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Updated: 2017-10-23T20:43:20.922-04:00


Sanctifying The Common (2)


the structure/direction distinction and Christian cultural activity In my last post, almost a year & a half ago, I explained that neotwokingdomism erroneously rejects the possibility of doing culture in a distinctively Christian way. The neotwokingdom position significantly depends on the view that since the institutional church and its activity are holy, cultural activity cannot be holy, or done Christianly, since culture is common. Michael Horton writes that “when God chose His people and instituted a form of worship, a clear distinction was made between “holy” and “common.” As Israel was “holy” and the nations were “common,” so God drew a line all the way down to pots and pans. Vessels used in the temple were holy; those used at home were common.” Michael S. Horton, Where in the World is the Church?: A Christian View of Culture and Your Role in It (1995; rep., Phillipsburg, 2002), 85. According to neotwokingdomism, the upshot for Christians today is that only the institutional church and its activities can be done Christianly. Advocates of this view hold that while a Christian's cultural activity can be good, it simply can't be holy in any way. I pointed out how neotwokingdomism is contrary to the Reformers' (particularly Calvin's) views despite many of its adherents being fellow Reformed confessionalists, and how Calvin's view is in line with the view of neocalvinism. Here I elaborate further on this and what we mean in holding to a redemptive view of culture; that a Christian's cultural activities may be done Christianly, in a distinctively Christian way. Cultural Activity It’s important to keep in mind what we mean by “cultural activity.” We understand culture to be the secondary environment of human production within our natural environment. Being made in God’s image, designed to exercise dominion, humanity cannot help but act purposely, labor, and cultivate the creation (including ourselves) in some fashion and to some extent or other. Henry R. Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture (1959; rep., Grand Rapids, 2001), xvii. Our cultivative labor can be understood in terms of various layers. On the surface, as it were, we manifest observable behaviors, some of which we call customs, and we produce material artifacts of all kinds. At a deeper layer we develop communities and institutions for numerous ends, and these often reflect, at a deeper layer still, the numerous values according to which we discern what concrete activities to do and how to go about them. And at a base layer we embrace what may be called worldviews; basic understandings of what the world is and our different purposes within it. And these various layers exist in a dynamic of reciprocal influence. Our technologies and practices effect our beliefs and orientations, and vice versa. G.Linwood Barney, “The Supracultural and the Cultural: Implications for Frontier Missions,” in The Gospel and Frontier Peoples: a report of a consultation, December 1972 , ed. Robert Pierce Beaver (South Pasadena, 1973), 48-55. The activities within all these layers are all cultural activity. Both Christians and non-Christians participate in all these sorts of activities. By them we form the histories of our individual lives and of civilizations alike. We might seem to beg the question if we admit that religion directs culture at the deepest layer. For, this very point, it seems, is at issue in the differences between neocalvinism and neotwokingdomism. While neotwokingdom'ers are sometimes loath to say they affirm the religious neutrality of culture, VanDrunen (for example) has spoken of rejecting “moral neutrality or autonomy,” which is not an identical matter. Finer Distinctions In distinction from the church and its sphere of activity, not only is there a civil or political sphere, but there are also other distinct sorts of common spheres, or kingdoms, if you will. For example, there are media, family, commerce, arts, school, medicine, social clubs, and various mutual aid societies. These are all distinct kinds of activity. [...]

Sanctifying The Common


distinctively Christian cultural activity contra the neotwokingdoms viewThe earlier (or paleo-) "two kingdoms" view held by Reformation thinkers (Lutheran and Calvinist) is, in brief, that God rules people both immediately or directly by His Spirit (in the regenerate), and mediately or indirectly by authority delegated to human offices.  At least among the Reformed (Calvinists) who held this view, it was affirmed that Christians' activities in whatever area of cultural vocation can and should be done in a genuinely Christian manner, for the only alternative would be to do such things in a way at odds with the Christian faith.  This conviction is shared by neocalvinism.The contemporary (or neo-) two kingdoms view of the relationship between Christianity and culture takes the distinction of kingdoms to be between the institutional church (conceived as the holy spiritual kingdom) and the state with all other non-ecclesial societal institutions (conceived as the common civil kingdom).  Creation or the providential order is correlated exclusively with the latter; and Redemption is correlated exclusively with the former.  This position holds that activities in non-ecclesial areas can in no way be holy; a Christian's cultural activity, while good, can never be done in a redemptive or Christian way.Despite a shared commitment to the confessionally Reformed faith and covenantal redemptive-historical hermeneutic of Scripture, there are several significant points of disagreement between neotwokingdomism and neocalvinism regarding the relation of Christianity to culture.  It seems to me that the question of whether a Christian's cultural activity can be properly Christian is at the root of the disagreement.  I'm not interested in defending every view that has gone by the name neocalvinism or that has invoked a quotation of Kuyper for support. And not every so-called "transformationalist" view of culture is neocalvinist.  But it is my hope that fellow confessionally Reformed believers will be persuaded of a genuine neocalvinist position.  Perhaps the following considerations will be helpful.To my knowledge the first expression in print of neotwokingdomism was Michael Horton's 1995 book Where In The World Is The Church? Horton writes:“Because God has created this world and upholds it by His gracious providence, there is no secular activity that is barred from Christians, unless that activity is specifically forbidden by God in Scripture. It does not have to be “Christianized” or “spiritualized.” For instance, we do not need to write Christian philosophy or Christian music, Christian poetry or Christian fiction, although we do need Christian theology, worship, evangelism, and ethics.”(p.70) and“All of life is not sacred, but that which is simply common (ie, “secular”) is nevertheless valuable and honorable because it is part of God's creation. He is as much the Lord of the secular as He is of the sacred. Political activity is not “kingdom work,” but the advance of earthly cities was the original task given to Adam and his posterity in the cultural mandate... These are secular callings that have God's blessing by virtue of creation, not “kingdom activities” that have God's blessing by virtue of redemption.”(p.193)More recently, in his 2010 book Living In God's Two Kingdoms, David VanDrunen writes that he hopes the neotwokingdoms vision will liberate his readers "from well-meaning but nonbiblical pressure... to find uniquely "Christian" ways of doing ordinary tasks" (p.27).  Most interestingly, VanDrunen affirms that Christians "should take up cultural tasks with joy and express their Christian faith through them.... [T]he effects of sin penetrate all aspects of life. Christians must therefore be vigilant in their cultural pursuits, perceiving and rejecting the sinful patterns in cultural life and striving after obedience to God’s will in everything.... Christians should seek to live out the implications of their faith in their daily vo[...]

Lot o' Tens


So it is the tenth of October two-thousand ten, at ten minutes after ten o'clock in the morning.
10/10/10  10:10am

Recovering The Reformed Communion (2)


from Alexander and Rufus: Dialogues on Church Communion by John Anderson (1820)excerpted pp.4-6, 21 and edited by Gregory BausHere is stated in summary what we believe to be the truth according to the Scriptures concerning sacramental communion of the church, often called close communion, taught and practiced by the genuinely Reformed Church.First, the visible communion of Christians in any particular church or local congregation consists in their declared agreement to adhere to one public profession of the Christian religion, and in their joint endeavors to maintain and propagate that profession.Second, this profession is a profession of the whole Christian religion. We cannot warrantably decline the explicit profession of one jot or tittle of it; since the authority of the Divine Testimony, which binds us to receive any part, binds us equally to receive the whole.Third, while the profession of the Christian religion attained by a particular church, as well as her practice, is imperfect; and while much of her profession is rejected by many bearing the Christian name; it is necessary that the articles of her public profession, which are the matter of her communion, be ascertained with precision.Fourth, every person who joins in the public ordinances of a particular church, and especially in the Lord's Supper, declares that he has communion with her in her public profession and acknowledges it to be his own profession. For the public profession that is made in the participation of the public ordinances of Christianity can be only one; that is, the profession of the particular church in which these ordinances are administered.Last, persons cannot reasonably pretend to have communion with a particular church in her public ordinances, and especially in the Lord's Supper, while they openly persist in an obstinate opposition to any article of her profession. Persons may indeed share in that communion who have but a small measure of knowledge, but obstinate opposers to any article can have no communion in it at all.The visible communion of Christians is expressed in Scripture by the holding fast of their profession, one profession only, not many or different professions (Heb 4:14; 10:23), by glorifying God with one mind and one mouth, speaking the same thing, joined together in the same judgment (Rom 15:6, 1Cor 1:10), and serving him with one accord (Zeph 3:9). Their communion among themselves in the exercises of religious worship, and in all the other parts of Christian practice, belongs to the joint maintaining of one profession of the Christian religion.As the agreement of a number of men to unite their efforts for the raising of a weight, or for the working of a ship, may be called a mechanical communion; so the agreement of a number of Christians to adhere to and maintain one profession of the Christian religion is church communion. In the common affairs of life, there can be no rational communion among any number of persons, unless the matter about which they are to have communion be exactly determined. Thus, if it be the raising of a heavy body, it is necessary in order to communion in that work to determine by what means it is to be raised; whether by a lever, for example, or by a pulley, or by an inclined plane.So in order to the communion of persons in a particular church, it is necessary that the articles of the public profession which she has attained and which constitute the matter of her communion, be ascertained by her creed, by her confession, or by her declaration and testimony; and that it should be one important part of the work of her ministers in their public discourses to explain and vindicate that profession. When a church is honest and faithful in the use of these means, it is easy to know what is the matter of her communion. Faithfulness in this respect is one principle mark by which a reforming may be distinguished from a backsliding church.Christians are “to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the sai[...]

Recent Miscellany


Back in January I visited my brother, Jeff, for a week at Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma. I posted their informational video (Ecce Fiat), so you can see a bit about life there. [ and see latest news article about them here ]It was mostly below freezing, I had a cold the entire time, and I was only able to hang out and talk with "Br.Anthony" for about an hour a day.  But it was great to see him in person and get a firsthand sense of his environment and routine.  Here's a decent photo of him; he's sitting far left, face down towards book (as always).I've now added the Epiphany season tune for Te Lucis Ante Terminum to a list of favorites.  If you haven't checked out my & K's foodblog, give it a look.  We really enjoy documenting the cooking experience this way. For our recent entry I meant to have a photo of my taking a bite, but forgot, because the donuts tasted so good. We will probably include restaurant reviews at some point.As of this past November, Owen and Lilly have a new baby brother, Daniel; and I'm an uncle a third time over. Love and thanks go out to my sister and bro-in-law for all their labor.Some time ago, I posted Herman Dooyeweerd's online in-English bibliography.  If you fancy yourself Reformed and academic, and you haven't read any Dooyeweerd, you must.  I recommend beginning with The Secularization of Science.  His most accessible, book-length work is Roots of Western Culture.  In my bib, you'll find a link for the entire original publication of that book in PDF.Four 2009 articles by Roy Clouser are also online.  [ See, too, Glenn Friesen's response to Clouser's essay on Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique ].  And, finally, a book of Robert Knudsen's * writings has been published.  Now, if only WTS would put his lectures online/iTunesU!I was glad to see Robert Godfrey's pro-Kuyper/ian presentations in sessions 1 and 6 at Westminster Seminary California's conference Christ, Kingdom, and Culture.Recently watched the UK independent sci-fi film Moon, and liked it quite a lot.  Hoping that Solomon Kane comes to the US.  I had fun discussing the weaponry with Aaron Larsen.Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all, especially to brother Gary and Irish friends here and there.-- Baus [...]

Bowling For Calvin


Sub-Sabbatarian Myth-Bustingthis essay first appeared in the Nicotine Theological Journal, Summer 2009 (volume 13, number 3)Being a thrifty Calvinist, I couldn't justify the expense of attending the Calvin500 events in Geneva this past July. I wish I could have gone. Among the other things I would liked to have witnessed was the mass of Calvin enthusiasts gathering after Sunday morning worship for a jolly pétanque competition.In reality, I suspect no such Calvin-inspired game of boules actually occurred. But I wonder how many of the Reformed churchmen who may have luxuriated in the cafés or otherwise recreated that Lordsday afternoon during the conference felt reassured of their orthodoxy in calling to mind the common anecdote about Calvin's habit of "lawn-bowling" on the Sabbath (typically to the consternation of Knox --that silly, overwrought zealot).I've probably been told the story more times than I've heard the 4th commandment read in worship. In my experience, even among those who hesitate to labor at their regular employment, or to employ others in servicing them at stores and restaurants on Sundays, many bristle against abstaining from recreations. All I need do is turn down an invitation to watch a film, sport, or to play a game on the Lordsday. Without fail I will be told how we are able to fellowship with others and glorify God by enjoying these activities, and inevitably the godly example of Calvin on the public greens comes into it.The main problem with citing Calvin's Sabbath bowling practice, other than it being used to contravene Presbyterian standards, is that it is entirely unsubstantiated and contradicts Calvin's own stated views on the matter. Over a decade ago, Chris Coldwell (now general editor of the Confessional Presbyterian Journal) researched the legend with some thoroughness. In his essay titled Calvin in the Hands of the Philistines: Or, Did Calvin Bowl on the Sabbath? Coldwell surveys the relevant literature and historical record on the question.An unambiguous conclusion emerges as we are guided back from recent references through prominent sources of preceding centuries to Calvin's own time. Coldwell's essay deserves a read by sabbatarian, sub-sabbatarian, and anti-sabbatarian alike, if only because the story is so persistently popular. I must note, for example, this folklore found its way onto page 342 of R.C. Sproul's Truths We Confess, A Layman's Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Vol. 2 (P&R 2007).Is there a lesson here that we all should more critically assess received wisdom? Or is it that we should be more critical toward criticism of received wisdom? Or maybe the lesson is that formation of either doctrine or piety by anecdote is neither right nor safe. In any case, this is how Coldwell concludes:“Calvin should be afforded the courtesy to speak for himself, and the tendency some have toward using the bowling myth to reinterpret him should be abandoned. While some evidence may be found in future to verify the tale, it seems unlikely. But, until such evidence is found, let us take the Reformer at his word that we should 'dedicate that day wholly unto Him so as we may be utterly withdrawn from the world.' 'If we spend the Lord’s day in making good cheer, and in playing and gaming, is that a good honoring of God? Nay, is it not a mockery, yea and a very unhallowing of his name?' ” -- Baus [...]

Psalm 105: 1-12 / 1 Chronicles 16:8-19 in Common Meter


suggested tune: Tiverton by Joeseph Grigg (c.1765)
Oh thank the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among
the people.  Sing praises to Him. His wonders tell in song.

And boast now in His holy name. Be glad the hearts of you
who seek the LORD; seek Him, His strength, always seek His face too.

Recall to mind again His works of wonder He has done;
Marvels and judgments from His mouth, His chosen, Jacob's sons.

(image) Oh seed of Israel, His servant, He is the LORD our God;
know that His judgments reach to all the places one may trod.

Remember this: His covenant forever --a thousand
generations are subject to that word of His command.

For this He made with Abraham, an oath to Isaac sworn,
a statute to Jacob confirmed, our cov'nant evermore.

Saying, “To you I'll give the Land; as your inheritance,”
when you were small and very few and still strangers in it.
~ metrical version by Gregory Baus, MARCH 2010
[traditional 1650 version here]

Recovering The Reformed Communion


John Anderson (c.1748 - 1830) was born just south of Scotland's border near Tweed (perhaps the River Tweed, or Berwick-upon-Tweed).  He grew up in the "Associate" (1733 Secession) Church of Scotland (cf. Erskines).Licensed and commissioned by the church in Scotland, Anderson arrived in Pennsylvania to assist the development of the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania (which was to form the Associate Synod of North America in 1801). He was ordained in 1788, serving as pastor for various congregations in the Beaver County area.In 1794 Anderson was appointed to be the founding professor of the first Presbyterian seminary in the United States [the third theological seminary overall; the first being a Dutch Reformed seminary in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1784, and the second being a Roman Catholic seminary in Baltimore, Maryland in 1791].  This Presbyterian seminary eventually became what is today known as Pittsburgh Theological.Anderson was said to be only 5 feet tall with a poor voice for public speaking, but he was a godly, powerful intellect and influential church leader.  He served as pastor and professor until 1819, retiring for poor health. Anderson's tremendous work, Alexander and Rufus: Dialogues on Church Communion, was first published in 1820.Part One (initial 200 pages or so) of this book ably articulates the old school, confessionally reformed & presbyterian doctrine of "close communion."  This biblical doctrine is contrasted with the contemporary, latitudinarian teaching which holds"that there may be several articles in the public profession of a particular church, which, however clearly founded on the Holy Scriptures, are not essential or necessary to salvation, and therefore ought not to be terms of church communion. 'The obviously vital doctrines of the gospel,' say they, 'which whoever renounces cannot be a Christian, are a sufficient basis of sacramental communion.' This scheme... has too long prevailed in the protestant churches, and deprived them, in so great a measure, of their purity and true glory."(from the author's Preface)Alexander and Rufus is available online at googlebooks and internet archive in its two editions. It is also copy-reprinted in its original 1820 version by Kessinger Publishing [here, amazon]; and copy-reprinted in its 1862 version by Still Water Revival Books [here and here].What Anderson writes in this book can help the reformed churches realize that "while corruption is the native consequence of latitudinarian schemes, scriptural order in sacramental communion tends to make the visible church a heaven upon earth to the faithful, terrible as an army with banners to her enemies, and to her King and Head for a name, for a praise and for glory."  This is the way forward for churches wanting to reform and to be reformed according to the Word of God; the way to recover the Reformed confession and communion.An essay by Anderson addressing the same topic, Of the Church's Toleration of Any Thing Sinful (1780) is also now available online. also see PART 2-- Baus [...]

End Of The Zeros


Before the year ends, I thought I should leave a new entry.

This will also serve to test whether blogger comments are now operative, since haloscan is done.

Year of our Lord two-thousand ten holds out the promise for new things, including more frequent content here.

All the best to you, dear reader.



The Past Half YearLet me catch you up. 2009 started out with a party (at 2640 & the Windup), as my lifelong friend, Keenan, was married. Friends and family are all happy that Rebecca is his wife. The bestman's toast I gave went something like this: I've heard it said there are two kinds of love: the love of delight and the love of goodwill. We find each other delightful, but when that delight wanes we are resolved to continue behaving in the other's best interest. And marriage, among other things, is a sworn commitment to that effect, to will the other's good, even when there's less to delight in. We love Keenan and Rebecca, and we wish them the best. So here's to their mutual delight & goodwill, and a future of more joy than sorrow, more health than sickness, more plenty than want, more 'better' than 'worse'.photo creditSlightly didactic, but concise --don't you think? I reproduce it here because I gave it a lot of thought, and by the time the bubbly was swallowed it is likely my composition was utterly forgotten by everyone.Later in January my brother Jeffrey entered Clear Creek Monastery, near Tulsa, Oklahoma. This was a grievous occasion. Besides the fact that, being an old school Reformed Confessionalist, I believe Romanist doctrine and Monastic-ascetic piety are contrary to the gospel... besides all that, it's hard to lose contact with the person closest to me. From my vantage point, it's very similar to him serving a life sentence in prison. We write letters and I can visit him for a few hours once a year or so. But the shared experience of life is now over. I wasn't ready for that.If you're a friend of Jeff, you can write him too:Br. Anthony BausClear Creek Monastery5804 West Monastery RoadHulbert OK 74441-5698February offered some cheer. My librarian and I enjoyed a Valentinesday local café tour, including the Choc-O'-Latte in Millerstown and the Espresso Yourself in Newport. We had a good time at the combination Hunting Shop & Family Restaurant in Thompsontown, the name of which escapes me somehow. Middle Pennsylvania was made for day-tripping.In March I attended a regional ETS conference, where James Skillen spoke about political responsibilities and social justice. The part that most stands out in my mind is when he implied that all a state's coercive actions must be legitimized by satisfying something like the criteria for Just War. This seems right to me, and the interesting thing about it is that such a view can hardly be squared with the idea that civil government has responsibility for "administrating" a broad 'public' sector. (This latter idea is already refuted on the basis of a properly conceived notion of societal sphere sovereignty, of course).Perhaps Gideon Strauss will be in a position to take the CPJ in a new direction as its new President. One can only hope that he might read and be persuaded by the New York Time's Bestseller Meltdown by Tom Woods. Here's Woods on C-SPAN BookTV.In other news, Darryl Hart, paradoxical Luddite that he is, now blogs at enjoyed my 36th birthday in early May with dinner at Brasserie Louis (a fancy restaurant in Lewisburg) and a meditative stroll through Shamokin Cemetery (an exquisite graveyard on a sweeping hill, lying above a Tim Burton-esque coal mining town).I'm leaving out a mention of an early Spring traffic citation incident. I have nothing redeeming to say about it, although I am certain that even suffering under tyranny is effectual unto my salvation.G.K. Beale was recently hired by Westminster Philly. Listen to his lecture on Christology and Scriptural inerrancy here. View a video interview with Beale here.And John Fesko was recently hired by Westminster California. Listen to an interview with him by the Reformed Forum on justification here.-- Baus [...]



25 Revelationsvarious things about my life and self1. While riding a moped I was once hit by a car driven by a handicapped guy who had become paraplegic by being hit by a car while he was riding a moped.2. As a kid I was strongly suspicious that I was adopted and had latent superpowers yet to manifest.3. Regrettably, I still cannot read music.4. I'm dating a librarian.5. In late high school I often skipped classes to read philosophy in a file closet.6. I once waterskied in the South China Sea off the east coast of Malaysia.7. I strongly dislike in-house pets, watching or discussing sports, celebrity news, and hip-hop culture. I somewhat dislike pineapple on pizza.8. My body weight has been consistent most of my adult life, except one year when I inexplicably gained 30 lbs and lost it the next year.9. I first ate pimento cheese on a sweetbread sandwich in a county jail when I was 19.10. The commute from my house to church is about an hour and a half.11. As a Calvinist, I don't celebrate Christmas or any religious holidays except for the weekly Lordsday sabbath.12. I have two younger brothers; one is a Benedictine monk in Oklahoma, the other is a jazz musician in Ireland.13. As an adult (past 17 years) I've never had health insurance, I've never made more than 12k a year, and I've never taken government welfare.14. During 2008 I became an anarchist (or an "anti- coercive monopoly, pro- polycentric public law order'ist," to be more specific).15. Recently, one of my favorite authors is Frank Key.16. I remember the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution and Iranian hostage crisis.17. I'm working at a bank.18. I admire mid-19th century facial hair styles, particularly walrusy mustaches.19. I sued my high school.20. When I first heard about the burning of the ancient Alexandrian library, I cried.21. As a kid I had two uncles named Bob who both lived in Alaska.22. I recently bought 100 one-ounce silver bullion coins in anticipation of eventual hyperinflation and destruction of the US dollar.23. I have no excuse for not yet having a concealed carry permit.24. The room temperature is usually lower than I'd prefer.25. If you consider yourself a Reformed Christian or a Calvinist, I really want you to read Recovering the Reformed Confession by R.Scott Clark.This meme was going around facebook, and I've been meaning to do something like this for a while. Just for kicks, leave a comment and tell me how many of these facts you knew (or didn't).-- Baus [...]



Dooyeweerd's New Critique Online

(image) Thanks to the tireless efforts of K.J. Hollingsworth (and perhaps others at the Reformational Publishing Project & Paideia Books), A New Critique Of Theoretical Thought (3 vols) by Herman Dooyeweerd is no longer restricted to near-impossible to find, long out-of-print used editions, nor to insanely over-priced reprints.

Dooyeweerd's seminal 1953 work New Critique is now online in pdf.
Here are the first and second volumes, respectively entitled The Necessary Presuppositions of Philosophy and The General Theory of Modal Spheres.
Here is the third volume, entitled The Structures of Individuality of Temporal Reality, with the extensive index 'fourth' volume.

A New Critique is an English language translation and revision of Dooyeweerd's original (Dutch language) 1935 work entitled
De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee (roughly, "philosophy of the law-idea" or cosmonomic philosophy). This original work is available online here, and can be accessed in pdf from The Association for Reformational Philosophy here.

Paul Robinson is developing a study guide for New Critique here.
Glenn Friesen offers some English notes on WdW here.

Dooyeweerd's work is a model for my own approach to Christian scholarship. Hopefully, Reformed/Calvinistic scholars in the English-speaking world will become increasingly familiar with his ideas, because they offer the most faithful and fruitful understanding for a distinctly Christian view of philosophy and all academic disciplines, or sciences.



One Among Ten Thousand

(image) Extended quotations are always good for getting back in the groove of writing. The following is (as always) for those with ears to hear. Anyone?
" George Knight observes [as noted by Tim Keller] that the practice of the American Presbyterian church has 'always' been to distinguish between 'what was required in a confession of faith... for salvation and church membership and what was required in a confession of faith' for ordination to special ecclesiastical office. As a matter of history this seems to be the case in modern times, but it is also true that it has not always been the case. It is not obvious that establishing two levels of subscription, one for laity and another for ordained officers, is either biblical or consistent with the Reformation. From where in Scripture [or the Confessional documents] would one deduce that God expects one level of subscription for officers and another for laity? Certainly it is possible for one to be a Christian without affirming every proposition in the Reformed confession, but that is beside the point. On that rationale, why should we bother establishing Reformed congregations at all? If the Reformed confession defines what it is to be Reformed, then establishing two distinct relations to the same constitutional document would seem to be a recipe for confusion and effectively two churches within one.

...From 1647 to the beginning of the ambiguity in the American Presbyterian church in 1729 [and arguably even beyond that, into the 1890s in many congregations and presbyteries], the Westminster Confession was subscribed 'because' it is biblical [as opposed to only affirmed 'in so far as' it may be biblical]... in the European [continental] Reformed tradition, ministers and members alike have been expected to subscribe the confessions in the same way... Why should a church [hypocritically] adopt a 'confession' that some or even most of the church believes to be at least partly unbiblical?
From R.Scott Clark's Recovering the Reformed Confession: our theology, piety, and practice; pages 179-180.



Last Night Of The Fair*

(image) I'm seriously bummed out that Postum is gone. Alas, I drank the last of my own stash a week ago. So, I'll have to look around for this reputedly superb Polish substitute called Inka (45% Roasted Barley, 27% Rye, 25% Chicory, and 3% Beet Roots).

This month I'm taking some dance lessons with my friend Tara. Yes, really. Foxtrot and waltz. Don't expect any videos.

Hoping to catch the fair this week and explore more local cuisine and customs.

Heard this song mentioning Baltimore tonight (you can listen), it's kind of a love&driving-themed song. I'm feeling a little nostalgic for the hometown.



Last Hurrah Of Summer

(image) So, it's been a while. Here's some occurrences since July and recent thoughts.

Went camping with friend Rick. We were looking for a genuinely secluded, rustic woodsy area. It turned out alright. The weather was great, and the forests and surrounding farms and small towns were ideal. Had it only lasted longer.

Visited friends down in Vienna/Fairfax, VA. I think the highlight was the Amphora, 29 Diner, grocery trip to H-mart.

I've really been digging Christ the Center podcast at the 'Reformed Forum' (formerly called "Castle Church").

Been reading A.W. Pink's work on monergistic sanctification. The last two chapters are phenomenal.

Heroes, third season got off to a good start. They managed to work in one of my favorite poems ever.

Constitution Day has come and gone. Speaking of which, I'm planning on buying silver before the dollar crashes. See for help, and take a cue from Ron Paul by voting for Chuck Baldwin in November. Consider the vote pact if you were planning to vote for a "lesser" evil.



We'll Meet Again

(image) My friend and former professor, Theo Plantinga, died last week. I suspected this had happened when I noticed in the site data that someone had come to my blog by searching for his name and "obituary". He was only 61, but had prostate cancer.

I am most grateful to Theo for his frequent warmth and kindness to me, and his intellectual and moral support in my philosophical studies. He had a terribly rare kind of good humor and lack of pretense that was nevertheless full of conviction and socially refined. He was broadly and well read, and his breadth of life experience, and depth of reflection will always stand as an inspiration for me. When I was living in Amsterdam for grad school, his correspondence was a real comfort and help.

I first met Theo as my adviser in my single year at Redeemer University College in Hamilton, Ontario where I finished up my BA in philosophy in 2002-2003. I thoroughly enjoyed his courses in Asian and Aesthetic philosophy. I was happy to attend his wedding (he was a widower and married again), and help him move some things to a new place. We would often discuss ethical issues and the church.

(image) More than once we also commiserated about institutional "officialdom," as he called it. In his last few years especially, Theo was treated shamefully by certain administrators at the college. He deserved better than that, and was an example of Christian charity and principle to the end.

I feel I had much more to learn from him. His development of the CPRT index, the "reading room" and a reformational movement history were particularly promising. Steve Bishop has more of Theodore Plantinga's writings linked here and here. David Koyzis has the public announcement here.



Experiment, part 8

(image) I watched the fireworks from the diner window. The waitress told us they were from the neighboring town's country club. I hadn't known there was a country club, or that you could see the fireworks from the diner, but it turned out quite nicely.

This American Independence Day I want to offer you several readings. First, in case you missed it, check out this little manifesto.

And in keeping with the above, here are two reviews of a slightly larger and more recent manifesto: 1, 2. Highly recommended.

And since Ron Paul is out of the presidential running, we will be voting for one of his supporters. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's true: you do not have to choose between evils (or between baddest and worser, if you're squeamish about calling spades). You can hold your head up and vote with a clear conscience for Chuck Baldwin. You even have a second option (after Baldwin) for a conscientious vote, but the philosophy of the Constitution Party is preferable.

This is a campaign worth joining too.



Experiment, part 7
now updated with photo and annotation in last paragraphs

(image) I stained a little more of the deck with a friend, but it began to rain. So we cleaned the house instead and had a late lunch. If you can do your chores with a friend, I highly recommend it.

As I've largely cut my own hair for the past 17 years, I'm thinking about going to a real barber to get my hair cut. I'll let you know what comes of this wild idea.

This evening was spent in conversation. Sometimes these evening-long conversations are like debates, sometimes they are like dances, sometimes they are like dadaist literature, and sometimes they are like diplomatic missions. Tonight I have no confidence that anything I said was taken seriously, and am almost sure my pleas will be forgotten. I really have mixed feelings about it, but the feeling of disgust is prominent... or maybe it's resignation.

Tonight I stopped by my parents' to exchange cars with them because I have a wagon and they needed to transport some stuff. Anyway, as I approach the door my mind is deeply occupied by profound sundries... I lift the key to the lock, and out of the bottom corner of my vision a mass of shining black skirts to the left. I gaze down, and in a single moment a rush of adrenalin floods me as I stumble backwards into the rocking chair on the porch. I completely lose my breath; I mean it has utterly gone out of me from shock. Finally my higher brain functions kick back in and I realize I am face to face (or toe to face) with a (four foot?) black rat snake.

For a while neither of us move as I regain my composure and decide that since I almost stepped on him, and he surely saw me coming, if he was going to strike then it would be done already. So I take a few steps and unlock the door and go in. I grab my parents' camera and go out the side of the house and around and snap a few photos. Then I find some info on Pantherophis obsoletus. Wikipedia still has him mis-taxonomied as a sub-species of Elaphe obsoleta.



Experiment, part 6

(image) I had a hard time falling asleep last night. Which reminds me: did you hear the one about the agnostic dyslexic insomniac? He would lay awake all night wondering if there really was a dog. Eh-hem. Yeah so, this morning I hit the 15 minute snooze about 8 times. For you math wizzes, that's 2 hours of unproductive half-sleeping. I'll never do it again. Thanks for hearing my confession.

A friend's car broke down, so I drove out to the parents' and borrowed Dad's car battery recharger. Alas, it looks like an alternator problem. This evening consisted of two very long conversations and shrimp&veggie kabobs minus the kabobs.

Spend some time with this one. Scroll down for audio links.



Experiment, part 5

(image) I met up with some friends to see (yet another) flick. It's just that time of year. I can't decide at this point if it dealt with profound issues in any depth, or just referred to them somewhat less than superficially. I'll get back to you on that (not a promise) after more reflection.

I had a coffee "Italian ice" drink which amounted to a regular blended ice coffee drink as far as I could tell. I worried about how much high fructose corn syrup it contained between small bursts of brain (and belly) freeze.

I read about Obama's (apparently reversed, now 'pro') position on "faith-based initiatives," and at some point (not a promise) I'll have to explain why the whole idea is a horrible one no matter how you slice it, despite the fact that it is nearly the only present-day federal policy in the U.S. significantly influenced by certain neocalvinists. I really have an axe to grind about this. Can't you wait?

In any case, speaking of celluloid... Were you aware that I and this blog were mentioned in an American Dialect Society listserve message* about the use of the phrase "honest to blog" in the film Juno? Hilarious!

*For the historical record, I first conceived of the title in December of 2002 and thought I was being superbly clever and original. Although little exploited so far, I thought of the title "honest to pod," just after I discovered podcasting in January 2006.



Experiment, part 4

(image) I bought some sausages and green salsa. Outside the grocery I saw a massive moth, the size of a bird. It gave me chills.

This evening I appreciated reading Lane Tipton's article on the Reformed "incarnational" analogy to Scriptural inspiration. He does not mention it, but no doubt he is responding to misconceptions promoted by Peter Enns' book Inspiration & Incarnation. Lane writes that any such "analogy we suggest will need to be clearly articulated, carefully qualified, and presented in a way that avoids ambiguity and misunderstanding... [such a concept must not] be introduced or applied in a popular or loose way." By 'popular' I take it he means something like 'simplification yielding imprecision yielding distortion or error.' In any case, Art Boulet has a list of debates provoked by Enns' book.

I suppose all this is not properly mundane in the sense I intended. So the experiment somewhat fails for today (and maybe yesterday too), minus the talk about rain, food and moths. But the idea is to post an entry every day (for some undetermined number of days) even if there's nothing besides "everyday" stuff to mention. Possible future topics include grooming, frogs, smoking, and sleep.



Experiment, part 3

(image) I witnessed baptism in the service this morning. Inevitably the doctrine of "improving" baptism in Westminster Larger Catechism #167 came to mind:
[We must draw the benefits from our baptisms] "all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body."
In the afternoon I enjoyed the company of my niece and nephew. After intermittent rain we noticed what seemed a tremendously wide rainbow on the eastern horizon.

Just for kicks: good song.



Experiment, part 2

(image) I went to a group picnic at a nature reserve. From the exit where I had to follow directions, the park was only 10 minutes away, but the directions were wrong and I drove around for almost an hour in a big circle. By the time I arrived everyone had eaten, and I was feeling that special kind of angry that accompanies bad directions, getting lost, and missing meal time.

I ate two hot dogs and tried to calm down and played some volleyball and watched kids smash a piñata. Then I followed some friends back to their house and lounged and chatted until we went bowling. Between two entire frames of gutter balls, I got a strike on a "red pin" and won a free game... so I wasn't too frustrated by my otherwise un-zen performance.

One of my plans for this summer was to learn (start learning) how to read music so I can sightread and sing parts. Note to self: get old piano books from parents.

Why isn't honeysuckle a flavor or scent in flavored and scented products, I wonder.



An Experiment In The Mundane, part 1

(image) I met up with some friends to see a flick. It was funny and entertaining. Then we stopped by a drive-in burger joint because I was in the mood. But I didn't have any cash and they were cash only, so a friend spotted me. It was all tasty. Also had a taste of mint chocolate chip ice cream, the green kind with the flat square-ish chips. Made me remember great-uncle Buddy as it always does.

I've noticed my clothes, though just washed, have a somewhat sour mildewy smell. I must have left them in the washer too long before drying. Or maybe buying that ultra-cheap detergent wasn't a good idea. On the way home I went to the 24-hour market and got some higher quality stuff and am re-washing everything.

I came across this article on the moral theology of William Ames. No opinion on it yet.

The may flies and lightning bugs are out in droves.



Of Spheres And SuchOn Tuesday, I voted for Ron Paul in the Pennsylvania Republican primary. Find out why I did, at http://knowbeforeyouvote.comIt was my first time ever voting for a GOP candidate, and while I intend to vote for Ron Paul in the main election, I'm going to return my registration to the Constitution Party.This past week I was substitute teaching first grade (yes, really) at the local Christian school. Sure enough I caught a cold. But the regular teacher is out recovering from surgery, so I'm praying for strength to persevere another week.Speaking of education, I enjoyed the Kuyper Center conference on Civil Society and Sphere Sovereignty at Princeton Theological Seminary. I think my presentation went well (read it here). You can view the video below. Part 1 is about 35 minutes, and the Q&A starts at about 29 minutes. Part 2 is the remainder, about 8 minutes. Thanks to Brian Dijkema, Jonathan Chaplin, Russ Kuykendall, and others for the good questions. I may revise and expand the paper for submission to the Kuyper Center Review. Thanks to my friend Scott Graybill for driving out to the conference with me, and buying the most expensive brunch I've ever eaten.We couldn't have asked for better weather, and Princeton was in full Spring bloom. Here I am at the sepulcher of Archibald Alexander. We searched for the grave of Jonathan Edwards, but somehow couldn't find it. Alas.Before heading home, we saw Ben Stein's documentary Expelled. I believe in academic freedom, so I liked the film and its main point. It makes me wonder if Stein would enjoy reading The Myth of Religious Neutrality. Anyway, it's sad and hilarious to see the dogmatic natural positivists going ape.-- Baus [...]