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Archive for April, 2009

On the Things that have Passed Away and the Things that Have Not

Posted by Remy on April 30, 2009

Amongst the charges that I bandy about from time to time is the charge that the Romanist and Constantinist view of the church, first class Christians and second class Christians, is part of the old world that has since passed away.

The idea that the body of Christ is divided seems difficult to maintain, particularly with that Greek Testament throwing all sorts of wrenches into such thinking. The response from my friends who have invested in these things tends to avoid a Biblical discussion, but I did recently have this thrown back at me:

I’m sure your church doesn’t keep archaic rules about who can serve the Lord’s Supper, who can preach, who can be an elder, and I’m sure women play large liturgical roles in your service, reading the Scriptures and so forth. It’s not like there are degrees of closeness between man and God anymore. It’s not like men can do things in the church that women can’t, because that means there’s gradations. The curtain is torn! We’re all priests! We’re all the same!

Because I don’t want the force of my argument deflected by such flim-flam, but because I can see how someone might use this to avoid the potency of my comments I thought I’d have a go at it.

First, intentional or not, the above response assumes that there is a division between God and women. I assume this is just a confusion in the response and not necessarily an affirmation that women do not have access to the Most High God. My comments on the access to Jesus that comes in the New Covenant has no bearing on liturgical practice. In the Old Covenant there was a division between Israel and the rest of the Fearers of Yahweh, who were not allowed full access to Him. In the New Covenant access to Jesus is not restricted by veils of separation. There are no longer second class citizens in Christ Jesus. This has nothing to do with women having or not having access to the risen Lord.

Secondly, I honestly don’t know of any rules governing who can serve the Lord’s Supper if by “serve” it is meant “hand out”. Anyone at all can hand out the Lord’s Supper.

If “serve” here means “officiate” the Supper there are indeed requirements for who can be in charge of the covenant renewal service and among them is the requirement that the representative of Christ Jesus must be male, but this has no bearing over whether or not women have full access to Jesus. If Romanists or Constantians believe that their gender give them greater access to Jesus then their wickedness is greater than I imagined. More likely is that the comment incorporated an unintended vagueness.

So while the New Covenant eradicated the divisions of access it does not change the liturgical roles for men and women. Romanists and Constantians and any Protestant church that imitates them in a refusal to feed the whole body of Christ is grasping after the old covenant. Jesus says to feed His sheep and there is no hiding behind the temple of Rome, the temple of the Hagia Sophia, or the temple of Wittenberg.

In the future I plan to talk more about the “Newness” of the new covenant. But for now, my point is that the liturgical roles of men and women are not done away with in the new covenant, they are creational and reaffirmed in the new covenant. The division within the worshipers of Jesus, however, has passed away in the new world, all those is in Christ have full access to Him.

Posted in Newness | 43 Comments »

10 Bad Assumptions in Raising Children : Assumption Number 8

Posted by Remy on April 29, 2009

There are several assumptions parents make that are detrimental to their children. As a parent who teaches I am afforded the opportunity to spend time thinking of ways to train children. This is not to say that I’ve figured anything out, I have three rascally boys all under the age of five, so what do I know, right? But because it is my job to train children, both as parent and teacher, I know that good thoughts only follow thoughts and I have thoughts. What follows is a few thoughts that strike me as important, but are also not emphasized enough. These are not meant to detract from any other fine advice, but to compliment it.

 10. Churchtime is Time to Sit Still and Quiet

9. Words are Bad

8. God is Always Watching 


Why don’t we ever say “God is watching” to our children after they’ve just hugged their mother to thank her for dinner? The answer is because we think the best way to keep children from wrong is to teach them that they are in a constant state of disapproval with God.

Obviously we don’t consciously think this, but this makes God out to be a petty grandma nagging us over our shortcomings. We don’t act this way in other areas, when sons swing and miss in the batter’s box we don’t hoot “Don’t strike out! Daddy’s watching you.” We root for them, “hang in there, elbow up, eye on the ball, hurraaaay!”

We should be encouraging our kids, even when they fail, and even when they sin. Not that we cannot ever convey God’s displeasure with sin, but we need to remember God isn’t offended by sin, it isn’t some slight to His taste when we sin, He is displeased because we have not been designed for sin. He wants us to live full, joyous lives, not lives truncated and diminished by sin.

We think holiness is equal to a constant disapproval of things. As long as we can inculcate in our children a healthy jaundiced eye toward the world we’re happy. But there’s no such thing as a healthy jaundiced eye. Holiness is not equal to a constant disapproval, or brow-beaten obedience, or guilt-tripped theological haranguing.

We want active holiness and love for obedience and righteousness. There’s a place for scolding, but the great majority of our nurturing should be a positive praise after obedience, a loving encouragement at their shortcomings, a defensive instructing before their pet-temptations.

My wife and I started to remind our boys before giving the command that their response should be happy. We found that it was hard for us to remember to safe-guard their disobedient urges with prior warnings. But if it was hard for two responsible Christians to remember doing this imagine how hard it is to remember to obey happily for two immature and unpracticed young Christian boys?

We shouldn’t root for failure so that we can discipline it, thinking discipline is the best method for raising children. Discipline is important, irreplaceable, and Godhonoring when done correctly, but loving admonishing, making up for the weakness of your children, commuting punishment for the sake of Jesus, practicing righteousness before require its performance, these are all ways we can avoid a Dark Cloud God in constant rumble over us.


Posted in Children | 9 Comments »

3 Points on “Hell”

Posted by Remy on April 28, 2009

This article by Jason Goroncy is one of the best survey of the problems with our view of hell I’ve ever read.

My three points on Hell:

  1. Hell is not in the Bible. There are two words in the Greek testament translated “hell”, one is Hades, the land of the dead, the other is Gehenna, the trash heap outside Jerusalem.
  2. Our view of Hell is more influenced by the Koran than from the Bible
  3. Hell is not God’s torture chamber.

Posted in Suffering | 7 Comments »

Taking God’s Name

Posted by Remy on April 27, 2009

We don’t take God’s name enough. We’ve come to think that the 3rd commandment means to not take God’s name at all. We’re are so superstitious that we’ve expanded this command to His title. Exclaiming “God” is not taking His name in vain, it might be taking His title in vain, which isn’t wise, but it isn’t the same as His name. But the sin is “in vain” not the “taking”.

The Vatican last year banished the name Yahweh from their worship, which should be no surprise since both Romanists and Constantinians ar rife with Old World thinking. I would expect the Constantinians to make the same announcement except making any changes to their liturgy might mean knocking some of the dust off. But on the name Yahweh the Vatican says:

“As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: ‘Adonai,’ which means ‘Lord.'”

Meaning, using Yahweh is disrespectful. Hopefully this daft thinking won’t spread to the use of Jesus.

This thinking is so backwards. Jesus likes to hear His name, we are commanded to pray in His name. I remember listening to adults pray concluding with “in our Lord’s name” or “in the name of the Savior” and I thought that using “in Jesus name amen”  (which is what I was taught) was somehow a childish way to pray. Adults are so full of crap pietistic add ons that continue to drag us from a rich understanding of Jesus.

Jesus is Lord, yes, but Jesus is also our friend, Jesus the buddy. Jesus is also our brother, Big Brother Jesus. It is important that we speak of Jesus in these familial terms, because He presents Himself almost entirely in these terms. But we think we know better. We think it’s insulting to act like Jesus is really our friend, we think it’s disrespectful to call Jesus by His name, we think it’s rude to call Jesus our brother. This is a satanic impulse that keeps us from Jesus.

Jesus, Jehovah, Yahweh : these are His names, He draws near when we use them. So use them.

Posted in Holiness | 52 Comments »

10 Bad Assumptions for Training Children : Bad Assumption Number 9

Posted by Remy on April 25, 2009

There are several assumptions parents make that are detrimental to their children. As a parent who teaches I am afforded the opportunity to spend time thinking of ways to train children. This is not to say that I’ve figured anything out, I have three rascally boys all under the age of five, so what do I know, right? But because it is my job to train children, both as parent and teacher, I know that good thoughts only follow thoughts and I have thoughts. What follows is a few thoughts that strike me as important, but are also not emphasized enough. These are not meant to detract from any other fine advice, but to compliment it.

10. Churchtime is Time to Sit Still and Quiet

9. Words Can Be Bad

There is no such thing as “bad words” only bad hearts and bad intentions. Often we teach children not to say “bad words” because it is easier than teaching them the wisdom in using words correctly. We’re more concerned with not being embarrassed in a crowd, than training our children to be wise speakers.

There’s also a tendency to want to react as parents rather than act, meaning we often wait until certain words or ideas are introduced by the neighbor kid and then do damage control. What we all hope for is that those things will miraculously be avoided so that we won’t have to deal with them, but hoping for miracles is a poor strategy in raising children. Besides, there’s nothing to fear in those things.

For our first two we used “zero” as our negative warning, because I can’t stand to see a little kid using “no” recklessly. I didn’t want them to have access to that word. “Zero” is a much more difficult thing for kids to say. For my third son we’re more confident in our abilities to train against the attitude that leads kids to yell “no” and it has been incorporated into our instruction to him. But “no” wasn’t a bad word, it was a word that they don’t have access to, in the imperative form at least.

Also, gosh, stupid, and awesome have been excised from their vocabulary. All, aside from “gosh”, I try to use regularly before them in an appropriate way. The response “whatever” continues to be a tricky lesson, when to use it, when it is rude. And “damn” has been introduced to my oldest, explained, and forbidden till he’s wiser. Wiser not older.

By framing this as a wisdom issue and not as an age issue we avoid the problem of arbitrariness, as if we have certain inalienable rights to drink alcohol or drive at certain ages. The emphasis should always be on wisdom. To treat certain words as preternaturally Bad is only to treat our personal preferences as divine law.

We should point out foolish talk, instruct on the right attitude or the right time to say such things. Words are important, but we ought not fear words, or certain words. Our goal is to train up wise speakers and at some point be confident to grant full access to the language to our children.

Posted in Children | 3 Comments »

Credible Faith

Posted by Remy on April 24, 2009

[from 2005]

When a child is frightened by a father the child screams and runs to him. This is interesting because the father is both the source of fear and the refuge from it. 

I show Archer my face and smile. Then I bare my teeth, scrunch my nose, frown and growl –sometimes Archer plays the warrior king David or Samson, laughs and prepares to grapple, usually headfirst and drooling; I admire this, but dismantle him with tickles anyway. Other times he is Jonah after Joppa or Peter, inches from being swallowed by the sea, then the fish, crying out afraid. Either way, when I charge, in crazy desperation he charges too, beseechingly, arms outstretched. I admire this too, but still I deconstruct his heart.

So you know the special moves: to “flub the nub” is to set the mouth on the neck and blow. To “play the piano” is just that but with fingers to ribs. To “gitchoo” is to gnaw on legs, arms, and other lush areas of baby fat. To “Sqeeza” (also: sqeeza-ya-neezas”) is to sqeeze the knees. And the ultimate blow it to “bonk” which is a straight head to head blow sending us both reeling.

The fact that Archer understands who his protector is tells me that he is being a faithful Christian. Even when the scary face comes and the roar and the slapdash charge, hands and knees, and I can see in his moon waxen eyes that he wants to turn and flee, that he wants to cringe and fall, yet his faith leads his steps, he runs to the father, he cries out, he seeks refuge.

Sometimes, because it is glorious, I catch him up and throw him into the third heaven and he is dazzled by the place where gravity grabs him back. After a few of these the world is new or his legs are new, but it is shaky going for a few minutes regardless, maybe it’s his eyes.

When I scare Archer when we play, it is still scary, but he knows his father. This is what true faith does, it screams and runs to God, though God has placed His hand toward terror. Children know this better than we, they do this because they are wild with faith. They scream because they’re mad: who else runs to the one who afflicts you?

When we pray “Our Father” we’re fools if this makes us feel safe. God the Father would win no modern parental awards. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we’re asking for the son treatment, we are asking to die, we are asking for dread. But we are asking also for majesty. When we pray this prayer, we should run in terror though we run to refuge, for a credible faith is one thing, but an incredible faith is the main thing. Unbelievable belief, like the resurrection, the faith of a child.

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Creation Ex Nihilo

Posted by Remy on April 23, 2009

Dr. Peter Leithart has an interesting post on Creation.

His point coincides with something I’ve always said which is, at the end of everday Yahweh pronounces the world “good”. And just like in the creation week, what was good one day is not good the next, and His work continues.

Posted in Life | Comments Off on Creation Ex Nihilo

3 Comments on the Word of God

Posted by Remy on April 23, 2009

1. It is not correct, Biblically speaking, to split the Bible into an Old Testament and a New Testament.

2. You could speak of the Four Testament’s of the Bible; the Testament of the Patriarchs, the Testament of the Kingdom Period, the Testament of the Prophets, and the Testament of Jesus.

3. Better to speak of the Word of God as a complete story, unbroken, from start to finish, Genesis to Revelation.

Posted in Christianity | 11 Comments »

The Meaning of “Satan” & “Christ”

Posted by Remy on April 22, 2009

Satan is not originally a proper name, but a Hebrew word that means “the accuser, the adversary, one who plots against another.”

Similarly Christ isn’t a proper name, but a title. It comes from the Greek “kristos” meaning “the anointed one” and was used to translate the Hebrew word “mashiah”, from which we get “messiah”.

Previous meanings:



The Fall

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The Students Burst Into Laughter After This Was Read Aloud

Posted by Remy on April 21, 2009

Gandalf’s eyes flashed. “It will be my turn to get angry soon,” he said. “If you say that again, I shall. Then you will see Gandalf the Grey uncloaked.”

*  *  *  *

Proof once again that education is wasted on the young.

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