OverReview: Christianity and Liberalism

Despite the title of this book, it has nothing to do with politics. Well, it interacts with politics insofar as it critiques a Christianity that is only interested in dogooding. But primarily this book is a robust defense of the fundamental tenants of the Christian faith, and how by discarding the divinity of Christ, the authority of the Scriptures, the reality of sin and the need for repentance, a different religion from Christianity has been constructed.

Although he has the reputation as a restless warrior, Machen is surprisingly gregarious. He waxes about what all true Christian sects have in common that allow us to identify each other as brothers. He discusses the doubts and issues a believer might face while still identifying them as a true Christian. What he has no time for are preachers who reduce Jesus to being a ‘good teacher’ (For if Jesus is not who he claimed to be, he was a madman, not someone worthy of emulation), discard the Bible and essentially want to turn the church into a social club with a vaguely spiritual gloss. What he especially takes issue with are the ministers who lie, who take oaths confessing they subscribe to doctrines, belief in the Bible, and specific creeds/confessions, then turn around and openly dispute them. He has respect for the Unitarian church as they’re honest about what they believe. He disagrees with them appreciates their candor. He has no patience for those who wanted to turn (and are succeeding) in turning the Presbyterian church into a Unitarian church.

Machen was right. The denomination he was defending is now rife with those preaching exactly what he feared, that Jesus was not God, God is not Triune, there is no resurrection, and that there is no hell (and possibly no heaven). This is not a form of Christianity, but something different altogether. And we should be wary of those who use vague spiritual notions to try and make the world a better place. Reading this helped snap into place why Machen stood opposed to the Christian push for Prohibition and why he refused the invitation to speak at the Scopes Trial. This book is just as applicable today as it was when it was first printed.

I have the feeling that if someone in Machen’s orthodox camp spoke like he did… well he wouldn’t be invited to any conferences. It’s no wonder that Machen is a forgotten titan most in the Young, Restless and Reformed crowd are unfortunately ignorant of.

Death of Friendships

This weekend I went to a funeral for an old friend. I’ve been to funerals before, those were all for grandparents and the family members of co-workers though. Sad, a time to mourn, but expected. This was the first funeral I’ve attended for a contemporary though, and it was far, far too soon for that.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know Andrew. Some of my very first concrete memories were at his house, with his family. Spending birthdays together, hanging out after church and countless sleepovers. We both shared a goofy sense of humor that fed and grew off our interaction. The difference, and it always was a big difference even at a young age, was that Andrew was a performer, he was conscious about creating art and that was something that drove him. He was the one who came up with the idea that we could create ‘art books’ out of our drawings by folding pieces of paper in half and stapling them down the spine. Our obsession with goofy music we listened to on his record player (like ‘On Top of Spaghetti’ or ‘Does Your Chewing Gum Lose it’s Flavor’) spurred him to record his own songs and sketches with his older brother on cassette tapes. These were precious relics of my childhood. Night after night I’d fall asleep listening to them, laughing.

When my parents moved our family away from the Foursquare church our friendship continued, but it was harder without those after church visits. We kept in touch off and on, slowly dwindling off through middle school and into the high school years. I remember when we were just entering into the teenage years and he began to struggle with anorexia. Andrew was mercilessly bullied (Yes, bullying happens in private Christian schools. Sometimes I fear it’s even worse there than in public schools) and one of his taunter’s favorite targets was his weight (and he was never, by any stretch of the imagination, overweight). That hit him hard and he veered hard into depression and extreme measures to control it. I remember walking with him to McDonalds weekend after weekend we had together to buy us food, naively thinking that that must be how you solve that sort of issue. It was the first time I was confronted with a serious issue that couldn’t be easily solved.

The hard break was probably in high school when he was at Kamiakin and I was in Running Start. He lasered in on his obvious talents in music and performance and found a group of friends that could foster that passion. I doubled down on my interest in computers and found friends with a similar drive. Not sharing a church, school, friends, or even primary interests anymore was just not enough to sustain a committed, deep friendship. There was never any hard break, or argument that ended things, it was slow, gradual erosion as we silently drifted apart into our own respective worlds.

In the years that followed after high school we both stuck to our respective courses. I got a job in a computer/information oriented field, and Andrew was involved in many musical processes. His band, Run From Cover, was one of the best known in the area. I always saw their name being touted on the signs of pubs and venues alongside performance dates. I ran into him a handful of times, usually at a venue where he was performing. But most significantly was when he worked at the coffee shop close to my office and we were unexpectedly reunited. For a while I’d see him every week or so there, we’d chat briefly and wish each other well. We’d always talk about getting together and hanging out, not now but sometime soon of course. Nothing concrete was planned or ever really scheduled, it was always an open-ended affair, set in the nebulous future.

I suppose we thought, or at least I thought, that there was no rush. We had all the time in the world and there was no reason to rush or force anything. I was busy after all, right? And so was he, with his jobs and gigs and practice… we’d get around to it when we both had just a bit more time. But that’s exactly what we didn’t have, time. I had no clue what a precious gift I was passing up by not seizing the opportunity and, at the very least, getting a handful of evenings to reconnect with my oldest friend.

It’s made me think of other times in the past decade where I’ve passed over the opportunity to spend time with old friends because I was too busy, too tired, because I’d really rather have done something else. I’ll reply later but never do. What a fool I am. What other last in a lifetime moments am I missing by not prioritizing people and those relationships? The worst thing I fear is that it doesn’t matter, the next time this chance presents itself I’ll probably have an excuse and pass it by like I always do.

When my mother sent me a link to the Tri-City Herald article about the fatal motorcycle accident, my heart raced when I saw a name I recognized, ‘Andrew Luttrell’ as my brain racked itself trying to come to grips with his death. When I had the cognizance to actually read it, I breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn’t the one killed. It didn’t cross my mind to reach out to him, it didn’t cross my mind how heavily the toll of being responsible for this accident would weigh on him, it didn’t cross my mind that he’d need help and comfort. He was fine, and I had more time. When a friend shared the article about the suicide of a “suspect” in the motorcycle accident, my mind went numb. My mind had already processed his death last week, and couldn’t really do so again so soon. It felt just as unreal. In the following days I learned how closely the perimeters of our lives had been, newer friends I had been in close and constant contact with new Andrew intimately, even better than I did. I had no clue these people knew Andrew so well but for years our lives and friendships bordered each other but never quite crossed over.

Goodbye, Andrew. I think you’d be happy to know how many times I laughed during your funeral when memories of your antics were brought up.

 

 

The Three Covenants

This episode was a doozy. Despite being the shortest one so far it introduced some profound concepts that had me backtracking so often it probably became the longest one yet for me. Lets dig in.

Covenants help us see the unity in Scripture, that it’s not a collection of random books with little to no relation to each other. This is especially true in regards to the Old Testament which many Christians treat to be of little to no relevance today. But Covenants don’t just help us, they are vital to understanding Scripture. The word covenant is used hundreds of times in Scripture. The word first appears in relation to Noah, but the concept itself begins at the Garden. A Covenant of Works is established after man’s creation, followed by a Covenant of Grace after the Fall.

A Covenant of Works can be simply summarized as “Do this and live.” It is dependent on our obedience both in doing and omission. A Covenant of Grace is God’s free favor to a sinner.

Evangelicals, thanks to the rise of dispensationalism and the influence of anabaptist theology often object to he idea of a Covenant of Grace. It clashes with the revivalistic/pietistic mentality we have that focuses on an individualistic, born again experience. We are focused much more on our personal, unique, individual relationship to God rather than our place within his whole plan of salvation. This focus over the past century and a half has lead evangelicals becoming unfamiliar with covenant theology, but unfamiliarity does not mean unimportant, it only shows holes in our knowledge.

Reformed theology has been Covenantal since the beginning. Our earliest theologians immediately recognized and worked on explaining the history of salvation. We must introduce Christians to the hundreds of times in the Old Testament and dozens in New Testament that Scripture uses the word Covenant, how it is used and why. This will give us better understanding and appreciation of Law, Gospel, and the unity of salvation.

There is a strong impulse to combat Covenant Theology by turning Abraham into Moses and not distinguishing the two, blurring the distinctions between the two Covenants. After all, if Abraham is indistinguishable from Moses then we can do away with him and his distinctives, just as everything distinctly Mosaic has passed away. But if we do this we run into the problem with much of the New Testament that consistently appeals to Abraham, his Covenant, and our birthright as his children, but does not make similar appeals to Moses.

There are three primary Covenants working throughout history:

The Covenant of Redemption – This is the eternal covenant made before the history of the world, within eternity, between the Persons of the Trinity. The Father gave his Son a people, the Son voluntarily agreed to save them, and the Spirit applies redemption for those whom the Son attoned, died, and was raised.

ESS (Eternal Subordination of the Son) Note – Some appeal to this to try to prove Son is ontologicaly subordinate to the Father. This is not true. Nowhere do we suggest Son is in his Being subordinate. he is eternally begotten yes, and submits yes, but voluntarily as a Person. Thus this is an economic and not ontological subordination. Each Person of the Trinity is equal by nature in power, substance and authority.

This Covenant of Redemption plays out in the following two Covenants:

The Covenant of Works – This covenant first appears in the promise of eternal life and blessedness to Adam and Eve in the Garden, conditioned upon their perfect and total obedience (Do this and live, as we said above). We were capable before the Fall of keeping this Covenant and obeying the Law. The Trees of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. The Trees are both symbols and sacraments of this Covenant. After Adam’s disobedience and the promise made in the Garden, the Covenant of Works now plays out by the Son’s promise to obey on behalf of those the Father has given him. He is their substitute and representative, and his obedience is credited to them. That leads us into…

The Covenant of Grace – The Covenant of Grace is the promise to and provision of the Son, from all eternity, to voluntarily become a substitute and save those the Father gave him. Christ’s fulfillment of the Covenant of Works is applied to us via the Covenant of Grace. Grace for us who receive the benefits of his obedience… By Grace Alone, through Faith Alone in Christ Alone. Thus the Covenant of Grace is not conditioned on our own obedience, but the continued obedience of a substitute. The seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent. The instrument by which we receive this is faith. Trusting and Resting in the promised Messiah/Mediator is how this instrument plays.

Thus the principles of the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace are radically different. While they both promise eternal life and blessings they do so on a different basis. Covenant of Works is to those who meet the terms of the covenant by obedience. In a Gracious Covenant the benefits are given freely, unconditioned by our obedience and received through resting in the Promised One.

The Covenant of Redemption is the unfolding story of the two Seeds, the Seed of the Serpent and the Seed of the Woman. The broken Covenant of Works and the restorative Covenant of Grace. Adam to Noah is a story of the consequence of the Fall and the punishment humanity rightly deserves. Yet Noah is saved through grace, not by his own merit or righteousness, but solely at God’s discretion and pleasure. Types and shadows like this abound in the Old Testament, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, even the Babylonian exile. The Covenant of Works is imprinted in the heart and mind of humanity, and thus continues to work throughout history. If you are not within the Covenant of Grace you are subject to the Covenant of Works and subject to its standards.

The Mosaic theocracy (national Israel) was another outworking of the Covenant of Works. Reformed folk have differed on how to relate the two, and it has become quite a controversial subject as of late, but according to Dr. Clark, this is the historic Reformed position. The legal covenant with Moses at Sinai is an echo of the earlier covenant made with Adam. This covenant is not for salvation, nor justification, but as a reminder to the Israelites of their sin and misery, pointing them towards their need for a savior. Again, this is not salvation via works or compliance to the Law, but as a powerful witness to the continuing demand of the Law and our inability to meet it. See Galations 3 and 4 for Paul contrasting the Abrahamic Covenant with the Mosaic. The Covenant of Grace expressed with Abraham never went away, the imposition of the Mosaic Covenant did not change God’s promise to him. The Mosaic Covenant was a temporary expression of the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, another type and shadow, illustrated through a national people with sacrifices and a priesthood that pointed towards the One True High Priest and the One and Only Sacrifice. Paul says what makes one a true Israelite is not circumcision but faith. Abraham is thus the father of all who believe. Typological promises (like land) were temporary expressions of the more fundamental promise of a Savior.

Jesus said his was a new covenant, ratified in his own blood. he was the fulfillment of that first promise to Adam and Eve. He is the mediator and the New Adam. The new covenant is new relative to Moses, it has Abraham as the paradigm. It is a renewal of original promise in light of the advent of the Son.

 

 

The Overarching Story

Episode Two is centered around the reading and interpretation of Scripture, and doing so in the right way. Our different conclusions from the Scripture come from reading it with different assumptions on the nature of things, the authority of the Bible, and how we read the text.

We believe that when we read Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, that they tell one, overarching, universal story. This is very different from the modern evangelical method of reading book by book, chapter by chapter, or even verse by verse as if it stands and is to be interpreted as it stands by itself rather than interpret it from within the whole of Scripture. This is a nail in the coffin for the convenient practice of proof-texting, but that is a small price to pay for a more accurate, consistent reading of the Holy Word.

People are often distrustful of those with those interpretive method because of how we try to relate things to eachother (like say, circumcision and baptism). They may think those trying to link/relate things are being dishonest or reading too much into the text rather than let it stand on its own (see above). The problem is that if everything is unrelated to everything else, then there is no real meaning to the text at all anyway. But, if the concepts do relate to eachother then there is a realator, one who organizes things. If there is order then there is meaning and we must see and receive that meaning rather than construct it ourselves. As readers of Scripture, we are not sovereign over the text. We are not to read it with the lens of how it relates to us. Rather we are subject to the text. By saying the Bible has an overarching story, we are not trying to impose our will or interpretation on others, rather we are merely asserting that the book has meaning. This is possible due to the influence of the guiding inspiration of one Holy Spirit, who allows for one meaning amidst many particulars.

Dispensationalists believe the Bible has a unifying story, but it’s a story centered around national Israel. Everything in the Bible prior to the establishment of national Israel leads up to it and everything afterwards is about the restoration of national Israel. It is a national/ethnic-centric, or Israelocentric view of the Scriptures.

The modern method of reading the Bible is how it directly relates to the reader. It does not matter what the author intended to communicate or any historic/literary context, what matters is what it means to the reader. This is commonly known in literary criticism circles as ‘Death of the Author’ (that the author’s intent is meaningless, what matters is what the reader can read into it for himself), Even in Bible studies conducted by faithful, well meaning churches we read the text and are then asked what that text means to us. You cannot read Scripture subjectively like this. You wouldn’t put your own meaning/interpretation on a stop sign, how much less should you attempt to force it upon Scripture? This sort of literary method is contra-Christian Charity (Love thy neighbor as thyself). When we write letters (or blog posts!) we want others to read us charitably, that is, to be read as we intended to be read, with no additional or entirely different meaning foisted upon us. We must do the same for others, including biblical authors.

Neither the modern or dispensational methods are historical methods for reading Scripture. Neither are how Scripture reads itself! It assumes the authors did not understand what they were writing, or know what they were doing.  In Luke 24, before the first words of the New Testament were inked, Christ claimed that the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms were about him. When he opened their mind to understand the Scriptures, he opened their mind to understand the Old Testament and how its overarching story is about him, Christ. The pharisees also did not interpret the Bible correctly. Many think they had the proper system, but reached the wrong conclusion. Jesus tells us otherwise in John 5 when he tells them that they have set their hope on the Mosaic law, but if they truly read and understood Moses, they would believe Jesus. But since they don’t truly understand, or even believe Moses, why should we expect them to believe Jesus?

The next section of the episode is very interesting and is something I’d love to delve into in more detail at a later date. It’s about theophany, the appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. A common misconception of the Bible is that before the New Testament, believers had direct access to God the Father. However, it’s Jesus, God the Son, who is our mediator to God the Father. “Whoever sees me, sees the Father”. The Son is the revelation of God. “No one has seen God, the only begotten God has seen him” Thus all incarnations of God in the Old Testament, He who walked in the Garden, that Jacob wrestled with, Moses saw the back of on Sinai, and Gideon interacted with, were all incarnations of the Son.

In John 8, the pharisees claim to be children of Abraham. Jesus repudiates this based on their conduct and treatment of him, and claims that Abraham rejoiced when he saw the coming of Christ. “Before Abraham was, I Am” A clear echo of “I Am That I Am”. Jesus interprets Psalms to be about him (John 18:11 for one example)  and as we saw previously in Luke 24-25, the entirety of the Old Testament was centered around him. Thus we are not reading Christ INTO Scripture, he simply refuse to read him OUT of it.

Reading the Bible with one overarching story helps us see that there was also one overarching plan for salvation, the Covenant of Grace. This Covenant is not merely unifying in the typological sense (Types and Shadows pointing to the actual fulfillment in Christ), but it is unifying in its substance. We are all saved in the same way by the same Gospel by the same Savior. We are saved in the same way that God saved his people even before his Incarnation as Jesus Christ. Abraham was the first Christian, thousands of years before the Incarnation. While there were believers before Abraham, it is the same Covenant of Grace that you and I share with Abraham. God did not start over and re-work the plan and method of salvation after the Resurrection.

As we established above, all mediation with God done in the Old Testament was done via the mediator, the Son. Thus the incarnation of Christ did not cut off our access to God, rather it became something greater as he became like us (Hebrews 4:15). As the mediator, it is the Son, or Jesus, who was with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Thus it was the Son who committed himself to conquer the enemy in an act of self-sacrifice. He also passed through the pieces for Abraham, swearing an oath against his own life. (My note: This raises quite the conundrum for those who view a vast gulf between a vengeful, angry OT God and a loving God and Jesus in the NT)

So we see that the Bible is not a random collection of stories, it is one story told throughout every genre and at every point of history. It is not about you or me or a particular nation or race, it is about the Son of God Incarnate.

Pyramid Brewing – Outburst Citrus

Poor Pyramid. They used to be a staple of the PNW beer scene but they seem to be losing shelf space almost as quickly as they’re closing their Alehouses. Pyramid, along with the Widmer brothers, was best known for bringing the hefeweizen to the Pacific Northwest, as well as fruit beers with their ‘Apricot Ale’. You used to be able to find these beers in every store and gas station across the state, but these days they seem relegated, oddly enough, to specialty beer stores.

Compare and contrast.

If I had to mark turning point for Pyramid it would be back in 2008 when they rebranded their classic, familiar Pyramid logo for a pile of hot garbage. This was especially egregious with their flagship Hefe which they renamed ‘Haywire Hefeweizen’ along with a redesign that’s reminiscent of the worst of 90s fashion. That same year they shut down brewing operations in their home turf of Seattle, Washington, and they shortly started to disappear from store shelves.

 

 

So imagine my surprise when I saw a Pyramid beer at my local grocer’s for the first time in years. Surprise surprise, it’s another citrus forward IPA, this years most popular beer trend. What they’ve done is take their established ‘Outburst’ Imperial IPA brand and throw in some orange and tangerine peels for the citrus taste. Unfortunately it doesn’t work well, we’re dealing with an Imperial IPA here, you’re going to have to do more than that. What we end up with is a funky tasting, hop heavy IPA that is hardly reminiscent of citrus at all. Nothing about this beer stands out to me as unique, special, or even solid. A disappointing return from Pyramid, and I doubt I’ll even notice when it inevitably disappears as well.

Mouthfeel: Thin and hoppy

Aroma: At least a note of citrus here.

Hops: Standard, heavy hopped Imperial IPA

Je Ne Sais Quoi: Not deliberately offensive

Overall: C-

Moses was not Abraham. Abraham was not Moses.

The first episode and introduction to the series ‘I Will be a God to You and to Your Children’ lays out the basic premises and foundation that Dr. Clark will focus on to build the case for infant baptism. He also establishes why this is such an important issue that we cannot just ignore for the sake of peace.

This will read a lot more like student notes than an actual blog post. These are the Big Points I took away from listening to the program.

As a former evangelical Baptist himself, I appreciate that Dr. Clark always refers to those who disagree with us the most, the baptists, as “Our Baptist Friends” while also noting that this isn’t just something we live and let live on. We must still be friendly and charitable with our Baptist brothers and sisters, but this distinction on who may (or must!) be baptized is an important issue that rightly divides us. It is not mean-spirited to acknowledge that.

The practice of infant baptism is not just traditional, but also historical and (most importantly) biblical. While there is no proof verse that explicitly states that infants must be baptized, that should not dissuade us. There is no proof text for the Trinity either (an even more important and vital doctrine). Rather, both infant baptism and the Trinity is a good and necessary consequence of applying proper and consistent hermeneutics to the whole of Scripture.

Infant Baptism has been a doctrine of the Reformed Faith from the beginning. This is established in the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Lord’s Day 27:

74. Are infants also to be baptized?

Yes, for since they belong to the covenant and people of God as well as their parents,1 and since redemption from sin through the blood of Christ,2 and the Holy Spirit  who works faith, are promised to them no less than to their parents,3 they are also by Baptism, as the sign of the Covenant, to be ingrafted into the Christian Church, and distinguished from the children of unbelievers,4 as was done in the Old Testament by Circumcision,5 in place of which in the New Testament Baptism is instituted.6

1 Gen 17:7. 2 Matt  19:14. 3 Luke 1:14,15. Ps 22:10. Acts 2:39. 4 Acts 10:47 5Gen 17:14. 6 Col 2:11-13.

as well as the Belgic Confession (1561), Article 34 :

…we detest the error of the Anabaptists who are not content with a single baptism once received and also condemn the baptism of the children of believers. We believe our children ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as little children were circumcised in Israel on the basis of the same promises made to our children.
And truly, Christ has shed his blood no less for washing the little children of believers than he did for adults. Therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of what Christ has done for them, just as the Lord commanded in the law that by offering a lamb for them the sacrament of the suffering and death of Christ would be granted them shortly after their birth. This was the sacrament of Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, baptism does for our children what circumcision did for the Jewish people. That is why Paul calls baptism the “circumcision of Christ.”

This is not simply a repetition of the doctrine of Rome, but a distinctly Reformed understanding of the sacrament, with Scripture as the source of the doctrine.

The majority of evangelicals, even those who don’t identify themselves as “Baptists” believe in “believer-only” or credobaptism (Baptism due to belief). However most of these are unfamiliar with the Reformed perspective on baptism and our arguments. Some of these evangelicals claim their belief is based simply on what the Bible clearly says without trying to read more into it or relying on tradition. This is not true. No one, not even “just me and my Bible” types truly reads the bible in “splendid isolation”. We all read the Bible with others and are informed by others.

The question we should have for our Baptist friends is how are we in the New Covenant related to Abraham? Romans 4 and Galations 3 touch upon how the Abrahamic Covenant relates to us as children of Abraham. Baptist teaching doesn’t reflect the truth of believers in Christ being Abraham’s heirs very well. They tend to treat Abraham as a proto-Moses, but he is the father of many nations (us believing Gentiles) and the Covenant established with him and his children is an everlasting Covenant. According to Paul and Jesus, Christians are Abraham’s successors and in Acts when Peter is preaching he echos God’s words to Abraham “This promise is to you and to your children, and to those who are far off.”

Dr. Clark summarizes the various views on the sacrament of baptism in the following way:

Roman Catholic– Baptism is the means of spiritual renewal and initial justification and sanctification through the infusion of grace received in baptism. Without it one cannot be saved ordinarily without it. Baptism gives us saving grace.

SBC  – Baptism is a public testimony of faith in Christ. You must have reached the age of discretion. Article 29 of the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) echos this. Anabaptists, evangelical baptists and 1689 particular baptists agree on this issue.

Lutheran – According to article 9 of the Augsburg Confession (1530), Baptism is so closely related to the gospel that through it Christians receive eternal life and without it Christians cannot receive assurance of salvation

Reformed – Baptism is a means of sanctifying grace and a gospel ministry to the people of God. It is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, illustrating what Christ has done for his people and sealing salvation for those who believe.

Each of these views is built on assumptions about how God works in the lives of his followers.

The Roman Catholic view confuses the Thing (salvation) with the Sign of it (Baptism). They don’t confess that baptism is the Sign of the Thing but it is in fact the Thing itself. This is summarized by the Latin phrase “Ex opere operato” (from the work worked). Unfortunately for this view, Scripture does not teach or imply that baptism necessarily confers what it signifies to all who receive it.

The Baptist view treats the entire Old Testament as if it were part of the Old Covenant. Paul and Hebrews however clarify that the Old Covenant lasted from the time of Moses to the Cross. Thus, Abraham is not an Old Covenant figure. Adam is not an Old Covenant figure. Noah is not an Old Covenant figure. Moses, Joshua, David, etc… they were all Old Covenant figures. The Old Testament is full of imperfect types and shadows that are illustrations of and anticipation for Christ.

The National Covenant that began with the Mosaic Covenant is now over, that’s what the Mosaic Covenant was. The moral law given to Moses, the 10 Commandments is still in effect, just as it was in effect before the time of Moses. However, the Civil and Ceremonial law (types and shadows) are no longer applicable as their entire purpose has been fulfilled in Christ.

The establishment of the New Covenant does not mean that infant initation into the covenant community (Baptism) must be explicitly reinstated. Abraham is still the paradigm. If anything, infant initiation must be explicitly revoked. The Baptist view tends to assume that Abraham is like Moses, and since Moses has expired so has Abraham. While it’s true that circumcision is no longer required, that is because it was a bloody shadow of Christ’s death on the cross. However, infant initiation is still an important aspect of the New Covenant.

New Covenant does not mean that infant initiaiton be explicitly re-established. Abraham is still the paradigm. It must be explicitly revoked. Baptists assume Moses = Abraham and since Moses has expired so has Abraham. Circumcision is no longer required. It is a bloody shadow of Christ’s death on the cross. But infant initiation is still an important aspect.

The Baptist view tends to treat the apostles as having said, “I know for 2000 years we’ve been initiating our children, but it’s the new covenant and we don’t do that anymore.” If you were Jewish and heard that you would be alarmed, that would have to be explicitly addressed.

We in the Reformed camp treat Moses and Abraham differently. Everything distinctly Mosaic has been fulfilled and abrogated. -But not everything God told Moses has been abrogated because not everything God told Moses is distinctly Mosaic. Some a repeating of what he said to Moses is a repeating of what he told Adam, what he told Noah, and what he told Abraham. This never expires.

We must remember that the New Covenant is new relative to Moses, not but not the everlasting Covenant of Abraham. The New Covenant is a new adminstration of the Abramaic Covenant.

This episode made me realize how ignorant I am of the general message and theology in Galations. I need to correct that pronto. But it also reinforced how a proper reading and understanding of the administration and nature of the various covenants between God and his people is critical to understanding our relationship to God and how he treats us.

 

Sierra Nevada – Sidecar

The Sidecar I know is a classic cocktail. cognac, Cointreau (or, if you’re cheap like me, triple sec), and lemon juice. Although I personally preferred the White Lady variant, which replaces the cognac with gin. For a time after I turned 21 I became obsessed with cocktails and mixing drinks. I charitably blame my mother, she knows why! I quickly became bored with modern staples like the Long Island Ice Tea and the AMF and (because I was/am insufferable) began to focus on the classics and their variants. The sour, the daquiri, the negroni, martini and yes, the sidecar.

Like I noted in my review of the IPApaya, fruit forward IPAs are the new ‘it’ thing. This I suppose is a variation of that because Sierra Nevada took their famous pale ale and added a citrus twinge to it. The result is nothing like the sidecar cocktail (which uses lemon juice, not orange juice anyway, maybe they should have called it a screwdriver?) but is a solid, fruit forward beer with a refreshing bright profile.

I have to wonder how long this fad will last. It’s definitely more interesting than “moar hops iz moar better” but it must be harder to market. With fruit forward beers the advertising and labels have to focus around fruit, and fruity drink are what GIRLS drink. Not manly men in plaid flannel and beards with axes who drink craft beer. Hop heavy beers had incredibly violent names with a focus on nuclear explosions and other weaponry. New Belgium’s newest mascot for their line of IPAs is a skeleton. A SKELETON.

Still, definitely a better alternative to the tepid torrent of shandy variants Leinenkugel puts out in an attempt to capture the Mikes Hard/Smirnoff Ice market.

Mouthfeel: Bright and happy

Aroma: Like a Florida summer. You be the judge of that

Hops: Citrusy hops. What else would it be?

Je Ne Sais Quoi: Doesn’t live up to its own hype. Could work as an obnoxious drink alternative on St. Patrick’s Day though.

Overall: B-

 

Remedial Covenant Theology

On May 21st, 2017 my son will be received into the life of the Christian church through baptism. Ordinary water representing something truly remarkable, the sign and seal of entry into the Covenant and God’s promise to us as well as our children.

While I have a working grasp of the theology of paedobaptism, I have to admit it’s shaky, or at least not as strong as I’d like it to be. After all, just up until recently the two sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were almost interchangeable in intent and purpose in my mind. I’ve since learned better, but being so wrong for so long shows me that it’s definitely time to brush up on the fundamentals. After all, paedobaptism isn’t an end in and of itself, it’s simply an important part in the working of Covenant Theology, a Reformed distinctive. It’s not just about practicing paedobaptism, it’s about doing it within context of the correct framework, in a way that separates us from the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, or even our good friends the Lutherans.

So what better time to deep dive into this than the weeks leading up to my own child’s baptism? I apologize if this topic is off-putting at all to some, but thankfully I know for a fact that no one reads this blog and the entire exercise is purely for my own benefit.

To guide my study through this, as the video above suggests, I’ll be using R Scott Clark’s primer on Infant Baptism and Covenant theology. Specifically I’ll be focusing on his podcast series ‘I Will Be a God to You and to Your Children‘. Why R Scott Clark when there are so many other books and resources I could use? Well, the Heidelblog is free and readily accessible, and in my opinion a rich resource for researching traditional Reformed theology (and piety and practice as I’m sure RSC would be quick to point out). Dr. Clark has the ability, especially on his podcast, to explain what can be complicated and confusing concepts in a clear and concise way. RSC is also an ordained minister within my own church’s federation, as well as a professor of Church History at Westminster Seminary California (where my church seems to source the majority of our summer interns). So not only does he know his stuff, but it’s the stuff my own church confesses and would approve of.

Weirdly and lastly though, it’s because I disagree with him on some important matters. Dr. Clark holds to Exclusive Psalmody and acapella worship (I’m still wrestling with the issues of images of the Trinity, specifically the Son, and the 2nd Commandment). I don’t, and I used to think those were crazy positions that only backwards loonies would hold to. But Dr. Clark is able to argue his case in a compelling and intelligent way that impresses me a great deal.

I always respect someone who can take what I thought was an easily settled, black and white issue and make me step back and think ‘Dang, those are some good arguments’.

I Heckin’ Love Science

Apparently there’s a march for science going on today. That’s fantastic, I love science. Despite what some may think considering my homeschool background, my family never shied away from the subject. I would watch Bill Nye and Beakman (my younger sister and I can still recite the ‘fat head’ Bill Nye skit), read Asimov’s books on the solar system for kids, Richard Feynman was a personal hero of mine, and my whole family even enjoyed atheist-utopia shows like Star Trek (we were a Deep Space Nine family. Or at least, that’s what I mostly remember watching). My dad even owned a serious telescope and was a member of the local astronomy club. We just didn’t live up to the stereotype of the religious homeschoolers who had to bury their head in the sand at the word ‘evolution’. While other Christian kids we knew (who were educated in Public schools) would burst out in tongues in biology class when evolution was discussed (as some sort of misguided witness), my parents recommended that we study and learn the subject matter properly. I think their approach worked, by not treating it as something unholy or dangerous, it was never anything that threatened my faith in the slightest.

Unfortunately, I think my parents had a higher regard for science than a lot of “pro-science” advocates I see today. “Science” (Although really it’s pop science, not science proper) has become a weaponized political tool to wield against the rubes and yokels who have different political opinions than you do. It doesn’t matter if those rubes and yokels are engineers and PHds and know more actual science than almost anyone else you know.

Pop Science has become a form of showboating and it takes almost no effort to get involved. All it really takes liking pages like “I Fucking Love Science” on facebook and then sharing Hubble Telescope photos, or some new (not yet peer reviewed) discovery  with comments like “WOW!!” and you’re in. It’s almost as easy as changing your profile picture to show solidarity behind a cause or victims of a tragedy, and almost as meaningless.

This is how dystopias begin.

Pop Science is the new priesthood that’s here to save us and the sentiment isn’t even hidden, that’s why Bill Nye has a new show called “Bill Nye Saves the World”. But priesthood always has competition. That’s why Pop Science is often not just closely allied with the New Atheism and sharply opposed to religion, but even philosophy itself. The two most visible Science celebrities, Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson by their own statements  see philosophy as useless at best and dangerous at worst. The truly thing about this is that science without philosophy is worthless, as one marchers sign I saw today said, “Science doesn’t care about your opinion, it just is.” That is scarily accurate. And science that is not kept in checked by philosophical pursuits like ethics, value, and aesthetics is a horror to behold. It’s one of the the biggest lessons the 20th century had to teach us that we have ignored outright

Of course the Science marchers aren’t being keyboard warriors, they actually are going out into the world in an attempt to accomplish… something. I applaud them for that. In fact, the local event here in my hometown appears to be much more than a simple march, but an entire educational event with talks, actual scientists holding AMAs and more. If my son was a bit older this is exactly the sort of event I’d want to take him to on a weekend. Just like I plan to watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos with him and take him to the OMSI when he’s old enough as well.

If you engage in an event like this, be sure to check your heart. Do it for real enthusiasm, or real concern, don’t do it to be smug or in an attempt to showcase your superior morality. I’m a Christian, and I acknowledge that I’m much more left leaning than most and issues like conservation and sustainability weigh heavy on my mind. In religious circles these topics fall under the theology of stewardship, it’s actually something discussed quite a bit. But there are people I know, people much smarter than me with impressive degrees in STEM fields, that disagree on some aspects of this. It would be the height of folly and pride to treat these educated people dismissively as if they’re fools. If you don’t know anyone like this, or even like me, might I suggest your personal circle is a bit too closed? If we’re truly interested in dialogue, science, and advancement, we have no room for echo chambers.

Full Sail Brewing – IPApaya

Citrus, tropical and fruity IPAs seem to have become a trend. The previous fads of the hopbomb IPA and the session IPA are slowly receding in the face of this new craze. While it has always been almost a matter of course to note the “grapefruit under/overtones” of an IPA, it is now something that is being consciously pursued by the brewers.

Full Sail Brewing’s IPApaya is being billed as a “vacation in a bottle” and at first this drink confused me. I associate the word “papaya” with a either a local sub-par thai restaurant or a hot dog joint that my New York friends wouldn’t stop talking about for awhile. The papaya itself is a fruit I have never tasted or have any preconceived notions of. Lets check it out.

This is perfect. The papaya perfectly illustrates my revulsion to fruit in general. Mishappen coloration of the shell, fleshy pulp underneath, some sort of curry/peanut butter cross breed in the core embedded with a multitude of pill bugs. Fruit is an edible horror I will never understand.

But not having any idea what an actual papaya tastes like leaves me pretty clueless as to whether this beer fulfills its mission or not. I suppose the damning note is I can’t detect a shred of anything unusual or unique about this beer that centers its identity around a unique ingredient. It’s a bit more citrusy than standard IPAs but that’s it.

All in all it’s a solid if unremarkable IPA which is rather damning given this touts itself as a rather unique beverage. I think this beer would have come across much better if it simply advertised as just another citrus or tropical IPA instead of trying to shoe-horn in some kind of unique identity

Or maybe I’m a complete idiot because I have no idea how a papaya should taste and pap-heads will go crazy over this beer. If you’re a pap-head and that’s your reaction… cool. I wish I could get that excited over this.

Mouthfeel: Appropriate

Aroma: Clean like a breeze.

Hops: There are definitely hops.

Je Ne Sais Quoi: Sadly misleading

Overall: B-