Saturday, December 02, 2006

Evangelical Perspectives: Toward a Biblical Balance
by Ronald B. Mayers (1987)

Evangelical Perspectives fills something of a unique role in evangelical theological literature. It is not primarily a summary theological survey, though Ronald Mayers, professor of philosophy and religion at Cornerstone University, (formerly Grand Rapids Baptist College), does survey a number of basic theological issues. Nor obviously is such a relatively short volume intended to be a systematic theology such as Hodge, Strong, or Chafer have written, though Mayers' discussion of theological issues is much deeper then a cursory summary overview.

Mayers sets forth his purpose in writing Evangelical Perspectives in the first chapter titled "Necessity of Doctrinal Balance".

"It is the contention of this book that established doctrine, or orthodoxy, has usually been, and should always be, determined by the balance that the Bible indicates in the various doctrinal issues that the church must explain and elucidate to her members. This has not always been the case in American evangelicalism and fundamentalism..."

In the following three chapters, Mayers illustrates the concept of Biblical doctrinal balance by review of three fundamental issues the early church had to wrestle with in coming to grips with basic Biblical orthodox Christian belief.

The first issue was the definition of reality. Mayers lays out how the early church proclaimed a God who is reality, and in His reality totally independent. On the other hand, creation was also proclaimed as a reality, but a reality that is separate from, but totally dependent on God. This is in contrast to pantheistic thought that makes God and creation equal in a way that creation is also God, and as well refutes gnosticism which denied the reality of creation. The Christian view of reality is not either/or, but that both God and creation comprise reality.

The second issue the early church wrestled with is God as the one and the many; the trinitarian being of God as the one and the three. God as one and many defies our rational logical mind set. The early church arrived at the position where both concepts were to be held to, tensions not withstanding.

The same may be said for the issues of the deity and humanity of Christ. Is Christ fully man, or is He fully God? Biblical balance demands we affirm that He is both fully God and fully man, and that we live with the tensions that balance brings.

Having set forth the Biblical balance and tensions that mark these basic orthodox doctrines of Christian faith, Mayers takes the lessons learned and seeks to apply them to a number of theological and doctrinal issues that the Evangelical church at large has in the past wrestled and in our day continues to wrestle with. A survey of the chapter headings gives a good snapshot of those issues:

General Revelation: Both Within and Without
Special Revelation: Both Event and Word
Inspiration: Both Holy Spirit and Human Authors
Testaments: Both Continuity and Discontinuity
Salvation: Both Provision and Response
Holy Spirit: Both Holiness and Eternal Security
Church: Both Proclamation and Charity
Last Things: Both Already and Not Yet

There is much that could be said about the issues under discussion in each of these chapters that would take up way to much space and time in this review. I found Mayers' discussion on these topics to be challenging and mind stretching. Be ready to have some of your theological bubbles popped, and some of your dogmatic assumptions challenged. There is enough in these chapters to annoy and irritate those on both sides of the issues discussed, but that is precisely where the real value of this book is to be found, and that is why I recommend this book to Pastors, theology students, and others with an interest in Evangelical theology.

For some time I have had a suspicion that much of traditional Evangelical and Reformed systematic theology was influenced by rationalistic Enlightenment methodology much more then we perhaps want to admit. As a result, in some areas of Evangelicalism the mystery and tension has been stripped from the faith, leaving a sterile dogmatic "orthodoxy" that far to often claims to have "all the answers". Evangelical Perspectives presents an approach to theology that allows us to be rational, but in a way that preserves Biblical tension and mystery; an approach that also calls for the exercise of the Christian virtue of humility.

Soli Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

BIBLIA THEOLOGICA: Evangelical but Not a Cultural Evangelical

"Yes, I am an evangelical without shame, but I am not a "cultural evangelical." Cultural evangelicals are individuals whose evangelicalism is culturally oriented and linked, much like that of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, on one end of the spectrum, or much like that of Jim Wallis and Randall Balmer, on the other end of the spectrum. Both Fundamentalism and Liberalism are culturally originated and linked worldviews. For both, their worldiews too uncritically merge Christian beliefs and cultural mores into a unitary whole that is more American than Christian... "

Good stuff here. What is at stake is the meaning of "Evangelical" and the question of what really is the Gospel in contrast to cultural accrurtments that get in the Gospel's way...

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, November 03, 2006

From the Pew: If Iron Sharpens Iron, Then Why Is The Reformed Drawer So Full of Dull, Rusty Knives?

A good question.... My own observation is that insistence on so called "doctrinal percison" is by nature a seperatist movement sowing the seeds of it's own fragmentation. The favorite thological argument is the ad hominimn one.

Shalom, ~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hither to has the Lord Helped Us...

It is approaching a fifth anniversary of sorts. Five years ago on the first Sunday in November, 2001, a Communion Sunday. I reached a breaking point. That breaking point led to a decision which to some may have seemed abrupt and sudden, but was actually the culmination of a process that had been going on for at least five years before if not even earlier.

The decision made was to have significant impact on my wife and daughters, especially the younger daughter that was still at home. At the time my wife and younger daughter were really tore up by that decision, but it was hardly a year latter they both were thanking me, and thanking God for directing the course of action I had taken at that time.

I know there were those who did not understand that decision, who questioned the wisdom of it and even thought it folly. What they didn't realize is that I no longer respected their "wisdom" or judgment in matters of that nature. Over the previous years they had forfeited my respect. They had become like the Emperor who had no clothes. There comes a point where conscience can no longer be held hostage to friendship.

There are situations where bad things happen that are of such a nature that their badness overshadows and taints any good things that happened. You know intellectually and rationally there were some good things there, but just as ink put into a clear glass of water colors the whole glass, so the bad things color any good that may have been there.

We had been in that church for a little over 25 years. That's a lot of time and emotional investment. Sadly, our only regret about leaving is that we did not leave much earlier. We don't miss the abusive language from the pulpit and the arm twisting tactics and manipulation of the business meetings. We don't miss the shoddy and mediocre preaching, or the inept counseling. Those emperors proved to us they had no clothes. On that November Communion Sunday five years ago, I realized I could no longer as a matter of conscience take communion in that church. All the rationalizations I had used for the better part of a year to justify doing so fell broken to the ground.

After our leaving, there were those who had left years earlier who I, as opportunity was given, asked for forgiveness for any part I had in their mistreating at the time they had left. They graciously gave me that forgiveness and now my conscience is clear towards them.

We have gone on with our lives. We came to WCBC as refugees and found a home. As we watched the congregational life of WCBC, we found ourselves in place where we were no longer constantly swimming against the tide. We have been free to grow in our understanding of God and His Word unhindered by the scholastic chains of a so called "Puritanism" that presumed way to much and whose understanding was a distortion that sucked the vitality out of any vibrant Biblical Theology.

God has been VERY good to us. He has more then abundantly vindicated the rightness of that decision made those five years ago. To Him alone be the glory, honor, and praise!!!

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Anomaly of the Lone Ranger Local Church

A local Orthodox Evangelical Christian church dose not exist in isolation from other Orthodox Evangelical Christian churches any more then individual Christians exist in isolation without reference to other Christians. There is no place in the New Testament that gives an example of such a church.

Now it is possible a local church may exist in a remote area, and under primitive conditions that hinder that local church from having vital contact with other churches. But for a healthy church that isolation is not something deliberately chosen as matter of policy or church culture.

The universal ("catholic" small "c") church is a body. Nothing happens in one area of the universal Christian church that does not in some way, large or small, impact other parts of the universal body.

The New Testament picture of relationships between local Christian Churches is one of sharing mutual concerns and mutual accountability. We may argue if that accountability is ecclesiastical or only moral, but that there is mutual accountability can not be escaped.

By the way, did I mention it's very possible for a denomination or association, or movement to have a "Lone Ranger" mentality also? Over the years I've seen that mentality both in local churches, and in groups and movements at large.

The Law of Love demands that one part of the Body of Christ not hold itself aloof from the other parts of the Body of Christ. For example, when was the last time we as regular Baptists, or Reformed whatever's, or Wesleyan Methodists, or "Non-Denominationl" Evangelicals prayed for our Evangelical Episcopal brethren caught up in the Civil War that is ripping apart the North American Anglican community?

We can not totally isolate ourselves from issues in other denominations or associations or movements. What happens in the Southern Baptist Convention, or the General Baptist Association, or the GARBC, or the various Presbyterian and Reformed Synods is happening to the Body of Christ. As such we are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice.

Do you have a vision for the whole Body of Christ, or are you so focused on your particular part that you can not see the forest for the trees? Does your vision of that Body include all whom Christ has included? Why not? What are the demands of the Law of Love?


~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, September 09, 2006

An Uneasy Association

From a recent Christianity Today article Two Degrees of Separation we read:
The General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC) voted in June to sever ties with Cedarville University. GARBC said the school's "public relationship with Southern Baptists was not considered to be in harmony with the GARBC purpose statement.

Earlier this year, the Council of Eighteen, the GARBC governing body, adopted a statement on why the association should separate from the Ohio school. At the 2006 annual conference in June, GARBC messengers ratified the statement 311 to 283. They concluded that "Southern Baptists are inclusivists and permit the presence and ministry of liberals within the convention."

When you do the math, the percentages run 52% for, and 48% against this resolution. By any reasonable calculation it can not at all be said there was any great degree of unanimity in the GARBC regarding its relationship with Cedarville. On the contrary, there is a clear division. The GARBC itself is an uneasy association.

"John Greening, GARBC national representative, said during the June conference that Cedarville's relationship with the SBC would change the association's boundaries. The GARBC has 1,359 churches in the United States, Canada, and overseas. Greening declined to speak to CT, saying the decision was a "family matter."

John Greening's use of the term "family matter" underlines the nature of the issue that faces the GARBC. Is or is not the GARBC a part of a much wider family, the Evangelical family, the family of God encompassing all who love and embrace fundamental orthodox Christian truth? If so, it is to that broader Evangelical family that the GARBC owes, if not ecclesiastical accountability, at least a moral accountability.

David Warren, a Council of Eighteen member and Cedarville trustee, said council members disagreed on the issue of second-degree separation. "The other side—the side I took—was that Cedarville was not associating with or assisting liberals in the convention," Warren told CT. "Rather, they were helping conservatives."

Craig Miller, senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville, said the decision will make his and other local churches' affiliation with the GARBC problematic. "It is difficult for us to maintain membership in an organization that has broken its ties with the alma mater and employer of half the congregation," Miller said. "The issues discussed [during the conference] sounded ludicrous. Second-degree separation isn't biblically warranted."

"Second-degree separation isn't biblically warranted." The operating term here is "Biblically". It is not an issue of what the GARBC has or has not done historically in the past. The issue is faithfulness to what the Bible says about separation, and not making the principle of separation any more or any less then what the Bible itself makes it.

The local church I go to happens to be associated with the GARBC. For myself, my church's association with the GARBC is an incidental, though not unimportant, matter.

It remains to be seen what the long range impact of this decision will be on the GARBC itself as well as the state associations and individual congregations. Whatever the case, at this time the GARBC is an uneasy association.

Sola Gloria Deo!

~ The Billy Goat ~ Ecclesiology

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Little Taste of Heaven

" The nations of the world, including America, continue to struggle with political and social strife over who should be allowed to live within their borders. But the church should never be divided over who is allowed through its doors. In fact I believe that God is presently giving an unprecedented opportunity to churches around the United States and Canada to become living illustrations of what heaven looks like.

I also believe that many, if not most, of the petty disagreements that cause division in churches around the nation would become completely irrelevant if our pews were filled with Africans, Asians, Europeans, Central and South Americans, as well as North Americans. Can you imagine having a serious discussion over which instruments to use in worship Jesus Christ before people that have never seen an organ?

As this issue goes to press, there are over 400 distinct people groups living in the United States. This means that at any given time, there are scores of opportunities for believers to touch these peoples of the earth with the faith, hope, love, and family relationship that only exists in the body of Christ. They are out there in our neighborhoods, lonely, uncertain, needing a friend, and wanting to belong in their newly adopted nation. Some have come to escape difficult circumstances, and some to improve their lifestyle; but is the earthly reason they came really that important to the family of God?"

Michael Loftis, President of ABWE, "ABWE Messenger", Vol. 54, No. 2, Summer 2006 (Used with permission.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

So Ya Wanna Get Married

This year a number of young people we know have taken the big step of getting married. No wonder I'm feeling so old! What follows is an edited form of several posts I published on Xanga with the purpose of giving to those young people some advice based on the 34 years my wife and I have been together.

Yes, my dear wife has put up with me for 34 years. If we were Catholic, that would qualify her for sainthood. She really is a saint and also happens to be my best friend apart from Jesus Himself.

In the course of those 34 years together, we have found that there is a treasure that married couples accumulate. It is the treasure of the intimacy of shared experience of a life time together, a shared experience that goes far beyond the physical union, a shared experience that becomes more and more valuable as the years go on. That is another reason why the breakup of a marriage is a sad and tragic thing.

When a couple marries, they make a choice to love one another to the exclusion of all others. But that is just the start. For a marriage to last requires a continual choosing to love one another exclusively, a choosing that needs to be made every day, yes, even every hour and minute. It is in that continuous choosing that the treasure of intimate shared experience is accumulated.

I know that a few of you who will read this have gone through the pain and heartache of a failed marriage, that of your parents, or even your own. In Christ is the hope of the ultimate gain of your crushed expectations. The relation of Christ and His church is compared to marriage. There is an intimacy of shared experience you can have with Him, yes, that in the ultimate consummation you will fully have with Him. An intimacy that will more then make up any loss we've had in this poor, fallen, yet to be fully redeemed world.

At that time 34 years ago, when my wife and I got married, we included in the ceremony words in the form of vows that included the words, "... in sickness and in health.." and "..for richer or poorer..". Such words are usually included in most of the weddings we've witnessed over the years, and I think many couples, including ourselves, say those words without really comprehending their full meaning.

The words in that part of the vow have to do with expectations of "normalcy" most couple come to the altar with. You expect to have children. What happens when for whatever reason you are not able to? You expect the spouse to maintain some semblance of normal health. What happen when one or the other is disabled in a car accident or by a stroke? You expect that as a family you will have at least some semblance of an adequate income. What happens when the working spouse is bouncing from one job to another mostly through no fault of their own, or maybe in some cases because it is their fault? Or unexpected medical bills or legal bills or whatever bills devastates family finances?

There are also the unrealistic expectations that couples come into marriage with. One of the break throughs in my relationship with my wife came at a time of crisis when we both realized we were looking for things in each other that the other could not be or give, in fact the only one who could give to us individually those kind of things we were looking for from each other, was Christ alone; ultimate acceptance, basic worth and dignity, full understanding. In short we learned to allow each other to be human, redeemed yet not yet fully sanctified humans. The pressure was off. We were free to love one another as Christ Himself loves us.

Let's face it! A lot of our romantic expectations have been molded by the subtle pseudo-romantic view of our decadent media sotted culture. Even the most sheltered are not immune from it. It is when expectations are dashed upon the rocks of the reality of life that we face the choice; the same choice we made on that wedding day, to love that other one exclusively, to continue together to collect the treasure of the experience of a shared intimacy of life. In our own case, it was the hard times that in the end, when all was said and done, made that treasure all the more valuable.

It is my prayer for all of you who are married or may be approaching marriage that by God's grace and with His help, you will endure for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, choosing moment by moment to love that one you made or will make that promise to, and to love him or her exclusively no matter what providence may befall you in this yet to be fully redeemed world, that you will accumulate that valuable treasure, and never despise it.

What does this ultimately call us to?

"The main characteristic of love is unselfishness. Love thinks of the loved one before it thinks of self. The interests of the beloved are paramount."

Donald G. Barnhouse, Exposition of Romans, Vol. I

Several times over the years I've been asked to do the Scripture reading at a wedding. Usually the passage to be read has already been picked out, but one time I was allowed to pick the passage myself. The passage I choose to read from on that occasion was Philippians 2: 1-13.

Now Philippians 2 is not usually the kind of Scripture passage most people would choose to have read at their wedding. However, I submit that this passage above all passages hits at the crux of the foundational issues of the marriage relationship. The love of Christ was manifested by His denying Himself, giving up the glories and prerogatives of Heaven, and taking on flesh as a man to the point of death on the cross. His is the ultimate servant example of loving unselfishness.

As Barnhouse has commented, unselfishness is a mark and expression of love. For my purpose I want to focus on love in marriage, and unselfishness as the expression of that love.

I learned how wickedly selfish I was in the first year of our marriage. The past 34 plus years have been a lesson in the school of learning self denial. And though I do better then I did, I still have to work on it, and will need to keep working on it for the rest of my life.

It is my observation that the guy is the one who usually has the most problem with selfishness in the marriage relationship. The gal can struggle in that area to, but because we are from Mars, men tend to struggle with it more.

Now put this in the context of the wedding day and the marriage vows that are being spoken to one another. Those vows are vows to practice self-denial for the sake of the other. It is a promise to put the other above oneself.

Yes, guys, you are to put your wife above yourself. Headship and leadership is to be demonstrated by unselfishness toward the wife. Any other kind of headship or leadership is what Jesus called "Lording it over" as the pagans and secular unbelievers do. It's at this point, sad to say, some Christian husbands blow it. They use terms like "godly assertiveness" or "Biblical headship" to exert a leadership that is anything but servant or Biblical or truly godly. (Such leadership is also often marked by an un-Biblical low view of women in general.)

The bottom line is that as you approach your wedding day, you need to count the cost. You will no longer be the center of the Universe. You never were in the first place. In case you missed it the order goes like this: God - others - self. Day in and day out, hour by hour and minute by minute you will be called on to deny yourself in way up to this point you've not had to. It will take much grace and patience. It will call for the giving of much grace, patience, and forgiveness to the other. God can and will help you. Don't ever forget His part in your marriage relationship. Staying close to Him will go along way towards your being able to stay close to one another as a married couple.

May your marriage be a success, and may you and your spouse or spouse to be gather much treasure in the years God gives you together.


~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lady in the Water -
Searching for Meaning and Hope

A few weeks ago my daughter and I along with one of her friends saw "Lady In The Water". Personally I was really moved by it. M. Night Shyamalan (Signs, Sixth Sense, The Village) was the director, and in my mind did a credible story telling job despite what some of the critics are saying about it.

Now I admit that technically "Lady In the Water" was somewhat weak. It was not Shyamalan's best work, and "The Village" still represents Shyamalan at his best as a movie maker. However, whatever its weaknesses, the story that is told in "Lady In The Water" makes the movie worth seeing.

I have read the Christianity Today review of "The Lady In the Water" and I believe the reviewer missed the point. The story is not about the myth that was being deciphered as much as it was about those involved in the deciphering. The myth provided the working framework for the real story.

Once again we have a picture of broken and disillusioned people seeking for a reason to once again have hope and purpose... To sense a connectedness to life and to what is going on in the world so that they might once again have a sense of purpose. Remember Mel Gibson as the disillusioned Priest in "Signs"? There is that same kind of thing in "Lady In The Water".

It is in such stories as "Lady In The Water that Shyamalan illustrates for us how the false hopes of rational modernity are shattered on the rocks of reality to be replaced by the cynicism and disillusionment of Post-Modernity. Things come into the world, be they ghosts or aliens or creatures of mythology that defy the rational materialism of Modernity, and in doing so the disconnected are once again able to find the connectedness they had lost.

Yes, that world view tends to be a vague form of New Age pantheism, but the reality behind it is the connectedness we once had in Creation before the fall, the sense of purpose and belonging and of fitting into a Story much bigger and expansive then what we see around us. That connectedness and belonging was first lost in the Fall which is Chapter 2 of the Story..

It is in Chapter 3 of the Story, the Chapter titled Redemption, where there is the beginning of the restoration of connectedness and belonging which brings with it restored hope and purpose. Consummations is yet to come in Chapter 4 where connectedness and purpose are fully realized.

Shyamalan gives us pictures of the void that is in the heart of mankind due to sin and the fall. Many false gods vie to fill that void. Their promise is a lie and a fraud. That void can only be filled by the One who originally created us; who became one with us in His incarnation and filled the great chasm with His own death, rising again from the dead, and one day coming back to restore full connectedness, belonging, and purpose...

Come quickly Lord Jesus!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Somewhat Random Thoughts on Legalism

Legalism is a sign of spiritual immaturity and stunted or unbalanced growth in the Christian life.

As we grow in understanding of Biblical principles we seek to bring our lives in line with those Biblical principles. Often we do that by establishing rules or fences in our own mind as to what our individual response will be to that principle. I may decide to avoid certain behavior, or limit certain activities to certain occasions, places, or etc. The particular behavior in and of itself is not immoral, but I avoid it because it brings me close to immoral behavior that I want to avoid.

The problem comes when we make our fences and personal rules, or cultural norms and expectations, the sine qua non of the Biblical principle we are trying to guard in our life. At that point if your fence and rules don't line up with my fence and rules, you are obviously in violation of the Biblical principle, and thus living in "sin", and of course it is my duty to inform you of the same and call you to "repentance". At that point I've become a legalist.

Corporately, a church that is marked by legalism is also an immature church, and marked by stunted or out of balance Christian growth. Such churches also become a dangerous place. In Scriptures the only thing legalism produced was Pharisaical hypocrisy. So it is also in the history of the church since New Testament times.

The saddest thing about legalism is how so often the legalist doesn't recognize his or her legalisim, and would indignantly deny the charge. Of course, any one that doesn't subscribe to their legalisim must obviously be an "antinomian". Ad homminum argumentation is often a sign of a legalist.

The legalist has lost sight of the grace of God either in initial salvation or in on-going sanctification, or both. He may give lip service to the grace of God, but his practice of legalism denies the grace of God. Such a person becomes a Christian with a split personality, mouthing the theology intellectually, but denying the theology in practice.

Another mark of legalism is the focus on externals. For example, a legalist may tell you so and so is not converted. You ask him or her why he or she is saying that, and what they give as evidence is externals that often have nothing to do with real godliness. You may point out to the legalist how the person in question exhibits the fruit of the Spirit as set forth in Galatians. It goes right over their head...

Worst of all is when the legalist considers him or herself to be the "mature" Christian in relation to everyone else... When that happens to a Pastor, the results are disastrous to Pastor and congregation. That I have sadly seen with my own eyes.

The cure for legalism is to focus on Christ and His grace. We stand in Him and His work alone not only for salvation, but also sanctification. The legalist is not viewing sin as being as sinful as it really is. If he or she did, they would despair and abandon all hope in themselves and find that true Sabbath that remains for the people of God in our Lord Jesus Christ and in Him alone.

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Focus of Christian Ministry

"...I am convinced that the ministry which seeks to exalt mankind can, in the end, do no good for mankind. On the contrary, the ministry which will reach the truths of man's complete ruin in sin and God's perfect remedy in Christ can best reach the heart of the need of the human race and can bring the only remedy that can heal the heart which God has declared to be humanly incurable (Jer. 17:9).

(Donald G. Barnhouse, Exposition of Romans Vol. I, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (June 1952))

I recently received the four volume set of Barnhouse's Exposition of Romans as a combined Father's day/Birthday present. CBD had a really good offer on this set that was hard to beat or resist. I'm just getting into volume one, and am finding Barnhouse's exposition a very rich treasure of devotional reading.

If you allow Barnhouse's Dispensationalism to keep you away from his Exposition of Romans, it is your loss, and you do yourself a great dis-service. Barnhouse was familiar with a wide number of commentaries on Romans including those from the Reformed and Puritan writers. This work has been a standard for a number of years, and now I see why. I highly recommend it.

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, June 09, 2006

On Finding an Evangelical Hermeneutics: An Exploratory Essay

Every once in a while I come across a book or article, and as I am reading that book or article, I get a sense that what I am reading is of real fundamental and profound importance to the Evangelical church at large. Of course only time will tell if my sense and assessment of said book or article is accurate.

Back at the beginning of the 1990's, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary celebrated it's first 100 years of existence. Upon that occasion, a number of Evangelical scholars presented lectures marking the event. Speakers included John R. W. Stott, Eugene Peterson, Gordon D, Fee, and others. In 1992, those lectures were collected and published in essay form by Gordon-Conwell as a collection titled, The Vision Continues: Essays marking the Centennial of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

The essay that caught my attention was the one by Gordon D. Fee titled Heremeneutics Today: A Prescriptive View. Fee himself suggests the title of his essay might better be called "On Finding an Evangelical Hermeneutics: An Exploratory Essay". Unfortunately this essay does not appear to be available on the WWW, and copyright considerations hinder me from publishing it in its entirety on my site.

In the essay Fee talks about the tension that exists in understanding the Scripture as God's Word coming through human writers. That tension is then illustrated by comparison with interpretive assumptions of the fundamentalist camp on one side, and the liberal camp on the other. The best summary I can give of Fee's discussion is found in Fee's own words in the final paragraph of the essay.

" To conclude: To insist that the very nature of Scripture as the evangelical understands it has locked in a degree of ambiguity, accommodation and diversity, causes some people to capitulate in despair, either toward the certainties of fundamentalism or the ambiguities of liberalism. I, for one, opt for what I call "the radical middle". If God gave us His Word this way, and I believe He did, then our task is to hold on to both realities -- its eternality and historical particularity -- with equal vigor. If we cannot always have absolute certainty as to meaning or application, we can certainly move toward a higher degree of common understanding. As I see it, the way toward that higher level of commonality is still to be found at the crucial point of authorial intentionality which by its very nature we would insist is thereby also the Holy Spirit's intentionality. If God did not speak timeless aphorisms, He did speak an eternal Word. That Word had specific intent in its historically particular moments. The task of exegete and theologian alike is to discover, or if you will, hear that Word in terms of God's original intent. I would argue that it is that same Word, with its same intent, that should now address us in our historical setting. Instead of seeing this as a debility, we should see it as the greater glory of Scripture and praise God for it. That He would so speak to their historically particular context is precisely what gives us hope that He will always through that same Word speak again and again to ours and to all of humankind's individual historical contexts."

Hopefully someday this article can be republished in its entirety. Such publication would be a real contribution to the Evangelical discussion of hermeneutical issues.

Sola Scriptura!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Life After Neo-Puritanism

In recent articles, John Armstrong has commented on his journey in Biblical understanding. The first article can be found here, and the second article in the series is here. Here is a quote from the second article.
"I previously described (May 1 ACT 3 Weekly) how I have slowly moved away from my separatist and sectarian neo-Puritanism over the last twenty years. My movement has not been without profound struggles. Most of these struggles have not been within me, for there I have thrived and grown as I leaned into an assurance of faith that is still deeply rooted in Christ alone. No, my struggles have been with misunderstanding and misrepresentation in the minds of confused people who have heard all kinds of stories about me and my beliefs..."

My first acquaintance with John Armstrong goes back to his "Neo-Puritan" phase. At that time I was involved in a "Neo-Puritan" church and movement. John had come into contact with the pastor of that church, and there had been some correspondence and so forth. I may be a little foggy on some of the facts, but I have it in my head that John came to visit our church, and our pastor had visited his church in Wheaton.

It seemed like only a few years latter news came that John Armstrong had "left the fold". Like many others who did not cross all the "t"'s and dot all the "i"s of that "Neo-Puritan" church and the "Neo-Puritan" movement it was a part of, John Armstrong became "persona non grata". If his name was spoken at all, it was in that tone of voice that reminded you that the only thing worse then the devil himself is an "apostate". OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the tone of voice was un-mistakable.

It took me another 20 years to realize John Armstrong, along with many others, was right in his evaluation of the "Neo-Puritan" movement, at least the part of it I had been associated with. I too have found out there is life after "Neo-Puritanism".

Neo-Puritanism by definition is scholastic. The danger of a scholastic emphasis is that the scholasticism tends to get in the way of the Word of God. You have people who can quote the Puritan writers from memory, but you wonder if they give equal time to the Scriptures. Puritan confessional standards tend to be quoted in a way that sets them on an equal par with Scripture.

The original Puritan movement was far from perfect, and there was a lot more diversity in the spectrum of that movement then some of our Neo-Puritan friends acknowledge. The New England Puritan movement in particular was not able to keep itself from descending into Unitarianism and a splintered sectarianism.

I'm am NOT saying we can not learn things from the Puritans. I am saying they did not have all the answers as some in the Neo-Puritan movement would have us think. The Puritan writers were not above the Bible, and there is a whole lot the Christian Church has learned in the last 400 years since their time. Yes friends, there is life after "Neo-Puritanism".

Semper Reformanda!

~ The Billy Goat ~

PS: Another related article I wrote a while back can be found here.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The other day I pounded out a blog post for this space and at the very end went spastic and I lost it all..... The title of that post was:

What is it We are Afraid of?

Maybe some other day when I have the time, energy, and the burning in the belly...

I think I ended it with, "Perfect love casts out fear..."

... and it does....


~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Observations on the PCA
by John Armstrong

"...The last thing the PCA needs to fear right now is real liberalism. The real danger in the PCA is sectarianism, a sectarianism which threatens to destroy this great fellowship before it begins to reach its fullest missional potential, which I think is still great. This fellowship is not even thirty-five years old ye, but the separatist DNA of its origins may yet slow its dynamic growth significantly in the next few decades if this constant commitment to controversy dosen't stop somewhere. I believe this with all my heart and I think history supports me in this observation. A sustained polemic will never build a great church! It will only produce more and more schism. At some point wiser heads must prevail and this family squabbling needs to stop. I pray for courageous leaders who seek this and who will stand up and say, "Enough!" "

Please click on the link above an read the whole article before responding. I'm not in a position to confirm or deny Armstrong's observations of the Presbyterian Church in America. I can say the description above does describe some other groups, Reformed and otherwise, I'm more familiar with, and the above issue is not limited to just the PCA.

The bottom line: When will we as Christians love and respect one another enough to give each other room for legitimate differences?

I'll close with one other related observation. The Westminster Confession itself yields it's right to settle controversies to the Bible alone. The issue is not if certain viewpoints are consistent with the WCF or not. The issue is are those viewpoints consistent with Scripture alone. If the PCA settles any of its controversies on any other basis, it will have betrayed its heritage of Sola Scriptura, and denied the very confession it says it is upholding.

Semper Reformanda!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Of This and That

"To lose faith and hope is tragic.

I'm not just talking about the loss of Christian hope and faith either... There are those that lose hope and faith in anything at all. No hope period. No faith period.... Totally disillusioned..

Welcome to the nilhism of existential Post-modernity; courtesy of the cultural disillusionment whose genesis came out of four long years in the trenches of France between the years of 1914 - 1918..."

The above is from one of my recent Xanga posts. It's genesis came out of some brief interaction with another younger Xanga member who was raised in a somewhat Evangelical background. Clink on the link above for the full post.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah (English Standard Version)

The Gospel prophet... Underlining the references to "that day".... Noting the amount of space taken up by God's description of His being as God. If you're going to have a god, why would you want a god who was anything less then this God? The proto-apocalyptic chapters are intriguing.

New Testament Reading: Revelation (Greek/English Interlinear New Testament)

7 Churches, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls or vials... Notice the use of the word "gan" which is translated "earth" in contrast to the absence of the word "kosmos". The physical earth is clearly in focus... The seals, trumpets, and bowls are consecutive, and not recapitulation of one another.

In Revelation 8:1-5 I find great encouragement regarding prayer. The "prayers of all the saints" I take to refer to the saints of all ages and times. At the consummation of all things those prayers will receive their full answer, in this case specifically, the prayers for justice to be done.

A few years ago I found myself being grabbed by the nape of the neck and dragged kicking, screaming, and protesting back to a basic premillinial view of Revelation. Increasingly more and more I am finding my self dis-enchanted with the amillinial approach to this book of the Bible. In the amill approach, there is in my mind a basic hermeneutical weakness that simply does not do justice to what Revelation says about itself. Nor does that approach do justice to the book of Revelation as revelation from God without which the canon of Scripture would be incomplete.

On a final note: The spring flowers are just about ready to bloom... DST starts tonight.. I really don't like losing an hour... Oh well.....

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, March 25, 2006

So Transitory It Is...

Erv passed away about a month ago.

"Passed away" is the softer euphemism we use to say somebody died. He was a young guy relatively speaking, in his early forties with kids in high school. Cancer took him down just as it's taken many others down...

He worked in our office, a logistics planner or "supply chain specialist" if you insist on the latest and greatest cutting edge verberage. We respected his professional work, and he was a valued member of the "team". But now he's gone.

Of course someone had to take up the logistics work he had been doing. Different parts of what he had done got passed around to others. So it was this past week I spent some time going into the system and updating the Planner ID's on a number of items. To make it go quicker, you do an "Ctrl + C" on the Planner number that is replacing the other. Then as your going through the items to be changed it's only a matter of clicking into the Planner ID field and doing a "Ctrl + V" to paste in the new ID number.

So it was I came across a number of items Erv had handled when he was still with us. "Ctrl + V", the new number would be pasted in over the old and then save the change and on to the next item.... What was "Erv" was now "Bill"....

I slowly realized a felt degree of morbidity.. I was erasing "Erv"... It was like there was a picture of Erv on the black board and I was taking a eraser and slowly wiping out that picture, in this case the system's memory of Erv... It was actually depressing.

Yes I know life has to go on... And the demands of business do not wait very long for the dead... Such is life in fallen world that is yet to be fully redeemed...

I thought of myself.... I could die before retirement... Or even when, Lord willing I do retire, I'll be leaving the company... Some one will come along and "Ctrl + V"... "Bill" will be erased and another name will take its place in that data field. A few short years and "Bill" will be totally erased... Such is the transitory nature of fame and existence "under the sun".

It is at this point that secular existential Post-modernism has no answer except disillusionment, despair, hopelessness, and meaninglessness. That philosopy has no eschatalogical hope to give any useful meaning to anything we do or are.

As a Christian, I have that hope. Even though "Bill" will be replaced by another name in that data field, and in a few short years the system will have no trace of "Bill" in its data banks, my life and work is not meaningless.

This world may forget "Erv" and "Bill". God does not... This world is passing away. A New World order is coming. King Jesus will come into the fullness of His kingdom. There are many things that are transitory in this world... But there are many things much more important in the light of that eternity...

Come quickly Lord Jesus!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, March 16, 2006

God's Answer To A "Dorky" Prayer:

God has been VERY good to me. And certainly not because I deserve it at all.

It started at the first of the year when there was a situation at work, the kind where your rational part says, "No big deal, this will work out.", while at the same time your irrational side is saying, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" In the midst of that frustration I said, "Lord, I really need a change...."

Of course the situation was resolved per the rational side, and I thought, "Bill, It was kind of dumb to be so frustrated by that. You need to just suck it up..." With that I thought no more about it...

Until about a month latter, when my boss and I were having our scheduled one on one. He told me there was an area in the department that was in a "world 'o hurt" due to some people leaving for other jobs. The long and the short of it was I am now working in that other part of the department, and for me, the change has been fantastic. The pressures and deadlines are still there, but there is also a lot less tyranny of the urgent.

I look back at that prayer born out of the frustration of the moment, and have to say in spite of how dorky it was, God choose to give a very clear answer... Thank You Lord! Praise be to You alone.

On another note: In the past I had thought of getting a Xanga account just to be able to respond to posts on Xanga sites. I resisted doing that because I really didn't like how Zanga operated.

But... Last week I did it.... Yes, I now have a Xanga page. There are a number of young people that I know that have Xanga pages. I saw a need for being able to give a word of experience and, hopefully, wisdom in response to some of the posts I have came across on their sites. It is an avenue for ministry in some small way. The ~ Billy Goat Blog ~ will remain my main blogging site.

One last note: Pastor Doug has been giving an excellent series of messages on I Corinthians 8-9 dealing with the question of Christian liberty. He is dealing with the subject in a way I do not recall ever seeing done before. The fundamental principle that comes through is the ethic of love that is at the soul of Paul's discussion in that passage.

Will close for now.. Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Three Billy Goat Gruffs

Once upon a time three billy goats lived together in a field on a hillside. They were the three Billy Goats Gruff. There was a Big Billy Goat Gruff, a Middle Billy Goat Gruff and a Little Billy Goat Gruff.

Beside the billy goats' field ran a river. One day they decided to cross it and eat the grass on the other side. But first they had to go over the bridge. Under the bridge lived a big ugly troll.

First Little Billy Goat Gruff stepped onto the bridge. TRIP TRAP went his hooves.

"Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the Troll.

"It is only I, Little Billy Goat Gruff, going across the river to make myself fat," said Little Billy Goat Gruff in such a small voice.

"Now I'm coming to gobble you up," said the Troll.

"Oh, please don't eat me, I'm so small," said Little Billy Goat Gruff. "Wait for the next billy goat. He's much bigger."

"Well, be off with you," said the Troll.

A little while later, Middle Billy Goat Gruff stepped on to the bridge. TRIP TRAP, TRIP TRAP went his hooves. "Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the Troll.

"It is only I, Middle Billy Goat Gruff, going across the river to make myself fat," said Middle Billy Goat Gruff, whose voice was not so small.

"Now I'm coming to gobble you up," said the Troll.

"Oh, no, don't eat me," said Middle Billy Goat Gruff. "Wait for the next billy goat. He's the biggest of all."

"Very well, be off with you," said the Troll.

It wasn't long before Big Billy Goat Gruff stepped onto the bridge. TRIP TRAP, TRIP TRAP, TRIP TRAP went his hooves, and the bridge groaned under his weight.

"Who's that tramping over my bridge?" roared the Troll.

"It is I, Big Billy Goat Gruff," said Big Billy Goat Gruff, who had a rough, roaring voice of his own.

"Now I'm coming to gobble you up," said the Troll, and at once he jumped onto the bridge, very mean and hungry.

But Big Billy Goat Gruff was very tough and strong. He put down his head and charged the Troll and butted him so hard he flew high into the air and then fell down and splashed into the middle of the river.

And the great ugly troll was never seen again.

Then Big Billy Goat Gruff joined Middle Billy Goat Gruff and Little Billy Goat Gruff in the field on the far side of the river. There they got so fat that they could hardly walk home again.

I was tempted to try to rewrite this "family" story in parabolic form, but have decided to let the story stand as is without comment. You are free to draw your own conclusions and make your own applications. ~ The Billy Goat ~

February 2009: Addendum from a recently discoverd manuscript fragment.

The goat stared coldly at the troll as it vaunted itself in its own pomposity astride the bridge. The cold stare reflected the steel resolve, determination and hatred the goat had towards the troll and all the troll stood for and all the evil the troll had done. The goat did not wait for the troll to advance. Head lowered, he launched into a deliberate and ferocious charge. The troll roared in anger. The goat paused not a whit, and in the force of the charge hit the troll square in the gut and with a up thrust of the head tossed the vile beast of a bully over the side of the bridge into the deep, swiftly flowing current below.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Some Thoughts on Preaching, Systematic Theology, & Biblical Theology
posted by "Paulos"

"If we teach and preach the Scriptures in the categories of the Scriptures, I find that people are much more ready to embrace and to believe things than if we teach and preach the Scriptures in the categories of systematic theology...

Much offense that many ministers attribute to the nature of the teaching actually is due to the way we teach rather than the thing we teach. If we wrap our teachings in the categories of Scripture rather than in the worn categories of systematic theology, we run the risk of having our preaching and teaching being received. I think this risk is worth taking..."

I would encourage you to click through the link above, and read all of Paulos' post on the relation of Biblical theology and systematic theology to preaching. This post articulates a number of issues and concerns I've pondered on over the years, and I give this article a hearty "AMEN!!!"

By grace alone,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Seasons: The days ARE getting longer. And we've had some really "nice" ones for this time of the year in West Michigan. Not warm, but sunny!!! Clear skies!!! Sky blue skies!!! The past few days the temperature has got up to the low to mid 30's, a heat wave after last weeks near zero wind factor...

Speaking of seasons, at work today we received word of the death of one of our colleagues who for the past several years has been battling cancer. He was a "young" guy with kids in high school. Life is short, and for some it is shorter then for others. RIP...

It is kind of paradoxical that in the grief that comes with the passing of someone you know, we are at that time of the year when you sense spring is out there somewhere, and creation is very slowly starting to stir from its winter slumber.

Spring gives us a reminder of the promise of resurrection. The thought of resurrection brings hope to the winter weary heart.

Come Lord Jesus!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Somewhat Random Politically Incorrect Thoughts:

Being a white male of Western European (WMED) descent is not a moral disease. It's part of my ontological being, not my moral being. I do not have to apologize or feel guilty about that part of my ontological being. God made me that way. Neither do you have to apologize or feel guilty if you are a black male American of African descent, or if you are of any other shade of the color spectrum and of descent from any other part of the world. That's who you are ontological. God made you that way, and He doesn't make mistakes. If you want to feel guilty about something then join me in feeling guilty about real moral failings not your ontological being.

Equality doesn't mean we have to be equally miserable.

Karl Marx is a dead white European male so why don't you deconstruct Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto?

A culture that clearly by any objective observation treats women as lower then human does not have to be given equal respect to my own culture. In my culture women do not have to go around veiled. They can drive a car and they can vote. Oh! I forgot... In your culture not even the men get to vote... Women in my culture can also engage in lawful defense of their own person when bodily threatened.. My culture may not always get everything right with regard to women, but it at least recognizes their common humanity with men as being created by God, and beings who are equally objects with men of God's redeeming work through Jesus Christ.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter; a clash of world views. You presume to dictate what is moral without any reference to your Creator. You will issue your "Papel edicts" telling us what is "moral" and what we should be sensing "guilt" about. You would presume to be the anointed lawgiver... Well, who do you think you are? God? I have news for you... Your not.... Nor were you elected to be... You are not lord of my conscience, nor do you have any right or authority to be.

While a student at major public state university in the late 1960's, I had occasion from time to time to observe the Marxist mind at work. The Marxist mentality is nothing more then another variant of that Neo-Fascism that goose-stepped across the pages of 20th century history. Hitler killed his millions, Stalin his tens of millions, and Mao his hundreds of millions. A new world order will come, but it will not be yours. It will be consummated by that One who having came the first time as a servant, will come the second time as Lord and King of all.

"Why do the heathen rage, and the peoples imagine a vain thing?..." (Psalm 2)

Jesus alone is LORD!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Multiculturalism is Cultural Marxism

Our friend Paulos has penned a series of posts on the push for "Multiculturism" as it is being advocated in our culture and society. As usual in our Post-modern mentality, the first question is, "What do you mean by multiculturalism?" Paulos has sought to set forth what its advocates mean when they use the term "multiculturalism". He finds the answer in their own writings and statements. It's not a very pretty sight, and the implications for the truths of the Gospel and the life of Christ's church are at the heart of Paulos' concern. Here is the first paragraph from his latest post. For the full article, click the link above.

"The issue at stake is not whether we should welcome diverse peoples among us and embrace them. The issue at stake is not whether but on what principles we should welcome diverse peoples among us and embrace them. No one can possibly oppose the embrace of diverse peoples and at the same time retain a credible confession of being a Christian. Likewise, to advocate any form of preferential policy for a “protected class” warrants rebuke, for such a posture is contrary to a credible Christian profession, for preferentialism is sin (James 2:9). The gospel of Jesus Christ obligates us to love and to embrace all who are Christians despite non-confessional differences, whether racial, social, or sexual. My burden, which previously I have not expressed fully or adequately, concerns the clash of orthodoxies, the conflict of visions, or worldviews in conflict. The clash of orthodoxies takes place in two realms–(1) public institutions including government, public policy, and academic; and (2) private sector institutions including the family, church, and academic."

PS: Before you start picking up stones to cast at Paulos, make sure you read the whole article and note very carefully what he does say and what he does not say. Make sure you don't put words in his mouth that are not there. That would be bearing false witness.

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

PSS - 02/15/06: Paulos has seen fit to delete the post referenced above. His reasons for doing so may be found here. See comments below for my on take on what has happened.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Limit of Finite Reason

"God, who is the pinnacle of truth, never asks us to believe anything that is irrational. There are no contradictions in the Christian faith. However, because we are dealing with a God who inhabits a transcendent level of reality; at every turn we are confronted with truth that is suprarational. No matter how carefully we study the Bible and logically piece together our theology, there will always be something left over, something we can't easily understand, when were done...

...These questions, good ones all, are signs that we are approaching the boundary between God and His creation. Because we inhabit the lower creaturely level of this dualism, there should be many such questions that we can't begin to answer. They may be entertaining brandishes, appropriately aimed at the poor fellow fielding questions from his ordination council, but in the end we have to admit that we just don't know. That's okay, for the same ontological distinction between God and creation that prevents us from knowing the answers also informs us where the answers lie and why we can't know them. The answers lie with God, and we can't know them because we're not Him."

(Heaven Is a Place on Earth, Michael E. Wittmer (Zondervan, 2004) Pgs. 48-49)

Two years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Wittmer give an abbreviated account of the thesis of this book during several adult Bible school classes at our church.

The above comments are actually a kind of side bar to Wittmer's main point; that is our confusing the ontological nature of created things with the ethical use of those created things, and the full cosmic nature of Christ's redemptive work. Are you letting a Neo-Platonic world view color your view and understanding of God , His Word, and the Christian life? In your theological constructions are you inadvertently worshipping at the baal of your own reason?

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~
Eric's Story: I watched this young man grow up. He's about the same age as my younger daughter. We've known his family since before he was born. He recently posted his testimony on his Xanga site. I would encourage you to read it and be encouraged by the story of the Soverign grace of God in this young man's life.

By Grace Alone,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Sermon on the Mount:
Absolute Ideal & Absolute Grace

"...Jesus did not proclaim the Sermon on the Mount so that we would, Tolstoy-like, furrow our brows in despair over our failure to achieve perfection. He gave it to impart to us God's Ideal toward which we should never stop striving, but also to show that none of us will ever reach that Ideal. The Sermon on the Mount forces us to recognize the great distance between God and us, and any attempt to reduce that distance by somehow moderating its demands misses the point altogether.

The worst tragedy would be to turn the Sermon on the Mount into another form of legalism; it should rather put an end to all legalism. Legalism like the Pharissees' will always fail, not because it is to strict but because it is not strict enough. Thunderously, inarguably, the Sermon on the Mount proves that before God we all stand on level ground: murderers and temper-throwers, adulterers and lusters, thieves and coveters. We are all desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God. Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace."

(The Jesus I Never Knew Phillip Yancey; (Zondervan,1995); page 144)

Yancey's discussion of the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most helpful I've ever read. Yancey writes in a style that is theological without being "theological". Truth is articulated in a way that the person in the pew can understand. I highly recommend this book.

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Patience in Light of the Blessed Hope

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience..."
Galatians 5:22a

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1b-2

One of the fruits of contemplating the blessed hope of Titus 2:13 is that of patience. If this world is all we will have, then why would we not want it all now? How a materialist lives is very logical if indeed this life is all we have.

But it's not. The blessed hope tells us there is more then just this brief life. There is an eternity to come, an eternity to be spent with God in a fully redeemed creation, or to be spent apart from God alone in ones own bitterness and selfishness. The hope of a redeemed resurrection body and a redeemed creation and a redeemed relationship with God through Jesus Christ and redeemed relationships with one another means we can be patient. We don't have to be in a hurry to get it all now.

Jesus is our example of being patient in light of our blessed hope. It was for the joy set before Him that He endured. The point in Hebrews is that in like manner we are to imitate Him and endure by remembering the joy set before us, ie- our blessed hope.

What does this mean?

- I can be patient with the providence of God. Whatever the momentary trial, better days are coming. Yes, this is just another more polite way of saying I can be patient with God. Remember Job?

- I can be patient in dealing with others, especially fellow Christians. Yes they are not perfect, but neither am I, but one day we both will be, so I can wait until then to see God's plan for that person perfected. This has special implication for family relationships.

- I can be more patient with myself. It's not about me and what I do or don't do. It's about what Jesus Christ has done and will do on my behalf. It's about His grace alone, and one day the desires of my heart as related in the previous post, will be fulfilled.

Praise be to God!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Blessed Hope

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." Titus 2:11-14

This mention of the blessed hope is focused on the eschatological appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, and indeed He is the center and foundation of all our hope, and His coming again is central to the full actualization of all we ultimately hope for.

It is that "all we ultimately hope for" that I've given some thought to recently. What do we ultimately hope for?

- To see Christ face to face and love Him fully and wholeheartedly without sin.

- To see His purpose in redemption completed in all it's cosmic and creational scope, that is in the resurrection of the body and the inauguration of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

- To finally wholeheartedly and unreservedly love one another without sin, and thus being able to enjoy a fullness of relationship to one another not possible in a fallen and not yet fully redeemed world.

- To have rest from the impact of the fall and the resulting curse that is upon creation and our labor in particular.

- To fully wholeheartedly glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

What else would you add?

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's Just a Game The Steelers beat the Colts! That's pretty neat in my mind. But even as I say it I am aware of how transitory such glory is. It's a game... We enjoy it... We're glad "our" team won.... But a few months from now, or a year from now, or 10 years from now the memory will have faded...

John Grisham's story Bleachers deals with that very fact of the transitory nature of glory as found in the sports world. If you ever played a high school sport, you may want to read that book. Such glory is momentary, but living takes a lifetime.

As Christians, we recognize there is more to life then the transitory glory of this world, and there is a glory to be sought that goes beyond this life...

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Lola Mattfeld - RIP

Yesterday we received word that our friend Lola Mattfeld passed away Monday night at her home in Spokane, WA. She had struggled for a number of years with cancer. We knew the Mattfelds from our days at Grace Seminary in Winona Lake, IN. She was a very dear Christian sister and a good friend to my wife. Please pray for her husband Bob, her two sons Paul and Nathen with their wives, and her grandchildren. Here is the notice as published on Lola's Caring Bridge page.

MONDAY, JANUARY 09, 2006 09:24 PM, CST

Lola passed away peacefully tonight at 8:55pm. My son, Paul and I were at her bed side when she breathed her last breath. Lola had begun feeling bad earlier on Friday. We had learned that Lola’s Platelets had fallen really low, while her white cells had spike higher. The Hospice nurse told us her MDS had turned for the worse. She had just gotten a blood transfusion about two weeks ago. By Sunday night she really began getting really tired. Monday morning she was becoming delirious. The day was very difficult for her as she struggled finding much comfort. This all happened way too quickly!

Our Pastor, Paul and I prayed with Lola this evening as she seemed to be in peaceful agreement of the Lord’s presence with her. Proverbs says, “ a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”. I give tribute to a wonderful woman who was the Lord’s treasure. I will miss her dearly.

Thank you all for your prayerful support over the many months as she went through her stem cell transplant ordeal. This has indeed been the most difficult time of our lives. Your prayers and support has made it a little easier for both of us. Her Memorial may be this coming weekend.

God Bless you all



Monday, January 09, 2006

More Odds & Ends

Bridge for Dummies by Eddie Kantar. Several ages ago, while at college, some Fraternity brothers tried to teach me Bridge. Of course I forgot most of it. This book was in my Christmas stocking, so now I understand a little better what the guy who writes the Bridge column in the newspaper is talking about. Maybe someday I'll even have time to take up the game again.

Go Longhorns!!! My wife's nephew graduated from UT in Austin. We're told he was wearing a pretty big grin on his face when Texas beat USC in the Rose Bowl.

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers get past a tough Indianapolis Colt team next week? Will a wild card team end up in the Super Bowl? Stay tuned....

Did I tell you we saw "The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe"? It was VERY well done. I recommend it.

Sola Deo Gloria,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Of This and That:
Being a List of Somewhat Random and Disjointed Comments

Not having a PC or ISP connection at home has been good for us as a family over all. But it also means that I'm not always able to blog as often as I may sometimes want to. Ideas that need careful construction have to wait. News and other blog posts I'd like to post comment on in this place get passed over. This will be a kind of random catch up post.

From My Christmas Stocking:

Greek/English Interliner New Testament: I've found this a VERY helpful study tool. Some of the Greek I learned from seminary so many years ago is starting to come back.

The Edge of Eternity by Randy Alcorn. John Bunyan wrote "Pilgrims Progress". C. S. Lewis wrote "Pilgrim's Regress". Alcorn has brought the concept into the 21st century.

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. Let's face it. The stories we learned in Sunday school class were "sanitized". What did it really mean for the eternal Son of God to live as a man in this fallen world?

Worship: Michael W. Smith: I enjoyed this. Others may not depending on their view of music and worship.

The Fourth Wiseman: Martin Sheen before he was Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. I have always enjoyed this apocryphal story; a story of one man's faith and hope.

Joshua: What would happen if Jesus visited your town? The ecumenical aspect of this story will probably be a turn off for many.

My friend Paulos recently had a post that illustrated the Proverb that "A soft answer turns away wrath." It's a worthwhile post that you may read here.

Exegetical Musings: Is the "Lord"s Day of Revelation 1:10 referring to the first day of the week (the majority view), or is it John's way of speaking of what Paul and Peter call "the Day of the LORD" (minority view)? I do not have time to develope this, only to say my own preference, based on grammatical and contextual concerns, is the minority view. By the way this is not a "make or break" text for the church's meeting on the first day of the week.

I'm at the local library and my time is about to expire.

Peace to all who love Jesus,

~ The Billy Goat ~