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All this hubbub about the US Supreme Court’s recent decisions touching sodomite unions has people wondering if the United States is caput. Many are also wondering what place of the church of Jesus Christ has to speak to all of this political/judicial/moral carnage.

As a Christian (read: Bible-believer), I am opposed to homosexual activity. I don’t think that a man can “marry” another man. By his Word God defines marriage, and that necessarily precludes same-sex marriages. There is A LOT more to say than that, but at least that needs to be said.

Jefe, would you say that we have a plethora of sexual perversions?

Okay, so if the church of Jesus Christ follows the written Word of God, she will be opposed to homosexual perversions (as well as the PLETHORA of other sexual perversions). What shape should that opposition take?

Like everything else, there is a lot to say about this. In the remainder of this post, I want to highlight a very helpful distinction between the church as institution and the church as organism. The institution of the church is the form the church takes in her government and liturgical ministry. The church of Jesus Christ IS an institution: it has officers (elders and deacons), formal discipline (ending in excommunication), and a formal ministry (the liturgical preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments). However, the church is also rightly conceived of as an organism, a living being. The church is a body fit together with all sorts of people, each of whom are gifted and empowered by the Spirit to live out the commandments of God in their own lives, in communion with one another, and in this world.

The concept of the church as institution is roundly hated by many, including many Christians in our day. We read silliness like, “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.” The reality, of course, is that it is both of those and more. Regarding our point, the church as organism is dependent upon the church as institution. The regular function of the institutional church empowers and protects the functioning of the church as organism.

Alright, if that distinction makes sense, let’s move on to apply it to the present situation of homosexual “marriage.” How should the church as institution oppose sodomite unions? Should our elders, sessions, bishops, etc. tell us to vote for this or that candidate? Should our pastors stand in the pulpits and say, “Support proposition X” or “Oppose candidate Y”? I do not think so. That’s right. I do NOT think so. I think that the FORMAL ministry of God’s Word should be just that, a ministry of the God’s Word: Law and Gospel. The people who sit under that faithful ministry should go forth, as the organism of the church, and live according to that Word. Thus, the people of God could rightly band together in political/social groups to oppose this issue or support that one. The institution of the church, however, should not engage in that sort of political and social work directly. The institution of the church should continue heralding God’s Word in faithfulness, empowering the organism of the church to apply that Word faithfully in all areas of life.

This distinction, if kept, will allow Christians to live as Christians in EVERY age without making the institutional church the water carrier for any particular age’s political/social agenda. The distinction, if lost, will subject the institutional church to the political/social whims of every age and will rob the organism of the church of her very power house: the ministry of Word and Sacrament.

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Daveed’s Stud Pose

First off, let me mention that I’m very proud of my friend, Daveed. When I first met him, he was a Muslim and well on his way to being a radical one. Since then, by the power of the resurrected Christ, he’s become a Christian. Praise God! This whole process has given him something of a unique perspective on radical Islam, both domestic and international. You can read all about his experience in My Year Inside Radical Islam. A couple of years ago he also authored a book about how America is not winning the war on terrorism called Bin Laden’s Legacy.

Alright, enough pluggin’ his written work. How about Daveed’s recent work on CNN ? Dig this:

A discussion worth watching

As it comes to the content of that discussion, I admit that I know virtually nothing. Even so, one thing stood out to me that seems quite helpful. Daveed distinguished between “radicalization” and the willingness to engage in violence. These two things are most certainly distinct and need to be understood as such.

Let me illustrate how important this distinction is. I would be (and probably should be) viewed as a radical Christian. (more…)

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Augustine and Calvin

This post is mostly a personal recollection about how I came to know “the doctrines of grace” or “Calvinism.” There have been a couple of instances recently that have prompted me to think about how it was that I became a Calvinist. Before I delve into some personal reflection, however, I should like to tidy up things on a terminological level. What’s meant by the terms “Calvinism,” “the doctrines of grace,” “sovereign grace,” and the like?

Typically, people use all of those words/phrases to point to John Calvin’s emphasis on the sovereignty of God in salvation. Calvin, however, was no innovator. The set of teachings that bears his name has very little to do with him specifically. (more…)

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Pondering deep Christian thoughts, to be sure…

Maile and I currently have four kids. Calvin is coming up on 8, Anuhea 6, Anselm 4, and Ambrose 2. Needless to say, I’m interested in education. Being a Christian, I’m interested in Christian education. Being a Christian, I’m also interested in excellence. Put it together and I’m interested in excellent Christian education. So far, so good.

We’ve been homeschooling, of course, from the beginning. However, when it came down to moving beyond simple reading and arithmetic, we found it challenging to make sure that things were getting covered. By contrast, one thing a good school has going for it is that all areas of importance have been brought together and the scope and sequence of each have been planned out. It was the whole making-sure-everything’s-covered-and-covered-well thing that seemed to Maile and me to be a bit of a bugger.

There are various ways for homeschool parents to address this issue. The way we have found has been glorious. Classical Conversations is group that is engineered to empower and help homeschool parents by forming local communities committed to classical and Christian education. Calvin and Sissy took advantage of their stellar Foundations program this past academic year. Next year, we’ll add Anselm into the mix. That ought to be interesting: yeah, he’s pretty loud.

‘Round these parts, in Columbia County, Oregon, we have a wonderful little (and growing!), committed community. Please take a look at it. It you’re interested in talking about this wonderful aid to your homeschool labors (even if you’re just curious), please contact me. The CC website is quite informative, so be sure to check it out.

CC’s been a great blessing to us this year. We’d like to see it grow, thrive and become a greater blessing to more families. Come join us.

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Can We Discuss This?

At the risk of beating the same drum (I’m no John Henry Bonham), I want to post another little ditty on the issue of gun control. In a word, this post is a plea for some clearheaded thinking in the discussion.

The furthest thing from clearheaded thinking would be insanity; politics is full of insanity. As it comes to this issue, there are plenty on the right side of the aisle who simply chant (read: scream), “FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!” It’s hard to have a clearheaded discussion with someone who simply screams a mantra back in your face. On the other side of the aisle, we have some who view firearms as items just waiting to kill (note that they will almost never say murder) someone. It’s hard to have a clearheaded discussion with someone who is filled with both irrational fears and “righteous” indignation. What I’m saying, here, is that both sides paint each other as unreasonable and, to some degree, both sides are correct in that assessment. This unfortunate reality will stop the discussion from moving forward. It will not, however, stop public policy from moving forward. (more…)

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The Last JihadThe Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What’s good about The Last Jihad (TLJ)? It is fun to read, for it moves along at a good clip. The characters are interesting and not flat. The action is exciting and even a little gory. It has some overtly Christian stuff in it, but isn’t preachy.

What’s not so good about TLJ? Rosenberg’s method of telling a story is scattered. He likes to have little soundbites (even as small as a page or less) on one part of the story, then skip to another soundbite, then again to another. This style is, to me at least, quite irritating and can be confusing. What’s more, this book (though an interesting take on politics in the Mid-East [and the US’s involvement in them]) offered me no profound opening into the culture or political attitudes. It focused mostly on the Americans; it might have been far more interesting if more focus was put on the other points of view represented in the book.

So, altogether, I give TLJ three stars. It is fun, but it’s nothing too special nor worthy of the many must-read lists (Rush Limbaugh notwithstanding).

View all my reviews

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Shogun!

This will be a short review. This book blew me away. Clavell knows how to write in such a way as to hold a reader’s attention. I think that Clavell could hold my interest even if he were writing descriptions of paint drying. Shogun, however, is not only well-written, it contains an intensely interesting story. The story is one of a clash of cultures. As I recall, the book is set in early seventeenth-century Japan. An English pilot of a Dutch ship that crashed on Japanese shores in the midst of (or at least at the beginning of) a Japanese civil war. The Europeans think the Japanese are savage monkeys, while the Japanese (especially the Samurai) think the Europeans to be uncivilized beasts. The divisions and problems between the cultures extend to religion, philosophy, life and death, warfare, love and sex (just to name a few). Shogun is a long book and will require some time to read. Every book we choose to read is also a choice not to read other books. I think that this book is worth the time and the loss of other books. I would not be surprised if I ended up reading it again. I’ve reread books that were far less pleasing that this one.

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