Sunday, April 30, 2006

Chrisitianity & Culture

Over at Reformed Baptist Thinker, aka John Devito, he has information on a 2 part lecture given by Gene Edward Veith on Christianity and Culture. This is a topic I am interested in and this lecture series looks pretty good. I look forward to listening to them in the near future.

Friday, April 14, 2006

John Adams: A Life

I just finished reading a great book and wanted to pass along some very brief thoughts on it. The book is John Adams: A Life by John Ferling. I was turned on to John Ferling after listening to another of his books on tape, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800. As a newly admitted history buff, especially 17th-19th century America, I am trying to read a biography of each of the founding fathers. John Adams: A Life is a very detailed look (454 pages) at the entire life of the United States first Vice President (1792-1800) and our second President (1800-1804). This book delves into Adam's early life, his incredible drive to become a man of importance, his family life, especially his relationship with his wife Abigail, his rise to political prominence from a cautious advocate of independence from Great Britain to possibly the most outspoken advocate of independence when the fledgling movement needed leadership the most, especially among the New England States.

The book goes into much detail also on the attitudes of the citizens during the revolutionary era, and does a good job of over viewing the differences between the two main political parties which arose during the revolutionary war and after, namely, the Federalists and the Republicans. Adams was a federalist, though not a high federalist and Jefferson a republican, though Adams became more of a republican near the end of his lifetime. Between this book and Adams vs. Jefferson, you can get a pretty good picture of this man, and also of Jefferson.

There are so many quotes from the book that would be interesting, but for lack of time I am going to focus on one quote. I was interested in John Adam's religious views, as I am all the founding fathers. This topic was broached on a very surface level throughout most of the book, noting Adams would occasionlly discuss theological subjects and owned theological books in his large library. It also mentions him as a dedicated attender of the Congregational Church. Adam's led a long life and near the end many of his friends and family have died. This, naturally, has Adams contemplating death more often. Near the end of the book Ferling offers this analysis of Adam's religious beliefs:

"From this point on, Adams dwelt more than ever on the mysteries of life and death. During his early adult years, Adams had turned away from the strict Calvinism of his youth. He thereafter referred to himself as a "church-going animal" and as "a fellow disciple" to all Christians. In his final years, however, he moved toward a Unitarian position. He continued to believe in the existence of a Supreme Creator and in an afterlife, but he rejected the notion of Jesus' divinity and denounced institutional Christianity as a purveyor of fraud and superstition. The Christian church, he declared, was the cause of much pain and suffering on earth. Nevertheless, he continued to believe that Christ's teachings and his "universal Toleration" offered the best guide to human conduct. "My religion", he remarked in 1815, "is found on the love of God and my neighbor; on the hope of pardon for my offenses...I believe, too, in a future state of rewards and punishments, but not eternal." The one notion to which Adams remained committed was his belief that religion was necessary for the general populace; without some such belief system to constrain the masses, he said, "their World would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell." P. 433-435, John Adams: A Life by John Ferling.

Very interesting quote, and Adam's beliefs here seem to be more Jeffersonian than Christian. Although, I look forward to seeing if further reading on these men confirm or confuse the sentiments expressed here. Adams never lost his belief that mankind was not inherently good, but suffered a base nature, of which government must be contoured and shaped around. According to this book, this is the view that formed Adam's thoughts on government.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy history. It is long, but when I was done I felt I had accomplished a great deal! It was well worth it and I look forward to continuing to delve into the hearts and minds of the men who founded our country.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Interview with John Piper

There is a pretty good article over at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association web site which is an interview with John Piper. Here are a couple of quotes.

A: The fight to delight in God is a fight to see God in and through the Word, by the Spirit. Since revealing is a spiritual thing, and because the Lord is not visible, He reveals Himself to the eyes of our heart by the Word of God. This is the beauty of the Word, combined with the Spirit, so that when we read the Word a seeing happens. I'm not thinking of imagining pictures in the brain, I'm thinking of glory in and through the work of God depicted in the Bible. The glory streams forth out of God's character into our heart and we perceive it, we taste it spiritually; we apprehend it with the eyes of our heart. That's the way we fight for joy. In my own fight, I use the acronym IOUS, and I plead with the Lord:

Incline my heart to Your testimonies (Psalm 119:36), because there are days when I don't even want to pick up the Bible. If that feeling survives, I'm dead. So I plead, "Lord, don't let me not want to pick up the Bible. Incline my heart to Your Word."

Open the eyes of my heart to see wondrous things in the Word (Psalm 119:18), not just black marks on a page. Make Your truth glorious and beautiful and attractive and satisfying and delighting.

Unite my heart to fear Your Name (Psalm 86:11). My heart is fragmented and going every which way—I'm worried about the kids, I'm worried about the church, I'm worried about the car I need to fix. So I ask God to get my heart together to have a reverential demeanor toward Him.

Satisfy me with Your lovingkindness (Psalm 90:14). Make my heart so content in You that pornography is not attractive, money is not attractive, fame is not attractive. I want an attraction to You to dominate my life.

I've actually added one more "S" and that's Spread. Evangelism. The mission statement of our church is, "We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ."

Does anyone else connect with that? I do. Also this.

God is angry at sinners. It's not wrong to talk about sinners in the hands of an angry God. We just need to complete the picture by adding that He wants to get us out of His anger into His mercy. He couldn't do that as a just and Holy God by sweeping sins under the rug. They had to be carried by a substitute, and only the Son of God could bear them. So He sends Christ His Son to live a perfect life. His death is the consummation of two things. It's the consummation of His righteousness, so that I could have a righteousness imputed to me that's not my own. And it's the consummation of the sufferings that I should have borne because of my sin. I should have suffered in hell, but He suffered on the cross for me because He was the divine Son of God who came and took all my suffering. He provided all my righteousness so that Paul can say, "[God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV).

That, I believe, is the gospel ladies and gentlemen. As Justin Taylor said, the whole article is a good summary of John Piper's theology. Check it out.

(THFP: Justin Taylor)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Reporting on ARBCA

Two of my pastors are at the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America general assembly meeting this week at Heritage Baptist Church in Fayetteville, GA. For the schedule click here.

I am delighted that they have been able to attend this conference, and excited about the fact that Pastor Robert will be blogging from the conference. You can go ahead and click on it now and read about the first session. Keep checking in for further updates!


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