Friday, February 29, 2008

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 19)

Read the entire series of posts here.

One church I attended for about 8 months had what is known as "closed communion." This meant that only "formal" members, who had achieved formal, man-made membership status were allowed to participate in baptism or communion. Even though I was a convert to Christ and had all the visible outward signs of being a believer, this church wouldn't allow me to participate.

After my 8 months there, this church decided that it was time for somebody like me to pursue membership. They held an extremely high view of "membership." I had already been told that the church would make an excruciating examination of every detail of my life, which would last about 8 months, then after making a formal application to membership the congregation (members only) would vote on whether they thought I was Christian or spiritual enough to be allowed in. But, Jesus taught that Satan sowed tares among the wheat. Now, this church was going to allow tares in their midst to vote on who is wheat? Makes me wonder how much wheat is really there.

Anyway, one night at a prayer meeting I found out the reality of the whole thing. Two categories of prayer were always included, prayer for the unbelievers and prayer for the brethren. Well, this one night the church added a third category of people to pray for, the "unchurched." These were people who attended church every Sunday, were involved in everything, but had never committed to "formal membership." They were in a state of grave sin. So this group of people prayed fervently that night, including emotional pleas to God to right the sin of such people, fist pounding and all. How convenient it was that I was the only one there who fit such a category. They used a prayer meeting to preach to me about membership. The only thing they didn't mention was my name. Legalistic as the church was, this was the final straw. I left the church after that meeting, quietly and without telling anybody why. I was very dejected. Nobody even called to find out why I was no longer attending. I did receive one call from a friend about six months later.

Part 18 . . . . . . . . Part 20

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Baseball On The Radio!

Today marks the first radio broadcast of Giants baseball from spring training. One of the greatest joys of winter is listening to the first game. Oh, what a day. Can't wait!

A New Convert to Catholicism

Erik Twist, of Priests and Paramedics, part of my blogroll for a long time, has recently converted to Roman Catholicism. Read why here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pilgrims Pub

I found a website (by a Christian) that is dedicated to beer. Both its consumption and the doctrine of moderation. It is called Pilgrims Pub. (Hat tip to Abu Daoud). I'm adding it to my links.

John Armstrong - Friend

Today, I attended a seminar given by John Armstrong at City Church in San Francisco. I arrived early and got to talk to him before anybody else came in. It was a pleasure chatting with him. John is a gracious man who shares much with me in both theology and baseball. I consider it a privilege to consider him a friend.

Storm Fizzles

The storm that was didn't turn out very strong. The most intense storm in 15 years that was supposed to bring 75 mph winds brought only about 40 mph winds with a moderate amount of rain. That worked for me as I drove through the storm to San Francisco this morning.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

McIntyre's Tavern Is Closed

McIntyre's Tavern has poured its last pint. Andrew McIntyre has recently been ordained a priest in the Anglican church and has closed the Tavern. I'm not sure if those two things are linked, but I'm substituting another of his blogs in my blogroll, Veni Emmanuel.

What I Do For A Living

Just in case some of you don't know what I do for a living, here goes. I am an architect. Small "a." If I use a big "A", the State might find it a matter of "justice" to give me an orange jump suit and a new boyfriend. Anyway, I have neither a license (my firm may want this to change in the next few years) nor a degree. I'm probably one of the last ones to work my way up through the ranks with on-the-job experience counting for most of my being.

I work for a large firm. We do more than residential architecture, but we're the largest and most prestigious residential firm in all of Northern California. My specific task for the last three years is to be a plans reviewer. Just like a teacher takes a red pen to students' homework, so I take the red pen to sets of plans before they go out of the office to be built. Kind of a quality control. For twenty years I did drafting, creating the plans (i.e. blueprints), now I make sure others do it right. With a helpful attitude, of course. And they pay me to do it. So, there you have it.

Blogger Spell Checker Back On?

It seems my Blogger spell checker is back to working. I never found out why it wasn't, but I'll welcome it back.

Storm A-Brewin'

It's just starting to sprinkle right now. We're supposed to be hit today with the most intense rain storm in 15 years. Not the most rain or the longest in duration, but the most intense at the time it is falling. I can't wait. Mrs. Scott is now at the store and she can't wait either. I just hope the power stays on because Mrs. Scott has a stew on in the slow cooker for dinner.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 18)

Read the entire series of posts here.

One of the reasons I decided to do a series on church membership is due to my experiences with formal church memberships and how their straying from what the bible teaches can affect people's lives for the worse. As an example, after my conversion to Christianity it took four churches a total of two years to baptize me. It wasn't until this fourth church that I was even allowed to participate in the Lord's Supper. Allowed. Two of the first three churches I attended forbid both my baptism and my partaking of the elements - despite my being commanded by Scripture to do both - because I wasn't a "formal" member of their church.

Now one would think that a church would be more than happy to baptize a new convert to Christ. One would think that a church would be more than happy to commune with a fellow believer in Christ. What would possess a church to say to somebody, "we won't baptize you"? What would possess a church to say, "No, thank you, we don't want to break bread with you."? A church that thinks of a formal membership more highly than the life of believers, more highly than the sacraments, more highly than Jesus Himself. Why would a church make formal membership more important than the most important thing of all?

Part 17 . . . . . . . . Part 19

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse

The lunar eclipse was spectacular tonight. I don't know if I've ever seen a total eclipse. My six year old said it looked like an eyeball.

The Psychology Of The End (3)

A Different Kind Of Look At Eschatology

Many "ends" have come in the history of man. Many groups have predicted the end of the world. Other ends have been postulated, such as Y2K. People's behavior has radically changed as a result. Although Y2K wasn't the "end of the world" per se, many people stockpiled arms in bunkers in Montana or Idaho in waiting for the collapse of the government following the global failure of computer chips. My church gained a few families from a church up the road because their pastor moved his family to a bunker in Montana in mid 1999 and closed down the church. In December, I bought several months of canned goods to protect myself "just in case." In the year 999, people feared the end of the world because it was a thousand years since Christ came to earth.

In 1994, my first church, led by Harold Camping, had quite a shaking up as a result of Camping's end of the world prediction. He first made his prediction public in 1992. Many people did strange things while facing the end. Some people quit jobs, some people cancelled bible studies, some people out of jobs delayed getting new ones, some people gave huge sums of money to Camping's ministry - even entire life savings - to "get the gospel out" at the last minute. Although I wasn't at that church until the week after the prediction date, I heard plenty of stories about odd things. Just two days earlier, their church picnic had people giving tearful goodbyes to one another. Church leaders were up late at night answering phone calls from terrified parishoners. Some people dropped out of life after the end didn't occur.

In the bible, Paul warns Timothy that men named Hymenaeus and Philetus were teaching that the resurrection already took place and that it was upsetting the faith of some believers. The end has a powerful affect on people, so it should come as no surprise that one's view of eschatology can greatly affect how people live in the here and now.

(2) .

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why Is There So Much Evil In The World?

Because God lets each one of us do what we want to do. It's just that simple.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Psychology Of The End (2)

A Different Kind of Look at Eschatology

In my first post, I looked at how people change their behavior - sometimes even radically - when the end of a thing is approaching. Each of the examples I gave was for things where the timing of the end was generally known at the beginning. There are also things for which the end can come suddenly or unexpectedly. In life, we generally are born, go through childhood, become grownups with our own life, engage in a career, plan for retirement, retire, then eventually die. But a diagnosis of a terminal disease part way through life will change somebody's behavior radically. Some people quit their jobs to be with their families. In baseball, rain can threaten to bring the early end of a game. The team that is leading will hurry to get an official game in by completing the 5th inning, while the losing team will delay. Then, once the 5th inning is complete, the teams reverse their roles. Behavior changes with an unexpected facing of the end.

With regards to the end of the world and the return of Christ, Jesus tells us not only that we won't know the day or hour, but that we will not even know the times or seasons. I believe that God is wise enough to know human behavior, and if man knows the time of the end, he will most certainly change his behavior - radically. This is why God doesn't let us know. God has a plan of normal, routine behavior for us, and He wants us to stick to the plan that He laid out. If we know the end (really, if we think we know the end), we will change our behavior accordingly so that in anticipation of the end, we will change our focus from obeying God to obeying what we think about the end. We will have ceased to obey God. We will have changed from walking by faith to walking by sight. Next, I'll look at how this has fleshed its way out in history, including my personal history, and how different eschatological viewpoints affect our behavior.

(1) . . . . . . . . (3)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Psychology Of The End (1)

A Different Kind of Look at Eschatology

In sports, each team has a game plan. In football it might be to establish the run, then develop the pass, all the while controlling the line of scrimmage, field position and the clock. Following the game plan will result in victory. In baseball it might be to have the starting pitcher go six or seven innings, then turning it over to the bullpen to finish the game. In higher education, the student can have a game plan. Before the semester, he buys all his books. Then he studies hard, does all his homework and uses all of this to become familiar enough with the material to not only pass the midterm and final exams, but to get an "A." Living in a home with a yard might consist of mowing the lawn, painting and general maintenance. A game plan for these things consists of routine, repetition and consistency. But the game plan is best when it is a comprehensive one. One where all the situations are considered and can be addressed when faced. One that will not let small things grow into big problems.

But when the end of a thing is near, game plans and strategies change, sometimes radically. A team that is losing in the last minute of a football game will ditch all of its routine strategies and engage in acts of desperation, doing things it would never do at any other time of the game. With a runner on third early in a baseball game, the defensive team may concede the run to get an out. When it's the winning run in the 9th inning, both the infield and outfield are pulled in in a desperate attempt to get the out at home plate. A basketball team will purposely foul the other team in hopes that it misses the free throws in order to get the ball back. A hockey team will abandon its goalie for an extra offensive player to try to tie the game. A student will suddenly cram for finals. If a house is to be torn down to make way for a bigger project, the lawn won't get mowed. A graphics project with a deadline will result in long hours, plenty of coffee and scraps all over the floor at the last minute. Conversely, a team that is winning at the end of a game will be lazy and slow on purpose, substituting inferior players, etc.

The same things occur in real life with regards to eschatology. If somebody believes the end is really and suddenly near, life will be lived in a completely different manner, even if in desperation or laziness. In my next post, I will deal with this reality.

. (2)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Good Weather

There are usually those days in cold January where a short springlike weather spell sets in and there are 70 degree temperatures. Such was the case last year, but this year saw no such days. January was wet and cold and foggy. But last Friday, things warmed up and we've had several days in the 60's. Sitting in my car in the sun out at lunch is quite nice. It won't last forever, as it never does, and we'll have cooler weather sooner or later.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Spam and Telemarketing

Over the last few decades I've heard quite a bit of complaining about telemarketers. Over the last decade it's been about spam. There's an easy solution. If telephone numbers and email addresses were viewed as private property, an owner could post a "no trespassing" or "no soliciting" sign, and telemarketers and spammers could be held criminally liable for trespassing when they send their unwanted messages, with restitution owed the owner. Also, I'm surprised that phone companies and ISP's haven't taken to using passwords for everyday phone calls and emails. Maybe things are already this way and I haven't noticed. Or maybe phone numbers and email addresses really aren't private property after all. Anybody out there know?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Things Are Better Now?

I recently did a comparison of my life and living with that of my dad. The results are quite interesting and revealing of life in America today - or at least the San Francisco Bay Area.

He was 32 when he bought his current house. I was 40. He had what was considered a blue collar job, a cop. I am a senior level white collar professional, an architect. He started out as a traffic officer and never had a promotion. I started out on the low end and have had many promotions. He had a brand new three bedroom, two bath house built for him. I bought a 60 year old, two bedroom, one bath fixer upper. He got a single 30 year, fixed loan; I got two adjustable rate loans that are due to go market value in less than two years. I couldn't afford a fixed loan; it didn't matter anyway because I didn't qualify even though I have the highest credit rating anybody has ever seen. He lives in a more affluent community in central county in a peaceful neighborhood on a cul de sac; we live on the fringes of the county in a blue collar neighborhood two blocks from a major oil refinery. His house has twice the market value mine does, is already paid for and has a tenth of the property taxes.

I'm not so sure America is better off than it was forty five years ago.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Survey Results: Eschatological Anarchy

Thanks to all who replied to my survey on eschatology. I had no idea I would get the varied responses I did. A few observations are in order.

With one exception, each of the respondants had either some doubts or uncertainty about future events. I find it odd that many people I've known in my Christian life have reserved their most dogmatic sentiments for eschatology - for things that haven't even happened yet! Billy Goat admits switching positions, and Gene is looking into another view. Abu plays it safe with a historical creedal summary of givens. Me, personally, I'm on my fourth (or fifth depending on how you count them) different view of eschatology. I've held to dispensational pre-mil, a-mil (two varieties if you count Harold Camping's a-mil as different from traditional), historic pre-mil and now a variation on post-mil.

Bruce is very correct in stating that where one begins determines where one finishes. What is God's purpose for creating the earth and putting man here is a question whose answer will greatly affect one's view of eschatology. But a warning: the opposite is just as true. One's view of eschatology, if that view is putting the cart before the horse, can gravely affect one's view of life and purpose for living. It can even be greatly destructive. I have personal experience with such a view, and hope to soon share some of the important aspects on this blog.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Eschatology Survey

I'd like to survey my readers (regular or drive-by) as to which view of eschatology you hold. Are you Pre-Millenial? Amillenial? Post-Millenial? Preterist? Partial Preterist? Other? Combination? If you are Pre-Mil, are you dispensational (rapture, 7 year tribulation, 1000 year earthly reign) or historical (no tribulation, but Christ returns for 1000 year earthly reign)? I'd like to know. Thanks!

Sunday, February 03, 2008


In the single most devastating loss in NFL history, the New England Patriots fell short of the greatest season ever by the smallest of margins. Yet it was the greatest of margins. In an 18-1 season, there is only one game that is impossible to lose and the Patriots did the impossible. Their glory was reduced to an insignificant blip on the radar of the 2007 season. Congratulations to the New York Giants, wild card team that played every one of their playoff games on the road.

All the talk for two weeks about Tom Brady equaling Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana will be put off for at least another year. All the talk about the Patriots being among the greatest dynasties will fade for a while. It should never have been brought up. They are a full two Super Bowls and one hall-of-fame quarterback short of the 49er dynasty of 1981-1995. The 49ers won five Super Bowls and had two hall-of-fame quarterbacks, Joe Montana and Steve Young.

It was a great game down to the last play, which made the game worth it by itself. On a side note, I wasn't sure who I wanted to win before the game. But with the opening kickoff, I started cheering for the Giants. I'm tired of the wrong Giants winning a championship. Pitchers and catchers report soon.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

All About Me

Here's all about me that I want to show on this blog: [updated 02-03-08]

Steve Scott is a first and last name, not two first names.

There are fully a third as many Scotts as Joneses in the phone book.

I am almost 44 years old.

I have blond hair and blue eyes.

I am married with three boys, the first two adopted and the youngest born to my wife.

We have been married seven years, but first met in 1983.

I was born, raised and live in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. I have moved 14 times, yet never more than a few miles from my birth place.

I was born with a tooth, had it pulled when I was one day old, and had the same dentist for the first 40 years of my life.

My parents still live in the house I was born into.

I am a European mutt, a quarter German-speaking Swiss, then English, Irish, German, Swedish and pre-Soviet Lithuanian.

I am a direct descendant of a slave in the colonial South. A Swedish ancestor, servant to the king of Sweden, studying in London in the late 1600's was kidnapped and sold into the American slave trade. (Am I a prime candidate for reparations?)

I attended college at UC Berkeley in the early 80's, majoring in chemical engineering. I dropped out during my fourth year.

I am now an architect with 20 years experience with no formal schooling.

I converted to Christianity in 1994 when I was 30 years old.

I attend a non-denominational church which claims to be baptistic and Reformed.

I served as a deacon for four years.

I am a lifelong baseball fanatic, a fan of both the San Francisco Giants (life) and Oakland A's (until '95).

I like the Oakland Raiders (life) and San Francisco 49ers (until their fans became "phony whiners" shortly after their first Super Bowl win.)

I played Little League and high school baseball.

My favorite movie is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

My favorite place to visit is my wife's favorite place to visit - San Diego. We didn't even discuss where to enjoy our honeymoon.

[Updated 02-03-08] I jog two miles every day.

My favorite cuisine is Mexican. I like Indian, too, but seldom get to enjoy it. I use hot sauce daily.

I love beer. My favorite is Guiness Stout.

I live in Martinez, California, birthplace to Joe DiMaggio and the cocktail known as the Martini.

Blogger Spell Checker Disabled?

Any others who use Blogger have their spellchecker stop working in the last few days? How about the ability to attach an image?

Stupor Bowl

I'm trying to ignore as much Super Bowl hype as possible. It makes it easier to enjoy the game once it appears. When I was younger, we used to use the halftime show as an opportunity to go outside and toss the football around. My oldest is now six, so maybe I could start a tradition with him (my three year old can join in) and play football during halftime.

I'm torn on the outcome of the game. I usually want the underdog in such a situation, but there's also an opportunity for the Patriots to supplant the vocal members of the 1972 Dolphins team. I don't like the football Giants so that might help me in my decision. I'll let my emotions decide once the game has started. I'd like a close game, unlike most of the Super Bowl routs in the past several decades. The Super Bowl is the last hurdle before pitchers and catchers report.