Hymnus Deo

Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Does anybody else find it ironic...

...that President Obama is giving a speech about a lean economy on Fat Tuesday?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Well, well, well...

Tonight I decided randomly to go to Westover Church here in Greensboro for their singles group called The Well. I used to attend somewhat regularly, but it's been over a year since I've been. I'm glad I went.

I asked a single friend a few years back, "why is it that all they ever talk about in singles groups is relationships and the end times?" The friend thought for a second and replied, "hey, that is all we ever talk about!" So I couldn't help but laugh to myself when I showed up tonight to find out they were beginning a four week series on relationships.

Former singles pastor Chris Lewis (now pastor of discipleship) gave the message tonight. One passage he discussed was the conversation that Jesus had with the woman at the well, recorded in John 4. That sparked a few thoughts in my own mind, which follow, and had little to do with what Chris actually said. (Sorry Chris, I actually was listening.)

I believe it was Doug Wilson who pointed out in one of his lectures that, throughout Scripture, whenever a man and woman meet at a well, then a wedding is soon to follow. Men and women would tend to meet there, and therefore it wasn't unusual that their meeting then led to their getting married. The well was sort of like the soda shop, or the water fountain, or maybe today, the Starbucks. Or maybe like the bar, though people who meet in bars don't usually get married, they just use one another until they tire of one another. But in Scripture, beyond the mere sociological aspect, wells carry a specific typological significance. Since wells have water, they tie in to the various typological meanings of water in Scripture. Water is connected to the Holy Spirit; to death, burial, and resurrection; to regeneration; and through the Exodus and the Jordan, it is connected to entering the Promised Land. All these things overlap in the John 4 passage. But in the least, we should note the connection between this passage and other passages where men and women meet at wells. So it is reasonable that the disciples would be shocked that Jesus would be talking to this woman. Would he have anything to do with a woman who had lived such a promiscuous life? But this is exactly how God had been throughout the Old Covenant. Yahweh's wife, Israel, had played the harlot over and over and over again, and He had repeatedly taken her back. This woman, though a Samaritan, symbolized unfaithful Israel. In fact, in being a Samaritan, she was an example of an unlawful intermarriage between the people of God and the pagans.

So was Jesus looking to marry this woman? Well, yes and no. This woman also symbolized the church, in that she wasn't fully Jewish. Were she to become one of the faithful, and therefore one of the church, then yes, Jesus was going to "marry" her, just as He would marry all who became part of the church. In fact, Jesus notes that the woman had had five husbands, and the man she was with at the time wasn't her husband. So a little basic math reveals that she had been with six men. Then who was to be the seventh, that is, who was to be her Sabbath rest? Jesus was.

But on the other hand, he wasn't going to marry her. Jeff Meyers once noted in a lecture that Jesus has several encounters with women through out the Gospel of John. It seems reminiscent of Adam's act of naming the animals (Genesis 2) and not finding among them a suitable helper. Jesus meets many women, but only the Church is fit to be his mate.

The conversation between Jesus and the woman turns to the subject of the proper place of worship, and the debate is over which mountain is the correct one. But Jesus tells her that neither is right. He says that true worshipers will worship in Spirit and in truth. We might be tempted to take that to mean in a non-physical way, or that location doesn't matter. But that isn't the case. True worship is directed heavenward, where the New Jerusalem is, the heavenly Mount Zion. This connects the passage to Revelation 21, where the New Jerusalem is portrayed as a Bride, adorned for her husband, coming down out of heaven. Jesus will marry the Church, which is His Bride, which is the New Jerusalem.

And all of this happened at the Well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why Johnny Can't Preach

I just got an email from the Westminster Seminary bookstore that featured this book, which looks like it would be very interesting:

Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Christ the Ark

This morning's Old Testament reading from the Book of Common Prayer came from Genesis 8, which tells of the latter portion of the time that Noah, his family, and all the animals spent on the ark. What strikes me as interesting is the care that God gave in describing to us the sequence of events that took place leading up to and during the flood. Four chapters of Genesis are devoted to the story of Noah (ch. 6-9), which suggests that we do the story a disservice when we reduce it down to a tale about a big boat full of cuddly animals.

The passage is rife with typological symbolism. The tabernacle typology fills the passage, and seems to be the main imagery here. Just as Yahweh went into great detail in His prescriptions for the tabernacle, and then later the temple, He also here goes into great detail in His instructions to Noah. The measurements are detailed, as are the materials that the ark is to be made out of. Rooms are to be made in the ark (6:14), which are later echoed in the two rooms in the tabernacle, and even moreso in the various chambers of the temple (1 Kings 6:3-5). We might say, in other words, that, from the perspective of the flood, the ark prefigured the tabernacle and the temple. But from the perspective of the tabernacle and the temple, they were designed in part to resemble and hearken back to the ark. They were each, in themselves, arks, means of salvation from the judgment of God for sin.

Yahweh commands Noah to take seven pairs of each clean animal, which pointed forward to the Mosaic law and the animals prescribed in the Levitical offerings. And after the flood, we are told that Noah offered burnt offerings to Yahweh, a specific type of offering in the Levitical system (Lev. 1). As the ark pointed forward to the tabernacle and temple, so Noah functioned here as priest and pointed forward to the Levitical priesthood.

There are the details given regarding the days and months during the flood. The number seven makes several appearances in the story, pointing back to the Creation as well as forward to the foundation of the Levitical calendar, the Sabbath (Lev. 23:3). It also seems to be no coincidence that the ark came to rest on the 17th day of the 7th month, which date would later have been during the Feast of Booths (Lev. 23:33-36).

Leaving the matter of the Old Covenant liturgical system somewhat, we also see a parallel between the flood and the baptism of Jesus. Peter shows us the connection between the flood and the baptism of Christians (1 Peter 3:18-22), but when the details are considered, the connection with Christ's baptism (Mt. 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk. 3:21-22) becomes apparent. Christ went into water, just as the ark did. We have reference to the opening of the heavens (Gen. 7:11), just as in the stories of Jesus' baptism. And there are the reports of the Holy Spirit being as a dove (even in the bodily form of a dove, as Luke records, vs. 22), which is a link to Noah's sending out of the dove from the ark (Gen. 8:8-12).

And so the ark, the tabernacle, and the temple, were all types of Christ. Or, in other words, Christ was the fullness of all that the ark, the tabernacle, and the temple, were mere shadows.

And now, for something completely different... a little pre-show music.

I decided a week or so ago that I would write some pieces about music and post them on my Facebook page. I'll be posting them here as well. They will rarely make Facebook references, but I don't really care to take the time to edit them for this blog. So here is the first one, as written for Facebook, and I trust the reader will be able to consider it without being to distracted by comments referring to the original intended context.

I think the one thing that comes up most often when I talk to people about worship is music. Obviously, music is an important part of worship, so it's natural that people would want to talk about it. Whether or not it's as important as most Christians think it is, however, is a whole other question.

The "worship wars" are gradually becoming old news, it seems to me. As the older generation of Christians are passing on, so is the music they were accustomed to hearing in church. And as the younger generation has grown up and is taking the reins of leadership, the default position now in most Evangelical churches seems to be contemporary worship. Generally, though, what is meant by "contemporary worship" is simply "worship with contemporary music". This isn't to say that there aren't other things that have changed in worship in recent decades. But let's be honest. People don't generally find themselves in the middle of huge church splits over whether or not to have a skit before the sermon on Sunday morning. Usually, the fights that take place over worship in the local church center around music. Of course, when the shift in music takes place, other things usually come with it. You don't find churches with worship bands where the seats are full of women in dresses and men in three-piece suits, after all.

Then there is the whole question of music outside of corporate worship. As a Christian, is music that falls under the heading "Christian" the only type of music I should listen to? Is all "secular" music bad? I'm always intrigued by the different answers to these questions that are bandied about in Evangelical circles.

When I signed up on Facebook a couple of months ago, I didn't really anticipate reconnecting with so many people from earlier in my life. As I've interacted with old friends through email and online, music usually comes up, since I'm a musician of sorts. For what it's worth, I must confess that I don't play guitar much anymore. I'd rather listen to others play these days. And the photo with the headstock of my guitar? I was just trying to get an artsy picture for my profile.

Nonetheless, people who haven't seen me in years still think of me, I guess, as a musician. For those who have only known me recently, it used to be that my guitar and I were practically joined at the hip. Much of my identity was wrapped up in it. These days, I'd rather be reading. The world is full of things to learn, and I want to learn all I can, hopefully for my own good, for the good of others, and, especially, for God's glory. I find the masses, however, aren't as interested in knowledge. For most people, armchair polymath apparently holds less mystique than guitarist. If you play a song people like, they love you. If you tell them some sort of insight you gained from Scripture, or from reflecting on the world around you, they generally seem, shall we say, less than impressed. Alas.

But I still consider myself a musician. I've been a sort of musical jack of all trades, master of none. I sang in choirs and choruses in school and church from elementary school on up through high school, and even one semester in college. I played in a garage band in high school. I sang with a southern gospel group briefly. I led singing in youth group, and daily worship for a ministry I served at for a couple of years. I've sung solo in churches and in coffee shops. I've dabbled in everything from barber shop to Bach to the Beatles. So, though I may not be classically trained, in light of my experience I believe I have some views on the topic of music that are worth sharing.

So my plans at this point are to post occasional thoughts on music, both inside and outside the church, and this is the introductory post. As always, I welcome any interaction on what I'm writing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Irony with a vengeance

Many of you will be familiar with Ben Stein. He is probably best known for his appearance as the dead-pan teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, or maybe for his now defunct game show "Win Ben Stein's Money". He happens to be an all-around brilliant guy, being also an economist, as well as a political commentator and speech writer. His most recent fame, however, has come from his movie "Expelled", which was released last year and which highlighted the bias of the scientific community against anything but Evolutionary theory.

Well, his exposé of Darwinianism has come to be a personal reality for him. Originally asked to give the commencement address at the University of Vermont this Spring, a huge backlash erupted, based off of his criticisms of Evolution. As a result, Stein has declined the invitation to speak.

On the Big Hollywood website, Andrew Leigh notes the irony in this. The whole point of "Expelled" was to show the unwillingness within academia to be open to theories of origins other than Evolution. Now, the thesis of the movie has been confirmed. Plus, the Darwinists have shown that they are as hypocritical as they often accuse Christians of being. So who's closed minded now?

Relevant links:


HT: Gary DeMar

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Real Abraham Lincoln


Monday, February 09, 2009

A creative way to sell your children into slavery to the State.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

The U. S. government, helping to spread democracy throughout the world.


Monday, February 02, 2009

The Modern State, a False God

(W)ithout a sound faith, men will trust almost anything and anyone rather than God. Having denied God, men will then proceed to deify themselves, their own creations (including the state) and almost anything other than the living God (Rom. 1:18-23). Chief among these man-made idols or gods is the state. As St. Augustine pointed out, in The City of God, when men forsake God, and when a civil order becomes godless, it is soon no more than a larger band of thieves, a super-mafia, whose victims are the citizens. This evil situation is compounded by the fact that the people insist on trusting this false god, the idol state. The more it oppresses them, the more they turn on state-created scapegoats, and each of them in turn becomes a scapegoat. But this is not all: to relieve themselves of a state-created oppression, they vote still greater powers to the state, crying in effect, "O Baal, hear us" and save us (I Kings 18:26).

As we view the modern state, it is important to recognize one central fact: the major enemy of the humanistic state is its own people. The U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. have their differences, and they may go to war, but both have been in continuous war against their own peoples from 1918 to the present. Savage as the treatment by the U.S.S.R. of Germany was, after World War II, it never equalled its savagery towards its own peoples. The U.S.A. has been generous to its enemies, and to all the world, except its own people. In the name of the public welfare, it has robbed, abused, and mistreated its own citizenry, and it is waging war against all segments of society, behind a facade of subsidies, and, with President Carter, began a war against Christianity as well.

People should have been forewarned. Early in the modern era, city planners, as soon as they came into existence, began to think of straight streets, not for the convenience of the public, but for the control of the people. An angry populace could be handled more easily by cannons shooting down straight streets, and rebellious peoples could be easily subdued by a cavalry charge up and down a straight street.

The first principle of the modern state is to protect itself against its own people, and to control them. Its second and lesser principle is to protect itself against foreign enemies. Foreign enemies are a periodic problem; the people are a state's permanent problem.

Thus, to entrust the state to control our lives, our families, our education, religion, and economics is to ask for our destruction.

The goal of state-controlled economics is the increase of statist powers, and the control of money is basic to that goal. To trust the state with money is to ensure, virtually always in history, the debauchery of money.

--Rousas John Rushdooney, The Roots of Inflation, pp. 41-42 (1982)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

New Links

I just added a couple of new links. Two of them are to pages by my friend William Chad Newsom. He is the author of Polycarp: Crown of Fire and Talking of Dragons, both of which are published by Christian Focus. A third link is to a page called Net Right Nation. It is a news site that serves as a portal to numerous Conservative blogs. I just found them the other day, and discovered they had linked me. I always try to return the favour if I can, so you'll find them in the side bar as well. That goes for other sites as well. If you have a site and have linked me, let me know. Unless I have a good reason not to (promotion of any sort of false doctrine or rank immorality would serve as examples of "good reasons"), I'll add a link to your page.