Drinking Deeply

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 8:23 PM

atheistic morality

So according to the BBC News, the Science Museum has canceled a talk by Dr. Watson (discoverer of the structure of DNA) because he has made statements that basically said black people were less intelligent than white people.

So here's a question to all atheists and evolutionists out there, to the people who believe we are merely bouncing chemical bags.

You condemn his statements as wrong, outrageous, and absurd, and I agree with you. But I come at it from a Christian perspective, where there is right and wrong, there is not only the "is" but there is also the "ought." Why do you condemn his statements? Wouldn't a more consistent perspective be, "maybe he's right, blacks just are lower down evolutionarily than white people, and eventually they'll die off. Or maybe eventually they'll out produce the whites, and we'll die off. Let's hear what he has to say."

What's so wrong with what he said?

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at 12:58 AM

Book Review: The Pleasures of God

I had the delight the past few weeks to read through John Piper's The Pleasures of God. I found a treasure. Piper works carefully through why the message of God being a happy God is so awesome (we share in His joy!). He talks about God and His joy in Himself, beholding His Son and His obedience. He talks about God and the pleasure he takes in creation, in sovereignly ruling over it (all of it), in the praise of His name/fame, in the sacrifice and crushing of His Son on the cross, in doing good to us (whoa!), in our faith, and in our obedience.

I found the book to be well written, both readable and packed with solid exegesis (often I find that there is a trade-off). It is books like this one that I find to be much more helpful as a devotional than those general devotional books (not that those are "bad" per se, but just they always seemed so superficial). It is when I read about how God delights in His creation, in creating it, forming it, putting it together, in letting it point us to Him, and even in delighting in that creation that we cannot and may never ever see, that's when my picture of God gets so much bigger and my heart is moved to worship. This book awakens the soul and lifts the gaze up to see a God who is eternally joyful, and one that delights to overflow in joy to His creatures. Simply wow.

I have no complaints with this book and would highly recommend it to everyone. Theologically, it sounds the same note that Piper has been sounding forever, so some people who have already read a lot of Piper may do well to read something else, lest they get sick of him, but I would highly recommend reading through it just once at least sometime.

There is one thing in particularly that I want to point out, and this is something I thought Piper did extremely well and other authors would do well to emulate.

Within the book, Piper, sometimes after giving the positive presentation (for example, in favor of the sovereignty of God in electing His people), he defends the positive presentation with a negative one (against the idea that God does not irresistibly draw us but rather only makes us able to choose and leaves it "up to us"). This was great. I have read a number of books that are focused around (mostly) a negative presentation, saying that some view of Christianity was wrong, and while the positive presentation was there, it seemed secondary. Piper makes clear that the positive presentation was the focus (the negative was often left to the footnotes, which on one occasion, spanned 2.5 printed pages). With this it was possible to (more clearly) see just how the glory of God was at stake. Yes, trinitarian heresies are heresy, but they are so because they strike at the very joy of the eternal God and the center of the Gospel. Yes, in the same way, open theism, a rejection of substitutionary atonement, and even arminianism1 deface the glory of God. And it's because the very joy and nature of God are at stake that those errors are so dangerous.

So all in all, this was an excellent book, one that I would recommend for everyone. With this book, I've gained a newfound appreciation and anticipation of the verse, "come enter the joy of your master."

1 - Piper does say, and I agree, that Arminianism isn't a heresy, but just horribly inconsistent. One example is when it pleads with God to "soften their hearts" or "bring someone into their lives" (but doesn't that violate their will too? How much violating is ok?). But praise God for those inconsistencies. I'd much rather have an inconsistent Arminian than a consistent one, who so firmly believed that God would not violate anyones will that he'd refuse to pray at all.

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Monday, October 15, 2007 at 11:41 PM

Misunderstood

If the antecedent love of the Father is lost, then we might mistakenly believe that God’s love for us is contingent upon our human efforts. This is not merely the mistake of ancient Pelagianism, which reduced the gospel to mere moralism, but it is also the danger of evangelical Christians who, in practice, live as if God’s love for them ebbs and flows according to their actions. So when we have our quiet times for the day, or when we have given a tithe, we are confident of God’s love toward us. But when our days become crowded and personal devotions end up neglected, we start to avoid God, sensing that we are under his wrath and anger. We imagine that God is waiting for us to get ourselves together before we again enter his presence. Such thinking betrays our failure to grasp the security of our union and the depth of God’s love and consequently disrupts our communion with him.

Kelly Kapic in the introduction to Communion with the Triune God

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Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 12:41 AM

Some thoughts from the DG regional conference

I spent the last two days with a group of brothers (and sisters) in Christ in Sacramento, at Desiring God's regional conference, where John Piper gave 3 talks focused around the Pleasures of God.

That rocked. I had the blessings of reading his book, The Pleasures of God, the past few weeks, so I had a good idea of what he was saying and could follow along well. Which was great, because I always thought it was so hard to watch Piper and take notes at the same time. He talks so much, so fast, and he has these gestures and ways that he gets passionate that make you want to watch him.

If you want the sermons, I believe they're online on the Desiring God blog.

The conference was great, and I would highly recommend listening to the audio, or probably better, downloading his original pleasures of God series (12 talks instead of 3), or just as good, read the book. The whole idea of God as a God who actually has pleasure, joy, and delights in Himself, in His creation, in His Son, in His Sovereignty, in slaughtering His Son, and in my acts of faith and obedience was mind boggling and eye opening. But this post isn't actually about their conference, but about a couple points that were ... inspired? related? instantiated by? the conference.

1. I am continually amazed at how counterintuitive DG runs their ministry. I was about to say "business" but then I realize it's completely opposite of what a business is. The registration for a conference by John Piper, wherein he would give three sermons was $30/person. What in the world? Isn't that crazy? They sold books for $5 a piece again. Well, that's what I hear because all I saw when I got there was empty tables with signs that said "$5 all books" on them. You'd think they had tapped out their resources with their last conference as well as the huge online sale. And they gave us a bag which contained mp3s, dvds, and wav cds of Piper sermons, as well as some books and small evangelistic booklets. What did they say? "We want you to be blessed, but we also want you to pass them on, so that others might be as well." My goodness, you'd think they had some really good news to share or something, they're giving this stuff away! And their audio (and it looks like video) is all available online free! Wow and wow. There's a ministry that is convinced that it's got something great and is willing to go in the red to tell the world. Praise the Lord

2. I would love to have church retreats where the theme isn't "refresh" or "revive" or "renew," or "all in" or all those other variants of the desire to get people to love God (which I am whole-heartedly for), but rather is focused on God. I'm convinced, by my personal study, by Scripture testimony, by personal experience, that the best and greatest way to get people to treasure God is to let them see Him as He is. Let's talk about the Trinity, or the Atonement, or God's sovereignty, or the attributes of God or any other item in the inexhaustible depths of theology and let's move the vision off of "I'm so hungry, I'm so thirsty, I'm so needy." Yeah, we're needy, we're hungry, we're thirsty, so let's come to the fountain of life, see how rich and deep and unending it is and then we can drink, and we will never be thirsty again. I'm not saying that those "revivals" don't have a place, or we shouldn't ever have a retreat topic that doesn't include the name "God" or God's works in its title, but just that for all the depths of who God is, it seems we (as a body of Christ) have mined only the surface, contenting ourselves with what gets us through each day. How can I glorify God at work? How can I glorify God at school? Yeah, let's answer those questions, but let's answer them by answering another question, "Who is God, and why is He so deserving, demanding, of my affections and worship?"

That's all, goodnight

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Saturday, October 06, 2007 at 11:37 PM

True Israel

An interesting thought crossed my mind the other day, and it requires some set up.

One major premise of dispensationalist theology is that the promises made by God are to Israel and Israel only. The church (NT) is thus a "parenthesis" between the reign of Israel. A general description and links to sources is available here.

So with that setup, I'd like to go after that one assumption, that God's promises are to Israel and Israel only. Now, this point doesn't establish that the church is the new Israel, but it certainly does demonstrate that such a view certainly wouldn't be inconsistent with God and His revelation.

In Matthew 3, John the Baptist is baptizing people in the wilderness and he sees the Pharisees and has these loving and kind words to say to them -
9And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees.
What does this mean regarding dispensationalism?

Simply that those promises that were made to Israel could (and I would argue are) be fulfilled by a body of Gentiles, even though they are not ethnically Israel, because they would be children for Abraham raised not out of stones, but out of the pagan nations. They are grafted in (Romans 11:17-24), children of Abraham by faith (Galatians 3:7)

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Friday, October 05, 2007 at 9:56 AM

(defining) "existence" is futile

This past week I've been mulling about what a definition of "existence" is. The things I wanted to affirm as existing would be things like "I", "trees" (the concept), "2" (the number) and I was faced with a rather perplexing problem. I couldn't restrict existence to simply those things which are observable by the senses, as otherwise God would not exist, the number 2 wouldn't exist, and even the concept "existence" wouldn't exist!

So then I decided, what if I defined "exist" simply as the idea? Namely, something could exist if we could come up with a coherent idea of it. Square triangles wouldn't exist, and the integer between 1 and 2 wouldn't exist, but pretty much everything else would "exist." Unicorns would exist, God would exist (false gods would not, being incoherent).

And that fell apart when someone remarked "well, actually, every thing does exist." And he was right, my label had to be applied to each and every thing. But then it had no meaning. If a tree existed and a toy existed and everything existed, what did my label mean?

And I was stuck.

But then someone said, "well, what are people asking when they ask "does God exist?" " (because the existence of God is where everything has to be based in)

And the answer was, "is it just a conception in your head? or does He actively do things, like create the world, save people? Is he self-consistent? Or filled with a mess of contradictions like other gods are? Is he knowable? Even if he does exist, what does that have to do with me?"

And I realized that that was the key. Trying to get someone who asks "does God exist" to define "existence" is actually quite difficult, almost a red herring. But we certainly are equipped to answer those questions posed above. And we should.

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