30 January 2015

Some Here, Some There — January 30, 2015

by Dan Phillips

Short post this week, at least for starters. And probably for keeps, though we'll see.
  • Indeed, Christopher Ames hits very hard at the "We need prestige desperately" impulse that seems to drive many Top Men and their attendants.
  • Things I Wonder: does Christianity Today have an Invention-of-squeakingly-self-important-angsty-titles Department?
  • It was great seeing all of you who supported the Sufficient Fire conference by coming last week. Phil, Frank, and I had a wonderful time bringing the word and meeting you all. David Regier was there and gave me a gift by providing his expert mad piano skilz as I sat at the (excellent) visiting musicians' drum set. David's a pro; I never was, and haven't touched a drum set in probably 5 years or more. But here is the part that Bill O'Neill — who travelled all the way from Vermont — captured:
  • To quote the late great Terry Kath, for my part of it, "It was fun! I don't know about anything else."
  • It was a terrific time, overall. Phil and Frank's talks were tremendous, the mood was joyous, and the fellowship was choice. Josh Feinberg organized the whole with many wonderful volunteers helping him. Praise God that overall, the event itself was a...
  • People who did not come ask if the sessions will be online. They are not at present. I'll let you know if that changes. But if you want to support what we did and would like to support our making it available, contact Josh Feinberg. He'll show you how.

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29 January 2015

Watch your language, Guard your relationships

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 October 2009. Phil offered his thoughts on Eph 5:3-6 and its application in our day.

As usual, the comments are closed.
We often hear people suggest that because the apostle Paul used the word skubalon, (translated fittingly as "dung" in the KJV), scatology has thereby been sanctified. Have at it. If Paul could say that, nothing should be taboo. Christians nowadays likewise try to justify even worse kinds of crudeness on the grounds that Paul spoke harshly and indelicately about the Judaizers in Galatians 5:12. (He hinted that since they believed circumcision makes a person holier, they ought to take their doctrine to the next level and emasculate themselves.) I've responded to those argumentsrepeatedly.

But notice what Paul himself said about lewd and off-color language. He classifies it as impurity in Ephesians 5:3-6, where he treats indecent language as one of several worldly substitutes for love. The Greek term Paul uses is akatharsia, a word that refers to every kind of filth and pollution—"uncleanness" in the KJV. Paul is talking about real spiritual uncleanness, not ceremonial defilement, but moral filth.

And when he gives some specific examples of akatharsia in verse 4, all of them have to do with the misuse of language: "obscenity," "foolish talk," and "coarse jesting." He is talking about the words we use, the things we talk about, and the spirit of our conversation. He covers all the bases.

Look at any of Satan's strongholds; any place where wickedness operates unrestrained; wherever you find a band of thieves or a federation of scoundrels—from the juvenile gangs that roam our streets to the old-men's club that hangs out at the neighborhood tavern. "Filthiness . . . foolish talk [and] crude joking" are always their main stock in trade. That's what will consume the leisure time they spend together. Because those are the main badges of fleshly fellowship, and that is the glue that substitutes for authentic love in virtually every worldly fraternity. That is exactly what Paul is describing, and he says, Don't let such things characterize your fellowship with one another.

In order to obey the principle Paul sets forth here, we need to be intentionally counter-cultural, because our culture values evil companionship much more than wholesome love. Have you ever considered the degree to which this is true? "Filthiness . . . silly talk, [and] coarse jesting" are virtually the trademarks of secular society. Vile language, crude subject matter, silly talk, and sheer folly are the main currency of the contemporary entertainment industry. The corrupt notion of brotherhood Paul is attacking here is exactly what most of our culture has substituted in the place of real love.

That's why movies are filled with dirty words and smutty themes. That's why contemporary comedy is so dependent on vile language and filthy subject matter to get a laugh. Situation comedies on television used to feature families and plot lines. Now they are shows about nothing dealing mainly with relationships between friends who are unmarried, unattached, and lacking any discernible direction in their lives. "Filthiness . . . foolish talk[, and] crude joking" describes about 99 percent of the content of programs like that.

Our culture insists those things are perfectly benign, but Paul says they are not. Carnal camaraderie is practically the antithesis of true, godly love. Crude language, filthy joking, and risque entertainment are "not fitting" for Christians. They have no place in the Christian's walk. Verse 12: "For it is a shame even to speak of those things which [they do in secret]." Keep those things out of your life. More than that, keep references to things like that out of your conversation, Paul says.

And notice this: he categorizes spicy talk about frivolous subject matter along with some of the most serious of all sins. Don't get addicted to that brand of language and humor, and especially don't allow that kind of companionship to characterize your own life.

27 January 2015

Red lights

by Dan Phillips

It occurred to me that many might be served if we offered warning-signs of (at worst) false or (at best) unreliable teachers. Here are a number of such indicators. Some are instantly obvious; others only over the passage of time (cf. 1 Tim. 5:24).

Any one of these should signal alarm. Found all together in the same person, trainwreck is assured.
  1. He seems more energized about "gray areas" and supposed lacunae in the Bible than he is about the crystal-clear fundamentals (contrast 1 Cor. 15:1ff.).
  2. He casts doubt on the existence of crystal-clear fundamentals, or makes much of their putatively subjective, varied nature (1 Tim. 6:3-5).
  3. He seems to sow many seeds of doubt about Biblical teaching, while at the same time sowing no such seeds about his own (Col. 2:18; 1 Tim. 1:4).
  4. He's always running after the Cool Kidz' position or concern of the day (Gal. 1:10).
  5. The Gospel is, at best, an afterthought (contra 1 Cor. 1:17).
  6. The designed effect of his presentations is that people come away thinking a lot about him, and little about the text and the God who is seen through the text (Gal. 4:17). Relatedly...
  7. Any hopes that saints can know truth certainly for themselves (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1) are buried under assertions or implications that he knows truth for them.
  8. He talks about things God says to him personally that He doesn't say to anyone else (Col. 2:18, Gk).
  9. "What verse are we on?" is usually hard to answer (Isa. 8:20).
  10. He's very excited about brand-new, bleeding-edge movements that anyone with a whiff of historical sense can see as failed diversions from the 1920s (cf. Jude 4, 17-19).
  11. His chest-pounding rhetoric quickly collapses into squealing victimhood under the least solid criticism (1 Cor. 4:19).
  12. He's always the hero of his personal stories (contra 2 Cor. 4:5).
  13. He often hides behind paper-thin clichés (Col. 2:21-22).
  14. His dependence on paper-thin clichés suggests that he keeps to a very small circle, one closely resembling an echo-chamber (2 Cor. 10:12b).
  15. He is rightly best known for something other than his clear, forceful, passionate, focused declaration of the Gospel and Word of God (contra 2 Cor. 8:18).
  16. He gives reason to suspect that it's more important to him to amaze, amuse and impress, to his own glory, than to reprove, rebuke and exhort by preaching God's word to God's glory (2 Tim. 4:1-5).
  17. It would not affect much of his preaching if Christ had not been raised (contra 1 Cor. 2:2; 15:14).
  18. Had a meteoric rise to prominence while still quite young, without much dues-paying and/or apprenticeship to a faithful man or men... and his name doesn't rhyme with "Marles Murgeon" (1 Tim. 3:6).
  19. People who hate God and God's law really like him and his preaching (cf. Luke 6:26).
  20. Doesn't have much time for nobodies who can't do anything for him (Mark 10:43).
  21. The depth of his theological reading seems to go back about five years, if that (cf. Acts 17:21).
  22. He's pretty much the issue. Not the Gospel, not the Word; not the uncomfortable edges that any faithful preacher of the Word would preach. Him (contra 2 Cor. 4:5).
  23. He makes a big deal of how God is bigger than the Bible. Metaphysically, the point is so obvious as not to need saying; so usually when someone makes a big point of it, "bigger than the Bible" is code for "other than what the Bible says" (Deut. 4:12; Isa. 8:20). Similarly:...
  24. He makes a big deal of how we don't worship book. Again, the point is so obvious and undisputed as not to need saying. Also often code for "need not worship according to this book" (Leviticus 10:1ff.).

(This list may well grow, as Phillips' Axioms has.)

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25 January 2015

Woodworking 101

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 The Gospel of the Kingdom, page 41, Pilgrim Publications.
"The judging faculty is best employed at home." 

Our tendency is to spy out splinters in other men’s eyes, and not to see the beam in our own. Instead of beholding, with gratified gaze, the small fault of another, we should act reasonably if we penitently considered the greater fault of ourselves.

It is the beam in our own eye which blinds us to our own wrongdoing; but such blindness does not suffice to excuse us, since it evidently does not shut our eyes to the little error of our brother. Officiousness pretends to play the oculist; but in very truth it plays the fool.

Fancy a man with a beam in his eye pretending to deal with so tender a part as the eye of another, and attempting to remove so tiny a thing as a mote or splinter! Is he not a hypocrite to pretend to be so concerned about other men’s eyes, and yet he never attends to his own?

Jesus is gentle, but he calls that man a “hypocrite” who fusses about small things in others, and pays no attention to great matters at home in his own person. Our reformations must begin with ourselves, or they are not true, and do not spring from a right motive.

Sin we may rebuke, but not if we indulge it. We may protest against evil, but not if we willfully practise it. The Pharisees were great at censuring, but slow at amending. Our Lord will not have his kingdom made up of hypocritical theorists, he calls for practical obedience to the rules of holiness.

After we are ourselves sanctified, we are bound to be eyes to the blind, and correctors of unholy living; but not till then. Till we have personal piety, our preaching of godliness is sheer hypocrisy. May none of us provoke the Lord to say to us, "Thou hypocrite"!

23 January 2015


by Dan Phillips

If you want to learn how to support extending the reach of the conference, contact Josh Feinberg.

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22 January 2015

"Sufficient Fire"

by Dan Phillips

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 Dan back in May 2012.

As usual, the comments are closed.
I think the truth of the sufficiency of Scripture may be the central Biblical doctrine under attack in our day.  Of course cults, heresies and false religions attack it, as they must. What is saddest to see is all the "friendly" fire that well-meaning obsessives have leveled with a boldness that seems to be on the increase.

I've come at this topic "at sundry times and in divers manners," including here, here, and here, among many others.

Sunday was part three of our Thinking Biblically series at CBC, and the sufficiency of Scripture was one of the foci of the sermon titled What Should We Do with the Bible? (That and, well, once again too many other things.) I'll lift out a part of the sermon, part that actually wasn't in the notes.

I grant that my efforts may not have convinced everyone, though I will keep trying. But virtually all remotely-sound Christians will at least give a nod to the proviso that yes, yes, yes, the Bible is God's Word, and yes, it's some kind of sufficient, and no, no hemi-demi-semi-kindasorta revelation can displace it — well, not formally, anyway.

So agree with me on this. If you really believe what you say you really believe, this should be no problem. Here we go:

Agree heartily to believe in and use Scripture as befits what it claims about itself. Treat it like it is what you say you believe it is: God's actual, real-live, inerrant, personal, living and powerful Word. Approach it as you would actually approach such a treasure as you profess to affirm to have found in Scripture.

That is, pledge yourself exclusively to seek God and His will according to Scripture. Pray only for light to understand Scripture (cf. Psa. 119:18; 2 Tim. 4:7). Commit yourself only to regard what comes from Scripture as God's binding will for you. Set aside all the yeah-buts and evasions and distractions and special-pleadings and fourteenth-hand stories and traditions, for a time.

Set yourself to seeking and being in a church that emphatically teaches the Bible as if it were what it says it is, that devotes itself to the exposition and proclamation and practice of Scripture as God's inerrant word, without the endless distractions of entertainment and fads and dancing bears.

Devote yourself exclusively to studying Scripture, all sixty-six books. Set yourself to master every book, every chapter, every verse, every word. Seek perfect understanding of all of Scripture, and Scripture only, as containing what God really wants you to know. Memorize all of it.

Finally (and at the same time) commit yourself to practicing Scripture perfectly. All of it. Master it, and be mastered by it — exclusively. If it is not Bible or a valid straight-line application of the Bible, do not claim it as any level of special revelation from God.

20 January 2015

See you soon!

by Dan Phillips

Howdy, as we say in Texas.

As we're looking forward to seeing y'all in just a few days, preparations are going on busily all over. That includes the pastor's study!

So for once I'm not going to pare off the time to shape and shine and perfect a post. What we're all doing, including what I'm doing, will show in what you enjoy when you sit down with us here for our first-ever back-together-again-for-the-first-time Pyromaniacs Sufficient Fire conference.

It's stacking up to be a fun, encouraging, edifying time. We all appreciate your prayers.

According to the weather, bring warm clothes and a rain jacket.

See you Friday!

PS — if you're unable to come but want to support what we're doing, contact Josh Feinberg.

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18 January 2015

Sufficient Fire Edition

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 The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 20, sermon number 1,208, "Infallibility--Where to find it and how to use it."
"He had a great choice of weapons with which to fight with Satan, but he took none but this sword of the Spirit—'It is written.'" 

Our Lord might have overcome Satan by angelic force; He had only to pray to his Father, and he would presently have sent him twelve legions of angels, against whose mighty rush the arch-fiend could not have stood for a single moment. If our Lord had but exercised his godhead, a single word would have sent the tempter back to his infernal den.

But instead of angelic power or divine he used, “It is written”; thus teaching his church that she is never to call in the aid of force, or use carnal weapons, but must trust alone in the omnipotence which dwells in the sure word of testimony.

This is our battle-ax and weapon of war. The patronages or the constraints of civil power are not for us. And neither dare we use either bribes or threats to make men Christians: a spiritual kingdom must be set up and supported by spiritual means only.

Our Lord might have defeated the tempter by unveiling his own glory. The brightness of the divine majesty was hidden within the humility of his manhood, and if he had lifted the veil for a moment the fiend would have been as utterly confounded as bats and owls when the sun blazes in their faces. But Jesus deigned to conceal his excellent majesty, and only to defend himself with, “It is written.”

Our Master might also have assailed Satan with rhetoric and logic. Why did he not discuss the points with him as they arose? Here were three different propositions to be discussed, but our Lord confined himself to the one argument, “It is written.”

Now, beloved, if our Lord and Master, with all the choice of weapons which he might have had, nevertheless selected this true Jerusalem blade of the Word of God, let us not hesitate for a moment, but grasp and hold fast this one and only weapon of the saints in all times. Cast away the wooden sword of carnal reasoning; trust not in human eloquence, but arm yourselves with the solemn declarations of God, who cannot lie, and you need not fear Satan and all his hosts. Jesus, we may be sure, selected the best weapon, and what was best for him is best for you.

You have only to turn over your Bibles, find a text, and hurl that at Satan, like a stone from David’s sling, and you will win the battle. “It is written,” and what is written is infallible; here is your strength
in argument. “It is written.” God has said it; that is enough. O blessed sword and shield which the little child can use to purpose, fit also for the illiterate and simple-hearted, giving might to the feeble-minded, and conquest to the weak.

16 January 2015

Some Here, Some There — January 16, 2015

by Dan Phillips

Here y'go, in the last post before the Conference!

BTW, catch me for a full hour on The Janet Mefferd Show today, Friday, from 3pm-4pm Texas time.
  • When someone uses "God is not the author of confusion" in reference to feelings of confusion in discerning God's personal will, you can rest assured that you are in the presence of someone to whom "exegesis" is, at best, a Scrabble word.
  • You're welcome.
  • Todd Pruitt brings the goods on Beth Moore, who he calls a prophet for an undiscerning church. Like Pat Robertson, like Todd Bentley, like Perry Noble, like Mark Driscoll, like Joseph Smith, like Ellen G. White, and like a host of others, Moore has "Jesus" tell her things He doesn't tell anyone else.
  • You see, this is why the Sufficient Fire conference is so needed. Go now, find out if any registrations are still available, and come.
  • Did I mention Perry Noble? You all know about Noble's crazy statements about the Ten Commandments and Hebrew. Well now he's issued an apology of sorts, which in itself is rare enough in the God-tells-me-stuff-He-doesn't-tell-you set.
  • You see, parenthetically, if God tells you stuff straight-up...why bother studying Hebrew?
  • Concerning Noble's apology, Fred Butler has offered his thoughts in a careful, nuanced, helpful post sensitively subtitled It's All God's Fault I'm an Idiot.
  • Which all just goes to show you that...
  • Also, James Duncan responds to Noble's "apology."
  • Over at The Gate of Crippledness (got my Hebrew on), Steven Ingrino offers a detailed survey of books he does and doesn't find helpful in expounding the Gospel of Mark.
  • At that same blog, the gate was left slightly ajar, allowing this stray entry.
  • I will admit I'm small enough that I wondered if delicate souls who have blocked me and removed Pyro from their blogrolls — but who do still read Cripplegate — had a pea under their mattress that day.
  • Carl Trueman defends Beth Moore.
  • OK, not really. But it was fun writing it, and it was fun picturing Carl's eyebrows as he read it.
  • So the government will test the religion of homeschooled kids and see if they need to jail the parents. Where, East Germany? Nope; right here, in Oba-merica. In Virginia, no less. [See update in comments, below.]
  • Here are the doors to the dream church, in many Christians' minds:
  • On Texas in the early days: "Texas seemed to have more Baptists than people..." Texas hasn't changed. Nor have Baptist math-skills. Interesting read.
  • Phil Johnson updates and comments on the controversy surrounding the book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, written portentously enough by a gent called Malarkey.
  • From Pulpit and Pen comes some very troubling backstory. (h-t Robert Sakovich)
  • I invented a cartoon superhero when I was a yoot, trying to draw. His name was Malarkey Man. Little-known fact. You're welcome.
  • In our family, we (or at least I) would call this "yet another unmarketable talent."
  • Lyndon Unger, the Bare-knuck Canuck, continues getting Biblely about "shacking up" (i.e. serial fornication by roommates), in part two of his series.
  • I would not be caught dead using (or thinking) the "the Gospel is true because it's good news) argument. That said, I'm having real trouble understanding how "Your life is short and meaningless and the universe cares nothing for you" is better news than the Gospel.
Updates possible through noon.

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13 January 2015

Tip: thinking of teaching/preaching Philippians? Not...just...yet

by Dan Phillips

Next month an absolutely splendid commentary on Philippians is coming in the Mentor Commentary series. It's by my friend Dr. Matthew Harmon, Professor of NT Studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, IN.

The good doctor did me the favor of checking my translations and Greek comments in The World-Tilting Gospel. Then, turnabout being fair play, Matt asked me to read and offer pastoral comments on his manuscript for this commentary. I was happy to oblige.

...and, as I went through the manuscript, I was happier and happier that I'd obliged! It's rare to find a commentary that reflects top-notch academics and a heart warm with passion for Christ and His Gospel. But that's just what you find in this volume. Harmon has done the church a real service, and set an example for Christian academics. I see this volume being used for years to come.

Get the word out. Mentor doesn't have the publicity machinery that Crossway and others have, so this book would be well-served by enthusiastic word-of-mouth. I'm seeing hopeful signs that those who have the ears of many won't let this one languish in obscurity, and that's very, very good. I hope they give it the notice it deserves, so it can gain the audience it should have.

Which is just what I'm doing right now.

For my part, I wouldn't want to preach or teach through Philippians without Harmon's book on my shelf.

Pre-order it, and you won't be sorry.

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11 January 2015

Our Heavenly heritage

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 According to Promise, pages 49-50, Pilgrim Publications.
"The Lord graciously gives us even now all things necessary for this life and godliness; but his choicest blessings are held in reserve for time to come."

Grace given to us from day to day is our spending money for travelling expenses on the road home; but it is not our estate. Providential supplies are rations on the march, but not the ultimate feast of love. We may miss these wayside meals, but we are bound for The Supper of The Lamb.

Thieves may rob us of our ready cash; but our peculiar treasure is hid with Christ in God beyond all fear of loss. The hand which bled to make this treasure ours is keeping it for us. It is a great joy to have a full assurance of our interest in the promises: but this joyful feeling we may lose, and we may find it hard to get it again, and yet the eternal inheritance will be quite as truly ours.

It is as though a man should have in his hand a fair copy of his title-deeds, and should much delight himself in reading it until by some mischance his copy is stolen or mislaid. The loss of his writings is not the loss of his rights. His comfortable reading of the title-deed is suspended, but his claim to his property is not shaken.

The covenant promise is entailed upon every joint-heir with Christ, and there is no such thing as the breaking of this entail. Many an event may tend to shake the believer’s sense of security, but “the promise is sure to all the seed.” Our greatest possession lies not in any present comfort or confidence which we receive from the promise but in the promise itself, and in the glorious heritage which it secures to us.

Our inheritance lies not on this side Jordan. Our city of habitation is not within the borders of the present: we see it from afar, but we wait for its full enjoyment in that illustrious day when our covenant Head shall be revealed in his glory, and all his people with him. God’s providence is our earthly pension; but God’s promise is our heavenly heritage.

09 January 2015

Some Here, Some There — January 9, 2015

by Dan Phillips

Here we go. Remember, this is likely to receive updates through noon, TX time.
  • Here's a thoughtful dad's-eye review of the recent Disney musical Into the Woods. Unfortunately it's a Roman Catholic rather than Christian perspective, but still instructive.
  • I just saw, and loved, Through The Eyes of Spurgeon. Great film, joy to watch. I recommend it heartily.
  • Only two nits would I pick. One is, I didn't love the suggestion that Spurgeon was bipolar. It struck me as anachronistic and, as one who knew well someone afflicted with that disorder, not a good fit.
  • The other: I didn't love the suggestion that "Bishop" Vinter had lied to Spurgeon to get him to preach the first time. So I've put up the story in Spugeon's own words.
  • So here's another step in America's march towards an Are-you-now-or-have-you-ever-been-a-Bible-believing-Christian? society: Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran fired (no pun) for being a known Christian.
  • Kevin Bauder has been doing a series on The Gospel Coalition, noting the oddities in its actual alliances and shunnings. Most recently, he notes its embrace of charismaticism. Bauder notes that "charismatic theology leads to some truly vicious extremes, a tendency that produces two other problems. The first is that even the more moderate charismatics (who may personally repudiate those extremes) seem unable to apply any sort of theological brake to charismatic thought as a whole. The second is that charismatics tend to embrace extreme figures on the basis of their shared charismatic experience." I do believe he's playing our song...or we, his. Either way, same song.
  • If you think you'll never hear a professed Christian trying to weekend-at-Bernie's the concept of shacking up... well, enjoy your stay in Neverland. Meanwhile here on Earth, Lyndon Unger begins a series on the subject with a robust affirmation of the sufficiency of Scripture.
  • On that topic, seriously, openings for the Sufficient Fire Conference are dwindling and unlikely to last too long: so register, and come.
  • Remember how the PCUSA jumped the sharked decades ago when it defrocked faithful witness J. Gresham Machen? And you know how relatively Biblically faithful people still choose to stay-in, you know, to be "witnesses"? You know what the PCUSA does to folks like that when they get too noticeable? Well... it defrocks them.
  • Duh!
  • Think of all the things the PCUSA doesn't care whether its ministers do. And it doesn't care if you disagree... as long as you keep the money coming in. But wait... shouldn't the Machen matter have taught us that?
  • So: are you not feeling enough of a cowardly, rutted failure at personal witnessing? No? Here, let me help:
  • You're welcome. (H-T David Murray)
  • Thom Rainer offers a post with a looong meta on the topic of church announcements. Years ago a pastor-friend's announcements seemed to go on forever, and I commended shortening them since he was simply restating what was already in the bulletin. He did shorten them, and said the result was that nobody knew what was happening, because they were used to not reading their bulletins.
  • One's tempted sometimes to say "We have a variety of meetings through the week. But you already know that. So let's pray and take the offering."
  • As long as we're dealing with things-that-are-bring-reconsidered, here are Bob Hayton's thoughts on the Sunday Evening Service. Hayton leans against, but links to arguments of the opposing view.

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06 January 2015

Top Ten Pyro Posts of 2014

by Dan Phillips

It was a good year for Pyro, thank the Lord. Reports of our death were premature. Our traffic just about doubled over 2013, which is not too shabby for some "middle-aged white Reformed guys."

Lists! Everyone's doing it and it looks like fun. So I asked Frank, and he was kind (and smart) enough to figure out which were our top ten posts of 2014. Actually, he figured out the top 100, but I'm only listing the ten!

Note: these aren't necessarily the top ten written in 2014, though the second, third, fourth, fifth... well, some are.

Here you go:
  1. Pornographic divination. Really terrific post by Phil from 2011; really upset a lot of people; really prescient. Pity it wasn't heeded more robustly.
  2. John Piper and Mark Driscoll: Lessons Not Learned? Hated by the Top Men's egoguard, but others found value in it.
  3. Seven revelations of Ferguson. Finding preventative answers in the Gospel and God's Word, not in endless fuelling of bitterness, resentment, self-pity, statism, and career victimism. Yet Bryan Loritts says (white) evangelicals are silent on such matters, and no one challenges him. Ditto Frank Turk's powerful posts on the subject.
  4. Truth worth dying for? Anyone? Bueller? Today, anyway? About the vital nature of truth, and the airy chatty indifference of professed leaders in dealing with truths for which our theological forefathers actually and literally died.
  5. Some here, some there —” September 12, 2014 (special #TGCBlockedParty edition). More fun than Bibley types should be allowed to have. Yet have it, we did.
  6. A. W. Pink: glorifying God by disobeying Him? This one continues to gather a trickle of angry attempted comments. Invariably they reflect no interaction with the post's contents, and can be reduced to "But he's A. W. Pink! He was a great man, because: books! How dare you! You're guilty of horrible sins!"
  7. The most offensive verse in the Bible. This actually is our most popular post, ever, if I'm reading the stats right. It's been used by Dr. Georgia Purdom of AIG, reprinted, and noised about. Even some whose official position is that we don't exist in any significant way noted it, which is nice. For my part, it just feeds my slow-coming conclusion that I can never predict a post's impact. This one just bubbled up and was easy to write, and quickly written. Other posts that I was sure would have a far greater impact fizzled with a muted pop. Thank God for the uses others have made of it.
  8. Of leprechauns, mermaids, and "loving homosexual couples." Biblically cutting through the gooey squish of modern religious thought.
  9. Answering Todd Friel about the emblematic charismatic Michael Brown
  10. Pyromaniacs: Some here, some there — September 5, 2014. Not sure why; maybe it was The Elitists' Crisis Management System flowchart?

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04 January 2015

Look up not down

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 The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 35, sermon number 2,100, "Faith essential to pleasing God."
"It is ennobling to feel that you have only one Master, and that you live to please him, even God."

To please men is poor work. To live to follow everybody’s whim is slavery. If you let one man pull you by the ear in his direction, another will tug at you from another direction and you will have very long ears before long.

Happy is he who, pleasing God, feels that he has risen above seeking to please men. It is grand to say, “This is what God would have me do and I will do it in happy fellowship with others, or alone by myself, as the case may be. But do it I must.”

This gives a man backbone, and at the same time removes the selfishness which is greedy of popular applause. It is a grand thing to be no longer looking down for cheer but to be distinctly looking up for it. The man who truly believes in God makes small account of men.

Put them together, they are vanity; heap them up in their thousands, they are altogether lighter than vanity. Nations upon nations, what are they but as grasshoppers! The lands in which they live, what
are they before God! “He taketh up the isles as a very little thing.”

To please God, even a little, is infinitely greater than to have the acclamations of all our race throughout the centuries. The true believer feels that God is, and that there is none beside Him; none that need to be thought of in comparison with him.

The theology of the present aims at the deification of man but the truth of all time magnifies God. We shall stand by the old paths, wherein we hear a voice which bids us worship Jehovah, our God, and serve him alone. He shall be all in all.

Only as we see men loved of him can we live for men; we seek their good in God, and for his glory; and regard them as capable of being made mirrors to reflect the glory of the Lord.

02 January 2015

Some Here, Some There — January 2, 2015

by Dan Phillips

Hope you had a safe and sane New Year's Eve. In Texas, it's always very explosive — literally!

Our church had a good time of fellowship and worship, with a word from Scripture on how to put into effects the changes which the Holy Spirit may have brought to our minds from our New Year's consideration of the Word.

So now, for the seven of you who are online today, this brief care package:

  • Through the one-way mirror, as a service to help you in an area I deeply believe in: Justin Taylor links to material to help you read through the Bible in 2015Challies also links to a number of Bible reading plans
  • The best one for you? The one you pick and stick with.
  • Me? I've done a number; I've done M'Cheyne several years, and it's pretty rigorous. Having read through the Bible quite a few times, what I've done for the past couple of years at least is to read portions of the Hebrew OT in its canonical order (Genesis-2 Chronicles), the NT in Greek, and the Bible in English.
  • Well, you asked. Or read, anyway.
  • Pat Robertson isn't the only one with predictions:
  • For instance, a man respected by many cool kidz, Anthony Bradley, writes a whole column ostensibly explaining why the living contents of one particular skincolor package "matter." Because: centuries ago. Because: decades ago. Because: this and that. Not-because: the Gospel, the Bible. I expect this year will feature a lot more of this, with many cool kidz outdoing each other to get on that particular wagon.
  • Meanwhile there will be a few stubborn hardheads who will insist that racism is never the answer to racism, the Gospel is; and that stoking fires of resentment, bitterness, self-pity, and career-victim-status, coupled with calls for endless increments of statist "solutions," are the way forward for nobody.
  • The former will do their best to shame, ignore and/or marginalize the latter, and...fun times for all. When the smoke clears, the Gospel will still have been both the issue and the only real solution. The only question is how many deaths and broken friendships will precede that admission.
  • Pastor/professor Ryan M. McGraw offers a fine, detailed, spunky review of John Frame's massive new systematic theology, which I'm reading. Turns out that one of the very things McGraw doesn't like about it is the very thing I do like about Frame. That said, I'd say all his points of criticism are well-taken, from what I've read so far. Still I'm finding it a stimulating and profitable read.
Farewell for now, and... stay ever vigilant.

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01 January 2015

"Proverbial perspectives at the year's turn"

by Dan Phillips

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 Dan back in December 2009. Dan offered his thoughts on what the Scriptures say about planning and ordering our lives.

As usual, the comments are closed.
The stroke of midnight, as 12/31 turns to 1/1, is an artificial divider, but it is as good as any. Our birthdays cast the eye backwards, in retrospection. The grim realities of math and statistics may tap some of us on the shoulder with the reminder that the number of such dates behind us is likely greater than that of those remaining.

But the prospect of New Year's day naturally casts the eye ahead. We make resolutions, we make plans. Some pious souls, however, shrink back from the whole notion of planning. Is it Biblical to plan and set goals?

It certainly is... if approached rightly.

In fact, God quite emphatically insists that it is our proper duty to plan. Hear Solomon:
Man's are the heart's arrangements,
but from Yahweh is the tongue's answer
(Proverbs 16:1, literally)
It is actually a verbless verse; we must supply "are" and "is" to get anything like understandable English. Both actors are thrust up front syntactically: man in line A, God in line B. It is, emphatically, the God-ordained part of man to apply his heart, his mind, to making arrangements, to setting plans in order. But with equal emphasis, B reminds us that God has the final answer. The old saying is quite apposite: "Man proposes, but God disposes."

Consider one more of many proverbs along these lines:
The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps
(Proverbs 16:9 ESV)
Again, God intends that man use his mind to make plans, to do calculations and risk-assessments and cast up scenarios. It is man's designed, God-ordained responsibility to make intelligent plans.

But it is God's to determine both the course and the outcome — and He discharges His responsibility quite adequately (Proverbs 16:33; 20:24; Romans 11:36; Ephesians 1:11). None need concern himself that a man doing what a man should do will prevent God from what God infallibly does. In fact, it is quite literally impossible for a man to frustrate God's eternal purpose (Proverbs 19:21; 21:30; Daniel 4:35).

So: it is right and proper for me to look to the future and make plans. Plan! Plan to do something. To fail to plan to do something is to plan to do nothing. Just do something!

However, at the same time, all our plans must be made in pencil, for we are warned:
Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
(Proverbs 27:1)
While it is true that our plans cannot frustrate God's counsel, it is equally true that His counsel can frustrate our plans. It is lazy, insolent unbelief to refuse to plan; but it is just as foolish to plan and assume, to plan without allowing for the ever-imperative "D.V." — Deo volente, "God willing" (cf. James 3:13-17).

So feel free to make plans and resolutions. Find a way that suits you, if not today, then some day soon.

Seek God's Biblical wisdom to plan and do, to the greater glory of Him who saved us.