Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pirates 3

To be certain Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End kicks the adventure and action up about three notches. The battle sequences are larger, more exciting, and, thanks to the help of Computer Graphics, more amazing. A Pirate duel on the top of the main sail in the midst of a storm, and a raging war, a sea battle between two ships as they circle a giant whirlpool. These and other sequences make this third movie in the Pirates trilogy a fantastic watch.

The story does suffer some because of the massiveness of the action. Some of the story begins to fold over on itself towards the middle of the film, but this is only minor and does not detract to terribly from the overall quality of the film. The writers have again brought a good story, decent dialogue, and that goofy pirate humor back to the screen in this third film.

After all that let me add, however, that I do hope they don't make a fourth! The first movie was fantastic, the Second certainly brought some new fun to our characters, and this third film resolved the story, though in a somewhat unexpected manner. So, if I may offer some advice to the movie producers: Don't mess with a good thing. Leave the Pirates Trilogy alone!

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Monday, May 28, 2007

You Must Have Sin to Have Salvation

Our culture is so anti-sin that since the dawn of psychotherapy we have resorted to calling sin merely sickness. We remove the moral responsibility from sin and assure ourselves that it is not our fault. We shift the blame from ourselves to our biological makeup, to other people, or even to God himself. It's a habit as old as the existence of sin itself. Adam, in the Garden of Eden, placed blame on Eve, and God. This is not how God looks at it, however. He has not be seduced by psychology. Sin is still sin in His book.

But it was in a conversation with some co-workers over breakfast this last week that I saw first hand the other way we think about sin in our culture. While attempting to share the gospel with these two young men I was "informed" that we are not all born sinners. We're all actually born good. We learn sin and therefore sin, but this is merely a result of our society's stupidity.

The problems here are manifold. Of course we must concede that sin did not exist until Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden. But post-fall all men are born sinners. One of these young men argued that its clearly evident to see man's internal goodness when we look at a child. But I argue that looking at a sweet, beautiful child and watching them disobey, without years of observed sinfulness, is clear evidence that man is inherently sinful. Why do children learn to lie before they can even speak? Why do they squirm and resist getting their diapers changed? How did they learn to manipulate their mothers and fathers and grandparents with that innocent little looks and hugs after having disobeyed? They know because it is in them from birth to do so.

This does not mean that all people are as bad as they can be. But if all men are good why are they not able to resist the temptation to sin in even the smallest way (cheating on their taxes, speeding, selfishness, etc.)? We are all bad, and even the smallest sins count against us before God.

But there is hope. For when we are willing to admit we are sinful, and not just sick, then we are steps away from securing freedom from that sin. Christ came into the world as God's only Son and bore the wrath that we deserved for our sins, when He died upon the cross. And now all who confess they are sinners and beleive upon Jesus' death and resurrection on their behalf will be saved. Acceptance of your sin is necessary for salvation, friends. So own up to it, and step into freedom from bondage!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Why the name change?

So the questions are rolling over, "Why the name change on the blog?" The answer, in short, is it makes more sense. My previous blog name was a German phrase that, translated, means "We are Beggars." The name meant nothing, however, to most people and therefore did not facilitate edification. Neither does it fully convey what this blog is about. The theology behind the statement is true enough, but since the content of my posts reflect an interest in Christian engagement with the culture the name change seemed appropriate.

So Welcome to Christ & Culture. Here you will find my articles and thoughts on theology, philosophy, politics, and culture. The Christian engagement of the culture has taken some promising turns in the last two decades. It wasn't long ago that the church was teaching a practice of abandonment and isolation from the culture. Today there is far more a chance of cultural gluttony than there is of cultural anorexia by Christians. But cultural engagement is not always done Biblically, and therefore thoughtful discussion needs to continue, and be based on the Word of God.

For those interested in this type of discussion I recommend solid Christian cultural commentators like R. Albert Mohler Jr., Gene Edward Veith, Cal Thomas, Philip Graham Ryken, and the staff at World Magazine. For good resources see my links to the left.

Christians are to be in the practice of redeeming the culture, but we are to do it intelligently, and Biblically. For more on this discussion stay tuned to Christ & Culture, my new blog!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Vote in 08, Inspite of Dissapointment

If things continue going the way that they are then it appears that Conservative voters in 2008 will have the choice of electing John McCain or Rudy Guilliani president. This means that evangelicals will largely avoid the voting booths then. Why? Because neither of these two candidates stands out as exception choices, and neither carries enough weight with evangelicals.

Rudy G. might as well be a liberal on the social issues. His advocacy of Strict Constructionist judges and Roe v. Wade don't mix, and his recent support of public funding for abortions will be a major turn off to Christians in 08. McCain, on the other hand, while being strong on a number of social issues favors pro-campaign finance reform and, like Gulliani has other un-Conservative tendencies. He probably has a better shot at capturing the Evangelical vote, but it's not a guarantee.

Those of us who wished for more support for "lesser" candidates, like Mike Huckabee or Sam Browback, need to wake up! 08 Will most likely come down to either Guilliani or McCain, though there is some chance that Romney could pull out an upset, which could bring in the evangelical vote (despite Romney's Mormon faith). But a word to those Christians who, out of frustration and dissapointment, may not vote at all.

Either of these candidates is a better pick than a liberal democrat. And, furthermore, God is sovereign and, accoridng to Romans 13, he puts all men in their positions of authority. God will work it out. Pray, perhaps even weep in your closet, but vote! It is your duty as a citizen and as a Christian.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Caught in a Web

Spiderman 3 was to be one of the biggest films of the year, and I am sure that as far as income goes it will be. The pre-established loyalsts to Spidey and the new fan base developed from the first two films will bring in enough money. But as far as content goes I am afraid I have to classify Spiderman 3 as a bit of a let down.

Don't get me wrong, the film is better than other recent comic book movies (i.e. Fantastic Four and Daredevil) and, at times, enjoyable to watch. But it is undeniable that the film lacks something. What is it? Action and Progress!

All around the film has a good story, mostly the work of Comic creater Stan Lee, but the writers of this third Spidey film seem to have been caught treading water. They re-hash the same old stories from the first two films without adding anything new, without progressing them. The love story between M.J. and Peter Parker is prime example. In the first two previous movies we have seen visibly the isolation of Peter and the growing love of Mary-Jane. We've seen the conflict that being Spiderman brings to their relationship and the disappointment of M.J. when, once again, she is shut out of Peter's world. The story is already in place when we come to the third film, so why do the writers feel the need to spend at least half the film building it back up?

Furthermore the internal turmoil of Parker as the dark spiderman battles for control is dealt with so poorly. The best scene is when Parker finally strips himself in the bell tower of the church, a fantastic sequence. But it soon over and forgotten. The plot is tedious up to this point, and almost over after it. The interaction between Spiderman and Venomon is even more pointless to the film as this fantastic character is barely a role player.

In my opinion there are fare amount of fantastic shots, but the story takes way to long to progress and winds up dissapointing when it finally does climax (why on earth did Peter's "cool strutt" have to last sooooooo long!). Spiderman three, it seems to me, moves like is was caught in its own web.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pray for the Falwell Family

This morning Evangelist and Christian activist Jerry Falwell was died at age 73. Whether or not you agree with all that Dr. Falwell has done in his lifetime, all that he has said, we must all acknowledge that he is a great man of God. The work he has done at Liberty has been good, and evangelicalism is thankful to God for him. Francis Schaeffer respected him, as did many godly men. He will surely be missed.

Please be in prayer for his family and for those at Liberty University, where Dr. Fallwell was President. Associated Press reports that this is breaking news, so keep checking on it for more information.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Contagious Passions

On Saturday Evening Krista and I had the great pleasure of hosting a discussion about the nature, theology, and means of missions. Our guests were all seminary famalies preparing to go into missions in the near future. The discussion was very fruitful for us, and I hope for them.

Our panel gave wonderful answers to a number of serious and somewhat nuanced questions. They even offered some practical suggestions for the church and its role in missions that I had never considered before, advice that I will hold dear as I prepare to go into pastoral ministry donw the road. But above all these benefits is the great joy that we recieved in being infected with their passion for missions.

As we conversed and they began to show their excitement in various answers and dialogue I could feel myself becoming emotionally charged. By the end of our time together my heart burned for God's glory to be spread across the world and men and women of every tribe to come to saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. A fire was lit within me that has yet to be extinguished.

It is my prayer that these discussions will happen all across the nation and churches will recover a sense of their true role in the work of missions. It is my prayer that men and women like Riley & Laurel, and Adam and Mary, will be raised up to not only spread the gospel abroad, but to spread a passion for missions in their own local contexts. A Passion for Missions is Contagious!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Countdown

It's just days now until this crazy semester is finally over. Your prayers are desired as I strive to finish my last two finals and a big paper.

The rest of the family is doing well. Krista is about 12 weeks away from delivering our beautiful little girl. Be in prayer for her.

The Countdowns have begun!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Puritan Theology in the 21st Century

A few weeks ago I preached a sermon at our church. In the sermon I mentioned, just in passing, that I feared one of the problems with our adoption of Puritan spirituality is an overemphasis on self-examination. The words caught the attention of my elder, and doctoral student in Church history, Aaron Menikof. Aaron inquired of me later if I believed that was true, because he felt that it was a mischaracterization of the Puritans that is all too common. I felt, quickly, in that conversation that I had not properly qualified my statement.

I beleive the Puritans were gospel centered in their spirituality, and were not legalistic. The comment I made in that sermon several weeks ago was a reflection on our perversion of their theology. I do not believe that the Puritans overemphasized self-examination, but that we tend to do so. Self-examination has, for far too long, gone unconsidered in modern evangelicalism, so perhaps its revival is being taken too far. But in any case, this is not a fault of the Puritans. To further clarify my thoughts on this issue I have posted online a paper that I recently wrote for a class on English Puritanism: Death By Duty?: An Analysis of John Owen's Theology of Moritification in The Mortification of Sin. In this paper I ask and attempt to answer the question, "Was John Owen a legalist in his theology of fighting sin?" The answer I conclude with is "no." You can read the paper if you're really interested. Go to Dave's articles.