Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Little Spurgeon for your Day

These were the first words C.H. Spurgeon preached at the newly-constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle on March 18, 1861:
I would propose that the subject of the ministry in this house, as long as this platform shall stand, and as long as this house shall be frequented by worshipers, shall be the person of Jesus Christ. I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, "It is Jesus Christ." My venerated predecessor, Dr. Gill, has left a body of divinity, admirable and excellent in its way; but the body of divinity to which I would pin and bind myself for ever, God helping me, is not his system, or any other human treatise; but Christ Jesus, who is the sum and substace of the gospel, who is in himself all theology, the incarnation of every precious truth, the all-glorious person embodiment of the way, the truth, and the life.
When I, Lord willing, pastor a church some day, I might just steal these exact words to preach my first sermon. I just hope that I can take over from someone named Dr. Gill.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Nihilist Thought of the Day

"We believe in whatever we consider useful," Bazarov said. "These days negation is more useful than anything else - so we negate."
"Yes, everything."
"What? Not only art, poetry, but even...it's too shocking to utter..."
"Everything," Bazarov repeated with indescribable coolness.
Pavel Petrovich stared at him. He had not expected this. Arkady, on the other hand, flushed with pleasure.
"But look here," Nikolai Petrovich broke in. "You negate everything or, to be more exact, you destroy everything. But who is going to do the building?"
"That's not our affair. The ground has to be cleared first."

-Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

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Monday, February 20, 2006

T-Shirt Idea?

Reformed Baptists: Copying Presbyterians since 1677.

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Don't Teach Me About Truth and Beauty

"When you become a Christian, you throw away all your secular music, and when you become Reformed you throw away all your Christian music."

There's a grain of truth in this, in that I've found the Reformed perspective to a have a greater appreciation for the doctrine of Common Grace and therefore have greater confidence in approaching that which is "secular" in the world. I heard Jerram Barrs of Covenant Seminary speak this weekend at l'Abri's annual conference in Rochester, MN, and have come to realize that it is this doctrine that undergirds the Reformed confidence in engaging culture. Because humans are created in the image of God, even fallen, unregenerate people frequently display God's truth and beauty. And as Christians, it is our responsibility to recognize and celebrate truth and beauty wherever we find it.

So if I find beauty or truth (or both) in the music of Rich Mullins (which I often do) I can celebrate and enjoy that. And if I find truth without beauty in the propaganda that passes for art in much of CCM, I can still appreciate the truth despite the lack of originality or creativity or beauty. Likewise, I can appreciate the beauty of a well-made song or film even if the message is profoundly anti-Christian. And I can celebrate both the truth and beauty, say, in the way that Radiohead creatively expresses the truth of the fallen human condition.

"All are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." Certainly there is a place for choosing not to consume some particular art or entertainment because it will lead you into sin, or simply because any benefits derived from it are outweighed by possible risks of sin or buying into the wrong elements of its message. But we have to remember that goodness, truth, and beauty exist in most forms of even "secular" art and can be acknowledged and celebrated. Whether or not you choose to do so in each given circumstance is a matter of personal conscience, but this understanding keeps us from judging others who choose to listen, read, or watch this or that, unless we can clearly see that they have wrong motives in doing so or are being harmed in doing so.

Personally I tend to listen to more "secular" music than Christian. Many of my favorite artists are those who write from a Christian worldview, but still do so creatively. Some examples: Sufjan Stevens, David Eugene Edwards, Derek Webb, Over the Rhine, Waterdeep. Some of my other favorite artists (Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Wilco, The Decemberists, The Notwist) may not write from a Christian worldview, but I'm still able to find much truth in what they write, and I'm able to celebrate the tremendous beauty of the art they create.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to our (more faithful and funnier) contributor, Andrew! He is 22 today, but he says that he is only as young as he feels. Andrew, we wish you the best of luck as the painful realities of old age settle in more and more! Happy birthday!


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Thought of the Day

How unimaginably sweet would it have been to be Tertius, to whom Paul dictated the book of Romans? I mean, when Paul was getting into Romans 9-11, Tertius could have said, "Um, Paul, what exactly do you mean by..."

I think I'm experiencing holy jealousy, but it might just be jealousy.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Curse These Things

I decided I should complete our obligation and get this monkey off our back, because we all know Jacob never will. Besides, don't you get bad luck or die or something if you don't complete it?

Four jobs I've had
1. Bakery Boy
2. Lawn Care Boy
3. Government Documents Boy
4. Undergraduate Research Assistant...er...Boy

Four movies I could watch over and over
1. Waiting for Guffman
2. The Great Escape
3. The Godfather
4. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

Four places I have lived
1. Lincoln, Nebraska
2. Lincoln, Nebraska
3. Lincoln, Nebraska
4. I've probably spent between one and two months of my life backpacking in Colorado...if that counts.

Four TV shows I watch
1. Arrested Development
2. The Simpsons

Four Places I have been on vacation
1. Glastonbury, England
2. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
3. Paris, France
4. Hannibal, Missouri

Four websites I visit daily
1. Assorted blogs
2. Gmail
3. The Derek Webboard
4. Facebook

Four favorite foods
1. A well-cooked (which means not well-done) steak.
2. My mother's chocolate chip cookies.
3. Shrimp alfredo
4. Beau Jo's Dude Ranch pizza.

Four places I'd like to be right now
1. The English countryside (Glastonbury would be fine.)
2. Backpacking in Glacier National Park (granted, it'd be cold.)
3. Mid-May of this year, when I'm done with my thesis, graduated, and know what I'm doing next year.
4. With this Andrew fellow that Bethany keeps talking about. I kid, I kid! With Bethany, of course.

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging
1. Yes, it really must end.

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