Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Thoughts For the Day

I want to thank Dave Black for his gracious words this morning at Dave Black Online. Dave is a tremendous source wisdom and edification. If you aren't familiar with Dave, check out his latest essay, which includes this great thought: "You will also look in vain in the New Testament for the highly programmatic approach to ministry that we have today, even in Reformed Baptist circles. In my opinion, youth groups, VBS, children’s church, Sunday School, and Awana are all "Band-Aids" (as I recall James Rutz once putting it). God’s plan for Christian education is, to put it simply, Dad. His plan worked nicely since Moses (Deut. 6). But because Dad isn’t equipped (or even expected) to teach the Word at home, we provide programs to solve the problem. The real problem, of course, is that these very programs allow (and even encourage) Dads to abdicate their God-given responsibilities and hand over the spiritual education of their children to the 'professionals.'"

Reading Dave’s thoughts, I was reminded that being “filled with the Spirit” involves a very earthy spirituality, not otherworldliness. In his letter to the churches in Ephesus, Paul says that we are to be “filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:18-21).

Then Paul proceeds to paint a picture of being filled with the spirit. What does it look like? We see that it involves wives submitting to husbands (v. 22) and husbands being devoted to wives (v. 25). We see children obeying parents (6:1), fathers instructing and disciplining their children, and workers surrendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man” (6:7).

In short, the claims of Christ are comprehensive, and extend to our families and vocational life, not merely the workings of the church. As a husband I need a reminder to love my wife, as Christ loved His bride. Likewise, as a father of three boys, I need gentle prodding to bear in mind that I will be held accountable for what they learn, even if I don't teach it to them.

Thanks for the spur, Dave. And praise God that men like Dr. Black are preparing the next generation of preachers, teachers, and evangelists.

It turns out the Joe Wilson and Karl Rove attend the same church--though different services. According to Rove, Wilson "goes to the wacky mass." I wonder if there is any church discipline being undertaken in the midst of that sad situation? Oh, they are Episcopalians. I guess that answers the question.

Speaking of Episcopals, New Hampshire Bishop Vickie Eugene Robinson came calling last week to visit Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The visit came amidst a growing crisis in the Anglican Communion driven in part by Robinson's ascension within the Episcopal church. Robinson, you may recall, divorced his wife to shack up with another man. Instead of being disciplined for this act of blatant carnality, Robinson has become something of a champion for casting aside the shackles of sexual repression.

Here is a bit from the Guardian piece:

Bishop Robinson, who was elected to head the diocese of New Hampshire in 2003 even though he lives with his male partner, told the Guardian yesterday he was not ashamed of his sexual orientation and believed he had no reason for repentance, as conservatives across the world have demanded. "It is not something of which I should repent and I have no intention of doing so," he said. "I have been led to understand that I am loved by God just as I am. That is not to say I am perfect but it is my belief that my orientation is value-neutral. It is what I do with my relationship that God really cares about.

"It has taken me the better part of 40 years to come to terms with all that. It was God that changed my heart about coming to accept myself. It was a very hard-won fight. I would be crazy to turn my back on that now."

So his "orientation is value-neutral." It's only his "relationship" that is of concern to God, right? Then we get to heart of the matter, the abandonment of Scriptural authority. "We worship a living God," says Robinson, "not one locked up in the Scripture of 2,000 years ago." That a bishop can make such a statement speaks volumes about the state of the Episcopal church.

Writing in 1976, Greg Bahnsen cut to the heart of the dispute over homosexuality in the Church. Fundamentally, the issue is about Biblical authority. Bahnsen writes, "Differing attitudes toward homosexuality within the professing Christian church can often be traced to conflicting views of Scripture. Many disputes over the morality of homosexuality turn on another question: will Scripture be the Christian's normative guide or must it yield that position of authority over ethics to modern scholarship, personal experience, natural reason, new mystical insights, public opinion, or some other standard?"

That's the question, brothers and sisters--By What Standard?

Well, well, it turns out that in February of 2002 the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) issued a report casting doubts on the credibility of an informer who claimed that there was a strong link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Eight months AFTER this report was distributed, Mr. Bush gave a speech in Cincinnati, relying heavily on information provided by the discredited source, where he said, "We've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and gas." The "close connection" between Al Qaeda and Iraq became a daily staple in GOP talking points. Secretary of State Colin Powell cited the alleged links between Al Qaeda and Iraq when he went before the U.N. Security Council in February 2003 and Dick Cheney described a relationship that extended through the 1990's. According to the LA Times, "The report was available to the White House, the CIA, the Pentagon and other agencies, but it is not clear whether the Senate intelligence panel had access to it." So much for the smoke screen coming from the Right that "Democrats had access to the same intelligence as the White House."

Meanwhile, in Iraq hearts and minds are being changed every day. Well, maybe not. According to a poll commissioned by the British Ministry of Defense, "65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country." The survey also yields up the following findings:

• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

• 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;

• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.