Wednesday, October 31, 2007

scary mary poppins. too funny!

Happy Reformation Day, compliments of RC Sproul's Ligonier Ministries

This is an outstanding study Bible at a great price. Buy several as Christmas presents!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Did Jesus Descend into Hell

This question came up yesterday at the cgroup leaders luncheon and I've been asked several times about it since. I thought this post from a couple of years ago (with some slight modifications) might help:

Two weeks ago we read the Apostles Creed together. This ancient creed declares that Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell". I had at least one person ask my about my views on this, the phrase "He descended into hell", so I thought a post might help.
Right up front, let me tell you that I do not believe that Jesus literally descended into hell after his death. Nor do I believe the Bible supports this view.

The actual phrase "descended into hell" did not appear in any form of the creed until 390AD, and then only in a copy made by Rufinus (and not the one he preserved as official). Even then, Rufinus, it seems, did not believe that Jesus descended into hell like we use the phrase, but into the grave (the word Hades can mean hell or grave). It did not again appear in a copy of the creed until 650AD.

Historically, most Protestant Christians have rejected the idea that Jesus descended literally into hell (Lutherans believe he did to boast about his defeat of Satan and the ungodly, and more recently dispensationalists have taught that Jesus descended into hell to lead OT saints to freedom). Most have chosen to interpret this dubious phrase in one of two ways. Some follow Rufinus and believe it to mean that he was placed in the grave, emphasizing that he was truly dead. Others follow Calvin and believe that it refers to the period of time when Jesus suffered God's wrath and separation from Him on the cross. This is the view of Calvin, the view expressed in the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westminster Larger Catechism and other reformed doctrinal confessions.

I know some where wondering where I stood on this, and I tend to follow Calvin (surprise, surprise) - believing that it refers to that period when Jesus was suffering not just physically, but suffering spiritual separation from the love of God as he was made sin for us. Hope this helps.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

InterFaith Prayer Clarification

Tonight the Dali Lama lead an interfaith prayer service in Bloomington. I recently spoke out about why I would not participate in this service, but I think I may have been misunderstood. Some have told me they thought this was wasting a great opportunity to engage in some interfaith dialogue. I guess I see it differently.

Please know, I engage in interfaith dialogue. I enjoy getting to know others from faiths different faiths. I am a member of a group that involves Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and Christians of every stripe. This interfaith prayer service, however, is not dialogue, but worship. Maybe you don't think prayer is worship. I don't know what else it could possibly be.

Some might object to my position saying that no one would be forcing me to pray to anyone but Jesus. That objection misses the point. The point is Jesus' reputation. Is Jesus a peer of Mohammed or Buddha or Krishna? Participating in an event like this communicates to other participating that I believe Jesus is on par with these other religious leaders. Truth is, I don't. He is superior. He is sui generis, in a league all by himself.

Again, some may say that my actions wouldn't be interpreted that way, but this prayer service was promoted under the presupposition that "we all pray to the same Creator/God". God might have something different to say, indeed he does (see Isaiah ch. 40-50).

Should I be concerned with conclusions others might draw from my participation? Absolutely. That's an ambassadors job. The ambassadors actions are always being interpreted, and reflect on his boss and his nation. We are Christ's ambassadors. We must consider how others will interpret our actions and how it will reflect on Christ.

Let me say one more word about interfaith dialogue. As I said, I do engage in a fair bit of this, but never with an open mind. Wow, I'm sure that takes some by surprise. What I mean is I never go into it willing to be convinced that Jesus isn't the Son of God who took away my sin by being nailed to a cross and rising three days later. I keep an open mind about many, many things, but not foundational things. As C.S. Lewis put it, "The goal of an open mind is to develop a closed mind". Instead, I go into these conversations looking for echoes of truth, longings that are waiting to be filled by a right relationship with God, things in our discussions that will help me point people to the life giving, freeing, saving truth of the gospel.

I hope this post helps clarify my position.

(For more on my thoughts, read A Pleading Letter to a Christian Brother)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Like...Could you just say it?!

You have to check out this video and post on Pyromaniacs. This is one of the three or four blogs I check regularly (along with Pipers, Driscolls, Justin Taylor, Doug McHugh and Sarah German). The video is funny and convicting all at the same time.

Be a Better You, chapter 1

Oh my. I realized after chapter one I will never make it through this book - not only because of the horrible theology, but also the style. It is so repetitive. It is so repetitive. Oh, sorry, it's contagious.

The introduction actually begins with a paragraph I could hear myself saying, or Bob saying. Joel reminds his readers that there is an inner voice that says to us, "you were born for better than this". I agree, but I know where Joel is going. He means, you were born for a better job, a better car, a better house or marriage. When I say it, I mean you were born for God (like Augustine meant it).

One of the most painful sentences to read was, "God never performs his greatest feats in your yesterdays". Ah, what about the cross. What about my adoption. I know I'm not finished yet, but the greatest feats have already been accomplished, and guess what, they were accomplished in my past. But again, Joel doesn't have anything of the sort in mind. He means promotions, happiness, dreams coming true, running through fields of wild flowers.

Let me get past this stuff to a much more serious issue - the way Osteen uses Scripture. For example, "The Scripture teaches that we have a valuable treasure on the inside. You have a gift". There is no citation here, but I think he is refering to 2 Corinthians 5:7. It is a great text, but Joel doesn't do it justice. The treasure, according to Paul, is the gospel. According to Joel, its your God given dreams - "Give birth to the dreams and desires that God has placed in your heart".

Here's the worst, and it really shows how Osteen's message undermines the gospel. He discusses the story of Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit and hid because of their nakedness. He writes, "I love the way God answered them. He said, 'Adam, who told you that you were naked?' In other words, 'Who told you that something was wrong with you?' God immediately knew the enemy had been talking to them". On the same page he talks about lies Satan tell us. Um, Joel, there was something wrong with them. They rebelled against the God and King. They plunged humanity and the cosmos into sin and frustration.

The implications are appalling. Joel is, in essence, denying sin. Adam and Eve, you sinned, but there's nothing wrong with you! The truth is, when Satan comes to us and tells us there something wrong with us, he's not lying. There is. We're sinners. He seems to be more Pelagian than Pelagius himself.

One last thing, and maybe you can help me with this. He writes, "Paul responded, ' What if they don't believe? Will their unbelief make the promise of God of no effect in my life?' Paul was sayin, "If other people don't want to believe God for better things in their lives, fine' but that won't keep me from believing. I know the promises of God are in me.'" Where does that come from. No citation, and I can't figure it out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Can't Believe I Just Did That!

I was just at Borders Books and I bought Joel Osteen's newest book Becoming a Better You. I don't know if I've ever been embarrassed about a book purchase before, but I felt compelled to explain to the cashier that I wanted to review the book on my blog, not ingest it and be a better me.

As I thumbed through the pages, deciding whether or not to buy the book, I was appalled by Joel's use of Scripture. That's what I want to focus on as I read this book and review it.

My interest in Osteen has been ongoing, mainly because my understanding of the Gospel and his are at opposite poles. I've bashed him publicly before. I almost felt bad about that, until I watched one of his sermons. Then I thought I should do it more often, if only on the sly.

60 minutes did a piece on Osteen this past Sunday night. You can watch the video on the 60 minutes site. It's 12 minutes well spent, if just to hear Michael Horton's critique of Osteen (you can read more of Horton on Osteen on the WTS California site).

Friday, October 05, 2007

God sends plague of flies, Indians win

Tonights game was much different than last nights. Last night, the tribe scored 12 runs, outslugging the mighty Yankees - a David and Goliath kinda thing.

Tonight, it was a little reminiscent of the plagues God sent against Egypt. In the 8th inning, the Indians were down 1-0, having squandered many opportunities to score. Then, a swarm of bugs descended upon Jacob's Field, flying in players eyes, noses, mouths, ears, etc. The games was delayed while players, coaches and umpires sprayed down with bug spray. It didn't work, at least not for Joba Chamberlin. The pitcher hit a batter, walked two, and threw two wild pitches - one which allowed Grady Sizemore to tie up the game on a close play at home.

The Indians would go on to win the game in the 11th inning - showing that not only can the outslug the Yankees, they can outpitch them. The plague of flying insects certainly helped, and is just further confirmation that the Yankess are the evil empire and God is on the Indians side!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Silly Church

Francis Schaffer said that the world doesn't take the church seriously because the church isn't serious (Evangelical Ghetto). Ah, yeah!

I wish this were the worst example of evangelical silliness, but it's a much deeper issue, and more serious issue than stupid church signs.