disturbing, Dark…Awesome!

McCain recovering in a hospital bed

McCain recovering in a hospital bed


When John McCain was chosen as one of three chaplains during his Vietnam captivity, it seemed slightly ridiculous, especially to him. He had been a wild child at the Naval Academy and was prone to defying his captors by “uplifting his center finger” and uttering “the oath that is commonly associated with that gesture,” as one observer has delicately related.

“I would like to tell you that I was selected to be room chaplain because I had an abundance of religiosity,” McCain explained in an interview last year with Beliefnet. He was chosen instead because he had attended an Episcopal high school and knew the Christian liturgy by heart. “So I had an ability to lead a church service.”

But it turned out to be a formative experience for McCain: “I’ll never forget that first Christmas when I … read from the Nativity story … And I looked in that room around and there were guys who had already been there for seven years and tears were streaming down their face, not out of sorrow, but out of joy that for the first time in all that captivity, we could celebrate the birth of Christ together.”

read it all here

The question arises, however, “if we died to sin’s dominion, why do we still struggle with sin in our daily lives?”  When Paul wrote, “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” he was referring, not to the activity of committing sins, but to continuing to live under the dominion of sin.  The word live means to continue or abide in.  It connotes a settled course of life.  To use Paul’s words from Romans 8.7, “The sinful mind [one under sin’s dominion] is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”  But the believer who has died to sin’s reign and dominion delights in God’s law.  the believer approves of it as holy, righteous, and good (Romans 7.12), even though he or she may struggle to obey it.

We must distinguish between the activity of sin, which is true in all believers, and the dominion of sin, which is true of all unbelievers.  Sinclair Ferguson has written, “Sin is not primarily an activity of man’s will so much as a captivity which man suffers, as an alien power grips his soul.  It is an axiom [John] Owen [whose teaching Ferguson is summarizing] that while the presence of sin can never be abolished in this life, nor the influence of sin altered (its tendency is always the same), its dominion can, indeed, must be destroyed if a man is to be a Christian. (more…)

But, though it is a costly grave, it is a borrowed one. I see over the top of it, “Sacred to the memory of the family of Joseph of Arimathea;” yet Jesus slept there. Yes, he was buried in another’s sepulchre. He who had no house of his own, and rested in the habitation of other men; who had no table, but lived upon the hospitality of his disciples; who borrowed boats in which to preach, and had not anything in the wide world, was obliged to have a tomb from charity. Oh! should not the poor take courage? They dread to be buried at the expense of their neighbors, but if their poverty be unavoidable, wherefore should they blush, since Jesus Christ himself was interred in another’s grave? Ah! I wish I might have had Joseph’s grave to let Jesus be buried in it. Good Joseph thought he had cut it out for himself, and that he should lay his bones there. He had it excavated as a family vault, and lo, the Son of David makes it one of the tombs of the kings. But he did not lose it by lending it to the Lord; rather, he had it back with precious interest. He only lent it three days; then Christ resigned it; he had not injured, but perfumed and sanctified it, and make it far more holy, so that it would be an honor in future to be buried there. It was a borrowed tomb; and why? I take it, not to dishonor Christ, but in order to show that, as his sins were borrowed sins, so his burial was in a borrowed grave. Christ had no transgressions of his own; he took ours upon his head; he never committed a wrong, but he took all my sin, and all yours, if ye are believers; concerning all his people, it is true, he bore their griefs and carried their sorrows in his own body on the tree; therefore, as they were others’ sins, so he rested in another’s grave; as they were sins imputed, so that grave was only imputedly his. It was not his sepulchre; it was the tomb of Joseph. (more…)

So two things make God unashamed to be called our God: he has prepared something great for us, and we desire it above all that is on the earth. So why is he proud to be the God of people who desire his city more than all the world? Because their desire calls attention to the superior worth of what God offers over what the world offers.

In other words, the reason God is proud to be our God is not because we have accomplished something so great. But because he has accomplished something great and we desire it. There is nothing to brag about in desiring. It’s like getting hungry when you are shown a delicious meal. That is what the city of God is like. (more…)

Only six minutes long.   A fine, pastoral introduction to how we might begin to engage the sovereignty of God in the mystery of election.

Jesus...I knew he was good for something

Jesus hard at work

 Whether it be a new diet pill, a vacuum, a microwave, or even a religion, one of the things that we are culturally obsessed with is the answer to this question: “does it work?”  In many regards, thanks to the philosophical baggage of a system developed in the late 19th century called pragmatism, the answer to that question determines the truthfulness and validity of the object.  While not the father of pragmatism, surely one of its champions of belief, if not the champion is William James.  He writes:


“Pragmatism asks its usual question. “Grant an idea or belief to be true,” it says, “what concrete difference will its being true make in anyone’s actual life? How will the truth be realized? What experiences will be different from those which would obtain if the belief were false? What, in short, is the truth’s cash-value in experiential terms?”  –Pragmatism, 1907


The important thing to notice about this system is where it starts.  It does not start with truth, but rather starts with experience and experiment as a means of discovering truth.  While there is much to be said on this subject, I would like to hone in on the specific applications it has to Christianity and religious thought.  In the past much Western thought accepted certain tenets of Christianity as true and proceeded from there.  So, for example, in the past we might have said that God exists in Trinity.  He is Holy and both righteous and merciful.  Our response to this revealed (by God) and received (by the Church) truth might exhibit itself in certain behaviors such as moral restraint and religious devotion as a response to this truth.  However, under pragmatism, the system could be said to have been reversed.  Rather than start at received truth, we start in the “experience” and construct truth based off of our interpretation of our experience.  (more…)