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January 03, 2006

Happy New Year

OK, I'm a few days late. The main reason for this post is to actually have something on the page when it loads -- my other stuff is old enough that it's shuffled back into archives, aparantly.

A few of my resolutions this year:

1. Looking back over the past few months, I feel like I've been slacking off a bit. I've got a few series ideas that I started and left hanging in limbo, the Mark study is stalled, and I haven't done This Week in Church History since the first week of December. That will change. More substantive posts, more proactive posting (where I write something rather than just react and respond to what someone else has written).

2. I'm plotting a template change. I apologize to all the Internet Explorer users out there who really don't see the right sidebar. I had it fixed (actually had someone else help me with it, even), but it messed it up in Firefox. I'm reading a couple books right now that cover CSS pretty well, so maybe that will help me. The colors will probably stay the same (though if you have any feedback on that, let me know!).

3. More consistant podcasting. I know that many of you probably don't listen to the podcast (not everyone likes that type of music), but I'm going to try to set a schedule for myself and stick to it for both podcasts that I produce (many of you would enjoy Sunday at First Baptist).

4. Work on the book. Some of you have heard of it -- I'm working on a book. A sort of "how-to, why-should-I" book on podcasting for churches. The more podcasting I do, the more I see this medium as an untapped 'market'. Small churches with no radio or TV budget can podcast, and they need to be. The book will help them do it.

5. Return of the Blogroll Cruise.

6. Get back to the Christian Carnival and the Best of Me Symphony. I still get emails reminding me of those things, and I've not participated in too long. I'm going to start participating again.

Those are just a few. I'm also renewing my resolution to lose weight (one of these years I might actually do it!), and I have resolved to no longer celebrate birthdays. I am going to follow in my father's footsteps, so this year will mark the celebration of the ninth anniversary of my 29th birthday. Yes, some of you math people will be able to figure out how old I am from that (or you could just look at this post and add a year).

But most of all I resolve to enjoy this year, no matter what it brings me. After all, when life gives you lemons, sell 'em on eBay. (The funny thing is, I had already decided to say that, knowing nothing of the book or anything. Then I Googled it, and found that site. Who knew?!)

Posted by Warren Kelly at 11:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 04, 2006

Twelve Hours! Let the Finger Pointing Begin

It took twelve hours, but someone has finally been able to tie to corrupt Bush Nazi administration (did I leave an epithet out?) to the mine tragedy in West Virginia.

The president of the United Mine Workers said on CNN that the administration was keeping the MSHA from doing its job. He also said that the tragedy wouldn't have happened in a union mine, because union mines are safer.

I've been waiting for this. I told my wife this morning that it would end up being Bush's fault that the mine collapsed.

We have to find someone to blame. Accident's don't just happen -- they happen becasue the government -- excuse me, I mean the Government -- doesn't take care of us. The Government is our shepherd, we should never want.

Bad things happen, folks. It's a part of the fallen world we live in. Blaming people after the fact won't bring back the dead. Let's find out what went wrong, and try to make sure it doesn't happen again. And please don't start turning this into a political issue. Don't insult the memory of those who died by using their deaths as an opportunity to make political points.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 05, 2006

Shut Up Pat!!

Pat Robertson has done it again. According to Pat, Ariel Sharon's stroke is punishment from God for giving away Israeli land.

Face it, though -- we all knew this was coming. After all, we've had people talking about God electrocuting a pastor in Texas because he was part of the "emerging church" movement. And who better to say it than Pat Robertson? Seriously -- how many people are actually taking this guy seriously anymore?

Yes, his cable TV show has a ton of viewers. I'd wager that many of those viewers are people waiting for the next idiotic thing to come out of Robertson's mouth. I know I used to watch Bob Tilton all the time for the pure entertainment value of a grown man claiming he got "ink poisoning" from laying on the prayer requests that people had sent to him as he prayed over them. And I used to do a great Ernest Angley impersonation.

My point is that viewers does NOT equal influence. But Pat provides the perfect target for people who want to believe that all evangelicals are complete blithering idiots like Robertson. One of these days, maybe folks will figure out that Christians don't like Robertson any more than anyone else does.

{UPDATE: Found a quote, thanks to Aaman Lamba at Blogcritics. Added it to the story above.}

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jesus On Trial

{So, has anyone else noticed that in spite of my resolution to post proactively, everything I've done so far has been reactive?}

Luigi Cascioli, a retired agronomist and atheist, is taking the Roman Catholic Church to court for "abusing popular credibility" by teaching that Jesus existed. A Catholic priest, Father Enrico Righi, is the immediate defendant, but the precedent that the case could set is clear -- if Father Righi is found guilty, the rest of the Catholic Church will also be guilty of breaking that same law.

From the Times of London:

[Cascioli] argued that all claims for the existence of Jesus from sources other than the Bible stem from authors who lived 'after the time of the hypothetical Jesus' and were therefore not reliable witnesses.

Signor Cascioli maintains that early Christian writers confused Jesus with John of Gamala, an anti-Roman Jewish insurgent in 1st-century Palestine. Church authorities were therefore guilty of 'substitution of persons'.

Cascioli's arguments rely on a late dating of the Gospels that most scholars have rejected in recent years. But even without that point, the merits of the lawsuit are questionable.

Jesus was, until late in the first century, an obscure figure who was put to death at a young age in a backwater part of the Roman Empire. He certainly would not have attracted much Roman attention. Most people in Rome would not have heard of Christ until after 70 AD, when Jews driven from Jerusalem arrived in Rome. And even they wouldn't have necessarily talked about Jesus. They wanted a political savior, not a religious nut who got himself crucified. The fact that we know anything about Christ at all is unusual. The fact that no Roman historians of the period wrote much about him shouldn't surprise us at all.

Cascioli writes off Tacitus, who mentions followers of Christ in his Annals. (I won't talk about Josephus, because his most famous reference is of questionable authenticity, and his reliability as an historian is something that I personally question.) He ignores the fact that there were people, living within 100 years of Christ's death, who were willing to die for their belief in him.

Of course, I'm not sure that Cascioli really exists. All I've seen are pictures (easily faked) and interviews with a man claiming to be Luigi Cascioli. And I'm sure that in a hundred years or so, nobody will believe that I really existed -- based on the same requirements that Cascioli places on Jesus of Nazareth. And we can't prove that anyone existed at the time of Christ based on his requirements. So unless we believe that Judea in the first century was a pretty desolate place, we have to allow for the existence of people who were not written about by Roman historians. That would include Jesus of Nazareth -- no matter what you may think of the religion that has grown up around Him.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 07, 2006


Cruising through my RSS feeds this morning (that list is getting bigger every day!), I found something great (as usual) at Tim Ellsworth's blog.

Baptistlife.com has a listing of Baptist "seminaries, divinity schools, and houses of study." Included in the list is the CBF's answer to Southern -- Baptist Seminary of Kentucky. The description reads

Baptist Seminary of Kentucky (Lexington, Kentucky)
Affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship and CBF. Offering Masters degrees. Providing theological education "committed to spiritual death, intellectual honesty, and moral integrity."
(emphasis added, of course)
I figure it won't be long until the description is changed, but Tim has a screenshot. Check it out.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 08, 2006

Interesting Post on Baptism and Churches

I've been thinking a lot about the whole Bethlehem Baptist Church paedo/credobaptist controversy, especially now that the controversial measure has been withdrawn by the elders. I read the new position statement that's on the church's site, and was especially drawn to this paragraph:

“The elders realize that the issue cannot be dropped because the majority of the elders still favor the motion, including almost all the pastoral staff, and because that conviction puts most of the elders and staff in conflict with at lease [sic] one literal reading of the Bethlehem Affirmation of Faith. Our Affirmation of Faith defines the local church as follows: ‘We believe in the local church, consisting of a company of believers in Jesus Christ, baptized on a credible profession of faith, and associated for worship, work, and fellowship.’ In the most narrow reading, this definition would mean that a Gospel-preaching Presbyterian Church, for example, is not a church. Most of us do not believe that. So at least there are explicit clarifications that we believe we should make in the present Affirmation of Faith. In view of these things, we will be praying and thinking and discussing various ways to move forward together as a church.”
(emphasis added)

Interesting -- especially the part I emphasized. I have friends who are Presbyterian -- can I consider them members of Biblical churches? If not, what are they? Apostate?

I stumbles across the blog of Kevin Bauder today. He is the president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and has written a few pieces on the controversy at Bethlehem. He has an interesting perspective on this issue.

Suppose we offer a definition of a dog that includes the word “quadruped.” Now, imagine a dog that has had a leg severed. Does it still qualify as a dog? The answer has to be yes, but it is now a mutilated dog.

Of course, charity would preclude our using the word “mutilated” of a gospel-preaching pedobaptist church. What most Baptists would say is that the Bethlehem definition identifies a church “when fully organized.” On this (majority) understanding, a pedobaptist congregation may be a church, but is not a fully organized church.

It goes without saying that credobaptists and pedobaptists each think that the other is not fully obedient to the requirements of Scripture. If pedobaptists thought of infant baptism as an indifferent or minor matter, then they would simply go along with credobaptists. The reverse is also true. The reason that they maintain separate churches is because both think that baptism is too important a matter to finesse. For the most part, however, neither party is prepared to unchurch the other.

I like this perspective. I think it allows both sides to keep their own Biblical interpretation of Baptism while still cooperating with each other in many ways. I hope the elders at Bethlehem are listening.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 09, 2006

Biblical Authority -- The 'B' in Baptist

{I promised a series on 'Baptist Distinctives' some time ago, and this is the first in that series.}

I have a folder in my RSS reader marked "Potential Topics." As I read through articles in my RSS feeds, I copy items of interest and note to that folder, on the assumption I will one day write something about the topic of that post. Unfortunately, what usually happens is that I totally forget about what I've put there until I decide it's time to clean it out. By that time, I've forgotten whatever pearls of wisdom I had to contribute to the discussion.

This is a topic, though, that really has no "window of opportunity." The Bible as our ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice. The 1689 London Baptist Confession puts it this way, right at the very beginning: "The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience ..."

Biblical authority is important to practical Christianity. If this book we read called the Bible has no authority over our lives, if it isn't the rule we follow, then why read it? It's not a simple book to read and understand (some Bible translators' opinions to the contrary). There are plenty of self-help books out there that claim to work, and many people lead what seem to be pretty happy lives following the precepts of Tony Robbins and folks like him. The Bible makes demands on people, it gives us rules to follow, it cramps our style. If it's just another book, then why bother?

The answer is simple -- it's not just another book. It's exactly what the LBC says it is, the only sure, sufficient, infallible rule that we have. When preachers fail, when churches stray, when Christians disappoint, we still have the assurance that the Bible is the authority. We can turn to the same Book that sparked the Great Awakening and the Reformation. We can read the texts that prompted Augustine to leave his Platonism and follow Christ. And we know that it is authoritative because ... it says so.

That's the common defense of Biblical authority -- All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV) It's authority is grounded in itself.

But then, I read a question like Joe Carter asked way back in December.

But is it enough to believe simply because “the Bible tells me so?” Isn’t it circular reasoning to claim that Scripture is authoritative based on the Bible’s claims about itself? And is it rational to believe something on the grounds that Scripture affirms it?
And Joe has an answer to that one that I cannot help but echo -- yes, it is rational.
For us to accept that the premise is rational it must be true that (a) the means by which one arrives at a particular truth are quite likely to lead to truth and (b) one has no convincing reason for giving up that belief. If both of these conditions are met then it is reasonable for one to hold that belief, otherwise it is not.

Since I am still a Christian I obviously have not found a convincing reason for giving up the belief in this premise. Whether I should believe it is rational must therefore depend on how I arrived at this truth. The answer is that I was lead to believe it by the Holy Spirit. Not only does the Bible tell me so, but God himself has testified to the veracity of the claim. Assuming that the Spirit has in fact guided me to believe the premise, then I have a rational, reasonable, non-circular reason for believing that the Bible is true.

We can use logic to justify our belief in Scripture. We can point to it's preservation through centuries of time. We can point to ancient texts that verify its contents. But those things don't matter without the witness of the Holy Spirit in our lives, guiding us to all Truth, and drawing us to the Father.

I think that this, more than any other reason, is why Christians and nonChristians will never see eye to eye on matters concerning the Bible. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, nobody can see the truths of the Bible. Nobody can appreciate the truths it contains. We are naturally suspicious, and the idea of a book written by men who were divinely inspired to write down the words of God seems too good to be true for us. We are also fallen, and we revel in our fallen state. We see the Bible, with its rules for righteous living, as a threat to our freedom of choice. And we are stubborn -- we see in the Bible the message that God has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and we don't want to admit that there is anything we cannot do for ourselves.

So as fallen men, we deny the authority of Scripture. But as redeemed children of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ, we can do no other but accept its authority over us as the Word of God. And what can trump the revealled Word of God in authority over us as believers? From the LBC once again

The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.
( 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 5:9 )

Posted by Warren Kelly at 11:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 11, 2006


So there are validators to see if your HTML, XHTML, and CSS are compliant (and I don't have to check -- I'm pretty sure mine isn't right now. That's one thing the new template will address).

Now there's a validator for your Christology. Are You Chalcedonian Compliant?

(And just so you know, I am. 100%.)

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 12, 2006

Nothing Good Can Come of This

So they've done it.

THEY being a majority of the trustees of the IMB of the Southern Baptist Convention.

IT being booting Wade Burleson.

Of course, they can't just end his service as trustee -- that can only be done in Greensboro this year, at the annual Convention, by a majority of messengers. But they've effectively silenced him.

If you're looking for the "official" reports, here are the links: Baptist Press, Associated Baptist Press. If you want Wade's side of things, read his blog. Marty Durden at the SBC Outpost has also been covering this for the blogosphere.

Wade Burleson is under attack because people don't like the message he's sending to the SBC. I've read no slander, no gossip, no breach of confidence in anything he's written. He's mentioned only two names of people who disagree with him, and has presented their views in a very fair manner. When he's noted potential imporprieties, he has never mentioned names. He has never revealed anything that happened in an Executive Session.

We need people who are willing to expose problems. We need Wade Burleson as an IMB trustee.

I'll be in Greensboro for the Convention. I'll be supporting Wade Burleson. When we start censoring those who reveal problems in our organizations, we have a major problem. The last thing we need -- the last thing we should want -- is a trustee board filled with Yes Men who won't dare stand up for what they really believe, for fear of being run out of town on a rail. This is not a good way to deal with dissent.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 13, 2006

Interesting Quote, and some Background

I read an interesting post concerning the whole IMB controversy today at Scott Bridwell.com. The most interesting was a quote from a current IMB trustee, as published in The Northwest Witness associational paper.

Regarding baptism, Morgan noted there are increasing numbers of newer Southern Baptists who come from different denominational backgrounds and apply to the IMB.

Trustees were concerned that missionary candidates not only identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus by believer’s baptism, but that they fully identify with the doctrinal beliefs of Southern Baptists by their baptism, according to Morgan.

“We had candidates who came through where there were questions about the doctrinal beliefs of those who performed their baptisms,” Morgan said.

Emphasis, of course, is mine.

WHY are we worried about this? Why does it matter what the person who baptized me believes, as long as my baptism was as a believer by immersion? My baptism was performed by someone who is more conservative than anyone in the SBC, but what difference does that make? I don't share some of his beliefs -- some I never have, even when I was baptized.

There was a group, waaaay back in church history, that started questioning the doctrinal integrity of some people, and required anyone who those folks had baptized to be re-baptized. And I know that some Landmarkers consider those Donatists to be Baptist forebears, but they weren't, and we don't need to be following in their example on this issue.

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus.
That's from the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. There is nothing in that definition that indicates that baptism has to be performed only by someone whose doctrine is correct. I was baptized at the age of 8 -- I had no clue what doctrine I believed, much less what the pastor who baptized me believed. Now we are adding something to the definition of baptism that is accepted by a ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention, going beyond what the BF&M says we believe. Going, I believe, beyond what the Bible defines as baptism.

We are edging toward a sacramental view of baptism that is foreign to Baptist polity. We need to be careful in condemning people who oppose that change -- they just might be right.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Best. Joke. Ever.

I love blonde jokes, so I just HAD to pass on this one. It's a classic.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 14, 2006

Teddy, Teddy, Teddy

Ted Kennedy, that paragon of Democrat virtue, has been Onioned.

The distinguished senator from Massachusetts read from an alumni publication the following statement (and, as always, emphasis has been added)

So a 1983 Prospect essay titled "In Defense of Elitism," stated, quote, "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic. The physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports. And homosexuals are demanding the government vouchsafe them the right to bear children."
The article appears in PDF format at Senator Kennedy's own web site. Go there, and read the whole thing, and see if YOU can tell what the senator apparently couldn't.

It's satire.

Of course, that last sentence couldn't POSSIBLY have given that away. I know that Senator Kennedy thinks that the government has a lot of power, but even HE should know that the government doesn't have the power to vouchsafe ANYONE the right to bear children. That, after all, comes from a higher authority.

Tip o' the hat (if I was wearing one) to James over at PCCBoard.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 16, 2006

Principles and Integrity

This is a sermon that all of us need to hear. In light of the IMB/Wade Burleson controversy, it is educational for all of us to hear these words from Bro. Burleson. Many things have already been said, here and elsewhere. Much more will be said in the weeks to come, before the annual meeting of the SBC in Greensboro, NC later this year. Motivations will be questioned and accusations will be made. What is said in this message needs to be heard by every Southern Baptist. But it's valuable for all Christians to hear this, as a man stands on his convictions in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

{edit: Note that Burleson STILL does not name names or discuss confidential information. Still no evidence of slander or any wrongdoing on his part, other than disagreeing with the power lobby on the trustee board.}

(Hat tip goes to Ryan at xIFBx)

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?"
(Acts 8:36 ESV)

And Phillip answered and said, "The International Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, because you must be baptized in a local church."

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2006

I Was Afraid of This ...

{And I promise to blog something nonSBC related later today.}

Ryan DeBarr over at xIFBx has a heartbreaking story of a missionary couple who have been asked to resign because of the new policies at the IMB.

Ryan and I come from similar backgrounds in fundamentalist churches; in fact, he attended the church I was baptized in (though he was there after we moved south). And I think we're both getting an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu with a lot of things that are happening right now in the SBC. We're forgetting that there are some things worth fighting for, and some things that we need to simply agree to disagree about.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 03:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Happy Trogday +4

OK, so this is WAY far afield of the general topic of this entire blog, but I cannot let this event go unnoticed (even though I'm 4 days late).

Friday, January 13, 2006 was the third birthday of everyone's favorite burninator, Trogdor. Celebrate by watching this Flash-media montage. Or maybe you'd like to see the first appearance of Trogdor. Or even play the game.

And I have kept my promise to post something non-SBC-related. Homestarrunner is about as far from the SBC as you can get...

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 18, 2006

Book Review: The Bark of the Bog Owl

There is a distinct lack of good fiction geared toward young people, specifically ages 10-14. Harry Potter isn't an option for some families. Artemis Fowl isn't nearly as well-known (which is unfortunate).

Now there's another option. Jonathan Rogers has written The Wilderking Trilogy, and offers us a series for young readers that is fun, exciting, and based on Christian ideals and principles.

Book 1, The Bark of the Bog Owl, was actually released back in 2004. The premise is familiar to Christians -- a young boy, Aiden Errolson, tending his father's sheep, is chosen by a mysterious prophet to be the next King -- the Wilderking, who comes to lead his people back to prominence in the world, and to reclaim the traditional ideals that the people have forgotten.

The only real weakness in this first book is that the main plot is far too predictable. Once I read that Aiden was a shepherd, I had a feeling that this would be the story of King David retold. Then the Phillist -- I mean, the Pyrthens -- show up with their "peace treaty," which leads to war. Then Aiden goes to his brothers at the front carrying cheese and other food. And guess what? There's this giant ...

That said, I really enjoyed this book. The subplots involving the aboriginal "feechies" is very enjoyable, especially the Feechiefeast that Aiden enjoys. The characters are familiar, but still deep. It's going to be interesting to see Aiden mature over the course of the next two books, and it's a relief to read about a boy who is actually boyish -- he likes to roam, play, and have adventures. He's a twelve-year-old who writes to the King volunteering his services as "an adventurer." And suddenly, he's got a huge responsibility dropped on him. He reacts the way any normal kid would react.

Rogers has a Ph.D in 17th Century English Lit, but this book reads as if he'd spent his academic career studying 18th Century American literature instead. The differences in dialect between feechie and 'civilizer' are distinct, American dialects, and the setting certainly reminds me of the American southeast -- fitting, since Rogers grew up in Georgia. The series has promise, and after I finished this book I was relieved that I'd gotten the second one to review as well. THAT review will be up in a half hour or so ...

Posted by Warren Kelly at 12:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Book Review: The Secret of the Swamp King

Book two of the Wilderking Trilogy opens with Aiden Errolson serving in the court of King Darrow of Corenwald. Actually, it opens with Aiden and Darrow's son Steren hunting a wild boar, but Aiden is, in fact, at court. Aiden is loved by everyone at court -- everyone except Darrow.

Darrow is tired of hearing about how heroic Aiden is. About how he defeated the giant Golia -- I mean Greidawl, and helped drive the Pyrthan invaders out of Corenwald. He's threatened -- he thinks Aiden is after the throne.

So he sends Aiden on a quest, to prove his loyalty. Aiden is sent to retrieve a legendary flower that is said to have the ability to cure the King's depression. But the flower is located in the heart of the Feechiefen Swamp -- and nobody who has ever entered the swamp has come out again.

Aiden isn't worried -- he has the friendship of the feechies, and the mark to prove it. But as he progresses, he grows more and more worried. There's something wrong in the Feechiefen Swamp -- there are feechies who pay no attention to the feechie laws, and who use metal weapons. And there's a new king in the swamps.

The Wilderking.

I enjoyed this book even more than the first one. For one thing, it's less derivative than the first book, even though the close friendship between Aiden and Steren was predictable, as was Darrow's depression and hatred of Aiden. But the focus of this book is on the feechies -- which should please Rogers' fans.

The feechies really make this series. Their simplicity, their sense of honor, and their commitment to their values illustrate everything that is wrong with civilizer society. And they're really funny to read -- especially out loud.

This series is high on my must-read list. I've got to make sure I get a copy of Book 3 (Amazon says it should be out in May of this year) so I can find out how this ends.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

No More Valedictorian?

Just heard on CNN that Pinellas County in Florida is no longer awarding the valedictorian medal. A quick Blingo search revealled that many other school districts are doing the same. "It's too competative," they say. "We want to emphasize that everyone is equal."

Time to pull out my favorite short story. "Harrison Bergeron" should be required reading for teachers AND students. It shows us that, no matter how bad competition might be, and no matter how much better we all feel if everyone is equal, it really doesn't work in real life. We need to accept the fact that there are people who excel, and people who don't. The people who do are going to be rewarded for their abilities in life, and the people who don't won't be rewarded.

Mainstreaming in education has given us a society that accepts mediocrity. There are no more "honors" or "advanced" classes, so there is no motivation to achieve. Smart kids get good grades with little effort. Kids who need the help don't get it, because there are too many other kids in the classes who don't need help. Teachers can't spend class time focusing on one or two kids who don't get it. They can't spend class time trying to challenge the gifted kids. The majority of their time has to be spent with the majority of the kids.

When I was in school, there was no mainstreaming. The advanced kids were in advanced classes. We did more work, and wrote more papers. We were challenged. The kids who needed extra help got that help, because they were in separate classes. And we actually learned things -- all of us did.

We are so worried about offending someone, telling them that they aren't "gifted" or that they need extra help, that we are sabotaging their education. We worry more about self-esteem than self-sufficiency. And then we wonder why our kids don't learn.

This needs to change. We need to reward performance, and do something to help kids who aren't performing. We need to give kids something to shoot for, rather than making the target so big that anyone can hit it.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 03:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Local Church Autonomy -- the 'A' in Baptist

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.From the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message
The autonomy of the local church is one of the distinctions that separate Baptists from most other Protestants. There is no centralized authority that has any jurisdiction over a local church -- the churches decide individually what doctrines they adhere to, what they teach and preach, what materials they use, etc.

Even within the Southern Baptist Convention, each local church is autonomous. The national Convention does not tell us what to do -- in fact, the purpose of the convention each year is for the local churches to establish the direction of the Convention as a whole.

But is it Biblical? Briefly, let me offer some Biblical support for the idea of local church autonomy.

1. Election of Officers and Appointment of Ministers. In Acts 6 we see the local church in Jerusalem appointing seven deacons, to oversee the ministry of that local church. As we read further in Acts (chapter 13), we see the local church in Antioch appointing Paul and Barnabas as ministers, and sending them as missionaries. There is no ruling body that appoints the pastor of an individual church.

Sometimes I think it would be much easier for the churches if there was someone else who hired the pastor. Imagine -- no more pastor search committees, no more trial sermons, no more need for an interim pastor. And no more pastors leaving for "another ministry." You get the preacher that the denomination says you get, and he stays until the denomination says he goes. Easy -- but I'm not sure that's the Biblical model. Individual churches ministering within their own communities know best what their needs are, and who can best meet those needs.

2. Local Church Discipline. Matthew 18 tells us how we are to deal with a brother who sins -- and it doesn't involve denominational action. It involves the local church meeting with him to discuss the problem. It involves the local pastor trying to restore that person. And ultimately it involves separation from an unrepentant individual.

3. Local Churches taking care of each other. When the church in Jerusalem needed financial help, Paul didn't go to the disciples and get them to issue a command to all Christians to help. Paul went to individual churches, presented the need, and asked for help. And each individual church gave as it could. Same thing when Paul needed financial help in his missionary journies -- he asked for help from the local churches, and each gave as they could.

The problems John had that we read about in 3 John were with a local church. John certainly had authority to simply order that church to excommunicate Diotrephes, but he didn't do that. He went to the church to take care of the matter:

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
(3 John 1:9-10 ESV)
John brings it before the local church, relying on them for appropriate discipline.

Local church autonomy is important. It allows local churches to function in their community without outside interference. BUT it is not what I would consider an "essential doctrine." I wouldn't get into a huge fight over it, and certainly wouldn't separate over it. But it is a Baptist distinctive, and one I believe in.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

IMB Event Horizon

In his immortal classic Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, in book 2, Douglas Adams writes of a world whose economy was crushed because of something called "Shoe Event Horizon."

Many years ago this was a thriving, happy planet - people, cities, shops, a normal world. Except that on the high streets of these cities there were slightly more shoe shops than one might have thought necessary. And slowly, insidiously, the number of the shoe shops were increasing. It's a well-known economic phenomenon but tragic to see it in operation, for the more shoe shops there were, the more shoes they had to make and the worse and more unwearable they became. And the worse they were to wear, the more people had to buy to keep themselves shod, and the more the shops proliferated, until the whole economy of the place passed what I believe is termed the Shoe Event Horizon, and it became no longer economically possible to build anything other than shoe shops.

I was looking through my blog stats today, and was kind of surprised by what I saw. Ever since I started blogging about the IMB/Wade Burleson controversy, my hits have increased by about 20% each day. Now, that's not as big an increase as it sounds, but it's still significant. The number of hits I get from searches on the subject, and from other blogs who are talking about it, is fascinating to me.

It got me thinking about the Shoe Event Horizon, and it's application to blogging. There are some events and some subjects that, once people start blogging them, end up taking on a life of their own. Traffic increases, and bloggers, being the attention hounds that we are, write more about that subject. Blogs start up just on that subject. And it continues.

I'm not saying that the topics aren't important -- I think that this current controversy is very important for all Southern Baptists , especially those of us who are going to be in Greensboro this year. It's just an interesting sociological phenomenon. I think that we're close to the IMB Event Horizon, where many of us aren't willing to write on any other subject lest we lose the new audience that we've found. I wonder how many will stick around ...

I wonder if the Internet will ever hit Blog Event Horizon -- where there are so many blogs that it becomes unfeasable for anyone to introduce any 'Net application not geared toward bloggers. Of course, some people think we're already there.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 24, 2006

Quick Questions

Just a question or two for the more politically saavy:

Which is a bigger drain on American jobs -- illegal immigrants who are taking jobs that we really don't want to do anyway, or corporations who are taking jobs overseas by the hundreds legally?

What is middle class? Lou Dobbs says that the Ford layoffs are a blow to the middle class families in America. Union auto workers make $45 to $50 per hour -- that's between $90,000 and $100,000 per year. If that's middle class, then I'm living in abject poverty.

When did they end the earned income tax credit? Oh -- they didn't? Then why do I hear so much about tax breaks for the poor? They pay no taxes.

Just ranting here. I'll do some real blogging later on. I don't do politics very much (unless you count the SBC stuff I've been doing lately), so every so often I have to vent.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 07:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

The Digital Content Protection Act of 2006?

From the EFF:

Fair use has always been a forward-looking doctrine. It was meant to leave room for new uses, not merely "customary historic uses." Sony was entitled to build the VCR first, and resolve the fair use questions in court later. This arrangement has worked well for all involved -- consumers, media moguls, and high technology companies.

Now the RIAA and MPAA want to betray that legacy by passing laws that will regulate new technologies in advance and freeze fair use forever. If it wasn't a "customary historic use," federal regulators will be empowered to ban the feature, prohibiting innovators from offering it. If the feature is banned, courts will never have an opportunity to pass on whether the activity is a fair use.

Fair use redefined. "Historic use" will kill innovation. "Historic use" is a joke. Write your senator about this now while it's still in draft.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

Exposing Sin, Applying Grace

From the Reformation 21 blog, quoting Sinclair Ferguson:

Truth to tell, exposing sin is easier than applying grace; for, alas, we are more intimate with the former than we sometimes are with the latter. Therein lies our weakness.

I think this explains why so many Christians do what they do. Why we leave our wounded on the battlefield. Why we'd rather find reasons to separate from each other than find ways to work together. We'd rather expose sin.

Sometimes I think it's simply because we like to know that other Christians are sinning -- even doing things worse than what we do ourselves. We'd rather expose the preacher down the street for his financial problems than deal with the fact that we cheat on our taxes. We'd rather hear about how the televangelist was caught in sexual sin than deal with our own addiction to pornography. It makes us feel better if someone else is doing it, too.

We also do it because we get hurt when people are exposed. We're angry when our favorite preacher is exposed as a mere human, dealing with temptations daily. We feel let down, we're hurt, and we want them to pay. So we pile on. And we hunt others that have the same problem. We don't want to extend grace.

And we do it because we've been attacked ourselves. I see this in many of the comments on the IMB/Wade Burleson controversy: former Southern Baptists who are feeling vindicated now that the dogs have been loosed once again. Many of them are trying to keep their "Told ya'"s quiet, but it's clear from reading that the sentiment is there.

It's a self-perpetuating thing. We don't show grace, we aren't shown grace. We aren't shown grace, we don't show any. Somewhere, the cycle has to stop -- but we aren't willing to stop it.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 28, 2006

Where in the World is Coudersport?

For a while, I've been noticing something odd. Whenever my site logs ME in as a new visitor (sometimes the blocking cookie gets misplaced or deleted, I think), it shows me coming from Coudersport, Pennsylvania. I've never been there and have no idea where it is. I figured it was something odd with Statcounter, but it just happened on someone else's site.

I guess the IP number shows up as being based there. I figured it was pretty close, but I was wrong. It's over 450 miles from here, in northern Pennsylvania.

So I'm asking the techno-savvy readers out there -- WHY in the WORLD is it showing up like this????

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:09 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

One Year Anniversary

No, not mine, or even the blog's. I'm talking about the one year anniversary of the SBC Bloggers Aggregator. I started this off because of an idea Adrian Warnock came up with, to aggregate specific groups/denominations of bloggers so that people seeking a specific type of blog could find them easilly. I had a half dozen or so blogs to start off with, and wondered if it would ever really take off.

I just added my 40th member a few days ago. And you'll notice that none of the SBC big-wigs have been added yet. I decided that I would contact each blogger personally by email to invite them, or accept current SBC members who wanted to join. And I just haven't asked Al Mohler or Russ Moore if they want to join yet -- and the site has probably slipped under their radar. I'll get around to asking the SBC leadership if they want to be included later this year -- probably before the convention.

If you haven't read any of the blogs I've included in the aggregator, you need to head over there and do it. Things are hopping right now!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Prayer Request

Be in prayer for Dr. Al Mohler and his family. His father in law passed away this past week, and Dr. Mohler preached the funeral.

The sorrow of losing a parent is only tempered by the assurance that you will meet again in heaven.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

On Parents and Adoption

38 and a half years ago, a woman found out she was pregnant. She had become pregnant while separated from her husband -- and he was not the father. They had reconciled, but the child was now an uncomfortable reminder of something they both would rather forget.

She was not a teenaged girl experiencing her first pregnancy; she was a mother already, and in her thirties. She didn't have to answer to her parents for what she did. She wasn't concerned about what the father would say. She had options.

She chose to give the child up. To carry the baby in her womb for nine months, and deliver it. She delivered it on January 26, 1968, at a bit after 6 in the morning.

And never saw him again.

Just wanted to post a quick thanks, and let her know I turned out just fine.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 29, 2006

Podcasting Preachers

I am a huge proponent for churches having a podcast. I've been producing one for my own church (which hasn't been updated in a while, due to hosting issues, unfortunately), and I think it's a great way for local churches to expand their ministries to people who may never set foot in a church building.

One of my biggest gripes is that so few "big" preachers podcast. They have their tapes, which are offered on their web sites, but they don't have a podcast. The recording is there, but so many of them would rather charge people for it. I've never understood that. I've always chalked it up to a lack of understanding of what a podcast is.

One of my favorite preachers is podcasting now. Alistair Begg is offering daily podcasts of his radio show. Head over to the Truth for Life podcasting site and register. It's free, and they'll give you the RSS feed address so you can plug it into your favorite podcastcher. If you have iTunes, you can just search for Truth for Life in the podcast section and subscribe straight from there.

John MacArthur is also podcasting. You can subscribe to the GraceLife podcast using this RSS URL (thanks, Phil!)

Al Mohler also podcasts his daily radio show. More information is at his website -- the link to subscribe to the podcast is on the right.

Fill those iPods you got for Christmas with good programming. And don't forget about the Pewcast and Sunday at First Baptist -- I've just about got the hosting problems worked out, so both will be updated VERY soon!!!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 11:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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