Saturday, February 12, 2005

Web Surfing on a Saturday Morning

Before a day of playing with the kids, changing diapers, and trying to straighten up the house before grandma and grandpa visit, I wanted to direct my readers (both of you out there) to some interesting stuff I stumbled across this morning.

Dave Black writes an interesting essay on the church. Dave provocatively asks, "Why do so many of our congregations look for potential leaders outside of their own ranks instead of raising and training their own men for pastoral leadership?" That raises an interesting question: Are seminaries, under the control a central agency in the church, the best means of training the clergy. I don't really know enough to comment on this matter intellignetly, but it seems that ministerial education, like all other forms of education, has become increasingly centralized, with the consequent decline in quality. Increasingly, seminaries place less emphasis on systematics and languages, and more concern on "practical" and "managerial" aspects of ministry. Doesn't this inevitably lead to spiritual sterility?

Paul Craig Roberts is burning up the keyboard. Commenting on Donald Rumsfeld's silly statement that, "Partly it's [the insurgency] a function of what the Syrians and the Iranians are doing," Roberts writes:

You see, the facts that the US invaded Iraq on false pretenses, killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqis, shot down women and children in the streets, blew up Iraqis' homes, hospitals and mosques, cut Iraqis off from vital services such as water and electricity, destroyed the institutions of civil society, left half the population without means of livelihood, filled up prisons with people picked up off the streets and then tortured and humiliated them for fun and games are not facts that explain why there is an insurgency. These facts are just descriptions of collateral damage associated with America "bringing democracy to Iraq."

Tom Fleming reminds us that charity begins at home (scroll down for article).

Though I would like to see something done about the immigration problem, I agree with Ron Paul that HR 418, the REAL ID Act, is not the answer to the problem. This is one more example of what Sam Francis has termed anarcho-tyranny. Here you have a huge problem created by the state, which has willingly allowed its borders and sovereignty to be violated by lawbreakers. But instead of taking care of the problem at the border, the White House has asked for just an additional 210 border patrol agents while Congress has passed legislation that "establishes a massive, centrally-coordinated database of highly personal information about American citizens." Let freedom ring!

Charley Reese takes on the Bushies over our coming Iranian invasion. Charley is correct that it would only be rational for the Iranians to pursue nukes. Remember, Iran is surrounded by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and neighboring countries (Pakistan, India, and Israel) are also nuclear powers. Let's hope we aren't taken over the brink in Iran, because war there will make the Iraqi invasion look like a "cakewalk."

The Internet is crawling with interesting writing that would never see the light of day elsewhere. Here is a great little post at The House of Degenhart (here is another) and here is a nice little historical essay by pastor Bret McAtee. I especially like Bret's comparison of the GOP and the Girondists. If my experience is any example, Bret will find out that Americans don't know very much about European history (Jacobins, Jacobites--who is Jacob?).

The Derb sees the light. He says that Ted Kennedy is right--it's time to declare victory and bring the troops home. Derbyshire, and perhaps John O'Sullivan, represent the only serious thinking going on over NR, once the center of the conservative movement.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Darrell,

Hope all's well.

By the time I'd reached your potpouri of articles this evening, I'd read many of them at If any of your reading was done there, there was an interesting piece by Gordon Prather examining C. Rice's diplomatic sojourn this week. He explores a matter of not inconsiderable import when he comments on the EU's desire to end it's trade embargo begun in 1989 with Communist China. Ostensibly there to mend fences mangled by the Bush Administration in its insane rush to war in 2003, Rice appears to have been sent more fundamentally to head off this new EU/China schmoozing.

At the time Bush launched the Iraq aggression, a new and centralized EU military apparatus involving Germany, France and Belgium had made its appearance. This level of military co-operation marked a first for the EU and clearly points to the formation of an EU "Bundeswehr" in the immediate future. The close relationship of Putin to the French and the Germans and to their diplomatic postures respecting Iraq prior to the outbreak of hostilities had me wondering about a possible future pan-European military alliance, one developed principally because of our menacing behavior with regard to Iraq. With the EU's drift toward China, one now gets the impression that the old relationship with Continental Europe's important states, in fact, has been irrevocally damaged. If the EU's wandering builds any momentum how far might we be from a two superpower world once again? Not far, I'd wager.

I read a bit of Bret McAfee's piece as well. His musings on the state of our culture bring to mind the sad fact of the inevitability of a polymorphous sexuality once with the appearance of artificial contraception, the critical connection between marriage and fucundity had been severed. Joseph Ratzinger writes convincingly of this inevitability, of how homosexuality, or even beastiality, becomes a right in such an environment. Ratzinger implicates both contraception and, if my memory serves me, a certain gnostic configuration to the modern notion of what it means to be human, a super-essential, albeit not entirely integrated notion of the soul/body relation. In any event, the present state of things didn't simply appear. It had a beginning, is still in development and has what passes for a theological anthropology. There's more to come.

Yours In The Holy Trinity,

John Lowell

8:17 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Having grown up in Dispensationalism, your analysis of a potential EU/China/Russia alliance sounds like one of those nightmare scenarios I used to hear about events that would precede the rapture of the church and the return of Christ. Have you been reading the "Left Behind" novels? :)

On a more serious note, it is only logical that the Russians, Chinese, and EU would try to forge warmer relations in the wake of drunken U. S. imperialism--with more to come if the administration can be believed.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you'll excuse the pun, I'm afraid I'll have to admit to a certain preference for being "left behind" when it comes to Dispensationalism. :-)

Interesting that you were brought up in a dispensationalist environment. Your denomination has not always favored such an outlook, as I understand it. If I recite the history properly, Land and other dispensationalists engineered something of a coup in the SBC in the late '70's /early 80's. I've always considered it unfortunate that Darbyism has been so exclusively identified with Protestant orthodoxy. It represents a significant departure from the historical line of Calvinist development certainly, an odd admixture of Wesleyan, Calvinist and something approaching dualist elements.

I think you use an apt term when you apply the word "drunken" to the Bush foreign policy. It suggests something of the abusive which, to my mind, describes the Bush approach quite well. A defensive EU/Russian/Chinese military alliance is logical in present circumstances, all too logical, I'm afraid. There would be a very ominous tilt to such a development.

John Lowell

5:53 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...


My reply will only begin to discuss the changes that have occurred in the SBC in the last couple of decades, but here it goes.

First, let me say on a personal note that I have only been a Baptist for about seven years. I grew up in a non-denominational, fundamentalist church, which had more of the Darbyist tinge that you describe.

The battle in the SBC that took place during the 1970's and 1980's was really more about our view of Scripture. Theological liberalism was ascendent in the SBC, and much of Protestantism, during most of the 20th century. In the SBC, however, there was something of a counterrevolution against liberalism. In that particular dispute, Calvinistic and Dispensationalist Baptists were on the same side. The battle was largely about the inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures.

There have always been Calvinistic Baptists, indeed, the earlier confessions were largely Calvinistic. It is true that traditional Calvinism has taken a beating in the SBC, but there is something of a resurgence going on within the denominiation.

I live in the Louisville area, home of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Al Mohler, who heads the seminary, began the process of cleaning out SBTS when he came in the mid-80's. He was viciously attacked for his insistence on battling heresy, which masqueraded in the name of academic freedom. If my reading of Michael Jones is accurate, Catholics have also had this problem in their seminaries and colleges.

Anyway, I am familiar with many young Baptist seminary students and a number of faculty as well, and I truly believe that Calvinism is on the rise in the denomination. I do think it will take time to bear fruit, however.

Dispensationalism, too, is undergoing some changes, due in part to the work of people like Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock. Even at Dallas Theological Seminary, for example, it seems that old-line Dispensationlism is in decline. Though still popular on much of Christian TV and "literature" (the "Left Behind" novels, which by the way were co-authored by Jerry Jenkins, who grew up in my home church), Dispensationalism will claim fewer adherents in the future.

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not familiar with Michael Jones, Darrell. But if he's said that we've had problems in our seminaries, he's certainly right about that.

The Church has seen attempts since the Second Vatican Council by so-called "Progressives" to interpret the Council as a major departure from the long tradition of the Church. Certainly from the time of the Council of Trent, the Church had been rather insular. Vatican II, which was simply an attempt to rid the Church of some of its encrustations and to find over against a certain neo-scholastic weightiness light back into the whole of the theological tradition, was never the revolution it was described to be. While there were undoubtedly important litugical changes made, none were made in the area of doctrine. Emphases were changed in certain instances, a Church centered Mariology gained prominance over the former Christocentric Mariology, for example, but there was nothing particularly earth shaking about that.

The problems irrupted in the late 1960's. Important theologians, many of them influential at the Council, began speaking of a Vatican III. In Western Europe and the United States the "Progressives" were in the accendant. With the papacy of John Paul II, however, attempts to interpret the Council as a major departure from the past were successfully set aside. An important Synod in 1985 effectively brought an end to the "insurgency" and it's been downhill for us ever since. But the damage had been done in the seminaries and we're still working that out. I won't have to mention the embarrasment of the recent scandals, of course, our problem with actively homosexual priests. I consider their being exposed one of the greatest gifts God has given to the Catholic Church. We now have a real chance to rid ourselves of their poison. They've destroyed the Episcopal Church as you know and they did it there very gradually. We've come all-too-close to the very same thing. I've done my share of fighting in the past: You know, resisting Sister Mary Margaret when she took it upon herself to rewrite the Scripture readings at Mass to suit her feminist inclinations and the like. But I'm no longer worried about how things are going to turn out ultimately; the 1985 Synod and the scandals have fixed that.

John Lowell

11:49 PM  
Blogger Alvin Miller said...

My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead.


6:20 AM  

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