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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Above All . . . No, Not the Song!

I am talking about Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World by David F. Wells. Today, I started reading this highly touted book and must say, from what I have read thus far, it is living up to its praise. Whatever you are reading (apart from the Bible of course), let me encourage you to get this book and contemplatively go through it. After that, consider and chomp on No Place for Truth, God in the Wasteland, and Losing Our Virtue - the three previous works in the series. With no hyperbole intended, I believe this series will be required reading for generations to come as the best treatment of truth, evangelicalism, and our culture at the turn of the 21st century. Douglas Groothuis has written a review which would be worth your time checking out. His concluding statement was,

"One is tempted to quote further from this wise theologian and social critic; in fact, I underlined more of this book than any in recent memory. But instead of drawing out this review any further, I instead heartily recommend that the reader purchase and carefully consider the insights of Above All Earthly Pow'rs--and continue to sing the hymn from which the title is taken."
I expect to go through many highlighters on this one as well. For those who want to discuss the material in this book, I would be happy to do so. As Wells shared about his "fraternity of discourse," it wouldn't hurt to have one on the blogosphere either. My plans are to read a chapter a day with a break halfway for contemplation and review. I hope to complete it by the end of next week. Let me share one quote that Wells makes about the Word of God with you:
"For it is certainly the case that the Word of God, read or preached, has the power to enter the innermost crevices of a person's being, to shine light in unwanted places, to explode the myths and deceits by which fallen life sustains itself, and to bring that person face to face with the eternal God. It is this biblical Word which God uses to bring repentance, to excite faith, to give new life, to sustain that life once given, to correct, nurture, and guide the Church. The biblical Word is self-authenticating under the power of the Holy Spirit. This Word of God is the means by which God accomplishes his saving work in his people, and this is a work that no evangelist and no preacher can do. This is why the dearth of serious, sustained biblical preaching in the Church today is a serious matter. When the Church loses the Word of God it loses the very means by which God does his work. In its absence, therefore, a script is being written, however unwittingly, for the Church's undoing, not in one cataclysmic moment, but in a slow, inexorable slide made up of a piece by tiny piece of daily dereliction" (9).
Amen and amen! Note: As a foundation to this work, Wells encourages readers to get his previous work called The Person of Christ: A Biblical and Historical Analysis of the Incarnation (Good News Publishers, 1984). Currently, this book is only available used. Buying options can be found here.

Another Update and a Request for Prayer

Last week, I shared an update about a good friend of mine serving in a militantly Islamic region of the world. He has emailed me again, and I am sharing this update with you asking for your prayers. The meeting he is referring to will take place tomorrow. Let us not neglect prayer for our brothers and sisters taking the gospel to the darkest places in the world shining the light of the glory of GOd in the face of Christ.

Friends,

I have a special request for you to pray about. In the past, I have mentioned that there is a prominent member of the national parliament from my area of work whom I have been trying to make contact with. He is possibly the leading voice in this country calling for Shariah (holy/Islamic) law to be imposed. Three times I have visited his village home, and not caught him. The last two times I have taken my wife with me. The email message I sent out about a month ago concerning the difference having Jessica with me when making evangelistic visits was after being at this man's house. Twice she has been inside and shared the gospel with the women of his home. Today I was able to make contact with him by phone, and learned that he would be in our home town tomorrow. He invited me to visit a local madrassa (Islamic school) where he is on the board of directors. That will be Tuesday morning in the USA.

Here is how you can pray specifically:

1) I am not sure if I will be able to take my family inside the school or not. Whatever happens, ask the Lord to use my wife and kids to destroy any false understandings about Jesus that western culture has produced. In Islam, the women of the family carry the weight of holiness for the entire family. That is why the dress and conduct of women is so important. As the Scripture says, "those who won't listen to the word...will be won without a word, by the holy conduct of the wives." God has given me a large, and currently young, family for such a time as this.

2) Pray for a heart which has probably never felt the Holy Spirit to perceive the presence of the Lord. Ask that ears who have never been able to appropriately hear the gospel, because of the lies of Islam, would be sharp to hear. "It is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven...but with God all things are possible."

3) Ask that I have wisdom to know how to approach sharing with him. Normally with leaders I share pretty openly, with respect and firmness. I may only get one chance with a member of parliament. It is difficult for a large leader to make heart felt decisions in public. If tomorrow is my only chance to talk to him, then he is going to have to listen. However, if there is a better setting in which to approach him with such serious issues, then ask that I have the perception to see how the Spirit is moving. 4) Hospitality and formality is overwhelming in some of these situations. At times they are a distraction. Pray that these things would not get in the way.

Thank you for keeping our missionaries in your prayers. On another note, last night I spoke with another brother who recently returned from serving two years in one of holiest cities in India. I am scheduling an interview with him in the near future and will be posting it here on P&P.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why You Should Go D-SLR: Photography from P&P

I said I was going to do this for some time now. I am starting a new series of posts dealing with photography and everything related to it. First, let me make a few statements and a disclaimer.

Personal Disclaimer

I am NOT a professional photographer and don’t pretend to know much of anything (I realize that may discredit everything I said henceforth, but I don’t want to mislead you). However, what I do know, I would like to share with others in hopes that it might fuel good discussion and maybe assist others who want to develop their own photography style. So if you stumble upon this post expecting to hear from someone who graduated with a photography degree in some elite school, I am sorry, but I am not your man. But if you want to talk photography from someone who is learning along with you, then by all means, let’s talk.

This post is dedicated to the topic about my belief that, if you can, you should go D-SLR. Before I got into photography last year, my only cameras were disposable. I had no education or photography experience whatsoever. My first camera was a Canon 20D which I chose after spending about two months educating myself on what I figured would be the best buy and would challenge me in creativity, technique, and personal style. As a dedicated (or so I like to think) student at school, I needed a release and hobby to take my mind off things, so I chose photography to be that outlet. Since the purchase of my camera last year, I have taken about 15,000 images which have included around 15 weddings and numerous other occasions. Needless to say, I am really enjoying my new hobby.

So what is a D-SLR anyway?

Well, SLR stands for “single lens reflex” which means there is a mirror behind the lens which reflects light coming into the camera. As the shutter button is pressed, the mirror lifts up out of the way to allow light to be read by the camera sensor. Traditionally, the light is read on film, but in the digital world, the light is read on a CCD or CMOS sensor. One of the features of some D-SLR’s is “mirror lock-up” which locks the mirror and removes and possible shake which comes when clicking the shutter button (you have to press the shutter button twice to capture the image).

In a very short and simple fashion, let me share four reasons why I believe you should go for a D-SLR camera if you are in the photography world:

  1. Affordability

Two things I want to point out here. First, if you buy a point-and-shoot camera that is a real budget saver, you might get everything you want. BUT, if you love taking great photos and want to be challenged to do more, you will quickly be disappointed and wish you had purchased a SLR camera. Therefore, it may end up being more expensive going the cheaper route first and attempting to upgrade later. Going D-SLR first gives you ample opportunity to expand and grow in your photography skills. Imagine getting a PC that only offers USB 1.1, Pentium 2 processor, 4 GB memory, and only a floppy drive. Sure, it will do some functions and save a lot of money, but you are limited because of its capabilities and will end up spending a bunch of money later buying more hard drive, memory, external CD/DVD roms, etc. Get the point?

Now, the good thing is that D-SLR’s have become really affordable in recent years (especially compared to the past). For instance, one can enter in the D-SLR world by purchasing a body for under $500. This is truly remarkable, especially that the newer, high end point-and-shoot cameras are already exceeding that price. Bottom line: more people are being able to consider D-SLR’s because of the affordable and reasonable prices available today. If you are already wanting a nice digital camera and willing to spend a couple hundred dollars, why not save a little more, do yourself a favor, and get a camera with many more functions and capabilities that a regular point-and-shoot camera can offer? That’s my second point.

  1. Functionality

Having a D-SLR allows you to do many more functions than a normal camera. For instance, you are able to manually control the settings including your ISO speed, aperture, and shutter speed. You can prefer shutter priority (Tv) or aperture priority (Av) settings or go totally manual (which I shoot only). Furthermore, there are many other, more advanced functions on the camera settings such as select focus, white balance bracketing, card formatting, long exposure noise reduction, mirror lock up, shutter curtain synchronization, and ISO expansion just to name a few. In addition, you can customize your camera buttons as well (for instance, I have one button to focus and another for exposure). As you can see, these functions and options are simply not available on your normal camera, and the fraction increase of cost will open the door for you to explore all these and more.

  1. Creativity

This is probably the greatest benefit for owning a D-SLR camera. Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot draw. I do not have an artistic bone in my body. However, having a D-SLR camera, my creative juices are allowed to flow as I envision what I want to shoot. For instance, the BULB option allows you to do a myriad of things. BULB is the shutter speed manually operated after the 30 second exposure reading. This allows you to shoot long (really long) exposures which open you to the world of night photography. If you want to play with light, you can grab a flashlight and paint graffiti on a wall or tree for fun. On the other end of shutter creativity, you can speed up the shutter to capture things in mid-air, such as a spilled glass or the splash of a waterfall. Were I to mention all the creative options available in the D-SLR world, you would think I am Gene Bridges working on my next dissertation!

  1. Versatility

Finally, D-SLR’s offers incredible versatility. For example, the best and most versatile feature of D-SLR’s is the option of interchangeable lenses. Over a long period of time, you can have a multiple lens set-up which includes telephoto, wide-angle, prime, macro, and even fish-eye lenses. Also, some lenses shoot faster than others which give you the advantage of shooting in low light without compromising clarity and getting too much noise (shooting at high ISO speeds). In addition, great depth-of-field can be achieved (when working with aperture), and if one is using zoom, multiple options are available (such as spinning or zooming while exposing). Other versatile features include the many accessories that allow for even greater fun, such as external flash, vertical battery grip, lens filters, wired remotes, and offshoe cords for external flash. Finally, with the purchase of some D-SLR cameras, digital editing software is included in the package which can assist you in post-production.

Conclusion

As you can see, I believe there are many reasons why going D-SLR is worth your consideration. If you take photos but don’t consider photography as a hobby or interest, it may be best that you NOT go the D-SLR route. But if you do love photography, have a desire to push your creative juices, and willing to make the investment, then what are you waiting for? In my next post, I will give two examples (Canon and Nikon) how one can have a complete D-SLR set-up for under $1400. I know that sounds rather expensive, but this idea would be laughed at in years past. For those of you hoping to hope into the D-SLR world, maybe this might be a little help.

Friday, July 28, 2006

POTW :: 07.28.06 :: passionofpiper

{Click to enlarge}
Yesterday, I posted that the 2006 Desiring God National Conference has a new blog, and for the past month or so, I have been looking for a good time to post some more of my Together for the Gospel pics. In light of the DG Conference, I thought I'd post this picture of John Piper from the T4G Conference. I believe this image encaspulates his untamed passion and relentless rigor in the pursuit of God's glory in expository exultation. When I listen to Piper (like I did this morning to his message on sex and the supremacy of Christ), I am reminded of the weight of glory, the gravitas of God. Apart from my father, of men living today, none has influenced me more to live with a passion (and panting) for Jesus than John Piper. Over the course of this weekend, I am going to publicly post images of Piper from the T4G conference that I have yet to release. All in all, expect about 20-25 images from his message at the conference. To go to my T4G Conference set, go here. TO go to my Flickr page, go here. To go to the DG 2006 National Conference, go here.
Here's the exif data for the photogs: Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 100-400mm IS USM Focal Length: 400mmTv: 1/320 sec Av: f/5.6.0 ISO: 1600 WB: Custom (3900 K) I in no way want to be exclusionary by not linking to everyone with a Friday special, but the number of participants is simply getting too big to link everyone. If you have a photo for the Friday Photo group, be sure to put it here. For poetry and prose, check out Brent Thomas, and for church history, see William Turner.

Flickr News for My Foto Friends

Since today is Friday, the day when we post our photos and whatever else we do to fill empty space in the blogworld, I thought I'd mention a few things concerning the wonderful world of Flickr. 1. Instead of spending 20 mintues trying to find everyone's photos to link them to my POTW post, Kevin Cawley has done us all a favor and created a Flickr group where all the Friday Photos can be found. If you don't have a Flickr account, don't worry - it's free. To sign up, go here. To join the Friday Photo group, go here. I will be posting my Friday Photo later this afternoon. I will, by the way, continue the links which are not photo related such as the history by William Turner and poetry by Brent Thomas. 2. Flagrant Disregard has some really cool toys to place with, especially if you have Flickr. I recently posted a picture made by Scout which is a widget that finds all your photos that was ranked in the top 500 around the Flickr world for any given day. After 1600 photos posted, I had some 35 photos in Explore (give or take a few which roll on and off the list). Here's the photo in case you were interested (click to enlarge): 3. Last month, I had this strange feeling that I needed to start a game for my Flickr friends in Louisville. There is a group of photogs from Louisville totally about 125 people currently in the Louisville Flickr community. So I decided to start a came called "Where's Flicko?" The deal is simply this: someone takes a photo somewhere in the Louisville city limits and posts it in the thread without telling anyone where he/she was. The rest of us race to find that place, take the exact same picture, and post in on the thread. The first one to do it gets the largest number of points. All who post the identical pic afterwards gets additional points as well. Then another picture is posted, and the game recycles itself. Pretty silly, huh? Hey, I created it, so what do you expect? Well, if it flies and people like it, we are thinking about exporting it to the Flickr world at large, trying to have "Where's Flicko?" in multiple cities around the world. We'll have to see about that. 4. Finally, in light of the recent news about the DG National Conference, my mind went back to the fact that I have a TON of photos yet to post from the T4G Conference. I think you will like the ones I will post later today. Here's a one-word hint: passion. To view my Flickr page, go to Sola Lumina Captura. To view my T4G album, go here. To view my postcards and popular photos, go here.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Networking, Investments, and Community

(Alright, so I am on a roll today - this is my third post!)

When my wife and I came to Louisville almost two years ago, we left our families and the church which we served and became very close to many people. After the first couple of weeks of moving boxes and getting adjusted to the new location, we realized that we really did not know anybody here. It was the weirdest thing to go into the Wal-Mart a couple of miles away and not seeing someone we knew. We used to allot 30 extra minutes when going to Wal-Mart because we would inevitably end up in conversation with some we knew.

The last two years has been a wonderful journey for my wife and me. We have met some wonderful people to share our lives with, many whom are faithful servants in our local church (Ninth and O Baptist Church). I have also been greatly blessed by the edification and encouragement from fellow students at Southern who share similar passions and interests both in and out of the classroom. Then, in March of 2005, I started this blogging thing and have come to know many of you through interaction, email, and even meeting in person. The Band of Bloggers meeting a couple months ago was remarkable in that I was able to see, hug, and converse with many of you in person.

With that said, I have been thinking more and more about how I can effectively spend my time with the various people the Lord has graciously given my wife and me. The community of believers with whom I share my life is really important to me, and I want to network my life in a way that the greatest investment can be made into the ones I have been privileged to know and serve God with.

So I wanted to pose this question to you: How do you network?

Let me share with you how I have attempted to balance my time and strengthen the network of believers in my life. Here is a list that I drafted the other day:

  1. Wife and family - constitutes my family and my wife’s family
  1. Inner Circle (brotherhood) - constitutes about 12 brothers of kindred spirit whom I am very close to
  1. Church family and Louisville friends - constitutes my local church and friends from seminary
  1. Spiritual leaders and mentors - constitutes about six men whom I converse or meet with regularly
  1. Coworkers and unbelieving friends - constitutes the people whom I am actively sharing the gospel with
  1. Blogging brothers - constitutes the brothers I know through the internet
  1. OOT friends - constitutes friends I have known well and keep in touch in other parts of the world
  1. Disciples - constitutes a couple of guys I regularly invest in (disciple)
  1. New Contacts - constitutes new people I look forward to meeting

Given that I work 3rd shift, my schedule is a bit different than most of you. One might wonder how I get things done in a day. One answer is I usually have 3-4 more hours in a day than most people (meaning I sleep usually sleep from 7:30-12:00 p.m.). Anyway, at this point, here is how I try to balance my time and continue strengthening my relationships with those in this group:

  1. Wife and Family: My nights are free with my wife, and we visit our families about every 6-8 weeks.
  2. Inner Circle: I call these brothers at least once a week and usually schedule breakfast or lunch with 2-3 of them a week.
  3. Church family and Louisville friends: Of course, I am involved in our SS small group and other ministries in the church. Classmates I try to have lunch with during the semester. Occasionally, we have them over for dinner (and laundry if they are students on campus).
  4. Spiritual leaders and mentors: I usually converse via email or phone but meet up when necessary.
  5. Coworkers and unbelieving friends: I spend 20 hours a week with them. Almost daily I am meeting someone new and sharing my life with them. I also use Sunday nights to bring them to church with me and fellowship afterwards.
  6. Blogging brothers: Most my blogging is done from 4:30-6:30 a.m. That gives me sufficient time to interact with my brothers during a time when my wife is asleep (not to take away from our time together).
  7. OOT friends: Drive time is office time for me in which I make daily phone calls. I try to plan my phone calls in advance to make sure I am not overlooking or forgetting friends the Lord has blessed me with. I normally have about an hour driving daily, so this gives me plenty of time to have meaningful conversations.
  8. Disciples: Right now, they are not in Louisville, so my labors here are through phone, email, and visits.
  9. New Contacts: Always meeting new folks which is a joy for me.

So that’s pretty much how I do it. Got any suggestions? How do you plan your time, make your investments, build your network? I really would be interested in hearing advice for me or how you do it yourself.

Desiring God 2006 National Conference BLOG

Of all the blogs that seem to pop up almost on a daily basis, I don't think I have found one I am more pumped about than the new Desiring God 2006 National Conference blog. Several posts have already been made, and I think this blog will carry as much popularity (or more) than the T4G group blog. Go ahead and bookmark this blog as I am sure you find it profitable for your walk and witness. Oh, and from what I can tell, they allow comments. :) That said, I also received an email a couple of days ago from Scott Anderson @ Desiring God about the conference letting me know about some of the efforts being made to promote this conference. For those of you who have a blog and would like to promote the conference, you can go here and add a banner to your blog. I am not that technologically savvy, so I haven't added it yet. In the upcoming weeks, I will posting more details about the conference. In the meantime, I thought I'd let you know that I plan on reading David Wells' book Above All Earthly Pow'rs in the next two weeks. If any of you want to read along and discuss, I would enjoy the discussion. I have read No Place for Truth and God in the Wastelands already - two books which have profoundly impacted my life. I expect this book to be no less potent. To read more about the 2006 Desiring God National Conference, go here. To register for the 2006 Desiring God National Conference, go here.

Great News from the Field

This morning I received and email update from a dear friend serving in a militantly Muslim region of the world. I would like to share this with you to encourage you about what is going on around the world with our IMB missionaries and also ask you to remember them in your prayers. It is so easy to localize our prayers and requests with the world which we know, but there are incredible realities and requests that exist outside our zip code that we would be negligent to dismiss. I hope you are as encouraged by this report as I am. :) Friends, We can report to you some wonderful things that happened over the last month. For some time we have had you praying for the wife an electrician who had accepted Christ at the beginning of this year. He was baptized in Febuary. We had shared several times with his wife, without much progress. He also had been talking with her. Last week we took several members of a volunteer team to their house, and were able to lead his wife to Christ. There were three other ladies there who also believed, and say they are ready for baptism. This electrican is really on fire. As of yesterday he had led two other men in his neighborhood to faith, and I helped him baptize those two in the morning. That is the picture you see attached. Last night he came to my house and told me that he had led another man to Christ. In the book of Timothy, Paul urged his son in the faith to "lay hold of eternal life," ie, make it your own. That is exactly what has happened in the electrician's life. We basically have a church in the little area in which he lives. I just need to help them understand what a church is about, and what a body does. We have often reported to you of people coming to faith, but it has been more scattered and less organized. It is so rewarding to see people own the gospel for themselves, and run with it. So pray for us in our training them now. We need lots of wisdom. Don't think as you read this report that these people were accidentally saved. You all have been praying for this situation for some time. Thank you so much for your prayers. Shifting gears to another area we work in - Probably lots of you have, at some time in your life, either cut some wood, or seen someone do it. Sometimes, when you have a really large or strong piece of log you cannot cut it with only your axe. You have to take a wedge and use a sledge hammer to start the split in the wood. Last week we hosted a group of folks from the US. We went to a remote area that God has placed upon my heart, and shared with lots of the village leaders. We had three men and women believe in Jesus, and several more who seemed to be close. We will hopefully begin baptizing these within a week or two. One of the exciting things is that the majority of these people are influential in their villages. Pray for the gospel take root and spread in this area. Please rejoice with us for this wedge that has been driven in the community. Ask God to make the believers faithful witnesses in their homes, and areas. Ask him to form churches in these places so that the new believers will have the friends and support they need. It is an exciting time. Pray for us as we follow up on these things. May the Lord Jesus be famous in this place. Until He Comes, M (name removed) Let us lift our brothers and sisters up before the Lord in our prayers. Indeed, the Lord of the Harvest is drawing many to himself and using such prayers to accomplish His purposes throughout the earth!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Is Propositional Revelation Nonsense?

In the appendix of his book, He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Francis Schaeffer wrote a little piece called “Is Propositional Revelation Nonsense?” Schaeffer explains that, “To modern man, and much modern theology, the concept of propositional revelation and the historic Christian view of infallibility is not so much mistaken as meaningless” (345). The 20th century came with many challenges to theological formulation, not the least of which was the assault on propositional truth and revelation. Such camps as existentialists and logical positivists attempted to remove religious truth from the reason and revelation while others sought to justify meaning, reality, and truth with other criterion of verification such as experience and perception. However, center to the Christian faith is the belief that God has spoken and revealed himself in the written Word of God. In this revelation, God used language as the medium to carry and convey biblical truths and realities. This is not to say that God has revealed himself exhaustively, but it does mean that he has revealed himself truly and definitively. Schaeffer makes two points which I would like to mention here:

  1. Even communication between one created person and another is not exhaustive; but that does not mean that for that reason it is not true.
  1. If the uncreated Personal really cared for the created personal, it could not be thought unthinkable for him to tell the created personal things of a propositional nature; otherwise, as a finite being, the created personal would have numerous things he could not know if he just began with himself as a limited, finite reference point.

Schaffer makes some salient points here that deserve to be brought up in the 21st century. While we do not disagree that revelation is also personal, we cannot flinch on the assault on propositional revelation. God has revealed himself to us, his nature and his acts, through propositional revelation (i.e. the Bible), and the implications of this truth is that we do not have the rights to reinvent or rename the God Who Is There. If we do not begin with God and his revelation, Schaeffer is correct to conclude that there are many things we could not know about God based on such a limited, finite reference point as ourselves. It is no coincidence that, at the time of Schaeffer’s publishing of this book (1972), John Hick was advancing his pluralistic hypothesis which argued for the ineffability of the “Real” which argued that one cannot know anything about God as he is (ding an sich). Adapting the Kantian model of the noumenal and phenomenal worlds, Hick argues that God (“Real”) has not and cannot reveal himself truly and definitely; furthermore, it is impossible to know anything at all about the Real (except that it is ineffable and that it exists which is something he claims to know). The result when God is not the beginning, the reference point, the apriori grounds of knowledge and revelation, then knowing and defining God is a free-for-all to anyone who wants to postulate their phenomenological interpretations as religious truth. Schaeffer concludes his little article with this important paragraph in which he said:

“The importance of all this is that most people today (including some who still call themselves evangelical) who have given up the historical and biblical concept of revelation and infallibility have not done so because of the consideration of detailed problems objectively approached, but because they have accepted, either in analyzed fashion or blindly, the other set of presuppositions. Often this has taken place by means of cultural injection, without their realizing what has happened to them” (349, emphasis added).

In the days ahead, I hope to share how propositional truth is foundational to personal truth and give a few examples of the redefinition of revelation in contemporary contexts.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

His Face Shine Upon You

While I was converting this image from RAW to JPEG, I was looking at it, and it reminded me of those powerpoint slides at church normally used before or after the service. So I thought I would give it a try.

{Click to enlarge}
So tell me, honestly. Is this total cheese? I admit, I need to get better at Photoshop. I am not a graphics designer but a novice photographer, so I need to play around with PS more (like I have the time!). Oh well, for shame or game, there it is.

Quick Hits :: July 25, 2006 :: Supersized Again Edition

* This week, Tom Ascol is writing a series on "Confessional Integrity and Theological Education". Contrary to the alcohol resolution, I believe this is a real issue in the SBC that needs to be addressed. When professors believe they have the interpretive rights to subscribe whatever meaning they want to certain confessional articles, a real crisis is at hand. Here is part one and part two thus far. Part three is forthcoming later this week. * Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship recently came out with their statement on the Emergent Church. Mark Driscoll mentioned, "I will not comment on the statement other than to say the concerns are real and shared by many including myself. " (HT: Resurgence). * Jason Engwer of Triablogue fame gives some great quotes from Early Christians concerning belief in a hell of eternal consciousness. That reminds me that I need to get back to reading some of the early patristics! * Ingrid Schlueter of Slice of Laodicea shared about a Baptist church in the state of Georgia that sponsored an ice-cream social for the Muslims at the mosque across the street. Check out this quote: "This will lead us to have good relations in the future," Imam Riyadh Thabitah said. "All God's creation...we have to respect each other. We are followers of the same God. Each of us have different rules to follow." This is why I have made religious pluralism one of my greatest theological foci! * Was Martin Luther King Jr. a heretic? Go see for yourself. James White reminds us that indeed, theology does matter. Non-Trinitarian, denial of substitutionary atonement, denial of man's deadness in sin, detestation of the sovereignty of God? Sheesh. * Gary Gilley, pastor of Southern View Chapel, has written three in-depth articles on the Emerging Church. For anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of the movement, let me encourage you to check these articles you. Here they are: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. * My Sunday School teacher and SBTS prof, Dr. T.J. Betts, was in northern Israel when the Hezbollah attacks first took place. He was part of an archeological dig in Tel Hazor, Israel. Garrett Wishall, also a member of our church, wrote an article which appeared in Baptist Press last week in which Dr. Bett's shares some of his experience (we got the long version in SS because I was that inquisitive guy who HAD to ask). His most famous line, however, has to be when he said, Wow, look at that,' referring to explosions taking place in Tiberius (where they had arrived after being evacuated from the dig). Gotta love that technical language! Really, that's why I love Dr. Bett's so much! * Many of you are aware that last week, Steve McCoy killed the Missional Baptist Blog. However, I feel it necessary to give it props for the great job this blog did in networking fellow young Southern Baptists. I never pimped my blog or made the blogroll but found myself visiting it several times a week. It will be missed, but as Steve shared, it served its purpose. * Will Turner provides some quotes from Timothy George in the forthcoming release of First Things 165 (August/September 2006) concerning the place of Southern Baptists after the revolution. Five points Turner provides in George's piece concerning the aftermath of Greensboro include charismatics, "neo-Calvinists", Woman's Missionary Union, Baptist bloggers, and the "young moderates." Bottom line: the SBC is at a crossroads. * The Thirsty Theologian has chimed in on the alcohol resolution by providing two excellent articles dealing with Sola Scriptura, the SBC, and hermeneutics. They are: God Gave C2H60 - Introductory Comments and God Gave C2H6O - Sola Scriptura and the SBC. Quote: "Perhaps the most glaring deficiency of the SBC resolution is the atrociously amateurish hermeneutics. If this is a good example of the author’s exegesis and hermeneutics, I wouldn’t let them teach my five-year-old’s Sunday school class, let alone represent an entire denomination." (HT: JT). * Scott Hill points out what many of us have been attempting to emphasize on the alcohol resolution. It is not about alcohol - it's about Scripture. The dissent was not first made by moderationists but Bible-believing teetotalers who believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. We are not advocating anything except the Bible - period. * Joe Thorn recently provided a good quote from founding president of Southern Seminary, James P. Boyce, who spoke out against the resolution on alcohol in his day. Boyce concluded that a resolution against the consumption of alcohol “was not germane to the work of the convention.” (1888 Annual of the SBC, pp. 33-34). * What d'ya know? Another First Person article on the alcohol resolution. This time from Richard Land. If only we could get our leaders this outspoken on the defense and proclamation of the gospel! This makes me wonder where our passion really lies. * Baptist Press recently ran three articles on the 24th Annual Founders' Conference which I unfortunately was unable to attend. They are: Gospel will prevail despite churches that hide it, 'New Perspective' corrupts the Gospel at its heart, and Founders' Conference examines 'the Gospel of the grace of God'. I am delighted that BP (Jeff Robinson to be exact) covered the Founders' Conference this year as the Founders' Network has really become a considerable influence in the SBC in recent years. * Speaking of the Founders' Conference, the audio is now available at SoundWord.com. Be sure to check out sermons by Joe Thorn, Dr. Tom Nettles, and Dr. David Sills. * David Wayne (Jollyblogger) has decided that it is not time to walk a middle road with Rick Warren. He mentions Warren's involvement in Synagogue 3000 which I too have been critical of in the past. That reminds me: Does anyone find it funny that Warren didn't show up at Greensboro but somehow made it to North Korea? * Douglas Groothuis reminds us that it is never a bad time to recommend a few good books. Check out his categories and recommended books. I have greatly benefited from many of them! * Justin Taylor provides a list of articles written by Thabiti Anyabwile (and I thought Brister was hard!) about the things he has learned at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Also, it is worth noting that Anyabwile will soon be the pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman. Six years ago, I went with a group of students from the University of Mobile to help out with a Disciple Now as well as a Children's Camp at FBC Grand Cayman. This is a wonderful church! One memory I will never forget is that during that week, I preached my first expository sermon (the text was Luke 18:9-14). May the Lord continue to richly bless this church with Anyabwile as their pastor! I think that's it. Some good stuff going on in the blogosphere. Oh, and I will try to keep on updated on the Band of Bloggers. It is still in the works. - tnb

Monday, July 24, 2006

Old Testament Expository Preaching?

Last week, I had breakfast with a couple of brothers from UPS for prayer and theological discussion. While we left, one asked the question, "Can you name one solid expository preacher of the Old Testament?" We thought for a while and struggled to come up with any significant names. So I thought I would ask you the same question" "Do you know of any great expositors of the Old Testament?" One that comes to my mind is Dr. Steve Lawson, and another I mentioned was Phil Ryken. Of course, we did mention Lig Duncan and his great message from the T4G Conference about preaching from the OT. But as a follow-up question, can you give potential reasons why there is such a serious lacking of expository preaching from the Old Testament? Let me make a confession here. Before my first semester of seminary, I was the Marcionite concerning the OT. By that I mean, I chose to read and study certain books like Psalms, Proverbs, and of course Song of Solomon since every college student wanted to know about the love and dating imagery expressed therein. But could I tell you about 2 Chronicles, Amos, or Zechariah? No, not in the least bit. However, I am grateful for Dr. Daniel Block who helped me repent of my embarrassing neglect of God's revelation which I for so long neglected. To be a people and a denomination which so values the inerrancy and inspiration of God's Word, we cannot preach and teach 1/4 of it alone. We also cannot treat the other 3/4 with leadership lessons or biographical summaries either. For instance, the lives of Abraham, Joseph, or Moses are not primarily about them biographically. They are about the God of Abraham, Joseph, and Moses preeminently! Yet, that seems to be neglected far too often. Let me share with you a portion of Dr. Block's first lecture to the Old Testament in which he called "The Trivialization of the Old Testament in Evangelical Preaching."

12 Symptoms of the Trivialization of the Old Testament in Evangelical Preaching

  1. Avoidance of the Old Testament.
  2. Walk-through-the Bible Approaches to the OT.
  3. The Illustrative Use of the OT.
  4. The Proof-texting Use of the OT.
  5. The Selective Use of the OT.
  6. The Biographical and Psychological Use of the OT.
  7. The Applicational Use of the OT.
  8. The Spiritualized Use of the OT.
  9. Reading the Old Testament Through New Testament Lenses.*
  10. The Christologizing of the OT.*
  11. Nonsensical Sloganizing of the OT.
  12. The Magical Use of the OT.

The asterisk (*) denotes two that are considered questionable by some theologians, but I think overall Dr. Block makes some excellent points in his outline. Dr. Block continues by sharing the reasons and effects such trivialization of the OT has upon evangelical Christianity. So back to my initial question and thoughts. Why is it that so many pastors neglect the Old Testament? Is it just not relevant enough? Are there not commentaries to compile sermon material? Since we are of the new covenant, is preaching from the old covenant unnecessary?

In our conversation, I recall one of my brothers sharing with me that the reason why John Piper does not preach from the OT expositorily is because he does not know biblical Hebrew. Due to his passion not to be a second-hander in his sermon preparation, Piper works with primary sources (that being the original texts) and does extensive work such as sentence diagramming, word study, etc. I admire that in Piper, but I think he would admit that his weakest point in his pulpit ministry is the absence of expository preaching from the Old Testament.

In conclusion, I would add that having a solid biblical theology (not systematic theology) is sorely lacking among even trained theologians. We can systematically present the doctrines of the faith from theology proper to eschatology but have a hard time presenting the redemptive history from Genesis to Revelation while giving due attention to the texts of the Old Testament with just as much labor and precision as we do in the New Testament.

So what are your thoughts? Has this entered your mind? Do you know of any great expositors of the Old Testament you can point me to? Any reasons why the OT is neglected among evangelicals who so emphasize sola Scriptura and the inerrancy of Scripture?

Bowling for a Turkey

This past weekend, my brother and sister-in-law came up to hang out with my wife and me. Besides grubbing at P.F. Chang's and Rocky's, we happened to go bowling (which I hadn't done in a long time). I grew up bowling with my dad and brother, so it was quite nostalgic to strap on those rental shoes, grease up my hands, and pretend like I know what I am doing (I sometimes watch bowling on Sunday afternoons on ESPN, but it's not that exciting). Anyway, I had an opportunity to get a Turkey on my second game, and my brother happened to catch me in the act:

Check out the form baby!
Oh, and I do get a little excited sometimes.
After such a feel-good experience, I was pondering about the possibility of doing this more often. Maybe some of my SBTS blogging friends and classmates would want to challenge me on the lanes? Any takers?

Friday, July 21, 2006

POTW :: 07.21.06 :: Peakaboo

{Click to enlarge}
Two days ago, my wife and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary. That morning (as I usually do when I get home from work), I took my dog out for a walk. As we made it to an open field, I gazed towards the east and was blown away by the sunrise. I made Hershey hurry up and poop, and we sprinted back to the apartment to grab the camera. The rays were simply amazing! Needless to say, that was a good day. However, I must say three years with my bride eclipses the best of these glimpses of beauty. I am a very blessed man. The two picks here is the sun peeking in and out of the clouds at around 6:30 a.m. This past week, I have uploaded several pics from our vacation at the beach, mostly of my nephew Logan (who experienced the beach for the first time). For any of you who care, I will be sharing about my plans to post about photography tomorrow. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
Here's the exif data for the photogs: Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 28-135mm IS USM Focal Length: varied Tv: varied Av: f/11.0 ISO: 200 WB: Custom (4700 K) See also Joe Thorn's, Steve McCoy's, Joe Kennedy's, Alex Forrest's, Matt Wireman's, Kevin Cawley's, and Laura Beth's Friday pics. For poetry and prose, check out Brent Thomas, and for church history, see William Turner.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Pseudo-Demarcation Line of Resolution No. 5 and the Shifting Sands of the SBC

Important Note: I realize that this is a LONG post (over 5,000 words). But please give it a fair hearing – and a full hearing. Thank you for taking the time to consider what I have to say as I hope that it can be profitable to the future of the SBC and our cooperative efforts in the spread of the gospel. Lord willing, this is my final post on this issue. I believe the SBC and the world around us is ready to move on.

Introductory Thoughts

I had originally decided to not post this piece in hopes that the alcohol issue would eventually die, but after reading this article, I feel it incumbent upon me to write this article. It’s a bit lengthy, but I can assure you it was not written in haste. Over a month has transpired since Greensboro, and the ultra-conservatives who have joined the blog world have made it their agenda to address the alcohol issue. Consider what Brad Reynolds said on his blog:

On a serious note, beginning this Wednesday, I will be posting some articles written by different leaders in the SBC, which may be very insightful to the ethical dilemma we are facing. I believe this issue deserves our attention and sober contemplation. Therefore I have asked the leaders of our Southern Baptist agencies, our current president, and two past presidents who helped lead the resurgence to write an article; each bringing their own clarion insights to this hot-button issue.
He then goes on to mention folks like Dr. Akin, Dr. Fish, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Phil Roberts, and Dr. Vines as already agreeing on this issue. We have already heard from Drs. Patterson and Akin, so there should be nothing new here. Furthermore, I do not expect to hear any more convincing arguments from the new contributors either (and I have heard a bunch already).

I am writing this article to argue that the alcohol resolution number five is a pseudo-demarcation line in the SBC. Over the past month, there has been a plumb line drawn in the shifting sands of the SBC over the issue of alcohol consumption, splitting conservatives over a nonessential matter. As you have seen SBC presidents and key SBC politicians are weighing in on the issue. However, I find it incredibly ironic and hypocritical that those in the SBC who are against this issue do not have the liberty to speak out against it. Just this week I heard of an SBC professor who publicly wrote his disagreement with the resolution. The response from some was, “What are you doing? Don’t you know that you can get fired for this?” The article was then removed. Furthermore, strong conservatives are being black-balled by the SBC because of their position on this issue. Within the accepted SBC ultra-conservatives you will find monolithic thought and one absolute interpretation. The scholars and pastors who disagree don’t chime in because, 1), they think this issue is silly and don’t want to, and 2), they can’t because the consequences they face in doing so are simply not worth it. The SBC is naïve and bullish to think that healthy discussion is possible when such suppression and domineering occurs on the one hand, and sneering and baseless rhetoric on the other. Furthermore, I have read dozens and dozens of comments from bloggers who are for this resolution, and after hearing their tone and sarcasm, I find myself distancing myself from those I actually agree with in practice. I would rather associate with a humble, godly brother who drinks wine than 99% of those making the abstinence arguments on the blogosphere. Call be drunk or label me liberal, but I have seen Jesus honored and the Bible expounded (that being ALL the Biblical data, not just the ones that supports one’s position) by my brothers in the moderation camp in a way that I simply have not among the total abstinence proponents.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times when it is prudent to draw a line in the sand over certain issues. The question is whether the dividing line is legitimate and carries sufficient grounds for doing so. In the case of the alcohol resolution, the case for moderation and total abstinence are both biblically argued, and BOTH can be reasoned and explained biblically. The rub comes when one position seeks to trump the other as in this case the total abstinence crowd (BTW I am a teetotaler) has done with the moderation crowd.

Why Demarcation?

So what is the point in having such a demarcation? According to Merriam Webster, a demarcation is “a delimiter which seeks to fix or define the limits or determine the boundaries of an entity.” It is absolutely necessary to define limits and determine boundaries as was shown in the ministry of Paul. Clearly there were some who Paul admonished that believers should “mark” off and avoid fellowship with, including false teachers and those who have “shipwrecked their faith” or “swerved from the truth” (see Rom. 16:17-18; Gal. 1:6-9; Phil. 3: 17-19; 2 Thess. 3:6-12; 1 Tim. 1:18-20; 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 3:1-9; 4:14-15; Titus 1: 10-14; 3:10-11). There were many who walked as “enemies of the cross”, who attempted to “preach another gospel” or pervert the ways of the righteous or claimed to have a secret, mystical knowledge of God. Therefore throughout the formation of the Church in NT times, drawing the line and determining the boundaries was absolutely necessary—but it was always over an essential matter of the Christian faith.

Throughout church history, as the faith was more precisely articulated, the practice of via negativa was as important in their denials of heresies as were the affirmations of orthodoxy. Ergo, the development of creeds and confessions were the universal agreement of a unified orthodoxy. Whether it was the Nicene Creed, the Definition of Chalcedon, or the Baptist Faith and Message, the essential doctrines and beliefs were affirmed while at the same time false teachings and false witnesses were definitively and unapologetically rejected.

But here we are in 2006 – 27 years after the Conservative Resurgence. We have reaped the blessings of a conservative convention now that stands on the inerrancy of the Word of God, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, and the priority of missions and evangelism to reach our world. I have tremendous respect for those who were instrumental in bringing about such a reformation; however, I am afraid that those who have fought so hard on a worthy hill to die upon are seeking new hills and a new fight. Some have found that fight against Calvinists, and others have now found the issue of alcohol. Let’s be totally up front. This is not a debate of conservatives versus liberals. This is conservatives against conservatives, and what is at stake is the definition and delineation of what biblical conservativism really is.

Necessary and Unnecessary Demarcation: A Lesson from the Ministry of Paul

For the past month, what I have seen taking place is an unnecessary division based on a pseudo-demarcation determined by an illegitimate dividing line. Just as it is necessary to defend orthodoxy from liberalism, it is equally as necessary to defend it from ultra-conservativism. This was the threat Jesus faced as we as the NT apostles. I would say the conservative threat of the Judaizers and Pharisees was far more subtle and deceptive than the outright attacks of Gnostics and Stoics. The case is no different today. Let me give two examples in the ministry of Paul that explains a necessary and unnecessary demarcation:

1. Necessary Demarcation: Galatians 2:11-14

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

The book of Galatians is a powerful case for the gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of the cross, and justification by faith. All three of these core beliefs were being comprised in Galatia by the influence of Judaizers who sought to add circumcision as a necessary qualification for one being saved. These Judaizers were involved in causing Galatians to “quickly desert” the God who had called them by the grace of Christ, so much so that Cephas (Peter) had bought into their party. Paul rightly drew a line of demarcation because of what was at stake and called Peter a hypocrite who “stood condemned.” This was an attempt to “nullify the grace of God (2:21) and cause believers to boast in their circumcision rather than in the cross of Jesus Christ (6:13-14). With this dividing line and confrontation of Peter and the “circumcision party,” Paul was restating that “it was for freedom Christ has set us free” (5:1) and that they should not submit themselves to a yoke of slavery. If they do, Paul argues, “Christ will be of no advantage to you” (5:2). As you can see, this is without question a necessary demarcation. What was at stake was the gospel of Jesus Christ, the grace of justifying faith and imputed righteousness, and the glory of the cross. It doesn’t get any bigger than this.

2. Unnecessary Demarcation: Acts 15:36-41

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Barnabas, cousin to John Mark (Col. 4:10), kept insisting to Paul that they should take him along with them on their journey. Paul, having been frustrated by John Marks earlier failure (at Pegra cf. Acts 13:13), had no confidence in him and did not want to take him. This resulted in a “sharp disagreement” in which their partnership in the gospel was dissolved “amicably but with violent emotions” (MacArthur 2:82). So was this dividing line necessary? Some may argue yes, but it is worth noting that John Mark, because of the encouragement ministry of Barnabas, later became a co-laborer in the gospel with Paul later on (Philemon 24; 2 Tim. 4:11; Col. 4:10) and eventually wrote one of the four gospels. F.F. Bruce writes, “It was a pity that the present dispute was allowed to generate such mutual provocation, but in the providence of God it was overruled for good, for in the upshot there were two missionary expeditions this time instead of one” (NICNT, 319). Therefore, looking back in light of providence and history we would say it was necessary, but Barnabas and Paul were not privied to this information.

Resolution No. 5: A Pseudo-Demarcation

Now, going back to the alcohol resolution, let me explain why I believe this resolution is a pseudo-demarcation. I have seven reasons:

1. The alcohol resolution is an attempt to parade a nonessential, obscure, and peripheral matter as the essential to cooperation and a litmus test for true conservativism.

Let me quote Carl F.H. Henry (from his book The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism) again from my earlier post in which he said:

What concerns me more is that we have needlessly invited criticism and even ridicule, by a tendency in some quarters to parade secondary and sometimes even obscure aspects of our position as necessary frontal phases of our view . . . it is needful that we come to a clear distinction, as evangelicals, between those basic doctrines on which we unite in a supernaturalistic world and life view and the area of differences on which we are not in agreement while yet standing true to the essence of Biblical Christianity . . . Unless we do this, I am unsure that we shall get another world hearing of the Gospel (emphasis mine) (xvi-xvii).
What we have done in the past month is parade a nonessential issue as essential to cooperation. Total abstinence has become the litmus test for true SBC conservativism and the boundary for cooperation. This is tragic in many ways, not the least of which is, as Henry says, doing stuff like this causes us to lose a world hearing of the Gospel. As I watched the live video stream of Greensboro, one could not help but hear over and over again the emphasis on missions, evangelism, and taking the gospel to the world. Whatever happened to that focus? Cooperation? Passion? Where we were once centered our attention on reaching the unreached people groups of the world, we have now centered our attention on the unreached arguments for total abstinence. Where we should be focusing on essential matters of our faith and denomination which are being threatened by our world, false doctrine, and compromise, we are debating over the percentage point of NT wine based on speculation and conjecture. Let us listen to Henry and “come to a clear distinction . . . between those basic doctrines on which we unite.” Alcohol certainly is no basic doctrine (and it isn’t a doctrine contrary to what some are arguing).

2. The alcohol resolution is seeking to equivocate social conservativism with theological conservativism, which is instable and inconsistent at best and fallacious at worst.

There are many manifestations of conservativism. There are political conservatives, social conservatives, philosophical conservatives, theological conservatives etc. However, as a Christian, what fundamentally determines what a conservative is through what one believes concerning the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. For instance, a theological conservative is one who holds to the inerrancy of the Bible, the exclusivity of the Christian faith, the reality of hell, justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and a conscious commitment to the evangelization of the world through gospel witness. This is not comprehensive of course, but simply serves to show what theological conservativism constitutes in part.

Social conservativism includes various issues as the standing against divorce, homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, cloning, pornography, etc. There are certain social sins which the Scriptures have specifically addressed, but there are others where the Scripture is silent. There is nowhere in the Bible that says drinking wine is a sin. Drinking alcohol cannot be lumped into these evils simply because one consumes it in moderation. Drunkenness, of course, is sinful as much as gluttony as is gossip as is quarreling. But moderation and drunkenness are as distinct and different as the use or misuse of food consumption.

Furthermore, we cannot elevate social conservativism to the level of theological conservativism lest we develop so many artificial demarcations that no one can cooperate with one another. For instance, if I took the same stance with gluttony, from what I have seen in Greensboro, there would be many who would be disqualified from service and cooperation in the SBC—and you know this is the truth.

3. The alcohol resolution is “Made in America” and thereby reveals its culturally conditioned stipulations apart from the sufficiency and authority of Scripture.

Notice the title of the resolution: “On Alcohol Use in America.” I addressed this already over at Joe Thorn’s blogpost in which I said the following:

I thought it was interesting to note that the resolution is explicitly called “On Alcohol Use in America”. This is intriguing to me because they have culturally and geographically conditioned a resolution by adding “in America.” What are we to conclude by this? Abstinence should be resolved in America, but moderation in say Europe where drinking wine is more accepted in that culture? My point is simply to note how intrinsically attached to culture this resolution has been made. It is “made in America.” But the SBC and Christians base their wisdom and convictions on the universally applied Word of God which speaks to every culture and geographic region in the world. To say that the Scripture calls for abstinence in the United States and not elsewhere is contradictory in application. So why not draft a resolution that is unconditionally universal in its scope and not relativize it to the United States? Here’s the answer IMO. The resolution itself reveals itself culturally and geographically contingencies which displace the Word of God and its sufficiency for “life and godliness” through faithful instruction and universal application. While there are many things I like that are “made in America,” this unfortunately isn’t one of them.

4. The alcohol resolution is but the picking and choosing of social sins to the dismissal or even applause of others.

At Greensboro, one of the highlights was the speech given by Secretary of State Condi Rice. Now, given that she is a fellow Alabamian and has overcome so much to arrive where she is, I have much respect admiration for her. However, it is no secret that she is “pro-choice” regarding the unborn. I do not know of a greater issue that invokes more emotion and commitment from socially conservative Christians than defending the rights of the unborn. But you would not think it at Greensboro. As Mrs. Rice came to speak, American flags were waved and thunderous applause came forth from the masses in applause. This to a political leader who supports abortion! Is this not hypocritical?

As Derek Webb has said, we are trading sins for others which are easier to hide. Why alcohol? Why not divorce? Why not pornography? Why not gossip? I assure you there are hundred times more families and churches destroyed by these social sins explicitly condemned more sinful in Scripture than the “recreational” use of alcohol.

5. The alcohol resolution has lead proponents to develop arguments which are not in Scripture but regard them nonetheless equally as authoritative.

Several SBC proponents of this resolution have argued for what is “best” or “ideal” for the Christian. However, such wisdom cannot be unqualifiedly universally applied. What is wise in one situation may not be wise in another. An excellent example of how proponents have leaped Scripture and deduced logically their argument is the argument of Dr. Patterson on John 2:1-11. Consider what he said:

In Jesus’ miracle at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11), one can neither affirm with certainty that Jesus turned the water into a non-intoxicating wine nor that He drank no wine Himself. But the following evidences cannot be easily bypassed: -- The text nowhere indicates that Jesus participated. Either way the argument is from silence. (emphasis mine)

Given that no one can with certainty make determinative conclusions about this text since arguments are made from silence, one must assume that Dr. Patterson would follow his own advice. But he does not. He goes on to say:

From a standpoint of logic, the "oinos" that Jesus produced was more likely pure, rather than fermented, grape juice, since that which comes from the Creator’s hand is inevitably pure. (emphasis mine)

There you have it. In one breath, Dr. Patterson argues that no conclusive or definitive statements can be made and then immediately follows with one! I can make a lot of arguments from the standpoint of logic in this passage and others such as Ephesians 5:18. Why couldn’t the oinos in Ephesians 5:18 be the same in John 2? Paul clearly says that we should not get drunk with wine. Logically speaking, this must include the possibility that the wine made could get one drunk, lest this admonition be baseless. For a clear and comprehensive rebuttal to Dr. Patterson’s article, check out Concerned SBCer.

6. The alcohol resolution was immediately seen to be an attempt to remove (or at least an attack) Wade Burleson.

After the resolution was brought to the floor, the amendment that adds the language “we urge that no one be elected to serve as a trustee or member of any entity or committee of the Southern Baptist Convention that is a user of alcoholic beverages” was added (emphasis mine). Now, I do not want to contribute to the conspiracy theories which abound (many have argued this to be true), but it is true that many in the SBC are upset with Burleson, his blogging, and his position on alcohol. One might argue that if the IMB can’t get rid of him, then maybe this resolution could be plan B. Either way, both are representative of the very thing Burleson is working hard against—the narrowing of cooperation in the SBC.

7. Finally, someone’s personal preference on the matter of alcohol cannot be elevated to the status of a resolution when there is no Biblical precedence.

It is a personal preference of mine to abstain from drinking alcohol. Yet I cannot biblically argue that those who drink in moderation are not pursuing godliness because they do not conform to my standards. Where should we go with this? How about hair touching the ears? A suit on Sunday morning? You may choose to dress and look such, but there is just as much prohibition against the consumption of alcohol in moderation as there is the articles of clothing I wear. As Nathan White has said, “If you see total abstinence as anything more than a personal preference, then you undoubtedly begin to look down on others who do not follow your ‘conviction’. You will undoubtedly convince yourself that your abstinence is a mark of your obedience and holiness. Your adherence to a rule will only blind yourself further to the real sins of your heart.” Mark Lauterbach adds, “We have no right to bind the conscience of others by adding to the Word of God.” Simply put, where there is no biblical precedence, you cannot push your preference and make it law.

Concluding Thoughts and Personal Appeal

Let me conclude with a few personal remarks. I appreciate the concern of my fellow teetotalers concerning the dangers of alcoholism today. I too have experienced some heartache and pain brought about by ruined and even lost lives. However, we must be clear about something. The real problem is the human heart and its depravity, not alcohol. If we really want to address this issue of alcohol, let us address the human heart and trust the Holy Spirit to do his convicting work without our Pharisaical tendencies to do it our own way. As John Piper said,

“The enemy is sending against us every day the Sherman tank of the flesh with its cannons of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. If we try to defend ourselves or our church with peashooter regulations we will be defeated even in our apparent success.” (Emphasis mine)

What has this resolution accomplished? I don’t know exactly. Maybe the power brokers want a resolution like this to act as catalyst to rally the conservative base because of the events which took place. It was my guess that those who have been in control of the SBC and its future so far have felt threatened by SBC bloggers, and it makes sense that so many have joined the blogging world and using folks like Brad Reynolds to propagate their positions. Maybe.

But what I do know is that the three favorite words of the Pharisees was, “Is it lawful?” And Jesus’ favorite response to them was, “Woe to you, hypocrites! Now I am not calling proponents of this resolution modern-day Pharisees or legalists, but there is a real danger they are facing which they must answer. As Thorn said, “You can’t raise a generation of men and women on the infallible/inerrant word of God and expect them to remain comfortable while introducing extra-biblical law and denying our Christian liberty.” Our conviction on the sufficiency of Scripture should cause us to rest in God’s complete revelation in the Word of God written and the Word of God Incarnate. Where Scripture is silent, we must not speculate.

The other day I was thinking about the work guys at the Together for the Gospel are doing in bringing brothers together across denominational lines with a confessional identity that centers on the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is truly a beautiful thing! I cannot tell you how many brothers I have met from across several denominations who have immensely encouraged me in their words and walk. Now, juxtapose that picture with the alcohol resolution in the SBC. We are a convention being divided over such a pathetic issue as that of alcohol. We could learn some lessons from the T4G guys. Where they have learned to come together for the sake of the gospel, we have learned to be divided for the sake of alcohol. There could not be a more stark contrast than this!

There are three “all’s” which I try to think of regularly during my day. They are, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do ALL (everything) in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17), and “I do ALL things for the sake of the gospel, that I may be a fellow partaker of it” (1 Cor. 9:23). The glory of God. The name of the Lord Jesus. The gospel of Jesus Christ. These three we should do in all things, including what we eat and drink. Do I believe someone can drink wine in moderation to the glory of God? Yes I do. Jesus did.

I long for the day when Baptist Press’ First Person articles are confessions about our triumphalistic attitudes and denominational arrogance wherein we publicly repent of our pride. I long for the day when we point the fingers at ourselves and face the music by making resolutions on our need for reformation and revival. I long for the day when we forge new partnerships for the sake of the gospel and cooperate together for the glory of Christ. I long for the day when we can actually address that issues that exist rather than trying to develop one that doesn’t.

I hearken back the Apostle Paul in my concluding thoughts. At one point in his ministry, he drew a line in the sand over the issue of John Mark because of his weaknesses or ministry failures. I wonder if he pondered this during his missionary travels. Maybe he watched the ministry of Barnabas who encouraged John Mark along the way. I happen to think he did and was better for it. In a letter to Philemon, he makes an affectionate and bold appeal to him on behalf of Onesimus (which means “useful”) whom he called “my child” which he fathered while in prison. Onesimus was at one time useless to Philemon, maybe as Paul at one time thought John Mark was useless. But he is now making this appeal on behalf of Onesimus as “a beloved brother.” Paul expressed that his sending of Onesimus was the “sending of my heart” and Philemon should “receive him as you would receive me.” Paul, in his last days while imprisoned, was laboring as a spiritual father to raise up a generation after him who would partner for the gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew that his life was being “poured out as a drink offering” and that his time of departure had come. Where he at one time was divisive to the exclusion of John Mark, he is now cooperative to the inclusion and promotion of Onesimus.

This past Sunday, Dr. Danny Akin preached a very encouraging message about running the race and mentioned a hilarious story about him running as clean as possible, which included him running with no underwear. He mentioned that if we are going to run with endurance for the prize before us, we must focus on Jesus and follow his lead. Dr. Akin’s words are timely for the SBC. Let us lay aside the alcohol resolution like we did with the Disney Boycott, because this one will in the end prove to be as fictional as the latter. My friends, this is the underwear of the SBC, the weight that is hindering us from moving forward. To a very divided Corinthian church that faced far greater issues than we are facing today, Paul concludes with these words:

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).

Let us, dear brothers, whether you are for or against this resolution take to heart these loving words of admonition from one who experienced them in his own life. The resolution is a pseudo-demarcation in the shifting sands of the SBC. We need to get back the solid rock of Christ and take our stand, hand in hand, lest we face the sobering reality that we have failed to finish the race.

>> Special thanks to those of you who proofread and edited this article. You know who you are. In the transfer of this post to Blogger, formatting errors occured which are beyond my expertise. My apologies.

My articles on the alcohol resolution

  1. SBC Priorities: Alcohol over Integrity in Church Membership
  2. A Confession from Drinking Too Much Welch's Grape Juice
  3. Breaking News In Greensboro . . . Gluttons Don't Drink Alcohol
  4. Conservatism ≠ Legalism? Seeking for Definition and a Defense for Conservatism
  5. The ‘Uneasy Conscience’ of a Modern Southern Baptist
  6. Speaking of Christian Liberty
  7. Samuel Bolton on Maintaining Christian Liberty
  8. Dr. Danny Akin on Alcohol . . . and a Response from Joe Thorn

 
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I have a special request for you to pray about. In the past, I have mentioned that there is a prominent member of the national parliament from my area of work whom I have been trying to make contact with. He is possibly the leading voice in this country calling for Shariah (holy/Islamic) law to be imposed. Three times I have visited his village home, and not caught him. The last two times I have taken my wife with me. The email message I sent out about a month ago concerning the difference having Jessica with me when making evangelistic visits was after being at this man's house. Twice she has been inside and shared the gospel with the women of his home. Today I was able to make contact with him by phone, and learned that he would be in our home town tomorrow. He invited me to visit a local madrassa (Islamic school) where he is on the board of directors. That will be Tuesday morning in the USA.

Here is how you can pray specifically:

1) I am not sure if I will be able to take my family inside the school or not. Whatever happens, ask the Lord to use my wife and kids to destroy any false understandings about Jesus that western culture has produced. In Islam, the women of the family carry the weight of holiness for the entire family. That is why the dress and conduct of women is so important. As the Scripture says, "those who won't listen to the word...will be won without a word, by the holy conduct of the wives." God has given me a large, and currently young, family for such a time as this.

2) Pray for a heart which has probably never felt the Holy Spirit to perceive the presence of the Lord. Ask that ears who have never been able to appropriately hear the gospel, because of the lies of Islam, would be sharp to hear. "It is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven...but with God all things are possible."

3) Ask that I have wisdom to know how to approach sharing with him. Normally with leaders I share pretty openly, with respect and firmness. I may only get one chance with a member of parliament. It is difficult for a large leader to make heart felt decisions in public. If tomorrow is my only chance to talk to him, then he is going to have to listen. However, if there is a better setting in which to approach him with such serious issues, then ask that I have the perception to see how the Spirit is moving. 4) Hospitality and formality is overwhelming in some of these situations. At times they are a distraction. Pray that these things would not get in the way.

Thank you for keeping our missionaries in your prayers. On another note, last night I spoke with another brother who recently returned from serving two years in one of holiest cities in India. I am scheduling an interview with him in the near future and will be posting it here on P&P.|W|P|115435933214651064|W|P|Another Update and a Request for Prayer|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/29/2006 06:44:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|

I said I was going to do this for some time now. I am starting a new series of posts dealing with photography and everything related to it. First, let me make a few statements and a disclaimer.

Personal Disclaimer

I am NOT a professional photographer and don’t pretend to know much of anything (I realize that may discredit everything I said henceforth, but I don’t want to mislead you). However, what I do know, I would like to share with others in hopes that it might fuel good discussion and maybe assist others who want to develop their own photography style. So if you stumble upon this post expecting to hear from someone who graduated with a photography degree in some elite school, I am sorry, but I am not your man. But if you want to talk photography from someone who is learning along with you, then by all means, let’s talk.

This post is dedicated to the topic about my belief that, if you can, you should go D-SLR. Before I got into photography last year, my only cameras were disposable. I had no education or photography experience whatsoever. My first camera was a Canon 20D which I chose after spending about two months educating myself on what I figured would be the best buy and would challenge me in creativity, technique, and personal style. As a dedicated (or so I like to think) student at school, I needed a release and hobby to take my mind off things, so I chose photography to be that outlet. Since the purchase of my camera last year, I have taken about 15,000 images which have included around 15 weddings and numerous other occasions. Needless to say, I am really enjoying my new hobby.

So what is a D-SLR anyway?

Well, SLR stands for “single lens reflex” which means there is a mirror behind the lens which reflects light coming into the camera. As the shutter button is pressed, the mirror lifts up out of the way to allow light to be read by the camera sensor. Traditionally, the light is read on film, but in the digital world, the light is read on a CCD or CMOS sensor. One of the features of some D-SLR’s is “mirror lock-up” which locks the mirror and removes and possible shake which comes when clicking the shutter button (you have to press the shutter button twice to capture the image).

In a very short and simple fashion, let me share four reasons why I believe you should go for a D-SLR camera if you are in the photography world:

  1. Affordability

Two things I want to point out here. First, if you buy a point-and-shoot camera that is a real budget saver, you might get everything you want. BUT, if you love taking great photos and want to be challenged to do more, you will quickly be disappointed and wish you had purchased a SLR camera. Therefore, it may end up being more expensive going the cheaper route first and attempting to upgrade later. Going D-SLR first gives you ample opportunity to expand and grow in your photography skills. Imagine getting a PC that only offers USB 1.1, Pentium 2 processor, 4 GB memory, and only a floppy drive. Sure, it will do some functions and save a lot of money, but you are limited because of its capabilities and will end up spending a bunch of money later buying more hard drive, memory, external CD/DVD roms, etc. Get the point?

Now, the good thing is that D-SLR’s have become really affordable in recent years (especially compared to the past). For instance, one can enter in the D-SLR world by purchasing a body for under $500. This is truly remarkable, especially that the newer, high end point-and-shoot cameras are already exceeding that price. Bottom line: more people are being able to consider D-SLR’s because of the affordable and reasonable prices available today. If you are already wanting a nice digital camera and willing to spend a couple hundred dollars, why not save a little more, do yourself a favor, and get a camera with many more functions and capabilities that a regular point-and-shoot camera can offer? That’s my second point.

  1. Functionality

Having a D-SLR allows you to do many more functions than a normal camera. For instance, you are able to manually control the settings including your ISO speed, aperture, and shutter speed. You can prefer shutter priority (Tv) or aperture priority (Av) settings or go totally manual (which I shoot only). Furthermore, there are many other, more advanced functions on the camera settings such as select focus, white balance bracketing, card formatting, long exposure noise reduction, mirror lock up, shutter curtain synchronization, and ISO expansion just to name a few. In addition, you can customize your camera buttons as well (for instance, I have one button to focus and another for exposure). As you can see, these functions and options are simply not available on your normal camera, and the fraction increase of cost will open the door for you to explore all these and more.

  1. Creativity

This is probably the greatest benefit for owning a D-SLR camera. Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot draw. I do not have an artistic bone in my body. However, having a D-SLR camera, my creative juices are allowed to flow as I envision what I want to shoot. For instance, the BULB option allows you to do a myriad of things. BULB is the shutter speed manually operated after the 30 second exposure reading. This allows you to shoot long (really long) exposures which open you to the world of night photography. If you want to play with light, you can grab a flashlight and paint graffiti on a wall or tree for fun. On the other end of shutter creativity, you can speed up the shutter to capture things in mid-air, such as a spilled glass or the splash of a waterfall. Were I to mention all the creative options available in the D-SLR world, you would think I am Gene Bridges working on my next dissertation!

  1. Versatility

Finally, D-SLR’s offers incredible versatility. For example, the best and most versatile feature of D-SLR’s is the option of interchangeable lenses. Over a long period of time, you can have a multiple lens set-up which includes telephoto, wide-angle, prime, macro, and even fish-eye lenses. Also, some lenses shoot faster than others which give you the advantage of shooting in low light without compromising clarity and getting too much noise (shooting at high ISO speeds). In addition, great depth-of-field can be achieved (when working with aperture), and if one is using zoom, multiple options are available (such as spinning or zooming while exposing). Other versatile features include the many accessories that allow for even greater fun, such as external flash, vertical battery grip, lens filters, wired remotes, and offshoe cords for external flash. Finally, with the purchase of some D-SLR cameras, digital editing software is included in the package which can assist you in post-production.

Conclusion

As you can see, I believe there are many reasons why going D-SLR is worth your consideration. If you take photos but don’t consider photography as a hobby or interest, it may be best that you NOT go the D-SLR route. But if you do love photography, have a desire to push your creative juices, and willing to make the investment, then what are you waiting for? In my next post, I will give two examples (Canon and Nikon) how one can have a complete D-SLR set-up for under $1400. I know that sounds rather expensive, but this idea would be laughed at in years past. For those of you hoping to hope into the D-SLR world, maybe this might be a little help.

|W|P|115417359727173098|W|P|Why You Should Go D-SLR: Photography from P&P|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/29/2006 08:59:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Richard A. Bailey|W|P|Timmy,

Fun post. We recently purchased a Canon Digital Rebel XT and have had fun playing with it some (though by no means have we got even close to pushing its limits). I still carry my point-and-shoot with me from time to time, but I wholeheartedly agree that the SLR is the way to go.

On a side note, I too am from Athens, living in Louisville. Perhaps we can share a coffee or tea sometime at the Frankfort Ave. Heine Bros. I am generally free during the week (at least for another month or so).7/29/2006 01:29:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Richard,

Thanks for the comment man! Am I mistaken, or did you not also attend UM?

Dude I would love to get up with you sometime soon. I will try to contact you about that.

It's good to see some fellow Athenians in the blogosphere. Do you ever go back and visit?7/29/2006 04:15:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Richard A. Bailey|W|P|Yes, I also attended UM. Didn't mean to leave that out. Lived in House 12 before Slayton and others ruined our stellar reputation. Or, wait, maybe they salvaged our reputation.

We do get to Athens regularly, even though my immediate family has moved. In fact, we'll be there next weekend, using Athens as a base for a family gig we are attending on Saturday.7/29/2006 06:06:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Are you kidding? I will be in Athens as well next weekend. I will share this for the purpose of explanation but also a prayer request.

My wife's sister is having surgery next Wednesday at UAB. She has breast cancer and will be there for some time. She is only 31 and has two kids (which you probably have seen on my Flickr page). My wife and I will be keeping the kids a little bit and just being their for prayer, moral support, and running errands. If you think of it, please pray for her this week. Her name is Kerrie.

I work 3rd shift at UPS and will leave for Athens after work Saturday around 4:30 a.m. If you are intested, we could meet up for breakfast that day or some other time. If you don't mind, shoot me your email addresss at gospelcentral [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Oh, and I lived next door to the Slayton bunch for a year in 97-98 when I was a freshman. I was right next to the putting green. I must say that if the walls of House 12 could speak, some incredible stories could be told . . .7/29/2006 09:04:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Richard A. Bailey|W|P|Bounced an email your way, Timmy.

Oh, and based on my years in the house (which might make Slayton's pale in comparison) I think it's best if the walls of House 12 remained silent. Suffice it to say, we had way too much fun, most of which was legal in at least 43 states.7/30/2006 07:44:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Thanks Richard! 43 States huh? I wonder if Alabama was one of them . . .7/28/2006 08:19:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|
{Click to enlarge}
Yesterday, I posted that the 2006 Desiring God National Conference has a new blog, and for the past month or so, I have been looking for a good time to post some more of my Together for the Gospel pics. In light of the DG Conference, I thought I'd post this picture of John Piper from the T4G Conference. I believe this image encaspulates his untamed passion and relentless rigor in the pursuit of God's glory in expository exultation. When I listen to Piper (like I did this morning to his message on sex and the supremacy of Christ), I am reminded of the weight of glory, the gravitas of God. Apart from my father, of men living today, none has influenced me more to live with a passion (and panting) for Jesus than John Piper. Over the course of this weekend, I am going to publicly post images of Piper from the T4G conference that I have yet to release. All in all, expect about 20-25 images from his message at the conference. To go to my T4G Conference set, go here. TO go to my Flickr page, go here. To go to the DG 2006 National Conference, go here.
Here's the exif data for the photogs: Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 100-400mm IS USM Focal Length: 400mmTv: 1/320 sec Av: f/5.6.0 ISO: 1600 WB: Custom (3900 K) I in no way want to be exclusionary by not linking to everyone with a Friday special, but the number of participants is simply getting too big to link everyone. If you have a photo for the Friday Photo group, be sure to put it here. For poetry and prose, check out Brent Thomas, and for church history, see William Turner.|W|P|115409277603485624|W|P|POTW :: 07.28.06 :: passionofpiper|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/28/2006 09:12:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Nick Kennicott|W|P|Timmy: Are you going to be at DG2006? I will... let me know, we might be able to link up. I too am most influenced by Piper. His writing, and especially his preaching, are amazing... I am constantly challenged by his messages and have gone through several life changing experiences in my relationship with Christ through his words. I'm very excited for the DG conference this year - it should be outstanding.7/28/2006 03:27:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Nick,

Yes I am planning on attending the conference. I knew of the conference for some time, but when I say the trailor at the T4G Conference, I realized I need to change my plans. By changing my plans I mean that I decided not to go to Greensboro and this conference instead.

Yes, for me this is more than a conference. So many conferences I have been to has been either a preacher's circuit where popular preachers preach their sugar stick sermons to get everyone excited or a conference that is an offshoot of another one in the past. The T4G Conference and the DG Conferences stand out in my opinion.7/28/2006 05:36:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|Since today is Friday, the day when we post our photos and whatever else we do to fill empty space in the blogworld, I thought I'd mention a few things concerning the wonderful world of Flickr. 1. Instead of spending 20 mintues trying to find everyone's photos to link them to my POTW post, Kevin Cawley has done us all a favor and created a Flickr group where all the Friday Photos can be found. If you don't have a Flickr account, don't worry - it's free. To sign up, go here. To join the Friday Photo group, go here. I will be posting my Friday Photo later this afternoon. I will, by the way, continue the links which are not photo related such as the history by William Turner and poetry by Brent Thomas. 2. Flagrant Disregard has some really cool toys to place with, especially if you have Flickr. I recently posted a picture made by Scout which is a widget that finds all your photos that was ranked in the top 500 around the Flickr world for any given day. After 1600 photos posted, I had some 35 photos in Explore (give or take a few which roll on and off the list). Here's the photo in case you were interested (click to enlarge): 3. Last month, I had this strange feeling that I needed to start a game for my Flickr friends in Louisville. There is a group of photogs from Louisville totally about 125 people currently in the Louisville Flickr community. So I decided to start a came called "Where's Flicko?" The deal is simply this: someone takes a photo somewhere in the Louisville city limits and posts it in the thread without telling anyone where he/she was. The rest of us race to find that place, take the exact same picture, and post in on the thread. The first one to do it gets the largest number of points. All who post the identical pic afterwards gets additional points as well. Then another picture is posted, and the game recycles itself. Pretty silly, huh? Hey, I created it, so what do you expect? Well, if it flies and people like it, we are thinking about exporting it to the Flickr world at large, trying to have "Where's Flicko?" in multiple cities around the world. We'll have to see about that. 4. Finally, in light of the recent news about the DG National Conference, my mind went back to the fact that I have a TON of photos yet to post from the T4G Conference. I think you will like the ones I will post later today. Here's a one-word hint: passion. To view my Flickr page, go to Sola Lumina Captura. To view my T4G album, go here. To view my postcards and popular photos, go here.|W|P|115408448357181697|W|P|Flickr News for My Foto Friends|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/27/2006 07:42:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|(Alright, so I am on a roll today - this is my third post!)

When my wife and I came to Louisville almost two years ago, we left our families and the church which we served and became very close to many people. After the first couple of weeks of moving boxes and getting adjusted to the new location, we realized that we really did not know anybody here. It was the weirdest thing to go into the Wal-Mart a couple of miles away and not seeing someone we knew. We used to allot 30 extra minutes when going to Wal-Mart because we would inevitably end up in conversation with some we knew.

The last two years has been a wonderful journey for my wife and me. We have met some wonderful people to share our lives with, many whom are faithful servants in our local church (Ninth and O Baptist Church). I have also been greatly blessed by the edification and encouragement from fellow students at Southern who share similar passions and interests both in and out of the classroom. Then, in March of 2005, I started this blogging thing and have come to know many of you through interaction, email, and even meeting in person. The Band of Bloggers meeting a couple months ago was remarkable in that I was able to see, hug, and converse with many of you in person.

With that said, I have been thinking more and more about how I can effectively spend my time with the various people the Lord has graciously given my wife and me. The community of believers with whom I share my life is really important to me, and I want to network my life in a way that the greatest investment can be made into the ones I have been privileged to know and serve God with.

So I wanted to pose this question to you: How do you network?

Let me share with you how I have attempted to balance my time and strengthen the network of believers in my life. Here is a list that I drafted the other day:

  1. Wife and family - constitutes my family and my wife’s family
  1. Inner Circle (brotherhood) - constitutes about 12 brothers of kindred spirit whom I am very close to
  1. Church family and Louisville friends - constitutes my local church and friends from seminary
  1. Spiritual leaders and mentors - constitutes about six men whom I converse or meet with regularly
  1. Coworkers and unbelieving friends - constitutes the people whom I am actively sharing the gospel with
  1. Blogging brothers - constitutes the brothers I know through the internet
  1. OOT friends - constitutes friends I have known well and keep in touch in other parts of the world
  1. Disciples - constitutes a couple of guys I regularly invest in (disciple)
  1. New Contacts - constitutes new people I look forward to meeting

Given that I work 3rd shift, my schedule is a bit different than most of you. One might wonder how I get things done in a day. One answer is I usually have 3-4 more hours in a day than most people (meaning I sleep usually sleep from 7:30-12:00 p.m.). Anyway, at this point, here is how I try to balance my time and continue strengthening my relationships with those in this group:

  1. Wife and Family: My nights are free with my wife, and we visit our families about every 6-8 weeks.
  2. Inner Circle: I call these brothers at least once a week and usually schedule breakfast or lunch with 2-3 of them a week.
  3. Church family and Louisville friends: Of course, I am involved in our SS small group and other ministries in the church. Classmates I try to have lunch with during the semester. Occasionally, we have them over for dinner (and laundry if they are students on campus).
  4. Spiritual leaders and mentors: I usually converse via email or phone but meet up when necessary.
  5. Coworkers and unbelieving friends: I spend 20 hours a week with them. Almost daily I am meeting someone new and sharing my life with them. I also use Sunday nights to bring them to church with me and fellowship afterwards.
  6. Blogging brothers: Most my blogging is done from 4:30-6:30 a.m. That gives me sufficient time to interact with my brothers during a time when my wife is asleep (not to take away from our time together).
  7. OOT friends: Drive time is office time for me in which I make daily phone calls. I try to plan my phone calls in advance to make sure I am not overlooking or forgetting friends the Lord has blessed me with. I normally have about an hour driving daily, so this gives me plenty of time to have meaningful conversations.
  8. Disciples: Right now, they are not in Louisville, so my labors here are through phone, email, and visits.
  9. New Contacts: Always meeting new folks which is a joy for me.

So that’s pretty much how I do it. Got any suggestions? How do you plan your time, make your investments, build your network? I really would be interested in hearing advice for me or how you do it yourself.

|W|P|115404766666810021|W|P|Networking, Investments, and Community|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/27/2006 06:10:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P| Of all the blogs that seem to pop up almost on a daily basis, I don't think I have found one I am more pumped about than the new Desiring God 2006 National Conference blog. Several posts have already been made, and I think this blog will carry as much popularity (or more) than the T4G group blog. Go ahead and bookmark this blog as I am sure you find it profitable for your walk and witness. Oh, and from what I can tell, they allow comments. :) That said, I also received an email a couple of days ago from Scott Anderson @ Desiring God about the conference letting me know about some of the efforts being made to promote this conference. For those of you who have a blog and would like to promote the conference, you can go here and add a banner to your blog. I am not that technologically savvy, so I haven't added it yet. In the upcoming weeks, I will posting more details about the conference. In the meantime, I thought I'd let you know that I plan on reading David Wells' book Above All Earthly Pow'rs in the next two weeks. If any of you want to read along and discuss, I would enjoy the discussion. I have read No Place for Truth and God in the Wastelands already - two books which have profoundly impacted my life. I expect this book to be no less potent. To read more about the 2006 Desiring God National Conference, go here. To register for the 2006 Desiring God National Conference, go here.|W|P|115404288566377226|W|P|Desiring God 2006 National Conference BLOG|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/29/2006 10:07:00 AM|W|P|Blogger blake white|W|P|This is gonna be good!7/27/2006 03:31:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|This morning I received and email update from a dear friend serving in a militantly Muslim region of the world. I would like to share this with you to encourage you about what is going on around the world with our IMB missionaries and also ask you to remember them in your prayers. It is so easy to localize our prayers and requests with the world which we know, but there are incredible realities and requests that exist outside our zip code that we would be negligent to dismiss. I hope you are as encouraged by this report as I am. :) Friends, We can report to you some wonderful things that happened over the last month. For some time we have had you praying for the wife an electrician who had accepted Christ at the beginning of this year. He was baptized in Febuary. We had shared several times with his wife, without much progress. He also had been talking with her. Last week we took several members of a volunteer team to their house, and were able to lead his wife to Christ. There were three other ladies there who also believed, and say they are ready for baptism. This electrican is really on fire. As of yesterday he had led two other men in his neighborhood to faith, and I helped him baptize those two in the morning. That is the picture you see attached. Last night he came to my house and told me that he had led another man to Christ. In the book of Timothy, Paul urged his son in the faith to "lay hold of eternal life," ie, make it your own. That is exactly what has happened in the electrician's life. We basically have a church in the little area in which he lives. I just need to help them understand what a church is about, and what a body does. We have often reported to you of people coming to faith, but it has been more scattered and less organized. It is so rewarding to see people own the gospel for themselves, and run with it. So pray for us in our training them now. We need lots of wisdom. Don't think as you read this report that these people were accidentally saved. You all have been praying for this situation for some time. Thank you so much for your prayers. Shifting gears to another area we work in - Probably lots of you have, at some time in your life, either cut some wood, or seen someone do it. Sometimes, when you have a really large or strong piece of log you cannot cut it with only your axe. You have to take a wedge and use a sledge hammer to start the split in the wood. Last week we hosted a group of folks from the US. We went to a remote area that God has placed upon my heart, and shared with lots of the village leaders. We had three men and women believe in Jesus, and several more who seemed to be close. We will hopefully begin baptizing these within a week or two. One of the exciting things is that the majority of these people are influential in their villages. Pray for the gospel take root and spread in this area. Please rejoice with us for this wedge that has been driven in the community. Ask God to make the believers faithful witnesses in their homes, and areas. Ask him to form churches in these places so that the new believers will have the friends and support they need. It is an exciting time. Pray for us as we follow up on these things. May the Lord Jesus be famous in this place. Until He Comes, M (name removed) Let us lift our brothers and sisters up before the Lord in our prayers. Indeed, the Lord of the Harvest is drawing many to himself and using such prayers to accomplish His purposes throughout the earth!|W|P|115403291456554313|W|P|Great News from the Field|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/27/2006 03:58:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Steve Weaver|W|P|Great news indeed! Thanks for sharing it!7/26/2006 03:49:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|

In the appendix of his book, He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Francis Schaeffer wrote a little piece called “Is Propositional Revelation Nonsense?” Schaeffer explains that, “To modern man, and much modern theology, the concept of propositional revelation and the historic Christian view of infallibility is not so much mistaken as meaningless” (345). The 20th century came with many challenges to theological formulation, not the least of which was the assault on propositional truth and revelation. Such camps as existentialists and logical positivists attempted to remove religious truth from the reason and revelation while others sought to justify meaning, reality, and truth with other criterion of verification such as experience and perception. However, center to the Christian faith is the belief that God has spoken and revealed himself in the written Word of God. In this revelation, God used language as the medium to carry and convey biblical truths and realities. This is not to say that God has revealed himself exhaustively, but it does mean that he has revealed himself truly and definitively. Schaeffer makes two points which I would like to mention here:

  1. Even communication between one created person and another is not exhaustive; but that does not mean that for that reason it is not true.
  1. If the uncreated Personal really cared for the created personal, it could not be thought unthinkable for him to tell the created personal things of a propositional nature; otherwise, as a finite being, the created personal would have numerous things he could not know if he just began with himself as a limited, finite reference point.

Schaffer makes some salient points here that deserve to be brought up in the 21st century. While we do not disagree that revelation is also personal, we cannot flinch on the assault on propositional revelation. God has revealed himself to us, his nature and his acts, through propositional revelation (i.e. the Bible), and the implications of this truth is that we do not have the rights to reinvent or rename the God Who Is There. If we do not begin with God and his revelation, Schaeffer is correct to conclude that there are many things we could not know about God based on such a limited, finite reference point as ourselves. It is no coincidence that, at the time of Schaeffer’s publishing of this book (1972), John Hick was advancing his pluralistic hypothesis which argued for the ineffability of the “Real” which argued that one cannot know anything about God as he is (ding an sich). Adapting the Kantian model of the noumenal and phenomenal worlds, Hick argues that God (“Real”) has not and cannot reveal himself truly and definitely; furthermore, it is impossible to know anything at all about the Real (except that it is ineffable and that it exists which is something he claims to know). The result when God is not the beginning, the reference point, the apriori grounds of knowledge and revelation, then knowing and defining God is a free-for-all to anyone who wants to postulate their phenomenological interpretations as religious truth. Schaeffer concludes his little article with this important paragraph in which he said:

“The importance of all this is that most people today (including some who still call themselves evangelical) who have given up the historical and biblical concept of revelation and infallibility have not done so because of the consideration of detailed problems objectively approached, but because they have accepted, either in analyzed fashion or blindly, the other set of presuppositions. Often this has taken place by means of cultural injection, without their realizing what has happened to them” (349, emphasis added).

In the days ahead, I hope to share how propositional truth is foundational to personal truth and give a few examples of the redefinition of revelation in contemporary contexts.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2

|W|P|115394716964291825|W|P|Is Propositional Revelation Nonsense?|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/26/2006 10:06:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Shannon Mckenzie|W|P|Tim, thanks for this post. I would like to start out by admitting that most of it is over my head. For instance, I am not clear on what propositonal revelation means. So, please correct any misuses of words or phrases on my part. Having said these things, I will move on to my question.

This book by Schaeffer was published about a decade after a book titled Truth and Method, by Hans-Georg Gadamer. It was his life's work and much of it consisted of his desire to further the hermeneutic principles of his existentialist predecessors. So, does Schaeffer have a response for people like Gadamer who attack the reliability of the language itself? Or, is the article that you quoted from only dealing with those who question philosophically whether the character of God and the nature of revelation can be as it is described in Scripture? Another way for me to word the question, and with a lot less words at that, would be: Does Schaeffer address the problem as one of logic or hermeneutic? I am curious if he addressed his argument in that way in light of Gadamer's book, or at least the ideas expressed in it.

Thanks for your time. By the way, if you have called me, I have a new number now:
502-494-8814

sm7/27/2006 05:56:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Shannon,

First let me apologize for not having gotten in touch with you since our last correspondence. I long to fellowship with you brother.

Concerning Hans-Georg Gadamer, from what I could ascertain from a quick perusal of Schaeffer's works, I do not see that he interacted with Gadamer's work. However, Schaeffer did give particular attention to existentialist thinkers. For instance, let me point you to chapter 4 in Escape from Reason in which he addresses secular and religious existentialism as well as linguistic analysis. Also, another section to consider is Schaeffer's section on existential theology in the first chapter of his book, The Church Before the Watching World. One last place I could point you would be chapter two in his classic work, The Great Evangelical Disaster, which is called "Marking the Watershed." These three places, I think, could assist you in understanding how Schaeffer approached existential thinking and how it relates to Christian truth.

I believe the article found in the appendix was anecdotal and not intended to cover the issue with broad strokes but rather to argue for God's self-revelation as definitive, authoritative, and true in spite of the current attacks (such as an Inifinite God communicating to fallible, finite man). The reliablity of language as a carrier of religious truth is a main issue in the philosophy of religion and religious epistemology. Let me point you to John Frame's work, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God in which he addresses this issue in chapter 7 ("The Situational Perspective--Language as a Tool of Theology"). Also, it may be worth your time to check out C. Stephen Evans' book, Philosophy of Religion: Thinking About Faith, especially chapter 7 ("Problems with Religious Langauge"). Hey, I just noticed both chapters are "chapter 7". Let me hurry and find one more chapter 7 and we will have "7-7-7"!


. . . Oh well, it was worth about ten seconds researching.

Aha! Chapter 8 of Reason & Religious Belief (multiple authors) is called "Religious Language: How Can We Speak Meaningfully of God?"

Finally, I would be negligent if I left out the one and only Ronald Nash, who wrote in his book, The Word of God and the Mind of Man, a chapter called "Reason, Revelation, and Language" (Chapter 11). Two other sources to consider is Gordon H. Clark's Religion, Reason, and Revelation (P&R, 1963) and monumental work of Carl F.H. Henry's God, Revelation, and Authority. In conclusion, let me provide a quote form Nash in his chapter:

"Basic to the Christian world view is the presupposition that the human being is a creature who carries the image of God. Essential to this image is rationality, a rationality that reflects the rationality of God's own mind. Human language is adequate as a vehicle for divine revelation and for human communication about God because it is a divinely given instrument. God can therefore reveal truth about Himself through words. Thought exists behind language as its necessary condition. Communication is possible because the human creatures using language are enlightened by the divine Logos, are in possession of certain innate ideas" (120).

I hope this helps answer some of your questions and direct you in your studies.7/27/2006 06:23:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Oh, I think I did not adequately address the quesiton, "Does Schaeffer address the problem as one of logic or hermeneutic?"

I am not sure that I understand what you are asking, but until you give clarification, I will pontificate. :)

My guess is that the problem Schaeffer addressed was the rampant sceptism about human language advanced by neo-orthodox thinkers such as Karl Barth. In one sense, there is the argument that human language is an insufficient carrier or inadequate instrument of human communication. Others, like logical positivists, argued that it is impossible to prove that a proposition is true or faith because it cannot be empirically analyzed or substantiated through a scientific testing. Therefore all religious language or communication cannot carry statements with any truth value or meaning. Obviously, this is a full frontal on the inerrancy of Scripture (see J.I. Packer's chapter in the book Inerrancy called "The Adequacy of Human Langauge."

Schaeffer makes the point that God has chosen to reveal himself definitively through the Word made flesh (Christ, the Incarnate Word), and the written Word of God. His self-revelation consists of God choosing to disclose information about himself in a way that can be understood. Here the perspecuity of Scripture comes into play. The Bible is not some code for us to try to unravel, nor does it contain some hidden, gnostic meaning for some elite group of people. God has not left us to ourselves to attempt to conjure up some fancy notions to what the Creator of heaven and earth is like. Therefore, we are not the reference point in our understanding of God. God is. He is not silent!

So I would say that the problem lies in whether or not you believe that God has revealed himself personally and propositionally in a way that human beings can know and understand the God Who Is There. Some say this is impossible and argue that asserting a propositional statement ("God is good") cannot be true or false because it cannot sufficiently speak of God but rather my experience of God. Another might say, "God is evil." So who is right? Who has the right understanding/interpretation/perception?" The answer is what God has said is right. If God has not spoken, then we would be left to seeking validical criterion from fallible, fallen man which would be the seedbed of all kinds of erroneous formulations.

My mind is led back to Yahweh when he gave the Torah to the His people as a gift. Consider this amazing passage:

"See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?"

Deuteronomy 4:5-8

The peoples of the earth were jealous that the Israelites actually had a God who communicated His will to them! Their idols had mouths but did not speak, ears but could not hear, but the living God has no mouth but speaks and not ears but hears! The statutes, rules, and instruction (Torah) were God's self-disclosure showing the people what is right and pleasing to Him. He did not leaving them guessing what he wants or requires (unlike the idols of Baal and others). Such wisdom and understanding these laws and statutes before the peoples of the world attracted the world to such a people whose God was so real, so intimate, so personal that he would disclose himself the way he has. Now to think God has revealed himself through the Scriptures so plainly and clearly is a witness to the same God who is faithful to reveal His heart, His truth, and His righteousness in such a way that people are to be drawn to such a great and awesome God.

May we be a people who treasure the truths of God's Word and our Savior who is "the Truth" in such a way that people who be attracted to Jesus Christ and long to know him. In a world of doubt and uncertainty, one thing we can be sure . . .

He is There and He is NOT Silent.7/27/2006 07:59:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Shannon Mckenzie|W|P|Thanks for your time Tim. You are always inspiring and encouraging.

sm10/07/2006 03:05:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Paul (probably - maybe Liz)|W|P|I linked to you ....

The problem with "attacking the reliability of the language itself" is that the attack has to be done in the language - and is thus by its own definition unreliable. A serious relativist critique is unable even to support itself.10/07/2006 09:04:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Paul,

Thanks for the link and the interaction. I will be checking out your post soon.7/25/2006 08:52:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|While I was converting this image from RAW to JPEG, I was looking at it, and it reminded me of those powerpoint slides at church normally used before or after the service. So I thought I would give it a try.
{Click to enlarge}
So tell me, honestly. Is this total cheese? I admit, I need to get better at Photoshop. I am not a graphics designer but a novice photographer, so I need to play around with PS more (like I have the time!). Oh well, for shame or game, there it is.|W|P|115387960472235766|W|P|His Face Shine Upon You|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/25/2006 09:37:00 PM|W|P|Blogger ThirstyDavid|W|P|I'm not a big fan of Christianized art, but that is a truly amazing shot. The passage is appropriate. I vote not cheesy.7/25/2006 10:06:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Thanks David!

I too am not a big fan of Christianized art, and I guess that's my whole apprehension towards attempting this thing.

I really like Desiring God's treatment of photographs and Scripture insertions, and I think it can be done with excellence. But unfortunately, I have seen really poor attempts, and I don't want to contribute to that, lest I find my work being satirized on Purgatorio!7/25/2006 10:10:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Nick Kennicott|W|P|Timmy,
I think it looks pretty good. The photo is amazing... I would maybe add something on the bottom right corner, it looks a little off center as is - or move the verse to the bottom middle... just some suggestions, I'd have to play with it.7/26/2006 03:10:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Nick,

Thanks for the suggestions. I did not really spend a whole lot of time on this (less than 10 minutes), so maybe if I had the time, I could come up with a better font, layout, and details.

I have several photos I think *could* be decent images where verses could be inserted. If I get around to them, I might randomly post them to get some feedback.7/25/2006 06:34:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|* This week, Tom Ascol is writing a series on "Confessional Integrity and Theological Education". Contrary to the alcohol resolution, I believe this is a real issue in the SBC that needs to be addressed. When professors believe they have the interpretive rights to subscribe whatever meaning they want to certain confessional articles, a real crisis is at hand. Here is part one and part two thus far. Part three is forthcoming later this week. * Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship recently came out with their statement on the Emergent Church. Mark Driscoll mentioned, "I will not comment on the statement other than to say the concerns are real and shared by many including myself. " (HT: Resurgence). * Jason Engwer of Triablogue fame gives some great quotes from Early Christians concerning belief in a hell of eternal consciousness. That reminds me that I need to get back to reading some of the early patristics! * Ingrid Schlueter of Slice of Laodicea shared about a Baptist church in the state of Georgia that sponsored an ice-cream social for the Muslims at the mosque across the street. Check out this quote: "This will lead us to have good relations in the future," Imam Riyadh Thabitah said. "All God's creation...we have to respect each other. We are followers of the same God. Each of us have different rules to follow." This is why I have made religious pluralism one of my greatest theological foci! * Was Martin Luther King Jr. a heretic? Go see for yourself. James White reminds us that indeed, theology does matter. Non-Trinitarian, denial of substitutionary atonement, denial of man's deadness in sin, detestation of the sovereignty of God? Sheesh. * Gary Gilley, pastor of Southern View Chapel, has written three in-depth articles on the Emerging Church. For anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of the movement, let me encourage you to check these articles you. Here they are: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. * My Sunday School teacher and SBTS prof, Dr. T.J. Betts, was in northern Israel when the Hezbollah attacks first took place. He was part of an archeological dig in Tel Hazor, Israel. Garrett Wishall, also a member of our church, wrote an article which appeared in Baptist Press last week in which Dr. Bett's shares some of his experience (we got the long version in SS because I was that inquisitive guy who HAD to ask). His most famous line, however, has to be when he said, Wow, look at that,' referring to explosions taking place in Tiberius (where they had arrived after being evacuated from the dig). Gotta love that technical language! Really, that's why I love Dr. Bett's so much! * Many of you are aware that last week, Steve McCoy killed the Missional Baptist Blog. However, I feel it necessary to give it props for the great job this blog did in networking fellow young Southern Baptists. I never pimped my blog or made the blogroll but found myself visiting it several times a week. It will be missed, but as Steve shared, it served its purpose. * Will Turner provides some quotes from Timothy George in the forthcoming release of First Things 165 (August/September 2006) concerning the place of Southern Baptists after the revolution. Five points Turner provides in George's piece concerning the aftermath of Greensboro include charismatics, "neo-Calvinists", Woman's Missionary Union, Baptist bloggers, and the "young moderates." Bottom line: the SBC is at a crossroads. * The Thirsty Theologian has chimed in on the alcohol resolution by providing two excellent articles dealing with Sola Scriptura, the SBC, and hermeneutics. They are: God Gave C2H60 - Introductory Comments and God Gave C2H6O - Sola Scriptura and the SBC. Quote: "Perhaps the most glaring deficiency of the SBC resolution is the atrociously amateurish hermeneutics. If this is a good example of the author’s exegesis and hermeneutics, I wouldn’t let them teach my five-year-old’s Sunday school class, let alone represent an entire denomination." (HT: JT). * Scott Hill points out what many of us have been attempting to emphasize on the alcohol resolution. It is not about alcohol - it's about Scripture. The dissent was not first made by moderationists but Bible-believing teetotalers who believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. We are not advocating anything except the Bible - period. * Joe Thorn recently provided a good quote from founding president of Southern Seminary, James P. Boyce, who spoke out against the resolution on alcohol in his day. Boyce concluded that a resolution against the consumption of alcohol “was not germane to the work of the convention.” (1888 Annual of the SBC, pp. 33-34). * What d'ya know? Another First Person article on the alcohol resolution. This time from Richard Land. If only we could get our leaders this outspoken on the defense and proclamation of the gospel! This makes me wonder where our passion really lies. * Baptist Press recently ran three articles on the 24th Annual Founders' Conference which I unfortunately was unable to attend. They are: Gospel will prevail despite churches that hide it, 'New Perspective' corrupts the Gospel at its heart, and Founders' Conference examines 'the Gospel of the grace of God'. I am delighted that BP (Jeff Robinson to be exact) covered the Founders' Conference this year as the Founders' Network has really become a considerable influence in the SBC in recent years. * Speaking of the Founders' Conference, the audio is now available at SoundWord.com. Be sure to check out sermons by Joe Thorn, Dr. Tom Nettles, and Dr. David Sills. * David Wayne (Jollyblogger) has decided that it is not time to walk a middle road with Rick Warren. He mentions Warren's involvement in Synagogue 3000 which I too have been critical of in the past. That reminds me: Does anyone find it funny that Warren didn't show up at Greensboro but somehow made it to North Korea? * Douglas Groothuis reminds us that it is never a bad time to recommend a few good books. Check out his categories and recommended books. I have greatly benefited from many of them! * Justin Taylor provides a list of articles written by Thabiti Anyabwile (and I thought Brister was hard!) about the things he has learned at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Also, it is worth noting that Anyabwile will soon be the pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman. Six years ago, I went with a group of students from the University of Mobile to help out with a Disciple Now as well as a Children's Camp at FBC Grand Cayman. This is a wonderful church! One memory I will never forget is that during that week, I preached my first expository sermon (the text was Luke 18:9-14). May the Lord continue to richly bless this church with Anyabwile as their pastor! I think that's it. Some good stuff going on in the blogosphere. Oh, and I will try to keep on updated on the Band of Bloggers. It is still in the works. - tnb|W|P|115382733230053364|W|P|Quick Hits :: July 25, 2006 :: Supersized Again Edition|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/25/2006 09:32:00 AM|W|P|Blogger terri|W|P|Hey Timmy,

I am going to call you as soon as I can get a hold of your cell phone # again (lost it when my phone broke). Incidentally, Thabiti Anyawyle is an INCREDIBLE preacher and godly man from the little bit that I've seen of him here at Cap. Hill. He and his family left last week to go to Grand Cayman. So sad that everywhere I go great people are leaving! BTW, in case you didn't know (which i highly doubt), Thabiti does have a blog.

Something I could use from you (non-paper related): Who are the main leaders or influential participants in the Emerging Church found in within the SBC (persons and churches)? Also, I will be looking for the seminaries or theological institutions from which many of the E Church leaders have come or endorse. TTY soon.7/25/2006 11:32:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Travis Hilton|W|P|Timmy,

Thanks for all the info on your current post. Have you taken notice of the article from our current SBC President Frank Page advocating abstinence? I read it at Brad Renyolds' blog.7/25/2006 02:01:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Tony|W|P|Posted this on the wrong thread... my bad.

Re: Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship statement on the emergent church...

Call me a skeptic - but after searching Calvary Chapel's website for the word "emergent" and not finding anything, I wonder whether this statement on the emerging church is authentic.

I've been blessed with the opportunity to serve in and around Calvary Chapels in Southern California over the last 10 years or so, including half a dozen or so occasions at Pastor Chuck's church there in Costa Mesa. The tone and sarcasm in the Emergent Church statement feel a little different than anything I've seen from them.

Anyone have any thoughts on the source of this document?7/25/2006 02:45:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Terri,

Great to hear from you sister. Yeah, I've tried calling you several times in recent weeks but only have been able to leave voice messages. While I have not read much of Thabiti's blog, I am aware of several of his articles, including his recent ones regenerate church membership.

Concerning the Emerging Church Movement (EMC), the first thing to remember that this term is not the same thing as the Emergent Church. Emergent is the leading organization of the EMC, lead by Tony Jones and Brian McClaren, while the EMC is much broader and has both liberal and conservative theological stripes.

Second, not EVERYTHING about the EMC is bad. Actually, they are focusing on/emphasizing some very important matters neglected by the evangelical conscience. For that I am grateful. But yes, doctrinally and ecclesiologically, there is much to be concerned about.7/25/2006 02:49:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Travis,

Indeed, I have read that article as it comes to no surprise to me since he has already mentioned his position on the resolution much earlier (shortly after Greensboro). I appreciate his tone and approach, although I and many other teetotalers are in disagreement with him. But that's okay right? If not, then he wouldn't have been elected.

I USED to read Brad Reynold's blog a little bit, but after this past week, I find no redeeming value in spending my time with such rhetoric. You have about five people talking to one another over and over again and saying the same thing. Nothing new.7/25/2006 03:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Tony,

I have no reason to think that this document is not authentic unless it can be proved otherwise. I also don't think Mark Driscoll would write about a pseudo-document on his blog and put his integrity on the line. As Driscoll stated, Chuck Smith's church is no longer affiliated with the Calvary Chapel movement (according to Publisher's Weekly). Furthermore, the address and contact information is provided in both Driscoll's and the PDF document, so it might be best to contact them directly yourself. If you do, let us know, and if the document is not authentic, I will have it removed.7/25/2006 03:40:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Terri, Travis, Tony, Timmy. Anymore people with their name's starting with the letter "T" want to comment?7/26/2006 12:39:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Jeff Richard Young|W|P|Dear Timmy,

I loved reading this list of summaries/briefs/bytes.

EXCEPT when you had to say "pimped." As a deputy in the Baptist Blogging decency police, and I must inform you of the Sheriff's policy against using language that could bring any discredit on the Savior.

Love in Christ,

Teff Tichard Toung7/26/2006 04:01:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Dear Teff,

Thanks for the encouragement. Yeah, "pimp" is a buzz word going on right now thanks to our friend Ergun Caner. I am glad there is some Baptist Blog Police out there with all this graffiti being plastered on the walls of the SBC. Also, I am glad to see that you have realized that all good, spiritual names begin with the letter "T".

Take care man, and thanks for checking in.7/24/2006 07:55:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|

Last week, I had breakfast with a couple of brothers from UPS for prayer and theological discussion. While we left, one asked the question, "Can you name one solid expository preacher of the Old Testament?" We thought for a while and struggled to come up with any significant names. So I thought I would ask you the same question" "Do you know of any great expositors of the Old Testament?" One that comes to my mind is Dr. Steve Lawson, and another I mentioned was Phil Ryken. Of course, we did mention Lig Duncan and his great message from the T4G Conference about preaching from the OT. But as a follow-up question, can you give potential reasons why there is such a serious lacking of expository preaching from the Old Testament? Let me make a confession here. Before my first semester of seminary, I was the Marcionite concerning the OT. By that I mean, I chose to read and study certain books like Psalms, Proverbs, and of course Song of Solomon since every college student wanted to know about the love and dating imagery expressed therein. But could I tell you about 2 Chronicles, Amos, or Zechariah? No, not in the least bit. However, I am grateful for Dr. Daniel Block who helped me repent of my embarrassing neglect of God's revelation which I for so long neglected. To be a people and a denomination which so values the inerrancy and inspiration of God's Word, we cannot preach and teach 1/4 of it alone. We also cannot treat the other 3/4 with leadership lessons or biographical summaries either. For instance, the lives of Abraham, Joseph, or Moses are not primarily about them biographically. They are about the God of Abraham, Joseph, and Moses preeminently! Yet, that seems to be neglected far too often. Let me share with you a portion of Dr. Block's first lecture to the Old Testament in which he called "The Trivialization of the Old Testament in Evangelical Preaching."

12 Symptoms of the Trivialization of the Old Testament in Evangelical Preaching

  1. Avoidance of the Old Testament.
  2. Walk-through-the Bible Approaches to the OT.
  3. The Illustrative Use of the OT.
  4. The Proof-texting Use of the OT.
  5. The Selective Use of the OT.
  6. The Biographical and Psychological Use of the OT.
  7. The Applicational Use of the OT.
  8. The Spiritualized Use of the OT.
  9. Reading the Old Testament Through New Testament Lenses.*
  10. The Christologizing of the OT.*
  11. Nonsensical Sloganizing of the OT.
  12. The Magical Use of the OT.

The asterisk (*) denotes two that are considered questionable by some theologians, but I think overall Dr. Block makes some excellent points in his outline. Dr. Block continues by sharing the reasons and effects such trivialization of the OT has upon evangelical Christianity. So back to my initial question and thoughts. Why is it that so many pastors neglect the Old Testament? Is it just not relevant enough? Are there not commentaries to compile sermon material? Since we are of the new covenant, is preaching from the old covenant unnecessary?

In our conversation, I recall one of my brothers sharing with me that the reason why John Piper does not preach from the OT expositorily is because he does not know biblical Hebrew. Due to his passion not to be a second-hander in his sermon preparation, Piper works with primary sources (that being the original texts) and does extensive work such as sentence diagramming, word study, etc. I admire that in Piper, but I think he would admit that his weakest point in his pulpit ministry is the absence of expository preaching from the Old Testament.

In conclusion, I would add that having a solid biblical theology (not systematic theology) is sorely lacking among even trained theologians. We can systematically present the doctrines of the faith from theology proper to eschatology but have a hard time presenting the redemptive history from Genesis to Revelation while giving due attention to the texts of the Old Testament with just as much labor and precision as we do in the New Testament.

So what are your thoughts? Has this entered your mind? Do you know of any great expositors of the Old Testament you can point me to? Any reasons why the OT is neglected among evangelicals who so emphasize sola Scriptura and the inerrancy of Scripture?

|W|P|115379082953972748|W|P|Old Testament Expository Preaching?|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/25/2006 05:46:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Stephen Newell|W|P|Dude, you can't pass over Hershael York!7/25/2006 05:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Stephen,

First of all, congrats on the marriage! Still on the honeymoon phase?

I must confess, not only have I not heard Hershael York preach on the OT, I have not heard him preach on the NT - that means have not heard him preach period. So, for my sake and possibly others, could you maybe give a few sermon examples or passages maybe that Dr. York has exposited? That would be a great help!7/25/2006 06:51:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|Bias admitted, I say Daniel Block and Peter Gentry. I think the reason the OT is neglected by more theological types is because it is hard to systematise it. I'm not saying its all random and incoherent, but it is not the same as a Pauline letter, much less the same as the Pauline corpus. With that said, I think that the OT presents so many challenges to systematic theology that it is either too frightening to engage, or its just too much work. Either way, it is wrong to neglect.7/25/2006 07:36:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Mikey,

So what do you think about Graeme Goldsworthy's works? Do you recommend them? If not, what would you recomment for young theologians who want to have a better grasp of the OT in the biblical plot line?7/25/2006 02:01:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Tony|W|P|Re: Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship statement on the emergent church...

Call me a skeptic - but after searching Calvary Chapel's website for the word "emergent" and not finding anything, I wonder whether this statement on the emerging church is authentic.

I've been blessed with the opportunity to serve in and around Calvary Chapels in Southern California over the last 10 years or so, including half a dozen or so occasions at Pastor Chuck's church there in Costa Mesa. The tone and sarcasm in the Emergent Church statement feel a little different than anything I've seen from them.

Anyone have any thoughts on the source of this document?7/25/2006 06:36:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Tracy|W|P|Tim,
You have heard Dr Moore preach haven't you? He Has preached several messages either from the OT or incorporates it into his sermon. I have read Goldsworthy and think Dr Moore has also. It is great, and I am beginning to apply it to my own teaching and preaching.7/25/2006 07:18:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Tracy,

I have heard Dr. Moore preach on OT passages, but would you consider his preaching expository? I think Dr. Moore has a very unique style in preaching (and teaching) which I enjoy, but I am not sure it fits the idea of expository preaching. But then again I may be wrong.

Also, the preachers I looking for are those who have preaching through books of the Old Testament. For example, Dr. Steve Lawson (whom I mentioned above), recently preached through Job and Psalm (both messages in each book are now in the Holman Christian Commentary Series). Now, of course one does not have to have their messages turned into a published commentary, but you get the point.

Another reason maybe why preachers today don't preach from the OT is that it is simply not efficient. By that, I mean that even in sermons, pragmatism rules the day. Some thing OT passages simply don't "work." Ironically, if we are more concerned with results than we are being biblical, we could be bowing to the gods of fertility (Baal) rather than YHWH. One must ask how Canaanized the Western Church has become these days . . .7/25/2006 07:25:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Oh, and before I forget again (I was supposed to put this on my last comment), below is a URL to go to Dr. Lawson's database of sermons to download. Unfortunately, I don't think his sermons preached at Dauphin Way are not here, but there are many nonetheless. Here it is:

http://www.cfbcmobile.org/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=421&sec_id=3777/25/2006 09:30:00 PM|W|P|Blogger K. Elijah Layfield|W|P|Tim,

In regards to Pastor John Piper, I went straight to the man who would know--Tom Steller(he was once Pastor John's student and has served at Bethlehem for over 20 years. In an e-mail, he told me that Pastor John is very competent in the Hebrew text (although stronger in Greek). And Pastor Tom said that one might be suprised at the amount of sermons he's preached from the OT. Although, I'm sure that ya'll have in mind preaching through books. I knew that he had preached through Ruth because I've listened to the audio. Just trying to clarify my pastor's position.7/25/2006 09:42:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Tracy|W|P|Tim,
I consider Dr Moore expository the same way I do Spurgeon. Your comment on people thinking the OT is not efficient is exactly why I think Goldsworthy is an excellent resource, especially According to plan and the one on preaching all of the bible as Christian scripture. He makes it plain that the OT texts are not to be taken by themselves, for then they will only be good moral stories, but must be taken in context of the whole of the plan of redemption.7/25/2006 10:20:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|K. Elijah,

Thanks for the clarification. What I wrote and what my friend shared about Piper was not a slam at all. My friend actually taught Greek at one time at TBI and knows Piper as well. On my end, I don't know him but consider him to have had the biggest influence of any living man today. So that being said, I must be fair as well.

A good exercise to do since all his sermons are available online would be to tally up his sermon texts from 1980 and see what percentage of his preaching expositorily came from the OT. I haven't done this, so I am not going to even guess. And not to pick on Piper either, but he is such a big influence on so many of us, I think that question regarding the OT is one others have inquired about as well.7/25/2006 10:24:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Tracy,

Indeed, According to Plan is a good book, but I must admit that there were a few places where I would disagree a bit. Overall I recommend it without reservation. Contrary to systematic theology, Goldsworthy does what is so needed in developing a biblical theology as well (which I mentioned in my post). I think seminaries would do a service to their students if they perhaps considered offering biblical theology alongside systematic theology while encouraging them to incorporate all of God's written revelation in their preaching and teaching.7/25/2006 10:26:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|K. Elijah,

I just realized that I said "as well" three times in my comment! That's what I get for being in a hurry before rushing to work!

Sorry for the redundancy.
Sorry for the redudnancy.7/25/2006 11:29:00 PM|W|P|Blogger K. Elijah Layfield|W|P|I didn't think it was a slam against Pastor John. I was just curious and wanted to find out for myself.

-Elijah7/26/2006 05:20:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Elijah,

Cool. I am glad I was not mistaken in my post. BTW, will you be attending the DG National Conference this fall?

I just received an email from S. Anderson about it. I made it a goal to try to read Wells' latest book as well as Driscoll's to prep myself for the conference. I am pumped about it, and the weekly videos were a brilliant idea.7/26/2006 01:01:00 PM|W|P|Blogger K. Elijah Layfield|W|P|I still don't think Pastor John would say that he avoids the OT because of a Hebrew defiency. Pastor Tom doesn't think that either. But, he does think that Pastor John would agree that there is an imbalance between to teaching from the OT and NT. Tom pointed out that Pastor John is really good at relating the OT passages to the NT passage that he preaches from.

Yes, I'll be at the conference. I can't wait. I'll be doing some volunteering. Let me know if you'll have any free time. I tried to get Shannon to come, but Woodie's brother is getting married that week.7/30/2006 03:43:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|Tracy and Timmy,

I do think Goldsworthy is decent at times, but on the whole I don't take his views of the OT. Likewise, I do not think Dr. Moore is an expository preacher of the OT. He is far too hyper-Christological. I heard his message on Joshua a while back and he spent just a small fraction of time on the context and message of the passage, jumping far too quickly to Joshua as a type of Christ. If I remember correctly, he might have even gone as far as saying that Joshua was Christ prefigured. This I find untenable, and unacceptable, especially in a tradition that demands historical-grammatical interpretation.

I think I can appreciate Walt Kaiser's stuff on preaching the OT. Also, you should read Block's articles, and see also Bruce Waltke's article on the Canonical approach to the Psalms. I find myself in agreement there.7/30/2006 07:39:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Mikey,

When I said there were a few places where I would disagree with Goldsworthy, his position on the OT was one of them. I remember reading his book and saying to myself, "Now, wait a minute . . ." several times.

I recall a conversation I had with Dr Block in which I asked him why the OT texts often get mistreated or overlooked. By this I was referring to the Christological hermeneutic so often employed. He told me that it is important to be Christological in our homiletic, but not in our hermeneutic. I think this is good advice, especially since we must be faithful (as you said) to the historical-grammatical approach to Scripture. If not, would we not be depreciating both?

Three things pop into my mind as well:

1. I am afraid that some conservative thinking evangelicals will think if you don't Christologize every OT text in your hermeneutic, you must be a closet liberal. I wish this weren't the case, but from those whom I have talked to, it appears to be so.

2. In the plotline of progressive revelation and biblical revelation, I believe it is important to emphasize the progression and not only the culmination (in Christ). If we jump past progressive points as they are and appraise their meaning, then would we not have done injustice to the culminating point? It just seems to me that the Son of David and King of the Jews is a historical figure with a heritage and context which should be appreciated in light of the fact that the OT was the Bible Jesus read.

3. In the whole continuity/discontinuity, should we not appreciate the symbiotic relationship between the OT/NT regarding its continuity? By that I mean, should we not evaluate the OT text as it stands without inserting NT interpretation, appreciate its contribution, and then relate it to the NT?

Finally, two books come to my mind that I would like to hear from you about.

1. Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament by Christopher J.H. Wright and

2. Giving the Sense edited by David Howard and Michael Grisanti.

Any comments (in praise or criticism) of these works would be appreciated man.8/01/2006 08:23:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|Timmy,

Amen, amen, and amen to your three points. You have stated exactly my thoughts, and I cannot improve on any of the three points. As for the books, I think Wright is about the best book in print for helping me know how to 'Know Jesus through the OT'. I wish the Blockster would crank one out about this issue (but stay tuned for the next year or two as he finishes his Theology of Worship!!!), but Wright (in my opinion) comes about as close as possible. As for the Grisanti book, I've not read it so cannot comment. You?8/01/2006 05:34:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Mikey,

No, I have not read Giving the Sense yet. It is on my stack of "to read" books (which is getting larger and larger!). I did read Wright's book as extra credit for Block's class and enjoyed it. I really appreciate how he handled the first four chapters of Matthew.

So block is writing a theology of worship, eh? Before he left Southern, I strongly encouraged him to consider writing a book about how studying the OT is so relevant and applicable to current evangelical life. His insight and analysis is spot on. They need a wider audience.8/02/2006 10:12:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|I agree my man. It might be the task of the next generation of OT scholars. Pray for more. You might be encouraged to know that between Cambridge and Oxford right now, there is a swelling of numbers of OT and NT guys who are here doing PhDs (DPhil it is called at Ox) and who are themselves evangelicals. At a recent joint Old Testament Graduate Seminar, 6 student papers were presented (3 from each school), 5 of which were presented by young evangelical OT scholars (myself and one other from Ox, and all three from Cam). The NT Graduate Seminar was similar. This is bright for the future of biblical scholarship!8/02/2006 03:28:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Mikey,

Thanks for sharing what is going on across the pond. Are some of the other guys part of the group of contributors in the evangelical textual criticism blog?

Indeed, there is much to be optimistic about.8/05/2006 01:23:00 PM|W|P|Blogger jedidiah|W|P|Timmy,
Great topic. Sorry to jump in so late, but I've been riding a bike through Iowa the last week or so. Ridiculous, I know.
Let me ask a few questions, so I get you right. On the Dr. Moore thing, are you saying that he is not an expository preacher because he misses the meaning of OT passages, he doesn't apply it to Christ correctly, he doesn't apply it to the hearer correctly, or something else? Or are you just saying that although he gets the meaning of the passage right, he doesn't present it in the way that you prefer?

Secondly, while it is true that many people have given the OT superficial treatment (most seem just to stay away from it altogether), don't you think that Kaiser and Block take the historical-grammatical approach too far. By this I mean, it seems that their method excludes Jesus' and the other NT writers' hermeneutical method from the arena of valid interpretations. I agree that we need to make sense of what is going on in the passage. But I think that we are in dangerous territory when we say that we can make sense of a passage without seeing it through the lens of Christ. It seems like that was one of the problems Jesus had with the Jewish leaders. They knew the OT, but they didn't know that it was all about him.
It may be, that the problem you and mikey have with Moore's preaching is rooted in a deeper discussion over hermeneutics. Maybe that's not all of it. Either way, let me know.
Thanks for your time.
Jedidiah8/06/2006 03:47:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Jedidiah,

Thanks for the comments man. The issue you raised regarding Dr. Moore is not what the original post is about, so if you would like to discuss this further, let me encourage you to email me. I don't have yours, but you can find mine in the "profile" section on the sidebar. I am not trying to avoid your questions (I have already written a reply), but after thinking through my response, I feel that our conversation could be carried better through email (or even in person since we are members of the same church). I also have realized (unfortunately through past experience) that anything I say or do can and will be used against me (at least in the court of public opinion). Thanks for your understanding.8/07/2006 05:40:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|Jedidiah, I'm writing from a cafe in Berlin, so ill have to be short. Let me just say that you have unfortunately misrepresented Block and Kaiser in saying that their method "excludes Jesus' and the other NT writers' hermeneutical method from the arena of valid interpretations." Neither of them would ever suggest such a thing, but are simply addressing the over-Christologising of the text, and YES, it can be, and is, done. The simple point is that we read Joshua FIRST to understand Joshua, not to see Jesus hiding under the bush. We can make Christological applications, and certainly seek to understand it from a Christian applicational standpoint, but that is different from saying that Joshua was Christ.

It is my opinion that over-Christologisation results from a low view of Scripture. If the view of Scripture was as high as claimed, it would allow the Scriptures to say what they say. A low view of Scripture is betrayed by those who would seek to make it say something else. We can Christologise where Christ himself did, but that is the limit, not the bare minimum.8/09/2006 10:08:00 PM|W|P|Blogger jedidiah|W|P|Hey Mikey,
Sorry about the delay. It’s been a crazy couple of days. I’ll try to be brief too.
I’m sorry if it seemed like I misrepresented Block and Kaiser. That wasn’t my intention. Would I be correct if I said that their hermeneutical method excludes Jesus’ and the Apostles’ hermeneutical method from the arena of valid interpretation for us? I think this is a fair representation because it seems that Jesus’ and the Apostles hermeneutical method violates some of the “10 ways the Old Testament is trivialized” points that Timmy posted for us. So, if Jesus and the Apostles worked in a local church here and taught us how to interpret the OT, and we applied that on a test given by Dr. Block or Dr. Kaiser, then we’d fail. Let me know if that’s accurate.
If it is, then I guess I want to ask why we should use a method contrary to the one Jesus and the Apostles used. They didn’t command or seem to imply that we should use a separate hermeneutical method from theirs. So who does? Whoever it is would have to give quite an argument, one that I don’t think they can from Scripture, as to why we should adopt another method. I think it is much easier to give the argument, based on the NT writers treatment of the OT, as to why we should adopt their method.
I think you’re right that we should seek to understand what is happening in Joshua. But I think you are wrong, if you think that we can understand Joshua without interpreting it through the lens of Christ. The OT either applies directly to us or it applies directly to Jesus and then us in him. The NT writers, and me and Dr. Moore (I believe this is correct, but I hate to speak for him) for that matter, hold the second view. And I don’t think that we need to look under a bush to find Christ in the OT. We can find him standing between us and every page of OT and NT scripture (1 Tim. 2:5).

And as far as the high or low view of Scripture goes, I think there is a difference between a wrong interpretation (which don’t “allow the Scriptures to say what they say”) and a low view of Scripture. Either way, and again, a low view of Scripture, according to your definition, is the view that doesn’t see the OT through the lens of Christ. Because you miss the point of the OT if you don’t see it being all about Christ (Jn. 5:39, 46).
Let me know if I’m not clear on something. Thanks for your time.
BTW, 6:40 in the morning? They must be working you hard over there.
Timmy, feel free to jump in. Or I think you have my email now.
Jedidiah8/10/2006 06:13:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Jed,

No, I am sorry, but I do not have your email, but that is okay.

One thing I would mention regarding reading the OT through the lens of Christ is simply to say that it is not the only lens to understand OT Scripture. If you argue that every verse in the OT has to be read through the lens of Christ, do you not think that you will end up forcing Christ in places where he is not implicitly there? There is meaning, significance, and application in the OT that is not a messianic prophecy. There are truths to be ascertained and applied to the Christian life which are not filtered through the lens of the NT or Christ. Yes, ultimately the OT points to Christ in everything in that progressive revelation culminates in the full and final revelation of God in Christ. But I fear that indeed much of the substance and meaning of the OT is trivialized or underappreciated if the only hermenuetical method which you use is what you mentioned. I would argue that it is not either/or as you portrayed but both/and.8/10/2006 07:18:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|Jedidiah,

I agree with Timmy on this last post. My point also is that we can 'see' Christ where he indeed is. For instance, he himself claimed to be the suffering servant, and thus we can see him as such.

But I want to address/ask another question. Are you suggesting that we should use the hermeneutical method used by Jesus and the Apostles? Should we read the OT like Paul did? I am not quite settled on this, but at present my default position would be to say no. We shouldn't read the entire OT like Jesus and Paul. They had, no doubt, a different kind of authority to interpret the text as they did, an authority we are not endowed with. I realise there are problems in this position, but its the best I know to take now. Otherwise, if we go the route you are suggesting, then we will just do Midrash with the whole OT (which is somewhat what you and your mentor does...and also Paul!) and we'll have no historical-grammatical approach whatsoever. I must admit, there are times when I think this method is a decent one, especially when I am reading some of the Syriac writers of the 4th-6th centuries. They had some pretty amazing ways to explain the text. For instance, in showing how Christ was connected to Adam outside of genealogical considerations, they came up with this elaborate story that begins with Adam grabbing a branch off a tree when he left Eden, and that branch being passed on all the way down the generations. Finally, as Jesus is being crucified, they are short a piece of wood for one of his arms, so they look for a piece, and yep, you guessed it, the piece they used was the one that Adam took off the branch in Eden. In this type of exegesis, there is no concern for what might be called 'historical fact'; but that was very much not the issue. The issue was to devise a way to understand the text through creativity and imagination, but such that it would do not ultimate harm to sound doctrine, but would instead enlighten the understanding of the reader as to the truth of the teaching of the passage/doctrine. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong in this story, since it is a story. The only problem with preaching it would be that you would give the impression to people that that was the way the text was written to be understood. And in my view (albeit tentative), the type of Midrashic preaching that sees Christ under every bush also runs the risk of portraying that this was the original intention of the author.

Now, all of this only matters if one takes an authorial-intention based approach to hermeneutics, which is what I suppose you do? If so, and if it is important to let the text say what it says in the way the author wanted it said, Midrashic preaching should probably be abandoned.

Now, I'm not saying that I support all forms of preaching in which the preacher says, 'THIS IS THE meaning.' In fact, I am a bit more sceptical of Reformed preaching, and especially preachers who claim that they know the author's intention; even more so sceptical than Timmy, I am sure. BUT, we have to work with what we have, the text in its context. And I think the safest way to work is to say, 'This is my understanding of the meaning of this text', allowing ourselves the possibility of being wrong.

That leaves me with this. I think the historical-grammatical approach is most faithful in portraying the historical, cultural, social, and grammatical meaning of the text. But this historical-grammatical approach must be done in such a way that preserves its integrity from Midrash. However, I do think that Midrashic exegesis is more creative, more entertaining, and perhaps more fruitful in helping the preacher to make application to specific situations.8/10/2006 07:26:00 PM|W|P|Blogger jedidiah|W|P|Hey guys,
I’ll try to answer both of you at once, so I don’t go too long. Let me know if I miss something. Here goes. I think that the NT writers, and Jesus, believed that there were no texts, whether NT or OT, that should be applied to people apart from mediating them through Christ. This is to say, they believed that the point and the interpretive lens through which all of the Bible and all of life for that matter, was and is Jesus Christ. And I don’t think that this means that they adopted the hermeneutical method found in the fanciful stories of the writers Mikey quoted (which by the way was quite a creative story). And I don't think that Dr. Moore has adopted the Midrash method either. I think that we’d all agree that Jesus and the Apostles knew the OT better than we do. And I don’t think that they treated it superficially. At the same time, it wasn’t a problem for them to interpret the OT as they did. It seems to me that one of the most important sins that Paul, us, and many others, must repent of is the way that we read the OT. This means that our hermeneutical method is not a matter of preference. It is a matter of obedience. Once the fullness of time had come, and God’s purposes in Christ were revealed, one of its implications was that it informed the way we see the Scriptures. So that now we understand that Jesus Christ was not an afterthought in God’s mind, once Adam failed. Rather, Jesus Christ is the point of all things. As Dr. Moore recently put it, “Jesus doesn’t look like Adam. Adam looks like Jesus.” And I would add, that the writings in the OT are not plan A and Jesus is plan B. This would leave writings and events in the OT with a likely disconnect from Jesus’ person and work, which is what many seem to hold to whether explicitly or functionally. Rather, because of the NT’s writings, we know that God’s purpose all along was Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:9-11). This means that when we’re reading the OT, we interpret it in light of Christ. So Jesus was plan A and everything should be understood in light of this reality.
I agree with you about authorial intent. But, we might disagree about the role of the Authorial Intent of God. Many who hold positions like Blocks (if I’m understanding him right), undervalue the authorial intent of God’s Spirit in the writing of Scripture. By this I mean, that God’s Spirit who breathed out the Scriptures, both OT and NT, and was operating out of God’s purpose to unite all things in Christ, is undervalued when we do not allow the Spirit’s instructions in the NT to inform our understanding of the OT. To the Spirit, the coming revelation in Christ is not a separate subject from God's purposes to unite all things in him. They are all part of one purpose. So, if Block, Kaiser, and others, say that we cannot see Christ as the point of 1 Samuel, since he came much later and the writer of 1 Samuel didn't know the details about Christ, they are operating out of a hermeneutic that is contrary to the one that Jesus and the Apostles have practiced and exemplified for us. Sorry, this is longer than I hoped to go on this. Basically, I think Paul and the other NT writers, and Jesus, operated out of this thinking. And I don’t think it is fanciful midrash.

So yes, I think that we should adopt the hermeneutical method practiced by Jesus and the Apostles. And yes, I agree that we are somewhat different than them. I think that we are different than them in our ability to do this perfectly. I don’t think that we should be different than them in our method. My prayer is not that we will avoid this method merely because people have misused it. Rather, it is that we will have more bright minds like you two and many others who will seek to clarify difficulties where you think there are difficulties and enable the church to do it more faithfully.
And I don't think that we should shy away from saying "God says...". It is true that there are parts of Scripture that are less clear than others. But most of the Scripture is completely clear. So let's sound a clear trumpet. When we do say "I think this means", we need to make sure that we are doing it because of its lack clarity to us. Some, sounding very humble, do this because they doubt the reliabitity of the text. It seems humble, but it is really rebellion. I don't think that you are using the second approach. But do you agree with the point?
Now, I know that this hermeneutic not very popular. But I would ask why? Why should we avoid Jesus’ and Apostles’ hermeneutic and adopt a hermeneutic coming down the pike from scholarship and its Enlightenment Rationalistic commitments? I’m not saying that we can't learn anything from these findings. I am saying that if it takes us away from the method used by Jesus and Apostles, it has overstepped and erred.

So, I’ve tried to cover it all (although I probably missed some stuff). I’m saying that there is a difference between Jesus’ hermeneutic and Midrash. And I’m saying that we should adopt it. And I’m saying that this adoption is a matter of obedience or disobedience. Jesus is the point and the hermeneutical key of all of the Bible. Jesus is also the mediator of all of the Bible. Anything that is not mediated through Christ, is sub-Christian.
I know y’all are busy. So I appreciate your time and the discussion.
BTW, my email is jcoppenger@gmail.com
Jedidiah8/10/2006 08:47:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|So Jed, do you believe there is no discontinuity between the OT and NT?

Also, to say that when someone says, "I think the Bible says . . ." is really a form of rebellion, am I supposed to take you serious? That would wipe out a whole lot of respected theologians and scholars. While we hold to an infallible Scripture, do you not think that we often can have a fallible interpretation or even method? Such confidence you possess is alarming to me.

From your comments, I believe you have misinterpretated (if not mistreated altogether) the positions of Block and Kaiser. They have not argued that one should ignore the NT or Christological lens for interpreting the OT as you have stated nor have they neglected the authorial intent of God as superintending the Scriptures. Rather, I believe they are arguing for a healthy, balanced hermeneutic which factors in the OT in its historical-grammatical-cultural context in the same way we do with the NT. And yes, we should consider the authorial intent of the human author as well as they were not writing in a vacuum or as a robot. One of the critiques of other religions is their ahistorical nature, if not inaccurate historiography. If we are going to present the Bible as containing historical fact and argue for its reliability (again back to inerrancy and high view of Scripture), then it seems necessary to include this in one's interpretation and hermeneutic, don't you think?

You said, "Why should we avoid Jesus’ and Apostles’ hermeneutic and adopt a hermeneutic coming down the pike from scholarship and its Enlightenment Rationalistic commitments?"

What commitments are you talking about?

Finally, do you believe that there is any prior fulfillment of prophecy given in the OT at least partially within the OT? Does your hermeneutical method all you to glean biblical truth from OT passages from the text themselves without Christologizing them? I am just seeking clarification on this, so please do not take it as spinning the issue . . .8/11/2006 01:44:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|Dang Timmy, at it again. I'll just stand behind your comments, except one more thing. I think your (Jedidiah) comments about rebellion regarding uncertainty in interpretation, and also the characterisation of such uncertainty as 'false humility' must have been overstatements. Please tell me they were. If not, I'd have to say that this makes me extremely uncomfortable. I am sorry, but I must speak plainly. I feel that this is a major problem in some sectors of evangelicalism. This is a brash certainty that creates a situation in which everyone else is 'wrong' (or, 'in rebellion') who stands outside of my interpretation. Timmy is bang-on, we have to be humble and contrite when approaching Scripture, realising that our own ability to interpret the text is flawed, and we do not have direct, unhindered access to the mind of Christ. So when you say that we should operate with the same hermeneutic, you are assuming we can read the OT like Christ and the Apostles. This is what I say is impossible.

One more point. I think (call me blasphemous) we need to do more in recognising the Scriptures as a collection of HUMAN writings. In no way do I wish to de-emphasise the DIVINE nature of the text, but last I checked, a proper evangelical doctrine of Scripture says something about the Scriptures being fully human, too. If we take the Christological analogy to the Scriptures (100% divine, 100% human), it is foolish for us not to study them as human documents, products that came out of a time, culture, and place. We pray, meditate, and preach them as Divine; but we must not neglect to study them as human productions, productions that tell us something about an historical situation. The Scriptures were not written in a vacuum, but are very much the production of people just like you and me. This is why background studies, linguistic studies, socio-cultural studies, etc. are very important for our interpretation of the text.8/11/2006 01:59:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|Jedidiah,

Can you confirm that you really do not think Paul was doing midrash? Are you serious?8/11/2006 05:50:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.8/11/2006 05:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|Just something you might find interesting. This is from a review in the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 5 (2004-2005). The review is of Richard S. Hess and M. Daniel Carroll R., eds., Israel's Messiah in the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Academic, 2003). Pp. 192. Paper, US$19.99. ISBN 0801026113.

Here is an excerpt from the review by Michael O. Wise at Northwestern College:

"Of the three major textual essays Block’s is the most evidently confessional, guided more by theology than by historical method. This statement is not a criticism, merely an observation; different sorts of readers will react to Block’s theological lense in different ways, depending on the questions each is hoping to find help in answering. The effect of his approach is to give the issues involved in understanding ancient Israel’s messianic thought a predictable teleology: Jesus was always the telos or goal, and any ideas held by Jews or ancient Hebrews that were not contributory to this end are outside the pale. Further, only a Christological reading of the given Hebrew Bible passages is considered. The undoubted fact that most ancient Jewish readers of the Hebrew Scriptures will have found this reading of their texts alien is not allowed to intrude, since, as it were, the correct answer is now known. One can almost hear a shadowy Luther nodding his agreement: nur was Christum treibet. Yet even fellow believers will probably find Block’s major thesis hard to swallow. He asks us to believe that all of the so-called messianic portions of the Hebrew Bible have in their view a Davidide—even the Suffering Servant portions of Isaiah. His interlocutors rightly express skepticism."

Now, having just seen a response to something Block has actually said, in his own words, it might be best if we could hear something Block has said, in his own words, that you (Jedidiah) find offensive. This might help also to specify exactly what it is that is 'out of bounds', since right now we are all talking in generalities. Does this make sense? I'm just saying, if someone has beef with someone else's method, let's see what it actually is that is 'out of bounds.'8/11/2006 03:50:00 PM|W|P|Blogger jedidiah|W|P|Hey gentlemen,
Thanks for your responses. It looks like this discussion is beginning to go into all kinds of massive topics, ones that deserve more than a sentence or two in response. So I’ll try to respond to you succinctly and clarify some things. BTW, because I think this is such an important issue, I’m going to try to blog about it on sbcwitness.com in the coming days. Hopefully, to get more people thinking and discussing such an important topic.
Also, if you guys don’t mind, I’d like to ask you two (b/c I think it is just us looking at this) to pray for a situation that I just learned about and is going to take quite a bit of time to deal with. I can’t discuss the details, but it is one of those things that I have never heard of and it is terrible. It would blow y’alls minds. It's blowing mind. So if you could just pray for wisdom in dealing with this from a counseling perspective and great grace for dealing with this for those who are most intimately involved, I’d greatly appreciate it.
Now, about what we’ve said up to this point. First, about the whole rebellion thing, I wasn’t saying that when you say “I think this is what the text says” you are always in rebellion. I was saying that you can be in rebellion when you do this. So, for instance, in recent Southern Baptist past, some people were saying this because they rejected the reliability of the Scripture. They were saying that the Bible wasn’t God’s word. And because they weren't sure what God's word was and was not, they "weren't sure what God says here." I don’t think that you guys are saying this, I just thought I’d make a distinction. Maybe I should've left it out.
And Mikey, about the Midrash thing, as you know Midrash has been used to mean a lot of different things (don't worry I won't describe all of its uses). The way you seemed to be using it was to describe the fanciful stories that people created that had no biblical grounding. The Bible doesn’t talk about the wood used in the cross and so forth. These guys, although entertaining, misuse the text. I don’t think that this is what Paul, Jesus, and other NT writers did with the OT. If you mean by Midrash, principles that were given to describe the way NT writers interpreted the OT, then yes, I think that they used Midrash. I think they saw the historic events in the OT both as significant and Christocentric.
I think that we need to understand to the best of our ability what the OT authors intention was in writing the text. But I also think that we need to understand what the Spirit’s intention was in breathing out the Scriptures. And where I am now in my understanding is that if we let our commitment to the human author’s intent void our commitment to the Spirit’s intent and ability to write one book about Jesus, then I think that we have erred. And when others do this, I think that they err too. There is a right way. This seems to be the problem Jewish leaders had in the 1st century. I would guess that they had a good idea of what the authorial intent of the OT writers. But the OT authors never say the word Jesus. So when Jesus came on the scene and said that all of the OT is about him, they rejected his Christocentric interpretation. Don’t you guys agree, then, that hermeneutics is a moral issue? And if that means that a lot of scholars are using wrong hermeneutical methods, is it okay to say that they are wrong too? It didn’t seem to be a problem for Jesus to say the scholars of his day were wrong. And yes, Timmy, I do think that we get it wrong. I wasn’t trying to alarm you. This is why I ask for forgiveness all the time for the way I interpret my Bible. But I don’t think that Jesus was ever wrong. And I don’t think the NT writers were wrong in the NT. So, I’m trying to use their approach, albeit imperfectly.
And again, Block and Kaiser are both men that I greatly respect and have been helped by. But, I think they are wrong if they say that Jesus and the Apostles hermeneutical method is wrong or is not one that we should employ. Block preached a sermon a while back here at Southern in which he questioned Paul’s interpretation of Hosea. I’m uncomfortable with that.
So, to conclude, I think that Jesus believed that the historical nature of the OT was important and, at the same time, it was about him. I think that we should adopt the same hermeneutic, albeit imperfectly. Also, I think that every text applies either to us (unmediated) or to Christ and then us (mediated). My position is the second.
Do you guys agree that we should adopt Jesus’ hermeneutic or not? If not, I’d appreciate it if you could tell me why (so I understand your position right)? Do you guys agree that all Scripture must be mediated through Christ? If not, why? If you could answer these questions, it’d really understand exactly where you’re coming from.
Thanks guys,
Jedidiah8/11/2006 04:40:00 PM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|Jedidiah,

You've been very gracious, so thank you for that. I've really nothing more to add then what I've already said except the following.

I realise Midrash (as a term) may have been misused in the past, but I'm applying it in its classical sense when I speak of Paul's interpretation. I've read a good bit of Midrashim along with Talmudic literature (Mishnaic Hebrew is worth the study anyway!), so I'm quite sure when I read Paul saying that the 'rock' in the wilderness that gave drink to the Israelites was Christ, he was definitely using Midrash in the same way that he might have learned it when he was a good Jewish student named Saul. He could not have helped but to use the same methods once he became a believer. And, I should also say that Midrash doesn't always mean 'fanciful'. But sometimes it is. I will say that while Paul's Midrashic reading of the Israelite experience is indeed an 'inspired' reading of the text, I can still say that he was not practicing historical-grammatical exegesis. And in that sense, I can say that for me, as a non-inspired interpreter, it would probably be best for me not to go his route. Again, let me be clear: I'm not saying Paul's interpretation was 'wrong', and neither did Block. It is simply worth pointing out that the 'original' context doesn't lead one to understanding the rock being Christ. And there is no need to chuck the old meaning in light of the new. In the same way, I don't think Jesus was getting rid of the Law, but fulfilling it.

But I think the Hosea issue might have been different. In other words, Block's suggestion is that the Reformation reading of Hosea might have been wrong, not that Paul was wrong. In other words, Paul's use of Hosea could be understood in both senses: 1)'the just shall live by faith' and 2) 'the just shall live by His faithfulness'. The shortcomings of the Greek language for translating that all too difficult Hebrew phrase here.

And maybe that's a point I'd like to drag out more, but don't have the time, nor venue to do so. Whenever established 'understandings' of the text are challenged, we might need to listen more closely, rather than reacting immediately to what we may not like at first. The issue is most clear in Piper's recent treatment of N.T. Wright (ok, now Timmy pulls away from TML). The suggestion that those who hold to Wright's model of justification are hell-bound is absolutely out of bounds. In my view, this is more of a problem with someone (Wright, or in our case what Timmy and I have been discussing...a la Block/Kaiser) speaking outside the lines of 'the way we've always done it.' So, in conclusion, we might be wiser and sharper in the long run if we don't approach things like, 'Well, the Reformers would have never said that...' or 'Well, that's liberal postmodernism.' Let's listen a bit closer.

Thanks for your time, and of course your spirit.

TML8/11/2006 10:06:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Jed,

Most certainly, I will be remembering you in my prayers. Furthermore, please regard me as someone who wants to listen and encourage as a fellow brother in Christ if you ever want to talk.

Thanks for clarifying your remarks about rebellion. I understand that the issue where liberals and skeptics have questioned and doubted the certainty and trustworthiness of God's Word. As you have stated, this is not the case for Mikey and me. We are all conservative evangelicals who hold to the inerrancy and authority of God's Word, fully inspired by God and universally binding on all men.

From the rest of your comments, I see very little if any place where we disagree. You have concerns in one direction and I have the other, but we both are esentially saying the same thing. It reminds me when Paul defended sola fide in Galatians and James argued against a faith that isn't saving and active in the believer. They aren't contradicting one another, but defending the biblical position that the salvation which we receive is by faith alone - a faith that works in us and perseveres to the end. Two concerns and safeguards but one central position. I happen to see our discussion along the same lines.

Concerning your questions about Block and Kaiser, I think the best way to substantiate your reservations is to give specific examples where you believe that have the wrong hermeneutical method and present your case. I realize that is not possible to do in a comments section of a blogpost, but it would be helpful to those who want to see evidence for your assertions. As you stated, this is a big issue, and to assert that they are (or could be) wrong is a big assertion. And the bigger the assertion, the more evidence and justification required to bring legitimacy to it. You get what I'm saying . . .

Concerning your last two questions, I'm not exactly sure what you are meaning, especially the second one. How is our hermeutic "mediated through Christ?" Of course any biblical theology must include the Christological lens to interpreting Scripture, but I think you are asking for more than that. How much more I am not sure. Where I am coming from is a desire to have a healthy, robust, and faithful hermeneutic that indeed reveals "the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints" which is Christ in us the hope of glory. This stewardship entrusted to us as ministers and servants means that we are "to make the Word of God fully known" (Col. 1:25-26), or as Paul put it elsewhere "to declare to you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). What Word of God or whole counsel was Paul referring to? My guess is the entire Old Testament. Going back to my original post, this is my desire for us as preachers and teachers of God's Word. Let us be faithful and not shrink back from any of God's Word. As we revel in a time where inerrancy has been firmly held, my prayer is that we will continue to see the fruits of that with preachers who follow through on the convictions of the inerrant Word by preaching all of it as God intended.8/11/2006 10:17:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Mikey,

There you go again bringing up N.T. Wright! We'll just have to save that for another discussion.

I tend to agree with Jed that when I first heard Block's assessment of "the just shall live by faith(fulness)", I was taken back a little. Given your textual and linguistic acumen, I am sure you could explain the semantical or translation nuances much better than I can. I would like to get a better understanding of what Block was trying to say there.

Anyway, I agree that we do need to take each issue and refuse to deal with them as second-handers. Yes, I am Reformed in my convictions, but that does not grant me to not be a good Berean. We are to test everything (1 Thess. 5:21) and hold our human allegiances in subjection to our allegiance to God. In the 2000 years of church history, there have been many who have gotten in right and all the more who have gotten it wrong. Even some of the greatest theologians I have issues with in certain matters. So all that is secondary, and we must be mindful of that. Even N.T. Wright. :)8/11/2006 10:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Jed and Mikey,

I think this has been a profitable discussion, one which I think we will find more similarities than differences. When we parse each position, I think for the most part we are on the same wavelength, and while there are some difference of opinion, we all hold to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture (sola Scriptura) and have God's Word as our governor and guide for doctrine and practice. Let me add that this discussion has been a good learning experience for me as I do not consider myself as learned and equipped as I should be in the field of hermeneutics and OT/NT. So thank you, both of you, for spurring me on in an area of study that I needs much more attention in my life.

My hope is that we can continue to have fruitful and meaningful discussion in the future over important matters in faith and practice, that is, if you guys will be so kind to hang around long enough . . . :)8/13/2006 12:57:00 PM|W|P|Blogger jedidiah|W|P|Hey Guys,
Thanks for the responses and kind words. I think you are both right that we are all committed to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture and that we are committed to understanding the Scriptures as they are, and not merely as we are told they are by others. As much as we've been helped by others, I don't think any of us would say "But the Reformers said..." at the end of time when we're before Christ and all things are made clear.
I do think that we are going to have to agree to disagree on our hermeneutical methods at this point. Mikey, you made your position very clear to me on that last one. That was helpful. I would disagree that Paul merely used the hermeneutic of his upbringing after he became a Christian. I think he used a method very similar to many of the methods we are talking about, yet christocentric. And I think that if the historic-grammatical method keeps us from using his method, we should go with Paul and Jesus and not our scholars today. And I think that Jesus and Paul used a method that involves the strengths of the historical-grammatical method. Also, I think, as a result of the NT, that any OT passage (like the Rock in the wilderness or whatever) that isn't applied to Christ misses the meaning. So, Christ is the point of all the Scripture and the mediator of all the Scripture. Our understanding of how this works is probably where we'd disagree.
And about Dr. Block, I'll go back and see if I missed it on him. But my concern isn't really Dr. Block, it's the subject. I hope the best for Dr. Block up in Chicago. But, I think that we would disagree on this subject quite a bit.
Whether we agree or disagree on this, I hope the best for your studies, ministries, and families. Email me anytime.I'll continue to think this through.
Take care,
Jedidiah8/15/2006 12:57:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Scott Slayton|W|P|Timmy, some of the best OT sermons that I have heard come from Mark Dever. I realize that he usually takes large chunks, but he accuratley deals with the text and applies it to his hearers very well. He provides a great model in this regard. I will admit my bias here, but the best OT preacher that I have ever heard is Dr. Block. I heard him preach a series of messages on Malachi and Jonah. Great stuff.8/15/2006 04:09:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Scott,

I have to agree with you on both accounts. My only misfortune is that I have not heard many sermons from Dever in the OT. That's my fault.

One of the most meaningful and personally rewarding studies I did was on the book of Malachi for Dr. Block's class. This was to replace his lectures for that book. However, due to students requests, he preached it on the last day of class. I still remember much of it today.7/24/2006 01:29:00 PM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|This past weekend, my brother and sister-in-law came up to hang out with my wife and me. Besides grubbing at P.F. Chang's and Rocky's, we happened to go bowling (which I hadn't done in a long time). I grew up bowling with my dad and brother, so it was quite nostalgic to strap on those rental shoes, grease up my hands, and pretend like I know what I am doing (I sometimes watch bowling on Sunday afternoons on ESPN, but it's not that exciting). Anyway, I had an opportunity to get a Turkey on my second game, and my brother happened to catch me in the act:
Check out the form baby!
Oh, and I do get a little excited sometimes.
After such a feel-good experience, I was pondering about the possibility of doing this more often. Maybe some of my SBTS blogging friends and classmates would want to challenge me on the lanes? Any takers?|W|P|115376781622914004|W|P|Bowling for a Turkey|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/24/2006 03:03:00 PM|W|P|Blogger William E. Turner Jr.|W|P|white men can jump!7/24/2006 03:19:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Er, make that Middle-Eastern man can jump. Trust me, we're used to it.7/24/2006 06:32:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Nick Kennicott|W|P|Good lookin' follow through! I took bowling when I was at the University of New Mexico for PE credit - I used to average around 200, but it has been a while. Great fun! If I was there, you can guarentee we'd play!7/24/2006 06:32:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Nick Kennicott|W|P|great photo of the balls by the way!7/24/2006 07:50:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Nick,

Thanks for the comments man. I, too, took bowling for my PE class in college. Those were the days man. I also remember going to a youth lock-in with a couple of guys. That night less than 50 kids from the association showed up, meaning that I and the guys with me each got their own lane to bowl all night long. And bowl we did. I kept the score card which tallied all 34 games we played. Yes, I did say 34 games. I couldn't walk for the next three days. I think I had a bonding moment that night with the lanes.

I can't quite bowl 200, but I did happen to break 100 so I guess you could call me "average."7/25/2006 05:49:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Stephen Newell|W|P|You're on. Drop me an email sometime or I'll drop by your belt and we can figure something out. My wife likes bowling too so we could do the double date thing!7/25/2006 07:20:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Alright, Stephen. I will let my wife know. But rule number one is that you cannot use the 8 lb. ball, okay?7/21/2006 07:08:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|
{Click to enlarge}
Two days ago, my wife and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary. That morning (as I usually do when I get home from work), I took my dog out for a walk. As we made it to an open field, I gazed towards the east and was blown away by the sunrise. I made Hershey hurry up and poop, and we sprinted back to the apartment to grab the camera. The rays were simply amazing! Needless to say, that was a good day. However, I must say three years with my bride eclipses the best of these glimpses of beauty. I am a very blessed man. The two picks here is the sun peeking in and out of the clouds at around 6:30 a.m. This past week, I have uploaded several pics from our vacation at the beach, mostly of my nephew Logan (who experienced the beach for the first time). For any of you who care, I will be sharing about my plans to post about photography tomorrow. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
Here's the exif data for the photogs: Camera: Canon 20D Lens: 28-135mm IS USM Focal Length: varied Tv: varied Av: f/11.0 ISO: 200 WB: Custom (4700 K) See also Joe Thorn's, Steve McCoy's, Joe Kennedy's, Alex Forrest's, Matt Wireman's, Kevin Cawley's, and Laura Beth's Friday pics. For poetry and prose, check out Brent Thomas, and for church history, see William Turner.|W|P|115348682584316033|W|P|POTW :: 07.21.06 :: Peakaboo|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/21/2006 08:50:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Kevin|W|P|These are amazing shots!7/21/2006 03:07:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Kevin,

Thanks man! Earlier this morning I spent a little time perusing your Flickr page and enjoyed looking at your photos, especially the one that Joe thought you were so hot (the one after a long hard day).7/21/2006 08:30:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Kevin|W|P|I'm glad you checked that one out because, well, I am hot.

Just to let you know-- since so many of us have been inspired to follow Joe & Steve’s lead, I created a flickr group to save us the trouble of linking to everyone else’s blogs each Friday:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/friday_photo/

Feel free to join the group & pass the invitation along to others.7/21/2006 09:51:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Nick Kennicott|W|P|great photos... and Happy Anniversary. My wife and I celebrate #2 on Monday (24th).

I'm trying something different with the photos - check out my "Contest" and see if you can guess the photo.7/22/2006 12:08:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Kevin Stilley|W|P|wow. neat pics. the look more like paintings than pictures. congratulations and best wishes as you celebrate your first three years.

Blessings, and peace.7/22/2006 01:28:00 AM|W|P|Blogger T|W|P|Timmy, can you email me off post? Just click on my name for my email address. Thanks.7/22/2006 04:51:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Kevin C.,

I will join the group ASAP and pass the info as well. :)

Nick,

Thanks. I will check out your work as well.

Kevin S.,

Really appreciate it. You know, for all the people who have inadvertantly stumbled upon my blog because they typed "pantings" when they were really supposed to type "paintings", this is the least I could do. :)

T.M.,

Will do. Good to hear from you.7/24/2006 10:16:00 AM|W|P|Blogger brittney|W|P|Congratulations on you and Dusti's aniversary!7/18/2006 04:57:00 AM|W|P|Timmy Brister|W|P|

Important Note: I realize that this is a LONG post (over 5,000 words). But please give it a fair hearing – and a full hearing. Thank you for taking the time to consider what I have to say as I hope that it can be profitable to the future of the SBC and our cooperative efforts in the spread of the gospel. Lord willing, this is my final post on this issue. I believe the SBC and the world around us is ready to move on.

Introductory Thoughts

I had originally decided to not post this piece in hopes that the alcohol issue would eventually die, but after reading this article, I feel it incumbent upon me to write this article. It’s a bit lengthy, but I can assure you it was not written in haste. Over a month has transpired since Greensboro, and the ultra-conservatives who have joined the blog world have made it their agenda to address the alcohol issue. Consider what Brad Reynolds said on his blog:

On a serious note, beginning this Wednesday, I will be posting some articles written by different leaders in the SBC, which may be very insightful to the ethical dilemma we are facing. I believe this issue deserves our attention and sober contemplation. Therefore I have asked the leaders of our Southern Baptist agencies, our current president, and two past presidents who helped lead the resurgence to write an article; each bringing their own clarion insights to this hot-button issue.
He then goes on to mention folks like Dr. Akin, Dr. Fish, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Phil Roberts, and Dr. Vines as already agreeing on this issue. We have already heard from Drs. Patterson and Akin, so there should be nothing new here. Furthermore, I do not expect to hear any more convincing arguments from the new contributors either (and I have heard a bunch already).

I am writing this article to argue that the alcohol resolution number five is a pseudo-demarcation line in the SBC. Over the past month, there has been a plumb line drawn in the shifting sands of the SBC over the issue of alcohol consumption, splitting conservatives over a nonessential matter. As you have seen SBC presidents and key SBC politicians are weighing in on the issue. However, I find it incredibly ironic and hypocritical that those in the SBC who are against this issue do not have the liberty to speak out against it. Just this week I heard of an SBC professor who publicly wrote his disagreement with the resolution. The response from some was, “What are you doing? Don’t you know that you can get fired for this?” The article was then removed. Furthermore, strong conservatives are being black-balled by the SBC because of their position on this issue. Within the accepted SBC ultra-conservatives you will find monolithic thought and one absolute interpretation. The scholars and pastors who disagree don’t chime in because, 1), they think this issue is silly and don’t want to, and 2), they can’t because the consequences they face in doing so are simply not worth it. The SBC is naïve and bullish to think that healthy discussion is possible when such suppression and domineering occurs on the one hand, and sneering and baseless rhetoric on the other. Furthermore, I have read dozens and dozens of comments from bloggers who are for this resolution, and after hearing their tone and sarcasm, I find myself distancing myself from those I actually agree with in practice. I would rather associate with a humble, godly brother who drinks wine than 99% of those making the abstinence arguments on the blogosphere. Call be drunk or label me liberal, but I have seen Jesus honored and the Bible expounded (that being ALL the Biblical data, not just the ones that supports one’s position) by my brothers in the moderation camp in a way that I simply have not among the total abstinence proponents.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times when it is prudent to draw a line in the sand over certain issues. The question is whether the dividing line is legitimate and carries sufficient grounds for doing so. In the case of the alcohol resolution, the case for moderation and total abstinence are both biblically argued, and BOTH can be reasoned and explained biblically. The rub comes when one position seeks to trump the other as in this case the total abstinence crowd (BTW I am a teetotaler) has done with the moderation crowd.

Why Demarcation?

So what is the point in having such a demarcation? According to Merriam Webster, a demarcation is “a delimiter which seeks to fix or define the limits or determine the boundaries of an entity.” It is absolutely necessary to define limits and determine boundaries as was shown in the ministry of Paul. Clearly there were some who Paul admonished that believers should “mark” off and avoid fellowship with, including false teachers and those who have “shipwrecked their faith” or “swerved from the truth” (see Rom. 16:17-18; Gal. 1:6-9; Phil. 3: 17-19; 2 Thess. 3:6-12; 1 Tim. 1:18-20; 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 3:1-9; 4:14-15; Titus 1: 10-14; 3:10-11). There were many who walked as “enemies of the cross”, who attempted to “preach another gospel” or pervert the ways of the righteous or claimed to have a secret, mystical knowledge of God. Therefore throughout the formation of the Church in NT times, drawing the line and determining the boundaries was absolutely necessary—but it was always over an essential matter of the Christian faith.

Throughout church history, as the faith was more precisely articulated, the practice of via negativa was as important in their denials of heresies as were the affirmations of orthodoxy. Ergo, the development of creeds and confessions were the universal agreement of a unified orthodoxy. Whether it was the Nicene Creed, the Definition of Chalcedon, or the Baptist Faith and Message, the essential doctrines and beliefs were affirmed while at the same time false teachings and false witnesses were definitively and unapologetically rejected.

But here we are in 2006 – 27 years after the Conservative Resurgence. We have reaped the blessings of a conservative convention now that stands on the inerrancy of the Word of God, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, and the priority of missions and evangelism to reach our world. I have tremendous respect for those who were instrumental in bringing about such a reformation; however, I am afraid that those who have fought so hard on a worthy hill to die upon are seeking new hills and a new fight. Some have found that fight against Calvinists, and others have now found the issue of alcohol. Let’s be totally up front. This is not a debate of conservatives versus liberals. This is conservatives against conservatives, and what is at stake is the definition and delineation of what biblical conservativism really is.

Necessary and Unnecessary Demarcation: A Lesson from the Ministry of Paul

For the past month, what I have seen taking place is an unnecessary division based on a pseudo-demarcation determined by an illegitimate dividing line. Just as it is necessary to defend orthodoxy from liberalism, it is equally as necessary to defend it from ultra-conservativism. This was the threat Jesus faced as we as the NT apostles. I would say the conservative threat of the Judaizers and Pharisees was far more subtle and deceptive than the outright attacks of Gnostics and Stoics. The case is no different today. Let me give two examples in the ministry of Paul that explains a necessary and unnecessary demarcation:

1. Necessary Demarcation: Galatians 2:11-14

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

The book of Galatians is a powerful case for the gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of the cross, and justification by faith. All three of these core beliefs were being comprised in Galatia by the influence of Judaizers who sought to add circumcision as a necessary qualification for one being saved. These Judaizers were involved in causing Galatians to “quickly desert” the God who had called them by the grace of Christ, so much so that Cephas (Peter) had bought into their party. Paul rightly drew a line of demarcation because of what was at stake and called Peter a hypocrite who “stood condemned.” This was an attempt to “nullify the grace of God (2:21) and cause believers to boast in their circumcision rather than in the cross of Jesus Christ (6:13-14). With this dividing line and confrontation of Peter and the “circumcision party,” Paul was restating that “it was for freedom Christ has set us free” (5:1) and that they should not submit themselves to a yoke of slavery. If they do, Paul argues, “Christ will be of no advantage to you” (5:2). As you can see, this is without question a necessary demarcation. What was at stake was the gospel of Jesus Christ, the grace of justifying faith and imputed righteousness, and the glory of the cross. It doesn’t get any bigger than this.

2. Unnecessary Demarcation: Acts 15:36-41

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Barnabas, cousin to John Mark (Col. 4:10), kept insisting to Paul that they should take him along with them on their journey. Paul, having been frustrated by John Marks earlier failure (at Pegra cf. Acts 13:13), had no confidence in him and did not want to take him. This resulted in a “sharp disagreement” in which their partnership in the gospel was dissolved “amicably but with violent emotions” (MacArthur 2:82). So was this dividing line necessary? Some may argue yes, but it is worth noting that John Mark, because of the encouragement ministry of Barnabas, later became a co-laborer in the gospel with Paul later on (Philemon 24; 2 Tim. 4:11; Col. 4:10) and eventually wrote one of the four gospels. F.F. Bruce writes, “It was a pity that the present dispute was allowed to generate such mutual provocation, but in the providence of God it was overruled for good, for in the upshot there were two missionary expeditions this time instead of one” (NICNT, 319). Therefore, looking back in light of providence and history we would say it was necessary, but Barnabas and Paul were not privied to this information.

Resolution No. 5: A Pseudo-Demarcation

Now, going back to the alcohol resolution, let me explain why I believe this resolution is a pseudo-demarcation. I have seven reasons:

1. The alcohol resolution is an attempt to parade a nonessential, obscure, and peripheral matter as the essential to cooperation and a litmus test for true conservativism.

Let me quote Carl F.H. Henry (from his book The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism) again from my earlier post in which he said:

What concerns me more is that we have needlessly invited criticism and even ridicule, by a tendency in some quarters to parade secondary and sometimes even obscure aspects of our position as necessary frontal phases of our view . . . it is needful that we come to a clear distinction, as evangelicals, between those basic doctrines on which we unite in a supernaturalistic world and life view and the area of differences on which we are not in agreement while yet standing true to the essence of Biblical Christianity . . . Unless we do this, I am unsure that we shall get another world hearing of the Gospel (emphasis mine) (xvi-xvii).
What we have done in the past month is parade a nonessential issue as essential to cooperation. Total abstinence has become the litmus test for true SBC conservativism and the boundary for cooperation. This is tragic in many ways, not the least of which is, as Henry says, doing stuff like this causes us to lose a world hearing of the Gospel. As I watched the live video stream of Greensboro, one could not help but hear over and over again the emphasis on missions, evangelism, and taking the gospel to the world. Whatever happened to that focus? Cooperation? Passion? Where we were once centered our attention on reaching the unreached people groups of the world, we have now centered our attention on the unreached arguments for total abstinence. Where we should be focusing on essential matters of our faith and denomination which are being threatened by our world, false doctrine, and compromise, we are debating over the percentage point of NT wine based on speculation and conjecture. Let us listen to Henry and “come to a clear distinction . . . between those basic doctrines on which we unite.” Alcohol certainly is no basic doctrine (and it isn’t a doctrine contrary to what some are arguing).

2. The alcohol resolution is seeking to equivocate social conservativism with theological conservativism, which is instable and inconsistent at best and fallacious at worst.

There are many manifestations of conservativism. There are political conservatives, social conservatives, philosophical conservatives, theological conservatives etc. However, as a Christian, what fundamentally determines what a conservative is through what one believes concerning the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. For instance, a theological conservative is one who holds to the inerrancy of the Bible, the exclusivity of the Christian faith, the reality of hell, justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and a conscious commitment to the evangelization of the world through gospel witness. This is not comprehensive of course, but simply serves to show what theological conservativism constitutes in part.

Social conservativism includes various issues as the standing against divorce, homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, cloning, pornography, etc. There are certain social sins which the Scriptures have specifically addressed, but there are others where the Scripture is silent. There is nowhere in the Bible that says drinking wine is a sin. Drinking alcohol cannot be lumped into these evils simply because one consumes it in moderation. Drunkenness, of course, is sinful as much as gluttony as is gossip as is quarreling. But moderation and drunkenness are as distinct and different as the use or misuse of food consumption.

Furthermore, we cannot elevate social conservativism to the level of theological conservativism lest we develop so many artificial demarcations that no one can cooperate with one another. For instance, if I took the same stance with gluttony, from what I have seen in Greensboro, there would be many who would be disqualified from service and cooperation in the SBC—and you know this is the truth.

3. The alcohol resolution is “Made in America” and thereby reveals its culturally conditioned stipulations apart from the sufficiency and authority of Scripture.

Notice the title of the resolution: “On Alcohol Use in America.” I addressed this already over at Joe Thorn’s blogpost in which I said the following:

I thought it was interesting to note that the resolution is explicitly called “On Alcohol Use in America”. This is intriguing to me because they have culturally and geographically conditioned a resolution by adding “in America.” What are we to conclude by this? Abstinence should be resolved in America, but moderation in say Europe where drinking wine is more accepted in that culture? My point is simply to note how intrinsically attached to culture this resolution has been made. It is “made in America.” But the SBC and Christians base their wisdom and convictions on the universally applied Word of God which speaks to every culture and geographic region in the world. To say that the Scripture calls for abstinence in the United States and not elsewhere is contradictory in application. So why not draft a resolution that is unconditionally universal in its scope and not relativize it to the United States? Here’s the answer IMO. The resolution itself reveals itself culturally and geographically contingencies which displace the Word of God and its sufficiency for “life and godliness” through faithful instruction and universal application. While there are many things I like that are “made in America,” this unfortunately isn’t one of them.

4. The alcohol resolution is but the picking and choosing of social sins to the dismissal or even applause of others.

At Greensboro, one of the highlights was the speech given by Secretary of State Condi Rice. Now, given that she is a fellow Alabamian and has overcome so much to arrive where she is, I have much respect admiration for her. However, it is no secret that she is “pro-choice” regarding the unborn. I do not know of a greater issue that invokes more emotion and commitment from socially conservative Christians than defending the rights of the unborn. But you would not think it at Greensboro. As Mrs. Rice came to speak, American flags were waved and thunderous applause came forth from the masses in applause. This to a political leader who supports abortion! Is this not hypocritical?

As Derek Webb has said, we are trading sins for others which are easier to hide. Why alcohol? Why not divorce? Why not pornography? Why not gossip? I assure you there are hundred times more families and churches destroyed by these social sins explicitly condemned more sinful in Scripture than the “recreational” use of alcohol.

5. The alcohol resolution has lead proponents to develop arguments which are not in Scripture but regard them nonetheless equally as authoritative.

Several SBC proponents of this resolution have argued for what is “best” or “ideal” for the Christian. However, such wisdom cannot be unqualifiedly universally applied. What is wise in one situation may not be wise in another. An excellent example of how proponents have leaped Scripture and deduced logically their argument is the argument of Dr. Patterson on John 2:1-11. Consider what he said:

In Jesus’ miracle at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11), one can neither affirm with certainty that Jesus turned the water into a non-intoxicating wine nor that He drank no wine Himself. But the following evidences cannot be easily bypassed: -- The text nowhere indicates that Jesus participated. Either way the argument is from silence. (emphasis mine)

Given that no one can with certainty make determinative conclusions about this text since arguments are made from silence, one must assume that Dr. Patterson would follow his own advice. But he does not. He goes on to say:

From a standpoint of logic, the "oinos" that Jesus produced was more likely pure, rather than fermented, grape juice, since that which comes from the Creator’s hand is inevitably pure. (emphasis mine)

There you have it. In one breath, Dr. Patterson argues that no conclusive or definitive statements can be made and then immediately follows with one! I can make a lot of arguments from the standpoint of logic in this passage and others such as Ephesians 5:18. Why couldn’t the oinos in Ephesians 5:18 be the same in John 2? Paul clearly says that we should not get drunk with wine. Logically speaking, this must include the possibility that the wine made could get one drunk, lest this admonition be baseless. For a clear and comprehensive rebuttal to Dr. Patterson’s article, check out Concerned SBCer.

6. The alcohol resolution was immediately seen to be an attempt to remove (or at least an attack) Wade Burleson.

After the resolution was brought to the floor, the amendment that adds the language “we urge that no one be elected to serve as a trustee or member of any entity or committee of the Southern Baptist Convention that is a user of alcoholic beverages” was added (emphasis mine). Now, I do not want to contribute to the conspiracy theories which abound (many have argued this to be true), but it is true that many in the SBC are upset with Burleson, his blogging, and his position on alcohol. One might argue that if the IMB can’t get rid of him, then maybe this resolution could be plan B. Either way, both are representative of the very thing Burleson is working hard against—the narrowing of cooperation in the SBC.

7. Finally, someone’s personal preference on the matter of alcohol cannot be elevated to the status of a resolution when there is no Biblical precedence.

It is a personal preference of mine to abstain from drinking alcohol. Yet I cannot biblically argue that those who drink in moderation are not pursuing godliness because they do not conform to my standards. Where should we go with this? How about hair touching the ears? A suit on Sunday morning? You may choose to dress and look such, but there is just as much prohibition against the consumption of alcohol in moderation as there is the articles of clothing I wear. As Nathan White has said, “If you see total abstinence as anything more than a personal preference, then you undoubtedly begin to look down on others who do not follow your ‘conviction’. You will undoubtedly convince yourself that your abstinence is a mark of your obedience and holiness. Your adherence to a rule will only blind yourself further to the real sins of your heart.” Mark Lauterbach adds, “We have no right to bind the conscience of others by adding to the Word of God.” Simply put, where there is no biblical precedence, you cannot push your preference and make it law.

Concluding Thoughts and Personal Appeal

Let me conclude with a few personal remarks. I appreciate the concern of my fellow teetotalers concerning the dangers of alcoholism today. I too have experienced some heartache and pain brought about by ruined and even lost lives. However, we must be clear about something. The real problem is the human heart and its depravity, not alcohol. If we really want to address this issue of alcohol, let us address the human heart and trust the Holy Spirit to do his convicting work without our Pharisaical tendencies to do it our own way. As John Piper said,

“The enemy is sending against us every day the Sherman tank of the flesh with its cannons of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. If we try to defend ourselves or our church with peashooter regulations we will be defeated even in our apparent success.” (Emphasis mine)

What has this resolution accomplished? I don’t know exactly. Maybe the power brokers want a resolution like this to act as catalyst to rally the conservative base because of the events which took place. It was my guess that those who have been in control of the SBC and its future so far have felt threatened by SBC bloggers, and it makes sense that so many have joined the blogging world and using folks like Brad Reynolds to propagate their positions. Maybe.

But what I do know is that the three favorite words of the Pharisees was, “Is it lawful?” And Jesus’ favorite response to them was, “Woe to you, hypocrites! Now I am not calling proponents of this resolution modern-day Pharisees or legalists, but there is a real danger they are facing which they must answer. As Thorn said, “You can’t raise a generation of men and women on the infallible/inerrant word of God and expect them to remain comfortable while introducing extra-biblical law and denying our Christian liberty.” Our conviction on the sufficiency of Scripture should cause us to rest in God’s complete revelation in the Word of God written and the Word of God Incarnate. Where Scripture is silent, we must not speculate.

The other day I was thinking about the work guys at the Together for the Gospel are doing in bringing brothers together across denominational lines with a confessional identity that centers on the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is truly a beautiful thing! I cannot tell you how many brothers I have met from across several denominations who have immensely encouraged me in their words and walk. Now, juxtapose that picture with the alcohol resolution in the SBC. We are a convention being divided over such a pathetic issue as that of alcohol. We could learn some lessons from the T4G guys. Where they have learned to come together for the sake of the gospel, we have learned to be divided for the sake of alcohol. There could not be a more stark contrast than this!

There are three “all’s” which I try to think of regularly during my day. They are, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do ALL (everything) in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17), and “I do ALL things for the sake of the gospel, that I may be a fellow partaker of it” (1 Cor. 9:23). The glory of God. The name of the Lord Jesus. The gospel of Jesus Christ. These three we should do in all things, including what we eat and drink. Do I believe someone can drink wine in moderation to the glory of God? Yes I do. Jesus did.

I long for the day when Baptist Press’ First Person articles are confessions about our triumphalistic attitudes and denominational arrogance wherein we publicly repent of our pride. I long for the day when we point the fingers at ourselves and face the music by making resolutions on our need for reformation and revival. I long for the day when we forge new partnerships for the sake of the gospel and cooperate together for the glory of Christ. I long for the day when we can actually address that issues that exist rather than trying to develop one that doesn’t.

I hearken back the Apostle Paul in my concluding thoughts. At one point in his ministry, he drew a line in the sand over the issue of John Mark because of his weaknesses or ministry failures. I wonder if he pondered this during his missionary travels. Maybe he watched the ministry of Barnabas who encouraged John Mark along the way. I happen to think he did and was better for it. In a letter to Philemon, he makes an affectionate and bold appeal to him on behalf of Onesimus (which means “useful”) whom he called “my child” which he fathered while in prison. Onesimus was at one time useless to Philemon, maybe as Paul at one time thought John Mark was useless. But he is now making this appeal on behalf of Onesimus as “a beloved brother.” Paul expressed that his sending of Onesimus was the “sending of my heart” and Philemon should “receive him as you would receive me.” Paul, in his last days while imprisoned, was laboring as a spiritual father to raise up a generation after him who would partner for the gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew that his life was being “poured out as a drink offering” and that his time of departure had come. Where he at one time was divisive to the exclusion of John Mark, he is now cooperative to the inclusion and promotion of Onesimus.

This past Sunday, Dr. Danny Akin preached a very encouraging message about running the race and mentioned a hilarious story about him running as clean as possible, which included him running with no underwear. He mentioned that if we are going to run with endurance for the prize before us, we must focus on Jesus and follow his lead. Dr. Akin’s words are timely for the SBC. Let us lay aside the alcohol resolution like we did with the Disney Boycott, because this one will in the end prove to be as fictional as the latter. My friends, this is the underwear of the SBC, the weight that is hindering us from moving forward. To a very divided Corinthian church that faced far greater issues than we are facing today, Paul concludes with these words:

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).

Let us, dear brothers, whether you are for or against this resolution take to heart these loving words of admonition from one who experienced them in his own life. The resolution is a pseudo-demarcation in the shifting sands of the SBC. We need to get back the solid rock of Christ and take our stand, hand in hand, lest we face the sobering reality that we have failed to finish the race.

>> Special thanks to those of you who proofread and edited this article. You know who you are. In the transfer of this post to Blogger, formatting errors occured which are beyond my expertise. My apologies.

My articles on the alcohol resolution

  1. SBC Priorities: Alcohol over Integrity in Church Membership
  2. A Confession from Drinking Too Much Welch's Grape Juice
  3. Breaking News In Greensboro . . . Gluttons Don't Drink Alcohol
  4. Conservatism ≠ Legalism? Seeking for Definition and a Defense for Conservatism
  5. The ‘Uneasy Conscience’ of a Modern Southern Baptist
  6. Speaking of Christian Liberty
  7. Samuel Bolton on Maintaining Christian Liberty
  8. Dr. Danny Akin on Alcohol . . . and a Response from Joe Thorn
|W|P|115321721821311312|W|P|The Pseudo-Demarcation Line of Resolution No. 5 and the Shifting Sands of the SBC|W|P|timmybrister@gmail.com7/18/2006 08:30:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Nick Kennicott|W|P|Timmy: BRAVO!!! This is a FANTASTIC analysis of the current situation. Your argument is biblical and accurate, but not harsh and unloving like so many have chosen to be in the midst of this unnecessary debate. I appreciate your willingness to dedicate the time and effort to writing this and will do my part to get others to read what you have so wonderfully stated. Weary of the topic I might be, this is exactly what I have been waiting to read! Again I say, Bravo!!!7/18/2006 01:31:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Nick,

Thanks for taking the time to read my article man. I appreciate the kind words. I am glad you concur. :)7/18/2006 10:41:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Wayne Hatcher|W|P|Timmy,
I am sorry, but I just had to laugh at your mixed metaphor of plumb lines being drawn in the sand. I don't suppose you have any kind of a construction background, do you? Please forgive my humor at your expense.

On a more serious note, I think you go seriously wrong with one of your opening statements.

In the case of the alcohol resolution, the case for moderation and total abstinence are both biblically argued, and BOTH can be reasoned and explained biblically.

I do not believe that those who are arguing against the use of alcohol are coming from a biblical basis, simply because no where does Scripture condemn its use. I have yet to hear a truly biblical argument against the use of alcohol. If you count the rants from the convention floor, with out-of-context references like "flee from every appearance of evil", then I don't know what to say. If you are going to call that sound biblical exegesis then let's all just go home and give up. More often than not the arguments against the use of alcohol are based on drunk-driving statistics and personal anecdotes.

Perhaps you were trying to be gracious. I understand that, and do not doubt that most of these men are good, honest men, following the traditions of those that came before them. All that being said, it is just here that we have a major problem in the SBC. As I have written in my own post on this topic, alcohol is not really what is at issue. The sufficiency of Scriptures is, and it has far-reaching ramifications through out the SBC. Many of the points you make in your post are valid and are deserving of serious attention. I believe, however, on the whole you make this issue more complicated than it needs to be. The alcohol issue is just a symptom of a much larger, but rather simple problem: Is God's word sufficient, even in today's culture, even in America?7/19/2006 01:54:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Jeff Richard Young|W|P|Dear Brother Timmy,

Thanks for the great article.

I believe you are onto what's happening. The power brokers were losing on the issues that were on the table. So they shoved them off the table and put on the table an issue they knew they could win.

They're smart, wiley, experienced operators.

The truth will win out, however, if we are faithful to speak it boldly in love.

Love in Christ,

Jeff7/19/2006 04:26:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|PW,

I am glad that I could provide some good humor for you. Don't worry, it's free of charge. :)

I must confess that I know absolutely about construction. The only experience I have is on the mission field building churches. I really feel dumb now that I think about it!

My statement says that the arguments FOR moderation and FOR total abstinence can be bibically argued. In other words, I am not saying that one can biblically say that it is a sin to drink alcohol. I am only saying that for the one who abstains, they sufficient biblical warrant not to do so. Or, to put it another way, one cannot argue against moderation (no drinking whatsoever) biblically or against total abstinence (one should/must drink) biblically.

I agree that central to this issue is the sufficiency of Scripture, but I think we would have our heads in the sand (next to the plumb line) to think that there is not more to this. Ultimately, the alcohol resolution is adiaphora. What isn't is it's ramifications. This is what troubles me the most.7/19/2006 04:41:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Jeff,

I must say that when you called be "Brother Timmy", it took me back to the days when I was a student minister. I remember when even when I was in Wal-Mart, folks who I didn't even know would holler out, "Hey Brother Timmy!" Those were the days. :)

Yes, absolutely we should speak the truth in love. This is what I hoped to do. What grieves me in all this discussion is to see so many good brothers being called out because of their standing on the Scripture on this matter. I myself have experienced some ostracizing because of my public stance on this issue. So yeah, is the dividing line a false one? Yes. But is it becoming a real one? Unfortunately.

Concerning Greensboro, it was recorded that within 1 1/2 hours into the meeting, bloggers were mentioned. Needless to say, the SBC inner circle did not have things go the way they planned. For many, they assumed that this year would be "business as usual." Others realized that the SBC is in serious need of reform - both in our local churches and from the top down beginning with the presidency. That is but one reason why I believe Frank Page won. Stacked against him was two conservative candidates, one receiving the endorsement of three seminary presidents and a host of SBC megachurch pastors. However, the messengers were more informed and engaged than in years past. I wonder why? Bloggers maybe? It looks like the SBC graffiti is more popular than other had realized.

So if you go back to my post on what I call the "Greensboro/Memphis effect", you will just the beginnings of the SBC inner circle working to take the turf back in the blogosphere. Baptist Press and state papers just won't cut it anymore.

To justify my case, consider this very issue of alcohol. Brad Reynolds, Jeremy Green, and Peter Lumpkins this week are devoting multiple posts on harping on this issue - over a month after it was passed. A brother recently reminded me that the weaker the argument, the louder you must get. This seems to be the case.

But you are right. In the end, the truth will win out. In the meantime, let us seek to be humble, considerate, and focused on the matters that really define who we are.

Thanks again for your encouraging words. I always appreciate your graciousness in your comments.7/19/2006 09:54:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Wayne Hatcher|W|P|Brother Timmy,
Don't get me wrong, as I said, I think your numbered points have merit on their own. I do not doubt that there are some who are migrating to this issue because they know there is popular support among your average members, and it is an issue they know they can regain traction with in regaining power. Most who are speaking out, however, are coming from a pure, passionate, if not misguided, heart. The short section I quoted from your post threw me off ("the case from both sides is biblically argued"), because it seemed as if you had shifted from your previous posts. I know I have read in several of your previous posts your references to sufficiency of Scripture. My main concern is that just because someone cites a few Scripture references in their argument, that doesn't make it a biblical argument. Didn't they teach hermeneutics in seminary during and just before the conservative resurgence? I'm going to be late for work. Got to go.
God bless you and your efforts. Keep it up.7/19/2006 10:53:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Shannon Mckenzie|W|P|Timmy B, thanks for posting this article. I have not really been on top of the wave of responses that have come after the SBC resolution. I thought that your article was a great primer on the situation, and as I have read other posts since, I believe yours to be the most throrough and honest. Thanks for taking the time to write a comprehensive, intelligible response to the issue at hand. I have always been encouraged by your pursuit of knowledge and the pure heart with which you pursue it. Thanks again. Bye the way, I'm in Louisville now. I didn't see you at church when Dr. Akin preached. If you want to catch up some time just let me know.

sevendx7@hotmail.com

251-689-5969

sm7/20/2006 08:38:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|PW,

Concerning my previous posts, I believe that I have consistently argued that central to this issue is the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. My position has not changed on this. What I meant by this post is simply to say that neither the Christian who drink in moderation or the one who chooses to abstain is being unbiblical in their practice. What is unbiblical is when total abstinence are making it an absolute or mandate that one MUST abstain. This is not only biblically unwarranted but as you argued, hermeneutically fallacious.

When SBC leaders like Jerry Vines makes the following statement,

"Physically, socially, domestically, influentially, and yes, biblically, total abstinence is the only way to go for a Christian who takes Bible separation seriously."

there is something really, really wrong here. See Brad Reynold's blog for the context and his later calling out the moderation camp to repentance.

This everything that I hoped would NOT happen. If stuff like this continues, the future of the SBC is in real trouble.7/20/2006 08:47:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|Shannon,

Great to hear from you brother! Glad you are in Louisville. I just had breakfast with a brother new to the Louisville area who works with me at UPS and will be attending Southern. I am excited to see all the new faces and partake in new friendships; moreover, I am excited about rehashing old ones as well, not the least of which is the blessing I have had in knowing you as a dear brother.


Yeah, I was there in the 2nd service when Dr. Akin preached. Actually I was on the second row on the right side. I don't normally sit on the front, but some friends of ours asked us to sit with them.

Thanks man for the gracious comments. It is my hope to be thoroughly biblical in my position, fair in my presentation of differing views, and charitable in my discourse with others. The last part has been difficult at times with people who write outlandish and sarastic things, so I find myself practicing a lot of restraint lately. My advice is to stay out of the blogs that are throwing the empty rhetoric and consider those who have carefully and critically reasoned the evidence of all the Scriptural evidence.

Yes, we need to catch up soon. I will try contact you in the near future. God bless you brother, and I look forward to beholding the beauty of Christ together.7/22/2006 10:27:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Wayne Hatcher|W|P|Brother Timmy,
Thanks for the clarification. I think we are on the same page, after all. You are right, there is big trouble "brewing" if this kind of rhetoric continues. Unless cooler heads prevail, the SBC could be headed for a split.7/22/2006 04:57:00 PM|W|P|Blogger J. Gray|W|P|Timmy,

Great article.

I feel your pain...as a teetotaler who disagrees with the Resolution and who is discoraged by the rhetoric that is accompanying this discussion... I kind of feel like the odd man out.

I am curious your thoughts as to the discussion of this topic going on at www.sbcwitness.com

Thanks.

J. Gray7/22/2006 10:21:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Timmy|W|P|PW,

Not only do we need cooler heads, we need warmer hearts. This discussion is sour to so many. I have received many emails offline from those whose convictions are consonant with those shared in my article and don't want to see the SBC be divided over this.

J. Gray,

I read your comments on SBC Witness, and I agree with your sentiments. I am really curious what all these blogs that have started because of this alcohol issue will do when this is over. Maybe that is why so many are harping on this. They may not have anything else to say.

In the political process of election, there is such a thing as negative turnout. That is, people turn out to cast their vote, not because of support but because of opposition to a candidate or position. For instance, 2004 presidential election experienced this in many facets, not the least of which was opposition to the many state homosexual amendments attached to the ballot.

In the SBC political process, their may not be a political vote being cast in the upcoming future (although I think the fact that Dr. Page won on the first ballot despite the endorsements from three SBC presidents and a host of other megachurch pastors for other candidates), I do think political opinion is be swayed negatively after having read not just the arguments being made, but the spirit in which they are being made.

When you go to the point to say that if one does not agree with the absolutist interpretation of total abstinence that he or she cannot honestly agree with the BF&M, people will clearly see the implications to this attack. The only thing argument/attack that remains to be seen is whether they will argue that moderationists are not Christian altogether. It would not surprise me if this would be made. This would be the next level of degradation this conversation results to.

However, I respect SBC Witness in that they have chosen not to partake of the baseless rhetoric of many who are arguing for the resolution. I actually happen to know a couple of the guys personally and consider them to great guys and honorable brothers in the Lord. I will be interested in seeing, however, whether they will include statements and positions of those they disagree with in a fair and objective manner.-->