Saturday, April 28, 2012

Miss Rosie Smith in Concert

Tonight, jazz singer and children pastor, Rosie Smith, performed at the annual fund-raising event for The Well Ministry of Wellspring Anglican Church. She was supported by drums, acoustic bass, and electric piano. The quartet performed standards such as "Route 66," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and others. All were done well, but Miss Smith stole the show. The highlight was the performance of Duke Ellington's sacred classic, "Come Sunday," originally sung by Mahalia Jackson. This is no easy tune, to put it mildly. The group, which had never rehearsed, performed the piece at a slightly faster pace than the original, which fit. Miss Smith rose to the nearly impossible occasion of doing this masterpiece justice, putting both her sterling voice and entire Christian soul into it.

Given the event, few people were actively listening to the music, but rather dancing and talking. Miss Smith did not mind. I, for one, was all ears. I hope my ears and soul are so gifted again in the near future by this wonderful and local talent. Bravo, Rosie Smith!
Oh, this daunting, damning, digital din.
Must detoxify, demystify, decompress.

A Lecture Outline for Next Week

Christian Ethics and Modern Culture, Spring 2012

Francis Schaeffer,
Art, and the Bible—with reference to Rouault and fujimura

I.             Forms of Art in the Bible

A.   The Lordship of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 1-2)

1.   No false dichotomy

Spiritual/sacred: the soul (good)
Material/secular: the body (bad or indifferent)

2.   Four principles

a.    God made the whole person, body and soul

Creation mandate: Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8

b.   In Christ, all is redeemed: physical and spiritual

c.    Christ is Lord of the whole person and all of culture.

B.   Intellectual form and freedom and adventure (16-17)

C.   Francis Bacon quote on religion and culture (18)Future redemption of the whole person (Revelation 21-22)

D.  No graven image (Exodus 20:4-5)

1.   Forbids worshiping images, not making image (of what?): Lev. 26:1

2.   Westminster Catechism: all images of God forbidden. See J.I. Packer’s discussion in Knowing God

E.   Art and the Tabernacle

1.   Representative art “according to the pattern” revealed

2.   Types of representations

a.    Cherubim

b.   Candlesticks

c.    Flowers

d.   Pomegranates: freedom to dye and change from the natural (imagination)

e.    Dealing with “technical problems”—how to make these things; requires human ingenuity and hard work.

F.   The Temple

1.   Divine inspiration

2.   Beauty (2 Chron. 3:6)

3.   Ornamentation (not strictly functional) (27)

4.   Carved figures: lions, palm trees, etc.

G.  “Secular art” (not strictly for worship)

                   Solomon’s throne

H.  Jesus’ use of art

1.   Brazen serpent (Numbers 21:6; John 3:14-15); smashed only when worshiped (2 Kings 18:4)

2.   Jesus speaking was artistic, memorable, picturesque, witting, humorous (see D. Elton Trueblood, The Humor of Christ)

I.     Poetry

1.   Psalms: David as prophet and artist (musician also)

Contemporary counterfeit: the artist as godless prophet, not subject to normal social and moral standards: modern painters (Picasso); modern music (rock); etc.

2.   Song of Solomon

3.   Artist and the muse (35): whole personality is involved and inspired

4.   The romantic and art

J.   Music

1.   Miriam celebrating Israel’s victory (Exodus 15)

2.   Music in the temple (1 Chronicles 23:5)

3.   Music, worship after Hezekiah’s reforms ( 2 Chronicles 29:25-26)

No reason not to have music in NT church (contra non-instrumental churches)

4.   The liberating effect of offering art unto God (43)

K.   Drama (Ezekiel 4:1-3) and dance (Psalm 149:3)

God pleased with these forms when used wisely

L.   Art and the world to come

1.   Art in heaven (Revelation 15:2-3)

2.   Artworks preserved in heaven (Paul Robert); the “wealth of the nations brought in” See Richard Mouw, When the Kings Come Marching In.

II.           Some Perspectives on Art

A.   Some important principles; not exhaustive

B.   Eleven principles

1.   Art work (and art-making) has value in itself. See also Hans Rookmaaker, Art Needs No Justification

a.    God as Creator; humans as creators (Psalm 8)—unlike animals, who may exhibit beauty (in their bodies and actions), but not create it. Humans do both.

b.   But not all creativity is good, godly. Blaise Pascal: We are “deposed royalty” See Doug Groothuis, On Pascal, chapter eight; Christian Apologetics, chapter 18. Something may be creatively evil.

c.    Art may be too “intellectual” to reach and touch people (53); problem of opacity

d.   Three views art work

(1)  Art for art’s sake: elitist opacity; but worldviews show through to some extent

(2)  Art embodies a message; may reduce to intellect and leave out artistic element

(3)  Body of work articulates the message of the artists

2.   Art forms add strength to a worldview, whatever that worldview may be

a.    Painting, prose (C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton), poetry

b.   Rouault on humans as “deposed royalty” (Pascal).

3.   In writing, is there a continuity with normal syntax and semantics (see 1 Corinthians 14:1-11, on speaking in tongues; Eccles. 12: careful writing)

   Form and freedom

4.   That something is art does not make it sacred. The problem of counterfeit or “semantic mysticism” (see Schaeffer, The God Who is There)

5.   Four Standards of Judgment

a.    Technical excellence: mastery of medium

b.   Validity: honesty, integrity

Preaching (Malachi 2:7; 1 Peter 4:11; James 3:1-2; Titus 2:7-8)

c.    Intellectual content or worldview

(1.)        Not Bohemian freedom (Rousseau, Gaugin, counterculture)

(2.)        Corollary: good art makes bad philosophy seem better
Zen: beauty in service of the self-destruction of             the human as such.

(3)  Non-Christian may make art representing Christianity better than Christians. Four types of people in relation to art

a.    Christian who makes art to express a Christian worldview

b.   Non-Christian who make art to express non-Christian worldview

c.    Non-Christian who expressing something of a Christian worldview.

Georgia O’Keefe and the beauty of the human touch on creation.

d.   Christian who fails to make art congruent with Christianity: Thomas Kinkade

(4)  How well is the vehicle suited to the message?

6.   Art forms can be used for any type of message

There is propositional content in all art. But this may be hard to discern in mere images.

7.   Styles of art form change and there is nothing wrong with this

The classic and the contemporary in creative tension; see the work of M. Fujimura.

a.    Art should be contemporary

b.   Art should vary from country to country

c.    Should reflect Christian worldview (Romans 12:1-2)

8.   No such thing as godly or ungodly style

a.    Christian style of music

b.   Sanskrit

c.    Japanese and guilt (or Tao in John 1:1)

d.   T.S. Eliot

e.    Key statement (80); relate to jazz (more next class)

9.   Christian worldview has major and minor themes

a.    Minor: the fall

In non-Christians and Christian

b.   Major: purpose and meaning (creation and redemption)

10.    Christian art need not be “religious”

11.     Every artist has the problem of making an individual   
work of art and building up a body of work

The Christian life as a work of art. See Psalm 90.

On Christianity and art

1.   Kenneth Myers, All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture (Crossway, 1989).
2.   Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo (Crossway, 2010).
3.   Hans Rookmaaker, Art and the Death of a Culture (Crossway reprint).
4.   Phillip Ryken, Art for God’s Sake (Presbyterian and Reformed, 2006). Reviewed by Doug Groothuis at:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Surrender to the Cloud: Post #1

Today, at Celtic Tavern, a friend and I were exhausted from a Celtic musical bombardment. I asked the waitress if she could switch the music (which was also driving her to distraction). She said the music emanated from the "jukebox."

I had not used a jukebox in about 30 years. Of course, it was a touch screen and computerized. Thus, I had little idea on how to use it, to understand the "logic" under the black box. I did manage to inject The Who a few times between more Celtic cacaphony, but was not sure about the mechanism by which the music was played. Yes, you get three tunes for $1, but they do not play in a row.

One more example of decision making and control being given over to "the Cloud" (meaning: digital instrustion beyond our ken and always in our midst).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why A Principled-Conservative, Bible-Believing Protestant, and Counter-cult Expert Will Vote for Mitt Romney--corrected and updated a bit

1. Politics is not the church. It is the art of the possible. Often we choose the lesser of two evils, which is also the evil of two lessers. It is a fallen world. Get over it. Be romantic and optimistic in the primaries (as I was with Michele Bachmann); then get realistic when things narrow down. You are not appointing a pastor, but voting for a President.

2. Protest votes are pointless. They send no message, except that you have robbed the better of the two candidates of a vote. Like it or not, we are stuck with a two-party system for the long haul. See Michael Medved's chapter on the failure of third parties in "Ten Lies About America."

3. The essential principles between the two parties are sharply divided, however each candidate may vary from them.

A. Democrats support: big government, heavy taxation and regulation, viewing the Constitution as a wax nose they twist any way they want (progressivism), pitting corporations and "the wealthy" against "the common man," a weakened national defnese (the only thing Obama is trying to cut), they do not support religious liberty, and they are pro-abortion with a vengeance. Under ObamaCare, every American would be subsidizing the killing of innocent human beings with their very own tax dollars. Ponder that, for God's sake.

B. Republicans support: smaller government, lighter taxation and regulation, a higher view of The Constitution as a body of objective truths to be applied rightly today, and the opportunities allowed by a basically free market, a strong national defense ("Peace through strengh,"--Ronald Wilson Reagan), and are much more pro-life. This means a Republican President is far more likely to:

(1) Appoint Supreme Court justices who honor the Constitution and see it as opposing Roe- v. Wade.

(2) Appoint dozens of federal judges with great power, all of whom are likely to have a high and proper view of the Constitution.

(3) Use Executive Orders (whether they are constitutional or not is another issues; they probably are not) in the pro-life cause, such as not giving foreign aid to support abortions and not funding abortions in the military.

C. Yes, Mitt Romney is:

(1) Not a principled conservative. Look at his very mixed track record.
(2) Not particularly charismatic.
(3) A Mormon.

I have been involved in counter-cult apologetics and evangelism for 35 years. Mormonism is a deviation from Christian orthodoxy on titantic issues: the nature of God (or gods), the identity of Christ, and salvation, to name a few crucial items. Yes, there has been some movement back to the Bible among some Mormons in the last twenty years. However, Mormonism as Mormonism is heretical. No one should be a Mormon. It is "another gospel."

If Romney is elected President, it would give Mormonism a platform as it has never had before. That is bad, very bad. However, the President is not Theologian-in-Chief And the alternative to Romney is, truly, the end of America as it was founded and as we know it.

Obama has no credible Christian testimony. Consider his membership in Rev. Wright's racist, ultra-liberal church for twenty years. Consider this stance on abortion. He was one of the few politician to not oppose partial-birth abortions, which are cases of infanticide: a form of murder. Obama is far more sympathetic to Islam than he is too Christianity. Notice, I did not say he was a Muslim. Under another four-years of Obama, we would experience more "historic" changes:

--The federal takeover of health care, leading to rationing, inefficiency, and a loss of personal freedom. You will be paying for abortions. Some would rather go to jail than do this.

--A growing and perhaps insurmountable debt, mortgaging our future, and making us like Greece.

--Further evisceration of our military and cut backs in military benefits.

--The further deconstruction of the Constitution, thus removing us from the Rule of Law and putting us under the Rule of Man: One man, the man who would be King: Barack Obama.

For these reasons and many more, I, Douglas Richard Groothuis, will vote for, support, and pray that Mitt Romney become the next President of these United States.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary

Why I am a Christian:  Ask the Christian Philosopher

“More consequences for thought and action follow the affirmation or denial of God than from answering any other basic question.”
- Mortimer Adler

I.                   Why I am a Christian

A.    What is Christianity?

1.      As a worldview: creation, fall, and redemption

2.      Summary statement

The universe (originally good, now fallen and awaiting its divine restoration) is created by the Triune God, who has revealed himself in nature, conscience, Scripture, and through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, so that the universe may be renewed and judged, and so that people may be restored to God and experience new life eternally.

3.      One Gospel statement: Romans 5:1-8

B.     Philosophical-scientific evidence for its objective truth

1.      Absolute origin of the universe a finite time ago

2.      Design of the universe: macroscopic and microscopic evidence

3.      Objective moral law and a Law-giver

C.     Historical evidence for its objective truth

1.      Reliability of the New Testament

2.      Uniqueness and incomparability of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 1, Luke 1:1-4)

3.      Positive effect of Christian ideals throughout history

D.    Existential evidence for its objective truth

1.      A coherent, meaningful, and fruitful worldview

2.      A sense of oneself—good and bad—before the living God

II.                Why You Should Consider Following Christ

A.    Intellectual satisfaction: evidence of truth and rationality (Romans 12:1-2)

B.     Existential possibilities: eternal life or the loss thereof (John 3:16-18)

C.     Being part of a redemptive movement globally (Matthew 28:18-20)

Resources Defending Christianity as True, Rational, and Pertinent to Life
1.       Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982).
2.       Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (InterVarsity, 2007).
3.       Campbell Campbell-Jack, Garvin J. McGrath, eds. New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics (InterVarsity Press, 2006). I contributed essays on “Technology,” “Blaise Pascal,” “Gnosticism,” “Point of Contact,” “Theistic Arguments,” and “Cyberspace.”
4.       William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 3rd ed. (Crossway, 2008). In-depth work defending Christianity scientifically, philosophically, and historically by a leading philosopher and debater.
5.       William Lane Craig, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, God? A Debate Between a Christian an and Atheist (Oxford University Press, 2004).
6.       William Lane Craig, Chad Meister, eds., God is Great, God is Good (InterVarsity, 2009). A collection of essays by prominent thinkers defending Christianity against a variety of charges, especially by “the new Atheists” (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchins, Dennett).
7.       William Dembski, The Design Revolution (InterVarsity, 2004). Brilliant defense of Intelligent Design against naturalism.
8.       Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism (InterVarsity Press, 2000).
9.       Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus and On Pascal, both Wadsworth, 2003.
10.    Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics (InterVarsity, 2011).
12.    The Discovery Institute (Intelligent Design):
13.    J.P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City (Baker, 1987). More advanced apologetics.
14.    Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Crossway, 2004). Strong introduction to the Christian worldview in comparison to other worldviews, and how to engage culture in a godly way.
15.    Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There (InterVarsity Press, 1998). 30th anniversary ed. (InterVarsity Press, 1998). Classic treatment of the contemporary culture and the Christians response.
16.    Francis Schaeffer, How Shall We Then Live? The Rise and Fall of Western Culture (Crossway, 1976). Explains the basic themes of Western thought and culture and how Christians should live today in light of this. See also the DVD film series.
17.    James Sennett and Douglas Groothuis, editors, In Defense of Natural Theology (InterVarsity, 2005). More advanced work.
18.    Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Christianity (HarperOne, 2011).
19.    John Stott, Basic Christianity (InterVarsity Press). Explains the basic Christian message and the Christian life in clear, cogent terms. A modern classic.
20.    Lee Stroble, The Case for a Creator (Zondervan, 2004). See the DVD of the same name.
21.    Lee Stroble, The Case for Faith (Zondervan, 2000).
22.    Lee Stroble, The Case for Christ (Zondervan, 1998).

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Jeff Sharlet says this in a tweet: "Chuck Colson was a cruel, vain, and arrogant man in 
all phases of his life, a dissembler & a hater to the end. RIP."

1. This show no respect for the newly dead and is utterly distasteful and shameful.
2. This is untrue. Colson's love for God and people took him back into prison with Prison Fellowship . His love for America led him to educate millions in the biblical worldview.
3. Colson hated falsehood, not people.
4. Shame on Sharlet, a true urchin of hateful untruths.