Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Here I Stand

Here is a very clear statement explaining what it means to declare- In Statu Confessionis or Status Confessionis. I’ve borrowed this from our Lutheran brothers:

"To declare that one is in statu confessionis is to pronounce a state of confessional protest against an ecclesial entity which has become heterodox, such an entity being in violation of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. This declared critical state of affairs is a public, churchly, and confessional form of protest and is the most potent type of protest that can be made. To declare a status confessionis is a solemn and weighty matter. It is an exercise of the office of the keys.

To declare a state of confessional protest is something done for the sake of the saving Gospel of Christ. It is done pastorally in concern for the faith of those in error and for preserving the pure preaching of the Gospel and the right administration of the holy sacraments in the Church. It is intended to bring to repentance those who have fallen into false doctrine and errant practice.

This state of confessional protest is exhibited by severing fellowship with those in one's church body which teach false doctrine and those which support false teaching either actively in word and deed or by indifference or sticking one's head in the sand. The status confessionis means that pulpit fellowship is suspended provisionally with those pastors and church officials of one's own church body which propagate false doctrine either actively or through passivity (2 Thess. 3:13-15; Romans 16:17).

In addition to this, to declare a status confessionis means to cease and desist from all activities of word and deed which support the ministry of those within one's church body who are propagating false doctrine actively or by indifference. Finally, it should be noted that being in statu confessionis is only to be a provisional (transitional) condition in which the orthodox party remains under affliction until either full doctrinal orthodox is reached or is summarily rejected in unrepentance. It is not meant to be a permanent state of affairs - something which would be harmful if allowed to remain permanent."

Pray for those in Beaver-Butler and pray for The Presbyterian Church (USA).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Totally Outrageous

Sometimes one is forced to get down in the gutter with ‘em!

1. A news anchor at a FOX affiliate in Maine has received “hate mail and nasty phone calls” from viewers who think she bears a striking resemblance to the Republican vice presidential nominee. Hate Mail
What better reason to sit down and go to all the trouble to write a good piece of hate mail than the fact that someone looks like Sarah Palin. Must be an Ivy League grad! Naw, even they wouldn’t do that!

2. Palin Syrah, a 100 percent organic wine from Chile, has seen sales take a hit in a San Francisco wine bar since McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin Syrah
Well, at least “Obama Waffles”...are selling like hot cakes. Great for the economy! Thanks for waffling, Barack. Waffles

3. Chevy Chase on SNL’s Tina Fey portrayal of Sarah Palin: "I thought it was extraordinary how well she played her and much she looked like her, I'd like her, personally i felt we didn't need the Hillary stuff, I'd like her to go even harder. I want her to decimate this woman. This woman, I can't believe there hasn't been more about it... It's just unbelievable to me this woman is actually running for vice president." (Chevy Chase, exact quote) Chevy Chase

Would someone please inform this Hollywood elitist (sexist) that many folks can’t believe he made all those movies without an iota of acting ability. Wait...they already have. Johnny Carson once declared, “He couldn't ad lib a f--- (gas expulsion) after a baked-bean dinner!" Remember, he was the one that tied the dog to the bumper of the car and headed for California. What do you expect outta him?

4. Sarah Palin has five children. She is nursing her fifth child, an infant with Down syndrome. Her 17-year-old unmarried child is pregnant. Palin has spoken against sex education or the teaching of contraception. When her water broke with her Down Syndrome baby she got on a plane and flew eight hours back to Alaska, making it only hours before the birth, a risky decision for a pregnant woman of any age. After delivering one child she went back to work the next day. After the birth of her fifth child, she was back in the office after a few days. (Sally Quinn, Washington Post) Sally Quinn
Sally Quinn questions Sarah Palin’s judgment. Is she a governor or a mother? How many un-Governor-like statements about a woman can be made in only 7 sentences. I think Sally Quinn should get, at least, the coveted “Flying Fickle Finger of Fate” award given out by the Laugh In crew for dubious achievements. She gets my vote. Thanks for letting us know that McCain’s running mate has 1.) five children, 2.) one with Down syndrome, 3.) one pregnant, 4.) she teaches abstinence, 5.) when her water broke she went home, and 6.) finally...after giving birth she twice went back to work in a few days. I mean, after all how could anyone in their right minds even consider for a moment, after this atrocious behavior, voting for a woman like this. How? Would this be considered “multi-tasking” by Obama....an ability to do two or more things at once?

5. For all my concern about Bush's religious beliefs, and about his merely average grasp of terrestrial reality, I have never once thought that he was an over-the-brink, Rapture-ready extremist. Palin seems as though she might be the real McCoy. With the McCain team leading her around like a pet pony between now and Election Day, she can be expected to conceal her religious extremism until it is too late to do anything about it. Her supporters know that while she cannot afford to "talk the talk" between now and Nov. 4, if elected, she can be trusted to "walk the walk" until the Day of Judgment. (Sam Harris, Newsweek) http://www.newsweek.com/id/160080
Did Sam Harris mention anything about the religious extremism found at Obama’s long attended church? Obama, according to Sam Harris’ way of thinking, will evidently walk the walk of blaming the US for developing the “Aids” virus to kill African-Americans.

6. Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings on Wednesday warned two minority groups to beware of Sarah Palin because “anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks.” Hastings
It’s really hard to believe that this man would criticize anyone given the fact that his own party impeached him in 1988 for bribery and perjury. Wikipedia

Enough, already!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Government of the People

Election season seems to be a time about which James Madison in 1788 commented in the Federalist Papers...a time of political jealousy and insufficient virtue.

"As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government (that of a Republic) presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. (of government). Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self
government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another."
(James Madison Federalist Paper #55)

Notice that he also stated that there are "other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence." Those qualities and the recognition of them are foundational for our republican form of government. However, acknowledgement of those qualities by our candidates seem to be laid aside during the election season. Anything goes! One may search in vain amongst the candidates for any presupposition that would evince esteem or confidence in any but their own party or themselves. All the opposition are rascals and charlatans..worthy of no high office in the land. None, according to the other, have sufficient virtue to rule in our behalf.

In 1997, you may remember, a retreat in Hersey, Pa. was organized for members of congress in the attempt to instill a spirit of brotherhood by getting to know each other more intimately. It’s purpose was "to seek a greater degree of civility, mutual respect and, when possible, bipartisanship among Members of the House of Representatives in order to foster an environment in which vigorous debate and mutual respect can coexist." During election season...a time-out from civility has evidently been called. Let the name calling, back-biting, slanderous statements, foul languge, derogatory remarks, lies, half-truths, falsehood games begin. It makes you want to welcome the fact that perhaps, "only the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another. "

So what is a fair-minded member of the electorate to do? How can we sort it all out? Especially given the fact that the "main stream media" cannot be trusted. That’s a given in this day and age. Bias is rampant! The most trusted name in news, the most fair and balanced, the one with a fuller spectrum of news cannot be trusted..whoever it is. The bottom line is that our system of government requires involvement, if only in the fact that after attempting to sort out the information we go to the polling place and vote our values and our conscience. That’s the minimum. When it’s all over and the electorate has spoken..then what? As Christians here’s what:

Ro 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Ac 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
Job 12:23 He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again.

God is still in control! Daniel 4:35b.... and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Status Confessionis

Two groups, Beaver-Butler in Pennsylvania and San Diego Presbytery, in the Presbyterian (USA) denomination have essentially declared..status confessionis due to recent actions of the 218th General Assembly.. The term is new to me...but the concept is as old as Martin Luther, when he nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door.

In light of their declaration I have been reminded of one of my all time favorite quotes that has been frequently attributed to Martin Luther but comes from a great 19th century hymn writer, Elizabeth Rundle Charles:
"If I profess Christ with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point." (Elizabeth Rundle Charles, The Chronicles of the Schoenberg Cotta Family (Thomas Nelson, 1864)

Here is the definition of status confessionis that I have been able to glean from the internet:

status confessionis: "a state of confessing," is a dire situation in which the church must stand up for the integrity of the gospel and the authority of the Word of God it confesses. RZIM.org

Scriptural Basis for Status Confessionis (NASB)
2 John 1:9-11 - Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching,do not receive him in your house and do not give him a greeting: for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deed.

1 Corinthians 5:11 - I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.

Romans 16:17 - Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

Mark 6:11 - Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.

Titus 3:10: Reject a factious man after a first and second warning
Additionally...Ezekiel 33 and 34, Matt 18:6-9 and others.

In layman’s terms what has happened in this bold move, both groups have declared that the larger body (PCUSA) has departed from orthodoxy. "We discern multiple errors coming from the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that have breached covenanted confessional standing (Status Confessiones). These errors must be labeled and opposed lest we be guilty of failing to raise alarm or of leading "the least of His little ones astray." (Beaver-Butler group) The San Diego group is issuing their resolution in the form of an "overture" to the next GA meeting in 2010 to return to the interpretations held prior to the 217th GA.

Read the declarations and resolutions of both groups at the following links. I am proud to say that he Beaver-Butler group is continuing in the traditions as they were known when my father pastored the Park UP Church in Zelienople, Pa. in 1948-1950. "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." 2Th 2:15

Beaver-Butler Group
San Diego Presbytery” (see San Diego Resolution)

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Gospel Coalition

Following up with my blog entry on "The Great Commission" the following 7min 45sec video is an introduction to The Gospel Coalition. So far this coaliton is made up of a diverse group of pastors who intend to proclaim the "centrality" of the Gospel message. In this introductory video you will see John Piper, Tim Keller, Phil Ryken, Mark Dever, D.A. Carson, Thabiti Anyabwile and others. They have come together in an effort to encourage each other in preserving the past, rejoicing in the grace of God, helping each other in their visons, direction and leadership and for clarifying, celebrating and preserving the gospel as the "power of God unto salvation".

Browse the website & watch some of the other videos. I personally think this is a response to the "emerging church movement", although this term or this movement is not mentioned in any of the resources I have perused.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Waldmannspitze

I recently coined a brand new truism. You know...like, "does a bear sleep in the woods?" or "is the Pope Catholic?"...or "you can observe a lot just by watching"....that kinda’ stuff. This particular truism is rather an inside type truism to which only a limited number of people could really give a hearty "amen". So..this one will require a bit of a set-up.

Our associate pastor,..let’s call him Pastor Paul..’cause that’s his name, is a wonderful preacher who expounds the word of God with wisdom, understanding, humility, love, concern...AND with some wonderful "mountain climbing" illustrations. In fact, not a sermon goes by that does not contain at least one mountain climbing illustration. You see in addition to his deep love for the Lord, Pastor Paul...loves the mountains. Actually, I think it may be more than just love; it may actually be an obsession. J Gresham Machen wrote, "The only way to have the slightest inkling of what a mountain is is to walk or climb up it." I personally think this is Pastor Paul’s mantra. His religious formula. His deep desire. That is... to really know what God did when he created the mountains. Therefore, his free time is spent walking and climbing them and his sermons are sprinkled with the poignant illustrations of his mountain climbing adventures. And.... we are truly blessed to have ears to hear these wonderful stories along with his unique ability to relate it all to the truths of God’s Holy inerrant Word.

Which brings me to the truism. From this point on when asked about the veracity of any truth..you may simply say, "does Pastor Paul love the mountains?" Now, when they cock their head to the right or to the left as does a puppy dog when saying "huh?"..just have them surf over to A Reformed Layman’s Perspective for the explanation. They will be enlightened and I may gain a reader. However, I suspect it will be Pastor Paul...that will gain the readers...and rightly so! (link above) How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! (Isa 52:7)

Now, in this same vein let me relate to you that I am not a lover of the mountains. I have what might be called a "great fear of heights". (acrophobia) I have told others .... "I don’t care how high off the ground I get..just as long as I can touch it with one hand". I own a 28ft ladder that just scares me to death to think about getting that high off the ground.

I was in Germany in 1962 with the US Army stationed in a little village called Schwabach, which is about 10 miles or so South of Nürnburg. A coupla’ buddies and I made friends with a local who was a lover of the mountains. Günther, not unlike Pastor Paul, also had an obsession for climbing. He encouraged us to take a weekend excursion with him to do what could only be done near Nürnburg ..... "rock climbing" . Günther was an expert "rock climber". He was an officer in the German Army during the II World War stationed in the East with the "The Elite Gebirgsjager" (mountain corps) fighting against the Russians. Günther knows rocks & mountains...and knows how to climb them. What a guide we discovered, accidently. We spent Saturday climbing some of the easier rocks with Günther. We were beginning to get the hang of this now popular sport. Günther went first with the rope to find a secure spot where he could sit or stand and I came next with the rope tightly secured around my body climbing with finger and toe holds to the spot where Günther was. All during my climb if I were to slip and fall, Günther had the rope secured. My life was literally in his hands.

Once the summit or the top of the rock was reached if there was not an anchor eye already secured into the rock, Günther would pound into the nearest crevice an anchor eyelet and one end of the rope was fed through the eye and then both ends were allowed to evenly drop down the face of the rock. Now in 1962 we didn’t have harnesses or connected descender devices...we just had a rope. The rope was fed between the legs, brought up over the head and hung over the left shoulder and down the back and the rest hung down the face of the rock. In essence the body became a living pulley system that would allow easy descent. The top of the rope was held by the left hand and the right hand held the portion of the rope near the hips. Loosening the right hand grip would allow the body to descend down the face of the cliff as fast or as slowly as desired simply by tightening or loosening the right hand grip. Fun stuff when mastered, but putting the full weight of the body onto the rope and trusting the right hand rather than the left for security was unnerving to say the least.

Then came Sunday and "The Waldmannspitze". As long as I live I will never forget the name of this rock. It’s over there right this very minute, somewhere near Nürnburg...still laughing at me for my failure to climb it. The Waldmannspitze was not your ordinary rock. Ordinary rocks at least look climbable. This rock didn’t look climbable. Günther had been up and down this thing hundreds of times. The routine was the same. Günther would go first, find a resting spot, secure the rope and then I would follow. All went well with finger and toe holds straight up the face of this rock. Now straight up is one thing. I could handle straight up. Following the rope and the route that Günther took, I came to an area that didn’t continue straight up. This area jutted outwards and upwards at a 45 degree angle. It looked like there might be some finger holds, maybe I could get my hands into one of the crevices...but that would leave my entire body dangling in mid air dependent on my finger holds and on Günther’s ability to pull me up this 45 degree angle if I fell. It was here that I lost all faith in my own ability and in Günther’s to hold a 175 pound load 50 feet off the nearest landing...with nothing but jagged rocks to break a fall.

Now here was the next problem. Günther didn’t speak English. My buddies and I spoke enough German to order a beer...and maybe just a little more, two beers. Günther was up there somewhere at the other end of the rope and I was literally at the end of my rope. I froze. I couldn’t go on. This was it...as far as I was going. I hollered above..."Ich kan nicht weiter gehen!" (I cannot go further) Now maybe my German pronunciation wasn’t good; there is a difference between high German and low German...and Günther wasn’t responding. "Ich kan nicht weiter gehen!" ...again I shouted up the cliff. Finally I hear.."O ya..sie können" (Oh yes, you can) Again I shouted, "Ich kan nicht weiter gehen!". After about 15 minutes Günther loosened the rope so that I could descend via the same finger and toe holds that got me to that point. I failed. The Waldmannspitze won.

Forty six years of water have flowed under the bridge since that episode. Regrets? You bet! I would really rather write here and tell you that I conquered the Waldmannspitze....but I can’t. A life changing "kairos" moment? No. Not really. A great disappointment? Yes. Lessons learned: one can do a lot of things in this life that you think you can’t do. Do I remember the names of the rocks that I successfully climbed. Not in a million years....but I sure remember The Waldmannspitze. So you would ask me..."was it worth it to make the attempt and fail?" I have but one thing to say..."does Pastor Paul love the mountains?"

This is a photo, not of The Waldmanspitze..but of me climbing one of the forgotten rocks. (click photo to enlarge)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Great Commission

Make sure your denomination hasn’t broadened the definition of "evangelism" to include anything from lobbying congress to fomenting revolution in Third World countries. Evangelism is still: "joyfully sharing the good news of the sovereign God and calling people to repentance, to personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, to active membership in the church, and to obedient service in the world" What are your denominational contributions funding? It behooves us to know. (Based on Broken Covenant, Parker T Williamson, pg. 139)

Take a look at this interesting video on the "Great Commission":

(thanks to http://www.logosdor.com/ for video)