Saturday, November 10, 2007
Congratulations to Me!
Just got back. I'm tired. Very tired. Shot this eight pointer early this morning.
Update: Okay. More details. Had about three and a half hours sleep Friday night. Poker and all that. Got up before dark and got out to the stand. View from stand is half in the woods and half out into the cornfield (in the picture). After about 45 minutes on the stand I was dozing off. Not a good thing mostly because a drop to the ground wouldn't be all that pleasant. Glanced over at the cornfield and saw the buck's rack moving around. Hello. Where did you come from? The thing with deer hunting: you almost never hear them, they just show up out of nowhere. (That's why you can listen to a book on your ipod, but not read a book while in the stand. Gotta keep looking. But don't necessarily need to hear.) The shot was on my right. Because I'm right-handed I couldn't turn sitting, so I had to stand up and pivot 180 degrees in order to bring my rifle up and check him out. Couldn't see how many points he was right away. Kept looking but the drying corn was making it hard. Can't take a 6-point buck. Illegal in Gasconade county. All I could see was 6 points. Not good. The buck kept walking and zig-zagging away from me heading to the other side of the cornfield. Finally, when he was on the other side of the field and out of the corn I saw the 2 extra points I was looking for. He was ready to head into the woods when I aimed and squeezed the trigger. Boom. 94 yards away (used rangefinder afterwards). Deer jumped up (as they usually do when you have a good shot) dashed into and over a wood pile and down a draw. I thought I had a good shot, so I got down immediately and went to see the blood trail. Followed it for a few feet and saw the buck down about 10 yards away. Turned out that it was a perfect heart shot. Yeah, I know. I'm good. That's what my wife says anyway. Oh yeah, rifle used: Weatherby Vanguard 30-06 w/3x9 Leupold VX-II scope.
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Impressive! Congratulations. Joanie
Congratulations and welcome back! I hope you got some rest in between getting up at bleary-0-clock in the morning...
I'm putting my questions here, but hopefully you can move them to whereever is appropriate.
I need to preface them with full disclosure also about my shift in direction in the last two weeks. As I've read through "The Federal Vision" and also read some of the online Federal Vision articles, I've come to some tentative conclusions:
(1) The furor over Covenant of Works, merit, and the Imputation of Active Obedience are primarily second-order issues and primarily semantic in nature. I have been sharpened in my own thinking about these issues, and take positions that are worded differently from the FV position paper, but with regard to them, I'm prepared to accept the FV position paper as within the scope of Reformed orthodoxy.
(2) The objectivity of the covenant, meanwhile, has become a great concern to me. When I first read of it, I thought it was speaking primarily of a "judgment of charity." I have come to realize that that is not the case. So the questions below are primarily concerned with this issue of objectifying the covenant, what that might mean, its Biblical moorings, and so on.
Because of the nature of my concern, the questions are more "objectional" in nature rather than open-ended. That's just the way I learn; it's not an attempt to force you into something. But also, my objections are a reflection of the obstacles I currently have to seeing the "objectivity of the Covenant" as a Biblical, Confessional doctrine (with high priority on the former!).
As I wrote to Jared over at Green Baggins, my current understanding of Wilkins' exegesis of Eph. 1 is that it is outside Biblical and Confessional boundaries. I may be misunderstanding it (hence these questions), but what I *think* I understand is of serious concern.
I say that in the spirit of disclosing where I am with the issues. I have no interesting in joining a witch-hunt.
If you're tired of dealing with objections, I fully understand.
(1) On p. 56 of "The Federal Vision", Lusk says in reference to the Ephesian church, "We have to remind ourselves that he was ... stating what was objectively true of all those in the church in Ephesus."
How do we know this? In our churches, the level of attachment to the body is objectively highly variable. We have visitors, members in good standing, members who appear to be in the process of falling away -- two are under my care at this moment :( --, members who are apostate but not yet excommunicated. It seems entirely possible that Paul was speaking to a subset of the Ephesian church, especially in light of what he says to them in ch. 1 and 2 (see below). Further, because he addresses them as "the faithful in Christ Jesus", it is entirely conceivable that he might mean the faithful subset of the church.
So the first question is, what is the exegetical basis for asserting that the various epistles are addressed to all members of the church without exception? Or, are there exceptions, and how would one define those?
(2) In a similar vein, Wilkins says, in reference to Rom. 8.28-34 that the "elect" are NOT "some unknown group called the elect", but "all the members of the Church who have been baptized and united to Christ" (57), and of whom Wilkins says "if they later reject the Savior, they are no longer elect -- they are cut off from the Elect One and thus lose their elect standing" (58).
Now, I think I understand that Wilkins makes a clear distinction between decretal election and covenant election, and that he is referring to the latter and not the former.
That is to say, I believe I understand that Wilkins means that God has not necessarily foreordained each and every Roman or Ephesian church member to be finally justified; but he has foreordained each and every Roman or Ephesian church member to be united to Christ and receive benefits thereby.
But here's the question. In the case of the Ephesians, one of the mentioned blessings is "being marked with the Holy Spirit, a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance." And yet on Wilkins' account, it appears that the inheritance is not guaranteed. And again in Romans, those who are called are predestined to be conformed to the likeness of the Son, and are "glorified." Both of those are eschatological, not historical, events. Yet Wilkins seems to say that not all who are predestined to be conformed will in fact be conformed.
So my question is this: how does "covenantal election" work with respect to characteristics that appear to be eschatological (and thus, apparently, should be true only of the "decretally elect")?
In practical and Biblical terms, how is it that one who is "predestined to adoption" fails to be finally adopted?
Or put yet a third way, how can God guarantee someone's inheritance and simultaneously decree him to not to inherit (since we all agree that apostasy is according to God's decrees)?
(3) Wilkins reads John 15.1 - 8 to refer to branches that are all savingly united with Christ, yet some fall away. He argues,
The distinction of 'external' and 'internal' union sems to be invented and is not in the text. All the branches are truly and vitally joined to the vine. All can and should be fruitful (63).
And yet, when Jesus discusses lack of fruit in other contexts, he notes that trees that bear bad fruit do so because they are bad trees (Matt 7.15-20), or that plants that fail to bear fruit do so because they could not do so (Matt. 13.1-24 and again 25-30).
And further, the FV advocates agree that lack of perseverance is, in the end, a decree of God.
So here's the question: if all branches "can" bear fruit, then why do some not do so? And if we allow a distinction on this basis (whatever it may be), then what is the objection to making a distinction between "externally" and "internally" connected branches? Would that not be a distinction that is implicitly within the text, the distinction between those whom God has chosen to persist and bear fruit through the power of the Spirit, and those whom God has chosen to pass over and therefore who do not have the power of the Spirit and who therefore do not bear fruit?
(4) With regard to baptism, efficacy, and assurance, Lusk argues thus:
A sacrament, by definition, includes the thing signified. Thus, there can be no such thing as an "inner" baptism that takes place apart from an outward sign, just as there can be no "outer" or "ritual" baptism that is a sign only, without any accompanying work of the Spirit. God does not (in Calvin's words) "mock us"; the sign of baptism is the sure bearer of Christ's salvation.
How do we know this? That is, what is the Scriptural basis for it?
For I can provide a fairly robust counter-argument to any similar claim about circumcision.
Circumcision of the flesh was distinguished both in the OT (Deut. 30.6) and the NT (Rom. 2.28,29) from circumcision of the heart. There *was* most certainly an "inner" circumcision as well as an "outer" circumcision, and the two were not conflated.
Nor did the external circumcision provide assurance of the internal. In fact, external circumcision is said to be "worthless" unless it corresponds to a faith working through love.
Nor was it said of circumcision that that which it symbolized (cutting away of the sin nature) was included in cutting away of the flesh. One of the major polemic thrusts of Paul was to try to get Jews and Judaizers to recognize that circumcision was not equivalent to being brought within the covenant.
Further, the promise of God to Abraham to be a God to his descendants was not so inexorably tied to circumcision that its efficacy depended on the external sign. In my case, in my Baptist years, I was a "covenant child" (that is, one who believed and worshiped God from the heart) long before I made a public profession of faith and was baptized! The same was true of the believing Jews who accompanied Joshua into Canaan and who had to be circumcised beforehand. The same was true of Abraham, who was justified by faith prior to his circumcision, and therefore became a type for us, who are justified by faith in the same way (Rom. 4).
So in the Scriptures, one sees that circumcision is not a sufficient condition for being in covenant with God; nor is it a necessary condition. The only thing that one sees that is certain is that a refusal to be circumcised is prima facie evidence of rejection of the covenant -- and hence, such a one should be cut off from the covenant (Gen. 17).
Assuming that circumcision and baptism work according to the same rules, it would seem that there should be a distinction between an "inner" and "outer" baptism.
So while I would affirm what the Confession says about baptism, I would strongly dispute Lusk's conflation of the sign and the thing signified.
Hmm...is this really a question? I guess not. Well, the question would be this: what is the Biblical basis for claiming that the sign includes the thing signified? What is your take on my objections?
(5) Lusk's paper on future justification, found at Mark Horne's site, raises significant alarm bells with me. The clearest way of putting those bells that I can think of is this:
It appears that Lusk confuses the necessity of works for justification (a logical outcome of the fact that all who are united with Christ will partake of His Spirit and therefore will produce the fruits of His Spirit as per Gal. 5), and works as the ground for our justification.
I understand (I think!) his arguments in favor of the latter; but those arguments do not persuade me.
My question is this: does the Federal Vision include a belief that our "works combine with our faith to produce justification"? Or is that Lusk's particular position?
Thank you for your time and patience with these questions.
Grace and peace,
Good buck. Way to go.
Nice buck. Congrats!
Now, why is it illegal to kill a 6-point buck in Gasconade County?
Wow, that looks nice. Hey, you can get one at 600 yards with one of these...
That's a good looking buck. The pictures don't do it justice. It looked much bigger in person.
There's an antler restriction in some MO counties. They do it to manage the harvest. Keeps people from killing too many smaller bucks.
Oh man, I made the mistake of showing the boys the photograph and now they are all mad and asking me all kinds of questions about why people hunt, etc. Anyway, don't be surprised if they interrogate you about this on Sunday :)
Why people hunt? They die a better death when shot carefully by a hunter than if they were to starve to death because of overpopulation. Carefully managed hunts keep the population down so that the deer don't die of starvation.
Deer find their fulfillment in giving themselves for man's pleasure. They live to die for us, just like many other animals. It's their created purpose and they revel in it.
That's what I told them. Then N started blaming people for eliminating the predators that used to eat deer... Oy. Anyway, I'll keep working on him.
That's a real issue in MD. We have an ongoing conservation effort for black bears.
The deer OTOH ... yikes. They hang out on the side of our road.
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