Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Author and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach penned an op-ed article for the Jerusalem Post recently that was appreciative for the extensive Christian charity many evangelicals express for Israel and its beleaguered people.
" ¶ Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, [and] prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace [be] within thee. Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good." (Ps 122:6-9 AV)
No Holds Barred: Jewish ingratitude to Christians
By SHMULEY BOTEACH
Rather than attacking Christians for having nefarious motives for their charity, we should offer thanks.
Every year, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews raises about $100 million from mostly evangelical Christians in the US for distribution to social-welfare projects in Israel and the former Soviet Union. This is a staggering sum, making the IFCJ arguably the largest foundation for needy Jews in the world. One would think that the Jewish community would show immense gratitude to our Christian brothers and sisters for such love. I therefore found it extraordinary to hear that there is a campaign in the Israeli rabbinate to discredit the organization and forbid Jewish groups from benefiting from its funds.
In our religion, the worst of all character traits is to be an ingrate. Denying the goodness that others perform on your behalf leads to a closing of the human heart. No one wants to be taken for granted. So great is the Jewish emphasis on appreciation that our greatest prophet, Moses, was commanded by God not to strike the Nile River and turn it into blood (in the first plague against the Egyptians) because that same river had saved his life when he was a baby. Later, in plague number three, God warned Moses against smiting the dust of Egypt (and turning it into lice) because that dust had saved his life when he had to bury the body of a murderous Egyptian taskmaster.
Imagine that. A man who spoke to God "face to face" was told he must show thanks to water and dust. Such is the extent to which Judaism demands gratitude.
Over the past two decades, evangelical Christians have emerged as Israel's most reliable friends. Pastors like John Hagee, my friend Pat Robertson and countless others have galvanized colossal Christian support for Israel. Even in the worst bombings of the second intifada, when tourism to Israel fell off a cliff, Christians still came in their millions. The same is true of stalwart Christian political support.
While President Barack Obama continues to bully Israel over apartments in Israel's undivided and eternal capital, many American Christians have a litmus test for their elected leaders: You don't support Israel? You're out.
As I write these lines, former president George W. Bush is enjoying a public renaissance in America with the publication of his book, Decision Points. The best friend Israel ever had in the White House makes clear, at the beginning of his book, how he turned his life over to Jesus, and there can be no question that there is a direct link between his deep Christian faith and his unyielding support for Israel against those who, like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seek its annihilation. …
The rest of this article can be read on The Jerusalem Post website.
1. Omitting all dispute about the question, "whether it be possible for God to render man happy by a union with himself without the intervening act of man," we affirm that it has pleased God not to bless man except by some duty performed according to the will of God, which God has determined to reward with eternal blessedness.
2. And this most equitable will of God rests on the foundation of the justice and equity according to which it seems lawful and proper, that the Creator should require from his creature, endowed with reason, an act tending to God, by which, in return, a rational creature is bound to tend towards God, its author and beneficent lord and master.
3. This act must be one of the entire man, according to each of his parts — according to his soul, and that entirely, and each of his faculties, and according to his body, so far as it is the mute instrument of the soul, yet itself possessing a capacity for happiness by means of the soul. This act must likewise be the most excellent of all those things which can proceed from man, and like a continuous act; so that whatever other acts those may he which are performed by man through some intervention of the will, they ought to be performed according to this act and its rule.
4. Though this duty, according to its entire essence and all its parts, can scarcely be designated by one name, yet we do not improperly denominate it when we give it the name of Religion This word, in its most enlarged acceptation, embraces three things — the act itself, the obligation of the act, and the obligation with regard to God, on account of whom that act must be performed. Thus, we are bound to honor our parents on account of God.
5. Religion, then, is that act which our theology places in order; and it is for this reason justly called "the object of theological doctrine."
6. Its method is defined by the command of God, and not by human choice; for the word of God is its rule and measure. And as in these day we have this word in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament alone, we say that these Scriptures are the canon according to which religion is to be conformed. We shall soon treat more fully about the Scriptures how far it is required that we should consider them as the canon of religion.
7. The opposites to religion are, impiety, that is, the neglect and contempt of God, and eqeloqrhskeia will-worship, or superstition, that is, a mode of religion invented by man. Hypocrisy is not opposed to the whole of religion, but to its integrity or purity; because that in which the entire man ought to be engaged, is performed only by his body.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The buzz in the bushes is ratcheting up the volume a bit regarding the Barna study on the so-called "new Calvinist" resurgence or lack thereof. A good number of the internet Calvinists are expressing reservations on several sites calling into question the validity of the study conclusions. One anonymous fellow has suggested that Calvinistic Baptists i.e. the Sovereign Grace churches are somehow excluded from consideration because they fail to self identify as Calvinist or Reformed. I don't know if that is true or not. I do know what I don't know, that I don't know many "Sovereign Grace" Calvinists for what that is worth. As I noted in the earlier post there seems to be a lot of activity on the internet among the Neo-Reformed as Scot McKnight refers to them. However, in the several years I have been interacting with Calvinists and their rather unique dogma, there has not been a great deal of evidence that they exist in substantially growing numbers in the towns and churches where the "real church" is understood by "real people". I don't believe a growing resurgence can be defined by fishing in your own backyard for fish you have stocked yourself regardless of how big you make your backyard pond to be. At some point the resurgent pastor has to step out the front door and into the bustle of the real world else his resurgence becomes likened to a bubble. Flat numbers, as represented by the Barna study, are the pin prick that burst bubbles. That is not to state that nothing good is coming out of the various Reformed churches that are in existence. I am sure their memberships are edified and hopefully Christ continues to be exalted. On the other hand, the Young, Restless Reformed phenomenon might just be another buzz in the bushes.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Can God now, in his own right, require faith from fallen man in Christ, which he cannot have of himself But does God bestow on all and every one, to whom the Gospel is preached, sufficient grace by which they may believe, if they will?
Can God require that man to believe in Jesus Christ, for whom He has determined by an absolute decree that Christ should not die, and to whom by the same decree He has determined to refuse the grace necessary for believing?
ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION
The parts of this question are not opposed to each other; on the contrary, they are at the most perfect agreement. So that the latter clause may be considered the rendering of a reason, why God may require from fallen man faith in Christ, which he cannot have of himself. For God may require this, since he has determined to bestow on man sufficient grace by which he may believe. Perhaps, therefore, the question may be thus corrected: "Can God, now, in his own right, demand from fallen man faith in Christ, which he cannot have of himself, though God neither bestows on him, nor is ready to bestow, sufficient grace by which he may believe" This question will be answered by a direct negative. God cannot by any right demand from fallen man faith in Christ, which he cannot have of himself, except God has either bestowed, or is ready to bestow, sufficient grace by which he may believe if he will. Nor do I perceive what is false in that reply, or to what heresy it has affinity. It has no alliance with the Pelagian heresy: for Pelagius maintained, that with the exception of the preaching of the Gospel, no internal grace is required to produce faith in the minds of men. But what is of more consequence, this reply is not opposed to St. Augustine's doctrine of Predestination; "yet this doctrine of his, we do not account it necessary to establish," as Innocent, the Roman Pontiff, has observed.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
You are really messed up bad and there is no difference between you a dead corpse four feet in the ground or at least in a concrete vault above ground if you are dead in New Orleans. But ... you aren't so dead that you are as dead as you could really be. Now if you were that dead, you would be deader than dead
You could wake up saved and never know it. Well, never know it in that you went to sleep knowing you'd wake up saved, I mean.
Jesus only died for you and your buds. Everybody else? Well, tough luck. They just didn't make the list God made up, like, 450 years ago.
God doesn't let you say no and if you say no, He doesn't pay any attention to you anyway.
Well, this is easy. Like waking up saved, you can do anything and all is really good. Actually, God expects you to keep on sinning so don't sweat the little stuff. Now, if you go off and kill somebody, you can always say David did too and everybody knows about how good his heart was.