23 November 2014

The pinnacle of popularity

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from Words of Cheer, pages 55-56, Pilgrim Publications.
"A smiling world is worse than a frowning one."

She saith, “I cannot smite the man low with my repeated blows, I will take off my mailed glove, and showing him a fair, white hand, I’ll bid him kiss it. I will tell him I love him: I will flatter him, I will speak good words to him.”

John Bunyan well describes this Madam Bubble: she has a winning way with her; she drops a smile at the end of each of her sentences; she talks much of fair things, and tries to win and woo. Oh, believe me, Christians are not so much in danger when they are persecuted as when they are admired.

When we stand upon the pinnacle of popularity, we may well tremble and fear. It is not when we are hissed at, and hooted, that we have any cause to be alarmed; it is when we are dandled on the lap of fortune, and nursed upon the knees of the people; it is when all men speak well of us, that woe is unto us.

It is not in the cold, wintry wind that I take off my coat of righteousness, and throw it away; it is when the sun comes, when the weather is warm, and the air balmy, that I unguardedly strip off my robes, and become naked. Good God! how many a man has been made naked by the love of this world!

The world has flattered and applauded him; he has drunk the flattery; it was an intoxicating draught; he has staggered, he has reeled, he has sinned, he hast lost his reputation; and as a comet that erst flashed across the sky, doth wander far into space, and is lost in darkness, so doth he; great as he was, he falls; mighty as he was, he wanders, and is lost.

But the true child of God is never so; he is as safe when the world smiles, as when it frowns; he cares as little for her praise as for her dispraise. If he is praised, and it is true, he says, “My deeds deserve
praise, but I refer all honour to my God.” Great souls know what they merit from their critic; to them it is nothing more than the giving of their daily income.

Some men cannot live without a large amount of praise; and if they have no more than they deserve, let them have it. If they are children of God, they will be kept steady; they will not be ruined or spoiled; but they will stand with feet like hinds’ feet upon high places,—“This is the victory that overcometh the world.”

21 November 2014

Some here, some there — November 21, 2014

by Dan Phillips

Here's the first burst. I'll start some major adds after my Bible etc. reading, so check back. Priorities!

  • I go to Doug Wilson's site daily. But it may be a week, two or three, before something grabs me. Then when Doug's in the ten-ring, he is just In. The. Ten. Ring. Like this brilliant takedown of Greg Boyd.
  • Friends don't let friends indulge their revulsion against God's sovereignty. See Pinnock. See Boyd. See a host of others.
  • It often seems to be the case that when Doug is brilliant, he's brilliant by clusters. So the above was followed soon thereafter by Remanded to Sensitivity Camps, which is, well, brilliant. It's a thought from the same seedbed as this post, which even Challies admitted seeing.
  • Which makes it hard not also to recall:
  • Pause to reflect on the commentary that subsequent history added to both Tweets.
  • Now, to be fair: if anyone knows of any retractions and apologies — which is to say, any welcome deviations from PA#2 — let me know so that I can share.
  • Not related, and not theological, but still fairly awesome.
  • To us:
  • To the Pope:
  • In between? Don't know.
  • Used to be that Multnomah Press was a sure sign of Biblically-faithful Christian books. No longer. But in a rarity, the publisher is splitting into two labels, to deal with conservative titles and those that aren't so much. They're being up-front with buyers, that some of their titles are going away from Biblical fidelity. You know, just like Eerdmans, Baker, and Zondervan didn't.
  • Remember how Houston's lesbian mayor Annise Parker was seeking sermons and correspondence from some local pastors touching on homosexuality, her conduct in office, related matters? Remember how her legal team launched it, she doubled down, then she retracted? Turns out it seems to be ongoing.

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20 November 2014

"Remember Lot's Wife"

by Phil Johnson

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Phil back in November 2011. Phil used the account of Lot's wife to remind us of the dangers and consequences of "loving the world."

As usual, the comments are closed.
Lot began his career as a tent-dweller like Abraham. But after he parted from his uncle, Genesis 13:12 says "he pitched his tent toward Sodom." Soon he moved into the city and became comfortable there.

In fact, Lot apparently became a man of some importance in the community, because Genesis 19:1 says "Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom"—which tells us that he ultimately became a kind of civic official there. To have a claim on that place, you had to be someone of importance, recognized by everyone in the city.

As much as he may have enjoyed the comforts of city life, he never felt at home in Sodom. Peter tells us Lot's righteous soul was vexed every day by the wickedness of that city's rampant perversions (2 Peter 2:7-8). No matter how settled Lot became in Sodom, his heart was never at home in that city. He never came to love the debauchery and evil indulgences that characterized that place.

Mrs. Lot was different. She was attached to Sodom. If that city was not her home when Lot married her, it became her home in every sense. She grew to love to the place. No matter how evil it was, she did not want to leave. She probably loved being the wife of a prominent person in such a sophisticated, morally liberated city. There is no suggestion that her soul was vexed by the wickedness there.

First John 2:15 says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." That was precisely the thing that caused Mrs. Lot's downfall. She loved Sodom.

Why did she love that evil place so much? Because the love of the Father was not in her. Her values were worldly values. The things she loved were worldly things. She was a friend of the world, and therefore she was an enemy of God. And when faced with the necessity of fleeing a world that was perishing, with the way of divine deliverance open before her, she could not tear herself away from what she really loved.

Here is the danger of such a wayward love: First John 2 goes on to say, "For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."

You can think about it like this: you will spend eternity with whatever you truly love the most. If your heart is fixed on the things of the Lord; if you love righteousness; if you find your sweetest joy in fellowship with Him, that's where you will be throughout eternity. But if your affections are set on the things of this world, if what really delights you the most is the things that are passing away—if your life is characterized by the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life—then like Lot's wife you will perish in the destruction of all that you truly love.

19 November 2014

Pitting Holiness against Holiness

by The Late Frank Turk

As most of you know, I spent most of my childhood reading comic books in the peace and quiet of my room.  On one of those days, my youngest brother came in looking for some affection from his older brother who had his head in a comic book, and the lad innocently asked, "Frank: Who would win in a fight - the Hulk, or Captain America?"

Now: of course Cap would win in a fight, but that is not the point of this brief blog post.  The point is to look with some bewilderment at the question "Which is better: Justification or Sanctification?"

Some of you right now are recognizing that this post is reworked from another one which can't be found anymore on the internet, but I thought the matter was good enough to bring it back from oblivion.  Why? Because the point of theology is not to pit holinesss against holiness to see which one will win -- or whether one or the other is made less for its lack of victory.

Paul, to avoid that sort of untoward dismay, put it this way to good Timothy: "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."  In Paul's view, it was not a question of whether justification was better than sanctification: rather, it was that justification created sanctification, and those who were teaching and doing otherwise were jangling in vain.

Of course Jesus comes first; of course we are nothing but sinful wretches without him; of course good works do not save us and we have no confidence in them for that.  But for us to say that the good works are therefore not "better" than that which makes them possible seems to forget that we are justified for the sake of doing good works, or as Paul also said, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

When my brother asked me if a Gamma-Ray mutant could smash the Sentinel of Liberty, he was asking me a question to show how much he knew about something I definitely loved.  He was trying to connect with me over something which should be some common ground -- and at 5 years old, he didn't realize it wasn't the smashing which we both enjoyed most of all.  There's something like that going on here.  I think those of us who are in various stages of reformed intoxication ought to be careful of it. We should be much more worried that we have idolized one kind of holiness in such a way that it has dismantled and buried another kind of holiness which God says is part of the total package.  It leads us to say things like, "my sanctification is more imaged than real," which is an explicit denial of WCF XVI.2 and XVI.3 -- not to mention the letter of James and the last half of the letter to the Galatians.

While we may affectionately ask the question which is "better" in order to establish our bona fides amongst ourselves, the truth is that somehow the thing which ought to be caused is the way we do the things God expects us to do -- and it causes the ordinary grace God has ordained in this world which shows the lost who God really is.

We certainly have an invisible and invincible holiness, but if it doesn't cause a holiness which the world sees and is conflicted over -- that is, one with a beauty it cannot deny, but also it cannot resist hating -- what kind of holiness is that?

This brings to mind another personal anecdote.  When my son was a baby, he was of course the most precious and fantastic child ever born (until his sister was born, at which time I was overcome by the number of perfect children God had given me and my wife) -- but he was also quite perplexed by vocabulary.  For example, every kind of non-vegetable was called "chicken".  And in this state of minimalistic linguistic development, he was frequently out of words for what he meant to say or what he wanted to say -- so much so that he quickly mastered one phrase with gusto: "I! CAN'T! DO! IT!"

This occurred to me recently as he went on a ministry trip with his youth pastor and some of his guys to the local juvenile detention center to share the Gospel with some of the fellows there.  As we debriefed on the way home, my dear lad was telling me of this young fellow he spoke with who said he accepted Jesus, but wasn't sure that he was ready to turn away from sin.  This young fellow confided to my son, "I guess I just have to do better."

My boy had been waiting for more than 15 years to say this to a person for a theological reason, and he was quite proud to tell me that his response to this incarcerated fellow was, "But you! can't! do it!"

Which, of course, sounds a lot like reformed theology -- or at least one kind of reformed theology.  Of course nobody over here affirms that we do anything for justification, or denies that even the regeneration necessary to receive justification is God's work.  But sometimes (as we visited above) we get it in our heads that because we cannot earn justification, justification is better than sanctification, and that somehow being holy ought to cause us to be unburdened by actually being holy.  Because that fellow in prison thought that his participation in the holiness God gives to those who are in Christ is optional, or some kind of hobby, he sounds suspiciously like someone who says something like, "I am so thankful for my right standing with God because, after all, my sanctification is more imagined than real. But my justification is more real than imagined."

Compare that to Spurgeon's recent tweet in the same vein:

Spurgeon doesn't say his sanctification is mostly imaginary: he says that sin becomes more obvious and our grief over it increases as we draw nearer to God.  Paul, the greatest of sinners (he says), doesn't for a moment doubt he is not yet perfect -- but he also doesn't see that as a ground for saying that his justification is somehow better than his sanctification (or vice versa).  It seems to me that the same fellow who wrote 1Tim 1:15 also wrote 1Cor 11:1a.  For Paul, it's not a question of which is better -- one adorns the other, and one causes or draws out the other.  They are both necessary, and one is not a Christian without both.

So as my boy and I discussed this fellow in prison who is not ready to "try harder," we didn't discuss the fantastic irony and religious metaphor he found.  We discussed the idea that while we don't do a thing to be saved by God -- the saving is all of God -- saved people have something right now to show for this salvation.  We aren't pitting an eternal decree of holiness against an immediate inclination toward holy deeds, or shouldn't be anyway.  We are glorifying God, and enjoying him for ever, starting right now.

18 November 2014

Here, let me help you help yourself

by Dan Phillips

FirstWe get inquiries all the time like "What is an RPB?" and "Have you written on ____?" I'm here to help you with that.

We know readers (surely!) don't expect us to drop everything and do their searching for them, or re-write what we've already put out in public. But perhaps they lack some skills for finding the information they're after fairly easily, themselves.

Here's the easiest way to do it, as simply as I can put it. Let's say you're asking "What's an RPB?"
  1. Go to Google.
  2. In the Search field, type RPB site:teampyro.blogspot.com.
  3. Click on the Google Search button, and voila! there's your answer.
You can use that formula for any other word or topic. Just substitute prophecy or schmerodactyl whatever for RPB in the example, above.

If you're using Chrome, it's even easier. If the address field above doesn't already say teampyro.blogspot.com, then just click on our banner at the top and it will. Then stick in RPB site: to the left of the address, and do your search from there.

In either case, Google will search for the word or words you type to the left of "site." If you want to search for an exact phrase, put it in quotation-marks, like so:

"leaky canon" site:teampyro.blogspot.com

SecondWe also get, "Do you have an email address?"

Well, of course we do. And they're public-knowledge.

Click on our names in the side-column. Frank's takes you to a page that lists an email address. Mine takes you to my personal blog where, in the side column, you'll actually see a link that says "My profile, email, the whole nine." Which is kind of a giveaway

This is partly to help you, and partly to save Frank and myself time, so...

You're welcome!

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16 November 2014

Your creed must bend to the Bible

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from Words of Counsel, pages 35-36. Pilgrim Publications.
The path of obedience is generally a middle path. “Turn not from it, to the right hand or to the left.”

There is sure to be a right hand, there is sure to be a left hand, and both are probably wrong. There will be extremes on either side. I believe that this is true in ten thousand things in ordinary life, and also true, in spiritual things in very many respects.

The path of truth in doctrine is generally a middle one. There are certain tremendous truths, such as divine sovereignty, the doctrine of election, covenant transactions, and so forth; and some men cast such a loving eye upon these truths that they desire to be, and are, quite blind to all other truths besides.

These great and precious doctrines take up the whole field of their vision, and another and equally valuable part of God’s Word is either left unread, or else twisted round into some supposed reconciliation with the first-named truths.

Then, again, there are others who think much of man. They have deep sympathy with the human race. They see man’s sin and ruin, and they are much charmed with the mercy of God and the invitations of the gospel which are given to sinners, and they become so entranced with these truths in connection with the responsibility of man, and man’s free agency, that they will see nothing else, and declare all other doctrines, except these, to be delusions.

If they admit the doctrines of grace to be true, they think them valueless, but they generally consider them to be untrue altogether.

It seems to me that the path of truth is to believe them both; to hold firmly that salvation is by grace, and to hold with equal firmness that the ruin of any man is wholly and entirely his own fault; to maintain the sovereignty of God, and to hold the responsibility of man also; to believe in the free agency of both God and man; neither to dishonour God by making Him a lacquey to His creatures’ will, nor, on the other hand, to rid man of all responsibility, by making him to be a mere log or a machine.

Take all that is in the Bible to be true. Never be afraid of any text that is written by the sacred pen. When you turn the pages over, I do hope you never feel as if you wish that any verse could be altered. I trust you never desire that any text might be amended so as to read a little more Calvinistic, or a little more like the teaching of Arminius.

Always stand to it that your creed must bend to the Bible, and not the Bible to your creed, and dare to be a little inconsistent with yourselves, if need be, sooner than be inconsistent with God’s revealed truth.

15 November 2014

Annual Turkey Recipe

By Frank Turk

Just a picture from the Internet
I'm trying to escape the tradition of posting this too late for you to use it, so I'm tossing it up as a weekend extra.  For those who are opposed to Turkey, it also works great on Chicken.  It makes utterly-lousy Pizza.

You do not have to be "truly reformed" to use this recipe. You just have to like Turkey and stuffing.

Roasting a turkey isn't as hard as it sounds. Here's a basic recipe to get you started. In this case, the turkey is stuffed. DO NOT stuff the turkey and put it in the fridge overnight: that's bacteriologically a bad idea, and we want you all to enjoy Thanksgiving on the sofa, not on a hospital gurney.


12- to 14-lb. turkey, thawed if purchased frozen
1 bag, your favorite "Italian" croutons
2-4 bouillon cubes
2-3 stalks, celery, chopper or cubed
1 cup carrots, chopped
½ cup onions, finely chopped
1 tsp, dried parsley
1 cup, cashews
Pepper and Garlic Salt

  1. Preheat your oven to 325. Remove the cooking racks, then place one rack into oven at the lowest position.
  2. Unwrap your THAWED Turkey in a clean sink, and remove the giblets – that bag of stuff that you never thought you would use for anything because it looks gross. It's not gross. You may have to unhook the metal clip which holds the legs together in order to get all the giblets out; you may have to run some warm water into the bird to get the giblets out. Don't be afraid.
  3. Start a medium-sized pot of water boiling – not more than 3 cups. Put your packet of giblets in the water (sans wrapping paper), along with your bouillon cubes and the carrots, celery and parlsey. 2 cubes will make a somewhat-mild flavored stuffing; 6 will make a very salty and spicy stuffing. You know what you like best, so add the cubes to the low end of your tolerance for spicy. For your reference, I usually use 4 cubes. Boil this mix for about 30 minutes – long enough to cook the giblets thoroughly.
  4. While the soup (yes: you very smart readers knew that we were making soup, didn't you?) is cooking, wash the Turkey thoroughly, inside and out. I wouldn't use soap as you might miss a spot in the rinse and ruin your hours of hard work here, but washing the bird is an important health safety tip. If we were deep frying the bird (that's the Christmas recipe), washing is pretty much unimportant because if some germ can survive the deep fryer, it will kill you before you eat any of the dinner. Anyway, clean the bird thoroughly and put it in a large roasting pan. For this recipe, the deeper the roasting pan, the better. I suggest a large disposable roasting pan from WAL*MART even though it might possibly ring up at the wrong price.

    If you get bored waiting for the soup to finish up, this would be a good time to rub salt and pepper into the skin of your bird. Visually, salt and pepper the skin so that it looks like very light TV static. Do the top (the breast side) and the bottom (where the shoulders are); do not worry if you put less on the breast side. Because of the way this bird is going to cook, pay special attention to salting and peppering the wings and drumsticks.
  5. You now have a clean, prepped bird and a very delicious-smelling pot of soup. You have to make stuffing now. Remove the soup from the heat and remove the giblets. If you are a complete carnivore (like me), take the fully-cooked giblets to your food chopper and chop them up and put them back into the soup (you can't chop up the neck, but if you have 20 minutes, de-bone the neck and put your neck meat into the soup).

    Those of you grossed out by chopping up the giblets can throw them away. The rest of us will weep for you.

    Now empty the bag of croutons into the soup. If you used about 2 cups of water, you will get a somewhat-damp bread-and-soup mixture; if you used about 3 cups of water, you will get a very wet bread-and-soup mixture. I like the latter better, but some people like their stuffing more dry than others. The extraordinary secret here is that a soupier stuffing makes for a more-moist bird in the final product. After the soup and the bread are well- mixed, add the cashews and mix again.
  6. When you have this mixing complete, use a tablespoon and start loading the stuffing into the bird. Pack the stuffing down into the bird to get the cavity of the body completely full of stuffing. Don't leave any air pockets. Once the Turkey is completely stuffed, position it in the roasting tray breast-side down (I learned that from watching Emeril) in the center of the pan, and load the pan with the rest of your stuffing mix.
  7. Cover the Turkey, and place it inside your oven. After 2 hours in the heat, remove the cover and roast for another hour. In this final hour, the skin of the exposed parts should turn golden brown. At the end of the third hour, test the bird with a meat thermometer; the center temperature should be 175-180 degrees F. It will be the most unbelievable bird you every ate.