This and That 10-08-11

Praise for Free Thought in 21st Century America? Machen says Think Again – Freedom of thought in the middle ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective. Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them then to attend school where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist. Such a tyranny, supported as it is by a perverse technique used as the instrument in destroying human souls, is certainly far more dangerous than the crude tyrannies of the past, which despite their weapons of fire and sword permitted thought at least to be free.” – Founder of Westminster Seminary, Christianity and Liberalism, 14

Pat Robertson Responds – “And remember, they come to me asking for specific advice and I give them specific advice about their condition, not for the world. I’m not giving a theological (defense); I’m not John Calvin giving the Institutes of the Christian Religion.”  To tell a man to stay with his sick wife, that to divorce her or leave her because of her illness, is, in every situation, wrong, is not some abstract point of doctrine. No one was asking Robertson to, on his feet, explain the Molinist account of providence or to answer a tricky ethical dilemma about lying to save the lives of others. This question was about the most basic sign of the gospel, the union between Christ and his church. One doesn’t even need to know any Scripture beyond John 3:16 to intuit the spirit of antichrist in the notion of abandoning a suffering spouse. – Russell Moore

Collateral Damage in the Invitation of T.D. Jakes to the Elephant Room – “What should MacDonald do now?  I’m not even sure.  There’s an argument to be made for confrontation.  There’s also an argument to be made for separation.  If Jakes could be won over and would publicly teach orthodox Trinitarian views, that could be huge.  If the discussion turns warm and fuzzy, “aren’t we all brothers in the end,” the damage could be irreparable–to everyone.  It’s easy to play “Should of, Could of, Would of.”  Monday morning quarterbacking always leaves fewer bruises than taking Sunday morning snaps.  I don’t envy MacDonald one bit.  I pray for his courage and the Lord’s grace whichever way it goes.  I hope you do, too.” – Thabiti Anyabwile

Why Leaders Must Dismiss the Criticisms of “They” & Why You Shouldn’t Quote “They” – “The ubiquitous authority of “they” is the bane of every pastor and leader. “They say” are the two words that are expected to give force to the soon-to-follow argument or criticism. And, unfortunately, it is the habit of sincere church members (the transmitters) to employ the “they say” argument without any real consideration of its negative impact.  But who are “they”? Insofar as “they” are anonymous serious and thoughtful leaders must have the mental and spiritual fortitude to dismiss their opinions and criticisms and all Christians must seriously hesitate before becoming a “transmitter” of whatever “they say”. I offer up some reasons why the word of “they” is not only meaningless, but obstructive for leaders and pastors who, if they have not already, will be faced with the presumptuous authority of the invisible “they.” These reasons overlap and are offered simply as food for thought.” – Bob Bixby

Why having my children upset with me is a “small thing” in my world – But, there is a better question than, “Do you love your children enough to die for them?” The better question is, “Do you love your children enough to say ‘no’ to them?”  There have been times as a father that I have said “no” to something one of our children wanted to do in order to protect him or her.  On a few occasions, that child would  let me know that he or she was not pleased with me for denying the request.  At such times here is what I tell my children.  My goal is to protect you.  If protecting you means having you upset with me, so be it.  I love you enough to die for you; you being upset with me is a relatively small thing in my world. – Chris Brauns

Three Rules for Polemics – In reading what a number of respected Christian authors have said over the years about polemics and theological controversy, I have distilled a few rules. These rules, I believe, will help us neither avoid polemics nor engage in them in a spiritually destructive way. – Tim Keller

Phil Johnson Comment on the Ray Comfort 180 film – I’m sounding hyper-critical, no doubt. And I am sorry for that. I love WoTM and Ray Comfort. And I’m grateful for the countless people they have motivated to do open-air evangelism. But I do earnestly wish they stressed gospel AS MUCH AS (note: not “instead of”) law. – Phil Johnson

On the Death of Steve Jobs – Jobs gave us practical tools of dominion. That may not have been his purpose, but he did it nonetheless. For these tools, I am thankful. Creating clever tools was the mark of his life. Consider that long before Jobs gave the world iPods and iMacs, he was the visionary who introduced the world to the mouse. This being said, the coming of Steve Jobs’ wonderful machines did not mean that the world would become wiser or full of more knowledge. Society may have unprecedented access to information, but this does not mean it has a greater understanding. Only the fear of the Lord brings knowledge and wisdom. (There is a strong argument that we have become stupider and less wise because of our unprofitable use of these devices.) So while the world has changed greatly because of Apple and Jobs, we are not necessarily better off in any ultimate sense. It is righteousness and the very spirit of God, not the existence of technology, which ultimately prospers a people. – Doug Phillips


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