Hard to Believe? Biblical Authority and Evangelical Feminism

On this last Saturday of July I want to refer you to another fine contemporary culture commentary by Dr.Al Mohler. This one concerns the on-going controversy between modern feminism and the church’s calling to uphold the Bible’s teaching on male and female roles in the family and church. Mohler’s commentary focuses on a recent article a woman wrote in a recent issue of Sojourner magazine after attending J.MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in California, a church that upholds the Bible’s teaching on male and female roles.

Here are a few quotes from Mohler’s article. Follow the link to read the entire post:

Anne Eggebroten visited Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, and what she found there shocked her. As a matter of fact, she was so shocked that she wrote about that experience in the July 2010 edition of Sojourners magazine. Readers of her article are likely to experience a shock of their own — they will be shocked that Eggebroten could actually have been surprised by what she found there.

In “The Persistence of Patriarchy,” Eggebroten writes about “the wide reach” of complementarian views of manhood and womanhood among conservative Christians. Her article is subtitled: “Hard to believe, but some churches are still teaching about male headship.” Hard to believe?

Can anyone really be surprised that this is so? In some sense, it might be surprising to the generally liberal readership of Sojourners, but it can hardly be surprising to anyone with the slightest attachment to evangelical Christianity. Nevertheless, Anne Eggebroten’s article represents what I call a “National Geographic moment” — an example of someone discovering the obvious and thinking it exotic and strange. It is like a reporter returning from travel to far country to explain the strange tribe of people she found there — evangelical Christians believing what the Christian church has for 2,000 years believed the Bible to teach and require. So . . . what is so exotic?

“So what is the will of God for women today: silence or preaching, subjection or mutual submission?” Eggebroten asks. She adds, “Many Christians in all denominations, including evangelicals aren’t even asking this question any more—yet the neo-patriarchal movement remains widespread.”

The answer to that question, as Eggebroten’s essay helps to clarify, depends on your view of Scripture. In order to reach her conclusions, you must accept her evasions of the biblical text. If you are willing to do that on this question, you will be willing to do so on other issues as well. The central issue is, and will ever remain, the authority of Scripture.

In yet another twisted use of Scripture, Eggebroten concludes by citing Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” As Paul asserts, in Christ we are free from the slavery of attempting to prove our righteousness by the Law. Paul is not liberating the Church from the Bible.

In the end, that is the real issue. There are Christians who would demand to be liberated from the Bible? Now that is what really should be shocking.

AlbertMohler.com – Hard to Believe? Biblical Authority and Evangelical Feminism.

Play Ball! A Few Baseball Quotes

For our second Friday fun item this week, we feature some fabulous quotes on baseball, that great American pastime. Once I had read that previous article, I just had to find some quotes about this “perfect game”. Some of these will reflect my age, as I chose some that referred to players from my, well, you know, age – the 60’s and 70’s growing up as a child 🙂 Enjoy – and Go Cubbies! CJT

Say this much for big league baseball – it is beyond question the greatest conversation piece ever invented in America.  ~Bruce Catton

Baseball, it is said, is only a game.  True.  And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.  ~George F. Will, Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball, 1990

No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined.  ~Paul Gallico

Every player should be accorded the privilege of at least one season with the Chicago Cubs.  That’s baseball as it should be played – in God’s own sunshine.  And that’s really living.  ~Alvin Dark

Putting lights in Wrigley Field is like putting aluminum siding on the Sistine Chapel.  ~Roger Simon, 1988

Baseball?  It’s just a game – as simple as a ball and a bat.  Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes.  It’s a sport, business – and sometimes even religion.  ~Ernie Harwell, “The Game for All America,” 1955

It is well to remember that a Martian observing his first baseball game would be quite correct in concluding that the last two words of the National Anthem are:  PLAY BALL!  ~Herbert H. Paper, in Cincinnati Enquirer, 2 April 1989

Trying to sneak a pitch past Hank Aaron is like trying to sneak a sunrise past a rooster.  ~Attributed to both Joe Adcock and Curt Simmons

Every hitter likes fastballs, just like everybody likes ice cream.  But you don’t like it when someone’s stuffing it into you by the gallon.  That’s what it feels like when Nolan Ryan’s thrown balls by you.  ~Reggie Jackson

Poets are like baseball pitchers.  Both have their moments.  The intervals are the tough things.  ~Robert Frost

I see great things in baseball.  It’s our game – the American game.  It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism.  Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set.  Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.  ~Walt Whitman

The designated hitter rule is like letting someone else take Wilt Chamberlain’s free throws.  ~Rick Wise, 1974

It breaks your heart.  It is designed to break your heart.  The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.  ~A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Green Fields of the Mind,” Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977

During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times.  I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times.  You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season.  That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.  ~Mickey Mantle, 1970

It actually giggles at you as it goes by.  ~Rick Monday, on Phil Niekro’s knuckleball, quoted in Sports Illustrated, 1 August 1983

It ain’t like football.  You can’t make up no trick plays.  ~Yogi Berra

And, finally, from the old Cubs announcer:

What does a mama bear on the pill have in common with the World Series?  No cubs.  ~Harry Caray

All of these quotes were taken from the “Quote Garden” website.

Baseball – the Perfect Game?

For the first of our Friday fun items this week we feature a rather scholarly and insightful article that appears in the August/September issue of “First Things”. The piece is written by David B. Hart and is titled “A Perfect Game: the Metaphysical Meaning of Baseball”. It really is quite an article, profound yet also humorous, as he lays out why he believes America’s greatest contribution to civilization could very well be baseball, “the perfect game, the very Platonic ideal of organized sport, the ‘moving image of eternity’ in athleticis.

This is how he ends his thoughts, as he ponders the spiritual value of this great American game – of course you knew he would make reference to the Cubs! If you care too, read the entire article at the link below. CJT

These—and I shall close on this thought—are the great moral lessons that only a game with baseball’s long season and long history and dramatic intensity can impress on the soul: humility, long-suffering, dauntless love, and inexhaustible faith in the face of invincible misfortune. I could no more abandon my Orioles than I could repudiate my family, or my native heath, or my own childhood—even though I know it is a devotion that can now bring only grief. I know, I know: Orioles fans have not yet suffered what Boston fans suffered for more than twice the term of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness, or what Cubs fans have suffered for more than a century; but we have every reason to expect that we will. And yet we go on. The time of tribulation is upon us, and we now must make our way through its darkness, guided only by the waning lights of memory and the flickering flame of hope, not knowing when the night will end but sustained by the sacred assurance that whosoever perseveres to the end shall be saved.

Article | First Things.

Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 3:17 AM  Leave a Comment  

Italian Food and Italian Authors

I mentioned earlier this week that I had made a purchase of some new books last weekend. It’s time to fill you in on the story and share my new “reads”. Last Saturday night my wife and I enjoyed a fine Italian dinner in the Cascade area of Grand Rapids. Beforehand she had mentioned that she wanted to go to a mall we never get to otherwise, seeing it is across town. I was not excited, not being  a mall maniac. About the only thing I like doing at a mall is watching people. Unless the mall has a BOOKSTORE! And this one did – Bargain Books – a local chain of stores selling discounted books of all kinds. So while she spent her time popping from store to store, I stayed put in Bargain Books, and I was on cloud nine!

First I browsed the big picture books and found a great golf book, featuring pictures of famous holes from around the world. Bliss! That was a hit with my boys too, also avid golfers. Then I hit the religious section, which is a mishmash of Christianity, Judaism, and world religions. Nothing worthwhile there. So I found myself gravitating to the classics shelves. That was good. Real good. I perused what was there, making a mental check of what I had read and what I’d like to read. Plenty of good stuff to digest before I get too old to read. And then, for some odd reason, I got stuck on two books by Italian authors. Must have been the pasta and Chianti. One I was familiar with: Umberto Eco, author of Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, both great reads – medieval history and mystery. This book was a collection of essays titled How to Travel with a Salmon. This was an Eco I was not familiar with. It appeared to be funny satires on many aspects of modern culture. I bought it. And it is funny. But seriously funny. And Eco is a great writer – good style and excellent use of history and culture. I will share a quote or two shortly.

The second book that poked me in the eye was Christ in Concrete by Pietro di Donato. I knew nothing about this author or title, and yet it is considered an American classic! How could I have missed this book – and with such a religious title and theme?! Well, I was about to learn a few things. It was published in 1939, the same year as another great classic – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – and was overshadowed by it. According to the back “blurb” Christ in Concrete is “throbbing with reality, harsh, beautiful, and uncompromising” as it “takes the reader to the Lower East Side of New York City shortly before the Great Depression and portrays people rarely seen in American literature – the hardworking Italian immigrants who joined the construction trade and lived in the tenements near the waterfront”. It is considered to be, like Steinbeck’s classic, a form of social protest, criticizing the abuses of capitalism as large companies took advantage of this cheap labor pool and built the modern skyscrapers in downtown New York. And this may be, as I am just into the book. But it is the religious theme that captured me. The book is an open testimony to the Catholic/Christian faith as it governed the lives of these Italians. I am eager to see how this plays out in this classic.

But for now, back to Umberto Eco and How to Travel with a Salmon. That title is actually taken from his first essay and involves a very humorous story about how he tried to preserve a salmon he bought on a trip while staying in hotels. I fell out of my chair reading that one. But I want to share part of another essay, this one called “How to Travel on American Trains”. If you have ever been on Amtrak, you will know the truth about which he writes. Here is some of it. Get the book and read all the essays. They are good “brain rinse” material, as one of my friends likes to call books like this. So, enjoy this little snippet. I’ll be sharing more. CJT

American trains are the image of what the world might be like after an atomic war. It isn’t that the trains don’t leave, it’s that often they don’t arrive, having broken down en route, causing people to wait during a six-hour delay in enormous stations, icy and empty, without a snack bar, inhabited by suspicious characters, and riddled with underground passages that recall the scenes in the New York subways in Return to the Planet of the Apes.

…We see Technicolor films in which ferocious crimes are committed in luxurious sleeping cars, where beautiful white women are served champagne by handsome black waiters who have just stepped out of Gone With the Wind. Lies, all lies. In reality, on American trains the passengers seem to have just stepped out of The Night of the Living Dead; and the conductors proceed with disgust along the aisles, stumbling over Coca-Cola cans, abandoned shopping bags, and sheets of newspaper smeared with the tuna fish salad that erupts from sandwiches when hungry travelers open red-hot plastic containers radiated by microwaves extremely harmful to the genetic patrimony.

The train, in America, is not a choice. It is a punishment for, having neglected to read Weber on the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, making the mistake of remaining poor (pp.27-29).

Eco’s book is published by Harcourt, 1995 and is available at Bargain Books in Centerpointe Mall, Grand Rapids, MI. O, and Amazon too. But it’s a whole lot more fun shopping at Bargain Books! 🙂

Feature Article on R.C.Sproul and “New Calvinism”

Speaking of Ligonier Ministries and R.C.Sproul, this past weekend the Orlando Sentinel did a feature on Sproul and his Reformed influence, especially in connection with the revival of Calvinism among the young people of this generation (“New Calvinism” as it has been called by Time magazine and others). It seems to be  a very fair and well-written article. Here is an excerpt; follow the link below to read the entire contents. CJT

The pulpit of Saint Andrew’s Chapel isn’t off to one side in deference to the altar, as it is in a Catholic church. It isn’t a lectern wheeled onto the stage after the Christian rock band sits down, as it is in many nondenominational megachurches.

The pulpit that conservative evangelist R.C. Sproul ascends every Sunday is a large, imposing wooden centerpiece in a church designed to embody his throwback theology. Opened a year ago, Saint Andrew’s Chapel is modeled after the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, just as Sproul’s preaching is a return to the days of John Calvin and Martin Luther.

At 71, Sproul is one of the old guard in what’s known as the “New Calvinism” movement, which Time magazine identified in 2009 as one of the “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now.” Sproul has influenced a generation of younger conservative evangelists and this month announced the creation of a Bible college on his Sanford compound that could extend his influence for generations.

Sproul’s Reformed theology is a return to Scripture-based worship. It is the opposite of church made to feel more like a music concert than a religious service.

New Calvinism: Conservative evangelist R.C. Sproul launches Bible college as his message catches on with young people – OrlandoSentinel.com.

Beauty and the Gospel – July Tabletalk

This month’s issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries’ Reformed devotional, is concerned with the subject of “Worship Matters”. Yes, there is a play on those words, as the various writers address issues about worship in the modern church, while also telling us loudly that worship matters, i.e., it is important! There are good articles focusing on the regulative principle for worship, as well as on things that are indifferent in worship, belonging to the realm of adiaphora (i.e., neither right nor wrong in themselves).

Tucked away from some of the featured articles in the back of the magazine was an interesting one that caught my attention. It is entitled “Beauty and the Gospel” by Terry Yount, who is adjunct professor of music at Rollins College and organist at St.Andrews church (where R.C.Sproul is pastor). He has some excellent things to say about the role of beauty in the church and in the Christian life, as it relates to the truth of the gospel. He addresses how sentimentality is often tied to beauty, but how the two concepts are to be distinguished.

Here are a few of his thoughts. Kindly read the full article at the link below. CJT

In the modern era, beauty is unavoidably tied to the simplistic concept of “prettiness,” like that found in greeting card poems or velvet paintings of lighthouses. In truth, beauty is far more. Beauty reveals the gamut of human experience. True beauty is an ally of the gospel in that it parallels the human dilemma. In reality, a rose is beautiful, but it also has thorns.

When we investigate further, beauty reveals itself somewhere between the opposing forces of darkness and light, major and minor, protagonist and antagonist. Beauty can be appreciated often when seen in contrast with its counterpart — depravity. The honest painter, musician, or writer, gripped by the contrast between good and evil, is unafraid to portray both. In fact, the struggle between darkness and light is often the place artists do their finest work. For example, in Bach’s cantata Christ Lay in Death’s Strong Bonds, the choir sings about crucifixion and resurrection in several movements. Christ is portrayed as a suffering servant, walking the pathway to Golgotha until, at last, the chorus literally laughs its “alleluias” of triumph over death. If biblical Christians are careful in their doctrine to name sin, then in their art, music, and literature should they not do the same?

Indeed, as the church seeks a role in the arts, it must reclaim a more mature concept of beauty. As we recognize and embrace the heart longing in many works of art, we may make a convincing proclamation of the whole gospel message.

Beauty & the Gospel by Terry Yount | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

E-Books Vs. the Library – A Sad Cartoon

In light of Amazon’s announcement last week that they had sold more e-books (used on their e-book reader “Kindle”) than regular books (hardcover and paper) in the second quarter of this year, Jim Morin of the Miami Herald published this cartoon last Thursday. The message is clever and maybe somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but to us true book-lovers the point is nonetheless serious. And I hope it never comes to pass. That would be a sad day indeed. CJT

Published in: on July 27, 2010 at 4:08 AM  Leave a Comment  

Another Sad Bookstore Story

As a former resident of Holland, Mi and an occasional browser at one of the local bookstores known as “Tree House Books”, I read with sadness this news item from the Grand Rapids Press. It is a trend that is spreading nationwide, for the reasons given in this article too.

And in the Sunday business section the Press carried a related story about the hard times that have fallen on Detroit’s largest and oldest independently owned bookstore, “John King Books”, which may result in its closing. The Associated Press story called attention to the rise of e-books and other digital media as the reason for the “squeeze” on these types of stores.

I just don’t get it. How could an e-book possibly satisfy a true book lover?! What does it smell like, as compared to my old Sherlock Holmes volumes? How do you underline or highlight on a “Kindle”? And what happens if in the middle of a great read, your e-book reader’s batteries die?! I don’t have to plug in my books! They’re always there, by my chairside, charged up and ready to be read whenever I want! And whether old or new, these real books have an odor that is, well, just delicious.

I hope that you will continue to read the traditional way and support your local bookstore, so that stories like this do not have to be repeated. News like this just gets me depressed. I think I’ll go read my new book and pick myself up. Did I tell you I bought some news ones last Saturday? OK, I’ll save that for another post. Happy reading! CJT

HOLLAND — After seven-and-a-half years of sharing her love of books, owner Michele Lonergan is closing Tree House Books.

The independent bookstore, 37 E. Eighth St., will close its doors for good on Aug. 31.

“We have a very loyal clientele,” Lonergan said. “It’s going to be a sad day for a lot of people, both kids and adults.”

Lonergan, who has described herself as a “book junkie,” cites the increasingly competitive book industry and the growing popularity of digital media as the reasons behind the decision.

“Independent booksellers across the nation are finding that they can no longer afford to operate as viable mainstreet merchants,” said Lonergan, who grew up in New Jersey and moved to Holland in the early 1990s. “I find this to be a terribly sad trend.”

Read the full story at the link below.

Tree House Books in Holland follows ‘terribly sad trend’ of independent booksellers, will close doors next month | MLive.com.

Published in: on July 27, 2010 at 4:06 AM  Leave a Comment  

Honoring God by Honoring His Authorities

Yesterday morning our pastor at Faith PRC preached on the 5th commandment from Lord’s Day 39 of the Heidelberg Catechism and I Samuel 24 and 26 (David’s honor given to wicked, murderous king Saul). It was a powerful and much-needed reminder of our thank-filled calling to honor God’s authorities. He began his sermon with these words: “”Do you love Barack Hussein Obama? Do you love Nancy Pelosi?” Ouch – that hit me right between the eyes! He went on to explain what our love-duty is according to God’s fifth word of His law and following the example of David toward king Saul. I needed that Word of God. Thank you, pastor, for preaching the truth – even when it steps on our hearts!

In light of this I thought I would post some quotes once more from the two books I am reading in connection with this series on the law and on the catechism. They are, to refresh your memory, Written in Stone by Philip G.Ryken (P&R, 2010) and The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung (Moody, 2010).

First, Ryken:

There is another side to all this, which is that people in authority have a responsibility to exercise it in ways that are pleasing to God. We may not abuse our authority by using it harshly or by overstepping our bounds.  …The fifth commandment has special relevance for fathers and mothers. Our family duties are reciprocal. If children are supposed to obey their parents, then obviously parents are supposed to give them proper discipline. …Parents are called to give their children many other things besides proper discipline. We are called to pray for them, encourage them, counsel them, protect them, and provide for their daily needs. We are called to set a godly example, for although children don’t always listen to their parents, they never fail to imitate them. We are called to educate our children, preparing them for their life’s work, including marriage and parenthood, according to the providence of God. Most important of all, if children are commanded to listen to their parents, then we are commanded to teach them the Scriptures and lead them in the worship of God (pp.124-125)

And second, DeYoung:

While parental authority is not absolute, our problem in American culture is not knee-jerk obedience to parents but a lack of respect for parents and our elders in general. We consider it a given that teenagers rebel. They do sometimes. …But let’s not assume it must happen or that it is good when it does. Independence, learning to think for oneself, trying and failing sometimes – these are steps toward adulthood. but stubbornness, rebellion, and disobedience need not be.

It’s not the right of American teenagers to break the Fifth Commandment, no matter what their friends or hormones tell them. Never before has our cultural ethos done more to allow for and encourage youthful immaturity. Kids are coddled and their preferences catered to, in the home and in the society at large. Contrary to the fears of some, most households are less patriarchy and more kindergarchy.

I doubt many of us regularly feel convicted by the Fifth Commandment, but we probably should. How are we really doing? Do we joyfully submit to parents, husbands, and the rule of law? Are we patient with pastors and senators and middle managers? Do we give glad respect to denominational executives, committee chairpersons, and department heads? Do we take care of our aging parents without grumbling and complaining? Do we ever consider their feelings and desires above our own when making plans for the holidays? Would we be happy if our young children treated us like we, now grown, treat our parents? (pp.185-187).

Good food for thought as we enter a new week of work and service to God and our neighbor. Out of humble gratitude for God’s saving grace to us and obedient-creating grace in us. For Christ’s sake, the perfect obedient Servant of Jehovah and our perfect Savior. CJT

The “Precious Treasure” of the Psalms

As a follow-up to our first post today on making our way though the book of Psalms for Sunday worship preparation, I came across this marvelous quote from the notes of the Geneva Bible introducing the Psalms. I think you will see why I couldn’t pass it up, but had to pass it on. This summary captures all that God intended this book to be for us when He inspired it and placed it in His holy Word. Rejoice again at the goodness of God in giving us this “precious treasure”. CJT

This book of psalms is given to us by the Holy
Spirit, to be esteemed as a precious treasure in which all
things are contained that bring to true happiness in this
present life as well as in the life to come. For the riches
of true knowledge and heavenly wisdom, are here set open for
us, to take of it most abundantly. If we would know the
great and high majesty of God, here we may see the
brightness of it shine clearly. If we would seek his
incomprehensible wisdom, here is the school of the same
profession. If we would comprehend his inestimable bounty,
and approach near to it, and fill our hands with that
treasure, here we may have a most lively and comfortable
taste of it. If we would know where our salvation lies and
how to attain to everlasting life, here is Christ our
Redeemer, and Mediator most evidently described. The rich
man may learn the true use of his riches. The poor man may
find full contentment. He who will rejoice will know true
joy, and how to keep measure in it. They who are afflicted
and oppressed will see what their comfort exists in, and how
they should praise God when he sends them deliverance. The
wicked and the persecutors of the children of God will see
how the hand of God is always against them: and though he
permits them to prosper for a while, yet he bridles them, so
much so that they cannot touch a hair of ones head unless he
permits them, and how in the end their destruction is most
miserable. Briefly here we have most present remedies
against all temptations and troubles of mind and conscience,
so that being well practised in this, we may be assured
against all dangers in this life, live in the true fear and
love of God, and at length attain the incorruptible crown of
glory, which is laid up for all who love the coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ.