Tuesday, 27 April 2010

On the Wrath of God (10 page study)











New Perspective on Paul - What is it?

"...In broadest terms the New Perspective emphasizes the corporate nature of our salvation in distinction from the typical way many North Americans think about their salvation primarily as “a personal relationship with Jesus.” (Dr. Bryan Chapell)

Source

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Четыре свободы

Еще в 1941-ом году президент Франклин Делано Рузвельт провозгласил 4 свободы:

- свободу слова
- свободу вероисповедания
- свободу от нужды и
- свободу от страха

Так вот, с последним дела обстоят не блестяще. Особенно для американцев арабского происхождения и особенно и особенно после 11 сентября 2001 года.(Владимир Познер, "Одноэтажная Америка", ч.3, 29:34)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Translating on the Fly

The day was good. I went to the A9 radio studio. Tried to translate the sermons on the fly. I mean without the full translation script before my eyes. It turned out to be pretty hard. I would say even pathetic. I uttered lots of "aghs" and "eghs" while speaking to the microphone, so it can only be smooth if the sermon is listened to at least once. I had to know the content before I could use the right words. What helped me though were the right Scripture versus printed out. I put them down during my first listening. Oh, gravity! I yet have to do "According to Thy Word" program on the Epistle to the Romans.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Commentary on Baxter's Directions for the Government of the Tongue (Lying)

Richard Baxter was 57 when he wrote his book Christian Directory. It is a book on Christian Ethics. It consists of four parts and Christian Ethics is just a first volume of that book. In order to narrow down my commentary I selected a discourse on the government of the tongue. Out of all the sins of the tongue that Baxter speaks against I chose to comment on the sin of lying and perjury, because I want to avoid being "needlessly tedious" (Baxter, vol.I, 527) Baxter lived in the 17th century (1616-1691) and during his lifetime wrote more than 130 books, letters and sermons. Having poor health he oftentimes preferred to write a sermon to his parishioners and send it as a letter or publish it as a book, rather then say it in public. He wrote his first book which made him known to the wider public at the age of 34, 9 years after he became ordained as a pastor in the small town of Kindderminster, England. After 19 years of hard labor in this area he was forbidden to preach there by the government due to political reasons. Four years later in 1673 he wrote Christian Directory, the book were he wrote answers, or "directions" to many cases of conscience written for Christians of his days. All of those cases, whether it be private, family or church duties were for the most part Baxter's experience after years of pastoral visitation. It was his custom to visit his parishioners and to talk with them on the things of God. "Every Monday and Thursday Baxter would start at one end of the town, his assistant would start on the other, and together they managed to interview 15 or 16 families a week - a total of 800 families each year." (Lim, 19)
So in brief Baxter's "advices-directions" come from his own experience and from his knowledge of literature and Holy Scriptures. Though Baxter didn't have any formal theological education and was for the most part self-taught, he had immense knowledge of human psychology and his library included around 1400 books. In this commentary you would see how he quotes both secular philosophers and the Holy Scriptures in order to speak against the evils of lying.

Baxter lived in Great Britain during the reign of such kings as Charles I, Charles II and James II. He was 4 years old when first Puritan separatists fled to America and found colony at Plymouth Massachusetts. During the English Civil War he spent five years as a chaplain in Oliver Cromwell's army.(Lim, 19) Five years after publication of his "Christian Directory"(1673) he could enjoy reading John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" - the greatest Christian allegory written in English, which was as interesting in the Christian circles as John Milton's "Paradise Lost" in the secular. He lived in the century of enlightenment, when it was scientifically proved that the Earth and other planets revolved around the Sun, when Galileo's "formulation of the law of of inertia left Aristotelian physics in shambles."(McKay, 593) Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and John Descartes(1596-1650)were Richard Baxter's contemporaries. Baxter lived in a Puritan environment and in his theology he tried to find some middle ground between the predistination of Calvinism and the free will as taught by Arminians. Such puritans as John Owen, Richard Sibbs, William Perkins and others had a profound influence upon Baxter and his writings. Baxter's theology proves him to be Amyraldian and closer to Arminian side than to Calvinism.

The text about lying (which I am about to comment on) is 8 pages long. (Christian Directory, vol.1, pp. 353-361) It is rather tedious and in many parts I found that only a lawyer would be able to take the full advantage of the written text. In this study I do not intend to take a deep verse-by-verse commentary, but to a) show Baxter's style, b) show his understanding of truth and lie in general and c) show both strong and weak points in Baxter's directions against the sin of lying in Christian's life.

The discourse has the following structure:
1. The proof of what the truth is.
2. Eleven questions on truth and lie.
3. The proof of what the lie is.
4. First direction against the sin of lying with 10 major evils which are connected to it.
5. Directions from 2nd to 11th.
6. 12th direction with seven questions-answers explaining the particular details of things that are connected to lying.

Here is a quote on how Baxter explained what the truth is:

“Truth in the things known is nothing but their reality; that indeed they are that which their names import, or the mind apprehendeth them to be : this is that which is called both physical and metaphysical truth.” (Baxter, 353)

So from this we can deduce that Baxter uses some extra biblical sources in order to define the truth. He does not merely say as many contemporaries of his days: "Jesus is the Truth." Well, he knows that and he will say that later, but here he brings the reader a general and even abstract idea of what the truth is. I would say that this tells us that he goes from the abstract to the particulars, from the common truths to the practical directions as many Greek rhetoricians and philosophers did. The influence of Aristotle is felt so strongly, that for the one who is acquainted with the writings of Aristotle it could appear that those are quotes from his works.

Compare it with this excerpt from Aristotle's Metaphysics:
“To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.”

Read this second statement of Baxter about the truth and you will see how many smiliraties are their between him and the Aristotle:

"Truth in the conception or knowledge of the mind, is nothing else but the agreement or conformity of the knowledge to the thing known ; to conceive of it truly, is to conceive of it as it is ; mistake or error is contrary to this truth." (Baxter, 353)

Baxter does not hide that he uses Greek writings when later he quotes 8 Greek philosophers to prove that truth is for the good of man. "Aristotle could say, that the nature of man is made for truth." <...> Pythagoras could say, that to love truth and do good, were two things that made man likest to God, and therefore were his two most excellent gifts." (Baxter, 355-356) His main method throughout all of this chapter is to first bring some philosophic background to his teachings, then to say something out of the logic and finally to conclude it with the string of texts from the Holy Scriptures.

"He is the truth," John xiv. 6, and " full of grace and truth," John i. 14." Grace and truth came by him," John i. 17.<...> " Repentance" is given men, " to the acknowledging of the truth, that they may escape out of the power of the devil," 2 Tim. ii. 25,26. <...> They that receive not the truth in the love of it cannot be saved," 2 Thess. ii. 10. All they " are damned that believe not the truth," 2 Thess. ii. 12, 13. You see what truth is in the judgment of God and all the sober world. Therefore a lie, that is contrary to truth as darkness to light, must be equally odious as truth is amiable : no wonder therefore if it be absolutely forbidden of God." (Baxter, 356)

5. Examples of directions. Comments. The strong and weak points of author’s directions against lying and perjury.
The weakest point of Baxter I would say is his tediousness. He uses more than 11000 words to prove the Excellency of truth over lying. That is around 17 pages of single-spaced printed text. Though warns his readers in the preface that he would try not to be tedious, he falls into that temptation I think. Somehow he seems to speak on and on the same subject without trying to make his point quickly. On the other hand the strongest point in his directions is the power of persuasion and the strength of his arguments. His examples are vivid. His logic is clear. His reasoning is compelling. Many of his directions are connected with his knowledge that lying is connected with other sins such as absence of the fear of God, pride and selfish ambition, seared conscience, covetousness, rashness in speaking and others. He urges the reader to forsee that which is most likely can entrap them into a lie an thus prevent it. I also liked how he reasoned in his very first direction on being informed of the evil of the sin of lying. There he gives 10 reasons why all men should hate lying: it perverts man's noble faculties, turning them clean contrary to their natural use, it is the enemy and the destroyer of truth, it makes us most unlike God, it is the image or work of the Devil, it destroys human converse and brings most pernicious confusion into the affairs of the humankind and it tendeth directly to perjury and so on.(Baxter, 355-356) I liked Baxter's unmasking the lie for what it is showing it in its destructive power.

Finally, I would say a few words about some uses of lie which are arguable and raise eyebrows of both Christian and non-Christian people alike. Those are the issues of hiding secret information, doctors deceiving patients, "white lies", lies "approved" by God in the Old Testament times. In his long discourse Baxter found a place for each of those issues and answered those in a usual to his times "question-answer" format. I would quote his reasoning about the lies of the Israeli midwives during the times of Moses who disobeyed the command of the pharaoh to kill the male boys who would be born to Jewish women. Here is the quote:

"Object. Are not the midwives rewarded by God for saving the Israelitish children by a lie ?
Answ. I need not say with Austin, " The fact was rewarded, and the lie pardoned;" for there is no such thing as a lie found in them. Who can doubt but that God could strengthen the Israelitish women to be delivered without the midwives ? And who can doubt but when the midwives had made known the king's murderous command, that the women would delay to send for the midwives, till, by the help of each other, the children were secured ? Which yet is imputed to the midwives, because they confederated with them, and delayed to that end.
So that here is a dissembling and concealing part of the truth, but here is no lie that can be proved." (Baxter, 360)

This argument implies that one knows the Scripture reference well and knows the passage were midwives were refusing to kill the Jewish babies, and when asked by officials why they refused to kill them (that was a death threat to them), they simply replied that Jewish women were stronger than Egyptian and would deliver babies faster, without the help of the midwife.

Baxter's reasoning is lucid and sharp. I found it strange that I myself never thought of that option, that midwives could truly be missing during Jewish women labors, for I transposed everything too fast to our days, where women are giving labor from 6 to 24 hours and the whole process is long and exhausting for women.

After looking at Baxter's casuistically detailed approach to the sin of lying we are left with opinion that Baxter is a person who is fluent in Latin, for many of his quotes are in Latin, he is well acquainted with Greek philosophers and he is able to quote Scriptures like a mobile Bible concordance. I think that in his days he was one of the authors whose theological works on Christian Ethics were in wide circulation and high demand among the general audience. His advantage consists in the fact that though he quotes a lot of philosophers in this treatise, he still explains away all the details precisely so that even the simple people would understand his message. His treatise is like a layered pie in which there is food both for the learned scholar and for the village shepherd.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Choosing Fall 2010 Courses



It took me around 2 hours to choose those. I would really love to take Sociology together with Lithuanian so that I would not have to take either of them in the Spring 2011.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

How to Spend the Day with God / Richard Baxter

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.

Sleep

Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.

First Thoughts

Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.
Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.
Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.

Prayer

Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.

Family Worship

Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.

Ultimate Purpose

Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do. Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Diligence in Your Calling.

Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:
(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.
(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.
(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.
(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission.
(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work.
(f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families.
(g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.

Temptations and Things That Corrupt

Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.
Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.
If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.
If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.
At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.

Meditation

When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you deserve eternal misery in Hell.

The Only Motive

Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.

Redeeming The Time

Place a high value upon your time, be more careful of not losing it than you would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.
Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.
Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable way before one of greater profit.

Eating and Drinking

Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be detrimental to your health.
Remember the sin of Sodom: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness" - Ezekiel 16:49.
The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those "whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their minds on earthly things, being enemies to the cross of Christ" - Philippians 3:18-19. O then do not live according to the flesh lest you die (Romans 8:13).

Prevailing Sin

If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and remain unrepentant.
Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.

Relationships

Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates, subjects.
Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any other duty.

Closing the Day

Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.
This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.
May these directions be engraven upon your mind and be made the daily practice of your life
If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death.

Daugavpils Trip

Praise God! Have just returned from the trip to Daugavpils. Interpreted for Toivo Maki and Michael Maas. There was a reconciliation meeting.of Jewish and Non-Jewish people. There were some amazing presentations by pastor Stanislav on the History of Jewish people in Daugavpils. The interpreter Paula shared about her calling to Jewish ministry before she was born. After that I returned to Lithuania and administered the Lord's Supper in the city of Silute.