Monday, April 30, 2007

Fire Photos: A Landmark Destroyed

If you never visited DC's Eastern Market, these photos may not mean much. But anyone who's ever visited this traditional neighborhood market, until today in continual operation since 1873, can't help but feel sadness and perhaps some nostalgia. Several friends have remarked already today how fortunate they were to have stopped by just yesterday afternoon.

I'm not an engineer by any means, and I don't know how much damage fire does to brick and mortar, but it seems as though much of the structure is salvageable. Thanks in advance to all of you who pay taxes for the restoration that $20-30 million of your generous contributions are about to accomplish.

(The bottom photo shows the dumpster where the fire started.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Three is one too many spouses for most evangelicals."

The Wall Street Journal profiles the efforts of Richard Land, the SBC's political operative, to pick the next President.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"I Stick My Neck Out for Nobody"

After Ugarte is arrested in the early scenes of Casablanca, one of Rick's patrons snidely remarks to him, "I hope you do more for me when my turn comes." Rick replies, "I stick my neck out for nobody." For the time being, I'll stick with Google, since Yahoo ain't sticking their neck out for nobody either.

T4G Revelation: The Mystery's Over

Thabiti Anyabwile is now on the T4G speakers page.

I guess there should be little surprise that the CHBC member and Don Carson's research assistant got it right.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Cincinnati Reds, Virginia Tech, and Evangelical Fidelity

Since I moved out of range of 700 WLW and Gary Burbank's afternoon sports trivia show, "Sports or Consequences," I never really expected to hear Frank Pastore's name again. Pastore was a decent pitcher for the Reds in the early 80s, back when I really cared about baseball.

Pastore now hosts a newstalk show on a Christian radio station in Los Angeles. Today a friend sent me a link to Pastore's column published Sunday by, "Ashamed of the Gospel: Missed Opportunity at Virginia Tech."

Though I didn't see the memorial service, I heard a bit about it, and Pastore tells me all I need to know and more than I wanted to hear. Here's his summary of what four speakers from four different faiths had to say:
Each of the four speakers were there to represent their religion, to bring the message of comfort and hope rooted in their faith tradition. The Muslim speaker read passages from the Koran in Arabic and appealed to Allah, the Jewish speaker read from Ecclesiastes 3 while an assistant repeated the passages in Hebrew, the Buddhist quoted the Dalai Lama, while the Christian did not even quote from the Bible, nor mention the name of Jesus – the namesake of his religion.
Pastore also tells us what might have been done:
Mr. King could have spoken the truth. He could have explained why Christians are confident in divine justice, why we believe that good will ultimately triumph over evil, why we know that there is life after death for those that trust Christ. He could have explained that Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins on the Cross that Friday long ago, and rose bodily from the dead on Sunday to prove His sovereignty over evil, sin and death.

In short, he could have preached the Gospel. After all, the murders were only a week removed from Easter.

But, Mr. King decided to do something apparently more important in his mind. He decided to be politically correct and not offend the members of his interfaith community by offering hollow words of humanistic philosophy lacking any real substance, and by appealing to various “religious streams” and by validating the search “for a way forward,” he insulted those of us who actually believe Christianity is true and other religions false.

In so doing, he denied his faith.
So this is where we've arrived. Former-ballplayers-turned-talkshow-hosts are defending the faith while pastors trample it. Kudos to Pastore. May God call more ballplayers to himself, grant reformation and revival to his churches, and spin to a speedy death the social clubs masquerading as the body of Christ.

Your Official Home for Together for the Gospel '08 Rumors and Speculation

Well, the T4G '08 promo video is now online, and towards the end, Mark Dever announces that there may be one additional speaker next year, and C.J. Mahaney calls this a "high probability."

So as Tony Kornheiser would say, "Who ya' got?" Let the rumors and speculation begin here. Guesses? Back-room whisperings? Something you just wanna make up out of thin air? Here's your chance.

[And now, after starting this post, I see that Dever has confirmed that this 8th speaker has been invited, has accepted, and will be announced in a few days.]

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Robert Delnay's SI Interview: Why Do Young Guys Have a Bad Taste of Fundamentalism?

Dr. Robert Delnay has taught in fundamentalist institutions literally across the United States, and he witnessed most fundamentalist history personally. Today SharperIron posted part 2 of a 3-part interview with Delnay. This installment focuses on the history of the Northern Baptist Convention, and meanders from there into denominationalism in general and also some reflections on the fundamentalist movement with the benefit of hindsight and decades of wisdom.

Though I found the entire discussion fascinating, the last 8 minutes are particularly intriguing and lend themselves to brief summary. In response to Jason Janz's question, "What would you say are the hallmarks of a fundamentalist?" Delnay responds with five marks, which I'll summarize here:
  1. A love for Scripture

  2. Dispensational, pretribulational, premillennialism (Delnay specifically denies that any accomodation for diversity in eschatological views is acceptable within fundamentalism.)

  3. Separatism

  4. Militancy

  5. Authenticity of life ("walking with God")
Delnay says that this fifth point is where the road forks:
I think of young guys--many of them out there--who would gravitate toward separatism and biblicism and premillennialism and indeed have common cause and fellowship with one another if they didn't have such a bad taste in their mouths to that word "fundamentalism."
Delnay attributes this "bad taste" to bad leadership:
I think maybe our greatest problem was the careless choice of personnel—either the leaders that we followed who built big churches or the people that we hired to work with us. And I think that matter of earnest, prayerful, careful consideration of personnel may be the most important thing we're going to have to do in the days at hand.
Obviously, some of even the most militant, separatist fundamentalist would disagree with Delnay's second point.

I'm much more interested, however, in Delnay's conviction that young guys are running from fundamentalism not because of it's contemporary condition, but about past mistakes in leadership and personnel choices. My opinion is based on nothing more than the spectrum of people I talk to, but as best I can tell I don't think this part of his assessment is correct. It seems that frustrations are grounded far more in certain aspects of the fundamentalist movement as it exists today than in the mistakes that were made in the past.

I know I could explain that a little more, but I'm curious to hear first whether my experience is consistent with what anyone reading this has found to be true.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The "On Faith" Conversation: Acts 17 for the 21st Century?

I don't read the Washington Post's On Faith bloggish-type-thing as often as I'd like. It's just a bit too much content for me to tackle right now. It does strike me as though Al Mohler, Cal Thomas, and perhaps even a couple other evangelicals are consistently taking advantage of an opportunity to proclaim the gospel and to apply it to everyday issues of American life and culture. In this most recent conversation, for example, Al Mohler clearly presents the certainty of judgment and several crucial elements of the gospel. Chuck Colson even calls for repentance and faith. This strikes me as about the closest thing imaginable in contemporary culture to Paul's address to the Athenians in the Areopagus, recorded for us in Acts 17.

We probably can't conclude too much from the volume of contents, but when I've checked in it seems as though Mohler consistently receives far more comments than any other author. At this writing, he has more than twice as many as anyone else regarding his perspective on the Virginia Tech shootings, with an atheist author coming in second. That doesn't mean he's convincing anyone, but it does mean that at the very least 192 people are being exposed to some biblical thinking about life, death, judgment, and eternity. So enjoy it if you have the time. Perhaps it's worth passing on to a non-Christian you've been working to evangelize.

Who Is Jesus Christ?: Video from a Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the Middle East

You can see Baptist pastor Thabiti Anyabwile's comments on the experience here. The video is obviously quite long, but it's worth watching to see the kind of questions serious Muslims raise about Christianity and how Christians can direct the answers to the gospel.

"Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing [guns in classrooms]."

These words from a Virginia Tech associate vice president appeared in an August, 2006 editorial for the Roanoke Times. He was writing in response to vote by the Virginia legislature to continue a provision that permits college-level institutions to create "gun-free zones"--areas where individuals who possess permits to carry concealed weapons are specifically prohibited from doing so.

This Wall Street Journal op-ed tells the story of how mass murders are often thwarted by responsible people having quick access to weapons. Here are just a few examples:
Virginia Tech thus went out of its way to prevent what happened at a Pearl, Miss., high school in 1997, where assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a handgun from his car and apprehended a school shooter. Or what happened at Appalachian Law School, in Grundy, Va., in 2002, when a mass murder was stopped by two students with law-enforcement experience, one of whom retrieved his own gun from his vehicle. Or in Edinboro, Pa., a few days after the Pearl event, when a school attack ended after a nearby merchant used a shotgun to force the attacker to desist. Law-abiding citizens routinely defend themselves with firearms. Annually, Americans drive-off home invaders a half-million times, according to a 1997 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The editorial closes with a quote cited by Thomas Jefferson:
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

Friday, April 06, 2007

T4G Book Release

On Monday Crossway will release Preaching the Cross, a compilation of the addresses from Together for the Gospel 2006 dedicated to "the next generation of preachers of the cross."

I think Phil Ryken's blurb summarizes well both this book and the objectives stirring behind it:
This book on preaching the cross is written by the best of men who know the grace of the crucified Christ and serve in the power of his resurrection. It is a call for other minsters of the gospel to faithfully proclaim the message of the cross and the empty tomb. It is also an invitation to share in the fellowship of godly pastors who stand together for Jesus in a world that needs the gospel.
Here's the closing paragraph from Dever's introduction:
Above all, as you read this book learn again to preach the cross. That is what a minister of the Word of God is called to do, from the New Testament and the Old, and in a way that is understandable and penetrating, faithful to the truth of justification by faith alone, visibly and verbally exulting in God's grace, reflected in our lives, and shown over the years and decades of ministry that God may give you. Preach the cross. That's why we came together. That's why we wrote this book. We pray that is what you're encouraged to do by reading it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Has BJU Gone Emerging?

I've got to be honest. I don't really think I've developed enough theologically to reach dogmatic conclusions about the BJU Living Gallery that's open tomorrow through Saturday. My sense from reading the Puritans and some 19th century Baptists is that they wouldn't have been big fans. I'll speculate that they wouldn't be debating whether the Living Gallery violates the Ten Commandments, but rather how many are broken. J.I. Packer's comments in Knowing God may well reflect their convictions:
Accordingly, we take the second commandment--as in fact it has always been taken--as pointing us to the principle that (to quote Charles Hodge) "idolatry consists not only in the worship of false gods, but also in the worship of the true God by images." In its Christian application, this means that we are not to make use of visual or pictorial representations of the triune God, or of any person of the Trinity, for the purposes of Christian worship. The commandment thus deals not with the object of our worship, but with the manner of it; what it tells us is that statues and pictures of the One whom we worship are not to be use as an aid to worshiping him. (44)
But what really surprises me is how the Living Gallery is portrayed in its official description. Am I off my rocker, or don't many of the themes, buzzwords, and strategies of the Emerging Church pop up in this description?
In the Living Gallery, the imagined becomes real. Have you ever viewed a work of art that looked so real that the depicted characters seemed to almost move and breathe? Such imaginations come true as you experience works of art re-created life-sized on stage.

The program consists of original drama and special choral and orchestral arrangements tying together a breathtaking live portrayal of great works of art. The entire program centers around the life of Christ.

Although the drama and music play an important part in the celebration, the paintings take center stage in telling the story of Christ through this unique medium.

The characters you see portrayed in the paintings are live actors. A special set, costumes, makeup, and lighting expand the painting to more than three times its original size.

Come experience "art come to life"—a unique combination of art, drama, and music that together form the Living Gallery.
Like I said, I'm thinking through this stuff and don't feel equipped to make dogmatic pronouncements. I'm just intrigued by what seems to be a strange juxtaposition, and I'm interested to see some diverse perspectives.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How I Deal with Basketball Pain and Disappointment

Today, at least, I'm distracting myself with . . . well, let's call this a basketball human interest story.

In case you need registration for the Times article and don't want to, someone has republished the whole thing here.