Archive for category Misc

Coming Back

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written here. It may be a bit ambitious to return to blogging at such a time, with my second year of seminary continuing and a brand new child having just arrived. I feel the need to return to blogging… to continue to pour out some of my thoughts in a sort of overflow as they pertain to ministry, seminary, family, and life.

Hope to post in the next few days.


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Live Blogging the Scholar as Pastor

8:51 – Carson is up, and I’m back online (internet is hit-and-miss up in the auditorium). “It’s not wise to say that every pastor has the gifts and scholarly training… do do major works.” However, he gives a couple of exceptions. For instance, J.I. Packer wrote “Knowing God” in the womb of pastoral ministry… so it’s possible. 

8:53 – Picking up on introduction… there is an evangelical tradition that tells us that we are to love God with our “mind”, with our intellect. Argument goes like this: “love the Lord with all your mind, soul, and strength.” Carson doesn’t think this is entirely valid. In the OT, the gut is the place of emotion. In the OT, the heart is the whole being. Dominant in all that is what you think.

8:57 – What this means is that using our minds in a lazy ways (in relation to God) borders on the blasphemous.  

8:59 – Love of God should never degenerate into mere emotion; it is holistic. There’s plenty of references to mind and 

9:00 – Biblical warnings about how knowledge puffs up doesn’t mean we are to avoid intellectualism. Conversely, saying that loving God with our minds doesn’t not absolve or delude the Biblical mandate of passion. 

9:01 – A word about his own pilgrimage. As an undergrad, he went to Mcgill university. Wanted to pursue Organic Synthesis at Cornell. At this time, he began to observe two kinds of people in chemistry. Those who approached retirement and hated what they did, and those who loved it. He fell in the middle, and wanted out. Entered ministry.

9:15 – Internet was out, back up now. Main sermon: scholar as frustrated pastor. Twelve points for them:

9:16 – Point 1: Take steps to avoid becoming a mere quartermaster. They’re the ones that supply the front lines. 

9:20 – Point 2: Beware the seduction of applause… from one of two directions. An academic direction, or a religious direction. This was tempting for him in his training while in England. 

9:29 – Relates a story about how scholars may not get the Gospel at all. You can assent to it and not really know it in the affectional sense.

9:30 – The second direction of applause is your own conservative constituency.

9:31 – Point 3: Fight with every fiber of your being the common dichotomy between objective study of Scripture and devotional reading of Scripture. Don’t stop thinking in devotion, and be passionate and loving towards God in your exegesis.

9:35 – Point 4:  Never forget that it’s about the souls of people who are outside your studies.  

9:37 – Back with the internet, now in the cafe’ downstairs. Took notes on points 3 and 4 during the downtime; will post notes above in a minute.

9:38 – Point 5: Happily recognize that God distributes gifts among scholar-pastors. Some have popularizing skills, some churn out stuff, some have precise skills. We shouldn’t think that we all must be similarly endowed.

9:41 – Point 6: Recognize that students don’t learn everything you teach them. In terms of life long commitment, your students learn what you’re excited about. That’s pretty profound for pastors too. Be excited about that which is of the most fundamental importance. Otherwise, you teach people to undermine that which is most important if you emphasize the wrong thing.

9:43 – First generation assumes the Gospel, second generation marginalizes the Gospel, third generation denies the Gospel. 

9:44 – Point 7: Make the main thing the main thing. Don’t teach people to master the NT, teach them to be mastered by the NT. Don’t just teach them what the passage says, teach them how to find what’s in the passage. 

9:46 – Point 8: Pray and work for a scholarly vision that is beyond the publisher’s. 

9:48 – Point 9: Love the church. The seminaries won’t exist in eternity.

9:49 – Point 10: Avoid lone ranger scholarships. “Reading makes a full man, speaking makes a quick man, writing makes a exact man.”

9:50 – Point 11: Be quick to be interested in the works of others more than your own work.

9:50 – Point 12: Take the work seriously, but not too seriously. Laugh at yourself.


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Live Blogging the Pastor as Scholar

John Piper at the Pastor as Scholar, Scholar as Pastor event.


7:07 – 60 second warning… John Fieck and I arrived less than 5 minutes ago. Got two stray seats, this place is packed. Text to 24625 for questions.

7:10 – Introductory comments. This place is amazingly loaded. Owen Strand is coming up now, managing director of the Henry Center.

7:15 – Video with an overview of the Biblical story from BibleMesh. Looked at this program quite a bit at Gospel Coalition… a guy named Matthew at their booth was very helpful. Maybe include this at Timberland sometime.

7:18 – Alistair Begg is one of the people narrating. Need to get him at one of these conferences.

7:22 – Dr. Piper is up first. His approach will be to “tell his story… so you can decide whether I’m a scholar or a pastor.” Quoting FF Bruce, “While some readers have observed that in these chapters I have said little about my domestic life… I do not care to speak much about the things that mean most to me. Others do care more to speak about these things… and enrich others with the Lord’s dealings with them. It calls for quite exceptional qualities to be able do this without self-consciousness or self-deceit.”

7:24 – Piper didn’t really like FF Bruce’s comment… he wonders what does it matter if we aren’t sharing? It’s the scholarly way to be more reticant. Piper, on the other hand, is constantly bursting with things (really? No way!). 

7:26 – Quoting Edwards… it is his duty to raise the affections of the people that listen to him as high as they possibly can. When the pastor seeks to do that, it’s assumed that they’ve already done so for themselves. FF Bruce’s comment is deadly. 

7:28 – Paul does it Piper’s way… or Piper does it Paul’s way. Quoting 2 Corinthians 1. 

7:29 – Piper is going to distill his talk in chapters of his life.

Chapter 1: Early Childhood

7:30 – Six years old at a motel in Florida, on vacation with his family, he put his faith in Christ. However, as he grew up, he had a inhibition to speak out loud in front of a group. People would ask him if he wanted to be a preacher like his dad… he would resoundingly say “no!”

7:32 – Neither his dad nor his home were enviroments for intellectual cultivation. Nevertheless, the affections were there. The realities in his life were Biblical realities.

Chapter 2: High School

7:33 – In high school, he had a a double awakening. On the intellectual side there was a biological class. On the emotional expressive side, there was an English class. He loved geometry as well; he loved reasoning from premises to create conclusions. He has an eye for non-sequitors.

7:35 – Geometry gave his a passion for right reasoning, biology gave him a passion for right observation. Both are essential; you cannot do one without the other!  

7:36 – This worked in seminary. “Just see what’s there!” Tons of German too; knew he was at Munich, didn’t know he spoke it. He watched front line, world class scholars miss it while he saw it because he observed. Good advice.

7:38 – Back to high school, he was falling in love with writing, especially with poetry. Every day of his life since then he’s written. Thus, writing became the lever for his thinking. He cannot sustain a line of thinking for 30 seconds without writing. He can’t keep it in his head. I’m very much the same way. It’s a discipline. 

7:40 – The inability to speak in high school made his life difficult. Cs in civics, didn’t interact well with others socially. Another thing… he couldn’t read any faster then he could talk. Still can’t. These two disabilities… what can you do? This was high school.

Chapter 3: Wheaton College

7:42 – Wheaton College. In his mind, forms began to take place. Ways of thinking exploded onto the scene, but God and the Bible were not the same focus. Two profs, Holmes and Hackitt had a profound effect on him.

7:44 – Holmes helped him with his worldview. “Think for a living, and write a little bit about it.” Wow. Hackitt was also a philosopher. It wasn’t just what he thought, but the way he thought. “Any system of thinking that denies truth denies itself.” Profound… the law of non-contradiction saves anyone a lot of time. “If you say there is no truth, you have just opened something that doesn’t count. 

7:46 – Francis Schaffeur showed up and turned their world upside down. There were people who he went to college with that influenced him. Mark Noll was his RA, had a sign up that said “to love is to stop comparing.” 

7:48 – Piper was a B student at Wheaton. He worked hard, but couldn’t get it. He reads slow, he can’t remember what he reads, he can’t make As at Wheaton, and he can’t talk. This was his mind at Wheaton.

7:49 – His heart at Wheaton was also helped. His writing flourished to a degree, but didn’t take a single novel class although he was a lit major. Loved poetry, didn’t like novels. “I’ve read one or two in recent decades.” His emotions ran deep. A writer named Kilby helped him in his writings to be affectional. “Mental health is seeing and enjoing them for what they are.

7:51 – Clyde Kilby’s resolutions. 1) Once every day, I will stare at a tree, or a could, or a person. 2) I will joyfully allow them the mystery of life. He was alive to wonder, and helped Piper awaken to that wonder. 

7:54 – Noel came into his life at Wheaton, and everything changed. They were talking marriage in three weeks. Basically, Piper wanted to sleep with her. 

7:55 – Lewis became for Piper in his college days what Edwards became for his in the seminary. There was a book called “The Romantic Rationalist” that at first sight Piper fell in love with. Rational poetry. Pastor scholar. “Cool logic is not foreign to warm feeling.” 

7:57 – Smash an argument, hug a friend. That’s great! Both/and instead of either/or. 

7:58 – Had a teacher who told them never to buy an illustration book. Instead, he told them to “just listen” and was was silent for a minute. When no one had anything to say after a minute, the prof said “did you hear the siren? Someone is dying or injured now, and you don’t feel anything?” Amen to that! As Keller said, you won’t touch a life until you have a life! 

8:00 – Piper started cracking jokes about thinking about being a veterinarian because it wasn’t a big deal to him if a patient died in surgery…..especially if it was a cat.

8:01 – Was asked to give the invocation at summer school; about 500 people. Piper said “how long do you have to talk?” and said “yes”. He promised God that if he got through it, he would never turn down another opportunity to speak for Him. He believes he’s kept the vow for 43 years. God showed up and broke him. 

8:03 – Harold Ockenga came and preached and Piper missed it and two weeks of classes. This was impetus for him to change direction and go to seminary. 

8:05 – He says that at seminary he felt no allegiance to the local church, but when he got married 3 months later, he matured and realized he needed to be involved in a church. He found a church where the pastor “loved his people through preaching.” What an idea. 

Chapter 4: Fuller Seminary

8:07 – At Fuller, these were the years when New Evangelicalism was wanting to gain intellectual respectability. This wasn’t always good. For instance, George Ladd was destroyed by a bad review of “Jesus and the Kingdom”… absolutely crushed. Later in his life, he ran through the hallway when his NT Theology was published, waving the royalty check. It was both good and sad. There would never be a Don Carson and all his books without these years of rigorous academic development in evangelicalism.

8:10 – Wasn’t happy about the sophomoric profs who would bash fundamentalism. 

8:12 – Dan Fuller was a HUGE impact on his life. He taught Piper what true scholarship was. He introduced to him the idea of “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in HIm.” This is how it went down. Fuller was in a class, and said “why can’t we be like Edwards?” Both warming hearts and crafting rational arguments that challenged minds.

8:15 – Freedom of the Will crushed his Arminianism. The End for Which God Created the World set up a love for His sovereignty. He came out of seminary firmly Reformed. 

8:16 – The focus of romance and of rational labor become the Word of God. In Wheaton he was given form, and at Fuller he was given substance that the form could interact with.

Chapter 5: Univeristy of Munich

8:17 – After Fuller, he sought more education. Ended up in Germany, and didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Went to a little Baptist Church that had life in it, wrote a dissertation on loving Jesus. “The global king of Biblical scholarship had no clothes on.” 

8:19 – How did you get from probability to certainty in German Biblical scholarship? “The wand of consensus… *insert incredulous look by Piper* Tenth grade defeats that!” His understanding of rationalism and passion innoculated him against their postmodern thought. 

Chapter 6: Bethel College

Got his degree from the University of Munich and never looked at it again. Went to Bethel College in Minnesota. Was great except for one thing. Something changed inside of him… he became very restless in grading and the day in-and-out of teaching.

8:21 – Wrote the Justification of God while he was there at Bethel, and realized that God had to be proclaimed and not simply analyzed. This is when he said he needed to get out and proclaim the Word. He moved from his scholarly pursuits to pastoral pursuits. 

Chapter 7: Bethlehem Baptist Church

8:23 – In June 1980 he accepted the call to Bethlehem Baptist. Went to the text so that people would argue with Paul and not with him. Doesn’t get to read much, and only gets to write because he’s converting sermons.

8:25 – Is Piper scholarly? Tries not to stay on the cutting edge of anything… way too slow for that. What scholarly would mean for him is that the greatest object of knowledge in the universe is God, and He has revealed Himself in a book. It behooves us to spend everything we have to get to know Him in that book.


Update 4/24: The transcript for Piper’s talk can be found here. Thanks to Park Community Church (@ParkChurch) for hosting and Andrew Randazzo (@Dazzo88) for liveblogging with me.

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The Future of Internet Searches

Check it out. Read the details, and follow the instructions to enable it on your computer.

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Live Blogging the Reading Club (2)

7:19 PM – Mr. Carpenter begins in earnest… chapter 3, Fragmentation and Obsession. Essentially when Weaver gets to this point he’s making fun of his own profession. He rails against specialization… whereas the well-rounded individual has a sense of the forms, the specialist reinterprets nature by what he is specialized in. Essentially, the specialist in Weaver’s field (the intellect philosopher) believes that nature can be interpreted in of itself without reference to other things. Thus specialization is okay, because everyone has access to self-interpreting nature.

7:24 PM – He’s essentially debunking what his own faculty is doing at University of Chicago; all his colleagues believe that nature is self-interpreting, and he’s going after it whole hog. Weaver’s metaphysical dream assumes the forms of Plato but also some of the Aristotelian relation between particulars and forms. There are three different ways that we can look at reality 

  • Universalia ante rem (universals exist in reality outside the physical realm, Platonic thinking). 
  • Universalia in re (universals exist in creation within the physical realm, Aristotelian thinking).
  • Universalia post rem (mind poses order upon reality, which is otherwise chaos, empiricist thinking)

7:33 PM – The last of these is the impetus behind the Q Document theory; that the facts in themselves are self-interpreting as you examine the text. You can look and see the similarities in the Synoptics and conclude that there must be a common document shared between them. All this did was fuel dissertations for decades; the transcendant truth behind the text was completely ignored or at least undermined for what is a creation of an empiricist’s mind. In history we call this historicism… telling the purpose of history and the truth behind it by just observing facts. 

7:40 PM – Weaver goes to town on empiricism, connecting how technology fuels “presentism,” the idea that whatever is latest is best. This is rampant in our culture. 

7:44 PM – Weaver makes an interesting connection. He shows how the philosophical doctor led society in the medieval age, whereas in the burgeoning age of the Enlightenment the gentleman came to prominence. Whereas the philosophical doctor had a metaphysical dream fueling his musings, the gentleman only had a shadow of these things. The gentleman is moving from the life of the mind to technology; he’s already asking the question “maybe what works is best is superior to what is.” He is still guided by principle, though. 

7:50 PM – Compare this to the specialist, who says that what we see show us what is right. The philosophical doctor points back to realities that show us what is right. This drives the specialist to deny reality and drive them to tend towards instability, whereas the philosophical doctors were entrenched in proper reality. 

7:55 PM – The specialist believes in perspectivalism… there is no real reality, but instead just perspectives that are equal. A good quote from Weaver that relates to this: 

… the specialist stands ever at the borderline of psychois. It has been remarked that when one passes among the patients of a psychopathic ward, he encounters among the several sufferers every aspect of normal personality in morbid exaggeration, so that it would be possible theoretically to put together a supermind by borrowing something from each. And as one passes through modern centers of enterprise and of higher learning, he is met with similar autonomies of development. Each would be admired for his little achievement of power and of virtuosity; each is resentful of subordination because, fo him, a speciality has become a world. 

8:00 PM – Finishing up for the night… the multitude of specialists creates a society whereby denial of reality becomes the norm, and people are lulled to destructive slumber. This is what chapter 4 concerns itself with. Mr. Carpenter calls for all to come, since chapter 4 concerns itself with the decline of the arts as specialization flourished… specifically he wants to discuss the degradation of music. Which he suspects all will want to give their take on that one…

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Long Time Coming

I’ll be updating the blog more frequently in the weeks to come. Things to look for:

  • A review of Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism.
  • Live blogging the reading group meeting tomorrow night.
  • An update on all the books I read over break, with recommendations and mini-reviews.
  • Quotes from my lastest reading, most of which is in Pentateuchal studies. 
  • The continuation of my posts concerning wordliness as a subtle sovereign.
  • A new series of posts on the converging middle and the Gospel Coalition National Conference.

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Live Blogging The Reading Club (1)

I’m at the Carpenter’s, about to continue our Ideas Have Consequences reading group and discussion. It’s a little thin tonight, just a couple of us guys and Mr. Carpenter. I’m taking up Mr. Carpenter’s suggestion and live blogging this session for the benefit of the few that aren’t able to come (and anyone else that reads).

7:16 – Discussion about current going-ons in evangelicalism. Talking about other stuff too… classic antinomianism and its current adherents. Cherry pie and ice cream are served.

7:30 – Discussion about first chapter. Essentially, Weaver wants to show that the metaphysical dream of each individual and society is essential for the good of both. This metaphysical reality must be taken, essentially, on faith. It is the idea of the transcendent taken by the instrumentality of faith. These are extremely Platonic ideas, directly applied to modernity and consequently postmodernity in our age.

7:39 – Weaver takes some negative examples to show what he is arguing against. “The barbarian living amid culture” and the Philistine… think the Geico caveman. A very primitive individual living amongst society, one who is in contact with culture but doesn’t properly interact, but rather profanes it. 

7:40 – Weaver than takes the American frontiersman as an example. As the frontiersman moved east, they began to trust their senses and their own judgment, and thus lost their appreciation and apprehension of the forms. They gradually became unable to interact at the level of the abstract. In a sense, this is to a degree endemic to America because of its roots.

7:43 – Language is incredibly important in the midst of understanding all of this. Distance from language or a given text is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it’s quite good. The metaphysical dream that each individual has gives them the ability to properly place language within a context, and thus gives them the opportunity to interpret the language in a text. Just as the American frontiersman sought immediacy from his senses, so modernity seeks immediacy to interpretation. Postmodernism actually does a good thing in being willing to not get an immediate answer to interpretation, but also subverts the interpretation process by denying that a metaphysical dream can deduce the actual interpretation of a text.

7:49 – Side discussion. American Arminianism seems to have some of its birth in the American frontiersman. Arminianism thrives in the 1920s because throughout the 19th century people were acting upon their own volition that eventually trickled into the religious thinking of the common man.

7:55 – Discussion. America has a sense of the forms, its just that those forms (freedom, justice, etc.) seems to be embodied in particular things, not in transcendent ideals. Barack Obama’s speech on Tuesday seems somewhat indicative of this. Even though something transcendent is invoked (grace, faith, etc.) these things really have no substance since the interpretive method is postmodern. What they mean to one person means something completely different to another. In fact, some of his rhetoric would sould decidedly pre-modern, if it were not for the tacit understanding that he speaks as a representative of and to a postmodern people.

8:00 -Discussion over Weaver’s statement on page 19: “We do not undertake to reason about anything until we have been drawn to it by an affective manner.” Weaver brings this up to disparage it. Mr. Carpenter brings up that this is what Piper seemingly does by interpreting Edwards. He believed Piper thinks affections fall outside and precede reason. I’m not convinced this is what Piper propounds; we’ll be looking into and discussing this further at another time. Talking about a progression of the mind to the affections to the will: it seems Edwards starts with intellectual apprehension, moves to the affections, and then to the behavior.

8:23 – Bob Jones Sr. famously thinks this goes from intellectual apprehension to proper behavior to the proper affections. Piper (and I) disagree with him, and with the place of initial orthopathy in the classic (i.e. movement-based) fundamentalist mold.

8:30 – Edwards later moved away from a monolithic opinion on this order, especially as he viewed how these things were ordered in his wife’s life. An emotional change is both seen by others and felt internally. This is “common sense” realism. But the fact that emotions are there doesn’t mean something has honestly changed internally.

8:36 – Moving onto the second chapter, Distinction and Hierarchy. Essentially, this is the Incredibles. Saying that everyone is special is the same as saying no one is special. Current trends in culture aim to destroy all distinctions in social status, but in doing so destroys society at large, as any metaphysical dream must be sacrificed in the process. “Jacobin” is a term he uses continually; essentially this is one who seeks to level the social classes. It references a social club that was at the radical edge of the French Revolution. A comment is made: our new President is essentially a Jacobin. These believe that human nature is essentially good, so we must unbridle humanity to naturally grow into and express that good that is in them. 

8:43 – There are two things that society descends into at this point… the brutality of anarchy, which must be overcome by political despotism, or the brutality of consumerism, which is a form of despotism. Who gets to be at the top? The one who consumes and gives return for the most. We seem to be (in America) at the level of the brutality of consumerism. 

8:49 – Talking about how Weaver addresses education. He says that without a metaphysical dream to guide education, the educational system will only serve to tear down the system. How this happen in America’s system? Everything is geared towards production and consumption; thus the schools only become a tool to increase the appetite. There’s no way to equip the students to think about the abstract if no metaphysical dream is upheld. Weaver is a teacher at the University of Chicago, the same home of John Dewey (the father of the public school system), so in a way he’s essentially critiquing his employer.

8:54 – Side discussion. “Preparative preparation”… a new one on me, Mr. Carpenter. Talking about how schools are challenged to teach because students come in with different levels of preparedness. This is difficult at Northland, due to having a wide variety of incoming students. Some have learned just to take in information and be discerning in private, whereas others learn by discussion in public. 

8:58 – Carpenter makes jokes about pressing ideas against each other. Great, Mr. C. 

9:00 – Last bit of discussion for the night. Weaver spends a good deal of time critiquing the middle-class, the new “bourgeoisie.” The middle-class tends to seek to empower the nanny state in order to increase its own size and privileges. Why? Because when society destroys distinctions, the telos of culture becomes comfort. This is what the middle-class run culture seeks. 

9:09 – Finishing up. To summarize: the degradation of society involves the destruction of the metaphysical dream and its subsequent replacement by the pursuit of relativism as embodied in the obsession with particulars. It also involves the tearing down of cultural distinctions so that all might be equal. This is the culture of comfort that we find ourselves in today, because this lack of distinction causes society to lean towards comfort as a goal, since there aren’t any higher ideals to which to aspire.

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