Friday, January 30, 2004

What Can We Learn from the Quote of the Day?

"The reason we're doing this is to make God a part of the relationship. We are making our union with God in public. We do see it as a sacrament" (Jeffery A. Manley, who will exchange vows with his male partner in a church in March). Read the article.

What has happened to the New York Times Quote of the Day. I'm sure in years past, profound statements by politicians, statesmen and others of notoriety were published, intended for the readers growth. But now it has become a slot of the paper/rag to promote the "way-liberal" agenda! Yes, most NYers--including myself-- are "liberal," or, at least, registered democrats. But that shouldn't suggest that all NYers affirm the "extreme-left's" every agenda. We can, however, affirm the policies of the liberal-left that are in line with the truth of the gospel (e.g., social justice and all that it stands for and accomplishes)! But same-sex union is out of the question. My question today to the New York Times is: How is this quote helpful to the masses? It's far from a quote from Jesus Christ our Lord, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman or Bugs Bunny (for that matter).

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Let Us All Continue To Confuse the Issues

"Let's get this straight: The god called variously 'Allah,' 'Yahweh' and 'God' are all one and the same" (John Kearney, My God Is Your God, New York Times, Wednesday, January 28, 2004).

What categories are Mr. Kearney confusing?

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The PCA and Urban America

The PCA considers itself to be a churchplanting movement and denomiation. Yet the PCA's history is one that some might label "southern presbyterian" (and southern presbyterianism is a "dirty word" to urbanites since it embodies, espouses and promotes a culture that is foreign to much of this country's urban centers). With the ever increasing urbanization of America (and the world for that matter), how can the PCA continue to plant relavant churches in this country's urban centers?

Harvey Conn and Manuel Ortiz are the churchplanting "gurus" in Reformed-Evangelical circles in the United States. They believe that churchplanting in particular and ministry in general must begin with the indigenous leaders already available within the boundaries of the targeted cities. Conversely, the PCA is (and has been) notorious for raising up leaders steeped in southern-presbyterianism and supplanting them in the urban centers around the country (especially in the north). For Conn and Ortiz this is where the problem begins. Conn and Ortiz make their point extremely clear when they write:

It has been our experience, as well as that of others
with experience in urban ministry and leadership
training, that the kind of leaders necessary for the
task of urban mission already live in the targeted
urban community. To exclude the community as a
resource for selecting and developing leadership is to
exhibit superior and paternalistic attitudes. It
demonstrates lack of respect for the people we hope to
serve. We are long overdue in developing mission
strategies that reflect the fact that leadership for
the present and future of the ministry are already in
the community and that such indigenous leadership is
necessary for healthy and long-term witness. It is
inappropriate, inept and unnecessary to recruit from
outside and impose in a community the leaders we deem
requisite to carry the mission forward, as if there
were no potential leaders in that particular urban
community (Urban Ministry, p. 412-413).

Could it be that Conn and Ortiz are just simply reflecting on, or beginning with, the Pastoral Epistles (especially Titus 1:5)? Why don't we?

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Argument for Infant Baptism from a Socio-Political Perspective (from Rabbi Saul's Blog)

The practice of infant baptism rules out the possibility of the Church becoming a mere voluntary society. Voluntary societies are not 'public' to the degree that the Church should be.

The State is not a voluntary society and, when the Church becomes a voluntary society it loses the power to truly challenge the rulers of this world. A kingdom or nation does not begin with the voluntary membership of its citizens. This would compromise the possibility of its being a true society. It begins with the reality of a public authority and not with the autonomous choice of the individual agent.

If God is not permitted to put His name on us in baptism until we decide that we want to let Him do so, we have made the authority of God bow to the claims of human autonomy. This lies at the root of a lot of Baptist problems: the desire to say 'I am what I say I am, not what God says I am'. Baptism does not indelibly mark you out because it is founded upon your own decision. If you ever move away from that decision any meaning the baptism had is seen to be annulled.

If the sole valid basis for receiving baptism is an autonomous decision on my part then even the Church, in the final analysis, has to admit that her authority comes from below and not from above. It becomes a human construct, rather than the new nation under Christ.

It is very important to come to grips with the fact that Jesus is Lord. These reflections appear to me to be a valuable application of that Lordship, in terms of the biblical revelation concerning the character of the Church.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Has the New Perspective on Paul Created a New "Left" and/or a New "Right?"

A rather strange thing has occurred in Reformed-Evangelical circles (especially in the PCA). What was once a neatly divided front--conservatives on the right and progressives on the left--is now no longer as neat. The New Perspective on Paul (NPP) has allied these two "old" fronts. Both the old "conservatives" and the old "progressives" see the NPP as a threat. But what does the NPP threaten for each of these groups? On the one hand, the old conservatives believe that the NPP begins with less-than-Christian presuppositions, which can only lead (so they believe) to less-than-Christian results. Moreover, since these old conservatives have a skewed understanding of sola scriptura, they feel that the NPP directly threatens this reformation doctrine since it makes great use of Second Temple literature and history. On the other hand, the old "progressives"--who tend to be Sonship-types--see the NPP as a direct threat to the gospel. This unfortunate reality comes as a direct result of equating justification by faith with the gospel proclamation itself.

So is the NPP creating a new "right" or new "left" in Reformed-Evangelical circles?