Monday, July 23, 2012

The Tolerance and Diversity Crowd, B.C. 2000

A wise man once said that "There is nothing new under the sun" and the older I get and the more acquainted with history I become the richer those words seem. In our day regarding sexual ethics the constant refrain is one of "Who are you to judge?" well it was no different in the day of Abraham and Lot, and a city sharing these same sentiments has become to proverbial city of destruction:

"But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them." Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him,  and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.  

Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof."  But they said, "Stand back!" And they said, "This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them." Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down." (Gen 19:4-9)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Paedocommunion Debate Between Rob Rayburn and Ken Gentry Brief Review

I recently listened to the Paedocommunion debate hosted at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary between Rob Rayburn and Ken Gentry and figured I would throw out my thoughts on the matter. Firstly, to be upfront I am biased, I have been a supporter of paedocommunion for years now and am able to now practice it with my family in the CREC church we are members of. That being said I tried to be as sympathetic to the con side (Gentry) as I could but in the end it seemed to me that Rayburn had the unquestionably better argument.

Gentry's entire contra argument rested on 1 Cor 11 and the supposed requirements for worthy partaking of the table, and how kids can't do them and are therefore excluded from partaking even though they have been baptized. Rayburn explained that 1 Cor 11 applies to kids, just as much as "He who doesn't work doesn't eat." applies, or even the "Repent, and be baptized" passages. Further Rayburn pointed out the inclusion of children in the covenant meals of the OT, which is particularly clear with the Passover (Ex 12) the kids obviously ate this, to say otherwise is to choose to not see what is clear.

Furthermore, Rayburn pointed out that nowhere in scripture do we see children forbidden access to the covenant meals, they are always welcome. Nowhere do we see a right of passage demanded of children in the Bible where they come into a fuller expression of the covenant, it simply isn't there, it is foreign to the idea of covenant inclusion of children.

Gentry made some very statements and raised a number of questions that I found to be mildly shocking, he asked why give the kids the sacrament when they don't even understand it? Rayburn replied to this Baptistic sentiment by pointing out that it frankly infringes on the wisdom of God who chose to give kids the sign of circumcision, baptism, and Christ's taking up of children and blessing them even though they had no idea what He was doing for them. The point is that their understanding is irrelevant.

Another comment from Gentry that caused me to recoil was his question that given Rayburn's support of paedocommunion would he be comfortable giving the table to the mentally retarded, the senile, or the comatose. Rayburn replied that he would have no problem doing any of those. This question from Gentry betrays a very odd understanding that we need to do something to earn the table and obviously kids, the retarded, and senile can't do those things and are therefore excluded.

There were also silly attempts to point out the inconsistency of PC practice on the part of Gentry, for example, and I have heard it repeated by others trying to argue against PC, that PC advocates don't really practice PC, since they give the elements to weaned children and not infants. Again, the Bible is not silent here, and if the PC opponents would take the time to look at the matter objectively they would see references in the OT regarding the meals saying "each according to his eating."

By way of summary, Rayburn did a fine job explaining the doctrine and refuting the arguments presented by Gentry opposing paedocommunion. In the end all that the opponents of PC have is one text that they try to absolutize, just like the Baptists do with the descriptive texts regarding baptisms in Acts. Rayburn made the point that if we look at this matter without being entangled with trying to defend what has become the Reformed tradition we will see that PC is a thoroughly Biblical expression of the covenant inclusion of children.

Further, Rayburn compared the reluctance to embrace PC with the reluctance of many in the Reformed world to embrace weekly communion simply out of adherence to a tradition handed down from Geneva where Calvin could only get quarterly communion from the city. I think Rayburn is absolutely right, while I love our confessions and tradition it is not the Bible, we are to be always reforming. That's not just a slogan for a coffee mug.

By way of concluding, on a personal note I came to hold to PC simply by reading the PCA and OPC reports on the matter. The pro-PC side clearly had the better arguments, and I haven't seen anything to the contrary yet. It continues to disappoint me to read shabby arguments against PC from fellow Presbyterians, for example people keep touting Brian Schwertly's awful material on the matter, and even in the most recent PCA General Assembly there is a vocal group very upset that PC is gaining more and more ground in the Presbyterian world though its practice is still forbidden in the PCA.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Living in Lee Greenwood's Amerika

One of my weekly activities involves spending a morning over coffee with a friend for a book based discussion on theology and politics. Today, the day after Independence Day was celebrated, he showed me a copy of a letter, or rather an extortionist threat, sent to him from the local Building Code Enforcement Commissar. Apparently, my friend who has an investment property had let his grass get a touch too long for the liking of these busy-bodies and has consequently incurred their wrath.

Like all government enactments spuriously demanding money from the mundane the threat of death is implied if the mundane should resist the state. If you don't believe this lets walk through this real quick. You get a seatbelt ticket, in your outrage you decide not to pay, at that point they will probably suspend your right to drive, as you continue to exercise your right to drive you are pulled over for driving without a license and an armed man in a government issued costume begins to tell you that you're under arrest, however you don't want to be arrested and don't plan on being put in a cage...I'll let the reader fill in the blank.

The letter to my friend is no different and one can see how the code enforcement crew is ready to do what it takes to get my friends money and force him to do what they want. It ominously reads:

"FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS NOTICE WILL RESULT IN THE CITY OF GREENVILLE TAKING ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS, AS APPROPRIATE: Any violation not corrected within the time frame given will be charged a penalty of $10 per day for the next 30 days and $25 per day thereafter until the violations are corrected and re-inspected. A fee of $50 for each re-inspection will be charged when corrections have not been completed...In addition the City may take other actions to include demolishing structure(s), removing vehicles, cleaning property, placing a lien against the property for the cost of the City's actions, Summons, Warrants, and any other legal actions as necessary."

Apparently the local zoning code enforcement officers have a couple of things in common with angry internet debaters, they both have a deep affection for the use of "Caps lock" and they both are bullies. The primary difference here is that the zoning code commissar can hurt you, the jerk on the internet can not. As I said earlier, implicit in all of this frothing at the mouth and arrogant patronizing instruction is the threat of lethal violence, the Swat Team is standing by. We don't need to look to Washington, Obama and Pelosi, or Bush as the faces who are destroying this country and robbing the average man of his freedom, we need look no further than Greenville Building Code Administrator Steven A. Landrith.

As if the fact that we have no property rights in this country weren't enough another gem in this feculent extortion letter is the source of these laws, which reads:

"A recent inspection of your property determined that it is in violation of the International Property Maintenance Code, which was adopted in 2005 by the City of Greenville." (bold emphasis theirs)

So it would seem that now in Lee Greenwood's Amerika people are having their property rights eviscerated on the basis of International Law.

It seems to me that every time local governments have budget shortfalls in typical Mafioso fashion they place before the citizenry two unsavory choices, stuff like, "Either we start a new car tax or we are going to have to get rid of Band, Gym, and Art, at the schools." or crazy threats like, "Look we can do one of two things, raise property taxes or turn off the street lights." I would like to propose in contrast to these false alternatives that next time there is a budget shortfall (ie: the next time someone looks at the financial books) we do away with the real blight on our cities, the Building Code Enforcers, and the Zoning commissars, effectively un-employing the Steven A. Landriths of the world and the whole cloud of nebulous chair moisteners that surround them.

That seems far more sensible to me, and it would be a step towards rolling back the totalitarianism that now besets us. Sing it with me now:

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Taking Dominion Part 1, Introduction and Chicken Hatching

"And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" (Gen 1:28)

From creation God has given man a mandate to subdue the earth, or as I like to say to "Edenize" the world. Adam's first job was to be a gardener and to expand God's garden kingdom through procreation and subduing the world around him. We know that the first Adam failed to fully fulfill this mandate as he failed to have dominion over the serpent. However, this dominion mandate is repeated throughout all of the covenants of the bible and has never been repealed only expanded culminating in Christ's great commission (Matt 28:18-20).

Now a second Adam has come, and during His garden trial (John 18:1) He was victorious and He emerged from the tomb as the new Gardener (John 20:15). Thus we see all of history ending with the original plan laid out at the beginning being fulfilled as the New Jerusalem garden city comes down out of heaven.

With that said there is satisfaction gleaned from exercising dominion over our spheres however great or small they may be, so essentially this is a biblical rationale for being thrilled about gardening, chicken rearing, beer making, or bee keeping etc.

So I thought this being the first post in what will undoubtedly be a series to start at the beginning, the egg. We recently found some rare dark egg laying chickens (Black Copper Marans) with pedigree right here in SC, and upon purchasing a number of the chicks the guy threw in 4 eggs that were blue Americauna eggs with Maran rooster fathers. I decided to try my hand at hatching them and set about making an incubator.
The inside of the incubator post-hatch

I purchased a styrofoam cooler from Wal-Mart for $2, a lamp kit and a thermometer/hydrometer for $7 each, from a little electronics store I bought a computer fan for $7, I bought a hot water heater temperature regulator for $10 at Lowes and from a thrift store I bought a picture frame for the glass for $1. So all in all this can be done for under $40, and you will have a hard time finding an incubator this nice for that price. You can find a bunch of different plans on the Backyard chicken page if interested.

The temperature regulator will click the power on and off based upon the temperature in the incubator and it is attached to the lamp's power cord. I then hooked up an old power cord from a modem we no longer use to the cpu fan's wires giving the fan power, the fan will keep the humidity  and temperature even throughout the incubator. I then lined the walls where the light would be with foil and placed the fan, lamp and temperature regulator. Given that the incubator is styrofoam this was really easy and few tools were required.

The temperature for these little guys ideally should be in the 99-100 range and the humidity around 60% and when they start "peeping" (poking out of the eggs) you want the humidity really high like 90% to keep the egg membranes from drying out once exposed. The humidity set up I made was a little dish with rocks and a reservoir under the light which can be filled when turning the eggs (2-3 times a day).

At any rate these little guys take about 21 days to develop and hatch, of the 4 eggs we got we had a 100% hatch rate. Unfortunately, one of the chicks did die after hatching and in hindsight I think we could have pulled him out of the incubator sooner I don't think he could handle the humidity. All in all it was a satisfying experience and we are doing it again now with some eggs we ordered from someone on Ebay.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Bloomberg, Soda Pop, Raw Milk and Romans 13

Only in New York would government officials create such Nanny state laws such as forbidding restaurants from using table salt, trans fats, and now movie theaters and others from selling soda cups exceeding the size of 16 ounces. Or is it only in New York? Is the mayor Bloomberg and his invasive regulatory shenanigans all that different from other laws in this country, such as seat-belt "click it or ticket" laws?

One issue that is near and dear to my own heart, or palate is my love of raw cows milk. There is nothing more wholesome than a nice thick glass of milk the way God made it to go with a good meal. Yet, because of the Bloombergs of the world raw milk is illegal to sell in nearly every State in the land of the free. People are able to get around it through udder shares and other gimicks to purchase the raw milk from a farm.  Many farms and stores have been raided in the dead of night protecting our fair land from the scourge of Raw Cows milk, and in a clear war on drugs style fashion the milk is confiscated as contraband.

Anyone with even just one freedom loving bone in their body will see this as insane, swat teams, raiding dairy farmers, seriously? It seems to out Stalin, well, Stalin.

As Christians the issue of obedience to the state often comes up surrounding these sorts of issues. I have actually heard it expressed by some that if the government has banned a substance (as long as it isn't the Bible or Jack Chick tracts) it is our duty to obey. What's more, these same Christians will argue it is a sin to partake in banned substance due to the ban and Romans 13's call to obedience. So apparently if the tyrant Bloomberg has his way, it will be a sin to imbibe a soda that is labelled 16 oz but, wink, wink, nudge nudge it is really a 20 oz!

This mindset is frustrating to no end, it in effect makes the state god over everything but this little corner where we go Church and have Bible studies etc. Christ is Lord of all of life, not just some upperstory escape to heaven, as Kuyper put it there is not a square inch in this world that the risen Christ does not look upon and declare, "Mine!"

We forget that, and we divide up the kingdom of Christ and give the world to blighters like Bloomberg. Bloomberg has no right to call raw cows milk evil and ban it, God called it "good" (Gen 1:24-25). The Christian is free then to cheerfully drink a tall glass of raw cow's milk with a clear conscience, however obtained, whether it be a man with a trench coat in an alley or a friend who, "knows a guy". Likewise with the soda, or outlawed booze in the 1920's. Christians do not need to call Caesar lord, not over milk, not over soda, or salt or any other food.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Believer, Your Children are the Lord's, Raise Them as Such

"And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your whorings so small a matter that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them?" (Ezekiel 16:21-22)

One of the most beautiful truths in scripture is the reality that the children of God's covenant people are in fact God's children. This is the basis of the multiple promises in scripture which the Lord makes about faithfulness to generations not yet in existence, even a thousand generations. Peter the apostle at Pentecost declared that the new covenant like all of God's covenants was for you and your children and all who are far off. In short, the children of believing parents are not is some sort of limbo, or in an ambiguous covenant position which can be likened to the Saturday Night Live's character "Pat" where no one was ever sure what to make of him/her. Rather than having an androgynous covenant status, the children of believer's are declared to be God's.

This Divine ownership of our children obviously has sacramental implications, but leaving that aside the passage I referenced above has to do with an unfaithful Israel failing to bring their children up in the Lord. At the time of Ezekiel's prophetic ministry judgement was falling on Judah for their unfaithfulness to God. Particularly, in chapter 16 God highlights their pagan parenting as one of the charges against the people meriting judgement. Judah and Israel were taking children who belonged to God by virtue of the covenant and raising them to be idolators, even to the point possibly of sacrificing them to pagan gods.

We can learn from this that raising our children up in the context of faithfulness is one of the greatest blessings we can bestow upon them as well as the form of obedience all Christian parents are called, this is because the children we have are essentially talents God has given us on loan to be good stewards of. This means their education must be distinctively Christian as well as their speech, manners, dress, play and entertainment, Christianity is for the whole man and all of life.

How different parents apply attempting to faithfully raise their children in these areas will differ, but the point should be clear that we all should be seeking to apply the gospel every area of our children's lives. That is after all what is means to say "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". That is not just a verse worthy of an aesthetically pleasing doormat or wall hanging, rather it is a call to multi-generational covenant faithfulness, brothers and sisters may we labor for such a legacy lest Ezekiel's outcryings against unfaithful Judah equally fall upon us.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mysteries Revealed by The Spirit and Concealed by Men With a Side Note on Table Manners

"When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (Eph 3:4-6)

The Apostle Paul in his epistles strives to make clear what the new covenant means for the people of God, he particularly deals with the new covenant relationship of the Jews with the Gentiles. In his epistle to the Ephesians he speaks of a mystery that has only after the coming of Christ been clearly revealed, and he informs us that this mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow-citizens of Israel (Eph 2:19) and are no longer aliens and strangers to the covenants and promises belonging to the people of God (Eph 2:12).

When we come to chapter 3 in Ephesians the Spirit continues to highlight this theme saying that this recently revealed mystery, that the Gentiles and Jews are "members of the same body", is based upon the fact that the promises of God to Jew and Gentile alike all share one Mediator, Jesus Christ. Or, stated bluntly, God in Christ did not choose to redeem Jews only, but men from every tribe tongue and nation. Also, God in Christ is not satisfied with ruling over a strip of land abutting the Mediteranean sea and the Jordan river, He came to rule the whole world (Eph 1:22).

There are no two distinct and separate covenant peoples, because there is One Savior, one body, one baptism, and one Spirit. In fact the first 5 verses in Eph chapter 4 seem to really be rebuking the desire on the part of some to divide the people of God, given the previous content in Ephesians regarding the inclusion of Gentiles the threat to unity probably came from those desiring to emphasize a Jewish particularism and push the Gentiles into the outer courts of the church. You see, Dispensationalist Zionism and the two people of God doctrinal error are nothing new, Paul had to rebuke it many a time. The pernicious nature of this error came to the point of the Spirit through Paul confronting another Apostle sinning by adopting the two people of God view and practicing its implications at the dinner table (Gal 2).

The marriage supper of the lamb will not have a two tiered banquet table, there will not be some kiddie table off to the side with Mac N Cheese and a cheap Wal-Mart box of wine for the Gentiles to enjoy while the Jews get the best seats, choice cuts of Kobe beef and chalices of new wine filled to the brim being constantly replenished by little cherubs fluttering about (yes, I mean the little baby ones). As silly as that description may appear it really seems to be the vision of unity between Jew and Gentiles many Dispensationalists gravitate toward. Is this biblical? Not in the least bit, rather, all are one in Christ, Pentecost should teach us this, as well as Paul's Spirit filled lesson in table manners.