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The Cult of the Young

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ben Witherington has recently written a post entitled "Michael Vick's Mea Culpa". It is worth a read for his whole take on the Michael Vick situation, but his third contributing factor I found intereting.

3) And unlike Biblical culture, our culture is fixated on youth. 'Youth must be served' is our motto. So we watch endless programs with the young and the restless-- swimsuit models with barely any swimsuit and barely old enough to be beyond being called 'jail bait', young athletes, young this and young that. We even made up a phrase for it--- 'the Pepsi generation'. How very different this is from the culture of the Bible where it was the oldest and wisest who were most revered in society, and youth was deemed to be wasted on the young, who were too immature to appreciate such life and vitality. And here is an important Biblical point--- the person to be admired is the one smart enough to realize that youth and beauty are fleeting and vain, and cannot be recaptured once gone, but eternal life, is forever. Life is not too short when its eternal, and you have the gift of eternal life.


I still consider myself a young man (although now that I recently turned 38, I think that this youth is fleeting) and I think his use of "the Pepsi generation" reveals that he is a little "behind the times" :), but what about his point here?

I think that Dr. Witherington is correct that there is an inordinate fixation on youth in our culture. Not only is this seen in the entertainment fields such as the ones that Dr. Witherington mentioned, even more tragically it is seen in areas where it should be even more clear that age and wisdom are important - such as politics and education.

I would even go beyond Dr. Witherington to say that not only is there an inordinate fixation on youth within our culture, there is also an inordinate fixation on youth within our Christian culture. In recent years there has been much said about "Young Fundamentalists" (as well as Young Evangelicals and the Younger Evangelicals). There have been conferences specifically geared towards reaching out to them and how to deal with them has often been the talk of the blogosphere. I have heard of a few different pulpit committees that have made youth a significant part of their criteria in looking for a new Pastor. We often spend much more in churches to focus on the needs of children or youth than we do for the seniors or other groups. I know that there are some reasons for some of these things and I am definitely not anti-youth (I was involved directly in youth ministry for over a decade and I currently teach our teen Sunday School instead of the adult class at our church), but I wonder if sometimes we don't fixate on youth to the detriment of heeding and focusing on the grey heads among us?

Just my thoughts,

Frank

So, what say you, is Dr. Witherington correct or is he a washed up old man?

Just my thoughts,

Frank

Let Another Man - 2

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My friend and fellow-blogger Chris Anderson made some comments objecting to my last post. I was going to respond to them in the comments section, but I decided to go ahead and address them in a post instead (it is a little too long for the comments section anyway).

Before I begin, I want to place the comments here so that you do not have to go searching for them.

Hi, Frank. I often agree with you. This is not one of those times. If you carry your position to its logical conclusion, anyone who specializes in a certain field is precluded from addressing it. Apply that to your ministry. You can't preach on the importance of the local church because you're a pastor. You can't preach on the need for women to submit to men in the home and church because you're a husband and pastor. Etc.

The only one authorized to address an issue would be the one least qualified to do so. It's absurd. Of course a seminary president has thought more about seminary than the rest of us. Of course missionaries on a foreign field have a perspective on supporting national which we don't. That doesn't make them right, but neither does it disqualify them from speaking to the issue. Again, the alternative is people waxing eloquent about issues which they have no interest in. How can that be a good thing?

How about this: we acknowledge that no one is entirely objective, then way their arguments on the basis of Scripture and logic, not their personal gravitas? I think that's the only sane answer.

My two cents, anyway.

Oh...I also think your use of Proverb 27:2 is a stretch.

And, of course, I consider you a friend. :-)



I will start by saying that I plan on saving the first part of his comment in my archives so that I can someday put together a puff piece of mine own. "Chris Anderson says of Frank Sansone, ‘Frank, I often agree with you.'" It will make a nice "blurb" on the cover of some future book. If I learn to use ellipses as well as Gail Riplinger, I might even be able to grab even more impressive quotes out of the comments.

Now, when I first started to respond to this post, I was prepared for a pretty strong defense of my position. In fact, this is at least the third draft of my response. However, as I have thought about it more, I think that Chris is probably more right on this than I am - although I also think there is at least an element of his understanding of my point where I think I was misunderstood - but that is probably because I failed to communicate clearly what I was trying to say. I do think that there is some validity to what I was trying to get across, however, so I do want to at least attempt again to make that point - but to clarify it a little.

First of all, I would like to clarify that I did not say that the cases made by the men in question were completely invalidated because of their position, but rather I stated, "the effectiveness of their cases were hurt because of who they were. "

Chris also commented that "if you carry your position to its logical conclusion, anyone who specializes in a certain field is precluded from addressing it" and, later on, "the only one authorized to address an issue would be the one least qualified to do so. Its absurd" and "Again, the alternative is people waxing eloquent about issues which they have no interest in."

Since Chris came to this conclusion, I think it would be helpful for me to clarify that this is NOT what I trying to say. I am not calling for the uninformed to pontificate - we already have way too much of that. Instead, I am calling for people to be careful in coming across too strongly as an advocate for a position that can clearly been seen to benefit themselves personally.

My last two paragraphs in my first post attempted to make this point and I think that since this is the heart of what I was trying to get across they bear repeating (with a small caveat to be included afterwards).

In both cases, a better scenario for addressing the issues at hand may have been to let it be handled by someone other than the individuals that handled it. In the case of the missionaries' presentation, a national pastor who had experienced and witnessed some of the same things that the missionaries wrote regarding could have more effectively written the paper - by doing so he would not have come across as self-serving since the position taken would not be benefitting him and he would have been less likely to reach so greatly in his justification of his positions. In the case of the seminary article, a more effective presentation may have been made by a seminary graduate who highlighted the value that going to seminary has added to his ministry - perhaps someone who was in ministry pre-seminary and went back to seminary for more education. This would have again brought more credibility to the article and helped to avoid some of the interaction that came across as elitist and "out of touch."

In both cases, a practicing of the principle espoused in Proverbs 27:2 could have avoided some of the problems in the presentation. Likewise, Pastors would be wise to have others be their advocates rather than seeking to be their own advocates. Even if you have a good point, it can be easy to come across as self-serving when you are pushing for things that can be seen as directly benefitting you and it can also blind you to other perspectives.


If you will notice, in this first paragraph, I gave two specific examples of the types of people who could make the cases better (IMO) than the ones who made the case. In neither case was I calling for someone uninformed to make the case, but rather for someone who was indeed informed, but not directly involved.

Now, in light of re-thinking some of this, I think a couple of clarifications are in order.

1. I think Chris' point about a pastor preaching regarding the local church and a man preaching about a woman submitting could be viewed as a violation of this thought, is an important point and one that makes me want to clarify that I am mainly speaking of opinion or distant application, not direct Biblical teaching. I would say that a Pastor who preaches something clearly in the Bible is not arguing for his own cause, but proclaiming God's cause. Perhaps I making a distinction without a difference in this, however, and to many it may indeed come across as a Pastor proclaiming the truth of the importance of the local church or the headship of the man, etc. is teaching something to benefit himself. So, in this case, it would seem that what I have said here is off.

2. I wonder if I was so put off in the way these things were done that rather than just indicate that the particular people involved came across as self-serving, I sought to make a principle rather than just deal with the particular problems presented by the particular articles/authors.

3. I am still pretty sure that a pastor having an advocate is a wise move. While a church should be concerned about paying their pastor properly, I don't think the wise pastor parks on that in his preaching. I am not saying that you ignore it when you are preaching on a book and the topic comes up, but don't be pushing it all the time or you will find it backfiring. Paul could make the argument in behalf of others, in part, because they knew he was not personally benefitting and that he had been willing to be a tent-maker.

4. I still think it is a good idea if you do find it necessary to address something that could come across as directly benefitting you and you cannot find an advocate in your behalf that you get others to read/listen to your point before presenting it so that you are not blind to your own bias' on the matter.

5. I still think that even though the Pastor could make a strong declaration of truth regarding submission of the wife, he would be unwise to attempt to be the one counseling his own wife in this area if there were a problem - but maybe I am just a wimp.

6. I can agree that Proverbs 27:2 may not have been the best verse for this. I was thinking of "praise you" to include the idea of talking about how worthy you were or arguing in your behalf, but I will admit that it was probably a stretch and I am sorry for making that stretch.

Just my (adjusted and hopefully clarified) thoughts,

Frank

Let another man praise you

Monday, August 27, 2007

Proverbs 27:2 tells us: "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips."

Twice in the last two weeks I have found myself reading an article written by individuals whose perspective on what they were writing made the nature of their writing suspect. In both cases, I am sure that the writers are good men and I actually agree with part of what they said, but the effectiveness of their cases were hurt because of who they were.

In one case, the paper was dealing with the issue of American churches supporting national pastors and evangelists on foreign mission fields. The writers of this paper were both veteran missionaries of the foreign mission field. There are definitely some benefits to writing such an article from that background. After all, I am sure that they have interracted with many nationals who have received American dollars. There are also some drawbacks from writing such an article with that background. One, it tends to come across as self-serving - the traditional missionaries are worried that the limited supply of missionary money is going to go to nationals rather than being used to support traditional missionaries. Second, it tends to become an apology rather than an evaluation. Instead of realistically looking at the pros and cons of such a situation and then evaluating those pros and cons Biblically, the paper took the unwise measure of overstating the points at time and actually hurt their cause rather than helped it. (If you followed some of their arguments to their logical extreme, for instance, you could actually make the point that you should not be supporting missionaries at all - which is clearly not what they were wanting you to conclude from the article.)

In another case, the article dealt with the issue of seminary training. I believe seminary training is a very helpful thing and, as such, I agreed with the main concept of the article - get all of the training that you can get. However, this is again a case where the person making the case may not be the best one to make the case. As an employee of a seminary, his pushing seminary education comes across as self-serving. Also, as an employee of a seminary, his article supporting a seminary education (and more importantly in this case, his interaction with those who responded to the article) seem to have limited his ability to look at the situation objectively and interact with those who question his conclusion in a manner that displays a charitable understanding of the positions of those with whom he is supposed to be interacting. The result of this is that the article and thread actually have the effect of pushing some away from his stated objective.

My purpose here is not to address and critique the particular articles in question. I may choose to do that at some point, but that is irrelevant to the point of this post.

In both cases, a better scenario for addressing the issues at hand may have been to let it be handled by someone other than the individuals that handled it. In the case of the missionaries' presentation, a national pastor who had experienced and witnessed some of the same things that the missionaries wrote regarding could have more effectively written the paper - by doing so he would not have come across as self-serving since the position taken would not be benefitting him and he would have been less likely to reach so greatly in his justification of his positions. In the case of the seminary article, a more effective presentation may have been made by a seminary graduate who highlighted the value that going to seminary has added to his ministry - perhaps someone who was in ministry pre-seminary and went back to seminary for more education. This would have again brought more credibility to the article and helped to avoid some of the interaction that came across as elitist and "out of touch."

In both cases, a practicing of the principle espoused in Proverbs 27:2 could have avoided some of the problems in the presentation. Likewise, Pastors would be wise to have others be their advocates rather than seeking to be their own advocates. Even if you have a good point, it can be easy to come across as self-serving when you are pushing for things that can be seen as directly benefitting you and it can also blind you to other perspectives.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

Charles Spurgeon on Evolution

Friday, August 24, 2007

It is a rare thing for me to link to SharperIron, since I generally assume that anyone who reads A Thinking Man's Thoughts probably already reads SharperIron.

Today's blog entitled, "Spurgeon on the Bible and Darwinism, Part 1" by Doug Kutilek is worth stopping over there for a read. (Doug does not yet have it posted on his own site, so I am linking to the version on SI.)

Charles Spurgeon ministered in a day when Darwinian Evolution was coming to its forefront. To see his comments in the midst of the expansion of evolution were interesting.

I thought this comment was particularly interesting coming from one without the benefit of resources such as the Institute for Creation Research or Answers in Genesis.

There are abundant evidences that one creature inclines towards another in certain respects, for all are bound together in a wondrous way which indicates that they are all the product of God’s creative will; but what the advocates of evolution appear to forget is, that there is nowhere to be discovered an actual chain of growth from one creature to another,—there are breaks here and there, and so many missing links that the chain cannot be made complete. There are, naturally enough, many resemblances between them, because they have all been wrought by the one great master-mind of God, yet each one has its own peculiarities.

I assume there is a "Part 2" coming up as well.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

Stop Picking On Me - Or Things I Like About Fundamentalism

Monday, August 20, 2007

This is a couple of weeks old, but Ellis Murphree over at "As For Me And My House" recently posted a short article entitled, "Stop Picking on Me" that is a refreshing read. In the midst of all the clamourng and complaining about Fundamentalism, Ellis finds and discusses 9 things he appreciates about Fundamentalism.

Those nine things include things such as "Solid, biblical teaching", "Quality music", and "Formal worship services" - things that I often hear are not present in Fundamentalism.

I think Ellis hits the nail on the head with this post and his experience in Fundamentalism lines up much closer to what I have experienced than some of the characitures of Fundamentalism that you typically read on the internet.

Go over and check out the entire article - Stop Picking On Me.

Wife convicted of killing preacher out of jail after five months in jail!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I am not a lawyer and don't play one on TV (that is a reference to an old commercial for all of you young'uns out there). However, the case of Mary Winkler seems like something is gone awry in the Tennessee justice system.

This past week, on August 14, Mary Winkler walked out of jail after having spent a total of seven months in custody (five in jail, two in a mental hospital)* for having shot her husband in the back with a 12-guage shotgun.

I am sure by now that most of you have heard something about the story. Her husband was the Pastor of a Church of Christ in Tennessee. According to most reports, he was well-liked and respected in the community. However, on March 22, 2006, his wife shot him in the back and took off with their three children to Alabama. Reports say that when Mary Winkler left, her husband was not yet dead from the shooting, but rather than calling 911 or trying to help him after what she said later was an "accident", she took the children and fled.

When she went to trial, she said that she had been the victim of abuse. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know if this is true or not. There was no collaborating evidence presented about the alleged abuse. The couple's nine-year old daughter testified that she never saw her father mistreat her mother (even though testifying as such could have caused this little girl who has already lost a father to also lose a mother to a long sentence) and Mary Winkler herself said under cross-examination that her husband did nothing for which he deserved to die. Police said that Mary Winkler had been involved in a financial scam and that this had led to some arguments on the nights she killer her husband. The jury, however, returned a "Voluntary Manslaughter" conviction rather than a 1st-degree murder conviction.

Now she is out of prison and out of the mental hospital and free. Something does not smell right in the state of Tennessee.

Some news reports regarding this story:

Mary Winkler Told Cops She Shot Minister Husband After Fight

Preacher's Wife Guilty of Manslaughter

Did Preacher's Wife Get Away with Murder?


Just my thoughts,

Frank


* The seven months include credit for five months she was held before her conviction. After her conviction, she only served 67 days, 60 of which was in a mental hospital.

The FFBC Blog on Hate Crimes Legislation

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The FFBC Blog has a post about Senate bill S.1105 on so-called "Hate Crimes" entitled, The Danger of So-Called "Hate Crimes" Legislation.

(Please note: I am linking to something I wrote over there. It may be inappropriate to do so, but I thought the post was more appropriately placed over there and I wanted to make sure my readers here were aware of it.)

Regarding the AFA video - HT: Stephen Racite (via email) and then Chris Anderson.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

Recommended Blogs for Pastors

Friday, August 03, 2007

In some previous posts, I mentioned that I was in the process of compiling a list of recommended blogs for Pastors for use at the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches Annual Conference next week in Montague, New Jersey.

This project got expanded on me a little bit to include Internet Resources for Pastors as well as Recommended Blogs for Pastors. This will be a one page (front and back) handout. I have split them into two posts, but I thought some of you might be interested in the final product and other readers might find the information helpful. I already realize that I left off some things I wanted to include (such as Sermon Audio).

Anyway, here is the Recommended Blog portion.


Religious and Pastoral Blogs

A blog is short for “weblog” and is a sort of online newsletter that allows for user interaction and comment. It is this interaction feature that makes blogs a unique and popular feature on the internet. Blogs are easy to start, but to post on them regularly often requires either a serious commitment to writing or a group effort. Many of the most successful blogs are “group blogs” which feature a group of writers who work together to post regularly. Blogs are often viewed as successful based on either a large readership or strong “linkage” - however, both of these can be manipulated and the relative value of any blog cannot be measured by these factors alone. Due to the relative ease of setting up a blog, almost anyone can have a blog and as Solomon might write today, “Of the making of blogs there is no end.” This continual growth of the number of blogs makes reading and evaluating them a hard task and I am sure there are worthy blogs that will be missed due to this fact.

While you can read a blog with pretty much any computer and browser (such as Internet Explorer), the prolific nature of blogs makes the use of a “Blog Reader” a helpful addition. A Blog Reader allows you to check all of the blogs you are interested in reading at one time by highlighting which blogs have new or updated information. Depending on the setting of the blog reader and of blog site itself, you can view the headline of an article, the beginning of the article, or the whole article from within your Blog Reader without needing to go to the individual blogs unless you want to check things in further details. A couple of the most popular Blog Readers are Blog Lines (http://www.bloglines.com) and Google Reader (http://www.google.com/reader/). I use Blog Lines and have found it easy to use and helpful.

* Current Christian ((http://www.currentchristian.com)

Current Christian is the blog of Pastor Greg Linscott. Greg does a great job of highlighting articles and news items from around the web that are particularly relevant to Pastors.

* Sharper Iron (http://www.sharperiron.org)
Sharper Iron is the biggest of the “Young Fundamentalists” blogs and forums. The blog itself is pretty good and conservative, while the forums tend to be a mix bag that leans (strongly at times) to the left of conservative Fundamentalism. The blog itself often features helpful articles by leaders such as Kevin Bauder, John Whitcomb, Sam Horn, and Mark Farnham, as well as interviews of leaders (both Fundamentalist and Evangelical) and a number of helpful and informative book reviews.

*Church Matters (http://blog.9marks.org/) and Albert Mohler (http://www.albertmohler.com)
Church Matters is the blog of Pastor Mark Dever and his organization 9 Marks (Pastor Dever wrote the book “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church.”) Dr. Mohler is the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Both of these men are leaders in the conservative and Calvinist side of the Southern Baptist Convention and their writings reflect this. They also frequently address issues of the church (Dever) and social issues of the day (Mohler).

* Christianity Today News Feed (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct) and Live Blog (http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/)
* World Mag Blog (http://www.worldmagblog.com/blog/)
* Baptist Press (www.bpnews.net)
Each of these blogs tend to focus on news items and commentary from a New Evangelical perspective.

For the sake of space, the following are presented without comment. Disclaimers still apply.

* Expository Thoughts (http://expositorythoughts.wordpress.com)
* Tim Challies (http://www.challies.com/)
* Pyromaniacs (http://teampyro.blogspot.com/)
* The Shepherd’s Scrapbook (http://spurgeon.wordpress.com)
* Theosource (http://www.theosource.com)
* Pulpit Magazine Blog (http://sfpulpit.com/)
* Biblical Preaching (http://www.biblicalpreaching.wordpress.com)
* Between Two Worlds (http://theologica.blogspot.com/)
* Pure Church (http://purechurch.blogspot.com/)
* Unashamed Workman (http://unashamedworkman.wordpress.com/)

Internet Resources for Pastors

In some previous posts, I mentioned that I was in the process of compiling a list of recommended blogs for Pastors for use at the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches Annual Conference next week in Montague, New Jersey.

This project got expanded on me a little bit to include Internet Resources for Pastors as well as Recommended Blogs for Pastors. This ended up bein a one page (front and back) handout. One side made some comments regarding the Internet and gave some general internet resources for Pastors. The other side gave some comments about blogs and gave some recommended blogs. I have split them into two posts, but I thought some of you might be interested in the final product and other readers might find the information helpful. I already realize that I left off some things I wanted to include (such as Sermon Audio).

Anyway, here is the General Internet Resources for Pastors portion.

Internet Resources for Pastors

The internet can be a place of great blessing and great peril for Pastors. There has been much mentioned over the years regarding the dangerous aspects of the internet - and those warnings are still valid and are still needed. The internet can also be a source of great help and encouragement. Below is a list of some web-sites, blogs, and other resources from the internet that Pastors may find helpful. Inclusion in this list does not indicate endorsement of these sites, resources or organizations that run sites by either the FFBC or me, but they are listed here because the information on these sites may be helpful for Pastors. This list is also not intended to be exhaustive. This same list of resources will soon be made available at The FFBC Blog and at A Thinking Man's Thoughts(my own blog). I also plan on adding similar resources shortly at another one of my blogs - Links for Christians . For the purposes of this list, I have avoided resources that cost money, as well as resources that are primarily secular in nature (with one exception).

Bible Study Aids

* E-Sword (http://www.e-sword.net)

E-Sword is a free Bible program that is a valuable aid for Pastors and other students of the Word. This program features a myriad of resources, such as ISBE, Barnes’ Notes, Robertson’s Word Pictures, Vincent’s Word Studies and more. Unlike most of the other resources in the list, this is a resource you download and install on to your computer, rather than use while online.


* Blue Letter Bible (http://www.blueletterbible.org)
The Blue Letter Bible is similar to E-Sword except that it is designed to be used online instead of downloaded as a program. In addition to searchable Bibles, there are also commentaries, maps, charts, outlines and more available at this site.


* Crosswalk Study Bible (http://bible.crosswalk.com)
Allows you to search the text of the Bible and the commentaries. Can click on a reference to read what an assortment of commentaries have to say about a passage. The Crosswalk site has a number of other helpful items as well.


Miscellaneous Resources

* Christian Classics Ethereal Library (http://www.ccel.org/)
This site provides the text of thousands of Christian books that are public domain. A special emphasis includes works by the “Church Fathers,” but there are many other works included as well. Many of the works also include short biographies of the authors. Many of these books can be viewed in different formats and can be downloaded and stored on your own computer so they can be used when you are not connected to the internet.


* Sermon Illustrations
From Bible.org (http://www.bible.org/illus.php)
From Crosswalk (http://www.crosswalk.com/pastors/illustrations/)
These sites allow you to view thousands of sermon illustrations. Both sites allow you to search the database for particular words. The Bible.org site is presented in a more useful format. There is a lot of overlap between the two sites.


* Cyber-Hymnal (http://www.cyberhymnal.org)
The Cyberhymnal is a site that has over 6,000 hymns and Gospel songs. The site features a search feature that lets you search for hymns that contain particular words or phrases. It also has a chart of Scripture allusions to enable you to locate hymns that may allude to a particular passage of Scripture. There are often pictures and biographical sketches of the authors and composers included with the songs as well as a MIDI file that will allow you to hear the tune of the song.


* What in the World? (http://www.bju.edu/resources/witw/)
* Calvary Contender (http://home.hiwaay.net/~contendr/)
These are online versions of popular news and information sources for Fundamentalists. While Calvary Contender is no longer published, the site allows you to search past issues for research purposes.

A Great Time with Faith Baptist Church of Champaign, IL

This past few days we have had the privilege at Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury of hosting a mission team from Faith Baptist Church in Champaign, Illinois.

The team came with Youth Pastor John Cashner, Jim and Dawn King and family, and eight teenagers. It was great to have the team here at the church and we rejoice in the great time that was had. It was great to have this group of young people with us for the week and we are encouraged by God's working throughout the week.

On Saturday, we visited a number of homes and gave out church brochures and invitation to the Cola Clash and Vacation Bible School. In the evening, we held a Cola Clash Youth Rally. We had over 20 young people in attendance and the activities went well and the spirit of the meeting was great. We had a number of visitors for the night and the Gospel was proclaimed. We are praying that some who came without Christ will come to know Christ through the message that was preached and through the tracts and other information that was given out to those who came.

On Sunday we had a Fellowship Sunday and Pastor Cashner preached the afternoon service.

Monday through Wednesday nights we had Vacation Bible School, with the group from Illinois running everything. The team also completed some needed tasks around the church and were a real blessing. I know that our people also enjoyed the times of fellowship with the group throughout the week.

Thanks for coming, Faith Baptist Church. May God continue to bless you as you serve Him.

Just my thoughts,

Frank