Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cotton Bowl Pre-Game Thoughts

I can only describe my feelings for this bowl game as "Hopefully Pessimistic." I think that we will have a tough time winning the game, but I think that we have a good shot of upsetting Auburn. Here are my predictions.
  • Look for Zac Taylor to have a good game. He played terribly against Oklahoma, but I think that he just wanted it a little too much. I think that he will step up for a big game tomorrow, but he won't have the pressure of playing against his childhood team and wanting to win his team a Big 12 Championship.
  • Expect our Defensive Line to have a better day stopping Auburn's run than Auburn's D-Line will have trying to stop our run. We have Brandon Jackson back; Auburn had their #2 running back (their #1 touchdown scorer and main short-yardage runner) suspended. We lost our D-Line coach, but the replacement (who has been working with the team for the last few weeks) is from Alabama, who faced Auburn earlier this season. Hopefully, we can give us a few tips at how to beat Auburn's offensive line.
  • Look for trick plays. I think that Bill Callahan, having had so much time to prepare, will have some gadgets up his sleeve. We didn't really run any against Oklahoma after running seven against Colorado (our last two games), and so I think that Callahan is going to try to work in some funny business.
  • Related to the last point, recognize that Bill Callahan has not lost a game in which he has had at least two weeks to prepare since his first season in 2004, when he lost to Colorado, leaving Nebraska with a 5-6 record. (Still, I blame that one loss more on the lack of West-Coast-Offense players to implement the West Coast Offense than on coaching. Case in point: in that game, we brilliantly ran a trick onside kick, giving us the ball with great field position. Unfortunately, we then went three-and-out.) Also, Bill Callahan was reeling at his poor coaching at the Oklahoma game--he will have his team ready to play for a win tomorrow.
My concerns:
  • Brandon Cox, Auburn's quarterback--especially against our shaky secondary. Apparently, he played terribly in his last several games (I didn't watch them), and most sports analysts think that he never really recovered from a mid-season injury. This long break, though, has apparently given him a time to recover. Will he continue to play poorly, or will he be the game's MVP?
  • Good focus on Auburn's part. One of our advantages last year against Michigan was that Michigan felt they got shafted in being placed in the Alamo Bowl rather than a better bowl. (By the way, this is the reason Michigan is going to get dominated by USC in the Rose Bowl this year.) Last year, when Auburn played Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl, they were the better team, but they were really focused in their preparations, expecting simply to beat the Badgers with ease. Instead, they got embarrassed. So, Auburn has vowed not to be caught napping. Still, I think there are hints that they don't respect Nebraska as a football team, which could definitely be to our advantage.
My prediction: Nebraska 24, Auburn 17. (That's my hopeful side winning out over my pessimistic side.) Watch for me on television (Fox, 10:30 Central)--I'll be sitting beside my brother, who will be wearing a cornhead.

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Why I'm Now a Paedobaptist

I have been a committed Reformed Baptist for almost a year now--I wrote a post about the reasoning that brought me to that position on January 3, 2006. (Another blogger cited that post here.) In my post, I had written the following:
First, you should know that I am approaching the issue from a Reformed, Covenant Theology perspective. From this, my main question is: Is there a covenant community in the new covenant containing both the regenerate and the unregenerate, as there was in the old covenant? I believe that the Bible does not reflect such a community under the new covenant.
Today, my question is still the same, but my conclusion is very different. The Lord has confirmed in my heart and mind from Scripture the validity of paedobaptism, or infant baptism.

On November 15 of this year, when my Bible reading plan had me reading in Hebrews 10, I landed on the following verses (26-31):

26For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Emphasis added)
As I meditated on these verses, I rehearsed my (baptist) explanation of these verses--namely, that these people thought that they were saved, but they actually were not. I did not (and still do not) believe that, once a person is genuinely born again, anything can separate that person from the love of God.

But then I asked myself, "Well, then in what way were these people 'sanctified' by the 'blood of the covenant'?" In an instant, I realized that these verses only made sense if I had an understanding of the New Covenant that included the regenerate and the unregenerate. In an instant, the baptist branch on which I had been standing broke, and, by God's grace, I became a paedobaptist.

You see, my baptist covenant theology already believed that Christians are saved through Christ's fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Gal. 3:7-29, esp. 7, 9, 14, and 29); however, my baptist understanding of Covenant Theology strongly emphasized that "it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham" (Gal. 3:7). In other words, I believed that the Abrahamic Covenant in the Old Testament was manifested physically and spiritually, but that the only legitimate New Testament children of Abraham (i.e., the ones who would be blessed) were those who were his children spiritually, through faith. But, as the Holy Spirit began to work in my heart, teaching me to understand Hebrews 10:26-31, I saw that this was not a suitable understanding of the nature of the covenants for two reasons:

  1. Keeping the covenant has always been accomplished by faith. Notice how Paul describes the significance of circumcision: "[Abraham] received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised..." (Rom. 4:11). Circumcision had to do with the righteousness that comes through faith, not a righteousness that comes by the law. Thus, I could not draw as big of a distinction between baptism and circumcision as I previously had, seeing one as dealing with the law, and the other as dealing with faith--both deal with faith.
  2. From the apostasy passages in Hebrews 10:26-31, Hebrews 6:4-8, 2 Peter 2:1-2, 12-17, and others, it has become clear to me that there are people who are full members of the New Covenant, but who are unregenerate and therefore apostasize, exactly as was possible in the Old Covenant. Therefore, I saw no reason to believe any longer that the nature of covenant membership had radically changed between the Old and the New Covenants. (Observe how, in my original post, I beg the question on this matter: in my first bullet point in response to Dr. Pratt's article, I essentially say, "I can prove that the New Covenant does not include unregenerate people [my main, underlying question] and cannot be broken [my minor point in that particular bullet point], because only the truly regenerate can be New Covenant members, and the truly regenerate will never break the covenant by falling away." See the problem?)
So, I was now left with an understanding of the New Covenant with a high degree of continuity to the Old Covenant. Suddenly, I was able to see how Peter's proclamation on the Day of Pentecost ("For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."--Acts 2:39) sounded uncannily like language from when God gave Abraham the sign and seal of circumcision: "And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you" (Gen. 17:7). Furthermore, I started to appreciate how close the idea of the household baptisms in Acts were to the way God commanded Abraham to circumcise every member of his household: "Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant" (Gen. 17:12-13).

Finally, I just ran out of arguments against infant baptism, which leaves me where I am today: a reformed Reformed Baptist, beginning the process of finding a Presbyterian (PCA) Church in Birmingham, AL, to call home.

To end this post, I would like to close with a statement that I wrote in my post a year ago, but I have changed all the "baptist" references to "paedobaptist," and vice versa:

I certainly respect the beliefs of baptists (especially because I know how confusing the issue is and because I know how persuasive a case baptists have), but I am ultimately persuaded by the arguments on behalf of paedobaptism.
Only the grace of God could have changed my mind on this issue, but, when I least expected it, he did just that. I am excited and nervous to become a Presbyterian, but I gratefully acknowledge my spiritual debt to all the baptists I've ever known and to those whom I still know. While I now disagree with the baptist theology that I believed all my life, I absolutely respect and cherish the Christians who still hold to it. May Christ bless his church by bringing about a supernatural unity among his people, even as they continue to disagree on the proper subjects, timing, and methods of baptism!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 22, 2006


I really enjoyed this:
Bill Busch has a clear image of the type of player he wants to coach.

Asked which specific traits he desires most in his athletes, the Nebraska safeties coach quickly pointed to one.

“Right away, the main thing I look for is violence — I look for people on the field who are very violent people,” Busch said Thursday. “You see it in their tackling, you see it in their running. You see quick, sudden, violent movements, and you see it at the point of attack. That’s the part that catches your eye the most right away.”

Read the whole article here.


Bowl Game Gifts

I blogged about this last year, but the football bowl games are again giving very nice gift packages to all the players in their games. You can see the list here. The Cotton Bowl (where Nebraska will face Auburn on January 1, 2007) is giving a pretty good gift package, even for not being a BCS bowl game:
  • Fossil wrist watch
  • MP3 player
  • Camcorder
  • R+L Carriers (by the way, does anyone know what this is?)
You would think that the National Championship would give a great gift package, but the BCS Championship Game (Ohio State vs. Florida on January 8) is only giving a portable XM Satellite radio and a commemorative Tourneau wrist watch. Granted, Tourneau's web site advertises some watches that cost in excess of $10,000, so hopefully the watch is on the high end--otherwise, what were they playing for?

Worst gift package? The International Bowl (Cincinnati vs. Western Michigan on January 6):

  • Souvenir watch
  • Souvenir football for autographs
  • Leather club bag
Unfortunate year to be a Bearcat or a Bronco!

If anyone was curious, it does not appear that the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will be giving copies of John Eldridge's Wild at Heart, as they did last year. Pity.

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Change in Cash

There is an interesting comparison here on the ways in which the new posthumous Johnny Cash music video for "God's Gonna Cut You Down" differs dramatically from the music video that Cash himself made for "Hurt." The author argues that, while the video for "Hurt" emphasized youth's fleetingness and foolishness, the video for "God's Gonna Cut You Down" is the exact opposite, being more of a
"Where's Waldo" of youth and celebrity. Cash's voice sings of human inability to escape the wrath to come while the images run past of current celebrities: Timberlake, Sheryl Crow, Chris Rock, Bono, Johnny Depp, Lisa Marie Presley, the Dixie Chicks.
Personally, I didn't quite know what to make of it--were the guest stars in the video cynically suggesting that they themselves were going to be cut down, or were they holding themselves out as repentant people who were planning on avoiding God's judgment? Maybe they just didn't get the point of the song at all.

Labels: , , ,

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

I watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose yesterday, and I was very impressed with how the movie handled the issues of demons, scientific naturalism, and Catholicism. Certainly, I had some exceptions to the specific theology behind the exorcism (namely, the belief that demonic possession can happen to a believer as well as some specifically Catholic elements throughout the film), but, on the whole, I was pleased. I would highly recommend the movie to anyone who would not be adversely affected by the dark depictions of demonic possession in the movie (certain scenes seem very much like a horror movie).

Based on the real-life attempted exorcism of Anneliese Michel, the movie is a courtroom drama where an agnostic is left defending a priest who had attempted to exorcise demons from Emily in the belief that medical science could have done her no good. For the prosecution, a "Christian" argues that Emily's condition was wholly medical in nature, and characterizes the defense's arguments as "ridiculous." It is fascinating how the filmmakers pit the agnostic's growing belief in the spiritual realm against the shallowness of the prosecutor's "faith."

Without going into spoilers, I had two big thoughts concerning the movie. The first was a realization that I don't, practically speaking, believe in demonic or angelic powers. Certainly, my theology includes a belief in the existence of such beings; however, I don't know that I often think much of the fact that they are always around, always trying to turn me away from God. The prosecuting attorney in the movie professed to be a Christian, but he rejected from the beginning the possibility that Emily might have actually been possessed.

Certainly, an acknowledgment of the demonic can go too far. C. S. Lewis wrote of two ways demons can "win" in their struggles against humans. The first would be to get us to deny their existence, either theoretically or practically; the second would be to develop an obsession with seeing their work behind absolutely everything. In actuality, Christians must always be wary of the tactics of the evil one, but we must temper that wariness with an understanding of my second thought.

Partially to reflect a more Catholic theology (and, to be fair to Catholics, it was a decidedly Hollywood version of Catholicism) and partially to sell a movie, the film seemed to play up a dualism where evil was almost, if not virtually, as strong as God. The priest prayed more often to the archangel Michael and to the Virgin Mary than he did to God. My second thought, then, dealt with the way to temper a morbid fear of the occult: having an even greater appreciation for the work of Christ on the cross. As Jesus said on his way to his death, "Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out" (John 12:31). Christ certainly did die, but he then rose victorious over all sin, death, and demonic power.

This, of course, could not have happened if the eternal Son of God had not entered this world as a human, gaining the ability to mediate between God and man, to the infinite benefit of humanity and the infinite glory of God. Christmas--what a wonderful time to watch a film about an exorcism! (Okay, that last statement might be a bit of a stretch, but the Incarnation is fundamental to virtually everything we gain in Christ. We do not meditate enough on it--especially at Christmastime.)

Labels: ,

Deutschland is Leaving

[I wrote this post yesterday in the Denver airport on my way home. Had I been there just a day later, I'd currently be snowed in for who knows how long.]

Just as I reached my tolerance limit yesterday evening of trying to understand why the verb “knowing” can’t be formed in passive (apparently something can’t “be known by” someone, someone must always actively know it), the instructor dismissed our class for Christmas break. I had a strong feeling of relief and a weight lifted off me, which surprised me, since academically this semester has been probably the lightest workload of my college career, but I guess I didn’t realize how much living in a foreign place and foreign language wears you out. The thought of being home the next day, speaking in English, seeing Bethany, my family, and friends gave me a big smile on my face as I biked home through Göttingen’s lamp-lit streets, dodging acceleration-obsessed German drivers in their manual BMWs.

Thirty hours later (10 of those hours spent in an economy-class airline seat) I’m sitting in an American airport, eating a burrito for which I first tried to pay in euros, and still saying “danke” and “entschuldigung” instead of “thank you” and “excuse me.” It’s weird to think that just this morning I was running with three bags to the train station trying desperately to catch the overly-prompt Deutsche Bahn. And missing it. (Apparently when Germans say they’ll “pick you up” and “take you to the station,” they just mean they’ll walk there with you.)

It’s good to be home.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Template Fixed (Hopefully)

I spent a couple of hours today updating the template on this blog so that IE6, IE7, and Firefox would all be able to display the site correctly. If the blog doesn't look right to you, please leave me a comment telling me what seems to be wrong and what browser (along with its version) you are using. On most browsers, you can click Help-->About..., and it will give you a browser and version number. Thanks!

Also, I would really appreciate it if someone using Opera or Safari would let me know that the site is working properly (or that it isn't). Again, please give me the version number of the software that you are using.

--The Management

Labels: ,

Fallen Mountain Climber

If you have paid any attention to the news over the last week or so, you will know that three mountain climbers were lost in a storm. Furthermore, you probably have heard that officials already found one of the climbers dead, and that they identified him as Kelly James. What you might not know is that Kelly James's brother, Frank James, is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. He had been at Beeson on Reformation Day of this year for our Reformation Heritage Lectures, speaking to us about Peter Martyr Vermigli, a little-known Italian reformer.

You can watch the statement Frank made about his brother here, and read the article here. Keep the James family, the other climbers, and their families in your prayers.

Labels: ,

Monday, December 18, 2006

Making the Rounds

Some things I've found on other blogs that you might find interesting:

Matthew Smith (one of the lead singers on the Indelible Grace albums) is offering his new solo album of remade hymns, "All I Owe," freely available for streaming download during this month--in other words, you can listen to it, but you can't keep it. Read more here.

David Mills of Mere Comments had an interesting post on why dogmatic atheism ended up pushing him toward Christianity when he was an agnostic:
When the secularist declared that God did not exist or that a particular belief was incredible, I always wondered how they could be so sure. Friends and teachers would sweep away the supernatural with all the confidence of the Fundamentalists they laughed at, and with fewer arguments than the Fundamentalists offered. Beyond that old staple, the problem of evil, that is.
Read the rest here.
The Presbyteer linked to information regarding a dispute within the PCA over "Federal Vision" theology. I found the written examination fascinating (and long--be warned!), and I'm going to try to listen to the oral examination over the next few days. I had heard about "Federal Vision" theology before, but this is a really good context in which to get the essentials explained from both sides.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's a Foggy Day in Houston

(Note: I wrote this post Thursday evening while I was still at the Houston Airport, waiting for my return flight to Omaha.)

I have spent the day trying to get back to Nebraska from Alabama. Because Houston went through a particularly foggy spell, all flights into the international airport were shut down for most of the morning. As you can imagine, this caused significant backups and delays. Beyond this, the day has been generally crazy. So, for your enjoyment, I am providing a list of highlights from my day.

  • When I went through security, I mentioned to the security lady that I was headed back to Nebraska. She then asked if I was a member of the UNL Wrestling team. Not sure where she would have gotten that from...
  • I learned what a horrifying experience it can be when, upon entering a public restroom as a man, you cannot see any urinals. Combine this with the fact that a woman was at the sink, and you have a recipe for a quick heart attack. Moral of the story: pay attention to the little signs outside of public restrooms.
  • At the Houston Airport, I was amused to see a 50+ year old white man with his hair in cornrows as well as a cowboy wearing a denim trenchcoat. Interesting people, these Texans. (I suppose both of them could read the signs outside of restrooms, though, so they have something on me.)
  • I finished Surprised by Joy. Good book, but not quite what I was expecting. It helped tremendously to flesh out many of Lewis's motivations for what he writes in his fiction and his nonfiction. It made me want to revise the thesis that I had written on Perelandra.
  • Reading a book on Covenant Theology, watching the Huskers play the National Semifinal Volleyball tournament on TV, and enjoying a Shiner Bock on tap--all at the same time at a restaurant in the Houston Airport! I was one happy delayed traveler at that point.
  • Having to leave the Omaha airport without my luggage--as of Saturday morning, I still don't have my stuff, but they are supposed to be delivering my bags to my home in Hastings some time today.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An Amusing Way to Spend an Hour

My Hermeneutics Final: "Write an interpretation of the biblical passage provided below. Include in your essay, among other things, attention to genre, context, structure, and biblical theology of the passage. You are limited to one hour and no more."

The passage? Isaiah 27:12-13:

12In that day from the river Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt the LORD will thresh out the grain, and you will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel. 13And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.
I was really glad that we didn't get something obscure.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blogger for James Bond; and, A Theology of Blogging

I just read a fascinating article in the Dec. 3, 2006 edition of New York Times Magazine called "Open-Source Spying," by Clive Thompson. (The abstract is on the internet here, but to read the whole article costs about $5. I would recommend going to a library if you want to read this--most libraries would carry the NYT Magazine.)

The main point of the article was that the United States' intelligence community is moving away from covert operations and classified secrets; instead, the tactics of terrorists (our main enemies these days) are forcing CIA spies, FBI agents, intelligence analysts, and a host of other government employees to collaborate what they are learning in government blogs and wikis (a wiki is a web page that allows anyone to update information on any given subject, like on Wikipedia). The rationale is that information is now too spread out and too rapidly moving for older methods of gathering intelligence:

Beat cops in Indiana might be as likely to uncover evidence of a terror plot as undercover C.I.A. agents in Pakistan. Fiery sermons printed on pamphlets in the U.K. might be the most valuable tool in figuring out who's raising money for a possible future London bombing. The most valuable spy system is one that can quickly assembly disparate pieces that are already lying around--information gathered by doctors, aid workers, police officers or security guards at corporations.

The premise of spy-blogging is that a million connected amateurs will always be smarter than a few experts collected in an elite star chamber; that Wikipedia will always move more quickly than the Encyclopedia Britannica; that the country's thousand-odd political bloggers will always spot news trends more quickly than slow-moving journalists in the mainstream media. (p. 101-102)

Obviously, there are technical and privacy issues for such systems (for example, how do you separate the information on declassified, Secret, and Top Secret wikis?), and such systems fly directly in the face of a long-standing "Need to Know" policy in these agencies. The article readily admits that these systems have a long way to go.

However, my main interest in this article relates to the reason I am again interested in blogging. I had gone through a huge slump--the six month silence on this blog testifies to that statement. It wasn't until I realized how important blogs have been in the formation of much of my theology and general interests that I wanted to start posting again. In other words, it wasn't until I could see the value in posting that I could justify the massive amount of time that blogging consumes.

Why not simply rely on books, which are generally more credible than blogs? In a book, I can hear someone's thoughts on a particular subject; the problem is that I can't interact with what they say. With blogs and wikis, anyone is free to ask questions, point out flaws in arguments, or offer vitally different perspectives. This type of collaborative thinking takes seriously the notion that no one individual is infallible.

Certainly, this method opens the floor to fools as well as to the wise, but that reminds me of something G. K. Chesterton wrote. Although I can't remember the exact quote (perhaps it was in Orthodoxy?), his point was that Christians believe in democracy not because we have a high opinion of human nature, but because we have a low opinion of it. We cannot trust any one person with a lot of power because that person can be easily corrupted (Total Depravity!); instead, we split the power among many who will, in theory, hold each other accountable.

In theory, this is the way the world of blogs works. A vast range of people post, and, over time, the best ideas rise to the top--the others end up somewhere in the middle or at the bottom. Instead of giving any one person the power to present his thoughts and beliefs, the entire world has that opportunity. Certainly, the best writers might have the larger readership, but that in no way stops anyone else from continuing to write, potentially making an enormous contribution at some point in the future.

As for me, even if very few people end up reading what I write, and even if what I write amounts to very little, I humbly offer my thoughts to the blogosphere in the hopes that what I write might sharpen others, and that what others write might sharpen me. Of Bald Men and Bears might not ever stop a terrorist plot, but perhaps God will use some of this, somehow, in bringing about someone's salvation and/or sanctification.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 08, 2006

Say Hello to My Little Friend!

My Little Friend
Originally uploaded by jacobgerber.
This post could alternately be titled, "Reasons NOT to Live in Alabama." Large, flying cockroaches are as common down here as flies. Also, I guess the winter season doesn't kill them off--apparently they simply hide indoors. Perhaps this is the reason that an exterminator comes into our apartment on a monthly basis?

When I went into the kitchen this morning to make my coffee, this little guy was there to greet me. I went to get some Kleenex to grab him with the intent of flushing him down the toilet, but then I had the brilliant idea of taking a picture of him to share with the world. So, here he is--I think that I'll call him Mike.

Just so you know the end of the story, as I was fiddling around with my camera, Mike escaped. I did not see where he went, but maybe we will get to meet again some day.

By the way, this blog post is dedicated to my mother, who loves all living creatures and has a special place in her heart for cockroaches.

EDIT: (12/9/06, 11:56 a.m.)
I found Mike last night and flushed him down the toilet. I guess ours was a short-lived friendship.

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Reading List

Over every break, I try to maximize my reading by having a plan in advance. Breaks are the best (not necessarily the only, but the best) time to read books that don't make class reading lists. So, for the Christmas break, here is my list (in order of probable reading):

  1. Surprised by Joy, by C. S. Lewis. This is one of the few nonfiction apologetic works by Lewis that I have not yet read. Also, I bought a copy for $.50 from the Samford Library, so it's been burning a hole in my bookshelf.
  2. God of Promise, by Michael Horton. This is a short book on covenant theology. I deemed it worth reading because I saw a good review of it awhile ago, and covenant theology is always worth studying. It should make good airplane reading.
  3. Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis. I read this two years ago, and it just didn't click for me. This bothered me because it was Lewis's favorite, so I want to give it another shot.
  4. The City of God Against the Pagans, by Augustine. I started to read this over the summer and had to quit because the semester started. I was about 400 pages into it and just about to get to the good stuff, so I'm looking forward at finishing it.
  5. Any suggestions for a wildcard book?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bethlehem Baptist Update

Awhile ago, Andrew and I wrote about how Bethlehem Baptist (John Piper's church) was considering dropping their requirement of being believer-baptized for becoming a member of the church. Apparently, that proposal has now been withdrawn. Here is a link to John Piper's explanation of the current situation and the reason for withdrawing the proposal.

Mostly, the congregation greatly disagreed with the concept, and because of this, some of the elders who had previously agreed to the proposal changed their mind. Although there are no hard feelings, Piper still hopes that, at some point in the future, his church might implement this policy.

Personally, I find this unfortunate. I really liked the idea that Baptists would begin a policy where they insisted that their elders and pastors affirm their distinctive theology of baptism, but that they would also allow like-minded (in all other things) Presbyterian types to join their congregations. To my understanding, the Presbyterian Church in America insists that its elders, pastors, etc..., affirm the Westminster Confession of Faith (which includes provisions for infant baptism), but nevertheless allows people with a Baptist theology of baptism to join their churches. (Am I wrong about this?)

Hopefully, our brothers and sisters at Bethlehem Baptist will soon implement this idea and begin a trend among Baptist--especially Reformed Baptist--churches. Even more so, I genuinely hope that Baptists and Presbyterians will increasingly unite for the cause of the gospel in the coming decades. I see John Piper's proposal as a concrete way to jump-start that process.

Labels: , ,


Originally uploaded by ahansen54.


Reasons to live in Alabama

Reid Chapel in the Fall
Originally uploaded by jacobgerber.
Samford has some gorgeous architecture, like Reid Chapel in this picture. Also, Alabama has a gorgeous autumn, like the background in this picture. I miss Nebraska a ton, but I suppose that a change of scenery for a couple of years never harmed anyone, right?

By the way, as a shameless plug, there are more photos of Alabama's autumn and Samford's architecture in my Flickr photostream.

Labels: ,

Ark of the Covenant

Am I the only person who has never realized that the ark of the covenant is so called because it is "the ark, in which is the covenant of YHWH that he made with the people Israel" (2 Chron 6:11)? Specifically, that "There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where YHWH made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of Egypt" (2 Chron 5:10). So, the ark's covenant is the ten commandments written on the two tablets.

I guess I had always thought of the phrase "ark of the covenant" to mean that the ark itself was the thing that was "of the covenant," not that the "covenant" was something in the ark. Am I alone on this?

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Football Threat Level: Red (Severe)

Nebraska will be facing Auburn in the 2007 AT&T Cotton Bowl. Auburn is a good team, and it should be a good game. Nebraska and Auburn have matched up three times (last game played in 1982), and Nebraska won each of those games. As a perk, my family will be heading to Dallas to watch the game in person.

My only problem: Auburn is in Alabama. I live in Alabama right now, attending Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham. Alabamians take their football very seriously. If the Huskers lose--a definite possibility considering that we are facing the nation's 10th-ranked team as we come off an emotionally draining loss--I will never hear the end of it.

On the other hand, if we win, I will be the best friend of every fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Auburn's arch-enemy, the other half of the country's biggest in-state rivalry), and I will be able to wear my Husker apparel a little more proudly during the next few years.

We had better win this game.

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Big 12 Championship Post-Game Thoughts

This was a very tough loss for me. I really thought that we would win the game, but we had a lot of things working against us.

Problem #1:
We don't have a secondary. (I had written something in anger, but I deleted it. I'm just going to leave my statement at that.)

Problem #2:
We lost Brandon Jackson. I think we saw tonight how much our offense relies on his play-making abilities, both as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield. We had some really good success on two screen plays when we put Marlon Lucky in, but I think that we would have had a better likelihood to score again if we had a healthy Brandon Jackson.

Problem #3:
Zac Taylor played uncharacteristically. I am a huge Zac Taylor fan, and this game won't change my opinion of him. Yes, he threw three interceptions (two of which were touchdowns, if completed), but he had only thrown four this year before this game. He had a bad night, but I still think that he has been an incredible quarterback for the Huskers. I will be sorry to lose him next year, and I was sorry that he couldn't pull out a victory over his childhood team.

Evaluation of my prediction:
Obviously, I was wrong on the score count, and I underestimated the Oklahoma defense and overestimated our secondary; however, we played very good defense against a very good rushing team. If you ignore the secondary, our defense played lights out football. To hold the team ranked 14th nationally in rushing (averaging 188.67 yards of rushing per game) to a mere 42 yards is lights-out football. We simply didn't produce offensively.

Most angry moment:
That Chevrolet gave both player of the game awards to Oklahoma players. I have never seen that happen before, even in huge blow-outs. Isn't the point to give the award to the best player from each school? Did I miss something? Certainly the award could have gone to one of our defensive lineman--they had a great game.


Life in Germany

Originally uploaded by ahansen54.
I have no idea where to begin summarizing the last six months or so since I stopped blogging. For those who don't know, I'm living in Göttingen, Germany for the year, studying on a Fulbright grant. I have a research project on nineteenth-century German Protestantism, but right now I'm just concentrating on learning German. I follow Jacob's lead and just list some thoughts:

I'm probably stating the obvious, but long-distance relationships are hard. Bethany and I are constantly confronted with the difficulties of an engagement separated by 6000 miles. Still, it's been challenging in a good way and we've grown tremendously in our communication abilities. We can really say that we're closer now than we ever have been. She visited for a week in October, which was wonderful, and now we're counting down the days (17) till I come home for Christmas. And June can't get here soon enough.

German is difficult. For some reason I thought I'd pick things up faster and be very comfortable by Christmas. I know I've learned a lot since coming in August (considering I could barely form a German sentence then) but I'm constantly realizing how much I have yet to learn. Learning German is my primary goal for the year, and while speaking is important, the main thing is learning to read German, since that's what I need most for intended graduate study.

No longer having mom or the dorms to cook for me, my options were either learning to cook for myself or microwave dinners and restaurants for the year. I opted for the former, especially given that it will be a useful skill to have once married. As with the language, I'm a slow learner, but I also find it quite rewarding. So far my experience has been limited to Italian-ish dishes, and the oven still scares me. I tried a red curry once but it was a little out of my league. But I can now cook the following quickly sans recipe:
-Pasta w/ Arrabiata Sauce
-Pasta w/ a Garlic Olive Oil Sauce
-Pasta w/ Tomato Sauce
-Salmon w/ Oregeno and Lemon
-Chicken breast w/ vegetables and gouda cheese

The City
Göttingen is a small-ish university city of around 130,000, with around 30,000 students. The city is built around the oldest part of town, the Innenstadt, a circular tangle of old steets and buildings surrounded by the old city walls, most of which are still intact. I love the Innenstadt because of the historic buildings and winding, narrow streets, so it's great that I live just a five minute walk from the heart of it.

Cultural Differences
-Because the built environment is much more walkable/bikeable in Germany, Germans are much more active in their daily life. Most people walk or bike whereever they're going rather than drive. This means less overweight Germans, and I think is a huge advantage of German urbanism over American suburbanism.
-Germans are more direct in their speech than Americans. They'll just tell you what they want without politely trying to hint at it, the way we sometimes do. I suppose that's both good and bad.
-Recycling is mandatory. Every house has about four or more trashcans with different rules for what can go in each. Despite the hassle, it's good and America could learn something here.

Obviously, there's lots and lots more to be said about my experiences in Germany, but I leave it at that for now.

Labels: , ,

J. I. Packer

I blogged earlier about the conference held in September at Beeson Divinity School, the "J. I. Packer and the Future of Evangelicalism" (read more about the conference here). I just noticed on Beeson's website that they are offering a free mp3 file of Packer's comments at the end of the conference. I highly recommend that you listen to it--in this, he sums up his life's work and offers guidance for he sees as the church's greatest need right now. It was, by far, the highlight of the conference.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 01, 2006

Big 12 Championship Pre-Game Thoughts

I wish that I could remember the time when the Nebraska-Oklahoma game was the game of the year. So, all I really know is that this is a great matchup on paper. The game tomorrow will be Nebraska's great offense against Oklahoma's great defense; on the flip-side is Oklahoma's decent offense against Nebraska's decent defense.

The vast majority of sportswriters think that Oklahoma is going to win the game, but I don't think that they understand just how much Nebraska wants to win. Certainly, Oklahoma wants to win the game, which would give them their fourth Big 12 Championship (OU has three, while Texas and Nebraska have only two apiece) and put them in the BCS Fiesta Bowl against Boise State, but I think that it's bigger for Nebraska. We haven't even won the Big 12 North since 1999, and it has been a long seven years since.

In my mind, the bottom line is that Nebraska is going to want a victory more than Oklahoma. That could cause us to play lights-out football, or it could cause us to be jittery and make stupid mistakes. I tend to think that we will mainly do the former, with a few slip-ups into the latter. Nebraska 27, Oklahoma 20.
EDIT (12/2/06, 6:10 a.m.): Tom Shatel of the Omaha World Herald has a great article about today's game here. You will need a login and a password to access it, which you get get from Bug Me Not.


Semester in (Brief) Review

Beeson Divinity School
Originally uploaded by jacobgerber.
As of today, I am almost completely finished with my classes for the semester--I only have two classes left to attend on Tuesday. In all, my first semester of seminary has gone almost frighteningly quickly. Here is an attempt to quickly recap the semester.

My classes: Hermeneutics (how to study the Bible), Hebrew, Old Testament Survey, Church History, Spiritual Formation, and Introduction to Theological Studies (essentially a library course).

Favorite class: Tough call, but probably Old Testament Survey. We covered Genesis through Esther this semester, and my professor did a wonderful job of showing the context, theological emphases, and preaching points of each of the books.

Best class: Hebrew. For quite some time, I have dreamed of reading the Old Testament in its original language. I still can't, but I'm a heck of a lot closer than I was. I cannot describe the satisfaction of reading my English Bible only to wonder what exactly the text is trying to convey, and then to be able to look up the original text and usually get a pretty good idea. I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I have an infinitely better sense of how the Old Testament works than I ever did. Oh, and my professor for Hebrew is a stud--we use the grammar that he wrote.

Biggest eye-opener: The fact that I know nada about church history. Good grief, I was embarassed to find out how deeply the roots my ignorance grew regarding what all happened in the church before the Reformation. This will need to change for me, and when I have a church, I am determined to make sure that my congregation learns at least something about church history.

Best seminary activity: The "J. I. Packer and the Future of Evangelicalism" conference held at Beeson on September 25-27 of this year. The speakers included Mark Dever, Chuck Colson, Richard John Neuhaus, James Earl Massey, and J. I. Packer himself. Perhaps I will have time over Christmas vacation to review my notes and blog some impressions that I gained from the conference. A-maze-ing.

Earliest morning: 2:30 a.m. Even for those of you who know that I am an early riser, that could be a shocker. Actually, it wasn't too bad.

Latest night: 1:30 a.m. I stayed up late finishing a big paper on the development of baptism within the early church. The only problem with staying up that late was that I did it on the same day that I had gotten up at 2:30 that morning--I pulled a 23-hour day. I think I almost died, but for the grace of God.

Quick lessons/recap:
  1. The books of Chronicles can blow your mind--you just have to read them correctly.
  2. Important things happened between Jesus and John Calvin. Honestly.
  3. Don't drink too much coffee in the afternoon, even if you had to get up really early that morning.
  4. Nebraska is indisputably my favorite place on earth.

Labels: , ,