Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I've been having deja vu lately...perhaps there's a glitch in the...never mind. The weird thing is that I don't think I really remembered the situation, it just seemed that way. It's like my short-term memory is playing tricks on my mind...did I say that out loud?

On a completely different note...Where is the line between freedom in Christ within the bounds of His moral law, and living God's ideal? When making decisions in life, should our inquiry as Christians end at the moral law? Or should we seek a higher standard? What is that standard? Who determines it? How is it discovered? Questions to ponder...

A good article on the subject: Recovering the Art of Christian Prudence

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Last night I went to an CAP event with my family which featured Craig and Janet Parshall. Mrs. Parshall gave an inspiring speech about impacting culture by speaking the truth in love. It was very good. Mr. Parshall, who I found out is a Christian lawyer, spoke about the crisis in the Middle East. It was very interesting to hear about the history of the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the rumors circling about Bush's plan for a Palestinian state which is expected to be revealed very soon. Parshall, an obvious dispensationalist, was concerned about the U. S. State department's lack of support for Israel. Though it would be easy for me to dismiss his statements because he obviously believed that it was all a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and that the Rapture was near, I agree with supporting of Israel as a representative government of freedom among all the Islamic dictatorships in that region. Clearly, the Jewish worldview is superior to Islam when it comes to culture and politics. However, I do not believe that physical Israel has a God-given right to the land, because the land promises were fulfilled way back in the book of Joshua (21:43-45). And physical Israel has no real future in Biblical prophecy, because God rejected the nation forever in 70 AD.

My question regarding the Middle East crisis is: What is the best way to establish freedom in the Arab states, like Iraq, where the people are used to bondage? Will the people of Iraq really elect representatives that will uphold freedom of religion, speech, and press when given the chance? Somehow I doubt it. I guess I'll have to trust this nation's leadership for now. Admittedly, I have a lot to learn when it comes to foreign policy.

Paul Shippy

Thursday, April 24, 2003

I found out yesterday that my brother Christopher's wife Heather is expecting their fourth girl! So I will have six nieces and one nephew. Wow. - Paul

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

In view of the love of God and joy of worshipping Him, I am amazed at the presence of sin in my life. How is it that I seek pleasure in earthly things when the only true pleasure is found in Him? Why do I spurn His grace and abuse the freedom He has given me? Oh, the depth of my depravity...

Father, convict me to the point of sorrow over my sin. Thank you for conquering sin through the death of Your Son. Give me the grace to daily reorient my thoughts and actions towards what is best. Help me to repent. Humble me and make me a servant.

Thanks be to God for His great and abiding mercy! By His grace I can have real life, an adventurous life of transformation.

Monday, April 21, 2003

My Easter weekend was relaxing and enjoyable. Saturday afternoon and evening, we had all of the family over for games, hunting for eggs, and watching the Suns WIN! Sunday morning was church, of course. The music was very good because the choir was so huge (90 people or so). The message on the other hand...

I am seriously concerned about the "gospel" Pastor Jones preached. He focused on the hope that the resurrection of Christ gives us. He spoke about the hope of heaven and pointed out that Christians can use this hope to cope with the problems of this world. Then he used that point to motivate people to believe in Christ. While I agree that hope is a blessing of Christianity I hardly think it is the Biblical gospel. Conspicuously absent from the message was any conviction of sin through the preaching of the Law. Like Luz said, sinners need to be told that they are sinners. The only mention of sin was in the closing "sinner's prayer" that Pastor Jones led...not quite the emphasis on sin I would expect in a gospel message. I will be praying for the elders and pastors and will probably e-mail Pastor Jones to express my thoughts and see if I misunderstood what he was saying.

Friday, April 18, 2003

"We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin." (Romans 6:6). Today I ponder the involvement I had in the death of Christ. His death took the penalty for my sin and in a completely real sense, His death was my death. My old self died on that cross. And though I still live in this body of flesh, God considers it dead. Do I contemplate this reality? Do I really believe His Word? Lord, give me the grace to know You more. Help me to understand deeply what it is that You did for me on the cross. It was through that act that Your love and Your justice, Your grace and Your truth, were symphonized beautifully. Thank you for the cross.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

I want to comment on another topic before everyone thinks all I ever write about is eschatology.

Last night my dad and I went to a meeting for the Family Bible Class (FBC). The FBC is a Sunday school class at Grace Community Church (the church I've attended my entire life) where families worship together on Sunday mornings. The teaching is done by a rotation of fathers with that gift.

Anyway, I am excited about a new teaching series that FBC is starting. It's called "How can God love _____ through me?" Each week a new non-Christian religion or cult will be inserted in the blank. So one week the topic will be "How can God love muslims through me?" And another week "How can God love atheists/humanists through me?" etc. While a general overview of the particular religion/cult will be taught, the focus will be on methods of evangelism.

I am looking forward to this series because of my personal interest in apologetics/evangelism and worldviews. I hope that we learn not only how to defend our faith better but also how to challenge the beliefs of non-Christians in a loving way. Most of all I hope that we will be inspired and emboldened to get out there and engage people in conversations.

The Parousia - James Stuart Russell

After rereading Matthew 24 and the interpretation of it by Russell in the above link, I realized that Engelsma's argument is against a straw man, at least in regards to my view. Engelsma argues against Kik's interpretation and specifically attacks the hard line Kik draws at verse 34 between what is fullfilled and what is still to come. My understanding, like Russell, is that there is a continuance of thought throughout the chapter and that throughout it all, Christ was speaking of pre-AD 70 events. Once I reaffirmed this, Engelsma's argument blows up in smoke in my mind. All of his points are either circular logic or straw-man arguments, at least in my mind.

So, what does this mean? It means that I am once again a dedicated believer in partial preterism. And it is going to take something better than Engelsma's article to convince me otherwise. Jesus words are so clear, so it's difficult for me to conceive of a rational argument against preterism.

I have yet to be convinced of postmillennialism however. To theonomy, I say probably, to reconstruction, maybe. As I keep saying, more study is required.

Monday, April 14, 2003

A Defense of (Reformed) Amillennialism

Well, I found it. I've been looking for a couple of weeks for a comprehensive and free online article which refutes postmillennialism from an amillennialist perspective. The two views (postmil and amil) have been of interest to me ever since I realized that inserting thousand-year gaps of time into the biblical prophetic timetable in order to support a wooden literal interpretation of apocalyptic literature (dispensational premillenialism) is not a good hermaneutic.

Up until this evening, I have been a dedicated believer in partial preterism, but after reading relavent parts of the page linked above, I'm not so sure about Matthew 24 anymore. And I've always had doubts about the postmillenial promises of world domination by Christians. Clearly, the postmillenial optimism is undergirded by the partial preterist interpretation of Matthew 24. If the tribulation was over and done with in AD 70, most of the gloom and doom passages in the New Testament can be explained away. But if Jesus was really using AD 70 as a picture of his future coming, much of the trials and tribulations predicted can be expected today.

The main problem I have with amillennialism is that it seems to propogate the same sacred-secular dichotomy that is common among evangelicals today. Christ's kingdom is spiritual, so His Word only applies to spiritual things in the here and now? I don't think that this is exactly the amil position, however I'm having trouble squaring my presuppositionalism (assumption of an all-encompassing Christian worldview is critical) with the limited nature of Christ's kingdom in the amil position. I need to keep reading and studying.

Can I be a theonomist amillennialist?


Thank you Lord for the time to study these things. May I know You better because of it. Remind me to rely upon Your Word as the final source of truth. Give me wisdom to rightly divide your Word. And, especially this week, help me to focus on the central point of all history: the death and resurrection of Your Son. Thank you for loving me that much.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

What does the Great Commission mean? Specifically, what do the words "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" in Matthew 28:19 mean?

Do they mean that we are to take all the people that become Christians after we preach the gospel to them (Mark 16:15) and make them fully-devoted followers of Christ? That's basically what I've always been taught.

Or, does it mean this:

"He is simply commanding that we work to expand His kingly influence over the affairs of the world, and that means we must make disciples of the nations — leaving the question of their regeneracy and election to Him." (from chalcedon.edu)

In order to accept this alternative interpretation, one must have a specific understanding of the word "disciple" in this passage. I've always understood "disciple" to mean a follower of Christ who is already born-again. But the referenced article states that "although every born-again believer is a disciple, not every disciple is necessarily born-again." Is this true? Can one be a "disciple" without being regenerated?

The other very interesting point in this article which I've been considering is the idea that "discipling the nations" is more than discipling individual people...much more:

"[The] Great Commission seeks the comprehensive influence of Christ's sovereignty over every facet of a nation."

That's pretty deep.  Did Christ intend for his command to be understood in such a corporate way? It does say "disciple all nations" not "disciple all people." If this interpretation of the Great Commission is true, it changes a major part of the mission of Christians in my mind. More study of this topic is definitely a must...


Paz (http://www.xanga.com/pazgl) told me about this site, so I thought I'd give it a try. It looks like a pretty neat way to interact online to me. Now, let's see how often I write on this thing...