Saturday, May 30, 2009

First Day of Summer Vacation

Today was the first day of summer vacation for Caleb. It was pretty laid back around here today because he spent the night at a friends house last night (first ever sleep over). He came back pretty zonked. So, we laid around in the morning, wrested a little, played some PS2. At lunch we made our summer bucket list which includes camping, creek walking, hiking, drive in movie, reading a Narnia book together, the zoo, Chicago, visiting grandparents, cooking smores in our firepit, another baseball game, fishing, the art museum and learning to swim. It'll be a good summer.

After naps we headed to the library (our usual Friday routine). I always browse the Graphic Novel section (for the kids, seriously). There I saw the weirdest book ever - The 9/11 Commission Report: A Graphic Adaptation. Yep, someone made a comic out of it. Here's a look:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Song of the Week

Ok, so after being at the ball game this weekend and then watching the Indians score 7 runs in the bottom of the ninth, overcoming a 10-0 deficit, I'm into baseball today. I can't think of a better baseball song than "Centerfield".

Centerfield - John Fogerty

Monday, May 25, 2009

Indians vs. Reds

The family took the day and headed to Cincinnati for a ball game yesterday. I had never been to Great American Ball Park - it's awesome. It was a great game - a real pitchers duel with drama. Lee pitched well, allowing 3 runs in 7 innings. Sizemore, the boys favorite player, had a couple of hits including a triple and a close play at home in which he was called out but the call was reversed due to interference by the 3rd baseman. The boys favorite part was when "Redlegs", the mascot squirted me with his water cannon, stole my Indians hat and filled it with water before putting it back on my head. Great times. Luke was surprisingly good, as long as we kept feeding him stuff! The game was tied in the bottom of the 10th when we took off. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the Reds won in the bottom of the 11th.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Calvin on Worship

I cringe anytime someone calls me a disciple of ___________ (it's been filled in with people like Piper, Edwards, Calvin, DA Carson, etc.). I have learned a great deal from each of these men, one in person and three through their writings. They are among my hero's. And I disagree with them all on some points of theology (sadly, I couldn't be ordained in Piper's baptist church because of my views of baptism, couldn't teach at Trinity where DA Carson teaches because of my view of the millennium, which interestingly also put me at odds with Edwards - he couldn't have taught at Trinity either though. Confused?).

Calvin is certainly one of my hero's - more so now as I'm reading a biography of his life (not my first). Yet I disagree with him also on finer points of theology. One has to do with worship. Calvin expended a lot of energy reforming worship in Geneva. Here's a few of the things he did:

1. Instituted quarterly Communion services. He really wanted the Lord's Supper to be served every week but the City Council did not allow this. Prior to Calvin's reforms it was observed once a year.
2. Did away with all religious symbols inside the church including crosses.
3. Instituted congregational singing.
4. He did away with choirs and with musical instruments in worship. All congregational singing was in unison and was a cappella. He believed the New Covenant required abandoning instruments in worship. he argued that when Paul commands that we should praise God in language we understand (1 Cor. 14:13). He saw instruments as adding a 'second voice' that was not human.

Now lest we judge to harshly, remember there was a historical context. Prior to the Reformation, the common worshiper had little role in the public worship of the church. They did not participate at all except to listen and receive. Calvin's emphasis on the full participation of the body in worship certainly flows from his understanding of the priesthood of all believers.

Also, I should say I agree in substance with Calvin, but not in the application (which I'll get to shortly). Stick with me for a a minute because I think Calvin's understanding for worship is incredibly important and biblical.

Calvin understood that music was incredibly powerful and that this power could have a good or bad effect on people. I'm totally with him here. Been to a concert lately? Ever seen those old videos of the people swooning to the Beatles? Ever been in a worship service with people's hands raised and singing at the top of their longs songs there were totally wrong theologically? Yep. Calvin writes, "Care must always be taken that the song be neither light nor frivolous; but that it have weight and majesty, and also, there is a great difference between music which one makes to entertain men at table and in their houses, and the Psalms which are sung in the Church in the presence of God and his angels. "

Calvin also understood how important worship is to the people of God. Worship, in Calvin's view (and mine) was the 'key meeting place of God and his people'. Worship wasn't something that served another end (wasn't a tool for evangelism or even teaching - though it often has evangelistic and didactic results). Instead, worship is and end in and of itself.

In addition, Calvin had a firm grasp on what sin has done to man and how it has effected his worship. Godfrey summarizes, "[he believed] that Christians too often want to please themselves in worship rather than pleasing God". Ouch.

Calvin believed worship should be based in the Word, simple, and reverent. Internally, it should flow from the heart and externally it should conform to the Biblical patterns of worship. On this I totally agree with Calvin. Again, it comes down to application.

Centuries later the Puritans picked up on Calvin's theology of worship and articulated it in the Regulative Principle: in corporate worship we should do only those things which Scripture specifically tells us to do. This is in contrast with the Hooker principle which states that the church should feel free to adopt a practice in worship unless it is specifically forbidden in worship.

In substance I agree with Calvin and even more with how the Puritans articulated his principles [biblical principles]. The Puritans were a little more sophisticated in how the articulated it, distinguishing between elements, forms and circumstances. The elements were things like prayers, singing, preaching, etc. They were commanded by Scripture and regulated by it also. The church did not have liberty to add elements or leave them off [hence, most who follow the regulative principle would not allow drama's in Sunday morning worship]. Forms, on the other hand, were not so tightly regulated. Prayers could be formal or spontaneous; preaching could be from a manuscript or a slim outline. However, forms should fit the elements. In other words, it would be inconsistent to preach in a clown outfit on Sunday mornings. The form doesnt' fit the high calling of preaching the Word. Circumstances were not regulated by Scripture and included things like what time the services were held, etc.

These distinctions, I think, are helpful - and it's why I end up disagreeing with Calvin. He seems to have considered instrumentation an 'element' (though the category doesnt' show up in the same way as it does in later Puritan writings). I wouldn't put it in that category - instead I see instruments as aiding in the singing of praises. I would consider it a form, not an element.

Having said all of this, and probably bored you to death, let me affirm Calvin's desire to reform worship. I think he was dead on in his evaluation of the importance of worship and in the human proclivity to twist it. I agree with what he wrote to Sadoleto (a Roman Catholic opponent), "there is nothing more perilous to our salvation that a preposterous and perverse worship of God."

What do you think of Calvin's understanding? Of worship in the 21st century church (politeness please)?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Calvin, the pastor

I still haven't ever read Calvin's Institutes. At this point, it's almost a badge of honor - I can say I learned my Calvinism from the Bible, not John Calvin! I had hoped to read it over the summer, but then I was hit by a good dose of realism. This is, however, the summer of Calvin's 500th birthday (actually, Calvin and I share a birthday, July 10th. I guess it was preordained that I'd be a Calvinist!), so I did pick up a short bio of Calvin by Robert Godfrey, Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor.

When we think of Calvin we often think a theologian, an author, one of the leaders of a movement we call the Reformation. Some might add heretic to that list, others might want hero instead. How did Calvin see himself? As a pastor. Here's a quote from the preface that explains a little of Calvin's heart:

"Calvin saw the importance of his life as a pastor in his own day and did not focus on his influence in years to come. When his friend William Farel [who coerced him into staying and pastoring in Geneva by threatening him with curses] urged him to publish his study of Genesis, he replied, 'As to my observations on Genesis, if the Lord shall grant me longer life and leisure, perhaps I will set myself about that work, although I do not expect to have many hearers. This is my especial end and aim, to serve my generation; and for the rest, if, in my present calling, an occasional opportunity offers itself, I shall endeavor to improve it for those who come after us. I have a mind to set about writing several things, but as my wife is not in ill health, not without danger, my attention is otherwise engaged."

I love this portrait of Calvin - not overestimating his importance (which is so easy to do). He wasn't aiming to be a great man that would be remembered by history, but aimed at being faithful to his calling as a pastor and a husband. If opportunities presented themselves, he'd take them for the good of kingdom, but he wasn't seeking them in a self serving manner.

Its so easy to get sucked into thinking incessantly about our legacy (at least it's easy for the guys I talk to. I suspect it is for the women out there also). We want to be remembered, to be a part of a great movement, to do something historic. Praise God if we do, but praise him still if we don't. If we are faithful in what God has given us, praise him for the opportunity and the grace needed for that.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Song of the Week

I wish this was a song we sung more often on Sundays. It's a wonderful old hymn written by William Cowper - a man who struggled with depression, mental illness and even suicidal thoughts. Yet, his willingness to trust in God through those trials is inspiring. This hymn means a lot to me.

God Moves In A Mysterious Way - Album Version - Jeremy Riddle

Monday, May 11, 2009

I haven't posted much recently as I've been really busy (and stuck) writing my paper. It's due Thursday, so I'll be posting more of it and other things soon.

I can, however, still find time to post the song of the week! This is off one of my favorite albums from high school (way back in 1991!). There are four to five albums I remember from my junior/senior year loving: Metallica's Black Album, Gun's and Roses Use Your Illusion 1&2, Queensryche's Empire, U2's Achtung Baby and Rush's Roll the Bones (oh, and Garth Brooks Ropin the Wind, but we won't talk about that).

Bravado - R U S H

Monday, May 04, 2009

Song of the Week

Last night I watched "Never Back Down" after I got home from ConneXion. Lynn was into her Celebrity Apprentice and I wasn't in the mood for that, so Netflix Instant Viewing to the rescue! The movie isn't that bad (I expected it to be much worse). Basically, it's a more violent Karate Kid. I liked this song from the soundtrack (soundtracks can made a bad movie less bad, cant they).

Time Wont Let Me Go - The Bravery