Monday, May 31, 2004


Again today I read a statement that I often encounter, "this [book, message, etc] is for Christians. If you haven't repented and accepted...". So often we seem to be told that a Christian is someone who has repented and believed the gospel [past tense]. This lacks humility and is a dangerously-incomplete confession of the faith. A Christian is someone who repents and believes [present tense]. Chief sinners, like us, should also be chief repenters.

Tonight during family worship my son showed repentance in a prayer for God to make him kinder to his family. We do struggle with sibling rivalry and with radically different personalities in our children. Tonight it struck me that Kristin and I have been so focused on correcting him that we are not also remembering to enjoy him.

It was refreshing for us to hear him repent tonight, now he needs to hear his parents do the same.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Summary of Biblical Theology

I became interested in this book because of the influence the author had on my pastor. I found his redemptive-historical preaching style to be powerful and engaging and I wanted to know what "redemptive-historical" meant.

Biblical Theology is Special Revelation told as epic history. It's somewhere between exegesis and systematic theology. It tracks the growth or development of the gospel in the Scriptures over time. Importantly, it relieves, to some extent, the unfortunate tendency to rely upon proof texts when defining fundamental doctrines. Instead, it traces these truths throughout the whole of the Bible.

Starting with pre-redemptive special revelation (e.g. creation), everything disclosed here is largely symbolical. Don't misconstrue this to mean that the events weren't actually real. It's real symbolism embodied in actual things. The symbols are not expressed in words so much as in tokens. These tokens prefigure and convey assurance concerning the future realization of the things symbolized.

In early redemptive relevation (the Fall to pre-Flood), it's important to note that here, as in all of the Old Testament, the concept of a personal Messiah is approached very gradually. It sufficed for fallen man to know that through His divine power and grace God would bring victory over the serpent. In that faith could rest. The object of their faith was much less defined than ours. But none the less, the essence of this faith was the same, trust in God's grace and power to bring deliverance from sin.

In Noachian revelation, note the rapid development of sin's power. In the first generation after Adam you already have murder. Sin proves powerful enough to prostitute the gifts of God's common grace. Soon there is no trace of the sense of sin in Cain's line. In Seth's line, the continuity of redemption is stressed. But even the good kept alive is not enabled to force back evil. While the power of redemption remained stationary, the power of sin waxed strong. Once the Sethites and Canites intermarry, the continuity of God's work appeared in danger, and the lesson of the destructive power of sin had been fully taught, the time had come to teach the finishing lesson of the judgment.

During the Patriarchal period, God checks the power of sin (e.g. division of tongues) and the actual beginning of the people of God, the first embodiment of objective religion, the nucleus of the Church is found with the call of Abram. The idea of faith suddenly springs into prominence. The patriarchs learned that God reserved to Himself the fulfillment of the promises (e.g. great nation, land, blessing to all people). They had learned to look upward to a form of possession of the promises identified closely with God Himself, instead of just a temporal fulfillment by possessing Canaan, etc.

Revelation in the time of Moses, consisting of the theocracy, typifies the perfected kingdom of God. When apostasy on a general scale took place, they could no longer remain in the promised land. The history of Israel was shaped by God intentionally so as to mirror all important situations befalling the people of God in all subsequent ages.

Prophetic revelation guarded the unfolded theocracy in order to keep it a true representation of the kingdom of Jehovah.

New Testament revelation, contained the speech of the Son, and so no higher speech was possible. It includes the Apostles, who are witnesses and interpreters of the Christ. Jesus regarded the whole Old Testament movement as a divinely directed and inspired movement, as having arrived at its goal in Himself. In His numerous appeals to Scripture, Jesus shows the Scriptures are a book for the people and that they cannot be broken (Jn 10:35).

This may be my longest post ever, so if you read this far, I hope you have a refreshed sense of the majesty and the oneness of the Scriptures.

Geerhardus Vos (1870-1949) is the author of Biblical Theology.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Adoption Options

We've found a couple different adoption agencies here that we think are worthwhile. Since we only plan to do the homestudy and post-adoption follow-up locally (our plan is to use an agency called Special Link for actually adopting a child), we're trying to decide who locally should do the homestudy. We've ensured that the homestudy will be conducted on biblical grounds (e.g. spanking is biblical not abusive, etc), so the real decision is, to which agency do we want to write a fat check?

One option is a small business ran by a Christian lady. Another is a Lutheran agency. We probably can't go wrong with either one, but we're wondering who should have the primary role for ensuring that we're a good family to adopt a child? It seems to us that this is more of a responsibility of the church, rather than just a state-certified agency. So I hope to involve our church in our homestudy. We're open to other thoughts.

Church Invitations

Part of a new assignment is getting out-of-the-blue invitations from people I meet to attend their church. Usually I know that their church wouldn't be a good fit for my family, but I appreciate the person's invitation. But conveying this can be difficult.

Today while entering an auditorium for a briefing I was invited to a large Baptist church. I only had a moment to reply, so I said, "How's the preaching?" His brief response painted a sad picture all too common today.

"Well, it's okay", my friend said a little surprised at my question, "the preaching is not very deep. You get that in a small group which meets during the week".

I declined the invite, but not without feeling blue for those that worship at a place that minimizes the preached Word.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Revenge of the Nerds?

As my first week here at the Air Force's Institute of Technology progresses, I'm struck at how single-faceted this place is. Like the city of Oz where everything is green, everything here is only hi-tech. The school library is a 3-story modern facility, but only stocked with technical books and journals. Books, books everywhere and not a drop [of literature] to drink! I'm not surprised that there are no liberal arts degrees here, but it seems there would be value in at least some liberal arts classes. The only offering that comes close is a single elective on just-war theory. The military instructors are uniformed, but otherwise, stereotypical 10-pound brains. Yesterday, the faculty seemed to enjoy giving us a "diagnostic" math exam containing 50 advanced calculus problems. I might have scored a 10% on it. This is the revenge of the nerds.

More than grumbling, I hope to raise a point while I'm here that the military relies too much on technology to win our nation's wars. While effective in destructive power and precision, it only forces our enemies to wage asymmetrical warfare. And at this our technology is unable to bring closure to a conflict.

To balance our approach to warfare, we need to comprehend a culture where religion is not just an individual, private thing, as it is here. Our western leaders need to fathom a society knitted together by a single religious conviction, as we see in the Islam of our enemies. If we can't understand our enemy, but instead rely only upon our technology to kill them all, I'm afraid we can't find peace, much less victory.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I'm no Doug Phillips

Doug Phillips has posted some great photos of a recent family trip cross-country. Looks like they had a lot more fun than we did! I didn't follow through with an early plan to stop along the way at state parks and maybe even hit a Roadfood restuarant.

Instead I reverted back to going after the land speed record. The worst part of the trip: lunch at a Burger King/gas-station along I-65 somewhere in Tennessee. There ought to be a food is bad enough already without the gas station atmosphere.

Some highlights from the trip: Kudos to the road engineers who laid out the approach into Cincinnati on I-75. The city is completely masked by some foothills until you round a bend in the road and then all of a sudden there it is in full view down in the valley just across the Ohio river.

I also greatly benefited from listening to the lectures on "America's Wars--a Biblical overview and evaluation" produced by Canon Press. I hope to bring up some of the points here in an elective course on Just War Theory. Thanks go to the BadgerMum for recommending them.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Living in Ohio

Our move back North was a good one. We packed six weeks of provisions into the car and van; enough to last us until we move into a house in July. For the time being we've rented a furnished apartment.

I had doubts about my 13 year old car making one more cross-country drive. Over the last 10 years it's gone from Alabama to San Antonio. From there to New Jersey. Then over to Illinois. Next down to Georgia. But even loaded down with stuff, including our confused Border Collie and son it made it up the hills of Tennessee and across the fields of Kentucky. God is good. I did have to turn-off the air conditioner on steeper climbs to keep up speed. I also found that sunflower seeds are good for fighting off the "sleepies" during long stretches.

Regrettably, we said good-bye to our Georgia church family (and the wonderful worship); but there are some promising options here, too. Both Kristin and I are longing to get settled and plugged-in again. It's tough to always be starting-over.

Today was the first day at AFIT (Air Force Institute of Technology); I saw several familiar faces from previous assignments. It's fun to catch up.

I also finally finished Biblical Theology by Vos. I hope to post some thoughts on it in the near future.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Cardboard Cottage

I type this from what is left of our home. Except for the computer, everything else that will fit has been taped shut inside a hundred or so cardboard boxes stacked throughout this house.

There are a 100 things flying around in my mind that I should be doing, but I'd like to record a portion of the remarks I made at my farewell luncheon.

After I led a toast to my co-workers, I sought to honor Christ with these words,

"Any success I've achieved in this job I owe in large part //large part// to Christ. This has been my favorite job in the Air Force, even though it has been stressful at times. I've had one other stressful job, that was flightline maintenance. Over time the pressure got to me. It made me defensive, cynical, bitter, cold. It got to the point that my supervisor counseled me on my bad attitude. And he was right!

"For those that know me, if that surprises you, I want to explain the two most important things I've learned about work during the last year or so. First, the Bible encourages hearty, diligent, excellent work. My God does all things well, and so should I. Second, and don't miss this, I'm slowly learning how not to work or expect affirmation from people or personal reward. Don't get me wrong! These things are good and we supervisors should reward our people. But the point is we don't always get it right. How much better it is that I get to entrust myself to One who judges justly!

"So those two things: Excellent work, Trusting One who judges justly; have kept me from that bad attitude that ruled me before.

"I don't say these things to lecture you, but as a simple way for me to honor Christ. I think some of you have enjoyed working with me or have enjoyed the fruits of my labor. I want you to know it's only because of Christ that you have enjoyed that. If it wasn't for His work it would have been a whole different experience."

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

All is Well?

This e-mail was sent last week to over 10,000 people that work on Robins Air Force Base, my current home:

"All Robins Personnel,
In light of concern regarding the safety of your children within the Houston County School System, Mr. Carpenter, Houston County School Superintendent, informs that all is well. He appreciates all your inquiries and wants you to know that there was only one isolated event at Warner Robins High School and it was handled quickly and effectively. Please be assured that your children are safe and doing fine today."

I asked around and learned that in the last two weeks the local high school has had 3 attempted suicides and one actual. They've also found a horde of guns and ammo in a student's car, plus one gun in the school building.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Break Camp

My posts will be few and far between until we are settled in Ohio.

We break camp next week when the movers show and then we'll put Georgia in the rear-view mirror.