Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dr. Will Barker on subscription in the PCA:

The methodology made clear in the Synod's response to the Hemphill case [Samuel Hemphill, the subject of the first Presbyterian heresy trial in North America in the early 1730s] is the historic method of subscription in American Presbyterianism. It also is the method that we should employ today. The  candidate professing to adopt the Westminster Standards should declare any exceptions that he may have, and then the Presbytery should decide whether his exceptions are such that he cannot be deemed as sincerely taking his ordination vow (e.g., the second ordination vow). If that is the case, then the Presbytery should not approve him for ordination. On the other hand, if the Presbytery determines that his exceptions do not represent a violation of his ordination vow, he  should be ordained and should also be able to teach such exceptions, since he is conscience-bound to  teach the whole counsel of God, as revealed in Scripture, whose authority he also has affirmed  elsewhere in his ordination vows. But he should teach such exceptions with utmost sensitivity to the peace and purity of the church.
-- William Barker, "System Subscription," Westminster Theological Journal, 63 (2001), 6, accessed 11/11/15

While this may sound like a historical theologian nerding out (Abby thinks so), how pastors discus their convictions and hold each other accountable to those convictions is an important part of being biblical.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The cost of infrastructure vs. incramental growth

Two videos from Strong Towns on what infrastructure actually costs, and a different model for growth than just borrowing from our children:

First the downer:

Then a more hopeful option:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The dangerous effect of immigrants on native culture...

We have a natural tendency to fear the "other," regardless of how like us that "other" is. Today, the image of the Irish as a dangerous foreign element in Bostonian culture is nonsensical to any but the most elite Brahmin circles. In 1869, however, that was far from the case:
The urge to look backward was particularly strong in Boston, where natives were grappling with the growing presence and power of the Irish. In 1869, the author William Dean Howells took a walk through an immigrant section of Cambridge known as Dublin, where he felt less like a native and more like a traveler in a foreign land. The language, customs, and dress seemed exotic to Howells, and he regretted that the Anglo-Saxon population was "now as extinct in that region as the Pequots." He read the future of his own people in the large number of Irish children playing in the streets. It appeared likely, wrote Howells, that "such increase shall--together with the well-known ambition of Dubliners to rule the land--one day make an end of us poor Yankees as a dominant plurality." The demographic shift from Yankee to Irish would soon become evident in politics as well. In 1884, just fifteen years after Howells's visit to Dublin, Bostonians elected Hugh O'Brien as their first Irish Catholic mayor.
-- Michael Rawson, Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston, 254

Howells's fear of ceasing to be a "dominant plurality" seems particularly arrogant in modern PC phraseology, but is actually not far from how many of us think. The fear of the "other" helps us to excuse attitudes and theories which denigrate members of other races and ethnicities. The Church is very susceptible to these attitudes too. The connection between "God and country" which I celebrated as a young Christian--along with many other Christians--often leads us to a belief that our specific nationalism is somehow tied to the purest expression of our faith. I have heard numerous comments from Christians which view immigrants with the same attitude Howell exhibited. Given my first European relatives "got off the boat" in 1639, I'm guessing I have plenty of ancestors who took similar attitudes to some of these Christians' ancestors when they arrived...