Tuesday, November 29, 2005

NBB Theology: God - Part V

Rumor has it I was working on a theology series. I left off talking about God's love. Today I'd like to touch on one additional attribute of God before I get to the last one, which'll be justice/holiness. This post is on truth.

As I first noted way back here, one of God's attributes is truth. God is, in addition to love, mercy, grace and benevolence, truth. God not only is truth, He is the source of all truth and the one true God. That's a lot of truth.

This is also one of my favorite attributes of God. I think truth is the most important thing we should seek. If a worldview is false, there is no benefit to living one's life by it. If it is true, though, there is great risk in living one's life another way. If, for instance, Islam is true, then I want to know. If there is no God, I want to know. If Jesus is the Christ and the only way to God, I want to know. This is especially true when dealing with the afterlife. Sometimes believing a lie is easier, and in many cases more appealing: the truth can be difficult. But the truth is always better.

But I digress. Assuming, as I have for the purposes of this series, that the Bible is true (and it should be obvious I have found it to be so considering my faith), then God is true. This is another one of the things we learn about Him in scripture. He is the one true God. He reveals Himself truthfully too. Both the OT and NT speak to this.

Whatever He promises, He delivers; He never lies. His promises never fail. (The caveat is that absolute promises are always kept. There are some conditional promises where, such as in the case of Jonah and Ninevah, God's threat was withdrawn when the city repented.)

God is true, and what He tells us is trustworthy, even when we're not. What is revealed in scripture, then, having come from God, is also trustworthy. What scripture tells us about God covers at least one more attribute, His justice. To that we'll turn next.

God bless!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Tag, I'm it!

Okay, Catez tagged me for another meme. Since I still feel guilty about my lack of posting last week, I take this as an opportunity to make up for things with a flurry of posts today! So, sans further ado, the seven sevens (and no, it's not a Seagram's-related drink.)


  • Seven things to do before I die:


    1. Learn Russian

    2. Learn a new instrument (haven't decided between guitar, bass, or piano)

    3. Travel to Ireland, Russia, Australia and New Zealand (LotR, Narnia films make that place look gorgeous, and hey, Catez lives there so it's gotta be cool, right?)

    4. Be a (winning) contestant on The Amazing Race

    5. Get a PhD or JD degree (I'm either a big fan of school, or a glutton for punishment)

    6. Have another six or seven decades' worth of birthdays

    7. Be the tool used by God to bring people to Him


  • Seven things I cannot do


    1. Speak Russian

    2. Truthfully claim to have been to Ireland, Russia, Australia or New Zealand

    3. Play guitar, piano or bass

    4. Hit a golf ball straight - unless I'm playing a dogleg that plays to my slice

    5. Figure out Lost

    6. Figure out why I needed five calculus classes for my C-Sci degree when I haven't used anything aside from algebra and boolean logic

    7. Avoid participating in blog memes when tagged


  • Seven things that attract me to [my spouse or significant other or best friend]


    1. Her sense of humor

    2. Her smile

    3. Her compassion

    4. Her creativity

    5. Her passion

    6. Her faith

    7. [Item deleted due to the possibility children may be reading this site]


  • Seven things I say most often


    1. "Actually..." (my five year old now says this too much too...guess they really do listen when we speak)

    2. [When watching movies] "That so wouldn't/couldn't really ever happen" (especially useful for scientifically incoherent films like Twister or The Day After Tomorrow)

    3. "Whatever"

    4. "Riiiiiight"

    5. "Nice!"

    6. "Huh. Who'da figured?"

    7. "I love you sweetheart" (to wife and daughters, throughout the day)


  • Seven books (or series) I love


    1. The Bible

    2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien

    3. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

    4. The Brothers Karamazov, but Fyodor Dostoevsky

    5. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

    6. Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville

    7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    8. (Only 7 for this category? Yikes!)

  • Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time)


    1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy

    2. Casablanca

    3. The Princess Bride

    4. Schindler's List

    5. Star Wars, especially Empire (I'm a child of the 80's - sue me. And yes, I realize the writing is pure dreck, and the acting is subpar too often. Consider this the junk food on the list.)

    6. Twelve Angry Men

    7. White Christmas (since we're in the season...Danny Kaye is a highly underrated talent.)


  • Seven people I want to join in, too


    1. Anyone who wants to

    2. Anyone who is looking to fill space on his or her blog

    3. Anyone who is bored

    4. Anyone who hasn't done this meme yet

    5. Anyone who likes the number 7

    6. Anyone who hasn't posted a new blog entry in over a week

    7. Anyone who hasn't linked to, or commented on, this blog in the past week




There! All finished. Now, should I wait to post this until 7:07? Nah...have at it.

God bless!

Happy, um, Thanksgiving + a Few Days...

I know, I know. Just because Thursday was a holiday, and Friday was the day after a holiday, and the weekend was, well, the weekend, that's no excuse for me to slack off from blogging. Fortunately, I have other excuses!

But anyway...this Thursday past was, as you know, Thanksgiving. This is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because of the food (see more, below.) This is one of my favorite holidays because of the public emphasis on gratitude. I regret that it often takes this special day to call attention to the appropriateness of gratitude, especially in a country as blessed as the U.S. Even our "down years" are the envy of many other nations. Yet we often take it for granted. I'm thankful Thanksgiving helps remedy that, if only for a day. (Oh, and don't get me started on how many people today are thankful - at least nominally - but aren't really thanking anyone in particular. Such as the One from whom all blessings flow.)

Be that as it may (in other words, sermon mode is now off - we PKs and our tendency to go on...) I am grateful for many things. Hopefully I express that gratitude frequently, but at least on this occassion I want to do so publicly.

-I'm grateful for a family that is diverse enough to include Phillipino, Polish and traditional American food in the Thanksgiving meals. (My wife's aunt, being from the Phillipines makes the most wonderful lunch spread - all sans turkey.)

-I'm grateful for a country that guarantees freedoms to speak and disagree, to worship as I please, and to be actively involved in making things better for my family and for others.

-I'm grateful for the opportunity to interact with other bloggers through this medium. And I'm grateful for all of you, who read this blog and discuss things in a spirit of fun, friendliness and civility.

-I'm grateful for friends galore, and all the blessings we share throughout the year.

-I'm grateful for softball and golf, which allow me to take out my latent aggression on white spheres.

-I'm grateful for a wife and daughters whom I love, and who love me in return.

-I'm grateful for a God who loved me so much that He gave all He had, His own Son, so that I could spend eternity with Him; who wanted me to know Him, and so left His word for me to read, and His Spirit for me to hear; who wanted me to love, and so taught me by example; who wanted me to praise Him, and so declared His magnificence in His creation. All this despite the fact that I've never done anything worthy of Him.

All thanks and praise to God from whom all blessings flow!

God bless!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 11/23 Edition

Happy Anniversary to my folks! (Okay, they don't read the blog, but I have to brag 'em up.) Married 37 years today:)
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Welcome home Dadmanly! Thanks for your service in the military, and God bless your readjustment to civilian life.
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So for what (and to whom) are you thankful this year? Post comments here, and on your own blog. Then let Cross Blogging know for this week's symposium.
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Christian Carnival is up at Thought Renewal. The theme is county fair, which goes over well with this midwestern boy. I didn't have time to get anything in this week (not sure if that means average quality is up or not) but there's much to recommend in the Christian arm of the 'sphere.
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C.S. Lewis, rock star? I guess it kinda makes sense from this perspective...I just don't see him saying "hello Cleveland! Are you ready to exegete?" (and not just because he's gone home to his savior.)
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I know it's winterish (though I'm soon to spend a few days in L.A., where it won't be as winterish as here) but I'm always up for a baseball-related item. Are you fast enough to hit a baseball?
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Christian arts should be promoted. God is a God of beauty, and Christians should give no quarter in the culture when it comes to the arts. Check out their new idea in connecting Christian artists. (Way to go Natalie and Wayne.)
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The 2005 Web Log Awards are taking nominations for just a few more days. Yet another opportunity to nominate Northern 'burbs blog your favorite blogs. But hurry...deadline is 11/26. (Don't forget about the Evangelical Underground's Evangelical Blog Awards either.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 11/16 Edition

Christian Carnival is up at Jordan's View. Early favorites include:

  • This post by Lyn Perry touches on the topic of Hell, promoting (if I read it correctly) an annihiliationist understanding. Appropriate topic as I'm working on a theology of salvation series, and I'll be posting on my view (hint: not the same as Lyn's) sometime soon.

  • Ed talks about something I used to find annoying - the plethora of people intentionally avoiding the use of the phrase "merry Christmas" in public. I've recently realized that if I say "merry Christmas" in response to "happy holidays!" nobody seems really offended, and 10 out of 10 people (in my experience) will return the merry Christmas greeting.

  • Alex Jordan also touches on Hell, in a post discussing how both Heaven and Hell are reflected in this world.


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Nominations for the 2005 Evangelical Blog Awards are open at Evangelical Underground. Check out the categories, and nominate Northern 'burbs blog your favorite blog for whatever categories you find appropriate.
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Eric also posts this on inspiration and inerrancy, something I touched on recently.
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The Red Green Show is hilarious - but apparently soon to be no more. It will be missed - especially that episode where they talked about duct tape...you know, that one?
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Cool...a MOB aggregator Apparently I need to write more linkable posts, though, since the Rollyo search doesn't include me in the top 25 MOB blogs. (Note to self: start posting controversial topics on politics and sex.)
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Speaking of the MOB, there's a discussion going round on city life vs. suburban life. Having lived in South Minneapolis for 15 years, in St. Paul for 3, the hick woods of Wisconsin for 2 and the remainder of my 35+ years in the suburbs/exurbs, I can (from experience) say I much prefer the suburbs or exurbs. I get more for my money (a conservative financial position) than I would in the city - both from a value perspective and a safety perspective. I even named my blog after the suburbs. But if people choose to live in the city, that's their issue, and I have no qualms with it. Keeps more space and quiet available for me.
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JollyBlogger adds to the salvation discussion. Excellent point about how salvation isn't simply to do with the eternal; there are very direct implications on earth which should drive us to additional humility. Even salvation isn't "all about us" - everything is "all about God." I hope to touch on this later in my series.
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For Alice, I found this to be amusing. Wonder if this comic would fly in theSan Fran schools?
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Tim Challie's got another giveaway. An outdoor (i.e. waterproof) Bible and another book are the prizes. Details and sign-up here:

November Giveaway

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And finally...I know you've all been wondering, so yes I must confess: I'm really from Middle Earth.
Rohirrim
Rohirrim


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla


Gotta love the horsemen.

God bless!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

NBB Theology: God - Part IV

I left off with a start on God's "moral" attributes: His goodness, mercy, grace, and benevolence. These aren't all of God's attributes, of course, as there are additional moral attributes (justice, holiness, love and truth) as well as non-moral attributes. Today I'll be moving along in the discussion to God's love.

The phrase "God is love" is almost a cliche, but it about the most perfectly accurate cliche around. God is not just loving, nor does He just love. He actually is love; His character defines what love really is (hint: not a fluffy emotion promoted by teen pop songs and susceptible to the whims that make divorce lawyers rich.)

Unlike many of the pagan gods, who are ambivalent about humanity, or the gods of ancient Rome and Greece, God is the God of love. His love is not choosy either, granted to some but withheld from others. God's love for the whole world is the initiation of the Gospel itself: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

There is a myth, though, that God is only shown as a God of love in the New Testament. As we saw before God is immutable, so the loving God of the NT is also the loving God of the OT. He loved the rebellious Israelites. God turned curses into blessings out of love. God's love was unique in the OT, in fact, in contrast to the gods worshipped by other nations - He loved His people to the point of patience instead of wrath.

The OT God of "wrath" is also the OT God of love. God is love, and I'm grateful for that. In the next post, we'll move on to another attribute. I haven't decided whether it'll be truth or something in the holiness/justice realm. Guess we'll find out together how I'm inspired.

Until then,

God bless!

Friday, November 11, 2005

NBB Theology: God - Part III

Last time I started talking about how God's attributes are described in the Bible - a prime source from which we draw our understanding of who He is. The attributes I covered were the so-called non-moral attributes: omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence and immutability. These attributes, or qualities of God are not directly moral in nature, but I don't want to lose sight of them. All of God's attributes come into play when we work through the salvation question, and we'll be touching on them all again.

Today I'd like to start covering some of the "moral" attributes of God: holiness, justice, goodness and truth. There is so much to say about each of these that I won't attempt to cover them all in one post. So, we'll start with God's goodness, and go from there.

God's goodness describes, in the words of Thiessen, "all the qualities that answer to the conception of an ideal personage." [1] This goodness of God covers His love, mercy, grace and benevolence. It also includes His other attributes of righteousness, holiness and truth. The perfect nature of this attribute is incredible, and a standard to which nobody but God could attain.

God's benevolence is His kindness and compassion, even to those who don't follow Him. God takes care, loving care, of us.

He also is gracious to those who don't deserve the benevolence and compassion He shows. In fact, His grace is what makes salvation possible by providing an (undeserved) atonement for sin. God's grace is provided not just to believers, though, but is shown to all people. Grace allows us salvation, but it also allows us time on earth and delayed judgement in the hopes that we'd return to Him from whom we've strayed. God's grace could take up a series of its own.

Grace is also related to mercy, though they aren't the same thing. Mercy is God's compassion on those in need. God's compassionate to us because He loves us. His mercy is for all: Jews, Gentiles and (as if that didn't cover everyone already) those who fear God - who hold Him in awe and reverence. This mercy, too, could take up multiple posts to merely scratch the surface of understanding.

God's love, though, which is tied to His grace and mercy (and everything else, including His justice) will be covered in the next post. Until then, may the grace, mercy and lovingkindess of God be showered upon you this weekend, that you may be blessed with the knowledge of truth and the favor of our Creator.

God bless!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

NBB Theology: God - Part II

Tuesday I left off talking about some of the things we learn about God’s essence from the scripture: He is alive, eternal and immense. God is a spirit and a person. These are rather obvious traits for God. Any being without them is hardly a God to be worshipped or served. A dead God can’t help us, and a finite God would be too limited. And if God were not a person, we couldn’t enter into relationship with Him – or even know Him.

As important as these aspects of God are, though, they do not comprise the entirety of who God is. Scripture reveals oh so much more about Him. There are also numerous attributes of God about which we learn from His written revelation, of types that theologian Henry Clarence Thiessen calls non-moral and moral attributes. I’ll speak to the former type first.

God’s non-moral attributes are similar to the characteristics of His essence discussed Tuesday. The first of these is omniscience. When we say God is omniscient, we say basically that God knows everything. This comes through in many places, both in the Old Testament (Isaiah 46:10), and the New Testament (Hebrews 4:13.)

A second attribute is omnipresence. This means He is everywhere. Again, this attribute is described in multiple parts of scripture. Psalms 139:7-10 and Acts 7:48-50 for starters. One key point to note, though, is that (theologically speaking, as I’m sorta tryin’ to do from a lay perspective) God’s omnipresence does not mean that God is limited by space. God inhabits space, but is not bound by it; He is transcendent above it at the same time He is within it.

God is also immutable, which means He doesn’t change. This is important because it helps us to trust His promises. He’s always, immutably, faithful to His word. Neither His love, nor His justice ever change. For those who think the OT God of wrath is superseded by the NT Jesus of love, scripture does not leave this option to us. God is who He was and who He always will be.

And finally (for the purposes of this post) God is omnipotent. This is perhaps the most often misunderstood attribute on this short list. Omnipotence in this context does not indicate that God can do anything. Instead, it means that anything God purposes to do, He can do. God’s nature does not allow Him to lie, for instance. But God can certainly create a universe from nothing (being, as noted above, transcendent above creation) or perform other miracles according to this attribute.

Next come the moral attributes. And that’ll cover multiple posts methinks.

God bless!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 11/9 Edition

So I'm 8-1 in the blogger football league (tied for first with Bill Wallo, but I have Priest Holmes and Terrell Owens on my team. It's going to be a long second half.
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The Evangelical Underground's Evangelical Blog Awards are nigh upon us. Register with the forum to be ready to nominate and vote.
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Please pray for this pastor. And for China's abdication of religious persecution.
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Happy blogiversary #2 to La Shawn Barber. Oddly enough, I just found this blog a few months ago despite her being fairly well known among the poli bloggers I read. Better late to a good party than to not arrive at all.
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Carnivals and symposiums everywhere. Cross Blogging's weekly symposium is up, with the topic "To Be Good or To Be Nice?" Great question. Christian Carnival is at Eternal Revolution - as is God or Not - 2nd Edition, an atheist/theist symposium offering posts on the topic of "proof." Great place to enter civil discussions with people holding differing views.
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And, for a couple of meaningless and amusing quizzes so you can learn more about yours truly...first, the inkblog personality quiz (cheesy graphic removed for size.)

FUN LOVING- Most of the time, you are awesome to be
around. Right? People notice your warm
personality and they are automatically
attracted to you. You must have a lot of
friends, or a few really close ones. Either
way, you're nice, relaxed, and you know how to
have fun. You get a little stressed out every
once in a while, either from school work or
from your social life, because you feel like
you have to keep everyone happy. Don't worry
about things like that. You should live your
life for yourself. Besides, youre naturally
kind, so people will like you for whatever you
do and whoever you are!


INKBLOT TEST--->Discover your personality with this Inkblot test!!!!
brought to you by Quizilla
...

And a political leanings quiz...

You are a

Social Liberal

(68% permissive)


and an...

Economic Conservative

(68% permissive)


You are best described as a:


Libertarian


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test



Of course, this last one may come as a shock to some people...social liberal?

Tomorrow, back to the series on theology. 'Til then,

God bless!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

NBB Theology: God - Part I

Yesterday I touched, briefly on my inerrantist view of scripture. While there is much more to say on the matter, I'm going to assume that the foundation for what I come next is sufficiently explained. Before I drop the topic completely, though, I'm going to point you to an excellent series by Dr. Mark D. Roberts that covers the reliability of the Gospels. He touches on some of the same points I hit in my series on Biblical reliability back in March (I really need to put up link pages to the series I do), but more eloquently.

If we hold that scripture is inerrant, and inspired, we necessarily put some value in what it says, and about whom it says things. The primary person about whom the Bible speaks is God. For the inerrantist in me, I see that there is truth to learn about God as He revealed it (via inspiration) through the Bible.

Of course the Bible isn't the sole source of revelation. We have evidence from philosophy, nature, personal experience and testimony (not to mention miracles) that tell us things about God. But the scriptures are the most explicit and universal tangible source of material about God.

What kinds of things can it tell us? Quite a few things. Today I will start by talking about God's essence, so to speak, of what God is. Following posts will cover the attributes of God, as well as the works of God.

Scripture tells us that God is, first of all, spirit and not a physical being. He is also living - contrary to Mr. Nietzsche. Being a spirit, though, and being alive doesn't necessarily tell us much. Fortunately, there's more! (Insert infomercial music here...)

God is also a person, with the attributes of personhood. (Here, of course, I am talking about the philosophical view of personhood, which differs from the legal view of personhood.) Some of these attributes are self- consciousness, and self-determination. God is eternal and immense.

God is all of these things and more; I've barely scratched the surface, but we're starting to see a picture of God from scipture. He is real - alive and eternal, the literal Alpha and Omega of creation. Coming up next we'll take a look at the attributes of this awesome God.

God bless!

Note: For the references and list of "essence" characteristics, I relied on Lectures in Systematic Theology, by Henry Clarence Thiessen - Eerdman's Publishing, Grand Rapids - 1979. I highly recommend this text for those looking for a more in-depth, yet quite readable, treatment of theology.

Monday, November 07, 2005

NBB Theology: Scripture Part II

Inspired and inerrant. Those two words rarely describe this blog, but they do describe scripture quite well. What those terms mean to different people, though, varies. I hope that the following serves to clarify what I (at least) and many other Evangelicals actually mean by those terms. If we don't have those terms clear, the conversation about salvation gets muddied.

Often we find critics of Christianity, or at least of the Evangelical and Fundamentalist varieties, ridiculing the idea of inerrancy and inspiration as literalistic naivete. It is naive to believe God dictated the scripture, the argument goes, and to believe in literalism you need to give up any sense of rationality; contradictions abound, and the man-made book of books is nothing more than fairy tales for those who can't think for themselves.

Such critics miss the point of what inerrancy and inspiration really mean. Much of this is the fault of Christians, who use the words without defining them. And much of it is a lack of training in theology and religion in America in general. In reality, the concept of inspiration is rarely understood by Christians to equate to dictation from God, and inerrancy does not equal literalism.

The concept of inspiration is drawn from II Timothy. The phrase "God breathed" in this verse is descriptive of how scripture came to be: God inspired it. Throughout the Bible we find additional claims of God's participation in the Bible's authorship.

That being said, inspiration does not necessarily equate to dictation. Sure, there are times God speaks directly: to Moses at the burning bush, to Adam and Eve in the garden, to the prophets who declare "thus sayeth the Lord." But these are the exception. All we mean by "inspired" is that God is behind the words of scripture and that He has protected and managed the writing, compilation and maintenance of it. The Holy Spirit, I don't think, whispered the words to the writers. The differences in style, language, literary devices and purpose between the various books is evidence to the contrary. However, He oversaw the work, guiding the authors to produce material that is trustworthy, sufficient, and perfect for the purposes of God's intended revelation. While we don't know the mechanism, we hold that God is behind the scriptures.

Inerrancy, likewise, is an oft-confused concept. Inerrancy does not mean "perfectly accurate down to the minutiae of every historical and scientific fact, and to be taken 100% literally." Inerrancy means that scripture is without error, yes, but "without error" is a term with some small measure of latitude. An example might clarify. There are many rather obviously round numbers in the OT. Numerical precision is not mandated by inerrancy, and where the Bible reports 150,000 men instead of 149,733 we don't take that as an error. Other examples could be taken from the poetic imagery of the poetry books and passages. A literalist view may hold that Solomon's wife really had sheep for teeth - an inerrantist realizes this is poetry, and the image is what's important.

Inerrancy does not ignore context, figures of speech, purpose or custom. Rather, inerrancy requires that the text be understood in the light of how it was written. Poetry is poetry, history is history, prophecy is prophecy and parables are parables. A literalist approach would turn the parable of the Prodigal Son into an actual happening, where an inerrantist would say Jesus did tell the parable (the inerrant part) but that the parable itself was a piece of fiction designed to make a point (the context part.)

There is much, much more that can be said about what inerrancy means, and for that I refer you to the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. What I don't explain clearly is laid out pretty well in that statement.

If the Bible is inspired and inerrant, which I believe (and the discussion about the evidence on which I believe these things - as they aren't irrational decisions I've made without studying the matter - is for a different day) then what can it tell us about God? That's the next post in this little mini-series on my theology.

God bless!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 11/4 Edition

Oh, no he din't. Oh, NO he din't. Okay, he did. Blogotional called out the MOB. Head on over to Radioblogger and vote, preferably for Jeff Kouba's entry. Minnesota has enough also-rans and Jeff's too good for that particular company at the moment.
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Christian Carnival is up at Dory's. A couple of noteworthy posts this week (though many more are also noteworthy) include / musing / struggling / dreaming / with a discussion on inerrancy (soon to be discussed right here at NBB) and this from Crossroads on the difference between what's legal and what's ethical. I look forward to parts 2/3 of the series.
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Deadline's tomorrow for the God or Not carnival. The topic is "proof" which should give you some good latitude in coming up with a post.
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Adrian posts on the possibility of losing one's salvation, something which may come into play in my current series (interrupted by occassional trips 'round the 'sphere and the like.) I pretty much concur with Adrian's analysis, but may expound when I get to that point in the next week or so.
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I love politics, but really as Michelle Malkin reports this kind of stuff is absurd, inane, inappropriate, and a whole buncha other bad words. And this from the party that is trying to convince me they're the ones who care about equality???? File this one away as another exhibit in my soon-appearing "Why I'm not a Democrat" post. Captain's Quarters also posts on the subject, and while I think Ed goes too far when he says, "That shows the leadership of the Democrats as they truly are -- a hate-based faith system that takes any means necessary to win elections. Cheating, violence, smears, and now racism are all acceptable as long as Republicans are the targets. If the Republicans happen to be members of minority communities, so much the better," I think the hypocriscy in evidencehere is appalling.
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Another fun little site from the makers of Lost. If you don't get it, check out iTunes where you can catch up on the series for a mere $1.99/episode. I'm assuming they don't have commercials, which may make it worth it to me.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

NBB Theology: Scripture Part I

A conversation has sprung up at Evangelical Update regarding salvation. What is it, who "gets" it, who doesn't, how do you know if you are saved, etc. The discussion to date is illuminating, but really the topic is too big to cover without a post (or a series thereof, as you'll see here over the next week or ten) here as well. I mean, I like the conversational utility of blog comments, and I hate to consume long stretches of such with my verbosity to the detriment of participation by others. So, I'm going to do a series addressing the topic at hand.

Many assumptions may be made for the sake of space, and I'm not going to defend every statement with detailed follow-up; that's what the comments section is for if you have questions. This series is coming from my perspective as an Evangelical, and I don't propose to speak for everyone; let's have a discussion and see where it comes out.

Salvation isn't a simple topic. Well, in some senses it is. I could say that salvation is offered to all, accepted by few. I could say it's something God offers out of love, through His grace. I could also say we don't deserve it, as we (being imperfect and sinful) cannot earn the favor of God (being perfectly just and righteous). And in truth, it's all of these things. It's the why's and wherefors that take more time. Each of these statements is simple - yet explaining them can take lots and lots of time.

I'll try to be concise.

When we're talking about salvation, though, it is a theological topic. That is, it has to do with the knowledge of God. Without God, the topic makes no sense. When "doing theology," or discussing spiritual matters ala Christianity, we need to go therefore to the source to get the information from which we derive our beliefs. There are a couple of places we can go for information on salvation: God Himself, and the Bible. The former is obvious - who better to ask about His gifts than, well, Him? God, through the person of the Holy Spirit does speak to us and give assurance of salvation. But that's a topic for later in the series.

The other main source of information regarding our eternal state is found in scripture. This, being God's revelation to us about Himself and His actions is another good source. In fact, aside from scripture and the direct revelation of His "still, small voice" there really aren't any authoritative sources of data regarding the afterlife. So I'll start the series by explaining how I see and interpret the Bible as that will inform how I come to my perception of God. That in turn leads to how I see salvation, since above all it is an act of God.

I've gone a long way, so far, and said very little about how I see scripture, so this will just be a flyby, to be fleshed out in the next post or two. My view of scripture is that it is inspired and inerrant. It is useful for teaching, correcting and edifying. It is the prime source of information about and from God outside our experience with Him. And the Bible is also fully sufficient to explain all we need to know about salvation and how to receive it.

Some of these terms (inspired, and inerrant in particular) are interpreted in different ways so I'll turn to what I mean by those two "i" words next.

God bless!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Comments & Trackbacks

So far I've only had one problem in my 10 + months of blogging, so I haven't felt the need to put forth a comments policy, but for the sake of having one in place for a soon-but-maybe-later redesign of the site, I thought I'd create one.

The comments section for each post is for any questions, comments, or other (is there another kind?) feedback on the initial post. I welcome dissent and inquiry as much as I welcome compliments and agreement; it is through appropriate critiques that we grow, intellectually. As I desire above all to know truth, I find great value in correction.

I do not, though, find great value in obscenity, insults, abuse or otherwise mean-spirited criticism of either myself or other discussion participants. Therefore, I will use my discretion and remove any comments that I deem out of line. The key is civility and decorum. If you're going to insult, please go elsewhere. While I'm not offended by such (after all, why waste the effort of being offended on people who need etiquette lessons?) I do not think it's appropriate for this blog.

If for some reason you think I've deleted a comment unfairly, please let me know as I'm certainly not above making the occasional error in judgment - especially if I'm already somewhat worked up about something.

I also ask you to point out where you think I make an out-of-line comment. I like to think I'm fairly level headed, but sometimes I get, as I said, worked up. I hope you can be patient when that happens.

So far things have been good. I've only had to delete on comment in 10 or so months. I appreciate the politeness and kindness shown in the comments of this blog, and I find that a high tribute to my visitors; I'm truly grateful.

(Needless to say, spam will be treated severely.)

In regards to trackbacks, I see them as a way to let me know when you've talked about one of my posts, or at least mentioned it. I use them to notify others similarly. However, if people start tracking back without actually discussing my posts, I may remove those too. I don't want to send my readers on rabbit chases where they think they're pursuing one path, only to find something different at the tracking back blog. As JollyBlogger posted, there is an etiquette to these things, and as I'm learning it I'm starting to see how trackbacks can be abused. In the event people actually start tracking back more often, I hope they do so with the intent to continue a discussion and not mislead my readers.

God bless!

The Votes are In!

So...I have two people who read my blog frequently enough, and who otherwise care enough, to vote on what my next series should be. Thanks to both! Politics lost out, but I'm sure I'll get back to it someday. And if there's something you want to know, please feel free to enter a comment or send me an email at any time. Ideally this blog is more like a discussion than a lecture.

So, I'll be starting a series on Theology According to NBB. While far from comprehensive (I doubt I'll talk much about everything covered in my theology courses), it will at least give you a view on how I see God, how I understand salvation, and how I see scripture. The impetus is the discussion at Evangelical Update centered on salvation. I just think there's too much to cover to keep in the comments section over there.

I hope the series is edifying, and more importantly, truthful. Where I'm in error I do request the loving correction spoken of in 2 Timothy. Truth is very important to me, and I fully admit that I don't have a corner on it. We all have blindspots, and I can only grow when mine are revealed. Just please be civil about it - thanks.

So...tomorrow: Starting at the beginning, or "NBB Theology: Scripture Part I." Things will build from there to God and salvation. In short, a series on the Gospel and the keys to Christianity, from my perspective.

God bless!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 11/1 Edition

I've often thought humorists were better than "serious" commentators at making serious points. One of my favorites is Dave Barry, and this interview with him post-Katrina was very interesting.
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Excellent sermon by Charles Spurgeon on substitutionary atonement. Consider this foreshadowing for an upcoming series if Ed has his way in the voting.
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Speaking of the esteemed Reverend Ed, happy birthday to his little girl. This post was quite, well, familiar to me for some reason. And as a PK, I appreciated this post too. I commend it to all - it's not easy being in the family of a pastor - but I wouldn't have traded it for the world.
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Having just watched the old BBC version, and reading the book with my five year old for the first time, I'm very much looking forward to the upcoming release of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in December. The 2nd trailer is out, and reminds me how much I want to visit New Zealand. (I hear that besides the scenery shown in TLtWatW, and LotR, there's a pretty good blogger down that way too - I missed Catez's commentary on Halloween in my earlier post.)
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My secret is out.
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I love this as I find it irritating to have to navigate VRU/IVU systems when calling a corporation.

God bless!

Halloween - The Day Afterthought

So another Halloween has come and gone, and like most Halloween's I bid this one goodbye without so much as a tear. This ode to jack-o-lanterns and candy isn't my favorite holiday by any stretch of the imagination. I don't get the people who spend hundreds of dollars on costumes, or who judge the haul-o-goodies as some sort of status contest.

Part of this is my upbringing. Halloween is a touchy day for many Christians who fear the taint of the occult - or perhaps the more insidious grasp of the commercial marketers (you know, the same marketers who've turned Christmas into an orgy of materialism sponsored by the ACLU's "a creche on the lawn of city hall = mandated worship at the church of America" division.) My parents were sensitive to this, and that trait has passed on to me.

Part of this, too, is the reality of the occult and paganism - two items often associated with Halloween. I have a general distrust of being associated, even through perception, with anything on the wrong side of truth and goodness.

So I have some general concerns. But over time, I've come to see that Halloween is an opportunity. I'm not talking about an opportunity to dress up and beg for candy. I'm talking about an opportunity to interact with neighbors for the purposes of the Kingdom. Regardless of the origins of Halloween (pagan or no, doesn't matter) our culture celebrates the day by going door to door, giving and receiving gifts. People come to our door asking for good things - and we have the best thing in the world to offer. We shouldn't shy away from taking the time to offer them something more lasting than chocolate.

Yes, we should be careful about the trappings and crossing over to occultish things. But it is possible, and even beneficial, to reject the anti-Christian aspects of the day but use the cultural aspects of the day for reaching our neighbors to offer hope. Many churches now do this, and I applaud them. We took our girls, for instance, to a local church which uses games, treats and entertainment to provide a safe alternative to trick-or-treating - but more importantly to bring neighborhood families into the church. It's a practical way to reach the unchurched.

Our church offered magnets we could pass out which had a cookie recipe, an encouraging verse and information about the church. Even better, the team that came up with the idea suggested that as children trick-or-treat, they could offer the magnets to the people handing out the candy. So, not only is the church giving out information, but they are doing so in a way sure to stick out and make an impression. People are used to giving at Halloween, but having a child hand you something in return? Awesome thinks I.

I know there are folks who don't like Halloween, and I can certainly sympathize. If this is an area where you just can't in good conscience partake, I have no qualms about that. However, our neighbors are coming to our doors in search of something. I think it's a good thing to take advantage and start using the visits to engage the culture for Christ. Avoid the evil overtones - that should be done. But a few seconds here and there can add up to a lot of hope for a neighborhood - especially when enveloped in prayer.
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As you can imagine, I'm not the only one on this topic in the past few days. Here are some excellent discussions vis a vis Halloween. Hope these help you plan for next year's.

  • JollyBlogger offers a lengthly discussion about the origins of Halloween.

  • Joe Carter talks about the notorious Chick Tracks.

  • Tim Challies echoes my thoughts, pretty much. It is a mixed bag, and not an easy holiday with which to deal, but it's a shame to miss the opportunity presented us.

  • Cross Blogging's symposium last week was on the question of whether Christians should celebrate Halloween.



God bless!