Monday, July 21, 2014

So You're Presbyterian???

Earlier this summer news broke confusing one Presbyterian denomination for another.  In this case it involved confusing the larger and more theologically liberal Presbyterian Church USA (PC-USA) for the smaller and more conservative Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).  I am a minister in the latter denomination.  This confusion quickly led to a retraction and correction about the breaking news.  Shortly thereafter one writer took some time to formally list the differences between the two denominations.  That article can be found here.

Presbyterian denominations aren't the only ones who get confused with each another: It happens all the time among Lutherans.  Here is a witty video that highlights the tension members of conservative churches feel when they discuss church matters with people unfamiliar with the teachings of Scripture.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

UPDATE - Endless winter: Yes, there's still ice on Lake Superior

UPDATE 6/10/14

Winter continues to hang on around Lake Superior. Check out this story about icebergs that have collected around some of the islands in northern Wisconsin.

Original Post on 6/4/14

It has been a long cool spring in our area following the hard winter.  Last weekend we were treated to temperatures in the upper 80s.  It is graduation season and on nearly every street it seems that there is another open house.  Folks are busy with their yards or enjoying the great outdoors.  Our local paper reported that a teenager caught a 35 lb muskie on one of the area rivers.  

Believe it or not, there is still ice on parts of Lake Superior.  Go here to see photos and read more about it. Here is another story with even more photos.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Joining and Receiving - June 3rd, 1981

From the website of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, This Day in OPC History:

June 3

Joining and Receiving

On June 3, 1981, the last full day of the 48th General Assembly of the OPC that met at Geneva College, the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations brought its recommendation regarding “Joining and Receiving.” “J and R,” as it was commonly abbreviated, was an ambitious plan to unite into one body three churches, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church in America, and Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. Bypassing a protracted process of negotiated merger, the plan called for the OPC and the RPCES to join and be received by the larger PCA. Noting that the RPCES had approved "J and R" three days earlier, the CEIR emphatically urged that the OPC could only come to one conclusion regarding this plan: it “must unite with these churches.”

Go here to read the rest of the story and to learn who kept the PCA, RPCES and the OPC from uniting.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

By Grace I'm Saved, Grace Free and Boundless

By Grace I'm Saved, Grace Free and Boundless
# 456 Trinity Hymnal -
Text: Christian L. Scheidt, 1742

By grace I'm saved, grace free and boundless; 
my soul, believe and doubt it not.
Why stagger at this word of promise?  
Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?  
No; then this word must true remain: 
by grace you too shall heav'n obtain.

By grace! None dare lay claim to merit; 
our work and conduct have no worth.
God in his love sent our Redeemer,
Christ Jesus, to this sinful earth; 
his death did for our sins atone,
and we are saved by grace alone.

By grace! O mark this word of promise
when you are by sins oppressed, 
When Satan plagues your troubled conscience,
and when your heart is seeking rest.
What reason cannot comprehend
God by his grace to you will send.

By grace!  This ground of faith is certain;
so long as God is true, it stands.
What saints have penned by inspiration,
what in his Word our God commands,
what our whole faith must rest upon,
is grace alone, grace in his Son.*


Hard to believe that a pastor who selects this hymn when planning worship could be accused of being an antinomian.  Hard to believe that a congregation that sings this hymn could be accused of being antinomian.  

The reason why I included the citation to the Trinity Hymnal is to draw attention to the fact that this is the official hymnal of the PCA and the OPC.  Did those who served on the Trinity Hymnal Revision Committee make a mistake?  If so, should we rip this out of our hymnal?  If not, why not? 

Note: I have also included a notation that this hymn was included in the original Trinity Hymnal (# 399).  Are we to conclude that the OPC has been wrong about this for more than 50 years? 

* Two additional stanzas can be found here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Belgic Confession: The Justification of Sinners

 Article 23: The Justification of Sinners

We believe that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus Christ, and that in it our righteousness before God is contained, as David and Paul teach us when they declare that man blessed to whom God grants righteousness apart from works.[1]

And the same apostle says that we are justified “freely” or “by grace” through redemption in Jesus Christ.[2]  And therefore we cling to this foundation, which is firm forever, giving all glory to God, humbling ourselves, and recognizing ourselves as we are; not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits and leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified, which is ours when we believe in him.

That is enough to cover all our sins and to make us confident, freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God’s approach, without doing what our first father, Adam, did, who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves.

In fact, if we had to appear before God relying – no matter how little – on ourselves or some other creature, then, alas, we would be swallowed up.

Therefore everyone must say with David:  “Lord, do not enter into judgment with your servants, for before you no living person shall be justified.”[3]

[1] Psalm 32:1; Romans 4:6
[2] Romans 3:24
[3]Psalm 143:2 

Hard to believe that anyone preaching this might be accused of being antinomian.