Sunday, December 09, 2007

Some Christmas Themes in the Old Testament


The essence of Christmas is not found in all our traditions and decorations as such. For the Christian believer the essence of Christmas is found in the words of Matthew 1:18-25

  1. Jesus: “…for He will save His people from their sins.”

  2. Immanuel: “…which means, God with us.”

God has come into human history by taking on the form of humanity. His purpose in doing so was to bring redemption to a fallen world. This did not happen all of a sudden, just out of the blue. It was anticipated early in the Story of the history of redemption.

  • 1. The seed

    • Genesis 3: 15 – The retribution of the woman’s seed…

    • Genesis 5:29 - The naming of Noah “Rest”- bringing comfort from the curse…

  • Genesis 22:18 – The promise: Abraham’s seed to be a blessing to all humanity.

  • 1 Chronicles 17:11-14 – The promise to David

  • 2. Messiah as Immanuel

    • Isaiah 7:11. The name of the virgin’s child, Immanuel – God with us.

    • Isaiah 9:4-7

      • Humanity: A child is born

      • Deity:

        1. Wonderful Counselor
        2. Mighty God
        3. Everlasting Father (Picture of the King as being a father to his people.)
        4. Prince of Peace

      • Verse 7 - This child is the one who will fulfill the promise made to David.

    God has been and is working in time and space; (history). We have not been left to ourselves. The God/Man whose name is Immanuel is indeed with His people; all who have trusted and placed their faith in Him. The Christmas story is a critical chapter in that larger Story whose final chapter is yet to be realized.

    {These notes are from a recent Adult Sunday School class I taught.
    ~ The Billy Goat ~}
  • Thursday, November 01, 2007

    Of This and That...

    In this first article Collin Hansen of Christianity Today looks at trends in the Fundantalist camp.

    The Crisis of Modern Fundamentalism Collin Hansen, 10/26/2007, Christianity Today

    Fundamentalism is still with us, though you won't hear many evangelicals talk about it. Not so with the fundamentalists, who worry about a growing number within their ranks who have wandered toward evangelicalism. A 2005 survey released on the popular fundamentalist blog SharperIron "revealed that many in the newest generation of fundamentalist leadership were still committed to fundamentalist theology but uncomfortable with some of the more extreme positions on secondary separation, association, worship music, extra-biblical standards, and other issues."

    In this next article from Touchstone Magazine, six Evangelical leaders give an assesment of the Evangelical movement. Evangelicalism Today - A Symposium: Six Evangelicals Assess Their Movement.

    Back in February, 2006, A.B. Caneday published on his BIBLIA THEOLOGICA blog an article titled, Twenty-One Theses on Paul & the Law. Recently Dr. Caneday in his own words "...did some clean-up work on the theses, revised some statements, clarified a number of things, and expanded the number to 22 theses by splitting one." So now there are Twenty-Two Theses on Paul & the Law." .

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    My Cousin Mary

    My cousin Mary is about 4 or so years older then me. Her mother, Aunt Florence, was my father's sister. This week I found out Mary's health is not very good. Here is a quote from her CaringBridge site:

    "In November of 2004 Mary was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, but after a rapid decline she was rediagnosed in May of 2006 with Lewy Body Dementia. This is a degenerative brain disorder that shares characteristics of both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Its cause is unknown, and there is no cure. Symptoms include depression, tremors, shuffling, anxiety and memory loss."

    And here is a further quote from her CaringBridge jpurnel dated Oct. 1, 2007:

    "At the present time Mary is at about a two year old level. She is seldom able to speak so that we can understand her. That is often frustrating to her because she knows what she wants but is unable to communicate it to us. Things Mary enjoys include golf car rides around the neighborhood visiting friends, going out to eat, and her favorite is going to church on Sundays and going to choir practice. She is unable to sing but still enjoys being around the music and friends. One of my saddest memories was one Sunday as we were leaving church, I noticed she had tears running down her cheeks. I asked what was wrong and she replied," I can't sing anymore". That was hard on me as well as her. The most valuable lesson that I have learned through this is how good people really are. Our family, our friends, and even people we do not know have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Our church family has been incredible. Mary is proof of the concept, "what goes around comes around" She has helped a lot of people through the years and now it is being returned. Thanks to all of you."

    What is hard about this is that I remember Mary as being healthy and energetic. I remember how we use to go to their home when they lived out in the country, and some of the games we played, and stories we acted out. I remember when we went to Mary and Bob's wedding so many years ago. I look at the photo's on the CaringBridge site and am shocked at the change in her appearance. The other thing is, in the face of the Mary I see in those photo's, I see a great resemblence to my Aunt Florence, who though gone for a number of years, I still miss...

    Time is marching on. We get to a point in life where we eventually have to come face to face with our mortality, and the fact our years are rapidly growing shorter... I personally thank God for the hope we have in our Lord Jesuis Christ...

    Come quickly Lord Jesus.....

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Will the “Real” Jesus Please Stand Up

    A little over a hundred years ago, the old liberal theologians were faced with a question. Since they did not believe in the intervention of the supernatural into the natural world, they had essentially discounted those parts of the Gospel records that narrated such supernatural intervention. If the Jesus who was portrayed in the Gospels was not a Jesus limited to the time and space boundaries of the presuppositions of secular history, then how do you account for a Jesus who, in the theological liberal mind, was the “real” Jesus, the “historical Jesus”?

    “In this idiom, the “historical Jesus” is a technical phrase, designating a hypothetical Jesus who could be interpreted exclusively in human, ordinary historical categories. The Gospel portrait of Jesus is that of a divine man; the “historical Jesus” could not be divine, for history has no room for the category of deity. The “historical Jesus” is a hypotheses reconstructed from the Gospels by the use of the historical-critical method on the basis of naturalistic presuppositions. Such a Jesus must by definition be altogether and only human—a Jesus without transcendence.” (George E. Ladd,A Theology of the New Testament, (1974), p. 178)

    Ladd goes on to document the failure of the “historical Jesus” movement. The ethical prophet, the apocalyptic Jesus, the existential Jesus, all were insufficient.

    “An “historical Jesus” has not been found who stands the test of scholarship... ” (Ibid, p.178)

    In other words an “historical Jesus” who could account for the rise of the Christian faith and the Gospel accounts was not to be found. An “historical Jesus” who in Ladd’s words “was big enough to account for the rise of the Christian faith and the Gospel portrait” could not be found. It is at this point Ladd quotes Kähler:

    “Whoever tries to account for the beginnings of Christianity by some purely historical, nontranscendental event, runs up against the difficulty that there seems to be no such event of sufficient magnitude or of a kind such as to fulfill the need.” (Ibid, p.179)

    Some thirty plus years after Ladd’s observations on the issue, his observations and conclusions are still relevant. One of the trends I’ve noticed lately on the internet is atheistic denials that Jesus was even an historical person at all. They like to cite the lack of any secular historical evidence contemporary with the Gospel account as proof. It’s at this point Christians need to be careful how they respond. There are legitimate questions about what Josephus actually said about Jesus. That textual issue needs to be studied and carefully analyzed before it is waved in the atheist’s face.

    But, let’s say, just for the sake of argument, there are no secular historical references that are contemporary with the Gospel account. Our atheist friend still faces the burden of giving an adequate and sufficient rational for the rise of Christianity and the existence of the Gospel accounts. All attempts to find an” historical Jesus”; all the different enumerations of a secular “form criticism” of the Gospels; all are inadequate.

    “The Jesus who lived in history is the geschichtlich, biblical Christ who is portrayed in the Gospels. Kähler believed in the principle of causality; he insisted that only the Christ pictured in the Gospels, in whom dwelt the supernatural (ùbergeschtlich) is big enough to account for the rise of the Christian faith.” (Ibid)

    The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15:1-28 clearly ties the veracity of the Christian faith to the historical redemptive events of the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. These are events the Apostle affirms as having taken place in time and space, and as events involving supernatural intervention into the natural order of time and space.

    What we may tend to over look is that, in this passage, Paul is affirming the veracity of the Gospel accounts of Jesus life, and also affirming the Gospel accounts sufficiency as a portrait of the life of Jesus. All we need to know about Jesus’ life and ministry is there. Yes, it is helpful to understand the historical setting and culture of the New Testament times, but that is a far different thing then to say we need some other glasses to see the “real” or “historical Jesus” other then the glasses the Gospels themselves provide. All other glasses, rabbinic, secular, or whatever will always be insufficient. Kähler’s conclusions still stand. Only that Jesus Christ presented in the Gospels can account for the rise of Christianity, and for the Gospels themselves.

    Solo Deo Gloria!

    ~ The Billy Goat ~

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Eleanor Marie Welling

    September 19, 1915 - August 9, 2007

    "Eleanor M. Welling, age 91, formerly of Waldron, Michigan passed away, Thursday, August 9, 2007, at Vista Grande Villa in Jackson, Michigan. She was born September 19, 1915, in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania to Paul and Alberta (Roach) Kline. She married Arlow Welling on December 22, 1940, in Bridgeville, PA and he preceded her in death on January 26, 1994.

    Eleanor taught school in Frontier, Waldron and Morenci Schools and graduated from South Fayette High School in Bridgeville, PA and from Hillsdale College in 1936. She was a member of Waldron Church of Christ, Waldron Literary Club, life member of Order of Eastern Stars and spent many hours with her hobby in genealogy.

    Surviving Eleanor is one step-daughter, Joan (Wendell) Mason of Traverse, City, Michigan; three step-grandchildren, Pamela (James) Wood of Randolph, New Jersey, Thomas (Georgia) Mason of Lexington, South Carolina and James (Pamela) Mason of Dewitt, Michigan; eight step-great grandchildren and five step-great great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and husband.

    Funeral services for Eleanor Welling will be Sunday, August 12, 2007, at 2:00 p.m. at the Waldron Church of Christ with Rev. John Ater officiating. Visitation will be Saturday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Eagle Funeral Home in Hudson.

    Those planning an expression of sympathy may make memorial contributions to the Waldron Church of Christ or Waldron Public Library." (Eagle Funeral Home)

    I was in 10th grade at Waldron HS, and we were in Biology class. The regular teacher was out for the day, and Mrs. Welling was the substitute. Then the news came over the school PA system. President John Kennedy had been shot while riding in a motorcade through Dallas, TX... Then the news came that he was dead..... Mrs. Welling had tears in her eyes.... She knew better then any of us young whippersnappers the meaning and impact of that historical event....


    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    The Church between Modernity and Post-modernity.

    I was recently asked what I saw as the challenges to the Evangelical church in the Post-modern age. As I contemplated that question, I came across an article by Dr. Russell Moore at the Carl F. Henry Institute ( ) where he picks up on and expands on a discussion from his book “The Kingdom of Christ” in regard to the challenges to the emerging Evangelical consensus regarding the "already" and the "not yet" aspects of the Kingdom of God. Moore identifies those challenges as the issue of open theism, and Emergent church emphasis on community defining kingdom.

    This article, "The Neo-Fundamentalism of the Evangelical Left: Post-Conservative Evangelical Proposals as Reversal of Evangelical Doctrinal Development" expands on those concerns, and in reading through and meditating on the things Dr. Moore is concerned with, it struck me that these two issues come from two world perspectives. My thesis is that the open theism view comes from a modern rationalistic world view, and community defining Kingdom comes from a Post-modern world view. In these two issues the Evangelical church is besieged from both sides.

    Open theism comes as a rationalistic attempt to deal with the tension and mystery of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. In this rationalistic attempt, open theism has denied the real sovereignty of God. The tension is gone. The mystery dissipated. What I object to in this kind of rationalistic resolution of tension and mystery is that I can not hold this view without doing exegetical gymnastics that keep me from fully embracing the full meaning of those Scripture passages that clearly assert God’s sovereignty in all things. It is the tension and mystery between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility that allows me to let Scripture passages on sovereignty and responsibility to mean what they fully mean without engaging in exegetical gymnastics that defrocks either of those passages of their full intended meaning. This kind of attempt to rationalize tension and mystery has been the Achilles heel of Evangelical theological constructions coming from unrecognized modernistic rationalistic epistemological presumptions.

    The issue of community defining Kingdom is much foggier and difficult to get a hold of precisely because it comes out of a Post-modern mind set where definition is, by Post-modern definition, “foggy”.

    It is at this point the emergent church use of the word “community” becomes suspect. “Community” to be meaningful as a word, demands an objective content set in an objective context. At this point I am relying on Dr. Moore’s assessment of how the word has been, and is being used in the emergent church context. The community concept is indeed part of what the Kingdom is, and it is an aspect of the Kingdom that was not well understood or developed in the Evangelical world at large during the modern era. However, contrary to some emergent thought, community is not all that the Kingdom is. It is the Kingdom that defines the content and context of the community, not some concept of “community” that defines the Kingdom.

    My point is that in a post-modern world, meaning and definition is meaningless and undefined. Yes, that is a contradiction, but it is basic post-modern existential epistemology and we are going to see that vagueness of meaning and definitions enter Evangelical theology and discussion.

    On the one hand we have to resist the modern mindset that wants to rationalize everything and in so doing, erase the tension and mystery we find in Biblical theology. We resist that view of reason that says all questions can be answered. We also assert that rational apprehension of God’s truth is not enough to save, but there has to be with that apprehension the experiential (existential) encounter and communion with the God which that rational apprehension points us to.

    On the other hand we resist that post-modern epistemology that makes meaning meaningless and definition undefined. Words have some objective meaning and definition. If that were not so, we could not communicate at all with one another and God communicating to man through His revelation of event and Word would be just as impossible. We resist the Neo-Orthodox view that the only “truth” is our existential encounter with a “God Word”. In reading the Bible we are not listening for the Word of God, we are listening to the Word of God; an objective Word given by God in time and space.

    So what is a Post-modern Evangelical? Simply, it is one who is living in a post-modern age. Biblical Christian Evangelical epistemology calls me to embrace both objective (rational) reality outside of myself, and the existential experience of being able through that objective reality to know and commune with the Sovereign God of all creation as my Lord and Savior.

    ~ The Billy Goat ~

    Friday, June 08, 2007

    Growing up with Forrest Gump :
    The Conception and Birthing of Post-Modernity

    The seeds of post-modernity were sown in the blood soaked earth of the no man’s land and trenches of France as well as on the beach of Gallipoli and untold number of other places wrenched and torn by that bloody conflict that raged from 1914 to 1918; that “Great War” as it was called, the war to end all wars. Those four bloody years of violence shredded the optimism of the rationality of the modern age.

    Optimism and hope took it on the chin again with the economic collapse of the Great Depression. The gods of the materialism of the Roaring Twenties failed to deliver on the promise of ever growing prosperity.

    If the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, it was the rain of bombs and terror, atrocity and betrayal waged by fascist and republican alike in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) that watered those seeds and young shoots of post-modernity emerging out of the cultural earth of the 20th century.

    And between the wars and amidst the savagery of the Spanish Civil War that foreshadowed that second massive war, the art and music and writing of Western culture began to reflect the emerging pessimism that was to become the mark as well as the impetus for the growth of post-modernity in that culture. Impressionism and abstract began to dominate the art gallery. Hemingway and Faulkner and Steinbeck and others voiced their disillusionment in writing and the beginnings of anti-hero began to emerge. Dissonance and abstract form came into our symphonic music, and in the theater Samuel Beckett was “Waiting for Godet”.

    Where was God in all this? He was there, and He was not silent.

    The conservative Evangelical church came through the fundamentalist/modernist controversies of the 1920’s and 1930’s in a state of disarray and retrenchment, especially among those who found themselves outside of the mainline denominational structures they had been part of. There was generally within much of Fundamentalism a pessimism regarding the prevailing secular materialistic culture, and the future in particular. This pessimism cut across all eschatological perspectives, and was not peculiar to just dispensational pre-millennialism.

    In all of this, the Evangelical Christian worldwide mission movement continued to gather steam. In some denominations the liberal/ fundamentalist fight had come to a head in battles over control of the denominational mission boards. The Evangelical response was creation of the independent mission boards, responsible to supporting local churches, but outside of denominational structure.

    In Western culture at large, further impetus to the growth of post-modernity came in the betrayal that rent the fabric of the socialist movement when Comrade Stalin made his pact with Herr Hitler, carving up Poland and plunging the world into war once again. How could the man who was the hero and epitome of socialism make a pact of truce with an arch fascist enemy? With dismay and disillusionment, there were those who began to despair of their idols of modern rationalistic ideology.

    That Second War bred its own versions of savagery and atrocity; the blitzkerg, the concentration camps and the gas chambers, the fire bombings and the carnage all resulting from the failure of the “isims”, the failure of the ideologies of the modern age. So blood was spilled on the beaches of Africa and Europe, and the lonely unknown islands of the Pacific. And to end it all was unleashed the mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb that made us realize for the first time in history that our reason and rationality brought before us the possibility and potential for us to destroy ourselves. Along with the bomb came the intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver those bombs. Here in the United States our oceans no longer provided the protection that had insulated us from the ravages of 20th century warfare. Such was the legacy the modern age had left us.

    So in the 1950’s and early 60’s we grew up in the shadow of the very real possibility of nuclear warfare. As children, the Red specter of the East haunted the outskirts of our otherwise safe and peaceful childhood. Our parents had just fought a long bloody war against a Nazi Germany and an Imperialistic Japan. We saw the black and white images of that war played across the grainy screens of a new modern wonder we called a television. But the Red menace of atomic warfare and mutually assured destruction hung in the background and left a certain uncertainty in our minds, a shade of fear that could not be ignored.

    The Berlin crises came. A wall was built in that city. The Cuba missile crises came, and we held our breath. A silly old man, a leader of that Red monolith was at the UN pounding on the desk with his shoe as he threatened to bury us,. Such was the personification we had of that threat. So in that vague fear we went through the 1950's and early 1960's. It would be another 30 some years before that Red specter collapsed under the weight of its own inconsistencies and illusions.

    Where was God in all this? He was there, and He was not silent.

    In the Evangelical community, some such as George E. Ladd, Carl F. Henry, Francis Schaeffer, and others poked their heads out of the fundamentalist foxholes and began the process of engaging the culture around them; and this just as major cultural shifts that were beginning to break upon Western society at large. Evangelicalism split between this Neo-evangelicalism and the more die hard fundamentalists. Men like Billy Graham, and Bill Bright started ministries that sought to reach across traditional denominational boundaries, engendering more controversy by their methodology.

    The war: In the mid to late 1960’s it was increasingly in the news. It increasingly became a part of our conversation. More and more it came to loom in the back of our minds; another dark cloud off on the horizon that keep drawing nearer and dominating the horizon of our thoughts; that war going on in a small Southeast Asian nation called Vietnam. We didn't understand it. Why didn't we just go in and clean up on those guys and get it over with? We thought of it in terms of the conventional kind of war fought by our fathers’ generation only a very short time before. We thought we were right being there, but people were getting killed over there, and there were anti war protests. How could this be? It was very bewildering.

    Early my junior year of college the draft was changed to a lottery system. If your birthday was drawn with the short number you could kiss your college days goodbye, and plan on forwarding your mail to Vietnam. On our dorm floor we all put a bit of money in the kitty. The guy ending up with the lowest number would take it all.

    I don’t remember his name. He was one of the boys from Flint. A group of those Flint boys had kind of ended up living in the same dorm floor. This guy had just gone through a hassle with his local draft board regarding his student deferment. He had just had that deferment restored. We gathered together to watch the drawing as it was broadcast on TV. When that first lottery drawing was over, he had the lowest number of any of us. He got the kitty. I can still picture his dropping shoulders, the dejected look of dismay on his face. My own number was one of the highest of those on the floor. He’d be going. I’d be staying. What could I say to him?

    I sat with one of my friends on a low hill along the main street running along side of the campus. The marchers went by; led by the acting University President who has just given a speech declaring his opposition to the War. They marched by carrying their banners and signs. How many of them I know not, but clearly a number in the thousands. It was the high point of the protest movement, the apex of the radicalism of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the “Age of Aquarius” with its false hopes and empty dreams.

    The budding flower of post-modernity began to show itself in the music we sang. Woody Guthrie and a host of others warned that “The Times they are a Changing.” Were we on “The Eve of Destruction” or the “Dawn of Correction”? “You read your Emily Dickinson and I my Robert Frost. We mark our place with bookmarkers and measure what is lost.” in our “Dangling Conversation” and “our superficial sighs”, “Richard Cory” put a bullet through his head. Were the answers “Blowing in the Wind?” But why did it seem we were running “Against the Wind”? Or is it that all we are is “Dust in the Wind”? “Are you Going to San Francisco?” then put some flowers in your hair, but “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?” And Don McLean told us about “The Day the Music Died”. Where were “Abraham, Martin, and John”? We listened to “The Sounds of Silence” as “the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls and tenement halls...”

    Long held moral principles were left in the dust of so called “free love”. Drugs, mostly illegal, were supposed to take us to new levels of consciousness. Eastern pantheism flooded in to fill the void left by the betrayals of rationalistic modernism. Paganism, for so long mostly dormant, again raised it’s head in Western culture.

    President John Kennedy died on the streets of Dallas. His brother Robert was also gunned down, and in the steamy Mississippi River town of Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King Jr. took a fatal bullet, and several guys I knew came back from ‘Nam in body bags.

    Where was God in all this? He was there, and He was not silent.

    “..A patient Alchemist! --He bides His time,
    Broods while the south winds breathe, the
    North winds blow,
    And weary self, at enmity with self,
    Works out its own destruction, bitter slow,
    Our gallant highways petered out in mire,
    Our airy castles crumbled into dust,
    Leaving us stripped of all save fierce desire,
    He comes, with feet deliberate and slow,
    Who counts a contrite heart His sacrifice.
    (No other bidders rise to stake their claims,
    He only on our ruins sets a price.)
    And stooping very low engraves with care
    His name, indelible, upon our dust;
    And from the ashes of our self-despair
    Kindles a flame of hope and humble trust…”
    (Patricia St. John)

    God was there, and He was not silent. Whatever one may think about some of the methodology or even theology of all that was happening in the Evangelical world, the Evangelical church was proclaiming and continued to proclaim, “God is there, and He is not silent.”

    It was at this time that in its hesitancy towards cultural involvement, the Evangelical church in the United States missed an opportunity in working for basic justice in the area of civil rights, especially the civil rights of Americans of African descent. Sad to say, in some parts of the Evangelical world there was even out right hostility towards that civil rights movement. So it was that an opportunity to demonstrate how the gospel breaks down racial barriers was lost.

    In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s there was a spiritual awakening among the disillusioned young people burned out on drugs and the sexual revolution with it’s false promises of free love. This was the Jesus movement. It did not just impact disillusioned radical hippies, it also reached down into existing Evangelical churches where young people in their youth groups and gatherings began to take the Christianity of their parents, and make it their own.

    Some of those who came into the Jesus movement brought their more liberal politics with them. Broader Evangelicalism was increasingly put in the place of having to deal with the place of Christians in culture and politics.

    Evangelical activism was finally galvanized by the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs. Wade which legalized abortion. It was in this atmosphere the Moral Majority was brought into being. Evangelicals began participating in politics, starting pro-life organizations, and developing crisis pregnancy counseling centers to reach out to and assist women who were dealing with unplanned pregnancies. This ministry was to also latter expand to minister to women who were dealing with the aftermath of having had an abortion.

    In all of this, both in missions and home ministries there was a growing recognition of the need to minister to the whole person. Another development happening in missions was the realization of the necessity and importance of getting the local national churches to the point of self-sufficiency, and not letting Western culture be the definition of what it means to be Christian.

    The church was never told it would win the cultural wars before Christ comes again. It was and is however called to be a witness to all fallen cultures, including modern and postmodern cultures. In asserting that God is there, and He is not silent, the church is counter-cultural. The fundamental assertion, “God is there.” directly challenges a secular materialistic modernism that effectively denied His existence or relevance. The assertion, “He is not silent.” challenges the emerging secular post-modern epistemology that effectively denies objective reality of any kind.

    In the emerging post-modern popular culture, we had been told not to trust anyone over thirty. Those who told us that turned thirty and became stockbrokers. There was a return of optimism during the Reagan years, but sadly materialism remained the false idol in Western culture at large, and the dry rot continued. With the fall of the Berlin wall, we finally saw the last death gasps of the age of ideology that with its secular modern assumptions had plagued the 20th century with wars and rumors of wars.

    It was also at this time it was recognized the Western world had left the modern age behind, and the seeds sown back in the bloodshed of WW-I now were bearing full fruit in the realization of the post-modern age that was now in full force upon us; a new world order. The events of 9/11 and its aftermath reminded us that in this fallen and yet to be fully redeemed world, there will always be enemies, uncertainty, and the need for the Evangelical church to continue to bear witness that, “He is there, and He is not silent."
    ~ The Billy Goat ~
    © 2007, All rights reserved.

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Jerry Falwell, RIP May, 15, 2007

    Jerry Falwell bore witness to some fundamental truths that run counter to the materialism of secular modernity and the relativism of secular post-modernity. He did this by virtue of who he was first as a Christian, and secondly as one called to preach the Gospel.

    Whatever you may think of his theology, methodology, or politics, these things are true and remain as his legacy. The fundamental truth he bore witness to is that God is there, and He is not silent.

    Falwell's witness that God is there ran counter to materialistic modern secularism. There is in that witness an implicit assertion that man's reason can only go so far, that there is truth existing beyond the comprehension of human reasoning.

    Falwell's assertion that this God has also spoken objectively in time and space ran counter to the existential epistimology of secular post-modernity.

    Jerry Falwell, as all true Christian Pastors and Preachers are, was at heart "counter-cultural". Yes, some of his politics, theology, and methodology may have clouded that witness at times, but stripped bare of those failings we all share with him as a redeemed, but not yet fully redeemed people, his minstry and life bore witness to those fundamental truths of our Christian faith.

    "Well done good and faithful servant..." RIP

    ~ The Billy Goat ~

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Notes on II Timothy 2:19b

    1. The seal on the foundation

    A verb form of this word is used to describe the sealing of the tomb of Jesus. Matthew 27:66

    This same word is used in reference to the 7 seals in the book of Revelation.

    2. The twofold inscription on this seal

    A framework for understanding the two fold inscription.

    God → (Mystery) ← Man

    The first part of the inscription: God intimate knowing His people.

    The OT background: Genesis 4: 1, 17, 25 (See also I Peter 3:7)
    The word “know” describes the marriage union.

    The NT References:

    Matthew 7:22-23, John 10:14, 27, (See also Romans 8:29)

    The second part of the inscription: The response or responsibility of God’s people.

    They call on His name. Romans 10:13, Matthew 28:19

    They depart from unrighteousness.

    Depart – The aorist form of the verb used here is “apostato” i.e.: “apostate”. Hebrews 3:12

    Unrighteousness - The alpha privative is prefixed to a word to negate it. “a-righteousness”.

    How do we “apostate from a-righteousness”?

    Titus 2:11 – Focus on God’s grace. “The grace of God has appeared…. teaching us that… we should live… righteously..”

    I John 1:9 – Appropriate that grace in our lives. “..He is faithful… to cleanse us from all “a-rightousness”…”

    These are my notes from a recent SS lesson I taught when filling in for the regular teacher. Our SS class is going through II Timothy.

    ~ The Billy Goat ~

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    Servant Leadership: An Excerpt from a Note to a Friend

    "I have had occasion again to ponder the matter of servant leadership, and can only sadly conclude there is to little of it in this world...

    We had occasion this past month to see servant leadership in action at WCBC. For some time the church has been looking at expanding and building some more much needed space..... We were asked to carefully consider giving a pledge to the project. Pledges were anonymous, you indicated what you thought you may be able to give, but no names anywhere on the cards turned in.

    As it was, the amount pledged was inadequate for the building under consideration. There was no "exhortation" to "give more" and etc.. as is all to familiar in to many churches in this situation. Pastor very gently and quietly explained what the pledge results were, and the leadership took that voice of the congregation as God's way of telling the church they needed to reconsider the plan. The leadership clearly respected the voice of the congregation and did not try to lord if over us to keep the original plan going... We were asked to fill out another anonymous survey to give some indication of the factors affecting how much we had pledged. The leadership acknowledged Michigan's economy is headed for the tank, and other reasons for the low response were not a matter of "right" or "wrong"......

    You probably have some idea what it is like after the church we came out of, to go to a church where the leadership has consistently demonstrated respect for the congregation, and how easy that makes it for the people to respect the leadership in return...."

    Jesus reigns!

    ~ The Billy Goat ~

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    The Acid Test for Theology

    “The acid test for any theology is this: Is the God presented one that can be loved, heart, soul, mind, and strength? If the thoughtful honest answer is; “Not really,” then we need to look elsewhere or deeper. It does not really matter how sophisticated intellectually or doctrinally our approach is. If it fails to set a lovable God—a radiant, happy, friendly, accessible, and totally competent being—before ordinary people, we have gone wrong. We should not keep going in the same direction, but turn around and take another road.”

    Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Use of γηˆ in The New Testament

    Another Greek word used in the New Testament that needs to be kept in mind when discussing the use of “aion” and “kosmos” is the word “ge”. The word “ge” is used approximately 252 times in the New Testament and is most often translated “earth”, but depending on context is also translated “ground” or “land”.

    The following is a sampling of passages using the word “ge”:

    Matthew 5:5 “…the meek shall inherit the “ge”…

    Matthew 5:13 “ are the salt of the “ge”…

    Matthew 6:10, 19

    “….Thy will be done on “ge” as it is in heaven...” “…Lay not up treasures on “ge”…”

    Matthew 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on “ge” has been given to me.”

    Matthew 13:8, Mark 4:8, and Luke 8:8 (Parable of the sower.)

    The seed “…falls on the good “ge”…’ and in this context is correctly translated “ground”.

    Acts 7 Stephan’s Speech – “ge” is used 8 times and in context is correctly translated “land”. For example”

    “…the “ge” of the Chaldeans…” “…the “ge” of Egypt…” “…the “ge” of Midean…”

    For Future Study: The Use of “Kosmos” and “Ge” in the book of Revelations

    Of the approximately 252 times “ge” is used in the NT, about 77 of those times are in the book of Revelation. That is more then any other NT book, and accounts for over 30% of the use of “ge” in the NT.

    Of the approximately 189 times “Kosmos” is used in the NT, only 3 of those are in the book of Revelation. That is less then 2% of the NT use of “kosmos”.

    The extensive and almost exclusive use of the word “ge” in the book of Revelation is very important when considering the structure and meaning of that NT book, especially as “ge” carries an almost exclusive ontological meaning in contrast to the moral meanings associated with “kosmos” and “aion”.


    Young's Analytical Concordence
    Greek/English Interliner NT (Nestle/Aland Text.)

    For His glory,

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    The use of Greek Words Translated “world” in Selected NT Passages

    This list of verses is from a SS handout our Pastor gave to us. I used my interliner Greek/English NT to identify the Greek words used.

    Romans 1:20 - Kosmos is translated as “world”

    Romans 12:2 – Aion - has the basic meaning of “age”. Here it is translated as “world”

    I Corinthians 1:20-21; 3:19

    “…debater of this “aion”...God made foolish the wisdom of this “kosmos”…the “kosmos” did not know God… 3:19 “…the wisdom of this “kosmos”..

    Galatians 6:14 – “..the”kosmos” has been crucified to me, and I to the “kosmos”…

    Colossians 2:20-23 – “…you died to the elementary principles of the “kosmos”…

    I Timothy 6:7 – “…we brought nothing into the “kosmos”…”

    James 4:4 – “…friendship with the “kosmos”…”

    I John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the “kosmos”….”
    (Kosmos translated “world” 4 times in this passage.)

    I John 3:13 – “…the “kosmos” hates you…”

    I John 4:4-5 – (Kosmos is used 4 times and translated “world”.)

    I John 5:19 – “…the whole “kosmos” lies in the power of the evil one…”

    Matthew 28:19-20 – “…I am with you always, to the end of the “aion”…”

    (Another important passage for understanding “aion” is Galatians 1:4 “…the present evil “aion”…”)

    In His grace,

    ~ The Billy Goat ~

    Saturday, January 20, 2007

    What is "Total Depravity"?

    “There have been those who have wished to deny the doctrine of total depravity on the grounds that it failed to recognize any good in man. The presence of all this evil does not deny the existence of a natural goodness in varying degrees. All that such goodness can do is to make it possible for men to live together with men. What the doctrine of total depravity means is that there is no good in man that can satisfy God, and that, therefore, all the help that man receives must originate in God and come to man by the grace of God. And it is the grace of God that brings salvation that has appeared to all men in Jesus Christ.”

    (Donald Grey Barnhouse, Exposition of Romans, Vol. I, (1952), Romans 1:28-31)