Monday, June 27, 2011

Blog Spotlight Monday - Evangelical Calvinist

Bobby Grow blogs at The Evangelical Calvinist.  Bobby's blog is unashamedly theological in nature - and relatively heavy theology at that - but some of the fun in it for him and some of the fun in reading it for me is found in his many challenges to the rigid structures of classic or federal Calvinism.

I found Bobby frequently frequenting the comments sections of some major Calvinist blogs, several of which were already on my "don't agree so much with" list.  So, it only seems natural that somebody who makes the same challenges that I like to see people make would be somebody I connect with on a blog level.  Bobby has this sneaky way of inserting some subtleties into his comments, and as a result we had to correspond often in private rather than in the comments sections because it might get too thick.

Bobby holds to a particular brand of theology known as Evangelical Calvinism, or Scottish Theology, and writes extensively on the subject, hence his blog title.  EC has its basis in the person of Christ as He exists in the Trinity as over against the rigid theological constructs of federal Calvinism.  It would be best to read his blog to get a better idea of what that entails.  Bobby is a recent cancer survivor and his zest for life is evident in his writing.  I have done my best to not hold his being a Lakers fan against him, but on occasion I simply cannot contain myself and counter with a feeble "Go Warriors," which really means nothing to anybody.  Check out Bobby's Evangelical Calvinist blog.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Martin Luther Plus Semper Reformanda Equals More Martin Luthers

This is a re-post of something I wrote about a year ago.


Martin Luther was a hero of the Protestant faith. His beliefs that the church was engaged in theology and practice that was not biblical led to its reforming; hence the Protestant Reformation. One of the rallying cries of the Reformation was "Semper Reformanda," or "always reforming."

Today in "Reformed" circles, this slogan is not given near the weight that the five solas are. Sola Gratia (grace alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God alone) are champions of the day. In my opinion there seems to be a line of thinking in Reformed circles that the Reformation was a one-time thing that solidified everything to be believed for all time. All reformation stopped at The Reformation.

Of course, reforming for the sake of reforming isn't in mind, as Michael Horton points out in this piece about the real meaning of the slogan. The original phrase was, “The church is reformed and always [in need of] being reformed according to the Word of God,” indicating that the reformation in view is passive; the Holy Spirit working in reforming the church. Horton also points out:

As Calvin argued in his treatise “The Necessity of Reforming the Church,” the Reformers were charged with innovation when in fact it was the medieval church’s innovative distortions of Christian faith and worship that required a recovery of apostolic Christianity. Rome pretended to be “always the same,” but it had accumulated a host of doctrines and practices that were unknown to the ancient church, much less to the New Testament.
Now for some questions. Could the same thing be said, at least in some things, about the Reformed church? Did the Reformation deal with every single problem with Rome? And if Martin Luther led the way for the church to be reformed, couldn't we say that along with the slogan of Semper Reformanda there should arise even more Martin Luthers?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

The one-minute to go on Friday Friday Night Potpourri:

  • I've got to fix the side gate again.  The latch broke and the kids are now trying to push the gate open from the back yard.  Won't work, guys.  I know it can't open in that direction, and that's why there's a big rock lying there, to prop it open.
  • I remember several years ago hearing about how the internet was going to run out of space in 2010.  There wouldn't be enough storage, etc., to keep up with the growing demand.  That was supposed to happen last year.  Did it happen and I missed it?  Was the problem solved?  Was it another scare?
  • I got my main-gate badge at work today that allows me to take a shortcut on paved roads to the parking lot instead of going all the way down the side road and backtracking down a bumpy gravel road.  I should save several hours per day and thousands in car washings.  Not to mention damage to the suspension.
  • They don't make my socks anymore.  Or at least they came up with new packaging and are charging more.  Are socks really that critical?  Are they worth the price?
  • Reflecting on my best car ever.  A Honda Accord, 1990.  I got 18 years and over 300,000 miles out of it.  It was a rare 4-door/5-speed.  I miss my clutch!
  • There's a comedian on TV who is actually funny.  Mrs. Scott is laughing hysterically.  Yes, he really is that funny.  I used to watch some of those stand up comedy shows.  Not many comedians or comediennes really were that funny.  Only a few.  Some comedians say funny things and some are funny.
  • Old.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Needing Each Other During Church

Eric Carpenter at A Pilgrim's Progress writes a short post about how we need each other when we assemble with the church.  We can all speak to each other during the church meeting for mutual edification.  I really don't have any experience with churches that do this, but after so many years of not having it, I certainly know what can happen when there is no mutual edification during the meeting.  Mutual edification is pushed back into a place where people need to scramble to look for other ways for it to happen.  So much so that it's possible for mutual edification to not happen at all.  I wonder what it would be like to have a church that engaged with each other the way that is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 11-14.  I hope to find out someday.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

Qwerty weekly:

  • I did a Google Images search on "Frank Viola."  The two of them are pretty evenly matched in the number of photos department.  Are they the same man?
  • I don't know if it's like this where you live, but a good percentage of radio commercials here are for mattress companies trying to make the best deal for you.
  • This week marks the first time our three year old takes any interest in baseball whatsoever.  He played catch with me, wanted his older brother to give him his all-star uniform top and ran around the house yelling "Buster Posey!"
  • My oldest son was fishing in the pond and accidentally caught a wild turtle.  The poor thing had a hook stuck in its mouth, so we brought it to a nearby museum animal hospital to have it removed.  Hopefully they let it go in the same pond.
  • In a bizarre episode, the store bakery had no cheesecakes in its cake case today.  The baker couldn't locate any either.  I was planning on picking one up for our Father's Day dinner.  So I settled on a chocolate cream cake Friday special for five bucks.
  • Lit up the barbecue tonight for the first time in quite a while.  Used the last of the briquettes, smoked up a good chunk of dinner, and later the kids tried creating some s'mores with marshmallows over the dim and dying coals.
  • I'm not sure how the movie clips fit in here, but it's the song I was after. 

Work Is Working Somewhat

Well, this is my third week of being gainfully employed after two plus years without.  It's good to work with my hands in a way that brings in a paycheck.  And doing something that I'm good at is helpful, too.  Although I wasn't even qualified for the job in the usual "academics plus experience" way, the intangibles added up in a "greater than the sum of the parts" way. 

A recent classmate of mine got a job in her former field that happens to be in a plant in the type of field I want to get into.  She told the boss that although I had no experience, she knew from my background and how I performed in a lab class that I would be able to do the job well.  And after my interview, he hired me.  I could sense in my interview that when his words changed from "you would be doing" to "you will be doing" that I would be offered the position.  Such stories aren't much told these days, but I'm thankful somebody is willing to take a chance and trust somebody, like me.  I've been given a fairly large amount of responsibility for some important things right off the bat, and I'm finding that I'm up for the challenge.

It's a temporary position that is initially a three month assignment through a temp service, but I hope that my dream full-time job will be coming soon.  I've been involved in hiring processes for that type of job that take quite some time to complete, so I'll have to wait a while before I know.  But right now is a small step in a good direction.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

No Blog Spotlight and Other Trivia

I missed posting Blog Spotlight Monday last night.  We had some bug go through our family and it was hit-the-wall time.  I hope to be back next week.  Also, I'm trying to think where to go next in part of my writing on this blog.  I think it's time to change some of the content, but not all.  I may re-post my previous series on church membership.  In any case, I hope to introduce at least one new direction in what I will write about.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Night Potpourri

A full week of work, including tomorrow:

  • It's odd to be commuting again.  But, thankfully, it has been a counter-commute that is earlier than the heavy traffic time.  The one big potential delay is having to wait 10 minutes for a train to pass.  A co-worker has that happen yesterday.  After work today, the crossing arm malfunctioned - with bells and lights - and I was detoured into the next city in a long runaround.
  • Many bosses.  It's quite interesting.  I'm working for a plant that is still under construction, and we're doing prep work in the lab for when it starts up.  Since it's still under construction, we're technically in a construction zone, and the construction company has rules and procedures that have to be followed because it controls the site.  Meanwhile the plant is on leased property of another plant, so there are rules and procedures of that plant, since we all access their right of way to get to ours.  Finally, I'm working for a temp agency that has its own guidelines for my employment.  Whew!  Got all that?
  • Our six year old says that mom's grilled cheese sandwiches come in third.  Grandma's are first.  Then Mrs. Scott's work's are second.  Hers are only third.  But... she's the one that makes the grilled cheese sandwiches at work, so she comes in both second and third.
  • School's out for the kids and their cousins and neighbors.  What does summer have in store?  Let's see... boredom?  Can I go to...?  Summer camps?  When is school going to start?
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough.  Who needs an oven?
  • We've had a bit of warming in our weather, so the neighborhood kids have taken to the garden hose.
  • At my previous job, I used to play this CD every Friday at 3:30, and this is my favorite tune on the CD.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Secondary Issues

What constitutes a "secondary" issue within Christianity is not a difficult thing to determine.  I don't think, anyway.  There is constant debate about so-called secondary issues - those issues that are not essential to the Christian faith as far as salvation.  Recently I have read a number of things about this, and quite a few people seem to think that secondary issues are made primary depending on who it is doing the deciding, and we'll never come to agreement.  So, it's a hopeless topic.  But, hey folks, I think it is easier than most people think.

The essentials of the Christian faith are not difficult to identify.  The virgin birth, the real and actual death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  The Lordship of Christ.  The gospel.  The second coming, and so on.  These things have been held throughout history by the majority of the church, and they continue to be core beliefs.  The early creeds are an example.  Whether somebody drinks beer or wears certain clothes or allows their daughter to go to college or has a certain form of church government or whether women wear pants or even whether somebody sprinkles or dunks during baptism simply aren't essential doctrines.  People make them out to be, and that's the problem.  Denying that Jesus came in the flesh is a major problem, but denying that every last Christian child must be homeschooled isn't.

And there's a big difference between having convictions that you un-hypocritically hold to and judging other people based on those convictions.  The list of trivial things that are used to judge and condemn people - even to an eternity in hell - doesn't end.  Think about it.  God is going to cast a professing Christian into the lake of fire on judgment day to spend an eternity in hell because they drank a beer now and then?  Because they wear the latest fashions and dress well?  God is going to let you into heaven but stick you in a golden corner with a jewel laden dunce cap on because you baptized people the wrong way?  Think about what that means.  We would be willing to wish the worst on our brothers and sisters because of our personal preferences and pet doctrines?  What kind of Christian attitude is that?  It's the kind of attitude that Jesus says will condemn the Pharisees.

I'm not claiming innocence on this, as I spent a good amount of time in legalistic churches and groups, and learned how to judge people harshly on secondary issues.  But once God shows you the ugliness of it all, it is refreshing to not waste so much energy on condemning others.  It's a freeing thing.  And that's one of the things that Jesus came for.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Blog Spotlight Monday - PILGRIMS PUB

Jason Nota is a Christian who blogs about beer at PILGRIMS PUB.  I like beer - good beer, that is - and I also like Jason's blog.  So it is only natural that PILGRIMS PUB is on my blogroll and has been a regular read for quite some time.  Jason does periodic beer reviews, complete with rating systems, often trying Midwestern beers I've never heard of.  He also puts up stories on beer, writes about the history of beer, and, one of my favorite types of writing that Jason does, he occasionally dismantles the false and so-called "Christian" doctrine of alcohol prohibition.  He has written a number of posts on Christian liberty and limits of conscience.

I find Jason to be fairly sober about beer, and has a really good concept of enjoying God's creation.  I also love his blog's subtitle:

The selling of bad beer is a crime against Christian love- 13th Century city of Augsburg law.

If you like beer, or even if you don't, or even if you don't think beer should be dranked by Christians, go ahead and take a read over at PILGRIMS PUB.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 14)

This is a re-post of the 14th part of my ongoing blog series, Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service.  This series appeared in late 2008 to early 2009.  For a brief explanation, click here.


In Part 13 I described a disjointed body. One where all the parts were arranged in their proper places, but were not connected.

A few years ago I remember reading about a church in Los Angeles in the early 70's that met in a drive-in movie theater. Cars would park and hang the speaker from the car door so that they could listen to the sermon, then easily leave when church was over. I don't remember reading if girls on roller skates would dispense the elements of the Lord's Supper, but it would be a good fit.

Most all of us would ridicule such a notion. Obvious criticisms would be: that American culture would be superimposed upon the church. Congregants would be far too lazy to get out of their cars. Only in California. Individualism reigned supreme. With each family or individual being in their own vehicle, a disconnection would occur and members would be forced further apart as church members.

Would such criticisms apply only to the drive-in church, but not to churches where members are sitting next to each other with the same disconnectedness? Is the problem with the drive-in church model, or is there some already existing problem that is simply taken to the next step? It seems to me that a church meeting where there is interaction between all the members would help prevent (but not necessarily eliminate) such strange church models.

Friday Night Potpourri

A week of work, finally.  Or maybe just the beginning:

  • I was reminded a number of times this week that there were already a number of guys named Steve at work, and now I'm another one.  Funny that I haven't run into anybody named Mike.
  • I drove by our old house this week, as I took our oldest to play with his former next door neighbor.  I parked in front of the house, like I did so many thousands of times before.  The house remains about the same, with no changes other than a few potted plants on the porch. 
  • Shortest. Name. Ever.  The previous record for short names I ever knew was five letters.  The guy was named Ed and his last name was three letters.  Well, I met somebody with four letters in their name, a two-letter first name and a two letter last name.  Must be a good jump start in taking tests.
  • A day of much needed sleeping in prompted several of our children to get their own breakfasts.  Knowing how it was done, they attempted culinary mastery on short notice, and came through with flying colors.
  • We're still in rainy season here in California, it seems.  Rain keeps interrupting my watering schedule.  There are ten foot snow banks in the mountains and it continues to snow.  Tahoe is white.  In some areas there is over 30 feet of snow.  Some people are digging down to find their cabins.
  • Friday Night Potpourri is a bit late, as I was so tired I nodded off at the computer.  Then it was all I could do to drag myself to bed.  So, here on Saturday morning I sit finishing this set of trivial - yet ultimately important - set of thoughts.
  • What other song could I post this week?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I Finally Have Work!

After a very long time of being unemployed, I now have a job.  It is a temporary position in a lab at a chemical plant that I started this week, and my family and I are very excited.  I haven't written much on this blog about my personal life and work (with the exception of humorous trivialities) because it has never been my aim to do so.  But today, I'll put a bit of personal info here.  I'm trying to avoid any TMI situation, so I'll keep it light.

I had been out of work for just over 27 months, being laid off from my architecture job back in early 2009.  Since I was in residential architecture, the housing collapse not only ended my job and career, but my vocation for the indefinite future.  My vocation's unemployment rate was/is estimated at about 50%.  After many months of looking, I realized it was time for a career change.  So, for the last three semesters I have been in vocational training in what is called Process Technology.  This is schooling in how to operate the equipment and processes in places like oil refineries, chemical plants, water treatment plants and related things.  Although I have a temp position, which may end up being towards permanent hire, I am in the application process for several much desired permanent jobs.

The past number of years have been extremely trying on my family, not merely from the lack of work and all the hardships that such a thing causes, but also from illnesses, injuries, broken relationships and deaths within family, friends and church, as well as numerous completely bizarre occurrences that Alfred Hitchcock, Stephen King and Jerry Seinfeld couldn't get together and script after finishing several fifths of whiskey in downing hallucinogenic mushrooms.  Over all, we're praying that this job is the first step in a right and new direction for us.  Thank you to all who have prayed with and for us over these last few years.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 13)

This is a re-post of the 13th part of my ongoing blog series, Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service.  This series appeared in late 2008 to early 2009.  For a brief explanation, click here.


In Part 7, I noted that the 1 Corinthians passage showed all the members of the assembly involved in edifying the whole body. In this passage Paul uses the analogy of a human body, with eyes, ears, hands, feet and a head. When members of a body don't interact with each other, the body is in a sense disjointed.

Imagine a body. Now imagine that each body part is severed from all the others, then put back together, but with a very small gap between them so that none of them are touching. The body would look just like a body, but wouldn't function properly, or at all, because none of the body parts have an opportunity to function with all the others. Or, imagine the same body with only a few parts connected to a few other parts. Or, all of the parts are only connected to one other part, yet not to each other. Each of these bodies would be seriously dysfunctional.

When our church bodies are disjointed, they are dysfunctional.