Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hunted Down

I have derived much spiritual benefit from Dr. David P. Murray's sermons. Though the Scottish accent does certainly please my ears a lot, and though his able use of alliteration in sermon titles and sermon points further serve this, it is his keen exegesis and application that have brought the Gospel home to me over and over again in times of need.

In his latest blog post, insightfully entitled, "God's been hunting me down," he bares his heart wide open, reflecting on the ways God has been dealing with him lately through physical affliction. He realizes that he has been pushing his body to its physical limits and, though he has certainly helped a lot of people through his fervent activity (I've never chanced upon anyone else with as much sermons as him on sermonaudio.com), he acknowledges that he has erred by having engaged in "ministry without spirituality."

Read the post here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Divorce: Always Disallowed?

Mention "divorce" to the common "born-again" evangelical and you most likely will be greeted with raised eyebrows, dilated pupils, an elevated heart rate, and a hasty blurting out of the following verse: "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate" (Mark 10:9).

But is divorce really absolutely disallowed for the Christian? Are there not instances wherein Scripture permits the dissolution of marriage?

My pastor, Rev. Nollie Malabuyo, sheds crucial light on this very sensitive and important matter: No Divorce: Only in the Philippines…

Dispelling Some Misconceptions on Van Til's Apologetics

The following 2-part series by Richard L. Pratt, Jr. of Third Millenium Ministries, which aims to dispel the various misconceptions about Cornelius Van Til's apologetics, is a very profitable read.

If you've encountered folks who've proposed that Van Til's method is in opposition to magisterial Reformed thought, then the information contained below will help you in giving an apt reply.




Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Blows Beckon Us Back

"It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes" (Ps. 119:71).

Why is it that something which would be absent in future glory be deemed by the Psalmist as something good?

Because suffering brings us back to God. It is reality on a megaphone blaring in our ears, "Creature!" It puts us in our rightful place—close to God, in a relationship of humble and grateful dependence on Him for everything pertaining to our well-being: "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Ps. 34:18).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Layne Staley Replies to Cornelius Van Til

"It is not difficult to see that the Christian position requires the apologist to challenge this whole approach in the interest of the knowledge of the truth. If man's necessarily discursive thought is not to fall into the ultimate irrationalism and skepticism that is involved in modern methodology, we must presuppose the conception of the God that is found in Scripture. Scripture alone presents the sort of God whose intuition of system is not bought at the price of his knowledge of individuality, and whose knowledge of individuality is not bought at the expense of intuitional knowledge of system. But such a God must really be presupposed. He must be taken as the prerequisite of the possibility and actuality of relationship between man's various concepts and propositions of knowledge. Man's system of knowledge must therefore be an analogical replica of the system of knowledge that belongs to God" (Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics [New Jersey: P & R, 2003], ed. William Edgar, 158).

Or else one is forced to agree with Layne Staley that:

No Pastor, No Sanctification

Thabiti Anyabwile makes a laudable case, based on statistical data, for the predicament that afflicts many pastors. He states:

"Work long hours in a job with too many demands for too little pay. Many have the wrong skills and the wrong expectations. Families being pressured and battered. Pastors are discouraged and depressed. No friends, serious conflict once a month, and people who will not follow. Is it no wonder so many quit so soon?"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

That Cosmic Slap in the Face

God's desire for His perfections to be reflected analogically in His creatures is no manifestation of divine hubris but the state of affairs as it must be in a universe with a Creator and the created—and a universe of another kind does not exist!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Lutheran Lady Speaking the Truth

"Lutherans have a special understanding of vocation. It's not limited to one's job but every single relationship I have, including parent, child, friend, neighbor, parishioner and citizen. It's any position in which I am the instrument through which God works in the world.

So, for instance, God heals us by giving us doctors and nurses. He feeds us by giving us farmers and bakers. He gives us earthly order through our governors and legislators, and he gives us life through our parents. God is providing all these gifts -- but we receive them from our neighbors.

Luther wrote that fathers should not complain when they have to rock a baby, change his diaper, or care for the baby's mother, but instead should view each act as a holy blessing. Everything we do in service to others is a holy blessing" (Mollie Hemingway, Credo: Mollie Hemingway, italics mine).

Ain't it the truth? ;-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Camping-Finney Connection

May 21, 2011 came and went, the sands of time still trickle down, redemptive history is still playing out, Harold Camping has once again been proven a false prophet, and the status quo has been maintained—or has it?

If Christianity is painted with a broad brush (as it usually is by those antagonistic to it), then the latest Camping episode might prove to be another color option in the palette of the perceived untenability of Christianity.

It's bad enough that true, historic, catholic, biblical, and Reformed Christianity has Finney's fiendish formula to contend with, but with the massive media coverage that this latest Camping debacle has generated, it would not be difficult to see that more hardening and darkening are inevitable.

Friday, May 20, 2011

"God Doesn't Give a Pat Answer About Contraception"

Another fine, Christian and Reformed resource on the issue of contraception, brought to my attention by Ptr. Wes Bredenhof:

Also available here

And another by my pastor, Rev. Nollie Malabuyo: How Should Christians View Birth Control?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Contraceptives: The Balanced, Christian View

The RH bill is currently the rave in Philippine news. Celebrities flank both sides of the debate, with Manny Pacquiao adopting the con side.

What does a balanced, Christian view on contraceptives look like? Read on:

"'May Christians use birth control?' That is our question for tonight’s question box. I take it for granted that this question has married Christians in mind; to ask this question in any other context is to presuppose sin. So, may Christians who are married use birth control without sinning or otherwise dishonoring God? This is an emotional issue to many people, so I will try to be especially sensitive in my handling of it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vos on the Difference Between Eschatological Faith and Justifying Faith

The Lord Jesus Christ exercised eschatological faith but never justifying faith. The Christian exercises both.

More below:

"The chapter from which our text is taken is preeminently the chapter on faith. It illustrates the nature, power and effects of this grace in a series of examples from sacred history. In the context the prophecy of Habakkuk is quoted: 'The righteous shall live by faith.' We remember that in the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians also the same prophecy appears with prominence. Abraham similarly figures there as the great example of faith. In consequence one might easily be led to think that the development of the idea of faith in these epistles and in our chapter moves along identical lines. This would be only partially correct. Although the two types of teaching are in perfect accord, and touch each other at certain points, yet the angle of vision is not the same.

Hawking Folly: Caveat Emptor

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Ps. 53:1).

Ethically, it is as foolish to deny the existence of God as it is to engage in self-deception, denying that which one knows to be true in a wicked refusal to come to grips with what one's heart, mind, and environment are screaming to be true. Lying to oneself is indeed stupid. Romans 1:18-22.

Epistemologically, truth values necessarily depend on predetermined categories. That is to say, knowledge of particulars depend on knowledge of universals. Concomitantly, knowledge of universals depend on knowledge of particulars. Epistemological perichoresis. For any of this to make sense, consistency is required. Scientists refer to the "laws" of the universe. The conundrum is that science fails to account for why these laws must consistently function in the way that they do. The ground for consistency is absent when looked for empirically. Hence, there is no escaping the God by whom "all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him" (Col. 1:16). Attempting this escape is folly.

Metaphysically, objects could not be recognized for what they are without the consistency required by this recognition. This is indissolubly related to the epistemological point. Being, created/finite being, is not something arbitrary but derived (cf. Acts 17:28). Try to imagine what non-being looks like, feels like, tastes like, smells like, sounds like.....OK, stop! It's foolish, it can't be done.

What does someone engaging in ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical folly look like? Find out here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Natural Law = Decalogue" — Calvin

"Natural law was promulgated by God at creation and implanted in the human consciousness. We only know God because he has revealed himself, but he has revealed himself to us from the very beginning. Thus to say that a law is natural is to say that it is revealed in and constitutional to creation.

In the Institutes, he (Calvin) equated explicitly natural law to the Decalogue. At the beginning of his exposition he said 'that interior law' (lex illa interior) 'which we have described as written, even engraved upon the hearts of all, in a sense asserts the very same things that are to be learned from the Two Tables.' In book four, discussing civil polity, Calvin made the same point.

It is a fact that the Law of God which we call the moral law is nothing less than a testimony of natural law and of that conscience which God has inscribed upon the minds of men. Consequently, the entire scheme of this equity of which we are now speaking has been prescribed in it.

Far from being a conduit of the Classical or Thomistic view of the lex naturalis Calvin made a very sophisticated revision of the concept of natural law by removing it from the Stoic and Thomistic corpus of 'self-evident' truths and identifying it with the content of the Law revealed in the Garden and at Sinai and in the Sermon on the Mount" (R. Scott Clark, Calvin on the Lex Naturalis, Stulos Theological Journal [6/1-2, May-Nov 1998], 17-18, italics original).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

If Not Calvin, Then Who? Yourself?

I found the picture above on FB, posted by an Arminian who started an FB group about refuting Calvinism (or something to that effect).

What the picture seems to be saying is that Calvin's massive theological contribution to the Body of Christ was, and is, a source of idolatry among its adherents. What this argument fails to realize is that: if not Calvin, then who?

No one approaches Scripture tabula rasa. No one can read and understand Scripture, at least as it should be read and understood, without the aid of the understanding of those who have gone before. This is not to say that Scripture is not perspicuous, it simply is a testament to the nature of knowledge. The relationship of induction and deduction in epistemology is perichoretic. One's understanding of fact must necessarily be based on an already-established conceptual system to which that fact belongs, and conceptual systems are established based on gathered facts.

In reality, what this picture is merely saying is that "I am the source of all valid knowledge; I am autonomous and, with me and my Bible, I'm ready to go places!" It actually implicates the self as both the subject and object of idolatry in its misdirected stab at Calvinism.

From Mega, to Small, to Shallow

Found this hilarious vid over at Old Life:

While Bible study groups are often the seeds that grow into organized churches, the evangelical notion of the "small group" is quite a different entity altogether.

Mostly an aftermath of the megachurch phenomenon, wherein it is impossible for the pastor to know and be available for each and every member, the small group is the accommodated solution to the problem of pastoral inaccessibility.

A small group leader is selected, more often than not, based on some vague notion of "leadership" ability and charisma. Theological knowledge is preferred but not mandatory. Life experience is highly valued, and the more crises one has gone through, the greater one's eligibility.

This small group would be a closer-to-home caterer to one's "felt needs." Of course, there would be Bible lessons, but these would not be sessions of biblical exegesis, wherein the redemptive-historical import of passages are brought to the fore for knowledge, faith and life, as much as moralistic extrapolations designed to either scare you into action or woo you into an ear-to-ear smile. Sometimes, the time would just be spent gossiping.


Meeting together to study God's Word outside of the Lord's Day assembly is profitable. May more Reformed Bible studies blossom into Reformed churches, where the whole counsel of God is preached, the Sacraments are administered, and discipline is enforced.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cornelius on the Caveman's Club

While the unregenerate, the natural man, knows of the true God (not some notion of generic "deity", cf. Rom. 1:18-20) by virtue of being created in the image of God and by the testimony of the Decalogue engraved in the human heart, he suppresses this knowledge in wickedness, desiring autonomy and the liberty to judge metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical truth on his own terms.

In light of this, only the Reformed apologetic is meet for the task of toppling down these erections of hubris. Cornelius Van Til states:

"It is but to be expected that only in the Reformed faith will we find an uncompromising method of apologetics. Calvinism makes no compromise with the natural man either on his views of the autonomy of the human mind or on his views of the nature of existence as not controlled by the plan of God. Therefore Calvinism cannot find a direct point of contact in any of the accepted concepts of the natural man. He disagrees with every individual doctrine of the natural man because he disagrees with the outlook of the natural man as a whole. He disagrees with the basic immanentistic assumption of the natural man. For it is this basic assumption that colors all his statements about individual teachings. It is therefore this basic assumption of the natural man that meets its first major challenge when it is confronted by the statement of a full-fledged Christianity" (Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics [New Jersey: P & R, 2003], ed. William Edgar, 146).

Only the Reformed ray gun is capable of blasting away the club from the caveman's hands.



Calvin wrote the following letters after the death of his beloved wife:

To Farel, April 2, 1549:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

PCUSA's Ordained Queergy

The news is out of the closet: PCUSA has now broken down the "wall of hostility" against the ordination of gays to official positions in the church. They are now open to having a body of ordained queergy rule the Body of Christ.

What this means is that this denomination accepts those whom Scripture deems as outside the covenant (excommunicated by virtue of living in unrepentant sin) as meeting the qualifications set forth by Paul in 1 Tim. 3:1-7. Paul also says:

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

Those who will not inherit the kingdom of God can lead the present visible representation of the kingdom of God on earth?! NOT!

Calvin, in his commentary on the passage above, notes:

"By effeminate persons I understand those who, although they do not openly abandon themselves to impurity, discover, nevertheless, their unchastity by blandishments of speech, by lightness of gesture and apparel, and other allurements. The fourth description of crime is the most abominable of all — that monstrous pollution which was but too prevalent in Greece."

If I understand Calvin correctly, even the limp-wristed falls under the charge of homosexuality; and isn't it the case that the gay mannerism is universal, manifesting itself consistently across national and racial boundaries?

"Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town" (Matt 10:15). I wonder if it would be more bearable for PCUSA as well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Rolling Stones Were Onto Something

Despair is the friend of everybody. The day a human being first sees the light of the sun is the day he gives despair an all-access pass to his life. That's just the way it is this side of the Fall.

When Adam transgressed and violated the terms of the Covenant of Works, we were there transgressing with him, and it was no less than Van Til (and I believe Bavinck as well) who surmised that Adam was so inextricably linked to the rest of the created order that the Curse fell on the natural world just as it did on him. Every creature is in covenant with God by virtue of creation, mandated to reflect the glories and excellencies of God in analogical fashion.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What If Manny Pacquiao Was Reformed?

Another win for the Pacman and it seems like there's no end in sight. His boxing victories have made him a household name internationally, secured for him a position in the Philippine government as a Congressman, and fattened his wallet astronomically—so much so that to say he is wealthy is like saying Jughead loves hamburgers (ain't it obvious?! LOL).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Hard Road is the Happy One

It's a day away from Mother's Day, and though the article reproduced below is about a dad, I believe it captures well the spirit that animated my mom as she and my dad strove to provide the best kind of life that they could muster for me and my three younger sisters.

I think it would be no disrespect to my dad to say that it was my mom who was the hard-hitter in terms of finding out ways to come up with resources when perhaps the demand exceeded the supply. It was no small feat for them to have put me in the best school for boys in the country—perhaps, the whole of Asia (Xavier School, Greenhills)—and my three sisters in the best school for girls (Assumption Antipolo) when a middle class income would have rendered this close to impossible. To cut things short, me and my siblings were provided the best education possible and all of us now are in good, decent occupations. They may not be leaving us with an inheritance comprising of a hefty bank account when the time comes, but all that blood, toil, sweat and tears—especially my mom's—secured for us a happy future that we are living in today.

Thank you, Lord, for your providence in bringing me to the world through my mom!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Primer on Guido de Brès, Father of the Belgic Confession

After reading through his letter to his wife, and after having the fact of his faith that expressed itself in martyrdom hit home further, I now have a "man crush" on Guido de Brès.

Reproduced below is a brief biography:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Love Letter of All Love Letters: Guido de Brès to His Wife

This year marks the 450th anniversary of the framing of the Belgic Confession. This historic church document is unique in that it is the only one of its kind written by a martyr—Guido de Brès.

Knowing of his impending martyrdom, de Brès wrote a letter to his wife that I can only describe as probably the best love letter that I've ever read: God-glorifying, God-dependent, full of faith and assurance, full of Scriptural truths, and expressing the kind of selfless love that a husband must have for his wife (in imitation of Christ's love for His Bride, the Church).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Great Minds Think 2K

Given some of the anti-2K rhetoric floating around on the blogosphere in light of the recent eradication of the top Islamic terrorist kingpin, it is a ray of sunshine to see a great mind like Carl Trueman NOT failing to see the 2K import behind the headlines.

Trueman says, "I am a patriotic Englishman myself and, even as a resident alien, felt a flush of satisfaction when I heard about Sunday's special operation -- but it should have no place in the church...we need to make sure that national agendas and patriotism are checked at the church door."

'Nuf said!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gone Berserk on bin Laden

Still on the bin Laden issue, I'd like to showcase two blog posts that highlight the stark difference in opinion that inevitably ensues from a non-recognition and a recognition of the two distinct ways (two kingdoms) by which God rules the affairs of men, respectively.

First off, we have this post by James Jordan, a Federal Vision bigwig:

"Now, I have to say that I'm not happy with how Osama was killed. The Bible is fairly clear about this. If we look at the examples in Judges and how Samuel dealt with Agag, it is likely that Osama should have been captured, brought to Washington, and then stood up in front of the President. The President should have then said, 'In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, it is my privilege and joy as a minister of vengeance (Romans 13) to avenge my people.' After all, serving as God's avenger is surely a privilege and a joy, for serving in any calling is a privilege and joy. Then the President should have pulled out a .44 Magnum, which as you may know is the world's most powerful handgun, and blown Osama's head off. Yes, it's hard to imagine The Fool doing this, or even his predecessor. But it's what the Bible shows should have been done. It is his job, not the job of some soldier or underling."

Secondly, this one by Michael Horton, a proponent of 2K theology:

"Cultures are the most dangerous when they invoke holy texts for their defense of holy land through holy war. However, Christians have no biblical basis for doing this in the first place. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clearly abrogated the ceremonial and civil law that God had given uniquely to the nation of Israel. Now is the era of common grace and common land, obeying rulers—even pagan ones—and living under constitutions other than the one that God gave through Moses. As Paul reminds us in Romans 13, secular rulers are given the power of the temporal sword—finite justice—while the gospel conquers in the power of the Spirit through that Word 'above all earthly pow'rs.'"

I think even the light of nature would move the cursory reader to conclude that the former position, the one of Jordan, is a bit wacko. Theologically, though, it loses even more ground. Kim Riddlebarger shares some of the basics of Two Kingdoms theology here, and Michael Horton answers some questions here.


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