The Capranica

Comments on theology and life

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Location: Hemet, California, United States

Co-Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Jacinto, California

Monday, August 29, 2005

Godcasting and the Loss of Community

A New York Times article precipitated this post from scholar Ben Witherington regarding the further promotion of personalized Christianity and the exclusion of a more community-based (I would say biblically based) Christianity. Both are good reads. HT: Justin Taylor

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Cheating on the Blog

Good post on what every Christian blogger should consider.

Another Salvo From the NY Times

The New York Times prints another salvo in their quest to discredit the idea of a Creator and posit the fact that all exists by random evolutionary, chance mutations. Dr. Daniel C. Dennett engages in "the science" of evolution with the aim of discrediting any idea of Intelligent Design. What does Dr. Dennett know that you don't? How many hours in the lab has he spent? Probably no more than any other non-scientist. Dr. Dennett is a professor of philosophy. Yet, he boldly states that scientists have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that evolution is the sole means and most rational explanation for the production of what exists today. What is Dr. Dennett's scientific appeal? The eye. The eye once used to be binoculars, yet, through happenstance and thousands of years of chance mutations, it transformed into the eye. No, not really. Dr. Dennett suggests that one proof of monkeys becoming men is that the eye has become a better eye over time. Really? He should of used the binoculars analogy - it seems to fit the theory of evolution much better than an eye becoming a better eye. Is this the knockout punch for ID? "Show me the science" - not of parts becoming better parts, but creatures becoming DIFFERENT creatures. Fancy talk Dr. Dennett, but very poor proof.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Camp on Worship

Steve camp posts a solid article on the subject of worship today - good stuff in preparation for the Lord's Day.

What's Wrong With the New Procedure?

The Washington Post creates a story discussing Harvard scientists using human skin cells to produce embryonic cells. The entire story downgrades the progress of the Harvard procedure. NOTHING positive is said about the study. The most negative part of the Harvard project, according to the Post is the fact that it will likely make politicians more cautious about approving legislation that will involve the use of days-old human embryos [aborted fetuses]. Facinating. I had the feeling while reading the article that it did not matter what the scientists could do or find through this new breakthrough - fetuses must be killed for the common good. I sense a political ideology within the Post's advocated skepticism. True, there is more to be done with the new study, but why disparage it?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday's Frivolity

For this frivolous Friday post I present, as promised, an installment on the progress of The Capranica Villa. Previously you saw the acquired property in its beginning stages: weeds towering above my 5'9" frame, and who knows what hidden beneath them. My pocketbook requires that my wife and I do the majority of the work rather than hiring it out. My schedule requires that only on some Friday afternoons, but mostly on Saturdays, the work be accomplished. Our first task: take down the giants. The weed-whacking proved to be a multi-week project in scorching heat. Not only did we find a sprinkler system that mirrored a Southern California freeway (long and backed-up), we also discovered that Oscar, the boisterous and big German Shepherd next door goes absolutely crazy at the sound of a weed-eater. OOOOhhhhhweeee did we drive that dog nuts. Though the old mobile - no wait, this was a Trailer - did not possess a fireplace, once the weeds were wacked, we discovered piles and piles of firewood. It was all neatly stacked and packed with loads of black widows, ants, mystery spiders and pincher-bugs (that's what Kelly calls them). Oh, the fun. Once the weeds were down, it was a matter of clean-up. We have seven different fruit trees and a pointless (fruitless) mulberry - all of which were grossly overgrown and in need of whacking. Also, the previous owners were kind enough to leave for us the majority of the junk that had accumulated over the years. So, after another few weeks of work, we had piled it all at the front of the property, preparing to rent a large trash truck so we could begin discarding it. Our worst problem at this point was that we needed to find someone who wanted the old Trailer. God, in His wonderful and gracious provision, provided a lovely couple who not only bought the Trailer for a good price, but also had a desire (I did not want to know why) to take most of the junk from the property. Thanks to my wife's hard work (along with a friend from church) while I was away for a class, the remainder of the junk was piled into the rented trash truck and hauled away. We were then able to do a little bit more planning on the new Villa to be housed on the freshly weeded paradise. Next time: a preview of the new Villa.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ditto with Mohler on Robertson

Why post on Pat's comments calling for the assaination of Hugo Chavez when Mohler sufficiently spanks him?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

MacArthur and the ID Debate

I finished watching the Larry King Live debate over Intelligent Design about an hour ago. MacArthur and Chopra always make such discussions etertaining. Does Deepak Chopra really understand anything he is saying? MacArthur did well except perhaps for one of his final comments, challenging a congressman on his legitimacy as a representative since the congressman did not want to accept Genesis three. Good point, probably best left unsaid on Larry King Live. I found it interesting to once again hear the evolutionist supporter, Dr. Barbara Forrest, state again and again that Science cannot discuss God. No matter where the evidence might lead, evolutionists begin with a presumption that God cannot be involved. If you missed the discussion, read the transcript.

Catching Up

I've been away from The Capranica for a few days - trying to catch up on other issues around church and home. About the same time the Pyromanic's computer went down, mine did too. It has been too painful to speak about until now. Needless to say, I am not an HP fan any longer. I tend to be overly protective of my laptops [no feminized coffee, coke, etc., carelessly spilled on the precious package] and yet I am on my third one in three years. For my own sanity and health, I will say no more on this issue. Speaking of the PyroGuy - he tends to think that my mugshot is far too classy [he used the term staid] to allow me to be among the pups at Fide-O [another place where The Capranica posts blog-stuff]. If I'm too staid, how would you describe this. Interesting articles I did not get to (but some I hope to blog about soon): Tom Ascol at The Founders' Blog illustrates the fallacy of numbers and church health by examining a well-known SBC megachurch's ACP numbers. Great evidence of "numbers aint everything." The Jollyblogger records his pilgrimage from pre to a millennialism. I hope to say a bit more about this at another time. He also provides an interesting evaluation of why he thinks Satan is bound today. This one's in my cross hairs also. Ligon Duncan is happy that C.J. Mahaney preached at John MacArthur's church this past Sunday. It gives more evidence of how people can come Together for the Gospel. Challies does a preview of Mark Dever and Paul Alexander's new book, The Deliberate Church. I too am eagerly anticipating this book. In other exciting news, remember my mention of The Capranica Villa? Progress on it makes snails look like jack rabbits. We are trying to have the old trailer moved off the land so we can begin construction on the new home. The guy to move the mobile called saying he son was just tragically killed in an auto accident. As we pray for him, we have no idea when we will be able to continue work. The saga continues. Pics and more at the end of the week. An old High School friend has found me [see the comments from my post on Presbyterians and Baptists]. He's Presbyterian in his denominational flavor and he has picked up the cafeteria theological discussions where we left them some seventeen years ago. Good to hear from you Kyle. With the new computer [it hurts to speak of it] I've also been trying new gadgets. I've trying out the Firefox browser [some difficulties with Blogger]. It sure zips around pages more quickly than IE and I'm growing to love the tabbed browsing and bookmark toolbar. I've also been toying with the new Google desktop search. These are old hat to many, but make for some new tricks for the new computer to play with before it too crashes in about six to twelve months.

The Ever-Changing Charts of Evolution

Archeologists in the former Soviet republic of Georgia are said to have found a skull of a pre-human ancestor, driving back the evolutionary charts for human existence in Europe by at least a million years. I wonder why it is that the more they dig and the more they find, the more the dogmaticians of atheistic archeology must change their infalliable scientific conclusions? Here's another link in the missing evidence for evolution.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Blogger From Word

Blogger now has an addon for MS Word. It has some tricky conflicts if you are an Outlook user (so read the FAQs carefully). HT: Adrian Warnock

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

John Roberts and Religious Freedom

Christopher Levenick published an interesting article today at The Weekly Standard detailing the differences of Sandra O'Connor and John Roberts in relationship to the establishment clause in the Constitution. Interesting speculation.

A Study That Only a Capranica Could Love

Garlic soothes pain! Hallelujah! The ambrosia of life - garlic is now found to help reduce pain. I just knew that the Italian palette had medicinal effects.

Harvard's A-Priori

Harvard University is preparing to throw its financial and intellectual weight into the evolution debate. Over the next few years, the university plans to spend 1 million dollars each year toward discovering the origins of mankind. According to the report linked above, the university appears to be looking at more logical conclusions, not merely scientific conclusions. Consider the following quote: "My expectation is that we will be able to reduce this to a very simple series of logical events that could have taken place with no divine intervention," said David R. Liu, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard. Ah, yes. This is once again a perfect example of the Objectivity of Science Cult. Our minds are already made up before we begin. We are not seeking objective evidence. We are seeking evidence with an a-priori stance that there is no intelligent designer behind our world's existence. Before a dollar is even spent, Harvard's study is already flawed. Harvard has just given a group of evolutionists a very big credit card for a study in which the outcome has already been determined.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Interesting Posts from The Past Week

I have been away at a plannig retreat with the other two pastors I serve with - therefore, no blogging since Wednesday. However, here are a few tidbits from the week that I enjoyed reading and considered (but didn't) blogging about: Professor and pastor, Jim Hamilton, posted a great discussion on elders in Southern Baptist Churches. Some Christian rock music artists (??) seem to be too hard or seedy to gain the blessing of the already theologically loose Christian music gurus. Don't worry guys, CCM will eventually capitualate to just about anything that wants to call itself Christian. Rick Warren thinks that the recent separation of the Southern Baptist Convention from the Baptist World Alliance was done in error. Rick doesn't want to separate from anyone. His new reformation seeks to bring all Christians together. Al Mohler posts some great commentary on expository preaching. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Euthanasia's True Colors

The public debate on euthanasia tends to focus its attention upon the extremes, while ignoring the normal. We normally hear of the need to nix a life when that life is in extreme physical pain and death by natural causes is near or to go on living would simply be minute by minute agony. Opponents of euthanasia often suggest that euthanasia, if legally allowed, would bring a host of people to the death doctor for less than extreme cases. Usually such opponents are belittled for a lack of sensitivity to the tough cases among the terminally ill. The Netherlands, the liberal testing grounds for all things unethical, has just exposed the true colors of euthanasia. According to a report from the Archives of Internal Medicine, revealed that 20% of the doctors in The Netherlands had received euthanasia requests and 44% of the requests resulted in doctor assisted suicide, including taking the life of terminally ill infants. Note, from the article, why people in the Netherlands are seeking death rather than life: Project leader Bregje Onwuteaka-Philipsen said she was surprised that "the most important reasons for doing the request are not strictly medical." The survey asked physicians the reasons that patients in their most recent euthanasia case sought help in ending their own lives, with the most frequent being pointless suffering, loss of dignity and weakness. In cases in which doctors denied the requests, the most common reasons were not wanting to be a burden on their family, tired of living and depression. The 13 percent of patients who decided ultimately not to pursue euthanasia demonstrates "it is really very important to keep asking the patient (until the moment of the actual administration) whether this is what he or she wants," Onwuteaka-Philipsen wrote in an e-mail. The study does not mention the proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns designed by officials at Groningen Academic Hospital. In November, officials there revealed they had already begun carrying out such procedures, euthanizing four severely ill newborns in 2003. A Dutch government proposal on guidelines involving infants is expected to be released this fall. Yes, the inevitable is becoming reality. People who simply don't want to cope with their difficult situations are seeking death. The slope of euthanasia is indeed a slippery one. We could be only a decade away from where The Netherlands is today. What will happen to a depressed culture like ours that cannot find hope or satisfaction even while endlessly medicated when euthanasia becomes a medical option? Will our insurance companies even pay for it eventually? Don't bother arguing the tough cases any more. Euthanasia will eventually be used to take the life of non-terminally ill people who are simply sour on life. It is only a matter of time.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Why Conservative Politicians Should Not Be Our Standards

Rick Santorum has been hailed as a possible 2008 presidential candidate and a frequent standard bearer for conservative Christians. He was recently highlighted on the cover of World Maganize and noted for championing conservative Christian values. But according to the referenced Reuters report, he does not hold to a conservative Christian viewpoint on creation. Recognizing that even those within the Intelligent Design community do not all see eye-to-eye on whether the creation of the earth was accomplished in the six days the Bible speaks of or the millions of years proposed by evolutionists, they do all nonetheless acknowledge that the world is not a product of coincidental chance from some uncreated and unprovoked cosmic explosion. Like Senator Frist's latest capitulation, Mr. Santorum's dislike of the creationist position no doubt has much to do with his personal positioning for the next presidential contest, but is another reason why we Christians should stop placing our hope for a livable society in the hands of conservative politicians. Such politicians are more ready to drop the conservative before they do the politician element of their convictions.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Things Liberals Boycott

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is urging denominational divestment from a number of US companies because, as the Prebyterians assert, they are helping Israel in the occupation of Palestinian territory. The New York Times story linked above notes that only one company was targeted for divestment on the Palestinian side of the struggle due to their alleged funneling of money to families of suicide bombers. What is the rationale behind this move? Is the rationale theological? Minimally. Some within the Presbyterian Church of American (a somewhat more conservative branch of Presbyterians), issues an open letter through Knox Theological Seminary some time ago, urging Christians not to support Israel based on their eschatological stance. Based on their Covenant Theological grid of viewing the world and the Scriptures, they assert that the current secular nation of Israel has no biblical right to the land (the church has replaced a political Israel) and therefore should not be supported by evangelicals. No doubt this Covenant kind of theology is a foundational aspect for the more liberal brand of Presbyterians in the PCUSA. I agree that the current secular state of Israel is not the one mentioned by the prophets as those who should inherit the land, but not because of a skewed view that the Church has somehow spiritualized all of the Old Testament promises to Israel. Jeremiah 31:31-34 suggests that Israel and Judah will inherit the land when their heart is changed and the nation once again obeys the Lord. However, the PC USA no doubt is more influenced by their social liberal leanings, of which the NY Times report draws attention. Rather than enter a debate on the Israeli/Palestinian issue, I find it interesting as to what it is that will draw the ire of liberal professing Christians. Southern Baptists were mocked by the press and other religious groups for their boycott of Disney and Disney's open support of the homosexual movement. While I do not stand with the co-belligerence movement among many evangelicals (see Steve Camp's articles on evangelical co-belligerence), they at least are motivated to address issues with more moral and some biblical foundations. Is it the church's responsibility to use financial clout to bring about political pressure and force political policies? When you abandon the spread of the evangel, what else is left to do? When you no longer accept the Bible as an authoritative source for the church's emphasis and directives in ministry, how else is a socially liberal leaning denomination to spend their time and money? When the denominational headquarters is removed from local church control (be wary fellow Southern Baptists), what else should we expect from politically minded denominational executives? When the emphasis of our cause has become nothing more than social justices to the exclusion of the preaching of the cross for the salvation of the lost, we should not be surprised when churches become purely political. Evangelicals in America are headed in a similar direction. Theology is becoming less and less important. The Bible is becoming more and more plagued with evangelical doubt and disinterest. So, we pursue conservative political issues. Now the liberals, who have adopted a more stringent rejection of Scripture's authenticity and authority, are pursuing their more liberal political positions. Are the evangelical churches in America headed toward a similar state of ministry emphasis. From my vantage point the slide has begun.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

More Creationist Bashing

The religion of the objectivity of science is taking a more offensive posture these days as creationists have become more public. As evidence, consider yesterday's Op-Ed from the New York Times, entitled "Design for Confusion." [linked above]. The author, Paul Krugman, does not wish to give any dignity to any brainless boob who holds to any form of an Intelligent Design proposition. Instead he "Clintonizes" the debate by suggesting his own "right-wing conspiracy" attack. Rather than engage in the debate and discuss the scientific, philosophical, theological and exegetical issues, he suggests that creationists are actually in a struggle not to posit probable evidence, but pursue mere political effectiveness through maligning evolution and her purely objective proponents. He suggests: "Creationists failed when they pretended to be engaged in science, not religious indoctrination: "creation science" was too crude to fool anyone. But intelligent design, which spreads doubt about evolution without being too overtly religious, may succeed where creation science failed. "The important thing to remember is that like supply-side economics or global-warming skepticism, intelligent design doesn't have to attract significant support from actual researchers to be effective. All it has to do is create confusion, to make it seem as if there really is a controversy about the validity of evolutionary theory. That, together with the political muscle of the religious right, may be enough to start a process that ends with banishing Darwin from the classroom." So, Mr. Krugman suggests that creationists simply demean "the hard sciences" and politically posit and position themselves with deflated and baseless arguments in an attempt to create public disdain for evolutionary proponents. Hmm. A quick read of his own article suggest that he in fact is following the very tactic of which he accuses creationists. Krugman's article is nothing more than another empty shirt. He does not engage in the philosophical underpinnings of evolution or her proponents. He assumes that the theory and the public school propagation of it have no biased political agenda by those on the left. He suggests that unbiased and purely objective evidence exists for the theory of evolution, and, by the way should not be questioned, analyzed, or countered. Consider Dr. Albert Mohler's comments on other recent offensives launched against creationists in recent days: Tuesday, Aug 2; Saturday, July 23; and Monday, July 11.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Capranica Villa

Not only is "Capranica" an ancient medieval village, it is about to become a beautiful Tuscan-style villa in Hemet, CA!! As reported earlier, the Capranica home will soon be moving. In a burst of Friday frivolity, I will begin posting a few before and after shots. I must admit up front - we are in fact "trailer people." Alas, we currently live in Southern California and reside in a trailer (I prefer 'Mobile Home' or better yet, 'Manufactured Home.'). So that you can see my present plight, here is a picture of the humble office I am writing from at this very moment (please, don't feel too sorry for us). We happened upon a piece of property in our area (we rent a space currently) that had an old "trailer" on it. Without going into the details, the piece is perfect for the new "manufactured home" we wanted to purchase. However, as you can see, the property needed a bit of tender loving care. No one had resided in the place for several years. The price was right, we would not have to have new utilities installed and our new home would fit snuggly, so we have bought the land, ordered the home and begun the work. "Work" is an understatement. Some of the weeds were around six feet tall. None were shorter than two feet, throughout the 7,000 square foot lot. Inside sets of large cabinets outside the trailer were about a thousand (not an exaggeration) jars of canned fruit. The latest date on the labels was somewhere in the early 90's. So, here are the beginning stages of the new Capranica Villa. As you can see we have a healthy sense of imagination. In the days and weeks to come I will show you a host of updated pictures detailing the progress. If everything progresses the way it has over the past four months our anticipated move-in date will be sometime well after I am dead. However, if the dates provided to us are accurate, the experts predict we will be in a new home by mid October. Please pray.

Rainer to Head LifeWay

Baptist Press reports today that Thom S. Rainer is the nominee to replace Jimmy Draper as President of LifeWay. Personally, I am very encouraged by the choice. A number of Dr. Rainer's books have been very influential and encouraging in my ministry, particularly, High Expectations, Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and BreakOut Churches. My wife Kelly and I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Dr. and Mrs. Rainer during our Association's Equipped for Excellence conference two years ago. We were his transportation for the weekend and enjoyed the encouragement of he and his wife. He is a man passionate for the salvation for the lost, a faithful husband and father and solid in his theological convictions. We look forward to the benefits his theological bearings and ministry convictions bring to our denomination's chief publishing and resource distribution arm.

Why I Am a Baptist - Part 2: My Consternation (The Beginning)

Within only a few years of my conversion, I had an urgent drive to preach and teach the Bible. My thirst for the Bible grew every week and my longing to helpfully expound the Scriptures lengthened as well. Having been given a number of encouraging and growth inspiring opportunities to teach in limited settings at our church, and with the confirmation of a growing number of our church's leadership, I publicly stated my desire to pursue the pastoral ministry, discerning my desires and others' confirmation as the call of God on my life and ministry. Within the safe confines of my local church, I began to love the ministry of the word more and more. The deacons of the church recommended that I be licensed to preach and the congregation unanimously (odd for an SBC church) affirmed their recommendation. If only life and ministry remained within the realm of such limited bliss. It was only months after my licensing did the cauldron of my consternation begin to boil. I attended my first SBC annual meeting in 1988 in San Antonio, Texas, where I was deeply encouraged by the courageous stands of solid men standing for the inerrancy of Scripture. However, I was quickly put off by the helmet-haired, pot-bellied, slick-suited political mongering pastors positioning themselves through back-slapping politics for positions of public prominence. I witnessed this both locally and nationally and expressed my disdain to my pastor, who oddly enough, seemed to be enjoying a similar political engagement of his own. My consternation was fueled. The pastoral ministry began for me quite early. At age 18 I was called as an associate pastor of a small SBC church not far from where I lived. I abandoned my own political maneuvering of attending a well-known Baptist college where I could begin my ascent, for a tiny, unknown, never-to-be known congregation under the tutelage of a profound, godly giant of the faith, underrated by his peers, but unaffected by their lack of recognition. The year and a half I enjoyed under Dr. Traweek's mentoring was some of the most enjoyable of my life. In April of 1990, Dr. T. retired as the Senior Pastor and the church called me to fill his shoes - shoes much too large, even to this day, for my tender and naive feet. Though he planned to stay at the church and mentor me (which I eagerly desired), in August of 1990, Dr. T. underwent heart by-pass surgery from which he never recovered. On December 1, I stood at his hospital bedside along with his wife and daughter just five minutes after he took his last earthly breath. My baptism into my ministerial consternation was just beginning (to be continued).

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Slow Posting Period

Posting is poor this week due to my involvement in the Inland Empire Southern Baptist Association's Kids' Camp and due to finalizing paperwork for The Capranica Villa. What is the Villa? Watch for some picturesque posts in the upcoming days. The Capranica's are moving shop to a new location, an Italian Tuscan Villa - in Hemet! For posts from Kids' Camp - see Fide-O this week - posting live from Wolf Lodge. Though there is little to post, I did think that an Op-Ed in the New York Times was interesting this morning - how Ghana and Japan have better broadband service than the U.S. Though the U.S. no doubt dominates in posting useless blogs, we do so with a slower and less available wireless network than fifteen other nations in the world. Not much theological here, just interesting.