April 2008

29 Apr 2008

Jeremiah Wright has been busy of late claiming his prerogatives as a pastor. Fair enough, but the media is predictably missing that his exposition of Scripture is worse (and far more dangerous) than his political commentary. Example:

MODERATOR [at National Press Club yesterday]: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but through me.” Do you believe this? And do you think Islam is a way to salvation?
WRIGHT: Jesus also said, “Other sheep have I who are not of this fold.”

The comical thing is that John 10:16, the verse quoted from by Wright, actually refutes his universalism when read in its entirety:

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

One voice, one shepherd. Luke lays it out:

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. -Acts 4:11-12

Compare with John 1:1, John 8:58, John 10:30, John 17:2-3, Acts 10:40, 1 Cor 3:11, 1 Cor 8:6, Col 1:15-20, Col 2:9, 1 Tim 2:5, Heb 1, Heb 3:3-4, Heb 13:8, and 1 John 2:22.

28 Apr 2008

McCoy: We were speculating. Is God really out there?
Kirk: Maybe he’s not out there, Bones. Maybe he’s right here. [points to his heart]
-from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Every few years, a book comes out that captures the world’s attention using the same basic New Age stew (and a big marketing budget). The latest deceiver is Eckhart Tolle. He’s being touted by Oprah Winfrey, who herself has a long track record of pushing falsehood. The book names may change, the endorsers may change as the decades go by (John Denver, Shirley MacLaine, Marianne Williamson), but the beliefs are pretty much the same vapid samplings of pantheism, paganism, gnosticism, and self-help.

Paul and John in particular warn against those pushing false knowledge of hidden things (e.g. the book of Colossians). The early church father Irenaeus meticulously chronicled the “absurd ideas” of gnostics like Valentinus. Compared to the complexities of the old heretics, the pop-culture smorgasbord tends to serve heretical appetizers (a little bit o’ this and a little bit o’ that) and junk food.

Given that, why would anyone waste time reading Oprah Winfrey’s latest guru instead of mining the Scripture? Well, for one, these false teachers tell itching ears (2 Tim 4:3) what they want to hear. They impart supposedly “secret” knowledge that turns out to be the same old lies: You are a good person with great potential, so look within and become a god (compare with Jeremiah 17:9…”The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”). And of course, they tell us not to worry about King Jesus. Jesus, to these false teachers, is a “demigod” or “spirit guide,” but not the only begotten Son of God who rules the nations (Psalm 2). He’s tame.

Also, these books prey on the ignorance of our Christian neighbors. This is the kind of stuff — along with all the other self-help, quasi-religious therapy of television talk shows — that forms people’s spiritual beliefs. Peter Brown, in his biography of Augustine, noted the time Augustine spent correcting and guarding his flock in letters marked by “an inspired fussiness, and by a heroic lack of measure when it came to the care of endangered souls… [They] catch the barely suppressed sigh of a tired old age, characterized by constant quiet acts of self-sacrifice as Augustine lent his pen, again and again, to the defence of his Church, at the expense of intellectual projects that engaged him more deeply.” (pgs 466 and 492, 2000 edition)

22 Apr 2008

Well, I saw Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I hardly agree with its premise that academic freedom is the solution to persecution of those who believe in Intelligent Design. A better solution would be to tear down the evolutionist’s fort by abolishing state-funded education. Public schools — particularly universities — are largely sheltered from market forces and allow for the creation of intellectual fiefdoms. In other words, we’re free to disagree with Darwinists as long as we keep funding them. How about making these people get real jobs that aren’t based on government coercion? As a Christian, I would add that academic freedom means only so much if our wills are in bondage to sin.

Those caveats aside, one only need look at the absurdly negative reviews of Expelled to see that it’s touched a nerve (cf. universally positive reviews of this documentary). It’s the same nerve jangled when sodomy and abortion are discussed, a nerve inflamed by hatred for God and his church (aka. those inferior ‘religious nuts’).

It is well-made. It makes good points. You’ll have to see Expelled to hear some utterly absurd Darwinist theories about how life began. Also, David Berlinski– the guy had me laughing.

21 Apr 2008

More signs of the drift in evangelical youth. Where did people get the idea that there is virtue in living sinfully — indeed, flaunting it like Anna Karenina — as long as you’re honest about it? Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue. Authenticity must be the tribute that vice pays to vice.

19 Apr 2008

In his review of Ben Stein’s new movie Expelled, Time magazine critic Jeffrey Kluger tells us:

The man made famous by Ferris Bueller, however, quickly wades into waters far too deep for him. He makes all the usual mistakes nonscientists make whenever they try to take down evolution, asking, for example, how something as complex as a living cell could have possibly arisen whole from the earth’s primordial soup. The answer is it couldn’t–and it didn’t. Organic chemicals needed eons of stirring and slow cooking before they could produce compounds that could begin to lead to a living thing.

I am having a flashback to Columbo.

Murderer: “Well, apparently the killer did a, b, and c.”
Columbo: “Oh… well that explains it.”
Columbo walks toward door, pauses, and turns: “Oh, just one more thing, sir.”

OK, so the soup was stirred for a million years… What difference does that make?

By the way, the authoritative Mr. Kluger is a journalist and attorney who’s authored some stuff on science topics. I guess that gives him standing over and above the rest of us “nonscientists.” You know, it’s the old “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV.”

17 Apr 2008

[Church growth proponents] apply industrial and mechanical models to something that is fundamentally organic and mysterious, the Body of Christ. Modern ideas about church growth stem directly from business techniques… –Recovering Mother Kirk, p. 45.

The church does not need to be in a constant state of anxiety, thinking up new ways of reaching the lost. The right techniques of church growth are the means of grace that God established when our Lord commissioned the apostles to disciple the nations by Word and sacrament. These techniques are not flashy. In fact, they are rather low-key. But as the Bible reveals, God has a habit of saving his people through means that the world considers foolish. -ibid, p.50

These comments are spot-on. People decide that God’s ancient means for growing and nurturing His church aren’t good enough. And so, videos and skits replaced Bible reading. Uplifting praise music replaced the psalter (which has it share of minor keys). It replaced more Biblical hymns (well, sometimes). It replaced prayer. Meanwhile, therapy and moralism replaced sound preaching.

Eventually these fads will go the way of the altar call, itself a fad that replaced communion. A 19th-century innovation with Pelagian underpinnings, the altar call faded as churches found that successful people would rather skip the embarrassment of “going forward.” And the church growth movement is about nothing if not giving people what they want.

15 Apr 2008

Greetings evangelicals. I hope today finds you getting geared up for Earth Day. Only one week away! The excitement is palpable in the Pipe household.

The Pope is baptizing Muslims. Evangelicals are preparing speeches on The Gospel and Global Warming. Saving souls, one recycling bin at a time.

10 Apr 2008

[I]f we were to examine a worship service to see if the Holy Spirit were active in it, what would we be looking for? In the current rage for expressive and spontaneous worship, most people look for the Spirit’s presence in the style of song, the emotions and posture of worshipers, and whether people feel blessed upon leaving the service. But this reflects a radical misunderstanding of the work of the Holy Spirit, as if the Spirit is involved with only the experiential or emotional aspects of the Christian life. In fact, the bible teaches that the principal work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the truth of God. … [T]he purpose of the revelatory work of the Spirit is to yield proper understanding, not warm feelings. This means that a Spirit-filled worship service will be one that conforms to the revelation of the Bible.

Looking at the work of the Holy Spirit this way means that so-called traditional worship, as opposed to contemporary forms, has the greatest claim to being Spirit-filled. This statement will likely startle many readers because worship in the Calvinist tradition has not been known for its zeal and intimacy. Instead, the words cold, formal, and stodgy come to mind most often. … Yet this impression reveals how much contemporary Protestant thinking equates the work of the Spirit with emotions, not with understanding and believing the Bible. It also shows how much contemporary Protestant thought has separated the work of the Spirit from the teaching of God’s Word. -D.G. Hart, from Recovering Mother Kirk, “Spirit-Filled Worship”

05 Apr 2008

To paraphrase Tim Bayly, have we all gone mad? What’s up with this whole green movement? Mercy.

“Eco-friendly” is the latest triviality engaging the world. A Google news search on “environment” yields 182,000 hits. “Green” yields over 200,000 (granted, a few of these aren’t about the environment, but most are). By comparison, “Jesus” yields 29,000 hits.

Yes, there’s always More We Can Do to save the planet. Another light bulb to buy, another letter-writing campaign, another statement to sign, another politician to elect (after all, the green tree has red roots).

I’m all for stewardship, but enough with the idiot hopes and idiot despair. It makes me want to go out and buy some styrofoam.

04 Apr 2008

And they will say to you, Look, there! or Look, here! Do not go out or follow them. -Luke 17:23

You know, occasionally a blog comes along bringing satire that is almost inspiring. A friend sent this along. Don’t miss the conversion stories to the right.

01 Apr 2008

A Christian is not someone who has no sin or feels no sin; he is someone to whom, because of his faith in Christ, God does not impute [count] his sin. -Martin Luther, Galatians