A Resting Place

"It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me."

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Another slow day at the cath lab...

I'm a German Shepherd.

What kind of dog are you?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


I've finally finished reading The Next Reformation. Blah. That's about all I can come up with right now. I may try to review portions of it this weekend. Overall, I can't believe I trudged through all that verbiage to have him recommend the most extreme forms of pentecostalism as the real answer to postmodernism. He went from chapter upon chapter of philosophy (albeit, bad philosophy) to "we're in the end times, 'latter rain,' get slain in the Spirit, no structured worship, blah blah blah."

I'm going back to reading Wright now.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Challenge of Wright

I'm finally getting around to reading at least a little bit of N.T. Wright now that I've found that some of his work addresses Christianity in the postmodern context. I'm through the first chapter of The Challenge of Jesus, and I'm not scared yet. I know it's a tiny part of his work, but the basic premise - the absolute necessity of understanding first century Judaism in order to interpret the gospels and Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom - is right on target.

Though I am indeed a "Calvinist," I'm always a bit skeptical when the shrill voices of Reformed criticism find a new person to tear to pieces, and right now, Wright is that person. I just don't see how Wright's basic premise is any different than an attempt at semper reformanda, the Reformation principle that we should be "always reforming." Have we really turned the interpretations of Calvin, Luther, and the old Princeton theologians into the new documents of an infallible teaching magisterium?

I'm looking forward to reading a couple of Wright's "big books" this summer, and I'm looking forward to having some calm, reasonable discussion about them.

Friday, March 25, 2005


I've been very hesitant to weigh in on the Terri Shiavo story for various reasons, the greatest of which has been my lack of time to really investigate for myself. I was sent an article by a pastor friend of mine, and if you have the time, I commend it to you. World Net Daily has been covering this story longer than anyone, and this article, "The Whole Terry Shiavo Story" summarizes the story as well as providing links to their research.

For some opinion on the matter from what I think is a reasonable Christian perspective, check out this post at Blogodoxy.

This case is just fraught with controversy and many unexplained and unanswered questions. In light of that fact, it seems to me it would be better to take more time with this. I know - it's been 15 years. But it's a person's life. Even a few more years would be worth it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Raschke's Attack on Presuppositionalism

I mentioned a few posts ago that there was a section coming up in Raschke's book on "presuppositionalism," and I briefly typed out a few of my own thoughts on the value of such a doctrine for Christian apologetics in a postmodern world.

Raschke saw things much differently than I had anticipated. For Raschke, presuppositionalism is a form of "foundationalism," which is bad, according to postmoderns. It is a sort of arrogance that says, "My worldview is right, and as we work out our worldviews to their logical conclusions (reason!), mine will be shown to be superior to yours."

I'll have to look up my Reformed systematic theologies again, but I'm not sure this is what most of us mean by presuppositionalism. At least it's not what I mean; perhaps I've missed what most Reformed believers say.

Over all thus far (about halfway through), Raschke's work is an incredible disappointment. The first few chapters are simply unreachable for most evangelical Christians. I have no idea how he think such a work could spark "the next Reformation." He spent so much time writing explanations of Derrida, Heidegger, et. al, in the first few chapters (explanations which would cause most laypersons, untrained in philosophy, to set the book down after a paragraph and grab the remote control), he spent a mere 15 pages explaining what sola fida looks like in this next Reformation. Basically, it means not enlightenment and not presuppositionalism (which is the same thing as enlightenment, but not really, but still - which is about what Raschke sounds like in plain words).

While Luther is his hero, Luther uttered his famous words, "Here I stand; I can do no other," after being attacked for his study and teaching on the word of God itself. Raschke spent 98 pages exegeting Derrida and then wrote, "Here we stand. We can do no other." Shocking.

I'm not giving up, though. There are some decent points in the book, and I will get to them once I've finished. Hopefully things will get better from here.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Concert Tallies

Before I get into some serious meditations for Holy Week later on this week, I thought I'd do a fun little exercise. In making plans for the upcoming Gordon Lightfoot show in Toronto, I got to thinking about the concerts I've been to. I thought it would be fun to try to tally up all the artists I've seen and how many times I've seen them. I know I don't remember every single opening act, but here's my list, the best I can remember.

Andrew Peterson - 4 times as the main act.
Bob Dylan - 4 times, main act.
Bebo Norman - 4 times, 3 as main act, 1 as opening.
Barenaked Ladies - 4 times, main act.
Gordon Lightfoot - 3 times as main act (it'll be 4 in May).
Caedmons Call - 2 times as main act (both times before Derek Webb left).
Moxy Fruvous - 2 times, main act.
They Might Be Giants - 2 times, once as opening act, and once as main act.
Laura Story - 2 times, opening act.
Derek Webb - 1 time, main act.
Blues Traveler - 1 time, main act.
Michael Card - once, main act.
Newsboys - once, main act.
Rebecca St. James - once, main act.
Grateful Dead - once, main act (post-Garcia).
Eric Peters - once, opening act.
Andrew Osenga - once, opening act.
Jill Phillips - once, opening act.
The Nields - once, opening act.
Justin McRoberts - once, opening act.
Ani DiFranco - once, opening act.
Nicole Nordeman - once, opening act.
Scott Phillips - once, opening act.
PW Gopal - once, opening act.

I know there are a few that I just can't remember, but I recalled more opening acts than I expected!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Is Postmodernism a Metanarrative?

In the comments section of the previous post, several good issues arose pertaining to whether or not postmodernism is itself a metanarrative, thereby being defeated by its own argumentation. I am going to rely heavily on Middleton and Walsh here, quoting them at length, because they articulate this better than I can.

Middleton and Walsh, while exceedingly sensitive about postmodern concerns (based on their writing and my personal encounters with Middleton, they are even political liberals on many issues), do indeed believe that postmodernism is another metanarrative and does not escape its own criticism. Note the following: Postmodernism sees Modernity as the problem from which we need "salvation," so to speak. Postmodernism is, of course, the answer, or the "savior," if you will. As Middleton and Walsh say, "[Postmoderns] typically tell us a large-scale story in which modernity, with its totalizing metanarrative funcations as the complicaton or problem that is to be historically/narratively resolved by transcending the need for metanarratives. But isn't this itself a tall tale, a metanarrative of universal scope which is simply unacknowledged" (Truth is Stranger Than it Used to Be, p.76)?

Using a "smorgasbord" of options as an illustration of the postmodernist "mulitplicity of worldivews offered for our consumption," they continue with the following:

If among the variety of offerings we find Western modernist soup, Marxist rice, Christian stew and Muslim bread (so to speak), is there also a postmodern dish of some sort? Do postmodernists consider their own worldview as simply one option among many? Not at all. Postmodernity, as the master discourse which guides our understanding that all stories are mere human constructs, does not appear on the table. It is the table on which all other dishes are served. Postmodernity thus functions as the larger interpretive frame that relativizes all other worldviews as simply local stories with no legitimate claims to reality or universality. Given the clash of ideologies and aggressive violence which so characterizes postmodern plurality, why should we trust the outcome, unless we are rooted in a metanarrative that demands this? The postmodernist is thus caught in a performative contradiction, arguing against the necessity of metanarratives precisely by (surreptitious) appeal to a metanarrative (pp.76-77).
As I've tried to say before, postmodernism's critique of the universality of reason is good, because modernity has its issues; but I think it fails to address the key problems. Eliminating any possibility of a correct worldview will not solve the problem of oppressive metanarratives, but, while being a self-contradiction in and of itself, will plunge people into hopelessness, buying their identity off TV rather than finding it in the reality for which we were created.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Late Thinker

I've been finding on a regular basis that as I analyze issues and try to come up with answers or relevant biblical points of view on those issues, that sometimes I have some pretty good ideas. Now, there are other days, mind you, when my brain is as dull as a spoon. But every once in a while, something makes sense in my brain before I've read anyone else who came up with the same idea. When I have such a thought, I sometimes wonder if anyone else has thought of this yet, and immediately book ideas begin to spring into my mind...until I'm reading along and find that someone else has already had that thought and been published.

Now, none of this really matters at all, except for perhaps the shot it takes at my pride (you're not as smart as you think you are, Travis), which is probably a good thing. Nonetheless, I am going to officially get a jump on this particular one, just for the record's sake. As I'm reading The Next Reformation, I noticed that the next chapter has a section entitled, "Presuppositionalism." So here are some thoughts I've been developing before I read someone else who has written about it.

For some time now I've been formulating the idea in my head that the advent of postmodernism should drive Christians back toward a presuppositional form of apologetics. In other words, we start with the existence of God and the truth of His Word, rather than attempting to prove it by empirical evidence first. Spurgeon said that one does not need to defend the Bible in the same way that one does not need to defend a lion. One only needs to let the lion out. That's a good illustration of presuppositional apologetics.

Sounds mindless, right? Well, let's head back to the Garden of Eden. "In the beginning, God..." That's presuppositional. There's no footnote with 10 philospohical reasons that God exists. Now, He creates the whole world, and Adam and Eve have all the evidence they could possibly need for the existence of God. What did they do? Sinned. So, did all that empirical evidence do them any good? Is that what they really needed to really trust God? "Faith founded on fact"? And that was the human condition pre-Fall!

If the human problem is sin, and the solution is the regenerating power of the Word of God, and we believe the Word of God is, indeed, powerful enough to transform a sinner into a saint through the proclamation of the death of Jesus, then evidential apologetics must take a back seat. It may be important for certain discussions or may be a starting point to dialogue, but no one is going to say, without the regenerating work of the Spirit, "Ok, I have enough evidence now. I'll receive Jesus."

This relates to postmodernism in this way - the postmodern person has been burned by the claims of rationalism and empiricism. It turns out we don't all have the exact same rational capacities, and there is no definite conclusion to which the principles of universal reason will lead us. Indeed, the very belief that there is such a universal reason has caused the more powerful people to impose their way of life on those who disagree with them, based on these "universal principles." One group imposes, by force, its "universal principles," which are not really universal, on another.

Yet Jesus came in humility as a man and boldly challenged those who imposed their way of doing things on the poor and downtrodden.

Many postmoderns don't care how much "evidence" we have. And "evidence" won't change anyone anyway. We must return to the simple, bold, and humble proclamation of the Word, and let it have its own transforming work. Postmoderns are looking for genuine, honest people, not people with the most evidence and statistics to back up their arrogant claims. Dependence on evidential apologetics betrays a lack of trust in God's Spirit and Word.

Ok, then, thanks for entertaining this over-simplified version of my thought. I'll let you know how Raschke's section on presuppositionalism compares and contrasts with mine when I get to that point in the book.

Rush, Warren, Challies, New Age, and CNN

Challies.com had an interesting post yesterday on a call he got from CNN about a report they want to do on the Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren's best-selling but rather plain and sometimes way off base book. It's getting attention because of this whole hostage thing with Brian Nichols, and apparently CNN wants to report on it. You can read his article for yourself, but I found this particular paragraph rather amusing (though some Rush fans may not):

Interesingly, Rush Limbaugh spoke about the book in his program today, suggesting his listeners purchase it (read more here). Of course that doesn't mean much coming from Rush, as he also recommended the New Age abomination Conversations With God "if you want to have an even more detailed understanding of how some people look at this [how God shows up through people] and analyze it."

Friday, March 11, 2005

I love my wife. That is all I have to say.

Praise the What?

Yesterday, as my wife and I were frantically searching the internet for tips on crate training little Bodhi, she came across this particularly interesting piece of advice:

If you find a mess after the fact :
1. Do not punish the dog.
2. Accept the fact that you were not paying attention to the dog.
3. Do not show the dog that you are upset. Calmly put the dog on his leash and bring him to the location of the accident. With the dog at your side, firmly scold the potty. Do not scold the dog.
4. Blot up some urine, or pick up some stool with a piece of paper. Take the evidence and the dog to the latrine area. Place the paper on the ground and with the dog watching praise the potty for being in the "right" place. Temporarily leave the paper there. (Remove it when the dog isn't watching)
5. Clean up the remaining mess in the house as outlined above.

Praise the potty? We laughed very hard.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Warning in Hebrews 10

Doug Wilson has posted today on the perseverance of the elect. Oddly enough, this particular possible interpretation of the warning passage of Hebrews 10 (one of the more difficult for monergists like myself), has never crossed mind mind:

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:26-29)

What does it say? It does not say anything about Hell or everlasting damnation. The context is that the author of Hebrews (in the mid to late 60's) is trying to talk some Christians out of returning to the Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem. Obviously, they would have to go to Jerusalem to do this, and it was a masterpiece of bad timing, for Jerusalem was going to be destroyed. The Lord Jesus had prophesied that this would certainly happen within a generation, and that generation was almost up. The only thing they had waiting for them in Jerusalem was raging fire that would consume the adversary. They would not find in Jerusalem any sacrifice for sin. That was done, once for all in the death of Christ.
I'll have to give that one some thought.

Nerd Score

You can tell it's a slow day in the cath lab when...

I am nerdier than 10% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

The Orthodoxy of Green Day?

I haven't listened to Green Day since my high school years, but I just might need to find someone with a copy of American Idiot. No, I haven't become a political liberal or anything like that, but I did come across an interesting article on Break Point by Catholic Mark Gauvreau Judge that argues that music is not primarily about liberal agendas or conservative values, but one can find an incredible mix of both in music that is either beautiful or ugly. The article is Beautiful Green Day: Is Rock and Roll Liberal or Conservative?, and here's an excerpt:

...according to many theologians – and this conservative Catholic Green Day fan – beauty in music is an echo of God. (Of course, beauty and ugliness, which represents the dark side of life and the spirit world, can both be represented on the same record).This is a truth which is often ignored – both by conservatives bent on silencing rock and liberals who think that music is all about social protest.
Interesting stuff indeed. I think a Calvinist theology of Common Grace can manage to fit some of these ideas into it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee

This is the "Home Page" for my recovering pharisee confessions. This will be updated whenever I write a new one, and there will be a permanent link over in the right hand column.

Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee
Recovering Pharisee Confession #1 - the evils of "secular" music
Remedies for Pharisaism - a few iMonk posts that have helped in my recovery
Recovering Pharisee Confession #2 - on not avoiding even the appearance of evil
Recovering Pharisee Confession #3 - why churches should cancel their evening services on Super Bowl Sunday

Featured Posts

Since things have been far too hectic for me to put together any good, original posts, I thought I'd start something I've been wanting to do for a while. I have been working on a couple of "series" of posts, including "Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee," "Christianity and Politics," and my issues with being or not being a "Baptist." I'm going to create sections over in the right hand column to organize these, so they're not all over the place and can be accessed at once. In order to do that, I'll need to make an "organizer post" for each one, which you will see above this post. I'll start for now with the first two, as there really aren't enough posts in the Baptist series to merit a whole section. I'll check these regularly for comments.

Happy Reading.

Evangelism and Social Action

I'm not a United Methodist, but I do love to read Wesley Blog. (I do think John Wesley rocks). Ever since my "Evangelism and Social Action in the Urban Context" class at Houghton, I've been trying to return to this issue regularly. Wesley Blog has a good post on this as it relates to a recent warning issued by the National Council of Churches on tsunami relief and evangelism.

(See also his post just previous to that one on getting rid of the whole "let's turn around and greet one another" part of the service...something I've always hated).


This is not my dachshund. But this little guy does look a bit like Bodhi (pronounced, BO-dee), the mini dachshund my wife and I just got. If I can ever figure out how that "Hello" pictures thing works, I'll take some digitals of Bodhi and post them. We're having a lot of fun with little Bodhi Baggins so far, even though he is a lot of work. It's amazing how much time a little 7 pound animal can take up.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson

Internet Monk, Michael Spencer, has drawn his readers' attention to an excellent interview with Eugene Peterson. I wanted to provide a link to that interview here for my readers, since many from our church only know what we've heard about the Message paraphrase (which is an interesting paraphrase, but it is just that - a paraphrase. It's not a translation, and it's not heresy; it's just a paraphrase.)

So here's a Christianity Today interview with Eugene Peterson that might bring some of us down out of the clouds and back to earth. I think you'll find it a good read.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Mohler on Peretz on Liberalism

Al Mohler has chosen an interesting issue for today's column: Martin Peretz's article in The New Republic on the current state of liberalism. Peretz is its editor-in-chief, and it is a liberal publication. I heard Rush (no, I'm not a big Rush fan) talk about this a few weeks ago, and here Mohler provides some interesting insights and excerpts. Here's one in particular (keep in mind this was written by Peretz, the liberal, not Mohler, the conservative:
This patronizing attitude is proof positive that, as deep as the social and economic gains have been among African Americans, many liberals prefer to maintain their own time-honored patronizing position vis-a-vis 'the other,' the needy...This is, frankly, in sharp contrast to President Bush, who seems not to be impeded by race difference 'and gender difference' in his appointments and among his friends. Maybe it is just a generational thing, and, if it is that, it is also a good thing. But he may be the first president who apparently does not see individual people in racial categories or sex categories. White or black, woman or man, just as long as you're a conservative. That is also an expression of liberation from bias."
It seems to me that those on both sides of the aisle who have been willing to open their eyes (see my post on Christopher Hitchens for another example) have seen that Bush does not fit into the stereotypes coming from the shrill voices on the far left bank.

In any case, very interesting thoughts from Peretz and Mohler.

A Bills Counter Point

What if I told you a certain quarterback went 9-2 in his last 11 games, and the team that owned him decided to drop him in favor of an untested rookie? Would you think that was crazy?

So do I.

The problem is, there's so much emotion stirring around Buffalo over some bad games that Bledsoe had (and keep in mind, in Buffalo, the bad offensive line is never to blame), including the very last game of this year's season, that many simply aren't thinking clearly. J.P. Lossman might be great. But "might" is the key word there. When you've got a veteran like Bledsoe, who is a good and humble leader, who's turned an 0-4 season into a 9-7, including a 9-2 record in his last 11 games, you've got to make the rookie earn his start.

Just my two cents on the matter.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sundry Things

Craig vs. Spong on the Resurrection. Now's that would be a good watch.

Dawn Treader vs. Emergent Church. I'm really looking forward to getting into the Emergent Church issue.

Doug Wilson on Postmillenialism, where he calls Christianity "a religion of world conquest."

Mohler on Postmodernism. Joel Hunter from BHT says Mohler's wrong.

'nuff for now.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

late night ramblings

I had another one of those moments this morning when it hit me that I have been so out of the practice of prayer that I wasn't quite sure how to start. I hate those moments. Can you say "slow sanctification?" Very good. You've just described my life.

I finished reading Truth is Stranger Than it Used to Be tonight. Lots to comment on there. Most intriguing was the way the authors dealt with the OT problem texts (terribly immoral things happening, often to women, with no disapproval whatsoever expressed by either the characters in the story or the author of the text). The primary thrust of the book was that the biblical metanarrative is a counterideological and antitotalizing narrative that embraces the marginalized and suffering, rather than a metanarrative that oppresses. I would have been quite angry had the authors not made an attempt to deal with those OT "texts of terror."

Basically, Middleton and Walsh want to read the inclusion of those texts as evidence of what goes wrong when God's chosen people try to use the biblical story (of their election) in order to grant themselves a place of privilege over other people, resulting in their oppression. No correction is made in the text itself, because we the readers, as part of God's redemptive purposes in the earth, are supposed to recognize the sin in the text and conclude that this or that particular instance (for example, the woman raped, treated badly by her husband, and torn into 12 pieces in Judges 19) was a time when God's people failed to live out their election properly. In other words, even when the author of the text does not plainly recognize a problem, we the readers, who have the rest of God's revelation to us, including His redemptive purposes, in view, should recognize a problem. I'll try to include some direct quotes from the book when I have more time.

I've also started reading The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernism. It should be a very interesting read. As I start plunking out rough draft portions of the thesis (which I'm thinking of titling, "A Trinitarian Theology for Our Postmodern Times," or something like that), I'll include some of it here in blog posts.