Friday, August 31, 2007

Free Groothuis Syllabus for Apologetics

To all Loyal (and other) Constructive Curmudgeon Readers:

I am offering the syllabus for my Defending Christian Faith class to you. Email me at It contains several hot links and many references to apologetic works. Take this material and use it for the glory of God.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More, Not More (apologies to Bruce Cockburn)

There must be more...

More of the poetic,
the prophetic,
the noetic,
the didactic.

Not more trivia,

Not more celebrity.

More questions,

Not more...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Yoga Renamed is Still Hindu"--Hinduism Today

Read this article by a Hindu professor who claims that yoga is intrinsically Hindu. Moreover, he is offended that Americans claim to yoke it to Christianity and deny its Hindu essence.

Do you think a Hindu professor knows what yoga is and isn't? Why do more and more American Christians think they know better, offering "Christian yoga"? This is akin to "Christian atheism" or "Christian relativism."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sleep Runners

Sleep walkers are passe.
Sleep runners rule the day.

Don't know where they are going,
What they are doing,
But they are moving.

Plugged in, jacked up, spaced out.
Proving their connections,
Never minding their defections.

Ear buds in.
Cell phones on.
Text messages out.
Never any doubt:
This is not sin.

Running to their portals.
Running with their portals.
No more mere mortals.

They are the wired wonders,
Souls torn asunder.

Sleep runners sparked by electronic speed.
Stimulation their obsessive need.
Never paying any heed
To any outworn Creed.

Systematic Theology

My good friend, theologian Dr. Alan Myatt, has co-written a major (and huge) systematic theology in Portuguese, which will be published in Brazil. It is called Systematic Theology: an historical, biblical and apologetic analysis for today's context. For those who read this language or know someone who does, please go to the web page. It takes an integrative approach, similar to Integrative Theology by Gordon Lewis and Bruce Demarest.

I only wish I could read it. Perhaps Alan will translate the whole thing just for me...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dangerous Meditations: Saying No to Yoga

[The following article was originally run in a slightly different form in Christianity Today in 2004. I am reprinting it here because of my extreme concern over the number of Christians who are attempting to mix Christianity and yoga. As I said in The New York Times in 2005, if it is really yoga and it is really Christianity, the two cannot be mixed. But sadly, churches and Christian organizations are sponsoring yoga classes.

I hate to pull rank, but sometimes it has to be done. I have been studying religion, philosophy, and theology for over thirty years. I have written five books on New Age spirituality, given hundreds of lectures and sermons on it, and participated in debates and panel discussions. I have engaged in intense spiritual warfare on this matter. To practice yoga is to open oneself to spiritual darkness. Let us instead take on the yoke of Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28-29) and repent of all counterfeits. God is willing to forgive, restore, and empower on His terms.]

Overstressed Americans are increasingly turning to various forms of Eastern meditation—particularly yoga—in search of relaxation and spirituality. A recent Time interview with Gloria Steinem shows her matter-of-factly sitting in the lotus position. But underlying the meditative practices stemming from the religions of the East is a worldview in conflict with meditation and spirituality, despite the fact that many Christians are (unwisely) practicing yoga. Many Eastern religions teach that the source of salvation is found within, and that fundamental human problem is not sin against a holy God, but ignorance of our true condition. These worldviews advocate mediation and “higher forms of consciousness” as a way to discover a secret inner divinity.

Yoga, deeply rooted in Hinduism, essentially means to be “yoked” with the divine. Yogic postures, breathing, and chanting are designed not to bring better physical health and wellbeing (Western marketing to the contrary), but to bring union with God Brahman (a Hindu word for God). This is pantheism (all is divine), not Christianity.

Transcendental Meditation, founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is a veiled form of Hindu yoga, despite its claims to be a religiously neutral method of relaxation and rejuvenation. TM initiates are given a mantra (a Hindu holy word) to repeat while sitting in yogic postures and engaging in yogic breathing in order to find God within their own being, since God (Brahman) and the self (Atman) are really one. Despite their differences, the various forms of Eastern meditation aim at a supposedly “higher” or “alerted” state of consciousness. This is because they claim that our normal consciousness obscures sacred realities. Therefore, meditation is practiced in order to suspend normal rational patterns of thought. This helps explain why so many Eastern mystics claim that divine realities are utterly beyond words, thought, and personality. In order to find “enlightenment,” one must extinguish one’s critical capacities—something the Bible never calls us to do (Romans 12:1-2). In fact, suspending our critical capacities through meditation opens the soul to deception and even to spiritual bondage.

The biblical worldview is completely at odds with the pantheistic concepts driving Eastern meditation. Rather than claiming that salvation lies within, the Scriptures affirm that we are spiritually incapacitated by our sin against a personal and holy God. Consequently, we require a supernatural rescue from beyond ourselves. Jesus taught that our inner nature makes us unclean (Mark 7:21-23). Paul amplifies this by declaring that we are “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). We cannot find either God or virtue within since “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

We are not one with an impersonal God, but are estranged from God because of our “true moral guilt” (Francis Schaeffer). No amount of chanting, breathing, visualizing, or physical contortions will melt away the sin that separates us from the Lord of the cosmos—however “peaceful” these practices may feel. Moreover, Paul warns that “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). “Pleasant” experiences may be portals to peril. Even yoga teachers themselves warn that yoga may open one up to spiritual and physical maladies.

The answer to our plight is not found in some “higher level of consciousness” (really a deceptive state of mind), but in placing our faith in the unmatched achievements of Jesus Christ on our behalf. If it were possible to find enlightenment within, God would not have sent “his one and only Son” (John 3:16; see also 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5) to die on the Cross for our sins in order to give us new life today and hope for eternity through Christ’s resurrection. We cannot raise ourselves from the dead.

But those who have followed the call of Christ to repent of their sins (Matthew 4:17) and turn to him in faith are challenged by Scripture to come before God through prayer and meditation. The biblical concept of prayer assumes that rational and meaningful communication between God and humans is possible. We offer our praise, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving to a personal God through human language. In other words, prayer is propositional—however emotional it may also be. The Lord’s prayer, for example is based on revealed truths about God and creation (Matthew 6:1-6; see also 1 Thessalonians 5:17). There is no summons to suspend rational judgment even when prayer through the Holy Spirit is “with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). Nor should we repeat words meaninglessly to induce a trance (Matthew 6:7). Biblical meditation means pondering God’s revealed truths and reflecting on how they pertain to us. David revels in the richness of God’s law throughout Psalm 119. He encourages us to meditate on it: “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word” (Psalm 119:15-16). Since all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:15-17), all of it is profitable for meditation in the biblical sense.

Douglas Groothuis is Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary and the author of several books, including, Unmasking the New Age and Confronting the New Age.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Second Commandment and Idols

[This is a short essay on The Second Commandment I gave to a class I taught. My view is that of The Westminster Larger Catechism; it is also shared by J.I. Packer and defended in his modern classic, Knowing God. It is unpopular, to be sure.]

4 "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments"--Exodus 20:4-6.

This is part of The Westminster Larger Catechism statement pertaining to this commandment:

"Question 109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature: Whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense: Whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God has appointed."

This command forbids any representation of God in images. It is not meant to merely forbid the worship of images. The first commandment already did that by denying other gods. Rather, this command forbids worshiping the true God in a false way. Aaron along with the people (Ex. 32:4) and Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:28) wrongly depicted the God they claimed to serve. When God gave the Decalogue, God spoke and wrote. His appearance was irrelevant. This was also true when God spoke to Moses from the bush (Exodus 3). Therefore, Deuteronomy 4 says this:

15 You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. 20 But as for you, the LORD took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.—Deut. 4:15-20.

In the Bible, God sometimes uses images expressed in words to describe who he is. Sometimes anthropomorphisms are used. That is not what the second commandment prohibits. What is anathema is when humans make an image of the divine. They do this for their own control, to domesticate God, so to speak. This corrupts our theological understanding, since no human-shaped image is adequate. Consider the plethora of Scriptures against idolatry. But what is the evil of an idol? Is it that merely it represents a false god, a god of fertility or war? No. The evil of an idol is that it attempts the impossible by merely mortal means: to represent God truly through a graphic image. So, The Apostle John exhorts us: "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols"—I John 5:21.

Romans, chapter one explains the descent into debauchery has having its genesis in a false view (literally) of God:

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal human beings and birds and animals and reptiles.—Romans 1:21-23

Before pagan philosophers in Athens, Paul said this:

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. . . 29 Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead—Acts 17.

Calvin notes that the mercy seat was “so constructed as to suggest that the best way to contemplate the divine is where minds are lifted above themselves with admiration,” since the cherubim wins covered it and the veil shrouded it (Ex. 25:17-21).

These considerations, however, do not exclude all representational art. May it never be! The Tabernacle and Temple contained divinely-mandated representations of things like pomegranates and angels, but no representations of God himself. On this, see Francis A. Schaeffer, Art and the Bible (InterVarsity Press)and Ryken, Art for God’s Sake (Crossway, 2006).

For more on the prohibition of images, see John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, chapters 11-12; J. Douma, The Ten Commandments (P&R Publishing, 1996).

Friday, August 17, 2007

"Swinging in Class," by Douglas Groothuis

The Philosophers Magazine has published my article, "Swinging in Class," which applies jazz sensibilities to teaching philosophy. Sadly, it is not on line, but available in the 3rd Quarter, 2007 issue. So, run out and buy it. No excuses allowed.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Drum Innovator, Max Roach, is Dead at 83

The New York Times, which can seldom be faulted for its coverage of jazz (although it can be faulted for many other things), has a suitably long, detailed, and respectful obituary for pioneering jazz drummer, Max Roach, one of the innovators at the birth of bebop--a man who played with Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, and other titans, and who never stopped exploring musical possibilities.

The New Sacrament

How many evangelical churches focus more attention on their coffee bar than on the sacrament of the Lord's Supper? What engenders greater community, the ersatz Starbucks or the Eucharist?

Having little culture of its own, evangelicalism tends to absorb the surrounding culture in ahistorical and undiscerning ways. Yes, coffee is a gift from God, and I find no reason to boycott Starbucks. But think about it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Media Abstention Assignment

[The following is an assignment I give in Christian Ethics and Modern Culture, as I have been doing for fourteen years. I challenge some of you to do it. "Absention" is probably a better word that "fast," since the participant it not refraining from eating--the biblical meaning of "fast." The class readings are primarily from my book Truth Decay and Kenneth Myers, All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes, a classic on popular culture.

Don't send me the report, though, please--if anyone is tempted! I have enough student papers to cope with. But you could write it up and put it on your own blog or give to friends or make a short post on this august blog. My students almost always report very edifying effects from this change in their lives. Hundreds have done it over the years.]

Media fast report.

Engage in a media fast in which you abstain from one or more popular electronic medium that you typically use—TV (especially recommended), radio, recorded music, email, etc.—for at least ten days, and write up a report on the effects of this fast on your life and walk with Christ. Do not fast from the newspaper or reading magazines, please. You must incorporate Scriptural insights and class materials (readings and lectures) into the paper. Consider meditating on Isaiah 58 (true fasting and justice); Matthew 5-7 (Christian virtue); Exodus 20 (God’s commands); Gal. 5 (fruit of the Spirit or ways of the flesh) in relation to this fast. This must no more than five pages, double-spaced and typed, excluding endnotes and bibliography.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Emotibuds: Small Images for Total Zombies

Some savvy souls have created the emotibud, a cutomized covering for your ear buds. For you prehistoric folks still stumbling through the postmodern world with an unsteady gate, ear buds are the tiny speakers attached to iPods that fit inside your ears. They are a distant cousin to headphones, the bulky speakers put over your ears in my day. ("Wow, man, I can hear the guitar go from left to right--and right through my head!" I had that revelation listening to the album "Abraxis" by Santana in about 1971.) Now everything is miniaturized (except most automobiles, stomachs, and egos--at least in The United States).

These ear bud coverings are adorned with emoticons. Again, for the chronically un-hip, emoticons are little faces made originally with punctuation marks, like this: :) That is a sideways smile. Clever, yes? (Computers also generate trendier ones in full color that change expressions.) Thus, we wear a technology that sonically isolates us from others: the nearly omnipresent iPod. (The Utne Reader ran an article some years ago called "Hell is Other iPods." Please read it.) We are absent in the presence of others--an all-too-common event today. However, we can by stylish (ever minding our personal "lifestyle") as we vacate within the crowd. We may sport a minimalist image of a human face (since our face is not responding much to other human faces around us) on the object that covers our ears.

If this doesn't strike you as strange, you may be one of the zombies.

Yes, of course, iPods can be used in nonalienating ways. I sometimes do it myself when I go on one of my maniacal bike rides on the High Line Canal. This can be defended because it is not a social event, unless some emergency strikes. Even causal conversations simply don't occur outside of, "Passing on the left," if pedestrians don't hear my warning bell. Further, one can use iPods to listen to philosophical lectures or the Bible in the car or in other settings, as many of my friends do. Nevertheless, the iPod often locks people into their own world, usually of one relentless entertainment and not instruction. But why not be locked in and express your style through a pseudo face of your choice?!


Two Doug Groothuis Sermons Available in MP3 Files

My two recent sermons at Southern Gables Church in Littleton, Colorado, can be downloaded in MP3 form at their web page. "What Would Jesus Say to a Relativist?" is already available. "What Would Jesus Say to a New Ager?" should be available early this week. You can also find the sermon outlines there.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Secret of "The Secret" (a very short book review)

The Secret (by Rhonda Byrne)

Turn off your critical mind.
Think only happy thoughts.
Buy only silly books.
Thoughts create anything you think,
if you think what the silly books tell you.

There is no tragedy.
People bring things to themselves by bad thoughts.
Turn off your critical mind.

Six million Jews killed by the Nazis--the result of negative thinking: their own.
250,000,000 untouchable in India today, with no rights, locked into poverty and degradation
--the result of negative thinking: their own.

The Secret: lunacy fueled by selfishness
wedded to a metastasized metaphysics.

Turn on your critical mind.
Turn off The Secret.

Double Standards

We Must Overcome Our Fear of Islam
by (more by this author)
Posted 08/03/2007 ET

What do you call a photograph of a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of urine? If you’re part of the liberal establishment, you might call it “modern art” worthy of a generous taxpayer-funded grant. Or how about the burning of an American flag in a protest? Our courts say that act is protected as freedom of speech.Now, what do you call a Koran submerged in a toilet? If you were part of the liberal elite, you’d call it a “hate-crime” and a felony punishable by up to two years in prison. Perhaps you remember my first example.

“Piss Christ” was the blasphemous photograph that won an art competition and $15,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts. But you may not yet have heard about the student at Pace University in New York who was arrested last week on charges of criminal mischief and aggravated harassment (both felonies) for twice throwing a Koran into university toilets.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Forty-nine Propositions or Imperatives

[I make a list of statements or imperatives every year to summarize my class, Christian Ethics and Modern Culture. Here is the list for summer of 2007. These are not arguments, but pithy and provocative points to ponder. The arguments were given in the class. I do give some Scripture references and book citations, though.]

(Danger: this document has not been edited by my wife, editor extraordinaire)

1. Get serious—about God, your soul, your neighbor, your culture, and the world (missions) Avoid trivia. Time is short. See Matthew 6:33.

2. Exegete your soul; exegete the Word; exegete the world. Never stop. Never slacken.

3. Beware of worldliness in all is forms. See Luke 16:15; 1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:1-2. Worldliness makes godliness seem strange and vice seem normal and appropriate (David Wells). Worldliness may produce great gains for merely human religion, but not for biblical ministry.

4. Don’t let the measure of your ministry extend past the measure of your character. That is, never sacrifice godliness for “effectiveness” or “relevance.”

5. Do not fear misery if it leads to sanctity. See Matthew 5:4; James 4:1-10.

6. Learn to lament—over oneself, over others, over one’s culture, and over the church. Do so with emotional honesty and with biblical hope, based on objective truth revealed in Scripture. See Psalm 88; Ecclesiastes 7:1-5; Romans 8:18-26.

7. In your lamentation, be open to repentance (Matthew 4:17). Do not fear teaching and preaching about repentance. All the prophets preached it, including Jesus. Repentance is “the first word of the gospel.” Without repentance, there is no gospel and no Christian existence. Without it, there is no hope for the church or the culture.

8. Remember that you are always a solider in a spiritual war (Acts 13:1-12; Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Peter 5:8-9). Demons are real; they don’t like you; you must resist them and their leader and submit to God alone (James 4). On this, see Mark Bubeck, Overcoming the Adversary (Moody); Gary Kinnaman, Overcoming The Dominion of Darkness.

9. The biblical concept of truth is that a true statement corresponds with or matches objective reality. While human knowing is corrupted by sin, knowledge of the things that matters most—divine and human—is possible, desirable, and pertinent.

10. Philosophy is not the enemy of Christianity. To the contrary, the Kingdom of God needs women and men who are philosophically trained and passionate about God and God’s Kingdom. See Acts 17:16-34.

11. Anti-intellectualism is a cruel pox on the face of evangelicalism. It must be removed through teaching, preaching, praying, writing, and living in a way that the truth is rationally and passionately presented.

12. Apologetics is vital to the life of the church and the work of the Kingdom. Never lose your concern for this area of Christian learning. See Isaiah 1:18; Jude 3; Acts 17:16-34; 1 Peter 3:15-17; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

13. Postmodernism as a philosophy has nothing good to offer the church. Anything true it may affirm can be found in other more intellectually respectable philosophical systems. See Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay (IVP, 2000).

14. Postmodernity, as a set of cultural conditions, needs to be taken very seriously with respect to Christian living and mission. Understand its defining features. Do not be bewitched by its allure. Critically use it to advance objective truth for a lost world. For example, consider writing a blog that advances Christian truth in a thoughtful and shrewd manner. See Matthew 10:16.

15. Expose the fact/value dichotomy wherever it corrupts thought—in the culture, the church, and your own soul. Christianity is true, rational, knowable, and pertinent. It must not be banished to a subjective netherworld of personal faith, spirituality, and values that “work for me.”

16. Develop a deeply biblical worldview and teach this to others. See Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 12:1-2. The categories of creation, fall, and redemption are felicitous in this regard. See Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Crossway, 2004).

17. The Intelligent Design movement is thrusting a wedge between empirical science and philosophical materialism such that the evidence for design in nature may emerge apart from dogmatic and a priori restrictions. Learn about, teach about, and support this movement. See William Dembski, The Design Revolution (IVP, 2004).

18. Understand and reflect upon the inherent weaknesses of American evangelicalism: its populism, its celebrity orientation, its fear of tradition, creeds, and confessions, its anti-intellectualism, its too often mindless embrace of technology and popular culture.

19. Understand and reflect upon the inherent strengths of American evangelicalism: its emphasis on conversion, its desire to win as many to Christ as possible, its entrepreneurialism, and its respect for the Bible.

20. Learn from the historic creeds, confessions, and catechisms of the Protestant Tradition. These can be found in The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible.

21. Learn how God is using people from other cultures (both within your nation and beyond it) to advance his Kingdom. This helps one evaluate one’s own life, culture, and ministry. I have received invaluable insights from my African friends in this regard. See Phillip Jenkins, The Next Christendom, revised ed. (Oxford, 2007 ); The New Face of Christianity (Oxford, 2006)

22. The Ten Commandments summarize God’s law for believer and unbeliever. They are pertinent for all of life. Study them, teach them, and preach them in connection with “the whole counsel of God,” particularly the Sermon on the Mount.

23. Guard your heart carefully with respect to all sin, particularly sins related to money, sex, and power—the three that bring down the Christian leaders most often.

24. Make room for sabbatarian (Sunday) rest in your life. Otherwise, you will run on fumes and eventually burn out, taking yourself and likely many others down with you.

25. A well-integrated biblical system of ethics involves deontology, virtue, and consequences, as seen in the ethics of Jesus. See Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus (Wadsworth, 2003). This is in an indispensable part of a Christian worldview.

26. Christian leaders should research and develop cogent perspectives on pressing social issues such as abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, reproductive technologies, sexual ethics, war and peace, capital punishment, materialism, and the gender debates. This requires a sound knowledge of both facts and principles.

27. God evaluates us and our culture by how we have treated the last, the least, and the lost. See Matthew 25:31-46. This especially concerns the unborn, the infirm, the poor, the homeless, and the aged. They must be supported and protected through law, politics, the church, and culture at large.

28. The murder of Terri Schiavo in 2005 was a momentous event in American culture and ethics. Remember it; lament it; oppose the mentality that generated it.

29. The gender debate is critical in the church. Develop a biblical and logical view on the matter. Try to be civil with those with whom you disagree. See 1 Corinthians 13.

30. If you think that God equally gifts women in leadership, but does not let them exercise these gifts equally with men in the home and the church, then let that haunt you.

31. The pivotal traditionalist construct, “Equal in being; unequal in role,” is logically contradictory. Therefore, no theology of gender may be built on this faulty foundation. See Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Good News for Women (Baker, 1997) and her chapter in Discovering Biblical Equality (IVP, 2004).

32. “Create silence."—Soren Kierkegaard. Do not try to out-shout or out-entertain the world. Create truth zones, places where knowledge of God and the soul become possible.
33. Turn off as many televisions as possible. TV-B-Gone is helpful in this regard.

34. Dethrone the television from its centrality in the home. Put it in a less conspicuous place or banish it entirely.

35. Try to adjust your sensorium to receiving, treasuring, and presenting the truths that matter most. This means paying careful attention to one’s use of electronic media.

36. Periodically fast from food and entertainment in order to sharpen your spiritual discernment and to engage in constructive spiritual warfare.

37. Jazz is a wonderful art form, despite its lack of popularity today. There are spiritual and moral lessons to be learned from the history and practice of jazz, despite the carnality of many of its luminaries.

38. John Coltrane was the greatest saxophonist of all time. Sonny Rollins is a close second.

39. Kenny G is a crock. His success is evidence of a fallen world.

40. Preaching is “truth through personality”—Phillip Brooks—as is all of ministry.

41. If you preach, get serious about it. “Study until you are full. Think until you are clear. Pray until you are hot.”—Unknown African American preacher.

42. When you preach, do not let the sensibilities of postmodernity set the tone for your preaching. That is, resist the image-orientation; resist entertainment; resist silliness; resist the simplistic. See John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching.

43. When you preach, do not be tied to the clock. Preach the text as the Holy Spirit leads.

44. When you preach, emphasis the truth of Scripture for the glory of God. Don’t waste words. Keep your ego out of it. Use humor carefully and sparingly. See A.W. Tozer’s classic essay, “The Use and Abuse of Humor.”

45. When you preach, preach before “the audit of Eternity” (Kierkegaard), “the audience of One” (Os Guinness).

46. Make reading a high priority in your life and ministry. Recommend good books to people whenever possible—and from the pulpit (in your message and in the sermon notes). If you don’t read, you should not lead.

47. Beware of trendy books, Christian bestsellers, and “methodologies” that reek of social science efficiency. See Os Guinness, Dining with the Devil (Baker, 1993) and Prophetic Untimeliness (Baker, 2003).

48. Read classics and contemporary authors who are serious, rich, and deep. Consider these classical authors: Augustine, Athanasius, Calvin, Luther, Jonathan Edwards, the Puritans as a whole, Pascal, Kierkegaard (but not his religious epistemology). Great Christian writers of the 20th century include: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Carl F. H. Henry, Walter Martin, and Francis Schaeffer. Several contemporary writers of note are: Os Guinness (read all of his books), Eugene Peterson, James Sire, David Wells, D.A. Carson, and John Piper (but not his views on gender).

49. Don’t use contextualization as a pretext for materialism.

Records, People, Baseball

Barry Bonds just (officially) broke Henry Aaron's home run record.

Hurray for Henry Aaron.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Day the Video Died: A Fantasy Apocalypse

All screens are black.
No images move.
Electricity remains,
but will not work its charms on screens.

Darkness moves across the face of the watched world.
As no one understand, as (most) all lament.

Nothing to click.
Nothing to push.
It's frozen; it's broken.

We are forsaken of distraction.
We are diverted from diversion.

All screens are black, black!
No one can avoid
The new and unbidden void.

What is left?
What remains to do, to be?
Video has vanished.

We are thrown back to pages,
to print
--poems and prose--
to photographs,
to paintings,
to mountains and plains,
to statues.

We are thrown back to untelevized people.
To eyes that return our gaze,
To ears that hear our words,
To skin that feels our touch.

We are thrown back to...ourselves:
whatwe forgot among the images.

We return as souls among others who are there,
In the flesh,
In the moment.

And we are thrown back to God,
the One we forgot among the images.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Korean Hostage Crisis the Media Ignores

[From Real Clear Politics]

August 01, 2007

The Martyrs No One Cares About

By Michelle Malkin

The blood of innocent Christian missionaries spills on Afghan sands. The world watches and yawns. The United Nations offers nothing more than a formal expression of "concern." Where is the global uproar over the human rights abuses unfolding before our eyes?

For two weeks, a group of South Korean Christians has been held hostage by Taliban thugs in Afghanistan. This is the largest group of foreign hostages taken in Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001. What was their offense? Were they smuggling arms into the country? No. Inciting violence? No. They were peaceful believers in Christ on short-term medical and humanitarian missions. Seventeen of the 23 hostages are females. Most of them are nurses who provide social services and relief.

Over the past few days, the bloodthirsty jihadists have demanded that South Korea immediately withdraw troops from the Middle East, pay ransom and trade the civilian missionaries for imprisoned Taliban fighters. The Taliban leaders have made good on threats to kill the kidnapped Christians while Afghan officials plead fecklessly that their monstrous behavior is "un-Islamic."

Two men, 29-year-old Shim Sung-min and 42-year-old Pastor Bae Hyeong-gyu, have already been shot to death and dumped in the name of Allah. Bae was a married father with a 9-year-old daughter. According to Korean media, he was from a devout Christian family from the island province of Jeju. He helped found the Saemmul Church south of Seoul, which sent the volunteers to Afghanistan.

Across Asia, media coverage is 24/7. Strangers have held nightly prayer vigils. But the human rights crowd in America has been largely AWOL. And so has most of our mainstream media. Among some of the secular elite, no doubt, is a blame-the-victim apathy: The missionaries deserved what they got. What were they thinking bringing their message of faith to a war zone? Didn't they know they were sitting ducks for Muslim head-choppers whose idea of evangelism is "convert or die"?

I noted the media shoulder-shrugging about jihadist targeting of Christian missionaries five years ago during the kidnapping and murder of American Christian missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham in the Philippines. The silence is rooted in viewing committed Christians as alien others. At best, there is a collective callousness. At worst, there is outright contempt -- from Ted Turner's reference to Catholics as "Jesus freaks" to CBS producer Roxanne Russell's casual insult of former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer as "the little nut from the Christian group" to the mockery of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Mormon faith.

Curiously, those who argue that we need to "understand" Islamic terrorists demonstrate little effort to "understand" the Christian evangelical missionaries who risk their lives to spread the gospel -- not by sword, but through acts of compassion, healing and education. An estimated 16,000 Korean mission workers risk their lives across the globe -- from Africa to the Middle East, China and North Korea.

These are true practitioners of a religion of peace, not the hate-mongers with bombs and AK-47s strapped to their chests who slay instead of pray their way to martyrdom.
Copyright 2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.
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Thursday, August 02, 2007

What is Truth? On the Nature and Importance of Truth

This essay has just been posted at TrueU. It is a revised, edited, and updated version of one written around 2000. They put the photograph of a beautiful oriental women near the front of the article. I'm not sure why!

2004 Apologetics Lectures by Doug Groothuis

Some of you are on to this already, but it looks like all or most all of my 2004 apologetics class is on line and can be downloaded. Spread the word.