March 2015 has been a busy month on our blog. On the last day of the month I thought I share with you guys the top four post from this month:
Archive for March, 2015
For part one, please see: Charles Spurgeon’s Thoughts on Open-Air Preaching: “A Sketch of its History”
In our last post, we covered a brief sketch on open-air preaching’s history from Spurgeon’s analysis. In this second post, we will gleaning off from Spurgeon’s analysis on open-air preaching from more of a logistic’s end. Here in this section, Spurgeon not only gives reasons, but explains how to best wisely conduct open-air preaching so it may be profitable.
- “I fear that in some of our less enlightened country churches there are conservative individuals who almost believe that to preach anywhere except in the chapel would be a shocking innovation, a sure token of heretical tendencies, and a mark of zeal without knowledge” (Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, “Open Air Preaching–Remarks Thereon, “76).
- “No sort of defence is needed for preaching out of doors; but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meeting-house. A defence is required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of them. Apologies are certainly wanted for architects who pile up brick and stone into the skies when there is so much need for preaching rooms among poor sinners down below. Defence is greatly needed for forests of stone pillars, which prevent the preacher’s being seen and his voice from being heard; for high-pitched Gothic roofs in which all sound is lost, and men are killed by being compelled to shout till they burst their bloodvessels; and also for the wilful creation of echoes by exposing hard, sound-refracting surfaces to satisfy the demands of art, to the total overlooking of the comfort of both audience and speaker” (77).
- “The great benefit of open-air preaching is that we get so many new comers to hear the gospel who otherwise would never hear it” (78).
- “Go ye into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in,’–albeit it constitutes part of a parable, is worthy to be taken very literally, and in so doing its meaning will be best carried out. We ought actually to go into the streets and lanes and highways, for there are lurkers in the hedges, tramps on the highway, street-walkers, and lane-haunters, whom we shall never reach unless we pursue them into their own domains” (78).
- “Such people hate the very sight of our churches and meeting houses, but will stand in a crowd to hear what is said, and are often most impressed when they affect the greatest contempt” (79).
- “I am quite sure, too, that if we could persuade our friends in the country to come out to a good many times in the year and hold a service in a meadow, or in a shady grove, or on the hill side, or in a garden, or on a common, it would be all the better for the usual hearers” (80).
- “London never notices the ceaseless grind of the traffic; so do many members of our congregations become insensible to the most earnest addresses, and accept them as a matter of course. Then preaching and the rest of it get to be so usual that they might as well not be at all. Hence a change of place might be useful, it might prevent monotony, shake up indifference, suggest thought, and in a thousand ways promote attention, and give new hope of doing good” (81).
- “I am glad to see tents used in London, for the very worst place is better than none, and because they can easily be moved from place to place, and are not very expensive; but still, if I had my choice between having nothing at all and having a tent, I should prefer the open air by far” (81).
- “If you are going to preach in the open air in the country, you will perhaps have your choice of a spot wherein to preach; if not, of course you must have what you can get, and you must in faith accept it as the very best” (82).
- “It is well to preach before your regular services on a spot near your place of worship, so as to march the crowd right into the building before they know what they are about” (82).
- “Amphitheaters and hillsides are always favourite spots with preachers in the fields, and their advantages will be at once evident to you” (83).
- “Do not try to preach against the wind, for it is an idle attempt” (85).
- “One of the earliest things that a minister should do when he leaves College and settles in a country town or village is to begin open air speaking” (86).
- “In London, or any other large town, it is a great thing to find a vacant spot where you can obtain a right to hold services at your pleasure” (86).
- “Get the people to listen outside that they may by-and-by worship inside. You want no pulpit, a chair will do, or by the kerb of the road. The less formality the better, and if you begin by merely talking to the two or three around you and make no pretence of sermonizing you will do well. More good may be done by personal talk to one than by a rhetorical address to fifty” (87).
- “I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother’s being locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also” (88).
- “I am persuaded that the more of open air preaching there is in London the better” (88).
- “In the street, a man must keep himself alive, and use many illustrations and anecdotes, and sprinkle a quaint remark here and there” (89).
- “Short sentences of words and short passages of thought are needed for out of doors” (89).
- “In the streets a man must from beginning to end be intense, and for that very reason he must be condensed and concentrated in his thought and utterance” (90).
- “Shams and shows will have no mercy from a street gathering. But have something to say, look them in the face, say what you mean, put it plainly, bodly, earnestly, courteously, and they will hear you” (90).
- “The best street preaching is not that which is done at the top of your voice, for it must be impossible to lay the proper emphasis upon telling passages when all along you are shouting with all your might” (92).
- “One constant rule is to be always courteous and good tempered, for if you become cross or angry it is all over with you. Another rule is to keep to your subject, and never be drawn into side issues. Preach Christ or nothing: don’t dispute or discuss except with your eye on the cross” (93).
Here is what you will need according to Charles Spurgeon for the QUALIFICATIONS FOR OPEN-AIR PREACHERS:
- A good voice.
- Naturalness of manner.
- A good knowledge of Scripture and of common things.
- Ability to adapt himself to any congregation.
- Good illustrative powers.
- Zeal, prudence, and common sense.
- A large, loving heart.
- Sincere belief in all he says.
- Entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for success.
- A close walk with God by prayer.
- A consistent walk before men by a holy life.
Posted in christian apologetics, Christian conservative, Christian worldview, Christianity, cultural apologetics, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, religious liberties, Vanessa Summers on March 28, 2015| 9 Comments »
Politicians are not necessarily the exemplars of logical reasoning. They are proofs that the Sophists are still among us. But once in a while comes an individual that says things so illogical that even other politicians should be embarrassed by it. Enter Vanessa Summers, a Democratic representative from the Indiana Legislature.
There is currently debate on the Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. An explanation of the bill can be found here. In the midst of this heated debate Vanessa Summers offer some creepy irrational reasons against the bill as the Indiana Star News explained:
The already contentious debate over Indiana’s proposed “religious freedom” bill took a surreal twist Monday afternoon when — in the midst of discussion on the bill — a Democratic lawmaker said that a Republican lawmaker’s child was “scared” of her because she is black.
The comment by Rep. Vanessa Summers drew audible gasps, in no small part because the child — the son of Rep. Jud McMillin — is 18 months old.
“I told Jud McMillin I love his son, but he’s scared of me because of my color,” Summers told McMillin, who is white, during debate over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the House.
It made me curious and I wanted to look up the accusation in context just in case she was misrepresented. What I found was even more embarrassing with the logical fallacies when she made during her speech on the legislative floor. I have not been able to find the video on Youtube yet but I did find a video that was embedded on this SITE if you wanted to see them for yourselves.
Here’s my transcription of what she said:
Thank you Mr. Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen of the House. We do things in this legislature that makes no sense and that has no practical application as far as my life is concerned. As far as me being an African American female in Indiana. We do a lot of things that do not have practical applications for a lot of people and I just think when we are in this bubble we do not see how it effects others people. I have told representative McMillin that I love his son, but he’s scared of me because of my color, and that’s horrible. It’s true. And that’s you know, that’s something we’re going to work on. We’ve talked about it and we’re going to work on it. I’ve asked him please, introduce your child to some people of color so that he won’t live his life as a prejudice person. I would like you guys to not vote on this bill thank you.
Now my evaluation as we go line by line:
1.) Her first reason she gave for not voting for the religious freedom restoration act is because it “has no practical application as far as my life is concerned.” Who made her life and the application of things to her life the litmus test of what is good law? Just because the bill has no application for her personally doesn’t mean one should not vote for it. If we vote on a bill for the sake of personal application, it might be applicable to others still even it is not applicable to Vanessa Summers.
2.) She also said “We do a lot of things that do not have practical applications for a lot of people…” But should one vote against a law just because it might not have practical applications for a lot of people? What about laws protecting a minority? Should we say one should not pass a legislation because it doesn’t effect a lot of people?
3.) Picking up with point 2, Summers open up a condundrum: How many people should a law be applicable for before we can say it’s worth being a law?
4.) Per point 1 and 2, recall how she’s against a law that “has no practical application as far as my life is concerned. As far as me being an African American female in Indiana.” According to the 2010 Census data Indiana only 9.5% of Indiana’s population is African American. If she’s consistent with her argument in point 2, then she’s undercutting her own argument in point 1.
5.) Look again at the fourth sentence: “We do a lot of things that do not have practical applications for a lot of people and I just think when we are in this bubble we do not see how it effects others people.” Its a self-contradiction. If a body of people are doing things that has no practical applications how can she talks about it effecting other people?
6.) This is her infamous statement: “I have told representative McMillin that I love his son, but he’s scared of me because of my color, and that’s horrible.” As any parents with babies know, kids cry all the time. I’m not saying you cannot at all, but I think its hard to definitively prove that a child is scared of someone on racial grounds.
7.) Remember also that young children and babies cry for all sorts of irrational reasons. The irrational reasons are endless. Someone is too tall. Someone is quite big. A man has a beard. A loud voice. Laughs weird. Someone a child perceives is a stranger. When I was young one of my sisters cried whenever she sees my dad come home because he works so much and is rarely home. In most instances one just laughs it off because the child is just a child.
8.) For the sake of the argument let’s grant Summers’ premise that McMillin’s son cried because of Summers’ skin color. Therefore, do not vote for the bill? It does not logically follow, as the two are unrelated.
9.) Summers commits an ad hominem fallacy. She’s attacking the character of a child and the character of the father (“I’ve asked him please, introduce your child to some people of color so that he won’t live his life as a prejudice person.”) but it has no bearing as an argument or reason against the bill.
10.) There’s an irony when a legislator talks about a bill is not applicable for people making arguments that is not applicable to the subject at hand.
Are there other fallacies you’ve caught that I missed?
Gary Steward. Princeton Seminary (1812-1929): Its Leaders’ Lives and Works.
Phillipsburg, NJ: Crossway Books, 2014. 321 pp.
The legacy of Princeton Theological Seminary has been hotly debated over the years yet fascinatingly enough a revival of interests into the theology and professors of Old Princeton has been growing in light of the growth of Calvinistic expressions of the Christian faith. This book tells the story of Old Princeton during the years of 1812 through 1929 by giving the readers a biographical account of theologians that has defined the Seminary. I enjoyed how the book not only gave us the life of these theologians but also each biographical chapter on a theologian is followed by a chapter that takes a closer look at the respective man’s particular theological writing and contribution. This format allows us to get a sense of the “life and doctrine” of Old Princeton. It also helps to advance the author’s thesis that Old Princeton held to two uncompromising conviction: (1) rigorous academic theologizing which is compatible with (2) personal piety and holiness. I think Steward does persuasively makes his case and after reading the book I think it is unfortunate that Old Princeton has become so maligned even among Christian circles.
The first chapter of the book covers the founding of Princeton Seminary. I appreciated the author giving us a larger context of theological education for Pastors prior to the Seminary being formed. Obviously there was a need before the founding of Princeton. I learned from the book that before 1746 ministers had only three options for their education: Harvard, Yale or Europe. It certainly makes one appreciate the contemporary landscape in North America with countless seminary to choose from. I also learned from the first chapter of the book of the Log College that would serve as a model for Princeton Seminary with its emphasis on spiritual experience and intellectual cultivation. At first the Presbyterians founded a college (later Princeton University) but eventually the need for a separate Seminary independent from the college led them to found the Seminary. Early on Princeton Seminary was founded to accomplish the goal of producing men who were capable scholars of the Bible that was able to handle the Scripture in its original languages and faithful to the Westminster Confession of Faith in their application of the Word of God to ethics and apologetics.
The first biographical chapter in the book was on the Seminary’s first full time professor, Archibald Alexander. Alexander was an incredibly intellectually gifted man. In an era in which it was hard to acquire books Alexander was able to purchase the library of a minister from Holland that allowed him to become well acquainted with Dutch Reformed thought, early Patristic, Renaissance philosophers and the history of the larger Protestant theology. With all his contribution in his prime of his life it is amazing to read that he worked hard even towards the end of his life with the last ten years his most productive. The author also examined more closely Archibald Alexander’s work titled Thoughts on Religious Experience which focuses on one’s examination of religious experience to see if its Scriptural and authentic, thus showing how early in the Seminary history Old Princeton faculty was not only about the mind but ministered with nuance sensitivity in taking into account all of man’s faculty.
Other theologians that the book focused on included Samuel Miller (their second professor in the Seminary), Charles Hodge, James and Joseph Alexander (sons of Archibald Alexander), and Archibald Alexander Hodge (son of Charles Hodge and obviously named after Archibald Alexander). I was intrigued to learn that Charles Hodge was the first in the faculty to go to Europe to study abroad. This was in order for Hodge to familiarize himself with the bad theology coming from Liberal scholarship especially from Germany. Of course later other professors from Old Princeton (and at other seminary I would add, including today) would follow suit. I wonder if that was a wise precedence for others to follow since one who is not theologically grounded can come back with dangerous ideas and teachings that can “infect” a good seminary. In the case with Charles Hodge it was beneficial. I was very encouraged with the biographical account of James Alexander who first became a missionary who later on did much work in reaching the urban poor and develop materials for the Sunday School movement. The personality of A.A. Hodge with his ability to effectively popularize Princeton theology and illustrate spiritual truths for people’s understanding was equally encouraging for anyone desireingto follow the model of a “Pastor-Scholar” or “Scholar-Pastor.”
I wished the book would have also given a full chapter each on the life of B.B. Warfield and Machen. Both Warfield and Machen were important figures in the twilight years of Old Princeton but the author lumped the two of them together in a brief sketch in the last chapter of the book.
Another aspect of the book that I appreciate is the historical perspective that one gets to look at the times through the College/Seminary and its faculty. These faculty members lived through some amazing time period of American history. Sometimes they also participated in American history such as Witherspoon, Rush and Stockton of Princeton College who participated with the cause of American Independence and even signed the Declaration of Independence! Yet we also see as a general trajectory a caution among the faculty of the Seminary itself, such as Miller who backed away from the political the older he became, Charles Hodge’s reluctance to fan the flame before the Civil War by even adopting a moderating tone while being against slavery but being cautious towards full abolitionists and Secessionists in the South. Towards the end of the Civil War Charles Hodge did become more vocal about the Union, even seeing the North’s victory a sign of God’s providence. Hodge’s own son also was against slavery but was able to see the difficult question and concern for church entanglement politically with the slave question.
In conclusion I was greatly encouraged and challenged by the book and the examples of the theologians of Old Princeton to be a minister of the Word who continue to strive to grow in intellectual ability in articulating, preaching and defending the faith while also continue to grow in personal holiness. This book would be a great gift to encourage your pastor and also for Seminarians to see their studies with the need to be pastoral. It definitely encouraged my soul as a Pastor. I pray that I can follow in these men’s footstep and be to some degree the kind of men these guys were.
NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
Posted in christian apologetics, Christianity, Cornelius Van Til, Frank Schaeffer, Franky Schaeffer, Presuppositional Apologetics, presuppositionalism, Reformed, Theology, Van Til on March 26, 2015| 8 Comments »
I have written on Franky Schaeffer in our blog before where we looked at the irrational things he has said in public. He’s the son of the late Christian apologist and evangelist Francis Schaeffer. Franky himself is an apostate has spent much time and energy attacking his father and the Evangelical faith of his father.
I just found out that his latest book is titled “WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD.” Most people would think, “Is that logically possible?” Frank in a video recorded book discussion have said that he intentionally had a provocative title to make people think and:
Basically telling people that first of all labels are Nonsense.
He’s not the only one that says something like this. I had flashback of hipster Emergents, old College hippie professors, etc., when I heard Franky say that.
What are Franks’ reasons for why he thinks labels are nonsense? He’s explained:
“Because you may describe yourself one thing today but give it twenty years and you may well look at yourself as something else. And we all change in our journey.”
And in his dribbling monologue he’s also talked about the need to embrace paradox rather than resolve everything.
I want to address this issue since it’s bigger than him and many people throw this or something similar out there during religious discussions.
1.) Whenever I hear someone say labels are categorically nonsense I always want to show them a picture of this:
A picture is worth a thousand words. Seriously, labels are nonsense?
2.) Secondly, Frank’s first reason for why labels are nonsense does not logically follow. Just because people do change over time this does not necessarily mean labels are in of itself nonsense. Sure, people twenty years from now may change in their views of themselves and what they believe but that doesn’t mean labels are in of itself are nonsense. It just means one might change “labels” even if that label is something different than the previous label or those labels are different from the larger segment of the population. Go change labels a hundred times that still doesn’t mean labels are nonsense!
3.) Frank’s second reason for why labels are nonsense is equally problematic. Just because there are paradoxes in life that one must embrace surely does not logically follow that labels are nonsense and ought to be categorically rejected. What about two paradoxical labels? Should we embrace them (give his call to embrace paradox)? Or should we reject them because they are labels? We have here a rational/irrational tension. Note here that Frank’s second reason is talking about a different subject (paradox) and not the issue at hand of why labels are nonsense. A categorical fallacy.
4.) Paradoxes won’t exists if two or more objects are at minimum in a contrary tension (I don’t think paradoxes must necessarily be in actual contradictory relationship). People often use shorthand terms to denote things, and when we identify paradoxes we are saying two or more things share a tension in their relationships. Notice denoting things is an act of “labelling.” Thus to talk about paradox one are already engage in the act of giving labels.
4.) As an example of point four, look at his own author-talk where Frank does the same thing. His talk goes on about the problem of the label love and hate and yet he talks about “hating less” is an act of “love.” Even for an anti-label guy like Frank, he’s incurably using labels.
5.) Someone might object that Frank does not refer to “labels” as the act of denoting, naming, defining something but rather sterotyping something. But that does not seem to be case because as one seen in the quote above, Frank talks about how the labels we give ourselves changes. I don’t think Frank is saying we are sterotyping ourselves ignorantly. His talk in the beginning makes it pretty clear he does not like “Certainty Addicts” who wants him to define things. Frank is against the very act of defining things.
6.) Concerning “labeling” as sterotyping people, isn’t ironic that Frank’s writing always engage in labeling others in that sense of the term? Within that Huffington Post I linked, note how he labels pro-science advocates and fundamentalists: “Somewhere between the sterile, absolute, and empty formulas of reductionist, totalitarian science and the earnest, hostile, excessively certain make-believe of religious fundamentalism, there is a beautiful place.”
7.) By the way, rejecting a bad and negative label does not mean one should reject labeling in the first sense of the term.
8.) Per point five, since Frank is against the act of labeling in the sense of defining things, he’s destroyed in his own worldview the ability to communicate since words must mean something and not mean its opposite, etc. But he doesn’t really believe that inside even though he claims it because he’s still communicating with words the words that undermine the intelligibility and meaningfulness of those words. Franks’ father had a mentor who would have noted the folly and suppression of the truth in Frank’s apostate antinominian atheist worldview.
Frank’s rejection of labels is nonsense.