Posted in Uncategorized, tagged AA, addiction, common grace, deceit, Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Flight, grace, humility, idolatry, John Goodman, Leaving Las Vegas, pride, repentance, Robert Zemeckis, Rolling Stones, Tim Keller on February 12, 2013 |
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There are times when an author or screenwriter says more than they intend to say. I wonder if Flight is one of those times. I don’t know the screenwriter (John Gatins) and his worldview. But it closely approximates a biblical worldview, and there are a number of characters who are Christians.
Flight is not an enjoyable movie to watch, unless you enjoy watching a man destroy his life. Flight is mostly about the destructive power of sin, though there is a strong theme of common grace and, at the end, a taste of redemption. As a result, it is not as depressing and nihilistic as Leaving Las Vegas. While it depicts lots of sin, it is not trying to justify or glorify it. It shows the hell of it.
The first few minutes of the movie are tough to watch if you have a sensitive conscience. Our introduction to the main character, Captain “Whip” Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is in a hotel room after a night of excess that included sex, booze and drugs. While his partner for the night wanders around the room naked (eventually, and mercifully, she gets dressed) he argues on the phone with his ex-wife and then prepares for work by snorting some coke. What we see is not a “nice” guy.
But Whip is an excellent pilot. When the flight from Orlando to Atlanta goes terribly wrong he is able to pull the plane out of an uncontrolled dive (in a very harrowing scene), and land it in a large field. He awakens in a hospital to discover that 4 passengers and 2 crew (including the woman with whom he was partying) have died. We later learn that in the simulator, no one could land the plan safely. This incredibly flawed man does something heroic.
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Our personal history can help us, or hinder us. I don’t recall my childhood being one filled with affirmation and praise. I seem quite capable of affirming the kids, but struggle at times when I need to affirm adults. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps because they don’t often learn new things, and much of my affirming the kids comes as they gain new skills.
Many kids today are growing up in an era of “fake affirmation”. They are affirmed so much for so many things they probably wonder if they can do any wrong. Maybe I had a graduation ceremony for elementary. I can’t remember. But today every little milestone is celebrated so that those that actually have meaning have their meaning minimized.
So there are two errors that can take place: the neglect and over-use of affirmation. One aspect of over-use is the man-centered aspect of affirmation. It is into this context that Sam Crabtree has written his long-needed book Practicing Affirmation. He believes that Christians should practice commending others to the glory of God. In other words, we commend them for character, attitudes and actions that reflect the character, attitudes and actions of God. As a result, we are praising God as we commend them. This keeps us from what he calls idolatrous commendation, and failing to commend (just as sinful as the other extreme).
This is a fairly short book that seeks to facilitate the practice of affirmation. It is not just defending the practice, though he does do that. And there are some questions or arguments he spends more time on. For instance, he spends much time refuting the argument that non-Christians should not be commended. He rightly asserts that such a conclusion neglects two very important biblical truths. First, as James 3 notes, people still bear God’s image. Though unregenerate, non-Christians still bear some testimony to the God whose image they reflect. Second, due to common grace even non-Christians can grow in relative character and act in ways that are commendable.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Anthony Lane, B.B. Warfield, Baptism, Bruce Ware, circumcision, common grace, continuity, covenant, credobaptism, discontinuity, dispensationalism, ecclesiology, Enlightenment, gospel, individualism, new covenant theology, paedobaptism, presuppositions, saving grace, signs and seals, Sinclair Ferguson on May 26, 2011 |
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I’m working my way through the 3 main sections of Baptism: Three Views. In my previous post, I worked through the essay by Dr. Bruce Ware on Believers’ Baptism (aka credobaptism) and the responses by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson and Dr. Anthony Lane. This time through I’ll be working through the essay by Ferguson on infant baptism (paedobaptism) and the responses.
Previously I talked about the power (for good or ill) of presuppositions. If Ferguson’s presentation in Systematic Theology II (Ecclessiology and Sacraments) was anything near as compelling as this essay, my presuppositions were working for ill that day in 1993.
Presuppositions become far clearer in the responses of Ware and Lane. But I found Ferguson’s essay an incredible example of how great theologizing is to be done. Instead of expecting explicit statements as if we are all 6 years old, Ferguson thinks through biblical data to see connections and “good and necessary consequences.” Not all things are clear (as we might like) in Scripture, but they are addressed in just this way.
Ferguson starts with a caution based on 1 Corinthians 1:17 in which Paul “prioritized gospel preaching over baptismal administration without thereby minimizing the important role of the latter.” A different approach from Ware who warned of disobedience in the matter of baptism (though that is true).
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Chernobyl, common grace, curse, Don Henley, earthquake, emergency aid, grace, Irwin Allen, Japan, Jesus, mercy, nuclear meltdown, Prayer, resurrection, tsunami on March 14, 2011 |
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I don’t think anything could prepare us for what happened in Japan. It is a perfect storm of disaster that would make Irwin Allen proud. I thought we’d seen the worst disasters possible, but we apparently hadn’t. One of the most powerful earthquakes on record, a tsunami and the possibility of Chernobyl.
I’m reading a book about prayer that talks about helplessness. This picture, sadly, captures that reality more powerfully than any I have ever seen.
We need to pray for the people of Japan. Money does not fix something like this. That doesn’t mean we should not provide resources for emergency relief. But rebuilding the soul of Japan will take far longer than rebuilding the nation. And rebuilding the nation may take close to a generation (ask New Orleans).
To put this in perspective, this was a nation that somehow recovered from WWII to become one of the most productive economies in the world. They enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in the world. But they have been brought to their knees, this time by the groaning of creation triggered by the sin of Adam.
It reveals just how close we are to the edge. Life can change in a New York minute. And when it does, there is not simple fix. We all live by grace, common grace, whether we realize it or not. We live by the sheer mercy of God. Let us throw ourselves into the hands of a merciful and compassionate God, even as we intercede at the throne of grace for the people of Japan. We pray to One who was torn asunder, but conquered death. He can give hope to those on the brink of death. He can give hope to Japan.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged common grace, Cornelius Van Til, election, free offer of the gospel, Gordon Clark, John Piper, reason, reprobation, revelation, saving grace on March 6, 2011 |
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Some pastoral questions have brought the disagreement between Van Til and Gordon Clark to mind. It isn’t so much the views of those men, but some problems I see emerging when reason is elevated above revelation.
This is one of the dangers of “Christian rationalism”. The mind subtly usurps the authority of Scripture, or special revelation. They wouldn’t admit to this (I think), but you see it when there is the denial of various doctrines because it does not make sense in light of other doctrines. They have a hard time reasoning these apparently opposite doctrines that are found in Scripture. Rather than submit their minds before Scripture, they make the Scriptures submit to their “rational” theology.
There are 2 doctrines in particular that have been problematic for many who espouse Clark’s views. They affirm the doctrine of election or predestination. This is the problem, so to speak. They have a difficult time with both common grace and the free offer of the gospel. These don’t doctrines don’t make “sense” in light of election, but our minds are not the measure of truth. Our theology is not to settle for “reasonable” but to reflect revelation.
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