30 January 2015

Some Here, Some There — January 30, 2015

by Dan Phillips

Short post this week, at least for starters. And probably for keeps, though we'll see.
  • Indeed, Christopher Ames hits very hard at the "We need prestige desperately" impulse that seems to drive many Top Men and their attendants.
  • Things I Wonder: does Christianity Today have an Invention-of-squeakingly-self-important-angsty-titles Department?
  • It was great seeing all of you who supported the Sufficient Fire conference by coming last week. Phil, Frank, and I had a wonderful time bringing the word and meeting you all. David Regier was there and gave me a gift by providing his expert mad piano skilz as I sat at the (excellent) visiting musicians' drum set. David's a pro; I never was, and haven't touched a drum set in probably 5 years or more. But here is the part that Bill O'Neill — who travelled all the way from Vermont — captured:
  • To quote the late great Terry Kath, for my part of it, "It was fun! I don't know about anything else."
  • It was a terrific time, overall. Phil and Frank's talks were tremendous, the mood was joyous, and the fellowship was choice. Josh Feinberg organized the whole with many wonderful volunteers helping him. Praise God that overall, the event itself was a...
  • People who did not come ask if the sessions will be online. They are not at present. I'll let you know if that changes. But if you want to support what we did and would like to support our making it available, contact Josh Feinberg. He'll show you how.

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29 January 2015

Watch your language, Guard your relationships

by Phil Johnson

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Phil back in October 2009. Phil offered his thoughts on Eph 5:3-6 and its application in our day.

As usual, the comments are closed.
We often hear people suggest that because the apostle Paul used the word skubalon, (translated fittingly as "dung" in the KJV), scatology has thereby been sanctified. Have at it. If Paul could say that, nothing should be taboo. Christians nowadays likewise try to justify even worse kinds of crudeness on the grounds that Paul spoke harshly and indelicately about the Judaizers in Galatians 5:12. (He hinted that since they believed circumcision makes a person holier, they ought to take their doctrine to the next level and emasculate themselves.) I've responded to those argumentsrepeatedly.

But notice what Paul himself said about lewd and off-color language. He classifies it as impurity in Ephesians 5:3-6, where he treats indecent language as one of several worldly substitutes for love. The Greek term Paul uses is akatharsia, a word that refers to every kind of filth and pollution—"uncleanness" in the KJV. Paul is talking about real spiritual uncleanness, not ceremonial defilement, but moral filth.

And when he gives some specific examples of akatharsia in verse 4, all of them have to do with the misuse of language: "obscenity," "foolish talk," and "coarse jesting." He is talking about the words we use, the things we talk about, and the spirit of our conversation. He covers all the bases.

Look at any of Satan's strongholds; any place where wickedness operates unrestrained; wherever you find a band of thieves or a federation of scoundrels—from the juvenile gangs that roam our streets to the old-men's club that hangs out at the neighborhood tavern. "Filthiness . . . foolish talk [and] crude joking" are always their main stock in trade. That's what will consume the leisure time they spend together. Because those are the main badges of fleshly fellowship, and that is the glue that substitutes for authentic love in virtually every worldly fraternity. That is exactly what Paul is describing, and he says, Don't let such things characterize your fellowship with one another.

In order to obey the principle Paul sets forth here, we need to be intentionally counter-cultural, because our culture values evil companionship much more than wholesome love. Have you ever considered the degree to which this is true? "Filthiness . . . silly talk, [and] coarse jesting" are virtually the trademarks of secular society. Vile language, crude subject matter, silly talk, and sheer folly are the main currency of the contemporary entertainment industry. The corrupt notion of brotherhood Paul is attacking here is exactly what most of our culture has substituted in the place of real love.

That's why movies are filled with dirty words and smutty themes. That's why contemporary comedy is so dependent on vile language and filthy subject matter to get a laugh. Situation comedies on television used to feature families and plot lines. Now they are shows about nothing dealing mainly with relationships between friends who are unmarried, unattached, and lacking any discernible direction in their lives. "Filthiness . . . foolish talk[, and] crude joking" describes about 99 percent of the content of programs like that.

Our culture insists those things are perfectly benign, but Paul says they are not. Carnal camaraderie is practically the antithesis of true, godly love. Crude language, filthy joking, and risque entertainment are "not fitting" for Christians. They have no place in the Christian's walk. Verse 12: "For it is a shame even to speak of those things which [they do in secret]." Keep those things out of your life. More than that, keep references to things like that out of your conversation, Paul says.

And notice this: he categorizes spicy talk about frivolous subject matter along with some of the most serious of all sins. Don't get addicted to that brand of language and humor, and especially don't allow that kind of companionship to characterize your own life.

27 January 2015

Red lights

by Dan Phillips

It occurred to me that many might be served if we offered warning-signs of (at worst) false or (at best) unreliable teachers. Here are a number of such indicators. Some are instantly obvious; others only over the passage of time (cf. 1 Tim. 5:24).

Any one of these should signal alarm. Found all together in the same person, trainwreck is assured.
  1. He seems more energized about "gray areas" and supposed lacunae in the Bible than he is about the crystal-clear fundamentals (contrast 1 Cor. 15:1ff.).
  2. He casts doubt on the existence of crystal-clear fundamentals, or makes much of their subjective, varied nature (1 Tim. 6:3-5).
  3. He seems to sow many seeds of doubt about Biblical teaching, while at the same time sowing no such seeds about his own (Col. 2:18; 1 Tim. 1:4).
  4. He's always running after the Cool Kidz' position or concern of the day (Gal. 1:10).
  5. The Gospel is, at best, an afterthought (contra 1 Cor. 1:17).
  6. The designed effect of his presentations is that people come away thinking a lot about him, and little about the text and the God who is seen through the text (Gal. 4:17). Relatedly...
  7. Any hopes that saints can know truth certainly for themselves (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1) are buried under assertions or implications that he knows truth for them.
  8. He talks about things God says to him personally that He doesn't say to anyone else (Col. 2:18, Gk).
  9. "What verse are we on?" is usually hard to answer (Isa. 8:20).
  10. He's very excited about brand-new, bleeding-edge movements that anyone with a whiff of historical sense can see as failed diversions from the 1920s (cf. Jude 4, 17-19).
  11. His chest-pounding rhetoric quickly collapses into squealing victimhood under the least solid criticism (1 Cor. 4:19).
  12. He's always the hero of his personal stories (contra 2 Cor. 4:5).
  13. He often hides behind paper-thin clichés (Col. 2:21-22).
  14. His dependence on paper-thin clichés suggests that he keeps to a very small circle, one closely resembling an echo-chamber (2 Cor. 10:12b).
  15. He is rightly best known for something other than his clear, forceful, passionate, focused declaration of the Gospel and Word of God (contra 2 Cor. 8:18).
  16. He gives reason to suspect that it's more important to him to amaze, amuse and impress, to his own glory, than to reprove, rebuke and exhort by preaching God's word to God's glory (2 Tim. 4:1-5).
  17. It would not affect much of his preaching if Christ had not been raised (contra 1 Cor. 2:2; 15:14).
  18. Had a meteoric rise to prominence while still quite young, without much dues-paying and/or apprenticeship to a faithful man or men... and his name doesn't rhyme with "Marles Murgeon" (1 Tim. 3:6).
  19. People who hate God and God's law really like him and his preaching (cf. Luke 6:26).
  20. Doesn't have much time for nobodies who can't do anything for him (Mark 10:43).
  21. The depth of his theological reading seems to go back about five years, if that (cf. Acts 17:21).
  22. He's pretty much the issue. Not the Gospel, not the Word; not the uncomfortable edges that any faithful preacher of the Word would preach. Him (contra 2 Cor. 4:5).
  23. He makes a big deal of how God is bigger than the Bible. Metaphysically, the point is so obvious as not to need saying; so usually when someone makes a big point of it, "bigger than the Bible" is code for "other than what the Bible says" (Deut. 4:12; Isa. 8:20). Similarly:...
  24. He makes a big deal of how we don't worship book. Again, the point is so obvious and undisputed as not to need saying. Also often code for "need not worship according to this book" (Leviticus 10:1ff.).

(This list may well grow, as Phillips' Axioms has.)

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25 January 2015

Woodworking 101

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Gospel of the Kingdom, page 41, Pilgrim Publications.
"The judging faculty is best employed at home." 

Our tendency is to spy out splinters in other men’s eyes, and not to see the beam in our own. Instead of beholding, with gratified gaze, the small fault of another, we should act reasonably if we penitently considered the greater fault of ourselves.

It is the beam in our own eye which blinds us to our own wrongdoing; but such blindness does not suffice to excuse us, since it evidently does not shut our eyes to the little error of our brother. Officiousness pretends to play the oculist; but in very truth it plays the fool.

Fancy a man with a beam in his eye pretending to deal with so tender a part as the eye of another, and attempting to remove so tiny a thing as a mote or splinter! Is he not a hypocrite to pretend to be so concerned about other men’s eyes, and yet he never attends to his own?

Jesus is gentle, but he calls that man a “hypocrite” who fusses about small things in others, and pays no attention to great matters at home in his own person. Our reformations must begin with ourselves, or they are not true, and do not spring from a right motive.

Sin we may rebuke, but not if we indulge it. We may protest against evil, but not if we willfully practise it. The Pharisees were great at censuring, but slow at amending. Our Lord will not have his kingdom made up of hypocritical theorists, he calls for practical obedience to the rules of holiness.

After we are ourselves sanctified, we are bound to be eyes to the blind, and correctors of unholy living; but not till then. Till we have personal piety, our preaching of godliness is sheer hypocrisy. May none of us provoke the Lord to say to us, "Thou hypocrite"!

23 January 2015


by Dan Phillips

If you want to learn how to support extending the reach of the conference, contact Josh Feinberg.

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22 January 2015

"Sufficient Fire"

by Dan Phillips

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Dan back in May 2012.

As usual, the comments are closed.
I think the truth of the sufficiency of Scripture may be the central Biblical doctrine under attack in our day.  Of course cults, heresies and false religions attack it, as they must. What is saddest to see is all the "friendly" fire that well-meaning obsessives have leveled with a boldness that seems to be on the increase.

I've come at this topic "at sundry times and in divers manners," including here, here, and here, among many others.

Sunday was part three of our Thinking Biblically series at CBC, and the sufficiency of Scripture was one of the foci of the sermon titled What Should We Do with the Bible? (That and, well, once again too many other things.) I'll lift out a part of the sermon, part that actually wasn't in the notes.

I grant that my efforts may not have convinced everyone, though I will keep trying. But virtually all remotely-sound Christians will at least give a nod to the proviso that yes, yes, yes, the Bible is God's Word, and yes, it's some kind of sufficient, and no, no hemi-demi-semi-kindasorta revelation can displace it — well, not formally, anyway.

So agree with me on this. If you really believe what you say you really believe, this should be no problem. Here we go:

Agree heartily to believe in and use Scripture as befits what it claims about itself. Treat it like it is what you say you believe it is: God's actual, real-live, inerrant, personal, living and powerful Word. Approach it as you would actually approach such a treasure as you profess to affirm to have found in Scripture.

That is, pledge yourself exclusively to seek God and His will according to Scripture. Pray only for light to understand Scripture (cf. Psa. 119:18; 2 Tim. 4:7). Commit yourself only to regard what comes from Scripture as God's binding will for you. Set aside all the yeah-buts and evasions and distractions and special-pleadings and fourteenth-hand stories and traditions, for a time.

Set yourself to seeking and being in a church that emphatically teaches the Bible as if it were what it says it is, that devotes itself to the exposition and proclamation and practice of Scripture as God's inerrant word, without the endless distractions of entertainment and fads and dancing bears.

Devote yourself exclusively to studying Scripture, all sixty-six books. Set yourself to master every book, every chapter, every verse, every word. Seek perfect understanding of all of Scripture, and Scripture only, as containing what God really wants you to know. Memorize all of it.

Finally (and at the same time) commit yourself to practicing Scripture perfectly. All of it. Master it, and be mastered by it — exclusively. If it is not Bible or a valid straight-line application of the Bible, do not claim it as any level of special revelation from God.

20 January 2015

See you soon!

by Dan Phillips

Howdy, as we say in Texas.

As we're looking forward to seeing y'all in just a few days, preparations are going on busily all over. That includes the pastor's study!

So for once I'm not going to pare off the time to shape and shine and perfect a post. What we're all doing, including what I'm doing, will show in what you enjoy when you sit down with us here for our first-ever back-together-again-for-the-first-time Pyromaniacs Sufficient Fire conference.

It's stacking up to be a fun, encouraging, edifying time. We all appreciate your prayers.

According to the weather, bring warm clothes and a rain jacket.

See you Friday!

PS — if you're unable to come but want to support what we're doing, contact Josh Feinberg.

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