Saturday, October 28, 2006

Google THIS!!!@!@!

Note to Google Inc: I love your services, they are great! However, in the future, please refrain from ridiculous nitpicking. I'd prefer that my native language would remain in the public domain, where it belongs. You ought to be thankful that the fellows of days begone didn't have lawyers like yours and trademark the words: internet, web, blog, homepage, search, incorporated, etc. In that case you would have had an interesting time trying to describe what your company does. You are existing and making money because some folks recognized that some things should be in the public domain, please return the favour. Thank you very much!

In the words of of San Jose journalist Dan Gilmor: "Maybe the lawyers made them say this. But actually saying it makes the company look, well, idiotic."

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Friday's Mini Codices

Here is today's installment (today instead of tomorrow to make up for skipping it last week):

  • Why Bertrand Russel Was Not a Christian looks interesting to say the least. The site hosting that essay ("Covenant Worldview Institute") has other intruigingly titled articles, including Zen: A Trinitarian Critique. I can't vouch for the writings on that site, but I've love to dive into them soon.

  • Titus2talk (a blog devoted to Christian women's issues) has a great post (relevant to guys like me as well) that encourages people that while good books have great value, we need to "[keep] the Bible at the Top of the Pile"

  • Next time you buy a salad, check to make sure it doesn't include a free dead rat. Apparently a man on the coaching staff of the Dallas Cowboys claims his wife brought home a McDonalds salad only to find a 6 inch juvenile roof rat on its back with its mouth open (and the rat was supposedly uncovered only after the salad was partially eaten!).

  • While I'm told it is quite a beautiful state, I'm glad I don't live in Colorado right now

  • Psychology Today has an interesting piece describing how most tyrants have an inclination to collect things in an "over the top" way. The article lists some bizzare collections that various profilic dictators have amassed (ie. Stalin, Hitler, etc.)

  • Did I ever mention that the late Peter Sellers was a great actor? They just don't make actors like that anymore..

Condensed Book Reviews #3

More mini-reviews..

"The Dilbert Principle"
- Great business humor

"The Diaries of Adam and Eve" by Mark Twain
- What I would expect from Twain

"Reformed Pastor" by Richard Baxter
- Tremendous!

"The Kingdom that Turned the World Upside Down" by David Bercott
- More aptly titled "The Book That Turned The Gospel Upside Down"

"God Centered Evangelism" by R. B. Kuiper
- Great!

"Back to Freedom & Dignity (L'Abri Pamphlets)" by Francis Schaeffer
- Schaeffer skins Skinner

"How to Respond to Muslims (How to Respond)" by Ernest Hahn
- Short/balanced/useful

"Forensic Discovery" by Dan Farmer
- Interesting look at computer forensics, but most parts are beyond me

"The LSD story" by John Cashman
- Interesting early 1960's journalistic account of the psychedelics

"What Belongs to Caesar?: A Discussion on the Christian's Response to Payment of War Taxes" by Donald D. Kaufman
- Where all pacifists would arrive if they were consistent.

"Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity"
- Ugh

"The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control" by John D. Marks
- Fascinating look at the psychedelics and cold war American espionage research

"Entrepreneurs of Life" by OS Guinness
- Inspiring!

"Did God Create in 6 Days?" (edited) by Joseph Pipa
- Interesting debate book!

"Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (Modern Library)" by Hunter S. Thompson
- Typical of Hunter: entertaining but very vulgar

"Modern religious liberalism;: The destructiveness and irrationality of modernist theology" by John Horsch
- A pretty good Anabaptist assesment of the growing menace of modernistic theology

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Six Degrees of Wikipedia

"Six Degrees of Separation" is a theory in which it is alleged that any person on the earth can be connected with any other by 6 or more degrees of separation. That would mean that if you hop through your web of aquaintences, you can eventually get to anyone (even famous people) quite quickly. This theory, while still heavily debated, is probably at least generally true. Unless you are thoroughly isolated, chances are you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows Joe Smith. And if you need more degrees of separation than that you or Joe probably live in an igloo or live among some remote undiscovered tribe.

The theory was first proposed by Hungarian writer Karinthy Frigyes. There is a neat little web tool which is called "Six Degrees of Wikipedia". I'm not sure where else it can be used, but I've added it as a "widget" to my Google home page. You enter two names and it tells you how many degrees of separation there are between the two people in the Wikipedia database. The degrees of separation are not measured by aquaintences, but rather by article links. So if the Joe Plymoth article links to Bob Smith's, that would be 1 degree of separation. However if Joe Plymoth has a link to Mike Walters, and Mike Walter's article links to Bob Smith, then that would be two degrees of separation between Joe Plymoth and Bob Smith.

Six Degrees of Wikipedia is neat in concept, but there is one little problem which spoils it. The problem is Wikipedia's entries for years (ie 1542) and for particular days (ie November 19). These entries link almost anyone. For example, we know that the combination of anarchist Abbie Hoffman and Protestant reformer John Knox should test the 6 Degrees of Wikipedia separation theory to the brink. These fellows have very little, if anything at all, in common. However, if John Knox was born on July 20th, 1505 (hypothetical) and Abby Hoffman stagged some antic on July 20th, 1969 (hypothetical), they would be listed as having a very low degree of sepration since the common date makes them "close" in the Wikipedia database. This sort of disparity calls into question most attempts to use Six Degrees of Wikipedia for anything useful. If there is no intersection of arbitrary dates, then it seems the results can sometimes be meaningful to show how contextually/informationally related two people are.

Anyways, let's look at some of the Degrees of Wikipedia. And we'll need enough data to try to see to gauge performance:

  • John Knox, Abbie Hoffman (3 degrees)

  • Barry Bonds, Ghandi (5 degrees)

  • Martin Luther King Jr, David Duke (3 degrees)

  • Bill Clinton, Al Gore (1 degree)

  • Bill Lee, Ronald Reagan (3 degrees)

  • Jacob Arminus, John Calvin (2 degrees)

  • Ghengis Khan, Greg Bahnsen (4 degrees)

  • Stephen Harper, Donald Knuth (3 degrees)

  • Michael Jordan, Peter Seller (3 degrees)

  • John Lennon, John Wayne (2 degrees)

  • Neil Young, George Bush (3 degrees)

  • Francis Schaeffer, Toronto Maple Leafs (3 degrees)

  • Ken Kesey, Hunter S Thompson (2 degrees)

  • Cornelius Van Till, Rick Warren (4 degrees)

  • Jerry Rubin, George Wallace (3 degrees)

  • Sparky Anderson, Lou Whitaker (2 degrees)

What do you think? Do these degrees of separation do justice to the people in question? Not in whether they know each other, but rather in how closely related (in terms of ideas, context, history) they are? I guess it is up for debate. It does seem that 1 or 2 degree separations have genuine relation to each other in terms of their context. And anyone that rates as a 4 or 5 degree separation definately displays no or very little relation to each other. However, it seems that the 3 degrees seems to be frequently attained merely by linkage through arbitrary dates (ie. Francis Schaeffer's birthday and a milestone in the Toronto Maple Leafs history). So, maybe the results aren't that off base if we are careful to account for skewing due to arbitrary date linkage.

One thing is for sure, none of this test data even reached 6 degrees of separation. Almost any two people can be linked through Wikipedia within less than 6 degrees of separation, and some can be linked up even without the presence of arbitrary date linking.

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Satire in Politics: The Rhino Party

The Rhinoceros Party was a Canadian political party operating Canada from the 1960's to the 1990's. It was a satirical absurdist sort of guerilla political theatre operating in real life politics. Their listed party leader was a Rhino from a zoo in Montreal.

The movement was not just limited to Canada and former Boston Red Sox pitcher and goofball Bill "Spaceman" Lee actually ran for U.S. President under this ticket. And more recently, the absurdist principles of this political party have been revived under the tickets of "Absolutely Absurd Party" and the "Neo Rhinos".

The Rhinoceros party had a weak record in Canada. They never won a seat, though they grossed over 100,000 votes in 1980!!

Some of their platforms included peculiar promises such as:

  • Selling the Canadian Senate at an antique auction in California

  • Abolishing the environment because it's too hard to keep clean and it takes up so much space

  • Repealing the law of gravity

  • Paving Manitoba to create the world's largest parking lot

  • Providing higher education by building taller schools

  • Making bubble gum the national currency, so that it could be inflated or deflated at will

  • Instituting English, French and illiteracy as Canada's three official languages

  • Ofering to retrain those constituents who want to become illiterate by enrolling them in a state educational institution

  • Running more than one candidate per riding as an MP's salary is certainly enough to support more than one person

The Rhino Party is also said to have claimed that if they got to the point of victory, they would dissolve and force a second election. And for further entertainment, you can check out a tentative list of frivolous political parties. The "Prince Edward Island Draft Beer Party" looks like they had an interesting platform in the 1979 provincial election.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday's Question

Q. Does baptism save?

A. No. Baptism is neither a prerequisite for salvation nor does it actually save in the sense of causing salvation. The Biblical understanding of the gospel is that salvation is apprehended through faith in the finished work of Christ, and no outward ordinance or work of our hands could accomplish that (Titus 3:4-7). The wonderous work of salvation is accomplished by the blood of Christ and not anything physical on the part of the believer (1 Peter 1:18-19). Baptism signifies or symbolizes the identification of the believer with Christ, his/her being buried and rising again with Christ (Col. 2:11-12), and is used as an entry rite into the visible church. Believers are not saved because we are baptised, but rather believers are baptised because they have been saved.

Some common verses put forward that allegedly "prove" that baptism saves or is a prerequisite to salvation include Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21, John 3:5, and Acts 2:38.

Acts 22:16 says "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name." It should first be noted that "Rise" and "calling" are "aorist participles" while the references to baptism and cleansing or washing are "aorist imperatives". It is in accord with the text to say that individuals are being instructed to rise and be baptised in view of the fact that their sins have been washed through calling upon the name of the Lord.

I Peter 3:21 says "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ". The "..which corresponds.." refers to the previous discussion of Noah and the ark. As Matt Slick from CARM points out, "antitupon" is used here, and its meaning includes "a type" or "a copy". However, the difficulty here is determining what exactly the correspondence is refering to. Does baptism correspond to the ark? Or the water? Or the salvation that Noah experiences? Or the patience of God in the days of Noah (which is the greater context starting with v20)? Or perhaps way which the correspondance occurs is the link between both baptism and the ordeal with the ark involving "brought safely through water". It is difficult to know exactly what this is refering to, but either way it says nothing to tie baptism to salvation, in fact it denies that by stating that baptism doesn't save us in the sense of washing our filth, but rather "saves" in the sense of being an appeal to God for a good conscience, and even that is ultimately brought to us through Christ's resurrection and symbolized through baptism.

John 3:5 says "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." The first thing to notice is that this passage nor the previous four verses do not refer explicitly to baptism. So, if this passage is talking about baptism, it would have to be because "born of water" refers to baptism. There are several common interpretations of what "born of water" means. One of them is baptism. Another is the work of the Holy Spirit, which is elsewhere refered to by the analogy of washing. But, in my opinion, the strongest match for "born of water" is the natural birth. Why? Because of the context. In John 3:5 "born of water" and "born of spirit" are listed. In the very next verse, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" is stated. Notice how "born of water / born of spirit" is set along "born of flesh / born of spirit". It would be a very large coincidence if Jesus were to use such a parallel and all the while be really speaking of baptism, which isn't mentioned explicitly anywhere else in the narrative.

Acts 2:38 records Peter as saying "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". This is perhaps the most genuinely difficult text out of this particular set. On the surface it does seem to teach baptismal regeneration. A full discussion of this text is beyond the scope of this post. However, it should be noted that the Greek word "eis" is rendered in this passage as "for". Both "for" and "eis" can be used in various ways. Sometimes they can mean "in order that" (in other words indicating a cause/effect), and other times they can be used in a way which moreso means "in light of" or "in acknowledgement of". For example, if I say "I'm going to school FOR my Masters Degree", I'm using "for" in the " order to obtain.." sense. However, if I say "I'm buying you a book FOR your birthday", it would be silly to understand "for" in the "in order that" sense!! Does my gift to you cause your birthday? Of course not! My gift is "in light of" or "in acknowledgement of" your birthday. In the same manner, I believe there is a number of strong reasons (context, theological consistensy, and other textual issues) to suppose that Acts 2:38 is using "eis" in the "in acknowledgement of" sense instead of the "in order that" sense. That mean Acts 3:28 is teaching that "Baptism is in acknowledgement of forgiveness of sins", not that "Baptism is performed in order that forgiveness of sins may occur". There are many more academic and comprehensive surveys of this issue with Acts 2:38 which you may want to review. They are from: CARM, Christian Research Journal, Got Questions?, Alpha & Omega Ministries, and Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary Journal.

Throughout redemptive history, people confused symbols with the inward reality they were meant to portray. The Israelites misunderstood circumcision in this way, forgetting that circumcision was not an end to itself, but rather was a means to represent and portray what God would do to the heart of His people. In Romans 4, Paul demonstrated that since Abraham was justified before God before circumcision, it followed that it was faith and not circumcision that made him right before God. It should be noted that the false teachers which Paul upbraided in Galatians also were teaching the same errant view of the relation of the "sign" or "seal" and the actual reality it was meant to represent.

In the Gentile church in this era, circumcision no longer seems to be an active controversy. However, baptism is an outward sign of a greater inward reality, and many confuse the sign with the inward reality much in the same way that the judiazers in the Galatian church and the Israelites of old did. They rightly regard the outward sign as being important, but they confuse it and mingle it too closely with the inward reality failing to understand that the seal is not a condition to the inward reality nor does it cause it. Biblically, as Abraham's justification was not dependant on his circumcision, so too the baptism of a believer is not a prerequisite or cause of justification, but rather an outward representation pointing to it.

The understanding of baptism not being a condition or cause for salvation comes from both a Biblical understanding of baptism, and also a Biblical understanding of how it is that sinners are made right before God. It is a horrible error to confuse baptism with salvation to the extent that baptism is seen as either a part of or prerequisite to salvation. However, it is also a horrible error to view baptism in a deragatory way, seeing it as an insigificant step. Baptism is both very significant and important! And it is an express command of Christ. Hence, for a disciple to purposely avoid it would be an rebellion and disobedience. But yet baptism or lack thereof does not initiate nor negate the work of Christ. The Biblical teaching that salvation is an act of God accomplished by the work of Christ alone apart from baptism does not minimize the need for baptism, but rather establishes it! Being in truth united with Christ by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, there then is a basis and desire to publically manifest that inward reality with a "sign" or "ordinance" signifying it.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Meaningful Living: God, Creation, and Humans

Our own creativity and meaning is ultimately tied to God's activity in creation. At the very foundation of this assertion, lies a chain of incremental propositions about God:

1. He is (God).
2. God created.
3. God created us.
4. God created us in His image.
5. God created us in His image to glorify Him.

The first proposition simultaneously gives us very little information and very much information, in differing senses of course. Saying "He is" is reminiscent of God's name, Yahweh, which essentially means "He is" (3rd person) and also the name He provided to Moses "I Am" (same name, just 1st person). In this statement we infer God's self-existence. We are limited to using a "to be" verb, because no dictionary-style definition that says "God is like unto [noun]" will do justice to the Supereme King of the Universe. This is very meaningful. However, it leaves a lot of questions to the one who has not had any further revelation imparted. It doesn't specify if God always was or if He came into being at some point in time (although Rev 1:8 and other passages in the Bible resolve that question). It doesn't specify what sort of "being" God has. It doesn't specify whether His existence is knowable or personal. These inquiries are not resolved by the statement "He is", but they can be answered with further information (revelation).

The second proposition, "God created", increases our knowledge of him. It informs us that there is some sort of relation between God and matter, and that God is creative. It also implies that God has some sort of purpose, some sort of end in mind, else why would He create? This is key, and it really sets the stage for this series. However, the two word statement before us is also quite vague. It does not specify when God created, if He did so within time that is. It does not specify why He created. It does not specify what He created or how He did it or whether it was performed from something pre-existent. Of course, these questions are answered in some degree through further revelation (in the Scriptures).

The third proposition, "God created us", narrows creation to humanity, so in that sense it is anthropocentric. It presupposes that "we are" and not only that we are limited beings, namely within God's creation, deriving our existence from Him. Notice how it took three propositions for our attention to get to us. First the spotlight is on God. Then it proceeds to His creation in general, and only after that the spotlight focuses to a particular act of creation, the creation of humans. This is wonderful fact of reality which places us in our place and shatters any illusion of human ego=centricism. However, it still leaves a lot unsaid, which again must refer us back to revalation for further details. While the phrase "God created us" gives us some hints as to our relation to God, it doesn't give any further details about how we relate to Him. And it doesn't give any further details as to how we relate to the rest of creation or even what the rest of creation is. And it doesn't give any basis as to why we are different than the other creatures.

The fourth proposition "God created us in His image" is a direct answer to the dilemma which proposition #3 raises, "Should we be distinguished from the other creatures? If so, why?" This is a nagging question and I believe it is so because it is the "achilles heel" in regard to a quest for human significance, purpose, and meaning. If there is nothing which distinguishes us from creation besides an order of magnatutde of skills and knowledge, then why should we experience any greater planes of existence than the most base creatures? And yet, this proposition, too, isn't exactly explicit in all matters. Why would God create us in His image?

The fifth proposition, which ends with " glorify Him" is not an exhaustive answer, but it really does address the question which flows out of the fourth, "Why would God create us in His image?" The answer is to glorify Him! This is the loud cry of Rev 4:11.

I'm convinced that in order to have any rational hope to find meaning in life, we must:

A. Have a "universal" big enough to order the "particulars" of our life.
B. Have some balanced way of affirming both the humans place in creation and his/her distinctiveness from the rest of creation.
C. Have some balanced way of affirming both individuality and collectivity in regard to humanity.

I believe the Christian world-view is the only satisfactory solution to A, B & C. Evidence of this is, in my view, that propositions 1-5 satisfy A, B & C. The universal of God's existence, especially His will and the attributes that are revealed about Him in Christianity, is certainly a "universal" large enough to provide order to the "particulars" of life. Man is a part of God's creation, and therefore there is certainly oneness with creation in that sense. Yet, man is given special revelation from God in regard to his special status within creation as an image bearer of God, which gives a durable reason why man can claim distinctiveness from the rest of creation. And the balance between individuality and collectivity can be understood to proced from knowing that God, who formed man in His own image, is triune and relational, thus creating man as relational beings, interconnected and yet distinct from one another. And, through further revelation, we are taught that God deals both with people collectively and individually, speaking both of God's chosen people as a group and God's chosen men and women individually (and this applies to God's enemies as well), hence giving us further reason to have a balanced view of both collective significance and individual significance.

I don't suppose there is anyone who could honestly say that their life always seems to be full of meaning. And at the same token, I think everyone perceives some sort of meaning in their life. If you reject propositions 1 through 5, you will still find meaning in life. But it will likely be elusive, and it will always be to some extent irrational. The same is applicable to those who accept the first few propositions but reject the rest. The one who excepts propositions 1 and 2 (and maybe even 3) but rejects the rest has little advantage over the one who rejects them all. The existence of a "god" who creates but doesn't create us, or a "god" who creates us but not in his image would leave us destitute of the foundations for a meaningful life. Only the existence of a God who has created man in His own image for His glory can allows us to find a rational (non-irrational) basis hope and meaning.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Priest Beheaded in Iraq

Christian Today is running a piece about a Syrian priest who was beheaded in Iraq. The dismembered body of a Syrian Orthodox priest was found in Mosul last week.

The article says "Father Iskander was abducted from Mosul on Monday afternoon"

"His family was later contacted by the kidnappers" says the article, "demanding a US$350,000 ransom". And the kidnappers "subsequently agreed to reduce the sum to US$40,000 if the priest’s church was willing to publicly reject remarks made about Islam by Pope Benedict XVI last month".

The priest's church managed to collect the ransom money, but apparently that didn't help.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday's Question

Q. Can a Christian's salvation be lost?

A. This question actually contains several other questions. I would like to refer to three questions that are contained within this question, answer each one, and then proceed to provide Scriptural proof for my last answer.

Can someone who claims to be a true Christian be lost? YES

Can someone who seems to be a true Christian be lost? YES

Can someone who is a true Christian be lost? NO

The Bible passage which I will now present prove that a truly regenerated (born again) Christian can not be lost. This is not to say that they can't stumble and fall, just that they can't fatally. This is not to say that a person can say a "sinners prayer" and be assured of their they are saved no matter whether their life bears fruit of their salvation. We only have security in Christ only in so much as we are truly in Christ, and those truly in Christ WILL produce fruits and they WILL persevere in the faith.

The passages I'm refering to are divided into two basic categories: "Descriptions of a True Believer" and "Descriptions of What God Does For The True Believer".

Descriptions of a True Believer
  • They will never perish and are never snatched out of Christ's hands (Jh.10:28)
  • The will be raised on the last day (Jh.6:39-44)
  • Their inheritance is imperishable, does not fade away, and is reserved in heaven (I Pe.1:3-4)
  • They conquer and can't be separated from God's love (Ro.8:37-39)
  • They are born again of imperishable seed (I Pe.1:23)

Descriptions of What God Does For The True Believer
  • He protects them with His power through faith unto the end (I Pe.1:3-5)
  • He perfects His good work in the saints until the day of Christ Jesus (Ph.1:6)
  • He sustains them to the end so they will be guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Co.1:7-9)
  • He rescues them from evil and brings them into His heavenly kingdom (II Ti.4:18)
  • Christ saves completely those who who come to God through Him, and always lives to interceed for them (He.7:25)
  • He keeps them for/by Jesus Christ (Jude 1:1)
  • He prevents them from being snatched out of Christ's hand (Jh.10:28-29)
  • He lets them stumble but keeps them from falling, He upholds them with His hand (Ps.37:23-24, Ps.121:3)
  • He keeps them in His own name (Jh.17:11)
  • He is determined to lose nobody and will raise believers on the last day (Jh.6:39)
  • He guards them from the evil one (II Th.3:3)
  • He causes them to walk in His laws and obey them (Eze.36:27)
  • He puts fear in their heart so they don't turn away (Je.32:40)
  • He sanctifies them and keeps them, because He is faithful (I Th.5:23-24)
  • He keeps them from stumbling and presents them blameless (Jude 1:24-25)
  • He establishes them and seals them with His Spirit as a guarantee (II Cor 1:22, Eph.1:13-14)
  • He doesn't forsake His saints, He preserves them forever (Ps.37:28-29)

These verses provide a comprehensive all-encompasing refutation of the idea that a truly regenerated (born again) believer could ever lose their salvation. On the basis of the believers new nature, their new status, and God's faithfulness and power, there is no way in which any true sheep of the fold of Jesus Christ could ever perish. Not only do all these texts support the idea that true believers never perish and always endure unto the end, the concept is indirectly supported by many Biblical concepts and doctrines, including but not limited to: God's sovereignty, election, God's love for the elect, the work of the Holy Spirit, the efficacy
(effectiveness) of Christ's redemption, etc.

As convincing as the evidence I have just presented is, there are some verses which are difficult (but not impossible) to explain and reconcile with the great doctrine truth of the surety of the "perseverance of the saints". Here are the ones mainly used by those who want to teach that truly regenerated believers can be lost: He.6:4-6, He.10:26-31, II Pe.2:20-22, etc. Giving an exegesis of those passages is beyond the scope of this answer, but that can be found elsewhere. These passages do genuinely speak of apostasy and departure from professed faith, but a survey of context and a careful attention to what the author is saying and not saying undoubtedly shows that they don't in one iota contradict what the Bible teaches about perseverance.

We see, in the visible church, many people who abandon their profession in the Lord Jesus Christ. This does not prove that true believers lose their salvation, because we are not infalliable and we can't see in their heart as to whether they were ever really true salvation. We can only share the suspicion that John had, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." (1 Jh.2:19 - ESV) The Bible does not say that those who do not continue in their faith lose anything, but rather that they do not have it at all (see II Jo.1:9).

As professing believers, we can have assurance of being presented blameless and above reproach on the last day before God on the basis of His work on the cross for us. However, we lose that assurance if we don't "continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel" (Co.1:23 - ESV). Why? Because true saving faith keeps on keeping, and if we don't keep on keeping, we don't have true saving faith.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Top 50 Most Influential Books

Over at Tim Challie's blog, he refers to a Christianity Today feature, "The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals".

Of all those 50 books, I've read one of them and own two. And I thought I was an evangelical who reads lots of books :)

The list isn't all that bad, though. There are at least 5 books in there that I've considered picking up in the past and would like to read some time in the future.

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Saturday's Mini Codices

Here is today's installment. Enjoy.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Suprise. Suprise.

Microsoft needs to release more patches.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday's Question

I'm instituting a new feature. Monday's Question. On Saturday I post my Mini Codices and on Monday a "frequently asked question" coupled with my attempt at an answer.


Q. If God predestines who will be saved, why should we go out and preach the gospel to the world?

A. First and foremost, Christians have a mandate from God's word to preach the gospel and evangelize, so that in and of itself should compel us to do so. We must consider that God's means of saving those He predestined is by the preaching of the gospel. Romans 10 makes this clear. So, by obeying God's directive to evangelize, we are potentially being used of God in His master plan to save sinners.

We need to also consider that while only the elect are saved--we as humans do not necessarily who the elect are. Our duty is to plant and water and leave the increase in God's hands. That means that Christian evangelism spreads the word to many (both elect and non-elect) trusting that God will bless the effort as He sees fit by opening hearts to receive the message. This is just like the parable of the seed and the sower, we KNOW that some of the seed will fall on bad ground. It is not the evangelists job to determine who is elect and who isn't, it is his job to faithfully carry out the assignment God has given him.

There is no contradiction between God predestinating individuals as per Ephesians 1 and a free offer of the gospel to all inhabitants of the earth. People that feel there is a conflict probably have unwittingly accepted a false cariciture of the doctrine of predestination.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Saturday's Mini Codices

Here is today's installment:

  • Zotero has just gone public--it looks as though it should prove to be an amazing research/citation tool for the Firefox web browser. It only works on Firefox 2.0, though.

  • If you have an IBM/Lenevo laptop, you should check battery bar code here to see if you qualify for the recall due to unsafe batteries.

  • Douglas Groothuis has an interesting post about what he calls Nietzsche's "Argument From Grammar"

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Vote By "Proxy"

In Canada, apparently dead men can vote.

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