Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Mortification of Spin: Being Human

Dr.Carl Trueman and co-host Aimee Byrd discuss human sexuality in light of the recent Duck Dynasty flap.  I found it to be an enlightening discussion that I wished were much longer.  I say this because they touched on the limits of natural law in our interactions with non-Christians while affirming the Bible's view of sexuality as more than a recreational act.  They view natural law as having a place in our dialog with non-Christians but to leave the discussion there comes far short of what Scripture teaches.  

Click here for the podcast. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, Natural Law and Handel's Messiah

I am a hunter.  I am a member of Ducks Unlimited and enjoy hunting ducks and geese.  I know who Phil Robertson is but don't pay much attention to Duck Dynasty.  Of late I've been a little busy and not too involved with the Phil Robertson story.  I first heard his comments on the drive home and they kind of took my breath away, especially the comment about human anatomy.  But as I have mulled them over I don't sense hatred or disdain for homosexuals as much as a degree of confusion and being puzzled about same-sex attraction.

Regarding anatomy, what did he say? 

It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical.
Apart from the word "sin" there isn't a reference to the Bible.  Though he may not know it this is an observation rooted in natural law.  Lest you think he is out in left field consider these words of J. Budziszewski who has taught at the University of Texas - Austin since 1981.  He is the author of the book, Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law

Deception #3: Homosexual intercourse is equivalent to heterosexual intercourse; "long-term committed homosexual relationship" is equivalent to marriage. What we do with our bodies has meaning. The message of anal intercourse, for example-an act which puts the organ that represents the generation of life into the place of decay and expulsion-is "Life, be engulfed in Death."

Again, no Scripture was quoted to make this point.  This isn't hate speech as much as it is an observation, rooted in natural law, about the purposes of various anatomical structures.

This leads me to my final point.  As I was listening to Handel's Messiah this morning I was stricken by the nature of human rebellion as recorded in the words "All we like sheep have gone astray" (see Isaiah 53:6).  That is the sad truth about all humanity: Phil Robertson, his detractors, his defenders, you and me.  In a clumsy way I think that was the message Robertson was trying to convey.

It seems to me that there are many who deny this very fact and they don't want anyone to remind them that they are in open rebellion toward God.  In the case of Phil Robertson they shut down discussion by shouting "Intolerance", "hate speech", and "homophobia".  But the message of Christmas is that God sent His Son into the world to save sheep that have gone astray.  Phil Robertson understands this perfectly well but that seems to have been drowned out in the by those who want him punished.

The Apostle Paul understood human rebellion and God's work to bring about reconciliation in these terms:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, the Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.  I Timothy 1:15-16. 

So to those offended by Phil Robertson's comments, look beyond that self-acknowledged sinner to the one he is trusting for his salvation, Jesus Christ.  Consider the one who took on human flesh to keep the moral law perfectly and to bear the penalty for sin.  That's what Christmas is all about - the wonder that God became man to save sinners from what they truly deserve.  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The PCA and Federal Vision Theology, Part II of the Jeff Meyers' Case

R. Scott Clark has posted Part II of his interview with M. Jay Bennett, one of the prosecutors in the Jeff Meyers' case.  The interview can be heard here. 

Like the first interview, this one will provide insight into how the case developed.  Of course it also touches on some of the politics in the PCA.

Ruling Elder Bob Mattes has posted his thoughts here.  He was called as a witness for the prosecution and has a lot of insight into this case.

For those who want to study this case more the entire record is available here. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

The PCA and Federal Vision Theology, Part I of the Jeff Meyers' Case

This last year has been a bit tough for those wishing that the PCA get tough in dealing with Federal Vision theology.  Two cases involving two ministers in different presbyteries, ended up with no action being taken against the ministers, even though both have signed the A Joint Federal Vision Statement (here).

Over at the Heidelblog, R. Scott Clark, of Westminster Seminary in California interviews .Rev. M. Jay Bennet, one of those who were involved with the Jeff Meyers' case in Missouri Presbytery.  After Missouri Presbytery conducted an investigation and concluded no presumption of guilt, Rev. Bennet filed a complaint because, in his opinion, the presbytery was biased in its finding.  That complain eventually went to a panel of the Standing Judicial Commission.  They reviewed the evidence and determined that there was a strong presumption of guilt and recommended a trial.  When the trial was held Rev. Bennet served as one of those prosecutors.

You can listen to the interview here.  Part two will follow.


Ruling elder Bob Mattes has written a nice piece over at Green Baggins.  Not only did he sign the original letter of concern (as I did) but he was called to be a witness at the Meyers' trial.  He provides some helpful insight into the actions of Missouri Presbytery as this trial unfolded.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Protest filed in Peter Leithart case

Teaching Elder Grover Gunn has filed a protest in the Peter Leithart case. This follows the recent Standing Judicial Commission decision to respond in the negative to three overtures from last summer's General Assembly for that court to assume original jurisdiction.  The text of that protest may be found here.

What I appreciate about the protest is that it isolates the very problem our denomination has with regard to conducting trials: if a court (Pacific Northwest Presbytery in the Leithart case) conducts "a technically correct trial" (it dots all of its "i"'s and crosses all of its "t"s) then there is no means by which that decision can be re-visited.  Thus a court may actually affirm teachings that the much of the denomination rejects, and there isn't a darn thing anyone can do about.

For the record, a protest does not change the outcome of the decision one iota.  According to our Book of Church Order a protest is a way for a member of a court to express his displeasure with an action of that court.  A protest is stronger way of expressing displeasure than a dissent.  The Book of Church Order offers these definitions:

45-1. Any member of a court who had a right to vote on a question, and is
not satisfied with the action taken by that court, is entitled to have a dissent
or protest recorded.

45-2. A dissent is a declaration on the part of one or more members of a
minority, expressing a different opinion from the majority in its action on any issue
before the court, and may be accompanied with the reasons on which it is founded.

45-3. A protest is a more solemn and formal declaration by members of a
minority, bearing their testimony against what they deem an improper or
erroneous action on any issue before the court, and is generally accompanied
with the reasons on which it is founded.

45-5. If a dissent, protest, or objection be couched in temperate language, and
be respectful to the court, it shall be recorded; and the court may, if deemed
necessary, put an answer to the dissent, protest, or objection on the records along
with it. Here the matter shall end, unless the parties obtain permission to withdraw
their dissent, protest, or objection absolutely, or for the sake of amendment.

It sounds as if the the SJC will respond to this protest.  Don't look for a change of heart on the matter. Rather look for affirmation that TE Grover Gunn has correctly pointed out the weakness in our constitution and the need for future amendments.  In the meantime TE Leithart and Pacific Northwest carry on.