Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Thoughts by Michael Spencer.

Thoughts by Owen Strachan.

Thoughts by Morris H. Chapman.

Thoughts from the Florida Baptist Witness.

the birth of our son

  • Within one minute of James being put on Sara's chest, I was intensely crying and laughing at the same time. My torso was shaking. A watered-down way to describe it is providential euphoria.
  • Timeline: broken water about 10:00 pm on Father's Day; hospital admittance about 11:15 pm on Father's Day; and James was born at 3:06 am on Monday, June 22, 2009.
  • The championship title in the lightweight division belongs to James Walker Thompson V, weighing in at 7 lbs, 1 oz.
  • I'm more proud of my Sara than words have capacity to describe. Her slow labor was almost a week. Her intense labor was about five hours. And she went drug free. There were times when I was holding her left leg in mid-air while she was pushing and her face was purple. But she was given strength and perseverance. Thank you, Jesus.
  • I got to cut the cord. That was cool/odd. It was tough. It was like cutting a pulsing, extra-rubber twizzler.
  • The first show James and I watched together was The Bachlorette on Monday night. Probably not a good place to start :)
  • It was a sweet blessing to have our family and friends there to celebrate with us. From his birth to our hospital departure was close to 30 hours. We had about 25 or so family and friends in during that time to rejoice, cry, and be with us.
  • My mind and spirit were flooded with the faithfulness and goodness of God. Sara and I are so humbled for God to make us stewards of this boy. The Lord gives and takes away. He has given us this one who bears His image.
  • Specifically, I was reminded of how we are all wired for relationship and not detached formality. James would be at peace while I was holding him. If Sara or I laid him in his bassinet, he often started to cry. But when we were near to him, he was more at peace. Lip service, legality, formality aren't wrong. They are usually just incomplete. The experience of Father's nearness is what we are eternally promised and what we can temporally participate in. I now get to do that through loving and raising my boy. I'm very happy and scared about that.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

we had to stop

It's one thing to believe it and hold firmly to it, even if it seems against the flow. It is a whole other thing to make it your hook, your bait, and what you want to be known for.

bad denominational jokes

How many PENTECOSTALS does it take to change a light bulb?
10. 1 to change the bulb and 9 to pray against the spirits of darkness.
None. When God wants it done, He'll do it Himself.
How many CATHOLICS...
None. Candles only, please.
How many MORMONS...
6. 1 man to change the bulb and 5 women to tell him how to do it.
How many UNITARIANS...
We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, you are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.
How many BAPTISTS...
Stolen and adapted from our pal, Ben Witherington. Here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

the human condition

tie-dyed quincy

Our son, who is currently residing low in my wife's belly, will leave the hospital in style. We have freshly tie-dyed onesies for him from Sara and Aunt Narno. One is for very tiny infant James and the other is for 4-5 months James. So good.


Augustine admitted that baptism must have faith as its prerequisite. He also admitted that infants can't do that. So, for Augustine, the church believes for the infant.

Many scholastics who followed Augustine then said that the triumphant church in heaven is the source of "faith" for infants. But how so? Because they no longer need their faith and it is deposited into a treasury of merits.

When our hot-headed friend Luther took the stage, he too insisted that faith and baptism must not be divorced. But for Luther, the issue was the faith of the one being baptized ["propria"]. Because he followed the robust rationale of much Medieval thought, he did not hesitate to say that reason is often a hinderance to faith. Thus, infants, because they are unscathed by reason, actually can have faith. "In baptism, the infants themselves believe and have their own faith."

"De Baptismo" was a powerful tract published by Zwingli in which he parted ways with Rome, Luther, and many of his Anabaptist friends. In it, he wrote,
In this matter of baptism, if I may be pardoned for saying it, I can only conclude that all the doctors have been in error from the time of the apostles. This is a serious assertion, and I make it with such reluctance that I had not been compelled to do so by contentious spirits, I would have preferred to remain silent.
Zwingli divorced faith and baptism and went on to maintain the covenantal argument for baptism that is commonly held today among most paedobaptists. He was not the first to do so, but definitely one of the most polemically outspoken of his time.

For anyone who has read to this point, you're a nerd. I just needed to iron this out on a keyboard.

I've just recently read the best defense of infant baptism I've ever read. It is still unconvincing, but well-argued. It's called "What About Baptism?" by Ralph E. Bass, Jr. There are some blatant slips and errors in the book, but it's still quite direct and thoughtful. For example, he claims that the Greek word "didache" means "twelve." He was just wrongly taught on that one. It means "teaching." He also makes several systematic assumptions on the text. We all do, but Ralph's are a little too strong.

I still find "Believer's Baptism" by Schreiner and Wright to be more faithful to the biblical witness. Does it have it's own scattering of questionable logic? Sometimes. Do I agree with every jot and tittle of interpretation? Not necessarily. Do they understand the covenantal nature of the story of God revealed in the Scriptures? You bet. Is there a type-o on page 230 in my copy? Yes. But still, this book seems to put baptism closer to the final exhortation of Jesus to His disciples in Mt 28.18-20. I feel that it keeps baptism closer to the gospel, the new covenant, and the consummation of the eschaton.

Now, to both of you who endured this, leave some comment expressing your disapproval that I will likely not respond to :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009


It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch.
[from pg 234 in "Reason for God"]

ROMANS [in a sentence]

It is very clear that Tom Wright knows the Apostle Paul. This is evidenced in that he writes obscenely long sentences that are tough to follow, just like Paul. Here is a prime example [from pg 180 in "Justification"]:
Romans is a book about God, and the primary thing it is saying about God is that he is the God of faithful, just, covenant love, that this has been unveiled in the gospel message about Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah, and that through this gospel message, and the radical unveiling of God's covenant justice and faithfulness, God's saving power is going out into the world, and will not rest until creation itself is set free from its slavery to corruption and decay and shares the liberty of the glory of God's children. 

DABAQ [hebrew word of the day]

But you who HELD FAST to YHWH your God are alive today, every one of you [Dt 4.4].

You shall fear YHWH your God; you shall serve Him and CLING to Him, and you shall swear by His name [Dt 10.20].

For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love YHWH your God, to walk in all His ways and HOLD FAST to Him, then YHWH will drive out these nations from before you [Dt 11.22-23].

You shall follow YHWH your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and CLING to Him [Dt 13.4].

[also see Dt 30.19-20]

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of YHWH commanded you, to love YHWH your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and HOLD FAST to Him with all your heart and soul [Jsh 22.5].

My soul CLINGS to You; Your right hand upholds me [Ps 63.8].
But the first usage of this word in the Bible sets the stage and the imagery for these others. Keep in mind, the first employment of "dabaq" is before sin/curse/deception ever entered the picture:
For this reason, man shall leave his father and mother, and be JOINED to his wife; and they shall become one flesh [Gn 2.24].

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Ben Witherington gives his take on Wright's book and justification. And look what a playground for nerds and glorious haven this is:

Monday, June 8, 2009


Paul knew it in Romans 6. "Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? May it never be!" What's interesting, though, is that Moses understood this in Deuteronomy 6 as well.
Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Deuteronomy is a series of three "sermons" by Moses on the plains of Moab before the people enter the land. In each sermon, Moses is reminding the people of what God has done and wants them to do. You can sense that the people are not getting it like they should. Still, Moses is relentless in depicting God's gracious dealings with them.

Later, in Dt 30, Moses says that he has set before them life or death and blessing or curse. He pleads with them to choose life/blessing. In Dt 31, God pulls Moses aside and essentially tells him that the people are going to choose death/curse over life/blessing. They are going to forget and neglect the grace of God. They will not remember the extent of His promises to their fathers. They will will not cherish that He brought them up out of bondage and freed them. 

What is even more bothersome is the fact that in the land, they persist in this. Then, under their judges, they become even more selfish [Jdgs 21.25]. Under their kings, the nation is divided! When the prophets preach, they don't listen. And when their Messiah comes, many reject Him. 

Of course, we are never like this?

But there is something different about this New Covenant grace in which we stand. We don't necessarily get it all the time [see Apostle Peter], but we have been given the Spirit in a way that they had not. God's covenant people are no longer physically, ethnically, and/or geographically defined. So now, by the Spirit and because of the work of the Messiah, we, as his people, can now see and experience further grace when we don't fully understand grace. There is something humbling, odd, sweet, and dangerous about that. This kind of grace must birth faith, hope, and love. This kind of grace does not yield apathy, passivity, and pride.

May it be so with us.

happy monday

From William Rees [1802-1883]:
On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide
Grace and love like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love

Monday, June 1, 2009

sara just sent me this e-card


Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy Church.