Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 at 9:55 PM

Are babies worth less than dogs?

I bet I've read something like this somewhere because I highly doubt that I came up with it myself, but as I was watching the news yesterday while waiting for my food at a restaurant, I noticed that Michael Vick is being accused of dogfighting.

One line caught my eye, that his supposed coleader in the dogfighting was pleading guilty to his charges concerning his involvement in dogfighting and (according to a CNN article):
could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, fined $250,000 and put on three years supervised release.
So let me get this straight. This person has participated in the deliberate harm of animals and gets sentenced to jail, but a woman who murders an unborn baby, who according to modern science, can think, feel, laugh, cry, suck his thumb, pee, and all sorts of other functions that separate people from animals, can get off free because it's her right to choose.

Fabulous. Simply fabulous. What a wonderful world we live in.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Book Review: Foundations of Grace

When I went to Resolved, both this past year and the one previous, my favorite preacher was Steve Lawson. He literally thundered from the pulpit, afraid of pulling no punches and repeatedly driving home solid biblical truths that convicted and renewed the soul.

I expected nothing else from Steve Lawson's book Foundations of Grace, that is intended to be the first in a series of five books covering church history and the sovereignty of God. This one was advertised to expound upon the truth of the 5 points of Calvinism from every book of Scripture. His intent was to demonstrate conclusively that each and every author of Scripture had one emphasis in mind, the sovereignty of God.

Now, I'm all in favor of the sovereignty of God. I'm probably a bit more on the "sovereignty of God" side (if there are sides to this discussion) than many people are comfortable with. I find a biblical emphasis upon the greatness and mongergism of God in salvation to be crushing to the pride and encouraging to the soul. I'm a 5 point Calvinist, and as one of my friends said once, if there was a 6th point I'd be that too. (It seems like Piper calls himself a 7-pointer sometimes =p)

All that said, I must say that I found this book to be quite possibly the biggest letdown of a read in terms of expectation to actuality for me. To be painfully honest, it seemed that Steve Lawson was just confused. Many of the passages that Steve Lawson wanted to expound upon were maybe tangentally related to the topic at hand, though it may have been applicable if he was willing to do his exegetical work, but instead all he really did was quote someone and then assert Calvinism as true. He tries this even with the difficult passages, which is where all the meat of Calvinism holds together! Mr. Lawson, asserting a position as true does not convince your audience, even if the position itself is true! Saying I was a little disappointed with the book would be an understatement, and I am doubly apologetic as I recommended the book to a couple friends before I read it.

That said, there are a couple of bright spots in this book -

The forward by John Macarthur as well as the first introductory chapters by Steve Lawson before he actually dives into the text are stupendous. One understand clearly the importance and consequences of such a big topic, and one also realizes that this is a man who believes firmly in the sovereignty of God and the glory of God. It was quite a shame to read the rest of it after such a great introduction. If you can find a way to read MacArthur's intro without buying the book, I would highly suggest it. It's stupendous.

There are a couple places where the book brings out verses that I had previously not noticed. When this happens, I'm often pleasantly surprised. Joshua and 1 Samuel and 1 Kings in particular jumped out at me. Good stuff. I suppose if the intent of the book was just to list off verses that touch on the sovereignty of God, then the book did a good job of that, just too bad about mixing in verses that didn't, or explaining those that did poorly. Finally, the treatment of "kosmos" - usually translated world, in the Gospel of John was really informative and very complete. I really appreciated that part.

All in all, if you're looking for an introduction to the 5 points of Calvinism, one can do far better. Try Putting the Amazing Back into Grace, or the book that brought me all the way from "what's theology?" to "Reformed, and always reforming", Back to Basics. If you're looking for a reference guide on various verses that are Calvinistic, one gets closer but can still do much better.

Borrow the book from me if you want to read it. Save your $25 bucks and buy your wife some flowers or something.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007 at 12:28 PM

Lord's Day 35

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

Answer. That we in no wise [a] represent God by images, nor worship [b] him in any other way than he has commanded in his word.

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

Answer. God neither can, nor [c] 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 [d] or to serve God by them.

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

Answer. No: for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have his people [e] taught, not by dumb images, [f] but by the lively preaching of his word.

[a]: Deut. 4:15; Isa. 40:18; Rom. 1:23ff; Acts 17:29
[b]: 1Sam. 15:23; Deut. 12:30
[c]: Deut. 4:15,16; Isa. 46:5; Rom. 1:23
[d]: Ex. 23:24; Ex. 34:13,14; Numb. 33:52; Deut. 7:5
[e]: 2Tim. 3:16; 2Pet. 1:19
[f]: Jer. 10:1ff; Hab. 2:18,19

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007 at 11:27 PM

Book Review: On Being Presbyterian

Sean Michael Lucas wrote a book On Being Presbyterian to introduce Presbyterian beliefs to common Christians. He goes through distinctive beliefs, practices, and stories that Presbyterians hold. The book is well written and very readable, though the discussion of metanarratives and Presbyterian stories was a bit confusing at first, as I am unfamiliar with the ideas, though someone suggested to me that he was writing with a post-modern audience in mind. But apart from that it was informative and readable.

He began with introducing the distinctive beliefs of the PCA church, differing emphasis like the sovereignty of God (wahoo!), the emphasis of amazing grace in all of Christian life, the covenant (which actually is an important distinctive, though rarely talked about), the sacraments and what they mean (not just a remembrance!).

Then he transitioned to the distinctive practices how the beliefs fit in with them. Things like the worship structure, the necessity of piety and not just spirituality. The regulative principle (which honestly I still don't quite understand, but am working on), and other Presbyterian beliefs.

Finally, and this was the part I enjoyed the most, Sean Lucas talked about the distinctive stories of Presbyterianism, how it started with John Calvin and John Knox, then into the history of the PCUSA, the OPC, and other Presbyterian denominations, finally ending with PCA. I loved this part because it talked about skeletons as well as bright spots in the Presbyterian denominations. and it taught me a bit of history, history that I had not been familiar with.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be acquainted with Presbyterian beliefs, practices, and stories.

My recommendation, borrow it or buy it.

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