Wayne, Garth and John Calvin

My attitude towards¬† Top 10 lists may be summed up with one word, to quote Brick Top, “Ehh.”

However that didn’t stop me from recruiting Wayne and Garth to present my Top 10 dishes (below) or previously posting the Top 10 quotes of 2007.

waynes-top10-list
A list only a cardiologist and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals could love.

In my previous post I intimated that 2009, for me, would be the year of Calvin, this in reference to my stated goal of getting through his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

I’m roughly following the reading plan found here.

The same folks (Reformation21) also published a post titled, Why read through Calvin’s Institutes in 2009? , in which Pastor Ligon Duncan gives his Top 10 answers to that very question.

My ehhness toward Top 10 lists doesn’t prevent me from listing Pastor Duncan’s Top 10, they are as follows:

  1. Because it is the most important book written in the last 500 years.
  2. Because it is foundational for every Reformed systematic theology ever since.
  3. Because Calvin was the best exegete in the history of Christianity.
  4. Because Calvin is one of the five greatest theologians in Christian history.
  5. Because he wrote it as a “sum of piety” not as an arid, speculative dogmatic treatise.
  6. Because it gave J.I. Packer the idea for “Knowing God.”
  7. Because Calvin thought and wrote succintly and clearly. “Brevitas et claritas” was his motto – brief and clear!
  8. Because you will know God better, if you read it prayerfully and believingly.
  9. Because it’s the 500th anniversary year of Calvin’s birthday. Don’t be a party pooper.
  10. Because I agree with what Derek and Iain say in their posts.
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Calvin in ’09

Gift cards. To some they are the very antithesis of the gift giving spirit associated with Christmas. Whether or not they are one more sign that the apocalypse is upon us I can’t say, but having received an American Express variant for Christmas, I did make use of it shortly thereafter.

What did I purchase? The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin (Published by Hendrickson).

The work was originally written in Latin, and since my 2 years of high school Latin mostly taught me that there was a shortage of Latin teachers and not much beyond that, I must read a translation of Calvin’s magnum opus.

I’ve read books on Reformed theology who cite Calvin but have never read anything written by the man himself. It seemed best to go straight to the source, especially one associated with so much controversy (is that the right word?)

I started reading and found it not too difficult to follow, it is an immense help that the edition I purchased has footnotes as well as several indices (Scripture, people, works) in the back. Didn’t get out of Book 1 before I found out that the good folks over at Reformation 21 are blogging through Calvin’s work in 2009:

Blogging the Institutes

So without further ado, we present the unofficial poster of “Blogging the Institutes”,

john-calvin

Martin Luther and the Inauguration

On this historic day (as is every other day that transpires), I think that words from a man who undoubtedly altered the course of Western civilization are appropriate.

No, I do not refer to our current president, Barack Obama, but rather to a foul-mouthed, hard-headed, recovering monk, one Martin Luther (1483-1546, below).

martin-luther

It can be safely said that Luther can be grouped with Paul in the category of men “who have upset the world.”

Luther’s commentary of Paul’s letter to the Galatians is a classic which I am currently reading and enjoying immensely. Not coincidentally, I read these words today:

In matters of politics, God wishes us to honor and respect those outward veils or persons as His instruments by whom He governs and preserves the world.

But when the question concerns religion, conscience, the fear of God, faith, and the service of God, we must not fear these outward persons; we must not put our trust in them or look for comfort from them or hope for deliverance from them, either physically or spiritually.

I should neither fear nor trust the judge but God alone, who is the true judge.

Yes, as followers of Christ we are commanded to pray for our leaders, but this in no way gives us leeway to descend into a mindless and idolatrous treatment of our political leaders.

Exhibit A comes from someone who commented on today’s events as described in a story from the Daily Mail,

Today’s momentous occasion is a time for celebration for all world citizens. It perhaps marks the rights of passage into a more tolerant and mature phase in humanity and highlights further evolution of our species into a less barbaric and hopefully more egalitarian society.

Exhibit B can be seen in stories like this one.

So, pray and pray hard for President Obama (see Dr. Mohler’s prayer), but let us not fool ourselves into thinking that perhaps today’s inauguration wasn’t complete because of the absence of a donkey, her colt, palm branches and the crowds laying down their coats before the presidential limo.

Away with the Atheists

polycarp
Polycarp: 2nd Century Atheist, Bishop, Martyr

Contrary to the opinion of some, this post’s title was not the rallying cry of the alleged Bush theocracy that infringed on the rights of people who steadfastly believe in spontaneous generation.

Rather, the post’s title was a derisive chant shouted by 2nd Century pagans in reference to Christians. That “atheist” now refers to a subset of modern-day pagans is an irony lost on many.

Usage of the phrase, ‘away with the atheists!’, is documented in the account of Polycarp’s martyrdom (you can read it here).

“Away with the atheists!” was an appeal to the Roman government to murder people whose only “crime” was total and utter trust in the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.

The Roman proconsul plead with Polycarp to condemn his fold by yelling “Away with the atheists!”. The proconsul uttered these words to the 86-year-old bishop,

Have respect to your age! Swear by the fortune of Caesar; change your mind; say, ‘Away with the atheists!’

After this he plead with Polycarp to curse our Lord, to which the aged bishop replied:

Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?

The proconsul then came back with threats. First it was wild beasts, which would have brought delight to the bloodthirsty ‘theists’ in the crowd.

Next came the threat of being burned alive. Then Polycarp, 2nd Century atheist, replied,

The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little; for you do not know the fire of the coming judgment and everlasting punishment that is laid up for the impious. But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.

I guess the faithful bishop didn’t buy annihilationism

Still Waiting on Rioting Hindus…

Some facts:

It has been 2 weeks since Halloween

This is supermodel Heidi Klum:
klum

This was supermodel Heidi Klum on Halloween dressed up as Kali:
klum halloween 011108

Predictably, Heidi won best costume according to this story:

Heidi Klum faces flak from Hindus for posing as Goddess Kali in Halloween bash

Read more of this post

Tolerance Strikes Again

This time in Delta Township, Michigan:

Gay rights protesters disrupt Sunday service

I wonder if the protesters were throwing these around:
zero-tolerance

“Hi! I’m a Zero Tolerance Wheel”

The Religious Right: Boom… Outta Here?

religious-right

(Created with the Tombstone Generator found here)

If anything, the above image has been the nocturnal emission of legions of people in these United States. Perhaps some of whom actually believe they might have actually had something to do with the demise of the so-called Religious Right.

Whether what the image conveys is true, that’s up for unhealthy debate, but columnist Cal Thomas seems to believe so.¬† In fact, the idea for generating the image came from the title of his latest column:

Religious Right R.I.P.

Here is a primer:

Social movements that relied mainly on political power to enforce a conservative moral code weren’t anywhere near as successful as those that focused on changing hearts.