The _____ Blog Posts of 2008

December 30, 2008

If you look around the blogosphere this time of year, there are all sorts of lists that reflect something about 2008.  (Isn’t there some unspoken rule that bloggers must do such a post near the year’s end?)  Sensing that to be the case, I feel some sense of obligation to do one myself.  I know.  Simply following the crowd is hardly a good reason to do anything, but as you’ll see, this was actually premeditated and planned early last year.

I hesitate to call the list that follows, the “best” blog posts of the year, as I am certain that there were some better.  But each of these, for various reasons, caused me to stop at the time and make a record of them for a return visit some day.  Each struck me at the time as particularly insightful, or helpful to solidifying my thoughts on a subject, so I saved them.  And here they are.

This offers up far more reading than most will care to tackle, but you might try a few and see how they strike you.

Escaping Justice  – Tim Challies 1/2/08

A three part series by Tim Challies:  Are there Errors in the Bible? – 1/11/08, What does “Inerrant” Mean? – 1/12/08, Errors and Contradictions in the Bible – 1/14/08.

Is Matriarchy the Shape of the Future? – Albert Mohler 1/17/08

Christianity vs Jesusanity– Albert Mohler 1/18/08

Jonathan Edwards in Charity and Its Fruits – Josh Harris 2/14/08

A series on the subject of Emerging vs. Emergent written by C. Michael Patton.  Would The Real Emerger Please Stand Up.

Digital Native and Digital Nomads.  Al Mohler 3/31/08

The Exegetical Process.  C Michael Patton 3/31/08 

Marriage and the Glory of God  Al Mohler 4/2/08

A Primer on the Christian Understanding of Capital Punishment  C Michael Patton 4/8/08

What do you mean by “free will”?  C Michael Patton 4/22/08

A Little Bit of Comfort for Machen’s Worrier Children  Carl Trueman July, 2008

As One With Authority  Al Mohler’s commencement address to graduates of Southern Seminary 12/12/08


Some good news for fans of natural peril.

December 29, 2008

With the year drawing to a close in a matter of a couple of days, we will all experience, although at a level hardly detectable, proof of yet another natural peril.  Life, such as it is, with the threats flowing from Global Warming and other natural disasters in the making, has just become more difficult.  You see, at 23:59:60 PM Wednesday, December 31, 2008, one second will be added to the cesium atomic clocks around the world.  It is being called a Leap Second. 

This is being done in response to the reality that (perhaps you should be seated when you read or hear this) the earth’s daily rotation is slowing.  In fact, in the 34 years between 1972 and 2006, the earth’s rotation, when compared to the atomic clocks, slowed by 23 seconds.  Did you stop to consider that?  23 seconds!  And now, only 3 years later, we are having to add yet another second.

With various other imagined global crises somewhat in doubt, I suppose this must be a real blessing for those who see a calamity under every rock and behind every tree.  This is REAL.  The earth is slowing down!!!  It will take someone with far more creativity than I possess to imagine the dire implications of this new peril.  I hope Al Gore is aware of this. 

Perhaps Barack Hussein Obama will have a solution.  Just as he plans to create “green jobs” in response to Global Warming, maybe there are new “slower jobs” that will not only be a natural response to a slower rotating earth, but will also serve to boost the economy and maybe even save the planet.  Let’s do hope so.

Read more about the Leap Second at the U.S. Naval Observatory website.

Doin’ my part.

December 29, 2008

Tim Challies predicts that this video will go viral.  So, I just figured I needed to do my part for the sake of Tim’s credibility. 

You’ll get the gist of the song in about three minutes if you don’t want to watch the full five minutes.  [Note:  I’ll agree with the YouTube poster, for whom the song was written, it’s silly.]

Presents under the tree

December 27, 2008

geneva-esvFor Christmas, I included the new ESV Study Bible on my “wish list.”  (Sorry Stan.  I had to do it.)  The promotional hype around this product started early in 2008, leading to its introduction in October.  All of the big names in the Neo-Reformed Magisterium were offering their blurbs in support of it.  And by the end of the year, other “notables,” including this one, were including it in their top books of 2008.  So, I figured I needed to get on-board with what was being heralded as a real masterpiece.  And,  my “wish” came true.  Thank you so much (son) Ross.  I have not had a chance to really dig in and use all of its features, but it does appear to be packed with them.

Also under the tree, thanks to my wife Leigh, was a copy of the 1599 Geneva Bible.  I have to confess that I knew very little about the Geneva Bible before receiving this gift.  When I started reading some of the material in the Forward and other Notes to the Reader, I learned some interesting stuff about this Bible.  Its publisher says that it is the Bible of “firsts.”

The Geneva Bible was the first English Bible to be fully translated from the original languages.

The Geneva Bible was the first to be printed in Roman type rather than “Black Face” Gothic text.

The Geneva Bible was the first to qualify as a study Bible because of its copious notes, annotations and commentary provided by its translators.

The Geneva Bible was the first Bible to assign chapter demarcation and to add verse numbers within chapters.

The Geneva Bible was the first to be printed in a small “quarto” edition making it more portable and affordable.

It was the Bible carried by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower during their journey to the new world in 1620.

It was the Bible of John Bunyan and the Puritans.

It was the Calvinist notes in the Geneva Bible that so infuriated King James I in 1604 that he commissioned a group of scholars to produce of a Bible without annotations for him.  It was finally published in 1611.  Were it not for his antipathy for the Geneva Bible, the Authorized King James Version might never have been produced.

The Geneva Bible was written during the period where the English language was transitioning from Middle English to Early Modern English, so reading it does not come as easily as more modern translations.  Still, it is incredibly interesting, as are the notes.

the dawn of redeeming grace (reprised)

December 23, 2008

[Note:  Here is another post that I wrote last year for Christmas that, interestingly enough, receives hits throughout the year.  People search using the exact title above (minus the word reprised) and are linked to my post.  I am utterly amazed that happens.  At any rate, traffic has picked significantly as Christmas nears.  So, I thought I would dig it up and update it a bit for fresh publication in 2008 for those of my readers who have come along side during this calendar year.  For my old standbys, please forgive the repetition.]

The Christmas carol Silent Night, originally Stille Nacht, was a collaboration between an Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr, and the music director of his parish, Franz X. Gruber.  In late 1818, Mohr’s parish in Oberndorf, Austria had an organ that was in need of repair due to a flood earlier that year.  In anticipation of the need for music at the Christmas Eve mass, Mohr asked Gruber to create a melody that could be played on a guitar, to be used with lyrics Mohr had already written.  Those lyrics were the words to a six-verse poem Mohr had penned a couple of years earlier.  Supposedly Gruber composed the melody in a matter of hours.

Here is a direct translation of Stille Nacht into English.  The result is considerably different from the more familiar lyrics that we know and use today.

Stille Nacht (Source: Lisa Yunnucci )
Silent night, holy night,
All’s asleep, alone awake
Only that faithful, holy couple.
The nice boy with curly hair,
Sleeps in heavenly peace,
Sleeps in heavenly peace!

Silent night, holy night,
O Son of God, lovingly laughs,
From your divine mouth!
Now, the hour of salvation rings for us,
Jesus, in thy birth,
Jesus, in thy birth!

Silent night, holy night,
That brought the world salvation,
From the golden heights of Heaven,
Let us see the abundance of grace,
Jesus in human form,
Jesus in human form.

Silent night, holy night,
When all power today,
Of Fatherly love has overflowed,
And Jesus, as brother, humbly embraced,
The people of the world,
The people of the world.

Silent night, holy night,
Long since intended for us,
When the Lord, freed of wrath,
In the father’s “old grey” time,
Promised all the world protection,
Promised all the world protection

Silent night, holy night,
To the shepherds first announced,
By the angels’ Alleluia,
Is sounding aloud from far and near:
“Jesus the Savior is here.”
“Jesus the Savior is here.”

The lyrics to Silent Night that are most familiar to English speaking people, are credited to John F. Young, an Episcopal Bishop from Florida.  He wrote them in 1863.  Young is known to be the author of the first three verses shown below, while the author of the fourth is not known.

Silent Night!
Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon’ virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight,
Glories stream from Heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Savior, is born,
Christ, the Savior, is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light,
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Silent night, holy night
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent Night is my favorite Christmas carol.  I have great memories of it as a child.  And the memories of Christmas Eves past and the singing of this song are significant.  But apart from those personal sentiments, I am drawn to a particular line in the song that has served to create a rich restatement and reinforcement of the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is quite literally and appropriately, the celebration of the incarnation of God in Christ, Immanuel, and a celebration of the long anticipated, but mostly misunderstood arrival of Messiah.  But in Young’s lyric “the dawn of redeeming grace“, he captures something else that is incredibly important to understand and embrace.

The concepts of creation, fall, redemption and consummation are certainly not new.  They represent the very theme of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation.  But these terms have received some helpful coverage in a book I read for the second time this past summer.  Out of that reading, I am, no doubt, reflecting on Young’s lyrics with fresh eyes.  And with those fresh eyes, the significance of “the dawn of redeeming grace” has not been lost on me this Christmas.  Because the essence of Christmas really is the literal arrival of the grace of God in Jesus Christ, that brings redemption to fallen man.  And with the dawn of that first Christmas morning in Bethlehem, it had become a reality.

Merry Christmas!

If you want to get out of a hole, stop digging.

December 22, 2008

smu-logo2My financial support of SMU ended officially several years ago when the powers-that-be decided that University policy would be to extend employee health benefits to the domestic partners of homosexual employees.  I corresponded several times with the University President to find out why they thought that was good idea, particularly when the denomination from which the University takes its name still rejects the idea that homosexuality should be normalized.  Instead (at least at the time of this writing), they recognize that it is counter to Biblical teaching.

The initial response I got was that it was a “competitive employment issue,” as a number of major employers in the Dallas area offered similar benefits.  I suggested to the President that, using that reasoning, it would be logical and infinitely fair to extend employee health benefits to the domestic partners of unmarried heterosexual employees.  That would result in the University being a really “competitive” employer.  Their response was that they considered that to be “an undermining of the institution of marriage.”

Now don’t misunderstand me, I was not advocating the extension of benefits to domestic partners of unmarried employees, irrespective of their sexual preferences, but rather pointing out the startling inconsistency in their logic.  If “being competitive” was important, why hold back by limiting themselves to being only attractive to prospective homosexual employees?  Are there not single but cohabitating heterosexual persons that would make good employees?  I suspect that the current policy is really more of an endorsement (or MAYBE even advocacy) of the homosexual lifestyle, than it was a needs-based initiative, that need being to attract people to employment by the University.

So, more recently, as I was thumbing through the University’s most recent alumni magazine, a particular article caught my attention.  It provided reinforcement beyond my original reasons for why SMU does not receive my financial support.  Here is the text of the article:

Series Highlights Impact of Charles Darwin

When Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, he changed the course of science with the turn of a page.  Throughout 2009, SMU schools and departments will celebrate the 150th anniversary of this book and the 200th birthday of the author through a series of lectures, exhibits and presentations, “Darwin’s Evolving Legacy:  Celebrating Ideas That Shape Our World.”  (emphasis mine) Confirmed events include:

A Meadows School of the Arts theatrical reading from “Inherit the Wind,” the iconic play about the “Scopes Monkey Trial”  Feb. 12.

A speech by National Medal of Science winner Francisco Ayala, author of Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion, Feb. 20.

A panel discussion on the Pennsylvania case barring a public school district from teaching “intelligent design,” Sept. 24

Other speakers will address Darwin’s impact from the perspectives of biology, ecology, philosophy, anthropology and theology.

In addition, from Sept. 8 through Dec. 9, DeGolyer Library will exhibit every edition of On The Origins of Species published during Darwin’s lifetime, with reactions from the popular press and scientific community.

So as to be fair, I admit that I am grateful for the education I received from SMU.  My degree from what is now known as the Cox School of Business is something I am proud of and it is respected in the marketplace.  I will also be the first to acknowledge that the free exchange of ideas is a long standing tradition in the university setting, and I applaud the continuation of those exchanges.  And I will also concede that not all ideas presented need to conform to mine. 

Also, the trustees or board of governors (or whatever they call themselves) have the power to effect any kind of employee benefit program they want to, so long as it does not run afoul of state or federal statues.  And, I guess that about all I can hope for is that they follow their consciences.  That said, for as long as their policies and academic pursuits continue along the lines described above, they can do all of that without my financial assistance.   

You see, that is how I follow MY conscience.

Note:  If on the off chance anyone from SMU reads this, I’ll even offer to SAVE you some money by suggesting that you not mail fund raising materials to me, or spend any time or money on phone solicitation.  Unless of course you call or write to say that you are repenting from the matters described above (and probably some others that I am not even unaware of.)

I thought this was interesting.

December 20, 2008

The book of Proverbs in the Bible was mostly written by Solomon, who scripture tells us had the wisest and most discerning mind of any man to ever live, by the gifting of God Himself. (1Kings 3: 12).  

Consequently, it would be safe to say that there is nothing contradictory to be found in the Proverbs (or the balance of scripture for that matter, considering its authorship.)

But the term “proverbs” has been appropriated to refer to lots of so-called wisdom writings and sayings that have nothing (or at best little) to do with the Truth of God’s word.  And some of those “proverbs” do contradict themselves.

Here is list that identifies 15 Contradictory Proverbs.  Interesting, huh?