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2012 Annual Biblical Horizons Conference.

Dates: 16-20 July, Monday evening to Friday noon.

Topic: Back to Basics.

        Peter Leithart: Gratitude and Thanksgiving.
        Jeff Meyers: The Ministry of the Church as Priest, King, and Prophet.
        James Jordan: Basics of Biblical Worldview.
        Toby Sumpter: Children and the Kingdom

Worship: Sung Vespers each evening; Psalm Roar in the mornings.

Film: The Complete Metropolis. With the discovery of the missing 25 minutes in Argentina two years ago, it is now possible to view the entire 2 and 1/2 hour film for the first time since 1927. James Jordan will lead discussions of the remarkable use of Biblical and Christian imagery and symbolism. Metropolis argued that it is the church and acts of Christian sacrifice that alone can reconcile workers and capitalists, and prevent communist revolution.

Price: $100 per adult. $75 per high school or college student. $125 for families.

Youth Conference?: Friday night and Saturday morning. Since many young people stay over from BH with the intention of going to the CREC Youth Conference in Texas, we may have a meeting of the RPZTL* this year and present material on how to think Christianly about the present world.*RPZTL: The BH youth arm: the Righteous Power Zombie Terror League (Righteous in Christ; Powerful in the Spirit; Dead, yet Alive; Wise in the Fear of the Lord; Leagued in the covenant).

Contact: jbjordan4@cox.net


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Here are three issues in regard to the Eastern Church.

First, here is the quote from Bavinck’s The Doctrine of God, page 317, Banner of Truth edition (1977) under the heading of Inter-Personal Relations.

The Greeks derived the unity of God’s essence and the unity of the persons not from the divine nature as such, but from the person of the Father. He is the only ‘originating cause.’ The three persons are not viewed as three relations within one essence, the self unfoldment of the Godhead, ‘but the father is viewed as the one who imparts his being to the Son and to the Spirit. As a result, the Son and the Spirit are so coordinated that both in the same manner have their ‘originating cause’ in the Father. In both, the Father reveals himself. The Son causes us to know God; the Spirit causes us to delight in him. The Son does not reveal the Father in and through the Spirit; neither does the Spirit lead us to the Father through the Son. The two are more or less independent of each other; each leads to the Father in his own peculiar way. Thus, orthodoxy and mysticism, mind and will are placed in antithetical relation to one another. And this peculiar relation between orthodoxy and mysticism characterizes the religious attitude prevailing in the Eastern Church. Doctrine and life are separated: doctrine is for the mind only; it is the fit object of theological speculation. Next to it and apart from it there is another fountain of life, namely the mysticism of the Spirit. The fountain does not have knowledge as its source but has its own distinct origin and nourishes the heart. Thus a false relation is established between mind and heart; ideas and emotions are separated, and the link that should bind the two in ethical union is lacking.


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Elsewhere on the blogosphere men are mocking the wearing of collars and albs to lead in worship. When it is pointed out that historically Reformed ministers have worn daily uniforms and robes in worship, it is replied that that was then and this is now. We ought to conform to our age. Bah, humbug.


1. We don’t follow the world; we lead it.


2. We don’t conform to culture; we change it.


3. We don’t take up our ideas from what gooey liberal and gooey evangelical churches do or don’t do; we get our instructions from the Bible.


4. Jesus had a special and very valuable tunic (John  19:23-24). Compare Exodus 28:40. Jesus’ special tunic and several pieces of outer garments correspond closely to the special garments of the priests. Apparently these most modern of bloggers have got better sense in how to dress than did their Lord. They might take their cue from the doctrine of union with Christ and what that might mean for them as officers in the army of the Lord of Hosts.


5. Back in the day when clergy wore uniforms and the Church was an army, we were well on the way to world conquest. Compare today.

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Stellman June 6, 2012 1:01 PM
> Dave, > Jason
> I am surprised this is so hard for me to communicate effectively. Prosecuting Leithart while inwardly struggling with my questions was easy, because the issue
was NEVER “Whose views are correct?” In a Reformed denomination we all operate
under the supposition that our doctrinal standards give us the Bible’s system of
doctrine, and we’ve all made vows to that effect.
> I could have been a militant Muslim and prosecuted Leithart, because from
where I sat, his views were outside the pale of the Confession and Catechisms.
My own inward struggles had nothing to do with anything, they were a completely
separate matter.

Rosenstock-Huessy contended that schizophrenia was the paradigmatic mental illness of modernity, because it was the carrying of “objectivity” to its logical conclusions. Rosenstock-Huessy is in a sense following along after Chesterton when he said that insanity was not the loss of reason, but when reason is all that one is left with. Chesterton was referencing a paranoid, and Rosenstock-Huessy, schizophrenia, but both may be diseases of rationalistic modernity (post modernity will have different illnesses).

What Rosenstock-Huessy meant was that the schizophrenic is the one who carries objectivity so
far forward that he does away with his own subjective being, and his very person, or ex-person, becomes only an object to be observed along with everything else. He gives as an example the professor who wanted to be wired to be able to watch, through his own brain, brain surgery being done on him.


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The great True Catholic historian, Philip Schaff, points out as regards the beginning of prayers to the saints in the post-Nicene Church:

Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Volume III, Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity A.D. 311-390, P. 409-427).

In the first three centuries the veneration of the martyrs in general restricted itself to the thankful remembrance of their virtues and the celebration of the day of their death as the day of their heavenly birth. This celebration usually took place at their graves.

So the church of Smyrna annually commemorated its bishop Polycarp, and valued his bones more than gold and gems, though with the express distinction:

“Christ we worship as the Son of God; the martyrs we love and honor as disciples and successors of the Lord, on account of their insurpassable love to their King and Master, as also, we wish to be their companions and fellow disciples.” Here we find this veneration as yet in its innocent simplicity.

But in the Nicene age it advanced to a formal invocation of the saints as our patrons (patroni) and intercessors (intercessores, mediatores) before the throne of grace, and degenerated into a form of refined polytheism and idolatry. The saints came into the place of the demigods, Penates and Lares, the patrons of the domestic hearth and of the country.

As once temples and altars to the heroes, so now churches and chapels came to be built over the graves of the martyrs, and consecrated to their names (or more precisely to God through them). People laid in them, as they used to do in the temple of Aesculapius, the sick that they might be healed, and hung in them, as in the temples of the gods, sacred gifts of silver and gold. Their graves were, as Chrysostom says, more splendidly adorned and more frequently visited than the palaces of kings.

Banquets were held there in their honor, which recall the heathen sacrificial feasts for the welfare of the manes. Their relics were preserved with scrupulous care, and believed to possess miraculous virtue.

Earlier, it was the custom to pray for the martyrs (as if they were not yet perfect) and to thank God for their fellowship and their pious example. Now such intercessions for them were considered unbecoming, and their intercession was invoked for the living.

This invocation of the dead was accompanied with the presumption that they take the deepest interest in all the fortunes of the kingdom of God on earth, and express it in prayers and intercessions.

This was supposed to be warranted by some passages of Scripture, like Luke xv. 10, which speaks of the angels (not the saints) rejoicing over the conversion of a sinner, and Rev. viii. 3, 4, which represents an angel as laying the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne of God.

…the New Testament…furnishes not a single example of an actual invocation of dead men…But the New Testament expressly rebukes the worship of the angels (Col. ii. 18; Rev. xix. 10; xxii. 8, 9), and furnishes not a single example of an actual invocation of dead men; and it nowhere directs us to address our prayers to any creature. Mere inferences from certain premises, however plausible, are, in such weighty matters, not enough.

The intercession of the saints for us was drawn as a probable inference from the duty of all Christians to pray for others, and the invocation of the saints for their intercession was supported by the unquestioned right to apply to living saints for their prayers, of which even the apostles availed themselves in their epistles.

But here rises the insolvable question: How can departed saints hear at once the prayers of so many Christians on earth, unless they either partake of divine omnipresence or divine omniscience?

And is it not idolatrous to clothe creatures with attributes which belong exclusively to Godhead? Or, if the departed saints first learn from the omniscient God our prayers, and then bring them again before God with their powerful intercessions, to what purpose this circuitous way? Why not at once address God immediately, who alone is able, and who is always ready, to hear His children for the sake of Christ?

Augustine felt this difficulty, and concedes his inability to solve it. He leaves it undecided, whether the saints (as Jerome and others actually supposed) are present in so many places at once, or their knowledge comes through the omniscience of God, or finally it comes through the ministry of angels.

He already makes the distinction between latreiva, or adoration due to God alone, and the invocatio (douleiva) of the saints, and firmly repels the charge of idolatry, which the Manichaean Faustus brought against the catholic Christians when he said: “Ye have changed the idols into martyrs, whom ye worship with the like prayers, and ye appease the shades of the dead with wine and flesh.”

Augustine asserts that the church indeed celebrates the memory of the martyrs with religious solemnity, to be stirred up to imitate them, united with their merits, and supported by their prayers, but it offers sacrifice and dedicates altars to God alone.

Our martyrs, says he, are not gods; we build no temples to our martyrs, as to gods; but we consecrate to them only memorial places, as to departed men, whose spirits live with God; we build altars not to sacrifice to the martyrs, but to sacrifice with them to the one God, who is both ours and theirs.

But in spite of all these distinctions and cautions, which must be expected from a man like Augustine, and acknowledged to be a wholesome restraint against excesses, we cannot but see in the martyr-worship, as it was actually practiced, a new form of the hero-worship of the pagans.

Nor can we wonder in the least. For the great mass of the Christian people came, in fact, fresh from polytheism, without thorough conversion, and could not divest themselves of their old notions and customs at a stroke.

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One of the most beautiful promises of Scripture is Zephaniah 3.17: “Yahweh your God is in your midst; the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.”

This is the portrait of a loving Father, and it is something that we need to internalize – not only as Church leaders, but as congregational members.

If we ask the question: “How often is there something in my life that God could be correcting?” – the answer would have to be, “Always.” Even the strongest believers in this life are en route, are taking a journey in spiritual growth, and are immature in a host of areas.

The shepherds of the flock have a special calling to be aware of the needs of the sheep. And that awareness involves discerning where the flock needs correction and growth.

But while that is true, we must remember this: God does not correct everything at once. If He did, we would melt with fervent heat, and have no time to enjoy life with Him.

God is in our midst, and He delights in us; He makes quiet time for us; He even sings in celebration over us.

That doesn’t mean that He ignores our sins and weaknesses, or that they do not matter.

But it does mean that He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103.14).

If you are a loving and wise parent, you should be able to understand this. If you look at your child, you can see many things that need work. There are sins and immaturities that you have your eye on.

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The following is R.R. Reno’s foreword to The Glory of Kings: A Festschrift in Honor of James B. Jordan, edited by Peter J. Leithart and John Barach.

James B. Jordan is remarkable. There are plenty of Bible preachers in America who know the Scriptures well. Lots of professors read books in philosophy, history, and literature and have all sorts of interesting things to say about culture. Pundits cultivate a sharp, pungent, and readable style. But Jim is perhaps unique. Who else writes detailed interpretations of the Book of Daniel and quotes Allen Tate’s poetry? Who else can give a lecture on echoes of Leviticus in the apocalyptic vision of Zechariah and then chat over cigars about Friedrich von Hayek and Richard Weaver? Moreover, who can cover such a range with vivid images, punchy tag lines, and memorable turns of phrase? Not many, which is why I’ve come to think of Jim Jordan as one of the most important Christian intellectuals of our day.

Jim knows a great deal, but I have no doubt that the electricity in his writing and conversation come from his biblical vision. He does something remarkable. He takes the cultic core of the Old Testament—Temple and Priesthood, altar and sacrifice—and reads it into the full sweep of the biblical witness. The result is not the usual sort of “theological” interpretation we’re all familiar with: Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Testament explained by way of warmed-over theologies of substitutionary atonement or observations that really amount to little more than restating New Testament passages. Instead, Jim takes texts such as Leviticus seriously on their own terms. He brings to life the intense concreteness of tabernacle and sanctuary, and he allows the prophets a retrospective restoration as well as a prospective anticipation. As Jim has helped me see, the Scriptures are forever reaching back and renewing even as they reach forward to fulfillment in Christ.

Read the rest of Reno’s forward at First Things.

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Hymn Bark is a series designed to purify our good hymns from errors, and purge some bad ones. Here is chapter 2:

Not really much wrong with this hymn, though I wish musicians would teach the congregation how to sing it. Routinely the note at the end of line 3 is changed, which hurts the musical diversity and melodic intensity of the hymn.

The only problem is “all the saints adore Thee, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea.” This is based on a misinterpretation of Revelation 4-5. The Elders in that passage are not saints, for Jesus has not ascended and there are no saints in heaven. They are angels, specifically the 24 Archangels that correspond in heaven to the 24 courses of Temple priests and the 24 courses of Temple musicians. We could change to “angels all adore Thee,” but I recommend just sticking with Biblical language and changing to “elders all adore Thee.”

So, get out those pencils.

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I begin here a series of criticisms of hymns commonly sung in Reformed and Presbyterian circles. I begin with the hymn “I bind myself,” commonly called “The Lorica.

There is only one textual problem with the usual sung version of this, and that is the phrase “eternal rocks.” Obviously that phrase is heretical, and all Patrick wrote was “firmness of rock.” We should cross it out in our hymnals and substitute “enduring rocks.”

Musically, the tune used is St. Patrick (Stanford), also called St. Patrick’s Breastplate. The melody exists in two slightly different forms. The version originally published in Hymns Ancient and Modern is superior to the version in The English Hymnal, though unfortunately it is the latter that was used in the Cantus Christi hymnal. I suggest musicians obtain the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal (available from amazon.com) and play the version found there. It is only the opening line that is different, but the older version is much richer. (more…)

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2. What is the Covenant?

There are many and varied descriptions of what the Bible means by the word “covenant” (Hebrew: berith). We are tempted to write that there are as many definitions of “covenant” as their are covenant theologians. Because this is a short introductory book we shall not take up who said what, and argue for one view of another. Rather, we shall allow systematic and philosophical reflection on the Biblical data to help us rise to a full and broad understanding of covenant.

Clearly, a covenant is some kind of personal relationship that involves a bond and a structure. Such a bond is real — breaking it is painful, and this pain is the pain of death.1 Thus, we shall call it a bond of life or a living bond. At its most basic, then, a covenant is a personal and structural bond between two or more persons. We can see this in the marriage covenant, which involves two people, life-bonded together, in a structured relationship with the husband as head who gives himself sacrificially to the wife who subjects herself to him.

(footnote: Since God’s life is Triune, human beings made in his image experience death when they are isolated from other people and from God. See the book of Job. We too often think of “life” only as individual life, but there is no life apart from community. This means human life, for God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” even though God was with him (Genesis 2:18). Old people who live alone, widows and widowers, need cats and dogs to keep them company. Life does not exist in isolation, but only in bondedness with others. That is why those who are “alive” in hell are also “eternally dead,” for they are cut off from God and from all other persons.)

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