Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Virginia McCully Ortiz Huff : 1946 - 2005

"Huff, Virginia McCully Ortiz, Saginaw, Michigan. Passed away Friday, April 22, 2005 at home. Age 59 years. The daughter of the late Nathan and Gladys McCully, Virginia was born February 19, 1946 in Saginaw. She was married to Pablo Ortiz in April of 1966 and he preceded her in death in 2003. Virginia had been employed by West Side Decorating of Saginaw as a Professional Design Consultant, and had also been employed by Camille's Costume Shop in Bay City. She was an active member of Saginaw Valley Community Church where she also served as an usher. Surviving are a daughter, Cynthia Ortiz of Saginaw; a son, Richard Ortiz and his wife, Maria, of Tucson, Arizona; a very special granddaughter, Ciara Reed Ortiz; and three sisters, Kathleen Mertz and her husband, Lauren of Saginaw; Doris Hicks and her husband, Fenimore of Roscoe, Ill.; and Norma Kracko of Clio; and several nieces and nephews also survive. Funeral service will take place 11:30 a.m. Monday at Saginaw Valley Community Church, 3660 Hermansau Drive. Pastor Richard Sayad will officiate. Friends may call at the Cederberg & Brietzke Funeral Home, 403 N. Michigan Ave. on Saturday from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. Visitation continues at the church on Monday from 10:30 a.m. until time of service. Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider memorials to the Family Discretionary Fund or to Saginaw Valley Community Church Memorial Fund."

(Published in the Saginaw News on MLive.com from 4/23/2005 - 4/24/2005.)

Ginny was one of my 1st cousins. The last time I saw her was a over a year and few months ago at her momma's funeral. I remember her as a goofy, fun loving kid. She always had a smile, and was full of ginger. When I was still a lad, it was Ginny that told me about peanut butter. You know.... How do you get peanut butter off the roof of your mouth? You don't remember that one? Boy I do, and it it was Ginny that told me about it. I never forgot, but when I reminded her about it the last time I saw her, she denied all memory. I didn't find out about her death until after the funeral, so I missed it. I'm going to miss her too...


~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, April 21, 2005

“The Already” And the “Not Yet”: Implications for Evangelical Theology

A Review of The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective by Russell D. Moore (Crossway Books, 2004)

Over the last 60 years Evangelical theology has not been static. Russell D.Moore's The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective traces the development of a growing Evangelical consensus regarding the "already" and "not yet" perspective of the Kingdom of God as reflected in both the modified covenant theology of Hoekema's The Bible and The Future and Blaising and Bock's Progressive Dispensationalism. This book is not for the faint hearted. The extended footnotes and bibliography take up over one third of its three hundred and twenty pages.

Moore starts with a valuable historical picture of development of the Kingdom aspect of Evangelical theology since the end of World War II, beginning with the concerns of Carl F.Henry and George Ladd. He discusses how the differing views of the Kingdom held by traditional Dispensationalism on the one hand, and traditional Covenantal theology on the other, contributed to an Evangelical lethargy regarding cultural engagement specifically in the political arena. This is set in the historical context of the Fundamentalist reaction to a liberal theology that had replaced the Gospel with a truncated “social gospel” that effectively denied individual redemption.

As theologians from both sides of Evangelicalism began to wrestle with the meaning of the “already” and the “not yet” perspective of the Kingdom, over time a consensus began to emerge regarding the Kingdom. Moore discusses how positive aspects from both sides of the Evangelical debate over the Kingdom came to be embraced in a consensus regarding the nature and cosmic scope of the Kingdom in its inaugural form in the New Covenant as well as its consummation in the New Heavens and the New Earth. The result is that though both sides may and do still debate details, both Progressive Dispensationalism as found in the writings of Blaising, Bock, and Saucy, and modified Covenant theology represented by Hoekema, Gaffin, Poythress and others, agree on a foundational structure and the cosmic scope of the Kingdom of God.

I might add that there is little discussion in this book of Post-millennialism. There are historical as well as theological reasons for that. Nineteenth century Post-millennialism was as much a product of the influence of the modern age’s optimism as was the optimism in the liberal churches embrace of the “social gospel”. Nor is it clear that current Post-millennialism by its own presuppositions is able to grapple in a Biblically meaningful way with an “already” and “not yet” perspective of the Kingdom.

Some may question how wide an impact Progressive Dispensationalism has had on the people in the pew, and see that as a problem for the propositions Moore articulates. The same question may be asked of the just as recent modified Covenant Theology. It is not clear that the average person in the pew of the church adhering to Covenant theology understands that theology any better then the person in the pew of a Dispensational oriented church, (Progressive or traditional), understands that Dispensationalism.

Whatever the case, Moore establishes the point that a theological consensus on the Kingdom provides a foundation for the integration of an organic view of theology as a whole. Modern Enlightenment thinking fed the tendency to categorize theology proper into separate components that were rarely or only superficially related to one another. The recognizing of the organic connection between the categories of theology proper is a welcome development.

This holistic integration of the different areas of theology is seen as Moore traces the impact of the Evangelical consensus regarding the Kingdom on the issues of eschatology, soteriology, and ecclesiology; three areas that have long been bones of contention between traditional Covenant and Dispensational theologians. Moore sets forth how the consensus on the Kingdom has by organic connection led to a basic consensus in these three areas.

Though Moore focuses on how this consensus provides a unified foundation for thoughtful Evangelical political involvement, his discussion also gives a starting place for an Evangelical response to Post-modernism, the communitarianism of the Emergent church, and the Open Theism challenge. That starting place is in the cosmic scope of redemption provided by the “already” and “the not yet”: a cosmic scope that does not negate individual salvation, but on the contrary gives individual salvation a fuller and richer meaning in light of all that Jesus as Messiah King will accomplish.

In the last chapter of The Kingdom of Christ, Moore discusses how at the point of an emerging consensus on the Kingdom, Evangelicalism is being divided by Open Theism on the one hand, and the communitarian focus of the Emergent church on the other; both of which Moore sees as a move away from the clear implications of the “already” and “not yet” Kingdom view. The central focus of the Kingdom view is Jesus reigning as Messiah King, both now in the inauguration, and fully and completely in the future consummation of the Kingdom. Open Theism by definition cannot be consistent with that focus. Communitarianism clouds that focus with an emphasis that makes the church as community central to what the church is.

I am surprised The Kingdom of Christ has not received more attention then it seems to have at this point. It is one of those books that, as I read it, I could not help but sense I was reading something of real monumental importance. Time will tell if such is really the case, but it is a book that I encourage every Evangelical Pastor and theological student to read.

~ The Billy Goat ~
Copywrite © April 20, 2005

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Exegetical Expository Preaching
Excerpts from an article at Mark Dever's IX Marks Ministries.

"God's Word has something to say about what we preach and how we preach it. What you'll find on the following pages is a brief Biblical rationale for the primacy of expositional preaching in the local church. But that's not all. You'll also find some practical resources to encourage and facilitate the continuing development and increasing fruitfulness of your own expositional ministry...

The content of expositional preaching is the true word of God. An exposition of Scripture simply seeks to uncover, explain, and apply the divinely intended meaning of the text...

The goali of expositional preaching is for the people of God to hear and heed the Word of God. In this sense,expositional preachers are modern day prophets, serving merely as conduits through which the Word of God may flow into the people of God in order to do the work of God in them...

Expositional preaching is the only kind of preaching that, by definition, ensures that the agenda of the sermon is determined by the agenda of the text.

Therefore, a long-term commitment to expositional preaching is the most helpful way for a preacher to discipline himself to remain faithful to God’s Word over a lifetime of ministry...

Preaching is prophetic because it conveys God's Word to God's people. Exposition best handles the prophetic nature of preaching because the expositional sermon is unique for taking the point of the passage as the point of the message. It is therefore the best way to remain faithful to the content and intent of God's Word in any given text....

God's Word is the conduit of God's power that accomplishes God's purpose. The power is not in the preacher himself, his stories, his illustrations, or his technique. The power is in God's Word - the message preached.

This means that if the Christian preacher is to preach with real Spiritual power, he must discern what God has said in His Word, and then be faithful to say it. In other words, the point of the text should be the point of the sermon...

Benefits for the Congregation

The congregation is released from slavery to the preacher's hobbyhorse texts and topics..." (For complete article click here.)

My wife and I are very thankful for the exegetical expository based ministry we have the privilage of sitting under at our current church. Being under such a ministry has caused us to realize how far our former church had wandered from the discipline of exegetical expository preaching. The above article does an excellent job of setting forth the Biblical basis for and the benefits of expository preaching. I highly recommend you read the full article.

Sola Scriptura!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Pontificating Mainstream Media Megalomania: In case you missed it, there is a new Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI. For an article that explores the then Cardinal Ratzinger's perspective as it relates to other Christian traditions, read this Christianity Today article.

I have to confess a cynical amusement over the past week or so since the passing of John Paul II, in reading and listening to the pompous pontification of the mainstream media megalomaniacs as they condescendingly sought to instruct the Roman Catholic church on what the next Pope should be like and what he should do; ordain women as priests, embrace this radical agenda, or that... blah... blah... blah..., all to become "relevent" and to attract to the church those who (fill in the blank).

Now I'm not a Roman Catholic, and I have real concerns regarding some of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic church. But I knew there was no way the Roman Catholic church was going to embrace a Pope who would kowtow to the liberal agenda these self-appointed pontificators were seeking to instruct us on. Their ignorance of the Catholic church was simply astounding. They flat out did not know at all what they were talking about, nor did the "Progressive Catholics" who regurgitated the expectations of these media blatherheads.

By the way, a Pope who would embrace that agenda would not only have been disastrous to the Roman Catholic church, but to Christianity as a whole, including Evangelicalism. Like it or not, the Pope is perceived by a secular world as a major leader in Christianity. You don't have to like that, but you better recognize the reality of it.

But also think about what made John Paul II so respected even among Protestant Evangelicals who disagreed with him theologically. In a fractured Post-modern culture and society, the former Pope maintained in a very public way a witness to the existence of an eternal truth and ethos that does not change; a perspective that cuts across the vein of post-modern relativism and fragmentation.

That witness brings up the issue the pontificating mainstream media did not understand. The church, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, or (fill in the blank) does not exist to implement a "social gospel" based on some vague ill-defined notions of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind, blowing about with every changing wind of a secular liberal agenda that would make the church nothing more then a social country club tottering on the brink of irrelevancy and uselessness.

The Christian church does exist to bear witness to the Kingdom of God as in Jesus Christ, that Kingdom has been inaugurated, but not yet consummated. The Christian church stands as an outpost of that Kingdom, an outpost that is to bear witness to the Kingdom rule of the Messiah King, Jesus Christ. The church is not another institution to be manipulated in service to a secular agenda, liberal or conservative.

It's that message the mainstream media has missed in its coverage of the passing of John Paul II and today's election of Benedict XVI. We need to pray for the mainstream media blatherheads. They are pathetic human beings even as we are. Their humanity, found in their broken reflection of God's image, calls for our prayers on their behalf.

As for myself, this Evangelical Baptist intends to pray for this new Bishop of Rome. His common humanity with me is also reason enough to do so.

Jesus reigns!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Elfstone's LA report: My daughter Elfstone finally got around to publishing a report on her Spring break trip to LA. This was a group ministries trip through her school, Cornerstone University. Here are a few excerpts. For the full report click the link above. ~ The Billy Goat ~

"On Sunday morning we went down to Skid Row in downtown LA. There are people everywhere there, on the streets, tent, tarps, boxes, and people lying and sitting everywhere. Sometimes you could not tell the difference between a bag of garbage or a homeless person. Many of them were pushing shopping carts down the street with all their earthly belongings in it. Others carried bags of stuff on their backs...

After that we went to Central City Church of the Nazarene. It was an amazingly new experience for me as the church consisted mainly of African-Americans with an African-American preacher. Though it was quite different from I was used too, I enjoyed it immensely, and found my heart lifted up in praise to God. The sad thing about it is that this church which is right in Skid Row is the only church available to the people there...

... we went on this prayer tour which was rather an amazing experience. We went all over the city, and stopped at different places to pray. The one thing that stands the most in my mind about that night was the shocking difference between the poverty and the wealth of LA. Right there in downtown, you have the tall skyscrapers of wealthy businesses and only a few miles away is Skid Row. It’s really quite thought-provoking that you can have two extremes of social status in one place...

...we went to a retirement home, which was one of the saddest places I have ever seen. The people there are not very well taken care of, and they are allowed to smoke as well. We played Bingo with some of them, and handed out prizes which they loved. There was a guy there named Charles, who was very intelligent and had a beautiful smile for all who came in. He sat in a chair with his little radio on a table by the window. Charles is the kind of person who could make you laugh, even when you’re feeling down. Another guy that captured my heart was Jamie. I was sitting next to him as he played Bingo, and though we didn’t talk too much, there was something so sad, and so appealing about him. He was like a helpless child, trapped in a wheel chair. And he was so thin, and small. He was rather quiet spoken too. I kept want to put my arms around him and love him with all my heart.

...Tonight while most of the team went back to Central City Church for their weekly karaoke night, four of us helped a family from the church move into a new home. The family consisted of a single mom and her son and little girl. They lived in this beat up old hotel place right near Skid Row. It was a place where all kinds of street people, prostitutes etc. resided. They lived in this tiny two-room place. It was unbelievable to be a part of this experience. The difference between where they lived and where they moved was like night and day. And the joy the little girl had was the thing that stuck with me the most. That she will be able to grow up in a safe, spacious place with room to grow without fear. It was a humbling thing to be able to see that."

Saturday, April 02, 2005

One Protestant Evangelical's Reflection on the Death of Pope John Paul II

He died this afternoon, (EST). My prayer had been that if he was to die, it would not be lingering. Yes, I, an essentially conservative Evangelical, prayed for the Catholic Bishop of Rome in his last hours. What would Christ have done?

Do I believe John Paul II was "saved"? It actually does not matter what I think about that question. My opinion is irrelevant exactly because it is that, an opinion. And your opinion on that question is as equally irrelevant, so don't waste my time with it. The only opinion that really counts is God's.

Let me say at the onset that as an Evangelical, I disavow those statements in the Reformed confessions that identify the Papacy as "the anti-christ". It may be that over the course of history there have been those Popes who were of the spirit of "anti-christ", but that does not mean all Popes have been, or that John Paul II necessarily was of that spirit by the mere fact of being Pope. Over the years I've known a few Protestant "pastors" who manifested an "anti-christ" spirit too.

If God through Jesus Christ can save me in spite of myself, He's quite capable of saving a Bishop of Rome in spite of himself. After all is salvation of grace or not?

Whatever else you think of John Paul II, his impact on modern history is an objective historical fact that only the dullest and most ignorant would deny. In my mind there are two areas he should rightly be remembered for.

The first is his role in the fall of the evil empire of godless Communism.

The second is his witness for the basic Christian view of a culture of life in the face of the increasing inroads of the culture of death. From maintaining opposition to abortion and euthanasia, to the calling of Terri Schaivo's death the wrongful execution of an innocent that it was, this Bishop of Rome bore witness to the sanctity and dignity of all human life.

By the way, did you know that when what a Pope says is in accord with Scripture, that Pope speaks truth? Doesn't Sola Scriptura demand we recognize that?

John Paul II was a fellow human being created in the image of God. As such his life had the same basic worth and dignity of all lives. He has now gone the way of all flesh. God All-Mighty is John Paul II's ultimate judge, not you or me. My heart goes out to my Catholic friends and acquaintances at this time. I grieve with you. Maybe not to the same degree you do, but I do grieve at the passing of a fellow human being.


~ The Billy Goat ~

PS: If this post offends your "Reformed" sensibilities, that's your "problem" not mine. Get over it and get a life...