Just Back From Kentucky

I have been away for the last week attending my wife’s best friend’s wedding in Lebanon, KY. Thankfully I had no internet access during this time so was able to stay away from the shenanigans of the PC(USA) Reichsparteitage General Assembly Also during that trip I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Tim Phillips of Gairney Bridge and Chris Larimer of Adiaphora at a really good breakfast place in Louisville called the Shady Lane Cafe.

Some time today I’ll post the long awaited finale to the Images of the Godhead series. It will be Post 8. Tomorrow I’ll be posting again on Limited Atonement (no matter how many people call it “Definite Atonement” or “Particular Redemption” I’ll still call it Limited Atonement). On Wednesday will be the third post in looking at the Abandonment of Hermeneutics.

This weekend I am going with my Dad to the 145th Anniversary Re-Enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg and will be leaving Thursday to set up all our gear. I am hoping we win this time…

Prayer Request

I want to ask my friends in the blogosphere for their prayers for myself this weekend. I am going down to Charleston, WV for the required annual consultation with my Committee on Preparation for the Ministry. Some of you may find it shocking that my CPM and I have a contentious relationship. So my prayer is both for my CPM, that they may be gracious and courteous and for myself that I may not be the cause of any consternation.

PITT IS IT!!!!!!!!

Pitt 13


#2 WVU 9

Pitt Victory Song

Let’s go Pitt, we’re set for victory
So lend a hand, strike up the band!
Let’s go Pitt, we’re making history
We’ll never yield out on the field.
The whistle blows, we’re on our toes
The ball is IN the air.
It may be rough the going tough
But always fighting fair so…

(Chorus) Fight on for dear old Pittsburgh
And for the glory of the game
Show our worthy foe that the Panther’s on the go
Pitt must win today! Rah! Rah! Rah!
Cheer loyal sons of Pittsburgh
Cheer on to victory and fame
For the Blue and Gold shall conquer as of old
So fight, Pitt, fight!

Da da da da da-da Fight, Pitt, fight!
Da da da da da-da Fight, Pitt, fight!
V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! (repeat Chorus)

Question???

My mother is a CLP in the Presbytery of West Virginia. Before I decided to enter the ministry I would often travel with her to various Presbytery meetings and conferences so that I could get a feel for what Pastors did at these events. At almost every meeting there would either be a person being interviewed for either acceptance into the candidate phase of the ordination process or there would be an already ordained minister receiving a call to one of the churches in the presbytery. They would all be asked questions about their faith, about their life’s journey, and so on. Once I heard this question come up.

Now as I get ready to say the question I want you to think about how you would answer this question and how you would approach answering the question if asked by a non-believer, not just by a committee of committed Christians. The question is kind of innocuous so listen carefully. The question was this: Is Jesus Christ the son of the eternal God? Let me say it once more, a little slower this time. Listen to the words. Is Jesus Christ the Son of the eternal God? Got the question? Now think about it for a second. Everyone have an answer? Well I’ll tell you the answer here in a second. Let’s first focus on the clause eternal God. What do we mean when we say “Eternal God”. We mean that God the Father Almighty, the first substance of the trinity was, is, and shall be forever; that there was neither a time nor a place where God the Father did not exist. That God was here before the foundation of the Earth. Is present in our lives today and will be with those that he has chosen for eternity. We can all agree on that right? OK so we have established that the clause Eternal Father is within the bounds of Good Christian Doctrine or as the Westminster Confession of Faith would say, “by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture”. So what about the beginning of the quote? Is Jesus Christ-the man born at Bethlehem to the virgin Mary-the son of God? Well we-hopefully-would all say yes to that part of the question. Right? We believe as followers of Jesus of Nazareth that he was born of a virgin in the manger after the conception of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the son of Mary and step-son of Joseph was born so that we may be saved from eternal death. Right? That is the great promise of the Gospels, that we may not be held under the yoke of the law no longer, that we have been freed from the debt of sin. We believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we may not have to…. But back to the question. We have agreed that Our God, our Creator, our life-giver is forever and neither has he tasted death nor has he been born. He is the Great I am. He has been longer than there has been being. We have agreed with the first part of the question that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Virgin Mary. That his conception being immaculate, his life perfect, and that he has died to make those who call on his saving grace free from the wages of sin. We can all agree that this is true. Right?…Right so lets look at the question again. Is Jesus Christ the Son of the Eternal God? Everyone remember their answers? Good. I promised you an answer and here it is. The answer is no. It is no because Jesus Christ is not a second order deity. He is not the son of the most high God alone. For he is the Most High God. The complete and honored 2nd part of the Trinity. Jesus of Nazareth is not just the Son of God but is the Eternal Son of God. For Jesus Christ before he descended into Mary’s Womb was with the Father atGenesis 1:1. He was with Father at Mount Sinai when the law was given to Moses. He was with the Father when he destroyed the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is the Glory of Christ that he being a full and equal member of the Godhead with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Is not just the Son of God but is God himself. How do we confess Jesus every morning in Worship? We use the words of the Apostles Creed: And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

My Preliminary Statement of Faith

Below is the preliminary Statement of Faith I sent in with my Form 3 for my annual Consultation. Please feel free to critique as necessary. Just as a side note I found the one-page (single-space) limit to be unnecessarily brief and constricting.

VIII. IF THIS ANNUAL CONSULTATION COVERS THE TIME PERIOD OF THE SECOND YEAR OF THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION, WRITE A PRELIMINARY STATEMENT OF FAITH

The ministry of the Word and sacrament is not a job nor is it strictly a vocation but it is only to be taken upon those called by the Holy Spirit to be overseers of Christ’s Church. As a person who is called to this ministry of the Word and sacrament I lay forth this statement of my faith.

I believe that a person who is called to pastoral ministry is not only called for a ministry of reconciliation but to teach, instruct, and lead a particular church in righteousness and obedience to the Word of God. Ministers are called also to guide a particular church in the lawful celebration of the Eucharist and the observance of proper discipline.

I believe that the Holy Scriptures from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 to be the inerrant and holy Word of God, the only infallible rule for faith and practice for all who shall call upon it and wish to be members of Christ’s Church. The wisdom of mankind or the ruling of councils or synods shall not supersede the authority of Scripture. As it is written in the Westminster Confession of Faith I believe the Holy Spirit speaking in the Bible is the supreme judge of all religious controversies, all decisions of religious councils, all the opinions of ancient writers, all human teachings, and every private opinion.

I believe in the holy Doctrine of the Trinity as spoken in the confessions and in Scripture. I hold that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is only way that the Trinity may be named. I believe in the Sovereignty of the Father and that we are all subject to His perfect will and that He seeks our perfect obedience to His will and command alone.

I believe that all mankind, created first perfect in Adam, shares in his rebellion to God’s perfect will. We can never of our own accord choose to do that which has been laid down for us to accomplish. It is only through Jesus Christ’s substitutionary atonement and the satisfaction of his Father’s wrath by his death on the cross that any of us can have hope in eternal life. I believe that Christ’s death on the cross is sufficient for all but efficient only for whom it pleases God to save.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah of Israel. I believe in the Federal headship of Christ. I believe in the hope that is promised to those who call upon Christ’s name for deliverance and rescue from this fallen world. I believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one, no matter how “good or sincere” may come to the Father and therefore receive eternal life apart from Faith in Jesus Christ alone, the co-eternal second person of the Godhead, begotten not created, and born of a virgin.

I hold fast in the hope of the quick return of Jesus Christ so that we may be eternally delivered into his hands. I stand ready to witness to the Grace and the Glory of God Almighty until that day shall come. Amen.

Clinical Depression in the Presbyterian Church USA

I come from yet another Supply Pastoring at a small Presbyterian USA church in the hinterlands. What do I find again? Another Church clinically depressed over its relationship with its Presbytery. This is starting to be a trend I do not like in the least. Redstone, West Virginia, and Upper Ohio Valley Presbyteries seem to not care about their less than profitable churches. The Clerk of Session at the Church I was fortunate enough to preach at today told me that she believes her Presbytery is purposefully trying to shutter her Church so they would no longer be burdenned by them. It really saddens me and infuriates my soul that Presbyteries would hope that Churches would “go away”. What can we do fellow Presbyterians? All talk of theological unity is lost-and pointless-if we cannot infuse the Presbyteries and local churches with competent leadership.

A Little Love For the (Truly) Small Churches

I have just returned from another day of preaching at a small church that is in dire need of direction, understanding, spiritual leadership, and most of all stability in the pulpit. The particular church I preached at today has not had a Full-Time pastor since 1997. They have tried to call freshly-ordained Seminary students but cannot quite “get anybody to come”. They tried the CLP route (which my Mother is one) but could not find one that would stick with them in times of trouble. They have been abandoned for “greener pastures” by more pastors than the poor Clerk of Session could count. They believe themselves to have been forgotten by their presbytery but more dangerously forgotten by God. They see the Methodists and Baptists-worse yet the word of faith gospel churches-growing but they continue to shrink as each member dies off. And they cannot understand why the word of faith churches grow but they do not. For example, while I was there today during the Joys and Concerns before the Pastoral Prayer they asked me to pray “that children would start coming to their church”. In my young and naive experience with presbyteries that have large numbers of these types of churches they have tendency to see the rural, low-member churches as nuisances rather than as a mission-area to be culled. They would rather these churches-that can barely scrap together 1/10 of the per-capita of the larger, more urban and ethnically diverse churches-disappear so that they can refocus themselves in other areas instead of spending time, resources, and money trying to support these rural churches. We focus our efforts globally and forget that our rural churches need support as well. I may be a bit biased as I come from a background of attending small, rural (less than 15 members in one case) Presbyterian Churches. I grew up defending Presbyterianism-more importantly Sola Gracia and true Salvation by Faith Alone-from attacks from the independent Baptists that I grew up with. Presbyterianism is dying in rural America. It died once from a lack of pastors, let us hope that the clergy will not allow this to happen again.