Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Robert Godfrey on Church Growth

While doing some research today, I stumbled upon a talk Dr. Robert Godfrey gave back in 2004 on the Church Growth Movement. It is excellent. Since it was given back in 2004, I realize I'm way behind the times, but if I hadn't heard it, there's a possibility you haven't heard in either. Give it a listen, you'll be glad you did.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Compare and Contrast

Martin Luther:

“The pope employs most wicked tricks…. Next to Satan there is no greater rascal than the pope. He has plotted evil things against me, but he’ll be the last….He is a Florentine bastard.”

Table Talk, between January 8 and March 23, 1532.

“My epitaph shall remain true: ‘While alive I was your plague, when dead I’ll be your death, O pope.’”

Table Talk, February 1557.

“[Luther] raised himself up and after making the sign of the cross with his hand, he said to us who were standing around him, ‘The Lord fill you with his benediction and with hatred of the pope!’”

Table Talk, February, 1537.

John Calvin:

"We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist...personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist."

"The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers," Vol. 2, pg. 121.

“The hireling dogs of the Pope cease not to bark, in order to prevent the pure Gospel of Christ from being heard: so great is the licentiousness that is here and there breaking forth, and the ungodliness that is spreading abroad, that religion is become a mere mockery.”

Michael Horton:

"Biblical theology--that is, the work of tracing major scriptural themes from promise to fulfillment--is essential for the life and health of the Church. Long before his election as pope, Benedict XVI brought his wide-ranging gifts to bear in this field in a Christ-centered exposition. Even when one disagrees with some of his conclusions, Benedict's insights, as well as his engagement with critical scholarship, offer a wealth of reflection. In this remarkable book, Scott Hahn has drawn out the central themes of Benedict's teaching in a highly readable summary that includes not only the pope's published works but also his less-accessible homilies and addresses. This is an eminently useful guide for introducing the thought of an important theologian of our time."
Michael S. Horton, J. G. Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California endorsing the book Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI by Scott Hahn.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving."

Psalm 69:30

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

When we turn to the relationship between apologetics and evangelism (or "witnessing," as Kuyper termed it), we must again disagree with those who suppose that the unbeliever can intelligibly study and interpret experience while at the same time denying the truth of the Christian worldview. Francis Schaeffer does this by isolating apologetics from evangelism, making apologetics a preliminary or preparatory vestibule for faith—what he calls "pre-evangelism." Schaeffer does not contend that the non-Christian's worldview is philosophically unintelligible, but simply that it is incomplete. It is all right as far as it goes (it has "half the orange"), but it leaves out the supernatural (the "other half of the orange"). In light of this dichotomy between an area of natural understanding (which does not need Christian presuppositions) and an area of supernatural understanding (which calls for the Christian worldview), we can understand how apologetics becomes a first step, with evangelism following as a second. Schaeffer says: "The truth that we let in first is not a dogmatic statement of the truth of Scripture but the truth of the external world and the truth of what man himself is. This is what shows him his need. The Scriptures then show him the nature of his lostness and the answer to it. This, I am convinced, is the true order for our apologetics in the second half of the twentieth century."

This understanding of our procedure assumes that the unbeliever's philosophy can readily interpret both the external world and himself in an intelligible fashion on the basis of its autonomous presuppositions and rejection of biblical authority—understanding them well enough to see his spiritual "need." After this preparatory work of reason has been done, the evangelist can appeal to the unbeliever to repudiate his autonomy and accept the dogmatic truth of the Scriptures, which "answers" his spiritual need. Thus, Schaeffer's outlook suggests that apologetics and evangelism operate intellectually with different standards, goals, and methods—a twofold approach that is true to the traditional Thomistic method.

Greg Bahnsen in Van Til's Apologetic, 52-53.

Monday, November 22, 2010


A quick note to point out that TE Wes White, defender of orthodoxy in the PCA, has changed the URL of his blog. You can now find him at WesWhite.net. Make sure to update your bookmarks/newsreaders. The new site looks great, Wes!

New PCA Presbytery Map: 17-16 in Favor of Amendments

Here is the latest map, showing the results of weekend Presbytery voting. The vote count is now 17 Presbyteries approving the amendments, 16 Presbyteries rejecting them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

PCA Vote now 15-14 Against Amendments

Two more PCA Presbyteries have voted to approve the BCO amendments, bringing the total to 14 approving and 15 rejecting the amendments. Remember, two-thirds of all Presbyteries must APPROVE the amendments in order for them to pass. The latest map is linked below. You won't notice a change on the map, because the two presbyteries were Korean presbyteries, and in the PCA the Korean presbyteries overlap other presbyteries geographically, making it difficult to map their results (I mean no offense to the Korean brothers!). There are four more Presbyteries meeting Saturday, so the map may change drastically after this weekend. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another 2 PCA Presbyteries Vote...

...bringing the total to 15 against the BCO Amendments and 12 for the BCO Amendments. Latest map can be seen by clicking on the thumbnail below.

ARPTalk Issue 37

A new issue of ARPTalk is out. It contains three articles:

1. Ebenezer and Ralph's Story
2. Why I Really, Really, Really want to Attend Erskine Seminary
3. Things You Wanted to Know but were Afraid to Ask

All three are excellent (as usual), but here are some quick thoughts on each.

Ebenezer and Ralph's Story: If you ever had a high opinion of the ARP, this article will cure you of it. I believe Rev. Wilson puts things into perspective with his apt illustration of the fight over Erskine as two dung beetles fighting over a huge pile of elephant feces. I still hold out hope that Erskine can be transformed into something more than a steamy pile of droppings, but do we in the ARP have the resolve to see those difficult changes through? It is unclear at this time if we do.

Why I Really, Really, Really Want to Attend Erskine Seminary: This article distinguishes between why a potential seminarian wants to attend Erskine, and why a potential seminarian ought to want to attend Erskine.

Things You Wanted to Know but were Afraid to Ask
: I can sum up my response to this article by saying "Thank God for our Canadian ARPers!" Those brothers have their house in order! Would that the rest of the denomination were more like them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Random Verses from the NIV

The Bayly Blog has been doing a series of posts on the latest version of the NIV (NIV 2010), but at Bible study last night, I noticed some horrible translation choices in the current NIV when one of the men there read from it for us. See below:

Acts 4:9 (NKJV)
If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,

Acts 4:9 (NIV)
If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed,

Numbers 11:16 (NKJV)
So the LORD said to Moses: "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you."

Number 11:16 (NIV)
The LORD said to Moses: "Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you."

Note that the gender of both the helpless/crippled man in Acts 4, and the gender of the seventy elders of Israel in Numbers 11 is selectively omitted in the NIV. Note also that in Acts 4:9, both in the critical text and in the Textus Receptus the Greek word "anthropos" meaning "man" is present. This is not a textual variant issue; this is a conscientious translation choice to omit the word "man" in Acts 4:9. The same is true for Numbers 11:16 where the Hebrew word "eesh" meaning "man" is present in the text. Again, a conscientious translation choice to omit the word "man" from the text. Please, if you use the NIV as your every day Bible, get yourself a better translation.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Two More PCA Presbyteries Vote...

...and the map is updated:

(Southwest Florida voted to approve the Amendments. Philadelphia voted to reject the amendments. Total is now 15 Presbyteries AGAINST, 9 Presbyteries FOR the amendments. See The Aquila Report for the latest on Presbytery voting.)

EDITED TO ADD: Make that THREE Presbyteries vote. Houston Metro voted to approve the amendments, which is now reflected on the map linked above. Total is now 15-10 against the amendments.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

PCA BCO 14 Amendments Map

I have been tracking the progress of the PCA Presbyteries voting on the proposed amendments to their Book of Church Order (BCO). I have put together a map showing which Presbyteries have voted, and how they have voted. Click on the thumbnail below to see the full map. I'll continue to update this map as more Presbyteries vote. If someone could provide me with a list of dates for upcoming Presbytery meetings, I think I could use that to enhance the map further, as well.

And the Winner is...

I've taken much longer than I should have, but it is finally time to announce the winner of "The First Ever Ruling Elder Blog Contest!"

If you remember, the contest entailed watching a video clip and giving a critique. I received several great critiques. Some highlights included:

Lane Keister pointed out the "Enlightenment-driven divorce between fact and experience."

RevK linked to a sermon entitled "What's the Reason for Preaching?" Although not a critique of the video included in the contest, I still encourage you all to give it a listen.

Patrick Pulliam correctly pointed out, "The gospel is words, proclamation, a message based in and communicated by human language. It is propositional truth, which necessarily involves human knowledge (Rom. 10:17)."

Van cut straight to the point when he wrote that a key take-away point of the video was "The biblical Gospel message is irrelevant."

Grit wrote, "It can be dangerous to philosophically compare our encounter with God in epicurean or hedonisitic fashion." Very true indeed!

Finally, Josh H, in a moment of acute philosophical transcendence, opined: "Dude, this video is wack, yo!"

Despite all these great points, the winner is: LARRY. Larry, please contact me at webmaster@therulingelder.com so I can get your mailing info to mail you your prize!

Oh, and the prize is: The Westminster Standards, An Original Facsimile (Old Paths Publications).

Below is the complete text of Larry's winning critique. Thank you all for participating!

Larry said...

I like what Lane said...but keep in mind he's a Teaching Elder ;)

I learned so much about Krispy-Kreme and so little about Christ.

He actually uses the pulpit as a place to praise and bring glory to Krispy Kreme...a place that is reserved for Christ.

The pulpit is a place for gravity not humor. His jocularity was inappropriate given that he was to proclaim God's holy word in reverence.

He creates a false dichotomy in which information about Jesus is divorced from an experience with Jesus. The bottom line is that you can't have an experience with Jesus without learning the truth about Him. You don't need to know the truth about what's in a donut to experience it, but you do need to know the truth about Jesus to experience Him.

He claimed the Spirit of God told him to take a donut. This shows more irreverence for God and puts Him on the same level as Ronald McDonald as being a spokesperson for a food product.

He paints a picture of a hedonistic Heaven in which our fleshly desires (like for donuts) are gratified. Rather, both in Heaven and on earth we are to be gratified by Christ.

He sets a bad example of breaking the Sabbath in that the Krispy Creme donuts were most likely purchased just prior to that Sunday service.

Calling the donut "king of all donuts" and paralleling it to Christ does great disservice to Christ, and once again shows a complete lack of reverence.

He didn't even thank the Lord for the donut before eating it.