Traveling Thru Here

May 13, 2011

Tim Keller on Homosexuality: Good for Human Flourishing Inside the PCA?

Filed under: Ecclesia — Tags: , , — j.hansen @ 12:42 AM

There has been much commentary lately regarding Rev. Tim Keller’s public responses to questions related to homosexuality (here, here, here, here, and here, just to mention a few).  The aftermath of all this chatter has resulted in more general discussions of Keller, his role, and the future: here, here and here. Many of the discussions have quoted large portions of Keller’s interviews, but I had not seen a video of any of these interactions until I found this:

May 7, 2011

Not Your Typical Calvinist Proof-Text

Filed under: Calvinism — Tags: , — j.hansen @ 6:58 PM

This passage is but one among the many where James addresses how people speak, and until recently, I did not associate it with Calvinism.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.  So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.  (James 4:13-17, ESV)

My conversation partner (hereafter “CP”) asked me if I would own a house one day and I casually responded: “Lord willing.” CP is a Christian and has read the passage quoted above, but did not like the lesson. CP wants to leave off the bit about the Lord willing, not because s/he is confident of the future, but because s/he thinks this verse requires Calvinism, that ultimately God is the one who determines outcomes and results. CP is a Christian, but is more comfortable with chance than with God and is not pleased with suggestions that God determines the outcomes of seemingly chance events. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33).

I wondered how non-Calvinists interpret this passage. It seems inescapably to say that, at least, any future plans a human makes will only come to pass if the Lord wills those results. I never considered this a Calvinist proof-text because there is an easy non-Calvinist response: our plans only come to pass if the Lord wills them simply because he constantly keeps himself apprise of our plans and could intervene to thwart them at anytime, not that he actively controls all ends. This seems a perfectly reasonable interpretation, yet my non-Calvinist friend heard, what the Westminster Larger Catechism refers to as “God’s works of providence,” haunting every syllable in the Apostle’s insistence that we add the clause “if the Lord wills.”

More concerning is CP’s willingness to openly rebel against what s/he thought the Bible clearly taught. And for the record, I believe the Bible clearly teaches Calvinism. I just don’t think James 4:13-16 is the passage you go to to make the case.

May 1, 2011

Heaven Gets Bandwidth Upgrade: The Beatification of Blessed Karlo

Filed under: Rome — Tags: , , , , , — j.hansen @ 10:37 PM

Tired of waiting in long prayer lines just to get a word in with the Lord Jesus? Wait no longer! That famous beatifier has now been beatified. His lines are wide open, so if you can’t get through to the Lord himself, why not give Blessed Karlo a shout?

April 30, 2011

Church Hoping: How Do You Weed-Out Churches?

Colleen Fletcher

Today I was checking to see what churches are in the area where I’ve been offered a job. Feeling more Presbyterian than anything else of late, I came across this church: The Presbyterian Church at New Providence (“Christ Centered, People Focused”).

To evaluate a church by its website may betray a certain amount of presumption. Be that as it may, my normal protocol has me checking the “what we believe” portion of their site first, but briefly, to see there doctrine of scripture (if available). Then, immediately I check to see who their pastors and elders are. This is the process I went through as to The Presbyterian Church at New Providence. Here is what I found.

They affirm this about the Bible:

the Bible is the living Word of God. Through the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments God reveals himself to us. The entire Bible is God-breathed and God-inspired. The Scriptures are the norm and basis upon which we build our faith and live our lives.

And one of their pastors is named Colleen Fletcher.

With this juxtaposition — their doctrine of scripture against their practical ecclesiology — the revelation of this verse from 1 Timothy 2 persuades me to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

How do you weed out churches?

April 25, 2011

See Jesus’ Mug Over at Kevin DeYoung’s Blog at TGC

Over here, Kevin DeYoung posted an audio clip of a famous sermon in which the accompanying video showcased an image meant to be a picture of the Lord Jesus.  Some commented on the post that such images violate the second commandment.

Q. 109. What sins are forbidden in the second commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.

As an RCA minister, DeYoung is not bound by the Westminster Standards. So, I thought it fitting to add a bit from the Three Forms of Unity (by which DeYoung is bound). Here are questions and answers 96 to 98 from the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q. 96.  What doth God require in the second commandment?

A.  That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His Word.

Q. 97.  Are images then not at all to be made?

A.  God neither can nor may be represented by any means.  But as to creatures, though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make or have any resemblance of them either in order to worship them or to serve God by them.

Q. 98.  But may not images be tolerated in the churches as books to the laity?

A.  No; for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have His people taught, not by dumb images, but by the lively preaching of His Word.

April 24, 2011

Easter Service @ Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — j.hansen @ 3:39 PM

Lord’s Day worship at Redeemer Presbyterian NYC this morning was the epitome of an evangelical Easter Service. The stage was flooded with lilies (Attendees could even take one home after service!), the liturgy was littered with special music (more than congregational singing!), NYC’s once-a-year attendees were given the opportunity to pay penance in a special Easter sacrificial offering to promote “social justice” causes (Please, come back again next year for our once-a-year special offering!), and personal testimonies (four!) were as ubiquitous as rattlers at a Church of God with Signs Following service.

April 22, 2011

Oh, that Popish Mass of Accursed Idolatry!

Filed under: Uncategorized — j.hansen @ 3:14 PM

Question 80. What difference is there between the Lord’s supper and the popish [A.K.A., Roman Catholic] mass?

Answer. The Lord’s supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; and, that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, who, according to his human nature is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, and will there be worshipped by us: – but the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.

April 19, 2011

Rev. Tim Keller: “This Easter Remember the Poor”

Filed under: Uncategorized — j.hansen @ 3:45 PM

I received the following message from my pastor today and thought I’d pass it along to you.

Dear Friends,

Eighteen years ago, Redeemer began an appeal known as the Easter Sacrificial Offering. This offering supports the work of Hope for New York, Redeemer’s mercy arm, a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization that mobilizes volunteer and financial resources to the poor and marginalized in New York City.

Hope for New York currently partners with over 30 affiliate organizations that work with and care for the poor. Last year, thousands of volunteers gave over 35,000 volunteer hours – mostly from Redeemer – humbly serving their neighbors and witnessing the transforming work of its affiliates.

Personally, I am thankful for the work of HFNY. As you know, Redeemer’s vision is not to build a great church, but to build a great city. In Jeremiah, we are told to seek the shalom, or peace, of the city. This Hebrew word means total flourishing in every dimension-socially, economically, physically, and spiritually. Effectively, God is saying, “I want you to serve, pray and root for the shalom of the city.” HFNY helps volunteers and affiliate organizations do just that.

The current economic climate has caused a significant increase in the need for services amongst the poor. At this critical time, Hope for New York has invested more resources into organizations serving the poor in their communities especially in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Every gift received through the Easter Sacrificial Offering will directly support the programs of HFNY’s affiliate organizations. Last year, HFNY distributed over $1 million in grants – a 20% increase – towards programs that included medical care for the homeless, mentoring programs for at-risk youth and food for low-income New Yorkers.

As we approach the Easter season, I hope that you will be motivated to participate in this year’s sacrificial offering by the joy of what God has done for you. Having seen your need and your spiritual poverty, he emptied heaven of his greatest treasure, his son, Jesus, “who became poor so that we might be rich.” Please prayerfully consider joining me in supporting this year’s Easter Sacrificial Offering.

Warmly,

Tim Keller
Senior Pastor

April 13, 2011

What is it?: Defining Pietism.

Filed under: Uncategorized — j.hansen @ 11:40 PM

I was recently asked by Mr. O. (names have been changed to protect the innocent) to explain what pietism is. Here is my first bite at that apple.

Mr. O., I’m no theologian/pastor type, but I’ll give it a try. My understanding is that pietism is a theological view point that can be boiled down to making growth in good works the most important thing of the Christian life, rather than growth in right doctrine. It is a wrong emphasis on good works, not necessarily an outright denial of correct doctrine. Pietism is present where the emphasis on good works effectively (though not necessarily intentially) eclipses the importance of growth in right doctrine.

Yet, confessionalism and pietism are not binary categories — there is a continuum from pure pietism to pure confessionalism. I understand pietism is by contrast with confessionalism. This might be illustrated best in the context of, say, a church membership interview where an elder asks for “your testimony.”

The pietist elder wants to hear something about how God changed the person’s life, how he was moved “by the Spirit” at one summer camp and decided to respond to the alter call and how he really wanted to stop sinning after that. The confessionalist would be happy to simply hear “Jesus the Messiah came to save his people and died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day.” For the confessionalist, knowing nothing more about the person, that profession would be sufficient grounds to regard the person as a Christian.

The pietist wants to know how often you look at porn on the internet, how often you read your Bible and pray, whether you remained pure until marriage, whether you drink often, etc. The pietist likes questions like WWJD? The confessionalist likes the question what did Jesus do?

Pietists consider “dead orthodoxy” a problem. Confessionalists consider “dead orthodoxy” a contradiction in terms. The confessionalist would not say that good works are not important, but rather the most important thing is what Christ did, not what you will do or are doing. Pietists appeal in their hearts to subjective experiences and their own good works as a way to comfort themselves (ourselves) since faith alone is so fantastically incredible.

Darryl G. Hart’s Response to Kevin DeYoung (of The Gospel Coalition) on Pietism & Confessionalism

Filed under: Uncategorized — j.hansen @ 4:42 PM

Here is Dr. Hart’s response to Rev. Kevin DeYoung first part.  Today, DeYoung followed up with his second part (written after Dr. Hart’s response).

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