Michael Peroutka as President. Why not?

I can’t tell you how many people have told me to not vote for Peroutka because voting for him is worthless. In fact, just last night a dear friend e-mailed me and said in essence, “he seems to be a good option but voting for him is fruitless.” The heart of the question is usually, why vote for someone who doesn’t have a chance to win? These types of questions I believe are antithetical to the Christian message and even to the Christian conscience. Has there ever been a time when you voted or have chosen something not because of its popularity but because it was the best option? Further, the concept of the lesser of two evils (pragmatism) is not a Christian position as it is Deweynian. As Gary North once stated: “The lesser of two evils usually is.” Your vote will not be wasted in Michael Peroutka!

Take for example Rhinehold’s argument concerning these voters who believe their vote is wasted:

What they fail to realize is that no vote for a candidate of your choice is ever ‘wasted’, even if it doesn’t end up electing a candidate. For example, if you live in Oklahoma where Bush is ahead in the polls 65% – 27% and you are thinking of voting for Kerry. Does that mean you are ‘throwing your vote away’ if you vote for him? Of course not. But time and time again people who are not happy with either current candidate or the way the two big parties have been treating them and putting candidates up for election are told not to vote their conscience and pull the lever against the lesser of two evils.

One further example will suffice. Suppose your father was running for mayor in a big city. The polls indicated that the top candidate had 70% of the votes and your father only had 3% of the vote. Now you knew that your father would make a better candidate. After all, he is honest and you have seen him in action every day. You know him to be a man of character and integrity. Beyond all that, he is a great Christian who upholds the Scriptures as his final authority in every area of life. Now, would you consider voting for your dad a “wasted vote?” Please reconsider your decision, I have.

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. –John Adams

Visit the Constitution Party website and learn more: GOD FAMILY AND REPUBLIC

To my two Brazilian readers…

In another emotionally draining game, Sao Paulo couldn’t maintain its score to eliminate Santos from the South American tournament. With the 1 x 1 tie we were eliminated. The positive aspect of this defeat is that we can focus 100 % of our attention on the National Tournament. Oh, guess who we play this Sunday? You guessed it: Santos again. This time for a brand new start! We have 62 points… 6 behind Santos and 7 behind the number 1 Atletico PR. With 9 rounds to go we can still score 27 points. Remember also that the top four will make it to the prestigious Libertadores of America. However, we’re still aiming at the title. Sao Paulo has won the last four games establishing a very decent record. After Sunday’s 5 x 0 victory I think we have also gained national respect. Even Carlos Alberto Parreira (Brazil’s head coach) praised Sao Paulo for their performance. Well, it seems we have all the right ingredients to approach and even surpass the top two.
VIVA SAO PAULO!

Peculiar Christianity in the Love of God’s People

There are sociological reasons/factors that contributed to the spread of Christianity in the 1st century. Among them is the Pax Romana, which facilitated the message to be preached in Rome. Also, the advantage of the formation of Koine Greek. It was the language of commerce. The disciples were able to communicate in the language of the people. There is however, one substantial concept that outweighed all other ingredients to the success of the gospel in the years following Christ’s ascension, and it was the love of God’s people. I am aware that this concept has a bad connotation in our Christian environment, which can even at times be equated with anti-intellectualism. But allow me to dismantle that concept and prove the strength of love in bringing the pagan to Christ. It was out of all people Julian the Apostate who wrote that “the Christians support their own poor but also the poor pagan.” Notice that their love even compelled pagans to admit the unthinkable. Remember that to hear Julian say that is equivalent to hearing Marilyn Manson praising Christianity. It is a fearful thing to love those who hate you, because in turn God’s grace may operate in powerful ways.

Reflections On Developing A Spiritual Pattern

In a time when discipline is pushed aside due to pragmatism, spiritual theology is pushed aside due to evangelical lethargy. It is a daunting task to set spiritual goals when they may be in a near future altered by our schedules, children, and completing the list, we have our fallenness, which only directs our circumstances away from spirituality.

The Christian life is less than appealing when we consider that the usual outcome of spirituality may be the ever powerful attack of evil forces (Satan) on the godly. Similar to Lewis’ works on spirituality, the Evil One never ceases to attack the godly. It appears that the better prepared a Christian is to face temptations, the more intense is the bombardment. On the other hand, Spiritual Theology by Simon Chan has significantly helped me to wrestle with these tensions. Digesting this work has encouraged me with a list of viable options to enhance my experience and to harmonize the struggles with the exhilarating moments of joy in my Christian life.

It is my desire to pursue goals that are realistic rather than forceful. Chan writes similarly when he speaks of those who in the beginning found contentment with their new goals, but with time found them to be overwhelming and abandoned the practice altogether.

Another difficulty in establishing a rule of life is that as Chan puts it, “embracing the rule of life means allowing our lives to be reconstituted by this new pattern” (pg.150). There are severe implications to a new pattern of living. Nevertheless, embracing a simple life is an art by which with proper exercising life will resemble more and more the image of Christ. In thinking about these profound issues I have sought aid in the idea of submission to Christ. In submission there is comfort in knowing that my errors in this process will only lead me to depend even more on Christ.

Regarding a plan for developing a spiritual life I have considered a similar pattern to what Chan offers:

I. A period of heart preparation seems necessary. This I call the “cleansing process” which I liken to the washings of the priests before they entered the tabernacle.

II. After cleansing, I have chosen to continue my annual reading of the Scriptures rather than the one or two chapters divorced from its redemptive history. Sometimes during this year I may choose to read a book with a devotional nature such as Jerry Bridges or John Piper. I prefer to call this transition “Spiritual Nourishment.”

III. Further, I have set a time for short meditation on the spiritual significance of what was read and what may be its direct application to my life. This is called “Holy Reflection.”

IV. Then, a time of prayer which would follow common liturgy. A) Praise/Adoration, B) Thanksgiving, C) Petition, D) Praying for consistency in my devotional life. This is entitled: “Holy Conversation.” This is a genuine interaction with  God.

V. Finally, singing should be the “Response of Gratitude.” This could be a hymn or a Psalm that expresses my present sentiments. It may be about an attribute of God or the regular Christian experience.

This seems to be an attainable pattern of life. It should take approximately 20-25 minutes. By God’s grace with proficiency it may increase. In time I pray it may become as natural as my academic pursuits or my daily interactions with my wife.

This is the most profound and substantial foundation for my new rule (pattern) of life. Therefore, it seems only logical that all other forms of spiritualities should be a compliment to this rather than an additional exercise. For example, one way of implementing another idea to this foundation is found in the common theological area of general revelation. Perhaps my devotional time would be enhanced in content if it were done in the context of nature. Whether in the woods or near a lake (which I have access) or on a location where my eyes could visibly engage the mountains and valleys. All these experiences will accentuate and heighten the spiritual capacity to adorn my soul with God’s aroma and presence.

A final observation regards the remainder activities of the day. It is a fact that when the business of my academic life begins I quickly lose sight or even forget the experience I have had. One way to eliminate this difficulty is to reserve the spiritual devotion to the end of the day. However, this does not seem like a possible alternative since I function better in the early part of the day. In order to help in this dilemma I have proposed a few ideas used primarily by early saints. These ideas will solidify Paul’s command to pray without ceasing. Chan calls these “ejaculatory prayers.” These are prayers that can be uttered or consciously thought about throughout the day. To make this practice vivid I have committed to read and memorize certain portions of the Book of Common Prayer which I have found to be an invaluable treasure.

It is my prayer that this new rule of life may be light rather a legalistic burden. I have hope that in God’s grace He may find mercy on me, a sinner, and permit me to enjoy the richness of the Christian faith.

Books I am reading and read in the last 2 weeks

Here is a sample list of some of the books I am currently reading and some I have read in the last two weeks.

Currently reading: The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson
Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John Frame

Books I have read in the last 14 days:

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
Tell the Truth by Will Metzger
Spiritual Theology by Simon Chan
The Theological Controversy by J. Patout Burns

Developing a Spiritual Pattern

The more we approach the topic of spirituality the farther we seem to grasp it. This is the essence of a genuine form of sanctification: to increase in complexity. I have found this to be the case in pursuing spirituality in my devotional life. Human existence, as we all know, can be a hindrance in itself, since our lives are remarkably connected with the mandates of our day to day. However, a biblical spirituality will teach us to use our daily hindrances to our advantage. It is a simple task to set rules and regulations to govern our lives. But as some of us have already experienced, this leads only to legalism. We must be cautious of this when we consider a biblical form of spirituality. In this journey we will be constantly struggling with this tension as we develop a rule of life.

In the next few days I will give a sample of what I mean by a rule of life or a spiritual pattern. This will be only an example of how to build a proper system. Of course, there is much liberty in this!
Recommended reading: Spiritual Theology by Simon Chan

Doug Wilson on current events

87 Billion
Topic: Current Events

Part of the slipperyness of this presidential campaign can be seen in the taunts registered against John Kerry by the Republicans — “he voted for the 87 billion before he voted against it!” And I agree that Kerry’s explanations are lame, and that he is a flip-flopper, and so on.

But none of this erases the fact that if the war in Iraq is in fact a war, then it is unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional because Congress did not declare it. If Congress had declared war, as is their constitutional prerogative, then we would not be dealing with any of this nonsense. Kerry would have voted for or against the war. Period.

Voting for or against 87 billion is neither here nor there. Such bills and riders do not have the focus that declarations of war have. Representatives and senators may vote a particular way because of this item or that in any omnibus package. But after Pearl Harbor, the declaration of war against Japan did not have any pork barrel provisions that would bring electricity to remote sections of West Virginia. It was a straight up or down vote.

So this 87 billion debate is bogus. The president has usurped one of the constitutional prerogatives of Congress, and Congress has abdicated. Consequently, they deserve each other.

Calvin: “Man is an idol factory”

Calvin’s comment in regard to the main tendency of the human heart is not only a reality but an evangelistic need. The sinner is in as much need to hear about sin as he is about Christ. The call of the gospel is to turn away from idolatry to the living Christ. Dr. Steve Childers comments on this gospel invitation when he states that the “gospel is directly linked to the first two commandments.” By that he means that our sin is worshipping other gods and making to ourselves graven images in the form of personal passions. One may find pleasure in adultery, but what is really taking place is that adultery has become a temporary idol or at times a permanent one. All sin is an issue of the heart and it is the heart that needs to be turned. As Luther has stated in his 95 theses, “Repentance is part of the daily life of a Christian (paraphrase of theses one).” In repentance we find restoration and turn once again our gaze upon the true God and Savior of our lives.

A particular insight I have acquired in my studies of evangelism, is that in a sense, sins are inherently polytheistic. That is, when we sin we all serve and worship many gods. We serve the god of lust, the god of pride, the god of reputation, ad infinitum. This reality would make even the largest syncretistic religion in the world (Hinduism) envious of such an accumulation of gods. The beauty of the gospel is that God is seeking to bring His people to once again put their trust in the monotheistic faith of Abraham. However, turning from idols and gods has become an ineffable homily in modern evangelicalism; rather we are told that these are vices or habits. Don’t you think the gods are pleased to hear that? If we do not treat these matters as what they really are then I see sin’s domineering power becoming another source of doubt and endless despair in the lives of Christians. Christ is the only solution to the billions of alternatives. He alone can deliver us from sin’s dominion. Our Lord is as supremely interested in the rescuing of our sins today as He was when He delivered us from the penalty of sin.

Book Review – Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer

1339packer.jpeg J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1991).

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is a historical masterpiece. Though the title would seem to indicate that a final and ultimate explanation of these realities has been elucidated satisfactorily, the contrary is the case. J.I. Packer is not interested in “reconciling friends” as Spurgeon explained (at least in a philosophical sense). His main theme is that the reality of these two Biblical truths–God’s sovereignty and evangelism–must significantly challenge our thinking in the field of evangelism. His thoroughgoing Calvinism does not hinder his rich application, but rather strengthens it. As it is stated, the Calvinist “will be able to evangelize better for believing it” (126). It is the certainty that this theology is Biblical that enables the true evangelist to place his trust on the author of faith -– God Himself.

The most profound insight Packer’s classic offers is his ability to bring seemingly contradictory realities into a single book. In the end, the reader finds comfort, stability and the recognition that God’s sovereignty and evangelism are complementary and utterly dependable on one another. The writer instills this truth in his readers with utmost delicacy and sensitivity to this critical question in biblical history. Another strength of Dr. Packer is his observation that even the Arminian must come to grasp the concept of God’s sovereignty. When he prays that God would intervene in the salvation of his friend or family, unconsciously he is depending that the sovereign grace of our God may change the heart of stone and makes it into a heart of flesh. However, one critique, perhaps the only one this reviewer has to offer, concerns Packer’s omission in dealing with the famous evangelistic crusades of his time and even of our times in the 21st century. This reviewer feels rather strongly against such practices and would have preferred that J.I. Packer would offer a critique of such practices rather than leaving it to further discussion. Of course, anyone familiar with Jim Packer’s writings is aware of the irenic spirit and the gracious tone of this godly man. Hence this critique is perhaps unwarranted, but still a critique nevertheless.

This classic reveals an unpopular application to the modern Christian thinker. One who is concerned with the evangelistic enterprise will notice that the common “handing out pamphlets” or even “knocking on doors” is not the most effective approach to evangelism. Rather, the approach he offers is that of establishing relationships. Instead of bombarding the lost with undefined biblical slogans, we need to approach our neighbor with love and a genuine desire to know them and their needs. This will enable the believer to understand who they are evangelizing and how to better approach them with the gospel.

Storms of Life?

I am beginning to re-think those well-known sermon lines dealing with the storms of life. Is it not a bit more accurate, at least here in Florida, to name them the “hurricanes of life?” Well, consider it briefly. Hurricanes bring gust winds, tropical storms, destruction, shatters lives, demolishes material possessions, and separates loved ones.  The conspicuous truth is this: Storms are just too general of a term to reflect our reality. To me the idea of hurricanes seems to be a more realistic view of Providence and reflects even more accurately God’s works in creation. If He is the author of calamities, let us give at least somewhat more powerful analogies to the most powerful God.
Truthfully, jokingly and comforted,
Yours truly.

Catholicity, Orthodoxy, and Lordship