MNY Presbytery Officially Accuses Dominic Aquila of Breaking the 9th Commandment; RMP Exonerates Him [Updated, 9:33 p.m. MDT]

Posted by Wes White

This spring, Dr. Dominic Aquila, former moderator of the PCA General Assembly and President of New Geneva Theological Seminary, published an article on The Aquila Report by Rev. John Otis entitled “Discerning Roman Catholic Tendencies Among Professing Reformed Churches.”  In this article, Otis took criticized Dr. Craig Higgins, a teaching elder in Metro New York Presbytery, and pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Rye, NY, for what he alleged were “Roman Catholic tendencies.”

Otis was concerned about TE Higgins’ advocacy of the practice of Lent and Ash Wednesday; his advocacy of a return to bishops; his suggestion that the Bishop of Rome would be the proper presiding bishop of a worldwide ecumenical council (as long as his authority was not greater than the ecumenical council, including rejecting papal infallibility); asserting that the church could “move beyond” the debate over baptismal regeneration by the renewal of a rich, instrumental baptismal theology; that Higgins was in agreement with the idea that by baptism one is made an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven; and Higgins’ view that baptism is ordinarily necessary for salvation, among other things.

Metro New York Presbytery responded to this article at their May 8, 2010 meeting.  They responded by unanimously voting to send a letter to Rocky Mountain Presbytery (the court with jurisdiction over TE Aquila) accusing TE Dominic Aquila of breaking the 9th commandment and a lack of love because he published this article.  “The article The article by Mr. Otis is not merely a critical interaction with Pastor Higgins’ views (which would be appropriate), but is an attack on his character and calls into question the appropriateness of his stature as a pastor in our denomination” (See the full letter below).

At its September Stated Meeting, At its September Stated Meeting, RMP heard a committee report that recommended exoneration.  RMP voted today to accept the committee’s recommendation and thus exonerate Dr. Aquila of the charges raised by Metro New York Presbytery.  [Updated, 9:27 p.m. MDT] RMP voted unanimously to exonerate Dr. Aquila.

Metropolitan New York Presbytery
Presbyterian Church in America
“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city. . . Pray to the Lord for it” (Jeremiah 29:7).

May 19, 2010

Rev. Kevin Allen
Stated Clerk,
Rocky Mountain Presbytery
4055 South Nonchalant Circle
Colorado Springs, CO 80917

Dear Rev. Allen,

At our recent Presbytery meeting on May 8, 2010, we approved sending the enclosed letter formed by our Shepherding Team to your Presbytery. Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

Metropolitan New York Presbytery
Presbyterian Church in America
“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city. . . Pray to the Lord for it” (Jeremiah 29:7).

May 19,2010

Dear Brothers of the Rocky Mountain Presbytery,

We trust this finds you all well and your churches flourishing in the grace that is ours in Christ Jesus.

We are writing because one of your presbyters, Dominic Aquila, publishes a website entitled “The Aquila Report” (www.theaquilareport.com) in which we believe he allows one of the brothers in our presbytery, Craig Higgins, to be slandered. We believe this is very serious failure to uphold the ordination vows that ask us to strive for the purity and peace of the church. We believe it is a violation of the ninth commandment and also of the call to love one another.

In the article published on TB Aquila’s website, Pastor Higgins, a teaching elder in good standing is called “a very dangerous man” and “theologically incompetent.” Moreover, we believe the paper was not charitable because it misrepresents Mr. Higgins views. The article was written by John M. Otis and TB Aquila posted it on March 16,2010 (http://theaquilareport.cornlindex.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=l 685:discerning-roman-catholic-tendencies-among-professing-reformedchurches&catid=79:commentary&Itemid=l37). We believe it is completely inappropriate of Dominic Aquila to publish this article and that he should be held accountable for doing so.

A number of individuals have written to TE Aquila about this matter and have received the following response from him: Thank you for your comments on John Otis’s commentary. Otis was assessing and critiquing the public views of Craig Higgins, a common practice when any author presents his views in writing for public consumption. While there were challenges to Higgins’s written views, the assessment was not a hit piece or character assassination. When any of us takes a position on an issue we can expect critiques from those who take a contrary position; it is a challenge to ideas the person presented not the person as an individual. I know that I have received both accolades and brickbats from my publicly stated positions; I appreciate the former and squirm with the latter, but if I stick my neck out I have to be willing to stand under scrutiny, both good and bad.

We find this response to be without repentance and completely inadequate. The article by Mr. Otis is not merely a critical interaction with Pastor Higgins’ views (which would be appropriate), but is an attack on his character and calls into question the appropriateness of his stature as a pastor in our denomination. It is our strong conviction that TE Aquila should not only remove the article and print a retraction but also apologize to Craig Higgins and ask for his forgiveness. We believe that the publishing of that article dishonors Christ and violates the unity of the body.

We respectfully implore you to take action. We await your reply.

In partnership for the gospel,

Metropolitan New York Presbytery

A Brief Response to Dr. Taylor’s Reply to Dr. Aquila by Mr. White

Posted by Wes White

ByFaith online published today a response by Dr. Roy Taylor, Stated Clerk of the PCA, to Dr. Dominic Aquila, former Moderator of the General Assembly and President of New Geneva Seminary, who has publicly criticized the proposed amendments to BCO 14:1 and 14:2.  I would like to respond to a few of Dr. Taylor’s points, but to begin with I think we need to understand a very important point.  The first draft of the amendments was presented confidentially to the Cooperative Ministries Committee (CMC) back in January 2010.  A version approved by the AC was sent to the commissioners handbook.  However, when the AC permanent committee met the week of the Assembly, they changed the amendment significantly.  You can see the revisions here.  I talked to several members of the Admin Committee of Commissioners and none of them had any idea that they had approved this altered version of the amendment.  The point of this will become apparent in the discussion below.  With that in mind, let me suggest several things in response to Dr. Taylor.

1.  The Personal Statements about Dr. Aquila are not Helpful. The second and third paragraphs indicate that it was Dr. Aquila’s duty to oppose the amendment before now, if he was going to do it at all.  Dr. Taylor says that these things were discussed over a number of years in the CMC.   Instead of speaking against them, Dr. Taylor alleges, he chose a different method of dealing with this, Dr. Aquila posted his objections on his web site.  Now, let’s assume that Dr. Taylor’s accounting of the fact is correct and that Dr. Aquila raised no objections and that this was discussed “thoroughly” over a number of years.  Still, several things can be said.  First, Dr. Aquila may have changed his mind or not seen the implications of the matter before it was actually passed by the GA.  This wouldn’t be the first time that has happened to someone.  Second, the amendment was changed significantly on the day of General Assembly.  The new version makes the cumulative nature of the fees much clearer.  This alone would cause someone to think more carefully about it, as it did me.  Third, this is still a live issue.  It is being debated in presbyteries, and it is perfectly legitimate for someone to offer their opinions privately and publicly.  I think Dr. Taylor could have made some of the same arguments without implying criticism of Dr. Aquila’s methods.

2.  The appeal to authority is overplayed.  For example, Dr. Taylor states that “objections now being raised by Dr. Aquila involve issues that were thoroughly discussed over a number of years in the CMC…”  Having examined the minutes, I simply cannot see it.  Perhaps this was done, but it is not reflected in the minutes.  I did not see any discussion of a funding plan until 2010.  They may have discussed it in passing, but was it really discussed “thoroughly”?  Second, he appeals to the CCB.  He says that this is a “group of men elected by the General Assembly because of their knowledge and understanding of our constitution.”  Maybe they are.  Maybe they aren’t.  The General Assembly has never expressed that.  This seems to be an overstatement.  Third, he calls their evaluation of the constitutional issues a “studied collective opinion.”  Now, remember that they looked at the revisions in one afternoon and gave their opinion.  Another example is the analysis by the legal firm.  They may have done a legal audit, but did the legal firm audit the changes that were made on the Tuesday of General Assembly?

3.  The reasoning of the CCB is flawed.  I have argued this in several places.  You can read my arguments here.  The key point is that this “registration fee” is very different from the current registration fee for General Assembly.  One is voluntary, non-cumulative, and paying for a specific service.  The other is involuntary, non-cumulative, and funding all of a committee’s activities.

In addition, Dr. Taylor appeals to the historical context of BCO 25:8 and 11.  Granted that he is correct, this does not prove his point.  What better way to ensure that a denomination cannot take the property of the local church against its will than to say as the BCO 25:8 does that all property can only be received by free and voluntary action of the latter?  What better way could there be than to exclude the idea of a required payment to the higher courts altogether?

4.  There are some good points in the article.  For example, the plan says nothing about whether non-paying members could serve on the permanent committees and agencies.  I also agree that it does not bring confusion on who can and cannot vote.  I think the plan is clear on who can and cannot vote.

Finally, I think that Dr. Taylor’s response is good in many ways.  I like the idea that he is seeking to argue the merits of the case.  I do not believe that we should just listen to the denominational employees and do what they think is best.  I think they should present their arguments.  Then, we should evaluate them and decide what we want to do.  We as assemblies are the denominational leaders, not elected officials.  Thus, the best way for us to approach this is to recognize that none of us has a right for our agenda to be passed.  Let as many people make their arguments so that we can decide together, by the grace of God, what is the best course of action.

Posted by Wes White

James Jordan Tells the Truth

James Jordan tells the truth, and is exceptionally insightful in this post, actually. It shows us many, many things about the FV that the critics have been saying all along, and Jordan agrees. See here for provenance. I might add that if James Jordan wishes to modify and/or correct anything he has written, I will gladly allow his comments to stand.

A Federal Vision Moment of Clarity
by James Jordan

I’ve said for years that paedocommunion and non-pc cannot live together any more than infant and adult baptism. And by returning to pc, we drive back 1000 years, and definitely back before the Reformation. We also don’t like the rationalism of the “grammatical historical method” (a good way of weeding out about 95% of what the text means). I — and since BH is me, we — don’t think metrical psalms are real psalms and think Calvin and the Reformed tradition made a huge mistake by substituting metrical psalms for real ones — a gnostic move, since the assumption is that the IDEAS of the text are all that matter, and not the shape thereof. I could go on. . . .

Oh, it’s true enough: We depart from the whole Reformation tradition at certain pretty basic points. It’s no good pretending otherwise. I think the PCA is perfectly within its rights to say no to all BH types. We are NOT traditional presbyterians. The PCA suffers us within itself, but we are poison to traditional presbyterianism. We are new wine, and the PCA is an old skin. So, for the sake of the people we are called to minister to, we do our best. But we don’t really “belong” there.

I mean, think about it. Would any of you seek ordination in a Baptist denomination? No. Then why do you seek ordination in non-paedocommuning Presbyterian/Reformed denominations? Don’t tell me that these aren’t the same question, because at the practical level, American presbyterianism is just “Baptist light.” That’s what Banner of Truth Calvinism is, and why it’s been Reformed Baptists who most appreciate it. That what Duncan is. That’s what the So. Presbyterian tradition is. That’s what American individualist conversionist presbyterianism is: Baptists who sprinkle babies.

I can’t really put feet on this, but I “feel” sure that the Reformation tradition is rationalistic precisely because it is anti-pc. Or maybe better, these are part of one complex. Being anti-pc was the greatest mistake of all the Reformers (except Musculus, and who cares about him?). This mistake is part of the heart of the Reformation; they knew about pc and rejected it. This has affected, or else helps be a part of, all kinds of things, like piety, liturgy, and hermeneutics.

So, why are you trying to get ordained presbyterian? Why not seek to get ordained Baptist? There are a whole lot more baptists out there. A bigger pond. Larger sphere of influence.

Well, it’s because the baptists won’t have us, and so far the presbys will. But there’s no reason why the presbys should receive us, since sacramentally speaking we are NOT Reformed and NOT presbyterian.

I’m a little bit sympathetic with Duncan & Co. when they suspect some of you guys are not being honest when you try to show that you’re just good traditional Reformed guys. I guess it’s a good thing I did not make it to the Knox Seminary discussion, because I would have openly said, “I’m not on the same page as Calvin and the Reformation in these regards.” Showing that the Reformed tradition is wider and muddier than Duncan wants it to be is fine, but the fact is that if you believe in pc, you’re not in the Reformed tradition at all in a very significant and profound sense. No more than you’re Baptists.

Two Kingdoms Discussion

The Bayly’s have come out with some strong words against 2K theology, and Darryl Hart has responded to this.

On the one hand, I have no wish to sound like a whiner. Strong words are needed when one feels that some particular aspect of theology is being neglected. On the other hand, it seems to me that a few straw men were erected on both sides. The straw man that the Bayly brothers erected is their very broadbrush attack on 2K pastors. I would consider myself a mild 2K pastor at the present moment in time (still in process on the whole question, however). I have in the past and will in the future if the need arises, protest abortion in the strongest of terms. I would do so on the basis of being a good citizen of a secular government. I have picketed abortion clinics (only in a legal way on public property). I have supported crisis pregnancy centers, and would do so again, if I am in a situation where the need arises. Would no other 2K pastor do the same? I find that rather difficult to believe. The same is true of the issue of women in the military, which even Darryl (surely one of the strongest 2K advocates around today) acknowledges has some basis for judgment in the law of God.

On the other hand, I am not sure that Darryl has been fair in accusing the Bayly brothers in this way:


The Roman Church, like the Baylys, tried to bind consciences with their own extra-biblical requirements. In the Baylys’ case, we must not only refrain from certain actions but we must publicly oppose it the way Baylys do – otherwise, you’re not a true minister they way they are…They stray when they beat their breast and bray that only those ministers are worthy of hearing are the ones like the Baylys.

Surely we can agree that the Bayly brothers feel strongly about the two issues of abortion and women in the military (among many other issues, I’m sure), and feel that anyone who is not making a strong response is missing a way to be prophetic. Is it really due to self-importance that they are saying these things? I’m not sure we are justified in making a judgment on the motivation which drives them.

The modern debate between 2K theology and Neo-Calvinism is only beginning in the literature. I think we need to be careful here about how we describe other people’s positions. Comments are open on this post. I welcome both Darryl and the Bayly brothers to comment and respond.

God’s Wrath Against Fools

Romans 1:18-23

8/28/2010

Audio Version

How would you like it if someone committed a terrible crime against you, kidnapped one of your children, but was caught; he was put in jail, had his day in court, was found guilty by the jury, but then the judge said, “It would be inhuman of me to pass any sentence on this man. Judge not, lest you be judged, as Jesus said. Therefore, I will let this man go scot-free.” Would you respect such a judge? Let’s try a different analogy. Let’s say a young man and a young woman just got married. They are about to move into their house, when they find out that it is infested with mice, termites, roaches, and other vermin. The young man promises to get all these vermin exterminated, but never seems to get around to it. He thinks it is just fine for his new wife to live in such a house. Do any of us think that his love fore his wife may be somewhat less than he thinks it is? Let’s try a third analogy. Imagine that you are a British subject in the late 1930’s, and you have just heard that Hitler has invaded all of Czechoslovakia, and all of Austria, after promising that he would not. Your Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, keeps on saying that we must avoid war at all costs. But you know better. You know that Hitler is bent on world domination. What do you think of PM Chamberlain? Wouldn’t your respect for him go downhill fast? In all three of these examples, we have some kind of evil that needs to be answered, and in all three cases, the person who can do something about refuses to do so. This is wrong, is it not? We know in our heart of hearts that there needs to be justice done on the kidnapper, that there needs to be a vermin-free house if the wife is going to be happy, and that Adolf Hitler needs to be stopped. There is such a thing as righteous wrath. And yet, when it comes to God, all of a sudden we get cold feet in talking about His wrath. A great deal of modern Christianity would prefer never to talk about God’s wrath. “God is love,” we shout at the top of our lungs. That God would send anyone to Hell seems unthinkable to us. What Paul is telling us here, however, is just that: God’s wrath is always evident against unbelief, and He will continue to oppose sin forever. Our message then is about the wrath of God. What I hope to show is that rather than hate God for exercising His wrath, we should actually come to love God for showing His wrath.

The context here is very important for showing what Paul is saying. Particularly verse 17 is important, since there is a parallel there that we need to see. In verse 17, we see three elements: “in the gospel,” “righteousness of God,” and “revealed.” In verse 18, we see three parallel elements: “from heaven,” “the wrath of God,” and “revealed.” So in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. We saw last week that this righteousness is the gift of Christ’s righteousness that we obtain by faith alone. In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. But now, from heaven, the wrath of God is being revealed. What this tells us is that God’s love always has wrath as the flip side of it. Think about this for a moment, and it will make sense. How can God love us without hating our enemies? How can God love holiness and righteousness without hating wickedness? How can God love what is good without hating what is bad? The wrath of God should therefore make perfect sense to us, if we know God’s true character.

When it comes to wrath, however, we need to be careful to define it properly so that we do not get any wrong ideas about it. When we hear the word “wrath,” for instance, we tend to think of rage. We tend to think of a rage that is out of control and out of proportion. Neither is true of God. The wrath of God is His righteous opposition to all wickedness. And it is in perfect proportion, which is to say that God’s wrath is infinite, because any and all sin is infinitely heinous in the sight of God. So, there is no sin whatsoever in God’s holy wrath against sin.

Against whom is God’s wrath directed? Verse 18 tells us quite clearly. God’s wrath is directed against all godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. Notice the terms here. Godlessness refers to people’s failure to worship God as they ought. Wickedness refers to their failure to love their neighbors as themselves. So God is angry against both vertical sin committed against God, and horizontal sin, committed against other humans. What is more, all their wickedness, both vertical and horizontal, is being used to suppress the truth about God. We need to mull this over for a moment. Sin suppresses truth. If people do not acknowledge God, or give Him thanks for their lives, it is because they are in the grip of sin. We must never think that natural man, in his fallen state, has the ability to think clearly about God. Natural man cannot do so. This is part of what we mean by total depravity. Sin corrupts every part of us, including our minds. Sin warps our thinking so that we get wrong ideas about God. We can see this even in our own lives as Christians. We are still quite capable of distorting God’s truth by our own sin. How many times do we rationalize sin? We do that because we do not want to stop sinning in that manner. So we justify our sin, even though we know that such sin is wrong. We try desperately to quiet that annoying conscience that keeps on pricking us, but we cannot quiet the conscience. The truth about good and evil is built into us. So, seeking to suppress it is a little like trying to press down on a powerful spring. The more you try to press it down, the more it pushes back against you.

What is this truth that Paul is talking about? It is the truth that God has revealed Himself as the all-powerful God in creation. Theologians call this general revelation. Now, general revelation does not tell us everything there is to know about God. We might get that idea from the passage, but we would be misinterpreting the passage if we did. Paul says “what may be known about God is plain to them.” Paul does not mean “everything that may be known about God.” Instead he means “what we can know about God from the creation.” This is clear from verse 20, where Paul says that the creation of the world demonstrates God’s invisible qualities, namely, His eternal power and divine nature. That is what has been revealed. Notice how oddly Paul phrases himself here. He says that God’s invisible attributes have been clearly seen. How can you see something that is invisible? The last part of verse 20 tells us: through what has been made. It is a bit like Jesus’ description of the Holy Spirit in John 3. The illustration He uses is the wind. You cannot see the wind. It is invisible, since it is only air that is moving. But you can see what it does. So also, God’s nature is evident in nature. Examples are innumerable, but I will only mention one. The earth is exactly the right distance from the sun and from the moon. Any closer, and we would burn up, although we seem to have come close to that this week! Any further, and we would freeze to death, although again, we often seem to come close to that as well! The earth is spinning just the right speed for life to work. The moon influences the tides of the ocean just correctly. Everything on earth is exactly perfect for life, and there is no room for error. The idea that all these things came about by chance is simply ludicrous.

The fact is that there are no real atheists. Everyone knows that there is a God, and they know He is all-powerful and that He hates sin. They know that there is a judgment coming, which is why they are frantically seeking anything and everything to quiet that noisy conscience. They are without excuse. Many people want to know about the poor, innocent African tribesman who has never heard about Jesus. Is it fair for God to throw such a person into Hell? Well, no it wouldn’t be fair for God to condemn someone who is innocent. If the man is innocent. But are there any innocent African tribesmen? Paul would say no. All are completely without excuse. But we might object at this point and say, “But they haven’t heard the gospel? How can they be judged for rejecting Jesus when they have never heard of Him.” The answer to this is that they will not be judged for rejecting Jesus. They will be judged for rejecting God. They know about God from creation and from their own conscience. Just because they haven’t heard the Gospel does not mean that they have an excuse. It is humanity’s fault, not God’s fault, that the level of information needed to render us without excuse (general revelation) is not as much information as what we need for salvation (special revelation). The fact that any people at all hear about Jesus is pure grace from God. God does not owe everyone or even anyone a hearing of the Gospel message. Before Adam and Eve fell into sin, the revelation of God in nature was all that they needed. That was enough information. They had what they needed to obey God completely. After the Fall, however, they needed special revelation from God. They needed the message of salvation if they were to be saved. God graciously provided that in the Bible that gradually unfolded until it came to a climax in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

But what was people’s reaction to this information in creation? They rejected it by their sin. Look at verses 21-23. They all know God, but they refuse to glorify God, and they refuse to give God thanks. This is why the poor African tribesman is without excuse. On the information that he has, he needs to glorify God as God and he needs to thank God for everything that he has. He cannot do that in his fallen state. Instead, their thinking becomes futile, their hearts are darkened. They became fools, even in the very process of claiming to be wise. And they make a very terrible exchange: they exchange the glory of God for anything to put in God’s place. What a reaction! They get rid of their greatest good in order to worship what is clearly not God. They make idols, in other words. We may not think that these temptations are ours today, but they most certainly are. We may not worship birds and animals and reptiles, but we certainly worship humans! We love to worship ourselves. And those who worship nature are also on the rise. The whole “Mother Nature” movement is an idolatry of creation. Which is more glorious: the creation or the one who creates it? Surely it is the Creator who deserves all praise and thanks!

Here, then, is the flow of Paul’s thought through the passage: the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all sin. The sin of humanity tries to the suppress the truth about God. But this truth is clearly revealed in creation in such a way that all are without excuse. But sin in the hearts of human beings will do everything to avoid that terrible truth of God’s wrath and judgment. Therefore they will worship anything and everyone before they will worship God. But their denial of the truth does not make the truth any less true, does it? The wrath of God is coming whether or not we acknowledge it or not. I remember a coyote-roadrunner cartoon where coyote was in a stationary railroad car, and a train was coming to smash the railroad car. He didn’t have time to do anything or get out of the railroad car. So he simply drew down the curtain so that he couldn’t see the train coming. Of course that didn’t stop the train from hitting the railroad car at full force. It was a feeble attempt to deny the truth. And that is what all attempts to deny God’s judgment are: feeble! God is coming to judge the living and the dead, and His wrath will be poured out against all evildoers!

So why should we love God for His wrath? What sense does that make? It makes sense to love God for His wrath because God has poured out His wrath on Jesus Christ in our place! Jesus Christ was called a fool. He became “foolish” in our place, as it were. It is very foolish to want to take on oneself the divine wrath. But Jesus wanted to do just that because of His love for us. You see, the good news of salvation doesn’t mean anything without the bad news that God’s wrath is directed towards us. In the good news, Jesus diverts God’s wrath from falling on us, so that it falls on Him instead. Going back to the coyote-roadrunner cartoon for a minute, it is as if we are coyote, waiting for the train to come and hit us, but before it can hit us, Jesus Christ comes and quickly builds a fork in the tracks (after all, anything is possible in the cartoon world, isn’t it?). He builds this fork and the train goes on the fork instead of hitting us. But Jesus does not get out of the way of the train, which then hits Him will all the force in the world. Can’t we see then, that the wrath of God is also in a sense God’s love? God cannot love us without hating our sin. And God wants to show us just how much He loves us by diverting His wrath from us so that it lands on Jesus Christ. And then, at last, we can come back to the one who is preparing a house for us. We wouldn’t want the new heavens and the new earth to have any blemish or sin or evil of any kind, would we? The wrath of God is so complete and total, that there will be no evil left. If God’s wrath were even slightly less powerful than it is, we might justly fear that there would be evil in the world that God is preparing. But be thankful that God’s wrath is so complete that all evil will be eradicated, and we will have no fear of evil ever again. So be thankful for the wrath of God. It is God’s holy anger against sin. And it is the flip-side of God’s love for us.

This has several implications for us beyond what we have already said. First of all, it has great importance for our evangelism. We may think that we should not start with the wrath of God in evangelism. However, if people don’t know that there is a problem, they will never flee to the solution, will they? How can people be saved if they don’t think that they need to be saved? Saved from what, after all? Paul starts his entire gospel of salvation by speaking about the wrath of God. We may not downplay or ignore what Paul has done here. And it is a good model for us to follow.

Secondly, whenever we sin, we are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. This is just as possible for Christians to do, as for non-Christians. What are we suppressing? We are suppressing that voice of conscience that tells us that what we are doing is wrong. We need to listen to that voice of conscience.

Thirdly, we need to glorify God and give Him thanks. If we do not glorify God by worshiping Him, and if we do not thank Him, then we are worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator. We are worshiping ourselves. We will become darkened in our thinking. We must not think that these things could not happen to us because we are Christians. Sin has all sorts of effects in our lives, far beyond what we even imagine. And it is very foolish indeed to underestimate sin’s power in the life of even a believer.

And fourthly, we need to see God in what He has made. Every little flower that opens, and every bird that sings. God has made them, every one, and He made their tiny wings. He is as evident in the petals of a flower as He is in the most powerful hurricane. God’s work is everywhere, and He is everywhere working! We need to see Him at work. God’s amazing love for us is demonstrated in that He rules every particle of this universe all for our benefit, so that we could have a beautiful world in which to live. Small thanks to God if we never worship Him, or are lax in our worship, or our thanks! Worship Him and give Him thanks, yes, even for His wrath!

Jackie Evancho and Singing

This is a 10-year old girl with a rather amazing voice. It reminds me a lot of how Charlotte Church used to sing. But I can tell even now that she has some vocal problems. Her voice is way too heavy for someone that age. And singing “O Mio Babbino Caro” at age 10 is not what I would recommend either. She needs to slow down. She definitely has the raw materials to be a good opera singer, maybe even great, but she needs to go quite a bit slower than what she’s doing right now. She needs to concentrate on a natural unforced sound production, and she needs to sing a very light and carefully guarded repertoire. The twenty-four Italian songs and arias would be a good place to start, as well as some of the lighter Mozart songs. Folk songs would also be very good for her. But if they try to push her into operatic roles that are too heavy for her, then she will go the same way as Charlotte Church, with a ruined voice. It will be to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. That would be too bad, since she has so much enthusiasm, and she can very much engage the audience.

New Lease on Life

The website Beginning With Moses has a new lease on life, after being nearly dormant for two years, they have updated their look, and added many new resources, many of which are from some of the very sharpest minds in biblical theology. Go take a look.

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