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.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
2006 Desiring God National Conference - Friday Photos
Well, here is a little sampler of some of the photos I took today. After a long, 27-hour drive in the back roads of America (I crossed seven states), it was good to finally make it to the conference just in time. You can view all my photos from the conference as well as my subsequent backpacking trip in an album I have created on my Flickr page. To use any of these photos for print or publication, please contact me. For blog or internet use, feel free to use as you wish (please provide attribution). More to come tomorrow.
2006 Desiring God National Conference - Initial Thoughts
Five months ago at the Together for the Gospel Conference, I first saw the video trailer for the 2006 Desiring God National Conference and said to myself, “Self, you’ve gotta be there.”Well, not really, but at that moment I began making plans for this conference which included reading Wells’ book Above All Earthly Pow’rsand changing my original plans of attending the SBC Annual Meeting in Greensboro.I have never been to Minneapolis and have long desired to visit BethlehemBaptistChurch.Also, over the past years, I have met several folks who are either from BBC or are currently members there and look forward to seeing them in their context.
A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I was looking at some audio books to listen to while driving this week.Well, I have four that I have scheduled to listen to as well as some other sermons and lectures.Here’s what my drive time audio looks like right now:
A Primer on Postmodernism by Stanley Grenz (audio book)
Can Evangelicals Learn from World Religions? by Gerald McDermott (audio book)
The Universe Next Door by James Sire (audio book)
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer (audio book)
The Pleasures of God by John Piper (audio book)
Reform & Resurge Conference audio
John Piper sermons on sanctification and providence (from Romans)
Tim Keller sermons on the gospel, church planting, and culture
SBTS chapel messages to date (for Fall 2006)
A couple of messages by John Murray on Election and Foreknowledge
When I get back, I think I will post some reflections on what these books and sermons and may offer some recommendations.I have read most of them, but it will be good to listen to them as a different means of assimilation and meditation.There are several things I am wanting God to do in my life this week, and I am praying that He will be pleased to work in me profoundly to conform into the image of His beloved Son, my Treasure.
A couple of people whom I had the pleasure to meet first at the T4G Conference that I especially look forward to hanging out with include Challies, Marc, and Joe.I also look forward to meeting many others for the first time whom I know through their writings either through they blogs or their comments.
Lastly, depending on whether I have an internet connection or not, I will attempt to post up-to-date photos of the speakers and happenings at the conference.When I did this for the T4G conference, it seemed to be received well, so I will give it a try again (I have noticed that Blogger is having problems uploading again, so that too may prevent my posting).Joe told me that Cawley knew of a hot spot for free wifi and good food, so we might be hitting that up upon his recommendation.In any case, I hope to have something up on P&P, so please stay tuned.In the meantime, let me just take a moment to say thanks for reading my blog.There are tons of other things you could do than spend a few moments reading P&P, and I am grateful for your interest, interaction, and encouragement along the way.
Yesterday, Dr. Tom Ascol shared that another editor of a SBC state paper (this time the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s Baptist and Reflector), took their editorial privileges to pronounce his woes against Calvinism.Lonnie Wilkey, editor of the Baptist and Reflector, recent wrote an article called “Calvinists have no sense of urgency—Jesus did" in which he reveals a very popular and yet a-historical and unbiblical hit piece on Calvinism.Concerning such gross errors, Ascol comments, “His latest published editorial will leave many Southern Baptists seriously concerned about his ability to understand important theological discussions that are taking place among us.”What is all-the-more revealing about the such articles is not so much the “scurrilous misrepresentations” (as Ascol puts it), thought that is definitely there, but one cannot but begin to wonder how these people can get away saying what they are saying.I mean, come on, he is not blogging here.This is a state paper which is supposed to carry some degree of credibility (at least more than bloggers).Yet what we are finding more and more is that many of our state papers are producing more fictitious pieces than one would want to admit.But why is this happening?
One of my fears of the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC comes from its lack of ability to criticize itself.That is one of the reasons why I spoke out so publicly about the resolution debacle concerning alcohol and other matters in the SBC in the past.Bobby Welch can say what he wants in SBC Life as a “parting” word that is just inexcusable, and over the course of this past year, several instances like this show just why alternative forms of media and communication is necessary.While I have no problem pointing out the errors and bias of the Associated Baptist Press, I also want to hold the same level of criticism to our conservative papers as well.One of the best things our conservative leaders could do, whether they are Calvinist or Arminian, is to speak out when their conservative brothers publicly write things that are not scholarly, biblical, and truthful.It’s fine to hold a strong opinion and share it, but it is fair game when it is provided to the public.When such a piece as Mr. Wilkey’s goes unfettered by the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence, I simply have to question whether we have lost the ability to hold ourselves accountable to the same standards and Scripture that we place on others.The future of our convention lies not in the hands of “yes men” who emphasize appeasement over conviction but those who are not obligated to pay favors or practice selective silence when it most befits their cause.There is a greater cause to be had in our convention than our agendas—that is God’s truth.If we continue with the same ole same ole, we will find that our convention is littered with more kissing Judases than cross-bearing Christians.God forbid that we live to see that day.
Yesterday, I shared that I hope to spend Monday and half of Tuesday of next week photographing and traveling through Minnesota’s NorthShore.The latter half to Tuesday and early Wednesday will comprise my second destination—Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands.
Located at the northern most tip of Wisconsin, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a land of pine and hemlock; eagle and bear. It is the ancestral home of the Ojibwe people with the nation's finest collection of historic lighthouses and newest wilderness area. The 12-mile mainland unit and 21 islands include more than 154 miles of shoreline, a paradise for campers, boaters, and kayakers.
As come across the border into Wisconsin, I plan on stopping at AmniconState Park and check out the AminconFalls, a series of small waterfalls in the state park.I will then proceed up to the ApostleIsland from the West, first stopping at the Lakeshore Trail on Meyers Beach hopefully making my way to some sea caves.I must say that I have never seen a sea cave, so this could be a really cool experience.From there I will work may around the uppermost tip of ApostleIslands, stopping at SandyBay and the city of Bayfield.After sunset, I will hop onto a ferry which will take me to MadelineIsland, the largest of the 21 islands, where I will be camping at BigBayState Park.On the Island, I hope to be able to catch a few good shots at night over the water.According to the lunar schedule, the moon should be 74% visible, making night shots quite nice.
Wednesday morning, I hope to rise to catch the sunrise and eventually make my way back down to my final shooting destination—ChequamegonBay.After that, I have about a 19 hour drive back to Louisville.That will be fun.
In all, I hope to capture three lighthouses, six waterfalls, sea caves, sunrise and sunsets over Lake Superior, wildlife, and the culture of the North Shore and Apostle Islands.That’s a tall order for 48 hours of camping and photographing, but hopefully it can be done. For more information on the ApostleIslands, check out:
One of the long term goals I have regarding my research and studies regarding religious pluralism is to put together a complete series of posts which will break down the pluralistic hypothesis piece by piece and provide an evangelical critique to each element.I have roughly put together what looks to be a foreseeable outline of my studies.Of course, as I continue to assimilate and formulate more information, this may change, but I provide this at this point because some of you may be interested in somewhat of a breakdown of the pluralistic hypothesis, in particular dealing with John Hick and his contemporaries.Unfortunately, there has been relatively little evangelical critique on the voluminous works that Hick and others have put out. Part of the reason why I have chosen to take up this challenge is because of its eminent threat to the heart of Christianity and that it appears that so few evangelicals see it as such (at least not enough to make it a priority).
Below is a rough outline of 35 elements or aspects of the pluralistic hypothesis according to contemporary pluralists spearheaded by Hick.Following are 17 various critique points that I have sketched down through my readings.As I continue to draw closer to writing about these issues, I would like to keep you informed on my research on studies.Therefore, as a preliminary marker, this post simply wants to point you to some of the arguments made by pluralists today (at least in bullet form).Should any of you be interested in studying this further, I plan on posting a lengthy bibliography in the near future (lengthy meaning over 450 entries).If you are familiar with Hick’s works or the pluralistic hypothesis, feel free to interact with this brief summary outline and point me to some other elements that I may be missing.Anyway, more to come in the future.My goal is to develop this in the next 2-3 years.We’ll see how that goes.In the meantime, here’s where I am right now:
Elements of the Pluralistic Hypothesis
Pluralist Control Beliefs (apriori commitments)
Rejection of Natural Theology
Religiously Ambiguous World
Virtue of Doubt
Subjectivity of the Knower as Authoritative
Logical Positivism Effects
The World of Phenomenology
Noumenon and Phenomena
Personae and Impersonae
The Ineffability of the Real
Phenomenon of Salvation/Liberation
Parity and Plurality of Religions
Grading Religions and Criteria
The Argument of Saintliness
The “Bullshit Detector”
Conflicting Truth Claims
Nature of Truth (No proposition, only personal)
Revelation as Experiencing-As (Direct and Mediated)
Radical Textual Criticism
Myth of Incarnation
“Christian Uniqueness” and “Superiority”
“Son of God?”
Christ Cannot Have Two Natures
Church Deified Jesus Centuries Later to Justify Historical Evils
Points of Critique Concerning the Pluralistic Hypothesis
Hick’s Numerous Duplicities
Intolerance of Pluralist Epistemology
Warranted Christian Doubt
Just Another Epicycle?
The Certainty of a Skeptic
The Unobservable Real (what apriori source of idea of Real?)
Radical Discontinuity of Real and Radical Continuity of Religions
More Self-Centered than Reality-Centered
Epistemology Grounded Ethically and not Ontologically
The Pluralist Vantage Point
Christianity: A Revealed Faith
Distinction between General and Special Revelation
Where Does the “Bullshit Detector” Come From?
Note: Please don’t comment or email me about certain words in the outline.I assume that there is some degree of maturity in those who read my blog.I do not such words in everyday life but refer to them in my research and analysis to be fair to the argument made.
Over the past two weeks, I have been looking for the best place to do my Fall excursion.Never having been up north, I have very little knowledge of the landscape and places to backpack, camp, and take photos.This year, I will have approximately two days for this excursion, which will be my shortest trip to date.However, I believe these two days will be rewarding as I have become excited about the places I will be traversing.
Today I want to share with you my projected itinerary for Monday, and tomorrow I will share where I will be Tuesday (of next week, that is).The goal I have in mind for my Fall trips is primarily photographic, so while I would consider venues such as kayaking, skiing, or fishing, I have structured my trip that will emphasize what will hopefully provide the best photographic results.
On Monday, after enjoying a long-anticipated lunch with long-time friend, Larry Backlund, I will make my way north to The Arrowhead and in more particular The North Shore.Tim Brewer, author of Moon Handbooks Minnesota, has this to say about Minnesota’s NorthShore:
Minnesota’s NorthShore is one of the places that truly deserve all the accolades so freely heaped upon it.Officially an All-American Road, the 150 miles of Highway 61 from Duluth to the Canadian border is about as rewarding as a drive can be.Tucked in between Lake Superior and the worn down remnants of the ancient SawtoothMountains you’ll find improbably tall shoreline cliffs, countless waterfalls, lighthouses, myriad moose, and much more.The drive can be made in a couple of hours, but several days are needed to do it justice.Few places in the Midwest are better suited to fall color touring than the NorthShore; the beautiful surroundings are one reason, but the lake is another.While leaves in-land turn between mid-September and mid-October, Superior’s warm waters delay the lakeshore peak by a couple of weeks greatly extending the season.Storm watching is another fall pastime—when the wind whips out of the northeast, huge waves thrash the shore.
As we continue to focus on becoming a world Christian, I would like to encourage you to remember the Hui people of China.While it would not appear that Islam would be prominent among the Chinese people, almost all the Hui people are Muslim.As a matter of fact, Islam in China is almost synonymous with the Hui people.According to the most recent statistics, there are less than 200 Christians among the Hui people, totaling between 8 and 12 million people (estimates vary according to researchers).If you do the math, that comes out to be one Christian for about every 65,000 Hui.Let’s pray that God would do a work among these people and many laborers would be raised up among these people who have yet to hear and trust in Jesus.Here’s the info:
Numbering over 10 million, the Hui are the largest and most widespread of China's Muslim nationalities. They can be found living in almost every city, province, and region of northwestern China. While they do not make up a majority in any of the provinces, they have been culturally and politically dominant throughout China. Their influence has caused much of the Northwest to be regarded as Muslim territory.
The Hui trace their ancestors back to Muslim traders, soldiers, and officials who came to China during the seventh through fourteenth centuries, settling and marrying local Han women. They differ from other Chinese Muslim groups in that they do not have their own language. Instead, they speak the Chinese dialect of their locality, mixed with a few Arabic and Persian words. The Hui have so well assimilated into the Chinese society that they are almost indistinguishable from the Han Chinese, except in dietary and religious practices.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Hui are famous traders. In fact, it was their interest in profitable business ventures that caused them to become scattered throughout China. However, to retain religious purity and group identity, the Hui have always remained socially segregated.
The rural Hui of northern China grow wheat and dry rice, while those farther south raise wet rice. Some may also engage in small-scale industries, raise sheep and cattle, and grow some vegetables for profit.
Urban Hui are most often laborers or factory workers who are employed, housed, and educated by the state. Others are shopkeepers and butchers. The butchers still provide halal meat. This refers to meat slaughtered according to Islamic standards.
The Hui diet consists of rice, flour, beef, mutton, and chicken. There is a religious taboo on pork as well as on the meat of horses, donkeys, mules, and all wild animals.
Since the 1949 Socialist reforms, Hui traditions such as early marriages, arranged marriages, and polygamy (having more than one wife at a time) have been outlawed. Women now have the same divorce and inheritance rights as men. The government rewards "late" marriages (those in the late to middle twenties), and adherence to the family planning norm of only one child per couple. According to Muslim custom, Hui women are forbidden to marry non-Hui, but Hui men may marry Han or other non-Hui women who are willing to follow Islamic practices.
What are their beliefs?
Ninety percent of the Hui are Muslims. It is no wonder that Islam in China is often called "the Hui religion."
Among the Hui, there are many different Islamic sects. The older factions arose out of the need to adapt Islam to Chinese culture. The newer sects developed out of the desire to 'purify' Chinese Islam. Ironically, however, there is a wide range of devotion to Islam among the Hui. In northwestern China they are quite conservative; while in northeastern China, they are more liberal. There, they smoke, drink, and eat pork when away from home. Overall, the Hui are said to be among the least radical Muslims in the world. Visiting Muslims are often disgusted with their lack of depth.
The Chinese government continues to allow the Hui to bury their dead in Muslim cemeteries while all Han must now be cremated. Presently, the Hui are exempted from some aspects of China's controlled birth program.
What are their needs?
The Chinese government clearly favors Islam. Mosques are exempted from property and housing taxes, and several famous old mosques have been renovated with government funds. The government also pays for the training of new ahongs, or religious leaders.
Chinese Muslims are reluctant to become Christians since persecution often follows such a decision. Christian broadcasts and literature are available to the Hui, but there are presently no known Christians among them.
*Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the Hui, no matter what the cost.
*Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
*Ask God to raise up loving Chinese believers who will take Christ to their Muslim neighbors.
*Pray that God will call qualified linguists to complete translation of the Bible into Kuoyu, the Hui language.
*Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of these Muslims toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
*Pray that God will open the hearts of China's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
*Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Hui.
For more information, go to:
" . . . and the glory of children is their faither(s)." Proverbs 17:6
While it would be tempting to chalk up these comments to cheesy sentimentality, I would rather like to think of them as a mere surfacing of a deep and abiding reality in my life.Today, my family acknowledges the birth of my father and celebrates his life—a life spent giving, loving, and selflessly sacrificing in such a way that his reward does not come from his right hand acknowledging the left or the crowd applauding his performances, but from the smile of our heavenly Father whom he has so faithfully represented.So today I celebrate a man who has lived before me as one who is my silent warrior, who daily labors for me in prayer that I would be a man of God and that my life would be consecrated to Jesus, a father who has trained me up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and instructed me more with his walk than with his words, a friend who has invested more time listening and encouraging than any person in my life.He is a silent warrior in that he is fighting the good fight as a faithful man of God who walks in his integrity and feet does not slip, whose speech is sound and not perverted, whose heart is tender and sensitive to express the love of God to everyone he meets.
So to my silent warrior, I cannot allow this day be silent without saying “Happy Birthday.”I know that the worth of these words cannot be measured in their length, but I hope that they be weighed in the depth of my gratitude to God for you.Even more, as I continue to learn to walk in the ways of the Lord, I will continue to realize this as I will find myself tracing the paths of one who walked before me in faithfulness, always pointing me to Jesus.So today, as I sing the praises of my father on his birthday, you just might find me placing my feet in familiar places, for God has given me one whose footing is sure and path is right.Thanks, dad, for giving your life away.May God richly bless you on your birthday.
Needless to say, I am really excited about the conference this week. But I am also excited about seeing some folks I haven't seen (ever) or since the T4G conference. With the thousands of people who will be there, it could be easy to go the entire weekend and never see some of you. As far as I know, there is no scheduled meet up, so I was wondering if maybe I could get in contact with some of you to hang out and possibly grab some lunch or dinner.
If you are interested, let me know either by commenting here or emailing me at outpostministries [at] yahoo [dot] com. We can exchange numbers and info later. It will be good to be refreshed and encouraged by the kindred fellowship there. May God continue to unite our hearts for the supremacy of Christ in our postmodern world.
I have calculated the amount of driving I will be doing next week, and it comes to a total of about 38-40 hours.Now that is a lot of time, so I have been thinking about how I could best spend that time for the glory of God and my sanctification.Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone riding with me who can read an entire book (as Joe did with Steve coming back from Greensboro).So I have been downloading a ton of lectures and sermons of late but have also been considering some audio books as well.
So I was curious to know if anyone has listened to any audio books and what your thoughts were on them.I listened to a few a long time ago but have little knowledge about audio books in general.If you have listened to some, do you have any that you would recommend?For those interested in checking out audio books, you can find some at Christian Audio as well as this site which has some good audio of the Puritans and Baptists (also here some MP3's of classical literature from CCEL).Any input or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
Also, I have a bunch of chapel sermons from school I need to listen to.In case you didn’t know, chapel attendance is now a part of the academic requirements in some classes.So if I want to get an “A,” then I need to get up on these things.If there are other ways I could spend my time well while driving, please let me know.I really want to make the most of this solo trip, and I desire that the Lord use this time of solitude to school me in His truth.
Well, this past week was quite fun with the Google Search Engine.Since last Sunday when I reported the unusual high volume of Googling, there were an additional 393 various searches totally 1,088 total references to P&P.As a result, deciding on what would make my top 10 weird Google searches was a little more difficult.In any case, I have the results from this past week.Enjoy.
Top 10 Weird Google Searches #4
9.timberland boy boots 6522
7.perdido key president’s forum
6.waterboy “She is the devil”
5.pat robertson flexing
4.40 Days of Discernment
3.marilyn monroe burial fotos
2.how to get rid of demons in a persons life-calvary chapel
1. tattoos cross “only god can judge me”
To view previous weird searches, check out: One, Two, and Three
After what happened (or didn't happen) today, it looks like we will need extra counselors in the not-so-sweet home of Alabama. Depression, divorce, drunkenness, all-out disaster . . . there will be a great need for friends in low places, but just not from the plains, okay?
As I shared in my last post, I wanted to share with you five more photos from last year's trip - this time some pics of myself (not that I am narcissistic though). A couple were taken my good friend and photog partner Dan Canales, who by the way, just got a new website up. Also, I am nearing completion of my personal itinerary for next week, and I am excited about it (for what it's worth, here is last year's itinerary if you want to check out where we went). I hope to share it with you in a couple of days. In the meantime, here are five more photos reminiscing on last year:
1. Refresh Me Please (me as a ghost @ Dry Falls)
2. Daninmyeye (click and look closely to see Dan in the camera lens)
3. Imapretender (taken by Dan while I was shooting)
4. Asolo's in Action (taken by Dan while I was on a ledge scoping out the landscape off the Blue Ridge Parkway)
5. Basking in Beauty (taken by Dan at susnet on Devil's Courthouse summit)
Because I will not be able to post a POTW next Friday, I am going to double up this week if that is okay with you. And instead of throwing up some of my recent takes, I thought I'd reminisce of last year's backpackin' and photography trip to TN/NC. Both today and tomorrow I will be posting some of the most popular photos I took during that weekend. We hiked 10-12 miles a day, photographed 18 waterfalls, and covered mountain ranges including the Great Smokey Mountain National Forest, Cherokee National Forest, Balsam and Mt. Pisgah mountains, and the Nantahala basin.
Anyway, here are some of the nature pics I took. Tomorrow, I will post some of my personal favorites from last year's excursion. We'll see if next week I can capture something sweet when I travel north . . .
My Five Most Popular Pics
From My 2005 Backpackin’ & Photography Trip
2. Moonrise Over Whiteside Mountain
3. Looking Glass Falls
4. Sunrays on the Blue Ridge Parkway
5. Turtleback Falls
* To view all my pics from last year's trip, go here. To view larger size, click on the images.
For such an eventful week, it is only fitting to share this prayer which was a mainstay in my devotional life during a series of deep valleys for me while I was in college (and continues to be today). For those of you currently going through a valley, may God give you a vision of Himself that sweetens your steps and provides a perspective to esteem such intimate providence as expressed in this prayer.
The Valley of VisionLord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee
in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from
and the deeper the wells the brighter
Thy stars shine;
Let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.
This prayer and others like it can be found in the book, The Valley of Vision (of which few if any books could be receive higher recommendation).
Note: After writing this, I am quite tired. I apologize for any errors in it as I have not proofread it. It is over 3,300 words, so I realize that this may not be read by many. But I wrote this because my heart grieves over this situation and earnestly hope that I can contribute something positive to what has continued to become perpetually more negative. Please accept this lengthy article as a sincere word from the heart of a fellow brother in Christ who is catering to neither camp in this situation but only wants to encourage all of us (including myself) to think, write, live, and love in a way that is pleasing to Jesus. Thanks.
As I sit here, attempting to gather all my thoughts from the past couple of days, I find myself writing this with a measurable degree of reluctance.Of all people, I consider myself least relevant or worthy to address the issues here, but then again that may be my vantage point.I don’t want to go into the long details of the history of these tragic events, and it may be if you are not aware of what is going on, this post should be ignored.
But, it goes without saying that what has happened at FBCWPB has garnered national attention from mainstream press as well as blogs.At the outset of the developing story, I chose to refrain from commenting because I knew that others would be addressing the issue and didn’t think my commentary would be worthwhile.However, as providence would have it, I found myself backed into the situation just from doing a little homework and researching why and how all the new people (in the hundreds) have arrived at my blog.
Soon thereafter, I received word that Johnny Hunt this past Sunday had some strong words to say about bloggers, which I mentioned here.Not sure what was the source of that provocation, I did not speculate on what Hunt was addressing from his pulpit.However, within a matter of hours, I began getting emails and comments from people with sources within FBC Woodstock as well as members from FBCWPB about the connection with the Palm Beach Post Community Forum to which I was directed.Why I Am Writing
Although I am writing with this reluctance, I feel I should speak to this situation for a couple of reasons.First, I was brought into this situation as my blogposts and even comments were included in the forum discussion.Second, I have been corresponding to some members of FBCWPB and felt that it would be worthwhile to attempt to speak directly to the situation.Thirdly, while I do not know or have attended FBCWPB, I do know both Steve Flockhart and Johnny Hunt and have visited Crosspointe (then 2nd Baptist Church Millington) as well as FBC Woodstock on dozens of occasions.However, let me say that my acquaintance has been brief and uneventful, so I cannot and will not attempt to speak for or about these men.Finally, I love the SBC and even more the local church, the Bride of Christ.If there is anything I can say to build up the church, encourage believers, and care for those hurting, then I will chip in.
Therefore, the intent of this article is not to address the dealings with Flockhart or Hunt but specifically about the Palm Beach Post Forum.That is not to say that the things which occurred are not important but simply to note that I am choosing not to address that aspect at this time.What happened is serious and catastrophic in scope, and I don’t want to minimize the consequential nature of what occurred.But having spent considerable time reading the forum and corresponding to church members, I am delimiting my comments to the response of FBCWPB and Crosspointe members alone.
At this point, the forum has over 50 threads concerning the Flockhart situation.Yesterday, I spent a great deal of time trying to understand the nature of what is going on, and I noticed a couple of things.First, it is a forum and not a blog, and those who comment carry a screen name that usually upholds anonymity and doesn’t leave opportunity to contact the individuals personally (from what I could tell).Also, most of the threads are comprised of a relatively small number of people (compared with the sizes of Crosspointe and FBCWPB) who are really upset with the situation.However, this forum has received a great deal of attention, not the least of which I am lead to believe was the source of Hunt’s comments from this past Sunday.
After spending several hours (literally) reading through the threads, I must say that it was excruciating for me as I was left with a pounding headache and a very depressed and troubled spirit within me.It appears that there is little or no moderation on what is being said, and I fear that the comments are spiraling out of control.Therefore, I am writing this in hope that my article can be a caution if not a stop sign in the superhighway of drive-by attacks and harmful statements that are taking place.With that said, I turn my attention to those who have posted on the forum:
My Response to the Palm Beach Post Forum
I have tried to understand what you are hoping to accomplish out of this forum, and I cannot help but think that the predominate goal is to achieve vindication from what has happened to you.I understand that you want your voices heard and the truth to come out, but it is clear that the approach you have taken has led you down to a path where such vitriolic and vehement comments have eclipsed any profitability in public discussion because what is on display is not civil discussion seeking clarity, reconciliation, and healing, but untamed tongues and unruly attitudes seeking sympathy from the world.Please hear me—the direction of your disclosure on this matter should be heavenward in prayer rather than fleshly in gossip, slander, and gloating over other people’s failures.
I also feel that is important that you take your hurt, concerns, and questions to your respective churches.This is not a matter for the Palm Beach Post.This is a matter for the church to which you belong to address.In other words, this is a family matter, one which should be privately taken up within the ecclesiological leadership who have been called to handle the affairs of God’s people, not a faceless, unaccountable forum.Secondly, from another perspective, the issues being handled in each church should not be influenced, controlled, or guided by any other church or denominational entity such as state conventions or papers.I am not saying that you shouldn’t seek advice and godly counsel outside your church, but rather I am simply saying that you should respect the God-appointed authority and work through the channels in the church were unity could be kept and truth can be upheld.Hunt, Woodstock, Florida Baptist Convention, or any other outside influence should not dictate what takes place as you seek to move forward in being the church God has called you to be.
Another concern I have had after reading many of the comments is an implicit denial of God’s providence in the affairs of life and tacit denial of God’s sovereignty in all things—including things which we don’t fully understand.I am not in the least bit in a place to explain why this has happened to you, but I can stand on the counsel of God’s Word that God is exhaustively and meticulously work in and through the events that have taken place.Unfortunately, from what I have read, it appears that those of you commenting are wanting to take the matter into your own hands.Rather than approaching the situation as though providence is not real and God is not sovereign, let me encourage you to submit yourselves to God and surrender your rights to get the last word.
Consider for example the life of Joseph who had a series of terrible circumstances take place in his life, all which resulted him being placed second only to the king.What was his perspective on what took place?Joseph replied, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).Joseph’s brothers just prior to this response called their actions evil and worthy of Joseph’s hatred, but the Scripture tells us that “he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (vs. 21).Joseph knew that there were two meants—one was his brothers and the other was God’s.Behind all the sin and evil being perpetrated against Joseph, he knew that God was sovereign and His purpose would stand (Proverbs ).I am sure that you are well aware that “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans ).So in light of God’s character and working in our world, let us reflect this reality in our perspective as well as the way we respond to situations life when we don’t understand (Proverbs 3:5-6).
What was evil for the Israelites was the forgetting and forsaking God to go after idols who could not satisfy them.I recall the Israelites in the wilderness grumbling against Moses and wishing they were back in Egypt in bondage and captivity.Egypt is representative the place where the Christian should not place their confidence, trust, hope, and security.Consider a woe from the mouth of Isaiah when he said, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord! (Isaiah 31:1).As a Christian, Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel, is our only source of strength, our refuge, our shelter in the time of storm, our very present help in time of trouble, our portion in the land of the living, our rock and fortress and shield.My struggle with this forum is that I believe you are taking the issue to Egypt (a secular, public forum) rather than to God and His church.Let me plead with you to go to God with all your heart and receive counsel from His Word rather than seek sympathy from the watching world.
As I think back on my own life and ministerial experiences, I can quickly recall to you some terribly painful experiences in my own life—accounts where I have been manipulated, mistreated, slandered, and even physically threatened.I have been wrongfully fired from churches in the past only after having been verbally molested by men who could only call me “Absalom” instead of my real name. I share this with you because I have my own scars and wounds and have felt the hurt and pain of being wronged, mistreated, and manipulated.And yet I fear that my experiences is not too uncommon in churches today.It has been a long, hard road, but I can testify to you today that God used those times in my life to grow me in grace and reveal to me areas of hidden sin that kept me from a closer communion with Him.When I look at God’s work in sanctifying me, nothing grew me more and grounded me in God’s Word than the times of greatest testing.
So it may very well be that God has allowed this to take place to grow you as well as reveal to you personal sin and need of repentance in your own life.Sufficient in us is the evil needing to repent of, in that greater work would be accomplished in personal growth than personal attacks.Consider the example of our Savior when he was mistreated:
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter -23).
While it is true that there are distinguishing marks of false teachers, there also defining marks of true believers.Our Savior said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John -35).Furthermore, Scripture speaks very clearly on how we should handle our relationships with one another.For example, consider what Paul said to the church at Ephesus:
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians -32).
And lest we forget, Jesus admonished us after the Lord’s Prayer concerning forgiveness when He said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).Forgiveness is not an option for a believer.It is a command, and if we do not forgive those who have sinned against or wrongfully us, then we haven’t been near the cross.The vengeance which wants to be ours in the flesh does not belong to us but to the Lord who judges justly.Paul makes it clear that we should
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans -21).
As Christians we are what we are by the grace of God.Whatever wrong in me is due to my sin and whatever is praiseworthy is wholly of God’s grace.Correspondingly, I have learned that we must view each other by the grace of God and what that grace will accomplish in their lives as well as ours.If we attempt to enforce our law upon others, we will soon find ourselves incapable of living up to our own expectations of others and resort to blatant hypocrisy detrimental to the cause of Christ.If our brothers and sisters are in Christ, by all means, let us treat them as such, especially when our flesh and world tempts us to do otherwise.
Not only should we view each other by the grace of God, live in light of God’s sovereignty and divine providence, have a heart of forgiveness, and love one another with the love of Christ, but we should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in everyday life.As I read the many comments, I struggled to find any evidence of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control.Please hear me out on this.I am not trying to be your “fruit inspector” but a watching world is reading and seeing what is taking place, so please don’t forget the potential worldwide audience before you.I have learned this in my own writing as I reflect back on some statements which I dishonored Jesus and mistreated a fellow brother in Christ.If we are not bearing fruit from abiding in Christ, then we need to evaluate whether or not our manner of life is worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Philippians ).
Finally, let me close with some words of exhortation.I hope that they are met with receptive hearts as I desire to be sensitive to your situation.Remember that our Lord said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).I don’t know about you, but I am a debtor of mercy, and having received such, what else am I to give except the same mercy to which I have received?Also, take a good look at your words, for by them you will be judged on the day of judgment (Matthew -37).During this time, consider how God could use this situation to grow you in grace and furnish you with greater faith as you trust in Him.Treasure the promises of God that He will build His church (Matthew ) and that He is with you always (Matthew 28:20), even in moments like these.Don’t be in bondage to bitterness but find freedom in forgiveness.Meditate on James 1 and pray that God would give you wisdom as you seek to “count it all joy” when you undergo such times of adversity.When you write and comment, two questions to ask yourself: One, “Does this glorify God?” and two, “Will this edify the Church?”If you cannot answer those questions affirmatively, then it could be that you have another agenda other than God, His glory, His truth, and His Church.Go to your church and pray, love, serve, repent, and reconcile.Encourage on another, exhort one another, minister to one another, and comfort one another.Above all, point West Palm Beach and the watching world to your Good Shepherd who will lead you and be with you during these times.It is He who will lead you beside still waters and be with you in the valley of the shadow of death.It is His mercy and grace that will follow you all the days of your lives, and He will satisfy you and show you that He is all that you would ever want.Although you have experienced some bad examples of sherpherds in recent years, you have One who is committed to building His church which will prevail against all odds and overcome all circumstances.Pour out your hearts to him and trust in Him, for He is your refuge.
I realize that I am not really qualified to speak to this situation, but I have been put in a situation where people from Millington, Woodstock and West Palm Beach have visited my blog.You may not consider anything I say worth your time, but please take God’s Word and make it consume your time and your thoughts.As Christians, we do not have the luxury to bypass God’s all-authoritative, timely, and inspired Word.And if, perhaps, my posts and comments are used as a platform to conjure up anger, resentment, bitterness, and strife, please remove my name and clear me from the forum.Remember that the medium in which we should take up these matters should be prayer and not a public forum, through your local church and not the world-wide community.If I can do anything, I want to lovingly help bring reconciliation and hope in the midst of a very sad and troubling situation, and I pray that, by God’s good grace, these words have been well worth your time.
To all of you who have taken the time to read all of this, first, thank you.It was a long post.Second, please pray for Crosspointe and First Baptist West Palm Beach.Third, pray for the Flockhart family.Let us never forget that we are the family of God, and we are not our own enemies.Let us overcome the accuser of the brethren by the love and mercy of our Savior.For the sake of His name and the upbuilding of His Church, let us submit our lives, our agendas, and our own failures to the Lord and pray that He would be pleased to use us in our generation for the purpose of bringing him glory.
Indeed he is. A good one too. Not only that, he also trains people in how to become fishermen.
You know, I don't think the guy had any idea who MacArthur was, but I never thought someone's first thought would be a fisherman. You know, there is this deal where they say you can spot a preacher in the crowd (such as the hairdo, suit, polo shirt and khaki pants, briefcase or palm pilot, etc.). For me, however, it has to be the highlighters. That wouldn't make me look like a fisherman or a minister, but it does seem to bring a lot of smiles on people's faces. You might just hear me saying, "There are somethings worth highlightin' in life, and if you don't stop and mark the moment, it will soon pass you by." Or something like that.
One of the best things about the TeamPyro blog is Phil Johnon’s weekly dose of Charles Spurgeon.This week was especially good—so good I want to post it here.Below is an excerpt from Spurgeon’s sermon entitled “The Immutability of Christ” preached on January 3, 1858 at the Music Hall, RoyalSurreyGardens.May God be generous in our generation to give us a weighty dose of the old truth.
I have heard it said that the way Luther preached would not suit this age. We are too polite! The style of preaching, they say, that did in John Bunyan's day, is not the style now. True, they honor these men; they are like the Pharisees; they build the sepulchers of the prophets that their fathers slew, and so they do confess that they are their father's own sons, and like their parents. And men that stand up to preach as those men did, with honest tongues, and know not how to use polished courtly phrases, are as much condemned now as those men were in their time; because, say they, the world is marching on, and the gospel must march on too.
No, sirs, the old gospel is the same; not one of her stakes must be removed, not one of her cords must be loosened. "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." Theology hath nothing new in it except that which is false. The preaching of Paul must be the preaching of the minister to-day. There is no advancement here. We may advance in our knowledge of it; but it stands the same, for this good reason, that it is perfect, and perfection can not be any better.
The old truth that Calvin preached, that Chrysostom preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be a liar to my conscience and my God. I can not shape the truth. I know of no such thing as the paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox's gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again. The great mass of our ministers are sound enough in the faith, but not sound enough in the way they preach it.
Election is not mentioned once in the year in many a pulpit; final perseverance is kept back; the great things of God's law are forgotten, and a kind of mongrel mixture of Arminianism and Calvinism is the delight of the present age. And hence the Lord hath forsaken many of his tabernacles and left the house of his covenant; and he will leave it till again the trumpet gives a certain sound. For wherever there is not the old gospel we shall find "Ichabod" written upon the church walls ere long.
The old truth of the Covenanters, the old truth of the Puritans, the old truth of the Apostles, is the only truth that will stand the test of time, and never need to be altered to suit a wicked and ungodly generation. Christ Jesus preaches to-day the same as when he preached upon the mount; he hath not changed his doctrines; men may ridicule and laugh, but still they stand the same—semper idem written upon every one of them. They shall not be removed or altered.
Or am I a . . .
I haven't checked the percetange of alcholic content in the sunflower seeds, and I don't consider myself a good indicator of such, having never been personally acquainted with alcohol. The local gas station was without my usual David BBQ sunflower seeds, so I thought I'd give these a try. It just hit me at work about resolution number five! I think there needs to be an investigative study on the impact Jim Beam BBQ sunflower seeds have on baptist bloggers. I hereby declare myself innocent from all typo's, aberrant ideas, and waste-of-your-time posts (like this one). Just to let you know, I like the David brand much better. Besides, it is named after King David anyway, isn't it?
P.S. If anyone is interested in hiring me to report to you concerning what bloggers are writing about, please let me know. I have connections - well, sort of.
Note: I have been planning a series of posts for some time now called Tension in the Convention in which I will mention some of the points of contention in the SBC. Calvinism is obviously one of them, and I will develop this more at a later time. Also, JT points to a good post by Nathan Finn pertaining to hyper-Calvinism in the SBC.
When I shared my reflections on the CT article, I mentioned that Lifeway was conducting some research on Calvinism in the SBC.Yesterday, Baptist Press shared the results of the research as did Tom Ascol.Contrary to popular belief, the research showed that the beliefs were not age-related nor was Calvinism proven to be as widespread as some thought.413 pastors were surveyed randomly, and were asked the question, “Do you consider yourself a five-point Calvinist?”The result was that 10% responded that they were, with 85% responding no, 4% not sure, and 1% refusing to answer.
Unfortunately for those who wish to analyze the results from the research, we are not given very much specifics about the methodology or extent of the research.There is short, 15 minute podcast available from Lifeway in which Dr. Brad Waggoner shares a little more than what the article reveals.Waggoner mentioned that this “was not a deep study” but rather “a snapshot” of the current theological landscape in the SBC.Therefore, it may very well be that the purpose of this research was not “research” but a rough sketch of the present ethos in the SBC.
Any informed SBCer knows that the issue of Calvinism has been a big deal in recent years.I have actually been working in recent weeks to provide a SBC chronology of the events which have occurred on the Internet (and in particular the blogosphere) that have contributed to the spotlight on Calvinism, starting with the catalyst of Don Elbourne’s post on Johnny Hunt from his message in last year’s annual meeting in Nashville.Other indicators include the packed-out discussion forum with Drs. Mohler and Patterson, the Together for the Gospel Conference, and the most recent CT article.
Regarding the research provided by Lifeway, I would be interested the approach to the research.For instance, how many of the 413 were “young”, or how age-specific was the research?Also, how diverse was the geographic location of those in the SBC (Calvinists seem to be in higher concentration in northern and western states)?Or, are you arguing that only those who are 5-point Calvinists are included in the Reformed camp?What about four pointers (Amyraldians) or modified Calvinists?One could only assume that were Calvinism broadened to include the modified Calvinists, the number would be considerably higher.Finally, what or how much education has the minister received?I believe it can be statistically correllated that where higher education exists, more Calvinists will be found (due to emphasis on doctrine and passion for the truth). That is not to say that Arminians are anti-intellectual, but the current, conservative, evangelical academia is predominantly Reformed in its disposition.
Yet, even more preliminary is to probe into the matter of whether or not the minister being interviewed actually has a historical and biblical understanding of Calvinism.In other words, can you define Calvinism?Or better yet, can you explain the five points adequately?From the experience I have with SBC pastors, a large number of them don’t know what Calvinism is, and those who have been exposed to it, have been informed from someone who has already caricatured it or constructed a straw man.What would make this research incredibly difficult would be to evaluate each person being interviewed and their understanding of Calvinism to peel back all the mischaracterizations that surround evangelical Calvinism.To have an incorrect understanding of what Calvinism or the five points really is would result in an invalid and unreliable research that makes its conclusions null, void, and irrelevant.Let me give one way of looking at the current landscape of the SBC.Take, for instance, the circuit speakers and conferences which SBC ministers participate.This would be a reasonable indicator because they wouldn’t exist if the demand and desire was not there.Basic supply and demand here.The Arminian circuit includes preachers like Jerry Vines, Johnny Hunt, Ted Traylor, Bailey Smith, Jamey Ragle, Bob Pitman, Junior Hill, Steve Gaines, and Fred Luter and includes conferences such as FBC Jacksonville Pastor’s Conference, Bailey Smith Real Evangelism Conferences, and many of the annual state pastor’s conferences (all venues I have attended btw).On the Reformed circuit, you have Al Mohler, John Piper, John MacArthur, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, R.C. Sproul, Josh Harris, James White, Tom Ascol, Ligon Duncan, Phil Ryken, Alister Begg, and Steve Lawson and includes conferences such as Together for the Gospel, Shepherds’ Conference, Desiring God National Conference, Ligonier National Conference, Southern Baptist Founders National Conference, Reform & Resurge, New Attitude Conference, Sovereign Grace Ministries’ Leadership Conference, Resolved Conference, Alpha & Omega Conference, and IX Marks Ministries.Now granted, these are not all SBC-affiliated, but they are greatly SBC supported.Maybe one example of the rise of such Reformed conferences could be seen in the T4G Conference were I was told that thousands of pastors had to be turned down after the conference was reached capacity (a conference that was dominated by young ministers).
I guess I am trying to say that there is more there than meets the eye.Also, if Calvinists are such a minority, then why are they being given so much attention?If the younger generation is not predominantly Calvinistic, why are the seminaries like the one which I attend having record enrollment and sending out thousands of Calvinists every year (not to mention faculty and administration – Drs. Rainer and Waggoner at Lifeway are from Southern)?
Dr. Waggoner expressed that this research, if anything, was a starting point to gage further developments in the SBC regarding the impact of Calvinism as Lifeway is planning on conducting more research in the future.If anything I see among my limited scope and world is that there are pastors and ministers young and old in the SBC who desire reform in the local church, a recovery of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and a resurgence of God-centered doctrines of grace that give glory to God and satisfy the souls of men.
Yesterday, I posted a little of Sunday’s Googling, showing the crazy variations of searches with Johnny Hunt (btw, I can't imagine how much traffic Tom Ascol, Alan Kurschner, and Nathan White are getting).My curiosity and hunch was that something was up, and indeed there was (and the Googling has not ceased either).I have been informed that this past Sunday night, Hunt, in the words of one who was there, “went off” on bloggers.I don’t want to comment any more than this until I see the transcript or listen to the message (which I hope to do soon).But I do find this peculiar for a couple of reasons.
First, if there ever was a time where the waters of the blogosphere were calm, it is now.More of the seasoned bloggers have taken a hiatus, and others are writing about issues less controversial than the inevitable stuff happening in the SBC.Not only is it calm, you could say that it is even in a lull.I believe the whole alcohol issue really turned a lot of them off, as the world watched how the SBC conducts itself.Second, while there have been several opportunities to address some of the things Hunt has recently done (his preaching at Woodstock’s youth camp about Calvinism, his Wednesday night message in July, and most recently his ties with the Steve Flockhart situation), very few if any blogger has decided to write anything about all this.Sure, Hunt has left us with many stuff to debate and even debunk, but it simply has not happened, at least not among the more prominent baptist bloggers.
Now as to why Hunt has chosen to speak publicly about bloggers, I don’t want to speculate, but looking back on the events of the past year, I have several thoughts which, at this point, will remain just that—my thoughts.As far P&P goes, I have not mentioned Johnny Hunt in the last 300 posts I have written and have not planned to write about him in the future, as what he does at Woodstock and teaches from his pulpit at this point does not interest me. Even our team at Strange BaptistFire has refrained from addressing the errors and mischaracterizations that have come from Hunt.
But I do realize that many new visitors coming to P&P for the first time are from GA and particularly from First Baptist Woodstock.So if you allow me, let me say a few words to our new friends at P&P.First, you are welcome here as well as your thoughts.Second, yes I am an evangelical Calvinist and don’t apologize for that.However, that comes with a qualification.I most likely am not a Calvinist according to Johnny Hunt and certainly not a hyper-Calvinist. Therefore, let me encourage you to get in conversation with actual Calvinists and actually attempt to understand them.This is one reason why I wrote a little bit on “What Is a True Calvinist?”Here are some of the posts thus far:
I have two more upcoming (part five and six) which will deal with missions and evangelism and conclude with my reflections.I hope they will be of some benefit to you.Finally, let me say that I am sorry to disappoint you if you were coming here looking for some bombastic blogging.If you look at what I have written for the past six months, you will find that I write on a whole host of issues, not just Calvinism or the SBC.And as far as Johnny Hunt is concerned, my posts on him are two in a total of 755 posts I have written thus far, coming to a total of 0.002%.I think the other 99.99% is not bad, so I encourage you to check them out if you are interested.Most recently, I shared some of my reflections on Christianity Today’s article called “The Young, Restless, and Reformed.”
Anyway, let me just give my formal welcome to you who are from First Baptist Woodstock.It’s nice to meet you, and stick around—you might actually like it.
P.S.If you a comin' to pick a fight, know that I am a bald-headed Middle Eastener who looks like the president of Iran when I have hair . . . and Mikey Law is my homeboy.