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Archive for May, 2010

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John MacArthur’s 2007 Shepherd’s Conference message absolutely lit up the blogosphere.  And it’s no wonder.  Just look at the title.  Would anyone dare say such a thing? 

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  What really fired people up, and this is evident in the message itself, was the fact that he equated Calvinism with dispensationalism!  Yes, that’s right.  The title should have read, “Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Dispensationalist.”  Sweet mother of Pearl!  Can you think of a more provocative message?  Oh, maybe I can.  How about this:

“Ten reasons why the papacy just may be biblical, and five reasons why I should be the next Pope.”

That maybe, just maybe, may have caused a bigger stir, had he chosen that as his message. 

Three years later now, the dust has pretty much settled.  Most of the arrows have been shot.  The keyboards have cooled down.  And much of the wailing has henceforth ceased.  I trust it’s therefore safe to post on this.  Hopefully it won’t cause too many Reformed folks to have flashbacks, to wake from their sleep in a cold sweat, panting and trembling.

For those of you who haven’t listened to the message, you may want to give it a try.  It will illuminate in the clearest way possible the dispensational perspective.  But if you are a non-dispensationalist, a caution is in order.  This ride may cause veins to bulge out on your head.

Now if you’re a dispensationalist, or if you’re undecided, then go to “Polemics.”  You will find this under “Pages” on the right sidebar.  I wrote up a fairly detailed response to MacArthur’s message.  I think you will find it helpful.      

Difficulty: Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: Low to Moderate.

Note: You may have to sign up (it’s free) to download stuff.

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Across the pond in the UK there’s a radio show called “Unbelievable” hosted by Justin Brierley. The purpose of the program is to allow Christians and non-Christians interact in a controlled environment about a variety of topics.  Most of the episodes are interesting, although I find myself feeling frustrated with some of guests representing the Christian side of things. 

Here recently, I listened to Peter Hitchens and Adam Rutherford discuss Peter’s latest book, “The Rage Against God,” a book challenging the strident anti-theism of his brother, Christopher Hitchens.  Up until this show, I had no idea Christopher Hitchens had a brother, let alone a Christian brother.  Now that’s an interesting dynamic, no?  I wonder what Christmas is like at their family gatherings?

So anyway, had it not been Peter Hitchens, I probably would have given up on the episode.  It was a lot of the same old same old for the most part.

That was until the topic of abortion came up. 

I’ve listened to quite a few discussions about abortion, and I can’t recall any quite as enthralling as this one.  I have to say, I absolutely loved Peter Hitchen’s passion.  He kept jabbing Mr. Rutherford’s chest, if you will, not allowing him a comfortable moment.  It was great.  I felt myself saying, “Yes, say that again.  Don’t let him off the hook.  Drive it home.”

It ended up being an enjoyable listen.  So if you want to hear the famous atheist’s brother, Peter, and if you want to hear a lively exchange on abortion, give it a go.

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: Ah, really, it’s pretty low.  Scavengers will want to download it, but as for the rest, you may want to spend an hour listening to something else.

Download: You can get this from ITunes.  I prefer to download it from the provided link (see picture).  Scroll down to the episode and right click/download the address by the little headphones.  Here is the homepage of their website: http://www.premierradio.org.uk/shows/saturday/unbelievable

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When Reformed Theological Seminary announced that they were going to make some of their courses available for free on ITunes, I perked up, fired up ITunes and quickly starting searching the goldmine.  While scavenging around, I stumbled across this 3-part series.  I remember thinking, “Well now, that’s a provocative title.  Download for free?  Why not?  Click, click, click.” 

Downloading blind, so to speak, as I had no idea what to expect, I figured I’d pop in my ear bud and find myself listening to a monotonous and painfully boring lecture, one that would propel me into a coma like state whereby I would lose all awareness of my surroundings and get attacked by a sneaky dog (recall that I’m a mailman). 

To my surprise, I was riveted.  Was I riveted because Dr. Currid spoke with the passion and unction of a Whitefield?  Well, no, not exactly.  Rather I heard new and wondrous things.  I felt like a carnivore at a steakhouse.  Nearly everything was tasty and meaty. 

So look.  If you’ve heard of a guy named Peter Enns, and if you’re curious how Exodus is both polemical and ironic, then give this a listen.  You won’t be disappointed.

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Must Listen Factor: I thought it was a great.  But in all fairness, this is probably only going to appeal to pastors, teachers and students.  So if you’re one of those, then I would say that this has a high must listen factor.  For all others, I suppose it would be low… unless of course you want a T-bone steak. 

To Download click picture or search ITunes for “Crass Plagiarism.”

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In Acts chapter three, Peter said to the crowd, “And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.”

The nature and extent of typology has been the subject of much discussion, causing no small number of theologians to squint and grunt.  Some would urge that we shouldn’t try to draw out any new typological connections, but should rest wholly on that which has been revealed by the apostles.  Others would say that we can emulate (cautiously, no doubt) the hermeneutical method of the apostles and make other connections- connections not explicitly made in the NT.

Dr. Hamilton falls into the second camp. 

Now I have to say that I just finished listening to this lecture, so I haven’t had time to think too deeply about what I’ve heard.  That being said, I thought it was great.  I mean really great.  Whether one agrees or not, it will certainly make you think.  And if you’re going to be teaching through 1-2 Samuel anytime soon, it’s a must listen.  Or if you enjoy wrestling with the issue of typology, it’s a must listen.

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Must Listen Factor: Specialized.  This is meant for pastors, teachers and students.         

Note: The first time I downloaded the mp3, it only downloaded 6 minutes of it.  Try streaming the audio for a moment, stop it, and then go back and download it.  That fixed the problem for me. 

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RadioLab

Click the exhausted runner

Sometimes you need a break from listening to all the deep and weighty stuff out there; and you just need to let your ears kick back and relax, stretch out on a hammock.  Maybe a healthy dose of silence is in order; or maybe some soothing music. 

For myself, I sometimes indulge in a little RadioLab, a professionally produced podcast exploring just about any ol’ subject it deems fascinating.  The show is quirky, oddly informative, humorous and well paced. 

One of the more recent episodes, to give you a taste, featured a triathlete pooping her pants, a long (and I mean long) distance bicyclist hallucinating due to extreme sleep exhaustion, and an unusual competition where people from all over the world come to see who can remember the most numbers.  This particular episode is called “Limits.”  But it’s just one of many. 

I should add a disclaimer or two.  This is a secular production.  Not only must one exercise discernment, but you might preview the material before letting your kids hear it.  I’d give it a PG-13 rating.  It also tries to mess with your head a bit, but not in a psychedelic kind of way.  A lot of their shows end by making a semi-creepy, science-fictioney point meant to leave you thinking, “Oh…” or “Hmm…”  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but, well, just listen.  You’ll get what I’m saying.      

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Must Listen Factor:  It’s enjoyable, easy listening that is both mildly informative and well put together.  Scavengers will almost certainly want to give this a look.  Teachers might find some good stories to use as well.   

The link takes you to RadioLab.  You will see past episodes on the right. 

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The words of Ivan to Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov still haunt me.  It is the problem of evil presented horrifically, designed to cast doubt in the tender and faithful heart of Alyosha.  Ivan said this,

“There was a little girl of five who was hated by her father and mother…  This poor child of five was subjected to every possible torture by those cultivated parents.  They beat her, thrashed her, kicked her for no reason til her body was one bruise.  Then, they went to greater refinement of cruelty– shut her up all night in the cold and frost in a privy, and because she didn’t ask to be taken up at night (as though a child of five sleeping its angelic, sound sleep could be trained to wake and ask), they smeared her face and filled her mouth with excrement, and it was her mother, her mother who did this.  And that mother could not sleep, hearing the poor child’s groans!  Can you understand why a little creature, who can’t even understand what’s done to her, should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her?  Do you understand that, friend and brother, you pious and humble novice?  Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted?”

That is only the beginning of the dialogue.  Horror after horror, atrocity after atrocity is piled on.  It’s awful.  It’s almost too painful to bear.  But it is life. 

Interestingly, John Piper is read the quote above about halfway through the interview.  In a day and age when many try to massage God’s Lordship over all things, Piper’s clear and insightful response to some of life’s hardest questions is both refreshing and instructive.  He is a model to us in this interview.

The entire interview is superb.  It is one of the best I’ve heard, when it comes to suffering and the sovereignty of God.

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: Must listen.  Everyone will benefit.  And it will almost certainly stretch you.

Further Resources: It should be borne in mind that this interview follows a message Piper gave entitled, “Ten Aspects of God’s Sovereignty Over Suffering and Satan’s Hand in It.”

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And later in the conference, “The Suffering of Christ and the Sovereignty of God.”

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Download Audio, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God Interview.  See Picture.

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NT Wright has written arguably the best book on the literal/physical resurrection of Jesus Christ to date.  It is a scholarly gem.  So when you set him next to John Dominic Crossan, a man who co-chaired the Jesus Seminar for over ten years, a venture known for its atrocious liberalism, you expect disagreement.  And disagreement there was– Disagreement at the most fundamental level.  Indeed, at the very heart of Christianity.

If you’ve never listened to a wholesale liberal theologian articulate his beliefs, then give this a try.  It’s truly amazing how someone so studied can miss the obvious.  But of course the heart doesn’t bow under the weight of academia, does it?    

Two cautions are in order.  First of all, the discussion becomes rather tedious at times (mostly because of Crossan).  And if you aren’t familiar with Bishop N.T. Wright, his views on justification have received no small amount of attention, as he distances himself from a more Reformational perspective (Um, biblical) to a more New Perspective on Paul slant (Uh, not so biblical).  So exercise discernment if you look up other things he has written or recorded.

Difficulty: Advanced

Must Listen Factor:  This is pretty specialized and is really only meant for scavengers.  William Lane Craig would be someone who provides a more understandable presentation of the historicity and reliability of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.     

Note: The link takes you to a website full of stuff.  Scroll down halfway to the section entitled, “Historical Jesus and Bible Reliability.”  This debate is the second from the bottom, before “radical/liberal critics.”)

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