Monthly Archives: September 2013

40 Days for Life Kickoff Rally

Yellowstone Valley Christians for Life sponsors the local 40 Days for Life here in Billings. Last night was the Kickoff Rally, hosted at St. Bernard Catholic Church. I provided the opening prayer (see below), and Father John, Orthodox Priest at St. Nicholas, and Mike Rapkoch, member of YVCfL, provided a couple wonderful talks, and Dr. Bill Phillips, President Emeritus at Yellowstone Christian College, provided the closing prayer.


7 PM
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
40 Days for Life Kickoff Rally
St. Bernard Catholic Church
Billings, MT

2 Chronicles 7:14  “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Our Father in Heaven: You are the Master and Blessed Creator of the Universe and Jesus Christ, your only Begotten Son, is the Savior and Redeemer of man. We are your covenant people, called by your name because You, the Father and the Son, have sent us your Holy Spirit, to fill and empower and communicate to us the righteousness and victory that Jesus Christ secured for us through his life, death, burial, and resurrection.

O Lord, because we have your Holy Spirit we have an unction and understanding, because now your Law has been written in our hearts, so that we might do all that Christ commands. And since we know that which Christ commands, we come before you this evening as faithful Christians; as brothers and sisters in the household of faith; as citizens in the Kingdom of God. We come before you this evening at this Kickoff Rally, O Triune Lord, as a members of the Culture-of-Life, and as a Witness against our Nation’s and the World’s Culture-of-Death.

In your Perfect Law you condemn murder: to Moses you said , “Thou shalt not kill.”

Our society, O Lord, has scoffed at your Law. Truly, our Nation is a country of sinners and scoffers. And because of this, we, your people – those who are called by your name – we come now before you in humility and prayer, interceding on the behalf of our nation.

Lord, we confess and acknowledge that we live in a society that has built prosperity and a culture, economies and our cities upon the blood of the Aborted. Blood flows from the operation tables in the abortion facilities, out doors, over sidewalks, and into the streets. This blood is mixed with the mortar that is our Nation’s progress and growth, and thus, Lord, we come before you and confess that we live in a Nation of bloody-city-builders.

Lord, we thank you that we can be witnesses against the culture of death and against the vain raging of a Nation that builds cities with the blood of the unborn: their voices have been silenced, but we will not be silenced by the power of your Spirit. So, O Lord, we ask that you would do a mighty work through the 40 Days for Life in our Valley. Protect the many who in the days to come will offer up the sacrifice of prayer to you on the behalf of the unborn; and we rejoice knowing that you have promised through your Word, which never returns void, that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.“

We ask that the hearts of fathers and mothers would be turned to their children through our witness. We ask that you would save babies here in Billings! We ask that you would prevent mother’s from committing the sin of aborting their children here in Billings! We ask that you would close the Abortion Facility that is here in Billings — in our midst, in our city, just up the road — and we ask that you would do all this in order that you might be Glorified!  We pray these things in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

WCF. I. Of the Holy Scriptures – 8. Q & A

Blogging through and answering the questions from G. I. Williamson’s The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes for personal review and comprehension.

WCF. I. Of the Holy Scriptures – 8.

1. How many “Bibles” are there (in the ultimate sense)?

In the ultimate sense, there is only one Bible, “given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life” (WCF. I.2.).

2. Give the correct definition of “the Bible.”

It is the original text [the “autographa of the inspired authors” (15)] written by authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

3. Do we actually possess the original manuscripts upon which the Word of God was originally written?

No. We only have copies (apographa) of the original text. But these copies “actually possess it [the original text] in “authentical” form” (15).

4. What does the Modernist say about the “original, infallible Word of God”?

He says, “What use . . . is an infallible Bible when no one possesses it?” (The Modernist equivocates the original manuscript, which we no longer have, with the original text, which we do have preserved in copies.)

5. Could a copy of the infallible Word of God be as infallible as the Word of which it is a copy? Explain.

Yes. A copy preserves and transmits the truth of the original.

6. Were the early copies perfect?

Some could have been, but they could not all necessarily be perfect because they were copied by uninspired persons. They were copied by hand and men make mistakes.

7. What two chief factors worked to preserve the perfect text even through imperfect copiers?

First, there is a cloud of witnesses (copies). Each copiest made his own mistakes, and the other copies stand as witnesses of both a) the entire text and b) against that copiest’s mistakes.

Second, the Greek-speaking Churches that were founded outside of Palestine were familiar with the text and mistakes would have been noticed, this “helped reduce the errors of copiers to an exceedingly small amount” (17).

8. Which of these do you believe most important?

Williamson believes the former is weightier.

9. Why is it no longer necessary that preservation of the true text depend on the Greek-speaking Church?

Because we now have “mechanical means of printing” (17), i.e., printing presses, copy machines, e-publishing, photographs and digital imaging, etc.

10. What is the glorious result of God’s singular care and providence so far as Scripture is concerned?

God has by his “care and providence” kept the original text pure through the ages; “We do now actually possess before our very eyes the “authentical” text of the Word of the living God” (17).

Unifying Approach to Life: ‘Is this wisdom or folly?’

“But it [Book of Proverbs] is not a portrait-album or a book of manners: it offers a key to life. The samples of behaviour which it holds up to view are all assessed by one criterion, which could be summed up in the question, ‘Is this wisdom or folly?’ This is a unifying approach to life, because it suits the most commonplace realms as fully as the most exalted. Wisdom leaves its signature on anything well made or well judged, from an apt remark to the universe itself, from a shrewd policy (which springs from practical insight) to a noble action (which presupposes moral and spiritual discernment). In other words, it is equally at home in the realms of nature and art, of ethics and politics, to mention no others, and forms a single basis of judgment for them all” (Derek Kidner, The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: The Proverbs, 13).

Roger E. Olson says, “Me No Likey Clavinistic Creep!”

For a side splitting laugh, go read Arminian-powerhouse Roger E. Olson’s musings on New Calvinism.

We’ve heard of “Mission Creep” — when a project expands beyond its original goals. Roger E. Olson is struggling with “Calvinistic Creep” — “What am I going to do with all these Calvinists (that are showing up in the unlikeliest of places, i.e., in Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Holiness, and Anabaptist Churches)!!!”

My thoughts: John 3:8 “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

WCF. I. Of the Holy Scriptures – 7. Q & A

Blogging through and answering the questions from G. I. Williamson’s The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes for personal review and comprehension.

WCF. I. Of the Holy Scriptures – 7.

1. What does “perspicuity” of Scriptures mean?
Perspicuity is used to describe the clarity of what Scripture teaches: Scripture is easily understood and lucid.
2. What is the Roman Catholic doctrine on this same point?
Roman Catholics do not agree with Protestants on this point. They believe “We can know the true meaning [of Scripture] . . . from the Catholic Church which has been authorized by Jesus Christ to explain His doctrines” (Baltimore Catechism, Q. 1328). Thus, they are saying that Scripture is not lucid, since they insist Scripture needs the interpretive imagination of the Roman Catholic Church.


3. Contrast Roman Catholic and Reformed views of the creed.
For the former, creeds are the lucid interpretations provided by the Church of the unclear Scriptures. For the latter, the “authority of creeds is determined by Scripture, not determinative of Scripture” (13). The Reformed view is that the creeds are always subordinate to Scripture.


4. Does the doctrine of perspicuity of Scripture teach that there is nothing difficult to understand in Scripture? What is the difference between this admission and the Roman Catholic teaching?
No. The doctrine of perspicuity of Scripture does not teach there is nothing difficult to understand in Scripture. There are many profound things taught in Scripture, e.g., Doctrine of Election, Doctrine of Trinity. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2). These profound things are hard to understand because of the nature of their content, but they can be understood.
5. What must the humblest as well as the most learned Christian do to understand the Scriptures? Do you think that those who complain of Scripture being too hard to understand have ever really done this?
All must study the Scriptures in order to understand the Scriptures. This is a diligent work. It is not something that is accomplished with “spasmodic spurts of effort” (13). If you read Scripture diligently and cumulatively, then you cannot say it is too hard to understand.
6. How does Scripture itself indicate that God regards his Word as clear enough for all to understand?
God tells us to search and study and read the Scriptures, and God’ s Word is addressed to all men.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Acts 17:11 “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

 John 5:39 “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

 Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

7. What would you believe are “the ordinary means” which must be duly used?
Study the Bible in a systematic fashion with aids (pastoral help, the creeds, Bible commentaries, Christian devotional writings, etc.).

WCF. I. Of the Holy Scriptures – 6. Q & A

Blogging through and answering the questions from G. I. Williamson’s The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes for personal review and comprehension.

WCF. I. Of the Holy Scriptures – 6.

1. Cite Scripture proof that God’s Word is now complete.

     Jesus Christ said he was the “truth” (John 14:6) and the author of Hebrews unwraps the logic of that statement, stating that “God …. at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” but now he “hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son” who is the “express image of his person.” The former was provisional, and the latter final.

2. Cite Scripture proof that God’s Word discloses all of his will for man.

     Paul says in Acts 20:27 that he declared “all the counsel of God.” In 2 Timothy 3:15-17, Paul argues that Scripture is able to teach, reprove, correct, and train us in righteousness/perfection.

3. Why is guidance given in terms of general principles rather than particular directions? (Two reasons may be given.)

     God’s law addresses all things, it is all encompassing, and if guidance is given in terms of general principles instead of particular directions that is actually a possibility (otherwise it would merely be wooden, legalistic, and bulky/verbose). Each of us is personally responsible to “apply these principles to [our] own circumstances” (11) in order to do all to the Glory of God. This involves engaging our thoughts and imaginations. But since the principles apply to specific and personal circumstances, Christian Liberty must be engendered and practiced.

4. How can the Bible suffice for all men in all times an places?

      These all-encompassing principles are universal, applying to all men, everywhere, at all times.

5. In the categories of worship and government give examples of things which are, and things which are not, circumstances of worship and government.

     Regarding worship: the time of day, location (indoors, out doors, in a building owned or rented), the color of the chairs, the paint on the walls, etc. Regarding government: the rules of church order (e.g., Book of Procedures), the specifics of constituting as a local church, etc.

6. Give an example to show that the general principles of the Word of God must control circumstances, and that the circumstances must not control (or be allowed to cause violation of) principles of the Word of God.

     In Exodus 23:4 we read, “If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.” A wooden interpretation that would cause violation would be as follows: a man sees his enemy’s sheep going astray, but since it isn’t the man’s ox or ass he doesn’t feel compelled to return the animal to his enemy.

The proper view – the principle from this case law is this for a contemporary circumstance: even if someone is your enemy, if you come across their misplaced (gone astray) property, then you have an ethical responsibility to restore the property to them. An example: your neighbor is always agitating you, complaining about your fence, about your lawn, about where and how you place the trash out by the curb on pick-up days, etc. You find his wallet on the sidewalk. You have a moral obligation, on the basis of the principle demonstrated in Exodus 23:4, to return the wallet to your neighbor.

Tuesdays with Blaster at Tree & The Seed: TMWAJ – Tracks 10, 11, and 12

*I started this weekly review last year — this is one of my favorite punk rock records by the band Blaster the Rocket Man — and circling back now to finish the review for the latter half of the album.* 

Today’s installment is over Tracks 10, 11, and 12 of Blaster the Rocket Man’s 1999 release, The Monster Who Ate Jesus.

Go here for initial comments on album and the linear notes.

Go here for comments on Tracks 1, 2, and 3.
Go here for comments on Tracks 4, 5, and 6.
Go here for comments on Tracks 7, 8, and 9.

Track 10 – Lovebot’s Revenge

I don’t know if jungle-polka-punk-rock is an established music genre . . . However, if it is, this would be the poster-child song. The song opens with jungle-sounding drumming, then the songs kicks through a verse with guitar phrasing that accentuates the jungle-sounding drumming. And with the chorus the polka-ish rhythm begins. And throughout the song reverberated and layered vocals peppered with labial stops. Most excellent.

“homicide, lust hard by hate”
– Milton, “Paradise Lost”

I’m a bogie in the heart of the jungle
In a hidden lab under the vines of the tangle
I’ve got my sights on the lights of the city
I want a chemical reaction to something pretty

I’m programmed to fall for ya’, pretty baby
You’re programmed to fall for me, pretty baby
Aww…fall into my arms!

Harmful heat in my hugs hide
My lips are laced with cyanide
Never mind my medicine breath
Come hither for a kiss of Death, now
Hold me, hold me, hold me
Huggin’ and a lovin’

Who put the…in the…
Who was that man?
I’d like to 
cut his hands off!

Meanwhile, I’m in the jungle she calls a heart
Boilin’ and a burnin’ in a cauldron
Mauled by the tiger who eats my flesh
Then the monkeys swing down and devour the rest

Couldn’t he tell it was a bad relationship?
Didn’t he know we couldn’t get a grip
on each other or anything other than ourselves
which we lost in the process as well

I’m programmed to fall for ya’, pretty baby
You’re programmed to fall fro me, little honey
And great was our Fall, pretty baby
We all have fallen short of the glory of God!

Oh, I’m a romantic thriller
A real lady killer!

Where there once were feely fingers
No protrude poisonous stingers
Feel I’m left with no recourse
But to kill her with no remorse, now
Hold me…huggin’ and a kissin’

Who put the…in the…
Who was that man?
I’d like to cut his hands off!
(‘Cause he made my baby fall in love with me!)

Aw, have mercy
Somebody kill me!

Note: Let no one suppose for one moment that
Blaster promotes violence or murder in this physical,
temporal realm. This song is a satirical
thriller about the very real consequences to par-
taking in what this world celebrates as “love.”

So how do we recognize true love in a world
full of destructive counterfeits? “This is how we
know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life
for us.” (1 John 3:16)

The violence and mortification that Blaster
does promote, in other songs on this album, is
spiritual and part of a very real war that is, at
this moment, being waged. “Beloved, I beg you, as
aliens and strangers in this world, to abstain
from fleshly lusts, which war against your soul.”

(1 Peter 2:11)

Track 11 – Disasteroid

Punk rock. Tremolo picking and vocal growls accentuate this Apocalyptic-minded song. The earth is a “Disasteroid” that will burn up and be transformed into a New Heaven and New Earth.

(It’s winding down! It’s winding down!
It’s winding down!)
Your “mechanism” can’t organize life at the start
And the universe is ripping apart!
(It’s winding down! It’s winding down!
It’s winding down!)
Completely catastrophic
Entirely entropic
Nothing or none can stop it!

This world -womb will give birth
to a New Heaven and New Earth

(It’s burning down! It’s burning down!
It’s burning down!)
Open system or closed system
Either way you’ve missed Him who created you
(It’s burning up! It’s burning up! It’s burning up!)
In Christ all things consist
By His light you exist another day

You can’t change the course of the curse
The transformation will occur
World !
In the twinkling of an eye
Mortality will be swallowed up by Life

when the Earth is destroyed!

Track 12 – [Untitled]

This track is a spoken word intro to the following track, “Frankenstein’s Monster Wants a Wife.”

Frankenstein, Frankenstein, 
Where, where have you been?
In your laboratory
making something ghastly, gory
In the church yard 
digging hard
midst the tombstones
alone with bones
Did you steal the cadaver?
That your son may have her
And thus the monster
will curse his father
Frankenstein, Frankenstein

What have you seen?

Ignatius and Art of Dying

Ignatius was the Bishop of Antioch in Syria. He was arrested and led to Rome to be executed around 110 A.D. During his travels from Syria to Rome he wrote several letters to Christian churches. The following excerpt is from his letter to the Roman churches.

His captors were brutal; Ignatius says they “only get worse the better you treat them.” Ignatius knows they will feed him to lions/beasts when he arrives in Rome.

Reflecting on this, Ignatius says, “Now is the moment I am beginning to be a disciple. May nothing seen or unseen begrudge me making my way to Jesus Christ. Come fire, cross, battling with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs, crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the devil — only let me get to Jesus Christ!” (Quotations from Early Christian Fathers, edited and translated by Cyril C. Richardson (Volume I: The Library of Christian Classics), pages 104-105, in William C. Placher’s Readings in the History of Christian Theology, Volume 1, 18.)

WCF. I. Of the Holy Scriptures – 2-5. Q & A

Blogging through the questions from G. I. Williamson’s The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes.

WCF. I. Of the Holy Scriptures – 2-5.

1. What is the “proof” that the Bible is inspired?

     Evidence both internal and external to God’s Word is “proof” that the Bible is inspired. The internal evidence claims it is the Word of God, the New Testament authors believed the Old Testament was inspired, Jesus Christ promised to give his Holy Scripture to his disciples in order to write the New Testament Scriptures (see John 14:26), within the New Testament we see that the different authors treat each others writings as the inspired Word of God, the Bible contains information that could only be revealed (e.g., Creation, the future new heaven and new earth), in addition, the Bible contains many prophesies that were fulfilled. The “external evidence is subordinate, but important” (7): the Church in all ages has acknowledge Scripture as inspired, and the Scriptures have “been preserved as no other writing on earth” (7), indicating God’s special care.

2. How does the Bible express the claim that it is inspired?

     The Bible claims to be the word of God. The Bible claims God is its author.

3. Why cannot the authority of the Bible depend on the “testimony” of any man or Church?

     The authority of the Bible cannot depend on the “testimony” of any man or Church because both can and oftentimes err. “Yet it is no small thing that the Church even in its darkest days has acknowledged that the Bible is the Word of God” (7).

4. What is Rome’s audacious claim?

     Rome’s audacious claim is that the the Bible is the Word of God, but that this certainty depends upon the testimony of the Church. (See the Baltimore Catechism, Q. 1327: “it is only from Tradition (preserved in the Catholic Church) that we can know which of the writings of ancient times are inspired and which are not inspired.”)

5. How do Protestants sometimes subordinate the authority of Scripture to men?

     This occurs when Protestants foolishly grant or give credence to the unbeliever’s claim that there is nothing within Scripture that warrants them to believe it is the Word of God. That is, when Protestants grant that there is a “neutral” starting point from which to dive into the complex web of data (i.e., archaeological, historical, etc.) and attempt to sift through the facts and arrive at the truth of the matter. This is foolishness because it is idolatrous, it makes the reason of man the measure of all things.

6. Where must the evidence of Scripture’s divinity be sought?

      The evidence must be sought in the Divine-Word; the evidence is evident in the intrinsic qualities. The Word of God is there. It is and in it are the evidences of its divinity. “As Prof. John Murray puts it: ‘The authority of Scripture is an objective and permanent fact residing in the quality of inspiration'”(8).

7. If the evidence is there, why does not faith always result when men are confronted with that evidence?

     There is no deficiency in the evidence, so the reasons faith does not always result when men are confronted with the evidence is because “not all men have the requisite perceptive faculty” (8). What is the state of the man’s heart? If they hate God, if the grace of God is not active in their heart, then their understanding is darkened by bondage to sin. The truth (evidence) is there, but they attempt to hold it down and suppress it (see Romans 1:18).

8. When the Confession speaks of the Holy Spirit “bearing witness,” does it mean that the new truth conveyed to the mind?

     No. The Holy Spirit is not conveying new truth to the mind of man. The Holy Spirit “bearing witness” does so “by and with the word in our hearts.” There is both the objective witness of Scripture and the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, and man through the internal work of the Holy Spirit responds appropriately to the truth that is the objective witness of Scripture. The truth in the Bible is the truth conveyed to the mind of believers through the work of the Holy Spirit. “God’s whole truth to man is contained in Scripture” (8). The Word of God is inherently perfect, therefore, the Holy Spirit does not convey new truth to the mind of man.