January 20, 2012

Friday in the Wild: January 20, 2012

Welcome to the inaugural FitW of 2012! You may have noticed that my blogging output has increased somewhat over the last couple of weeks. Here's hoping that's permanent. Bringing back my weekly compendium of stuff frm the rest of the blogosphere is, I hope, a symptom of this "second wind." Since it's been awhile, this post goes back two weeks instead of the usual one.

Phil Johnston takes on Mark Driscoll, Ed Young, and the never-ending fad of risqué evangelical sex teaching:

[E]vangelicals have been complaining for decades that we don't talk enough or hear enough teaching about sex. From the point of view of many non-evangelicals, sex is about the only thing evangelicals have demonstrated a serious and sustained interest in for the past 40 years. As early as 1977, Martin Marty, a liberal religious scholar, referred to the trend as "Fundies in their Undies."

So the premise that evangelical churches are in desperate need of more and more explicit instruction on sex techniques is a risible falsehood.

But evangelical leaders who aspire to be at the vanguard in this trend have to keep looking for even kinkier ways to contextualize their Kama Sutras and spice up their "sexperimentation."

[Read Evangelical Exhibitionists]

I almost never know what to make of Mark Driscoll. He seems to alternate between periods of brilliance and stupidity. These days, he's more the latter than the former.

Albert Mohler remarked on the 70th birthday of physicist Stephen Hawking:

The very fact that Stephen Hawking has reached his 70th birthday is an astounding fact in itself. Hawking, perhaps the world’s most famous scientist, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS], more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, at age 21. That disease usually leads to death within three years of diagnosis, making Hawking’s almost half-century experience with the ALS all the more amazing. . . .

Stephen Hawking is a complex thinker and a man of tremendous personal courage. He has changed the way many scientists look at the world, and he has been a sharp critic of what he sees as inadequate scientific work. His life and thought deserve the close attention of thinking Christians precisely because of his stature and the intellectual and theological challenge posed by his thought. Hawking’s writings and lectures make clear the pretensions of modern naturalistic science. God is simply ruled out of bounds, and there is no place for a personal God within the materialistic universe.

Thus, in Hawking’s view, heaven is just a fairy story and our flickering and brief lives are just accidents of cosmology.

We can only hope that this is not Stephen Hawking’s final judgment on these questions. Hawking’s worldview leaves no room for a personal God, but Christians firmly believe and know that a personal God indeed knows Stephen Hawking.

[Read What Breathes Fire Into the Equations? Professor Stephen Hawking at 70]

(Since I can't give up a good opportunity to plug my alma mater, I'll just mention in passing that Hawking also holds a distinguished research chair at one of its major research centres. Also, a UW physics prof recently split an electron. Well, a simulated one, anyway.)

James White has responded in writing to Roger Olson, an Arminian so doctrinaire that, when asked whether he would continue to worship God if Calvinism were shown to be undeniably true, he recently said no:

It is just here that the convinced Reformed believer must part company with Roger Olson. It is a foundational separation that goes to a much deeper level than Olson's "your god is a moral monster" accusation. It goes to whether we, as creatures, have the right to set up standards that determine what is acceptable and unacceptable for God. Does God's revelation of His nature and actions in the universe determine the truth about the God we worship, or do we set the "limits" of what will be "acceptable" to us before we are willing to render worship? Aaron was silent before God when God struck down Aaron's sons (Lev. 10). Job learned that man has no right to question God and set up standards outside of His revelation (Job 40:3-5).

[Read Can we Judge the Morality of God? A Response to Roger Olson]

As he so often does, White hits the very heart of the matter.

My favourite Webcomic is Darths & Droids, a spoof of the Star Wars series that treats it as though it were being made up on the spot, as the storyline of a role-playing game. If you were ever watching a Star Wards movie and wondered why you occasionally had to suspend disbelief and let a large plot hole float past you like a piece of debris in an asteroid field, now you know why. Last week, the authors hit the milestone I've been waiting for: they started the original trilogy after finishing the three prequels. (Incidentally, I have just added Darths & Droids to my blogroll, along with the geek-friendly xkcd.)

Tim Challies kicked off a series of "Visual Theology" with a cool infographic of the ordo salutis. For his next trick, can he pull off William Perkins' version?

In honour of MLK weekend, John Piper released a free PDF of his book Bloodlines: "one of the most autobiographical books I have written." I never read Piper without coming away better for it; Bloodlines is being fast-tracked onto my reading itinerary.

Piper recently also delivered an interesting talk on the life of Augustine. One of these days, I'm going to do that series on the Confessions that I've been putting off since about 2007.

Jeff Robinson at Credo magazine wrote an article about John Calvin and evangelistic zeal:

Contrary to popular evangelical opinion, Calvin’s theology, including his subscription to predestination, is anything but anti-missions and evangelism. The entire concern of the Reformation was the recovery of the heart of the gospel, justification by faith, so that lost humanity might come to a saving knowledge of the one true God.

Calvin’s exegetical writings make it clear that his theology has no kinship with inclusivism and, to the contrary, views Christ as the only way to reconciliation with God, a truth that must be proclaimed promiscuously before lost humanity.

[Read The Evangelistic Nerve of John Calvin]

Robinson doesn't add, but could have, that once Calvin was able to stop battling City Hall in 1555, Geneva became a major centre of Protestant missionary zeal, especially to Calvin's home country, France. It was also from Geneva that the first Protestant overseas missionaries were sent out, to South America.

Stand to Reason's blog answers the common claim that since Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, he must not have opposed it on moral grounds:

First, it’s not certain that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. The Gospel writers didn’t record everything that Jesus said – only what they thought was important to their audience. Indeed, most of what Jesus said (and did) was never written down. John 21:25 says, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” It’s possible Jesus did talk about homosexuality, but the Gospel writers didn’t feel it was necessary to include it in their accounts.

Second, it’s clear what Jesus would have said about homosexuality if asked. Jesus was an observant Jew who, like all Jews living under the Old Covenant, was bound by the Mosaic Law. That’s why He often referenced it (e.g. Jesus references the two greatest commandments of the Law in Matthew 22:37, 39). Therefore, if He was asked what He thought about homosexuality, He would have cited the Levitical prohibitions (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) that unequivocally state that homosexual behavior is a sin.

[Read Did Jesus Never Say Anything About Homosexuality?]

That would be all for this week, if not for the fact that this Sunday is Sanctity of Life Sunday in the United States, as well as the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I've still got a few bookmarks left over on that issue, so for the first time, I'll be doing a special pro-life Sunday in the Wild. See you then.