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Patricia-Ward-main

I know around Halloween there is always debate among Christians about whether or not Christians should participate.

I’m not entering the foray and pick up on the origin of Halloween, etc.  I want to focus narrowly more on how the way some people dress up and decorate for Halloween is something that celebrate the grotesque and unusual violence that alone is enough for me not wanting to do anything with it or tolerate that it’s okay for one time a year.

Let me begin by saying that my revulsion towards Halloween has nothing to do with being “sheltered.”  I think I’ve seen more dead bodies, horrible wounds and other terrible physical suffering than most, or at least most people my age, having been a Marine veteran.  Actually, I think it is actually seeing the morbid ways people get killed that drives me to find Halloween’s morbid decorations and costumes repulsive.

The question in the back of my mind is this: “What is the reality that some of the morbid decoration depict?  What is it that some people spend so much time and energy trying to depict as real as possible, that is somehow entertaining?”

A couple of days ago in Fox News there was a news piece that caught my attention titled, “Professor beheaded in what witnesses first thought was Halloween prank

Here’s an excerpt to the story:

A man with a history of psychiatric problems beheaded his mother in her Long Island, N.Y., apartment late Tuesday and then dragged the body and head out onto a street, where onlookers initially thought they were witnessing a macabre Halloween prank, police and witnesses said.

Patricia Ward, 66, was killed inside her apartment by her son, 35-year-old Derek Ward, who jumped in front of a commuter train near the Farmingdale, N.Y., home moments later, killing himself, Nassau County police said.

The story goes on to say

Witnesses told the New York Post they saw Derek Ward drag his mother’s body out of the building and onto the street, where he kicked her head some 20 feet before going to a nearby railroad track and jumping in front of an eastbound Long Island Railroad train approximately 25 minutes later. Police said his body was found about a mile from the apartment, where the two had moved recently from the neighboring county.

On the street in front of the apartment, witnesses described a gruesome scene first thought to be part of a prank.

“There was blood all over the floor,” neighbor Nick Gordon told the Post. “You can see smears going down the stairs … as if somebody were pulling a body.”

Witnesses told the Post that some of the woman’s neighbors initially thought the headless body in the street was a Halloween prank, only to discover the body was real after attempting to lift it.

Witness Jack Imperial, 41, of Queens, was taking a taxi to a meeting when he came across the grisly scene, he told the New York Daily News.

“The body’s feet were at the curb, the shoulders were at the middle of the street. The head was across the street,” Imperial told the newspaper. “I’ve seen some gruesome stuff in my years of living … but nothing like this. I didn’t expect to see something like this, especially not out here.”

A night dispatcher at Yellow Cab in Farmingdale, blocks from where the woman’s was found, told Newsday drivers also “thought it was a Halloween prank.”

“At first, everyone thought it was like a Halloween prank,” neighbor Barbara Smalls told The Associated Press, recalling Wednesday morning how she had seen the sheet-covered body. She also “thought maybe it was a mob hit or something.”

Note how much emphasis there is by witnesses that looks like a Halloween prank.  Halloween decor has gotten so realistic, one might be incline to see a real violent crime scene as something not real.

Imagine if people didn’t realize the crime scene was real: they would have walked away smiling and enjoying the “view.”  It is “entertaining.”

But upon realizing it’s real how do people react?

Grossed out.  Disgusted.  Surprised.  Shock.  Horror.  And for some, they use words like “I am traumatized.”

Should we be entertained by audio and visual stimuli that celebrate the violent violation of humanity as made in the image of God?

CarlTrueman

Earlier this month Westminister Theological Seminary has made available for free online on ITunes University their historical theology lecture series on the Reformation.  It is taught by Dr. Carl Trueman.  I am half way through the series and it is pretty good!

Dr. Trueman is a capable scholar and also one who teaches history in a way that is not boring.  He’s conversant with the material at hand, insightful and funny.

One of the things I really got out of the series thus far is the further appreciation for the historical context in which the Reformation took place.  I thought Trueman was also insightful in his observation that Martin Luther was really a Medieval man even as the age of modernity and the Reformation was dawning with Luther as the leader.

You can access the lectures on Itunes by clicking here: The Reformation

Or if you want to access it as an RSS feed click here: RSS

southern seminary

A doctrine of Scripture that has been under-utilized in apologetics has been the historic belief in the self-attestation of Scripture.  There is a Doctoral Dissertation on the topic: “The Self-Attestation of Scripture as the Proper Ground for Systematic Theology” by Matthew Scott Wireman.  Dr. Wiseman completed this thesis in 2012 through Southern Seminary, best known with its president Al Mohler.

Southern Seminary and Dr. Wireman has made the dissertation available as a PDF.  You can download it by clicking HERE.

Here is the description of the dissertation broken down by chapters:

This dissertation examines the Protestant doctrine of Scripture’s self-witness of divine authority. Chapter 1 examines the current evangelical milieu. The doctrine has become nearly obsolete in the discussion of systematic theology. Consequentially, wherein lies authority has been greatly misunderstood in Protestant circles.

Chapter 2 surveys the doctrine through the history of the church. Particular note is made of Augustine, John Calvin, John Owen, and Herman Bavinck. This chapter evinces the near consensus of the church that the authority for the Church is found preeminently in the Scriptures.

Chapter 3 summarizes post-conservative, Stanley J. Grenz and John R. Franke, attempts to ground theology in Scripture plus culture and tradition. This chapter does not offer a critique as much as it aims to represent post-conservatives in their own words.

Chapter 4 looks at how the Old Testament viewed itself–particularly through the ministries of Moses and the prophets. YHWH chose representatives who would speak to the covenant community and write down the stipulations and history of YHWH’s relationship with Israel for posterity.

Chapter 5 looks at the New Testament, which follows the paradigm instituted by the Old Testament. In the person and work of Jesus Christ, God’s promises find their fulfillment, which foments his commissioning of the Twelve Apostles to be his spokesmen.

Chapter 6 ties together the threads that cohere in the two testaments of Scripture. It makes explicit the claims of Scripture that God is a se, he communicates with his creation, he uses spokesmen, and his written Word is its own witness for its authority.

Chapter 7 defines the doctrine of Scripture’s self-witness and applies it to tradition, culture, and the task of apologetics. The chapter explicates the thesis of the dissertation that Scripture’s self-witness must be the ground of systematic theology.

unplanned abby johnson

Purchase: Amazon

This book is an emotional read.  Abby Johnson tells her story of her work with abortion provider Planned Parenthood and how she crossed the “fence” (a motif and a theme that runs throughout the book) to the Pro-life side.  It is a moving story and it is quite personal.  What is unusual about her story from others who abandon the pro-abortion side is that Abby Johnson was a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic.  Readers will appreciate the first half of the book in which Abby describe how she came to work for Planned Parenthood and also the mindset of some of those who work for the abortion industry.  In the beginning of the book Abby makes it clear that she does not want to caricature or misrepresent any side and I think you get the sense in the book that she is genuine about that.  She is honest in her description of herself and some in the pro-abortion side are very sincere in wanting to help women.  What touched me reading this book is that it is a story that is about God’s work in her heart—and bringing her to see her sins.  I was also deeply moved reading the book with her account of interacting with pro-lifers outside her clinic who were gentle, respectful and winsome.  However being gentle and respectful does not mean one is not passionate or driven by conviction—it’s a case of both/and, not “and/or.”  She describe how convicting it was to see people passionately committed to pray outside the clinics and how uncomfortable it was for her to see pro-lifers who genuinely care for her—and the women who came to her clinic.  In some sense, her account validated to me the need for our pro-life effort to reach out to the workers also in a Christ like manner.  I don’t want to make out the book as all sweet—certainly there is the darker side of things that Abby Johnson also discussed in the book—the reality hitting her when she saw the ultrasound of an abortion for the very first time and being unable to deny what abortion really is anymore; then there is the reality that she had to face with those in leadership above her in Planned Parenthood who was pushing for more abortion and riskier abortion in order to meet the financial “bottom line.”  There is also the account of Planned Parenthood’s attempt to go after her legally and how frightening that was for Abby, especially with the lies and betrayal of those whom she thought was her friends and colleague.  This is the story of God’s work in freeing a woman from her own hidden sins of abortions—and how God forgave her.  I think this book is worth reading no matter where you land on this hot politic topic.  For those who are pro-abortion, I think you can see the perspective of someone who changed their minds and why.  For those who are already pro-life, you get a good perspective of someone who had an abortion and also involved with the industry.  For readers who are pro-life and have not been involved in the cause, this story should move you.  For those who are involved or who were involved with the prolife cause, this book will encourage you much.  I will be honest—I cried going this book because so many of the accounts she gave would be things those involved with the prolife cause see.  I totally recommend this book.

lazy lazy

In writing this post, I am in no way attacking Pastors and Seminarians who worked very hard.   I know and have been shaped by men in the ministry and men in Seminary who are incredibly hard working.  But I write this to address the lazy ones.  Especially the ones who get money from churches.  This is for you.

The Apostle Paul’s teaching in the Epistles have somethings to say that is antithetical to the lazy Pastor and Seminarians:

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” (Colossians 3:23)

“It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” (2 Timothy 2:6)

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,[c] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8)

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)

(Note: All verses are from the English Standard Version)

Some of those exhortation are for believers in general but some of them are from the Pastoral Epistles.  In all cases they should have some bearing on the men who are in ministry and those who are in Seminary.

Just so you know: I can’t stand lazy pastors and lazy Seminarians.  

No one respect a lazy cop or firefighter.  Churches that tolerate such nonsense reveal how little they value the Gospel.  Ministry is not a pity case of charity for a religious weirdo.  I would rather be a janitor for the rest of my life and do free full time ministry and die young from being overworked rather than allow God’s name to be slandered when people think ministry is a swindling operation for the lazy whose only calling in life is a calling to do nothing during the week.

Note: For the next few weeks on Sunday we will feature a review of books outside of theology, philosophy and apologetics.  Each review of a non-Christian book will also have a section titled, “What’s in it for the Christian?”

Armed and Dangerous

 

Purchase: Amazon

The author William Queen is a retired decorated agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) who is best known for going undercover and taking on the Mongols in the San Fernando Valley.  In this book he tells us a story of dealing with another criminal before his days of taking on the Mongols.  Back in 1985 Queen was dealing with a case of trying to apprehend a criminal name Mark Stephens who sold marijuana to local dealers and also terrorized the San Bernardino community.  Queen first heard of Stephens from his contacts with local law enforcement agency.  Whenever Queen asked them who was their toughest criminal in the neighborhood the name was always the same: Mark Stephens.  What made it difficult for the police to apprehend Stephens was that he hid himself in a difficult part of the San Bernardino Mountains and his coming and going into town was spontaneous and highly unpredictable.  Stephens was also a dangerous man who is armed with machine guns and homemade grenades.  The more Stephens terrorized the community the more obsessed Queen became with apprehending Stephens.  Along the way Queen also had to deal with other non-related cases that is typical of ATF field agents.  The book tells the story of a man who is dedicated in his job of going after criminals.  He is no paper pusher and loves the job of undercover work and kicking down door.  As the book progresses you also learn more of Queen’s own life—how he was a Vietnam War Veteran of the Special Forces, how he bucks his superiors but also know where he crossed the line and the mutual respect of his fellow agents for each other.  The book is exciting and funny and makes for a good leisure reading.

 

What’s in it for the Christian: The author’s sense of justice is a great example for everyone.  There is a moral right—and a moral wrong.  William Queen is a sheep dog who has the high sense of duty of protecting the innocent from getting hurt—which is the motivation for why he wants to get his suspect before he hurt someone again.  As Romans 13 teaches us, we must honor those who are God’s agent of order in the government and we can read this book to honor and appreciate those in law enforcement.  The author’s courage is also a great virtue that Christians should seek to cultivate—and courage is one of those virtues that is best picked up from the examples of others.  Readers must be warned that this book has strong language.

Something lighthearted for this Saturday’s post.

Herman New Tricks

 

On Veritas Domain’s facebook page we have an album of memes dedicated to Hermeneutics.  You can check it out by clicking here.

If you haven’t done so already, you should like our page for more memes uploaded in the future and also other updates on your Facebook feed!

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