Friday, June 27, 2003

Doctrinal Diversity in the PCA
While talking with a new friend here, I've come to realize the vast differences that exist within the PCA. I can identify three distinct groups.

At one end of the spectrum are the "Church Growth" PCAers. To reach more people (or at least non-Presbyterians) they often do things like drop the name Presbyterian from their church name. Here you'll find the drum set and yuppie-casual attire. I was discipled within this camp and it's just recently struck me as strange that one of the 7 books in the canon for elder training was a Peter Wagner book on Church Growth.

Then there are the "traditional" PCAers. You can spot them by the hymn duets on piano and organ. Kristin was raised in this tradition and I think she's still the most comfortable here.

And then way on the other end of the spectrum are the TRs. I'm not sure if the 'T' stands for Truly or Thoroughly; it's some descriptor of that sort, describing their commitment to the Reformed faith (the 'R'). I hope to visit my first quasi-TR church this Sunday (it's rare indeed to achieve the full TR status). I'm not too familiar with all their distinctives (they are legion) but I think it's fair to say they're anti-revivalist and perhaps the most doctrinally like the Puritans of lore.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Our trip to Ocean Isle, N.C.
Here are a couple vacation recommendations. Go out of your way to visit family and friends. By adding a couple of hours to our travel time we were able to see my mom, aunt, uncle, cousin, plus friends we haven't seen for 7 years. And once at the beach we stayed with friends that have children about the same age as ours. Our rental house was not on the beach but instead on a salt marsh. Surprisingly, this added a lot to our stay. The children used chicken-necks and twine to catch more than 20 crabs (3 varieties) right off the dock. Once cooked, we taught them how to eat their catch. Some locals used their net to shrimp behind our unit and gave us a bag full of their catch. We watched pelicans and bitterns circle and then plunge for fish each evening. Plus the little town put on a free blue-grass concert on our last night there!

Piper's Preaching
I finished listening to a recent Founder's conference. John Piper's message on the purpose of glorification both hit hard and filled me with awe. It's a sermon worth hearing many times and I can't express his message nearly as articulately as he did yet, but I want to mention two of his points. The first is about heaven and why we're wrong to think of it as boring. In heaven we'll still be finite beings, God is the only infinite Person. So our finite but sinless self will experience ever-increasing joy and ever-mounting ecstasy as we discover more and more of the goodness and fullness of God. His mercies will indeed be new every morning! The second point hit hard and showed that most teaching on glorification is man-centered. Since we know what joy lies ahead, we should remember that to die is gain. We should be willing to show that our love for Christ has penetrated our entire being so that we're undeterred by persecution, trouble, poverty, sickness in this life. We fail to show that our love for Christ is more than our love for this life.

My family presented me with a nice guitar for Father's Day. I underestimated the difficulty in fingering the chords. One millimeter of placement makes a significant difference. It's going to take a lot of practice to build up flexibility in my fingers to hit the right spots.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Traveling through June. Last night I returned from an East Coast trip to Maryland, New York, and Rhode Island and tomorrow we're off to North Carolina with a stop to see family in SC along the way. Then it's immediately off to New Mexico. No posts for a while.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Side-by-Side Comparison of Baptism Positions. I've read enough now from both the Reformed Baptist and Paedobaptist positions to complete a short summary of their arguments. I've attempted to keep it free of bias and present each view with strength. I've formatted the document in a way that makes it easy to compare the different positions on such matters as covenant theology, children of believers, etc. I plan to finish it by next weekend. If you're interested in a copy, drop me an e-mail at

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Temptations Common to a Boy. Our 5-year old son, Eli, entered a new phase of childhood. Once we were in high demand during play-time. But now his new neighborhood friends have replaced us. He cannot get enough time with them. I vaguely remember boyhood memories and how fast the summer days slipped by. Now it's Eli's friends who are constantly on his mind and tongue. The situation was exacerbated this week when he outgrew the need for training wheels on his bike. His friends and he treat our quiet neighborhood like a large park. Every inch of ground is now a bike trail. The problem is that his new found freedom and increased independence is a challenge in self-control that he often fails. There are scuffmarks across our front yard from dragging him inside for a meal or schoolwork. I'm excited to see him blossom into a full-fledged (and muddy) boy, but to quote the best line from the Spiderman movie, "with power comes responsibility".

Monday, June 02, 2003

Doctrine and Life.

As we look for a church in this area I've boiled down my "evaluation criteria" to just three: Stated Doctrine, Doctrine lived out in the leadership, Doctrine lived out in the laity.

We've gotten to know four churches in this area pretty well. Two PCA churches get very high marks in the first category--on paper we're likeminded. But they both fall woefully short in one or both of the other categories. So their overall "scores" suffer.

The other two churches are Reformed Baptist bodies; so for us they get lower marks in doctrine due to our differences in covenantal theology. But both are stronger in the "lived out" categories. And the one we visited this Sunday was most impressive of all.

I'm also wondering if there's another angle to the stated-doctrine vs. lived-out-doctrine relationship. It's obviously true that many churches deny their stated-doctrine with their lifestyles. For instance, few Presbyterians actually raise their children covenantally although they affirm they are "covenant children" by applying the sign. So couldn't it also be true that some churches live out doctrine that on paper they flatly deny? Should I be surprised that a Reformed Baptist church may actually raise their children as if they were "covenant children", even while they deny that their children are in the covenant?

We've got a few more stones to look under--we've visited 4 of the 7 reformed churches within 30 minutes. The remaining three are PCA churches; what will we find?