In a 1937 article posted on the OPC’s website, Baltimore Sun writer H.L. Mencken writes about J. Gresham Machen, showing that what Machen said about the modernist controversy was true. The secular writer knew that what the modernist were offering with their changes to Christianity writing that it was “hardly more than a row of hollow platitudes, as empty as of psychological force and effect as so many nursery rhymes.”
While Mencken was not a Christian, according to this article, he had great admiration for Machen, and felt that Machen was sorely abused for his stance of orthodox Christianity as well as his stance against the unbiblical prohibition. In the following quote, he contrasts William Jennings Bryan, who was thought to be the hero of the day, with Machen. It’s quite humorous and shows Mencken’s disdain for the populist Bryan.
The fantastic William Jennings Bryan, in his day the country’s most distinguished Presbyterian layman, was against Dr. Machen on the issue of Prohibition but with him on the issue of Modernism. But Bryan’s support, of course, was of little value or consolation to so intelligent a man. Bryan was a Fundamentalist of the Tennessee or barnyard school. His theological ideas were those of a somewhat backward child of 8, and his defense of Holy Writ at Dayton during the Scopes trial was so ignorant and stupid that it must have given Dr. Machen a great deal of pain. Dr. Machen himself was to Bryan as the Matterhorn is to a wart. His Biblical studies had been wide and deep, and he was familiar with the almost interminable literature of the subject. Moreover, he was an adept theologian, and had a wealth of professional knowledge to support his ideas. Bryan could only bawl.
I’m not saying we should use such language or comparisons in our dealing with people, but I couldn’t help but find it humorous. It also helps to put the two men in proper perspective.
O that we had journalist like Mencken today, who understood the power of the pen. Today’s journalist only understand the power of the spin.
Also taken from John A. Battle’s paper on the Doctrine of God.
Aseity means “self-existence.” God’s existence is “necessary,” that is, his existence is not conditioned on anything outside himself; he is totally independent. His existence is grounded totally on himself:
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exod 3:14)
This necessity of existence is not only a logical necessity (as with the ontological and cosmological arguments), but also a necessity of nature. God’s existence is not grounded on the will of God, but on the nature of God. God’s nature is prior to his will (in this regard Aquinas was correct over William of Occam). Since God absolutely exists, he is the source of all existence and life for us.
Also known as His incommunicable attributes. Here is a definition from John A. Battle’s paper on the Doctrine of God:
Those attributes of God which he has in himself, which can be exercised apart from his relationship to his creation, are referred to as his absolute attributes. Those attributes exercised especially with regard to the creation are called relative attributes. Of course, there is some overlap. God’s absolute attributes are exercised in relation to his creation as well, and his knowledge and love were exercised before the creation within the Godhead. The Shorter Catechism describes God as “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being.” The characteristics of infinity or immensity, eternity, and immutability are descriptive of all his attributes. These qualities are studied under this category of absolute or incommunicable attributes.
There has been a recent dust-up over a Gillette Ad Campaign that seems to wag its finger against men for “toxic masculinity.” If you do a search about toxic masculinity, you find that it is quite difficult to actually define. Here is the Urban Dictionaries attempt:
Any Male action that doesn’t conform to liberal ideals of what a man SHOULD be in today’s society. If he isn’t sensitive and emotional and docile he is accused of toxic masculinity.
I get the impression that the men who are guilty of toxic masculinity are those of us who looked at pajama boy a few years ago with disgust. We looked at the effeminate, pajama wearing waif and could see the end result of Liberal policies on manhood and it wasn’t anything that we wanted to be a part of. We know that this isn’t our place in society, sitting around, drinking coffee like one of the girls. That is not who we have been designed to be.
We know our place. We are designed by God to be the leaders in our households. Not only the spiritual leaders, but the leaders in general. Women are designed by God to be our helpmates in our calling. This is why the godless Left is so hell-bent against destroying manhood, and womanhood for that matter. It’s their attack against God and His design (see Psalm 2).
(Just a note of irony for the above cartoon. I got it from Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church’s Facebook page).
When I first read the trial that Justin Hoke, pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church, was undergoing with his boldness to stand for the truth, I admired him. He was willing to stand up and speak the truth when so few others are will to do so in our day.
There will come a day in the not too distant future in which a Christian who is committed to loving Christ by keeping His commandments will be accused of not being a Christian at all, simply because that Christian refuses to attend a Super Bowl Party.
This is where evangelicals are headed with Randy Alcorn leading the way. He is promoting Football Sunday which is a ministry devoted to sharing the testimonies of the many football players in the NFL. They even have a special program for your church to use during the church’s hosted Super Bowl Party. They boast that last year, because of these testimonies, more than 20,000 people have come to Christ. Well, at least that many had emotional responses.
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
In reading through the Westminster Confession of Faith again, I was struck by how much this verse says when it comes to the Law of God. The above verse is a description of the new covenant, which we are now under with Christ. The new covenant was and is at the center of Christ’s ministry and His people. Remember that when He instituted the signs of the new covenant, especially the LORD’s supper, He declared that the wine is the new covenant in My blood. This is not some minor doctrine of the faith.
What I want us to see is that focus of the new covenant: it’s the Law. What has God promised do under the new covenant? First, He has promised to put His Spirit within us. This shows us that the new covenant is far better than the old covenant under Moses. Not that we ignore the old covenant, there is a lot to learn from the old covenant and it helps us understand the grace we have been given under the new covenant.
SlimJim at the Domain for Truth gives a great definition of a contradiction. He then goes on to show how to argue against the supposed contradictions in his post which you can read here. But for our purposes, I wanted to share his definition of a contradiction for my definitions page.
When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction. A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time. To put it another way, a Bible contradiction exists when there are claims within the Bible that are mutually exclusive in the same sense and at the same time.
From our trip down to Brenhan, TX. I added the watch because I thought it would make it interesting, however, my lovely wife informed me it would have been a better picture without the watch. Please vote below in the poll!
I didn’t add the coffee cup on this one. It was there. I thought it would be from Starbucks, but apparently the workers who keep my father’s lawn couldn’t afford Starbucks.
I know this is old news, but Andy Stanley, the mega-church pastor in Atlanta, GA., came out last year and said that Christians needed to unhitch themselves from the Old Testament. From what I understand, his reasoning is that the Old Testament is too much of a stumbling block for many people to come to know Christ. His logic is faulty because in the end, their stumbling block is not the Old Testament, but the Christ who gave us the Old Testament.
Michael Kruger gives a solid analysis of Stanley’s book that makes the case for unhitching ourselves from the Old Testament. You can read Kruger’s article here.
The point I’m trying to make is that Stanley is doing nothing more than coming to the logical conclusion of classical dispensationalism, which is what he was trained in while at Dallas Theological Seminary. The basic understanding of the Old Testament, for Dispensationalists, is that it was written for the Jews, and not for us Christians. They also have the belief that the Old Testament is to be used to interpret the New Testament, not the other way around.
It was fun playing Frisbee golf with the boys. I told both of them that they were terrible at the game and should not expect too much of themselves. They did just fine. I, however, kept expecting too much of my boys. I dialed it back a bit, and tried to have fun. After all, I was the only one throwing for par.
But then there was the mud. The course is laid out on a the bank of a creek bed, and actually in the creek bed. It’s a Texas creek bed, so that means that much of the time, there isn’t a lot of running water in it. Given that we had a bunch of rain the night before, there was a steady stream.
We did our best to avoid the muddy spots, but by hole 10, we gave up. There was just too much mud And several of the holes, which were actually in the creek bed, were so soppy that we didn’t try to play them. We gingerly made our way around the really muddy spots, if gingerly can be used when your shoes grow in size with each step as the mud continues to cling the the already existing mud. At one point, we had to cross the creek. Andy jumped across it, showing us the most narrow spot. Then Joey jumped across it. And of course, I didn’t make it. My left foot slipped on the opposite side of the bank and I plunged into the cold water. Great!
I didn’t do a lot of end-of-year in stuff this year, partly because I knew it wasn’t going to be a banner year. That year came in 2016, when I had 83,417 hits on the site. This year, I didn’t have half of that (36,122 hits). I thought that my low numbers might have been due to a low number of blog posts. I only posted 125 blogs in 2018. But when I looked at the number for 2016, I found that I posted 137 blogs that year. So there was not much of a difference in output.
Part of the decline might be attributed to the fact that of the 125 posts I made this year, about half of them were devoted strictly to photography. I even toyed with the idea of making my blog a photography only site. There have been a lot of reasons why I played with the idea. But as of yet, it still remains a theological blog, with photography thrown in as a diversion.
Given that, here are my top 5 photos of the year. These are the photos that I really liked. I hope you enjoyed them as well.
Please note that all photos appearing in the banner are copyrighted Timothy J. Hammons 2019.
Top Photo of the Year
Mother and the Bride: Heidi holding Rebekah’s hand before her wedding in October.
Mother and Daughter: Heidi and Jessica’s hands together. The photo that inspired the top photo of the year.
From the article The Freedom and Bondage of the Will, found in the New Geneva Study Bible, edited by R.C. Sproul, p. 1181.
Free will has been defined by Christian teachers from the second century on as the ability to choose any at all of the moral options offered in a given situation. Augustine taught that this possibility was lost through the Fall. The loss is part of the burden of original sin. After the Fall, our natural hearts are not inclined toward God; they are in bondage to sin and cannot be freed from this slavery except by grace of regeneration. Such an understanding of this fallen will is taught by Paul in Romans 6:16-23.
Here is that passage:
16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The article concludes:
Only a will that has been set free is able to choose righteousness freely and heartily. A permanent love of righteousness, that is, an inclination of the heart to the way of the living that pleases God, is one aspect of freedom that Christ gives (John 8:34-36; Gal. 5:1, 13).
This is a SlimJim inspired post, after reading his best books list, I thought I would add mine. Now please realize, that if I finish reading a book, it falls into my “best books” category since I tend to set aside books I don’t like. Although, I also have say that there are books that fall into the “best” category but I had to set aside for a while because there was a more pressing issue and I have not finished them yet. Here are four that I did finish for the year.
Best Book On Worship
This would have to be D.G. Hart and John R. Muether’s With Reverence and Awe. This book really helped lay out the Reformed position on worship by establishing the Regulative Principle of Worship as biblical, and by showing that the RPW keeps us from falling into the temptation of our own imaginations when it comes to worship.
“What drove the starkness of Reformed worship was the conviction that worship that included unbiblical embellishments was a violation of the regulative principle. As the Westminster Confession puts it, ‘the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture’ (21.1).
Calvin described two advantages to worship regulated in this manner: ‘First, it tends greatly to establish [God’s] authority that we do not follow our own pleasure, but depend entirely on his sovereignty; and secondly, such is our folly, that when we are left at liberty, all we are able to do is to go astray’ (p. 148).”
By ignoring this principle, we end up with progressive pastors adding dancing men in tights to the worship service. We need the RPW just as much as we need God’s Law. It helps keep us from making the mistakes of Nadab and Abihu in our worship.
I recently read an article about how the Christian publishing industry never really publishes books for men. The industry knows that men don’t buy books. Even when they do publish a book for a man, they market it to the man’s wife or girlfriend so that they will buy it and give to the man in question. That is one of the reasons I never go to Christian bookstores. We have far too many women wearing pants instead skirts, and men in skirts instead of pants.
In view of that, Daniel Allen Butler’s Field Marshal: The Life and Death of Erwin Rommel fills the gaps for men in our day by providing a book about a true man. This isn’t because Butler set out to write a book in order to give other men, an example for men to emulate. That would be a book written by someone in the Christian publishing industry and it would definitely be cheesy. The book is worth reading for men because of the character of Rommel himself.
Joey spotted the locomotive on our way to the library this morning. He asked if we could go to it sometime, and turns out, we did just that. Give our love for trains, and it’s a time of year that brings back many memories about trains, we stopped and spent some time looking at the Frisco Steam Locomotive 19. You can read more about it here.
I’m still mulling over Sinclair Ferguson’s article Should Christians Abandon Christmas? because I believe there is a more serious danger in his reasoning than in the issues he addresses in the article.
One of his main points is that if a church ignores Christmas, then pastors might not ever get around to the Christmas story. He writes:
But ask the question the other way round. When churches “ignore” Christmas, how much preaching and teaching are they likely to receive on the incarnation? Somewhere between four and twelve messages? I doubt it. Such non-scientific investigation of preachers I have done indicates that, in fact, by and large, the incarnation will be ignored. Is that a more biblical approach?
I don’t buy either of one of his premises. First, I don’t accept the incarnation as Christmas. It’s not. What Christmas has become, what it truly is, not what they say it is supposed to be, but what it truly is, has nothing to do with the incarnation. Christmas has nothing to do with being a Christian. It has nothing to do with spiritual maturity. It tends to be a carnal celebration that focuses on the lights, the sounds, the smells, family traditions, and the accumulation of material goods.
I recently read Sinclair Ferguson’s article Should Christians Abandon Christmas? and felt like someone had pirated his computer and submitted an article on Christmas in his name. It was less than what I would expect from Sinclair Ferguson. I expected a good biblical treatment of the man-made tradition with some biblical support either for or against the holiday. I expected…some light and really just got a bunch of willy nilly retread that was neither rooted in Scripture or sound reasoning. It was very un-Sinclair-like.
His basic defense of the holiday was that since God is not specific in order of worship, or specific about what the preacher preaches on Sunday morning, then we have the freedom to go all in on Christmas. In the process of saying as much, he belittles the regulative principle of worship that those in his tradition have held for several hundred years, all so we celebrate a day and in a way that God has not commanded.
First, the biblical response. We are responsible to obey all God commands in his word. But that isn’t the same as saying that unless Scripture specifically commands it we should not do it.
Actually, the regulative principle of worship is based upon a text of Scripture showing just the opposite of what Ferguson is saying. Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron and priests in the Levitical system, decided to offer profane fire before the LORD. The LORD had not commanded it. Given Ferguson’s statement, it should have been fine. The brothers were just being creative in their worship. But God made it clear that we don’t have the freedom to be creative in our worship, or add to what He has not commanded us to do.