Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Anyone who grew up in urban America during the eighties won’t soon forget the young men strolling down streets, blaring this sonic weapon from their boom boxes, with defiant glares daring anyone to ask them to turn it down.Hip-hop exploded into popular consciousness at the same time as the music video, and rappers were soon all over MTV, reinforcing in images the ugly world portrayed in rap lyrics. Video after video features rap stars flashing jewelry, driving souped-up cars, sporting weapons, angrily gesticulating at the camera, and cavorting with interchangeable, mindlessly gyrating, scantily clad women.But we’re sorely lacking in imagination if in 2003—long after the civil rights revolution proved a success, at a time of vaulting opportunity for African Americans, when blacks find themselves at the top reaches of society and politics—we think that it signals progress when black kids rattle off violent, sexist, nihilistic, lyrics, like Russians reciting Pushkin...How helpful is rap’s sexism in a community plagued by rampant illegitimacy and an excruciatingly low marriage rate?The idea that rap is an authentic cry against oppression is all the sillier when you recall that black Americans had lots more to be frustrated about in the past but never produced or enjoyed music as nihilistic as 50 Cent or N.W.A. On the contrary, black popular music was almost always affirmative and hopeful. Nor do we discover music of such violence in places of great misery like Ethiopia or the Congo—unless it’s imported American hip-hop.By the eighties, the ghetto had become a ruleless war zone, where black people were their own worst enemies. It would be silly, of course, to blame hip-hop for this sad downward spiral, but by glamorizing life in the “war zone,” it has made it harder for many of the kids stuck there to extricate themselves. Seeing a privileged star like Sean Combs behave like a street thug tells those kids that there’s nothing more authentic than ghetto pathology, even when you’ve got wealth beyond imagining.The attitude and style expressed in the hip-hop “identity” keeps blacks down. Almost all hip-hop, gangsta or not, is delivered with a cocky, confrontational cadence that is fast becoming—as attested to by the rowdies at KFC—a common speech style among young black males. Similarly, the arm-slinging, hand-hurling gestures of rap performers have made their way into many young blacks’ casual gesticulations, becoming integral to their self-expression. The problem with such speech and mannerisms is that they make potential employers wary of young black men and can impede a young black’s ability to interact comfortably with co-workers and customers. The black community has gone through too much to sacrifice upward mobility to the passing kick of an adversarial hip-hop “identity.”On a deeper level, there is something truly unsettling and tragic about the fact that blacks have become the main agents in disseminating debilitating—dare I say racist—images of themselves. Rap guru Russell Simmons claims that “the coolest stuff about American culture—be it language, dress, or attitude—comes from the underclass. Always has and always will.” Yet back in the bad old days, blacks often complained—with some justification—that the media too often depicted blacks simply as uncivilized. Today, even as television and films depict blacks at all levels of success, hip-hop sends the message that blacks are . . . uncivilized. I find it striking that the cry-racism crowd doesn’t condemn it.For those who insist that even the invisible structures of society reinforce racism, the burden of proof should rest with them to explain just why hip-hop’s bloody and sexist lyrics and videos and the criminal behavior of many rappers wouldn’t have a powerfully negative effect upon whites’ conception of black people.http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_3_how_hip_hop.html
Dan HornI would be very against reformed rap. Let me tell you why. Words aren't enough. God cares about how we deliver the message. And there's two aspects of the delivery. The purpose of songs is to instruct. It's also to praise God, it's also to worship. But its to instruct and to admonish. We’re given the words because we’re a word-based religion, the emphasis needs to be on the words.
And I would argue with the rap [sic], with the heavy beat, with those things that the physical distraction is so much that the focus is no longer on the words.
And music should be about helping us to remember concepts that we need to remember. And help us to carry forward. Music is a wonderful tool as a memory aid.
And rap is about drawing attention to the rapper, drawing attention to how his skill is different than anybody else’s skill.
Scott Aniol When it comes the art form of hip-hop, very few will disagree with the cultural milieu out of which it grew. What it was intended to express by those who created the art form.
Geoff BotkinYes, amen to that. “Do not be conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And what concerns me about this this so-called “art form” - it's a picture of weakness and surrender on the part of people who think they're serving God. And they're not. They’re serving their own flesh. They’re caving into the world. They are disobedient cowards. They're not really willing to engage in the fight that needs to be engaged. Scott, thank you for saying that. If we are reformers we are going to change and fully redeem and replace the world. We're not going to make ourselves friends of the world and enemies of God. And so this is what concerns me about anytime Christians, in a cowardly way, follow the world instead of changing it and confronting it. And confronting the antithesis. And we need be doing this in every every possible art from - including film, including other kinds of music. And so, Scott, just to summarize: Reformed rap is the cowardly following of the world instead of confronting and changing it.
Joe Morecraft But I think what we are all saying is that some forms of music cannot be separated from the culture out of which they come.
That’s an important thing to bear in mind. When we have young men or women the church let's say the young men start wearing an earring. I say, “What's the purpose of the earring? The pierced ear?” And they'll say, “Well I just like it.” or “I think it's nice,” or “it’s the fashion,” and I say, “Do you know why it is the fashion? Do you know who you're identifying with when you wear this earring? You're not identifying yourself with the godly men in the church but with an entirely different culture out there. And same thing with certain forms of music.
And I think also that we must not use music in the worship of God where the words get lost in the music. And all people hear is the music.
And I think the music by which we sing must fit the majesty of the words, and the dignity of the words.
You remember what it says the Old Testament? The purpose of music is to raise sounds of joy. That is to help us in our joyful praise of God.
Or is it basically the tune that we’re after?
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Here is a reddit thread where atheists including several apostates weigh in on Calvinism. Warning: bad language.
That said, it's interesting to see them admit the following:
[joshTheGoods] As an aside, Calvinism is IMHO the most honest sect of Christianity.
[deleted] I agree with your aside there. While I'll never understand the hold christianity has on them, the Calvinists truly try to understand their religion philosophically through the scriptures and I've had some interesting debates.
[deleted] To be fair, this ["predetermination"] does make some kind of sense...
[tomjen] The problem with Calvinism isn't that it doesn't make sense. It does (leaving aside the god part).
[SenorStabby] Have you ever heard of compatibilism? It's pretty reasonable
[P3chorin] I don't know, it seems logical to me. Christians usually believe, even if they believe in free will, that God is omniscient. Therefore, God knows that atheists/agnostics/whatever have a personal block in believing in him, and therefore he is damning them for being what he made them.
[WizardCap] I don't know if sense it the word you'd want to use here, but I do agree that it's consistent. You'd expect some type of omni-begat creature to already have the entire course of the history and future of the universe in mind, ergo, it would already know how everything works out.
Fred Butler @Fred_Butler1hPls explain how the hysterical claims of UFO activity in this video http://bit.ly/1g2LvoY differ frm those regarding modern miracles.
Why did the Vatican remove the pope’s document?
According to Magister, these distinctives offer: “More autonomy for the national episcopal conferences. And more room for different cultures. The two points on which ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ most distinguishes itself from the magisterium of the previous popes”.
[By the way, some of you may have noticed that The original file has been removed from the Vatican website and replaced with the graphic nearby, leaving only the difficult-to-navigate .pdf file available. I don’t know why they did this, but fortunately, I have saved the original .html document and republished a .pdf version of it here. All the links seem to be intact.]
(JB note: Interestingly, the original article seems to have re-appeared. It would be interesting to compare the two versions to see what edits the Vatican made.)
Magister seems to have gotten to the heart of what Bergoglio is trying to accomplish.
Dr. Michael Kruger:
‘The Question of Canon’
Given the nature of this work, it addresses questions presented by both the liberal/critical scholarship that deals with the canon issue, and also those issues brought up by Roman Catholic apologists to suggest that Rome somehow had the “authority” to fix the canon of the New Testament.
Kruger’s main thesis is that the dynamics that led to a NT canon involved phenomena from the earliest stages of the circulation of writings that came to form that canon. That is, the formation of a NT canon wasn’t a result solely of later and “external” forces, but instead there were factors at work from the earliest period.
These include the way that Paul invested his letters with his apostolic authority, such that they have been described as apostolic “surrogates”, conveying to his churches his teachings on matters when he was unable to make a personal visit (just note, e.g., the tone of 1 Cor. 14:37-38! or Gal 1:6-9!). Likewise, note the explicit purpose-statement of the author of the Gospel of John (20:30-31), which implies a strong desire that the writing may function in confirming the faith of readers.
Kruger also argues that, although a closed canon of NT writings took a few centuries, in the earlier period there was already indication of a concern to distinguish between writings that were to be taken as “scripture” and those that should not be so regarded. So, again, a quasi-canonical dynamic seems to have been at work early on.
Kruger offers what he calls an “intrinsic model” as a complement to the emphasis on the final stages of can formation in much current NT scholarship. I find his analysis to offer a nuanced and cogent picture that more adequately captures the historical complexity that led to “the New Testament.”
The chapters by Kurt Wise, Todd Wood, and Fazale Rana ought to be the most useful.
Even though I disagree with the overall position of Conway Morris, he's an astute critic of naturalistic evolution, with many interesting facts at his fingertips.
Monday, December 02, 2013
But election is something entirely different. Calvin, anyway (and I would argue all true Calvinist theologians), described election in such a way that no prayer could possibly effect it even instrumentally. It is an eternal decree of God “within himself” not dependent on anything outside himself about who will be saved.
Dr Olson - Thanks for this post. It certainly validates my experience with many Calvinists. Calvin complicated the issue with his pesky teaching called evanescent grace where God gives a 'fake grace' to the reprobate to make them think and act as if they were saved and then God can damn them with greater punishment for their deceptive behavior (see Institutes, Book III, Chapter II, Section 11.)
When I bring up such, Calvinists say to me, "Oh, you need to read something more modern like Edwards." So then, I talk to Calvinists about Edwards teaching and they say, "you need to read Piper, he put Edwards thoughts together much easier to understand." So, then I talk to them about Piper. They say, "he's a populist, you need to read....." It's like trying to nail jello to a wall. I've discovered that Calvinism means different things to different Calvinists.
I have so many discussions with Calvinists who can't understand that many do truly understand Calvinism and are not Calvinists. The main reason they are not Calvinists is because they truly do understand it. That is why they reject it.
...I couldn’t agree with the Calvin teaching that before the creation of the worlds the Son of God (who we know as Jesus) agreed with the Father and Holy Spirit to create multiple millions of men, women and children to be sent to hell for a life of eternal separation from God--possibly in severe eternal anguish or some kind of pain.
The prayers of a loved one to save these people is of no value because this decision has already been made and settled and God does not change his mind.
When I ask Cradle Calvinists "When were you saved", I usually get a blank stare. Many will then say, "I don't know EXACTLY when I was saved, but I know I am saved because I believe."
Salvation seems to be a vague process, or at least an unknown point in time, for many Calvinists.
Is there anywhere in Scripture where salvation is described as a process? Doesn't Scripture indicate that there is always a moment, an instant, in which God quickens the spiritually dead soul of the sinner, creating faith and belief?
Pity the poor Calvinist: He must always look inward for his assurance of salvation to the continued existence of HIS faith.
He has no external event to which he can point and say: THEN is when GOD saved me!
Although I disagree with many things about Arminian theology, one belief I do like is that Arminians can point to a specific "when" of salvation. Ask an Arminian Christian when he was saved and he will say something like this: " I was saved June 12, 1974 at 8:15 PM when I walked down the aisle during a revival service at the local Baptist church and sincerely, with all my heart and soul, prayed to ask Jesus into my heart to be my Lord and Savior, and to forgive me of all my sins. I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved!THAT is how salvation happens!
And we are not BORN saved as some hard-core Calvinists will assert.
Salvation doesn't happen in a vague, drawn-out process as say some Calvinists.
God quickens the spiritually dead soul of a sinner at a specific moment in time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, working through the spoken or written Word, creating faith and belief…God then seals you as his in Holy Baptism. Baptism is your mark of ownership from your Heavenly Father. "This soul belongs to God"! It is always the Word that saves and it is the visible act of Baptism that gives you tangible, concrete proof, to KNOW without ANY doubt, that God HAS saved you!
Don't look inwardly, Calvinist brothers and sisters, to YOUR feelings of faith...look outwardly to God's act of marking you as his!
This creates a dilemma; the laws of nature cannot exist without nature itself existing but the origin of nature cannot be explained scientifically without preexisting laws. The logical conclusion is that science cannot, by its very nature, explain the origin of the universe.The only alternative is that the laws of nature did preexist the universe but existed as a kind of blueprint in some non-material medium such as the “mind of God”.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
|These same five points are updated here using|
somewhat more modern language
Here is a brief summary:
Comprehensive brokenness. This used to be called “total depravity.” In many people’s minds, that means “as wicked as possible.” That is not what that Calvinism teaches. The correct teaching is that sin is comprehensive in our lives—there is no part of us that is untouched by sin, no part of us that we can trust to be good enough to solve our problems on our own. The word brokenness also conveys a wider scope than the word sin; sometimes the word fallenness is also used (though this letter is not a very widely understood word outside the church). Brokenness means that our problem is not only our evil choices, which may be termed sins, but also effects of evil on us by forces outside our choice …
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (Rom 5:12).
One of the most common and most foundational objections to the historicity of the infancy narratives is the notion that their events haven't left enough of a trace in other sources. Some critics will go as far as to suggest that there's no indication of anything supernatural in Jesus' childhood in any other early source, including the remainder of the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Supposedly, what's said of Jesus in the later chapters of Matthew and Luke and in the rest of the New Testament is inconsistent with what's reported in the infancy narratives. Here are some of Raymond Brown's comments on the subject:
Saturday, November 30, 2013
I commented at the weekend that Janet Mefferd's allegations of plagiarism against Mark Driscoll should be fairly easy to establish on the grounds that we have empirical evidence in the form of texts to compare. She has posted a link to photographic plates here. Regardless of whether one is instinctively inclined to like Ms. Mefferd or Mr. Driscoll, text is text and you can judge for yourselves who is in the right. The second set, from comments on the Petrine epistles, is particularly noteworthy.
Elsewhere, Frank Turk has highlighted a few weird aspects of the whole affair. Again, I make no comment on his statements as he provides evidence by which one can judge for oneself the plausibility of his interpretation.
Over at First Thoughts, Collin Garbarino offers some very perceptive comments on the Driscoll plagiarism affair. He makes the point that such activity receives a failing grade at his university. I would only add that at Westminster it also involves automatic suspension from the degree program followed by discussion with the powers that be about whether Christian ministry is really an option for the perpetrator.
My children have to be at school by 7:30, so I rise at about 6:15 to 6:30. I usually wait until I arrive at work, ca. 8 a.m., to have devotions. Westminster offices do not open till 8:30 so this gives me a half hour of peace and quiet.
The Mefferd-Driscoll controversy points to another aspect of celebrity culture: celebrities are routinely allowed to behave in ways which would not be tolerated in ordinary mortals.