Anglican Church Suspends American Episcopalian Church over Gay Marriage

Canterbury CathedralEven though both England and the US have legalized gay marriage, and even though the archbishop of Canterbury approves gay marriage, the Anglican communion as a whole does not — and it has suspended the American Episcopalian Church over the issue.

The Religion News Service reports,

In July, the Episcopal Church voted to allow its clergy to perform same-sex marriages, a move not taken by the majority of churches in the Anglican Communion.

“Given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies … ,” a statement issued by the Anglican Communion reads. “They will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.” Continue reading

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The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 12 (until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; Rom 10:25-26a)

abraham god calling him

Rom 11:25-26a

(Rom. 11:25-26a ESV)  25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  26 And in this way all Israel will be saved … .

So, believe it or not, we’re just now getting to the really hard part of chapter 11. As we covered a few posts ago, “mystery” refers to something that was once hidden but is now revealed. Paul’s explanation of how the salvation of the Jews and Gentiles is coming about is the revelation of a profound truth that used to be hidden.

In v. 25, the “partial hardening” of Israel will continue until “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Continue reading

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The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 11 (the branches broken off and grafted in; Rom 10:17-24)

abraham god calling himRom 11:-17-21

(Rom. 11:17-21 ESV) 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.

Paul uses an olive tree as a metaphor for Israel. The OT and intertestamental literature uses the same image many times. Continue reading

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Baptism: How young is too young?

youthbaptismIn the comments at the Regarding the Proper Role for the Pulpit Minister post, a discussion has broken out regarding how old someone must be to have an understanding sufficient for the baptism to be effective.

This is not about infant baptism per se, but whether we should baptize a very young child who requests baptism.

For what it’s worth, I myself was baptized at eight. I knew the Five Steps of Salvation. The preacher insisted that I must recite this to prove my understanding. I knew what all the words meant. I knew I supposed to be good afterwards. Oh, and I believed in Jesus.

I should also add that I don’t believe that the “age of accountability” has to be the same as the age at which a child can have saving faith. There is no obvious reason that the age at which God holds you accountable for sin is also the age at which you may come to faith. I suppose you might argue that there’s no need for forgiveness in the absence of being accountable for sin, but being baptized is about more than forgiveness — and as important as it is, we manage to over-emphasize the forgiveness element in our preaching due to our Frontier Revivalism roots.  Continue reading

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The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 10 (Making the Jews jealous; Rom 11:9-16)

abraham god calling himRom 11:9-10

(Rom. 11:9-10 ESV) 9 And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; 10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.”

Paul next quotes from Psalm 69:22-23 to make a similar point regarding God’s darkening of the eyes of Israel. Except in this case, the psalmist is not asking for God to keep his enemies from understanding; he is asking for justice — that his enemies suffer as he has suffered. In fact, the curses he calls down on his enemies parallel his suffering recorded in vv. 1 – 10 —

Although the imprecations of these verses sound severe to modern ears, these wishes and petitions do focus on judgment in kind. They seek a reversal. Moreover, as prayers, they commit this just retribution to God. Because “they put gall in my food” (v. 21), may the table set before them become a snare (v. 22). Because “my eyes fail” (v. 3), may their eyes be darkened so they cannot see (v. 23). Because “I am a stranger to my brothers” (v. 8), may their place (or tents) … be deserted (v. 25). Because “I sink in the miry depths” (vv. 2–3, 14–15), may your salvation, O God, “set me on high” (Hb. teśaggebēnî, NIV protect me, v. 29). (On the book of life, see on 87:6.)

Robert L. Jr. Hubbard and Robert K. Johnston, Psalms, 2012, 288.

Therefore, the passage Paul quotes is not speaking of predestination or hardening but justice for the faithlessness of the Jews who reject Jesus. In fact, the earlier verses of the Psalm are often applied to Jesus — Continue reading

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The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 9 (Further on”Harden” in Exodus)

abraham god calling himIn the last post, we observed that the Jewish worldview assumes that God is involved in everything, whether to our minds natural or supernatural, but without taking away free will.

This was part of their worldview, that is, how they saw the world, and therefore isn’t explained in scripture, at least not directly. This post will explore how God can be involved in everything that happens without taking away free will.

Bush (Exodus 1:65) argued that “the language implies simply [and he cites usage that agrees in Judg 9:24; 2 Chron 26:8; Isa 35:3; 41:7; and Jer 23:14] that the course of events should be so ordered that, without any positive divine influence exerted upon him, the haughty king should take occasion to confirm himself in the disregard of the counsels of the Most High.… This God is said to have done because he permitted it to be done

Walter C. Kaiser Jr., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, 1990, 2, 334 (emphasis and bracketed material his).

Continue reading

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Apple Music

applemusicI mentioned before that I like to listen to music while I write. And it needs to be the right kind of music — meaning nothing much found on the radio.

I have wide-ranging tastes, but you won’t find me listening to country or rap — but I will listen to contemporary bluegrass.

And I found NoiseTrade and find that I enjoy about one out of every four or five artists there. Hence, I post several NoiseTrade free downloads. But I feel guilty not tipping. The workman deserves his wages, as Paul said. But it’s been costing way too much. I think I may have a NoiseTrade addiction problem.

So I’m trying out Apple Music. I never got on board with Spotify because I really need a service that works with iTunes. And I like iTunes because I can sync my phone, my mini-iPad, and computer’s collections. I can share songs with my kids. And I can play the same songs from an old, repurposed iPod Touch in my car. Continue reading

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Rufus Wainwright: “Live at Coventry”

I didn’t much care for this on first listen. But the second time through, it hooked me. Very different and yet not too different. Love the piano arrangements. Just brilliant. But you may have to give it more than one listen.

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The Pope, the Salvation of the Jews, and Calvinism, Part 8 (“Harden” in Exodus)

abraham god calling him

The meaning of “harden” in Rom 11:7-8 should be clear by now. And I know it’s hard to imagine me — of all people — over-arguing a case. But the point is not just to define Paul’s word. It’s to demonstrate a better way of reading the text — not just this text but all texts. So humor me as we dig more deeply into “harden.”

“Harden” in Exodus

The concept first appears when Moses demands that Pharaoh let God’s people go. Continue reading

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Wild Wild Horses: “Ordinary Life”

A pop song that begins with a tuba (or is it trombone?) — blown so loud it distorts — is so off the beaten path, it has to be good. (Reminds me of Imagine Dragons.)

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