Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Absolute Physics

In E. A. Burtt's judgment,

For Newton, then, science was composed of laws stating the mathematical behaviour of nature solely--laws clearly deducible from phenomena and exactly verifiable in phenomena--everything further is to be swept out of science, which thus becomes a body of absolutely certain truth about the doings of the physical world....Science is the exact mathematical formulation of the processes of the natural world. Speculation is at a discount, but motion has unconditionally surrendered to the conquering mind of man. (The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, 226)

So which is it? Is physics a "god's eye" view of the world, or is it "subject to fashion and whim"? Here we have the difference between the project of modernity and the aftermath of its collapse.

"We are gods," said modernity.

But we found out we don't know so much as we thought.

"Ok," said post-modernity. "We are still gods, just capricious ones."

I, for one, am glad to repent of this non-sense and trust in the triune God of steadfast love and faithfulness.

Love from Beginning to End

"Nothing is of the nature of true virtue," Jonathan Edwards said, "in which God is not the first and the last."

Edwards' biographer George Marsden explains. "God is love and the source of all love. True love, true benevolence, is love that resonates with God's love and is in harmony with it. This conclusion, Edwards pointed out, is a necessary implication of 'the preceding discourse of God's End in Creating the World.' God's very being is 'love and friendship which subsists eternally and necessarily between the several persons of the Godhead.' The ultimate end or expression of creation is as an expression of that love. Intelligent beings are created with the very purpose to be united in love with the Godhead. And to be united in love with the Godhead means to love what God loves, or all being."

Jonathan Edwards: A Life (p. 467)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Theotokos

A couple weeks ago at our business meeting we had some good discussion about the Creed of Chalcedon (451), specifically regarding its statement that Jesus "was born of the virgin Mary, the mother of God, according to the manhood." I'd like to give a little more information here on the blog, starting with a statement from Philip Schaff, the eminent 19th century church historian.

In his work The Creeds of Christendom, Schaff had this to say about this description of Mary as theotokos. First, he explained the original intent of the term.

"The predicate θεοτόκος , the Bringer-forth of God,...is directed against Nestorius, and was meant originally not so much to exalt the Virgin Mary, as to assert the true divinity of Christ and the realness of the Incarnation."

Next, he noted how the term is used in context.


"It is immediately after qualified by the phrase κατὰ τὴν ἀνθρωπότητα ( secundum humanitatem ), in distinction from κατὰ τὴν θεότητα ( secundum deitatem ). This is a very important limitation, and necessary to guard against Mariolatry, and the heathenish, blasphemous, and contradictory notion that the uncreated, eternal God can be born in time.

Third, he explained the importance of the assertion that Mary was the bearer of God. This is really the heart of the matter, so I have put it in bold.

"Mary was the mother not merely of the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth, but of the theanthropic person of Jesus Christ; yet not of his eternal Godhead (the λόγος ἄσαρκος ), but of his incarnate person, or the Logos united to humanity (the λόγος ἔνσαρκος )." 

Schaff illustrates this by looking at Christ's crucifixion.
 
"In like manner, the subject of the Passion was the theanthropic person; yet not according to his divine nature, which in itself is incapable of suffering, but according to his human nature, which was the organ of suffering. 

Last, given the history of the church since the time of Chalcedon, Schaff gives a warning."There is no doubt," he says, that terms like this "have greatly promoted Mariolatry."

(This work is available online here.)

To sum up, the question  behind the term theotokos is, "Who did Mary give birth to?" The answer is that she gave birth to the God-man Jesus Christ. She did not give birth to merely a human nature, for Jesus Christ is one person "to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably."

A Father's Delight

When a father delights in his son, he trains his son to enjoy what is truly good in life. He trains him to enjoy a relationship with the Lord. This Lord's Day, we will see what that training looks like, and the blessings it brings.

Songs
God Himself Is Present
How Firm a Foundation (#610)
Trust and Obey (#525)
Psalm 23b

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 27:16-34; Psalm 129
New Testament: Luke 17:1-29

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: A Father's Delight - Proverbs 3:1-12

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Smooth

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's intriguing novel, The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan has one absolutely bewitching attribute - her voice. The narrator Nick Carraway, upon being re-introduced to his cousin, picks up on it immediately.

Daisy made an attempt to rise...then she laughed, an absurd charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came into the room.

He can't stop talking about her voice.

She laughed again, as if she had said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl was Baker. (I've heard it said that Daisy's murmur was only to make people lean towards her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)

In fact, he has to stop and dwell upon that arresting sound. 

I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget; a singing compulsion, a whispered 'Listen', a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

As it turns out, Daisy is a silly and superficial woman who cannot love men but only things. Nick himself concludes in the end, "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

Fitzgerald captured as well as anyone I know the mysterious power of the "smooth tongue" of women whom the wise father instructs his son to avoid like the plague (Prov 2:16; 6:24). The smooth tongue charms; it thrills; it intoxicates; it calms. It surreptitiously promises the world, but all that it delivers is death. The tongue of the excellent wife is full of wisdom and kindness (Prov 31:26), but there is no deceit or vanity to be found there (Prov 31:30). One of the great skills of life is to learn the difference between a voice that is beautiful and a voice that is dangerously smooth.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fashionable Physics

There is a popular misconception that science is an impersonal, dispassionate, and thoroughly objective enterprise. Whereas most other human activities are dominated by fashions, fads, and personalities, science is supposed to be constrained by agreed rules of procedure and rigorous tests. It is the results that count, not the people who produce them.

This is, of course, manifest nonsense. Science is a people-driven activity like all human endeavor, and just as subject to fashion and whim. In this case fashion is set not so much by choice of subject matter, but by the way scientists think about the world....

Paul Davies, Introduction to Six Easy Pieces by Richard P. Feynman

All the more reason to look to the One Who Is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Living Treasure

God is the treasure of our souls, and the pursuit of wisdom leads us to him. Christ is our life, and wisdom keeps us on the path of life. So what will the path look like? What are the blessings of this way of life?

We'll continue our exploration of Proverbs 2 together this coming Lord's Day.

Songs
God Himself Is Present
My Soul, Be on Thy Guard (#595)
He Who Would Valiant Be (#507)
Psalm 103b

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 27:1-15; Psalm 128
New Testament: Luke 16:14-31

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Living in the Greatest Treasure - Proverbs 2:5-22

Friday, July 12, 2013

Real Treasure

High Country Baptist Church exists to glorify and enjoy God by knowing him and making him known. This Lord's Day we will discover what it takes to find that rare treasure. Join us!

Songs
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Give Ear unto God's Holy Word (#729)
O Lord, Behold Us at Thy Feet (#730)
Be Thou My Vision (#462)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 26:23-46; Psalm 127
New Testament: Luke 16:1-13

Sermon
 Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Finding the Greatest Treasure - Proverbs 2

Friday, July 05, 2013

Lady Liberty's Mother

While many focus on Lady Liberty this weekend, we will meet to hear the voice of a different lady, Lady Wisdom. Her counsel and reproof is available for all to hear, and without her, there will be no liberty. Join us this Lord's Day to hear the voice of wisdom.

Songs
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing (#69)
Come, Ye that Fear the Lord
Psalm 33
Be Thou My Vision (#462)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 26:1-22; Psalm 126
New Testament: Luke 15:11-32

Sermon
Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Wisdom Cries - Proverbs 1:20-33

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Grateful for America

"America, America, God shed his grace on thee...."

That's my prayer for the U.S.A. on this Independence Day. Although I am often critical of this nation, it is not a criticism born of indifference or hatred. This is my homeland, the land where my fathers died, and God alone knows all the blessings that have come to me because, in his providence, I am an American. I am a Christian first, and an American later, but after all I remain an American. I am a citizen of heaven first and only secondarily a citizen of America, but I am still an American. Today I want to express my gratitude to God for America.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Bearing Witness against America

I never tire of saying that we live in a fundamentally pagan culture. Until we get that through our heads, we will not bear witness rightly.

In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Windsor, Peter Leithart has some wise words.

We’ve fooled ourselves for decades into believing that Christian America was derailed recently and by a small elite. It’s tough medicine to realize that principles inimical to traditional Christian morals are now deeply embedded in our laws, institutions and culture. The only America that actually exists is one in which “marriage” includes same-sex couples and women have a Constitutional right to kill their babies. To be faithful, Christian witness must be witness against America. 

God has his winnowing fork in his hand, and he’s ready to use it. There’s likely to be a lot of chaff, blown away like mist. But there will be a harvest. We’re being sent into an oven, but Jesus will crush the grain of the harvest so that, baked in the fire of the Spirit, it will become bread for the life of the world. 

Cause for despair? Certainly not. Cause for repentance and sobriety? Certainly.

Back in 1978, George Grant wrote in a letter,

It seems to me that Western Christianity is now going to go through a great purging of its authority because it was in the civilization where it was dominant that the worst form of secularity has arisen and is likely to become worldwide. Both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are going to pay terrible prices...for the ultimate relation they maintained with that progressive materialism.

 But having recognized the awful truth and repented of our complicity with Americanism, the next step is not to take out our flame-throwers and start praying for God to damn America. It is rather to engage America in love, like our Lord Jesus Christ. This is our mission field, and if we love our neighbors, we cannot help but seek their eternal good. 

A crucial step in doing that is recovering the church as the pillar and buttress of the truth and the centerpiece of Christian identity in the world. Pray that as God purifies his church, she will once again become a vibrant witness to her glorious Savior.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Love Your Enemies

Love your enemies in such a way that you wish them to be brothers; love your enemies in such a way that they are brought into your fellowship.

Augustine, First Homily on the First Epistle of John