Beware of Dogs

During the night Nathan Busenitz posted his points about why Mark Driscoll is not justified in his particular use of provocative and offensive speech. By mid-morning Doug Wison responded with counterpoints.

Not that either one of them asked, or cared, but I really was tempted to add my two cents. Then I remembered: beware of dogs.

Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own
is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
Proverbs 26:17

I am not calling these men dogs. I am keeping my hands out of the fray. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch…but really, beware of dogs.

Wilson Thinks Out Loud about Palin

I have told numerous people in the past couple weeks that they should read Doug Wilson’s posts on Sarah Palin. Whether you agree with his answers or not, the questions he’s raised are good ones. I tried to summarize the links with the idea that it might help you prioritize your click-tab reading.

Prior to Palin’s Speech at the RNC:

  • Kinda Spooky When You Think About It. “[R]emember that in the Bible Deborah was the dame who upstaged a fellow named Barak. Kinda spooky when you think about it.” Bottom line: Palin brings appeal back to the Republican party and to the Presidential campaign.
  • Cons and Pros on Palin. Framing the big issues, with acknowledgement that at the very least, Palin does threaten the leftist agenda.
  • And Another Thing…. A teenage pregnancy in the family certainly says something, but we might not know exactly what.
  • John Knox and Sarah Palin. Knox’s The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women can not be used against Palin.
  • Making Karl Rove Look Like a Piker. Why we should assume McCain’s advisors did proper vetting.
  • Palin Comparison. Palin’s potentially harmful, or beneficial, role-model to Christian young women.

Post Palin’s Speech at the RNC:

  • Secret Love Child of a Hot Dog Vendor. Perhaps Palin’s biggest negative is that she thinks highly of McCain. But like her or not, she is a game-changer.
  • An Epistemological Pileup. “The idea that women should be excluded from civil office, period, is an exegetical question, and one that I believe that can be settled because of the perspicuity of Scripture.” He also points out it has yet to be proven whether she can take care of her kids and do the VP job.
  • John Has Slain His Thousands. The potential that God has raised up Sarah Palin at such a time as this for knocking down feminism and abortion.
  • Babe-raham Lincoln. Tensions and questions about whether Palin’s politics are a reversal toward the right direction, or only slowing us down on the wrong way.
  • Two Marks of Deliverance. God’s deliverance is always different and surprising. Palin may fit into those shoes.
  • Sarah Palin, Candidate of Peace?. How Palin’s energy policy leads to peace, even though her foreign policy may need work.
  • The Single-File Column to Nowhere. The fact that God uses a woman doesn’t always and necessarily mean that all the men are wimps.
  • The Creation Order and Sarah. Biblical principles do not equal biblical legislation, so we can still endorse general patterns while leaving room for exceptions.
  • The Lipstick Affair. Palin isn’t the pig, but she has gotten into Obama’s head.
  • Barak was a Great Warrior. The difference between absolutism and non-sinful exceptions. Here’s the answer to why one woman in office doesn’t necessarily make us all feminists.
  • The Politics of Blood. Why the McCain/Palin pro-life policy is worth supporting, even though their foreign policy may be less than desirable.
  • Democrats of the Shining Dawn. More on what the creation order means concerning women in office. Short answer: it’s alright as an anomaly, not a normalcy.
  • UPDATE [11:32AM September 27]: A Slow-Moving Pharaoh. Clarifying why slower destruction is not deliverance, as well as noting the problems with both urban feminism and a certain kind of homeschooling feminism.

It’s difficult to keep pace with Wilson’s prolificity, so I realize he may have posted three more articles while I compiled this list. I’ll try to append applicable new posts as they appear.

Ethics for a Can of Worms

As I said last week, failing to understand God’s created order makes for all kinds of futility. Then we received our hard copy of Credenda/Agenda (Summer 2008, Vol. 20 Issue 2) and were greeted by the following news briefs.

A report in April prepared by an ethics committee for the Swiss government has determined that plants have “inherent worth” and that human beings have no right to wield “absolute ownership” over aforementioned plants. Cases must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Arbitrarily picking a wildflower would be unethical, while a farmer mowing his field would be okay. We are glad that’s settled.

An appeal has been filed in the European Court of Human Rights located (for those who are curious) in Strasbourg, France, in which the appeal court is being asked to declare that Matthew, a 26-year-old chimp, is a person. This will just open up a can of worms, and if we open up a can of worms then somebody will want them to be all declared persons. And how do we count animal years to determine voting privileges?

These are just a couple examples of what happens when foolish hearts are darkened.

My Middle Name Is Fun

Dave Cleland continues his torrid posting with today’s, Our Youth Ministry is no Fun! Here’s a taste:

Students who love Jesus expect more than fun when they come to church….They come to church to be encouraged, admonished and taught the word of God. They are looking for a place where they can pray together, sing together and fellowship together. Those who seek to make their youth ministry fun often do so at the expense of Christian teens.

But make no mistake, Dave is fun.

Framing a Generation

There may be no better book in the Bible to confront our culture’s current issues than the book of Genesis. Our generation’s confusion about the roles of men and women is precarious, as is our understanding of marriage and family. We are a people thirsty for identity and purpose, yet our generation may be the emptiest ever. We are distressed about the condition of our planet, afraid we’ll wreck it or nuke it and deplete all our natural resources, so we campaign to save the whales and save the planet by thinking green. We argue about men descending from monkeys while simultaneously trying to build up their self-esteem. Personal and national standards of morality are weak, if existent at all. We are uncertain and unhopeful about the future, or simply unthinking and apathetic towards it.

We are disconnected. We are disconnected from each other. We are disengaged from dreams and drive and determination. We are dissociated from history and heritage. Most of all, we’re disconnected from God. So we are isolated and aimless. We have little, if any, structure of conviction to stabilize us. We are a wandering, wicked, formless generation disconnected from any story.

We need Genesis. In the book of Genesis, Moses tells the story of creation, of life, of humanity, and of God’s people. He doesn’t simply report the historical facts, he frames our entire way of looking at the world. Moses records the story of our ancestors, their relationships and their experiences, their triumphs and their defeats, their strengths and their defects, their rebellion and God’s faithfulness. More than that, he reveals the beginning of God’s eternal story of redemption through generations.

To tell this story, Moses built the book of Genesis on a pronounced literary structure. After a prologue/introduction in 1:1-2:3, the first seven days of creation, Moses weaves together 10 sections, all starting with the heading “These are the generations of X.”

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The key word is “generations.” It is the Hebrew word toledot (‏תּוֹלֵדוֹת). The word refers to that which is born or produced, in other words, the historical result. Half of the generation formulas in Genesis initiate a genealogy, a simple list of descendants owing their origin to the head figure (5:1; 10:1; 11:10; 25:12; 36:1). Those family trees establish historical context and credibility.

*

The other half of generation formulas, however, introduce more than lineage, they launch into “the story of X.” For example, “this is the story of” creation (2:4), the flood (6:9), Abraham’s life (11:27), Jacob’s life (25:19), and Joseph’s life (37:2). Moses uses this phrase to frame the narratives of Genesis.

The illustration of framing is probably obvious to most of us. When we frame a picture or painting, we mount the painting with borders that protect and typically accentuate it. When we frame a house, we shape the footprint and the floor-plan and create structural stability. In a figurative sense, we frame an argument or debate by directing attention on a particular issue and constructing boundaries so the participants know what is out of bounds.

So Moses framed the broad outline (the Roman numerals) of Genesis by generations. But through the story of ancient generations, he also builds the framework our generation needs for interpreting our observations and experiences, for responding to moral questions and hot button topics, and for what it means to live in relationship with fellow creatures and with our Creator.

This is why we need to study Genesis. In the book of Genesis, God–through Moses–builds and defines and supports and sets in place exactly some of the most necessary truths for framing any generation, including our own. Genesis gives six studs that frame our beliefs.

  1. Genesis frames our beliefs about HUMANITY.
  2. Genesis frames our beliefs about FAMILY.
  3. Genesis frames our beliefs about SOCIETY.
  4. Genesis frames our beliefs about HISTORY.
  5. Genesis frames our beliefs about MORALITY.
  6. Genesis frames our beliefs about THEOLOGY.

To listen to the message or read the notes for each point, click here.

One of the words thrown around during any study of Genesis is “worldview.” Genesis frames and defines our perspective and way of thinking about life on earth.

By framing our beliefs about humanity, family, society, history, morality, and theology, we learn who we are and what we’re to do, we learn where and when we do it, and how and why we do it.

What we think about elections and laws, our convictions about abortion, our attitude toward modesty (and clothing, it’s origin and purpose), our perspective on calling and vocation, our appreciation of marriage and family and kids, our approach toward art and culture, our position on the environment and global warming and tree-hugging, our outlook on the past and hope for the future, and our attitude toward science, are all framed by how we understand Genesis.

Moses framed Genesis by telling God’s story in generations to define and support his generation of God’s people. Genesis does the same for our generation, and frames our worldview and God-view. Genesis has divine, inerrant answers for every current cultural debate and international conflict. May God increase the convictions and confidence of His people in this generation, building them up and framing their beliefs according to His story in Genesis.

Catching Genesis

This Sunday I start my teaching trek through Genesis in one28. I already sense the thrill of paddling to catch the wave, but likewise sense the fear that at any moment the wave may upend me and pound me into the rocks.

Genesis 1Photo thanks to Roy’s World

I am excited about Genesis because it is (obviously) the explanation of the beginning of almost everything. Genesis casts God’s light of revelation on why we exist and what He made us to do. Not only that, any study in the Old Testament compliments the standard fare of current evangelical exposition. More time in OT study also lets me continue to work on my Hebrew, in which there is significant room to excel still more. I look forward to the challenge of accurately interpreting narrative and trying to communicate the story in a way consistent with the genre. And more than anything else, I’m eager to catch the gravity of the Creator/creature distinction and why we as image-bearers should be both head-bowed before Him and heads-up in fulfilling His mandate.

On the other hand, I am fearful to begin Genesis because I suspect it will take a lot of rear-in-the-seat time just to scratch the surface of the book. I haven’t spent much previous effort studying narrative and even less time preaching it. If insight is “the product of intensive, headache-producing meditation”1 then I may need some Costco size bottles of Tylenol in my attempt to subdue Genesis. I hope to move through the book quickly, but not too quickly. I want to show how it frames our present-day story, without missing the historical-providential-redemptive, all-by-itself importance of the text itself. And apart from all those things, I’m afraid I may also be confronted with my failure to enjoy the bounty God has provided for men in vegetables.2


  1. From John Piper’s chapter, “Brothers, Let Us Query the Text” in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, 75.
  2. Prior to the fall, men ate vegetables only, and somehow this was no quandary for the first couple living in paradise. So if there is something to enjoy about living in a Genesis 3 world, eating meat must make the list.

You think English is easy?

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  10. I did not object to the object.
  11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  13. They were too close to the door to close it.
  14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  18. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  19. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  20. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face it–English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese? One index, two indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

The Savanna Project

My friend, David W. Cleland, is now writing at and about The Savannah Project. He has moved a time zone, switched blogging platforms, and even converted blog genres (the third day of my week feels empty without Cat Tuesdays). More than that, he’s committed to planting a church in his hometown, a church he hopes will be rooted in the rich soil of God’s Word.

Discerning Repentance

One’s attitude does not produce discernment, like sadness can’t diagnose disease. On the other hand, the right attitude should be one of the results of discernment, like an accurate diagnosis may cause sorrow. As always, discernment flourishes only when energized by the light of doctrine.

Discernment is not created in God’s people by brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance. It is created by biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds. When that happens, then the brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance will have the strong fiber of the full counsel of God in them. They will be profoundly Christian and not merely religious and emotional and psychological.

Quoted from John Piper’s post, Test Revival with Doctrine.

How Do You Respond

One week ago I was minding my own business, working on something in my office when I received a text message on my iPhone. I suspected it was a one28 staff person letting me know they were unable to make it to our meeting later that evening, but when I looked at the snippet I didn’t recognize the number. I was even more surprised upon opening the entire message, and though they said they didn’t want a response, I sent one anyway. The following image is a screen capture of the original (in grey) and my response (in green). The only photo edit was to mask the final four digits of the phone number.

Wrong number