Shortly after Angel Contrares finished drawing the new and improved Captain Headknowledge portrait, featuring John Calvin
wearing Superman’s colors (see this post), and he posted it on his Facebook page, and I copied it with his permission and uploaded it to my Facebook page as well as adding it to the sidebar here, I got a surprising Facebook message from a lady in the Netherlands saying she works for a “glossy” (that’s apparently Dutch for magazine) that is planning to celebrate John Calvin’s 500th birthday (see this, that and the other post), featuring, in part, ways that Calvin is being celebrated around the world. Now, I may be mistaken, but I thought the glossy lady said she’d mail me a copy of the magazine, but I’ve yet to see it; however, I just peeked at the “Calvijnglossy” website and noticed that they’ve posted their collection of “Calvijn” images on the site. You can check it out here. Then you can click on the Captain’s image and see a full-size copy of it here.
Kinda fun, huh? I’ve never been published overseas before. Or is that Angel? Anyway, happy birthday to John “Calvijn”!
Back in 2005, Dr. Bart D. Ehrman wrote Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible And Why, and it became a bestseller. Ehrman’s works are often appealed to by the skeptical in the media to undermine the traditional, orthodox view of Scripture. A Princeton grad, Ehrman studied under the leading light Bruce Metzger, with whom I’m familiar because when he was alive he so often appeared in programs produced by Evangelicals in defense of the reliability of the New Testament, although he himself ran in the circles of the theologically liberal. Ehrman was originally a student at Moody Bible Institute, but began to lose his faith in the preservation of Scripture, then the inspiration of Scripture, and now I think he has even become an agnostic.
Last week, Reformed Baptist elder and Christian apologist James White faced off with Dr. Ehrman in a debate on the claims of his book. You can read a little about the debate here, and you can purchase the debate for $15.00 on CD here, and for $6.00 on mp3 here. Sometimes you have to listen fast, but it’s well worth the effort. While Ehrman seems to hold his own pretty well, later, on White’s webcast, The Dividing Line (haven’t found the link to the program yet), he points out how much of Ehrman’s defense is based on the logical fallacy of appeal to authority, which authority, of course, would be Ehrman’s own credentials. You gotta check this out, and pass the info on to those who spend too much time listening uncritically to the History Channel and the Discovery Channel and other popular forms of skepticism in the media.
I know many theological and political conservative Christian Republicans (as well as those to their right) are grieving the loss to their dream of rebuilding this “Christian nation.” They’re keeping a stiff upper lip as they say good-bye to the out-going evangelical President George Walker Bush, and endure, not without some respect for the historical nature of the event, the election, and now, inauguration of the first African-American President, Barak Hussein Obama. Hard times are coming to the evangelical dream of “taking America back” for Christ, but things are going well for the pluralistic civil religion.
During the next four to eight years, it may serve you well to think through a little more carefully just what is the Christian’s relationship to his government. What vision ought he to have for his nation? Should it be forced into the mold of Old Testament Israel, should a Christian theocracy be established, or are we to forswear all participation in the public square, and stop polishing the brass on the sinking ship of America?
I submit that a firmer grasp on the classical Christian distinction between what Augustine called the City of God and the City of Man is in order. How is the Christian to live as citizens of the City of God without molding it into the image of the City of Man, and vice versa? This week’s episode of the White Horse Inn, “The City of God,” will tell you. You can read Michael Horton’s intro to the program here. Also, I found particularly helpful and interesting the programs on ”Christianity and Politics,” part one and part two, in which, back in September, Dr. Horton interviewed D.G. Hart (author of A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church & State), Dan Bryant (former Republican Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice) and Neil McBride (a strategist for the Democratic Party). Their introductions can likewise be read here.
I think learning a little more about what the Bible really expects of Christian citizens will help us all cope while the party who beat us in the last election has their turn at the helm of the ship of state. We, and our country, might just be the better for it.
I just wanted to post my “Amen!” to Dr. Kim Riddlebarger’s recent post which emphasizes the logical conclusion of an absence of church discipline.
In chapter 30 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, “Of Church Censures,” a good summary of the biblical case for church discipline is outlined.
I. The Lord Jesus, as king and head of His Church, has therein appointed a government, in the hand of Church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate. (Isaiah 9:6-7; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Acts 20:17-18; Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Matthew 28:18-24)
II. To these officers the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed; by virtue whereof, they have power, respectively, to retain, and remit sins; to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the Word, and censures; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the Gospel; and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require. (Matthew 16:19; 18:17-18; John 20:21-23; 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 )
III. Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethres, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders. (1 Corinthians 5; 1 Timothy 5:20; Matthew 7:6; 1 Timothy 1:20; 1 Corinthians 11:27-34; Jude 23)
IV. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season; and by excommunication from the Church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person. (1 Thessalonians 5:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 13; Matthew 18:17; Titus 3:10).
Many Christians decry the use of “labels” to identify one’s distinctive beliefs and/or practices. I find this attitude intellectually dishonest. Everyone’s belief and practice, or approach to determining his own autonomous belief and practice, is learned either consciously or unconciously from some prior group’s or individual’s belief and practice. Being able to identify these is not some attack on the unity we have in Christ, but when used with a good and accepting attitude, it’s a way to know your brother or sister in Christ. And if you know your friend, you can love him better.
My personal attitude about labels can be likened to the way all you sports fans out there view your teams. Sure, there’s a little competition between teams, and maybe an animated discussion about your team’s strengths and the other teams’ weaknesses, but it’s all in fun. That’s the attitude I like to retain about our various distinctives. Everyone should just relax, and have a good time in the Lord, for cryin’ out loud!
Anyway, I bring all of this up simply to introduce one of R. Scott Clark’s entries in his live blogging of the Calvin’s Legacy Conference from Westminster Seminary California. Dr. Clark answers a question about the difference between the labels “Calvinist” and “Reformed.” You can read his interesting answer here. ” But in the meantime, he shares some history that reveals the origin and significance of other labels like “Lutheran,” “Evangelical,” and “Protestant.” It’s a good, short read.
Now all you guys who admit to your own labels, remember to play fair! If you like what you read, there’s plenty more where that came from. You can subscribe to the Calvin’s Legacy Conference RSS Feed and it’ll come to you, you won’t have to go get it!