Wednesday, August 30, 2006

THE GOSPEL IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY

Every religion except for true, biblical Christianity does not deal with the heart. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy are not included as part of Christianity, because they are cultic, and a perversion of God's Word. In fact, as the Spirit of God was operating on Martin Luther's heart, he would confess his sins to the priest. One time, he confessed that he coveted brother so-and-so's soup. The priest told him to confess something worthwhile and interesting!

Another example of this is the mantra that the Eastern Orthodox priests say when their confessors come: "Confess to me all you have done."

Jesus Himself was clear that it was the heart that was sinful. Have you ever struggled with your own heart? True, biblical Christianity is hard because we have to deal with and conquer our own sinful hearts. All other religions only deal with the outside. Anyone can pray five times a day toward Mecca and recite formulas. Anyone can confess the "big sins" to a priest and then go away and lust after their co-worker, because, after all, at least they didn't actually commit adultery with them. Anyone can live in this kind of a moralistic fashion.

This is why the gospel is not for everyone. I am not saying that we should not preach the gospel to all; we should. I am saying what our Lord Jesus Himself said: The gospel is for those who are blind, who are poor, who are sick, and who are tired of their own righteousness. The gospel is not for those who think they are basically good. The gospel is for those who know that there is nothing good that dwells in them.

Christ did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. It is not the healthy who needs a doctor, but the sick. Since the Pharisees claimed they could see, their guilt remained.

O Lord, show us by Your grace that we are blind, sick, poor, and wretched. Justify us solely by the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sanctify us by cleaning our putrid hearts and writing Your most Holy Law upon them, and preserve and bring us to the very end. In the precious Name of our perfect Savior, the Lion of Judah. Amen.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

MY WIFE: THE AMAZING WOMAN

I love my wife so much. I have to brag about her.

Today, I offered to let her go out by herself for a while, because believe me, she could use time to herself. She is always serving others. But the first thing she said when I asked her at home if she was going to do that was, "What would I do?". She is so accustomed to serving others that she didn't even know what to do for herself!

Another thing she said was, "That's fine, but not for too long. I miss you already."

Not only that, but she wanted to use some of the spending money I gave her to spend on other people!

Angela Christine Brisby, you are all woman. I am so honored to be your husband. You are such an excellent example for me in your patience and servanthood, and in so many other ways.

I love you my beauty. You are my hero. Smooches and hugs to you!!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I CALLED IT!

When I was young, I had a major interest in astronomy (no, not astrology; astronomy). As I studied it, I came to be convinced that Pluto was not really a planet.

Well, it's now official. Today they decided that Pluto is what is called a "dwarf planet." They demoted it for the very reason I said: namely, that its orbit is oblong and sometimes crosses paths with Neptune. (From 1979-1999 Neptune was the outermost planet because of Pluto's strange pattern of orbit.)

I remember telling my college astronomy teacher my theory. He didn't think I was a weirdo, but he certainly didn't believe me either.

I wonder if he remembers me now?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

INTERESTING PERSONALITY SURVEY

I took a personality survey today on my first day of work. The interesting thing is, it was very right on! I also was able to use it to help understand and communicate better with someone who I have had conflicts with in the past.

TO TAKE THE SURVEY:

Click on this link: www.staff.hightechhigh.org/~ramato/ATTACHMENTS/WHAT%20COLOR%20ARE%20YOU.doc

and print it out.

You rate from 1 to 4 on each row, 1 being the least like you, and 4 being the most like you. You must do it per row. You cannot rate more than one of the same number per row. Instead, you have to have one row look like, for example, this: 1-3-2-4 or 4-2-3-1, etc. You can't do 4-4-3-2 or whatever. The purpose is to find where your personality mainly fits.

I fell into the green: curiosity. Minus what it says about science-fiction books, it is pretty straightforward about me. My wife fell into the same category.

The person I had conflicts in the past with fell into the harmony category. When you compare blue and green, you can see why we had conflicts.

But it is good, because I now know how that person thinks.

No, I'm not doing a seminar, and I'm not selling anything!

Have fun! Let me know how you do!

--Josh Brisby

Monday, August 07, 2006

REFLECTIONS ON THE RECENT SCCCS CONFERENCE

My wife and I just got back from our short trip to the SCCCS Conference (Southern California Center for Christian Studies). SCCCS was one of the ministries that the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen developed. You can also see my wife's reflection on the conference on her blog, www.angelabrisby.blogspot.com .

AN ABANDONMENT OF BAHNSEN'S LEGACY

I was sorely disappointed with the conference this year. SCCCS has become influenced by the New Perspective on Paul and the Auburn Avenue theology. Many have stated that Bahnsen would not have had a problem with where things are now, but I highly doubt this. Bahnsen himself devoted several pages in his Theonomy In Christian Ethics discussing the necessity of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ, which many (though not all) in the Auburn Avenue and Norman Shepherd movements deny. What is at stake is a complete revision of the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Not only this, but this year's conference was on Christianity and the movies. Throughout the conference, we were told that image is just as important as the Word. I don't deny that image is important, and I don't deny that Christ is the image of God. But God has been pleased and still is pleased to save primarily by the foolishness of preaching, as the apostle Paul calls it. The sacraments (the visible words) seal the Word preached in our hearts. This is why we Reformed Baptists (and many other Reformed Christians) think that the regulative principle of worship is vital to corporate worship.

IS PROPOSITION ALL THAT BAD?

Another theme that ran throughout the conference is that story is the important motif that we see throughout Scripture. That is to say, since we live in a postmodern society, we should supposedly get away from theological proposition, and return to the concept of story.

I see the above as extremely simplistic. I do not deny that story is important, but we need to have a good balance in all things. Just like we need both doctrine and practice, and theology and holy living, we need both story and proposition.

The fact is, even though people claim to think postmodernly, no one really, truly is able to think postmodernly. People still believe that 3+2 is always five. They still think in absolute categories, and the Christian faith with its notion of absolute truth still encompasses their thought. This is what Van Til and Greg Bahnsen always pushed forth.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the future if SCCCS continues on its current route. I predict that they will completely abandon Van Til's legacy and Bahnsen's heritage.

SOME DISTURBING EXAMPLES OF THINGS THAT TOOK PLACE

This section is kind of an addendum, as it were, listing some disturbing things that took place at the conference.

*Brian Godawa called Roman Catholics "Christians." Since when do those who deny the gospel (justification by faith alone) have a right to the name of Christ?

*A movie was shown that Tony Campolo made. (Campolo is not very orthodox, from what I understand.) The summary of the movie is that a Christian threw a birthday party for a prostitute. After the movie was shown, the speaker called this an example of "the gospel." A friend of mine rightly raised his hand during the discussion, asking how this was the gospel. There was no theological content to it. After my friend asked the question, someone who should have known better (being the son of Greg Bahnsen) mentioned that the gospel is "taking care of widows and orphans." Really?! So Mormons have the gospel? I mean, Mormons take care of widows and orphans. But what this fails to realize is five things.

(1) The passage in question is James 1:26-27. It says that "true religion" is to do those things. It does not say those things are "the gospel."

(2) The biblical defition of "religion" is theology put into practice. In other words, if you have the right theology, and put it into practice, then it is true religion. One example of this is taking care of the widows and orphans.

(3) The passage continues to say that true religion also includes keeping oneself unspotted from the world.

(4) 1:26 also says that true religion is to keep a tight reign on the tongue. The person who responded to my friend rudely did not keep a tight reign on his tongue. He didn't even respond to his argument!

(5) As my friend's wife pointed out, Angelina Joelee and Brad Pitt "take care of widows and orphans." So are we going to say, then, that Joelee and Pitt are "practicing the gospel"?!

WHERE IS REFORMED CHRISTIANITY GOING?

If this is the identity of SCCCS, I do not want to be a part of it. Guy Prentiss Waters has written a book critical of the New Perspective, as well as another one critical of the Auburn Avenue theology. Waters obtained his Ph.D. under one of the New Perspective writers, so he knows their theology well. He is well-qualified to critique these views. I would highly recommend those books for your library.

Where is Reformed Christianity going? True, Auburn Avenue and the New Perspective and Norman Shepherd and N.T. Wright do have some good things to say, but they have spiritually deadly things to say as well. The solution is not to revamp what the Reformers and Confessions brought us, but instead the solution is to pay closer attention to the Confessions and, most importantly, to Holy Scripture. Both the London Baptist and Westminster Confessions chose their words very carefully. It is scary to see that many getting involved in the NPP, Shepherdism, N.T. Wright, and the Auburn Avenue theology are literally becoming Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. I have seen it happen to some of my own friends.

May the Lord cause us to cling to Christ, and to be balanced in our theology and practice. Amen.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'VE BEEN TAGGED!!!

OK, so now I have an excuse to do another post. My buddy Paul Manata from www.presstheantithesis.org/blog tagged me. So, here goes:

Q. One book that changed your life

A. The Holy Bible


Q. One book that you've read more than once

A. The Pilgrim's Progress


Q. One book you'd want on a desert island

A. The Holy Bible


Q. One book that made you laugh

A. The Mantra of Jabez by Doug Jones


Q. One book that made you cry

A. I confess, when I was a kid I cried in A Wind In the Door by Madeleine L'Engle. I cried when the seraph (cherub?) left Meg (?). Don't worry, I don't read that kind of New Age hogwash anymore!


Q. One book that you wish had been written

A. A book defending the covenantal Baptist perspective, yet from an external/internal two circles view of the covenant. I guess I'd better get busy!


Q. One book that you wish had never been written

A. Anything dispensational; but since I have to choose one of my own free will (!), I'd say the Scofield Reference Bible. Scofield's notes helped popularize American dispensationalism and American Christianity into the silliness that it is today.


Q. One book you're currently reading

A. With Good Reason by S. Morris Engel


Q. One book you've been meaning to read

A. Introductory Logic by Doug Wilson