Monday, December 26, 2005

"Baptists Can't Be Reformed . . . Can They?"

Much of me hesitates to even do this post. I do not wish to take part in logomachy, or disputes over mere words. To tell you the truth, I think that arguing over who is "Reformed" and who is not does nothing to help the advance toward unity of the faith. Therefore, my only point in doing this post is to simply get our paedobaptistic brothers and sisters to consider the validity of my points (or the non-validity).

The term "Reformed" is a loaded term. Just what does it mean? Baptists are not the first to be accused of not being truly "Reformed." Others who have been accused of not being "truly Reformed" include paedocommunionists, theonomists, and the like. However, Baptists are indeed part of the Reformation heritage, and most Reformed Baptists hold to covenant theology as well. So let us consider this.

AM I REFORMED?

Let us examine myself, to see whether I be part of the Reformed faith. (I know, this is rather goofy!) The following I believe and confess:

*I hold to covenant theology, with the covenants of redemption, works, and grace.

*I hold to the so-called "five points of Calvinism," or the doctrines of sovereign grace.

*I hold to the five "solas" (sola fide, solus Christus, sola Scriptura, sola gratia, and soli Deo gloria).

*I hang out in "Reformed" circles, use "Reformed" lingo, and I appreciate the use and legitimacy of confessions of faith.

*Etc.

More could be said about me being "truly Reformed," since I hold to the "Calvinist view" of the "Eucharist," or Lord's Table; since I prefer to use the term "sacrament" rather than "ordinance," and the list could go on.

I think that all of this is rather ridiculous and silly.

Why are we quibbling over who is "truly Reformed" and who is not? Since when did the label "Reformed" become important to the apostles?

So, it doesn't really bother me if my paedobaptistic brothers and sisters tell me, as I have so often heard, that "Reformed Baptist is an oxymoron!" I usually respond to that in one of two ways. I either say, "OK. That's fine." Or I have a little fun sometimes and take them to task.

When I take them to task, I try to do it respectfully and just for fun. So let the fun begin.

RESPONSES TO THE PAEDOBAPTIST "BAPTISTS CAN'T BE REFORMED" ARGUMENTS

"Baptists can't be Reformed!", cries the paedobaptist.

ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because they can't really hold to covenant theology without redefining it, since they cut the children out of the covenant.

RESPONSE: Paedobaptists "cut out" the unbelieving spouse, or other household members, of the covenant. They have a "dispensational hermeneutic" here.

ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because of the view they have of an independent church."

RESPONSE: The Savoy Declaration is the confession of the Congregationalist churches. These churches still practiced infant baptism, but believed in an independent and autonomous local church. Among them was none other than John Owen, perhaps the greatest theologian of the Puritans.

ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because they focus on the New Covenant not being like the Old Covenant."

RESPONSE: John Owen also believed that all of the Old Covenant had passed away. This is not something new, but this was a view which was held by some Puritans as well--even those who were paedobaptists, such as Owen.

ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because they don't see the sacraments as having saving efficacy."

RESPONSE: This may depend upon what kind of Reformed Baptist you encounter. But Keach's Catechism does use the language that the ordinances are "effectual unto salvation." Of course, not by any virtue in themselves, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. We do see God's ordinances as indispensable, and we especially think that those who neglect the Lord's Supper neglect their very own soul. It is indeed a means of grace.

ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because by cutting the children out of the covenant, they are being dispensational."

RESPONSE: Paedobaptists cut the other household members out of the covenant, so they are being dispensational.

ASSERTION: "Baptists can't be Reformed because they have an aberrant view of covenant theology."

RESPONSE: This assertion has never been proven. Besides, there is no one strand of covenant theology. There are several strands, and Baptists are just another strand of it.

I would like to conclude with one other thing to consider.

INFANT BAPTISM UNDERMINES COVENANT THEOLOGY

I believe that only the Baptist view of the covenant even allows for covenant theology. When we consider the doctrine of covenant or federal or representative headship, namely, that Adam is the federal head of all unbelievers, and we are born and conceived with Adam as our federal head, we must ask our paedobaptist friends:

Who is the federal head of the "covenant child"?

I have seen paedobaptists admit that the "covenant child" still needs to be regenerated. (They must add a kind of confirmation before they are admitted to the Lord's Table, interestingly enough. William Einwechter calls infant baptism a half-sacrament, because baptism was designed to be the sacrament of faith.) However, I have never heard or read a paedobaptist admit that their "covenant child" was conceived under God's wrath. But how then would the analogy hold of them being called out of the Egypt of slavery to sin and into the promised land of faith? It would not hold.

So I believe that covenant theology is Scriptural. This is why I think that the ultimate danger of paedobaptism is that it undermines the fabric of the faith itself. Could this be why the New Perspective on Paul is becoming so popular in Reformed circles these days? I of course can't prove this, but I do think it is something to think about. Could infant baptism be the catalyst for all of this?

CONCLUSION: STRIVE TOWARD UNITY, DON'T QUIBBLE OVER WORDS

Again, I was reluctant to write this post. Since the term "Reformed" is such a loaded term anyways, I think we should be careful when and how we use it. To argue over who is "Reformed," I believe, is silly. It does nothing to help the advance of the faith. In the above post my point was not to argue that Baptists can be Reformed--because I don't care. My point was to give our paedobaptistic brothers and sisters something to consider. I believe it is uncharitable to fight over this.

Who cares who is Reformed or not? Let's dialogue about what the Bible says, and not about who is "Reformed" or not.

May God continue to be patient with us, and with our many shortcomings.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

WE ARE LIKE GRASS . . .

I just found out that the lead singer of the first band I was in (called "The Big Cheeze") died suddenly of a heart attack last Wednesday.

His name was Cory Denton. He was very healthy, and athletically fit. He died of a heart attack during a soccer game he was playing.

This news came as shocking to me.

I remember spending the night at his house, playing chess with him, and of course playing in the band with him. He was our lead singer.

What should our response to this be?

We should pray that the Lord would have mercy upon us. We should recognize that God is the Source of all things. He is the Giver and Taker of life.

We should bow the knee before Him in repentance.

You see, this has been a wakeup call to me. Our death is imminent. We need to know that we are right with God.

There will be many on the last day who thought they were right with God, but Christ will tell them to depart from Him.

MANY HAVE ABANDONED THE FAITH

I have seen enough people fall away from the faith to last me a lifetime. When I was in Cory's band, shortly thereafter many in our circles started abandoning Christianity, and many started claiming they were Christians, but living lives like the world.

I have seen my own relatives abandon the faith.

I pray that God would be pleased to use this shocking situation to cause us all to seek His face in repentance and covenant obedience.

Lord, have mercy on me, the chief of sinners. Thank You for all of Your wonderful gifts. Thank You, most of all, for the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Lord our Righteousness. I pray that You would cause us to live in covenant obedience to You and to Your Holy Word. Cause us to live lives of repentance and faith. Let us walk humbly before You, our God. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Glorious Truth of Postmillennialism

The following post is of course in no way meant to be an exhaustive treatment of eschatology (the study of last things). I would refer the reader to the following books before I give my shpiel:

Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope, by Keith Mathison. Although I would disagree with Mathison's partial preterism, otherwise I think the book is excellent. He argues that postmillennialism is consistent with Reformed theology, and considers various passages of Scripture in both testaments.

The Victory of Christ's Kingdom, by John Jefferson Davis. This book is an excellent introduction to the postmillennial eschatology.

Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, with Kenneth Gentry presenting the postmillennial view. One thing I appreciate much is his response to Robert Strimple, a Reformed amillennialist. Gentry says that amillennialism stops short of postmillennial conclusions. This truth was one thing which led my wife and me from amillennialism to postmillennialism as well.

--Greg Bahnsen's article, "The Prima Facie Acceptability of Postmillennialism." I believe it can be found for free at www.cmfnow.com, but it is also a chapter in his book, Victory in Jesus: The Bright Hope of Postmillennialism. I think this article is a good article to whet your appetite and prepare you for further study.

Now, without further ado, let us begin our feast.

POSTMILLENNIALISM IS NOT SO MUCH ABOUT ESCHATOLOGY AS IT IS ABOUT CHRISTOLOGY

Postmillennialism is that view of last things which holds that the gospel of Christ will have overwhelming success in history, and that it will have converted the majority of mankind at some point before Christ returns. Most postmillennialists, as do I, also hold that God has elected to eternal life a multitude more than those He has reprobated.

Why does the Scripture hold this as true? This view is more about how we view Christ's kingship. Christ has been crucified, and He has risen in vindication. He now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. This is a place of authority and power.

In the Great Commission, our Lord says that, "all authority in heaven and on earth [italics mine] has been given to Me. Therefore go and disciple the nations." The Great Commission is concerned with people groups, and we are told in Matthew 24 that before our Lord returns, this gospel of the kingdom must be preached as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

This is connected to Psalm 110, where God says to Christ to "sit at My right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for Your feet." This cannot be talking about the future only, because in the same passage God tells Christ to "rule in the midst of Your enemies."

In the book of Revelation Christ conquers by the sword in His mouth, which is symbolic of the gospel preached. He goes out on a white horse and conquers the nations by the power of the Sword of God, that is, the gospel preached and applied by the Holy Spirit.

But all of this has its source in the promise that God made with Abraham. He promised he would be the father of many nations, and that his children would be as the dust of the earth. We are told in Galatians 3 that this is fulfilled in Christ, and in all who are united to Him by faith.

This is why David can say in Psalm 22 that "all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families You have made will worship You."

And we are told in Romans 11 that God's purpose in temporarily casting Israel aside is for the gospel to conquer the Gentile nations, at which Israel will become jealous, and then they too will turn to the Lord, which will spark an even greater host of conversions.

This, of course, is only a start for the study of God's promises. But Christ has come to destroy the works of the devil, and He has bound the strong man, so now He will spoil his house. Notice that Satan's kingdom will be spoiled, not just hit a little here and a little there. The gates of hades are no match for the onward march of the church of God. They will not stand up under the onslaught of Christ's church.

God is in the business of doing things which seem impossible to us. He gave Sarah a baby in her old age. He promises to cause us to persevere.

He also promises that His gospel will conquer.

Praise be to our covenant-keeping God!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Biblical View of Salvation

The term "salvation" in Scripture is spoken of in past, present, and future terms.

Past: We have been saved from the penalty of sin--> "justified" (declared righteous because of Christ's perfect obedience, satisfaction on the cross, and resurrection); God regenerated us and gave us a new nature, and He broke the chains of sin and thus set us apart for obedience (definitive sanctification).

Present: We are being saved from the power of sin--> "sanctified" (growing in holiness and in the image of Christ). This is called "progressive sanctification."

Future: We will be saved from the presence of sin--> "glorification."

The Bible equally teaches that to be "glorified" we must persevere in the faith until the very end of our lives.

But the term "perseverance" has been misunderstood as well. We are to strive in our sanctification and our perseverance. We may not remain complacent or lazy. We must progress, and we must continue progressing. If we do not, we will not gain heaven.

The Scriptures are clear on this. We are warned several times in Hebrews to strive to persevere. Hebrews 4 says, "Since we have the promise of entering His rest, let us make every effort to enter that rest."

Paul tells us to run in such a way that we may get the prize in 1 Corinthians 9. "I beat my body and make it my slave, lest I be disqualified for the prize."

Hebrews 12 tells us to strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Jesus tells us to make every effort to enter through the narrow gate. He says that many will try, and will not be able.

He also warns us to not be weighed down by the cares of this life. He warns His disciples to watch and pray, that they may be able to stand before the Son of Man.

Jesus says that the kingdom of God, since the days of John the Baptist, has "suffered violence, and violent men take it by force." Have you considered what our Lord means here? He is saying that we will not persevere in the faith and lay hold of heaven without violence and mortification in our sanctification.

Paul the apostle warns us not to be arrogant, but to fear in Romans 11.

Paul also considers himself not to have taken hold of it yet in Philippians 3.

All this is to say that, even though on the one side the Bible speaks of election and the assurance of perseverance, and that the elect can never lose their salvation, on the other hand it exhorts us to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1). We are to make sure that we really are of the elect. There have been many who "knew" they were elect, and abandoned the faith.

We therefore must watch and pray, and "wrestle with God" for our perseverance.

We need to have a healthy fear against falling away.

The Scriptures are replete with passages on this issue.

I think three books which look at this in an excellent biblical light are the following:

The Heavenly Footman, by John Bunyan.

The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan. (Note especially the warning that Interpreter gives to Christian when Christian observes the Man in the Iron Cage.)

Heaven Taken By Storm, by Thomas Watson.

May the Lord grant that we would not be slothful, but that we would press on in our faith and lay hold of Christ, our Prize.

--Josh Brisby

Thursday, November 17, 2005

OUR PRIZE IS CHRIST HIMSELF

Why is it that we, as Christians, must persevere until the end?

The Bible is clear that only he who endures until the end will be finally saved.

Those of us who believe this usually speak in terms of "heaven," etc. Heaven is indeed a biblical truth. We are to lay hold of heaven, and to lay hold of eternal life.

But what are we really to lay hold of?

The prize is Christ Himself.

The Bride always looks forward to the Day that She weds. On Wedding Day, She is glorious; but She is glorious because She is a reflection of the glory of the One who is about to wed Her.

She waited long. She endured many trials during the courtship process. She loved being engaged to Her future Spouse.

But She wanted more. She wanted to be married to Him. She longed to be married to Him.

She wanted to have a Marriage Supper with Him. She longed to celebrate their Marriage.

She looked forward to the Day that Her First Love would become Her Husband. She longed to sit at His Table and have Him serve Her.

Yet He is Her Prize. She longed to lay hold of Him.

O Lord Jesus, the Christ, our First Love, our Groom: Grant that we would lay hold of You.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

PRAISE TO THE GOD OF THE KEYS

Yesterday, I lost my keys (again). It was late at night, and I was very tired, because my wife and I had already stayed up later than usual the night before watching Brian Godawa's To End All Wars. (By the way, if you haven't seen that movie yet, then you need to. It is incredible. I'll blog on it one of these days.) I started searching, and I woke up my poor wife to help me. It was actually saddening to me. My teacher's edition of my physical science book was in the car, and my wife does not have car keys. I also drive the car to work. Not to mention, my wallet was in my car, which in turn has my driver's license. In fact, I had already lost my earlier set of keys--so this was the last of them.

I felt like giving up. My wife and I had both prayed. I even felt like despairing.

Finally, I prayed again:

"Lord," I thought, "work Your wonders."

Immediately after that my wife showed me the keys. She told me they were under the bed, under a fold of the blanket, out of sight and difficult to see.

It didn't matter. I started to tear up.

I looked at each key individually.

This is the key to the door of my car. And this is the key to the ignition of my car. These keys represent the fact that God has blessed me with transportation to provide for my family.

I continued looking at the keys, my tears blurring my eyes.

This is the key to our van. The Lord blessed us with this so we could have more space to transport my family as our family grows, which is also a blessing from Him.

This is the key to the doors at Covenant Christian School, the job that the Lord has blessed me with. This job He has given me to provide for my family, and to grow in my faith and encourage others in their faith. I love the job He has given me.

And this is the key to our house. The Lord takes care of us. Our house belongs to Him. Jesus Christ rules our house.

I told my wife that I don't understand how anyone can make it without God. How does anyone have any hope? I don't even have any hope when it comes to finding anything without God. And this isn't the first time the Lord has revealed to us the things that we have lost. Once in high school I lost my wallet in the ocean at the beach. We prayed, and that, too, was found. I have had that wallet since the sixth grade.

And, most of all, it is the Lord who reveals to us that we are lost. Only by His sovereign grace does He open our eyes to see our desperate and sinful condition. It is only He who causes us to see our desperate need for Christ, and only He shows us the beauty of His Son.

O Lord, I praise You, for You are the God of the keys. O Lord, I praise You, for You are the God of the wallet.

O Lord, I praise You, the God of the keys, for You are the God of my salvation.

--Josh Brisby

Monday, October 17, 2005

UPCOMING POSTS

Just thought I would whet your appetite, for those of you still visiting my blog, to prepare for some upcoming posts. Any comments, of course, are appreciated.

The following posts will be in order and upcoming:

*The Glorious Truth of Postmillennialism

*The Mystery of the Lord's Supper

*Thoughts on Church Government

*The Necessity of Proper Church Discipline

*What is an Apostolic Church?

*The Majesty of the Holy Trinity

*Predestination and the Free Will of God

*The Bankruptcy of Pluralism

I hope you all enjoy these posts when they come, and I hope that these stimulate your thoughts and spur us all on toward love and good deeds.

--Josh Brisby

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

CONSIDERING THE OTHER SIDE; SOME RETRACTIONS

After I placed the last post, I would like to say that, I still hold much of what I said. However, after seeking more counsel, I have decided to continue my credential for various other reasons. Yet, I still don't think I could teach in a public school, however. Let me explain these above statements.

My main concern about teaching in a public school would be that I would not be able to address the hearts of the children. To be fair, some godly counselors have suggested something to me. They have said that it is somewhat like when a policeman enforces the law. The policeman is not allowed to give the gospel of Christ to the person he arrests. His job is to enforce the law. These godly counselors have suggested to me that this is somewhat like if I were to teach in a public school. My job would be to make sure that discipline in the classroom is being enforced. I would not be able to address the heart of the child, true--but neither can the police officer address the heart of the person.

Well, I am just afraid, honestly, that this would be totally and completely heartbreaking for me. Even in secular encyclopedias we are told that a teacher must also care about people. A teacher must be someone who is able to counsel. To be fair, and for the record, however, let me say the following:

The world is a lot better off for having godly Christian teachers in public schools.

I can't stress that enough. But I'm just not sure if I could do that. Again, I don't even know where to begin or how to teach a subject apart from Christ's Lordship. But my main concern is the fact that I would not be able to address the hearts of the children. This would break my heart. I would be interacting with these children--children from broken homes, children from non-Christian homes, etc.--and I would have the Answer before me--all the while not being able to tell them the answer!

Yesterday, I got a taste of this heartbreak. One of my students in my P.E. class willingly defied me, and that after several warnings in the past. This situation warranted a discussion with the principal of my school. The principal did the right thing. He suspended the child for three days. This child had been shown mercy several times in the past. Apparently in the past this child had even been expelled. This was heartbreaking that I began to weep afterwards.

Yet, with this child, we can tell him the truth: Not only has he defied me; not only has he defied the principal of the school; he has defied the Almighty God. The sovereign Lord Jehovah has set authorities in this child's life and in ours to protect us and watch over us. He has given us His holy Law to protect us as well. When we defy these authorities, we defy His Law. When we defy His Law, we defy Him.

The above is the heart of the matter. This is what a child needs to hear. This is what we all need to hear.

But what can you tell them in a public school? Yes, we can tell them that they need to obey the authorities. But we can't tell them that they have a sin problem and that they need Christ.

But again, to be fair, to hear from the other side, another good argument for teaching in a public school was likened to what it is like to be a missionary in hostile countries. The point was brought up by a godly counselor that if you were to be a missionary to China, you can't just go in there and be open about the faith blatantly, or you will be either jailed or in the next plane home. You go in there instead with a tentmaking skill, and you ask for wisdom and discretion on the way to do it without getting caught, as it were.

Therefore, to be fair, I think we should still thank the Lord for the Christian teachers in public schools. It is an entire mission field for them.

Again, I am just saying that I am not sure if I could do it. It is indeed very hard to do it while making sure that we are careful not to compromise our faith. It takes much wisdom.

The good news is, however, that the Lord is guiding our steps.

All praise to Him.

--Josh Brisby

Friday, October 07, 2005

THE END OF NON-CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEWS

The title for this post I think is very appropriate. What I am saying is two things. First, we have come to the end of our posts critiquing non-Christian worldviews. Certainly, there are many more worldviews out there than those covered (I would also refer you to my brother in Christ's posts critiquing Islam and Buddhism at www.presstheantithesis.blogspot.com), but there is another reason I have entitled this post "The End of Non-Christian Worldviews."

THE END OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS

I have come to realize something. I could never teach in a public school. I'll say it again, with italics: I could never teach in a public school. As of today, I am done with going for my credential. The credentialing process is harmful. But not only that, let me tell you my main reasons for saying that I could never teach in a public school.

In a public school, you can never address the hearts of children. Christ is taken out of the picture. Do we really believe, as Christians, that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge? Then that means that only He can heal their broken hearts. Yet, in a public school, I would not be allowed to turn a child to Christ.

"Tommy, stop hitting little Johnny!"

"Why, teacher?"

"Because hitting little Johnny is wrong."

"But why is it wrong, teacher?"

"It just is."

The rather silly above conversation is, nonetheless, what a public school teacher would have to say. Now, one may say, "Come on, the child's not going to ask why hitting the person is wrong." That may be, but what we do in public schools is turn kids into little Pharisees. We teach them to obey, but not from the heart. Their hearts need to be changed! They need to have God's Law written on their heart. It is, in fact, harmful to teach children apart from Christ's Lordship. It is like putting a band-aid on a severed leg. If children learn obedience only externally, without addressing the heart of the matter, then the children will be turned into Pharisees.

Of course, someone will suggest that perhaps we could possibly try and reach the students by reaching the parents. You know, going over for dinner. You could talk about Christ then, someone may say.

The problem with this is that the heart is not addressed when it needs to be. You would have to put off addressing the heart, but you would have to teach the child to be "good little boys and girls" before then.

We are not good. We are evil. We need Christ. The public schools will never work. Nothing will work that takes Christ out of the picture. By Him all things consist, and in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is our righteousness and our sanctification.

We must beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. It is all around us.

Praise the Lord for the vocation I have. I teach in a Reformed Christian school that seeks to honor Christ as Lord over every area of life and thought. Even the so-called Christian (in fact, even many schools that profess to be "Reformed" Christian) schools are treating Christ like He is just our fire insurance policy; they think that Christianity is only an added bonus.

But when God called His covenant people to Himself, He intended them to set apart all of their entire life to Him.

Our covenant Lord has called us to Himself. May we seek to honor Him in all areas of life and thought. May we seek to take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ. May He renew our minds.

There are no values apart from Christ.

May the Lord be pleased to use me at the school I teach at now. I am truly blessed to be here, to teach in a school that truly shares my vision. I am blessed to teach in a school that does not compromise.

May Christ prosper His Word. May He grant me faith to trust in Him.

--Josh Brisby

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

THE NON-DISTINCTIVES OF HINDUISM

For those of you who are familiar with Hinduism, the above title I hope you found hilarious.

One of the main tenets of Hinduism is that there is no such thing (funny, "such" thing) as a distinction, or distinctions, or particulars. In other words, there is no difference between Josh Brisby and the keyboard I type this sentence on. In fact, any distinction is really an illusion.

Matter, therefore, is Maya (illusion). The way we get away from this is through meditation, yoga practices, etc. We need to reach perfect "enlightenment," which is to say, the full realization that everything is really all one. When this happens, we will break out of the constant state of reincarnation and become one with the impersonal All: Brahman.

Where do I start? First of all, Hindus do not believe that there is any difference between good and evil, since all is one. So why, then, are we held accountable and become lesser or greater in our next reincarnated life?

If distinctions are illusion anyways, then I am already in the state of Nirvana (or nothingness). Why do I need to seek to be in the state I'm already in?

Hindus cannot even live out their worldview. They look both ways before crossing the street. They charge particular prices for clothing bought at their stores. They still do math like there are distinctions in numbers. Now, of course, a Hindu may say that that is because they haven't reached enlightenment yet. Well, I have a quick way to reach that enlightenment. Why don't they go jump off a cliff? Of course, I'm not really suggesting that they do that! However, I don't know of any who would comply. And why not? Because they recognize the fact that there are distinctions--yet they suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

The fact of the matter is, as Cornelius Van Til states very well, that ultimate reality is equally ultimately one and many. The ontological Trinity is both One and Many. God is One in Essence, and Three in Person. His essence, furthermore, is not impersonal. Take the human body as well. Our body is many parts, yet they all function as one body. In fact, all of creation is dependent on each other. Yet it is one creation. Plants depend on humans. Humans depend on plants.

God's creation displays His perfections! Praise to the God of the one and the many!

--Josh Brisby

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

THE OOEY-GOOEY NONSENSE OF RELATIVISM

Relativism. Postmodernism. Nothing-is-absolute-ism.

Ooey-gooey nonsense.

I have the blessing of teaching at a Reformed Christian school that honors Christ as Lord over every area of life and thought. The school is majorly influenced by the God-glorifying philosophy of Cornelius Van Til and Greg L. Bahnsen. The school recognizes that you can't just tack on Bible to your list of subjects and truly be a Christian school. To be a truly Christian school, you must recognize that, apart from Christ, no subjects make sense.

But I am currently going for my credential--to fall back on in case I need to provide more income for my family. But to go for my credential, I have to endure relativistic, postmodernistic, "accept all cultures" nonsense.

Yesterday in my credential class, I was accused by a fellow student of being "narrow-minded."

Guilty as charged!

2+2 is always four. I guess I'm narrow-minded. Is two plus two ever anything other than four? My goodness, even postmodern relativists would say it is only always four. Aren't they being narrow minded here?

Christianity has to be presupposed to make sense out of anything. In that sense, it is the absolute truth. The Word of God is the absolute truth. I am so narrow-minded.

I am proud to be narrow-minded. If I were to embrace relativism, I would believe such ridiculous things such as, "What's true for you is not true for me."

OK. So, if I were a relativist, and my teacher were a relativist, then I can cheat on my test. If the teacher catches me, by what right can he hold me accountable? I would say that it's not wrong for me to cheat. He may say that he's the teacher, so what he says counts. But what makes him the ultimate authority in ethical matters? Is he self-verifying?

But the Word of God is self-verifying.

A girl in my class last night said that she worked with "trans-gendered youth." My professor then said that she taught a boy who wore dresses to school and danced in his dresses. My professor said we need to respect people like that.

I agree that in a certain sense we must respect them, being made in the image of God as they are. But we do not have to respect their worldview. Do I have to respect the opinion of a serial killer that it's OK to kill? What about someone who has sex with animals? What about someone who wants to expose himself publicly? What about the views of someone who believes that child molestation is OK? Etc., etc., etc.

Let's stop playing games. This is pathetic nonsense. It's time to call a spade a spade:

This is rebellion against God.

God is giving these people over to their sinfulness. They are becoming darkened in their reasoning. They cannot reason properly because of their self-deception.

And then they accuse Christians of being "narrow-minded" and "intolerant."

Will you tolerate my Christianity?

Then don't expect me to tolerate your sinful perversions.

I call anyone who believes that truth is relative to the absolute truth of the Word of God. The absolute Word of God declares that you are under His wrath and curse. Flee to Christ and repent of your sinfulness.

--Josh Brisby

Monday, September 26, 2005

THE ABSENTEE GOD OF DEISM

As we continue our critique of non-Christian worldviews, we come now to one called "deism." You may have heard that many of our founding fathers were "deists." Whether or not this is true, deism today is virtually unheard of, but of course, many heresies take a long time to die.

Deism can be summed up as the worldview which believes that a god created the universe, but that this "god" is now no longer involved in sustaining it. The universe now sustains itself. It has been given the analogy of a watchmaker who winds up a watch but then leaves it be.

There are many problems with this worldview. First of all, we must ask why our world that we see before us is ordered and uniform. If indeed the creator of all left everything alone, then there would be no order or uniformity of nature. Even something as simple and yet complex as snowflakes, which show intricate design, would make no sense if there were no creator who was sustaining all things by his providential hand.

Secondly, there is a major problem with the epistemology and axiology of deism. Epistemology is the theory of knowledge and how it is obtained. It asks the question of how we know what we know. Axiology is the theory of value. Its subsets are ethics (good and evil) and aesthetics (beauty).

Epistemologically, if the creator were absentee and uninvolved, then we would not be able to know anything. Unless this creator were sustaining our thoughts as well, we would know nothing.

Furthermore, deism really crumbles when it comes to the question of good and evil. If the creator let things go, then what is good and evil? Evil and good can then become what we make them. Besides, according to deism, the creator never took the time to reveal to us anything--so how do we know what good and evil is? We must assume that this is just the way things are "supposed" to be--in the sense of the creator not caring whether or not calamities are indeed a horrible thing or not, and in the sense of the creator not caring about whether or not evil is extremely problematic (to say the least) or not. Should evil be punished?

Questions for deists:

-Should evil be punished? What is evil in your worldview, anyways?

-What makes something beautiful in your worldview?

-How do you know that 2+2 always equals four?

-Why is nature uniform? Is it self-sustaining?

-Should good be approved of? What is good in your worldview, anyways?

-How do you know the difference between good and evil?


We see that deism is just another example of mankind suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. Man would rather be his own god. Man wants to rule himself. The deists recognize the clear truth of God's existence, but they turn the true God into an idol and make it an absentee god.

Anything so they don't have to be responsible to the sovereign, infinite, eternal, majestic, glorious, and holy Sustainer of the universe: the only true God, who has revealed Himself to us and is involved in every detail of upholding His creation.

They know this God, and they are under His wrath. Unless they repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, they will eternally perish. To all deists who read this: flee to the Lord Jesus Christ before it's too late! Repent of your sins and turn to Him. Ask Him to give you His righteousness. Confess your sin of deceiving yourself into believing that God is not involved in our affairs, all so you could have your sinful ways. You are accountable before the God who made you and holds your very life in His hands.

Turn to Christ before it's too late. Today is the day of salvation.

--Josh Brisby

Monday, September 19, 2005

THE PATHETIC SILLINESS OF ATHEISM

We now begin our various critiques of non-Christian worldviews. I thought I would begin with the most ridiculous worldview of them all: atheism.

Atheism is foolish. I say this about all forms of atheism: evolutionism, naturalism, nihilism, etc. I could sum up the critique very simply.

Atheists always want to call themselves "freethinkers" and "rational" people. But actually, they are some of the most irrational people of all.

The atheist must borrow from the Christian theistic worldview to make sense out of anything. How can they allow for laws of logic? How did logic come about? It could not have come about through conventions of men, because of men sat down to decide what logic was, they would be using logic to decide logic.

The same goes for morality. In an atheist world, how do they know what good and evil is? There is no definite good or evil.

There is no truth in an atheist world. Everything is relative. How can 2+2 always equal four in an atheist universe? Everything is chaos and disorder in an atheist universe.

Yet, as we look around us, we see that the world, though fallen, has order. We see that there is order when we do scientific experiments. We assume that the sun will rise tomorrow. This is called the process of induction. We assume things are consistent, so we do our experiments in science assuming that things will act a certain way.

But atheism does not allow for induction either. In case you doubt me, consider the fact that atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote an article called "The Problem of Induction." Even he admits that atheists have a problem here in their worldview.

So, the atheist worldview cannot even allow for scientific experimentation, since it cannot allow for induction. The atheist worldview cannot even allow for science itself!

Atheism is pathetic. It has no ground to stand on, and it has to borrow from the Christian theistic worldview to make sense out of anything.

Hasn't God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

--Josh Brisby

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A DEFENSE OF CHRISTIAN THEISM

Only Christianity makes sense out of life. But not only that, only Reformed Christianity makes sense out of life. Let me explain.

Philosophy historically has what has been called "the problem of the one and the many." This asks the question of what underlying, universal commonality is there among particular things that unites them all. Let me illustrate.

The human body is one body, right? But it is made of many parts. But yet, for this body to function, the parts work together. So the human body is one body, composed of many parts.

In creation, we see how things work together. Humans and trees are dependent upon one another. We inhale oxygen, which we get from trees. We exhale carbon dioxide, which trees receive and turn into oxygen. Indeed, without trees, there would be no oxygen.

God has made creation in this aspect to be one creation that is composed of many parts that work together. The eastern religions believe what is called "monism," which teaches that all is one, and that distinctions between things are illusions. But in the west, we focus on "atomism," where we always focus on particular things without expressing relationships.

But our worldview must be full-orbed, and must touch on every aspect of life. That brings us to our next question. What is a worldview?

WHAT IS A WORLDVIEW?

A worldview is a basic network of presuppositions through which we interpret experience. Presuppositions are faith-commitments that all of us have. A presupposition is the most basic belief that one holds. In other words, a fundamental presupposition is rarely going to be given up without one's entire worldview collapsing.

For example, if all across the world tomorrow, if the various news media were to claim that they have "found the bones of Jesus Christ," I would not believe them. Why not? Because my ultimate presupposition is that Jesus is Lord, and I must let God be true, and consider every man a liar when it comes to comparing God's Word with what others say.

Another example of this is Stephen Jay Gould, the famous evolutionist. He recognized the problem of the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. Did he become a Christian theist? Nope. Instead, he made up a view called "punctuated equilibrium" which says that the various species just kind of became another species very rapidly. Even though geneticists jumped all over this and made clear that that would destroy a species, Stephen Jay Gould continued to hold onto his irrational claims. Anything to get away from the God of the Bible.

So does this mean, then, that we don't discuss truth? I mean, since we all have our own presuppositions, why discuss truth?

ONLY REFORMED CHRISTIAN THEISM MAKES SENSE OUT OF LIFE

It is important, therefore, to ask ourselves if our presuppositions comport with each other (if they are logically connected), or if they contradict one another. It is also important to ask us if our presuppositions can be lived out and applied to the world around us. It is my contention that only Reformed Christianity has presuppositions that comport with each other, and only Reformed Christianity can make sense out of life.

THE GOD OF THE SNOWFLAKE

Praise be to God for His marvelous creation. But one of the most amazing things to me is the snowflake. If you haven't been yet, go to www.snowflakebentley.com and check out the images of snowflakes that Wilson Bentley photographed magnified. No two snowflakes are alike, and they all show amazing design and symmetry. Only Reformed Christian theism allows for such beauties. How so?

Not only is the God who does this a personal and creative God (which excludes the false god of Islam), but the God who does this exercises His providence and sovereign decree over all things. He is intricately involved in every detail, holding everything up by His powerful Word. This God is not the absentee god of deism, nor is this God the wimpy pansy of open theism, nor is this God the half-god of Arminianism. This God is the awesome, sovereign, holy, majestic, providential God of the Bible: the one and only true and living God.

This God has revealed Himself to us in His holy Scriptures. He has given us His holy Law to guide us, without which we cannot make sense of good and evil. He has shown us what is beautiful. It is in Christ that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are deposited (Colossians 2:3). And this God, by His powerful Word, holds everything together. He is the ultimate reality.

Unless you presuppose the Reformed Christian theistic worldview as true, you cannot make sense out of life. Your presuppositions will not comport with each other.

Now that we have stated and shown briefly that only Reformed Christian theism makes sense out of life, and that only its presuppositions comport with each other, we will continue in our series on worldviews by critiquing various non-Christian religions, as well as common claims heard by fellow Christians that are inadequate to God's revelation.

By the grace of God I am a sinner,
Josh Brisby

Sunday, July 31, 2005

SERIES ON WORLDVIEWS

Hello everyone. Sorry it's been so long since my last post--I've been a very busy fella!

Anyways, I thought it would be good to start a series on philosophy and worldviews. It is very important to know not only what we believe, but also why we believe it, and how we know it is true.

Test yourself with the following question. Write down the letter of any response which applies to you. Here it is:

I know Christianity is true because...
a. My parents raised me that way.
b. I feel it in my heart.
c. Jesus told me so.
d. I had a dream--God told me in a dream.
e. I tried drugs. I tried sex. I tried rock 'n' roll. Now I tried Jesus; He's pretty cool!
f. Jesus freed me from addictions.
g. It makes me happy.
h. I wanted to have a feeling of belonging to something or someone.
i. Church is a great place to meet moral chicks/studs!
j. I wanted to have a safe environment to raise my children in.
k. We need religion to control people.
l. The preacher kept telling me to raise my hand.
m. The preacher kept telling me to come forward.
n. The preacher kept telling me to sign the card.
o. The preacher kept telling me to pray the "repeat after me" prayer.
p. All my friends were becoming Christians.
q. My parents hate Christianity, and I don't like my parents.
r. The worship band really rocks!
s. I had a crush on her/him.

OK, so how did you do? Wanna know your score? Here it is: If your answer was any of the above, then you're on shaky ground. You scored zero.

You see, the above reasons are common reasons that your average American evangelical professing Christian claims they "know" Christianity is true. But none of the above are reasons to base the truth upon.

My non-Christian, unbelieving philosophy professor in college told the class something that is absolutely correct. He said, "We need to find out the truth for what it really is, and not what we would like it to be." This is absolutely correct. It makes no shread of difference if I pretend to have or would like to have a million dollars--the fact is I am most certainly not a millionaire! Likewise, just because we want something to be true, doesn't make it true.

But I know Christianity is true. I know it for certain. God intends that you know it for certain as well.

It is time for the apologetics blogs to begin. Please give any comments you would like. I also invite all e-mails and discussions. This is important.

If you're already a Christian, I hope that God uses this to increase your hope and your love for the Lord and the truth of God's Word.

If you're not a Christian, I hope that you will consider your own beliefs and compare them to the claims of God's Word.

Let the defense of the faith begin. See you in my next blog!

--Josh Brisby

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Responses to common arguments for birth control

Welcome back. This post will be my response to different arguments that try to rebut my arguments against birth control, as well as a response to commonly heard arguments that birth control should be practiced.

ASSERTION: "Just like God has given us medicine for sickness, God has also given us methods of birth control to be responsible."

RESPONSE: This is comparing apples to oranges. Medicine is for what is unnatural and a result of the Fall: namely, sickness, disease, and death. But children are natural, and a gift from the Lord. It is His intention that we be fruitful and multiply.

ASSERTION: "Birth control does not take away from the natural union of husband and wife."

RESPONSE: Yes, it does. If it is condoms, then it blocks the man's seed, thus preventing the full giving of the husband to the wife. If it is pills, then it prevents the fertilization of the egg, and has a chance for a spontaneous abortion. Also, the so-called Roman Catholic idea of "natural family planning" prevents full union, because there are approximately 10 days a month in which you cannot be joined to your spouse sexually. The only natural family planning there is is to let God plan your family.

ASSERTION: "Yes, God seeks a godly seed--but who's to say it can't be two or three children?"

RESPONSE: God's command is to be fruitful and multiply. He blesses as He sees fit. Our culture hates children. But the Bible describes them as "arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior," that "he who has a quiver-full is blessed." Would we say that an orange tree that has three or four oranges is a fruitful orange tree?

ASSERTION: "Birth control does not undermine the beauty of the sexual act within marriage."

RESPONSE: Yes, it does. The full giving of each spouse to each other is blocked. Sex can then possibly become a selfish act. (Note, I said possibly.) Sex is about pleasing your partner, not just about getting yourself pleased.

ASSERTION: "You do not understand the passage about women being saved through childbearing. Besides, the interpretation has been disputed by many."

RESPONSE: God has created women under the headship and authority of man. As 1 Corinthians 11 says, the head of woman is man, the head of man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God. This does not make women lesser or suppressed. We do not hold to an Islamic view of women. For anyone who thinks this undermines women because the husband is the head, or because creationally man is the head of woman, consider the fact that God the Father is the Head of Christ. Christ is positionally under the Father's authority. But ontologically speaking, all Three Members of the glorious Trinity are co-equal. The same with man and woman. Even though Peter says the wife is the "weaker partner," he certainly does not mean weaker in dignity as a person. Man and woman are equal ontologically, but have different roles economically. Having said all this, the apostle is clear that one of God's roles for women is to bear children to the glory of God. This is her glorious calling. This is fulfilling for her, because this is how God designed her. Even consider the fact that the more children the wife has, and the more she breastfeeds, the lesser her chances of getting breast cancer. Consider the fact that statistics show that women who work out of the home their whole lives die earlier than those who stay at home and take care of their children. Indeed, our feministic culture has brainwashed women--even Christian women have been brainwashed by our culture.

ASSERTION: "But if you have so many children, your wife's body will get worn out like an old dog!"

RESPONSE: The following is a response from my wife herself: God gives grace and strength as He sees fit. Besides, the woman's body is back to normal in a short period of time. It indeed does NOT take years! Also, the whole ideology behind the above objection is a selfish one. We need to be obedient the Lord's commands. It is not about "me." It is about serving the Lord with gladness.

ASSERTION: "How are you going to provide for your family if you have like 20 children?!"

RESPONSE: Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. The Lord promises to provide as we obey Him. Mark my words on this! This is the Lord's own Word and promise.

ASSERTION: "What are you, a Roman Catholic?!"

RESPONSE: The above comment is usually made in jest by fellow Christians. So, I'll respond in jest as well. Do you believe in some or all of the following?---> The Trinity? The deity of Christ? The hypostatic union? An amillennial eschatology? The return of Christ? Well what are you, a Roman Catholic?!

ASSERTION: "So you don't want to use condoms because you want to fully enjoy your wife? But that sounds selfish!"

RESPONSE: I doubt my wife would think of that as selfish! Remember, our wives love to be cherished. Rejecting birth control is actually a major way we can cherish them.

This concludes my posts on the topic of birth control. In these two posts, I sincerely hope that I have not come off as "holier-than-thou" or as self-righteous. I have my own sins in my own life that I have to deal with. But the good news is that God is sanctifying His church. He promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth. Let us preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace, and continue to be patient with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. He promises to lead us into that unity of the faith that Ephesians 4:11-16 promises. May He be glorified in our lives!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

THOUGHTS ON BIRTH CONTROL

As promised, I will now begin a few postings on the subject of birth control. This is a subject which many Americans feel strongly about, and even many in the Reformed community. Since I have much to say on this, I will do a series of postings. Some of them will be short, others will be longer.

First, let me say that it is my intention to speak in love, and it is not my intention to cause any offense. We all need to check our beliefs by the Word of God. Therefore, in my posts, I wish to give Scriptural considerations, as well as rational discussion, and a gentle refutation of those arguments which try to refute my arguments, as well as a gentle refutation of those arguments which are pro-contraception. (I also recognize, with sympathy, that there are couples who, in the Lord's providence, are not able to conceive. These posts are not intended for them.)

VARIOUS REASONS WHY BIRTH CONTROL IS SINFUL

*Birth control takes away from the natural, God-ordained union of husband and wife. This is applicable to any form, whether it be condoms, or pills.

*Birth control takes away from one of God's main purposes in marriage, which is to seek a godly seed (see the book of Malachi).

*Birth control undermines the beauty of the sexual act within marriage.

*Birth control takes away from God's ordained means of sanctification for the woman; that is, that "women will be saved through childbearing," as the apostle Paul says.

*Birth control does not value the beauty of children; namely, that they are "like arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior," and that "he who has a quiver-full is blessed."

*Birth control disregards God's commandment to the married couple to "be frutiful and multiply." (Being fruitful and multiplying is much more than one or two.)

*Birth control can sometimes make a woman sterile eventually.

*Many times, birth control is associated with the woman's desire to get a career and work out of the home. (I am not against a woman working out of the home if she has no children.) However, Titus 2 is clear that God intends for the wife to take care of the children at home; this is indeed her calling, and is truly fulfilling for her.

*Birth control does not trust the Lord to provide, even though He promises to add all these things to us if we will but seek the kingdom of God first.

*Birth control is many times a cowardly act, because the couple does not want to go through the hardships of caring for children yet--even though someone had to change their diapers and feed them, etc., when they were young.

*When it comes to the pill, there is still a small percentage chance of a spontaneous abortion. This is true for every pill, no matter what kind it is. There is not one pill that is 100% preventive of a spontaeous abortion. Therefore, the pill risks the murder of a person.

*Condoms take away from the full union of husband and wife; the sex act was intended by God as a demonstration that husband and wife are giving all of oneself to each other; yet, with condoms, it's as though they are saying that they are not giving all of oneself to one another. This is especially true because of the blockage of the man's seed during ejaculation.

Other reasons could be given, but these will suffice for now. In my next post, I will respond to counter-arguments against these above claims. Again, I did not intend the above to be divisive in any way. May we all seek the Lord in our lives, and may our lives be fragrances of Christ to God the Father. May the world see something different in us.

Monday, June 13, 2005

You might be a paedocommunionist if...

Before I begin this post, I would like to make clear that what follows below is somewhat in jest, while most of it is also serious. I see paedocommunion as a serious error, and as the logical outcome of paedobaptism. We can be thankful that most of our paedobaptist brothers and sisters reject paedocommunion; but there is a growing movement of more consistent paedobaptists who are embracing it. Having said that, most of what I write is in concern, although some of what I write may not be necessarily true of all paedocommunionists. Just like paedobaptism, paedocommunion is not a monolithic movement.

YOU MIGHT BE A PAEDOCOMMUNIONIST IF...

(1) You think that breast milk is a sacrament.
(2) You think that our works mysteriously play into justification.
(3) You think that justification is a process.
(4) You think that the Holy Spirit does not blow mysteriously like the wind in regeneration, but rather that He can be predicted like the National Weather Service predicts the wind.
(5) You think that baptism doesn't really regenerate, er, uh, yes it does, in a manner of speaking.
(6) You have a strange affinity for Eastern Orthodoxy.
(7) You think that Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox are our brothers and sisters in Christ, just because they've been "baptized in the Name of the Trinity."
(8) You think that Norman Shepherd is a hero.
(9) Some of you say, "I hold to active obedience," and then redefine it.
(10) You are a consistent paedobaptist.
(11) Many of you are consistent theonomists.
(12) You are more epistemologically self-conscious, but deep down you see that the more consistent you are in your epistemology, the more you abandon biblical Christianity.
(13) You like to talk about "households" when it comes to baptism, but you strangely like to leave that out of the discussion when it comes to communion.
(14) You think that the Three Forms of Unity somehow support paedocommunion.
(15) You say, "See, at least one Reformer held to paedocommunion--look at Wolfgang Musculus!"
(16) You champion the fact that the pre-Reformers known as the Hussites were advocates of paedocommunion.
(17) You disregard the fact that none of the Reformed confessions (not one) embrace paedocommunion; all of the Reformed confessions reject paedocommunion, yet your cry is either "semper reformanda!" or "they don't really reject it!"
(18) You want to still be in the PCA or OPC and yet give communion to your babies anyways. (The PCA and OPC both do not allow their elders to administer communion to their "covenant children"; the OPC has decidedly rejected paedocommunion.)
(19) You think that your "presumed regenerate" children are in the household of faith, yet your unbelieving spouse (who, by the way, you're not sure is in the covenant or not) is a filthy heathen.
(20) You abandoned the regulative principle long ago.
(21) Your own subjective feelings of affection toward your children regulate your worship more than the regulative principle.

--Josh Brisby

Monday, June 06, 2005

You might be a paedobaptist if...

Hey all. My good buddy and brother in Christ Paul Manata posted a funny blog called "you might be a Baptist if...". I thought that I, too, would like to have a little fun. I truly hope you all enjoy this in good fun, and nothing more. I love our paedobaptist brethren very much. I hope they get a good laught out of this.--Josh

YOU MIGHT BE A REFORMED PAEDOBAPTIST IF...

(1) You recognize that you've never ordered a donut immersed in chocolate.
(2) You lean toward the philosophical position of monism.
(3) You undermine the very foundation of covenant theology, yet still want to hold to it.
(4) You give your children the "sign of the covenant" yet withhold from them the other "sign of the covenant" because they're only "halfway members" of the covenant--wait, no they're full members--wait, yes they are--wait, no they're not--they're Christians--wait, no they're not--wait, how do you define "Christian"--wait, they're actually filthy heathens.
(5) You are a Baptist when it comes to the Lord's Supper.
(6) You've never read Spurgeon, Gill, Bunyan, Tombes, Lloyd-Jones, Piper, Nicole, et al.
(7) Emotional subjective hermeneutics applied to different texts is your hermeneutical authority.
(8) You've never read the New Testament.
(9) You think corporate nouns change their meaning when it comes to the Lord's Supper.
(10) You say "all you're doing is asserting" when time and again it has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that the proper subjects of the Lord's Table are the same ones for baptism.
(11) You want to be dispensational when it comes to other members of the household who are "in the covenant."
(12) You're not real sure what you believe about the unbelieving spouse in 1 Cor 7:14. Maybe they're in the covenant, maybe they're not.
(13) Your favorite words are "but," "and," "or," "good and necessary consequence," "inference," "even so," "yet," et al.
(14) You get all uptight when you feel the devastating power of the Baptist arguments.
(15) You are trapped by the Baptist biblical guns, and your only out is, "But they're in the covenant! Freakin' they're in the covenant man!"

NOW, YOU MIGHT BE A REFORMED BAPTIST IF...

(1) Your church is the church of the apostles.
(2) Your doctrine is the doctrine of the apostles.
(3) Your sacraments are those of the apostles.
(4) Your church government is that of the apostles.
(5) You enjoy a good beer, a good cigar, and a good wife.
(6) You believe that your children are gifts from the Lord.
(7) You believe what God's Word says about your children, so you pray for their salvation.
(8) Your position is the only one which makes covenant theology tenable.
(9) You are consistent in your view of the sacraments.
(10) You have an ecclesiology which considers the corporate nature of the church.

-Joshy-pooh Brisby

Friday, May 27, 2005

hang in there everyone

Hey everyone. My family and I are very busy getting ready to move back to California, so I won't be posting for a little while. But hang in there. Angela is pregnant again! Praise God! My next post will be on how our culture hates children. It will also deal with birth control, etc. See you in a little while!--Josh

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

the last of the xanga posts

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

PAEDOCOMMUNION?

Recently I blogged on infant baptism, making the point that paedobaptism (infant baptism) is unbiblical, and that most paedobaptists (infant baptists) are inconsistent by not giving the Lord's Supper to their baptized children.

But, there is a growing number of paedobaptists who are beginning to become more "epistemologically self-conscious." They are beginning to see that the Scriptures do indeed teach that all who have been baptized have a right to the Lord's Supper, and that those paedobaptists who are merely credo-communionists (believers only Lord's Supper) are very hard-pressed to defend their notion. So what of these "more consistent" paedobaptists: the paedocommunionists?

First, I want to tip my hat to those paedobaptists who are trying to be more consistent. About ten years ago, the Reformed Baptist view was rare and almost unheard of in Reformed circles, with many paedobaptists charging that one cannot truly be Reformed and yet a Baptist. However, over the past decade this has changed, probably because of dialogue. Now it seems that most Reformed paedobaptists recognize Reformed Baptists as fellow Reformed brethren, and heirs of the great legacy of the Reformation. Sacramentology (the study of the sacraments or ordinances) was not given the proper attention that it should have been given in the Reformation, and finally the Reformed churches are beginning to take a hard look at their practices, and the proper subjects of baptism and the Lord's Table. This is a good thing.

However, I believe also that if one has an incorrect starting point, striving toward consistency will only lead to absurdity. Our starting point must be the Word of God. As Van Til himself noted, the only alternative is either man's thoughts or God's thoughts; man's tyrannical law, or the law of God, the law which brings perfect freedom (James 1:25). If we do not start with the Word of God, then we will end up lost. A good illustration of this is the movie "Dumb and Dumber." In the movie, Lloyd wasn't paying attention where he was driving, because he was distracted by the loud snoring of Harry (all the while trying to plug snoring Harry's nose). He thought he was driving toward Colorado, but all the while he was going the opposite direction, because since he wasn't paying attention, he missed the sign to Colorado. He continued for six hours driving in the opposite direction. When Harry wakes up, they make the following observation, looking out into the flat plains: "I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a lot rockier than this." The next thing we know Harry is extremely upset with Lloyd, because now their money planning is destroyed. They no longer have enough money to eat, sleep, arrive at their destination, or even go back where they came from. Lloyd mentions that since they are now in a hole, they will just have to dig themselves out.

The above rather comical story is kind of like those who are embracing paedocommunion. Dr. James Renihan mentioned that we are so busy trying to answer the charges of the paedobaptists, when all we have to do is just look and see what the Bible says about baptism itself. Romans 6 assumes that all who have been baptized are dying to sin. 1 Corinthians 12 assumes that all who have been baptized have been given the Holy Spirit. Galatians 3 assumes that all who have been baptized have been clothed with Christ. But instead of reading the sign, our paedobaptist brothers and sisters were distracted by looking for their argument from the unity of the covenant of grace. When we Baptists came along and started giving them tough arguments, pointing out the inconsistency of not giving the Lord's Supper to their baptized children, many of them figured they were in a hole, and had to dig themselves out. (Even paedobaptist Keith Mathison admits that the paedobaptists who are not paedocommunionists have simply not been able to answer the charges of the paedocommunionists.) Those who realized they were in a hole tried to dig themselves out by embracing paedocommunion.

But I would also liken those who have embraced paedocommunion, trying to dig themselves out of the hole, to what Lloyd did to try to dig himself out of the hole. Lloyd ending up trading the van for a little motor-scooter. Sure, they made it to their destination, but when they made it there, they had no more money, and no shelter, and no food. They ended up having to warm their hands at night to keep warm, and Harry had had enough of Lloyd.

The church is the called out ones, the "ekklesia." She is called out of sin to worship God. The paedocommunionists treat their infants as though they are regenerated (although some would differ on this point). With paedocommunion, you now have a church which is no longer properly disciplined, and no longer made up of saints, but made up of both professing believers and unbelievers. Brothers and sisters, this should not be. This should concern us greatly.

But all the while, Harry and Lloyd had a briefcase full of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They didn't know money was inside the briefcase, because they weren't able to open it. It was locked really well. But when it opens after a huge fight between the two of them, they immediately use the money to find shelter and food. They then find the best lodging they could find (meant for those who are rich mainly).

Paedobaptists, and paedocommunionists, need to open up that briefcase full of riches. They approach the Scriptures with a lock-hold on the Scriptures, approaching everything looking for the unity of the covenant of grace. They are not able to unlock them because of this, just like Harry and Lloyd were not able to unlock the briefcase. I believe paedobaptists and paedocommunionists need to do exegesis of texts, which their system does not have a lot of. I believe that if they do, then they will be led to embrace professor's only baptism, and confessor's only Lord's Supper. They will see the beauty of the church being made up of those who are walking in the faith, and the necessity to guard the purity of the church in an even deeper sense. Some would say that I may sound very simplistic. They may say that I need to consider the fact that many, godly men have embraced paedobaptism.

I recognize the above. But I believe that these many, godly men are wrong. I do believe that the sacraments belonging to only those who profess faith is something which the Scriptures are clear on. I think they are clear in how they positively define the sacraments, as well as when we consider the outcome and logical conclusion of infant baptism. I stand by the following statement: Infant baptism leads to household communion.

It will be interesting to see in the future how paedobaptists will become more epistemologically self-conscious. If the paedocommunionists were totally consistent, then they would give communion to any in the household. In fact, I already know of one paedocommunionist church which has members by households, whatever that means. It will indeed be interesting to see what happens.

To my paedobaptist and paedocommunionist brothers and sisters: I did not intend the above to sound offensive. I hope that you had a good laugh at the movie illustration I gave (especially those who have seen the movie). I also hope we can have a good laugh together.

May the Lord continue to lead us all toward that unity of the faith in history (Ephesians 4:11-16). Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Hello again everyone! My wife and I are looking forward to visiting California for spring break. We are especially looking forward to partaking of the Lord's Supper at our church in California (www.grcbible.org). We haven't enjoyed the Lord's Table for quite a while now. We saw on my last post how the Lord's Supper signifies union with Christ and with each other as the Body of Christ.

For that reason, I have a hard time understanding those churches that practice the Lord's Supper once a year, or once a quarter, or once every two months, or once a month, or even once every other week.

Let me ask a question. How do a husband and a wife demonstrate their unity with one another? That is to say, how do a husband and a wife demonstrate their union with each other? By having union with one another. How often should a husband and wife have union with one another in the physical act? Once a year? Once a quarter? Once every two months? Once a month? What about every other week?

I hope you thought to yourself that, if a married couple have union with one another physically at any of the frequencies mentioned above, that their marriage will suffer. Likewise, if the local church partakes of the Lord's Supper, which represents our union with Christ, in which we feed on Him spiritually by faith, then the local church will likewise suffer. I want to have union with my wife physically at least once a week. I want to feed on Christ's body and blood and seek union with Him at least once a week. In fact, the early church partook of the Supper every time that they met corporately.

May the Lord give us a biblical understanding of His Supper.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Greetings once again. I was thinking about the (unbiblical) idea that many Reformed churches have of baptizing infants. The interesting thing is, many of those churches which baptize infants do not give their children the Lord's Supper. This is biblically inconsistent.

1 Corinthians 11 speaks of the Lord's Supper, and considers that all who are a member of the Lord's church are therefore part of His Body. The early church, as well as the biblical notion, of the Lord's Supper considered that all who are in union with Christ (the church) have a right to partake of His body and blood. This is why paedobaptists (infant baptists) who give their children the sacrament of baptism, yet withhold from them the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, are inconsistent. If we ask paedobaptists if their children are members of the church, they will say yes (most all of them--yet much paedobaptist literature is inconsistent on this point as well). However, they fail to realize the deep significance of the Lord's Table. The Lord's Supper is the way the church shows the world that they belong to Christ and are in union with Him, the same way that when I display my wedding ring on my finger, it demonstrates that I proclaim to the world that I belong to my wife.

So we see that the Lord's Table signifies both union with each other, as well as union with Christ Himself. This is why the early church partook of the Lord's Supper every time they met for corporate worship. They considered it an essential part of the worship life of the church. If paedobaptists were consistent on this point, they would apply the Lord's Table to their children as well. To give baptism to a church member, yet withhold the Lord's Supper, is the same as saying that they are not members of the church.

But some infant baptists will say, "They are noncommunicant members of the church." But again, they fail to realize that to be a member of the church is to be in communion with one another. In other words, to say "noncommunicant member" is the same as saying "they are members, and they are not members." Such an idea is foreign to the New Testament economy of grace, as well as the nature of the church.

The church is made up of those who are walking in faith. It is those who have been called out of the Egypt of sin to come and worship God in the pilgrimage of this life, to walk in faith and repentance before Him. Every member of the church is entitled to the full privileges of the church: to enjoy all of her sacraments, fellowship, and, most importantly, the preaching of the Word. To deny a member the important means of grace such as the Lord's Supper is to do damage to one's soul.

More on this soon . . .

former Xanga posts

Thursday, April 21, 2005

THE COMPREHENSIVE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

American Christianity is a fake. It has the form of godliness, but denies its power. Why? Because it thinks that Christ is less than Lord.

What do I mean by this? I mean simply that we fail to apply the lordship of Christ in every area of life and thought. I know we are all guilty of this. In fact, every time we sin, we are failing to apply Jesus' lordship to our lives. But it seems that we are not being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Right now, I am extremely frustrated with the "Christian" school I work for. We have people on the board who makes rules, but do not follow them. We have compromise all over the place. Why make rules if you won't follow them yourself? Furthermore, there is a tremendous lack of discipline at the school I work for, and especially at the "church" that the school is associated with.

Are we striving to obey in our sanctification? Are we grieved by our sin and our sinfulness? Is sin utterly sinful to us? Do we long to become more holy?

Jesus is Lord over every area of life and thought. We need to strive to be hard workers at our jobs, to be excellent husbands and wives to our spouses, to be wonderful and exemplary fathers and mothers to our children, and to set godly examples.

We need to furthermore be bold when compromise comes. I know we need to balance this with patience and love when it comes to fellow brethren. I know I need to grow in this area. But when compromise is pervasive, when lack of discipline is pervasive, and then when others try to deceive you (and themselves) into thinking that everything is all right--that is when it is time to be bold. "The righteous are as bold as a lion."

We need to rigorously apply the Bible to all of life. There is an antithesis between unbelieving thought, and believing thought. It touches upon every aspect of our being and life. There will always be a clash between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.

We should be utterly disturbed by compromise.

May Christ be exalted in our lives, in every area, and in every thought. May we be jealous for His lordship.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

WHY WE MINIMIZE SIN

Woe to us, because we live in a culture that minimizes sin. It is the prideful human tendency to make sin lighter than it really is. We all do it. But especially here in America.

Especially among evangelical Christians, there is a tendency to look at sin as less serious than it really is. We willingly lie to ourselves and teach ourselves that it is OK, because at least we're not like that other person over there. "Sure, I've stolen, but at least I haven't murdered." Then the murderer says, "Sure, I've murdered, but at least I haven't murdered like a serial-killer." Then the serial killer says, "Sure, I have serially-murdered, but at least I didn't torture them." And then, my friends, Hitler says, "Sure, I killed and tortured six million of them, but at least they were Jews." Where does it all end?!

We need to see sin for what it is. The only way this will happen is if the Word of God is applied to our hearts. We need to read it and study it prayerfully, asking the Holy Spirit to transform us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We need to be slain by the Law of God, and transformed by the gospel of Christ. Read Romans 7 and Paul's description of sin. The Law came that sin would become utterly sinful.

Notice, please, that it is the Law that condemns and convicts, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Have you lusted after a woman? Then you've committed adultery with her. Have you hated someone? Then you've murdered them. Have you coveted something? Then you've stolen it. Paul says that the Law is spiritual! Romans 7:13 says that "in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good [the Law], so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful."

The holy Law of God displays God's holy character. As we study the Law, we begin to see, by God's grace applied, our utter sinfulness. We begin to see the utter holiness of God. Christianity today has too low a view of God and too high a view of man. We are so trapped in our sinfulness, that our sinfulness permeates to the very core of our being. It takes a miracle of sovereign grace to free us from our sin. And even after we have been freed, regenerated, and born again, we still are slowly being released from the power of sin as we are being transformed more and more into Christ's image.

Let us stop deceiving ourselves. Our sin is wickedly evil and disgusting. It makes a mockery of the holiness of God. It breaks His holy Law. It nailed Christ to the cross.

May God grant us the eyes to see our sinfulness, and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Jesus is indeed the true Savior--He saves us not only from sin's penalty, but also from its power in our lives as well!


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

THE ACTIVE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST A NECESSITY

Brothers and sisters in Christ, is it not extremely hard to believe what is going on in Reformed circles these days? Can you believe that people who are calling themselves "Reformed" are denying the imputation of Christ's righteousness? The imputation of the righteousness of Christ is essential to biblical and Reformed doctrine.

The active obedience of Christ is the fact that Christ perfectly fulfilled the Law of God by obeying it in its every aspect. He did this for His elect. God the Father imputes Christ's Law-keeping to us, and regards us as if we kept the Law of God perfectly. The active obedience was necessary for His passive obedience, which is Christ's death on the cross. So in justification, we are imputed Christ's righteousness and His death on the cross, forgiving our sins.

However, those who are denying active obedience are saying that all justification is is merely the forgiveness of sins. But, as Sproul has rightly said, if that is all justification is, then we would be like Adam in the Garden again. We would be back to square one. But what positive righteousness would we have to commend us before the Father?

Granted, I believe that in justification, much more than just Christ's fulfilling of the Law and His death on the cross is imputed to us. In fact, all of Christ's life, death, and resurrection are imputed to us. In fact, it is the entire work of Christ that is imputed to us. But I still think the active/passive obedience distinction is helpful, because Christ did indeed come to obey the Law. There are several passages which mention this. Scripture mentions that Christ had to be "under the Law" to redeem those under the Law. Our Lord tells John the Baptist that it is proper to baptize Him "so as to fulfill all righteousness."

I believe that those who are denying active obedience are on deadly ground spiritually. They have a low view of their own sinfulness. We need to love the truth in order to be saved. We need to get a glimpse of our utter sinfulness, and the utter holiness of God. When we, by God's grace, see it, then we will cling to justification by faith alone by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone with all of our being.

May the Lord bring to repentance those who are denying the work of Christ. May He open their eyes to the glory of Christ and to the utter beauty of His redemptive work.



Thursday, March 31, 2005

THOUGHTS ON TERRI SCHIAVO

Today, Terri Schiavo has died. It is an extreme tragedy that we have added to our holocaust here in the U.S.A., the land of the oppressed and the home of the cowardly. We have come so far from what our founding fathers' ideal was.

However, something struck me recently. I was talking to a brother in Christ recently. I said to him, "Doesn't this whole Terri Schiavo thing anger you?" I'll never forget his response. He said, "Of course--but it's no different than all the murdering of babies that our nation has done for a long time." In other words, he has a good point. Why are we Christians suddenly becoming outraged and jumping on the frustration bandwagon now, when we should have been outraged and determined to fight injustice ages ago?

Folks, it's not just Terri Schiavo. Every day, thousands of babies are killed. Our nation legalized this thirty years ago. This is a legacy of autonomy. Man suppresses the truth of God's Law, which is written on his heart, and he replaces it with self-law. It is not up to the courts to decide what is right and what is wrong. Ethics reflects God's character. God is the standard of goodness. I know He is outraged with this country. How do I know this? Because He is a God of justice and wrath. Scripture says He by no means clears the guilty, but Has mercy on those who call upon His Name.

Brothers and sisters in Christ: It is the Church that is the glory of the world. God restrains evil primarily through the influence of the Church. But the Church is sitting on her thumbs. She is doing nothing. She is ignoring the Great Commission. But when she seems to obey the Great Commission, she preaches a man-centered gospel of "Jesus can make you happy."

People need to be crushed by the Law of God, so that sin becomes utterly sinful, as Paul says in Romans 7. They need to know that they are under God's holy wrath and displeasure. They need to be told that Christ is their only remedy, not only from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin (and ultimately from the presence of sin). They need to be told that Christ is the Only One Who can save them from their willing self-deception. They need to be told to love the truth, so as to be saved.

We need to learn to think God's thoughts after Him, to be transformed through the renewing of our minds, to test and approve what God's good, pleasing, and perfect will is. And we need to teach others repentance, and preach repentance.

I believe that the Bible teaches that the Church will succeed in her task in history--but not until she gets off of her thumbs and preaches the gospel of no compromise. Christ is Lord over every area of life and thought, whether someone is a believer or an unbeliever. This is absolutely true, for everyone, whether believer or unbeliever. The absolute fact is, that the only way of salvation is in Christ alone, by faith alone, and by God's grace alone.

May God open up the Church's eyes to her task, and grant her repentance to perform it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


WELCOME TO THE U.S.A.: THE LAND OF THE OPPRESSED AND THE HOME OF THE COWARDLY

I am extremely outraged at what is going on with the Terri Schiavo case. Isn't it obvious that man's standards of good and evil are arbitrary? What makes man the final determiner of what a life is and what isn't?

We live in a society that only cares about itself. To illustrate this, consider the fact that my wife and I have decided to be a "full quiver" family. (That is, we want to have as many children as the Lord gives us, and we do not practice birth control.) My wife has agreed to not have any alcoholic drinks while she is breastfeeding or pregnant. Recently, one of our family members said to her, "So you're not going to have any drinks unless you're not pregnant or breastfeeding?!" He asked the question in a way that just thought that was so tough. Poor her, he seemed to say.

But my wife and I see it differently. It is a small sacrifice to make for the joy of raising children. But our society is cowardly when it comes to having children. They do not see children as the precious gift from the Lord that they are. Scripture tells us that they are a heritage, and that he who has a quiver-full of them is blessed. (A quiver is what holds arrows for an archer. It can hold a lot of arrows!) Scripture also tells us that children are arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior.

DREAMS CHANGE

When I first got married, my dream was to finish seminary, go to Philadelphia to finish my doctorate in theology, and then go to Spain and serve there. But the Bible says, "In a heart a man plots his course, but it is the Lord that determines his steps." God had a different plan. Since then I have grown immensely in my understanding of doctrine and practice, and the Lord has blessed us with two children. He has shown me the need to work hard to support my family.

So we moved to Georgia to teach at a classical Christian school. But our understanding of the vitality of the Lord's Supper and the necessity of a biblical church has grown as well. So we are moving back to California to return to our church.

I will be teaching in another Reformed school in California. For how long? Only the Lord knows. The main thing is that I need to support my family. This may mean I'll only work in the Reformed school world for only a time, or it could mean that I will end up teaching in public schools. I will be going for my credential as well. But the Lord determines my steps.

Through all of this, what have I learned? I'll tell you.

Do you know what my dream is? To love my wife and family and to support them. To serve in the true church of our Lord and enjoy the means of grace. To persevere until the end, along with my family. My dream is to serve the Lord wherever He has me. May He be praised in my life.

welcome to my new blog

Hello everyone, and welcome to my new blog. I think that this blog is a lot better than the one I was using, because this one allows for comments. Anyone is welcome to comment after my posts.

Some of my previous posts from Xanga will now be transferred to here. I will transfer the ones from Xanga which I believe are the most important. So, today, the posts you see will be previous posts from Xanga.

After today, I will have new posts.

Please feel free to respond to any! Click where it says "comments" to respond. (I think you have to have a blogger account, but you can create one for free.)

You can always respond by e-mail as well to
solaschristos@yahoo.com.

Enjoy the Reformed oasis!